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New York A.G. pushes NFL to clarify position on sexual orientation

Eric Schneiderman AP

When reports surfaced of inappropriate questions being asked of incoming rookies at the Scouting Combine, the NFL responded.  New York’s attorney general wants more.

According to CNN, Eric Schneiderman sent a letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell seeking a clear commitment that players won’t be subjected to discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“Equal protection under the law is an essential issue for employers, employees and prospective job applicants,” Schneiderman wrote.  “For that reason, I ask that the league clarify its position by issuing a public statement that any form of discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation by league teams or their employees or agents against potential recruits or players constitutes a violation of state, local and, in some cases, contractual law, and will not be tolerated.”

Schneiderman is on the right track, but anyone can issue a strongly-worded statement containing comments that are fairly obvious.  Real change will come only if, for example, the NFL discloses the results of the investigation into questions posed to Colorado tight end Nick Kasa (including “do you like girls?”), including any discipline imposed.

Beyond that, acceptance of gay players will occur only after the persons in positions of power with the teams, not the league, establish the appropriate tone.  The owners, coaches, and General Managers need to say, unequivocally, that gay players are welcome on their teams, and that any discrimination or hostility in the workplace will not be tolerated.

Likewise, the NFL and the NFLPA should agree promptly to an expansion of the labor deal that permits significant punishment to be imposed on players who subject teammates known or suspected to be gay to physical or verbal intimidation or harassment.

If the NFL and its teams choose to make the creation of an appropriate atmosphere of acceptance a priority, the appropriate atmosphere will be created.  Until that happens, the fact that no gay player has come out of the closet should surprise no one.

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Falcons sign Stevan Ridley, release A.J. Hawk

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 01:  Stevan Ridley #35 of the Indianapolis Colts runs the football upfield against Chykie Brown #23 of the Cincinnati Bengals during their game at Paul Brown Stadium on September 1, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Falcons spent Monday coming up with plans to deal with running back Tevin Coleman’s injury and they addressed the need for other options by adding a pair of runners to the roster on Tuesday.

The team announced that they have signed veteran Stevan Ridley and promoted Terron Ward from the practice squad.

Ridley spent the summer with the Lions and Colts, but failed to crack the backfield rotation in either spot. He played eight games for the Jets last season, running 36 times for 90 yards after wrapping up rehab for the torn ACL he suffered with the Patriots in 2014. Ward played in 13 games for the Falcons last season.

To make room on the roster, the Falcons released linebacker A.J. Hawk and offensive lineman Mike Person. Hawk signed with the team a few weeks ago when they needed some depth due to injuries, but never saw a defensive snap and may be at the end of the line after 11 years in the NFL.

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DeMarcus Ware’s home is burglarized during Monday Night Football


Crooks with the brainpower of the Wet Bandits decided to burglarize the home of an NFL player while he was at a game.

“After a great win, came home to find my house was robbed,” Broncos linebacker DeMarcus Ware tweeted after Monday night’s 27-9 victory over the Texans. “Never about the material things for me but my safety. Thank God for hidden cameras.”

That’s right, Ware had hidden cameras in his house. Which, via the Denver Post, obtained clear images of the faces of the perps.

They were at least smart enough to wear blue gloves to conceal their fingerprints. They should have opted for masks, too.

Police said that “valuables” were taken from the home, but they did not specify what was stolen. Meanwhile, perhaps one of them will be selling a Broncos Super Bowl ring on eBay soon.

Through an account that creates no electronic paper trail. But with a picture of the ring that has his face reflected in it.

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Patriots trade A.J. Derby to Broncos

FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 18:  A.J. Derby #86 of the New England Patriots smiles on the sideline during a preseason game against the Chicago Bears in the second half on August 18, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

For the second time today, the Patriots have made a trade.

New England has sent tight end A.J. Derby to Denver, ESPN reports. The Broncos gave up a draft pick for Derby, likely a conditional late-round pick next year.

The Patriots drafted Derby out of Arkansas with a sixth-round pick in 2015. He spent his entire rookie year on injured reserve. He has played in four games this year, but only sparingly.

In Denver, Derby will add some depth at tight end and contribute on special teams.

New England also acquired linebacker Kyle Van Noy in a trade with the Lions. Trading Derby and acquiring Van Noy keeps the Patriots at 53 players on the roster.

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Bills promote rookie wide receiver Eagan

Green Bay Packers v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

The Bills have promoted rookie wide receiver Ed Eagan from the practice squad.

Eagan had spent the last four weeks on the Bills’ practice squad. The Bills released offensive tackle Michael Ola to make room for Eagan, who could see immediate action in a receiving corps that’s been hit hard by injuries.

Eagan, an undrafted rookie, spent the offseason with the Cowboys and Browns.

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Bill O’Brien: No thought to benching Brock Osweiler

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 24:  Quarterback Brock Osweiler #17 of the Houston Texans rushes for a first down before being tackled by cornerback Chris Harris #25 of the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 24, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Texans offense failed to produce a touchdown in Monday night’s loss to the Broncos and quarterback Brock Osweiler turned in the latest poor performance in a season that’s seen more of them than the Texans were hoping to see when they signed him to a four-year, $72 million contract as a free agent.

The Texans also weren’t hoping to hear any questions about whether they plan to stick with Osweiler as their starter, but coach Bill O’Brien got that query when he met with the media on Tuesday. O’Brien said that he has not considered turning to Tom Savage or Brandon Weeden while admitting that the quarterback and everyone else on the offense needs to do a better job.

“He’s a good player. I think he can play better, receivers can run routes better,” O’Brien said, via the Houston Chronicle. “It has to get better. I can’t really pinpoint one thing.”

Plenty of others have pinpointed Osweiler’s play as a major problem for the Houston offense and another bad outing against the Lions this weekend will send the Texans into a bye week where their quarterback’s struggles will continue to be a major issue.

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Anti-football crowd tries to wedge Arian Foster retirement into its #narrative

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Arian Foster #29 of the Miami Dolphins carries the ball during the first half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Have you heard that plenty of football players are walking away from football before football walks away from them? It’s the latest #narrative of the anti-football crowd. You know, that very real contingent of Fainaru-Wada-inspired media types who either want to see football go away or would prefer to see other sports eclipse it in popularity and profitability.

The anti-football crowd has made an appearance in connection with the abrupt retirement of running back Arian Foster, and the sentiment is best captured by this tweet from the New York Times: “Arian Foster is the latest N.F.L. star to walk away near the top of his game.”

Foster isn’t near the top of his game; he’s not even close to being near the top of his game. And he knows it. To his credit, Foster became one of the first to admit it. Typically (spoiler alert), aging players pay unintentional homage to Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense by becoming the last to realize their careers been dead, for a while.

Arian Foster isn’t Chris Borland or Robert Smith or even Calvin Johnson (who has suggested that he would have kept playing if the Lions were true contenders). Arian Foster, due to ongoing injuries and the sudden and significant emergence of Jay Ajayi, has simply acknowledged the obvious. He wasn’t going to be the guy he was a couple of years ago, when he rushed for more than 1,200 yards for the Texans. And the guy who led the league in rushing six years ago is long gone.

Foster deserves praise for admitting that the time has come. Precious few players are willing to come to grips with the fact that, essentially, part of their lives has died.

That’s still a far cry from the handful of players who decide to call it quits while they still are in their prime, with a tank containing enough gas to carry them for at least several more years, if not longer. But the anti-football crowd would never let that fact get in the way of a good #narrative.

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After trading one linebacker, Lions bring back Josh Bynes

Josh Bynes, Martellus Bennett AP

The Lions were already thin at linebacker, so when they traded linebacker Kyle Van Noy to the Patriots today, it seemed certain that acquiring another linebacker must be in the works.

That’s just what happened, as Josh Bynes is re-signing with the Lions, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports.

Bynes already knows Detroit’s defense, having played his entire five-year career for Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, first in Baltimore and then in Detroit. Last year Bynes played all 16 games for the Lions, with 11 starts. The Lions released him with an injury settlement in September, but now he’s healthy and ready to return. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Bynes on the field Sunday against the Texans.

Van Noy was a former second-round pick and a starter this year, but he was a disappointing player and the Lions were ready to move on from him: According to multiple reports, Detroit gave Van Noy up for just a swap of late-round picks, with the Lions getting the Patriots’ 2017 sixth-round pick in exchange for Van Noy and the Lions’ 2017 seventh-round pick.

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Josh Brown has potential claim against Giants, if he chooses to pursue it

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 06:  Josh Brown #3 of the New York Giants reacts after missing a game tying field goal in overtime against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on December 6, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  The Jets won by a score of 23-20. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images) Getty Images

Indefinite paid suspensions are a bad idea in the NFL, in part because in plenty of cases the teams will decide to convert those indefinite paid suspensions into permanent unpaid suspensions.

That’s precisely what the Giants have done to kicker Josh Brown. Faced with the prospect of paying him $72,058 per week until the NFL’s reopened investigation of Brown becomes a final, appealed suspension, the Giants have severed ties with Brown.

Sure, there’s a chance that the move was aimed at giving the team a sliver of moral high ground after nearly a weekly of gutter-level optics. Regardless of the specific reason(s) for the move, Brown has now been cut — which means that his NFL cash pipeline has been cut off, likely for good. No one will sign him until the outcome of the NFL’s reopened investigation is known, at the earliest. Even then, there’s a strong chance Brown eventually will become the new Ray Rice: Free and clear to play in the NFL, but shunned by all 32 teams.

Against that background, Brown must decide whether to pursue the balance of his 2016 salary from the Giants. While he’s a vested veteran, which ordinarily would give him the right to receive the rest of his 2016 salary as termination pay, he wasn’t on the 53-man roster as of Week One, due to his suspension.

With 10 weeks left in the season, the Giants owed Brown another $720,480 before cutting him. Brown can file a grievance, like Rice did, arguing that he already has been punished by the NFL for the May 2015 incident of domestic violence, that the league already has commenced the process of disciplining him for any other incidents of domestic violence (blocking the Giants from taking action), and that the Giants already knew or should have known about any and all of his alleged indiscretions before signing him to a two-year, $4 million deal earlier this year.

There’s a chance the Giants wouldn’t fight it, or that they’d do so half-heartedly, honoring their commitment to Brown but making the roster move in order to restore some sense of honor to an organization that typically exudes a sense that it peers down its nose at the team with which it shares stadium, along with the rest of the league.

Either way, Brown has rights. The league may eventually violate those rights. By cutting Brown for reasons clearly unrelated to his football abilities or to any new evidence of misconduct that wasn’t already available to the team, the Giants arguably already have.

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Jay Cutler on having John Fox’s confidence: “He doesn’t have a choice”

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 25: An injured Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears looks on from the sideline during a game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bears coach John Fox avoided promising quarterback Jay Cutler his job back while he was injured, so it makes sense that Cutler seems to realize his future in Chicago is something other than secure.

Cutler came back to practice Tuesday after missing five games with a right thumb injury, just in time to replace injured replacement Brian Hoyer, and was asked if he felt confident he had the support of his coach.

He doesn’t have a choice, I guess, at this point,” Cutler said, via Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune. “Brian is out, so I’ve got to go. I’ve had good conversations with Foxy this week, last week, the week before. There’s never been any strain in our relationship. We’re both very open and honest, and we’re on the same page. We just want to win football games.”

Asked about how he felt when Fox left the starting job open-ended while he was on the sideline and Hoyer was playing reasonably well, Cutler busted out one of Fox’s favorite cliches.

“It is what it is,” Cutler said. “Anytime you have a backup quarterback—and to Brian’s credit, he played well. I think as a team, we wish we would have won some more of those ball games. But Brian went in there and did a great job. My discussions with everybody that I have relationships with in here were positive, and whenever I was ready to go, I’d be ready to go.

“There was never any discussion regarding [whether I’d take back over] with me.”

It was a solid moment of #selfawareness from Cutler, who seems to get that he’s no longer the quarterback of the future there. He acknowledged as much, saying those would be conversations that happened at the end of the year, which is his eighth in Chicago.

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Terrell Suggs hopes to play after Ravens bye week

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 2:  Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates during player introductions before the game against the Oakland Raiders at M&T Bank Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Tuesday that he is hopeful that his knee will be feeling well enough for him to return to the lineup for the team’s Week Nine game against the Ravens.

His longtime antagonist Terrell Suggs wants to be on the other side of the ball. The Ravens linebacker tore his biceps late in a Week Six loss to the Giants and did not play against the Jets last Sunday, but was on the practice field for the Ravens’ bye week workout on Tuesday.

Suggs said he wants to play against the Steelers and said that the issue will be “pain tolerance” because he’s sure this isn’t a season-ending injury.

“Man, who am I? What team do I play for? I come from an area where this is just a bump in the road,” Suggs said, via the Baltimore Sun. “It may be season-ending for somebody else. It’s not season-ending for Ravens. I’ve played through it before. I told you all that. That was always the plan. Last time, I tore it [in 2012], I missed the first game. I came back and struggled through the second game. I slowly but surely got it back, and it came at a good time. We’ve got nine left. We’re still in second place in the [AFC North] division, and we can still do some things. I want to be here when we do that.”

Suggs only missed one game after tearing his biceps in 2012 and helped the team on their run to a Super Bowl title. This year’s Ravens team hasn’t shown many signs of going on that kind of run during their current four-game losing streak, but Suggs wants to be part of turning things around in Baltimore.

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Patriots acquire linebacker Kyle Van Noy from Lions

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 25: Eddie Lacy #27 of the Green Bay Packers is hit by Kyle Van Noy #53 of the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on September 25, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Lions and Patriots can work easily together, since Lions General Manager Bob Quinn used to work with Bill Belichick.

And now they’ve swapped a starter, a week ahead of the trade deadline.

In a deal that was broken by more ESPN reporters than people involved, the Lions sent linebacker Kyle Van Noy to New England. The compensation was not disclosed.

The former second-round pick from BYU in 2014 had finally moved into the starting lineup this year, starting all seven games.

The Patriots have a track record of taking other people’s misfits and making them contributors, which will give them the benefit of the doubt on this one.

The Patriots previously sent linebacker Jon Bostic to Detroit, and he’s on injured reserve with a foot injury (though he could return).

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John Mara on Josh Brown: Our decisions were misguided

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 13:  John Mara, CEO of Giants attends the AEG Live announcement of Paul McCarthy's concert at Met Life Stadium on April 13, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Giants released kicker Josh Brown on Tuesday, several days after the NFL placed Brown on the Commissioner’s-Exempt list in the wake of the release of documents from police in Washington detailing Brown’s abuse of his then-wife and several months after the team re-signed Brown despite the kicker telling them that he had been abusive.

Giants owner John Mara said last week that the team was not aware of the “extent” of the abuse when they opted to bring Brown back to the roster. In a statement accompanying the announcement of Brown’s release, Mara called that decision “misguided.”

“We believed we did the right thing at every juncture in our relationship with Josh,” Mara said. “Our beliefs, our judgments and our decisions were misguided.  We accept that responsibility. We hope that Josh will continue to dedicate himself to rehabilitation, and to becoming a better person and father.  We will continue to support him in his efforts to continue counseling, and we hope that Josh and his family can find peace and a positive resolution.”

The team also included a statement from Brown that featured much of the language he used in a statement released through Adam Schefter of ESPN earlier in the day. One notable change is that Brown’s first statement included his belief that it was “important to share that I never struck my wife” and the one released through the Giants makes no such equivocation from a man who wrote that he “physically, verbally and emotionally abused my wife.”

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Giants cut kicker Josh Brown

FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2013, file photo, New York Giants kicker Josh Brown reacts after missing a field goal during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. Brown admitted in journal entries and emails that he verbally and physically abused his wife, according to documents that were part of a domestic violence case obtained by SNY. Team spokesman Corry Rush declined comment Thursday morning, Oct. 20, 2016,  on the details that emerged from a case in Washington. Brown was arrested in May 2015 on a domestic violence allegation but no charges were filed against the 37-year-old player. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File) AP

The Giants made it clear they wanted as far away from Josh Brown as possible, when they left him home from their London game.

Today, they made it official.

The team announced that they were cutting the kicker, after admissions of abuse were released last week, casting them in an even worse light after they re-signed him this offseason knowing of the domestic violence allegations involving his then-wife.

Brown apologized to the Giants in a statement earlier today, but it obviously wasn’t enough for him to keep his job. He was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list, effectively paid leave, last week.

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Dolphins work out veteran safeties

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 04:  James Ihedigbo #32 of the Detroit Lions reacts after sacking Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys during the first half of their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at AT&T Stadium on January 4, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Dolphins lost safety Reshad Jones for the rest of the season due to a shoulder injury and they spent some time on Tuesday looking at veteran safeties who might be able to help them fill the hole that Jones left behind on their defense.

According to multiple reports, the Dolphins worked out James Ihedigbo, Major Wright and Sergio Brown.

Ihedigbo was a teammate of current Miami starter Isa Abdul-Quddus in Detroit and was actually benched in favor of Abdul-Quddus last season. He spent two years with the Lions and has also spent time with the Ravens, Patriots and Jets since entering the NFL in 2008.

Wright was cut by the Buccaneers in August and had a workout with the Panthers a short time later that ended without a contract. He played in 21 games and made nine starts for Tampa over the last two seasons. Brown spent a week with the Falcons this summer and played in 15 games for the Jaguars last season.

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Fan who fell from Sports Authority Field last night has died

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 24: A general view as fans cheer in the first half of the AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 24, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

The fan who fell out of Sports Authority Field at Mile High while leaving last night’s game has died.

According to Kirk Mitchell of the Denver Post, the office of the medical examiner confirmed the man’s death this afternoon.

The man fell last night around 11:44 p.m. ET, after the game with the Texans ended. He fell over a stairway railing from “an unknown height.”

Our thoughts are with the man’s family and friends.

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