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49ers owner says he has no evidence NFLPA survey exists

John York AP

Prior to the Super Bowl, the NFLPA proudly proclaimed that a survey of players showed that nearly all of them didn’t trust team doctors.

Now, the league is questioning whether the survey even happened, in essence accusing the union of making it up.

John York, the 49ers owner and the chairman of the league’s health and safety committee, threw gas on the fire by saying he hasn’t seen any evidence the survey exists.

“I haven’t seen it,” York said, via Jarrett Bell of USA Today. “The NFL Physicians Society has asked. The league has asked. And attorneys have asked. We haven’t gotten any type of positive response. . . .

“The anecdotal evidence of the players who have spoken out, have said they didn’t know anything about of the survey.”

The NFLPA was short on specifics when talking about the survey, never detailing how many players were polled, other than to say every team was represented.

The NFLPA replied Tuesday with a statement that took shots at York, but didn’t address the nature of his questions.

“Coming from the organization that denied Joe Montana’s workers compensation benefits for years, we are not concerned about the remarks about our player survey,” the statement read. “The day the NFL commits itself to taking care of players who have been injured at work is the day we begin to take these types of comments seriously.”

We could print more and more of the words, but it goes back to the basic problem the league and the union have on issues great and small. There’s an inherent mistrust in any union-management situation, and there probably should be.

But this relationship is so antagonistic at the moment, that things they seem to have agreed to, such as HGH testing, are hung up in a maze of arguments with no end in sight.

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Raiders re-sign S Charles Woodson

Charles Woodson AP

Charles Woodson is returning for a third season in his second stint with Oakland.

The Raiders announced Monday they had signed Woodson to a new deal covering the 2015 season.

The Raiders’ starting free safety, Woodson notched 113 tackles and intercepted four passes in 2014, his 17th NFL season. He turns 39 in October.

The No. 4 overall pick in the 1998 draft, Woodson played his first eight NFL seasons with Oakland before signing with Green Bay in 2006. Woodson went on to have a splendid seven-season run with the Packers, highlighted by Green Bay’s victory in Super Bowl XLV.

Woodson ranks 11th all-time in career interceptions (60).

 

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Report: NFL investigation has “zeroed in” on Patriots locker room attendant

Bill Belichick Blinds NFL WIth Science On Deflategate Getty Images

Last week, the NFL released a statement saying they were continuing their investigation into under-inflated footballs used by the Patriots during their AFC Championship game victory over the Colts to determine if the deflation was “the result of deliberate action” by the Patriots.

Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady both denied any knowledge of what happened and Belichick offered up an explanation via scientific experimentation on Saturday, but Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reports that the league has “zeroed in” on a team employee in their investigation.

Per Glazer, the league has interviewed a Patriots locker room attendant who allegedly took footballs from the officials locker room after they had been inspected and approved “to another area on way to field” before the start of the game. There’s reportedly video of this attendant with the balls, although Glazer adds that the league’s investigators are “still gauging” if the attendant, called a “strong person of interest,” had anything to do with the deflation.

The Patriots are on their way to Arizona right now. If anyone’s betting on the first question Belichick gets asked after arrival, it would probably be unwise to bet on anything other than Glazer’s report.

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Brandon Browner on Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman: Hit that shoulder, hit that elbow

Brandon Browner AP

Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner is in a very different position this year than he was at this point in 2014.

Browner was a member of the Seahawks, but he wasn’t getting ready to play in the Super Bowl because he was serving a suspension. During an interview with Josina Anderson of ESPN, Browner discussed how difficult it was to sit and watch his teammates beat the Broncos and how he didn’t feel like part of the festivities once they became champions.

Browner told Anderson he made a promise to himself to get back to the Super Bowl to remedy that feeling. Browner says he has no hard feelings for the Seahawks and remains friends with his fellow defensive backs, but that’s not stopping him from advising his teammates to go after Seahawks safety Earl Thomas’s injured shoulder or cornerback Richard Sherman’s injured elbow.

“At the end of the day, this is about the Super Bowl. I’m gonna tell my teammates ‘go hit that elbow,go hit that shoulder,'” Browner said. “Hit it, yeah. Try to break it if you can. You can be my best friend after the game but, at the end of the day, I know you want the Super Bowl just as bad as I do.”

Sherman practiced all of last week and Thomas returned to work on Friday, so they should both be on the field for the Patriots to attack this Sunday.

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Perry Fewell on to Washington in search for new job

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants Getty Images

When the Redskins were looking for a head coach in 2014, they interviewed Perry Fewell before hiring Jay Gruden.

Fewell was defensive coordinator of the Giants at the time, a job he lost at the end of the 2014 season thanks to a dismal performance by his unit on the way to a 6-10 finish. That’s left him in search of a new job and put him on the interview list for a different job in Washington.

Jordan Raanan of NJ.com reports that Fewell is interviewing for the defensive backs job on the staff of new coordinator Joe Barry. Raheem Morris had been in that role, but he’s reportedly agreed to a job in Atlanta. Fewell was a defensive backs coach before making the move to coordinator with the Bills in 2006.

Fewell also interviewed for a job on the 49ers staff and John Keim of ESPN.com reports that he’s making the trip to Washington with an offer from the team in his pocket. It would appear, then, that Fewell will be on someone’s staff come the start of next season.

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Michael Bennett: Gronk is NFL’s No. 2 tight end, after my brother

Michael Bennett AP

Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett says there’s only one tight end in the NFL better than Rob Gronkowski: Martellus Bennett.

Martellus, the Bears’ tight end, is Michael’s brother. So it’s probably safe to say that Michael is a little biased on that evaluation.

“I think Gronkowski’s the second-best tight end. My brother’s first, obviously,” Michael Bennett said.

Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane said last week that he doesn’t think Gronkowski is very good, but Bennett doesn’t agree with that.

“His body’s pretty good,” Bennett said of Gronk. “He’s a good blocker. I think he does great. I think his run-after-catch is second to none. I think he has great hands. He’s just a great player, honestly.”

Everyone except Lane would agree that Gronk is a great player. Even if Bennett can’t go quite so far as to call him the best tight end in the NFL.

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Vernon Davis offers his support for Rob Chudzinski

Rob Chudzinski AP

49ers tight end Vernon Davis apparently wouldn’t mind if the club went a certain way with its upcoming offensive coordinator hire.

At the very least, there’s a certain candidate he would like to meet.

As Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area notes, Davis posted a picture of Colts special assistant to the head coach Rob Chudzinski on Instagram on Monday with the following message:

“All I want for Christmas … is to meet #robchudzinski #OC”

Chudzinski, whose Colts contract is expiring, can start to talk to clubs about coordinator vacancies on Tuesday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported. The 49ers would like to interview Chudzinski, Schefter said.

The 46-year-old Chudzinski has experience coaching tight ends, and tight ends have done well in his offenses.

In Chudzinski’s lone season as Browns head coach in 2013, tight end Jordan Cameron went to the Pro Bowl, catching 80 passes for 917 yards and seven touchdowns. The previous season, Panthers tight end Greg Olsen hauled in 69 passes for 843 yards and five scores as Chudzinski called the plays for Carolina. Also, in Chudzinski’s first season as Browns offensive coordinator in 2007, Kellen Winslow had an 82-catch, 1,106-yard campaign.

The 30-year-old Davis had an injury-plagued and disappointing 2014 season, catching just 26 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns. However, in previous campaigns, he had been a vital and productive part of the San Francisco passing attack, making two Pro Bowls. He is slated to make $4.35 million in salary in 2015, per Rotoworld.

No matter how the 49ers proceed at offensive coordinator, getting more out of the tight end position is a must.

And Davis might have some suggestions about that.

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Aaron Hernandez jury seated, trial starts Thursday

Aaron Hernandez AP

The trial of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez on charges that he murdered Odin Lloyd in 2013 will begin on Thursday as a result of the blizzard bearing down on the Northeast.

A jury of 18 people — 13 women and five men — was selected on Monday in Fall River, Massachusetts, but the Hartford Courant reports that Judge E. Susan Garsh pushed back the intended Tuesday start date because the predicted snowfall is expected to leave the area digging out for the next couple of days.

Hernandez and two other men are accused of picking up Lloyd in a car early in the morning of June 17, 2013 and murdering him a short time later. The other men, Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace, will be tried separately.

Prosecutors recently submitted a petition for immunity for Shayanna Jenkins, Hernandez’s fiancee, in what’s believed to be a bid to get her to testify against Hernandez at the trial. Jenkins faces a charge of perjury related to the case, but, per the Courant, no immunity had been granted by Monday’s jury selection.

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Report: Richard Smith joining Raheem Morris on Falcons staff

Richard Smith AP

The Falcons continue to keep busy while waiting to officially make Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn their new head coach.

Albert Breer of NFL Media reports that Redskins defensive backs coach and former Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris has verbally accepted a spot on the team’s coaching staff, a move that was reported over the weekend. Breer also reports that Broncos linebackers coach Richard Smith will be coming on board.

The initial reports on Morris had him coming to Atlanta as the team’s defensive coordinator, but Breer reports he’ll be the assistant head coach and run the team’s pass defense. Smith will “likely” be the coordinator and run the team’s run defense, although Quinn’s background suggests he’ll play a big role in everything the defense does in Atlanta.

Smith was the defensive coordinator for the Texans from 2006-2008 and also ran the defense in Miami in 2005 for Nick Saban.

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Russell Wilson: Deflategate “had nothing to do with anything”

russellwilson AP

Like a lot of people, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson feels that he has heard enough about Deflategate.

Asked what he thinks it means that the Patriots allegedly deflated the footballs they used on offense against the Colts, Wilson said it’s a big nothingburger.

“It had nothing to do with anything,” Wilson said. “We’re not focused on that. We’re focused on playing our football and playing one play at a time, and trying to find a way to win the Super Bowl. . . . I don’t think the integrity of the game’s under assault or whatever you want to say. I think that we have a lot of great football players in this football league and we do things the right way.”

Asked if he does anything with the footballs the Seahawks use on offense, Wilson answered, “No.”

“In terms of the football pregame, I just want to have a football out there to throw. That’s all I look forward to,” he said. “All those distractions about the footballs have nothing to do with us.”

Whether Deflategate is a distraction for the Patriots remains to be seen, but the Seahawks are doing their best to say nothing that would turn it into a distraction for their team as well.

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Report: Raiders meet with Todd Grantham

Todd Grantham AP

A veteran NFL assistant currently in the college coaching ranks is reportedly on the Raiders’ radar for their defensive coordinator vacancy.

Dianna Marie Russini of NBC4 Washington reports Oakland is “meeting with” Louisville defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.

Grantham, 48, was the Browns’ defensive coordinator from 2005 through 2007. He also had NFL coaching stints with the Cowboys (2008-2009), Texans (2002-2004) and Colts (1999-2001).

Grantham is entering his second season with Louisville. He was Georgia’s defensive coordinator from 2010-2013.

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Colts parting company with RBs coach David Walker

Indianapolis Colts 2011 Headshots Getty Images

The Colts are making a coaching staff change.

Indianapolis has “mutually agreed to part ways” with running backs coach David Walker, the team said Monday morning.

The 45-year-old Walker had been with Indianapolis since 2011. He previously was an assistant at Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

The Colts have finished no better than 20th in rushing in the last four seasons. Injuries have hampered the club’s ground game in each of the last two campaigns, with Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw each missing significant stints. The club’s 2013 trade for Trent Richardson has also failed to work out, with the former No. 3 overall pick falling out of the Colts’ rotation by season’s end.

The new running backs coach is likely to have a role in the Colts’ evaluation of their tailback needs. The club seems likely to add a featured back this offseason, given its problems generating much of a rushing attack.

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PFT Live kicks off Super Bowl week at 12 p.m. ET

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Assuming you’ve been able to come down from the high that only the Pro Bowl can provide, it’s time to start looking forward to the main attraction in Glendale, Arizona.

It’s Super Bowl week and PFT Live will be there for all of it to make sure that you know everything you need to know about the Patriots and the Seahawks. And we’ll be making sure that you can watch us as well as listen to us as the entire three-hour show will be simulcast online all week long.

Scheduled to join Mike Florio on Monday’s show are Ross Tucker of NBC Sports, Peter King of Football Night in America and MMQB.com, Tom Curran of CSN New England, PFT’s own Michael David Smith and longtime Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel.

We also want to hear from PFT Planet. You can call the show by dialing 855-323-4NBC, email questions at any time via the O’Reilly Auto Parts Ask the Pros inbox or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app. And, again, you can also watch a simulcast of all three hours of the show by clicking right here.

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Tagliabue gives Goodell some advice, indirectly

Goodell Getty Images

A decade ago, Roger Goodell served as the right-hand man to former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.  A “wingman,” one unnamed executive recently told Gabriel Sherman of GQ in a new profile of Goodell.

By 2005, Goodell wanted to be the guy with the wingman.

He was getting impatient,” Tagliabue told Sherman, who noted without specifically quoting a source that Goodell was “agitating” for Tagliabue to relinquish the throne.  At one point, Goodell reportedly considered leaving for ESPN.

Now, as Goodell tries to guide the league and his own career through murky waters in large part of his own making, Tagliabue would be a great person to give him some advice — especially regarding, for example, challenges like how to deal with anecdotal evidence that a team may be underinflating footballs.  But Goodell doesn’t take advantage of the experience, knowledge, and expertise of his predecessor.

“We haven’t talked much since I left,” Tagliabue told Sherman. “It’s been his decision. Bountygate didn’t help.”

Tagliabue is referring to his role as the hearing officer in the appeals of the Saints players Goodell suspended in 2012.  Tagliabue overturned all punishments, based in part on a belief that it was unfair to selectively enforce the rules regarding a broader cultural phenomenon against only one small group of players.  The point?  If a certain practice has become widespread in the sport, catching and severely punishing one violator in the hopes that everyone else will clean up their act isn’t the best way to solve the problem.

Coincidentally (or not), that could be one of the basic realities of the latest rules controversy undermining the sport.  If the Patriots were causing footballs to be underinflated in order to make them easier to throw, they surely weren’t the only ones doing it.

But the Patriots have become the only ones investigated for it, and they likely will be the only ones disciplined for it — if the NFL ultimately can develop proof that something improper was occurring.  Even if the NFL finds no smoking gun, the cloud of suspicion will reside over the Patriots, indefinitely.

“There’s a huge intangible value in peace. There’s a huge intangible value in having allies,” Tagliabue explained to Sherman.

The shoot-first-ask-questions-later approach won’t promote peace or the development of allegiances.  In the bounty scandal, Goodell created enemies in New Orleans.  Now, he’ll have to choose between preserving whatever credibility he has left in the wake of the Ray Rice case and preserving one of his staunchest supporters in Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who could be on the brink of an epiphany that eventually could lead to Goodell being interviewed about the challenges faced by his successor.

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Adam Vinatieri: If you’re going to make it harder for kickers, make it harder for everyone

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwm0nmzjogu0ndbkodfiowi2otviogq5mzrknmq2n2rj AP

The NFL continued their experiments to make the placekicking part of the game less automatic at Sunday night’s Pro Bowl.

The uprights were narrowed by over four feet and extra points were pushed back to the 15-yard-line, which contributed to three missed kicks for Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri. Vinatieri and Eagles kicker Cody Parkey, who made both his extra point tries, both said after the game that they weren’t in favor of the changes being extended beyond an exhibition game with Parkey saying that he felt like the league was “picking on” kickers. Vinatieri, meanwhile, said that the league should make other changes if they’re concerned with things being too easy for players.

“My answer to that is take the receiver gloves off the receivers and see how if they can make these amazing one-handed catches,” Vinatieri said, via ESPN.com. “Things might change. If we’re going to do it to make it harder on guys because they’re getting more accurate or more whatever, then maybe we should change a bunch of things.”

There’s some truth to the point that Vinatieri makes about receiver gloves helping the likes of Odell Beckham make ridiculous catches on a weekly basis, but until field goals join those catches on highlight films the league isn’t likely to treat the two things in remotely the same way.

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NFL offered photo of Marshawn’s crotch grab for sale

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While the NFL was fining Marshawn Lynch $20,000 for grabbing his crotch in the NFC Championship Game, the NFL was also asking fans to pay $149.95 for a collection of Seahawks photos that included a picture of that same grab of that same crotch.

The league has now admitted it screwed up by offering that photo for sale and says it will not be sold.

“Any play that results in a fine may not be used commercially,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told ESPN.

This isn’t the first time the NFL has tried to profit off photos of plays for which players were fined. In 2010 the league also sold pictures of a James Harrison hit on Mohamed Massaquoi and a Brandon Meriweather hit on Todd Heap, even though Harrison and Meriweather had been fined for those very hits.

It’s hypocritical, obviously, of the NFL to do that. Maybe Lynch will have something to say about the NFL’s hypocrisy at Super Bowl Media Day. But probably not.

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