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Seahawks sidestep Clemons’ comments about gay players

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Last week, Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons suggested that a gay player who chooses to expose his sexuality would be engaging in a selfish act that would divide the team.

Dominic Holden of The Stranger, a Seattle newspaper, has been trying to get a statement from the team in response to Clemons’ comments.  On Tuesday, Holden got several.

We’re not going to comment,” Seahawks director of corporate communications Suzanne Lavender said.  “You know, it’s just his personal view.”

Reminded that the 49ers aggressively denounced derogatory comments from cornerback Chris Culliver during Super Bowl week, Lavender explained the reason for the team’s silence.  “We haven’t gotten that many fan comments so we are not going to make public comment,” she said.

As Holden sees it, Clemons has attempted to bully a gay player into remaining closeted, and the Seahawks “are being complicit by being silent.”  After Holden posted his initial item on the subject, Lavender complained that the article “mischaracterized” the team’s position.  She eventually agreed to email Holden a statement.

“The Seahawks organization is guided by overall principles of acceptance and understanding that help us create a culture of respect, equality and inclusiveness both on and off the field,” the statement reads.  “It is our goal to use these core principles and our commitment to passion, character and excellence to empower change within our community.  We, as an organization and as individuals, represent and respect a wide range of human differences, personal experiences and cultural backgrounds.  We have already begun to follow-up with every fan that contacted us earlier today.”

The statement avoids the question of whether the Seahawks agree or disagree with Clemons’ statements; indeed, it comes off as a more verbose version of, “You know, it’s just his personal view.”

Holden has once again articulated specific questions on the subject that the Seahawks have not yet answered.  Whatever the answer may be, it’s only fair for Holden to keep asking until the Seahawks provide a direct answer to the question of whether the organization agrees or disagrees with the things Clemons said.

UPDATE 11:08 p.m. ET:  Not long after our story posted, Lavender responded to Holden’s question.  “We don’t agree with what [Clemons] said,” Lavender said.

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Cowboys will hold training camp in Oxnard through at least 2018

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The Cowboys opened a lavish new practice facility and headquarters in Frisco, Texas last year, but they will still be heading out of state for training camp.

The City of Oxnard approved a two-year extension of their deal with the Cowboys to hold training camp in California. The extension covers this year and 2018 and the city has an option for 2019 and 2020, so the summer trips to the coast could continue for quite a while.

This will be the 12th time since 2001 and sixth straight year that the Cowboys will train in Oxnard. This year’s camp will be cheaper to visit than in past years.

Per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, parking has dropped from $20 a day to $10 on weekdays and $15 on weekends. The team is not expected to report to work in Oxnard until after they play in the Hall of Fame Game on August 4.

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Browns owner “highly confident” the turnaround starts now

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The Browns have been rebuilding since the moment they were rebuilt in Cleveland, but owner Jimmy Haslam thinks this time, for real, the winning is about to begin.

Via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal, Haslam thinks things are going to be much better this season (and they can’t really get worse after going 1-15).

“The difference between this year and last year in terms of feeling in the building is noticeably different,” Haslam said. “We were able to obviously to bring in some top-flight talent during the offseason, have what we believe to be a very successful draft and I’m highly confident that this will be the year when the Browns begin to turn around and perform at the level they should.

“I’m highly, highly confident we got the right guy to lead the ship, and that’s head coach Hue Jackson.”

The Browns sticking by Jackson is admirable, since they stuck him with a roster largely devoid of professional players last season. But Haslam said he’s been impressed with the way his coach has kept things positive, and Jackson didn’t have any interest in dwelling in the past.

“I don’t even want to talk about last year, what [foundation] was set, because a lot of stuff wasn’t set,” Jackson said. “I do feel better about [this year]. Our draft shows that we’ve put more quality talent on our team. I think it showed last year that our guys understood our process, and they worked hard. We just couldn’t seem to win because of it.

“Now, hopefully we have enough talent to where we can finish games and finish games better and finishing hopefully leads to winning. But at the end of day, all of this is about winning. It’s not about anything else. We need to see tangible wins in order for this organization to be moving forward.”

At least they have the confidence of ownership, because it’s likely to be a process that extends beyond the coming season.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

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Former G.M. Doug Whaley’s reflections on his Bills tenure didn’t impress everyone.

The hype train for Dolphins WR DeVante Parker is chugging right along.

The Patriots Hall of Fame’s newest member will be Raymond Clayborn.

WR Quincy Enunwa is on track for a big role in the Jets offense.

A projection of the Ravens’ offensive depth chart.

The Bengals hope to find out more about QB Jeff Driskel this offseason.

Browns coach Hue Jackson said he isn’t ranking his quarterbacks outside of installing Cody Kessler as the No. 1 in the rotation.

Storylines to watch during the Steelers’ OTAs.

The Texans are looking for big jumps from wide receivers Will Fuller and Braxton Miller in their second seasons.

It’s a “wide open” competition for playing time in the Colts secondary.

The Jaguars placed WR Bryan Walters on injured reserve.

The Titans head into OTAs with five of their nine draft picks under contract.

Quarterback isn’t the only position to watch during Broncos OTAs.

Chiefs T Jah Reid is suing his alma mater Central Florida for improper use of his likeness.

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio is happy the Warriors are back in the NBA Finals.

LB Melvin Ingram is “doing his negotiating thing” with Chargers OTAs getting started.

Cowboys TE Jason Witten has seen major improvement from TE Rico Gathers.

The Giants are continuing their search for defensive depth.

Eagles RB Donnel Pumphrey feels he constantly has to overcome doubts about his size.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden expects a better defensive effort this year.

QB Mike Glennon has worked quickly to build bonds with his Bears teammates.

A supportive take on Calvin Johnson’s issues with the way things ended with the Lions.

The Packers’ draft class sets up some battles for roster spots.

A video breakdown of Vikings rookie C Pat Elflein.

Looking forward to the Falcons’ new stadium.

Is there more shuffling to come in the Panthers’ front office?

The Saints are keeping their options open at linebacker.

TE O.J. Howard was the first pick that the Buccaneers made this year and he’s also the first pick to sign with the team.

QB Blaine Gabbert likes the stability he sees with the Cardinals.

Said Rams QB Jared Goff of the new offense, “It’s way different. It’s a way different offense. Personally, from my brief experience with it. I’ve had a quicker time learning it, easier time learning it. I don’t know whether that’s scheme or the way it’s taught or whatnot, but I’ve enjoyed spending time with the coaches and picking it up pretty quickly.”

49ers DL Solomon Thomas and WR Trent Taylor look very different on the outside, but the team thinks they have the same passion for the game.

DE Cliff Avril says that the Seahawks veterans still have something left in the tank.

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Larry Fitzgerald will talk post-2017 plans at training camp

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Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald spent a lot of time last year fielding questions about whether or not he planned to continue playing in 2017 and then took a little time after the end of the season before announcing that he’d return to the team.

The 2017 season hasn’t started yet, but the way last year played out makes it pretty likely that there are already plenty of people wondering about Fitzgerald’s plans for 2018. On Monday night, Fitzgerald said that the frequency of the questions last year grew tiresome and he plans to handle those queries differently than he did last season.

Fitzgerald said that he’ll discuss his future at training camp and only at training camp.

“I’m going to answer it one time, and I’m not even going to address it anymore,” Fitzgerald said, via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com.

It seems unlikely that Fitzgerald will field his final question on the topic in July unless his answer is unequivocal that he’s going to play in 2018. An answer that involves making a decision after the season will invite follow-ups as the season unfolds and a plan to retire would lead to questions about second thoughts along with weekly reminders that the end is getting close.

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Washington “getting close” to a plan for replacing former G.M.

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Washington may be close to backfilling its personnel department, even if that doesn’t mean hiring a General Manager.

According to Liz Clarke of the Washington Post, team president Bruce Allen said they had met with more than a dozen candidates plus some internal scouts, and were nearing a decision.

We’re getting close to having a final plan,” Allen said. “It has been a good period. We’ve learned a lot about other strategies and structures around the league.”

They’ve been short-handed since firing G.M. Scot McCloughan in March, with Allen presiding over the franchise-tagging of Kirk Cousins and the draft.

So it’s reasonable to suggest they don’t feel a pressing need to have someone with the title McCloughan used to have.

Considering they’ve gone this far without one (and have two more years of contract to pay for McCloughan to not be G.M.) they could be looking for some alternatives which don’t suggest anyone having the power to nudge Allen out of the top spot.

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Kentucky basketball hopeful has some NFL potential

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Usually the Kentucky basketball players are all first-rounders, and usually after their first year.

But in the case of senior guard Dominique Hawkins, he might have a shot to go pro in another sport.

According to Ben Roberts of the Lexington Herald-Leader, Hawkins might be a fringe NBA draft prospect whose basketball future lies overseas.

But the 6-foot- guard with a 44.5-inch vertical leap has also drawn some attention from NFL scouts, who are intrigued about his potential as a defensive back.

He was the state of Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball in 2013 and a favorite of fans there, and Wildcats coach John Calipari called him “Old Reliable” during their tournament run (as opposed to all the “Young Temps” he usually recruits).

“He is a fierce competitor,” Calipari said of Hawkins in February. “He’s tough as nails. He will come up with [loose balls]. Any 50/50 ball, he’s getting. And offensively, he’s gotten better each year.”

Usually when an NFL team is thinking about conversion projects, it’s power forwards turned into tight ends. But while Hawkins might not be NBA caliber, football teams are going to turn over every rock in search of guys who can play.

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David Diehl visits the PFT Live studio on Tuesday

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Tuesday’s PFT Live includes one of the new twists that debuted last week — a current or former player spending a full hour in studio.

Last week, it was Willie Colon on Tuesday and Brian Westbrook on Wednesday. This week, two-time Super Bowl champion David Diehl, who played 11 years with the Giants, will visit the PFT Live studio for the final hour of the show.

For clarity, he’ll be in the Connecticut studio. If you saw any of Monday’s show, you know that the West Virginia studio barely fit Barstool Big Cat and PFT Commenter. There’s no way it would fit both me and Diehl. Or Diehl on his own.

We’ll be discussing a wide variety of topics, including a back-and-forth draft aimed at compiling our ideal offensive line. Join us at 8:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN for Diehl’s visit.

Actually, join us at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio, and then on NBCSN at 7:00 a.m. ET.

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Owners discussing timing change for coaching hires

AP

If some owners have their way, future Dan Quinns and Kyle Shanahans might not have to spend a Super Bowl week lying (or at least awkwardly hedging) about their plans for the following week.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, owners will discuss a change to the timing of head-coaching hires, which would allow teams to agree to terms with a new coach after a second interview but not announce the hiring.

It’s actually a box of leftovers from the March meeting, when the needed rules change was proposed by the competition committee but not voted on. Atlanta has also sponsored the rule, having been on both sides of it.

Ostensibly, that would give teams more of a chance to rebuild coaching staffs in the wake of late departures caused by their own success. In recent years, the Seahawks and Falcons have had to wait before replacing Dan Quinn (to Atlanta) and Kyle Shanahan (to San Francisco) until their teams were finished with the Super Bowl.

But if it’s as simple agree-don’t-announce, that doesn’t really seem to change much, since both hirings were the worst-kept secrets of the Super Bowl weeks in question, and both hirings were foregone conclusions.

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Jay Gruden thinks Chris Thompson is the NFL’s best third-down back

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Washington coach Jay Gruden thinks he has the NFL’s best third-down back on his roster.

Chris Thompson, who had 68 carries for 356 yards and three touchdowns last season and added 49 catches for 349 yards and two touchdowns, is as good as it gets in the third-down role, according to Gruden.

“I think Chris Thompson’s role is big,” Gruden said, via CSNMidAtlantic.com. “When you’re talking about third downs, that’s the most important down in football. There’s nobody better as a third-down back in my opinion than Chris. He’s got a huge role on this football team.”

With rookie Samaje Perine joining last year’s top two rushers, Rob Kelley and Matt Jones, it would be easy to envision Thompson’s role being reduced. But Gruden sees Thompson having a key role.

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CBS producer believes Tony Romo will be the next John Madden

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CBS is obviously quite excited about the addition of former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo to their broadcast booth.

The network is so happy to have him that Romo is going to get his first appearance in the booth during this weekend’s PGA Tour stop at the Dean and DeLuca Invitational at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.

According to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, CBS producer Lance Barrow announced at a gala for the tournament Monday night that Romo would make his CBS debut this week in the booth at the 18th hole.

In addition to announcing Romo’s foray on the network’s golf broadcast this weekend, Barrow made a lofty comparison in likening Romo to an NFL broadcasting legend.

I think he is going to be great,” Barrow said. “I think we have the next John Madden on your hands.”

Romo has yet to work a single NFL game, but in comparing Romo to Madden he’s setting an incredibly high standard for the newest member of the network’s announcing team.

After his coaching career was complete, Madden became the most recognizable NFL analyst on TV. Madden paired with Pat Summerall to form the No. 1 crew in NFL broadcasting, first working for CBS before moving to FOX in the mid-1990’s. His popularity continued to grow with the introduction of the Madden NFL game franchise.

Whether Romo could potentially ever reach Madden territory as a broadcaster is yet to be seen, but clearly CBS is incredibly bullish on their addition to their staff.

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Michael Bennett, columnist, appear to bury hatchet after apology

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Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett threatened to boycott the Seattle Times after a column critical of Bennett appeared in the paper on Sunday.

While the column from writer Matt Calkins largely praised Bennett for his on-field performance, numerous charity endeavors and engaging personality, the piece primarily took issue with an incident that occurred in the locker room following Seattle’s playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons in January.

Bennett lashed out at a local TV reporter for asking a question about the team’s pass rush in the game and questioned what adversity had the reporter faced. What Bennett didn’t know at the time was that the reporter – Bill Wixey – had survived cancer. That incident, and Calkins’ belief that no apology had been given from Bennett to Wixey, was the prime point of contention for Calkins’ criticism.

But in a follow-up column on Monday, Calkins notes that he found out that Bennett had apologized to Wixey privately and he didn’t do the legwork on that before writing the story. Since the linchpin of the argument was incorrect, the rest of the premise the criticism was predicated upon wasn’t supported any longer. He apologized to Bennett for getting it wrong.

Part of my duty is to hold people accountable. That includes myself,” Calkins wrote.

Bennett appears to have accepted the apology from Calkins as well.

Although I was offended by your attacks on my character, I admire and respect your willingness to admit you were wrong about me,” Bennett wrote in a Twitter message directed at Calkins and the Times’ twitter accounts Monday night. “I care deeply for social causes, for our fans and I’m not afraid to make a stand even if it makes me unpopular at time I will continue to lead organically n staying true to what I feel is right I love this city n I love the people.”

While Bennett didn’t expressly say his plan to boycott the paper is off, it seems as though he’s willing to move beyond the issue.

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Turner considers trying to get back into the NFL business

The NFL television landscape could change in plenty of ways come 2023. At at time when the ability of ESPN to continue to pay more than $2 billion per year to keep Monday Night Football, one of the league’s former broadcast partners could be trying to get back in.

Via Michael McCarthy of SportingNews.com, Turner Sports currently is exploring the possibility of making a bid on a piece of the TV rights. Of course, there’s a big difference between thinking about it and scraping together the cash necessary to make it happen.

Turner’s status as a cable channel limits its options, as a practical matter. The NFL realizes the value of placing prime-time games on broadcast TV, given that the three-letter networks still draw the maximum audience. Even with the proliferation of cable and Internet, millions still rely on the free signals broadcast through the public airwaves by NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX.

The Monday Night Football package would make the most sense for Turner, and the NFL may need to find a deep-pocketed partner to bid on the games, if ESPN ultimately won’t have the cash to continue to pay such a premium for the premier American sporting content.

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OBJ is a no-show for Day One of OTAs

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Uh-oh, OBJ.

The Giants receiver, entering his fourth NFL season, skipped the first day of the team’s Organized Team Activities, according to Dan Duggan of NJ.com. Duggan says the reason for the absence isn’t known, and that it’s likewise unknown whether he’ll show up for any of the other nine OTA sessions.

The practices are voluntary, but as the on-field culmination of the offseason program they take on greater importance than other April-to-June workouts. With Beckham eligible for a new contract following the completion of his third season, it’s possible that he’s choosing to stay away in order to get paid.

The Giants have another OTA on Tuesday, and then again on Thursday. Thursday’s practice will be open to the media. Coach Ben McAdoo technically can’t say or do anything to suggest that presence is required; however, some coaches have a way of making their frustration known, private or publicly.

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O.J. Simpson will have July parole hearing

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The Juice could be loose, again.

Via Andrew Blankstein and Daniella Silva of NBC News, Hall of Fame running back O.J. Simpson will have a parole hearing in July. He has served nine years of a 33-year sentence on charges arising from a bungled effort to reclaim memorabilia that he believed was stolen from him.

Some contend the Nevada justice system threw the book at Simpson due to the perception that he got away with a double murder in California, with the alleged killing of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and Ronald Goldman.

The key question regarding Simpson’s potential freedom will be whether and to what extent discretion may be exercised by the parole board. That discretion will allow anyone who thinks he should be serving life without parole for the 1994 killings to justify keeping him behind bars for more of that 33-year term.

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Ameer Abdullah could be headed for a featured role in Detroit

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The running back the Cardinals wanted to draft before drafting David Johnson may soon get a chance to have an impact similar to Arizona’s 2015 Plan B option.

Lions running back Ameer Abdullah recently said he’d be better than any other option the team may bring in. They didn’t bring anyone in via free agency or the draft, which per the team’s official website has created the impression that Abdullah will have a featured role in 2017, his third NFL season.

The question is whether he can stay healthy. Abdullah finished his rookie season (with 16 appearances and 597 rushing yards) needing shoulder surgery. Last year, a Week Two foot injury knocked him out for the rest of the season.

Other options are Theo Riddick (who had 357 yards rushing in 2016), Zach Zenner (334 yards), and Dwayne Washington (265 yards). Collectively, the Lions generated 1,310 rushing yards (30th in the league), with an average of 3.7 yards per carry.

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