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Jason Hanson retires

ason Hanson AP

Jason Hanson, the longtime Lions kicker who is the NFL’s longest-serving active player and the player who has played in more games for one team than any other player in NFL history, has decided to call it a career.

The 42-year-old Hanson told DetroitLions.com that he is not 100 percent healthy and thought a foot injury was going to keep him from playing at his best.

It was time to make a decision,” Hanson said. “It was the right time to step away. “Ultimately, it’s my heel – the problem I developed last year. Now that we’re starting a new year, it’s still an issue. I have the desire. I have the determination, as I said earlier, to come back. Each time I’d start to push it, I’d kind of short-circuit. I realized that at this point of my career, I don’t want to perform in a compromised way. It’s not good for the team. I lost a little of my desire to play injured.”

Hanson owns the NFL records for most career 50-yard field goals (51) and most games played with one team (327). He’ll go down in history as one of the best kickers ever to play the game.

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Ben Roethlisberger “still very sore” after Courtney Upshaw hit

Ben Roethlisberger, Courtney Upshaw AP

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has taken a lot of hits in his career.

But he said Tuesday he’s “still very sore” after a shot to the chest from Ravens linebacker Courtney Upshaw last Thursday.

Upshaw was flagged for roughing the passer on the play, after drilling Roethlisberger on a clean run.

I’m hurting today as much as I was at any point I can think of in the last year,” Roethlisberger said on 93.7 The Fan, via Scott Brown of ESPN.com.

Roethlisberger said it was the hardest he’s been hit since Bart Scott leveled him in 2006.

“This is easily right there with a close second,” Roethlisberger said. “I lost my breath instantly and remember hitting the ground thinking, ‘Boy, that hurt a lot.’ I kind of pride myself on not taking those big hits, but I sure as heck didn’t see it coming.”

He clearly didn’t see his own play falling off this way either. He was 22-of-37 for 217 yards and an interception, and the Steelers have scored just three field goals in their last six quarters.

It won’t get any easier for him Sunday night, against a Panthers defense which is top-five in both yards and points allowed.

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Minnesota governor calls on Vikings to suspend Peterson

San Diego Chargers v Minnesota Vikings Getty Images

The governor of Minnesota is calling on the Vikings to change course and suspend Adrian Peterson for abusing his son.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says Peterson — who admits that he whipped his son and caused cuts and bruises — should not be playing until he has gone through the legal process.

It is an awful situation,” Dayton said in a statement. “Yes, Mr. Peterson is entitled to due process and should be ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ However, he is a public figure; and his actions, as described, are a public embarrassment to the Vikings organization and the State of Minnesota. Whipping a child to the extent of visible wounds, as has been alleged, should not be tolerated in our state. Therefore, I believe the team should suspend Mr. Peterson, until the accusations of child abuse have been resolved by the criminal justice system.”

Dayton said he remains a Vikings fan, even as he feels disappointment toward the team.

“I will not turn my back on the Vikings and their fans, as some have suggested. The Vikings belong to Minnesota – and in Minnesota. This has been the team’s only home; and our citizens, including myself, have been its most dedicated fans,” Dayton said.

Given the way NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handled the Ray Rice case, it’s almost impossible to trust Goodell to handle the Peterson case appropriately. Which is one reason that many are calling on the Vikings to take it upon themselves to bench Peterson. Something they’re refusing to do amid severe public pressure.

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CBS decides to exclude Rihanna from all pre-games

Fashion Alexander Wang Spring 2015 AP

This is the part of the story where I’d make a pop culture reference about Rihanna using one of her song titles.

But I did that already once today, so I’m pretty much out of Rihanna material.

After the pop singer told the NFL “F— you,” on Twitter this morning, the league has returned the favor.

A CBS spokesman said any plans to re-introduce her song “Run Thus Town” to their Thursday Night Football open had changed, and she won’t be involved in any further broadcasts.

“Beginning this Thursday, we will be moving in a different direction with some elements of our Thursday Night Football open,” CBS senior vice president of communications Jen Sabatelle said, via USA Today. “We will be using our newly created Thursday Night Football theme music to open our game broadcast.”

The league pulled the song of the famous domestic violence victim as part of an effort to adopt a more serious tone to the Ravens-Steelers pre-game in light of the Ray Rice news of the week.

She apparently woke up this morning and realized she didn’t like it, so we await her next reaction.

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Week Two power rankings

Seahawks AP

1.  Seattle Seahawks (No. 1 last week; 1-1):  They lost in San Diego.  I guess that means they now suck.  And they’ll suck just enough to win the Super Bowl again.

2. Denver Broncos (No. 2; 2-0):  With the No. 1 team on the docket for Week Three, the opportunity is there to not lose by 35 points.

3. New England Patriots (No. 4; 1-1):  Cries of “the Pats are done” became “the Pats done kicked Minnesota’s ass” on Sunday.

4. Green Bay Packers (No. 3; 1-1):  They lose a spot for flirting for too long with a lesser team, but the Packers are still a top-five franchise.

5. Cincinnati Bengals (No. 6; 2-0):  Maybe when James Harrison said “ain’t no fun when the rabbit got the gun,” he was referring to the Bengals turning tables in the AFC North.

6. Carolina Panthers (No. 9; 2-0):  In a year when everyone thought they’d fade, the Panthers apparently are tightening their grip on the NFC South.

7. Philadelphia Eagles (No. 11; 2-0):  Undefeated despite playing at an average level at best, if this team ever finds the gas pedal, they could be the biggest threat to a Seattle repeat.

8. Arizona Cardinals (No. 12; 2-0):  It’s hard to remember this team is 2-0, probably because they should have lost both of their games.

9. San Francisco 49ers (No. 5; 1-1):  Who’s got it better than us?  Anyone who opened a brand new stadium by winning the first game there.

10. Baltimore Ravens (No. 14; 1-1):  The Ravens took refuge last week in football.  The Steelers wish they hadn’t.

11. New Orleans Saints (No. 7; 0-2):  Does anyone really think this team won’t have a seat at the postseason table?

12. San Diego Chargers (No. 17; 1-1):  For those who say the Chargers created the recipe for beating the Seahawks, it helps to have access to ingredients like Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, and Keenan Allen.

13. Chicago Bears (No. 19; 1-1):  The Bears provide Exhibit A for the idea that no one really knows what’s going to happen in any given game, in any given week.

14. Atlanta Falcons (No. 10; 1-1):  Who scored more points this week, Roddy White’s fantasy team or his reality team?

15. Indianapolis Colts (No. 8; 0-2):  The AFC South is the Colts’ division to lose.  And they are.

16. Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 13; 1-1):  Mike Tomlin needed to trip a bunch of guys other than Jacoby Jones for the Steelers to have a chance in Baltimore last Thursday.

17. Detroit Lions (No. 15; 1-1):  Apparently, Donkey Kong Suh couldn’t get his flaming barrels through airport security.

18. Buffalo Bills (No. 26; 2-0):  The organization’s best week since January 1994 could become the best two weeks since January 1994.

19. Houston Texans (No. 24; 2-0):  Beating a mediocre franchise quarterback one week and a worse-than-mediocre franchise the next hardly means the Texans have fixed all their problems.

20. New York Jets (No. 16; 1-1):  An ill-timed timeout has helped obscure the fact that the Jets blew a huge lead.

21. Cleveland Browns (No. 31; 1-1):  If this team is still in the hunt after Josh Gordon comes back, things could get very interesting in December.

22. Washington (No. 25; 1-1):  With a defense capable of generating 10 sacks, maybe Joe Theismann could play quarterback for this team and win.

23. Dallas Cowboys (No. 27; 1-1):  After years of saying they’ll run the ball more, they finally did.  Maybe they should keep doing that.

24. Miami Dolphins (No. 20; 1-1):  Another win over the Patriots chased by another 19-point loss to the Bills.

25. St. Louis Rams (No. 28; 1-1):  Just think of how good this team could be if it had a quarterback.

26. Tennessee Titans (No. 21; 1-1):  At least no one pulled an Albert Haynesworth during the Cowboys’ return to Nashville for the first time since Andre Gurode’s forehead was shredded.

27. Minnesota Vikings (No. 18; 1-1):  For a franchise that has provided its fans with 50-plus years of disappointment, embarrassment, humiliation, and heartbreak, Monday was the lowest point yet.

28. Kansas City Chiefs (No. 22; 0-2):  “At least we’re not the Raiders” may be the best they can say this year.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 29; 0-2):  “At least Greg Schiano’s not the coach” may be the best they can say this year.

30. New York Giants (No. 23; 0-2):  Seven years ago, the Giants reversed an 0-2 start with a Super Bowl win.  Seven years ago, the Giants had a lot more talent.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 30; 0-2):  Maybe Blake Bortles isn’t playing because they’re concerned the bubble wrap would screw up his throwing motion.

32. Oakland Raiders (No. 32; 0-2):  The Raiders aren’t as bad as I thought they’d be.  Somehow, they’re worse.

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PFT Live: Vikings talk with Chris Tomasson, PFT Planet calls and tweets

MINNESOTA VIKINGS PETERSON AP

It’s another week where the off-field conduct of NFL players is causing discussion about the league well outside of the sports pages and the Vikings’ decision to play running back Adrian Peterson this week is one of the big reasons for that crossover.

Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press will join Mike Florio on Tuesday’s edition of PFT Live to discuss the choice that the Vikings made on Monday and the reasons why they have shifted away from deactivating Peterson like they did last Sunday against the Patriots. We’ll also get Tomasson’s take on how the Vikings’ handling of the situation is being accepted locally.

We also want to know what PFT Planet thinks about Peterson and everything else going on in the league right now. Florio will be responding to your tweets — @ProFootballTalk — and calls to 888-237-5269 during the show.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.

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Native American group asks owners to force change on Snyder

Snyder Getty Images

Daniel Snyder says he will never change the name of his football team. A group of Native Americans is asking the other 31 owners to take that decision out of Snyder’s hands.

The coalition of Native American organizations, called Change the Mascot, has sent a letter to the other 31 owners asking them to use a provision in the NFL bylaws that can punish an owner who is guilty of misconduct that damages the league.

“Clearly, Washington team owner Dan Snyder’s continued promotion of this racial slur represents such conduct,” reads the letter, via the Washington Post. “Put simply, Mr. Snyder is jeopardizing the welfare of the league by promoting an epithet against people of color.”

Although there was a time this year when the Washington name controversy felt like the biggest off-field issue facing the NFL, it has been put on the back burner by the cases involving Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Ray McDonald and Adrian Peterson. Snyder may be the one person in the NFL who has seen a silver lining to the mess of the last couple weeks, as he’s no longer the focal point for the outrage at the NFL.

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Marty Mornhinweg: I’ve got to trust Geno Smith

Cleveland Browns v New York Jets Getty Images

Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson took the blame for calling a timeout just before the Jets threw what looked like the game-tying touchdown pass in Sunday’s loss to the Packers, but offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg absolves Richardson of the responsibility.

Mornhinweg had been yelling and waving his arms in an attempt to call time, which led Richardson to make the request to the official on the Jets sideline and Mornhinweg to say that Richardson bore no responsibility for stopping the play. Mornhinweg explained Monday that he saw something he didn’t like in the team’s alignment, but that quarterback Geno Smith fixed it on his own and that he’s learned that he needs to trust Smith in similar situations as the season moves forward.

“I want to make it crystal clear everything that goes on offensively is my responsibility. Period. So I’ve got to do a better job of communicating,” Mornhinweg said, via Newsday. “And then trusting Big Geno. I’ve got to trust Geno to get everything fixed before the 40-second clock [expires].”

It was an unfortunate turn of events for the Jets, but they went on to convert the fourth down after the timeout so they still had an opportunity to tie the game. They also had an 18-point lead in the second quarter that they couldn’t protect. If they had, there wouldn’t have been many consequential plays in the fourth quarter in the first place.

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NFL hires new D.C.-based lobbyist

Capitol Getty Images

At a time of unprecedented public scrutiny that will serve only to attract further interest of the folks who have a habit of looking for causes to support that will score points with the public, the NFL has hired a new lobbyist.

The press release doesn’t describe former Deputy Assistant to the President and Counsel to the Vice President of the United States Cynthia Hogan as a lobbyist.  But that’s what she’ll be.  And lobbyists work their contacts aggressively within the political universe to advance the causes of their clients.  (Officially, Hogan is the NFL’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs.)

As further evidence of the siege mentality currently engulfing the precipice of the NFL’s organizational chart, the announcement was made not by Commissioner Roger Goodell, but by executive V.P. of communications and public affairs Paul Hicks.

“We are pleased to welcome Cynthia to our leadership team,” Hicks said.  “Cynthia’s broad experience on a wide-range of public policy issues will help advance our initiatives in Washington and around the country.”

On some issues, such as ensuring that the league’s sensitivity to concussions will trickle down to all lower levels of the sport, that’s a good thing.  On other issues, such as getting Senator Rockefeller off the NFL’s back on the question of domestic violence or pushing back against the effort to scuttle the blackout policy or the effort to change the name of the Washington franchise or a potential assault on the league’s tax-exempt status or the ever-present threat that Congress will decide that the NFL no longer should enjoy a broadcast exemption for the antitrust rules, Hogan will be serving the self-interests of 31 billionaires and a publicly-owned (sort of) billion-dollar corporation.

Given the current sense of gloom that has transformed 345 Park Avenue into 1313 Mockingbird Lane, some will assume that Hogan’s job directly will entail improving the NFL’s handling of issues of domestic abuse and other misconduct.  The truth is that she’ll be in charge of making sure that the political fallout from such scandals won’t be as bad as it otherwise could be.

Last week, Politico reported that the NFL was moving toward hiring a new chief lobbyist, explaining the complex issues that the eventual hire will confront.  While the seas may eventually calm for the league, Hogan definitely will be earning her salary in the first several weeks she’s on the job.

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Washington cuts safety Baccari Rambo

12223622 AP

Washington drew First Blood.

With safety Brandon Meriweather back from his suspension, they needed to clear a roster spot.

According to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, that spot was created by releasing safety Baccari Rambo.

The Redskins chose Rambo in the sixth round last year out of Georgia, and immediately installed him as a starter.

But he mostly gave up big plays, and was benched quickly, starting just one more game (when Meriweather was suspended last year) the rest of the way.

 

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Jake Matthews expects to play this week

Jake Matthews AP

Falcons rookie tackle Jake Matthews was forced to the sideline for the team’s loss to the Bengals last Sunday because of a sprained ankle and the prospect of another missed game loomed with Atlanta scheduled to face the Buccaneers this Thursday.

Matthews is hoping things don’t play out that way. He was able to practice in a limited fashion on Monday and is expected to be a full participant on Tuesday as the Falcons ramp up quickly during the short week. Matthews said it will take “a lot more healing” before he’s definitely ready to play, but it is something he expects to happen in time for him to return to the lineup on Thursday.

“I’m expecting to play,” Matthews said, via the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “I know that I personally think I’ll be ready to play. But we’ll see how the week of practice goes and we’ll see what coach [Mike Smith] has to say.”

Gabe Carimi played in Matthews’s place against Cincinnati in what was a rough day for the entire Falcons offense after they sparkled in the season-opening win over the Saints.

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NFL could intervene soon in Hardy case

Hardy Getty Images

As the Panthers struggle with the question of whether to let defensive end Greg Hardy play in the wake of a judge’s finding that he committed domestic violence, the Panthers may soon be off the hook.

Per a league source, the NFL could soon be intervening in the Hardy case, suspending Hardy without pay for violating the personal-conduct policy.

Previously, the NFL had decided not to penalize Hardy because Hardy’s legal case has not been resolved.  He still hasn’t had a trial before a jury; his trial before a judge was under North Carolina criminal procedure was so preliminary and cursory that a transcript isn’t prepared unless the defendant chooses to hire a court reporter.  (In this case, Hardy did.)

As of Monday, the transcript hadn’t been prepared.  It would be prudent for the NFL to see the transcript before making a decision about Hardy.  But Hardy may not get that luxury as the post-Rice NFL struggles with the balance between due process in court and taking decisive action against misconduct.

In the end, the Panthers may get the luxury of not having to continue to tiptoe through a P.R. minefield, and they may not have to pay Hardy to not play.

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Gruden predictably claims he didn’t prefer Cousins to Griffin

Gruden Getty Images

At his Monday press conference, Washington coach Jay Gruden displayed a moment of candor, opting not to insist that Robert Griffin III definitely will be reinstalled when healthy.  Instead, Gruden addressed the hypothetical that backup Kirk Cousins could play his way into a quarterback controversy by saying, “We’ll cross that bridge when that comes.”

Gruden was predictably less candid after the press conference, when asked about the notion that the coaching staff wanted Cousins over Griffin in the first place.

“As far as the idea that Gruden somehow preferred Cousins over Griffin,” ESPN’s John Keim said on SportsCenter this morning, “I asked the first-year head coach about that after his press conference Monday and Gruden said, ‘That’s just not true.’  I told him, ‘I assume if it had been the case, he would have already been in there.’  To which Gruden replied, ‘It’s funny how that works.'”

That exchange implies that Gruden could have chosen to go with Cousins instead of Griffin, if that’s what Gruden wanted.  And that ignores the reality that Gruden simply didn’t have that luxury.  Gruden took the job knowing that Griffin is the guy.  The organization has made a huge investment in Griffin, and the organization wasn’t ready before Week One to even entertain the possibility of using Cousins instead of Griffin.

That was Joe Theismann’s point; the organization didn’t allow a quarterback competition to exist, but if a competition had existed, Cousins would have won it.

In the immediate aftermath of the Griffin injury, we reported that the coaching staff believes Cousins provides the better option to win.  Despite Gruden’s words and Keim’s unusual effort to vouch for Gruden’s position, we stand by that.

After all, pretty much everyone not on the coaching staff feels that way, too.  Moving forward, we’ll all see whether Cousins can prove that everyone was right.

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Dennis Allen: We’ve got to get better fast

Oakland Raiders v Houston Texans Getty Images

The Raiders were pummeled by the Texans on Sunday, dropping them to 0-2 and leading safety Charles Woodson to sum up the state of his team by saying “we suck.”

Coach Dennis Allen didn’t frame things in the same way Monday but said that he understood Woodson’s frustration with the way the team is performing. Allen said that the team is going to look at “everything” as the team tries to make some quick improvements.

“We’re two weeks into the season,” Allen said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. “At the same time, you don’t want to bury your head in the sand. We’ve got to get better. We need to do it fast.”

Allen may not be around much longer if that doesn’t happen. A report out of Oakland on Monday has the Raiders already making contingency plans if they fire Allen, who is 8-26 in two-plus years as the team’s coach, during the season.

There are easier ways to kick off a turnaround than a road game in New England, but the Raiders have to take what the schedule’s given them and make the best of it because more of the same is going to make for another ugly season.

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Lions lose another cornerback

Detroit Lions Rookie Minicamp Getty Images

It’s two weeks into the season and the Lions have already lost two nickel cornerbacks.

Nevin Lawson, who stepped in for Bill Bentley after Bentley tore his ACL, had surgery on dislocated toes in Charlotte after Sunday’s loss to the Panthers and coach Jim Caldwell said Monday that the team is not expecting to have Lawson back in the lineup this season.

“Now how long it’s going to be, I’m not certain as of yet,” Caldwell said, via the Detroit Free Press. “The doctors say they’ll look at him before they release him. He’s still there. He’ll be back in a day or so. They’ll give us a prognosis on the injury. I would not anticipate that he’ll be back this year. But hopefully, he’ll heal quickly.”

Lawson’s injury leaves the team with just three healthy cornerbacks and Caldwell said that there will be additions to the roster. They could come from the practice squad, where they have Mohammed Seisay, or it could come from the signing of a veteran like Champ Bailey or Dimitri Patterson. There’s an open roster spot after the team dropped safety Nate Ness and putting Lawson on injured reserve would open up another one as the Lions try to keep a full complement of cornerbacks on the depth chart.

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Rihanna is not a fan of CBS pulling her song last week

Rihanna AP

Rihanna apparently does not love the way CBS lies.

The pop singer said this morning on Twitter that she did not appreciate the league pulling her song “Run This Town” from last week’s pregame show.

“CBS you pulled my song last week, now you wanna slide it back in this Thursday? NO, F— you! Y’all are sad for penalizing me for this,” she wrote.

Then she followed with “The audacity…”

Rihanna has something in common with Janay Rice, in that she was the victim of a high-profile domestic violence case.

That, coupled with the need to give the opening week broadcast a more serious tone, led CBS to pull the musical number.

Apparently, they won’t be going back to it.

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