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Manti Te’o earning respect of Chargers coaches, veterans

Manti Teo AP

Given the unusual circumstances surrounding his final year at Notre Dame and somewhat baffling performance in the National Championship game, Manti Te’o was always going to have to prove to whatever organization decided to draft him that he was worth the investment.

So far with the San Diego Chargers, Te’o is passing the test with flying colors.

According to Michael Gelhken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Te’o has impressed coaches and players alike with his skill and maturity in the Chargers’ facility.

Head coach Mike McCoy, center Nick Hardwick and linebacker Larry English in addition to other members of the Chargers organization all praised the approach Te’o has brought to the team and the work ethic he’s showed since being drafted in April.

“I see what’s going to be a heck of a football player,” Hardwick said. “He gets good jumps on the snap. He knows where the ball is going. He seems to be really quick to react on it. In the locker room, he’s a cool guy. He’s easy to be around.”

It appears as though Te’o has answered any questions his teammates may have had about what kind of person he is off the field. Now it’s just about what he can do on it.

“When you’re on the football field, everything else doesn’t matter,” Te’o said. “Thankfully for me, I’m surrounded by a bunch of teammates that have really pushed me to be better. All they care about is No. 50 is working his butt off, and I’ll take care of the work ethic part. They’ll make sure I’m moving in the right direction. … I can’t be a leader if I don’t know where I’m going.”

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Potential sale process for Broncos stadium naming rights commences

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19:  Denver Broncos fans cheer during the AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 19, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) Getty Images

With the Sports Authority circling the drain and/or already passing through it, the Broncos will need another naming-rights partner at Mile High Stadium. The biggest question remains how that will actually transpire.

Alicia Wallace of the Denver Post reports that the Denver Metropolitan Football Stadium District’s board of directors decided on Monday to begin the process of making seeking bids from marketing firms for selling the naming rights, if the existing arrangement with the Sports Authority isn’t sold as part of the company’s ongoing liquidation of assets.

The name still could be sold as part of the trademarks and other intellectual property of the Sports Authority, a brand that had tangible value if attached to the right provider of goods or services. The current deal runs through 2020, at roughly $20 million per year.

Other than a marijuana company, no one has expressed interest in purchasing the naming rights to Mile High Stadium. It’s frankly hard to think of a partner more perfect than a marijuana company, given the name of the venue and the legalization of a substance that can get its users even higher than a mile.

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Bills call Buddy Ryan “a legend in our league in so many ways”

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His coaching career began in Buffalo, with the local university. Although Buddy Ryan never worked for the local AFL-then-NFL team, the Bills and Buddy have a strong connection, for obvious reasons: His son, Rex, is the head coach and Buddy’s other son, Rob, has arrived this year to work with his brother.

“Terry and Kim Pegula and the Buffalo Bills organization want to express their deepest sympathies and condolences to Rex, Rob and the entire Ryan family on the passing of their dad, Buddy Ryan,” the Bills said in a statement issued Tuesday. “Buddy was a legend in our league in so many ways. His defenses were innovative and he was a master at putting his talented and tough players in a position to succeed. He was a real game changer and much of his philosophies and defensive tactics are still utilized effectively by teams today. Buddy’s influence will be carried on by defensive coaches for generations to come, but none more so than by Rex and Rob. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the Ryan family today.”

Rob Ryan has recently said that he and Rex hope to restore the family name. It is a significant legacy for them to uphold, but it’s hard not to imagine the Ryan brothers committing every waking moment to getting the most out of their team in 2016, in honor of the man who always will be remembered as the architect of the best defense in NFL history.

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Peyton Manning consulted with Pat Summitt when deciding on future

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 11:  Tyler Summitt (L) and Peyton Manning (R) present the Arther Ashe Courage Award to Pat Summitt onstage during the 2012 ESPY Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 11, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) Getty Images

Pat Summitt didn’t coach football.

But according to Peyton Manning, the legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach who died this morning could have, and she helped make a mark on the Volunteers’ football program anyway.

During an interview this morning with “The Wake Up Zone” on 104.5 FM in Nashville, Manning said he consulted with Summitt when he was trying to decide whether to return to college for his senior season. Manning had already graduated and would have likely been the top pick of the Jets in the 1997 NFL Draft, but returned to Knoxville before going to the Colts with the top pick the following year.

I was honored to call her a friend, I enjoyed my time with Pat,” Manning said of Summitt, via Paul Kuharsky of “Even though I never played for her, I always kind of felt like she was one of my coaches. And I always said that I wished I would have played for her.

“I think Pat Summitt could have coached men’s basketball, men’s football, she could have coached anything she wanted. She was that good of a coach.”

Summitt led Tennessee to eight national titles in her 38 years there, and won more games (1,098) than any other Division I coach (men or women). She also became synonymous with the University and the sport, so much so that one of the most respected figures in another sport relied on her for advice.

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Marcus Mariota fine with handing ball off 40 times “if we win games”

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 15:  Marcus Mariota #8 makes a hand off to Antonio Andrews #26 of the Tennessee Titans during a game against the Carolina Panthers at Nissan Stadium on November 15, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

After the Titans removed the interim part of head coach Mike Mularkey’s title this offseason, Mularkey said that he hoped to build an “exotic smashmouth” offense and the team acquired running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry and offensive linemen Ben Jones and Jack Conklin to give them players they hope can help implement that physical style of play.

While the Titans are trying to put that approach in place, they are also trying to help Marcus Mariota grow as he moves into his second season as an NFL starter. If things go according to plan with the running game, Mariota may not have as many opportunities to show that growth in the 2016 season although he says that’s not a problem for him if it works for the team.

“That’s a lot of talent and a lot of excitement,” Mariota said while at a football camp in Williamsburg, Virginia, via the Daily Press. “Now it’s on our shoulders to bring that together, build a chemistry for the season, and hopefully lead to some wins. I told Coach Mike that I’ll hand the ball off 40 times a game if we win games. That’s what’s important to me, to giving us an opportunity to win. Having those two workhorses back there should help us out.”

Hitting 40 rushing attempts a game might be a stretch, but any significant uptick should bode well for both Mariota and the Titans. If defenses are focused on stopping the run, there should be chances for Mariota to make plays down the field with matchups in their favor. Hitting them should lead to more points and leads that would set the Titans up to use their two new backs and upgraded offensive line to run clock on the way to a rise in victories.

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Legendary defensive mastermind Buddy Ryan dies at 82

26 Jan 1986: Defensive coach Buddy Ryan and defensive end Richard Dent of the Chicago Bears celebrate after the Super Bowl XX game against the New England Patriots at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Bears defeated the Patriots 46-10 Getty Images

Buddy Ryan, a longtime coach who built perhaps the greatest defense in NFL history with the 1985 Bears, has died at the age of 82.

Beloved by his players and hated by opposing offenses (and sometimes hated even by his own offenses), Ryan masterminded Chicago’s 46 defense that won Super Bowl XX. He later served as head coach of an Eagles team that had a great defense in its own right, and ended his coaching career as head coach of the Cardinals in 1994 and 1995.

Ryan’s 35-year career as a football coach began in 1961 as a defensive line coach with the University at Buffalo Bulls, and in 1968 he moved to the Jets, helping them win Super Bowl III. He spent two years with the Vikings in 1976 and 1977 before George Halas hired him to coach the Bears’ defense in 1978.

It was with the Bears that Ryan saw his greatest success. Although Mike Ditka was the head coach, many thought it was Ryan’s coaching of the defense that really made the 1985 Bears one of the best teams in NFL history. After Super Bowl XX, the Bears carried both Ditka and Ryan off the field.

A fiery competitor, Ryan’s best-remembered moment in coaching came at the end of the 1993 season, his only year as defensive coordinator of the Houston Oilers. Upset with the Oilers’ offensive play calling, Ryan punched offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride in a nationally televised sideline skirmish.

Ryan is survived by his twin sons, Bills head coach Rex Ryan and Bills assistant coach Rob Ryan.

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Tom Cable: J’Marcus Webb can do something cool for Seahawks

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 22: J'Marcus Webb #76 of the Oakland Raiders looks on during the preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings on August 22, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Raiders 20-12. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Seahawks saw tackle Russell Okung and guard J.R. Sweezy depart as free agents this offseason in moves that removed a pair of veterans from a line that didn’t impress too many people in 2015.

Their plan to replace them didn’t involve any pricey free agent additions of their own. The Seahawks shopped in a less expensive aisle and came home with tackle J’Marcus Webb, who started 16 games for the Raiders last year after spending two years as a backup with the Vikings.

Webb’s record, which includes three years with the Bears, isn’t one that inspires total confidence in his play. Offensive line coach Tom Cable prized Webb’s experience, however, and believes that he can help the team as a right tackle.

“And just having J’Marcus here, my whole plan with him, I told him every day during offseason workouts, ‘This is going to be the best year of your career if you’ll give yourself to this thing,’ Cable said on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan. “And what I mean by that, he’s kind of been up and down. He’s been all over the place, in Chicago, Kansas City, Minnesota, Oakland last year. I think, again, it’s about getting someone to believe in him, and that’s my job, and in getting him to believe in himself. And if those two things can marry up right, I think this kid can really, really do something cool for us. And we need him to.”

Webb’s just one part of a rebuild that has Garry Gilliam moving to left tackle, Justin Britt taking over at center and rookie Germain Ifedi walking into the lineup at guard on his first day. Cable calls it a “blast” rebuilding the line and it will be one for the Seattle offense if Cable’s work keeps Russell Wilson from getting blasted as often as he was last year.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 27:  Max Bullough #53 of the Houston Texans wraps up Harry Douglas #83 of the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on December 27, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

When serving as a Bills assistant gets frustrating, Ed Reed hits golf balls.

An attempt to project Dolphins WR Kenny Stills‘ output for the coming season.

Patriots WR Julian Edelman will hold a football clinic for women.

The Jets will hold six public practices during training camp.

LB Zachary Orr is pushing for a starting job with the Ravens.

Kim Wood reminisces about his long run as the Bengals strength coach.

Browns LB Scooby Wright found some admirers during offseason work.

The Steelers spent about $1 million to restore a sculpture on one of Pittsburgh’s bridges.

TE Stephen Anderson generated some positive buzz with the Texans this spring.

Rookie LB Antonio Morrison’s toughness impressed the Colts heading into the draft.

The Jaguars picked a company to install new video displays at their stadium.

Will WR Harry Douglas make the Titans this year?

Running back for the Broncos seems a better career pursuit than portrait artist for C.J. Anderson.

Chiefs wide receivers Chris Conley and Albert Wilson hope working out with Jeremy Maclin leads to improvement.

Former Raiders LB Kirk Morrison shared some thoughts with the team’s rookies.

Chargers WR Tyrell Williams made a big first impression on the field last season.

Will WR Devin Street win a spot on the Cowboys roster?

Andre Williams is facing new competition in the Giants backfield.

Eagles LB Jordan Hicks is heading to the altar.

Confidence is rising for Redskins QB Kirk Cousins.

The Bears have 34 players left from last year’s opening roster.

Is Lions QB Matthew Stafford one of the league’s most overpaid players?

The Packers want RB John Crockett to take on a bigger role that includes special teams.

Mark Brunell thinks the Vikings are set up well for the coming season.

If CB C.J. Goodwin makes the Falcons, Mel Blount will get some credit for getting him on the NFL radar.

Panthers TE Greg Olsen’s 1969 Camaro sold to NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick for $100,000 at a charity auction.

Cooper Kupp, grandson of former Saints G Jake Kupp, could be a high draft pick in 2017 as a receiver.

The Buccaneers expect to make several roster tweaks in the next couple of months.

The relationship between Cardinals QB Carson Palmer and coach Bruce Arians is a strong one.

Linebackers coach Frank Bush was miked up for a recent Rams practice.

49ers LB Navorro Bowman had 500 kids at his football camp.

Marshawn Lynch is expected to be at Seahawks CB Richard Sherman’s charity softball game next month.

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Rita Benson LeBlanc says she’ll still own part of Saints after settlement

LeBlanc Getty Images

Even after a settlement reached earlier this month between Saints owner Tom Benson and a group of his former heirs, the granddaughter who was effectively cut out of the will maintains she’ll still have a role.

Rita Benson LeBlanc, who was fired by her grandfather in December 2014, told Bruce Schoenfeld of Sports Business Daily that she’d always have some connection to the Saints and Pelicans.

“No matter what happens in the litigation,” she said, “I’ll still be a partial owner.”

Details of the settlement have been few. In fact, the settlement may have been hastened along specifically to keep details of the family businesses out of the public eye. But throughout the ugly family squabble, LeBlanc (who was fired along with her mother and her brother) has stayed out of the public eye.

She’s still involved in many local charitable affairs, but no longer attends league meetings or has any other apparent dealings with the team.

“I wouldn’t say I’m happy,” she said. “I’m fulfilled. I don’t have a private life. There’s miserable things in the press and miserable things that aren’t being reported. No family should have to go through this.”

The story details some of the uglier parts of the split with the family, and describes her as someone saddened by her loss of contact with other NFL owners as well as her grandfather. It’s not much of a peek behind the curtain at a woman who was the presumptive heir to the franchise, but it does underscore how bitter the squabble truly became.

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Irving Fryar released after 8 months of 5-year prison sentence

Irving Fryar, Allene McGhee AP

Former NFL wide receiver Irving Fryar is out of prison after serving just eight months of a five-year sentence for mortgage fraud.

Fryar was released this month and placed in New Jersey’s Intensive Supervision Program for nonviolent offenders, reports.

At the time he was convicted of conspiring with his mother to defraud various lending institutions, Fryar was pastor at the New Jerusalem Church of God. He will return to that position now that he’s been released.

Fryar and his mom fraudulently used the same property to take out mortgages from multiple lenders. His mom got three years of probation.

The 53-year-old Fryar was an All-American at Nebraska, the first overall pick in the 1984 NFL draft and a five-time Pro Bowler for the Patriots, Dolphins and Eagles, although his off-field issues sometimes overshadowed his on-field excellence. He missed the AFC Championship Game in his second NFL season because he had injured his hand in a fight with his wife and was arrested on weapons charges a couple years after that. He retired after the 2000 season with 851 catches for 12,785 yards and 84 touchdowns.

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NFL making $10 million donation to sexual violence prevention groups

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The NFL is preparing to put its wallet behind efforts to end sexual violence.

According to Lindsay Jones of USA Today, the league is going to announce $10 million in funding over the next five years to a group of non-profits working to prevent sexual violence.

“What I can’t stress enough is the potential for this progress and how excited we are to be standing behind these organizations because their goals are so lofty and this is such a huge moment in sexual violence. To be able to use these moments and actually make real change, it’s something that we really believe in,” Anna Isaacson, the NFL’s senior vice president of social responsibility said. “The coalition really believes they can end sexual violence in a generation and they’ve convinced the NFL that they can do it, and that’s really huge and exciting and something that we’re going to be watching closely and following for many years.”

Of course, the league’s going to have to convince plenty of people they’re serious about the efforts, after Ray Rice initially drew a two-game suspension for punching his wife in the face — before video of the incident emerged and caused them to handle such matters more seriously.

The new donations are going to a group called Raliance, a coalition between the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

The NFL met with the NSVRC after the Rice and Greg Hardy situations, and helped to fund sexual assault hotlines. Now, they’re taking a step to become a more active partner with the groups trying to bring changes in patterns of behavior, hopefully doing more than writing a check.

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Bills are in no hurry to build a new stadium

GettyImages-493260416.0 Getty Images

The league is nudging the Bills to begin the process of replacing Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills aren’t budging, yet.

“We have not met and discussed anything relative to all the noise,” Bills president Russ Brandon said regarding a public and private group formed previously for discussing a new stadium, via Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News. “We have not met since April [2014], right after Ralph [Wilson] passed away, on a new stadium. . . . We’re going to take a very slow, quantitative, objective view on what makes sense.”

Here’s what makes sense: With the national mood (except in Las Vegas) changed dramatically when it comes to subsidizing billionaires with taxpayer money for football stadiums, any effort to force the issue now would likely force ownership to pay for most of it themselves — which would force them to consider the basic nuts-and-bolts business decision regarding whether to pay for their own stadium in one of the smallest markets in the league, or whether to pay for their own stadium in a considerably larger market.

Carruci points out that Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has criticized the NFL for pushing the Bills to build a new stadium that would generate all sorts of new revenue, in theory. Brandon isn’t sure that a new stadium would have that effect.

“The key is to realize that we are not L.A.,” Brandon said. “We are not Atlanta. We’re not Minneapolis. People say, ‘Oh, we’re very similar to Minneapolis.’ They have 28 Fortune 500 companies in that community. We have zero. We have to be a regional operation. We know that. That’s proven.”

The absence of a large corporate presence means that there will be far fewer buyers for high-end products like suites.

“With a new stadium comes new economics,” Brandon added. “And with new economics comes a public-private partnership, [Personal Seat Licenses], a lot of infrastructure cost. So we have to look at it in a very macro view and make sure that, as a community and as an organization, that there’s a partnership that exists that makes sense.”

That’s another way of saying that the Bills won’t be building a new stadium without taxpayer money. With taxpayer money currently harder to come by, the Bills aren’t willing to force the issue at a time when the issue could force the team out of town. If/when the Bills believe sufficient public money is available, that’s when a new stadium would likely be pursued.

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Medicinal marijuana advocates speak with NFLPA officials


The medicinal marijuana movement started by former Ravens tackle Eugene Monroe seems to be gaining some steam, and they’re trying to pick up a significant ally in the process.

According to Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post, one of the doctors Monroe’s working with the advocate research into cannabidiols as a pain management option has talked to NFLPA officials about their role in advancing the cause.

Dr. Marcel Bonn-Miller, from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, said he spoke with Nyaka Niilampti, the union’s director of player wellness. Much like a recent call with a pair of NFL medical officials, the session was informational, offering background on their research and the possible benefits.

“It’s really with the PA more than it is the league at this point, because they’re the ones from whom we need help,” Bonn-Miller said. “They’re in the process of circling back around to us to continue the conversation about whether they can help us out.”

Monroe, a growing number of former players and now Titans outside linebacker Derrick Morgan has been beating the drum for more research into compounds called CBDs as an option to the league’s use of opioid pain-killers.

But the researchers hope that adding the NFLPA in their fight against an NFL that has seemed hesitant at best to change their view on anything regarding marijuana (which is legal in two of the 31 cities they do business in).

“Our conversation with the NFL and Players Association has not been about policy,” Bonn-Miller said. “They are reaching out to us to learn more about the research. That’s honestly the most I could ask for at this point — a productive dialogue.”

It’s at least a first step, but getting the players union on board would likely only embolden more players to become advocates, as Monroe and Morgan have.

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Sexual assault trial of C.J. Spillman to begin Monday

C.J. Spillman Getty Images

Former NFL cornerback C.J. Spillman will finally be tried on sexual assault charges stemming from a 2014 incident at the team hotel of the Dallas Cowboys.

According to Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News, Spillman’s trial is set to begin Monday at the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center in Fort Worth, Tex.

Spillman was accused of sexually assaulting a woman at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Tex. on Sept. 20, 2014. Spillman wasn’t officially charged until June 30, 2015 and Spillman played the remainder of the 2014 season with the Cowboys while charges were pending.

He has not been on an NFL roster since the conclusion of the 2014 season.

The charges against Spillman are for second degree felony sexual assault, which could bring between two and 20 years in prison, if convicted.

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Alan Roach to leave Broncos to become Vikings public address announcer

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After 16 years as public address announcer of the Denver Broncos, Alan Roach is returning home to Minnesota to become the public address announcer of the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.

In a post on his own website, Roach announced the move back to his Minnesota roots.

“Having grown up in Minnesota my entire childhood, the Minnesota Vikings have always provided for me what I see in the eyes of Bronco’s fans,” Roach wrote. ” I was raised and trained as a Bronco, but long ago I was born a Viking.  I will become the PA announcer at the new U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis for the Minnesota Vikings starting this August.  I’ll be living a dream!”

Roach joined the Broncos in 1999 after the consecutive Super Bowl titles in 1997 and 1998. He’s worked with the Broncos, Colorado Avalanche and Colorado Rockies, and four Winter Olympics. He also served as the public address announcer for eight straight Super Bowls beginning with Super Bowl XL in 2005 between the Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers, and concluding with Super Bowl XLVII between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens.

Roach is originally from Slayton, Mn.

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Jaelen Strong, George Atallah join Tuesday’s PFT Live

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 09:  Jaelen Strong #11 of the Houston Texans makes a catch against Marcus Peters #22 of the Kansas City Chiefs in the fourth quarter during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at NRG Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images) Getty Images

Slow time or not, there’s still plenty happening in the NFL. On Tuesday morning, we’ll devote three hours (as we do every weekday morning) to reviewing all of the latest in the sport that never has any actual downtime — even in the down time.

Tuesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio includes visits from Texans receiver Jaelen Strong and NFLPA spokesman George Atallah.

Strong, who recently conducted a football camp in Philadelphia, will talk about the improvements he has made entering his second season and the team’s prospects with a new starting quarterback in the fold.

Atallah’s appearance is tied to the ongoing dispute over the investigation sparked by the Al Jazeera PED allegations. We’ve also invited the NFL to have someone address the situation, either Tuesday or Wednesday.

Later in the week, we’ll have Cardinals president Michael Bidwill and Cardinals running back David Johnson, both of whom will discuss the NFL Films All or Nothing series that debuts Friday on

All PFT Live shows are available via podcast at iTunes or audioBoom. Subscribe now, and all shows will be delivered to your chosen device for listening at your leisure.

But don’t be too leisurely. With three hours of new content every day, you’ve got to keep up.

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