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Matt Flynn, inexplicably, survives first half

Dallas Cowboys v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

If anything has become obvious watching the Raiders in the first half, it’s that the team MVP is clearly the doctor who performed triceps surgery on left tackle Jared Veldheer this morning.

Getting Veldheer back this season, which they think is a possibility, could be crucial to the survival of Raiders quarterback Matt Flynn.

Flynn didn’t look comfortable until the two-minute drill against the Saints, primarily because he didn’t have much of a chance for most of the night.

Next-man-up left tackle Alex Barron has struggled mightily against the Saints, and Rob Ryan’s new defense isn’t going to be confused for his father’s 1985 Bears team anytime soon.

Flynn was sacked five times in the first half, making his 12-for-16, 124-yard performance downright heroic. Flynn actually stood in the pocket and delivered a touchdown pass late in the half, which speaks to his toughness as much as his skill.

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Wednesday morning one-liners AP

The Bills have to get better in the red zone.

The Dolphins say they’re committed to the ground game.

The Patriots know their offense has work to do.

After a timeout cost the Jets dearly on Sunday, is it time to revisit the rules on timeouts in the NFL?

Ravens coach John Harbaugh is trying to put the Ray Rice-related distractions behind him.

Said Bengals LB Jayson DiManche of being an undrafted player who earned a roster spot, “I’m a realist, and I knew going into the draft that there was an opportunity that I wouldn’t get drafted. So I went into it with the mindset that it doesn’t matter if I get drafted or not.”

The Browns may have future training camps in Columbus.

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is still in pain after a hard hit from Baltimore’s Courtney Upshaw last week.

Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins is speaking up for the Houston Food Bank.

Colts QB Andrew Luck needs to be better than the ordinary quarterback he’s been so far.

Jaguars coach Gus Bradley wants his rookie receivers to get better.

The Titans’ 3-4 front is getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

The Broncos and Seahawks will battle Sunday for NFL supremacy, at least through Week Three.

Chiefs K Cairo Santos knows patience is thin in the NFL, and he can’t afford many more missed field goals.

Chargers pass rusher Dwight Freeney is off to a good start.

Raiders QB Derek Carr is athletic, smart and gets the ball downfield, according to Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

If the Cowboys run more and QB Tony Romo throws less, that’s fine with Jerry Jones.

Will Giants WR Odell Beckham finally play this week? Maybe.

Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins has made a difference in Philadelphia’s secondary.

Joe Theismann is standing by his preseason comments that Kirk Cousins was outplaying Robert Griffin III.

The Bears are still searching for a replacement for Devin Hester in the return game.

Can the Lions get any thinner at cornerback?

Packers WR Randall Cobb got his work ethic from his parents.

Dealing with the media hasn’t been easy for Vikings players.

The Falcons’ run defense will be tested by the Bucs.

Panthers rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin is going through growing pains.

The Saints have made their mistakes at the worst times, which is why they’ve lost two close games to start the season.

Bucs RB Bobby Rainey has come up big in the early part of this season.

Cardinals QB Drew Stanton says there’s an art to being a backup.

Rams S Rodney McLeod is proving his doubters wrong.

The 49ers are missing Aldon Smith as a pass rusher.

In Seattle, 71 percent of TV viewers on Sunday afternoon were watching the Seahawks game.

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Silence on Peterson could hurt Commissioner more than Rice case

Goodell Getty Images

As the Vikings tripped and skipped and clumsily changed course while trying to process the post-Rice reality of the NFL with the desire to get something in return for the millions to be paid to a face-of-the-franchise player, the league office had nothing to say publicly.

Well, not nothing.  The league office said over the weekend that the child-abuse charges against Adrian Peterson would be reviewed under the personal-conduct policy.  Other than that, crickets.

While in recent years the league office has been willing to empower teams to fashion remedies for rough situations, failure to say or do anything (other than to say the case would be reviewed) in the wake of the release of evidence making it obvious that (1) Peterson did what he’s accused of doing and (2) the pictures of the injuries to his four-year-old son were hard to look at, the league office stuck its head in the sand.

On one hand, it confirms that the league office has reacted to the Ray Rice fiasco by adopting a siege mentality.  On the other hand, it has created a reality in which the league office allowed the Vikings to bumble and fumble their way through a maze of mirrors, harming if not destroying the franchise’s credibility and creating a league-wide problem that, in the wake of the team’s initial decision to let Peterson return, eclipsed the coverup-is-worse-than-the-crime scandal that emerged last week when the Rice video surfaced.

Setting aside the question whether the not-so-independent investigation by Robert Mueller or the Ray Rice appeal or some other vehicle will generate evidence that triggers a decision by the owners to change Commissioners, the lingering inability of the Commissioner to be the Commissioner could result in a decision by the owners to change Commissioners.

While obvious that Roger Goodell couldn’t attend the first regular-season game ever at Levi’s Stadium, it was nevertheless stunning that the Commissioner of the NFL couldn’t attend an NFL game.  Now, with no public words or actions from the Commissioner in connection with media, fan, and sponsor reaction that cried out for visible leadership, the owners have to wonder whether they still actually even have a Commissioner.

Ditto for the Panthers, who are grasping and flailing their way through the Greg Hardy case, with no public comment or action from the league office.  Ditto for the 49ers, who are forced to continue to defend their decision to let Ray McDonald play his way through a domestic violence investigation with no words of support from 345 Park Avenue.

It creates a clear impression that the Commissioner consciously is avoiding any situation for which he could be further criticized, especially where the facts have any similarity to the Rice case.  At some point, it could result in the owners realizing that, regardless of how things got to this point, a new Commissioner is needed simply because the current Commissioner can’t currently be the Commissioner.

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Despite hot start, Bengals facing blackout this week

Andy Dalton, Andrew Whitworth AP

The good news just keeps rolling in for the NFL.

One of the league’s good news stories — on and off the field — could be facing the league’s first television blackout of the season.

According to Richard Skinner of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Bengals aren’t confident they’re going to get to the 85 percent threshold of tickets sold to get the game on local TV.

“Of course we would like see stronger sales and have the game be on TV, and we thought we gave a chance for all of our fans to see us that way by taking on the league’s threshold, but we have a way to go this week,” Bengals ticket manager Andrew Brown said. “We will be staffed accordingly the next few days and hopefully we have a strong [response].”

While there’s plenty of reason for fans to be dissatisfied in other precincts, the Bengals have been a ray of sunshine this year.
Not only are they 2-0 for the first time since 2006, but they’ve got one of the feel-good stories of the league, as people have rallied around defensive tackle Devon Still during his daughter’s fight with cancer.
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Steelers confident Marcus Gilbert will bounce back

Elvis Dumervil, Ben Roethlisberger, Marcus Gilbert AP

Several problematic issues have cropped up in the first two weeks of the Steelers season.

Some of them are widespread, like the defense’s problems stopping the run and the penalties that have plagued the team on both sides of the ball. Some are more specific, like the four sacks allowed by right tackle Marcus Gilbert.

Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that he isn’t overly worried about Gilbert, who signed an extension through 2019 before the season, and credited Elvis Dumervil’s talent for some of the tackle’s struggles last Thursday. He also said he’s confident that Gilbert will bounce back.

“You play 60-plus snaps [in a game], if you give up two sacks it’s a bad game. It is what it is. That’s the nature of our business, and I’m sure as a tackle that’s a challenge that he embraces,” Tomlin said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’m not concerned about Marcus and his ability to rebound from that, his mentality in regards to that rebound. He was in the building yesterday [and] had a good day. I expect him to come back fighting like Rocky.”

Gilbert said he’s identified things that need to be corrected, which he called “nothing catastrophic,” and that he thought he played a “heck of a game” outside of the two sacks. Tackle is the kind of position where two bad plays can blow things up for the entire offense, though, so the Steelers need their faith in him to be rewarded for 60 full minutes in the weeks to come.

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Ravens hoping to get a break on Will Hill suspension

Baltimore Ravens v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

The Ravens are hoping for some good news from the league for a change.

According to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, there’s “guarded optimism” from the team that suspended safety Will Hill will benefit from the league’s pending new drug policy.

Hill was suspended six games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, after two previous suspensions, one for substance abuse and one for performance enhancing drugs.

The Giants cut him this summer after the third suspension, which he claimed was for “second hand smoke.”

If that’s true — and why wouldn’t it be — he could benefit from the increased marijuana thresholds of the new policy.

“I have no sense of that at all,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “No one has spoken to me about that, and I don’t know a thing about that right now. I’m interested in it, though.”

Hill can obviously play, but that was never the issue. If he gets back on the field, the Ravens got a cheap boost, since he’s there on a one-year, $570,000 deal.

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Cowboys defensive tackle Davon Coleman hurt lifting weights

Dallas Cowboys v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

Cowboys defensive linemen have injured themselves in a variety of ways this year and now you can add lifting weights to the list.

Defensive tackle Davon Coleman hurt his left calf while working out on Monday and was on crutches in the team’s locker room on Tuesday. Coleman explained that he was doing squats when he suffered the injury, but downplayed its seriousness.

“I’ll probably play this week,” Coleman said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I’m happy it was in the weight room instead of the field because it’s nothing too serious.”

Coleman signed with the team as an undrafted free agent in the spring and got a start in the season opener with Henry Melton still making his way back to full speed. Coleman played a lot in Week Two as well, recording five tackles in the victory over the Titans, and has seen the fourth-most snaps of all Cowboys defensive linemen over the first two games.

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Peterson now has clear incentive to get his case resolved quickly

Peterson Getty Images

The Constitution gives all citizens the right to a speedy trial.  Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will want to have his trial today, if possible.

The Vikings, after bungling the situation on Monday and then finding a way out of the weeds late Tuesday, have created for Peterson a situation in which he now has an extreme incentive to resolve the criminal charges pending against him.

Peterson is gone until the legal process is resolved.  So he’ll try to resolve the legal process as soon as he can.

Of course, this now gives prosecutors extreme leverage.  With Peterson hopeful to put this behind him so that he can get back to football, he will be more likely to plead guilty to the current charge or a lesser offense in order to put this situation behind him and to return to the NFL.  While a suspension under the personal-conduct policy surely is looming once the situation ends, the sooner Peterson ends the situation, the sooner he gets suspended and returns to football.

When that happens isn’t known.  Where that happens is even more unknown.  The Vikings’ gross mishandling of the situation on Monday makes it hard to ever bring Peterson back.  It also makes it hard for anyone to bring him in.

Not long ago, the topic du jour focused on Peterson’s reported desire to play for the Cowboys after his time with the Vikings ended.  That seemed speculative and distant and highly unlikely.  It now seems prescient — assuming that the Cowboys would be willing to welcome him to the team.

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Bills buyer Terry Pegula meets with finance committee today

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The NFL gets to the the kind of business it would prefer to be doing today.

According to WGRZ in Buffalo, prospective owner Terry Pegula will meet with the league’s finance committee today, the next step in the process of his purchase from the family of the late Ralph Wilson.

Pegula has offered $1.4 billion in cash for the Bills.

The owner of the Buffalo Sabres is a popular choice locally, since he’s calmed concerns about the team relocating.

If his bid is approved by the finance committee as expected, the deal will be voted on by the owners at their October 7-8 meeting.

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Vikings place Adrian Peterson on Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, won’t be with team until legal matters are resolved

Minnesota Vikings v St. Louis Rams Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings have reversed course on Adrian Peterson’s reinstatement to the team and have placed him on the exempt/commissioner’s permission list, which will require Peterson to remain away from all team activities until the resolution of his legal proceedings.

The Vikings released a statement early Wednesday morning that announced their decision regarding Peterson. The pressure was building on the organization after their decision to reinstate Peterson on Monday. Sponsors were beginning to speak up and politicians called for Peterson to remain suspended.

Owners Mark and Zygi Wilf finally elected to alter their decision and found a mechanism to keep Peterson away from the team indefinitely while his legal matters are addressed. The lengthy statement from the team is as follows:

“This has been an ongoing and deliberate process since last Friday’s news. In conversations with the NFL over the last two days, the Vikings advised the League of the team’s decision to revisit the situation regarding Adrian Peterson. In response, the League informed the team of the option to place Adrian on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, which will require that Adrian remain away from all team activities while allowing him to take care of his personal situation until the legal proceedings are resolved. After giving the situation additional thought, we have decided this is the appropriate course of action for the organization and for Adrian.

“We are always focused on trying to make the right decision as an organization. We embrace our role — and the responsibilities that go with it — as a leader in the community, as a business partner and as an organization that can build bridges with our fans and positively impact this great region. We appreciate and value the input we have received from our fans, our partners and the community.

“While we were trying to make a balanced decision yesterday, after further reflection we have concluded that this resolution is best for the Vikings and for Adrian. We want to be clear: we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right. At the same time we want to express our support for Adrian and acknowledge his seven-plus years of outstanding commitment to this organization and this community. Adrian emphasized his desire to avoid further distraction to his teammates and coaches while focusing on his current situation; this resolution accomplishes these objectives as well.

“We will support Adrian during this legal and personal process, but we firmly believe and realize this is the right decision. We hope that all of our fans can respect the process that we have gone through to reach this final decision.”

The Vikings did make an admirable move in getting ahead of the story when they deactivated Peterson for last week’s game against the New England Patriots. However, they made a misstep in bringing him back to the team so quickly while this matter hangs over Peterson.

They have now realized their error and corrected it. With Peterson’s first court hearing not scheduled until October 8, it certainly doesn’t appear he’ll be playing for the Vikings again any time in the near future.

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Nike monitoring Adrian Peterson situation, still selling Peterson merchandise


While Nike outlets based in the Twin Cities have pulled Adrian Peterson merchandise from their shelves, the clothing and sporting goods retailer says Peterson currently remains a Nike athlete.

“Adrian Peterson remains a Nike athlete. His product continues to be available for purchase at Nike retail destinations,” the company said in a statement released to CNBC’s Jessica Golden.

“We are aware of the concerning allegations surrounding Adrian. We will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

Nike continues to sell Peterson’s jersey in their online store and, presumably, in other stores located outside the Twin Cities area. However, they are still clearly paying close attention to Peterson. They join Radisson hotels, governor Mark Dayton, senator Al Franken as entities addressing the handling of Peterson’s situation following the alleged beating of his son in a matter of attempted discipline.

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Report: Dolphins work out LaMichael James

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With Knowshon Moreno being lost for the next month after suffering a dislocated elbow last week, the Miami Dolphins are still on the lookout for help at running back.

The Dolphins already re-signed Daniel Thomas to patch a hole in Moreno’s absence, but they are still evaluating additional options at the position.

According to Field Yates of ESPN, the Dolphins worked out former San Francisco 49ers running back LaMichael James on Tuesday.

With Lamar Miller also hobbled last week by an ankle injury, the Dolphins may need even more help beyond the addition of Thomas.

James was released by the 49ers last week after getting two carries in their season opener against the Dallas Cowboys. The former second-round pick went unclaimed via waivers and has yet to find a new team.

James has carried 41 times for 184 yards in three seasons. He’s also returned 26 kickoffs and 23 punts in his career.

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Bruce Arians says John Abraham is “more than ready to roll” for Cardinals

John Abraham AP

After mulling retirement following a concussion suffered in Week 1 against the San Diego Chargers, pass rusher John Abraham elected to return to the Arizona Cardinals this week and continue his football career.

Now that he’s back with the team, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said Abraham is committed and ready to get back to work.

“You know, when you get that first concussion, and he had a big one, I think it shakes you up sometimes and he thought real hard about it,” Arians said in an interview with Alex Marvez and Bill Polian on Sirius XM NFL Radio. “He’s talked to a bunch of different folks, me included, and stepped back to rest. And just sitting back this weekend and staying at home he missed it a lot and he’s more than ready to roll for down the stretch.”

Arians had said Abraham was lacking the desire to play when he took his leave from the team last week. Abraham will still have to clear concussion protocol before returning to the lineup, a step Arians said he had not accomplished as of Monday.

“I had a long time with [Abraham] today and he’s more than ready. We just have to get him past the concussion protocol. He did not pass today,” Arians said. “We’ll have to wait and see when we can do it again. Hopefully we’ll have him for this week but he’s excited.”

Abraham, 36,  has posted 133.5 sacks in 15 NFL seasons with the New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals. He’s had at least 9.5 sacks in 10 of his 15 seasons including each of the last four years.

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Lions sign CB Danny Gorrer, promote LB Julian Stanford

Danny Gorrer, Marques Colston AP

Low on healthy cornerbacks, the Lions signed one on Tuesday, striking a deal with fifth-year pro Danny Gorrer. The move was one of three made to Detroit’s 53-player roster on Tuesday, according to the NFL’s transactions.

The 28-year-old Gorrer has played in a combined 27 regular season games in stints with St. Louis, Baltimore, Seattle and Tampa Bay. In seven games for the Buccaneers in 2013, Gorrer (6-0, 180) made 10 tackles. Tampa Bay released him with an injury settlement this August.

Gorrer effectively replaces rookie corner Nevin Lawson, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with dislocated toes. Darius Slay, Rashean Mathis and Cassius Vaughn are the Lions’ other cornerbacks.

In addition to signing to Gorrer, the Lions worked out ex-Ravens cornerback Derek Cox on Tuesday, according to Field Yates of

FInally, the Lions made another signing Tuesday, promoting third-year linebacker Julian Stanford from the practice squad. Stanford, 24, appeared in four games for Detroit last season.

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NFL won’t reinstate Rice pending appeal

Rice Getty Images

In most cases, a player’s suspension doesn’t become final until he has exhausted his appeal rights.  In the case of indefinitely suspended running back Ray Rice, that’s not the case.

The NFL contends that Rice remains suspended until his appeal is resolved, or until his suspension ends.

“After the suspension was announced, we said:  Teams have been notified that any contract between a team and Ray Rice will not be approved or take effect until further direction is provided from the commissioner’s office,” the league advised PFT by email.

It means, as a practical matter, that Rice will remain suspended until the appeal ends.  Which means that it’s critical the appeal move forward, as soon as possible.

Of course, even if Rice were reinstated, he’d need to find a team interested in giving him a contract.  That video makes him radioactive, probably for the rest of the season and possibly beyond.  So while he’d potentially have a strong argument in court if he wanted to force the suspension to be lifted while his appeal is processed, that’s likely not the best way to continue his NFL career.

There’s a real chance that his NFL career is over.  But this appeal is about bigger issues than Rice’s career.  It’s about player rights, and it’s about creating a truly independent search for the truth about the league’s shoddy, bungled investigation into the Rice case.

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Preliminary 2015 Hall of Fame ballot announced

Kurt Warner of St. Louis Rams Getty Images

A high-profile rookie class including Chargers linebacker Junior Seau and Rams teammates Kurt Warner, Orlando Pace, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt are among the preliminary nominees for the 2015 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Hall announced the list of 99 players and 14 coaches who will be considered for induction among the modern-era candidates, from which no more than five will be picked.

They will be joined on the ballot by seniors nominee Mick Tingelhoff, and two contributors, for a maximum class of eight.

The list is headlined by the five who were in the final 10 of last year’s voting but not elected: Linebacker Kevin Greene, defensive end Charles Haley, running back Jerome Bettis, guard Will Shields and wide receiver Marvin Harrison.

The group will be reduced to 25 semifinalists in November, and then to 15, which will be voted on the day before the Super Bowl.

Here’s a position-by-position look at the full ballot:

Quarterbacks: (4) – Randall Cunningham, Rich Gannon, Phil Simms, Kurt Warner.

Wide Receivers: (9) – Tim Brown (also KR), Isaac Bruce, Gary Clark, Henry Ellard (also PR), *Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt, Sterling Sharpe, Jimmy Smith, Rod Smith.

Tight End: (1) – Mark Bavaro.

Running Backs: (14) – Shaun Alexander, Ottis Anderson, Tiki Barber, Jerome Bettis, Roger Craig, Stephen Davis, Terrell Davis, Eddie George, Priest Holmes, Edgerrin James, Daryl Johnston, Jamal Lewis, Herschel Walker (also KR), Ricky Watters.

Offensive Linemen: (23) – Willie Anderson (T), Tony Boselli (T), Jeff Bostic (C), Lomas Brown (T), Jim Covert (T), Bill Fralic (G/T), Jay Hilgenberg (C), Chris Hinton (G/T), Kent Hull (C), Joe Jacoby (T), Jon Jansen (T), Mike Kenn (T), Jim Lachey (T), Kevin Mawae (C/G), Mark May (G/T/C),Tom Nalen (C), Nate Newton (G), Orlando Pace (T), Chris Samuels (T), Mark Schlereth (G), Will Shields (G), Tra Thomas (T), Steve Wisniewski (G).

Defensive Linemen: (12) – Al “Bubba” Baker (DE), Jerome Brown (DT), Carl Hairston (DE/DT), Charles Haley (also LB), Jevon Kearse (DE), Dexter Manley (DE), Charles Mann (DE), Steve McMichael (DT/NT), Fred Smerlas (NT), Greg Townsend (DE), Ted Washington (DT/NT), Bryant Young (DE).

Linebackers: (13) – Cornelius Bennett, Tedy Bruschi, Kevin Greene (also DE), Ken Harvey, Clay Matthews, Willie McGinest (also DE), Karl Mecklenburg, Matt Millen, Sam Mills, Junior Seau, Chris Spielman, Darryl Talley, Zach Thomas.

Defensive Backs: (16) – Eric Allen (CB), Steve Atwater (S), Joey Browner (S), LeRoy Butler (S), Thomas Everett (S), Rodney Harrison (S), Ty Law (CB), Albert Lewis (CB), John Lynch (S), Terry McDaniel (CB), Tim McDonald (S), Frank Minnifield (CB), Shawn Springs (CB), Troy Vincent (CB/S), Everson Walls (CB), Darren Woodson (S).

Kickers/Punters: (5) – Morten Andersen (K), Gary Anderson (K), Jason Elam (K), Sean Landeta (P), Nick Lowery (K).

Special Teams/Position Players: (2) – Brian Mitchell (RB/PR/KR), Steve Tasker (also WR).

Coaches: (14) –Don Coryell, Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, Tom Flores, Mike Holmgren, Jimmy Johnson, Chuck Knox, Buddy Parker, Richie Petitbon, Dan Reeves, Lou Saban, Marty Schottenheimer, Clark Shaughnessy, Dick Vermeil.

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