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Ray Anderson is leaving the league office

After eight years on the job, NFL executive V.P. of football operations Ray Anderson has decided to leave the league office.

The NFL announced the decision on Wednesday.  In a release, the league said that Anderson will be pursuing other opportunities.

“I have been involved in many different aspects of the NFL — as an agent, club executive, and league executive,” Anderson said. “I have always enjoyed new challenges and the time is right for me to evolve into the next phase of my career.  I appreciate the opportunity Commissioner Goodell gave me and the support I have enjoyed from a great staff.”

Anderson was a central figure in last year’s lockout of game officials.  It was believed by some in the wake of the lockout that Anderson would be nudged out of his job.  He wasn’t.

In January, word surfaced that Raiders owner Mark Davis possibly would hire Anderson into a “senior executive front office job” in Oakland.  At the time, Amy Trask was serving as the team’s CEO.  She has since resigned.

It’ll be interesting to see how Anderson’s job is filled.  Last year, when we were informed that Anderson would not be fired, we also were told that key management positions no longer will go automatically to “football people” who graduated from other jobs in the football business to significant jobs in the league office.  The league could start looking for folks from other industries who have demonstrated the ability to handle high-paying, high-profile, high-power jobs that entail operating under a high-powered microscope.

Whoever gets the job, that person’s first order of business could be to finalize the penalty imposed on the Steelers for coach Mike Tomlin’s sideline side-step right.  Anderson made the initial determination regarding the imposition of a $100,000 fine on Tomlin.  Eventually, a draft-pick forfeiture or modification will be determined.

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Vernon Davis recalls the hardest hit he ever took, from Kam Chancellor

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Washington tight end Vernon Davis is heading into his 12th NFL season, but one hit stands out above all the rest as the hardest he’s ever taken.

Davis made an appearance for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington and told a group of kids that the hardest hit he’s taken came from Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor, who hit Davis so hard he felt disoriented.

It was crazy. He hit me so hard, I just got up, I didn’t know where I was going. I kind of lost my memory a little bit. I just got up like this, my face was just like aaagh,” Davis said as he made a face, making the kids laugh. “I just didn’t know what happened. I was like, ‘Wow I just got hit by a very big man.’ He hit me hard. You know what somebody told me? He said, ‘Shake it off. It’s all right. Shake it off.’ I’m like, ‘I can’t remember anything. You tell me to shake it off? Why don’t you go shake it off, buddy?’ That was quite a hit.”

The hit Davis referred to gave him a concussion and drew a flag on Chancellor, although Chancellor was not fined by the NFL.

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Dak Prescott working on eliminating “potential Kryptonite”

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Dak Prescott arguably had the best rookie season for a quarterback in history. He went 13-3 as the starter with 3,667 passing yards, 23 touchdowns, only four interceptions and a 104.9 passer rating.

Whether it was easy or not, Prescott made his rookie season look that way.

Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, though, has warned Prescott that defensive coordinators have spent the offseason studying Prescott’s every move.

“You’ve got to build on the good things,” Linehan said, via Matt Mosley and Ed Weder on The Doomsday Podcast. “There were a lot of good things for a young player, but you know they will be gunning for him, studying him a little bit more. You’re not going to sneak up on anybody. They’re going to find out what it is about your game that is strong and what maybe wasn’t as good, and you really dig deep and you study. You say, ‘Hey, I’ve got to be better against this certain, whether it’s this blitz or this coverage they might be working on, my potential Kryptonite so to speak.’ So I think you’ve really got to hone in on that and be a little proactive with it.”

Everyone — from Jerry Jones to Jason Garrett to rookie teammates — has spent the offseason lauding Prescott’s work ethic, which Linehan calls “rare.” Prescott hasn’t sat idly by waiting for defensive coordinators to catch up with him.

“Every day we give him something more,” Linehan said. “It just makes sense to do in a systematic and timely fashion. I don’t think you say, ‘Hey, Dak, in your second year you need to do 10 times more.’ You need to do a few things more every day, just like you did last year. Where you started the season isn’t where you finished. We were doing things at the end of the year we didn’t even dream of doing at the beginning of the year, but there is a time factor that needs to go by.

“…Our job is to put him in a position to succeed and his job is to go out and the execute the plays we call in the situations that we’re in. That’s probably one of his best attributes is he plays his position. He takes it to another level based on a guy who does all the intangible stuff that some guys just don’t get. He’s got that part. The mental side, the experience side, that comes with daily reps and really off the field preparation that he does. He’s got some rare work ethic type stuff.”

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“Huge win” for Michael Floyd

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Yes, Vikings receiver Michael Floyd is going back to jail. No, he’d prefer not to. Yes, the fact that his sentence has been limited to only one day is being viewed by him and his representatives as a major victory.

One source with knowledge of the situation called it a “huge win,” pointing out that the presiding judge had broad discretion. The judge could have, for example, forced Floyd to spend in jail the 96 days he was given the opportunity to serve on house arrest. Likewise, the judge could have imposed a fresh sentence of house arrest, with an order requiring Floyd to serve the term in Arizona.

As it stands, one day in jail and five days of house arrest represent a “can I start serving it right now?”-type of an outcome, allowing Floyd to quickly pay his debt to Arizona and then to focus on his efforts to make the team in Minnesota, and to have a major impact on the field in 2017. This outcome allows him to miss not a single day of training camp and the preseason.

Also, the decision possibly will have no impact on his looming suspension from the league for the extreme DUI guilty plea. He faces a baseline suspension of two games, and it can be increased based on aggravating factors. The positive alcohol test becomes less of a problem if, from the judge’s perspective, the glitch necessitated only one day in jail.

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FOX Sports ditches online written content for video (welcome, former FOX Sports customers)

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The times are a-changing for online written content. But this one is driven more by money grabs than shifting audience habits.

Yes, plenty of younger folks are consuming online content via video. But plenty of folks from all demographics are still looking to get information about sports via the written word.

Here’s the problem: Online videos currently carry much more lucrative advertising dollars (and, in turn, higher commissions) than online articles. Which means that many of the people who are hired to sell advertisements are focusing more on selling video ads than on selling digital ads. Which means that websites are having a harder time selling digital ads, because they are selling more video ads. Which means that websites are focusing on generating video content that will carry the video ads their advertising employees are selling.

Which means that websites are ditching written content that has far fewer advertising dollars attached to it.

The latest, and most significant, example of this phenomenon comes from FOX, which is dumping its entire online writing and editing crew and replacing them with employees who will be enhancing the video operation. Via Bloomberg, by way of SportsBusiness Daily, FOX Sports National Networks President Jamie Horowitz justified the move by explaining that “[c]reating compelling sports video content is what we do best at FOX Sports,” and that FOX Sports “will be shifting our resources and business model away from written content and instead focus on our fans’ growing appetite for premium video across all platforms.”

It’s entirely possible that this claim is true, and that it’s just not cover for the decision to not give all customers what they want but to let the FOX Sports advertising staff chase the biggest commissions in order to serve only those who want video. But if Horowitz’s contention is accurate, that’s on FOX Sports for not hiring people who can generate written content that will whet the appetite of visitors to FOXSports.com.

Either way, welcome to PFT and NBCSports.com, those current-or-soon-to-be-former FOXSports.com customers who can’t or won’t get their information about sports via video, and who have little interest in the #EmbraceControversy style for the purposes of capturing inauthentic moments that will make waves on social media. Here, as you may have noticed, we’re providing content both in writing and through video — but not through video that features yelling and screaming and preening and posturing; instead, we’re generating video that supplements our written content and presents it in an entertaining and engaging way.

If/when FOX decides that it once again can make money from online written content or that it can’t fully and effectively promote video without tying the content to digital articles or that it cares about all of its audience and not just some of it, we hope you’ll remember that we didn’t bail on the format you prefer simply because the current business cycle entails greater financial rewards for generating video.

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Saints place Nick Fairley on non-football illness list

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Saints defensive tackle Nick Fairley has been visiting doctors recently for opinions about a heart condition that created concern about his ability to continue playing in the NFL.

It looks like the consensus is that it is better for Fairley to put his career on hold. The Saints have placed Fairley on the reserve/non-football illness list, which means he will not be playing football for the team this season.

Coach Sean Payton said earlier this month that Fairley visited with three doctors and that at least one of them told him to stop playing football.

The Saints also have the option not to pay Fairley while he is on the list. Fairley signed a four-year, $28 million contract with the Saints after recording 6.5 sacks for the team last season, but Monday’s news casts serious doubt about whether he will be on the field during the life of that deal.

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Taco Charlton’s first endorsement deal not with a taco chain

Taco Charlton seemed like a perfect fit with the Cowboys, what with a name like taco in a Tex-Mex crazy area. So who would have guessed the defensive end’s first endorsement deal would come from a soda company?

Big Red announced in a press release Monday that it had signed Charlton.

“I love my name and I actually do love tacos,” Charlton said in the release. “Although I am new to Texas, I quickly learned that nothing goes better with tacos than Big Red, so I’m excited to partner with such a unique, iconic brand.”

When Charlton arrived in DFW, he received offers of free tacos for life and one local pizza place even named a taco pizza after Charlton. Charlton, whose Twitter handle is @TheSupremeTaco, went on a taco tasting tour around the area soon after arriving.

Charlton’s given name is Vidauntae, but his grandmother nicknamed him “Taco” because he was premature and making a “run for the border,” which was a Taco Bell slogan airing at that time. 

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Michael Floyd sentenced to one day in jail for kombucha violation

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The judge apparently wasn’t a Star Wars fan.

According to Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com, Vikings wide receiver Michael Floyd was sentenced to a day in jail after a Scottsdale judge found him in violation of his house arrest for drinking kombucha tea.

Floyd was prohibited from drinking alcohol as part of his sentence for a December DUI in Arizona, which led the Cardinals to release him. He said he violated the alcohol tests that were a part of the terms of his house arrest (which was transferred to Minnesota) by drinking the tea, which he didn’t realize contained alcohol.

The Vikings bought that explanation, but the Scottsdale judge didn’t care. Floyd also has to serve the remaining five days of his house arrest.

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Michael Strahan unconcerned about Odell Beckham skipping OTAs

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Michael Strahan is unconcerned about Odell Beckham Jr. skipping the Giants’ organized team activities, pointing to Beckham’s work ethic and commitment to football.

I’ve seen this kid work,” Strahan said at the Just Rivals.com Golf Classic, via Jordan Raanan of ESPN. “I’ve talked to him this offseason. His head is where it needs to be.

“Everybody gives him a hard time about missing a little OTAs. Hell, I didn’t go to those things, so I’m the wrong person to be sympathetic for people who are giving him a hard time.”

Beckham spent most of the offseason in Los Angeles working with his personal trainer. The receiver showed up for the Giants’ mandatory minicamp earlier this month and is expected to report to training camp with his teammates July 27.

The Giants hope Beckham’s career is as productive as Strahan’s was. In 15 seasons with the Giants, Strahan had 141.5 sacks and was inducted in to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014.

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Arthur Blank expects Devonta Freeman extension soon

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Falcons running back Devonta Freeman’s contract has been a storyline since Super Bowl week with Freeman making it clear he wants an extension as he moves into the final year of his rookie contract.

Freeman said recently that he believes “something special is coming” and the guy who would ultimately be paying the salary associated with any deal supports that viewpoint.

During an appearance with Jamie Dukes and Mike Bell on 92.9 The Game on Monday, Falcons owner Arthur Blank was asked about contract talks with Freeman. Blank said that he expects a deal with Freeman will be completed soon.

Blank added that General Manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn will be doing the legwork on negotiating a deal. Dimitroff said in May that he expected conversations about the extension to heat up heading into camp, so it looks like that timeline is shaping up as an accurate one.

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Khalif Barnes hopes to stick with Saints

Khalif Barnes keeps showing up on the Saints’ transaction wire, but he also keeps returning. The Saints have listed the veteran offensive lineman in their transactions 11 times the past 10 months.

It was unfamiliar territory, but, as crazy as it sounds, I knew they weren’t really letting me go,” Barnes said, via Josh Katzenstein of the New Orleans Time-Picayune. “It was just their demeanor and how they would do it.

“It was a weird sense of loyalty on both sides.”

Barnes, a second-round pick of the Jaguars in 2005, played four seasons in Jacksonville and seven in Oakland with 117 career starts. He spent a few days with the Saints last season but never played. Barnes went from 358 pounds when he tried out for the Saints last August to 315 pounds for a tryout at the Saints’ rookie minicamp last month.

It was Barnes’ first rookie minicamp since 2005.

Barnes, 35, will compete to fill in for left tackle Terron Armstead, who is expected to miss at least the first six games of the regular season after shoulder surgery. For Barnes, just making the active roster will prove an accomplishment after seeing his name on the waiver wire so many times.

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Drug charges against Matt Elam dropped

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Former Ravens first-round pick Matt Elam was arrested twice this offseason, but he is no longer facing criminal charges in either of those matters.

According to multiple reports, authorities in Florida have dropped drug charges against Elam related to a February arrest. Theft and battery charges stemming from a May incident were dropped last week.

Elam was arrested in Miami-Dade County after a traffic stop on February 26. He was charged with marijuana possession, possession with the intent to sell or deliver and possession of a controlled substance after police found marijuana and oxycodone in the vehicle.

Elam played safety for the Ravens for the last four years, but the team did not pick up their option on his contract for the 2017 season. He became a free agent in March as a result and has not drawn any reported interest, although that could potentially change now that Elam is no longer facing charges.

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Jameill Showers still in NFL, outlasting college teammate Johnny Manziel

Jameill Showers still is most well known for being the quarterback Johnny Manziel beat out for the starting job at Texas A&M. Yet, while Manziel is out the NFL, Showers still has a job, albeit at a different position.

Showers will try to make the Cowboys’ active roster at safety after making the move to defense during the 2016 season.

“That was the talk that me and coach [Jason] Garrett had in October whenever he first asked me to move was, we want you to focus on safety because you do well there, and it’ll give you a chance to move up on special teams,” Showers said. “He was like, ‘We don’t want to put you in a position where you’re a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none situation.’ I definitely respect it, and I’m trying to work hard for it.

“I’m excited about it. I think it’ll give me more opportunities to play, especially special teams, things like that. I think it just kind of puts more on my resume as far as a football player, even if things don’t work out here or wherever. Or even if they do, I’ll have more that I can do. That’s what I heard is the more you can do, the longer you stay type of deal.”

Showers spent two seasons on the practice squad, playing multiple positions, including quarterback. He had not played safety since he was a freshman in high school when the Cowboys approached him in the middle of last season about converting to defense full time.

Showers has found the hardest part of the change is not being able “to eat like a quarterback anymore.” He weighed 230 pounds as a quarterback. He needs to get down to 215 to play safety with still a few more pounds to lose.

“I’m really happy with what Showers has done,” Cowboys secondary coach Joe Baker said. “He’s turned his body from a quarterback body into a defensive back body, which looks a lot different. You can tell he looks slimmer. He’s moving a lot better. The whole athleticism part of it is so much different at that position, and so I’m really proud of how he’s worked. He’s still got a ways to go, but movement-wise in terms of his backpedaling, changing direction, all those things we do as defensive backs, he’s really doing a nice job.”

The Cowboys lost two safeties in free agency, with Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox departing. That gives Showers a better chance to make the active roster than what he otherwise would have had, but he still faces an uphill battle with far less experience than his competition.

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Monday non-vacation vacation PFT Live podcast is available

So while I’m on vacation from PFT Live, I’m not really on vacation. On most weekdays, I’ll post a podcast-only edition of PFT Live.

Monday’s 45-minute, fast-paced tour of the NFL is available now.

Find it free of charge (as always) at Apple Podcasts, audioBoom, and wherever else you can get the PFT Live podcast.

If you like it, subscribe to it. Tomorrow, you’ll have another one locked and loaded, typically by lunch time.

Now back to my vacation. Which is basically my usual day-in, day-in existence.

The goal is to induce envy; I think the emotion you’re actually feeling is pity.

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Jets fans have no issue with tanking, but don’t approve of owner

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The Jets currently aren’t good. And they seem to be embracing the opportunity to be as bad as they possibly could be. And their season-ticket holders don’t seem to have a problem with that.

As explained by Brian Costello the New York Post, a survey of Jets season-ticket holders shows that they have no objection to the team’s apparent tanking.

Question: “What do you think of the Jets’ current plan to get rid of older, expensive players and sacrifice the 2017 season in order to get a high pick in 2018?” Of the 110 who responded, 79 percent approved of the approach. Still, 80 percent of those who responded will still root for the Jets to win.

But that’s not because of the current owner. Fifty-six percent of the season-ticket holders said they don’t approve of the job Woody Johnson is doing. For them, the good news is that his brother, Christopher Wold Johnson, will eventually be doing that job, once Woody becomes the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Some think that could be better for the Jets, putting someone/anyone else in charge of what could be a long-overdue turnaround of the franchise.

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Ortiz roast scrapped from TV, due in part to Gronk being Gronk

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Sometimes, Gronk being Gronk isn’t suitable for television.

Via the Boston Globe, last week’s roast of former Red Sox star David Ortiz ended up not being shown on NESN over the weekend due to concerns about the over-the-top nature of many of the jokes. Some of those were told by, or referred to, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Others referred to former (and now deceased) Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.

Jimmy Traina of SI.com has posted the video of Gronkowski’s routine, which likely prompted The Situation to say, “Man, that was awkward.”

“Anthony [Mackie] played Falcon in Captain America: Civil War. Anthony, you were terrible, dog. It was the worst I’ve seen a Falcon look since the second half of Super Bowl LI,” said Gronkowski regarding the game in which he was unable to participate due to injury. “I don’t even need to play the f–king game, and I’m still going to the Hall of Fame! And that superhero, you know, that Falcon, the superhero. That’s the black guy. You know, who can even fly when he’s not being chased by the cops? That’s his super power.”

That wasn’t the only potentially offensive joke Gronkowski told: “You wanna know why Jews do play football? To get their quarter back, you cheap f–k.”

And then there was this one, possibly from the Christmas album and apparently in reference to Ortiz’s reputation for showing up late to his endorsement appointments: “David, thanks for showing up on time to all the Dunkin Donuts shoots. I had a blast jackin’ off for two hours in your green room every time. Hopefully you never use those pillows on your breaks.”

Hopefully, Gronk will never do standup comedy again.

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