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Paul Tagliabue not a Hall finalist for fifth straight year

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For the fifth consecutive year, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue is not a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Tagliabue, who was commissioner from 1989 through 2006, was one of the 25 semifinalists for the Class of 2014, but he is not among the 15 modern-era candidates and two senior candidates to be considered when the Hall’s Selection Committee meets on Saturday, February 1.

Tagliabue was a finalist in 2007, 2008 and 2009, but he did not receive the support necessary for induction.

The commissioners who preceded Tagliabue — Pete Rozelle (1960-1989) and Bert Bell (1946-1959) — are each in the Hall of Fame. Each were inducted as contributors. As MDS noted last year, considering contributors alongside of players can provide challenges for the committee.

The Hall can elect as many as five modern-era candidates as well as two members recommended by the organization’s Seniors Committee, which considers candidates who have been out of football for more than 25 years.

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Russell Wilson’s abstinence sparks ESPN in-house Twitter fight

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On Monday, a lengthy interview with Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson at a San Diego church generated plenty of headlines. The biggest headline (elsewhere) was that Wilson and his current girlfriend, Ciara, aren’t having sex, because God told Wilson not to have sex with her.

The comments have invited a wide range of opinions. Within ESPN, they have provoked a Twitter fight.

Bomani Jones questioned the wisdom of Wilson’s position on ESPN’s Highly Questionable. And ESPN’s Chris Broussard quickly responded.

“Regarding Russell/Ciara u implied people trying to do it Jesus’ way by waiting till marriage r stupid,” Broussard said. “U owe all Bible-believing Christians trying to live as Russell/Ciara are an apology.”

Jones refused to back down, saying “not today” in response to Broussard’s demand for apology and then elaborating on the position.

“I think americans value chastity in a way i find silly, problematic, and ultimately, counterproductive,” Jones said. “I don’t apologize for that.”

Jones makes a very good point as it relates to the potential consequences of chastity — people (like Johnny Dangerously’s kid brother) getting married before they really should, so that they can have sex.

“If i was a 22 year-old virgin i would have hastily gotten married cuz…yanno?” Jones said on Twitter.

There’s other thought-provoking stuff on Twitter from Jones, which will definitely invite further debate among Christians who believe that premarital sex is forbidden and who successfully practiced that ideal, Christians who believe that premarital sex is not prohibited, and Christians who believe that premarital sex is forbidden but who nevertheless had it and/or are still having it.

For ESPN, the bigger problem is that a pair of its employees are squaring off on the subject, with Broussard firing the first shot and Jones being both candid and respectful in his replies. If ESPN is going to have shows that are heavy on opinion, ESPN perhaps needs to better inform its employees to handle any complaints about any of those opinions internally, not through social media.

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NFL to hold part of its kickoff celebration in the Bay Area

Sea gull takes flight with Golden Gate Bridge in the background during sunset in San Francisco Reuters

The game’s in New England, and the Steelers are the visitors.

But the NFL is planning part of its pre-game hype for the regular season opener on the other coast.

According to Alex Marvez of FOX Sports, there will be events in the San Francisco area along with the typical party they throw at the site of the game.

The location coincides with the venue for Super Bowl 50 (I think I still prefer L), and having the concert there allows the league to begin the promotion of that game early.

The league hasn’t announced the musical act for the Bay Area concert, though the Golden State Warriors hit it out of the park by having Carlos Santana and Metallica play national anthems during the NBA Finals.

On the other hand, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady grew up in nearby San Mateo, so they might just station a camera at his old high school since he’s not going to be playing in the game anyway (pending his appeal).

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Coral Springs PD says JPP won’t face charges for fireworks possession

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We’re still waiting to find out if Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is going to miss any time during training camp and the 2015 regular season because of the hand injuries he suffered while setting off fireworks last weekend, but we won’t have to keep an eye open for criminal charges.

On Tuesday, Jordan Raanan of NJ.com reported that the Coral Springs, Florida Police Department opened an investigation into the incident that could have led to Pierre-Paul facing charges of criminal fireworks possession. One of the things they were investigating was whether Pierre-Paul was in Coral Springs when he discharged the fireworks and it apparently didn’t take them long to find out.

Raanan updated his original report later on Tuesday afternoon with word from the Coral Springs police that they will not be pursuing charges against the Giant. Per the report, the investigation determined Pierre-Paul was not in their jurisdiction at the time. Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports reports that other police departments are monitoring and might launch their own investigation once jurisdiction is determined.

Avoiding criminal charges is always a positive, although Pierre-Paul has plenty of other consequences to deal with from his decision to light up the sky on July 4.

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Police are investigating JPP’s fireworks incident

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When it comes to the July 4 fireworks incident that seriously injured Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, he may have something else to worry about. Something that pales in comparison to the injuries he sustained.

According to Jordan Ranaan of NJ.com, the Coral Springs, Florida police have commenced an investigation regarding the incident. Pierre-Paul could face charges for illegal possession of fireworks

Per Ranaan, the authorities have contacted Pierre-Paul and his agents in an effort to arrange a meeting.

If Pierre-Paul is indeed going to face charges for illegal possession of fireworks on the Fourth of July, there are at least a few million people throughout the country who could be sharing a cell with him. So why not just leave the guy alone while he deals with far more serious consequences than whatever fine or slap on the wrist the law would require?

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Tom Jackson receives Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Award

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At a time when Sunday Ticket and Red Zone Channel make it possible to watch every NFL game, and big plays instantly get tweeted as GIFs, it’s easy to forget just how big an innovation NFL Primetime was.

Primetime, which aired Sunday evenings on ESPN beginning in 1987, was the one and only way for NFL fans to see all the best highlights from the day’s NFL action. Before Primetime, most fans only got to see a couple of games shown on their local network affiliates, and then maybe a few minutes of highlights from other games. Primetime was a full hour of highlights. You didn’t just see the touchdown, you saw the two third-down conversions that kept the drive alive before the touchdown. You didn’t just see the sack, you saw another angle that showed why the quarterback couldn’t find an open receiver. When you watched Primetime in those pre-Internet, pre-DirecTV days, you felt like a whole new world of football had been opened up to you.

And you heard expert analysis that ventured far beyond the ordinary highlight-reel shtick. That expert analysis, provided by former Broncos linebacker Tom Jackson, may have been the best thing of all about NFL Primetime. Jackson, who has just been named as the recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Award, could be overshadowed at times by Primetime host Chris Berman, whose boisterous personality and array of nicknames made him ESPN’s first star. And Primetime had other co-hosts as well, including Pete Axthelm, Robin Roberts, Bill Pidto, and Stuart Scott. But it was Jackson’s steady hand that kept Primetime focused. Jackson had fun with the highlights while also remembering that the types of people who were watching Primetime were hard-core football fans who didn’t need to be entertained by anything other than football.

Eventually, Primetime faded away (although it still exists, in a different format as a Monday follow-up show) because a pure highlights show just isn’t necessary anymore. Jackson, however, remains a staple of ESPN’s NFL programming, having been there for 28 years — twice as long as his 14-season career with the Broncos. The Rozelle Award, which the Hall of Fame awards each year to recognize longtime exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football, couldn’t go to a more deserving recipient.

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Brett Favre says he’ll probably “wing it” during his Lambeau speech

File photo of Brett Favre in New Orleans Reuters

When Brett Favre was playing, some of his most memorable moments were on the fly.

So it makes sense that when he’s inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame on July 18, that he’s not planning on having it all written down.

“I think what I’ll probably say initially is, ‘I thought about writing something down. I thought about writing a script, but you know what? I figured I’d wing it sort of like I played, so just bear with me,'” Favre said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “It’s only fitting.

“I don’t want to sit there and make it longer than the whole event is anyway — and it’s going to be long — but I do want to acknowledge a lot of people and just maybe tell a few funny stories, kind of keep it as lighthearted as possible. It could be 20 minutes, it could be an hour, I don’t know.”

Of course, if the speech truly reflects his playing days, he’ll finish his talk, accept a round of applause, decide to tell another story, then leave the stage again, before coming back on a different stage altogether before wrapping it up.

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Victor Cruz: Everyone’s under the assumption that I’m ready to go

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The Giants have spent the last few days trying to figure out when defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul will be able to return to the team after his fireworks injury over the weekend.

It doesn’t sound like they expect to deal with much uncertainty about wide receiver Victor Cruz, however. Cruz has maintained all offseason that he expects to be ready to go for training camp after tearing his patellar tendon last season and said on Tuesday that everyone with a say in the matter also feels confident that Cruz will avoid the physically unable to perform list when the team reports to training camp.

“From the training staff, the coaches and the front office people, I think everyone’s under the assumption that I’ll be ready to go,” Cruz said on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Bruce Murray and Rich Gannon. “I don’t think PUP will be an option. Obviously, if it comes about then that’s a conversation I have to have with my superiors. It seems like I’m on track to be ready for training camp and, God willing, be out there Week One.”

Cruz’s return to the field is a major milestone, obviously, but how he looks while on the field will be more significant to Giants hopes for the 2015 season. Torn patellar tendons have robbed some players of the speed and agility they rode to the NFL altogether and others have needed extended time before they return to form. Neither outcome would be a plus for the Giants, who are looking for Cruz to be part of a potent passing attack in offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s second season.

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McNabb makes statement about latest DUI arrest

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Former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb currently works in the media, on TV with FOX and on radio with NBC Sports Radio.

His weekday show with Mark Malone follows PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, running from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET. On Tuesday, McNabb addressed the report that he was arrested for a second time in Arizona on DUI charges at the top of the first hour of the program.

“There was a story that was released, and I want everybody to be cognizant of it, because I am very aware of it, handling the matter at this particular point,” McNabb said. “But at this point, I have no further information, and as we continue on with the situation, then we’ll let it handle as it will handle itself.”

Obviously, McNabb isn’t going to address the substance of the allegation, given that anything he says can be used against him in court. And with second-offense DUI in Arizona entailing a mandatory sentence of 90 days in jail, McNabb should do nothing to undermine his right to mount a vigorous defense in court.

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Steelers, Vikings head to camp in 18 days

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We’ve reached the point in the offseason where more and more fans are wishing the next two months of their lives away, so that football will be back. They don’t have to wish much of it away to get training camp, which opens in full for two teams in 18 days.

The Steelers, under ninth-year coach Mike Tomlin, and Vikings, under second-year coach Mike Zimmer, launch training camp on July 25, in advance of their meeting in Canton for the Hall of Fame game.

The full list of all reporting dates for all teams can be seen here. (The Ravens actually will be the first team to open its doors, with rookies showing up on July 22. The veterans get there a week later.)

The real date to target is September 10, when the regular season begins. But for those who just can’t wait for football to return, 65 glorified scrimmages to be played in the month of August and early September will have to serve as the appetizer.

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The Marshawn Lynch biopic will never be released

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As if there were any doubt held by anyone who saw the abysmal trailer that appeared online in February, the movie about the life of Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch will never be released.

Yes, Family First: The Marshawn Lynch Story, directed by family friend Mario Bobino, has been deemed to be a bombino. (I did what you see there.)

“He did a terrible job, and the film will never be released,” agent Doug Hendrickson told Rolling Stone.

Apparently, that’s not the end of the story, because Bobino is now writing a script for a movie about his struggles in making the film, and regarding the things that occurred after the trailer emerged — prompting Lynch to tell TMZ, “It doesn’t look like some sh-t nobody would want their name attached to.”

It’s too late for that, because Lynch’s name is now permanently attached to the movie. And it’s safe to say it’s just a matter of time before someone gets their hands on the finished product and puts the whole thing online.

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Shannon Sharpe: Antonio Gates “cheated the game”

Antonio Gates AP

When Chargers tight end Antonio Gates was suspended four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, he said he “never knowingly ingested” a banned substance and suggested that a supplement with incomplete ingredients triggered the violation.

His longtime teammate Philip Rivers said this week that he believes Gates is being honest and that it was “tough knowing” that Gates’s reputation might take a hit in the wake of the news. Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe thought that Gates was a “slam dunk” to join him in Canton before last Thursday’s suspension, but he thinks Gates’s whole career is up for reconsideration now.

During an appearance on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Bob Papa and Vic Carucci, Sharpe said that he isn’t buying the latest explanation from a player that they accidentally took a banned substance and that he thinks Gates “cheated the game.”

“It calls into question everything that he’s ever accomplished,” Sharpe said. “If he does it at the beginning of his career because he was an undrafted free agent, people are gonna say he did it to get in the league. Now he did it Year 13, Year 14 — People are going to say he did it to remain in the league. It does, it makes you question everything someone has ever accomplished.”

If Gates were a baseball player, this suspension would likely leave him outside of the Hall alongside Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and others who were tarred by admitted or suspected PED use. The NFL hasn’t seen Hall of Fame candidates at Gates’s level in the same boat unless you’re making room for Ray Lewis and his deer antler spray.

Voters will weigh the positive test along with the rest of Gates’s career when his name does come up for consideration in the future. The rest of that career hasn’t seen Gates suspended for violating league policies, but that might not matter if Sharpe’s view is shared by a wide audience.

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Donovan McNabb faces minimum sentence of 90 days for second DUI

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As Josh Alper noted in the initial post regarding former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb’s second DUI arrest, he faces something more significant than the 24 hours he spent behind bars for his first offense in 2014. It looks like he now faces a minimum sentence of 24 hours, times 90.

The minimum sentence for second-offense DUI in Arizona is 90 days in jail, with a maximum sentence of six months.

The circumstances of the arrest, including McNabb’s blood-alcohol concentration, could increase the penalties. Also, McNabb could mount a successful defense to the new charges, obtaining an acquittal through the legal process.

However it turns out, McNabb didn’t seem too concerned about the situation in the aftermath of the arrest, which happened late on June 28. On June 29, he tweeted a picture of himself holding a new pair of shoes.

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Donovan McNabb arrested again for DUI

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Former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb served a day in jail in Maricopa County, Arizona last year after being arrested on DUI charges and may be in line for more time in the custody of the state in the near future.

McNabb was arrested just before midnight on June 28 in Gilbert, Arizona and arrested on DUI charges after a traffic accident, according to a statement from the Gilbert Police Department that was provided to Deadspin.

“On 06/28/2015 at approximately 2335 hours, officers responded to a non-injury collision involving two vehicles which occurred just west of the intersection at E Chandler Heights Rd and S Higley Rd in Gilbert, AZ. Subsequent investigation revealed Donovan McNabb (11/25/76) was impaired by alcohol and collided in a rear-end fashion with another vehicle which was stopped at a red traffic signal. Donovan was arrested for DUI at 2358 hours and transported to the Gilbert/Chandler Unified Holding Facility for processing, after which, he was cited and released.”

If McNabb is prosecuted and convicted of the charge, his prior DUI may mean he has to spend more than 24 hours in jail this time since it seems the previous punishment didn’t serve as much of a deterrent.

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Ronald Darby wades into De’Andre Johnson debate, quickly retreats

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A current NFL player who may or may not know something about whatever former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston may or may not have done to Erica Kinsman decided on Tuesday morning to share some opinions on Twitter about recently-former Florida State quarterback De’Andre Johnson, who was kicked out of school after video surfaced of Johnson brutally punching a female at a Tallahasse bar — a punch that came after the woman hit Johnson first.

The tweets were quickly deleted. I saw the first two before they disappeared: “What I want to know is whats happening to the girl that clearly his De’andre first? It’s never right to hit a girl at all. But they have to get some kind of consequence as well. Yall can’t keep letting females provoke guys in all ways then walk free. Like?”

The folks at WNY WaterCooler have the text of Darby’s responses to various Twitter handles, in which he says he was “speaking the truth,” that he “said nothing wrong,” that Johnson’s “career could be done,” and that he’s “confused” by the criticism he received.

Eventually, Darby became sufficiently confused (or unconfused) to punt, wiping out all of the tweets and his responses but not erasing this retweet of a response to his message: “bad tweet cuz your an NFL player and will take back lash. Both deserve punishment but he has to be a bigger/smarter person.”

And that’s the message that makes the most sense. Unless an elite athlete is under attack by another elite athlete (or by a non-elite athlete with a weapon), the elite athlete needs to disengage and, if necessary, flee. The non-elite athlete who punches or hits or otherwise strikes the elite athlete can then be prosecuted.

If punches are traded, both can be prosecuted, in theory. But the one who does the most damage is likely to suffer the greater consequence — especially if the one who inflicted the most damage ultimately suffered none.

The fact that Darby, who attended the Rookie Symposium last month, doesn’t understand this means that the NFL’s new domestic violence training protocol needs to do a better job of instructing players to disengage and, if necessary, to flee when under attack by someone who isn’t actually able to truly harm them.

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Brett Favre realizes he shares some blame for split with Packers

Brett Favre AP

If you were ever confused about how things between the Packers and Brett Favre got so weird, so fast in 2008, you’re not alone.

He is too.

“I think at some point what crossed my mind was, ‘How did it ever get to this point?‘” Favre said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “To be arguably one of the most successful players in Packers history, and I would think [a player who was] well-received by the fans, especially up to that point, you’re just thinking, ‘How did it get to this point?’

“Of course, we’ve talked about that, and I take my share of the blame as well, but it was just hard. It was a surreal feeling.”

That there was tension between the team and its star quarterback isn’t a far-flung idea, especially since they had his replacement parked there waiting to take over. But Favre said during his last round of meetings with coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson, it was clear his time there was done.

“It was for the most part cordial,” Favre said. “It was like, ‘What do we do?’ That was the million-dollar question, I guess. I got a sense that there wasn’t many options on my part. It was frustrating, and I know it was frustrating for them, as well.

“When I left, it was like, I don’t know if we’re any closer than where we need to be when I got there that morning. Emotions were running high, but all in all I think it was pretty cordial, considering the circumstances.”

Of course, Favre wanting to stay in the NFC North was something the Packers objected to, and refused to go along with.

“I felt like I wasn’t good enough to play there but was good enough to not play against them,” Favre said, “and that bothered me.”

It took a year with the Jets before he was able to get his wish and play for the Vikings, but time has been able to heal the wound sufficiently.

Favre will return to Lambeau Field next week to be inducted to the team’s hall of fame, and will also have his jersey retired on Thanksgiving night.

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