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PFWA “extremely disappointed” by Lynch’s conduct at Media Day

Lynch AP

Media Day has come and gone.  But its impact will linger, for a bit at least

The Pro Football Writers of America have issued a statement regarding Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch’s conduct at Media Day, and regarding the NFL’s response to it.

Lynch left his designated area after only six minutes, hid off to the side, eventually spoke to Deion Sanders of NFL Network, and said “sh-t” during the live conversation.  In a statement emailed last night to PFT, league spokesman Brian McCarthy said, “Players are required to participate and he participated.  We will continue to monitor the situation.”

“The Pro Football Writers of America, the official voice of pro football writers fighting and promoting for access to NFL personnel to best serve the public, is extremely disappointed in the lack of meaningful access to Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch at the Super Bowl XLVIII media day on Tuesday,” the PFWA said in a statement issued by president D. Orlando Ledbetter.

“Several of our long-standing and high profile members were appalled by Mr. Lynch’s conduct and refusal to answer any questions.  We find the statement that by the league that ‘Players are required to participate and he participated’ to be an affront to our membership.  However, we are encouraged that the league will continue to closely monitor this situation.”

Lynch will be exposed to the media at least two more times for the rest of the week.  If he fails to comply with the NFL’s media policies, he faces up to $100,000 in fines.

The PFWA believes he already has violated league policies.  During last night’s edition of Pro Football Talk at the Super Bowl on NBCSN, both Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison said that media access goes with the territory, and that Lynch should have fully complied with the expectation that he’ll be available for an hour.

Dungy pointed out that, when the Colts made it to the Super Bowl, even media-averse receiver Marvin Harrison made himself available for the full hour.  Over the years, plenty of other guys who surely preferred not to be there did the same thing.

If they all did it, Lynch should be expected to do the same.

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Joe Montana thinks Tom Brady ordered footballs to be deflated

Rudy Giuliani & Joe Montana Visit FOX & Friends Getty Images

Tom Brady has said many times this week that Joe Montana was his childhood hero. Brady probably won’t be thrilled with his favorite player’s thoughts about Deflategate.

“If I ever want a ball a certain way, I don’t do it myself,” Montana said, via the Boston Globe. “So, somebody did it for him. But I don’t know why everybody is making a big deal out of trying to figure out who did it. It’s pretty simple. If it was done, it was done for a reason.”

Montana doesn’t seem to think deflated footballs are a big deal, but he also doesn’t think the Patriots’ footballs would have become deflated in the AFC Championship Game for any reason other than Brady wanting someone to do it.

“I mean, it’s easy to figure out who did it,” Montana said. “Did Tom do it? No, but Tom likes the balls that way, obviously, or you wouldn’t have 11 of them that way without him complaining, because as a quarterback, you know how you like the ball. If it doesn’t feel like that, something is wrong. It’s a stupid thing to even be talking about because they shouldn’t have the rule anyway. If you want to see the game played at the best, everybody has a different grip, everybody likes a different feel.”

If the Patriots win on Sunday, Brady will join Montana and Terry Bradshaw as the only starting quarterbacks to earn four Super Bowl rings.

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Prop Challenge, Day VII — Will there be a safety in the Super Bowl?

Super Bowl XLVII - Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

Leading up to Super Bowl XLIX, we’ll take a closer look at one proposition bet per day, something we’ve dubbed PFT’s Prop Challenge.

Here’s the idea: we present a prop, do some light analysis, then let you decide which side to take — hypothetically, of course. (Previous examples are at the bottom of this post.)

When the Super Bowl wraps up, we’ll tally the votes and see how well PFT Planet did.

Now, let’s get to today’s prop, which is courtesy of oddsmaker William Hill U.S.:

Will there be a safety in the Super Bowl?

Yes: +475 (opened +450).

No: -600 (opening odds).

As of earlier Thursday, William Hill U.S. had written more tickets on the “Yes” side of the safety bet than on any other prop.

The appeal of “Yes” is obvious. At +475, a winning $10 bet will pay $47.50, with $57.50 in total returning to the bettor. That’s the sort of victory that can leave a Las Vegas visitor feeling as cool as Danny Ocean ordering a whiskey at the Bellagio.

Also, the last three Super Bowls have featured safeties, with all coming on different kinds of plays.

Last season, a snap over Peyton Manning’s head got the scoring going as Seattle sprinted to a 43-8 rout.

The previous year, Baltimore punter Sam Koch took a safety in the waning seconds to kill time and to take a block or return score out of play in the Ravens’ 34-31 victory.

Finally, New England’s Tom Brady was flagged for intentional grounding in the endzone to put the first points on the board in Super Bowl XLVI, a 21-17 Giants win.

Overall, there have been nine safeties in 48 Super Bowls — about one per every 5.3 games. And if just considering Super Bowl history, there might be a decent-enough case for the “Yes” for those wanting to take a flier at +475.

However, the Super Bowl safety rate is very high relative to regular-season play.

Since 2011, safeties have occurred about once per every 13.7 regular-season contests.

However, in that same span, the safety rate jumps to one per every 6.1 playoff games.

Take the last three Super Bowls out, however, and the rate is just one safety for every 10 games.

What does this all mean?

Well, we leave it up to you to decide. How would you play it — yes or no?

The poll is open, as are the comments.

Go get ‘em.

Previous props studied:

Day I: Over-Under on Brandon LaFell’s receiving yards.

Day II: Over-Under on Doug Baldwin’s catches.

Day III: Will Rob Gronkowski score a touchdown?

Day IV: Will there be a one-yard TD in the Super Bowl?

Day V: Over-Under on Tim Wright’s receiving yards.

Day VI: Over-Under on LeGarrette Blount’s carries.

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Other granddaughter fires back at family members “publicly harassing” Tom Benson

Benson Getty Images

The Benson family feud continues to spread.

The latest development comes courtesy of Dawn Jones, a granddaughter of Saints owner Tom Benson who takes issue with the strife caused by her aunt and two cousins.

“Unfortunately it is now public knowledge that an ugly conflict is taking place in our family,” Jones said in a statement released to the media. “I have remained silent over the past week in hopes that the conflict would be resolved quickly and quietly once other family members saw the irreparable damage that was being done by their actions. It has become apparent over the last few days that they have no intention of stopping their relentless attacks, so at this time I would like to publicly state my support for my grandfather, Tom Benson. My husband, my children and I all have a great relationship with my grandfather and Gayle. I have recently spent time with them both and communicate with them on a regular basis. I have witnessed nothing that warrants the actions that are currently being taken. I am brokenhearted that other family members have chosen to publicly harass and humiliate the patriarch of our family — the very person who is responsible for giving them everything they have. During this difficult time I would ask that you pray for the entire family, especially for my grandfather, Tom Benson.”

Last week, Mr. Benson announced a new succession plan for ownership of the Saints and the NBA’s Pelicans, with his wife, Gayle, inheriting the teams. Daughter Renee LeBlance and her children, Ryan LeBlanc and Rita Benson LeBlanc, promptly filed a lawsuit challenging the changes to Mr. Benson’s will.

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LeGarrette Blount doesn’t deny that he tried to get back to New England

Blount AP

One of the main non-#DeflateGate questions this week relates to whether any sort of winking and/or nodding occurred in connection running back LeGarrette Blount’s release from the Steelers and return to the Patriots.

Carolyn Manno of NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk asked Blount directly — and pointedly — about whether Blount is bothered by the suspicion that he tried to get fired by the Steelers in November, paving the way for his return to New England.

“No it doesn’t bother me, people are going to assume what they are going to assume, I can’t change their minds,” Blount said.

“Are they right?” Manno asked.

“It doesn’t matter.”

“But it does matter,” Manno replied.

“Why does it matter?”

“Because if they’re right then that wouldn’t have been allowed.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Blount said. “People don’t know what they are taking about they just know what they think and everyone is entitled to their opinion whether it’s right or wrong.”

That’s hardly a convincing denial from Blount, who would have been wiser to say that he passed through waivers after he was released and any team could have claimed him and no one did. Instead, three teams made waiver claims for running back Ben Tate, who’d been released by the Browns the same day.

If it was a scam, it was perfectly executed. Blount quit on the Steelers one day after Patriots running back Jonas Gray torched the Colts for 201 yards, creating the clear impression that the Patriots would have no desire to reunite with Blount.

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Wilson thinks NFL fines for Marshawn are excessive

wilsonmarshawn AP

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is one of the NFL’s golden boys, a player who conducts himself in public exactly the way the league wants. But if Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has a different approach, Wilson thinks that’s fine.

Wilson said he thinks the fines that the NFL has threatened Lynch with are excessive. All Wilson cares about is that Lynch is a good teammate.

“There’s times I don’t think he should be fined, that’s for sure, especially to the extent that people try to fine him for,” Wilson said. “That’s just my honest opinion. I think the guy loves the game, people love the way he is, and sometimes people try to take certain things away from people, the way they are. I don’t know. I don’t think he should be fined for it, personally.”

Lynch has risked fines this week both for spending only five minutes a day in the presence of reporters and for wearing his own Beast Mode hats rather than NFL-authorized gear. It wouldn’t be surprising if the NFL ends up fining Lynch so much that he actually loses money for appearing in the Super Bowl. That sounds ridiculous to Wilson — and surely to many NFL players who think the NFL is too heavy-handed in its practice of fining players.

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Austin Collie joins CFL’s B.C. Lions

Austin Collie AP

Austin Collie is headed to the Canadian Football League.

Collie, the former Colts, 49ers and Patriots wide receiver, has signed with the British Columbia Lions, the team said Thursday.

A Hamilton, Ontario native, the 29-year-old Collie has caught 179 passes for 1,908 yards and 13 TDs in five NFL seasons, with the bulk of his experience with Indianapolis from 2009 through 2012. He also had stints with San Francisco and New England in 2013, catching four passes for 57 yards in the 2013 AFC title game with the Patriots. Collie did not play for an NFL club in 2014.

Collie endured multiple significant injuries in his Colts career, missing extended time in 2010 because of a concussion and nearly all of 2012 because of a patellar tendon tear.

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NFL didn’t log the PSI of each Patriots football

Football Getty Images

What was the precise PSI of each of the 12 footballs the Patriots’ offense used in the AFC Championship Game? We’ll probably never know.

NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino confirmed today that the NFL didn’t log the exact PSI of each football. According to Blandino, when officials inspect footballs to see if they’re properly inflated, they simply approve them or disapprove them.

In other words, although the Patriots did play with under-inflated footballs, the NFL hasn’t kept detailed records of whether those footballs were slightly under-inflated (which could be the result of a change in temperature) or significantly under-inflated (which would indicate that someone purposely let air out of the footballs).

The NFL will apply a low standard of proof to the Deflategate investigation, which means that the NFL doesn’t necessarily need an air-tight case to conclude that the Patriots broke the rules. But anyone who wants the NFL to get to the bottom of this should want the NFL to be as careful as it possibly can to preserve every piece of evidence it possibly can. And a detailed log of the inflation levels of each football is a piece of evidence the NFL should have.

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Earl Thomas apparently angry about random HGH test

NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks Team Media Availability Getty Images

The Seahawks have found something else to be aggravated with the NFL about.

Safety Earl Thomas posted a tweet this morning about being tested for HGH, and some of his teammates aren’t too pleased about it.

According to Ed Werder of ESPN, Thomas wouldn’t elaborate today, but another Seahawks player told him: “We are being treated like criminals, tested like people on parole.”

The league began testing in October, and they tested six players from eight randomly selected teams each week.

So while Thomas might have just coincidentally been on the list for this week, he and his teammates certainly don’t see it that way.

 

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Jonathan Dwyer placed on probation after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct

Jonathan Dwyer AP

Running back Jonathan Dwyer saw his 2014 season come to an early end when the Cardinals placed him on the non-football illness list following an arrest related to an incident with his wife in September.

The legal matters stemming from that arrest came to an end this week when Dwyer pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct in Maricopa County, Arizona. Maricopa County Superior Court spokesman Vincent Funari said, via the Associated Press, that Dwyer has been sentenced to 18 months of probation and community service as a result of the plea.

Dwyer was originally facing a felony count of aggravated assault and other misdemeanor charges before the plea as a result of the incident, which allegedly featured Dwyer head butting his wife in the face and breaking her nose.

The NFL could discipline Dwyer as well, although it’s not clear how much of a playing future Dwyer has ahead of him given his mediocre on-field production at a position where teams have proven adept at finding productive players on a regular basis.

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Lions have proposed expanding replay to cover penalty calls

Cowboys take down Lions; head to Green Bay next Getty Images

The Lions lost to the Cowboys in the Wild Card round of the playoffs in a game that featured officials picking up a flag for pass interference on Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens in the fourth quarter.

That decision helped keep the door open for Dallas to win the game and NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said in the days after the game that there should have been a defensive holding call on the play at the very least. The Lions would like to see all teams have a chance to challenge such rulings in the future.

At a press conference in Arizona Thursday, Blandino said that the Lions have made a proposal to expand replay so that it includes penalty calls in the future.

“We’ve had discussions going back to last offseason talking about expanding replay and adding to the list of reviewable plays,” Blandino said, via the Lions website. “I think when you look at the evolution of replay and where it started, it was always based in fact. Did the football touch the ground? Did the foot touch the sideline? And we stayed away from the areas that involved subjective judgement. There’s always judgement, but there’s different levels of subjective judgement and that was in the areas of pass interference and offensive holding. I think it’s something as the technology has improved and now we have high definition and super slow motion and 4K, all of that technology begs the question can we eliminate some of the mistakes that happen during the game? I think that’s something that’s going to be on the agenda this offseason.”

Over the years, one of the chief objections to expanding replay is that it would lead to slower games. It’s hard to see where there would be a huge rise in the number of challenges if the current arrangement for coaches is kept in place, however, and the ability to make the correct ruling on the field rather than in a press release after a game should be an appealing one.

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LeSean McCoy wants to talk to Eagles, but not about pay cut

1d3713faef2f0f9e198417dd0928916c Getty Images

Eagles running back LeSean McCoy wants to work with the Eagles.

He just doesn’t want to work for less.

Via Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, McCoy said he’s happy to restructure his contract, so long as it doesn’t mean a cut in pay.

“I know how hard it is to keep a team together and I want to be part of this team. But I don’t want to take less money,” McCoy said. “I want to figure a way to make it happen [where] we’re all together.”

McCoy is scheduled to make $9.75 million this year, but carries a cap charge of nearly $12 million. That’s a big number for a team that also wants to keep wide receiver Jeremy Maclin out of free agency.

“We’re going to work it work it out and see what happens,” McCoy said. “I got to pay my boy Mac.”

But it’s not going to be out of his own pocket, if it’s up to McCoy.

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Archie Manning: Peyton evaluating everything before making a decision

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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wants to see Peyton Manning back in the NFL in 2015, but Manning’s father said Thursday that his son is still weighing his options.

Archie Manning said that Peyton is evaluating everything about the decision to return for another season and that he’s confident his son will make the right decision when the time comes. The first Manning to play quarterback in the NFL added that his son was disappointed that offensive coordinator Adam Gase joined John Fox in moving from Denver to Chicago this offseason, but that Gase’s departure probably wouldn’t swing things in any direction.

“Peyton’s going to try to decide whether he wants to play or retire. If he decides to play, he’ll be fine. It’ll be another coordinator. He’ll deal with it,” Manning said, via NBC San Diego.

Peyton Manning won’t have to do too much guesswork about what new wrinkles might be in the Denver offense since coach Gary Kubiak and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison have a long history designing schemes in the NFL. Kubiak also said that he’s going to work with Manning to design the offense if the veteran returns for another season with the Broncos.

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49ers hire Tom Gamble as senior personnel executive

UFC Fighters meet San Francisco 49ers Players Getty Images

The 49ers are bringing back Tom Gamble.

Gamble, most recently the Eagles’ vice president of player personnel, has joined San Francisco as a senior personnel executive, the team said Thursday.

The Eagles parted ways with Gamble in December after two seasons on the job. He spent the previous eight seasons with San Francisco, serving as the club’s director of player personnel in 2011 and 2012.

“Tom is one of the most experienced, knowledgeable, and respected personnel men in the business,” 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke said in a team-issued statement. “He played an instrumental role in our personnel department from 2005-2012, and is well versed in our system having played a role in its development. This familiarity, along with his many strengths, will be tremendous assets as we prepare for free agency and the draft.  It is great to have Tom back with the 49ers.”

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Jets tab Jimmie Johnson as tight ends coach

Minnesota Vikings 2011 Headshots Getty Images

The Jets have added a pair of assistants with NFL playing experience to their coaching staff.

The club announced the hiring of Jimmie Johnson as tight ends coach and Daylon McCutcheon as a defensive backs assistant on Thursday.

Johnson, 48, was the Vikings’ tight ends coach from 2006 through 2013. He played 10 NFL seasons at tight end (1989-1998).

McCutcheon, 38, played eight NFL seasons at cornerback for Cleveland (1999-2006). The Jets’ new head coach, Todd Bowles, had a pair of secondary-coaching roles for the Browns from 2001 through 2004. McCutcheon had a coaching internship with Arizona in 2014, when Bowles was the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator.

Johnson and Bowles were teammates with Washington in 1989 and 1990.

The Jets also announced the hiring of Ryan Slowik as a defensive line assistant and a defensive quality control coach. Slowik was assistant defensive backs coach in Arizona in 2013 and 2014.

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NFL health and safety report says concussions, ACLs are down

New York Giants v New York Jets

Good news everybody, football isn’t dangerous any more.

The league issued its annual health and safety report Thursday, highlighting all the progress seemingly made in the prevention of injuries.

Among the numbers, they cite concussions down 25 percent from 2013 to 2014, and concussions caused by helmet-to-helmet hits down 28 percent in the last year.

Of course, the raw numbers are still alarming, as there were a total of 202 concussions in practice, preseason and regular season games last year, down from 229 in 2013 and 261 in 2012.

The league numbers also dispute the anecdotal notion (held by much of their workforce) that Thursday games are bad for your health, with an average of 4.8 injuries per Thursday games last year compared to 6.9 injuries per game on Sundays and Mondays.

Of course, that doesn’t take into account the wear and tear provided by the short weeks, and how the shortened recovery time could contribute to some of those weekend aches and pains.

Fewer ACL’s are being sprained however, with “just” 49 this year as opposed to 57 the year before. MCL’s are doing worse, with 138 this year after 136 the last year.

The reality is, football remains dangerous to those who play it, despite any efforts to make it safer, or to suggest that it’s becoming safer.

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