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Michael Sam reality show on hold

AP

A planned reality TV show centered on Rams rookie defensive end Michael Sam has been placed on hold.

The Oprah Winfrey Network announced that it is postponing the Sam reality show, after Sam faced criticism from those who said his decision to become the focal point of a TV show was incompatible with his claims that he’s totally focused on football.

Sam’s agent released a statement saying, “After today’s meeting with the Rams, we collectively feel it is best to postpone the project. This will allow for Michael to have a total focus on football, and will ensure no distractions to his teammates. Everybody involved remains committed to this project and understands its historical importance as well as its positive message.”

When the project was announced on Wednesday, Sam said in a statement that, “my focus is on playing football to the very best of my ability.” And the show was reportedly slated to show Sam hard at work trying to make the Rams’ roster.

But by Thursday, Sam had begun facing criticism by fans and members of the media who questioned whether he was more interested in becoming a star than a football player. More importantly, at least one Rams player had concerns, and there were conflicting reports about whether the NFL was aware of Sam’s plans to participate in the reality TV show.

OWN says it continues to support Sam. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him working with the network at some point, but that point will not be this summer, while all of Sam’s work will be football-focused.

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Relocation profitable for owners, but it cheapens their fans

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On the evening it was reported the Chargers were relocating to Los Angeles, a San Diego police officer and his partner were dispatched to the team facility. There had been an act of vandalism; a man streamed live video on social media as he pelted the city-owned building’s doors with eggs while cursing the team.

It was quiet now.

The officer stood outside a patrol car, there to deter further disruption. He is a San Diego native, he said. Some of his family members have Chargers tattoos. He grew up attending games with his dad. Now, while working his beat, the father of two toddlers absorbed the evening’s personal consequence.

He can never attend a San Diego Chargers game with his kids.

Franchise relocation, in many respects, is good for business in the NFL. Certainly, its 32 owners profit. But the real gamble Monday wasn’t the Raiders moving to Las Vegas. It was that, with a third relocation in 15 months, the league continued to cheapen the very foundation of its business: fans.

When the Rams and Chargers moved, the other 31 owners pocketed nearly $21 million in relocation fees off each franchise. On Monday, Raiders owner Mark Davis became indebted about $11 million to each owner to swap Oakland for Las Vegas. Local revenue projections from new stadiums make such payments worthwhile.

These numbers are tangible.

In exchange, the cost of weakening the facade of fandom is far more difficult to quantify.

Teams cut players. Teams trade players. That’s part of business in the NFL. But the relationship between a club and city is packaged as something beyond that. It’s portrayed, at times, as a fabric resembling family. Home markets aren’t supposed to be cut or traded. It should be a rare last resort.

Three relocations in 15 months doesn’t merely send the wrong message.

It screams it.

It screams that NFL owners run their franchise as a business. It screams they operate in their own interests. It screams the long-term viability of a club comes first and foremost, far more valuable than how the franchise is ingrained in its followers’ lives and traditions of their families.

This is the way it always has been in many NFL cities.

In a 15-month span, the gamble was being so brazen about it.

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Jimmy Haslam: “We could trade” Brock Osweiler

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Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s the guy who had to sign off on buying a second-round pick for $16 million, so he knows what’s going on.

But like everyone else, he’s not sure if that means the throw-in to that deal — quarterback Brock Osweiler — is going to be hanging around the Browns for very long.

“We picked up a second-round pick” Haslam said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Brock could be on our team or we could trade him. There’s lots of options out there and like I said you guys should cover it with [executive] Sashi [Brown] tomorrow.”

While that might seem a startling slap in the face to the former Texans starter, the Browns have never created any illusion about their interest in acquiring Osweiler (along with a second-round pick and a sixth-round pick in exchange for a fourth-round pick), from the moment he was barely mentioned in the press release announce the trade.

But as long as he’s there, I guess they’ll be nice to him and talk like he’s actually a player and not just the guy carrying the luggage (the pick) to the room.

“We’re excited about getting the second-round pick and we’re excited to add a guy to our roster who has won games in the NFL,” Haslam said. “We now have eight first- or second-round picks in the next two years. We’re excited about that.”

What that means is so far no one’s really offered anything for Osweiler, or they’d have almost certainly taken it, even though he’s done more on the field than any of their quarterbacks of recent vintage and certainly the ones on the roster at the moment.

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Robert Kraft hopes Bill Belichick coaches into his 80s

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With so much time spent wondering about the number of years that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will play, here’s a question that rarely comes up: How much longer with Patriots coach Bill Belichick continue to essentially run the football operations?

In an interview to be aired during Tuesday’s PFT Live, Patriots owner Robert Kraft expresses a preference: “I hope he does it ’til his 80s.” Kraft then cited examples of business icons like Warren Buffett and Rupert Murdoch, who remain highly productive beyond their 80th birthdays.

Belichick turns 65 in April. Which means that he could have another 15 years or more left, if he coaches as long as Kraft hopes Belichick remains in place.

Tune in to NBCSN or NBC Sports Radio on Tuesday morning at 8:35 a.m. ET for the extended discussion with Robert Kraft, during which he touches on a wide variety of issues and topics.

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49ers re-sign DuJuan Harris

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After bouncing around the league for years, DuJuan Harris may be finding some stability in San Francisco.

Harris, a running back who got a career-high 38 carries last year, re-signed with the 49ers today, his agent announced.

The 28-year-old Harris entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Jaguars in 2011 and has spent time with the Steelers, Packers, Vikings, Saints, Seahawks and Ravens before signing with the 49ers late in the 2015 season.

Harris will again serve as a backup to Carlos Hyde this season.

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Bills claim defensive end Scott Crichton off waivers

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The Buffalo Bills claimed defensive end Scott Crichton off waivers from the Minnesota Vikings on Monday.

Crichton was released by the Vikings on Friday after spending three years with the team. The Vikings waived Crichton with an injury designation at the conclusion of training camp last year and he spent the year on the team’s injured reserve list.

Crichton – a third round pick of the Vikings in 2014 – appeared in 21 games with Minnesota between the 2014 and 2015 seasons. He recorded just 10 total tackles in limited action.

He provides a veteran option at end for the Bills ahead of the draft. Crichton joins Shaq Lawson, Jerry Hughes and Ryan Davis as the only defensive ends currently on Buffalo’s roster.

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Oakland mayor: Raiders fans “deserved better”

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A coffee-table book could be made, at this rate, featuring politicians’ statements after an NFL franchise relocated from their cities. Disappointment. Some version of “we, the city, did what we could.” At times, anger.

That it’s become so routine is a testament to the 15 months it’s been in the NFL.

Libby Schaaf joined the book Monday.

The Oakland mayor expressed her dissatisfaction with a 31-1 NFL owner vote in Phoenix. It approved the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas, which will be executed once a stadium becomes available at the latter. The Raiders are scheduled to continue at the Oakland Coliseum in the interim.

Bay Area fans, she said, “deserved better.”

“I am disappointed that the Raiders and the NFL chose Las Vegas over Oakland when we had a fully-financed, shovel-ready stadium project that would have the kept the Raiders in Oakland where they were born and raised,” the statement read.

“I am proud that we stood firm in refusing to use public money to subsidize stadium construction and that we did not capitulate to their unreasonable and unnecessary demand that we choose between our football and baseball franchises.

“As a lifelong Oaklander, my heart aches today for Raider Nation. These are the most committed and passionate fans any city or team could hope to have. They deserved better.”

Indeed, this was the latest mayoral statement in a string of NFL franchise relocations.

Here was St. Louis on Jan. 12, 2016, after losing the Rams to Los Angeles.

“The NFL ignored the facts, the loyalty of St. Louis fans, who supported the team through far more downs than ups, and the NFL ignored a strong market and viable plan for a new stadium,” Mayor Francis Slay said. “I am proud of our effort and what St. Louis was able to accomplish in an extraordinarily short period of time. I thank everyone who worked so diligently on this project, especially the Governor’s Task Force.

“In the meantime, we need to increase our focus on the region’s hospitality industry — conventions, tourism and amateur sports. These events and the hotels and restaurants that support them put thousands of City and County residents to work in good jobs. St. Louis is great place to live and build a business — with or without NFL football.”

Here was San Diego on Jan. 12, 2017, after losing the Chargers to Los Angeles. (Or did they?)

“At the end of the day, Dean Spanos was never willing to work with us on a stadium solution and demanded a lot more money than we could have ever agreed to,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. “We live in a great city and we will move forward. San Diego didn’t lose the Chargers, the Chargers lost San Diego.”

There is another commonality between such statements.

None paint a full picture of the events precipitating the NFL’s departure.

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Packers G.M. on running backs: “We need some more guys”

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Packers General Manager Ted Thompson doesn’t mind admitting he needs a running back or two.

But he’s not going to talk about that one in particular.

Via Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com, Thompson said he knews the Packers need to address the position after losing Eddie Lacy in free agency.

We need some more guys,” Thompson said. “We’re a little short in a couple of areas. So from a personnel standpoint, we’ve got to get some more bodies. But we like the guys that we have, it’s just that we’d like to get some more.”

But when the conversation turned toward the possibility of former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, Thompson had less to say.

“We don’t talk about players that are not on our team,” he said. “We never have. We never will. It doesn’t serve a purpose, I don’t think.”

The Packers don’t have much to speak of at the moment, other than converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery and the return of Christine Michael, so it figures to be something they have to address. And while there are other veteran backs available (such as Jamaal Charles and LeGarrette Blount), the Packers have yet to make a move there either.

So their vacancy and Peterson’s availability will keep their names paired in the news, whether Thompson wants to talk about it or not.

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Robert Kraft: Tom Brady plans to play six or seven more years

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Tom Brady wants to give George Blanda a run for his money.

Blanda, the Hall of Fame Raiders kicker and quarterback, was the oldest player in NFL history when he played at age 48. Brady, who will turn 40 in August, hopes to play almost that long.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft told reporters today that he talked to Brady a few days ago, and Brady told him he plans to play six or seven more years.

It’s almost impossible to imagine that actually happening. Blanda was only a kicker by the end of his career, and no quarterback has played past age 44. The oldest player to pass for more than 1,000 yards in a season was Warren Moon, who did it age 42. Athletes just don’t stay on top into their mid-40s.

Kraft also said he hopes his 64-year-old head coach, Bill Belichick, coaches into his 80s. So the Brady-Belichick combination will last for many more years.

Kraft will appear on Tuesday morning’s PFT Live.

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Dolphins owner Stephen Ross explains “no” vote to Raiders’ move

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In a Phoenix hotel ballroom full of NFL owners voting yes, there was one dissenting opinion.

He then released a statement as to why.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was the lone “nay” cast on the Raiders’ relocation to Las Vegas. That move was approved, the Raiders joining the likes of Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys to take up a Vegas residency.

The move, despite Ross’s vote, is expected as early as 2019.

“My position today was that we as owners and as a League owe it to fans to do everything we can to stay in the communities that have supported us until all options have been exhausted,” Ross said in the statement, via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. “I want to wish Mark Davis the Raiders organization the best in Las Vegas.”

There has been a lot of relocation of late.

The Raiders became the second franchise to move in 75 days; Chargers owner Dean Spanos exercised his option to vacate San Diego for Los Angeles on Jan. 12. Less than 15 months ago, on Jan. 13, NFL owners voted in Houston to clear Rams owner Stan Kroeinke’s move from St. Louis to Los Angeles.

The Rams and Chargers will share a stadium in Inglewood. It is currently scheduled to open in 2019.

A reminder to Ross’s position on relocation came from the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. He tweeted Ross “spent $500M+ in private funds to renovate a stadium,” effectively keeping the Dolphins in Miami for decades to come.

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Derek Carr: Raiders “bringing a piece of Oakland with us”

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Appealing to fans in two different cities is a delicate balance following a franchise relocation, particularly when that franchise will remain in its current city for at least two seasons before migrating to its new one.

Derek Carr released a statement minutes after the Raiders’ relocation vote.

So far, so good.

The Raiders quarterback struck the right chord in his message, which he released on social media. This came after NFL owners voted 31-1 to approve the club’s relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas. It is the NFL’s third franchise relocation in 15 months and second in 75 days.

Carr wrote the Raiders will be “bringing a piece of Oakland with us” to Sin City.

Here is his statement in its entirety:

“As I sit here and see a vote that takes the Raiders to Las Vegas, I am overwhelmed with emotion,” Carr wrote. “I don’t know how we should feel. I feel the pain of our fans in Oakland. I also see the joy on the faces of our new fans in Las Vegas. As players, we will show up and give everything we have. We will compete and we will do our best to bring a championship to the entire Raider Nation.

“While I am from California and would have loved playing in Oakland my whole career, I understand the business side of the NFL. It affects us all. Oakland, our team loves you, and my family and I love you. WE will be resilient and WE will stay together because that’s what true Raiders do. WE are loyal, even when it’s hard. WE stick together, especially when it’s tough.

“So Las Vegas, you can count on us bringing a piece of Oakland with us and you are getting a tough, loyal, and competitive fan base and team. When the time comes, I hope you are ready. For now, it’s about 2017 and our diehards in Oakland. God bless & Go Raiders!”

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Mark Davis: Could stay in Oakland through 2019 season

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Mark Davis was just given permission to move his team to Las Vegas, but said he could see staying in Oakland longer than his lease dictates.

The Raiders have one-year options on their lease in Oakland for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and Davis said Monday they could even stay beyond then while their building in Las Vegas is under construction.

While not everyone is going to be happy about those prospects, Davis said he’d be willing to offer refunds to angry fans who had already put down deposits for season tickets.

“Not happy, but we will do that,” he said.

But mostly, Davis seemed relieved to have the process finalized and to have a home, after so many years of negotiating in vain with the city of Oakland.

He said his father Al Davis “would be proud,” that he had taken the team to “the entertainment capital of the world.”

But for at least the next two seasons, and perhaps three, he’s going to ask his old fans in Oakland to support him.

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Seahawks “disappointed” by Trevone Boykin arrest

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Seahawks quarterback Trevone Boykin was arrested in Dallas on Monday morning after a car he was riding in backed into a bar.

Five people were injured and the driver of the car was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence. Boykin was arrested on marijuana possession and public intoxication charges, leading the team to make a statement about the incident.

“We are aware of the situation involving Trevone Boykin,” a team spokesman said on Twitter. “We are still gathering information and are disappointed.”

Boykin was also arrested in December 2015 while still at TCU after an incident at a bar before the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, which may have contributed to him going undrafted before the Seahawks signed him during the offseason. He eventually pleaded guilty to a charge of resisting arrest.

If the Seahawks’ disappointment level is high enough, the team may be in the market for a new backup to Russell Wilson in the later stages of free agency and/or the draft.

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Roger Goodell: Tough call, but no choice but to move

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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell still says the league doesn’t want teams to move.

But he said Monday the league had no choice.

For the third time in just over a year.

“You know that our goal is to have 32 stable franchises for each of those teams and the league,” he said as he began his remarks on the “overwhelming” vote. “We’re all disappointed for Oakland and their fans.”

Goodell said all the right things about the effort to keep the Raiders in Oakland, and he brought Texans owner Bob McNair and Steelers president Art Rooney II to bolster his efforts, with Rooney saying it was good to have a stable home “for the long-term.”

After moving the Rams to Los Angeles and then sending the Chargers to join them, it’s a period of upheaval for the league, which has now abandoned a pair of California cities which couldn’t find stadium deals.

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Raiders’ move to Las Vegas approved

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The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas.

NFL owners today approved the move of the team from Oakland (where they’re playing in a rickety old stadium) to Las Vegas (where taxpayers will foot a large portion of the bill for a shiny new stadium). According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the vote was 31-1, with only the Dolphins objecting.

They won’t become the Las Vegas Raiders immediately, as the team plans to continue playing in Oakland at least for the 2017 season and probably for 2018 as well, while the new stadium is built. That will create an awkward situation where the home fans are cheering for a team that is about to pack up and leave.

But that has happened before in the NFL, and it will now happen again, and the reason is always the same: money. Raiders owner Mark Davis can make more green in Vegas than he could in Oakland, and so the Silver and Black is moving.

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Brandon Marshall: Vegas could overwhelm young players

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The NFL is expected to have a foothold in Las Vegas after a Monday vote on the Raiders’ bid to relocate to the city, so any concerns raised about putting a team there are likely moot at this point.

Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall still raised one after speaking to NFL owners about building relationships with players at the league meetings in Arizona. Marshall said that he thinks Las Vegas is a great city, but that the things that gave it the nickname of Sin City could prove problematic for young players.

“It can be a tough place for a player coming out of college,” Marshall said, via the Palm Beach Post. “It can be overwhelming for a young player.”

Marshall had his own difficulties in his early years in the league and there’s a no shortage of other players with similar stories, so trouble can obviously be found in every city if a player is looking for it. The potential for it in Vegas may be more front and center, however, and that’s something the Raiders may be weighing when they start acquiring players to play for them in their new home.

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