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NFL draft advisory board will urge more players to stay in school

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After an all-time high of 98 underclassmen declared for this year’s NFL draft, the NFL’s College Advisory Committee has changed some of its policies to encourage more players to stay in school.

The draft advisory board’s new guidelines, which the league has provided to PFT, state that players who don’t project as a first- or second-round pick will be told they should remain in school. In the past, players who projected as third-round picks or later would be told that. Now they’ll just be told they should play another year of college football.

The NFL has also said it will limit requests for evaluations to five underclassmen per college team. That new policy was first revealed today by Alabama coach Nick Saban, although that policy may not apply to Saban’s program: The policy says that the College Advisory Committee may decide on a case-by-case basis to evaluate more than five players on one college team, and Saban’s talent-loaded Crimson Tide would surely be one of the teams that ends up getting more than five evaluations.

The ultimate effect of the new policy will be to encourage all but the best prospects to keep playing college football. That could end up being bad news for some players who would like to turn pro if they’re expected to be third-round picks but will now be told that they shouldn’t enter the draft. But the NFL would prefer that most players fulfill their NCAA eligibility, and this new policy is a step toward reducing the number of underclassmen who are tempted to enter the draft.

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Bobby Wagner: Seahawks “will be ready” for Patriots’ formation ploys

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In the divisional round, the Patriots caught the Ravens by surprise by declaring typically eligible receivers to be ineligible on certain plays.

The Seahawks are well-aware of this. And as Pro Bowl middle linebacker Bobby Wagner tells it, the Seattle defense will be prepared for it.

“Everybody will be ready for it,” Wagner told reporters at Media Day on Tuesday. “It’s going to be run maybe once or twice in the game, so it’s not going to be a big deal.”

Wagner indicated the responsibility for recognizing the Patriots’ formation fell on the entire defense, as well as the officials, who have to announce the ineligible receiver.

Wagner observed that the opposition’s fatigue is a factor in New England’s formation ploys.

“They do it at a time where they feel like the team is tired, so they’re always going to catch you when you’re not thinking as much or when you’re tired, but I think we do a great job of not getting tired,” Wagner said.

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Robert Kraft: Party with Roger Goodell made Richard Sherman money

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When Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman arrived in Arizona for the Super Bowl, he opined that the Patriots wouldn’t be punished as a result of the NFL’s investigation into their use of under-inflated footballs because of a “conflict of interest” illustrated by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell attending a party at Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s house before the AFC Championship game.

Kraft didn’t seem to agree with that take on Monday when he deplaned with a statement demanding an apology from the league “for what [the Patriots have had to endure this past week” in the event that the league’s investigation determines the team didn’t intentionally tamper with the balls.  Kraft then slammed the league for using “circumstantial leaked evidence” to paint the Patriots in a bad light.

At Tuesday’s Super Bowl Media Day, Kraft said he only wanted to answer questions about football, but did respond to a query about Sherman’s remarks. After calling Sherman “a very smart marketing whiz,” Kraft explained that the party in question would actually benefit Sherman.

“If you go into the facts of what he said, the NFL always used to pay for a big party for the AFC Championship Game. We’ve been privileged to own the team for 21 years, and this was our 10th championship game. When the league stopped giving the parties, we started doing it. This is our third one,” Kraft said, via “I think Mr. Sherman understood that he’s the biggest beneficiary, because they get over 50 percent of the revenues. So he didn’t go to Harvard, but Stanford must be pretty good because he figured it out.”

The league’s investigation isn’t expected to wrap up anytime soon, which leaves plenty of time for plenty of people to share opinions about what will  or won’t happen in the most watched study of air pressure in memory.

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Richard Sherman: Roger Goodell should have to talk weekly

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While Marshawn Lynch is trying to make himself into a counter-culture commodity by not talking, there are other people who might have things to say who aren’t terribly available either.

And that’s the point Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman made Tuesday at media day, specifically mentioning commissioner Roger Goodell.

Every one of the NFL’s personnel should be obligated to speak weekly,” Sherman said, via Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports. 

See, as political statements against the moneyed bosses who make them put on the red nose to participate in the circus media day has become, this one was a lot more effective.

Lynch is just doing it to be difficult, and frankly, I’m not sure he has that much to say.

Goodell has many things to address, and he’ll get his chance Friday.

That press conference could easily become the same kind of performance art as today (though league PR manages to filter out the costumed silliness better for the boss).

But Sherman’s right. I’m far more interested in what Goodell has to say than Lynch. But Roger’s not threatening to fine himself, either.

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Perry Fewell joining Jay Gruden’s staff as defensive backs coach

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Perry Fewell drew up game plans to stop the Redskins a couple of times a year since becoming the Giants’ defensive coordinator at 2010, but he’ll have a different take on Washington’s team this year.

According to multiple reports, Fewell has agreed to become the team’s defensive backs coach a couple of weeks after the Giants canned him after a 6-10 season. Fewell also interviewed for a job on the 49ers staff and reportedly received an offer to come on board, but opted to stay in the NFC East.

Fewell will inherit a group that contributed to Washington allowing 249.4 yards per game in 2014 under Raheem Morris, who has departed for a job with the Falcons. With safeties Brandon Meriweather and Ryan Clark and cornerback E.J. Biggers all headed for free agency and Joe Barry replacing Jim Haslett as defensive coordinator, there will likely be a lot of new faces in the group next season.

Should Fewell want those faces to be familiar, he could push the team to bid for Giants defensive backs hitting free agency. Safeties Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown join cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Zack Bowman in that group.



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Thousands of fans spend $28.50 to attend Media Day

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Many of the players at Super Bowl Media Day don’t want to be there, even though it’s their job. Many of the reporters at Super Bowl Media Day don’t want to be there, even though it’s their job. But while Super Bowl Media Day is often disdained by those who participate in it for a living, thousands of people in attendance wanted to be there so much that they paid for the privilege.

The NFL sold tickets to Media Day at $28.50 a pop, and thousands of fans turned out to the US Airways Center in Phoenix to be there to see it live. Most of those fans seemed to be enjoying themselves.

The fans in the stands got a radio that allows them to tune to whichever podium they choose and hear whatever player they like, and fans were cheering, laughing and otherwise indicating that they liked hearing from their favorite players.

So while most of us who attend Media Day as part of our jobs probably don’t think it’s an event worthy of buying a ticket to attend, there are a lot of football fans who think it’s a fun experience. Which means that the NFL will surely continue selling thousands of tickets to Media Day.

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Marshawn Lynch shows up at media day to avoid fines

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A year ago at Super Bowl media day, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch played peek-a-boo with reporters, using a side entrance to make a late arrival and an early getaway.

This year, the NFL put him on a podium for a tougher escape, probably as the league’s reminder they set the rules.

Lynch showed up and did his part. Our guy Curtis Crabtree was in the best position to hear this nothing, as Lynch gave the same answer to all the early questions.

I’m just here so I won’t get fined,” he said repeatedly.

Lynch left after less than five minutes, making the appropriate gesture of whatever it is he’s trying to prove.

It really doesn’t have to be that hard. Lynch was able to make a promotional video for candy, but he can’t talk to the people who want to hear from him on other matters.

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Raiders hire Rob Moore, Bernie Parmalee to coaching staff

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A pair of former NFL players are among four new coaching staff hires announced by the Raiders on Tuesday.

Ex-Dolphins and Jets tailback Bernie Parmalee will coach Oakland’s running backs, while former Jets and Cardinals wideout Rob Moore will coach the club’s wide receivers.

The 47-year-old Parmalee previously coached tight ends for Kansas City (2010-2012) and Miami (2004). He also was a special teams assistant with Miami in 2002 and 2003.

Moore, 46, was the Bills’ wide receivers coach in 2014.

In addition to Parmalee and Moore, the Raiders have hired Bobby Johnson to coach tight ends and Tracy Smith as assistant special teams coach. Johnson was the Lions’ assistant offensive line coach in 2014, though he coached the Lions’ special teams the previous season. Smith was the 49ers’ assistant special teams coach the last three seasons.

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Wilfork calls Belichick the greatest coach ever

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Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been peppered with questions about whether he did anything improper in Deflategate, but Belichick is also getting strong support from his players.

Several Patriots spoke out about their respect for Belichick at Super Bowl Media Day, most notably defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, who said he feels privileged to have played his entire career for Belichick.

“He’s the best coach in the game — the best coach ever in the game,” Wilfork said. “When it’s all over I can say I was coached by the greatest.”

If the Patriots beat the Seahawks on Sunday, Belichick will join Chuck Noll as the only head coaches to win four Super Bowls, and Belichick is already the coach with the most postseason wins in NFL history. Wilfork may be biased by his own relationship with Belichick, but you can make a good case that he’s right, and that Belichick really is the best coach in the history of the game of football.

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Thomas Davis: Knee injuries may have extended my career

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Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis is thought to be the first player to return from three torn ACLs and reconstructive surgeries on the same knee, but the 31-year-old doesn’t feel like all the injuries robbed him of part of his career.

It’s the opposite, actually. Davis explained this week that he feels like he’s going to get back the time he missed because of his knee issues in the years to come.

“That’s the way I’m looking at it,” Davis said, via “I lost two and a half years to injuries, but I also feel I gained two and a half years. … This was my 10th year and I’m going on year 11, and I still feel I have a lot of football left in me.”

Davis is entering the final year of his contract with the Panthers and is set to count a little more than $10 million against the salary cap. He said that he is “pretty sure [the Panthers will] address” his contract in the near future and an extension would lower that cap hit while also keeping around a player who has rebounded from his injuries with over 100 tackles in each of the last three seasons.

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Stuffed animal question brings out Bill Belichick’s softer side

Bill Belichick AP

We have a soft spot for kids asking questions at Media Day, for they usually have more interesting questions than the assembled adults.

Which brings us to Bill Belichick’s Tuesday media session, when a young questioner asked the 62-year-old Patriots coach about the stuffed animals he liked.

The cub reporter asking about this particular topic? Jerod Mayo’s daughter, Chya, according to Monique Walker Jones of USA Today.

“What stuffed animals do I like?” Belichick asked, smiling. “Um, I like, like, a little puppet. You can kind of put your fingers in. It’s a little monkey, and then he can talk and move his fingers and nod his head, so he can kind of talk back to you.”

Belichick then asked Mayo’s daughter: “What’s your favorite stuffed animal?”

The Patriots’ head coach had another question for Chya.

“Can I ask you one question? Did your daddy fix your hair?” Belichick said.

Her response elicited a laugh from Belichick, who then asked if she any more questions.

And when it was over, Belichick, who has three children of his own, said: “Thank you.”

He was still smiling when he turned to his left to field the next question.

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PFT Live from the Super Bowl keeps rolling on Tuesday

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It’s Super Bowl Media Day on Tuesday and we’ll be bringing you everything you need to know from Arizona on PFT Live.

Once again, Mike Florio is coming to you live from the Super Bowl and we’ve got a packed show that’s sure to make for three entertaining and informative hours. Former NFL great Jason Taylor, Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis and Browns cornerback Joe Haden will all stop by to share their thoughts on the Super Bowl participants and we’ll also have PFT’s own Michael David Smith and Darin Gantt on hand for the show.

We also want to hear from PFT Planet. You can call the show by dialing 855-323-4NBC, email questions at any time via the O’Reilly Auto Parts Ask the Pros inbox or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app. And, again, you can also watch a simulcast of all three hours of the show by clicking right here.

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Kevin Patullo joining Jets as quarterbacks coach

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Quarterback remains a trouble spot for the Jets and they appear to have settled on a position coach to help them develop an answer to their ongoing issues at the position.

Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean and Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times report that Kevin Patullo will be leaving his job as the Titans’ assistant wide receivers coach to join the Jets’ staff as quarterbacks coach.

Patullo spent one season with the Titans and was out of the NFL in 2013 after spending three years on the offensive staff of the Bills. Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey was the head coach in Buffalo for those seasons, so the choice represents a reunion with a familiar face for the man running the offense.

The Jets have Geno Smith under contract for next season, but Michael Vick is a free agent and the team is expected to add other competition at the position this offseason. Gailey and Patullo will be charged with finding the best of the available options and molding the offense into one with higher capabilities than we’ve seen in the last few seasons.

Patullo will join wide receivers coach Karl Dorrell as an offensive position coach with the Jets, who have yet to hire an offensive line or tight ends coach for Todd Bowles’s first year on their sideline.

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Bill Belichick calls Marshawn Lynch “best back we’ve faced”

Marshawn Lynch AP

Patriots coach Bill Belichick says his defense hasn’t faced a challenge quite like Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch before.

Although Belichick is refusing to answer questions this week about Deflategate, he gave lengthy answers to reporters’ questions about his thoughts about the Seahawks on the field. And there was no one Belichick sounded more impressed with — and perhaps concerned about — than Lynch.

“Lynch is a tremendous back, best back we’ve faced. He does everything well, he’s got great balance, great power, vision, instincts, he’s great in the open field, he gets tough yards around the goal line, third down,” Belichick said.

Lynch ran for 1,306 yards in the regular season, and his 157-yard game against the Packers went a long way toward the Seahawks winning the NFC Championship. He may just be the best running back in football right now. Belichick seems to think so.

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Ernie Accorsi: John Fox’s experience made him right choice for Bears

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The Bears brought former Giants General Manager Ernie Accorsi on board as a consultant to assist with their searches for a new head coach and General Manager this year, so it’s not a big surprise that a former Giants assistant coach wound up replacing Marc Trestman.

It’s been a long time since John Fox has been an assistant, of course, and Accorsi explained that was one of his biggest selling points when he spoke to the Bears about the job opening. Accorsi explained that having a good idea of what to expect from hiring Fox set him apart from other candidates.

“Look, I think the single toughest thing to do in football is to project an assistant coach to the head coaching job,” Accorsi said on ESPN 100 in Chicago. “They’re two different jobs. The things you have to deal with as a head coach. You can immerse yourself in strategy and X’s and O’s as an assistant, and player relations because you’re dealing with these guys. But the head coach, he has to control that. Now you’re a head coach, you’re the commander of the army. It’s a whole different thing. And you never, never know. You just don’t know. With Fox, you knew: 30 games over .500, seven playoffs, two Super Bowls. The fact that he lost two Super Bowls to me was even more important, because the hunger and drive you have to never let that happen again, to right that wrong, is as powerful a force as you can have in this business.”

It’s not a path the Bears have gone down anytime recently as it had been more than five decades since the team opted to hire a head coach who had previously held the job. If Fox is able to generate the same kind of defensive turnaround that he did in Carolina and Denver, deviating from the past course will look like a step in the right direction for Chicago.

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Kraft’s statement increases the pressure on Goodell

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Richard Sherman’s premise is possibly being tested.  The Seattle cornerback on Sunday expressed skepticism about potential punishment of the Patriots for #DeflateGate, based on the friendship between Commissioner Roger Goodell and Patriots owner Robert Kraft.  At this moment, one of the most influential owners in the NFL isn’t feeling very friendly about the office over which Goodell presides.

“If the [Ted] Wells investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the footballs, I would expect and hope that the League would apologize to our entire team and in particular, Coach Belichick and Tom Brady for what they have had to endure this past week,” Kraft said in a defiant statement written on the plane from Boston and delivered in Arizona.  “I am disappointed in the way this entire matter has been handled and reported upon.  We expect hard facts as opposed to circumstantial leaked evidence to drive the conclusion of this investigation.”

As Sal Paolantonio of ESPN reported in the aftermath of Kraft’s remarks, “As one source close to the Patriots told me, this was Robert Kraft reminding Roger Goodell who he works for.”

Goodell already has shown a willingness to impose discipline on the team Robert Kraft owns, more than seven years ago in Spygate.  In the aftermath of that incident, Goodell pushed for the owners to permit rules violations that undermine the integrity of the game to be proven with reduced evidentiary requirements.

“Too often, competitive violations have gone unpunished because conclusive proof of the violation was lacking,” Goodell wrote to the NFL’s Competition Committee in advance of the 2008 league meetings.  “I believe we should reconsider the standard of proof to be applied in such cases, and make it easier for a competitive violation to be established.”

Therein lies the dilemma for Goodell.  He ultimately obtained the power to determine violations with something other than direct evidence, such as a Patriots employee caught with a camera containing video showing he was videotaping defensive coaching signals.  But Kraft wants something other than “circumstantial” evidence, even though plenty of men over the years have ended up imprisoned for life or executed based on circumstantial proof.  (Eventually added to that list could be former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who faces murder charges based largely on circumstantial evidence.)

“[Y]ou’re trying to balance the due process with making sure you’re protecting the integrity of the game,” Goodell said in October regarding the challenge of determining the best way to deal with players facing serious criminal charges.  “My No. 1 job is protecting the integrity of the game, and I will not relent on that.”

If, as the NFL already has concluded, the proper inflation of footballs represents a game-integrity issue and if, as the NFL already has concluded, the footballs used in the first half of the AFC title game were underinflated, the question becomes whether Goodell will authorize significant sanctions against the Patriots without a smoking gun — even if it means that his friendship with Robert Kraft will go up in smoke.

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