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Burfict’s suspension is second-longest ever for on-field actions

A. Haynesworth J. Fisher Getty Images

The news that Vontaze Burfict has lost his appeal of his three-game suspension means that Burfict will serve the second-longest suspension in NFL history for an on-field action.

All of the NFL’s most lengthy suspensions have been for misconduct away from the field, like failing a drug test or gambling on games. The longest suspension ever for an on-field incident came when Albert Haynesworth was suspended Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was suspended five games for stomping on the head of Cowboys center Andre Gurode in 2006. That suspension came only a month after Roger Goodell was named commissioner, and it announced that Goodell would have a different approach to league discipline.

Since then, only two players have received a suspension longer than one game for an on-field infraction: Ndamukong Suh for stomping on Evan Dietrich-Smith, and Brandon Meriweather for multiple helmet-to-helmet hits.

The length of Burfict’s suspension comes as a result of his status as a repeat offender, as well as (though the league wouldn’t admit this) the fact that his violations came during a high-profile playoff game. Burfict is now the second player in NFL history to be suspended more than two games for an on-field action.

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Joe Thomas: Browns have to get this QB decision right

Joe Thomas AP

As sad as left tackle Joe Thomas is about the way the personal story of Johnny Manziel is ending, he also has a job to do.

And he has a pretty good idea that when he lines up this season, he’s going to be blocking for yet another first-round quarterback.

“Well, I think we’re in really good shape right now,” Thomas said (of the Browns, presumably with a straight face) to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Obviously going into my 10th year I wish this was the position we were in my second or third year. We’re probably going to draft a first-round quarterback, the best quarterback in the draft or the second best at worst. And we’ve got a guy in Josh McCown who’s proven he can be a good player when he’s starting and healthy.

“[He’s] a tremendous mentor. You’re not going to find a better mentor as a quarterback in the NFL, and he’s better than you could do as a quarterback coach because he’s actually on the field showing the kid how to do it. So you’ve got hopefully the future of the franchise getting drafted in the first round and then you’ve got Josh mentoring him and coaching him along the way. I can’t see a better situation that the Browns could possibly be in than that.”

Any quarterback they bring in during the draft will end up being the 25th different quarterback to start for the Browns since 1999, which makes it clear the problem there’s not just about Manziel. But Thomas said he was encouraged once he had a chance to sit down with new coach Hue Jackson. But he also knows that Jackson can only do so much.

“As long as you pick the right quarterback, if there is one out there, the future is really bright for the Cleveland Browns ’cause it doesn’t really matter what you do with the rest of the team if don’t have a quarterback,” Thomas said. “I mean it’s great to hire a new coach and bring in free agents and stuff, but unless you solve the quarterback piece of the puzzle, you’ll be finding a new coach every two years.”

And that’s what the Browns have been doing, for longer than Thomas’s tenure there.

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C.J. Anderson has no idea who’ll be handing him the ball in 2016

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None of the many Broncos players who have spoken (and plenty have) since Super Bowl 50 have had any inside information regarding whether quarterback Peyton Manning will return in 2016. Which means either that they know and they’re all doing a great job of saying nothing, or they just don’t know.

On Thursday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, running back C.J. Anderson joined the list of Broncos players saying they simply don’t know whether Peyton will play.

“I have no idea,” Anderson said when asked who will be handing him the football next year. “If it’s Peyton, you know, I’ll still be happy. If it’s Brock [Osweiler], I’ll still be happy. We’re gonna do whatever Peyton wants to do and we’re gonna have his back. That’s one thing, believe me, if he decides to give it up and ride off in the sunset the correct way, we’re just so happy that we’re doing it for him the right way.”

The use of terms like “correct way” and “right way” could be interpreted as Anderson hoping that Peyton doesn’t come back since that would be the fitting end to his football story.

“I mean what else does he have to accomplish with five MVPs and first in every statistical category that you can think of with Peyton?” Anderson said. “True pro on and off the field with two Super Bowl rings. I mean he’s a slam dunk Hall of Famer. When it comes five years from now, he shouldn’t even have to go through the elimination process. They should just already have him in Canton. Then with Brock, if we can bring Brock back, he’s a free agent, but Brock plays a huge part of how we got to the No. 1 seed [in the AFC] and how we got to the playoffs. I mean, Brock showed that he can play in this system.”

Since portions of Anderson’s comments created the impression that he thinks Manning will retire, Anderson was asked whether he has any inclination as to what Peyton will do.

“Nah we don’t that’s just, that’s Peyton too, you know. . . . Peyton’s just — he’s a jokester and he’s gonna keep secretive,” Anderson said. “I mean, there’s times where you listen to him talk and it feels like it’s gonna be his last ride but, you know I think Mr. Elway said it the best, if I were at 99, that 99 percent and that one [percent]. You know you can be all in 99 percent of retiring but you’ve got to remember that one percent that made you wanna do this and love the game so much. You really don’t wanna give the game up because after you give it up, there’s no coming back and you know everything is gone.”

Brett Favre would disagree with that last sentence, but Anderson’s broader point is valid. Once it’s over, it’s typically over. Which surely has caused many guys to seek to milk one more year out of a career.

There’s another factor that could influence Manning to return. With so many options for his post-playing life and necessarily an obligation to pick something at the exclusion of the rest, playing one more year delays that decision. So instead of choosing to be a game analyst or a studio analyst or a coach or a G.M. or a president or a full-time Papa John’s franchisee or whatever else he’d want to do (and surely be wildly successful at anything he selects), Peyton can keep doing what he’s been doing, for one more season.

If he decides to do that, the next question becomes whether the Broncos will offer him enough money on a reduced contract to convince him to keep doing it in Denver. If not, then the question becomes whether he’ll take some of Magic Johnson’s money.

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Joe Thomas says it’s a “sad end” for Johnny Manziel in Cleveland

Cleveland Browns tackle Joe Thomas celebrates after a 24-6 win over the Detroit Lions in a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak) AP

Johnny Manziel will no longer be a part of the Cleveland Browns organization. At this point it’s just a matter of time.

Even teammates understand the end is near for Manziel.

It’s a sad end to the story in Cleveland for Johnny,” Browns left tackle Joe Thomas said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “He’s a guy that personally I like. I believe he has a lot of talent. He’s got the talent to be an NFL quarterback, but it obviously hasn’t worked out so far.”

Manziel’s tenure with the Browns has been a near total disaster. Uneven play on the field and numerous incidents off of it have expedited his end in Cleveland. Manziel showed the occasional flash that would bring renewed promise over what he potentially could become. But it became clear he was incapable of getting out of his own way.

The official end is the only thing left between the Browns and Manziel.

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Seahawks sign CFL products Jeff Fuller and Cameron Marshall

Cameron Marshall AP

The Seattle Seahawks have looked to the Canadian Football League before in search of talent and are hoping to unearth some more success from north of the border.

The Seahawks signed former Calgary Stampeders receiver Jeff Fuller and former Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back Cameron Marshall on Thursday.

Fuller is another stab at finding a receiver with size from the CFL. Seattle signed Chris Matthews in 2013 after two seasons with Winnipeg. At 6-foot-5, Matthews was a large receiver the Seahawks didn’t have at the time. Fuller is similarly large at 6-foot-4. Fuller caught 47 passes for 619 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games for Calgary.

Meanwhile, with the retirement of Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks only had one running back under contract for 2016 in Thomas Rawls. Marshall rushed for 614 yards and five touchdowns in 18 games for Winnipeg last season.

Both Fuller and Marshall were undrafted out of Texas A&M and Arizona State, respectively. Both players spent time with the Miami Dolphins before heading to Canada to continue their careers.

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Friday’s PFT Live has Kevin Greene, Bradley Roby, more

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The first week of the early early shift ends Friday, with another three-hour edition of PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. And Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby will be dialing in extra early, halfway through the 6:00 a.m. ET hour.

Later in the program, new Hall of Fame linebacker Kevin Greene joins the program, along with Vic Lombardi of Altitude Sports in Denver.

All three hours can be heard on Sirius 213, XM 202, NBCSportsRadio.com, the NBC Sports Radio app, and on terrestrial affiliates throughout the country. The final hour of the show can be seen on NBCSN.

And here’s where I’d add some sort of a witty or snarky or glib remark, but I’ve been rolling out of bed at 4:30 a.m. ET to get ready for the show, and in my exhausted state I’m even more unfunny that usual. Tune in tomorrow to see just how unfunny I may be.

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Justin Tuck plans to sign one-day contract to retire with Giants

Justin Tuck AP

Defensive end Justin Tuck spent nine seasons lining up for the New York Giants. So it only seems fitting he’d retire in a Giants uniform.

According to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, Tuck said during an appearance on the Giants’ team website that he intends to sign a one-day contract to retire with the Giants.

“One question we didn’t get asked that I’ve seen a lot of Giants fans tweet me is ‘Am I going to do a one-day contract with the Giants?’” Tuck said. “The answer to that is ‘Yes.’ We can’t do it yet because the league (year) doesn’t open until the second week of March. So for all the Giants fans out there asking me ‘Am I going to retire a Giant?’ Absolutely I am.”

Tuck announced his plans to retire earlier this month. While he spent the last two seasons of his career with the Oakland Raiders, the majority of Tuck’s success came in the Big Apple.

Tuck posted 60.5 sacks in nine seasons with the Giants. He posted at least 10 sacks in a season four times during his tenure in New York.

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McNair wants to end Super Bowl hosting curse

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No team hosting a Super Bowl in its own stadium has ever played in the game. Some think there’s actually a curse associated with hosting the game.

Regardless, with the torch now passed from San Francisco to Houston, Texans owner Bob McNair wants his team to be the first to qualify for a home game in the Super Bowl.

“It’s never happened that the host city, host team, played in the Super Bowl, so we’d like to break that record,” McNair said Thursday, at the unveiling of a Super Bowl countdown clock. “That would be wonderful and anything is possible.”

McNair likely had to grit his teeth a bit when praising coaches he had run out of Houston for winning a Super Bowl with the Broncos.

“We’re delighted to see the guys up in Denver succeed and you saw that they did it with their defense,” McNair said. “That’s what we’ve been working towards and we have a chance, so hopefully we’ll have that opportunity.”

But while defense clearly wins championships, an offense is at some point necessary to get there. The Texans have struggled at quarterback, and in a division with three potential franchise quarterbacks on the rosters of Houston’s primary rivals, it’s going to get harder, not easier, to win the division.

Two teams have come close to a Super Bowl home game. In Super Bowl XIV, the Rams played the Steelers in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. In Super Bowl XIX, the 49ers faced the Dolphins at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto.

Amazingly, no team hosting the Super Bowl in its home stadium has even made it to the conference championship round.

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Hasselbeck is “strongly leaning” toward playing again

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A quarterback who’ll turn 40 next month apparently is leaning toward retiring. A quarterback who’ll turn 41 later this year is leaning toward not retiring.

Colts quarterback Matthew Hasselbeck, who started eight games in 2015, could be back again in 2016.

“I haven’t really I guess made up my mind completely on it,” Hasselbeck told Brock & Salk of ESPN 710 in Seattle. “You’ve kind of got to count the cost of what it would mean, what you’re saying ‘yes’ to and what you’re saying ‘no’ to. My kids are getting older. But all in all I would say I’m strongly leaning toward playing again, and we’ll see.”

By thinking about playing past his 41st birthday, Hasselbeck may be creating the impression that he plans to play as long as possible. But he said that’s not the case.

“I’m not trying to play as long as I can,” Hasselbeck said. “I decided [that] I’m gonna play for five surgeries. That was like my mindset. Like five years or five surgeries. And I’ve only had one surgery in my entire life. I think it was a bad way to set a goal. I’m not sure.”

It’s not sure that the Colts want Hasselbeck, even if he chooses to play. Hasselbeck is due to become a free agent in March. Still, without enough competent quarterbacks to go around, someone will want him, if the Colts don’t.

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Offseason rules in full force

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 04:  A general view of the Kansas City Chiefs practice facility outside Arrowhead Stadium as the NFL lockout looms while negotiations are extended on March 4, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

Now that all 32 teams have completed the 2015 season, it makes sense to review the things that can and can’t be done until the offseason programs open in April.

The rules appear in Article 21, Section 2 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Before the launch of the offseason program, players can’t participate in Club-supervised workouts, practices, group, or individual meetings with coaches, group or individual film study with coaches, or group or individual playbook study with coaches. This provision is the origin of periodic comments from coaches regarding their inability to communicate with players in the offseason.

Still, there’s no prohibition on phone calls or discussions that don’t amount to meetings, film study, or playbook study. If, for example, 49ers coach Chip Kelly simply wants to get to know quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Kelly can call Kaepernick and talk to him. But with Kelly taking the ridiculously extreme position that he can’t even talk about Kaepernick publicly, it seems that Kelly either doesn’t understand the rules or is being deliberately obtuse, possibly to enhance trade potential for Kaepernick by not taking a clear position on whether the 49ers want him during the window when interested teams might call.

Players nevertheless are allowed to work out in the team facility, with strength and conditioning coaches prevented from supervising workouts but permitted into supervise the weight room to prevent injury and correct misuse of the equipment. And plenty of players prefer to stay in shape that way, given the fact that it’s both familiar and free.

Regardless of the rules, football coaches who want to talk to their players will surely find a way to do it. In the five years since the new rules were promulgated, no coach ever has been accused to talking to players more than he should. Players who are truly committed to winning will do whatever they have to do, exercising discretion while also planning for an opportunity to compete more effectively in the coming season.

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Colts announce two more staff moves

Chuck Pagano, Mark Hittner AP

Colts Coach Chuck Pagano is keeping two assistants from last season on in new roles for 2016.

Veteran coach Jim Hostler will be the tight ends coach, and Tim Berbenich will stay as offensive assistant/assistant quarterbacks coach after being a defensive assistant in 2015.

Hostler had been the team’s wide receivers coach. In 16 NFL seasons he’s also been an assistant with the Bills, Ravens, 49ers, Jets, Saints and Chiefs.

The team’s release on Hostler and Berbenich said the 2015 staff has been finalized. The Colts cleaned out their defensive staff, hired and shuffled some offensive coaches and lost assistant special teams coach Brant Boyer to the Jets. Former Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin came on as assistant head coach and will work with the offensive line.

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Raiders announce one-year lease to remain in Oakland

Mark Davis Getty Images

For at least one more year, the Raiders will remain in Oakland.

The Raiders announced today that they have agreed to a one-year lease extension to play at O.co Coliseum for the 2016 season. The agreement includes an additional two years of team options, giving the Raiders the choice to play at the Coliseum in 2017 and 2018 as well.

Raiders owner Mark Davis called the deal a “win-win situation” and said he’s optimistic that a deal can get worked out that will keep the Raiders in Oakland. The Raiders have hired real estate executive Larry MacNeil, who helped the 49ers with their move into Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, to help the Raiders negotiate a deal for a new stadium in Oakland.

“It gives us an opportunity to work on a permanent facility here in Oakland,” Davis said. “It gives us some certainty for this season as well as flexibility for the next two seasons. . . . My heart is here in Oakland.”

As they attempt to encourage more Bay Area fans to support them in Oakland, the Raiders have also announced that they will not raise season ticket prices.

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Super Bowl fans spent $151.92 each on food, drink, stuff

food-and-beer-at-the-super-bowl-are-even-more-expensive-than-we-imagined Getty Images

Going to the Super Bowl is a rare and special thing. So rare and special that the people who show up for the game happily accept the fact that everything is really expensive, forking over whatever the price may be for grossly overpriced food, beverages, and merchandise.

Via SportsBusiness Journal and ESPN.com, that mindset allowed for $6.2 million to be spent on food and beverages, an average of $87.57 per person. According to SBJ, another $4.6 million was spent on merchandise, pushing the total per person expenditure to $151.92.

That’s $151.92 for each of the 71,088 who attended. Which resulted in another $10.8 million flowing through the cash register.

When it comes to food and drink only, the record high came at MetLife Stadium two years ago, when fans spent an average of $94.60.

Meanwhile, I spent $59.64 on eight medium-sized pizzas from a national chain that needs no free advertising, feeding nine people and providing four days and counting of lunch and/or dinner for me since then. Which would explain why I’ve been spending so much time in the bathroom.

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No offset language in Brees guaranteed salary

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The Saints definitely will be keeping quarterback Drew Brees for 2016.

Wednesday’s non-news news that $10.85 million of his $19.75 million base salary had become fully guaranteed omitted a piece of new news that means Brees will not be going anywhere. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Brees deal has no offset language for 2016.

This means that, if the Saints were to cut Brees, he’d still get the full $10.85 million without reduction for any money earned elsewhere, meaning that the Saints would carry $20.85 million on the books for Brees in 2016, no matter what.

If the deal had offset language, the Saints could have moved on from Brees if the two sides failed to work out a new deal for 2016 and beyond, since someone else surely would have paid Brees that much for the coming season — and the Saints would have gotten a dollar-for-dollar credit for the guaranteed pay.

So as it now stands, Brees has maximum leverage. He can either proceed with a $19.75 million base salary and a $30 million cap number, or he can sign an extension that reduces the cap number in exchange for cash and other considerations beyond the current season.

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Nate Allen back with Raiders

Nate Allen, Nick Foles AP

Earlier this week, the Raiders parted ways with safety Nate Allen shortly before his $4.9 million salary for the year would have become guaranteed.

The move didn’t cost the Raiders any dead money under the cap and freed up space to use on other acquisitions. Or re-acquisitions in the case of Allen.

The Raiders announced Thursday that they have brought Allen back to the roster. They didn’t announce the terms, but it’s a good bet that it is for less than the guaranteed salary he was set this season to make before getting bounced and not as long as the four-year, $23 million deal they signed him to before last season.

Allen only played in five games for the Raiders last season because of a knee injury and had 14 tackles and an interception while making three starts. Allen spent his first five seasons with the Eagles.

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