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Jimbo Fisher would never say never about an NFL job

Image: Jimbo Fisher AP

More than a year ago, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said on PFT Live that he had recently heard from an NFL team that was interested in interviewing him for a head coaching job. Fisher wasn’t interested in leaving Florida State then, and he isn’t now either, but he wouldn’t rule it out some day.

You can’t ever say never in this business,” Fisher told the Palm Beach Post.

So what would make Fisher make the leap? The right offer.

“I love college and I had opportunities to go to pro football as an assistant coach and as a coordinator and I’ve had inquiries as a head coach,” Fisher said. “It’s got to be the right organization at the right time and the right situation if you’re ever interested. We have a great situation where I’m at. It’s not something that drives me.”

Fisher is one of the most successful coaches in college football, and he has a knack for working with quarterbacks. No one should be surprised if some NFL owner decides to make Fisher the right offer.

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Dante Fowler feels good in return to practice

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Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler had a long wait before he got to take part in his second NFL practice.

His first time on the field as a professional ended with a torn ACL in Jacksonville’s first practice of rookie minicamp last year and Fowler missed the entire 2015 season as a result. Fowler was back at practice on Monday for the first day of OTAs, an event that had him feeling antsy enough on Sunday night that it was difficult to get to sleep.

Fowler got his rest, though, and said after Monday’s practice that everything went well physically.

“I can turn it loose,” Fowler said, via the team’s website. “I felt pretty good, especially bending the corner and turning my torque and things like that. That was my biggest concern. That’s what I wanted to see, and I felt pretty good. … I’m just now soaking it all in like, ‘Man, I made it through a practice. I felt good. This didn’t hurt. That didn’t hurt.'”

Fowler knows the Jaguars need someone to provide a boost to their pass rush and said “that’s what I’m going to do” when discussing his plans for the coming season. If Fowler can pull that off, Jacksonville should be better on defense even if this year’s rookies have fallen victim to the same bad injury luck he experienced in 2015.

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Brady files petition for rehearing of federal appeal

FOXBORO, MA - MAY 24: A New Englad Patriots fan shows his support for quarterback Tom Brady during the "Free Tom Brady" rally at Gillette Stadium on May 24, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The rally was held in protest of Brady's four game suspension for his role in the "deflategate" scandal.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

As expected, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has decided to continue to fight his four-game suspension arising from the #Deflategate controversy.

On Monday, Brady and the NFL Players Association filed a 15-page petition for a rehearing before the original three-judge panel or a rehearing before the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The assault against Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision begins quickly in the documents filed by the lawyers, accusing Goodell of “falsely portray[ing]” the Ted Wells investigation as independent and calling Goodell’s internal appeal ruling “biased, agenda-driven, and self-approving.” The petition also claims that the ruling from a divided three-judge panel “will fuel unpredictability in labor arbitrations everywhere and make labor arbitration increasingly capricious and undesirable for employers and employees alike.”

Tracking the dissenting opinion in the underlying ruling from Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann, the petition points to the fact that Goodell’s conclusion on appeal was based on “new grounds that were not part of the disciplinary decision” and that Goodell “completely ignored the collectively bargained schedule of penalties for equipment-related violations.” The petition specifically emphasizes Judge Katzmann’s comparison of football deflation to the use of Stickum, which triggers only a four-figure fine for a first offense, not a suspension.

The problem, as argued by the petition, isn’t that Goodell considered the Stickum comparison and rejected it but that Goodell never even mentioned it, relying instead only on the purported comparison between deflation of football and the use of PEDs, which triggers a four-game suspension for a first offense.

“Under the panel majority’s misguided approach,” the petition argues, “an arbitrator is now free to ignore critical provisions a CBA reflecting collectively bargained penalties.”

It remains to be seen whether that’s enough to trigger a rehearing. For a rehearing before the full Second Circuit, at least seven of the 13 active judges must agree to do it. Presumably, the Chief Judge counts as Vote No. 1.

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NFL says concerns over NIH study were raised “through the appropriate channels”

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The NFL has issued a full response to the Congressional report suggesting that the league tried to exert undue influence over a National Institutes of Health study regarding the detection of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in living patients. The league, as expected, rejects the finding that the league withdrew $16 million in funding after failing to have Robert Stern removed as the person in charge of the work.

The league admits in a statement issued by NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy that “there were concerns raised about both the nature of the study in question and possible conflicts of interest.” However, the league contends that the concerns were raised “through the appropriate channels.”

The statement, which also summarizes the money spent by the league for research regarding head injuries, can be seen here. In all, it’s not nearly as detailed or aggressive as the league’s response to a recent New York Times report that the league strongly opposed.

It’s unclear whether the league will be doing anything more in response to the report, or whether the House Committee on Energy and Commerce will be taking any further action on the issue.

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Group led by Ronnie Lott, Rodney Peete hopes to develop new Oakland stadium

Los Angeles Raiders Ronnie Lott Looks to make a play in a game verse the Denver Broncos on Sunday September 8, 1991 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kevin Reece) AP

With the Raiders closer and closer to moving to Las Vegas, the effort to keep the team in Oakland isn’t dead. Yet.

According to Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross of the San Francisco Chronicle, former NFL players Ronnie Lott and Rodney Peete are leading a group of investors who hope to develop the 120 acres where the Coliseum is currently situated. (The development would include a new stadium, obviously.)

Lott and Peete reportedly have met in recent weeks with team executives and city officials regarding the proposal.

The group of predominantly African-American investors also includes Egbert Perry, the chairman of the board at Fannie Mae and the CEO of Integral, a real estate and investment firm that ranks among the largest African-American owned businesses in the United States. Per the report, the group presumably would want to purchase a piece of the team, if a stadium deal can be hammered out.

Still, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf didn’t sound optimistic about the situation.

“I will not meet with any developer for this project unless they are brought to me by the Raiders, and I have asked the City Council to do the same,” Schaaf told the Chronicle.

Regardless of how the talks initiate, the clock is ticking on a possible deal to keep the team in Oakland. Although it’s believed that owner Mark Davis would prefer to stay, it can’t happen without an acceptable stadium arrangement. And there simply aren’t an overabundance of options at this point.

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Understanding the Tom Brady “en banc” petition process

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So after Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the NFL Players Association file the petition for rehearing before the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (the fancy, lawyer term is “en banc”), what happens next? Glad you asked.

From the relevant Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure and the internal operating procedures of the Second Circuit, the decision as to whether a rehearing before the full Second Circuit will be made by a majority of the active judges on the court. Currently, there are 13: Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann (who participated in the three-judge panel and sided with Brady), Judge Dennis Jacobs, Judge José A. Carbines, Judge Rosemary S. Pooler, Judge Reena Raggi, Judge Richard C. Wesley, Judge Peter W. Hall, Judge Debra Ann Livingston, Judge Gerard E. Lynch, Judge Denny Chin (who participated in the three-judge panel and sided with the NFL), Jude Raymond J. Lohler, Jr., Judge Susan L. Carney, and Judge Christopher S. Droney.

Seven of the 13 judges will be required to vote in favor of a rehearing. Presumably, Judge Katzmann will vote in favor of the rehearing and Judge Chin will be opposed to it. The question ultimately becomes whether at least six of the other 11 are willing to consider the case with the full court.

The fact that Judge Katzmann is the Chief Judge of the Second Circuit could help Brady’s cause, if Judge Katzmann’s title gives him an extra influence with his colleagues.

The process starts with Brady’s petition. The NFL won’t be permitted to respond unless requested to do so. A request by the Second Circuit for a response would be the first sign that at least seven judges are seriously considering granting the rehearing.

It’s expected that a decision on whether to grant the petition will be made well in advance of the launch of the regular season. If the petition is granted, it’s believed that a decision from the full Second Circuit will come after the 2016 season has concluded — which means that, if the petition is granted, Brady likely will not be suspended this year.

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NFL “rejects any suggestion of improper influence” over NIH study

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 13: The NFL shield is painted in gold and black after a game between the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets  at MetLife Stadium on September 13, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The new color scheme is to commemorate this years' Super Bowl witch will be the 50th edition. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL has remained silent in the hours since news emerged of a Congressional report that the league unduly influenced the selection of a researcher to lead a National Institutes of Health study regarding head trauma. While the NFL still has not yet provided specifics, the league has issued a categorical rejection of the conclusion.

“We are reviewing the report but categorically reject any suggestion of improper influence,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told PFT via email.

Given the league’s position, and based on the precedent created by the league’s zealous opposition to a New York Times report regarding flawed concussion research and (tenuous) links between Big Shield and Big Tobacco, it’s safe to assume that, eventually, a lengthy and detailed response will be provided by the NFL. Whether that persuades the media or the public or otherwise undoes the preliminary damage from the 91-page report remains to be seen.

For now, the report has created an impression that the league wanted to steer a study regarding Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in living patients away from someone whom the league regarded as being adverse to its interests. Regardless of whether the league did or didn’t exert undue influence, it’s not a surprise that the league would have concern about a test for detecting CTE in players who have not yet died. If/when a test is developed and if/when it results in the widespread detection of CTE in NFL, college, and/or high school players, the NFL could experience something far more dangerous to the future of the league than a class-action lawsuit.

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NFLPA president says NFL “cannot be trusted to do the right thing” regarding players

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The NFL currently is on the ropes after a the release of a Congressional report concluding that the league tried to exert undue influence over a National Institutes of Health study regarding concussions. And the NFL Players Association is trying to punch the league through.

“This is why the NFLPA refused to be a part of any study with the NFL,” NFLPA president and Bengals offensive lineman Eric Winston said on Twitter. “They cannot be trusted to do the right thing when it involves players.”

Separately, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said via Twitter that “this is another example of a league that is out of control.”

The strong reaction of the NFLPA is stunning but not surprising. The union has faced fights at every turn with the league office over the past few years, with trust between the two sides consistently eroding. Earlier this year, a largely-overlooked arbitration ruling concluded that the NFL diverted money that should have been included within the salary-cap calculations into a made-up category of exemptions for stadium renovations. Some with the union regarded the development as the NFL stealing money from the players.

It’s all pointing to potentially acrimonious labor negotiations in five years, with the NFLPA and the rank and file perhaps more willing to miss game checks than it was in 2011.

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Browns release Brian Hartline

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 1: Wide receiver Brian Hartline #83 of the Cleveland Browns catches a touchdown pass while under pressure from free safety Tyrann Mathieu #32 of the Arizona Cardinals during the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 1, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

Receiver Brian Hartline ended up performing considerably better than receiver Dwayne Bowe in their lone seasons with the Browns. But neither performed well enough to get a second season.

Bowe was released earlier in the offseason. The Browns have now cut Hartline, per a source with knowledge of the situation.

Cut last year by the Dolphins, Hartline signed a two-year, $6 million contract with Cleveland. He caught 46 passes for 523 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games.

Hartline was due to earn $3 million this year, money that wouldn’t have become guaranteed until Week One of the regular season. The move means that the Browns either didn’t see enough from Hartline in offseason workouts or that they’ve seen enough from their four rookie draft picks at the position.

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Ryan Fitzpatrick confirms he still hopes to return to the Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 29:  Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets looks on from the bench in the fourth quarter against the New York Giants during preseason action at MetLife Stadium on August 29, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick don’t appear to be getting any closer to a contract, but they’re not growing further apart, either.

Fitzpatrick told SiriusXM NFL Radio that he still wants to be the Jets’ quarterback this season, even though he’s currently a free agent.

“I had a great time with the guys last year and I want to continue doing this. I’m still preparing for the season,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s been a process and the good thing about it is the discussions have been behind closed doors.”

Fitzpatrick seems to realize that he’s going to have to settle for less money than quarterbacks who didn’t play as well as him last year — like Brock Osweiler and Sam Bradford — have received.

“You would drive yourself crazy looking at other contracts around the league,” Fitzpatrick said.

Eventually, it only makes sense for Fitzpatrick and the Jets to come together. They’re unlikely to find anyone better than him, and he’s unlikely to find another place where he’s guaranteed to start, as he will be if he stays with the Jets. From all accounts a deal will get done at some point, even if it’s surprising that it has taken so long.

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Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson involved in head-on collision

Carolina Panthers first round NFL draft choice Shaq Thompson smiles as he speaks to the media during a news conference in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, May 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton) AP

Panthers 2015 first-round pick Shaq Thompson’s car crossed the center line Sunday morning and hit another car, leaving another area football player injured.

According to Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, Thompson was charged with driving left of center after a crash which sent former Duke quarterback Anthony Boone to the hospital.

He was driving in the suburbs south of Charlotte at 7:45 a.m. Sunday when he collided with Boone’s car head-on. Police said alcohol was involved, but not a factor in the crash. The fact Thompson wasn’t charged with anything suggests either he was below North Carolina’s legal limit, or it was involved in some other way other than affecting a driver.

“Shaq informed us he was involved in a traffic accident and we are in the process of gathering more information,” Panthers spokesman Ryan Anderson said.

Boone, who was in camp with the Lions last year, was hospitalized with serious but not life-threatening injuries. Thompson was not injured in the crash.

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Congressional report calls out NFL for trying to influence NIH study

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In March, it became clear that Congress was exploring whether the NFL improperly tried to influence the selection by the National Institutes for Health of a researcher to direct a study regarding the detection of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in living patients. The verdict is now in.

Via ESPN.com, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce has found in a 91-page report that the league did indeed attempt to exert undue influence over the process.

“In this instance, our investigation has shown that while the NFL had been publicly proclaiming its role as funder and accelerator of important research, it was privately attempting to influence that research,” the report states, via ESPN.com.

After the league tried unsuccessfully to steer the study away from Robert Stern, the league reneged on a $16 million gift to the NIH. Taxpayers instead bore the cost, and the report concludes that the league was warned that its decision to not follow through on its $16 million commitment would result in public money being used instead.

At a time when plenty has been said about the NFL’s efforts to protect the integrity of the game, the term “integrity” has made an appearance in this context.

“Once you get anybody who’s heavily involved with the NFL trying to influence what kind of research takes place, you break that chain that guarantees the integrity, and that’s what I think is so crucial here,” U.S. Rep. Frank Pauline (pictured) told ESPN.com. “Fortunately, the NIH didn’t take the bait. It shouldn’t be a rigged game. If it is, then people won’t really know whether what we’re finding through this research is accurate.”

The NFL had no comment to ESPN.com, explaining that it had not yet read the report.

Given the scorched-earth response to a controversial New York Times article from earlier this year regarding concussion research and comparisons of Big Shield to Big Tobacco, silence in this context will speak volumes.

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Brady to file petition for rehearing on Monday

Fans Attend "Free Tom Brady" Rally Getty Images

File this one under Least Surprising News Of The Year.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the NFL Players Association will file on Monday a petition for a rehearing of the appeal that resulted in the reinstatement of his four-game suspension, via Adam Schefter of ESPN. Monday is the deadline for Brady to take action, and it was clear once Brady and the NFLPA hired former U.S. solicitor general Ted Olson that this specific action would be taken.

The question now becomes whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will agree to a hearing before the full court. Previously, the matter was handled by only three judges, who were randomly assigned to handle the case. The fact that the Chief Judge: (1) was one of the three judges; and (2) sided with Brady could make Brady’s petition less of a long shot.

If Brady secures a rehearing, chances are the matter won’t be resolved before the end of the 2016 season. If he fails, the next question becomes whether he’ll pursue an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court (why wouldn’t he?) and whether Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is assigned to matters arising from the Second Circuit, will agree to stay the suspension while the Supreme Court considers whether to take up the case.

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J.J. Watt has a logo now, because that guy could use some attention

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 03: J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans celebrates after sacking Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars (not pictured) in the first quarter on January 3, 2016 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt deserves plenty of attention for his play on the field. But on the scant possibility you’re not familiar with his work, he now has a handy marketing tool to point you toward him.

According to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com, Watt now has a logo, which will be used as a part of his Reebok campaign.

Basically, it’s a pair of Js, one of them backward, and if you look at it upside down, it looks like a 99 as imagined by a kindergartener. Its color scheme makes it fit with the NBA Houston Rockets, but the description takes it over the top.

According to Rovell: “the logo is designed to look like rising buildings, built from the bottom up, a metaphor for the work ethic of Watt, who was a walk-on before he received a scholarship at the University of Wisconsin.”

“I have always dreamed of being able to use my experience to create something truly great, something that I believed would legitimately improve people’s performance and training,” Watt said. “I wanted the ability to put my own personal stamp of approval on tools that I thought would help people perform better. And that is what this logo has allowed me to do. When you see this logo, you will know that I personally had my hand in the product’s creation and that it has my own personal stamp of approval.”

While that’s as gag-inducing as his secluded workout cabin which isn’t nearly as rustic as the original Rocky vs. Drago training imagery might have implied, at least Watt has done something recently on the field to deserve a marketing campaign.

Not every player with a logo can say that.

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Possible Vegas move by Raiders not on agenda for Charlotte meetings

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With the possibility of the Oakland Raiders moving to Las Vegas gathering more and more momentum, it officially will gather no additional momentum at the quarterly meetings this week in Charlotte. Peter King of TheMMQB.com reports that the official agenda does not include the Raiders-to-Vegas issue.

Still, it’s safe to assume that every owner will be asked for an opinion on the possibility of moving to Las Vegas, given the league’s past reticence to associate with legalized gambling.

Already, multiple influential owners (including Bob Kraft of the Patriots and Jerry Jones of the Cowboys) have indicated potential support for the move. John Mara of the Giants has said that “most owners” would view the possibility as a “non-starter,” which quickly has become the clubhouse leader for worst NFL-related prediction of the year. (We’ll surely top it, at some point.)

Ideally, every owner will be asked the Las Vegas question this week. Previously, the league office disseminated talking points on the issue, advising the owners to point out that, when it comes to relocation of franchises, the league will do whatever 24 owners deem appropriate.

With Commissioner Roger Goodell not ruling out a Vegas move and suggesting that the league’s views on gambling have evolved, it’s time to start counting cards in search of nine or more possible “no” votes.

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