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Report: Hyundai deal worth $50 million per year

SCHAUMBURG, IL - AUGUST 26:  A Hyundai logo is displayed outside Schaumburg Hyundai August 26, 2005 in Schaumburg, Illinois. Strike action by Hyundai workers in South Korea demanding higher pay, improved working conditions and greater say in management decisions has shut down vehicle production for a second day.  (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images) Getty Images

If the NFL will be taking any heat for doing business with a non-American car company, it’ll be worth it.

Via Darren Rovell of ESPN.com, Hyundai will be paying the NFL $50 million per year for the new four-year sponsorship deal. That’s twice the amount General Motors had been paying.

And there’s more. Or, technically, less. Hyundai didn’t obtain total exclusivity; per Rovell, the NFL can (and surely will) sell the truck category separately, giving that vehicle to the Super Bowl MVP.

In other words, the one time per year that the NFL has a link to an automobile manufacturer, Hyundai’s $50 million per year won’t be getting anything.

In other words, the Kanye lyric “win a Super Bowl and drive off in a Hyundai” still won’t relate to something good.

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Rookies get a primer on college vs. NFL rules at symposium

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This year’s NFL draft class has been taught at the annual rookie symposium about the differences between NFL rules and college rules.

NFL V.P. of Officiating Dean Blandino said on SiriusXM NFL Radio that there are subtle differences between college and pro rules, especially player safety rules, that a lot of rookies don’t know.

“What we try to do is give the rookie players a basis, a foundation for the rules,” he said. “The rules are different from college to the pros. Some of the basic stuff that everybody knows — two feet vs. one foot and down by contact and those differences — but there are some differences that they have to know in terms of the chop block, what chop blocks are legal in the NFL that are not legal in the college game. We try to give them that background, revolving mainly around protection of the player, things like that, a lot of our safety rules and defenseless players.”

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a discussion of NFL rules if Dez Bryant’s playoff non-catch didn’t rear its ugly head.

“It is well received,” Blandino said. “I made the mistake yesterday with the rookies of showing the Dez Bryant play too early in the presentation so that was all anybody wanted to talk about.”

So add the rookie class of 2015 to the long list of people who can’t figure out what is and isn’t a catch in the NFL.

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Hall of Fame voters won’t hold Deflategate against Brady

tombrady AP

The Baseball Hall of Fame has become a joke in recent years, with many of the greatest players in recent history, from Pete Rose to Barry Bonds to Roger Clemens, kept out over off-field issues. Fortunately, the Pro Football Hall of Fame will not follow that path.

The rules for the football Hall of Fame have always clearly stated that the voters are to consider only on-field accomplishments, and that’s exactly what Pro Football Hall of Fame voters will do in the case of Tom Brady. Although some might say that Deflategate should brand Brady as a cheater and keep him out of Canton, that’s not the view of the voters.

Richard Deitsch of SI.com reached out to eight Hall of Fame voters and found that they’re not going to let Deflategate outweigh the fact that Brady is a three-time Super Bowl MVP, two-time regular-season MVP, two-time first-team All-Pro and 10-time Pro Bowler.

About the closest any voter came to suggesting that Deflategate will cost Brady any Hall of Fame votes was Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, and even he opened his comments with, “Brady is still going into the Hall of Fame.” Gosselin just thinks Deflategate could cause Brady to have to wait a year rather than being a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Even that would be wrong. Brady has done enough on the field that he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Deflategate doesn’t change that.

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NFL announces Hyundai deal

Hyundai Getty Images

America’s pastime no longer urges you to buy American. At least not when it comes to automobiles.

General Motors is out, and Hyundai is officially now in as the official automative sponsor of the NFL.

It’s a four-year arrangement announced Monday morning, and it will be launched in connection with the kickoff to the NFL regular season, on September 10.

“We are pleased to welcome Hyundai to our family of sponsors,” NFL senior vice president of sponsorship Renie Anderson said in a league-issued release. “We appreciate Hyundai’s enthusiasm as we work together to reach our fans with innovative programs during our season and with our major calendar events throughout the year.”

It’s likely no coincidence that the release also includes a quote from the CEO of “Hyundai Motor America,” and that the release points out that “Hyundai Motor America” is headquartered in California, and that “Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through more than 830 dealerships nationwide.”

As the U.S. of A. prepares to celebrate the 239th anniversary of its independence, it’s important for the NFL to make a non-American automotive sponsor look as American as possible.

In fairness to Hyundai and the NFL, Hyundai North America undoubtedly employs thousands of Americans. But it’s still not an American car company, and the NFL surely is concerned that this could create some hiccups for the most popular American sport.

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Adrian Peterson still thinks he’s the best running back in the NFL

adrian-peterson1 Getty Images

Adrian Peterson doesn’t see any reason that missing 15 games last year should change the widespread view that he’s the NFL’s top running back.

Asked if there’s any chance he lost his title as the NFL’s best running back, Peterson told the Pioneer Press, “Come on now. No.”

The annual NFL Network ranking of the Top 100 players in the NFL has dropped Peterson all the way from No. 4 last year to No. 62 this year, and he’s now well behind running backs DeMarco Murray and LeSean McCoy. But Peterson thinks the fact that he’s on that list at all after missing last year because he abused his son shows that he still has respect in the NFL.

“There’s not too many players in general that miss a season and his peers vote him into the top 100,’’ Peterson said. “You tell me if McCoy and other running backs miss a season and you tell me if they would still be voted into the top 100?’’

The Vikings obviously think Peterson is still the best running back in the NFL, because they fought hard to keep him on their roster at the highest running back salary in the NFL. Now Peterson needs to back it up on the field.

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Report: Joe Delaney “30 for 30″ documentary coming in August

Delaney Getty Images

Every June 29, we remember Joe Delaney, because we want as many football fans as possible to know his story.

Plenty more will know his story later this year.

Via Vahe Gregorian of the Kansas City Star, ESPN is planning a 30 for 30 documentary regarding Delaney, with a planned premiere in August.

Delaney died 32 years ago today, while trying to save the lives of three drowning boys. Delaney couldn’t swim. That didn’t stop him from trying.

He managed to save one of the boys, but Delaney lost his life at the age of 24, leaving a wife and three young daughters behind. Less than two years earlier, Delaney arrived on the NFL scene with a flourish, rushing for 1,121 yards as a rookie with the Chiefs.

Until ESPN’s treatment of Joe Delaney’s life and death debuts, here’s a 20-minute documentary produced by the Chiefs’ official website in 2013.

The August debut of the 30 for 30 isn’t official. Delaney’s widow shared the information with Marvin Dearman, a police officer who responded to the accident. A request for comment has been submitted to ESPN.

UPDATE 10:38 a.m. 6/30/15: ESPN tells PFT that it won’t be a full-length documentary, but an online digital short only.

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Russell Wilson once again deflects question about contract

Wilson Getty Images

With the contractual expectations of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson recently in the headlines, Wilson has chimed in. Once again, however, he has declined to address his contractual expectations.

In remarks to reporters at the Madison, Wisconsin version of his annual passing academy, Wilson deflected a question about his next contract.

That’s not where my focus is,” Wilson said. “The contract will work itself out. . . . I’m excited to hopefully be a Seattle Seahawk for a really, really long time.  So that’s the goal.”

There’s no reason to currently doubt that he wants to stay with the Seahawks. But there’s also no reason to currently doubt that he wants to be paid more than any other player in the NFL, or to currently doubt that he’s prepared to change teams if need be, since he recently has said just that.

Of course Wilson wants to be a Seahawk. But if he wants more money to do that than the Seahawks are willing to pay, Wilson eventually will have to ask himself which of the two he wants more.

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Could a deal be done in the Tom Brady case?

Goodell Getty Images

In any case of player discipline, a negotiated compromise is possible at any time. So in what arguably is the highest-profile instance of player discipline in league history, could a deal be done?

To get there, both sides would have to find an acceptable middle ground. But with Commissioner Roger Goodell apparently intent on never again being accused of not going far enough when it comes to player discipline and with Brady apparently intent on fighting any suspension through every available legal channel, a middle ground may not exist.

Here’s perhaps the only thing that could work: The conversion of Brady’s four-game suspension to a four-game fine.

He’d be punished significantly, with a financial loss of $1.88 million. Which means the league could claim it didn’t go easy on Brady. And Brady would be able to play, so the player could claim that he took the deal not because he’s guilty, but because the NFL gave him the chance to play, even if it means playing 25 percent of the season for free.

That still may not be enough, for either side. The league necessarily would be casting doubt on the multi-million-dollar efforts of Ted Wells, and Brady necessarily would be giving tangible ammunition to those who believe that he’s guilty of cheating.

The bigger problem is the lingering impact of the Ray Rice debacle on Goodell. After nearly losing his job for going too light on Rice and hearing barely a peep of criticism when Goodell gets his knuckles rapped by someone truly independent who reduces or scuttles his suspensions, Goodell arguably has nothing to gain and everything to lose by voluntarily allowing Brady to play in every game of the 2015 season.

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A trade is also possible for Russell Wilson

USA - 2014 300 dpi Chris Ware caricature of Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League. (MCT via Getty Images) Getty Images

It remains too early to know how quarterback Russell Wilson’s long-term future will play out in Seattle. It’s not too early to identify the potential outcomes.

On the surface, there are three options for the Seahawks and Wilson beyond 2015: (1) new multi-year contract with Seattle; (2) exclusive franchise tag, which prevents him for entertaining offers elsewhere; and (3) non-exclusive franchise tag, which allows another team to sign Wilson to an offer sheet, and to give up two first-round picks if the offer sheet isn’t matched.

There’s also a fourth option. The Seahawks could trade Wilson.

A trade on or before the 2015 deadline for doing so is highly unlikely; with the offseason programs concluded, it would be too hard for Wilson’s new team to get the most out of him. It also would be too hard for the Seahawks to prepare another quarterback, whether it’s a quarterback on the roster or someone who would be signed or, in theory, acquired via a Wilson trade.

Making a trade before October even less likely is the reality that, before the two sides would divorce, they’d have to want that outcome. They’re not there yet, and there’s no reason to think they’ll be there before the trade deadline.

But they could be there by February. If ongoing discussions (discussions that could be continuing as soon as this week) fail to result in a long-term deal, the Seahawks could opt for a trade of Wilson over mere placement of the non-exclusive tender and acceptance of a pair of first-round picks from whichever team convinces Wilson to sign.

Here’s how it likely would unfold. The Seahawks would apply the exclusive franchise tag, preventing another team (like the Rams, a division rival) from pursuing Wilson. The Seahawks then could shop Wilson, simultaneously controlling his next destination and seeking compensation other than a pair of first-round picks.

They could seek more than two first-round picks. (If Robert Griffin III was worth three ones and a two, what is Wilson worth?) The Seahawks could seek the first overall pick from whichever team earns it, if there’s a clear-cut franchise quarterback emerging in the 2016 draft. They could try to get a veteran quarterback as part of the package.

And that’s where it gets very intriguing. Three and a half decades after the Raiders and Oilers swapped Ken Stabler and Dan Pastorini, the Seahawks could send Wilson to another team for its starting quarterback.

Plenty of teams would consider that. From Seattle’s perspective, the challenge would become finding the right fit for the offense — and for the short-term and long-term interests of the franchise.

In the end, Wilson would get what he wants, a contract making him the highest-paid player in the game. And the Seahawks actually could end up with an arguably “better” quarterback who is willing to accept less money in order to pursue championships and to cement his own NFL legacy.

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Talk commences of a possible one-year L.A. delay

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At a time when it’s become a foregone conclusion that the NFL will return to Los Angeles in 2016, a possible caveat has emerged

The return might come in 2017.

According to an item from the Editorial board of U-T San Diego, “There is speculation that the owners at the August meeting [to discuss Los Angeles] may delay the entire process for a year to let everything percolate in [Oakland, San Diego, and St. Louis] to see what develops.”

The paper calls it the “best possible outcome” for San Diego, since it would give the local politicians more time to properly pursue a vote regarding the use of taxpayer funds. It also would give both the city and the team cover, if the voters decide to reject the use of public money — necessarily paving the way for the Chargers to return to the city where the team spent its first season in 1960, the inaugural year of the AFL.

It’s unclear where the speculation came from. It could be something that the Editorial board of U-T San Diego conjured (“yes, there is speculation, started by us”) as a Hail Mary pass to keep an NFL team in town for U-T San Diego to cover. If, of course, a public vote regarding the use of taxpayer money would go against the current national trend against subsidizing billionaires’ ballparks.

Tapping the brakes could have unintended consequences. For example, if one of the three teams linked to L.A. gets too antsy about the situation, it could in theory decide to go rogue, moving without NFL approval and bracing to argue that a group of independent businesses ultimately can’t tell one of those businesses where it should conduct its business without violating the antitrust laws.

It’s also possible (“yes, there is speculation, started by us”) that the owners could decide to green light a return by the Rams to L.A. for 2016, with the question of whether the team’s new stadium in Inglewood would be shared with the Chargers or Raiders unresolved.

No amount of delay will change the fact that L.A. has quickly morphed from luxury to necessity for the NFL, with three teams having unsettled stadium situations and each circling the City of Angels. But if the eventual goal is to put two teams in L.A. and to ensure that the third has a new stadium in its current market, it could be that one more year will allow one of the teams to work out a deal locally, allowing the other two to move.

Under that scenario, it’s unlikely that the Chargers would accept an outcome that puts them in a new San Diego stadium and the Rams and Raiders back up the road in L.A. Delaying the process that would allow the Chargers to grab one of the two seats in Los Angeles increases the likelihood that, when the music stops, three franchises will be clustered into territory in which the Chargers currently enjoy their status as the only NFL show in town.

For that reason alone (and the fact that they’ve been trying for 14 years to bring this situation to a head), the Chargers probably aren’t inclined to wait any longer.

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Michael Bennett on possible holdout: I don’t mind staying home for a while

New Orleans Saints v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

Quarterback Russell Wilson’s contract remains a hot topic in Seattle, but there’s no worries about Wilson reporting for the start of training camp next month.

The same may not be true of defensive end Michael Bennett. Bennett skipped voluntary work this offseason as he tries to get a contract more to his liking from the Seahawks and wasn’t willing to rule out the possibility of being absent again when the team gets back to work this summer. During an interview with KHON in Honolulu, Bennett suggested that he might not be saying “Aloha” to the team on Day One if his contract remains the same.

“Hawaii’s weather is great, so I’ll just keep it at that,” Bennett said. “When the weather’s not as nice as it is here, it’s harder to make that decision, so it just keeps it in my mind like hopefully something great comes out of it, but I don’t mind staying home for a little while.”

Bennett will face fines of $30,000 a day if he skips camp, so the weather probably shouldn’t be the only consideration he has in mind when making his call about how to proceed in his drive for a new contract a little more than a year after signing his four-year pact with the team.

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Condon is confident Giants will extend Eli Manning’s contract

San Francisco 49ers v New York Giants Getty Images

When it comes to a long-term contract that expires after the coming season, Giants quarterback Eli Manning doesn’t seem to care very much. Then again, he’s always that way.

In this specific case, Eli’s default demeanor serves him well. He’s not desperate to do a deal, which could help him get a better deal than if he were.

He’s possibly not desperate because he knows it’s just a matter of time before the deal is done. Because that’s apparently what his agent is telling him.

The quarterbacks always get done,” Tom Condon said, via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. “And the Giants are not a skittish team. So it’s not one of those things where they get nervous or they jump around or anything like that. You know you’re going to go in and it’s going to get done. I’m sure at the appropriate time it’ll happen.”

The Giants have a little extra leverage if they make an offer before the start of the regular season, since that would shift the injury risk away from Eli and back to the team. If the Giants wait until the 2015 campaign ends, and if Eli emerges unscathed, the pendulum swings to Peyton’s kid brother.

Then the question will become where Eli fits on the spectrum that has Peyton and his take-every-dollar tendency (with which I have no problem) at one end and Colin Kaepernick and his grossly-team-friendly deal at the other. At that point, the question won’t be about whether Eli has led the Giants back to the postseason for only the second time since 2008 or whether he has pulled another fourth-quarter rabbit from his hat (or some other orifice) to win a Super Bowl. At that point, the Giants would be facing the same three-door range of options that the Seahawks would be encountering with Russell Wilson, and that the Ravens faced two years ago with Joe Flacco.

“It’s an extraordinarily hard position to fill,” Condon said. “You actually have some leverage with the quarterbacks. The only problem is there’s a salary cap.”

But the salary cap has gone up by $10 million in each of the last two years, which drives up the franchise tag number. Which drives up the starting point for talks on a long-term deal. Which makes more money available for a franchise quarterback.

For Eli, then, the challenge isn’t to make it to the playoffs or to become the Super Bowl MVP but to stay healthy.

“The interesting part about it is, since 1993, the inception of free agency, has there ever been an elite quarterback hit the open market?” Condon said. “Peyton, but he had four neck surgeries and no idea if he would ever be well enough to play. Drew Brees, when he went to New Orleans, he had 15 studs in his shoulder, in his throwing arm.”

Like Russell Wilson, Eli wouldn’t hit the open market, if he’s healthy. If Eli were to leave, it would come with significant compensation to the Giants — and a gigantic new deal from a new team for Eli. But even the two first-round picks that come from a player changing teams via the non-exclusive franchise tag doesn’t guarantee that a franchise quarterback’s former team will emerge with a new franchise quarterback.

And it’s that fear of a team not having a franchise quarterback has gotten a lot of franchise and close-to-franchise quarterbacks paid a lot of money in the past two decades. That same fear will get plenty more quarterbacks paid — either by their current team or by someone else.

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Pouncey brothers say they’re trying to bolster their reputations

Court of Dreams Celebrity Basketball Game

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey and Dolphins center Mike Pouncey are identical twin brothers who have a reputation as good players on the field, but not quite as great a reputation off the field.

There was their support for Aaron Hernandez, their college teammate-turned-murderer. There was the time they were accused of beating someone up at their birthday party, although no charges were filed. There was Mike’s involvement in the Dolphins bullying scandal.

But the Pounceys say they’ve learned from past mistakes and are working on improving their public images.

“The world has changed so much that the public eye is everything,” Mike Pouncey told the Ledger. “It’s perception over reality. We know that you’ve got to do the things right on and off the football field, and we learned over the course of our careers to do that now. We’re just glad to be positive role models in our community.”

Added Maurkice Pouncey, “We made some mistakes in the past and we learned from them,. I’m glad they happened because you always got to learn in life. We were young … then, but we’re grown up and trying to be the positive role models — something for these kids back in Lakeland to look up to — and it means a lot to us. Anytime we did get in trouble in the past, it hit us in the heart. We learned the hard way.”

The criticism the Pounceys have received is legitimate: They have, at times, acted like jerks. But they seem sincere in wanting to change not just their images but their actions. Good for them.

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Adrian Peterson leading teammates in summer workouts

Detroit Lions v Minnesota ViKings Getty Images

Despite being suspended and unhappy for much of the offseason, running back Adrian Peterson has assumed a leadership role with the Vikings in recent weeks.

With the team off until the start of training camp, Peterson has brought teammates including wide receiver Mike Wallace and running back Jerick McKinnon with him to Houston for workouts with his longtime personal trainer. Peterson has always shown up to camp in top shape, and he says the intense offseason workouts are the reason.

“[It’s] a lot of strength work as well,” Peterson told ESPN. “I do so much different stuff, whether it’s track workouts, on the field, hill workouts, running three miles, exercise with the full-body workout. Whatever the trainer throws out there in front of us, it’s a challenge. I’m always trying to accomplish that challenge.”

Returning to form at the age of 30, after missing all but one game last year, will be a very big challenge. Peterson is working hard to show he’s up to it.

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Report: Dez Bryant’s agent recently met with Cowboys

Indianapolis Colts v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

The Cowboys and receiver Dez Bryant have 19 days to translate his one-year franchise tender into a long-term contract. After months of not trying to get something done, the team and Bryant’s agent now are.

Todd Archer of ESPN.com reports that the Cowboys and Tom Condon had their first face-to-face meeting in months at some point within the last week.

In a deadline-driven business, this development is no surprise. But it doesn’t mean a deal will be finalized between the Cowboys and Bryant. They’ve been trying to get something done for a long time, to no avail.

Bryant wants market value, and the Cowboys hope that he’ll sign something more team friendly, like the long-term contract signed last year by cornerstone left tackle Tyron Smith.

After July 15, Bryant and the Cowboys can agree to only a one-year deal until after the 2015 regular-season ends. At that point, the Cowboys could offer Bryant more than his $12.8 million tender — or the Cowboys can offer to not apply the franchise tag or transition tag to Bryant in 2016, guaranteeing that he’ll hit the open market.

Bryant reportedly is willing to miss regular-season games if he doesn’t get a long-term deal. The problem for Bryant is that the games would be missed after the time has come and gone for the Cowboys to give him a long-term deal. That said, Bryant missing games in 2015 could make the Cowboys take more seriously a threat to miss games in 2016, if they decide to do the franchise-tag dance again with Dez.

The more immediate problem for Dez as it relates to the threat to miss games is that the Cowboys don’t believe he’ll give up game checks in excess of $750,000 each. So maybe the meeting between Condon and the Cowboys included a separate agenda item from the agent’s perspective: Convincing the Cowboys that Bryant will miss games if he doesn’t get a long-term deal by July 15.

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