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Philip Rivers: It would be awesome to stay with Chargers

Tamba Hali, Philip Rivers AP

At various points this offseason it seemed like there was a chance that Philip Rivers wouldn’t be with the Chargers for the 2015 season with the years beyond that looking even murkier.

Rivers’s stated desire to let the season (and the final year of his contract) play out without discussing an extension, his apprehensiveness about potentially moving to Los Angeles with the team and trade rumors involving the Titans were the major fuel for that belief, but Rivers remains on the team and his tune about an extension has changed. Rivers reiterated Tuesday that he’s willing to talk about a new deal before the season gets underway and said he wants to remain with the team.

“You put in 11 years here, and we haven’t accomplished the ultimate goal,” Rivers said, via ESPN.com. “There’s been a lot of great memories, and a lot of awesome games, seasons, friendships, training camps and on and on. So that would be awesome [to stay]. Obviously, as players none of can choose how we all want it to work out. But if that’s how it works out, I’d be fired up.”

Rivers didn’t have an update on talks with the team, but things definitely seem to be moving in the direction of extending their working relationship after the more pessimistic outlook from earlier this year.

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Mario Williams “ecstatic” about playing for Rex Ryan

Mario Williams AP

Bills pass rusher Mario Williams is excited about the new defense in Buffalo.

Williams said that as he learns new coach Rex Ryan’s scheme, he sees it as a perfect fit for what he does.

“Understanding the defense, I love it,” Williams told the Buffalo News. “It gives everybody ample opportunities to just do different things and just be able to bring different looks, different angles, and attacks, stuff like that. So I’m ecstatic.”

The Bills’ defense was plenty good last year as well, but Williams thinks Ryan has what it takes to make it better.

“Obviously, with the scheme, with Rex, anything’s possible. So I think right now, we’re just doing building blocks. But the sky’s the limit, so I’m pretty sure there will be a lot of changes and things as we progress and become readapted to a hybrid defense,” Williams said.

Ryan always exudes confidence as a coach. His players are taking after him.

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911 call: Ray McDonald broke down door, tried to take baby

raymcdonald Getty Images

The mother of Ray McDonald’s ex-fiancée called 911 early on Monday morning to report that McDonald had acted violently toward her daughter, broke down a door when she locked herself inside to avoid him, and tried to forcibly take their baby.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that an emergency call made at 3:48 a.m. said that the 6-foot-3, 290-pound McDonald “broke down” the door and tried to take the baby.

“She said she received a call from her daughter . . . advising that her boyfriend Ray McDonald was being violent,” a dispatcher said on a call relaying the call from McDonald’s ex-fiancée’s mother. “She tried to lock herself in her bedroom but he broke the door down . . . Ex is trying to leave now with her infant.”

Police showed up to the ex-fiancée’s apartment, but by that point she and the baby were safe, and McDonald had left. Police determined that the woman had been assaulted, and they found McDonald at a San Jose home registered to his former 49ers teammate Justin Smith. McDonald was arrested and has since been released on $15,000 bail. He was released by the Bears hours after his arrest.

McDonald was also arrested and accused of assaulting his ex-fiancée nine months ago, while she was pregnant. He was ultimately not charged in that case after she declined to cooperate with the investigation.

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Andy Reid: Eric Berry “doing well” after finishing cancer treatments

Eric Berry AP

With players filtering back in to OTAs, we’re getting updates on guys recovering from torn ACLs and other football injuries.

But for the Chiefs, the latest medical news has been even better.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid told reporters today that safety Eric Berry was “doing well,” and had completed his treatments for Hodgkin lymphoma and was awaiting test results.

“He’s going to get his big end-of-the-school [year] exam down here,” Reid said, via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star. He’s been through all the treatments, so now the doctor is going to sit down with him and go over exactly what the results of all that are.

“So we don’t have that, and Eric doesn’t have that quite yet, but everything up to this point has point has been very positive from the doctor and from Eric. So I think we’re heading in the right direction with that.”

That’s fantastic news for the Chiefs safety, who left the team last November complaining about discomfort in his chest. But to this point, all indications have been positive, and we hope they continue that way.

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Roethisberger: It won’t be the same without Brady in opener

Ben Roethlisberger AP

The football world is waiting to hear what happens when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s appeal of his four-game suspension is heard and the Steelers figure to be paying as close attention to the result as anyone else.

Pittsburgh will open the season at Gillette Stadium on September 10 and they’ll be facing Jimmy Garoppolo in Garoppolo’s first regular season start if Brady’s suspension isn’t totally wiped out by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. That may be an advantage to the Steelers’ chances of starting the season with a victory, especially after a Brady-led offense put 55 points and 610 yards on the board against Pittsburgh in 2013, but it sounds like one that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would rather not enjoy.

“He’s a guy, I’ve said for a long time, he’s the best in the business, and he proved it again last year winning his fourth [Super Bowl],” Roethlisberger said, via ESPN.com. “If he’s not out there, it’s not the same. I have a lot of respect for him on the football field and some of the unbelievable things that he’s done. I guess we’ll wait and see what’s finally going to happen.”

Roethisberger didn’t share any further thoughts on the league’s discipline of Brady, but his opinion isn’t likely to count for much once Goodell does hear Brady’s appeal.

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McCown with the starters, Manziel with backups at Browns’ OTAs

Manziel AP

Browns quarterback Josh McCown has opened Organized Team Activities as the starting quarterback, while Johnny Manziel is working with the second team.

That’s no surprise: It’s been believed from the day McCown was signed that he’s the starter, and that Manziel is second. McCown said after practice that he views the Browns as his team, but he also said he hopes to support Manziel and the other young quarterbacks on the roster.

“I’ve said from Day One, I want to see the Cleveland Browns quarterback position be better than it’s been, and I want to do my part to help that happen on the field, but if something happens and I’m not playing, that whoever is playing, that those guys are productive too,” McCown said.

Manziel didn’t talk to reporters, but Browns coach Mike Pettine said he’s liking what he’s seeing from Manziel.

“He’s been very engaged in the meetings, and it’s good to see a lot of stuff carried over from the meetings onto the field, not just for him but for all the quarterbacks. I just feel much better, from that room a much better sense of urgency and attention to detail,” Pettine said.

Pettine sounds like he thinks Manziel is on the right track. But Manziel is not on track to start.

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Michael Sam: I’m just here to play football, not do anything historic

michaelsam AP

Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted in the NFL, is now poised to become the first openly gay player in the CFL, as he has signed with the Montreal Alouettes. But Sam doesn’t want to be known as Canada’s gay football player.

Sam said today that he only wants to be known as a football player, and he’s eager to get on the field with his team.

“I’m just here to play football,” Sam said. “I’m not trying to do anything historic, I’m just trying to win some games.”

Sam acknowledged that his preferred choice would have been to make it in the NFL, but when he realized that wasn’t in the cards he started talking to Alouettes General Manager Jim Popp, and got excited about the possibility of playing in Canada.

“I decided to come to Canada when I figured I wasn’t going to be in an NFL camp. Montreal had my rights, we’ve been negotiating with Jim Popp, and now here I am,” Sam said.

Sam should be on the field in his first regular-season game in less than a month, as the Alouettes open the season at Ottawa on June 25.

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Russell Wilson attending funeral with Jimmy Graham

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

The news that Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is absent from today’s Organized Team Activities was met by some with speculation that he’s unhappy with the status of contract talks. But that’s not the reason for Wilson’s absence.

Instead, a league source tells PFT that Wilson decided to travel to Miami to be with new teammate Jimmy Graham at the funeral of Graham’s longtime manager and mentor, Tamara Meyerson.

Meyerson, who died on Friday at the age of 45, became a mother figure for Graham, whose biological mother abandoned him when he was 11. Meyerson’s obituary names her three children and Graham as the most important people in her life.

“Tammy loved and mentored Jimmy Graham as a son. They were all always the number one priority in her life,” the obituary says.

Our condolences go out to Graham and to the Meyerson family.

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Russell Wilson to miss start of OTAs with personal matter

Russell Wilson AP

Quarterback Russell Wilson is entering the final year of his rookie contract and hasn’t been able to agree to terms with the Seahawks on a new deal, but that won’t be the reason why Wilson misses the start of the team’s organized team activities on Tuesday.

Danny O’Neil of 710 ESPN in Seattle reports that Wilson will be absent from the team’s first workout of the third phase of the offseason program because of a personal matter. Because Wilson’s absence from a voluntary practice isn’t contract related, it’s not going to move the needle closer to an agreement although a day of watching B.J. Daniels and R.J. Archer running the offense may push Seattle closer to bringing in a veteran backup for Wilson.

Wilson won’t be the only Seahawk veteran missing on Tuesday. Tight end Jimmy Graham and defensive end Cliff Avril will also be away from the team while dealing with their own personal matters.

Defensive end Michael Bennett makes it four absences, although his issue continues to be one of dissatisfaction with his contract a year after signing it.

UPDATE 12:02 p.m. ET: Wilson and Graham are in Miami, attending the funeral of Graham’s manager and mentor.

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Not everyone is thrilled about the idea of a game in Mexico

San Francisco 49ers vs Arizona Cardinals - October 2, 2005 Getty Images

Steelers president Art Rooney II might be advocating games in Mexico, but his team apparently wasn’t such a fan.

Via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, some Steelers feared for their families when they played there in 2000.

Running back Jerome Bettis said the only two games his parents missed were a preseason in Tokyo in 1996 and the game in Mexico City.

It wasn’t the distance (they made the 1997 preseason game Ireland), rather because “the players were told it was best to keep their families at home because of the danger in Mexico City.”

Naturally no one ever said that out loud at the time, which you’d expect while they were promoting a game there. And the league played a regular season game in Mexico City in 2005 between the Cardinals and 49ers, drawing over 100,000 fans.

Of course, the Steelers don’t have to worry about heading south of the border or anywhere else now, since their lease with Heinz Field requires them to play 10 games per year there.
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Owners need to create downside for taking chances on problem players

Risk Getty Images

It’s an idea that has been percolating for years. With the latest arrest of Bears defensive lineman Ray McDonald, its time finally has come.

NFL teams will continue to give talented players second (and third . . . and fourth) chances because NFL teams want to win. Seven years ago, the NFL implemented a deterrent to the practice of harboring problem players by instituting a convoluted system of fines on teams with multiple players suspended in a given year.

It hasn’t worked the way it should, and for good reason. Fines are a cost of doing business, especially when the ultimate goal of business is to compete for championships.

The only way to get the attention of teams inclined to roll the dice on the Ray McDonalds of the world will be to attach the loss of future draft picks when a player with a propensity for getting into trouble gets into trouble.

Last October, owners discussed the possibility of removing draft picks from teams with players who have multiple incidents under the Personal Conduct Policy.

What level of accountability should be expected of clubs?” Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a memo to owners before the October session, Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports reported at the time.  “Is the current Salary Remittance Program sufficient, or should additional measures be considered?”

They should be considered, and they should be implemented. It won’t be easy; the formula for taking away draft picks when players get into trouble needs to be clear, simple, and fair.

Ultimately, it’s the only thing that will cause a team that sees a first-round talent slide to round four to stop and think about the potential consequences for rolling the dice. If/when the worst-case scenario unfolds, the team won’t simply lose the lower pick invested in a player whose ability should have gotten him off the board much sooner. They’ll lose one or more picks in the future.

Given the weight teams attach to those draft picks, it’s the best (and probably only) way to get them either to do a better job of keeping out players who may find trouble — or to ensure that players with a checkered past won’t find trouble in their next place of employment.

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Oakland mayor opposes spending tax dollars to keep the Raiders

New York Jets v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

If the Raiders are going to stay in Oakland, they’re going to have to find a way to do it without any money from the city taxpayers.

That’s the word from Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who says she would not support spending any public funds on a new stadium.

Schaaf noted that taxpayers are already on the hook for millions of dollars a year in debt from previous renovations on the Oakland Coliseum. That debt won’t be paid off until 2026, and the city has no interest in spending more money on a new stadium while it’s still paying off the old stadium.

“That money we’re paying now is general-fund money we could spend on police, parks or libraries,” she said.

Whether the Raiders move to Los Angeles remains to be seen, but if they’re getting a new stadium somewhere, it won’t be in Oakland.

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Bears release Ray McDonald

McDonald Getty Images

Holiday, schmoliday.

With the NFL taking a rare day off to celebrate Memorial Day, the Chicago Bears opted to transact some swift business in the immediate aftermath of the latest arrest of defensive lineman Ray McDonald.

The team has announced that McDonald has been released.

“We believe in second chances, but when we signed Ray we were very clear what our expectations were if he was to remain a Bear,” General Manager Ryan Pace said in team-issued release. “He was not able to meet the standard and the decision was made to release him.”

On one hand, McDonald is innocent until proven guilty, and it’s possible he didn’t do anything wrong. On the other hand, how many time can a guy be falsely accused before the question becomes why does he keep putting himself in the position to be accused falsely? With McDonald fully aware of the consequences of any misstep, he needed to do everything in his power to avoid any type of claim. He failed.

McDonald once again becomes a free agent, but it’s unlikely that anyone will take a chance on him unless and until he’s exonerated from the latest accusation of domestic violence and child endangerment. Even then, it’s possible that McDonald won’t get another second chance.

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McDonald is accused of assaulting woman who was holding a baby

McDonald Getty Images

More and more details are emerging regarding the Monday morning arrest of Bears defensive lineman Ray McDonald. And more and more time is passing with his current employer saying nothing.

Via NBC Bay Area, McDonald specifically is accused of “physically assault[ing] the victim while she was holding a baby.” The alleged victim apparently is McDonald’s ex-fiancée, who reportedly had been residing with the child in an apartment paid for by McDonald.

McDonald reportedly asked his ex-fiancée to leave the apartment. He then left the premises and, when he returned, the police had been called. McDonald was arrested at the home of former 49ers teammate Justin Smith.

McDonald’s ex-fiancée also was involved in the August 2014 incident for which McDonald was arrested but ultimately not charged. The 49ers were criticized heavily for taking no action against McDonald. The team then cut him after a separate accusation of sexual assault was made against McDonald later in the year. (McDonald contends that the claim of sexual assault is false.)

The Bears, meanwhile, have said nothing — not even the perfunctory “we’re looking into it” non-statement statement. They’ll be expected by many to say, and to do, something strong in response to this latest incident involving McDonald.

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McCaskey warned McDonald his behavior had to improve

mccaskey AP

When the Bears signed Ray McDonald in March, he was specifically warned by owner George McCaskey that his off-field behavior had to improve, or else he wouldn’t be a Bear for long.

After getting that warning, McDonald managed to stay out of trouble for two months.

McDonald, who was arrested today on charges of domestic violence and child endangerment, was cut by the 49ers last year after two separate accusations of violence against women. At the time that the Bears signed McDonald, McCaskey said that he had personally talked to McDonald and told him the Bears wouldn’t tolerate continued off-field issues.

“I told him that my assessment was bad decision-making; allowing himself to be in the wrong place at the wrong time or not withdrawing from a situation at the appropriate time. And I told him if he’s to remain a Bear that needs to improve and he pledged to me that it would,” McCaskey said.

McCaskey also said he wants to make sure the Bears are attracting the right kinds of people.

“That’s extremely important to us,” McCaskey said. “We have a 96-year tradition of doing things a certain way, of bringing a certain player into our team and those were my concerns going into the conversation with Ray. But I think you look at every situation individually. You try to find out as much information as you can that’s reliable to make the best decision you can about whether to offer a player the privilege of becoming a Chicago Bear.”

Given those comments, it’s hard to imagine that the Bears won’t cut McDonald. Perhaps by the end of the day today.

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