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Roger Goodell makes rare Twitter appearance to pander to Annie Apple again

SUN VALLEY, ID - JULY 7: (L to R) Michael Ovitz, businessman and co-founder of Creative Arts Agency, and Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League (NFL), attend the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 7, 2016 in Sun Valley, Idaho. Every July, some of the world's most wealthy and powerful businesspeople from the media, finance, technology and political spheres converge at the Sun Valley Resort for the exclusive weeklong conference. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) Getty Images

It appears commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL have found a potential face for Operation Mom.

And it wouldn’t be a stretch to think they’re trying to make sure they stay on her good side.

Goodell, who is not what you’d call an active Twitter user, just stepped out to pander to Annie Apple — the mother of Giants first-rounder Eli Apple, who is on the verge of becoming a star in her own right by virtue of her new job as an ESPN contributor.

The timing is practically impossible to miss. At a time when those within the sport feel like they’re under attack, using a movie premiere about one of the sport’s inspirational figures is no accident. It’s worth noting that one of Goodell’s other four tweets from the last 25 days was directed at Gleason’s wife Michel, and if you go past those four, the previous one was congratulating a female staffer for winning an award. It’s as if there’s a carefully planned strategy.

It’s also amusing to see Apple describe Goodell as “personable and hilarious,” two words rarely associated with him in his current post.

But Apple is also a potentially valuable ally for Goodell and the league, as her plain-spoken and protective charm were evident in the days leading up to the draft. She defended her son when he was criticized for not being able to cook, gently scolded him about the excess of expensive jewelry and warned about the danger of “thirsty girls.”

Having a strong mama-bear figure with enough media savvy to sell the message is invaluable to a league that is scrambling to make sure the mothers of their potential labor pool aren’t scared of the game.

It’s not the first time Goodell has reached out to her, sending her brownies after she tweeted about the lack of dessert in the green room.

But she’s already finding out what being attached to Goodell means, as the replies to his tweet seem to have alarmed her.

It will be interesting to watch the progress of her son’s career. Because at the moment, everything is good. But if the business of football ends up chewing him up and spitting him out — as it does many of its participants — she might not be so much of an advocate.

So reaching out now to give her an electronic hug — and thereby keeping her close — is probably a good idea for the NFL, and probably not an accident.

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Sammy Watkins on foot: “Right where I need to be” in rehab

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 13:  Sammy Watkins #14 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates scoring a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on December 13, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins progressed to running recently in a step forward in his recovery from a stress fracture in his foot that required surgery earlier this offseason.

Watkins didn’t offer any update on when he expected to be cleared for football activities when he shared that video and his past updates didn’t create much certainty about his availability for training camp. Watkins held a football camp Tuesday and didn’t offer up any more specifics when he spoke to reporters about the timeline, but did say he was comfortable with the rate of progress in his rehab.

“I don’t know how much I’m gonna be doing or when I’m gonna be on the field, but I’m definitely going to be active and engaged,” Watkins said, via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. “I don’t know what the schedule is like with me being on the field competing-wise, but I’m right where I need to be at — feeling good, healthy. Nothing is bothering me. Just really prepare for whatever they do. I don’t know what the situation is, but if they throw me out there, I just want to be prepared if they do. That’s all I can do is prepare for it.”

Injuries have been Watkins’ biggest obstacle in his NFL career and the current one stands as an obstacle to time on the field with quarterback Tyrod Taylor, although the wideout says he and Taylor have something planned to make sure “we’re on the right page” when the season starts. Watkins also said that he’s prioritized working with the training staff in an effort to do whatever he can to stay healthy in the future, something that would be worth a great deal to the Bills if he can hit on the right formula.

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Tony Dungy: Teams aren’t upholding the spirit of the Rooney Rule

FLORHAM PARK, NJ - JANUARY 21: Head coach Todd Bowles of the New York Jets addresses the media during a press conference on January 21, 2015 in Florham Park, New Jersey. Bowles and General Manager Mike Maccagnan were both introduced. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images) Getty Images

Few would argue that the NFL’s Rooney Rule is a bad idea.

But numbers from recent hiring cycles shows that its implementation is still very flawed, and that the path to progress for many minority coaches is still blocked.

According to Mike Sando of ESPN.com, only one first-time minority head coach (Todd Bowles) has been hired in the last five offseasons, while 21 first-time white head coaches got jobs. And minority candidates aren’t even getting into the pipeline for the jobs that result in promotions, as 80 of the 85 offensive coordinators, quarterbacks coaches and offensive-quality-control coaches are white.

Overall, a third of NFL coaches are minorities, but if they’re in jobs that rarely considered for coordinator or head coach positions, it’s hard to see the progress.

“The good thing about the Rooney Rule was not that you had to interview a minority candidate but that it slowed the process down and made you do some research,” newly minted Hall of Famer Tony Dungy said. “But now it seems like in the last few years, people haven’t really done what the rule was designed for. It has become, ‘Just let me talk to a couple minority coaches very quickly so I can go about the business of hiring the person I really want to hire anyway.'”

The research shows that only three teams in the league — the Jets, Panthers and Steelers — have staffs with at least half minority coaches.

“Too frequently, we don’t look at leadership, we don’t look at getting the most out of people, we don’t look at bringing people together and staffs together — all those things that you need to be a head coach,” Dungy said. “It is an inexact science. It is done in an inexact way. Look how long it took Bruce Arians to get a head-coaching job; it is not just with minorities.

“But I think when you are a minority coach, you have even that added burden, or added handicap of not always being highly publicized. For owners who do not know what they are looking for, it is much easier to say, ‘Well, I’ll take Candidate A because at least everybody knows him and everybody will say this is a good hire.'”

Over the past few hiring cycles, a number of coaches have seemingly become the usual suspects, who get rounded up to satisfy Rooney Rule requirements. Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said he thought only two of his four interviews this offseason were legitimate, and he’s far from the only one who thinks that way.

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Dolphins still don’t know Dion Jordan’s status

Dion Jordan AP

A month ago, the agent for suspended Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan said he’d be reinstated by the start of training camp. But with camp starting in 10 days, the Dolphins still don’t know if that’s the case.

Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reports that the Dolphins still haven’t heard whether Jordan’s indefinite suspension will come to an end.

Jordan has failed three drug tests during his NFL career, but he said in May that he hasn’t used drugs in two years.

Heading into the 2013 NFL draft, the Dolphins liked Jordan so much that they traded their first-round pick and second-round pick to move up and draft him No. 3 overall. But he didn’t play particularly well as a rookie, was suspended for the first six games of 2014 and was suspended again in 2015. Now, according to a friend, Jordan is “a brand new Dion.” He’d better be, as he’s quickly running out of chances.

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Chips in footballs won’t measure PSI . . . yet

56359293 Getty Images

When news emerged over the weekend regarding the use of computer chips for determining the clearance within which field goals and extra points are being made, some suggested (sarcastically) that they chips should be used to monitor PSI levels in the footballs.

While that’s not yet happening, it could be. Via Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com, the technology exists. The league could monitor PSI in footballs if it wanted, in the same way cars monitor the air pressure in tires.

So why not do it? Thanks to #DeflateGate, the NFL finally learned that the same phenomenon that causes air pressure in tires to drop in cold weather applies to footballs. The NFL also surely learned last year, via PSI spot-checks in cold weather games, that games are played every year in sufficiently cold conditions to cause footballs to drop below 12.5 PSI while in use.

The zeal with which the league presumed guilt in New England and hired Ted Wells to clumsily work backward in an effort to prove it should compel the league to install pressure monitors that would alert the officials as to footballs that stray beyond the 12.5-to-13.5-PSI range. If having footballs outside of the accepted range represents a sufficient affront to the integrity of the game to compel serious punishment of a quarterback and his team, the league should be doing everything in its power to ensure that footballs will always remain within the accepted range.

NFL V.P. of football officiating Dean Blandino will join PFT Live on Tuesday morning at 8:35 a.m. ET. I’ll ask him about the intended use of chip technology and other issues of interest when it comes to officiating games.

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Healthy Arian Foster intends to show he’s still a Pro Bowler

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 08: Arian Foster #23 of the Houston Texans rushes against the Indianapolis Colts in the first quarter on October 8, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Running back Arian Foster never made it to Detroit for a workout. After showing the Dolphins what he can do, Foster has a new team.

After signing with the Dolphins on Monday, Foster discussed his decision in a conference call with reporters.

“I still feel like I’m a Pro Bowl-caliber player, and I intend to show it,” Foster said, adding that he is back to full health after tearing an Achilles tendon last year against the Dolphins in Week Four.

Foster had been targeting the Dolphins ever since he visited the team for a get-acquainted session earlier in the offseason.

“After my visit with Miami, I kind of already made my mind up that that’s where I wanted to be, so I was stressing to my agent that I wanted to get the deal done, because I see a lot of promise in this team, and I feel like I can add value and help the team get to where they want to be,” Foster said. “I’m going to try to do that as best as possible.”

He explained that he has no expectations regarding his role in a system that he saw as a natural fit.

“I think Adam [Gase] really knows how to use running backs out of the backfield, which I feel like is my best quality – route running and catching the ball out of the backfield,” Foster said. “I think he knows how to steer the ship. I’m just happy to be a part [of it and] have a seat on the boat now.”

The team and the circumstances attracted him, too.

A young and hungry team with a lot of talent on both sides of the ball,” Foster said. “I think they have the right head coach and the right people in the front office and they are all committed to winning. I know it sounds cliché but I believe they are headed in the right direction and I feel we can do some good things this year if everybody is moving in the right direction and we gel.”

They’ll move more quickly in that direction if Foster can play like he did in 2014, when he gained 1,246 yards in 13 games.

The end result is, essentially, a trade of Foster for former Dolphins running back Lamar Miller. Houston cut Foster before signing Miller, and the need for Foster in Miami emerged after Miller left.

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Isaiah Crowell attends funeral of slain Dallas police officer

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 18: Running back Isaiah Crowell #34 of the Cleveland Browns against the Denver Broncos at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 18, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. Broncos defeated Browns 26-23.  (Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images) Getty Images

Browns running back Isaiah Crowell, whose inflammatory social-media post depicting violence against police prompted a threat from the local law enforcement union to boycott his team’s game, continues to seek redemption and enlightenment in the wake of the incident.

According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Crowell attended the funeral of Patrick Zamarripa, one of the five officers killed in Dallas earlier this month. Sergeant Demetrick Pennie, the president of the Dallas Fallen Officers Foundation, spent eight hours with Crowell on Saturday.

“I am confident that the policing community now has a supporter in Mr. Crowell,” Pennie wrote on Facebook. “Personally, I would like to commend Isaiah Crowell for the courage of principled accountability.”

After Crowell’s apology for posting an image of a police officer’s throat being slashed, the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association demanded more. Crowell then promised to donate his first game check of the 2016 season to the Dallas Fallen Officers Foundation.

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Goodell: NFL moved on from Deflategate “quite a long time ago”

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Last week, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady announced he would give up his fight vs. the NFL and accept his four-game suspension for his role in the Deflategate saga.

Monday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t have much in the way of parting words regarding the drawn out battle.

Goodell was attending the New York premiere of the Gleason Movie, and Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post asked Goodell for his reaction to Brady accepting his suspension.

We moved on from that as a league quite a long time ago,” Goodell said.

Brady will be able to participate in training camp and the preseason. His suspension will begin Sept. 3 and his first game back will be Oct. 9 at the Browns. He and the NFLPA can still carry on the fight, but it appears Brady wants to serve the suspension and then move on.

The Gleason Movie, a documentary on former Saints safety Steve Gleason and his fight with ALS, debuted earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival. It will be released nationwide later this month.

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“Peanut” Tillman announces retirement

Charles Tillman AP

Cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman has called it a career after 13 NFL seasons.

Tillman, 35, played 12 seasons for the Bears. He played last season with the Panthers, starting 12 games.

An All-Pro in 2012, Tillman was a two-time Pro Bowler and had 38 career interceptions. He started 164 of 168 career games after being drafted by the Bears in the second round in 2003.

In 2013, Tillman was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.

I’ve had 13 amazing years on two great teams and I’m just thankful for the love and support that I got from my teammates, the fans and my coaches,” Tillman told ChicagoBears.com. “I’m thankful to everyone who has helped me get to where I am right now because I definitely didn’t do it by myself.”

Monday evening, Tillman posted “it’s been real” and a peace sign emoji on his Twitter account along with a link to an entertaining YouTube video entitled “Peanut Retires.”

You should watch it.

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Arian Foster signing with Dolphins

Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans Getty Images

Running back Arian Foster had a visit scheduled with the Lions after he met with the Dolphins on Monday, but they will have to look in another direction if they want veteran help in the backfield.

Foster’s agent Mike McCartney announced that his client agreed to a one-year deal with the Dolphins. Miami met with and/or offered contracts to several free agent backs early in the offseason, but never landed anyone that they could use as a complement to Jay Ajayi at tailback.

That left a spot open for Foster, who has been rehabbing the torn Achilles that ended his 2015 season with the Texans. It’s the latest in a series of injuries that have kept Foster off the field in recent years, although he was effective in 2014 when he was able to run for 1,246 yards and 4.8 yards per carry while playing 13 in games.

Ajayi has been the subject of a lot of praise this offseason, but Foster could offer a challenge for playing time if he’s both healthy and in form. If not, the second-year player will likely be seeing the lion’s share of the time in Miami’s backfield.

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Aqib Talib “back running and everything”

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  Aqib Talib #21 of the Denver Broncos warms up prior to playing in Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib was sidelined for the end of the team’s offseason work as a result of the gunshot wound he suffered in Dallas in early June, but he doesn’t expect to be on the shelf for the start of training camp.

Talib was at safety T.J. Ward’s golf tournament on Monday and Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post reports that the cornerback was moving without much of a limp in his first public appearance since the shooting. Talib says that he “feels great” and that he’s “back running and everything” with training camp about to start.

Talib said that he “should be” ready to roll when the Broncos hold their first camp practice on July 28. That may not preclude a short stay on the physically unable to perform list to make sure that all is well.

The circumstances of Talib’s shooting were still being investigated early this month with a report from Dallas police stating they were looking for an “unknown suspect” as Talib told them he didn’t know who shot him in the right leg.

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Marshall says Fitzpatrick has gone silent with start of camp looming

Brandon Marshall AP

Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall said over the weekend that his last few text messages to unsigned quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick have gone unanswered, and Marshall called that “scary” because he and Fitzpatrick usually talk “all the time.”

Two weeks from training camp, the Jets-Fitzpatrick staredown is still unresolved. Marshall appeared on actor Michael Rapaport’s podcast and talked about both Fitzpatrick’s situation and the Jets quietly beating last week’s deadline to get defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson signed to a long-term extension.

“I try to give support to the player, to Fitz, to Big Mo, understanding what they’re going through because I’ve been through it,” Marshall said.

Marshall said he doesn’t know if there’s any update on Fitzpatrick’s situation.

“To be honest, me and Fitz talk every day, all the time, but I texted him the last two weeks, three times, and there’s [been] no response,” Marshall said. “The only thing that he can do to make this right is to say he was on vacation, [he] was out of the country. It’s not like him. It’s scaring me right now. It’s scaring me that my guy hasn’t texted me back.”

Though Marshall isn’t afraid of a little drama, he’s also not been known to sugarcoat his feelings on any situation. Rapaport’s podcast can be accessed here.

All has been quiet on both sides of the Jets-Fitzpatrick situation, in part because Jets coach Todd Bowles said he was done talking about and in part because Bowles said that right before the Jets began their summer vacation.

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Washington’s plan for Kirk Cousins is simple: Keep him and look for someone else

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 26: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins looks on during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles on December 26, 2015 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

I don’t have much of a bucket list (other than to not kick the bucket for as long as possible), but if I had one, it possibly would have included “write Peter King’s MMQB column.” And it would now include this extra word: “Once.”

After six years of spending every regular-season Sunday with King, I knew how much work he put into it. But I didn’t really know it until I had to do it. Over the weekend, I did it. And you can read it right here.

If you do, you’ll see a blurb reconciling Washington’s willingness to pay quarterback Kirk Cousins $19.95 million for one year but unwillingness to offer more than $24 million on a long-term team. Put simply, G.M. Scot McCloughan believes he can find a comparable quarterback who will be much cheaper than Cousins, at some point in the next year or two.

Cousins, per multiple sources, wanted $44 million fully guaranteed at signing. That’s how much he’d make under the tag this year and next year, factoring in the 20-percent raise for the second tag. For Washington, it makes much more send to break a $44 million dollar decision into two decisions.

There’s still plenty of risk in that approach. If Cousins thrives again, he’ll want $58 million guaranteed at signing in 2017 on a long-term deal, since he’d be entitled to a 44-percent raise if the tag is applied a third time. Of course, Washington could simply roll the dice again, signing Cousins to a long-term deal in 2018 if he plays well for what would be a third straight season.

At some point, the market will set the player’s value. Washington could have let the market set his value this year, and it’s possible no one else would have offered as much or more than $16 million per year plus $24 million guaranteed. The team chose instead to continue with Cousin for one more year, and then to reassess the situation after the season.

If, by then, Washington believes it has a Plan B that would cost considerably less than $24 million for one more year or $58 million fully-guaranteed on a long-term deal, the team will be inclined to let Cousins hit the open market and, possibly, the road.

Either way, the team wants more of a sample size before making anything other than a Band-Aid commitment. For Cousins, the good news is that he’ll be able to buy a whole bunch of Band-Aids this year.

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League tells officials to err on the side of calling “bang-bang” passes incomplete

dez-pbp-catch-gb Getty Images

Whenever I think I finally understand it, I realize that I don’t. Which summarizes my own personal relationship with the catch rule over the past several years. And pretty much everyone else’s.

Recent changes to the rule book seem to reinforce the notion, as suggested by a key (but largely overlooked) ruling in the NFC playoff game between the Packers and Cardinals, that the NFL wants game officials to call a catch a catch if it looks like a catch. Applying the replay standard to the very specific language of the revised rule, it becomes much harder to find “indisputable visual evidence” that the receiver didn’t have the ball long enough to do the various things that he needs to have time to do.

Then came Friday, when NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino sent arguably the opposite message.

“When it’s bang-bang, rule it incomplete,” Blandino told the league’s 124 game officials at an annual preseason clinic in Dallas, via Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com. “When in doubt, make it incomplete.”

Blandino’s advice to err on the side of calling a pass incomplete flows from his confidence that the ruling can be fixed via replay review, if there’s indisputable visual evidence that the player actually had the ball long enough.

“[I]f we look at it on replay and it did appear the receiver had it long enough, then we change it and move on,” Blandino said. “Don’t change how you’re officiating these plays. Bang-bang is incomplete, and the time element allows us to be consistent on these bang-bang plays.”

So maybe there’s a way to harmonize this. Maybe a true bang-bang play should be called incomplete, if the player loses the ball immediately after the second foot comes down. And maybe that handful of plays every year involving players getting two feet down (and maybe a third, e.g., #DezCaughtIt) while going to the ground but not keeping control of the ball — plays in which the expectations of players, owners, coaches, fans, and media conflict with the ruling on the field and in the replay booth — will now result in a decision that the ball was caught, with the replay standard (if applied correctly) unable to overturn the ruling.

Or maybe not.

“There are going to be four or five plays like this every year where everybody says, ‘That’s got to be a catch. It looks like a catch,'” Blandino said. “On the playground, that’s a catch. In the school yard, that’s a catch. But it’s not under our rule, because he did not have the ball long enough to be a runner before he got to the ground.”

So instead of giving the people what they want (and, in turn, setting the stage for more catches, yards, and touchdowns), the NFL will continue to defy the expectations of its stakeholders and customers. Which will set the stage for more controversy and criticism and scrutiny.

There’s still hope. Maybe some officials, fully aware of how hard it will be to overturn the ruling on the field given the new language to the rule, will decide that they’re going to call it a catch if they think it looks like a catch.

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Report: Bills targeting Reggie Bush

SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Reggie Bush #23 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes past Andrew Sendejo #34 of the Minnesota Vikings during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on September 14, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills got a double dose of bad news in their offensive backfield last week.

Karlos Williams was suspended four games for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy on Friday, which was a day after rookie Jonathan Williams was arrested for DUI in Arkansas. That could lead to a suspension for the younger Williams and the dual issues (plus Karlos Williams’ conditioning issues this offseason) appears to have the Bills questioning how much they can rely on the duo.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the Bills are “have targeted” veteran free agent Reggie Bush to help fill out a depth chart that also has LeSean McCoy and Mike Gillislee on it. Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports calls Bush the “favorite” to land in Buffalo, although Rapoport adds that Bush is weighing his options at the moment.

Bush tore his ACL while playing with the 49ers last season, which was the latest in a series of injuries that he’s dealt with during a career that’s also seen him spend time in New Orleans, Miami and Detroit. Bush said last month that he feels healthy and doesn’t think he’s lost a step, something he may get to prove in Buffalo once camp starts later this month.

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