Tom Brady has said almost nothing publicly since Ted Wells' deflate-gate report was released, unless you count his words from an NFL appeal transcript.

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Late Friday night, Brady finally broke his silence with a statement on his Facebook page. In it, he doesn't go into any details of the case (though, that was documented extensively in the appeal transcript) but he says he's sorry the entire ordeal happened, and says everyone involved "lost" to a large degree:

"The regular season starts tomorrow morning and I can’t wait to fully commit my energy and emotion to focus on the challenges of the 2015 NFL season. I want to thank my family, my friends, all of the fans, past and current players and my teammates for the support they have given me throughout this challenging experience.

"I also want to thank Judge Berman and his staff for their efforts to resolve this matter over the past five weeks. I am very grateful. My thanks also to the union's legal team who has fought so hard right along with me. While I am pleased to be eligible to play, I am sorry our league had to endure this. I don’t think it has been good for our sport - to a large degree, we have all lost. I am also sorry to anyone whose feelings I may have hurt as I have tried to work to resolve this situation.

"I love the NFL. It is a privilege to be a member of the NFL community and I will always try to do my best in representing my team and the league in a way that would make all members of this community proud. I look forward to the competition on the playing field and I hope the attention of NFL fans can return to where it belongs - on the many great players and coaches who work so hard every week, and sacrifice so much, to make this game great. Most importantly, I look forward to representing the New England Patriots on Thursday night in our season opener. I hope to make all of our fans proud this year … and beyond!"

The whole debacle wasn't good for anyone, not for Brady having to deal with this coming off another Super Bowl win and not for the league which was embarrassed when all of its efforts to over-punish one of the league's greatest players led to a high-profile loss in federal court.

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Although the NFL chose to appeal, and that might last well into 2016, it seems like Brady is ready to put the focus on football. Wouldn't that be nice.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: September 5, 2015, 2:43 am

One question, as we pondered if quarterback Tim Tebow would make the Philadelphia Eagles, was how he would make the team being stuck behind No. 3 quarterback Matt Barkley?

That hurdle has been cleared. Barkley has been traded for a late-round conditional pick to the Arizona Cardinals. Fox Sports' Jay Glazer reported that news first.

Now the question is if Tebow will make it as the third quarterback, or the Eagles will go with two (or acquire another quarterback, perhaps). But the Barkley trade certainly has to be viewed as good news for Tebow's chances.

Tebow has played well at times this preseason and finished well in the fourth preseason game against the New York Jets. It has been speculated that he could be a two-point conversion specialist, and Eagles coach Chip Kelly used him in that role early in the third preseason game.

If Tebow does make it, it would be a remarkable story. He was cut by the New England Patriots at the end of the 2013 preseason. He was a free agent for a long time before the Patriots signed him, and spent the 2013 regular season out of football. He joined ESPN's SEC Network and it looked like his football career was over. The Eagles, with a coach who thinks differently about a lot of things, gave him a shot this year. Tebow played a significant amount through the preseason and Kelly defended mistakes he seemed to make. Reports indicated the Eagles wanted to keep Tebow on the roster. The news seemed positive on Tebow, it was just hard to figure out if they would keep him instead of Barkley, though Barkley played ahead of him all preseason.

Without Barkley around anymore, Tebow's chances of making the roster and completing a really fun story got a lot better.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: September 4, 2015, 8:13 pm

With the preseason over, each team needs to cut down to 53 players by Saturday afternoon, but many teams started the process Friday.

Among the notable names who were reportedly cut on Friday include San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Darnell Dockett, Buffalo Bills pass rusher IK Enemkpali, New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford, Houston Texans defensive tackle Louis Nix, Philadelphia Eagles guard John Moffitt and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Da'Quan Bowers and kicker Connor Barth.

Dockett is a three-time Pro Bowler who never missed a game his first 10 seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. Then he missed 2014 with a knee injury, signed with the 49ers but couldn't crack the roster according to Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area

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Enemkpali became infamous for punching New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith this preseason and breaking his jaw. His old Jets coach Rex Ryan picked him up in Buffalo, but he was unable to make the team. 

The Giants decided to swap out punters. Weatherford (known for being in insanely good shape) was let go. To replace him the team sent a conditional seventh-round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for punter Brad Wing, ESPN reported.

Nix's release is another sign that the Texans' 2014 draft could be historically bad unless Jadeveon Clowney gets healthy and saves it. Nix was a third-round pick and he's already gone. The team, which needs a quarterback, somehow didn't land Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr in the 2014 draft. The Texans passed on Carr to pick guard Xavier Su'a-Filo in the second round. Su'a-Filo started one game as a rookie.

Moffitt was an interesting preseason story. He abruptly retired in 2013, then battled drug and alcohol issues before attempting a comeback with the Eagles. CSN Philly and other outlets reported he was released.

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The Buccaneers cut Bowers, a high-profile second-round pick in 2011 who finishes his Buccaneers career with seven sacks. Rookie Kyle Brindza will be the Buccaneers' kicker after they cut Barth, according to Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: September 4, 2015, 7:52 pm

In the wake of the NFL's big loss in court to Tom Brady, some NFL owners might be open to a change in commissioner Roger Goodell's role in handling player discipline.

According to the Washington Post, one NFL owner said that “there will certainly be discussion" about whether Goodell should retain final say on disciplinary matters, or if some of his power could be reduced, but added that he's "not sure where [that discussion] will lead."

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Keeping the status quo could lead the NFL back to court in other cases, with players and the NFLPA emboldened by Thursday's ruling in favor of Brady. Keeping these matters out of court, it would appear based on the league's recent record in cases against the union, might be the best way for the NFL to save face and avoid massive public defeats.

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank already came out following the Brady ruling to admit that "change may be appropriate" in terms of Goodell's disciplinary reach, which sounds less like a concession to the union and more like an owner that hates the league suffering a major loss.

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As things stand now, Goodell is enacted the power under the CBA to hear cases and resolve appeals related to integrity-of-the-game matters and those aligned with violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. But now Goodell and the league have lost cases on both front, as with Brady/deflate-gate in the former and the cases of Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and Greg Hardy to the latter.

Will owners en masse be open to change? Will Goodell and the NFL, which is appealing the Brady ruling, remit to an altered structure? That's unclear, but it does sound as if those matters will be discussed — perhaps as early as the league's fall meeting with the owners Oct. 6 and 7 in New York City. And perhaps it leads to a better disciplinary system where matters are resolved before an independent chair and not all the way in court.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: September 4, 2015, 7:31 pm

What a week to be a Washington Redskins fan! You've got the onetime-franchise-savior-turned-benched-QB disrespecting the owner on Instagram! You've got the wife of the general manager making lurid allegations on Twitter! And now, you've got yet another social media misfire!

Like many other teams, the Redskins have been counting down the days until kickoff with the uniform numbers of their team members. Well, we've reached the 10-day countdown point, and yet, look what happened:

Redskins countdown to kickoff hit a snag when it reached 10 days pic.twitter.com/UiDswQgE8c

— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) September 4, 2015

That's tackle Trent Williams, Number 71 in your program and Number 10 on your countdown. But wait! The Redskins have a number 10! Why didn't they use -

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) throws under pressure from New York Giants defensive end Damontre Moore (98) during the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Oh. Right. That guy.

Yeah, for whatever reason, the Redskins decided not to use Griffin as the face of their "10 days till kickoff" tweet. Let the conspiracy theories begin!

Oh, and the Redskins also don't let non-season-ticket-holders use Will Call. Because, you know, heaven forbid they make the game-day experience easier on casual fans.

So, yeah, if any other teams would like to expand their own fan base, the Redskins fans could probably use a little love right about now.

____
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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: September 4, 2015, 3:15 pm

Rivalries have a way of making people say bold things. Even the decidedly un-bold Mike McCarthy.

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At the Green Bay Packers' annual Welcome Back Luncheon this week, McCarthy — who is not Rex Ryan, mind you, by any stretch of the imagination — went way out of character when setting up the 2015 season. Check out what he said at the end of this clip about his Week 1 opponent, the Chicago Bears.

@paytonsun @CLTVSportsFeed pic.twitter.com/kDcz7ntyfn

— Will Dudley (@ThaRealD_Will) September 3, 2015

Hey, that's fun. We like this. If you know McCarthy and his reputation for sleepy press conference, and you hear him somewhat stumble through the first part of the above clip, it's fairly shocking to hear him drop that smack talk — even against the hated Bears.

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You go, Coach. 

There always will be the "don't provide the bulletin board material" crowd, but, yeah ... this might be the time to do it. The Bears don't appear too strong right now. And the rivalry has been pretty one-sided of late, with the Packers winning 11 of the past 13 matchups (including the NFC title game in 2010) dating back to the 2009 season.

So McCarthy can back it up, we think.

(h/t Cheesehead.tv)

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: September 4, 2015, 3:13 pm

Despite angry teleconferences in which he argued vehemently otherwise, as deflate-gate went on it became clear that Ted Wells was far from the independent investigator the NFL wanted everyone to believe he was.

This wasn't Wells' first project with the NFL, and Tom Brady wasn't the first NFL person to feel wronged by one of his reports.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Dave Hyde wrote a column that is particularly intriguing after Brady saw his four-game suspension overturned in federal court. Former Dolphins trainer Kevin O'Neill was fired in the wake of the Wells report on the bullying scandal in the locker room that involved Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito. He says it's because he refused to answer questions about players' medical histories after being asked to illegally turn over their records. 

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The column says O'Neill was asked to give players' medical records to Wells' team, but he said Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) forms were not signed by the players. O'Neill knew Wells had the medical records anyway when he started asking specific questions about medical history during O'Neill's interview, the Sun-Sentinel said

"I said, 'You guys are attorneys, you shouldn't be asking me about this, and I can't answer it without proper documentation,'" O'Neill told the Sun-Sentinel.

O'Neill cut off the interview there, Hyde wrote. Wells said in his report that O'Neill didn't cooperate (that sounds familiar, doesn't it?). O'Neill was fired. He won an award as NFL's trainer of the year two days later.

O'Neill also told Hyde that key information wasn't included in the report (that sounds familiar, doesn't it?) such as Martin allegedly punching an assistant trainer and Martin's medical history not being given much weight in the report. Martin recently admitted to suicide attempts.

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O'Neill sued. The Sun-Sentinel reported that a Palm Beach County judge ruled that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell "can appoint an arbitrator to rule on O'Neill's lawsuit against the Dolphins, owner Steve Ross and coach Joe Philbin." O'Neill is considering his next legal move. Former Dolphins offensive line coach Jim Turner, also fired in the aftermath of Wells' report, re-filed a defamation lawsuit against Wells and his law firm this week, the Sun-Sentinel said.

O'Neill hasn't been able to get another athletic training job for 18 months, he said.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: September 4, 2015, 2:18 pm

As we learned from Kent Babb's profile of Roger Goodell on Thursday, there has reportedly been "universal support" from NFL owners for the commissioner — including New England Patriots czar Robert Kraft — despite the league's bungling of deflate-gate. But the shield might be starting to crack.

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In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank suggested it might be time to reconsider the amount of power given to Goodell in the collective bargaining agreement.

“This deflate-gate thing, which isn’t about deflate-gate any longer — it’s about what has been collectively negotiated for decades in terms of the commissioner’s responsibility in terms of disciplining players,” Blank said. “If we have to look at that differently in today’s light, in today’s environment, as an ownership group we should be prepared to do that. The commissioner should be prepared to do that.”

 

So, while Blank isn't calling for Goodell's job in the wake of Judge Richard M. Berman's decision to vacate Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's four-game suspension, he does suggest the NFL might consider negotiating a new agreement with the players' association before the current CBA expires in 2020. 

“I would have rather have seen it end with a positive ruling for the NFL,” Blank said. “I understand why the commissioner and the league feel as strongly as it does about trying to protect the rights that for decades have been collectively bargained. I think that is important.

“I don’t think they should be re-bargained in a federal court. Having said that, I think the commissioner and the ownership around the league have to be prepared to look at things, look at change and change may be appropriate.”

 Article 46, which allows the commissioner to dole out punishments and oversee the appeal process — and which was at the heart of Berman's ruling against the NFL on Thursday — has existed since the league and its players' association first collectively bargained in 1968. Times have changed.

At the very least, the NFL must find better ways to compromise with players before courts get involved, Blank told the AJC, if only to avoid the recent series of losses the league has suffered in front of judges.

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“It’s not healthy for the NFL to be in the kind of litigious position that it’s been for the last several years,” Blank said. “I think that the commissioner is working hard to hold up the respect and integrity of the game, the competitive balance of the game and the shield. Having said that, I think we have to find ways to get to a better place sooner with the NFLPA than the process that we’ve gone through.”

For the record, if the owners ultimately did want to remove Goodell from power, it would cost a whopping $150 million to buy out his contract, which runs through 2019, according to ESPN's Darren Rovell. In other words, there may be more to Goodell's support from owners than simply how he's performed.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: September 4, 2015, 1:24 pm

AP Photo/AJ MastThree fans were injured when a bolt fell from the ceiling of Indianapolis's Lucas Oil Stadium during Thursday night's preseason game between the Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Just before halftime, the stadium's opening roof sheared off a bolt, described by fans as about the size of half a roll of quarters. The bolt fell into the stadium's Section 248 and ricocheted around the fans in the area.

Two people, one female and one male, were taken to a nearby hospital for observation. A third fan was treated at the stadium. None of the injuries were life-threatening, per stadium officials on the scene.

Parts falling from stadium ceilings are rare, but almost always a threat because of the distance and speed involved. Last year, a piece of metal fell from the ceiling of Indiana University's Assembly Hall onto seats prior to a game. In 1994, the Seahawks had to move several games from the Kingdome after large chunks of the ceiling collapsed. Also last year, an entire roof collapsed during a badminton match in Vietnam; somehow no one was injured by this:

(Remember, this is NOT Lucas Oil Stadium.)

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: September 4, 2015, 12:39 pm

While it's an exercise in futility now, the New England Patriots apparently had big plans for Thursday's opening night festivities had quarterback Tom Brady remained suspended by the NFL for Week 1.

Rather than unveil a fourth Super Bowl banner in the absence of the face of their franchise, the Patriots were prepared to raise a Brady banner in Gillette Stadium prior to their home opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, team president Jonathan Kraft told Boston's 98.5 The Sports Hub on Thursday.

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The banner featured Brady's No. 12, Kraft said. "And there may have been some other things that were on the banner," he added. "It was much more factual and substantive than that. Tom may have been a three-time Super Bowl MVP and a four-time Super Bowl winner, and that may have been a part of it too."

#OnTo2015 pic.twitter.com/WCUjZ3BXua

— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 3, 2015

Presumably, the 2014 banner would've been unveiled alongside the ones from 2001, 2003 and 2004 when Brady returned to action. Following Judge Richard M. Berman's decision to vacate the two-time NFL MVP's four-game suspension, however, the Patriots will now raise it on Thursday night.

Unfortunately, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell won't be there to see it. And there's the thing. While this banner bit is a moot point with Brady now scheduled to take the field against the Steelers, the fact the Patriots planned this surprise, which likely would've been broadcast on national TV, offers further insight into how the team views the league office at this point. Let's just say they're not happy, even if Kraft also conceded that New England has no plans to appeal its $1 million fine and loss of draft picks.

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The unveiling of a Brady banner would've been the equivalent of a middle finger made out of cloth.

As for Kraft's reaction to Brady's ruling, that wasn't suitable for children, either. The Patriots president was on a conference call when he heard the news. "I yelled out an expletive and told the people on the phone goodbye," he said, "and we started from there."

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: September 4, 2015, 12:12 pm

The Philadelphia Eagles made a huge trade this offseason to acquire a big-name player coming off an ACL surgery.

Oh, and then they traded for quarterback Sam Bradford, too.

Don't forget inside linebacker Kiko Alonso, who came over to Philadelphia in the controversial LeSean McCoy trade with the Buffalo Bills. Alonso was fantastic in 2013, then tore his ACL last offseason. He hadn't played a game since the end of the 2013 season  he missed Philadelphia's first three preseason games so Thursday night's debut was a big step for him.

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Alonso looked pretty good. He played one drive and moved well. Officially he was credited with two tackles but was around the ball on many plays. Not wanting to push things, Alonso didn't play after that first series in a game the New York Jets won 24-18. Alonso had dealt with tendinitis in his surgically repaired knee this preseason. 

Alonso is a big part of the Eagles' defense this year (he better be, considering what the team gave up to get him). On a night where most of the players who actually appeared in NFL preseason games were those fighting to grab one of the final few roster spots or make an impression to get on the practice squad, Alonso's long-awaited debut was a big moment for Philadelphia.

Perhaps the New England Patriots' preseason TV station should have just cut away from the game and showed analysts speaking about Tom Brady.

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That talk dominated the broadcast, including a few minutes early in the game when studio analysts talked about Brady on a split screen while the action took place on the field. And it made sense; there was no bigger news in the NFL recently than Brady having his four-game suspension vacated. I mean, even Bill Belichick was really fired up!

Steve Burton to BB "How excited are you to have #12 under center on opening day"Belichick: "Good"

— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) September 4, 2015

The Patriots still had some things to iron out in the preseason finale, which the New York Giants won 12-9, though they rested so many players that even Jimmy Garoppolo didn't start at quarterback and the broadcasters said Brady, receiver Brandon LaFell and some other starters were sent home during the game to rest (h/t to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe).

Ryan Wendell started at center, making his preseason debut. He started camp on the PUP list. That's a good sign. Running back LeGarrette Blount started, which was a little odd, but remember that he'll be sitting out Week 1 due to suspension. He had four carries for 5 yards. Veteran receiver Reggie Wayne, still getting up to speed with his new team, played too. He had a couple of catches for 24 yards.

Obviously none of that was the main headline for the Patriots on Thursday, but New England seems ready for the season to start. Especially with the quarterback situation settled.

 

Atlanta Falcons rookie running back Tevin Coleman hadn't done much before the fourth preseason game to earn early-season playing time.

Then Coleman, the explosive third-round pick out of Indiana, made a nice final impression on Thursday night in a 20-19 win over the Baltimore Ravens. On the first drive, Coleman had 56 yards on eight carries.

On his first carry he hit the hole hard off right tackle for 5 yards. Then he ran wide left, around the end and used his speed to pick up 15 yards. On his third carry he started left, then cut back and went wide right for 26. He might not be able to beat starting defenses to the edge that easily once the regular season starts, but it was nice to see his speed in action after he missed a lot of the preseason and training camp with injuries. 

Through the offseason, reports said Devonta Freeman had a big edge to be the Falcons' starter. Freeman missed the entire preseason with a hamstring injury, though he's supposed to be ready to go by Week 1. It will be interesting to see if Thursday's performance helps Coleman get some extra playing time.

Packers 38, Saints 10: We won't see Green Bay Packers rookie quarterback Brett Hundley again for a while, maybe until next August, but he had a pretty successful preseason. Hundley, the former UCLA star, went 16-of-23 for 236 yards and four touchdowns after coming in for Scott Tolzien, who started. On a 77-yard touchdown to Larry Pinkard, Hundley made a nice, strong timing pass and Pinkard took it the rest of the way for the score.

Bengals 9, Colts 6: It was not a good night for Colts running backs. Josh Robinson suffered what might be a concussion, Vick Ballard left the game with a hamstring injury and Dan Herron suffered a shoulder injury. Ballard probably needed a good night to make the roster, and that seems unlikely now. Depending on the extent of the injuries, the Colts might be hurting for depth at tailback. And, no, they're probably not giving Trent Richardson's agent a call.

Buccaneers 22, Dolphins 17: Remember when Jay Ajayi was a big name before the draft? Well he fell to the fifth-round and has been mostly forgotten about since then. He did play well on Thursday night. He had 66 yards on nine carries including a 22-yard run. He can provide the Dolphins some depth this season.

Lions 17, Bills 10: Lions quarterback Kellen Moore, the former Boise State star, pops up every preseason. He had a solid preseason finale, going 16-of-22 for 150 yards and a touchdown as he tries to earn a roster spot again.

Panthers 23, Steelers 6: Rookie Panthers running back Cameron Artis-Payne could be one Jonathan Stewart injury away from playing a major role for Carolina. He has looked good this preseason and had 67 yards on 12 carries in the preseason finale.

Jaguars 17, Redskins 16: Washington passed over Colt McCoy for Kirk Cousins when they benched Robert Griffin III, even though McCoy looked OK in limited action last season. McCoy played decently against the Jaguars. He completed 22-of-33 for 208 yards and a touchdown.

Bears 24, Browns 0: Most reports out of Chicago indicated running back Ka'Deem Carey, the former All-American at the University of Arizona, was on the roster bubble. He might have saved his job, getting 68 yards on 12 carries. 

Cowboys 21, Texans 14: Houston somehow didn't land Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr in the 2014 draft, but did pick quarterback Tom Savage. Savage made such an impression the team signed Brian Hoyer this offseason. Savage was given the chance to play the entire finale, and had mixed results before he left the game with an injury. He went 18-of-30 for 135 yards, not even cracking 5 yards per attempt. He did throw two touchdowns though. Savage was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter after a hard hit left him clutching his right shoulder.

Chiefs 24, Rams 17: It's not a great sign if you're playing a decent amount in the fourth preseason game, but 2013 No. 8 overall pick Tavon Austin did for the Rams. And he made something happen on one of his three touches, picking up 43 yards on a catch.

Titans 24, Vikings 17: Marcus Mariota gave us one more highlight before the preseason was over. Mariota was patient, as he was well protected, waited for Harry Douglas to clear on a crossing pattern and then hit him in stride. Douglas did the rest, outrunning the defense for a 59-yard touchdown. Mariota had a promising preseason, and now we can see how he looks when the games count.

Cardinals 22, Broncos 20: Chris Johnson made his Cardinals preseason debut and made a good impression. Johnson had 45 yards on 11 carries.

Seahawks 31, Raiders 21: Rookie Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett continues to impress. He got behind the defense and made a 63-yard touchdown look easy. He has incredible speed. He'll make an impact on special teams as a dynamic returner and could be a nice weapon in the passing game too.

49ers 14, Chargers 12: 49ers receiver Bruce Ellington, who didn't do much as a rookie last season, had a big play on Thursday. He caught a 70-yard touchdown in the first half.

• During the Packers-Saints game, Aaron Rodgers did a sideline interview with the Packers TV network, and was asked about Brady. He had a pretty interesting answer.

"I think it’s a good day for the players," Rodgers, the NFL's reigning MVP, said. "Anytime we can get one of our own back, that’s a good win for us. I think there’s maybe too much of the absolute power that, frankly, the players, we had a chance in 2011 to really make a difference in the CBA and we didn’t. We left the commissioner in charge of a lot of those things. But our union has done a good job of appealing and helping our guys out."

• In the fourth quarter of the Eagles-Jets game, the referee was taken off the field and replaced by the side judge. The announcers explained that around the NFL, the officials were practicing working with a six-man crew in case that situation ever happens during the regular season. 

• Saints receiver Brandon Coleman has gotten a lot of buzz this month, and he finished the preseason well. He had four catches for 82 yards. He's a huge 6-6, 225-pound target in an offense with Drew Brees, one of the best quarterbacks ever. He could have a nice breakout. 

• Terrelle Pryor, who had been kept out of the first three preseason games with a strained hamstring, played in the finale for the Browns. The quarterback-turned-receiver had two touches, both rushing attempts for 9 yards. The Browns face a tough choice of whether to keep him on the roster. 

Speaking of it being bad to be playing in the fourth preseason game, Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball was playing in the fourth quarter on Thursday. Ball, a 2013 second-round pick who was selected ahead of Eddie Lacy, lost the backup spot to Ronnie Hillman earlier this preseason. He struggled against Arizona, getting 27 yards on 16 carries. It looks like he's on the roster bubble, at best, in Denver.

• Finally, Matt Simms made a play that sums up the entire fourth preseason week in the NFL. Who is he throwing to? Nobody knows! Until next preseason ... 

 

 

 

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: September 4, 2015, 4:22 am

Playing too little or too much in the fourth preseason game can be a bad sign for a player trying to make an NFL roster. But in the case of Tim Tebow, a strong effort Thursday night against the New York Jets might mean that Tebow could make the Philadelphia Eagles' Week 1 roster.

All signs and reports had pointed toward Chip Kelly keeping Tebow, but nothing is ever clear with Kelly, who said this would be a "big week" for Tebow. If that's the case, he made the most of it, completing 11-of-17 passes — including some nice touch throws — for 189 yards with two touchdowns and a pick.

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Tebow, in a battle with Matt Barkley for the Eagles' third QB spot (if they keep three) behind Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez, watched Barkley start the game but struggle. His second pass of the game was picked off, and though Barkley led a field-goal drive on his next chance, he finished an unimpressive 4-of-9 passing for 45 yards with that one INT.

On the third and fourth series, Tebow moved the ball a little but ended both drives with punts. But he got the Eagles moving right before the half — against Jets second- and third-stringers, yes — and strung together big plays, taking over on his own 15-yard line with 1:49 remaining. Shaking loose from a sack to run for 17 yards. Passes for 28 and 23 yards. And after taking a sack, Tebow hit Rasheed Bailey for his first TD pass of the preseason.

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Taking over again in the fourth quarter, Tebow had a rough series after completing a pretty 45-yard touch pass, incurring a false start, getting called for intentional grounding and getting picked inside the Jets' red zone.

But he atoned on his final possession, leading a nine-play, 45-yard TD drive capped by a 9-yard pass to Freddie Martino.

Tebow was 2-of-2 passing and had two rushes for 14 yards on the drive.

Overall, he has looked decent this preseason. Throw in some decent training-camp performances, which earned some praise from Kelly, and Tebow looks like he has a good chance to make the team and perhaps even carve out a role as a specialist. Bradford is the starter and Sanchez is the backup. Is Tebow the third? We shall see. But Thursday helped his solid cause.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: September 4, 2015, 2:56 am

Damien Woody knows Rex Ryan pretty well. The former New York Jets right tackle played the final two years of his NFL career under the man who is now the head coach of the Buffalo Bills.

And Woody doesn't expect Ryan to change his larger-than-life ways with his new team.

(Graphic by Amber Matsumoto)During his six years in New York, Ryan's Jets were long on controversy (player arrests, the Ines Sainz harassment issue, his foot fetish video) and short on actual success (AFC championship game appearances his first two years followed by four straight seasons without the playoffs). But Ryan was always the consummate players' coach, sometimes to a fault. 

His ship was often loosey-goosey in nature and the criticism from outside (and sometimes from within) was that the inmates ran the asylum. There seemed to be a lack of discipline in recent years, something that mirrored Ryan's own penchant for being a free-flowing personality and a vortex for all conventional norms. 

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"When I was there, we had a veteran-laden team. We had a great locker room, guys who were professionals. Guys who understood how to come to work, do the things you're supposed to do. So I didn't see those type of things," Woody told Yahoo Sports. "As the years went on, the locker room changed  and a lot of younger guys came in.  

"Rex is more of a players coach. His approach is that 'I'm going to treat you like men until proven otherwise.' He's not a disciplinarian coach like that, it's not him." 

Woody is now retired and working for ESPN as one of their army of NFL analysts. He also is involved with Citi Kids, an educational and motivational community-based initiative for New York City middle and high school students. He spoke to 140 students early in August about his own upbringing prior to a New York Mets game.

As for Woody's old coach Ryan, his legacy of being a players' coach is continuing with his rebuilding job in Buffalo. The team's latest personnel move points towards a repeat in history. 

The Jets had just waived IK Enemkpali after the linebacker had punched quarterback Geno Smith, breaking his jaw. Ryan had drafted Enemkpali in the sixth round last year, his final draft with the Jets. He had done so knowing that Enemkpali already had a major red flag on his resume, an incident while in college in which he punched an off-duty police officer. 

And despite the latest incident with Smith, Ryan still rolled the dice and signed Enemkpali. It is Ryan's belief that he can get through to every player, no matter the baggage and what is (or is not) going on between his ears. 

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It played out time and time again with the Jets, creating a locker room that led former running back LaDainian Tomlinson to say was “as bad as I’ve ever been around.” For better or worse, Ryan is going to go about things in a similar way with the Bills.

"We could sit here and say maybe Rex should have changed but that is who Rex is. One thing he always said is that he'll stay true to who he is. Unfortunately, things came to a head and he and the Jets had to part ways," Woody said. 

"I'm sure Rex is going to tweak things in Buffalo, things he didn't do in New York, but I think he's also going to keep being Rex, keep being who he is."

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Kristian R. Dyer writes for Metro New York and is a contributor to Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KristianRDyer. Email him at kristianrdyer@yahoo.com

Author: Kristian Dyer
Posted: September 3, 2015, 9:36 pm

Sorry, grave-dancing New England Patriots fans. Roger Goodell isn't going anywhere.

Yes, Tom Brady won his case against the NFL (pending appeal, of course, because of course) and likely will remain suspension-free for the duration of the 2015 NFL season.

And yes, one might argue that Goodell, the grand poobah of the league, comes out of this decision — again, pending appeal, which the NFL could win — looking worse.

But that won't affect Goodell's job status, at least not in and of itself. Goodell is, among other things, a very well-compensated puppet. Oh sure, he appears to have gone rogue on some things, and there's little doubt his iron-fist campaign was a big reason how he won the job (running as the "different from Paul Tagliabue" candidate) and how he's carried out his first nine seasons on the job.

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The league's owners pay Goodell's massive salary and control his fate. As long as the league makes big money, he likely stays. But what about the legal counsel Goodell has been getting? The league has spent a lot of time in court in recent years going head to head against the NFLPA and hasn't fared too well. With each successive case — from StarCaps to Ray Rice/Greg Hardy/Adrian Peterson last year to deflate-gate now — it reflects just as poorly on the NFL's legal team as anyone else.

It starts with NFL executive vice president and general counsel Jeff Pash. He's Goodell's legal consigliere, and though there is a kitchen cabinet of lawyers and all their billable hours behind Pash, he's the guy closest to Goodell's ear. Pash and Adolpho Birch, the NFL's vice president of labor policy and government affairs, also became key figures for blame in the mishandling of the Rice debacle.

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It was Pash and/or his minions who urged the NFL to file this case in federal court against Brady, and also do so in the home court so to speak. Losing in the shadows of 345 Park Avenue, and doing so with Judge Richard M. Berman question Pash's role in the investigation (he was allowed a final edit and review of "independent" investigator Ted Wells' report) and his inavailability (Pash was not made available for the hearing, which appeared to irritate Berman) is a significant blow to him personally.

“Denied the opportunity to examine Pash at the arbitral hearing, Brady was prejudiced,” Judge Berman wrote in his decision. “He was foreclosed from exploring, among other things, whether the Pash/Wells Investigation was truly ‘independent,’ and how and why the NFL’s General Counsel came to edit a supposedly independent investigation report.
“Brady was also prejudiced because there was no other witness, apart from Pash, who was ‘as competent to address the substantive core of the claim.’ ”
Remember when Patriots owner Robert Kraft was said to be irate with Goodell after the initial fine, suspension and revocation fo draft picks was handed down? Perhaps initially Kraft was. But they talked it out, and — working theory here — Goodell might have told Kraft, Hey, Robert, I know you're pissed, but I'm being asked to protect The Shield and the entire league here ... and besides, Jeff Pash thought it was a good idea.

Now read Kraft's statement after the Brady reversal. Check out whose name isn't mentioned but whose appears to be firmly implied (bold emphasis added):

"As I have said during this process and throughout his Patriots career, Tom Brady is a classy person of the highest integrity. He represents everything that is great about this game and this league. Yet, with absolutely no evidence of any actions of wrongdoing by Tom in the Wells report, the lawyers at the league still insisted on imposing and defending unwarranted and unprecedented discipline. Judge Richard Berman understood this and we are greatly appreciative of his thoughtful decision that was delivered today. Now, we can return our focus to the game on the field."

"Laywers at the league" — any idea to whom Kraft might be referring? Kraft and Goodell are on the mend, relationship-wise, but Kraft appears to have shifted his ire toward Pash.

OK, just to keep our tongue firmly planted in our cheek a moment longer, maybe Cris Carter was right: Maybe you do need to have a fall guy. Might it be Pash, a man who pulls in around $8 million annually in salary, be that guy?

Goodell's current deal runs through 2019, and who knows what a buyout might cost ... $100 million? More? He's not going anywhere. He's the shield for The Shield. But Pash could be an easy mark if the NFL wanted to slough off blame for its David Shula-esque win percentage in court cases.

One thing Pash has to fall back on: the CBA itself. He was a crucial element toward gaining the NFL's clear advantage over the NFLPA in the last round of negotiations back in 2011 during the lockout. We assume he was a big reason why the league locked out the players in the first place, and those strong-arm tactics worked well even though the public perception of the league potentially interrupting the season couldn't have been worse at the time.

No one talks about that now. But Pash might have to be quick to remind his fellow league mates just how much he saved their bacon back then in order to ensure job security now after losing the Brady case and failing — despite multiple urgings from Judge Berman — to settle with Brady and the union out of court.

It's likely nothing will happen immediately, as a reversal on appeal could shift the narrative back into the league's court. But that's not happening to start this season, and with Brady set to take the field on Sept. 10 in the opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, it's an awkward place for Pash and the legal team to be and sweat out over these next key months ahead.

Goodell knows his role; he's the money guy, and that won't change. He's not going anywhere anytime soon, and the owners' show of support for him is a pretty strong indication of that, even if the narrow-sighted public keeps honing in on him as the sole proprietor of this mess.

Will Pash or Birch be fall guys? Who knows? But they can't feel safe with their status — not the way Goodell can, anyway.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: September 3, 2015, 8:03 pm

I don't know about you, but nothing would calm me more when I'm lost in a big city than hearing Rob Gronkowski feeding me directions.

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Gronk is everywhere lately, and now he's a voice in your phone apps. Gronkowski, the lovable New England Patriots tight end, is one of the voices giving out directions on Waze, the traffic and navigation app.

Well, it's better than the robotic female voice you usually get in navigation apps. At this point, if Gronk replaced Siri, would anyone complain? Sure would make the answers more interesting.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: September 3, 2015, 7:41 pm

Perhaps he doesn't want to be a distraction, perhaps it's a case of sour grapes, or perhaps he even worries for his safety, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will not be going to the NFL's season opener in New England.

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Goodell and the New England Patriots haven't mixed well together lately. Goodell suspended quarterback Tom Brady and punished the Patriots severely over deflate-gate. Brady's suspension was overturned by a federal judge on Thursday. One would assume Goodell is seething about that. One would also assume the Patriots and their fans still have some very hard feelings.

So maybe it's best that Goodell won't attend next Thursday's traditional regular-season opener between the Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fox Sports 1's Mike Garafolo reported that Goodell won't attend the opener, the first opener he hasn't attended since becoming commissioner. The report said Goodell believed the focus should be on the game and the festivities. There's probably more at play, but whatever.

Goodell likely wouldn't get a friendly reception. Just this week, a Boston television host joked about Goodell, "Hire someone to murder him." Ugh.

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No matter the real reason, it's clear that Goodell's presence there would distract from the game. So without that sideshow, the Patriots get to celebrate their championship, put up their newest banner and play the Steelers in what should be an insane atmosphere. The commissioner won't be there. Brady will be though. What a crazy 24 hours.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: September 3, 2015, 7:22 pm

This was the NFL’s nightmare.

After more than seven months, several millions of dollars and big talking from the league and commissioner Roger Goodell in the deflate-gate controversy, the first time someone independent looked at the case against Tom Brady it was thrown out.

Judge Richard M. Berman ruled that Brady’s four-game suspension by the NFL will be vacated, a decision Goodell plans on appealling

Brady maintained his innocence even while the NFL tried to make its most popular player a scapegoat in a scandal the league let grow to outrageous proportions, but from the moment investigator Ted Wells’ report came out it was clear that there was no evidence against Brady. The NFL, for whatever reason, didn’t want to admit that and kept trying to turn Brady into a villain. An independent judge saw it for what it was worth.

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And with that, Brady will play. The reigning Super Bowl MVP will be on the field for the season opener on Sept. 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Officially speaking, Brady is off the hook for whatever happened when the Patriots’ footballs were found to be under-inflated during the AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. That’s great news for the Patriots. And — if you need one sentence to sum up how badly the league botched this entire thing — the fact that Brady will not miss any games is a horrible look for the league.

Judge Richard M. Berman enters federal court in New York in August. (AP)The NFL under Goodell has been criticized for becoming quite a mess, especially when it comes to player discipline, and deflate-gate sums that up. As soon as the parties got in front of Berman, he chided the NFL, asking, “What is evidence of scheme or conspiracy that covers the January 18 game? I'm having trouble with that.” There never was any.

In a statement, Goodell "respectfully" disagreed with Berman's ruling, saying, "We will appeal today’s ruling in order to uphold the collectively bargained responsibility to protect the integrity of the game. The commissioner’s responsibility to secure the competitive fairness of our game is a paramount principle, and the league and our 32 clubs will continue to pursue a path to that end. While the legal phase of this process continues, we look forward to focusing on football and the opening of the regular season."

 The NFL's entire process didn’t stand up to much scrutiny. The investigation was never independent, which became clearer as the process went along. The NFL never did anything to correct false information leaked to the media, information that Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he believes came from the NFL itself, which might have showed its mind was made up from the beginning. The lack of real evidence in the report was somewhat stunning, based on Wells’ assertions and the NFL’s punishment. And Goodell upholding an appeal that basically amounted to his own verdict really looked bad after Berman ruled against the NFL.

Where does the NFL even go from here? Although it is said that Goodell has "universal" support among owners, some owners have to wonder how this entire debacle was allowed to happen. Its biggest star twisted in the wind all offseason, only to have a court tell everyone he was right all along. Goodell wants desperately to hold onto absolute power over the players, but in very high-profile cases involving deflate-gate, Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal, he has been publicly overturned. The NFL doesn’t seem to be too adept at the punishment business. Perhaps it’s time for the league to re-think the process because nobody would say this is working too well

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The whole issue began more than seven months ago, in the AFC championship game between the Patriots and Colts. The officials were tipped off by the Colts that the Patriots' footballs seemed under-inflated. The balls were checked at halftime and they were found to be below the minimum allowed under NFL rules, which is 12.5 psi.

That led to the very expensive, long and incomplete report from Wells, which didn't have any evidence of Brady's role in whatever happened, but the NFL used it to suspend Brady four games. The initial punishment had NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent's name on it, which led to Goodell ruling on Brady's appeal. With a long report, Goodell upheld the suspension. That led to both sides filing in federal court. The NFL asked the court in New York to confirm its decision and the NFLPA wanted it vacated.

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Berman wanted the sides to settle but that didn't happen, and it doesn't sound like it was ever close. According to the New York Daily News' Gary Myers, the NFL never offered a settlement deal but indicated it would cut Brady's suspension to three games if he admitted guilt, which means the NFL was never serious about settling. Maybe it should have been.

Once there was no settlement, it was widely expected that whichever side lost would appeal, dragging out the controversy even further. 

Read the full ruling here:

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: September 3, 2015, 4:51 pm

After having another high-profile decision overturned when someone independent looked at it, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he'll appeal Judge Richard M. Berman's decision to overturn New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's suspension.

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The league put out a statement from Goodell after noon Eastern time on Thursday:

"We are grateful to Judge Berman for hearing this matter, but respectfully disagree with today’s decision. We will appeal today’s ruling in order to uphold the collectively bargained responsibility to protect the integrity of the game. The commissioner’s responsibility to secure the competitive fairness of our game is a paramount principle, and the league and our 32 clubs will continue to pursue a path to that end. While the legal phase of this process continues, we look forward to focusing on football and the opening of the regular season."

That the NFL is appealing shouldn't be a big surprise. It is in the league's best interest for this to just go away now, but it was in the league's best interest seven months ago to deal with the entire deflate-gate scenario in a fair and quick way but turned it into a fiasco instead. So why change course now?

Also, it's clear that Goodell values his disciplinary power, almost to a peculiar degree. Read Kent Babb's Washington Post story on Goodell from Thursday morning, and particularly how upset he was at predecessor Paul Tagliabue overruling him on player suspensions in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal. Goodell wants clear victory. So of course he'll fight.

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The NFL is making another misstep in appealing a case. The appeal is all in the name of claiming a meaningless victory over Brady, a great ambassador for the league and one of the greatest players in the game's history, and also protecting Goodell's absolute grip over his disciplinary power. Ask yourself this: How does that fall in line with integrity of the game?

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: September 3, 2015, 4:40 pm

Every NFL player should be as happy as Tom Brady today.

For years the players have complained about the NFL's discipline process, and specifically how commissioner Roger Goodell is all-powerful in the process (though, one has to wonder why they weren't so loud about the issue during CBA negotiations in 2011).

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In vacating Brady's suspension, Judge Richard M. Berman saw through the NFL trampling on the rights of its players. The ruling mocked the supposed independence of Ted Wells' report. The second page of the ruling calls it the "Pash/Wells investigation." Jeff Pash is the NFL's general counsel. The NFL wanted its case to be heard in New York, did what amounted to an end-around to get the case in New York, and still lost. That's how badly the league flubbed this whole ordeal. Even in what it sought out as a friendly venue, the NFL couldn't win.

Now the players might have a blueprint to fight back. Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy is reportedly considering it.

Hardy has a four-game suspension for a domestic violence incident in 2014, and ESPN's Ed Werder reported that Hardy will discuss with the union if he will appeal that suspension on the heels of the Brady decision.

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Losing in a case like Brady (again, it's not the first time Goodell and the NFL have lost when pushed back by the players) might be a rough precedent for the NFL. Goodell has built his tenure as commissioner around his discipline process, but it's obviously flawed. Berman saw that, and the players should feel empowered a bit now.

The NFLPA expressed that in its statement after the Brady decision, which seemed like a victory lap: 

The rights of Tom Brady and of all NFL players under the collective bargaining agreement were affirmed today by a Federal Judge in a court of the NFL’s choosing. We thank Judge Berman for his time, careful consideration of the issue and fair and just result.

This decision should prove, once and for all, that our Collective Bargaining Agreement does not grant this Commissioner the authority to be unfair, arbitrary and misleading. While the CBA grants the person who occupies the position of Commissioner the ability to judiciously and fairly exercise the designated power of that position, the union did not agree to attempts to unfairly, illegally exercise that power, contrary to what the NFL has repeatedly and wrongfully claimed.

We are happy for the victory of the rule of law for our players and our fans. This court’s decision to overturn the NFL Commissioner again should signal to every NFL owner that collective bargaining is better than legal losses. Collective bargaining is a much better process that will lead to far better results.

The NFL has already announced it will appeal the ruling. Regardless, whatever happens with Hardy and other discipline matters going forward, Thursday was a big day for NFL players.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: September 3, 2015, 4:25 pm

U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman ruled that Tom Brady's four-game suspension should be overruled. The biggest reason? Legally speaking, Berman felt that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell extended his power and reach too far in the deflate-gate discipline and that Brady was not allowed the proper means to defend himself.

In the 40-page decision, Berman dissected the NFL's argument and found a number of flaws in its case against Brady. The ruling accurately reflected Berman's line of questioning during the hearings and is summed up in his hammer-blow line against Goodell, who is charged with issuing "his own brand of industrial justice."

So what did Berman fall back on? Here was his justification:

Part of Judge Berman's ruling in favor of Tom Brady.

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One of the catch phrases of the Wells report was Brady being "generally aware" of the New England Patriots' goings-on as they related to ball deflation. But the judge said Brady couldn't be suspended for that general awareness of other peoples’ conduct. 

Berman said that Brady wasn't even made aware that he could be suspended for that or for not cooperating fully with Wells' investigation.

"Brady also had no notice that his discipline would be the equivalent of the discipline imposed upon a player who used performance enhancing drugs," Berman wrote.

More from Berman:

“[T]here is no evidence of a record of past suspensions based purely on obstructing a league investigation.”

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And, Berman added: "The deference due an arbitrator does not extend ... [to] an award obtained without the requisites of fairness or due process." 

Brady and his defense team also was not allowed to properly defend its case, Berman wrote, because they were denied sufficient access to the league's investigative files and to cross-examine NFL executive vice president Jeff Pash, who was not made available during the hearings — which seemed to irk Berman.

Berman pushed both sides to agree to settle. He gave the NFL every opportunity to reduce the suspension and still come out looking like winners. The league balked at a settlement, as did Brady, and it's the NFLPA, the quarterback and the Patriots who were the big winners on Thursday.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: September 3, 2015, 3:37 pm

As soon as news broke that a judge had overturned Tom Brady's four-game deflate-gate suspension, current and former NFL players, from both the New England Patriots and from around the league, took to Twitter to post their reactions. They did not hold back on what they were thinking.

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Tom Brady out here like https://t.co/WHxTJrm2BJ

— Golden Tate (@ShowtimeTate) September 3, 2015

.@nflcommish loser

— Tom Crabtree (@itsCrab) September 3, 2015

Teflon Tom 🔓

— Lance Briggs (@LanceBriggs) September 3, 2015

Let's go! This season to be one heck of another ride!! #PatsNation pic.twitter.com/vFZ1vmBxAq

— Rob Gronkowski (@RobGronkowski) September 3, 2015

Judge Berman....U know what u are 😂😂😂 (D-Mac) pic.twitter.com/wHxc6cXGIR

— Devin&Jason McCourty (@McCourtyTwins) September 3, 2015

LOL!

— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) September 3, 2015

The "deflate gate" Ruling is monumental for the players and it's defense against "potential" grievances against the nfl!!! 😎✊🏽✊🏽

— DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) September 3, 2015

Opinions aside, I'm glad a player got the best of the league.

— Ryan Grant (@RyanGrant25) September 3, 2015

Let's goooo TB12!!! This is gonna be a fun season!!! 1st win of the year for #PatsNation

— LeGarrette Blount (@LG_Blount) September 3, 2015

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: September 3, 2015, 3:35 pm

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Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

Deflate-gate is done! (For now.) Tom Brady is a free man! (Well, he always was, but you know what we mean.) The NFL took a huge hit on Thursday morning as a judge overturned Brady's suspension, and we're here at Grandstanding to talk about it with Frank Schwab of Yahoo's Shutdown Corner. Topics discussed:

• Why there was never any merit to the Wells Report to begin with

• How Roger Goodell deals with this crushing defeat

• Whether owners are still happy with Goodell or not (Here's the Washington Post article we reference within)

• What comes next in the appeals process

• Who won, who lost in this whole mess

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Thanks for listening to the Grandstanding podcast with Jay Busbee and Kevin Kaduk. Hit us up on Twitter (@kevinkaduk and @jaybusbee) Facebook (Kaduk here, Busbee here) or via the hashtag #grandstanding. See you next ep!

[Music by Chris Salmon and Tobin Summerfield]

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____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: September 3, 2015, 3:27 pm

The New England Patriots wasted no time reacting to Judge Richard M. Berman's decision to vacate Tom Brady's four-game suspension, posting a picture of a fired-up Brady to the team's official Twitter account.

pic.twitter.com/KEpFUMr5bi

— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 3, 2015

Soon afterwards, the team also announced a contest with a signed Brady jersey as the prize, including a picture of the four-time Super Bowl champion waving his rings around. This comes off as even more comical when you consider the NFL suggested Brady bribed Patriots employee Jim McNally with autographed memorabilia in order to deflate the footballs for him, a notion the judge dismissed.

Enter to win a signed Tom Brady jersey: http://t.co/QO2XQYdP0I pic.twitter.com/Vbr8pLmvqn

— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 3, 2015

Needless to say, Brady's teammates are pretty happy about the fact their two-time NFL MVP quarterback will be taking the field with them when their season opens against the Pittsburgh Steelers next week.

Let's go! This season to be one heck of another ride!! #PatsNation pic.twitter.com/vFZ1vmBxAq

— Rob Gronkowski (@RobGronkowski) September 3, 2015

Judge Berman....U know what u are 😂😂😂 (D-Mac) pic.twitter.com/wHxc6cXGIR

— Devin&Jason McCourty (@McCourtyTwins) September 3, 2015

Let's goooo TB12!!! This is gonna be a fun season!!! 1st win of the year for #PatsNation

— LeGarrette Blount (@LG_Blount) September 3, 2015

#FreeBrady #TB12 pic.twitter.com/wo5TTtfUyt

— Jamie Collins (@j_collins91) September 3, 2015

Thursday night gonna be turnt #Brady #PatsNation

— Jody Breeze (@Blafell1) September 3, 2015

Let's go #GOAT pic.twitter.com/gQR3LSYk7R

— Sebastian Vollmer (@SebVollmer) September 3, 2015

Likewise, the players' association took a victory lap in a statement from NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith released on the organization's website in the minutes after Berman's ruling.

The rights of Tom Brady and of all NFL players under the collective bargaining agreement were affirmed today by a Federal Judge in a court of the NFL’s choosing. We thank Judge Berman for his time, careful consideration of the issue and fair and just result.

This decision should prove, once and for all, that our Collective Bargaining Agreement does not grant this Commissioner the authority to be unfair, arbitrary and misleading. While the CBA grants the person who occupies the position of Commissioner the ability to judiciously and fairly exercise the designated power of that position, the union did not agree to attempts to unfairly, illegally exercise that power, contrary to what the NFL has repeatedly and wrongfully claimed.

We are happy for the victory of the rule of law for our players and our fans. This court’s decision to overturn the NFL Commissioner again should signal to every NFL owner that collective bargaining is better than legal losses. Collective bargaining is a much better process that will lead to far better results.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft chose to offer his support in the former of a mic drop, issuing a statement that called Brady "a classy person of the highest integrity" and blasted the league's legal team.

Statement from Patriots owner Robert Kraft on Brady ruling: pic.twitter.com/S15GeSJ0mb

— Kevin Patra (@kpatra) September 3, 2015

Meanwhile, Goodell's Twitter silence has reached 362 days, but you can probably guess his reaction.  

NFL Headquarters right now https://t.co/9Nw2h8UzEe

— Shooter McGavin (@ShooterMcGavin_) September 3, 2015

And while Goodell plans to appeal Berman's decision, just about everyone in Patriots Nation is rejoicing.

billboards like these have shown up in 35 locations around Boston/Mass (some say YES!) pic.twitter.com/vHEe1CWVwC

— shalise manza young (@shalisemyoung) September 3, 2015

Deflategate judge offered free coffee for life at Dunkin Donuts in Maine http://t.co/dI5u6x8Ht5 pic.twitter.com/8B14oHUpbO

— Steve DelVecchio (@SteveDelSports) September 3, 2015

Really, the only person in New England who might not be so excited is backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who was expected to be named the starter during Brady's four-game absence.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: September 3, 2015, 3:14 pm

Boston sports fans are renowned for their passion, their devotion, their single-minded allegiance to their teams. Perspective? Yeah, not so much.

Patriots fans believe NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has it in for the franchise, or at least quarterback Tom Brady, and to be fair, Goodell certainly seems to give that impression. But, as usually happens when sports broadcasters start channeling public outrage into hot sports takes, things went a little too far. Chatting on CSNNE, Kirk Minihane offered up a way for Patriots fans to be rid of Roger Goodell:

@GerryCallahan @BartHubbuch pic.twitter.com/NNg94aVngk

— hits mcghee (@ryanmassey) September 3, 2015

"Hire someone to murder him," Minihane said. "He's a rich guy. It's not that complicated." At the end of the clip, Minihane noted that he was joking.

Now, obviously the anti-PC crowd will leap to this "joking" defense and say it was sarcasm, everybody's too sensitive, blah blah. You can question the taste of someone advocating murder in our current hyper-violent climate. Rather than getting on our own little soapbox and declaiming the coarsening of discourse in our society, we'll chalk this one up to a poor choice of words.

Of course, the whole "I was joking!" defense seems to work best when you're the joker, not the target. Example: we could say all Boston fans ought to be loaded onto an oil tanker and shipped to Antarctica so they can't annoy the rest of America with their self-absorbed bleating that somehow combines the worst aspects of both arrogance and victimhood. But hey, we're just joking! So it's all good, right, Boston fans?

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: September 3, 2015, 1:54 pm

The topic is fun to talk about but ultimately doesn't matter: Is Roger Goodell going to lose his job as NFL commissioner?

Goodell might have a low approval rating among players, fans and some media, but the only people who matter to Goodell's job security are the NFL owners. And they still love him.

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In Kent Babb's excellent piece on Goodell in the Washington Post, Babb quoted an unnamed owner as saying there is “universal support” for Goodell among owners.

“Overall,” the owner said, according to the Post, “everybody thinks he’s doing a very good job in a very, very challenging environment.”

Again, those are the only men whose opinions matter when we have the endless chat about Goodell's job security. Even Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who has been publicly irate at the league over its handling of the deflate-gate controversy involving his team, "is said to view Goodell like a son — and therefore isn’t expected to hold a grudge," Babb wrote. The other owners are "probably happy" in seeing Goodell take on a longtime ally in Kraft over deflate-gate, the story said.

Babb's piece is as good as has ever been written on Goodell. It is fair and insightful. It paints Goodell as operating as a politician in the commissioner's office. That makes sense considering his father Charles was a former U.S. Representative and Senator. Charles Goodell, Babb writes, spoke out about Vietnam in an act of rebellion against the White House, and Republicans made sure he'd never hold office again. Worth noting.

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Babb's story also gives interesting perspective on Goodell's approach to deflate-gate. Babb includes that Goodell was upset that his predecessor Paul Tagliabue overturned the player suspensions in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, hoping to avoid further litigation. Although Tagliabue agreed with many of Goodell's findings in that case, anything less than a complete victory was unacceptable for Goodell. Babb wrote that Goodell and Tagliabue haven't spoken much since.

As we wait for a federal judge's ruling on deflate-gate, it's worthwhile to read Babb's profile of Goodell and how he approaches his job. Because from the sounds of it, no matter how much noise there is to the contrary, it doesn't seem like Goodell is going anywhere for a while.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: September 3, 2015, 1:48 pm

OK, this is already spoiled because you saw the headline, but if I were to tell you that the wife of a certain NFL team's general manager is in trouble because she posted inappropriate tweets about said general manager and an ESPN reporter, which team would you guess is involved? Washington, you say? Of course you do!

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Yes, folks, just when you think the trainwreck that is the Washington Redskins can't be any more of a pileup, the wreckage explodes and spews toxic fumes all over the countryside. Today's contestant in Football Team Or Reality Show is Jessica McCloughan, wife of Redskins GM Scot McCloughan. Mrs. McCloughan got a wee bit too free with Twitter, and, well, she's having to apologize.

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 In a since-deleted tweet on a since-closed private account, Jessica McCloughan accused ESPN reporter Dianna Marie Russini, in no uncertain terms, of exchanging certain, uh, favors for scoops from McCloughan about the team. A Redskins spokesman initially denied that the tweets came from Jessica McCloughan, claiming that an impostor was at work (should have gone with the social media intern defense), but later on Wednesday Jessica McCloughan cleared the air:

Redskins issue statement on behalf of Jessica McCloughan, wife of GM Scot McCloughan. pic.twitter.com/YAxFi2IZiC

— Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) September 3, 2015

ESPN offered a statement supporting Russini, and in truth she's brought in plenty of scoops since long before McCloughan arrived on the scene. Between this and Robert Griffin III's Instagram follies, the Redskins are having a heck of a week on social media. And it's only Wednesday.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: September 3, 2015, 2:02 am

It really seems like Peyton Manning's retirement will come out of the blue, sometime in the middle of a cold offseason.

Will it be next offseason? Who knows. But Manning has avoided the retirement talk since he came to Denver. He simply will not talk about his future plans and when he might walk away from the NFL. After his play slipped late last season, and the Denver Broncos asked him to take a pay cut, the common thought has been that the 2015 season might be it. But there will be no farewell tour, at least this season.

In a promotional interview for NFL Sunday Ticket on DirecTV, Yahoo's Evan Doherty asked Manning when he's going to retire.

"I don't have those thoughts," said Manning, who is 39. "I think about playing football to the best of my ability in 2015."

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Perhaps he has it all planned out how he wants to say goodbye to the NFL this is the master of preparation, right? — but every time he has been asked about it he has never let on. Until he steps away it will be a big story, considering he's truly one of the greatest players the NFL has ever seen and has also been a tremendous ambassador for the sport. But if he's planning on this being his last season (and that's all speculation; there has been no indication he's ready to walk away and he did have a 101.5 rating last season) then he's not going to let it be a distraction for the Broncos. Maybe he'll do the Ray Lewis and tell his team right before the playoffs in hopes of inspiring a Super Bowl run. Maybe he'll continue to play a few more years, until he truly has nothing left to give to football. Only he knows, and he's not telling. 

Every tidbit with Manning seems a little bigger than with most other players, because he's the only five-time MVP in league history. So when he told The MMQB's Peter King he hasn't been able to feel his fingertips in his throwing hand since neck surgeries cost him the 2011 season, it became a huge deal.

"it certainly became a little bigger story than I would have liked," Manning said.

Manning hasn't gone out of his way to discuss his physical limitations since he left Indianapolis. At some point in retirement (whenever that is), he'll probably reveal in more detail what he has gone through. Maybe. At that point it seems we'll have an even greater appreciation for the second chapter of his career. No high-profile quarterback has had such success with two different teams. After all those neck surgeries, Manning authored what is likely the greatest NFL single-season performance ever, his 55-touchdown season in 2013.

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And he has done so without a lot of the physical gifts that he came to the NFL with, as the first overall pick of the 1998 NFL draft.

"I'm a different quarterback than I was before I was injured," Manning told Yahoo. "I had to make adjustments to my new physical state, due to strength issues, tingling sensation issues."

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: September 2, 2015, 11:25 pm

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An opportunity on the field didn't materialize for Lance Briggs this offseason, but it's not a big surprise that he had a new job waiting for him away from the game.

The popular longtime Chicago Bears linebacker has retired to join CSN Chicago's Bears coverage this season. He already had a head start he has made appearances on CSN since 2010.

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But about the retirement thing. When he appeared in the Chicago Cubs' broadcast booth on Wednesday afternoon, he did leave the door open to come back in the right situation.

"Here's the thing with that: I haven't filed my papers yet but I'm ready to get behind the camera," Briggs said on the broadcast. "Now if somebody called me and said 'Hey Lance, we'd like you to come play football,' I'm going to say I'm happily retired. If they say 'Hey Lance, we're going to offer you this,' I'm going to say, 'There's a good chance you've got a new football player.'"

Then Briggs doubled down on the "I'm not retired yet!" talk with a Sqor.com post:

"Ahem! I have not filed any papers," Briggs wrote. "I have NOT offically retired. However, I am excited to begin the next phase of my life, and will make an official decision in the coming weeks!!"

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Briggs shouldn't have many regrets if nobody calls offering him a boatload of money to come back. Briggs played 12 seasons, all with the Bears, and made seven Pro Bowls. He (likely) finishes with 1,173 tackles, 15 sacks and 16 interceptions. 

"I'm really happy with my career and with the way it's gone," Briggs said on the Cubs broadcast. "I'm happy I can walk away healthy."

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: September 2, 2015, 7:31 pm

So the theme of the current Houston Texans "Hard Knocks" season is that coach Bill O'Brien swears like he has a quota to meet.

"My brother texted me, he thought it was awesome," O'Brien said after the first episode aired. "My mom texted me, she didn’t think it was too awesome." 

Oh, there are other things going on in the HBO training camp show, but O'Brien would definitely be earning the show an "explicit" tag on iTunes. At least all the shoots and darns and effs are going to help a good cause.

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At the team luncheon this week, O'Brien brought out a jar.

"We're going to call this the swear jar," he said, according to Click2Houston.com. "The Houston Texans Foundation will be happy to know that I will be making a personal donation to account for all of the swearing during 'Hard Knocks.'"

That's very nice. He better have his checkbook handy, because the swear jar might runneth over.

The CBS affiliate in Houston is having a good time keeping a tally for the first episode, charging more for different words as they were said on the show. O'Brien racked up $32, and not surprisingly he led the team. Linebackers coach Mike Vrabel did his best to keep pace at $24, and then it dropped way down to $7.50 for defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. O'Brien had 11 f-bombs in the opening episode alone, CBS Houston said.

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O'Brien told the crowd at the luncheon he's going to try to cut back on the swearing when the cameras are around. And if he doesn't, at least charity will benefit.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: September 2, 2015, 7:13 pm

The NFL is the dark overlord of the universe, or at least that's how the league is portrayed by Hollywood.

Even Sony Pictures Entertainment, one of few film companies with no major strings attached to the NFL, feared what the league's lawyers might have done had they pulled no punches in a movie about the nation's most popular sport, according to hacked emails scoured by The New York Times.

On Monday, Sony released the trailer for "Concussion," a film starring Will Smith as Dr. Bennett Omalu, the neuropathologist who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — a degenerative brain disease brought on by repeated head trauma — while performing an autopsy on Hall of Famer Mike Webster. The emails reveal that studio executives, director Peter Landesman and Smith's representatives discussed the idea of "softening some points" about the NFL's reported cover-up of Omalu's science.

According to The New York Times, the discussion centered around: changes to the script; editing "some unflattering moments for the NFL" from the film, eliminating "most of the bite" for fear of legal retribution; careful construction of the movie's marketing strategy (i.e., making sure to mention Smith's fandom and the fact his son played football); and the director's attempt to set up a meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, which ultimately went nowhere once a league spokesman demanded a copy of the script.

“Will is not anti football (nor is the movie) and isn’t planning to be a spokesman for what football should be or shouldn’t be but rather is an actor taking on an exciting challenge,” Dwight Caines, the president of domestic marketing at Sony Pictures, wrote in an email on Aug. 6, 2014, to three top studio executives about how to position the movie. “We’ll develop messaging with the help of N.F.L. consultant to ensure that we are telling a dramatic story and not kicking the hornet’s nest.”

Landesman defended Sony's decision to conduct edits, arguing such legal practice is customary when dealing with a film about real-life events. The director also said alterations were made only to ensure the film's accuracy and limit the league's ability to attack the credibility of its content. He told the paper, "There was never an instance where we compromised the storytelling to protect ourselves from the NFL."

[Wetzel to Forde Daily Podcast: What is holding up the judge's deflate-gate decision?]

Sony and the NFL originally declined comment in the story, outside of a vague statement from the league and a studio spokesman clarifying that Sony and not the NFL hired the aforementioned consultant.

“We are encouraged by the ongoing focus on the critical issue of player health and safety,” the league said in a statement when asked to comment on the film. “We have no higher priority. We all know more about this issue than we did 10 or 20 years ago. As we continue to learn more, we apply those learnings to make our game and players safer.”

Once The New York Times piece gained steam, though, Sony issued its own statement in response.

“As will become immediately clear to anyone actually seeing the movie, nothing with regard to this important story has been ‘softened’ to placate anyone.”

As The New York Times noted, the NFL pressured ESPN, which broadcasts "Monday Night Football," to cancel "Playmakers," a horrible show about NFL players acting horribly in 2004, and more recently distance itself from the "League of Denial" documentary that eventually played on PBS. According to the paper, there are no business ties between Sony and the NFL beyond Giants co-owner Steve Tisch's production company at the studio and William Morris Endeavor Entertainment representing Landesman and producer Ridley Scott while also conducting some work for the league.

Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: September 2, 2015, 6:26 pm

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
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Fantasy football season is upon us, and that means it's time to check in with our pal Andy Behrens from Yahoo Sports' unparalleled fantasy team. We've got a lot to hit on here, so let's get to it:

• Behrens is part of the Yahoo Fantasy Freaks podcast, brand-new this season. Check it out, and while you do, look for the Wetzel To Forde podcast starring Yahoo columnists Dan Wetzel and Pat Forde. Podcasts aplenty!

• We're running a free Grandstanding NFL Survival Pool. Join us by clicking here and using the Group ID# 13294 and password: brady. Prizes! Acclaim! Your name read out on our podcast each week!

• Andy breaks down the top running backs in the league. Who's his clear no. 1?

• Quarterbacks. There's one superior quarterback. Who is it, and how soon should you grab him?

• What should you look for in a key pickup once you get past the first few rounds?

• Which players should you avoid?

• What are the new ways that Yahoo can win you real, hard ca$h this fantasy season?

This podcast is guaranteed* to help you win your league. Listen up, listen close, tell your friends.

*-Not really.

Thanks for listening to the Grandstanding podcast with Jay Busbee and Kevin Kaduk. Hit us up on Twitter (@kevinkaduk and @jaybusbee) Facebook (Kaduk here, Busbee here) or via the hashtag #grandstanding. See you next ep!

[Music by Chris Salmon and Tobin Summerfield]

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: September 2, 2015, 5:42 pm

Ryan Clark, the longtime NFL safety and current ESPN analyst, made some waves when he called Trent Richardson the worst running back of all time.

He relayed a story of him discussing Richardson with Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin before the 2012 draft, when Clark was worried that the division rival Cleveland Browns were going to take Richardson. Tomlin told Clark not to worry, Clark said on ESPN.

"He said, 'Because he doesn't dish out punishment, deliver punishment, he just absorbs punishment,'" Clark said. "He's like, 'He won't make it in the league.'"

Outrageous opinions are the name of the game on the show Clark was appearing on, so take his "worst of all time" for what it's worth. But with this particular opinion, there's an argument that can be made that Clark is right. And Richardson, who was cut by the Oakland Raiders this week, still has a chance to latch on with another team and improve on what has been a disappointing career. Weirder things have happened.

To figure out the answer of which running back is worst of all time, you have to consider just high-volume running backs who actually hurt their teams through inefficiency I'm sure there is some undrafted free agent running back who played one game before getting cut who is technically the worst, but those type of players don't damage a franchise.

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Richardson, who was the third overall pick to the Browns, doesn't stack up well when considering his place among running backs. His 3.31-yard average is the most damning stat. Of players with at least 500 attempts in their careers, Richardson has the ninth lowest average according to Pro-Football-Reference.com (and he also added 1 yard and a fumble on four playoff carries). Of the eight players worse than Richardson, four finished their careers before 1950. Two, Brett Favre and Warren Moon, were modern quarterbacks. That leaves Lynn Chandnois, who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1950-56, and made up for his 3.26-yard average by being a fine kick returner who made two Pro Bowls, and the player who probably does win the crown of worst ever if going by just stats: Michael Haddix.

Haddix, the eighth pick of the 1983 draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, somehow lasted eight seasons with the Eagles and Green Bay Packers despite averaging 3.01 yards per carry and having just one season averaging better than 3.2 (that was a still awful 3.5 in 1986). He scored three rushing touchdowns in 120 games, on 543 attempts. He did not score a rushing touchdown in his final six NFL seasons despite more than 400 carries. At least Richardson scored 17 times in three seasons (really, he did). Haddix wasn't the third pick of the draft like Richardson, and he wasn't traded for another first-round pick like the Indianapolis Colts did for Richardson, but he was still a mighty bust. Buddy Ryan once called him out for being overweight, saying he looked like a "reject USFL guard," according to a Philadelphia Daily News story from 1987. Haddix switched positions and was a fullback for plenty of his career, but he still counts on the list.

Leonard Russell probably deserves some mention too, because he ranked dead last in Football Outsiders' defensive-adjusted yards above replacement (DYAR) metric among all running backs from 1991-2012. And he was last by a landslide. The 14th pick of the 1991 draft to the New England Patriots had a total DYAR of minus-416 when nobody else had more than minus-300, and a six-year average of minus-69 when nobody else topped minus-50. 

Trent Richardson (AP)Another Browns first-round pick, WIlliam Green, is in the conversation as well. After a promising rookie season with 887 yards and six touchdowns, it all went really bad for Green, as he had three touchdowns in his final three seasons and drove the Browns nuts with his off-field issues. He did average 3.7 yards a carry so he probably doesn't win the prize (and thankfully he has turned his life around and became a motivational speaker). 

Others come to mind, too. Ki-Jana Carter was a regrettable No. 1 overall pick, but that was mostly due to injury. Blair Thomas was a No. 2 overall pick and did very little for the New York Jets. Curtis Enis and D.J. Dozier are fellow first-round busts.

Really though, were any of these backs worse than Lawrence Phillips, who is back in the news after being charged with murdering his prison cellmate? Phillips was the sixth pick of the 1996 draft by the St. Louis Rams despite numerous red flags, and was as terrible on the field as he was off it. He lasted less than two full seasons with the Rams (again, the sixth pick of the draft) and averaged 3.4 yards per carry in his career. He is also blamed for not picking up Arizona Cardinals cornerback Aeneas Williams on a blitz, which led to a concussion that ended Steve Young's career. When he refused to participate in a practice drill with the 49ers, he was cut and at age 24, his NFL career was over. Three NFL seasons on three teams, 1,453 yards on 424 carries and that was it.

As bad as Richardson has been, it's hard to say he was worse than that. I'll pick Phillips.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: September 2, 2015, 5:09 pm

Lawrence Phillips has been charged with murder in the death of his cellmate at a Central California prison. (AP)Lawrence Phillips, once one of the biggest stars in college football and a top-10 NFL draft pick, has been charged with first-degree murder.

In April, Phillips was investigated in the death of his cellmate, 37-year-old Damion Soward, who was strangled to death at Kern Valley State Prison in California. Now Phillips has been charged with murder, according to The Associated Press. The prosecuting attorney told USA Today she will not seek the death penalty in the case.

Phillips is serving 31 years for two separate incidents. In 2005 he twice choked his girlfriend. Later that year he attacked three teens with his car after a pickup football game. Soward, who TMZ reported is the cousin of former NFL first-round pick R. Jay Soward, was serving 82 years to life for first-degree murder.

Phillips is one of the NFL's all-time off-field character issue warning tales. The St. Louis Rams somehow thought it was a good idea to draft the talented running back sixth overall in 1996, even after he allegedly assaulted his ex-girlfriend. Phillips was an enormous bust after that, never showing the ability he displayed during a controversial career at the University of Nebraska.

Phillips' story then took a much sadder turn once his football career was done.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: September 2, 2015, 3:42 pm

To the best of my knowledge, Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley is not in "Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation," but based on a recent report about his decision to cut popular veteran Fred Jackson, he could've at least been an extra. And the way Jackson tells it, Whaley might've made a great villain.

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On Monday, the Bills released running back Jackson, whose 5,646 rushing yards trail only Thurman Thomas and O.J. Simpson in franchise history, and the news wasn't just a surprise to fans. It also came as a shock to Jackson himself and perhaps even some members of the Bills organization. According to Tim Graham of The Buffalo News, Whaley "went rogue" in releasing one of the city's most beloved players. 

Bills organization will remain unified when speaking publicly, but two sources tell me Doug Whaley went rogue in cutting Fred Jackson.

— Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) September 2, 2015

While Graham did clarify that "going rogue doesn't mean Whaley didn't tell the owners before he did it," but the report does suggest the decision may not have been supported throughout the organization.

In an interview with Graham's colleague, Buffalo News columnist Bucky Gleason, Jackson even implied Bills coach Rex Ryan wasn't fully on board with Whaley's decision while taking a parting shot at the Buffalo GM.

“Doug Whaley was behind it, to my knowledge,” Jackson said. “He wasn’t honest with me the entire time that I’ve known him. I have the utmost respect for the organization. There’s only one person in that organization that I haven’t gotten honesty from, and that was him.”

Even if Whaley went rogue and didn't give a veteran the respect he deserved, it doesn't mean the reasons for his decision were any less valid, as Jackson turned 34 in February and was slated to make $2.5 million.

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Either way, both sides appear to have moved on, as Jackson has been in Seattle meeting with the Seahawks and Whaley is rumored to be making backup quarterback Matt Cassel his next cut.

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Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: September 2, 2015, 3:13 pm

It's been almost eight months since the AFC championship game, and deflate-gate is still raging on, but in the meantime the NFL has instituted rule changes in hopes of preventing another PSI-related controversy.

According to rule changes recently announced by the league, officials will now record PSI levels of all 24 footballs submitted by each team prior to the game and will usher the balls to the field for kickoff. Much of the deflate-gate drama has centered on referee Walt Anderson's recollection of pressure gauge readings prior to the January playoff game between the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts as well as Patriots employee Jim McNally's pregame pit stop in a Gillette Stadium bathroom with the game balls.

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Additionally, the balls will be inspected at halftime and following the final score of randomly selected games. (Read: Every Patriots game ever, probably.) For all of you interested in air pressure, here's exactly how the footballs will be handled prior to every NFL game this season, according to the recent rule changes.

1. Wilson Sporting Goods will certify all pressure gauges prior to each season, providing every referee with one primary and one backup gauge. NFL Football Operations will have a supply as well, but the same gauge must be used for checking the PSI levels prior to, during or after a particular game. 

2. A member of NFL security will oversee two game officials recording the PSI levels of all 24 footballs prepared by each team (12 primary and 12 backup) two hours and 15 minutes before kickoff. Balls between 12.5 and 13.5 PSI will be approved, and balls outside of that range will be set to 13.0 PSI.

3. Each ball will be numbered and stamped by the referee.

[Wetzel to Forde Daily Podcast: What is holding up the judge's deflate-gate decision?]

4. A kicking ball coordinator, employed by the league, will assume custody of the balls until 10 minutes before kickoff, when he or she will be accompanied by a game official and a member of NFL security to the replay station. Security will then distribute 12 of the balls to each team's crew.

5. At randomly selected games, the balls will be checked at halftime by game officials and NFL security, at which point the 12 backup balls — stored in the officials' locker room — will be escorted to the field. The air pressure will also be checked at the end of randomly selected games.

6. The referee is required to submit all pressure readings to the NFL by noon the following day.

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In the past, officials did not number the balls or record PSI levels prior to games, the procedure was not overseen by NFL security, and the balls were not ushered to the sideline by a designated representative. Needless to say, these rules would have prevented deflate-gate had they been in place last season.

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Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: September 2, 2015, 2:05 pm

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Oh, Washington Redskins fans, have we got a treat for you. New Washington Post columnist Jerry Brewer joins us on the podcast, and man, does he bring the heat ... a nice, tight spiral right on its target, which is a lot more than you can say for any Redskins quarterback of the last few years. Brewer brings us details on:

• How Robert Griffin III sowed the seeds of his own failure, and why he might not have an easier time anywhere else;

• How head coach Jay Gruden is now on the hook for no matter what happens next in D.C.;

• How new QB Kirk Cousins might be the only guy to come out of this whole mess looking halfway decent;

• How owner Dan Snyder resembles a "snake in the grass," and continues to cause problems for his own team; and

• How this team might, might, just have a bit of hope in the years ahead.

It's great stuff, whether or not you're a fan of the Redskins. Check it out for insights on how covering one of the NFL's worst teams is in some ways better than covering one of its best (Brewer just came from Seattle). Enjoy!

Thanks for listening to the Grandstanding podcast with Jay Busbee and Kevin Kaduk. Hit us up on Twitter (@kevinkaduk and @jaybusbee) Facebook (Kaduk here, Busbee here) or via the hashtag #grandstanding. See you next ep!

[Music by Chris Salmon and Tobin Summerfield]

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: September 2, 2015, 2:02 am

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers invested in a virtual reality system to help train their players including rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, it made a lot of sense.

This generation was raised on interactive games. They learned in a different way than just sitting around and reading a textbook, then reciting it. Then they went home and played "Madden." So virtual reality is the logical next step in the teaching methods for NFL quarterbacks.

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Besides, it looks pretty cool. EON Sports VR showed the SIDEKIQ simulation software to Yahoo Sports, and you can see the benefits it can have for players. The software allows players to see the Xs and Os of the play drawn out, then the play is simulated for them as they'd see it. The Dallas Cowboys have also embraced virtual reality training. 

"It takes Xs and Os from a playbook editor, and it breathes life into them," EON Sports VR CEO Brendan Reilly told Yahoo Sports.

Is it the same as practicing on the field or seeing it in a game? No. But it seems like a great way to enhance the process. Practice time under the new NFL collective-bargaining is more limited than it had been in the past, but perhaps virtual reality training can bridge that gap. There's also no wear and tear on a player's body using the simulator. Although the system seems to help quarterbacks most, Reilly said it can be used for any vantage point on the field.

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There's no better way for a quarterback to learn an NFL system than through repetition, and maybe virtual reality can speed up the process. That would be invaluable for teams breaking in a new quarterback, like the Buccaneers are.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: September 1, 2015, 11:14 pm

Using a nice bit of revisionist history, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair blamed the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady for escalating deflate-gate by not cooperating.

McNair was asked questions by hosts from Sports Radio 610 in Houston at the Texans team luncheon, and Mike Meltser tweeted the main quotes from McNair about deflate-gate as we wait for Judge Richard Berman to rule on Brady's appeal of a four-game suspension. His quotes were collected by WEEI in Boston. (Steph Stradley had the full transcript on her blog.)

McNair said the Patriots and Brady “were going to cooperate fully, and then when it came down to it, they didn’t.” That is what, in his opinion, raised the stakes in the controversy.

His comments are interesting because so few owners other than Pats owner Robert Kraft have had anything substantial to say about the issue. McNair is just one of 32 owners, but it's probably a window into what the majority of the group thinks about the issue. Which is basically, the Patriots and Brady are getting what they deserve.

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What McNair's comments don't include were any analysis of how an email from the NFL to the Patriots and a subsequent ESPN report that 11 of 12 footballs were significantly deflated  a report that was never corrected by the league even though it was wrong helped turn a minor issue into a scandal. McNair also didn't say that Brady was unaware not giving over his personal communication would lead to punishment, and he didn't acknowledge that nowhere in the CBA does it state that a player's personal communication is subject to review by the NFL. Or that Brady cooperated with investigator Ted Wells otherwise by answering every question, as did the Patriots aside from not making employee Jim McNally available for a fifth interview.

[Wetzel to Forde Daily Podcast: What is holding up the judge's deflate-gate decision?]

The situation escalated looooooooong before Brady destroyed his cell phone. But, continue, Bob.

“Is there anything conclusive there? No, you don’t have any conclusive evidence, but the whole idea is we want to make sure we have a competitive playing field that’s level for everybody," McNair said. "We don’t want people breaking the rules.”

Oh. Apparently the NFL takes breaking the rules seriously, but not fair process. Because, clearly, suspending someone admittedly with no evidence or without it ever being looked at by anyone independent is OK, as long as you're doing it to uphold the rules, which nobody can be sure anyone broke. McNair also said J.J. Watt wouldn't have destroyed his cell phone in a similar situation, and I can't even respond to that because my head hurts so bad.

Let's be honest, there's no real surprise that an owner who probably envies the success of the Patriots has put all the blame on them and Brady. I'm sure if one of McNair's players got suspended without any conclusive evidence he'd be fine with it, as long as it's in the name of upholding a competitive playing field.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: September 1, 2015, 9:06 pm

Quarterback Johnny Manziel was having a good preseason, then his right elbow shut down any chance he had at earning a starting job.

After two preseason games it seemed like a quarterback controversy might start brewing with the Cleveland Browns. Manziel played pretty well and showed progress. But Manziel has dealt with right elbow tendinitis since then. He said it is something he has dealt with since his freshman year at Texas A&M.

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The good news, as he shared with the Cleveland media on Tuesday, is that surgery has not been recommended by anyone. Included in the list of doctors he reached out to who told him just to rest was famed Dr. James Andrews, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Andrew Gribble of the team's website said Manziel was asked if he can throw on Wednesday and be ready for Week 1, and Manziel said "sure." 

The injury derailed an interesting story. To be fair, Browns coach Mike Pettine never indicated that he was considering giving Manziel the starting job by the start of the regular season, no matter how well he played or how poorly Josh McCown played. But missing the final two preseason games won't help his momentum. Instead of inching closer to putting the pressure on coaches to keep him in mind early in the season if McCown struggles, he might need to build back up to that through practice. That might not be the worst thing, given that the Browns should be considering what is best for Manziel over his career with them and not what happens in September or October.

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Manziel's progress in the first two preseason games was promising. It might be a while before we see him in action again, until the Browns feel the need to put him in the lineup. That's assuming his elbow isn't a long-term issue, of course.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: September 1, 2015, 8:08 pm

(AP Photo/Matt York)At long last, the NFL has altered a longstanding tradition to properly recognize the true heroes of professional football:

The media.

Ahahaha! Kidding! For those of you who aren't already rushing to the comments below, here's the deal: the NFL is moving its Super Bowl Media Day, home of "wacky" costumed "media" and "outrageous" questions, from its traditional Tuesday slot to Monday night.

At "Super Bowl Opening Night Fueled By Gatorade," the teams will gather at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. to speak for an hour apiece starting at 5:15 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time. And by "speak," we mean "stand in front of hordes (see picture) and answer a. routine questions about how excited they are to be here or b. pointless morning-zoo attempts at gotcha humor. Fans will pay "less than $30" to get in, and will get a gift bag that includes a radio to listen in to all the festivities.

Excited? Don't answer yet, because you could either see Marshawn Lynch not talk:

Or you could see Rob Gronkowski try to sing:

Boy, we will watch ANYTHING even remotely connected to football, won't we?

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: September 1, 2015, 5:54 pm

Marshawn Lynch loves his Skittles, and somehow ended up doing a five-minute segment on cable TV's Evine Live to sell them.

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Yep, at a little after 11 a.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, Lynch was on the air hawking candy like this was some normal occurrence for one of the NFL's biggest stars. He did a five-minute segment on Evine Live, a shopping show, with host Allison Waggoner to sell the candy he has a well-documented affinity for.

This looks like the parody of all parodies the model wearing the Skittles necklace, Waggoner presenting Lynch a Skittles ring like she was asking him to marry her, Waggoner explaining that it would take 12 packs of Skittles end-to-end to be as tall as Lynch — but apparently this is as legitimate as segments selling candy on a home shopping show can get, I guess. Next up: Russell Wilson sells you some ginsu knives! 

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Lynch is funny through the whole thing (that's really why it's a shame the guy doesn't talk to the media, he has a ton of personality to share, but to each his own I suppose), and in the end you're not quite sure if you actually just watched what you think you watched.

If this leads to Lynch popping up randomly on various other cable television shows, I'm all for it.

 

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: September 1, 2015, 4:53 pm

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh got a bit mouthy with Redskins head coach Jay Gruden during Saturday's preseason game, jawing in the wake of Washington linebacker Keenan Robinson's body-slam of receiver Kamar Aiken. What did Harbaugh say to Gruden? We're not quite sure, but reading lips, it sure seemed like there was at least one f-bomb in there. Not so, Harbaugh insists.

"For all those lip readers out there that want to write headlines about what was said, there's more than one word to the English language that begins with F," Harbaugh said. "I really make it a point in life to not use that word as much as possible. I'm not batting 1.000. I always remember when I say that. So, maybe it was fight. Is that plausible? Maybe it was football. But I'm going to say that I'm 99.99 percent certain it wasn't the word that it was reported to be. Just for the record."

We're not quite sure what the big deal is here. Look, if some linebacker is trying to plant one of your players skull-first like an explorer with a flag stick, that might be worth an f-bomb or two. Sure, Harbaugh could have said, "In the spirit of FRIENDSHIP I wish you wouldn't do that" or "That's the kind of behavior that causes a FIGHT" or "FRENCH toast is a delightful breakfast entree," but let's dispense with this "civilized language" nonsense in the heat of an argument. Adults know better than to use such language in polite settings, and children shouldn't be watching the Washington Redskins without parental supervision anyway.

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Then again, maybe it was "football," since that's all Harbaugh was willing to talk about during his unnecessarily awkward halftime interview:

AW YEAH LET'S TALK FOOTBALL AND NUTHIN' BUT FOOTBALL. Come on, coach. It's the preseason. Not like being a human being is going to be a distraction or anything. In the NFL these days, you've got to come into the locker room riding a unicorn to do that.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: September 1, 2015, 4:49 pm

Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch began their NFL careers together in the Bills backfield, combining for more than 6,000 rushing yards from 2007 until Lynch was traded to the Seahawks in 2010. 

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And when the phrase “Beast Mode” entered the national football consciousness during a bruising 67-yard run against the Saints in Lynch’s playoff debut for Seattle, Jackson was there, too, because his former teammate flew him out for the occasion. So, it’s only fitting the two will share a backfield again in a quest for the Super Bowl, as Jackson agreed to a one-year deal with the Seahawks after being cut by the Bills.

Former #Bills RB Fred Jackson has agreed on a one-year deal to join the #Seahawks, source said. He joins tag-teamer #Beastmode

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 4, 2015

“Coming into the league, that was a guy who took me under his wing, showed me the ropes, showed me how to be a pro on this level,” Lynch told Yahoo after his TD capped an upset of New Orleans in the first round of the playoffs in 2011. “I had a tough road, and he was there every step of the way.”

There was some question as to whether the Seahawks would even bring Lynch back for another season at age 29 — and even whether he would consider retirement — but after a 1,306-yard, 13-touchdown campaign that might have ended in a second Super Bowl ring had Pete Carroll just handed him the damn ball, the organization rewarded him with a two-year extension worth up to $31 million.

Jackson’s arrival should help alleviate some of Seattle’s concerns about Lynch’s lingering back pain, lessening the number of times the latter enters Beast Mode throughout the season. And if rumors about a division in the Seahawks locker room between Lynch and Russell Wilson are — or ever were — legit, the beloved former Bills back’s relationship with Lynch and league-wide respect might help bridge a gap.

The presence of Jackson could also provide further guidance for third-year running back Christine Michael, should the struggling former second-round pick survive this weekend’s cuts. Outside of Jackson's veteran influence, though, there remains some question as to how much of an impact he will make on the field. Jackson averaged a career-worst 3.7 yards per carry during a 2014 season shortened by two games due to injury, although he still finished with 1,026 yards from scrimmage.

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At the very least, there’s now at least one person in the Seattle locker room who can get Lynch to talk.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: September 1, 2015, 4:39 pm

If the Houston Texans meant to set the Internet on fire Tuesday afternoon, mission accomplished.

All they needed to do was tweet out a picture of 325-pound nose tackle Vince Wilfork rocking some bib overall shorts with no shirt. Hey, I'm not going to be the one to tell him he can't wear it:

How well is @wilfork75 adjusting to life in Texas? Find out tonight on #HardKnocks at 9pm CT only on @HBO. pic.twitter.com/0PMBdU7H7X

— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) September 1, 2015

Spectacular on so many levels. Every NFL writer alive retweeted that with some joke. The only remaining question is, does shirtless-overalls Wilfork take over as the top Internet moment for the former New England Patriots great, or is it still barbecue-dancing Wilfork?

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: September 1, 2015, 3:34 pm

Robert Griffin III is trying to his get his life, his career and his passwords back.

According to SB Nation, Griffin's official Instagram account "liked" a post from another user that slammed the Washington Redskins, their "sorry ass team owner" and dropped an #ImpeachDanSnyder hashtag for good measure (in case the subtlety hadn't come through earlier).

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Griffin then responded with a block-lettering mandate headlined "I JUST WANT TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT" and then went on to throw "one of the interns" under the bus for authorizing the previous like, saying he didn't have access to his own passwords. (An aside: Has Hillary Clinton tried that one yet?)

The always-blame-the-intern routine might work for other folks in D.C., but Griffin's approval rating is hovering at Rick Santorum-esque levels currently.

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Remember when Griffin vowed to quit social media? Yeah, that was fun while it lasted. Even two weeks ago when Griffin tried to be both deferential and confident in the same interview, it came out twisted. Why? It's because too often his cup runneth over and Griffin uses the pronoun "I" where "we" might be the better substitute.

But it's too late now. That ship has sailed; social-media posts can be unliked, posts can be removed and all that, but we know what the deal was in the first place.

Instead of an intern, Robert, we suggest getting an editor. They save our bacon on a daily basis.

 

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: September 1, 2015, 11:17 am

Running back Trent Richardson didn't make the Oakland Raiders' roster. He didn't even make the cutdown to 75 players on Monday.

Richardson was released by the Raiders, as reported by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson. Richardson might be done in the NFL after his abrupt end in Oakland. The Raiders gave him a two-year, $3.85 million contract with $600,000 guaranteed, according to Spotrac, which seemed high because who were they bidding against? Richardson was traded from Cleveland and failed spectacularly with the Indianapolis Colts. The third overall pick of the 2012 draft averaged just 3.1 yards per carry with the Colts in 29 games.

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Even though he was bad with the Colts, it seemed worth a flier for the Raiders (although at a higher price than anyone should have paid). Then Richardson had just 42 yards on 15 preseason carries. He still has problems finding the hole or getting through it when he spots it. It was clear that Richardson was behind many of the Raiders' backup backs, including former Auburn standout Michael Dyer. There was no reason for Oakland to keep him around until the final cuts. 

What's next for Richardson? Any team giving him another chance is doing so because they remember his college tape from Alabama and must believe that there's a correctable reason he has been so bad in the NFL. If Richardson doesn't reemerge he'll go down as a massive first-round bust. Not only was he the third overall pick by Cleveland, but Indianapolis doubled down by trading a first-rounder to Cleveland to get him. Two teams invested first-round picks for Richardson for 2,032 career yards on 614 carries.

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The Raiders decided they had seen enough after three preseason games and saw the $600,000 they gave Richardson as a sunk cost. Will anyone else see anything in Richardson after that?

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: August 31, 2015, 11:11 pm

The Jacksonville Jaguars spent big money on a splashy free-agent addition, former Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas. The Jaguars, though, are going to have to wait a while to see him in action.

Thomas is expected to need surgery on a tendon in his finger and will miss 4-5 weeks, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Thomas is seeking a second opinion.

This is another tough blow for a Jaguars team that already lost pass rusher Dante Fowler, the third pick of the draft, back in his first offseason minicamp.

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Thomas suffered a broken middle finger in the Jaguars' preseason opener, but he was supposed to be ready for Week 1. Something changed in the diagnosis.

The Jaguars were hoping Thomas gave them another piece on offense to help quarterback Blake Bortles' development. They have young receivers like Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns, and are excited for rookie running back T.J. Yeldon, but Thomas would have been a nice threat, especially in the red zone. Thomas had 12 touchdowns each of the last two seasons catching balls from Denver's Peyton Manning.

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The season hasn't even started and the Jaguars lost their most exciting addition on defense for the whole season and their most exciting offensive addition for perhaps a quarter of the season. That doesn't make their rebuilding efforts any easier.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: August 31, 2015, 8:45 pm

Amid the news that Kirk Cousins was named the Week 1 starter for the Washington Redskins and that the team might be preparing an exit strategy for Robert Griffin III now comes this, one lasting reminder of the mess in D.C. that still lingers.

The Redskins' Week 1 game is against the Miami Dolphins, and the face on those tickets ... is none other than that of RG3. (h/t @DarrenRovell via Washington Post)

RGIII is on the game ticket (1st regular season game vs Dolphins) that he won't be starting in (H/T @dmeslar2) pic.twitter.com/DYkHiZth4h

— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) August 31, 2015

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It always works out this way, does it not?

Maybe the Redskins should have played the safe route and featured some of their all-time greats on the tickets. After all, it has been years since the glory days, and some of the team's former titans are the ones fans of the team still resonate most with. (John Riggins, for instance, never goes out of style.)

But then again, everything the Redskins spewed out this offseason was that Griffin was their guy, even if many people failed to believe it. We're not even convinced head coach Jay Gruden believed what he was saying as far back as February.

So. Awkward.

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Of course, this team has been a total nightmare almost since the day Daniel Snyder bought the team, so why did we expect anything different?

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: August 31, 2015, 6:41 pm

Even with the history of dysfunction surrounding the Daniel Snyder-era Washington Redskins, it's still confusing how we've gotten to this point with Robert Griffin III.

Griffin is out as the Redskins' starter. Kirk Cousins will start Week 1 and beyond, as Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. Dianna Marie Russini of ESPN broke the news.

Gruden confirmed at his Monday press conference that Cousins will start, and it's not a short-term thing. Gruden said Cousins in the starter "for 2015, moving forward."

"It's Kirk's team," Gruden said. (AP)

Gruden said that Cousins opened the organization's eyes with his work through the offseason and training camp, and complimented Griffin too.

"We believe in Robert," Gruden said. "It's a good problem to have, to have three quarterbacks who are competing."

Gruden said Snyder had nothing to do with the decision and hasn't stumped for Griffin at all. Gruden made the announcement more about what Cousins has done in practices, and not about any of Griffin's failings.

Gruden answered the obvious follow-up question, if Griffin will be on the team this season. Gruden said that he planned on Griffin being on the roster.

"I have nothing against Robert, I like Robert as a quarterback, there's no doubt about it," Gruden said. "His future with the Washington Redskins is what it is. There have been no discussions of letting him go or any of that stuff."

It was clear it wasn't injury related, since Griffin had almost two weeks to be cleared from a concussion suffered in the Redskins' second preseason game. It was definitely not because Cousins has shown he's a good NFL quarterback during the regular season. Cousins has 18 touchdowns and 19 interceptions in his career, and a poor 77.5 rating. The Redskins are 2-7 in games he has started. Cousins has had a good preseason, but the number of quarterbacks who have looked good against vanilla defenses in preseason before disappearing when games count is too high to count.

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This move just doesn't make a ton of sense based on previous moves. This offseason, after Griffin finished with three pretty good games to end the 2014 season, the Redskins picked up the $16 million option on Griffin for 2016. They expressed confidence in him all offseason.

“We think Robert is a starting quarterback: We’ve seen him win; we’ve seen him win big games,” Redskins president Bruce Allen said this offseason, according to the Washington Post. “We know his talent. It really was a no-brainer. I think if you asked us six months before it would have been the same decision.”

The Redskins had enough confidence in Griffin to put him on their ticket for the Week 1 regular-season opener against Miami:

The Redskins tickets for the season opener are #AllinForWeek1 http://t.co/SMMxTC8RSX pic.twitter.com/KfMyrWkLz9

— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) August 31, 2015

And what changed? Griffin threw 13 preseason passes. In the second game he was under constant pressure behind a leaky offensive line and got hurt. The Redskins didn't think it was that bad of an injury, since he was right back at practice, until the NFL's independent neurologist stepped in and ruled him out for the third preseason game. Even if Cousins played well in practice or preseason, the track record in the regular season is not good. 

After Griffin was ruled out last week, that was followed by another batch of leaked stories the Redskins aren't good at much, but they are unbelievably prolific in anonymously sourced stories that the Redskins want to move on from Griffin but (what a surprise) can't find a trade partner.

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So a solid finish and an offseason of praise and confidence for Griffin is flushed for Cousins, who has never shown he can be even an average NFL starter. Never change, Washington. You're not a very good team, but you certainly entertain us. 

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: August 31, 2015, 4:56 pm

Jane Rosenberg became famous, or at least her artwork did. If having your work dissected and laughed at by instant social media art critics counts as being famous.

(Twitter)Rosenberg was the Tom Brady courtroom sketch artist. You know the drawing. She drew it in a style that ended up making Brady look unlike the famous celebrity we're used to seeing. And, as folks on Twitter enjoy doing at times, people shamed her over it. Some turned it into a lighthearted thing, taking the sketch and photo-shopping it on famous images; others were downright mean. Rosenberg told the media to tell Tom Brady she was sorry, though that clearly was unnecessary. Gotta love America in 2015.

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Rosenberg was back in the courthouse with Brady on Monday morning, and her appearance led to an impromptu press conference outside. She said she has been under a lot of stress and has been practicing drawing Brady before she got another shot at it in court.

“There’s a lot of pressure on me. A lot of eyeballs on me. I just hope my hands can move, period. I know I’m not going to have any sleep tonight,” she told the New York Daily News. “I still might blow it; anything could happen.”

This seems entirely unnecessary, since Rosenberg is infinitely better at art than probably everyone who mocked her.

And even though Rosenberg had only about 10 minutes of time to capture Brady on Monday, it turned out well.

And here's Jane Rosenberg's sketch of Tom Brady from today's hearing. "It was a nightmare." pic.twitter.com/o53cEV4rUL

— Stephen Brown (@PPVSRB) August 31, 2015

Tom Brady's latest courtroom sketch is... http://t.co/oruTZawMpK pic.twitter.com/3V6ZfTMNFi

— NESN (@NESN) August 31, 2015

Her practice sketches were good, which isn't surprising considering she is an accomplished artist who has been doing courthouse sketches for a long time. 

EXCLUSIVE: The "Ugly Tom Brady" artist drew a redemption sketch. How'd she do this time? http://t.co/07KTNLdyJj pic.twitter.com/e7pPFnGUlB

— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) August 31, 2015

Rosenberg told the Daily News it's hard to draw Brady, that "something subtle goes on with his eyes. He has a big chin with a cleft in it." 

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The deflate-gate court battle seems to be winding down, so Rosenberg should soon be able to go back to doing her job in relative anonymity.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: August 31, 2015, 4:55 pm

Monday was billed as a significant day in court for both sides in the deflate-gate case, as New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell appeared at Manhattan Federal Court, but the session came and went with little progress in the proceedings.

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The most significant news to come out of the brief hearing was Judge Richard M. Berman's announcement that he will rule on the case in the next 48 hours after the two sides failed to reach a settlement for the last time. New York Daily News court reporter Stephen Brown, as always, chronicled the proceeding on Twitter.

Final push by both sides yields no settlement in#deflategate case. Berman to rule in next day or two.

— Stephen Brown (@PPVSRB) August 31, 2015

In hopes of avoiding any further appeal of his upcoming ruling, which could prolong the deflate-gate case for years, Berman had been pushing both sides to reach a deal from the moment the trial began earlier this month. New York Giants co-owner John Mara and former NFL kicker Jay Feely — a college teammate of Brady's at Michigan — reportedly participated in the final round of settlement talks. In a five-minute hearing on Monday morning, we learned Mara and Feely were unsuccessful in their attempts to resolve the case.

Brady and Goodell stood feet apart and made sure to never look at each other. Neither appeared in a good mood.

— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) August 31, 2015

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As a result, Berman will either uphold Brady's four-game suspension or vacate the penalty entirely when he rules Tuesday or Wednesday, but the losing side is expected to appeal regardless of the outcome.

Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: August 31, 2015, 3:43 pm

The Buffalo Bills are pinning their playoff hopes on a quarterback who has completed one pass in the past two years, as Tyrod Taylor will finally get his shot.

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Taylor won the Bills' starting quarterback job after impressing through the summer and then playing well in the preseason. Fox Sports' Jay Glazer reported the Bills have picked Taylor to be their Week 1 starter. He passed veteran Matt Cassell and held off EJ Manuel, a 2013 first-round pick who gave him a spirited run by playing well in the preseason.

What should we expect out of Taylor? It's hard to say since he has almost no track record in the NFL regular season.

Taylor was Joe Flacco's backup for four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens but hardly ever played. He was 19-of-35 for 199 yards over four seasons. He was 1-of-5 for 2 yards in 2013 and didn't throw a pass in 2014. But the Bills are betting on his upside. He has shown solid accuracy and good running ability this preseason. We'll see how that carries over to the regular season.

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Buffalo's roster is deep at a lot of positions, as it tries to break the NFL's longest playoff drought under new coach Rex Ryan. The biggest question the team has is quarterback. If the Bills are right about Taylor, maybe he'll still be starting for them in the postseason.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: August 31, 2015, 3:42 pm

Monday was a busy day in the NFL for trades, even if none of them involved major players.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers dealt tight end Tim Wright to the Detroit Lions to give them another pass-catching tight end. But isn't that what Eric Ebron, the 10th overall pick of the 2014 draft, was supposed to provide?

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Wright got off to a nice start early last season with the New England Patriots after coming over from Tampa Bay in the Logan Mankins deal but was an afterthought down the title stretch. He was waived and claimed by the Bucs, who originally signed Wright after he went undrafted in 2013.

Ebron isn't in any trouble for a roster spot, but there is growing concern that he might never fulfill his massive potential — even a little more than a year into his tenure there. But Ebron seems unaffected by the news of the Wright deal or his status on the team.

Lol.. People So Concerned About Me

— Eric Ebron (@Ebron85) August 31, 2015

The Denver Broncos shipped offensive tackle Chris Clark to the Houston Texans for a seventh-round pick in 2016. Clark will provide the Texans with depth behind starters Duane Brown and Derek Newton after Clark was deemed a poor fit in Gary Kubiak's offense in Denver.

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The Pittsburgh Steelers now are on their third kicker of the year. The Jacksonville Jaguars traded Josh Scobee, who has been with the team since being a fifth-round pick in 2004, to the Steelers after the injury Garrett Hartley suffered was found to be more serious than expected. Hartley was signed during training camp after Shaun Suisham suffered a season-ending injury.

The wide receiver-needy Carolina Panthers were stung with the injury to Kelvin Benjamin, and rookie Devin Funchess (the man most equipped to replace him there) appeared to hurt his left leg in practice, so they swung a deal for former Seattle Seahawks fourth-round pick Kevin Norwood. There had been a report that Norwood was released, but he was shipped to Carolina instead after being the odd man out in a crowded Seattle receiver situation. He caught only nine passes for 102 yards in nine games (two starts) as a rookie out of Alabama.  

As NFL teams start whittling their rosters down from 90 to 75 players on or before Tuesday, there might be a few more minor deals that happen.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: August 31, 2015, 3:25 pm

As if the NFL didn't have enough controversy 10 days from the 2015 season opener between the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers, Sony Pictures just released the trailer for "Concussion," a movie based on the true story of the doctor who discovered the link between football and head trauma.

On the same day NFL commissioner Roger Goodell appeared in court opposite Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Sports Illustrated's Peter King unveiled the two-minute trailer in his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback column, and it doesn't exactly shine a favorable light on the league.

Based on the 2009 GQ article, "Game Brain," the film chronicles the real-life story of Dr. Bennet Omalu (played by Will Smith), the Nigerian-born neuropathologist who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — a brain disease brought on by repeated blows to the head — while performing an autopsy on deceased Steelers legend and Hall of Fame center Mike Webster in September 2002.

In the film, Omalu's discovery is met with resistance from the NFL, which correctly viewed his science as damaging to the business of football and allegedly attempted to discredit his work. The conflict of an accomplished man who came to America to pursue his dream, only to be disparaged by those who control the country's most beloved sport, appears to be captured brilliantly by Smith.

The trailer begins with Smith's character saying, "I am the wrong person to have discovered this," and ends with him demanding NFL executives "tell the truth" about a disease believed to be the cause of dementia, memory loss and depression resulting in numerous deaths of football players, including the 2012 suicide of newly inducted Hall of Famer Junior Seau, whose autopsy was also conducted by Omalu.

For anyone who read "Game Brain," the portrayal of the NFL as the film's antagonist should come as no surprise, since Omalu pulled no punches when describing the league's response to his July 2005 study for Neurosurgery entitled "Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in a National Football League Player."

"I was naive," the doctor told GQ six years ago. "There are times I wish I never looked at Mike Webster’s brain. It has dragged me into worldly affairs I do not want to be associated with. Human meanness, wickedness, and selfishness. People trying to cover up, to control how information is released. I started this not knowing I was walking into a minefield. That is my only regret."

Really, the only surprising aspect of the trailer is that Goodell is played by Luke Wilson, who is apparently going against type after portraying Joe Bauers, the last beacon of intelligence in the 2006 film "Idiocracy."

As for the conclusions we will draw from a film that also stars Alec Baldwin and Albert Brooks, "Concussion" director Peter Landesman addressed any potential controversy in his Q&A with MMQB

I have no position on whether or not people should play football or whether they should have their kids play football. To me, this is a story about making adult choices. Once you have the information — and the information has been obscured for a long time, it’s been buried and covered up by people who don’t want to damage the sport — the information is now out there and I hope this movie brings together the information in a way that the general public can metabolize and now make their own decisions. So now that you know that concussions can kill you and playing the sport can kill you, it’s on every parent and it’s on every college player, it’s on every high school player and professional player on whether you are going to let your child play. It’s the same with smoking, drinking and doing drugs. I like to think in some ways that life is an occupational hazard. Something we do in our life is going to kill us; maybe now, maybe [50] years from now. You have to choose what those things are. We love to drink and be merry and be happy, we know it’s not good for us, but we do it. It’s about making adult choices.

Interestingly, Landesman said he held a private screening for Chris Borland, who recently retired from the NFL at age 24 over concerns about the effects of concussions, and the former San Francisco 49ers linebacker was visibly "shaken and shaking" after watching his worst fears play out on the big screen.

The film is scheduled to be released for the general public in theaters on Christmas Day.

Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: August 31, 2015, 2:28 pm

Nothing lasts forever in the NFL, not even Fred Jackson playing running back for the Buffalo Bills.

Jackson, who was with the Bills since 2006 and became a fan favorite, was cut when the team sliced the roster to 75 players, according to Yahoo's Charles Robinson. Jackson just returned from a hamstring injury for the Bills' third preseason game. He had a 41-yard run in what would be his last action with Buffalo.

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The Bills had plenty of depth at running back, as they get ready to run Rex Ryan's ground-and-pound plan, and the 34-year-old Jackson didn't fit the plans anymore. Jackson's Bills career ends with 5,646 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns.

Jackson was undrafted out of Coe College, and played in indoor football and NFL Europe before finally getting a shot with the Bills. Given his humble beginnings and his productivity into his 30s, he was very popular in Buffalo.

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"Today we had to make the difficult decision to release Fred Jackson," Bills general manager Doug Whaley said in a statement. "He had an incredible career for this organization for the past 10 years. We thank Fred for his hard work, dedication and leadership during his tenure with the Buffalo Bills. Fred has inspired the city of Buffalo in a number of ways. Fred and his family have been dedicated to this community and we can't thank them enough for their contributions through his career."

Jackson now has time to catch on with a new team. He has beat the odds to make it before.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: August 31, 2015, 2:27 pm

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Chris Owusu is certainly not short of options. The New York Jets wide receiver has a degree from Stanford, after all. He's from a family of high achievers with a brother at Stanford, another at Harvard and a sister at Columbia. But Owusu realizes that his NFL career might go at any moment because of his history of concussions.

He was an undrafted free agent signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012, bypassed by all 32 teams despite his strong college career and a good showing at the NFL combine. One possible reason was a history of concussions, and it was something that happened to him again just a couple weeks ago.

Owusu has had a total of four concussions since he started playing college football, three while at Stanford including two his senior year and then one this August in training camp. At 25 years old, he should be entering the prime of his NFL career, especially after a camp where he was the best wide receiver on the Jets' roster after Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker.

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"Football is a very, very fun sport," Owusu told Shutdown Corner. "It can be rewarding, but it is also going to take a lot of sacrifice."

And for Owusu, he has to hope it doesn't take his mind away prematurely. He has a history of head injuries and has yet to play more than nine games in an NFL season. But this season, with the Jets' wide-open roster, Owusu has a chance to make the team and be a contributor on special teams and offense. This past Monday after suffering the first concussion of his NFL career early in training camp, Owusu returned to the practice field. He played Saturday night against the New York Giants and opened the game with a 41-yard kickoff return then had a 32-yard kickoff return in the second quarter.

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But there was a monkey wrench thrown into those plans as his latest concussion now makes it three in five years he has suffered.

"It's tough because I haven't been put in this situation for three years," Owusu said. "My symptoms didn't get worse. It was like, hey, I had another concussion. Obviously you think about long-term risk. I do a lot of things to prepare my head: I read books, I take fish oils. In many ways, I think I'm ahead of people who don't take care of their heads. I'm not thinking too far down the line, I'm just competing. 

"My mom, she's a mom. She's told me — it's been a couple [times] now — to be careful. 'We support you, but maybe go down more.'"

He chuckles before turning serious.

"My parents talked to me about options. It wasn't what to do, it was what to think about moving forward," Owusu said. "And I respect my family so much that I listen, I consider it. I will listen."

Their advice, he says is "to consider going out there and using my Stanford degree."

It's something Owusu might have to consider doing if football doesn't work out.

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Kristian R. Dyer writes for Metro New York and is a contributor to Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KristianRDyer. Email him at kristianrdyer@yahoo.com

 

Author: Kristian Dyer
Posted: August 31, 2015, 1:06 pm

It's been almost 72 hours since the last weird Robert Griffin III saga, so it's about time we had a fresh one.

You'll remember the Washington Redskins announced Griffin was cleared of concussion symptoms on Thursday to play in this weekend's preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens, and then not cleared upon further review "by neuropsychologists" on Friday. Just another 24 hours in the life of the Redskins.

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Cut to Sunday, when ESPN's Dianna Russini and Adam Schefter together, with help from Chris Mortensen, cited team and league sources who suggested owner Daniel Snyder is resisting pressure from both coach Jay Gruden's staff and front-office officials to either trade or cut the former No. 2 overall pick.

Except, in a matter of hours, Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio refuted the ESPN report, citing three sources who claim Snyder, Gruden and new general manager Scot McCloughan all remain on the same page regarding Griffin. One of Florio's sources even went so far as to dub the ESPN report "spaghetti journalism."

In fact, a two-hour meeting between Snyder and McCloughan about the concussion weirdness may have been the impetus for the reported rift between ownership and football operations, according to Florio. All of which makes the latest on Griffin so very Redskins. What Florio's story does not refute, however, is that Washington may be prepared to cut ties with RGIII when NFL teams pare rosters down to 53 on Saturday.

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According to ESPN, the Redskins engaged multiple teams in trade talks about Griffin to no avail. The concussion further complicates matters. If RGIII is injured during the regular season, he must be cleared to play before being cut in order to avoid guaranteeing his $16.15 million salary in 2016, per The Washinton Post. Given his injury history, that's a risky play for teams who would otherwise be interested in his services.

Meanwhile, the Redskins put together their most complete preseason performance on Saturday, sans Griffin, as quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy combined to complete 30-of-39 pass attempts for 285 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-13 win over the Ravens. In two previous preseason appearances, Griffin was 6-of-13 for 44 yards and zero scores, further lending credence to questions about his future in Washington. 

Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: August 31, 2015, 12:32 pm

It has become fairly obvious based on training-camp reports and preseason performances that Trent Richardson has an uphill climb to make the Oakland Raiders' 53-man roster. 

The former No. 3 overall pick has struggled, rushing 15 times for 42 yards. Yes, he burst through the hole, just like the salad days at Alabama, for a 15-yard gain late against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday night. But it was a glimpse of what was, not what is.

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Latavius Murray is the Raiders' starter, and it appears that Roy Helu, Taiwan Jones and even Michael Dyer, Richardson's former rival and counterpart from Auburn who has taken the roundabout way to the NFL as an undrafted rookie, look like better options in the backfield. Throw in versatile fullback Marcel Reece, and Richardson is a candidate to be slashed from the roster as early as Tuesday.

Richardson now could be traded or released by three teams — three teams that have struggled to run the ball consistently in recent years, mind you — in a span of 23 months, and we could be looking at one of the biggest top-of-the-draft busts in the past 15-20 years.

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It's easy to forget just how good this guy was in college and at least where Richardson stood following a promising rookie season with the Cleveland Browns. At worst, he looked like a functional power back with a little burst but little big-play prowess. There have been plenty of those backs who have made a decent career for themselves; think Alfred Morris and what he has become.

That could have been Richardson. Instead, we're left to wonder if he even will get another chance this season in the NFL. 

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: August 31, 2015, 11:21 am

In a move that could kickstart the Chicago Bears' identity shift on defense, the team has released cornerback Tim Jennings.

The 31-year-old Jennings had started 74 of the past 80 games for the Bears at corner and had four- and nine-interception seasons for them in 2013 and 2012, respectively. He has played nine years in the NFL, with his first four seasons coming with the Indianapolis Colts.

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Jennings is not considered an ideal fit with the Bears' new defensive scheme, which promises to be more man-coverage heavy. His best skill is in zone coverage, and he might be able to fit a number of teams that play that as their primary coverage.

Former Bears head coach Lovie Smith is running the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense and could convince Jennings to sign there. The New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys also are possibilities, with both teams perhaps seeking more secondary depth.

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The handwriting was on the wall Saturday night when Jennings was playing in the fourth quarter of the Bears game against the Cincinnati Bengals alongside third-team defenders. He was the sixth cornerback to enter the game.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: August 30, 2015, 10:41 pm

San Diego Chargers offensive players were unhappy with Seattle Seahawks rookie Frank Clark after they believe he tried to punch quarterback Philip Rivers on Saturday night, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

After a sack by Jordan Hill, Clark was seen scrapping with Chargers offensive players. Left tackle King Dunlap yanked Clark out of the scrum and received a 15-yard penalty, but it's one Dunlap said he'll take to protect his quarterback, whom his Chargers teammates believed was being mistreated.

The U-T story quotes an unnamed Chargers player with the punching claim. Those who put their name to the story:

"That guy was on top of Philip, and that's our quarterback," Dunlap said. "I protect the quarterback at all costs."

Added right guard D.J. Fluker:

"That's our quarterback. We're going to protect the jewel of our offense."

Clark has had an interesting entry to the NFL. He was a second-round pick of the Seahawks and their top overall selection despite a rocky history at Michigan, which included expulsion for his involvement in a domestic violence arrest that later was plea bargained down to a misdemeanor last spring. The Seahawks say they did ample background work on Clark and have sought to give him a second chance in Seattle, but the pick earned quite a bit of negative attention locally.

Clark had a fantastic preseason debut with the Seahawks and looks to fit the mold of the team's feisty, ferocious defense. From the video of the Rivers play, it's tough to tell what Clark was guilty of.

When asked about the play in question, Clark relayed a story (via the Seattle Times) to the media after the game abour Richard Sherman telling him to try to keep his emotions in check.

“Man this game, it’s a lot of emotions involved," Clark said. “I’m a real emotional player but there are ways you react and ways you don’t react. You’ve got to be smart in this game. That was something Sherm was telling me afterwards, that whole thing, even though I didn’t get called for anything, just to avoid situations like that.”

Clark will make this Seahawks team, and it's not clear — beyond the Chargers' accusations — exactly what he did wrong. But avoiding any bad situation right now sounds like a good idea for the rookie.

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: August 30, 2015, 10:29 pm

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