Duvall, Kontos help Giants beat Phillies (Yahoo Sports) - PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Two same-day call-ups helped the San Francisco Giants stay ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ortiz homers twice, Red Sox rout Blue Jays 14-1 (Yahoo Sports) - David Ortiz hit the 452nd and 453rd home runs of his career, moving past Boston great Carl Yastrzemski into 36th place on the all-time list, and the Red Sox won their fifth straight game Monday night, routing the Toronto Blue Jays 14-1. Ortiz matched Yastrzemski with a two-run blast to center off left-hander Brad Mills in the fourth, then broke the short-lived tie with another two-run shot off Mills in the fifth, his 21st and 22nd homers of the season. Ortiz's first homer ended his 0-for-18 skid against Toronto and an 0-for-11 slump overall. Mike Napoli followed Ortiz's second shot with his 12th homer, the fourth time this season Boston has gone back-to-back. Giants sign Dan Uggla to minor-league deal (Yahoo Sports) - PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The San Francisco Giants have signed former All-Star second baseman Dan Uggla to a minor league contract. Bills DT Dareus to enter substance abuse program (Yahoo Sports) - Marcell Dareus' attorney says the Buffalo Bills' defensive tackle has agreed to enter an NFL substance abuse program in a bid to have felony drug charges in Alabama dismissed. Rod Giddens wrote in an email to The Associated Press on Monday that Dareus was allowed to enter the program during a hearing at Calhoun County Court in Alabama earlier in the day. Dareus attended the hearing while being excused from training camp in suburban Rochester, New York. Gerrard backs Hodgson for England - Steven Gerrard backs Roy Hodgson to lead England to success after announcing his retirement from international football. 'No standout choice' for England - Bryan Robson believes there is not a standout candidate to replace Steven Gerrard as captain, but backs Wayne Rooney. Manziel scores as NFL's top-selling jersey (Yahoo Sports) - Second on Cleveland's depth chart, Johnny Manziel already tops one NFL list. The popular rookie quarterback, who will begin his first training camp this week as a backup, had the league's top-selling jersey since April 1. The league said Monday that Manziel's No. 2 outsold all others from April 1 to July 17 on NFLShop.com. Manziel is followed on the list by three quarterbacks: Seattle's Russell Wilson, San Francisco's Colin Kapernick and Denver's Peyton Manning. Witness: Sterling needs Clippers sale to pay debts (Yahoo Sports) - The chief financial officer of Donald Sterling's properties said Monday that the billionaire may be forced to sell a large portion of his real estate empire to cover $500 million in loans if he persists in refusing to sell the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion. Darren Schield, who oversees the finances of The Sterling Family Trust, testified Monday that three banks are ready to recall their loans to Sterling because of his decision to dissolve the trust. His move was designed to rescind his signed agreement for the sale of the Clippers, a team he bought for $12 million. Schield said if Sterling has to dump $500 million worth of apartment buildings he could destabilize the Los Angeles real estate market. Cain heads to DL with elbow injury (Yahoo Sports) - PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The San Francisco Giants have placed righty Matt Cain on the disabled list because of elbow inflammation. Nick Young signs deal to stay with Lakers (Yahoo Sports) - EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) -- Free-agent guard Nick Young has signed a multiyear deal to stay with the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Bar owner: Titans rookie QB Zach Mettenberger sucker punched [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 21, 2014, 7:25 pm]
A Nashville bar owner says that Tennessee Titans rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger was sucker punched at the popular watering hole when the patron didn't like what Mettenberger said about his college football team. "Here's the truth: The guy said something about 'Roll Tide!' to Zach, and Zach turned around and said 'Good luck with that,' " Steve Ford, owner of Loser's Most Wanted Bar & Grill, told the Tennessean. "And the guy's buddy then sucker-punched Zach. "I promise you that Mettenberger did not throw a punch. He didn't do anything. The guy sucker-punched him in the eye, that's the bottom line, and the guy that punched him started running out the door. My door guys had to chase him down." [ Smack talk season is back at Yahoo Sports: Sign up and play free Fantasy Football!] Mettenberger did not require medical attention despite getting hit in the face. The Titans declined comment following the report on Monday. The sixth-round pick is expected to come into camp and compete for a job behind Jake Locker and Charlie Whitehurst, the expected top two quarterbacks when the Titans report to camp Friday. There had been rumors on a fan message board that Mettenberger had broken his hand in the altercation, but he denied that to the Tennessean. The bar owners said that Mettenberger and Titans first-round pick Taylor Lewan had been to the bar before, and Lewan tweeted the night of the alleged incident that he was at Loser's. It's apparently a closed case, or more aptly, one that never was opened. Neither party is expected to press charges in the incident, despite Loser's bar bouncers chasing down the man who allegedly hit Mettenberger. "It is what it is and it's over. No one is pressing charges," Ford said. "It shouldn't have happened to begin with. The guy said 'Roll Tide.' He tried to provoke him. But Zach did not throw one punch, period. I was standing right next to him." - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Emai

Browns rookie Johnny Manziel has the highest-selling jersey in the NFL [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 21, 2014, 5:20 pm]
You may love Johnny Manziel or cringe every time someone brings up his name, but the Browns rookie quarterback is predictably selling a lot of jerseys. Manziel's No. 2 Browns jersey is the top seller in the NFL for the first quarter of the league's fiscal year, ESPN.com reported. Manziel beat out Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Denver quarterback Peyton Manning. Rams rookie defensive end Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by the NFL, came in sixth, ESPN.com said.  [ Smack talk season is back at Yahoo Sports: Sign up and play free Fantasy Football!] There might be some asterisks involved here, because it seems like everyone in the Seattle area bought three Wilson jerseys long before Manziel was drafted in the first round by Cleveland, but it's still a sign that Manziel will be a popular figure for this season and beyond. He doesn't even have a starting job yet – that still belongs to Brian Hoyer – but that's not stopping people from investing in his jersey. Hey, if it's good enough for LeBron James, it's good enough for the rest of us. And if Manziel's buddy Justin Bieber starts rocking Johnny Football's jersey during his shows, look out. A whole new market might open up for the No. 2 Browns jersey. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Shutdown Countdown: Carolina Panthers become the hunted in the NFC South [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 21, 2014, 5:00 pm]
Shutdown Corner is previewing all 32 teams as we get ready for the NFL season, counting down the teams one per day in reverse order or our initial 2014 power rankings. No. 1 will be revealed on Aug. 2, the day before the preseason begins with the Hall of Fame Game in Canton. If you believe in regression to the mean, especially when it comes to luck in close games, the 2013 Carolina Panthers were the team to invest in. And, the 2014 Carolina Panthers might be a team to be wary of. Two years ago, the Panthers were a staggering 1-7 in games decided by less than a touchdown. There's a lot of bad luck involved in that. That had to change, and did it ever. The Panthers were 5-2 in such games last year with some doozies, like when the refs picked up the flag on the last-play pass interference against the Patriots or the incredible last-minute rally against the Saints. Carolina went 12-4, and the Panthers earned that. They were a good team, with a great young quarterback and a ridiculous front seven on defense. They'll be a good team again this year, but there are some reasons for concern. Carolina's three biggest weaknesses last season were probably the secondary, offensive line and receivers, and they took major hits in all three areas. So those spots are really weak now. The Panthers had an offseason plan, and that was to get out of the salary-cap mess they were in. General manager Dave Gettleman was dead set on not starting that cycle again by signing back-loaded contracts this offseason. That's smart, but the catch is that they added very little this offseason while losing a lot. The Panthers will be better off in 2016 and 2017 for that approach, and we'll be sure to note that in those previews. But for 2014, there are some issues. Maybe Cam Newton is good enough to overcome the deck that's stacked against him (and he might be), and the defense is still going to be fantastic. Just don't expect 12-4 again this season. 2013 review in less than 25 words: The Panthers wer

Tony Dungy says he would not want to 'deal with' Michael Sam distractions [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 21, 2014, 4:13 pm]
Tony Dungy has always had a strong voice on African-American issues and even was a guiding light for Michael Vick at his lowest point. But the former Buccaneers and Colts head coach told the Tampa Bay Tribune he would not have wanted to help shepherd Michael Sam into the NFL if he was still coaching. “I wouldn’t have taken him,’’ said Dungy, now an analyst for NBC. “Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it. “It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.’’ [ Smack talk season is back at Yahoo Sports: Sign up and play free Fantasy Football!] Things almost happened with an Oprah-led TV crew was set to roll into St. Louis to tell Sam's story, but following some negative backlash to that announcement, Sam's camp announced that the Own Network project would be put on hold, which is industry talk for "someone tried to bury this thing in the desert." Speaking of backlash, Dungy will receive some. This will not make for a popular stance among the media, who typically look to Dungy with respect on his opinions, and it appears to fly slightly in the face of what he has said on the topic previously. When asked prior to the draft about Sam's place in the NFL after he had revealed to the world he was gay, Dungy said (via NBC Channel 2 in Terre Haute, Ind.): "The NFL has always been based on merit, and I think that will continue to be the case with Michael Sam and the issue homosexuality or anything else. Guys who produce and play well will be welcomed into the league." There was far more vitriol against Vick when he re-entered the league than what Sam has faced. As in exponentially more. If there are people protesting Sam's place in the NFL, they will be in the mostly shunned and marginalized minority. No one is debating whether Sam belongs in the NFL, the way the convicted dog fighter Vick was after the Eagles signed him. But Dungy acted as a mentor to Vick, and his e

Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Marcell Dareus fails conditioning test [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 21, 2014, 2:03 pm]
It hasn't been the best few months for the Buffalo Bills' promising defense, and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus has been a big reason for that. Dareus, who earlier this offseason was busted for both possession of synthetic marijuana and for drag racing, failed his initial conditioning test run as the team reported to training camp. Dareus will remain on the active/non-football injury list until he can pass the test.  Doug Marrone: DT Marcell Dareus failed his conditioning test upon reporting for camp. "He needs to focus on getting himself ready"— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) July 20, 2014 [ Smack talk season is back at Yahoo Sports: Sign up and play free Fantasy Football!] "He's not the only one, but obviously you want your players to come in and be ready to go," head coach Doug Marrone said Sunday, per ESPN.com. "We're here for a long period of time and we'll make up for it." Is Dareus committed to football after a bad few months where you easily could call that into question? Marrone said he believes so. "I think that's what he'll be ready to do and that's been my conversations with him," Marrone said. The Bills' defense, which ranked in the top 10 a year ago, is changing coordinators from Mike Pettine, who left to take the Cleveland Browns' head-coaching job, to Jim Schwartz. They already have lost one of their best playmakers in Kiko Alonso, who was coming off a fantastic rookie season. - - - - - - - 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

Jameis Winston is serious about baseball, but would he choose it over the NFL? [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 21, 2014, 1:36 pm]
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner, has one more year to be a college football star before his inevitable leap to the pros. But are we sure that his pro choice is football? Winston, who has been predicted by some as a possible first pick of the 2015 draft, clearly loves baseball too. He's a relief pitcher for the Seminoles, and he's very good at both sports. Pat Forde's column examining Winston's answers at ACC media days was interesting (and you can read it all here), but one comment in particular caught my eye: On whether Winston wants to go pro in both football and baseball: "I do. That's something I put my mind to. If someday comes and I have to make a decision [between the two sports], I'm confident I'll make the right decision." That's not even a comment that requires someone to read between the lines. He spoke clearly about choosing between the two sports when that time comes, and he likely will have to choose one at some point. While it seems inconceivable that a quarterback who will probably be a top 10 NFL pick despite some off-field questions would choose baseball, read his comment again. And here's what his father said about Winston's baseball career earlier this year:  "We have heard for him to go in the first round of the baseball draft then he will have to give up football," Antonor Winston told AL.com. This doesn't appear to be some daydream. Winston and/or his family have looked into the matter of a baseball career, it appears. And Winston is a talented pitcher, with a 1.08 ERA in 33.1 innings pitched this past season. He limited opposing batters to a .154 average. If everything is equal, having a longer, probably concussion-free career in baseball has to be considered. Especially since baseball's more lucrative guaranteed contracts make the NFL's smaller and non-guaranteed deals look like a joke. I don't think Winston picks baseball. I also don't think any NFL team would allow him to play two sports, bec

Rex Ryan thinks he's a great coach, and really, why shouldn't he think that? [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 21, 2014, 12:43 pm]
Rex Ryan gets attention for things he says because he says a lot of attention-grabbing things. But the New York Jets head coach isn't saying anything ridiculous when he says he believes he's a great coach. "Do I think that I'm a great coach? I absolutely know I'm a great coach," Ryan told the New York Daily News. "But it's not just about me. What makes a great coach is the people that surround you, the people that are with you every day. There's guys that help me be a great coach. My players help me be a great coach." [ Smack talk season is back at Yahoo Sports: Sign up and play free Fantasy Football!] We tend to measure great-coach things by what a handful of NFL head coaches do and say and how they act — ahem, Bill Belichick — and Ryan often finds himself outside that discussion, especially now that it has been three seasons since the Jets had a winning record. But Ryan also has done some fairly remarkable things, even during that middling stretch, all things considered. The Jets are two games below .500 over the past two seasons and yet probably should have been far worse, having been outscored by a whopping 191 points over those 32 games. That's incredible. That's coaching. So is working around the fact that the Jets have had mostly terrible quarterback play the past two seasons (a laughable combined TD-INT ratio of 17-41) and having an aging defense lose several key pieces. You could argue that Rex coaxing as many wins as he has the past few seasons has been fairly strong proof of his coaching ability. Still, Rex isn't saying he's the next George Halas. "I'm not saying that I'm the best or whatever… or the best of all time," Ryan said. "I just know that I'm the best that I can be. I know that I'm willing to do the work. I may have limitations. I get that. But nobody's going to convince me that they're more passionate about their job than I am… and that they're more passionate about their organization than me." Ryan is an easy target. He's bombastic

Reports: New York Giants offensive guard Chris Snee to retire [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 21, 2014, 11:53 am]
Chris Snee no longer has to worry about being five minutes early, even if Tom Coughlin will remain in his life after football. Snee, the former Pro Bowl guard for the New York Giants, has informed the team on the eve of training camp that he intends to retire, per various reports. Big Blue Interactive first had the news, and ESPN followed with a report confirming Snee's intentions to walk away from the game after 10 seasons. I am now being told that Giants G Chris Snee has indeed decided to retire and plans to announce it Monday.— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) July 21, 2014 Snee, who married Coughlin's daughter, was a key figure in the Giants' two Super Bowl victories over the past decade, and his absence will leave the Giants with the trio of Eli Manning, Victor Cruz and Henry Hynoski as the only offensive players remaining from the Super Bowl XLVI-winning roster. Obviously, the timing on this is not great. But the Giants, we've heard for a few months, had been planning on life without Snee and would have been prepared had he decided to play this season. Apparently, the wear and tear on Snee's body after a 141-game career was too much. He suffered hip and elbow injuries last season, which cut his year short after only three starts. The Giants signed former Dolphin John Jerry and former Chief Geoff Schwartz in the offseason and actually have decent depth at guard with former fourth-rounders James Brewer and Brandon Mosley on the roster. They also have a competition at center between J.D. Walton and rookie Weston Richburg, and the loser of that battle could provide backup support at the other interior spots. But, of course, Snee isn't done with Coughlin in retirement from the NFL. Now family duties are his only gig, it appears.

Rams linebacker and former NBA player arrested for fighting outside nightclub [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 20, 2014, 8:35 pm]
Here's a good one: A linebacker and a power forward walk into a bar ... well, whatever happened in there eventually led to a fight outside. Rams linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar and former Sacramento Kings player Donte Greene were arrested for fighting each other outside of a Miami Beach nightclub early Sunday morning, according to the Associated Press. They could each be charged with battery and disorderly conduct, a police spokesperson told the AP. We're used to NFL and NBA players being pals, so what could these two have been arguing about? If LeBron James would have been better off picking a career as a tight end? Whatever led to the altercation, it happened outside the Dream Nightclub in South Beach. Dunbar was getting in his last bit of fun before Rams training camp starts, and Greene was there too. The 6-11 Greene played four seasons with the Sacramento Kings, but hasn't appeared in the NBA since the end of the 2012 season. One would assume being arrested for a nightclub fight won't spark his comeback. Dunbar is no stranger to driving the Rams nuts with his off-field trouble. He was suspended for four games to start the 2013 season for a violation of the league's PED policy. He came back to start 10 games for the Rams and is being counted on to start this season. The good news for the Rams is there's no NBA team in St. Louis, therefore no NBA players in town during the season to agitate their linebacker. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Shutdown Countdown: St. Louis Rams still one (important) piece away [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 20, 2014, 5:05 pm]
Shutdown Corner is previewing all 32 teams as we get ready for the NFL season, counting down the teams one per day in reverse order or our initial 2014 power rankings. No. 1 will be revealed on Aug. 2, the day before the preseason begins with the Hall of Fame Game in Canton. It had to be hard for the St. Louis Rams to pass on Robert Griffin III, especially when RG3 was setting the NFL on fire and winning offensive rookie of the year. But that trade has helped set the foundation for what is suddenly a very good roster. The defensive line might be the best in the NFL. They have two great playmaking linebackers in Alec Ogletree amd James Laurinaitis, who might pull a Luke Kuechly-Thomas Davis routine for years to come. The offensive line has improved tremendously and should be much better as No. 2 overall pick Greg Robinson develops. The running game is in good shape, with a couple of interesting young backs. This is a surprisingly strong team, with just one question. But that one question is a pretty significant one: Is Sam Bradford good enough to take the Rams anywhere? There are two ways to build a winner in the NFL. You can hit the Drew Brees/Peyton Manning/Aaron Rodgers/Tom Brady Hall of Fame quarterback lottery. Having a quarterback like that covers up dozens of flaws. It's not essential though. Russell Wilson isn't the best quarterback in the NFL. He has a ring. Joe Flacco is average. He has a ring. Eli Manning is an interception machine, and he has two rings. But all of those guys are capable of streaks of greatness (and in Wilson's case, maybe he'll end up in that rare top tier), and had tremendous supporting casts. The Rams have the supporting cast. But going into Bradford's fifth season, we're still not sure what he's capable of. Bradford has had 1,760 NFL passes, which isn't a small sample size. He has not given anyone reason to believe he can be great. There isn't even a ton of evidence he can be good. But the hope is that last year was the start of a brea

Shutdown Countdown: Arizona Cardinals ... good team, wrong division [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 19, 2014, 1:26 pm]
Shutdown Corner is previewing all 32 teams as we get ready for the NFL season, counting down the teams one per day in reverse order or our initial 2014 power rankings. No. 1 will be revealed on Aug. 2, the day before the preseason begins with the Hall of Fame Game in Canton. The Arizona Cardinals had a nice 2013 season. For the first time this decade, they had a winning season. They finished 10-6 and their season included a win at Seattle. Arizona was the only team to win there all season. The defense was strong, and had a breakout rookie in safety Tyrann Mathieu. The offense got a fine sophomore season from receiver Michael Floyd, and should feel good about his future. And the problem last year is the same problem they face this year: The Cardinals play in the toughest division in football. Arizona, whose 10 wins weren't good enough to qualify for the playoffs, is the first NFC West team to make an appearance on our countdown, and it's at No. 15 (yes, we're high on the Rams). We think the Cardinals are a top 15 NFL team, and a last place team too. That tells you something about the NFC West. Not only are the Cardinals in a tough division, but the NFC has many quality wild-card contenders. If Arizona was in the AFC, they'd probably be an easy playoff pick. The situation in Arizona isn't bleak, there's just a massive challenge because of the schedule. There is a lot of good talent – Mathieu, Floyd, running back Andre Ellington, receiver Larry Fitzgerald, defensive linemen Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell and cornerback Patrick Peterson – and a good coaching staff. The Cardinals should feel pretty good about where the franchise is right now. They have a good team. It's just in the wrong division. 2013 review in less than 25 words: After a 3-4 start, Arizona won seven of eight games. The Cardinals' season ended with a last-second loss to the 49ers. Is the roster better, worse or about the same?: It was probably a little better before Daryl Washington got himsel

Vikings suspend assistant three games for homophobic comment to Chris Kluwe [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 19, 2014, 1:36 am]
After former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe wrote an article for Deadspin in January, claiming special teams coach Mike Priefer made homophobic remarks to him, that the Vikings discouraged him from supporting marriage equality and his support of equal rights was the reason he was cut, the Vikings launched an investigation.  The Vikings released a report on the investigation, and Kluwe wasn't pleased with it. Priefer was suspended three games for making a homophobic remark to Kluwe after becoming frustrated that he and long snapper Cullen Loeffler weren't focused during practice. The report, done by a "nationally-prominent law firm in employment matters and one of the top-ranked and recognized firms for diversity" according to the Vikings, did not find evidence that the Vikings discouraged Kluwe from speaking out on marriage equality or equal rights. The report also didn't find evidence that he was cut for anything other than poor performance. The Vikings said all employees will participate in "annual anti-harassment, diversity and sexual-orientation sensitivity training," and the team will donate$100,000 to LGBT rights charitable and educational organizations. Also in the report, released by the Vikings, Kluwe was blamed for some of his own actions. Here is that passage from the report: "Kluwe’s locker room behavior stood out to some interviewees and included stories about  Kluwe dropping his pants in front of 20-25 business people as they were being escorted through the locker room on a tour. Interviewees also recalled Kluwe making fun of the coaches’ speeches on the white board in the locker room and leaving it there even when the press came in. Kluwe also made fun of the Vikings’ then Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Tom Kanavy, an alumnus of‒and former coach at‒Penn State University, concerning the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State situation. In his interview, Kanavy explained that Kluwe cut the seat out of his pants and then put them on to imitate a vict

Watch Packers LB A.J. Hawk lay out willing fan at golf tournament [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 18, 2014, 4:53 pm]
There are plenty of fan fantasies that don't result in bruised ribs. You can dream about throwing the ball around with your favorite quarterback, maybe trying to make contact off the ace pitcher on your favorite baseball team. For one NFL fan, the idea of being tackled by Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk at the American Century Championship pro-am golf tournament struck him as a great and fun idea. This isn't something we'd recommend. But we will laugh at it. Hawk didn't put his all into the tackle ... although he didn't exactly patty cake him either. It actually looked like this might have hurt, as one would expect when a 235-pound NFL linebacker has a free shot at someone. Though, the fan bounced up right away. Seems like an awesome time. But hey, the guy got what he wanted: A pretty cool story and the internal injuries to back it up. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Bill Belichick is fan of Thursday night games, wants more of them for Patriots [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 18, 2014, 3:58 pm]
It took a while, but we've finally found someone who actually has to participate in the ridiculously short week before "Thursday Night Football" who loves those games. New England coach Bill Belichick is a big fan. The three-day prep time is good with him. And, if he had his way, the Patriots would play on Thursday night multiple times. Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Belichick “likes the Thursday night games and would be happy to have more than one in a season," per NESN. Why? The NESN story said the Patriots feel Thursday night games give an edge to better-prepared teams, and here's where you roll your eyes over the arrogance of the Patriots. It's easy for Belichick to stump for more Thursday night games, considering he's not the one dragging his body into a physical NFL game four days after taking a pounding on a Sunday. He does have a point, however. If a team has an edge over its opponent with a short preparation time, it might get a win and also what is roughly another bye week before its next game. Coaches value that. And as hard as playing with a short turnaround is, players enjoy the extra days off too. "Thursday Night Football" has been a mixed bag. The games have been often sloppy, and it's easy to wonder how the toll of playing twice in a few days affects players later during the season. There have been many player complaints. The games have often been throwaway contests on the schedule too, although that is changing now that CBS is broadcasting half of the slate. However, it is an extra night of NFL football, which is always good.  It turns out the game's best coach is a fan of Thursday night games. Not like commissioner Roger Goodell needs an excuse, but having that support might embolden his support of "Thursday Night Football" in the future. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

London calling: Robert Kraft thinks NFL could land there by end of decade [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 18, 2014, 2:32 pm]
The NFL has increased its overseas involvement heavily in recent years, but that could just be the tip of the iceberg. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft believes that the league could place a team in London by the end of the decade, and we're clearly not that far away from that date coming. Bob Kraft says @NFL 'should work very hard' to have a team in London before the decade ends.— Marc Sessler (@MarcSesslerNFL) July 17, 2014 Here's the full quotation from Kraft: "I can see the kind of reception we got there," Kraft said, per NFL.com, of the Patriots' visit to England in 2012. "... I would not be disappointed, and I would also believe that we should work hard to try and have a franchise in London before the decade was out." NFL commish Roger Goodell says he has a similar timeframe in mind. “We couldn’t be happier with what we’re seeing,” Goodell said on NFL Network, via Pro Football Talk. “We actually couldn’t be more surprised by the tremendous demand for NFL football in London, in the UK in general, and frankly in Europe. So it’s not something that I think is 15 or 20 years away. It could be five or 10 years away.” The shift in the NFL's game plan for wordly expansion came when the league went from hosting preseason games to regular-season contests in London. After two overseas NFL games in 2013, this season will feature a record three regular-season contests: Raiders-Dolphins in Week 4, Falcons-Lions in Week 8 and Jaguars-Cowboys in Week 10. Expect even more games added next season, which eventually could lead to a team landing there permanently. “The fans want to see more NFL football, and they want to see the real thing,” Goodell said. “They don’t want to see the ‘friendlies’ as they call them over there, which is preseason games. So we changed our strategy eight years ago and said, ‘Let’s play regular season games.’ And our clubs have responded very favorably. They’ve enjoyed the experience. So we’re anxious

Could Raiders and 49ers share a stadium? Roger Goodell says it could happen [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 18, 2014, 12:38 pm]
The Oakland Raiders have a year left in their lease at O.co Stadium, which they share with MLB's Oakland Athletics, and are not happy with the current terms of that lease. So what's the best solution? It might not only be be moving out — it could involve shacking up with a new roommate. Can you imagine the Raiders and Bay Area rival 49ers sharing a stadium? Roger Goodell can. "Well, we have two pro teams in the Bay Area. Obviously, the stadium issue in Oakland's going to have to be resolved, too," the NFL commissioner said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the 49ers' new Levi's Stadium. "We believe a new stadium is appropriate for the Raiders. They have to make that determination whether they're in a new stadium in Oakland or whether they feel that it's best to join this stadium. "We're working on that, and that's one of the decisions they'll have to make." Niners CEO Jed York actually is open to the idea of the Raiders sharing the billion-dollar stadium with his team. But his counterpart, Raiders owner Mark Davis, doesn't appear to be too keen on being a renter at someone else's building, a la the arrangement the New York Jets and New York Giants have worked out at MetLife Stadium.  In order to fund Levi's, the league loaned the 49ers the maximum allowed — $200 million — and could be seeking a solid in return. But ultimately, it will come down to Davis' willingness to play across the bay. Whether is this an issue of Davis not wanting his old man Al rolling over in his grave or if he's just digging in his heels for the pride of the franchise is unclear. But the team likely has to explore the option, even if it's temporary. The Raiders have a few options. They could sign a short-term deal to play at Levi's after this season while they try to work out their issues with their current loamy digs, move in to Levi's full time (which doesn't appear likely) or look to relocate to another city, with Los Angeles almost certainly the destination if that happens. - -

With New York out, it's down to Los Angeles and Chicago for 2015 NFL draft [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 18, 2014, 11:33 am]
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that the 2015 NFL draft will be held in either Chicago or Los Angeles. New York, which has been home to the draft since the 1960s, is out. “We’re focusing solely on Los Angeles and Chicago now,” Goodell said Thursday from Los Angeles following a CBS “Thursday Night Football” panel, according to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times. The league's relationship with Radio City Music Hall, which had housed the draft the past nine years, had soured over some scheduling conflicts and other issues. The league internally had discussed the idea of moving the draft to another venue in the city, such as the Theatre at Madison Square Garden, which held the draft from 1995 to 2004. But ultimately, the league views the draft as a showtime event and yet another vehicle to promote the league in other places. Los Angeles has been mentioned as a possible relocation destination for a few existing franchises, but we're going on the 20th year with no NFL team in the city. Chicago is appealing because of its central location, a hungry football fan base and as the third-largest city in the county it has plenty of venues to host the event. Several other cities expressed interest in hosting the event, including a few tightly knit football enclaves such as Canton, Ohio and Green Bay. “We had 12 cities that were interested,” Goodell said. “We felt the best thing to do was to focus on the three cities, because they had such a tremendous interest. There are very attractive aspects to each of those cities. Because we don’t have the appropriate dates in May [in New York], our focus is completely on Los Angeles and Chicago. “They both have tremendous bids.” An announcement of which city wins the bid is expected fairly soon. "I just got an update two days ago," Goodell said. "I believe the decision will come in late summer, but we’re not going to be bound by that. We’re going to do the right thing." The draft has become a marquee TV

Nick Saban says change coming to NFL underclassman evaluation system [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 17, 2014, 9:35 pm]
The NFL has a great system where players must be three years removed from their high-school graduation before they can apply to enter the league. That way, college football acts as a feeder system where players can mature physically and emotionally and play some lower-level football before making the jump to the pros. But that doesn't mean it's a perfect system. Every year there are underclassmen who leave school early and make a poor choice in doing so. A record 98 underclassmen entered the 2014 NFL draft, but 36 of them went undrafted. "It's a bad business decision to do anything else," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said, per al.com. "I don't care how you cut the mustard. And there's a lot of guys, again, making impulsive decisions about, 'I'm going to go right now' and not having the foresight to see the consequences." Saban long has lamented that this good system isn't good enough, and Thursday at SEC Media Days he hinted what NFL.com confirmed later in the day: Change to the system is coming. As it has stood up until now, the league's underclassman advisory board, which gave prospects one of five grades: up to the first round, up to the second round, up to the third round, outside the first three rounds and undraftable.  But now, as NFL.com's Albert Breer wrote, the NFL Draft Advisory Board now will give one of three grades to underclassmen wishing to know their status before declaring: first round, second round or outside the first two rounds, with the latter an indication from the committee that perhaps coming out at this time isn't the wisest move. In addition, only five underclassmen per school will automatically be given grades, although the committee can be petitioned to make further exceptions. This is interesting, because there were six schools in this May's draft — LSU, Alabama, Notre Dame, Florida State, Ohio State and Stanford — that had more than six players drafted. LSU had six underclassmen declare. Saban said the old system hurts the play

A.J. Green thinks Andy Dalton will get extension before him, and he's fine with it [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 17, 2014, 7:10 pm]
A.J. Green makes Andy Dalton look good both on and off the field, it turns out. Green is viewed as one of the NFL's brightest stars at wide receiver, and he and Dalton have connected 260 times (with Green occasionally bailing out his off-target quarterback) in their three seasons together in the NFL for 3,833 yards and 29 touchdowns. In theory, they make a good pair and Green wants to keep that relationship going. “We came in together. That’s my guy. He helped me where I am. I helped him and we took the Bengals to a different level,” Green told Geoff Hobson of the team's official website. “The Bengals were losing a lot before we came. I feel like we turned it around." And that's why Green believes that Dalton, who is entering the final year of his contract, is going to remain with the Bengals for a long time, too. “I know they know he’s the guy," Green said of Dalton. "I feel like they’re going to get something done before the season starts.” By "get something done," Green means a contract. Why wouldn't the Bengals lock of Green first? Because they have time on their side. Although Green and Dalton were in the same draft class in 2011, Dalton — as a second-rounder — received a standard four-year deal. A top-10 overall pick that year, Green's deal had a fifth-year player option that the Bengals would have been nuts not to have invoked, which they already did at $10.5 million. The Bengals and Green still technically could work on an extension, but getting Green at that salary — where the franchise-tag number for receivers could approach $13 milion next year — makes a lot of sense for the team. Besides, Green isn't too worried.  “I think I’m on the backburner just because of the option. That’s fine with me,” Green said. “I don’t even look at it like that. I just go out there and play and my time will come. “It’s not surprising. Teams always want to wait. I’m fine with my option and my $10 million. I’ll take it.” Well

Shutdown Countdown: San Diego Chargers go for another playoff berth [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: July 17, 2014, 6:11 pm]
Shutdown Corner is previewing all 32 teams as we get ready for the NFL season, counting down the teams one per day in reverse order or our initial 2014 power rankings. No. 1 will be revealed on Aug. 2, the day before the preseason begins with the Hall of Fame Game in Canton. Mike McCoy got almost no buzz for coach of the year at the end of last season. But McCoy, a first-time head coach, did a phenomenal job. San Diego's roster, on paper, wasn't impressive. Quarterback Philip Rivers was in a multiple-year slide. The defense looked like a mess ... and it ended up being a mess. With a rookie head coach the Chargers went 9-7, were the only team to win at Denver all season, beat a tough Cincinnati team on the road in the playoffs and gave Denver a good game the following week before falling. And San Diego was on the verge of having a much better record, considering they had brutally close losses to Houston, Tennessee and Washington. The Chargers also had a four-point loss at Miami in which their final drive stalled on the Dolphins' 25-yard line. So they were a bit unlucky to be just 9-7 last year. And give McCoy a lot of credit for not letting the Chargers get down after a few truly crushing losses early on. McCoy's smartest move was changing the offense to better suit Rivers, putting more emphasis on getting rid of the ball quicker behind a terrible offensive line that couldn't protect him the previous couple seasons. Rivers' numbers improved dramatically from 2012. He threw for 4,478 yards and 32 touchdowns. The defense wasn't good, but that didn't prevent the Chargers from getting a playoff spot. Hiring McCoy, the former Broncos defensive coordinator, looks like one of the best moves of the 2013 offseason, even if it didn't get enough attention. 2013 review in less than 25 words: At 5-7 the Chargers' season looked finished, but they won four straight and got a ton of help to get a wild card. Is the roster better, worse or about the same?: The Chargers had a bit of

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