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The NFL has flirted with the idea of placing a team in either Los Angeles, and more recently London, for years now. Commissioner Roger Goodell just cranked up the flirtation into an informal courting.
Goodell said Saturday, courtesy of ESPN.com, at a forum for European NFL fans that the NFL is interested in landing in both cities, and he has no preference which one might land a franchise first.
“It doesn’t matter,” Goodell said. “I’d love to be back in Los Angeles, but it has to be done the right way, we have to do it successfully. …
“I want both [cities], but it doesn’t matter which one is first.”
This is a slight elevation from something Goodell said as recently as two weeks ago. At the league’s fall meeting, Goodell said it was not the league’s objective to place a franchise full-time in London but that the NFL hoped to “continue the growth of our game internationally.
“[Y]ou could view it as a potential home city but a lot would have to happen before that could take place,” Goodell said.
There seems to be support among NFL owners for a team across the pond. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, while his team played in the U.K. last season, told fans he thought it was time for a team there.
And just this week, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones echoed the thought but added an interesting wrinkle: Jones believes London could be an expansion location for a team.
“The look-see [in London] is to see if a segment of people in Britain can make it their team. In other words, can they buy into NFL and can they buy into the pride and support a franchise?” Jones said on Dallas’ 105.3 The Fan, via CBS DFW. “London could be an expansion for the NFL. I like the idea. It adds a lot of ‘wow’ to the NFL.”
Wow is right. The common belief has been that the NFL would consider London, but only as a relocation — with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Anglophile team owner Shad Khan often mentioned as the most likely possibility. The Jaguars are playing the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday at London’s Wembley Stadium.
The NFL will expand from two games in London this season to three games in 2014. The sport has increased in popularity in London, and the games have been sellouts in recent years.
The NFL hasn’t had a franchise in Los Angeles since 1995, despite it being the No. 2 TV market in the nation. Jones even suggested this summer that L.A. is big enough to have two NFL teams.
A lot of talk on the matter, but it will be years before any of this likely happens. Still, there’s a lot more movement toward that end than ever before.
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Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush said sitting out Friday’s practice prior to Sunday’s matchup with the Cowboys was for precautionary reasons. But Bush’s previous knee injury — this is a separate leg injury.
Still, Bush hopes to be able to go this weekend, even at less than full health. Restricted by head coach Jim Schwartz, who doesn’t like his players talking injury specifics, there was only so much Bush could say. But he did indicate that Sunday was happening in his mind, and the fact that he was listed as “probable” seemed to back that up.
“I’m fine,” Bush said, via Mlive.com. “I’m playing Sunday. That’s all you guys need to know. That’s it.”
Bush was seen strapping a large floe of ice to that leg, but he said that it was not anything alarming.
“Just taking a day off,” Bush said. “I ice everything. Just taking the day off.”
As for the rest of the Lions, wide receiver Nate Burleson (forearm) and offensive tackle Corey Hilliard (knee) remain out. The offensive line could be shorthanded if fellow tackles Jason Fox (knee) and Riley Reiff (hamstring), both listed as questionable, can’t go.
For Dallas, a few players remain dicey: defensive end DeMarcus Ware (thigh), listed as doubtful, and receiver Miles Austin (hamstring) and running back DeMarco Murray (knee), both questionable.
Now here’s a look at the rest of the key injuries for Sunday’s Week 8 action:
Atlanta Falcons at Arizona Cardinals: The big news is that Steven Jackson is likely back for the Falcons, his hamstring allowing him to practice this week. Still, it’s not all good news, as receiver Roddy White (ankle) still can’t go, nor can running back Jason Snelling (ankle). Cardinals running back Rashad Mendenhall (toe) looks shaky, listed doubtful. Offensive guard Daryn Colledge (back) is questionable.
Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints: It’s looking as if Bills running back C.J. Spiller (ankle) and linebacker Manny Lawson (hamstring) both will miss the game, designated as doubtful. Expect Fred Jackson, even with a knee injury, to shoulder a big load. For the Saints, tight end Jimmy Graham (foot) was limited in practice this week, but they are hopeful he can play. Right tackle Zach Strief (ankle) is questionable.
Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs: Dwayne Bowe (groin) is questionable for the Chiefs, which is too bad because he appears to be turning the corner this season. And perpetually banged up safety Kendrick Lewis (ankle) once more is questionable. Browns linebacker Quentin Groves (ankle) is doubtful and defensive end Billy Winn (quad), who is questionable, could leave the defense slightly thin.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots: There’s a decent chance that Danny Amendola, who has passed initial concussion testing, could play — but he’s still listed as questionable heading in. Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly remains out for New England, but five other key contributors also are listed questionable: running back Brandon Bolden (knee), offensive lineman Marcus Cannon (shoulder), receiver-punt returner Julian Edelman (thigh), tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (knee) and corner Aqib Talib (hip). Welcome back, Tom Brady, probable, right shoulder — we’ve missed you. The Dolphins appear fairly healthy.
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles: Michael Vick will start with his now-healthy hamstring intact, with Matt Barkley as the backup and Nick Foles out with a concussion. David Wilson remains out for the Giants, and Brandon Jacobs (hamstring) is doubtful, so expect a Michael Cox-Peyton Hillis two-headed monster again.
New York Jets at Cincinnati Bengals: Santonio Holmes is out, and center Nick Mangold (ribs) is listed as questionable, but otherwise the Jets come in relatively healthy. The Bengals are without cornerback Leon Hall, meaning Dre Kirkpatrick likely steps in as a starter, or at least more heavily rotated into the secondary.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Oakland Raiders: The Steelers come in with no really new injuries. The Raiders will be without safety Tyvon Branch, and they could be without three key offensive linemen, all listed doubtful — Andre Gurode (quadricep), Tony Pashos (hip) and Menelik Watson (calf).
San Francisco 49ers at Jacksonville Jaguars in London: Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon sat out Friday’s practice, but head coach Gus Bradley said it was a precautionary measure. Expect Blackmon to start; he’s listed probable. Some familiar 49ers defensive linemen are again questionable: Glenn Dorsey (hamstring), Ray McDonald (biceps) and Justin Smith (shoulder).
Washington Redskins at Denver Broncos: Fear not! Peyton Manning, who is listed probable after sitting out Wednesday’s practice with an ankle injury, has been cleared to play. But Champ Bailey (foot) will be out, and offensive linemen Orlando Franklin (ankle) and Chris Kuper (ankle) are questionable. The biggest concerns for the Redskins are defensive lineman Stephen Bowen (knee) and receiver Leonard Hankerson (foot), both listed as questionable.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings: Tight end Jermichael Finley is out indefinitely, and his season very well could be over, but the great news is that he’s walking. Linebacker Clay Matthews (thumb) is also out, and receiver James Jones (knee) is doubtful. For the Vikings, Josh Freeman’s concussion will put him out for this game and Christian Ponder back in the starting lineup.
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You can excuse Colts cornerback Vontae Davis for being a bit overwhelmed after an exciting 39-33 win over the Broncos.
It was a big week for the Colts defense, having to face an all-time great quarterback.
“We had a good week of practice, we prepared really hard for Tom Brady,” Davis told NBC after the game. “I think it just carried over from practice to the game.”
Brady was probably surprised to hear that, considering he played the Jets on Sunday. Davis and the Colts faced Peyton Manning.
Eh, Brady and Manning … they’re always connected anyway. No big difference, Vontae.
Davis’ preparation for Brady paid off. He and the Colts played pretty well against Manning for most of the night.
Perhaps the Colts should just prepare to face Brady every week.
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Are you one of those people who takes joy in watching trainwrecks? Then get your butt down to Tampa, Florida.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, reacting to the scores of armchair coaches who are calling for more man defense, says fans are free to join him and the other defensive coaches at 1 Buccaneer Place for meetings and planning sessions, per Bucs Insider Jenna Laine.
“What I want to invite them to do is join us,” Sheridan said. “I get here about 5:20 [a.m.] every single morning, and they’re more than welcome to hang around here until about 11:00 [p.m.] for the first four nights of the week, and they can help us put the whole game plan together.
“We’ve got all the free Cokes you want in the building, and we’ll be happy to take those suggestions on how we can better use Darrelle. Trust me when I tell you we painstakingly game plan how best to use all of our personnel not just Darrelle.”
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The Revis point likely is fair, to what Sheridan is saying. You can’t play man defense if you don’t think the other three or four or five defensive backs can hang properly, too. And there are a hundred other factors as well: Is the opposing quarterback mobile? What down is it? Is our pass rush strong? Are their receivers adept at getting off press coverage? And so on …
But Sheridan’s witty response aside, there are signs that the whole operation is going off the rails a bit. When coaches gets snippy like this, it can be a dangerous sign — especially with the team already having defenestrated its starting quarterback and the defense having lacked some urgency in situations.
Many fans could have been reacting to the words of ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski, who called out the Bucs’ coverages, saying they didn’t take advantage of Revis’ skills best.
Is this all Sheridan’s fault? Would playing more man defense be a cure-all? Almost certainly not, in both cases. But the reaction here is what’s interesting. Maybe Sheridan and Jaworski are the ones who need to sit down, have a Coke and hash this all out for us.
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – To everyone else, this week is Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis.
To Manning, he never really left.
He plays for a different team now in Denver, but Indianapolis is still a huge part of his life. It always will be.
He was asked about playing the Colts on “Sunday Night Football” this week and what message he had for the fans. The question seemed to surprise him.
He talked about meetings he has with Colts fans when he gets back to Indianapolis, or seeing No. 18 Colts jerseys at Broncos games. Manning keeps in contact with many of his old teammates. He still gets plenty of mail from Indiana, and replies to a lot of it. He has a strong connection with the children’s hospital in Indianapolis, considering it bears his name. He still holds fundraisers for the hospital.
It’s pretty clear that’s still home.
“There’s always a connection there,” Manning said. “To have to deliver a message means I’ve been gone. I don’t think I really have.”
That connection is why Sunday is so unique. There haven’t been many more feel-good splits in sports history. Manning moved on to Denver after 13 seasons as the Colts’ starter, and over the last two seasons he reestablished himself as the NFL’s best quarterback. His Broncos are 6-0 and perhaps the best team in the NFL. The Colts drafted quarterback Andrew Luck, made the playoffs last season and appear headed back to the postseason. Everyone is happy. The reunion will be full of hugs and emotions and nostalgia.
Manning is writing one of the best second chapters of a career in sports history, and he and the state of Colorado have embraced each other, but it will be impossible to think about Manning’s career without first thinking about him as a Colt.
“Obviously, he did so many great things on the football field and they had such a great winning culture here for the past decade or so,” Luck said in a conference call. “But what he did off the field is incredible, as well, with the children’s hospital and everything you learn about his involvement with the community. I think he definitely had a great impact both on and off the field in this city, and really a great role model for a young quarterback.”
Manning said repeatedly he doesn’t know how he will feel on Sunday. There’s a pregame tribute planned, and there will certainly be an ovation or two for the player who put Indianapolis football on the map. Old teammates Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James are reportedly coming in for the game, as if there needed to be more emotional moments for Manning, who has experienced similar games going against his brother Eli.
“To predict how you’re going to feel, I just don’t know,” Manning said.
“Someone asked me, ‘Is this like playing against Eli?’ I said, ‘I know Robert Mathis hits harder than Eli.’ “
Manning didn’t want to talk about playing the Colts after last Sunday’s game, but he spoke at length about what Indianapolis meant to him and about his new team as well. There were 14 cameras and a few dozen reporters huddled around him after practice as he spoke, so it’s obviously not a normal week. But Manning, who is as serious about football as anyone in the league, seems sincere when he says he wants this to be a normal game against a good Colts team. He still has goals he wants to reach, and he doesn’t want to lose focus for a key AFC game.
He said he owes it to the rest of the Broncos to have his usual preparation this week, not just enjoy the Colts fans’ adulation for his first game back.
“If all I had to do was walk in there and wave and sign some autographs and kiss a few babies and smile, it would be easy,” Manning said.
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Robert Griffin III is living a dream as one of the young, elite quarterbacks in the NFL, but that’s not the dream he always had.
Griffin, the reigning NFL offensive rookie of the year for the Washington Redskins, is a superior athlete. And for a long time, his dream wasn’t playing pro football, it was to be an Olympian. He competed in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in the 400-meter hurdles, finishing 11th overall.
“My dream is to be in the Olympics and represent the United States of America,” Griffin said. “I was preparing for my dream.”
In a video produced by USAA as part of its Million Fan Salute campaign, Griffin said he still holds onto that dream of competing in the Olympics and still plans to make it happen.
“I would definitely want to still perform my dream of still going to the Olympics,” Griffin said in the USAA video. “Some way, somehow … Maybe it’s track, maybe it’s badminton, maybe it’s ping pong (table tennis), but I’ll find a way to get to the Olympics.”
[Watch: Bold fantasy predictions for Week 6]
It sounds crazy, but he came fairly close to making it as a teenager in 2008 and he’s an incredible athlete, so maybe it’s not so outlandish.
In the video, Griffin also talks about his love of basketball, and how when he was young the goal was to “be better than Michael Jordan.” He was the starting point guard on his varsity high school team as a freshman, and said he got basketball offers from colleges like Florida, Baylor and Nebraska.
He could have gone with basketball or track (as a freshman at Baylor he won the Big 12 championship in the 400-meter hurdles and the NCAA Midwest Region title with a region record time of 49.53), but after missing out on qualifying for the Olympic team in 2008, he focused on football.
“God took over and I had to go a different way,” Griffin said.
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