|Brian Urlacher retires after 13-year NFL career||05.22.13 at 12:37 pm ET|
Former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher announced his retirement Wednesday, ending a 13-year NFL career.
“After spending a lot of time this spring thinking about my NFL future, I have made a decision to retire,” Urlacher wrote. “Although I could continue playing, I’m not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that’s up to my standards. When considering this, along with the fact that I could retire after a 13-year career wearing only one jersey for such a storied franchise, my decision became pretty clear. I want to thank all of the people in my life that have helped me along the way. I will miss my teammates, my coaches, and the great Bears fans. I’m proud to say that I have all of you everything I had every time I took the field. I will miss this great game, but I leave it with no regrets.”
The eight-time Pro Bowler played his entire career in Chicago, and was the face of the organization for many years. He and the Bears were unable to reach an agreement on a contract this offseason and he became a free agent.
Urlacher recorded a franchise-record 1,779 tackles in 182 games between 2000 and 2012. He also had 41.5 sacks, 22 interceptions, 16 fumble recoveries and 11 forced fumbles in his career.
The ninth overall pick in the 2000 NFL draft was the 2000 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, the 2005 AP Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-Pro four times. He helped lead the Bears to the Super Bowl in 2007.
|NFL draft to move to May in 2014||at 12:10 pm ET|
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed at the NFL spring meetings in Boston on Tuesday that the NFL draft will be moved to May in 2014 due to a scheduling conflict.
Radio City Music Hall, the home for the draft, will be hosting an Easter show in April, which led to the need for the switch. Goodell emphasized that the league is happy with its experiences with Radio City Music Hall.
“We think we have found a location in New York that meets our requirements and where we think we can continue to grow the event,” he said.
Goodell said he expects the draft to remain in May and that adjustments to the NFL’s calendar will be discussed with the players’ union. There could also be adjustments made to the dates for the NFL combine and the start of free agency.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the changes being discussed would have the league year starting before the combine beginning in 2015. The NFLPA is looking to give free agents a chance to find new teams sooner with the change.
While Goodell can set the date of the draft without the NFLPA’s approval, he said he wanted to be sure that the union signed off on any changes to the league schedule or the draft to maintain league harmony.
|Longtime NFL broadcaster Pat Summerall dies at 82||04.17.13 at 11:27 am ET|
Former NFL broadcaster Pat Summerall, John Madden‘s longtime play-by-play partner in the booth, died Tuesday at age 82 of cardiac arrest.
Summerall, whose understated style meshed well with Madden’s famous enthusiasm, called 16 Super Bowls, including the Patriots’ victory over the Rams in 2002.
“It’s right down the pipe. Adam Vinatieri. No time on the clock. And the Patriots have won Super Bowl XXXVI. Unbelievable,” Summerall said that night in his final call beside Madden. He worked one more full season after that, then scaled back, only calling the occasional game after the 2002 season.
Summerall’s NFL career lasted 10 seasons, from 1952 to 1961, with the Chicago Cardinals and New York Giants. He was better known in his second career as a commentator, though, becoming famous for his deep voice and his calm, restrained style of commentary.
Broadcasters and other members of the football community remembered him fondly, including Madden.
“He always had a joke,” Madden said. “Pat never complained and we never had an unhappy moment. He was something very special.”
“Pat Summerall was one of the best friends and greatest contributors that the NFL has known,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “His majestic voice was treasured by millions of NFL fans for more than four decades. It is a sad day in the NFL.”
|Bills use franchise tag on safety Jairus Byrd||03.01.13 at 1:44 pm ET|
The Bills have used their franchise tag on 26-year-old safety Jairus Byrd, whom they’d hoped to sign to a long-term contract but could not get a deal done.
Byrd was a Pro Bowl selection as a rookie in 2009 and was named as an injury replacement in 2012. He had five interceptions and 76 tackles (53 solo) last year and finished the year as the NFL’s second-ranked safety.
The $6.9 million tag will keep him around for at least another year as the Bills continue to negotiate with Byrd on a new deal.
Byrd responded to the team’s decision by tweeting a Bible verse along with, “It’s all good!”
|NFL salary cap rises to $123 million in 2013||at 10:44 am ET|
The NFL salary cap will rise to $123 million in the 2013 season from $120.6 million in 2012, an NFLPA official familiar with negotiations told The Associated Press on Thursday.
No formal announcement regarding the cap has been made, but the reported increase is larger than some in the NFL had expected because of an unexpected jump in revenues last year.
The cap is expected to rise more significantly between 2014 and 2015, when the NFL’s new television contracts will kick in and bring in additional revenue for the league. In 2011, the first year of the salary cap under the newly negotiated CBA, the cap was $120.375 million.
From 2013-16, each NFL team will be required to spend an average of at least 89 percent of the salary cap in contract dollars, a condition that didn’t exist under the old CBA.
|Vikings’ Chris Kluwe, Ravens’ Brendon Ayanbadejo file amicus brief in California supporting same-sex marriage||at 9:33 am ET|
Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo have teamed up to file an amicus brief in support of same-sex marriage in California. They filed it on the day of the Supreme Court’s deadline in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry, which challenges Proposition 8, the California law against marriage equality.
Kluwe and Ayanbadejo have both spoken out on the issue of gay rights in the past, but this is the first time they’ve collaborated. They wrote in the brief that they want to use their influence as athletes to express their support for an issue that’s important to them.
“When we advance the idea that some people should be treated differently because of who they are,” they wrote in the brief, “demeaned in public as lesser beings, not worthy of the same rights and benefits as others despite their actions as good citizens and neighbors, then we deny them equal protection under the laws. America has walked this path before, and courageous people and the Court brought us to the right result. We urge the Court to repeat those actions here.”
Ayanbadejo’s mother is white and his father is black, and he sees a similarity between the situation same-sex couples face now and the anti-miscegenation laws of the past that would have prevented his parents’ marriage.
Ayanbadejo said he and Kluwe “bounce ideas off each other” and will be spending time together in the offseason.
“We have yet to have had our first disagreement,” Ayanbadejo said of Kluwe. “Actually, I take that back. One day I was venting to him about how ignorant some of our NFL colleagues are and he encouraged me to relax and give them a bit more credit, as it will be them that carry the torch that Chris and I hand them.”
|Report: Raiders talking to Mike Holmgren about leadership position||02.27.13 at 12:09 pm ET|
According to a report from ESPN, the Raiders have been talking to former Packers and Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren about a leadership position within their organization.
Holmgren already has a relationship with Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie, who has also worked for the Packers. Holmgren is on vacation in Europe right now, and the Raiders have not set a timeline for finding a new top front office executive, although they have been actively looking for several months.
Holmgren was team president of the Browns from 2010 to 2012. He was released following an ownership change. According to ESPN, NFL senior vice president of football operations Ray Anderson has also been talking with the Raiders about a leadership position.
|Gregg Williams hired by Titans after NFL reinstatement||02.07.13 at 1:28 pm ET|
Gregg Williams, one of the key figures in the Saints bounty scandal, was reinstated by the league on Wednesday and subsequently hired by the Titans as a senior assistant coach for the defense.
Williams had been suspended indefinitely by the league, but Wednesday’s NFL statement indicated Williams accepted responsibility for his role and pledged to never again be involved in any pay-for-performance program.
“The commissioner emphasized that Williams must fully conform to league rules and will be subject to periodic monitoring to confirm his compliance,” the league said.
With Williams’ return, everyone involved in the scandal has been reinstated.
Williams will be introduced by the Titans at a Thursday afternoon press conference.
“I have known Gregg for over two decades and have seen him work his way up from a quality control coach to a head coach,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said in a statement. “He will bring a great deal of defensive knowledge and energy to our staff. The decision to bring him here only came after going through a thoughtful and thorough process.”
|NFLPA calls press conference to discuss player safety issues||02.01.13 at 9:51 am ET|
The NFL Players Association took advantage of having much of the football media in New Orleans Thursday, calling a press conference to discuss its complaints about safety issues.
Executive director DeMaurice Smith and union president Domonique Foxworth held the conference. Smith said the NFLPA will file a grievance if the NFL refuses to implement a system to verify the credentials of all team medical personnel, and brought up amendments related to player safety that the players’ union wants in the new CBA.
The union also wants the NFL to put independent neurological consultants on the sidelines during games to help diagnose and treat concussions. Earlier on Thursday, league general counsel Jeff Pash said the league expects to implement that plan next season, but Smith said the players union has not seen the proposal and details have not been confirmed.
The two sides also have yet to agree on the details of implementing blood tests for human growth hormone. Smith said the league has not agreed to using the type of independent arbitrator that Major League baseball uses, though Pash said the league recently made a new proposal to the players that he thinks will lead to an agreement.
Smith called out the NFL for locking out its officials at the start of this year, saying the use of replacement refs was “one of the most deliberate disregards of player safety that I think has occurred in the National Football League since our inception.”
|Ray Lewis again denies PED use, calls Sports Illustrated report a ‘funny’ story||01.30.13 at 2:12 pm ET|
Ray Lewis called Mitch Ross, the co-owner of Sports With Alternatives to Steroids who said he gave Lewis performance-enhancing drugs, a “coward” with “no credibility” on Wednesday.
Lewis, in New Orleans for Sunday’s Super Bowl, also said he was “agitated” over the Sports Illustrated report that he used treatments including deer-antler spray, which contains a substance (IGF-1) banned by the NFL, to recover from a triceps injury earlier this season.
“Our world is a very secret society,” Lewis said of the NFL. “We try to protect our world as much as we can. When you let cowards come in and do things like that, to try to disturb something, I’ve said it before and I’ve said a million times, the reason why I’m smiling is because it’s so funny of a story.
“I’ve never, ever took what he says I was supposed to do. It’s just sad that someone can have this much attention on a stage this big where the dreams are really real. I don’t need it, my teammates don’t need it, the 49ers don’t need it. Nobody needs it because it just really shows you that people really plan things and try to attack people from the outside. It’s just very foolish. The guy has no credibility. He’s been sued four or five times over this same B.S. I just truly believe he doesn’t have the privilege for me to speak about it ever again.”
Lewis missed 10 games with the triceps injury and reportedly used a number of SWATS treatments, including the deer-antler spray, to speed his recovery. Ross told ESPN Radio last week that Lewis “used every product I had” and is only denying it because he may be “scared of [Roger] Goodell.”
However, a professor at Johns Hopkins University told The Baltimore Sun that, despite SWATS’ claims, there isn’t an acceptable scientific way that IGF-1 can be delivered orally.
“If there were, a lot of people would be happy that they don’t need to get shots anymore,” Dr. Roberto Salvatori told the Sun. “It’s just simply not possible for it to come from a spray.”
Despite his demeanor at the press conference, Lewis maintained, that he wasn’t angry about the report — in fact, that he’s never angry — because he is “too blessed to be stressed.”
“You can use a different word,” he said. “You can use the word agitated, because I’m here to win the Super Bowl. I’m not here to entertain somebody that doesn’t affect that one way or another. The word agitated is probably better.”
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