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  • Jones: Cowboys plan Romo decision before training camp
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 29, 2017

    Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says he plans to make a decision about the future of quarterback Tony Romo "before training camp."

    • Romo's status with the team has been in limbo since free agency began three weeks ago.

      The Cowboys have been seeking a trade partner for the 36-year-old veteran, but thus far no team has been willing to take on Romo's contract for the 2017 season. If no trade is made, the Cowboys intend to release Romo.

      Jones, speaking to reporters Tuesday at the NFL meetings in Phoenix, said he talked with Romo in the last several days.

      "He's really doing great," Jones said. "He's got a lot of options."

      Romo wants to continue his playing career, but FOX and CBS reportedly want him as a television analyst for next season.

      "There's no waiting game," Jones told the Dallas Morning News. "This is the offseason. We're not missing doing anything. From the standpoint of the franchise and the Cowboys, nothing is being held up here at all."

      Up next for the Cowboys are the start of organized team activities (April 17), the draft (April 27-29), the mandatory mini-camp (mid-June) and the start of training camp (July).

      "We're on great terms,'' Jones said of his relationship with Romo. "But I certainly don't want to represent anything as to how he feels. But I feel good about how we're doing, we being the Cowboys, me and Tony. I feel very good about it."

      Cowboys coach Jason Garrett also did not offer an update on Romo's status.

      "Nothing's really changed since the end of the season," Garrett said. "It's a situation that we're working through. He and Jerry Jones are the principal people in working that situation through. It's really been status quo."

      Romo's 2017 salary cap number of $24.7 million stands as the highest of any quarterback in the NFL this season. A new contract would be part of any trade negotiation with Romo, including his current base salary of $14 million.

      Dallas found a franchise quarterback last season, fourth-round pick Dak Prescott, who was named Offensive Rookie of the Year after passing for 3,667 yards with a 67.8 completion percentage, 23 touchdowns and only four interceptions.

      Romo, who turns 37 on April 21, holds many of the team's passing records with 34,183 yards and 248 touchdowns. But he hasn't played a full season since 2012, including missing 21 games with injuries the last two seasons. Romo sustained a broken bone in his back during the 2016 preseason, losing his job to Prescott while rehabbing.

  • Those were the days at NFL league meeting
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 29, 2017

    PHOENIX -- It's a wrap. That was the word Tuesday here at the NFL owners meeting, which raised the bar for rapid-fire achievement that commissioner Roger Goodell can only hope can be emulated in the pace of the game he plans to rev up.

    • This was a meeting highlighted Monday by a curiously fast and lopsided rubber stamp vote approving the Raiders move from Oakland to Las Vegas.

      Then, shortly after the early media breakfast with AFC team coaches Tuesday, the league announced closure on eight rules and other procedures, and that Goodell would conclude the annual gathering with a getaway press conference long before sundown.

      That began at 4:50 p.m. Mountain time and alternately featured Goodell, Rich McKay, chairman of the competition committee and Dean Blandino, senior vice president of officiating. After a brief overview of the state of the league and a quick word or two rules, there was an obligatory Q&A for the assembled press.

      At 5:12 p.m., NFL vice president of communications Brian McCarthy followed his courteous "two more questions" warning and called a halt to the session. Elapsed time: 22 minutes.

      Adios NFL, hello Hotwire.com or any of those online reservation aggregators who prey on reselling hotel rooms that are suddenly and unexpectedly vacant. Judging from the parade of luggage and cars leaving the Arizona Biltmore Tuesday evening, vacant rooms were surely easy to find.

      Left up in the air was the media breakfast for NFC coaches, originally scheduled for 7:15 a.m. Wednesday, the day the whirlwind meeting was supposed to end around noon. Four of those NFC coaches already packed up early Tuesday and kindly availed themselves for the media. Ben McAdoo of the New York Giants and Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys went first.

      Jay Gruden of the Washington Redskins and John Fox of the Chicago Bears held court even as the Goodell/McKay/Blandino show was on stage in the adjoining room. As for the other 12 NFC coaches, the question was asked how many would still be at the Wednesday breakfast.

      "Don't know," was the closest thing to an official response.

      With its new Vegas connections, the NFL surely understood the long odds against a full house of the remaining NFC coaches Wednesday. Maybe Goodell could help by imposing another new rule for conduct detrimental to media relations. How about a fine with proceeds going to the Pro Football Writers of America?

      Nah.

      With all due respect for clinical efficiency, these meetings fail to take advantage of bridging the widening gap of understanding and empathy among the media, owners, coaches, general managers and even the commissioner. Instead it maintains the vigilant, arms-length, us vs. them juxtaposition.

      It wasn't always so. And the winners were the fans, readers and viewers who benefitted from the stronger bond among the various groups here.

      Even the complex details of rules changes afforded an opportunity for giants of the football game to get down and dirty with the media, literally. One of the annual highlights for me was when Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula and Dallas Cowboys president Tex Schramm, representing the competition committee, explained the intricacies of rules changes.

      More often than not, one thing would lead to another and Shula would invite one or more of the media to get down into a stance and he would then demonstrate some newly illegal technique. Sometimes several participants wound up sprawled on the ground. But after they helped each other up, they sure as hell had a new appreciation and understanding of the new rule.

      Just one demonstration of a single rule could easily take more than, say, 22 minutes. But it was time well invested.

      Some owners got to know media members and their families by going out to dinner. Former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo would sometimes host a couple dozen media, with all of his and their families, to raucous dinners that featured free flow of agreement and disagreement.

      Former Raiders head coach John Madden and then San Diego Chargers general manager Bobby Beathard, who competed non-stop since they were roommates at Cal Poly (SLO), took a group of writers to a small family-owned Mexican restaurant during an owners meeting in Palm Desert.

      Madden and Beathard each tried to outdo the other by chugging hotter and hotter homemade chili sauce. They both turned red, their eyes teared up and one of the writers had to drive their car back to the hotel.

      But the writers at that dinner continued to communicate with Madden and Beathard on business matters for many years afterward.

      Commissioner Pete Rozelle was intuitive in making the best of just about any situation. There was a huge barbecue party at the stables for the Biltmore, where a parking lot now stands. Everybody received a straw cowboys hat and bandana. Rozelle showed up wearing the little hat, tied the bandana around his neck, danced a few country dances, rolled a cigarette cowboy style and challenged some of the writers to do all of the same.

      He even managed to turn a bad scene into his favor when necessary. In 1978, he told a group in Minnesota that they could not hold the team hostage in the antiquated Old Met outdoor stadium by hiding behind the NFL's constitutional rule that required a three-quarters approval of owners to move.

      I was covering the Oakland Raiders during that 1978 owners meeting in Palm Desert and, of course, asked Rozelle if he would tell politicians in Oakland and Alameda the same thing. After ignoring my question twice, Rozelle said, "Frank, If you have any more of Al's questions don't waste everybody's time. We'll just talk later."

      Infuriated, I headed down the middle aisle towards Rozelle when he was finished. Executive vice president Joe Browne jumped between us and held us at arm's length. We went next door, had a drink and Rozelle said he would apologize, which he did the next day. After that we stayed in contact, with Rozelle sometimes phoning me in a hotel after midnight to ask about his USF basketball team that I covered at the time.

      Despite covering the Raiders, I managed to maintain a good relationship with Rozelle. Shortly before he died, Browne, who held us apart that one time, brought us together during the week of a Super Bowl in New Orleans, We chatted, hugged it out and that was the last time I saw him alive.

      There was one event that became an annual hit at these meetings. After giving up his AFL commissionership following the merging with the NFL, Al Davis still commanded respect among the media.

      In the 1980s, he had an open media gathering outside his room or cabana on the Thursdays of each meeting. He talked about anything, answered all questions and verbally jousted with anybody willing. It became known as the annual State of the Al and sometimes lasted two or three hours and often included discussion about the Raiders moving.

      Of course, the Raiders moving is Topic A at this year's meeting. But by Thursday, there will be nobody here even to note the irony that the long-debated move that disrupted the NFL for so many years raced through the approval process with shocking ease. Nobody here to salute the memory of the State of the AL and put an end to one of the most chaotic chapters NFL history. Nobody. The meticulously planned mechanics of the meeting efficiently dispatched the tasks and the people involved.

      All the attendees will be gone, appropriately, on their separate ways.

      --Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange, has covered football since 1965, including the Raiders from 1969 through 1980, and he represents the Raiders' franchise as a selector in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. While covering Raiders training camps in Santa Rosa, he often ended the day at the hotel restaurant talking with Al Davis in the owner's reserved booth.

  • Goodell plans to attend Patriots' season-opener
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has stayed away from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., the home of the New England Patriots, since the "Deflategate" saga happened, but he has every intention of being there for the league's season opener in September.

    • "I plan to be at the kickoff game," a smiling Goodell said Tuesday at the annual league meetings in Phoenix in response to a question.

      The defending Super Bowl champions traditionally play the opening game of the following season. The 2017 date is expected to be Thursday, Sept. 7.

      Patriots owner Robert Kraft has not hidden his feelings of animosity toward Goodell since the commissioner upheld quarterback Tom Brady's four-game suspension at the start of last season. The Patriots went on to claim their fifth Super Bowl title with a come-from-behind victory over the Atlanta Falcons in February.

      Kraft said earlier that he wouldn't try to stop Goodell from coming to Foxborough.

      "We're happy that we'll be celebrating our fifth banner, and he can decide whether he wants to be there," Kraft said. "He's commissioner of the league. As we all know, he has the right to go wherever he wishes to go. And if he wanted to come, he's welcome to come."

      Goodell was conspicuously absent during the AFC Championship Game in February when he instead attended playoff games in Atlanta.

      Before the Super Bowl, Goodell said of a potential visit for this coming season's opener, "If I'm invited back to Foxborough, I will come. I have no doubt that if I wanted to come up to a Patriots game and I asked Mr. Kraft, he would welcome me back. That's up to him."

      The Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl and after the game Goodell presented Kraft and Patriots with the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

  • NFL bars leaping kick block among eight rules changes
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    PHOENIX - A day following the NFL decision to allow the Oakland Raiders to relocate to Las Vegas, NFL owners blazed through numerous rule and by-law proposals nearly as quickly as the vote on the Raiders took place Monday.

    • It all happened so fast that the meetings ended Tuesday afternoon rather than at lunchtime Wednesday. Not surprisingly, a few proposals were tabled because there wasn't enough time to adequately discuss them with the owners.

      The most notable change for 2017 will be the centralization of replay reviews in New York City with league director of officiating Dean Blandino's staff making the final decision. No longer will the referee go "under the hood" on the sideline. Instead, he will have a hand-held tablet and will communicate with the league office during the review.

      While Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said he is "extremely comfortable" with the change, when asked if he believes it will add to more accurate calls, Tomlin said, "Accuracy is a slippery slope. I think the consistency of the calls will go up when the judgment is centrally handled."

      Leading the other seven changes is the banning of players from leaping over the line of scrimmage in an attempt to block a field goal or extra-point try.

      One of the most dramatic plays last season occurred when Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons leaped over the line to block an extra-point attempt, and safety Will Parks ran it back for a two-point play and 25-23 win over New Orleans.

      "It definitely stinks," Simmons said of the practice being banned. "I don't see how it's dangerous in any way."

      His general manager disagreed. Said John Elway, "Obviously it helped us. I liked the play, but I understand where we eventually got with the committee as far as player safety. That was the most important thing. It would take one bad injury on that play for us -- if we hadn't done something about it -- to have felt pretty bad. I think it was the right move and the right direction."

      Other players also disagreed with Simmons. In fact, Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons and Competition Committee chair, said when the committee met with a group of players at the Combine, they said, "We don't like this play."

      The six others that passed were:

      --Made permanent a rule to disqualify a player who receives two penalties for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.

      --Extended for another season the rule placing the spot of the snap after a touchback following a kickoff to the 25-yard line.

      --The defenseless player designation has been extended to wide receivers running a pass route.

      --Crack-back blocks have been prohibited "by a backfield player who is in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped."

      --Players who commit multiple fouls during the same down in attempt to manipulate the clock will now be assessed unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.

      --Finally, the league made "actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half."

      Tabled until the May meeting was a proposal to shorten overtimes from 15 to 10 minutes. That was one that McKay acknowledged owners didn't have enough information to make a decision.

      A by-law proposal not adopted was a procedure in which a player with a concussion could be replaced on the active roster an unlimited number of time during the season when declared out on the injury report.

      By-laws passed were:

      --Liberalized rules for timing, testing, and administering physical examinations to draft-eligible players at a club's facility for one year only.

      --Changed the procedures for returning a player on reserve/physically unable to perform (PUP) or reserve/non-football injury or illness to the active list to be similar to those for returning a player that was designated for return. That eliminated the time each season after the 11th weekend when a player on PUP was not permitted to play again that season.

      Another by-law tabled so more data can be communicated was one where teams can negotiate a contract and come to agreement with a potential head coach while his team is still playing in the post-season. The caveat is that no agreement can be announced nor can an actual contract be executed.

      Also tabled was a proposal of added emphasis to eject players because of particularly egregious hits, of which McKay said there were only three during the 2016 season. McKay insisted, however, that watching large amounts of video, "We were pleasantly surprised and impressed. We have to give credit to players, coaches, and going back to college and high school, where we see players adjust the way they play the game well within the rules."

      As for trying to become more consistent on post-touchdown celebrations, commissioner Roger Goodell said he will meet with a group of players in hopes of bringing clarity to the rules while still allowing players to show their personalities and celebrate.

  • NFL notebook: New rules include banning leaping block
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    The NFL approved eight playing rule proposals for the 2017 season Tuesday at the annual owners meeting in Phoenix, including banning the leaping block attempt on field goals and extra-point attempts.

    • The league believes the play is too dangerous and could result in a player being flipped over and seriously injured, ESPN reports. The play was successfully executed during the 2016 season by New England Patriots linebacker Shea McClellin in Week 13 against the Baltimore Ravens.

      Another major change is the way the replay review process will be approached. The sideline replay monitors will be replaced with a handheld device. Once a replay request is activated, authorized members of the league's officiating department will make the final decision on replay reviews in real time.

      The defenseless player designation has been extended to wide receivers running a pass route.

      -- Defensive end Chris Long agreed to a two-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, the team announced.

      Long, who turned 32 on Tuesday, recently announced he wasn't returning to the New England Patriots after winning a Super Bowl ring in his lone season with the team.

      Long posted four sacks for the Patriots last season and has 58 1/2 in his career.

      -- Jason Witten agreed to a four-year contract extension to remain with the Dallas Cowboys through the 2021 season, ESPN reports.

      Witten's deal is reportedly worth a maximum of $29.6 million but does not include guaranteed money. His $12.262 million cap hit for the 2017 season remains the same entering the final year of his existing deal.

      The contract can be restructured to save $4 million in cap space whenever they want, per ESPN.

      -- New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has it on good authority that quarterback Tom Brady is planning to play until his mid-40s.

      "As recently as two, three days ago, he assured me he's willing to play six, seven more years," Kraft told reporters Monday at the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix.

      Quarterback/kicker George Blanda holds the distinction of being the oldest active player in NFL history, playing until age 48.

      -- Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, the lone dissenting vote on the Raiders' relocation to Las Vegas, said fans should never foot the bill for stadium construction.

      Ross, who put down $500 million in private funds for a massive remodel in Miami last offseason, voted against the move as a form of protest, believing Raiders owner Mark Davis did not exhaust his private-funding options before turning to Las Vegas for $750 million.

      -- DuJuan Harris is re-joining the San Francisco 49ers on a one-year deal.

      Over 10 games last season, Harris rushed for 138 yards on 38 carries and caught eight passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.

  • 49ers re-sign RB Harris
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    DuJuan Harris is re-joining the San Francisco 49ers on a one-year deal.

    • The 28-year-old running back agreed to terms with the team on Tuesday. Over 10 games last season, Harris rushed for 138 yards on 38 carries and caught eight passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.

      Before joining the 49ers in 2015, Harris spent time with the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars.

      Harris and defensive tackle Chris Jones are the only two of 20 free agents from last year's team to re-sign with the 49ers.

  • Eagles sign DE Long to two-year deal
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    Defensive end Chris Long agreed to a two-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday, the team announced.

    • Long, who turned 32 on Tuesday, recently announced he wasn't returning to the New England Patriots after winning a Super Bowl ring in his lone season with the team.

      He explained his decision on a post on Instagram.

      "This has zero to do with money, etc.," Long wrote. "It's the right move in my heart because I want to get back to being the player I was before. I'm thankful for my role this year, but as a competitor, I'm itching to do what I do best."

      Long posted four sacks for the Patriots last season and has 58 1/2 in his career. His best outputs were when he had 13 sacks in 2011 and 11 1/2 in 2012 as a member of the St. Louis Rams.

      Long played his first eight seasons with the Rams before joining the Patriots last season. He was the second overall selection of the 2008 NFL Draft.

  • Kraft: Brady isn't retiring in near future
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    Robert Kraft does not expect Tom Brady to retire anytime soon.

    • In fact, the owner of the New England Patriots has it on good authority that the five-time Super Bowl champion quarterback is planning to play until his mid-40s.

      "As recently as two, three days ago, he assured me he's willing to play six, seven more years," Kraft told reporters Monday at the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix.

      Brady, 39, previously stated his desire to play until he is 45. Playing six additional seasons would allow him to reach that goal.

      Quarterback/kicker George Blanda holds the distinction of being the oldest active player in NFL history, playing until age 48.

      Kraft likened Brady's longevity to retired gunslinger Brett Favre.

      "At the level he performed, there is no one who would be happier than I am and our fan base," Kraft said. "When you think about it, there's one player at the age of 40 who had one good year: Favre."

      Favre led the Minnesota Vikings to a first-place finish in the NFC North and a divisional round victory in the playoffs at age 40.

      Brady isn't the only Patriot that Kraft would like to see rack up the year.

      "You see Warren Buffet and Rupert Murdoch, they're in their mid-eighties and performing in a pretty high level, so we're going to keep (coach) Bill (Belichick) healthy," Kraft said.

      Kraft also chimed in on the uncertainty surrounding cornerback Malcolm Butler, who is a restricted free agent. Butler, 27, was tendered a $3.91 million contract for the 2017 season, but has not yet signed it.

      "I hope he's with us and signs his offer sheet and plays for us," Kraft said. "I have a great affection for him. He was part of probably the greatest play in the history of our team."

      Butler visited with the New Orleans Saints earlier this month and drew rave reviews from Saints coach Sean Payton.

      On the topic of inviting NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to the Patriots' banner raising ceremony next season, Kraft said he plans to extend a formal invite to Goodell.

      "Look, he's commissioner in the league," Kraft said, via the Boston Herald. "As we all know, he has the right to go wherever he wishes to go. And if he wanted to come, he's welcomed to come. We're happy we'll be celebrating our fifth banner. He can decide whether he wants to be there."

      New England erased a 25-point deficit en route to a thrilling 34-28 overtime victory in Super Bowl LI, handing the Patriots their fifth championship of the Kraft, Brady and Belichick era.

  • Dolphins' Ross: Owners, not public, must pay for stadiums
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    PHOENIX – Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, the lone dissenting vote on the Raiders' relocation to Las Vegas, said fans should never foot the bill for stadium construction.

    • Ross, who put down $500 million in private funds for a massive remodel in Miami last offseason, voted against the move as a form of protest, believing Raiders owner Mark Davis did not exhaust his private-funding options before turning to Las Vegas for $750 million.

      "I believe when you own a team you're a steward for the city," Ross said. "It's like owning a utility company. And I just don't think everything was done to try and stay in Oakland. "You can only make a deal when the owner wants to make a deal. Who are you going to negotiate with? How is it going to happen? There's got to be a driving force."

      The NFL approved relocation of a third NFL franchise since January 2016, when the Rams were approved for the franchise's fourth move – from St. Louis to Los Angeles. At the end of the 2016 regular season, the San Diego Chargers ended their staredown with that city over stadium financing plans and bolted for L.A., where they'll share a stadium with the Rams.

      Ross felt there were better plans available to the Raiders if they wanted to be in the Bay Area.

      "I was more interested really in the fans in Oakland, and what a team means to the city," Ross said. "That's my primary concern. I think that's who you take into consideration first. You have to exhaust everything to try and stay in a city."

  • Cowboys lock up Witten with four-year extension
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    Jason Witten will remain with the only NFL team he's even known.

    • The 10-time Pro Bowl tight end agreed to a four-year contract extension Tuesday to remain with the Dallas Cowboys through the 2021 season, ESPN reports.

      Witten's deal is reportedly worth a maximum of $29.6 million but does not include guaranteed money. His $12.262 million cap hit for the 2017 season remains the same entering the final year of his existing deal.

      The contract can be restructured to save $4 million in cap space whenever they want, per ESPN.

      This is the fourth contract Witten has signed with the Cowboys since Dallas drafted him with the 69th pick in the third round of the 2003 NFL Draft. Witten turns 35 in May.

      Witten in the Cowboys' all-time leader in receptions (1,089), consecutive games played (219) and started (163), and is 17 yards shy of Michael Irvin's franchise mark of 11,904 receiving yards.

      With two games played next season, Witten will set the Cowboys' franchise record for most games played with the franchise.

      Over his 14 seasons, Witten has 11,888 receiving yards and 63 touchdowns in 223 games. He ranks fourth on the Cowboys' all-time touchdown receptions list, eight behind leader Bob Hayes.

      Last season, Witten had 673 receiving yards and three scores on 69 catches. He has recorded at least 60 catches in every season since his rookie campaign.

  • Raiders' approval to move: Mirage in the Desert?
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    PHOENIX -- After more than 40 years of pursuit, the Oakland Raiders finally received what they sought from the National Football League -- approval to move the franchise, with a 31-1 vote.

    • This is long after the historic 1980s legal sparring on the subject, featuring team owner Al Davis, commissioner Pete Rozelle and famed anti-trust attorney Joe Alioto. Sadly, they are all gone. Left to savor the apparent victory are Davis' son, Mark, and Al's beloved widow, Carol.

      So, they should toast the moment. Viva Las Vegas! Right?

      Maybe not. Time will tell.

      While the blush of accomplishment dominated the moment Monday, future actions could reduce the big announcement here this week to more of a Mirage in the Desert.

      There is distinct danger of a surprise twist to the ending, which could conceivably include Mark Davis losing controlling interest as managing general partner of the Raiders.

      Team executives and others involved in the situation told The Sports Xchange they fear that the fast-paced approval to move is an elaborate setup that could put Davis in jeopardy of eventually losing the team if he is unable to handle the burden of about $1.25 billion in debt.

      Mark Davis and team president Marc Badain did not respond to requests to discuss this specific situation. But at least four knowledgeable sources with vested interests in the situation were eager to express concerns. One prominent participant, a long-time close friend of the Davis family, revealed that Davis was "warned about" these worries.

      "It could become a hell of a juggling act for Mark if things don't go smoothly," one lawyer involved with the NFL told The Sports Xchange. "There are people in this league who believe they would benefit if somebody with more money owned the Raiders. That 31-1 vote is curious if you consider a few months ago several owners were adamant that they preferred another owner for the Raiders, one with more money."

      If this is an ambush designed to take out Davis, it would be a distressing and diabolical end to a Raiders tale that Al Davis first mentioned to me 40 years ago at this same Arizona Biltmore hotel during this same NFL owners meeting, circa 1977. It was a mere hint, but the type that fellow owners would learn to heed over the next decade.

      Emboldened at the time by the Raiders' Super Bowl XI victory, Davis shared his dissatisfaction about the Oakland Coliseum with his friend, Los Angeles Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom, who himself was upset about his team's Coliseum in L.A.

      In July that year, Davis visited Rosenbloom for a follow-up chat and returned late that evening to the team's El Rancho Tropicana training camp in Santa Rosa, Calif. We sat at a booth in the hotel restaurant and he teased this reporter with a wild and weird comment.

      "The Los Angeles Raiders, what you think?" he said with that sly Davis grin. I thought he was kidding, or at least teasing. But Al Davis rarely said something that wasn't aimed at a target. In this case, he was concerned that the already outdated Oakland Coliseum would not allow his Raiders to compete for players in the free agency system he believed was just around the corner.

      Said Davis that evening in Santa Rosa: "Carroll's not happy, I'm not happy, so what do think?"

      These were two of the most bombastic owners in NFL history. In 1972, Rosenbloom shocked the sports industry with a tax-free trade of franchises, giving up the Baltimore Colts to Robert Irsay in exchange for the Los Angeles Rams.

      Now he wanted a better stadium. So did Davis, if not in Oakland then Rosenbloom said he would not prevent Davis from moving the Raiders to Los Angeles (a discussion eventually verified in court testimony by Rosenbloom's wife, Georgia). After all, Rosenbloom was already planning to move the Rams to Anaheim while awaiting an even better home. But Rosenbloom died in a mysterious 1979 drowning before the Rams went to Anaheim in 1980.

      Also in 1980, Davis failed to get luxury boxes for the Oakland Coliseum, so he followed through on his 1977 talk with Rosenbloom and signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Los Angeles Coliseum. But, back here at the Arizona Biltmore during the NFL owners meeting in 1980, the move, which ostensibly required a three-fourths majority, was defeated, 22-0, with five abstentions.

      So the legal feud began. Armed with only a mistrial in the anti-trust case, Davis moved the Raiders to Los Angeles and even won a Super Bowl that season, the team's second championship in four years. But after more failed attempts at getting a better stadium, the team returned to Oakland in 1995, and unrest has reigned ever since.

      Since Al Davis' death in 2011, several owners admitted that the Raiders and the league might be financially better off with a Raiders owner who has deeper pockets than Mark Davis.

      But, almost mystically, this negativity disappeared in recent weeks and remarks about the Raiders moving to Las Vegas were glowing, with such fast movers as Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft singing the praises of the deal.

      Meanwhile, in the wake of several ambitious financial moves, Davis will be staring at a debt of approximately $1.25 billion. This all became a high-wire act when Las Vegas entrepreneur Sheldon Adelson withdrew his support, reported to be $650 million. It was believe that would prevent the move.

      But Davis sought and secured financing from Bank of America, which frequently works with NFL teams and the league itself. The loan was reported to be $650 million, but might be closer to $450 million. To that financial burden add the relocation fee estimated to be between $325 and $375 million, an NFL loan of $200 million -- to be paid back through premium ticket sales -- and $250 million for which the team is liable. Another $50 million cash is due from the team and reportedly was paid.

      This is not an impossible scenario to overcome. Well, not for the Joneses and Krafts of the world. But unless all goes extremely well, including selling seat licenses, Davis could become vulnerable to a debt that is difficult to manage unless he sells some of the team, and the key may be how much of the team need be sold and how much can he keep if there are problems.

      Although Al was ruthlessly ridiculed in his last years because of the team's lack of success, he made subtle moves to lower the barrier that the NFL will accept for a controlling partner with less than 50 percent ownership. Al was always such an owner after evolving from coach to commissioner to owner/managing general partner. That barrier was once 40 percent, but it was reportedly lowered to 20. That may be a key in Mark Davis' ability to maintain control.

      Mark Davis inherited and/or bought ownership of the team from his mother, Carol. She is a spectacularly strong person who dramatically overcame a massive stroke in 1979. Now 84 years old, she was, notably, in Canton, Ohio, last August at the party celebrating the induction of quarterback Ken Stabler into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

      She and Mark inherited the 40 percent left by Al. It is unclear if they transferred any or all of that to Mark.

      Possible mother-son ownership transactions notwithstanding, it is possible that when Carol passes, Mark will incur some combination of debt or federal inheritance tax, which is 45 percent. Nevada doesn't have state inheritance tax, and California rescinded it effective 2005.

      According to Forbes, the team increased in value from about $1.5 billion to $2.1 billion since the death of Al Davis. But that increased equity is only available if it is sold or leveraged.

      Therefore, after permission was granted for the move this week, the future of Mark Davis' controlling ownership of the Raiders in Las Vegas may rely on how well he can handle a 45 percent hit by inheritance tax and how well premium seat licenses service the debt they are assigned to eliminate.

      But Monday, Mark reveled in the moment after the vote when he said, "My father always said, 'The greatness of the Raiders is in its future.'"

      Forty years after his father began this tortured journey, that future is now. Mark secured the approval the league denied Al. But even as Mark celebrates the moment, there are concerns that he should be worried and wary about getting what he wished for in such a sudden and lopsided manner.

      --Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange, has covered football since 1965, including the Raiders from 1969 through 1980, and he represents the Raiders franchise as a selector in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. While covering Raiders training camps in Santa Rosa, he often ended the day at the hotel restaurant talking with Al Davis in the owner's reserved booth.

  • NFL notebook: Raiders approved to relocate to Las Vegas
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, March 27, 2017

    The Oakland Raiders are moving to Las Vegas.

    • NFL team owners voted 31-1 to approve the Raiders' application to relocate to Las Vegas during the annual league meetings in Phoenix on Monday. The Miami Dolphins were reportedly the lone opposing team to vote against the move.

      NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote a letter to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf late Friday evening that expressed disappointment in the city's latest stadium finance proposal, which was never delivered to the league, but instead announced publicly. That didn't to go over well with the league, which viewed it as political cover.

      Schaaf released a statement Monday, saying, "I am disappointed that the Raiders and the NFL chose Las Vegas over Oakland when we had a fully-financed, shovel-ready stadium project that would have kept the Raiders in Oakland where they were born and raised. I am proud that we stood firm in refusing to use public money to subsidize stadium construction and that we did not capitulate to their unreasonable and unnecessary demand that we choose between our football and baseball franchises.

      The Raiders won't immediately move to Las Vegas because construction of their planned $1.7 billion domed stadium, near the Strip, isn't expected to be completed until 2020. The stadium would be financed with $750 million in public funding and a $450 million construction loan from Bank of America, with the Raiders and the NFL adding a combined $500 million.

      --Seattle Seahawks backup quarterback Trevone Boykin was arrested early Monday morning in Dallas after a car in which he was a passenger crashed into a night club, injuring eight people.

      Boykin, 23, was arrested on misdemeanor charges of marijuana possession and public intoxication. He was being held on $500 bond at the Dallas County Jail.

      According to a statement from the Dallas Police Department, a woman, Shabrika Bailey, was driving a vehicle about 2 a.m. and "accelerated in reverse at a high rate of speed," hitting seven pedestrians on the sidewalk and crashing into a bar. A bartender was injured when bottles of alcohol and a large cooler fell.

      Boykin is currently on probation for an incident in 2015 when he was TCU's starting quarterback. Boykin was arrested in San Antonio after he allegedly punched a police officer who was trying to break up a bar fight on Dec. 31, 2015, two days before TCU was to play in the 2016 Alamo Bowl. The team suspended him for the game, and he later pleaded no contest to a charge of resisting arrest in June 2016 and received one year of deferred adjudication probation.

      --Chicago Bears cornerback Deiondre' Hall and Green Bay Packers cornerback Makinton Dorleant were arrested over the weekend following an incident at a bar in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

      The former teammates played college football in Cedar Falls at Northern Iowa and entered the NFL in 2016. According to Cedar Falls police, officers responded to a disturbance outside a local bar on Saturday night after a bouncer said he was assaulted when a fight broke out inside.

      Hall, 22, was arrested and cited for disorderly conduct, public intoxication and interference. Police said Hall did not respond to the officers' instructions and spit in their faces, according to the affidavit. Hall resisted arrest and an officer tasered his left leg to get him in the squad car, police said.

      Dorleant, 24, was cited for interference after authorities said he approached officers "in a threatening manner" following Hall's arrest.

      --The Los Angeles Chargers announced Monday that all season tickets currently available for the 30,000-seat StubHub Center are sold out for the 2017 season.

      The Chargers began offering seats to existing season ticket holders in late February and opened sales to the general public on March 9. In January, the Chargers moved the franchise to Los Angeles for the 2017 season after 56 years in San Diego.

      The team said it placed a hold on "several thousand additional tickets for players and their families, visiting team use, community relations and promotional purposes" for the 2017 season.

  • Pro Day roundup: Forrest Lamp, Tyus Bowser show first-round form
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, March 27, 2017

    Western Kentucky's projected first-round pick, Forrest Lamp, was the highlight of a relatively short list of Pro Day workouts on Monday.

    • The 6-foot-4, 309 pound Lamp, who checks in as the top guard on NFLDraftScout.com's board and No. 28th ranked overall prospect, was put through an extensive positional workout Monday by Cincinnati Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander. The workout took place in front of dozens of scouts representing an estimated 20 NFL teams.

      Lamp, a four-year starter and two-time first-team All-Conference USA selection at left tackle for the Hilltoppers, lined up at tackle, guard and even center during the workout, delivering snaps to Alexander in an effort to show his positional versatility.

      Lamp is expected to slide inside to guard or center despite his experience outside at tackle because of shorter-than-ideal arms, which were measured at 32 1/4 at the Combine.

      Lamp's performance Monday continued the positive momentum he has created for himself throughout his senior season, a year that began with a massive test against Alabama and its vaunted and versatile defensive line and continued with impressive showings at the Senior Bowl and in Indianapolis last month, where his 5.0-second time in the 40-yard dash, 34 repetitions of 225 pounds, 7.55 second 3-cone time and 9-foot, 11-inch broad jump each ranked among the top scores for offensive line.

      Lamp started three games at guard as a redshirt freshman and returned to this position two months ago at the Senior Bowl. His quickness, active hands and core strength stood out against the defensive tackles in Mobile, drawing comparisons to former Notre Dame left tackle turned Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl left guard Zach Martin from some talent evaluators.

      Houston

      The star attraction at Houston's Pro Day was flashy edge rusher Tyus Bowser, who, like Lamp -- shined at the Senior Bowl and Combine and ultimately decided that his positional workout was most important on Monday, largely opting to sit on his results from Indianapolis.

      Of course, that is not surprising given that the muscle-bound 6-foot-3, 247-pound Bowser lit up the track in Indianapolis, posting a 4.65-second time in the 40-yard dash, a 37.5 vertical jump and a 6.75 second 3-cone time -- each among the top results for linebackers.

      One timed drill that Bowser attempted to complete Monday was the short shuttle, though he struggled to do so. Bowser slipped repeatedly during the timed drill and was asked to repeat it a few times before he and the rest of Houston's linebackers and defensive linemen moved on to the positional workout, which was alternately led by scouts and coaches representing the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans.

      Though he did struggle at times with his feet slipping out from under him during the positional workout as well (including when running the arc to simulate rushing the passer), overall Bowser performed well. He changes directions quickly and accelerates smoothly for a man of his size -- perhaps not surprising given that he played both basketball and football in his first two years for the Cougars.

      Asked to rush the passer off the edge as well as drop back into coverage, Bowser is viewed as one of the better all-around outside linebackers in this class. He currently checks in at seventh at the position on NFLDraftScout.com's board and as a solid day-two value. After logging 8.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss in just eight games last season and building off that production with stellar performances in Mobile and Indianapolis, however, Bowser has generated a lot of buzz in the scouting community with some characterizing him as a possible first round sleeper.

      BYU

      The Houston Cougars completed their Pro Day on Monday, but cats of a different color were still on the minds of scouts after an impressive workout from BYU linebacker Harvey Langi last Friday.

      The 6-foot-2, 251 pound Langi is one of the more intriguing sleepers of this year's crop of linebackers. He actually began his career playing running back at Utah before transferring to the archrival Cougars and the defensive side of the ball after a two year LDS mission.

      He emerged as a starter at inside linebacker in 2015 and had 68 tackles, including 6.5 for loss and 4.5 sacks. He was asked to move outside this past season and the third change of position seemed to slow him down.

      While he put up respectable numbers (57 tackles, including five for loss and two sacks), Langi was not the same difference-maker, though he did earn an invitation to the Combine, where he showed an impressive combination of agility (4.32 seconds in the short shuttle) and bench press (23 reps) but opted not to run the 40-yard dash, at least until Friday when he was clocked in the low 4.6s and really turned heads with his positional workout.

      Langi is currently ranked 15th among inside linebackers on NFLDraftScout.com's board and as a priority free agent. Based on the buzz created since his workout, however, his stock with teams is much higher than most in the media realize.

      Six teams that have expressed significant interest since Langi's workout, including the Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers, many of which have significant needs at inside linebacker.

      Rob Rang is a Senior Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, distributed in partnership with The Sports Xchange and CBSSports.com.

  • Raiders legends disappointed by move to Vegas
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, March 27, 2017

    PHOENIX -- Reaction from the most historic living legends in Oakland Raiders history was one of severe disappointment and even suspicion when they learned Monday the NFL approved the franchise's move to Las Vegas by a 31-1 vote of league owners meeting here.

    • "This is a tough day for me and all Raiders fans," Hall of Fame coach John Madden told The Sports Xchange. "I coached the Oakland Raiders. I didn't like it when they left for L.A. and I was happy as hell when they returned to Oakland where they belong.

      "I know (owner) Mark Davis did what he had to do but you still think there could have been a way to keep them where they belong. The Oakland Raiders belong in Oakland. This hurts, it really does."

      Madden was head coach of the Raiders from 1969 through 1978, went to five consecutive AFC title games and coached the Super Bowl XI championship team in the 1976 season.

      Jim Otto and Tom Flores, the center and quarterback for the first play in franchise history (1960), were both saddened by news that the team can be Las Vegas-bound within the next three years.

      Otto became the Hall of Famer known as Mr. Raider and Flores went on to be head coach of two franchise Super Bowl teams, after the 1980 and 1983 seasons. The first was as the Oakland Raiders, the second was in Los Angeles, although the team still practiced in Northern California.

      "I've been through it and we did fairly well, but I really don't like this move," said Flores from his home near Palm Desert, Calif. "I remain optimistic against the odds. The way I see it, the NFL gave the Raiders permission to move, but as we all know things have a way of changing. I support Mark Davis and whatever he must do, but I think there remains the opportunity to rescind this whole move.

      "It seems there was a proposal from the mayor that the NFL said was too little too late. There are reasons, I am sure, and this subject has been a big one in Oakland for decades, yet somehow it feels this deal was slammed through too fast, before exhausting opportunities all over the East Bay."

      Flores continues to be the voice of the Raiders on radio game coverage and he said he is ready to go wherever is necessary.

      "Regardless, I'll always be a Raider and cherish my time with them and I'll go to Vegas if they will have me," he said.

      Otto echoed Flores in believing there were opportunities that were not explored completely and was dismayed by what he called "Rush week" the past few days.

      "What was the hurry?" Otto asked in a phone call from his home in Auburn, Calif. "The team can't move for years anyway and they could have voted later this year while Oakland had more time to flesh out that latest proposal. I can name several areas they could have pursued."

      But Otto's main concern is where the team is going.

      "Las Vegas is not a place for any NFL team," he said. "People can say what they want, but there will be temptations that the players don't need. And Las Vegas has the population of middle- and lower middle-class workers and we don't know if they can sustain an NFL franchise.

      "I fully respect what Mark Davis must do and, in the end, I give him my total support. But right now I am not happy. The Raiders belong in the Oakland area. It's not like we didn't see this coming, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt. It hurts a lot."

      Third -year Raiders quarterback Derek Carr may reflect how current players buy in to the probability of a move. Carr, born in Fresno, attended Fresno State and was drafted in the second round by the Raiders in 2014. Now rehabbing a leg injury incurred Dec. 24, Carr will be 26 years old Tuesday and spent all but two of those years in California (two high school years in Texas).

      He was obviously conflicted by the announcement Monday,

      "As I sit here and see a vote that takes the Raiders to Las Vegas, I am overwhelmed with emotion," Carr wrote in a statement released by the Raiders. "I don't know how we should feel. I feel the pain of our fans in Oakland. I also see the joy on the faces of our new fans in Las Vegas. As players, we will show up and give everything we have. We will compete and we will do our best to bring a championship to the entire Raider Nation.

      "While I am from California and would have loved playing in Oakland my whole career, I understand the business side of the NFL. It affects us all. Oakland, our team loves you, and my family and I love you. We will be resilient and We will stay together because that's what true Raiders do. We are loyal, even when it's hard. We stick together, especially when it's tough.

      "So, Las Vegas, you can count on us bringing a piece of Oakland with us and you are getting a tough, loyal, and competitive fan base and team. When the time comes, I hope you are ready. For now, it's about 2017 and our diehards in Oakland. God bless & Go Raiders!"

  • Season tickets for Chargers sold out
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, March 27, 2017

    The Los Angeles Chargers announced Monday that all season tickets currently available for the 30,000-seat StubHub Center are sold out for the 2017 season.

    • The Chargers began offering seats to existing season ticket holders in late February and opened sales to the general public on March 9.

      In January, the Chargers announced their plans to move the franchise to Los Angeles for the 2017 season after 56 years in San Diego.

      The team said it placed a hold on "several thousand additional tickets for players and their families, visiting team use, community relations and promotional purposes" for the 2017 season.

      The organization said it will look to free up additional seats from the team's hold tickets and from additional improvements at StubHub Center, which will have by far the NFL's smallest capacity.

      The Chargers will join the Los Angeles Rams in a $2.66 billion stadium that Rams owner Stan Kroenke is building in Inglewood, Calif. The stadium is expected to be finished for the 2019 season.

  • NFL owners approve Raiders' move to Vegas
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, March 27, 2017

    PHOENIX -- The Oakland Raiders are moving to Las Vegas.

    • NFL team owners voted 31-1 to approve the Raiders' application to relocate to Las Vegas during the annual league meetings in Phoenix on Monday. The Miami Dolphins were reportedly the lone opposing team to vote against the move.

      "We believe we, and the Raiders, have worked earnestly for over a decade to find a viable option in Oakland," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. "We believe we went the extra mile to find that solution in Oakland.

      "I wanted to thank (Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf) for her effort to find a viable solution. ... We're particularly disappointed for the fans. We worked as tirelessly and as hard as we could to try to find that solution. We just couldn't get that done."

      The one owner that cast a no vote, Stephen Ross of the Dolphins, clearly doesn't believe that was the case. In a statement, Ross said, "My position today was that we as owners and as a League owe it to the fans to do everything we can to stay in the communities that have supported us until all options have been exhausted."

      Goodell wrote a letter to Schaaf late Friday evening that expressed disappointment in the city's latest stadium finance proposal, which were never delivered to the league, but instead announced publicly. That didn't to go over well with the league, which viewed it as political cover.

      Schaaf released a statement Monday, saying, "I am disappointed that the Raiders and the NFL chose Las Vegas over Oakland when we had a fully-financed, shovel-ready stadium project that would have kept the Raiders in Oakland where they were born and raised.

      "I am proud that we stood firm in refusing to use public money to subsidize stadium construction and that we did not capitulate to their unreasonable and unnecessary demand that we choose between our football and baseball franchises.

      "As a lifelong Oaklander, my heart aches today for the Raider Nation. These are the most committed and passionate fans any city or team could hope to have. They deserved better."

      Raiders owner Mark Davis filed an application with the league in January to move the team to Las Vegas in time for the 2020 season. He needed at least 24 of 32 votes by the owners.

      The Raiders won't immediately move to Las Vegas because construction of their planned $1.7 billion domed stadium, near the Strip, isn't expected to be completed until 2020. The stadium would be financed with $750 million in public funding and a $450 million construction loan from Bank of America, with the Raiders and the NFL adding a combined $500 million.

      "The Raiders were born in Oakland and Oakland will always be part of our DNA," Davis said Monday. "We know that some fans will be disappointed and even angry, but we hope that they do not direct that frustration to the players, coaches and staff. We plan to play at the Coliseum in 2017 and 2018, and hope to stay there as the Oakland Raiders until the new stadium opens. We would love nothing more than to bring a championship back to the Bay Area."

      The Raiders will play this season at the Oakland Coliseum and have a contract option to play there again in 2018, but would need to play the 2019 season in a temporary facility unless a new agreement can be reached in Oakland.

      The Raiders have been in Oakland in 45 of the franchise's 58 seasons, including the last 22. The Raiders moved to Los Angeles for the 1982 season and played there 13 years before the late Al Davis moved the team back to Oakland in 1995.

      "My father always said, 'the greatness of the Raiders is in its future,' and the opportunity to build a world-class stadium in the entertainment capital of the world is a significant step toward achieving that greatness," Davis said. "I would like to thank commissioner Roger Goodell, the National Football League and my 31 partners. I would also like to thank Governor Brian Sandoval and the Nevada Legislature for their commitment. Finally, I would like to thank Sheldon Adelson for his vision and leadership, without which this project never would have become a reality."

      The Vegas deal appeared dead a few months ago when Adelson and then Goldman Sachs could not reach agreement with the Raiders on the extra $450 million needed for the project. That figure has been frequently reported as $650 million as has the stadium cost of $1.9 billion. However, the Sports Business Journal reported the lower figures.

      However, Davis secured the financing from Bank of America to keep the project moving forward and winning the support of league ownership.

      Bob McNair, owner of the Houston Texans and chair of the league's finance and stadium committees, said, "This is a very sound plan. It was looked at very carefully and we believe it will lead to a more stable Raiders franchise."

      As for Oakland's efforts to keep the team, McNair said, "For two years we have tried to find a solution, an answer in Oakland. But we weren't able to."

      It was 440 days ago on Jan. 12, 2016, that the league voted to move the Rams from St. Louis to Los Angeles, rejecting the 5-1 recommendation of the league's Los Angeles Opportunities Committee to have the Raiders and Chargers play in a Carson, Calif., stadium. The Chargers were granted the first option to be a second team to play in the stadium Rams owner Stan Kroenke is building in Inglewood. The Chargers exercised that option two months ago.

      Monday, Davis was asked when he seriously started looking at other options after the 2016 move failed. He said the only effort to keep the team was "five pieces of paper. They were waiting for us to lose the vote so they would have the leverage."

      The Raiders reached an agreement for two one-year options to continue playing in Oakland, but shortly after the vote, Davis said he received a call from a county supervisor informing him the rent on the lease just negotiated would be raised.

      Said Davis, "I agreed to pay it, but at that point I knew I had to start looking elsewhere."

      That looking ended up being Las Vegas.

  • Seahawks QB Boykin arrested after Dallas car crash
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, March 27, 2017

    Seattle Seahawks backup quarterback Trevone Boykin was arrested early Monday morning in Dallas after a car in which he was a passenger crashed into a night club, injuring eight people.

    • Boykin, 23, was arrested on misdemeanor charges of marijuana possession and public intoxication. He was being held on $500 bond at the Dallas County Jail.

      According to a statement from the Dallas Police Department, a woman, Shabrika Bailey, was driving a vehicle about 2 a.m. and "accelerated in reverse at a high rate of speed," hitting seven pedestrians on the sidewalk and crashing into a bar. A bartender was injured when bottles of alcohol and a large cooler fell.

      The pedestrians on the sidewalk were taken to local hospitals with injuries that included a broken ankle and a dislocated arm, according to Fox4News in Dallas-Fort Worth, but none had life-threatening injuries.

      Bailey, 25, was charged with two counts of Intoxication Assault with a Vehicle -- Serious Bodily Injury, a felony 3 charge, police said.

      "We are aware of the situation involving Trevone Boykin," the Seahawks said in a statement posted on Twitter. "We are still gathering information and are disappointed."

      Boykin is currently on probation for an incident in 2015 when he was TCU's starting quarterback.

      Boykin was arrested in San Antonio after he allegedly punched a police officer who was trying to break up a bar fight on Dec. 31, 2015, two days before TCU was to play in the 2016 Alamo Bowl. The team suspended him for the game, and he later pleaded no contest to a charge of resisting arrest in June 2016 and received one year of deferred adjudication probation.

      Boykin was not selected in the 2016 NFL Draft and later signed a three-year free agent deal with the Seahawks. He played in five games as a backup last season, going 13-of-18 passing for 145 yards with one touchdown and an interception.

  • Bears' Hall, Packers' Dorleant arrested in Iowa
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, March 27, 2017

    Chicago Bears cornerback Deiondre' Hall and Green Bay Packers cornerback Makinton Dorleant were arrested over the weekend following an incident at a bar in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

    • The former teammates played college football in Cedar Falls at Northern Iowa and entered the NFL in 2016.

      According to Cedar Falls police, officers responded to a disturbance outside a local bar on Saturday night after a bouncer said he was assaulted when a fight broke out inside.

      Hall, 22, was arrested and cited for disorderly conduct, public intoxication and interference. Police said Hall did not respond to the officers' instructions and spit in their faces, according to the affidavit. Hall resisted arrest and an officer tasered his left leg to get him in the squad car, police said.

      Dorleant, 24, was cited for interference after authorities said he approached officers "in a threatening manner" following Hall's arrest.

      "The bouncer at the front door, he wasn't letting us in," Dorleant told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a phone interview. "He forced me out, and then Deiondre' saw it and there was a little shoving, like other guys too that we were hanging out with. Then the police came and they just had to separate us.

      "They took me and Deiondre' -- not away but they drove us off just because there was a scene. We ended up driving away downtown. Then we got let go. That was really it. Nothing else really happened from what I know."

      The Bears selected Hall in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He appeared in eight games last season, making nine tackles, one interception and three passes defensed.

      Dorleant was an undrafted free agent and played in four games for the Packers, making one tackle, and ended the year on injured reserve with a knee injury.

      The Bears said they were aware of the incident but withheld comment. Green Bay issued a statement saying the team also was aware of the incident and was "in the process of gathering more information. Because this is an ongoing legal matter, we will withhold further comment."

  • Raiders' move expected to be approved Monday
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 26, 2017

    PHOENIX -- If only the walls could talk inside the Arizona Biltmore, where NFL relocation has been front and center over the last three decades.

    • As the 2017 league meetings began Sunday with an opening address by commissioner Roger Goodell, owners were poised to vote Monday to approve the relocation of the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas, another desert city just under 300 miles away.

      A high-ranking league source told The Sports Xchange the vote will happen Monday and the move very likely will be approved without any contingencies regarding a lease agreement or site selection as had been speculated.

      "The lease isn't done, but that's just a formality," the source said. "There's very little room wiggle room on what has to be finalized."

      As for the site, which is at the start of The Strip and near I-15, the source added, "It's a great site. And while it's not big enough for ample parking, Las Vegas does parking very well."

      That was a reference to the numerous hotels with large parking areas. The league has become bullish on Las Vegas after Raiders owner Mark Davis put together what has been reported as a $1.9 billion stadium deal that includes $750 million in public money to be financed by a hotel sales tax, $650 million in a loan from Bank of America that will be guaranteed by the league, and $500 million combined from Davis and the NFL.

      Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal reported the actual stadium cost is just under $1.7 billion, and that another $200 million of public money is earmarked for future capital improvements. Kaplan reported the Bank of America loan is actually about $450 million.

      Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told USA Today that Monday will "be an exciting day for Vegas."

      Very significant is that Oakland, despite years to put together a deal to keep the team, failed.

      Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf grabbed headlines Friday when she claimed the city had put together an offer for a $1.3 billion stadium, and told ESPN, "What I am confident about is, if the Raiders want to stay in Oakland, we have a viable plan to build them a stadium with no upfront money from them, in financial terms that I believe are more favorable to them than the terms in Las Vegas -- what we know of them."

      She added, "Of course, we have something that Vegas can never offer, and that's legacy and loyalty. This team was born in Oakland. This team enjoys some of the most passionate and dedicated fans of any NFL franchise. Those things belong uniquely to Oakland."

      That deal, communicated to the NFL, included the same $500 million pledged by the league and Davis for Las Vegas, $600 million in a loan or guarantee (whichever Davis prefers) from financial equity firm Fortress and $200 million from the city for conveyance and infrastructure improvements.

      It didn't take long for the league to respond. While Schaaf's letter said the proposal was "viable and responsible," in a letter obtained by the East Bay Times, Goodell wrote, "Despite all of these efforts, ours and yours, we have not yet identified a viable solution. It is disappointing to me and our clubs to have come to that conclusion.

      "We have been prepared for nearly two years to work on finding a solution based on access to land at a certain cost, without constraints on the location of the stadium or timing of construction, and clarity on the overall development. However, at this date, there remains no certainty regarding how the site will be fully developed, or the specific and contractually-defined nature of the participation by Fortress or other parties.

      "In addition, the long-term nature of the commitment to the A's remains a significant complication and the resolution of that issue remains unknown."

      It is also significant that the first sentence of Goodell's letter says, "We have had an opportunity to review the material your office released today regarding a stadium project in Oakland for the Raiders," giving the appearance that Schaaf's proposal wasn't communicated directly to the commissioner, leading many in the league to believe the proposal was simply political cover.

      Jets owner Woody Johnson, a member of the NFL's finance committee, said of Oakland's effort to keep the team, "They didn't make a valiant effort."

      In March 1988, the league approved the move of the St. Louis Cardinals to Phoenix. Seven years later, the move of the Los Angeles Rams to St. Louis was first voted down by the league, only to be approved one month later.

      Two years ago in Phoenix, Rams owner Stan Kroenke told the league his plans to move back to Los Angeles. Many owners were opposed and said it wouldn't be approved. Ten months later, the league rejected the recommendation of the Los Angeles Opportunities Committee to move the Raiders and Chargers to a stadium in Carson, Calif., instead in a secret vote deciding to allow Kroenke to move the Rams into a $2.6 billion stadium in Inglewood.

      With the Chargers reaching agreement two months ago to play in Inglewood, the Raiders were the only team in limbo.

      That will be rectified as early as lunchtime on the veranda Monday.

  • NFL notebook: Goodell no fan of Oakland's latest pitch
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 26, 2017

    The City of Oakland's 11th-hour stadium plan appears to be too little, too late for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's liking.

    • Goodell responded to the stadium proposal ahead of this week's annual league meeting in Phoenix, sending a letter on Friday evening to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf that he believes the city has yet to find "a viable solution" to keeping the Raiders there.

      Earlier on Friday, the City of Oakland and its partners submitted a revised financing plan for a $1.3 billion mixed-use stadium project on the site of the current home of the Raiders, who have called Oakland home for 45 of their 58 seasons, including each of the past 22.

      "The material that we reviewed earlier today ... confirms that key issues that we have identified as threshold considerations are simply not resolvable in a reasonable time," the commissioner said in the letter obtained by ESPN and other media outlets, "and in that respect, the information sent today does not present a proposal that is clear and specific, actionable in a reasonable time frame and free of major contingencies."

      Raiders owner Mark Davis is said to have "great support" to move the franchise from Oakland to Las Vegas after several years of failed contract talks with the city.

      A vote could be held in Phoenix during the NFL meetings on Monday or Tuesday, with Davis needing 24 votes of 32 franchise owners in order to begin finalizing relocation to Las Vegas.

      --Almost three weeks after the Cleveland Browns acquired Brock Osweiler in a surprise trade with the Houston Texans, the quarterback remains in limbo.

      All signs still point that Osweiler will either be traded again or released before the 2017 season, but Browns head coach Hue Jackson said he is preparing for the upcoming NFL draft and season as if Osweiler is staying on his roster.

      The Browns, who were 1-15 last season, have the No. 1 pick in the April 27-29 draft.

      Jackson was asked by NFL Network's Steve Wyche in an interview that will air Monday if Osweiler was going to be a part of the Browns this year.

      "He is," the coach said. "Obviously, he's a player on our team and we're going to treat him just like we do all of our other quarterbacks until he's not.

      "He's a guy that's gonna come in and compete. We haven't had an opportunity to meet with him from a football standpoint because of the rules. But once we start our offseason program, phase one, we'll get a chance to know him and he'll get to know us."

      The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported shortly after the March 9 trade that Osweiler was not in the Browns' plans. The Browns are willing to send Osweiler and a fifth-round pick for a third-round pick, according to the newspaper, and absorb a portion of the 26-year-old Osweiler's $16 million guaranteed contract, as much as half.

      --Detroit Lions running back Theo Riddick underwent surgery on both of his wrists before going on injured reserve last season, according to multiple reports.

      Riddick, 25, missed the final month of the regular season last year with a wrist injury, but it turns out the surgery on both wrists prompted his season-ending trip to IR, sources told the Detroit Free Press on Sunday.

      Riddick had a large cast on his left wrist in January during the locker cleanout session following the Lions' 26-6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the wild-card playoff game. At the time, he declined to say what the injury was or whether he had surgery on the wrist, according to ESPN.

      The 5-foot-9, 201-pound Riddick played in 10 games last season for the Lions, starting eight, and rushed a career-high 92 times for a career-best 357 yards and a touchdown. He also had 53 catches for 371 yards and five touchdowns before his injuries.

  • Lions RB Riddick reportedly had surgery on both wrists
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 26, 2017

    Detroit Lions running back Theo Riddick underwent surgery on both of his wrists before going on injured reserve last season, according to multiple reports Sunday.

    • Riddick, 25, missed the final month of the regular season last year with a wrist injury, but it turns out the surgery on both wrists prompted his season-ending trip to IR, sources told the Detroit Free Press on Sunday.

      Riddick had a large cast on his left wrist in January during the locker cleanout session following the Lions' 26-6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the wild-card playoff game. At the time, he declined to say what the injury was or whether he had surgery on the wrist, according to ESPN.

      Lions coach Jim Caldwell, after putting Riddick on injured reserve Dec. 31, also declined to say whether Riddick would need surgery.

      Riddick is expected to be a full participant in organized team activities later this spring, according to the Free Press.

      The 5-foot-9, 201-pound Riddick played in 10 games last season for the Lions, starting eight, and rushed a career-high 92 times for a career-best 357 yards and a touchdown. He also had 53 catches for 371 yards and five touchdowns before his injuries.

  • Jackson: Osweiler is Browns' quarterback until he's not
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 26, 2017

    Almost three weeks after the Cleveland Browns acquired Brock Osweiler in a surprise trade with the Houston Texans, the quarterback remains in limbo.

    • All signs still point that Osweiler will either be traded again or released before the 2017 season, but Browns head coach Hue Jackson said he is preparing for the upcoming NFL draft and season as if Osweiler is staying on his roster.

      The Browns, who were 1-15 last season, have the No. 1 pick in the April 27-29 draft.

      Jackson was asked by NFL Network's Steve Wyche in an interview that will air Monday if Osweiler was going to be a part of the Browns this year.

      "He is," the coach said. "Obviously, he's a player on our team and we're going to treat him just like we do all of our other quarterbacks until he's not.

      "He's a guy that's gonna come in and compete. We haven't had an opportunity to meet with him from a football standpoint because of the rules. But once we start our offseason program, phase one, we'll get a chance to know him and he'll get to know us."

      Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported shortly after the March 9 trade that Osweiler was not in the Browns' plans. The Browns are willing to send Osweiler and a fifth-round pick for a third-round pick, according to the newspaper.

      The Browns would be willing to absorb a portion of the 26-year-old Osweiler's $16 million guaranteed contract, as much as half, sources told the newspaper.

      The Browns acquired Osweiler along with the Texans' 2018 second-round pick and a 2017 sixth-rounder (188). In exchange, the Browns gave up their fourth-round compensatory pick in this year's draft (No. 142 overall) and took Osweiler's guaranteed contract off the Texans' books.

      "I think you always are (in the market for a QB)," Jackson told NFL Network during the interview. "I think you're always looking to improve that room because I think we all know that that's the driver of your football team. I think we'll continue to look for ways to improve the room as much as we can. But I just think, as we go through it, we'll continue to coach the guys that are there and give them the best opportunity and continue to find ways to get better."

      Browns general manager Sashi Brown spoke highly of the second-round pick the team landed in the trade with the Texans but gave just a passing mention to Osweiler.

      "We're really excited to acquire a second-round draft choice in this trade," Brown said in a statement March 9. "Draft picks are extremely important to our approach in building a championship caliber football team. We are intent on adding competition to every position on our roster and look forward to having Brock come in and compete."

      Houston signed Osweiler to a four-year contract worth $72 million with $37 million guaranteed last year, but he was benched and replaced by Tom Savage during the season only to get his job back when Savage was injured.

      For the season, Osweiler completed just 59 percent of his passes, for 2,957 yards, 15 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and a passer rating of 72.2.

      Osweiler's guaranteed salary for 2017 now belongs to the Browns, and Houston will take a $9 million cap hit for the remainder of his prorated signing bonus for a net cap savings of $7 million.

  • Goodell no fan of Oakland's latest pitch
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 26, 2017

    The City of Oakland's 11th-hour stadium plan appears to be too little, too late for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's liking.

    • Goodell responded to the stadium proposal ahead of this week's annual league meeting in Phoenix, sending a letter on Friday evening to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf that he believes the city has yet to find "a viable solution" to keeping the Raiders there.

      Earlier on Friday, the City of Oakland and its partners submitted a revised financing plan for a $1.3 billion mixed-use stadium project on the site of the current home of the Raiders, who have called Oakland home for 45 of their 58 seasons, including each of the past 22.

      "The material that we reviewed earlier today ... confirms that key issues that we have identified as threshold considerations are simply not resolvable in a reasonable time," the commissioner said in the letter obtained by ESPN and other media outlets, "and in that respect, the information sent today does not present a proposal that is clear and specific, actionable in a reasonable time frame and free of major contingencies."

      Raiders owner Mark Davis is said to have "great support" to move the franchise from Oakland to Las Vegas after several years of failed contract talks with the city.

      A vote could be held in Phoenix during the NFL meetings on Monday or Tuesday, with Davis needing 24 votes of 32 franchise owners in order to begin finalizing relocation to Las Vegas.

      Under the City of Oakland's revised plan, the Raiders and NFL would be required to contribute a combined $500 million. The city vows a commitment of $200 million toward infrastructure improvements. Fortress, a financial equity firm, would advance $150 million via land conveyance for the project.

      Under the city's plan, a new home for the Raiders would be built on a 55-acre parcel on the southern edge of where their current stadium sits. According to the plan, the Oakland Athletics could continue to play baseball games in Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum while a football-only venue is constructed.

      "We have been prepared for nearly two years to work on finding a solution based on access to land at a certain cost, without constraints on the location of the stadium or timing of construction, and clarity on overall development," Goodell told Schaaf in his letter. "However, at this date, there remains no certainty regarding how the site will be fully developed, or the specific and contractually defined nature of the participation by Fortress or other parties. In addition, the long-term nature of the commitment to the A's remains a significant complication, and the resolution of that issue remains unknown. Other significant uncertainties, which we have previously identified, remain unaddressed.

      "Despite all of these efforts, ours and yours, we have not yet identified a viable solution. It is disappointing to me and our clubs to have come to that conclusion."

      Davis filed an application with the league in January to move the team to Las Vegas in time for the 2020 season.

      The Raiders are proposing to build a $1.9 billion domed-roof stadium in Las Vegas, near the Strip. The stadium would be financed with $750 million in public funding and a $650 million construction loan from Bank of America, with the Raiders and the NFL adding a combined $500 million.

      The Raiders would still need to sign a lease with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority Board, which is not expected to review the terms again until after the Phoenix meetings.

      Las Vegas officials expect the facility to open in 2020 so the Raiders would need to play the 2019 season in a temporary facility because they have only two years remaining on their Coliseum lease.

  • NFL notebook: Peterson willing to take less money for right fit
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    Former Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, still unemployed, says "it's not all about the money" and he is in "no rush" to sign with a new team.

    • Peterson took to Twitter early Saturday morning to dispute an ESPN report on Friday that he was still unsigned because of his $8 million salary request.

      "It's not all about the money as EVERYONE is speculating here lately," Peterson tweeted. "You'd THINK these analysts spoke to me directly. When you don't know what's going on people will say anything to create or make a story! How prideful is it for me to put out ... I won't play for anything less than 8 million!"

      The 32-year-old Peterson became an unrestricted free agent on March 9 after the Vikings decided not to pick up their option, which would have paid him $18 million, including a $6 million roster bonus.

      "Here is something straight from the horse's mouth ... finding the best fit & helping a team in a major way win a championship is my main objective! I'm in no rush," Peterson wrote on Twitter. "Let me eliminate questions or speculation as to why ... I believe whole heartedly my God will land me right where I need to be to accomplish what I've asked from him PERIOD."

      One source from a team in the market for a running back told ESPN that he believes Peterson wanted more than $8 million in the first year.

      Peterson left the Vikings as one of the best players in franchise history. The four-time All-Pro selection had seven 1,000-yard rushing seasons in nine years, including the second-best total in NFL history of 2,097 yards in 2012, but battled injuries the last few seasons.

      --The Cincinnati Bengals released veteran linebacker Rey Maualuga, the team announced.

      Maualuga, 30, was entering the last season of his contract and was due $3.6 million in salary and bonuses.

      The 6-foot-2, 258-pound Maualuga, who was selected by the Bengals in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft, played in 114 games with 104 starts in his eight seasons with the Bengals, compiling 584 tackles, four sacks, seven interceptions and six forced fumbles.

      --The Bengals also agreed to re-sign defensive lineman Wallace Gilberry, adding depth to the position.

      Gilberry's agents announced Friday that the 10-year veteran will be back with the Bengals in 2017.

      Gilberry, 32, first joined the Bengals in 2012 and played through the 2015 season before leaving after four years to sign with the Detroit Lions as a free agent last offseason. He suffered a sports hernia and was released after four games with the Lions.

      The 6-2, 270-pound Gilberry came back to the Bengals in early November and recorded 2.5 sacks and 10 tackles in five games. He owns 34 career sacks -- 20 of those for the Bengals.

      --Three days before a potential vote that would cement the Raiders' move to Las Vegas, the city of Oakland submitted a revised plan for a $1.3 billion stadium on the site of the current home of the vagabond franchise.

      Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf told ESPN on Friday night, "What I am confident about is, if the Raiders want to stay in Oakland, we have a viable plan to build them a stadium with no upfront money from them, in financial terms that I believe are more favorable to them than the terms in Las Vegas -- what we know of them."

      Raiders owner Mark Davis is said to have "great support" to move the franchise from Oakland after several years of failed contract talks with the city, which will soon lose the Golden State Warriors. The popular NBA franchise opted to move into San Francisco and vacate their current building across the parking lot from o.co Coliseum, where the Raiders now play.

      A vote could be held in Phoenix during the NFL owners meetings on Monday or Tuesday, with Davis needing 24 votes of 32 franchise owners in order to begin finalizing relocation to Vegas.

  • Bengals release LB Maualuga
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    The Cincinnati Bengals released veteran linebacker Rey Maualuga, the team announced on Saturday.

    • Maualuga, 30, was entering the last season of his contract and was due $3.6 million in salary and bonuses.

      "Rey has been a tough and productive player for us, and a fine teammate, and this is a difficult decision," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said in a statement.

      "It's one of several we have made to transition to a younger group at linebacker as we continue to shape our 2017 roster."

      The 6-foot-2, 258-pound Maualuga, who was selected by the Bengals in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft, played in 114 games with 104 starts in his eight seasons with the Bengals, compiling 584 tackles, four sacks, seven interceptions and six forced fumbles.

      Maualuga's playing time dropped off in 2016, when he made 27 tackles in 14 games, and the Bengals added former Arizona Cardinals linebacker Kevin Minter in free agency on Monday.

      The Bengals also agreed to re-sign defensive lineman Wallace Gilberry, adding depth to the position.

      Gilberry's agents announced Friday that the 10-year veteran will be back with the Bengals in 2017.

      Gilberry, 32, first joined the Bengals in 2012 and played through the 2015 season before leaving after four years to sign with the Detroit Lions as a free agent last offseason. He suffered a sports hernia and was released after four games with the Lions.

      The 6-2, 270-pound Gilberry came back to the Bengals in early November and recorded 2.5 sacks and 10 tackles in five games. He owns 34 career sacks -- 20 of those for the Bengals.