National Football League
NFL News Wire
  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    Broncos talking to Phillips about defensive coordinator job
    By The Sports Xchange

    Former Denver head coach Wade Phillips is back in Denver interviewing for the Broncos defensive coordinator job.

    • Phillips, who also was the head coach in Buffalo and Dallas, was the defensive coordinator from 2011-13 in Texas under new Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak.

      The 67-year-old Phillips has been a defensive coordinator with the Chargers, Falcons, Bills, Broncos, Eagles and Saints.

      During his previous stint as head coach in Denver, John Elway was the Broncos quarterback. Elway now is Denver's general manager and will be hiring the team's new defensive coordinator.

      The Broncos defense this past season tied for 16th in points allowed but ranked third in yards allowed despite some high-profile offseason acquisitions.

  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    Colts name Chudzinski associate head coach
    By The Sports Xchange

    Rob Chudzinski spent one year as head coach of the Cleveland Browns before being fired and landing in Indianapolis as a special assistant to head coach Chuck Pagano.

    • On Tuesday, the Colts locked up the 46-year-old Chudzinski and named him associate head coach.

      Both San Francisco and St. Louis wanted to talk to Chudzinski about being their offensive coordinator, but the Colts refused those teams permission to interview him.

      "We're excited to keep Chud in our family," Pagano said. "He's been a critical part of our operation and we're looking forward to sharing even more success in the future."

      Chudzinski and Pagano worked together at the University of Miami.

  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015
    Fire alarm disrupts Patriots' sleep
    By The Sports Xchange

    Tuesday is media day for Super Bowl XLIX participants and you can blame the bags under the eyes of Patriot players on a lack of sleep.

    • A fire alarm went off at New England's hotel around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday and sounded for about 10 minutes, according to the NFL Network. According to an NFL spokesman, the front desk called the alarm "an anomaly."

      There was no fire.

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    SB XLIX: Carroll has proven his way works
    By The Sports Xchange

    PHOENIX -- Pete Carroll had a mission when he took over as coach in Seattle in 2010 -- to prove that his large-and-in-charge coaching model could work in the NFL. It was not the way things operated during his three years in New England.

    • "This is a football game we play," Carroll said Monday. "There is a business that goes along with it, but the football, I think, has to be run by football people. I thought this was an extraordinary opportunity from the day that I arrived in Seattle to prove that. We've set out to kind of show that this is the way organizations can be run.

      "Look where we are. This has been the best format for me. Maybe it isn't for other people, but it is for me."

      After two seasons of building, Seattle has three consecutive years of double-digit victories and will make a repeat Super Bowl appearance Sunday against the New England Patriots, the first team since the Patriots in the 2003-04 seasons to do that.

      Officially, Carroll is the executive vice president in charge of football operations, and to best understand his pull and power, he was hired eight days before general manager John Schneider joined the team in January 2010.

      After being fired in New England in 1999 despite no losing seasons in three years, Carroll found his niche at USC, where the Trojans won two national championships and were named Sports Illustrated's team of the decade for the 2000s.

      The contrast in job responsibilities at his NFL stops bracketing USC is striking -- "entirely different," he said.

      The Seahawks' job description "really came of the years at SC, where we had an athletic director and the football head," Carroll said. "I had the opportunity there to make every decision, from recruiting, academics to everything. Responsible for all of that. I felt like that was really an opportunity for me to be at my best.

      "When this opportunity came here, it was expressed and clearly laid out that I could have the same type of responsibility and the same kind of approach. It's been really instrumental, because the way we do things is not the way a lot of other people do things.

      "It's done our way. We have our own language, our own control, our own decision-making process. I think it has made all the difference in the world. It's what every coach needs, I think, to be at his best. The format and structure that is generally accepted in the league is not that. I understand why."

      Since dismissing Carroll, Patriots owner Robert Kraft seemingly has come to embrace that style as well. Bill Belichick, who replaced Carroll, is seen as the man who controls everything football in New England.

      Carroll said he made that point with Kraft after he left. Belichick was hired shortly thereafter.

      "Robert and I had a terrific relationship, and I didn't hold back when we talked," Carroll said. "I had one opportunity to say something to him about that and I thought it was really a unique hire, a special hire, and a guy who would really fit in well if he let him do what he was capable of doing.

      "Bill is a very open, free thinker and a guy who needs that kind of control to be at his best. I don't know they structured it, how they defined it, but it's worked, historically, in extraordinary fashion. They have made a great statement over the last 10 years. Robert has really grown as well, obviously."

      --Carroll made it clear that cornerback Richard Sherman was speaking his own opinion Sunday when he implied that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Kraft were too close.

      "Richard has an outlook that Richard owns, and he had an opinion about something," Carroll said. "I don't think he knows the commissioner and Mr. Kraft very well. I don't think they have a longstanding relationship, but he has an opinion of that and he expressed it."

      Sherman said he did not believe the Patriots would be punished for the underinflated-footballs scandal because of the close relationship between Goodell and Kraft, who were together at Kraft's home before the AFC Championship Game.

      "I think perception is reality," Sherman said. "It is what it is. Their resume speaks for itself. Their past is what their past is. Their present is what their present is. Will they be punished? Probably not. Not as long Robert Kraft and Roger Goodell are still taking pictures at their respective homes.

      "Talk about conflict of interest. As long as that happens, it won't affect them at all."

      Carroll said he will speak to Sherman.

      "We actually talk about most everything that is spoken, so eventually that will come up," Carroll said. "We won't share with you how that comes out, but we will talk about stuff."

      --Seattle safety Kam Chancellor is ready for his matchup with New England tight end Rob Gronkowski.

      "He definitely is a big, physical guy, but it's just big on big. Just play big on big," Chancellor said.

      Chancellor is 6 feet 3 and 232 pounds. He had 11 tackles and a 90-yard interception for a touchdown in the Seahawks' 31-17 victory over Carolina in the divisional round. He has been named to the Pro Bowl in each of the last three seasons but has missed the game the last two years because of Super Bowl commitments.

      Gronkowski is 6-6, 265. Considered the most physical tight end in the league, he had 82 receptions for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns this season.

      "I think he is pretty great," Sherman said.

      --We know the Legion of Boom. Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin is promoting the Pedestrians with Attitude, his motto for the Seahawks' receiving corps, a group that lost Golden Tate in free agency in the offseason and Percy Harvin in a midseason trade. He has been on a no-respect kick for several weeks.

      "I think we got the negativity and the disrespect in a different way, saying we miss Percy or we miss Golden or the no-names who are out here at receiver," said Baldwin, who had 66 receptions for 885 yards this season, both career highs.

      "We enjoy that. It adds some motivation. It adds some flair to it. We embrace it. I have a shirt underneath my sweatshirt that says, "Pedestrians with Attitude." We enjoy the label because we embrace it."

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    SB XLIX: Kraft defends coach, QB
    By The Sports Xchange

    CHANDLER, Ariz. -- New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft opened Monday's press conference with a stern statement in which he voiced displeasure for the way the NFL is handling the "Deflategate" investigation and how media is covering it, with assumption of guilt from the head coach to quarterback and, by association, the entire franchise.

    • Kraft said he expects hard facts, not "circumstantial leaked evidence" to drive the investigation. And if the probe does not turn up evidence that the Patriots tampered with the footballs, Kraft said he wants the NFL to own up to its errors.

      "I would expect and hope that the league would apologize to our entire team, and in particular coach (Bill) Belichick and Tom Brady for what they've had to endure this past week," Kraft said.

      Kraft said he is confident, based on the relationship going on 15 years together with coach and quarterback, that Belichick and Brady are telling the truth when they say they had no knowledge of intent to break rules.

      Kraft said he is confident the investigation by NFL-appointed Ted Wells will be in "direct contrast to the public discourse fueled by media leaks" that led to strong accusations of his coach, quarterback and staff.

      "I know how difficult it is to get to this game," Kraft said, referring to the Super Bowl. "Given the events of the last week, I want to take a minute to address the air-pressure matter before we kick off this week's media availabilities. ... I've spoken with Coach Belichick. I've spoken with Tom Brady. ... I want to make it clear, unconditionally, that the New England Patriots have done nothing wrong or in violation of NFL rules."

      Belichick said he appreciated Kraft's words and said he is "forever indebted" to Kraft for making him his head coach.

      "We have a great personal relationship, we have a great professional relationship," Belichick said.

      Belichick also said he is done airing thoughts on the NFL investigation into how 11 of 12 AFC Championship Game footballs introduced by the Patriots became underinflated.

      "Our team has worked very hard all through the year, I'm very proud of what they've done. We're very much looking forward to the week of preparation here in Arizona," Belichick said Monday, a few hours after the Patriots touched down in Phoenix and made the way to their team headquarters for the week at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass.

      "I've spent as you know quite a bit of time and had two lengthy press conferences about that. My intention is to turn my attention to the Seattle Seahawks. I've covered everything that I can cover."

      Brady said he is moving forward from Deflategate, that he is past the initial hurt feelings.

      "That's what the team expects from me," Brady said. "We've dealt with a lot of adversity. We have to deal with some more. Hopefully we can come out and get a win. That would be the most satisfying thing."

      The Patriots are back in an Arizona-based Super Bowl for the second time in seven years. New England entered Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants in 2008 as 12-point favorites. This week's game against the Seattle Seahawks is a virtual pick 'em.

      Belichick said he considers the Seahawks' Pete Carroll "one of the great coaches of my time."

      "What he's done at USC and now in his five years with Seattle is beyond impressive," Belichick said. "I've tried to study him closely and learn from the things his organization has done. ... It's very obvious to me why they were world champions last year and why they are here again."

      Belichick dodged questions regarding a reported "person of interest" in the Deflategate investigation and changed the subject repeatedly to the Seahawks.

      "It starts with (Marshawn) Lynch and (Russell) Wilson," Belichick said. "(Lynch is) the best back we've faced. Wilson's just a winner. Plays great in the fourth quarter. They're great across the board defensively. Create a lot of negative plays."

      The Patriots are playing in their sixth Super Bowl under Belichick, all started by Brady.

      "It's a challenging week, but it's going to be a great week," Brady said. "To make it to the Super Bowl is a pretty amazing experience -- to do it once. To do it six times, that's amazing."

      NOTES: Patriots C Bryan Stork (knee) is making progress, coach Bill Belichick said, and he is expected to play Sunday after missing the AFC Championship Game. ... QB Tom Brady said the Patriots will have a great level of confidence Sunday based on preparation. New England held three full practices in Foxborough, Mass., before flying out of the incoming blizzard and into Phoenix, where the temperature was 68 degrees when the team touched down Monday.

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    NFL notebook: Patriots probe will last weeks
    By The Sports Xchange

    Ted Wells, one of the NFL's lead investigators in the case of the underinflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game, said Monday that "no one should draw any conclusions" and the investigation is expected to last several more weeks.

    • Wells' statement came after Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported Monday that NFL investigators are focused on a New England Patriots locker room attendant.

      Led by league executive Jeff Pash and Wells, the NFL is trying to determine how 11 of 12 balls used by the Patriots against the Indianapolis Colts were found to be underinflated at halftime of the AFC title game.

      Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have said they do not know why the balls were underinflated, although Belichick on Saturday said a study by his staff determined that "atmospheric conditions" likely were to blame.

      The footballs were re-inflated to proper pressure at halftime, and the Patriots outscored the Colts 28-0 in the second half as they won 45-7 and advanced to the Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., where they will play the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

      According to Glazer's report, the attendant allegedly took balls from the officials' locker room to another area on the way to field before the game.

      The league's investigators have interviewed the attendant and have video, Glazer's sources said, and the league is trying to determine whether the attendant did anything wrong.

      Wells, who oversaw the 2013 investigation into the Miami Dolphins' bullying scandal, released a statement Monday, saying: "We are following customary investigative procedures and no one should draw any conclusions about the sequence of interviews or any other steps, all of which are part of the process of doing a thorough and fair investigation. I expect the investigation to take at least several more weeks."

      ---New England quarterback Tom Brady said he likely will talk to NFL investigators regarding the underinflated footballs controversy after the Super Bowl.

      "I believe they're going to do after the season, so we'll deal with it after this game," Brady told ESPN's Chris Berman on Sunday.

      During a radio interview Monday, Brady was asked whether he has ever told an equipment manager or ball boy to deflate the football after the officials' pregame inspection.

      "Absolutely not," he said. "No, I didn't. And I haven't. And I never will. I think that's obviously how I feel and the kind of person that I am.

      "No one knows the facts. I pick 24 balls; that's what I pick. Whatever happened after I did it, and whatever the situation was where they measured them, I have no idea any of those facts. So I try to stay really humble and deal with the facts that I know. When you don't know something, that's all you can say is, 'I don't know.' I know that's not always the answer that people want to hear, but that's the reality."

      ---New England cornerback Brandon Browner, a former Seattle corner, called for his teammates to target injured Seattle defensive backs Richard Sherman (sprained elbow) and Earl Thomas (dislocated shoulder).

      "I'm going to tell my teammates, 'Go hit that elbow, go hit that shoulder,"' Browner said in an interview with ESPN. "Hit it, yeah. Try to break it if you can.

      "You're gonna be my best friend after the game," he said of his former Seattle teammates, "but at the end of the day I know you want the Super Bowl just as bad as I do."

      Former teammates said Monday they didn't think Browner's comments were meant exactly as they came off.

      Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said, "If somebody knows you're weak in an area, they're going to try to exploit it. I don't think he meant it in a malicious way. ... It's just all competing. It's just a competitive nature."

      --- The Denver Broncos agreed to terms with Rick Dennison to be their offensive coordinator and also announced the hiring of linebackers coach Reggie Herring and offensive line coach Clancy Barone.

      Dennison is a 20-year NFL coaching veteran with 15 years of experience with the Broncos, including three seasons (2006-08) as Denver's offensive coordinator.

      Dennison spent four years (2010-13) as new coach Gary Kubiak's offensive coordinator in Houston before being hired in Baltimore last season to coach quarterbacks.

      Herring has nine years of coaching experience in the NFL, and spent last season as the Chicago Bears' linebackers coach.

      Barone has spent the past six seasons with the Broncos, including overseeing the tight ends from 2011 to 2014.

      --- The Buffalo Bills announced the hiring of six coaches to Rex Ryan's staff: Michael Hamlin (special teams quality control), Aaron Kromer (offensive line), Sanjay Lal (wide receivers), Anthony Lynn (assistant head coach/running backs), D'Anton Lynn (defensive assistant) and Chris Palmer (senior offensive assistant).

      The Bills also announced that Kurt Anderson (assistant offensive line), Donnie Henderson (defensive backs), Jason Rebrovich (outside linebackers) and Jason Vrable (offensive quality control) will be retained.

      ---Charles Woodson will return for his 18th NFL season. The Oakland Raiders re-signed the 38-year-old safety to a one-year deal on Monday.

      Woodson led the Raiders with a career-high 112 tackles and four interceptions in 2014. He was named a Pro Bowl alternate.

      This will be the third straight one-year deal Woodson has signed with the Raiders since returning in 2013. He began his career with them as the fourth overall pick in the 1998 draft. After eight seasons in Oakland, he played seven in Green Bay.

      ---Raheem Morris accepted a position with the Atlanta Falcons as assistant head coach in charge of defensive backs, according to reports.

      Morris has spent the past three years as the secondary coach in Washington but was passed over for the defensive coordinator position when the Redskins hired Joe Barry last week.

      NFL Network reported that Morris' role in Atlanta represents a promotion because of the title, but former Denver Broncos linebackers coach Richard Smith reportedly will become Atlanta's defensive coordinator.

      Although the Falcons have yet to name a new coach, Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is expected to replace Mike Smith after the Super Bowl.

      ---The Chicago Bears hired Jay Rodgers as defensive line coach, a position he held under new coach John Fox while in Denver.

      Rodgers spent the last six seasons as an assistant with the Broncos, including the last three as defensive line coach when Fox was coach in Denver.

      Rodgers served as a coaching assistant (2009-10) and defensive quality control coach (2011) with the Broncos before being promoted to defensive line coach.

      ---The Raiders reportedly interviewed Todd Grantham for their open defensive coordinator position on Monday.

      Grantham, a longtime defensive assistant in the NFL, spent the 2014 season as the coordinator on Bobby Petrino's staff at Louisville, where his defense ranked sixth in the nation.

      Grantham, 48, was defensive coordinator at Georgia from 2010 to 2013. In the NFL, he has coached with the Indianapolis Colts (1999-2001), Houston Texans (2002-2004), Cleveland Browns (2005-07) and Dallas Cowboys (2008-09).

      ---The St. Louis Rams will interview Nathaniel Hackett a second time for their offensive coordinator position, according to several reports.

      Hackett, who was the Buffalo Bills' offensive coordinator for the past two seasons under Doug Marrone, interviewed with the Rams last Thursday and is expected to interview again Tuesday.

      Rams coach Jeff Fisher is seeking to replace Brian Schottenheimer, who left Jan. 7 to become the offensive coordinator at Georgia.

      ---The Indianapolis Colts and running backs coach David Walker agreed to part ways after four seasons.

      "We're grateful for David's contributions to the Colts' success over the last four years and wish him nothing but the best in the future," coach Chuck Pagano said in a statement.

      The Colts finished 22nd in the NFL in rushing in 2014, averaging 100.8 yards per game.

      ---The NFL and YouTube announced a partnership on Monday that will deliver content on a new channel.

      Through the official NFL channel on YouTube -- and video directly viewable for Google Search users -- the partnership will enable fans to engage with NFL content on computers, tablets and mobile phones.

      The new channel allows viewers to access a seven-day-a-week NFL content programming schedule. Content posted will include game previews, in-game highlights, postgame recaps as well as clips featuring news, analysis, fantasy football advice and other select content from NFL Network and NFL.com.

      ---The Green Bay Packers signed first-year punter Cody Mandell.

      Mandell, a former All-SEC punter at Alabama, was signed by the Dallas Cowboys after the draft last year but did not make an NFL roster.

      Packers punter Tim Masthay is signed for two more seasons.

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    Patriots' Browner: Target injured Seahawks
    By The Sports Xchange

    As if the New England Patriots didn't have enough controversy leading into their Super Bowl matchup with the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, cornerback Brandon Browner added some more Monday.

    • The former Seattle corner -- known for his physical play against wide receivers -- called for his teammates to target injured Seattle defensive backs Richard Sherman (sprained elbow) and Earl Thomas (dislocated shoulder).

      "I'm going to tell my teammates, 'Go hit that elbow, go hit that shoulder,"' Browner said in an interview with ESPN. "Hit it, yeah. Try to break it if you can."

      Browner was an original member of the Seahawks' Legion of Boom, alongside Sherman, Thomas and Kam Chancellor. But Browner ran afoul of the NFL's drug policy and missed the final eight games and the postseason with the Seahawks last season.

      The Patriots signed him to a three-year contract worth up to $17 million; and, after both teams advanced to the Super Bowl a week ago, he said he had envisioned meeting his former team in the NFL's title game.

      "You're gonna be my best friend after the game," he told ESPN, "but at the end of the day I know you want the Super Bowl just as bad as I do."

      The NFL frowns on intentionally injuring opponents, as evidenced by the league's suspension of New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in 2012 for the Saints' bounty scandal.

      The Patriots are going through their own scandal right now as the league investigates how 11 of the 12 footballs they used in their 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game became underinflated. That investigation is expected to last several more weeks.

      Former teammates said Monday they didn't think Browner's comments were meant as maliciously as they came off.

      Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said, "If somebody knows you're weak in an area, they're going to try to exploit it. I don't think he meant it in a malicious way. ... It's just all competing. It's just a competitive nature."

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    Packers add punter
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Green Bay Packers signed first-year punter Cody Mandell on Monday.

    • Mandell appeared in 52 games for Alabama and was named a first-team All-Southeastern Conference punter as a senior in 2013.

      Mandell was signed by the Dallas Cowboys after the draft last year but did not make an NFL roster.

      Packers punter Tim Masthay is signed for two more seasons.

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    Ryan adds six to Bills' staff
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Buffalo Bills officially announced the hiring of six coaches to Rex Ryan's staff: Michael Hamlin (special teams quality control), Aaron Kromer (offensive line), Sanjay Lal (wide receivers), Anthony Lynn (assistant head coach/running backs), D'Anton Lynn (defensive assistant) and Chris Palmer (senior offensive assistant).

    • Kromer spent the past two years as the Chicago Bears' offensive coordinator, and came under fire after admitting he was the source of criticism toward quarterback Jay Cutler.

      The Bills also announced that Kurt Anderson (assistant offensive line), Donnie Henderson (defensive backs), Jason Rebrovich (outside linebackers) and Jason Vrable (offensive quality control) will be retained.

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    Broncos hire Dennison as OC
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Denver Broncos agreed to terms with Rick Dennison to be their offensive coordinator on Monday, and also announced the hiring of linebackers coach Reggie Herring and offensive line coach Clancy Barone.

    • Dennison is a 20-year NFL coaching veteran with 15 years of experience with the Broncos, including three seasons (2006-08) as Denver's offensive coordinator.

      A linebacker for the Broncos from 1982-90, Dennison began his coaching tenure with the club in 1995 and held various roles with the team, including offensive assistant (1995-96), special teams coordinator (1997-2000) and offensive line coach (2001-05, 2009) in addition to his three years as offensive coordinator.

      Dennison spent four years (2010-13) as new head coach Gary Kubiak's offensive coordinator in Houston before being hired in Baltimore last season to coach the team's quarterbacks.

      Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco established career highs in passing yards (3,986) and touchdown passes (27) in his lone season under Dennison's guidance in 2014 while being sacked just 19 times -- 29 fewer than the previous season.

      Dennison's first stint as an NFL offensive coordinator came with the Broncos from 2006-08 after Kubiak left Denver to become head coach of the Texans.

      Herring has nine years of coaching experience in the NFL, and spent last season as the Chicago Bears' linebackers coach.

      Broncos has spent the past six seasons with the Broncos, including overseeing the tight ends from 2011-14.

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    Wells: Probe of Patriots to last several weeks
    By The Sports Xchange

    Ted Wells, one of the NFL's lead investigators in the case of the underinflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game, said Monday that "no one should draw any conclusions" and the investigation is expected to last several more weeks.

    • Wells' statement came after Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported Monday that NFL investigators are focused on a New England Patriots locker room attendant.

      Led by league executive Jeff Pash and Wells, the NFL is trying to determine how 11 of 12 balls used by the Patriots against the Indianapolis Colts were found to be underinflated at halftime of the AFC title game.

      Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have said they do not know why the balls were underinflated, although Belichick on Saturday said a study by his staff determined that "atmospheric conditions" likely were to blame.

      The footballs were re-inflated to proper pressure at halftime, and the Patriots outscored the Colts 28-0 in the second half as they won 45-7 and advanced to the Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., where they will play the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

      According to Glazer's report, the attendant allegedly took balls from the officials' locker room to another area on the way to field before the game.

      The league's investigators have interviewed the attendant and have video, Glazer's sources said, and the league is trying to determine whether the attendant did anything wrong.

      Wells, who oversaw the 2013 investigation into the Miami Dolphins' bullying scandal, released a statement Monday, saying: "We are following customary investigative procedures and no one should draw any conclusions about the sequence of interviews or any other steps, all of which are part of the process of doing a thorough and fair investigation. I expect the investigation to take at least several more weeks.

      "In the interim, it would be best if everyone involved or potentially involved in this matter avoids public comment concerning the matter until the investigation is concluded. The results will be shared publicly."

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    SB XLIX: How They Were Built
    By The Sports Xchange

    Seattle Seahawks center Max Unger and punter Jon Ryan have some historical perspective on the frantic roster building they witnessed after general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll were hired in 2010.

    • While about $52 million were slashed from the payroll, Schneider and Carroll went about their task of trying to become a championship team.

      Where do Unger and Ryan fit in the process? They are the only players on the current 53-man roster who predated the arrival of Schneider and Carroll.

      Ryan was signed in 2008, while Unger was a second-round pick in 2009. Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, who is on injured reserve, was selected in the third round of the 2007 draft.

      In addition, just five other players have been with the Seahawks since 2010: tackle Russell Okung (first round), safeties Earl Thomas (first) and Kam Chancellor (fifth), running back Marshawn Lynch (acquired from Buffalo) and long snapper Clint Gresham (waivers from New Orleans).

      By contrast, Seattle's opponent in Super Bowl XLIX, the New England Patriots, has 12 players who arrived before 2011. Of course, Patriots coach Bill Belichick's philosophy of roster building has been consistent since he was hired in 2000.

      In reality, there are similarities in the plan of both teams: Build from within through the draft and with undrafted free agents; bolster the depth with available players who fit; and, rarely enter the usually chaotic atmosphere of unrestricted free agency that sees stratospheric contracts given to players in the first 10-14 days of the signing period.

      Each team has dabbled, but not very often. In fact, the Seahawks and Patriots each have just three unrestricted free agents on their Super Bowl rosters, and most didn't receive blockbuster deals.

      Seattle signed defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, as well as defensive tackle Tony McDaniel. New England added wide receivers Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell, along with cornerback Brandon Browner. Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis had been cut by Tampa Bay, so he was not officially unrestricted, and he has a contract that likely will require restructuring if he is to return to the Patriots in 2015.

      No matter how successful teams are, mistakes are made. What's important is recognizing them and making the necessary corrections.

      The Seahawks gave up three draft picks, including a first-rounder, to the Minnesota Vikings for wide receiver Percy Harvin in March 2013. They also gave Harvin a blockbuster contract.

      But Harvin rarely played that season and then was traded to the Jets in October, two days before the Seahawks lost to the St. Louis Rams to drop their record to 3-3. Since the deal, they have lost just once.

      "We took a shot for a highly explosive player," Schneider said. "For a number of different reasons it didn't work out and we knew that we had to resolve that situation as quickly as we could so that we could just move forward as a football team."

      Also notable is the number of undrafted free agents on each team's roster, whether they were home-bred or entered the league with other teams. The Seahawks have 24 undrafted players, 12 who were originally signed by Seattle. Seven of those 12 made the team as rookies and have never been cut. Of the five others, one is the aforementioned Bennett, who signed with Seattle in 2009 and came back in 2013 after playing for the Buccaneers.

      Asked about their success with undrafted players, Schneider said, "I think it's a combination of good coaches, good teachers and good acquisitions and being able to identify guys that have a legitimate chance of coming in and making your roster."

      The most notable undrafted Seahawks producers are wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse.

      New England has 19 undrafted players on its roster, including six the team originally signed.

      As for the draft, the Patriots have 18 picks from the first three rounds, four who were first selected by other teams. Six are first-round choices: defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (2004), safety Devin McCourty (2010), tackle Nate Solder (2011), defensive end Chandler Jones and linebacker Dont'a Hightower (2012) and Revis (N.Y. Jets, 2007). Linebacker Jerod Mayo (2008) and defensive lineman Dominique Easley (2014) are on injured reserve.

      The Seahawks have 14 choices from the first three rounds, with three beginning on other teams.

      Seattle's first-rounders are Okung, Thomas, guard James Carpenter (2011), linebacker/defensive end Bruce Irvin (2012), defensive tackle Kevin Williams (Minnesota, 2003) and Lynch (Buffalo, 2007).

      While the first round has all the hype, it's notable that 12 of the 92 players who will dress for Sunday's game came from that round.

      While the personalities of Carroll and Belichick are wildly divergent, it's clear their organizational goal is to find like-minded players who simply love to play the game.

      Belichick verbalized the basics of that approach at a symposium in Boston in 2013.

      "The big thing I'd say we look for, which would try to differentiate the players for us, are players with passion, guys that really love football," he said. "As we all know from our jobs, if you love what you're doing you don't feel like you're working. If you don't like what you're doing, then every step of the way is just painful torture. We don't want people who are in football because of the lifestyle it brings or the opportunities or rewards from it. We want people who are in our business because they love doing it."

      Schneider was asked recently if he could have envisioned this much success so soon in Seattle.

      "I think we don't necessarily view it that way," he said. "It's a daily thing. We are so focused and consumed about getting better in every area on a daily basis that it has just built like that over the years. I know you guys have heard me talk about being a consistent championship-caliber team. And with that comes really tough decisions every day. Obviously, it's what you strive for."

      Howard Balzer is based in St. Louis and is a selector for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He has covered the NFL for more than three decades.

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    Woodson re-signs with Raiders
    By The Sports Xchange

    Charles Woodson will return for his 18th NFL season.

    • The Oakland Raiders re-signed the 38-year-old safety to a one-year deal on Monday.

      Woodson led the Raiders with a career-high 112 tackles and four interceptions in 2014. He was named a Pro Bowl alternate.

      This will be the third straight one-year deal Woodson has signed with the Raiders since returning in 2013. He began his career with them as the fourth overall pick in the 1998 draft. After eight seasons in Oakland, he played seven in Green Bay.

      The eight-time Pro Bowl player has 60 interceptions, second among active players.

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    Rams will interview Hackett again
    By The Sports Xchange

    The St. Louis Rams will interview Nathaniel Hackett a second time for their offensive coordinator position, according to several reports.

    • Hackett, who was the Buffalo Bills' offensive coordinator for the past two seasons under Doug Marrone, interviewed with the Rams last Thursday and is expected to interview again Tuesday.

      Rams coach Jeff Fisher is seeking to replace Brian Schottenheimer, who left Jan. 7 to become the offensive coordinator at Georgia.

      The Rams were interested in Rob Chudzinski, but the Indianapolis Colts barred the assistant head coach from interviewing, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Green Bay Packers also would not let quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt interview with the Rams, according to the Post-Dispatch.

      Hackett -- son of longtime NFL assistant Paul Hackett -- also has garnered interest from new Bills coach Rex Ryan, as well as the Washington Redskins and Jacksonville Jaguars.

      Hackett, 35, spent three seasons at Stanford (2003-05) before heading to the NFL as an offensive quality control coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2006-07) and Bills (2008-09).

      He joined Marrone at Syracuse in 2010, coaching quarterbacks and tight ends, and was elevated to offensive coordinator in 2011. He then followed Marrone to Buffalo in 2013. Marrone opted out of his contract earlier this month and ended up as the Jaguars' assistant head coach and offensive line coach.

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    Pete's repeat would put Carroll in rare category
    By The Sports Xchange

    PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Think of the great NFL coaches over the last half century, the Lombardis, Shulas, Nolls, even the Belichicks, because no matter what we think of Bill, he is part of this category and a much rarer category -- a winner in back-to-back Super Bowls.

    • Now consider adding the name of Pete Carroll to that list. Silly, you suggest, because Carroll, a product of California's fantasy-land Marin County, a guy whose easy-going ways when he coached the Jets were derided as "the good ship Lollipop?"

      Well, if Carroll's Seattle Seahawks beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday, he would join those four men, and two others -- Jimmy Johnson and Mike Shanahan -- as the coach of teams which won back-to-back Super Bowls.

      Maybe that doesn't get you voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but it's a special achievement, and in this case one, which would give some gravitas to a career that because Carroll came from California and not the tough, chilled Midwest and East has not always been appreciated.

      Dropped by the Jets, ousted by the Patriots -- and yes, the revenge motive exists, although it's not the driving force for Carroll. The accidental coach at USC, where he won a couple of national titles. Then, a return to the NFL, with the Seahawks.

      Where he could become part of history, with a victory. Although as most people in sports contend (not that we believe them), that's the furthest thing from his mind.

      "It's not something -- I'm aware there's some numbers and all of that, but specifically, no. I don't care about that. It's not a big deal to me," Carroll said.

      Whether we believe him or not, believe that at age 63, Pete Carroll and the franchise he's coached for a five seasons are at the summit of the game. He understands what is required -- a top defense and an elite quarterback.

      There's an intellectual side to the San Francisco-born Carroll. According to an Austin Murphy article in Sports Illustrated some years ago, Carroll not only could discuss Buddhist meditation but read a book on the subject which was on his dashboard while driving from Stockton where he was attending University of Pacific.

      There's a nasty side to Carroll. He was as safety at UOP, which subsequently dropped football, and a former teammate recalls him as a "headhunter." Seattle's "Legion of Boom," defensive backfield can only bring satisfaction. As it brings wins.

      Been there, done that. And ready to do it again.

      "There are a lot of similarities," he answered when asked about trying to add to Super Bowls to his two college championships.

      "It's really difficult to get there the first time and then if you've done it like you like to, you kind of pave the way for the next time. The kind of issues, the distractions, the conversations, kind of the dialogue, is very similar in coming back around. As far as coming back and to compare how it feels and all that stuff, I'm thrilled about the opportunity."

      Especially after the Seahawks started the 2014 season with three losses their first six games. The presumption was that as so many teams do the season after a Super Bowl victory, Seattle has destined to plummet. Wrong presumption.

      "This is very difficult to get to this position and of course we want to make the very most of it," said Carroll, "but we had been planning to do this for some time in hopes that we could.

      "We're trying to take it in stride, so we can do it well and handle it well. We'll find out how the game turns out, but to this point, to rally like our team did during the early part of the year and then hang on and in the middle of the year kind of take off, I think it's a real statement that we had a bunch of guys that were determined to get this."

      They got to it. Carroll could be getting a chance to gloat. Again.

      Patriots owner Robert Kraft is the man who fired Carroll after the 1999 season. His team is the foe. Yes, Pete and Pats have met previously but not in such a momentous game.

      "Robert has been very gracious throughout the time," Carroll said about his dealings with Kraft since being dropped by New England. "I've tried to return that to him."

      What he doesn't want to return is the Lombardi Trophy. He keeps it if Seattle wins a second straight Super Bowl. Carroll's good ship lollipop has proven to be a very sea-worthy vessel.

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    Raiders reportedly interview DC Grantham
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Oakland Raiders reportedly interviewed Todd Grantham for their open defensive coordinator position on Monday.

    • Grantham, a longtime defensive assistant in the NFL, spent the 2014 season as the coordinator on Bobby Petrino's staff at Louisville, where his defense ranked sixth in the nation.

      Grantham, 48, was defensive coordinator at Georgia from 2010 to 2013. In the NFL, he has coached with the Indianapolis Colts (1999-2001), Houston Texans (2002-2004), Cleveland Browns (2005-07) and Dallas Cowboys (2008-09).

      New Raiders coach Jack Del Rio also has interviewed Mike Smith and Eric Mangini. The latter was hired by the San Francisco 49ers, and Smith reportedly might take a year off from coaching.

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    Reports: Morris accepts job with Falcons
    By The Sports Xchange

    Washington Redskins secondary coach Raheem Morris accepted a position with the Atlanta Falcons as assistant head coach in charge of defensive backs, according to reports Monday.

    • Morris has spent the past three years as the secondary coach in Washington but was passed over for the defensive coordinator position when the Redskins hired Joe Barry last week.

      NFL Network reported that Morris' role in Atlanta represents a promotion because of the title, but former Denver Broncos linebackers coach Richard Smith reportedly will become Atlanta's defensive coordinator.

      Although the Falcons have yet to name a new head coach, Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is expected to replace Mike Smith after the Super Bowl.

      According reports, Quinn could be named the Falcons' head coach next Monday.

      Morris served as Tampa Bay's head coach from 2009 to 2011, compiling a 17-31 record before being fired.

      The Falcons have already decided on Kyle Shanahan as their next offensive coordinator.

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    Colts part ways with RBs coach Walker
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Indianapolis Colts and running backs coach David Walker agreed to part ways Monday.

    • "We're grateful for David's contributions to the Colts' success over the last four years and wish him nothing but the best in the future," head coach Chuck Pagano said in a statement.

      The Colts finished 22nd in the NFL in rushing in 2014, averaging 100.8 yards per game.

      Walker spent the last four seasons with the Colts after working as running backs coach at the University of Pittsburgh.

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    Brady says he's moving on from distractions
    By The Sports Xchange

    New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said he hasn't yet spoken to NFL investigators regarding the underinflated footballs controversy, but he's now putting those thoughts and feelings aside leading up to Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks.

    • Brady talked to ESPN's Chris Berman during halftime of Sunday night's Pro Bowl.

      "No, no. I believe they're going to do after the season, so we'll deal with it after this game," Brady said when asked if he had been contacted personally about the underinflated footballs.

      "I think everybody's locked in, ready to go for this Super Bowl. It's a great opportunity for us, you know, and our guys have worked really hard so, hopefully we can go out there and play our best on Sunday."

      On Monday morning, the backlash from the so-called "deflategate" continued for Brady during his weekly appearance on sports radio WEEI in Boston.

      "I personalized a lot of things and thought this was all about me and my feelings got hurt, and then I moved past it because it's not serving me," Brady said Monday.

      "I think what's serving me is to try to prepare for the game ahead, and I'll deal with whatever happens later. I'll have my opportunity to try to figure out what happened and figure out a theory like everyone else is trying to do. But this isn't the time for that, and honestly I'm not interested in trying to find out right now because we have the biggest game of our season ahead."

      During the radio interview, Brady was asked whether he has ever told an equipment manager or ball boy to deflate the football after the officials' pregame inspection.

      "Absolutely not," he said. "No, I didn't. And I haven't. And I never will. I think that's obviously how I feel and the kind of person that I am.

      "No one knows the facts. I pick 24 balls, that's what I pick. Whatever happened after I did it, and whatever the situation was where they measured them, I have no idea any of those facts. So I try to stay really humble and deal with the facts that I know. When you don't know something, that's all you can say is, 'I don't know.' I know that's not always the answer that people want to hear, but that's the reality."

      For the past week, the Patriots have been dealing with distractions from the media regarding the NFL investigation.

      Coach Bill Belichick -- under fire since underinflated footballs were used in the AFC Championship Game -- said Saturday at a news conference that the Patriots had studied and simulated the process of ball preparation and he believes they "absolutely followed every rule to the letter."

      The NFL is investigating the Patriots after 11 of 12 game balls they used in their 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC title game were found to be underinflated.

      "Everybody is entitled to their opinion," Brady said Monday on WEEI when asked if he's learned this week about who his friends truly are. "Everyone will say, 'God, it's been a tough week for you.' But it's been a great week for me, to really be able to recalibrate the things that are important in my life and understand the people that support me, and love me, and care about me. I think that's been the best thing to come out of this week.

      "It's all part of the business and you deal with the ups and the downs, the good and the bad, and I'm excited to play in the Super Bowl for the sixth time. It's a pretty amazing accomplishment for our team based on where we started. That's where I'm at; I'm in a great place. We've had a great week in practice. We're going to go down and try to finish strong."

      During Sunday night's interview with ESPN, Brady was asked whether the investigation has affected the team's preparation in any way.

      "I certainly hope not. I think we're a pretty mentally tough team, and I think we've dealt with other things in the past," Brady said. "I think Coach has always said 'ignore the noise' and we have to focus on the task at hand, which is a great Seahawks team. I'm excited to play in another Super Bowl. You don't get many of these opportunities in your life. ... We finished our last practice (Sunday) here in Foxborough, and we head out (Monday) to Phoenix, so it will be good to get there and get into the week. I think we feel good about where we're at."

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    NFL, YouTube announce partnership
    By The Sports Xchange

    The NFL and YouTube announced a partnership on Monday that will deliver content on a new channel.

    • Through the official NFL channel on YouTube -- and video directly viewable for Google Search users -- the partnership will enable fans to engage with NFL content on computers, tablets and mobile phones.

      The new channel allows viewers to access a seven-day-a-week NFL content programming schedule. Content posted will include game previews, in-game highlights, post-game recaps as well as clips featuring news, analysis, fantasy football advice, and other select content from NFL Network and NFL.com.

      Additionally, NFL game highlights and content will be available through Google Search.

      Days from Super Bowl XLIX, the NFL channel will contain clips of many of the top plays and games from the 2014 season, as well as content featuring the sights and sounds from Arizona and previewing the matchup between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks.

      The NFL channel on YouTube and Google search results will also contain in-game highlights from the Super Bowl.

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    Bears hire Rodgers as DL coach
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Chicago Bears hired Jay Rodgers as defensive line coach, a position he held under new head coach John Fox while in Denver.

    • Rodgers spent the last six seasons as an assistant with the Broncos, including the last three as defensive line coach when Fox was head coach in Denver.

      In 2014, the Broncos' defense ranked second against the run (79.8 yards).

      Rodgers served as a coaching assistant (2009-10) and defensive quality control coach (2011) with the Broncos before being promoted to defensive line coach.

      Rodgers is the older brother of new Bears special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers.

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    SB XLIX: Defining Belichick's greatness
    By The Sports Xchange

    Bill Belichick has managed to create a legacy without leaving a footprint. That is very difficult to do.

    • We're not talking about the various "Gate" cases, a subject we'll leave for another time as Belichick prepares to coach the Patriots in the Super Bowl for the sixth time.

      All the great coaches before him generally have had some lasting influences.

      Paul Brown called the plays for his quarterbacks decades before that became s.o.p. and also fully integrated his roster long before everyone else did it.

      Vince Lombardi was so influential that the NFL's championship trophy is named for him.

      Sid Gillman virtually invented the modern passing game and influenced legions of coaches who came after him.

      Bill Walsh created offensive and organizational systems that spread, at least in part, to every team in the league.

      Belichick? All he does is win, trailed by controversy. He doesn't even spawn a coaching tree as many of the greats do. Most of his assistants who struck out on their own -- Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Josh McDaniels -- flamed out. His fingerprints are on every corner of everything the Patriots do, but his influence does not go beyond that.

      As a result, and this may not be a popular position to take, but Belichick may indeed be the greatest coach of the NFL's modern era. Sure, he bends the rules, occasionally even breaks them. (Although criticism of his "ineligible receiver" gambit miss the point because that is an entirely legal maneuver, more on that later.)

      But -- and is this not the perfect metaphor for the "me" generation -- Belichick doesn't care what you think of him or what you say about him. Coaches are always single-minded but he takes that attitude to a new level. Even his supposed mentor, Bill Parcells, left a trail behind by his ability to jump jobs and revitalize teams, but it's worth pointing out that Parcells never won a playoff game without Belichick on his coaching staff.

      No one, certainly not the late Cleveland Browns owner, Art Modell, ever saw this coming. Belichick was Modell's coach for a time in the ‘90s and was so toxic a presence he was blamed in part for the team's decision to move to Baltimore.

      Later, Belichick quit on the New York Jets after less than 24 hours as their coach to become coach of the Patriots in a swirl of controversy that cost New England draft choices and, in retrospect, should be seen as a harbinger.

      There is reasonable belief that Belichick wouldn't even be the favorite house guest of his boss, New England owner Robert Kraft, who, even while enjoying all the Lombardi trophies Belichick brought to him, once called his coach a "schmuck."

      Belichick is a brilliant coach with the personality of a radish. He is remarkably well-read and may own the largest library of football coaching books on the planet. He was a defensive coordinator before becoming a head coach but since then has been heavily involved in both the offensive side of his team and the special teams.

      When New England won Super Bowls early in Belichick's reign as the coach, much credit also flowed to Scott Pioli, his personnel guru, for assembling the roster. But Pioli failed when he struck out on his own and Belichick has continued to win.

      And while critics say he has had it easy with Tom Brady as his quarterback all those years, who made the decision to keep a young Brady as the starter when the predecessor, Drew Bledsoe, recovered from an injury -- and after Bledsoe saved an AFC championship game?

      Sure, 12 division titles in 14 years is an impressive number in an era when rosters must constantly be made over, but Belichick might have done his best work after Brady missed virtually the entire 2008 season due to injury and the Patriots finished 11-5 behind a backup quarterback, Matt Cassel.

      At least a part of Belichick's genius lies in his lack of an ego.

      He is unafraid to steal from others and unafraid to give them credit, too.

      The "ineligible receiver" formation he used in the playoffs came straight from Alabama coach Nick Saban, who was Belichick's defensive coordinator at Cleveland.

      But Saban is not the only college coach Belichick acknowledges stealing from, and not even the primary one. Belichick has forged a close relationship with Urban Meyer, the Ohio State coach who used to be at Florida, close enough that the two men have studied each other's practices and addressed each other's team in meetings. They have exchanged strategies and philosophies.

      In a 2008 interview, Belichick told me, "For him to watch us practice, watch me for a day or a day and a half, and to be able to say something as an outsider (is valuable). Frankly, he's had a chance to observe a lot more pro (teams) practice than I have. I only see this organization . . . He has a viewpoint on what we're doing and, whatever his thoughts are, I think the team is very receptive to hearing them."

      Belichick added, "Sometimes, I bounce stuff off him. Sometimes, he bounces stuff off me. I value his opinion and advice when he gives it to me. I appreciate it."

      That openness -- and acknowledgement of it -- is rare. Bill Walsh, the late Hall of Fame coach who created the San Francisco 49ers' dynasty in the ‘80s, used to complain that Steve Mariucci, who coached the 49ers for a half-dozen seasons beginning in 1997, never asked him for advice, even when Walsh was the team's general manager.

      "I could help him, you know," Walsh frequently used to say.

      But Belichick does not mind learning from others.

      "Bill is always looking to find out new stuff and he doesn't care (where it comes from)," Jim Fassel, the former New York Giants coach, once said. "That's the unique thing about Bill, because you can't in this profession let your ego get in the way . . . all you want to do is to do things that make you win."

      Ira Miller is an award-winning sportswriter who has covered the National Football League for more than three decades and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee. He is a national columnist for The Sports Xchange.

  • Monday, January 26, 2015
    Competition takes back seat to fun in Pro Bowl
    By The Sports Xchange

    GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Only at the fantasy-draft Pro Bowl ...

    • Green Bay wide receiver Jordy Nelson celebrated a touchdown reception with a jump-bump into his Packers teammate, linebacker Clay Matthews, who just happened to be playing for the other team.

      Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck completed a touchdown pass to Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton ... who beat another Colts teammate, cornerback Vontae Davis, on the play.

      New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham celebrated a touchdown by dunking the ball over the goalpost, a move that was banned during the regular season and cost him $30,000 for two preseason violations.

      Outside of that, Team Carter's 32-28 victory over Team Irvin at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday was pretty much routine.

      "It was good. It was fun," Nelson said. "It is a different game, so you have to adjust to it."

      Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan completed a 1-yard pass to Graham with 3:10 remaining, putting Team Irvin in front for good in the loosely physical contest.

      Graham's second touchdown reception came on a fourth-down play and capped a 70-yard drive.

      Ryan, the third quarterback used by Team Irvin, completed 11 of 16 passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns. His 1-yard pass to Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders late in the third quarter brought his team within 28-25.

      Sanders also caught two touchdown passes.

      Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton's fourth-down incompletion in the end zone with 46 seconds left ended Team Carter's chances.

      The game, which featured six quarterbacks and six lead changes, was the second Pro Bowl in which the players were selected in a draft rather than the divided by the previous NFC-AFC setup.

      Nelson's 21-yard touchdown reception on a pass from New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees gave Team Carter a 20-19 halftime lead. After Nelson made the catch, Matthews caught up to him for a chest bump.

      "That was good. I'm glad Clay thought of that," Nelson said.

      "Obviously, I'm excited for Jordy," Matthews said. "This draft process, where you have two different teams ... I celebrated with him, but that's all I could give. I'm glad we came away with the victory."

      Detroit Lions quarterback Matt Stafford completed 15 of 25 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns for Team Irvin, but he also threw an interception and fumbled a handoff. Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt made the interception and recovered the fumble.

      Stafford and Watt were selected the game's offensive and defensive Most Valuable Players, respectively.

      Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen caught two touchdown passes for Team Carter, one on a play that was reversed after an official on-field review using computer tablets.

      Luck completed nine of 10 passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns while playing only the first quarter for Team Carter. Luck and the Dallas Cowboys' Tony Romo were the only two quarterbacks of the original six Pro Bowl selections to play in the game. Romo played one series for Team Irvin.

      Luck's 14-yard scoring pass to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton with 34 seconds left in the opening quarter gave Team Carter a 13-9 lead.

      "It's fun but it's different, because he and Luck are on the same page," Davis said. "That's not fair. It's cool. Teammates having fun in the Pro Bowl. I'm glad they're on my team."

      Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles made six receptions for 79 yards and also had three carries for 42 yards for Team Irvin. New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. had five receptions for 89 yards for the winners, who got 98 yards on two catches from Lions wide receiver Golden Tate.

      Olsen's second touchdown reception gave Team Carter a 28-19 lead late in the third quarter before Ryan brought Team Irvin back.

      Graham used the opportunity of his 6-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to spike the ball over the goalpost.

      "I really wanted to catch one here because this is I guess the only place I can dunk without a flag," Graham said. "But you know, the league called down and told me not to hang on it, so I didn't. Maybe they'll change the rule in the future and I'll be able to just dunk it like that."

      Colts placekicker Adam Vinatieri made two field goals, but he also missed a field goal and two extra points. The width of the goal posts was reduced from 18 feet to 14 for the game.

      "It makes your margin of error much shallower and much more difficult," Vinatieri said. "I would like to have them leave it alone, but that's for my own selfish reasons."

      NOTES: The NFL tested a new review system designed to speed up the process, with officials able to watch streaming video on a tablet on the field. The system was used to reserve a ruling on the field and permit TE Greg Olsen's 10-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. The league also made replays available to players and coaches on the sideline via tablet. ... Players for the winning team earned $55,000, while the losers got $28,000, as stipulated by the collective bargaining agreement. Players who were selected but have a Super Bowl commitment are to receive $41,500. ... The University of Phoenix Stadium roof was open for the first time in an NFL game since the Cardinals hosted San Francisco on Dec. 29, 2013. It was 70 degrees at kickoff. The Cardinals prefer a closed roof in order to maximize crowd noise. ... There were no kickoffs to minimize the risk of injury.

  • Sunday, January 25, 2015
    Seahawks notebook: Carroll learns game-ball procedures
    By The Sports Xchange

    PHOENIX -- Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, in his rimless glasses and dark suit, looked more like a businessman than a football coach. However, the questions he was asked moments after the Seahawks arrived for next Sunday's Super Bowl had nothing to do with finance.

    • Seattle's jet arrived at Sky Harbor Airport in the early afternoon, and not long after that, after the Seahawks' buses crept through the crowd of cheering, banner-waving fans at the motor entrance to the Arizona Grand Hotel, he was dealing with, yes, "deflategate."

      That made sense, in a way, because Seattle's opponent in Super Bowl XLIX is the New England Patriots, who are accused of reducing the air pressure in balls for last weekend's AFC Championship Game victory over Indianapolis.

      While Seattle's outspoken cornerback Richard Sherman was much more opinionated on the situation -- insisting the Pats will avoid punishment because of team owner Robert Kraft's close association with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell -- Carroll saw the debate over the footballs as educational for him and Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

      "I'm much better versed today than I was a week ago," Carroll said. "Fans think we should have known before, but I never checked into how the process is handled. Coach Belichick, same way. But I know every step of it now.

      "There are so many areas in the league, social areas, we haven't dealt with. This is an opportunity for us to grow. We don't have everything nailed yet, but we will eventually."

      Carroll could become the seventh coach in the 49 years to win back-to-back Super Bowls, joining Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Chuck Noll, Jimmy Johnson, Mike Shanahan and Belichick.

      "It's something I'm aware of," Carroll said, "more numbers, but typically, I don't care. That doesn't concern me."

      The direction of the NFC Championship Game, when Seattle trailed the Green Bay Packers 16-0 at one point, obviously did concern the coach. He said that entered into his decision to go for the fake field goal, which ended up as a touchdown pass.

      "A lot goes into those choices," Carroll said. "It has to do with the people on the field and the situation. We were struggling at the time. We didn't even know if we were going to score. You try things."

      That thing worked.

      --

      Sherman came in late. He was wearing a hoodie for no particular reason since the interview session was under a roof.

      Despite his reputation for flash, Sherman was subdued. He answered questions about the injury he received to his left arm in the Packers game but not how he ranks among NFL defensive backs.

      "I don't measure myself," he said. "My game speaks for itself."

      Asked if "deflategate" made the Patriots villains, Sherman shook his head. "Nope," he answered. "There are no villains in this game."

      No pressure, either, he implied.

      "Pressure is created by the media," he said. "I don't think the Patriots feel any pressure, and we don't either."

      --

      The temperature was 77 degrees outside, but Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson wore a leather jacket and scarf for his interview. Maybe the air conditioning worried him. The game apparently did not.

      "We found ways to make plays," said Wilson, who threw four interceptions in the NFC Championship Game.

      "This Super Bowl gives us a chance to be up there with the best in the game. Last year, we beat (Peyton) Manning, who some think is the best quarterback of all time. This Super Bowl, we have a chance to beat the second best."

      That would be the Patriots' Tom Brady.

      --

      Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett remains skeptical about "deflategate."

      "I think, I mean, I think it's all propaganda, man," Bennett said. "Just to get a chance to blow the game up, is all. Inflating the game right now. Just to make it even more ... than what it really is about. And it really is just about two great teams playing. I think a lot of people are shying away from that aspect of it."

      Not the media, certainly.

      "The Patriots are arguably one of the best teams of this decade," Bennett said, "and we're starting to -- trying to -- catch up to where they're at, to what they've done the last 10 years. And Bill Belichick is one of the best coaches of all time, so I think people are forgetting that.

      "The coaches going and the players playing -- it's too much about the balls and stuff. Hopefully, everybody starts talking about the game again."

      --

      Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, not surprisingly, wasn't among those in attendance for Sunday's media session.

      "I admire him," Bennett said of Lynch refusing to answer questions with little more than "Thank you," if even that.

      "He's guilty by association. That only happens to black players. I wish I didn't have to talk."

  • Sunday, January 25, 2015
    Reports: Browns WR Gordon fails test, faces year ban
    By The Sports Xchange

    Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon failed another drug test and will be subject to a one-year suspension, ESPN.com reported Sunday.

    • Gordon's future in Cleveland and the NFL would be in question if the report is accurate.

      The Browns issued a statement Sunday night that read, "Clearly we are very disappointed to hear the latest report regarding Josh. At this point, due to the confidential nature of the NFL's substance abuse policy, we have not been made aware by the league of a failed test. We are in the process of gathering more information and will provide further comment at the appropriate time."

      Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio confirmed that the 23-year-old Gordon is in line for a one-year ban for a violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

      A source told Florio that Gordon tested positive for alcohol and that Gordon's suspension looks to be a "done deal," with a reversal of the ban not expected.

      The Browns had to deal with their star wide receiver being suspended 10 games at the start of the season for violating the substance-abuse policy. The Browns also suspended Gordon for the season finale for violating team rules.

      Gordon, who entered the NFL after being dismissed from Baylor for a failed marijuana test, caught 24 passes for 303 yards in five games in 2014. He led the NFL with 1,646 yards in just 14 games in 2013.