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NFL notebook: Goodell calls Brady ‘great young man’


The Sports Xchange

Roger Goodell might have his differences with Tom Brady because of the Deflategate scandal, but the NFL commissioner still respects the New England Patriots quarterback.

On July 28, Goodell upheld a four-game suspension for Brady’s alleged role in using underinflated footballs during the AFC Championship Game in January.

“Listen, he’s a great player and he’s a great young man,” Goodell told the Canton Repository during an interview Friday inside the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

“We issued the decision just last week. We’re in the midst of litigation to … ensure that that’s enforced the way we ruled on that, after a long process that is established in our collective bargaining agreement. That’s something we’ll play through.”

Goodell was asked by the Repository if the suspension will tarnish Brady’s legacy and standing as future Hall of Famer.

“The integrity of the game is the most important thing,” said Goodell, only a few feet from the Hall of Fame’s mission statement that expresses the importance of the promoting the values of the game. “The integrity of the game is something we will always protect. The rules apply to everybody.

“That is my job in particular, to make sure everyone from our players to our coaches, to our fans and our partners, that they all recognize we’re going to play by these sets of rules, and that’s part of our values and standards.”

The NFL Players Association appealed Goodell’s ruling to federal court. Goodell and Brady are due to meet in a Manhattan federal court on Wednesday for a court-mandated settlement hearing.

—Ron Wolf, former Green Bay Packers general manager being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, created a stir when he congratulated Roger Goodell on “that Brady thing.”

Wolf was among the Hall of Fame inductees on Thursday night to accept his gold jacket ahead of Saturday’s Hall of Fame induction in Canton, Ohio.

Wolf was shown on camera telling Goodell, “Way to go on that Brady thing.” Wolf slapped Goodell on the shoulder with his left hand as he delivered the remark, and Goodell let out a laugh that received a heavily criticized reaction on social media.

Wolf said his comment to Goodell regarding the commissioner’s handling of the Deflategate scandal was sincere.

“I wasn’t trying to be a wise guy,” Wolf told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen on Friday. “I realize he has a real tough job. It was just a passing moment, and obviously, it was picked up on a microphone. I basically meant, ‘Congrats on making a decision.’ That’s why the owners are paying him all that money. But it’s still a tough job, and I congratulated him on making that decision, although I don’t think it was anything profound. It happened so quickly. It’s not me saying I’m for or against his decision. That’s not for me to say.”

—New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick had some heartfelt words to describe Junior Seau as the late linebacker gets inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Belichick was asked Saturday to reflect on his time coaching Seau, who played for the Patriots from 2006 to 2009.

“The one word I’ve always used with Junior is ‘passion,'” Belichick said. “Of all the players I’ve coached, his passion for the game, in every sense of it, was exceptional.

“In the building. In the classroom. On the practice field. Around his teammates. In the games. On the sidelines, whatever it was, that was the one thing about Junior that was always exceptional relative to other players. Forget about ability and all that, but as a playing style, his true passion for the game of football.

“Junior and I personally had a great relationship, and he was on this team for different parts of four seasons. He was always a very honest, up-front, team-oriented player. He brought a lot to this team, this organization. I think all of us that interacted with him while he was here feel privileged to have had that opportunity to play with or coach Junior. He was pretty special, aside from all the accolades that he rightly deserves for his playing ability and production. I’m talking about all the other things.

“Well-deserved and we’re very proud of his recognition. I’ve expressed that to his family on behalf of our organization. We were fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with him.”

Seau was an eight-time All-Pro and 12-time Pro Bowl player with the San Diego Chargers (1990-2002). He also played with the Miami Dolphins (2003-05) and Patriots (2006-09). He was named to the all-decade team of the 1990s.

After battling depression and behavioral changes, Seau died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest in 2012 at the age of 43.

—Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount suffered an injury to his right knee during Friday’s training camp session.

Blount has a sprained right MCL, the Boston Globe reported. The source told the newspaper that Blount will be ready for the start of the regular season.

The NFL suspended Blount one game — the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers — for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Blount was a member of the Steelers last year when he and Steelers teammate Le’Veon Bell were stopped by police. Blount was arrested for marijuana possession, but prosecutors dropped the charge after Blount performed 50 hours of community service.

The 28-year-old Blount was released by the Steelers in November and joined the Patriots for the final five games of the 2014 regular season.

—Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr will have surgery to repair a broken bone in his right hand, coach Jason Garrett said Saturday.

Surgery will be performed in Dallas on Monday, Garrett said. Carr was injured during practice Saturday.

Garrett indicated that Carr might be able to play with a cast, saying the injury was similar to the one suffered by running back DeMarco Murray last season — Murray did not miss a game.

Carr signed a five-year, $50 million deal with the Cowboys in 2012 and is scheduled to make $8 million this season.

The Cowboys also made three roster moves Saturday, waiving linebackers Will Smith and Justin Anderson and signing guard Cody Clay.

—Baltimore Ravens defensive end Brent Urban has a torn biceps and faces the prospect of missing his second season in a row.

Urban reportedly was injured during practice Thursday, and an MRI on Friday night revealed the tear.

Urban is expected to miss at least 12 weeks. The Ravens could place him on short-term injured reserve or season-ending IR.

—The joint practice between the Houston Texans and Washington Redskins was disrupted by a series of brawls on Saturday.

Several fights broke out on two separate practice fields at the Redskins’ training camp facility in Richmond, Va. Practice ended an hour earlier than scheduled.

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden called one fight a “nasty brawl” and acknowledged that the day had been wasted.

“I do wish we had that practice,” Gruden told reporters. “We had some red zone, some two-minute, some great situational work we were going to do today. Unfortunately, we didn’t get it done.”

Gruden said he will reconsider “going three straight days in pads” against another team for joint practices in the future.

Texans coach Bill O’Brien had a different viewpoint on fights breaking out during joint practices.

“It’s training camp, you know?” O’Brien said. “It’s intense out there. It’s too bad, but that’s just what happens with two competitive teams. We both got work done. We just separated the practice. It’s a good couple days, I guess two and a half. It was good.”

—Johnny Manziel, under a microscope during the Cleveland Browns’ training camp as he tries to prove he belongs in the NFL after last year’s missteps, appeared to make progress Friday night in a scrimmage before 50,000 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus.

The second-year quarterback looked more comfortable in the pocket and completed 9-of-11 passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns while playing against backups.

Manziel connected with tight end E.J. Bibbs on a 3-yard touchdown pass and with Josh Lenz for an 18-yard score.

“I wouldn’t make a huge deal about it, but it’s progress for me,” said Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner who struggled as a rookie and then went through an offseason rehab for personal issues. “It’s better than I played last year in the scrimmage. A year later, there’s a lot of progress. I’m happy about it and happy about stringing some good days together. That’s what I wanted to do.”

—The St. Louis Rams and quarterback Nick Foles reached agreement on a two-year contract extension through the 2017 season, the team announced Friday night.

The deal is worth approximately $24 million, according to reports. Foles was scheduled to make $1.5 million in the final year of his rookie contract.

Foles is in his first year with the Rams, who acquired him from the Philadelphia Eagles during the offseason in exchange for quarterback Sam Bradford.

—Quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers denied he had an on-field altercation this week with outside linebacker Aldon Smith, who was released by the team on Friday after his latest incident off the field.

Media reports indicated that the altercation might have played a part in Smith’s arrest in Santa Clara, Calif., for DUI, hit and run and vandalism., indicated that part of the reason Smith had been arrested is because he vandalized Kaepernick’s Mercedes.

“I don’t drive a Mercedes, let’s put it that way,” Kaepernick told the San Jose Mercury News.

—The Pittsburgh Steelers signed free agent safety Jordan Dangerfield.

Dangerfield was on the team’s offseason roster but was released prior to the start of training camp. In 2014, he was on the offseason roster and added to the practice squad in November and early December.

To make room for Dangerfield on the active roster, the Steelers placed safety Isaiah Lewis on the waived/injured list. He was an undrafted free agent signed in January.

—Michael Sam officially made his debut for the Montreal Alouettes on Friday night, becoming the first openly gay player to appear in a Canadian Football League game.

Sam played sparingly and did not have an impact as the Alouettes lost to the Ottawa Redblacks 26-23 in Ottawa, Ontario. He played defensive end and failed to record a tackle.

Sam, who signed in May with the Alouettes, was the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team when he was selected in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams last year. He was released by the Rams during the preseason and later picked up and let go by the Dallas Cowboys.

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