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Carr says he won't extend deadline to assist Raiders trade

HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — Derek Carr said Thursday night he will not extend the Feb. 15 deadline to help facilitate a trade from the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Raiders must trade or release the quarterback by that date — three days after the Super Bowl — or Carr's contract will become guaranteed and Las Vegas will have to pay him $40.4 million over the next two years.

Because a trade wouldn't be official until March 15 when the new league year begins, a team could renege on a deal made before then. Carr would have to agree to extend the mid-February deadline to ensure any agreements remained in place.

“I don't think that would be best for me,” said Carr, who has a no-trade clause in his contract.

Even so, Carr said a trade could be reached by Feb. 15, but didn't sound as though he was in a hurry to make it happen.

The Raiders have not given Carr or his agent, Tim Younger, permission to speak with other teams regarding a potential deal.

“I’m just abiding by the rules,” Carr said. “If it gets to that date, then it gets to that date, and I’ll be able to talk to all my friends.”

Carr competed in the precision passing contest at Raiders headquarters as part of Pro Bowl festivities, and his event-high 31 points helped give the AFC an early 9-3 lead over the NFC. When asked on ESPN's broadcast whether he had ever been that hot in Las Vegas, Carr quipped: “Not that hot. Probably why I'm going somewhere else.”

Carr played nine seasons for the Raiders and holds club records for career yards passing (35,222) and touchdown passes (217). But he also never won a playoff game. And after struggling late in the season, Carr was benched with two games remaining and acknowledged he was angry about the decision.

He said he is prepared to try free agency should the Raiders release him, and said Peyton Manning shared his experiences with him after going through a similar situation. The Indianapolis Colts released Manning, who is coaching the AFC team at the Pro Bowl, in 2012 and he went on to win a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos.

“He’s like, ‘Man, it was kind of surreal in the moment. Like, wow, you can’t even believe it. But then you just go to the next place and you move on and do your best there,'" Carr said. “It’s nice to hear that from someone who I think is the best to play the game.”

Carr said he will always consider himself as part of the Raiders organization and anticipates possibly returning for team events in the future, but is looking forward to what might be coming next for his playing career.

“I’m just looking for teams that have made that decision consistently that they’ll do whatever it takes to put a winning program out there,” Carr said. “So for me, that’s just to win, win a championship. That’s at the forefront of the mind. It’s not money.”

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL



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Bengals' Joe Mixon charged with pointing gun at woman

CINCINNATI (AP) — Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon has been charged in a warrant with pointing a gun at a woman and threatening her, according to court documents.

Mixon faces a misdemeanor charge of aggravated menacing, according to the documents, which were filed Thursday in Hamilton County Municipal Court and obtained by The Associated Press. No attorney is listed for him in court records.

According to the warrant, Mixon pointed the gun at the woman and told her, “You should be popped in the face. I should shoot you, the police (can't) get me.”

The incident occurred on Jan. 21, the day before the Bengals beat the Buffalo Bills in a divisional-round playoff game.

The 26-year-old Mixon rushed for 814 yards and seven touchdowns this season, his sixth. He also had 60 receptions for 441 yards, both career highs, and two touchdowns.

A second-round draft pick out of Oklahoma in 2017, Mixon has spent his entire career with Cincinnati and rushed for career highs of 1,205 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2021.

In 2014, when he was 18, Mixon punched a female Oklahoma student in the face, an attack captured on surveillance video. He was suspended from the football team for a year and entered an Alford plea, in which a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges there is sufficient evidence for a conviction. He received a deferred sentence and was ordered to perform community service and undergo counseling.

The incident hurt his standing in the draft, with several teams saying they passed on him because of concerns about his character.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL



Ryans returns 'home' looking to turn around the Texans

HOUSTON (AP) — DeMeco Ryans was a highly sought-after candidate for head coaching jobs in this coaching cycle and had plenty of suitors other than the Houston Texans.

No team really had a chance to land him with the Texans as an option.

“When it came down to it, there is no place I wanted to be any more than H-town,” he said. “So, it was an easy pick for me. It was a no-brainer to be here, be home.”

Ryans was introduced as Houston’s new coach Thursday, giving him his first head coaching job in the place where he began his NFL playing career.

The 38-year-old Ryans joins the Texans from the San Francisco 49ers, where he spent the past two seasons as their defensive coordinator.

He replaces Lovie Smith, who was fired after just one season where the team went 3-13-1.

Ryans' introduction Thursday had a celebratory feel for a team that hasn’t had much to celebrate recently as the team endured three straight dreadful seasons where coaches Bill O’Brien and David Culley were also let go.

Ten current players and more than two dozen former players attended the event and many of them clapped and cheered as Ryans talked about his plans for this struggling franchise.

People around town are buzzing about the Texans hiring one of their own, and Houston rappers “Bun B” and “Trae tha Truth” illustrated that Thursday, attending the news conference both wearing the No. 59 jersey Ryans wore as a player.

Houston’s career leading receiver Andre Johnson was among those there to laud the new hire.

“It’s a great day for the Texans organization to have DeMeco back,” he said. “I just felt like it was the right decision. The league now is going to a place where you have to have a guy who can relate to players, develop players, create those relationships with players and have the belief of the players. And I think DeMeco is the guy for that.”

The Texans interviewed seven other candidates for the job, but it became clear pretty quickly that Ryans was their man.

General manager Nick Caserio talked about their first interview with Ryans that came over Zoom minutes after he left the practice field where he was helping the 49ers prepare for a playoff game.

“What did we like? Everything,” Caserio said. “It was one of the more impressive interviews, interactions I’ve ever been around. And the thing about it is he’s genuine. DeMeco is who he is. He’s sincere. He’s real.”

At the end of that first interview Ryans left Caserio and team owner Cal McNair with some strong parting words.

“I want to come home,” Caserio said Ryans told them. “This is my dream job. Let’s make it happen.”

Ryans was a star linebacker in six seasons in Houston after being drafted in the second round in 2006. He won AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2007 and 2009.

“When we drafted him in ’06, he took over the defense, stepped into the middle, called the plays,” McNair said. “He was captain and they called him ‘Cap’. So, he’s been a leader for a long, long time. ... I can’t tell you how excited I am that he’s here.”

Ryans, who spent his entire six-year coaching career in San Francisco, knows he has a difficult task ahead of him to turn this team around. But he’s looking forward to the challenge.

“We’re excited now, but we have to win,” he said. “We want to build the right staff. We want to get the right players so we can go out and win and compete. That’s when the excitement continues and that’s what we want to bring here.”

Ryans joins Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin and Tampa Bay’s Todd Bowles as the only three Black head coaches in the NFL. There are three other minority coaches, including Miami’s Mike McDaniel, who has a Black father and identifies as biracial.

Arizona and Indianapolis have yet to hire new coaches after firing their head coaches.

“It’s an honor to be a head coach in the National Football League,” Ryans said. “And it is humbling. It’s truly a blessing to just be one of 32. There’s not a ton of these jobs. So, to be trusted to lead this organization is something I take seriously. And I know the men who came before me and the sacrifices they made for me to be in this position leading the organization.”

Ryans said he received more than 500 texts congratulating him, with many saying how proud they were of him for reaching the pinnacle of coaching.

“Those same messages that I've gotten telling me how proud they are of me, I want to reflect that in our team," Ryans said. “We're preparing to make the city of H-town proud.”

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL



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Hurts ready for historic Super Bowl matchup with Mahomes

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Brandon Graham laughed as he recalled all the doubters who rushed him during the offseason and blurted out the same question — the main concern, really — about the state of the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback.

“What’s Jalen going to do?” said Graham, the strip-sacking defensive end.

Yes, it's hard to remember now, but Jalen Hurts was a bit of a mystery headed into his second full season as the starting QB. His solid 2021 season was marred by a poor playoff performance against Tampa Bay (that included two crushing interception) and reports of a rough go at organized team activities.

So the question raised around Philly really was, what’s Jalen going to do?

“I don’t know how many times I got that from fans, even some media people,” Graham said. “'I don’t know, the X-factor factor is Jalen. We don’t know what Jalen is going to do.'”

How about take the Eagles to the brink of their second Super Bowl championship?

Hurts launched the Eagles from preseason 30-1 odds to win the Super Bowl to staking them as 1 1/2-point favorites against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl.

As the seconds ticked down in the NFC championship victory over San Francisco, Graham and Fletcher Cox embraced Hurts on the sideline. Just a couple of defensive stalwarts who wanted to thank the quarterback that made it all happen.

“I was just telling him, I appreciate him because of all the things that he had to overcome this year,” Graham said. “You didn’t see him get rattled not one time. Man, I’m going to fight for a guy like that every time.”

The only true setback this season was a sprained right shoulder that cost Hurts two games. He still is playing through it; Hurts was a modest 15-of-25 passing for 121 yards and ran for 39 yards and a touchdown against the 49ers. The 24-year-old Hurts has downplayed the severity of the injury from the beginning. He simply said Thursday, “I’m getting there.”

The AFC champion Chiefs are prepared for Hurts at full speed.

“This is the Jalen Hurts Show at the end of the day,” defensive end Frank Clark said. “If you can stop what he’s doing, you can possibly slow them down. But he’s playing some great football.”

Hurts is appreciative of the magnitude of the moment. Mahomes and Hurts are both Texas natives. They are both NFL MVP finalists. And they will be the first Black QBs to face off in a Super Bowl.

Hurts said he tried to live up to the trail blazed in Philadelphia by fellow Black quarterbacks such as Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick and Randall Cunningham. While they are the most notable names, Rodney Peete and Vince Young were also Black starting QBs in Philly.

Hurts was honored to match up with Mahomes.

“I think it’s history. I think it’s something that’s worthy of being noted,” Hurts said.

The Chiefs beat the Eagles in October 2021 when Hurts threw for 387 yards and two touchdowns. Mahomes? Well, he threw for five. But the game was one of the earliest signs that Hurts would grow into the man in Philly.

“He had a great game this day,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said, “but he continues to get better.”

The Eagles stunned their fans when they drafted Hurts out of Oklahoma in the second round in 2020. They seemingly had Carson Wentz entrenched at QB and had more pressing needs. Hurt was expected to serve as insurance for Wentz. Instead, he supplanted him. Now the Eagles are on the road to Glendale, Arizona.

“When we drafted him, it was the upside we were banking on,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said. “We thought he had a huge upside. It takes a couple years. And somebody so dedicated as Jalen and such a great teammate, inevitably he is going to maximize everything he has and that’s what he’s done.”

The only mystery surrounding Hurts these days is just how much he can maximize his next contract. Hurts is due for a raise and he’s going to get paid. Mahomes agreed in July 2020 to a 10-year extension worth up to $503 million. The deal is worth $477 million in guarantee mechanisms and included a no-trade clause and opt-out clauses if guarantee mechanisms aren’t met. What’s Hurts worth? Try in the neighborhood of $50 million a season when it’s time to negotiate his second contract.

The only hiccup might be the length. The NFL’s salary cap will be $224.8 million in 2023, an increase of $16.6 million. At that rate, Hurts could be in his late 20s when the cap creeps toward $300 million and there’s more room to spend.

The Eagles are addressing those thorny topics after the Super Bowl.

“He is a great young leader. He is a terrific young quarterback,” Lurie said.

In just over a week, he could be a Super Bowl winner.

NOTES: The Eagles activated the 21-day practice window for punter Arryn Siposs to return from injured reserve. Siposs had been sidelined since mid-December with an ankle injury. The Eagles have since used veteran Brett Kern. Siposs could be activated for the Super Bowl ahead of Kern.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL



Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes gets back to work for Super Bowl

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes strolled through Arrowhead Stadium without any issues with his injured right ankle on Thursday, and the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback expects to practice fully in the next 10 days leading up to the Super Bowl.

Mahomes sprained the ankle during the divisional round against Jacksonville, and he was clearly hobbled in last Sunday night's AFC championship win over Cincinnati. But despite taking a couple of hard shots during that game, and his mad dash in the closing seconds to set up the winning field goal, Mahomes came out of it feeling just fine.

“It was a physical game. My whole body was a little sore. But I don't think I had any step backward, a reaggravation of the ankle," Mahomes said. “A little pain playing with it but other than that, I feel like I'm in a good spot.”

The Chiefs sustained a number of other injuries during their 23-20 win over the Bengals, though. They lost three wide receivers — Mecole Hardman reinjured his pelvis, JuJu Smith-Schuster had swelling in his knee and Kadarius Toney sprained his ankle — while cornerback L'Jarius Sneed was in the concussion protocol and Willie Gay Jr. hurt his shoulder.

Gay was the only one that returned to practice on an unseasonably mild February day in Kansas City.

Coach Andy Reid did say that Toney did the morning walk-through and “he's close and doing well,” while Smith-Schuster “is in a good place. The main thing is we let that calm down. We're very optimistic right now."

The news wasn't as positive for Hardman, who first hurt his abdominal area in November. The Chiefs later began to classify it as a pelvis injury as Hardman neared his return from injured reserve, but he wasn't able to make it back onto the field until the AFC title game. He was hurt while getting wrapped up after a catch and did not return.

“Very courageous effort,” Reid said, “and my heart goes out to the kid. He is hurting today.”

While the Chiefs remained thin at wide receiver, they did have Justin Watson back on the practice field. He was ruled out before kickoff against Cincinnati with an illness, forcing Marcus Kemp to come up from the practice squad.

The Chiefs also are hopeful that Sneed will clear the concussion protocol in the two weeks between games.

In a defense featuring three rookie cornerbacks and a rookie safety, Sneed is often tasked with covering the opposition's best wide receiver. It would have been Ja'Marr Chase against the Bengals, but Sneed was hurt on the game's fourth play and did not return; it will likely be A.J. Brown or DeVonta Smith if he can play against the Eagles in the Super Bowl.

Reid also said there's a possibility Clyde Edwards-Helaire, their 2020 first-round pick, will be activated for the big game. Edwards-Helaire had already ceded the No. 1 running back job to rookie Isiah Pacheco before a high ankle sprain landed him on injured reserve in late November, but his versatility could be helpful against a tough Eagles defense.

“He'll practice. We'll see where he's at,” Reid said. “We're just taking it day by day, seeking out how he's feeling, not only during practice but after practice. He'll work today.”

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL



Tom Brady's plate remains full after retirement announcement

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tom Brady’s future figures to be busy.

The seven-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback’s retirement announcement ended speculation about if and where Brady might want to play next season, opening the door for numerous off-the-field endeavors that could occupy his time.

It was announced last May that whenever Brady stepped away from his playing career, he would join Fox Sports as the network’s lead NFL analyst in a 10-year, $375 million contract.

The 45-year-old future Hall of Famer, who said Wednesday that he’s retiring for good, already has numerous commercial endorsements and an extensive business portfolio that includes the TB12 health and fitness company he co-founded with close friend and long-time trainer Alex Guerrero.

A look at some of the things that should keep Brady busy:

TV TOM

While there’s been no official word on when Brady might begin working for FOX Sports, the network will broadcast next weekend’s Super Bowl from Glendale, Arizona, and it’s not inconceivable that at least a cameo appearance by Brady might be in the works.

Brady holds numerous Super Bowl records, including title game appearances (10), wins (seven) and MVP awards (five).

TOM THE BUSINESSMAN

TB12, which has facilities in Tampa, Boston and Foxboro, Massachusetts, is just part of the business empire Brady began assembling while he was playing the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Among the other ventures he’s launched are his own BRADY clothing brand, 199 Productions, created three years ago to develop documentaries, feature films and television shows; and Autograph, an NFT company.

CELEBRITY TOM

Brady announced his retirement one day after attending the premiere of “80 for Brady” — which comes out Friday — in Los Angeles. The movie tells the story of four lifelong friends, played by Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno and Sally Field, who go to the Super Bowl to see Brady play.

The odds are pretty good that Brady might appear on a talk show or two to talk about the film, which he makes a cameo appearance.

He was asked at the premiere whether he felt a connection working with women — the four stars range in age from 76 to 91 — who don’t want to retire.

“They’re working hard and they love it. So good for them,” Brady told The Associated Press. “You know, it’s just that’s what life is about. You got to, you know, wake up every day with a purpose. And when you find something you love to do, you know, it’s hard to stop."

Brady had that with football. Now fans are waiting to see what's next.

TOM THE FAMILY MAN

When Brady briefly retired last winter — only to announce 40 days later that he’d return for a 23rd NFL season that wound up not going nearly as well as he envisioned — the father of three spoke of his desire to spend more time with family.

In the months after his 13-year marriage to model Gisele Bündchen ended in October, Brady has reiterated how important his kids and being a father are to him.

He has a son and daughter who live with Bündchen in South Florida, where Brady also has a home. He also has an older son with actress Bridget Moynahan who lives in New York.

TB12 FOUNDATION DUTIES

Brady’s charitable foundation is one of his passions, and has been for some time.

The foundation has a scholarship program that, according to the TB12 website, has provided thousands of treatment sessions to assist athletes of all ages and backgrounds “who would not ordinarily be able to access or afford high-quality post-injury rehabilitation and/or performance enhancement training.”

He could become even more engaged with those efforts.

Whatever Brady chooses to do one thing is certain: He has no shortage of career options after hanging up his cleats.

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Chiefs banked on rookie returns to reach Super Bowl again

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Andy Reid remembers talking to the Kansas City Chiefs at some point last year, back when veterans were getting to know rookies and the season still seemed so far off, and he brought up the San Francisco 49ers under Bill Walsh.

It was 1981 and the 49ers had drafted a quartet of defensive backs that they expected to contribute right away.

They did so much more.

Ronnie Lott went on to start all 16 games, beginning a Hall of Fame career and becoming one of the finest safeties to play the game. Eric Wright and Carlton Williams, who both went on to play in Pro Bowls, started alongside Lott every week, and Lynn Thomas appeared in 15 games.

Together, that group carefully selected by Walsh helped the 49ers win their first conference championship before beating the Bengals for their first Super Bowl title.

“It seems like a long time ago that I mentioned that to our guys,” Reid said this week.

The reason for bringing it up? Chiefs general manager Brett Veach also drafted four defensive backs last year. And much like the 49ers, the Chiefs banked on their rookie quartet to get back to the Super Bowl after a one-year absence.

“I mean, here we sit,” Reid said with a smile.

First-round pick Trent McDuffie, who dealt with a hamstring injury sustained in their opener, emerged as a lockdown cornerback. Jaylen Watson had a 99-yard pick-6 that helped the Chiefs beat the Chargers early in the season, and has since picked off two more passes in the playoffs.

Josh Williams also intercepted Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow in the AFC title game, catching the deep throw in the closing minutes after rookie safety Bryan Cook had batted it into the air.

The pressure on the four last Sunday night went soaring on the game's fourth play, when one of the few veterans in the secondary — L'Jarius Sneed — was sidelined by a concussion. Yet they were undaunted.

“Obviously there was concern,” Reid said, when asked about his rookies playing so much so soon, “but there was an optimism that it can be done. Then the kids, just their work ethic — they showed us this in training camp. They showed it all the way through the season. If they got beat, they came back and fought back.”

Indeed, all of them took regular-season lumps. But you wouldn't know it by the playoffs.

Did they exceed even Veach's expectations?

“I think so,” he replied. “Maybe it was a necessity because we had a lot of turnover. Again, every time we approach an offseason, whether it be a free-agent signing or draft pick, we have full confidence in our staff's ability to bring talented players in and our coaches to get the most out them. I think you saw early on — you guys were at the OTAs the training camps — I think it was pretty clear early on that this would be a special group.”

It hasn't just been the four defensive backs, either. It's been an entire rookie class outperforming expectations.

Defensive end George Karlaftis had six regular-season sacks, then another of Burrow in the AFC title game. Skyy Moore played a crucial role against the Bengals after three wide receivers were lost to injuries, and his punt return helped set up the winning field goal. Leo Chenal has appeared in every game at linebacker. And seventh-round pick Isiah Pacheco not only assumed the role of lead running back but has become a bona fide star.

The returns on the Chiefs' rookie investments are even more impressive given the fact that Kansas City, like other teams that make deep playoff runs each year, are usually picking after just about everyone else.

“I don't know if you've ever heard of a guy named Brett Veach,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said, “but he has brought in some amazing talent when he put this team together. We're the best team in the AFC because of what he's been able to do, on top of what these coaches have been able to do in terms of teaching these guys how to make plays.”

It's been a long time since Reid was teaching them a little bit of history, too. But the parallels between that bunch of 49ers in the early 1980s and this group of Chiefs in the early 2020s just might go all the way to a Super Bowl title.

Lott and those young 49ers hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. The Chiefs have a chance to do the same.

“I was optimistic,” Reid said, “but you don't know how that journey's going to go. But they've sure done a nice job."

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL



NFL prospects safeguarded from inappropriate team questions

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — NFL prospect Jake Andrews fielded questions from teams designed to probe his personality and attitude more than just his football IQ.

Those questions — such as, would you rather be a Super Bowl champion or Hall of Famer? — are standard issue for teams vetting potential draft picks leading up to all-star games like Saturday’s Senior Bowl and at the NFL combine. What aren’t deemed acceptable anymore: the outlier questions that a player might find demeaning or embarrassing, a nod to the greater attention being paid to mental health concerns among athletes.

Andrews, a Troy offensive lineman, and other players said former NFL running back Brian Westbrook spoke this week emphasizing the changes in the 21 years since he arrived in the league.

“When he first got in the league, if you wanted to see a psychiatrist or something, if you were having a down day, when it was time to negotiate that next contract, you knew (general managers) were going to bring that up,” Andrews said. “And that stuff just can’t happen in this day and age.

“I think it’s a good thing. A lot of people struggle with mental health and it’s really important to keep that in check. The questions can really expose people, so I think it’s a good thing that they protect us.”

The league warned teams in a memo last January they could be forced to forfeit a draft pick between the first and fourth round and be fined a minimum of $150,000 for out-of-bounds questions. Individual club employees could also face fines or suspensions.

There have been isolated reports in recent years of inappropriate questions being asked of draft prospects.

In 2010, then-Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland apologized to Dallas Cowboys first-round draft pick Dez Bryant for asking during a pre-draft visit whether his mother was a prostitute.

In 2016, then-Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn apologized to Eli Apple because one of his coaches asked the cornerback about his sexual preference.

Two years later, former LSU running back Derrius Guice said one team at the combine asked about his sexuality and another inquired if his mother was a prostitute.

“Whether you’re a professional athlete or not, there’s a level of dignity and respect that comes with an interview,” NFL executive Troy Vincent said at the owners meetings in December. “I think we all can appreciate that.

“Sometimes they (players) share things with you and you scratch your head. Other times, you’re embarrassed. These are things we can fix.”

Mental health professionals say the move is a step forward at a time when the spotlight has shined on the psychological well-being of athletes like Olympians Simone Biles and Michael Phelps, NBA star Kevin Love and former NFL receiver Brandon Marshall.

“Certainly, organizations look to protect their integrity and financial investments in players,” Dr. Stephen Ferrando, director of psychiatry for the Westchester Medical Center Health Network in New York, wrote in an email. “The efforts to uncover such problems, however, do not justify intrusive questioning of athletes. In fact, such questioning is likely to lead athletes to hide their problems out of fear of reprisal.

“Furthermore, such intrusive questioning may be based on assumptions, and this is likely to compound negative emotions. The NFL has taken a major step to reinforce boundaries when interviewing players.”

Joshua Norman, a psychiatrist at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, said “it’s important to preserve prospective employees’ dignity” in any type of job interview.

“Throughout the years in the NFL, there was always these kinds of offhand questions coming out of the interview process as college prospects were coming up through the ranks,” said Norman, who works with Buckeyes athletes. “I think it’s good they’re putting a little bit of structure behind that to kind of preserve players’ dignity. And also to be respectful of any type of mental health condition.”

Both Ferrando and Norman said studies have shown that athletes have about the same incidence of mental health struggles as the rest of the population.

Illinois safety Sydney Brown is OK with facing tough questions from NFL teams, saying his worst infractions amount to old parking or speeding tickets.

“I think at the end of the day as a player, you’ve got to be ready for those questions and whatever you’ve done in your history is going to trail with you,” said Brown, playing in the Senior Bowl along with teammate and brother Chase Brown.

“If they’re not asked today, they’re going to be asked eventually. It’s nice that they have our backs, but these are informal job interviews. This is football, right? You’ve just got to be ready for anything that’s thrown your way.”

Kansas defensive end Lonnie Phelps said he hasn’t been asked any questions that struck him as wrong, but he appreciates the efforts to protect players.

“I see that they actually care about the players’ mental health,” Phelps said. “They’ve got psychiatrists and stuff like that for free.

“They really care about the mental health.”

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AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon in Irving, Texas, contributed to this report.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL



Shanahan 'content' with Purdy, Lance as top 2 QBs for 2023

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan is “content” going into next season with Brock Purdy and Trey Lance as the top two quarterbacks for the 49ers even after both head into the offseason rehabilitating major injuries.

Purdy could be sidelined until training camp with an elbow injury suffered in the NFC championship game, while Lance is still recovering from a second operation on his broken right ankle but is expected to be ready for the offseason program.

But that uncertainty doesn't mean the 49ers are looking for a veteran option to compete as the starter on one of the NFL's most talented rosters.

“I know we have two starters on our team right now that I believe we can win with, so when you have that situation, you’re not that eager to go looking around," Shanahan said Wednesday.

Lance began the season as the starter but got hurt early in his second game. He has thrown only 102 passes in two seasons in the NFL after San Francisco traded three first-round picks to draft him third overall in 2021.

Purdy came in with much less fanfare as the last pick in the 2022 draft but shined late in the season after Lance's replacement, Jimmy Garoppolo, went down with a broken foot.

Purdy won his first seven starts before losing 31-7 to Philadelphia in the NFC championship game. Purdy hurt his elbow on the opening drive and returned to play the second half in an emergency even though he couldn't throw the ball more than a few yards because of a torn ligament in his right elbow.

Purdy is still seeking additional opinions on his treatment options, but the most likely scenario is a repair to the elbow that would allow him to be back before the start of next season.

“He’s continuing to go through that process,” general manager John Lynch said. “I think the positive bit of news is that it seems to be consistent that the right approach is that one that takes about that six-month mark.”

Under that scenario, Purdy would be able to start a throwing program in about three months and be back to his old self well before the start of next season.

"He (would be) the same dude and full go, so that was the most encouraging part that I heard,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan said he wasn't focused at this point on who would go into training camp as the starter and wasn't worried about another offseason of questions at quarterback after dealing with those the past few years.

“I don’t think there’s much to handle," he said. “One guy can’t go and the other guy should be ready for OTAs.”

One quarterback not in San Francisco's plans is Garoppolo, who started 55 games over the past six seasons for the Niners. Garoppolo returned this season as a surprise on a reduced contract when offseason shoulder surgery hurt his trade market.

When asked about a possible Garoppolo return for 2023, Shanahan said: “I don’t see any scenario of that.”

In other news:

— Shanahan said he has started looking for a new defensive coordinator after DeMeco Ryans was hired as head coach in Houston. He said he's looking for someone who can run a similar defense that Ryans did and wants to keep as many of his defensive assistants as possible.

"I’m hoping to find someone who fits with us personality-wise and scheme wise,” he said.

— Shanahan said two of his assistants have been requested for offensive coordinator interviews. Niners passing game coordinator Bobby Slowik will interview in Houston. Running backs coach Anthony Lynn is a candidate in Washington.

— Lynch said he plans to return for a seventh season as general manager. He was offered a broadcasting job last offseason by Amazon, but remains focused on winning a Super Bowl with the 49ers.

“I’m committed to doing this and I’m having a great time doing it and committed to finding a way to get a little bit better,” he said.

— Lynch said locking up All-Pro defensive end Nick Bosa with a long-term deal is a priority. He expects to get it done, but many of San Francisco's big-ticket extensions haven't gotten finalized until July.

“It takes time, it takes patience, it takes persistence, and we’ll have that on our side,” Lynch said.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL



Eagles reserve lineman accused of rape ahead of Super Bowl

NFLer charged with rape

CAMBRIDGE, Ohio (AP) — Josh Sills, a reserve offensive lineman for the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles, has been indicted on rape and kidnapping charges that stem from an incident in Ohio just over three years ago, authorities said Wednesday.

Sills, an undrafted free agent who appeared in just one game this season, was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list. That means he can’t practice, play or travel with the team as it prepares for the Super Bowl.

The NFL announced the move Wednesday and said the issue is being reviewed under the league's personal conduct policy.

The rookie, who played at West Virginia and Oklahoma State, was indicted Tuesday by a Guernsey County grand jury in Ohio and ordered to appear in court on Feb. 16, four days after the Eagles are to play the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl.

His attorney, Michael Connick, said the allegations are false and that Sills will be aggressively defended.

Sills was listed as a backup guard and played just four snaps on special teams against the Cardinals on Oct. 9, the one game he played. He was on the inactive list for most of the year, including this past Sunday in Philadelphia’s conference title victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

“The organization is aware of the legal matter involving Josh Sills. We have been in communication with the league office and are in the process of gathering more information. We have no further comment at this time,” the Eagles said in a statement.

The indictment accuses Sills, who is from Sarahsville, Ohio, of engaging in sexual activity that was not consensual and holding a woman against her will on Dec. 5, 2019.

A statement issued by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said the incident was immediately reported, and that the county sheriff’s office conducted a detailed investigation.



Column: Brady's finale didn't go as planned, but not too bad

In a perfect world — and so much of Tom Brady's career was as close to perfection as a football player can get — the first retirement would've stuck.

He certainly did nothing to enhance his legacy by returning for another season. And, of course, we’ll never know if that regrettable decision cost him his marriage, as well.

But Brady's farewell year — he announced his retirement again on Wednesday, and this time insisted that he means it — will quickly fade from our collective memories, overwhelmed by the enormity of his accomplishments over an unprecedented career.

The seven Super Bowl titles. The three MVP awards. The five Super Bowl MVP awards. The certain spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The unquestioned legacy as the greatest quarterback ever to toss a pigskin.

And Brady being Brady, even his final season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — the one he never should've come back for at age 45 — was hardly an embarrassment.

Yes, he presided over a team with a losing record for the first time in his 23-year career. (Let that one sink in for a moment. One losing season in more than two decades as an NFL quarterback. Simply amazing.)

Yes, he did get embarrassed in the playoffs after the Bucs snuck in only because a geographical anomaly gifted them a division title they hardly deserved.

But this wasn't Willie Mays or Joe Namath or Muhammad Ali at the end of their careers, pitiable shells of their former greatness.

Tampa Bay was terrible on offense, but it was hardly Brady's fault. Playing behind a line that had more leaks than a rickety old garden hose, he broke his own, year-old NFL record for most completions in a season with 490, and eclipsed another league mark with 733 passes thrown.

Only five other times in his career did Brady throw for more yards than this season's 4,694. A 66.8% completion rate also was among the best he's ever put up.

He wasn't at the top of the game anymore, but he wasn't that far off. NFL.com ranked him No. 11 among the league's 32 primary starting QBs at the end of the regular season, which seems an appropriate spot.

Brady could've gone deep one time, looking to connect on a desperation pass that might've given him a shot at a more appropriate ending: an eighth Super Bowl ring. There were some teams that might've been interested, perhaps even the San Francisco 49ers.

The team that reached the NFC championship game despite losing three quarterbacks to major injuries certainly has the talent everywhere else to make another run at the Super Bowl.

A one-off with Brady might've slowed the development of Trey Lance and Brock Purdy, but it would've made the 49ers a clear Super Bowl favorite next season. For good measure, it would've given Brady a chance to close his career not far from where he grew up in the Bay Area.

But we'll never know if such a scenario was ever realistic. With a 50-second video posted to social media on the one-year anniversary of his first retirement, Brady called it a career.

This time, he insisted, it's gonna stick.

“Good morning guys. I'll get to the point right away. I'm retiring,” he said, nodding his head slightly. “For good.”

He chided himself a bit for the hoopla that surrounded his 2022 decision, which he reversed 40 days later.

“I know the process was a pretty big deal last time,” Brady said. “So when I woke up this morning, I figured I'd just press record and let you guys know first. I won't be long-winded. You only get one super-emotional retirement essay, and I used mine up last year.”

The saddest part of Brady's final season was not the results on the field, but what happened away from the gridiron.

In late October, amid tabloid talk that Gisele Bündchen was livid at her husband for going back on his decision to retire, the couple finalized a divorce to their 13-year marriage.

They seem on good terms now.

Bündchen posted a comment to her ex-husband's video on Instagram that said, “Wishing you only wonderful things in this new chapter of your life." She tacked on a praying hands emoji. He added pictures of Bündchen and their children to his post.

No need to fret for the G.O.A.T.

Brady has already lined up an extremely lucrative landing for his post-playing career, agreeing last year to a staggering 10-year, $375 million contract to serve as a Fox game analyst.

It will be intriguing to see if he can bring the same brilliance and insight to the broadcast booth, especially when he rarely said anything all that interesting as a player.

Not to mention, his arrival is sure to stir up a bit of drama since Fox's current lead analyst, Greg Olsen, has quickly gone from stopgap to one of the best of the business.

But never bet against the guy who went from a sixth-round draft pick to the best there's ever been.

“Thank you guys for allowing me to live my absolute dream,” Brady concluded in his retirement video, his voice quivering. “I wouldn't change a thing.”

Not even a final season that didn't go as planned.

As with all things Brady, it might be the best performance we'll ever see by a past-their-prime athlete who should've stayed retired.

___

Paul Newberry is the national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.org or at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL



Portal to Pros: NFL teams eyeing rising number of transfers

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — The prolific pace of school-switching among college players has helped some NFL prospects have breakout seasons and demonstrate they can adapt to a new system.

They're hoping that pays off in the draft.

Offensive lineman O’Cyrus Torrence followed his coach, Billy Napier, from Louisiana-Lafayette to Florida and proved he could thrive against Southeastern Conference competition. He could get rewarded with being a first-round pick in April — and doesn’t have to answer questions about the level of competition he faced.

“I feel like it shows that I’m more versatile than it originally seemed, and that I could hold my own against bigger, faster players,” said Torrence, an All-SEC selection. “And just different looks and different things I faced in the SEC. It just shows that I’m ready to hit the ground running with whatever team drafted me.”

The transfer floodgates opened wide after the NCAA’s April 2021 rule change meant they wouldn’t have to sit out a year at another FBS school. It’s created some more opportunities for players and a chance for more homework from NFL teams, which can evaluate how players made the transition from one system to another and get feedback from multiple college coaching staffs.

“We try to keep up with it as best as we can,” said Matt Groh, the New England Patriots’ player personnel director. “But you can look out there and there are countless number of players from this school, he was at that school.

“We keep up with all that, and really it’s just another group of coaches, support staff from different schools (and we) get their opinions and their input on a prospect. You can be at one school and have four different offensive coordinators, though, so that’s the way it is here these days. These kids have got to learn to adapt.”

Some do it better than others. The Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game rosters are loaded with players who played for multiple college teams in bids for more playing time, better personal situations or chances to improve their NFL draft stock. It's likely too early to tell how the increased movement affects players' transition to the NFL.

Several first-rounders in last year's draft were transfers, including ex-Alabama and Ohio State wide receiver Jameson Williams, Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson Jr. (via Georgia) and Boston College guard Zion Johnson, who started his college career at Davidson.

Zion Johnson became an immediate starter for the Los Angeles Chargers, Williams missed most of the Detroit Lions' season while recovering from a knee injury and Jermaine Johnson played in 14 games for the New York Jets.

This season's prospects include some who clearly took advantage of their new situations.

Linebacker Daiyan Henley went from second-team All-Midwest Conference as a Nevada junior to first-team All-Pac-12 and a Butkus Award finalist at Washington State.

Ivan Pace Jr. became Cincinnati’s first unanimous All-American after moving 40 miles down Highway 27 from Miami, Ohio. Both are projected as likely mid-round picks.

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker emerged as a Heisman Trophy candidate in his second season after transferring from Virginia Tech. Hooker’s season ended with a torn ACL, leaving him as a bystander at the Senior Bowl practices in between meetings with NFL teams.

He’s not sure he would have reached that point without the move.

“It’s a long shot,” Hooker said. Also a long shot, but not out of the question: him being a first-rounder, though most projections have him closer to the third.

How transfers handle the switch is more information for NFL teams to sort through. Jim Nagy, the Senior Bowl’s executive director and a former scout, said evaluating how players handled the transition from high school to college had been part of the process. Now, it’s frequently how did they adapt to changing college teams.

Plus, he said, sometimes the staffs at different schools have very different takes on a player.

“I think there’s more benefits sometimes from an NFL perspective, getting guys that have transferred and been through that, more positives than negatives,” Nagy said.

Like Groh, Atlanta Falcons special teams coordinator Marquice Williams pointed out that sometimes players can stick it out at one school but still go through several different position coaches.

“The more things that you’re exposed to, the more you’re able to grow,” Williams said. “And that’s if that person is willing to grow from those situations.”

Cornerback Keidron Smith moved from Mississippi to Kentucky for his fifth year after logging 29 career starts in 47 games for the Rebels.

“Just talking to the scouts, they really said I made a great decision,” Smith said. “Even my coaches at Kentucky said the decision to transfer was a momentum shift for me in this process.”

Kansas defensive end Lonnie Phelps transferred from Miami, Ohio, for his final season. He had a ready answer for NFL teams wanting to know about the move.

“All of them ask me why I transferred and I just tell them exactly the same thing: Kansas was just the icing on the cake and I’m an undersized defensive end and obviously they want to see me against bigger and better competition,” Phelps said.

Now, Phelps & Co. are hoping those decisions prove beneficial in the draft.

___

AP Sports Writer Mark Anderson in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

___

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