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Doc's NFL Notebook

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Indianapolis released former Defensive Player of the Year Bob Sanders last month, following a season in which the team paid $5 million for one game of the oft-injured safety.

The Erie, Pa. native played in only nine games the past three seasons after winning the Defensive POY award in 2007, suffering injuries to his knees, biceps, an elbow, and a shoulder. Despite being named an All-Pro in 2005 and 2007, Sanders has played in six games or less in each of his five other seasons. The 30-year-old has already garnered interest from the Bills and Jaguars.

By George!
As the March 3 expiration of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement approached, the league and players’ union announced on February 17 they had agreed on at least one thing. The two sides held their negotiations in Washington, with George Cohen, director of the Federal Mediator and Conciliation Service, at the table. Cohen has worked as an advisor or counsel for players’ associations in the NHL, MLB, and NBA before President Obama appointed him to the government mediation agency. Several days of negotiations in Mr. Cohen’s office followed, allowing progress in bargaining talks with just weeks to spare before the March deadline.

Super Bowl Tickets
Commissioner Roger Goodell wasn’t involved in negotiations with just the players’ union in February. Hundreds of Super Bowl ticket holders who were displaced by unfinished seats at Cowboys Stadium were offered compensation options by the NFL for the league’s failure to accommodate them. Fans have the choice of a $2,400 ticket refund along with a free, transferable ticket to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis, or a non-transferable package to a future Super Bowl of the fan’s choice that includes a ticket, airfare, and hotel accommodation. Still, the two choices don’t seem to be enough for attorney Michael Avenatti, who has filed a class-action suit against the NFL and the Cowboys on behalf of displaced fans.

Plax Set to Return
He won’t be released from prison until June 6, but the gears are already turning for Plaxico Burress to make his return to football. Burress’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and former teammate Osi Umenyiora both mentioned that Burress was in great shape upon their visits. The 33-year-old receiver has not played since accidentally shooting himself in the leg in November of 2008, but Rosenhaus wrote on Twitter that his client “can’t wait to get back on the football field in 2011.” Though the Giants could bring back Burress next season, the New York Daily News reported that he would prefer to play with the Dolphins, closer to his offseason home in Miami and away from the New York media.

Coach Deshea
After spending twelve seasons with the Steelers, Deshea Townsend is set to join a coaching staff that is quickly becoming the Steelers West. The Arizona Cardinals hired the recently retired corner as their new assistant defensive backs coach, one day after naming former Steelers DB coach Ray Horton to the defensive coordinator position. Horton coached Townsend for six seasons in Pittsburgh. The 35-year-old Townsend played eight games for the Colts last season prior to his retirement. The Cards currently have six coaches with Pittsburgh connections, including head coach Ken Whisenhunt and assistant head coach Russ Grimm.

Tamper Tantrum
Things are tough if you’re a Detroit Lions fan. Not only have your Lions not made the playoffs since Bill Clinton was in office, but your one of your coaches lost the team a draft pick for seemingly one comment. The NFL took away Detroit’s seventh-round pick and forced them to switch fifth-round picks with the Chiefs after violating the league’s anti-tampering policy. The tampering charges appear to have arisen from comments by defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham telling the Detroit Free Press last February, “(Kansas City) keeps wanting to dump their players. I would like to be there to catch a lot of them because I know a couple of those guys.” The Lions were also charged with impermissible contact with then-Chiefs safety Jarrad Page under the anti-tampering policy.

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