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Tuesday December 6 2022
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Doc's NFL Notebook

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It's never too early to think about next year, especially when you're a losing team looking to turn the corner with a new head coach. Forget the fired guys, who are the hired guys?

The Jaguars bring in former Steelers offensive coordinator and Bills head man Mike Mularkey. Romeo Crennel turned an interim stint in Kansas City to a full-time job. Miami has hired Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin. Jeff Fisher takes over the Rams following a two-year hiatus. Greg Schiano leaves Rutgers for Tampa Bay, after Oregon's Chip Kelly gave the Bucs the runaround. Dennis Allen becomes the 10th Raiders head coach in the last 17 seasons. And Chuck Pagano leaves Baltimore for Indianapolis, just like the Colts franchise did three decades ago.

Overtiming Is Everything
It took only 11 seconds for the Denver Broncos to beat the Steelers in overtime of the Wild Card Round. Tim Tebow hit Demaryius Thomas, who sprinted 80 yards to end the game. The Steelers hung their heads in defeat, while the Broncos players knew they would be heading to the next round. Every player, that is, but Thomas himself. See, Thomas was confused by the league's new overtime rules, in which a game doesn't always end on the first score. "I saw Champ [Bailey] run up to me in the tunnel, and I was like, what's going on?" Thomas told the Denver Post. As it turned out, Thomas didn't have to worry one iota about OT in his team's 45-10 loss at New England the next week.

Manning His Post
photo by Craig ONealEver since the Indianapolis Colts got off to a winless start and onto a collision course with the Golden Ticket for Andrew Luck, the future of Peyton Manning has been discussed at length. That discussion heated up in January, in some unlikely ways. First Rob Lowe (yes, *that* Rob Lowe) tweeted on Jan. 18, "Hearing my fave, #18 Peyton Manning will not return to the NFL." That didn't quite come to pass. A week later, Manning told reporters that changes to the front office had everyone "walking around on eggshells." Owner Jim Irsay didn't take the comments well, calling Manning "a politician," despite some other kind words. Irsay doesn't have forever to decide on Manning's future, a March 8 deadline for the QB to be awarded a $28 million bonus looms large.

RG3 at #2?
Speaking of Andrew Luck, everybody and his brother projects that the Colts will take him with the top pick, regardless of Manning's future. But there is plenty of discussion about the number two selection, owned by the St. Louis Rams. Some analysts are calling Baylor's Robert Griffin III a franchise quarterback after his Heisman-winning 2011 season. But St. Louis is just two years removed from drafting their own franchise QB at number one, Sam Bradford. Thus, the trade talks have already swirled over the possibility of a team moving up for RG3. The Browns, Redskins and Dolphins are among the teams with top-ten picks that could use a playmaker at quarterback. Draft season is close at hand, let the posturing and rumor-mongering begin!

A Blackout On Blackouts
Steelers fans haven't had to worry about NFL television blackout rules for 40 years, but fan bases that don't sell out every game (like Pittsburgh does) constantly deal with the threat of their team not getting on TV. But that could change soon enough. On Jan. 12, the Federal Communications Commission said it may eliminate a rule that prohibits cable and satellite operators from showing games that are blacked out by broadcast stations. In the last decade, only eight percent of NFL games have been shut out of local TV stations due to blackouts, but some petitioning interest groups call the league's policy "antifan, anticonsumer behavior." Petitions from both sides of the argument will run through February, at which point the FCC could rescind the blackout rule.

Oh Goodie
Let's be honest, none of us don't really care about the NFL Playoffs. Field goal attempts to keep championship hopes alive? Lame. Those overtime games for a spot in Staff Sgt. Bradley Lail, USAFthe Super Bowl? Ho-hum. What we really care about is the future of commissioner Roger Goodell. After all, he is a man adored by one and all. His decisions on suspensions for controversial hits show the utmost tact and diplomacy, and I'm sure Steelers fans will agree. And who wouldn't love a guy who put the NFL season on the line for the benefit of a few dozen billionaires? Well, don't you worry about your beloved Goodell, he has had his contract extended through the 2018 season! Now try to relax and enjoy the boring ol' Super Bowl.

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