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Goodell will address NFL drunk driving problem

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Goodell will address NFL drunk driving problem

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Drinking and driving by NFL players is a problem Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to address.

He said Friday at the Super Bowl he met with Mothers Against Drunk Driving last week to work on the issue.

``The reality is we have to do a better job of educating people in the NFL that this is a priority: `This is for your safety, for the safety of the people in your car, and for innocent people that are out there.' There are services designed to help them make better decisions before they leave their homes,'' Goodell said during his pre-Super Bowl state of the league news conference. ``We have to make sure that they understand those services, and most importantly, take advantage of them.''

Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent faces an intoxication manslaughter charge for a Dec. 8 crash that killed his friend and practice-squad member Jerry Brown. Last month, another Cowboys player, lineman Jay Ratliff, was arrested after sideswiping a semitrailer truck. Ratliff was charged with driving while intoxicated.

Blood-alcohol tests released by police say both Brent and Ratliff were well above the legal limit.

49ers defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs, who went on injured reserve in December, was arrested Nov. 30 for suspicion of driving under the influence and possession of marijuana. Dobbs was involved in a single-car accident in which he hit a chain-link fence and a bush but didn't sustain any injuries.

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TAKING AFTER MOM: Jack Harbaugh's influence on his sons is well known. The football world learned Friday that Jackie Harbaugh played just as big a role when John and Jim were growing up.

Perhaps even bigger.

``She was with us every day. Dad worked a lot,'' John Harbaugh said Friday during a unique joint news conference with the opposing Super Bowl coach, his brother Jim. ``When he was around we would hang out with dad, but mom took us to practices and all that. Mom was with us all the time.''

The Harbaugh brothers are notoriously fierce competitors - just watch them on the sidelines Sunday - and Jim said that comes from their mother.

``There's nobody in our family that has more competitive fire than my mother. She competes like a maniac,'' Jim Harbaugh said.

But it was their mother's fierce loyalty that has left the biggest impact.

The Harbaughs moved often as Jack Harbaugh climbed the college coaching ranks, and Jackie Harbaugh made sure her children knew there was always one constant in their lives.

``No one would fight harder for us than our mom, no matter what the situation was, or teach us how to have each other's back and be there for one another,'' John Harbaugh said. ``Whether it was a little scrape in the neighborhood or something like that, she basically made it very clear that we were to have each other's back no matter what.''

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CONCUSSION LEGISLATION: As Super Bowl weekend arrived in New Orleans, lawmakers in the nation's capital hailed the NFL's decision to endorse legislation aimed at regulating youth sports equipment.

The federal Youth Sports Concussion Act aims to ensure youth sports equipment is manufactured according to safety standards derived from the latest scientific research.

``We can absolutely make it safer for athletes of all ages to enjoy the sports they love to play,'' said Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who is sponsoring the bill along with Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.). ``I'm glad the NFL is supporting our efforts to protect young athletes on the field.''

The bill also would increase penalties for equipment companies making false injury prevention claims.

``Manipulating the good intentions of parents trying to protect their young athletes is unacceptable and our bill will end that practice,'' Rockefeller said.

The bill would instruct the Consumer Product Safety Commission to review the National Academies of Science's findings on concussions in youth sports and then make recommendations to manufacturers.

It would also allow the Federal Trade Commission to impose fines for using false claims to sell protective sports gear.

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CHANGING SUPER BOWL GAME PLAN: Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice reiterated how he and his teammates were caught off guard when Oakland Raiders coach Bill Callahan changed the game plan less than two days before Oakland's 48-21 loss in the 2003 Super Bowl.

They planned on a running attack, then it switched to a heavy passing game.

Callahan vehemently denied the allegations last week by Tim Brown and Rice that the coach had ``sabotaged'' the Raiders because of his close friendship with Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden by altering the game plan less than two days before

``I have played under Bill Walsh, many, many years,'' Rice said. ``When you prepare for a game a certain way, you don't change anything on that given Friday. Maybe the word is not sabotaged, but you look at it and you can put whatever words you want to it, but you do not change the game plan on a Friday, two days before the Super Bowl.''

Rice provided a quick rundown of the runners they had: Tyrone Wheatley, Charlie Garner and fullback Zack Crockett.

``We were averaging over 300 something yards a game,'' Rice said. ``We had planned to run the football. All of a sudden, Friday, now you decide we're going to throw the ball 60 or more times. That, to me, leaves the players a little hesitant. Because now all of a sudden we don't know we're going to attack that football team. Maybe sabotaged is not the word, but this is something Tim and I, we talk about. We both agreed that it was just very unusual for that to happen. Under Bill Walsh, that wouldn't have happened.''

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Offensive, defensive and rookie of the year awards for Ravens' 2017 season

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USA Today Sports

Offensive, defensive and rookie of the year awards for Ravens' 2017 season

The Ravens' season had it's ups and down, but out of it came some bright spots.

The defense continued to prove dominate and the offense found its groove during the second half of the season, but who stood out the most?

Offensive MVP: RB Alex Collins

Collins was a late preseason pickup after being cut by the Seattle Seahawks and Ravens fans are grateful they let him go. After new acquisition Danny Woodhead injured his hamstring on the first drive in Week 1 and Terrance West injured his calf Week 5 in Oakland, Allen emerged as a saving grace. He finished the season with 973 yards, six touchdowns and 212 attempts averaging 4.6 yards-per-carry. His longest rushing attempt was 50-yards against the Steelers in Week 4, and then in Week 14, rushed 120-yards on their defense. 

RELATED: RAVENS' 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT ROUNDUP

Defensive MVP: OLB Terrell Suggs

This one was a toss up between Suggs and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, but considering the level at which Sizzle is playing at in his 15th season, his 2017 performance is MVP worthy.

The 35-year old finished the season with 49 combined tackles, 12 assist, 11 sacks and four forced fumbles. Suggs ranks 11th in the league in sacks and was voted to his seventh Pro Bowl, something that should be expected from the leader of a defense that finished the regular season ranked sixth in points allowed. During the Ravens' Week 12 matchup, Suggs proved he doesn't age when he strip sacked Texans QB Tom Savage with 4:44 remaining in the fourth, shifting the momentum back to the Ravens who were clinging on to a 23-16 win. He's suffered two Achilles tears and a torn bicep over the last 5.5 seasons but has remained Hall of Fame worthy. As of right now, T-Sizzle has no plans of retiring. 

RELATED: FIVE OFFSEASON QUESTIONS RAVENS MUST ANSWER

Rookie of the Year: CB Marlon Humphrey

The Ravens' 2017 first-round pick stepped up to the plate when starting CB Jimmy Smith's season was over after suffering a torn Achilles in Week 13. The rookie out of Alabama finished the season with 34 combined tackles, four assists and two interceptions. Pro Football Focus graded Humphrey the fifth-best cover corner in the league. QBs only had a 53.5 rating when they threw in his direction. PFF also gave Humphrey a 82.7 rookie rating. 

Humphrey will continue to prove his worth during the 2018 season if Jimmy Smith is still recovering come Week 1.

RELATED: IMPORTANT 2018 OFFSEASON DATES

Special Teams MVP: P Sam Koch

Koch is in his 12th season with the Ravens and he's continuing to prove how efficient that leg of his is. He had a season long of 67-yards and placed 40 of 84 punts inside the 20-yard line. Koch's accuracy earned him AFC special teams player of the week not once, but twice this season. The first came in Week 12 against the Houston Texans when he not only placed five punts inside the 20-yard line, but also faked a punt and threw a 22-yard pass to Chris Moore for a first down. The second honor came in Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns after placing four punts inside the 20-yard line, three of them inside the five. While neither Koch or kicker Justin Tucker were named to the Pro Bowl, Ravens fans never break a sweat when the game is in their hands, or should we say, legs.

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Important 2018 offseason dates for Baltimore Ravens

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USA Today Sports

Important 2018 offseason dates for Baltimore Ravens

Mark your calendars now because the Ravens are already gearing up for their 2018 season.

From the Pro-Bowl all the way to the start of the regular season, here are the key dates.

January 28th: Pro Bowl, Orlando, Fla. 

Safety Eric Weddle, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley will all be in attendance. In addition, Suggs and Weddle were named starters. The game will take place at Camping World Stadium. Kickoff is at 3:00 p.m. ET on ABC and ESPN.

February 3rd: Pro Football Hall of Fame 2018 Class announced

This will be a very important day for Ray Lewis and the Ravens organization as Lewis waits to here if he will be sealed into football history, one day prior to Super Bowl LII. 

February 5th: Waiver system takes effect

The waiver system allows players' contracts or a club's NFL rights to a player available to other clubs in the league. Upon doing this, the other 31 teams can place a claim to obtain him or waive their chance. During this 24- hour period, once a club waives a player it can not take the player back or change his status. Assignments are based upon draft order until the third week of the regular season. If a player does not get claimed, he becomes a free agent. 

February 20th:  First day to franchise or transition tag a player

February 27th- March 5th: NFL Scouting Combine, Indianapolis, IN

This seven day period will be crucial for General Manager Ozzie Newsome to get a good look at potential Ravens.

March 6th: Deadline to franchise or transition tag a player

March 12-14th: Teams are allowed to contact and negotiate with agents of players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents

March 14th: Start of new league year at 4:00 p.m. ET

At this time, all 2017 player contracts expire meaning teams can begin seeking and signing free agents. Ravens free agents include Mike Wallace, Benjamin Watson, Ryan Jensen, Terrance West, James Hurst, Michael Campanaro, Steven Johnson, Ryan Mallet, Brandon Boykin, Crockett Gillmore, Brent Urban and Luke Bowanko.

March 25-28th: Owners Meeting, Orlando, FL

April 16th: Voluntary OTA's can begin

April 20th: Deadline for restricted FA's to sign offer sheets

April 26th-28th: 2018 NFL Draft, Arlington, TX

The Ravens will be heading down to Arlington, Texas in hopes of picking up their next franchise player. Positions needed include wide receiver, tight end, quarterback and outside linebacker.

May 4-7th or 11-14th: Potential three-day rookie minicamp

May 31-June 2nd: Ravens Beach Bash, Ocean City, MD

July 16th: Deadline to get long-term deal done with designated franchise tag player 

Mid-Late July: Training camp begins

August 2nd: Hall of Fame Game, Canton, OH

August 4th: Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Canton, OH

Again, keep this date marked as it could be the day Ray Lewis is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

September 6th: Start of regular season