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Goodell: Bounty players should be punished

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Goodell: Bounty players should be punished

IRVING, Texas (AP) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he ``fundamentally disagrees'' with former league boss Paul Tagliabue's decision not to discipline players in the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal.

Speaking Wednesday after an owners meeting in the Dallas area, Goodell said he respected his predecessor's decision, and believed it backed up the commissioner's conclusion that the Saints ran a bounty program for three years and covered it up.

But Goodell took issue with Tagliabue vacating the yearlong suspension of linebacker Jonathan Vilma and shorter bans for three other current and former Saints players. In an NFL appeal ruling issued Tuesday, the former commissioner placed much of the blame with the Saints' coaches and front office.

``I fundamentally disagree that this is something that lies just with coaches and management,'' Goodell said. ``I do think their leadership position needs to be considered, but I also believe these players were in leadership positions, also.''

Like Vilma, Saints coach Sean Payton received a yearlong suspension. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely, and assistant Joe Vitt, who is now the interim head coach, was banned for six games. General manager Mickey Loomis got an eight-game suspension.

``My personal view is I hold everyone responsible,'' Goodell said. ``Player health and safety is an important issue in this league. We're all going to have to contribute to that, whether you're a commissioner, whether you're a coach, whether you're a player, and we all have to be held accountable for it.''

The 22-page ruling allowed both sides to claim victory more than nine months after the league first revealed the Saints' bounty scandal to shocked fans, describing a performance pool operated by Williams that, among other things, rewarded hits that injured opponents.

``Frankly, I think everybody's a winner to get this issue behind us,'' Jacksonville owner Shahid Kahn said.

On Wednesday, Vilma asked a federal judge to allow him to move forward with a defamation lawsuit against Goodell in U.S. District Court in Louisiana. Vilma's lawyers filed a motion to drop his case against the NFL's disciplinary process now that his suspension has been lifted.

Tagliabue didn't find the players completely without fault, though. He said Vilma and defensive end Will Smith participated in a performance pool that rewarded key plays - including hard tackles - while defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, following coaches' orders, helped to cover up the program when interviewed by NFL investigators in 2010.

Vilma and Smith, suspended four games, have been playing for the Saints while the appeals were pending. Hargrove is not with a team. Tagliabue cleared linebacker Scott Fujita, now with the Cleveland Browns but on injured reserve, of conduct detrimental to the league.

``It was a very thoughtful decision, but again my one disappointment is at some point players have to be held accountable, particularly when you find that they did participate in this scheme,'' New York Giants co-owner John Mara said.

Tagliabue criticized Saints coaches and the organization by saying they fostered bad behavior and tried to impede the investigation into what the NFL said was a performance pool designed to knock targeted opponents out of games from 2009 to 2011, with thousands of dollars in payouts.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees blasted Goodell and the league office Wednesday.

``What I would like to see is a level of accountability on the part of the NFL and Commissioner Goodell in regards to mishandling of this entire situation,'' Brees said. ``We as players hold ourselves and are held to a very strict code of conduct both on and off the field. We have to be accountable to that, as it should be, and I feel like they should be held to the same standards.

``If someone would just come out in the league office and admit, `You know what? We could have handled this situation better,' it would go such a long way with both players and fans. People would really come around to realize what this thing was all about because right now the league office and Commissioner Goodell have very little to no credibility with us as players.''

Goodell rejected Brees' plea to acknowledge that he mishandled the investigation.

``Commissioner Tagliabue said there's no one here that should feel good about their role in this with respect to the Saints,'' Goodell said. ``I think to have a bounty program where you're targeting players for injury is completely unacceptable in the NFL, and it's clear that occurred for three years despite all the denials.''

NFL legal counsel Jeff Pash said Tagliabue's ruling answered the criticism that he would favor the league because he used to run it.

``I think he did exactly what he was charged to do, which was to be independent and to have full authority,'' Pash said.

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Redskins rank surprisingly low on oddsmakers list of landing spots for Kyler Murray

Redskins rank surprisingly low on oddsmakers list of landing spots for Kyler Murray

The Redskins need a quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft, but plenty of other teams do too. At least that's the way oddsmakers at BetOnline.ag believe.

The sports book released future landing spots for Oklahoma's Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray, who declared for the NFL Draft on Monday, and the Redskins don't crack the Top 5. 

Per BetOnline, the most likely spot for Murray to land is with the Raiders. Oakland holds the fourth overall selection, and the three teams ahead of them all have quarterbacks in place (Arizona/Rosen, San Francisco/Garoppolo, New York Jets/Darnold).

While Murray isn't likely the top QB on the draft board, that would be Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins, it might make sense to give the Raiders the best chance of landing the Heisman winner since hypothetically Oakland will be the first team stepping to the podium looking for a passer. The Raiders still have Derek Carr under contract, but Oakland boss Jon Gruden hasn't seemed too enamored with his signal caller. 

After Oakland, three more teams pop up before the Redskins. Below is the full list. 

BetOnline: Who Will Draft Kyler Murray 2019 Draft?

Oakland Raiders        3/1       
Jacksonville Jaguars   7/2       
New York Giants        4/1       
Arizona Cardinals      5/1       
Denver Broncos         8/1       
Miami Dolphins         8/1       
Washington Redskins    8/1       
Tampa Bay Buccaneers  12/1

There is a lot to digest from this list, especially given that the Cardinals have higher odds of taking Murray than other QB needy teams. Arizona just spent a first-round pick on Josh Rosen last season. He wasn't particularly impressive as a rookie, but will the Cards give up on him that quick? Keep in mind there has been a coaching change in the desert and new head man Kliff Kingsbury has talked gushingly about Murray's talent. 

The Jags and the Giants make sense. New York holds the 6th overall selection and Jacksonville the 7th, and both need QBs. Even if the Giants want to keep Eli Manning another season, they'd be crazy not to snap up Haskins if he gets to six. And if Haskins goes at six, maybe the Jaguars take Murray at seven. Clearly the oddsmakers see that as a more likely scenario than the Giants picking Murray.

Finally, the Redskins. 

Tied with two other QB needy teams at 8-1, the Redskins odds actually seem appropriate: Hardly a sure thing, but it could happen.

Washington has Alex Smith and Colt McCoy under contract for 2019, but Smith seems unlikely to play next season after suffering a severe leg injury in 2018. McCoy should be healthy, but he's had plenty of injury issues in the past and will be in the last year of his contract. The Redskins need a QB, both for 2019 and for the future. The real question is if the organization wants to commit a first round pick on any passer, let alone somebody that lacks prototypical size like the 5-foot-10 Murray. 

The Broncos and the Dolphins both pick before Washington, and keep in mind the NFL Draft is always full of unexpected trades, especially when first-round QBs are in sight. Miami has no starting QB under contract for 2019, and the Broncos have Case Keenum for another season but hardly seem married to the journeyman. 

Tampa Bay making the list as the long shot adds up. The Bucs just hired Bruce Arians to come in and make things work with former No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston. Drafting another QB in the first round seems unlikely for Arians, but after four years of Winston, not completely out of the question either. 

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Blue Jackets troll Capitals on Twitter after pulling even atop Metro Division

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Twitter.com/@BlueJacketsNHL

Blue Jackets troll Capitals on Twitter after pulling even atop Metro Division

The Columbus Blue Jackets threw some serious shade at the Caps Tuesday night after their 7-2 blowout loss to the Predators.

The Jackets are now tied for the Metro lead after the Caps lost their third straight game, and they let them have it on Twitter.

That's a bold jab coming from the team that lost to the Caps in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs...

The GIF comes from Saturday night's overtime loss to the Jackets where Columbus celebrated Artemi Panarin's game-winner with Evgeny Kuznetsov's signature bird celly.

When asked about the copycat celebration last Saturday, Kuzy said, "That's fine. It's nice to get some people that think about me, same as in April last year.”

The Capitals meet the Blue Jackets again Feb. 12 where the only bird celly should come from Kuzy.

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