NFL: Saints' Payton cleared to attend Hall of Fame ceremony

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton received permission to attend Saturday's Hall of Fame ceremony that involves two players with affiliations with the organization.
Payton, suspended for the 2012 season and prohibited from having contact with the Saints until February 2013, will attend the ceremony Saturday night to witness offensive tackle Willie Roaf be enshrined.
Payton also wanted to be in Canton with defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy entering the Hall of Fame.
Payton and his son, Connor, are to be seated at Roaf's table for the ceremony and are permitted to attend the reception and interact socially with current Saints players.
Kennedy worked for the Saints after spending his entire playing career with the Seahawks.
Roaf was a premier left tackle with the Saints from 1993-2001.
Commissioner Roger Goodell is already in Canton but said he had no plans to meet with the Saints. However, he said he's open to a meeting if the team requests one.
After the ceremony, Payton is not allowed to visit the Saints or have contact with the team, which plays Sunday night in the Hall of Fame game against the Cardinals.

--The Cowboys worked out three veteran free agent offensive linemen on Thursday and given the pace at which the Dallas depth chart has been thinned by injuries, Montrae Holland, Derrick Dockery and Daniel Loper might be sticking around Oxnard, Calif., this weekend.
Right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau (hip) and backup center Kevin Kowalski (ankle) are the one physically unable to perform list. Left guard Nate Livings (hamstring) sat out Friday and backup center Bill Nagy (ankle) joined the group because he sprained his right ankle; Nagy fractured the same ankle in October 2011 against the Patriots.
Dockery and Holland were with the Cowboys in 2011. Holland started 10 games for the Cowboys last season but finished the season on injured reserve. Dockery suffered a fractured tibia and sprained MCL and started only two of nine games with the Cowboys last season. He has 113 career starts in nine seasons.

--If new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is planning to implode the franchise's front office, it sounded Friday as if the process would be methodical and might not include removing president Mike Holmgren from a prominent perch.
"I sense there is a strong feeling here that Mike and the team have things headed in the right direction," Haslam said. "I think we have to listen, learn and observe."
Former Philadelphia Eagles president Joe Banner is expected to be placed atop the totem pole of power in football operations, which casts doubt on how long Holmgren would stick around and if the two could potentially work side-by-side. Considering Banner reportedly departed the Eagles' franchise in part because of muddled delineation of decision-making power with coach Andy Reid and others, the co-pilot structure seems implausible. At best, it would be unorthodox.
Haslam said Holmgren was a future Hall of Famer who has done a commendable job building the organization through the draft. The two dined Thursday and watched parts of Friday morning's training camp practice together.
Banner, who was in Philadelphia at the same time as Browns coach Pat Shurmur, offensive coordinator Brad Childress and general manager Tom Heckert, won't likely be introduced until October, when NFL owners are expected to hold their approval vote affirming Haslam as the team's official owner. He's very familiar with NFL business and no glitches are expecting in clearing him.
The focus for the next two months will including finding a home -- Haslam's wife, Dee, was shopping for real estate Friday -- where the family will spend part of their year while maintaining their primary residence near Knoxville, Tenn., headquarters of Haslam's Flying J Travel Centers.
Patriots owner and NFL ambassador Robert Kraft was the first owner to call Haslam with well-wishes and offered to host him in Boston to show him the ropes. And the eager Haslam plans to take Kraft up on the offer as soon as next week. Haslam has already begun divesting his minority ownership stake in the Steelers.
The Browns will soon consider naming rights for Cleveland Browns Stadium and begin discussing the best structure for the team's new administration.
"There's no reason this can't be a winning franchise," Haslam said. "Everything is here."

--Ravens offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie returned to town Sunday afternoon, arriving at Baltimore-Washington International Airport with his luggage and a sore lower back.
The former Pro Bowl blocker said after his flight that his four-day absence from training camp was due to a lower back injury suffered during an accident at his home in South Florida last week. McKinnie said he fell on and twisted his lower back. He finally practiced Friday in the Ravens' fully padded practice.
"Of course, I'm glad to be back," said McKinnie, who appeared to be lighter than he was in June at a mandatory minicamp when he weighed roughly 354 pounds. "I'm kind of disappointed, though. "I've been training hard, I've been boxing and doing all this stuff. To have a setback like this is disappointing. Why isn't anybody saying I got hurt?
"I don't know what people thought was going on. How I got hurt is running out of the house. It was slippery and I fell and hurt my lower back. You can't be playing football when your back is hurting. When I fell, I said, 'I know I ain't going out like this.'"
McKinnie was placed on the reserve/did not report list last week, and has been incurring daily $30,000 fines under the NFL collective bargaining agreement.
Although McKinnie said his back was a bit stiff after his flight, he appeared to be walking without difficulty and was carrying his own bags.
McKinnie emphasized that he thinks he could begin practicing this week.
Following his fall, McKinnie said he had his chiropractor immediately contact the Ravens training staff.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said last week that he hadn't spoken to McKinnie, but mentioned the chiropractor reaching out to the team on McKinnie's behalf.
McKinnie was held out of a mandatory minicamp in June due to conditioning issues and assigned a target weight of 345 pounds for training camp.
When asked how much he weighs currently, McKinnie replied: "I'm about to find out right now. I'm probably under 350, but I've been out for about four days. So, that makes a difference."
Cut by the Minnesota Vikings last year after beefing up to 387 pounds during the NFL lockout, McKinnie signed a two-year contract with the Ravens last August.
He's due a $3.2 million base salary this year and was paid a $500,000 roster bonus in March after pledging to general manager Ozzie Newsome that he would get into shape.
McKinnie said he's hoping to put the scrutiny surrounding him back on football instead of about his weight issues.
McKinnie has also made headlines for financial matters, including a $4.5 million lawsuit stemming from a loan taken out during the NFL work stoppage last year.
"Yeah, I don't want everybody talking about me," McKinnie said. "I had an accident. I'm over it. I'm here to play football. I'm ready to have a good season. I'm in some of my best shape ever, so let's get to work."

--Roger Goodell will cross paths with the New Orleans Saints in Canton this weekend, where the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies take place Saturday before the Saints-Cardinals preseason opener Sunday.
At present, Goodell said there was no plan on his itinerary to meet with the Saints but he's more than willing to change his schedule if the Saints request a sitdown.
"Our schedule is pretty full here right now and I'm not sure when the team's coming in," Goodell said on NFL Network from the Hall of Fame Friday morning. "But I certainly would welcome any opportunity to engage with them. That's certainly something I would encourage and that's something we would always do."
Goodell said he followed the facts in the bounty investigation, sorting through 18,000 documents that showed a pay-for-performance program. He said recent documents released in Louisiana court, where linebacker Jonathan Vilma is attempting to have his one-year suspension overturned with a ruling expected Aug. 10, backed up his decision to suspend four players, head coach Sean Payton, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and general manager Mickey Loomis.
"As I understand it, even in court last week, there was an acknowledgement that there's a pay-for-performance system in place over the last couple of years and that it paid for players to be carted off the field. That's a bounty program," Goodell said.
On Monday, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, also a member of the NFLPA executive board, said players generally don't trust Goodell. The commissioner said he respectfully appreciates Brees' opinion but believes he acted appropriately in the case after players of interest were silent when offered the chance to defend themselves.
"We believe that the facts are clear that this issue was ongoing in the bounty case with the Saints and that we responded appropriately," Goodell added. "Because that's protecting all our players...We will protect not only the players, but the game. And that's our No. 1 objective and we'll continue to do that."

--The Packers signed punter Tim Masthay to a four-year, $5.5 million contract extension that could keep in Green Bay until the end of the 2016 season.
Masthay received a $1.2 million signing bonus. He's entering the final year of his rookie deal -- which remains unchanged at $540,000 in base salary -- and could have become a restricted free agent in March 2013.
The deal was signed on the first day of training camp but was not announced by the Packers.
Masthay, 25, was 15th in the NFL in gross average at 45.6 yards per attempt.

--Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon is the only rookie who has yet to sign a contract, but the two sides continue discussions.
The hang-up is the franchise seeking bonus and salary protection if their first-round pick Blackmon runs afoul of the law. He has had two DUI-related arrests in three years and reached a plea deal in his latest arrest, which could lead to NFL punishment under the league off-field conduct policy.
Blackmon's physical talents are unquestioned. He showed enough during the team's offseason workouts to know he can play at this level. However, he had some problems with his route-running, an area that plagued him in college as well. That's the biggest concern the coaching staff has in his not being in training camp.
"Anybody not here has missed ... meetings of installation and detailing everything we've put in to this point," coach Mike Mularkey said. "Every meeting that's missed is a lost opportunity to be in the classroom in a teaching environment."
Also absent from Jaguars' training camp is Maurice Jones-Drew. The running back and reigning NFL rushing leader is unhappy with the terms of his contract. The Jaguars -- owner Shad Khan, general manager Gene Smith and Mularkey -- maintain that they will not negotiate a new deal with Jones-Drew. That, of course, is subject to change. Talks could be accelerated if Jones-Drew shows up for camp.

--Replacement officials will work Sunday night's Hall of Fame game between the Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints, ESPN.com reported Friday.
The NFL and its officials have not made progress in recent contract negotiations. The league locked out members of the NFL Referees Association on June 3 after talks between the union and the NFL broke down.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said earlier in the week that he was comfortable with using replacement officials in preseason games.
The NFL has not announced who the officials will be. ESPN speculated that the league does not want to announce who the officials are in advance because it does not want the media looking into the credentials of the replacement officials.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said it is the league's policy to make the names of the officials available at the game.

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