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Bengals Bites (1/28): Links and notes

Taking a look at the stories around the NFL on the internet.

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Roger Goodell says Pro Bowl 'was real football'
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is showing the Pro Bowl more love after previously threatening to cancel it if play didn't improve. Goodell said in an ESPN Radio interview Monday that participants played harder and made the game very competitive.

Mike Ditka and Terry Bradshaw star in a truly bizarre Pepsi ad
Deion Sanders, Terry Bradshaw, Shannon Sharpe and Mike Ditka combined for a halftime performance during the Grammys, and it was unforgettable. Maybe not in a good way, though.

Johnny Manziel may be the Browns’ QB savior
Mike Pettine is expected to change the culture within the Cleveland Browns organziation. Yet, the same problems which plagued the franchise for years haven't changed. The answer to all of Cleveland's problems could come in the form of Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel.

Mike Ditka on playing cold-weather Super Bowl: 'I mean, it's stupid'
Many members of the media landed in the New York City area on Sunday to begin preparations for Super Bowl week, and everybody was met by snow on the ground and an Arctic chill in the air. So maybe former Bears coach Mike Ditka has a point when he said the following. "The weather's going to be a problem," Ditka told the Detroit Free Press. "They made a big mistake. The game shouldn't be there. I mean, it's stupid."

Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks coach, says NFL should consider medicinal marijuana to treat injured players
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll agrees with the notion that the NFL should look into medicinal marijuana as a means of taking the best possible care of its players. While not explicitly coming out in favor of it, Carroll answered a question about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's recent comments on the topic by making it clear he thinks it's an avenue worth pursuing.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie may retire if Denver Broncos win Super Bowl 2014
The jury is still out on whether or not Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was serious when he said Monday that he may retire if Denver wins it all. It is far more clear that he was not joking about how miserable he was in Philadelphia — and how much better his NFL career is for landing with the Broncos.

Rich McKay, Mike Smith, Thomas Dimitroff sign extensions with Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons on Monday announced contract extensions for coach Mike Smith, president and CEO Rich McKay and general manager Thomas Dimitroff. McKay received a four-year extension through 2019, while Smith and Dimitroff received one-year extensions.

Minneapolis will bid to host Super Bowl LI
The Vikings and Minnesota governor Mark Dayton announced Monday that they will be putting together a bid to host Super Bowl LII. The Vikings recently broke ground on a stadium which they hope will be ready for the 2016 season, but the stadium’s completion date was recently put in jeopardy by a lawsuit that questioned the use of public funds to build the Vikings’ new home field.

Broncos LB Paris Lenon's long journey from the XFL to Super Bowl 48
How do you play 13 years of pro football in three leagues, bouncing among a dozen cities and two countries, with a family to feed, and maintain your sanity? You forget. A lot. You hold on to concepts, but not plays. You recall faces, but the names and places become difficult.

Super Bowl 2014 goes blimp-free
If you spend some time walking down Broadwa… err… Super Bowl Boulevard in Manhattan this week, you’re bound to see a lot. But there is something that’s synonymous with the big game that you’re certain to not see anywhere near New York City this week: Blimps! Executives at leading blimp companies such as Goodyear and MetLife say it’s far too challenging to fly a blimp in this type of cold, damp and potentially snowy weather, so you could say these bloated aircrafts have already been ruled inactive.

Behind the Scenes with an NFL General Manager at the Senior Bowl
There will be dinners at a fancy steak house, player interviews with the aid of a high-tech gadget and a hiring that could have a profound influence on the future of his front office. But the best part of Senior Bowl week to Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff is the opportunity to "sniff in the pits" on the practice fields.

How Seattle Seahawks built team that made Super Bowl 2014
When head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider were hired by the Seattle Seahawks in early 2010, both men understood that there was serious work to be done. They made over 300 transactions in their first year together, and Carroll’s "Always Compete" mantra has meant that any player on this roster is a few screw-ups away from demotion or outright release, and any other player is a few great moments away from a starting spot.

How Denver Broncos built team that made Super Bowl 2014
The Denver Broncos’ glory years of John Elway and Mike Shanahan (and before that, John Elway and Dan Reeves) drifted away quietly after Elway’s retirement. Denver made the playoffs just once in the four seasons after that occurred, with Brian Griese as the No. 1 quarterback, and then endured a stretch of five straight years at .500 or worse (2007-11).

Inside the Sochi Games: Your television guide to Olympics viewing
You will watch because you always watch. This is the only confident prediction regarding the Sochi Games. The Vancouver Olympics drew 190 million television viewers four years ago, confirming once again how our collective remote always points to televised games when national sporting pride is at stake. So you will watch these Olympics, but the draw for Sochi goes beyond potential athletic achievements. The steady drumbeat of distressing news out of Russia, from corruption to terrorism threats to gay rights issues, has made the run-up to these Games compelling in a joyless way.

Gary Kubiak finds ‘right fit’ with Ravens offensive coordinator job
"It’s our job to find the things that Joe is comfortable with and to make him as successful as we possibly can, and we’ll do that," Kubiak said. "I’m looking forward to sitting down with Joe and really picking his brain in a lot of ways and [seeing] how he’s been taught and what he’s done in the past, and taking the things that John and I have talked about that we want to do and meshing those things together.

NFL prospect focus: Hyde and Mason
Overall, Hyde has the talent to be a starter in the NFL, but he has some limitations. He would be best utilized in a rotation with a complementary back. His style is similar to Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy, but Hyde is not as violent a runner. He may go in the first round, but I see Hyde more as a solid second round selection.

Breaking down Johnny Football
I have watched nine tapes of Manziel from the last two seasons, three from 2012 and six from 2013. My conclusion is that Johnny Football is one hell of a player. Manziel lacks ideal quarterback size to play in the NFL, as he is listed at 6’1 – 210, but I’m not sure that is accurate. If I had to estimate, I’d say Manziel will measure 6004 -205 at February’s Combine. On tape, the dual-threat signal-caller looks as if he added 10-15 pounds between the 2012 and 2013 seasons. But that added weight cost him a bit of play speed. On 2012 tape I thought Manziel’s play speed was at worst 4.50. But in 2013 he looked closer to 4.60.

NFLPA debating whether to use $2M option on cap
The NFL Players Association is debating whether to use a $2 million per team option to help increase the salary cap to more than $128 million in 2014 and end a string of four consecutive years in which the cap has been below its high-water mark in 2009 under the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Family of Junior Seau objects to NFL's $765M concussion deal
The family of the late NFL star Junior Seau plans to object to the proposed $765 million settlement of player concussion claims because the fund would not pay wrongful death claims to survivors. Although the players' lawsuits accused the NFL of concealing known concussion risks, there would be no blame assessed as part of the settlement, and no punitive damages for pain and suffering.

Schwartz will rely heavily on the Bills’ defensive line
Jim Schwartz was introduced as the Bills new defensive coordinator Monday. Schwartz didn’t commit to a specific defensive system, but there will certainly be a philosophical shift within the Bills’ defense.

Demaryius Thomas' biggest fans will cheer from prison
Countless Denver Broncos fans will don Demaryius Thomas' orange No. 88 jersey on Super Bowl Sunday. In a women's prison in Tallahassee, Fla., Katina Smith will make her own. Just as she has on so many other NFL Sundays (and a few Mondays, too) over the last four years, Smith will use tape to put her son's number on the back of her khaki-colored shirt.

Cleveland Browns name Jim O'Neil defensive coordinator, announce seven other assistants
The Browns named Jim O’Neil their defensive coordinator, reuniting him with new head coach Mike Pettine, hired away from the Buffalo Bills on Thursday. The Browns also announced the addition of three others Bills’ assistants.

Special teams emerge as big part of '14 template
What better way to cut down on the offensive mistakes than relying more on the Bengals' battle-tested defense and special teams? Only one starter is unsigned off the NFL's No. 3 defense (right end Michael Johnson) and every specialist but one is wrapped up for a unit that finished six points out of the top 10 in a compilation of the league's ten major special teams category. "It just goes to show you,' said special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons on Monday as he continues to grade the cutups with assistant Brayden Coombs, "how one play can destroy everything. You have to be good all the time."

25% of football fans gained weight during the season
In a poll conducted by Harris Interactive, more than 1,200 Americans that identify as football fans were asked if they experienced weight gain during the season. One out of every four people said that they did gain weight, and 16 percent of people polled reported that they gained 20 pounds or more.

These 5 pro-marijuana billboards are set to surround the Super Bowl
The freeways surrounding MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. are about to be plastered with five billboards advocating the use of marijuana, and, in some cases, attacking football just miles from the game’s biggest stage.

Decade after playing for John Fox, Dan Morgan wants to beat him
Dan Morgan admits he felt nervous before Super Bowl XXXVIII, but he doesn't think that's why he spent the previous night vomiting. Morgan still blames a bad burger he ate the night before the game, at a resort then-Carolina Panthers coach John Fox took his team to about an hour outside of Houston, but he said the sickness actually might have helped him.

A Tale of Two Cities
You’re underrating the Denver Broncos’ offense. Yes, you. I don’t care who you are. You might be someone who considers orange to be a primary color, invited Steve Atwater to your wedding, and has been stuck with dogs named Cutler and Tebow for years now. You, die-hard Broncos fan, are probably underestimating just how good Denver’s offense really is. On Sunday, you will be watching the final game from what very well might be the best offense in NFL history.

Five most memorable moments in Super Bowl media day history
Before Super Bowl XXIII between the San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals, a Japanese reporter asked one of the game’s starting quarterbacks how he got the nickname Boomer. It was an okay question, except that it was posed to Joe Montana, not Boomer Esiason.

Super Bowl ticket demand down because 'teams are not sexy'
At this time a year ago, there was speculation the Super Bowl in New York could be the priciest ticket ever. But brokers said Monday the market for the Seattle Seahawks-Denver Broncos matchup is soft, and tickets are available for much closer to face value than anticipated. And don't blame it solely on the cold weather anticipated for the outdoor game.

Reviewing the Ravens wide receivers for the 2013 season
Jeff Zrebiec looks back at each of the Ravens' wide receivers. The offseason trade of Anquan Boldin and the training camp hip injury to tight end Dennis Pitta put even more pressure on a mostly unproven wide receiver group.

Browns' Haslam hit for a loss: Three executives at his family's business plead guilty to fraud-related charges
One of Jimmy Haslam's top sales executives with Pilot Flying J admitted Monday that he helped fleece trucking companies out of more than $7 million in a rebate scam that brought a federal investigation and national scrutiny to the Browns' owner.