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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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Ravens tight end suspended a year or more for violating substance abuse policy

Ravens tight end suspended a year or more for violating substance abuse policy

The NFL announced today that tight end Darren Waller of the Baltimore Ravens would be suspended for a year or longer for his second violation of the substance abuse policy.

Waller was a 2015 sixth-round pick out of Georgia Tech who served a four-game suspension to start the 2016 season for a substance abuse violation. After returning from his suspension last year, he posted 10 catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns in a limited role.

After his 2016 violation, he was quoted as saying [via Ravens.com]:

“There were other personal issues, and [marijuana] was the one thing I always turned to,” Waller said. “It was just about finding more positive outlets for me to do, like talking to people about it and things like that. I’m definitely at a better place with that now.”

Unfortunately for the Ravens, he will miss the 2017 season and potentially longer after the latest violation. It leaves the Ravens down two tight ends from last year after Dennis Pitta was released earlier this month after re-injuring his hip.

MORE RAVENS: Zach Orr considering coming out of retirement

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Former Raven Zach Orr considering NFL comeback after postive health prognosis

Former Raven Zach Orr considering NFL comeback after postive health prognosis

In January of 2017, former Ravens linebacker Zach Orr took the podium at the team's training facility alongside head coach John Harbaugh, GM Ozzie Newsome and defensive coordinator Dean Pees, to announce he would be retiring from football at the age of 24.

Why? Orr suffered a shoulder injury during their week 16 game against longtime rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, which shed light into a condition he's had since birth.

He had a routine MRI, but the Ravens training staff suggested a full body CAT scan as well. The CAT scan reveled Orr had a congenital back/spine condition where one of the upper vertebra isn't totally formed causing there to be an opening. Less than 1 percent of people are born with such a condition and he wasn't aware of it until he suffered this injury.

Doctors told Orr he was at risk of paralysis or even death if he played with such a condition. He also would have never been able to pass an NFL physical, ultimately forcing him to retire.

During his press conference, Orr said this,

"If there's some miracle way where I can play the game, I promise I'd be the first one to grab my cleats again, start back training and try to find a way to get back out there," Orr said.

Well, fast forward to today and it seems that miracle may have happened.

NFL Network reporter Mike Garafolo told Good Morning Football that after getting a second opinion from doctors, and receiving positive news, Orr is considering a return to the NFL.

"I had my mind made up. I was like man, the doctors told me I was done. This is a serious issue. So I'm going to leave it alone. But I just kept hearing that from multiple people and some were telling me to just go check out and seek out some more opinions and things like that and come to find out my condition, it is rare – .01 percent of the people have what I have – but there's no actual evidence or facts that I'm at a higher risk than any other player. And it's actually been documented that a college player who had the exact same thing that I have that returned to play with no problems."

The doctors' real concerns would be if someone with Orr's spinal condition played with a herniated disk. He did suffer from herniated disks last season, but that injury has since diminished. 

MORE RAVENS: 2017 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

If Orr does decide to get back into the NFL, getting signed could be pretty easy. 

When he announced his retirement, he never filed for retirement papers and the Ravens never placed him on their reserve/retired list because they never thought he would play again.

Because of this, Orr is considered an unrestricted free agent and can sign with a team right away. 

Orr had his best season in 2016, where he lead the Ravens in tackles with 133. It's been reported that eight teams have reached out to the linebacker since his announcement and that he will be meeting with the Lions on Thursday.