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Israel fumbles goodwill visit of NFL players

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It was supposed to be a feel-good visit by a group of professional football players to give a boost to image-conscious Israel. But in an embarrassing fumble by the Israeli government, only five of 11 NFL players in the delegation showed up after being blitzed by Palestinian activists opposed to the visit. Israel’s ministry for strategic affairs and public diplomacy issued a press release after the Super Bowl boasting that the visit would bring “influencers” who would serve as “goodwill…

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Patriots motivated by hope of humiliating Commissioner Roger Goodell

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Several storylines surround Sunday’s Super Bowl LI between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. The Patriots are going for their fifth Lombardi Trophy while an Atlanta victory will give them their first. After the commercials, the halftime and, of course, the game, even more intrigue possibly awaits viewers still sober enough to care. Just the mere ritual of handing off the trophy could be yet another contest. If the Falcons prevail, Commissioner Roger Goodell and owner Arthur Blank…

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An inside look at the other draft, as free agents find spots

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Gary Shipman was at his desk at noon Saturday, thumbing through depth charts and occasionally looking across the room at the wall-mounted TV trumpeting the start of the NFL draft’s final day. Shipman, who represents four college football players eligible to play in the NFL this season, didn’t expect to hear any of their names called, even when teams are willing to take chances in the sixth or seventh round. Shipman and his staff were busily studying NFL rosters, trying…

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Big problems emerge for 3 teams

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Call it a Thanksgiving Thud. What happened to the Eagles, Cowboys and, most shockingly, to the Packers on Thursday signals some major problems with all three teams. What’s happened to these three, all of which had winning records in 2014 and seemed headed for big things this season, is emblematic of the mercurial nature of the NFL. Other than the Panthers and Patriots at the top, the Browns, Chargers and Titans at the bottom, consistency has been elusive. At least…

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Writing off some teams early in schedule a mistake

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Anyone who wrote off the Texans, Chiefs, Redskins and Bears when they slid to the bottom of the early NFL standings better have used pencil. While those four teams don’t have championship-level talent, they’ve revived their fortunes and are making some noise. Yes, all are 4-5 and have the kind of holes that make them virtual non-contenders for the Lombardi Trophy. But they’re revitalized and figure to be dangerous opponents down the stretch, with the Texans and Redskins still in…

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QB Mark Sanchez to start for Eagles against Tampa Bay

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Mark Sanchez will start at quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in place of injured Sam Bradford. Bradford was ruled out Friday with a concussion and a left shoulder injury. Eagles coach Chip Kelly says he has confidence in Sanchez, an eight-year veteran. Also out for the Eagles is running back Ryan Mathews (concussion). Left tackle Jason Peters did not practice on Friday and is questionable for the game with a back…

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Rashad Jones’ interception helps preserve 20-19 victory for Dolphins

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Rashad Jones made a game-saving interception in the end zone with 4:32 remaining to preserve a 20-19 victory by the Miami Dolphins over the Philadelphia Eagles. Jones picked off Eagles’ QB Mark Sanchez’s throw intended for Miles Austin, ending the Eagles final scoring threat and disappointing their screaming (and booing) fans. Scoring came in bunches as the game was a punt-fest for both teams. Miami punted 8 times while Philadelphia kicked it away 6 times. Neither team rushed for 100…

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