Hall of Fame class led by Bettis, Haley, Tim Brown, Seau

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015 is a distinguished one.

It includes running back Jerome Bettis, wide receiver im Brown, pass rusher Charles Haley, former NFL general manager Bill Polian, the late linebacker Junior Seau, offensive guard Will Shields, center Mick Tingelhoff and fomer general manager Ron Wolf.

Bettis retired after 13 seasons ranked fifth all-time in rushing with 13,662 yards. A six-time Pro Bowl selection, Bettis rushed for 100 yards or more 61 times in his career with the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Brown starred for 16 seasons with the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders and one final season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He registered 1,094 career receptions for 14,934 yards and 100 TDs. He also added 4,555 yards and 4 TDs on punt and kickoff returns.

Haley, the only player ever to win five Super Bowls, racked up 100.5 sacks during his 12-year career with the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers. Six times he posted double-digit sack totals in a season.

Polian earned the reputation as a general manager who built dominant teams. Under his leadership, he led the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts to a combined five Super Bowls. He was NFL’s Executive of the Year by The Sporting News six times.

Seau starred for 20 NFL seasons during which time he established himself as one the finest linebackers in league history. Named first-team All-Pro eight times, he was selected to 12 Pro Bowls and named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1992.

Shields never missed a game during his 14-season, 224-game career with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s, selected first-team All-Pro three times, and played in 12 straight Pro Bowls.

Tingelhoff was signed as a free agent by the Minnesota Vikings. He earned a starting role at center as a rookie and never missed a game for his entire 17-season career. A seven-time All-League selection, he was named to six straight Pro Bowls.

Wolf spent 23 years with the Raiders during which time the team posted winning records in all but six of those seasons. He later transformed the Green Bay Packers into Super Bowl champions.

Follow me on Twitter: @RavensInsider

Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

J.J. Watt, DeMarco Murray, Aaron Rodgers headline NFL award winners

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt was a unanimous choice for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Watt had 20 1/2 sacks.

Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year. He led the NFL with 1,845 rushing yards.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was named NFL Most Valuable Player.

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was named NFL Offensive Rookie Of The Year award for 2014. Beckham also won NFL Play of the Year.

St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, beating out Baltimore Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley.

Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians won NFL Coach Of The Year award for the second time in three years.

Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald won the inaugural Art Rooney sportsmanship award.

Todd Bowles won the first Associated Press NFL Assistant Coach Of The Year award.

Chicago Bears defensive end Jared Allen won the Salute to Service Award.

Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis was named Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.

Follow me on Twitter: @RavensInsider

Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

Judge says Hernandez jury can watch Super Bowl

The jurors in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial can watch the Super Bowl.

However, a judge ordered they must leave the room if the former New England Patriots tight end's name is mentioned.

Hernandez is accused of murdering Odin Lloyd.

Hernandez isn't allowed to watch the game, though.

He's not allowed to watch television and is isolated from other prisoners.

Follow me on Twitter: @RavensInsider

Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

Browns hire Kevin O'Connell as quarterbacks coach

The Cleveland Browns have hired Kevin O'Connell as quarterbacks coach, a league source confirmed.

O'Connell worked with Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel prior to the draft last year.

O'Connell, 29, is a former New England Patriots third-round draft pick. He's played for the Detroit Lions, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers.

O’Connell replaces Dowell Loggains, who was fired.

The Browns are hiring former Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper as a senior offensive assistant.

Follow me on Twitter: @RavensInsider

Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

Kam Chancellor good to go despite knee injury

Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor practiced Saturday after banging up his knee Friday and appears set to go for the Super Bowl on Sunday night against the New England Patriots.

Chancellor is listed as probable.

“He looked pretty good today,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “We will make sure we test him in pregame, but he remarkably looked great today and so that's all we have to go on.”

Chancellor moved well Saturday, according to a pool report.

The Patriots didn't have a walkthrough Saturday.

“Practice-wise, we're done,” coach Bill Belichick said. “We're as ready as we're going to be.”

Patriots center Bryan Stork was upgraded to probable for Sunday's game. Stork has been sidelined with a knee injury.

Follow me on Twitter: @RavensInsider

Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

Roger Goodell on 'Deflategate': 'We want the truth'

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated that the league is conducting a serious, thorough investigation into whether the New England Patriots intentionally deflated footballs in the AFC championship game.

The NFL has announced that 11 of the Patriots' dozen footballs were below league standards.

“We don't know enough in this case to know who is responsible or if there was an infraction,” Goodell said.
“We want the truth.”

Goodell said the league is more concerned about determining whether a rule was broken, not if a competitive advantage was gained.

Goodell said he hasn't considered resigning.

“It has been a tough year,” Goodell said. “It's been a tough year on me personally. It's been a year of what I would say is humility and learning. We obviously as an organization have gone through adversity, but more importantly, adversity for me. It's an opportunity for us to get better. … We've all done a lot of soul searching starting with yours truly.”

When asked about his close relationship with Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Goodell replied: “I was at the Krafts' residence along with season-ticket holders, sponsors and media partners, the night before the AFC Championship. That's part of what we do. I was there to participate in the program with our partner, CBS. It's something I do on a regular basis. It's not unusual.

“It's also not unusual that I work closely with owners Professionally I have a relationship, and I also admire, respect and think very highly of him on a personal level. There's no hiding from that point. Since he knows me so well and knows that I'm not going to do anything to compromise the integrity of the league, I think he has no doubt that I will do the right thing.”

Kraft didn't attend the press conference.

Follow me on Twitter: @RavensInsider

Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

Titans fire Lake Dawson

In a surprising move, the Tennessee Titans have fired vice president of player personnel Lake Dawson.

Dawson was up for general manager jobs, including the Chicago Bears' vacancy that went to Ryan Pace.

Director of college scouting Blake Beddingfield and pro scouting coordinator Brian Gardner will report directly to general manager Ruston Webster.

“This was not an easy decision, and I want to thank Lake for his time with the team,” Webster said. “This new structure will help us streamline things from both the college and pro perspectives. We will go forward without a vice president of player personnel and the college and pro sides will report directly to me.”

Follow me on Twitter: @RavensInsider

Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

Packers fire special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum

The Green Bay Packers have fired special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum.

Slocum was fired after a rough season and playoffs.

The Packers lost the NFC championship game as they failed to field an onsides kick.

“I would like to thank Shawn for all of his contributions over the past nine years,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “He was a positive contributor to our success, including helping us win Super Bowl XLV. We wish Shawn, Michelle and their family the best moving forward.”

Follow me on Twitter: @RavensInsider

Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

Peyton Manning says he won't drag out decision on returning

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is contemplating his future, emphasizing that he won't drag out his decision on whether to return for next season.

Manning said he hasn't made up his mind. He has met with new Broncos coach Gary Kubiak.

Manning won the annual Bart Starr award for his work in the community.

“I haven't made a decision yet,” Manning said. “I still want to take some time to evaluate some things, to talk to some people. Obviously the Broncos have been quite busy hiring a staff, I have had some dialogue with CoachKubiak and did have a chance see him in person.”

“I'm not interested in making this a lingering thing, I'd like to make a decision soon. But at the same time, you know, both Coach, (Broncos CEO) Joe (Ellis) and John (Elway) have instructed me to take some time, so I'm kind of following their orders.”

What goes into the decision?

“I guess some of those things are personal, some things I want to discuss with them,” Manning said. “There's been quite a lot of change since the last game and I want to hear what they have to say, get their thoughts on some things, share some of thoughts of my own with them and get their feedback.”

Manning said he's healthy.

“Don't see it being that significant,” Manning said. “I feel pretty confident I would pass that physical, that my neck is in good shape. I'd like to avoid a crowd standing outside the MRI room, if possible. I've felt secure about that the past three years and feel the same about that.”

Follow me on Twitter: @RavensInsider

Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

Bears retain Mike Groh as receivers coach

The Chicago Bears have retained Mike Groh as receivers coach.

Groh was receivers coach under former coach Marc Trestman.

The Bears have had three 1,000-yard receiving seasons under Groh, twice with Alshon Jeffery and another with Brandon Marshall.

Over the last two seasons, Jeffery is fifth in the NFL in receiving yards (2,554), ninth in receptions (174) and tied for ninth in receiving touchdowns (17).

In 2013, Marshall and Jeffery became the first receivers in Bears history to each top 1,100 yards in a season and the team’s first pair of wideouts to both be selected to the Pro Bowl in the same year.

Groh was a starting quarterback at Virginia. Groh has coached at Virginia, the New York Jets and Alabama.

Follow me on Twitter: @RavensInsider

Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun