Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; The Las Vegas Raiders shield logo at midfield at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Legendary Raiders C Jim Otto dies at 86

Legendary Oakland Raiders center Jim Otto, a Pro Football Hall of Famer, has died at the age of 86, the team announced Sunday.

The Raiders did not disclose a cause of death.

Otto spent his entire 15-year career with the Raiders, who moved to Las Vegas ahead of the 2020 season. Oakland was playing as a member of the AFL for Otto’s first 10 seasons (1960-69).

“The Raiders Family is in deep mourning following the passing of Jim Otto … The Original Raider,” the team said in a statement on Sunday. “The personification of consistency, Jim’s influence on the American Football League and professional football as a whole cannot be overstated.”

One of three players to play in all 140 AFL regular-season games, Otto started 210 games for the Raiders in all. No one else started at center from his first game in 1960 to his last in 1974.

Despite the remarkable consistency from season to season, Otto did deal with his fair share of injuries, and he had to have over 70 surgeries, most of which related to his knees. Because of two serious infections, Otto had to have his right leg amputated in 2007, and he also fought prostate cancer.

Otto landed in the Hall of Fame in 1980 — the first year he was eligible. He was named to the NFL 100 All-Time team in 2019.

Even when his playing days were over, Otto stayed involved with the Raiders organization, serving as the director of special projects. During his time in that role, Otto set up reunions for former players and made public appearances as a representative for the team.

Otto was also known for wearing No. 00, an ode to the two O’s in his last name. However, NFL players nowadays cannot select that number.

“‘00′ was the foundational piece of a transcendent offensive line that not only propelled the Raiders to success on the field but resonated with fans and helped build the Raiders persona and mystique,” the team said in its statement.

Otto is survived by his wife, a son, his daughter-in-law and 14 grandchildren.

–Field Level Media

Oct 24, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Houston Texans running back David Johnson (31) is tackled by the Arizona Cardinals defense at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Former All-Pro RB David Johnson announces retirement

Running back David Johnson, who was named an All-Pro and Pro Bowler following a standout 2016 season, announced his retirement from the NFL Sunday.

On his Instagram page, Johnson said in part, “I’m looking forward to my next career path in life. I don’t know exactly what that will be, but I hope it will bring me the same passion, excitement, and love as football did!”

Johnson, 32, was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He ran for 581 yards and eight touchdowns as a rookie before his encore performance resulted in a breakout season in 2016.

Johnson led the NFL with 2,118 yards from scrimmage that fall — 1,239 rushing yards, 80 receptions for 879 receiving yards and 20 total touchdowns — and was named first-team All-Pro and nominated to the 2016 Pro Bowl.

Injuries limited him to a single game in 2017 before he rebounded with 1,386 scrimmage yards in 2018. But he only exceeded 1,000 yards once more in his career, during his first season with the Houston Texans in 2020.

He last played for the New Orleans Saints in 2022, appearing in five games.

Over his eight-year career, Johnson rushed for 4,071 yards and 39 touchdowns, adding 277 receptions for 2,805 yards and 18 touchdown catches.

He ranks 10th in career rushing yardage with the Cardinals (3,128 yards) and is tied for third in rushing touchdowns (33).

–Field Level Media

Nov 25, 2023; Auburn, Alabama, USA;  Auburn Tigers running back Brian Battie (21) returns a kick during the first quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn RB Brian Battie in critical condition after shooting

Auburn running back Brian Battie is in critical condition following a shooting in Sarasota, Florida, multiple outlets reported.

An Auburn spokesperson confirmed the news to AL.com.

Multiple people were victims of a shooting that occurred in Sarasota early Saturday morning. Local police confirmed that Battie’s 24-year-old brother, Tommie, was killed in the shooting, with several others taken to the hospital.

Brian Battie was Auburn’s primary kick returner last year, totaling 645 return yards to lead the team. He also ran for 227 yards on 51 carries (4.5 yards per carry) with seven catches for 52 yards.

His career began at South Florida, where, in addition to returning kicks,, Battie became South Florida’s primary offensive weapon in 2022, rushing for 1,185 yards and eight touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Apr 25, 2024; Detroit, MI, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. poses after being selected by the Arizona Cardinals as the No. 4 pick in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft at Campus Martius Park and Hart Plaza. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Fanatics sues Marvin Harrison Jr.

Sports collectibles and apparel merchandiser Fanatics is suing wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., alleging breach of contract, multiple outlets reported.

The lawsuit was filed Saturday in New York Supreme Court against Harrison, who was selected No. 4 overall by the Arizona Cardinals in last month’s NFL Draft.

Per a Sunday report from The Athletic, Harrison initially signed a limited, non-exclusive promotion and license agreement with Fanatics while he played for Ohio State. The parties then negotiated a longer contract with Harrison, which included what the filing called “significant” compensation, with both sides signing off on it in May 2023.

In the lawsuit, reviewed by The Athletic, Fanatics charges that Harrison hasn’t lived up to his end of the contract, despite receiving paychecks last August and October, and that he has denied he had an agreement with the company.

While details of the purported agreement, including his contractual obligations, were redacted in the suit, ESPN reported that a source earlier this month said Harrison agreed to signing autographs and trading cards, providing game-worn apparel and “other marketing opportunities.” The Athletic said Harrison has ignored requests from Fanatics to fulfill that the company says exists.

Fanatics is seeking a jury trial and estimates in potential losses as totaling “millions of dollars.”

Harrison also has not yet signed the NFL Players Association’s group licensing agreement, which is holding up the sale of his licensed jerseys and other memorabilia.

Anyone itching to buy Harrison gear can do so at The Official Harrison Collection, a website that sells autographed jerseys, helmets, photos, mini-helmets and such. There also are limited items signed by his father, Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Marvin Harrison Sr., on the site.

–Field Level Media

Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) warms up before the game against the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings TE TJ Hockenson might not be ready for Week 1

Minnesota Vikings tight end TJ Hockenson provided an update on his surgically repaired right knee Friday, indicating he’s made good progress but has a long way to go.

Hockenson, the eighth overall pick by the Detroit Lions in 2019, suffered ACL and MCL damage in a Week 16 loss to Detroit and had surgery delayed until Jan. 29 because of swelling.

“They (the team) haven’t really put a timeline on it,” Hockenson said this week via NFL Media. “We’re just kinda taking it day by day, week by week. There’s just so many variables that you can go through in this process.

“I’m doing really good right now. We’re attacking each process. I’m attacking each one and it’s been awesome. The progression has been incredible.”

NFL.com speculated Hockenson might miss the season’s first few weeks but the two-time Pro Bowler might be ready to take the team flight to London for a Week 5 matchup with the New York Jets.

Traded to Minnesota by the Lions during the 2022 season, Hockenson had 60 catches, three of them touchdowns, for 519 yards in those 10 games with the Vikings.

He became a major component of the Minnesota offense last season, with 95 receptions for 960 yards, scoring five touchdowns in 15 games before his season was cut short.

Hockenson’s four-year, $66 million contract runs through 2027.

The team signed veteran tight end Robert Tonyan on Thursday.

-Field Level Media

Jan 14, 2024; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) walks off the field after losing in the 2024 NFC wild card game against the Green Bay Packers at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys, Texans road favorites Week 1

More than three months before Week 1 of the 2024 NFL season, the Cowboys and Texans are among the early-line favorites on the first Sunday of the regular season.

Dallas is a two-point favorite at Cleveland and the Texans are giving a point at Indianapolis.

Circa Sports published its Week 1 lines on Friday afternoon with the Cincinnati Bengals leading the way as the largest favorite — nine points over the New England Patriots. The Buffalo Bills (-7.5) are the only other team giving more than five points in the opener.

The first game of the regular season, Super Bowl ring night at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, has the Chiefs set at 2.5-point favorites over the Baltimore Ravens.

A rematch of the NFC divisional playoffs in Detroit between the Lions and Rams features the highest projected point total at 50.5.

The full lineup for Week 1 with odds and point totals (over-under) from Circa Sports:

Thursday, Sept. 5
Baltimore at Kansas City (-2.5, 47.5)

Friday, Sept. 6 (Brazil)
Green Bay vs Philadelphia (-1, 48.5)

Sunday, Sept. 8
Jacksonville at Miami (-3, 49)
Pittsburgh at Atlanta (-2.5, 43)
Minnesota at NYG (-1.5, 41)
Carolina at New Orleans (-5, 40)
New England at Cincinnati (-9, 42.5)
Tennessee at Chicago (-4.5, 43.5)
Arizona at Buffalo (-7.5, 48)
Houston (-1, 48) at Indianapolis
Las Vegas at LA Chargers (-3.5, 43)
Washington at Tampa Bay (-4, 41.5)
Denver at Seattle (-5, 41)
Dallas (-2, 44) at Cleveland
LA Rams at Detroit (-3.5, 50.5)

Monday, Sept. 9
NY Jets at San Francisco (-5, 44.5)

–Field Level Media

Jul 18, 2022; Atlanta, GA, USA; LSU Tigers helmet on the stage during SEC Media Days at the College Football Hall of Fame. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

No. 1 WR Dakorien Moore decommits from LSU

Dakorien Moore, the No. 1-ranked receiver in the Class of 2025, announced he has decommitted from LSU.

The 247Sports composite also lists him as the No. 3 overall player in the class.

Moore, from Duncanville, Texas, made the announcement on social media Thursday night. He had been committed to coach Brian Kelly’s Tigers since last August.

“I want to express my sincere gratitude to Coach Kelly and the entire LSU community for their tremendous support of my family and me,” he said. “I am incredibly blessed and deeply appreciative of the opportunity the coaching staff has given me to play football at the collegiate level.

“After careful and extensive consideration, my family and I have decided that it is in my best interest to decommit from LSU. I want to emphasize that despite this decision, I will not be considering any recruitment offers.”

247Sports predicted that Moore would land with home-state Texas, which will make its Southeastern Conference debut this fall.

–Field Level Media

Holiday vibes for fans at the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Netflix, NFL unwrap football for Christmas through 2026

Treading further into territory once reserved for NBA broadcasts, the NFL plans to continue airing games on Christmas Day beyond the 2024 doubleheader on Netflix announced on Wednesday.

NFL Vice President of Media Hans Schroeder said Thursday the league already has outlined plans for Christmas games in 2025 and 2026. Since Christmas is on a Saturday in 2027, it’s a near certainty regular-season games will be played that day, too.

“Amazon will have their traditional Thursday night game in primetime on Christmas on Thursday next year, and we’ll have another game on Netflix in the afternoon,” Schroeder said on a conference call discussing the league schedule for the 2024 season released Wednesday.

“Netflix will have a game on Friday the year after that (2026). We’ll use how we think about ’25 to form how we go into ’26.”

With Christmas falling on a Wednesday in 2024, the four teams involved were scheduled for Saturday games the week before to emulate the Saturday-to-Thursday game week schedule.

Traditionally, the NBA is the only game competing for airtime with a scarce sports broadcast schedule on Christmas Day. After ratings showed sincere interest from fans in Christmas games in 2023, the NFL claims it decided to commit to more in future seasons.

All three games had more than 27 million viewers according to Nielsen, ratings that piqued the interest of the NFL. The games were peeled out of the full network broadcast agreements and Netflix reportedly bid $75 million for each of its three holiday games.

VP of Broadcast Mike North said the NFL “wasn’t thinking about” scheduling on Christmas 2024 at this time last year.

“When you saw the viewership numbers for Christmas for the tripleheader last year, and the tripleheader the year before — I think it’s four of the last five years that we’ve played on Christmas — the fans have spoken,” North said. “They want the games there and our broadcast partners want the games there.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 28, 2021; National defensive lineman Ade Ogundeji of Notre Dame (91) drills against National offensive lineman Quinn Meinerz of Wisconsin -Whitewater (71) during National practice at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, USA;  Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons release OLB Ade Ogundeji

The Atlanta Falcons released outside linebacker Ade Ogundeji on Thursday.

Ogundeji, 25, recorded 75 tackles, three sacks and one fumble recovery in 32 career games (27 starts) in his first two seasons with the Falcons. He was selected by Atlanta in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame.

Ogundeji injured his foot during training camp last August, landed on injured reserve and sat out the 2023 season.

–Field Level Media

Aug 21, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;   Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Terrell Edmunds (34) reacts after a defensive stop against the Detroit Lions during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jaguars sign DBs Terrell Edmunds, Tre Flowers

The Jacksonville Jaguars added three players on defense Thursday, signing defensive backs Terrell Edmunds and Tre Flowers, as well as linebacker Ty Summers.

The Jaguars also waived linebacker Dequan Jackson and cut ties with wide receiver Wayne Ruby on a injury settlement.

Edmunds, 27, was a first-round draft pick in 2018 and played his first five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers before splitting time with the Tennessee Titans and Philadelphia Eagles in 2023.

In 95 career games (79 starts), Edmunds has 458 tackles, six interceptions and 28 passes defended.

Flowers, 28, has 283 tackles with four interceptions and 22 passes defended in 90 games (44 starts) over six seasons for the Seattle Seahawks (2018-21), Cincinnati Bengals (2021-22) and Atlanta Falcons (2023).

Summers, 28, has 60 tackles in 67 games (one start) for the Green Bay Packers (2019-21) and New Orleans Saints (2022-23), while also playing three games for the Jaguars in 2022.

–Field Level Media