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Larry Fitzgerald Still Unsure About NFL Future

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One of the greatest receivers to ever step foot on a football field may have taken his last steps.

Larry Fitzgerald’s career has been nothing short of Hall of Fame worthy. The former Pittsburgh Panther took the league by storm after being selected with the third overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft and never looked back. 1,303 catches, 16,279 yards and 116 touchdowns later, Fitzgerald finds himself at the center of retirement rumors once again.

Per Adam Schefter of ESPN, Fitzgerald is “taking some time to collect his thoughts” following another disappointing season for the Arizona Cardinals, a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2015 season. Will having the number one pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and a new head coach in Kliff Kingsbury tempt Fitzgerald to stay another season?

Fitzgerald is set to become an unrestricted free agent this off-season, yet if Fitzgerald were to play another season, it would be hard to imagine him playing outside of the Cardinals organization.

“I’ll leave it to these guys who write the checks” Kingsbury told ESPN, “Like I said, what a great role model, what a great leader to have on your team, and I would be honored and love to work with him. He’s a guy that I’ve admired from afar for a long time, and I think we all hope that he’ll be back.”

The Pitt product currently sits 23 catches away from breaking Tony Gonzalez’s reception record, a possible tempting factor that may lead Fitzgerald back to his 16th NFL season. Although the high-level play of Fitzgerald has dropped in recent years, the removal of Fitzgerald would certainly be a loss for not only the Cardinals, but the rest of the league as well.

There is no expected timetable for Fitzgerald to make his decision.

NFL

NFL Announces Coaches can Return to Team Facilities

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has announced that coaching staffs may return to team facilities Friday, June 5 in a memo issued to teams Thursday morning.

Staying consistent with their message throughout the reopening process, coaches may return only if clubs have “received necessary permission from state and local governments.”

Clubs were informed last week that coaches will count towards the maximum number of employees permitted in facilities, but the total number allowed will increase from 75 to 100 tomorrow as well.

While Goodell has not yet announced when all players will be cleared to return, he did add that the league is still working “with clubs medical staffs to implement a program of COVID-19 testing” prior to players coming back.

Injured and rehabbing players were some of the first who received the green light to return to team facilities, and have been back for a few weeks now.

Club facilities were initially closed by the league back on March 25 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While coaches are likely eager to return to their team facilities, they should make themselves comfortable for the long haul.

Goodell’s memo comes a day after multiple reports that the league informed franchises they must conduct training camp from their practice facilities this August.

This would mean the Steelers will be prepping for the season on the South Side, instead of making a 55th-consecutive trip to St. Vincent College in Latrobe.

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Roger Goodell Continues NFL Reopening; Expects Coaches in Facilities Next Week

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has announced the next phase of league reopenings in a memo to teams Thursday.

Starting Monday, June 1, clubs will be permitted to reopen box offices, retail shops and other “customer-facing” locations “as long as the operation of such facilities fully complies with state and local regulation.”

Employees working in these newly opened location will count towards the limit per team set by the league. Clubs are permitted 50 percent of their normal staff, and cannot exceed 75 employees in facilities.

Rehabbing players will continue to be allowed access to team facilities, but healthy players and coaches are still not in the clear to return. Goodell added that the expectation is that coaching staffs can come back to facilities next week.

“We are actively working with Governors and other state and local authorities in those states that have not yet definitive plans and will confirm the precise date on which coaches can return to the facility as soon as possible,” Goodell said.

Coaches have been barred from team facilities in an attempt to ensure competitive equity around the league, considering different states are at different stages in their respective reopening processes.

Goodell added that the league is working alongside the NFLPA to develop protocols that would allow players to return to club facilities in a limited fashion.

The first phase of reopening began on May 19, and it appears to have been successful thus far.

“Clubs that have reopened their facilities have done so in a safe and effective way,” Goodell said.

The league is utilizing three different criteria as it continues with its reopening plan: state and local regulations must be followed, reopening must be consistent with protocols created by NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills and competitive fairness must be a priority throughout the process.

The NFL has not yet made announcements regarding training camps, or if games will be played without fans during the 2020 season.

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NFL Adds to League Officiating Department; Alberto Riveron Remains Top Replay Official

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The NFL has drastically altered the structure of its officiating office, but Alberto Riveron will remain the man in charge of league replay reviews.

The league announced on Thursday that longtime referee Walt Anderson and former NFL coach Perry Fewell have joined the NFL officiating department.

Fewell, 57, will oversee the officiating department, including communications with head coaches and general mangers, and be the league’s liaison to the NFL Referee Association and the NCAA.

He joins the league office after last serving as the Carolina Panthers’ interim head coach in 2019. He was also interim head coach of the Buffalo Bills in 2009. Fewell was the defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills from 2006-09 and New York Giants from 2010-14 and was a defensive backs coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars (1998-02 and 2017-18), the St. Louis Rams (20030-04), Chicago Bears (2005), Washington Redskins (2015-16) and Carolina Panthers (2019). Fewell also worked as a collegiate assistant at North Carolina, Army, Kent State and Vanderbilt.

Anderson, 67, spent 24 years as an NFL official and the last 17 seasons as a referee before moving into the league office as senior vice president of officiating training and development, where one will oversee game officials, their development, training, education, recruitment and more.

That will leave less on the able other than his role as the league’s lead replay official, a role he will return to for his eighth season.

Each of Anderson, Fewell and Riveron will report directly to NFL executive vice president of of football operations Troy Vincent.

“Our intentions are to implement meaningful improvements to the game and officiating,” Vincent said in a press release. “We will continue to make every effort to improve officiating and pursue officiating excellence.”

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