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The NFL's messaging was finally getting back on track. The Wall Street Journal praised the league's "string of lucrative deals." The Jerry Richardson/Panthers narrative had transformed from investigation surrounding workplace misconduct into effusive reporting about the biggest sports franchise purchase in American history. The catch rule was even being discussed with measured optimism! Then Texans owner Bob McNair spoke, and a pair of NFL controversies flooded back into view.

1) Talking to the media before this week's owners meeting, McNair said he'd spoken with Richardson about the allegations that the Panthers owner had used a racial slur and asked to shave female employees' legs. "I know Jerry. He's an outstanding person,'' McNair said, at another point adding, "Some of the comments he might have made could have been made jokingly and misunderstood. I'm sure he didn't mean to offend anybody."

2) McNair also said, "We're going to deal with [player protests] . . . Our playing field, that's not the place for political statements. That's not the place for religious statements. It's the place for football." Those comments ran directly counter to the stance taken by Jets acting owner Chris Johnson Sunday. "Trying to forcibly get the players to shut up is a fantastically bad idea," he said.

McNair has generated debate before. In the fall, he apologized for saying, "We can't have the inmates running the prison," during an owners-only meeting. In 2015, he donated and then retracted $10,000 for opponents of an equal rights ordinance in Houston. And in between, The Guardian reported that McNair was the NFL's largest political donor in 2016.

In the aforementioned WSJ article, Roger Goodell stated his preference for an apolitical game but said, "It's particularly hard in a divisive society." McNair's latest comments, along with Johnson's, prove that point. The Texans owner's openness also indicates that he's not alone in his beliefs, and that his bloc is once again prepared for a battle over control of the league.

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NOW ON THE MMQB: Peter King starts his column with the catch rule ... Michael McCann explains the Michael Bennett indictment ... Bruce Feldman sits down with Johnny Manziel ... and more.

WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:Kalyn Kahler documentedTrevor Siemian's life on the trade block​ ... Albert Breer put together a mock draft ... Andy Benoit studiedEric Reid's tape ... and more.

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MMQB Draft Preview Show with Pro Football Focus
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1. Ndamukong Suh's free agency extravaganza rolls on. Friday, the Jets reportedly swooped in with the biggest offer for the defensive lineman, only to rescind that offer by Sunday, with Albert Breer reporting the offer always had an expiration date attached.

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2.Michael Bennett is expected to turn himself in Monday in Houston after a grand jury indicted him for injuring an elderly security staffer at the 2017 Super Bowl. At a news conference, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo​ called Bennett "morally bankrupt." Matt Calkins penned a worthwhile column picking apart the reactions to the news from across the political spectrum.

3. By Nick Kosmider's count, at least 57 of Josh Allen's 60 pro day throws were on-target.

4.As a Saints cheerleader, Bailey Davis was required to block every New Orleans player on social media, and leave any restaurant if one walked in. When she posted a photo of herself in a one-piece outfit on her private Instagram account, Ken Belson writes, she was fired. Now, she's filing a civil rights complaint against the team, alleging it has different rules for its (male) players and (female) cheerleaders. Sounds like a fascinating case.


5. "I’m tired of answering questions about Odell’s behavior and what the latest incident is. I think he knows what we expect of him, and now it’s up to him."

—Giants co-owner John Mara, after being asked about the latest Odell Beckham Jr. controversy.

6. Bears fans—and those interested in how NFL coaches get hired—really ought to read this thorough yarn from Adam L. Jahns on the hiring process for Matt Nagy, including a harrowing plane ride and the phrase "mucking horse stalls."

7. ...For the flipside of that equation, Vic Carruci caught up with Sean McDermott, who described his entry into a head coaching position as both "baptism by fire" and "drinking at times from a big fire hose."

8. Starting this week: a research trial of 200 past and present football players that could lead to a live-subject CTE test.

9. Eagles safety and Players Coalition leader Malcolm Jenkins is the latest to say that Eric Reid's political stance is hurting his free agency prospects. As it stands, almost the entire safety market remains stagnant

10. We got (just a bit) more detail on how Josh McDaniels ended up staying in New England after agreeing to coach the Colts from Bill Belichick Sunday."Before the [Super Bowl], I'd say we had minimal discussions," Belichick said. "I'd say we had much deeper and longer and more in-depth and more constructive discussions immediately after the game."​

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The Joe Thomasdiet includes a nightly "sleeve of thin mint Girl Scout cookies."

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