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Owners Shrink Commissioner Pool to Five

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

The NFL on Sunday narrowed its list of potential new commissioners to five candidates, the most recognizable being Roger Goodell, the league’s chief operating officer and right-hand man to retiring Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

Joining 47-year-old Goodell among the finalists are lawyer Gregg Levy, 53, a partner at Covington & Burling, Tagliabue’s former firm in Washington, D.C.; lawyer Frederick R. Nance, 52, a partner at Cleveland’s Squire Sanders & Dempsey; Robert L. Reynolds, 54, vice chairman and COO of Fidelity Investments; and Mayo A. Shattuck III, 51, president and CEO of Constellation Energy.

The five were selected from a group of 11 semifinalists by an eight-owner committee headed by Pittsburgh’s Dan Rooney and Carolina’s Jerry Richardson. The new commissioner is expected to be elected at meetings in Chicago from Aug. 7-9. Tagliabue’s successor needs votes from at least 22 of the league’s 32 teams.

“They are five that any one of them could make, in my view, a great commissioner in the NFL,” said Dallas owner Jerry Jones, a member of the committee. “We’ll now really get down to it and figure out who the best man is to be the commissioner.”

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Nance, an African American, is the only minority candidate. Reynolds is a former college football official. Shattuck’s wife, Molly, 39, recently made the Baltimore Ravens cheerleading squad for a second consecutive year.

-- Sam Farmer

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Quarterback Matt Leinart did not report to camp as contract negotiations cooled between the Arizona Cardinals and the 10th overall draft pick.

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Even as he vowed to stay out of the negotiations, Coach Dennis Green blamed Leinart’s representatives for the failure to reach agreement.

Green, however, said Leinart won’t be considered late unless he misses the first practice at 8:45 a.m. today.

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The length of running back Reggie Bush’s contract -- five years plus an option year -- was confirmed by New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis, but he would not comment on the financial terms.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that the deal could be worth as much as $60 million with about $26 million guaranteed. Bush was the second pick in April’s draft.

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Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger practiced for the first time since his June 12 motorcycle accident, throwing passes to first-round draft pick Santonio Holmes and getting a bit of a scare when he banged his right thumb off a lineman’s helmet.

“I felt real comfortable. The body feels real good, the head feels good, so it was a good day,” said Roethlisberger, who broke his jaw, nose and some orbital bones in the accident.

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Dallas Cowboys tight end Brett Pierce injured the same knee ligament he tore last November and will need season-ending surgery.

He was injured during the second practice on Saturday’s opening day of camp.

Meanwhile, left tackle Flozell Adams was taken off the physically unable to perform list and defensive end Marcus Spears underwent arthroscopic surgery to fix cartilage damage in his right knee.

Adams, coming off knee surgery, didn’t pass a conditioning test Friday.

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Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Rien Long will need season-ending surgery on his injured Achilles’ tendon after an MRI exam showed it was severed, the team said.

Long’s roster spot was filled when running back LenDale White reported after the paperwork on his contract had been completed.

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Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Ryan Pickett sustained a mild concussion in a car accident and was cited for failure to yield while turning.

Pickett, 26, said he was sorry about the accident, in which he and another vehicle collided near the Lambeau Field parking lot on Saturday.

Green Bay police said all four occupants of the other vehicle were taken to a hospital for unspecified injuries, which weren’t believed to be life-threatening.

The Packers signed Pickett to a four-year, $14-million free-agent contract in March.

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The Houston Texans signed former Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Dexter McCleon, adding depth to a secondary depleted by Saturday’s foot injury to Demarcus Faggins.

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Safety Mark Roman signed with the San Francisco 49ers, three days after he was cut by Green Bay.

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Linebacker Ernie Sims, the ninth overall pick in this year’s draft, signed with the Detroit Lions.... The St. Louis Rams agreed to terms with cornerback Tye Hill, their first-round pick and the 15th overall selection in the draft.... The Seattle Seahawks agreed to terms on a multiyear contract with cornerback Kelly Jennings, the 31st overall pick in the draft.

Linebacker Roger McIntosh, drafted 35th, signed a four-year deal with the Washington Redskins.... Former USC defensive end Frostee Rucker, a third-round pick, agreed to a four-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals.


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