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NAPA, Calif. – Khalil Mack wanted nothing to do with this story. He refused to be interviewed for it. Sandy Mack, his father, at first liked the idea of meeting me down in Fort Pierce, Fla., where Khalil is from. Then Sandy stopped returning text messages and voicemails. Khalil Mack gave the impression he’d rather shower with asbestos bodywash and stir three table…

For two reasons, people don’t like to talk about this. 1) Those in the industry would rather take an Aaron Rodgers pass in the windpipe than surrender their secrets. 2) Most who aren’t privy would have trouble understanding the convoluted concepts anyway. The world of football analytics is fascinating for those who explore it, aggravating for those who refuse and …

Bills

Even after his foot has struck the ball, a kicker must keep his head down. Regardless of the field goal’s length, his follow-through technique is crucial. Before the snap, his eyes have to remain fixed on the spot. His head should be occupied by basic thoughts to avoid distraction. Then trained on that spot. Nothing but the blessed spot. Transfixed, he won’t see onco…

Bills

Sammy Watkins could have used a built-in excuse, pointed his finger at the easy target. Nobody would have blamed him. The NFL admitted the ruling was incompetent. An official clearly botched the end of Monday night’s loss to the New England Patriots. Watkins caught a pass along the left sideline as precious time dwindled. The Bills’ receiver, untouched by a defender, …

Sports

NEW YORK – Sports gambling is evil. Forever has it been the most sinister threat to darken sports’ door. That’s what sports commissioners have warned us. Then they found a way to get in on the action. Federal legislation unwittingly permitted a daily fantasy sports eruption, bringing unforeseen sponsorship dollars and investment opportunities to leagues, teams …

Bills

NEW YORK – What does a king, one who fancies living encircled by a moat, do when his realm is under siege, his people attacked, his legacy threatened? He could fire flaming arrows at the horde through the castle’s window slits, catapult diseased animal carcasses in their direction or dump boiling tar down the murder hole. Or he could get totally medieval and summon J…

Sports

BALTIMORE – There comes a time in Aaron Maybin’s artistic process when he needs to scrutinize his canvas. ¶ In a cluttered, paint-splattered studio – on the first floor of his three-story row house in the city’s gentrified Canton neighborhood – Maybin will pace this way and that. He will squint, cock his head, even climb halfway up the staircase in search of a fresh perspe…

Bills

HENDERSON, Nev. – Rex Ryan was a trampled man. His New York Jets were 2-8 entering last November’s game against the Buffalo Bills, the one that was moved to Detroit because Ralph Wilson Stadium was buried under a snowstorm. An avalanche already had fallen on Ryan. He knew the Jets would fire him at the end of the season. Their micromanaging front office had squeezed eve…

Bills

When the Chicago Bears retired Mike Ditka’s uniform number last year, they declared he “revolutionized the tight end position.” The Baltimore Sun wrote of John Mackey’s death three years ago that “he will be remembered for revolutionizing his position.” A Cleveland Plain Dealer headline two years ago proclaimed the “NFL’s tight-end revolution began” with Ozzie Newsome a…

Bills

OAKLAND, Calif. – This can be a ruthless town. Unlike the tourist attractions, chic shimmer and sophistication across San Francisco Bay, Oakland is known for its unapologetic grime. Oakland produced Clint Eastwood, John Lee Hooker, the Hells Angels, Bruce Lee and the Black Panther Party. And don’t try to knock Oakland by countering with pop rapper MC Hammer. This is …

Bills

ORLANDO, Fla. – Those closest to Darryl Talley are terrified. His wife, daughters and former teammates openly cry for him. They lament what has befallen him. They dread what his future might hold. Talley’s life is in tatters. Loved ones say his mind is deteriorating. He’s begrudgingly starting to agree. He’s 54, but his body is a wreck and continues to crumble. He su…

Bills

Of the NFL’s 32 starting quarterbacks, none is known less by his fan base than Kyle Orton. Orton joined the Buffalo Bills eight days before the season began. As a backup the first four games, he wasn’t interviewed much. He hasn’t been too talkative since he took over for EJ Manuel three weeks ago either. We can look at Orton’s statistics over the past decade to gain …

Bills

The Bills’ best defensive backs might as well have formed a musical trio and sung in harmony. All were in unison about what doomed them last week against the San Diego Chargers. Corey Graham practically spat the words on the locker room floor. “Pick plays,” he said. “They picked us,” Stephon Gilmore said, “and we didn’t adjust.” Aaron Williams added the only way t…

Bills

The moment was classic Fred Jackson. In overtime last Sunday, the oldest player on the Buffalo Bills roster – the oldest running back in the NFL by 10 months – took a handoff, burst through the line untouched, cut up the left sideline and dashed deep into Chicago Bears territory. Already a game-sealing play, what happened next provided a signature Fred Jackson experi…