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HOFer Dawkins tackling mental wellness

(AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Brian Dawkins is tackling mental health issues the same aggressive way he took on anyone who dared cross the middle during his Hall of Fame career as a safety for the Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos.

Since revealing he suffered from depression and had suicidal thoughts early in his playing career, Dawkins has been on a mission to spread awareness. He recently spoke at the Stay in the Game Forum to identify ways sports can be leveraged to have a positive impact on mental wellness. The event was organized by groups including Beyond Sport and the major professional sports leagues, including MLB, NFL, NBA and the NHL.

"We're trying to bring awareness to something that affects 44 million people," Dawkins told The Associated Press. "One in five adults have a mental health condition or are going through some things. I like to talk about my cerebral wellness instead of mental health. I believe we need to begin to change the narrative when we begin to speak about our cerebral wellness. I think there's so much negativity surrounding mental health that it's gonna be hard to take that stigma completely off, so I believe that individuals in every walk of life, you need to take control of it, take ownership of it, you change the way that you feel comfortable for yourself to talk about yourself."

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Panthers sign 2nd-round pick Little

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The Panthers have signed second-round draft pick Greg Little to a four-year contact.

The 6-foot-5, 310-pound Little has the inside track to be the team's starting left tackle this season.

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Missing former RB Smart found safe

Former NFL running back Rod Smart has been found safe after missing for the last six days, according to Lancaster County police in South Carolina.

Smart, who earned notoriety when he wore "He Hate Me" on the back of his XFL jersey in 2001, "has been located and he is safe at this time," the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office posted on its Facebook page Tuesday night.

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Jets name Hogan as assistant GM

NEW YORK (AP) Joe Douglas filled out his front office staff with some familiar faces who have plenty of NFL experience.

The New York Jets general manager hired Rex Hogan as the team's assistant GM, Chad Alexander as director of player personnel, Phil Savage as senior football adviser and Chris Nolan as a college scout.

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Lawsuit: Underwood, NFL, NBC stole song

NEW YORK (AP) A songwriting team sued country singer Carrie Underwood, the NFL and NBC Wednesday, saying they stole a song and "slightly modified" it to introduce "Sunday Night Football" to viewers last season.

The lawsuit in Manhattan federal court noted that Underwood's "Game On" even carried the same title as the song singer Heidi Merrill of Newport Beach, California, put on an internet music video two years ago.

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Raiders sign 1st-rounders Ferrell, Abram

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) The Oakland Raiders signed first-round draft picks Clelin Ferrell and Johnathan Abram on Tuesday.

Ferrell, a defensive end from Clemson, was selected fourth overall by the Raiders in April. A three-year starter and two-time national champion, Ferrell started in all 44 games he played. He made 166 tackles, including 50 for loss, 27 sacks, had seven passes defensed, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries as a Tiger.

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NFL, NCAA team up on player safety

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The NFL's top medical experts believe they can take the knowledge of college football physicians and trainers and the research from the NCAA to make football safer - together.

Dr. Allen Sills and Jeff Miller, the NFL's executive vice president for health and safety initiatives, spent Monday and Tuesday in Indianapolis sharing data about their findings on the prevention and treatment of injuries. It's the most formal presentation league executives have had with college officials, and Sills and Miller hope this presentation leads to a broader conversation that includes discussions about lower-body injuries.

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Fans honor Bowlen at public tribute

DENVER (AP) Some wore full costumes and others sported jerseys, including one Denver Broncos supporter with "P. Bowlen" on the back. Quite a few devotees stood in the rain for about an hour before making their way inside the stadium.

The fans arrived in droves Tuesday to pay respect to owner Pat Bowlen, who died last week at 75 after a long battle with Alzheimer's, and just two months shy of his enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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QB McCown retires, joins ESPN as analyst

NEW YORK (AP) Josh McCown was sometimes the starting quarterback, often the backup - and always among the most-respected and well-liked players in whatever locker room he was in.

And there were many.

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Jaguars fine absent LB Smith $88,650

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Absent linebacker Telvin Smith says the Jacksonville Jaguars fined him $88,650 for missing the team's mandatory, three-day minicamp this week.

Smith posted a picture of the fine letter on his Instagram story Saturday, adding "it's still love!!" The letter shows the Jaguars fined him $14,775 for missing the first day, $29,550 for the second and $44,325 for the third. The letter says the fines are required by the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement.

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