The Dolphins were always a top candidate to regress this year, and not only because Ryan Tannehill was lost before the season even began.

This year, while Jay Cutler’s getting paid $10 million to basically show up and do the bare minimum like an 18-year-old with a bad case of senioritis, the schedule is much harder. None of the Dolphins’ opponents for the rest of the season have a losing record right now. That includes the Bills (twice), Patriots (twice), Falcons, Raiders, Broncos, and Chiefs. A turnaround like last season is much more improbable.

But why isn’t he? Last year’s team rode a weak schedule and close wins to an 10-6 record. They went just 1-4 against teams that finished the season with a winning record.

Representing the players were NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and president Eric Winston; former player Anquan Boldin; and current players Butler; Reid; Russell Okung (Los Angeles Chargers); Kenny Stills, Julius Thomas and Michael Thomas (Miami); Mark Herzlich (New York Giants); Kelvin Beachum and Demario Davis (New York Jets); Jenkins and Chris Long (Philadelphia); and Josh Norman (Washington).

Sources familiar with the players’ thinking told ESPN’s Dan Graziano that they went into the meeting skeptical. The level of trust between owners and players has been low in recent years, as the sides have waged court battles over the personal conduct policy and the players have spurned the owners’ efforts to open negotiations on an extension to the collective bargaining agreement. Goodell and Smith have rarely met face-to-face over the past three years, people familiar with the relationship say, and relations had reached a point where people on both sides wondered whether there’d ever be common ground for future negotiations.

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John Elway is not losing his job

There may be consequences and repercussions from the public. But it’s been a day since Elway’s letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on behalf of his friend and big Denver Broncos fan Neil Gorsuch went public. The strongest reaction to it from anybody in any position of power has been to carefully point out that it’s really, honestly, seriously, not official team stationary on which he wrote.

Split that hair all you want, but that’s all the splitting there is on this.

John Elway is not losing his job. The NFL is not turning its back on him. It is not feeding the notion that today, despite everything Elway has ever done as team president (never mind as a player), he actually stinks at what he does ’ always has, always will, and he might as well get used to it, because he’s finished in this game. That will teach him to keep his political opinions to himself.

Stick to sports. Keep politics and sports separate. Period. End of story. And if you have a problem with that, end of career.

But there’s a caveat.

I surely did not deserve to be just wiped off the map after the first-year ballot,’ Stieb said. It’s like, please, amuse me and string me out for two, three years.

Hall of Fame voting can be brutal in this regard, with numerous fine one-and-done candidates from Stieb to Bobby Grich to Ted Simmons and many others.

It’s like an insult,’ Stieb said. What it told me was in (the writers’) minds, I didn’t even do anything worth recognizing.’

There’s good news for Stieb, though. This fall, he’ll be eligible for the first time as a veterans candidate on the Modern Baseball Committee ballot. Is Stieb about to be wiped off the map once more, or could delayed recognition come?

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