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NFL notebook: Broncos executives suspended

| Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 12:42 a.m.

Steelers Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey took to Twitter on Monday to apologize for wearing a red “Free Hernandez” hat alongside twin brother Mike Pouncey during their birthday bash at a Florida night club. The photo circulated around the Internet on Sunday.

The Pouncey brothers were teammates of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez at Florida.

Hernandez is charged with the first-degree murder of 27-year-old semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd on June 17.

“I fully recognize the seriousness of the situation involving my former teammate,” Pouncey wrote. “And I regret that my actions appear to make light of that serious situation. I apologize to anyone who was offended by my actions.”

Mike Pouncey, a center for the Dolphins, has yet to apologize for wearing a black “Free Hernandez” hat in the photograph.

The Pouncey brothers were linked to Hernandez in a recent ESPN report about a 2007 shooting at a Florida nightclub. A police report confirmed the twins were with Hernandez at The Venue on the night a shooting left two men wounded.

Hernandez, who also faces five weapon charges, is being held in a Massachusetts jail.

He was denied bail and has pled not guilty to all charges.

A Steelers spokesman had no comment on the photograph.

Broncos suspend execs

The Broncos suspended two executives who are facing drunken driving charges.

Director of player personnel Matt Russell was suspended indefinitely without pay, and director of pro personnel Tom Heckert was suspended for a month without pay.

Executive vice president John Elway's top two advisers were arrested and jailed on suspicion of drunken driving in separate incidents within a month of each other.

On July 6, Russell hit two vehicles, including a police SUV in Breckenridge, injuring an officer.

Russell registered a 0.246 percent blood-alcohol content, three times the legal threshold for a DUI violation in Colorado, according to the arrest affidavit.

Heckert's blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.162 percent upon his release seven hours after his June 11 arrest in Parker, according to a Douglas County Sheriff's Office report.

Bills, Byrd don't reach deal

The Bills failed to reach a long-term deal with free agent safety Jairus Byrd, and it's unclear whether he'll sign his one-year franchise tag offer from the team.

Byrd was given the “franchise” label in March, and the two sides faced a Monday deadline to work out a long-term deal. He is the only remaining NFL player who has not signed his franchise tender.

Bengals extend Dunlap

The Bengals locked up defensive end Carlos Dunlap to a long-term deal. Dunlap agreed to terms on a six-year, $40 million extension, according to Geoff Hobson of

Despite starting only two games in three seasons, Dunlap has recorded 20 sacks. Dunlap's 9 12 sacks as a rookie in 2010 led the team. Last season, Dunlap recorded six sacks, which was fourth on the team.

NFL teams dominate Forbes' list

Forbes released its annual list of the most valuable sports franchises, and European soccer power Real Madrid, valued at $3.3 billion, was tabbed the world's most valuable team. But the NFL was the most well-represented league on the list.

Thirty of the NFL's 32 teams cracked the top 50, with the Cowboys ranking highest at No. 5 ($2.1 billion). The Steelers checked in at No. 23 ($1.1 billion).

The only two teams to miss out on the top 50 were the Rams (51st) and Jaguars (52nd).

Forbes' list shows that at least in the United States, the NFL is king. Twelve of the top-20 valued teams hailed from the NFL.

Clady eyes August return

Ryan Clady signed a five-year, $57.5-million deal to stay with the Broncos over the weekend.

Now he hopes to start earning that contract as soon as possible.

Clady skipped last year's Pro Bowl — his third invite — with a torn right labrum that required surgery. He hopes to be cleared by early August, and the Broncos are confident he'll be in the lineup for the Sept. 5 season opener.

Around the league

The Jaguars signed fourth-round draft pick Ace Sanders to a contract. A receiver/punt returner from South Carolina, Sanders was the 101st overall selection in April's draft. ... The 49ers signed undrafted punter and kickoff specialist Colton Schmidt to a three-year contract.

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