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NFL notebook: Former Patriots TE Hernandez pleads not guilty to murder charge

| Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, 8:54 p.m.

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez pleaded not guilty to a first-degree murder charge Friday following his indictment in the killing of a friend authorities say was shot five times in an industrial park.

Hernandez firmly answered “not guilty” to six charges, including murder and weapons and ammunition possession charges.

His attorneys agreed ahead of the hearing that Hernandez, 23, will continue to be held without bail, but reserved the right to request bail later. The next court hearing was scheduled for Oct. 9.

A Massachusetts grand jury last month returned the indictment against Hernandez in the death of Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old semi-professional football player from Boston who was dating the sister of Hernandez's girlfriend.

Judge: Ex-players must file own lawsuits

Retired professional football players unhappy with a proposed royalty settlement that would pay them nothing have to wait before they file their own lawsuits, a federal judge in Minnesota ruled Friday.

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson ordered lawyers for two groups of players who have filed new lawsuits in New Jersey and Pittsburgh to withdraw those lawsuits pending the outcome of the Minnesota case. The Pittsburgh lawsuit has been withdrawn.

More than 560 retired professional football players filed a lawsuit in federal court in Pittsburgh last week claiming the National Football League owes them royalties for using their images in commercials, best-of reels and replays of old games.

Their claims echo those made in the 2009 Minnesota lawsuit. Several of the lawyers and plaintiffs in that case have filed briefs opposing the proposed $50 million settlement because the money would set up a charity and give the money to it to be disbursed to other charities instead of compensating players for the use of their images.

While players have filed notices to opt out that proposed settlement, Magnuson hasn't approved the agreement or validated their withdrawal from the lawsuit, the judge said in his order.

In addition to withdrawing the lawsuits, the judge ordered the attorneys to issue public statements announcing that the cases have been withdrawn because they violated his injunction against filing new lawsuits until the Minnesota case is decided.

Jason Luckasevic, one of the lawyers for the Pittsburgh case, couldn't be reached for comment.

Giants DE questionable

The New York Giants are going to make the Dallas Cowboys guess about Jason Pierre-Paul's playing status for the season opener.

The Giants listed the playing-making defensive end as questionable for Sunday night's game in Dallas, saying they needed a little more time to decide his status.

Holmes could return

Santonio Holmes could complete his comeback Sunday.

Jets coach Rex Ryan remains optimistic that the veteran wide receiver, listed as questionable for the New York's season opener against the Buccaneers, will make his return from a foot injury that sidelined him most of last year.

Vikings DT ruled out

Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams has been ruled out for the season opener Sunday against Detroit.

Coach Leslie Frazier said Williams was not able to practice all week.

Williams suffered a bone bruise and hyperextension in his knee against San Francisco in the Vikings' third preseason game.

Around the league

The Seahawks won't know until Sunday whether starting cornerback Brandon Browner or defensive end Cliff Avril will be able to play in the season opener against Carolina. ... After watching Blaine Gabbert take dozens of snaps and throw hundreds of passes this week, the Jaguars still aren't ready to declare him healthy enough for the season opener. ... Barkevious Mingo's NFL debut has been delayed for at least another week. The Browns' speedy rookie linebacker will not play in Sunday's season opener against Miami.

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