Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo is a teammate of Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft and Tennessee's starting quarterback. That doesn't mean the veteran has the pronunciation of the rookie's name down pat. Orakpo was in the midst of talking about how facing Tampa Bay's Cover 2 defense might be a good way for the rookie to start his NFL career, and the linebacker was off to a good start simply referring to the quarterback by his first name. Then, he needed some help.
Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo is a teammate of Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft and Tennessee's starting quarterback. That doesn't mean the veteran has the pronunciation of the rookie's name down pat.
Orakpo was in the midst of talking about how facing Tampa Bay's Cover 2 defense might be a good way for the rookie to start his NFL career, and the linebacker was off to a good start simply referring to the quarterback by his first name. Then, he needed some help.
"So, I'm pretty sure they're going to be ready for Mariota. Excuse me. Is it Mariota (MAYR-ee-oh-tah) or Mariota (MAR-ee-OH-tah)? I mess it up all the time," Orakpo said before a couple of reporters gave him the right pronunciation.
"They mess up my name too. It's cool."
Orakpo has lots of company having issues saying Mariota's name, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the draft.
So here's a little tip on how to remember the right pronunciation: just think Super Mario-ta.
BRADY'S CORNER: Richard Sherman was a proponent for Tom Brady in trying to get the Patriots quarterback's four-game "Deflategate" suspension lifted.
So what does it mean for players that Brady's suspension was overturned and he was allowed to play in New England's opener on Thursday night? Sherman's not sure it means that much.
"I think it's great for him and great for the organization to have him back obviously, but it's just guys getting justice. Guys not being persecuted for things they didn't do. Getting a fair trial of sorts," Sherman said this week. "A lot of times in this league, it's guilty until proven innocent sometimes and it's good to see guys be able to get a fair trial. Unfortunately, it had to go so long, but it is what it is."
Sherman said the profile of Brady's case could lead to changes in player discipline cases, but "just like players don't like change, neither do owners."
Sherman, one of Seattle's representatives with the NFL Players Association, added that while collective bargaining agreement negotiations are years away, how discipline is handed will certainly be on the list of concerns for players.
"That's among a few things. Obviously a few players have been disciplined and re-disciplined and obviously we've seen how the trials have gone," Sherman said. "I think that, (among) a few other things, are in line for the next CBA and I'm sure the owners have their own list of things that they want to talk about. But that's a few years away."
GANG GREEN: The New York Jets are giving their fans another way to score on game days.
The team has kicked off a new feature to its Jets Rewards program by giving fans the ability to load money onto their rewards cards — Jets Cash — that can be spent at concession stands and retail spots at MetLife Stadium.
"For us, it's how do you create more convenience?" Jets President Neil Glat said. "Now, if you bring your card that has all of your tickets on it, so you can hopefully get in a little bit quicker, and you loaded money on it, you can spend at the stadium."
The Jets Rewards program was launched last year, providing fans with digital ticketing and the bonus aspect of earning rewards for attending preseason and regular-season games. Jets Cash is the second phase of the program, through a partnership with MasterCard that allows fans to use just one card to make all transactions at games.
Fans who enroll get $20 in "bonus bucks" as a gift, and another $20 from MasterCard if they use one of their cards. There's also an auto-reload feature that can be activated to be sure that the card always has money on it, and fans get another 5 percent of the reload amount in bonus bucks if they use a MasterCard.
"We're trying to make it interesting for people financially with a little bit of the 'bonus bucks,'" Glat said. "But it's more the convenience and you don't have to deal with cash or signing for a credit card."
Some NFL teams are using similar aspects — digital ticketing, rewards or cash components — but the Jets believe they're the first to use all three. Glat said the team will also continue to evolve the program over the next few years.
"The Jets Rewards program, we got positive feedback on, and we also got constructive feedback with fans saying, 'We want more stuff,'" Glat said. "That's great. From our vantage point, it's working, but there's an incentive on us to try to find more things the fans want."
FACEBOOK FANS: Seven months after Facebook pinpointed the number of users mentioning the Super Bowl worldwide (65 million), and who did the most talking (women ages 25-44), the social media giant is looking into sentiment analysis for sports.
Why not: sports ignite passion and people often express their opinions about their favorite teams — positively and negatively. All summer, users of Facebook who like an official NFL team page have been mentioning their teams in status updates, and the tallies are in.
Based on the percentage of positive posts made by fans of each team since July 22 out of all of the posts made about the team during that time period, the team in highest regard is Kansas City, followed by Miami, Minnesota, New Orleans and Tennessee. None made the playoffs last season.
The 10 least optimistic fan bases are San Diego, New England — yes the defending champion Patriots — Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Washington.
What about the haters out there posting negative comments about, say, the Patriots in the wake of the deflated footballs saga?
"Since this analysis looks at how fans of each team are feeling about their team, topics like 'Deflategate' aren't likely to impact our rankings significantly," says Robert D'Onofrio, Facebook's data editor. "The driving force behind the Patriots being on the 'least positive' top 10 list is not that (Tom) Brady haters were posting about cheating, but rather that Pats fans were worried about losing Brady for up to four games."
FANTASY RECEIVER: For Roddy White, football is the real thing. And a fantasy.
The veteran receiver of the Atlanta Falcons will host a weekly fantasy football show this season on SiriusXM. "Going Deep with Roddy White" is airing every Tuesday night (6 p.m.-8 p.m. ET) on the satellite radio network's Fantasy Sports channel. White and co-host John Hansen take calls from listeners and offer advice for drafts, trades, waiver wire moves and other fantasy football matters.
"It's the perfect place for me to connect with people who love fantasy sports as much as I do," says White, entering his 11th NFL season. "I've been playing fantasy football for years. Just like on the playing field, it's all about winning your matchup every week, and John Hansen and I will help our listeners do that."
The channel already has used former NFL running back Maurice Jones-Drew as a host.
"Roddy has been one of the league's most exciting and productive stars, and a favorite of fantasy football players," says Steve Cohen, SiriusXM's senior vice president of sports programming. "As an active player, he offers the kind of insight and perspective that you can't get anywhere else on radio."
FINALLY CATCHING ON: Receiver Greg Little survived the Bengals' final cuts, giving him another chance to show he really can hold onto the ball.
The Bengals signed him in the middle of last season after their receiving group was depleted. After three years in Cleveland, he would get to show he could be dependable. Little dropped the first pass thrown his way and ended up with six catches in six games for 69 yards.
The coaches saw enough to give him a chance to come to training camp and compete for a backup spot. He did well in preseason — nine catches for a team-high 145 yards, including a 42-yard reception.
"It's not where you're coming into a middle of the season and you're learning as you go," Little said. "There is a little bit more time to spend on the details of installations in training camp. I've never had a problem with learning any system."
How did he know he had made the team on cutdown day Saturday? He went to Paul Brown Stadium to work out, then went home. Nobody called or texted.
"There wasn't really a confirmation text," Little said. "Nothing came through. That's just how it is. I mean, I approach every day the same. I come in and get a workout in the morning and that's it."
BACK AT WORK: Ever since going to work as a graduate assistant at the University of Houston in 1969, Wade Phillips has spent just two years out of coaching: in 2001 and last year.
So, as he embarks on his 45th year on the sideline and 38th in the NFL, Denver's defensive coordinator is glad to be back doing what he loves.
"Last year, my wife complained because I watched eight games at once. She had to go in the other room," Phillips said. "I'm always excited about football. I watched a lot of it (last year) and I think I learned some things, even just watching all the teams play and how they played. I'm ready to get back in it with both feet."
AP Pro Football Writers Arnie Stapleton, Barry Wilner and Teresa Walker and AP Sports Writers Tim Booth, Joe Kay and Dennis Waszak Jr. contributed.