Notebook: Bills hire former Vikings LBs coach

Fred Pagac joined some of his fellow former Vikings coaches by finding employment elsewhere. The Buffalo Bills hired Pagac. Plus, a Minnesota orangutan will predict the Super Bowl winner, a white powder mailed to hotels near the Super Bowl appears harmless and HGH testing is still being worked out.

The Buffalo Bills have started filling out their defensive staff under new coordinator Jim Schwartz by hiring Pepper Johnson and Fred Pagac.

Johnson takes over as defensive line coach, overseeing a group featuring three Pro Bowl selections, including Mario Williams. Johnson stays in the AFC East after spending the past 14 seasons as a New England Patriots assistant.

Pagac has 13 seasons of NFL coaching experience. He will coach linebackers, the same role he held in seven of the past eight seasons with Minnesota.

Both assistant coaches reached deals Friday, becoming the first additions to a retooled defensive staff under Schwartz, who was hired last week.

Schwartz replaced coordinator Mike Pettine, who left to become head coach of the Cleveland Browns and took many of his assistants with him.

AMANDA THE ORANGUTAN TO MAKE SUPER BOWL CALL

A prognosticating orangutan at a Minnesota zoo is about to give her pick for the winner of Sunday's Super Bowl.

Amanda the Orangutan will make her prediction Saturday at Como Zoo in St. Paul.

The ape will be given the choice of a Seattle Seahawks or a Denver Broncos shirt. Zookeepers say she'll don the shirt of the team she believes will win Super Bowl XLVIII.

The pick will happen at Como Park's Primate House.

SUPER BOWL POWDER APPEARS HARMLESS

A suspicious powder mailed to several locations in New York and New Jersey, including at least five hotels near the site of Sunday's Super Bowl, appears not to be dangerous, the FBI said Friday.

The agency said further testing was being conducted on the substance, but it is "within normal values."

White powder also was found in a letter sent to former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's business in New York City, where police said preliminary tests showed it posed no threat.

A federal law enforcement official, who wasn't authorized to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said powder from one envelope tested positive for baking soda. It's not clear where that letter was sent.

Hackensack University Medical Center received a number of people for evaluation because they came in contact with the letters, but a hospital spokeswoman said there were no reported illnesses or injuries.

In New Jersey, the suspicious mailings went to at least five hotels, Carlstadt Police Detective John Cleary said.

The mailings arrived at an Econo Lodge in Carlstadt, a Homestead Suites hotel in East Rutherford and a Renaissance Inn in Rutherford, Cleary said. Investigators intercepted additional envelopes from a mail truck before they reached a Holiday Inn Express and Hampton Inn in Carlstadt, he said.

At the Homewood Suites, General Manager Thomas Martucci said the letter sent to his motel contained yellow powder and a typed letter inside referencing al-Qaida and the Dallas FBI.

"It was nonsense," he said.

Lauren Wallace, a jet company employee from Los Angeles staying at the Homewood Suites, said she saw hazardous-material trucks outside and was shooed back from the lobby to her room around 11:15 a.m. by a hotel employee. She said she was allowed out of her room about 40 minutes later.

Police were called to Giuliani's firm near Rockefeller Center after a worker opened the suspicious letter addressed to Giuliani around 10:30 a.m. Friday, police said. Eight mailroom workers underwent decontamination as a precaution.

A representative for Giuliani's firm said the substance was found to be nonhazardous.

HGH TESTING HELD UP BY APPEALS

When the Super Bowl ends, three complete seasons will have come and gone without testing for human growth hormone — even though the NFL and the players' union originally paved the way to check for that drug in August 2011.

NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said Thursday that HGH testing is still being held up by a disagreement with the league over whether the commissioner or a neutral arbitrator will handle certain types of appeals.

The union wants someone other than Commissioner Roger Goodell to rule on cases that involve violations of the law or demonstrated use of a performance-enhancing substance without a positive test.

"We believe that neutral arbitration … enhances and strengthens our system," Smith said at a news conference.

Otherwise, Smith said, "The HGH policy's done. It's been done. The drug policy overall is 98 percent done."

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said another outstanding issue is whether a second offense will draw a suspension of eight or 10 games.

"When there are continuing new demands (from the union), it is hard to get an agreement," McCarthy wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

The 10-year collective bargaining agreement signed 2½ years ago contained language that would allow for HGH testing once certain provisions could be settled.

On other topics he was asked about Thursday, Smith said:

  • The NFLPA hasn't seen a proposal from the league about expanding the number of teams in the playoffs and won't take a position on the issue until that happens.

  • The union and league have had "preliminary discussions" about the possibility of eventually allowing players to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.

  • The union is "nearly done" with its investigation into whether the Tampa Bay Buccaneers leaked information about quarterback Josh Freeman being in the NFL's substance abuse program.

  • He would "love to see a requirement that makes any player who wants to be eligible for the (NFL) draft … have had a mandatory number hours in financial literacy."

  • He supports plans to form the first labor union for college athletes.


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