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Today in sports: The Wall Street Journal knows what the Patriots and Giants did last summer, the NFL is adding more Thursday night games, and Peyton Manning's doctor clears him to resume playing.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell gave his annual "state of the league" address on Friday. Such speeches are usually perfunctory and kind of boring, but this one was full of actual news: Goodell's biggest revelation was that the league-owned NFL Network will air 13 games on Thursday night next season, up from eight this year. (Time Warner Cable subscribers, feel free to begin mumbling obscenities.) He also walked back comments he made to Bob Costas last night about the possibility of giving Los Angeles an expansion franchise, declaring -- somewhat unconvincingly -- "We want to keep our teams where they are." He wants to play an exhibition game in Mexico, and mustered a defense of the much-maligned London game, which he insists is part of a well-planned "global strategy," rather than an ingenious plot to inconvenience teams and turn the English off the idea of American football forever. [NFL.com]

Speaking of the London game: Wembley Stadium has halted ticket sales for the scheduled October game between the New England Patriots and St. Louis Rams, since the city of St. Louis is continuing to insist the Rams would be in violation of their lease if they played a "home" game anywhere but the Edward Jones Dome. The NFL UK Web site -- which is fantastic -- posted a statement insisting that the delay was would enable the league and St. Louis to "finalise the technical amendments to the lease required under the terms of the Rams' commitment to London," but Goodell seemed less optimistic. "We're going to play the London games," he said. 'We hope it will be with the Rams and Patriots next year."  [Sky Sports]

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski killed any remaining will-he-or-won't-he-play Super Bowl drama when he forgot to wear his protective boot to media day. Now Patriots team sources are quietly saying, yes, the guy everyone expected to play will in fact play. [ESPN.com]

The Wall Street Journal attributes the success of the Giants and Patriots this year to the way their respective front office staffs handled those first two weeks in July after the NFL lockout ended. The basic premise is that clubs with a disciplined approach to free agency are more consistently competitive than their free-spending rivals, but it's striking to learn how unprepared the majority of teams -- particularly the Philadelphia Eagles -- were to condense an offseason worth of roster moves into the space of several weeks last summer. New England and New York didn't make any earth-shattering football decisions during those two weeks: They just knew how to manage the workflow. [The Wall Street Journal]

ESPN reported last night that Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has been "medically cleared by two doctors" to resume football activities, which was news to Colts owner Jim Irsay, who went on Twitter at 1:25 a.m. to inform the world that Manning "has not passed our physical nor has he been cleared to play for The Indianapolis Colts." What makes this all fantastically silly is that, according to the ESPN report, Colts neurosurgeon Dr. Hank Feuer was one of the two doctors who gave the quarterback a clean bill of health. But while a spokesman for Manning's surgeon issued a statement confirming that he'd cleared Manning, Feuer's diagnosis, according to a source who by process of elimination is either Manning or his agent Tom Condon, consisted of telling the quarterback during a recent meeting, "If you were my own son, I'd tell [you] to go play." That doesn't amount to "official" medical clearance (we don't think), but it's an effective way of putting Irsay on notice that the detente they agreed to last Friday is already over. [ESPN]

A British lady named Louise Neathway was arrested in New York City and booked on charges of harassing and trying to extort cash from Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who she claims to have had an affair with. According to a police source, Neathway -- who "also goes by the name Louise Meanwell," per the Daily News -- was arrested in Tribeca Wednesday afternoon after the diminutive general manager helped "lure [her] into a police dragnet." [New York Daily News]

Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, who lost the first eight years of his career to alcohol and cocaine, fell off the wagon for the second time in three years earlier this week at a Dallas-area bar, downing -- by his count -- three of four drinks. For Hamilton, the timing couldn't have been worse -- he's entering the final year of his contract and is reportedly seeking a six-year extension worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $120 million. Nobody knows how this impacts the team's thinking, but it's worth noting that Hamilton was not joined by general manager Jon Daniels, club president Nolan Ryan, or the team's newly hired "accountability coach" at his Friday press conference. [The Dallas Morning News]

University of Connecticut men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun is taking an indefinite leave of absence after being diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a degenerative spine condition that leads to horrific lower-back problems. For what it's worth, we were 10 rows behind the UConn bench during their loss to Georgetown on Wednesday and Calhoun really, really looked like a guy with a bad back. [AP]

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