Brett Favre has been fined $50,000 by the NFL for a "failure to cooperate" with its investigation into inappropriate messages and lewd photos he allegedly sent to former Jets employee Jenn Sterger, a decision her lawyer called extremely disappointing.
The league said Wednesday that commissioner Roger Goodell "could not conclude" that Favre violated the league's personal-conduct policy based on the evidence available to him.
"The forensic analysis could not establish that Favre sent the objectionable photographs to Sterger," the statement said. "The review found no evidence to contradict the statements of both Favre and Sterger that they never met in person, nor was there anything to suggest that Sterger engaged in any inappropriate conduct."
The decision comes a couple of weeks after Favre's NFL record for consecutive starts was snapped at 297 and ahead of the season finale for the 41-year-old Minnesota Vikings quarterback, who will play what may be his last game - if he's healthy enough.
Sanchez's status. Rex Ryan is unsure whether Mark Sanchez will play in the New York Jets' regular-season finale against the Buffalo Bills. The Jets coach said Wednesday he was leaning toward playing Sanchez "some," but might not make a decision on the sore-shouldered quarterback until before the game Sunday at the New Meadowlands Stadium. The Jets (10-5) have already clinched a playoff berth.
Sanchez says he's preparing to start, but was limited at practice with a sore right shoulder, the same ailment that bothered him last week. He was injured in the Jets' win at Pittsburgh on Dec. 19, but played well through it - as he did against Chicago last Sunday.
Fitzpatrick to go. Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been held out of practice to rest an assortment of aches and pains, but is expected to play in the team's season finale against the Jets.
Coach Chan Gailey said he wanted to give Fitzpatrick a day off. He anticipated the quarterback would return to practice Thursday.
Fitzpatrick has not missed a snap since taking over as starter in Week 3. He's provided the offense a semblance of identity despite the team's 4-11 record.
Niners' Willis out. 49ers Pro Bowl inside linebacker Patrick Willis underwent a second surgical procedure this week on his broken right hand. He will miss a start for the first time in his four-year career in Sunday's season finale against Arizona.
Willis, who played the last two games with a bulky cast on his hand, was voted to his fourth Pro Bowl on Tuesday. It's unclear if he will play for the NFC squad in the game at Honolulu on Jan. 30. Willis planned to talk to San Francisco's team doctors before making a decision. He missed the 2010 game with an inflamed right knee that later required surgery.
Meanwhile, interim coach Jim Tomsula has decided to go with Alex Smith over Troy Smith at quarterback for Sunday's game.
"Experience," Tomsula said of his reasoning.
Lion is fined. Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola said the team had fined him $15,000 for his actions after beating the Miami Dolphins.
Raiola was filmed responding to a fan in Miami with obscene words and a hand gesture as he walked off the field following the Lions' 34-27 win on Sunday.
Raiola, a team captain, said it wasn't a good way to conduct himself.
Raiola was fined $7,500 by the Lions two years ago for inappropriate conduct directed toward fans during a loss at home to Minnesota.
Backing Kubiak. Texans coach Gary Kubiak has two Houston football legends in his corner. Former Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips and ex-Oilers quarterback Dan Pastorini attended practice and urged team owner Bob McNair to retain Kubiak, despite the team's nosedive this season.
The Texans (5-10) have lost eight of their last nine games heading into Sunday's finale against Jacksonville. Kubiak is finishing his fifth season and fans are bombarding radio shows with calls that he be fired.
But the 87-year-old Phillips said Kubiak was "as good a coach as anybody's got." Pastorini said the Texans have to make "a few tweaks" but seem to be on the right track under Kubiak, who was a ball boy for the Oilers when Phillips and Pastorini were there.