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NFL Notes: Broncos’ McKinley owed big debt

Thu., Dec. 2, 2010, midnight

Denver Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley had a gambling problem and was deep in debt when he committed suicide on Sept. 21, friends and family told authorities during a probe into his death.

McKinley committed suicide with a gun he had purchased months before from teammate Jabar Gaffney, who told investigators McKinley wanted the weapon for his own protection, according to an investigative report by the Arapahoe (Colo.) County Sheriff’s Department. Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said there was nothing inappropriate about the sale of the gun.

Detectives also determined that McKinley had spoken about suicide with at least three of his friends, including former Broncos backup quarterback Tom Brandstater. Brandstater told investigators he had lent McKinley $65,000 and that McKinley owed $40,000 in casino markers in Las Vegas.

Hard-hitting tales

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison promises he’s not changing his aggressive style of play, even if the NFL and his own coach agree he must.

Harrison believes he is being unfairly targeted for hard hits that have drawn $125,000 in fines for four infractions since mid-October.

“It angers me, of course, that they’re taking absurd amounts of money from me for plays that I consider to be clean and legal hits,” Harrison said.

Meanwhile, Carolina Panthers safety Sherrod Martin is also paying a hefty price for the NFL’s crackdown on blows to the head. Martin said he’s been fined $40,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on tight end Evan Moore in Sunday’s loss to Cleveland, with the large penalty coming in part because he’s a repeat offender.

Around the league

A week after being replaced as the Raiders’ starting quarterback, Jason Campbell, is back in the lineup. With Bruce Gradkowski sidelined indefinitely after suffering another third-degree shoulder separation, Campbell will be Oakland’s starter this week against San Diego. … Kerry Collins returned to practice with the Tennessee Titans for the first time since straining his left calf Nov. 14, and the veteran quarterback has a chance to start Sunday against Jacksonville.

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