Arguing that "football has become the site of perhaps the gravest health crisis in the history of sports," lawyers for thousands of former NFL players asked a judge to reject the league's bid to dismiss their lawsuits about concussions.

In a brief filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, the players dispute the league's framing of the cases as a labor issue that should be governed by the sport's collective bargaining agreements instead of the legal system.

Among the players' arguments: Relevant CBAs did not address long-term brain injuries, the NFL committed fraud by concealing risks of repeated head trauma, and the league has a common-law duty to protect players.

VILMA TAKES EMAIL TO COURT: The attorney for New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma has gone to court in the bounties case with an email from a former assistant coach who called the Saints a "dirty organization."

The email from Mike Cerullo to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello is part of a filing that seeks to block former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue from hearing appeals of the alleged program to pay for injury-producing hits.

It is designed to back up Vilma's claim that Cerullo had a vendetta against Saints interim coach Joe Vitt.

VICK REMAINS STARTER FOR EAGLES: Michael Vick will remain the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Coach Andy Reid announced the decision on Wednesday.

Vick, the four-time Pro Bowl quarterback, has struggled this season and Philadelphia (3-4) has lost three straight games.

Reid didn't endorse Vick after Sunday's 30-17 loss to Atlanta, saying he's going to evaluate all his starters. Vick then said he would support whatever decision Reid makes.

MANNING SAYS THUMB SORE BUT OK: Peyton Manning's right thumbnail was covered with white tape and put under a media microscope upon his return to the football field Wednesday.

The tape didn't wrap all the way around his thumb, leaving him able to grip the football like normal, and teammates said his throws and handoffs at practice were unaffected by his injury in his first action since smacking his throwing hand on a defender's helmet Sunday night.

Manning said after practice that his thumb was "sore, but it's more of an irritant than anything else."

JAGUARS' MULARKEY UNAWARE OF ANY TEBOW TRADE TALKS: The Jacksonville Jaguars are back in the middle of Tim Tebow talks again.

Though this time, they say the reports are not true.

A local television station reported that the Jaguars and the New York Jets were talking about a trade involving the popular quarterback.

The report by Action News in Jacksonville sounded plausible since the Jaguars tried to acquire Tebow in March. But Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey said Wednesday there are no discussions "that I am aware of."

REDSKINS' GARCON, MERIWEATHER LIKELY OUT THIS WEEK: Washington Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon and safety Brandon Meriweather are unlikely to play again this week, postponing their return until after the bye.

Garcon did not practice Wednesday as the team began workouts ahead of Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers. He has missed five of the last seven games with a torn toe ligament in his right foot.

Meriweather, who has yet to play this season, was limited in practice with sprained ligaments in his left knee and is a "long shot" to take the field against the Panthers, according to coach Mike Shanahan.

Thursday Night Football

Chiefs (1-6) at Chargers (3-4)

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Chiefs (1-6) at Chargers (3-4)

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego

Today, 6 p.m.

TV: NFL Radio: AM-1280

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