Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fans jump in the fray

Amidst the madness of the NFL vs. players fight, one fan is climbing into the ring as well.

A Cleveland Browns fan sued the National Football League and its teams over the player lockout, claiming it violated his contract to buy tickets through his personal seat license. ...

The lawsuit asked for damages of more than $25,000 from the Browns on both breach of contract and bad faith counts and more than $25,000 from the league and its teams for alleged contract interference.

I doubt this goes anywhere. But if it does - and it certainly could if games are missed - it's quite an interesting angle on things.


Friday, March 18, 2011

More on the "draft strike"

Patrick wrote about this a bit below. But something in this Peter King article has struck me about this as being beyond the ridiculous stupidity of the whole situation (which is, let's admit, ridiculously stupid).

Let's start here:

One agent with several prospective first-round picks thinks it will, telling me this morning: "What is the first round of the draft for the NFL? It's a TV show, a show that makes the league a lot of money. They're going to be asking young men to shake the hand of a commissioner [Roger Goodell] who is trying to lock them out. They're going to be asking young men to help the league put on this big TV production. And I can tell you this: There're a few quarterbacks who could get picked high in this draft and the NFL will invite to New York. All those quarterbacks would do by attending the draft for the NFL is giving DeMarcus Ware more incentive to knock their blocks off the first time they line up across the line of scrimmage from him.''

I'm sorry, really? DeMarcus Ware is going to not really play that hard against the guys that support the NFLPA, but if Gabbert goes to the draft itself, he's gonna actually try to get to him? Cause there's only one argument to be made here that I buy...that players want to injure the other players that don't support them. And that sort of behavior should never be condoned. I don't buy it'll happen, and I don't buy someone showing to the draft rather than the player's draft will cause players to go harder in game.

Let's jump back a minute though, to this note:

The decertified union is looking into getting veterans from every team to show up in New York, so that when the college players are drafted, they'll all have a future teammate, not the commissioner, greet them.

Now, why on earth, if you're a player - assuming you believe that no one will be out to injure you on the field as a result of your decision - would you prefer to piss off the guys that are going to pay you your check?

I grasp the concept of worker solidarity. But this seems like it'd be a stupid move for the prospects, to spit in the league and owner's face and go meet with fellow players at the draft itself. In my job, if I'm given a choice to piss off the company that pays my salary, and piss off a few of my coworkers, that's not really a tough choice for me. Maybe I'm in the minority there? But I want a paycheck. I want my paycheck to be as big as it can be. I don't want my employer thinking I'm not worthy of getting paid because I've got attitude issues.

Where's the up-side in this?


Thursday, March 17, 2011

New safety rules being considered

Ah, even with owners and players taking pot-shots at each other out of spite (I'm doing my best to avoid writing a whole post on the idiocy that is Adrian Peterson), we still cannot get away from the issue of player safety.

You have to roll to the second page of this article, but there are some pretty interesting pieces of information in it about proposals for rule changes that should make many of the more dangerous plays less likely to cause injuries.

Next week at their annual meeting, owners will consider a rules proposal to make one of football’s most dangerous plays, kickoffs, safer. Among the changes: moving the kickoff line to the 35-yard line from the 30, which would probably increase the number of touchbacks and decrease the number of returns. After a touchback, the ball would be placed at the 25 instead of the 20, where it currently goes to start a drive.

The rule change would also eliminate all wedges used in blocking and would not allow any member of the kickoff team except the kicker to line up more than 5 yards from the kickoff line. Currently, players line up as far as 15 yards behind the line to get a running start. The out of bounds penalty would be 25 yards from the kickoff line, the 40-yard line of the receiving team), instead of 30 yards from the line as it is now.

I can hear the grumbling from fans already, but the reality is that this really would remove a lot of dangerous plays from the game. Yes, we would lose several electric Devin Hester returns. And it would mean teams like the Chargers likely wouldn't miss out on the playoffs because the horror that is their special teams unit wouldn't likely off-set the incredible offense and defense they have.

But I'm sorry, if that keeps more players healthier, I'm for it. It's one of several steps needed to be taken in order to improve this game and the safety of the players involved, but it's a pretty big one (especially since it's a complete reversal of the rule to move the ball back in order to increase the likelihood of a return, instituted a few years ago). And regardless of fan grumbling about it now, two years from now, no one will likely remember it and say "Remember when we used to have all these kickoff returns before the NFL ruined itself?"


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Top Prospects Boycotting NFL Draft

Question: If the NFL holds a draft and a handful of athletes dressed up like Huggy Bear don't come does anyone really care?

Answer: No. It will make the coverage a lot more interesting except for people who like to watch posse wannabees stroke their instant millionaire buddies.

"We plan to invite the 15-20 top prospects and their families to New York as we normally do for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. And, as always, it is the decision of the players and their families as to whether they attend," league spokesman Greg Aiello said in response to the report.

Although it no longer represents players, the NFLPA still exists "as a professional trade association with the mission of supporting the interests and rights of current and former professional football players," it said after decertifying.

Hard to understand where the interests of NFL players are served by passing on an all-expense paid vacation and enormous personal marketing opportunity. Seems like this is a negotiating ploy from a union that no longer exists.


Friday, March 11, 2011


Watching Pash on TV right now, which is interesting...

- Claimed that the Union went into this with the intention to decertify and was never serious about negotiations (personal opinion: if that were true, they wouldn't have agreed to the two deadline extensions, right?).
- Claimed they offered the Union to meet in the middle of compensation the first year, grow it $20MM each year and then hit the Union's proposed number by 2014.
- Claimed they offered more than one year of injury guaranteed on player contract.
- Claimed they offered to move off their wage scale, doing a hard rookie cap.
- Claimed they offered cash team minimum at the Union's structure and number.
- Claimed they told the Union that for two years they'd stay at 16 games and would not change to 18 games without their consent.
- Claimed they offered to reduce off-season program by 5 weeks, reducing practice time in pre-season and contact drills in regular season.
- Claimed they offered to increase benefits for current and retired players. Pre-'93 retired players would have benefit increases of close to 60%.

He said much of this was paid for by the hard rookie cap which wouldn't have impacted the second round. More money out of the rookies in the first round pays for what they want for the rest of it.

"The absence of an agreement is a shared failure."


Friday, March 4, 2011

Crazy proposal idea

I make no bones about being a Steve Czaban fanboi. I really enjoy his morning show, not only to scratch my sports itch but also for the humor. But one of the better parts of the show is that Czabe isn't scared of throwing out some pretty wild ideas, some of which I like and some I hate.

So it came to pass that last night he posted a 3-part proposal for a new NFL CBA that I thought was interesting enough to dig into deeper. I'm actually going to list these backward, because the first proposal he made is the most interesting, and most controversial.
- Basic revenue split remains the same.
- Rosters increase by 6 per team. Playoffs are 7 teams each conference, only the top seed gets a bye.
- Regular season goes to 18 games. Two bye weeks. All players - with exemptions for P/K and possibly QB - can play a maximum of 16 regular season games.

Clearly that last sentence is controversial. I'd like to dig into the pros and cons of it a bit more.

First, note that within the argument, nowhere does it say that you have to sit a healthy guy two games if he sits two earlier games because he's hurt/suspended/whatever. Yeah, Czabe worded it that way on his twitter feed. But he clarified on the radio that's not the intent. If a guy sits the first six weeks from injury, he's not going to be forced to sit.

Obviously the argument out of the gate would be, "You're watering down the product making guys sit two weeks!" Well, that's partially true. Here's the thing. If every team is forced to sit their guys, maybe the overall level of play goes down some. But it's still an even playing field for all teams.

Some season ticket holders might argue that they don't want to pay to see a watered down game. That may be a valid argument, but as such a fan, would you really be that much more pissed off than being forced to pay for one game that's completely meaningless? My season ticket prices won't really go up any (or, at least, they shouldn't). And now I get nine meaningful games instead of eight. That's a big difference in value to me...more than enough to cover the fact that the product MIGHT be watered down just a little bit.

Let's explore that "might" for a moment...

One side of the argument suggests that it's more likely players may be injured in this scenario. Stick an 18 game QB back behind a backup OL for two games, and he's more likely to get himself hurt. Meh, maybe I can see that.

But there's another argument that says the players should actually be healthier...less likely to be injured under this new scenario. Today, players play 16 games with one week of rest. In this scenario, players play 16 games with FOUR weeks of rest. That could be a pretty big difference, allowing players to nurse minor injuries, keep them more fresh down the stretch and help prevent those minor injuries from turning into major ones.

As such, there's at least an argument to be made that something like this could ENHANCE the level of play on the field. So many teams by the end of the year are walking M*A*S*H units. The Packers are a good example, with 15 players winding up on IR (though easily arguable that forced two games of rest would not have made a huge difference for them) by the end of the year. If even only 5% - 10% of the players are able to play the entire season due to the extra rest, the level of play on field down the stretch - the most exciting time of the year - is even better than it has been in the past.

I'm not saying this WOULD happen. It's simply a possibility. And teams have to deal with guys sitting anyway, for a variety of reasons. Realistically, I think it all would net out about even in the end. And if it's net even, or even if very slightly negative, the positive additional two regular season games certainly outweighs that down-side.

All in all I like the idea. It's too radical to ever actually be implemented. But I think it's a pretty good idea, even if just on paper.


Thursday, March 3, 2011


Ahh... Goodellmagedon has been postponed a day!

Actually, it's interesting to me that it's only a day they postponed it. I would think if they were extremely far apart, they'd have extended it longer. My hope is that this is a sign they're actually closing in on something, and we have a shot at a new deal being in place by the end of the weekend.


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