Tag Archive | "nflpa"

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Colts Hall of Fame TE John Mackey Passes Away at 69

Posted on 07 July 2011 by WNST Staff

NFL Players Association (NFLPA) Executive Director DeMaurice Smith confirmed Thursday morning via Twitter that former Baltimore Colts TE John Mackey had passed away overnight. Mackey was 69.

Mackey was selected in the 2nd round of the 1963 NFL Draft by the Colts out of Syracuse. He remained in Charm City until 1972, when he finished his career playing one season with the San Diego Chargers.

During his time in Baltimore, Mackey was a five time Pro Bowl selection (1963, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968) and three time All-Pro (1966, 1967, 1968).

He was a member of the Colts team that defeated the Dallas Cowboys 16-13 in Super Bowl V. In the game, he was involved in one of the more memorable plays in Super Bowl history, catching a twice deflected Johnny Unitas pass and scampering 75 yards for the Colts’ only TD of the game.

The Queens, NY native finished his career with 331 catches for 5,236 yards and 38 TD’s. He added 17 postseason catches for 296 yards and 2 TD’s. His career was sadly cut short due to leg and knee injuries.

Mackey was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992, becoming just the 2nd pure tight end to be elected (Mike Ditka). In 2010, the NFL Network listed Mackey 42nd on their list of the Top 100 players in league history, the highest ranking of a Tight End on the list.

In the later years of his life, Mackey endured a very public battle with dementia. In a 2007 interview with the Baltimore Sun, wife Sylvia Mackey (who was taking care of Mackey in the later years of his life) said Mackey asked her “Who’s that wearing my number?” when watching Marvin Harrison of the Indianapolis Colts on television. (Harrison wore #88 in Indy, the same number Mackey wore in Baltimore.)

In response to his health battles, the league and NFLPA  created the “88 Plan”, providing retired players with up to $88,000 per year for medical and custodial care resulting from dementia, including Alzheimer’s. Mackey served as NFLPA President from 1969-1973, he was succeeded by former Colts teammate Bill Curry.

As more details are available regarding Mackey’s passing, we will make them available via AM1570 WNST and WNST.net. Also stay tuned to AM1570 Thursday, as we will chat with folks who knew Mackey well.

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Trial balloon floated by NFL owners

Posted on 21 June 2011 by Chris Pika

For several weeks, there have been precious little details on what the NFL owners and players have shared between themselves on a framework of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Even during the “secret” talks between the sides over the last three weeks with U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan as mediator, nothing was revealed.

That changed today as ESPN.com’s Chris Mortenson reported on what the NFL owners are proposing as their potential two-day meeting heads to a one-day conclusion in Chicago before talks between the owners and players resume later this week.

The quick outline, based on Mortenson’s report:

  • Players receive 48 percent of all revenue
  • Owners will not take $1 billion cost credit off the top as in past CBA
  • Owners will get some credits for stadium construction
  • Rookie wage scale will be included, but adjustments are still being made
  • Teams must spend between 90-93 percent of salary cap
  • The proposed 18-game regular-season schedule is negotiable, not mandated
  • New 16-game Thursday night TV package in 2012 to be revenue driver
  • Retired players to get increased health and pension funding

Also, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, when an agreement is reached, those unsigned players who have been in free-agent limbo with four, five and six years of service will be unrestricted free agents, and the franchise tag will still be in existence.

A good deal tends to be where both sides give a little and leave not getting everything. If this is the eventual framework, the players take a lesser percentage of all revenues (below 50 percent), owners can’t take as much off the top as they wanted and teams have to spend more of the cap.

This is the key trial balloon, as whoever leaked the info to Mortenson had to have done so with some blessing of league higher-ups. Now we wait for the players’ reaction and the negotiations to restart soon.

There is a long way to go — and a lot can still go wrong — but this is the first real hope of a resumption of NFL football since the owners locked out the players in mid-March after talks broke down.

For up-to-date Tweets on the NFL and the Ravens, please follow me on Twitter (@BlogAndTackle). For more national NFL stories, please visit my personal site at BlogAndTackle.net.

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Mocking The 53: A Positional Breakdown of Ravens Roster

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Mocking The 53: A Positional Breakdown of Ravens Roster

Posted on 08 June 2011 by Glenn Clark

Here is my first offseason/preseason ranking of the players who are currently property of the Baltimore Ravens or who were property of the team at the end of the 2010 season.

This list INCLUDES players who are not under contract-whether they are tendered restricted free agents, draft picks, exclusive rights free agents or even players who are expected to reach unrestricted free agency this offseason.

Unlike in the past, I will do this list by position as I attempt to further explain how the team’s roster currently shapes up.

I apologize for my delay in putting this compilation together. Blame Gary Williams…and the Triple Crown…and the team’s practices at Towson University…and my own laziness.

Obviously there is much to be done before any of this matters, but this is simply “as the roster stands now” analysis.

Quarterbacks (4):
Joe Flacco
Marc Bulger (UFA)
Tyrod Taylor
Hunter Cantwell

tyrod

The quarterback position is still in much less than full clarity at this point.

Joe Flacco has been a NFL quarterback for  55 games, including the playoffs. Joe Flacco has played every snap in 55 of those 55 games.

A season ago, the Ravens took a slight risk by parting ways with two backups-trading John Beck to the Washington Redskins during Training Camp and releasing Troy Smith after the preseason finale in St. Louis. They decided to carry only two active quarterbacks, paying a hefty price for veteran backup Marc Bulger.

Bulger appears to be out in Charm City, with most in the league believing he is destined to sign with the Arizona Cardinals. The Ravens knew they’d need to address quarterback depth during the draft and did so by selecting the explosive former Virginia Tech Hokies star (Taylor-pictured above) in the 6th round.

While Taylor (who hails from the quarterback hotbed of Hampton, Virginia) certainly has a number of supporters who believe him capable of being a legitimate starter in the league-he will not play that role in Baltimore unless there is turmoil this season one way or another (injury or failure).

Flacco is the starter. Taylor will have a great chance of making the roster. The real question facing the team is how else to address the position. It is believed that the Ravens will pursue another veteran QB of sorts when (if?) free agency finally begins. Miami Dolphins QB Chad Pennington has been a much rumored name the team could consider pursuing.

Should the Ravens not acquire a veteran free agent to backup Flacco, Cantwell could remain in the mix. He spent the entire 2010 season on the team’s practice squad-but has in the past been an active part of the Carolina Panthers’ roster.

With Taylor unlikely to be let go (or placed at risk of being taken away by trying to move him to the practice squad) but also unlikely to be the primary backup early in his career, it is fairly safe to assume the team will keep three quarterbacks this season.

Running Backs/Fullbacks (8):
Ray Rice
Le’Ron McClain
Willis McGahee
Jalen Parmele
Matt Lawrence
Jason McKie
Anthony Allen
Curtis Steele

parmele

Rice is obviously the team’s “featured” back. The issue for Cam Cameron’s offense this offseason is figuring out how to complement the fourth year back moving forward.

The worst kept secret in football is that the Ravens intend to part ways with McGahee because he is unwilling to take a cut from the $6 million he is owed. Should McGahee find the market slim there would always be a chance he could look towards Baltimore again, but it certainly appears unlikely.

With McGahee apparently gone, the Ravens will have to build their backfield without him. One option is McClain, who had his best season yet as a true fullback in 2010 (despite the fact that he was actually passed over for Pro Bowl recognition by Houston Texans FB Vonta Leach) but who has made clear his desire to carry the football more often.

McClain was initially thought to be on the cusp of reaching free agency this offseason (and departing), but without a new CBA McClain (and other fourth and fifth year players) would likely remain under contract. McClain’s size and potential goal line/short distance ability make him potentially a solid complement for Rice.

Should the Ravens move McClain into that role, they would likely need to consider keeping McKie or otherwise improving the fullback position. McKie was a non-factor during his brief stay at the end of the 2010 season-but could be a viable option in a thin market.

Parmele (pictured above) is the wild card in the backfield. The coaching staff has remained high on him throughout his time in Baltimore (and he has connections with Cameron dating back to the Dolphins). Parmele has remained a value special teams player (and is a viable return option), but he has run the ball only seven times in his career.

Lawrence, Allen and Steele are all question marks (and possibly longshots) to make the roster. Lawrence is a talented special teams player but missed the 2010 season with a torn ACL. Allen (the team’s 7th round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft) is hoping his 6’1″, 228 pound frame is enough to get him on the roster. Steele spent the 2010 season on the practice squad after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Memphis. The team liked his quick hitting ability, but he will have an uphill climb-especially if there is no Training Camp.

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Can We All Agree That We Just Don’t Give A Crap About Anything Vinny Cerrato Says?

Posted on 01 June 2011 by Glenn Clark

This one will earn me a dirty look or two in the future.

Then again, it might also earn me a place in the heart of Washington Redskins fans who have been pissed off ever since I (rightly) stated that John Riggins shouldn’t be filming commercials at M&T Bank Stadium.

(Of course, these are the same fans that tell me they simply don’t care about the Baltimore Ravens but then lustily booed Head Coach John Harbaugh when he was shown on screen at Verizon Center before a Washington Capitals playoff game. Losers. But this isn’t about them. I’ll move on.)

No, this is about another brilliant move by CBS Radio Baltimore at 105.7 The Fan. And before you say “Glenn, why would you bother to write about what they’re doing on another radio station?”, let me point out that this is about much more than that.

Frankly, I’ve never actually heard former Skins executive Vinny Cerrato on the air at 105.7. I am aware that he is currently co-hosting a nightly football show on the station, but like EVERY OTHER SPORTS FAN IN CHARM CITY, if I’m in the car at night in Baltimore I’m either listening to the Orioles game or my Ipod. WBAL and Steve Jobs can thank me for the respective plugs later.

A minor controversy was started in Charm City when Cerrato told Baltimore Sun writer Ken Murray the following about the fact that Ravens 1st round pick CB Jimmy Smith did not attend last week’s voluntary player workouts at Towson University.

“That’s a red flag. He should have been here.”

As I said all week on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, the criticism was absolutely baseless. The workouts were offense intensive, with QB Joe Flacco, RB Ray Rice and WR’s Derrick Mason and Anquan Boldin using the time to get to know their new teammates and introducing them to the team’s offensive playbook. There were no Offensive Linemen in attendance and the defensive players in attendance were mostly locally-based, including Maryland native CB’s Domonique Foxworth and Josh Wilson.

Jimmy Smith is based out of California, making it at least slightly inconvenient to get to Baltimore. Rookie DE Pernell McPhee (the team’s 5th round pick out of Mississippi State) told the National Football Post he was not even invited to the workouts at Unitas Stadium. While Smith has not been made available for comment about the faux controversy, none of his teammates seemed to be upset about the fact that he wasn’t present.

In fact, fellow rookie Torrey Smith (the former Maryland WR who is also represented by Drew Rosenhaus) took to Twitter after getting word of Cerrato’s comments to say the following…

“folks need to leave Jimmy alone for not coming to workouts this week..It was mainly offensive players…he didn’t miss a thing”

Agreed.

I said two more things last week about this stupid fake controversy. One is that if there was a player who MAY have deserved criticism, it was FB Le’Ron McClain. Should this dispute between the National Football League and NFLPA result in the 2011 season being played under 2010 rules, McClain would not reach free agency and would be back in Baltimore. Given that he’s spent a lot of time in Charm City this offseason, it puzzled me that he wasn’t able to attend.

The other point I offered about the situation was that by exonerating Jimmy Smith for not being in attendance at Towson, I wasn’t trying to suggest that he might not be a bad guy. He certainly has a bad track record, and hasn’t gone out of his way publicly to rebuild his image in Baltimore since his initial press conference. In fact, I think Harbaugh made the most telling statement when he told Drew Forrester in a recent interview on AM1570 WNST, “It’s worth the risk. A lot of people had him off the board and I understand why. He’s gonna have to make wise choices.”

Jimmy Smith MIGHT be a bad guy. But he’s certainly not a bad guy because he didn’t attend the workouts last week. That really couldn’t have been more irrelevant.

This really isn’t about Jimmy Smith either though.

This is about Cerrato-who pointlessly generated traction with his meaningless comments. Comments that some of us in attendance last Tuesday at Unitas Stadium told him were baseless. Comments that Ravens LB Jameel McClain dismissed when Cerrato asked him about Smith’s absence that day.

And comments that absolutely no one in Baltimore should care about…at all. Ever.

Cerrato’s presence in Baltimore is ridiculous to begin with. As they’ve so often done before, CBS Radio has shown how little they understand about this sports market. Cerrato has absolutely no background in Baltimore and is best known for the decade plus he spent working for Dan Snyder in DC, an organization fans in Baltimore have absolutely no respect for.

What’s worse is the utter lack of success Cerrato had during his time with the Skins. The organization reached the playoffs just three times during his tenure, winning the NFC East only one-his first year (1999). They never finished with more than ten wins and were the subject of significant criticism for their failure to draft and develop talented players (three times the team had no first round pick, other picks included QB Patrick Ramsey and WR Rod Gardner) and their insistence on signing overpaid and/or aging veterans (Bruce Smith, Deion Sanders and a $100 million deal for Albert Haynesworth come to mind).

Cerrato was especially disliked by Washington fans because of the perception that his employment was based on a willingness to simply play the part for Snyder as the team failed miserably on and off the field. This was well documented in a 2005 column by the Washington Post’s Mike Wise, where Cerrato acknowledged the frustration of the fanbase. ”People say I do nothing, that I only keep my job because I’m the owner’s friend” he told the columnist. “I do have a national championship ring and a Super Bowl ring, you know.”

Cerrato was accurate, as Wise pointed out at the time. He was the recruiting coordinator on Lou Holtz’s 1988 Championship staff at Notre Dame, and he was the Director of College Scouting for the San Francisco 49ers when they won Super Bowl XXIX.

That was 1994. His resume since that time is particularly unimpressive.

It’s all the more reason why Cerrato’s hiring by the folks at CBS here in Baltimore is questionable at best. Baltimore sports fans have absolutely no connection to Cerrato whatsoever, and his resume doesn’t demand for fans to respect his opinions about their beloved franchise.

Perhaps none of us should have been surprised when Sun columnist Kevin Van Valkenburg said the following about Cerrato Monday night via Twitter…

“On radio, Vinny Cerrato keeps calling Haloti Ngata: “Nuh-gah-ta.” Hard to believe the Skins weren’t better with this details man in charge.”

Lord.

It isn’t Vinny Cerrato’s fault that the folks at CBS don’t understand why he shouldn’t be on the air in Baltimore. Their Vice President of Programming (Dave LaBrozzi) is one of the biggest Pittsburgh Steelers fans I have ever met in my life. He couldn’t know what Baltimore Ravens fans want to hear because he’s…well…the exact opposite of a Baltimore Ravens fan.

An admitted Washington Redskins fan called Drew and I last week and made a very legitimate point. Should Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome retire this offseason and choose to do local market radio in Washington, it wouldn’t be hard for Redskins fans to accept him. He had a Hall of Fame career as a Tight End for the Cleveland Browns and has had arguably another Hall of Fame career as an executive.

Cerrato was a forgettable QB/WR for Iowa State and a miserable executive for a team most folks in Baltimore have a particular disdain for.

There’s no acceptable reason for anyone in this town to care about anything Cerrato thinks or says.

I’m sorry Vinny. You seemed like a nice guy when we met. I bet you’d be really good working for ESPN’s Scouts Inc. or the Sporting News War Room or an outlet like that.

But for the role of a sports talk show host who is expected to give “expert” opinions about the Baltimore Ravens is concerned, you’re simply misplaced. As your fellow CBS employee Ian Eagle would say, “It’s not a low blow. It’s just a fact.”

I know some folks who I’ll eventually have to see in Owings Mills (or Westminster or wherever something football-related happens next) won’t like this. I’m sorry. A lot of you who understand this market know I’m right. Some of you have already told me that.

And someone will probably call me hypocritical for writing 1400+ words about a subject I’m suggesting no one should care about. Perhaps they’re right. I’ll promise to never spend another sentence writing about the subject again. Probably.

But otherwise I’ll assume we’re in agreement. Moving forward, no one cares about anything Cerrato says.

Right?

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Live From Towson: (Some) Ravens Gather to “Practice” During Lockout

Posted on 24 May 2011 by Glenn Clark

TOWSON, Md. — Members of the Baltimore Ravens gathered Tuesday at Unitas Stadium on the campus of Towson University for an unofficial practice. It was the first large gathering of Ravens players since the National Football League and the NFL Players Association failed to come to terms on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and a lockout was implemented by league owners.

The practices were organized by WR Derrick Mason (the team’s NFLPA representative) and are scheduled to run through Thursday. None of the week’s practices were open for public viewing, but Tuesday’s was open to reporters.

26 players participated in Tuesday’s practice. Offensive players in attendance were Mason, QB Joe Flacco, QB Tyrod Taylor, QB Hunter Cantwell, RB Ray Rice, RB Anthony Allen, TE Davon Drew, TE Dennis Pitta, WR Anquan Boldin, WR Torrey Smith, WR Tandon Doss, WR Justin Harper and WR James Hardy. Defensive players in attendance were DL Cory Redding, DT Arthur Jones, DT Brandon McKinney, DT Lamar Divens, LB Jameel McClain, LB Jarret Johnson, CB Domonique Foxworth, CB Josh Wilson and S Haruki Nakamura. Special teamers in attendance were K Billy Cundiff, P Sam Koch and LS Morgan Cox.

Mason told reporters following practice he wasn’t sure if any other players would be arriving to participate later in the week.

The practice was very light, with some running and conditioning drills; as well as some route running and passing drills with coverage. The conditioning drills were lead by Mack James, a trainer Rice works out with. The passing drills were lead by Flacco.

PR STUNT?: While many fans and analysts have been quick to suggest this week’s practices were merely a public relations stunt, but the players believed the sessions had real football value as well.

“I think guys wanna be out here” said Rice. “It felt good to set your alarm clock for practice. Regardless of what you say (is) voluntary, it felt good to say ‘you know what? I’m going to practice’ and we take it seriously.”

“Obviously we want (reporters) to come out” said Mason. “To show (the fans) that we are working. We’re not just sitting around on the couch not doing anything waiting on the CBA. We are working because we understand (that) this thing could happen at a minute’s notice. We’ve got to be ready to get back on the field because the fans want to see a good product once we do start playing.”

“We just want to let the fans know that we’re working and we’re working hard” added Mason. “It’s not our choice to be somewhere else working out, we would rather be at (1 Winning Drive) but obviously we can’t.”

“It’s just good to be together” said Flacco. The biggest thing about getting out here is the young guys. The guys that are missing out the most right now are the young guys. To get these guys out here and kinda show them the way a little bit so that they can have some stuff to work on is a big deal so that if we need to-and we’re going to want to-we’ll be able to use these guys.”

Rice said he and the offensive veterans would be meeting with the first year players to go over the playbook following practice.

INJURY REPORT: Foxworth (knee) would likely have been listed as a limited participant in Tuesday’s practice had their been an injury report. He participated in some running and coverage drills, but did not appear to be using a full motion-even for a “fake” practice.

Foxworth missed the entire 2010 season after suffering a torn ACL and torn MCL during the first day of Training Camp.

Cox (knee) would have likely been listed as a full participant, he did not appear bothered during Special Teams drills despite having a brace on his left knee. Cox’s season was cut short after suffering a torn ACL in the team’s Week 16 win over the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

NOTES: Hear from Mason, Flacco, Rice, J. McClain, Doss, Hardy and Taylor now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……OT Jared Gaither (who was not part of Tuesday’s practice) is scheduled to join Rex Snider at 2:30pm Tuesday on “The Afternoon Drive” on AM1570 WNST……Hardy is scheduled to join Drew Forrester Wednesday morning at 7:30am on “The Morning Reaction” on WNST……Towson football coach Rob Ambrose and 15 Tigers players took in today’s practice from the Unitas Stadium field……The school added extra security all week with the anticipation that fans would attempt to access practice

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NFL Lockout Now Likely at the Point of No Return

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NFL Lockout Now Likely at the Point of No Return

Posted on 17 May 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

The latest batch of what serves as football related news came about on Monday when the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the current, ongoing NFL lockout can and therefore will continue until such time as a full hearing on the lockout’s legality can be heard in early June. Along with that “news” also came encouraging reports that the league’s owners and the faction formerly known as the Player’s Association had extended their latest round of negotiations and that ownership was poised to make another offer. Suddenly it’s beginning to feel like no matter what the league offers up this time around, the players would be unlikely to take it. Indeed it’s beginning to feel like we’ve reached to point of no return in these negotiations and that resolution may not be seen until the entire landscape of the NFL itself and perhaps the rest of American professional sports as whole has undergone a dramatic shake up.

We all knew that this was coming. For those who cared to pay close enough attention, the likelihood that the owners would opt out at the first opportunity from collective bargaining seemed eminent. Certainly by the time last season came around, most were of the mind that it was set to be staged in a lame duck type of scenario that would ultimately lead us to the point in time where we now find ourselves.

 

The one thing that stood as a potential wildcard capable of changing the course of actions spurred by ownership’s decision to opt out of collective bargaining was the American Needle litigation that the NFL dealt with last year and the door seemingly opened to antitrust matters as a result. Indeed based on the level of attention to that case paid by the rest of the decision makers in American pro sports on the NFL’s behalf, it seemed clear that the precedents established in that legislation threatened to shake up the entire sporting landscape. At stake, a determination by the courts as to whether the league should be seen as 32 competing entities or as a single establishment with 32 competitive arms.

 

Despite the wholehearted support of their contemporaries at large, the NFL lost that case and in so doing may have opened themselves further to the regulation designed to prevent monopolies in America. Given the undesired outcome of that case from a league standpoint, opening the door to union decertification and more antitrust lawsuits may not have seemed the best course of action. Nevertheless the league decided to head down the path to the unknown once again and may have brought with them their unwitting contemporaries from MLB, the NBA, the NHL and seemingly innumerable other professional sports related organizations.

 

So now as the movements and machinations of the contentious process that collective bargaining has become have seemingly fallen in the favor of the players at nearly every turn, perhaps the old adage that pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered is finally beginning to ring true in the ears of ownership. If so, the revelations set to come out of this latest offer (on the heels of a rare coup from the courts for the owners) might give us a glimpse into what the owners perceive to be their leverage at present or their apparent lack thereof.

 

Considering that things have arguably fallen into exactly the order that DeMaurice Smith likely laid out for the NFLPA at the time he was seeking his post at their head, it seems unlikely that the players would be interested at this point in ending this process before it’s run its due course.

 

If the owners come forward with the same brand of rhetoric and double talk that was apparently prevalent throughout their most recent offer to the union, then we (and the player’s) might be led to believe that ownership too is poised to allow this thing to play out in full. If instead the owners come forward with a deal much more in line with what the union was seeking (even a full concession), it would seem that the former NFLPA might simply see that as a concession that the league is afraid of what may lie ahead in litigation.

 

In either case, given the extent that both sides have allowed this circus to devolve to at this point, it seems unlikely that the players would be willing to call a halt to the process now, especially as the owners’ positions continue to seemingly weaken. Short of a full concession by ownership it seems unlikely that this will end happily, or quickly for that matter. Perhaps as they are weighing the merits of the league’s latest offer, DeMaurice Smith and the players might also want to be careful to remember that pigs do get fat, and hogs indeed will get slaughtered.

 

 

 

 

 

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Live From Owings Mills: “Smith” Ravens’ 2nd Pick, Terps’ Torrey Adds New Chapter to Amazing Story

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Live From Owings Mills: “Smith” Ravens’ 2nd Pick, Terps’ Torrey Adds New Chapter to Amazing Story

Posted on 29 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Let me start with some full disclosure. I’m a University of Maryland alum and an unabashed supporter of the Terrapins football program.

I’ll follow with further full disclosure. There was no prospect in the 2011 NFL Draft that I was more familiar with than former Terps WR Torrey Smith. You probably won’t remember this gem of an “interview” from the team’s 2010 Media Day in College Park…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apWJYZNRyQA[/youtube]

On top of that, I coordinated a weekly appearance between Smith and AM1570 host Thyrl Nelson every Tuesday since January on “The Mobtown Sports Beat.”

Now that it’s all out there, I’ll speak freely.

And after looking past a lengthy rap-sheet to select Colorado CB Jimmy Smith in the first round, the Baltimore Ravens grabbed an amazing human being in the 2nd-round (58th pick overall) by selecting their second Smith of the week.

(They’re of course hoping he pans out to be just as good of a football player at the NFL level as well.)

Smith’s story is well-known amongst Maryland fans, and will quickly become just as known amongst similar Ravens fans who gobbled up everything Michael Oher and “The Blind Side” related two seasons ago.

As detailed in an incredible Washington Post story by Eric Prisbell (Head Coach John Harbaugh said Friday night he was “choked up” and “proud” of Smith after just reading the article), Smith’s childhood was impossibly difficult.

Smith was born three months early, undersized with meningitis and jaundice. He was rushed to an incubator and lived the first 10 weeks of his life in a hospital.

Smith’s childhood would leave him witness to a scene where his mother, Monica, was held at gunpoint by her then-husband and Smith was immediately forced to help raise his younger siblings as early as the age of four.

As recently as 2010, Smith’s mother had faced up to ten years in prison stemming from a fight with her daughter-in-law (a plea agreement would help prevent the lengthy sentence).

As I said, I’d suggest you read the story.

“You saw the celebration (after the pick was announced) when they had Torrey on TV?” asked Harbaugh following the 2nd round. “I want you to know there was a bigger celebration in our Draft room when we got this player.”

The Ravens are clearly excited about adding Smith’s size, speed and resume to a receiving corps that already features multiple Pro Bowl performers in Derrick Mason and Anquan Boldin. Smith measured in at 6’1″, 204 pounds and clocked a 4.41 time in the forty yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. During three seasons in College Park, he tallied 2,281 yards from scrimmage and 20 offensive touchdowns to go with 2,983 return yards and three additional TD’s.

Some scouts thought he had first-round talent, but some questions about his route-running forced him to drop into the second.

The Ravens were grateful to find him there.

“He can peal the top off a defense,” said General Manager Ozzie Newsome. “He brings that added dimension to our pass game. [Quarterback] Joe [Flacco] is a deep-thrower. Joe has the ability to throw the deep ball…he has the arm strength to do it. Now we’re giving Joe an additional weapon and that opens up our passing game.”

Newsome would go on jokingly to label Smith as a “3-point shooter” in the Ravens offense: “At any point if the ball gets in his hands, Billy [Cundiff] is coming out to kick an extra point.”

The deep-ball was sorely missing from the Ravens offense last year. The team had just seven passing plays of 40-plus yards-Mason led the team with two-during 16 regular season games and then recorded none in the postseason.

After finding out his football future would lead him up the road to Charm City, Smith told reporters he knew his character would help his transition.

“I knew the way I am as a person…the way I play fit the way they do things up there,” he said.

As much as the Ravens will benefit from the addition of Smith on the field, they will absolutely benefit from the addition of a man like Torrey Smith in their locker room as well.

Former Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen said of Smith in the Post story, “God created a perfect person.”

The Ravens might settle for a good guy. And a really good receiver.

RAVENS DEAL FOR ANOTHER “REID”
: The Ravens dealt their third round pick (90th overall) and one of two sixth round picks (191st overall) to the Philadelphia Eagles to move up five spots and select Central Florida OT Jah Reid in the 3rd round (85th overall).

Jah Reid

Reid (6’7″, 327 pounds) was described by Newsome as a “fast-riser” on the Ravens draft board following his performance at this year’s East-West Shrine Game in Orlando.

The Ravens will start the 2010 first-team All-Conference-USA selection at RT, where he will find a bit of a crowd. Jared Gaither missed all of 2010 with a back injury and could reach free agency depending on the resolution of the CBA-dispute between the league and the NFLPA.

Marshal Yanda is a restricted free agent (expected to return) who performed admirably filling in for Gaither but Harbaugh has said the team would prefer to move him back to his more natural right guard position.

Oniel Cousins and Tony Moll have not shown themselves as viable options to play significantly. 2010 6th-round pick Ramon Harewood also missed the entire season needing surgery on both knees.

When asked what the Ravens liked about Reid, Harbaugh said: “he is long, he is powerful and he can bend.”

NOTES: The Ravens will receive no compensation from the National Football League or the Chicago Bears following a miscue during the attempt of a first-round trade. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported NFL commissioner Roger Goodell “encouraged” the Bears to give the Ravens a 4th round pick, but the Bears chose not to do so……The Ravens are scheduled to introduce Jimmy Smith and Torrey Smith to reporters at an 11am press conference Saturday at 1 Winning Drive……The Ravens are slated to make five picks on Saturday. They currently hold one fourth round pick (123rd overall), two compensatory fifth round picks (164th and 165th overall), one sixth round pick (180th overall, acquired from the St. Louis Rams in last year’s Mark Clayton deal) and one seventh round pick (225th overall, acquired from the Eagles in last year’s Antwan Barnes deal)……Hear from Newsome, Harbaugh, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta, Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and Torrey Smith now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net

-G

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Ravens Making Final Decisions As Draft Season Comes to Close

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Ravens Making Final Decisions As Draft Season Comes to Close

Posted on 28 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

As the NFL’s labor situation finally appears to be approaching closure, we’re just hours away from the start of the 2011 NFL Draft (8pm NFL Network & ESPN).

Before I continue, I remind you of the players we have already profiled during Draft season.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech), Jake Locker (Washington), Greg McElroy (Alabama), Andy Dalton (TCU), Jeremiah Masoli (Ole Miss), Ricky Stanzi (Iowa), Jerrod Johnson (Texas A&M)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (Connecticut), Owen Marecic (Stanford), Shaun Chapas (Georgia)
RB
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Damien Berry (Miami), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), Alex Green (Hawaii), Shane Vereen (Cal), Jordan Todman (UConn), Dion Lewis (Pitt), Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State), Mark Ingram (Alabama), Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech), Mikel Leshoure (Illinois), Darren Evans (Virginia Tech), Stevan Ridley (LSU)
WR
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State), Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Owen Spencer (North Carolina State), Jock Sanders (West Virginia), Titus Young (Boise State), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Ryan Whalen (Stanford), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), Jon Baldwin (Pittsburgh), Greg Salas (Hawaii), Cecil Shorts III (Mount Union), Jerrel Jernigan (Troy), Niles Paul (Nebraska), Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State), Greg Little (UNC)
TE-Will Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU), Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State), DeMarcus Love (Arkansas), James Brewer (Indiana)
G-Danny Watkins (Baylor), Will Rackley (Lehigh), Stefen Wisniewski (Penn State), Mike Pouncey (Florida)
C-Zane Taylor (Utah), Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal), Rodney Hudson (Florida State), Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina), JJ Watt (Wisconsin), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State), Dontay Moch (Nevada), D’Aundre Reed (Arizona), Aldon Smith (Missouri), Adrian Clayborn (Iowa), Sam Acho (Texas), Ryan Winterswyk (Boise State), Christian Ballard (Iowa), Ricky Elmore (Arizona), Robert Quinn (North Carolina), Jabaal Sheard (Pitt)
DT-Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple), Corey Liuget (Illinois)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland), Nate Irving (NC State), Colin McCarthy (Miami), Martez Wilson (Illinois), Kelvin Sheppard (Louisiana State), Alex Wujciak (Maryland), Akeem Dent (Georgia), Justin Houston (Georgia), Akeem Ayers (UCLA), Jonathan Cornell (Mississippi)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA), Ahmad Black (Florida), Will Hill (Florida)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado), Jimmy Smith (Colorado), DeMarcus Van Dyke (Miami), Brandon Harris (Miami), Ras-I Dowling (Virginia), Richard Sherman (Stanford), Brandon Burton (Utah), Curtis Marsh (Utah State), Chris Culliver (South Carolina), Buster Skrine (Chattanooga), Justin Rogers (Richmond)
K-Kemar Scarlett (Morgan State)

If you missed any of those profiles, you can check them out in the archives here at WNST.net.

Part 1-A look at players who participated in the East West Shrine Game in Orlando, Florida
Part 2-A look at players who participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama
Part 3-A look at players who participated in the NFLPA Game (former Texas vs. The Nation Game) in San Antonio, Texas
Parts 456-Previews of players ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis
Part 7-A look back at players who made in impact at the National Football League Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium in Indy
Parts 8910-A look at players who participated in early Pro Timing Days
Parts 11 & 12-Players the Ravens have shown direct interest in

The Baltimore Ravens (obviously) made no personnel changes this week, so my team needs remain the same…

1. Defensive End
2. Offensive Tackle
3. Wide Receiver
4. Cornerback
5. Fullback
6. Inside Linebacker
7. Safety
8. Center
9. Running Back
10. Quarterback

Here are ten final prospects we have yet to profile during Draft season.

Thanks to CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com, NFLDraftBible.com, WNST.net (The AP), ESPN.com, NFL.com, Wikipedia, YouTube and various official athletic websites for helping to put together the profiles.

DE Cam Jordan (Cal)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOx7bqKP4m0[/youtube]

Fewer and fewer folks believe the former Golden Bears pass rusher will be on the board when the Ravens pick at 26. If he were to somehow slip, you’d assume GM Ozzie Newsome and company would be quick to grab him.

Jordan (6’4″, 287 pounds) has good speed (4.74 40) and had solid productivity (17 total sacks) during his career in Berkeley. It’s very clear why he’s viewed as a Top 20 pick.

Conversation about Jordan almost has to include a nod to his father (Steve Jordan), who was a six time Pro Bowl TE for the Minnesota Vikings during his own very solid 13 year NFL career.

I mocked Jordan to the San Diego Chargers in our Morning Reaction First Round Draft this week. I just don’t see him getting to 26. But if he somehow did, I would have to assume he would be donning purple.

RB Taiwan Jones (Eastern Washington)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64ohYkArJfU[/youtube]

Which do you think Jones has been asked about more during Draft season: jumping backwards out of a pool or playing football on red turf?

Both are pretty cool.

Jones (6’0″, 196 pounds) has TREMENDOUS speed (4.35 40) and was unbelievably productive during his college career in Cheney. He finished with 3,858 yards of total offense and 36 total TD’s over the last two seasons with the Eagles. He capped his career by helping EWU defeat Delaware in the FCS title game.

Jones is one of a number of backs who decided to leave school a season early this year despite not being guaranteed an early selection in the Draft. Those backs have clearly seen a pattern in the NFL where teams get more and more concerned with the number of carries a player brings with him to his pro career.

That being said, teams are always apt to add additional runners-with significant carries coming for 3-5 backs per team anymore. The Ravens have an interesting situation in their own backfield; as they will be looking to complement Ray Rice. Willis McGahee is expected to be released, Le’Ron McClain is a free agent and is a question mark to return at best.

The Ravens might need more size/bulk than what Jones has to offer, but his unique combination of decent size and amazing speed might be hard to pass up on as he’s available late Friday night and into Saturday.

WR Edmond Gates (Abilene Christian)

edmundgates

The comparisons to Chicago Bears WR Johnny Knox will be inevitable for Gates, especially after posting a 4.31 40-which was actually .03 quicker than his fellow former Wildcats receiver at the Combine. The knock on Knox (see what I did there?) has been his hands, and that will certainly be a question mark for Gates as well.

Gates had a sparkling senior season to wrap his career, grabbing 66 catches for 1,182 yards and 13 TD’s. It is a bit easier to dominate the Lone Star Conference than it is to dominate the SEC however.

Gates could be an intriguing option for a Ravens team desperately seeking a “home run” threat. He’s not huge (6’0″, 192 pounds); but his size certainly gives him potential “stretch the field” ability. They don’t have that in starters Anquan Boldin or Derrick Mason; and didn’t get it from free agents TJ Houshmandzadeh or Donte’ Stallworth a season ago.

Like Jones, Gates is likely a late Friday/early Saturday selection. Should the Ravens not go receiver early, they’d definitely be the type of team that could be in the market for a player the former ACU star.

CB Curtis Brown (Texas)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUr4wswq9us[/youtube]

While former Longhorns teammate Aaron Williams has received much more attention, plenty of teams have shown interest in Brown.

It makes sense, as there’s plenty about Brown to like. He has above average size (6’0″, 185 pounds) and solid speed (4.51 40). Despite finishing his career in Austin with just two interceptions, he managed to return one for a 77 yard touchdown.

Brown already has a tie to Charm City, as his uncle Hosea Taylor played DE for the Baltimore Colts in1981 & 1983 after a career at the University of Houston.

The Ravens don’t know the extent of their troubles at CB just yet. With this week’s developments in Minnesota, only Chris Carr and Fabian Washington are guaranteed to reach free agency under 2010 CBA rules. Josh Wilson could gain free agency under new CBA rules, but that scenario appears less and less likely. That would leave Wilson, Domonique Foxworth and Lardarius Webb as the team’s top 3 corners with Cary Williams still behind them.

Many folks believe the Ravens will try to select Colorado’s Jimmy Smith in the first round of the Draft. If they don’t do that, it is widely believed the team will pick a corner at some point in the Draft despite the depth they appear to have. Brown is probably a Friday night selection, and could certainly be an intriguing one for the Ravens.

OT James Carpenter (Alabama)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp8wSEAEMP4[/youtube]

Well…we all know Newsome is SOMEHOW going to continue the Tuscaloosa to Baltimore pipeline, right?

The Ravens would certainly do well to add a player like Carpenter on Friday night, as they have major O-Line issues they’re dealing with. OT Jared Gaither is no guarantee to return-although the CBA issue could still have some effect on that.

Should Gaither depart, new O-Line coach Andy Moeller may decide to keep G/T Marshal Yanda at RT and Chris Chester at RG. The team got average to slightly above average production from that group a season ago.

The team would seem more likely to look for an upgrade at RT, which Carpenter could provide despite not being a first round caliber tackle.

Carpenter is a monster (6’4″, 321 pounds) who helped lead the way for a Heisman Trophy winner (RB Mark Ingram) and an undefeated QB (Greg McElroy) in 2009. He played two solid seasons for the Crimson Tide at LT after transferring from Coffeyville Community College.

All of the good ones come from Coffeyville, don’t they?

QB T.J. Yates (North Carolina)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_B8HCfUqv4[/youtube]

Yes, I think the Ravens are going to take a quarterback at some point during the Draft.

Yes, I think backup QB Marc Bulger will leave town during the offseason. (Heck, some folks are already talking about him as if he already played for the Arizona Cardinals.)

That being said, I don’t think the Ravens will be drafting a QB early during the weekend. I think they’ll look for a veteran backup and will instead draft a QB who can compete for a potential 3rd QB role behind Joe Flacco.

Yates (6’3″, 219 pounds) had an up and down career for the Tar Heels, but left Chapel Hill on a very high note. He threw for 3,418 yards and 19 TD’s as a senior with just nine interceptions mixed in.

He won’t be a Thursday or Friday selection, but he could certainly be a player for the Ravens to consider on Saturday.

There is a bit of a problem when it comes to Yates however.

On his bio, his hometown is listed as Marietta, Georgia. That’s all well and good. But then there’s an additional issue, courtesy of the UNC official site…

“Favorite NFL team is the Indianapolis Colts…Followed the Indianapolis Colts as a kid because he grew up in Indianapolis”

It’s just not going to work.

DE Pernell McPhee (Mississippi State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuBr52sVC5A[/youtube]

Breaking news. The Ravens are interested in pass rush help.

McPhee was not a pass rush monster during his career in Starkville (just seven sacks over two seasons after transferring from Itawamba Community College), but he was still effective.

He has good size (6’3″, 278 pounds) but his mobility has limited him (4.91 40).

He’s not Trevor Pryce, but he might be a nice complement to Haloti Ngata, Kelly Gregg and Cory Redding along the D-Line. He appears to be another late Friday/early Saturday selection; meaning he could be an option should the Ravens go elsewhere in the first two rounds.

He’s not “the answer”, but the former Bulldogs rusher could certainly be part of “the equation” in upgrading the pass rush this offseason.

CB Davon House (New Mexico State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9g1Ff0odmc[/youtube]

Totally off the radar until reports said he visited Owings Mills, the former NMSU corner now appears a more and more likely candidate to be selected by the Ravens.

House (6’1″, 200 pounds) matches his good size with solid speed (4.44 40) and was incredibly productive during his time with the Aggies. He finished his career in Las Cruces with 202 tackles, 11 interceptions (three returned for TD’s) and a forced fumble.

House could go anywhere from early Friday to mid-Saturday. Should the Ravens not select a corner like Smith in the first round, they could potentially add House later on in the weekend.

Did you miss House earlier this month with Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST? Hit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.

TE Kyle Rudolph (Notre Dame)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6UwzaYPCq8[/youtube]

Every time I noticed Rudolph connected to the Ravens at 26, it was followed by the following statement.

“The Ravens are going to have to draft an heir apparent to Todd Heap at some point.”

I’m guessing the folks who wrote that didn’t pay much attention to the team’s Draft just a season ago.

The Ravens finished the 2010 season with four Tight Ends on the active roster (Heap, 2010 picks Ed Dickson & Dennis Pitta and 2009 pick Davon Drew). Drew still doesn’t appear to have much of a long-term role with the team, but the team certainly has high expectations for Dickson and Pitta.

Rudolph’s senior numbers are not at all impressive (28 catches, 328 yards, three TD’s), but he missed the final six games of the season due to a hamstring injury. Of course, that’s just another red flag teams will have to consider before selecting him.

He’s not likely to be an explosive offensive threat at the NFL level, but he certainly appears to be a solid NFL prospect at 6’6″, 259 pounds-even with a 4.83 40.

He’s going to go late Thursday or early Friday. I just doubt he’ll be getting introduced at 1 Winning Drive anytime soon.

P Travis Baltz (Maryland)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oW9How9TAY[/youtube]

Two things.

1-The Ravens clearly aren’t interested in a punter. The extension they gave Sam Koch proves just how happy they are in their former Draft pick.

2-There is little to no chance the former Terrapins punter ends up getting picked, but he’s very likely to get picked up and be given a look.

Baltz finished his career in College Park with 224 punts for 9,224 yards-averaging 41.2 yards per boot. He also spent his senior season as the Terps’ kicker, making 14 of 18 field goals and 53 of 54 extra points.

Baltz’s first goal will be to get a Training Camp invite from….someone. It will be difficult for him to make it to an active roster, but reaching one goal first will help in his pursuit.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Where NFL-NFLPA labor fight stands after Judge Nelson’s decision (as of Tuesday morning)

Posted on 26 April 2011 by Chris Pika

In the game of chicken the NFL and the NFLPA have played since the CBA expired in early March and the owners declared a lockout, the participants, fans and the media have all learned to assume nothing.

Most, myself included, expected Judge Susan Nelson of the U.S. District Court to rule in favor of the players in their preliminary injunction attempt to lift the lockout as part of the Brady v. NFL case. What was also expected was a stay from Judge Nelson to hold the lockout in place until an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit could be filed by the NFL.

So, Judge Nelson’s ruling to lift the lockout immediately, but to not issue a stay of her order until the NFL’s appeal could be heard has thrown the league into chaos on several points, some of which are not entirely clear to legal analysts specializing in sports law in the first hours following the issue of the order.

First, here is Judge Nelson’s full 89-page order issued Monday, April 25.

The NFLPA issued a statement Monday night:

Re: Brady, et al. v. NFL

We are class counsel along with Dewey LeBoeuf on behalf of the 10 named plaintiffs in the Brady lawsuit as well as the 1800 members of the soon to be Brady class. We are pleased with the ruling granting the plaintiffs preliminary injunction to lift the NFL owners’ illegal lockout issued this afternoon by Judge Susan Richard Nelson. We believe that this 89-page well-reasoned decision is totally consistent with prior precedent, governing caselaw as well as administrative rulings on all the issues raised by the NFL Defendants. We are confident that this ruling will withstand any appeals.

De Smith, co-class counsel and Executive Director of the NFLPA said; “I’m happy for our players and for our fans. Today, those who love football are the winners.”

In addition, plaintiff Osi Umenyiora stated: “Today’s ruling is a win for the players and for the fans that want to see a full NFL season in 2011. The lockout is bad for everyone and players will continue to fight it. We hope that this will bring us one step closer to playing the game we love.”

- James W. Quinn, Class Counsel

The NFL also issued a statement following the order:

We will promptly seek a stay from Judge Nelson pending an expedited appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. We believe that federal law bars injunctions in labor disputes. We are confident that the Eighth Circuit will agree. But we also believe that this dispute will inevitably end with a collective bargaining agreement, which would be in the best interests of players, clubs and fans. We can reach a fair agreement only if we continue negotiations toward that goal.

The league, according to SI.com’s Peter King has filed two motions with Nelson’s court: a motion of clarification, seeking more info on the practical implications of the ruling, and a motion to stay the ruling while the Eighth Circuit hears the NFL’s appeal.

There are three possible outcomes, according to King. One, a stay which would keep the lockout in place until the Circuit Court hears and rules; two, no stay and an order to begin the 2011 NFL league year at her discretion; and three, passing the decision of a stay to the Eighth Circuit, which could take about a week to decide.

Judge Nelson’s order has set the following in motion:

The NFLPA via an email, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, advised players of their legal right to report to work at club facilities on Tuesday, April 26. It is unclear how many team player reps are telling players to report. Some like the Lions’ Kyle Vanden Bosch, have told players not to report for a day until the dust settles, while the Steelers’ rep Ryan Clark is telling teammates to report to work, according to ProFootballTalk.com.

Late Monday, according to Schefter, the NFL Management Council has told teams to let players into buildings on Tuesday, but also recommended keeping weight rooms closed and to have security in place to avoid any potential confrontations or photo opportunities for the media.

That advisement from the Management Council will avoid an awkward situation where team security directors, which assist players during normal labor times, would have been the ones turning the players away at the facilities or changing access codes the players use in some cities to access parking and the facilities.

ProFootballTalk.com is reporting that coaches have been told not to be in contact with players until the league has had a chance to seek a stay of Judge Nelson’s order.

Even if the league year is ordered to begin, there is plenty of uncertainty of if the previous CBA would apply going forward. Teams will also have some minefields in antitrust law to navigate, according to sports law professor Michael McCann in SI.com.

In the same article, McCann says the NFL’s appeal will hinge on two points: lack of jurisdiction by Judge Nelson because the National Labor Relations Board is yet to rule on the legality of the NFLPA’s decertification order and lack of irreparable harm to the players.

The league’s lawyers, led by David Boies, made those arguments in front of Judge Nelson in preparation for their appeal to the Eighth Circuit.

According to ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson, the owners may try to impose new work rules, or try to negotiate a new deal with the players, or try to do both.

Andrew Brandt of NationalFootballPost.com says that there is plenty that could still happen in the wake of Judge Nelson’s decision.

The league also faces a mid-May hearing in front of Judge David Doty as he will rule on potential award damages in the lawsuit filed by the players over the owners’ current television contracts. Those contracts would have provided a substantial “war chest” in a lockout. Judge Doty ruled for the players in March, and he will decide on those damages and if there should be an injunction on the TV contracts.

One major question also looms over the NFL Draft to be held over three days later this week. Teams were previously told that the only trades that could take place were ones involving draft picks in the 2011 and future drafts only. With a lifting of the lockout, no one is sure whether deals can be made involving current roster players under contract (for instance, Eagles QB Kevin Kolb).

The next week or so will be unique in NFL history on many levels. In any case, with less than three days before the 2011 NFL Draft, the chaos potential is very high for a league used to order in conducting its business off the field.

For up-to-date Tweets on the NFL and the Ravens, please follow me on Twitter (@BlogAndTackle). For more national NFL stories, please visit my personal site at BlogAndTackle.net.

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Where NFL-NFLPA labor fight stands (April 24)

Posted on 25 April 2011 by Chris Pika

We are on the brink of the first potential leverage either side in the NFL labor fight has had since the lockout by the owners was announced March 11 as Judge Susan Nelson of the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis is reportedly ready to rule on the players’ request for a preliminary injunction to lift the lockout as part of the Brady v. NFL lawsuit.

However, the victor in Judge Nelson’s ruling will have a short-lived time to celebrate as there will be an immediate appeal on the injunction ruling by the losing side. That means the real leverage for one side won’t be decided until the appeal is heard in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

To revisit the issues behind Brady v. NFL, National Football Post’s Andrew Brandt, who is also reporting on the labor fight for ESPN.com did a primer on March 18 for NFP.

Brandt did an update on April 20 which touched on the mediation brokered by Judge Nelson in advance of her decision and where the situation may be headed in the coming weeks.

Another pressure point will come May 12 when Judge David Doty will hold a hearing to decide damages in the TV lockout-funding case brought by the players against the owners. A major award to the players of money that the owners expected to have as a “war chest” in the lockout could also shift leverage. Doty ruled against the owners in the suit in early March.

Late last week, there were reports that some NFL players were interested in having a seat at the mediation table in Minneapolis. The NFLPA, through its’ NFLLockout.com web site, made an email public from an unspecified law firm looking for 70 potential clients to intervene in the mediation, which broke off April 20.

Meawhile, unlike the previous mediation talks in Washington with George Cohen of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, where details were leaked almost daily, the mediation under Judge Arthur Boylan was done under a gag order which carried real legal issues if it was violated. The mediation talks under Judge Boylan were suspended on April 20 to resume May 16.

That doesn’t mean there wasn’t news from the NFL in past two weeks. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell held several conference calls with season-ticket holders of the Dolphins, Chargers, Giants and 49ers to go over the league’s positions on the labor issues.

The NFL also released its’ 2011 regular-season schedule. And ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter found that the league built in some safeguards to have a complete schedule even if the first three weeks are not played as planned.

In short, the league has asked Indianapolis to hold hotel rooms for another week to play Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday, February 12 if needed. The league would also take away one of the two weeks between the conference championship games, so teams would have to head to Indy the day after winning their respective conference titles for Super Bowl week. Also, every Week 3 game has been safeguarded as the teams off in a particular bye week match up to their Week 3 opponent.

So, according to ESPN, the season could start as late as October 2 (Week 4) and a full 16-game schedule could be played.

For up-to-date Tweets on the NFL and the Ravens, please follow me on Twitter (@BlogAndTackle). For more national NFL stories, please visit my personal site at BlogAndTackle.net.

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