Tag Archive | "Roger Goodell"

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Goodell staying optimistic over Ravens-Orioles compromise

Posted on 20 March 2013 by Luke Jones

As WNST.net’s Glenn Clark and Drew Forrester have offered their insight into the scheduling conflict jeopardizing the site of the Ravens’ season-opening game on Sept. 5, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell remained optimistic on Thursday that they would be able to work out a compromise with the Orioles.

Goodell said on the final day of the league meetings in Arizona that he hasn’t spoken to Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig this week, but the sides continue to work toward a solution. The commissioner went out of his way to take a soft approach in discussing the Orioles’ position after many have accused the league of bullying Baltimore’s baseball team.

“People are working toward trying to find a solution that will work for everybody,” Goodell said. “We recognize that this wasn’t something that baseball or the Orioles asked for. They’ve been very cooperative in trying
to work out a solution.”

The commissioner once again mentioned the idea of the Orioles playing an afternoon game — shifting their scheduled start time of 7:05 p.m. — that would leave enough time for the Ravens to kick off at M&T Bank Stadium later that evening, but many have suggested the only realistic possibility would be a day-night doubleheader later that weekend since it’s highly unlikely MLB, the players association, and the Chicago White Sox would all approve moving the Thursday game to earlier in the day. Both the Orioles and White Sox finish series in other cities the night before and will likely be arriving in Baltimore well after midnight on the morning of Sept. 5.

The league meetings wrapped up on Wednesday, but it’s clear the NFL wants a resolution sooner rather than later so it can announce the teams involved and the location of its season-opening game televised on NBC. It’s all but certain that the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens will be playing in the game, but whether the contest is played in Baltimore remains up in the air.

“We’re both trying to compromise to say, ‘How can we do this so the fans of Baltimore can have a really special day with an Orioles game in the afternoon and a Ravens celebration at night for their Super Bowl championship?’” Goodell said. “I’m hopeful that that will happen.”

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Please Baltimore – don’t let the NFL and Ravens turn you on the Orioles

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Please Baltimore – don’t let the NFL and Ravens turn you on the Orioles

Posted on 20 March 2013 by Drew Forrester

The longer “Opener-Gate” drags on, the more disappointed I am in the Ravens.

I expect the NFL to show their true colors and expose themselves as the greedy stuffed suits that they are, but I’m shocked that Steve Bisciotti and the Ravens have allowed the league to play them like they have this week.

My first reaction to the NFL trying to force the Orioles to move their September 5th home game vs. the White Sox is RIGHT HERE and nothing has changed since I authored that piece on Monday.  If anything, I’m even more convinced that the NFL has created this mess nearly all on their own and, even more bothersome, they’ve tried to get the Ravens to do their dirty work by having the football team put pressure on the baseball team to “do the right thing”.

I can’t afford the Napa Valley bottle of Silver Oak the way Roger Goodell can, but that doesn’t mean I’m stupid or naive to what’s really going on here.

This saga over the Ravens opening game in September is all about the NFL and NBC wanting to maximize the amount of money they make on the game.

That’s it.  Nothing else is an issue.  It has nothing to do with the Jewish community in Baltimore, it has nothing to do with the baseball team having a game here and it has nothing to do with the football fans in town “deserving” to have the season opener played in the stadium occupied by the defending Super Bowl champions.

Those are all elements of an argument conjured up by the NFL to take the spotlight off of one simple fact:  By playing the game on Wednesday night in Baltimore – or Tuesday night, even – they stand to generate less money in TV revenue from NBC.

The specifics of how the rates vs. ratings formula are discreet, naturally, but NBC goes out and sells the NFL product based on “expected ratings” and those numbers are derived from gobs and gobs of data they’ve accumulated over the years.  They then lean on the NFL to give them the best possible TV schedule (dates, opponents, etc.) so they can sit in front of the folks at Budweiser and Bridgestone and Toyota and and Wranger and say, “Here are the 20 NBC games in 2013…you’ll be paying us $7.3 million for two 30-second ads in those games and here are the ratings you can expect, starting with that THURSDAY NIGHT season opener that has turned into a rating’s bonanza.”  They’ll then explain that clients are expected to fork over $233,000 (a made-up number) for a 30-second spot in that game because “the data” shows that 18.3 million people watch a Thursday night affair as compared to 14.4 million on a Sunday evening.  In other words, NBC charges $184,000 for a Sunday night commercial but for that special season opening Thursday night contest, they can bilk the advertisers out of $233,000.

That’s good business if you can get it.

But you can’t get that “Thursday night rate” if the game is played on Wednesday night.  Why?  Because that data shows – as most recently as last season when the Giants hosted the opener on a Wednesday evening – that fewer people are tuned in on Wednesday evenings.  So, instead of $233,000 for a commercial, the Wednesday rate is more like $143,000.

And then NBC gets irritated that the NFL is circumventing the contract between the two and, obviously, hurting their ability to generate advertising revenue (which, of course, pays the bill that the NFL sends them) based on the Thursday night game they THOUGHT they were going to have which turned into a Wednesday night affair.

In summary, NBC might only generate $74.3 million in NFL-related revenue this season instead of $73.1 million.  Boy, I wonder which executives will have to take out a second mortgage because of that loss?

All because that petty baseball team in Baltimore wouldn’t just give up their Thursday night home game, right?

Well, that’s what the NFL wants you to believe.  And, I bet, it’s what the Ravens are going to continue to want you to believe as well.  That’s why Steve Bisciotti’s quote from Monday bothered me so much.  You know, the one that ended with him saying, “The Orioles could get this done if they wanted to get it done.”

Wrong, Steve.

You had the sentence right, just had the villains incorrectly portrayed.

“The NFL could get this done if they wanted to get it done.”

There, Mr. B., I fixed that for ya.

The league could just move the game to Wednesday or Tuesday, even, and that would be that.

Oh, and remember the NFL has already tried to use the Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashanah, as the “perfect excuse” for not wanting to play on Wednesday in Baltimore.  That theory was debunked in about 8 minutes by folks with the internet – and a brain – who quickly figured out the NFL has never before cared about any Jewish holiday when it comes to matters of scheduling.

No, folks, the game CAN be played on Tuesday or Wednesday in Baltimore and nothing about that would be wrong.

Same game, same hoopla, same chance for the fans to “revel with their championship team”.  If the game gets played on Tuesday or Wednesday in Baltimore, NOTHING at all changes about the celebration and/or the functional aspects of putting on a mammoth event such as the NFL season opener.

Nothing changes.

Except the NFL will hear some squawking from NBC, who won’t be able to get their desired “Thursday night rate” for a Tuesday or Wednesday broadcast.

It’s just greed, people.

That’s all it is.

And there’s also been some smarmy, smart-assness thrown in for good measure by the NFL and Roger Goodell.  I’m hearing he sent a message to the Orioles through a baseball executive that didn’t sit well with the folks at Camden Yards.  It went something like this:  ”You remind the Orioles that no matter what happens here, they’re going to be embarrassed.  If they don’t change the game and the Ravens are forced to go on the road, they stand to receive considerable backlash from the community.  And if they do play that home game on Thursday night and the Ravens play at 7pm on the road somewhere – on that Thursday night – they’ll have no one in the stands in Baltimore to watch the baseball game.”

Talk about bush-league, huh?

That’s your football Commissioner, playing hard-ball, because HE entered into a TV contract and HE promised the network they’d have a Thursday night game to open the season and HE just assumes everyone is going part the seas for him when he says, “get out of our way.”

There’s a solution to all of this and none of it involves the Orioles or White Sox, neither of whom should be forced to alter their September schedule for a football game.

Play the game in Baltimore on Tuesday or Wednesday.  Done deal.

In the meantime, I can’t finish this by reiterating how disappointing it is to see the Ravens adhere to the gang-up-on-the-Orioles mentality that the NFL kick-started on Monday.

This. Is. Not. The. Orioles. Problem.

Period, full stop.

I’m not much for predictions, mind you, but here’s one you can file away for kicks and giggles: There’s a chance the NFL will do the dumb thing and send the Ravens on the road to start the season.  The Orioles, of course, will get hammered for that by the people in town who aren’t sophisticated enough to see how this master plan has been drawn up by the NFL.  The Birds will get unfair criticism and lots of “those clowns just don’t get it” commentary from now until the football season begins.  Well – IF that happens — IF that happens — don’t be surprised if sometime in mid August the Orioles announce they have decided to move the Thursday, September 5th start date to 3:05 pm.  They’ll reach out to the White Sox and explain – like the NFL said way back in March – that “no one is going to come to the baseball game on September 5th if the Orioles are playing at the same time as the Ravens.”  They’ll slide the White Sox a $40,000 check for being nice, they’ll play the game at 3:05 pm, and then make it a point to remind their fans how “PR minded” they’re being by allowing them to watch baseball and then get home in time to watch their beloved Ravens kick off the season in (insert city here).

Wouldn’t that be a hoot?

Yes, it would.

Would it also be justified?

Yes, maybe it would.

 

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NFL season-opening game in Baltimore in jeopardy?

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NFL season-opening game in Baltimore in jeopardy?

Posted on 18 March 2013 by Luke Jones

With the NFL congregating in Arizona this week for its annual league meetings, troubling news surfaced Monday morning about the season-opening game presumed to be hosted in Baltimore this September.

As Super Bowl XLVII champions, the Ravens would be in line to host the first game of the 2013 season as has become the tradition in recent NFL seasons, but a scheduling conflict with the Orioles on Sept. 5 is putting that in jeopardy. With the Orioles scheduled to play the Chicago White Sox that night in the opener of a four-game series at Camden Yards, the Ravens have been unable to come to an agreement to move the time of that game and could be faced with the prospects of opening the season on the road.

Via their official Twitter account, the Ravens said a league source labeled Baltimore opening on the road as the “least desirable” possibility, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a Monday press conference that he’s spoken twice to MLB commissioner Bud Selig in attempts to resolve the issue. The league does not want to move the season-opening game to Wednesday, Sept. 4 due to the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah.

Goodell and the league is proposing that the Orioles play earlier in the day on Thursday and would move the start time for the Ravens to as late as 9 p.m. that evening in hopes of having a successful doubleheader for the city. The commissioner did not present any other day as being an option for the NFL’s season opener, confirming what many Ravens fans fear if a compromise cannot be reached.

“Unfortunately the only option is to take the Ravens on the road,” Goodell said. “We think that’s wrong for Ravens fans.”

Shifting the Orioles’ scheduled Thursday evening game with the White Sox to that afternoon would still create problems due to parking and the possibility of extra innings or a rain delay. The Orioles would also likely object to playing a day game on Thursday after traveling back to Baltimore from a game in Cleveland the previous night.

With the Orioles and White Sox scheduled for a four-game set that weekend, a day-night doubleheader on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday would also be a solution to open that Thursday night for the Ravens.

However, moving the time of the game by more than 30 minutes — let alone scheduling a doubleheader — is subject to approval by Major League Baseball, the players’ union, and the White Sox, according to The Sun.

Regardless of the circumstances or who’s ultimately to blame — there are compelling arguments for all parties involved — this situation needs to be worked out. The city of Baltimore deserves to be showcased in the NFL’s season-opening game, which has become a major event in recent years as a way to celebrate the previous season’s Super Bowl championship team.

Unfortunatley, this isn’t the first time in which the Ravens have found themselves in this kind of a position as the league elected not to schedule the Super Bowl XXXV champions with a Monday night game — the hoopla of the Thursday night opener hadn’t been created yet — to open the 2001 season even though the previous five Super Bowl winners had received the privilege.

In that case, there was no conflict with the Orioles, who were off on the night of Sept. 10, 2001, as the league chose to open the season in a matchup between the Denver Broncos and the New York Giants.

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Goodell seems to agree with Flacco about punishment system not working

Posted on 01 February 2013 by WNST Staff

NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL

Super Bowl XLVII News Conference

New Orleans, Louisiana — February 1, 2013

 

Opening Statement:

“Good morning.  This Sunday will be the conclusion of an incredible season of NFL football.  Our teams this season gave fans dramatic games and amazing performances.  Think about it, the inspiring comebacks of Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson; the extraordinary rookie quarterbacks; Calvin Johnson, Tony Gonzalez catching; Aldon Smith, Von Miller and J.J. Watt sacking; the fantastic final Sunday of the regular season.  Everyone is buzzing about how exciting the playoffs have been.  So wouldn’t it be fitting if we have that one final struggle on Sunday night?  This Super Bowl matchup has it all: the Harbaughs, Ray Lewis, Colin Kaepernick, Joe Flacco, the Pistol offense, and the list goes on.  Congratulations to Steve Bisciotti, to John, Denise and Jed York.  We really can’t wait to see your teams in the Super Bowl on Sunday night.

 

“There are two important people who are not here, but very much on our minds.  Art Modell, the legendary former owner of the Ravens, who passed away in September.  Art’s spirit is certainly here this week.  And his name will be on the Ravens jersey on Sunday, as it has all season.  And this is the first Super Bowl without Steve Sabol, the creative genius behind NFL Films.  His imprint is all over our game and the Super Bowl.  Steve and Art were innovators.  They inspire us to exceed our expectations.  As a league, we have challenges.  We always do, and we embrace them for the opportunity to do better.

 

“On and off the field in the last couple of years, we have accomplished some remarkable things that have really strengthened the very foundation of our game.  We have the most talented athletes on earth, in a game that those players and fans love.  Our mission is to make it even better and we are doing the work.  The changes we are making are having a positive impact.  The game is exciting, competitive, tough and safer.  We are making the game better while also evolving into a health and safety culture.  That is a big priority.  We are also improving officiating, investing in upgrading the stadium experience and engaging more people in more ways than ever.  Our numbers are up in overall fan engagement, in most cases, dramatically.  So a big thank you to NFL fans, the best in sports.

 

“Interest in the NFL is expanding as we grow internationally.  In fact, today we are announcing that our two games in London next season – the 49ers and Jaguars and the Steelers and Vikings – are already sold out.  It is a sign that the game is growing globally.  But there is more work to do and more ways to improve.  The Competition Committee’s agenda will include looking at eliminating certain dangerous low blocks; further taking the head out of the game and expanding the standards for the quality of our playing fields.  We will take steps to ensure more diversity in our hiring practices.  The results this year were simply not acceptable.

 

“On the health side, we will update our injury protocols and add neurosurgeons to our game day medical resources.  We are going to implement expanded physicals at the end of each season.  Three days to review players from a physical, mental and life-skills standpoint, so that we can support them in a more comprehensive fashion.  We want to pioneer new approaches to player health and safety that  emphasize prevention as well as treatment.  This will include our commitment to supporting our retired players.  Those are some of the priorities.   From the quality of our game, to growing fan interest and engagement, to our commitment to evolve and innovate, we have many reasons to be optimistic about the future.  I could not be more optimistic or ready to go.

 

“It’s also terrific for us to be back here in New Orleans.  Our 10th Super Bowl here, the first since (Hurricane) Katrina.  And it’s clear this city is back bigger and better than ever.  Our very heartfelt thanks to Mayor Mitch Landrieu; James Carville and Mary Matalin; the Host Committee; the 7,000 local volunteers for being truly, truly great hosts this week.  Also, to Tom and Gayle Benson and Rita LeBlanc, for all you have done for this community.  Everybody here has done an outstanding job.  You should be very proud and we are very grateful.

 

“Now we will get to your questions.”

 

The President recently said he would think twice about having a son play football, if he had a son.  He also said that fans need to examine their conscience about football.  Is there a deeper-rooted problem with the game and its safety than the NFL might have realized?  How can the NFL deal effectively with such problems?

 

“Well, the issue of player health and safety has always been a priority in the NFL.  We will continue to make it a priority.  You have our commitment.  The players have our commitment that we will do that. I started playing the game when I was in fourth grade, tackle football in Washington D.C. and I love the game of football.  I started as a fan, but I wouldn’t give back one day of playing tackle football.  The benefits of playing football, teaching you the values, teaching you character, teaching you how to get up when you’re knocked down, how to work with others, teamwork.  They are extraordinary lessons in life that I use to this day.  I welcome the President’s comments because it has been a priority and we want to make sure that people understand what we’re doing to make our game safer, not just in the NFL, but throughout sports.  The changes we’re making in the NFL, I think, are changing all of sports.  There is better recognition of head injuries, of treating them conservatively, and that affects every sport, beyond sports, to your children playing in the playground, to our troops overseas.  What we’re doing is leading the way to try and make sure people understand that you need to treat these injuries seriously.  We can make our games safer, as we have done. I believe that the changes that we’re making to our game will make football better.  It will make it safer.  It will make other sports safer.  We’re proud of our accomplishments and we have more to do, but we will not relent on this.”

 

More on the same issue – Joe Flacco on Media Day said the current fine system isn’t working. It’s not changing the way that defensive players are playing.  He’s going to get hit no matter what, and all that you’re doing is taking money out of their pockets.  Steve Bisciotti said that he thinks maybe intent needs to be taken into consideration.  Flacco also said maybe suspensions, but with pay, might get through to some of these guys.  I wonder what you think about their comments and about maybe whether suspensions is where you need to go?  I know that the league did try to suspend Ed Reed.

 

“I’m glad that you reminded yourself of that.  This is something that we have seen, an escalation in the discipline, because we are trying to take these techniques out of the game.  I think it was about four years ago at this very press conference, I said, ‘We have to take these hits out of the game that we think have a higher risk of causing injuries.’  The focus was on defenseless players, and I stand by our record because I think we have made those changes and made the game safer.  I think we’re going to have to continue to see discipline escalate, particularly on repeat offenders. It’s not just the player, the defenseless player, that’s being protected; it’s the person doing the striking.  We see in the injury rates that the defenseless player and the defensive back are having a higher injury rate.  Taking these hits out of the game can be positive.  The most effective way of doing that, and I’m not for it because we want to see all of our players on the field, is when they are repeat offenders and they are involved with these dangerous techniques, that we’re going to have to take them off the field.  Suspension gets through to them. It’s gets through on the basis that they don’t want to let their teammates down, and they want to be on the field.  We want to see them on the field.  We’re going to continue to emphasize the importance of following those rules.  When there are violations, we will escalate the discipline.”

 

I know that the system for discipline for on-field violations, the way the system exists now, you have neutral arbitrators in Art Shell and Ted Cottrell.  Also, my understanding is that in a new drug policy, the league would be willing to have neutral arbitration in that, too.  If you can confirm that, fine, but also, the NFLPA said yesterday that it is seeking to have neutral arbitration for off-the-field discipline issues.  I’m wondering if you see a connection with that demand as another component to the standstill in negotiations for HGH testing?

 

“Well interesting, Jarrett, to that point, you are correct. In our Collective Bargaining Agreement that we signed two years ago, we did agree to HGH testing.  As part of that, we agreed to neutral arbitration for drug cases.  We will do that as soon as we reach agreement on the HGH, which I expect and hope will be very soon.  We have moved down that path in an effective way.  On the field, we have a system that I think has worked quite effectively.  I don’t agree with all of the decisions, but I don’t expect to.  Off the field, beyond the drug issue, it is very important for us to maintain our integrity and our brand.  We expect that the people that are involved with our game from the commissioner to the players to the coaches will uphold those standards.  We have three great young men here today that are finalists for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.  I’m proud of our players.  I’m proud of what they do, but we always have to make sure that we’re reflecting positively on the shield.  When there are violations along those lines, they impact on the integrity of the game.  That is something that the commissioner has had the  authority on for several decades, several versions of the CBA, and that is not something that we’re going to relent on.  We’re going to always uphold the standards of the NFL because the fans deserve that, and I believe the players deserve that.  That is the commissioner’s role, and you can hold me accountable for it, and I will stand by my decisions.”

 

I wanted to ask you about your comment about minority hiring in coaching, and you saying that you weren’t satisfied with it. What do you think are some of the issues that continue to make this a problem and what’s going to bring about real change?

 

“First, the Rooney Rule has been very effective over the last decade, but we have to look to see what the next generation of the Rooney Rule is.  What’s going to take us to another level?  We’re committed to finding that answer.  That’s going to have to come from conversations with a lot of people in this league to find out exactly what can be  most effective  in allowing our talent to excel.  And that’s what it is – we want to make sure we have the best people in the best possible positions, and give everybody the opportunity to do that.  We want to focus on how do we get to a Rooney Rule, or an extension of the Rooney Rule, or a new generation of the Rooney Rule, that will allow us to do that?  There was full compliance with the Rooney Rule.  There were, in fact, I believe, a record number of interviews.  But we didn’t have the outcomes that we wanted, and the outcomes are to make sure that we have full diversity throughout our coaching ranks, throughout our executive ranks, and throughout the league office.  It’s very important to the success of the league to do that, and we’re committed to finding those solutions.”

 

I know you highlighted player safety in your opening statement. What was your reaction to the NFLPA’s study yesterday that said 78 percent of players do not trust their team’s medical staffs?

 

“I did hear that yesterday.  Last week, we met for four hours with union officials.  Several players were there.  Several owners were there.  They did raise the issue of making sure we have proper medical attention, but they didn’t raise those statistics.  That was news to me as of yesterday.  I’m disappointed, because I think we have tremendous medical care for our players.  These are not just team doctors.  These doctors are affiliated with the best medical institutions in the world – the Cleveland Clinic, Stanford, Hospital for Special Surgery.  The medical care that is provided to our players is extraordinary.  Now, we will always seek to improve it.  We will always seek to figure out how we can do things better, provide better medical care, but I think it’s extraordinary.  And as I talk to players – including one yesterday – they feel the same way, but we’ll have to address that and we’ll have to figure out what we can do to try to improve it.  One of those I also mentioned in the opening.  We’ll add a neurosurgeon on the field that can be there for consultation, that can be there for another set of eyes on the field, and to support the doctors in making the best possible decisions on the field, and off the field.  And I believe our doctors do that.”

 

You went to owners meetings in Dallas last year and met with MADD. How disappointing is it that so soon after Jerry Brown’s death that his teammate is arrested for DWI, and is there something else that the league can do to tell the players that this is unacceptable?

 

“Well, Charean, I think we have to go beyond telling players or telling executives.  The reality is we have to do a better job of educating people in the NFL that this is a priority.  This is for your safety, for the safety of the people in your car, and for innocent people that are out there.  There are services designed to help them make better decisions before they leave their homes.  We have to make sure that they understand those services, and most importantly, take advantage of them, use them. We did meet with MADD, and I met with MADD last week.  We’re going to engage in a number of programs to help educate all of our clubs – players, coaches (and) executives – on what we can do.  Victim impact programs have been very effectively used with several clubs over the past several months.  We’re going to do that because this is a high priority, not only for the sake of safety, but it’s part of our responsibility in the communities that we live.”

 

Yesterday, the NFLPA was very vocal about singling out dissatisfaction with Dr. David Chao, the Chargers’ team doctor, and said it requested the league find a ‘suitable replacement’ for him. What is your response to that request and also comments that NFL players deserve better than Dr. Chao?

 

“In the CBA, at the union’s request, we entered an agreement that is called Article 50.  Article 50 states that if there is an issue with any medical decision, or the medical professionals of the club, there can be a solution by engaging with independent doctors, I believe three neutral doctors, including an NFL attorney, and they will review the matter.  As I understand it, that is exactly what is going on in San Diego. We’ll allow the process to unfold. I’m confident our doctors make the best possible decisions for the players, and we’re going to stand behind that. We’ll engage in the process and let it unfold.”

 

The Rams and local stadium authority are waiting for an arbitrator’s decision on stadium improvement proposals there. Are you confident that the parties can resolve their differences and that the Rams will stay in St. Louis?

 

“I haven’t gotten an update on the arbitration process. I expect the possibility of a decision in the next couple of weeks.  It is, as you know, a clause and a part of a contract that they initially agreed to when the Rams came to St. Louis 12-15 years ago. That is something we are engaging in. We want to make sure that the team gets the stadium issues resolved because they need to have the type of stadium that will help support them for the long term in St. Louis. I believe that the business community and the officials in St. Louis want that outcome. I believe Stan Kroenke wants that outcome.  They’re all working together to try and get there. Again, the process is unfolding and I hope they’ll be able to reach that agreement.  I’m optimistic they will.”

 

If they cannot pass the renovations, is the NFL willing to provide any stadium funding for those improvements?

 

“We’re willing to do that in any market where there is a public/private partnership, to allow the other 31 clubs to help contribute to financing the stadium that will help solve the problem for the long term.  If we can get to the point where we have the structure of a deal, I’m very confident that the league will support that and participate.”

 

The 18-game schedule is still on the table. Is that a reality?  And, HGH testing. is that going to happen or not?

 

“Let me start with the second portion of your question.  I believe that HGH testing is going to happen prior to the 2013 NFL season.  It’s the right thing to do for the players, for their health and well-being long-term.  It’s the right thing to do for the integrity of the game. It’s also the right thing to do to send the right message to everybody else in sports.  You don’t have to play the game by taking performance-enhancing drugs.  The science is there. There is no question about that.  Baseball, Olympics, everyone believes that the science is there and are utilizing the tests, so we need to get to that agreement.  On the first part of your question, we’re always going to reevaluate our season structure.  We’ve been very open about the fact that we want to address our preseason. Do we need four preseason games?  Do we only need two or three? How do we continue to develop talent? How do we continue to evaluate players?  The fans’ reaction to the quality of preseason is a big concern.  So, we have to do that collectively.  That’s what our CBA does. If we wanted to implement an 18-game schedule, we could have done that in the prior CBA.  The ownership and management agreed that we would do that collectively and we would consider and balance the player health and safety issues with that.  So, we’ll continue to evaluate that. I think the changes we made in the CBA, particularly in offseason training, the training camp period and even during the regular season – eliminating contact, allowing players to get away from the game – that’s been great for the players.  They deserve that.  Every player I talk to tells me they feel better at this time of the year than they’ve ever felt in the past.  I think that’s a direct result of some of the changes in the CBA.  We will continue to figure out how we can improve with our season structure, but we will not make changes  if we can’t do it in a safe and effective way.”

 

The union yesterday advocated the appointment of a chief safety officer to overview all player safety, and that would be mutually agreed upon, whoever that person is. Also, advocated credentialing for all team doctors and trainers.  Do you see anything that could stand in the way of those kinds of advancements with player health and safety?

 

“Well again, Albert, let me start with the fact that we spent four hours last Friday meeting with union officials, including many players and owners, and that issue did not come up.  It was not raised during that entire four hours. That being said, I would tell you that I believe safety is all of our responsibilities.  I can’t appoint somebody who’s going to make the game safer as an individual. That’s all of our responsibilities.  I’ll stand up, I’ll be accountable. It’s part of my responsibility, I’ll do everything.  But the players have to do it.  The coaches have to do it. Our officials have to do it.  Our medical professionals have to do it. All of us are going to have to do that.  All that being said, since I just heard this in the last 12 hours, I’ll do anything that’s going to help us make the game safer and better. They have my commitment on that, so I’ll be happy to engage in the dialogue in a meeting where we can talk about the plusses and the minuses and how we make the game safer.”

 

First of all, I have been to 41 Super Bowls.  I don’t want to brag on that, but here is what I want to ask you for all of these people.  The first ticket to the Super Bowl only costs $12 and that was in Los Angeles. Now, the tickets cost $850, $950 and $1250.

 

“It sounds like the prices went down.”  (Laughter)

 

Well yeah, they are down in a certain manner.

 

“I hear you.  I understand your point.”

 

The thing I wanted to know, and I have asked you before, is there some way to put a cap on this thing so the ticket only sells for a certain price?  The other thing I was going to say is about the Pro Bowl and that you will still leave it in Hawaii except come after the Super Bowl.  A man makes the Pro Bowl, and he might make the Super Bowl, but the way it is with this arrangement is I still think it would be better after the Super Bowl the way it was before.

 

“OK, well let me start with your question because the second was a comment.  The first part of your point was, ‘Could there be a cap on the Super Bowl ticket prices?’  I would tell you that we have worked very hard to try to keep them reasonable and to try to give access to people so they can attend the Super Bowl.  It is very difficult because, as you know, they are being sold on the secondary market at multiples of the face value.  So, a couple of years ago, it may have been five years ago because it was the first year I was the commissioner, we put a cap on a certain number of tickets so that they could go to the fans.  I think we capped it at $500.  We found that a lot of times, most of the time, those tickets ended up on the secondary market at multiples.  I want our fans to be able to attend NFL games.  I want them to be able to come because they want to enjoy the experience and enjoy the event  and it’s affordable and that it’s safe.  But the realities are that there is a market demand, and there is a limited number of tickets.  Only 70,000 people are going to get into that Superdome, but there are hundreds of thousands of people here in New Orleans that are celebrating and part of the event.  We work hard to try to engage fans, create the NFL Experience and allow people to be able to come and be part of the event, but there is only a limited number of seats.”

 

Looking back, do you have any regrets on how the Saints bounty investigation was handled?  Even though the player penalties were overturned ultimately, do you feel like the message was still sent to the teams and to the players to avoid this type of behavior in the future?

 

“Let me just take a moment and get back and make sure everyone is clear on the record.   There is no question there was a bounty program in place for three years.  I think that that is bad for the players, for the game, and I think the message is incredibly clear, and I don’t believe that bounties will be part of football going forward.  That’s good for everybody.  I do think that message has come through clear.  As it relates to the regrets, I think my biggest regret is that we aren’t all recognizing that this is a collective responsibility to get them out of the game to make the game safer.  Clearly the team, the NFL, the coaching staffs, executives and players, we all share that responsibility.  That’s what I regret, that I wasn’t able to make that point clearly enough with the union, and with others.   That is something we are going to be incredibly relentless on.”

 

How do you define innovation to improve the NFL?  Whether it’s consumer marketing, digital media, player safety, game operations, or the fan experience, is it solving a problem or satisfying a need in a glamorous way that increases value?  Within the NFL, is innovation primarily viewed as an ideology or viewed as a process that is less glamorous but more productive?

 

Well, innovation is something that we are proud of.  I made that point in my opening remarks. It’s a philosophy.  It’s about you can always get better and it’s your responsibility to seek solutions.  I like solutions.  I believe in solutions.  You have to identify problems and find those solutions.  But you also have to have a commitment to finding a better way, and that is part of innovation.  What is tricky in an organization like the National Football League is we rely a lot on our tradition. That is important to us.  We believe in it.  It’s what we are all about.  I said this when I became commissioner, I said it to the owners when they fortunately selected me for this job.  I said, ‘Our biggest risk is being complacent.  We cannot assume that our success is going to continue just because we have been successful.’  I think the last six years, we have continued to find ways to improve. Whether it’s player health and safety, whether it’s making the game better or more exciting, whether it’s giving the fans more opportunity to engage with the game of football closer. The NFL Network is now fully distributed.  People are engaging with the NFL on their cell phones. We have more ways for fans to engage, and that’s why I  like to say that there has never been a better time to be a fan.  Innovation is not just some theme.  ,It is something that  we feel in our core and something  where we are always going to live, to try to make things better.”

 

You’ve mentioned on previous occasions that the Competition Committee will revisit blocks toward the knee so we don’t have situations like Brian Cushing with the Houston Texans losing a season on a block like that.  Is the long-term goal of player safety to create a baseball-type of strike zone, which is mid-chest to just above the knee?  Have your studies shown that this is the safest way to avoid the head injuries and maybe some of the lower-limb extremity issues?

 

“There are several things. First, we’re going to review all low blocks.  In working with our Player Advisory Committee that Ronnie Lott and John Madden chair we talked about that earlier this year shortly after the Brian Cushing injury.  We need to review all of those low blocks.  It’s important for us to try to find ‘Is there a better way of doing what we’re doing?’  We are focused on that with the Competition Committee.  As it relates to what you call the ‘strike zone’, there is no question that there is a focus to try to get back to the fundamentals of tackling.  The number one issue is: take the head out of the game.  I think we’ve seen in the last several decades that the players are using their head more than they have, when you go back several decades.  There are several theories on that. The helmets are better; they feel safer using their head.  The facemask.  You can come up with a lot of theories that we’ve discussed. But the reality is we have to get back to  tackling, using the shoulders, using your arms properly to tackle.  And there is a strike zone, and that’s where we are encouraging our players to focus and our coaches to coach that way, and it’s made a difference.  We have seen a dramatic change in the way that’s happening over the years, so we’ll continue that.”

 

Vincent Gray, the Mayor of Washington D.C., recently said if the Redskins were ever going to entertain the idea of coming back to the District, there would have to be discussion about the name issue.  Recently, the most recent “Indian Country Today” polls, the largest Native American magazine, they dispute and contradict everything Sports Illustrated or the NFL  did about 10 years ago.  They say that the overwhelming number of Indians, American Indians, do not like the name, they feel it’s offensive:  Does the league try to absorb the legal costs for the team when they are sued over trademark infringement by American Indians?  And, as a progressive commissioner, how do you feel about the name, and do you have any problem with it going forward?

 

“Well, the first part of your question, I couldn’t answer.  I have no idea who pays the legal costs.  I do know that, growing up in Washington, I do understand the affinity for that name with the fans.  I also understand the other side of that, and I don’t think anybody wants to offend anybody, but this has been discussed several times over a long period of time.  I think Dan Snyder and the organization have made it very clear that they’re proud of that heritage and that name, and I believe the fans are, too.”

 

The various committees that are down here for next year’s Super Bowl have talked a lot about feeling a little bit of pressure carrying the banner for cold-weather cities.  Is what they do next year, and the success or problems of the logistical challenge they have, will that affect your future decisions or consideration of other cold-weather sites?

 

“The answer is undoubtedly the game next year is going to have an impact on future decisions for open-air, cold-weather sites.  We believe, though, in the New York/New Jersey market.  We think it’s going to be a fantastic event.  I have said many times before, and I believe that the membership has supported this through their vote of awarding the Super Bowl there, that not only is the community prepared for this – they have a great stadium with two teams.  The plans that have been developed for the Super Bowl, I think, are extraordinary, and they’re just beginning to be released, and we will be prepared for the weather factors, and this community can do that, but the game of football is made to be played in the elements.  Now, we hope they’re not extreme on one hand, but we’ll be prepared for that if that’s the case.  Some of our most classic games in our history were played in extreme weather conditions.  We know them all, the ‘Ice Bowl,’ some of the games that I look back as a fan and say, ‘That was fun.’  So I’m confident the people of New York and New Jersey, the two teams, the host committee are going to do an extraordinary job next year, and we’re looking forward to it.”

 

The largest attendance in the history of the league is in Mexico.  The first game outside the U.S. was in Mexico.  I wanted to ask you why hasn’t the NFL gone back since 2005.  Why?

 

“I’m proud to say I was at that game, and it was a great event. And you could see the passion of the fans in Mexico for that game, and we would like to be back there.  Our focus in the last couple of years has obviously been on trying to prove the model works in the UK.  We have to make sure that whenever we do come back to Mexico, and I expect we will, that we do it successfully,  with the right kind of television support, fan support and sponsor involvement.  The stadium will be the kind of stage that we want for that game. So I would expect if we are   successful in the UK, where we thankfully are continuing to grow, that we’ll have the opportunity to get back there.  And the sooner, the better for me.”

 

Any time frame?

 

“No.”

 

Yesterday the union talked about filing multiple grievances against the NFL, and it recently appealed its collusion loss in the Minnesota federal court to the eighth circuit.  Are you disappointed the relationship with the union has remained so litigious?

 

“Well, Dan, let me start with, the point is I don’t really control that.  What I think disappoints me is that we reached a very comprehensive agreement a couple of years ago for 10 years to take the game to another level, and unfortunately we’re spending most of our time focusing on issues that we had agreed to.  As you point out, collusion charges, which were very clearly dealt with in the agreement.    HGH was agreed to and we should have gotten to the point where we solved our differences and gotten that resolved.  Commissioner discipline – I can go on.  These are things that were resolved and are clear in the document and in our partnership.  What we need to do is get back to focusing on how do we all work together to make the NFL better?  I understand we’re going to have differences, I understand why there are grievances, I understand why there are lawyers, but we have to find solutions for the best interests of the game, and that’s my commitment and that’s what we have to work towards.”

 

Addressing the player safety issue, you said it’s a shared responsibility.  Well, earlier this year Alex Smith sustained a concussion, was forthcoming about his condition and while he was out, he lost his starting job.  My question for you is, how concerned are you that going forward players are going to be less honest about their condition after seeing a situation like that?

 

“I  believe very strongly that there’s a difference between a medical decision and a football decision.  I’m glad that he came forward and identified that he had an injury.  That wouldn’t be in the best interest of Alex in the short term or the long term, so players need to do that.  I also believe, and he’s been healthy for several weeks, that those are football decisions that the coach has now made.  He’s healthy enough to return to play, but the coaches made a decision that they’re going in another direction, and that’s something that the coaches have to do.  So while I understand somewhat the dilemma, the highest priority you can have is for players to make sure that they raise their hands when there’s an injury and so that they can get the proper treatment, because they’re not going to be effective as players if they have lingering problems, if they have lingering issues with a concussion.  They need to be as healthy as possible to compete in this league, and we all want to see the players on the field, but we let the coaches make the football decisions and the medical personnel make the medical decisions.”

 

First of all, do you feel welcome here in New Orleans given the way people feel about you in light of the bounty scandal?  We have establishments that have your picture that say, ‘Do not serve this man,’ or do you feel somewhat like you’re behind enemy lines?  Secondly, Saints fans want to know why you won’t return that second-round draft choice in the next draft?

 

“Let me take the first part of your question first.  I couldn’t feel more welcome here.  You know when you look back at it, my picture, as you point out, is in every restaurant. I had a float in the Mardi Gras parade.  We got a voodoo doll.  I’m serious, really, the people here have been incredible.  The last couple of nights I’ve been out with a lot of the people that I worked very closely with following the Katrina tragedy, and we celebrated the work that we did then, but what we did is we all reflected on how great that was that we worked together, and they couldn’t be nicer.  They couldn’t be more welcoming, and the same is true with fans.  Now, I understand the fans’ loyalty is to the team.  They had no part of this.  They were completely innocent in this.  So I appreciate the passion.  I saw that for myself when we were down here for Katrina, and it’s clear that that’s what they’re all about.  So I support the fact that they’re passionate in supporting their team.  On the last point, the reason there won’t be any change in the second-round draft choice is what I said earlier.  There are clear violations of the bounty rule for three consecutive years.  That’s not going to be permitted in the NFL.  That’s not just my judgment. Commissioner Tagliabue reviewed this, and had his own process and came to the same conclusion that there were violations.  So, the reason why we’re not returning any of the draft choices or any of the discipline is because it occurred, and it should not have occurred.”

 

Kind of piggybacking off that question, yesterday I talked with NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth, and he said because of the bounty scandal and everything that’s happened, trust has been fractured from the players within the league. How do you fix that considering penalties were levied, and then they were vacated twice by  parties other than you?

 

“Let’s make sure the record is clear that the first penalties were vacated only briefly to make sure that there was a distinction between what was a salary-cap violation and what was discipline on the field.  That body, the panel that was established by the CBA, made it very clear that that’s the authority of the commissioner.  The second issue is Commissioner Tagliabue and I agree on the facts.  There was no difference in the findings of the facts  with respect to the investigation done by the league overseen by Mary Jo White, verified by Commissioner Tagliabue’s process.  The only difference was that he vacated the disciple from the players.  We disagree with that.  I disagree with that.  I believe that we’re all responsible for what goes on in our locker rooms, on the field, as part of our game.  That’s a collective responsibility.  We’re not going to hide from that.  That will be something that – and I said it to our clubs in December when we met – everyone here should understand the responsibility for our rules will be enforced as fairly and as clearly as possible.  So I’m going to have to work harder to try to make sure that we can work together; we can trust one another.  But we also need to make sure that we understand that we’re going to have differences from time to time, and that’s OK.  But there needs to be a fair resolution and move forward in a positive way for the game of football.”

 

Could you tell us what the selling out of two games in London for 2013, what kind of message that says to your ownership with regard to potential UK franchises?

 

“I think the message is very clear.  There are passionate fans that love the NFL in the UK and, I believe, globally, and that there is another step that we need to look forward to in London. We’re already beginning that process.  What’s the next step, beyond the two games?  Should we move to three?  Should we consider other alternatives to continue to accelerate the growth of the game in the UK?  But I think that’s a positive reaction from the fans and our ownership understands this is a market where we need to be more active, and that we need to continue to grow our game.  Thank you.”

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Mutiny On The Bounty-Gate

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Mutiny On The Bounty-Gate

Posted on 06 November 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

If  you think that you’re having a tough 2012, look no further than to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for some perspective. Goodell’s 2012 has been terrible, and from the looks of things 2013 isn’t set to begin much better for the embattled commish.

After dealing with a labor lockout, and officials lockout, a rash of concussion related lawsuits and an over the top level of professional disdain from nearly every player with whom Goodell has had to deal, the commissioner is still entrenched in the midst of the controversy that won’t go away as the league continues to try and find their way through bounty gate.

 

While the suspended players’ plights are still tied up in the appeals process, thereby continuing to add life to this story we are bombarded with reminders of one of the league’s uglier scandals; a scandal that most would have imagined would be well in the league’s rear view by now. There’s still no real assurance that anyone, aside from Saints former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, current assistant (and interim head coach) Joe Vitt, and GM Mickey Loomis will ever actually be punished for their roles in the scandal.

 

One would have to imagine that there’s a very real possibility that at some point soon if notorious whistle blower Anthony Hargrove doesn’t find employment in the NFL he’ll be looking to raise his complaint to defamation and attempt to prove a conspiracy that has blackballed from the league as a result of his role in the investigation. And now, as a result of a voided contract by the commissioner’s office, it appears that Saints head coach Sean Payton might come out of his “punishment” in better shape than ever.

 

Like Peyton Manning last year, Sean Payton’s absence in 2012 is serving as little more than an illustration of just how important he was to the Saints organization, and a reinforcement of his value. Now like Manning too, Payton will find himself a free agent at the end of his suspension, able to sell his services to the highest bidder. Unlike Manning, there are no health issues related to Payton that might have teams reluctant to take a chance on signing him.

 

So now, as punishment for standing by their man, the Saints will be likely forced to pay a king’s ransom just to match the efforts of other clubs anxious to attract the hottest commodity in coaching once the bidding process can officially begin.

 

It hardly seems fair that the Saints and their fans have been punished for the wayward culture that Payton and his minions presided over while Payton himself will likely come out on the other side of things better than ever. It’s tough to imagine this was the commissioner’s ‘intent, but it continues to be his mess.

 

 

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Here’s an idea:  Don’t enter the stadium until after kick-off on Thursday night

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Here’s an idea: Don’t enter the stadium until after kick-off on Thursday night

Posted on 25 September 2012 by Drew Forrester

As fate would have it, the next game on the NFL schedule takes place in Baltimore this Thursday night.

That means, of course, the national spotlight will center on M&T Bank Stadium when the Ravens take on the Cleveland Browns.

In the aftermath of Monday night’s thievery in Seattle, where the Seahawks (now 2-1*) were gifted a game by the replacement officials, I’m suggesting that Baltimore stand up and make a statement this Thursday night.

This will never happen, of course, because people by nature are afraid to be daring, but I think the ultimate kick-to-the-family jewels for the NFL would be to have their own TV network be forced to show the opening kick-off with NO ONE in the stadium.

That’s right — I’m suggesting all 70,000 fans do not enter the seating section of the stadium until after the ball has been kicked-off.

I’ll hear all of your silly complaints about “not hurting the Ravens” and all that other malarkey, but none of that stuff is as important as the real meat of the issue:  the NFL is not a legitimate sporting league right now.

If you’re attending Thursday’s game, you have the chance to be part of a peaceful demonstration of sorts.  You can file in quietly and safely after the kick-off.  No need to rush to your seats.  No running.  No pushing, no shoving (don’t worry, that stuff wouldn’t be called by the refs anyway.)  Just hang around in the concourse, drink a beer, have a burger, and when the ball gets kicked-off, make your way to your seat.

I would absolutely love to see the NFL Network be forced to show — even by accident — an empty stadium to start Thursday night’s game.

And please, please, please don’t tell me how this could “hurt” the Ravens.  They’re playing the freakin’ Browns.  They could spot them a 16-point lead and beat them by 10 if they want.

Stand up and be counted.

Don’t be a pansy.

If you have a ticket to the game on Thursday night, don’t enter the seating area until the game has started.

And for the 3rd time, I completely understand how some of you will throw the “this hurts the Ravens” comment at me.  Save your breath and your typing energy.  If the Ravens can’t beat the Browns simply because the fans didn’t enter the stadium until three minutes elapsed in the game, something is really wrong with the Ravens, not with the fans.

Stand up for the Packers, who were completely cheated out of a win on Monday night.

Stand up for yourself, the people buying tickets and jerseys and supporting the sponsors of NFL programming on television.

Stand up, frankly, for the Ravens, who might be the next team to get jobbed out of a game in a couple of weeks when some goof calls a touchdown in Kansas City on the final play when Ed Reed clearly had the ball before Dwayne Bowe.

Or you can just continue to let the league punch you in the face and head to the stadium early and get to your seat in plenty of time for kick-off, which is precisely what the NFL expects you will do on Thursday night.

They know you all too well.  They know you don’t have the balls to do something about the referee fiasco.  If you did, you’d help make the place empty at kick-off on Thursday night.

Send a message.

Make it peaceful.

Just walk in late and say to Roger Goodell and the rest of the people around the country watching the game on the NFL Network, “Baltimore will stand up and be counted.”

 

 

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Guilty as Sin

Posted on 30 March 2012 by Brandon Eyring

Unless you have been living under a metaphorical rock, you should be familiar with the Saints “Bounty-gate” scandal.

In case you were offended with the opening line because you do not understand much of the Saints current predicament, accept this apology of summarizing the essence of the situation.

The New Orleans Saints have been found guilty of initiating a pay-for-pain bounty system that targeted key opposing players from the seasons of 2009 to 2011 under the supervision of former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. From league reports, “knockouts” were worth $1,500 and “cart-offs” $1,000, with payments doubled or tripled for the playoffs.  The pool for the bounty program may have surpassed $50,000 at its height during the 2009 playoffs, the magical season New Orleans won the Super Bowl. To cite specific examples of wrongdoing, Saints defensive captain Jonathan Vilma offered $10,000 to any player who knocked then-Vikings quarterback Brett Favre out of the 2010 NFC championship game which the Saints ended up winning.

News of the bounty system directed by the Saints did not sit attractively with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The punishments handed out by the head honcho include Saints head coach Sean Payton suspended without pay for the 2012 season, which includes no contact with the team in any aspect. With his suspension, Payton will likely be forfeiting at least 6 million dollars in salary.

Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the bounty system’s ringleader, has been banned indefinitely from the league. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will review William’s case at the conclusion to the upcoming season to inquire if he is able to return to coach in the NFL. Among the rest of the suspensions to this point, Saints GM Mickey Loomis has been banned for the first eight games of the 2012 season, while assistant coach Joe Vitt received a six game suspension from the league for his role in the bounty system.

It is believed Payton and Loomis are the first head coach and general manager, respectively, to be suspended by the NFL for any reason. Payton’s suspension goes into effect on April 1, unless he appeals his punishment, in which case he will be able to keep his job for the length of the appeal. Goodell has made comments that he would expedite the hearing as well as his decision on the appeal.

Other punishments dished out by Roger Goodell include the New Orleans organization fined $500,000 and loss of 2012 and 2013 second round draft picks. Players that were actively involved in the pay-for-pain bounties will more than likely be receiving punishment after the NFLPA is through reviewing the case.

“While I will not address player conduct at this time, I am profoundly troubled by the fact that players — including leaders among the defensive players — embraced this program so enthusiastically and participated with what appears to have been a deliberate lack of concern for the well-being of their fellow players,” Goodell said. This quote illustrates Goodell’s desire to dish out punishment to players.

Evidenced by his stiff penalties, Roger Goodell has taken a strong stand against the Saint’s bounty program, and anything that may resemble it. He has called bounties in football “particularly unusual and egregious” and “totally unacceptable.”

“We are all accountable and responsible for player health and safety and the integrity of the game. We will not tolerate conduct or a culture that undermines those priorities,” said Goodell, whose league faces more than 20 concussion-related lawsuits brought by hundreds of former players. “No one is above the game or the rules that govern it.”

A major factor to the severe punishments to the Saints at this point includes Goodell being lied to. Sean Payton tried to keep the situation under wraps by denying the existence of any wrongdoing.

“When this first was raised over two years ago, there were denials. They frankly were not forthright with what was happening,” said Goodell, speaking at the NFL owners meetings in Florida. “And that continued. It continued even through our investigation into the past several weeks. “So it is a serious violation of our policy. It has zero tolerance in the NFL. And it is not acceptable to hide from the issue, continue to violate NFL policy and put players at risk. That is going to be dealt with very harshly.”

Reaction around the league has been similarly disappointed. Coaches have joined Goodell’s outstanding disapproval of the bounties and the need for the situation to be discussed.

“The commissioner wants the entire league to make sure it’s discussed — to go forward using it as an example, to stress there is no place for that in our league.” – Tom Coughlin, head coach of the world champion New York Giants.

“The precedent has been set by the commissioner and they need to understand that and it is not to be broached again. Going forward, we won’t have to go over these things again.” –Ron Rivera, head coach of the Carolina Panthers who play the Saints twice per year.

The impact of the penalties will have an immediate effect on the upcoming season. Without Payton, the Saints front office will need to not only find a replacement for their ousted head coach, but figure out who will be making personnel decision while GM Mickey Loomis is serving his suspension also. Prospects for the head coaching position could be within the organization. Current Saints defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has NFL head coaching experience so he will be looked at strenuously. Another big name being thrown around is Bill Parcells, Sean Payton’s mentor and former boss.

NFL experts say that Parcells to the Saints makes a lot of sense considering his close friendship and Payton’s job security. Payton has already claimed he is 100% certain he will be coaching the Saints in 2013. With that said, Parcells may be an excellent option for a one year interim coach. At 71 years young, he is still a Hall Of Fame coach and more than likely still has the drive to prove that he can win football games.

The outcome of the Saint’s bounty program remains a developing story. Keep close attention to updates in the news about developments because this situation is one of the most controversial in league history. Compared to the other  major controversial scandal of this NFL era, the discipline for the Saints’ involvement in the bounty scheme is more far-reaching and unforgiving than what Goodell came up with in 2007, when the New England Patriots cheated by videotaping an opponent. Goodell fined the Patriots $250,000, stripped a first-round draft pick, and docked their coach, Bill Belichick, $500,000 for what was known as “Spygate.”

The verdict is out on the Saints: Guilty as Sin.

 

 

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Ravens C Birk Wins Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award

Posted on 04 February 2012 by WNST Staff

BALTIMORE RAVENS CENTER MATT BIRK NAMED WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR

MATT BIRK of the Baltimore Ravens was named the 2011 WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR, it was announced today.  The award recognizes a player’s off-the-field community service as well as his playing excellence.

The announcement was made during NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special airing nationally on NBC Saturday night.

NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL and JARRETT AND BRITTNEY PAYTON, the late Walter Payton’s children, will honor Birk on-field tomorrow before kickoff of Super Bowl XLVI.

“I am honored and truly humbled to be named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year,” said Birk. “This award is not about the recipient, but rather a celebration of the decades-long tradition of NFL players using their unique platform to touch lives and make a positive and lasting impact in the communities in which they work and live. Walter Payton left a legacy that went beyond the playing field. He continues to be an inspiration and example of what a complete NFL player should aspire to become. I am grateful to have played for two organizations, the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens, which encourage and support their players’ community efforts. I have always considered it a privilege to play in the NFL and serve the communities that support our game.”

Birk, who just completed his in 14th NFL season, is the anchor of the Ravens offensive line and an undisputed leader on and off the field. The perennial Pro Bowl center has started 96 consecutive games, the NFL’s second-longest active streak among centers. In 2011, Birk helped pave the way for Ravens running back Ray Rice to score a franchise-record 15 total touchdowns and rush for a career-high 1,364 yards, also leading the league with 2,068 yards from scrimmage.

A family man and father of six with a passion for emphasizing the importance of education, Birk has focused a great deal of his energy on promoting literacy among the youth around him. The Harvard graduate’s “Ready, Set, Read!” program, an initiative of his H.I.K.E. Foundation (hope, inspiration, knowledge and education), reaches close to 100,000 children in the Baltimore area and motivates students to read at home through an incentive-based system. Birk’s work carries well past the many initiatives and successes of his own foundation. He is committed to bettering himself, his team, his community and the world. Birk has agreed to donate his brain and spinal cord tissue to the Center for Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University’s School of Medicine to help assist in researching the effects of repeated head traumas. Birk is an eight-time Man of the Year (seven with the Vikings, one with the Ravens), and was a finalist for the national award in 2008.

Birk joins an esteemed list of winners of the annual award, including 17 Pro Football Hall of Famers.  Recent winners of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award include MADIEU WILLIAMS, then of the Minnesota Vikings (2010), BRIAN WATERS, then of the Kansas City Chiefs (2009), and former Arizona Cardinals quarterback KURT WARNER (2008).

All 32 team nominees for the award receive a $1,000 donation from NFL Charities to the charity of their choice.  The three Man of the Year finalists received an additional $5,000 donation in their name. The selection panel is comprised of NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL, former NFL Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE, CONNIE PAYTON, Pro Football Hall of Fame members FRANK GIFFORD and ANTHONY MUÑOZ, Giants great and Executive Director of the NFL Alumni Association GEORGE MARTIN, 2010 winner MADIEU WILLIAMS, and Sports Illustrated football writer PETER KING.

The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award will receive the Gladiator statue, an original art creation by the noted sculptor, DANIEL SCHWARTZ.  In addition, the player’s favorite charity will receive a $20,000 donation in his name.

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The Ledge: Boise State, Redskins, Broncos, City of Dallas & the Commish

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The Ledge: Boise State, Redskins, Broncos, City of Dallas & the Commish

Posted on 31 October 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

When great expectations collide with poor performances fans tend to find themselves at the ledge. It’s that fan purgatory where blood pressure always seems to be rising and the sky always seems to be falling. Let’s take a look outside to see who’s on the ledge this week:

 

 

 

Boise State: It was supposed to somehow be their year. What’s more, this should have been a good weekend for the Boise Sate Broncos, instead it was just another in a series of tough late season blows for the “Little Engine That Could” of college football as the Stanford Cardinal not only survived a triple OT scare against USC, but catapulted the Broncos for the fourth spot in the BCS this week as a result.

 

The losses by Kansas State and Clemson had to be encouraging for the Broncos, and if the probability of USC upending Stanford as it was happening appeared too good to be true, it ultimately was. After starting the season with little #’s 5 & 7 in the two major polls next to their name, the Broncos appeared to be in line for their first legitimate shot at getting into the BCS title game if a few things broke their way. Lately it became apparent that they were the contingency plan for Oklahoma State at best. Now looking up at Stanford too, it seems that QB Kellen Moore and company will need lots of help in earning their “lifetime achievement award”.

 

Last but not least, it seems that in the era of conference landscape shake-up the Broncos, apparently Big East bound will still be looking at a future where the strength of schedule still serves to indict their record no matter how impressive.

 

Outlook: Stay positive, the weekend wasn’t a total loss. Clemson lost, K-State lost, and Stanford at least proved that they could be beaten. The Cardinal still have a showdown with Oregon and the PAC-12 title game to get through and Oklahoma State’s road may be even tougher than that. Boise’s BCS outlook may still be more realistic and closer than ever.

 

 

Washington Redskins: You started 3-1 and Rex Grossman’s misplaced confidence in declaring the Redskins contenders seemed to be both founded and contagious. Three straight losses and two quarterbacks later the Skins are fresh off of a 23-0 oak-sticking at the hands of the Bills and the once vulnerable looking NFC East is beginning to round more into the form that most expected to begin the season. The Eagles look to be clicking right now, the Giants and Cowboys both look talented but inconsistent and the Redskins look to be pulling up the rear.

 

Outlook: You knew it would eventually come to this, didn’t you? Even at 3-1 the Redskins were tough to buy into, now we’re being reminded of why. 

 

 

City of Dallas: The year began so well. The Cowboys played host to the Super Bowl and even though they expected to be in it and weren’t and even though the weather was an ongoing storyline throughout Super Bowl week, it’s tough to count that experience as a negative. In fact on the heels of the Super Bowl and tons of giant events at the new “Jerry-World” the Mavericks won the NBA Finals and the Rangers dominated most of the summer.

 

Now however, the Rangers arguably choked away their first world title twice in game 6 of the World Series then lost it in game 7, the reeling Cowboys are 3-4 and fresh off of an embarrassing Sunday Night performance on national television, and the Mavericks chance to defend their NBA title is on hold indefinitely as the NBA lockout drags on.

 

Outlook: Everything is bigger in Big D, I suppose panic is no different.

 

 

Denver Broncos: Okay, Tim Tebow stinks. It’s easy to tolerate when he’s winning and inspiring people along the way, but a win over a bad Dolphins team was just that no matter how exciting, and the reeling Detroit Lions exacted 2 weeks of frustrations on the Broncos on Sunday with ease. Tebow was a winner in college, but so were lots of NFL players, and even more who never made it or simply stunk in the NFL. Winning at this level is different, and Tebow has a long way to go before he can think about doing it consistently, and the current coaching staff may have no legitimate designs on waiting for him to be ready.

 

The Broncos are paying 3 quarterbacks good money, yet still have no real answer at quarterback. Additionally their win against the Dolphins while inspirational has them looking “up” at 4 teams in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes and on even ground (in the loss column) with 4 more.

 

Outlook: A team with 2 quarterbacks really has none; a team with 3 might have no idea what they’re looking for. Be afraid Bronco’s fans yours is a tough road ahead.

 

 

Roger Goodell: Mr. Ndamukong Suh would like to see you sir.

 

Outlook: Be afraid be very afraid.

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Ehrmann: NFL Players Should Honor Mackey With “88″ Patch This Season

Posted on 11 August 2011 by WNST Staff

From the official Baltimore Colts alumni release…

I will be officiating the Memorial Service of NFL Hall of Fame player John Mackey this Saturday, along with his brother, Rev. Elijah Mackey. Having been in pastoral ministry over twenty-five years, I have learned that when someone has led a relationally successful and meaningful life, it is an easy and celebratory service to lead and participate in. None should be easier than John Mackey’s – but it is not.

As a player, John is arguably the greatest to ever play his position. As a man, he is one of the most respected teammates, opponents, and men to ever play the game. He was the first President of the NFL Players Association and organized the NFL’s first player strike that led to increased player health and pension benefits. He helped lead and win a court challenge to end the “Rozelle Rule” which set the precedent for true free agency and the salaries enjoyed by current players. And for all he accomplished, his greatest legacy will be as a husband, father, family member and friend – and as a role model of authentic masculinity.

Yet, John Mackey will also be remembered as the most visible face of sports’ growing epidemic of traumatic brain injuries. In 2000 John was diagnosed with frontal temporal dementia that eventually led to his spending the last five years of his life in a full -time assisted living facility, unable to communicate, to recognize loved ones or to care for himself. With a push from John’s heroic wife Sylvia, his Baltimore Colt teammates and their advocacy group Fourth & Goal, the NFL and the NFLPA started the “88 Plan” named after John’s jersey number. The 88 Plan provides $88,000-a-year for nursing home care and $50,000 annually for adult day care for players suffering from various forms of degenerative brain damage.

I find it providential that after more than a decade of suffering, John Mackey’s life would end during the NFL’s longest work stoppage as the players and owners reworked their Collective Bargaining Agreement with new guidelines for health, safety and post-career benefits. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, upon learning of John’s passing said, “He worked closely [with] our office on many issues through the years, including serving as the first president of the NFL Youth Football Fund. He never stopped fighting the good fight.” NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, expressed similar sincere and heartfelt thoughts, “John Mackey has inspired me and will continue to inspire our players and define our institution. He will be missed but never forgotten.” I hope so.

John Mackey’s last sacrificial gift to the NFL and its players is the opportunity to lead the world of sports in educating athletes, parents and coaches of all ages and all sports on how to prevent, diagnose and treat concussions. While football is the most visible of concussive related sports, every game must address and work through the avalanche of evidence pointing to long term mental health issues related to head traumas. Yet, when Commissioner Goodell began changing the rules on hits to the head and imposing fines and suspensions, it was the players who pushed back. All-Pro linebacker Brian Urlacher represented the opinion of many players and fans when he said the NFL should rename itself “the NFFL – The National Flag Football League.” Kevin Mawae, the President of the NFLPA who represented current players at the recent negotiations, ridiculed Goodell’s crackdown stating, “The skirts need to be taken off in the NFL offices.” They represent the decades of players coached to make and celebrate the head-rattling hits that too many fans cheer and applaud.

While I do not know what conversations took place at the negotiating table upon hearing of John Mackey’s death, I’d like to think participants took a long pause and reflected on the life, legacy and tragedy of John’s death. I hope current players rethought the rule changes needed to protect players and the responsibility to model how the game can and should be played. John Mackey will be celebrated at the Memorial, I am sure. But more than words of gratitude and plaudits should be spoken to carry on the legacy of a man who “never stopped fighting the good fight.” To truly honor our fallen teammate and leader, I hope the NFL players will demand — and the league and union will agree to — at least one game this season where every player wears a “88” patch on their jersey and each team airs appropriate public service announcements aimed at educating coaches, parents and young athletes on the prevention of head traumas. Then John Mackey’s life will continue to inspire NFL players, address the moral responsibility of the NFL and NFLPA to current, past and future players and honor the game. That would make for a truly celebrative Memorial Service for a man who will be missed — but should never be forgotten.

Joe Ehrmann
Baltimore Colts 1973 -1980
Author of InSideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives

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