Tag Archive | "Roger Goodell"

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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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Bumpy road ahead to new NFL CBA agreement

Posted on 22 July 2011 by Chris Pika

ATLANTA—As word leaked out that the NFL owners had voted 31-0 on their proposal for a settlement of legal issues and the terms of a new CBA last night, rumors that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith had been on the phone during a prolonged (and unplanned) dinner break by the owners seemed to suggest that there was an agreement in principle in place.

As we found out not more than 15 minutes after the NFL’s press conference at the Atlanta Gateway Marriott announcing their vote and going over the particulars of the league’s proposal, the howls of protest via social media by players and leaking of two NFLPA emails from Smith and NFLPA general counsel Richard Berthelsen seemed to suggest that the players were blindsided by the owners.

It should have been clear (but wasn’t at the time) that the men lined up behind Goodell during the press conference — NFL Executive VP of Labor/League Counsel Jeff Pash, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, New York Giants owner John Mara, Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II and Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt — never once smiled, even wearily, as the months of negotiations were at an end.

They knew what we were finding out. The road to ratification is filled with bumps that could still derail the process. It’s easy (in some respects) to get 32 people to agree to a proposal (the supplemental revenue sharing deal brokered during the day between the owners was a bigger story that got lost in the later events). It’s harder to get 1,900 people to share one vision, especially when there are competing personal interests inside the group.

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It’s time to name the GENIUS and JACKASS of the week …..

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It’s time to name the GENIUS and JACKASS of the week …..

Posted on 15 July 2011 by Rex Snider

Each Friday, Ryan Chell and I ponder the rosters of sports personalities that have made a GOOD or BAD impression throughout the week. We consider athletes, coaches, owners, media and just about anyone else with a connection to sports.

Fittingly, we call the segment GENIUS & JACKASS OF THE WEEK …..

Given the sparingly thin amount of sports action over the past seven days, I really had to dig deep for my current list of nominees. And, in keeping things fresh or ever changing, I have decided to list my potential recipients for your consideration:

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GENIUS OF THE WEEK

1)  Roger Goodell: by simply taking the high road and keeping his mouth shut regarding the James Harrison/Men’s Journal article, he merits support and a more positive image in the immediate future. And, God knows he needs it.
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2)  Vince McMahon: the dude has absolutely no shame and he’ll gladly be the butt of a joke or the proverbial “slapdick” when he walks into the rasslin’ ring in front of a national audience. This past Monday night, he emerged after months of seclusion to counter a good exchange with noted heel, but audience favorite, CM Punk. Do you think Vince knew he had some competition with the All Star Homerun Derby? Yep …..
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3)  Mark Reynolds: yeah, yeah, I know this incident actually took place last week, but we didn’t learn about it … OR the photo … OR the photoshopped images that would create such a buzz on the web, until just a few days ago. Say what you want, MILLIONS of people now know Reynolds wears #12 … and that he LOVES sunflower seeds.
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JACKASS OF THE WEEK

1) PacMan Jones: uh oh … you know what this means, right? Correct, PacMan ended up behind bars AGAIN. And, I know the world was shocked to learn he got arrested in a nightclub. After that, the story gets sketchy. Police say Pac’ resisted arrest. However, the Bengals misfit claims the cops are lying. Sure they are … and they probably fabricated the facts in the other 1,384, 277 incidents, as well.
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2) Steve Durham: I realize you probably don’t recognize the name, but he’s the federal prosecutor who entered prohibited evidence in the Roger Clemens trial. That’s correct, the long awaited perjury case ended in a mistrial during its FIRST WEEK. Hey, what’s a few million dollars of taxpayer money? We’ll see ya again, in September.
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3) Derek Jeter: the dude racks up his 3,000th hit while garnering adoration and accolades from an entire sports lovin’ nation, and what does he do to show his gratitude? He skips the freakin’ All Star Game !!!! Yeah, he’s nursing an injury. But, he looked fine, last weekend. I don’t care if he’s sore … he owed it to the FANS to show up in Arizona.
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Well, who would your choices be? You can find out my selections during today’s Afternoon Drive, which kicks off at 2pm …..

(NOTE: JAMES HARRISON IS BEYOND BEING A JACKASS; THUS, HE IS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR THIS AWARD)

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Former Teammates, Others Remember Greatness of John Mackey

Posted on 07 July 2011 by WNST Staff

A number of former teammates and NFL personalities have chimed in with reactions to the passing of former Baltimore Colts TE John Mackey, via AM1570 WNST or press releases. Here are a few of the reactions:

Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti:
“We are tremendously saddened to hear about the passing of John Mackey, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Sylvia and the entire Mackey family. I was fortunate to get to know John and Sylvia personally, and I was struck by her love and loyalty throughout the difficult times of his illness. John set the standard by which tight ends are measured on the field, and he will be sorely missed not only by his family, but also by the entire Baltimore community.”

Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome:
“I am mourning the loss of John Mackey, and my deepest condolences go out to his wife Sylvia and the Mackey family. John revolutionized the tight end position during his Hall of Fame career, and he laid the foundation on and off the field for modern NFL players.”

DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA):
“John Mackey is still our leader. As the President of the NFL Players Association, he led the fight for fairness with a brilliance and ferocious drive. His passion continues to define our organization and inspire our players. His unwavering loyalty to our mission and his exemplary courage will never be forgotten.”

Indianapolis Colts Owner/CEO Jim Irsay:
“I am deeply sorry to learn of the passing of John Mackey. John was as identified at his position as any player who has played in the National Football League.  John combined size, speed and power in being only the second tight end ever voted into the Hall of Fame and earning a spot on the NFL’s 50th Anniversary Team.
His statistical numbers have been eclipsed as the game has evolved, but those in football recognize to this day how John impacted the game.  He authored big moments with his on-field ability, such as his memorable 75-yard scoring reception in Super Bowl V. John’s passion for the game extended beyond his playing years, and he is one of the most notable figures in league history. We extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to John’s wife, Sylvia, and the entire Mackey family.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:
“John Mackey was one of the great leaders in NFL history, on and off the field.  He was a Hall of Fame player who redefined the tight end position.  He was a courageous advocate for his fellow NFL players as head of the NFL Players Association.  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.  Our thoughts are with Sylvia and the Mackey family on the loss of our good friend.”

Former Colts WR Raymond Berry:
“He was a combination of a lot things, very intelligent, great personality and one of the most well liked players on the team. He was very unselfish, and had a great sense of humor, so he was a delight to be around.  He was the whole package. I’m thinking his playing days far outshadow, anything he did after his playing days. He was such a performer for so many years for the Colts, to me that’s his legacy.”

Former Colts RB Tom Matte:
“It’s a sad day for Baltimore, but I think overall the quality of life that John had in the end was tough. I don’t think there is any question about it that he should have been in the Hall of Fame a lot earlier than he got in. But John, in my estimation was the first big, fast tight end that could catch the ball, block, and make the big plays.  John Mackey was at the forefront of the leadership. There is a lot of respect out there for John Mackey, and what he did as a player, and what he did off the field in negotiations. He’s a great guy, he will be missed, but he is in a better place than he was.”

Former Colts LB Ted Hendricks:
“I was a rookie coming into the league and there was none any better then him at tight end.  To practice against him I’ve learned a lot of things from him.  To me it made the games easier because there was nobody that I played that had more talent than he did. He was definitely a consummate tight end.  Everything, each attribute that he had.  His blocking ability, his pass catching, and not only that but running with the ball after he caught it.  And you couldn’t ask for anything better in a tight end than that.”

Former Colts DE Ordell Braase:
“The thing (I most remember) was the first time I saw John Mackey, how impressed I was with him. Do you realize that he did not get into the Hall of Fame until the last vote? He should have been just an out and out slam dunk on being into the Hall of Fame.”

Former Colts QB Earl Morrall:
“It’s a very somber day, John Mackey was one of my favorites, he is one that really produced for you, and one of the best during his time playing.  John was a great blocker, good solid, opened up the running game for us. He’d release and then go up the field and catch the ball. Defenses would shiver when he got the ball because he would go through them. He could play any day.  He gave you every bit he could on the field.”

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley:
“Today, we reflect on the life of John Mackey, a great Baltimore Colt and one of football’s legendary players.  His remarkable talents on the football field revolutionized the tight end position and earned him a place in history in the Hall of Fame, while his loyalty, determination and integrity off the field have earned him a place in our hearts.  We are saddened by his passing and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time.”

Baltimore Ravens RB Willis McGahee:
“He’s a great guy. Meant a lot not just to our time, but with our time. He set the pace. It’s our job to continue his legacy.”

Detroit Lions Hall of Fame TE Charlie Sanders:
“His loss is a tremendous loss, not only for the NFL and what he stood for, but it’s also a reminder of what this game is all about. I didn’t have a hero or idolize anybody growing up, so he was the one player that I idolized and tried to copy more than anyone else throughout my career. I took pride in trying to get to the top where he was. He’s going to be sorely missed.”

Former Colts C Bill Curry

“I loved John like a brother and he was a great mentor to me, in addition to being a great player.  When you are with great human beings you usually make the mistake of not appreciating them until you don’t have them anymore.  And I am going through a lot of that right now.  What I remember is his rookie year.  Watching number 88 returning kickoffs and when he came exploding out of the end zone it was terrifying.  I said I have never seen anything like that in my life.”

Former Ravens TE Dan Wilcox

“Rest in piece to John Mackey out there.  I definitely send my condolences to his family as well.  Coming to a town like Baltimore and playing in a city like that, you would love to get a piece of what John Mackey had while he played in the NFL. To be around someone like a John Mackey and all the other Colts that are around Baltimore was an amazing experience. John Mackey was definitely one of the best, one of the all time greatest.  And you hate to lose a guy like that.”

Former Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick

“I was so fortunate that when I first came to Baltimore to have a chance to meet so many of the great former Colts and John was one of them.  …That smile of his, that energy, that orb that he had, his love for the game, his love for the Colts.  To watch Shannon and Ozzie communicate and talk with John and the reverence they had for him and what he represented, it’s a loss for all of us.”

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Westminster, Maryland …. a true victim of NFL selfishness

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Westminster, Maryland …. a true victim of NFL selfishness

Posted on 24 June 2011 by Rex Snider

In the wake of the Ravens announcement regarding the cancellation of training camp at McDaniel College, I have been carrying out an impassioned plea for the business community in the Westminster surroundings.

I have no direct stake in the race; no business interests or immediate family residing in the Carroll County area.

But, I do have a heart and sense of fellowship …..

At the core of this frustrating situation, from my perspective, is the reality of witnessing the very first casuaties of the National Football League’s battle among its division of owners and players.

I suppose that’s a given of “war” huh? The innocent always seem to get caught up in the crossfire – or they pay for simply being in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

I could probably spew a couple dozen analogies and clever quotes aimed at sensationalizing the plight of the Westminster business community as we’re now a couple days removed from the training camp cancellation.

But, I’ll just be blunt …..

The NFL owes Westminster.

Will Roger Goodell, along with 32 ownership groups and thousands of players see it at that way? Of course, NOT. After all, the self-serving audacity and nearsightedness of both factions have caused such a resulting problem.

Amid reports of renewed optimism and the possible immediacy of a resolution to the lockout, it appears owners and players might be championing a “deal struck” within the next week or so …..
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They’ll be certain to iron out differences regarding shared revenue, free agency, length of seasons and wage caps for rookies. But, will either side pull their head from the sand (or somewhere darker) to notice the carnage and financial loss suffered by a specific community supporting the NFL product?

Once again, no.

They’re too busy looking out for themselves.

As I said on Wednesday, this is not specifically the fault of the Baltimore Ravens organization. From the outside peripheree, we have monitored Steve Bisciotti living up to his word on how his organization would handle the crisis.

There has been no mudslinging, nor hardline public stances by ANYONE in Owings Mills. And, most Ravens players have been rather muzzled on issues, as well.

The Ravens have delivered championship-caliber football to Baltimore and its loyal surrounding of purple lovin’ communities. And, more importantly, the Ravens organization has been top notch stewards of good public relations.

The problems and associated fallout from Carroll County’s economic loss is at the hands of a bigger behemoth than the Ravens. That’s just the direct truth.

Make no mistake about it, the NFL owes Westminster’s business community some gesture or commitment of amending the upcoming loss of business.

The very businesses on and around that Route 140 corridor are symbolic and very authentic victims of the NFL’s stubborn manipulations.

As they come to an agreement, will either side step up and say, “before we nail this down, what are we going to do in helping the communities directly affected by this lockout?”

Yeah, right …. you’ll have a better chance seeing Joe Flacco, Lamar Woodley and Dhani Jones vacationing together at Disney World.

I don’t have the answers on how to help Westminster. But, I do know the NFL has an obligation to do it. Then again, they’ve probably missed living up to a number of such obligations over the last few months.

Once again, its not the direct fault, nor the direct responsibility of the Ravens to aid Caroll County’s businesses. But, saying “we’ll see ya in 2012″ is not a remedy, either.

I know fans haven’t reacted much, at all. That’s typical fandom, though. Wait ’til the end of July rolls around and thousands settle for a day or two of reassembled training camp observations at M&T Bank Stadium.

Kids will get over it. Adults will get over it. But, will all the businesses that depend on a stream of revenue flowing into the Westminster business community survive it? Maybe …. maybe not.

My hearty congratulations to every member of the National Football League, in anticipation of your upcoming labor deal. It’s certainly about time. Meanwhile, it’s a shame you had to sacrifice some “small guys” in the process.

But, that’s business in America, huh?

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With 2011 Ravens training camp in Westminster history, community finally feels cruel reality of lockout

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With 2011 Ravens training camp in Westminster history, community finally feels cruel reality of lockout

Posted on 22 June 2011 by Luke Jones

On a night in which Baltimore was abuzz with the legendary rock band U2 playing a monumental show at M&T Bank Stadium, Ravens fans took a hit unlike any they’ve felt in the 16-year history of the franchise.

With Wednesday’s announcement of the Ravens moving their 2011 training camp from McDaniel College in inviting Westminster to the inaccessible confines of their training facility in Owings Mills, the NFL lockout just became very real for fans and a local community itching for the annual return of football in late July.

The annual day trips to a Wednesday morning practice — accompanied with a stop at Baugher’s for breakfast or dessert or Harry’s Main Street Grille for lunch — will be wiped out, even as the owners and players appear to be moving closer to an agreement to end the more than three-month-long work stoppage. The economic impact on the Westminster community will be substantial as an estimated 112,000 fans flocked to the Carroll County town in late summer of 2010.

“We’re disappointed we won’t be back at McDaniel and in Westminster this summer. We delayed the decision as long as we could,” said Ravens vice president of operations Bob Eller in a press release. “There are logistics that needed to be addressed now, including McDaniel’s schedule, the [Best Western] hotel, the fields and other Ravens football functions. Right now, we don’t know dates for camp, and we’ve been forced to make other plans.”

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Those plans mean a training camp held in the Ravens’ extravagant year-round facility in Owings Mills. The team’s lease agreement with Baltimore County does not allow fans to attend practices at the complex, with parking restraints and travel infrastructure unsuitable for training camp crowds, according to team president Dick Cass.

The Ravens hope to hold “one or more” camp practices at M&T Bank Stadium for fans to attend free of charge. And Cass revealed the team has already held discussions with McDaniel College to return to Westminster in 2012 and beyond, a key revelation considering the Ravens’ contract with McDaniel expired last year.

Fans can only hope this is a one-year aberration and the Ravens make good on their stated intention to return to Westminster next summer. However, it’s no secret that many NFL teams have moved training camps to their year-round facilities in recent years, citing reduced costs and fewer distractions in preparation for the regular season.

But the lost goodwill in those cities has to be substantial compared to the priceless memories created when thousands of purple-clad fans flock to Westminster every August.

“We hope to have a full NFL season in 2011, but the current timing compelled us to make this decision,” Cass said. “We waited as long as we could, but we’re beyond the dates when we could efficiently prepare for the move to McDaniel for a normal training camp start. We do fully anticipate, however, to be back at McDaniel next summer.”

Given the organization’s upstanding reputation for always doing the right thing for the greater Baltimore community, the Ravens more than deserve the benefit of the doubt, but you never really know when dealing with uncharted territories. A smooth training camp in Owings Mills followed by a successful — even championship? — season might entice the organization to reconsider its position.

But time will only tell what the future holds for Wesminster and the Ravens’ summer plans beyond this season.

Even if a collective bargaining agreement is reached and the preseason and regular season go off without a hitch, the first real damage has been done to the fans in this fight between billionaires and millionaires.

Westminster’s local economy will suffer.

Families with financial constraints that make purchasing pricey game tickets nearly impossible will miss chances to see their favorite team in person.

And countless kids will lose opportunities to brush elbows with the likes of Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs, and the rest of their football heroes.

To this point, fans could afford to feel indifferent to the labor situation without any consequence.

The NFL draft went off without a hitch, even with the gray labor cloud hanging over the New York spectacle and the boos raining down on commissioner Roger Goodell.

Fans aren’t able to watch off-season training programs or organized team activities such as rookie or veteran minicamps that were wiped out by the work stoppage.

But a lost summer in Westminster is terribly disappointing for anyone who’s made the trip to McDaniel to see the Ravens up close and personal.

The Ravens had to make the difficult call to pull the plug on Westminster with a labor agreement still far from a sure thing despite the recent progress. I won’t beat the organization up too much given the collective role that all 32 owners and thousands of players have played in this mess.

As is typically the case in matters such as this, the fans took the major blow on Wednesday.

And it’s a damn shame.

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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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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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When all else fails, lean on me for some great Friday Mud

Posted on 06 May 2011 by Drew Forrester

We call these “the dog days” in the world of sports talk radio.

The NFL draft has come and gone.  And this year, with no mini-camps on the horizon, the football-discussion landscape is extremely bare.

The Caps have made their predictable early exit from the NHL post-season.

The NBA playoffs are still ongoing but only 81 people in Baltimore know it and even fewer want to talk about it.

That leaves us with…the Orioles.

And that’s it.

But you know what?  I’m OK with that, because I still contend this is a .500 baseball team and they’ll continue to hover around that mark for most of the summer.  (I know, I know…”Drew, what good is a .500 baseball team?  That’s not going to take them anywhere.”)  I think .500 baseball will still give us plenty to talk and write about over the next few months while we sift through the wreckage that is the NFL lockout.  They’ll have a 7-game winning streak in there.  They’ll be within 7 games of a wild card spot in August.  They’ll always be on the edge of being out of it, but just close enough that people like me who are believers will say, “If they just sweep this series in xxxxx, they’re right back in it.”

I’ll say what I’ve said since late January about the Orioles.  If they stay healthy (and there are definitely signs – like J.J. Hardy – that “injury free” probably won’t happen) this team is FULLY capable of playing .500 or better baseball in 2011.  If the hitters hit, they have a chance to win every night.  I know they WON’T win every night…I get that, but the way they pitch, they’ll have a have a chance every night as long as those bats produce.

And next off-season, when they really ARE a player or two away (read:  a bat or two) from maybe being really good, Andy and Peter will co-sign on $200 million for Fielder or Pujols.

OK, I’m officially nuts.  That’s something an editor at Orioles Hangout would write.

Let’s just get to .500 first, then we’ll spend $200 million.

Speaking of $200 million, that’s about what I think I could fetch for Friday Mud if I could somehow start an IPO and put this up for stock sale.  I just don’t have a good venture capital guy – or gal – to lead the charge.

So here it is again, free of charge.  Consider yourself VERY fortunate that I’m not more of a go-getter or you’d be swiping your credit card right now.

———————————————————————————–

>  I’m thinking somewhere “up there”, the sports gods are giving the city of Cleveland a treat. The Browns have been horrible for much of the last decade, LeBron snubbed them for South Beach and the Indians, of course, haven’t been the same since they choked away a 3-1 ALCS championship series lead in 2007.  So now, the gods have sprung the Tribe out to a 20-8 record and folks in the land-of-Cleve are suddenly excited about baseball again.  It’s all good right?  Cleveland deserves this, correct?  NO WAY.  Cleveland deserves no good fortune until the greatest travesty in that city is corrected…immediately.  If these guys RIGHT HERE don’t make the Hall of Fame, may the Indians lose 20 straight at the end of the season to blow a 15.5 game September lead.

>  OK, so we all know Roy Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball right now, right?  I can’t imagine anyone would argue that point.  So let’s argue about something.  Who’s the best “young” pitcher in the game?  And by “young”, I’m talking about 24 and under.  Who is it?  I know who it is.  For sure.  It’s THIS DUDE.  When he signs with the Yankees in a few years, he’ll win multiple Cy Young awards.  Watch and see.  (And before you check…Felix Hernandez is 25.  Gotcha.)

>  I don’t know about you, but I’m done with the lockout.  Enough with it already.  I’m starting to wonder if maybe both sides aren’t craving the media coverage they’re getting from all of this.  In a sad, twisted way, they’re both trying to win the fight by baiting the public to bite the hook thrown out by the press.  I’m sick of hearing about it, reading about it and wondering which side is really telling the truth.  Answer to that:  probably neither side is actually telling the truth.  A few weeks ago here in Friday Mud, I said perhaps Judge Judy should rule on the case.  She’d get it right.  Upon further review, I know someone else that is FULLY capable of taking this thing over and presiding over whatever mediation is needed to get the owners and players back on the same page.  THIS MAN would fix those ego-maniacs on both sides.  You can make book on that.

>  It seems like every week or so, I publish a mean-spirited comment about the Philadelphia Flyers.  A few of you who are ardent fans of both the Flyers and Friday Mud have reached out to me and asked that I “take it easy” on the boys in orange. One person even went as far as to call me “callous” in the way I poke fun at the Flyers.  I certainly don’t want to come across as callous.  So…I’ll do it.  I’ll offer a kind message to all of you who are fans of the Flyers.  It’s not easy for me to do, mind you, but if you’re a diehard fan of the Flyers, go ahead and CLICK HERE for your special thought.**

>  Did you notice Roger Goodell hugged all of the NFL first-round draft picks last Thursday?  And they weren’t quick “good to see you dawg” hugs.  They were real hugs.  They were “love you, dude” hugs.  Ahhh, but maybe there was more to it.  Our WNST staff photographer was in New York for the draft and happened to position himself on the far LEFT of the stage, where he caught the Commissioner giving the hug and then casually, discreetly slipping something into the left jacket pocket of all the draft picks.  One of them removed his sport coat to sign some autographs and the photographer grabbed the item out of his jacket pocket and took a quick photo of it.  OK, the hug thing makes sense now.  After all, THIS ITEM that Goodell slipped to his new employees is certainly vital in today’s NFL.

>  THIS RIGHT HERE is what’s important.  Learn the words.

>  Another spring in Baltimore/Washington, another playoff dismissal of the Capitals.  This time, the Tampa Bay Lightning polished off our ice-heroes in four games.  And now, naturally, people are calling for the head of Bruce Boudreau or demanding that Alex Semin be sent packing.  I’m getting lots of calls and e-mails about the Caps…”What do they need, Drew?  Please tell me.  What does my team need?”  HERE is the simple answer to that question.

>  I don’t care who you are, THIS STUFF never gets old.  It’s timeless.  The whole family gets in the act.  They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore.

>  Mark Reynolds of the Orioles keeps a unique calendar on the inside of his locker, both home and away.  Some guys put pictures of their wife or kids up…some just pick a hot girl from a magazine and pin her up…others put a quote from the Bible up.  Our staff photographer snuck in and grabbed A QUICK PHOTO of what Reynolds puts up as a way to keep track of what’s going on in his life.  I hope he has 10 more blank pages for the rest of the season.

>  I googled the phrase:  ”Three things you’ll never see in Danny Briere’s life” and oddly enough, here’s what came up:  THIS, AND THEN THIS, and FINALLY THIS.##

>  Anyone out there who says “they don’t make real music anymore” obviously hasn’t heard this band or THIS SONG.

The Shoot Section (where I speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth)

In last Friday’s edition of Friday Mud, I made a point of referencing a recent ratings drop by one of our competitors and made light of a fictitious “bumper sticker” that I thought would be appropriate to put on cars in their parking lot.  ”Tom” took a moment to contact me with a rather scathing email about how he doesn’t like the fact that I took a shot at “the good people” (as he called them) at that other station who are just trying to earn a living like we, at WNST, are trying to do.  I know a lot of people in Baltimore sports radio.  Some of them I like, actually.  In fact, there are people who compete against me and WNST that I would go as far as to consider “friends”.  But that doesn’t mean I’m going to take it easy on them when we’re competing, because I’m not.  They certainly haven’t “taken it easy” on me when they’ve been competing with us.  It all reminds me of THIS SCENE from Training Day (warning: contains a few objectionable words…OK, more than a few.).  In other words, what we do, the competing we do:  ”this s**t’s chess, it ain’t checkers.”  Truth?  Our competitors would love to see WNST go out of business.  That’s the way it goes.  I’m cool with it.  So when our competitors slide in the ratings, it deserves a mention.  Lord knows they’re not going to mention it themselves. And I know for sure all of our competitors have spent lots of time on the street reminding folks that “no one listens to WNST”.  It’s all good.  We’re just competing.  And it’s fun.  At least it is to me.


** – that’s about as nice as I can be to Flyers fans.  Nothing personal…

## – that image of the female is what you see when you google the words “pictures of pretty women”.  I’m merely saying Briere wouldn’t have a pretty woman surrounding him.  I’m not at all saying Briere doesn’t like women or wouldn’t have a woman around him at some point in his life.  In fact, I did a google search of “Danny Briere’s high school prom date” and this RIGHT HERE is what came up.  Whatever that means…

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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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