Tag Archive | "Roger Goodell"

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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Jah Reid

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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…

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.

: 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


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Where NFL-NFLPA labor fight stands (April 24)

Posted on 25 April 2011 by Chris Pika

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Paint me as a redneck; golf etiquette is for snobs

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Paint me as a redneck; golf etiquette is for snobs

Posted on 08 April 2011 by Rex Snider

I have thought of countless ways to begin this strongly opinionated rant, and I have concluded that its best to just be blunt; I think some of golf’s deeply rooted traditions are way too drab for the common sports fan’s liking.

This is not a recent awakening for me, by any means. I have felt this way for a long time, but I’m not a close observer of the sport and I have never felt comfortable in writing about the competitive balance or respective performances impacting the pro game.

However, given this is MASTERS WEEKEND, I figure this is as fitting time as any to reveal my informal and personal impressions of the culture surrounding this “gentleman’s game”. Of course, some of my rambling will be meant with jest, while other portions will be from the heart.

Indeed, I’m one of the guys who never really paid the PGA much notice until Eldrick Tont Woods arrived on the scene. Yup, I’m part of that HUGE viewing demographic that will watch portions of the late rounds on Sunday, if Tiger is in the hunt.

All of my additional observations, Thursday thru Saturday, are simply by coincidence …. or if I’m deliberately searching for a soothing voice – such as a golf commentator – to lull me into a Saturday afternoon nap.

I suppose the primary question to consider is “could the PGA do anything to further enhance and solicit the interest of myself and millions of others?” Frankly, I don’t know that answer …. but, I suspect the overall response would be a resounding MAYBE.

I think the PGA is too deeply entrenched in the heritage and rituals of the game. I find some of these rules, regulations and customs to be antiquated, if not silly. But, that’s just my opinion …..

In regard to criticism, I usually confront those who spew confrontational rhetoric with a challenge of suggesting improvements, rather than simply lobbing digs with no useful purpose for building a discussion.

You wanna take shots at the way something is done? Fine, but point out the ways to enhance the same process or product.

Today, I will answer my own challenge and point out what BORES or OFFENDS me about golf’s unique customs, and how I think the PGA could “modernize” its platform, in an effort to be more appealing to the mass audience.

I’m going to point out five particular rule/etiquette changes I would embrace, with overriding objectives of becoming more casual, informal and downright embraceable. In other words, my emphasis would be in conveying the following message to the PGA:


Enough with the rambling, below find my five proposed rule changes:

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Who's the "Face" of the NFL Lockout?

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Who’s the “Face” of the NFL Lockout?

Posted on 06 April 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

Remember when Jerry Jones was a new and maverick owner, taken to task by the NFL for his creative approach to maximizing team revenues outside of the league’s oppressive and collective marketing practices? In a “Rip Van Winkle” kind of way it feels like I’ve suddenly woke up to find Jones’ maverick model now par for the NFL course, but also to find Jones himself looked to as part of the league’s “old guard”. As the league’s owners have elected to opt out of the previous collective bargaining agreement citing increased expenses associated with stadiums etc. it’s tough not to turn a suspicious eye toward Jones and the billion dollar monument to his ego recently constructed in Dallas.

Indeed, Jones along with Bob Kraft in New England and the joint venture between the Jets and Giants in New York have wasted no opportunity to remind us of the great expenses incurred by each of those teams in building their new stadiums. Now it seems that they are leading the charge to recoup some of the money they so generously fronted, and are attempting to do it at the players’ expense. This however seems to be an argument almost exclusive to the aforementioned teams, and maybe a handful of others.


It’s probably fair to guess that for every owner who has reached deep and spared no expense in building facilities, there are probably two more enjoying cushy downtown real estate along with naming rights to their stadiums under farcical leasing terms subsidized largely by taxpayers. Stadium expenses for those teams, if anything, likely amount to the payback of loans taken out against property largely gifted to the teams courtesy of their cities. How do we quantify their increased expenses for those teams in the face of exponential growth to the league’s revenue pool in an otherwise stagnant economy?


Maybe we simply concede that any time the teams who are already substantially out earning everyone else begin clamoring for ways to increase everyone’s margins and thereby close the gap between the league’s best and worst earning franchises, representatives of the latter would quite predictably jump aboard.


What’s even more fun to speculate about is how much of a role Jones (and his new building) has in the recently unearthed – and still unfolding – drama surrounding the Fiesta Bowl and the misappropriation of funds scandal. It should have been an easy guess that once that building was constructed, it would somehow find its way into the BCS picture. The drama now provided courtesy of the Fiesta Bowl investigation would seem to open the door for just such a happenstance.


As cynical sports fans, jaded by so many years of corruption and mismanagement in seemingly all sports, we might guess that the reason folks have found inequities around the Fiesta Bowl is simply because they bothered to look; and that if they bothered to look at the rest, they’d likely find a similar brand of misappropriation. For that matter, how many “fun” and “creative” bookkeeping practices would we find in the books of NFL owners if they were ever compelled to open them? Luckily for those in charge of the other BCS Bowls, Jones has only one building (and therefore one Bowl) to shop; and luckily for those in charge of the other NFL teams the maverick Jerry Jones is riding with them. They’ve seen what it’s like to oppose him too.


So as Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith take care of all of the dirty work in the proverbial trenches of NFL labor, and player after player, owner after owner and agent after agent offer ridiculous sound bytes and summations of the proceedings, is Jerry Jones (and a small faction of similar minded owners) the driving force behind it? Is Jones the face of the lockout? Given his notorious ego, I’m not altogether sure he’d be unhappy about being the face anything, as long as it came with exposure.

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Biting the leg .....

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Biting the leg …..

Posted on 18 March 2011 by Rex Snider

As the father of a teenager, I find myself in the position of imparting sage advice quite often. I urge my daughter to prioritize, while remembering that unconditional love only comes from family. I stress commitment, and not necessarily to friends.

I struggle when it comes to her relationship with the opposite sex. In short, I freakin’ HATE BOYS. There is nothing more dangerous than a male teenager, and I’m convinced of it.

How do I know? I was one …..

In giving that parental guidance, I have seized several opportunities to remind my daughter that life will present her with impulsive opportunities to display emotional frustrations for the world to see. And, with the advent of social media, she has more such opportunities than ever.

My advice has been simple and twofold:

A) Just remember you can’t take it back. Writing or saying something, publicly, is a horse that never finds its way back into the barn.

B) Be careful not to bite a leg that’s connected to an ass you might need to kiss someday.

My daughter is 15 years old and she is going to make some big mistakes in the immediate future of her life. Some of her misgivings will be directly tied to ignoring her father’s words and some will be totally independent.

But, nearly all of her mistakes will be avoidable with some common sense and rational thinking. We can expect such breakdowns with teenagers, but it’s harder to rationalize such errors when grown men do it.

And, this is where today’s blog is headed …..

Over the last few days, we’re beginning to see NFL players taking verbal swipes at Roger Goodell. A legitimate, articulable dissent is understandable. But, salacious and demeaning assertions are simply a stupid means to venting frustrations.

Such ramblings will grab fairly anonymous individuals some immediate relevance and a blurb or two on Sportscenter. But, they’ll eventually regret saying such things, regardless of whether they ever admit it.

A couple days ago, San Diego Chargers linebacker, Kevin Burnett, seized his appearance during a radio interview to label Goodell as a “blatant liar” while also questioning the commissioner’s commitment to the NFL’s future. Of course, the rant propelled Burnett into that immediate relevance I just referenced.

Yesterday, Seattle Seahawks Guard, Chester Pitts, told reporters that he urged fellow players to take a letter received from Goodell and “set it on fire.” I suppose he’s running out of money to burn?

A year from now, this labor strife will be an afterthought, at most. We’ll be talking about the upcoming NFL Draft, NCAA Tournament and a new Major League Baseball season.

Outside of San Diego and Seattle, NOBODY will really utter the names of Kevin Burnett and Chester Pitts. But, you can rest assured Roger Goodell will remember them and their juvenile comments.

Don’t misunderstand my message …..

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Q&A with Derrick Mason ….

Posted on 15 March 2011 by Rex Snider

I would like to thank everyone who submitted questions for yesterday’s Q&A with Derrick Mason. As I mentioned, I think it’s always beneficial to gain information from a player of Derrick’s caliber and experience. I think you will find his answers to be direct and concise. He answered everything and certainly gave a fresh perspective on many misunderstood issues and beliefs. Below, find the transcript for the Q&A session …..

Will players be able to practice as a team or will that be cut off?

When the owners decide to lock us out, we can’t practice at the facility. Players will have to organize something “on the side” ourselves which would include finding and paying for our own location, medical staff, trainers, referees, venue insurance, etc.

Now that the union has decertified, will players be able to communicate with team staff, trainers, coaches, owners?

No. We can’t communicate with anyone except fellow players.

What were the major sticking points that led to the breakdown in negotiations? Was it just money?

Many factors led us to where we are today but one thing was the dollar amount that the owners wanted back. The owners say they are losing money. Players aren’t asking for any more money that what’s been negotiated in their individual contracts. The other issues are insurance benefits for players past, present and future and our health.

What are the possible outcomes at this point?

We could get a deal done in the next few weeks and it will be business as usual as far as schedules (training camp, etc.) It could drag out until June or later and season is delayed. As of now, it becomes litigation in the courts.

Why do players feel they have a right to see the owner’s financial records?

Because if the owners are claiming they are losing money, the players would like to have that proven. If it’s proven that there are losses then players would be willing work with that. The owners say they “need” to have an 18 game season (so they can make more money.) If it is going to be my body put at risk for that, I want to know that it’s justified!

I’m a teacher (policeman, firefighter, unemployed) When you’re a millionaire and we have nothing, why should we have any sympathy?

Nobody is asking you to have sympathy. This is a profession that we chose and regardless of what money we making or not making, we want it to be fair. If the city wanted money back from the police, the police should fight that. Just because I happen to have a profession that pays more than some others, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t stand up for what I believe is fair and right. Comparing me laying down and not fighting for what’s right just because I make more than a teacher, for instance, isn’t comparing apples to apples so to speak. Regardless of my situation or yours, there is always someone FAR worse off than we are. Does the fact that there are people in this country and others who are much worse off than you mean you should forego what you think is right? What I make in the profession I chose has nothing to do with what someone else makes in the profession they chose. One thing isn’t relevant to the other.

Can you break down how the player insurance works and how/if the league compensates a player who suffers a career ending injury? Especially the young men who have their career cut short before they earn enough to actually retire.

As long as you’re an active player, your insurance is paid for. Once you have been in the league 3 years then you retire, you get five years of insurance benefits. If a player has a career ending injury that is handled through workman’s comp, not health insurance and those benefits. It’s important to be a part of a group because of high risks, pre existing conditions, etc. It’s not about paying for the insurance as a retired player, it’s about being easily rejected and not insurable as an individual at all regardless of cost.

What about people with season tickets? How does that work if there is no season or if it’s shortened?

I have no idea…you would have to call the Ravens ticket office (they are some of the nicest people in the world and will be happy to help!)

How can the players just walk out on the game at the expense of the fans?

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Blog & Tackle: SI’s look at Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith

Posted on 20 February 2011 by Chris Pika

As the deadline for the expiration of the CBA between the NFL and the NFLPA gets closer, Sports Illustrated took a look at the two people who are at the head of the negotiations, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith.

The league and NFLPA are in uncharted waters with Goodell and Smith at the helms for this negotiation. At some point an agreement will be reached. The how and the how long are the unknowns. So, it is appropriate to pull back the curtain on the two men who are the faces and driving forces for their respective sides.

SI and SI.com’s Peter King wrote the personality piece on Goodell, “The Man of the Hour” for the Feb. 7 edition, and some parts are worth noting as the two sides try to reach an agreement.

First is on his relationship with his employers, the 32 NFL owners.

Goodell will have trusted lawyers and owners by his side during the negotiations, but make no mistake: This will be a deal the commissioner drives, in meetings both with the NFL Players Association and its head, DeMaurice Smith, and with leaders of the 32 franchises. One ownership source says Goodell’s level of trust among the owners is so high that if he recommends an agreement that passes muster with the players, it will easily get the three-quarters vote (24 of 32 teams) necessary for passage.

One thing Goodell has proven in private is that he will staunchly defend the “shield” as he calls it. Michael Vick ran afoul of it with his dogfighting activities, and learned first-hand.

But the commissioner has a cold and confrontational side that serves him well in staring down miscreants and business adversaries alike. “The way Roger talked to me when I was still hiding from what I’d done was such a slap in the face,” says Michael Vick. “Like, ‘Don’t you lie to me!” With stronger language than that. It was rough.”

Goodell was also key in the negotiations with the city of Cleveland to get a new stadium and an expansion franchise in 1996 that would take over the old Browns colors and records after the original Browns franchise moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens.

“There would not have been a deal without Roger,” says Cleveland’s chief negotiator Fred Nance. “No way. He came into a city under siege and was hard-nosed and stubborn. But he was sensitive to figuring out what we had to have to make a deal, and how much he could compromise knowing he had the owners to answer to whatever he did.”

Goodell and Chairman of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics Dick Ebersol are good friends, and the league and network are business partners, but this exchange shows where Goodell draws the line, and what the negotiations between the league and the players’ association might be like.

Now, fast-forward to the 2009 negotiations between the NFL and NBC over extending the network’s broadcast contract for 2012 and ’13. The NFL, according to Ebersol, insisted on a rights fee of $600 million a year, though NBC wasn’t getting a Super Bowl in either of those seasons. Ebersol and Goodell had a few back-and-forth discussions, and Goodell finally said the NFL wouldn’t take a dime less than $600 million.

“There was a coldness and a ‘that’s it’ tone in Roger’s voice that was chilling,” says Ebersol. “At his heart Roger can be a cold son of a bitch. I think the people on the other side of the negotiating table are going to hear that in the coming months. He’s going to show mettle, and he’s going to do what he thinks is best for the National Football League. It’s what he’s always done.”

On the other side of the table is Smith, who was profiled by SI’s Jim Trotter in “The Fighter” for the Feb. 21 issue.

When Smith took over the reins of the NFLPA, he was replacing a legendary and dominant figure in Gene Upshaw, who passed away in 2008. Smith had plenty of Upshaw’s observations and notes to work from as he prepares to negotiate with the NFL.

Smith reaches into his papers and pulls out a program from a 1991 union meeting. Former executive director Gene Upshaw, preparing to speak to player reps, wrote some introductory remarks in cursive on the back of the program. Smith begins reading to himself, then stops halfway through and recites: The owners will always take short-term loss for long-term gain.

Upshaw governed the NFLPA as a lone figure, but Smith’s style is more inclusive, trying to give the players a larger voice in the direction the PA will take in the coming weeks.

Smith doesn’t believe in secrecy. Before his election he told players he wanted them to take more control of their careers and their futures, and that if they were unwilling to educate themselves and be more involved in the process, he wasn’t the man to lead them. The other candidates included Troy Vincent and Trace Armstrong, two former players who’d served as union presidents, and a prominent lawyer, David Cornwell, who once worked in the league office. Smith was elected by a vote of 32-0.

His negotiating style is framed by a current player representative.

As much as Smith relishes a fight, he also knows he’ll have to make concessions to strike a deal. He has presented the league with a proposal for a rookie wage scale and made a counteroffer regarding the league’s proposal to reduce the players’ share of revenues. “De is a very intense guy, but he’s also a realist,” says All-Pro center Jeff Saturday, the Colts’ player-representative. “He’s not just a hype man. He’s telling you there are going to be things we’re going to have to compromise on, and here’s why. You have to be up front and honest. Not everything is going to go the players’ way. He’s done a good job of balancing that, so the guys understand that we’re in this to get this thing finished and to get a new agreement in place.”

Where the NFLPA has been effective is that unlike Upshaw, Smith isn’t afraid to prod the NFL’s power players. Earlier in Trotter’s story, Smith references the term “3-D chess” to describe the intricate game between the owners and players. Here is an example of one “chess” move.

One of the ways Smith tries to determine the power players in the league is by “poking the elephant” to see the reaction he’ll get. He has filed multiple legal challenges, including a complaint that the NFL left money on the table in its TV contract extensions in exchange for guarantees that the owners would be paid in 2011. (The special master in the case ruled that the league would have to compensate the players but did not nullify the agreements; the NFLPA is appealing that decision.) Smith has also charged the owners with colluding to limit player movement and earnings during the 2010 free-agency period. (That complaint is pending.)

And another “elephant-poking” move on Smith’s board:

Consider the collusion case. When the union leaked word that it would be filing suit, Smith received a call from Goodell urging him not to go forward. At that point Smith asked if the owners would make certain concessions during the lockout if he dropped the claim. Goodell asked for 30 days to consult the owners. Eventually he came back and said there would be no concessions. Those close to Smith say the endgame was not necessarily to get the concessions but to determine whether Goodell had the influence to get the owners to budge.

In both articles there are stories about Goodell’s and Smith’s upbringings, and how particular incidents in their lives shaped how they see the world today. The two men are not dissimilar in makeup, but both will have to work hard to find common ground.

They don’t have the close personal relationship at this point that their predecessors, Upshaw and Tagliabue, had. But both seem to have the strength to shut out the rhetoric that each side has to spew in labor negotiations, find a way to get things their side needs, and most importantly, allow the other side to save face when the deal is done.

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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Domonique Foxworth

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Ravens CB Domonique Foxworth: “I personally and the players and the fans gain nothing from there being a lockout”

Posted on 16 February 2011 by Ryan Chell

Domonique Foxworth

Ravens corner back Domonique Foxworth may have been inactive for this season, but here in 2011, the former Maryland Terp has been hard at work in representing not only his Baltimore teammates but all general NFL players as a member of the executive committee representing the players association.

Joining Foxworth on this 10-person committee are Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Chiefs LB Mike Vrabel, former Titans C Kevin Mawae, Brian Dawkins, Colts C Jeff Saturday, and FB Tony Richardson of the Jets.

Labor talks, revenue sharing and the threat of an NFL lockout of the players issued by the 32 owners have been the heat of discussion this off-season so far since the Green Bay Packers took home the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XLV.

With the two sides-the players and the owners-having until March 3rd to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement, Foxworth and the player reps from all 32 teams have desperately trying to gain an audience with league ownership so not only can they agree on how the league revenue should be separated but to also ensure that the players have games to attend in 2011.

Foxworth joined Rex Snider on “The Afternoon Drive” to give the latest on the talks-which so far have not gone well.

“The last few meetings have been called off so I can say it’s not going well,” Foxworth told Snider. “I’m hopeful. I wouldn’t go as far to say optimistic, but hopeful that cooler heads will prevail and we’ll get in the room and lock the door. If it takes a week, just order room service…whatever…we’ll figure it out. That’s what I want to do.”

“There’s definitely been a lot of posturing,” Foxworth said of the meetings he has been involved with. “I’m young to this…so I try to take in a lot and learn. But the kind of negotiating tactics I saw were new to me. I just wanted to go in the room, sit down, and talk it out. But I guess it never can be that simple.”

The two sides are arguing over the split at least eight million dollars in revenue.

Despite owners recently walking out of a scheduled meeting, Foxworth was optimistic that a deal would get done before the possibility of games being played or not becomes a concern.

And even if there was, he said he was going to make sure a lockout doesn’t occur.

“Everyone is aware that we have a deadline approaching and that people on both sides will get together and get serious in the room,” Foxworth said. “I expect to be in that room and like I said before I’ll do everything in my power to make sure we have a season.”

Domonique Foxworth

Foxworth is one of ten members of the executive committee of the NFL Players Association, and he said it’s on guys like him to give the player’s perspective when it comes to what the issues are, and given the front that NFL PA Director DeMaurice Smith has put up, it may be on guys like him to be the messenger between the league’s owners and the players.

“I give the players’ perspective,” Foxworth said. “We have the executive director, we have lawyers, we have staff that are there to represent the players. There’s nothing like being an active player and having a former player in the meetings to represent their interests.”

“I know what it likes to be in camp. I know what it’s like to be hurt. I know what it’s like to be a free agent, a rookie, and all those things are places most of the players in the league will experience. It’s important to speak up and the let the voice of the players be heard during the meetings, not just before or after.”

He also said that its imperative the fans know what is going on as well between the players and the owners because the fans are putting their hard earned money into the pot as well and they stand to miss a lot should games be in jeopardy next fall.

That was one of the reasons why Foxworth made time for WNST.

“I think the fans deserve to know as much as we can tell them,” Foxworth said. “There are some things we can’t tell them to conserve the integrity of the negotiations, but one of those that we think we deserve to know and the fans deserve to know is what the finances and the economics of the league are, just being told what it is. But ‘Be Quiet…Sit Down’ just doesn’t work for us and it doesn’t work with the fans.”

But the request by the players for the owners to open their books-that may be the thing that has set the owners off the most.

And that’s why Foxworth has been adamant about trying to get everyone informed about the discussion, get the discourse going in the hopes of getting something resolved. And he’s open to advice on that matter wherever it should come from.

In the end, especially for Foxworth who missed this season due a torn ACL in the first walkthrough before training camp, he just wants to be on the field no matter what.

“I just want to play football and I feel like the fans feel the same way. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the owners and the leagues does.”

“I personally, and the players and the fans gain nothing from there being a lockout but it’s really not going to be good for anyone for there to be a lockout.  Our window with the Ravens is still open, and a lockout for the season will be devastating for this team and this city.”

Foxworth hopes to come back in 2011 with a new CBA in place and hoping he can be that shutdown corner for the Ravens.

“I think we have all the components in place for a championship run,” Foxworth told Snider. “I think we had them last year and the year before that. We need to make that run before it’s too late because our time is now.”

WNST thanks Domonique Foxworth for joining the Afternoon Drive to give us the latest updates on the NFL CBA talks! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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