Tag Archive | "Roger Goodell"

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

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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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NFL kicks fans in the face with Super Bowl XLV

Posted on 06 February 2011 by Drew Forrester

Well, the Steelers lost the Super Bowl.

That was about the best thing that happened on Sunday.

The rest of it…the fiasco with the seats, the national anthem, the halftime…it all brought a crashing halt to what was supposed to be America’s most celebrated Sunday party.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s true:  The NFL somehow f**ked up the Super Bowl.

It took 45 attempts, but the league finally wrecked their showcase event.  If I didn’t know better, I would have thought the Orioles were running it.  In their never-ending attempt to squeeze every available dollar out of every interested fan, the NFL botched the construction of temporary seating and left 400 folks without a seat to the game.  They’ve known for four years that this game was coming to Dallas on February 6, 2011 and somehow they didn’t have the stadium ready.  The excuse-makers will say “yeah, but 102,000 other people got in and they were happy”, but that’s not the point, particularly if you were one of the 400 who got hoodwinked out of your seat in the rafters.

Then there was the national anthem.  No longer is just playing the song good enough.  These days, because the carnival has to have a sideshow to keep everyone interested, someone has to sing the Star Spangled Banner with their own special flair and unique sound.  This year, that someone was Christina Aguilera.  She’s a great singer.  But she botched the song Sunday night by goofing up the lyrics.  That stuff should happen at a minor league hockey game, where a local 19-year old girl wins the chance to sing through a radio station promotion.  It should NEVER happen at the Super Bowl.

And just to fully support the “when it rains it pours” theme, there was a wretched halftime performance by Black Eyed Peas to give twitter nation plenty to tweet about during their 13-minute performance.

Everything about the Super Bowl these days is related to excess.

The tickets cost too much.

The commercials are overpriced.

The TV coverage is too long, too boring and almost puts too much emphasis on one 60-minute game.

The national anthem singer forgets the song is more important than her.

The stadium has four years to prepare for the game and even then they’re not ready.

And the halftime show chases people away instead of keeping them glued to the set.

Super Bowl 45 will be remembered as the one that had Green Bay winning over Pittsburgh, 31-25.

Unfortunately, that was about the only part of the day that went off appropriately.

The rest of it was a clusterf**k, with the most important flop coming before the game even kicked off when the league had to inform 400 people they didn’t have a seat for them.

Those folks came from Pittsburgh, Green Bay and points beyond, all hoping to see the game in person and no doubt paying inflated prices for everything from airfare to hotels to tickets and everything else in Dallas all week.

The NFL, of course, has promised to reimburse those people three times the amount their tickets cost.

That’s not good enough.

When you’ve risen to the heights that the NFL has attained and you put the game and making money ahead of the fans, you’ve lost your way.

If the game has gotten too big for the league, they should scale it back and get it right for everyone.

Leaving out the fans, disrespecting our national anthem, and making the game more about entertainment isn’t what the league’s premier football contest should be about.

The NFL’s black eye – no pun intended – is shining brightly.

They screwed up their biggest event.

And worst of all…they probably don’t even care.

Everyone got rich on Sunday.

Except the 400 people who didn’t get in.

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Super Bowl Sunday …. or Saturday ???

Posted on 02 February 2011 by Rex Snider

We have all considered ways of improving selective sporting events, right? From reducing prices for Orioles tickets, to allowing fans to bring food into Ravens games, all of us have ideas for making our experience more enjoyable.

And, as far as opinions and suggestions go, EVERYONE has an idea or two when it comes to improving the presentation of a Super Bowl …..

Let’s face it, the NFL goes thru a lot of painstaking planning to pull off the biggest party and celebration of any and every sports year. For the most part, they get it right. But, they also make some questionable calls.

I understand some of the decisions are rooted in tradition, and historic habits are hard to break. But, some creations and orchestrations are just mind-boggling, if not silly.

Here are my suggestions for improving the BIGGEST EVENT OF THE SPORTS YEAR …..

Super Bowl Saturday – Why does the NFL stick its head in the sand on this subject? I realize an overwhelming majority of football games are played on Sundays, during the regular season. But, this is an event that is witnessed by football and non-football fans, alike.

Some traditionalists will say “Sunday is for football.” And, the business savvy might view Saturday as an evening of social events and personal entertainment. But, I don’t think a single soul who enjoys the Super Bowl will forsake it for an opportunity to enjoy “movie night” at the local theatre.

If the Super Bowl was played on a Saturday evening, the populous of America would have a day to recover from partying, before starting a new work week. And, those who travel for the game would also have that built-in day to get home, before Monday arrives.

Am I alone in wanting to see a Super Bowl on Saturday, instead of Sunday?

Halftime Entertainment – Yeah, I realize this is a trivial component.  But, who really selects the musical artists performing at halftime. After five successive years of great acts, including the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Prince, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, the NFL has struck a DUD in these past two shows.

Last year, we were subjected to an awful performance by The Who, as they failed to deliver on an extravagant stage. Perhaps, the Roger Goodell could’ve sent someone to see The Who perform or audition to see if they still had “IT” – which they don’t !!!!

This year’s selection, The Black Eyed Peas, are an obvious step down in the legendary quality found among recent performers. Are the Black Eyed Peas really the best act the NFL could imagine? I can see an intent to provide a more relevant artist, in today’s market, for the worldwide audience.

That said, veteran acts, such as ACDC, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Madonna and Def Leppard would have been better choices. In the realm of more current acts, Jay-Z, Coldplay, Kenny Chesney and Green Day would have been more resonating, as well.

For the record, none of the above mentioned acts have ever performed at a Super Bowl.

Ticket Distribution – Is there a more equitable method for ensuring FOOTBALL FANS get access to Super Bowl tickets? Under the current system, every NFL player gets tickets to the game and thousands more are distributed to sponsors, partners and bigwigs.

Only a fraction of tickets are actually available to the very people who pay the freight and ensure the National Football League exists; THE FAN.

I’m imagining nearly every football enthusiast would love to attend a Super Bowl in their lifetime. But, the secondary market appears to be the only viable way of getting tickets. Based on this year’s sales, how many of us can afford $2,000 for a single seat? Not me ….

Well, do you have ideas or suggestions? I will bounce this subject off Thyrl, when we spend a couple mid-day hours together, around lunch time. Have a GREAT Wednesday and stay warm !!!!

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Just in the nick of time, it’s Friday Mud

Posted on 28 January 2011 by Drew Forrester

Boy, oh boy, do I have just the thing for those tired, aching muscles.

No, it’s not Vicodin.

It’s Friday Mud.

On a 1-to-10 scale right now, how sore are you from shoveling on Wednesday and Thursday?

Be honest.

I was about an “8″ on Thursday as I sat down to put this edition of Friday Mud together. By the time I was finished — and I had read it to myself 2-3 times — my pain level was down to a “2″.

Seriously.

I went from a 10 to a 2 in the span of about 15 minutes. I hadn’t felt that good in a long time.

OK, who am I kidding…I took a Vicodin.

But you should still try the exercise anyway…rate your pain right now. Read Friday Mud. Then tell me how you feel. I’m interested to know.

———————————————

>  If you see Orioles pitcher Troy Patton in Fells Point, toss him a pair of your boxers and say, “Just trying to help, dude”. Then point him to THIS TIP in Friday Mud. He’ll thank you later.

>  By now I’m sure nearly all of you have picked up the latest copy of Baltimore Magazine which features “Baltimore’s own” Jen Royle of MASN as one of our city’s Sexy Singles.  Evidently Jen’s photo shoot didn’t go so well.  When she arrived at the location, the magazine staffer handed her an outfit and asked her to get dressed.  Royle replied, “But I brought something that I think depicts my style a little better.”  Fortunately, the editor wouldn’t allow Jen to wear THE CLOTHES SHE BROUGHT TO THE PHOTO SHOOT.

>  Not sure if you heard or not, but Roger Goodell told the NFL owners this week that if there’s a lock-out on March 4, he’ll work for THIS until a settlement is reached.  Within minutes of that news hitting the street, Goodell was offered a job at double that salary by THIS GUY.

>  The President of our country is perhaps the most polarizing figure this side of Merton in Indianapolis.  You either love Barack Obama or…well…you don’t.  If you’re on the fence, THIS should fix things for you.  Yep, he’s a rat fink.

>  So I like going to Google and typing in random phrases to see what pictures pop up.  For instance,  I typed the words “How stupid can you look with a cigar in your mouth?” and THIS GOOF SHOWED UP.

>  Song #8 on my all-time favorite CD is THIS GREAT SONG from John Cougar Mellencamp.  The video is pretty cool, too. Check out the three farmers in the beginning.  The dude on the left never says a word or moves a muscle — until the end of the scene when the guy on the right says “Wanna buy a farm?”.  Anyway, I think JCM has been EXTREMELY underrated in his career and to me, this song sort of best represents what he’s always been about — singing about the common man, the blue-collar guy, the worker.  I love this freakin’ song…

>  Orioles FanFest is this Saturday.  That’s the good news.  The bad news?  The club went over-budget on signage for the Convention Center.  Evidently, they ordered 1,000 OF THESE SIGNS just to make sure they get their message across. Umm…message received.

>  We’re always thinking about new marketing themes at WNST.net.  Recently we splurged and went big-time, hiring an ad agency out of Chicago to craft our new 2011 corporate message.  The ad agency met with all of our on-air staffers and then pledged to come up with a theme for each of us.  This past Tuesday, they came to Baltimore and unveiled their suggested marketing slogans for each of us.  When it came to me, the woman in charge said, “And we have GREAT news for you all. We were able to take one of our Burger King themes and just mesh it perfectly with Drew’s morning show.  That will save you time and money as we didn’t have to bill you for any of the creative or production work.  I agree with her, THIS CONCEPT fits perfectly with me and the morning show.

>  Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau recently asked me to come down to Kettler Ice Rink and speak to the Caps prior to a practice.  I told Bruce, “That’s such a long drive…why don’t I just fax you down something simple and you can hand it out before the practice.  It will be self-explanatory.”  Boudreau said, “That’s fine.  Just keep it simple.”  I remarked, “It will be simple and easy to understand.”  So I faxed THIS MEMO to Boudreau.  I hope he distributed it to his team.

>  Derrek Lee recently signed a one-year deal with the Orioles and moved into a nice, quaint home up in Lutherville.  Our WNST staff photographer managed to squeeze his way past the security gate and snap a photo of Derrek’s new digs.  And you have to hand it to Lee, he’s already making plans for next October, as THIS PICTURE proves.

The “Shoot” Section (Anyone who has ever watched wrestling knows a “Shoot” interview is when the wrestler offers a real, out-of-character discussion).

Do me a favor. CLICK RIGHT HERE if you would please.  See that?  That’s what the Orioles want you to give them on Saturday at FanFest in exchange for getting four autographs from their baseball players. Understand this:  I want you to go to FanFest. I’m recommending you go to FanFest.  It’s a terrific way to get baseball in your blood in late January when there’s snow on the ground.  Go to FanFest on Saturday. OK? But under NO circumstances should you give those creeps $15 of your money in order to be graced with the signatures of four players.  And yes, I’m well aware that the $15 “fee” goes to OriolesREACH, the club’s charitable organization.  That’s awfully noble of them.  Here’s what I think you should do.  Do NOT give them $15 for those autographs.  It’s a joke.  They should be ashamed, charging people to get IN the building and then charging adults for autographs.  Disgraceful.  But I DO think you should give Nick Markakis $10 that he can use for his RightSide Foundation.  So that’s what I’m suggesting you do.  Make a $10 check to “The RightSide Foundation” and give it to Markakis or an Orioles official that you see roaming around…and tell Markakis you’d rather give HIM the money than to be bent-over by the club for four autographs of players.  You’d think the Orioles would be THRILLED to have people come in to the building and actually want to engage with their players.  $15 for autographs.  Laughable.  Don’t do it.

End of “Shoot Section”


> Karns High School squandered a huge 4th quarter lead and fell to Clinton High School last night.  It was a shocker.  It even made the headlines in the sports section.  Oh, you don’t believe me?   PROOF IS RIGHT HERE.

>  I realize it’s chic to pick on the Steelers and their fans.  I get it, I really do.  But you have to give those folks in Pittsburgh a lot of credit.  The big game isn’t until next weekend and they’ve already descended upon Dallas in record numbers, as our WNST staff photographer proves RIGHT HERE with his latest picture from the Cowboys Stadium parking lot.

>  This has no business being in Friday Mud.  But I typed the words “Girls in unique positions” and THIS PHOTO showed up. I have no idea what it is.  I pulled my quad muscle just looking at it.  Then I typed “Ben Roethlisberger on the beach” and this PICTURE was displayed.  I don’t remember having Ben having blond hair, but the rest of it looks right to me.

>  Last but not least.  Cam Cameron has come under great scrutiny since the season ended a few weeks back.  Recently he asked the Ravens chief custodian, Reverend Slappy, to paint a new catch-phrase on the front door to his office.  You might not agree with it, but here’s Cam’s 2011 PERSONAL SLOGAN.

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The “Controversial Sports Personalities” of 2010 …..

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The “Controversial Sports Personalities” of 2010 …..

Posted on 16 December 2010 by Rex Snider

As we make our way into mid-December and the final weeks of the year, excitement starts to build with many people, young and old. From the anticipation (or stresses) of the holidays, to the culmination of another NFL season, many of us look forward to this part of our annual calendar.

In my own way, I look forward to this time of year, because I’m a “list” kinda guy …..

Be it BEST OF, WORST OF, MOST INTRIGUING, MOST OVERRATED, MOST POPULAR, MOST HATED and just about any related combination, I like compiling lists of my personal rankings regarding people and events of any given year.

Of course, my lists revolve around sports, in one context or another. From the famous to the infamous, and the champions to the chokers, I’ll give you the spin on how 2010 shakes out in my conflicted mind.

Today, we’ll begin with the “TEN MOST CONTROVERSIAL SPORTS PERSONALITIES OF THE YEAR” …..
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10) Lane Kiffin – The ultimate coaching mercenary, huh? Many of us were snookered into believing Kiffin was the sympathetic figure depicted in his dysfunctional ride with Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders. Little did we know his loyalties would tend to run as deep, or shallow, as his former boss …..

Oct 16, 2010; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Lane Kiffin gestures during the game against the California Golden Bears at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated California 48-14. Photo via Newscom

Earlier this year, Lane Kiffin deserted the University of Tennessee – the institution that gave him a second chance – on a whim to return to his coaching roots, at the University of Southern California. Kiffin garnered a lot of rightful criticism for switching jobs, midstream, while so many people, in Tennessee, depended on him.
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9) Cam Newton – Well, we all know this name, huh? Yet, a year ago at this time, only the hardcore college football fans really knew anything about Newton. Only in America …. can a sports personality rise from anonymity to celebrity, in the span of a few months.

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11: 2010 Heisman Trophy candidate Cam Newton of the Auburn University Tigers speaks at a press conference at The New York Marriott Marquis on December 11, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

I suppose we should really be recognizing Cam’s father, Cecil, for being the “straw that stirred this combustible cocktail.” He obviously lobbied for money in exchange for his son’s services, and regardless of what the NCAA might be saying, most of us don’t really believe young Cam is blameless.

Hmmm …. how long will it take for him to surrender that trophy?

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Can the Ravens count on James Harrison and his bag of blunders?

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Can the Ravens count on James Harrison and his bag of blunders?

Posted on 02 December 2010 by Rex Snider

As the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for their prime time showdown, on Sunday evening, some interesting storylines are beginning to unfold …..

Will the Ravens finally beat Ben Roethlisberger in a meaningful game?

Will the Steelers be able to stave off a plethora of injuries and retake the AFC-North lead?

Can Joe Flacco drive a second straight stake through the collective hearts of every RAT-FINK Baltimorean who calls this town home, yet they root for the Steelers?

Can both teams live up to the hype surrounding the National Football League’s most riveting rivalry of the past decade?

We’re gonna find out in just three days.

Yet, amid all the hoopla and anticipation that accompanies a Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh matchup, another factor or storyline is emerging …..

Can James Harrison finally start abiding by the NFL’s newest policies, as they regard the defender’s helmet in tackling?

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: James Harrison  of the Pittsburgh Steelers rises after hitting Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Buffalo Bills during their game at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 28, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York. Harrison was flagged for roughing the passer during the play. (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)

I don’t like the new rules …..

You don’t like the new rules …..

Most players, with exception to quarterbacks, don’t like the new rules …..

But, opposition and dissent will not change things. The new rules are firm and if players cannot abide by them, they’ll fork over cash, as a result.

While I don’t particularly care for these changes, especially considering the hard-hitting nature of football, I absolutely understand the NFL’s mission. They’re obligated to protect the players from themselves, and their equally obliged to protect the league from future lawsuits.

Our sports society is well aware of the NFL’s mission to address concussions and subsequent brain injuries. A vast number of former players serve as prime examples of the detrimental effects concussions can have on life AFTER FOOTBALL.

Technological advances have discovered a correlation between brain injuries and dementia. And, the NFL is under the spotlight when it comes to dissection of this health concern.

It’s really only a matter of time until a former player sues the league over a perceived negligence, as it relates to rule changes or measures taken to prevent brain injuries from occurring.

Sure, it’s quite easy for us to bemoan the new rules, while proclaiming …. “THIS AIN’T FOOTBALL.” Heck, we’re right in our assessment. But, we’re not the ones who’ll be defending our respective livelihood when the lawsuits start trickling into the NFL’s offices.

That’s the spirit of the new rules …..

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The best seat…In the house (Wednesday Edition)

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The best seat…In the house (Wednesday Edition)

Posted on 01 December 2010 by Thyrl Nelson

Here’s a look at the night that was on Tuesday and the one that lies ahead on Wednesday along with a few random musings from the best seat in the house, literally, at home in front of the TV.

Yesterday, I speculated here that there was little chance that Pat Riley had any intentions of replacing Erik Spoelstra on the Miami Heat bench because their level of chemistry, commitment, and overall play, and the lack of assuredness that Riley himself would be able to get much more from this squad. With 24 hours to think on it, I might amend that line of thinking and say that Riley may replace Spoelstra, but he won’t likely jump back onto the bench himself. Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojinarski wrote this piece about how James’ me first act is a safe bet to wear thin pretty quickly, and speculates that it was James’ inner circle that began floating the “Spoelstra is panicking” rumors in the first place. With the Heat, and James headed to Cleveland on Thursday, the drama, and attention are bound to continue.

 

Speculation also abounds today that perhaps Roger Goodell’s main motivation behind not suspending Andre Johnson and/or Cortland Finnegan for their brawl on Sunday is because the Texans are playing on Thursday night. As it related to Johnson, Finnegan or even a possible James Harrison suspension (that won’t happen either), it would seem that the NFL’s appeals process would have allowed all 3 the chance to play this week, and every other until their appeals were heard. Maybe the NFL was afraid that Johnson would decline an appeal and serve his suspension to spite the league. I wonder if Goodell is compiling a manual of precedents for the punishments that the league is dishing out, seemingly at random, this season.

 

Jim Harbaugh, the Stanford coach, former Ravens’ quarterback and brother of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh projects to be one of the hottest commodities on the market as schools begin to make and fill coaching vacancies. Michigan seems like the natural fit, if they choose to part company with Rich Rodriguez, but some believe that Harbaugh would be crazy to leave Stanford, where success is measured in academics and his feet aren’t likely to be held to the fire anytime soon, even if his now successful program took a dramatic U-turn. I would be at least mildly surprised if Jim Harbaugh didn’t have at least one eye on the NFL if he has any desire to change jobs. It should develop into an interesting off-season story line.

 

With all of the purple towel resistance building before Sunday night’s game, crowd noise is becoming topical. Now there are talks of a “No means no” chant for Ben Roethlisberger. On the surface, it’s funny, hilarious actually, but that’s from my perspective. I’m guessing there’s another side of this issue that would find it tasteless and appalling. In other words, it might make the Steelers fans that are on hand a little more comfortable. Count me out on the “no means no” chant, but I’ll be listening, and laughing a little inside.

 

I have to say that no matter how the Derek Jeter negotiations work out, I am amused. I’m not sure what Jeter’s value might specifically be to the Yankees, but I’m pretty certain that 4 Derek Jeters wouldn’t be worth the kind of money that both sides are discussing to any other team. His legend is intact, his skill set is declining, and we’re talking about projecting him beyond his 40th birthday. The one thing that has never failed Jeter in his opportunistic Major League career has been his timing. From the ball hit to Jeffrey Maier, to the inexplicable flip to get Jeremy Giambi at the plate, to seeking out his last payday with hit #3000 on the horizon, Jeter’s always been the guy in the right place at the right time.  

 

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Spitgate: It’s time for Goodell to get the clowns in order

Posted on 09 November 2010 by Drew Forrester

It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

Or pregnant.

Or, now, spit on.

I was a little stunned at the reaction both in Miami and Baltimore yesterday as details emerged about “SpitGate” involving Le’Ron McClain and Channing Crowder.

People in both cities were “appalled” and “shocked” and “stunned” by the fact that McClain might have spit on Crowder during Sunday’s Ravens-Dolphins game in Baltimore.

Really?

Shocked?

You’re nuts.

I’m half expecting to see one of these guys pull a piece out and fire a shot into the other team’s huddle one of these days.

I don’t know if you’re watching the same NFL as I am, but the level of professionalism amongst the players has dropped dramatically over the last few years.

And that’s not a low blow…it’s a fact.

To my eyes, having watched the “ground level” footage somehow captured by a Miami TV station, it’s very apparent to me that McClain spit on Crowder. He lauches forward at him, his head rises up and it’s clear he makes some sort of projecting move towards Crowder’s face. Crowder reacts as if he’s a man who has just been spit upon. If I sat in the juror’s box and that was the ONLY piece of evidence I had, I’d convict McClain.

Or I’d just send those two clowns back to the circus and tell them to both do 5 shows without pay.

But that’s just me.

The Ravens, predictably, deny any such event took place and as one staffer pointed out to me last night during a give-and-take on “did he or didn’t he?”, the referee standing right in the mix of the altercation didn’t act as if McClain spit on Crowder while he tried to separate them. My answer to that is simple enough: Have you seen the refs this year? Hell, McClain could have spit on one of them and he might not know it. In other words, don’t EVER use the referees as a barometer for whether or not an infraction occurred. The only thing they’re good at seeing these days are reruns of Bonanza and The Andy Griffith Show.

Honestly, though, I don’t really care if McClain spit on Crowder or not. If he did, the league will punish him and whatever they decide to do with him is fine by me. I don’t condone it. And I’m not trying to be dismissive when I say “whatever they decide to do is fine…” — because I do think if you spit on a guy, the league should act swifty and harshly.

But it’s getting much easier for me to be dismissive of the behavior I’m seeing from the players because no one seems to want to do anything about it.

Roger Goodell has his hands tied with this “physicality issue”, as he sifts through every tackle in the league to figure out which ones are hard and fair and which ones are REALLY hard and maybe unfair.

It’s becoming somewhat of an embarrassment for Goodell, personally, in my opinion. Not only is he bringing the quality of play into question

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