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Monday, February 27, 2006

Vince Young and The Wonderlic Test: What Does the Test Really Prove? That America's Still Racist - Dan Marino Scored a 16

There has been much press about Texas QB Vince Young scoring only six of 50 questions correct on something called The Wonderlic Test, and that the test was incorrectly scored. Aside from the character assasination that has taken place against Young, and by some who don't want to see him succeed and are acting in a boarderline illegal and prosecutable fashion, I doubt the Wonderlic itself is being used properly. It's supposed to test an employees ability to solve problems related to a job.

I'm going to throw this bomb: The Wonderlic Test -- as it's applied -- has nothing to do with football and given the fact that the questions aren't directly related to the game, an athlete could sue an NFL team or the NFL itself for damages related to the improper use of the test.

I'm not kidding.

According to legal scholar Daniel L. Wong, the case of Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424 considered and invalidated the use of the "Wonderlic Personnel Test," which purported to measure general intelligence, and the Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test.

Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody, 422 U.S. 405, 431 (1975) also considered the Wonderlic test as well as the Beta Examination, which purported to test non-verbal intelligence. The key in these and subsequent federal decisions, is the extent to which employers are able to demonstrate that tests are truly related to job performance.

Jason Chung wrote an 18-page paper reporting in part how the Wonderlic is used as a way to block the assention of black college quarterbacks into the NFL. Chung writes:

The "Wonderlic" Argumentation

Another major barrier that African-American quarterbacks face stems from the increased use of the Wonderlic intelligence test through 1968 to 1999. Michael Callans, President of Wonderlic Consulting, advances the popular argument that:

[Quarterbacks] need to lead, think on their feet, evaluate all of their
options and understand the impact their actions will have on the
outcome of the game. Wonderlic helps team owners make the best
selections by identifying which players have the mental strength to
lead their team to victory.

This belief has been prevalent since at least the 1970s when Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys became the first NFL head coach to screen for players using a generic aptitude test - the Wonderlic Personnel Test.25 Landry was looking for a tool to quantify intelligence and draw a correlation between that and performance. In the subsequent 30 years upon its introduction the Wonderlic has become a key performance prognosticator for many NFL franchises. Though most prospective NFL players are put through the test, those players in strategic (read white) positions are scrutinized more closely. NFL scouts believe that the test will help them identify quarterbacks that will assimilate NFL playbooks quicker and identify quarterbacks that make better decisions.

Generally speaking, a score in the mid-twenties is considered acceptable for a prospective NFL quarterback. In 1994, the Cleveland Browns were looking for a quarterback that scored at least a 24 on the Wonderlic. These high expectations have acted as an imposing intellect barrier for African-American quarterbacks who, as an ethnic group, have historically had a tough time meeting this benchmark and thus were discounted from consideration by some NFL teams due to a deficiency of intellect. There were but few black quarterbacks, the argument went, that had the mental capacity to succeed on the test and therefore on the field. An examination of relatively reliable Wonderlic scores shows that black quarterbacks, more commonly than white quarterbacks, score lower than 20: Jeff Blake in 1992, Kordell Stewart in 1995 and Steve McNair in 1995 all scored 17 or lower.

The failure of African-American quarterbacks to meet the lofty mid-twenties standard has spawned criticism of the whole procedure. The traditional argument against the Wonderlic has been that it, like all aptitude tests, was culturally biased and therefore systemically set up to ensure that black athletes receive lower scores. This charge, until recently, was the primary accusation levelled against the Wonderlic.

However, more recent studies have exposed a more illuminating fact. A study by David Chan et al. noted that African-Americans adults in general have a lower regard in general for aptitude tests than their Caucasian counterparts which caused them to score lower on the tests. After motivation was given to black test-takers their scores improved until there was no
discernible difference between black test scores and white test scores.

Critics point to additional flaws with the Wonderlic system other than race-related lower test scores. It has been pointed out that there are some "Wonderlic smart" players that are "football dumb". Numerous NFL coaches, including Tony Dungy and Denny Green, note that good Wonderlic scores do not necessarily equate success in decision-making prowess on the

Indeed, the converse is also true, low Wonderlic scores do not necessarily signify weak quarterback play. For instance, Dan Marino, the NFL's all-time leading passer, only scored a 16 but by all accounts he was very intelligent football-wise.

Still, because it remains the only quantifiable method of measuring intelligence the Wonderlic continues to be used by NFL teams. As a consequence, because of the reasons stated above, it seems black quarterbacks will generally continue to score lower on the Wonderlic than their white counterparts. If the period from 1968 to 1999 is any indication, many black quarterbacks will be shunned due to a low score and "low intelligence".

That is what's happening today. But since it's true that the Wonderlic does not actually measure football related aptitude, then the NFL itself is wide open for a class action lawsuit if this problem is not cleared up -- a legal battle the league would surely lose.

It would lose on the very basis that its own coaches can't defend the claim that it tests "football intelligence" yet that's the image being communicated by much of the media and some NFL teams. If a player scores poorly on it, they, like Vince Young, are branded as not football smart, an observation anyone would have to be a total fool to accept in the case of Texas' National Champion QB.

And with that, someone must explain how Miami's NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback Dan Marino -- who scored a 16 on the Wonderlic -- became one of the league's best signal callers in its history? A 16 on the Wonderlic means that Marino had an IQ of less than 100. Do you believe that? I didn't think so.

Someone out there better appologize to Vince Young.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Colts GM Bill Pollian on NFL Network Now

NFL Network's Rich Eisen is talking to Indianpolis Colts President GM Bill Polian at the 2006 NFL Scouting Combine, so I thought I'd try to type what he says. The quotes are close to exact, but not right on.

On the Scouting Combine:

"First combine was in 1984 and with about 150. Now it's grown into a major event.

On Reggie Wayne's new contract and not franchising RB Edgerin James:

"Hopefully, we will be able to get him back. That may happen if there's no CBA. Reggie's been an important part of our team...We wanted to get him signed." Poliann said it would have made no sense to "tag" Edgerin as the number was "untenable."

On the 2006 draft:

We have three or four people contribute from the draft each year: Cato June, and others. The way our model is set we have to have contributions from younger players.

On the CBA:

We're wating to see what happens. All of the good things we have had come from labor peace. We've got Peyton (Manning) and Tony (Dungy) and have been to the playoffs six out of the eight years. How did we get there as a team in the smallest stadium in the league? The salary cap.

On the Competition Commiteee and Mike Holgren leaving it:

Rich Eisen asked if the Super Bowl Officiating problem had to do with it: "Absolutely not. He wants to spend more time with his family..,.He may change his mind in Florida.

Polian says that the committee is not going to look at just the officiating problem but the whole game.

That was it. Polian's off to other matters.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Colts WR Reggie Wayne Signs New Contract - RB Edgerin James' Future with Team in Doubt

Colts re-sign Wayne but probably won't keep James

By Mike Chappell, The Indianapolis Star

INDIANAPOLIS -- Reggie Wayne won't be designated the Indianapolis Colts' "franchise player," but his value to the franchise has been confirmed with a lucrative six-year contract. However, it's doubtful that development increases the possibility of running back Edgerrin James returning for the 2006 season.

In line to be slapped with the franchise tag before Thursday's deadline, Wayne agreed on Wednesday to a six-year deal, according to his agent, David Dunn. Dunn would not disclose financial parameters of the contract, but it's believed to be worth approximately $40 million with bonuses of nearly $13.5 million.

Team president Bill Polian could not be reached for comment.

The contract ties Wayne to the Colts through the 2011 season and keeps intact an elite receiving corps that includes seven-time Pro Bowl selection Marvin Harrison and Brandon Stokley.

It also keeps the franchise designation available to the Colts for one of their other players who will become an unrestricted free agent on March 3. The tag must be used by 4 p.m. ET Thursday.

However, there's a strong possibility the team will not use the tag because of the steep financial commitment required to place it on linebacker David Thornton ($7.169 million) or defensive end Raheem Brock ($8.332 million).

And the Colts almost certainly will not use the tag on James as they did following last season.

Polian reiterated last week that it would be virtually impossible from a financial standpoint to use the tag once again on James. The cost of a one-year contract for James in 2006 would be nearly $11 million, which is a 20% increase over his '05 salary cap number ($9.081 million).

Polian described the $11 million franchise number for James as "untenable."

To retain both James and Wayne, he added, would require significant changes in the current roster. That probably would entail "drawing a line through" the names of several players, cutting them to make room for Wayne and James under the projected salary cap of roughly $95 million.

"And I don't know if you can draw enough lines, even if you wanted to," Polian said. "And you may not want to because it would weaken the team so much in other capacities."

Wayne was one of 13 Colts eligible for unrestricted free agency, but there never was a possibility of him hitting the open market. When asked during the '05 season about Wayne's future with the Colts, Polian replied, "Reggie Wayne isn't going anywhere."

The team's 2001 first-round draft pick has elevated his game every season. Wayne, 27, led the Colts with a career-high 83 receptions in '05, ending Harrison's six-year run as their leading receiver.

"Reggie's thrilled to stay with the Colts," Dunn said. "He could not respect the organization or Bill Polian or (coach) Tony Dungy any more than he does. And he has the maturity to understand the importance of winning."

In five seasons, Wayne has registered 304 receptions for 4,164 yards and 28 touchdowns. He topped the 1,000-yard mark in 2004 and 2005 when he established himself as one of Peyton Manning's top targets. He caught a then-career-high 77 passes for 1,210 yards and 12 TDs in 2004 when he became part of the NFL's first receiving trio to top 1,000 yards and 10 TDs. He followed that with last year's 83-catch, 1,055-yard season as his role continued to expand.

The move makes Wayne one of the NFL's highest-paid receivers. But Wayne wanted more than money out of his contract.

"He thinks in terms of enjoying the situation with the team and the offense he's familiar with," Dunn told The Associated Press. "And having Peyton (Manning) throwing you the ball and Coach Dungy doesn't hurt. He thinks it's a good situation."

While Wayne could have left the Colts for another team, where he could have avoided being overshadowed by Harrison, the Colts' career receiving leader, he opted to stay with a team that has won three straight AFC South titles and been to one conference title game.

"Over the last month, I became acutely aware of how much he wanted to win," Dunn said.

Wayne's signing means the Colts will keep their passing attack intact long-term.

Harrison signed a six-year, $66 million deal in December 2004. Manning, a two-time NFL MVP, signed a seven-year, $98 million deal in March 2004. The Colts' No. 3 receiver, Stokley, agreed to a lucrative five-year deal late in the 2004 season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

NFL Revenue Sharing with Players - I Say Scale The Percentage

The impass between NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and NFL Players Association Executive Director Gene Upshaw seems to be over the size of the percent of revenue the league will share with the players. I say, rather than have a fixed percentage, scale it with repect to overall increase or decrease in annual league revenues. Simply, if there's an increase, the percentage is somewhat greater; if there's a decrease, it reduces.

Now, the measure should be gross revenues, not net revenues. Or perhaps a better measure is revenues minus player playroll for that year. This way, if there's a year where, for a combination of reasons, overall player payroll is higher than the previous year (incentives, etc.), but overall NFL gross revenue is lower, the percentage would be lower than the year before.

Just an idea.

NFL is headed toward a labor showdown by the end of this week - Washington Post

Deadline Looms For NFL, Players
Attorney: Deal 'Seems Doubtful'
By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 19, 2006; Page E01

The NFL is headed toward a labor showdown by the end of this week barring an unlikely last-minute breakthrough in negotiations, Players Association Executive Director Gene Upshaw said, signaling that the labor peace that for 13 years has been a key reason for the league's success is on the verge of dissipating.

A written message sent Friday from a union attorney to NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said it "seems doubtful" that team owners and players will be able to settle on an extension of their collective bargaining agreement beyond next season. Upshaw, who has worked closely with Tagliabue for years to avoid the sort of labor strife that has affected other professional sports leagues, said in a telephone interview that the union now is ready for a fight.

"The closer we get to the deadline the more pessimistic I am that anything will happen," Upshaw said. The owners "don't seem to believe we're willing to take it all the way. . . . But we are."

Upshaw said he regards the end of this week as the deadline for a labor deal and he has little hope that scheduled bargaining sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday will produce movement toward a settlement. He plans to address players' agents in two groups this week in Indianapolis, the site of the NFL scouting combine.

The current labor deal leaves the NFL's 13-year-old salary cap system in place through the 2006 season. A failure to agree to an extension of the deal would leave the sport without a salary cap in 2007 -- and perhaps beyond. Upshaw has said the players will not allow a salary cap to return if they play a season without one.

The salary cap sets an annual ceiling on the amount each team can spend on players. Next season's cap is projected to be between $92 million and $95 million per team. Without one, wealthier teams such as the Washington Redskins could spend whatever they wished on players, but people on the management side maintain that certain changes that would come with a season without a salary cap -- such as players needing six seasons of experience, instead of four, to be eligible for unrestricted free agency -- might keep it from being the bonanza for players' salaries that Upshaw and the players envision.

The labor impasse already is wreaking havoc on teams' planning for the March 3 opening of the free agent market, since it is effectively leaving teams with less wiggle room under the 2006 salary cap.

With league revenues burgeoning after the completion of a new set of national television contracts worth almost $4 billion per season, Upshaw has been seeking to expand the pool of revenues from which the players are paid. But the two sides remain unable to agree on what percentage of the expanded revenue pool the players should receive.

In a related issue that is complicating talks with the union, the 32 owners have been unable to agree to a system to increase the amount of locally generated revenues that they would share. Several teams, including the Redskins, in recent years have expanded the revenues they generate on their own, outside the shared revenue stream each team receives collectively, primarily through network television contracts and leaguewide marketing deals. The owners' deliberations have become so combative, Upshaw said, that he has been told nine of the wealthiest teams have banded together and are threatening to sue if the clubs have a revised revenue-sharing system forced upon them. The Redskins, who generate the highest revenues in the league, would be among that group of nine.

Owners of lower-revenue teams say that if no plan for bolstered revenue-sharing is put in place, football will become, like baseball, a sport of have and have-not clubs in which only a handful of wealthier franchises will have realistic championship aspirations.

The labor stalemate also impacts planned stadium construction. Upshaw said the players will stop participating in a stadium-loan program that they fund in cooperation with the league if there are no labor and revenue-sharing deals. The teams planning new stadiums include the Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts and the New York Jets and Giants.

Upshaw previously has said he would, if there's no deal, recommend to the players at a March 9 executive board meeting that they begin the process of decertifying the union, a tactic that would seek to eliminate the possibility of a lockout by the owners. It also could lead to the players going to antitrust court to challenge any new system imposed by the owners.

Upshaw and Tagliabue skipped the Pro Bowl in Hawaii last week to return to the East Coast after the Super Bowl and resume the labor deliberations, but Upshaw said there has been no progress.

A letter written by union attorney James Quinn, delivered by e-mail Friday to Tagliabue and Harold Henderson, the league's chief labor executive, said that "we are rapidly approaching the next league year and our ability to get a deal done in this short time frame seems doubtful. Gene, Jeff [Kessler, another union attorney] and I are particularly concerned that so little progress has been made on the core economic issues that we have been discussing for nearly two years."

In the e-mail, Quinn identified the "three bedrock issues" in the negotiations as the salary cap, revenue sharing and the stadium loan program. He wrote that "in order for us to continue any form of salary cap, the players must obtain a significant increase (both in dollars and percentage) in our overall share of total league revenues." On the revenue-sharing issue, Quinn said that the union has "repeatedly made clear that we will not agree to any form of salary cap that does not deal with the 'free-rider effect' which unfairly benefits a handful of high-revenue clubs."

Upshaw has said that some owners of the league's wealthiest franchises aren't devoting a fair portion of their revenues to players' salaries. He has exempted the Redskins' Daniel Snyder, whose team generates the league's highest revenues but also usually has one of the NFL's heftiest player payrolls.

The teams share their national revenues equally, but the success of the Redskins and some other clubs in increasing streams of unshared local revenues has led to a fractious internal debate in which the less-prosperous franchises are seeking to have more of those revenues shared.

"There's a lot of infighting on their side," Upshaw said. "They don't believe they're going to have to do this, but that's the only way the low-revenue clubs can afford their commitment to us. My understanding is that there's a group of nine [wealthy teams] that's saying, 'If you force us into more revenue sharing, we'll sue you.' "

Of the stadium loan program, Quinn wrote that "the players are prepared to continue the . . . program in a form that makes sense to both sides" but it must come within the context of a bolstered revenue-sharing deal. Upshaw said the union will not contribute to any future stadium projects if there aren't labor and revenue-sharing deals in place. An NFL spokesman said yesterday the league had no response.

All of the uncertainty is creating extra work and additional worries for those people in charge of running teams.

"Right now we're operating with a Plan A and a Plan B," Baltimore Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome said. "We have both of them ready to go. That's all you can do. We've never faced a year like this since I've been on this side of the fence. We've never been where it went down to the 11th hour like this not knowing what the system is going to be."

Ravens Ray Lewis to Oakland in exchange for Kerry Collins?

That's the rumor around the message boards. Where it came from is not clear, but it's taken on a life of its own. On face, it's a great trade, with Lewis coming back to play in a defense he's familar with, assuming Art Shell keeps Rex Ryan as defensive coordinator.

We'll see what happens. The question is will it be a straight-up trade, or with draft picks? Who would give up what? It seems a simple trade would make all sides happy. But here's the Ravens rub: does this mean giving up on Kyle Boller, or just having an experienced backup that could push for the starting job. Collins knows and played for Ravens Offensive Coordinator Jim Fassel, so the trade seems logical from a relationship standpoint.

2006 NFL Draft: Will Vince Young Fall to the Oakland Raiders?

This post on the Oakland Raiders Yahoo! Message Board reveals a possible outcome worth monitoring:

Message: 1
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2006 03:31:33 -0000
From: "Andre"
Subject: Just A Little Note To Ponder

In a recent article by Chris Gargano, someone stated that Vince Young
could fall directly in the Raiders lap whether we win the coin toss
for #6 or not. Knowing that we need youth, talent, and a deep ball
thrower...not to mention a good scrambler in case for some God aweful
Reason Moss, Porter, Curry, Gabriel cannot get open, why in the hell
would you not draft Vince Young. Also there is a possible trade for
Ray Lewis in order to get rid of Collins. Does this sound like the
making of a team you can respect......now this is not freaking fantasy
football....these are facts that could very well develop... and free
agency will be Christmas for the raiders because there are some good
lineman D and O available.....any comments from Intelligent raider
fans who can feel the energy of this team increasing by the numbers?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

It Could Be That, With AJ Freeley, The Chargers Feel They Can Get Along Without Brees

I think it was a calculated action, but in retrospect a very smart one by San Diego Chargers AJ Smith: signing quarterback AJ Freeley to a contract that runs through 2007.

I think this move was done to place San Diego in a perfect quarterback bargaining position they feel they can't lose in. With Brees, Phil Rivers, and AJ Freeley in place, the Bolts have two QBs' that other teams would want to deal for and one that's a proven backup.

And that's the other side of the problem.

Too much of this dealing and wheeling could place the Chargers with a team lacking in the righ chemistry to win a championship, let alone get into the playoffs.

Last year, the Chargers were one step from the postseason and arguably the best team not to make it. AJ Smith's actions could keep them in a position where they're on the outside looking in for a long time.

The best move was to place a franchise tag on Brees and go from there. It would have been a great move to insure the team's future chemistry. But it's too late now; they could lose Brees and Rivers and be stuck with Freeley.

Now Oceanside? San Diego Chargers Still Without A New Stadium Under Construction

After years, plans, environmental impact reports, and millions of dollars, the San Diego Chargers are still without a new stadium, let alone one under construction.

The latest proposal is to build a new stadium in suburban Oceanside. The San Diego Times Union report is below.

Councilmember suggests studying golf course as football stadium site

By Ronald W. Powell
February 21, 2006

The Chargers want a new stadium, and Oceanside Councilwoman Esther Sanchez believes Oceanside may have a solution.
Sanchez said the city-owned Center City Golf Course, which is commonly called “goat hill” because it is so hilly, should be considered.

She is asking the Oceanside City Council tomorrow to consider holding a workshop on the future of the 71.7-acre golf course and wants a Chargers stadium to be among the options.

“It would be a great honor to have the Chargers,” Sanchez said yesterday.

The site has an adjoining four acres of city-owned property, providing a potential development footprint of more than 75 acres. But Sanchez, who wants the workshop scheduled within 60 days, said she isn't sure the site is big enough to accommodate a stadium and parking.

Why this site might work
The Oceanside-owned Center City Golf Course has several features that Chargers officials have said they would want for a new football stadium.

A minimum of 20 to 25 acres would be needed for a stadium and parking. The golf course is 71.7 acres, with four adjoining city-owned acres.

Access to freeways and mass transit would be needed. The golf course is east of Interstate 5, with highways 76 and 78 feeding into it. The Coaster train line and the Sprinter train project, which is under construction between Oceanside and Escondido, could serve the stadium.

Some council colleagues burst out laughing when told of the idea, citing everything from traffic congestion to a shortage of parkland to environmental issues to the adverse effect on nearby neighborhoods as reasons why a stadium is not the right fit.

“I'm ready to discuss anything,” said Oceanside Councilman Rocky Chavez. “But this seems to me to be a bridge too far.”

Last month, the Chargers abandoned an effort to put a stadium proposal on the November ballot for San Diego voters. The plan would have called for the team to build a stadium at the 166-acre Qualcomm Stadium site and demolish the existing stadium.

In exchange, the Chargers wanted the city to deed over 60 acres at Qualcomm for free so the team and a development partner could build housing, a hotel, offices and retail outlets to pay for the stadium and other improvements.

The Chargers can begin talks with other cities Jan. 1 about relocating. San Diego Councilman Jim Madaffer has asked that the council vote to amend the Chargers' lease before then so the team can talk with other cities in the county about stadium possibilities. Madaffer said the amendment would increase the chances that the team would stay in the county.

But that plan is on hold until San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and a city negotiating group has an opportunity to try to work out a solution with Chargers executives.

Sanders' spokesman, Fred Sainz, said yesterday that the idea of a stadium in Oceanside is “too speculative and premature” to comment on. He said the city's Chargers negotiators met last Thursday and are planning to meet soon with team executives, although a meeting has not been scheduled.

Mark Fabiani, who is the Chargers' lawyer on stadium issues, said he could not comment on the Oceanside site because of restrictions in the team's lease with the city.

Fabiani said he first heard about the golf course at a Feb. 8 breakfast in the University Towne Centre area.

He was speaking about the stadium issue to an audience mostly of real estate brokers. During the question-and-answer period, Jane McVey, Oceanside's director of development and redevelopment, asked Fabiani if he knew about the golf course site. Fabiani said he told her he could not discuss the property and sent a letter to her that day further explaining why the team cannot talk with cities outside of San Diego.

McVey said in an interview that she was not talking to Fabiani at the behest of the City Council and just wanted him to be aware of the site.

The golf course is east of Interstate 5 at 1 Country Club Lane. It is bounded by homes on the north and east, a shopping center to the south and nonprofit youth services organizations on the west.

Sports marketing experts say a stadium in the North County could draw football fans from Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, in addition to the team's San Diego base.

It would meet some requirements Fabiani previously outlined for a stadium site because it is more than 25 acres, is owned by the city and has freeway access, as well as the potential for rail access.

But other requirements, including accommodating neighbors and financing for a stadium that could cost $450 million or more, are question marks.

An Oceanside ordinance also requires that a change in use of parkland, including the city's golf courses, must be approved by voters.

Oceanside Councilwoman Shari Mackin chuckled when told about the idea. Then she said the city has a serious shortage of parkland that development of the golf course would worsen.

“This has come out of left field. I just about fell out of my chair,” Mackin said. “I'm a big Chargers fan, but I don't know about putting a stadium in that little corner behind the grocery store.”

The golf course is under lease to Judy Keehn until the end of 2012. She said her late husband, Ludwig Keehn, obtained the lease in 1982 with the idea of providing an affordable place for residents to play.

The 18-hole course is known for its two-for-one deals that cost golfers $38.50 during the week and $43.50 on weekends – rates far below most other courses in the region.

Keehn said she had planned to operate the course until the lease expires but would consider a buy-out.

“If a deal came up, I'd look at it,” she said.

Tampa Bay Bucs' Defense Gets Quality Control Coach

TAMPA TRIBUNE - The Bucs took another step toward completing their staff by hiring North Dakota State defensive coordinator Casey Bradley as a quality-control coach for the NFL's top-rated defense. Bradley, a former free safety and punter for the Bisons, has been with North Dakota State's coaching staff for the past nine seasons.

In 2005, the Bisons led the Great West Football Conference in scoring defense, pass defense and total defense while using a variation of the Cover 2 scheme the Bucs have utilized so successfully in the past decade under Monte Kiffin.

Tampa Bay is expected to announce its revamped coaching staff this week at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.

Ira Kaufman

Tampa Bay Bucs' Defense Gets Quality Control Coach

TAMPA TRIBUNE - The Bucs took another step toward completing their staff by hiring North Dakota State defensive coordinator Casey Bradley as a quality-control coach for the NFL's top-rated defense. Bradley, a former free safety and punter for the Bisons, has been with North Dakota State's coaching staff for the past nine seasons.

In 2005, the Bisons led the Great West Football Conference in scoring defense, pass defense and total defense while using a variation of the Cover 2 scheme the Bucs have utilized so successfully in the past decade under Monte Kiffin.

Tampa Bay is expected to announce its revamped coaching staff this week at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.

Ira Kaufman

Dante Culpepper shopped to Baltimore - Minn Star

The Vikings contacted the Ravens, and...Well, read for yourself. At any rate, it's clear that the Vikings don't really want to keep Dante at all. Perhaps he will wind up with the Oakland Raiders.

Kevin Seifert, Star Tribune
Last update: February 21, 2006 – 12:56 AM

The Baltimore Ravens apparently were among the teams the Vikings contacted last week in an effort to gauge the trade value of quarterback Daunte Culpepper, but no deal with the Ravens or any other team appears imminent.

Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome told the [Baltimore] Sun on Monday that "we're interested in any matter that will make our football team better." Newsome said there have been no negotiations "officially" but did not rule out the possibility that the issue could be revisited.

Along with the Ravens, other teams expected to shop for quarterbacks this offseason include Oakland, Miami and the N.Y. Jets.

The Miami Herald reported Monday night that the Dolphins have spoken to the Vikings and are interested in him.

No trade can be finalized until the new NFL year begins March 3, but negotiations and a verbal agreement could occur any time. The Vikings presumably would like to resolve the issue before their scheduled $6 million bonus payout to Culpepper next month.

A person with knowledge of the situation said last week the Vikings had begun shopping Culpepper, who is recovering from three torn ligaments in his right knee. The website www.profootballtalk.com has reported that the Vikings were seeking a second-round draft pick, but indications are that they are pushing for additional compensation.

Meanwhile, the Vikings haven't tipped their hand on several key issues to be resolved before free agency starts. They're not believed to have held substantive discussions with either of their key free agents, receiver Koren Robinson and cornerback Brian Williams, and it is unclear whether they will use their franchise or transition tags on either player.

The deadline to designate franchise or transition players is Thursday. They probably can avoid the issue with Robinson, with whom they hold a contractual right of first refusal, but it's not out of the question that they could use it on Williams.

The franchise tag for cornerbacks is $5.893 million, while the transition figure is $4.774 million.

Colts sign 16 free agents; 6 headed for NFL Europe - Indy Star

The Indianapolis Colts announced Wednesday the signing of 16 free agents since the end of the 2005 season and have allocated six of those players to NFL Europe.

Those players assigned overseas are defensive end Justin Brown, wide receiver Roscoe Crosby, linebacker Nick Hannah, tight end Joey Hawkins, defensive back Eric Hill and center Mike Johnson.
The other additions are former Purdue wide receiver John Standeford, kicker Dave Rayner, kicker Shane Andrus, wide receiver Montiese Culton, offensive lineman Bo Lacy, defensive back Chris Laskowski, defensive back Brandon Lynch, defensive end Gabe Nyenhuis, running back Vashon Pearson and wide receiver Dan Sheldon.

San Diego Chargers QB Drew Brees Pushed to Free Agency

The Oakland Raiders should make a run at this guy just to teach the Chargers a lesson.

SAN DIEGO (From the Seattle Post Intelligencer) -- The Chargers are primed to let quarterback Drew Brees test free agency.

San Diego general manager A. J. Smith said Monday the team has declined to designate Brees as its franchise or transition player. The deadline for designating a player with either tag is Thursday.

If the Chargers had slapped either of the tags on Brees, he would be guaranteed nearly $10 million in a one-year salary next season. That's too rich for the Chargers, considering Brees was injured in the team's season finale, tearing the labrum in his throwing shoulder while trying to recover a fumble.

Brees underwent surgery last month and is expected to begin throwing in May. But whether he is at full strength by the Chargers' July training camp isn't known.

Brees and the Chargers are talking about a multiyear pact. But so far, no agreement has been reached and on March 3, Brees can negotiate with any team.

"Our proposals have not been acceptable at this point and time, but we will continue to talk," Smith said. "Drew Brees wants to be here, we want him to be here. Drew wants a long-term contract, we want him to have a long-term contract. We are working on that and continue to work on it."

But the Chargers are confident they have enough depth to reach the playoffs even if Brees walks, according to Smith. Behind Brees is Philip Rivers, the 2004 draft's fourth overall pick, and veteran A.J. Feeley.
Brees, who's entering his sixth season, resurrected his career in 2004. He was selected to his first Pro Bowl after throwing for 27 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. He was also the NFL Comeback Player of the Year while directing the Chargers to the AFC West title and their first playoff appearance since 1995.

Last year, Brees had another solid season, throwing for a career-high 3,576 yards, the sixth-most in team history. He had 24 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions.

San Diego's initial proposal for a long-term deal was shot down by Brees and his representative, Tom Condon.

Brees or Condon weren't available for comment.

Smith said a deal could still be struck, but only if the other party accepts the club's value it has placed on Brees.

The sticking point appears to be the guaranteed money in the pact's first year, with the remainder of the compensation being tied to incentives reached by Brees, if his shoulder is right. Smith said once Brees hits the open market - if he does - the price the Chargers are willing to pay will not fluctuate.

"We already have a value set in our mind; that is not a factor at all," said Smith, who is 25-24 in his three years as general manager. "We know exactly what we do and we have a way of doing our business."

And while Smith said he wants Brees back, it was evident in his remarks that he's cautiously optimistic Rivers can do the job.

Rivers was a standout at North Carolina State where his 13,484 passing yards were second at the time in NCAA history. Rivers has thrown just 30 passes in the NFL.

"I really like Philip Rivers very much, except he has never played in the National Football League, except to dabble in it and that is always a concern for all of us," Smith said. "Anytime a collegiate player enters the National Football League, it starts all over again. There are first-round busts and seventh-rounders that go to (the Pro Bowl) every year."

Ricky Williams' Character Lynch Mob Strikes Again

They can't just leave Miami Dolphins Running Back Ricky Williams alone. Last year it was his use of pot, followed by jokes about it. Now, someone has leaked information that he may have failed a drug test. All of this while Williams is away in India. It may cause him to be suspended for one year from the NFL and in violation of its substance abuse policy.

The question I have is who leaked the information, and why. Also, the report is that he didn't take pot this time; so what was it? Where was he?

The NFL should take steps to suspend anyone who was found to leak the information. The Ricky Williams Lynch Mob should give this a rest and get better jobs.

I hope this turns out to be nothing at all. I think a bit too much of this is being made just to tear down someone. It's not funny at all.

But Ricky and his agent Leigh Steinberg should file an appeal.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

NFL-Bound Texas QB Vince Young Already Making Critical Business Mistakes

Not even days before the NFL Draft and Vince Young's making critical business errors that could negatively impact both the position where he's selected in the draft and his overall endorsement income.

While Matt Leinart, Young's NCAA Football National Championship Game counterpart, makes his meetings and shows up at events like Leigh Steinberg's A-List Party, shaking hands and chatting with everyone including this author, Young misses meetings.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Young hired a family attorney to be his agent and his uncle to handle his business matters. Neither have NFL experience, and according to the article...

"several companies have expressed interest in talking to Mr. Young about endorsement deals, including MasterCard, American Express, Nike, Reebok and the urban clothier Rocco Wear.
Former Dallas Cowboys scouting director Gil Brandt knows that Reebok is one of the companies, because Mr. Brandt helped set up a meeting between Mr. Young's team and Reebok officials in Detroit on the Saturday before Super Bowl XL.
According to Mr. Brandt, Mr. Young and his management team never showed for the meeting, and it had to be rescheduled.
"Promise and responsibility are big things," said Mr. Brandt, who talks to Texas juniors in Austin every year about their NFL options at coach Mack Brown's request. "And if you have a business meeting set up, you've got to make sure you're at the meeting because people are anxious at spending large amounts of money."
Mr. Brandt also gave Mr. Young, Mr. Adams and Keith Young tickets to a party thrown by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue before the Super Bowl. Mr. Brandt did the same for USC quarterback Matt Leinart.
"Leinart was there, dressed nicely and making a big impression on everyone he met," Mr. Brandt said. "I didn't see Vince there. Everybody who's anybody is at the commissioner's party. When you impress somebody, it opens a lot of doors. All these things, Vince has kind of missed the boat on."
Keith Young and Mr. Adams didn't respond to calls seeking comment on Mr. Brandt's statements. Last week, they said they're simply taking their time and working at their own pace. They said they don't want to rush into any deals."

This is a remarkable error. First, if anyone gives you a ticket to the NFL Commissioners Party, you take it and go. Every heavy hitter in sports and its related industries is there. What Vince's family fails to understand is that the part of the sports business they're in rests on relationships. If I were them, I'd call Gil Brandt and do some fence mending.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Ernie Stautner Passes at 80 - I met him at Dallas Cowboys Headquarters in 1979

I am watching NFL Network -- or more accurately, it's playing in the background as I work -- and just learned of the passing of Ernie Stautner. To some, he was the great defensive end for the Pittsburgh Steelers. To others, he was Defensive Coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys. To me, he was the person who first introduced me to technical football.

In 1979 I was a huge Dallas Cowboys fan. This started because my Mother knew Oakland Raiders Defensive Tackle Otis Sistrunk. At the time, I had nothing in common with him, so I figured I'd better read about pro football. In the process of carrying out that objective, I found a book called "The NFL's Encyclopedic History of Pro Football." At the back of this dense tome was a chapter on the evolution of football strategy. One of the pages there was devoted to the Dallas Cowboys and Tom Landry's innovations: The Flex Defense and the Multiple Offense. I was attracted to what the book reported as Landry's use of engineering principals in the development of his plays and philosophy. Landry's technical approach to the game made it OK for a geek like me to get interested in football.

I became such a fan that I subscribed to the Dallas Cowboys Weekly, and -- thanks to Mom -- attended a preseason Dallas Cowboys / Pittsburgh Steelers game in 1979. But earlier that year I wrote a letter to the Cowboys and Mr. Stautner which asked what the "keys" were that Middle Linebacker Bob Breunig looked at to determine where a play may be going. In response to my contact, Mr. Stautner wrote back, inviting me to visit the Cowboys offices.

I could not believe it! A 17-year-old kid. Me.

It was easy to get to Dallas, as Mom worked for United Airlines, so travel was free at the time -- well, $20. The real concern was if the Cowboys were serious. Well, I called, and asked them about this letter -- they were. So, I made plans to go down there by myself for one day.

I arrived at 10 AM at the Cowboys offices, dressed in a dark blue suit. It was a hot August day. I got off the elevator of the 11th Floor at 6116 North Central Expressway, walked about 10 feet to the long hallway and turned left. The office I was to be at was at the end of the hallway.

Man, I was nervous. I thought I was dreaming.

I finally got there, introduced myself, and sat down in front of the secretary's desk -- a nice lady named Marge. There was a defensive backfield meeting, and as it ended, some of my favorite players at the time came out into the office area: Mike Hegman, Cliff Harris, Charlie Watters, and some others I didn't recognize. I just looked and sat there -- frozen. I didn't dare ask for an autograph, as that was not what I was there for and I didn't want to get kicked out of the office. At least that was what was going through my head.

Finally, Mr. Stautner came up to meet me. He said he would be with me in a moment, as I recall. The secretary escorted me into a large conference room, with a long dark wood table -- about 25 feet long. I was placed in front of a projector and with six reels of film: Dallas Defense vs. the I formation - One, Dallas Defense versus the I formation - Two, Flex Strong - Quality Control, Flex Weak Quality Control, Dallas Defense Reel One, Dallas Defense Reel Two.

I was also presented with a copy of the defensive playbook -- no, not for me to keep. What surprised me at the time was how thin the book was -- about 60 pages. (Well that's small to me.)

So, I set up the film and got started. I would run the film and go back and forth watching plays unfold. It was fun -- until the film spliced and I thought that was it. I was scared. So, after sitting in the dark for a good five minutes, I decided to tell the truth and called Marge. She sent a guy named "Gus" -- a fatherly African American man who assured me there was no problem at all. He came back just five minutes later with the reel fixed.


I resumed my work of analysis until finally Mr. Stautner walked into the room. He asked I had any questions, so I inquired about how the Flex Defense worked. He diagrammed the defense and showed how each defender had responsibility not just for an area, but really for a gap, and also what stance they were to be in. He asked me what I saw on the film.

I told him that it seemed an offensive lineman who was really quick off the ball could block a defensive lineman before that person moved to there gap, thus causing a hole for the running back. I saw this in breaking down a play where the Cowboys were in Flex Strong and the New England Patriots were in a "Brown Formation" with the fullback -- Sam Cunningham -- behind the quarterback and the halfback behind the weakside tackle.

Pats' QB Steve Grogan handed off to Cunningham and as he headed for the weakside center / guard gap, Offensive Guard Charlie Hannah hit Defensive Tackle Randy White so hard he litterally froze him. Meanwhille the other defenders moved into their gaps, making a large gaping hole that "Sam-Bam' ran through on the way to a 56-yard touchdown.

I showed this to Stautner, who gave me praise for discovering that. We talked more technical football, and then he thanked me for coming.

That was the begining of my intense interest in football strategy.

I will never forget how this famous player and coach took time with this nerdy kid. It was a dream come true. May he rest in peace and enjoy Heaven.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Video: Oakland Raiders Re-Hire Art Shell as Head Coach!

I had the pleasure of attending the press conference to annouce the hiring of Art Shell as the 15th Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders. Only on this occasion, I took my new camcorder to record the event and produce the "podcast" you're about to see. By the end of this week, you will be able to download the video into your IPod for viewing as well.

The link is:
Art Shell Press Conference

....Just scroll down and you will see the text link for the QuickTime movie itself. (Make sure to download QuickTime if you don't have it.) If you don't want to listen to 48 minutes of talk, you can just read the web page.

This is my first official use of the camcorder for this purpose. It marks a new direction in my personal "Internet Technology learning process" where I apply what I learn to the SBS site. In this case, one thing I will remember in the future is to take a tripod -- holding a camera for a long time hurts, regardless of how much I work out. The idea is to continue to make the site "sticky."

The next Podcast will be of the Fox Sports Baseball Luncheon and the speech given by MLB Players Association Executive Director Donald Fehr. I think it marks the first time a Fox Baseball luncheon has been filmed in this way.

Your feedback is appreciated.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

ESPN"s Michael Smith Is a Cool Guy...We Met at Super Bowl XL

One of the pleasures of attending Super Bowls are the people you meet who are essentially comprise the nerve center of the sports industry. One of those people is a man I criticized not long ago - ESPN's columnist Michael Smith.

I met Smith as he was exiting the NFL Media Center's main entry way, and talked to him abou the inflamous column on minority hiring.

Smith explains that he believed the idea of just pointing out racism was not working anymore. It was time for a new message. Thus, his column.

Smith's not naive at all, but very well reasoned. But what's more is that we were able to quickly establish common ground. Both of us want to see an end to the problem of the lack of minority head coaches.

But the best gift of all was to be able to talk about our points of view.

Oakland Raiders Re-Hire Art Shell as Head Coach!

Finally! After nine candidates and seemingly forever, the Oakland Raiders will introduce their "new" head coach, Art Shell. It marks the first time in NFL history that a team with the same ownership has rehired a coach it let go years ago. (The Washington Redskins hired Joe Gibbs, but under a new ownership structure.)

The Raiders will introduce Shell at a Saturday press conference.

For the rest click on the title post link above.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Super Bowl XL - Steelers 21, Seahawks 10, Detroit A

I'm going to write and post a lot more on my trip, but I want to get my videos and picts done before I do. But I will take time to report that Super Bowl XL, my fourth Super Bowl, was certainly fun.

I missed going with my friend Beth Schnitzer and her two brothers, as they opted not to come for the first time in my history of attending this spectacle. Also, I invited my friend and co-writer Anja Crotts to come, but she too was captured by obligations back home.

That written, I had a lot of fun. I will report in much more detail, but the bottom line is...

1) Detroit is a great city that gets less credit than it deserves, especially as a Super Bowl Host City. It was a great Super Bowl City. My only complaint was the large number of downtowners who didn't seem to know where anything was located. This was a terrible problem which sent some up in arms!

2) Ford Field is simply -- until Arizona's new stadium is able to be evaluated -- the best place to play the Super Bowl.

More later..

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