Zennie62 on YouTube

Friday, March 31, 2006

Michael Eisner as NFL Commissioner? Just Say No

Some silly goose with a sports mag I will not name floated former Disney head Michael Eisner as a candidate for the NFL Commissioner's job.

Please don't hire him.

Eisner's not in the NFL tradition of politically adept negotiation and positive relationships. He's a man with a public reputation for boardroom combat. Witness his high-profile tussles with his "former friend" Mike Ovitz. Can you see that played out in the NFL? I can, and with terrible results.

Stick with COO Roger Goodell as the next Commissioner. Roger's in the mold of Pete Rozelle and really understands what the NFL is all about.

Hiring Mike Eisner -- and this is not personal -- would be a major mistake. It's not his flair for producing good entertainment programs I question -- though others may considering his latest programming flop -- but his ability to get a diverse group of NFL owners to agree. My fear is tha Mike will take sides openly -- if not hostages.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Raiders In Hunt For...Joey Harrington!? Can You Say "Trade Bait"

If the Oakland Raiders do strike a deal with Detroit Lions quarterback Joey Harrington, it will give them a set of four quarterbacks, all of which can start for the Silver and Black: Harrington, the recently signed Aaron Brooks, second-year man Andrew Walter, and sixth year man Marquez Tuiasasopo.


The Raiders will almost certainly keep three quarterbacks, so one has to think that they're going to use one of the others as trade bait to move up in the draft. It's the only logical move.

Stay tuned.

Raiders get OK to meet Harrington
Oakland already has three QBs signed
By Bill Soliday, STAFF WRITER
Oakland Tribune

Having signed Aaron Brooks, are the Raiders still in the market for a quarterback?

That possibility was raised when the Detroit Lions said the Raiders were one of several teams that had requested permission to speak with Joey Harrington regarding a trade.

Harrington, the Lions starter since his rookie year, remains on the Lions roster, and Detroit is expected to explore a trade after adding Jon Kitna and Josh McCown in recent weeks. Failing to trade Harrington, it is believed the Lions will give him his release on June1.

The Raiders had no comment on the Harrington report.

The Raiders acquired Brooks earlier this month as a free agent who was formerly the starter in New Orleans. He joins holdover quarterbacks Andrew Walter and Marques Tuiasosopo on the Raiders roster.

Coach Art Shell, speaking with reporters at the owners meetings in Orlando, Fla., said nothing was concrete in terms of which of the current three quarterbacks would be designated the starter.

"He (Brooks) is coming in to compete against the two kids," Shell said, noting that the new Raider was not opposed to trying to win the job.

"The job has not been given to him. We went to dinner together, talked about a lot of things, and he said, 'Coach, all I want to do is compete.' The biggest thing for him is to get away from where he's been. Mentally erase as much of what happened and just dive into what we're doing with the Raiders. Come in, have fun, compete and he'll have success."

As for the holdover quarterbacks, Walter and Tuiasosopo, Shell said, "We feel pretty good about (them). Those two kids are outstanding talents. With the competition at that position, I think we're pretty solidified at that position. But we're always looking to upgrade in all different areas."

Addressing speculation the Raiders might be inclined to draft a quarterback on April29, Shell deferred comment for the moment.

"We don't know who we're going to draft, to be honest with you," he said. "We don't know how this thing is going to go (and) won't rule anything out. The Raiders' history is take the best player available, and (with) the draft, it changes every day."

During his meeting with reporters, in his first public comments since a press conference upon his hiring on Feb.11, Shell said the decision to hire Tom Walsh as his offensive coordinator was based on a comfort level he felt with the man who held the position throughout his first tenure with the Raiders.

Walsh has not coached in the NFL since 1994 and in recent years has been out of football totally while running a bed and breakfast and serving as mayor of a small town in Idaho.

"He's a great football mind," Shell said. "He's a smart guy. He knows what I want, how I want to do things. He knows the system I like to run.

"He hasn't been involved in the NFL, but he's been involved in football. We've been talking for about two or three years now about football. I told him if I ever got back into this thing, I want (him) to come with me. I really feel good about him. He's going to do well. Having Tom back is a real plus to me because he knows me."

EXTRA POINTS: Confirming earlier reports, the Raiders will play in the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio, on Aug.6 against the Philadelphia Eagles. The 5 p.m. game will be televised on NBC. Former Raiders coach John Madden and the late Reggie White, who played for the Eagles (as well as the Green Bay Packers), are scheduled for enshrinement. ... The remainder of the Raiders' exhibition schedule finds them playing the Vikings in Minnesota on Aug.14. Specific dates for home games against the 49ers and Detroit that follow have not been set, nor has the exhibition finale at Seattle. ... The Raiders have played in the Hall of Fame game twice, defeating Dallas 20-13 in 1979 and Green Bay 19-3 in 1993.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Ravens and Steelers Lead NFL in 2006 Compensatory Draft Picks



NFL-18 3/27/06

A total of 32 compensatory choices in the 2006 NFL Draft have been awarded to 19 teams, the NFL announced today. Under terms of the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in a year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks.

The number of picks a team receives equals the net loss of compensatory free agents up to a maximum of four. The 32 compensatory choices announced today will supplement the 223 choices in the seven rounds of the 2006 NFL Draft (April
29-30). This year, the compensatory picks will be positioned within the third through seventh rounds based on the value of the compensatory free agents lost.

Compensatory free agents are determined by a formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors. The formula was developed by the NFL Management Council. Not every free agent lost or signed by a club is covered by this formula.

Three clubs this year (Buffalo, Seattle and Washington) will receive a compensatory pick even though they did not suffer a net loss of compensatory free agents. Under the formula, the compensatory free agents these teams lost were ranked higher than the ones they signed (by a specified point differential based upon salary and performance).

The following 2006 draft picks have been determined by the NFL Management Council:

3 33-97 New York Jets
4 33-130 Denver
4 34-131 Pittsburgh
4 35-132 Baltimore
4 36-133 Pittsburgh
5 33-165 Green Bay
5 34-166 Baltimore
5 35-167 Pittsburgh
5 36-168 Philadelphia
5 37-169 Tennessee
6 33-202 Tampa Bay
6 34-203 Baltimore
6 35-204 Philadelphia
6 36-205 New England
6 37-206 New England
6 38-207 Indianapolis
6 39-208 Baltimore
7 33-241 Tampa Bay
7 34-242 St. Louis
7 35-243 St. Louis
7 36-244 Tampa Bay
7 37-245 Tennessee
7 38-246 Tennessee
7 39-247 Detroit
7 40-248 Buffalo
7 41-249 Seattle
7 42-250 Washington
7 43-251 Houston
7 44-252 New Orleans
7 45-253 Green Bay
7 46-254 San Francisco
7 47-255 Oakland
Picks 251-255 are supplemental compensatory picks (based upon draft-order formula) to fulfill the number of draft choices
permitted by agreement with the NFL Players Association in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Following are the compensatory free agents lost and signed by the clubs that will receive compensatory picks in the 2006
NFL Draft:
BALTIMORE Lost: Bennie Anderson, Gary Baxter, Marques Douglas, Edgerton Hartwell, Casey
Rabach, Travis Taylor
Signed: Tommy Polley, Keydrick Vincent
DENVER Lost: Reggie Hayward, Kenoy Kennedy, Donnie Spragan
Signed: Stephen Alexander, Keith Burns
DETROIT Lost: Stephen Alexander, Stockar McDougle, Mike McMahon
Signed: Rick DeMulling, Kenoy Kennedy
GREEN BAY Lost: Bhawoh Jue, Marco Rivera
Signed: Adrian Klemm
INDIANAPOLIS Lost: Rick DeMulling
NEW ENGLAND Lost: Joe Andruzzi, Adrian Klemm, David Patten
Signed: Monty Beisel
NEW YORK JETS Lost: Anthony Becht, Jason Ferguson, LaMont Jordan, Kareem McKenzie
Signed: Derrick Blaylock, Barry Gardner, Lance Legree
PHILADELPHIA Lost: Derrick Burgess, Jermane Mayberry, Ike Reese
Signed: Mike McMahon
PITTSBURGH Lost: Kendrell Bell, Plaxico Burress, Oliver Ross, Keydrick Vincent
Signed: Cedrick Wilson
ST. LOUIS Lost: Bryce Fisher, Matt Lehr, Tommy Polley
Signed: Chris Claiborne
TAMPA BAY Lost: Keith Burns, Cosey Coleman, Chartric Darby, Dwight Smith
Signed: Anthony Becht
TENNESSEE Lost: Andre Dyson, Shad Meier, Antowain Smith

Baltimore -- 4
Pittsburgh -- 3
Tampa Bay -- 3
Tennessee -- 3
Green Bay -- 2
New England -- 2
Philadelphia -- 2
St. Louis -- 2
Buffalo -- 1
Denver -- 1
Detroit -- 1
Houston -- 1
Indianapolis -- 1
New Orleans -- 1
New York Jets -- 1
Oakland -- 1
San Francisco -- 1
Seattle -- 1
Washington -- 1
TOTAL -- 32

Dallas -- 25
Green Bay -- 24
Philadelphia -- 23
Buffalo -- 21
Baltimore -- 20
St. Louis -- 20
Tennessee -- 17
Pittsburgh -- 16
New England -- 15
New York Giants -- 15
Arizona -- 14
Jacksonville -- 14
Tampa Bay -- 14
Minnesota -- 12
Detroit -- 12
San Francisco -- 12
Seattle -- 12
Kansas City -- 11
Miami -- 11
Chicago -- 10
* 1993 was first year that compensatory draft choices were awarded.
# # #

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

NFL Owners Start Commissioner Search - Gary Myers, NY Daily News

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Paul Tagliabue had just finished an emotional speech to owners, coaches and front office executives summing up his nearly 17 years as commissioner when he was given a spontaneous sendoff, which served as a way of saying thanks for making the rich even richer.

"He probably got close to a five-minute standing ovation," Falcons owner Arthur Blank said yesterday.

Now the 32 owners must find his replacement without tearing the league apart, like they almost did in 1989 before picking Tagliabue to replace Pete Rozelle. This will not be a quick process. There is no sense of urgency after Tagliabue promised he would stick around, if needed, past his preferred departure date of late July.

Tagliabue is holding off naming the owners committee that will conduct the search, but did indicate an outside firm will be hired to interview owners to get their perspective on the structure of the league. A firm will also recommend candidates.

But the owners will do the hiring and Tagliabue will not endorse any candidate.

"I think we need to look at everybody," Jets owner Woody Johnson said. "You have to open it up."

The early leader is Roger Goodell , the league's highly regarded executive vice president and chief operating officer. "I think it's wide open," Texans owner Bob McNair said. "It can be someone no one even knows. The main thing is to get the right person for the position, whoever they might be."

Tagliabue likely will construct the committee to represent a cross section of the league: long-time owners and relatively new owners; big-market teams and small-market teams; influential owners already on powerful committees and owners who haven't had an opportunity to have their voice heard.

The six-owner committee in 1989, which included Wellington Mara as co-chairman, consisted only of owners who had been in the league at least 20 years. That infuriated many of the newer owners and created a "new guard" vs "old guard" split. The new guard became known as the Chicago 11, because there were 11 of them and they came together at what was supposed to be Jim Finks' coronation in Chicago.

But they all abstained, which prevented Finks from getting the required 19 out of 28 votes. It eventually led to two new committees being formed - Mara was on both of them - and Tagliabue being elected on the 12th ballot three months after Finks was rejected.

Steelers owner Dan Rooney was a peacemaker in 1989. Asked yesterday if this process can be as contentious, he said, "I sure hope not."

Monday, March 27, 2006


From WWW.NFLMedia.com

Joe Browne, Executive Vice President-Communications
Greg Aiello, Vice President-Public Relations

NFL-15 3/27/06


Paid attendance for all NFL games set a record for the fourth consecutive year, the NFL announced today.

NFL paid attendance for all 2005 games was 21,792,096, an increase of nearly 84,000 (83,472) over the previous record total of 21,708,624 in 2004. It marked the fourth year in a row -- and only the fourth time in league history -- that the 21 million paid attendance mark was reached.

The 2005 NFL regular-season total paid attendance of 17,012,453 and the average of 66,455 per game were both all-time
records as well.

A total of 3,977,388 tickets were sold for 66 preseason games for an average of 60,263. Twelve postseason games produced a sale of 802,255, including 68,206 for Super Bowl XL.

For the sixth consecutive year, the Washington Redskins led all teams in regular-season home paid attendance. The Redskins drew 707,614 for their eight home games, the second highest total in NFL history to their 707,920 of 2004.

Three other teams topped the 600,000 paid total at home in 2005: the New York Giants (628,527), Kansas City (625,081)
and the New York Jets (619,842).

Eight teams drew more than 1.1 million paid attendance home and away during the regular season, led by Washington(1,240,223). The others were: New York Jets (1,197,224), Kansas City (1,177,580), New York Giants (1,152,672), Denver (1,147,265), New England (1,146,847), San Diego (1,108,840), and Miami (1,105,023).


From NFLMedia.com and The NFL Network



The Denver Broncos will battle the Kansas City Chiefs in the inaugural regular season game on NFL Network November 23 at 8:00 PM ET (live), it was announced today by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

NFL Network will broadcast primetime regular season NFL games in 2006 as part of the new NFL "Run Up to the Playoffs" package. The remaining games will be announced next month.

"We are ecstatic to have a great AFC West rivalry to kick-off NFL Network's primetime live game telecasts," said NFL Network President and CEO Steve Bornstein. "Being part of a new Thanksgiving Day tripleheader is an honor and we can't wait to get to KC."

NFL Network's Broncos-Chiefs coverage will include a pregame and postgame show emanating live from Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City on Thanksgiving night. The Broncos/Chiefs game on NFL Network is part of a new NFL tradition, turning
Thanksgiving Day into a football tripleheader.

The Miami Dolphins visit the Detroit Lions at 12:30 PM ET on CBS and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to Dallas to face the Cowboys at 4:15 PM ET on FOX before the Chiefs host the Broncos on NFL Network at 8:00 PM ET.

NFL Network's eight-game package consists of primetime games airing from Thanksgiving to the end of the regular season on Thursday and/or Saturday nights. NFL Network game dates are: Thursdays: 11/23; 11/30; 12/7; 12/14 and 12/21.
Saturdays: 12/16; 12/23 and 12/30.

NFL Network's game telecasts will also be available to the participating team markets via an over-the-air station.

NFL Network airs seven days a week, 24 hours a day on a year-round basis and is the first television network fully dedicated to the NFL and the sport of football. For more information, log onto www.nfl.com/nflnetwork/home.

NFL Network. All Fans Welcome.


From NFLmedia.com

March 27, 2006


Commissioner Paul Tagliabue opened the 2006 NFL Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida with a 30-minute review of overall league affairs for a group of approximately 300 owners, club presidents, head coaches, front-office employees, and league officials. Following are excerpts from the Commissioner's review:

- "The 2005 season was the kind our fans have come to expect, filled with extraordinary team and individual performances, intense competition, and lots of excitement and unpredictability."

- "In 2005, you set a paid attendance record for the third year in a row; your stadiums were filled again to 90 percent of capacity; and television ratings continued to deliver unmatched audiences. The Super Bowl was the second mostwatched
program in television history with 141 million viewers. For the season, ratings for NFL games on broadcast television were 60 percent higher than the primetime average for the broadcast networks. In December, the Harris Poll showed pro football's lead as the No. 1 sport continuing to widen."

- "This week's annual meeting is my 17th as commissioner. But I first started attending these NFL annual meetings 34 years ago this month when I was a young and starry-eyed attorney. Three years before that 1972 meeting, I first met Pete Rozelle. It was the early summer of 1969 and he was considering whether to require Jets quarterback Joe Namath to divorce himself from a watering hole in New York City that didn't have the greatest reputation. I was a young attorney sitting in the back of the room. In the 37 years since 1969, I have been privileged to serve the NFL and its teams with – by my count -- about 80 different principal owners of NFL teams. Then in recent months, my wife Chan pointed out that we now have head coaches in the league who were not yet born when I got started with the NFL."

- "The league is a very special institution and it works because the game continues to be great, because of thousands of talented people, and because of great teamwork across the entire league. That's what we have and must continue to have. I want to thank all of today's owners plus everyone in the league, plus all former owners, for giving me the opportunity and responsibility to be part of the NFL. It's been a tremendous experience."

- "The extended CBA is complicated and presents a unique set of challenges, but we can now build on what we have accomplished in recent years, including shared investments with the Players Association in important initiatives such as
stadium construction, youth football, and NFL Europe."

- "The league is well-structured, complex business partnership. Thirty-two strong, independent franchises operate in different ways. This diversity is one of our great strengths. But, as different as your teams may be, there is far more that unites you and the league than separates you. We will strive in the months ahead to focus on our common interests and objectives."

- "Now we enter a period of transition for the league. The critical elements of success are in place. This should enable us to accomplish twin goals. The first is to present great football to the fans in 2006, while maintaining the momentum we have created on all business fronts, both domestically and internationally. The second goal is to manage the search for a new commissioner in a well-organized, inclusive way that will strengthen the league and underscore that the NFL is indeed the world's preeminent sports organization."

Sunday, March 26, 2006

How The Atlanta Falcons Landed DE John Abraham - From The AJC

This is a great article and a careful study in deal-making in business, period. A great read, and an insight into why Falcons President Rich McKay is one of the most successful NFL executives.

The art of John Abraham's deal
How the Falcons signed a Pro Bowler on their terms

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 03/26/06
The hard part was getting John Abraham on Falcons owner Arthur Blank's private jet.

The Seattle Seahawks had their claws deep into the New York Jets free-agent defensive end. There was a dazzling visit, a contract offer that supposedly was more lucrative than the 6-year, $45 million deal the Pro Bowl defensive end signed with the Falcons this week. And, the Seahawks had just played in the Super Bowl.

John Abraham liked what he saw and held little hope of getting to his desired locale, Atlanta, where he owns and condo and is near his family in South Carolina. His agents called the Falcons at the outset of free agency to gauge their interest and were told the team loved him but didn't know if it had the means to acquire him.

"Oakland actually was pressuring us to come there too," said Rich Rosa, who represents John Abraham along with Tony Agnone. "We were in Seattle and we had every intention of going to Oakland and maybe, maybe going to Atlanta.

"Then it took a 180-degree turn. We were done in Seattle [Falcons president and general manager] Rich McKay and [senior personnel executive] Billy Devaney tracked us down. They called us and said, 'We've got the plane fueled up and Arthur Blank said to send it out there and get you guys.'

"We all looked at each other and said, 'All right. I think we got a good game going on here.'"

Said McKay: "When we got him on the plane, I felt pretty comfortable, given that he'd expressed an interest to come to Atlanta. From that stage, it took on another life."

Homework done

By this point, the Falcons had looked well beyond Abraham's 53 1/2 sacks in six NFL seasons. His on-field production spoke for itself, as did visions of him bolstering a defense much in need of his pass-rushing skills.

His injury history -- he's missed portions of three seasons -- turned out not to be an issue. In 2003, Abraham was charged with drunk driving and was suspended for a game. The team needed to know if that was an isolated incident or if there was more there. They had the inside help they felt they needed. Strength coach Sal Alosi and director of player development Kevin Winston, both hired this summer from the Jets, shared everything they knew.

Everyone, including Blank, as image and character conscious as there is among pro sports franchise owners, gave the all clear.

"Like any player, we look into their background on both the personal and football character side," McKay said. "Kevin Winston, our new player development director, was with John in New York and, therefore, very familiar with him. We are very comfortable that John fits what we want our players to be about. He made a mistake a few years ago and learned from that mistake."

The game plan

With Abraham and his agents en route from Seattle March 15, the breakdown of duties among the Falcons' brass for the next day's recruiting visit kicked into high gear.

The negotiating teams were dispatched. Since the Jets' held Abraham's rights by designating him their "franchise player," he needed to reach contract terms with his suitor and compensation to the Jets had to be arranged.

Backup quarterback Matt Schaub or Atlanta's first-round pick (No. 15 overall) in the April draft were the demands. The Falcons weren't going there. A second-round pick (No. 47 overall) was Atlanta's counter.

McKay admitted this week he knew that might not be enough, but that was the card he would play — at the time.

The pitchmen, including coach Jim Mora and his staff, prepared to ramp up the charm to convince Abraham this was the place for him. That part, wasn't hard at all.

When the 6-foot-4, 258-pound Abraham got within Georgia state lines, he was closer to his mother and his daughter and his grandparents, who had never been to any of his pro games. He could hear them screaming his name in the Georgia Dome.

"When I got here, it was done," Abraham said. "There were no visits after that."

The sell

When Abraham got to Flowery Branch Thursday, March 16, Mora, Winston, McKay and Blank -- especially Blank -- put on the full-court press. Defensive end Patrick Kerney, who shares the same agents as Abraham, had already been recruiting. A licensed pilot, Kerney said he would have flown the plane to retrieve Abraham.

"I was pretty psyched," Kerney said. "I talked to John a couple days before everything came together and let him know how excited we were that they were going to make it happen."

That night at dinner, while the wooing of Abraham continued, McKay, Agnone and Rosa acknowledged they reached contractual terms in less than an hour.

The deal, to those at dinner, was done. Abraham would replace Brady Smith at right end and join recently acquired safeties Chris Crocker and Lawyer Milloy on Atlanta's beefed-up defense.

The risky bluff

The optimism was doused less than 24 hours later when Seattle and president of football operations Tim Ruskell, McKay's longtime wingman in Tampa Bay and for a season in Atlanta, offered the Jets' their first-round pick (No. 31 overall), satisfying the Jets' wishes. New York, which, according to Agnone, tried to sign Abraham to a long-term contract throughout this whole ordeal but was rebuffed, because Abraham wanted out, agreed to trade Abraham to Seattle.

While openly expressing dismay that Seattle may have trumped him, McKay privately hoped he'd forced the Seahawks into showing their entire hand.

The King, some Falcons' employees call him, hadn't lost his touch.

Seattle could not acquire Abraham without getting him to sign a contract and Abraham gave his word to the Falcons that would not happen. So Atlanta's personnel department had time to find a way to sweeten its deal to New York without giving up the 15th pick or Schaub.

"There was a lot of poker that was played," Blank said. "There also was a lot of tenacity and patience exercised."

Atlanta called at least eight teams, McKay said, to try and construct a rare three-team trade. Denver, which had two first-round picks, wanted in.

The Broncos, who held the 22nd and 29th picks in the first round, were willing to part with their later first-round choice, a third-round selection in this draft and a fourth-round pick next year, for the Falcons' first-rounder this year. McKay, who has acquired some pretty impressive mid-round talent -- Ronde Barber and John Lynch in Tampa Bay, Schaub, Chauncey Davis in Atlanta -- felt that was enough to execute the first trade.

When the Falcons extended the 29th overall choice they'd just acquired to New York, the process was complete. The Seahawks, Rosa said, tried to stay in the ball game until Monday night when the Jets and Abraham's agents told them it was time to end the saga.

"I was at peace the whole time," Abraham said.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Vince Young - The Mistakes Continue

I could care less about the Wonderlic score of Texas QB Vince Young, who will be a first round draft pick, but what concerns me are the growing number of business mistakes "Team Vince" is making.

First, there was the decision to hire his family members as agents and business managers. There are many more experienced and talented sports agents, like Leigh Steinberg, who can make sure that Vince not only gets a great deal with a good team, but terrific sponsorship deals and TV guest spots as well. His family can't do that. They're banking on the idea that people will come to Vince, when they have to be agressive on behalf of Vince, who's now their client.

I can see a day when Vince fires his family. It's not desireable, but given that he hired them, the prospect is not avoidable.

Second, there's the down right stupid mistake of standing up key corporate sponsorship managers assembled for a meeting by former Dallas Cowboys Personel Director and now NFL.com Analyst Gil Brandt during the week of Super Bowl XL. By stark contrast, USC Quarterback Matt Leinart attended those meetings, and undoubtely came away having establshed some very lucrative relationship.

Third, there's the choice not to perform at the NFL Combine. That's a far better place to show what one can do that the Wonderlic or Texas Pro Day, which leads me to...

His less than stellar performance, as reported by several news outlets, is not good for his draft prospects. I'm not focusing so much on his 4.58 in the 40-yard dash, so much as I am his throwing show. He reportedly waited for his receivers to come out of their breaks on patterns he's familar with, rather than showing that he could take direction by throwing on time to catchers he doesn't know, and running pass patterns he's not comfortable with throwing.

With all this, my unfortunate prediction is that Vince Young will fall to the middle of the draft. He'll fall right into the arms of the St. Louis Rams, though the Oakland Raiders could snap him up at the 7th spot. But if the Silver and Black don't take Vince, he's going to drop.

Oakland Raiders First: Black Head Coach, Black Offensive Line Coaches, Black Quarterback

I've checked with friends who cover the NFL to confirm this, but I can't remember a time when one team had an African American head coach, quarterback, and offensive line coach until now: the Oakland Raiders.

Earlier this year, the Raiders re-hired Art Shell to be their 15th head coach in the organization's storied history. Shell then went out and pulled in LA Rams Hall of Fame Offensive Tackle Jackie Slater (pictured in his Rams uniform) and Pro Bowl Tackle Irv Eatman (photo at left, from his days with the Chiefs) to coach the offensive line -- both are black. (While some reporters note that Slater has not coached for an NFL team, this does not mean he hasn't coached offensive linemen. He's ran his own clinic for several years.)

Noticing the New Orleans Saints gave up on a very good, capable, and mobile quarterback in Aaron Brooks, Shell and Oakland Raiders Senior Assistant Mike Lombardi went out and made a deal to dress him in the Silver and Black.

Now, the Raiders have African American representation at three of the organizational positions generally considered the most mentally demanding. It also bucks the current pattern of African Americans seemingly being "slotted" to defensive coach positions in college and the NFL. (And in baseball, where then-LA Dodgers General Manager Al Campanis made his now famous "blacks lack what it takes" comment on ABC's Nightline, no organization has had a black general manager, manager, and pitching coach at the same time, with the exception of the Negro Leagues).

In the NFL's past, the positions of quarterback, head coach, and offensive line coach were commonly held by European Americans, and while there have been and are black head coaches, offensive line coaches, and quarterbacks, never before has one organization had all three.

I personally think this is a major sign of tremendous social progress that should not go unnoticed.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Tampa Bay Bucs' To Meet With Charles Woodson' and Resign OT Kenyatta Walker

From the Tampa Tribune. The Bucs did resign the man known for three false start penalties in one drive last year. But that written, he's a solid blocker and leader. On the matter of leaders, former Raiders DB Charles Woodson is to meet with the organization. See below.

Bucs Say Walker Is Right On Line
By ROY CUMMINGS rcummings@tampatrib.com

TAMPA - After spending more than a week searching for upgrades, the Bucs have decided to stand pat at one of the most important positions on the field.

Less than 24 hours after they lost a bidding war for free-agent Tom Ashworth, the Bucs decided Friday to once again entrust right tackle Kenyatta Walker with protecting quarterback Chris Simms' blind side.

The signing of Walker comes just two days after the University of Florida product made what is believed to be his only free-agent visit. That was to Atlanta, where he met with Falcons general manager Rich McKay, the man who as Bucs GM traded up to get him 14th overall in the 2001 draft.

In the eyes of many, including several inside the Bucs camp, Walker never has justified the decision to draft him so high. He has, however, consistently outperformed all the players who have been brought in to challenge him, starting 77 of a possible 85 games since entering the NFL.

"Kenyatta started every game last year and helped us make the playoffs," Bucs coach Jon Gruden said in a statement released by the team. "We made great strides on offense last season and it was our goal to keep everyone on board so that we could continue that improvement."


Bucs Will Meet With Woodson
By ROY CUMMINGS rcummings@tampatrib.com

Published: Mar 24, 2006

TAMPA - The Bucs don't appear to be in need of a starting-caliber cornerback, but one of that ilk apparently is headed their way.

The agent for four-time Pro Bowl corner Charles Woodson confirmed that Woodson arrived in Tampa late Thursday for a meeting with the Bucs today.

Woodson, 29, had his best years while playing under Bucs coach Jon Gruden in Oakland, making the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons. Since 2002, however, Woodson has struggled to stay healthy and play up to the level of some enormous contracts.

Woodson made $10.5 million after being named the Raiders' franchise player for the second consecutive year last season, but for the fourth consecutive year he failed to turn in a complete season, missing the final 10 games because of a broken leg.

The Bucs appear set at corner, with starters Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly and backup Juran Bolden, who recently was re-signed to a multiyear contract. They are, however, in need of an experienced free safety, so the Bucs may plan to ask Woodson to consider a move there.

Rice Removes Name From NFL Commissioner Consideration

Well, at least we can put this matter to rest:

(AP) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a huge football fan, ruled out applying for the newly opened post of NFL commissioner Wednesday.

"Unfortunately, it came open at the wrong time," said Rice, who was clearly amused when a reporter posed the question. "Obviously, I'm very busy as secretary of state, and I intend to continue to be secretary of state as long as the president of the United States will have me."

Bengals May Land Redskins LB Lavar Arrington

Personally, I think the Bengals need a wrecking ball of a defensive tackle and a new scheme, but if you can land a guy like Arrington, you do so.

The additiion of Arrington would give the Bengals one of the best linebacking corps in the NFL. But he's got to visit the team, first.

"Raider Nation" Upset and Confused By Team's Latest Moves

On message boards and email posts everywhere, Oakland Raiders fans are expressing an all too noticeable lack of joy and pleasure over the team's free agent signings.

While former Saints QB Aaron Brooks is actually considered by many to be a great addition (Dave Del Grande of the Oakland Tribune called him "Kerry Collins with legs.") the source of the displeasure is the signing of former New England Patriots defensive backs Duane Starks and Tyrone Poole.

One fan wrote this:

OK, lets review the acquisition of these 2 New England Chowder Pat Rats.

1) Starks: The words " lone season " scares me, not to mention a shoulder injury. On a positive note he is a 6yr veteran, a CB with decent stats, and has about 5 to 6 months to heal his shoulder and get his ASS in gear to developing a Raider mentality!

2) Ty kwan Poole: Big AL, I hope you were not on the SAUCE when you made this choice..!!! I'm believing in you!

He's a name I'm familiar with, but he has 11 yrs. of miles on that injured ankle, and has only played six games in the last two yrs. with just one game last year HMMMM!..

Granted he has 11yrs under his belt and I hope it's tight enough when he's on the field defending the top veterans, and the rookie youngsters with an attitude.Trust me they will only try to embarrass him!.. An injured Wing is different from a bad Wheel out of balance!! We'll see..

I'm hoping that Fabian Washington, is over the rookie jitters, and will show us the speed and talent he demonstrated in college.

Nnamdi Asomugha, has already proved himself, and the strength and contributions of his fellow CB's and Secondary Will only add fire power and prevent them from getting BURNED!!!!!

Your thoughts my Raider brothers and sista's who care! Raider Bob!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Adam Vinatieri's Clutch Kick Experience Comes to the Colts

This is an awesome trade for the "We're not going to do much in free agency" Colts -- as GM Bill Polian said this year. If the Colts had Adam Vinatieri against the Pittsburgh Steelers, they may very well have been in the Super Bowl against the Seawhawks.

Wednesday, March 22

By John Oehser - Colts.com

Vinatieri’s Ability Under Pressure Key in Colts’ Decision
INDIANAPOLIS – At first, Bill Polian said, it didn’t seem likely.

Adam Vinatieri, after all, had been a member of the New England Patriots for 10 seasons. His clutch kicks made him a legend in the Boston area, inexorably linking him with that franchise’s success over the last half decade.

Then word came:

Vinatieri, one of the most reliable postseason kickers in NFL history, was almost certainly not going to re-sign with the Patriots. And Indianapolis was among the teams in which he was interested.

Vinatieri, 33, helped the Patriots win three of the last five Super Bowls, and his late-game heroics in the post-season have earned him a reputation as one of the NFL’s top big-game performers.

In the 2001 post-season, Vinatieri’s 45-yard field goal in a driving snowstorm helped the Patriots force overtime against the Oakland Raiders in an AFC Divisional Playoff. His 23-yard overtime field goal gave the Patriots the victory.

Vinatieri, the NFL’s leading scorer in 2004, is a career 81.9 percent field-goal kicker, having made 263 of 321 attempts. He also has handled kickoff duties throughout his career and has 61 career touchbacks.

“What you’re excited about is you have a guy who has been in those situations and you don’t have to guess how he’s going to respond,” Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said. “That’s really the biggest thing from our standpoint. Whether he’s from New England or anyplace else, you’re getting a Pro Bowl caliber guy, a guy who’s done what he’s done.

“The exciting thing for us is when you lose a really good player at any position and replace him with another player of the same caliber, that’s always fantastic.”

Former Saint's QB Aaron Brooks Now An Oakland Raider

Personally, this is a very exciting and dramatic development. It means that the Raiders are going to install an offense that takes advantage of his special tatents of mobility and arm strength. The Raiders have never had a quaterback quite like Aaron Brooks. If they can correct his tendency to throw off his back foot -- get him to set his feet before he throws -- he will be something to watch.

Raiders sign QB Brooks to two-year contract
NFL.com wire reports

ALAMEDA, Calif. (March 22, 2006) -- The Oakland Raiders found their replacement for Kerry Collins, signing quarterback Aaron Brooks to a two-year contract to compete for the starting job.

The 29-year-old Brooks was cut last week by New Orleans when the Saints signed Drew Brees, one of the most coveted free agents available this year.

After a disappointing 2005 season, Aaron Brooks will look to revive his career with Oakland.
Brooks started 13 games for New Orleans last season, completing 240 of 431 passes for 2,882 yards and 13 touchdowns against 17 interceptions.

"Oh, sweet," receiver Alvis Whitted said in a phone interview. "I'm glad that we do have a new quarterback. I'm sure he'll fit right in with what we're trying to get done here. I'm sure the coaches are excited. From what I've seen of him play, he's done some great things. He's very athletic, a mobile quarterback and very intelligent, too. He's a great fit for us, and we're happy to have him."

Brooks, who had started 82 straight games before being benched for the final three games of 2005, spent the past six seasons with the Saints after playing for Green Bay in his first NFL campaign in 1999.

Brooks, a fourth-round draft pick by the Packers out of Virginia, was one of few capable quarterbacks left on the market this offseason.

"Aaron gives us great depth at the quarterback position and provides us with a veteran presence," new Raiders coach Art Shell said.

Oakland parted ways with Collins on March 10 in an expected salary-cap move.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Commissioner Tagliabue Congradulates Raiders Owner Al Davis For Helping to Bring A Positive End to The CBA Talks

In an interview with NFL Network's Paul Burmiester, Retiring NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue credited Oakland Raiders Manager of The General Partner Al Davis with playing a key role in forging a concensus among the owners to support the proposed revisions to the NFL's CBA. "Al Davis has the respect of the owners, and over the years has given me a lot of good advice....During the meetings he came up and said 'We've got your votes, now they just don't know what they're voting on,'" which partly explains Buffalo Bill's Owner Ralph Wilson's "no" vote -- the only other one contrasting 30 "yes" votes -- because he explained he didn't undertand what they were proposing.


March 20, 2006 NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE - NFL.Media.com


THE MODERATOR: Thanks for joining us on relatively short notice. Commissioner Tagliabue will have some opening comments and then we'll go to your questions.

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: Good afternoon, everybody. As you all know, we put out a statement this morning about my decision to step down and I just have a couple of comments and then I'll take your questions.

First of all, I really want to emphasize how much of a privilege it is to spend most of your adult life associated with the National Football League. And that's my way of saying that this is not an easy decision for me because 37 of my 65 years have been involved with the National Football League and it is a great institution with great people across the board and most of all, tremendous fans. So as difficult as the decision is, I also know that it's the right decision and I have no doubt about that. And when I say "right," I mean right for the league, which takes me to sort of the second point.

What I've been trying to do here in my own mind and with discussions over the past two years is to pick a time to make this transition when we would all be in a position to have all of the critical elements of the league in place, and be able to do two things. No. 1 would be to move forward and continue to serve the fans, continue to have the momentum we have on all fronts and do all the things we're trying to do both domestically and internationally; and at the same time, manage the search for my successor with the owners. And I came to the conclusion in the last tens day that this was the opportune time to undertake those twin responsibilities; No. 1, moving forward on everything we're doing; and No. 2, being involved with the search process.

I guess the final thing I would say is that in the last 10 days that I've been thinking about this, it became clearer and clearer to me that in this context, as in some other contexts, uncertainty is the enemy of growth and the enemy of successful operations. Put it the other way around: Uncertainty and speculation runs the risk of paralysis in a good organization and in an organization which is national and international such as our league. That became a real critical factor in my mind and the decision to make this announcement before the League Meeting in the midst of our off-season planning process was designed to eliminate uncertainty, to provide certainty and to enable a lot of things go forward very successfully in 2006 and beyond.

I'd be glad to take your questions.

Q. What do you think is your legacy to the league over your tenure?

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: I don't know about legacy, but I think over the years we've accomplished a lot of things. Certainly the expansion of the league to 32 teams; the growth and the popularity of the sport and as part of that the equality of the game growing out of collective bargaining and other things; the fact that we didn't have any season interrupted by strikes or lockouts, all of those things I think are very, very important.

Q. Could you shed some light on how that might unfold in the next couple of weeks?

Q. The search for your eventual replacement.

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: Well, it's a little too early to be very specific about that. But we're going to start on Monday next week at the annual meeting in a conversation with each of the owners of the 32 teams to make sure that that they all participate fully in structuring the process that will lead to the search for my successor.
We'll have more that we can talk to you about next week at the League Meeting after we have that session next Monday with all of the owners.

Q. Were there any surprises or disappointments along the way with the television deals that you struck?

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: Any surprises or disappointments on the television deals, I don't think so. I think that the biggest objective we had was to keep the product massed on broadcast television, and certainly there were no surprises in terms of the renewal of CBS and FOX. I guess if there was any surprise as all, it …when all is said, we’re done might be that we ended up with the primetime broadcast package moving from ABC to NBC.
But beyond that, I don't think there were any -- if anything qualifies as a semi-surprise, I guess that would be it.

Q. And going back further, was the proposed rollback in '93 or '94, was that something that you look back at with any regret? I believe you were in favor of a rollback.

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: I still think it would have been the right thing to do, but we could talk about that for another day. I think that it really would have been the right thing to do, and it would not have had -- if anything, it would have had a positive long-term effect, and like I say, that's for another day.

Q. You talked about some things that you had done, but what is the one thing that you're kind of most proud of in your tenure, and did you think it would go like it did back when you got the job 16-plus years ago?

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: I guess I'd have to say that turning around the relationship and building a strong relationship with the NFL Players Association would be the thing that I'm most proud of. I think everyone involved in the NFL saw that as a growing negative, and to be able to come in '89 and make that a priority; and then to turn that relationship around and make the players into partners through the Collective Bargaining Agreement and to have the kinds of agreements, CBAs, in place that we have had, now we will be approaching two decades, and I think that's a very positive thing.

Q. I'm specifically interested in how active you will continue to be in New Orleans and the efforts that you've started down here, but I guess for everyone's benefit, can you talk about what your role will continue to be as you move on in the next year or two?

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: I don't know about the next year or two. Certainly I intend to continue to be very involved with the Saints and with the Saints' role in the rebuilding and recovery of the Gulf Coast region and the business council in New Orleans. I'm going to be down on April 6 speaking to a number of different groups in New Orleans and perhaps elsewhere in the region.

I spoke to Mr. Benson this morning and assured him that of all the priorities I had both personally and professionally, that the success of the Saints in that context was at the top of the list and I would continue to work very closely with him and the people down there.

Q. With all the new stadiums in place in your tenure, how does that rank in your portfolio, and are there any disappointments with the struggle to get new stadiums in California, with the 49ers, Raiders, Chargers and the L.A. market?

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: I think the new stadium theme is very important. It's been a big part of the continued popularity and the growth and popularity of our game and our league.

I remember speaking to the search committee back in the fall of 1989 and saying that the league has to have a much more robust and proactive role in helping teams build stadiums. And then as soon as I became commissioner, I went to Boston and went to Chicago and had public meetings with business and civic leaders, emphasizing that the league would have a role in helping communities partner with NFL teams building stadiums. So that's a very important piece of what we've done, and in the late 90s, we put in our stadium subsidy program to help to participate in the financing of new stadiums.

I guess I would say that any city where we're still struggling with the issue, that's an ongoing priority. It's pleasing to get new stadiums built. It's disappointing when your efforts are not successful. But it's just a measure of an important continuing priority, not just in California, but here in New York with a stadium for the Jets and Giants over in New Jersey and over in the midwest in Minnesota and other places where we're still working on it. Those are important priorities.

Q. Now that you've cleared the CBA and revenue sharing hurdle, does the Los Angeles initiative move up on the list of priorities? And I'm also interested in if you feel that this change might affect the process, whether it will accelerate it or slow the process of getting a team back in Los Angeles.

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: I don't think that my personal situation will have any impact one way or the other. I know from an owners' standpoint that we have had discussions within the past week that moving forward on Los Angeles is a key priority. We are going to be addressing it at the meeting next week. I'm going to be spending time in California in April and probably again in May. We're also expecting to make some decisions in the meetings. I think the main point you made was embedded in your question. With television behind us and the CBA behind us, getting a team or teams back into the Los Angeles area rises right to the top of the list, not only because we have the time to commit to it, but because the foundation, the economic foundations that enable us to look at that type of a challenge and to address it are in place with TV in place and labor in place.

Q. I was wondering for your successor, if you could give us a rough draft on what the challenges might be ahead for him, both, say, in the next couple of years, and as you look at the NFL, ten years down the road.

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: I just spoke to my senior staff about an hour ago and I think that I see it as one of opportunity. I told the staff that we have a lot of things in place, a lot of initiatives underway. We are looking hard at all of the digital media service opportunities. We're looking at the Internet. We're looking at international regular season games. Still more stadium construction; that will be an ongoing priority. Making certain that the new collective bargaining agreement works as it should; there's some new elements in there in terms of how the cap is structured. So I think there are tremendous opportunities.

I've been saying for some years that the face of professional sports will probably change as much in the next ten or 15 years as it's changed in the last 30 to 50 years, and I think a lot of that change is going to be driven by the digital media, the globalization of media, the internationalization of sports and the demographic changes in the United States. I think it's a very exciting time. I wish I was 40 instead of 65.

Q. And also, do you have a successor in mind that you're going to recommend? Your right-hand man has been mentioned as a top candidate.

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: The way we'll approach it is to have a very comprehensive search that will identify both internal candidates, candidates internal to the league, whether it's our own offices or a team, as well as outside candidates in other businesses or other organizations, and to work with the owners to bring the list of multiple, strong candidates to them to evaluate and then start the winnowing out process.

One of my goals as commissioner going back to the early 90s was to expand and build our organization to bring really talented executives in. Two of the first decisions I made were to create the position of NFL president, bringing Neil Austrian in from another business area into that division. I created the division of an executive chairman of the NFL Management Council, brought Harold Henderson in from Amtrak for that position; that was in the early 90s.

And then over the years, we've made it a priority; "we" being me and the owners to have really top executive talent in our organization. And certainly a number of those people get strong consideration as my successor; I'm sure, as well as outsiders.

Q. I'm curious, on your watch there has been great emphasis on making sure that minority candidates get a good look for coaching positions and front office positions with the clubs. Will you see to it in some way that this also happens in the search for your successor?

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: Yes, Dan Rooney and I have already talked about that, and that will be one of the key things as we go forward with this search.

Q. Can you say in what kind of way that would take place?

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: As I say, Dan and I have already started talking about it. I have had, going back for some months, I've spoken to Jeff Pash, our general counsel, about that. As you know Jeff has been managing the Diversity Committee with Dan, and it's certainly uppermost in our minds what we need to do with this search, what the Diversity Committee has been urging the clubs to do with coaches and front office executives. The specifics are yet to be determined as to how we'll make sure that goal is accomplished.

Q. I wanted to ask you about the timing of this, if the CBA deal had not gone through and you were still in a labor situation, would you have postponed this decision? And No. 2, you remember obviously how your search dragged on longer than what people have expected, and while you've said July, if there was no successor in place by July, would you stay on longer?
COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: On the second question, the answer is yes. July is sort of a target that we set for ourselves when we created this package in my employment contract. But the understanding has always been that if -- that I would stay on until a successor was ready to be in place.

On the first question it's a little bit speculative obviously because we got the CBA extension done, but my guess would be that my decision would have been the same after having created these two paths in my contract. One is a path that would carry me through to 2008 as the commissioner, and the second was this path that gives me the alternative to step down here in the spring of '06 and continue in some other role until 2008 my guess is then I would have chosen that latter path either way in terms of the CBA.

Q. So do you think the owners kind of understood that, and maybe there was more pressure on them to get it done while you were still in command, as opposed to a new person in charge?

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: No, I don't think it was a factor at all. It was never discussed and it was never brought up. The owners on my contract committee and I kind of had a task of understanding that whatever I was going to do on my contract, whatever they were going to do on my contract as we move forward this spring, that would be deferred until after the CBA negotiations were done. Either way it would not become a factor in the negotiations.

Q. There were a lot of successes you have had over the years, but if you had to have one do-over, what would that be?

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: I would have been able to dribble with my left better than I could.
I don't know, I think I've said before that if we had the benefit of hindsight, we would have made certain that either the Rams or the Raiders stayed in L.A. in the mid-90s. I thought that we were taking all of the steps that we needed to take when we passed that resolution in providing for the stadium in Hollywood Park, and it turned out not to be operative. I guess if you could go back and relive a month, that might be the month where you might do something differently.

Q. There's a rumor that Condoleezza Rice is interested in being Commissioner for the NFL. Can you dispel or confirm that rumor?

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: Well, I think she's the one who said publicly she would be interested in the job. I don't know whether that's facetious on her part or not. She was at the Super Bowl this year with us, and she made it very clear she wants the job she has. I think if you really want to have a definitive answer to the question, go to her next press conference.
Q. Is there any sense of urgency with you leaving in July or perhaps a little bit later for your successor to try to get things in L.A. wrapped up before then and before there's change where your successor might do something differently? And also, in all of the years that Los Angeles has been without a team, I was wondering how much credit or blame you might feel for that?

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: I think it's the same answer I gave a few minutes ago. Those issues are not personal to me. I think they are institutional and I don't think the urgency on the part of the league to get back there with a successful team or teams is going to be changed by my own personal situation. I think that whatever was the prevailing point of view on L.A. last Friday, it's going to be the same point of view next Friday and the Friday after, but it is a major priority and we'll continue to act on that basis.

Q. You touched on this a little while ago with the regret you had about allowing the Rams or the Raiders to leave, but did you anticipate -- when you look back did you think it would be possible a team would be out of market the size of L.A. for this long?

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: As I said, when we adopted that resolution in Hollywood Park we thought that would be adequate to secure that a team would be remaining, but that turned out not to be the case and we've got to figure out how to get it done now.
Q. How great an effort was there made by people in the league to talk you out of this in the last day or days, and if there was a great effort, did you give any serious consideration to reconsider?

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: There was no effort made because nobody, other than Dan Rooney, knew what my thinking was likely to be. We had extensive discussions about two years ago when I extended my contract, and at that time, I started those discussions with the idea that I would wrap things up a year ago in May of 2005. And at that time, a number of owners spoke to me and urged me to extend at least through the spring of '06. And those owners who spoke to me rather emphatically included Dan Rooney, Jerry Richardson, Pat Bowlen, Bob Kraft, probably some others.

But once we restructured my contract, they and others I think understood that we had two different paths, as I mentioned earlier, one through the spring of '06, and another through the spring of '08; and that if I decided to step down as commissioner now, I'd make myself available for another two years in other roles as the owners might see fit.

We didn't have any discussions in the last ten days with owners. I did call Dan Rooney in the middle of last week and say that the question I was considering was whether I should announce this decision now, or wait until some time between the end of our March meeting and the beginning of our May league meeting; in other words, put this decision off until sometime in late April or early May.

It seemed to me that eliminating the uncertainty now, letting all of the owners know at the same time what my decision was, and going forward on that basis was the right course of action, and Dan Rooney said that basically it was my call and he would accept whatever judgment I made.

Then I spoke to him this morning and said that it seemed to me, like I said earlier, the biggest enemy here is uncertainty and speculation. The biggest positive is candor, certainty and continuity and the best way we could achieve the latter was to make this announcement now as we go into our league meeting rather than after the league meeting.

Q. As you envision the evolving league economics, what do you think the most tangible aspect of the new revenue sharing model will be in terms of how fans might see an impact on the game and the product?

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: I think the revenue sharing model is much more specific than we had in the past in terms of the level of spending that clubs need to plan for as a percentage of their own revenue. I think that's a real positive. I think it gives teams predictability as to their competitiveness in signing players. I think the salary structure will create predictability in the outer limit of player costs. I think that's one important aspect of the new structure.

The second important aspect is the funding of revenue sharing through digital media and the Internet, which provides, pretty well assured, that the funding of revenue sharing will be there and it also avoids or minimizes the potential that those revenue streams would become an additional source of any revenue disparity that could be unsettling.

Q. When you talk about where digital media is going, do you envision a situation where fans could get every NFL game on the Internet? Is that where this is headed, and how does that conflict with what you are doing with your television contract?

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: I don't have the answer to that. No one has the answer to that. I don't think it has as much to do with live games as it has to do with other services. I think that certainly through 2011, the live games are going to be focused where they are, on live television, cable and satellite.

I think the digital media in the short term has to do with highlights, has to do with mobile services, has to do with wireless services, has to do with video on demand. But beyond 2011, I think it's pretty speculative as to what happens to live games. But I don't see that the Internet is going to become the all-purpose source for all sports television.

Q. What are you going to miss most about the job?

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: Just the excitement of being involved in something that is as much of a major piece of millions of people's lives as the NFL. It's a little bit like the agony of defeat and the triumph of winning. When you do things well, you enjoy the upside. When you stumble, you agonize over the stumbles, but you're an active part and you're involved in shaping what's very exciting for millions and millions of people, which is following NFL football, following the championship race right up to and including the Super Bowl. And also the impact that has on bringing communities together, setting examples for kids and just everything the NFL stands for. It's fun.

Q. A reference was made earlier about staying on past July if need be, do you anticipate as tough a time finding your successor as the owners had finding -- eventually picking you? And was there one moment that you knew this was the right decision; that you made up your mind what you were doing?

COMMISSIONER PAUL TAGLIABUE: I didn't know what to anticipate because we don't have a discussion with the owners until next Monday, so it's really hard to say. But kind of the assumption is that we can work through this in the next four months, and I'll be ready to move on by the end of July. If that turns out not to be the case, that will take us beyond that into the beginning of the regular season.

On the second question, there was no moment. But like I said before, going back to the winter and spring of 2004, I was of the view that as I approached age 65 and 15 or more years of service, that that would be a good run and I would be healthy enough to do some other things in my life. And so I think that this path was kind of charted in the winter and spring of; 04, and then with the success we've had since then, it just seemed like that was it; that it was clearer and clearer that this was a good, opportune time from a league standpoint, as well as my own personal standpoint, to make this transition.
If there was ever a moment in time, I think you'd have to put it back to the winter and spring of '04 when we structured this two-phase contract.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

Commissioner Tagliabue Will Retire But Stil Be Involved In Several NFL Business Matters

At 1:30 PM PST today, the National Football League held a press conference call to officially announce the retirement of NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. With NFL VP of Public Relations Greg Aiello at his side, Commissioner Tagliabue adroitly fielded questions from the phone-based press corp, including this author.

The vast majority of the queries were on the matter of current NFL business matters regarding the location of a team in Los Angeles "We're prepared to move forward," he said. Tagliabue will also stick around to push that initiative and to stewart the revival of the NFL's Saints' presence in New Orleans. The Commissioner explained that he would be flying to New Orleans in a few weeks on that matter.

Raiders or Rams Leaving LA Only Regret

Commissioner Tagliabue claims his greatest successes as the construction of new stadiums, the expansion of the league, and of course, the recent completion of the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). When I asked him what he would like a "do over" on, he said his greatest "do over" opportunity would certainly be the LA matter. "I don't know, I think I've said before that if we had the benefit of hindsight, we would have made certain that either the Rams or the Raiders stayed in L.A. in the mid-90s. I thought that we were taking all of the steps that we needed to take when we passed that resolution in providing for the stadium in Hollywood Park, and it turned out not to be operative. I guess if you could go back and relive a month, that might be the month where you might do something differently."

I asked if the rumors regarding Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's interests in the Commissioner's position were true. "Well," he said, "I think she's the one who said publicly she would be interested in the job. I don't know whether that's facetious on her part or not. She was at the Super Bowl this year with us, and she made it very clear she wants the job she has. I think if you really want to have a definitive answer to the question, go to her next press conference.

A Steady Hand

On a personal level, when I think of Paul Tagliabue, the words "stability," "focus," and "friendliness" come up. They stem from my first NFL Owners Meeting held in Chicago at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare on November 1-3 of 1999. They call it the "Fall Owners Meeting." At any rate, as the head of the effort to bring the Super Bowl to Oakland, I was invited to The Wilson Cocktail Party held that Monday evening and presented by the maker of the footballs used by the league.

I was completely and totally nervous, but decided that I was going to be with other human beings and didn't have to worry about being eaten. I was one of the first to arrive; the other being Dennis Lewin, who was then head of television affairs for the league, and Houston Texans Owner Bob McNair. As we carried on a lively and friendly conversation, the owners trickled in, and finally Commissioner Tagliabue.

The Commissioner has a presense. A fact built in part by his height at 6'7, his celebrity, and mostly his posture. He carries an upright walk, but with a personality devoid of a patrician affect that makes some unapproachable. At the time he walked in, I'd migrated over to a group of owners including Jack Faukner of the LA Rams and Pat Bowlen of the Denver Broncos. Commissioner Tagliabue came over and the first subject on his mind was to give a kind of impromptu attendance report to the group. What struck me was his constant attention to league matters, but in a relaxed way.

When I finally got the chance to meet him, his greeting was warm and sincere. But I most remembered that he looked me in the eye, so I didn't have the impression that he was going through the motions of a party. He was paying attention to every NFL detail, including this new guy who was trying to bring the NFL's marque even to a city containing the league's least popular owner.

My last lengthy meeting with him was on May 10th of 2005 and in a two hour meeting between Super Bowl: Oakland officials, and the Commissioners' senior staff. Again, Paul had the same commanding yet comfortable persona, but let his staff members -- in this case then-NFL Senior Vice President for Special Events Jim Steeg -- do most of the talking. Paul didn't say anything until about 37 minutes into the meeting, the start of which was delayed because Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown came in 10 minutes late. He asked me if I had a financing plan for the new, temporary stadium seats, and I did explain a naming rights concept I developed. He nodded in approval.

After the meeting, he came over, shook my hand,...and looked me right in the eye.

NFL COO - And Friend - Roger Goodell Rumored To Take Over For Tagliabue

NFL Commissioner Search | Roger Goodell Oddsmakers Favorite To Win Job | Roger Goodell Press Conference Transcript

I first met Roger Goodell on the phone. I was instructed to call him by Oakland Raiders Executive Assistant Al LoCasale. At the time, I was Economic Advisor to Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris and was working behind the scenes to reestablish the preseason game between the San Francisco 49ers and The Oakland Raiders. Roger and I spent the first 40 minutes talking about politics before we discussed the matter of the game.

The second time we talked -- and that was on several occasions -- was when I worked to bring the Super Bowl to Oakland. I called Roger to ask what his idea of the best Super Bowl was and why. He told me "It was the 1991 Super Bowl. The Giants v. The Bills. It was right after the Gulf War and their was a great feeling of pride in our country and that was reflected in the way the game was presented, with the airplanes overhead, and the fireworks." What that told me was that the NFL understood it's place in America's culture and how what it does is tied to the mood of America. But what it also told me was that Roger knew this, and perhaps better than most.

I remember seeing Roger as I was setting up the video for our Super Bowl: Oakland presentation to Commissioner Tagliabue in a special meeting we had set on May 10th, 2000 at NFL Headquarters in NYC. Roger came over, and showed me how to work the video machine and we talked early on. Later, he joined Commissioner Tagliabue in our presentation meeting. I remember thinking that Roger never seemed to get caught up in the importance of what he was doing. Indeed, he seemed quite comfortable and always personable.

When I returned home, I got the latest issue of The Sports Business Journal, and learned that Roger had just been promoted to Chief Operating Officer of the NFL.

Roger's sometimes the receipient of the blunt words of a deal maker trying to force an outcome with the always careful NFL. In this case, that person was Hollywood's legendary super agent, Mike Ovitz, whom I met after cold calling him in 1997 with an opportunity to own the Oakland Athletics. I ran into Ovitz, who was trying to land an NFL team in Los Angeles, at Super Bowl XXXV between the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Bucaneers. I asked Mike how the NFL was treating him. "Terrible. Roger Goodell doesn't want an NFL team in LA." I asked if I could tell Roger that he said that, and he said "Yeah. Tell him I said that."

So, I ran into Milt Aldrich, head of NFL Security, and whom I'd not talked to in a couple of years, and asked "Say, are going to see Roger?" Milt said "As a matter of fact, yes." Well, relay this message to him....

The last tiime I saw Roger was at last year's NFL Draft and at this year's great Super Bowl in Detroit. He always asked how I was doing and never seemed to miss a beat of time at his work.

I can't think of a better person to lead the NFL. I hope he gets the job.


280 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
(212) 450-2000 * FAX (212) 681-7573

Joe Browne, Executive Vice President-Communications
Greg Aiello, Vice President-Public Relations

NFL-10 3/20/06


Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE is retiring at the end of July from the position that he has held since late 1989, the NFL announced today.

Tagliabue, 65, called Pittsburgh Steelers owner DAN ROONEY early this morning and told him of his decision. Rooney, the chairman of the ownership committee that negotiated Tagliabue’s last contract extension in 2004, notified all clubs by email at noon (ET).

“I believe that now is a positive time to make the transition to a new commissioner,” Tagliabue said. “We have a collective bargaining extension in place, long-term television contracts, and have undertaken many other strong elements in league and club operations. I am honored to have been commissioner since late 1989 and to have been heavily involved with the league, its owners, clubs, coaches, players, fans and media since 1969.”

NFL owners will begin formal discussions of transition planning and the search for a new commissioner at the NFL Annual Meeting, which begins March 26 in Orlando, Florida.

As part of his contract with the league, Tagliabue will be available to serve in a senior executive/advisory role through May 31, 2008 once a new commissioner is selected.

Under Tagliabue’s leadership, the NFL has grown from 28 to 32 teams, revised its divisional alignment and scheduling formula, operated under successive long-term labor agreements with the NFL Players Association, and maintained its preeminent position in sports television.

During this time, the NFL also has expanded league and team commitments to community service, refocused the NFL’s efforts in developing public-private partnerships for new stadiums, and expanded its international appeal and presence.
In addition, the NFL under Tagliabue has been the new media leader in sports, creating the first leaguewide Internet network for fans and first satellite television subscription service, and launching the NFL Network on cable and satellite television.
Before succeeding the late PETE ROZELLE as the league’s CEO on October 26, 1989, Tagliabue represented the NFL as an attorney in many important areas as a partner at Covington & Burling, a Washington, D.C., law firm, the NFL’s principal outside counsel.
# # #

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Terrell Owens - Dallas Cowboys Deal; Where's Bill Parcells

There are some sources -- check Pro Football Talk at www.profootballtalk.com -- who believe that the deal to bring Terrell Owens to the Dallas Cowboys was not approved of by Head Coach Bill Parcells.

But of all of these comments I found at the Dallas Cowboys website, the one by Quarterback Drew Bledsoe seems to indicate that Parcells did back the deal. Read on:

IRVING, Texas - The Cowboys' signing of Terrell Owens is undoubtedly one of the biggest NFL stories in recent history.

So here is what they're saying about Owens suddenly becoming a Dallas Cowboy:

Former San Francisco quarterback Jeff Garcia, who once played with Owens, took the high road this week after signing with Philadelphia when asked about the outspoken wide receiver who trashed him before getting traded: "I don't have a problem with the guy. The guy is a tremendous player on the field."

Former Cowboys tight end James Whalen, who spent training camp with the Eagles in 2005: "In my opinion, he's the best player in the NFL. To me, his biggest problem in Philadelphia was that he felt he was owed more money. And Philly wasn't willing to compromise. But I think it can work (in Dallas). If he's happy with his contract, I don't think he's going to be a problem."

Former Cowboys safety George Teague, who decked the celebrating Owens at the 50-yard line during a 2000 regular-season game: "I'm still in a little disbelief. But I know Jerry Jones and I know we want to win football. But for me personally, it's a little disappointing after how his actions a couple of years ago . . . I don't see how anyone can forget."

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones on the contract given to Owens: "We can both disappoint each other in this agreement. But this is no free lunch to the Dallas Cowboys. We made a commitment to him. That means something."

Terrell Owens when asked about the 2000 incident when he twice celebrated on the 50-yard line star at Texas Stadium: "No disrespect. I am a competitor. I wanted to win. Just as Emmitt [Smith] did when he stood in the star, I am going to embrace it from here on out."

Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe when asked if he was surprised that Bill Parcells would want to sign Owens: "It doesn't surprise me at all. Bill wants to win, just like I do, just like Jerry does, just like all of us. And if there's a chance to make us better, then it doesn't surprise me one bit that he would sign off on this."

Former Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin, a good friend of Owens: "In order for the Cowboys to get where they need to get, they need a pure No. 1 receiver, and that's what this guy is. When Drew drops back three, five and seven (yards), he will get open. And the times he's not open, throw it anyway because he can still get it."

Saturday, March 18, 2006

T.O. to The Dallas Cowboys - An "In Your Face" To The Eagles

This is tbe best deal of its kind since free agency was established in the NFL. The kind of deal one always feared. The one that sends a disgruntled, unwanted, but very, very good player to a rival organization.

That deal just happened as Terrell Owens signs a three year contract with The Dallas Cowboys-- read below.

Owens joins Cowboys, signs three-year deal
NFL.com wire reports
IRVING, Texas (March 18, 2006) -- Terrell Owens has gone from stomping on the Dallas Cowboys' star logo to wearing it on his helmet.

The reviled receiver joined the Cowboys, signing a contract to play for Jerry Jones and Bill Parcells in what promises to be an interesting combination of strong personalities.

There's no questioning his talent -- Owens has consistently put up numbers the Cowboys have lacked since Michael Irvin was in the prime of his career a decade ago.

It's his attitude that prompted the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles to get rid of Owens. His relationship with the Eagles soured only months after he led them to the Super Bowl, finally ending with his release March 14.

Details of his contract weren't immediately available, but it was likely to include behavior-related provisions. His blowup with Philadelphia last season even led to new rules regarding punishment being written into the NFL's latest collective-bargaining agreement.

Jones, who built a billion-dollar fortune by taking big risks, is willing to take this one because the Cowboys have gone nine years without winning a playoff game.

Part of the gamble is that fans will warm up to Owens, who launched his flamboyant persona in September 2000 when as a member of the 49ers he celebrated each of two touchdown catches at Texas Stadium by running to the team's star logo at midfield. Safety George Teague secured a spot in team lore by decking Owens after the second one.

On a Monday night game in 2004 best remembered for his pregame skit with a Desperate Housewives actress, Owens celebrated another score by tapping on a logo in the end zone.

Until his behavior limited him to nine games last season, Owens had at least 75 receptions and 1,100 yards receiving in five consecutive seasons. The last time a Cowboys receiver hit both figures in one season was Irvin in 1997.

But Owens also has alienated teammates, coaches and the front office with the things he says and does.

In Dallas, Owens joins a team coming off a 9-7 season that included a 2-4 finish, keeping them from making the playoffs for a second successive season. The Cowboys seem to need more than a star receiver to get over the hump, but do need a main threat after releasing Keyshawn Johnson on March 14.

The team lacks veteran leaders, with captains Dan Campbell and Dat Nguyen already gone, as is La'Roi Glover, another calming influence. Dallas also is in a tough division that includes T.O.-less Philadelphia, the New York Giants hoping to improve as quarterback Eli Manning develops and the Washington Redskins, who have been big spenders in free agency.

The Eagles gave up on Owens only months after he helped them reach the Super Bowl. He demanded a new contract one year into a seven-year deal, then squabbled with quarterback Donovan McNabb.

Before that, Owens forced his way out of San Francisco with repeated hijinks on the field and through disparaging comments about teammates, including quarterback Jeff Garcia.

Jones is no stranger to unpopular moves.

After winning big gambles in real estate and digging for oil wells, he put it all on the line to buy the Cowboys in 1989. Since then, he has fired Tom Landry, forced out Jimmy Johnson, entrusted a championship club to Barry Switzer and given Deion Sanders a $13 million signing bonus.

Jones felt pretty good about his choices when the Cowboys won their third Super Bowl in a four-year span. But that was 1995; Dallas has won only one playoff game since.

He has lost other big gambles along the way, from sticking with Switzer to hiring Chan Gailey, then Dave Campo as head coaches. He also has risked public scorn by releasing franchise icons Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith.

Irvin's off-field woes are the local precedent for taking on Owens. However, while Irvin might have tarnished the team's image, he was a devoted teammate and fan favorite.

When Irvin was returning from a five-game suspension in 1996, he was asked how he expected fans to treat him. Irvin said he only had to score a touchdown to win them back -- and he was right.

Could it be that easy for Owens?

The Associated Press News Service

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Pats Cut Wille McGinest; Browns Pick Him Up

Pats Lineman and USC Trojan Willie McGinest was reunited with his old defensive coach Romeo Crenel today. It's a great move for the Browns as he knows the defense the Browns run -- it was the same as that he played within in New England. The Pats, on the other hand, lose a great team leader.

The Browns are on a serious free agency tear. They've got DT Ted Washington, WR Joe Juervicious, to name some of the more famous names. Let's see how this impacts their draft postion. Will they trade down?

Sports Illustrated's Mike Silver Sheds Light on The Edgerrin James Deal Sending Him to Arizona

Mike Silver's got a knack for getting to the real story behind NFL players. He does that here with Edgerrin James, the former Indy Colt who's now running back for the Arizona Cardinals.

But knowing Mike, he may have even hit a bar in South Beach while on the story! (Click on this post's title to read it.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

NFL Free Agency Roundup

Man. Gone a few days and the NFL turns upside down. To find out who-went-where at a glance, I went to NFL.com. This is what I learned:

Mike Anderson signed with Baltimore away from Denver.

Egderin James is now with the Arizona Cardinals! (I guess he doesn't want a Super Bowl ring after all!)

John Kitna bolted Cincinnati for The Detroit Lions, leaving the Bengals in the hunt for a quaterback to spell the healing Carson Palmer.

The Bengals signed Super Bowl XXXIV MVP Defensive Back Dexter Jackson away from the Tampa Bay Bucs.

Drew Brees is now a New Orleans Saint, which eliminates their need to draft a quarterback.

The Oakland Raiders have done nothing on the free agency market -- yet.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Patriots cut LB McGinest after 12 seasons

NFL.com wire reports

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (March 9, 2006) -- The New England Patriots released linebacker Willie McGinest in a salary-cap move, ending a 12-year relationship with the NFL's all-time postseason sack leader.

The release of the two-time Pro Bowler was announced March 9, the day after the NFL owners voted 30-2 at their meeting in Grapevine, Texas, to extend the collective bargaining agreement with the players for six more years, resulting in a new salary cap figure of $102 million.

The 34-year-old McGinest carried a salary cap figure of more than $7 million for next season. The veteran linebacker is now a free agent and can sign with any team, including New England.

NFL Adopts "Baseball Style" Revenue Sharing Adjustment - Observation

The new NFL CBA includes and adjustment where the richest revenue teams place a portion of their revenues into a pool which is then used by the smaller revenue organizations. This is very much like the system in the current Major League Baseball Collective Bargaining Agreement, but the percentage of the top-tier-teams revenue gotten is not as great.

Commissioner Tagliabue Press Conference, Special League Meeting, Dallas Texas, March 8, 2006

This from NFL Media.com today

Commissioner Tagliabue:

We just concluded two long days of meetings. Last night we went until about 1 a.m., and this morning we started around 7 a.m. and finished at about 6:59 and 59 seconds before the 7 p.m. deadline. The membership approved the Collective Bargaining Agreement and accepted the offer of the Players Association for the six-year extension of the Collective
Bargaining Agreement by a vote of 30 in favor and two voting against.

It was really a tremendous effort by owners across the entire spectrum of the league, no matter how you define the spectrum – whether it's in terms of longevity, whether it's in terms of big-market, small-market or high-revenue, low-revenue. Everyone came together after these two full days of discussions and reached a consensus not only on the Collective Bargaining Agreement, but on some major new revenue-sharing features to support the ability of all teams to function well under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The consensus was forged really by all 32, but nine teams worked this afternoon to take two different concepts that had evolved over the last two days and meld it into one concept. The first concept had been developed in the last two days by the New York Jets and the New England Patriots, Woody Johnson and Jonathan Kraft. The second concept had been developed by the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens, particularly Art Rooney and Ravens President Dick Cass. Then over the luncheon hour, three other owners spoke with me about a concept for putting together the two proposals, the two
different sets of ideas, and a process to take the Jets-Patriots concept and the Ravens-Steelers concept and blend it into one.

Those three owners were John Mara, Jerry Richardson and Pat Bowlen. Then when we resumed this afternoon, all of those owners plus Jerry Jones and Arthur Blank played a critical role. We ended up with one single resolution that brought all of the different ideas together. It was sponsored by the nine teams that I just mentioned: Giants, Steelers, Patriots, Ravens, Falcons, Panthers, Broncos, Jets and Cowboys. And that's what we presented to the membership and explained it. Once it was all explained, we had the vote and it was adopted without any changes. The blending of the two proposals into one, which was developed this afternoon between 3:15 and 6 p.m., was accepted on the basis that it was presented and developed by those nine teams. In addition to Art Rooney, Dan Rooney was involved in that process. In addition to Arthur Blank, Rich McKay was involved in that process, plus all the owners I've already mentioned. I'll be glad to take questions.

Q: Can you discuss the new revenue sharing agreement?

PT: The revenue sharing basically is a commitment of almost $500 million over the first four years of the deal and then several hundred million additional dollars over the last two years of the deal. I think the total amount over the life of the deal gets to over $850 or $900 million of incremental revenue sharing to be funded in some significant degree by the high-revenue clubs. "High-revenue" includes the top five, the next group, six through 10, and to a lesser degree the clubs who rank 11 through 15. All of those clubs in differing proportions ended up making the alliance or the commitment to fund the
revenue sharing.

Q: How will those funds be redistributed among the membership?

PT: The lower-revenue teams will draw from that fund. The overall concept was geared to the idea that when a team spends to the midpoint between the salary cap and cash over the cap on an average basis, to spend to that level a team should not have to spend more than a specified percentage of its own revenue. So there is an objective standard in there.

Q: What number, percentage-wise, is fair or equitable?

PT: The target in this concept was 65 percent maximum, as a percentage of your own revenues. Of course, the players are getting an unprecedented high level of total revenue, approaching 60 percent of the total.

Q: What will the salary cap be for the 2006 season?

PT: The salary cap for 2006 will $102 million and for 2007 be $109 million.

Q: When will the free agency period begin?

PT: Free agency is going to begin after a 48-hour hiatus, so that clubs can use the additional funding within this cap to re-sign players rather than release players, if that's the way they choose to proceed.

Q: Can you describe some of the other landmark changes that are included in this new CBA?

PT: There are several major features, a lot of major features. There is a significantly expanded post-career medical coverage for players. They already have five years postcareer. There is a healthcare-IRA-type element set aside that the players will get funded in proportion to the length of their career. It's quite a significant improvement in benefits.

The franchise player rules basically stay as they are with some minor tweaking. For the first time a player is tagged and the second time a player is tagged, then in the eventuality, which is very rare, that a player would be tagged a third time, the structure has been modified so as to virtually ensure that in the future there would not be any three time tags, that players and clubs would be able to work out multi-year agreements, including signing bonuses, either the first time a player was tagged or the second time a player was tagged.

Another change is that drafted players in rounds two through seven will have a maximum contract length of four years. Someclubs have been signing players to five and six-year contracts. That had become an issue with the Players Association in this negotiation relative to the concept of free agency after four years. We agreed there would be a maximum contract length of four years for players drafted in rounds two through seven. The first round can still be negotiated with longer deals.

Q: Any changes in terms of club disciplinary procedures and forfeiting signing bonus?

PT: Yes. There are also provisions in there that modify the ground rules in terms of forfeiture of signing bonuses. There are also a number of areas that the discipline provided at the league level for the most part becomes the exclusive form of discipline, whether its suspension or fines, such as with the drug program and with other areas. League discipline would become exclusive.

Q: Any changes in the amount of the rookie salary pool?

PT: No. We had a lot of discussions about the rookie pool, but in the end I don't think we've made any changes.

Q: On the discipline aspect, you're saying that what Philadelphia did to Terrell Owens could no longer be an option?

PT: I'm not saying that. I'm saying that in certain areas we've modified what teams can negotiate. In certain other areas, we agreed that league discipline would be exclusive and that individual club contracts would not be individually negotiated departures from the league disciplinary pattern. That would not be permitted.

Q: You've said all along that this would get done at the 11th hour and 59th minute. It almost sounds like it was orchestrated.

PT: Do you have another question? Harold Henderson heads our Management Council and he had been hearing me say for several years that this would get done at the 11th hour and 59th minute. Frequently over dinner he'd say, "11th hour and 59th minute before what?" And I would say, "I don't know. It's just going to be at the 11th hour and the 59th minute."

Then the other night on Sunday when we had the second break off of negotiations and we were able to talk to Gene Upshaw late at night that his proposal would be presented, I think we got it done after 11 p.m. Then Harold finally said to me, "Now I know what you mean when you talk about the 11th hour and the 59th minute. We're now at the 11th hour and the 24th minute." So I say, "Wait until we get to Dallas. If we have more than 60 seconds to spare, it will be a miracle." And that's the way it turned out.

Q: How important is this new agreement to game of football and the league?

PT: I think it is important. Time will tell how important it is, but it was certainly an opportunity to continue building what we've been building. I think it's great for the fans. I think the quality of the game is at a tremendous level. The spread of talent around the league, the ability of teams to become competitive relatively quickly and to do what Marvin Lewis has done and what other coaches have done, it's a great thing. This preserves all of that. It continues with the elements that we have with the Players Association on the shared cost of constructing new stadiums. It continues a lot of our initiatives, Youth Football and other areas. So I think it's a very positive thing for the fans and the league generally even though it's a stretch from a financial standpoint for many, many teams in terms of the cost.

Q: Does this agreement affect the G-3 funding program for new stadiums?

PT: There are some changes in the G-3 funding program, yes. Basically it's an improvement.

Q: Are debts of some of the high-revenue teams addressed in this agreement?

PT: Not in any way that I could explain right now. We didn't get to the point of micromanaging the way teams operate. We set targets in terms of what should be a reasonable target that a club would have to spend on players to be competitive relative to its own revenues. Once we had that target agreed to, then we did a calculation, or thousands of calculations. Once you translated that target and tried to figure out how it would play out over the next six seasons, the question was, "What is the resulting revenue-sharing obligation that had to be funded?"

And that is what we funded. But we didn't get into micromanaging what teams do in order to generate revenue or to
figure out how to net out the costs of stadium construction, except in some of the structural elements of the agreement. There is a concept of TFR, which takes account of stadium construction costs, there's a G-3 credit that takes account of that, but we didn't micromanage what teams do. We want to have the right incentives for teams at every level, the right support through the league and to give great incentives for low-revenue teams to pick their revenue up, be it through new stadiums or other things. But it's not micromanaging.

Q: Beforehand, you had thought that revenue sharing did not necessarily have to be a part of this deal, but it is now part of the package. Can you discuss that?

PT: I always thought it would be part of the package. That was always my expectation.

Q: How pleased are you that this is done?

PT: I'm pleased, and more than pleased, I'm relieved.

Visit the new Zennie62.com

Zennie62 blog net

Google Analytics Alternative