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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

NFL To Play Some Regular Season Games Outside US In 2008

I think this is great news, but I worry that football may become too well-exposed. Still, it's the logical next step: Worldwide NFL games.

League eyeing more games outside of U.S.

NFL.com wire reports
DUESSELDORF, Germany (May 27, 2006) -- The NFL has proposed playing two regular-season games outside the United States starting in 2008, league officials said.

Mark Waller, head of NFL international development, said the proposal to play abroad was put to team owners in Denver. It came after the 49ers and Cardinals played last October before a regular-season record crowd of 103,000 in Mexico City.

The owners will discuss the issue again in October. The games would be played in Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany, where five of the six NFL Europe teams play.

"I will say the reception we got from the owners was incredibly positive -- all the questions were on the practical issues," Waller said.

Plans were also announced to add two more teams to the six playing in NFL Europe by 2010. Last year, owners gave the league a five-year operating license -- ending years of threatening to pull the plug on the operation because of the cost.

"It now gives us a platform to grow the game internationally with a concept of clarity," Waller said.

Outgoing commissioner Paul Tagliabue said developing the game internationally may rank as one of his top five accomplishments during his 16 years in charge.

"I feel the international initiatives we made, along with the owners, may become more significant over time," Tagliabue said.

The league's effort to make an impact internationally began in 1986, when NFL teams began to play preseason games overseas.

The German cities of Hanover and Leipzig are the leading candidates to get NFL Europe expansion clubs as the league concentrates on Germany. The Amsterdam Admirals are the only current NFL Europe team located outside Germany.

NFL Europe would then be split into two four-team divisions with the schedule expanded from 10 to 12 games. The league hopes to develop local stars for NFL Europe, as well as international stars in the NFL.

"It's clearly critical to the future of the game internationally," said Jim Connelly, managing director of NFL Europe.

Seattle Seahawks QB Gibran Hamdan Named NFL Europe Offensive Player Of The Year

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE

WWW.NFLMedia.com

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

SEAHAWKS QB HAMDAN NAMED NFL EUROPE LEAGUE OFFENSIVE MVP; PANTHERS DT BROWN & FRANCE’S GARDENT SHARE DEFENSIVE HONORS
SEATTLE PLACES NFL-BEST FIVE PLAYERS ON ALL-LEAGUE TEAM;
GREEN BAY, HOUSTON & MINNESOTA EACH PLACE TWO AS WORLD BOWL XIV KICKS OFF SATURDAY

The NFL Europe League announced its annual awards today at World Bowl Media Day at the LTU Arena in DÏ‹sseldorf, Germany.

Quarterback GIBRAN HAMDAN (Seattle Seahawks) of the Amsterdam Admirals was named the NFL Europe League Offensive Most Valuable Player while Admirals defensive tackle TONY BROWN (Carolina Panthers) and French linebacker PHILIPPE GARDENT of the Cologne Centurions were named the Co-Defensive MVPs. Frankfurt Galaxy head coach MIKE JONES was named Coach of the Year.

Hamdan led the Admirals to a 6-1 record before suffering a season-ending injury. The Indiana product led the league in completion percentage (63.0 percent), passing yards (1,629) and touchdowns (12) while posting the highest passer rating in NFL Europe League history (113.4).

Brown helped anchor the Amsterdam defense, registering 40 tackles, 4.0 sacks, one fumble recovery, an interception and five passes defensed. The former Memphis standout also blocked two field goals.

France’s Gardent led the league with 70 tackles for the Centurions and is the first national, or non-American, player to win an MVP award in NFL Europe history.

The league also announced its all-NFL Europe League team. Seattle placed an NFL-high five players on the squad, while Green Bay, Houston and Minnesota each had two. Among the six NFL Europe teams, World Bowl participants Amsterdam (8) and Frankfurt (5) led the way.

Included among the All-NFL Europe League team selections that will play in World Bowl XIV are Frankfurt running back ROGER ROBINSON (Arizona), Amsterdam wide receivers SKYLER FULTON (Seattle) and CHAD LUCAS (Green Bay), and Frankfurt defensive standouts BRANDON HAW (Seattle) and JEROME NICHOLS (Green Bay).

Robinson, allocated by the Arizona Cardinals, set the league’s single-season rushing record with 1,087 yards (MIKE GREEN, 1,057; Barcelona 2001) as the Galaxy had the top-ranked offense and rushing offense.

Seattle wide receiver Fulton led the league with 53 catches and 992 yards, the third best single-season total in NFL Europe history. Amsterdam teammate Lucas, allocated by Green Bay, topped the league with eight touchdown receptions, including an Europe League-record four in one game (April 8 at Berlin).

Safety Haw and defensive tackle Nichols were key components of Frankfurt’s top-ranked defense. Seattle’s Haw led NFL Europe with five interceptions while Green Bay’s Nichols had a league-best 7.0 sacks.

Yello Strom World Bowl XIV between the Admirals and Galaxy will be played this Saturday, May 27. The NFL Network will broadcast the game in the United Stats at 12:00 PM ET with CURT MENEFEE and BRIAN BALDINGER calling the action.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, and New Stadiums Give Saints and Cardinals Fans Hope - NFLMedia.com

But the jury's still out for the Cardinals, who were the favorite of many last year, before they actually played a regular season game.

WWW.NFLMedia.com
Joe Browne, Executive Vice President-Communications
Greg Aiello, Vice President-Public Relations

NFC NEWS 'N' NOTES
FOR USE AS DESIRED
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION,
NFC-N-2 5/18/06
CONTACT: MICHAEL SIGNORA (212/450-2076)

HOPES HIGH FOR SAINTS & CARDINALS
AS FANS CAN'T WAIT FOR 2006 KICKOFF

The calendar may read May, but it's football season year-round for legions of passionate NFL fans from coast to coast.
And on the heels of an NFL Draft that was watched by a record number of TV viewers, among those most excited for Kickoff 2006 Weekend are fans in America's Gulf Coast region and Arizona. Bring on the season!

After a year of unprecedented challenges, the New Orleans Saints welcome a youthful, energetic new head coach in 42-year old former Dallas Cowboys assistant head coach SEAN PAYTON.

"I hope that in some small way the effort of this team will represent the city and region well and show the country that New Orleans is back and a team to be reckoned with in the NFC South," says Payton.

Sharing that enthusiasm is the club's new quarterback DREW BREES, one of the most sought-after free agents in the league who elected to bring his talent to New Orleans, where he continues his rehabilitation from a shoulder injury.

"I feel great right now and I'm way ahead of schedule," says Brees of his rehabilitation. "I've been throwing for almost five weeks and I'm looking forward to being 100 percent by training camp. I'm just so excited to be a part of this team and this community. New Orleans and the region are very alive, and you have a lot of great citizens who are very committed to rebuilding the city and are excited about Saints football."

That excitement reached a crescendo on draft day on April 29 when the Saints used the No. 2 overall selection on Heisman Trophy-winning running back REGGIE BUSH of USC, one of the most dynamic players in college football history. Bush joins a backfield that includes a two-time All-Star in former Mississippi standout DEUCE MC ALLISTER.

"Everybody is excited," McAllister says. "The highlights of what Reggie has done at USC show that he can really add a dimension to our offense. We have two different games and I think we'll create mismatches for teams defending us."
Adds Bush, "It's a blessing to be here. I think I can do a lot not only for the organization, but the city itself. I can't wait to get started."
That start before the hometown fans will come on Monday, September 25 in a restored Louisiana Superdome against the NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons. The Saints have already broken their season-ticket record with 54,969 sold.

The theme of excitement is echoed approximately 1,300 miles to the west of Louisiana in the Valley of the Sun, where fans of the Arizona Cardinals are thrilled by the prospects ahead for the team. And much like in New Orleans, that excitement was stoked by the signing of a prized free agent – and cemented with a draft class loaded with potential.

"The Cardinals were the right situation for me," says running back EDGERRIN JAMES, who joined the club this spring after seven record-setting seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, sparking a ticket-buying frenzy that helped the Cardinals sell out their season ticket allotment for the season. "The sooner we get going, the better."

The team will "get going" in the brand-new Cardinals Stadium this season. The state-of-the art facility, which will open in August and host Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008, has received global media attention for its innovative design which features the first fully retractable grass surface in North America.

Adding to the high hopes for 2006 was a draft class that includes a pair of USC Trojans in quarterback MATT LEINART and guard DEUCE LUTUI.

"We are really gaining new fans every day," says Cardinals head coach DENNIS GREEN. "We have sold out season tickets and we will have a packed stadium. It's going to be a terrific atmosphere and we are all looking forward to it."

Reggie Bush Pays To Wear Jersey #25 - Darren Rovell, ESPN

I'm not sure Reggie Bush's marketing guy Mike Orenstein is ready to work with the number 25. I gave him the answer; for Bush to have #25 and do a "5 to 25" campaign. I guess he didn't see it!

Bush to wear No. 25 this coming season
By Darren Rovell
ESPN.com

Reggie Bush will get to wear No. 5 after all. There will just be a "2" in front of it.

Bush's marketing agent, Mike Ornstein, told ESPN.com on Thursday that his client will wear No. 25 next season for the New Orleans Saints.

Bush will get the number from Saints running back Fred McAfee. Ornstein said that rather than directly pay McAfee a fee for the use of the number, Bush will give half the money he had earmarked for charity to McAfee to use for the charity of his choice. Bush has pledged to donate 25 percent of his jersey sales royalties to Hurricane Katrina-related causes.

"We all went and dug into our pockets, and the city is as devastated today as the day it happened," Ornstein said. "And now, everyone has gone on to the next disaster."

To get No. 5, which he wore in high school and college, Bush needed the NFL Competition Committee to change the league's numbering rules. Currently, running backs are allowed only to wear numbers between 20 and 49. Earlier this week, the committee decided not to change the rules.

"Hopefully, they will change the rules next year so that Reggie can go back to wearing his old number," Ornstein said.

The delay of the decision might have hurt sales of Bush jerseys in the weeks since he was chosen second overall in the NFL draft. Eddie White, a vice president at Reebok, which makes the league's jerseys, said Bush's jersey had ranked first in preorders but is now in second place behind Vince Young's No. 10 for the Tennessee Titans. Young, who wore No. 10 at the University of Texas, has had that number with the Titans since draft day.

"It was a bunch of baloney that not having the No. 5 would hurt his sales," White said. "He could have worn any number, as long as we could have sold it that [draft day] Sunday, like we did for Vince Young and A.J. Hawk and Matt Leinart. But because he didn't have anything, he's behind Vince."

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at Darren.rovell@espn3.com.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

WR Ashley Lelie May Be Traded By The Denver Broncos Before Season's End


Wow, what a waste of a 4-3 forty guy. He's one of the best young receivers in the NFL.

Broncos could look to deal unhappy Lelie before camp begins - Profootballweekly,com

Denver

WR Ashley Lelie said he has no problem playing for Mike Shanahan, nor does he hold any grudges toward the team for trading for Javon Walker, his friend and workout partner in Arizona. It’s the desire to compete for a No. 1 spot elsewhere, as opposed to serving as Denver’s No. 3 option, that has him skipping out on the team’s offseason workout program and asking for a trade.

Even if he were to return to the team, the Broncos figure there is no chance Lelie will stick around once his contract is up after this season. So, in an attempt to get something in return for a former first-round pick who has been targeted by critics for his inconsistency and lack of toughness, we’re told to expect the Broncos to shop him around in the weeks leading up to the start of training camp in late July, much as they did with CB Willie Middlebrooks, a former first-round bust who was shipped to San Francisco for DE John Engelberger last year.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

"LA Raiders?" S.I.s Mike Silver Reports Ex-49ers Execs Eddie DeBartolo and Carmen Policy Working To Make This Happen; Cowboys' Jerry Jones Backs It



Sports Illustrated Senior Writer Michael Silver was good enough -- not that not doing so would have been bad -- to provide me with this email copy of his article that's in the latest Sports Illustrated. For the hard copy read, get S.I. in a store.

As to the story itself, remember, that LA and the State of California have been forming a good plan to make this happen.

Meanwhile, is Raiders CEO Amy Trask going to NFL New York?

Here's Michael Silver:


By Michael Silver for Sports Illustrated

In the eight years since Eddie DeBartolo gave up his ownership interest in the San Francisco 49ers, Niners fans have fantasized about his possible return. The once lofty franchise has foundered under the reign of DeBartolo's brother-in-law, John York, whose condescension and cost-consciousness have alienated employees and inspired the website dumpyork.com. Meanwhile DeBartolo, the anti-York, evokes images of gregarious generosity -- and success. The three-day Super Bowl reunion gala he threw for hundreds of former employees in Las Vegas in March was a reminder of happier times.


Now how's this for a surprise twist: DeBartolo and former 49ers president Carmen Policy, together again, presiding over ... the revived Los Angeles Raiders?

It would rank as the Bay Area's biggest sporting nightmare -- not to mention a seismic shift in California's football landscape. But the scenario has been broached by DeBartolo and Policy, and the NFL's desire to break back into the nation's second-largest media market could help make it a reality. Most owners are reluctant to disrupt the league's 32-team symmetry or further split up TV revenue, making an expansion team in L.A. highly unlikely. Instead, an existing franchise will probably relocate under new ownership, with the Raiders, Saints, Chargers, Vikings, Bills or even the 49ers as the leading candidates.

DeBartolo and Policy, the duo whose bold leadership helped bring five Super Bowl titles to San Francisco, have heard the rumors that Raiders boss Al Davis is in declining health. That, plus attendance problems in Oakland, are why they have Silver and Black on the brain. "Carmen and I have discussed different things, and that's one of the teams that intrigues us," DeBartolo told SI. "L.A. is a costly situation, but it's wide-open, and I think the right group could make it work."

Given the nature of his exit in 1998, DeBartolo's potential NFL reemergence is something of a shock. A year after becoming embroiled in a Louisiana gaming scandal (then governor Edwin Edwards elicited a bribe in exchange for a casino license), DeBartolo pleaded guilty to not reporting an extortion attempt, a felony. He was given two years probation, and the NFL fined him $1 million. He then gave his half of the 49ers to his sister, Denise DeBartolo York, in exchange for their late father's real estate holdings and moved to Tampa. He was in NFL exile, an untouchable because of his legal issues and their gambling overtones.

But time has revitalized DeBartolo's image, not to mention his portfolio. He has quietly built up his real estate empire to a reported net worth of $1.4 billion, and last September Forbes rated him the 235th-richest American. Several of the old-line NFL owners who were eager to see him go are now out of the league, and two prominent owners told SI they believe DeBartolo would be approved should he attempt to purchase a team. "His accomplishments in the NFL are significant," says the Cowboys' Jerry Jones. "A progressive owner is priceless."

DeBartolo, 59, says buying the Buccaneers would be his first choice. (He looked into purchasing them three years ago but was rebuffed by owner Malcolm Glazer.) But he and Policy -- they had a falling out shortly before DeBartolo left the 49ers but have repaired their relationship -- have contemplated other teams, including the Saints, and their interest in the Raiders is piqued by whispers that Davis, 76, is ill. He has been using a walker because of a leg ailment and did not show up at February's scouting combine or a recent minicamp. "For Al Davis to miss the combine, that's unusual," DeBartolo said.



The Raiders, for their part, say that everything is status quo. "Al Davis is as vital and vibrant as ever," says CEO Amy Trask. "The closest Eddie and Carmen will come to taking a look at the Raiders will be watching them on TV." Still, however Oakland plays out, it will take someone like DeBartolo to make things work in L.A. He's charismatic and emotionally invested, the type of personality needed to sell football in what has been a lukewarm market in the past. And given the resistance of Southern California politicians to financing stadium projects, it will take deep pockets. The cost of the team and a new venue or a refurbished Coliseum could be $1.5 billion.

DeBartolo believes that he and Policy could find the partners to pull it off. Jones, one of 15 owners who participated in a May 17 conference call that detailed L.A. stadium proposals, thinks DeBartolo and L.A. would be a perfect fit. "To me, L.A. is about the ownership," Jones said. "Money alone won't get it done. It's going to take some serious talent and passion, and boy, when it comes to passion, inevitably you think about someone like Eddie."

Unconfirmed Rumor: Raiders CEO Amy Trask Leaving Oakland Raiders for NFL Front Office Job - Profootballtalk.com

I'm ready this correctly, but if Profootballtalk.com's little throw away line is correct, Raiders CEO Amy Trask may be leaving the organization for, as that publication put it, "A nice NFL front-office job." Read this:

EDDIE LOOKING TO GET BACK IN?

Nancy Gay of the San Francisco Chronicle, citing among other things a forthcoming story from Michael Silver of Sports Illustrated, reports that former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo is contemplating the possibility of seizing control of an NFL team and moving it to Los Angeles.

DeBartolo told Silver in March that the Raiders are a potential target, given an ongoing problem with attendance and owner Al Davis' "declining" health. (By the way, we've heard all sorts of rumors and speculation about the health condition of the guy who calls the shots in Oakland, but we've refrained from commenting on the subject out of respect for Davis. . . . And because we don't want to get sued.)

Teaming with former 49ers president Carmen Policy, DeBartolo also has eyeballed the Saints.

Raiders president Amy Trask told Gay in response to the SI story: "This is not a story about the Oakland Raiders being sold. This is not a story about the team relocating. This is a story about two gentlemen, Eddie DeBartolo and Carmen Policy, who clearly are drinking too much of Carmen's recently bottled wine.''

Zing!

"The only look those two are going to get at this team is if they want to watch it on television,'' Trask added.

Double zing! (Hey, this girl could write copy for us if that whole "high-paying NFL front-office job" thing doesn't work out.)

Five years ago, there were rumors that DeBartolo was interested in joining with Outback Steakhouse owners Chris Sullivan and Bob Basham to buy the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from Malcolm Glazer. Though DeBartolo denied any interest in buying the team in a story published on January 24, 2001, he indicated otherwise in an item dated January 27.

"Malcolm Glazer and his family are very astute business people," DeBartolo said, "and all they had to say was that team wasn't for sale. And they did. But if something were to happen, and the Holy Ghost came down and Malcolm said, 'I'd like to sell the team,' would I be interested? Maybe."

But even if DeBartolo could find a team willing to let him buy it, the other members of the Billionaire Boys Club would have to approve the transaction.

We'd be willing to bet the riverboat casino that they won't.

DeBartolo pleaded guilty in 1998 to federal felony charges resulting from his failure to report an alleged extortion attempt by former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards, in which DeBartolo supposedly handed $400,000 in cash to Edwards in order to help DeBartolo win a riverboat casino license. In 1997, DeBartolo ceded control of the 49ers to his sister, Denise DeBartolo York, after DeBartolo was advised of his impending indictment.

And when DeBartolo signed away his interest in the 49ers to York in March 2000, Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross of the Chronicle wrote that the move occurred after "NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue made it increasingly clear that -- despite DeBartolo's willingness to turn state's evidence against Edwards down in Louisiana -- the league would never let him back into football."

So there's no way, as a practical matter, that DeBartolo would ever get control of an NFL team. There are simply too many other folks out there with the money and the interest.

And without the rap sheet

Rumor: Eddie De Bartolo To Buy Raiders? - Mike Silver Drops An Interesting Bomb - SF Chronicle

This rumor's gone round and round today, and it's denied by the Raiders' CEO Amy Trask. That former San Francisco 49ers Owner Eddie Debartolo and team president Carmen Policy may be in line to purchase the Oakland Raiders and move them to LA. Well, here's the Chronicle's take first...

Rumors haunt Raiders

Nancy Gay - SF Chronicle
Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Not a week goes by without whispers of one of the ailing NFL franchises in California pulling up roots to head for the fertile ground of the Los Angeles market. So this latest load of fertilizer spreading around NFL circles is no different.

As NFL owners concluded a two-day meeting in Denver on Tuesday to discuss filling the vacant and valuable L.A. market, the Raiders again are rumored as a candidate to become one of the two teams the league would like to place in Southern California.

Ideally, the NFL wants a gleaming expansion team in place first, either downtown in an extensively refurbished Los Angeles Coliseum or in a new stadium in Anaheim.

Then, as the long-standing rumor goes, a distressed franchise -- the Saints, the Chargers, the 49ers or the Raiders, all of whom play in archaic stadiums -- would be trucked to Los Angeles.

Now, a new twist on the L.A. Story: This fantasy tale involves former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo and team president Carmen Policy taking over the NFL team in Oakland and reclaiming the title "Los Angeles Raiders'' somewhere down south.

Sports Illustrated is publishing a story today in which DeBartolo intimates to senior writer Michael Silver -- who was an invitee to a lavish three-day Super Bowl reunion Eddie D. threw in Las Vegas in March -- that the Raiders' lack of attendance and the "declining" health of Raiders owner Al Davis makes the franchise vulnerable for a takeover.

According to the SI article, DeBartolo, 59, already has taken a crack at buying the Tampa Bay Bucs from Malcolm Glazer and was rebuffed. Glazer is recovering from two recent strokes.

The reunited DeBartolo-Policy team, the article says, also has explored moving in on the Saints, who play in a hurricane-ravaged city that's struggling to provide residents with clean drinking water, much less luxury boxes.

Now the duo is homing in on Davis. The DeBartolo-Policy interest, Sports Illustrated writes, "is piqued by whispers that Davis, 76, is ill. He has been using a walker because of a leg ailment and did not show up at February's scouting combine or a recent minicamp."

"For Al Davis to miss the combine, that's unusual,'' DeBartolo said in the story.

Granted, DeBartolo has rebuilt his billion-dollar fortune in real-estate development. But this SI article makes him and Policy look like two vultures, swooping in on distressed NFL properties and so-called ailing owners.

Sports Illustrated, in all fairness, did contact Raiders CEO Amy Trask for comment. Unfortunately, Trask says, the magazine omitted much of what she had to say in response.

But not this.

"This is not a story about the Oakland Raiders being sold. This is not a story about the team relocating,'' Trask said Tuesday as she left Denver. "This is a story about two gentlemen, Eddie DeBartolo and Carmen Policy, who clearly are drinking too much of Carmen's recently bottled wine.''

Policy's 10-acre vineyard in Napa County and his longtime dream of being a vintner might be bearing fruit.

Trask -- who speaks publicly only with Davis' specific blessing -- says Eddie and Carmen's dream of owning the Raiders is pure fantasy.

"The only look those two are going to get at this team is if they want to watch it on television,'' said Trask, adding emphatically that the Raiders are not for sale.

Now or, apparently, upon Davis' death.

"Al Davis currently has, and will continue to have, total control of the Raiders,'' she said, emphasizing the words "total control."

"And that will continue in perpetuity.''

Meaning, Davis has a succession plan firmly in place.

Trask was not specific, but it's believed in team circles that Davis would bequeath his stake in the Raiders either to his wife, Carol, or his son, Mark, who is becoming a daily fixture at the team's Alameda facility.

And what of the rumors about Davis' health?

The man does appear frail. When he was first spotted using a walker at training camp last summer, it prompted speculation that Davis is battling a debilitating illness such as Parkinson's.

True, he did not attend the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, which set tongues wagging farther. He also did not attend the team's minicamp the week after the NFL Draft.

"The rumors about his health are false. Al is as healthy and as vital as ever,'' Trask said. "First of all, he had no reason to attend the combine when we had people in place there and he could watch the workouts on the NFL Network.

"Second, he has not gone to the May minicamp for the last five or six years, at least. So why is that an issue all of a sudden?''

And those rumors of the Raiders conducting secret visits to vacant land in Sacramento, scouting potential stadium sites? More hooey, Trask said.

The Raiders' secretive nature, the type of public-relations camouflage that could make Opus Dei look like it's open for membership, makes them a bull's-eye for gossip.

But if DeBartolo is openly speculating about an owner's health in a national magazine as a means of getting a foothold back into the NFL, then the league strongly should consider whether it wants that type of person in its fold.

Again.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

With Larry Allen and Jonas Jennings, San Francisco 49ers O-Line Taking On An New Shape

My question is will the 49ers new scheme give Alex Smith a timed window to throw in, or will it cause him to throw without crisp, set footwork and receiver timing. In Oakland, Norv Turner didn't install the kind of precise option-route offense one would like to see in today's game. Was that him, or Al Davis? I'm less concerned with the size of the line than with the team's offensive design. We shall see.

From:

http://www.realfootball365.com/nfl/articles/2006/05/49ers-offensive-line230506.html

"In 2005, Mike Nolan tried to establish the San Francisco 49ers as a power running team. He lured massive tackle Jonas Jennings from Buffalo with a lucrative free agent contract and drafted two punishing offensive linemen in the first three rounds (David Baas-2nd, Adam Snyder-3rd).

However, Nolan's plan went off the rails early in the season when Jennings suffered a season-ending labrum injury and Jeremy Newberry's battered knees kept him out of most games and every practice. Reluctant to throw his freshly drafted rookies into the fire so soon, Nolan brought in veteran tackle Anthony Clement on the left side with disastrous results. Only when Snyder moved into the left tackle spot and Newberry withdrew himself from the rotation did the Niners have consistent success in the running game.

This year will be a different story. The left side is pretty much locked down with the return of Jennings and the addition of Larry Allen but competitions remain open at the other three spots.

At C, Newberry may never be healthy enough to practice again and Nolan has already stated that if he cannot practice, he will not play. That leaves the starting job to Eric Heitmann, who finished the season there last year and has been handling the duties this offseason.

At RG, Justin Smiley is the incumbent, but Baas will challenge hard for that spot in training camp. While Smiley is more of an athletic, technical guard, Baas is a punishing, powerful mauler who may be a better fit for the nasty attitude Nolan is trying to instill in the trenches.

And at RT, Adam Snyder is poised to unseat former first-rounder Kwame Harris. During his three seasons in the league, Harris has not distinguished himself, performing adequately in the running game but missing tons of assignments in pass protection.

However it plays out, the position battles in this year's camp will give the San Francisco 49ers a lot more depth along the line this season should the injury bug strike again."

Oakland Raiders Load Up On Free Agent Wide Receivers - 365Football.com

According to this great and funny article by Anthony Carroll, the Raiders have a large group of free agent wideouts in camp, all signed on May 5th.

"This offseason, Oakland has been busy stockpiling their frequent flyer miles, transporting every undrafted wide receiver under the sun from their couch to California.

Trip one: John Madsen - Utah

Standing 6-5, 220-pounds, it's not jaw dropping to see Madsen in a silver and black practice outfit. In 2005, he suffered a season-ending injury to his fibula with three games remaining in his collegiate career. As a result, the Utah Ute missed the NFL combine, further narrowing his chances to make his way into the NFL. Despite missing the final three games of his senior season, Madsen still hauled in 55 passes for 672 yards and six touchdowns. After receiving a call from the Raiders' front office, Madsen mentioned Warren Sapp and Randy Moss, saying, "I've idolized them since high school." It's now four years later, and the door has been cracked open to extend that admiration into affiliation.

Trip two: Rick Gatewood - Montana State

Gatewood, a Montana State graduate, was another one of the four undrafted wideouts signed by Oakland on May 5th. The 22-year-old Bobcat stands 5-11, 192 pounds in frame--relatively small for a Raiders' pass catcher. However, in 2004 and 2005, Gatewood posted surprisingly big numbers. As a junior and senior, he caught 131 balls for 1,759 yards and 13 touchdowns. Unlike Madsen, Gatewood participated in the March combine festivities, posting 40 times of 4.57 seconds and 4.55 seconds, while registering a 37 1/2-inch vertical jump.

Trip three: Will Buchanan - Southern California

Buchanan may have squeezed his 6-3, 185-pound frame into a sedan to make his short trip to Oakland. At USC, Buchanan took advantage of his distinguished last name, playing mostly as a defensive back, along with wide receiver. Overshadowed by star wide receivers Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith, Buchanan wasn't even momentarily glanced over by the USC coaching staff. At wide receiver, he caught no balls in 2005 and just four in 2004. Overall, the signing of the wideout-converted-cornerback is a bit questionable; but, then again, so was drafting a quarterback named Ronald Curry.

Trip four: Jayson Boyd - Texas at El Paso

For now, Jason Boyd will reunite with UTEP teammate Thomas Howard in Oakland. Measuring 6-4, 220-pounds, Boyd is an athletic prospect with deep-ball potential. At the pre-draft combine, Boyd ran the 40-yard-dash in 4.59 seconds and registered a 35 1/2-inch vertical jump. In 2002, he played as a member of Oregon State, catching just 10 passes for 169 yards and a single touchdown. Thereafter, he transferred to UTEP in 2004, catching an impressive 42 balls for 560 yards and five touchdowns. In his final season, Boyd was sidelined with groin and foot injuries for half of the 2005 season; he finished the year with just 12 receptions for 222 yards.

Trip five: Burl Toler - California

The 23-year-old Golden Bear last played in 2004, when he caught just eight balls for 78 yards. However, in 2003, the 6-2, 190-pounder filled in nicely for the team's 2002 leading ball-catcher, grabbing 48 passes for 609 yards and three touchdowns. Reflecting back upon his walk-on performance at California, Toller commented, "My dad said I should never give up; good things can still happen. Making the team was a testament to what my dad had been telling me." Obviously, that advice has stuck with him years later; he is now battling his way towards an NFL career.

Along with seventh-round draft choice, Kevin McMahan, Oakland's receiving corps includes Randy Moss, Jerry Porter, Doug Gabriel, Ronald Curry, Alvis Whitted, Johnnie Morant, and Carlos Francis.

Rest assured, a handful of the above names won't make it into Week One of the regular season.

But, then again, a bit of friendly competition amongst colleagues never hurts.

In fact, it only helps."

Anthony Carroll can be contacted at acarroll@realfootball365.com

Reggie McKenzie - Packers Director Of Personnel Being Interviewed For Texans GM Job - Houston Chronicle

The unwritten story here is that both McKenzie and Rick Smith of the Denver Broncos are black, which is a sign that we're entering an era where African American front office execs are being considered for higher positions because they're well-acquainted with the head coach. In this case, both McKenzie and Smith played with and worked with new Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak

GM candidate McKenzie familiar to Texans brass
Personnel man, Sherman teamed with the Packers

By MEGAN MANFULL
Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006 - Houston Chronicle

When Reggie McKenzie arrives in Houston for his interview, the introductions won't take long.

The longtime director of pro personnel for the Green Bay Packers is scheduled to visit the Texans to discuss the general manager vacancy on Wednesday. Before he arrives, coach Gary Kubiak hopes to sit down with Mike Sherman, now the Texans' assistant head coach/offense, to get a report on the latest candidate.


Kubiak is familiar with McKenzie, but it goes back to their days as players in the NFL. Sherman worked closely with McKenzie, 43, just last season when Sherman was the Packers' head coach.

"They did such a great job in Green Bay, and (McKenzie) was such a big part of that," Kubiak said. "We know each other, and I respect him very, very much and the job he's done. Mike's the one that knows him very well on the business standpoints, so I'll catch up on that."

Sherman said he hasn't spoken to McKenzie since the interview was scheduled but wasn't surprised the Texans are pursuing McKenzie for the job.

"Here or somewhere else, yes, I think he's at a point in his career where that is certainly his next step," Sherman said.


Rising fast

McKenzie joined the Packers after a seven-year career as a linebacker with the Los Angeles Raiders (1985-88), Arizona Cardinals (89-90) and San Francisco 49ers (1992). McKenzie and Kubiak first met as players when Kubiak was the backup quarterback for the Denver Broncos from 1983 to 1991.
While Kubiak went into coaching after his playing career ended, McKenzie headed almost immediately to the front office. He was named the Packers' pro personnel assistant in 1994 and was promoted to director of pro personnel just three years later.

In 2000, Sherman was named the Packers' head coach and started working closely with McKenzie.

"I relied on him an awful lot," said Sherman, who spent six years as the Packers' head coach and three as their general manager. "He was a guy who always had a good pulse on our team, as well as other teams in the league.

"He's a diligent worker. You could ask him about any player in the league, and he'd know the player inside and out because he was constantly looking at tape. I don't think I've ever walked in his office and he didn't have tape on watching teams around the league and studying players. That's obviously what his job is, but to do it as often as he did was a credit to his work ethic."

Sherman and McKenzie had a tremendous amount of success in Green Bay, compiling winning records in five seasons. The Packers won the NFC North division titles in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

"I think he's an excellent evaluator of players," Sherman said. "Not just on the talent side, but on the character side as well. He's just a good judge of people and of football players."

Texans owner Bob McNair traveled Monday to the owners' meetings in Denver and will return to his office Wednesday. The Texans are still lining up other candidates in the search for Charley Casserly's replacement.

Rick Smith still in running

The top two candidates are McKenzie and Rick Smith, the Denver Broncos' assistant general manager, who interviewed for the job last week. McNair has made it clear that the person hired must be able to work well with Kubiak, a criteria Sherman said he can clearly understand.
"It seems like that's a focus of this to make sure we have everybody on the same page, seeking the same things," Sherman said. "I think that's a big part of the process, having somebody you can communicate with on a daily basis as a head coach that knows what you want in your defense and your offense."

megan.manfull@chron.com

2006 NFL Draft Recap Part Two - Bill Chackles

The 2006 Draft Recap Part II-Prospecting for Draft Gold

So just who are these players who get picked on the second day of the draft each
year? Are they the guys who were the stars of their class in high school, and went to college on that big fat scholarship, but sometime during their 4 years (or 5 or 6) they fell back to the rest of the pack and became "ordinary" or "average." Or possibly they had a "sub-standard" season as a sophomore or junior, and didn't improve enough the following year to erase memories of the past. So many of them go from "can't miss 1st round selections to "lucky to be drafted at all." Some however are rare but raw unpolished bodies of work that could become the backbone of a championship contender.

Some players who might have that type of impact are: Georgia's Max Jean-Gilles, an OG selected by the Eagles with the 99th Pick (#2 in round 4) and Jason Avant, the WR from Michigan selected by the Eagles 10 picks later. Both these players will bolster the Birds passing offense. The Niners selection of the versatile Michael Robinson (WR/KR/RB/QB) will also help San Francisco's crumbling offense.

The Jets and Giants both had two choices in round 4. Gang Green selected Brad Smith, a QB/WR from Missouri, and RB Leon Washington from Florida State. The Giants selected Barry Cofield, a DT from Northwestern, and Guy Wimper, an OT from East Carolina. Both teams appear to be drafting from the need for depth at those positions, but all four are capable of stepping in as starters should the need arise. The Dolphins chose OT Joe Toledo from the University of Washington. Many scouts had Toledo ranked in the top 10 tackles in this class, and his value had only risen in the days before the draft.

Round 5 saw two players who could become the steals of the entire draft, let along the second day. Dallas selected Florida State FS Pat Watkins, who is both fast and strong enough to contribute in several special teams roles. Cincinnati selected Florida State OLB A.J. Nicholson. A.J. had some problems of a personal nature, but if that is truly behind him, he could be the best LB in this class. Seattle chose USC's David Kirtman, the FB who cleared the way for Reggie Bush and LenDale White. Kirtman was also a long snapper in high school. Also in the round, the Eagles went for WR/KR Jeremy Bloom from Colorado. Bloom is noted for his Olympic Skiing career, but he claims he is now committed to football.

Round 6 & 7 saw lots of players go who were considered higher selections just days before. Some will develop into solid players, and some will contribute briefly before becoming afterthoughts of this class. The cowboys selection of DT Montavious Stanley of Louisville (#182 in rd 6) bears special mention, as he has a boatload of talent, but must live up to his upside potential. The Bengals took QB/WR Reggie McNeal from Texas A&M, who could develop into a solid receiver if he learns to focus on the ball. The also selected WR Bennie Brazell, the LSU wide out. The Bears selected Penn State's Tyler Reed, who had a good career at OG for Penn State. Atlanta took local product DJ Shockley, the QB from Georgia. Many had him as the 4th best QB in the draft after Jay Cutler, but fall to round 7 he did. What all these second day players have in common is that some scouts and personnel directors saw enough Film on them to moe then just take a chance, or else they'd have been signed as free agents instead of being drafted.

USC Throws Monkey Wrench Into NFL / LA Coliseum Planning Process - LA Times


In perfect California fashion, there's always some person or organization that feels slighted or left out and in an effort to remind everyone of its importance, runs to the press, rather than express its concerns and work toward a resolution behind the scenes. In this case, it's USC.

Part of the blame for this rests with the LA Coliseum execs, who may have forgot about their National Championship-winning tenant while basking in the glow of a possible NFL franchise deal. If so, they do owe USC an public appology for an enormous blunder.

Meanwhile, will the Raiders return to LA? More here.


Letter Expresses USC's Concerns With NFL Deal
By Alan Abrahamson, LA Times Staff Writer
May 23, 2006

DENVER -- Even as NFL owners convened Monday to mull a return to the greater Los Angeles area, at the Coliseum or in Anaheim, USC President Steven B. Sample raised concerns that the university could be left "totally vulnerable" should the league return to the Coliseum without a deal also being reached for USC to keep playing there.

In a letter dated last Friday that apparently was not delivered until Monday to the Coliseum Commission, Sample asks for "assurances" that the commission "will not sign any lease deal with the NFL unless a sublease deal has also been reached between USC and the NFL that is acceptable to USC."

Failure to do so, he says, could "forever" force USC out of the Coliseum, "with our athletic program reduced to shambles."

Sample, out of the country Monday, could not be reached for comment. Stanley P. Gold, chairman of the USC board of trustees, also could not be reached for comment.

The letter comes as an unexpected development in the long-running saga involving the league's potential return to the nation's No. 2 television market after a 12-year absence, painting a doomsday scenario for USC without offering evidence or rationale for such concerns but nonetheless injecting a further complication into what has long been an enormously complex matter.

The letter surfaced as an 11-owner NFL committee, dubbed the "L.A. working group" and meeting at a downtown Denver hotel, reviewed the variety of extensive construction projects now ongoing in and around downtown Los Angeles. A similar review of Anaheim developments is on tap in the near future, league officials said.

"From our perspective," said Pat Lynch, general manager of the Coliseum, referring to the NFL and USC, "we've always put them in direct contact with each other.

"The NFL is negotiating directly with USC. We talk to both sides continuously and have been assured negotiations are progressing satisfactorily. Frankly, we were surprised at the letter."

A full complement of NFL owners is due today to consider a proposal that would authorize Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to direct the spending of $5 million to $10 million for extensive design and architectural studies at the Coliseum, in Anaheim — or both.

An NFL delegation, perhaps including Tagliabue, is due to visit Southern California, tentatively June 14 and 15, to gauge business support for an NFL return. The area has been without an NFL team since after the 1994 season, when the Rams moved to St. Louis and the Raiders moved back to Oakland.

The working Coliseum plan is for the NFL and the Coliseum Commission to enter into a lease — the commission as landlord, the NFL as tenant for a 25-year lease extendable to 55 years. USC would be a sub-tenant.

USC and the NFL have been involved in "on-again, off-again discussions" for two years without reaching an agreement, Sample says in the letter.

He acknowledges that the university has not been given a copy of "the draft Coliseum lease agreement" but nonetheless says USC believes "the NFL's latest draft of the lease" says only that the league and the university "will work together to attempt to develop a mutually satisfactory arrangement."

He also says it is his belief that the draft lease suggests the NFL and USC would have two years to work out deal points; if they could not do so in that time, USC "could be forced out of the Coliseum forever."

Sample says, "We need the commissioners to confirm in writing the promise that there will be a single signing day for the NFL lease and the USC sublease."

He also asks that renovation not force USC out of the Coliseum for more than two seasons and that seating for USC games not fall below 80,000.

The remodeled Coliseum project, approved last Friday by the Los Angeles city council, would see the 92,000-seat bowl reworked around the famed peristyle end into a 68,000-seat stadium, expandable to 80,000 for Super Bowls and USC games.

Monday, May 22, 2006

LSU / Colts RB Joseph Addai Making Progress In Mini-Camp - Vets Say All He Has to Do Is Listen

Addai Must Watch, Study and Learn, Veterans Say
INDIANAPOLIS – The first days have made an impression on Joseph Addai.
Asked this week to describe his first NFL mini-camp, the Colts’ rookie running back said there were three things that stood out.

1) The NFL is faster, he said.

2) Coaches expect more from you than in college.

3) You can’t make the same mistake twice.

Beyond that, the player the Colts made the No. 30 overall selection in last month’s 2006 NFL Draft said he hasn’t changed his approach much in the last two weeks.

That means he’s still not trying to replace Edgerrin James.

“I don’t look at it like I have to stretch myself,” Addai said during the Colts’ 2006 mini-camp, which concluded Sunday at the Union Federal Football Center. “I’m going to go out there and just do what I have to do.”

That’s good news to the rest of the Colts’ offense, members of which said this week it was far too early to comment extensively on what Addai’s potential impact on the unit this season.

What they did say this week was Addai – who played collegiately at Louisiana State University – appears to have the ability to be the Colts’ feature back sometime in the future. And mostly they said this:

His approach is just right.

He doesn’t need to replace James, the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, immediately, and he doesn’t need to worry about earning a starting position.

He needs to study. He needs to learn.

And mostly, he needs to get ready.

“The best thing for him to do is get a feel for how things are going and try to take as many notes as possible, so that at least mentally he can try to stay on top of what he can,” said Colts two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tarik Glenn.

Addai, who rushed for 2,576 yards and 18 touchdowns at LSU, is expected to be part of a running-back-by-committee system next season with veterans Dominic Rhodes and James Mungro. Rhodes, Dungy said, is expected to open training camp as the starter.

Addai said this week he doesn’t view Rhodes, who rushed for 1,104 yards as a rookie in 2001, as competition.

“I don’t look at it like that,” Addai said Friday. “Earlier today he was helping me on some stuff. Everybody wants to be that person (the starter), but at the same time, we’re just helping the whole team out.”

Glenn, like several other Colts’ linemen, said the Colts’ offense is so complex it is unfair to expect a rookie to grasp it immediately. Addai, Glenn said, was drafted for a reason, something he said the rookie will have to remember in the coming months.

“The bottom line is coming into this offense, you’ve got a lot to retain,” said Glenn, a 10-year veteran who played in the last two Pro Bowls. “The best thing you can do is, on the plays you do know what to do, do them to the best of your ability. Be yourself. Don’t try to live up to anyone. Don’t try to live up to Edge. Just be Joseph. Come in and contribute.

“He has to trust that (Colts Head Coach) Tony (Dungy) and Mr. (Colts President Bill) Polian brought him in there because they felt he will eventually be our feature back.

“If he takes that approach, he’ll be a good player.”

When Glenn spoke of Addai this week, he spoke with a calmness shared by many on the Colts’ offense in recent weeks. Although James – who signed as a free agent after last season with the Arizona Cardinals – made four Pro Bowls in his seven seasons with the team, and although he was respected by teammates, Colts offensive players said this week there’s little reason his absence should mean a drop-off in the offense.

That, tight end Dallas Clark said, stems from a confidence not only in Addai, Rhodes and Mungro, but in the entire offense.

“The mentality we have had from Day One is we can’t just say, ‘Well, we lost him, so we’re done,’’’ Clark said of James. “Everybody’s mature enough to realize that things are going to be a little different, but to throw in the towel or say we’re not going to be as good I think is unfair to the other 10 guys.

“Edge was a great back and he’s going to do great down in Arizona, but we’re going to move on and change what we have to do to replace him. The other running backs are super excited, and they’re going to do a great job when they get the chance.”

What separated James from NFL backs, Colts linemen said this week, was his consistency. While James rarely broke long runs, he also rarely was tackled for losses.

James, in seven seasons with the Colts, averaged 1,318 yards a season – including the 2001 season when he missed 10 games with a knee injury and the following season, when James rushed for 989 yards while recovering from the injury. He averaged 96 yards rushing a game, and last season, he rushed for at least 89 yards in each of the first 13 games.

“Edgerrin was a consistent player and we knew what we were going to get every time we gave him the ball,” Colts right tackle Diem said. “He was going to run hard, and give us consistency.”

For Addai, Diem said, “Learning what we do will be a big factor. If he can learn to hit the holes in the right spot and be consistent about that, not try to change things up and do things his way, I think we’ll be very successful.”

Diem said he’s confident that will happen, not only because he believes Rhodes and Addai are capable, but because he believes the offensive line capable of making them productive.

“All the guys we have are hard runners,” Diem said. “We’re confident in ourselves that we will get the job done and make holes for them.

“They’ll make us look good and we’ll make them look good. It works both ways.”

Glenn said although James was key to the offense, he’s far from the first key player the Colts have lost in recent seasons. Tight end Marcus Pollard left after the 2004 season, as did guard Rick DeMulling. On defense, the Colts have lost linebackers Mike Peterson, Marcus Robinson and David Thornton as free agents in recent seasons.

“We’ve experienced that in a lot of different areas,” Glenn said. “Even though Edge was a focal point of our offense, we have to learn we’re playing within a salary cap and trust Mr. Polian and Coach Dungy are going to bring in the personnel to help us win and help us be successful.

“We’re all confident of that and we know Joseph and Dominic are going to be able to continue and do the job well enough where it gives our offense a chance to win games.”

For Rhodes, that process began five years ago, and next season, he will get his first chance since 2001 to play in a backfield that didn’t include James. For Addai, the process began this weekend, and his teammates said although it’s far too early to judge how he will play next season, the early signs that his approach is right.

And for now, considering his circumstances, they said that’s all you can ask.

“He has to show eagerness to learn and you just have to really be patient,” Clark said. “It’s a tough offense, and a tough position to learn, especially when Edgerrin played before you and kind of set the bar pretty darn high. He just has to understand he’s not going to learn it overnight. If he makes a mistake, he just has to try to not make the same mistake twice. He has to realize he can’t get in the dumps, he can’t get upset with himself, or mad or discouraged.

“He just has to stay positive, remember it next time and not make the same mistakes. So long as he does those things, he’ll be alright.”

As The City of Oakland Sleeps, LA Plans To Alter The LA Coliseum For The NFL

While the City of Oakland -- once again in 27 years - faces a stadium crisis, the LA City Council acts to gain an NFL team.

L.A. approves improvements to lure NFL team

NFL.com wire reports

LOS ANGELES (May 19, 2006) -- The Los Angeles City Council voted to spend $25 million on improvements around the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in hopes of luring an NFL team back to the city.

Under the plan, the city Community Redevelopment Agency would issue $25 million in bonds for street widening, site clearing and other work near the Coliseum, which would be paid for by expected tax revenue from the stadium.

In coming years, the city estimates it could spend up to $121 million more for additional transit and other improvements, which would also be funded by stadium taxes.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has said public funds will not be used for a proposed $800 million renovation at the Coliseum. The city-funded improvements approved by the Council amount to incentives to make the city's NFL pitch more attractive.

"The dollars will be limited to improvements around the stadium, not the actual construction," said Villaraigosa spokesman Joe Ramallo.

City officials hope NFL owners, who meet in Denver next week, will bring a team to the Coliseum by the 2009 season.

Under the city plan, the Coliseum would be extensively renovated with money from the NFL.

The Coliseum is used by the University of Southern California football team. It hasn't hosted a professional team since the Raiders left after the 1994 season.

QB Trent Dilfer Comes Home To San Francisco - Oakland Tribune

49ers fan as youth, Dilfer is in heaven
By Roger Phillips, STAFF WRITER - OAKLAND TRIBUNE

SANTA CLARA -- The timing could not have been better for Trent Dilfer.
Thursday night, the veteran quarterback and Aptos native was acquired by the San Francisco 49ers in a trade with the Cleveland Browns. Friday afternoon, the 34-year-old Dilfer watched his new team's first minicamp practice.

And Tuesday, he will host a golf tournament there to benefit the TD4HIM Foundation, which was set up following the death from a heart ailment in 2003 of his 5-year-old son, Trevin.

Back in his home base as a member of the team he followed when growing up, Dilfer was clearly elated.

"I always dreamed of being a 49er," Dilfer said. "This is a dream come true for me as a Bay Area guy."

The trade, for quarterback Ken Dorsey and a seventh-round draft choice, is contingent on Dilfer passing a physical. Dilfer is coming off a patellar-tendon injury last season that required surgery, and the 49ers are hoping he will be ready for action well before training camp begins in late July.

"I'm really starting to get healthy," said Dilfer, who hopes to participate in organized team activities at the end of the month. "In the last three weeks, I've made great strides."

Dilfer was acquired to give the 49ers an experienced backup for Alex Smith, and at least as importantly to serve as a mentor for the young quarterback.

"He's a guy I look to kind of pick up a lot of things from," Smith said.

Dilfer said he understands his role.

"The approach I take is whether I'm the starter or backup is to do whatever it takes to help the team win football games," Dilfer said. "I'll perform to the best of my ability, work my tail off and by doing that, I'll be a mentor to Alex Smith as a quarterback."

Coach Mike Nolan and personnel chief Scot McCloughan both said they are counting on Dilfer to be more than merely a tutor. "I'd like to think if something happens to Alex that he can perform, and perform at a high level," Nolan said.

McCloughan, who got to know Dilfer when both were in Seattle, added, "He's been through a lot, he's been through big-time success and big-time failure. You can't teach that. ... It gives another sounding board for people to talk to."

During his Seahawks days, part of Dilfer's role was as a mentor to Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. He said he is looking forward to working with Smith.

"He's such a great kid, smart, a guy that's going to be able to digest information you give him and learn quickly from his mistakes and a guy that has some natural leadership skills," Dilfer said.

Dilfer is also glad on a personal level to be back home. The upcoming fundraiser will enable Aptos High to install artificial grass at its stadium, which will be renamed in honor of Trevin.

If things work out as he hopes, Dilfer's stay with the 49ers will be an extended one, "a nice ending to a satisfying career."
OUT OF ACTION: Several veterans are still recovering from injuries they suffered last season.

Running backs Frank Gore (both shoulders) and Kevan Barlow (knee), and left tackle Jonas Jennings participated in individual drills but not team activities. Nolan is hoping they will be available for organized team activities.

Safety Tony Parrish (broken leg), however, could be ready for OTA, though possibly will have to wait until the start of training camp to get back on the field. Receiver Derrick Hamilton, nearly a year removed from his injury, is still "a little while" from being ready, Nolan said.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Jacksonville / UCLA RB Maurice Drew Named In Civil Lawsuit; Released On $30,000 Bail - Florida Times Union

Wow, what a way to blow a signing bonus, or at least part of it. Or, this could hurt the size of whatever signing bonus Drew might get. This story reveals that Drew may have been hanging out with the wrong person. I mean, who gets into stupid scrapes like this?

Civil suit filed against Drew

Jaguars rookie surrenders on an assault charge, is released on $30,000 bail.

By BART HUBBUCH, The Times-Union

Jaguars rookie Maurice Drew is included in a civil lawsuit stemming from an April incident that resulted in him being charged with felony assault Thursday.

Drew, a running back and return specialist from UCLA drafted in the second round last month, surrendered Friday morning in Los Angeles and was released on $30,000 bail. He's scheduled to be arraigned June 16.

Drew is charged along with Chicago Bears cornerback Ricky Manning Jr. and former college teammate Tyler Ebell for allegedly beating Sabzi Soroush, 25, at a Los Angeles-area restaurant on April 23, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Drew, Manning and Ebell each were charged with one count of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury, a felony. Drew, who admits he was at the scene but denies any involvement in the incident, faces probation or 2 to 4 years in state prison if convicted.

Soroush, a UCLA student, also responded to the incident by suing Drew and the two other players in Los Angeles this week.

The civil suit, filed Tuesday, doesn't state the amount that Soroush is seeking because California law prohibits it, but his Los Angeles-based attorney said Friday that his client is pursuing punitive damages, and "they will be huge."

"This is truly reprehensible conduct, and it needs to be punished," attorney Aviv L. Tuchman said. "We're very confident in our case against Drew."

Drew's agent and attorney, Adisa Bakari, said Friday that he hadn't seen the lawsuit but considers it without merit. Bakari said he most likely would file a countersuit accusing Soroush of a frivolous claim.

"I'll say it again: Maurice Drew was not involved," Bakari said. "He was not out with [Manning], didn't witness the incident and went home once he saw the verbal altercation begin. The kid isn't stupid. This happened one week before the [NFL Draft], and Maurice knew to avoid nonsense like that. This will all come out in the wash."

A Jaguars spokesman declined comment, and vice president of personnel James Harris didn't return a telephone call Friday.

Tuchman said his client was eating at a Denny's restaurant near the UCLA campus when Manning began taunting him "for being a geek'' because Soroush was using a laptop computer.

When Soroush complained to a manager, Tuchman alleges that his client was cornered in a restaurant bathroom, then forced outside and beaten unconscious in the parking lot.

Manning was arrested immediately, but Tuchman included Drew in the lawsuit after interviewing witnesses. Tuchman said three witnesses signed statements that identified Drew as punching Soroush in the face and stomping him in the head.

Soroush is seeing a neurologist and might require knee and shoulder surgery because of the beating, Tuchman said.

Although Drew turned himself in this week, the Los Angeles district attorney's office confirmed Friday that it mistakenly said in a news release Thursday that the Jaguars rookie was arrested and released on bail the morning of the incident.

District attorney's office spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said the release, which received widespread national publicity, was incorrectly written by a junior staff member.

"It was our mistake, and it will be corrected," Gibbons said. "Drew was never arrested, but there was a warrant out for him."

Friday, May 19, 2006

Commissioner Tagliabue Gives One Hell Of A Speech To Georgetown Graduates



I don't write this to be self-serving. It's a great speech. Great in that it's right for it's time and given by a person who's travels around the World and influnce not just on sports but modern industrial society give him the perfect platform of experience to give a message to young people just graduating from college. Commissioner Tagliabue wastes no time or energy in delivering the message of how important it is for all of us to understand and embrace diversity, adversity, and change. I hope it's a speech that will be replicated around the Internet.

Remarks by Paul Tagliabue
Commissioner, National Football League
at
Georgetown University
Senior Class Convocation
May 18, 2006

Thank you, and congratulations, everyone!

President DeGioia, distinguished members of the faculty and administration, parents and friends, and graduates.
It's always a joy to come back to Georgetown. I arrived here in 1958 on a basketball scholarship, back when Georgetown basketball was not exactly played at today's talent levels.

It's been more than four decades, and I guess some of you are thinking that I haven't traveled very far since I left here in 1962 -- all the way from the basketball court to the football field!

Actually, it's been quite an adventure -- and it's far from over.

My four years on this campus began a process of personal transformation that has never stopped.

I was the first in my family to go away to college. It was heady stuff to do so on a Jesuit campus, with gothic architecture and in the nation's capital.

Coming here, I was very excited about both my academic prospects and my basketball prospects.

I quickly learned that life inevitably requires making choices and setting priorities.

Over the objection of the admissions staff and everyone else who could read a high school transcript, I had insisted that I wanted to major in math. So I was admitted to Georgetown as a math major -- no doubt partly because I was a hot basketball recruit.

My first math mid-term exams were a disaster. That was a shock to me. The admissions staff had been right. By my second semester, I was headed to linguistics, philosophy or political science.

It was a real learning experience: expect adversity in life and always be prepared to recommit your talents to create new opportunities.

By my junior year, my love for basketball was losing out to my love for the library. I was more interested in debating communism and democracy with the political science faculty than in shooting baskets. Many of my professors had emigrated here from behind the Iron Curtain, and they had so much to teach me.

In my senior year, my most memorable basketball game was in Madison Square Garden. It's memorable because I missed it to participate as a finalist in the Rhodes Scholarship competition.

I didn't win the Rhodes, but I did land a full academic scholarship in a special inter-disciplinary program at NYU Law School.
See what I mean when I say that my four years here began to transform my life?

So here we are. You're graduating and I'm retiring! And we're all wondering what's next!

That's an exciting place to be in life. Especially when you're moving into the next stage of your life, armed with the fine education we have all received at Georgetown.

As you know, I've been very fortunate to have had several careers for about four decades -- as lawyer and chief executive -- in the remarkable business of football.

These decades have seen dramatic changes in professional sports. An explosion of leagues and teams in many different sports. Professional leagues for outstanding female athletes. The globalization of athletic competition.

But as dramatic as the changes have been, the pace of change and diversity is accelerating around the world. In America, it's being driven by sweeping demographic change and technological innovations, including the internet and digital revolutions.
This is really the crux of my message: this diversity and accelerating change in professional sports is only a microcosm of the world that you are entering.

In the years ahead, how you and your generation deal with change, and the pace of change — how you deal with diversity and human differences around the globe — these will profoundly shape your life, and the life of our nation and the world in this new century.

As the world shrinks, you will come face to face with competing cultures, faiths, traditions, economies and political systems. Your challenge will be to create the future with hope and vision -- with willingness to embrace difference and innovation -- not to retreat in fear or with a reactionary clinging to the status quo.

You have been grounded by this University in the intellectual and spiritual traditions of the Western Enlightenment and Christian, Islamic and Jewish beliefs and values. I hope you have also encountered the great traditions of the East in your work here.

At their best, our Western traditions teach us two fundamental habits of the heart:
First, to seek our common humanity and the values we share with those who differ from us, while staying fully connected to our own roots in family, friends, faith and community.

Second, to expect difference and change, and to welcome them with openness, founded on ever-deepening knowledge of ourselves and others.

To follow this path, it's essential that we continue the life of the mind throughout our lives.

Georgetown is where you and I seriously began developing this life.

Don't ever let it stop growing. Whatever field you're in, whatever endeavor you undertake, you will need it.

Today, you have only begun to know and understand the complex philosophical, cultural, economic, political, and religious forces that have shaped your life and the world up to this point.

For the rest of your life, you'll have many opportunities to deepen your knowledge of your own heritage and values, often by engaging with people who are different from you. Use those opportunities. Never stop being curious about the world.

Pursue multiple and varied careers -- in government, in not-for-profits, in law or academia, in business. And you'll be amazed how your varied careers will serve as a seamless learning journey.

That has been my experience.

At Georgetown, I learned a lot about the human condition and world affairs from books and professors. That changed when I left here.

In the spring of 1962, I graduated from this place.

My parents' way of saying thanks to me for a job well done was to send me on a trip. So that August, I went to Europe. I was in Germany for the first anniversary of the creation of the Berlin Wall. That was a stake in the heart of Germany designed to secure the Soviets' division of Germany and Europe.

As I look back, my visit at the Wall was the start of a series of memorable encounters with history in the making.

One year after my visit in Berlin, President Kennedy -- who had inspired all of us at Georgetown during his 1960 campaign -- spoke in Berlin about what that wall meant -- and how despicable it was for citizens in East Europe's Communist countries to be denied their freedom.

He spoke of the universal quest for freedom:

"You live in a defended island of freedom,
but your life is part of the main.
So let me ask you... to lift your eyes beyond the dangers of today,
to the hopes of tomorrow, ...
to the advance of freedom everywhere,
beyond the wall to the day of peace and justice,
beyond yourselves and ourselves
to all mankind."

Addressing the world beyond Berlin, President Kennedy responded to post-war change -- not with fear, but with openness and dedication to the values of free societies.

Fast forward to 1989.

In November of 1989, I became the Commissioner of the National Football League. In that same week, the Berlin Wall came down and the people of Germany intensified their quest for freedom.

To celebrate the Wall's demise we considered playing an NFL game in Berlin's Olympic Stadium in the summer of 1990.
Here I was, in another phase of my life, again encountering Berlin.

But wait. How could the NFL play in a stadium built by Hitler for the 1936 Olympics?

How could we have two NFL teams play in the venue where Hitler celebrated the supposed superiority of the Aryan people?
We couldn't -- not without fully understanding the history and weighing the competing values.

In fact, in Berlin's Olympic Stadium in 1936, the great African-American sprinter Jesse Owens demonstrated that Hitler's theories of racism and ethnic superiority were bunk. So we played the game to celebrate Jesse Owens' victory for human rights and our common humanity.

Fast forward to 2006.

We now have an NFL league in Europe with five teams in Germany. As a result, I was recently honored to be part of a small, private meeting with the new Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel.

That meeting completed my circle of experiences with freedom in Central Europe, dating back to my first visit to the Berlin Wall 44 years ago, less than three months after my graduation from Georgetown.

Chancellor Merkel grew up in the former East Germany, as a Protestant and a physicist. Having lived in a totalitarian state, she knows the meaning of freedom in a way most of us will never experience. The collapse of the Berlin Wall allowed her to rise to a position of leadership in a free democratic society.

As I listened to Chancellor Merkel, I realized that we were in the presence of a leader with courage of conviction like President Kennedy. Despite their markedly different backgrounds, Chancellor Merkel -- like Kennedy -- is passionate about freedom and responding to new conditions with confidence, openness, and a deep understanding of both Western and other values.

Many of you will now pursue personal journeys of your own. As you do, I hope that your generation in America and elsewhere in Europe will learn to understand each other. Will you get to know each other? Or will you let differences over economic policies, the war in Iraq or human rights change and harden what we and the people of other nations think of each other?

Be curious and probing. Find out for yourselves whether Western Europe is now an "old Europe" with whom we have little in common, or an experienced Europe from whom we can learn a lot. Engage with your peers in European countries -- both West and East -- where our traditions are rooted.

And keep an eye on Angela Merkel and other emerging leaders who can be common heroes for your generation of Americans and Europeans. In my generation, we shared President Kennedy and West Berlin's Mayor Willy Brandt. In your generation, will you share Chancellor Merkel, Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel and others who have pursued freedom and our common values.

There's another aspect to this business of looking outward, being open to differences and unafraid of change. It has to do with the great societies and religions of the Middle East and Asia, the emerging economic and political powerhouses of China and India, and the pace of global change.

As a business leader, it had become clear to me even before the horrors of 9/11, that those of us in the West needed to deepen our understanding of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Taoism and the values we all share, whatever our faith or culture.

In my day, the emphasis at Georgetown was on Western faiths, culture and history, largely Christianity, Islam and Judaism. I am grateful for having been grounded in that tradition.

Because of that gratitude, my relationship with Georgetown didn't end with graduation. This school will always be part of your life. Stay connected to it. America needs universities like this one. You can help Georgetown evolve as the world evolves.
Georgetown's leaders recognize that the College I knew in the '60s would no longer meet the needs of today's world. Scholarship today must bridge East and West.

That's the belief that motivated my wife Chan and me to endow a Professorship in Interfaith and Intercultural Studies a few years ago. And we are thrilled to see the University's leaders run with this idea by developing an entire curriculum across the spectrum of the University.

It's great to see new programs like the "Building Bridges" Conference organized with the Archbishop of Canterbury… like scholarly panels on "Religion and Politics" ... and assessments of Islam in western democracies.

After traveling in Japan and China recently, I'm more certain than ever that we Americans need to engage in more interfaith, intercultural study and dialogue.

Your generation -- and mine -- needs to immerse itself in Asia. That's one reason Chan and I will be traveling to Bhutan and India this fall -- and why we are looking hard at living in China sometime in the near future, maybe associated with a university or other organization.

You know, many of us tend to think we're so different from the Chinese. And we certainly are in many respects. But in some very fundamental ways, we may soon be finding more similarities than differences. What are they, how do we identify them, and will our similarities develop into common interests?

Last spring, Chan and I traveled in China with an NFL group, including an Eagles all-pro player, Chad Lewis. Chad has lived in Asia and is fluent in Mandarin, so he helped explain American football to the school administrators, mayors and others we met in Shanghai and Beijing. We had a great experience, speaking at middle schools, parents' meetings and universities.

When I spoke about football, the Chinese were not shy about telling me that they thought our game represents the worst of American values: violence and unfettered competition at the expense of others. Their values, they told me, are all about collective interests, teamwork, support for comrades and non-violence.

"On the contrary," I explained. "Football isn't about violence. It's about dealing with adversity. It is a metaphor for life's challenges. It's all about commitment, work ethic, common goals pursued both individually and through teamwork."

They were fascinated. As we talked more, we both discovered that in sports, we have more in common with each other than either of us realized.

Along with their touted non-violent sport, table tennis, the Chinese thrive on Tai Kwan Do. They're as passionate about it as we are about football. And guess what. It's all about learning to deal with adversity -- pushing athletes in structured, physical competition to their physical and psychological limits.

You should see the equipment! Helmets, chest pads and arm braces that look like something the Green Bay Packers would wear. Taken straight from NFL locker rooms!

My point is, hidden beneath the differences of culture and decades of little dialogue or contact, we share the most basic interests and human impulses, including the impulse to test our limits and those of our colleagues in competitive sports.
That's not to say that our societies and nations don't have deep and abiding differences. We certainly do.

During our visit, we also met with many media and business leaders as well as government officials, including China's Foreign Minister, Li Zhaoxing. In earlier careers, he was a literature professor, Shakespeare scholar, and poet who has held senior positions at the Chinese embassy here in Washington.

In his office, Minister Li opened our eyes to aspects of China that resonated close to home. He gave us gifts, several books, one on Pandas for my grandchildren, and a volume of his own poetry. In leafing through this volume, we found one intriguing poem composed by Minister Li that had been inspired by his conversations with close American friends at the Sam Clemens Museum in Hartford, Connecticut. The poem recalls the Minister's experiences as a boy with his grandmother on her farm in China and relates them to the experiences of "the honest and lovable little boy Huckleberry Finn..."

Ping pong. Tai Kwan Do. Capitalism parading as socialism. A burgeoning middle class in coastal provinces. Poverty and unrest in rural areas. A cultured and sensitive Shakespeare scholar and diplomat who reads Mark Twain and knows Huck Finn. I ask you which is the real China?

I guess they could ask the same question about us. Red states, blue states. Christians, Jews, Muslims. Liberals, conservatives. Blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians, immigrants from all over the world. Gays, straights. Which is the real America?

The real America and the real China are ever-changing at some levels and ever-constant at other levels. And how our society connects with theirs -- or doesn't -- will shape the century to come.

How we deal with the vast array of human differences in our own country and around the world — how we face the inevitable changes of a shrinking globe — will test our strength and challenge our capacity to work for the common good.

Will we seek connection based on our common humanity, or will we turn our backs on the core teaching of all the great faiths -- that the world's people are one?

Georgetown has provided you with a firm foundation of knowledge and skill with which to delve into questions such as these. Use it. Develop it.

Georgetown will continue to provide leadership and resources to enable Americans and others from around the globe to provide well-grounded and balanced perspectives on questions such as these.

Support Georgetown when it does so and participate in these efforts.

I've talked a lot today about freedom, and I should conclude now by letting you all go free to enjoy the rest of this very special weekend.

But first a concluding thought.

Martin Luther King -- one of my generation's most inspiring leaders -- was jailed in Birmingham, Alabama, in the spring of 1963 for his leadership in pursuing justice and equal rights for African-Americans. In a letter from this Birmingham jail, King emphasized the universality of the quest for freedom and justice. He wrote:

"I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states… Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

In the 21st century, this "interrelatedness" is far deeper, swifter and broader, so you too are tied together in a single garment of destiny -- with billions of others.

You are going forth now into a world of unimaginable openness and change and diversity. Hold tightly to a never-ending quest for knowledge, understanding and tolerance -- across continents, cultures, faiths and other differences -- and it will serve you well.

That should be your game plan, as we say in football. Now it's up to each of us to participate fully, to lead and to ensure continued human progress in the new 21st century global environment.

Today, more than ever, the world needs your gifts, your values, your integrity, and your willingness to explore.
The world needs your confident conviction when certainty is called for, and it needs your confident skepticism when new insights are called for.

You have my best wishes and sincere congratulations.

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue Press Conference - Minnesota House-Senate Stadium Conference Committee



From NFLMedia.com

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue Press Conference

Minnesota House-Senate Stadium Conference Committee

Minneapolis, MN -- May 16, 2006

Q: Will there ever be a time where the league will say for the greater good you need to move to Los Angeles or somewhere or is it always up to the individual owner to decide to move?

A: It's a joint decision under our policy. A team has to meet certain criteria before it can move, so it's not the individual owner's decision. But I don't think that's the challenge here; the challenge here is to get something done in Minnesota and not have to worry about other alternatives.

Q: Has Mr. Wilf asked you to step up and approve a loan before the legislature acts here?

A: Generally we don't do that; generally under the guidelines we have for our loan program to support stadium construction, the economic work that has to go into that depends on an understanding of the total project costs and the total project economics, not just for the first year or the first five years but for a 15 or 20-year period. So it's difficult, if not impossible, to do anything in the abstract. You have to do it on the basis of a concrete project.

Q: What's the reaction to the Fran Foley situation?

A: I really don't know anything about it other than the fact that an issue exists. I really don't know anything about it.

Q: Do you have an opinion on the stadium being built without a retractable roof?

A: As I said to the committee, that's really a decision for the state and local authorities, the team owner and Anoka County in this instance. We don't have a point of view, as I mentioned. In the Vikings' own division we have two teams, the Bears and the Packers, that play in open-air stadiums and we have another team, the Lions, with a fixed-dome, so how that's approached is really up to the team, Anoka County and the legislature.

Q: Are you, the other owners and the league resentful that this market can't get this accomplished when so many other markets have?

A: I'm never resentful or not resentful. I approach these things with a realistic understanding that they're complicated and that many different points of view have to be brought into sync and a consensus has to be developed. As Senator Kelly said, it's a difficult slice of economic and legislative issues.

Q: Are you fairly confident a new stadium would get a Super Bowl for Minnesota?

A: Yes, as I said, under our current policy, we've been rotating the Super Bowl around much more than we did in the '70s and the '80s, and the biggest reason for that rotation has been to hold the Super Bowl in communities, in new stadiums, where there has been a partnership between the team and the public sector to build a stadium because the Super Bowl accomplishes two things. Number one, there is a significant economic benefit from having a game in a community such as this, and number two, it marks that facility as a world-class facility for similar events. It gets attention and hopefully will cause an ongoing stream of other national sporting events or activities in the building.

Q: What is the earliest date a Super Bowl could be in Minnesota?

A: Depends on when you build the building.

Q: How many years out are you committed? 1, 2

A: I think we're committed on Super Bowls through 2010. We're beginning to talk about 2011, '12 and '13 in the next six to 12 months. A number of cities, including Dallas and Indianapolis, which are both building new stadiums, have already expressed strong interest, and we've already indicated there could be one in Kansas City depending on how Arrowhead Stadium develops.

Q: Has there ever been a commitment for a Super Bowl to get a new stadium over the top?

A: I'd have to go back and do my research.

Q: Is it just here and San Diego that are the holdout markets for stadiums?

A: No, we don't have (new) stadiums in San Diego, Oakland, San Francisco, Minnesota and some other places.

Q: Is there any urgency to get this done this year?

A: Yes, as I said, there's no guarantee that the current stability of the National Football League will continue. Right now there are a number of things that have come together -- our TV contracts, our collective bargaining agreement, our stadium construction subsidy program, the commitment from the Wilf family to invest $280 million in the stadium and the commitment from the Wilf family together with Anoka County to have a major economic development project that goes way beyond the Minnesota Vikings and the National Football League. All those things are in place, and we're in an environment where those may not be guaranteed going forward. And as I said, construction costs are escalating dramatically now in a way we haven't seen, and that has to do with demand for materials all over the world, not just the United States. There's a lot that is certain and positive that could be uncertain and less positive in the future.

Ricky Manning And Maurice Drew Reportedly Beat Up Man Because He Was Using Laptop While Eating

Man. And I think of the number of times -- including yesterday -- that I used my laptop at a restaurant while eating. Well, ok, they were Internet cafes, but so what. I listened to this report on JT The Brick's show and could not believe it. Especially since I believed UCLA running back Maurice Drew would have been a good pick for the Indy Colts.

Show's you what I know, huh?


CB Manning, RB Drew charged with assault

NFL.com wire reports
LOS ANGELES (May 18, 2006) -- Chicago Bears cornerback Ricky Manning Jr. and two former UCLA football players were charged with assault for allegedly taking part in an early morning fight at a restaurant last month.

Manning was charged with one count of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury, Deputy District Attorney Karen Murcia said.

His arraignment was scheduled for May 18. Manning has previously declined comment.

Manning, a former UCLA star, was arrested April 23, along with former Bruins Tyler Ebell and Maurice Drew, after they allegedly attacked a man at a restaurant near the UCLA campus in Westwood.

Police said the players then drove off in Manning's SUV but were pulled over by officers soon after when the vehicle was spotted by a helicopter crew.

Ebell, 22, and Drew were expected to surrender and be arraigned at a later date, Murcia said.

Drew, 21, was taken by Jacksonville in the second round of the NFL draft. The running back attended mini-camp in Florida last month.

Manning, 25, signed with the Bears last month after the Carolina Panthers declined to match Chicago's offer sheet. He is on probation for an assault in April 2002. If convicted, he faces up to four years in state prison.

Super Bowl XL - Video Shows Just How Many Steeler Fans Were There

Wow. The person who took this video somehow got their camcorder inside Ford Field. I had to leave mine in my car. However they did it, the camera person captured just how overwhelmingly large the number of Steeler fans was.

And they all were not from Pittsburgh. They were from New York state, California, Canada, everywhere. The Pittsburgh Steelers are as much "America's Team" as the Dallas Cowboys.

Take a look:

Thursday, May 18, 2006

NFL Should Pressure Federal Government On New Orleans Reconstruction Process

After almost one year, New Orleans is still a shaddow of it's former self. Many are still without jobs, housing , and heath care and many businesses that once thrived are either non-existent or struggling.

It's in this environment that the NFL's New Orleans Saints attempt to regrow their franchise. For all practical purposes, the Saints are an expansion team that's relocated to a city. Why do I say this? Because New Orleans itself has been altered by this disaster. Thus, the population of businesses once available to buy luxury boxes and sponsorships is no longer there.

All of this can be solved by the focused involvement of the Federal Government. But once can say that the Bush Administration has all but forgotten New Orleans. The region is not the focus of the President's televised actvities. This is important because where the President is seen, is where we as a people are conditioned to believe our resources are needed.

Rebuilding New Orleans successfully would be a sign of American resolve and know-how. Re-creating the city would restore a vital part of the soul of America. Having a place the Saints can not just survice in, but thrive in would be a wonderful development that would secure of the future of the NFL in that city.

The NFL should apply pressure to cause the Bush Administration to restore it's focus to New Orleans. Indeed, the NFL's probably the best organization to do this. It can via its United Way Commericials and special annoucements. The NFL, more than any other organization, can really change how the government treats New Orleans.

I hope the league takes its rightful leadership role.

Profootballtalk.com "REGGIE (BUSH) REALLY IS A SELFISH ASSHOLE" - My Take On This

Profootballtalk.com is not shy aout firing insults here and there. Florio's latest target is none other than the Saint's star running back Reggie Bush. I hate to say this, but as much as I don't like how he put it, Florio may have a point.

Here's what he wrote:


REGGIE REALLY IS A SELFISH ASSHOLE

With apologies to everyone out there who has lined up to nuzzle the crotch of the 2005 Heisman* winner, we've decided after careful consideration that, in our opinion, Reggie Bush is a selfish asshole.

And our decision in this regard was not influenced significantly by the storm of controversy regarding whether and to what extent Bush and his family got paid while Bush was still playing for USC. We believe that this sort of stuff happens, in varying degrees, at most major college football programs, and that if the Bushes are guilty of anything it's of being careless to the point of stoopid.

No, we reached our final opinion regarding Reggie only recently, when we were reminded by a reader that the number he so desperately wants to wear at the pro level, No. 5, is already spoken for on the team that drafted him.

Quarterback Adrian McPherson, drafted by the Saints in 2005 because (as we hear it) he reminded the organization of Vince Young, currently is assigned No. 5. But there has been not a peep from the Bush camp reflecting a scintilla of respect for the fact that someone else holds the rights to the number that Reggie wants.

Hell, there's likewise been no comment from Team Bush regarding the fact that his fallback choice -- No. 25 -- is the property of Fred McAfee.

So if wearing No. 5 or (if that fails) No. 25 is such a big deal for Bush, why doesn't Bush think it might be a big deal for the guys who already wear those numbers?

Folks, whether you like or dislike Reggie Bush, his current mentality falls within the four corners of the textbook definition of selfish.

Per Webster.com, "selfish" means "seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others."

Without regard for others.

So it's a no-brainer. By showing zero regard for the fact that McPherson owns No. 5 and McAfee owns No. 25, Bush is selfish.

Of course, Bush's handlers are smart enough to know that Reggie must pander to the Katrina victims by promising to donate 25 percent of the earnings from the sale of his jersey to ongoing relief efforts. Whoop-de-doo. It's an obvious P.R. move aimed at selling even more jerseys and, in the end, pocketing more money than if he'd kept 100 percent of the proceeds without making the commitment.

The other problem here is that the Saints are aiding and abetting Bush's selfish assholishness. They allowed him to wear No. 5 at the team's recent minicamp, even though the number has been issued to McPherson.

And as to McPherson, we're making an open offer to negotiate on his behalf -- at no charge -- the transaction with Bush for the rights to No. 5, assuming that the NFL changes its rules regarding jersey numbering. If, after all, Bush and his people are pushing the issue in order to enhance Reggie's earning potential, McPherson could end up holding an asset worth much more than a bowl of soup at Mendy's. It's a seven-figure proposition, and hopefully McPherson realizes it.

So how much should McPherson request for No. 5? Just enough to get Bush to accuse him of being selfish.

Now, I remember that as Bush was walking to the podium for his interview after being selected Number Two Pick in The First Round by the Saints, he actually gave a massively dirty look as I pointed my camcorder to record his arrival. It was weird to me in that regardless of his position, he was selected as one of the top players in the USA and will be paid handsomely for it. Why frown? Why be nasty? It seeemed that he was totally upset that he wasn't picked number one.

I hope Reggie isn't given a nasty wake up call that causes him to appreciate what God gives to him. He's in New Orleans for a reason. It's not by accident. He's got to understand what it means to think about other people before himself. Let the lesson begin.

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