Zennie62 on YouTube

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Raiders Bond With Fishing and BBQ - Adam Scheafter of The NFL Network



NFL Network's Adam Scheafter reports that Raiders Head Coach Art Shell organized a team fishing trip. 25 Raiders players attended the outing, which was followed by a team-sponsore BBQ. A great way to bond that could produce a Super Bowl Champion.

Cardinals Running Back JJ Arrington Reportedly Concerned About Matt Leinart's "Head" - Video Of Matt and Paris Gives Good Reason



I have it directly from a source I can't name that Cardinals Running Back J.J. Arrington expressed concern about the "head" of new and former USC Quarterback Matt Leinart. Arrington, who played against Leinart when both were in the Pac-10 and at Cal and USC respectively, apparently knows what's said about him on the grapevine.



Arrington claims that Matt Leinart has a "hot dog" reputation because of the fact that he has friends like Paris Hilton and Nick Lachey. (Not to mention Leinart's photo with Paris in May and his party boy reputation ) I don't know how much of this is based just on Arrington's prejudice regarding Leinart -- or even jealously that Matt has as much fun as he does. Because my source reports that Arrington bragged about how many girls he himself has, his brand new Denali, his BMW 750i, and his house in Arizona (I think I left out a car or two).



Finally, Arrington did express concern that his playing time would be effected by the Cardinals "new running back" as he put it to my source. He didn't mention the name of the new player -- fomer Indy Colts Running Back Edgerrin James.

I remarked to my source that if Arrington played better, the Cardinals may not have paid to employ Edgerrin James.

Meanwhile, below you can see the video which contains not only the picture of Matt Leinart and Paris Hilton above, but also of them getting down -- dancing, that is -- in Vegas.

Here's the video:

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

On Astroturf v. Grass v. Field Turf v. Kentucky Blue Grass

GROUND RULES- Looking at the differences between playing football on natural and artificial surfaces.

The debate over the "ideal" playing surface has been going on for quite a few years now. When artificial playing surfaces began to appear in the late 1960’s Football purists began to wonder aloud if the game was changing for the worse. "The absolute worst thing that could ever happen to the game," said Former Alabama Coaching great Paul "Bear" Bryant. NFL owners, looking for a way to cut the cost of upkeep of their stadiums, had contracted Monsanto Corporation to develop
a type of artificial grass that they would call "Astroturf". It made its first professional football appearance at the Houston Astrodome, and soon began showing up in other buildings throughout the League.

Many players and coaches who were considered to be purists to the game did not care for the new surface. They preferred the cushion that a real grass surface gave them, over the artificial bounce of "The Rug" as it was being called. But looking at both sides of the coin, each surface has it’s good and bad points.

An Artificial surface, while being extremely strong and durable, and able to withstand great amounts of wear and tear over the course of several seasons, as well as hold incredible amounts of water with the proper drainage system, does have one major fault. Under its playing surface is cold hard cement. Once that surface begins to loose it’s cushion (or bounce), it can be very hard to fall down on it without sustaining serious injury. It can also freeze hard during the temperature drops that take place in the northern portions of the country.

A natural surface (like Kentucky Blue Grass) can be more forgiving to players to land hard on it. It is also less stressful on players recovering of lower limb stress injuries then artificial surfaces. However, even the best prescription playing surfaces can not handle constant flooding even with a good runoff drainage system, and can freeze almost as hard as a wet artificial surface can (like soldier field) in cold weather. Although many players will tell you they like grass better then turf, some of those same players have better performance numbers on turf then on grass.

Sports medicine specialists across the country note that more players get hurt on turf every year then on grass. I spoke with two prominent New York City Chiropractors who specialize in sports injuries. One is the official team chiropractor to a major catholic High School’s sports program, and the other treats several hundred people a week, and by his own admission fully one third of whom are sports related stress injuries. "I constantly tell young kids playing on these surfaces to be very careful, and do their best to try and play on a grass field instead. The pressure of resistance from your lower body pounding itself against a hard surface is causing long term damage to ligaments, tendons, and the joints themselves," said one.

Many players will try to get to a team with a natural surface once they have had a knee or ankle injury on turf. One NFL running back popped both knees on the grass at Soldier Field in 1998, and had to retire in 2000 because he was never able to cut the same way.

The NFL conducted it’s own study in 1997 and determined that there was no significant increase in injuries on turf. Even so, many teams are going back to natural grass surfaces, or at least experimenting with them. Recently the first NFL game on a grass surface was played in Giants stadium, a building that has had an artificial surface since it opened in 1976. Even player agents are beginning to get into the act, by trying to help their players get to teams with Grass surfaces if that is what they desire. More recently, a new surface has been invented and is being rolled out across the NFL and college Football. Called
"Field Turf" it's grass is made of plastic sewn together, with a sponge rubber base that absorbs water. Under the base is a composite of pebbles and sand mixed together to aid in fast drainage. "The wave of the future in stadium surfaces," says George Toma, the "God of Sod."

It seems that the debate will continue for a long time before we have a solid answer to the question of "What is a better playing surface?"

Monday, June 26, 2006

Titans QB Vince Young Ahead of Schedule With Norm Chow - www.tennessean.com



Vince Young seems determined to be a great QB; he's not mailing it in.

Vince Young passes inspection
As team's top draft pick learns system, playbook, Titans like what they see

By JIM WYATT
Staff Writer - www.tennessean.com

One of the initial conversations between Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow and rookie quarterback Vince Young after the NFL Draft had nothing to do with a playbook.

Chow wanted to clear the air about the decision that brought Young to the Titans. He didn't hide the fact that he was among those who preferred Matt Leinart, his former pupil at Southern Cal, to Young. Titans owner Bud Adams, of course, was among those who wanted Young.

"We both understood the situation. We talked about it,'' Chow said. "I wasn't sitting around here pining away for Matt, but if we had to choose he was the one because I knew him better. Vince understood that. It wasn't a big deal for either of us and we got started.''

Nearly two months later, Chow and the Titans know Young a whole lot better. And they like what they've seen of the former Texas star through May and June minicamps.

"The strides have been monumental,'' Chow said. "He is every bit the athlete you thought he was, but he has some good quarterback skills as well. The thing about Vince is he's not an athlete playing quarterback. He is a quarterback who is a good athlete. There is a big difference.''

Young, the third overall pick of the draft, has already pushed his way ahead of Matt Mauck, last season's No. 3 quarterback, but he's still well behind veteran Billy Volek and probably won't catch him before the start of the regular season.

Barring an injury or a free-agent acquisition, Volek is expected to start the season opener against the New York Jets at LP Field on Sept. 10. If Volek plays well and stays healthy, he could hold the job the entire season while Young gets a chance to mature.

Right now when the Titans speak of Young, they can speak only to what they've seen to this point.

"The first thing I told Vince when he got here is, 'The media is going to pump it up for you to be out there from the very beginning, but just stay patient. It took you 23 years to get here — you don't have to get on the field immediately,' '' tight end Ben Troupe said. "It is going to come when he's ready, and when he is ready I think it is going to be fireworks out there.
"So far we've seen just some of the things he's capable of doing, but we'll see more. I know he can make some throws that I don't think guys that have been in the league a while can make.''

Young attended rookie orientation in May and then began working with the veterans in minicamps later that month. This week veterans recalled a player who was unsure of himself in the huddle, a guy who sometimes used the wrong verbiage when calling the plays because of his nervousness. He even had trouble with the most basic things, like taking a snap.
But during the two weeks of June workouts, Young cut down on his mistakes. He looked more comfortable behind center and his footwork was improved. He said he knows his plays.

"He is throwing much better in the pocket,'' Coach Jeff Fisher said. "He is making instinctive throws down the field, back shoulder, away from the coverage and so on. We have seen steady improvement and we expect to continue to see that.''
Young, however, hasn't been perfect. On the final day of minicamp, he mishandled at least one snap and some footballs hit the ground in the shotgun, though coaches put most of the blame on the snapper. Young was intercepted near the goal line during a 2-minute drill.

Over the last month, Young didn't get a whole lot of reps with the starters. Those snaps went to Volek. When Young did work with the first unit, he made some good throws and some bad ones, along with some risky ones that coaches probably didn't want him to make. He also showed he was willing to run when the opportunity presented itself.

As for his willingness to learn, coaches said they couldn't be happier. They said Young has put in extra time on the field and in the classroom.

"If I wasn't coming in and doing the things behind the scenes, I wouldn't be as far along as I am," Young said. "But I am getting more comfortable every day, getting better and better. I know the plays so I can be more loose out there."
Indications are Young has been embraced by his new teammates.

"I wanted to come in here and earn the guys' respect and show those guys, just because I got picked third I don't think I'm over anyone," Young said. "I am the same guy and I am going to get in here and work and win ball games. I'm getting more used to things. I just want to keep it going.''

The Titans wrapped up their offseason workouts on Thursday and aren't scheduled to be back on the field until training camp begins in Clarksville on July 28.

Young is scheduled to attend the NFL Rookie Symposium in California, and he'll get away on his own for a while. Young said he'll also be studying his playbook, and he has plans to work out with veteran receiver David Givens while the two are in Houston next month.

When Young returns, the learning process will continue. Fisher said Young could play a half a game in the preseason, and even hinted that he might start a preseason game.

"But were are getting Billy ready to win games for us,'' Fisher said.

Eventually, Young's time will come.

"He has an opportunity to be something special, but really, you never know what will happen,'' veteran center Kevin Mawae said. "You've had guys come into this league that nobody gave a shot to and now they are Pro Bowlers and then you have guys who are supposed to be the next Joe Montana and they don't end up doing squat.

"It is just one of those things where you just have to play it out and see what happens. (Young) seems to have a pretty good work ethic and desire to want to be a better player. He is the kind of guy that could be a great player in this league if he can figure it out, which I think he will. But we'll have to see.''

Eagles Place All Tickets With RazorGator - Eagles Fans Upset ; Phillynews.com

Lower prices at Stubhub.com, just click on the title of this post.

Scalping in Birdland?
By DAVE DAVIES - Phillynews.com

daviesd@phillynews.com 215-854-2595
Redskins faced similar issue in '05


LINCOLN Financial Field's scalping policy, as stated on its Web site, prohibits "the resale of an event ticket at a price higher than face value, regardless of the price paid for the ticket and regardless where the resale occurs."

But when the Eagles' Web site - separate from the Linc's - announced June 14 that single-game tickets for next season had sold out within an hour, the story ended on this hopeful note: "Still looking for tickets? Go to RazorGator.com where fans can buy or sell tickets... "

Indeed, thousands of tickets are advertised there, but at prices that violate the 25 percent markup limit under Pennsylvania's anti-scalping law.

Cowboys-Eagles tickets, for example, average around $400 apiece on RazorGator, with some running as high as $900. The face value of the tickets runs from $65 to $80 for seats in the stands and as high as $350 for the enclosed Club seating area.

The lack of access to tickets except from scalpers has left more than a few Eagles fans mighty ticked off.

"When this happened, we got a flood of calls from people who said the ticket sales [from the Eagles Web site] were closed in a matter of seconds, literally seconds," said WIP-AM sports-talk host Angelo Cataldi.

"Now regular Joes can't go see a game unless they pay four or five times the value, and the team is actually suggesting that they go to scalpers," said Tony, a longtime Eagles fan who declined to give his last name to the Daily News.

He and others who vented their fury on talk shows and Internet sites wonder if the Eagles shoveled tickets this year to RazorGator in return for a piece of the scalpers' action.

The Eagles insist they did no such thing. "This is crazy," said Eagles president Joe Banner.

"The same number of single-game tickets were available this year as last year, and it's more than when we were at the Vet," Banner said. "What was different this year was that, in response to fan complaints, we made them available through the Internet as well as Ticketmaster, so they went that much more quickly."

While no evidence has emerged of an improper relationship between the Eagles and RazorGator, the quick sellout of tickets and the Birds' promotion of the site clearly have touched a nerve.

The controversy in part reflects fans' schizophrenic attitude toward ticket-scalping: We hate getting gouged for seats, but at times will pay a fortune to anybody willing to part with a ticket for the big game.

And while ticket resales at more than a 25 percent markup are illegal in Pennsylvania, they are widely practiced - and authorities say an out-of-state Web site like RazorGator is probably beyond the reach of state law.




Banner sees nothing mysterious or unusual in the Eagles' relationship with RazorGator, a national ticket-resale exchange based in Beverly Hills, Calif. It's simply an advertiser in the Eagles' stadium, in the team's publications and on its Web site, Banner said.

And while the Eagles give RazorGator and other business partners a small number of tickets for their own use, the Eagles don't give them tickets for resale and get nothing from RazorGator's marketing of tickets, Banner said.

"The cynicism and distrust in that question is offensive," Banner said, "and I wonder why it's not asked of anyone else."

Banner noted that several teams have marketing arrangements with sites like RazorGator and StubHub, and that expensive tickets for concerts and sporting events everywhere appear on Web sites for sale.

Still, the distrust persists. WIP host Glen Macnow said he got 25 to 30 calls on his Saturday show from fans who wonder how so many tickets ended up on RazorGator so quickly.

"What's difficult to believe is that hundreds and hundreds of Eagles fans independently would decide to sell their tickets for the Cowboys game, the biggest of the year, and by coincidence sell them through RazorGator," Macnow said.

But even if RazorGator is nothing more to the Eagles than an advertising partner, many see hypocrisy in the Eagles promoting the resale of its tickets.

"My biggest complaint about this is that they've gotten in bed with a scalper," Cataldi said.

Asked if promoting RazorGator is inconsistent with Lincoln Financial Field's anti-scalping policy, Banner said, "I think we're playing with semantics here. We accept advertising from a variety of places - including, in this case, a Web site."

The deals available on RazorGator and other Web sites would be illegal if the resales occurred in Pennsylvania, but a transaction through an out-of-state Web site is a murkier issue, according to Pennsylvania Deputy Attorney General Barry Creany.

Some fans regard scalping as a time-honored tradition and a useful service for those who want to splurge on a game now and then.

"OMG [Oh my God,] People! This is crazy. The Eagles are a hot team, who sells their tickets fast and markets their product well," wrote one fan on an Eagles Internet bulletin board. "If you did not get tickets (and I am one of you by the way) then that's that. Watch it on TV or buy them at inflated prices. Just stop the damn crying."

Other fans say that they aren't troubled by a season-ticket holder selling a game or two, but that too many season tickets go to people or brokers who aren't fans but predators, buying them just to make a killing.

Should the Eagles pick and choose to whom they sell? In an unusual step last year, the Washington Redskins revoked the season tickets of an undisclosed number of people who were auctioning them on the Internet.

Since the team knew who had which tickets and the seat numbers were on the Internet auctions, it wasn't particularly hard detective work.

"It was pretty obvious which blocks of tickets were up for sale again and again," said Redskins spokesman Carl Swanson.

Eagles fan Tony said if the same thing were done in Philadelphia, more tickets would become available for real fans.

"This is a crazy theory," Banner said of the idea that the team should crack down on scalpers. Discouraging the resale of tickets would actually make fewer tickets available to the public, he said.

Banner also wondered why fans (or reporters) are suddenly obsessed with scalping Eagles tickets when the practice is so widespread in other sports and entertainment events.

Indeed, scalping prosecutions are rare, and in 2001 the city of Pittsburgh decided to permit scalpers to hawk tickets around stadiums as long as they bought a $250 license and wore it around their necks.

The city later decided to limit scalping to a small area between Pittsburgh's football and baseball stadiums.

Creany, the deputy attorney general, said one of the few recent enforcement actions against a large scalping operation occurred in 2000, when the AG's office sued the Ohio-based ticket dealer Front Row for hawking tickets to shows by the Backstreet Boys and John Mellencamp at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center.

Creany said the action was prompted by complaints from operators of the center, and it was legally possible because Front Row advertised tickets in Pennsylvania newspapers.

Web sites outside the state are much harder to prosecute, Creany said.

Virginia LB Ahmad Brooks To Visit 49ers For Physical June 28th - Dolphins Interested Too



This is from the 49ers / Scout message board

"Scot McCloughan will be on hand when former Virginia linebacker Ahmad Brooks works out for scouts Thursday in Charlottesville, Va.

Brooks will then fly to the Bay Area on June 28 and have a physical with the 49ers the next day.

[Sacramento Bee]

Really hope we go after this guy. Will be the next Ray Lewis."

Here's the report on Miami's interest:

Dolphins GM meets with linebacker Ahmad Brooks

BY JASON COLE - MIAMI HERALD

jcole@MiamiHerald.com
The Dolphins have taken an interest in former University of Virginia linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who is considered by many the top player available in the NFL's supplemental draft on July 13.

Dolphins general manager Randy Mueller and director of college scouting Ron Labadie were among those who attended Brooks' workout Thursday.

Mueller and Labadie met with Brooks after the workout.

In addition, the Dolphins sent Brooks to Michigan last week to meet with Lon Rosen, a psychologist and longtime friend of Dolphins coach Nick Saban, agent Greg Williams said Friday.

Rosen does character research on players for Saban.

Williams also said he presented information to scouts, coaches and executives in attendance, showing that Brooks has passed drug tests taken on a regular basis over the past two months. Williams acknowledged that Brooks had ''issues'' with drug use during college.

Brooks was arrested in March 2003 on a marijuana possession charge.

According to two sources, Brooks failed multiple drug tests for marijuana use during college.

That led to the school's dismissal of him from the team this winter.

''Ahmad knows that he has to make good decisions in the future and change the people he hangs out with if he's going to take advantage of the athletic talent he has,'' Williams said. ``He's a good kid who wants to get this turned around and be an example to kids about how someone can change for the better.''

Brooks weighed 260 pounds, down approximately 30 pounds from two months ago. The weight issue is another question for NFL teams.

Brooks was considered one of the top high school players in Virginia history before going to college.

Some scouts have said he has the talent to be a first-round pick.

However, the off-field issues could drop Brooks into the fourth or fifth round of the supplemental draft.

San Francisco 49ers Family Day - Event Provides Fun With Niners Draft Picks


Watch the video
The San Francisco 49ers hold an event called "Family Day" annually to kick off the start of the NFL training camp period and the football season. Family Day's been held at a variety of venues, from Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco's Financial District, to Kezar Stadium, and now Monster Park, where the team plays.

I must admit I was skeptical that the stadium was the best place for it, but the Niners organization did a real good job of mixing activities with players and locker room tours. The event -- which went from 11 to 3 PM -- was a lot of fun. The weather was super, and there was a feeling of optimism in the air.

Many people believe the 49ers will be better this year, even if the team's won/loss record is just eight-and-eight. In this video, I get to interview KNBR and 49ers commentator Joe Starkey, who's best known for his dramatic call of "The Play" in 1982.

I also present NFL alums like Steve Kinney and Jeff Bayer, the Gold Rush Cheerleaders, and poke my camera in on various goings on, from 49ers First Round Draft Pick Vernon Davis' playing with a little girl running the 40-yard dash, to the sudden collapse of a very long fence as Manny Lawson, the Second Pick In The First Round's clowning with a young fan.

On the matter of how the event could be improved for next year, one way is to better use the jumbotron screen. At this year's family day there were videos posted from someone running around with a camera. Frankly, not many people paid attention to it. What's better is to have scenes from the 49ers great moments of the past: "The Catch," Steve Young's famous weaving touchdown run in against the Vikings 1988, and other plays.

Another improvement is to have each 49ers player wear polo shirt with their name and jersey number on their left chest. See, causal fans only know the players in uniform. At family day, as one person in the video remarked, many people don't know who the players are.

Another problem was that fans were not informed of the "bag rule" where bags, purses, and backpacks that were below a certain size were not allowed to be brought in. I personally saw one family fall victim to this information as we were standing in line to get in. The mother elected to stand in line, while the father and daughter ran back to the car. Not good.

But in general, the event was a success. I think Monster Park was a great place to have it.

This video was originally shared on blip.tv by zennie2005 with a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Getting Closer to Training Camps

It only took us 6 weeks to catch our Breath from the 2006 NFL draft and Guess what?
Here comes the Supplemental draft. July 13th will be the day where players who were ineligible for selection in the regular draft will have a chance to get on an NFL roster. This Draft is not open to un-allocated players from NFL Europe, or former CFL or Arena league players. Some names you might hear-or might not, in three weeks are:
Former U.S. Marine and University of Texas FB Ahmad Hall. Hall Played his HS Ball at Angelton Texas alongside of current S.D. Charger DB Quiten Jammer. Hall is a Combat Veteran of the war in Iraq, but managed to get back to school in time to help the Longhorns "Hook" themselvs a National title.
Another possible player candidate is former Iowa St. DE/LB Jason Berryman. The 6'-1"-235 pounder runs a 4.72 in the 40, 7.38 in the 3 cone drill, has a 32 inch vertical leap, and a 9'11" Broad jump. He also did 17 reps at 225 pounds. Those are his Pro day stats from earlier this month. Not only were several NFL teams' scouts present, but GB Packers Director of College scouting John Dorsey ran the Workout.

Other possible selections are. University of Virginia LB Ahmad Brooks, and Hutchinson C.C. of Kan LB David Dixon.

In some Front Office News- Many in the Press this past week are singing the praises of new Jets Head coach Eric Mangini as Possibly the best new coach in the NFL. I'm not sure how you can base that on two mini-camps, but lets not forget his supporting cast-a Scouting staff that remained unchanged from the prior regime, including former GM Terry Bradway back in the scouting dept. Many suspect that Bradway is only hanging on until the end of his contract or his next job offer, but a source close to Weeb Eubank Hall tells this reporter that While Bradway had little input if any in developing the jets draft board, he was key in generating the scouting reports.

Moving south to Carolina, The Panthers are looking for a new director of college scouting, but might not have to look far. They could tap one of their own in Jeff Morrow, their national scout. Morrow has been around the game of football for awhile, and would be a solid choice for the promotion.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS MOVE TRAINING CAMP TO MILLSAPS COLLEGE

Press release printed as presented on NFLMedia.com

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS MOVE TRAINING CAMP TO MILLSAPS COLLEGE

For Immediate Release: June 22, 2006

The New Orleans Saints announced at a morning press conference that they will hold their 2006 summer training camp on the campus of Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. The press conference was attended by Saints Owner Tom Benson,
Executive Vice-President/Owner Rita Benson LeBlanc, Executive Vice-President/General Manager Mickey Loomis, Millsaps
President Dr. Frances Lucas, along with Saints Running Backs Deuce McAllister and Fred McAfee. The Saints have held
training camp at the teams Metairie training facility for the last three years.

Jackson will be the sixth different site for training camp since Benson purchased the team in 1985. The team has held camp in Ruston, La. (1985), Hammond, La. (1986-87), La Crosse, Wis. (1988-99), Thibodaux, La. (2000-02) and Metairie, La. (2003-05).

The players will be allowed to report to campus on July 27th with practice beginning the next day. The team will remain in
Jackson until their preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 26 at 6 p.m.

Millsaps College is an NCAA Division III school with a student enrollment of 1,123 undergraduate. The scenic campus, located just north of downtown Jackson, will offer the team multiple natural grass fields for practice along with a Sprinturf field, similar to the field used in the Louisiana Superdome.

NFL Network Annouces Agreement With Cable Companies - NFLMedia.com

Press release presented as written by the NFL.

GAMES ON!
75 DISTRIBUTORS INK DEALS TO CARRY NFL NETWORK ON EXPANDED
BASIC RIGHTS INCLUDE AIRING OF NFL NET'S PRIMETIME GAMES

NFL Network announced today the completion of 75 affiliation agreements with cable companies to carry the 24-hour, year-round football channel from the National Football League -- including the rights to air its primetime regular season games this fall.

All of the deals are for the "expanded basic" level of service, meaning the most broadly distributed package the video provider offers. All distributors will also get to carry NFL Network's exclusive national slate of 52 preseason games as well as benefit from the ability to sell ads in programming targeted to America’s most
avid fans, NFL fans.

Cable operators are signing up at a torrid pace since NFL Network became the exclusive home to the new primetime regular season NFL games package and announced that Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth would be the Network's primary broadcast team.

NFL Network will televise 168 football games in 2006, including preseason, regular season, game re-airs, NFL Europe League, the Insight Bowl and Senior Bowl games, in addition to the most robust and popular sports Video-On-Demand content in the industry.

"We have had terrific partnerships with the distributors who have been carrying NFL Network the past two years," said Brian Decker, NFL Network's vice president, national accounts. "They recognize the value proposition NFL Network offers and the opportunities an association with the NFL presents, so these newcomers to NFL Network will begin to see immediate benefits to being part of our team."

These new and existing NFL Network distributors have received significant advertising inventory during each NFL Net game telecast. This telecast time represents some of the most valuable and sought after advertising opportunities in cable. NFL games accounted for 9 of the 10 most watched basic cable programs in 2005 and NFL football has been the No. 1 rated series on cable for 19 consecutive years -- since its inception in 1987.

With the creation of the new primetime Thursday/Saturday package of games -- the first new NFL game package in sixteen years -- the cable industry is in a position to reap substantial benefits.

NFL Network plans nearly 2,000 hours of original programming in the coming year, including 52 preseason games, 75 game re-airs, 8 primetime games, plus the expansion of programming including a half-dozen series in the fall.

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

NFL Network

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Niners Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner Answers My Question About Scheme



Several months ago I sent in a question to San Francisco 49ers' offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Well he answered it on the 49ers website. Here it is:

Q: To what degree has the college game caught up with the NFL in scheme design in the passing game, in your view? I have three playbooks: 1999 St. Louis Rams, 2005 Notre Dame, and 2004 Cal Bears. What is interesting to me is that I can find the same double screen in two books, and more plays that are similar, than not. Have we reached an era of "scheme sameness?" Does this make it easier for a rookie QB like Ben Roethlisberger or the Niners Alex Smith to be successful? Zennie Abraham

A: I don’t think you are ever going to get to that degree actually because in the NFL it is much more based on personnel matchups than in college. There are also limitations to what you can do in the NFL. You are not going to have your quarterback do the type of things you would in college, like running the football. I think probably the biggest difference would be the individual matchups you have to handle. For instance let’s say a great pass rusher against a tackle - that might limit what you can do from a scheme standpoint in the NFL.

I think people oversimplify the transition for quarterbacks because it isn’t scheme that makes it difficult for a young quarterback. The difference is the level of play. The rush is much faster, more severe and the hits are a lot tougher on a young quarterback. The coverage, particularly in man coverage, is much better and closer. The margin of error is less in the NFL and you don’t get away with sloppy plays or poorly thrown balls. For young quarterbacks, the precision is much greater for them than in college and some guys just handle the adjustment quicker than others.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Whats so Funny Plaxico?

So Mr. Burris, why do you insist that you don't need to be in the Giants off-season program? Don't You remember how "Invisible" you were in the Play-off loss to Carolina, or how you withered away in the month of December While Eli struggled?

When you came to NY last spring you assured us you would be worth your 26+ million dollars, that indeed you are a team player even if you march to a different drummer(in the army, people who march to different drummers either get kicked out, or put in special operations!). Does that march include only knowing how to leap up for a ball and one or two other moves during your pass routes? So that means when you aren't open this year you'll stop WHINING when Eli throws to Tiki out of the backfield, or Jeremy across the middle? Pray tell Plaxico, what will you say when your numbers slip??

Tony Softli New VP of St. Louis Rams - AP and Seattle PI

St. Louis Rams hired a new VP and eliminated the GM position.

ST. LOUIS -- The Rams have restructured their front office, eliminating the general manager position and hiring two vice presidents.

Tony Softli was selected vice president for player personnel, the Rams said Tuesday. Softli, formerly director of college scouting for the Panthers, will lead the player personnel department that will include longtime general manager Charley Armey, whose new title is vice president for pro personnel.

Softli, 46, began working in scouting when the Panthers entered the league in 1995 and took over as director of college scouting in 2000. He is credited with helping draft standouts Julius Peppers, Steve Smith and Kris Jenkins.

Softli has ties to new coach Scott Linehan.

The two worked together on the University of Washington coaching staff in 1994. Before that, Softli was a linebacker for the Huskies.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Santonio Holmes - Steelers WR Holmes faces domestic violence charge - ESPN and AP

I'm not sure this is the case of the Steelers not doing their homework. Or is it? They gave up a lot to get him. But .... He's a father as well. Did they ask if he was a good dad?

Steelers WR Holmes faces domestic violence charge
Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Santonio Holmes was charged early Monday with assaulting a woman, his second arrest since he was chosen in the first round of the NFL draft.

Holmes was arrested at an apartment just after midnight and taken to the Franklin County jail, Sgt. Loucious Hollis said. The 22-year-old player is to remain in jail until his arraignment Tuesday on charges of domestic violence and simple assault, both misdemeanors.

Police received a call from a female who said the father of her child had assaulted her, police spokesman Sgt. Michael Woods said. While the officers were making their report at the apartment, Holmes returned and was arrested. Police would not release the woman's name or details about what Holmes was accused of doing.

Before the April draft, Holmes said he hoped he would be a top pick so he could support his three children.

Holmes, who is from Belle Glade, Fla., was arrested in Miami Beach, Fla., on a charge of disorderly conduct during Memorial Day weekend. Steelers coach Bill Cowher criticized Holmes the following week, but said he wouldn't hold the matter against the former Ohio State receiver.

The Steelers did not return a message concerning this latest arrest.

Holmes led the Buckeyes in receiving last season with 53 catches for 977 yards and 11 touchdowns. He gave up his final season of eligibility to make himself available for the draft.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Why do Players think they are unbreakable?-an editorial

I think Big Ben is lucky to be alive right now. He and the Steelers front office staff should be thinking more about doing something about motor saftey then worrying about when he could take snaps fron under center during a workout!
last year's injury to Kellen Winslow jr. should have been a wake up call to Ben and every other player who owns a bike that nothing in life is risk free, and if you are going to ride a motorcycle, any motorcycle, you need to wear saftey gear,no matter what the state law says.

I never rode a "street" bike the size of the one Ben crashed. In my younger days, i owned and rode 2 different Bikes.
one was a "combo" that i mostly rode on the trails of the pocono mts. in Eastern PA. the other was a Honda 550 that i rode for two years when i just couldn't afford normal 4-wheeled transportation. My Brother-in-law rides some kind of monster bike(a Honda Nighthawk i think) back and forth to work each day while working for the government of the town he lives in.
In nearly 30 years of riding, he tells me he has never had an accident, and never has ridden without a helmet.

I quit riding myself 15 years ago when i got into a minor acident on the Taconic parkway in upstate NY with my Honda. I might have been riding slightly over the speed limit when i hit a depression in the road known as a POTHOLE, and went flying arms first onto the grass on the side of the road. It was an act of god that nothing was broken. That was my last ride on a Bike of any kind with a motor. But i digress.

My prayers are with Ben right now. Even though we know he will recover according to the most recent reports, Prayer still helps. But I also hope that Ben has realized what a foolish mistake he made riding without saftey gear. I hope he will use this pause in his life to address this, and use himself as an example of what not to do with a powerful vechile under you.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger May Be Ready For Season Opener After All -- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

God wasn't ready to take Ben Roethlisberger. He's really blessed. It wasn't his time at all.

Roethlisberger's injuries only on face, should be ready for opener

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The injuries to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger were confined to his face and the Steelers are confident he should heal and be ready to play in the season opener Sept. 7 against the Miami Dolphins, sources told the Post-Gazette today.

Roethlisberger has a broken jaw, a broken nose and some injuries to his teeth but otherwise came through his motorcycle accident on Monday with nothing else but some scrapes and bruises. Published reports that detailed injuries to his knees and shoulders are untrue, sources said.

One source said that the surgery on Roethlisberger's face took so long -- seven hours -- in order to assist in a faster recovery time. Roethlisberger also should be ready to participate in training camp, although he may not play in the first preseason game Aug. 12 in Arizona.

The quarterback had seven hours of surgery yesterday afternoon and evening to repair facial fractures caused when his motorcycle struck a car on Second Avenue at the 10th Street Bridge.

After the surgery, doctors said the facial fractures were successfully repaired but they would not elaborate. They did say that there appear to be no brain, spine, chest or abdomen injuries.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Steelers President Art Rooney’s Statement Regarding Ben Roethlisberger’s Motorcycle Accident - NFLMedia.com

This is from the Pittsburgh Steelers Press Release on NFLMedia.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2006
Steelers President Art Rooney’s Statement Regarding Ben Roethlisberger’s Motorcycle Accident

“On behalf of everyone within the Steelers organization, I want to express my concern for Ben Roethlisberger. I am sure
Ben knows that we are praying for his complete recovery. So far, we have been encouraged by the early reports from the
medical team at Mercy Hospital.

“Our public relations staff will pass along any additional updates as we receive them from the hospital.”

Steelers QB Ben Rothlisberger Rides Without A Helmet, Crashes - ESPN and Wire Reports

I heard about this Monday on KNBR, the San Francisco Bay Area Sports Radio Channel. Ben's lucky to be alive. I'm not a motorcycle rider and reports like this one are constant reminders why. But more to the point, Ben was careless: he drove without a helmet.

This certainly puts a crimp in the Steelers' pre-season plans and upsets the balance of power in the AFC Central Division. If Ben can't make a timely recovery, the Black and Gold will have lost another field leader alongside the retirement of Jerome Bettis.




Big Ben in serious condition after motorcycle accident
ESPN.com news services


PITTSBURGH -- Steelers star Ben Roethlisberger, the youngest quarterback to lead a team to the Super Bowl championship, broke his jaw and nose in a motorcycle crash Monday in which he was not wearing a helmet.

Roethlisberger remained in serious but stable condition after seven hours of surgery that ended at approximately 9 p.m. ET, according to Dr. Daniel Pituch, chief of oral and maxillofacial surgery at Mercy Hospital. His condition is not expected to change throughout the evening, Pituch said at a news conference.

"He suffered multiple facial fractures," Pituch said. "All of the fractures were successfully repaired. His brain, spine, chest and abdomen appear to be without serious injury. And there are no other confirmed injuries at this time."

The doctors declined to release further information at the family's request.

ESPN.com's John Clayton has confirmed that Roethlisberger also suffered a 9-inch laceration to the back of his head, has lost or chipped a number of teeth and has minor injuries to his knees from hitting the pavement. A plastic surgeon has been called in.

A broken jaw normally takes seven weeks to heal. It is not known how long it will take for the other injuries to heal. Pittsburgh's training camp begins in late July.

"He was talking to me before he left for the operating room," Dr. Larry Jones, chief of trauma at Mercy Hospital, said before the operation. "He's coherent. He's making sense. He knows what happened. He knows where he is. From that standpoint, he's very stable."

Roethlisberger was riding this motorcycle when he collided with an automobile in Pittsburgh on Monday morning.
Roethlisberger's stepmother, Brenda, was crying as she arrived at the hospital. Roethlisberger's father and sister were also at the hospital.

Steelers coach Bill Cowher cut short his vacation to return to Pittsburgh, and arrived at the hospital shortly after 9 p.m. ET.

Steelers president Art Rooney said the team was "encouraged by the early reports from the medical team" at the hospital.

"I am sure Ben knows that we are praying for his complete recovery," he said.

Roethlisberger, 24, was not wearing a helmet, police said. He has said he likes to ride without one, a habit that once prompted a lecture from Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher.

Roethlisberger's contract does not have a specific clause regarding riding a motorcycle, Clayton confirmed.

Roethlisberger was between radio interviews and on his black 2005 Suzuki Hayabusa -- a large, racing-style bike -- and heading toward an intersection on the edge of downtown. A silver Chrysler New Yorker traveling in the opposite direction took a left turn and collided with the motorcycle, and Roethlisberger was thrown, police said.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger flew into the Chrysler's windshield and then hit the ground head first. Blood pooled around him on the pavement, the paper said.

The other car was driven by a 62-year-old woman, police said. They didn't immediately release her name and no charges were filed.

Witness Sandra Ford was waiting at a bus stop when she said she saw the motorcycle approach. Seconds later, she said she heard a crash, saw the motorcyclist in the air and ran toward the crash scene.

"He wasn't moving and I was afraid that he had died. ... He wasn't really speaking. He seemed dazed but he was resisting the effort to make him stay down," said Ford, who didn't realize the motorcyclist was Roethlisberger.

Police spokesman Lt. Kevin Kraus said police and homicide units were investigating the crash, something standard when there is an accident with critical injuries. Kraus would give no details on the extent of Roethlisberger's injuries or if anyone else was injured.

The accident occurred on Second Avenue near the intersection of 10th Street in Pittsburgh, around 11:30 a.m. The route is one often taken in traveling to the Steelers' facility in the Southside section of the city.

Several teammates, including backup quarterback Charlie Batch, linebacker Joey Porter and safety Mike Logan, arrived at the hospital emergency room but did not comment.

The car, which had damage to the front passenger fender, was removed and Roethlisberger's bike was loaded onto a flatbed truck. Police were detouring traffic around the crash scene as onlookers and media gathered.

One of his agents, Ryan Tollner, was en route to Pittsburgh for what was supposed to be a pre-planned trip and was to arrive later Monday.

Paint outlines puddles of oil and blood on the street where Roethlisberger collided with an automobile while riding a motorcycle on Monday.
In only his second year in the NFL, Roethlisberger became the youngest quarterback to lead a team to the Super Bowl championship. He was 23 when he did it last February.

In May 2005, Cowher warned him about safe riding after Cleveland tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was injured in a motorcycle accident. Winslow tore knee ligaments and was lost for the season.

Roethlisberger has said in the past that he prefers not to wear a helmet when riding his motorcycle. Roethlisberger has pointed out Pennsylvania's 35-year-old state law requiring helmets to be worn was amended in September 2003 to make helmets optional.

"He talked about being a risk-taker and I'm not really a risk-taker. I'm pretty conservative and laid back, but the big thing is to just be careful," Roethlisberger said at the time. "I'll just continue to be careful. I told him we don't ever ride alone, we always ride in a group of people, and I think it makes it even more safe."

New England quarterback Tom Brady was at a charity golf event when he found out that Roethlisberger was injured riding a motorcycle.

"You try to take some of those things and put them off for a later time in your life," Brady said, "but sometimes people want to live their lives and have fun and I think sometimes things happen like that. Hopefully, he's OK."

Roethlisberger, whose mother, Ida, died in a car accident when he was 8 years old, continued to ride after Winslow's accident and that angered Terry Bradshaw, who quarterbacked the Steelers to four Super Bowl victories during the 1970s.

Visiting the Steelers' training camp last summer, Bradshaw remarked: "Ride it when you retire."

Monday, June 12, 2006

Bill Walsh Video: Former 49ers and Stanford Head Coach Explains Proper Footwork For Throwing The Football

There's no better passing game technician and teacher than Bill Walsh, architect of the great San Francisco 49ers offense of the 80s and 90s and the system that's become the standard in modern pro, college, and high school football.

Coach Walsh first developed the offense while the offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals under Paul Brown, honed it while guiding the Stanford Cardinal, and built on the foundation of concepts while head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

Coach Walsh then returned to Stanford in the early 90s, using what has been called "The West Coast Offense" -- but should be referred to as "The Walsh Offense" -- to direct Stanford to a 9-3 season and a co-Pac-10 Championship in 1993.

In this video, Coach Walsh works with his star student Quarterback Joe Montana to show how to throw several kinds of passes: the three step pass without a hitch step, the crossover hitch step, slant passes and quick out passes. Look at Joe's footwork, and then look again at where and how he holds the ball before release.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Tennessee Titans’ Stadium to be Named LP Field

From NFL Media.com press release

Tennessee Titans’ Stadium to be Named LP Field

LP, Premier Supplier of Building Products, Purchases Naming Rights

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (June 6, 2006) - Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP) (NYSE: LPX) and the Tennessee Titans today announced an agreement on a stadium naming rights sponsorship; the Titans stadium in Nashville, Tenn., will now be called LP Field. This agreement calls for LP to have stadium naming rights for 10 years at a cost of approximately $3 million per year.

“This is a rare opportunity for LP to align with a great organization, the Tennessee Titans, as well as the National Football League, the most prestigious brand in sports,” said LP CEO Rick Frost. “The LP brand will gain exposure and grow through this dynamic alliance with the Titans.”

Frost continued, “We are very proud as well that a great institution like Tennessee State University will play all its home games in LP Field. We are committed to making this sponsorship successful for our company, our customers, and the Nashville community.”

For the duration of the agreement, LP and the Titans will work together on several philanthropic initiatives to benefit Nashville and surrounding communities. Specifically, for the 2006 season, LP and the Titans will jointly provide financial and volunteer support to build a home for the Nashville Area Habitat for Humanity. Additionally, LP will continue to support The PENCIL Foundation, a Nashville business-school partnership program and its LP PENCIL Box free school supplies store. LP will now have opportunities to incorporate the Titans into these and other philanthropic efforts.

“LP is a pillar in the Nashville community with many of the same values that the Titans represent,” said Titans Owner K.S. “Bud” Adams, Jr. “I have had the pleasure of meeting several employees and am thrilled with this relationship. Both the Titans and LP have a vision of significant community involvement that is incorporated into this agreement.”

“LP represents Nashville's strength as a city at the top of its game,” said Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell. “This relationship between LP and the Titans will make sure everyone knows that whether it comes to scoring touchdowns or building a successful business, Nashville is the place to be.”

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen said, “Since choosing Tennessee as its home, LP has shown in many, many ways that it is a considerate and active corporate citizen. This sponsorship demonstrates to the whole nation that LP is proud of its new home city, proud of its state and proud of our Tennessee Titans. I am delighted to hear this news."

It was also announced today that LP will donate its building products to Habitat for Humanity to support the construction of at least one home in every city in which the Titans play an away game in the 2006 season. Specifically, LP will be donating a kit of LP materials that provide the structure and siding of homes -- Oriented Strand Board (OSB) structural panels, LP I-joists, flooring systems, LP TechShield® Radiant Barrier roof sheathing, LP SmartSide® siding and trim products, as well as LP WeatherBest® composite decking and interior decorative mouldings.

LP has launched a specific LP Field Web site at www.lpfield.com. The Web site features events, attractions, links to ticket sales and a sweepstakes for tickets to the Titans opening home game.

Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, LP is a premier manufacturer of building products, delivering innovative, high-quality commodity and specialty products to its retail, wholesale, homebuilding and industrial customers. Visit LP's Web site at www.lpcorp.com for additional information on the company.

More on SF 49ers QB Cody Pickett - Pickett's Refusal To Play In NFL Europe Wrote The Ticket For His Possible Departure



Leave it to Profootballtalk.com to get the skinny on SF 49ers Cody Pickett. Here it is:

PICKETT'S DECISION NOT TO PLAY IN EUROPE WILL HAUNT HIM

Last week, the 49ers signed quarterback Shaun Hill, expanding the number of quarterbacks on the roster to five. Along with Hill, the team has under contract Alex Smith, Trent Dilfer, Jesse Palmer, and Cody Pickett.

Per a league source, the odd man out is and will be Pickett.

And despite what anyone connected to the team might say publicly, we're told that Pickett sealed his fate by declining the team's request that he spend the offseason playing in NFL Europe.

Though more and more young players prefer to stick around in the U.S. in the offseason and participate in the team's voluntary workouts, it's never a good idea to tell the team "no" when the team asks a guy to play in NFL Europe. Roster spots with pro football teams aren't entitlements, and until a player has proven on the field that he can get it done he needs to be ready and willing to do whatever the team asks him to do.

So it soon will be farewell in San Fran to another guy who was drafted during the Terry Donahue era.

San Francisco 49ers May Release QB Cody Pickett - SF Chronicle

I personally was never really excited about Cody's future as a star QB with the 49ers. Why? Poor coaching. I think it's best he get a release and hopefully a chance to catch on elsewhere. I'm not convinced the 49ers under Nolan is the best place for a QB.

Pickett's future as 49ers QB in doubt
Kevin Lynch, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Cody Pickett's 6-foot-3 inch frame, powerful arm, fleet feet and toughness have made him a prospect and fan favorite. But with Friday's signing of former Vikings QB Shaun Hill, Pickett's days as a 49ers quarterback could be numbered.

On Monday, Hill joined Pickett, starter Alex Smith, Trent Dilfer and Jesse Palmer at the 49ers' organized team activity (OTA). Although Dilfer's surgically repaired right knee won't allow him to participate in full practice until training camp opens July 27, his roster spot is assured, as is Smith's.

Palmer's fluid throwing motion and strong arm make him a front-runner for the third quarterback spot. Hill spent four seasons in Minnesota without throwing a pass in a regular-season game. The 49ers signed him to compete for the third spot.

The Hill signing might push Pickett to another position. Last year, he dabbled as a coverage man on punts and kickoffs and did well as a receiver on the scout team in practice.

"I want to play quarterback, that's what I've done my whole life," Pickett said Monday. "(But) as a third quarterback, you don't get a chance to get out there and play. ... We have Alex and Trent here now, so I want to be out on the field, I don't want to be just standing around."

Coaches have discussed moving Pickett to receiver.

"I want to be here," Pickett said. "If they want me to play receiver, I'll do it."

The 49ers wanted Pickett to play in NFL Europe this spring. When Pickett resisted, the 49ers relented. A stint in Europe would have allowed Pickett, a seventh-round pick in 2004, to work on his mechanics, which former offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy tried to refashion last year.

"It's been tough on Cody," vice president of player personnel Scot McCloughan said. "He had a lot of different coaches try to change his mechanics."

Still working on his release, Pickett looks erratic in practice. He struggled in his two starts last season, completing one pass in 13 attempts in the 47-mph gusts at Chicago's Soldier Field on Nov. 13.

So far in the OTA, Pickett mainly has played quarterback. But when training camp begins, he might be splitting time between receiver and quarterback.

"I like Cody. He's competitive, he's tough," head coach Mike Nolan said. "I think he makes us better by competing for jobs and maybe winning those jobs. I don't think (his future) will be at quarterback right now the way it stands."

Briefly: Wide receiver Arnaz Battle missed Monday's practice after having his right knee drained. A partially torn posterior cruciate ligament caused Battle to miss eight games last year. "There's no pain in it, just the swelling," he said. "Once I get that under control, I'll be good." Battle said a recent MRI exam showed the knee was stable. ... Safety Tony Parrish expects to return to practice next week. He had a spiral fracture of his left lower fibula Nov. 13 in Chicago.

Seattle Seahawks Sellout Season Tickets - 61,000 With a Wait List of 2,000 orders - Seattle P.I.

The Seattle Seahawks have sold out their season tickets this year and for the first time. It's a great sign that beyond just winning, Seattle has responded to the total product -- team, stadium, and marketing. The stadium's a great place to watch a football game. Probably the best place. The video below captures all the excitement of the Seahawks' victory over the Carolina Panthers for the 2005 NFC Championship. Here's the Seattle P.I. Article and video



Seahawks Notebook: Season-ticket sales top 61,000
Fan base best in Hawks' history

By CLARE FARNSWORTH
SEATTLE P-I REPORTER

KIRKLAND -- The good vibes just keep on coming for the Seahawks.

One day after passing out rings to commemorate the franchise's first conference championship in 2005, the club announced another milestone Thursday directly related to the unprecedented success from last season.

More than 61,000 season tickets have been sold for the 2006 season at Qwest Field, creating the highest season-ticket base in franchise history and guaranteeing that every game this season will be sold out.

The remaining 4,000-5,000 individual game tickets will go on sale July 29.

"We feel great. This has been a long time coming," CEO Tod Leiweke said. "It was a dream -- it was when the stadium was built, it was a dream when Paul Allen acquired the team.

"To announce something like this is really a sign of the organization coming of age, but it's also a sign that our fans are truly some of the best in all of sports and certainly in the NFL," he added.

More than 19,000 new season-ticket packages were sold, a franchise high, and there is a waiting list of 2,000 to purchase season tickets -- a first since the early 1990s.

The Seahawks have come a long way since those games in 2002 and 2003 when the seats behind the visiting team's bench were filled with fans wearing the opposing team's colors.

"We used to draw this kind of crowd to announce we were selling out a game," said Leiweke, who was surrounded by reporters and TV cameras.

"I have a distinct memory of that Steelers game my first year (2003) and seeing all the black and gold," he said. "It was a great disappointment."

That made the sellout announcement a little sweeter.

The team renewed 97 percent of its season tickets, the highest since the late 1980s, and the club level is sold out for the first time since the new stadium opened in 2002.

"One of my goals is always to create a football team that the fans can be proud of," coach Mike Holmgren said after a practice that ended the first week of the team's final minicamp.

That was the case in 2005, when the Seahawks went 8-0 at home in the regular season and added two postseason wins at Qwest Field, including a victory over the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship game.

"If I talk to opposing coaches and some players that came in, they say it's a very difficult place to play," Holmgren said. "The players respond to a crowd like that. And the fact that those fans now will be Seahawks fans, instead of a good block of tickets going to our visiting team, that's all very special."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

New Orleans Saints Trade Johnathan Sullivan To New England for WR/KR Bethel Johnson- The Times-Picayune

The NFL war on the "player with an attitude" continues -- and rightfully so. Meanwhile the Pats trade a fast kick returner that can hurt a opponent -- just ask the Colts.

Saints done with Sullivan
2003 first-round pick is traded to Patriots
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
By Mike Triplett
Staff writer - The Times-Picayune

The Saints traded their underachieving 2003 first-round draft pick to the New England Patriots on Monday in exchange for receiver/kick returner Bethel Johnson.

Saints officials declined to comment Monday, as the deal is pending league approval, and Sullivan could not be reached for comment.

Sullivan and Johnson, a second-round pick, have been disappointments since being drafted in 2003. Sullivan, 25, likely will be remembered in New Orleans as one of the Saints' biggest draft busts.

The Saints traded up to acquire Sullivan with the No. 6 overall pick in 2003. They sent the 17th and 18th picks, along with their second-round pick, to Arizona in exchange for the Cardinals' first-, second- and fourth-round picks.

Sullivan, who is listed at 6 feet 3, 315 pounds, left Georgia after his junior season and was disappointing in his first two seasons with the Saints, struggling to keep his weight down and often being criticized for his lack of desire and effort.

Last season, Sullivan finally showed some glimpses of his potential, playing in 15 games and making a career-high 42 tackles.

But Sullivan failed to show enough evidence to the Saints' new coaching staff that he had turned things around.

His attendance in the Saints' offseason workout program was sparse and his conditioning was poor, as evidenced by fatigue problems during last weekend's minicamp.

Sullivan provided some optimism last weekend, saying he weighed 328 pounds -- an improvement over the days when he weighed 350 to 355 pounds. He also said when he wasn't in New Orleans this summer, he was working out at home in Georgia, where he was moving into a new house.

Still, the Saints have demanded change under first-year coach Sean Payton, cutting ties with several veterans and seeking players with high character, desire and work ethic.

Sullivan still will cost more than $5 million against the Saints' salary cap during the next two seasons, stemming from his original signing bonus. But they will be relieved of his scheduled 2006 salary of $689,083.

Johnson, 27, is due $478,000 this year and $546,000 next year in the final two years of his original contract.

The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder is regarded as one of the NFL's fastest players, but he was used sparingly as a receiver in New England, where most of his value came as a kickoff returner.

Johnson caught 30 passes in three years for 450 yards and four touchdowns. He returned 102 kickoffs for a 25.1-yard average and two touchdowns, and he returned six punts for 21 yards.

With the Saints, Johnson will compete with a crowded group of young receivers for the third-, fourth- and fifth-receiver roles. He could also complement or compete with veteran Michael Lewis as the primary return man.

Johnson's character and work ethic were never issues in New England, but health and toughness were question marks. He missed last year's training camp and much of September with foot and thigh injuries.

Johnson had a series of surgeries on his spleen while at Texas A&M, but the condition has not been an issue in the NFL.

Last month, Johnson expressed frustration with his inability to earn more playing time, telling the Boston Globe that he has been "totally disappointed."

"It's hard for me to sit here and watch. I hate it. I hate it with a passion," Johnson told the newspaper. "I'm doing everything I have to do every single year to make it happen. But it's not up to me. I've asked the question for the last three years, really. Catch the ball better -- I stay and catch the ball. Run more routes -- I run more routes. Something's not there."

Johnson and Sullivan now will have an opportunity to turn things around.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Rick Smith - Houston Texans GM's First Press Conference - HoustonTexans.com


Rick Smith was introduced as the Houston Texans second GM in its short history today. One can't overlook his success with the Denver Broncos, or the fact that he's got a great relationship with Charley Casserly. I will be happy when someone doesn't ask a "How does it feel to be black" question, but for now it's par for the course.

What Smith does get is the chance to work for a really nice and pleasureable person in Texans Owner Bob McNair. It's not a case of equal opportunity -- Smith's a proven executive -- but of the fact that increasingly the best person for an NFL job may be black as much as white.

I think Smith's master stroke was moving up four spots to get Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler in the first round.


Smith introduction presser
June 05, 2006
HoustonTexans.com

Texans owner Robert McNair

(opening statement) “First of all I thank you for coming out this afternoon. This is a wonderful time for us. We have gone through a period in which we have built a foundation, we’ve made a start and we’ve had an introduction into the NFL. We’ve had some great people working with us and we appreciate very much all that they have done. Dom Capers and of course Charley Casserly in helping get us started. And I feel like we’re sort of like the situation with NASA, where we have liftoff and now we’re ready for the ignition of the second stage. That is what this is all about.

“The first part of this of course was when we brought in Gary Kubiak and Gary put together a fine staff and they are all working very hard and very well together. The second part of it was to bring in a general manager. We have really looked far and wide across the country and looked at all the teams and all of the personnel that were out there. We interviewed some outstanding people but at the end of the day we came to the conclusion that Rick Smith was the man for us.

“Rick has a terrific background; number one he has worked with coach Kubiak, which is important to us. This is a team effort and we need to have people that can work well together. Rick has been a player, he has been a coach, he has been a scout and most recently he has been an assistant general manager at Denver. He has done an outstanding job in all of these areas. He is a young man, 36 years old and I want to keep him looking young, I don’t want him to start looking old. He has had a tremendous amount of experience and he has great energy and enthusiasm.

“He has a lovely wife and child and we’re delighted, Tiffany, to have you all here. I think that we have a winning team that has been put together. We have met today and we’ve discussed responsibilities and how Rick would work with coach Kubiak and Dan Ferens on contract administrations and negotiations and the salary cap and everybody is on the same page and we’re all excited. We’re ready to move ahead and we’ve promised that we’re going to have a winner for Houston and I’ll say I’m committed to that. We are going to win and we’re going to have a great, great time doing it and the city is going to love it. I appreciate the opportunity to bring together fine people like this to work with us and help us with this effort.

“Rick, congratulations on your new position with us and you have my full support and the support of our total organization and we look forward to having you help us as we continue this journey and hold on for the ignition of the second stage. Congratulations.”

General manager Rick Smith

(opening statement) “It’s a little bit thicker down here in Houston than it was in Denver but I think I’ll get used to it a little bit. First thing I want to do is I want to thank Mr. McNair for this opportunity. This man is committed to bringing a championship team to the city of Houston and it is very apparent. When I came down for the first interview and had a chance to interact with him on a personal basis and its obvious he wants to bring a winner here. He’s very committed and I want to thank you for the opportunity to join your franchise and bring a winner to the city.

“The second person I want to thank is Gary (Kubiak). I think this might become a reoccurring theme today, but I’m so excited about this opportunity, particularly the opportunity to work with a guy like Gary, who is just a quality individual and heck of a football coach and a guy that I really, really believe in and I know that his players will play for him and I know that he will put a quality football team on the field so I’m just excited to work with him.

“I want to thank Pat Bolin and Mike Shanahan for giving me an opportunity and showing me what a winning organization looks like. It was a very valuable experience to work in a place like Denver and that organization for as long as I did in the various capacities that I served. And I’m just really appreciative of what they both did for me, particularly what Mike has done for my career. He has been a great friend and I appreciate his friendship as well as everything that he has done for my career.

“When you spend ten years in an organization you develop relationships and friendships and hopefully that is what we’re going to establish here; we’re going to have consistency and longevity. When you do that like I did in Denver, I like to just thank the whole organization from the secretaries to the athletic training staff to the PR staff to the equipment staff, video, everybody, because everybody had something to do with me development as a person as well as a coach and personnel evaluator. So I’d like to thank the entire Bronco organization.

“The one person I’d like to single out who has probably been the most important person in my career is a guy by the name of Bobby Turner, who, when I was a young guy at Purdue University, saw something in me to convince Jim Colletto to give me an opportunity as a graduate assistant and then hire me as a very young coach to coach the secondary there at Purdue. Then talk to coach Shanahan and on his recommendation Mike hired me sight unseen. So Bobby has been instrumental to my career and I’d just like to thank him and his family.

“I’d like to thank my wife, Tiffany, who has become the rock in my foundation in this crazy world of the NFL. We have been on a roller coaster ride here in the last few years, and he has just been a foundation for me so I appreciate that as well as my parents and my family for all their support.

“It’s a difficult and maybe even daunting task to start a franchise. It’s very complicated and very challenging and I think that I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the job that Charley Casserly and Dom Capers did here, in laying the foundation for this franchise. I think it’s important to recognize that there is a foundation that we’re going to continue to build on and we’re going to work hard to get that done. I just wanted to make sure that they understood that we understand what the job that they did and we appreciate the job that they both did.

“We are going to work. There are no geniuses in the NFL; the only real genius that I know of is Albert Einstein. I think he was asked what genius is and he said its one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. That’s what it takes, we’re going to work and we’re going to roll our sleeves up. I worked hard for this ring, but I’m looking forward to taking this ring off and rolling up our sleeves and getting after the job and going about the business of making this franchise a winner and bringing a winner to this organization.

“My father was a coach and coached us when we were very young and I have a brother who is a couple years older than I am and my father was coaching his little league team of nine and ten year olds. I ‘m a little seven year old and I’m out there running around with him. My knee pads are on my shins because I’m so small and I’m just running around and they are just letting me stay out around everybody. The first game of the season we scored a touchdown and my dad turns around and he says ‘Ricky, I right, 22 dive and you are the fullback’. I’m seven years old playing with all these nine and ten year olds and we call the play and I run the play and the guy hits me and my helmet turns this way and the ball flies that way and I get up and I’m so excited about the fact that I had an opportunity to go in and run the football. Periodically through that season he allowed me to go in and run the extra points as the fullback.

“I have been preparing for this job since the day that I strapped that helmet on. I have been the youngest a lot of times and it’s never been a problem for me, in fact, I’ve always looked at it as a challenge. I have never been complacent and I’ve always liked to push the envelop e and I’m always trying to grow. I’m excited about this opportunity. This is going to be a team effort from ownership to coaches to personnel to business operations, everybody, we’re going to forge ahead as a team and I’m so excited about this opportunity and so excited to bring a championship to our city.”

Rick Smith

(on the pressure of being a black GM) “I don’t know that I look at it so much as pressure. I think at the outset it’s important to state that Mr. McNair is a man that is committed to equal opportunity and certainly I don’t think I got this job because I’m an African-American. I think I got this job because I’m the best person for the job and I think that’s why he hired me. That being said, I’m not naive and I do recognize the importance. I’m standing on a lot of people’s shoulders. A lot of people who worked hard for me to have this opportunity and I recognize that and I carry that. I’m going to continue to do what I’ve always done in my life and try to be an example to young kids. I think this is a great example. For any of those kids that are out there, trying to do whatever they want to do with their life, here’s a perfect example to say that you can do it.”

(on why he left coaching for personnel) “For a lot of reasons. My coaching career was going fairly well and obviously, I coached in the Big Ten Conference, I coached in the NFL, we won a championship and my career was advancing fairly quickly. I sat down and tired to make a decision to see if head coaching and that track was something that I wanted and for a lot of reasons I decided that I liked the bigger picture a little bit better. I liked putting the team together a little better and obviously I wanted to stay in the NFL. I had a talk with coach (Mike) Shanahan and we both decided that the general manager track would be a little more in line with what I wanted to do so I switched.”

(on his working relationship with Gary Kubiak and Dan Ferens) “I think all of us are on the same page. I think in these next few days we’re going to sit down. Like Mr. McNair indicated, we’ve already sat down. It’s up to both Gary and I and we both know, we have a pretty good idea from working together for 10 years what we’re looking for, but we still need to sit down and talk about the specifics. Once we do that, we’ll put a plan together from a personnel standpoint and go about the practice of selecting players that will help us.”

(on whether he will be at mini-camp this week) “Absolutely, we’ve got to meet the staff and get to know everyone in the organization and that’s one of the first things we’ve got to do is evaluate this football team. I need to see what Gary thinks the strengths and weaknesses are and see where we are and formulate a game plan and see where we need to go.”

Head coach Gary Kubiak

(on the give and take that will exist with Rick Smith) “There’s no doubt about that. You’re not going to be successful in this business if you don’t have people around you that are willing to give their opinion on players and on coaching staffs. When you’re putting a staff together, that’s what you’re looking for. You’re looking for guys that will battle you as a coach, that will help you get better and help the football team get better and that’s one of the reasons that I feel so good about this guy right here because I’ve been with him. I’ve battled him and he’s battled me in a lot of situations and made me a better football coach because sometimes I get a little bit of tunnel vision on some players and things and he would help me see another side. That’s the way we’re going to get where we all want to go as an organization and that’s when nobody’s turf is untouchable. We need to all work together. We need to all listen and that’s how we’re going to get better and get the Texans to where we want to go. Like I said, that’s one of the reasons why I feel so good about this guy right here.”

General manager Rick Smith

(on his draft strategy) “I think what we’re going to do is take the best of what we did in Denver, take the best of what was done here in Houston and some new, fresh ideas from other places and try to formulate a game plan to make sure that on draft day we’ve got all the information we need on all the players in order to make good selections.”

Head coach Gary Kubiak

(on what he told Mr. McNair that he would like about Rick Smith) “First off, we had three wonderful candidates come through that all did a super job. But when I talked to Bob about Rick, I said first off, from personnel standpoint we’re looking for someone to evaluate players and do an excellent job in personnel and this guy is as good as I’ve ever been around. The icing on the cake, sort of speak, is the fact that I think this guy is a tremendous leader of people and when you’re talking about a big organization, there’s a lot of people’s paths that you cross every day from a business standpoint to the business side. This guy when he walks in a room, he lights it up. He gets the best out of everybody that he’s around and I think that’s extremely important.”

General manager Rick Smith

(on why he thinks Gary Kubiak will be successful) “First of all, I think the world of Gary as a man and as a human being, and I think he’s an excellent football coach. I think he’s well-prepared, and I think he’s been prepared, and I think he’s already showing it. I think you can watch practice, and I know this not even having been around, but I would suspect that the tempo of practice is a little bit different; the attitude is a little bit different. Gary has a unique ability to endear himself to his players but command their respect that he needs in order to get them to do what they need to do in order to be successful. I think the world of him, and I always said that if I ever got a shot to be a general manager and hire a head coach, I would’ve hired him in a heartbeat, so it’s ironic that he got his shot first, and I’m just happy that we’re together. But this guy’s going to be a tremendous, tremendous football coach.”

(on his core beliefs that go into building a roster) “I think that number one, scouts, we tend to value height, weight and speed. We’ve got position parameters that each individual position needs in order to fit into our system, so that’s the first thing you look for—you look for height, weight and speed. Is a guy fast enough and big enough to play a particular position? But then, the most important thing I think that you look for is what I call football character. Does a guy have passion to play the game? Does he love to play the game of football? Sometimes a guy won’t have the ideal height, weight and speed, but he’s got that special something about him that you can see, and that’s something that you evaluate as a personnel guy. So it’s a combination there. It’s physical attributes as well as passion and intelligence, character—we want to make sure that we put high-character players on our football field, because that right there, at the end of the day, in the fourth quarter, those are the guys that you’re going to be able to count on. So that’s what we’ll look for.”

Texans owner Bob McNair

(on why he elected to hire a first-time head coach and general manager this time after hiring veterans at each position originally) “Well, I think we’re at a different stage of our development, and initially I think we needed the experience. I think it was more important to us because we had nothing. There were no employees, no players, nothing. So you’re starting from scratch. I think we’re at the point now where we’ve been doing this for a few years. I’m no longer a rookie, and I think we have a better idea as to how we want to go about accomplishing our goals.

“I think that there were veteran general managers out there, and I guess we could’ve brought in one of the veteran general managers and he probably would’ve been trying to teach me how he wanted to run things instead of my teaching Rick how I wanted to run things. I think I like the latter better than the former.

“But I think we’re at that stage of our development where we’ve got a lot of good things in place, and we don’t need a whole lot of new things, so I think now we need people who are going to work together, who are smart people, who understand the game and who can work together. I think we’ve got that kind of a group now, and I think they’re the kind of guys—I think either Gary or Rick touched on it—who are flexible, who are willing to—you know, we have new technology today. We have a lot more information today than we had 20 or 30 years ago, and we have to make sure that we’re exploiting that, that we’re using it properly. And these guys are ready to do that because they’re young and they’re still willing to reach out and do things that are different. They’re not concerned about protecting their turf. They’re willing to try things, and if it doesn’t work, we’ll change some of the things, some of the relationships. We want to do what works for the Houston Texans, and that’s what we’re all committed to, and that’s why we’re going to be successful.”

General manager Rick Smith

(on the two or three Denver players that he recommended to Mike Shanahan that he is most proud of) “Hmm, let’s see. I would say the two guys that come to mind, the first one would be a guy by the name of Bertrand Berry, who is a defensive end for the Arizona Cardinals now. Bert was out of work, he had been what we call a ‘tweener’ in our league, if you’re familiar with that. He just never really found a home. I think Indianapolis had tried him at both outside linebacker as well as defensive end, and so he had found himself on the street.

“I had done some evaluation, and I brought him in for a workout, and I sat him down in front of me after the workout and I said, ‘You’re talented enough to play in this league.’ We talked about it and he said he wanted to be a defensive end, so I told him, ‘You’re a defensive end, and that’s what you’re going to play here.’ And he just grew and developed as a player. We were not able to keep him as an unrestricted free agent; he signed a big deal with Arizona, and that was well-deserved, and he went on to earn a Pro Bowl berth the next year, so I’m really proud of him.

“Another kid, and it’s a similar type of story, is guy named Nick Ferguson, who is our starting strong safety for the Broncos now, and Nick was a guy who just worked his butt off and played in Canada and was cut. He actually was cut from the New York Jets and I did a little evaluation on him and liked him and called his agent. His agent’s Pat Dye down in Atlanta. I called Pat and said, ‘Hey, this kid’s got a chance. Let me bring him in and work him out.’ And he said, ‘Well, he’s actually kind of given up on it. He’s going into coaching and he’s doing an internship down in NFL Europe.’ I said, ‘I’m going down to NFL Europe’s training camp, so I’ll work him out when I’m down there.'

“And I get down there and it’s—I don’t know if you’ve been to training camp, but the fields aren’t the best, and so the grass was thick and it was raining and it’s hot and muggy—and his workout wasn’t the best. In fact, if I had to hire him off his workout, I would not have done it, and I told him that. But what I saw on tapes—one of the things I was saying earlier—was that intuitive thing that Nick had. He’s a physical player, he’s a smart player. I saw enough on film to take a chance, and he has done an outstanding job for us there in Denver as a backup and as a starter. So those two guys really, because they were guys who were out of it, but there was something in them that kept them going.”

Head coach Gary Kubiak

(on how he and Smith will resolve conflicts when they disagree) “I think we both have to listen. We have to listen and work through situations, and the bottom line is we have to come to a conclusion on what’s best for the Houston Texans and our football team. That’s the only way we’re going to get to where we want to go, is if we’re willing to sit there and talk to coaches, Rick, trainers, everybody involved. And if we approach each day that way, then we’ve got a chance. We’ve got a good thing going right now; we’ve got a lot of good work going on and a lot of good people doing it, and the players are working hard and we’ve just got to continue in that direction.”
Rick Smith was introduced as the Houston Texans second GM in its short history today. One can't overlook his success with the Denver Broncos, or the fact that he's got a great relationship with Charley Casserly. I will be happy when someone doesn't ask a "How does it feel to be black" question, but for now it's par for the course.

What Smith does get is the chance to work for a really nice and pleasureable person in Texans Owner Bob McNair. It's not a case of equal opportunity -- Smith's a proven executive -- but of the fact that increasingly the best person for an NFL job may be black as much as white.

I think Smith's master stroke was moving up four spots to get Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler in the first round.


Smith introduction presser
June 05, 2006
HoustonTexans.com

Texans owner Robert McNair

(opening statement) “First of all I thank you for coming out this afternoon. This is a wonderful time for us. We have gone through a period in which we have built a foundation, we’ve made a start and we’ve had an introduction into the NFL. We’ve had some great people working with us and we appreciate very much all that they have done. Dom Capers and of course Charley Casserly in helping get us started. And I feel like we’re sort of like the situation with NASA, where we have liftoff and now we’re ready for the ignition of the second stage. That is what this is all about.

“The first part of this of course was when we brought in Gary Kubiak and Gary put together a fine staff and they are all working very hard and very well together. The second part of it was to bring in a general manager. We have really looked far and wide across the country and looked at all the teams and all of the personnel that were out there. We interviewed some outstanding people but at the end of the day we came to the conclusion that Rick Smith was the man for us.

“Rick has a terrific background; number one he has worked with coach Kubiak, which is important to us. This is a team effort and we need to have people that can work well together. Rick has been a player, he has been a coach, he has been a scout and most recently he has been an assistant general manager at Denver. He has done an outstanding job in all of these areas. He is a young man, 36 years old and I want to keep him looking young, I don’t want him to start looking old. He has had a tremendous amount of experience and he has great energy and enthusiasm.

“He has a lovely wife and child and we’re delighted, Tiffany, to have you all here. I think that we have a winning team that has been put together. We have met today and we’ve discussed responsibilities and how Rick would work with coach Kubiak and Dan Ferens on contract administrations and negotiations and the salary cap and everybody is on the same page and we’re all excited. We’re ready to move ahead and we’ve promised that we’re going to have a winner for Houston and I’ll say I’m committed to that. We are going to win and we’re going to have a great, great time doing it and the city is going to love it. I appreciate the opportunity to bring together fine people like this to work with us and help us with this effort.

“Rick, congratulations on your new position with us and you have my full support and the support of our total organization and we look forward to having you help us as we continue this journey and hold on for the ignition of the second stage. Congratulations.”

General manager Rick Smith

(opening statement) “It’s a little bit thicker down here in Houston than it was in Denver but I think I’ll get used to it a little bit. First thing I want to do is I want to thank Mr. McNair for this opportunity. This man is committed to bringing a championship team to the city of Houston and it is very apparent. When I came down for the first interview and had a chance to interact with him on a personal basis and its obvious he wants to bring a winner here. He’s very committed and I want to thank you for the opportunity to join your franchise and bring a winner to the city.

“The second person I want to thank is Gary (Kubiak). I think this might become a reoccurring theme today, but I’m so excited about this opportunity, particularly the opportunity to work with a guy like Gary, who is just a quality individual and heck of a football coach and a guy that I really, really believe in and I know that his players will play for him and I know that he will put a quality football team on the field so I’m just excited to work with him.

“I want to thank Pat Bolin and Mike Shanahan for giving me an opportunity and showing me what a winning organization looks like. It was a very valuable experience to work in a place like Denver and that organization for as long as I did in the various capacities that I served. And I’m just really appreciative of what they both did for me, particularly what Mike has done for my career. He has been a great friend and I appreciate his friendship as well as everything that he has done for my career.

“When you spend ten years in an organization you develop relationships and friendships and hopefully that is what we’re going to establish here; we’re going to have consistency and longevity. When you do that like I did in Denver, I like to just thank the whole organization from the secretaries to the athletic training staff to the PR staff to the equipment staff, video, everybody, because everybody had something to do with me development as a person as well as a coach and personnel evaluator. So I’d like to thank the entire Bronco organization.

“The one person I’d like to single out who has probably been the most important person in my career is a guy by the name of Bobby Turner, who, when I was a young guy at Purdue University, saw something in me to convince Jim Colletto to give me an opportunity as a graduate assistant and then hire me as a very young coach to coach the secondary there at Purdue. Then talk to coach Shanahan and on his recommendation Mike hired me sight unseen. So Bobby has been instrumental to my career and I’d just like to thank him and his family.

“I’d like to thank my wife, Tiffany, who has become the rock in my foundation in this crazy world of the NFL. We have been on a roller coaster ride here in the last few years, and he has just been a foundation for me so I appreciate that as well as my parents and my family for all their support.

“It’s a difficult and maybe even daunting task to start a franchise. It’s very complicated and very challenging and I think that I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the job that Charley Casserly and Dom Capers did here, in laying the foundation for this franchise. I think it’s important to recognize that there is a foundation that we’re going to continue to build on and we’re going to work hard to get that done. I just wanted to make sure that they understood that we understand what the job that they did and we appreciate the job that they both did.

“We are going to work. There are no geniuses in the NFL; the only real genius that I know of is Albert Einstein. I think he was asked what genius is and he said its one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. That’s what it takes, we’re going to work and we’re going to roll our sleeves up. I worked hard for this ring, but I’m looking forward to taking this ring off and rolling up our sleeves and getting after the job and going about the business of making this franchise a winner and bringing a winner to this organization.

“My father was a coach and coached us when we were very young and I have a brother who is a couple years older than I am and my father was coaching his little league team of nine and ten year olds. I ‘m a little seven year old and I’m out there running around with him. My knee pads are on my shins because I’m so small and I’m just running around and they are just letting me stay out around everybody. The first game of the season we scored a touchdown and my dad turns around and he says ‘Ricky, I right, 22 dive and you are the fullback’. I’m seven years old playing with all these nine and ten year olds and we call the play and I run the play and the guy hits me and my helmet turns this way and the ball flies that way and I get up and I’m so excited about the fact that I had an opportunity to go in and run the football. Periodically through that season he allowed me to go in and run the extra points as the fullback.

“I have been preparing for this job since the day that I strapped that helmet on. I have been the youngest a lot of times and it’s never been a problem for me, in fact, I’ve always looked at it as a challenge. I have never been complacent and I’ve always liked to push the envelop e and I’m always trying to grow. I’m excited about this opportunity. This is going to be a team effort from ownership to coaches to personnel to business operations, everybody, we’re going to forge ahead as a team and I’m so excited about this opportunity and so excited to bring a championship to our city.”

Rick Smith

(on the pressure of being a black GM) “I don’t know that I look at it so much as pressure. I think at the outset it’s important to state that Mr. McNair is a man that is committed to equal opportunity and certainly I don’t think I got this job because I’m an African-American. I think I got this job because I’m the best person for the job and I think that’s why he hired me. That being said, I’m not naive and I do recognize the importance. I’m standing on a lot of people’s shoulders. A lot of people who worked hard for me to have this opportunity and I recognize that and I carry that. I’m going to continue to do what I’ve always done in my life and try to be an example to young kids. I think this is a great example. For any of those kids that are out there, trying to do whatever they want to do with their life, here’s a perfect example to say that you can do it.”

(on why he left coaching for personnel) “For a lot of reasons. My coaching career was going fairly well and obviously, I coached in the Big Ten Conference, I coached in the NFL, we won a championship and my career was advancing fairly quickly. I sat down and tired to make a decision to see if head coaching and that track was something that I wanted and for a lot of reasons I decided that I liked the bigger picture a little bit better. I liked putting the team together a little better and obviously I wanted to stay in the NFL. I had a talk with coach (Mike) Shanahan and we both decided that the general manager track would be a little more in line with what I wanted to do so I switched.”

(on his working relationship with Gary Kubiak and Dan Ferens) “I think all of us are on the same page. I think in these next few days we’re going to sit down. Like Mr. McNair indicated, we’ve already sat down. It’s up to both Gary and I and we both know, we have a pretty good idea from working together for 10 years what we’re looking for, but we still need to sit down and talk about the specifics. Once we do that, we’ll put a plan together from a personnel standpoint and go about the practice of selecting players that will help us.”

(on whether he will be at mini-camp this week) “Absolutely, we’ve got to meet the staff and get to know everyone in the organization and that’s one of the first things we’ve got to do is evaluate this football team. I need to see what Gary thinks the strengths and weaknesses are and see where we are and formulate a game plan and see where we need to go.”

Head coach Gary Kubiak

(on the give and take that will exist with Rick Smith) “There’s no doubt about that. You’re not going to be successful in this business if you don’t have people around you that are willing to give their opinion on players and on coaching staffs. When you’re putting a staff together, that’s what you’re looking for. You’re looking for guys that will battle you as a coach, that will help you get better and help the football team get better and that’s one of the reasons that I feel so good about this guy right here because I’ve been with him. I’ve battled him and he’s battled me in a lot of situations and made me a better football coach because sometimes I get a little bit of tunnel vision on some players and things and he would help me see another side. That’s the way we’re going to get where we all want to go as an organization and that’s when nobody’s turf is untouchable. We need to all work together. We need to all listen and that’s how we’re going to get better and get the Texans to where we want to go. Like I said, that’s one of the reasons why I feel so good about this guy right here.”

General manager Rick Smith

(on his draft strategy) “I think what we’re going to do is take the best of what we did in Denver, take the best of what was done here in Houston and some new, fresh ideas from other places and try to formulate a game plan to make sure that on draft day we’ve got all the information we need on all the players in order to make good selections.”

Head coach Gary Kubiak

(on what he told Mr. McNair that he would like about Rick Smith) “First off, we had three wonderful candidates come through that all did a super job. But when I talked to Bob about Rick, I said first off, from personnel standpoint we’re looking for someone to evaluate players and do an excellent job in personnel and this guy is as good as I’ve ever been around. The icing on the cake, sort of speak, is the fact that I think this guy is a tremendous leader of people and when you’re talking about a big organization, there’s a lot of people’s paths that you cross every day from a business standpoint to the business side. This guy when he walks in a room, he lights it up. He gets the best out of everybody that he’s around and I think that’s extremely important.”

General manager Rick Smith

(on why he thinks Gary Kubiak will be successful) “First of all, I think the world of Gary as a man and as a human being, and I think he’s an excellent football coach. I think he’s well-prepared, and I think he’s been prepared, and I think he’s already showing it. I think you can watch practice, and I know this not even having been around, but I would suspect that the tempo of practice is a little bit different; the attitude is a little bit different. Gary has a unique ability to endear himself to his players but command their respect that he needs in order to get them to do what they need to do in order to be successful. I think the world of him, and I always said that if I ever got a shot to be a general manager and hire a head coach, I would’ve hired him in a heartbeat, so it’s ironic that he got his shot first, and I’m just happy that we’re together. But this guy’s going to be a tremendous, tremendous football coach.”

(on his core beliefs that go into building a roster) “I think that number one, scouts, we tend to value height, weight and speed. We’ve got position parameters that each individual position needs in order to fit into our system, so that’s the first thing you look for—you look for height, weight and speed. Is a guy fast enough and big enough to play a particular position? But then, the most important thing I think that you look for is what I call football character. Does a guy have passion to play the game? Does he love to play the game of football? Sometimes a guy won’t have the ideal height, weight and speed, but he’s got that special something about him that you can see, and that’s something that you evaluate as a personnel guy. So it’s a combination there. It’s physical attributes as well as passion and intelligence, character—we want to make sure that we put high-character players on our football field, because that right there, at the end of the day, in the fourth quarter, those are the guys that you’re going to be able to count on. So that’s what we’ll look for.”

Texans owner Bob McNair

(on why he elected to hire a first-time head coach and general manager this time after hiring veterans at each position originally) “Well, I think we’re at a different stage of our development, and initially I think we needed the experience. I think it was more important to us because we had nothing. There were no employees, no players, nothing. So you’re starting from scratch. I think we’re at the point now where we’ve been doing this for a few years. I’m no longer a rookie, and I think we have a better idea as to how we want to go about accomplishing our goals.

“I think that there were veteran general managers out there, and I guess we could’ve brought in one of the veteran general managers and he probably would’ve been trying to teach me how he wanted to run things instead of my teaching Rick how I wanted to run things. I think I like the latter better than the former.

“But I think we’re at that stage of our development where we’ve got a lot of good things in place, and we don’t need a whole lot of new things, so I think now we need people who are going to work together, who are smart people, who understand the game and who can work together. I think we’ve got that kind of a group now, and I think they’re the kind of guys—I think either Gary or Rick touched on it—who are flexible, who are willing to—you know, we have new technology today. We have a lot more information today than we had 20 or 30 years ago, and we have to make sure that we’re exploiting that, that we’re using it properly. And these guys are ready to do that because they’re young and they’re still willing to reach out and do things that are different. They’re not concerned about protecting their turf. They’re willing to try things, and if it doesn’t work, we’ll change some of the things, some of the relationships. We want to do what works for the Houston Texans, and that’s what we’re all committed to, and that’s why we’re going to be successful.”

General manager Rick Smith

(on the two or three Denver players that he recommended to Mike Shanahan that he is most proud of) “Hmm, let’s see. I would say the two guys that come to mind, the first one would be a guy by the name of Bertrand Berry, who is a defensive end for the Arizona Cardinals now. Bert was out of work, he had been what we call a ‘tweener’ in our league, if you’re familiar with that. He just never really found a home. I think Indianapolis had tried him at both outside linebacker as well as defensive end, and so he had found himself on the street.

“I had done some evaluation, and I brought him in for a workout, and I sat him down in front of me after the workout and I said, ‘You’re talented enough to play in this league.’ We talked about it and he said he wanted to be a defensive end, so I told him, ‘You’re a defensive end, and that’s what you’re going to play here.’ And he just grew and developed as a player. We were not able to keep him as an unrestricted free agent; he signed a big deal with Arizona, and that was well-deserved, and he went on to earn a Pro Bowl berth the next year, so I’m really proud of him.

“Another kid, and it’s a similar type of story, is guy named Nick Ferguson, who is our starting strong safety for the Broncos now, and Nick was a guy who just worked his butt off and played in Canada and was cut. He actually was cut from the New York Jets and I did a little evaluation on him and liked him and called his agent. His agent’s Pat Dye down in Atlanta. I called Pat and said, ‘Hey, this kid’s got a chance. Let me bring him in and work him out.’ And he said, ‘Well, he’s actually kind of given up on it. He’s going into coaching and he’s doing an internship down in NFL Europe.’ I said, ‘I’m going down to NFL Europe’s training camp, so I’ll work him out when I’m down there.'

“And I get down there and it’s—I don’t know if you’ve been to training camp, but the fields aren’t the best, and so the grass was thick and it was raining and it’s hot and muggy—and his workout wasn’t the best. In fact, if I had to hire him off his workout, I would not have done it, and I told him that. But what I saw on tapes—one of the things I was saying earlier—was that intuitive thing that Nick had. He’s a physical player, he’s a smart player. I saw enough on film to take a chance, and he has done an outstanding job for us there in Denver as a backup and as a starter. So those two guys really, because they were guys who were out of it, but there was something in them that kept them going.”

Head coach Gary Kubiak

(on how he and Smith will resolve conflicts when they disagree) “I think we both have to listen. We have to listen and work through situations, and the bottom line is we have to come to a conclusion on what’s best for the Houston Texans and our football team. That’s the only way we’re going to get to where we want to go, is if we’re willing to sit there and talk to coaches, Rick, trainers, everybody involved. And if we approach each day that way, then we’ve got a chance. We’ve got a good thing going right now; we’ve got a lot of good work going on and a lot of good people doing it, and the players are working hard and we’ve just got to continue in that direction.”

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