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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Shame of the NFL: why won't they help Sick ex-Players?

Again: i don't always agree with Wally Matthews, but he is on point here!
From Newsday

Wallace Matthews
Shame of the league
January 31, 2007

When Tiki Barber retired from the NFL at the end of this season, he did more than walk away from his career at the top of his game. He also walked right onto Gene Upshaw's enemies list.

There is simply no other way to describe the behavior of that spineless mockery of a union, the NFL Players Association, or the attitude of its president, also known as Roger Goodell's -- formerly Paul Tagliabue's -- lapdog, toward its former members.

As exposed by HBO's "Real Sports" last week, and illustrated by my colleague Shaun Powell's heartbreaking column about John Mackey yesterday, once a player is done with the NFL, the NFL is done with him.

This week is the NFL equivalent of Mardi Gras, a week of happy horsecrap about the League That Can Do No Wrong.

But a handful of former players, Hall of Famers all, are not swallowing the Kool-Aid the rest of the country seems to be drunk on. While most of the NFL media is being distracted by the temptations of Super Bowl Week, Jerry Kramer, Harry Carson and Mike Ditka, to name a few, will be speaking truth in a hotel conference room a few hours before Upshaw gets his chance to lie about how great everything is.

They have long known that The Shield, as the players refer to it, is a league that eats its young, and the NFLPA is a union that discards its old. And tomorrow, they want the rest of the world to know it.

As Kramer said, "It will not be a pleasant task. But then, it's not pleasant to talk to Bill Forester [a Pro Bowl linebacker on Kramer's Green Bay Packers teams of the mid-60s] and hear that he's suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia and pneumonia, that he needs a feeding tube to survive, and that he can't get any money from the Players Association to help him."

Nor is it pleasant to consider the case of Willie Wood, a Hall of Famer now destitute, living in a nursing home and needing to rely on a trust fund for retired players set up by Ditka, of all people, in order to survive; or to think about a former New England Patriot, whose name is being withheld to preserve his privacy, living on the street, nor to consider the future of Carson, now 53 and suffering from post-concussion syndrome, the result of at least 15 game and practice-related concussions. Will he be the next John Mackey or Andre Waters?

This is the stuff the NFL never wants to talk about, but especially not now, when everyone is paying attention to what is universally regarded as the world's most lucrative and best-run sports league.

Upshaw did not return a call yesterday, but as he told the Charlotte Observer recently, "They don't hire me and they can't fire me. They can complain about me all day long. But the active players have the vote. That's who pays my salary."

Clearly, there's no help there, so after their news conference, the players will stage an auction of items from their personal collections, many of them prized possessions, to raise money for the thousands of players who can't, or won't, go to the union for help.

"These are proud guys, and a lot of them are too embarrassed to ask for help," Carson said. "But for them to even get to the point where they have to beg for assistance, that really -- me off."

Thankfully, Carson does not need the $700 or so a month his NFL pension would pay him if he applied for it. But it enrages him to think of Herb Adderley cashing an NFLPA check for $126.85 a month -- that is not a misprint -- and it really infuriates him when Upshaw crows about increasing all benefits this year by 25 percent.

"Great, now Herb will get $150," Carson said.

For a league that receives $3.1 billion a year for its television rights alone, it is an incredibly chintzy way to do business. Of the 9,000 retired NFL players, only 144 receive disability benefits and the league has never lost a lawsuit brought by a former player seeking help.

"You really do need to be crawling on the floor to qualify for disability benefits," Carson said. "They just deny, deny, deny, and hope that it all goes away."

Kramer said he hopes the auction will raise between $250,000 and $500,000, with all proceeds to be distributed as soon as possible because "we got guys who need help right away."

The NFL is providing nothing but the hotel room, because to deny the retired players a place to speak out would have garnered even worse publicity than what they will say.

But that is where The Shield's commitment ends.

"They told us they had so many requests for help, they didn't know who to help first," Kramer said. "So they decided to help nobody."

For the NFL, it is business as usual. Profits through the roof. Heads in the sand.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Mike Tomlin - New Steelers Coach Adds Six Assistant Coaches

Mike Tomlin's coaching staff is complete

New Steelers coach adds six assistants

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Mike Tomlin said he wanted assistant coaches who were teachers and shared the same football values he possessed. Apparently, he also wanted coaches with whom he had previously worked.

After spending the past four days in Minnesota, getting his family and house in order, Tomlin returned to the Steelers' offices on the South Side yesterday and officially put his coaching staff in order, announcing the hiring of six new assistants.

Heading the list is former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson, whose hiring as quarterbacks coach was reported last week. He will replace Mark Whipple, who was not retained, and has been entrusted with working with the team's franchise player, Ben Roethlisberger.

Anderson, 57, never worked with Tomlin, but he was the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator with the Cincinnati Bengals when Tomlin was working as an assistant coach at the University of Cincinnati.

But four of the new assistant coaches who signed contracts yesterday worked with Tomlin either in college or in the NFL.

They are:

Offensive line coach Larry Zierlein, who was the offensive line coach at the University of Cincinnati when Tomlin was there. Zierlein, 62, was also the offensive line coach with the Cleveland Browns when Bruce Arians was the Browns' offensive coordinator.

Wide receivers coach Randy Fichtner, who coached with Tomlin at Arkansas State and the University of Memphis. Fichtner, 43, a native of West Mifflin, was offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Memphis the past six seasons.

Assistant special teams coach Amos Jones, who coached the running backs and special teams during Tomlin's tenure at Cincinnati. He coached special teams and outside linebackers the past three seasons at Mississippi State.

Running backs coach Kirby Wilson, who was the running backs coach at Tampa Bay (2002-2003) when Tomlin was the Buccaneers' secondary coach. Wilson was the running backs coach the past two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.

"It's not that we all think the same," Tomlin said. "But [I want] guys who have the base core football values that I have. As coaches, we need to be teachers. Success is built on fundamentals, muscle memory and execution."

The only coach who doesn't appear to have some working relationship with Tomlin is special teams coach Bob Ligashesky, a McKees Rocks native who played at Sto-Rox High School and IUP. Ligashesky, 44, was the special teams coach with the St. Louis Rams in 2005-06 and also spent four seasons at Pitt (2000-03) as tight ends/special teams coordinator.

Jones, 47, also spent one season at Pitt, serving as the Panthers' kicking game coordinator in 1992.

Tomlin interviewed all the assistants last week when he was in Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl practice sessions and indicated they would be hired. The hirings were not announced until yesterday, when Tomlin returned to Pittsburgh.

The addition of Anderson, the Bengals' all-time leading passer and a four-time NFL passing champion, is the most intriguing hire.

After working the past four seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, he was brought in to work more closely with Roethlisberger, who threw an NFL-high 23 interceptions in 2006, ranked 11th in the AFC with a 75.4 passer rating and appeared to struggle with zone coverages.

"We have to be methodical at assembling a staff because that's important," Tomlin said. "It's the people."

In addition to retaining six assistants from former coach Bill Cowher's staff, Tomlin said assistant secondary coach Ray Horton has been promoted to secondary coach, replacing Darren Perry. Tomlin will also retain conditioning coordinator Chet Fuhrman, offensive assistant Matt Raich and defensive assistant Lou Spanos.

With the retirement of running backs coach Dick Hoak, Fuhrman is the only remaining member of Cowher's original staff from 1992.

Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was the team's secondary coach in 1992, but he left after the 1998 season to join the Bengals and did not return until 2004.

John Mackey Still suffering from Dementia, remembers playing days with the COLTS

A Great Article By Newsday's Shaun Powell See my Addition at the end

A constant enemy
Mackey among many with neural scars from their playing days

January 30, 2007

At some point tonight on the Amtrak from Baltimore to Miami, a passenger might feel a gentle tap on the shoulder and see a large man balling a fist, ready to hit him with a bit of nostalgia.

"See this?" John Mackey will say sweetly to the stranger while flashing a striking piece of bling. "This is my Super Bowl ring. I scored the 75-yard touchdown to beat the Dallas Cowboys."

This is what he tells people -- on the streets, in the malls, wherever -- not just because the memory of his thrilling catch in Super Bowl V gives him bragging rights. It's also because, in his condition, the touchdown is almost all he remembers about the past.

And the ring. He wears two of them, actually -- a Super Bowl ring on one hand, a Hall of Fame ring on the other. Always. He sleeps with them. He rarely removes them. Which is why he's taking the train to Miami for Super Bowl XLI and not a flight.

A few years ago, while headed to St. Louis for an autograph signing show, he approached airport screening. Security ordered him to remove the rings and place them in the plastic bins. He refused. They told him again. He said no.

Then he noticed these weren't the same friendly strangers on the street who listened patiently when he told them about the touchdown. That's what dementia does. It makes its victims suspicious and also very protective of their possessions, especially the precious ones.

Therefore, Mackey followed his football instincts, which took him from Hempstead to Syracuse to the NFL and allowed him to cover 75 yards on that touchdown catch and run 35 years ago, when he spun away from the Dallas defense.

He elbowed past security and headed toward the gate. He was then, and still is now at age 65, a firm 6-2 and 240 pounds with giddyap. In his mind, he still was the man who starred for the Colts and revolutionized the tight end position.

It took four security jackets to tackle Mackey. In a post 9/11 world, that was enough for his wife, Sylvia, a flight attendant.

"If he could've gotten away and run down the corridor, they weren't going to catch him," she said yesterday. "They'd have to shoot him. And I'm not going to put him up against that."

So they'll ride the train to Miami to watch his old team, the Colts, play in the title game for the first time since their Mackey-inspired 16-13 win in 1971. The trip will take a while, but it's nothing compared with Mackey's long and draining journey to get financial help from the NFL to cover his soaring medical costs.

His situation is not unique among former players who came before the big salaries, who now pay the physical and sometimes mental price for laying the foundation for a league that generates billions in revenue.

Mike Webster, the great center for those Super Bowl-winning Pittsburgh teams, suffered brain injuries and was homeless before dying five years ago from heart failure. Andre Waters recently committed suicide at age 44 after being depressed, perhaps a result of brain damage after playing 12 years as a hard-hitting safety.

Those are just two examples. One report recently said that of the 7,500 former players covered by NFL disability, fewer than 200 receive football disability benefits. These players must prove their disability is a direct result of football injuries in order to collect. The league estimates it shells out $60 million a year in pension benefits; others say the figure is closer to $15 million.

Regardless, it's a cruel coincidence for Mackey. As an outspoken player, he fought for free agency and benefits at great risk to his career. And where did this sacrifice get him? He was snubbed by Hall of Fame voters until 1992, his final year of eligibility. And the NFL players' union, the weakest in team sports, sits under the thumb of the owners.

For many years after his career, Mackey had thriving business interests and successfully raised a family. About eight years ago, his wife noticed changes. He became forgetful about little things. Then she overheard a conversation in which Mackey told someone: "I don't have a sister." Sylvia pulled him aside.

"You do have a sister."

"No, I don't."

"Are you kidding? You have a sister."

"Well, what's her name, then?"

"That's when I knew something was wrong," Sylvia Mackey said. "He went to a bar once, which is something he rarely did, and began singing karaoke with someone. Then he announced they were taking their act on the road. They were going to Vegas. And he was serious."

His health declined, the bills increased. Sylvia Mackey, a retired fashion model, had to return to work as a flight attendant. They moved from Southern California to Baltimore partly to stimulate his memory. He began spending his days in an adult day care center, where the monthly costs almost equaled his NFL pension.

On a whim, his wife wrote a heartfelt three-page letter to outgoing commissioner Paul Tagliabue, urging him to take action. She told him about John's behavior, which became childlike, and the financial and emotional drain his condition had on the family. She explained how his memory was running on empty, except for the rings and the TD in Super Bowl V.

Tagliabue was moved. Within weeks, the NFL created the Number 88 Plan, named after Mackey's uniform number, which provides up to $88,000 a year for institutional care to former players suffering from dementia.

"I expected his reply to be along the lines of, 'We're working on it, thanks for your letter, good luck,' something like that," Sylvia Mackey said. "Paul felt everything he saw in my letter."

Other events in Mackey's life seem hazy. Only the NFL still registers strongly. Seizing the chance, his wife strategically puts his medicine in a box with an NFL address, which makes Mackey anxious to take it. Because dementia destroys a person's hygiene habits, she also taped a fake sign in their bathroom from the NFL, telling him to wash his face and brush his teeth. She signed it Paul Tagliabue.

"Works like a charm," she said.

Football was his life, and after a brief separation, is back in his life again. He stays sharp by watching video of old games, including the two Super Bowls in which he played. He never tires of the 75-yard touchdown play, or showing the Super Bowl V ring. But football does have company for Mackey's affections.

"Before this disease, John was a person who had a hard time saying 'I love you' to his wife," Sylvia said. "But now I must hear 'I love you' 10, 15 times a day."

She laughed. "I knew something was wrong when he started saying that."

Wow: John Mackey: the greatest Tight End ever (except for maybe Mike Ditka, Kellen Winslow Sr., and a Kid from Boston who wore #89)
I first remember reading about this about two years ago. Can you Imagine him Knocking out TSA agents trying to tackle him to keep him from getting on the Plane??

Seriously: This is very sad that until Sylvia Mackey wrote Tags a letter, there was no special funding to help players with in juries of the brain. Nice that they are doing something now, but it's still not enough. The players from the old days could use a little more help, and Maybe the NFLPA could help out a little more.

SI's Mike Sliver On South Beach, Media Day, and Dog Collars

A pretty funny take by Sil, who's already in Miami for The Super Bowl. You can read it with a click here.

Monte Poole - On The Hiring Of Lane Kiffin, Team Problems, And Divided Raiders Fans

Silver vs. Black: Young Kiffin steps into a Nation divided
Column by Monte Poole
Article Last Updated: 01/28/2007 07:47:40 AM PST

GIVEN THE VOLUME, the content and the heat of the correspondence and back-seat commentary in recent months, ever more divided over the past few days, a civil war rages within the Raider Nation.
There is no timetable for its end, because that's just one more thing the two sides can't seem to agree on.
It's Silver vs. Black, a virtual stalemate, indefinitely.
On the Silver squad are the true believers, merrily chugging Raiderade, swaggering about the land, preaching of their team's impending return to greatness under new head coach Lane Kiffin.
Peace in the Nation is at hand, they insist, because Kiffin is the right man. Give him a year or three and the Raiders will reclaim their rightful place among the NFL elite.
Anyone who dares to disagree is, well, a Raider Hater.
On the Black team are realists, who haven't touched Raiderade in years. Branded by some as infidels, they've examined the team's fall from grace through three coaches and concluded it's practically impossible for a fourth toreverse the momentum of this rolling tide of calamity.
Peace? Not likely in the Raider Nation until high leader Al Davis expresses repentance for past behavior and displays a newfound enlightenment.
Anyone in the Nation who disagrees is still drinking Raiderade and losing sight with each sip.
Thirty years to the month after their first Super Bowl victory, the Raiders find themselves fighting not only to rejoin the league's perennial contenders

but to regain their exalted status. Formerly the bad boys of the NFL, taking what they wanted, the Raiders now have the cachet of road kill.
It's not just the 15-49 record, the worst in the NFL over the last four years. It's not just the profoundly pathetic offense, allowing 72 sacks in 2006, while scoring only 12 touchdowns. It's not just the trapdoor under the coach's seat, Kiffin following Art Shell, who followed Norv Turner, who followed Bill Callahan.
Oakland's greatest loss of all might be the respect it once had. In the sports world. Around the NFL. Within the team. Among marketing executives. Those of us who frequently interact with the Raiders still find ourselves astounded by their zany ways, their paranoia, their misplacement of time and energy; no one was surprised last week when a national publication, The Sporting News, labeled the Raiders the league's worst-run franchise.
That's franchise, folks, not team. Worse now, in 2007, than even the hapless Detroit Lions.
And the Silver squad imagines Kiffin is the man to turn it around. Never mind that he's 31, new to the NFL and was hired not to fix the organization but to call offensive plays.
The organization, Davis believes, doesn't need much fixing.
Which has the Black team rolling its collective eyes. Maybe they remember that Al, upon introducing Turner, described him as a perfect fit for the Raiders. Maybe they remember Al promising a return to the Raider Way under Art Shell. Might even recall that it was Al, at training camp, selling the brilliance of his new offensive coordinator, Tom Walsh.
Moreover, they noticed how the conflict between Shell and wideout Jerry Porter played out over the season — without anyone stepping in to address it from above. They noticed how Randy Moss, the appointed captain, openly expressed his skepticism of the team's direction, even blaming it for his subpar effort — without apparent resolution. They noticed how Shell in November, in the midst of an awful season, tore into personnel man Mike Lombardi — without anyone interceding.
Davis did acknowledge the Shell-Lombardi mess the other day, after introducing his new coach. He referred to it as a "terrible rift," saying it "has to be straightened out."
Davis isn't the leader he once was, though, and his team suffers for it. As do the fans, some of whom remain fiercely loyal, while others long for a day of sweeping organizational change.
There was a time when the Raider Nation stood united behind Al, worshipping at the altar of Silver-and-Black. The Nation was vocal, indivisible and strong as its favorite team.
Such surely was the case in January 1977, when the Raiders collected their first of three Lombardi Trophies. Some of that sentiment applied in 2003, as the Raiders prepared for Super Bowl 37.
But much has changed with the team and its fans. Objective view finds the Raiders disgracing their tradition, finding new and creative ways to stink.
So even as Kiffin steps into Al's machine, the team is suspicious, and the fans rage in debate, one half holding their noses and the other half smelling nothing at all.
Monte Poole can be reached at (510) 208-6461 or by e-mail at

Oakland Raiders Hire Greg Knapp As Offensive Coordinator - Oakland Tribune

Knapp time for sleepy Raiders 'O'
Article Last Updated: 01/30/2007 02:40:16 AM PST

ALAMEDA — The Raiders hired Greg Knapp to replace Tom Walsh and John Shoop as their offensive coordinator, the team announced in a release Monday.

Knapp, 43, spent the past three seasons as offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons. He lost his job when the Falcons fired coach Jim Mora and new coach Bobby Petrino decided against keeping Knapp.

Knapp had the latitude to call plays in Atlanta and also asoffensive coordinator with the 49ers from 2001-03. That won't be the case in his new role.

New Raiders coach Lane Kiffin said in his introductory news conference last Tuesday that his offensive coordinator will "assist me in daily plans and activities." Come game time, the play-calling will be Kiffin's responsibility.

"I'll call the plays for us to make sure that my name's on this franchise, and my name's on this team, and my name's on this offense. That it's run the way I want it to be run, and that it remains a highly explosive offense that is attacking at all times," Kiffin said.

In the team release, Kiffin said of Knapp: "He shares the same vision and passion for what it will take to bring an explosive offense back to the Raider Nation. His history of getting his quarterbacks to play at an elite level is second to none."
Fired coach Art Shell entrusted the play-calling to Walsh and Shoop last season. Walsh called the plays for the first 11 games last season. Shoop handled the play-calling duties the final five games. The results were disastrous.

The Raiders (2-14) scored a league-worst 168 points last season and only 138 of those came offensively. Their offense scored only 12 touchdowns in 16 games, a statistic that managing general partner Al Davis called "unbelievably bad."
Knapp did not return a phone call.

The Falcons led the league in rushing each of the past three seasons. The Raiders finished 29th last season. The Raiders and Falcons ranked 31st and 32nd, respectively, in passing offense last season.

Shoop left the Raiders for the offensive coordinator vacancy at the University of North Carolina earlier this month. Walsh has one year remaining on his contract, and he likely will be kept on as an adviser or released after reaching a settlement.
Knapp interviewed for the Raiders coaching vacancy in 2004 but withdrew his name from consideration once Mora got hired by the Falcons one day later. Knapp followed Mora to Atlanta after spending nine seasons with the 49ers.

Knapp also interviewed with the Cleveland Browns about their offensive coordinator's job but got passed over.

In other news, Kiffin still is awaiting word from former Falcons offensive line coach Tom Cable about an offer to assume the Raiders offensive line coaching position.

Also, Kiffin met with his entire coaching staff for the first time Monday. He likely will make decisions on whether to retain assistant coaches such as Walsh and Jackie Slater in the coming days. Most of the defensive coaches already are under contract, including defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Rumor: Randy Moss Told-Off Coach Lane Kiffin - Oakland Tribune

The Oakland Tribune's Jerry McDonald's scored one, it seems. The ink isn't even dry on new head coach Lane Kiffin't contract, and already, rumors circulate that star Wide Receiver Randy Moss will not talk -- respectfully -- with Lane Kiffin.

The story making the rounds at the Senior Bowl is that Lane Kiffin's first attempt at establishing a rapport with Randy Moss didn't go too well.

Think Shell vs. Porter.

That confrontation, in the office of the head coach some 10 or 11 months ago, was the first crack in the foundation of the Shell regime.

Kiffin, by contrast, supposedly had trouble reaching Moss by phone. When he finally did, as the story goes, Moss told him in a pointed, profane terms he wasn't interested in talking.

It's been reported on a pair of ESPN radio interviews, and a source at the Senior Bowl confirms Kiffin vs. Moss was indeed a topic of discussion among coaches, scouts and personnel men in Mobile, Ala.

It's worth noting that no one has gone on the record with this story as of yet. Like the party game in which a story is whispered in the ear of one and passed down the line until it ends up being something completely different or exaggerated, maybe it's not as serious as it sounds.

But considering the way Moss acted last season, it certainly sounds possible.

The history of the Raiders new coach is that he addresses situations decisively, choosing a course of action then moving ahead, confident in his convictions. That he can sell an idea and is confident enough (some call it arrogant) to make it work.

I've spent the last few days researching and writing a profile on Kiffin, attempting to chart his path from a football savvy youth to, well, an NFL coaching youth. It will run in Monday's ANG Newspapers.

(That's at least part of my excuse for not filing blogs the past few days _ although it should be noted that with Kiffin hired, I won't be filing every day in this forum. Your own thoughts, however, are always welcome).

Family members, as well as friends and colleagues, have the utmost confidence Kiffin is up to handling even the most difficult veteran players.

David Watson, a USC assistant coach who went to high school with Kiffin, said his friend has dealt with all manner of personalities with the Trojans.

John Reaves, a former Florida quarterback who played nine years in the NFL and happens to be Kiffin's father-in-law, said Kiffin will have no problem taking a problem player "to the woodshed.''

Kiffin has two choices with Moss. He can either keep working to make nice, or tell Al Davis that the highest-salaried player on the team threatens to undermine his program before it starts.

If Moss indeed cursed Kiffin right off the bat, he may be doing the Raiders a favor. It's better for Moss to create an impossible situation and attempt to force at trade early than for him to show up, pretend to care, then turn off the spigot at his leisure.

It's possible that to have Moss insubordinate and uncooperative from Day 1 could be the first big break of the Kiffin regime becuase it could spur Davis to get rid of him.

The problem is Davis wants top dollar for top talent, and Moss has been so indifferent his value is at an all-time low.

If Kiffin didn't yet understand what it meant to be head coach of the Raiders at his press conference, he surely does now.

SF 49ers Rumored To Have Talked To Raiders About Joint Stadium - Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross

There's one flaw in this story: teams can't double up on G-3 money from the NFL for a stadium. The pool is limited.

49ers may be looking to team with Raiders on a joint stadium
Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross
Monday, January 29, 2007

Here's the latest twist to the Bay Area's topsy-turvy stadium politics: Word is the San Francisco 49ers have informally approached the Oakland Raiders about building a new home -- together.

The stadium, which would be shared by the two rivals, very well could be in Santa Clara, where the Niners are pursuing new digs next to Great America.

Niners executive Jed York, the son of team owners John and Denise York, said that while a joint stadium idea has merit, there has been no contact with the Raiders on the subject.

"I think it's a good idea, but we haven't gone down that road yet,'' he said. "First we need to work on Santa Clara, and make sure we can actually get a stadium down there.''

That's not what we are hearing from inside the Raiders organization, and from others in the know who have contacts with the Niners.

Those sources tell us John and Jed York approached the Raiders management in a casual setting in the latter half of the football season about the possibility of teaming up.

Raiders chief executive Amy Trask said only, "We are enthusiastically focused on the 2007 football season, and don't believe this is an appropriate time to discuss stadium opportunities. ...We are playing in a nice stadium, which our teams and fans enjoy.''

Wild as it may sound, the economics for a Forty-Raider stadium just could make sense for both teams.

For starters, the 49ers -- after nearly 10 years of trying -- still haven't found a stadium plan that pencils out financially given that football is only played about 10 times a year.

Hooking up with the Raiders for a stadium would instantly double the usage and could make financial sense.

Plus, the teams could get a big boost from the National Football League, which this past season agreed to kick in $300 million to the New York Giants and Jets to build a joint stadium at New Jersey's Meadowlands.

The thinking goes that if the Niners and Raiders could get a similar handout from the NFL -- and that's still a big if -- it would go a long way to helping them get over the stadium money hump.

As for the Raiders, their current 16-year-lease at the remodeled Oakland Coliseum is set to expire in four years -- or about the time the Niners hope to have a new stadium built.

The Raiders, despite upgraded football digs, are still unhappy about playing in Oakland -- but currently have few real prospects for moving out of the area again.

What's more, owner Al Davis -- who only recently was forced to spend a bundle to buy out the unhappy heirs of a silent partner -- doesn't have the cash to build a stadium on his own, sources say. And given his past battles with the NFL, he doesn't appear to have many friends in the league looking to do him any big favors.

"It really may be the one option for the Raiders that makes sense,'' says one NFL insider, who asked not to be named.

I remember Ken Kavanuagh & Roosevelt Brown

The last two years have seen Hard losses to the Giants Family in the way of long time employees of the organization. Mr. Brown Passed away awhile back. Mr. Kavanuagh left us last week. I remember when the Giants held Camp at FDU's Madison NJ campus, and before that at Pace University's main Westchester NY campus. Mr's Kavanuagh, Brown, Current scout J. Davis would set out lawn chairs on thesidelines and watch practices with an acute eye towards the talent they had found. They were always approachable to the fans and media types alike, spending time with fans and such. Kavanuagh was a Football Legend, spending 8 years as a Bears player before and after WW II, before Joining the Giants as an asst. Coach in 1955. From 1971 until he retirement in 1999(at Age 82!!!) he was a fixture in the scouting dept. for the Giants. I once heard him address a small group of fans at camp. "You will always attain your goals if you work hard" he told that group of kids.....Smart man.

Miami Herald's David Neal's Racial Brainwash - Think's It's OK To Hire Lane Kiffin, But Not Mike Tomlin

Here's an example of racial brainwashing, if not outright racism: the Miami Herald's David Neal and his take on Mike Tomlin versus Lane Kiffin. He think's that the Steelers should have hired Russ Grimm because he has more years in the league that Mike Tomlin, and thinks that Tomlin was a Rooney Rule hire. In otherwords, he was selected because he's black and not because he's a good coach who's right for the Steelers.

But this person who to me seems to have some real race issues, can't wrap his mind around the idea that the Oakland Raiders selection of Lane Kiffin -- who had just over a year as offensive coordinator at USC -- was not right and that the Raiders could have hired a young black NFL assistant like Tomlin. He seems to think that the Raiders hiring of Art Shell -- and is blind to their pattern of seeking out young white assistants for their head coaching positions.

How do I know this, because of our email exchange. Apparently, he's fixated on someone being Jewish, whereas I am not. Here's the thread:

Me to Him...

From: zenabraham@aol.com [mailto:zenabraham@aol.com]
Sent: Friday, January 26, 2007 4:56 AM
To: Neal, David
Subject: Mike Tomlin v. Lane Kiffin - Racism In Action


I read your column "All minorities not ready for NFL head coaching jobs" and wondered with what kind of glasses you were looking at the World around you.

You some how and without explaination overlooked the fact that the Oakland Raiders hired a 31-year old-assistant-to-an-assistant of a college program -- and who USC fans wanted fired -- to be a head coach in the NFL, who's white. But amazingly you write a column that dares to question Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin's credentials versus Russ Grimm, and suggest that Tomlin was selected because he's black.

Well, I've written that Kiffin was selected because he's white. See, what is evident in the World around you is that it's ok for someone like Lane Kiffin to be who he is: young, confident, and white and male, but when America's faced with the Black equivalent, they can't handle it. Blacks who don't fit the "black" stereotype are shunned much more often in sports front offices. Whites who are not qualified are picked because -- as Al Davis put it -- he (Lane) is confident.


Why in hell -- it can't be heaven -- did you ignore the Raiders hire of the under qualified Kiffin? This is a hire that comes as "Affirmative Action for Young White Guys" but hey, that's ok, I guess, huh?

Well, it's not OK.

Please have the intellectual courage to really see -- and write -- about problems like these, rather than what was a rather clumsy attempt to maintain the status-quo.

Racism is a terrible thing. It prevents the flow of capital to its most efficient points, and causes people to even think less well that they are capable of doing (This is a proven fact.) Please examine your values and change your thinking to advance society.


Zennie Abraham, Jr.

Him To Me

In a message dated 1/29/07 7:29:48 AM, DNeal@miamiherald.com writes:

Before you ring up the Raiders, let's take a look at that organization:

Headed by a Jewish kid from Brooklyn; hired the first Hispanic head coach (Tom Flores); hired the first black head coach of the modern era (Art Shell, in 1989); hired Shell again last year after he was out of coaching for several years; and are grooming Amy Trask to be the first woman to head an NFL organization.
So, forgive me if I think the Raiders shouldn't be questioned about diversity the way other organizations should be.

But I didn't think of Lane Kiffin because the column was about taking a look at the situations of Rivera and Tomlin and what those situations said about the willingness of organizations to give minority coaches a shot, something the Raiders did long ago. That's all the column was.
Two years ago, I questioned whether the NFL should have the "Rooney Rule" on the theory that if teams want to exclude excellent minority candidates from their hiring pools, let them -- those teams will be dealing with a smaller talent pool and will suffer the consequences, the same way any business in a highly competitive atmosphwere will if they limit their talent pool because of race, gender, religion, etc.

And the glasses I'm looking through are those of someone who has been black in this country for 39 years, married to someone who has been black and Jewish in this country for 48 years (when her parents were married, it was illegal in 36 states); and both who have had a foot in "black America" and in so-called "mainstream America" their whole lives.

Talk to me about racism in this country, pal. I don't have to march on the front lines of that battle. I've been living there.

David Neal
Miami Herald

Me to Him

But out here, where the Raiders are, the tune is different...I'll not soon back off on my position regarding Lane. Plus, tokenism does not make true diversity. You've never been to the Raiders headquarters; I have. Many times.

Plus, I don't see being Jewish as bringing the same baggage. That's a hard call. There are many people of Jewish extention in NFL front offices. Plus, my last name's Abraham....

Also, I'm black.

Finally, given what you wrote about your significant other, it's all the more diappointing that you took the stance you did. It's unreal, really. Why did you do that?


Zennie Abraham, Jr.

Him to Me

Gee, guess I'm not allowed to have an honest opinion that Tomlin's resume wasn't exactly the strongest for being THE hot head coaching candidate among coaches whose teams aren't still playing. And if I'm Pittsburgh, unless there's a huge discrepancy in interviews or something seen over the years from Grimm being in the organization, I'm definitely taking Russ Grimm over Tomlin. Tomlin might be the next Don Shula or Tom Landry. But on the black and white of coaching credentials, Tomlin didn't have as many.

(Another NFL reporter I was talking with minutes ago agreed wholeheartedly, but said, "That's a projection hire. Tomlin's going to be a star.")

And my wife, not always a fan of my writing, certainly understood my point -- when a Hispanic guy would be the hottest head coaching candidate if his team weren't still going and a brother who has one year as a DC for a defense that was overall good but not great gets the job over the entrenched white guy, that speaks well for opportunity knocking.

The Tomlin situation reminded me in a roundabout way of a review of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" in which the reviewer said what's the big deal? Sidney Potier's character was such a good-hearted renaissance superman, Spencer Tracy would've had to have been the grand wizard of the local KKK to reject him as a son-in-law. The reviewer said Tracy's final speech and the movie would've said more had Potier's character been far from perfect. (Speaking well of Potier's ability as an actor, it's fun to imagine "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" but with Potier's character having almost-concealed anger and contempt of Potier's Virgil Tibbs in "In The Heat of the Night").

If you want to call the head coaching hires of Flores and Shell "tokenism" by the Raiders, after both had been players and assistants in the organization for years, OK. Seems rather a rather convenient opinion, however.

I think you meant "Jewish extraction." What's "Jewish extension?" A Long Island blond with a Hasidic curl weave?

Miami Herald


" A Long Island blond with a Hasidic curl weave?" Dd I read that correctly. This is a guy with some massive issues who writes for a large newspaper in a major city, Miami.


Note the text he writes, totally peppered with racial references that make my skin crawl. And this part really pissed me off:

And my wife, not always a fan of my writing, certainly understood my point -- when a Hispanic guy would be the hottest head coaching candidate if his team weren't still going and a brother who has one year as a DC for a defense that was overall good but not great gets the job over the entrenched white guy, that speaks well for opportunity knocking.

The Tomlin situation reminded me in a roundabout way of a review of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" in which the reviewer said what's the big deal? Sidney Potier's character was such a good-hearted renaissance superman, Spencer Tracy would've had to have been the grand wizard of the local KKK to reject him as a son-in-law. The reviewer said Tracy's final speech and the movie would've said more had Potier's character been far from perfect. (Speaking well of Potier's ability as an actor, it's fun to imagine "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" but with Potier's character having almost-concealed anger and contempt of Potier's Virgil Tibbs in "In The Heat of the Night").

See, David Neal's writing that Ron Rivera, the Chicago Bears Defensive Coordinator, wasn't a hot head coaching prospect until the Bears hit the Super Bowl. WHAT A RIDICULOUS TRAIN OF THOUGHT. Rivera was hot last year, but David Neal's not paying attention to that, I guess. All the better for him to cry about blacks and Latino's getting a chance to be head coach.

Plus, he didn't tell his wife about Lane Kiffin. I'd love to see her reaction after she's informed about his selection as the Raiders coach!

See, in David Neal's world, it's jus fine to be a very young and green head coaching selection -- as long as you're white like Lane Kiffin. But Blacks like Mike Tomlin need not apply.

This is an example of the racist media in action. Makes me sick to my stomach.

NY Giants Hire a QB Coach for Eli Manning

My comment at the end of this short piece.....

Giants hire Palmer as QB coach
Newsday Staff Writer

January 29, 2007

The Giants have hired Chris Palmer as their quarterbacks coach. Palmer, 56, has a long NFL coaching resume, having spent last season as the Cowboys' quarterbacks coach after five seasons as the Texans' offensive coordinator.

Most attractive to Tom Coughlin were the two seasons (1997 and '98) Palmer was the Jaguars' offensive coordinator under Coughlin. Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell went to the Pro Bowl both seasons.

Palmer was the Browns' head coach for two seasons, compiling a 5-27 record from 1999-2000.

Ok,..so you know you need a new QB coach for Eli Manning, since you made his former QB coach The Offensive coordinator.
So you go get another ex-head coach and coordinator to be the Kid's QB coach. Chris Palmer has a long resume, true. he's had some success, true. Buit we have to go back to 1999 when he worked in Jacksonville under Coughlin as the Offensive coordinator to see that success(Mark Brunell voted to two strait Pro Bowls) Seems to me Coach Nails is Loading up on ex-head coaches as assistants.....

David Shaw - Why Didn't The Oakland Raiders Look At A Young Black Offensive Mind?

No matter how it's turned, Lane Kiffin, the new head coach of the Oakland Raiders, comes off reading like a college offensive coordinator and not a head coach. His youth is a constant focus, but far less so is how the Raiders have ignored the idea of looking for young black coaching minds.

The Oakland Raiders have NEVER reached out to a young black offensive mind and they're out there. I'm sick to my stomach of this stupid idea that it's OK for young white men to be smart and agressive, but black men in this category are considered a threat.

People point to Lane's father Monte as a good start for him, like Jerry McDonald of The Oakland Tribune.

BUT Hell! Willie Shaw, an African American who was once the defensive coordinaor for the Raiders, has a son David who was quality control coach for several years for the team and is still coaching -- offensive coordinator at Stanford.

HA. Why not hire him? He's probably chomping at the bit about this, don't you think????

Look at his background!

Shaw was a four-year letter winner (1991-1994) at Stanford as a receiver. He was a member of Stanford's 1991 Aloha Bowl team, coached by Dennis Green, and the Cardinal's 1992 Blockbuster Bowl team coached by Bill Walsh. Shaw, whose father, Willie, was an assistant coach at Stanford from 1974-76 and again from 1989-91, caught 57 passes in his Cardinal career for 664 yards and five touchdowns. Shaw spent nine seasons in the NFL before joining Harbaugh as his passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach in 2006. Shaw coached with the Eagles in 1997, Raiders from '98-'01 and the Ravens from '02-'05.

When I bring this up, Raiders fans point to Art Shell, who's become the token hire that makes it OK for the Raiders to continue a pattern -- Davis himself, Madden, Gruden, Kiffin, -- that has an obvious young white male bias.

Sorry, but to me this is a perfect example of what's wrong in our society and how much we do need to change. A study was conducted by labor economist Dr. Janice Madden.

Dr. Madden determined that:

· the black coaches averaged 1.1 more wins per season than the white coaches

· the black coaches led their teams to the playoffs 67% of the time versus 39% of the time for the white coaches

· in their first season, black coaches averaged 2.7 more wins than the white coaches in their first season

· in their final season, terminated black coaches win an average of 1.3 more games than terminated white coaches

· the black coaches inherited teams with an average of 7.4 wins per season and, during their tenures, increased the average wins for their teams to 9.1 per season.

Statistical analysis thus demonstrates that by virtually every objective criteria, black head coaches in the NFL have outperformed their white counterparts. So with this, you'd think that teams like the Raiders would break their pattern of bias, but it's not happened.

Some say that the Oakland Raiders didn't think in terms of color -- but my argument is that they did and its evident in their hiring and interview patterns -- they're hard-wired such that they have an image they want to follow and that's one of a white coach. That's not good. Not at all.

Remember that Art Shell was not the Raiders first coaching choice last year. They went after Louisville Coach Bobby Petrino and didn't get him. They also talked to other coaches who fit the "Gruden" bill in other words young and white -- then settled on Shell as a Raider Legend coming home again. But he was also the only black candidate. It's like the Raiders seem to not want to think of a Black coaching candidate unless he's a Raider legend, but it's OK for whites not to be.

I do wish that they, and other teams in sports, would put an end to this habit. It really does show the World that racism -- institutional racism -- still exists. It is also an example of why a diverse society must be achieved, so that we all know each other as individuals; thus when a position like head coach of the Oakland Raiders opens up, many qualified candidates of all colors are evaluated and the person's picked from that process.

That's the way it should be.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

John Elway - Ex-Denver Broncos QB and NFL Hall Of Famer's Life After Football

This is an inspirational story, but I must add that I think John's realization of just how fortunate he is would come if he were more aware of the presence of the Lord.

Elway drives for another comeback
By John Barr and Ben Houser
Special to ESPN.com

DENVER -- John Elway arrives at work wearing casual business attire, wrap-around sunglasses and a wireless earpiece for his cell phone. He carries a coffee in a cardboard-to-go cup. Looking every bit the manager, and with that familiar gait, the Broncos icon navigates the hallways of the administrative offices of the Colorado Crush, where he's been CEO and part owner of the Arena League team since 2002.

Elway is still in charge, still calling the shots, but the setting is so far removed from where he left us it's hard to miss the stark differences. Arguably the greatest quarterback the NFL has seen, and the most famous sports figure Denver has known, he settles into his office in the bowels of a dog track on the mile high city's industrial north side.

The image is jarring if for no other reason than the way Elway left the NFL stage eight years ago, the last time a Super Bowl was played in Miami. He walked off the field that night the game's MVP, a winner of back-to-back titles, the crowning achievement of a Hall of Fame career. When Elway retired in May 1999, he was the ultimate symbol of a player who left the game on top.

"I think it is always so hard. You bump up to that retirement line and it is dramatic to take that added step 'cause you don't know what is on the other side," Elway says, reflecting on his decision to retire after 16 seasons. "Once you get through football and retire and look back and you are proud of what you did, then all of the sudden real life starts."

In the years following his retirement, real life robbed Elway of two people he held most dear and pushed his marriage of 18 years past the breaking point. Real life losses forced the architect of the NFL record 47 fourth-quarter comebacks to question who he was and whether he had the strength to pick himself up and overcome one more time.

"Athletes are human," Elway says. "So many times we get put on a pedestal. We are still humans that go through emotional times and have tough times happen to us."

In the months after he retired, Elway struggled to fill the competitive void. He turned down TV analyst jobs, preferring instead to coach his son Jack's youth football team. He whittled his way to a one handicap on the golf course. His business dealings had earned him far in excess of anything he made as a premiere NFL quarterback -- the sale of seven car dealerships to Auto Nation in 1997 netted him, at the time, $82.5 million in stock and cash. Elway was rich and, by all accounts, successful. But he wasn't complete. He still needed something to scratch his famously competitive itch. It was just the kind of quandary that led Elway to lean on his father Jack.

"The older I got, he really became a great friend," Elway says of his father. "He was a confidant early and really kind of the guy that I bounced things off."
Jack Elway had been his son's mentor since John's high school days in the San Fernando Valley, when the two would break down John's performance on the field.

"Guys would go to Shakey's pizza parlor and I would go home and talk to my Dad about the football game before I went to Shakey's, 'cause I wanted his opinion to find out how he thought I played and where I could get better," Elway says.

Their relationship continued in college, when Jack was head coach at San Jose State and John played at Stanford. It grew closer in the NFL. John, who refused to play for the then-Baltimore Colts after they drafted him No. 1 overall in 1983, eventually signed with Denver. Jack missed his son by a year at Stanford. He was head coach for five years after John left for the NFL. But the two would reunite in Denver in 1993 when Jack was hired to work in the Broncos' pro scouting office.

"He was a guy that was always there," Elway says. "I mean, his support was unshakable no matter what I did, or how I played, he was always there."

Jack Elway would have delivered the speech to induct his son into the Hall of Fame, but on Easter in 2001, at his home in Palm Springs, Calif., he died of a massive heart attack. He was 69.

"It was a huge, huge shock and it was something that even still it is very difficult to lose him because there were times before I lost him that I thought about what would happen if I lost him," Elway says.

"It was devastating for all of us," says Kathy Hatch, Elway's long-time executive assistant.

Hatch, who met Elway more than 12 years ago through a prayer group she attended with his wife Janet, recalls how much Elway counted on his father for advice.

"John had gone though so much with his dad and his dad was such a mentor for him and just taught him not only about football but about life and how to handle himself," Hatch says. The lessons passed from father to son would be tested far more in the months that followed.

Growing up, Elway always had a strong bond with both of his sisters, but it was his fraternal twin sister, Jana, with whom he'd always shared a special connection.

"We never had an argument, and she was always a great support system and really just another one like my dad, she was just always there for me," Elway says.

In August 2002, just 15 months after losing his father, Elway's sister Jana died of lung cancer. She never smoked. She was 42.

"To see somebody like that & such a great person to be taken away, at that point in time you got to think there is a reason," Elway says.

Michael Young, Elway's close friend and teammate in the late 80s, said Elway struggled to cope with his sister's death.

"Outside, John's always tough enough to put on a good front, but he was just ripped apart inside," Young says. "We talked a lot, and you know it's funny, I remember just going, 'I wouldn't want to be John Elway right now.' I mean, how many people would say you wouldn't want to be John Elway? But at that point in time I said I wouldn't trade places with him for anything."

As Elway tried to move past personal tragedies his marriage of 18 years was crumbling. John and Janet Elway had met at Stanford and become college sweethearts. They'd been toasted for years as Denver's first couple and raised four kids together. In June of 2002, just two months before Elway's sister Jana died, Janet moved out of the couple's home, taking the couple's four children with her.

The Elways reconciled, but in January 2003 John moved out for good and said the couple was divorcing. The events played out in public in the mile-high fish bowl that has been Elway's existence ever since he arrived in Denver.

"I lost Dad, and a year and half later I lost my twin sister Jana … and then a year later there was divorce and it was a boom, boom, boom," Elway says. "I don't know if you ever hit rock bottom. …Really, the pain just doesn't go away."

Elway's resiliency on the football field is most often attributed to his fourth-quarter heroics. But his friends point to another, perhaps more telling statistic. He was sacked 516 times, the most in NFL history. Even at his lowest point, Elway knew how to pick himself up.

"You can either say that you are unlucky and the world is picking on you or you can pick yourself up and say you know what, I have an opportunity to be the best that I can," Elway says.

In many ways, Elway's re-entry into football in June of 2002, as one-third owner of the Colorado Crush, helped rescue him. There was the on-the-field success, an Arena Bowl Championship in June 2005, but for Elway there was also the added comfort of something familiar to finally fill the competitive void. (ESPN recently acquired a minority stake in the AFL, along with TV and multimedia rights.)

"I still get the highs and lows of winning and losing," he says. "The Arena Football League has gotten me as close to that level of the NFL as anything has."

Those who work closely with Elway in the Crush front office see an executive as driven and competitive as he was during his playing days.

"He loves grinding over numbers and he loves to negotiate and he loves to win the game of business," says Young, the team's Executive Vice President.

Elway still owns a Toyota dealership in California and remains busy as a pitchman. He has his own signature line of furniture, co-owns one Denver-area steakhouse and is about to open another in downtown Denver.

"In Colorado and nationally I kid him and tell him the only thing bigger in Colorado is Pikes Peak," says Tim Schmidt, who co-owns the steakhouses with Elway.

Elway is described by his employees as a blunt communicator -- demanding but fair.

"He thinks about things in finance terms and he is aggressive. Failing isn't something that happens," says Tom Moxcey, general manager of Elway's Denver restaurant.

Jeff Sperbeck, Elway's business manager since the early 1990s, says his client has remarkable staying power, particularly at an age when most superstars begin to fade.

"John is not only coveted because of his success and his stature but because of his pedigree," Sperbeck says.

Sperbeck says Elway's corporate partners are often surprised by his business acumen. With an economics degree from Stanford, Elway has stumbled only occasionally in the corporate world -- closing a chain of upscale Laundromats, failing to land an NFL team for Los Angeles and bidding low to buy NHL and NBA teams in Denver. His investment in the troubled online retailer MVP.com remains one of his most highly-publicized setbacks.

Elway's friends say he's emerged from his personal struggles an even better businessman but for Elway there are more important areas for growth. He realizes now that he needs to focus on being a bigger part of his children's lives. With his two oldest daughters, 21-year-old Jesse and 19-year-old Jordan already in college, Elway says he can't get enough time with his 17-year-old son Jack, a standout athlete at Cherry Creek High School, and his 15-year-old daughter Juliana.

"I think there is some guilt there and now all of the sudden your kids are in a broken family," Elway says, reflecting on his divorce.

Elway acknowledges he was often less than engaged as a father during his playing days. Even when in the same room with his children, he says, he frequently "zoned out" on a football game.

"Now I am begging for their time rather then them begging for my time," Elway says.

Determined to help his children lead as normal a life as possible, Elway still lives a short distance from his ex-wife and has been much more involved as a parent. He's a fixture at Cherry Creek athletic events, where Jack is a varsity quarterback.

"I don't want him to live in the shadow and expectations," Elway says.

"He is a junior in high school and in a couple years he is going to be gone, and my youngest daughter is a sophomore and in three years she is going to be gone, so I am really looking at trying to cherish the time I have with them before I don't get to see them every day."

Elway is 46 -- eight years removed from the moment that defined him as a player -- the quarterback who could always come from behind, still working on the most important comeback of his life.

When asked if he's finally found happiness after the years of dealing with personal loss, Elway, never one to be completely satisfied, volunteered he's "a lot further along."

"Being an NFL quarterback helps you become stronger," Elway says. "Even though those punches in the gut they hurt…eventually you are going to battle through it and things are going to be OK."

John Barr is a reporter and Ben Houser is a producer for ESPN's "Outside the Lines."

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Super Bowl Party: Michelle Nunes, Stacey Burns, And Other Hooter Girls From "Best Damm" Confirmed For Bauer's Pure Rush - Miami

See the party video here!

The Hooter Girls that recently and regularly appear on Fox's "The Best Damn Sports" show are confirmed to appear at the Bauer's Pure Rush - Miami Super Bowl Party. Among them is Michelle Nunes (below), who represents the Hooter's Casino Hotel, Las Vegas, and who won the 2006 Hooter's International Swimsuit Pageant held at the Aladdin Resort.

(Check out our Playboy Super Bowl Party coverage with a click here!)

Michelle Nunes competed against 124 girls from countries throughout the world for $150,000 in cash and prizes.

Stacey Burns is the tall, energetic host of a sports talk radio show on ESPN, a student, and of course a Hooters girl. This San Antonio resident describes herself as a tomboy who loves margaritas and explains that it takes only two drinks to get her hammered, "There’s a great bar in San Antonio that makes them with 75 percent Everclear,” she says.

The Hooters is a chain of 425 restaurants in 46 U.S. states and 19 other countries that targets male customers with an all female waitress staff.

The giant Bauer's Pure Rush Party on February 1st starting at The Havana Club at 200 South Biscayne Boulevard, 55th Floor with a buffet dinner and cigar bar from 8 PM to 10 PM, then moving to Brick's at 66 SW 6th Street at 10 PM and going on to 5 AM, is a collaboration between Baeur's Worldwide Limousines and Pure Rush, with Fox Sports Radio, The Havana Club, and Bricks.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Oakland Raiders Cornerback Fabian Washington Happy With Change To Lane Kiffin - SF Chronicle

Raiders turn to fast Lane
REACTION: Oakland players welcome the change
David White, SF Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Raiders cornerback Fabian Washington has not spoken with Lane Kiffin. He doesn't know the coach's birth date, his philosophies on the vertical offense or exactly how he plans to turn around the worst team since 2003.

Here's what Washington does know: For the last two years, Kiffin held the keys to the juggernaut USC offense, and that alone has Washington pumped to get next season started.

"Hey, I'm excited about it," Washington said Tuesday in a telephone interview from his offseason home in Florida. "I hope he can do just half of what he did at USC with us. For what he's done there, I definitely think he can make it happen for us."

A sampling of players shared Washington's anticipation after Raiders owner Al Davis introduced Kiffin, now the former USC offensive coordinator, as Oakland's head coach at a news conference Tuesday.

Yes, Kiffin is only 31. No, he doesn't have NFL experience beyond one year at an entry-level job in Jacksonville, and that was seven years ago.

What Kiffin does have is six years of success working with Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. His time spent with the Hollywood blockbuster known as USC football is buying a lot of advance cred among players.

"I don't care how old he is," Raiders center Jake Grove said. "I just want to win. Mr. Davis thinks that's the one who is going to help us win football games. I'm open to anything.

"Hopefully, he can help bring us back to where we're winning football games again and competing for Super Bowls."

If it seems as if Kiffin is being accepted with no concerns voiced, it's because the players, like many fans, are to the point where they will give someone -- anyone -- a chance to awaken the Raiders from their extended catatonic state.

Today's players don't go on about the rich history of Raiders football, like Davis did during his news conference. They grumble about going 2-14 last season and losing an NFL-worst 49 games in four years.

They clearly are weary of all the losing. If it takes hiring a college assistant who's the youngest coach in the NFL, and the youngest in franchise history, whatever.

If anything, Washington thinks Kiffin's age will help him work with today's players in ways former coach Art Shell, 60, couldn't in his only season back with the team.

"I think he'll be able to relate more with us," said Washington, who just finished his second NFL season. "It's going to be good to get some new energy around here. He's young, but he's been coaching at a high level. It's not like they pulled him out of Conference USA."

He's right: Kiffin comes from the Western Athletic Conference.

Kiffin was a reserve quarterback at Fresno State from 1994 through '96. He gave up playing and joined the staff of first-year coach Pat Hill as a student assistant in 1997.

For two years, Kiffin coached players who, in some cases, were older than he. That experience should help with the Raiders, who had nine players on last year's roster who were born before Kiffin. The majority were in elementary school at the same time as their new coach.

"You could tell right away he was real bright, a real sharp guy," Hill said. "He picked up on things real quick. This is great news for him. He's really on the fast track."

Cal coach Jeff Tedford was Kiffin's quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Fresno State. When Kiffin began interviewing with the Raiders late last week, Tedford was one of three coaches he called for advice.

Tedford, who has been pursued by various NFL teams since coming to Cal, encouraged him to jump at the opportunity.

"He's always had a bright mind and has always been a very dedicated, hard worker," Tedford said. "I think this is a good decision by both sides."

USC coach Pete Carroll said the same about Kiffin, his choice to replace offensive coordinator Norm Chow two years ago.

Though Kiffin clearly benefited from a roster of All-America players every year, Carroll credited Kiffin with putting USC's talent to best use -- something Davis said he must do with a Raiders roster that got limited production from high-salary offensive players Randy Moss, Jerry Porter, LaMont Jordan and Robert Gallery.

"His ability to get the most out of his players has been obvious," Carroll said. "His expertise and the success he's had with our offense will play to the strengths of the Raiders' personnel. It will be exciting to see it unfold."

"Demote Lane Kiffin Blog" A Harbinger Of A Possible Raiders Future

I found this blog called "Demote Lane Kiffin" and created right after USC's loss to UCLA and aimed squarely and directly at Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin, who's now the Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders. It contains some interesting observations which fly in the face of the Raiders assertion that Kiffin's the right man to fix the offense. Here's a taste:

I agree wholeheartedly will all your views about the lame and unimaginative playing we have seen from USC's offensive side of the ball since Chow left. Kiffin has been outcoached since he has been offensive coordinator but was fortunate to have the talent last year to protect him from criticism. He is very inexperienced and is constantly being stopped by experienced defensive coordinators like we saw against UCLA. Like some coaches said after watching the UCLA game , he made no adjustments what so ever. Did he even think about running some outside screens to the running backs or wide receivers or maybe hmmmm I don't know keeping in more people to block so that Booty could find that mismatches that at WR that USC has?!?!? Yeah , I am upset USC lost but more furious on why we lost, poor coaching on the offensive side of the ball and that is not acceptable. Get rid of Kiffin now and insure that USC will remain a power house defensively and offensively.

And take a look here:

Anonymous said...
Thanks for the perspective, but 9 total points in a game is a little different than 9 total points in a half. Don't forget that the 2 superstars were present against Texas and the same play calling did not get it done-review the Texas game and see for yourself. In contrast, Norm's dissection of the Sooners is more than obvious and his adjustments: apparent. We are not saying fire Kiffin because he is not Norm Chow. Fire him because he is far from competent for this offense-if you don't think so watch the last 2 seasons and see the BS calls he consistently makes. Fire him because he is here based on connections and not talent or experience. Fire him because he has proven he is unable to drive this offensive machine. One side of the experiment has been proven: with Kiffin in control and 2 superstars we could not win a championship. With Kiffin in control and 2 superstars gone we could not win a championship. The formula is simple, superior talent + excellent coaching = success 2003-2004. Superior talent + poor coaching = close games and losses 2005-2006. Most likely, Kiffin is not going anywhere and we shall revisit this next year when Kiffin episode 3 comes to fruition.

And finally...

Our wishes and dreams have come true! Lane Kiffin, better than being fired, has been HIRED! Thanks to that genius in the Bay Area, Al Davis, the USC faithful no longer have to worry about inept play calling on offense to ruin our chances at another National Championship.

It looks like Steve Sarkisian will be the big man on Offense. I can live with that for now. We'll see how it goes. Hopefully he's learned more from Norm than Lane did about offensive changes and varied playcalling.

Ahhhh, it's a good day to be a Trojan!

On Radio Show, Norm Chow Criticized Lane Kiffin's Play Calling At USC - Orange County Register

This article has not been widely reported, but is worth reading in light of the Raiders hiring of Kiffin as head coach. Note that Chow says that DeWayne Walker, a black coach and the UCLA Defensive Coordinator, dismantled the USC offense. Makes you wonder why the Raiders didn't talk to him rather than select the underqualified Kiffin..

Chow praises UCLA's Walker, criticizes USC's play-calling
USC football notes: Norm Chow takes a small shot at USC's offensive coaches.

The Orange County Register

LOS ANGELES – Former USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow took a shot at the current play-calling tandem of Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian in an appearance on a Southern California radio show Tuesday.
"I know DeWayne Walker may be better than both of those guys," Chow said on KLAC/570. "DeWayne Walker is a heck of a football coach, which is why I wasn't too surprised he did what he did at UCLA."
Chow worked with both Kiffin and Walker at USC in 2001. Walker's UCLA defense largely dismantled the USC offense in a 13-9 Trojans loss early this month.
Kiffin said Chow's words didn't bother him much.
"Obviously, I worked with the guy for four years and DeWayne for a year, but what someone says about you really has nothing to do with how you go about your work every day," Kiffin said.
USC's play-calling was criticized at times this year, never more than after the UCLA loss. Kiffin points out that the Trojans averaged 30.3 points per game after losing Heisman Trophy winners Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart, plus LenDale White, an NFL tight end and three starting offensive linemen.
USC was third in the conference in scoring behind Cal and Oregon. The Trojans had the same number of turnovers as in 2005 and two fewer sacks.
"I feel very proud of these players," Kiffin said.
USC's biggest recruiting commitment so far this year might have come Wednesday, when Avondale, Ariz., defensive end Everson Griffen announced he would attend USC instead of Michigan or Notre Dame. Both Kiffin and Coach Pete Carroll had visited Griffen, and the coaches made the 6-foot-4, 265-pound athlete their top priority.
Some USC coaches think Griffen is the best player they have yet recruited. The Trojans are working on four consecutive highly ranked classes. Griffen ran the 40 in 4.55 seconds.
USC also has a commitment from Tucson, Ariz., offensive lineman Kristofer O'Dowd, meaning it snatched two top recruits from the back yards of conference rivals Arizona and Arizona State.
Freshman safety Antwine Perez has filed paperwork to transfer and has left the team, Carroll said. Perez is back home in New Jersey, and there are reports he is trying to transfer to Minnesota.
Freshman Taylor Mays was picked to start ahead of Perez, who also was blocked by sophomores Kevin Ellison and Mozique McCurtis.
Carroll spoke with both Perez and members of his family.
"He's looking for a better opportunity to play," Carroll said. ...
Mays was wearing a cast on a swollen hand Wednesday and was scheduled to have precautionary X-rays. Carroll said he should be OK. ...
Junior defensive end Lawrence Jackson said his decision to return for his senior year might have been different if he hadn't gone the first eight games of this season without a sack.
"It could have been different, but it didn't happen," Jackson said.

Profootballltalk.com - Did NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Get Involved In Steelers Hiring Of Mike Tomlin?

This comes from Profootballtalk.com. If it's true that Goodell did get involved by suggesting to Rooney that someone like Tomlin be the choice, I so wish hed done that in the case of the Oakland Raiders, who hired the way, way underqualified Lane Kiffin and mainted a kind of affirmative action for young white guys. Notice how none of the white male media types are screaming about this, but they are focusingg on Tomlin?

January 23, 2007


As the media continues to try to understand the process that resulted in conflicting reports regarding whether the Steelers would hire Mike Tomlin or Russ Grimm to be the team's next head coach, the hot rumor at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama (where various league types currently are gathered) is that Grimm was indeed offered the job before it went to Tomlin.

As the story goes, the Steelers called Grimm on Saturday and told him not to believe what the media was reporting about Tomlin. Then, the Steelers and Grimm negotiated a contract, and Grimm was told that he could tell his family that he was the guy, which he did.

But then, as the story goes, Commissioner Roger Goodell got involved and suggested to Steelers chairman Dan Rooney that it would be nice if the Steelers would hire one of the minority candidates, given that the Rooney Rule was named after him. Rooney relented.

On Sunday morning, Rooney met with Art II and Kevin Colbert and told them about the decision. Both initially disagreed because a deal had been done with Grimm. But the contract hadn't been signed, and Art II and Colbert deferred to Dan.

Grimm was then told about the decision, and he was obviously pissed. But, to date, he has been discreet regarding his displeasure, presumably because he plans to continue working in the industry that has only 32 job locations. Tomlin was then called on Sunday afternoon, and he was informed that he was the guy.

One source told us that he has been hearing this rumor "all day" in Alabama. Though we're not saying that any of this actually happened, the mere fact that this story is making the rounds at the Senior Bowl is newsworthy, in our opinion.

Especially since the events that transpired on Saturday night and Sunday were so damn bizarre.

Meanwhile, a reader tells us that Mike Prisuta of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has been insisting in radio appearances that his story linking Grimm to the job was on the money. Though we poked fun at Prisuta's predicament on Sunday, it could be that he was right, after all.

Is NY Jets Hall of Famer Curtis Martin Calling it Quits?

Martin's time to go draws near Will He or Won't he?????
Newsday Staff Writer

January 26, 2007

The question for Curtis Martin now appears to be when rather than if.

The future Hall of Fame running back, who last carried a football for the Jets more than a year ago, has been grappling with his decision to retire since having surgery on his right knee in December 2005. Yesterday, speaking as a recipient of the Thurman Munson Award for excellence in competitive and philanthropic work, Martin made his most definitive statements regarding the end of his playing career.

"I believe that we're going to wait until afterwards so we can sit down and brainstorm on when the best time is for myself and for the team," Martin said, regarding the front office's involvement with the Senior Bowl and Super Bowl. "We'll probably follow up after that. I'm just not really sure right now."

Martin said he is looking forward to broadening his involvement in philanthropic endeavors once he has officially closed the book on his playing career. He said he has put aside 12 to 15 percent of every paycheck he has earned in the NFL for his self-funded foundation that helps the homeless, single mothers, inner-city children and others.

"While I was playing, I wanted to keep football as my focus and do what I could off the field when time permitted," he said. "Now that that moves to the forefront and football seems to be somewhat behind me, I believe you'll see more of what I've been doing and what I am planning to do."

On Tuesday he will accept the Munson award along with Patrick Ewing, Carlos Delgado, Rich Gossage and Mike Mussina.

Martin ran for 14,101 yards, fourth most in NFL history. He spent the past season on the physically unable to perform list. Earlier this month, Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said Martin is projected to be on the 2007 roster when the league year begins from a salary-cap and contract standpoint, so a retirement announcement might not come until then.

And my Slant:
So why All the Hush Hush "were gonna wait" line? We Knew at the end of July 2006 that Curtis probably wasn't coming back, regardless of my Posts from that time frame, and what he said at that time. We Knew and saw that Curtis could only walk normally with a supportive brace on his knee. At least he has admitted that he won't be suiting up anymore. Hey, the guy is nothing but a class act who will be truly missed on the NY football scene. Hopefully he lands a job on one of the local cable outlets doing Jets Coverage(is anyone at Sports Net NY, Fox Sports NY, or MSG reading this??? GIVE The MAn A JOB(since none of you will give me one!!!!)

Eli Thinks NY Giants Can Play in the Superbowl

Eli thinks Giants can make Super Bowl Look for my End Commentary........

Newsday Staff Writer

January 25, 2007, 9:38 PM EST

Eli Manning was on the field at the RCA Dome on Sunday. He was happy for his big brother, who finally got to a Super Bowl. But the Giants quarterback felt something else, the same thing he'll feel next week, when he will be in Miami attending NFL events but not preparing for the Super Bowl.

"I'm going to enjoy the time and when it comes time for next year I'll know what that feeling is. I'll know that I don't want to be shaking hands and [having] people come congratulate me about Peyton and what he's doing," Eli Manning said on a conference call Thursday. "I want to be on the other side and not have to be down in Miami going to events and things like that. I want to be in the hotel studying film and getting ready to play for a championship. I think I'm going to enjoy it, just because I'm proud of him and I support him."

The next nine days are all about the Colts and the Bears, but Eli doesn't think his Giants are so far removed from being in the thick of a Super Bowl hunt. Even with Kevin Gilbride, his only quarterbacks coach in three seasons, now the offensive coordinator; even without a QBs coach currently on the staff and even with Tom Coughlin's one-year mandate to turn things around, Eli has some faith.

"We have the right players in spots that we can do some good things," he said. "To make it to the championship ... everything has to go the right way. You have to stay healthy. You have to get breaks and things go your way. We have to work harder. We have to work smarter."

That Eli will be in Miami in the week preceding the Super Bowl is a bit ironic, considering that is where his top two receiving targets, Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey, race down to every offseason and don't return save for the three days of June minicamp and for training camp in August.

Burress' wife, Tiffany, just gave birth to the couple's first child in New Jersey, so Burress may stick around up north for a bit. But Manning is looking for both his playmakers to make more of an effort before they're required to be on hand.

"I think there comes a time when you should get together," Manning said. "I don't think it has to start March 19 and you have to be with those guys right then, but once you start -- before minicamp or those things start up -- you get some time together. You get a few weeks to really work hard and get settled. Once you start throwing routes and get into our offense and running those plays, I think it can definitely be important to have guys around to throw with."

OK so that's ANOTHER veiled shot at Plaxico and J-Shock, but in a nice sort of pleading way " oh Come On guys we need to work out more together if we wanna get to the big game next year." I Guess I can understand that, but these U Miami guys value the fact that they can go work out at their old school without reporters snooping around and they aren't too quick to give that up. Eli wants to win as much as anyone. I know the other do do as well,..but as long as only part of the offseason program is mandatory according to the NFLPA, then what Plax said at the end of the Giants season will hold true " See you in Albany"........

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Scouting report: East west Shrine game

Lots of had work was the earmark of last week's workouts leading up to the Shrine game. Once again the Scouts outnumbered the players over 2 to 1, with well over 200 scouts in attendance from all the NFL teams, as well as the various independents. The Players got the chance to learn from some of the greatest coaches ever to walk the sidelines in Head coaches Don Shula and Dan Reeves. Coach Shula also had Fla. Atlantic Head coach Howard Schnellenberger as his Offensive Coordinator.Players got the chance to workout in the Houston Texans indoor facility.

Some of the names you will hear in the coming weeks:
East Squad

Zak DeOssie-LB-LS Brown University. Zak has the Lineage thru his dad, former Giant and Cowboy Steve DeOssie. He can lack fluid motion at times, but has good size, and very good speed and spot on in snaps. I got to see Zak Play In person this season Vs. Columbia and he has the ability to change the direction of an opposing teams' play.

Daren Stone-DB-Maine- A hitter who knows his position on the field. Could use some improvement on his coverage work.

Daniel Bazuin-DL-Central Michigan- Always on the move in the direction of the ball, a hard worker who had 2 sacks and several tackles in the game.

Tyrone Moss-RB- U Miami- Rising stock as he heads towards the combine in late Feb. Looked good in the workouts, working on getting his weight down.

West Squad

John Beck-QB-BYU- could be the biggest riser of all the QB's in this class. Had a 79 Yd TD pass to Fresno St. WR Paul Williams in the game.

Brad Lau- FB- Boise St.-Good soft hands, very good footwork, can run and catch well. Was the featured back on Coach Reeves first drive, Including the first TD. Would also make a good Move/swing TE in the right scheme.

Melvin Bullitt- S-Texas A&M- Good tackling skills, nice range, big hitter against the run.

Justin Medlock-PK-UCLA- A cannon for a kicking leg, good placement, strong on both kickoffs and Field goals.

Underclassmen improve the 2007 draft.

Every year we decry the fact that juniors are allowed to enter the draft, yet we all know they improve the quality of the draft class.
Wide receiver is one position that will be helped in this years class by the added presence of four underclassmen: OSU's Ted Ginn jr., Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson, USC's Dwayne Jarrett, and Tennessee's Robert Meachem. All should be first or high second rd. selections.

At RB, a unusually weak class will be bolstered by Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson, and Californian Marshawn Lynch.

This is also a weak overall class at Offensive line, except for Levi Brown of Penn State, and Joe Thomas of Wisconsin, both Tackles,
although their may be some late risers from the Seinor Bowl, Combines, and private workouts, I don't expect too many OL's to be called in round one right now. We will talk more about the Senior Bowl and the defensive prospects early next week.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Neil Best - Boomer Esiason Is Upset With New England's Belichick Over Coach's Behavior After Loss To Colts

Lowering the boom on Bill - Neil Best - Newsday
January 23, 2007

Whatever you think of him as a TV analyst, there is one thing that consistently makes East Islip's own Boomer Esiason stand out from the pontificating pack: He thinks and talks like one of us!

That was evident late in Sunday's 8-hour gridiron gala, when he reacted to the strangest moment of a long TV day and night.

A seemingly nervous Solomon Wilcots had just attempted to conduct an interview with losing Patriots coach Bill Belichick and elicited only two terse non-answers.

Back to the CBS studio! Esiason threw up his arms, shook his head and said, "What was that?"

It was a nationally televised reminder that for all his brilliance, Belichick is not a particularly nice fellow, and is especially hopeless around journalists -- who, like it or not, are a conduit to fans.

Yeah, we know. Any fan would gladly take a nasty coach over a sweetheart if it means three rings in four years. But all else being equal, is there anything wrong with being, say, Tony Dungy?

Sometimes it's helpful to remind the paranoid coaching tree of (please, stay retired) Bill Parcells that helpfulness with the media -- remember: conduit to fans! -- and winning are not mutually exclusive.

Nine years ago, Dungy earned the Pro Football Writers of America's Horrigan Award for cooperation with reporters. Peyton Manning was nominated for it in 2004.

Belichick? Well, at least this week he didn't assault a photojournalist en route to barely acknowledging Manning after the game.

Anyway, Wilcots' encounter with Belichick capped a generally solid day of work from the No. 1 teams from Fox and CBS.

One Fox quibble: Neither Troy Aikman nor Joe Buck commented on the Saints' Reggie Bush pointing at Brian Urlacher as he ran toward, then flipped into, the end zone. The Bears were not amused.

On CBS, Phil Simms and Jim Nantz were their usual cautious selves about second-guesses or criticisms; it would have been interesting to see how they handled Manning if he had not rallied the Colts.

It never came to that, of course, but as of halftime, the bluntest opinions on Manning came from Esiason, who repeated a line he used on a conference call Wednesday:

"If he turns this ball over [again], he is going to have to buy a house in A-Rod's neighborhood, because that's where he's going to belong -- all the money, all the stats and no championships. So a lot of pressure on him."

Tough, but true. One half later, the world had turned and Belichick was the one who looked bad.

Esiason saw the tape of the Belichick interview seconds before it went on the air; he wished he had had more time to discuss it on CBS' brief postgame. He did so on the phone yesterday.

"I was pretty disgusted with Belichick," he said. "I've interviewed him on my MSG show. It's hard. It's really hard. I don't think he does it on purpose. I just think he doesn't know any better. I just thought it was unprofessional."

Esiason left a message Sunday night for Wilcots, a former teammate on the Bengals.

Among other things, he said, "I'm surprised you didn't strangle him."

Grid bits

The AFC and NFC title games attracted audiences that will make them the most viewed shows of the TV season thus far, surpassing the first two episodes of "American Idol." The AFC on CBS drew 28.1 percent of households in large markets; CBS did not release national figures, but that number will fall a bit when they do. The NFC on Fox drew a 25.1 national rating and 43.2 million viewers ... Even Eli Manning believed the penalty against the Patriots for roughing his brother Peyton on the Colts' winning drive was a bad call. He said so on Michael Kay's ESPN 1050 show ... The race to hire Tiki Barber has taken a turn, with him now leaning toward NBC over early favorite ABC/ESPN, a person familiar with his thinking said. A deal is unlikely until after the Pro Bowl ... The current HBO "Real Sports" has a report on disabled former NFL players and efforts to get help from the league and/or union. "The players today are the worst-represented union in all of sports," Mike Ditka says.

Sound bites

MSG's coverage of Friday's Knicks-Nets game drew 1.72 percent of households, compared with 0.65 on YES ... TV pros long have tried to translate hockey to a small screen, with Peter Puck to glowing pucks. Now this: Rail Cam. Versus showcases it for the All-Star Game tomorrow; it's a camera that runs on a rail above the glass. Worth a try ... CBS and DirecTV extended DirecTV's deal to show out-of-market NCAA Tournament games. But the big question is whether Major League Baseball will, as many expect, sell out-of-market rights exclusively to DirecTV, cutting out cable customers. An MLB spokesman said nothing is final despite a report in The New York Times that a deal is near ... Derric Rossy, a heavyweight out of Medford, fights Eddie Chambers on Feb. 9 at Suffolk CC on a card to be

Hooter Girls Are Coming To Bauer's Pure Rush Super Bowl Miami!

Yep. You saw it here! The Hooter Girls are coming to the Bauer's Pure Rush Super Bowl Party in Miami.

You can enjoy them, er, their look...Ah, the fact that they're around. If you come to Miami for the party. Makes logic to me!

NFL, Union Reach Deal on Drug Testing

NFL, Union Reach Deal on Drug Testing Finally! see my end notes
AP Football Writer

January 24, 2007, 12:44 PM EST

NEW YORK -- The NFL and its players union have agreed to more extensive testing for performance-enhancing drugs and have added the blood-boosting substance EPO to the league's list of banned substances.

The agreement, announced jointly Wednesday by the league and union, also adds to the financial penalties for players suspended for using those drugs. Players suspended for using steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs will forfeit a prorated portion of their signing bonuses.

Signing bonuses often are the only guaranteed portion of a player's compensation.

In addition to the new test for EPO, the deal includes an increase from seven to 10 of the number of players on each team randomly tested each week during the season for steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. That means there will be 12,000 tests each season, up from the current 10,000.

"It is important that the NFL and its players continue to be leaders on the issue of illegal and dangerous performance-enhancing drugs in sports," said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. "These latest improvements will help ensure that we continue to have a strong and effective program. As we have done in the past, we will review and modify the policy on an ongoing basis."

The enhancements to the drug policy have been pending for almost six months -- from about the time Goodell succeeded Paul Tagliabue as commissioner. The league and union began negotiating on additional tests and substances in September, but didn't reach agreement until this week.

Those discussions followed congressional reaction to a story in the Charlotte Observer on steroid prescriptions given to Carolina Panthers players by a South Carolina doctor during the 2003 season, which ended with Carolina losing the Super Bowl to New England.

One provision of the agreement increases the unpredictability of random testing during the season and offseason, making it harder for players using performance-enhancing substances to regulate their usage because they won't know when they might be tested.

EPO, which provides users more stamina by increasing their number of red blood cells, is used primarily by long-distance runners and cyclists. That testing will begin this summer when teams go to training camp.

The program also includes additional use of carbon isotope ratio testing on a random basis to detect for doses of testosterone. All players now will be subject to those tests, previously used only to confirm positive tests.

The NFL also agreed to a $500,000 grant to the UCLA Olympic testing laboratory and other researchers for further testing on HGH -- human growth hormone. The league also will establish a group to study issues related to HGH.

In addition, the NFL Youth Football fund, endowed by both the league and union, has approved a $1.2 million steroids education fund at the Center for Health Promotion Research at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in Portland, Ore.

So we are finally TRYing to get a bit Tougher on players who THINK they can fool the doctors. Only 10 Players ramdomly tested? up from 7??? Thats just Crazy. how about Half the roster each testing visit?? How about if one positive test on a team,..pull the whole team in?? The updated fines are good though.....a good start.

A Little More on Minority Hiring In Football

A Little extension on Zennie's Impassioned Plea from the other day. See My take at the end.

Johnette Howard
Time to get schooled on college hiring
January 24, 2007

When Chicago's Lovie Smith and Indianapolis' Tony Dungy meet with thousands of reporters in Miami next week and field questions about being the first two African-American head coaches to take their teams to the Super Bowl, it would be terrific if both men used the platform they'll have to steer the conversation away from the NFL, and toward college football's most outrageous, longest-running disgrace.

Did you know of the 119 NCAA schools that play Division I-A football, only six head coaches are African-American - one fewer than the NFL had last season despite having only 32 teams?

If that weren't already shameful enough to the NCAA, the NFL has progressed to a point where it has retread black coaches. They are Dennis Green, Art Shell, Herman Edwards and even Dungy, if you want to call him that, for the way Indy hired him after Tampa pushed him aside for Jon Gruden.

Though Green and Shell left their teams in the past month, the last two weeks still have been progressive ones for the NFL. In addition to Smith and Dungy's Super Bowl breakthroughs, the Giants made Jerry Reese their first African-American general manager and the Steelers selected 34-year-old Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin as their first African-American head coach.

College football's numbers are an outrage, by comparison. While the NFL's progress is directly traceable to the concerted push the league has made in the last decade since its passage of the Rooney Rule on minority hiring, NCAA schools - a notoriously fractious bunch - have plodded along rather than seriously consider an obvious question:

Would some version of the Rooney Rule - in which NFL teams are required to interview minority candidates - work for them?

Eugene Marshall Jr., deputy athletic director at the United States Military Academy at West Point and president of the board of directors of the Black Coaches Association, says the excuses the BCA hears about the lack of minority hires remain the same year to year: "There's not enough people out there ... The pool is weak ... They don't have enough experience ... They've never been a head coach."

"But I can tell you," says Charlotte Westerhaus, the NCAA's vice president of diversity and inclusion, "the lack of hiring is not happening because of a lack of qualified minority candidates."

So what is the holdback?

A few things, it turns out.

"What it really comes down to are schools' funding people and alumni," Marshall said. "Will fundraisers hire people [of color] to run these places where they spend their money? And in some cases, the answer is still no. We are seeing progress. It's just been far slower here."

For the past three years, the BCA has issued an annual Minority Hiring report card for college football's top two divisions to put a greater spotlight on the problem.

The BCA isn't demanding that minorities be hired for every college head coaching position. In the spirit of the Rooney Rule, what the BCA asks is that minorities be considered as head coaching and athletic director candidates, that minorities are included on the search committees that hire them, things like that. And, Westerhaus says, the NCAA leadership supports and works toward the same goals.

But one difference between the NCAA and NFL is significant: NCAA schools have no hammer hanging over them, while the NFL's Rooney Rule has teeth. The Detroit Lions were fined $200,000 when general manager Matt Millen ignored the league's directives and hired Steve Mariucci.

While Marshall believes accountability is needed in the college ranks, Westerhaus disputes the notion - advanced by the BCA, among others - that the fear of penalties is why the NFL is hiring more minorities more quickly. Westerhaus argues that the NFL's progress is traceable to making the hiring process itself "more and more inclusive" rather than "penalties, penalties, penalties - that's not why the Rooney Rule works."

Oh? It's hard not to notice how the NFL has changed since the Rooney Rule came along while the NCAA has made only glacial progress by urging its schools to do the right thing.

Westerhaus goes on to point out that even if the NCAA regarded penalties as important, getting some binding standards adopted would be extremely difficult because all member schools autonomously set their own institution-wide hiring practices.

But look: Exceptions have been made before. All universities set their own academic honor codes, but the NCAA has approved mechanisms to take back bowl money and scholarships when athletic programs cheat. The NCAA already has passed measures in which member schools can lose athletic scholarships if their sports programs don't meet a list of criterion that include acceptable graduation rates.

Why can't or shouldn't the hiring of minorities be treated with the same import? Why haven't incentives or penalties even been put to a vote?

College sports haven't been held to the fire nearly enough on minority hiring.

The sight of Dungy and Smith taking a stand in the next two weeks would be a sensational boost.

Minority report

Six of 119 head football coaches in Division 1-A are black (5%)

Coach School

Sylvester Croom Mississippi State

Karl Dorrell UCLA

Turner Gill Buffalo

Ron Price Kansas State

Tyrone Willingham Washington

Randy Shannon Miami

Six of 32 head coaches in the NFL are black (18.8%)

Coach Team

Romeo Crennel Cleveland Browns

Tony Dungy Indianapolis Colts

Herman Edwards Kansas City Chiefs

Marvin Lewis Cincinnati Bengals

Lovie Smith Chicago Bears

Mike Tomlin Pittsburgh Steelers

and my feelings on the subject: Zennie and I have been going back and forth the last day+ about this. I agree with Both Zennie's Prior post regarding the Raiders' Most recent Hire, and in general that Minority Hiring Practices In the NFL, NCAA, and several other Sports governing bodies are far behind the times. However, most of what Ms. Howard says in this piece above also makes sense. In college, the people holding the purse strings don't always want to embrace change, even if it's the right thing to do. I'm lucky enough to work for one of the Nicest, Smartest football people i ever met. He also just happens to be an African American. But NYC is ahead of the curve on such things, in both the public and private sector.
I also feel that it shouldn't be "Equality" for some, it should be Equality for ALL....
And Yes: there are PLENTY of Capable Minority assistant coaches at the College level(and High School) who are qualified to be head coaches.

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