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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Off to Super Bowl XL!

On Thursday, I'm off to Super Bowl XL (that's 40 for you who don't know Roman Numerals) -- my fourth Super Bowl. Look for this blog space for updates and copies of interviews with key participants in what should be a terrific Super Bowl. My predicition is Seattle 27, Pittsburgh 14.


I guess deep down, as well as the Steelers have done over the last part of the season, and of course the NFL Playoffs, it's hard for me to absorb the idea that they're that good. I think it's that they play with such an "in your face" emotion that a part of me hopes they meet their match. That just came out of my head, through my fingers, onto the typewriter, and into this blog.

The other part is that I like the way the Seahawks approach the game. It's more clinical.

So this is not an approach I would use in Las Vegas. Don't pay any attention to me from the emotional perspective.

Now, the intellectual perspective says this: take Seattle and the points. Pittsburgh's advantage -- the constant ability to say "the whole World's against us" -- has been removed. They can't use that as a claim, and Seattle can in a modified way.

I also believe Seattle presents a test they've not faced this year: a version of the true Walsh Offense. Now, before you say "Denver," my response will be that many of the classic signature approaches that are common to that offense are not used by the Broncos. The style of drop that the quarterback takes, the use of three - step -drop passes, the timing of the passing system. It looks like a version of the Walsh offense that was learned by someone with their own idea that they installed. As a result, the "signature" of that offense is totally different -- and less able to attack the kind of 3-4 that the Steelers play.

A Bunch of Parties

The game aside, I plan to go to only a few select parties and pace myself. I can't see spending a lot of money to attend a party. Let's face it, it's all the same: music , drinks, and people. Folks milling around looking at other folks, then going on to another party after they're board with that one.

No thanks. I'd rather hang out at the NFL Headquarters Hotel...I can do all of the same and see a gaggle of celebrities without spending any money at all.

That's the plan.
Super Bowl XL -- Monday, January 30, 2006

(On the decision to limit QB Ben Roethlisberger’s media availability during the week) “I’m really not too involved in that. I know we just tried to limit Ben’s access this week so I think it was just the way it is. You’ll have plenty of chances to talk to him throughout the course of the week. That was just the way it unfolded.”

(On reaching the Super Bowl 10 years ago and having an appreciation for how difficult it is to reach this point ) “There’s no question. We’ve been close many times, having lost a few AFC Championship games and so certainly I think you cherish the opportunity that you have coming here and you try to relay that to the players. I think the fact that they were as close as this group of players was last year and went through the disappointment of the home playoff loss against New England I think is very fresh in a lot of memories and recognizing that you can get close but the disappointment is still very real and very vivid. To be honest with you, the only game that you ever really remember is the last game you play. I think we recognize the opportunity that we have and look forward to making sure we prepare and keep the priorities in line this week.”

(On telling all of the players on the roster that they can be a big impact in the game) “I think it’s true in any game. We talk about it all of the time that there are probably four or five plays in a game that will have tremendous influence on the game and it’s hard to say when that play is going to present itself so we’ve talked about finishing plays, doing the little things and playing with great effort. I think with our football team, we really don’t rely on any one element. I think that’s the thing that’s been very evident throughout the season that each week has been a different guy that’s stepped up. The biggest thing is going through the preparation and understanding that you never know how a game is going to unfold and playing hard on every play and making sure you know what you’re doing on every play is at least going to give you an opportunity to be a part of one of those four or five plays that tremendously influence a game.”

(On the origin of showing his emotion on the sideline) “You’re talking about all of these negative images that you have of me but I smile a lot, too. The cameras only show when you’re mad. It’s nothing that’s planned or premeditated. I like to think it’s an emotional game that’s played with a lot of passion; I like to see our players play that way. Obviously at times maybe my emotions get the best of me but you have to be yourself, that’s the most important thing. You can’t be anything more than that. I really don’t give much thought to what takes place during the course of a game, I’m as much involved in it as the players are. Sometimes you agree with a call, sometimes you don’t agree with a call. Sometimes you love a play, sometimes you don’t like a play. It’s an emotional game and I love it. It’s three hours of fun.”

(On the demands of the schedule and how the team will prioritize this week) “Again, we talked about this with the players. We had an extra day off last week, we didn’t start until Thursday just to make sure that the players were involved with their families and just all of the logistics of getting them here and what that entails. We had Thursday, Friday, Saturday morning. We had three good days of work, and came here today. We came here today and got acclimated to the Silverdome and where we’ll be meeting and practicing. I think the biggest thing when we talk to these guys, not just Jerome (Bettis), with everybody, is that when we come here there will be a lot of demands on many of these guys but to come here and prioritize things and try not to get out of the routine that they have and just understand that Wednesday, Thursday, Friday is just like a regular game. I think they understand it. Like we talked about, to get here is one thing, but don’t mistake what we’re here to do. I think the priorities of a lot of the veterans on this team that have filtered down, understanding that getting here is one thing, but the most important thing is that we focus and get ourselves prepared because we’re playing a very good football team. These guys (Seattle) didn’t win 15 games for nothing. They have a good offense, as good as we’re going to play this year, an opportunistic defense, fifth against the rush, these guys lead the league in sacks. We are going to have to play our best football game and to take anything away from that is going to not allow us and give ourselves the best chance to execute on Sunday. I think we understand the opponent that we have and where our priorities need to be.”

(On what strikes him after watching Seattle on tape) “They play with great speed. You look at it and there’s no question that from the time they break the huddle to the time they snap the ball there’s an upbeat tempo that they have. Matt Hasselbeck is in control of that offense. They have the league MVP in Shaun Alexander and probably one of the best offensive lines in

Super Bowl XL -- Monday, January 30, 2006
football. There’s no question that the offense is one that’s a very quick-tempo, upbeat offense that we have to try and find a way to get a little bit of disruption in there and not give them the big play. They’ve got some big-play players on that team and when that thing gets rolling, (Matt) Hasselbeck runs that offense as well as any quarterback runs an offense in the league.”

(on Casey Hampton’s consistent season) “A couple of years ago he went to the Pro Bowl and he really played very well. Last year unfortunately he got hurt in the fourth or fifth game of the season and he came back this year. You look at Casey and Kendall Simmons as two guys who came off of ACL’s and had solid years. But Casey has been so solid for us. He’s kind of the rock in the middle of that defense and he’s a guy that uses up two blockers, he’s got great balance, he can still go sideline to sideline and has a good feel for the game and understands what teams are doing to him. He’s a very steady, consistent player and he’s going to another Pro Bowl this year and he’ll have a lot of sacks but I think when people watch him on tape they’ll see how good a football player he is and how important he is to our defense.”

(on his Pittsburgh roots, representing the Steelers for so many years and the meaning those two play into winning a Super Bowl) “I’d like nothing greater than to be able to hand Mr. (Dan) Rooney the trophy. There’s nothing more of a driving force than that. He’s been very supportive of me. He’s been there and we’ve been so close but yet we’ve not been able to do that. That to me would be very gratifying personally and I think obviously for our coaches and players, as close as they’ve been, to say that one year we were really special, is the way to cap it off. Coming back, every coach goes through the year and there’s only one team who’s really happy at the end of the season and that’s a true statement. Certainly we’ve had our fair share of disappointments but every year you try to tool back up and you deal with free agency. It’s such a stable organization that we have, we all kind of work hand-in-hand and tinker a little bit and sometimes it takes good breaks. Sometimes there are injuries that take place and it’s hard to overcome that. You have to have the ball bounce your way a few times. I don’t think you’re ever really as far away as some people may perceive you to be and maybe in some cases you’re not as close as some people perceive you to be. I think within the system that we have the great thing is every year you go in and realistically a lot of teams are able to make that big jump. Once you get into the playoffs anything can happen. I just think we’ve had a good group of coaches, a good group of players, a rock-solid organization that’s allowed us to at least stay competitive year-in and year-out. So far this year we’ve had the ball bounce the right way but we’ve worked very hard to get to this position and we’re not going to lose sight of that. We have to play our best football every week we go out. We are not that much better than other teams in the league, we aren’t and we know that. We’re not going to get this thing done by just showing up. We’ve never been able to do that. It’s always been about preparation, it’s about unselfishness, about the realism that exists in our team that we have to go out there and play our best football every week, not overreact at some of the adversities that take place but just to stay focused through the course of 60 minutes and somehow we can find a way to win.”

(on his heroes growing up in Pittsburgh as a Steelers fan) “We’ve all had heroes, I know Jack Lambert for me because I was a defensive guy. I think what the team did in the 1970s for the city of Pittsburgh -- I was in college and high school at the time when they were winning Super Bowls -- it kind of put Pittsburgh on the map. It became a city of champions when you had the Pirates winning and the Penguins winning. I think that it’s always been known as a sports town, a blue-collar town, and I think a lot of people in Pittsburgh who grow up there learn how to compete. You learn how to understand sports and that nothing can be handed to you and I think that’s why you see a lot of good coaches that come out of there because there’s a work ethic that exists and you learn how to compete at an early age, know the difference between winning and losing and you’re very proud of that. I’m very proud to be from that. Right now, it’s not so much about the reflection of that as much as it’s about trying to seize this opportunity here that we have and just trying to stay focused on that. I think you can reflect when the season is over and our season isn’t over yet.”

(on his tenure with Pittsburgh and being with an organization that has given him stability over the years) “I’m very appreciative that I received their support through the 1998-’99 years, 6-10, 7-9 and certainly maybe in some other places a change may’ve been made. I think we have a very healthy organization that starts at the top. There are no egos and we try to get things done as a team. Obviously we’re in a performance-now business and I don’t think you take anything for granted

Super Bowl XL -- Monday, January 30, 2006
and I’ve never done that so I’m not naïve to think that if we don’t have a bad year that I’ll be another one of those guys that shows up on Black Monday. I think that’s what keeps you going is understanding that you are in a performance-now business, that you don’t sit there and live off of your royals and start reflecting too much or else someone else is going to pass you up. You have to stay a step ahead, you have to stay competitive and when the season’s over it’s about trying to keep your staff together and then it becomes about free agency and then the draft. It’s a year-long sport but you better have good people around you and I think we have good people in the personnel department with (director of football operations) Kevin Colbert and the personnel department I think does a great job. There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle and I think the consistent organizations are more than just players and coaches, it’s everyone pulling in one direction.”

(on what has impressed him about RB Willie Parker) “It’s all speed, that’s the one thing that you see in Willie Parker. Willie came in one year ago and made our football team and we liked him because he flashed and he got a chance to play in Week 16 against Buffalo and at that point showed something. We had rested some linemen and he ran against a defense that was near the top of the National Football League, I think second in the NFL, and he ran for over 100 yards, broke a run there. I think when we came into the season the idea was to try and get him in on third down and give him some touches kind of like (Antwaan) Randle El. We got into camp and Duce (Staley) got hurt in camp and then Jerome (Bettis) got hurt in the preseason and really we were down to just Willie. He had a chance to start and I think once he started he proved his ability to become a big-play back -- one of those guys that can give you a 30- or 40-yard run because of his speed. In the process, being behind Jerome Bettis, he’s learned how to run inside. If you watch him run at the beginning against Tennessee and Houston and then watch him run near the end of the season you’re going to see a guy who has really grown as a back. He’s able to see holes, he’s a patient runner and when he’s making decisions he puts his head down and falls forward to get some extra yards and move the pile. I think those are things he’s learned from watching guys like Jerome Bettis, with the Hall of Fame career he’s had, he’s been a great mentor for Willie. Like I said, he can give you a big play at any time and I think it’s a good mix that we have with those two guys.”

(on how he will prepare the Steelers for their new role as a favorite) “Remind them where they were seven weeks ago, that’s the thing in my mind. Seven weeks ago you find that people liked you because it was unconditional. We’re involved now seven weeks later and it’s all conditional. They love you because you just won seven straight games. It’s important that you separate the two and recognize where you are and the journey that you had because we’re not done with that journey. This thing wasn’t about week-to-week; it was about finishing a deal. This is the eighth game that we’ll play from that time on where we had no margin of error. So it will be a constant reminder about not so much where we are right now, but where we started from. That in itself will put a lot of things into perspective.”
(on the Silverdome) “It’s great. It’s about five minutes from the hotel. The locker room is good. The field, that’s where Jerome (Bettis) had the infamous coin toss. We get to practice there all week. We’re going to go over there about 10 a.m. and meet and have lunch over there and have practice just like we do back in the South Side (of Pittsburgh) so it’s really going to be like a normal week of preparation. The accommodations couldn’t be better. I’m very pleased with the arrangement that we have over there.”
(on players with an X-factor like WR Antwaan Randle El) “I know Randle El has a lot of skills. He can throw the football and was actually our second quarterback this year when we had some injuries at quarterback so he’s taken more reps this year at quarterback than he probably ever has. As a returner he’s very special. He’s returned the ball better now in my opinion than he was at the beginning of the season. He’s starting to hit some things north and south. As a receiver he’s very solid. I think that he compliments that receiving corps when you look at what Hines (Ward) is to us and what Cedric Wilson has become and Nate Washington, a young rookie. I really like this receiving corps and Antwaan gives you a lot of options.”

Monday, January 30, 2006


Super Bowl XL -- Sunday, January 29, 2006

(on the lack of respect espoused by both teams) "I think both teams are pretty good. I think both teams deserve to be here. We have tremendous respect for the Steelers and what they have accomplished. Players, coaches, and organizations have nothing to do with who is the favorite and who is not the favorite. I think there is mutual respect. What they have done to get to the Super Bowl is remarkable, going on the road and winning those games. And I'm proud of my guys, so it should be a great football game."

(on why Darrell Jackson has enjoyed more success as a pro than a number of other University of Florida receivers) "I think a couple of things. You can look at various college programs and you have players who have remarkable careers at that university. Most of it is because they are good football players, but some of it is because of the system they come out of. You can point to a couple of colleges that are known for certain things and for whatever reason their players have not really achieved in the NFL although they were great collegiate players. If you played at Florida you were going to catch a ton of passes, and you were going to win a lot of games and have fun playing. Darrell has great ability and I think he came in, not with a chip on his shoulder, but with something to prove. He came into the league wanting to gain more attention than he did in college and he worked very, very hard to do that. I think in his case, that's what has happened."

(on what he has told his players and the routine he will follow at the Super Bowl) "We are going to try and stay as close to our ‘at home’ schedule as possible. The practice schedule at home normally has us come in after a game and have a light workout before we send them home. We will do the same thing tomorrow. We will practice, but it will not be a full blown practice. The last time I was in one of these games I practiced them hard on Tuesday and I'm not sure that was the right thing to do looking back on it, so I’m going to give them Tuesday off on media day. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and prior to the game Saturday will be just like at home with regular practices so we can try to keep them in somewhat of an even keel given the surroundings. We have a few fellows who have been in Super Bowls, but not many, so I have talked to them just trying to educate them that it is going to be different. Keeping their focus is usually important and it is not always easy in this environment. We’ll try to keep it business as usual the best we can."

(on philosophies that were developed through his experiences as a high school and college quarterback and what they are) "I had a pretty good high school career and not a very good college career, but I did play the quarterback position. I started out as a tight end but my high school coach moved me to quarterback and I was able to get my education paid for at Southern Cal because I was a football player, which was a great thing. What I have tried to do in my experience, not only as a player, but as an assistant coach, too, is learn from and observe from the coaches that I had and attempt to say, 'I don't like that so much as a player, or I really like that and if I ever get a chance to be a coach, I don't think I’ll do that or I’ll do that.'

Really I've done that and I’ve been very, very fortunate to be around some very, very special men in this business. Going back to playing for John McKay in college and then the guys I coached high school football with. I had a great mentor in Vic Rowan at San Francisco State. I think I was a good student and I think coaching the position of quarterback, although you will get different opinions on this, I think it has helped that I played the position. You get a little bit of a feel for a certain situation that I think at times can help whoever you are coaching handle that situation a little bit better, so that is what I have tried to do. I’ve always had great young people, too, coaching the quarterbacks for me, although I kind of dive in there when I feel like it. Andy Reid, Jon Gruden, Steve Mariucci, Marty Mornhinweg, and now Jim Zorn have done a marvelous job of coaching the guys I’ve had. But I think it helped playing the position."

(on the atmosphere on the plane flight to Detroit) "I slept most of the way, so I'm not sure. We do have it really rough when we travel. The owner bought us an airplane, which was nice, and he has all these electronic gadgets on it so you can get live TV, movies or whatever you want. Every seat is a first class seat and the flight crew is the crew we have had all the time so they know how to take care of the team, but the mood was kind of like the mood of this team all year. I make it a point to go down the aisle once or twice during every flight, as do the other coaches. The guys are watching TV or they are sleeping. Our season is not over yet and that is how they have approached every game this year and that’s hopefully how we are approaching this one."

Super Bowl XL -- Sunday, January 29, 2006

(on whether Shaun Alexander being nice plays into a perception that he is not tough) "I think that might be part of it to be honest. He is a good fellow and he doesn’t curse and he is a nice man and you kind of wonder how a guy like that can be a real tough guy in a football game. But the other part of that may have been my fault because this is the first year I have used him all the time in short yardage running situations. Before, we had another back doing that. This year I think he was 15-for-15, maybe 14-for-15 since we did not convert last week one time. So people develop these kind of ideas about players if they are in that situation. He is an elusive runner. You don’t often see people get tremendous shots at him as opposed to more of a straight line guy who piles it up in there and there is a big explosion every time. I think people look at that and say, 'We know he gains 1,800 yards and we know he scored 28 touchdowns or whatever, but what is it about the way he runs that is a little different?' Then they take it to the next step. I really think that is unfair and I know it is not true."

(on how he developed this particular offense and if Matt Hasselbeck is the perfect fit for it) "He certainly had a great season and I think he is the perfect fit for what we ask the quarterback to do. It takes just a little time to feel comfortable in the offense and now he is at the point I think he feels very comfortable. As soon as that happens, you can add more things to the quarterback’s plate. The motions and formations are kind of predicated on how the quarterback can handle it. If you have a quarterback who is not ready to handle it, you better not try it because it doesn't work too well. When I got to San Francisco Joe Montana was the master of it already. When I got to Green Bay, Brett (Favre) had to learn that and he learned it to the point that you could do anything your imagination could conjure up. Matt is now at the place where you could get real carried away, but at the same time, you can never sacrifice execution for trying to be creative. That's where I come in with my staff. They have a million ideas and want to try to do everything under the sun and every once in a while I have to tone it down just a little bit, but at quarterback, we certainly have the right guy to handle it."

(on why the defense played so well in light of what happened with Ray Rhodes and the transition to John Marshall) "I think it is a real credit to the defensive staff, John Marshall in particular and Ray Rhodes. Ray got sick and John fortunately had been a coordinator so the idea of coordinating a defense was not a new thing for him. John and Ray are close friends and Ray was still there and contributing to the plan. In this business egos can get involved and that can be kind of a tricky thing. To their credit, they made it work. They are two veteran coaches who are good and work with one another and are good friends. I think that contributed to the success they had on defense."

(on the status of Ken Hamlin and if there is a sense of disappointment that he has not been a part of the run to the Super Bowl) "There is disappointment for me, and I think his teammates and anyone who knows him. He is disappointed, but at the same time, he was our biggest cheerleader on the sideline last week. It was a sad thing what happened to Kenny. The good part is that he has healed up. What his football future is, I can’t tell you right now. I am somewhat optimistic about it. He will be there with us on Sunday. He has had an emotional impact on this football team before he was hurt and certainly after the injury. My hope and prayer is that he will be able to continue playing football next year."

(on the impact of ceding the general responsibilities on him as a head coach and how he has survived in that scenario) "The situation happens in the league. People have opinions on the idea of being a coach/general manager and the ability of one person being able to do that. It is a lot of work and there are a lot of things to do. When they made the change and I was no longer the general manager, our team that year did not have a good season by our standards, but I thought there were reasons for it. As happens in many instances, patience at that particular time was not a virtue, so they did it. I had a choice to make at that time, whether I was going to ride off in the sunset and go sit on the beach and ride my motorcycle or accept the situation for what it was and keep coaching the football team. As long as they still wanted me to coach the football team, I wanted to do that. I am a coach. I think it's a little misunderstood sometimes when people have both jobs. It is very, very important that you have a good support staff that you can trust if you want to do what I want to do and that’s continue to be very active with the football team, and not shift my emphasis to personnel and let somebody else coach the football team. The coordinators, as an example. If you do it that way, then you have to trust your personnel people and have good people in there and I thought we did. I was disappointed that didn’t work out to their satisfaction. It was a challenge for me and a challenge I wanted to take and I’d be better at it the next time."

Super Bowl XL -- Sunday, January 29, 2006

(on if he has given any thought to this being his last game with Shaun Alexander due to his contract situation) "I really haven’t. We are all aware of his contract situation. I believe Shaun wants to stay in Seattle. He and I talk about his future often. I know the club’s position is we would like him to stay in Seattle. It has been my experience if you get that type of situation, you can usually work it out if there is some reasonableness to everybody. I think he should finish his career as a Seahawk and my hope is that gets done and we’ll see where it goes. It is one of those big contracts and it will be talked about a whole bunch, but I think he wants to stay and I know we want him to stay."

(on Mack Strong’s contribution to the offense and his significance to the team) "Mack Strong is about my favorite player of all time. The Mack Strongs of the world make it worth my while to coach and teach. He is unselfish. He has played 13 years, longer than anybody we have. He does all the dirty work. He is the lead blocker most every play for our halfback. He is a great man in the community. He is a great father and a wonderful family guy. He is not a real talkative man, but when I have asked him to talk to the team he has been willing. I can’t say enough about him. We have drafted in the last few years a couple guys to kind of replace Mack because at some point everyone’s career ends, but I’ll be darn, we can’t do it. This year I think he was about as good as you can be at that position and he was rewarded with the Pro Bowl. Other than Mack, I think I was the happiest man on earth when he got that news. He is really a good guy and a pleasure to be around."

(on respect and how he has used the underdog role with his team) "Respect is a word players use a lot and people use a lot and it could have any number of meanings to whoever is using it and, in my opening remarks to my team this year, I wanted to make sure my team knew what I meant when I used the word 'respect' and what I think respect means in our business. I came to them from an idea of mutual respect, either player to player, coach to player, player to fan, player on one team to player on another team. To respect the guy who you are playing across from because he is working just as hard as you are working, and you know how hard you are working. But don’t use the term loosely or lightly. We hit the crossbar against Washington early on and then we lost the game to Green Bay at the end when it was a different type of football game I thought. Otherwise there was a chance we could have won 15 in a row or something and that is hard to do in this business. Yet, I think because of where Seattle is located and the television exposure that we get, I think that not a lot of people know what kind of a football team we have. As I've told the team, 'That's OK because ultimately you’ll be judged by what happens and where you are at the end of the season.' I understand why we are the underdogs and there’s really only one way to handle that and it’s not by talking, it’s by playing the game and seeing what happens. That’s kind of the point I've been making all season to the team. It's easy to talk about those things. Let's do it and let our record speak for itself and then when it’s all over, see where you line up."

(on the importance of what his wife and daughter are doing during Super Bowl week) "I think it's a lot more important probably than what I am doing this week. My wife Kathy and my daughter Calla, who is a doctor, and my wife is a nurse by trade, are leaving Thursday for the Congo on a humanitarian mission with Northwest Medical Teams. We didn't know when she signed up for this thing four months ago that we would be in the Super Bowl. In fact, we didn’t even think about the dates being a problem. She was a young missionary nurse out of college thirty-five years ago and went to the same place and when my daughter signed up for the trip with 10 people, I asked Kathy, 'Where’s she going?' She’s going to exactly the same place Kathy was, a little mission station right in the middle of the jungle. I said, 'Why don't you go with her?' It was the best present I could ever give her. Fast forward and here we are. I'm very proud of her and she works very hard at a lot of things that are a lot more important than coaching a football game. She has her life. Her heart is here even though she is going to be in Africa with our daughter and she gets nervous at the games anyway. She is just going to be farther away than walking around outside the stadium. It’s a 17--day trip and I’ll let her know who wins when she gets back."

(on how he would compare the image of the Packers who went to the Super Bowl to this team) "Certainly in the second year, Reggies (White) and those people were the best players at their positions in all of football. We had a much more veteran team than we have now. That team was a little bit more of a star team. We had more than a couple guys that were really pretty well known at their positions throughout the country and went to Pro Bowls. Our team now, even though we are fortunate to have a number of players go to the Pro Bowl, is really a team in the truest sense of the word in my opinion because the sum of the parts is greater than the individual parts. This team is fairly unknown to most of the country."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Leaving it to SI's Michael Silver to Write The NFL Minority Hiring Column ESPN's Michael Smith Couldn't Pen

Well, it's UC Berkeley and Daily Cal Alumn Mike Silver to the rescue. (He's the guy with the Mick Jaggeresque black leather jacket in the photo talking to Daily Cal Alumn and former San Francisco Chronicle Publisher John Oppendahl.) It's a sign of the times that non-black writers like my friend, "Sil" are penning columns taking the NFL to task for it's terrible record of minority head coaching hires, while black writers like ESPN's Michael Smith are protecting an obviously racist system. (Well, there is the Oakland Tribune's Monte Poole, who's not afraid to tell it like it is.)

I can see the late SI scribe Ralph Wiley, somewhere in heaven, shaking his fists and screaming his lungs out...And plotting some form of spritual revenge.

Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, here's Sil's column, with the title post as a link to it as well.

Race still a factor?
In my opinion, lack of black coaches is no coincidence
"Open Mike" Michael Silver

For all of the disturbing images we've witnessed in the NFL as of late -- and there have been many, beginning in Indy with the most horrific decision by a man in stripes since Roger Clemens threw a broken bat at Mike Piazza -- the parade of press conferences being piped in from team headquarters stand out most glaringly.

Over and over, the smiling man at the podium looks eerily similar. He is white. He has never been a head coach. And though he beat out several candidates who were more qualified, at least on paper, he was just so darn impressive in his interview that hiring him became a matter of great urgency.

Think Marty Mornhinweg after a disastrous trip to the barber.

This is not to say that Brad Childress (Vikings), Sean Payton (Saints), Rod Marinelli (Lions), Mike McCarthy (Packers), Eric Mangini (Jets) and Scott Linehan (Rams) are bad coaches who are doomed to fail. The same goes for the white dudes soon to be hired -- Gary Kubiak (Texans), Mike Sherman (Bills) and Gerry Faust (Raiders). (And yes, the Faust reference was a joke, and not even a fair one: For all his flaws, Al Davis is gutsy and racially enlightened enough to surprise us with his hire.)

The reason I point this out is that after weeks of reading and hearing that the NFL's age-old minority-coaching embarrassment had finally become a non-issue, I regret to inform you that this is a complete load of crap.

Sure, Lovie Smith was recently named the NFL's Coach of the Year, and he and the two other obvious candidates for that honor -- Tony Dungy and Marvin Lewis -- are African-American. Their hires, we were to assume, would open up the floodgates. But with 10 teams searching for coaches after this season --nine, really, because the Jets job only became open after the Chiefs traded a fourth-round pick to New York for the right to hire Herm Edwards -- the number of African-American head coaches remains at six, unchanged from the start of 2005.

So what happened to supposedly hot minority candidates like Tim Lewis, Ron Rivera, Jerry Gray and Donnie Henderson, who interviewed for many of the jobs in question? And why weren't obvious prospects like Colts defensive coordinator Ron Meeks and Redskins defensive coordinator/defensive line coach Greg Blache even in the mix?

Gee, I wonder.

When most of my fellow journalists and various electronic-media commentators discuss this issue, they talk about social realities, the comfort zones of those doing the hiring and a lack of awareness about attractive minority candidates. That's one way to say it. Or, you could just do what I do and talk about what's really going on: Racism.

I'm not merely talking about subconscious or subtle racism, either. I'm saying that it seems to me that some of the people who run NFL franchises don't want a non-white man running their football teams. And don't just take it from me, ask the players, 70 percent of whom are African-American. Were they to tell you their honest opinions, I think most of them -- yes, the white dudes, too -- would convey a very similar sentiment.

I could give you years and years worth of obvious examples of minority coaching candidates getting the shaft, but for the sake of brevity, let's stick with what's happening now. And since Green Bay is home to one of the NFL's storied franchises, that's an excellent place to start.

Typically, coordinators from the teams that are most successful in a given season emerge as the hot candidates. The Packers hired McCarthy, who coordinated the NFL's 32nd-ranked offense in '05. Wait, I know what you're thinking: That was the 49ers offense, it's not fair to judge anyone involved with that mess. Apparently, then, we should evaluate McCarthy based on his impressive work with Aaron Brooks in New Orleans or on his lone season as the Packers' quarterbacks coach, in 1999, when Brett Favre threw more interceptions (23) than touchdown passes (22)?

Then there is Payton, who burst into the public consciousness during the '02 season, when then-Giants coach Jim Fassel stripped play-calling responsibilities from his young offensive coordinator. The fact that New York then improved offensively and rallied to reach the playoffs did not particularly enhance Payton's stock, though he did rebound by running the offense for Bill Parcells' Cowboys, which ranked 13th in the NFL this season. We can only hope that Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, with his first-ever hire, knows head coaching talent better than he does personnel.

Marinelli, who was strongly considered for the Cal job that ultimately went to Jeff Tedford following the '01 season (among the other candidates for that position were Lewis, who turned it down, and Gray), lost out in part because he had never been a head coach or coordinator at any level. That didn't bother Matt Millen, who previously hired Mornhinweg (days before he could have interviewed Lewis or John Fox) and Steve Mariucci (incurring a $200,000 fine for violating a new NFL rule requiring teams to interview at least one minority candidate. That rule, by the way, is now circumvented as teams grant token interviews, like the one Ted Cottrell received from the Vikings and Henderson from the Jets.)

Perhaps, in his coaching searches, Millen simply looks for the best coach available whose last name begins with "M." Or perhaps his bosses, the Fords, have other criteria. I wonder the same things about the men running the Bills and Saints, to name a couple of other franchises who habitually hire white guys.

Then there is Mangini, who just turned 35 after completing his first season as Bill Belichick's defensive coordinator. As one high-ranking executive for an NFL team told me last week, "The guy has what it takes to be an NFL head coach, eventually. But now? The sense is that he's in way over his head."

On paper, Childress, Linehan and Kubiak are legitimate hires -- successful coordinators who have proven their worth over a number of years. Then again, Tim Lewis, Cottrell and Gray also fit that description (as do white assistants like Al Saunders, Jim Johnson and Gil Haskell, to be fair), and none of those guys will be pacing the sidelines with a headset this coming fall.

In fact, amid all the maneuvering, promising African-American assistants are actually losing ground. Gray, impressive in his five-year stint as the Bills' defensive coordinator, essentially got fired after Mike Mularkey resigned. Cottrell, who has a great track record and whose defense rebounded nicely in '05 after a rough start, was booted by the Vikings. Henderson, supposedly a rising star in his profession, got run out of New York. All three men are currently looking for work, and there don't seem to be a lot of coordinator openings at the moment.

If you really break it down, this shouldn't be all that surprising. Yes, Smith, Lewis and Dungy were impressive this year, but African-American coaches having success is nothing new. Name one who didn't appreciably improve his team in his first two years on the job?

The only example you could cite is Ray Rhodes, a former Coach of the Year in Philly who, in his second head coaching stint, went 8-8 with the Packers. After that, general manager Ron Wolf fired Rhodes (citing the team's alleged lack of discipline) and hired Sherman, who was 6-7 in his first season before rallying to win his last three games.

Shortly thereafter, Wolf retired and Sherman was named the team's general manager.

Why have African-American coaches fared so well? My theory is that because so many were denied opportunities for so long, the talent pool is artificially strong. Meanwhile, white assistants in similar jobs keep getting snapped up by teams, and many of those teams end up disappointed. As I wrote soon after the Bills made a coaching hire two years ago, it's a bunch of Mularkey.

Perhaps the Raiders' Davis will come through and salvage what has turned out to be an abysmal year on the minority-coaching front by making another bold hire. Or perhaps he'll choose Chargers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, he of the 18-37 coaching record at Indiana -- despite the presence of star quarterback and future Steelers receiver Antwaan Randle El -- who has been making the interview rounds and is scheduled to come to Oakland.

If that doesn't work out, there's always Gerry Faust.

An Open Letter to ESPN"s Michael Smith On The NFL And Minority Coaches

Dear Mr. Smith, (pictured to the left)

I just read your column on the NFL (Coaching issue not simply about race) and I can't disagree with you more. I don't know how many people -- some members of the Pro Football Writers Association -- have told me that the reason why there are so many white coaches is that the general managers and owners of the teams are white, and that "Whites are comfortable with whites."

While I think this is very disturbing, what's even more troublesome to me is the complacency demonstrated by your prose in the article. For example, this statement you wrote just sent me to the moon:

Bottom line: Minorities have been issued a different dues-paying schedule. The double standard -- be twice as good, and often that isn't good enough -- is something minorities, African-Americans especially, are just burdened with.

Just burdened with.

You mean to tell me that I have to accept my lot in life? That I should not be competitive. That I should not insist on fair and equal treatment. That I should -- by my inaction -- just cause the maintance of this stupid quasi-caste system and feed the ego of every mentally-ill racist out there?

To you I write "Hell no."

If there is still such a thing as Black Self Determination -- and I believe it is -- then we as a group in America must begin to engineer ways to own corporations, and yes, even NFL Teams. I am majority owner of my company and it's 60 percent minority owned. We've grown on our own and don't have some large investor pulling our chain. We've made our revenue via our willingness to succeed and try new ideas.

I think you should not only use your ESPN-provided platform to encourage NFL teams to hire blacks, and push black coaches to network more than they may do. But you should not use your column to appologize for this caste system and tell other blacks and Latinos to just accept their lot in life.

I can imagine you giving such a speech to kids in East Oakland, here in Oakland, California. They'd laugh at you and tell your you're just afraid of "the man." Then -- lacking any encouragement from you to take on another direction -- some of them would continue to take on activities that we wish they would not do. But they're just trying to make money and they don't want to be someone's slave or second-class citizen. They're teenagers, but they do know what the problem is in society. They want to have the same freedom of choice of occupation that others have -- those who are white.

You should never send a message to anyone black that they should enjoy second-class status. Just because we're better integrated with in America and interracial interaction and marriage is the norm doesn't mean we can stop advancing. Sorry.

It's apparent to me that the next frontier of advancement in the African American community is right between our collective ears -- and exemplary in your column. We must believe we're the best, want nothing but the best, and always strive to be the best.

And most important, we must encourage each other and openly point to the need to remove the number one social roadblock to advancement -- racism, the number one mental illness in America.

You failed to do that in your article.

Please don't send a message of "accept your lot" to African Americans again. Mr. Smith, as a black man you should be ashamed of yourself. I have many friends who would read your column and ask what was wrong with you -- and they're white.


Zennie Abraham

Monday, January 23, 2006

Oakland Raiders Owner Al Davis Can Trump NFL by Hiring Black or Latino Coach - Monte Poole of The Oakland Tribune

Note: The reason why I didn't link to the article is ANG Newspaper's website archive is so poorly designed and maintained, the link would go bad after 30 days. Here's Monte's article below, and his photo to the left.

Al could trump rest by hiring minority
Monte Poole

MAYBE AL DAVIS, often accused of being past his prime, is the one NFL executive who will see what his colleagues have missed.

And wouldn't he love that?

The Raiders owner is the last of the nine bosses to have interviewed candidates but remain undecided about his next head coach. Six have hired their new man, and two others are believed to be an announcement away.

Which leaves Al in a position he relishes, able to defy convention, be contrary, go his own way.

It's as easy as hiring Maurice Carthon or Ron Rivera as Oakland's next head coach. Or Tim Lewis, Jerry Gray, Hue Jackson, Ted Cottrell, Greg Blatche or Donnie Henderson.

Each is a man of color, touted as capable of a being quality head coach in the NFL. Men of color, given such an opportunity, have done exceptionally well. So well, you'd think NFL owners would have noticed.

Maybe they have, but are too race-conscious to acknowledge it.

Otherwise, they are clinging to ignorance in spite of the obvious.

Most observers noted the results achieved in 2005 by Tony Dungy in Indianapolis, Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati and Lovie Smith in Chicago. There was widespread acknowledgment of the strides made by Romeo Crennel in Cleveland.

Four African-American head coaches, all former coordinators, all longtime dues-paying members of the coaching fraternity, experiencing success in a league reluctant to hire head coaches of color.

With Smith and Dungy finishing 1-2 in the Coach of the Year voting, and Lewis tied for fourth, it was an undeniable breakthrough. Equality, finally, is at hand. Fairness at last. That's what the folks at the barber shop say.

Ahh, but team owners and presidents, those who do the hiring, don't go to the barber shop. Don't hear what's said there, either.

How else to explain the sixhires this off-season, as well as the two reportedly decided? The new wave looks a lot like the old wave. Some are relatively young, maybe prematurely promoted. Some are relatively old, perhaps overdue for an opportunity. Several were downright mystifying.

All are indisputably white.

Brad Childress (Minnesota), Mike McCarthy (Green Bay), Eric Mangini (New York Jets), Rod Marinelli (Detroit), Sean Payton (New Orleans) and Scott Linehan (St. Louis) now have their chance. Buffalo reportedly is ready to hire former Chicago Bears coach Dick Jauron, while Houston will hire Denver assistant Gary Kubiak, who became available Sunday after the Broncos were ousted from the playoffs.

Eight positions filled, none by anyone who brings similar socio-ethnic experiences or points of view as those currently among the most successful coaches in the league.

It is apparent is that few employers are influenced when Denver safety John Lynch says two of the greatest positive influences on his life — his life! — are Dungy and Herm Edwards, neither of whom coaches the Broncos. And that few understand the amplitude of the statement when Bengals receiver Chad Johnson says his head coach, Lewis, is "like a father" to him.

Mangini, who turned 35 last Thursday, spent one season as defensive coordinator in New England, after five years coaching defensive backs. Before that, he was a quality control coach, which means he was responsible for coffee and doughnuts.

And McCarthy, architect of a 49ers offense that finished at the bottom of the league, gets rewarded by the Packers.

Why not hire former FEMA boss Michael "heckuva job" Brown?

Whatever happened to the notion that the NFL is a copycat league, where needy teams try to mimic the latest, hottest organizations?

Rivera, defensive coordinator under Smith with the Bears, went from hot to not hot in the blink of an eye. Same with Tim Lewis, who serves in the same capacity for the New York Giants. Henderson and Cottrell, two more DCs, got courtesy interviews and now find themselves unemployed.

Boys and girls, black head coaches typically make a positive impact. Art Shell improved the Raiders, Ray Rhodes improved the Eagles, Edwards improved the Jets, Dungy improved the Colts. Dennis Green improved the Vikings (he's got a ways to go with the Cardinals).

For evidence of turnaround jobs, consider Dungy with the Bucs. Or Smith with the Bears. Or Lewis, becoming the second coach in Bengals history to have a winning record (27-21) after three seasons.

Only Rhodes (37-42-1 with two teams) and Edwards (41-43 after going 4-12 with the injury-depleted Jets in'05) are sub-.500.

These men have done well not because they are black but because they were highly qualified by the time opportunity knocked.

History reveals progress is not progress until those in power see it as progress. The hirings this off-season serve as a potent reminder — even if Al bucks the trend.

Monte Poole can be reached at (510) 208-6461 or by e-mail at mpoole@angnewspapers.com

USC's Matt Leinart Selects Sports Agent Leigh Steinberg

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- Matt Leinart, the 2004 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who guided Southern California to a 37-2 record during the past three seasons, will be represented by agents Leigh Steinberg and Chuck Price in upcoming contract negotiations.

"Matt is a dominating franchise quarterback who should be picked at the top of the first round," Steinberg said in a statement issued Wednesday.

Steinberg has represented the first pick in NFL draft eight times. Several past standout quarterbacks including Hall of Famer Steve Young, Warren Moon and Troy Aikman were among his clients. He represents current starting quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Mark Brunell.

Steinberg and Price will work with Air 7, Leinart's management team.

Leinart announced last week that the talent and literary agency Creative Artists Agency would represent him for his off-field business ventures.

"With the combined team of CAA, Chuck, Leigh, and Air 7, I am confident that my business affairs are in the very best hands," Leinart said. "This gives me the freedom to focus on becoming the best football player I can be."

Leinart is expected to be one of the first three players chosen in the April 29 draft, along with USC running back Reggie Bush and Texas quarterback Vince Young. Bush won the 2005 Heisman, with Young finishing second in the voting and Leinart third.

SUPER BOWL XL To Reach More Viewer in Europe - NFL

From the NFL:

SUPER BOWL XL will reach more viewers in Europe than ever before following the signing of two new network broadcast agreements, giving the NFL high-level presence in its three major European markets of Germany, the United Kingdom and France, it was announced today.

In Germany, the Super Bowl XL action from Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan on Sunday February 5 will be aired live on ARD. It will be the first time that the No. 1 network in the country has broadcast the finale of the NFL season.

For the first time, Super Bowl will be aired on terrestrial network in France, following an agreement with France Television, which will show the game live on France 2, the second largest station in the country. In the United Kingdom, the NFL is in the second year of a three-year deal with ITV, the biggest commercial network in Europe.

JIM CONNELLY, Managing Director of NFL Europe, said: "We are very excited about securing such highprofile broadcast partners in our three key European markets. This level of exposure is unprecedented for any American sports event in Europe.

"The key to the growth of our NFL business is exposure to a mass audience and these agreements give us a great platform upon which to build. Super Bowl is the NFL's showcase event and is like no other sporting event in the world, with its mixture of show business, music and exciting action on the field. We hope that many new people will become interested in the NFL after having the chance to watch this year’s game. We are excited about the opportunity of growing our sport in conjunction with these partners in years to come."

ARD will have a 15-man crew in Detroit to broadcast the game. In the booth as color commentator will be German-born offensive lineman TOM NÜTTEN, a Super Bowl XXXIV winner with the St Louis Rams. France 2's coverage will be anchored from their studios in Paris, where the station is hosting the NFL's official Paris Super Bowl party, featuring performances by the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders.

ITV’s coverage will be co-hosted from Ford Field, where former Pittsburgh Steelers running back MERRIL HOGE will be one of the game analysts, and from London, with Philadelphia Eagles linebacker DHANI JONES a studio guest, along with World Cup-winning England rugby captain MARTIN JOHNSON. The game also will be screened live in the UK by long-time NFL broadcast partner Sky Sports, whose show will feature Chicago Bears Super Bowl XX winner SHAUN GAYLE, and will air live on BBC Radio
Five Live.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

JT The Brick - The Most Dynamic Sports Talk Show Host in America

I've gotten into a habit of listening to a man I first met at Leigh Steinberg's Super Bowl Party in Houston. Then, as my life would have it, we saw each other again at Oakland Raiders Headquarters for the 2004 NFL Draft.

JT's show and approach have grown over the years. He's now -- in my view -- the best of the national sports talk show hosts.

To learn more about JT, click on the title of this post.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

NFL Coaching Openings As of January 17, 2006

Listed above are all of the NFL teams with open coaching positions, who the previous coach was, and who was hired to replace that coach. (Update this to reflect the selection of Sean Peyton to coach the New Orleans Saints.)

If you look at this from a perspective of minority hiring, there has not been a net gain in the number of African American coaches. Herman Edwards, who's black, shifted teams marking the first time in NFL history that an African American man has went from one team to another without being fired first.

But the pattern of disturbing hires continues. The latest being Eric Mangini, who after only one year as a defensive coordinator -- one year -- is selected as the new head coach of the New York Jets. Meanwhile, Donnie Henderson, who's black and who interviewed for the Jets head position, may not be retained on the current staff.

This follows the Packers' shocking, disturbing, and alarming hire of the 49ers Offensive Coordinator Mike McCarthy, and Sean Peyton was just hired as the new head coach of the New Orleans Saints.

There are currently six head coaches and 31 assistant coaches who are black in the NFL. You can't tell me the teams can only find three African American assistants -- Tim Lewis of the NY Giants, Maurice Carthon of the Cleveland Browns and Donnie Henderson of the NY Jets -- to interview for head coaching positions? Look, if New York Jets Owner Woody Johnson can hire Mangini, with a paper-thin resume he can select Hue Jackson.

What really bothers me is the complete silence of the black football writers -- Michael Wilbon of the Washington Post and Michael Smith of ESPN, to name some of the most widely read scribes. They've not raised a voice in protest over this problem at all.

Heck of all the famous pens out there, only Sports Illustrated Senior Writer Mike Silver has actually tried to do something about this both by mentioning it in his writing and even lobbying our beloved Cal Berkeley to hire a black coach -- Marvin Lewis -- before he was rightly snapped up by the Cincinnati Bengals (Cal hired Jeff Tedford).

Oh, I forgot to mention that my friend Sil's Jewish, not black.

Michael Smith -- in a ridiculous puff job written for ESPN's website -- even went as far as to recommend Mangini for the Jets job. Way to stick it to the brothas, brotha.

It's too bad the Johnnie Cochran's of the world are passing on; they're leaving us with a world mostly populated with African Americans in postions where they can make a difference, but are afraid to make a difference.

Do SF 49ers Talks with Ex-Raider Coach Norv Turner signal the end of The Walsh Offense in SF?

According to many reports, San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Mike Nolan is negotiating to bring ex-Oakland Raiders Head Coach Norv Turner in as their new offensive coordinator to replace Mike McCarthy, who after one subpar year was hired by The Green Bay Packers as their new head coach.

Turner, long considered one of the league's brightest minds, is not known as an expert in the Bill Walsh system of timed passes, large steps, muliple formations, and team organization. Indeed, he's placed as an expert in a style of offensive passing popularized first by Sid Gillman, and then Oakland Raiders Head Coach and now Owner Al Davis before being improved by San Diego's coach Don Coryell during the 80s, and who's system set numerous passing records with Quarterback Dan Fouts as the target.

The reasons why Turner is being considered by the 49ers are someone strange.

First, when Turner was the head coach of the Washington Redskins, he hired Nolan as Defensive Coordinator, then was forced to let him go by Dan Snyder, the team's owner. Pro Football Weekly reports that there may be "some issues" with what would be a reversal in relationships, but it appears Turner is able to come into the 49ers fold without a problem. He certainly wouldn't have to uproot his family and leave the Bay Area.

In my view, the real problem exists for the Niners 2005 NFL First Round Draft Pick Alex Smith. After just one year of not only learning a new system and the speed of the NFL, he faces the very real prospect of having to learn a new offense all over again. There are over 10 different teams that use the Walsh Offense terminology, including the 49ers under McCarthy.

Turner's not familar with a lingo that really can take a simple play and make it sound more complex than it is. So if Turner comes in as the Niners new offensive caretaker, will the plays and nomenclature change?

I think Cincinnati Bengals Wide Receiver Coach Hue Jackson
would have been a better choice for the Niners needs.

But that's not going to happen, so if Turner's able to come in and rip apart the playbok look out for another long year for Alex Smith.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Statement by NFL Vice President of Officiating Mike Pereira On Troy Polamalu Play in Yesterday's Steelers-Colts Game

I obtained this directly from the National Football League

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

Joe Browne, Executive Vice President--Communications
Greg Aiello, Vice President-Public Relations
January 16, 2006

"The definition of a catch -- or in this case an interception -- states that in
the process of making the catch a player must maintain possession of the ball
after he contacts the ground. The initial call on the field was that Troy Polamalu
intercepted the pass because he maintained possession of the ball after hitting
the ground. The replay showed that Polamalu had rolled over and was rising to
his feet when the ball came loose. He maintained possession long enough to
establish a catch. Therefore, the replay review should have upheld the call on the
field that it was a catch and fumble.

"The rule regarding the performing of an act common to the game applies
when there is contact with a defensive player and the ball comes loose, which did
not happen here."

Indy Coach Tony Dungy on NFL Network's "CoachSpeak" Today

I just watched "CoachSpeak" on The NFL Network about 15 minutes ago. Host Darren Horton and Coach Jim Mora Sr. interviewed Indianapolis Head Coach Tony Dungy.

Always the class person, Dungy did back his quarterback and explain that Peyton Manning didn't mean to point fingers, but he was referring to a problem that, from listening to Coach Dungy, was part of the team's conversation during the ebb-and-flow of the Steelers game.

Dungy also said that he would take these next two to three weeks and reflect on his family and the passing of his eldest son, but for now, he was enthusiastic about returning to the Colts and being with the organization for a long time.

As a person who lost his father October 13th of 2005 and his stepfather on March 17th of the same year, I can totally understand what he's going through. I only hope Colts fans can be supportive and encourage him to stay the course. I also wish that sports fans would be more mature and reflective in their evaluation of Dungy this year.

The Colts will be back. But for a very clear set of spritual reasons, I don't think this matter of a Super Bowl win was suppose to happen this time.

But it will.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Packers Hire 49ers' Mike McCarthy - The Alarming Pattern of Avoidance of "The Rooney Rule" by some NFL Organizations

The "Rooney Rule" was established to cause NFL organizations to at least interview and in more cases hire minority -- and more specfically black, coaches. After a review of the current pattern of hiring by many NFL teams over the course of the last month, I must sadly report that the Rooney Rule has failed.

What spurred me to write this entry -- as I attempt to hold back the tears that come from the news that The Green Bay Packers have hired San Francisco 49ers Offensive Coordinator Mike McCarthy as their new head coach -- is a wonderful trip I had to Seattle to visit a friend and attend the Seattle Seahawks game against the San Francisco 49ers last November. I really enjoyed the experience,and as a momentary aside, Qwest Field is an excellent place to watch a football game.

There was one thing -- and just one -- that was disturbing to me. The way San Francisco 49ers Offensive Coordinator Mike McCarthy called the plays during that contest.

I said this to my friend there, I've said it before, and now I'm putting it in writing. I can't see how he got his job considering that his game plans are 1) inflexible and 2) illogical. Let me provide some examples:

1) Against the Indianapolis Colts, Mc Carthy devises plays based on the Utah Spread Offense that then-head coach Urban Meyer developed and Alex Smith played in. The trouble is that McCarthy installed running plays and not passing plays for Smith. One play gained 2 yards; the other lost 2 yards, and I was flabergasted -- Smith isn't Michael Vick. It was as if he had installed a gimic rather than actually using plays that could help Smith.

2) Creating rollout pass plays that don't call for the quarterback to roll to a point and set his feet. This is really bothersome to watch. The most successful rollout plays were devised by Bill Walsh, and Al Davis before him; they call for the quarterback to rollout to a spot, then pass the football. The idea is to move the launch point of the pass first, not make the QB run. This is a common error in rollout design, even with run-pass options. It's no wonder Smith's success here is spotty, even though his ability to throw on the run makes up for terrible play design.

3) Not providing his quarterbacks with even a simple audible to take advantage of the most obvious defensive weakness. This was completely evident in the Seattle game, where the Seahawks called defenses stacked against the run on first down, what did the 49ers do? They ran. Seattle cornerbacks were lined up "bump and run" against the Niners Flanker and Split End. What did the 49ers do? Call a pass with "up" patterns to get a quick gain? No. What did they do? They ran.

On second down, the Seahawks defense "loosened" -- the cornerbacks were yards off the receivers, the safeties were back in obvious "two deep" positions, and the defensive line posised to rush the passer. What did the 49ers do? Pass.

It was enough to make me yell at McCarthy through the glass wall of the club section. I know someone got what I was saying -- it wasn't McCarthy.

4) Calling 30 runs against Seattle when they were giving the 49ers the pass. Especially on first down.

5) Calling four-wide receiver plays where there are three receivers on one side, and one pass catcher on the other, and then having the QB throw to the strong side where the three catchers are and ignoring the lone, single-covered receiver on the other side. This has happened way too often.

I could go on and on. McCarthy's early success with the Niners came because he was new to the team, and thus there was no "book" on what he would do with the 49ers offensive personel. Once NFL teams developed an analysis, they quickly bottled his offense during the year.

So all year long I'm stewing about McCarthy as the weak coaching link on the Niners, and what happens? The Green Bay Packers make this guy their coach -- without even seriously considering a black candidate. They talked to two, but selected someone not even as accomplished as Tim Lewis and Maurice Carthon.

What the heck is going on?

You can't tell me that out of over 100 black assistant coaches there aren't 20 that can be considered for head coaching positions. Look, I'm not a coach. But I'll tell you that I could take any NFL team's third string offense and develop schames to consistently beat that organization's first string defense. And I'm itching for some one to challenge me.

Why? Simple. Because -- more so that college and even high school coaches -- NFL coaches think in a consistent "box" of offensive approaches. Only once in every other decade does one person -- like Coach Walsh -- come along and get the chance to install an offensive system that really is a true shift in thinking. But with the Internet, offensive revolutions are starting at the high school and college level and not at the NFL.

Many of the people who know these are not white; they're black. Hue Jackson's a good example. Jackson has been an offensive coordinator at Cal, USC, and with the Washington Redskins. He's learned the most successful and advanced offensive concepts from Steve Spurrier and Steve Marriucci, to name some of them. Yet, he's litterally been banished to the place of receivers coach with the Bengals, forced to work with the tempermental personality of wide receiver Chad Johnson, while Offensive Coordinator Bob Bratkowski calls a set of predictable pass plays devoid of rollouts or sprint out passes, leaving his quarterbacks as sitting ducks when the pass is needed the most.

Meanwhile, the Houston Texans talk to Gary Kubiak, hire Dan Reeves as a consultant, and make a list of coaches that has contained no African American names until recently and if I'm a betting man and on this (and I am) that person will be "the token one."

Why? And why McCarthy? What is the deal? It seems that to some teams having white coaches is more important that winning. Black coaches? Just window dressing for "The Rooney Rule."

Monday, January 09, 2006

NFL Playoff Tickets Exchange

With a click on the title post link above, you can either sell your NFL Playoff tickets (don't scalp, please), or buy them and for any game.

Vince Young Enters The NFL Draft - Young's Stats at Texas

Texas Longhorns' Junior QB Vince Young's annouced his intention to enter the NFL Draft. I think he should be the first round pick of the Houston Texans; they can offer Dave Carr for trade for more draft picks, and use backup QB Tony Banks as the "trainee" for Young.

You can read more about Young and his statistics and records at Texas with a click on this sentence.

Saturday, January 07, 2006


The NFL playoffs begin on Saturday and Sunday, January 7-8, with Wild Card Weekend. On Saturday, the Washington Redskins play at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ABC, 4:30 PM ET) and the Jacksonville Jaguars visit the New England Patriots (ABC, 8:00 PM ET). Wild Card Weekend continues Sunday with the Carolina Panthers at the New York Giants
(FOX, 1:00 PM ET) and the Pittsburgh Steelers traveling to face the Cincinnati Bengals (CBS, 4:30 PM ET).

The following week, the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts in the AFC and Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks in the NFC host the Divisional Playoffs. The Colts and Seahawks own homefield advantage for the Conference Championship Games (January 22) if they win their Divisional games. The conference champions advance to Super Bowl XL at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan on February 5.


Six of the past eight Super Bowl champions have returned to the playoffs this year and are among the 12 clubs vying to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy on February 5. Those teams are: Denver (twice), New England (thrice) and Tampa Bay.

Each of the 12 teams vying for a trip to Super Bowl XL has won at least 10 games – only the third time (2000, 2003) since the current playoff format was instituted in 1990 that the entire playoff field accomplished the feat.

The 2005 playoff participants own a combined record of 138-54 (.719), the best winning percentage since the 1977 postseason field posted a .732 mark (82-30).


The New York Giants will participate in the playoffs for the 27th time, tying the Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Rams for the most playoff seasons in NFL history.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will play in their 43rd playoff game Sunday afternoon, tying the Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams for the second most postseason games ever. Only the Cowboys (54) have played more than the Steelers.

The New England Patriots are one win away from the longest playoff winning streak in NFL history. New England has won nine consecutive playoff games, tied with the VINCE LOMBARDI-led Green Bay Packers (1961-62, 1965-67).

Following is a list of this year’s 12 playoff teams and their postseason records:


Carolina Panthers 4 2 .667
New England Patriots 16 10 .615
Washington Redskins 22 15 .595
Pittsburgh Steelers 24 18 .571
Denver Broncos 16 14 .533
Jacksonville Jaguars 4 4 .500
Chicago Bears 14 15 .483
Indianapolis Colts 13 15 .464
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6 7 .462
New York Giants 16 21 .432
Cincinnati Bengals 5 7 .417
Seattle Seahawks 3 7 .300



Washington Redskins 5 0 1.000
Carolina Panthers 1 0 1.000
Cincinnati Bengals 1 0 1.000
New York Giants 4 2 .667
Jacksonville Jaguars 2 1 .667
Pittsburgh Steelers 3 2 .600
New England Patriots 2 2 .500
Tampa Bay
Buccaneers 1 3 .250


Denver Broncos 7 3 .700
Indianapolis Colts 4 6 .400
Chicago Bears 3 6 .333
Seattle Seahawks 1 2 .333


HOME SWEET HOME -- MAYBE: While homefield advantage throughout the playoffs is a coveted prize, it has been no guarantee of a trip to the Super Bowl. And like so much about the NFL, an unpredictable result is seemingly the only predictable outcome.

Since the NFL adopted the 12-team playoff format in 1990, only 15 of 30 (50 percent) No. 1 seeds have advanced to the Super Bowl with eight No. 1s being crowned NFL champions (27 percent).

A look at how the No. 1 seeds have fared since 1990:

1990 Buffalo Lost Super Bowl XXV San Francisco Lost NFC
1991 Buffalo Lost Super Bowl XXVI Washington Won Super Bowl XXVI
1992 Pittsburgh Lost Divisional San Francisco Lost NFC
1993 Buffalo Lost Super Bowl XXVIII Dallas Won Super Bowl XXVIII
1994 Pittsburgh Lost AFC Championship San Francisco Won Super Bowl XXIX
1995 Kansas City Lost Divisional Dallas Won Super Bowl XXX
196 Denver Lost Divisional Green Bay Won Super Bowl XXXI
1997 Kansas City Lost Divisional San Francisco Lost NFC
1998 Denver Won Super Bowl XXXIII Minnesota Lost NFC
1999 Jacksonville Lost AFC Championship St. Louis Won Super Bowl XXXIV
2000 Tennessee Lost Divisional New York
Lost Super Bowl XXXV
2001 Pittsburgh Lost AFC Championship St. Louis Lost Super Bowl XXXVI
2002 Oakland Lost Super Bowl XXXVII Philadelphia Lost NFC
2003 New England Won Super Bowl XXXVIII Philadelphia Lost NFC
2004 Pittsburgh Lost AFC Championship Philadelphia Lost Super Bowl XXXIX

UNDEFEATED AT HOME: The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks are the only two NFL teams to finish the 2005 season with undefeated home records.
Since 1995, 21 clubs have sent their fans home happy throughout the season, finishing with 8-0 records at home.

However, only nine of those clubs have earned a trip to the Super Bowl, further proving that in the NFL, you just never know.

The teams (since 1995) to finish with 8-0 records at home and their final season result:

1995 Kansas City Chiefs 13-3 Lost Divisional Playoffs
1996 Carolina Panthers 12-4 Lost NFC Championship
1996 Denver Broncos 13-3 Lost Divisional Playoffs
1996 Green Bay Packers 13-3 Won Super Bowl XXXI
1997 Denver Broncos 12-4 Won Super Bowl XXXII
1997 Green Bay Packers 13-3 Lost Super Bowl XXXII
1997 Kansas City Chiefs 13-3 Lost Divisional Playoffs
1997 San Francisco 49ers 13-3 Lost NFC Championship
1998 Atlanta Falcons 14-2 Lost Super Bowl XXXIII
1998 Denver Broncos 14-2 Won Super Bowl XXXIII
1998 Minnesota Vikings 15-1 Lost NFC Championship
1998 San Francisco 49ers 12-4 Lost Divisional Playoffs
1999 Tennessee Titans 13-3 Lost Super Bowl XXXIV
1999 St. Louis Rams 13-3 Won Super Bowl XXXIV
2002 Green Bay Packers 12-4 Lost Wild Card Playoffs
2003 Kansas City Chiefs 13-3 Lost Divisional Playoffs
2003 New England Patriots 14-2 Won Super Bowl XXXVIII
2003 St. Louis Rams 12-4 Lost Divisional Playoffs
2003 Seattle Seahawks 10-6 Lost Wild Card Playoffs
2004 New England Patriots 14-2 Won Super Bowl XXXIX
2004 Pittsburgh Steelers 15-1 Lost AFC Championship

Friday, January 06, 2006



Fans To Vote For Winner On NFL.com or Via Sprint Wireless Service.

The National Football League today announced the five finalists for the 2005 DIET PEPSI NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR award.

SHAWNE MERRIMAN Linebacker San Diego Chargers
LOFA TATUPU Linebacker Seattle Seahawks
ODELL THURMAN Linebacker Cincinnati Bengals
DE MARCUS WARE Linebacker Dallas Cowboys
CARNELL “CADILLAC” WILLIAMS Running Back Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Fans can vote for one of these five players on NFL.com or SuperBowl.com from January 6 through January 30 to determine the 2005 DIET PEPSI NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR.

In addition, for the first time, NFL fans may cast their votes for the 2005 DIET PEPSI NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR using phones with Sprint wireless service - an opportunity available only to Sprint customers. This fast, convenient
voting method involves texting the word PEPSI to short code 51933. Sprint customers will then receive an interactive text message ballot that lists the five finalists.
The winner will be presented the 2005 DIET PEPSI NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR award during a press conference in Detroit, the site of Super Bowl XL, on Thursday, February 2, 2006.

The five finalists were selected for their outstanding performances throughout the 2005 NFL season. Each week, five nominees were chosen for Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week and NFL fans voted for the winner on NFL.com.

Those results were used to help determine the finalists.

Following is a closer look at the five 2005 DIET PEPSI NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR finalists:

SHAWNE MERRIMAN (San Diego Chargers) -- Merriman finished the season ranked first among NFL rookies, and 15th overall, with 10 sacks. He made an immediate impact on the Chargers’ defense, recording 57 tackles, the fifth-highest total on the team. Some of Merriman’s best performances came in San Diego’s biggest games. In a
Week 8 victory over the AFC West-rival Kansas City Chiefs, he recorded five tackles an two sacks. Then, when the Chargers knocked off the previously-undefeated Indianapolis Colts in Week 15, he recorded seven tackles and two sacks. Merriman, who attended the University of Maryland, was nominated for four Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of
the Week awards, winning once.

LOFA TATUPU (Seattle Seahawks): In his rookie season, Tatupu led the Seahawks defense with 104 total tackles,togo along with his four sacks, three interceptions and one fumble recovery. In a Week 10 victory over the NFC West-rival St. Louis Rams, Tatupu recorded 10 tackles and one sack. He had a 13-tackle performance in a win over the New York Giants in Week 12 and scored his first career touchdown on a 38-yard interception return the following week in a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Tatupu, who attended the University of Southern California was nominated for four Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week awards this season.

ODELL THURMAN (Cincinnati Bengals): Thurman led the Bengals in tackles with 98 and led all rookies with five interceptions this season. The middle linebacker got off to a fast start in 2005, recording seven tackles and one interception in his NFL debut, a Week 1 Bengals victory over the AFC North-rival Cleveland Browns. Thurman, scored his first career NFL touchdown on a 30-yard interception return in a Week 6 victory over the Tennessee Titans. In a Week 13 victory over the rival Pittsburgh Steelers that helped the Bengals clinch the AFC North title, Thurman recorded nine tackles, one interception and one forced fumble. Thurman, who attended the University of
Georgia, was nominated for three Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week awards this season, winning one.

DE MARCUS WARE (Dallas Cowboys): Dallas linebacker DeMarcus Ware ranked second among NF rookies with eight sacks this season. His 58 tackles in 2005 were fifth-most on the Cowboys’ defense. Ware recorded a sack in four consecutive games from Week 3 to Week 6, with the Cowboys winning three of the four contests. He also finished the season strong, registering nine tackles, three sacks and three forced fumbles in a Week 16 victory over the Carolina Panthers. Ware, who attended Troy University, was nominated for three Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week awards, winning one.

CARNELL "CADILLAC" WILLIAMS (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Williams set a Buccaneers single-season record with six 100-yard rushing games in 2005, including three to start the season. He finished with 1,178 yards and six touchdowns on 290 carries. Williams rushed for 148, 128 and 158 yards respectively in Weeks 1-3, announcing
his arrival on the NFL scene. He provided the Buccaneers with several strong performances down the stretch of the season as well, including a 112-yard, two-touchdown effort in a Week 14 victory over the NFC South-rival Carolina Panthers and a 150-yard, one-touchdown game in a Week 16 victory over the NFL South-rival Atlanta Falcons. Williams, who attended Auburn University, was nominated for seven Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week awards, winning three.

Diet Pepsi is the official soft drink of the NFL. This is Pepsi's fourth year as a league sponsor.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Maurice Clarett's in big trouble - accused of robbery

Maurice Clarett, who was the favored draft pick of this blogger, got into big trouble, and I can only hope it's a case of mistaken identity. Another thing: this is Columbus, Ohio at night -- the bartender could have made a mistake. It wasn't the people who claimed they were robbed. Plus, why didn't the bartender see him in the bar. Read's as fishy to me. He entered a "not guilty" plea, so that tells you something.

Here's the report below; for my take on his being drafted by the Denver Broncos, click on the title of this post.

By ERICA RYAN Associated Press Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio Jan 3, 2006 — Former Ohio State football star Maurice Clarett appeared in court in handcuffs and jail-issue clothing Tuesday when a judge set bond at $50,000 on charges that he robbed two people with a gun in an alley behind a bar.

Clarett, who helped the Buckeyes win the national championship in 2002, will have to post 10 percent of the bond set by Franklin County Municipal Judge Amy Salerno. He did not enter a plea and did not speak in court. His next hearing is Jan. 12.

"We are looking forward to investigating the allegations," Clarett's attorney, William Seppina, said outside court. "That's all I can say."

Each of the two charges of aggravated robbery carries a possible sentence of three to 10 years.

After spending the better part of two days wanted by police, Clarett surrendered Monday night, about the time the fourth-ranked Buckeyes were completing a 34-20 win over No. 5 Notre Dame in Tempe, Ariz., for their third Fiesta Bowl victory in four years.

The 22-year-old Clarett was wanted since early Sunday, when police said he flashed a gun and demanded property from a man and a woman behind the Opium Lounge in downtown Columbus.

Police said he fled with two men in a sport utility vehicle after he was identified by the bar owner, who happened to come out into the alley. No one was injured, and only a cell phone was taken from the alleged victims, police said.

Clarett sat out the 2003 season when he was charged with lying to police about the value of items stolen from a car he borrowed. He later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

Ohio State suspended Clarett for misleading investigators, and for receiving special benefits worth thousands of dollars from a family friend.

Clarett also unsuccessfully challenged the NFL's requirement that players wait three years after high school before turning pro in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. He was chosen by the Denver Broncos in last year's draft, but the team cut him in August.

Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel said the day before the Fiesta Bowl that he had recently spoken with Clarett about playing in Europe.

Purge Monday in the NFL

Some call it "Black Monday" but I prefer to call it "Purge Monday" in the NFL. Yesterday was the day that several team coaches -- and one executive -- were fired. Some of the releases were expected; others not.

Let's start with the surprise firiing of popular Green Bay Packers coach Mike Sherman. Earlier in the year, he was given a vote of confidence by Packers brass and QB Brett Farve said he would not come back if Sherman was let go. I personally think you should not change coaches one year after bringing in a high number one draft pick at quarterback. If the Packers don't retain the same offensive system it will be a huge managerial mistake.

The other terminations were of Mike Tice with the Vikings, Dom Capers with the Texans, Steve Marriucci with the Lions, and Jim Haslett with the New Orleans Saints. The Saints' Katrina-impacted season was not Haslett's fault. But it did seem as if he was about to totally lose it several times at press conferences rather than maintain a much-needed leveling cool.

Today, The Oakland Raiders are expected to annouce the firing of their head Norv Turner. NFL Network reports that he's already cleaning out his office after two short years.

The Cleveland Browns reportedly fired their GM Phil Savage and just one year after they hired him away from the Baltimore Ravens, claiming him a kind of boy wonder. There's more to that story, so stay tuned.

Will the Houston Texans be the latest NFL team to skirt the "Rooney Rule" regarding the selection of minority head coaches?

Last week, ESPN's John Clayton reported that Ex-Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos coach Dan Reeves could be the next coach of the Houston Texans, or at least play a role in selecting the team's second leader.

Now, NFL Network -- via a news conference with Broncos' Head Coach Mike Shanahan -- tells us that the Texans are to interview Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.

For those who don't know the name, Kubiak was originally a backup quarterback with the Dallas Cowboys while Reeves was Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator under Tom Landry. Then he was brought into the Broncos organization when Reeves was head coach. Now, he's being eyed for his first head coaching job -- this one with the Houston Texans.

What bothers me are two things: that with all of the black players around him, Reeves chooses to be mentor to a white player who's skill was marginal at best, and that this person's being pushed toward the Texans as a head coaching candidate.

What really steam me is that Bob McNair -- the owner of the Houston Texans and a person I have the utmost respect for -- is allowing this to happen, or at least the perception that it is going on.

What also bugs me is that very bright African American minds like that of Bengals Wide Receiver Coach Hue Jackson are not even being considered for head coaching jobs. Think about it.

Here's Hue Jackson, who's served as offensive coordinator for Steve Marriucci at Cal, then at USC, then offensive coordinator under Steve Spurrier when he was with the Washington Redskins. Think about it. Hue's absorbed more information on state of the art passing systems than anyone. Yet, we don't here his name.

That's stupid. It's also exemplary of how racism and prejudice blocks out society from elevating the truly best and brightest to the level of boss. Thus, it can be argued that our system has not reached its lofty potential.

I'm glad I learned programming and coding on the Internet, because I have little faith in society -- even as I have a lot in the Lord.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Memo to New Orleans Saints Staff from Team Owner, Tom Benson - from the NFL

This memo was written by Saints' Owner Tom Benson, and even though he wrote it for the organizations' staff, the National Football League released it for distribution by the member's of its press corp. Here it is below, with my commentary to follow

December 30, 2005


Hurricane Katrina overwhelmed New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region this past year. All citizens, businesses and governmental agencies in the region are continuing to deal with the recovery and rebuilding effort. Our Saints organization did many exceptional and unprecedented things to keep operating and play its entire 2005 schedule. We received tremendous cooperation in the San Antonio community to accomplish this.

While we are disappointed with our won-loss record, we are looking forward to recapturing the winning momentum we had at the end of the 2004 season and to playing the 2006 season knowing that many of this year's challenges will be behind us.

Recently I met with Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and told him that I wanted the Saints to resume operations in our training and practice facility in Metairie. Subsequently, it has been confirmed that our facility has been released back to us by FEMA and the National Guard. Today we are very pleased to advise our entire organization -- coaches, players and staff -- that we will be returning to Metairie in January to resume our off-season and regular season training operations there. Our facility will be fully staffed and open for player use on a regular basis by mid January. The schedule for players, including organized team activities, will be conducted in the same manner as in past seasons.

We will continue to work closely with the NFL and other entities to develop a sound playing schedule for our 2006 pre-season and regular season that will be very attractive for all Saints fans, both old and new. We are working in Louisiana to play as many games as possible in the Superdome, which may be ready in September. Many complex questions still need to be resolved in this area, and we expect to have answers to these scheduling questions early in the off-season. Along with the League and the business community in New Orleans, we will work with each of you to make the transition back to Metairie as smooth as possible.

In beginning preparations for a successful 2006 season, we have already reviewed with the NFL office a preliminary Saints playing schedule for the 2006 season that includes significantly reduced away game travel and attractive home games with the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals as part of an overall slate of great match-ups.

I am proud of everyone in the Saints organization, and we should join all citizens in the Gulf Coast region in looking forward to a better year in 2006.


I think releasing this was the right action because the public image of Bentson was that he was going to use the Katrina Disaster as a reason to move the team to ...LA, perhaps. On the matter of LA, I feel the NFL's making a mistake in not carefully packaging the approach to filling that market. They must develop a plan to sell the team, and that strategy must integrate the stadium's design with the organization's overall marketing system. In other words, "themed entertainment" should be the objective. Hollywood Exec Michael Ovitiz' orginal plan for "The Hacinda" -- a 70,000-seat stadium design based on a Spanish mission, was a great example of what I'm talking about; all the way down to the ringing of the mission bells when the team scored a touchdown.

Anything less than this will prove a fiscal failure. The LA market is far too competitive for a conventional approach to NFL expansion.

Vikings head coach Mike Tice fired -- annouced just 20 minutes ago on ESPN

After a controversial year which saw the departure of Randy Moss to the Oakland Raiders, the acquistion of seven new defensive players, a new offensive coordinator, and a terrible incident of indecent exposure involving 17 players, Mike Tice, the Minnesota Vikings head coach, was fired after their 34 to 10 victory over the Chicago Bears, who had already cliched home field advantage for the playoffs.

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