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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

S.I.'s Michael Silver On Bill Walsh's Genius - The Passing Of Bill Walsh

Early in his coaching tenure with the San Francisco 49ers, before he turned a long-suffering franchise into the greatest organization in professional sports, Bill Walsh once cut a player on the practice field.

Enraged by a cheap shot, Walsh fired the player -- who, to be fair, was not one of the team's major contributors -- right there on the spot, ordering a member of the security staff to escort him out of the building. To underscore his point, Walsh trailed behind as the two men trudged toward the locker room, screaming, "Don't even let him f----- shower!"

This was Walsh, who died today at 75 after a long bout with leukemia, at his most ruthless. Yet there was a calculated brilliance behind his brashness: After he took over in 1979, no Niner dared cross the new man in charge.

Nearly a decade later, as he was losing his grip after having completed the most impressive NFL coaching run since Vince Lombardi's in Green Bay, Walsh sometimes directed his enmity toward members of the local media. He was equal parts paranoid and condescending, and when he stepped down following his third Super Bowl title in January 1989, there wasn't a whole lot of sentimental sadness in either the press room or the locker room.

A few months later, I began covering the team as a beat writer for a Northern California paper, and the horror stories about Walsh's final days circulated with abandon. But he and I hit it off from the start, and over the next 17-plus years, whether I sought his opinion as a television analyst, as the progenitor of an offensive philosophy and unmatched tree of executive and coaching excellence, as a reinstalled Stanford mentor who'd just toyed with Joe Paterno, or a personnel guru who temporarily brought the 49ers back to prominence, he was invariably wise, witty and kind.

When people would ask about my relationship with the white-haired legend, I used to respond jokingly -- well, maybe half-jokingly -- that he and I bonded based on our shared belief of an unassailable tenet: Bill Walsh was a genius.

It wasn't that far from the truth. Growing up in L.A. as an oft-humiliated fan of the hometown Rams' chief rivals, I spent my high-school years watching in awe as Walsh transformed a 49ers team that went 2-14 his first year and 6-10 his second into a first-time champion in his third.

Because of Walsh, the franchise of a thousand choke jobs was now led by a cool, magical quarterback named Joe Montana, whose passes were as picturesque as the Golden Gate Bridge in heavy fog.

Because of Walsh, a group of young hellions led by Ronnie Lott took over a malleable defense that suddenly played with dash and defiance.

Because of Walsh and his innovative offensive schemes, receivers were five yards open, a 10th-round draft pick named Dwight Clark would become an All-Pro and Bay Area legend, and a washed-up running back named Lenvil Elliott would gain many of the key yards on the dramatic drive that produced The Catch.

On a more personal level, because of Walsh, I could wear my ratty, way-too-small 49ers jersey to school on Jan. 11, 1982, and for the first time in my life no one would dare laugh.

So, yes, after I started covering the Niners and thus stopped loving them like a gushy teenager, I was predisposed to think pretty highly of Walsh. But the more I learned of him -- and from him -- the greater my appreciation became.

In an era in which many head coaches callously prohibit their assistants from talking to the media (and, by extension, hurt their profiles and potential for attracting the interests of other employers), Walsh did the opposite, vigorously promoting the virtues of the coaches who worked under him through the press and back-channel diplomacy. This was especially true when it came to minority coaching candidates. Indeed, undoing racial injustices when it came to such hires remained one of Walsh's primary causes long after he stepped away.

Remember that in early January 1989, shortly before Walsh resigned as the Niners' coach, his receivers coach, Denny Green, got the Stanford job -- largely on the strength of his boss's recommendation. Walsh's reaction in the midst of a tense playoff drive? He essentially allowed Green to become the Cardinal's fulltime coach while filling in with the Niners whenever time allowed.

It's not surprising that, unlike Jimmy Johnson and other successful NFL head coaches whose assistants turned out to be substandard bosses, Walsh saw his legacy carried on directly (George Seifert, Mike Holmgren, Ray Rhodes, Green) and indirectly (Mike Shanahan, Jeff Fisher, Jon Gruden). It was Walsh, after all, who not only revolutionized football strategy with the West Coast Offense, but who also created the organizational blueprint for the modern franchise, from the down-to-the-precise-minute daily schedule to the filming of practices and play-installation meetings.

Give me an hour, and I can go on and on about the other areas in which Walsh made a lasting impact, including his insistence on cutting prominent players a year before their decline, rather than after it, all things being equal. Critics might call this another example of his ruthlessness, and some victims of the policy, such as Clark, would hold a longtime grudge.

But if you paid attention to the 49ers, you eventually understood that Walsh knew best, for he -- more than even Lott or Montana or Jerry Rice or owner Eddie DeBartolo -- was the man most responsible for the franchise's unprecedented run of excellence that included five Super Bowl championships in 14 years.

Manipulative as he might have been -- like all great coaches, really -- Walsh boldly strove for excellence and wasn't averse to risking everything while doing so. Every move he made was meant to create or sustain a dynasty, from the 1987 trade for Steve Young, that triggered a years-long quarterback controversy, to his persuading of Montana, Clark and other veterans not to cross the picket line during the '87 players' strike for fear of the damage to team chemistry it might cause (they nonetheless returned the following week).

As that strike reminded us, Walsh was a tactician whose brilliance shone behind-the-scenes and, most glaringly, on Sundays in front of a rapt, football-watching nation.

Playing his first game with replacement players against the Bill Parcells-coached Giants on Monday Night Football, Walsh, during interviews with the New York media, made a big deal about the presence on the roster of backup quarterback Mark Stevens, who'd run the option in college. Stevens, Walsh suggested, might be inserted in specific situations in which the Phony Niners could utilize his speed and running ability.

Sure enough, before a short-yardage play near midfield, Stevens came sprinting into the huddle, and everyone waited to see Walsh unveil his new toy. The bait successfully lowered, Stevens took the snap, faked a handoff, dropped back in the pocket and calmly delivered a touchdown pass to a wide-open receiver.

On one level, the whole thing was kind of coldblooded. It was also funny and sublime and, yes, genius. That was Bill Walsh, and those of us who got to observe him up close will remember him that way until we, too, are told to disappear without showering.

Something To Share About Coach Bill Walsh - Zennie Abraham

I only met Coach Walsh three times, and on every occasion he always referred to me as "Lenny" rather than "Zennie" but he never refused to take time to talk to me about his system, and I was into the details of it, like the "hitch step" for example, which is simply the extra step a QB takes just before throwing, and the concept of throwing without a hitch step, which is hard as hell to do -- try it yourself.

The point is that he would always share.

But what really rankled me -- and still does today -- is how many people, reporters, incorrectly describe "The Walsh System." It's always "short, ball control" and left at that.

That's so wrong.

Yes, that was a part of it. But man, that wasn't even the difference. It was the way of thinking.

To illustrate how different Coach Walsh's system was, let me compare it to the Dallas Cowboys passing game concept under Coach Tom Landry.

The Cowboys were known for passing plays that essentially "pulled" a defense into a particular direction and then took advantage of how the defense deployed itself as a result.

For example, one of the most successful plays the Cowboys ran in the 70s -- when Walsh was developing his ideas -- came out of split backs or "Red or Green Formation." The Flanker went in half motion toward the tight-end, and then
released at the snap of the ball.

The play started as a "sweep" running play, with both guards pulling, the fullback lead blocking and the halfback running. Then the QB would fake a handoff to the halfback, and then look down field.

The Flanker who went in motion toward the tight end then ran a crossing pattern 15 - 20 yards. Meanwhile the Split End ran a kind of "mirror" crossing pattern. The offensive play caused both safeties in a standard Cover Two -- which is what the Pittsburgh Steelers played at the time -- to essentially go deep and move wider apart, leaving the Flanker all alone on the crossing route.

That play worked in Super Bowl X, where Drew Pearson caught a 47-yard touchdown pass. But it failed to work later in the same game because Steelers safety Mike Wagner didn't move deep. When Split End Doug Donley ran his crossing pattern, Wagner stayed home rather than move deep or follow him.

The result was an interception, which surprised Dallas QB Roger Staubach -- "It was the first time it didn't work" Staubach remarked later.

Well, let's think about it. That play was designed to throw to one -- and only one -- receiver, the Flanker. The Split End was a decoy and the tight end wasn't even a factor in the play -- the running backs were strictly used for run fakes and then forgotten about.

Coach Walsh's offense didn't have so many decoys. And in his offense, there was always another receiver to go to. It was flexible, which was new at the time. It was so new that Paul Hackett, who was Coach Walsh's QB coach and passing game student, was hired as Offensive Coordinator by the Cowboys under Landry in '83 I believe. It didn't work out because Hackett's learned idea of flexibility conflicted with the "fixed" philosophy Landry held. So Landry was an example of many
coaches who didn't "get" what Bill was doing at the time.

How would Coach Walsh have changed that play? Ha. The fullback that is the lead blocker would have ran an "up" pattern off the run block fake. The Halfback would have ran a swing pattern after the sweep fake.

The Flanker's crossing pattern would remain. The Split End would have ran a fly pattern. So the order of recever progression would have been 1) Split End, 2) Flanker, 3) Fullback, 4) Halfback (hot receiver). The key read would have been the weak (free) safety. The Split End was essentially clearing out for the Flanker, who was clearing out for the fullback.


That's not just an example of how Coach Walsh would have done it, it's an example of how his way is so basic and logical that it can be shown to a guy like me, and I can repeat it with confidence.

That's a pure tribute to the man.

But what I will most miss, Ray, is Coach Walsh as a member of the Bay Area sports community -- don't forget the impact he had on the Big Game rivalry.

You know, we're blessed to be around so many great people in one area of America. What a sad day. I was at JFK Airport in New York when I got the news Monday. The plane ride home -- from CNN -- was hard, so very hard. Reading Coach Dungy's book "Quiet Strength" helped some -- a good book by a great man who -- as one might expect -- was touched
by Coach Walsh.

49ers and Stanford Coach Bill Walsh Passes Away - NFL.com

Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh dies
NFL.com wire reports

SAN FRANCISCO (July 30, 2007) -- Bill Walsh, the groundbreaking football coach who won three Super Bowls and perfected the ingenious schemes that became known as the West Coast offense during a Hall of Fame career with the San Francisco 49ers, has died. He was 75.

Walsh died at his Woodside home following a long battle with leukemia, according to Stanford University, where he served as coach and athletic director.

"This is just a tremendous loss for all of us, especially to the Bay Area because of what he meant to the 49ers," said Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, the player most closely linked to Walsh's tenure with the team. "For me personally, outside of my dad he was probably the most influential person in my life. I am going to miss him."

Walsh didn't become an NFL head coach until 47, and he spent just 10 seasons on the San Francisco sideline. But he left an indelible mark on the United States' most popular sport, building the once-woebegone 49ers into the most successful team of the 1980s with his innovative offensive strategies and teaching techniques.

The soft-spoken native Californian also produced a legion of coaching disciples that's still growing today. Many of his former assistants went on to lead their own teams, handing down Walsh's methods and schemes to dozens more coaches in a tree with innumerable branches.

Walsh went 102-63-1 with the 49ers, winning 10 of his 14 postseason games along with six division titles. He was named the NFL's coach of the year in 1981 and 1984.

Few men did more to shape the look of football into the 21st century. His cerebral nature and often-brilliant stratagems earned him the nickname "The Genius" well before his election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.

Walsh twice served as the 49ers' general manager, and George Seifert led San Francisco to two more Super Bowl titles after Walsh left the sideline. Walsh also coached Stanford during two terms over five seasons.

Bill Walsh turned the struggling 49ers into the Team of the '80s.
Even a short list of Walsh's adherents is stunning. Seifert, Mike Holmgren, Dennis Green, Sam Wyche, Ray Rhodes and Bruce Coslet all became NFL head coaches after serving on Walsh's San Francisco staffs, and Tony Dungy played for him. Most of his former assistants passed on Walsh's structures and strategies to a new generation of coaches, including Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden, Brian Billick, Andy Reid, Pete Carroll, Gary Kubiak, Steve Mariucci and Jeff Fisher.

Walsh created the Minority Coaching Fellowship program in 1987, helping minority coaches to get a foothold in a previously lily-white profession. Marvin Lewis and Tyrone Willingham are among the coaches who went through the program, later adopted as a league-wide initiative.

He also helped to establish the World League of American Football -- what was NFL Europe -- in 1994, taking the sport around the globe as a development ground for the NFL.

Walsh was diagnosed with leukemia in 2004 and underwent months of treatment and blood transfusions. He publicly disclosed his illness in November 2006, but appeared at a tribute for retired receiver Jerry Rice two weeks later.

While Walsh recuperated from a round of chemotherapy in late 2006, he received visits from former players and assistant coaches, as well as California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Born William Ernest Walsh on Nov. 30, 1931 in Los Angeles, he was a self-described "average" end and a sometime boxer at San Jose State in 1952-53.

Walsh, whose family moved to the Bay Area when he was a teen-ager, married his college sweetheart, Geri Nardini, in 1954 and started his coaching career at Washington High School in Fremont, leading the football and swim teams.

Walsh was coaching in Fremont when he interviewed for an assistant coaching position with Levy, who had just been hired as the head coach at California.

"I was very impressed, individually, by his knowledge, by his intelligence, by his personality and hired him," Levy said.

After Cal, he did a stint at Stanford before beginning his pro coaching career as an assistant with the AFL's Oakland Raiders in 1966, forging a friendship with Al Davis that endured through decades of rivalry. Walsh joined the Cincinnati Bengals in 1968 to work for legendary coach Paul Brown, who gradually gave complete control of the Bengals' offense to his assistant.

Walsh built a scheme based on the teachings of Davis, Brown and Sid Gillman -- and Walsh's own innovations, which included everything from short dropbacks and novel receiving routes to constant repetition of every play in practice.

Though it originated in Cincinnati, it became known many years later as the West Coast offense -- a name Walsh never liked or repeated, but which eventually grew to encompass his offensive philosophy and the many tweaks added by Holmgren, Shanahan and other coaches.

Much of the NFL eventually ran a version of the West Coast in the 1990s, with its fundamental belief that the passing game can set up an effective running attack, rather than the opposite conventional wisdom.

Walsh also is widely credited with inventing or popularizing many of the modern basics of coaching, from the laminated sheets of plays held by coaches on almost every sideline, to the practice of scripting the first 15 offensive plays of a game.

After a bitter falling-out with Brown in 1976, Walsh left for stints with the San Diego Chargers and Stanford before the 49ers chose him to rebuild the franchise in 1979.

The long-suffering 49ers went 2-14 before Walsh's arrival. They repeated the record in his first season. Walsh doubted his abilities to turn around such a miserable situation -- but earlier in 1979, the 49ers drafted quarterback Joe Montana from Notre Dame.

Walsh turned over the starting job to Montana in 1980, when the 49ers improved to 6-10 -- and improbably, San Francisco won its first championship in 1981, only two years after winning two games.

Championships followed in the postseasons of 1984 and 1988 as Walsh built a consistent winner and became an icon with his inventive offense and thinking-man's approach to the game. He also showed considerable acumen in personnel, adding Ronnie Lott, Charles Haley, Roger Craig and Rice to his rosters after he was named the 49ers' general manager in 1982 and the president in 1985.

Walsh left the 49ers with a profound case of burnout after his third Super Bowl victory in January 1989, though he later regretted not coaching longer.

He spent three years as a broadcaster with NBC before returning to Stanford for three seasons. He then took charge of the 49ers' front office in 1999, helping to rebuild the roster over three seasons. But Walsh gradually cut ties with the 49ers after his hand-picked successor as GM, Terry Donahue, took over in 2001.

He is survived by his wife, Geri, and two children, Craig and Elizabeth.

Walsh's son, Steve, an ABC News reporter, died of leukemia at age 46 in 2002.

Monday, July 30, 2007

New York Jets Training Camp Video - Jets Confidential

It's the start of training camp and the first football games of preseason are not far away. While in New York for my CNN appearance, I went to New York Jets Training Camp with my good friend and business buddy Bill Chachkes. In this video we get a glimpse of the Jets passing offense, Chad Pennington, and an interview with Dan Leberfeld of Jets Confidential

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Oakland Raiders Broke? JaMarcus Russell Deal May Be Five Years Due To Revenue Problems - Profootballtalk.com

I figured the Oakland Raiders may have problems signing a quaterback on time, even with the new CBA. They're still playing in the Oakland Coliseum, which needs to be re-designed to generate more revenue.

RUSSELL DEAL COULD BE FOR FIVE YEARS - Rumor from Profootballtalk.com

A league source tells us that the negotiation of a contract between the Raiders and No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell has been and will continue to be a difficult process, and that the Raiders might end up signing Russell a five-year deal.

Per the source, there are whispers of cash issues in Oakland that could prevent the team from funding a six-year package. Though we don't know whether that's a certainty, there's definitely some wisdom in scaling the contract back by a year, since no one knows at this point whether Russell will be a Peyton Manning or a Ryan Leaf. If it's the latter, the team has less money at risk.

Russell is represented by the firm of Metz, Lock, and Malinovic. They also represent receiver Dwayne Bowe. The No. 23 overall selection is a holdout in Kansas City. Said the source about the situation in Oakland, "It will be a long holdout unless the agents take a bad deal."

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cal's Marshawn Lynch Signed By Buffalo - $18.9 million - Profootballtalk.com


A league source tells us that the Bills have reached an agreement with running back Marshawn Lynch, the No. 12 selection in the 2007 draft. (Adam Schefter of NFL Network was the first to report this.)

Lynch will receive $10,285,000 in guaranteed money, and the total value of the package is $18,935,000 on a five-year deal. (Technically, it's a six-year deal that voids to five if Lynch meets a minimum playing time threshold.)

The key is the duration; Lynch is the fourth player taken in the top 16 who could have been required to sign a six-year deal, but who got in the end a five-year contract.

The former California tailback is expected to step in immediately as the starter, given the offseason trade of Willis McGahee.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Falcons News Conference On The Michael Vick Issue

I'm watching Atlanta Falcons' Owner Arthur Blank, General Managr Rich McKay, and Head Coach Bobby Petrino talk to the media about the Michael Vick issue.

If you've not followed this, Vick's indicted for being involved in felony dogfighting. This press conference is for the Falcons; heads to explain to the public how they're dealing with this.

To me, it seems as if Arthur Blank's forced to walk a tightrope between supporting Vick and not upsetting the activitist animal rights organizations that have been crawling all over them.

More soon..

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Michael Vick's In Big Trouble But Not Convicted

As you may know, Michael Vick's been convicted of running a dogfighting ring, a felony offense. I'll write more about this soon, but here's the details from George Dormann of Sports Illustrated:

Shocking charges
Indictment against Vick describes unfathomable acts
Posted: Tuesday July 17, 2007 11:42PM; Updated: Wednesday July 18, 2007 2:39PM

During an April raid of Vick's property in Virginia, authorities seized 66 dogs and equipment commonly used in dog fighting.

By George Dohrmann, SI.com
The indictment handed down Tuesday against Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and three others describes in detail how they procured a property in Virginia for the purpose of staging dogfights, bought dogs and then fought them there, and in several other states, over a 6-year period. With at least three cooperating witnesses providing the details, federal authorities compiled a detailed case that traces the birth and rise of Bad Newz Kennels.

But not a single line in the 18-page indictment will generate more rage toward Vick and the others charged -- Purnell A. Peace, Quanis L. Phillips and Tony Taylor -- than a sentence near the end. It reads: "In or about April of 2007, Peace, Phillips and Vick executed approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in 'testing' sessions at 1915 Moonlight Road by various methods, including hanging, drowning and slamming at least one dog's body to the ground."

In interviews I conducted for an earlier story on the subculture of dogfighting and Vick's involvement, several experts described to me the process of "rolling" dogs. Owners take young dogs, usually puppies, and put them in an enclosed area and see how they react. They prod the dogs and urge them to get angry. If a dog shows aggression toward another dog, that's a positive. If a dog is timid, it is useless. Some fighters give away puppies that don't show the required "gameness." Other owners don't bother with the trouble of finding them a home and simply kill them.

Vick and his three associates, according to the indictment, fall in the latter category. Federal investigators allege Vick is a murderer of dogs who weren't willing to fight for his enjoyment. Even worse, his actions appear more sinister than most professional dogfighters.

"If you want to kill a dog, why exert the energy to slam him into the ground or drown him? Why not just shoot him, which is the most common method?" says John Goodwin, dogfighting expert for the Humane Society of the United States. "That is insane. These guys, if they did that, have serious problems."

Vick's problems would seem to be plentiful now that he has gone from a person of interest in local and federal investigations to one of four men charged in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va., with conspiracy to commit interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and to sponsor a dog in an animal-fighting venture. On the Travel Act portion of the conspiracy charges, he faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The dogfighting charges carry a possible sentence of one year in prison, a $100,000 fine or both.

Still, even with the gravity of the crimes alleged, Vick's most serious problem would seem to be one of perception. If one believes the allegations against him, Vick is neither a novice dogfighter nor or a hobbyist who dipped his toe into the sport briefly. The indictment alleges Vick is a professional dogfighter who"sponsored" more than two dozen dogfights. He is not, as he previously said, someone who merely trusted the wrong people. Rather, he is the face of a bloodsport that the majority of NFL fans probably didn't know existed until the property he owned on Moonlight Road was raided in late April. And, now, he becomes the ultimate test for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and his new discipline policy.

Read the rest at S.I.:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

NFL Statement On Michael Vick - NFLMedia.com

NFL Statement on Michael Vick - NFL Media.com

We are disappointed that Michael Vick has put himself in a position where a federal grand jury has returned an indictment against him. We will continue to closely monitor developments in this case, and to cooperate with law enforcement authorities. The activities alleged are cruel, degrading and illegal. Michael Vick’s guilt has not yet been proven, and we believe that all concerned should allow the legal process to determine the facts. The matter will be reviewed under the League’s Personal Conduct Policy.


It's that time of year again! Training camps open up this week! Here's more info

“It’s time to get to work!”

So says SCOTT LINEHAN, head coach of the St. Louis Rams, about that summertime NFL staple that signals only one thing – the season is fast approaching!

NFL training camps are here. They start this Thursday, with the New York Jets (rookies) the first to report. By July 30, every club will be in camp.

“Training camp is a crucial time for a team to come together and prepare for the upcoming season,” says New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/general manager MICKEY LOOMIS.

The Saints are one of the teams that “come together” away from home (they train at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi). More and more, though, NFL clubs are training at their regular-season headquarters. The Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans this summer join the trend of “stay-at-homes” (the Titans split their 2006 camp between home and a college).

Ten years ago, only 13 percent (four of 30) of NFL clubs trained at home. This year, more than half will (53 percent, 17 of 32).

But there are holdouts to the trend. And they just may know something.


Two teams -- the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks -- will encamp at new training sites this year. While some clubs have changed their training bases during the past decade, others return to familiar venues where they have spent their summer months for years.

The NFL training camp longevity king? The Green Bay Packers, who return on July 27 for their 49th consecutive summer at St. Norbert College in DePere, Wisconsin.

The longest active NFL training camp tenures:

Training Camp
Green Bay Packers
St. Norbert College
DePere, Wisconsin
Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota State, Mankato
Mankato, Minnesota
Pittsburgh Steelers
Saint Vincent College
Latrobe, Pennsylvania
New York Jets
Hofstra University
Hempstead, New York


Indeed, the last two Super Bowl champions trained away at small colleges – the Pittsburgh Steelers (SB XL) at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and the Indianapolis Colts (SB XLI) at Rose-Hulman Institute in Terre Haute, Indiana. They will do so again at those locations this year.

The Kansas City Chiefs are another of the believers in going away to camp. They’ve trained at the University of Wisconsin in River Falls for the past 16 seasons.

“And we’ve had 12 winning seasons out of the 16 we’ve been there,” says Chiefs President CARL PETERSON.

That preparation for winning starts in camp and in the preseason schedule that will kick off on August 5. Coaches and players know the importance of these games. The past 10 Super Bowl champions prove that. Combined, they compiled almost a .700 preseason winning percentage (27-14, .659).

Once it’s kicked off, preseason is like regular season to the players. Last August 11, for instance, quarterback STEVE MC NAIR, in his first game with the Baltimore Ravens, took off on a third-and-goal and carried two defenders on his back into the end zone for a score.

“I play to win, regardless of whether it’s a preseason or regular-season game,” says McNair, speaking for all NFL players. “Once the blood gets flowing, you can’t shut it off.”

Fans this summer will be able to see what it’s like for teams to prepare for a season on NFL Network as it covers eight clubs in camp, and on HBO as it follows the Chiefs in its “Hard Knocks” reality show for five weeks of camp.

Two weeks after camps open, it’s “Hall of Fame Weekend” – a salute to football’s past, present and future – in Canton, Ohio on August 3-5.

On Saturday, August 4, the Pro Football Hall of Fame will induct its class of 2007 – GENE HICKERSON, MICHAEL IRVIN, BRUCE MATTHEWS, CHARLIE SANDERS, THURMAN THOMAS and ROGER WEHRLI. The enshrinement ceremonies will take place for the first time in primetime (6:00 PM ET) and will be broadcast live by NFL Network.

The following night, it’s the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game (8:00 PM ET) featuring the 2006 NFC Championship runner-up New Orleans Saints against the Pittsburgh Steelers, with MIKE TOMLIN directing his first game as an NFL head coach.

The game will be carried for the first time by NFL Network, with a two-hour pregame show starting at 6:00 PM ET.

The future of the game also will be nurtured during Hall of Fame weekend as the annual NFL Youth Football Summit takes place.

A group of more than 170 youth and high school football coaches and administrators from all 50 states and the District of Columbia will convene to discuss topics vital to their programs with football experts and NFL greats.

The Hall of Fame Game will be the first of 15 nationally televised contests this summer. Add to those the “wall-to-wall-ball” schedule of NFL Network – 52 games in 29 days (including two of the national TV broadcasts) – and NFL fans will be able to see first-hand the intensity of preseason competition…and the approach of the season.

The 2007 NFL training camp sites and reporting dates:


McDaniel College
Westminster, MD
St. John Fisher College
Pittsford, NY
Georgetown College
Georgetown, KY
Cleveland Browns Training Facility
Berea, OH
Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Centre
Englewood, CO
Methodist Training Center
Houston, TX
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Terre Haute, IN
Jacksonville Municipal Stadium
Jacksonville, FL
Kansas City
University of Wisconsin-River Falls
River Falls, WI
Dolphins Training Center
Davie, FL
New England
Gillette Stadium
Foxboro, MA
NY Jets
Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY
Napa Valley Marriott
Napa Valley, CA
Saint Vincent College
Latrobe, PA
San Diego
Chargers Park
San Diego, CA
Baptist Sports Park
Nashville, TN


Northern Arizona University
Flagstaff, AZ
Atlanta Falcons Training Facility
Flowery Branch, GA
Wofford College
Spartanburg, SC
Olivet Nazarene University
Bourbonnais, IL
San Antonio, TX
Detroit Lions Training Facility
Allen Park, MI
Green Bay
St. Norbert College
De Pere, WI
Minnesota State University
Mankato, MN
New Orleans
Millsaps College
Jackson, MS
NY Giants
University at Albany
Albany, NY
Lehigh University
Bethlehem, PA
St. Louis
Russell Training Center
St. Louis, MO
San Francisco
San Francisco 49ers Complex
Santa Clara, CA
Seahawks Headquarters
Kirkland, WA
Tampa Bay
Disney’s Wide World of Sports
Lake Buena Vista, FL
Redskins Park
Ashburn, VA

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Packers Sign Aaron Rouse and David Clowney; Nego With Justin Harrell

Even with this, the NFL teams are showing a good record of signings at this time. It's typical that the higher dollar draftees take longer to sign.

Packers aim to get rookies under contract
By Rob Demovsky

With organized team activities completed, the Green Bay Packers have one main objective before training camp begins in less than six weeks: Get the rest of their rookies under contract.

The Packers have signed two of their 11 draft picks, third-round pick Aaron Rouse and fifth-rounder David Clowney. The more difficult negotiations, however, have not yet begun in earnest.

General Manager Ted Thompson and vice president of player finance Andrew Brandt have a tight rookie salary pool of $4.907 million, which is the maximum amount of salary cap space the Packers can use to sign their draft picks and undrafted rookie free agents. That's about $630,000 more than the NFL rookie pool average for 2007, but no team had more draft picks than the Packers.

The Packers had the highest rookie salary pool at $6.647 million last year, when they had 12 picks, including the fifth overall selection in the draft, linebacker A.J. Hawk. Their rookie pool this year is close to what it was in 2005, when it also had 11 draft picks but selected at No. 24 in the first round. Their first-round pick this season, defensive tackle Justin Harrell, was at No. 16, meaning he likely will command more first-year money than quarterback Aaron Rodgers received as the 24th pick in 2005.

Signing bonuses won't be the difficult parts of the negotiations with the draft picks, because those tend to fall in line with the players taken in similar spots, but structuring the deals to fit under the rookie salary pool will be the challenge facing Brandt and Thompson.

"The process continues as it always has," Brandt said this week. "We're in discussions with all of our draft picks."

Considering how heavily the Packers could rely on several rookies — especially Harrell, second-round draft pick Brandon Jackson, a candidate to start at running back, and James Jones, a possible No. 3 receiver — it would behoove them to have their entire draft class under contract before training camp begins on July 28.

That timetable is even more critical for Harrell, who played in only three games last season at Tennessee due to a torn biceps tendon. That injury caused the Packers to take cautious approach with Harrell this spring, holding him out of most minicamp and OTA workouts.

Like most agents, Harrell's representative, Eugene Parker, can be difficult to negotiate with at times. One of his clients, Chicago Bears running back Cedric Benson, missed nearly all of his rookie training camp in 2005 before agreeing to a deal. However, the Packers haven't had any trouble signing Parker's clients of late. Parker represents receiver Greg Jennings, a second-round pick last season who signed before training camp. He also represented former first-round pick Ahmad Carroll, who also signed his rookie contract before camp opened.

"I'm fully confident in my agent, and he has a pretty good relationship with people here in Green Bay," Harrell said. "So pretty much, I ain't worried about that. (Signing before camp) was the goal coming in, even if I wouldn't have been hurt. My agent pretty much has a good feel where I'm coming from, and I feel 100 percent that he's going to get the job done."

Several NFL teams have signed a few draft picks, but the signing season begins in earnest now that most clubs have wrapped up their offseason workouts. The Packers completed their OTAs on Tuesday.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


From NFLMEdia.com

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



The San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens each selected a player in today’s seven-round
supplemental draft, the NFL announced today.

The Chargers, picking 28th, chose cornerback PAUL OLIVER of Georgia in the fourth round.
The Ravens, selecting 31st, picked Maryland tackle JARED GAITHER in the fifth round.

Oliver, 6-0 and 208 pounds, was among Georgia leaders in tackles last season (fifth with 57)
and registered two sacks. He limited the No. 2 overall selection in the 2007 NFL Draft, Georgia
Tech wide receiver CALVIN JOHNSON (Detroit), to two catches for 13 yards in the Bulldogs’
season-finale win last year. In 2005, Oliver won Georgia’s Most Improved Defensive Player

The 6-9, 350-pound Gaither started 17 of Maryland’s last 21 games at either left or right tackle.
As a freshman in 2005, he did not allow a sack from his left tackle position. Gaither was rated
as the No. 3 prep-school prospect in the nation by a scouting service while at Hargrave Military
Academy in Virginia.

With today’s selections, San Diego and Baltimore thus forgo the corresponding picks in the
2008 NFL Draft.

There were no other players selected today.

The supplemental draft was conducted by computer from NFL headquarters in New York.

# # #

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Seahawks CB Rich Gardner Released To Make Roster Space - Seattle Times

From the Seattle Times.

Hawks CB released for roster space
By Jose Miguel Romero

The Seahawks moved closer to finalizing their training-camp roster Wednesday, releasing injured cornerback Rich Gardner to make room for sixth-round draft pick Courtney Taylor, whose signing was made official.

The team has apparently agreed to terms with seventh-round pick Steve Vallos with contract terms unconfirmed, leaving three more picks to sign — second-rounder Josh Wilson, third-round choice Brandon Mebane and the first of two fourth-round picks, Baraka Atkins.

The Seahawks might have to release three players before camp in July to make room for the unsigned draft choices on the roster.

Five former NFL Europa players are also part of the current roster and signed as free agents June 28. They are cornerback Omowale "Wally" Dada (a former Washington State player), quarterback Erik Meyer (formerly at Eastern Washington), offensive guard Jonathan Alston, running back A.J. Harris and wide receiver Robert Ortiz.

The five were added when NFL Europa ceased operations at the end of its season in June.

Gardner, who came to the Seahawks at the end of the 2006 regular season when the team was beset with injuries at cornerback, was on the roster to open the May minicamp. But he suffered a serious left leg injury on the first day of practices and didn't participate in the June camp.


From NFL Media.com

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



Kinoshita seeks to become first Japanese player in NFL history

The Atlanta Falcons have signed wide receiver-return specialist NORIAKI KINOSHITA, a native of
Osaka, Japan, the club announced today.

The 24-year old Kinoshita spent the past three seasons playing in the NFL Europa League and was
selected to the All-NFL Europa team as the National return specialist in each of the past two years.
In 2007, Kinoshita led NFL Europa with a 15.9-yard punt-return average and ranked third with a 23.2-
yard kickoff-return average. He also added 23 receptions for 364 yards and two touchdowns.

“I’m excited to see Nori compete in training camp with us,” says Falcons head coach BOBBY
PETRINO. “He has good experience playing in NFL Europa and he deserves a chance to be in an
NFL training camp. We’ve already had stiff competition at the wide receiver position throughout our
minicamps and offseason workouts, and Nori’s presence now adds more to that position. We are
also interesting in seeing his return skills.”

Prior to playing in NFL Europa, Kinoshita played three seasons at Ritsumeikan University and helped
the team win two national championships (2002 and 2003).

“I am very excited to compete at the Falcons’ training camp with other great players,” says Kinoshita,
who hopes to become the first Japanese player in NFL history. “It is exciting as a Japanese player to
compete with American players, and I want to appeal to the fans in Atlanta. At the same time, I want
to show the Japanese people how exciting the great game of football is.”

American football has been played in Japan since 1934. Today more than 100 high schools and 200
universities field tackle football teams and nearly 200,000 youth participate in Flag Football programs
in approximately 2,000 elementary and junior high schools. The X-League, Japan’s corporate league
which was founded in 1985, features 18 teams from around the country.



From NFLMedia.com

AS OF 7/10/07

(Based on official notification to NFL office)

1) 126 UNRESTRICTED free agents have signed with a NEW team:
ARIZONA DE Rodney Bailey Pittsburgh 4/13
CB Ralph Brown Cleveland 4/13
T Mike Gandy Buffalo 4/3
S Terrence Holt Detroit 3/8
CB Roderick Hood Philadelphia 3/13
C Al Johnson Dallas 3/6
NT Ross Kolodziej Minnesota 4/11
WR Sean Morey Pittsburgh 3/15
DE Joe Tafoya Seattle 4/13
ATLANTA K Billy Cundiff New Orleans 5/7
G Toniu Fonoti Miami 3/15
T Leander Jordan San Diego 5/9
FB Ovie Mughelli Baltimore 3/2
CB Lewis Sanders Houston 3/7
LB Marcus Wilkins Cincinnati 3/3
BUFFALO G Derrick Dockery Washington 3/3
RB Josh Scobey Seattle 5/3
T Langston Walker Oakland 3/3
C Jason Whittle Minnesota 3/3
CAROLINA S Deke Cooper San Francisco 3/26
CHICAGO DT Anthony Adams San Francisco 3/30
CINCINNATI DT Kenderick Allen Green Bay 5/14
DT Michael Myers Denver 4/20
CLEVELAND DE Antwan Peek Houston 3/5
DT Robaire Smith Tennessee 3/16
G Eric Steinbach Cincinnati 3/3
CB Kenny Wright Washington 3/6
DALLAS T Leonard Davis Arizona 3/5
S Ken Hamlin Seattle 3/26
DENVER TE Daniel Graham New England 3/9
LB Warrick Holdman Washington 4/26
G Montrae Holland New Orleans 3/5
LB D.D. Lewis Seattle 4/26
DT Alvin McKinley Cleveland 3/21
P Todd Sauerbrun New England 4/20
RB Paul Smith St. Louis 3/6
DETROIT RB T.J. Duckett Washington 3/16
CB Travis Fisher St. Louis 3/13
WR Shaun McDonald St. Louis 3/19
WR Troy Walters Arizona 6/1
DE DeWayne White Tampa Bay 3/5
JACKSONVILLE WR Dennis Northcutt Cleveland 3/5
T Tony Pashos Baltimore 3/3
GREEN BAY CB Frank Walker NY Giants 3/15
HOUSTON LB Shawn Barber Philadelphia 3/21
T Jordan Black Kansas City 3/9
WR Andre Davis Buffalo 4/12
RB Ahman Green Green Bay 3/5
LB Danny Clark New Orleans 3/7
CB Jamar Fletcher Detroit 4/5
DT Jeff Zgonina Miami 3/15
INDIANAPOLIS G Rick DeMulling Detroit 3/30
TE Mike Seidman Carolina 5/8
KANSAS CITY DT Alfonso Boone Chicago 3/20
LS J.P. Darche Seattle 3/8
LB Donnie Edwards San Diego 3/19
LB Napoleon Harris Minnesota 3/6
S Jon McGraw Detroit 3/28
G Damion McIntosh Miami 3/3
MIAMI K Jay Feely NY Giants 3/8
WR Az-Zahir Hakim San Diego 3/22
G Chris Liwienski Arizona 3/22
TE David Martin Green Bay 3/5
FB Cory Schlesinger Detroit 3/15
S Cameron Worrell Chicago 3/8
MINNESOTA LB Vinny Ciurciu Carolina 3/3
S Mike Doss Indianapolis 4/4
WR Cortez Hankton Jacksonville 4/16
TE Visanthe Shiancoe N.Y. Giants 3/5
WR Bobby Wade Tennessee 3/7
NEW ENGLAND TE Kyle Brady Jacksonville 3/3
CB Tory James Cincinnati 4/24
RB Sammy Morris Miami 3/3
WR Donte’ Stallworth Philadelphia 3/13
LB Adalius Thomas Baltimore 3/3
WR Kelley Washington Cincinnati 3/13
NEW ORLEANS LB Troy Evans Houston 4/10
TE Eric Johnson San Francisco 3/8
S Kevin Kaesviharn Cincinnati 3/15
NEW YORK GIANTS LB Kawika Mitchell Kansas City 3/27
CB Michael Stone Houston 4/16
QB Anthony Wright Cincinnati 4/18
NEW YORK JETS FB Darian Barnes Miami 3/8
DE David Bowens Miami 4/2
DE Kenyon Coleman Dallas 3/6
QB Marques Tuiasosopo Oakland 3/23
OAKLAND G Cooper Carlisle Denver 4/13
T Cornell Green Tampa Bay 3/30
FB Justin Griffith Atlanta 3/12
C Jeremy Newberry San Francisco 3/7
RB Dominic Rhodes Indianapolis 3/9
TE Tony Stewart Cincinnati 3/12
WR Travis Taylor Minnesota 5/22
TE Fred Wakefield Arizona 3/9
PHILADELPHIA WR Kevin Curtis St. Louis 3/19
WR Bethel Johnson Minnesota 3/15
DT Ian Scott Chicago 5/3
PITTSBURGH DE Nick Eason Cleveland 4/16
C Sean Mahan Tampa Bay 3/12
ST. LOUIS WR Drew Bennett Tennessee 3/3
LB Chris Draft Carolina 4/2
S Todd Johnson Chicago 3/12
RB Travis Minor Miami 3/9
CB Lenny Walls Kansas City 4/4
SAN FRANCISCO LB Tully Banta-Cain New England 3/7
DB Nate Clements Buffalo 3/3
NT Aubrayo Franklin Baltimore 3/3
WR Ashley Lelie Atlanta 3/6
S Michael Lewis Philadelphia 3/3
SEATTLE S Deon Grant Jacksonville 3/13
DE Brandon Green St. Louis 4/25
DE Patrick Kerney Atlanta 3/7
S Brian Russell Cleveland 3/12
TAMPA BAY RB B.J. Askew N.Y. Jets 3/5
LB Patrick Chukwura Denver 3/3
QB Jeff Garcia Philadelphia 3/3
LB Cato June Indianapolis 3/19
DE Lance Legree San Francisco 3/8
TE Jerramy Stevens Seattle 4/30
TENNESSEE WR Justin Gage Chicago 3/23
CB Nicholas Harper Indianapolis 3/16
QB Tim Rattay Tampa Bay 5/11
CB Bryan Scott New Orleans 3/26
WASHINGTON LB London Fletcher Buffalo 3/3
CB David Macklin Arizona 4/6
S Omar Stoutmire New Orleans 3/22

2) 88 UNRESTRICTED free agents have re-signed with their OLD team:
ARIZONA LB Monty Beisel 3/15
DT Chris Cooper 3/26
S Hanik Milligan 3/3
RB Marcel Shipp 3/6
BALTIMORE DE Jarret Johnson 3/6
S Gerome Sapp 4/11
RB Musa Smith 3/6
BUFFALO RB Anthony Thomas 3/12
CB Kiwaukee Thomas 3/13
CAROLINA LB Na’il Diggs 3/2
DT Kindal Moorehead 4/23
CHICAGO G Ruben Brown 3/30
CINCINNATI TE Reggie Kelly 3/8
RB Kenny Watson 3/5
CLEVELAND C Hank Fraley 3/3
C Lennie Friedman 3/20
DALLAS T Marc Colombo 3/12
K Martin Grammatica 3/7
DENVER WR Quincy Morgan 3/12
DE Kenny Peterson 3/13
DETROIT RB Aveion Cason 3/7
DE Corey Smith 3/5
GREEN BAY C Tyson Walter 3/5
LB Tracy White 3/7
HOUSTON TE Mark Bruener 3/12
RB Ron Dayne 3/23
DE Ndukwe Kalu 3/5
CB Dexter McCleon 4/2
T Ephraim Salaam 3/5
P Chad Stanley 3/7
INDIANAPOLIS LB Rocky Boiman 4/17
DT Dan Klecko 3/23
WR Aaron Moorehead 4/27
LB Rob Morris 3/5
JACKSONVILLE LB Tony Gilbert 3/26
RB LaBrandon Toefield 3/29
KANSAS CITY DT Ron Edwards 3/15
QB Damon Huard 3/2
DT James Reed 4/16
DE Jimmy Wilkerson 3/21
MIAMI CB Michael Lehan 3/19
LB Donnie Spragan 4/25
S Travares Tillman 4/13
NT Keith Traylor 3/8
MINNESOTA LB Jason Glenn 4/4
NEW ENGLAND FB Heath Evans 3/2
LB Larry Izzo 3/6
LB Junior Seau 5/21
N.Y. GIANTS C Shaun O’Hara 3/3
C Grey Ruegamer 3/27
N.Y. JETS T Anthony Clement 3/19
C Wade Smith 3/12
NEW ORLEANS S Jay Bellamy 4/2
CB Dejuan Groce 3/9
NT Antwan Lake 3/5
T Jon Stinchcomb 3/5
OAKLAND T Chad Slaughter 3/12
CB Duane Starks 3/26
WR Alvis Whitted 3/9
PHILADELPHIA RB Correll Buckhalter 3/21
CB William James 3/15
DE Juqua Thomas 3/2
PITTSBURGH S Tyrone Carter 4/2
RB Najeh Davenport 3/6
CB Chidi Iwuoma 3/15
ST. LOUIS LB Raonall Smith 5/3
T Todd Steussie 3/7
SAN DIEGO G Kris Dielman 3/5
LB Carlos Polk 3/22
C Cory Withrow 3/9
SAN FRANCISCO WR Bryan Gilmore 3/3
LB Hannibal Navies 3/16
RB Moran Norris 3/5
SEATTLE WR Bobby Engram 3/23
G Chris Gray 4/9
TE Will Heller 3/5
G Floyd Womack 3/12
TAMPA BAY CB Philip Buchanon 3/2
CB Torrie Cox 3/3
TENNESSEE QB Kerry Collins 3/12
DT Rien Long 3/2
S Donnie Nickey 4/2
T Seth Wand 3/8
LB LeVar Woods 3/12
WASHINGTON S Vernon Fox 3/2
CB Ade Jimoh 3/6
T Todd Wade 3/20
TE Todd Yoder 3/15
3) 4 RESTRICTED free agents have signed with NEW teams:
CLEVELAND DT Shaun Smith Cincinnati 3/16
NEW ORLEANS CB Jason David Indianapolis 4/27
ST. LOUIS P Donnie Jones Miami 4/18
TENNESSEE LB Ryan Fowler Dallas 3/16
4) 88 RESTRICTED free agents have re-signed with their OLD team:
ARIZONA C Nick Leckey 4/13
ATLANTA TE Dwayne Blakely 4/4
QB Matt Schaub 3/22 (Traded to Houston)
LB Demorrio Williams 4/23
BALTIMORE WR Devard Darling 5/15
WR Clarence Moore 4/24
PR B.J. Sams 5/10
BUFFALO DT Tim Anderson 4/17
DE Tony Hargrove 4/5
CAROLINA DT Jordan Carstens 3/20
WR Drew Carter 4/18
TE Michael Gaines 5/4
CINCINNATI G Stacey Andrews 4/23
CB Greg Brooks 4/2
LB Landon Johnson 4/20
P Kyle Larson 3/20
LB Caleb Miller 4/24
CLEVELAND T Nat Dorsey 4/27
NT Ethan Kelley 4/20
LB Mason Unck 4/25
DALLAS WR Patrick Crayton 4/5
CB Nathan Jones 4/13
CB Jacques Reeves 4/20
DENVER RB Kyle Johnson 4/2
RB Cecil Sapp 4/11
DETROIT LS Don Muhlbach 3/2
S Keith Smith 4/24
HOUSTON LB Charlie Anderson 4/24
S Glenn Earl 4/28
CB Von Hutchins 4/3
RB Vonta Leach 3/26
LB Shantee Orr 4/23
INDIANAPOLIS LB Gilbert Gardner 3/16
G Ryan Lilja 3/20
G Jake Scott 4/19
QB Jim Sorgi 4/11
DE Josh Thomas 4/24
JACKSONVILLE CB Ahmad Carroll 4/4
LB Jorge Cordova 4/19
QB Quinn Gray 4/20
DE Bobby McCray 6/13
K Josh Scobee 3/2
WR Ernest Wilford 4/20
KANSAS CITY DE Jared Allen 5/22
LB Keyaron Fox 4/24
WR Samie Parker 4/26
T Kevin Sampson 4/26
S Benny Sapp 4/3
LB Rich Scanlon 4/24
K Lawrence Tynes 4/4
MIAMI S Yeremiah Bell 5/21
QB Cleo Lemon 5/29
WR Wes Welker 3/5 (Traded to New England)
MINNESOTA G Anthony Herrera 4/23
DT Spencer Johnson 4/24
TE Richard Owens 4/19
RB Artose Pinner 4/23
DE Darrion Scott 6/1
NEW ENGLAND CB Randall Gay 5/29
G Gene Mruckzowski 3/22
NEW ORLEANS WR Terrance Copper 3/27
NT Rodney Leisle 4/3
NEW YORK GIANTS LB Reggie Torbor 4/23
RB Derrick Ward 5/29
S Gibril Wilson 5/2
NEW YORK JETS TE Sean Ryan 3/26
LB Cody Spencer 3/28
OAKLAND RB Reshard Lee 5/7
PITTSBURGH QB Brian St. Pierre 4/23
T Max Starks 4/25
ST. LOUIS LB Brandon Chillar 4/23
G Adam Goldberg 4/19
TE Aaron Walker 4/17
SAN DIEGO RB Michael Turner 4/26
SAN FRANCISCO RB Maurice Hicks 5/3
P Andy Lee 3/8
SEATTLE CB Jordan Babineaux 5/4
WR D.J. Hackett 4/23
LB Niko Koutouvides 4/20
T Sean Locklear 4/24
DT Craig Terrill 4/3
LB Robert Reynolds 4/4
TAMPA BAY G Jeb Terry 5/7
TENNESSEE C Eugene Amano 4/17
T Jacob Bell 6/14
TE Ben Hartsock 4/24
DT Randy Starks 4/17
WASHINGTON P Derrick Frost 4/2
5) 0 FRANCHISE players have signed with NEW teams:

6) 3 FRANCHISE players have re-signed with their OLD team:
CINCINNATI DE Justin Smith 5/8
NEW ORLEANS DE Charles Grant 4/27
SEATTLE K Josh Brown 5/2

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

NFLPA's Richard Berthelesen: Gene Upshaw is Underpaid - Profootballtalk.com

I personally think Gene Upshaw's doing a great job and has managed to stay out of court and caused the players to get more money in the last CBA. But Gene's got his detrators...


Last month, we reported that NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw made at least $6.6 million in the year ending February 28, 2007.

Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal recently confirmed this report, and obtained a quote from NFLPA general counsel Richard Berthelesen defending the exorbitant salary and bonus package paid to Upshaw.

"If anything he is underpaid," Berthelsen said. "He is paid out of the revenues generated by active players."

As Kaplan notes, it's possible that Upshaw earned even more from Players, Inc., the licensing arm of the NFLPA that generates millions from the use of player names and likenesses for trading cards, video games, and related products.

In our view, Berthelsen's comment indicates that Upshaw's wages are tied directly to the financial package that the NFL has given to the players, and therefore that these windfalls will continue beyond February 28, 2007.

But should they? Is it fair and just for the head of a union to be paid based on the total revenue that the union is generating for its members, or should the head of the union be given a salary that reflects the dynamics of the market for persons with the abilities and skills that Upshaw is utilizing?

We think the latter is the more appropriate formula. If Upshaw won't do the job for less than $6.7 million per year, then the PLAYERS who comprise the union should search for a competent executive who'd be thrilled to have the position in return for a lot less money.

We also are curious as to whether the rank-and-file are given full information as to what Upshaw makes. Berthelsen says that the wages are determined by a 10-member committee. But who beyond that committee is asked their opinion on whether Upshaw is receiving more than his fair share?

Berthelsen says that the committee takes into account the salary paid to the NFL Commissioner. But why should the wages that the 32 billionaires who own NFL teams chose to pay to the guy who is managing their league have any relevance to the money paid to Upshaw?

If the formula used to pay Upshaw is going to continue to take into account the revenues generated by active players, and thus will continue to generate pay in excess of $6 million per year, how will the union go about replacing Upshaw? Will current NFLPA president Troy Vincent get the opportunity to make more per year on average than he ever earned on the field simply because he is in the right place at the right time? Or will the union conduct a nationwide search for the best and most competent person that $6.7 million per year can buy?

Regardless of any other issue that currently is dogging the union, we believe that the pay given to Upshaw is shameful, and that it confirms (in our opinion) the notion that the players are in many cases being manipulated by the power structure that Upshaw has put in place to agree with anything that the union's administration presents to them.

And the fact that the retired players who currently are flailing clumsily at Upshaw over disability benefits have yet to utter a peep about Upshaw's pay tells us that the cause being championed by folks like Mike Ditka and Joe DeLamielleure is going nowhere, fast.

It also tells us that real change will be effected only if and when current players display off of the field the same courage that they demonstrate every time they march onto it.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

USC's Pete Caroll On ND's Charlie Weis: "He's A Jerk" - Also Dishes On Norm Chow

I just returned from the local Gold's Gym in Oakland where I work out and ran into a friend who's a big USC fan, alumn, and donor, on top of being a big exec at a national retailer. Since I'm a Cal fan, we've had a few nice ribbing sessions. The point being, she's got know reason to make up what I'm about to report, asked the questions herself, and when I asked her if she would mind that I blog this, her response was "go ahead."

So that's what I'm doing.

On May 22nd, my friend attended a USC Alumni event in Southern California where USC Football Coach Pete Carroll was the featured guest. After an evening of drinks and food, there was a question and answer session with Coach Carroll. I proded her to tell me about it while we were streching, and so after some consistent coaxing, she did.

She said that she and Coach Carroll got along famously well "I think he seemed to like me," she said. "Oh, did I tell you what he said about Charlie Weis?" No, was my response, and she held back for a few seconds or so while streching and said "I thought I told you this?" I swore up and down we'd not taked about the event after her return. "What did he say about Weis?," I asked.

"Well, she said, "I asked him what he thought of Charlie Weis.

"He (Coach Carroll) said Weis was a jerk," she reported. My friend also remarked that Carroll said "people down there (in South Bend) don't really like him."


I could not believe it. But it gets better. "He (Caroll) also said that 'That thing with his son? It was all for publicity.'" I pretty much almost fell from my stretch with that news. I could not believe what I was hearing. It's one thing for Pete to call Weis a jerk, but to introduce the matter of Coach Weis' son on the sidelines (Coach Weis also has a 12-year-old special-needs daughter, Hannah) being some kind of publicty stunt is another story.

I personally think that's off base.

But that didn't seem to matter to Pete Carroll, who also didn't have great things to say about former USC Offensive Coordinator, now Tennesee Titans Offensive Coordinator Norm Chow, and again in response to my friend's question. Caroll said "Well you know, we're not the best of friends."

Caroll told my friend that they talk maybe once a year and that Norm's not happy in Tennessee. I remarked that he's got a great job, so what's the problem? According to my friend, Carol claims that Chow's family's not happy in Tennesee, and wants to get back to the West Coast. Caroll also remarked that Chow "would never be a head coach."

Being a Chow fan myself, I asked why Caroll would say this "He (Caroll) thinks' he (Chow) doens't want to be a head coach.

I think Coach Carroll should take time to measure his words in an Internet society. I mean here I am reporting something he didn't think was going to wind up being thrown out there for the public to know about. Pete should know better.

He didn't need to make that comment about Coach Weis' daughter and publicity. It's one thing for USC to have beaten Notre Dame 44-24 last year, but that doesn't give Coach Caroll the right to say what he did regarding Coach Weis and his family. That's sacred ground in my view. And I'm 100 percent certain this is true, without a doubt. My friend has no reason to lie and was the person who asked the questions.

One thing Coach Carroll should do now, is pick up the damn phone and appologize to Coach Weis. Charlie may be less than nice in what he has to say in return, but look, talking about another parent's children being on the sidelines as being "out there for just publicity" is too much and classless to boot.

Does that mean Indy Coach Tony Dungy bringing his off spring on the sidelines is "just publicity?" Come on, now.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Dallas Cowboys New Stadium On Schedule - Roof Trusses Installed

The World's Largest Pro Football Stadium is on target for completion in 2009. Personally, I can't wait to see it. The photo was taken from the webcam set up to allow fans to see the structure as it's being built.

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Construction officials say the new Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington is about 30% complete -- with a steel arch now being built.

Crews have put the first section of the arch truss in place, as a support for the retractable roof of the one billion dollar complex.

Arlington mayor Robert Cluck was on hand yesterday to give a thumbs-up to the process.

The new home for the Cowboys will open for the 2009 season.

The venue also will host the 2011 Super Bowl.

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