Archive for August, 2010

Retired player: Rookie wage scale “could go a long way in assisting pioneers of professional football”

The header “NFL first-round picks received over $528 million in guaranteed bonuses in 2010” tops a recent story written by retired NFL player Jeff Nixon (right), a member of the national advocacy committee for the “Fourth and Goal” organization of NFL alumni.

“So another year goes by without a rookie wage scale,” Nixon writes on the Fourth and Goal Unites website. “How do you as a former player feel about this?”

“Most of the rookie wage scale savings will obviously come from the first round draft picks, but even if a wage scale is set, all 32 of the players selected in next year’s draft will still be multi-millionaires before they set one foot on an NFL field,” adds Nixon, who played four seasons at defensive back for the Buffalo Bills beginning in 1979.

“By adopting a rookie wage scale,” Nixon concludes. “The active players could go a long way in assisting the pioneers of professional football and the veteran players that have already proven themselves in the NFL.”

For the complete Fourth and Goal Unites article, click here.

43 former NFL players participated in 2010 Bill Walsh minority coaching fellowship

A record 96 minority coaches – including 43 former players (complete list below) – took part in this summer’s Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship.

Former Washington Redskins tackle Chris Samuels (2000-09) was among the participants.  Samuels, who recently retired from the NFL, spent the summer with the Redskins as he pursues a career in coaching.

“Everything was great,” says Samuels (left).  “I learned from a great group of coaches who are experienced in the NFL.  I was in a great situation to learn how to coach football.  I have always known that I wanted to coach football once I retired.  This is always what I wanted to do, so now I’m just going to the second phase of my life.”

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, who earned NFL Coach of the Year honors from the Associated Press last season, interned with the San Francisco 49ers (1988) and Kansas City Chiefs (1991).

“My opportunity with the fellowship was a great exposure to new ideas,” says Lewis.  “It was just so valuable to coach alongside the San Francisco 49ers staff on a daily basis, seeing the quality and expertise that go into every aspect of NFL coaching.  The things I learned then that I still apply today are most notably in the areas of scheduling and attention to detail.  I hope the coaches that we’ve hosted in the fellowship learned some of the same valuable things from our staff.”

Lewis is one of four current NFL head coaches – Raheem Morris (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Lovie Smith (Chicago Bears) and Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers) are the others – who are graduates of the program.

The program, which was named after the man who conceived the idea – late Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Bill Walsh – exposes talented minority college coaches to the methods and philosophies of summer NFL training camps.  Walsh introduced the concept in 1987 when he brought a group of minority coaches into his San Francisco 49ers’ training camp.  The program has mentored more than 1,500 minority coaches through the years.
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RB Steven Jackson: New Rams majority owner Stan Kroenke “in it for the long haul”

“It was great to see Mr. [Stan] Kroenke come in, talk to the team,” Rams running back Steven Jackson told long-time NFL writer Jim Thomas in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Talk to us about how he’s excited about taking over the ownership. He’s in it for the long haul. He’s been a part of the Rams’ organization for quite some time, and he just wanted to reassure us that he’s a big supporter.”

NFL owners voted 32-0 on Wednesday to approve Kroenke (right) as the team’s new majority owner. “For Rams veterans, the pending sale of the team has loomed in the background for the past couple of years,” Thomas writes. “Having closure on the sale had to be reassuring. And so was the sight of their new majority owner in Foxborough, Mass., with Kroenke speaking to the team before and after the Patriots game.”

Said Patriots owner Robert Kraft, “He’s going to be great for the fans of St. Louis. He wants to win, and he’s passionate about it. And he’s just a high-quality guy. We’re all very happy that we have him in the room with us as a partner.”

For the complete story, click here.

49ers DT Aubrayo Franklin signs franchise tender; all franchise players signed

San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin today signed his franchise tender, the team announced.

Franklin was the last of the six players designated franchise players by their clubs on March 5 to sign his tender.  He will earn the greater of $7,003,000 or 120 percent of his 2009 salary — the franchise tender for a defensive tackle.

Following are the signing dates of the five other franchise players:

Club Player Sign Date
Green Bay DT Ryan Pickett 3/15/10
New England DT Vince Wilfork 3/9/10
Oakland DE Richard Seymour 6/21/10
Pittsburgh K Jeff Reed 4/13/10
Seattle K Olindo Mare 3/9/10

Times-Picayune: “NFL fans won’t oppose expanding the season”

John DeShazier of the New Orleans Times-Picayune takes a look at the proposed enhanced season, writing under the header “NFL fans, who would get more for their money, won’t oppose expanding the season.”

“Anything that gives fans a little more for their money, I’m all for,” DeShazier begins. “And if change simply means they’ll be getting what they already are paying for then, certainly, make the change that Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL owners overwhelmingly seem to want added to the next collective bargaining agreement.

“Give fans two more regular-season NFL games,” DeShazier continues. “Expand the regular season to 18 games, reduce the number of exhibition games to two and collectively, fans aren’t going to pine for the good ol’ days. Coaches will adjust accordingly. They’ll simply work to get players in game shape quicker and since roster cutdowns pretty much are a foregone conclusion – I’m betting coaches have a real good idea what the final roster will look like by the first week of August, give or take a player or two – almost all of the player evaluation will be derived from practice, which is where most of it is drawn from, anyway.”

“Owners will love it, of course, because more games means a better television contract,” DeShazier adds. “And players will navigate it. They won’t be opposed to higher salaries – that’s going to happen with more games played – and they won’t miss the drudgery of four meaningless exhibition games in which the starters play the equivalent of, maybe, one full game.

“The difference for fans is that they’ll get more of what they’re paying to see,” DeShazier concludes. “And it’s hard to imagine any of them being against that.”

For the complete story, click here.

Commissioner Goodell transcript from league meeting

Following is a full transcript of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s press conference at yesterday’s league meeting in Atlanta.

NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL

Special League Meeting News Conference

Atlanta, GA – August 25, 2010

Good afternoon. You obviously know about the Rams transaction which we completed this morning.  We had a number of other reports. The most significant discussion of the day that we had was the enhanced season and restructuring our season from 16 and 4 to 18 and 2. There was overwhelming support for the concept and that we want to continue to address a variety of issues. We are putting together a specific proposal, which the negotiating team will provide to the union’s negotiating team. There is tremendous support for it.  All of the questions and almost all of the discussions are focused on how do we do it in a way that’s fan friendly?  How does it make sense for our fans? As we’ve all said and the clubs have gotten the same reaction, the fans want less preseason and more regular season. But we want to understand the impact of whether we’re playing cold-weather games in January or we’re playing hot-weather games in early September. Those are all issues that we want to continue to focus on and talk with all of our partners — the players, our business partners. Most importantly, how do we keep the game strong, which is good for our fans and what we want for our fans.

Do you have the right to unilaterally impose the enhanced season and did you not because of sensitivities with the players?

As you know, in the Collective Bargaining Agreement we have the right to go to 22 games. The ownership does not think that’s the right step to take. We want to do this the right way and make it good for everyone, including the players, our fans, and the game in general. From our standpoint, we think we’ve moved this concept along. There’s a tremendous amount of momentum for it. We think it’s the right step to take. But we want to do that with our partners, including the players.

On expanding OTAs and other training to prepare for the season:

It’s got to be a comprehensive solution. That’s why we’re taking the necessary steps here and taking the time to address the concept and all of the aspects of this that will make it successful. That’s our focus. How do we make this successful for everybody? But we had a lot of discussion on the Competition Committee analysis about offseason training, what we would do with rosters, what we would do with injured reserved rules. All of those things would allow us the ability to do this correctly.

On Stan Kroenke:

The good news is he’s been an NFL owner and he’s been around the NFL since 1993 when I first met him in the expansion process. He’s had tremendous experience in other sports, which I think is a plus. He has a tremendous commitment to football and the NFL.  One of the issues we always focus on is having our owners focus on football.  That’s what Stan will be doing. He will be focused more on football. We think that’s a positive for the NFL and most importantly for the fans of St. Louis.
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USA Today: “What’s good for the NFL ends up being good for America”

USA Today national sports columnist Christine Brennan writes today on the process of coming to an agreement on the proposed enhanced season.

“Not rushing into what would be the first expansion of the NFL’s regular season in more than 30 years is absolutely the right thing for Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners to do,” Brennan writes. “A sports change of this magnitude should receive a full public airing, in which owners, players, the NFL’s broadcast and business partners and even the fans should be heard…We know what the owners want. We also need to hear what the players think, and not just in the heat of the moment.”

Said Commissioner Goodell (above left), who discussed the enhanced season at a league meeting yesterday: “We want to do this the right way and make it good for everyone, including the players, our fans, and the game in general. From our standpoint, we think we’ve moved this concept along. There’s a tremendous amount of momentum for it. We think it’s the right step to take. But we want to do that with our partners, including the players.”

“What’s good for the NFL eventually ends up being good for America,” Brennan concludes, “whether we know it yet or not.”

For the complete story, click here.

Retired player: “Big thumbs up” for enhanced season

NFL owners will today discuss the enhanced season at a league meeting in Atlanta. Among the many proponents of the plan is Dolphin Digest publisher Tom Curtis, who played for the Baltimore Colts in the early 1970s and writes in the magazine’s August 2010 issue under the header “Big thumbs up for 18-game season.”

“No matter what it takes to get a new CBA agreement between the owners and players,” Curtis writes, “it will dictate an 18-game regular season and two preseason games.”

“With the offseason training programs, minicamps, and required conditioning, the players do not need more than two preseason games,” Curtis adds. “And coaches already know, within a couple of players, the make-up of their final roster after a few weeks of training camp.”

“The fans will be the real beneficiaries of the extended regular season,” Curtis concludes. “Their season-ticket dollars will be better spent and they get two more weeks of real NFL football.”

For more from Dolphin Digest, click here.

Philadelphia Eagles have comprehensive approach to concussions

Philadelphia Daily News columnist Rich Hofman today examines the comprehensive concussion program developed by the Philadelphia Eagles and their longtime trainer Rick Burkholder (left).

Burkholder employs “a unique, structured approach to figuring out when it is safe for a player to return,” Hofman writes.  “The baseline neurological testing that has been done on athletes for about 15 years is just the start for Burkholder. He has come up with five phases of testing, all of which must be passed by the player before he can return.”

Burkholder further explains: “What we’ve done is put very specific guidelines in on ourselves, to make sure that we’re making the best decision possible. It’s not an exact science and [players] all know that …but this program takes a lot of the gray area out of it for me. I put them through really big challenges before they have to hit somebody, to see if they can handle it. I feel more confident putting a player back in than I did before.”

“If you sprain your brain, what sense does it make to have you go in there and work and watch film and concentrate?” asks Burkholder, who is in his 12th season with the Eagles after six years with the Pittsburgh Steelers. “I’ve totally changed my approach, and Andy [Reid]‘s been great about it. He understands.”

“When it comes to concussions, I’ve probably learned the most in the last 3 years,” Burkholder adds. “There’s so much out there now to study and change. I’ve totally changed my program here, totally changed it.”

For the complete story, click here.

The facts on NFL steroid testing

For those interested in how the testing of NFL players for steroids takes place, following are the facts:

The policy, as agreed to in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, states that testing “will be directed by the Independent Administrator on Anabolic Steroids and Related Substances (‘Independent Administrator’).”

The details of the notification process are determined by the independent specimen collector group, approved by the Independent Administrator, and reviewed by the NFL and the NFL Players Association.

Together with many other procedures under the policy, the process is designed to ensure that players are tested with minimal notice on the same day, and that the specimens provided are valid, and have not been diluted, substituted, or adulterated.

“We have absolutely no doubt that the specimen collectors are carrying out their duties in a professional and effective manner,” said Adolpho Birch, NFL vice president of labor relations.

Other facts on NFL steroid testing:
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