Archive for December, 2010

Robert McNair & Houston Texans Foundation donate $500,000 to Houston Food Bank

Texans owner Robert McNair and the Houston Texans Foundation will donate $500,000 to the Houston Food Bank, John McClain reported in the Houston Chronicle.

“The partnership will financially support the Houston Food Bank through numerous programs,” McClain wrote. “The Houston Texans Café at the Food Bank distribution facility can serve from 300 to 1,000 a day.”

In addition, McNair’s Texans and the Food Bank have hosted the Taste of the Texans at Reliant Stadium for the last two years, raising an additional $200,000 for the Food Bank and other charitable causes.

The Food Bank is the third community partner of the Texans, joining the Houston Texans YMCA and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston.

NFL updates clubs on workplace conduct program

“The NFL sent a workplace conduct update to its teams Wednesday in which Commissioner Roger Goodell emphasizes the effect improper behavior can have on others,” The Associated Press reported. “The memo is a reminder of the league’s belief that ‘all employees and associates of the NFL have the right to work in a positive environment’ free from all forms of harassment, intimidation and discrimination.”

The memo outlines the NFL’s objectives, including:

-Providing a clear definition of sexual harassment and detailed examples of illegal and inappropriate behavior.

-Ensuring that each member of the NFL fully understands that sexual harassment and discrimination are against the law.

-Seeking to build league-wide awareness of the NFL’s policies regarding sexual harassment and other discrimination.

-Providing clear and acceptable workplace behavior guidelines for all NFL employees.

-Explaining how, when and where to report sexual harassment.

For the complete story, click here.

Where does on-field fine money go?

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark has questioned the distribution of money collected from on-field fines, according to a story today in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

“How about it goes to families and these kids who won’t have insurance after the March deadline?” Clark said. “You want to take money and give it here and give it there, but how about us having no insurance? Families of five? Three kids? Put money there and take it when it is supposed to be taken.”

All on-field fine money collected by the NFL is used for charitable purposes.  These funds have been used to support retired player programs, including the NFL Player Care Foundation and NFLPA Players Assistance Trust; disaster relief initiatives; and health-related charities.

A strike or lockout triggers rights under a federal law known as COBRA that allows employees to continue their existing health insurance coverage without interruption or change in terms — either at their expense or their union’s expense. This means that no NFL player or family member would experience any change in coverage for so much as a single day because of a work stoppage.  During the 2004-2005 NHL lockout, the NHL’s players union secured substitute coverage for its members at its expense.

NPR commentator: Rooney Rule “a wild success”

This morning on National Public Radio, commentator John Ridley discussed the effect of the Rooney Rule on head coaching opportunities for minorities.

“I would look at it and say it’s been a wild success,” Ridley said. “Right now you have eight coaches – more than at any other time – and in addition to that you have had four black coaches who have gone on to the Super Bowl and two who have won championships.  You look at that in about seven years and it’s a pretty successful program.”

The program is working so well for coaches, Ridley said, that he would “put a clock on it.”

“I would say in the next three seasons – it would be about a decade – we are going to end the Rooney Rule [for coaches],” said Ridley. “You could go out saying it is a wild success. The NFL should hold it up as being a program that has really done the job.”

To listen to the complete commentary, click here.

Commissioner Goodell: “Interacting with fans gives me great perspective”

Commissioner Roger Goodell stressed the importance of listening to fans in an interview with Patriots.com’s “Patriots Today” show following Sunday night’s Q&A session with season-ticket holders and New England owner Robert Kraft at the Patriots Hall of Fame.

“Fans have a very interesting perspective,” said Commissioner Goodell (above with Robert Kraft and Patriots fans). “You can always find ideas and things that you should focus on as Commissioner.  When you start thinking you have all the right answers you are in trouble.

“We can’t forget that we are involved in this to make sure our game is more popular with our fans and continuing to make it fun for our fans. Interacting with them, letting them understand how I look at things, but also hearing from them gives me great perspective.”

Click here to watch the Patriots.com video.

NFL owners award more than $1.6 million in sports medical research grants through NFL Charities

NFL Charities, the charitable foundation of the National Football League owners, has awarded more than $1.6 million in grants to support sports-related medical research at 16 organizations.  Of these grants, $988,224 will go to studying concussion prevention and treatment.

“We are proud to support sports-related medical research proposals through NFL Charities Medical Research Grants,” said Commissioner Roger Goodell, President of the NFL Charities Board. “These grants will help to address risk factors for football players and all athletes, and make the game safer.”

NFL Charities has actively solicited and placed emphasis on research proposals focused on concussion/traumatic brain injury research, cardiovascular research and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections.  Three separate NFL Charities Medical Grant review committees evaluated the 2010 grant proposals based on each committee’s area of expertise.  Recommendations were submitted to the NFL Charities Board of Directors for approval. 

For more information, including the complete list of grant recipients, click here.

Survey: Majority of fans favor stricter enforcement against illegal hits

A majority of football fans are in favor of the NFL’s stricter enforcement against illegal hits, according to a recent national telephone survey commissioned by research firm Rasmussen Reports.

The polling concluded that 62 percent of fans think that the stricter enforcement is “good for the sport” while 11 percent of respondents were “not sure.”  Twenty-seven percent were not in favor of the new rules.

The survey of 3,300 professional football fans was conducted by Rasmussen Reports on December 14-15, 2010.

For more information, click here.

Packers’ Mark Murphy in Washington Post op-ed: Rookie wage scale “key factor in striking deal with union”

Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy discussed the importance of a rookie wage scale in an op-ed column in Sunday’s edition of The Washington Post under the header, “To avoid an NFL lockout, let’s stop breaking the bank with rookies.”

“A rookie wage scale will be a key factor in striking a deal with the union, along with a revised year-round football calendar – with 18 regular-season games, two preseason games, fewer off-season practices, and additional steps to enhance player safety,” wrote Murphy, who played eight seasons for the Washington Redskins (1977-84) and was the assistant executive director for the NFLPA during the 1987 players’ strike.

“Rookies should be paid fairly, but they should not be among the highest-paid NFL players before playing a single down,” added Murphy, who serves on the NFL’s 10-member Management Council Executive Committee which is responsible for labor negotiations. “Teams don’t like it. Veterans and retired players don’t like it. Fans don’t like it. And the players’ union shouldn’t like it, either.

“Earlier this year, Sports Illustrated published a list of the 50 highest-paid American athletes. Five 2009 NFL rookies were on the list, averaging nearly $21 million in total income for their rookie year. Every other athlete on the list was a proven veteran.

“Our current system of paying rookies doesn’t make sense. In 2009, 256 drafted rookies signed contracts calling for $1.2 billion in compensation with $585 million guaranteed. This year the numbers increased to $1.27 billion, including $660 million guaranteed, for 255 draft choices.

“No other business operates this way, and no other union gives its entry-level hires such privileges. The system is so bad that some teams no longer want picks in the top part of the first round of the NFL draft. The cost is too high, especially if a player taken that high turns out to be a bust.

“We estimate that a rookie wage scale would free up more than a billion dollars during the term of a five-year agreement, and more if it is a longer deal. That money would be redistributed to veterans and retired players. The new entry-level system would end rookie holdouts that damage relations between the player and team, and would eliminate the complexities in the current rookie contracts.”

Click here to read Murphy’s complete column from Sunday’s edition of The Washington Post.

Week 15 features 14 Sunday games

Week 15 of the 2010 NFL season kicked off Thursday with San Diego’s 34-7 victory over San Francisco. The action continues today with 14 games.

Following is today’s game schedule (all times ET):

New Orleans at Baltimore 1:00 PM
Arizona at Carolina 1:00 PM
Cleveland at Cincinnati 1:00 PM
Washington at Dallas 1:00 PM
Jacksonville at Indianapolis 1:00 PM
Buffalo at Miami 1:00 PM
Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants 1:00 PM
Kansas City at St. Louis 1:00 PM
Detroit at Tampa Bay 1:00 PM
Houston at Tennessee 1:00 PM
Atlanta at Seattle 4:05 PM
Denver at Oakland 4:15 PM
N.Y. Jets at Pittsburgh 4:15 PM
Green Bay at New England 8:20 PM

Commissioner Goodell set for Q&A with Pats fans in Foxboro tomorrow, MNF game in Minnesota, and NFL.com chat on Tuesday

Commissioner Roger Goodell will hold a Q&A session with 150 New England season ticket holders at the Patriots Hall of Fame prior to tomorrow night’s Green Bay-New England game (NBC, 8:20 PM ET) at the invitation of Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft.

It is the latest in a series of events in which the Commissioner meets directly with fans to answer their questions and hear what is on their minds. The first event took place at the Pro Bowl in January and was followed by gatherings at the NFL Draft, in Green Bay in July, at numerous locations on his weeklong training camp tour with John Madden, at Kickoff in New Orleans, in London prior to the Broncos-49ers International Series game, and last month at a fan tailgate in the parking lot of Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.

On Monday night, the Commissioner will attend Bears-Vikings (ESPN, 8:30 PM ET) at University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium in the first outdoor NFL game in Minnesota in 29 years.  Monday night’s game will take place one day after Minnesota announces its 50 Greatest Vikings list during the “Minnesota Vikings: Celebrating 50 Seasons” event in Minneapolis.

Commissioner Goodell will then answer questions from fans around the world on an NFL.com chat Tuesday at 3:00 PM ET.