Archive for July, 2012

8 Days until “NFL AM” debuts!

NFL Network’s ‘NFL AM’ Premieres Monday, July 30 at 6:00 AM ET

Quick Facts about ‘NFL AM’

Eight days and counting until the premiere of NFL AM – a new, live weekday morning show on NFL Network!

Beginning Monday, July 30 at 6:00 AM ET, fans can start their day with the NFL like never before with a four-hour morning show featuring seasoned and opinionated talent who will report and debate news, and examine the personalities that play the game.

Here are some quick facts about NFL AM:

  • NFL AM is the first national morning show produced on the West Coast
  • When: Monday – Friday, 6:00 – 10:00 AM ET
  • What: A four-hour weekday morning show that will cover a wide-range of NFL-related topics, including the cultural convergence of sports, entertainment and pop culture
  • Who: Brian Webber, Nicole Zaloumis, Eric Davis, Mark Kriegel & Steve Wyche
  • Why: “NFL AM will give fans a great reason to look forward to the morning. We know that our fans are looking for more football and we are excited to provide a personality-driven show which focuses on football and everything around it. There will be no better way to start their day.” – Mark Quenzel, NFL Network senior vice president of programming and production
  • Beginning September 3, NFL AM will encore each weekday at 7:00 AM PT for West Coast fans

Here are some features to look for on NFL AM:
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9 Days until “NFL AM” debuts!

NFL Network’s ‘NFL AM’ Premieres Monday, July 30 at 6:00 AM ET

Learn About the ‘NFL AM’ Set

Nine days and counting until the premiere of NFL AM – a new, live weekday morning show on NFL Network!

Beginning Monday, July 30 at 6:00 AM ET, fans can start their day with the NFL like never before with a four-hour morning show featuring seasoned and opinionated talent who will report and debate news, and examine the personalities that play the game.

“NFL AM” team (L-R): Brian Webber, Nicole Zaloumis, Eric Davis, Mark Kriegel and Steve Wyche

The set for NFL AM has been created by Jack Morton Design PDG, led by the design team of Andre Durette, Matt Glaze and Michael Kramer.

“There is a huge amount of variety in the set because everything is wild, everything can move or rotate,” said Kramer, who has designed sets for ESPN and The Golf Channel.

The background of the main set is a cityscape with three-dimensional buildings, creating what Kramer describes as “the modern NFL city with futuristic architecture.” Monitors are incorporated into the buildings and will display highlight loops and video packages.

Eric Davis (left), Nicole Zaloumis and Mark Kriegel on the set with eight monitors

A side set incorporates a special locker room area with eight lockers equipped with game jerseys, cleats and other on-field garb. The back of each locker features a 65-inch plasma screen allowing the NFL AMcrew to go live to reporters at eight different team locations.

Finally, the NFL AM set includes a 103-inch monitor, with a chalkboard and magnetic board on the flip side for Xs-and-Os discussion.

“We have a huge amount of variety and I think that’s been fun for everyone to explore the possibilities they have, how to shoot it in every kind of way,” Kramer added.

Working in conjunction with Jack Morton Design on the set is Mystic Scenic, Bruce Ferri Lighting Design and Video Visions, Inc.

To view a timelapse video of the NFL AM set construction, click here.

NFL AM’s talent roster features 13-year NFL veteran Eric Davis, Mark Kriegel from FOXSports.com, Brian Webber from FOX Sports Digital, Nicole Zaloumis from Comcast Sports Net-New England, and Steve Wyche from NFL Media. The show will be based at NFL Network’s Culver City, Calif. studios. No other sport is the sole focus of a show of this length each and every weekday morning.

NFL Network airs seven days a week, 24 hours a day on a year-round basis and is the only television network fully dedicated to the NFL and the sport of football. For more information, log on to www.nfl.com/nflnetwork. NFL.com is the exclusive internet home of NFL Network.

10 days until “NFL AM” debuts on NFL Network

NFL Network’s ‘NFL AM’ Premieres Monday, July 30 at 6:00 AM ET 

Meet Analyst Eric Davis

Ten days and counting until the premiere of NFL AM, a new, live weekday morning show on NFL Network!

Beginning Monday, July 30 at 6:00 AM ET, fans can start their day with the NFL like never before with a four-hour morning show featuring seasoned and opinionated talent who will report and debate news, and examine the personalities that play the game.

One of the analysts on NFL AM is former Super Bowl-winning cornerback Eric Davis. A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Davis played 13 NFL seasons (1990-2002) with the San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions. In the fall, Davis will begin his second season as the radio analyst for 49ers games.

Learn more about Davis with this brief Q&A 

Most people don’t know I…

“…Am classically trained in piano. I started as a kid; I need to get back into it, I don’t play as much as I used to. But it was just something I wanted to learn so I took classical music theory, learned to play all of the Chopin, Bach, Chomsky.”

The thing about waking up for a show that airs at 6:00 AM ET is…

“…Do you ever really wake up? It seems like you’re wide awake all of the time. You’re waking up when you’re normally getting ready to go to bed. It’s just like a complete shift of your world. It’s like living in Europe.”

What would surprise me this NFL season is…

“…I would be surprised if the 49ers aren’t good. I would be surprised if the Saints are [good]. I would be surprised if Andrew Luck doesn’t play well.”

What was the greatest moment of your playing career?

“I still go all the way back to middle school. A lot of people always think I’m going to go with Super Bowls or something like that; those were some fun days, some great playoff games and great times in the NFL. But I played football every year of my life from the time I was nine years old until 34 except for one year – my seventh grade year when they told me I was too small to play on my junior high school team, the Cobb Steelers. They told me I was too small to play and that next year I was the quarterback of that team. In the championship game, the team that the school had lost to the previous year, we played that same team and beat them 14-8. I scored all 14 points and it was redemption for that same coach to say the team couldn’t have done it without me.”

Who was your favorite teammate to play with?

“Tim McDonald. I really enjoyed playing with Deion [Sanders] – that whole secondary. But Tim McDonald just because of the friendship. I learned so much from him. But my ’94 secondary [with the San Francisco 49ers] was the most fun group you could ever be around.”
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Sixty-Nine 2012 NFL Regional/Super Regional Combine Participants on NFL Rosters Heading Into Training Camp

With NFL training camps opening next week, 69 players who attended an NFL Regional Combine and/or the NFL Super Regional Combine in 2012 currently hold roster positions. NFL clubs signed players from seven of the eight 2012 Regional Combines hosted from January through March, including 39 players who were invited to the Super Regional Combine at Ford Field in Detroit from March 30-31.

At least one 2012 Regional Combine and/or Super Regional Combine participant is on the roster of 26 of the league’s 32 clubs (81 percent), with eight of those teams – ATLANTA (six), TENNESSEE (six), CHICAGO (five), PITTSBURGH (five), ST. LOUIS (five), BALTIMORE (four), JACKSONVILLE (four) and the NEW YORK GIANTS (four)retaining four or more registrants.  

For the complete release, click here

NFL Statement on Negotiations with the Game Officials

We have great respect for our officials and in keeping with that view have made a proposal that includes substantial increases in compensation for all game officials. 

We have negotiated in good faith since last October. We accepted the union’s suggestion that we involve federal mediators in the negotiations.  We are available to meet with the NFLRA at any time to negotiate a new contract.

ON THE NFLRA CLAIM THAT WE ARE UNWILLING TO NEGOTIATE:

That is absolutely false.  We have negotiated in good faith for the past nine months.  In addition to two sessions with the federal mediator, we have had nine other bargaining sessions with the union since last October.  We are available to meet with the NFLRA at any time to negotiate a new contract.

PROPOSAL ON COMPENSATION:

Our seven-year proposal (through 2018) offered healthy annual compensation increases of between 5 and 11 percent for each individual official.

In 2011, the average pay for NFL game officials was $149,000.  Under our last proposal, that would increase to more than $189,000 by 2018.

A game official in his first year in 2011 made an average of $78,000. Under our last proposal, he would make more than $165,000 by the end of the new agreement.

A game official who was in his fifth year in 2011, and earned an average of $115,000, would earn more than $183,000 in 2018 under our last proposal.

And an official in his 10th year, who earned an average of $139,000 last year, would earn more than $200,000 by the end of our proposal.

Officials that qualify for postseason games, or are referees, would earn substantially more.

Compare this to pay increases in the broader economy – the Wall Street Journal reported last May that from 2005 through the first quarter for 2012, “for public and private civilian employers of all sorts, labor costs were basically flat.”  We offered annual increases of between 5 and 11 percent.

PROPOSAL ON RETIREMENT BENEFITS:

No game official will lose any vested pension benefit under our proposal and the clubs will fully fund all pension obligations.   We have proposed to freeze the current defined benefit plan and replace it with a defined contribution/401(k) arrangement.  According to the New York Times, only 17 percent of American workers currently have a defined benefit plan and the trend is overwhelmingly in the direction of freezing those plans.  A 2009 paper from the Social Security Administration reported that “many employers have frozen their DB plans and some experts expect most private-sector defined benefit plans will be frozen in the next few years and eventually terminated.”

Under our proposal, game officials would have a defined contribution retirement arrangement under which each official would receive annual contributions starting at $16,500 and increasing to almost $23,000, plus a wide range of investment opportunities.

RE QUESTIONS ON “FREEZING” AND THEN “SUSPENDING” THEIR CURRENT PENSION PLAN:

We proposed a transition from the defined benefit plan that is intended to provide them a LARGER retirement benefit than under the old defined plan. The officials would retain all the benefits that they currently have under that plan. We have proposed a new defined contribution arrangement that would replace the defined benefit plan. This plan is the same kind of pension plan (a defined contribution plan) that everyone has at the league office and that many clubs now have.

We offered to contribute $16,500 per official in 2012 and increase that amount to almost $23,000 by 2018. 

THE USE OF REPLACEMENT OFFICIALS:

We only began the process of hiring replacements when the NFLRA told us of its intention to have its members authorize the union leadership to call a strike. 

In order to ensure that there is no disruption to NFL games this season we began last month hiring and training replacement officials. These experienced and high-quality officials will be prepared to work preseason games, beginning with the Pro Football Hall of Fame game on August 5.  We have made substantial investments in training despite the efforts of the NFLRA to denigrate the replacements and disrupt the training process. 

Our goal is to maintain the highest quality of officiating for our teams, players, and fans, including proper enforcement of the playing rules and efficient management of our games.

We are confident that these game officials will enforce rules relating to player safety.   Contrary to NFLRA leadership, we do not believe that players will “play dirty” or intentionally break the rules.

NFL Training Camps Open Next Week; Cardinals First in on Monday

Back to work!

Clubs will begin their on-field preparations for NFL Kickoff 2012 next week, starting with the Arizona Cardinals on Monday, July 23 when their veterans and rookies report. By Sunday, July 29, every NFL team will be in camp.

More and more, teams are training at their regular-season headquarters. In 2000, only five of 31 (16 percent) teams stayed close to home. This year, more than half the league (18 of 32, 56 percent) will be “staying home” for training camp.

For the first time in Bengals’ history, the club will conduct its training camp in Cincinnati at its home facility. The Bengals previously held training camp at Georgetown College (1997-2011) in Kentucky and Wilmington College (1968-1996) in Ohio.

“This change will provide our hometown fans a unique opportunity to see the 2012 team as it comes together,” says Bengals Executive Vice President KATIE BLACKBURN on training camp being held at Paul Brown Stadium. “We hope it will also help attract fans from outside Greater Cincinnati.”

The Ravens, too, are looking forward to having all the comforts of home at their disposal as they remain at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, Maryland again this summer. Last season, the club decided to conduct training camp at its practice facility in Owings Mills instead of McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland for the first time in franchise history (since 1996).

“How teams conduct training camp today is vastly different,” says Ravens General Manager and Executive Vice President OZZIE NEWSOME. “Our football needs and requirements are different. The absence of two-a-days, space needed for the players and the meetings, the importance of having an indoor field when the summer storms come – all are football-influenced factors.”

For the complete release, click here

NFL and USA Football Select More Than 150 High School Football Coaches and Youth Administrators to Attend Youth Football Summit

More than 60 coaches, including former NFL players now coaching high school and youth football, have been selected by the NFL to participate in the 12th annual NFL-USA Football Youth Football Summit, beginning today in Canton, Ohio.

In addition to these coaches, 95 other supporters of youth and high school football, including youth football commissioners from across the country, will attend the Summit, which is held at Kent State Stark Professional Education & Conference Center.  The event is funded by the NFL Youth Football Fund (YFF).

DR. MARGOT PUTUKIAN, director of athletic medicine at Princeton University and member of the NFL Head, Neck & Spine Committee, will address coaches on the importance of concussion treatment and prevention.

Coaches also will learn about the Lystedt Law, legislation aimed at protecting young athletes from returning to play too soon after head injuries. The law has been passed in 38 states and the District of Columbia.  The NFL has been an active advocate in these states and others to make youth sports safer.

Former Steelers great MERRIL HOGE will speak with summit participants on the vital role coaches play in the lives of young athletes, while former player and current NFL Vice President of Player Engagement TROY VINCENT will discuss the value of education.  Throughout the Summit, attendees also will hear from Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Tippett, and former NFL team executive and current NFL.com contributor GIL BRANDT.

Leaders in the fields of sports medicine and sports psychology will review topics facing youth sports.  DR. LINN GOLDBERG of Oregon Health & Science University will lead a steroid and supplement education session and discuss the NFL’s ATLAS  & ATHENA  Anti-Steroid Education program.  The Gatorade Sports Science Institute will address the issues of heat and hydration, and participants also will learn about injury prevention in youth sports.

Other topics at the summit include an NCAA session on eligibility and recruiting, interactive demonstrations on proper equipment fitting, the importance of a feeder system, helping young players to achieve their potential and handling coach-player-parent relationships.  

For the complete release, click here

New Cancer Center Opens Today in Memory of Pro Football Hall of Famer Gene Upshaw

The Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center in Truckee, California had its formal opening today. It is named in honor of the late Pro Football Hall of Fame Oakland Raider and former NFLPA Executive Director GENE UPSHAW.

The newly-opened building is part of the Tahoe Forest Cancer facility and will honor Upshaw’s legacy and advance the Upshaw family’s passion for quality medical care for cancer patients and their families. The center is located in Truckee near Lake Tahoe, where Upshaw was a part-time resident for 35 years until his death from pancreatic cancer in 2008.

In addition to Gene’s widow Terri, others attending today’s formal opening include former NFL players MARCUS ALLEN, TIM BROWN, WILLIE GAULT, TOM FLORES and STEVE BONO and NFL senior executive JOE BROWNE representing Commissioner ROGER GOODELL. The NFL has been the largest contributor to the Upshaw Center’s fundraising efforts.

Upshaw played for the Oakland Raiders from 1967-1981 and was a six-time Pro Bowl player. He served as the NFLPA’s executive director from 1983 until his death in 2008.

For more information about today’s opening of the new Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center, click here

NFL, NFLPA Agree on Full Funding of Legacy Benefits for Eligible Widows and Survivors of Pre-1993 Players

The NFL and NFL Players Association have reached an agreement to extend the collective bargaining agreement’s new Legacy benefits to approximately 330 widows and other survivors of eligible pre-1993 players, the NFL and NFLPA announced jointly today.

Each of the eligible beneficiaries will receive an increase in the amount they were receiving as of the effective date of the CBA. The benefit will be retroactive to August 1, 2011, which was the same effective date for the Legacy benefit for eligible pre-1993 players.   

The funding of the benefit will be split on the same basis as the funding for the other beneficiaries of the Legacy Fund – 51 percent paid by the NFL and 49 percent by the NFLPA.

Widows and survivors qualifying for this benefit will begin receiving their retroactive checks within the next two weeks. They will begin receiving their monthly benefits beginning August 1.

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Browns Choose Baylor WR Josh Gordon in NFL Supplemental Draft

The Cleveland Browns today selected Baylor wide receiver JOSH GORDON in the NFL Supplemental Draft.

The Browns selected Gordon with the second pick in the second round and as a result will forego their second-round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Gordon registered 43 receptions for 721 receiving yards with seven touchdown catches in two seasons at Baylor. He also added seven kickoff returns for 139 yards (19.9 average) during his collegiate career. As a sophomore in 2010, Gordon played in 13 games with five starts and ranked second on the team with a career-best 42 catches for 714 receiving yards and tied a team-high with seven touchdown catches.

The supplemental draft was conducted electronically today from NFL headquarters in New York. There were no other players selected.

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