Monday, March 29, 2010

NFL Teams and Players Talk, But Nothing Is Imminent

The word of the week is imminent.  NFL teams are looking at free agents and assessing college players, but nothing is imminent.

Pacman Jones is trying to make his second comeback.  Excuse me, I meant Adam Jones.  (He has grown and matured, so he no longer wants to be referred to as Pacman.)  Jones is a great cornerback, but he has gotten into a lot of trouble off the field.  Although he was drafted in the first round of the 2005 Draft, he only has 2 1/2 years of experience playing in the NFL.  He was suspended the entire 2007 season.  The Dallas Cowboys gave him a second chance and acquired him for the 2008 season.  As a result of another suspension and an injury, he only played half of that season.  The Cowboys released him in February 2009 and he did not play at all last year.  Pacman (Adam) conducted a workout for NFL teams a week ago and proved that he can still play.  The Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers, have all expressed an interest in Jones.  The Lions were last in total defense last year, so they could use a talented cornerback.  It appears as if they have demonstrated the strongest interest, but a signed deal is not imminent. 

Rumors are continuing to spread about Donovan McNabb, a veteran quarterback in the last year of his contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.  He has spent his entire career so far with the Eagles and expressed that he would like to stay in Philly.  I am hearing that Buffalo, Minnesota and Oakland are possible new homes for McNabb.  If he does not stay in Philly, I could see him going to the Vikings.  He has been to the Super Bowl, but does not have a ring.  Minnesota was one game away from being the Champs and I think that this gives the edge to Minnesota.  The Vikings are probably waiting on Brett Favre to make a decision on returning on or not.  So they like McNabb, but a trade deal is not imminent.

Now there is something that is imminent – the new overtime rule for the playoffs.  Last week the owners voted 28-4 to change the rule.  The new rule ensures that both teams will have an opportunity to possess the ball once during overtime.  If the team that possesses the ball first scores a field goal on its initial possession, the other team will have the opportunity to possess the ball and attempt to score. If the team with the ball first scores a touchdown, the game is over.  Overtime will continue with additional 15-minute periods until a team scores and wins. 

The owners will vote on the location for Super Bowl 2014 at their meeting in May.  Miami, New York and Tampa Bay are in the running, but the announcement of the winner is not imminent.

Heels  & Helmets

Monday, March 22, 2010

NFL Does Some Spring-Cleaning

Spring is officially here!  Time to get out the Windex and Swifter for some spring-cleaning.  Even the NFL is getting some things in order.  The NFL’s Annual Owners Meeting started yesterday in Orlando, Florida.  During the next couple of days all of the owners (or designated team representative) of the 32 clubs will meet, discuss and vote to clean up some business issues.  All decisions must receive 24 votes for approval.  Here are a couple of topics that I expect the owners to clean up and discuss this week.

1. CBA – The current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is going to expire after this year and this season is uncapped.  I’m sure a huge portion of this year’s meeting will be about labor negotiations.  In short, 60% of revenue goes towards player’s salaries and the owners want this changed.  Naturally, the players feel like this is fair because they go out on the field and damage their bodies playing the game each week.  Without them there is not a game.  However, owners take all of the financial risk and have expressed that their profit margins are shrinking.  They are responsible for managing an entire business, not just a single position.  Without their investment, there is not a club, a stadium or game.  This issue will not be finalized, but the Commissioner, Roger Goodell, will provide an update on how the negotiations are going with the NFL Players Association. 

2. Overtime Rules – The NFL plays sudden death in overtime.  So, the first team that scores in overtime wins the game.  The team that gets the ball first is decided by a coin toss.  Statistics illustrate that almost 60% of the teams that win the coin toss, win the game with a field goal. This has always been a point of contention, but since the New Orleans Saints won the NFC Championship Game in overtime, there has been a substantial amount of discussion concerning a coin toss deciding a playoff game.   The Competition Committee completed their research and will propose a rule change to allow the other team to get the ball if the first team scores a field goal.  However, if the team that gets the ball first in overtime scores a touchdown, the game is over and the other team does not get the ball.  I don’t like Minnesota and Favre fans whining that a coin toss cost them the conference championship.  (I like Favre, but remember that four quarters of football were played before overtime and Favre did throw a crucial interception.)  But, if you are going to give one team another chance on offense, the other team deserves a shot. 

3. Super Bowl XLVIII (2014) – The three finalists to host the Super Bowl in 2014 are Tampa Bay, Miami and New York City (Giants and Jets).   If New York City wins, the Super Bowl will be played in an open stadium in a cold weather location for the first time.  I love New York and I’m looking forward to visiting the new Meadowlands Stadium, but an open stadium in the winter will not be fun.  I remember walking around Detroit for Super Bowl XL and the snow was miserable.  I can’t imagine sitting outside for the game.  I think that Kick Off Week should go to a team in the North and Super Bowl should go to a team in the South. 

Speaking of spring, the University of Michigan’s new Athletic Director, David Brandon is planting new seeds.  Last week he announced that Michigan is going to have a home game during primetime!  The new Michigan Stadium will hold fans for the very first time at night when my Wolverines host Notre Dame on September 10, 2011 at 8 p.m.   This is the first time Michigan will play at night in the Big House, but it will not be its first night game.  They played in the first ever night game against Marquette in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1944.  They have a record of 22 – 11 in primetime games.   

Heels  & Helmets

Monday, March 15, 2010

Change IS Coming

There are tons of changes going on in the world of football.  Jake Delhomme is changing his jersey to the Cleveland Browns.  Tim Tebow is changing his throwing motion.  LaDainian Tomlinson is changing is home to the New York Jets.  And most newsworthy, Calvin Coolidge High School changed football coaches and she is ready for the job.  Yes, ladies SHE!  Coolidge’s new head coach for its varsity football team is Ms. Natalie Randolph. 

So what do all of these changes mean?  Let me tell you what I think. 

The Cleveland Browns have struggled at the quarterback position.   Jake is the second quarterback that the Browns have secured in one week.  (They also acquired Seneca Wallace from Seattle.)   His two-year deal allows Cleveland to have a veteran lead their offense while developing a young quarterback for the future.  I think we'll see them pick up another quarterback during the NFL Draft.

Tim Tebow is a serious athlete and competitor.  He is trying to do everything in his power to silence all of the naysayers and get drafted in the first round as a quarterback.  You have to love his work ethic.

The New York Jets were pretty close to reaching the Super Bowl this year.   They are pleased with the development of their rookie quarterback, Mark Sanchez, and wanted to have a strong backfield support him.  However, they did not want to pay Thomas Jones’ roster bonus.  Acquiring a veteran like LaDainian Tomlinson gives them another powerful running back in their rotation.  Unlike a rookie, LaDainian will be able to go out on the field and be active immediately.

Coach Randolph leading the Coolidge Colts is simply groundbreaking.  I’m looking forward to seeing what she does with the team.  Yes, ladies change is coming.  Congratulations Coach Randolph! 

Heels Helmets

Monday, March 8, 2010

Free Agency Has Started!

NFL personnel finished interviewing and assessing college players at The 2010 NFL Combine.  For the rest of the month, NFL teams will travel to selected universities for College Pro Days to continue evaluating players.  This is all part of the process to determine whom they will draft and add to their roster, but adding players through the draft is not the only way that teams build their teams. 

NFL teams also look to improve their rosters by adding skilled veterans through free agency.  Free agency in the NFL started on March 5.  This is the period in which players whose contracts have expired begin negotiating with other teams.  These players are called free agents.  Some players will sign a new contract with their current team, others will go to new teams and some may not sign a new contract.  All free agents except a “franchise” player can negotiate with any team.  Franchise players can only negotiate with their current team.  When a team designates a player as a franchise player, they are agreeing to the greatest of the following three things:
1. Minimum offer of the average of the top five salaries at the player's position for the current year as of April 15.
2. 120 % of the player’s previous year’s salary
3. The average of the top five salaries at the player's position as of the end of last season

This is going to be a very interesting year because it is an uncapped season.  As a result, NFL teams are not limited on how much they can spend on salaries.  However, between the current economy and the uncertainty of what will be included in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA (the players’ union), I do not think that we will see teams go crazy spending money.

A few weeks ago, I attended Salary Cap 101, a webinar presented by J.I. HalsellJ.I. is an expert!  He has 4 seasons worth of NFL Salary Cap and Player Contract experience. For 2 seasons, he was the Salary Cap Analyst for the Washington Redskins, where he played a role in every player contract negotiation to occur during that period. Prior to his stint with the Redskins, he worked for 2 years for the NFL's labor relations department, the Management Council.  In the two-hour course, J.I. explained areas such as the components of player contracts, tactics used by teams to remain under the cap and how teams and agents determine the market value of players.  He also did an analysis of a sample contract. 

If you are interested in learning more about NFL player contracts, J.I. is conducting another webinar on March 13.  Visit Salary Cap 101 to sign up.  For all of you attorneys (or aspiring attorneys) interested in working with NFL players, this webinar will provide you with a good understanding of NFL contracts.

OK, I have good news for Washington, DC and Redskins fans.  Larry Foote is visiting Redskins Park today!  Larry is a Michigan Man who won a Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Outside of one season with the Detroit Lions, he is a seasoned veteran who is accustomed to working hard and winning.  I think that he will be a great asset to the Redskins.  I hear that Arizona is really interested in Foote, so Redskins fans better pray that he is not sold on the good weather out west.  Considering that his old coach from Pittsburgh, Lou Spanos, is now the linebackers coach in Washington, DC, I think that the chances of him landing in our nation’s capital is pretty good.  Free agency is a crazy time, so we’ll see…


Heels Helmets

Monday, March 1, 2010

Working It Out at The Combine

The Combine is just about over.  Grades are not in for the players yet, but here are a few quick notes to get you in on the conversation this week.

1. No QB Showdown - The top prospects at the quarterback position are Oklahoma's Sam Bradford and Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen.  Neither one them were able to throw because of injuries, so we did not get to compare the best. 
2. McCoy and McCoy - Colt McCoy is a quarterback from Texas.  He is a great athlete, but there is some concern about his height.  Gerald McCoy is a defensive tackle from Oklahoma.  Although he was shown up in the bench press drill, he is still a top prospect at his position.  Pending what the Rams value, he could be the No. 1 overall draft pick.  
3. Clemson had the fastest 40s - The drill that everyone talks about is the "40."  Two of the top 4 fastest times came from Clemson University players.  The top performers were: Jacoby Ford (Clemson Wide Receiver) at 4.28; Trindon Holliday (LSU Return Specialist) at 4.34; Jahvid Best (California Running Back) at 4.35 and C.J. Spiller (Clemson Running Back) at 4.35.
4. Tebow - Tim Tebow has been a standout college quarterback.  However, he had a disappointing performance at the Senior Bowl in January and decided not to throw during the combine.  Everyone questions whether he has the right throwing technique for the NFL.  So, he has been working on it and will unveil his "new technique" at Florida's Pro Day in a couple of weeks.  I don't think that it was a good idea not to throw, but from a PR standpoint, I think that it is great.  It keeps the attention on him and everyone is going to be talking about Tebow until the debut of his new throw.  

If a player was not invited to the NFL Combine,  their dream of playing professional football is not over.  They still have another chance to impress NFL teams at their school's "Pro Day."  This is similar to the combine, but not as intense.  However, it allows general managers, coaches and scouts to see players workout in person.  It is also a chance for players to demonstrate adjustments or improvements following the Senior Bowl and Combine.  The pro day tour starts after the combine on March 3.  Visit the College Pro Day Schedule to see when NFL teams are visiting your favorite college.

Now... How is work going on your 2010 Season?  As you know, I went to work on my 2010 Season last week.  Just like the NFL season starts with workouts at the Combine, I started my season off with strength and weight training from BetterFitness BetterHealth.  Pete Leibman was great!  We reviewed my fitness and nutrition goals for this season.  He developed a personal training plan that will help me have more energy, strength, endurance and muscle.  He also taught me exercises that are effective and do not require spending thousands of dollars on equipment.  The best part about it is he came to my house!  This is perfect for those of you who are concerned about working out in front of others.  

It was a tough workout!  I'm not happy about the pain that I feel.  But, no pain, no gain.  And I'm making it a great 2010!  Plus, someone has already challenged me to a 5K.  I think he is letting the heels in me fool him, but I'll be ready.  See you at the finish line...


Heels Helmets