Monday, May 24, 2010

Empire State of The Game, New York Gets Super Bowl 2014

Owners of the 32 NFL clubs are off to Dallas.  Tomorrow they will vote on the location of the 2014 Super Bowl.  The three finalists are New York Metropolitan Area, South Florida (Miami) and Tampa Bay.  If the owners vote to send the championship game to the Big Apple, this will be the first time that the league’s world champion will be decided in an open outdoor stadium in a cold-weather city.

If New York is given Super Bowl 2014, the NFL will have to take a look at the cold-weather rules.  During the last year, there has been a lot of discussion on head injuries related to football.  One can only imagine the debate if players get frostbite or hypothermia.  The NFL could look like an irresponsible organization that made a decision without considering or ignoring the health risks for its players.  Yes, Lombardi is laughing again because he wouldn’t even let his players wear gloves during the “Ice Bowl,” but this must be a concern.    

I love New York.  It is one of my favorite cities.  I even enjoy going there in the winter, especially December.  It is my favorite month of the year.  All of the festivities and friends around the holidays make it a very fun time of year.   (OK, it’s also my birthday month.)  There is no better place to celebrate the holidays than Manhattan.  The lights, shopping, wintry Central Park, Nutcracker on Broadway make it a tough city to beat at Christmastime.  However, the thought of attending a football game sitting outside in February there is chilling.  And I’m from the Midwest.  I’m not talking about Kansas either.  I mean the northern part of the region on Lake Michigan.  So, I am familiar with the snow.  I also sat through some cold games in Michigan Stadium.  But this would not be November at the end of fall.  It’s also not walking from store to store in SoHo.  We are talking about February in the middle of winter, sitting for three plus hours in what could be a white, cold mess. 

I’m only a fan of snow from December 24 – 26.  There is no way I would sit out in the cold, but some fans will be out there because Super Bowl 2014 will be in Meadowlands Stadium.  Here are my top three reasons for the big game going to New York, New York.

3. New York’s Support – Unlike other host cities, there are two teams lobbying for the bid.  New York Jets Owner, Woody Johnson and New York Giants Co-Owners, John Mara and Steve Tisch only need to get 15 other owners to vote for them.  I don’t think that this will be difficult considering that there are other cold weather cities that would like to set a precedent.   The commissioner does not have a vote, but I think New York has his support.  The NFL would like to see the Giants and Jets sell-out the entire premium seating level in the new stadium and the Super Bowl will help.  (Just ask Detroit.)  I don’t think the special program planned on the NFL Network to announce the winner was because Miami or Tampa will host again.

2. New York’s Attraction - I was in Detroit for Super Bowl XL (2006).  Ford Field is not an outdoor stadium, so the game was not affected, but the location did have an effect on “Super Week.”  Several parties and fundraisers usually hosted during that time in the host city were not in Detroit.  It’s just not fun being on a yacht in 20-degree weather.   And there is no way anyone is going out on the golf course.  But New York is a different city.   It has more people, venues and attractions that bring people to the area without a major event.  Not to mention its home to a lot of stars and they will be out.  Companies like ABC may not do an outdoor event, but they will host a swanky party in their studio overlooking Times Square.  This is the city that gets over a million people out to bring in the New Year.   

1. New York’s Resources - Super Bowl is not just a championship game for the NFL.  It is an opportunity for the league to showcase its products to a national audience and grow its brand.  After the growth that the league saw during former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s reign, Commissioner Roger Goodell is determined not to be complacent and rest at the top.  He wants to grow, so that professional football and “the shield” remain the pinnacle of sports.  The discussion tomorrow is not going to focus on the 82,500 stadium seats at Meadowlands Stadium.  While the ticket will not be cheap, the NFL does not make the big bucks from ticket buyers.  The dollars come from the hundreds of millions of people that watch the Super Bowl on television, advertising and corporate partnerships.  New York’s media, money and international appeal will super-size this already massive event. 

I think that the Super Bowl should be played in a neutral city like Los Angeles.  The city misses professional football and Hollywood knows how to create some drama and have a good time.  Since this isn’t happening anytime soon, I’m looking forward to New York.  I am not going to be outside, but I will have fun watching the game at a cool event in Manhattan.  I’ll skip the presentation of the Lombardi trophy.  Instead, I’ll head over to SoHo for heels and great pizza at Lombardi’s.  Tampa and Miami do not have shopping and pizza like that.  So, who wants to join me in New York?

Heels Helmets

Monday, May 17, 2010

OTAs: Voluntary Training or Mandatory Practice?

Organized Team Activities (OTA) are in full swing and players are getting familiar with their roles.  These are de facto practices before training camp in which players participate in limited drills without any contact or pads.  They are supposedly voluntary, but a player will certainly be on the chopping block or bashed to the media if he does not attend.  Each year there are headlines about owners and coaches expressing their disappointment about players not attending OTAs.  The most recent headline is Redskin, Albert Haynesworth.  The defensive tackle has not shown up at Redskin Park for OTAs and owner, Dan Snyder is not happy about it.

I believe in the saying “prior, preparation, prevents, piss, poor, performance.”  I think that any professional (in any industry) should take advantage of opportunities to improve and develop their craft.  And yes, I know that Vince Lombardi would laugh at the use of the term “voluntary practice” and without practicing a team is definitely not going to hoist up the trophy named in his honor.  However, I don’t think that the coaching legend would sugar coat what the practices are.  He would be straightforward, his players would be there and he would accept the NFL’s discipline for violating any rules.  

A lot of people would say that Albert Haynesworth has 41 million reasons to attend OTAs, referring to the amount of guaranteed money in his contract of which he has already received $32 million.  Others would say that the Redskins gave the Pro Bowler, 41 million reasons not to attend when they wrote him one of the largest checks in NFL history.  I say if clubs want players to attend voluntary workouts they should set clear expectations and mandate the practices.  Otherwise, they should stop criticizing a player for missing voluntary OTAs as if he is not performing and falling short of the requirements of his job. 

As negotiations continue for the next CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement), I am curious to see if OTA will become Official Team Activities with the underlying tone of “be On Time or be out on your A…”  I’ll just say hiney.  On second thought, that sentiment is not new.

Check out your team’s Minicamp and OTA Schedule.  (Minicamps include rookies and veterans unless noted.)
Baltimore Ravens
Minicamp: May 7-9
OTAs: May 17-20, May 24-27, June 7-10, June 15-16
Buffalo Bills
Minicamps: May 7-9 (rookies; voluntary for veterans), June 4-6 (voluntary), June 23-25
OTAs: May 25-27, June 1-3, June 8-10, June 15-17, June 21-22
Cincinnati Bengals
Minicamps: April 30-May 2 (rookies), June 15-17
OTAs: May 11, May 13, May 18-20, May 25, May 27, June 1-3, June 8, June 10, June 14
Cleveland Browns
Minicamps: April 30-May 2 (rookies), June 10-12
OTAs: May 17-19, May 24-25, May 27, June 1-3, June 7-8
Denver Broncos
Minicamps: April 30-May 2 (rookies), June 11-13
OTAs: May 17-19, May 24-27, June 2-4, June 7-9
Houston Texans
Minicamp: June 14-16
OTAs: May 17-20, May 24-27, June 1-3, June 8-10
Indianapolis Colts
Minicamps: April 30-May 2 (rookies), June 4-6
OTAs: May 18, May 20, May 25, May 27, June 1-2, June 8, June 10-11
Jacksonville Jaguars
Minicamp: May 1-3
OTAs: May 17-18, May 20, May 24-25, May 27, June 7-8, June 10, June 14-15, June 17, June 21-22
Kansas City Chiefs
Minicamps: April 30-May 2 (rookies), June 11-13
OTAs: May 17-19, May 24-25, May 27, June 1-3, June 7-9, June 14-15
Miami Dolphins
Minicamps: April 30-May 2 (rookies), May 28-30
OTAs: May 18-19, May 24, May 26, June 1, June 3, June 7, June 9-10, June 14, June 16
New England Patriots
Minicamps: April 30-May 2 (rookies), June 15-17
OTAs: May 24-27, June 1-4, June 7-8, June 10-11
New York Jets
Minicamps: April 30-May 2 (rookies), June 14-16
OTAs: May 17-18, May 20, May 24-25, May 27, June 2-3, June 8, June 10
Oakland Raiders
Minicamp: April 30-May 2
OTAs: May 18-20, May 25-27, June 8-10, June 15-17
Pittsburgh Steelers
Minicamp: April 30-May 2
OTAs: April 19-20, May 18-20, May 25-27, June 1-3, June 8-10
San Diego Chargers
Minicamps: May 7-8 (rookies), May 26-28
OTAs: May 18-21, June 8-11, June 14-17
Tennessee Titans
Minicamp: April 30-May 1 (rookies)
OTAs: April 27, April 29, May 11, May 13, May 18-19, May 25, May 27, June 14-15, June 17, June 22, June 24-25
Arizona Cardinals
Minicamp: April 30-May 2
OTAs: May 18-20, May 25-27, June 1-4, June 7-10

Atlanta Falcons
Minicamp: May 7-9
OTAs: May 25-27, June 1, June 3-4, June 8-11, June 15-18
Carolina Panthers
Minicamp: April 30-May 2
OTAs: May 24-27, June 2-4, June 7-10, June 14-16
Chicago Bears
Minicamps: April 30-May 2 (rookies), May 21-23
OTAs: June 2-3, June 7-10, June 14-17, June 21-24

Dallas Cowboys
Minicamps: April 30-May 2 (rookies), June 11-13
OTAs: May 17-19, May 24-26, June 1-3, June 8-10

Detroit Lions
Minicamps: April 30-May 2 (rookies), June 23-25
OTAs: April 20, May 4, May 6, May 11, May 13, May 18, May 20, May 24-25, May 27, June 1, June 3, June 21-22
Green Bay Packers
Minicamps: April 30-May 2 (rookies), June 21-23
OTAs: May 17-20, June 1-3, June 8-10, June 15-17
Minnesota Vikings
Minicamps: April 30-May 2 (rookies), June 11-13
OTAs: May 18-21, May 24-27, June 1-4, June 7-8
New Orleans Saints
Minicamps: May 7-9 (rookies), June 4-6
OTAs: May 25-28, June 7-10, 24-26, June 14-17
New York Giants
Minicamps: April 30-May 2 (rookies), June 15-17
OTAs: May 18, May 20-21, May 24-25, May 27, June 2, June 4, June 7-8, June 10-11
Philadelphia Eagles
Minicamp: April 30-May 2
OTAs: May 19-20, May 24-27, June 1-4, June 7-10
St. Louis Rams
Minicamps: April 30-May 2 (rookies), June 10-12
OTAs: May 18, May 20, May 24-25, May 27, June 1-3, June 7-8, June 14-17

San Francisco 49ers
Minicamps: April 30-May 2 (rookies), June 18-20
OTAs: March 29-30, April 30, May 17-20, June 7-8, June 10-11, June 14-16
Seattle Seahawks
Minicamps: April 13-15 (voluntary), April 30-May 2, June 22-24 (voluntary)
OTAs: May 11, May 13, May 18, May 20, May 25, May 27, June 8, June 10, June 15, June 17
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Minicamps: April 30-May 2 (rookies), June 21-23
OTAs: May 17-19, June 1-3, June 7-10, June 14-17
Washington Redskins
Minicamps: April 16-18 (voluntary), May 7-9 (rookies; voluntary for veterans), June 16-18 OTAs: May 17-19, May 24-26, June 1-3, June 7-8, June 10-11

Heels &  Helmets

Monday, May 10, 2010

Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones Returns To The NFL

Pacman Jones, I’m sorry, Adam Jones is a cornerback in the NFL again.  (Jones stopped using his nickname because it reflects his past and does not represent the mature person he is now.)  After being away from the game for almost two years, he signed a two-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals.  Now this isn’t Adam’s second chance; it is his third.  He was suspended and sat out the entire 2007 season and the Dallas Cowboys picked him up for the 2008 season.  After an injury and another suspension, Dallas let him go and he was not on a roster last season.

I am shocked that Pacman, darn-it Adam, is going to Cincinnati for a couple of reasons.  First, the Bengals have been cautious to bring on players that have displayed behavior issues.  Last fall they dealt with the death of wide receiver, Chris Henry who had been arrested several times and went to college with Jones.  Secondly, they have a strong defense and don’t need him.  The unit was fourth in the NFL and has some really good cornerbacks including Leon Hall from The University of Michigan.  So, I can’t understand why the Bengals would gamble on someone with Jones’ past who has not played the game in almost two years. 

Jones has said that he learned from his mistakes and is a better man.  He obviously convinced the owners and staff at the Bengals that he has changed.  However, he said that before his, sequel, “Back In The NFL” and displayed that he had not.  Now we’ll have to see if the trequel,  “Back In The NFL AGAIN,” will star Adam Jones or Pacman Jones.  If it’s both, hopefully Adam will get more camera time.

Heels &  Helmets

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Big Ben Is Suspended, But The Drama Is Just Starting

NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell announced last month that Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger would be suspended for 4 – 6 games at the beginning of the 2010 season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.  While Ben received his punishment, the drama and uncertainty continues for the Steelers organization and its fans.

Who will replace Big Ben as the starting quarterback?

Last weekend, the Steelers conducted their first mini-camp and Coach Tomlin was clear that a decision on who will be the starting quarterback has not been made and it will not be decided until training camp.  Let’s look at the options:
1. Byron Leftwich – A strong quarterback returning to Pittsburgh for the second time.  (He played behind Roethlisberger during the 2008 season.)  Drafted number 7 in the first round of the 2005 draft by Jacksonville, he entered the league with a lot of promise.  He throws well and has been pretty accurate, but multiple ankle injuries have limited his career.
2. Dennis Dixon – Pittsburgh drafted him in the 6th round of the 2008 draft.    In his first season he was deactivated and last season he was behind Ben and Charlie Batch.  He did start at the end of last season because they were both injured.  Dixon is really fast and some people thought that he would move to the receiver position in the NFL.
3. Charlie Batch - A tried and true veteran.  He had a great start to his career in Detroit, but has suffered several injuries that have limited his action.  He has been the back up quarterback in Pittsburgh since 2002.  Entering his 13th season, he is familiar with the game, the team and Tomlin.  He is also a favorite in Steeler Nation because he grew up close by in Homestead, Pennsylvania.

See the drama is just starting.  Over the next few months, you will hear all about these guys competing for “Big Ben’s job.”  And once Tomlin announces his starter in July, the drama will not end.  The discussion will then turn to how the new starter compares to Ben and what the Steelers will do when he returns.

At this point there are just too many unknowns to make a prediction.  Did the Steelers bring back Leftwich to back up Ben?  In anticipation of the suspension, was that move to have another experienced QB on the roster?  I’ll have to follow this drama and analyze every word (and non-word) from Tomlin to guess what he is going to do this summer.

What do you think?


Heels &  Helmets