Tue May 21 10:10pm EDT
Free agent defensive back Charles Woodson is returning to the Oakland Raiders as Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com reports that the 36-year-old has agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the team that selected him with the fourth overall pick of the 1998 NFL draft.
Woodson, who won the 1997 Heisman Trophy while at the University of Michigan, was the 1998 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and was named to four Pro Bowls during his eight-year stint with the Raiders. Woodson joined the Green Bay Packers in 2006 and in seven seasons Woodson would twice lead the NFL in interceptions (2009, 2011). Woodson was named to four Pro Bowl squads and earned Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2009 before he was moved to safety during a 2012 season where he would nine games with a broken clavicle.
Tue May 21 08:45pm EDT
Recently, you may have heard that the Internal Revenue Service came under some considerable fire for targeting certain groups seeking tax-exempt status while green-lighting others (such as one run by the brother of President Obama), but did you know that the National Football league, an organization that currently rakes in about $10 billion per year in revenue, is also a non-profit organization in the eyes of the government? While you're trying to figure that one out, we've got another one for you. Did you know that the league has been a non-profit organization since 1966, when the NFL merged with the American Football League, and then-commissioner Pete Rozelle folded in the request for an exemption with the request for an anti-trust exemption?
Yes, it's all true. Technically, the NFL is a 501(c)(6) non-profit organization. That part of the Internal Revenue Code "provides for the exemption of business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards, boards of trade and professional football leagues, which are not organized for profit and no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual."
It's an interesting wrinkle, because while the NFL's member teams essentially act as a group of individual entities with an overarching partnership governed by the league, the league itself has not always argued so when it was against its benefit. In the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission vs. National Football League et al dispute argued in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1983, the league argued that it was a single entity, thus exempting it from certain antitrust statutes. The Coliseum Commission (and the Raiders franchise on whose behalf the Commission was responding) said that the league was instead a group of legal entities that act independently. The Court agreed with the Commission and the Raiders, finding that Rozelle had acted in bad faith in Al Davis' attempted move out of Oakland.
When Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens ruled against the NFL in the American Needle case in 2010, he more specifically outlined how NFL teams actually operate in practice, as opposed to pure theory.
NFL teams do not possess either the unitary decision-making quality or the single aggregation of economic power characteristic of independent action. Each of them is a substantial, independently owned, independently managed business, whose "general corporate actions are guided or determined" by "separate corporate consciousnesses," and whose "objectives are" not "common." Copperweld, 467 U. S., at 771. They compete with one another, not only on the playing field, but to attract fans, for gate receipts, and for contracts with managerial and playing personnel ...
[...] The fact that the NFL teams share an interest in making the entire league successful and profitable, and that they must cooperate to produce games, provides a perfectly sensible justification for making a host of collective decisions. Because some of these restraints on competition are necessary to produce the NFL's product, the Rule of Reason generally should apply, and teams' cooperation is likely to be permissible. And depending upon the activity in question, the Rule of Reason can at times be applied without detailed analysis. But the activity at issue in this case is still concerted activity covered for [the ruling's] purposes.
While member teams obviously operate for profit, the interesting wrinkle here is that the league itself claims not to. And one way to avoid profitability is to pay your current and former executives up the wazoo, which the NFL has done.
Tue May 21 03:37pm EDT
NFL owners voted on Tuesday to award Super Bowl L to the San Francisco/Bay Area and Super Bowl LI to Houston, Texas.
The Bay Area last hosted a Super Bowl in 1985 and was considered the heavy favorite to receive the historic 50th Super Bowl as construction is well underway on a new $1.2 billion stadium in Santa Clara, 44 miles south of San Francisco. NFL owners had to decide between the Bay Area bid and one from Miami, which has played host to ten Super Bowls.
The bid from the Miami group was considered a long shot for Super Bowl L after the Florida state Legislature failed to vote on a bill that would have provided funding for much-needed renovations to Sun Life Stadium. As the losing bid on Super Bowl L, Miami also bid for Super Bowl LI, but the same stadium issues that doomed the bid for Super Bowl L sunk their hopes of beating out Houston for Super Bowl LI.
Houston has hosted two Super Bowls previously, the most recent being Super Bowl XXXVIII between the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots in 2004.
"Congratulations to San Francisco and Houston on Super Bowl L and LI," Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said in a statement released by the team. "However, we don't think there's a better place in the country to host Super Bowl than right here in South Florida. I am grateful for the hard work and creative energy that the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee showed in their bid.
"Today’s decision doesn’t dampen our enthusiasm to pursue Super Bowls in the future, since we are steadfast in our belief that those games are good for the South Florida community."
Both San Francisco and Houston were awarded Super Bowls on the first ballot, which means their bids received a "super majority", i.e. 24 of the 32 votes, over the competing bid from Miami. If a new stadium does not materialize in South Florida, or if major improvements are not made to Sun Life Stadium, it might be very long time before the Super Bowl returns to the Miami area.
Tue May 21 02:34pm EDT
With all the talk about the Seattle Seahawks' multiple suspensions for violations of the NFL's substance abuse policy, and the allegedly undisciplined environment those suspensions appear to portray, it could be that backup quarterback Josh Portis did his former team a favor when he was arrested in suspicion of driving under the influence when he was pulled over near Seattle on May 5. The Seahawks released Portis on Tuesday, just one day after Portis was seen alternating reps with fellow backup quarterbacks Brady Quinn and Jerrod Johnson.
Portis was traveling 80 miles per hour in a 60 miles per hour zone, and according to the arresting officer, performed poorly in field sobriety tests. He registered .092 and .078 in two breath tests. The legal limit in Washington State is .08. It was not a good time for Portis to mess up, given his shaky hold on a roster spot and the team's possible need to prove a point publicly. Portis, who transferred from Florida to Maryland to California (Pa.) in his collegiate career, made some strides as a backup with Seattle over the last few years by impressing coaches with his athleticism and deep arm, but he wasn't able to work that into a move up the depth chart, especially when Russell Wilson ascended as a third-round rookie in 2012, and Matt Flynn was relegated to the role of highly-paid benchwarmer.
Seattle waived Portis in November of 2012 off the practice squad, and brought him back in April after trading Flynn to the Oakland Raiders, but there was no good reason to hang onto him in the face of his arrest, and some pretty good reasons to make a statement. In addition, the OTA performance of Johnson, a 6-foot-5, 251-pound undrafted free agent from Texas A&M, may have sealed Portis' fate.
Tue May 21 02:33pm EDT
The New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Rams each spent over $100,000 in guaranteed money on their class of undrafted free agents this offseason, according to a source with knowledge of rookie salary data.
NFL teams could spend a maximum of $78,170 in signing bonuses on undrafted rookie free agents this offseason, but there are no limits to the amount of guaranteed money teams can include in the standard three-year contracts signed by undrafted free agents. Seven NFL teams have spent more than the $78,170 signing bonus maximum in guaranteed money, with New England leading the way by spending $140,000 in guaranteed money on their undrafted free agents.
The largest individual guarantee among the Patriots undrafted rookie free agents belongs to Missouri wide receiver T.J. Moe, who received an $8,000 signing bonus and will receive $22,000 in fully guaranteed base salary regardless of whether or not he makes New England's 53-man roster for a total of $30,000 in guaranteed money. The 5-foot-11, 204-pound Moe excelled in the three-cone drill at the 2013 combine, posting the second-fastest time among all invitees. As explained here by Christopher Price of WEEI.com, the Patriots have shown a tendency to target players who perform well in that particular agility drill, so that Moe was a "priority free agent" for the Patriots does not come as much of a surprise. (Had Moe played at Rutgers, the Patriots might have requested that Foxborough officials award him the key to the town or make him an honorary selectman.)
Behind Moe on the Patriots' list of large guarantees is Nevada tight end Zach Sudfeld, who received the team's largest signing bonus ($12,000) and also has a $5,000 base salary guarantee for a total of $17,000 in guaranteed money. Sudfeld, who a month older than Rob Gronkowski and a few months older than Aaron Hernandez, caught just two passes in his first five seasons at Nevada catching 45 passes with eight touchdowns after being granted a medical redshirt for the 2012 season. Offensive lineman Elvis Fisher, Moe's former teammate at Missouri, received $15,000 in guaranteed money from the Patriots, while guard Josh Kline ($14,000), fullback Ben Bartholomew ($10,000) and linebacker Kanorris Davis ($10,000) also received five-figure guarantees.
The Cowboys ($104,500), Rams ($103,100), Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($94,670) and New Orleans Saints ($88,500) round out the top five in guaranteed money on rookie free agents. The Jacksonville Jaguars ($86,000) and Philadelphia Eagles ($82,000) have also exceeded the signing bonus limit. The Chicago Bears ($29,500) and Green Bay Packers ($35,500) are the two NFL teams to spend under $40,000 in guaranteed money on undrafted rookie free agents.
For the Patriots, Cowboys, Rams, Saints and Jaguars, committing larger-than-required amounts of guaranteed money to undrafted rookies is nothing new as each club spent $85,000 in guaranteed money or higher on undrafted free agents in 2012, as well.
The Cowboys, Patriots and Saints spent over $200,000 on undrafted free agents last season. Those guaranteed amounts were inflated as each team signed a single player to a contract with over $200,000 in guaranteed money. For the Cowboys, they paid undrafted offensive lineman Ronald Leary as if he were a fifth-round pick, guaranteeing him $214,000 ($9,000 to sign, $205,000 base salary guarantee). The Patriots' total was pumped upwards when they guaranteed Olympic silver medalist Jeff Demps $211,000 ($11,000 to sign, $200,000 base salary guarantee) following the London games.
As the first seasons of Leary and Demps show, large financial guarantees are not an indicator that the player will make an immediate impact in the NFL. Demps spent last season on injured reserve and was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the third day of the 2013 NFL draft. Leary did not make the Cowboys' 53-man roster, spent 15 weeks on Dallas' practice squad and was inactive for the two games he was promoted to the team's active roster.
For the second consecutive season, the Cowboys handed out the largest individual guarantee, signing former Arizona State linebacker Brandon Magee to a contract that includes a total of $70,000 in guarantees, including $65,000 in fully guaranteed base salary. The second-largest guarantee on the Cowboys belongs to safety Jakar Hamilton, who pocketed a $10,000 signing bonus. The Rams' large guarantees were made to offensive tackle Braden Brown and safety Cody Davis, each of whom received $20,000 in guarantees. Linebacker Jonathan Stewart was third with $17,500, while linebacker Phillip Steward and running back Benny Cunningham received $15,000 in guaranteed money.
Tue May 21 11:18am EDT
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Tiger Woods was in Washington, D.C. on Monday to promote the AT&T National tournament, so, of course, he was asked questions about Robert Griffin III. Because, why not? Woods, who had arthroscopic surgery to repair the ACL in his left knee in 2008, had some interesting advice for RG3 regarding the quarterback's own recovery process from off-season knee surgery.
“For me, did I have to be explosive when I came back? Yes, but only to a certain extent,” Woods told CSNWashington.com (via the Washington Post). “I could still hit the ball 30 yards shorter and still win golf tournaments. For him, losing a half a step is a big deal. And no one’s gonna be hitting me out there on the golf course. That would be fun, though. It’d be aggressive. We used to do that in high school — full-contact golf — but that’s a different story….
Tue May 21 08:46am EDT
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will miss his team's OTA practices after undergoing a minor surgical procedure to remove a cyst from his back, Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas reports.
The Cowboys' three-week OTA period begins on Tuesday and end on June 6. The Cowboys have a mini-camp scheduled for June 11-13, but the report suggests that Romo will be on the shelf until the team opens training camp in Oxnard, California on July 19.
Romo, 33, had a career-high 4,903 yards and his 28 touchdown passes were the third-most in his seven seasons as the Cowboys' starting quarterback. Romo also equaled a career-high and led the NFL with 19 interceptions. Those turnovers.
This is a big offseason for Romo, who signed a six-year, $108 million extension that included $55 million in guaranteed money on April 1. Following the 2013 NFL draft, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that Romo was going to be putting in "Peyton Manning-like hours" at the team's facility as Romo will have greater input in the team's offensive game-planning.
Romo, who cut back on the time he spends on the golf course in the offseason, can still put in that time at the facility, but the surgery means he will not get on-field work with the first-team offense until training camp.
Mon May 20 09:47pm EDT
RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll may have been happy to have most of his players back on the field for the start of the team's 2013 series of voluntary OTAs, but that was not the first thing on his mind on Monday. Nor should it have been. Instead, when Carroll addressed the media after a spirited two-hour non-contact practice, his thoughts went immediately -- and comprehensively -- to the fact that six different Seahawks players have been suspended for violations of the NFL's substance abuse policies since 2010, and to the increasing perception that Carroll is leading a team that can't get out of its own way. Carroll was forced to address the situation this time because defensive end Bruce Irvin, the team's first-round pick in 2012, was recently suspended for the first four games of the 2013 season for reported Adderall use.
"This is a challenge -- it’s a challenge for us, and it’s a challenge for the league," Carroll said during a five-minute statement at the beginning of his press conference. "The league is doing everything they can to help guys make it through these young careers that they have, from teaching, to instructing, also the punitive side of it. They're doing a really good job and they’re in it for the right reasons, and we are too. We go beyond with what the league does. We go well past with what the guidelines ask us to do as far as working with our young guys trying to give them the direction, trying to give them the counseling. We have people on staff that are here specifically to work with our individual guys because I really see this as an individual challenge."
Right now, it's a collective challenge for the organization. Irvin's suspension followed the suspensions of cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner in 2012 (both for Adderall, though Sherman's was later overturned on appeal), and the earlier suspensions of guard John Moffitt, offensive tackle Allen Barbre, and defensive back Winston Guy. The NFL does not release the reasons for these suspensions, but Moffit admitted that he took Adderall before he knew he needed a medical exemption. Not even counting the overturned Sherman suspension, that still puts the Seahawks in the NFL lead when it comes to such suspensions since 2010.
And it's worth wondering, as some jokesters might, whether the Seahawks are now an Adderall team with a football problem.
Carroll is now saddled with the perception that he's lost control of the ship. Right or wrong, a team that many experts believe could represent the NFC in the Super Bowl has been pegged as a loose cannon. It's not something that he wants to deal with, especially when these perceptions are added to the scandals that contributed to his departure from USC in 2009. Can Carroll can maintain order in these more difficult circumstances? Can any NFL head coach, and how is that best done?
Mon May 20 03:49pm EDT
The NFL and NFLPA are closing in on a deal that would make significant alterations to the league calender over the next three years, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.
According to the report, the union is close to signing off on a deal allowing the league to move the start date of the new league year to before the annual scouting combine in Indianapolis. Historically, the new league year has begun in early-to-mid March, nearly two weeks after the final day of the combine.
An even bigger change, and one that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell does not need union approval for, is pushing the date of the annual NFL draft from late April to May. While the collective bargaining agreement allows for the commissioner to set the date at his or her discretion, Goodell would like the NFLPA's approval before taking that step.
Mon May 20 03:11pm EDT
NFL owners have gathered in Boston this week for their annual spring meetings. A focal point of this week's meetings will be the announcement of the host cities for Super Bowl L and Super Bowl LI, votes on which will take place on Tuesday.
Owners will choose between presentations from South Florida and the San Francisco Bay Area for the 50th Super Bowl, which will be played in February 2016.
The Bay Area is the favorite to host Super Bowl L as construction is well underway on the San Francisco 49ers' new $1.2 billion stadium in Santa Clara, located about 40 miles south of San Francisco. Completion of the new stadium, which has seating capacity of up to 75,000 and will be named Levi's Stadium once a naming rights deal is approved, is expected in time for the 2014 season.
San Francisco hosted the Super Bowl in 1985 and was tentatively awarded Super Bowl XXXIII, but could not reach a deal to finance renovations to Candlestick Park and lost the right to host the game.
Meanwhile, the current bid out of South Florida is considered a long shot to host either Super Bowl after the Florida state legislature recently defeated a bill that would have granted public money for renovations to Sun Life Stadium.
A three-quarters majority, 24 of the 32 owners, are required on the first ballot Tuesday. If neither San Francisco or Miami receives 24 votes on the first ballot, then a simple majority would win on the subsequent ballot.
Posted Jul 2 2012
Posted Jul 3 2012
Posted Jun 21 2012