Wed May 22 12:34pm EDT
You've gotta feel for Joe Namath. The dude remains the absolute unquestioned high point of the Jets franchise, and he's stuck watching a team with its head so far up its own backfield that it's turning in a circle. What do you do if you're Joe? Gripe and moan about the state of the franchise and come off as a bitter once-was, or try — really, really TRY — to find something positive, even when you're flying in the face of reality?
Namath, to his credit, is taking the latter route. Speaking to a local coterie of football fans, Namath went all-in on supporting incumbent quarterback Mark Sanchez. “I know that Sanchez is going to play better,” he said. “He went through some major distractions last year. No matter how much you say, ‘It doesn’t bother me, that’s not a focus-breaker,’ bull. I promise you you’ll see a different guy this year."
And by "different guy," Namath means a different Sanchez, not an entirely different quarterback, though he allowed that's not completely off the table. "Even if he’s not with the Jets, he’s going to play as long as he wants to," Namath said. "He’s that good. He’ll get another job. As long as he stays healthy, he’s going to stay in the NFL."
Wait, Sanchez writing his own ticket? Really? Sure, the only time Sanchez doesn't make a bad move in the pocket is when he makes a worse one, but we'll give Namath credit for knowing more about quarterbacking than the rest of us.
Of course, even the all-knowing Broadway Joe can't figure the Jets' thinking behind drafting Geno Smith. Namath can't figure why the Jets would pick up yet another quarterback, but noted that Smith is a "sensational athlete" despite being "a little lean."
Bottom line: Namath managed the trick of supporting Sanchez while still leaving himself scrambling room to support Smith should the rookie, or someone else, win the starting quarterback slot. That's why Joe's the best, kids ... you can't lay a hand on him.
-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-
Wed May 22 11:25am EDT
New York Giants defensive lineman Justin Tuck has gone through two frustrating regular seasons in 2011 and 2012, amassing a total of 9.0 quarterback sacks after putting up 11.5 in his All-Pro season of 2010. Tuck did play the game of his life in the Giants' Super Bowl XLVI win over the New England Patriots at the end of the 2011 season, but more is expected of a man in the last year of a five-year, $30 million contract extension he signed in 2008. Giants general manager Jerry Reese recently said he had a conversation with Tuck about underperforming, and hoped that Tuck could "get back to his old form."
Tuck's held himself accountable about the whole thing, and to that end, he's found an unconventional way to try and get back on track. In March, he looked up well-known performance coach Tony Robbins, the best-selling author and successful motivational speaker who's perhaps best-known for his tactic of having people walk over hot coals to find a new level of potential.
"I realize I haven’t played my best the last two years," Tuck told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York. "Whether it be injuries or the circumstances surrounding this team. Who knows? I knew it was time for me to try something different. I've had people telling me to get my butt to Robbins for two to three years now. I finally said if I am going to be dedicated to my craft and to being the best that I can be, then this has to happen."
So, Tuck and his wife, Lauran, attended one of Robbins' "Feel the Power Within!" weekend seminars, and Robbins gave Tuck some advice about some things that may have been holding him back. Living up to the reputation of Michael Strahan as the Giants' main man on the defensive line is no small task, and if you don't approach it the right way, failure can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Robbins has worked with other notable athletes -- everyone from Wayne Gretsky to Serena Williams -- so he understands the surprising fragility of the athletic temperament.
Robbins to Youngmisuk:
"He’s a really responsible guy. He is not the kind of guy to swat that off. He feels it. He feels like he is responsible to carry things to some extent. So he fails and he’s down in that state of frustration and failure and then not feeling appreciated for what he doesn’t do. And all that gets in the way of just doing your job!"
Wed May 22 11:23am EDT
Former Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher announced on Wednesday that he has decided to retire from the NFL after 13 seasons.
"After spending a lot of time this spring thinking about my NFL future, I have made a decision to retire," Urlacher said in a statement posted on Twitter. "Although I could continue playing, I'm not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that's up to my standards. When considering this, along with the fact that I could retire after 13 year career wearing only one jersey for such a storied franchise, my decision became pretty clear.
"I want to thank all of the people in my life that have helped me along the way. I will miss my teammates, my coaches, and the great Bears fans. I'm proud to say that I gave all of you everything I had every time I took the field. I will miss this great game, but I leave it with no regrets."
Urlacher, who turns 35 on Saturday, was the ninth overall pick of the 2000 NFL draft. During his 13 seasons with the Bears, Urlacher was credited with over 1,300 tackles to go along with 41.5 sacks and 22 interceptions, including two that he returned for touchdowns. The 6-foot-4, 258-pound Urlacher was named to eight Pro Bowls, which is the third-most total in Bears' history, trailing only Mike Singeltary (10) and Walter Payton (nine). Urlacher was a five-time All-Pro and was voted the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2005.
"I'd been thinking about it for a long time," Urlacher said of his retirement during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday morning. "I gave it a couple months to make sure I wasn't going to change my mind, but it wasn't really that hard a decision."
Injuries had begun to creep up on Urlacher in recent seasons. In 2009, a wrist injury ended his season after just one game and a serious knee injury in the 2011 regular season finale caused Urlacher to miss most of last season's training camp. Urlacher missed the final four games of the 2012 season with a hamstring injury.
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 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 twice led 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 moved to safety during a 2012 season where he would miss 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.
Posted Jul 2 2012
Posted Jul 3 2012
Posted Jun 21 2012