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Be-laboring the point

Posted: Wednesday March 16, 2005 8:17PM; Updated: Wednesday March 16, 2005 9:49PM
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"We're far apart on what that player share would be, the percentage of total football revenues,'' said Aiello, who said the next negotiating session with the union has yet to be scheduled. "To date, progress has been slow.''

All of which means the issue of labor discord in the NFL might not be such ancient history after all.

Brown failed a physical before being waived

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While it has been widely reported that the Browns waived former No. 1 overall draft pick Courtney Brown this week because he refused to sufficiently downscale his contract to fit the club's salary-cap needs, an interesting and potentially relevant part of the story is that Brown failed a physical before being let go by Cleveland.

Brown, who has drawn quick interest from Washington, suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury to his left foot in Week 2 at Dallas. He underwent surgery shortly thereafter and started his rehab. He failed his year-end exit physical from Cleveland team doctors in early January, which was expected because his recovery isn't supposed to be complete until May 1.

The moral of the story is that whichever team signs Brown, they'll be getting not only a player with a history of injuries and missing games, but a player who isn't expected to be given a clean bill of health for another six weeks or so. Sounds like a rather risky move if the Redskins opt to lock up Brown.

League finds divisional realignment good for many

Despite having two 8-8 teams make the playoffs last season, with both (St. Louis and Minnesota) actually winning a game and qualifying for the divisional round, the NFL's competition committee is loving the three-year-old eight-division alignment.

Why? Because, as co-chairman Rich McKay pointed out on Wednesday, in the first three seasons of the new format, 22 of the league's 32 teams have made the playoffs (68.8 percent), and 16 different teams (50 percent) have won division titles.

Somewhere, Pete "In love with parity'' Rozelle is smiling.

Effort to penalize blindside hits a positive step

Good for the NFL to make the effort this year to rid the game of some of the blindside hits that needlessly hurt players away from the center of action on any particular play, but remain legal by current rules. The league's competition committee next week in Maui will propose to broaden the language of some rules, thereby expanding what can be considered a penalty for unnecessary roughness.

Warren Sapp's legal but cheap-shot hit of Packers offensive tackle Chad Clifton in 2002, and the low block by Denver offensive lineman George Foster on Cincinnati defensive tackle Tony Williams last year on Monday Night Football are the type of hits that the league is targeting. The league also wants to afford more protection for punters and kickers who are not directly involved in the play.

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