Monday Morning QB (cont.)
Posted: Monday May 21, 2007 12:03AM; Updated: Monday May 21, 2007 12:43PM
First: It is late May, and none of us who have covered the NFL have seen the Hot Stove hotter at this time of year. Everywhere you turn -- from the bad news (Mike Vick, Pacman, Tank Johnson) to the wheeling-dealing news (Randy Moss) to the innovative (17-game schedule, Friday Night Draft, European football, Chinese football) -- there's an NFL story in the hopper. Twenty years ago, after the draft, all the writers and execs waved to each other and said, "See you in camp in July.'' No more.
Second: By virtue of the floated stories, Goodell gets to read the tea leaves from the NFL machine. Players, coaches, GMs, the media and fans can respond and react, something that often didn't start until after meetings like the spring session the league will convene Tuesday in Nashville. (The awarding of Super Bowl XLV, on Feb. 6, 2011, is likely to be done in Nashville, with Glendale, Ariz., Dallas and Indianapolis the prime candidates. That'll be the big news, but also expect lots of the tangential ideas to be vetted there too.)
Third: Goodell is doing what he promised owners he'd do when he was quietly pushing for the job a year ago. He stressed three things in the search process -- keeping the game strong, keeping all 32 franchises competitive, and making sure everyone in the league was focused on the innovations that would keep the league one of the strongest entertainment entities in the world.
The way I see it, Goodell has blown only one thing so far. He committed to playing a preseason game in China this summer, then had to abruptly postpone it for two years when the organization demands of the Wembley game became too great. Bob Kraft, the China-conscious owner of the Patriots, was not pleased. Nor were some influential Chinese media and business leaders who have been waiting for the NFL to join the NBA and major-league baseball as aggressive suitors to the Far East market.
I like Goodell's leadership. It encourages new thought. Now he's just got to make sure he respects the game first and foremost. Having been around him for good chunks of time the last two decades, I don't think that's much of a concern.
Stat of the Week
This is how idiotic the trend toward re-doing perfectly good contracts is getting.
Fourteen months ago, New York Jets guard Pete Kendall, a serviceable but not Pro Bowl guard, renegotiated his contract into a four-year deal, through 2009. The Jets gave him a $3.9 million signing bonus and salaries of $1.3 million, $1.7 million, $2 million and $2.4 million. That's four years and $11.3 million.
A few months after earning the last of the $5.2 million his first year called for in salary and bonus, Kendall wants a new contract because of the insane money guards got in the free-agent market this offseason.
Let's extrapolate. The salary cap has gone up $24 million over the last two years. If all the players who signed four-year contracts in the last two years suddenly felt they were grossly underpaid, and said they weren't playing football again until their contract was fixed, what do you think would happen? I'll tell you what: There'd be 250 players skipping mini-camps and offseason programs right now, and there'd be a job-action crisis unlike any we've seen in this league in years.
Oh, and one other thing: Kendall will be 34 in July.
Some contract causes are just. Kendall's is insane.
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