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Posted: Monday May 25, 2009 12:54AM; Updated: Monday May 25, 2009 4:10PM
Peter King Peter King >

MMQB (cont.)

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Terrell Owens has demonstrated a penchant for playing well (and keeping relatively quiet) in his first year with a new team.

At issue is the core principle of the NFL program -- that a player is responsible for what goes in his body, and if anything is ingested that's on the NFL list of banned substances, regardless of who knew about it and when they knew about it, the positive test is the fault of the player. Pat Williams, though, believes that because league doctor John Lombardo had full knowledge of the banned substance bumetanide in StarCaps, the players will be found innocent.

"I feel good about our chances,'' he told Howard Balzer and Alex Marvez on Sirius NFL Radio on Saturday. "It's in God's hands.''

I understand the asterisk here, and I'm sure the NFL and Lombardo will behave differently about tainted-supplement knowledge going forward, but I can't see the players winning this case.

Michael Vick's chance to succeed is due to how the game has changed in the last three years. I'll detail some good X-and-O stuff about Vick's future in Tuesday's column. But here's a preview: My little panel of experts -- former quarterbacks and current coaches -- think the way the game has changed actually helps Vick ... assuming he's still the energetic, frenetic presence he was when he last played in 2006.

"Teams are playing the spread more, and playing things like the Wildcat more, running more gimmicky plays,'' said Trent Green, the longtime quarterback trying to get signed somewhere. "If anything, the game's gotten faster since Mike left. If he's still the same player, that could play into his hands.''

IF he's still the same player. Pretty big if.

This sounds familiar. In San Francisco, Jeff Garcia couldn't throw the ball deep enough and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp didn't appreciate Terrell Owens' talent. In Philadelphia, Owens wished Brett Favre and not Donovan McNabb was his quarterback, and he instructed coordinator Brad Childress not to speak to him anymore. And now, Owens has Tweeted some true feelings about the end of his time with the Cowboys, answering sentiment from a fan who was not happy to see T.O. leave Big D. The Twittered response from Owens: "Neither ws i, blame the OC & romo!! but i'm happy 2 b where i am but i miss the other guys tht were & r true teammates!!''

My response to that response: B afrd Trnt Edwrds and Trk Schnert. B vry afrd.

Josh Cribbs needs to get paid. Dangerous business getting involved in these financial tete-a-tetes. Here's the problem with Cribbs' holdout, as I see it. He's one of the six or eight most valuable players on the Browns, but he's being paid like the 20th. The new administration hasn't seen him enough yet to know that.

In 2006, Cribbs signed a seven-year contract extension with a $2 million signing bonus and salaries of less than a million a year a year for the life of the deal. In the first three years of the deal, he's made $3.4 million. In the next three years, he's slated to make $620,000, $635,000 and $650,000, with escalators each year that could push the contract closer to $1 million annually.

Let's say you've got the best special-teamer in football, which is what I consider Cribbs. By any measure, I don't think the following can be argued. He is the best two-way --punt/kickoff -- return man in the game, without question.

(Two years among players with at least 40 kickoff returns and 25 punt returns, he was the best all-around returner in the game, first in kickoffs and third in punts. Last year, he slipped to 10th and eighth, respectively. But the only player in football in either year who also was in the top 10 in both categories was Carolina's Mark Jones last year. Plus, Cribbs is the best pursuit man on Browns special teams by far, leading the team with 70 special-teams tackles over the past four years. Clearly, Cribbs is special. He brings a spirit and exuberance to the team, and plays the game the right way.)

When you have a player as important as Cribbs is to the organization, you want to treat him right and show the rest of the team that you're paid on merit, not just based on the loftiness of where you were drafted. Normally, I don't think playing three years of a seven-year deal is enough to merit a re-do, but given Cribbs' output, it seems like the right thing to do.

Clarifying one thing about the Red Zone Channel on Comcast. Last week I said the league's smart deal with the cable giant would put the Red Zone Channel (the one that jumps from game to game on Sundays, showing scoring opportunities) on Comcast's digital tier. No so, most likely.

Other cable outfits who make deals to put NFL Network on their digital cable tiers will probably place Red Zone on a pay tier similar to the one the league argued the NFL Network shouldn't be on. The reason is because the Red Zone Channel is added value, not something the league wanted to give Big Cable as part of the deal to make the Network more widely distributed on the regular digital tier. So if you've got Comcast and you want this premium channel, you'll likely have to pay an additional $7 or so per month to get it, which, over a four-month term, is probably a reasonable cost if you're an NFL devotee who loves immediacy and can't wait for the halftime or post-game highlights

Stupid me. You readers are correct: I omitted a shout-out to all veterans of this special day in the original publishing of this column. Memorial Day is a day we should all give thanks to everyone who died serving our country. Pardon me for the glaring omission, and thanks to all past and present service people for keeping us free.

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