"I appreciate the enthusiasm for it and I hear it from the fans consistently. People want more football. I think they want less preseason and more regular season and that's the concept we are talking about here. We wouldn't add an extra two games without reducing the preseason and we are not going to do it without the players' support, so we did that in the collective bargaining agreement instead of having the unilateral right, which we had. We determined that we were going to do this together. We are going to make changes in the offseason and during the preseason and during the regular season to make the game safer. If we can accomplish that we'll look at the idea of restructuring the season and taking two preseason games away and the potential of adding regular season games, but I don't think that will happen until at least 2013 or 14."
-- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, on ESPN radio in New York, via sportsradiointerviews.com.
Unless there have been some double-secret-probation meetings between the commissioner and leadership of the NFLPA, I am missing something here. Just who exactly is the commissioner hearing from "constantly?'' And if you're out there, I'd love to hear from you.
There is no good reason to subject NFL players to two more games that count. The only reason is greed. The idea of an equal exchange -- two regular season games in, two preseason games out -- between games that don't count and those that do is folly. On average, veteran players play between four and six quarters in the preseason, and some not that much. On average, veteran players play all of a regular season game. So to say the four series a veteran would play in the preseason (at less intensity, for the most part) is equivalent in any way to a regular season game is misleading at best. I've asked fans, by Twitter poll, if they'd like to see 18 regular season games, and the overwhelming answer was no.
I am heartened that Goodell prefaced his answer here with "if we can accomplish'' making the game safer, then he'll look at the 18-game regular season. But my proposal would be that if the NFL can somehow make the game safer, then keep the game safer -- and don't add two more legitimate opportunities for a slew of players to get hurt.
"I had a handful of friends coming to me at our [wedding] reception say, 'Who's that guy?' I was, like, 'Oh, that's my super-agent. That's the biggest agent in the sports world.' And they're, like, 'Wow, he's the drunkest guy at the party.' ''
-- Drew Bledsoe, talking to Armen Keteyian of HBO Sports, on agent Leigh Steinberg, whose crash-and-burn life is detailed in an "HBO Real Sports'' story this week.
"It's a dream come true. I can tell a quick story. I grew up in a small town in Alabama. I used to skip school back when the draft was held on a Monday and I would ... watch the draft. So personally to go from -- let's call it, seventh or eighth grade skipping school to watch the draft -- to be sitting in this chair, to be a steward of this organization ... that's a personal goal that is I guess one of 32.''
-- New St. Louis GM Les Snead, after being introduced last week as the successor to Billy Devaney running the Rams.
"I wouldn't change anything about it. You put yourself in a position of power and you put yourself out there and you want to go out there and want to be great and we had the opportunity and almost pulled it off ... The year that we went 10-6, people say you're too young, but we just went out and won. This year , we didn't have some of that same fortune. Some of those games [in 2010] we won by three, some of those games Josh pulled off fourth-quarter comebacks, they didn't play in our favor this year. For whatever reason, it just didn't work out that way.''
-- Raheem Morris, fired as Tampa Bay coach after the Bucs ended the season with a 10-game losing streak, on WDAE in Tampa, via sportsradiointerviews.com.
Sometimes, I understand when former coaches are interviewed about their former place of business and they don't want to say much of anything controversial, or of substance. That sounded like Morris on WDAE when I saw the transcript of this interview. But to suggest that "for whatever reason'' these narrow wins just didn't quite happen, and only the football fates know why, is patently absurd.
The Bucs collapsed because Morris' defense collapsed horribly, and because the team lacked discipline. Period.
Points allowed by Bucs, final eight games of 2010: 16, 0, 17, 28, 16, 23, 15, 13.
Points allowed by Bucs, final eight games of 2011: 37, 35, 23, 38, 41, 31, 48, 45.
Point differential, final eight games, 2010: plus-56.
Point differential, final eight games, 2011: minus-158.
It'd be refreshing, and accurate, if Morris is going to speak publicly about what happened last year that he take the blame for a promising team hitting the skids. "I wouldn't change anything about it?'' Sheesh. I'd think long and hard if I were an owner about ever giving Morris a second chance to be a head coach.
|Salary Cap Space|
Six teams have more than $40 million in cap room available entering the start of the league year three weeks from now. The richest squads are listed to the right.
What's the one position five of those teams -- all but Cincinnati -- have in common? A need at receiver (considering Dwayne Bowe, if the Chiefs lose him, will leave a hole at wideout for Kansas City). Which is good for a restricted free agent like Mike Wallace, who could get an offer the Steelers won't be able to match because of their cap problems this winter, and for unrestricted free agents like Vincent Jackson, Stevie Johnson, Brandon Lloyd and maybe an under-the-radar guy like Robert Meachem of the Saints. I don't expect Wes Welker to leave New England, but if he does, that'll add to the free-agent mayhem.
Having said that about Welker, if I'm Bucs GM Mark Dominik, Welker agent David Dunn is my first phone call out of the box on March 13. Welker's just what Josh Freeman needs.
But I wouldn't be surprised if the Bucs and Chiefs each steer clear of Welker. Something Bill Parcells passed down to Bill Belichick about steering clear of each other's free agents; Parcells needed a kicker in Dallas when Adam Vinatieri was free, but he wouldn't touch him. I'm not sure about it, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Scott Pioli and Belichick disciple Greg Schiano take a hands-off approach with Welker.
Four teams -- the Giants, Raiders, Steelers and Panthers -- were over the league's projected $120.4 million salary cap at the close of league business Thursday. They have until 4 p.m. March 13 to get under, and all of them certainly will. Oakland and Carolina, though? Not exactly coming from a position of strength, having to cut away with definite needs. Reggie McKenzie and Marty Hurney, the pressure's on.
Found myself on a Delta flight from Newark to Atlanta Saturday, and the bouncy, incredibly happy flight attendant greeted everyone with a huge hello or welcome as we boarded the full flight. Turns out it was her 50th birthday, and everyone cheered for her midway through the flight. She had a way about her of telling the idiots who don't obey the rule on planes to wise up, as in what she said when the door was closed and the plane taxiing to the runway. "All you with those iPads still working now, you know, I have three grandbabies who would just love an iPad, and if those are still on when I come back down the aisle, well, they're going to be very nice gifts for the kiddies!''
I assume she's been a flight attendant for years; she had all the PA speeches and the galley stuff down pat. I'm always so impressed with people who do their jobs for a long time and still seem to love them.
"No words. Absolutely no words. This is my school. This is Penn State. RT @DailyCollegian THE #THON12 TOTAL IS $10,686,924.83.''
--@juliakern, Penn State sophomore Julia Kern, after students at the school raised $10.6 million, $1.1 million more than last year, in a dance marathon over the weekend for pediatric cancer.
Incredible job by a student base, raising more money than ever after the child-abuse scandal that roiled the campus in the fall.