It evolved from a 20-page report that had no readership. Terry O'Neil was entering his fourth year as the Saints' salary cap consultant when, in the wake of the dismissal of coach Mike Ditka last January, he got the ax. O'Neil was left with a ring binder full of research and recommendations on how to operate under the NFL cap, and plenty of time to mull his future. Scanning the Internet, O'Neil had an epiphany: "I knew more than anything I read on the Web. I thought, There must be a market for this."
So on Sept. 1 O'Neil launched realnfl.com. O'Neil writes a column five times a week, including Mondays, when he offers insightful postmortems in his "What We Saw Yesterday" feature. But his best work comes in his detailed evaluations of every franchise's talent and prospects. His two-part assessment of the Cowboys resembled an annual report. Using a table, O'Neal showed that Dallas might have a whopping $20.3 million in "dead money"—cash available under the salary cap for next season—if it doesn't resign a slew of veterans, including Emmitt Smith (number 22 above, $8.2 million salary) and cornerback Kevin Smith ($3.2 million). Another section, " NFL's 20 Worst Injuries," updated four times daily, is the most informative such report available on the Web. On Wednesdays veteran statistical maven Bud Goode employs his 17-variable formula to predict the winners and the margins of the coming weekend's games.
The sheer density of information tempts you to log off. O'Neil might take that as a compliment.