Archive for the ‘NFL’ Category

Approximately a month ago, I started reading articles about how the Vikings were paying attention to NC State center Garrett Bradbury. As the draft approached, it became clear that offensive line was one of the positions that the Vikings were focusing on in the first round. (The other position group was defensive line.)

Thursday night, the Vikings got the man they wanted all along when they drafted Mr. Bradbury with the 18th pick in the NFL Entry Draft. The thing that jumped out at me with Bradbury was something Coach Zimmer said in his interview with Voice of the Vikings Paul Allen. With about a minute left in this interview, Coach Zimmer talked about a conversation he had with Defensive Line Coach Andre Patterson:

Patterson was watching tape of the trio of Clemson Tiger defensive linemen that were drafted in the top half of tonight’s first round. Patterson walked into Zimmer’s office and asked who this NC State center was that was standing up to Clemson’s D-Line. That pretty much cemented the Vikings’ attitude about drafting Bradbury.

It sounds like the Vikings will now move Pat Elflein, last year’s center, out to offensive guard, then plug in Bradbury at center for the next 10 years. I’m giving this pick an A- grade, partially because he’s the best interior lineman in the draft, partially because the Vikings upgrade 2 positions with a single pick.

Tune in to LFR on Saturday morning for more updates on the Vikings draft picks.

In his open letter to the NFL, it’s pretty apparent that NBA superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar forgot to read the Constitution. In his letter, Jabbar said “In May, you implemented a childish policy about how grown men must respond to the national anthem: a player can stay in the locker room during the anthem, but if he takes the field and then protests, the team and the player can be fined. Oh, Dear Owners. You stood at the precipice of history tasked with deciding whether to choose the principles of the US Constitution over profits of commerce, patriotism over pandering, morality over mob mentality, promoting social justice over pushing beers. Sadly, you blinked. Courage, it seems, is expected only of players.”

Actually, the Constitution gives employers the right to squash free speech if that speech hurts their business. Each individual NFL franchise is worth lots of money. For instance, the Dallas Cowboys’ franchise is worth $4,800,000,000. The NFL’s TV contract is literally worth billions of dollars each year.

For that reason, these owners have the right to protect their financial interests. Abdul-Jabbar’s whining about owners choosing “the principles of the US Constitution over profits of commerce, patriotism over pandering, morality over mob mentality, promoting social justice over pushing beers” sounds like socialist blather.

The Constitution is just fine. Just because it doesn’t give you the outcome you prefer doesn’t mean it isn’t intact. The truth is that the Constitution is built on the premise that there’s constantly competing principles that have to be balanced against each other. That’s why the First Amendment doesn’t prohibit business owners from limiting their employees’ speech.

Further, this didn’t help the players’ cause:

The entire Hands Up, Don’t Shoot thing was a myth. That isn’t opinion. It’s a finding of fact. If players want to be activists, let them do it on their own time. NFL fans tune in, at least partially, to escape politics. Then, too, if the players want to use the opportunity to be activists, I’m certain that lots of fans will be willing to eliminate the NFL from their TV schedule. I’m certain because lots of them already have eliminated it from their TV priorities.

For all of Abdul-Jabbar’s high-minded talk, he apparently hasn’t figured out that free market capitalism still drives this nation.

Between Stephen Ross and Roger Goodell, the NFL have candidates to play idiots covered. First, Stephen Ross was stupid enough to tell the world that he’d suspend any player for 4 games if they didn’t stand for the National Anthem. By doing that, he made the matter a collective bargaining situation. That’s per the NFLPA-NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Next, Roger Goodell, the NFL’s spineless commissioner, decided that he’d make a difficult situation worse. He started by being spineless. Colin Kaepernick decided he wouldn’t stand during the National Anthem because he disagreed with this nation’s racial policies. Had Commissioner Goodell done the right thing right then, he would’ve implemented a new rule saying that all players would stand ruing the National Anthem. That would’ve ended things right there.

Instead, he let the problem fester, which led to the NFL’s TV ratings cratering and increased numbers of empty seats in stadiums. Commissioner Goodell should’ve sent the message that what players do away from the stadium is their business but what they do prior to the game is the NFL’s business. Commissioner Goodell gets paid almost $50,000,000 a year. The owners have a right to expect him to make intelligent business decisions. He hasn’t. He’s a disaster. He’s the most overpaid disaster in NFL history.

By now, NFL fans know that the Commissioner caved to the NFLPA, aka the NFL players’ union, over the issue of standing/kneeling for the National Anthem right before the start of each game. This joint statement summarizes things quite nicely:

It opens by saying “The NFL and the NFLPA, through recent discussions, have been working on a resolution to the anthem issue. In order to allow this constructive dialogue to continue, we have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA’s grievance and the NFL’s anthem policy. No new rules will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing.”

This wouldn’t have gotten to this point if Spineless Roger had laid down the law with the owners, then the players. First, he should’ve told Ross that there wouldn’t be suspensions of players if they didn’t stand. Then he could’ve said that deactivating players for games was acceptable. Next, with that situation fixed, Goodell could’ve told the NFLPA to pound sand because there weren’t any CBA issues to discuss.

Instead, Commissioner Goodell caved because he doesn’t understand what’s bothering the fans. This isn’t about disrespecting the military. This isn’t about the flag or the Anthem. It’s the American people collectively saying that they just want to watch a football game. They’re saying that they’d tune in FNC, CNN or MSNBC if they wanted the latest in political activism.

Just once, wouldn’t it be nice if the NFL got a simple PR matter right?

Michael Nutter is the former mayor of Philadelphia. He’s written this op-ed to defend the Philadelphia Eagles football team for not attending the customary Champions Day event at the White House. In his op-ed, Nutter quoted President Trump’s statement, which said in part “(The Eagles) disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country.”

Nutter then said “Here is where the lying begins and ends with Donald Trump — none of the Eagles took a knee during the playing of the National Anthem during last year’s regular season or playoffs.” Technically, Nutter is right. None of the Eagles took a knee a la Colin Kaepernick. Saying that they didn’t protest during the national anthem is another story.

This article proves that Eagles players protested during the Anthem. The title of the article is “Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins explains why he protested during the national anthem.” Instead of taking a knee, here’s what Malcolm Jenkins did:

Does Mayor Nutter really want to base his argument on a trivial technicality? What’s most interesting is that Jenkins didn’t deny protesting:

Last week, prior to this political firestorm, Jenkins’ explained at his locker why he started protesting during the national anthem by raising his fist, and whether he believes the initial message has been lost.
Here is what he had to say:

“I think that is why the demonstrations were in fact very effective. Here we are going into three years later and we are still having conversations about it. Even though it gets confused sometimes, it is still creating that dialogue. I think the reason that we are still talking about it is that we have yet to find a better way to do it. To create this much buzz. Nobody has provided another platform for it to have the same weight so we will continue to figure out what we have at our disposal to bring as much attention to this cause as possible. To continue to stay on message about it being about systemic racism, about our criminal justice system, about police brutality, about lack of education and economic opportunities in our community of color. We will keep repeating that. If you want to talk about the anthem and the anthem is going to bring the cameras to me, so be it.”

My first recommendation to Jenkins is to stop listening to DeMaurice Smith. He thinks like a politician. My second recommendation for Jenkins is to pull his head out of his ass and start working towards a solution. Starting conversations without a goal in mind is just wasting time. Saying ‘we want to start a conversation’ is saying ‘pay attention to us. We don’t have a solution.’ If you want to change society, prepare enough to recommend a solution or a series of solutions.

Putting a fist in the air isn’t a solution. It’s a high-profile temper tantrum. If you want to be taken seriously, do the homework. Do the research. This isn’t kids’ stuff. This is about positively impacting millions of lives who need help.

Finally, I’d recommend to Jenkins to start advocating for African-American athletes to stop giving the Democratic Party 90-95% of their vote. That’s a surefire way of guaranteeing that you’ll be taken for granted. Putting that bloc of votes up for competition increases the politicians’ accountability.

Prior to the Vikings signing Kirk Cousins, I wasn’t totally sold on him. From a skills standpoint, I thought he was better than Teddy Bridgewater and significantly better than Case Keenum. After watching his introductory press conference, though, and watching film of Cousins, I’m totally thrilled he’s the Vikings’ QB for the near future.

What’s most obvious is the fact that he’s a leader. Questioning whether he’ll be the face of the franchise shouldn’t take much time. He’s straight from central casting. Vikings GM Rick Spielman perhaps put it best when he said “I spent two-and-a-half hours with him and his family and then got a chance to meet his parents last night before we went to dinner, spent some time with them, and you knew right off the bat. I didn’t need to spend two-and-a-half hours; I needed to spend 10 minutes with him and his family to know what they mean, what they’re about and what’s important to them – and it’s everything that checks the box here with the Minnesota Vikings.”

From an arm talent standpoint, Cousins is high quality. From an intangibles standpoint, he’s outstanding. Watch this video of Thursday’s introductory press conference at TCO Performance Center and you’ll see what I mean:

Something that jumped out for me was that Cousins said he’d met a bunch of Vikings at the Pro Bowl after the 2016 season and that he immediately knew that they were genuinely a tight-nit group. He said all 32 teams talk a good game that way but that the Vikings immediately showed that it wasn’t talk. The impression I got from Thursday’s press conference is that this guy is CEO smooth and he can’t wait to put in the hours to become this team’s leader.

As for the people who’ve highlighted Cousins’ record as a starter, that’s the past and it’s irrelevant. This guy is the definition of a leader. Keenum knew how to maximize his performance despite his less-than-impressive arm talent. Cousins’ arm talent is light years better than Keenum’s. Cousins can drive the ball down the field with velocity whereas Case Keenum had to put everything he had into his deep throws.

Mentality-wise, Cousins plays with a chip on his shoulder because he’s been underestimated all his life. He was drafted in the 4th round in 2012, the year when Andrew Luck, RG III were the first 2 picks and Russell Wilson was drafted in the third round. In fact, he and RG III were picked by the Redskins. RG III was an instant celebrity whereas Cousins went to work learning the playbook. Now RG III’s career is virtually over and Cousins just signed the richest contract in NFL history.

I have no doubt that Mr. Cousins will be the impressive face of the Vikings franchise for years to come.

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Last year, the Vikings got shredded in the NFC Championship Game by the now-world championship Philadelphia Eagles, finishing the season 13-3 while handily winning the NFC North. On the plus side, they finished far better than the Sporting News predicted. They predicted that Detroit and Green Bay would both finish 11-5, with the Vikings finishing 8-8 and the Bears finishing 3-13. predicted that the Lions would win the NFC North. It wasn’t just that they predicted this outcome.

It’s what they didn’t say, writing “Admittedly, this is a tough sell. Predicting the Lions will win a division they haven’t ever won (the NFC North was formed in 2002) already feels shaky after two sentences. Yet, there are reasons to think Detroit could pull off beating out Green Bay for the top spot. Start with addition by subtraction, as the Lions signed former Packer guard T.J. Lang in free agency. General manager Bob Quinn further bolstered the offensive line by adding tackle Ricky Wagner. Each should help running back Ameer Abdullah stay on course. Abdullah merely needs to stay healthy. This team was on its way toward winning the NFC North last year until Matthew Stafford injured his middle finger. How many teams can survive their starter hurting his throwing hand in the midst of a playoff run? No major injuries and no Hail Marys might mean an end to the days of merely sneaking into the postseason.”

They didn’t even mention the Vikings. (That’s the definition of a snub.)

Going into the 2018 season, everyone will have their eyes on the Vikings. Kirk Cousins is their starting QB. For the first time in his career, he’ll play behind a rock-solid O-Line. For the first time in his career, he’ll have a plethora of weapons to attack with. Never has he had the opportunity to throw to Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph and Dalvin Cook. Never has he had a running game featuring Dalvin Cook.

With this collection of weapons, though, comes high expectations. Winning the NFC North is a worthy goal but it isn’t the only expectation. Paying $84,000,000 guaranteed over 3 years gives the Vikings the reasonable expectation of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at least once in those 3 years.

I’m proud to state that I won’t watch tonight’s Super Bowl. I won’t watch because the NFL is attempting to get back in the good graces with the average fan by putting on big displays featuring the military. Apparently, the PR meisters told Commissioner Goodell that the NFL’s ratings drop is tied to the disrespect shown to police officers, the military and the average working joe.

At this point, I’ll emphatically state that Commissioner Goodell is the most tone-deaf commissioner of a major sporting league that I’ve ever seen. How could he have gotten the Ray Rice and Charles Johnson rulings that badly wrong? Those are decisions that the average eighth grader would’ve gotten right. Further, what commissioner would’ve gotten things so badly wrong with the kneel-down protests of the National Anthem?

The NFL owners can’t be too bright if they agreed to a lucrative contract extension for Commissioner Goodell. What has he done that a dozen other people couldn’t have done better? Wouldn’t Condi Rice make a better NFL Commissioner? I’d predict she’d be light years better than Commissioner Goodell in terms of PR.

Part of the reason why I won’t watch tonight’s Super Bowl is because I refuse to watch another Bill Bellicheat-coached team in the Super Bowl. Anyone that thinks that any of New England’s Super Bowl-winning teams is better than the worst of Bill Walsh’s Super Bowl winning teams is delusional. Imagine how many thousands of yards Jerry Rice would’ve accumulated had he played with the defenseless receiver rules they have now. On the flip side of that, imagine the match-up between Gronk and Ronnie Lott or the match-up between Dion Sanders and whoever the Patriots’ top wide receiver was.

The great thing about being a Vikings fan is that I don’t have to put up with the stupid things that Marshawn Lynch, Colin Kaepernick or Michael Bennett have done. The Mike Zimmer-Rick Spielman Vikings are old school. They played poorly in the NFC Championship Game but they consistently play the game right. Last year, a script was flipped this season in the NFC North. Going into this season, there’s no reason to think that the Vikings aren’t the pre-season favorite to repeat as NFC North Champions.

I’d rather wait until the Vikings are playing the final game of the season. It isn’t a stretch to think that might not be more than a year away.

While I’m boycotting the Super Bowl, I’m applauding 2 of this year’s NFL HoF class: Randy Moss and Ray Lewis. Both of these gentlemen are iconic players that transformed the league. These are some highlights from Randy Moss’s coming out party on Monday Night Football in Milwaukee:

As for Ray Lewis, he was the leader of the Ravens team. It wasn’t that he was the leader of their defense, which he was. It was that he was Baltimore’s leader. When Ray Lewis was playing, every Baltimore player had to play up to Ray Lewis’ expectations.

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It’s clear that the NFL hasn’t figured its customers out yet. That’s because the “NFL said on Friday it has no plans to mandate players stand for the U.S. national anthem, but will rather present a possible solution on how to end the controversial protests when it meets with team owners next week.”

During a conference call, NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said “(Goodell) has a plan that he is going to present to owners about how to use our platform to both raise awareness and make progress on issues of social justice and equality in this country. What we don’t have is a proposal that changes our policy, we don’t have something that mandates anything. That’s clear. If that was the case I doubt the head of the NFLPA would have put a joint statement out with us.”

What’s clear is that the NFL and NFLPA have morphed into activist organizations aligned with the DNC. They aren’t seen as sports league as much as they’re seen as political activists. That’s why the NFL’s TV ratings continue to stumble and NFL attendance is underperforming. Ed Morrissey got it right when he said “NFL fans expect Sunday football to be an escape from the politicization of all things.” These protests got identified as partisan displays when this happened:

Quite frankly, the NFL’s PR team stinks. They haven’t even identified the things that their customers demand. That tin-eared approach is killing them. For all their insults of President Trump, they’re rank amateurs compared with him in identifying with the NFL’s fans. President Trump gets it. Commissioner Goodell doesn’t. DeMaurice Smith hasn’t figured it out either.

Since the NFL’s anti-Trump protests, the NFL has deployed several too-clever-by-half strategies. The NFL also issued a statement that suggested that NFL players would stand during the National Anthem:

Goodell made it clear in the letter, obtained by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, that he wants players to stand during the anthem. He did not provide specifics on how he intends to ensure it, but he wrote that it would “include such elements as an in-season platform to promote the work of our players on these core issues.”

It’s clear that Commissioner Goodell’s memo was a PR stunt aimed at getting this issue off the front page.

It’s doubtful that the NFL, especially this commissioner, will ever figure out their fans.

This article is filled with misinformation. That isn’t surprising considering the fact that it quotes Tony Covington, the NAACP’s Senior Director of Corporate Affairs. In the article, Covington is quoted as saying “Jerry Jones’ comments are more than tone-deaf, more than misinformed and misguided – they are a public commitment by an NFL owner to violate his players’ Constitutional right to free speech, one of the principles on which our nation was founded. They are proof that athletes like Colin Kaepernick who have quietly and peacefully used their platform to protest violence against communities of color do so at their own peril.”

Actually, that’s one of the myths that keeps popping up in articles. (I wish these reporters did their homework.) This article sets things straight, quoting Daniel Schwartz, employment law partner at Shipman & Goodwin, as saying “As a general rule, the First Amendment doesn’t apply to the private workplace.” Later, he adds that “the First Amendment prevents government, but not companies or individuals, from limiting free speech.”

It’s indisputable that the players’ sideline protests have hurt NFL attendance and TV ratings. Team owners, like Jerry Jones, have the right to protect their investment. When their employees’ actions hurt their profitability, the owner has the right to install a code of conduct for his employees with the stipulation that it’s applied equally to each employee.

This article outlines what’s permitted and what isn’t:

Here’s what Baruch had to say (his comments have been edited and condensed for clarity):

1. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Sunday that any player who disrespects the flag won’t play in Cowboys games. What are the legal ramifications to a statement like that?
Probably none. He’s a private employer so he’s free to make any rules he wants that infringe on free speech. He’s totally unconstrained legally.

That definitely isn’t the answer the NAACP wanted to hear, though it’s the answer they probably already knew.

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Two weekends ago, players, coaches and owners locked arms in their fight against President Trump, certain that they’d show President Trump who the king of the proverbial jungle was. According to this article, stadiums “across the US and even further afield became the focus of an unprecedented show of defiance against US President Donald Trump Sunday, as some NFL players locked arms or refused to stand for the national anthem, saying that they are protesting racial and social injustice. Players from all 28 teams in the league that played Sunday participated in some form of protest. Some teams declined to take the field at all for the pre-game ceremonies.”

This afternoon, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell essentially cried uncle, admitting that President Trump was right. In the article, ESPN’s Kevin Seifert wrote that the “NFL has developed a plan to “move past” its ongoing debate about player protests during the national anthem and could enact it next week, commissioner Roger Goodell wrote Tuesday in a letter to all 32 teams. Goodell made it clear in the letter, obtained by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, that he wants players to stand during the anthem. He did not provide specifics on how he intends to ensure it, but he wrote that it would ‘include such elements as an in-season platform to promote the work of our players on these core issues.'”

Here’s a copy o Commissioner Goodell’s letter to the owners:

It was inevitable that Trump would win. It was just a matter of time.

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