Tuesday, March 24, 2015

2 comments MMQB Review: Interview with the NFL Vampire Edition

We still have one open spot in the fantasy baseball league and if anyone wants to join then send me an email to bengoodfella@yahoo.com and I will send you an invite. That will put the league at 10 people and I think that's a good number for this year.

Peter King discussed Darrelle Revis signing with the New York Jets in last week's MMQB. Peter also included a travel note that someone else experienced, and it is always pleasant and fun to read about someone else's experiences third-hand, specifically when the reader doesn't know that person at all. Peter thinks this is one of the zaniest offseasons that he can recall, which if I recall correctly, is something he seems to say every NFL offseason. This week Peter talks with Roger Goodell, shocks us with the conclusion out of work NFL players may be out of work for a reason, and talks briefly about Chris Borland's decision to retire. The real gem is Peter's conversation with Roger Goodell where Goodell reveals absolutely nothing. Of course, since Goodell is ALWAYS open to speaking to the media (as he claimed at the Super Bowl) then I wouldn't expect Goodell to say anything new and an interview with Goodell isn't really a big deal. Right? I mean, Goodell is ALWAYS available to talk with the media, so anything Goodell would say to Peter King is just stuff the public has heard before. He's such an available guy.

Roger Goodell’s season from Hades is over, and don’t expect him to share many memories of the nightmare. I tried the other day, and got nowhere.

Roger Goodell on January 30, 2015.

"I'm available to the media almost every day of my job professionally."

So he became available, good for him. But he won't reveal anything to the media, you know, like he seems to expect Marshawn Lynch to reveal when meeting with the media because:

“When you’re in the NFL, you have an obligation, an obligation to the fans. It is part of your job, and there are things in all of our jobs that we have to do that we don’t necessarily want to do.”

Fortunately, Goodell is in a position where the rules he makes don't apply to him. What a country!

In a 75-minute interview with The MMQB in his Park Avenue office in New York, Goodell seemed at ease and not wounded by the raging torrent of criticism that hounded him from the time he made his decision last July to suspend Baltimore running back Ray Rice for two games for knocking his wife unconscious in a New Jersey elevator. If he is wounded—and how can he not be—he’s not saying.

Why would Roger Goodell be wounded by the criticism? To be wounded would be to assume that Goodell (a) cares what anyone thinks about him or (b) is self-aware enough to understand that his decisions aren't sent down by tablet from God himself and that he very well could be fallible. Goodell hasn't shown that either assumption can be seen as a true characteristic he possesses. 

Asked what his hopes are for 2015, Goodell said: “To some extent it’s that the things that we’re doing are working.

But Goodell is savvy enough to know there’s been damage to the league office, and a lot of it, and he’s going to have to have a damn good 2015 to restore faith in the league—and in him. “We have to meet the expectation of our fans,’’ he said. “They deserve it. We have to show them that their faith and trust in us is well placed.”

Ah yes, the use of "us" and "we" when it's Roger Goodell that many fans lack faith in and he is the one who needs to meet the expectations of the fans. Goodell accepts that salary to be the commissioner, but when things go wrong and the perception of his decisions isn't good, all of a sudden it's a team effort to fix them. 

I’m going to run an edited transcript of Goodell’s remarks to me on Page 2 of the column. But first, a Cliff’s Notes version of the notable things from our conversation:

Goodell is available almost every day to the media, so I'm sure this is all stuff we've heard before.

On whether he ever considered resigning last year: “No. N-O. No.”

Because Goodell would voluntarily give up earning multi-millions and in the process thereby subjugating his ego and admitting he was wrong. Where's the fun in that?

Goodell said he thinks league-hired investigator Ted Wells “is getting near the end” of his probe into the inflation levels of footballs in the AFC Championship Game, a story that’s hung over the Patriots and the league for the past nine weeks.

No really, have him take his time. At this point, few people probably care what Wells finds out and that's probably Goodell's intent anyway.

One storyline during the deflated-balls saga was that the league was trying to catch the Patriots in the act of using the balls, and suspected prior to the AFC title game that the team was taking air out of the footballs before using them in games. Countered Goodell: “I was not personally aware of it until after the game.”

Based on the past year's worth of information about what Goodell claims to know and not know, it seems like Goodell really isn't informed about what's going on in the NFL. It could cause a more jaded person to wonder if Goodell is really that clueless about ongoing NFL investigations and whether a better commissioner would make himself more aware and thereby more accountable. But hey, Goodell can't be accountable if he doesn't possess the required information to be accountable, right?

The NFL is “looking at more games” in 2016 in Europe than the three scheduled in 2015, he said.

Of course the NFL is looking at more games in Europe. Because by golly, if those damn Europeans don't like American football then they'll be forced to like the sport, all in the name of "expansion" and increased profits for the NFL. Sure, NFL ticket holders will lose a few home games, but that's just a small price to pay for the NFL making as much money as possible. It's all in the best interests of the fans...of course.

Goodell said he’s “not concerned” with Jameis Winston, the possible first pick in the draft, staying home in Alabama with his family on draft night instead of being at the draft.

Oh good, so Winston has permission from Roger Goodell to be with his family on draft night. I'm sure Winston will sleep better knowing he has Roger's full go-ahead to spend the draft with his family.

The MMQB: What’s the lesson you take from easily your most trying year as commissioner?
Goodell: I don’t know if you could put one or two … One of the things we always focus on is,

Uh-oh, things are going wrong so here comes the use of "we" because the team is wrong, it's not just Roger Goodell who is wrong. Writers like Bill Simmons use "we" when he's wrong, but it's good to see a person like Roger Goodell buy into the team atmosphere in order to shirk responsibility from himself on to "the team" when decisions made by the NFL are wrong as well. Nothing makes a person buy into "we" and the team concept like a wrong or bad decision having been made. I wonder if "we" all have their name on Roger's paycheck?

By the way, Roger's answer contains 10 "we's" and 1 "we're."

Two, in this case, at least in the personal conduct area, we were too reliant on law enforcement. We were completely reliant on law enforcement. We can’t be in this circumstance, because our criminal justice system has to make different types of decisions on different standards. We have to have personal conduct that represents the standards in the NFL.

The NFL did have a personal conduct that represents the standards in the NFL. It's just the public thought these standards were too low, so Roger Goodell had to scramble during the Ray Rice situation in order to pretend the NFL really had higher standards, and he just didn't have enough information to make an informed decision prior to making a decision.

The MMQB: What would you say in 2014 was your low point?

Goodell: I don’t know. I wouldn’t. I haven’t even thought about that.

As I said previously, this would require self-awareness, as well as some sense of reflection. There's no need for Roger Goodell to engage in either tactic because that would be admitting he perhaps he's made a mistake that requires self-awareness or reflection to correct and he isn't willing to do that.

The MMQB: You had a few of them. 
Goodell: I just said, I haven’t thought about that.

Hey, let's not get snippy there buddy. I know you have given this information out many times before because you are SO available to the media, but try to have patience when Peter is asking a semi-tough question (which is generally against his nature).

I think when you’re doing this job, you’ve got to do this job and you take highs and lows and you work to address them as quickly as possible and as thoroughly as possible.

So Peter said it had been nine weeks since Ted Wells started looking into the improperly inflated footballs that the Patriots may or may not have been using?

The MMQB: How difficult was it personally on you?

Goodell: We’re sorry we got to the place we got to [and] the way we got to it, but that is something that we now can look back at and build on. … We’re actually starting to see it. People are saying, “People should adopt the personal conduct policy of the NFL in other institutions and other industries.” That’s rewarding to some extent.

I've heard no one say this when this statement wasn't then followed by laughter, as it is clearly a joke designed to poke fun at the NFL.

The MMQB: Did you use anybody in 2014 as what you would call a sounding board, an advisor, to help you through the tough times? 

Goodell: … Well, one of the good things about having those is that you don’t tell people who they are, because then they aren’t quite as open … I think that’s how you develop relationships that are valuable.

It was Tony Dungy, wasn't it?

I don't know if Peter is salty because he is bitter for the whole report he screwed up this summer about Ray Rice and the conversation that went on between Rice, Janay Rice and Roger Goodell, but he does ask Goodell tougher questions when he feels Goodell is saying nothing. Goodell says nothing often.

The MMQB: Speaking of investigations, we’re at the two-month anniversary of the AFC Championship Game and the investigation into allegations that the Patriots deflated the football or footballs in that game. How much thought did you give that you needed to get it resolved so it’s not hanging over the league? It seems like it’s been hanging over the league for two months. Was there any thought in your mind to try to get it resolved that week so that it didn’t mar anything associated with the Super Bowl?
Goodell: No. I think the most important thing is to get the right information, to get the facts and to get the truth. And not to make any judgments until you get that. We have been very careful on that.

The MMQB: Any indication when that will be?

Goodell: I haven’t spoken to him for several weeks. I think he’s getting near the end, but there’s no requirement when. …

So there's no requirement when Ted Wells has to actually give the report to the NFL? That's great because it creates an environment of accountability in that the commissioner doesn't seem to have a clue what's going on and he doesn't care when he gets clued in. What Goodell isn't told yet can't hurt him, right?

The MMQB: Is two months to investigate that too long?

Goodell: Again, I think that if you’re going to be thorough, it takes time. You’re having to meet with a lot of people. I guess it’s always too long, because you want to get to that issue and deal with it. It’s important not to exert any pressure to short-circuit or do anything other than be fair and transparent.

Yes, be transparent. It's very important. Did Roger Goodell say this as he destroyed Spygate tapes or was he closing his eyes pretending he didn't see the Ray Rice tape when he spoke about transparency?

The MMQB: Can you say that the first time that you heard about this was after the game?

Goodell: Yes.

Goodell can say it. Who knows if it's the truth?

The MMQB: You know that there’s a storyline out there that you knew about the deflating and wanted to catch them in the act.

Goodell: Let’s just short circuit this a little bit. I’m not going to get into what we knew and when we knew it because that’s part of what he’s investigating. … I can tell you that I was not personally aware of it until after the game.

You know, for a powerful man Roger Goodell sure doesn't know a hell of a lot of things the commissioner of the NFL should know before they happen.

What's interesting is that Goodell will talk about how he has no knowledge of an event that is seen as a negative for the NFL, but he's quick to point out how he's very proactive and full of information in situations where it makes him look good. In situations where the NFL doesn't look so good, Goodell is kept in the dark.

The MMQB: Do you get involved much with things like that with the competition committee?

Goodell: I just spent 45 minutes on the phone with [competition committee co-chair] Jeff Fisher last night. I talk with Rich McKay or other committee members, John Mara. …  I’m meeting with them in advance of Sunday.

Roger Goodell is going to meet with the competition committee IN ADVANCE of their meeting to ensure they can talk about what is and what is not a catch. Roger Goodell is dedicated to making sure everyone knows what is and is not a catch. Did the Patriots deflate footballs and affect the fair competition of the game? Fuck if he knows. He's just waiting for someone to give him some information about that subject.

The MMQB: Is it logical to think that you would propose an 18-game schedule at any point in the near future?
Goodell: I think it’s one of those things that we’ll continue to evaluate the season structure. … The real short-term focus is on the quality of the preseason. Do we need four preseason games anymore—for competitive reasons or any other reason? And I think that there’s a growing sentiment that you don’t.

It's not a growing sentiment at this point. That sentiment has already grown up, is about to graduate college and is looking for a full-time job.

But can you get this done and can you do it in two or three games? I think that people are more comfortable with three. So do we need that? Okay, that’s one part of the schedule. The rest is the regular season and the rest is the postseason. So I think all of these are interrelated. You have to evaluate all of them. We haven’t spent a lot of time on 18 games in the last couple of years.

It's interesting how much information and research Goodell puts into ideas like the 18 game schedule and what is a catch, while Peter gets short answers as it pertains to questions about deflated footballs and any mistakes the NFL has made.

The MMQB: Is there one city that is really aggressive about having it? 

(The NFL Draft is the topic here)

Goodell: Canton, Ohio. It’s awesome!

It sounds awesome! I think Roger Goodell is moving the draft around just in the hopes that citizens of each city will be so happy to have the draft that they forget to boo him. It's probably also his reason for trying to expand the NFL into London and other European cities. They don't hate them there...yet. 

The MMQB: What leads you to believe that 2015 is going to be a better year for the NFL?
Goodell: Well, I think the first part is that we implemented a personal conduct policy in December which we think is responsive to addressing very complex issues where we acknowledged that our policy didn’t deal with those things [domestic violence issues] effectively. We brought in expertise to help us make those decisions going forward. I think there’s clarity to those issues.

Okay, maybe Goodell just says "we" a lot.

It was a competitive year that ended with the most-watched show in the history of television. So fans engaged with our game at an incredibly high level last year. We have to continue to focus on the game of football while making sure that we’re doing the right things off the field—and I’m confident that we will.

Of course Goodell is confident the NFL will do the right things on and off the field. He doesn't even admit to thinking about what the low point of the past season was for him, so like any person who lacks the ability to reflect on his mistakes or admit these mistakes, he lacks a certain perspective.

Not much to report from the first NFL veterans combine.

Takeaways from the inaugural event at the Cardinals’ practice facility in Tempe, where 105 players worked out on Sunday, picked from among 1,800 to 2,000 applicants (according to the league) for workout slots:

The biggest takeaway should be that many of these players aren't signed by an NFL team for a reason. Not playing in the NFL hasn't sharpened their skills either.

2. “There may be a few back-end-of-the-roster training-camp players,” said one GM on hand, “but that’s it.”

It's good the NFL decided to do a veteran's combine and give these guys a chance to prove they can make it in the NFL though. It's not like these veterans had to PAY to work out for NFL tea----

3. Players had to pay a fee to work out for NFL teams. 

Wait, what? These players had to pay to work out for NFL teams? They had to pay real money, not fake Monopoly money? I can't believe this is a real thing that happened. Of course, the NFL does a few things well and one of those things is make money, so I shouldn't be surprised.

There’s something tawdry about that in the first place, for a multibillion-dollar enterprise such as the NFL. If the “prospects” were truly prospects, why are they paying to be seen? If it’s programming for NFL Network, or just another slow-day news story for the league to drag out (some 40 media members covered the show on Sunday), then the veterans combine is not being done for the right reason—the right reason being the league is looking for prospects. Visitors to the event walked away with one overriding thought: That was sad.

It would have been nice if Peter had this information prior to interviewing Roger Goodell so he could ask, "Why in the hell do you make veteran football players pay to try out for NFL teams? You can't use 'money' as an answer either."

I'm not sure what is more sad. The veterans who tried out and didn't look too good or the fact they had to pay to try out.

With the surprising news last week that 24-year-old Niners linebacker Chris Borland was retiring, fearful of what football could do to his long-term health, I think it’s premature to forecast the death of football. But there’s no question the Borland news is a caution flag for the league. To me, the big question is how Borland quitting at his peak and at such a young age will affect the future of the game. There have to be more parents out there questioning whether to let their sons ever play football now.

While I understand why parents wouldn't let their children play football, why would the retirement of Chris Borland affect this decision? I get Borland's retirement is a high profile rejection of a continued NFL career, but it's not like parents now have more information about how dangerous the NFL is prior to Borland's retirement. The sport is dangerous and whether Borland retired or not didn't change that. Sure, he's an example of a football player who doesn't think the sport is worth the long-term damage caused to him, but there are thousands of other football players who choose to play football regardless of the impact on their body. Shouldn't these players also have a large impact on high school players and their decision to play football?

On Friday, I spoke with the coach of the best high school football team in the Bay Area, De La Salle High’s Justin Alumbaugh, to ask him about how his players, and the parents of his players, were reacting to the stunning news about the bright 49er prospect.

“One of our best players was heartbroken about it,” said Alumbaugh. “He seemed sad all day when it happened.”

I would bet this player's sadness stemmed from the fact an emerging young player from his favorite team retired more than it stemmed from his feelings on how dangerous the sport of football is. Borland was on track to be a really good player and fans of his or the 49ers were probably unhappy with his decision to retire.

Alumbaugh has not see a decline in participation numbers at De La Salle. Then again, it’s not likely that one of the great football schools would see kids quit, or new kids not come out for the team.

Nor will there necessarily be a decline in participation on shitty high school teams either, at least not for the next few years. It was one player's decision, and I think it will take more than one retirement to reduce the participation numbers among high school kids, no matter how good the football school is.

I say this with confidence: There is no football player of a certain age who dictated the future ethos of his franchise, who put a lifetime imprint on a franchise and a city, the way Chuck Bednarik did with the Eagles and the city of Philadelphia.

The play that will live in the hearts of so many Eagles fans—including the thousands not alive to see it when it happened—occurred on Nov. 20, 1960, when the Eagles led the Giants late in the fourth quarter, trying to hang on to a 17-10 lead and secure their place atop the Eastern Division of the NFL. 

The Giants were driving, and New York hero Frank Gifford, the Jeter of his day in the big city, caught a pass and headed upfield. Bednarik ran at Gifford and exploded into him chest-first, Gifford falling to the cold turf just as cold as the ground. Then, Bednarik stood over Gifford, and in a rage that would have cost his team 15 yards today, gesticulated at Gifford and screamed something like, “This game is OVER!”

Fast-forward to 15 years ago. I was in Andy Reid’s head-coaching office with the Eagles, and there was a huge rectangular photo on the wall—the shot of Bednarik exulting over the prone and motionless Gifford. Bednarik signed it for Reid.

“This game is f—— over! Chuck Bednarik, HOF 1967’’

And yes, in today's NFL Bednarik would have been suspended a game for his taunting of a fallen player and Skip Bayless would spit out hot takes about what a thug Bednarik is while everyone else agrees there is no place in the game for knocking a player out and then screaming over his body while he lays prone on the ground. But hey, it all turned out well and Bednarik is a hero instead. Let a modern player do this and the hot takes about his thuggery will fly though.

“For the most part, I thought it was a mediocre free-agent class. I think a lot of guys got paid more money than maybe they would have … because there was a lot of cap room.”

—Giants president and co-owner John Mara.

For those who missed it this week, I wrote a companion piece of anecdotal evidence on the over-rating of free agency.

But as I have written a few times during this offseason, the fact Peter considers free agency to be overrated doesn't mean he won't saturate MMQB and his THE MMQB site with coverage of free agency. People like reading about free agency, even if it is overrated. Also, Peter likes making judgments about teams based on overrated free agency.

“Do you know what happened the last time a Ravens player got a DUI? I’m getting cut tomorrow, not like you care.”

—Running back Bernard Pierce, to the officer who arrested him on a charge of driving while intoxicated on Wednesday. He was right. Pierce was cut later in the day, and picked up by the Jaguars.

Times change quickly in the NFL. Two years and one month ago, the key Baltimore backs in the Super Bowl were Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce.

An NFL player can get a DUI and then immediately find another job. What a country!

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

Three thoughts about my spring training visit to the Cubs’ new stadium, Sloan Park, in Mesa, Ariz.:

2. Saw a most prodigious home run by Kris Bryant, the star of spring training. He golfed a moon shot deep to left field in the first inning against the Mariners. Off King Felix. Which prompted a fan behind home plate to turn to the press box, presumably where the fan thought GM Theo Epstein would be sitting, and screamed: “Hey Theo! YOU’RE NOT SENDING THIS KID DOWN!” The Cubs can get an extra pre-free-agency year out of Bryant if he starts the season in the minors, which seems patently absurd.

It also seems like this is the result of the CBA the player's union worked out with the owners. Them's the rules, so Bryant spending another couple months in the minors is as absurd as an NFL team signing a player to a $110 million contract and that player only seeing a fraction of that money.

Then Bryant hit a second homer. Don’t want to be a relentless optimist about the Cubbies, 

Which means that Peter will now be optimistic about the Cubbies.

but that teams has some great young bats. Addison Russell, the shortstop acquired in the Jeff Samardzija trade with Oakland last year, also homered.

And you know Peter had no idea who Addison Russell was before attending this spring training game and watching him homer.

3. At so many baseball games—I really noticed it here—it’s like the ticket is a cover charge for the bars around the park.

I'm sure the "baseball is dying" crowd thinks the fans need alcohol in order to make it through the boring baseball game.

This is good advice. It's also advice coming from an NFL player who played 14 seasons in the NFL and earned millions of dollars who is advising NFL players to think ahead 10 years. Wilson didn't didn't think ahead 10 years, so I could look at it as him giving advice he wished he had taken or I could look at this as advice from a player who already earned his millions playing football. It's easier to give this advice knowing you didn't make the decision you are imploring others to make. Perhaps Wilson regrets his decision to keep playing...

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think the best things that will be considered by the 32 team owners this week are:

a. Chicago’s proposal that both teams be guaranteed at least one possession in overtime. (A turnover on the opening kickoff of overtime would count as a possession.)

I don't see why this proposal wasn't implemented a few years ago. I see no reason why each team isn't guaranteed a possession, but the team that gets possession second has to go for a two point conversion if they score a touchdown. That way, there is more strategy involved in winning the coin flip and each team doesn't get multiple possessions in overtime. If the first team that scores goes for a two point conversion, converts, and the second team does the same (which wouldn't happen that often) then both teams have to go for the two point conversion in the second overtime. I like it when both teams get the football in overtime. That's my basic point.

c. Moving the extra point back to the 15-yard line. (At least.)

d. Narrowing the goal posts.

e. Making the line of scrimmage for the extra point or two-point conversion the one-yard line.

Obviously "c" and "e" can't both happen, but I don't like the idea of making the line of scrimmage as the one-yard line. I don't know if this will achieve the intended effect of having teams go for the two-point conversion more often. Also, moving the extra point back to the 15-yard line essentially takes the two-point conversion out of play, unless the NFL wants a rule which says if a team is going for two then they get the ball on the 2-yard line and if a team is trying an extra point then they have to try it from the 15-yard line. That seems dumb to me.

f. Though I supported the Patriots’ right to put a fifth “lineman” reporting as eligible to play anywhere on the field when it was used in the playoffs in January, I think a clearer rule is preferable. “We’re proposing that if an eligible player reports ineligible to the referee, that he must report and then play in a line in the tackle box,” said competition committee co-chair Jeff Fisher. “There was a concern on behalf of a number of clubs and number of coaches and coach [John] Madden’s subcommittee that unless we had some guidelines in place, that this thing may get out of hand.” So, a running back wouldn’t be able to play split wide, ineligible. But a tight end would be able to line up as left tackle.


2. I think for those of your cursing me for loving the both-teams-get-a-possession proposal, my thought: The coin flip at the start of overtime still takes on too much significance, even with the receiving team needing a touchdown to win the game instead of simply a field goal. I agree that having to score a touchdown on the first possession of overtime for the game to be over is progress, but it’s still a fact that the vast majority of teams with a choice at the start of overtime are going to choose to receive, not kick off. That’s because having the ball, regardless how good the defense you’re facing, gives a team a better chance to win than playing defense. And the games are too important to give a coin flip such influence. The Packers lost the coin flip of the NFC title game and never saw the ball. I’d make the argument that the odds of Green Bay scoring a touchdown on the first possession of overtime with Aaron Rodgers quarterbacking were more than 50 percent.

True, but I would counter this 50 percent guess by pointing out the Packers did have the football late in the fourth quarter with a chance to score a touchdown and they only came away with a field goal. So I think the 50 percent guess by Peter is simply a guess. I agree with him overall, and I hate how the coin flip is so important too, but he's purely guessing that Rodgers and the Packers would have scored a touchdown on the first possession of overtime. Their fourth quarter offensive performance calls this 50% guess into question.

Remember’s Seattle’s other marquee overtime game last year? Won the coin flip against Denver, went 80 yards on the first possession for the touchdown. Pretty significant factor, the coin flip. Kept the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’ and Peyton Manning’s hands in those two games.

I think Peter really supports this rule change because his boy Peyton Manning was screwed out of a victory by losing the coin flip against Seattle this year and in a playoff game against the Chargers several years ago too. He's still sore about that playoff game against the Chargers I bet.

4. I think the way the Chargers will handle things with Rivers is smart. They’re not going to put any full-court press on him to sign this offseason—though they very much want to sign him to be a Charger for life, wherever the franchise plays long-term. But the club also knows there’s no sense in pressuring Rivers, so they’ve left the ball in his court, basically. He knows they want to talk extension, and if he changes his mind, they’ll let him come to them.

Which is a great strategy until the Chargers realize they can't afford to slap him with the franchise tag and Rivers doesn't come to the Chargers for a new contract so he becomes a free agent and chooses to sign somewhere else. I'm sure some NFL team would pay Philip Rivers if the Chargers just sit back and wait for Rivers to ask for a contract extension.

6. I think the fair thing for Greg Hardy and the Cowboys would be a six-game suspension to start the season. I have no problem with the Cowboys signing him, but his case should be a perfect example of the way the league deals with cases of domestic violence where there is significant evidence that abuse occurs. Even though Hardy sat 15 games last year, he was paid for them, and though I realize that’s a very gray area, imagine if Hardy isn’t suspended. That would mean he’d never missed a paycheck while being found guilty by a North Carolina judge for domestic violence. (The case was never heard by a jury because the victim did not show up for the subsequent trial.)

Hardy was found guilty, but it wasn't the exact same thing as a guilty verdict in this situation. It's a bizarre North Carolina law, but Hardy was never found guilty by a jury of his peers that heard the evidence of the case. I don't care and haven't cared how long Hardy will be suspended, but he was found guilty in a bench trial and his trial by jury never occurred. It's a weird situation.

7. I think the coolest part of the design for the prospective new Inglewood, Calif., stadium planned by Rams owner Stan Kroenke is the roof. According to the Los Angeles Times’ Sam Farmer, the roof will be 275 feet above the field, and it will be transparent, and it will allow breezes to flow through the stadium. It doesn’t sound like Kroenke wants a second team to share the site with him (though, as Farmer reports, the design does allow for it), and it certainly doesn’t sound like he wants to keep the Rams in St. Louis.

Poor Rams fans. I feel for them. They are stuck with Jeff Fisher and now the team will get serious about winning just as they are leaving town.

9. I think this could well surpass the $7 million guaranteed to Dwayne Harris (Who?) by the New York Giants on the Teams Do The Damndest Things In Free Agency Dept.: Charles Clay will make $24.2 million in his first two seasons playing tight end for the Buffalo Bills. Not bad for a guy with three touchdowns in Miami last year—and who averaged 4.1 receptions a game.

Wow, Peter is really using information from Clay's injury-filled 2014 season. Clay was injured pretty much the entire 2014 season. He had six touchdowns during the 2013 season, including 759 yards. Sure, he only averaged 4.3 receptions per game, but Jimmy Graham has averaged 4.9 receptions per game during his career, including 5.3 receptions per game last season. Compare the money Graham received to what Clay received knowing Graham averaged one more reception per game, if Peter really wants to play that game. So is Jimmy Graham overpaid based on his receptions per game? Remember, Graham had Drew Brees throwing him the ball, while Clay had Ryan Tannehill. Tony Gonzalez only averaged 4.9 receptions per game for his career, so I really think Peter is barking up the wrong tree in trying to point out how Charles Clay won't live up to his contract.

Did Peter do any research before simply regurgitating that 4.1 receptions per game statistic? Clay is making a lot of money his first two seasons in Buffalo, but he's also a pretty good tight end when he's healthy. And 4.1 receptions per game would have put Clay as the tight end with the 7th most receptions in the NFL last year if he had played a full 16 games.

10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:

c. Wisconsin over Iowa State for the national title. What a basketball savant!

Peter has a fetish for college basketball teams from the Midwest it seems.

e. Uggla will make $13 million from the Braves this year. Part of an old guaranteed contract. (As every veteran in the NFL vomits while thinking, Why not us?)

Trust me, Braves fans have been vomiting for four seasons now. This year will be the last year of vomit-inducing thoughts about Dan Uggla.

f. Great cross-country writing music: “Songs of Innocence,” the most recent effort by U2. “Song For Someone” is the hidden gem of the album.

There is nothing hidden about U2 and there is even less "hidden" about an album that was automatically downloaded on to millions of people's iPhones. Literally everyone with an iPhone got a chance to hear this song if they would like. That goes against the idea anything regarding "Songs of Innocence" is hidden.

h. Coffeenerdness: illy espresso is underrated. Very smooth and strong.

It's the "Song For Someone" of espressos.

k. My Ohio U. Bobcats were taken out of the NCAA women’s tournament by Arizona State on Saturday. A couple of familiar names on the Sun Devils: senior guard Promise Amukamara and junior guard Peace Amukamara. Sisters of Prince, of course.

l. Curious if the other three Amukamara sisters—Precious, Passionate and Princess—were at the game.

I'm curious if you can stop commenting on the names of Prince Amukamara's sisters as if they are so hilarious because they don't fit into your WASP-y view of what a person's name should be.

The Adieu Haiku

March Madness. Fun times.  
NFL playoffs fun too.
But can’t match Madness.

Why? Why still have this haiku? You know what isn't underrated? Using a haiku in a football column. It's overrated. It's the U2 of gimmicks that are used in weekly football columns. 


Murray said...

It never fails. Pats win quick change the rules. Pats do something most things do string them up. Another team does something "Meh everyone does it"

Bengoodfella said...

Murray, the Patriots need to find a way to use a lack of end zone cameras to their advantage and then the NFL will install them like Belichick wants them to.