I'm old enough to remember watching the 1958 NFL Championship game with my dad. My grandad took me to the first home game of the Kansas City Chiefs, they lost that September day in 1963. It wasn't long before I had my own pair of season tickets, paid for with lawn mowing money. Rode a city bus down to old Municipal Stadium as I was too young to drive. Was there for the last game before Arrowhead Stadium opened, the double overtime game vs. the Miami Dolphins on Christmas Day, 1971. I was on leave from the Air Force and my best buddy was on leave from the Army, so it was an extra special Christmas, even though we lost in a heartbreaker. I still believe that was the greatest Chiefs' team of all time. Growing up my house, you were a Missouri Tigers' fan, my dad insisted on it. My mom was a huge sports fan as well, even today she watches a lot of football and Nascar.
After I got out of the service, I managed a bowling alley and later sold bedroom furniture for about 8 years. My wife and I decided to leave the cold midwest and move somewhere warmer. We landed in Las Vegas and I worked in dice pits downtown and on the famed Las Vegas Strip for 20 years. I helped open both Treasure Island and the Bellagio. Met a lot of famous people, many of them nice, many of them not so nice. I won a couple of football handicapping contests over the years. And I was regular in the sportsbooks during football season. During that time I came back to Kansas City and saw 29 games and the Chiefs had a 27-2 record in those games. The 2 losers were both to Seattle, one of them the famous Derrick Thomas 7-sack game. I told Carl Peterson a few times he might win a playoff game if he'd bring me in to town. He never took me up on it. They haven't won a playoff game since '94.
In 1998, we remodeled our family room and we made it a 4-screen media room. In our new home we have a 5-screen media room and with DIRECTV, we can watch 15-20 games on Saturday and 8-11 on Sunday. I'm blessed with a wife of 33 years who loves football, who understands football completely. I'm a lucky man.
After living in Las Vegas for 20 years, we moved to rural Missouri 4 years ago. The best thing about it is it's really quiet, which is good. Some of our new friends here have come over to watch football and many of them don't understand how we not only watch 5 games at once, but know exactly what's going on in each game. Believe me, it's an aquired skill.
I've kept fans and even a few media guys informed about the NFL Draft for nearly 30 years. I've always liked the not-so-exact-science of scouting. Like handicapping, it can make you look pretty smart or absolutely clueless. But I always give my honest opinion and if I haven't seen a kid play, I won't rate them using someone elses reports.
Besides watching well over 400 games a year, we also enjoy the NHRA & NASCAR, both on TV & in person. We like boating, traveling, movies & lots of blues music.
I hope you'll find something good every time you visit RICHSFOOTBALLREPORT.com. I'll do my best give you the most accurate and timely football news. Opinion, predictions and hopefully a few laughs.
aFormer Tennessee Titan RB Chris Johnson signed a 2-year deal with the New York Jets. With $4 million of it guaranteed, I don't see him sharing a lot of his carries with Chris Ivory & Bilal Powell. Johnson has surpassed the 1,000-yard barrier every season(6) he's been in the league with the 2009 season the standout when he gained 2,006 yards on the ground. He also broke Marshall Faulk's record of total yards from scrimmage that season with 2,509 rushing & receiving. Johnson is an excellent pass catcher as his 272 lifetime receptions would suggest. He set the scouting combine on it's collective ear when he blazed a 4.24 forty-yard dash. Johnson does have a tendency to put the ball on the ground, especially in the past three seasons. The 28-year old should have another two years of tread left on his tires, but he's always been a "me-first" kind of player, personal stats seemingly more important than wins. Maybe Rex Ryan can shake another big season out of C.J.
There's been a Josh Freeman sighting, he surfaced in New York & reportedly signed a contract with the Giants. The Kansas City native has a long way to go to repair his image around the league.
Looking for a bargain QB? The Oakland Raiders are openly shopping Terrelle Pryor. Three years ago, the Raiders traded a 1st draft pick to Cincinnati for Carson Palmer. That was after they had traded a 4th round selection to Washington for QB Jason Campbell. Then they used a 3rd round selection to select Pryor in the spring supplemental draft. The result? Coupled with another terrible trade made with New England, the Raiders didn't have a pick in rounds 1-4 of the 2012 draft. Plus Campbell was released & Palmer was traded to Arizona for a 6th round draft pick. Now they want out of Pryor's contract, front office screw-ups like these can set a franchise back 3-5 years.
A pair of high profile celebs could be competing for ownership of the Buffalo Bills. Singer Jon Bon Jovi, who owned an arena team, has partnered with a couple of Toronto investors to bid for the team. And Mr. "Bad Hair" himself, Donald Trump is making noise about buying the Bills. Trump promised to keep the Bills in Buffalo if he bought the team. I haven't heard if Bon Jovi & his group want to move to Toronto, play a few games in Toronto like the Bills have done in the past or something else. Both have the kind of money to get into the NFL & since the Bills aren't exactly the Dallas Cowboys on the earnings chart, the price might not be as steep as you might think. The Bills lease with the city calls for the team to stay in Buffalo thru the 2020 season, Breaking that lease would cost over $100 million dollars in 2014. If you think Trump is too bombastic to own an NFL franchise, think again. We currently have Jerry "The General Manager" Jones as well as the "King of Twitter, Colts owner Robert Irsay, currently in rehab for alcohol & "controlled substances." We had Al "Lawsuit" Davis & Eddie DeBartolo, convicted of political bribery that cost him ownership of the Forty-Niners. Trump owned the New Jersey Generals of the USFL & he convinced the other owners to sue the NFL on anti-trust violations. He said the league had to play in the fall if it was to succeed. They won their suit but the judge only awarded the USFL $3. They disbanded not long after the trial.
Speaking of goofy owners, my personal favorite Jerry Jones, has participated in 25 drafts since he bought the team from H.R. "Bum" Bright in 1989. In 20 of those 25 drafts, the Cowboys have made a first round trade. Sometimes up, sometimes down, sometimes out altogether. His track record is hardly sparkling either. There were the twin 1st round picks Jones traded for WR Joey Galloway, then there was the 1st, 3rd & 6th for Roy Williams. Galloway had one really good season for Dallas but Williams didn't catch 100-passes total in 2+ seasons. I remember way back in '97, Jones made it known the Boys were really interested in this basketball playing tight end from Cal. Carl Paterson traded up a few spots & drafted him before Jones could do the same. The Cowboys ended up drafting LSU tight end David LaFleur. He went on & on about how they fooled everybody by talking about this kid from Cal & then taking the guy they really wanted, LeFleur. In his entire NFL career, LaFleur caught just 85 passes for 729-yards. He never had a reception over 25-yards in his career. The kid from Cal? None other than the best tight end of all-time, Tony Gonzalez.
Terry Shea, quarterback guru of Robert Griffin III, has spent the past two weeks working with his pupil. He has declared RG3 fit, fast & playing as he did as a rookie. Shea said Griffin's footwork was the major difference. He never looked completely healthy last season but Washington fans should be thrilled at Shea's assessment.
Blue Springs High grad Brandon Lloyd is back in the NFL. After sitting out the 2013 season, the Forty-Niners signed him to a 1-year deal. Lloyd had lead 3 different teams in receiving over his 11-year career.
James Wilder Jr. of Florida State picked a good time to get arrested, less than a month before the draft. It's his second run-in with Florida Police in the past two years. After four traffic stops found him with a suspended license, the fifth time was a charm & off to the clink he went. His other arrest was more serious, battery on a police officer. Dad must be so proud. He left the Seminoles with a year of eligibility remaining & at best, would've been a fifth round selection IMO. Now after another arrest, he could fall to undrafted free agent status, which equates to almost zero signing bonus.
You know who scored 5-points higher on the Wonderlic Test than Peyton Manning? In fact he outscored all but one of the QB's in this year's draft class 32 to Blake Bortles 28(2nd). None other than Johnny Football himself, Johnny Manziel. In fact, Manziel scored just one point less than Tom Brady. Jeff Matthews of Cornell scored a perfect 40 on the test, only the second NFL prospect ever to do so. Cincinnati punter Pat McInally, of Harvard did back in 1975.
In what will certainly become a precedent setting incident, Clemson defensive tackle Brandon Thomas tore his ACL during a private pre-draft workout. Who pays for his surgery? His rehab? How about loss of revenue? The new CBA doesn't address the issue of responsibility. To my knowledge, no player has ever sustained this type of serious injury at a private workout. Oh, there are the occasional sprained ankles or tweaked hamstrings, but nothing this bad. South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney said he would not workout for anyone before the draft. I think anyone risking serious injury without a contract is foolish.
FOXSports published a piece on their website detailing the pre-draft analysis of Aldon Smith. Human Resource Tactics gave Smith ones, twos & fours on a scale of 1-10 regarding focus, coachability, respect for authority, attention span etc. If in fact this knucklehead really did mention having a bomb in the TSA security area at LAX, I'd have to say Human Resource Tactics might have graded Smith too high. Even in a locker room with high character guys like Justin Smith, Patrick Willis & Navarro Bowman, Smith kept screwing up. Lord, I hope this kid can get his life straightened out.
Did you hear last month about the billion dollar offer from Warren Buffet's Quicken Loan company? Pick a perfect bracket in March Madness & you'd win $1 billion. No one was alive by sundown the second day, that's how tough it is. The St. Louis Rams have a similar proposition, pick their entire 2014 schedule in order, home & away, complete with the bye week & they'll throw you a cool hundred grand. Unfortunately, this feat is about 9.2 quadrillion(9,200,000,000,000,000) to 1. That perfect NCAA basketball bracket is merely 72 trillion(72,000,000,000,000) to 1 & it pays $999,900,000 less. What a deal.
Dwayne Bowe walked out of a Riverside courtroom yesterday free as a bird & only $610 lighter. His marijuana possession & speeding charges were dropped to defective equipment & littering. Say what? The Riverside D.A. said 1st time offenders were almost always let go on a much lesser charge(s) & that Bowe didn't receive any special treatment. I told you before he'd get off & a $610 fine for defective equipment & littering qualifies IMO.
For the second time in a week, one of the 49ers key players is in trouble. One was earlier in the week & since he hasn't been charged, I'm not going to talk about him, yesterday at LAX, outside linebacker Aldon Smith was arrested after telling a TSA agent he believed had singled him out for a secondary search, that he had a bomb.The ultimate no-no in any airport in this country, a no-no Smith has to know, considering how often he flies commercially. He was detained & handcuffed when LAPD officers came to the security checkpoint. He was later charged with making threats to a TSA agent.
This will be Smith's third pending trial & most likely his second league-mandated suspension. He's in the 4th season of his rookie contract, one that was done before the latest CBA, so it's about 3-4 times richer than the 1st round deals negotiated since. The Niners hold the option on year five, which would be worth more than $11 million. I have to think he's going to miss at least half this season & altho he has 42 sacks in 43 games, I see no way Frisco will spend that kind of dough on a player, a very talented player mind you, but a player that has been a helluva lot of trouble since being drafted.
Round two of Hell Week for the 49ers could officially begin any day now. If it does, another former Mizzou first rounder, selected just 3 picks after Smith, will quickly be the talk of the football world.
In a DGB update, Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel said he told his team the decision to dismiss the star receiver was #1 for his good. "He's never going to get right here, too much has happened & nothing has gotten better." Sadly, he's right, Green-Beckham has been in trouble far too often & at what point this crap ceases & he becomes the top-10 NFL prospect he was projected to be way back at Springfield-Hillcrest High School. With DGB, L'Damien Washington & Marcus Lucas gone, Jimmy Hunt & Bud Sasser move into the starting lineup, leaving 2 other spots vacant. It should be interesting to watch both spring ball as well as training camp to watch the competition for these spots.
I haven't been here for a while, either I feel like crap, Charter Cable isn't working or I've grown tired writing a a blog from the police blotter not one about football. Tonight I'm forced to write a really pathetic post, one that actually turns my stomach. Dorial Green-Beckham, the most coveted high school player in the land chose Gary Pinkel's Missouri Tigers over a dozen more famous, more successful programs. Now he's in the wind, sent packing by the university that shocked the college football world by signing him a little over two years ago. Adopted, along with his brother, by a white high school football coach, John Beckham & his wife, along with 4 other minority children. Three of them have already gone onto college, DGB was the third after he lived with the Beckham family as a foster child. He & his brother, stricken with a rare form of Leukemia, asked the Beckhams to adopt them too, which they did in 2008.
After a brilliant prep career at Springfield Hillcrest, which included a state basketball championship, the 6' 6" 225-pound Green-Beckham chose Mizzou. The Tigers had just joined the Southeastern Conference & now they had Pinkel's best recruiting class led by DGB. He had a decent impact as a true freshman, but extensive injuries killed any chances of being competitive in their debut season. Last season was a different story, healthy again, the Tigers were ranked in the nation's top-10 for much of the season, winning the SEC East before losing badly to Auburn in the SEC title game. After beating Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl, the Tigers finished 12-2. DGB was a major part of their offensive success, catching 59 passes for 883-yards & 12 touchdowns. His junior season was going to be his last in Columbia as the lure of the NFL would be too great for him to remain with the Tigers.
He was detained by campus police for smoking pot in the stadium parking lot late one Sunday night. This got him a 1-game suspension from Pinkel. He said all the right things in his apology. Then last weekend he was implicated in a break-in & assault & battery on his girlfriend's roommates after he forced their apartment door open after 2AM Sunday morning. When told his girlfriend wasn't home, he pushed one of the women down four stairs before shoving the second woman around while demanding to know the whereabouts of his girlfriend. Both women decided not to press charges in fear of retribution from the school, fans & the community. The Columbia Police were about to drop the charges & another 5-star athlete was going to get a free pass. Oh he would've gotten another suspension, 3-4 games most likely. But Pinkel & Mizzou A.D. Mike Alden, after numerous meetings, decided DGB had to go. Alden said the decision was ultimately Pinkel's. BTW, it was the right decision.
John Beckham told the St. Louis Post Dispatch his son accepted the responsibility for his conduct & mistakes. Green-Beckham said in a statement:
"I'm not looking for sympathy. I thank those who have given me their concern. I was young & dumb. I want to do better. During this suspension I will be entering counseling. With help I know I can be stronger emotionally & spiritually."
My buddy Andy texted me tonight speculating on just how many millions DGB has cost himself with his actions of the past week. Only two years out of high school, he must wait another year before he can enter the NFL. Had he pllayed this season, he would most likely be a high 1st round prospect. But no more. He could drop down to an FCS school, DIV I-III where he'd be eligible to play right away & then go thru the draft process. He could sit out a full season & be eligible for either the draft or the ability to return to play for a DIV IAA team, Mizzou, Bama, Texas or whoever. With three options available, who knows which way he'll go. He is truly a gifted receiver with superior NFL draft talent. But is he damaged goods in the eyes of pro scouts & coaching staffs? Depends how he rehabilitates his image & continues to improve his skills, which is tough at the lower rungs of NCAA football. With QB Maty Mauk penciled in as the Tiger starter, DGB figured to have another stout season against SEC competition. IMO, even if he rewrites some Div. I's receiving record for one season, he'd do so against competition so far below the SEC, he'd be hard pressed to be ranked as a first round prospect again. Once again, a superlative athlete has let selfishness damage, if not ruin, his future.
What about Pinkel's 2014 team? Counting Green-Beckham's dismissal, the graduation of L'Damien Washington & Marcus Lucas, he's lost 167 receptions good for 2,468-yards & 25 touchdowns, very difficult to replace when DGB figured to be the centerpiece of a retooled offense. Now the WR corps will be led by Bud Sasser who compiled 26-receptions & scored one lone touchdown. Pinkel had just received his third 4-star recruit's verbal promise to play in Columbia. Unfortunately, no receivers, a running back from the St. Louis area, a lineman from the Kansas side & the fifth-ranked QB in the nation, Drew Lock of Lee's Summit High School. With Markus Murphy & Russell Hansbrough returning along with spring sensation Morgan Steward from Kansas City, Mauk had a chance to maintain their offensive firepower. But without Green-Beckham, the fear of this group falls right off the table.
I hope this young man gets hits life in order & soon. Whether Dorial is a top-5 prospect or just a run of the mill college football player, I don't want to see him screw up anymore. He has a chance to be something very special, but right now I feel for his parents as well as Dorial. His younger brother, Darnell gave Pinkel a verbal commitment just three weeks ago to play wide receiver for him in 2015. What will come of that? Who knows, the entire episode has left a really bad taste in this Tiger fan's mouth.
I said earlier today I thought Desean Jackson was a bad fit for Washington & RG3. But owner Daniel Snyder wanted him so he's now gonna be bending Griffin's ear endlessly. Bad match IMO.
Free safety Danieal Manning will visit the Chiefs Thursday. I'm not too hot on Manning.
But a more feel good story about a former Chief, Trent Green, who will join CBS as a game analyst. He was hired to replace Dan Dierdorf, who retired at the end of the season. Good for Trent, he's truly one of the good guys.
The "new" Oakland Raiders, the post Al Davis Raiders, will look nothing like the Raiders of the past decade. General manager Reggie McKenzie has signed a number of over-30 well-known veterans, mostly on defense but also added "Mr. Pick Six" Matt Schaub. He resigned the oft-injured RB Darren McFadden & added Maurice Jones-Drew, who is definitely near the end & ex-Packer wideout James Jones, another injury-prone player. For offensive line help, McKenzie added Jets' right tackle Austin Howard & former NYG Kevin Boothe. With the exception of McFadden & Howard, everyone else is over 30 or will turn 30 before the season begins.
On defense, McKenzie has more of the same signing Justin Tuck(31), Antonio Smith(32), LaMarr Woodley(30 in Nov), Tarrell Brown(29), Carlos Rogers(33) & Charles Woodson(37). With the exception of Woodley, who was gladly granted free agency in Pittsburgh, most of the guys McKenzie signed are solid citizens, good off the field & in the locker room. Reggie began flirting with the notion of signing WR Desean Jackson. Matt Schaub voiced his support, but he never had such a me-first guy while he was the QB in Houston. He had "all I want to do is win" Andre Johnson & some role players, no hot dogs like Jackson. If he is such a hot commodity, why did Chip Kelly, who values team speed more than anything let Jackson walk without any compensation? Because to Kelly, he was more trouble than he was worth. He not popular amongst teammates & his me-first attitude grates on his quarterbacks. Oakland has plenty of cap cash to sign Jackson or anybody else out there, but is he worth it in the long run? With McKenzie's signing of so many over-30 vets, is it to win now or is it an attempt to make the Raiders more competitive week to week while he builds a team from the ground up?
Of course Daniel Snyder is right in the middle of the Desean Jackson sweepstakes, as well as the Jets & I have to ask why? You have young quarterbacks who's confidence is shaky & you want to bring in a wideout who bends the QB's ear in every huddle & on the sideline? He needs to play on a team with a very strong, established quarterback, not Schaub, Geno Smith or RG3.
The upcoming draft might be the deepest one in a decade. Not so many elite players, but 60-70 players who would go in the second round in most drafts & 60-70 more who normally would be considered 3rd round prospects. Too bad the Chiefs don't have a 2nd round pick, it was the last part of the Alex Smith trade. But luckily for Kansas City, the draft pool is deep at WR, CB & DL, all positions they need.
In breaking news that could alter the college football landscape forever, the Chicago National Labor Relations Board ha ruled that football players at Northwestern University. The players had announced their intent to unionize immediately after last season ended. The Chicago NLRB 5-members has two Obama appointees, put there during a congressional recess. This ruling allows all players in the Northwestern football program to organize & collectivel bargain with the university for wages & benefits. These negotiations are generally tied to the overall income of the program. Is this the first domino to fall or just the tip of the legal wrangling that will rack up hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees? I think it will be the latter. Do the players deserve a piece of the pie? Absolutely. These schools have had a 75-year gravy train, making billions while always shunning any stipend for players. Those proposals for a $100-125 a week stipend looks pretty good now doesn't it? Realistically, 1/3 of the schools will disband their football programs & that will cause many other sports programs to be eliminated because they were funded by the football program. This could be the beginning of the end to many of the college sports our kids, nieces, nephews & neighbors received scholarships to play & to work toward a degree. Should've given them the money years ago & this wouldn't have become an issue........most likely.
**UPDATE @ 7:21PM CT I was just made aware of a fact that lessens the impact of this decision. The NLRB can make judgements on private companies & institutions, like Northwestern University for instance. Private schools, Stanford, Duke, Vanderbilt, Baylor, Notre Dame, etc. Tennessee, Michigan, Mizzou & Utah don't fall under the NLRB's jurisdiction.
Jared Allen has signed with the Chicago Bears & will move right into the RDE spot vacated by Julius Peppers, who signed a free agent deal with Green Bay.
The St. Louis Rams signed backup quarterback Shaun Hill today which should take them out of the market for Mark Sanchez. The Eagles remain the only team to voice any interest in the former Jets starter.
The owners voted this morning on all of the rules changes I described in last night's post. I marked the outcome of each proposal in the post directly beneath this one.
I know I've been away far too long, my rehab leaves me so tired & sore, I can't wait to get home & get my feet up. Today I'm supposed to do my home workout but I've been struck by another gout attack in my left foot, just looking at it hurts like hell. So I have four pages of notes I compiled over the past two weeks & I'm gonna put them all down here today. I know you've probably heard a lot of what you'll read today, but hopefully they will be a lot of content that's new to you.
Brent Musburger will no longer call college football games for ESPN, he's moving over to the SEC Network. He'll team with former ESPN analyst Jesse Palmer for Saturday night SEC games. He won;t be callingany bowl games either. He will continue to call BIG-12 basketball for the Worldwide Leader. Filling his spot on ABC/ESPN Saturday night football is Chris Fowler. The host of TV's best pregame show, IMO, "College Gameday" since 1996, he will fill both jobs. He will also call two of the three playoff games in the new, non-BCS format. Fowler received a 9-year contract extension with ESPN. Kirk Herbstreit will also remain on Gameday as well as his analyst duties on Saturday night football. Joining the SEC Network just today was former Jets & Bama QB Greg McElroy. The network had already signed Tim Tebow for studio analysis.
In another TV note, FOXSports has decided not to renew the contract of football analyst Brian Billick.
Former Buffalo Bills QB & Pro Football Hall of Famer, Jim Kelly was flown from upstate New York to Manhattan for an exam of his oral cancer that "is spreading aggressively" according to his wife Jill. Kelly lost part of his jaw bone & three teeth during surgery 3-years ago. The 54-year old Kelly & wife Jill lost their 8-year old son, Hunter to Krabbe Disease & they have worked tirelessly raising money to fight this disease children are born with. The Kelly's have two daughters, Erin & Camryn who are constantly at their father's side. Stay away from chewing tobacco & the dipping.
The NFL just passed a new rule & it's good one for all you season ticket holders who get the letters about mid-November regarding playoff tickets. You how it goes, reserve your tickets now by paying in full for them. The your team doesn't make the playoffs or their post season game is on the road, the team encourages you to just let them keep your playoff ticket money for a down payment on next season's tickets. No more, NFL teams will not be allowed to solicit money for playoff tickets until their playoff spot is clinched. As NFL stadium attendance continues to slide because the in-home, high def big screen, satellite experience is more enjoyable to many fans, with this new rule, we'll see empty seats in many playoff venues.
The NFL is pressing to double their number of regular season games played in London from 2 to 4. IMO this is a mistake, they're taking away from 4 teams home schedule. I know the Jags have volunteered to play across the pond twice next season, but it's no way to fill you stadium & keep it filled during the regular season. How many years has Jacksonville had entire sections of upper deck seats permanently covers with tarps? The Raiders have done it as well. The economy has contributed slightly as has the awful performance of these two teams. But please, no more London games.
Dallas Mavericks' owner & one of the sharks on ABC's "Shark Tank" Mark Cuban had a lot to say about the NFL. He believes they think interest in their product is endless & they've become a bunch of "greedy hogs, & we know hogs always, always, always,always get slaughtered." The billionaire went onto to say "16 games on Thursday night, 16 games on Monday night, 17 games on Sunday night games all day on Sunday, three on Thanksgiving & now they're going back to a Saturday day-night double headers as soon as college football ends it's regular season. They're running the risk of over exposure causing reduced attendance & plummeting TV ratings & revenues. I'm not saying this because the NFL hurts the ratings of the NBA, We're doing just fine, but football better be very cautious over the next five years."
Former Tampa & New England running back LeGarrette Blount is visiting the Pittsburgh Steelers Friday. This seems like a good match for both parties. Solid veteran locker room leadership to keep him on the straight & narrow plus a power back like the Steelers have wanted for some time.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White needs to man-up & payoff his Twitter bet. Before the Duke-Mercer game, a #3 seed vs a #14 seed, Whte Tweeted that Duke would handle Mercer easily. One of White's Twitter followers, a Mercer grad, came back with a Tweet that Mercer would knockoff the heavily favored Blue Devils & finished with "Go Bears!" White responded "If Mercer upsets Duke, I'll give you 2 season tix on the 50-yd line" The Mercer grad & Atlanta resident replied "I can't wait for my season tix, go Bears. He's not a Chicago Bears fan, Mercer, 90-miles south of Atlanta, has a Bear for a mascot. When Mercer knocked the Dukies out of the tourney, White said he'd give the guy two seats on the fifty the next time the Bears play the Falcons in Atlanta. This didn't sit well with thousands of White's Twitter followers. Theiir Tweets ranged from trash talk to outrage he was reneging on a bet he had made in a public forum. We'll see what happens, personally I doubt White pays off.
Indianapolis Colts' owner Bob Irsay remains in a rehab clinic for drugs & alcohol. During a routine traffic stop, Irsay was found to be way over the legall limit & in possession of a number of different prescription drugs he wasn't prescribed. He battled an addiction to pain medication about ten years ago but these drugs were in the Class IV group, Xanax & the like. Since this is his second go-round with rehab, I expect Commissioner Roger Goodell to punish Irsay rather severely. Tough to be so hard on the players & then allow an owner to skate with a small fine. His eldest daughter, Carene, has assumed the day to day leadership of the organization.
The NFL's competition committee met & here are their proposals for next season: 1. No overtime in preseason games. Tabled, but will try it in 1st 2 preseason games 2. Move kickoffs to the 40-yard line. Failed 3. Like the NBA & NHL, have the game referee in contact with centralized replay officials in New York when he "goes under the hood." Passed 4. Allow teams playing on Thursday night to carry 49 active players over the 46 currently allowed. Tabled 5. Increase the size of practice squads from 8 players to 10. Tabled 6. Affix 6 permanent cameras to cover both sidelines, both goal lines & both end lines for replay purposes. Tabled 7. Raise the goalpost uprights another 5-feet in height. Passed 8. Move kicking extra points to the 25, 2-point conversion attempt to remain at the 3. Tabled, but will move kicked extra points back to the 20-yard line in preseason. 9. Allow trades anytime from the end of the season until October 31st. Currently trading between teams isn't allowed until the start of the new season. Failed 10.Only one cut down, from 90-man roster to 53, eliminating the cut to 75. Failed 11.Allow more than one player to go on injured reserved & be brought back to the active roster after a minimum of 6-weeks. Number undetermined but no more than 3. Failed 12.Teams with a retractable roof may open/close the roof at halftime due to weather changes. Before it had to stay whereit was before kickoff. Tabled 13."Roll up blocks no longer permitted on the side of the leg. Last season roll up blocks to the back of the leg was outlawed. This proposition was voted on & passed this morning at the NFL coaches meetings in Orlando. Passed 14.No more dunking the ball over the crossbar. Really? This is a BFD? Passed
I'm in favor of all but #14 & #12, as with non-domed stadiums, the players & field should be at the mercy of the elements. I hate domed football, always have & retractable domes want more of an edge? Nope. On the issue of bringing back players on I.R., I think two is the right number. I think we'll see a narrowing of the uprights within five years, the 86.6% success rate for field goal kicking makes it nearly a sure thing, especially inside the 40-yard line.
Once again Bill Belichick & his practices will go under the microscope. Former players Brandon Spikes & Aqib Talib have stated their former coach frequently falsified the weekly injury reports. He didn't give proper descriptions when they really were injured & sometimes he put them on the injury list when they were perfectly healthy according to Spikes. This isn't over. Another story out of Foxboro is when DT Vince Wilfork was placed on IR, he cleared out his locker & said he would not be back. Wilfork asked to be traded & has stated repeatedly he will never play for the Pats again. What set him off was after 10-seasons with New England, 5 of them resulting in a Pro Bowl appearance, his contract was set to kick into big money, $7.4 million & Patriot management asked him to restructure his contract & take about 40% less this season. Bill Belichick refuses to answer any questions about Wilfork. Owner Robert Kraft spoke glowingly about Wilfork & said he hoped he would join the other four Patriots-for-life. Brady will make it five but it seems like Vince is headed elsewhere. Tremendous player, great locker room presence. This isn't over either.
Former Chiefs' tackle Eric Winston has been elected president of the players union.
I wonder if Scott Pioli is clinging to some mistaken belief that the draft picks he made while he was the Chiefs' GM were excellent selections. Since becoming Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff's assistant, the Falcons have signed Javier Arenas, Tyson Jackson & Jon Asamoah. They represent the third overall pick in the 2009 draft, a second round pick in 2011 & a third in '10. Ty Jax was a major disappointment & simply put a huge reach that backfired. Coulda, shoulda, woulda? Jackson was rated by most draftniks as somewhere near the 25th best prospect in the 2009 draft. I thought he was a second round prospect. Between the third pick, where Jax was selected & 25th, where he was rated, Kansas City coulda had Eugene Monroe, the Virginia tackle who kept Brandon Albert from playing LT in college. How about Frisco WR Michael Crabtree or Green Bay DE B.J. Raji? They coulda had Washington OLB Brian Orakpo, who has 40 sacks in 5 seasons, or Philly WR Jeremy Maclin or the best center in football, Cleveland's Alex Mack. Then there was Seattle WR & KR Percy Harvin & last but not least, OLB Clay Mattthews of the Packers. He has 50 sacks in 5 seasons. Would any of these guys been a better choice than Ty Jax? Of course they would've. Atlanta is paying Jackson a cool $4.5 million a season too. I'll admit I thought Asamoah would become a consistent starter but he was nicked up too much & he ran hot or cold too often. Arenas never made any impact as a return man, which surprised me. But his inability to cover the slot receiver or even play as a nickel back didn't shock me & his selection in the 2nd round was also a reach. Taken within ten picks after we took Arenas, Dallas all-pro ILB Sean Lee, Pittsburgh OLB Jason Worilds & Former Seahawk, now Lion, WR Golden Tate. The Falcons are desperate for pass rushers & offensive linemen. Maybe their draft will reflect that, because the trio of Chiefs they signed don't offer much hope.
The Browns cut 2012 first round draft pick, quarterback Brandon Weeden. He is now a backup QB for Dallas. Jared Allen spent two days in Dallas but left without a contract. My money is on Seattle signing Allen. A few other high profile signings include Julius Peppers with Green Bay, Antonio Cromartie & Jared Veldheer with Arizona. Former Rams CB Courtland Finnegan is now a Dolphin. What ever happened to Josh Freeman?
The league office will require former Miami guard & Twitter bully Richie Incognito to undergo extensive exams to see if his behavior
The Carolina Panthers lost WR's Steve Smith & Brandon LaFell, major losses both on the field & in the locker room. They were replaced by for Buc Tiquan Underwood & former Steeler Jerricho Cotchery. Underwood has 63 receptions & 6 TD's in his 5-year NFL career. Cotchery has 437 lifetime receptions & 30 scores but will be 32 before the season begins. The younger LaFell has more than double the stats of Underwood & Smith has 5 Pro Bowls, 836 receptions, 12,000+ receiving yards, 67 TD's & is one of the toughest wideouts in the league. He will come to training camp after his 35th birthday but Smith is always in shape & has a lot of tread left on the tires. Cam Newton underwent ankle surgery two weeks ago & will be sidelined for about 4-months, so not much time to work with his new receivers. With Pro Bowl left tackle Jordan Gross retiring, the downgraded wide receivers & Cam's rehab the Panthers return to the playoffs could prove to be very difficult.
Arizona outside linebacker Daryl Washington plead guilty to assault & battery with bodily harm for his public attack on his baby momma. Washington admitted to chocking her & slamming her to the ground so hard, it broke her collarbone, all in a public park. Washington started the season on a 4-game suspension for drugs. He could be sidelined to start this season for violating the league's personal conduct policy. That is if he isn't sentenced to prison, he could be looking at up to 2-years.
The teams with an abundance of cap space, Oakland, Jacksonville & Tampa Bay spent a bunch to shore up their weakest areas. Oakland signed a lot of "name" defensive players, OLB Lamar Woodley, DT Justin Tuck & Charles Woodson, all over 30, all coming off disappointing seasons. They signed Donald Penn & Kevin Boothe, veteran offensive help, both also over 30. Penn was their fall back choice. They signed Roger Saffold to an astronomical contract, more than Brandon Albert, more than Eugene Monroe. I think they got buyer's remorse as two days later the Raiders claimed he didn't pass his physical so back to St. Louis he went, where, by the way, he passed his physical with flying colors. Needing help at WR, they signed former Packer James Jones, a threat when he could stay healthy & also 30. After burning thru draft picks trading for Jason Campbell, Carson Palmer, drafting Terrelle Pryor, Oakland is desperate for a quarterback. So they traded a 6th round pick for Mr. Pick Six, Houston's Matt Schaub, 33 before camp opens. He set an NFL record last year for throwing an interception run back for a touchdown in 4 consecutive games before being benched for the remainder of the season. He threw nine interceptions in 4 games. So the Raiders might be more competitive for a while but they have to draft a whole lot better, especially with the premium picks.
Jacksonville needed defensive line help so they signed a pair of Seattle starters, DE Chris Clemons(a salary cap victim) & Red Bryant. Former Steeler Ziggy Hood signed on as well, glad to return to the 4-3 scheme he's more suited for. They also signed Denver Pro Bowl guard Zane Beadles & Minnesota big back Toby Gerhart.
The Bucs needed O-line starters & they got Green Bay center Evan Dietrich-Smith, Cincinnati tackle Anthony Collins & Cleveland guard Oniel Cousins. Problem is Collins has started just 25 of 59 games & Cousins only nine.
The Jets 3-ring circus continued with the signing of Michael Vick which makes you wonder just how enamored New York management is with last year's #1 pick, Geno Smith? They signed former Bronco Eric Decker who caught 87 passes & 11 TD's. But that was playing with Peyton Manning, not Geno Smith, watch his production slide. By signing Vick, that ensured the end of Mark Sanchez's tenure in New York. But the Jets waited 11-days after free agency opened for business, a crappy way to treat the guy Rex Ryan called his franchise QB over & over. The Eagles & Rams are interested in Sanchez.
The Chiefs lost Geoff Schwartz, Brandon Albert, Jon Asamoah, Akeem Jordan, Kendrick Lewis, Quintin Demps, Dexter McCluster & Jerrell Powe. They signed G Jeff Lickenbach, defensive linemen Cory Grissom & Vance Walker, CB Chris Owens & ILB Joe Mays. Second year man Nico Johnson & Mays will battle for Akeem Jordan's vacated spot. Owens should see extensive nickel play & if Marcus Cooper doesn't work out, Owens could play even more. He's small, but very quick & a superior tackler. Walker is an above average run stopper & Grissom is an above average pass rusher, something the Chiefs' D-line needs. Lickenbach could become Asamoah's replacement, maybe, possibly, hopefully. Andy Reid said today last season's #1 overall pick, tackle Eric Fisher, will be the new left tackle.
In the "Rich get Richer" category, Denver & New England are the big winners in free agency so far. The Broncos signed a load of high profile defensive players, DE DeMarcus Ware, CB Aqib Talib & safety T.J.Ward. They also replaced Eric Decker with former Steeler Emanuel Sanders.
The Pats might have lost Vince Wilfork & Aqib Talib, which is a big deal, but they signed Darrelle Revis & Brandon Browner, two of the league's top-6 corners. They resigned their leading receiver, Julian Edelman & former Panther Brandon LaFell. Bring back TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Danny Amendola & DT Tommy Kelly back from injury & the Pats look as tough as ever.
Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson has passed away at the age of 95. The team's founder was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009. He was a Navy veteran of World War II & a self-made millionaire. In the early days of the AFL, Wilson, Bud Adams & Lamar Hunt loaned millions to other owners to keep them afloat & making payroll. His Bills won AFL championships in 1964 & '65 & had a record 4 consecutive Super Bowl appearances, losing all 4. Jim Kelly had hopes of spearheading a group to buy the team after Wilson's death, but with his health issues, that doesn't seem likely.
The Eagles have been shopping WR DeSean Jackson with no takers because of his $10.75 million salary this season. So he could be released & then we'll see if Andy Reid is interested in one of his more productive players.
Mizzou's pro day was huge for Michael Sam. After running a very disappointing 4.91 at the combine, Sam ripped of a stout 4.67. He jumped 25" in the vertical but improved to 30" & his bench press was 2 reps better. With scouts & coaches from all 32 teams in attendance, it was huge for Sam. Linebacker Andrew Wilson excelled after not being invited to the combine. He most likely moved up from undrafted free agent to the 6th or 7th round. Probable 1st round pick, DE Kony Ealy, stood on his combine workout but did position drills.
Now we're a couple of hours into Day 2 of the NFL free agency frenzy & the high-dollar signings continued. With the release of Tampa cornerback Darrelle Revis, the speculation where he will land & sign began. Strong chance he'll go back to the AFC East, this time with the Patriots. Chiefs' fans are in a panic after losing 5 players yesterday but the got a bone tossed their way. Here's what is happening.
Cleveland cut two of their three quarterbacks, Jason Campbell(1st round pick in '05) & Brandon Weeden(1st round pick last year) leaving them Brian Hoyer, who is recovering from ACL surgery. Look for them to add another QB early on in the draft. I expect to see former Houston RB Ben Tate join the Browns. Cleveland has added some quality players to their defense but the offense is really shaky.
Tampa Bay was forced to cut CB Darrelle Revis due to cap problems. Talk about a misadventure, the Bucs traded a 1st round selection last season & a 4th round pick this season. For that they got 16 games, 50-tackles & a pair of interceptions & now he's gone. Nice work. The coach & GM who masterminded this trade last year have both been fired.
Super Bowl champs Seattle decided they could no longer afford DE Chris Clemons. The 31-year old has racked up double-digit sacks the past three seasons. Jared Allen is a strong contender to replace Clemons.
With Denver's signing of Demarcus Ware, they have invested $60 million in guaranteed money to safety T.J. Ward, CB Aqib Talib & Ware. John Elway has stacked this team with defensive stars & with the returning 5 from injured reserve, they should be more formidable this year. But, this team, as it is right now will vanish the day Peyton Manning retires. Just too expensive. Peyton Manning has the weight of the world on his shoulders, Elway has punched up this roster defensively but I question that strategy. Was it the defense that let them down in the Super Bowl? They only scored 8-points, just sayin'.
News on wide receivers today began with somewhat of a shocker. Detroit signed Seattle WR Golden Tate to pair with Megatron, Calvin Johnson. His 5-year deal was sorta surprising as well. Former Bronco Eric Decker has been in New York City all day talking with the Jets. The Panthers will say goodbye to WR Steve Smith. The tough guy has decided to move on, his 836 receptions & 6 TD's will get the 34=year old another contract.
Kansas City has signed a pair of free agents & both fill needs. ILB Joe Mays is coming to KC with a reputation of cracking receivers over the middle. he was fined for hitting Houston QB Matt Schaub so hard he lost part of his ear. Mays is a two-down run stuffer was a draft choice of Andy Reid's Eagles in '08. the 5' 11" 245 pound thumper makes his presence known each & every Sunday. GM John Dorsey also signed G-T swingman Jeff Linkenbach away from Indy. He came into the league in 2010, playing in 60 games & starting 33 of them. He's a load, 6' 6" 325.
Chiefs fans should relax. Free agency is for filling the depth chart. at least that's the way Dorsey, Green Bay's Ted Thompson & Bill Polian see it. Polian's Colts won ten or more games 11 of 12 seasons & won 9 playoff games & a Super Bowl while signing one starting free agent, placekicker Adam Vinitieri. During John Dorsey's stay in Green Bay, his bosses Ted Thompson & Ron Wolfe won ten or more games 11 of 18 seasons, 15 playoff games & 2 Super Bowl Championships. These guys believe in drafting well & then resigning these players to their second contracts. The Broncos have gone "all in" as they say in Texas Hold Em, if this team doesn't win this year, Denver fans had better prepare for a number of lean years. They're trying to win before owner Pat Bolden no longer knows what is transpiring due to Alzheimer's & before Peyton Manning retires. It will be interesting.
As 4PM ET came & went, with $133 million in cap money to spend, the dollars began changing hands like it was Monopoly money. The Chiefs lost five players in the first 90-minutes, All-Pro players were released or traded & it appears the Denver Broncos are stockpiling defensive talent in an effort to not only make it back to the Super Bowl before Peyton Manning hangs it up, but by signing so many players they can't afford in three years, they want to win the next Super Bowl. Not 2016, next February, no more excuses, no more blowouts. So much to talk about, let's get to it.
I'll start with the Falcons. First thing they did was cut tight end Tony Gonzalez, who will be in the studio for CBS next season. He hadn't filed his retirement papers & with the 2014 season officially starting this afternoon, Tony G. was due a roster bonus. He didn't retire so they had to cut him to save the club a cool $200,000. Atlanta needed to rebuild both lines as both were miserable. They were also desperate for a pass rusher. They resigned DT Jonathan Babineaux & added former Miami NT Paul Solai & Pioli Bust Tyson Jackson. Scott Pioli is now the assistant GM to the guy, Thomas Dimitroff, who used to be his assistant in New England. Ty Jax took home some $30+ million from the Chiefs & Atlanta throws him a 5-year deal for $25 mil. Really? Solai is getting something in the neighborhood of $40 million. So all told, counting Babineaux, the Falcons spent over $75 million on three guys who have 36.5 sacks between them in 21 seasons. They still don't have their pass rusher. To bolster their O-Line, the Falcons agreed to terms with former Chief right guard Jon Asamoah. Atlanta had over $26 million in 2014 cap space & honestly, I don't like how they spent their money.
The 49ers went a few garage sales, looking for a deal. They traded a 7th round draft pick for 2011 first rounder, offensive tackle Jonathan Martin. Yup, he's the guy that claimed bullying, but he's back with one of his college head coaches, Jim Harbaugh. Just a few minutes later, San Francisco traded a 6th round selection for another first rounder, former Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert. I knew someone would grab this pair & try to straighten them out, there was a reason they were first round picks. Since neither will be under any pressure to start this season, they could come up big in 2015.
Denver, wow, John Elway was wheelin' & dealin'. He got rid of Champ Bailey's cap money by releasing him before the free agency period began. He signed corner Aqib Talib to a 6-year deal to take his spot. Advantage Elway if......a guy who failed multiple drug tests at Kansas & two more since entering the NFL can stay clean in a state that just legalized pot. Elway also signed former Cleveland safety T. J. Ward. Another upgrade by Elway. They lost starting guard Zane Beadles to Jacksonville so Elway will need to find an equal talent when it comes to pass blocking if he's to stand in front of Peyton Manning.
The Dolphins, looking to replace Martin, signed former Chief 1st round left tackle, Brandon Albert. Ravens DT Arthur Jones went to the Colts while the Sants took a chance on the oft-injured safety, Jarius Byrd with a 6-year deal. Chief's punt returner & slot receiver, Dexter McCluster signed a 3-year deal with over $10 million in guaranteed money with the Titans. The Raiders, Buccaneers & Browns made numerous moves, but none of the blockbuster type.
If you were keepin' score, Kansas City lost two #1 draft picks(Albert & Jackson), two 2nd round picks(McCluster & Asamoah) & a 2013 free agent, Geoff Schwartz. Losing Asamoah wasn't that big a deal IMO, but losing him AND Schwartz was major. The league's youngest offensive line just got younger. The four remaining starters have a total of 8-years of experience. That could be a major problem for Jamaal Charles & QB Alex Smith. The draft, minus a 2nd round choice for Alex Smith(worth every penny) will need to come up huge now. Next year the Chiefs should receive compensatory picks for all five free agents. GM John Dorsey doesn't get too excited during the free agent period, he's a Green Bay guy. The only big time F/A signed by the Packers in the past 20-years was DE Reggie White & they went to a pair of Super Bowls with him. I'm afraid we got spoiled by the unbelievable turnaround year last season, I don't see any way they repeat the 11-win wildcard playoff season. I think we're easily two more seasons away from another playoff game. And let's not forget Manning should be gone by then & Elway will break up his cap-busting team.
Demarcus Ware & Jared Allen may visit with Elway on Wednesday, either would be a huge boost to their pass rush. Also out there, Green Bay DT B.J.Raji, Philly QB Michael Vick, New England 100-catch receiver Julian Edelman, Denver corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Pittsburgh WR Emanuel Sanders, Denver WR Eric Decker, Raven tackle Michael Oher & Chicago DE Julius Peppers. Saints RB Darren Sproles will be traded early on Wednesday & Tampa Bay will release All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis. Don't look for the Chiefs to move on any of these free agents, it's just not their style.
Well it has finally come, my release date. I will be going home for the first time since June 27th. I am completely pain-free & day by day I get stronger & improve my stamina. Balance & stability still a long way from my old self but they will return with the 3-4 months of rehab I am facing.
All day & evening I've been saying goodbyes to all the people who have put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Had a couple of emotional sendoffs with my primary day shift nurse & primary swing shift nurse. These two women, along with 5-6 others, held me together when I was coming apart at the seams & elsewhere. Tomorrow I say goodbye to my physical & occupational therapists. This will be especially tough since all four are so good at their jobs plus two of them are funny as hell. We're still working with our insurance company to allow me to do my out patient work here.
I think this 8 1/2 month ordeal has been as tough on Linda as it has been on me. She visited every single day, bringing Bear, until last weekend when we got a lot of sleet, snow & ice. She has been a rock & it will be wonderful to return home to begin spending our retirement together & not in hospitals & extended care facilities.
Now Bear won't be totally happy with my discharge, he is a huge hit here with the staff & many of the patients. He comes nearly everyday & has become the mascot around here. We promised to visit 2-3 times a month so Bear can be reunited with his adoring public.
I'm going to try to watch the Senior Bowl practices & game plus the combine by this time next week With free agency coming in less than 2-weeks, I have a helluva lot of film to watch. After the first week of free agency, building my draft board will come next. I will tell you I wish the Chiefs had the second round draft pick they traded for Alex Smith. This is a very deep draft, especially at two of the positions K.C. needs most, wide receiver & defensive backs. We better hope the league awards us a 3rd round selection in the form of a compensatory pick for losing Brandon Carr to Dallas in free agency. Having a pair of 3rd round selections would help immensely. There are 4-5 major questions about our Chiefs before we even get to the draft. We'll talk about them next week as time allows. We'll talk again very soon. Really glad to be back, this time to stay.