Posted on: October 13, 2011 8:45 am
OPENING HIT: A crucial step in the NFL's attempt to have HGH testing in its league could happen Friday morning in Washington.
Recently leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee called for a meeting with leaders from the NFL and union for an update on the status of HGH testing. That meeting is expected to take place on Friday, I've been told by several sources.
The chair of the committee, Darrell Issa, and Elijah Cummings, the ranking member, invited Commissioner Roger Goodell and union head DeMaurice Smith. The meeting is expected to take place in Issa's office.
Many of the top officials from the NFL and union are expected to attend.
This meeting is potentially a big deal. It could be the spark -- or rather the politicial shove -- to finally push both sides to an agreement.
The NFL and its union agreed to start testing for HGH as part of the new collective bargaining agreement. Both sides want it but union officials have expressed to me in the past they fear the test is too intrusive and not reliable. The league vehemently disputes that saying the test is practical and works.
What helped the NFL's case was a stunning endorsement of the HGH testing system in a letter to the league from dozens of scientists. It's pretty convincing stuff and will be a major PR and practical help to the league as it continues to make its case.
I don't know when there will finally be HGH testing. I still think it begins next season but this meeting in Washington is the kind of move that can dramatically speed things up.
Posted on: October 12, 2011 12:27 pm
I believe the Jets when they say a videographer on the sidelines of the Jets-Patriots game was operating within league rules. I believe it. I believe them. But new video from a reader who goes by Billy Spikes will no doubt get the conspiracy theorists going.
Here's the video. First, understand that from the opening aerial look in the video, the Jets sideline is to the right. Later, the cameraman is clearly towards the center of the field, near the coaches, but in the initial part of the video he is aiming the camera towards the Patriots team and bench.
Several things here. I'm sure the Jets will say he's not aiming in that direction. He's shooting the Jets or if he was shooting at the Patriots players or sideline it wasn't for nefarious reasons. They may also say: who in the hell do you think you are Freeman, Steven Spielberg, how in the hell can you tell where the cameraman is shooting?
All well and good. All fair. But it looks -- in my opinion -- like the cameraman is filming the Patriots sideline.
No, this isn't definitive proof. But it is damn suspicious.
I'll let you be the judge.
(Thanks to Billy Spikes, Twitter handle Spikesh37.)
Posted on: October 12, 2011 8:59 am
Edited on: October 12, 2011 9:01 am
OPENING HIT: Now, part of what LeBron James did in inquiring about the deadline for a free agent to sign was James being James: an attention w----. That's what he does. James framed the question to make people think he was interested in playing in the NFL. He never will. It will never happen. James was a very good player in high school but he would never risk his trillions of dollars from the NBA for a real job. So, there's that.
Still, I wanted to explore just how good James would be in football. I've written elsewhere there are some personnel men who believe James would be a Pro Bowler at tight end in two to three years a fact I find extremely difficult to believe. But there are league people drooling over the idea of James playing football.
It would be a disaster because of the contact. It's been a while since James was hit and the last time that happened was in high school for him. And don't give me the NBA is physical. The only thing that rivals the NFL in terms of physicality are the fighting sports.
There's also the problem of blocking. If James played tight end he'd have to do the dirty work of trying to knock guys into the dirt. I don't see James possessing the grit to do that.
The biggest reason proponents say it could work is because of his athleticism. Can't argue with that. James would instantly be one of the top five athletes in the NFL. He's quick, strong and agile. He's a better athlete than Gates or Gonzalez--the latter is a definite Hall of Famer the former a close call.
Then again, this is all speculative, because James doesn't possess the guts to really try such a thing, despite his teasing tweet.
Posted on: October 11, 2011 10:16 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2011 10:44 pm
I wrote after the Jets-Patriots game, after Derrick Mason was basically benched, the Jets would either keep benching Mason or cut him altogether. I didn't mention the other option: a trade.
I've confirmed a Houston Chronicle report that Mason was traded from the Jets to Houston. I've been told it's a low round pick. The newspaper reported it was a conditional pick.
This move has some interesting ramifications:
1. Is Andre Johnson's hamstring healing slower than expected? Or are the Texans simply looking for more depth? Maybe it's a combination of the two.
2. Rex Ryan is making a statement to his team. And I don't care if he says publicly Mason was benched to get other players reps. No way. Mason was sent packing because he publicly complained about the offense.
3. Mason is actually in a better place. He goes to an offense light years ahead of New York's.
4. Mason may have failed with the Jets but I get the feeling he'll do pretty well with the Texans.
Posted on: October 11, 2011 10:17 am
Edited on: October 11, 2011 11:06 am
This isn't about Tim Tebow hate, as the myriad of unreasonable Tebow supporters will say. This isn't about Gator hate, either. Or about Tebow's faith. Or any of the other ridiculous excuses Tebow supporters predictably trot out.
This is about facts: Tim Tebow isn't an NFL quarterback. Not yet, at least, and if he starts this week -- and I've spoken to a source on the team who confirmed the coaching staff has informed players on the Broncos it will likely be Tebow -- it will be officially the beginning of the end of Tebow.
Tebow is one of the most unprepared quarterbacks for this moment I've ever seen and the Broncos will be doing him a great disservice simply because he doesn't have the tools to play the position. I'm not saying he'll never have them but he doesn't now. Not even close.
Throw Tebow out there as a starter at this moment and disaster awaits.
The biggest problem is how John Fox and the organization totally caved to fan pressure. That is never a good sign for a coaching regime.
Again, this isn't personal, as so many of his supporters always claim. It's just the way it is.
Tim Tebow plays hard. Well, hell, all players in the NFL play hard. But nothing can fix what will be the main problem for Tebow and that's throwing accuracy. An NFL offense doesn't exist on bootlegs alone.
Good luck to Tebow.
He's gonna' need it.
Posted on: October 10, 2011 8:37 am
OPENING HIT: I've always liked Derrick Mason: good player, good guy, but he's a yapper. There's no question about that. I don't know if the story about Mason, Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes bypassing the offensive coordinator and complaining about the offense is accurate or not but I do know that entering the game Mason was in already trouble with the coaching staff.
Mason was critical of the team's offense after the humiliating loss to Baltimore citing "cracks" in it and that didn't sit well with coach Rex Ryan, I'm told. He was benched for most of the contest against the Patriots. My guess: he might stay benched or the Jets could dump him altogether.
Mason has actually had a splendid and vastly underrated career but he's not used to being on the bottom of the receiving totem pole and he's a third or even fourth option on offense.
He had just one catch against New England but it was enough to make Mason only the 18th player in NFL history with at least 12,000 receiving yards. That's a pretty solid accomplishment and an indicator of his abilities.
But his career with the Jets might be coming to an end or at the very least Mason might see his playing time thinned even more.
Posted on: October 8, 2011 10:36 am
The first time I met Al Davis was the early 1990s. I had just started covering the NFL and asked for an interview. He had refused for months and then granted a brief one. Some of the first words out of his mouth were these: "Don't believe every lie the league office says about me."
For much of his brilliant, chaotic and unreal life, Al Davis was at war. He fought commissioners. He fought other owners. He fought cities. He tussled with mayors and politicians and his own players. He earned a reputation as a crazy man.
But for those of you who don't know, do not let that deter from what Davis did. The NFL you see today? The multi-billion dollar league? The great league? The biggest, the baddest? Al Davis helped to build it. In many ways, it can be argued, few were bigger at making the sport what it is now.
He modernized the passing game. He made marketing a part of being an owner. He hired minorities to be coaches when other owners refused.
Al Davis was, in short, a brilliant man.
Never forget that. Never, ever forget that.
Posted on: October 7, 2011 12:10 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2011 12:19 pm
This is the claim in a very interesting story posted on the Pro Player Insider site.
The core part of the story is this: "According to our sources, the league recently informed the NFL teams that they will no longer be allowed to either fund or supply any supplements that are not specified in the NFL’s agreement with Gatorade. The change in policy went into effect this season (prior to the end of the lockout) and follows the signing of an extension of the sponsorship agreement between the NFL and Pepsi, including Pepsi’s Gatorade brand. Last month, the NFL announced a 10-year extension of the relationship between PepsiCo brands and the NFL, extending through the end of the 2022 NFL playoffs. According to the Wall Street Journal, the deal could ultimately be valued at $2.3 billion, making it one of the largest sponsorships in the history of U.S. sports."
The story goes on to quote a nutrition expert saying that Gatorade products fail to supply “Omega 3 [fish oil] a source for concussion vulnerability and anti-inflammatory; vitamin D sources for our low vitamin D athletes, especially minority athletes; a sugar-free, low carb protein source for our pre-diabetic athletes, which we have a bunch of in our big lineman population.”
The most interesting part? One major concern is that athletes may go retail to get these supplements, thus escalating their risk of getting tainted products that could trigger a failed drug test.