Tag:The Daily Shoutout
Posted on: June 3, 2011 9:13 am

The Daily Shoutout

The owners are making them in their talks with the players and it's this fact, I'm told, that has allowed the two sides to make so much progress, so quickly (in addition to the lawyers having their asses kicked out of the room). No one will say exactly what the concessions are but significant ones have been made and the players believe they are genuine. My highly educated guess: one of them is the owners continuing to come down significantly from their original demand of taking another $1 billion off the top of player earnings. The players always believed this was an outrageous demand and the players were right.

The players are in turn making concessions of their own so the standoff has become a negotiation, a settlement discussion. In the end, both sides will be unhappy with the deal which means it'll be a fair one.

ROBERT KRAFT: People familiar with the negotiations say he has become one of the stars and has been a highly calming presence.

MAD MEN: Don't know why but these labor talks reminds me of this show.


Yes, these coaches are being pressured by owners to say these things.

See you Monday.

Category: NFL
Posted on: June 2, 2011 9:54 am

The Daily Shoutout

HOPE: That is a word that's being used repeatedly on Thursday by officials from both the owner and player side. When both are speaking the same language there's likely some progress being made. And that's what's happening. Progress is being made. Not PR progress. Not phony progress. Serious progress in ending this nasty and protracted battle, I'm told by multiple sources.

This doesn't mean a deal is imminent but as one high ranking member of the trade association said to me via text: "This is the first time in many months I feel like we're headed in the right direction."

They still may not get an agreement for months to come but this is the most hopeful I've heard many of the key players in this battle be in quite some time.

This is why. I've been able to confirm that owners and members of the trade association have had (not so) secret meetings in Chicago this week.

But there's another caveat that hasn't been reported until now and it's the most interesting aspect. Both Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith have been asked repeatedly by their respective constituents to make sure no games are missed. I'm told more reasonable owners who also have more to lose (Robert Kraft and Jerry Jones among them) have been able to quell more hard line owners and convince trade association officials that owners are sincere in getting something done.

Meanwhile, Smith has been approached by players, I'm told, that now is a prime opportunity to get a deal done. Smith has also become more open to talking since the 8th circuit setback a few weeks ago.

So, rather organically and individually, cooler heads are prevailing on both sides.

Does a deal get done now? No way. But, again, I'm told progress is being made. Let's be clear, however. Things are still contentious. This could all break down any moment.

Still, both sides say there's hope, and when is the last time you heard that word.

Category: NFL
Posted on: May 31, 2011 8:03 am

The Daily Shoutout

100 DAYS: That's when the regular season officially begins. Some one...hundred...days. The Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers are supposed to play the former champion New Orleans Saints on September 8. It's both plenty of time to get a deal done but also not a lot of time. Think of this as a 100-day lockout checkup. Will that game be played? My estimate remains yes, it will. But it's not as confident a yes as it once was. I've always maintained the sport would return in late July and into August and no regular season games would be missed. That prediction still looks valid but with the 100-day mark now here it's getting dicey. If the players win the lockout case before the 8th circuit, we'll have football immediately. If the players lose, we'll be pushing it.

So basically as 100 days until the season opener is here, we wait. And wait. And cross our fingers.

TONY DUNGY: Keep that name in mind for the Ohio State job. He'd be a great hire. The Buckeyes could hire a guy with a Super Bowl ring who has a reputation as one of the cleanest and most sincere men in all of sports. Dungy could clean up the corrupt Ohio State program and win a bunch of games in the process. Not bad.

Category: NFL
Posted on: May 30, 2011 9:46 am

The Daily Shoutout

JON GRUDEN AND OHIO STATE: There's one name already bouncing around the NFL as a possible long-term Tressel replacement: Jon Gruden.

That name isn't a shock, of course. Gruden will be linked to many big-time coaching openings, in college and the pros. But over the past few months, and before Tressel was kicked out on his ass, Gruden told more than a few people he was antsy and desired a return to coaching. One assistant told me Gruden hasn't been shy about it, either. Indeed, Gruden and Ohio State would be a perfect fit (though Urban Meyer might even be more perfect). Expect the usual Gruden denial to the Ohio State speculation but don't believe it for a second. Repeat: don't believe it. He'd listen and take it if offered. And Gruden coaching at Ohio State in 2012 would be perfect timing. 

As for Tressel, the NFL has always been fascinated with him. Infatuated might be a better word. You're always interested in something you can't have. "I always wondered why he never tried to be a head coach in the pros," one NFL assistant told me Monday morning in light of Tressel's resignation from Ohio State. That was the infatuation. He was one of a handful of great college coaches who was able to turn his back on the NFL. Even historical greats like Bobby Bowden at least flirted with the NFL.

Meyer might be the front-runner for the position but if you listen to NFL types, with their own sources and agendas, granted, Gruden is in the mix as well. We'll see.

Thank you to all of our soldiers stationed around the world.

See you Tuesday.
Category: NFL
Posted on: May 27, 2011 7:22 am
Edited on: May 27, 2011 11:32 am

The Daily Shoutout

Tiki Barber:
He's always been a brilliant idiot. Easily one of the most intelligent people I've covered and also one of the more tone deaf. It's not a stunner that he made some truly insensitive comments in an interview with Sports Illustrated in which he compared himself to Anne Frank. And, in a nutshell, that's Barber. So much good, and so much phony. When in New York, he was always vastly underrated as a player. I covered Barber for most of his career and he remains one of the most versatile backs I've seen. He was also among the most arrogant. Most Giants players hated Barber. I mean, hated him. They thought he was a pompous putz on a lifelong journey to show the world he was smarter than most of his football peers. He worked some members of the New York media (and by worked, I mean suckered) into them portraying him as a combination of Jim Brown, Walter Cronkite and Marlon Brando.

Instances like this one were the reason why he was so disliked. Frank died in a concentration camp as a teenager after hiding from the Nazis for two years. I'm trying to think how a football player who cheated on his pregnant wife compares to a victim of the Nazis. Nothing comes to mind. Maybe it will later. There are a few things athletes should never do: compare themselves to slaves or victims of the Holocaust.

As for Barber, my guess is, his comeback will have moderate success. Barber always had a lot of heart. He was tough and he didn't leave the game because he was physically battered. Barber left because he thought he was on his way to one day host the CBS Evening News. He'll catch on somewhere and one day, I bet, he'll compare himself to Martin Luther King.

See you Monday.

Category: NFL
Posted on: May 26, 2011 7:50 am

The Daily Shoutout

MARK CUBAN: I'm in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area and today here, as you might expect, it's Maverick crazed. The local television news is leading with Dallas reaching the NBA Finals and the newspapers are having a Maverick orgasm. Understand why. This is the second time the Mavericks have reached the championship game and the franchise has become one of the more successful in the NBA. This leads to a natural comparison to the biggest sports franchise here, the Dallas Cowboys, specifically, Cuban versus Jerry Jones.

The comparison is in some ways unfair but it's also unavoidable. Love Cuban or hate him -- and David Stern does, hate him, that is -- Cuban is the most successful owner in this city. Jones gets the headlines and stadiums but it's Cuban who has had both financial success and winning. The latter has escaped Jones since the departure of Jimmy Johnson.

This is why one owner has been a success on the field and the other has not:

1. Free agents. Some of this is luck but when when Cuban signed an aging Jason Kidd, many didn't think it would work. An old ass Kidd has been mostly brilliant. Jones, post Johnson and Deion Sanders, has been unable to find those few great free agents that turn around a franchise.

2. In the Jones era, post Johnson, who is the Cowboys' Dirk Nowitzki? It should be Tony Romo but Romo has been a mostly static player.

3. Coaching. Cuban hasn't been an uber-meddler with his staff. Or, at least, he hasn't been the meddler Jones has become. I think this has been a very underrated yet destructive problem with the Cowboys. The Mavericks haven't had that issue and it's benefitted them.

Again, in some ways, the comparison isn't fair. An NBA team is totally different from an NFL one but there are still some things Jones could learn from Cuban.

THANKS BUT NO THANKS: Quick note on Washington running back Clinton Portis. Portis says he wants to play fof the New York Giants. Why would the Giants want an aging, cross dressing runner when they already have plenty. Of runners. Not cross dressers.

See you Friday.

Category: NFL
Posted on: May 25, 2011 8:04 am

The Daily Shoutout

AGENTS BLEEDING CASH? We know players could be losing gobs of money because of the lockout. Owners will lose money as well though billionaires will feel the pinch a lot less. One group I continue to be told that are injured as much as any other are agents. One of the highest profile agents in the NFL gave me this estimate: some 85 of the top 100 agents have already lost significant cash because of the lockout. Depending on the lockout's severity those 85 agents as a whole could lose anywhere from $5 to $20 million. No, don't feel sorry for agents. They'll be fine (most will, anyway). But they continue to be as crushed by this mess as any other group.


CAMERA SHY: It's going to be Dallas-Miami in the NBA Finals. Somewhere, Jerry Jones is wondering where to hold his first press conference.
NEVER: Ever, never, ever will NFL owners allow Rush Limbaugh to own an NFL team. Never. Ever.


See you Thursday.

Category: NFL
Posted on: May 24, 2011 8:53 am

The Daily Shoutout

ANGER: I'm told by various players the anger and distrust continues to build at an almost exponential rate. It's not at an all-time high and won't be unless (until?) game checks are missed. But it's bad. Lots of cursing on phone calls and "(expletive deleted) the owners" in texts to me. I haven't heard such raw talk yet in this fight. For me, at least, this was a threshold crossed. I've heard anger from players but not raw disgust.

Players have expressed privately what Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu recently said publicly: their fight is about battling big corporations. "A lot of people think it’s millionaires versus billionaires and that’s the huge argument," Polamalu said according to one report. "The fact is its people fighting against big business. The big business argument is ‘I got the money and I got the power therefore I can tell you what to do.’ That’s life everywhere. I think this is a time when the football players are standing up and saying, ‘No, no, no, the people have the power.’”

Now, that is a stretch of an argument and fans will also find it difficult to co-habitate with the mindset players are like cops and firemen fighting to save their jobs. But that is the belief more than a few players possess.

I saw that Jeff Pash, legue attorney, and the owners, at the meetings in Indianapolis, continued to say it is time to meet at the negotiating table. Um, Mr. Pash, that isn't happening. Not any time soon, at least. Charlie Sheen will become NFL commissioner before that happens. The players don't trust the owners and they won't sit down and talk until they have to. In the meantime, they stew. And wait.

LATER, ROOKIES: I've confirmed the NFL plans to cancel its rookie symposium for this year. This isn't a shock. It was always going to if no deal was reached. It's unfortunate since the symposium is a valuable tool to help young players transition into the NFL life. I've covered two of them and actually spoke at one. I'd say the symposium is one of the most valuable assets the league possesses. The good news: once a new deal is reached (if?) the symposium will be back.

DISGRACEFUL: I have not been able to confirm a report from ProFootballTalk.com that the Baltimore Ravens slashed non-player pay by one-quarter. I believe the report, though, and I think we're going to see a number of teams do this as the lockout drags on.

See you Wednesday.


Category: NFL
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