When referees go under the hood for challenges next season, they might get to consult officiating czar Dean Blandino in the league office ... plus, more agenda items for next week’s league meetings (playoff expansion by 2015!) and how free agency has transformed the NFL’s middle class

Jeff Haynes for Sports Illustrated/The MMQB
Changes to the challenge system, however, wouldn’t rise to the level of centralized replay. (Jeff Haynes for Sports Illustrated/The MMQB)

Time to take a breath. We’ll eventually get to the rise of the NFL’s middle class in the league’s 22nd year of free agency, spurred by $665 million guaranteed to players in the first six days of the open market, and the $1.52 billion in paper contracts for 128 players.

But you’ve been pounded over the head with that for a week. So let’s take a quick detour and look at the hot-button issues the Competition Committee has pored over in advance of the annual league meetings. There are four issues that will draw significant attention when owners, club executives and coaches begin meeting six days from now in Orlando:

Gary Bogdon for SI/The MMQB and Zach Bolinger/Icon SMI
Essentially over before they even begin, point-afters will be discussed at the NFL meetings next week in Orlando. (Gary Bogdon for SI/The MMQB and Zach Bolinger/Icon SMI)

The point-after. No change for this year, and I doubt anything will change for several years, because there’s no momentum to make a change despite the fact that just one PAT is missed every 43 games. During one preseason weekend, however, the owners may consider moving the PAT line of scrimmage to the 25-yard line, or employing what I’d call the Goodell Proposal: eliminating the PAT and giving seven points for a touchdown, while allowing teams to go for two but getting only six points if the conversion fails.

Playoff expansion. I’m hearing it’s probably a matter of when, not if. More likely than not, the league will add two playoff teams in time for the 2015 season, meaning 14 playoff teams (instead of the current 12) out of 32. I’m also hearing the league would be inclined toward one team in each conference getting a first-week bye in the postseason. That would mean matchups of two versus seven seeds, three versus six, and four versus five in the wild-card round. This, of course, would mean six wild-card games instead of four, with at least one of them likely moving to Monday night.

Unfair to have teams play Monday night? I don’t see it, though I’m not a fan of playoff expansion because I think it devalues the 17 weeks of the regular season. Currently, the four teams playing on the Saturday of wild-card weekend have a short week going into the game. Often, teams that play on wild-card Sunday have to play on the following Saturday. I’m certain the NFL would arrange the schedule so that a Monday winner wouldn’t play its divisional game until the following Sunday.

Officiating changes. No movement is expected on creating centralized replay at the league’s officiating control center, but I’m hearing that owners will discuss and consider—and that’s the word I keep hearing, consider—allowing league officiating czar Dean Blandino to consult on replays while the referee is determining whether to uphold or overturn the call. This wouldn’t be a cure-all for bad replay decisions, but it would be a safety valve to help prevent horrible calls like the one Jeff Triplette mauled in Cincinnati last season, when he awarded Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis a touchdown even though he appeared to be down shy of the goal line in the replay.

Using the N-word on the field. There won’t be a rule change mandating a flag if an official hears the N-word. But officials will have the right to penalize verbal abuse, whether it be a player using a racist term or directing other foul language at either opponents or officials. There’s a feeling that the league wants to promote more respect on the field, but outlawing one word is too slippery a slope.

Now on to the other news of the week.

The NFL’s new middle class

Jeff Haynes for The MMQB
Now a Buc, Josh McCown had a career-high 66.5 completion rate for the Bears last season. (Jeff Haynes for SI/The MMQB)

After three years of a stalled market, free agency finally works. When I see free agency this year, I see it working the way it was meant to work when the league implemented it before the 1993 season. If a player is stuck behind a good player somewhere, he can move and start somewhere else. And if a player thinks he’s undervalued and his contract is up, well, he can move too.

Wesley Woodyard got replaced in Denver at middle linebacker by Danny Trevathan; Tennessee signed Woodyard to start in the middle for four years and $16 million. Geoff Schwartz was a backup tackle and guard in Kansas City; the Giants got him for $4.2 million a year, probably to start at guard. Cincinnati started Anthony Collins at left tackle for eight games last year and he performed well; Tampa Bay signed him for five years and $30 million. Josh McCown would have been only an insurance policy in Chicago, but he has a shot to be the starting quarterback in Tampa—and he’ll make between $5 million and $7.5 million a year, depending how much and how well he plays.

The cap went up $10 million per team this year, and the new CBA mandates that each team must spend at least 89% of its cap between 2013 and 2016, meaning if teams don’t spend close to the max, then the union will spend it for them in penalties come 2017.

“The extra cap money this year is allowing teams like Tampa to spend for players like me and Anthony Collins,’’ McCown told me. “Now, with the minimum spending rules, owners have to spend and it looks like the money is flowing back to the middle class.”

As one club executive told me over the weekend, the real win for the players in the 2011 CBA won’t be the increase in the cap over the next few years—it should expand by at least another $10 million next season—but rather the minimum spending rules. In past years, owners had a salary cap, but many didn’t spend anywhere near it. Now they have to.

John Biever/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB
The erstwhile tackle Jared Veldheer (r.) battling Julius Peppers in a 2010 preseason game just four months after the Raiders drafted him in the third round. (John Biever/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB)

Raiders of the Lost Tackles

The Raiders would like to build like the Packers, but they can’t. When Oakland hired Reggie McKenzie to be its general manager in 2012, he wanted to build the team in the image he knew best after spending 18 years in the Midwest—the Green Bay Way. Draft and develop, spend money on your own players.

In the last 13 months, the Raiders have lost three of their top draftees from recent years: defensive tackle Desmond Bryant, pass rusher Lamarr Houston, and left tackle Jared Veldheer. Oakland lost Bryant last year because of the cap crunch. The Raiders lost Houston and Veldheer this year because McKenzie didn’t want to pay market value for them.

In the case of Veldheer, it could turn into a terrible mistake, because the Raiders are without a left tackle after the Rodger Saffold debacle. If they choose to draft a very good one with the fifth overall pick this year, then that means one less potential franchise player because they erred so badly in free agency.

Jeff Roberson/AP
Rodger Saffold, who just got done benching 400 pounds, has a shoulder injury that requires surgery, according to the Raiders.  (Jeff Roberson/AP)

You’ve heard the story by now: Oakland thought Veldheer wanted too much money to be the left tackle and saw him more as a right tackle. And so the Raiders let him go and signed Saffold, a player St. Louis was demoting from tackle to guard (though the Rams liked Saffold a lot at guard.) You won’t find many personnel people in the league who value Saffold over Veldheer. But the Raiders agreed to pay Saffold an average of $8.5 million a year during the pre-free agency negotiating period. Veldheer ended up getting $7 million a year to play left tackle for the Cardinals.

When Saffold flew to Oakland for the required physical last Wednesday—accompanied by his parents and two agents—it seemed to be the same formality as any other pre-signing physical. “Rodger said the doctor told him he was OK, fine, no problem,’’ one of the agents, Alan Herman, said on Sunday. “That afternoon, the Raiders told us he failed the physical, [that he] had a tear in his labrum and needed immediate surgery.’’

Saffold injured his shoulder last August, sat a week, and then played the season with the injury. After the season, the Rams told him they didn’t think he needed surgery—and keeping Saffold was one of St. Louis’ top priorities in free agency.

Herman consulted with Dr. Frank Cordasco, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, and had him examine Saffold. Says Herman, “He told me, ‘He doesn’t need surgery. There is no problem with Rodger Saffold.’ ”

The Raiders wouldn’t make McKenzie available to me, so I couldn’t ask him about the prevailing view around the league: that Oakland got cold feet when the team saw the intense criticism of Saffold’s contract. “Buyer’s remorse?’’ says Herman. “Who knows? All I know is his shoulder is fine. He told us he just benched 400 pounds working out.’’

The Rams took Saffold back, happily, at a reduced price. And the Raiders had to settle for Jets right tackle Austin Howard, plus a mélange of vets on defense (Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, Tarell Brown) who were seeking homes after being dissed or cut by their teams.

Not the way Oakland wanted free agency to go. Not at all.

I still don’t get the Revis thing

The Patriots fell out of a tree and landed on their feet by getting cornerback Darrelle Revis, a transcendent talent at one of the most important positions in football. Lucky that the Bucs cut him, the Patriots pounced and signed Revis for a year and $12 million—though the deal was dressed up as two years and $32 million.

Advantage, Belichick

A day after the Broncos signed Aqib Talib, the Patriots returned serve by acquiring the best cornerback in football. Greg A. Bedard considers all the implications as Revis Island gets a new zip code. FULL STORY

The Buccaneers cut Revis because he isn’t a great scheme-fit for the Tampa 2 defense, in which corners must be more physical than if they were left on islands to simply cover receivers short and deep. I get that. But last year, according to Pro Football Focus,defenses played three or more corners on 58% of the NFL’s defensive snaps. Revis is the best cover man in football. The cap rose by $10 million, and Tampa Bay could have afforded to do most or all of what it did in free agency and keep Revis, who already cost the team first- and fourth-round picks in addition to the contract that paid him $16 million a year.

I get new coach Lovie Smith wanting a clean slate and not wanting the onerous Revis contract. But if you told me the league’s best cover corner could be had in this era of pass-happy football, in a division with quarterbacks Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton, for 12% of my salary cap, I’d say, “Where do I sign up for that?”

Five Things I Think You Should Know

1. Denver has exercised its 2014 option on Wes Welker, who will make $8 million (including bonuses) at age 33 this fall, and then become a free agent for what might be one final (minor) payday in 2015.

2. How the Broncos likely will line their receivers up in 2014: Julius Thomas tight to the formation, either left or right; Demaryius Thomas split wide, either left or right; Welker most often in the slot; and Emmanuel Sanders mostly opposite Demaryius Thomas. But here’s the changeup: Sanders started in the slot 11 times for Pittsburgh in 2012 before moving mostly outside in 2013. One of the things offensive coordinator Adam Gase likes to do is move Welker around so he doesn’t get beat up too much in the slot, so don’t be surprised to see Sanders learning all the spots. Get your head in the playbook now, Mr. Sanders. Your quarterback is pretty demanding.

3. The Panthers do not currently employ a wide receiver who caught a pass for them in 2013.

4. Pro Football Focus had Packers wideout James Jones down for two dropped passes in 88 balls thrown to him last season, so for those who say Jones hasn’t signed anywhere because of butterfingers, there’s that. Roddy White had eight drops in 94 targets.

5. If a once-proud player’s stock has plummeted more precipitously than Josh Freeman’s, I’d like to know who that player is. A year ago, Freeman was set to play out the final year of his rookie contract as Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback, at $8.43 million, and then enter the 2014 free-agent market or sign a long-term deal with the Bucs, who could have franchised him. Then he got supplanted by Mike Glennon, cut, signed by Minnesota, and benched after one start for the Vikings. Now, at 26, he’ll have to sign a bargain deal in a place like Oakland and compete just to make the roster. There’s a book in there somewhere.

(Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Emmanuel Sanders signed with the Broncos on Sunday, a day before his 27th birthday. He finished 2013 with 67 catches for 740 yards and six TDs, all improvements over his 2012 numbers: 44/626/1 (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Quotes of the Week

I

“That entire situation is a business ordeal that some people will turn into a personal matter. Situations like that happen all the time over the National Football League. There was no handshake. There was no kind of agreement in terms of—we were close to a deal, but it wasn’t anything official just yet. In terms of shopping around, we didn’t shop around. Teams were still calling. Teams were still trying to get involved. That’s what happened. Steve Weinberg, he did an exceptional job in terms of the whole free agency process.’’

— Former Steelers wideout Emmanuel Sanders, after signing with Denver on Sunday. According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Chiefs accused Weinberg, Sanders’ agent, with making a verbal agreement to sign in Kansas City and then taking that deal and shopping it to Denver. Weinberg hasn’t been heard from, and the Broncos denied knowing anything about a verbal agreement between Kansas City and Sanders’ camp.

What, really, can the Chiefs do? If a contract wasn’t signed, I don’t see that there’s any recourse other than to say they’ll never deal with a Weinberg client again. (Later in the day, the Chiefs said it’s a dead issue.) This is the Wild West, and if they feel wronged, well, they’re not the first ones to feel that way in the history of NFL negotiations. If it’s true that Weinberg had a verbal deal and went to Denver instead, that’s not right. But there’s a reason the league honors only signed contracts and not verbal agreements.

II

“To play with Peyton Manning is like wide receiver heaven.”

— Sanders.

III

“Will I miss Cam? Sure I’ll miss Cam. But you’ve got to remember: I was with Cam for three years only. I was with other guys, Jordan Gross for example, for years. I was with people in the organization for years and years. There are in people in the organization who had kids in elementary school when I got there and they’re now in college. This is not easy, believe me.”

— Steve Smith, who was drafted by the Panthers three months into George W. Bush’s first term, on leaving Carolina for a new start in Baltimore.

IV

“The teams that have the good quarterbacks are the teams that win. I’m looking forward to playing with Aaron. As much as I disliked chasing him, I’m excited to join him.”

— New Packers pass rusher Julius Peppers, to Vic Ketchman of Packers.com, referring to new teammate Aaron Rodgers after signing a three-year contract with Green Bay on Saturday.

Stat of the Week

Let’s not let the moment pass, Panther fans, without remembering how much Steve Smith (now a Raven) did for your franchise over the past 13 seasons. Here’s the numerical legacy of No. 89:

· On the first play of his NFL career, with Cris Carter and Randy Moss watching from the Vikings’ sideline in September 2001, Smith took a Mitch Berger kickoff at the 7-yard line at the Metrodome and ran it back 93 yards for a touchdown.

· He ranks 25th on the alltime receiving list with 836 catches. In the long, illustrious histories of the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears, no receiver has caught more for either team.

· Smith has caught 17 more balls than Steve Largent; 72 more than James Lofton; and 86 more than Charlie Joiner and Michael Irvin—who are all in the Hall of Fame.

· With three returns for touchdowns as a rookie (two kickoffs, one punt), Smith was the NFL’s first-team All-Pro return man in 2001.

· He was better when the games were bigger, averaging 16.8 yards per catch in nine playoff games, with individual receiving games of 135, 163 and 218 yards.

Simon Bruty/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB
A third-round pick of the Panthers in 2001, Steve Smith holds more than 30 franchise records on offense and special teams. He signed a three-year deal worth $11.5 million with the Ravens last Friday. (Simon Bruty/Sports Illustrated/The MMQB)

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me

From The NFL Owns The Sporting Calendar Dept.:

On the third day of free agency last Thursday, except for three minutes that were spent discussing the bathroom habits of Mike Greenberg, the first 66 minutes of ESPN’s popular “Mike and Mike” morning-drive radio show were devoted to NFL free agency.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

A vote for Virgin Atlantic: After visiting my brother and his family in England, I flew back home a week ago on Virgin Atlantic, and the flight staff was beyond pleasant. Water and smiles from the flight attendants were plentiful; there were very few announcements, so as not to disrupt sleep; and there wasn’t a single bump on the seven-hour flight. Usually a flight that long is a grinder, but all in all, I must say it was probably the lowest-stress flying experience that I’ve ever had. If I’m going to complain about silly travel problems, I should praise an airline for getting it right, and this one did.

Tweets of the Week

I

“Rob Ryan’s already turnt up for St. Patrick’s Day…”

— @NFLtalkRT, with an impressive photo of the New Orleans defensive coordinator at a parade celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Saintsland.

II

“Yes, March Madness, there is a Virginia.”

— @NYPost_Serby, the ever-clever Steve Serby, after Virginia beat Duke for its first ACC Tournament title in a thousand years on Sunday.

III

“BREAKING NEWS: Martha’s Vineyard to be renamed ‘Revis Island’ for the next 365 days.”

— @MeganCassidy, ESPN associate producer, after the Patriots signed Darrelle Revis to a two-year contract that will very likely be broken after one year.

IV

“I’m now starting to think CNN took the plane.”

— @AlbertBrooks, evidently not a fan of the nonstop missing plane coverage on Sunday.

V

“Dude in a bulkhead seat took his shoes off and is actually rubbing his feet on the touchscreen on the wall. How can anybody think this is OK”

— @billbarnwell of Grantland, on a Sunday flight.

Ain’t that America.

Jeff Haynes for Sports Illustrated/The MMQB
Will James Jones fill Steve Smith’s void in Carolina? (Jeff Haynes for Sports Illustrated/The MMQB)

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think I’d love to hear some good reasons why James Jones, he of the 17 touchdown receptions over the last two seasons, is sitting on the sidelines of free agency, offer-less. He’s a very good deep threat whom Aaron Rodgers would like to have back. I don’t get that one. Jones and Cam Newton would make beautiful music in Carolina.

2. I think I like what the Broncos are doing in free agency; I appreciate the fact they’re growing some teeth on defense. On the other side of the ball, I realize Ryan Clady will return from his Lisfranc foot sprain (he was hurt in the Broncos’ second game last season) to nail down the left tackle spot in 2014. But Denver has lost effective guard Zane Beadles to Jacksonville and done nothing to improve the line in free agency. In the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning scrambled for his life much of the time. I counted eight “quiet” pockets when I re-watched the game, meaning only on eight pass attempts did Manning have all the time he needed to make a comfortable throw. I’m sure John Elway is concerned about the line, particularly right tackle Orlando Franklin’s ability to hold off quick outside rushers, but we haven’t seen him act on it yet.


Greg A. Bedard highlights the winners, the losers and the leaps of faith through the first four days of wild free agency spending.


Following the draft hopes of Boston College running back Andre Williams, Jenny Vrentas takes you behind the scenes at the Heisman finalist’s Pro Day.


Robert Klemko puts you inside Louis Delmas’ inner circle as the free agent safety contemplates an offer from the Dolphins that, quite truthfully, he could refuse.


New Orleans has a tough cap situation, but Andy Benoit explains why Who Dat Nation will be just fine.


The Raiders plan to spend money, just not all at once. Take it from Andrew Brandt, who once worked with Oakland’s GM.


Don Banks says the PAT is ... good! So leave it alone.


In the absence of real stats, this is how offensive linemen are graded.


We ranked the top 100 free agents. Click here for 100-51, and here for 50-1.

3. I think it’s amazing to see the decline in impact and market presence for B.J. Raji, who re-signed with Green Bay for one year and $4 million. This is a man who looked like a five-year, $40-million player a year or so ago. But you are what your tape says you are, and Raji’s tape stunk last season.

4. I think if I were Miami, I’d follow up with Devin Hester. He’s a “U” guy and wants to play for the Dolphins … Miami has $25 million free under the cap … The Dolphins have a pedestrian return man in Marcus Thigpen … What’s the delay? The fit is perfect.

5. I think this is how I view the first week of free agency for Seattle: totally understandable and justifiable. You think the Seahawks should have kept wideout Golden Tate, at $6 million a year, instead of letting him go to Detroit? You think Seattle should have kept proficient right tackle Breno Giacomini at $4.5 million a year, instead of letting him go to the Jets? There are two factors at play here. When you win the Super Bowl, teams come after your unrestricted free agents, and you’ve got to figure out which ones you should keep and which ones you can replace in the draft. Factor two: Seattle has to find a way to re-sign Russell Wilson, who will be in the last year of his rookie contract next season and eligible to renegotiate, and keep Legion of Boom members Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman. The front office has to make all 2014 decisions with 2015 in mind. That’s why, to me, there was one must-sign for Seattle in this year’s free agency class: defensive lineman Michael Bennett. And the Seahawks locked him up for four years and $28.5 million a day before the market opened. When they made that signing, Seattle’s free agency business of consequence was finished, and rightfully so.

6. I think I like the Browns taking a run at Cincinnati restricted free agent Andrew Hawkins, committing $10.8 million in the first two years of an offer sheet so the Bengals won’t match. And Cincinnati almost certainly won’t. Though smurfy, the 5-foot-7 wideout is surprisingly physical and competitive in the air. Hawkins is a good player taken from a division rival who—most likely—will be the slot receiver for your team that Davone Bess wasn’t. Good move by GM Ray Farmer and Cleveland, who’ve got scads of cap room.

7. I think if I’m a Cowboys fan, and I’ve seen defensive ends DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher fly out the door, with Anthony Spencer soon to follow, I’m thinking: General manager Jerry Jones had better have an impact-player defensive draft, or owner Jerry Jones should fire the GM.

8. I think every year Julian Edelman is healthy for 16 games and has Tom Brady throwing to him, he’ll catch at least 100 balls.

9. I think it’s been a bad week for Cam Newton’s pass catchers: Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell signed elsewhere, and neither Hakeem Nicks nor Emmanuel Sanders became a Panther. But let’s judge the makeup of Carolina’s receiving corps in August, when training camp is in full swing, and not on St. Patrick’s Day. There are no games today.

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

a. Best story I read this week: Andrew Solomon in the New Yorker, on how Newtown killer Adam Lanza’s father is coping with life after the inexplicable.

b. Imagine thinking your son would have killed you, your other son, Ryan, and your ex-wife, Nancy, if you’d all been together when Adam Lanza went on his rampage. That’s what Peter Lanza told Solomon would have happened: “With hindsight, I know Adam would have killed me in a heartbeat, if he’d had the chance. I don’t question that for a minute. The reason he shot Nancy four times was one for each of us: one for Nancy; one for him; one for Ryan; one for me.”

c. Hard to live with that, I’d say.

d. Second-best story: Jayson Jenks of the Seattle Times, on a name you might remember if you’re a football fan of a certain age, former Seahawks center Grant Feasel, who died in July 2012 of acute alcoholism—and apparently from the effects of CTE.

AP Photo/NFL Photos
Grant Feasel was a 6-7, 278-pound center drafted in the sixth round by the Baltimore Colts in 1983. He suffered the effects of CTE later in life and died in July 2012 from alcohol poisoning. (AP Photo/NFL Photos)

e. How incredible a story, a jumbo jet disappearing. It’s amazing in this day and age there isn’t a fail-safe system that can account for an airplane vanishing.

f. Good week for my new rotisserie baseball team. When you draft Patrick Corbin, Brandon Beachy and Oscar Taveras, and they all start falling apart days after the draft, well, maybe it’s a sign that it’s going to be a long year. Or that you don’t know what you’re doing.

g. Jon Stewart is never not funny.

h. Coffeenerdness: Big fan of the reusable Starbucks cup that saves you 10 cents every time it’s used. Paid for itself in about a day and a half.

i. Beernerdness: Not that I have a go-to beer (well, I might if I lived in Seattle), but having Brooklyn Lager on tap at most of the places in my neighborhood is a very good thing.

j. Some journalism people to point out: ESPN’s Adam Schefter just had as good a week as I can remember in this business, breaking story after story of who was signing where. This is a rivalry business, naturally, but you’ve got to tip your hat to a man who is so on top of his game, and Schefter certainly is.

k. Good luck to Rick Reilly as he moves away from writing. It’s become fashionable to rap Reilly for some of his recent work, and he’s not without his faults. (Nor am I, as you all know very well.) But I’ve always viewed his prose as I-am-not-worthy stuff, so much of it brilliant. He raised the bar for sportswriters everywhere. I’ll miss reading him.

l. Hey, Jay Glazer! Feel better. The man’s got double pneumonia, and that cannot be fun. He had a tough time in the hospital last week.

m. Saturday was Sid Hartman’s 94th birthday. The Minnesota media legend (there is a bronze statue of him outside Target Field) still works six days a week, writing three or four columns for the Star Tribune and doing daily radio spots. He also does a radio show on WCCO on Sunday mornings, and then hosts a sports TV show on Sunday nights. Can I have that energy, please, for four more decades?

n. Louisville, fourth-seeded? So there are 12 teams in America that are either better overall than Louisville or playing better right now? I don’t think so. I’m a basketball doofus and even I know that stinks.

The Adieu Haiku

Do not grade teams now.
Free agency just one piece
of a big puzzle.

themmqb.com

More from The MMQB
137 comments
JessieERichardson
JessieERichardson

just as Josephine implied I'm surprised that a mom can get paid $8270 in 1 month on the computer . see this site..............................



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JimKelly
JimKelly

Grant Feasel had one of the best nicknames: The Fighting Weasel.


RIP

RobertMacArthur
RobertMacArthur

I agree with the other comments on here.  This guy as an East coast liberal snob, so full of himself it grates.  I like to think he knows something about football but even there he just seems to mostly give you either hype or the obvious and come on like he's omniscient or something.  You're not that cool, buddy. 

billthompsonbaby
billthompsonbaby

I refuse to watch NFL live, anymore. Not even the Super Bowl. Why? Because it's 3.5 hours to watch 1 hour of game. That's insane.


Get rid of replays altogether.


PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

Can't the NFL find a way to do replay's quickly?  The system is too slow and has become an excuse for more commercials.  FOX immediately goes to commercial as soon as there is a review and not just 1 commercial.  Speed it up.  The NHL has a great system, just suck it up, be men and admit that another league does it better.  No one will care, they just want it done efficiently regardless of who thought of it first.  

skanee00
skanee00

Some fans, such as myself, are worried about gimmickry taking over the NFL. A close examination of the way the game is played today, however, shows that it is already ruled by gimmickry. The one chuck in five yards rule is a gimmick meant to artificially make the sport a passing game.

raffellis
raffellis

Look up the definition of erstwhile.

BB2
BB2

Pete, screw these knuckleheads who come here to troll. Its your column, write it your way. Also, you should come to San Diego for good beer...

a couple of thoughts while the owners are all meeting over $50 drinks and $500 wines...

 

as noted below, they should have an 18 week, 16-game schedule, two byes each team, play the Super Bowl on the second week of February, 


Don't cut preseason games, just cut their prices. The games are all about a team getting depth, and not for the starters anyway. Don't charge starter prices.


Adding another team to each conferences playoffs is fine. It goes from 37.5% (12/32) of the league to 43.7% (14/32). It doesn't add weeks, and makes winning the conference extra special. But, reseed based solely on record, so the Niners don't come in second and get screwed.

gsperson
gsperson

It's been a long time since I read this King fellows column. I see he's still a self important tool.

anon76
anon76

@SI_PeterKing


OK Peter, I challenge you to look through your writer Bedard's "Pressure Points" articles and find one game other than the Super Bowl where the Broncos O-line looked as incompetent as they did during XLVIII.  They showed up unprepared at the big game and had by far their worst outing of the season.  They're still the best pass protection unit in the league by some margin- why worry about their capabilities instead of the other 31 units that give up so much more pressure on their QBs?

Chris8
Chris8

In regards to playoff expansion: "I’m hearing it’s probably a matter of when, not if."

That's the same thing the sports media was saying about the 18 game schedule just 3-4 years ago.  Seems every other year sports media says "I'm hearing it's probably a matter of when, not if" in regards to an NFL team in L.A.  SI, ESPN, and all the rest talk about these things like they've already happened.  While it's still a possibility I don't think it's a stretch to say that the 18 game initiative has lost most of it's steam.  And we're going on 20 years now waiting for that supposedly inevitable L.A. team.

Until the playoff change actually happens it's still very much an "if."

jonpa31
jonpa31

Middle class? Really?

RS1022
RS1022

Danny Trevathan replaced Wesley Woodyad at WOLB.

Correction: Wesley Woodyard was the Starting WOLB for Denver in 2012 and played near a pro bowl level, excelling in coverage. In 2013 Trevathan was considered an equal if not better option at WOLB and Woodyard who is a team first guy was moved to ILB, despite being too small. He ended oh getting too beat Up and ineffective and was ultimately replaced by Paris Lennon. He's a great leader and WOLB.

pvburchett
pvburchett

THE KICKOFF


Could Einstein have seen

In the first ball's spinning flight

A season's fortunes?


Kevin11
Kevin11

All of those college bowl games hasn't made college football better. There were 35 bowl games this year. Remember when there were only about 12? The soccer-momming of NCAA football (finish at .500 or better, you get a bowl game. Here's your participation trophy, don't forget to see the treats mom on your way out.) has made the college post season unbearable.


So, the last thing the NFL needs is to head down this path. I believe the top 2 teams in each conference deserve that week off, and their respective home field advantages. Make the other teams prove their worthiness. 

Dani
Dani

six wild-card games instead of four : what would Roger Goodell do to get more money. One day, mark my words, there will be 16 playoff teams.

ConradWesleyClough
ConradWesleyClough

As a long suffering (but recently blessed) Seahawks fan, I would have liked to have seen them keep Golden Tate, but not at anything like the contract Detroit was willing to give him... Detroit is a great place for Tate to continue his career, and with a a team that features a more pass happy offensive attack and a guy like Johnson opposite him to draw all the double coverages, I think it will a place where Tate can really shine.

Getting back to Seattle's free agency, I would have liked them to try to hold onto either Red Bryant or Clemmons for at least another year, and either Thurmond or Browner for another year if possible (this would have required a new contract though, unlike the case with the aforementioned defensive ends). One person I am not sad to see leave is Giacomini... he has his good points but he gets penalized way to much.  I see people arguing that he was much better on the penalty front last season then he was the year before, and that is true, but he still ties for 3rd most penalized player on the Seahawk's roster with 8 penalties last year, and he missed 7 games due to injury. Had he been healthy there is every chance he would have reached or even topped his number of penalties the year before (13).

Enusmith1
Enusmith1

The PAT will never go. It is another stoppage in play in which the NFL can show 5 minutes of commercials.

BillfaloBuf
BillfaloBuf

New England should go after Steve Smith.  Put him, Edelman and Amendola on the field at the same time and no one would be able to see the Pats receivers.  Unfortunately, no ball would ever hit the ground either.  Don't yell!  It's just a joke!

Buck2185
Buck2185

Peter, great picture of the head referee in the replay booth. I always wondered why it took them so long in that booth. But now, since I saw you under the booth table in that picture, I no longer wonder.....

Redskins
Redskins

No movement is expected on creating centralized replay at the league’s officiating control center, but I’m hearing that owners will discuss and consider—and that’s the word I keep hearing, consider—allowing league officiating czar Dean Blandino to consult on replays while the referee is determining whether to uphold or overturn the call. This wouldn’t be a cure-all for bad replay decisions, but it would be a safety valve to help prevent horrible calls like the one Jeff Triplette mauled in Cincinnati last season, when he awarded Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis a touchdown even though he appeared to be down shy of the goal line in the replay.


I'm all for replay but how would this work? How much time would it add? What if Blandino is dealing with another problem? Please hold, Mr. Coleman, in Cleveland, Mr. Blandino is on the line with Mr. Triplette in Chicago! Nurse!

JeffRyanCarlson
JeffRyanCarlson

As for the Oakland Raiders and their free agency movements the past week, it shouldn't be hard to read the tea leaf. They are probably gonna take the best available offensive tackle in the upcoming NFL Draft. When I look at Jared and Rodger, I think they are good offensive linesmen, but the one from Texas A&M and Auburn are not just good, they are great. So, as a Raiders fan, I'm not concerned about what they are doing now, except I hope they do bring back Charles Woodson. 

MadDoser
MadDoser

"Died July 2012 of acute alcoholism—and apparently from the effects of CTE".  So is the excuse we use for every single football player now when they have any sort of mental issue in their life?!?!?  For crying out loud there is a large percent of the normal population that has mental disorders (bipolar/alcholism) and I would expect at LEAST that percent of NFL players to have disorders.  Maybe more since they are dealing with fame/fortune and a short career.  Tired of using CTE as an excuse for every single issue...

dbum
dbum

i dont usually do this but, the idea of a sports haiku is about the dumbest f0ckin sh1it ive ever heard. and yours are about as uninventive and boring as ive read. 

VanHayhow
VanHayhow

@RobertMacArthur  Now they are not correct. But I have a question. If he was a conservative from the midwest snob, would you complain? I ask because subscribe to a magazine on music and stereo equipment and one of their featured columnists occasionally writes on topics that touch on political issues. He would get letters like your post. Finally, in response to one such letter (you are liberal, you should stick to stereo equipment or music, etc.) he pointed out that he had written many things that didn't agree with typical liberal positions (and he did this specifically and as I read his column I knew he was correct) and said he had never received a letter from a liberal telling him to stay off politics. Curious, isn't it? 

gregatacd
gregatacd

@billthompsonbaby  PVR. Fairly ubiquitous now and pretty much solves the problem. Just don't browse the web while watching (and why would you since there's NO BREAKS except for the ones you create getting another beer or 3 for yourself).

VanHayhow
VanHayhow

@billthompsonbaby  Well, to make it worse, the WSJ put a stop watch on a game and started it on the snap of the ball and stopped it when the whistle blew. The actual playing time was around 10 to 11 minutes for the game.

billthompsonbaby
billthompsonbaby

@PhillyPenn  I haven't been a hockey fan in the past, but I watched the Winter Olympics and I have to say hockey is much more exciting because the game doesn't stop nearly as much as NFL football.

raffellis
raffellis

@raffellis Many (even professional writers) mistake erstwhile for "steady" or "consistent." It means formerly--once was. Doesn't apply to Jared Verdheer.

Frotoon
Frotoon

Was just thinking the same thing. I read the football parts, and skipped over his non-football parts where he talks about picking his toenails.

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

@anon76 @SI_PeterKing  And... Beadles, according to ProFootballFocus.com, was the weak link on the line - by far  - and the Broncos were right to let him be overpaid on his new contract. See ya. With Clady back, his replacement simply slides into Beadles spot and it's an instant upgrade. Maybe King should just write a 'My Non-Football Thoughts of the Week' column and leave the football writing to people who actually watch and understand the game.

RS1022
RS1022

@Chris8  What makes more sense is an 18 week season were each team plays 16 games... More TV revenue and prime time games and better rested players... Improve safety too as They could give automatic byes to teams before they play on Thursday night...


18 playoff teams is too many... With 12 teams, there are too many 8-8 teams making it.  NHL and NBA have to have everyone make playoffs, because so much of revenue is from the gate... NFL doesn't need it....

Stephen Reeve2
Stephen Reeve2

@jonpa31  If the "middle class" has to suffer through a $5-7 million contract, well I must need food stamps.

rckymtn4
rckymtn4

@RS1022 Good luck to Wesley Woodyard in Tennessee but he is too small to play in the middle.

Bearsclone
Bearsclone

@Kevin11  Putting every one in the post season makes the regular season less interesting.  


The league points to higher interest at the end of the year because more teams are in the playoff hunt, but they miss the fact that the start and middle of the season become less interesting because it doesn't matter if a team starts 2-4 or 1-5, they still have a chance to make the playoffs.


If half of the league gets into the playoffs, the regular season becomes a formality that you're just trying to get through without getting hurt.  See the NBA, NHL, MLB, as they have expanded their playoffs.


Oh well, owners just see more playoff games, which means more television money and higher ticket prices.  They don't really care if stadiums are half empty the rest of the year except in the biggest and most dedicated markets.

Bearsclone
Bearsclone

@Redskins  As far as I'm concerned, every replay in every sport should be handled by a central league office, and if conditions are so terrible that the league can't get a satellite feed from the stadium, then you just don't have replay.  We're in a day where thanks to satellite TV packages, literally every game in every city is available coast to coast in real time, so there's no excuse not to centralize to speed up the process and get it right.


Why do we need an official to waste his time going over and looking under a hood when the analysts and fans have already seen the replay from multiple angles?  Why do we need a coach to throw a flag after he waits for his coach upstairs to see the play, when we could just let an official who actually knows the rules look at it and make a judgment before the coach could even have the time to throw the flag?


Bearsclone
Bearsclone

@MadDoser  It's likely that a lot of those people in the general population also have those conditions because of CTE or similar effects.  Youth sports are arguable worse for your brain than playing in the NFL, because there's less supervision, your brain is still developing and fragile, and you take more of the smaller, less traumatic hits that add up to CTE or other long term damage.


The difference between the average person and an NFL player is that if you kill yourself or have severe emotional or physical problems, no one is going to look at your brain to look for CTE damage.

foaming.solvent
foaming.solvent

@MadDoser  So, you commented without reading the linked Seattle Times article. Had you looked at the linked article, you would have seen the pictures of slices of Feasel's CTE-atrophied brain.

davidhd
davidhd

@MadDoser  I couldn't agree more with that comment. Also, is it the chicken of the egg? Do extremely large men, in both size and ego, who like to bang their bodies into each other and play a full contact sport for money have a hyper-aggressive side before playing football, or does the strange mental attitude and emotional baggage come entirely FROM football. I think we're oversimplifying this issue because it's popular and profitable to make everyone a victim in our culture, but that's just my opinion. 

anon76
anon76

@dbum  

Don't complain to us, complain to the folks that trussed you up Clockwork-Orange style and made you read it!

TaterSalad
TaterSalad

@dbum  D Bum does not like

The trivial King  haiku

It's easy to skip

Mike26
Mike26

@dbum  Thanks for the fascinating comment dbum!

RS1022
RS1022

Regarding Denver's O-Line

1. Peyton makes the line look better than they are because he gets rid of the ball so quickly.

2. Beadles was the weak link as he graded in red nearly every week in profootballfocus

3. Ryan Clady was sorely missed during the SB... Instead if one OT needing help (Franklin who has trouble w speed rushers), they had two. Hopefully Clady's foot is okay, as superior footwork is a cornerstone to his game.

4. If Su'a-Fila OG from UCLA is around at 31, and they don't trade back, he's their #1 pick.

tyronedamone
tyronedamone

@Redskins @foaming.solvent@MadDoser

There may not be a causal link, but CTE does affect the frontal lobe, which is responsible for executive functioning (planning, judgement, decision making skills, inhibitions, etc).  When this area of the brain is damaged, like it is in CTE, all of these processes can be impaired.  While it may not directly cause alcoholism or the abuse of other substances, damage to this area of the brain can predispose those with the disease to make more impulsive decisions, and it is not uncommon for people with CTE to have concurrent substance abuse issues.

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