Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Random offseason NFL thoughts

1) Jerry Rice wants to catch on somewhere as a 3rd or 4th reciever (get it? Catch? Get it? Alright, I'll never do that again). Personally, I think it is crap when mediots try to tell a guy to retire, but a part of me does see these greats bumble around like a monkey trying to hump a football (note: not my expression, but a fabulous image) and I can't help but feel sad. I will say this, however: Jerry Rice, Dominick Hasek, Ricky Henderson, and Joe Paterno would make one hell of a bowling team.

2) The Patriots have 17 linebackers on their roster at the moment. I only mention this because they seem to be hedging the position that is most likely to decline with age/absence. Can I just say how lucky I feel to root for an organization that over my period of interest has gone from perennial laughing-stock to extremely well run? Don't ever let it be said I'm not appreciating what they do.

3) As the pendulum swings back to critical for Roethlisberger, I am amazed that this guy is being both overrated and underrated at the same time. Really, we just don't know what kind of player he will be. The guy had amazing success for a rookie, granted, but everyone seems to be missing the obvious: his career path has mimicked every rookie QB sensation to play the game. First, the guy was surrounded by talent (big O line, three solid WRs, and an excellent running game), so the resources were there for him to have success. Second, the standard approach to defend a rookie QB is to blitz him untill he proves he can handle it. Well, like every successful rookie, he showed he could (partially because of my first point). However, since the Steelers ran so much, it took longer than normal for teams to figure this out. Yet, after seven starts or so, his numbers tail off precipitously because of this (that is, defense realized it was time to stop blitzing), and they had enough game data to defend his strengths and exploit his weaknesses. Now, I'm not saying the NFL has figured him out, but I am saying we will begin to see what kind of quarterback he is. If he grows and is able to improve the weak points of his game, then he will be a good QB. If he doesn't, we'll see him in a lot of games like he played in the end of the season, where he was average to okay.

4) I don't know how to feel about Indy. They screwed themselves by franchising Edgerrin James, because they should have known that nobody would trade for the guy (the RB market was just too full). So they have in the ballpark of 70% of their cap dollars dedicated to offense. While I know their defense started showing signs of life in the second half last year, I don't see how they can get enough quality bodies out there to stand up to a stiff breeze, much less an NFL offense. Oh, and I'm pretty sure Peyton Manning sells mescaline to school children.

5) Having gone to school in Philly, I loathe the Eagles. Having an iota of humility, I despise Terrel Owens. And personally, being a TO apologist is something I don't want to do. Yet I feel like the guy is getting screwed and raked over the coals by the media a bit more than he should be (though part of that is he won't stop spouting off).

First, the 49ers legitimately screwed him last year by filing the grievance with the NFL about him not voiding his contract in time. Language within the contract stated he had certain date to void the contract, which superceded the change in the NFL's CBA that said he had to do it before an earlier date. TO waited past this league date because the 49ers could have turned around and place the Franchise Player tag on on him, thus gaining his contract rights; however, the timeframe in which they could name him a Franchise Player expired before his contractual deadline to void the remaining three years (and, in fact, the void deadline was chosen for this exact reason). So, basically, the 49ers tried to steal his rights when they weren't allowed to.

Second, he was pressured by the NFL to sign a contract that the NFL Players Association advised against signing, because the NFL did not want to go to arbitration and strong-armed the Ravens and 49ers to accept the package and save face. The whole mess also probably just made him want to settle the damn thing, as well, so he just signed the contract in front of him. While I agree this is partly his fault, I think at the time he was just happy to get out of the whole thing without thinking through whether he was really getting his full worth (whether he did or not is a different issue).

Finaly, in the NFL I will never begrudge a player that wants to make more money. While it drives me nuts when they hold out, the fact that contracts are not gauranteed and playing careers are so short makes for them to potentially be exploited, and holding out is their only defense against this. If teams are allowed to cut players for financial reasons, then players should be allowed to not play for the same reason. Throw in that players essentially are making their lifetime earnings in a few years, and they can be quickly shortened or marginalize because of injury, and this issue becomes a bit more poignant to the players.

Since TO suffered the first major injury of his career (that is, career threatening one), his own "playing mortality" is probably a bit more salient to him at the moment, and I'm sure he feels that risking his career to come back and play in the superbowl (and keeping them in the game) was probably worthy of a step-up in compensation.

I'm not trying to say the guy is necessarily right, but I understand where he is coming from in all this. He got screwed last offseason, he signed a contract that in retrospect may have undervalued him just to end the nightmare, and he risked his career for his new team with the championship on the line while several players on the Eagles failed to hold up their end of the bargain in crunch time. He thinks he is worth more, his character is being questioned because he has been a nuisance in the past, and the leader of the team is suggesting he is a bad teammate for looking out for himself (who, I might add, has a gigantic contrac in hand). This is Owens' business, and his teammates shouldn't butt into it (see also Favre, Brett).

That being said, the guy is still a monumental jackass.


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