I’m not the only football writer who has scheduled vacation time that, it seems, will fall directly in the midst of an NFL frenzy. With the level of optimism rising swiftly in the pro football labor world (sorry, UFL), it looks as though there’s better than a 50/50 chance that the National Football League will resume operations by some point in early July.
And that means that free agency will likely be going full tilt when yours truly is in Las Vegas for a week in mid-July, as well as when our Monday savior will be on a four-week holiday of his own.
Starting next week, Sports Illustrated‘s Peter King is taking a month off, which means we’ll have pretty much nothing to write about on the first day of each week … unless of course the league and the players pull this thing off within a fortnight.
In the meantime, we’ve reviewed King’s latest edition of Monday Morning Quarterback…
I’m now told owners likely will be willing to give players a percentage of the profits beyond what the owners project for those four seasons. This would become significant in 2014, when the league will reach new network TV deals with its partners, and the rights fees could go up monstrously. This is important. Not unexpected, because owners knew they’d have to do it, but important.
Here’s the biggest reason: If the players got no piece of the new TV hike, how do you think they’d feel if headlines in the future trumpeted a $2-billion increase in the rights fees beginning in 2014 (that’s a guess on my part, but it might not be far off if the ratings continue to soar) and the owners could pocket the increase beyond the scheduled bump in the cap and expenses? Not good, which is why the owners have to put in a backside to the deal. And now, apparently, will do so.
This is also called a “true up” and it does sound as though it’s the most important sticking point that has for months separated the league and the players. The union probably wasn’t broken up over the extra $350 million the owners were asking for when talks broke down in early March. Instead, they appeared to be pissed that the league wouldn’t budge on giving the players something more if future profits continue to skyrocket (which they inevitably will). If the owners concede this to the players, I think it’s a done deal.
The dinner Roger Goodell and De Smith had Wednesday night, alone? “Don’t underestimate it,” I’m told. “A very good sign.”
[Insert joke about Goodell not being able to afford the dinner on his salary of $1.]
Fans may not like preseason games, and ticket buyers may not like paying for them, but I’ve heard from a TV source that the first real loss of money may come if any preseason games are called off. “That,” the source said, “would send a sign to the advertising community that the talks are not going well, and some advertisers might say, ‘I’m not waiting until the last minute for my September buys. I’m going to buy more college football.’ ”
Preseason football is just horrible. Awful. That said, I was at a cottage with some friends this weekend and we spent quite some time talking about how desperately we desired the return of football. At this point, I’ll take anything I can get. Bring on football, regardless of the flavor. I want to see quarterbacks take meaningless snaps and throw irrelevant passes to fifth-string receivers. I want it, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
I said in SI the other day my over-under for a deal is July 4. I might say July 10 now, but I still think chances are better there will be a deal than there won’t — and that deal will come within a month.
We stand by the prediction we made back in May: Fri. July 8.
The offense-defense balance is where we part ways, comparing the lists. My top 50 is 25 offense, 25 defense; the players’ list is 31-19 offense-defense. I’m 20-20 in my top 40, while NFLNet’s is 24-16 offense.
King continues to compare his top-100 list to the one NFL Network is slowly releasing after having the players cast ballots. I continue to be baffled by the players’ list, which — as King points out — is far too offense-heavy. By the way, GLS will have a top-100 list in July. (Yeah, once we’ve had a chance to analyze the mistakes made by everyone doing lists in May and June.)
But I looked at the greatest Chargers quarterback of them all, Dan Fouts, and his zero Super Bowl appearances. And I thought I’d compare his three best seasons in a row to [Philip] Rivers’ past three seasons. I was surprised in many ways how Rivers’ period exceeds Fouts’ period.
By the way, the ’79, ’80 and ’81 seasons were the only years Fouts threw for 4,000 yards among the nine seasons he played with a 16-game NFL schedule, which was adopted in 1978. Rivers has thrown for 4,000 yards in three of his five starting seasons.
Unsurprisingly, the stats revealed that Rivers was more productive than Fouts during the three-year runs. But PK fails to point out how drastically the game has changed in the 30-year gap that separates the two stretches. Fouts still trumps Rivers, but Phil has a few years to gain ground on a legend.
The first person to line up for a Tim Tebow-autographed copy of his autobiography Through My Eyes at the Walmart in Gainesville arrived 31-and-a-half hours before the scheduled 6 p.m. signing. The store sold 1,000 copies of the book in the first day it was on the shelves. Or, I should say, flying off them.
And that’s why he’s already the NFL’s third-biggest celebrity.
I think the Rams should sign Plaxico Burress. No doubt in my mind.
Why screw with the chemistry on a young, talented team with a solid group of receivers already in place? Stick to Donnie Avery and Mark Clayton and Danny Amendola and forget about the Plaxosaurus.