Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cuban Wants To Challenge NFL With New League

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is the newest member of the "Billionaires With too Much Time and Money on Their Hands Club."

Cuban is part of a group considering formation of a football league that would compete with the NFL for players drafted lower than the second round.

The league, still very much in the preliminary stage, would play its games on Friday nights. The NFL does not play then because of the potential conflict with high school football.

On his blog, Cuban explained how the new league, dubbed the UFL, would actually be good for the NFL.

"The NFL wants and needs competition," Cuban wrote. "They have grown so big and powerful that every move they make is scrutinized by local or federal officials. A competitor allows them to point to us and explain that their moves are for competitive reasons rather than the move of a monopoly."

Time to wake up Mark. Reality check please.

Going up against the NFL is fruitless. They are a monopoly, a juggernaut if you will. Just ask the WFL, USFL and XFL if you don't believe me. The XFL even tried to use sex to sell its league and couldn't do it.

Football as a market is saturated. It was easier for the AFL to challenge the NFL back in the 60s because they were the only ones competing. Today, you have the CFL, Arena, Arena 2 and NFL Europa. People can get a football fix in winter, spring, summer or fall.

Cable TV has expanded the reach of the sport. Back in the day, you had the Big Three networks, period. Cuban as a business owner should know what happens to an organization that comes into a over-crowded market with a dominant player already established - you lose. It's the nature of markets.

Playing on a Friday is not a great idea either. High school football is more popular than ever and people really don't want to stay in after going through the work week. Friday night is the time when many go out to eat, catch a movie and things of that nature.

I admire Cuban for his confidence and tenacity, but just as Donald Trump and Vince McMahon have learned, the NFL is a league you don't want to go up against. Football, in particular the NFL, is our national pastime and it has been for a long, long time. Individuals fear change. They like to stay in their comfort zones. The National Football League is one of those zones.

Even if Cuban can get some of the star players away from the NFL, will it really matter? The USFL had Jim Kelly, Steve Young and Herschel Walker and the league folded in three years. A kid grows up dreaming of playing in the NFL, not the USFL, XFL or the soon-to-be UFL.

The National Football League is in the public consciousness, and once inside, it's almost impossible to remove. Just ask Pepsi in its long battle with Coke. Pepsi may taste better, but Coke is still number one.

The NFL is experiencing the same problem with the Europa League. The league hoped it would establish a significant presence in Europe and cut into the viewership of soccer. No such luck.

Soccer is Europe's number one sport and nothing can compete against it. That's a lesson that Mark Cuban and the rest of the new UFL will have to learn - the hard way.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

How To Really Piss Off Your Coach

That should be the title of LenDale White's first book, should he ever write one.

White, the second round pick last year by the Tennessee Titans is going to turn Jeff Fisher's hair grey when all is said and done.

The former USC star reported to camp overweight and barely got on the field in 2006 with knee and hamstring injuries. Fast forward to 2007 and what you have is an eerie replay of 2006.

White reported to the Titans offseason conditioning program weighing a not very svelte 260 pounds and then suffered a hamstring injury. Now in his latest effort to stay permanently entrenched in Fisher's doghouse, White failed to show up for Tennessee's OTA's (organized team activities) on Tuesday.

As expected, Fisher was not pleased.

"Everybody else managed to make it back," Fisher said. "He didn't, so I don't know, I guess he had things that are more important to him than what we're doing. I would assume he would be back at some point today.

"I've been on record with being disappointed with him right now. I hope to have him back on the practice field Thursday. But again, everybody else was here, he wasn't. I'm anxious to hear what kind of excuse he has."

Doesn't sound like a vote of confidence does it.

The Titans are relying on White becoming the player they thought he was in college. With Chris Brown and Travis Henry gone, the backfield is now comprised of an overweight, gimpy and troublesome back and Arizona rookie Chris Henry. And with the weak receiving corps, this offense hasn't given Vince Young many weapons or options.

To make matters worse, former GM Floyd Reese, who now writes for, admitted in his recent column that he wanted to take Devin Hester with the Titans second round pick in 2006, but Fisher and the coaching staff wanted White. Big mistake. At least that's the way it looks so far.

White had the reputation coming out of college as a guy who hated working out and constantly struggled with his weight. The Titans ignored those red flags and now are paying the price for their decision.

If you want a textbook case on how to piss off your coach, look no further than the exploits of one LenDale White.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Informant Says Vick a Heavyweight in Dog Fighting

The case against Michael Vick and his involvement in dog fighting got much stronger over the Memorial Day weekend when an unidentified informant told ESPN that Vick is a heavyweight in dog fighting circles.

The source, who has been breeding pit bulls for 30 years, told "Outside the Lines" that Vick fights pit bulls and "He's one of the ones that they call 'the big boys': that's who bets a large dollar. And they have the money to bet large money. As I'm talking about large money -- $30,000 to $40,000 -- even higher. He's one of the heavyweights."

If this informant is telling the truth, and apparently he is, Vick will most likely stand trial. Dog fighting is a felony in the state of Georgia.

Staring with the Ron Mexico incident, followed by the middle finger salute to the Atlanta fans, the airport water bottle fiasco and now this, Vick is learning the hard lesson that character goes much farther in life than athletic ability.

And while I disagree with almost everything PETA does, dog fighting is sick, cruel and has no place in modern society. Getting your kicks out of watching dogs tear each other to bits is neither entertaining or sport - it's cruel and unusual punishment.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has to play the waiting game before any action can be done. You're still innocent until proven guilty in this country and the NFL can't really do anything until the case against Vick has been proven in court.

The lasting damage has already been done. Vick's image has been damaged to the point where he may never get it back. He was one of the brightest stars in the NFL just a few short years ago. Now he's a black eye to the league.

This is another example of an athlete who thinks he's above the law and beyond reproach. It's a hard lesson that must be learned. And Michael Vick will have to pay the price.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Marquise Hill Dies After Lake Accident

Sad news in the football world this Memorial Day.

The body of New England Patriots player Marquise Hill was found Monday, a state official said, a day after he was reported missing following a jet ski accident on Lake Pontchartrain.

Hill's body was discovered by searchers about a quarter-mile from where the former LSU star and a female companion were involved in the accident, Capt. Brian Clark of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Department said.

"The family will have to make positive identification," Clark said, "but the body we found was that of Mr. Marquise Hill."

The Coast Guard was called Sunday night, Petty Officer Tom Atkeson said. The search began immediately, using boats and helicopters.

By the time the body was found, the Coast Guard, Wildlife and Fisheries, the New Orleans Police Department and Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Department were involved, Clark said.

Hill's body was taken to the Orleans Parish Coroner's office, but phone messages left there were not immediately returned.

Hill's agent, Albert Elias, said he had been told Hill and a young woman were jetskiing Sunday in the lake when both of them went into the water, which had a strong current. Elias said the woman was able to make it to a pylon and hang on until she was rescued, while Hill was last seen floating away from the scene.

Hill played on LSU's 2003 national championship team and was a second-round draft pick by New England in 2004.

The woman, whose identity was not available Monday morning, was rescued and sent to Tulane Medical Center where she told them Hill had tried to keep her calm as the two were drifting away from each other.

Neither Hill nor the woman wore a life preserver, Atkeson said.

"It's so important to have a life jacket and a signaling device," Atkeson said. "One keeps you afloat and the other helps us find you."

Elias said Hill, a defensive end, spent much of his time since Hurricane Katrina helping family members rebuild their homes.

After going to the NFL, Hill continued to do much of his offseason training at LSU's Baton Rouge campus, about 80 miles up the Mississippi River from New Orleans, and was known and admired by current Tigers players.

Friday, May 25, 2007

NFL To Aid In Vick Investigation

Who let the dogs out?

That's the question Virginia investigators and now the NFL want to know. NFL Security has offered its help in the probe of illegal dogfighting at a property owned by Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, an unidentified source close to the situation told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Investigators have spoken to, or are in the process of contacting, persons who purport to have information regarding dogfighting at the property, the person told the AJC.

NFL Security personnel said they can't comment on the specifics of their involvement in the case. Greg Aiello, an NFL spokesman, told the AJC that it is routine protocol for NFL security to get involved in legal matters with players and other league personnel.

Investigators have not interviewed Vick, according to Gerald Poindexter, the Surry County Commonwealth's attorney, the prosecutor in the investigation.

"Not to my knowledge," Poindexter told the newspaper.

Vick flew to Virginia after completing an offseason team practice on Thursday at the Falcons training camp at Flowery Branch, Ga.

Poindexter still doesn't have solid evidence linking Vick to dogfighting. He said there are no eyewitnesses who say they saw dogfighting at the home where 66 dogs were seized along with equipment that could be associated with dog fighting. The discoveries were made during a drug raid at the home on April 25.

Police also found items associated with dog fighting, including treadmills and a "pry bar'' used to pry apart a dog's jaws. Poindexter has said they also found a bloodied carpet and blood splatters on the floor in a room over the garage.

Vick, a native of Newport News who starred at Virginia Tech, is a registered dog breeder. He said he let a cousin, Davon Boddie, live at the house, and that he didn't know a large kennel on the property could be involved in criminal activity.

It's good that the National Football League is getting involved and taking an interest. While I'm not a PETA supporter, cruelty to animals is sick and if Vick is involved, the NFL should come down hard, despite the irresponsible comments of one Clinton Portis.

Did Vick let the dogs out? The NFL may find out very, very soon.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Herm Edwards Deals Out the Spin

There was so much spin, thanks for the word Bill O'Reilly, coming out of Kansas City yesterday I almost thought Chiefs coach Herman Edwards was running for political office.

It was day two of Chiefs mini-camp and all eyes were on disgruntled QB Trent Green.

Here's a sampling of what Edwards had to say.

"We're making a big deal out of nothing," Edwards said. "We're making a big deal out of competition. For me, it's competition. All that other stuff, I don't deal with."

Hold on there's more.

"Are you kidding me? This is the offseason," he said. "We've had one practice and all of the sudden we think it's a distraction? It's not a distraction by any stretch of the imagination. We will have a starting lineup when we go to Houston, 46 guys will dress. And they'll be the best 46 guys, in my opinion, who can help us win games."

Sorry Herm, I'm not buying it. Green being on the practice field is a major distraction. If not to the players, definitely to the front office.

The reality is the Chiefs big shots don't want Green and his $7.2 million salary in Kansas City and Green wants to be in Miami, where he will immediately be inserted as the starter over the still injured Daunte Culpepper.

Kansas City GM Carl Peterson and Edwards want to go with Damon Huard and Brodie Croyle. Edwards feels Croyle is the future of the franchise, but he's a year away. Until then, veteran Huard, who signed a three-year contract in the offseason, is the stop gap.

Green understands this. He also knows at 37 he still has the talent to start, but not much sand is left in the hourglass.

He started 80 straight games before being knocked unconscious in the 2006 season opener against the Bengals. From there, it's been nearly a year's worth of questions about quarterback controversies and whether Green can return to the old form that carried him to three straight 4,000-yard passing seasons.

Green and his agent have already worked out a deal with Miami, but the sticking point is over compensation. The Chiefs want a fourth round pick and the Dolphins have offered only a sixth rounder.

Neither team has budged, both are waiting for the other to blink.

Make no mistake, the advantage is on the side of Miami. Kansas City is in a quandary because they know if Green gets hurt in camp, the team is responsible for his salary. The Dolphins know the Chiefs front office doesn't want Green around and are willing to wait until July 1, when Green most certainly will be released.

Miami controls the gameboard and is playing its hand to the hilt. If you had a chance to get a Pro Bowl quarterback for next to nothing wouldn't you play the waiting game?

Edwards can put all the spin on the situation he wants, but the truth is clear. Trent Green is a distraction to the Chiefs, who have few cards left to play in this little drama. In the meantime, the Miami front office will be patient, content in knowing that Green will soon be a Dolphin on its own terms.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Johnson Retires, Will Try TV

Keyshawn Johnson decided that 11 years was enough in the National Football League.

Johnson declined an offer from the Tennessee Titans and his agent, Jerome Stanley, has said that Keyshawn will hang up his cleats and try his hand in television working for ESPN.

The wide receiver, who also will receive an offer from the Oakland Raiders, is expected to announce his decision at a Wednesday afternoon news conference at his alma mater of USC.

"The timing of it was just right," Stanley said of Johnson's decision. "There were a couple of slots open in broadcasting. He was either going to retire this year or next year, but the timing just turned out to be right now."

Johnson, one of the best possession receivers in NFL history, was cut by the Carolina Panthers this month after the Panthers drafted USC's Dwayne Jarrett in April. He had 70 catches for 815 yards and four touchdowns for Carolina in 2006.

Johnson, the No. 1 pick in the 1996 NFL draft, has started 162 of 167 games in his 11 NFL seasons that spans stints with Carolina, Dallas, Tampa Bay and the New York Jets. He retires with 814 career receptions for 10,571 yards and 64 touchdowns.

The time for him to retire was the right decision, even though he still has some tread left in the tires. An aging possession receiver who never played as a slot receiver, which is where he would end up with most teams, was not something Johnson really wanted to do.

And while not living up to the status expected of a number one pick, Johnson still had a solid and consistent career.

ESPN is expected to announce Keyshawn's hiring immediately after he announces his retirement.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Some Players Will Never Learn

Despite the fact that NFL commish Roger Goodell recently unveiled a tougher conduct policy, which resulted in a one-year suspension for Adam "Pac-Man" Jones and eight games for Chris Henry, some apparently didn't get the message.

Last weekend, three NFL players were arrested and two others could be facing some serious face time with the commissioner as well.

Cincinnati Bengals LB A.J. Nicholson, who's been in legal trouble since his college days, was arrested for domestic violence and subsequently released by the Bengals. Meanwhile, New York Jets CB and return man, Justin Miller, was arrested in a night club for allegedly punching a woman in the face.

Not to be outdone, Denver Broncos wide receiver David Kircus was arrested on suspicion of second-degree assault at a weekend party. Throw in Michael Vick and his dog fighting mess, the report that Henry may have failed another drug test and you can see that Goodell has his hands full.

It will be interesting to see what he does now?

Chicago Bears DT Tank Johnson will know his fate soon and if Henry did fail a drug test, he could be gone for a long, long time. Miller and Kircus will most likely be handled by the union and face a game or two suspension.

The interesting decision for the commish will regard Vick. If the dog fighting allegations are true, coupled with his previous troubles, how far will Goodell go when faced with the suspension of a superstar player? Here you have a first round draft choice who's been in the media spotlight since his days at Virginia Tech.

If Goodell backs down on him, it would send the wrong message to the rest of the league and it's fans.

In the long run, no matter how tough Goodell gets on conduct, some players are just too immature, don't care or just plain stupid. In this modern era of the game where young 20-somethings get instantly rich, even though mentally they may not be able to handle it, you can expect to see more off-the-field incidents making headlines in the near future.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Montana State Coach Fired

Montana State fired football coach Mike Kramer on Friday, several days after another former Bobcats athlete was arrested on drug charges.

Kramer was 40-43 in seven seasons at the Bozeman school, including an 8-5 mark last year. He led the Bobcats to three Big Sky Conference titles and three NCAA playoff appearances.

Former wide receiver Rick Gatewood was arrested this week on drug charges and is accused of using his athletic scholarship money to traffic cocaine from California in the Bozeman area. His brother also faces drug charges.

Gatewood is the sixth former Montana State athlete arrested or charged with crimes involving drugs or murder in the past year.

Gatewood, a Richmond, Calif., native, was an all-Big Sky Conference wide receiver in 2004 and 2005. He signed with the Oakland Raiders as a free agent last summer, but didn't make the team, and was expected to try out with baseball's Philadelphia Phillies this month.

Montana State cornerback Andre Fuller pleaded not guilty in March to charges he sold cocaine to a confidential informant last June. He was suspended from the football team while the case is investigated.

Former wide receiver Edward Sullivan of Carlsbad, Calif., and Derrick Davis Jr., a former cornerback from Santa Monica, Calif., also have been charged with selling drugs.

And last June, former redshirt football player John Lebrum and former Bobcat basketball player Branden Miller were charged with murder and kidnapping in the shooting death of suspected drug dealer Jason Wright. They have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled for trial in the coming months.

In October 2004, former assistant head football coach Joe O'Brien was sentenced to four years in prison for his role in a methamphetamine distribution conspiracy.

Montana State opens its 2007 regular season Sept. 1 at Texas A&M.

The Bobcats posted their first postseason win in 22 years when they beat Furman 31-13 in the Division I-AA championships last fall, and finished the season ranked 10th in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. Montana State was beaten 38-17 by eventual champion Appalachian State in the I-AA quarterfinals.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Johnson Set to Meet With Titans

Former Panthers wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson has accepted an invitation by head coach Jeff Fisher to visit the Tennessee Titans over the weekend.

The Titans, which need an experienced receiver to help Vince Young, said Thursday they are interested in Keyshawn Johnson. But the veteran has made it clear he has no intention of being a cheap rental.

Johnson has been waiting for the Raiders to make him an offer. After taking a week's vacation, Johnson has been communicating with about six teams who have shown interest in him. The Titans will be the first team he visits.

The Carolina Panthers released Johnson, who turns 35 in July, earlier this month after drafting Dwayne Jarrett. He had 70 catches for 815 yards and four touchdowns last season and became the 16th player in NFL history with 800 career catches.

His 70 catches for 2006 easily tops the receptions of all the receivers currently on the Titans' roster who played in the NFL last year.

Johnson's relationship with Fisher goes back to Southern California, when the coach played for the Trojans and Johnson was a ball boy.

David Givens is the Titans' only receiver with more than five seasons in the NFL and the only one with more than 65 career catches (166). But he had a second surgery on his left knee seven weeks ago and isn't expected to be ready for the start of the season.

The Titans' receivers include Justin Gage, a four-year veteran signed as a free agent who has 64 career catches; a trio of players drafted in 2005 led by Brandon Jones with 27 catches in 2006; and another trio of draft picks last month -- none taken before the third round.

Compare that to the 6-foot-4 Johnson, who was the No. 1 pick in the 1996 draft. He spent last season with Carolina after being released by the Dallas Cowboys to free up enough salary cap space to sign Terrell Owens.

Johnson said last year he wants to play a couple of more seasons to reach 1,000 career receptions. But productivity has never been his problem.

He clashed with Jets teammates and wrote the book "Just Give Me the Damn Ball" after his rookie season.

Johnson helped Tampa Bay win a Super Bowl in 2002, only to be deactivated for the final six games the next season after feuding with coach Jon Gruden.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Best QB You Don't Know

He doesn't make the headlines. You won't see his name in the papers for his latest arrest, his newest Hollywood girlfriend or his exciting dog fighting business.

You'll here nothing about him during the off-season. He won't be uppermost in the public consciousness.

His name is Marc Bulger and he's the best quarterback in the NFL not named Peyton Manning.

Bulger is the unassuming leader of the St. Louis Rams, who has slowly but surely proven to the world and the NFL that he is more substance than the flash (in the pan)and glitz of Michael Vick.

He won't be featured in any magazines, news shows, or celebrity gossip rags. You'll be lucky if anyone mentions him at all. Too bad, because he's the best quarterback you never heard off.

Don't believe me? Well, numbers don't lie.

Last season, Bulger threw for 4,301 yards, only Manning and Drew Brees had more. He had 24 touchdown passes with only eight interceptions, as well as a 63 percent completion percentage.

Not bad when you consider he was learning a brand new offense under first-year coach Scott Linehan last season.

For his career, Bulger has thrown for 16,233 yards with 95 touchdowns and 59 interceptions for a 91.3 passer rating and a career 64.4 percent completion percentage. Not bad for a guy who was a sixth round draft pick.

For comparison, Manning has a 64 percent completion percentage and a 94.4 passer rating. Not much difference is there?

He doesn't have the Super Bowl rings of Tom Brady or Manning, nor the arm of a Carson Palmer, but he has the heart of a lion and the determination of a Hannibal, leading his soldiers over the Alps. Bulger won't let adversity stop him.

He was considered too small in stature and arm strength coming out of West Virginia. How did he answer the critics?

All he's done is go to two Pro Bowls, winning an MVP in one of them, while leading the Rams to the playoffs three times in his five years as a starter. Bulger may have had a Super Bowl ring on his finger by now if the Rams defense would have been sturdier.

His accuracy is tops in the league. Most of the other quarterbacks would agree with that. He can hit a receiver in stride without breaking his rhythm. He's a silent leader who does his talking on the field. Simply put, he's the best quarterback no one knows about.

His name is Marc Bulger and he's one of the best of his generation. Maybe someday he'll get the respect he so richly deserves.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Goodell May Shorten Draft Time Limits

In what we could only hope happens, NFL boss Roger Goodell is considering shorting time limits for making selections in the first two rounds of the draft.

The subject may be brought up when owners convene next Tuesday in Nashville for the league's annual spring meeting. The main focus of the one-day get together will be what city will host the Super Bowl in 2011.

This year's draft included the longest first round in history, at six hours and eight minutes. It also had the longest first day, with the first three rounds stretching 11 hours, four minutes.

The current time limits are 15 minutes for the first round, 10 minutes for the second, and five minutes for the final five rounds. The competition committee is expected to recommend time limits of 10 minutes for the first round, seven minutes for the second, and five minutes for the remaining rounds.

Because the draft falls under the auspices of the commissioner, a formal vote technically isn't necessary to enact changes in the lottery, but Goodell is not inclined to act alone on the matter. Instead, the owners could reduce the time limits by simply affirming a recommendation from the competition committee.

Part of the reason for the reduction is that Goodell and NFL owners would like to get at least the first round in prime time televison. The NFL Draft has grown by leaps and bounds and prime time equals prime dollars for the league.

I for one don't care about that. I love the draft, but 11-plus hours is way too long even for the most die hard draftniks. The owners, coaches, personnel men and scouts have had months and months to evaluate the players. Why should it take them 15 minutes to make a decision after all that preparation?

Here's hoping the Goodell and the owners have the good sense to shorten the time lag.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

McNabb Should Be Ready For Training Camp

Barring any setbacks, Donovan McNabb should be ready when the Philadelphia Eagles open training camp in 2½ months.

The five-time Pro Bowl quarterback has rehabbed vigorously since a knee injury ended his season in Week 11 last year. He's running and throwing and is on course for a complete return when players report to camp on July 27.

"He's been throwing once a week, and he looks good in that area," coach Andy Reid said Monday after the team completed its first minicamp. "Progressively, he'll be given more days where he can get out and throw, and he'll continue his rehab. The closer we get to camp, he'll be back to full speed. So, we're expecting him, when camp starts, to be able to participate."

McNabb is spending a lot of time at the team's practice facility, but also will rehab at his home in Arizona part of the summer. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last Nov. 19. It was the third time in five years that McNabb's regular season ended in mid-November.

When the Eagles hold their first practice of training camp, it'll be exactly eight months to the day McNabb had reconstructive knee surgery. The season opener at Green Bay on Sept. 9 will be 9½ months post-surgery.

McNabb was having one of the best statistical seasons of his eight-year career before he got injured. He finished with 2,647 yards passing, 18 TDs, six interceptions and a passer rating of 95.5.

The Eagles surprised quite a few people, including McNabb, by picking quarterback Kevin Kolb in the second round with their first selection in last month's NFL draft. However, there is no quarterback controversy. McNabb is the starter for as long as he stays healthy.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Both Favre, Packers In The Right

The Brett Favre/Green Bay Packers drama that played out in the media over the weekend is a case of both the player and the team being in the right.

This isn't a black and white issue. There is no hero or villain. Each side has a valid argument and both are correct in their rationales.

In case you missed all that happened, Favre expressed his disappointment that the Green Bay brass could have gotten Randy Moss but wouldn't give up a fourth round pick to get him.

Favre talked to Moss all off season, they have the same agent, and Moss expressed an interest in playing with the Pack.

Moss ended up going to New England and Favre vented his frustrations at his annual celebrity golf tournament in Mississippi on Saturday.

"It is disappointing," Favre said on Saturday. "We could have gotten him for less money than New England did. He wanted to play in Green Bay for the amount of money we would have paid him. It [was] well worth the risk."

"The last thing I want to do is start any [controversy]," Favre said. "But I think he would have been a great addition. You throw Randy Moss, you throw [current starters] Donald Driver and Greg Jennings on the field at the same time, and go three-wide receiver set ... and I think it's pretty intimidating. And we lost out on that, and I think that it's a shame, because I know we could have had him."

Rumors of Favre asking to be traded were unfounded of course. As he made clear today.

"I was frustrated a couple weeks back when Randy Moss was traded to New England. I never wanted to be traded and I don't want to be traded. I want to be in Green Bay," Favre said Monday in a statement posted on the team's Web site. "I want to finish my career as a Packer. Sometimes when I get frustrated I let my emotions get the better of me.

"As I said in February when I announced that I was coming back, I am excited about the young talent on our team and the improvements we're going to see from one year to the next. I really enjoy the young guys I'm playing with. I'm working hard down in Mississippi right now, rehabbing, and I plan to be in the best shape of my life. I look forward to playing with this team and seeing what we can do. I think we can be pretty good."

Both sides are right.

Favre is entering his 17th year and he wants to win now. Who knows how many seasons he has left? At the most, the soon-to-be Hall of Famer is down to the last 1-2 years left of his career and he wants one more chance at a Super Bowl.

To Favre, a vet like Moss might be the difference between last year's eight-win Packers and a 10, 11, or 12-win 2007 squad.

On the other hand, GM Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy are looking towards the future. The Packers brass want to go young and the future does not rest in the hands of a 38-year old quarterback, future Hall-of-Famer candidate or not.

You can't build a team around a quarterback entering his 17th year who openly wonders if the next season is his last, and who in 2006 had a worse TD to INT ratio than Rex Grossman, Michael Vick, Eli Manning, Steve McNair and J.P. Losman, among others. While Thompson says all the right things publicly, his actions speak clearly: If Green Bay is going to win a Super Bowl, it's more likely that Aaron Rodgers or someone else will be the quarterback other than Favre.

For now, Favre and the Packer front office are stuck with each other. Favre knows his time is short and he wants to win now, but is there enough around him to get to the Super Bowl?

That question, unfortunately, is a very big no.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Tweleve Elected to College Hall of Fame

Doug Flutie was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday in his first year of eligibility, joining Ahmad Rashad and 10 other players honored by the National Football Foundation.

The 5-foot-10 (barely) Flutie won the Heisman Trophy in 1984 for Boston College and threw one of the most memorable passes in college football history. His 48-yard touchdown pass to Gerard Phelan as time expired gave the Eagles a 47-45 victory over Miami. The desperation 'Hail Flutie' toss and the sight of him leaping in the air as he sprinted down field to celebrate with his teammates has become timeless.

Flutie threw for 10,579 yards in his college career and led BC to a 10-2 record and Cotton Bowl victory during his Heisman season.

Flutie was elected with Rashad, a star receiver and running back at Oregon, and former Dartmouth linebacker Reggie Williams.

The other new Hall of Famers are: Oklahoma center Tom Brahaney, Michigan defensive back Dave Brown, Clemson linebacker Jeff Davis, Texas defensive back Johnnie Johnson, Ohio State quarterback Rex Kern, Indiana running back Anthony Thompson, Houston defensive tackle Wilson Whitley, Southern California linebacker Richard Wood and Notre Dame defensive tackle Chris Zorich.

Herb Deromedi, who won 110 games as coach at Central Michigan over 13 seasons, also was elected.

The latest class will be inducted at the National Football Foundation's awards banquet in December and enshrined at the Hall in South Bend, Ind., during the summer of 2008.

Penn State coach Joe Paterno, elected last year, will be inducted and enshrined with this year's class. Paterno's induction was postponed last year because he was still recovering after breaking his leg during a game against Wisconsin in November.

Rashad was known as Bobby Moore during his college career at Oregon, where he played running back and wide receiver and was a three-time all-Pac-8 selection (1969-71). He went on to play 11 seasons in the NFL, his best years with the Minnesota Vikings

Williams, who still holds the Dartmouth record for unassisted tackles in a career, is the first black player from the Ivy League elected to the Hall of Fame.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Titans Sign Two; Barlow To Steelers

The Tennessee Titans signed quarterback Tim Rattay and also claimed linebacker Gilbert Gardner off waivers from the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday.

The Titans also signed free-agent offensive lineman Marques Ogden and fullback Jonathan Evans and waived defensive tackle Marcus White and undrafted rookies fullback Nic Luc and defensive tackle Adrian Haywood. Ogden is the younger brother of Baltimore left tackle Jonathan Ogden.

Tennessee carried only two quarterbacks on the roster in 2006, with veteran Kerry Collins backing up Vince Young, and Matt Mauck was on the practice squad. Collins re-signed with the Titans this offseason.

Rattay started 18 games with San Francisco and Tampa Bay, including playing in the final four games last season for the Buccaneers. His best season was in 2004, when he had nine starts and threw for 2,169 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Gardner, a third-round pick in 2004, becomes the third former Indianapolis defender the Titans have picked up. They signed linebacker David Thornton as a free agent last year and gave cornerback Nick Harper a three-year deal in March.

Gardner had 97 tackles and 15 starts with the Colts over the past three seasons, with 12 of those starts coming last season.

Still seeking to fill the void they experienced last season when the retirement of Jerome Bettis left the offense without a power-type tailback, the Pittsburgh Steelers have reached agreement with free agent Kevan Barlow on a one-year contract.

Financial details of the agreement, which has been rumored for the past several days, were not immediately available.

A Pittsburgh native who attended that city's Peabody High School and then starred at the University of Pittsburgh, the six-year veteran will sign the deal before the Friday morning start to the team's first mandatory minicamp under new coach Mike Tomlin.

In Pittsburgh, it's expected that Barlow will compete with Najeh Davenport for the No. 2 tailback job behind Willie Parker. The coaching staff wants to reduce the workload for Parker, a speedy but undersized tailback who logged a career-high 337 rushes in 2006. Davenport carried just 60 times as Parker's backup in 2006; third-down tailback Verron Haynes, who might still be in camp with Pittsburgh if he can successfully rehabilitate his surgically repaired knee, had only 15 carries.

Parker rushed for 1,494 yards and 13 touchdowns, but the consensus is that he might be even more productive with a little more rest.

For his career, Barlow has carried 1,022 times for 3,984 yards and 30 touchdowns. He also has 144 receptions for 1,164 yards and three scores. Barlow has appeared in 84 games and started in 33 of them.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Eagles Did Right In Drafting a QB

Donovan McNabb said in a recent interview that he was shocked the Philadelphia Eagles drafted a quarterback with their first selection in the 2007 NFL Draft.

He shouldn't be.

The Eagles are just protecting themselves. It has nothing to do with a lack of loyalty to McNabb, it has everything to do with the future of the franchise. Kolb may or may not be the man to replace McNabb, but Andy Reid and GM Tom Heckert are thinking long term and decided Kolb was the best fit.

McNabb is still the number one guy, but the time frame on Donovan's career is hitting the tail end.

He will be 31 years old at the start of this season and he hasn't been able to play a full 16 games in three of his last five years. Plus, McNabb has only two more years left on his contract so you can't blame Reid and the Eagles for looking ahead to life without Donovan.

This is a business, first and foremost, and the Eagles are looking at it from a business perspective. The Eagles needed to take a quarterback in this draft. The only question that remains is Kolb the right man for the job.

He does have the stats on his side. The Eagles traded out of the first round and chose Kolb in the second round with the 36th overall pick. Kolb threw for 12,964 yards, 85 touchdowns and 31 interceptions in four years at Houston. He passed for 3,808 yards, 30 TDs and only four picks last season.

Some question if he's ready for the NFL. He's a system quarterback who threw mainly out of the shotgun in college. One thing that is on his side is time. He can learn under McNabb and A.J. Feely, provided McNabb is will to be a mentor. Donovan is still the man, even though he sounds awfully threatened by the selection of Kolb.

McNabb told WIP-AM radio that he was shocked when the Eagles took Kolb. He then had a meeting with Reid, but he wouldn't say what the conversation was about. Who want to bet it was about Kolb? Sounds like a guy who's not to secure about his job.

The Eagles open their first minicamp on Friday. McNabb won't participate in practices but will be working out at the practice facility. He said he isn't sure if he'll play in the preseason opener on Aug. 13, but expects to be ready for the second or third game.

McNabb has led the Eagles to four NFC championship games and a Super Bowl loss in eight seasons in Philadelphia. He has done a great job and his legacy is assured, but
father time is breathing down his neck and so is a young quarterback from Houston. Only time will tell how it all plays out.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

NFL News and Notes

Receiver Steve Smith agreed to a three-year contract extension with the Carolina Panthers on Tuesday in a deal that will keep him with the team through the 2012 season.

Smith had been hoping to get a new deal for some time and the Panthers had made a long-term deal one of their priorities after releasing veteran receiver Keyshawn Johnson last week.

Smith, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, led the NFL with 103 catches for 1,563 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2005. Smith's numbers declined last season. He missed the first two games with a hamstring injury, and finished with 20 fewer catches, 400 fewer receiving yards and four fewer touchdowns as Carolina went 8-8.

Six-year veteran defensive right end Justin Smith, designated by the Cincinnati Bengals as a franchise player before the start of the free agency period, on Tuesday signed the one-year tender, guaranteeing him a base salary of $8.644 million for the 2007 season.

Smith is the third of the NFL's seven franchise players to sign a contract. New Orleans defensive end Charles Grant recently signed a seven-year contract with a maximum value of $63 million, including $20 million in guarantees. Last week, Seattle kicker Josh Brown signed a one-year tender for $2.078 million.

Smith, 27, is a steady if unspectacular player who was the team's first-round selection in the 2001 draft. While he may never play up to his status as the fourth overall prospect chosen that year, Smith is a solid and durable two-way player who has led Bengals' linemen in tackles for each of the past five seasons.

The former Missouri standout has appeared in 95 straight games, all starts, and missed just one contest, the season opener in his rookie year. His absence in the opening game that year was because of a protracted contract negotiation, with Smith not signing until the eve of the first game.

For his career, Smith has 388 tackles, 41½ sacks, seven forced fumbles, five recoveries, two interceptions and 15 passes defensed.

The rumor mill is running at full speed this week with news of Keyshawn Johnson, Corey Dillon and Kevan Barlow.

Depending on the offer Johnson most likely will land in either Tennessee or Green Bay for the 2007 season. A lot depends on whether Keyshawn thinks the Titans and Packers can be playoff teams. Both franchises were 8-8 last season.

Look for Johnson to end up in Tennessee. Vince Young needs an experienced receiver after Drew Bennett and David Patten left town and the organization failed to draft a big time receiver in the draft.

Barlow, released last week by the Jets, is in Pittsburgh looking for a deal. Both sides are considering a one-year deal that will enable Barlow, a former star running back at Pitt, to return to the facility he trained at while in college. The Steelers' headquarters is next to the Pitt practice field on the South Side of Pittsburgh.

Barlow had been a consideration for the Titans, Packers and a few other teams, but offers were slow coming. The Steelers have been looking for a big back to pair next to Willie Parker. If things work out, Barlow could be a Steeler by the end of the week.

Although it's a long shot, Pro Football Weekly is hearing Dillon could be considered by the Rams down the road if he became willing to be a backup to Steven Jackson. Dillon has close ties with Rams head coach Scott Linehan and new special-teams coach Al Roberts, both of whom coached him in college at Washington.

Dillon drew interest from Baltimore and Buffalo earlier in the offseason, but both teams chose other options at running back. Dillon, 32, rushed for 812 yards last season and led the Patriots with 13 touchdowns.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Did I Sleep Through The 2007 Season?

Can someone help me? Did I sleep through the 2007 season?

Did I suddenly become Rip Van Winkle? How could I have missed out on the New England Patriots winning Super Bowl XLII?

But wait. I just checked my calender and unless my eyes are playing tricks on me it's only May 7 and the regular season is still four months away.

If that's the case, then why in the hell is practically every football writer, website and newspaper handing the Lombardi Trophy to the Patriots?

The off-season additions of Adalius Thomas, Tory James, Donte Stallworth, Wes Walker and Randy Moss, have made the Patriots stronger. There's no doubt about that. On paper, New England is one of the favorites. But games aren't won on paper. They're won on the field.

How can anyone in their right mind pencil New England into the Super Bowl when training camp hasn't even started yet?

Did people suddenly forget that San Diego is loaded with talent and Philip Rivers is another year older and probably wiser? Let's not forget Indianapolis either. The defending champions got even stronger on offense with the addition of Anthony Gonzalez in the slot and Tony Ugoh is a future fixture at tackle.

The Colts did lose both corners in free agency, but Tony Dungy's Cover 2 scheme doesn't need great cover corners and youngsters Marlin Jackson, Kelvin Hayden and Tim Jennings should be able to adequately replace Nick Harper and Jason David. And let's not forget Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne.

Over in the NFC, Philadelphia and New Orleans got stonger, Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander are healthy for Seattle and Chicago still has that tough defense.

There are too many variables to start making Super Bowl predictions right now. The main one being injuries. Every year some big name players go down during the long grind of training camp and preseason. Who can say that won't happen to New England?

Every team has question marks and the Pats are no different. Will Randy Moss behave himself? Can the key players stay healthy? Can Laurence Maroney take the pounding of a full season as number one tailback? Can an aging defense be as good as it has been, even with the addition of Thomas?

The Moss deal was a good one. He's well worth a fourth round pick, but he's a one dimensional receiver who will need Welker and Stallworth to take defenders away from Moss to give Randy one-on-one chances.

It seems many in the media are picking the Pats just because of the Moss deal. My question to them is - how many Super Bowl rings does Randy Moss have? Wide receivers don't win Super Bowls. It takes a strong defense and an effective running game.

New England is aging on the defensive side (Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Rodney Harrison) and Maroney had a lot of help from Corey Dillon last season. The jury is still out on his ability to be a feature back.

The Patriots are good and have a chance to go all the way, but it's way too early to start making Super Bowl predictions.

Friday, May 04, 2007

NFL Free Agency

Addressing a need it missed in the draft, Philadelphia signed former Chicago free-agent defensive tackle Ian Scott to a one-year, $1 million deal. Scott visited the New England Patriots on Wednesday, then flew straight to Philadelphia, where he linked up with his new team. The Bears now have lost Scott and Alphonso Boone from last season's defensive line.

This is a great pickup for the Eagles. Scott is not All-Pro caliber by any means, but he's a solid performer who has started on a Super Bowl team. Scott plugs the middle and eats up space for the linebackers to make a play. With the addition of Montae Reagor and Scott, Philadelphia should be much better against the run in 2007.

In the same week the Jacksonville Jaguars released him, punter Chris Hanson reached agreement with the New Orleans Saints on a one-year, $630,000 deal. New Orleans punter last season was Steven Weatherford, who averaged 43.8 yards per punt.

Also, Buffalo and Cincinnati each put in a waiver claim for former USC and Dolphins defensive tackle Manny Wright on Tuesday. But on the basis of records, Wright's services were awarded to Buffalo.

Wright, along with Marcus Vick were released this week by the Dolphins. Wright has talent, but his immaturity has hurt his chances of having a solid NFL career.

Seattle's free-agent kicker Josh Brown signed his one-year, $2.078 million tender, meaning the player that the Seahawks franchised last winter will be kicking for them this fall. The two sides will continue talking about a long-term contract, but they haven't made significant progress toward one just yet. The highest paid kicker in the game is Indianapolis' Adam Vinatieri, who makes an average of $2.4 million per season.

Brown is a clutch kicker and the Seahawks were wise to keep him in the fold. Brown collected three game-winning field goals last season, two of those were against the division rival Rams.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Johnson, Hicks Released; Sims Dealt to Bucs

Football can be a cruel game, especially for established veterans.

You sacrifice your body for years and years and then when you reach the dreaded 30s, a good player becomes expensive and expendable.

Just ask WR Keyshawn Johnson and DE Eric Hicks - both were released on Tuesday.

The Carolina Panthers drafted wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett on Saturday and cut Johnson on Tuesday.

They said they wanted to get younger," Johnson told the St. Petersburg Times on Tuesday. "That's fine with me. I'd like to go somewhere and help someone win another Super Bowl."

Johnson, who will turn 35 in July, had 70 catches for 815 yards and four touchdowns last season and became the 16th player in NFL history with 800 career catches. The Panthers signed Johnson last year after he was released by Dallas in a salary cap move so the Cowboys could sign Terrell Owens.

Hicks was released by Kansas City three days after the Chiefs drafted Turk McBride in the draft.

Hicks, who made the Chiefs' roster as an undrafted free agent out of Maryland in 1998, has appeared in 128 games with 104 starts over nine seasons. Hicks ranks fifth in team history with 44 1/2 sacks, with a career-best 14 sacks in 2000. He also ranks 12th in tackles with 574 -- including 284 solo stops -- with a single-season best of 118 tackles in 2003.

It's going to be tough for either of them to land somewhere until training camps start in July. Both teams will probably have to settle for a veteran's minimum contract.

Despite their aging bodies, Johnson and Hicks should provide a team with solid play and veteran leadership.

Defensive tackle Ryan Sims, the sixth overall pick in the 2002 draft, was traded by Kansas City to Tampa Bay for an undisclosed draft choice.

Sims was a huge disappointment with the Chiefs, often overweight and often injured.

In five seasons, the 6-foot-4, 315-pounders appeared in 59 games with 36 starts. Over that span, he had 149 tackles -- 79 unassisted -- with five sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Bad Boys: Jones Appeals; Tank Pleads Guilty

Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones notified the league office yesterday that he is appealing the season-long suspension imposed by Commissioner Roger Goodell for violating the NFL's conduct policy.

Jones has been questioned by the police in a series of incidents since being drafted in 2005 and is facing possible felony and misdemeanor charges stemming from a February incident in Las Vegas. Goodell suspended Jones for the 2007 season, but made the suspension subject to review after 10 games.

No hearing is scheduled yet. Jones's appeal is to be heard by Goodell or a person designated by him.

Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge.

Johnson pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm without an owner's identification as part of a deal with prosecutors to avoid additional jail time. He is to serve 45 days in jail, a term that is to be served concurrently with the 120-day sentence that he's already serving for violating his probation in a previous gun case. Johnson was arrested in December after police officers found six unregistered firearms in his home.

Johnson is expected to be suspended by Goodell for a significant portion of next season.