OK, I get it that football is a business, and NFL players have relatively short careers.
But what would happen to any of us in “the real world” if we had a contract and just decided not to show up for work? Methinks everyone knows the answer to that one.
Now, maybe Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan should tone down the rhetoric with the things he’s said about holdout running back Maurice Jones-Drew. It certainly doesn’t help the situation. However, the bottom line is that Jones-Drew is under contract – for two more years – and he has decided not to honor that contract. That’s why he is being fined for every day he misses.
And, spare me the bleating about how teams cut players with time remaining on their contracts. The reality is they can do that because the contract language allows it and every team and every agent knows it when pen is put to paper.
After Khan’s recent comments, Jones-Drew’s agent decided to join the fray. Adisi Bakari claimed Jones-Drew is upset with what Khan said and said, “Obviously, he’s not happy that what started as a very cordial and private conversation is now public and contentious.”
Oh, so it wasn’t public and contentious when Jones-Drew started not showing up for work. Cordial doesn’t seem to be a word that fits the situation.
Bakari also said Jones-Drew believes Khan’s words were disrespectful. Funny that word should be used. After all, what respect is Jones-Drew showing for his employer and teammates by breaching his contract?
Bakari said, “Maurice wants to play for an organization that wants him and for an owner who respects him and values what he brings to a team — on the field, in the locker room and in the community.”
Really? Surely, Khan respects Jones-Drew. He’s simply playing hardball and wants Drew to continue doing all those things “on the field, in the locker room and in the community” under terms of his current contract, a contract by the way that is scheduled to pay him $4.45 million this year.
The five-year contract he signed just three years ago included $17.5 million guaranteed and a $9 million signing bonus. Wouldn’t we all love to be disrespected so much to be paid that kind of money?
Jones-Drew is an excellent player. But he is also part of a group of athletes that somehow believe the sport won’t be played when they are no longer around. The reality is the Jaguars have lost a lot of games with Jones-Drew on the field. And they can easily lose a lot of games without him.
Starting Rookie Quarterbacks
It’s already known that four rookie quarterbacks will be the opening-day starters for their teams: Andrew Luck of the Colts, Robert Griffin of the Redskins, Ryan Tannehill of the Dolphins and Brandon Weeden of the Browns.
There could be a fifth if Seattle’s Russell Wilson starts, although despite Wilson getting the nod this week, it appears Matt Flynn will be the Seahawks’ starter when the season begins. But, at the very least, Wilson has injected himself into the conversation. There are seven other teams starting quarterbacks that are in their second or third NFL seasons.
On ESPN’s NFL Live, former league general manager Bill Polian said, “What it tells us is, we have the most talented class since the (Dan) Marino, (Jim) Kelly class of ’83. That’s No. 1. No. 2, we know it’s a quarterback-driven league. No. 3, with all respect to another network, this is still the football apprentice. These guys are apprentices. They are learning on the job, and it will be three years before we know whether or not any of them have the capability to take a team to championships.
“They’re all talented. They’ve all earned the spots — on collegiate play and talent, but they’re young and they’re going to make mistakes just as Peyton Manning did. Just as Dan Marino did when he first came in after even sitting a while. It’s going to take them some time. In three years, we’ll know.”
Difficult situations often lead to head-scratching statements by those close to what’s happening. That is the case with Ray Anderson, one of the more level-headed employees of the NFL. Anderson is the league’s executive vice president of football operations, and a large part of his job is overseeing the officiating department.
So it was that Anderson made a sobering admission to Newsday when he said, “I would anticipate that it would go into the regular season, unless the parties get back to the table in a hurry. “And frankly, I don’t see either of us stepping forward and making that move. We feel we have been aggressively fair in our offer on the economic and non-economic issues, and they don’t. Until that bridge is narrowed or shortened some, and I don’t know when that time might come, I’m focused on getting the current officials ready for Week 3 and Week 4.”
The astounding reality is that there have been little if any negotiations since the officials were locked out in June. The league is hell-bent on using replacements apparently believing the regular officials will cave, while the locked-out officials know they will lose income, but that they still have full-time jobs. The officials also likely figure there will be egregious mistakes when the games start counting, and the league will come crawling.
Of course, Anderson concluded, “Are we prepared to stay the course if there is no desire on their part to narrowing the gap? The answer to that question is yes.”
Goodell Can’t Eat Here
While Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma remains under suspension, a restaurant he co-owns in Miami doesn’t have the welcome mat out for commissioner Roger Goodell.
In fact, the restaurant, Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, which opened Aug. 8, is ensuring that Goodell can’t eat there. Also owned by Carolina Panthers linebacker Jon Beason and Denver Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams, the restaurant has photos posted of Goodell on the front windows and inside that have the words, “DO NOT SERVE THIS MAN.”
Something tells me Goodell isn’t losing sleep over this one.
Season Might Not be Over for Rogers
When the Giants recently discovered that defensive tackle Shaun Rogers had a blood clot in his calf, they thought he would miss the entire season.
Coach Tom Coughlin said at the time, “It’s very sad, because you don’t know the real story. He lost 50 pounds. He went from the high 380s to 334 to check in at. He was really excited about being a part of this team. He got along really well with our defensive linemen. He actually asked to go play some more snaps the other night, which I thought was really neat. It’s just a shame. I hate to see … obviously, it’s your health first, and there isn’t any question about that.
“The only way I guess they can control these things are with these drugs, these blood-thinning drugs. Once you do that, obviously you’re done. I mean, you can’t take a chance on some kind of bleeding that is undetected. So, it’s just a sad thing.”
Now, Coughlin said Tuesday “there’s a ray of hope” that his season might not be over.
“We’re just going to hang in there as long as we can,” Coughlin said. “There is a chance that he could come back and play. It’s what we’ve been told so we’re just going to hang in there as long as we can and see if we can, see if they can determine where he is and how fast he would be able to play and all of that stuff.”
The hope is linked to a different medication that Rogers is taking, and Coughlin said, “That medication is supposedly something that can be dealt with after a certain amount of time. Whether it’s five, six weeks, whatever, I’m not sure.”
*Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck on Jake Locker being named the starter: “I’ve been in his shoes. It’s an exciting thing for him to have the chance to help lead a franchise or help build a program and have a chance to be the guy under center. I’ll help and support him any way I can, and I’ll be happy to do it.”
Dallas Cowboys owners on wide receiver Mile Austin (hamstring) sitting out the final two preseason games: “We’re basically just wanting to make sure he’s ready for New York (season opener Sept. 5). That’s where it’s all headed for him. He probably still needs some work, just logic tells you, before he gets in the game … but we’re not interested in seeing him play (in a preseason game). The risks of him getting out there and really competing at this time would, I think, be overruled by the game we have for him being completely healthy in New York.”
Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt on cautioning everyone not to jump to conclusions because John Skelton will start Thursday against Tennessee and play into the second half: “I don’t think there’s any pressure or any reason to say you would have to make that decision before that game. I just want to make sure we have enough situational evaluations of these players to make that decision.”