Brady looking for more than Jeff Finger money

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

National Football League teams opened training camps this weekend with all 32 franchises scheduled to begin knocking heads by this Saturday.

So far, nobody’s bruised an ego, although there’s some question as to whether both Dez Bryant and Roy Williams can fit their heads through the Dallas Cowboys’ dressing room doorway at the same time.

In Washington, Albert Haynesworth still believes he’s the league’s highest paid defensive co-ordinator. And, in New England, there is angst and hope (depending on the day or hour you ask) about whether Tom Brady will sign a contract extension.

Brady’s situation has been brewing since the spring and it will continue to be an issue because its resolution will affect many other players. The Colts would like to re-sign quarterback Peyton Manning, the Saints Drew Brees and the Redskins Donovan McNabb. The big hang-up is the labour-management Armageddon which looms next season. Owners don’t want to get caught with their, ah, assets down, when a new agreement is reached. But while NFL owners might be bitchy about getting players to give up more, there is every evidence to support the players’ argument that they are already paid less than athletes in other pro sports.

Brady will earn $3.5 million this season. So, the suggestion that NFL players are paupers won’t hold. Players also get bonuses (see Haynesworth’s pot of gold for confirmation). But when NFL Players Association President Kevin Mawae notes that the league’s stars play for bargain prices compared to their counterparts in other sports there are statistics to back the argument.

Jermaine O’Neal just signed a deal paying him $6 million a season with the Celtics, and he isn’t counted on to be a fulltime starter. Jeff Finger gets $3 million from the Leafs and everyone knows how that (sob, pass the kleenex) turned out. Bobby Ryan just turned down $5 million per year from the NHL’s Ducks and he doesn’t have near the profile of Brady. And, lets not even get started on Ilya Kovalchuk.

Chris Bosh — your everyday NBA superstar — gets $20 million a year. Meanwhile, no NFL player earns $20 million per year, even though it is the most popular and profitable pro league in America. Reports indicate Brady is not happy about being held hostage as league owners try to play hardball with the union.

True, NFL players have shorter seasons and play 16 games compared to 82 but when backup point guard Chris Duhon signs for $3.75 million with the Magic, he doesn’t have 300-pound linemen torpedoing his knees or trying to re-arrange his bridgwork every weekend. And, nobody’s expecting him, as New England does Brady, to carry the franchise.

There is an argument that, like movie stars, actors and lawyers, professional athletes are worth whatever they can get. And, whatever Brady gets, history suggests he’ll be worth it.

SAY WHAT?

Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun Times reports that FOX TV personality Glenn Beck recently referred to Bears’ middle linebacker Brian Urlacher as “a neo-Nazi” because of his shaved head. Observation: Evidence that being born mute wouldn’t necesarily be a bad thing.

DOUBLE TROUBLE

This offseason, the Detroit Lions famously rid themselves of the last player drafted by the Rocky Horror Picture Show, otherwise known as the Matt Millen regime, when they released Daniel Bullocks.

But then they resigned Dre’ Bly. They intend to use him against the multi-receiver sets used by the Bears’ and Vikings because of his knack for jumping routes and making interceptions. But he’s also infamously known on YouTube for showboating and getting stripped of the ball while with the 49ers.

Evidently, you can take a guy out of the Lions roster, but you can’t (heavy sigh!) take the Lion out of the guy.

BUCKING A TREND

Mawae says the players’ association would back testing for human growth hormones. Sort of. “We’re not opposed to testing as long as we know it’s a viable test, and a test that’s beyond reproach, and right now we don’t think that’s the case.”

Not sure what that means but a dollar sign with a couple more zeros would probably clarify the issue for most players.

INSURANCE MAN

The Cleveland Browns reached agreement on a four-year contract with quarterback Colt McCoy. The deal is worth up to $5 million. But its purely an investment in the future.

If McCoy shows up anywhere but the sidelines this season the Browns will be in trouble. He’s the No. 3 option behind Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace. The only way McCoy starts is if Delhomme has a repeat of last year’s disaster, Wallace hasn’t improved or both get injured.

In other words, if McCoy starts a game the Browns would’ve already played themselves out of playoff contention.

DEZ SAYS NO TO ROOKIE HAZING

Dez Bryant would be happy to take Roy Williams’ job.

It’s Williams’ shoulder pads he has a problem with — Bryant refusing this weekend to participate in an NFL rite of passage that sees rookies carry veteran’s pads to the locker room after practice.

When Williams gave his pads to Bryant after morning practice, Bryant declined to carry them, saying: “I was drafted to play football, not carry another player’s pads.”

Williams was unimpressed, unlike Cowboys’ fans who have taken an instant liking to Bryant who is cheered even when he makes routine plays. Williams seems unable to get along with anyone from his quarterback to the fans who booed him Sunday when he dropped a pass in practice. Meantime, Bryant runs a lap around the field high-fiving fans before going into the locker room after practices.

So, what happens now? “We’ll find out,” Williams said. “I’ve seen guys take people’s credit cards and go fill up their cards and wife’s cards and everything. There’s a lot of dirt that goes on in that locker room.”

Rookie hazing has long been a tradition in the NFL. Bill Parcells used to make first-round draft picks bring him water during practice breaks and other players end up with unusual haircuts — in even more unusual places. As exercises in team chemistry go, it looks like this experiment just blew up.


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