A day away from the end of an NFL football fan’s worst nightmare, the league’s news-making machine has kicked it into high gear once again.
And as an individual who loves all brands of football and was starting to feel some serious NFL withdrawal, this day couldn’t come soon enough.
From the frenzied free agent speculation to the talk of which teams have weathered the lockout best to who is actually healthy enough and more importantly who is not for the days away opening of training camps, there is no shortage of NFL football talk to be found.
Assuming the expected actually does occur and the players and owners sign off on a deal Thursday, that talk will only increase as the season gets closer.
We can’t offer you all the news the lockout may have deprived you of, but here is a sampling of the NFL tidbits we consider the most interesting/important and intriguing as the delayed run-up to the 2011 season gets under way.
The most intriguing story as this lockout nears an end is just who was responsible for that hiccup in negotiations earlier this week when a handful of the players who put their names forward as plaintiffs in the suit against the league once the NFLPA had decertified, tried to get a little something extra for their efforts.
At least, that’s the way it appeared initially. But whether Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Logan Mankins and Vincent Jackson actually signed off on what appears to be a last-minute attempt at an individual payoff, only the players themselves know for sure.
The story being spouted the past couple of days suggests the players were unaware what their lawyers and representatives were attempting or, according to others, was a complete fabrication by the media.
What we do know is the backlash from some of the rank and file in the players union, as well as the media, made sure this didn’t get too far.
As quickly as this firestorm began, it seemed to die down. Manning and Brees’ agent Tom Condon, in an interview with Rich Eisen said there never was any request from any individual for his own personal gain, but there was a one-time franchise limitation as part of the proposal the players made to the league. According to Condon, that limitation applied to all 1,800 players, not just the 10 plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
There is precedent for the named plaintiff’s getting a little something extra. In 1993 Reggie White, Michael Buck, Hardy Nickerson, Vann McElroy and Dave Duerson all received a lifetime exemption from the franchise tag.
But what got the rank and file all worked up this time around wasn’t so much the possibility that the plaintiff’s might get some form of franchise limitation as was the demand, reported by Yahoo Sports, that agents for Mankins and Jackson made. The two are named plaintiff’s in the case and apparently their agents wanted both players ruled to be unrestricted free agents when the lockout is over or that they receive $10 million US each as part of the settlement. Both players sat out a huge chunk of the 2010 season when they failed to come to an agreement with their respective teams.
This is the one that caught the attention of plenty of players including Minnesota punter Chris Kluwe who didn’t appreciate the last-second attempt at a cash grab and called out not just Mankins and Jackson but also Brees and Manning for this apparent hypocrisy.
Kluwe is not wrong, but the last time a punter tried to call out Manning, he got put back in his place rather quickly.
Fortunately for Kluwe, unlike Mike Vanderjagt, he’s not punting for the Colts. For us, we’ll choose to believe it was the greedy lawyers and agents trying to take advantage of an opportunity and bettering their own bottom line by improving the one’s of those that they represent. Why rain on a good day? It’s not like we could think any less of the lawyers and agents of the world?
Agent Tom Condon gave a bit of a sneak peak into what the deal will mean for rookies coming into the league. The days of a Sam Bradford making superstar money before he has played a down are over. Condon said the top 10 draftees would be looking at “substantial reductions” in their earning power in the first four years in the league compared to what they have in the past. Condon figures it will wind up taking about $100-million out of the rookie salary pool that will now be distributed to veterans ... New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft will not be in attendance for Thursday’s expected ratification. His wife, Myra, a noted philanthropist, passed away on Wednesday. The funeral will be held on Friday.