Analysis: The UFL stakes everything on an NFL lockout.

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UFL

It was no accident that the UFL formed after the NFL owners officially pulled out of the existing collective bargaining agreement. The UFL owners saw an opening and wanted to take advantage of it. That is why they had to begin playing in 09. It is also why they cut back from a projected 8 teams to just 4 but will stage games in 7 cities. They want to be around in 2010 and 2011 just in case there is a strike.

Right now, things don’t look all that good for the fans of the NFL. There are several indicators pointing toward a strike/lockout. First, the NFLPA has a new Executive Director. DeMaurice Smith is new. He beat out a couple of former players that publicly took hard line stances against the NFL but he is going to have to prove that he is tough enough to keep the job. The NFLPA members have heard from other candidates that the new agreement will eliminate the salary cap, increase the percentage of total revenue that the players get and increase benefits. All this in the face of the toughest economy since the depression.

When Smith took his office, he said that he would begin discussions with the league soon. There have been reports of some meetings but there are no indications of any serious discussions. The only meeting made public was described as an informal meet and greet.

Meanwhile, the NFL owners are intent on reducing the total take of the players and insist that the salary cap is non-negotiable. That is the stuff of a long and painful strike.

The UFL is starting out signing a few former NFL players that are known and plans to fill the rest of the teams with young players with potential. The official league tag line is “Where young stars come to play.” The league has signed experienced and well known NFL coaches including Dennis Green, Jim Haselet, Jim Fassel and Ted Cottrell to give the league some legitimacy. They will play on Thursday and Friday to avoid the NFL and major college football games. They are going to pay a lot less to their players. That should help them survive for a year or two.

The league has changed some of the less fan friendly rules from the NFL including allowing each team to get the ball once in overtime and eliminating the tuck rule. The greatest fan friendly rule will eliminate the NFL ban on touchdown end zone celebrations. The league has even announced that it will welcome players that have been suspended from the NFL including Mike Vick.

There is a better than even chance that the UFL will play some interesting and watchable football. The teams should be evenly matched. There are always good athletes that are not quite ready for the NFL that can profit from a developmental league. And you can bet the UFL will try to play wide open football.

The previous attempts to establish a rival football league have failed. But the previous attempts including the USFL and the XFL never had the stage all to themselves. If the NFL goes on strike even for a few games, the UFL will get a foothold. Whether or not they can survive long enough to take advantage of a work stoppage is a question. But the bigger question is whether the UFL can survive after the strike. The answer to that will only be known when the time comes.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,STRIKE,UFL,NFLPA,COLLEGE FOOTBALL,VICK,suspension,Smith,salary cap,revenue

Analysis: All athletes should learn a lesson from the McNair tragedy

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Of all the athletes that would meet with a violent end, Steve McNair was the most unlikely. He was 2005 NFL Man of the Year, a respected family man and one of the most beloved players ever to have had a pro career. Even so, he met with a violent and premature death. We all morn the loss of McNair.

At this point, it is not totally clear exactly what happened. But it should raise a red flag to every athlete and every parent of an athlete. The lesson is this—your friends can be more dangerous than your enemies. They are closer to you more often than your enemies and will use your feelings for them to take advantage of you.

Every year the NFL holds a symposium for the drafted rookie players. Both current and retired players tell the newbies about the dangers that face all professional athletes. Some friends just want tickets—OK probably a lot of tickets to games. But other friends will tell athletes that they should never forget where they came from.

Part of remembering where they came from is the habits that their friends have. Those habits may have cost Pacman Jones and Donte Stallworth their careers. It was a cousin of Mike Vick that put him behind bars for 2 years and probably cost him his career.

Most young men have no fear. They never consider the dangers to which their friends subject them. Athletes have even a bigger ego and feeling of indestructibility. From the time of little league, they have been told they are special. They collect hangers on that want to stand in the light that is reflected off of a star athlete. They also want a chance at the money that he can earn.

If you are the parent of a young athlete use the tragedy of Steve McNair to explain the dangers of friends. The future you save will be that of your son or daughter.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NFL Football,McNair,Titans,Vick,Jones,Stallworth
  • Author:
  • Published: May 20th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on What should the NFL do with Mikey Vick?

What should the NFL do with Mikey Vick?

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Michael Vick was released from prison today to spend the next couple of months of his sentence under house arrest. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is going to have to make a decision about QB Michael Vick’s return to the NFL before too long. The questions are how do you make the decision and what should that decision be.

How will the Commish make the decision: We are likely to hear a lot in the next few days about the difference between a right to play in the NFL vs. the privilege of playing in the league. Dictionary.com defines a right as that which is due to anyone by just claim, legal guarantees, moral principles, etc. It defines a privilege as a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most.

So, is playing in the NFL a right or a privilege? High school players earn college scholarships with a combination of their preparation, their play on the field and work in the classroom. Anyone that has ever tried to win a scholarship of any kind knows that it must be earned.

Every player in the NFL has worked his entire life to get to the point that he could earn a roster spot. No roster spot is given to a player—he earns it every year. When he is no longer able to earn a roster spot, he is cut or traded. There are no gifts in the NFL—it’s Big Boy football.

In my opinion, playing in the NFL is not a privilege, it is a right that is earned through hard work. But rights can be taken away. A convicted felon forfeits the right to vote, or at least is supposed to, as a part of the punishment for violating the law. Vick is a felon and I believe he has forfeited his right to play.

What should the decision be? I think that Commissioner Goodell should not reinstate Vick but allow him to sign with a team and practice this season. That will give Goodell time to see if Vick has changed his lifestyle or not. Of course Vick has had a lot of help changing his lifestyle. The combination of fines and lawsuit judgments along with attorney costs have eliminated all Vick’s prior earnings. His paycheck from his interim job as a construction worker will not begin to meet his financial obligations to his debt holders.

Vick needs the money a return to the NFL could allow him to earn. If he is a good citizen during training camp, Goodell should let him back in the league. If not, he will go the way of Adam “don’t call me Pacman” Jones. But there is a problem with this scenario—Vick just isn’t that good a QB!

Vick started for 4 full seasons in the NFL with the Falcons and started parts of 2 other seasons. He has never had a completion rate above the 56.4% he had in 2004. 62-65 percent is a must for an NFL team to have success offensively. His highest QB rating was 81.6 in 2002. That is a minimum rating for anyone who is considered starting quality in the league.

He was selected to go to the pro bowl but it was at a time when there just were no other choices in the NFC. At best, he struggled to get to a minimal level of QB skills when he was practicing everyday. Now he has been a guest of the federal government for 2 years with no practice at all.

If Goodell allows Vick to explore his NFL options, I believe very few teams will be interested in signing him. The best any team could hope for from Vick is that he could be a slash type player and wildcat QB for a few plays a game. I believe he will not be successful and likely would not even make the final roster of a team. In that case, he will fade away from the public view and sports talk radio. That would be the best thing for the NFL, the Falcons, and dog lovers everywhere.

The only good Vick is one out of the NFL and out of the public view.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: Vick,prison,NFL,NFL Football,college football,high school Football,Goodell,falcons

Saturday's nibblets around the net for 02/15/09.

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Fryingpan Sports

Saturday’s nibblets around the net.

By Bill Smith

BEST COMMENT OF THE WEEK–

Ted Payne posted this:

Well let’s be honest – guys like him are SCARED. They are legitimately scared of bloggers.

I mean each team can have a hometown blogger, bloggers that are dedicated to one team even. How can traditional journalists compete with that? Bloggers might not have the access of these top ESPN guys, but they can watch one team day in and day out, Albom can NOT do that.

Sports reporters are scared that one day, they won’t have a job, because people will turn to their local bloggers.

Ted, you are exactly right. The new media including the Internet bloggers scare them to death. Thanks for the support and I hope you become a regular reader. We will try to post the best comment each week.

Political Correctness run a muck.

Our old pinhead friends at the NCAA rules committee are thinking about making the touchdown celebration a “live ball” penalty rather than a “dead ball” foul. The difference is that a live ball foul is stepped off from the previous spot and takes the score off the board! I don’t have a problem with a penalty if a player throws the ball at an opponent. But we are talking about 19-22 year old kids that love the game they play.

The first thing that the official will say is that the player is calling attention to himself when he celebrates alone. But then when he celebrates with his team mates, the pinhead zebras say that the celebration was premeditated and organized. That isn’t allowed either.

My Advice: Let the kids have fun and forget the live ball foul. While you’re at it, forget the the dead ball penalty as well.

T1

Mike Martz can’t find a job.

Martz complained to Tom E. Curran, of NBCSports.com that he is being kept from getting a new job as O Coordinator by people saying negative things about him. “”People are determined to keep me out of the league. It’s been going on for three years and at this point, I can’t fight it. I just can’t fight it. Three years of people putting it out there that I’m a high-maintenance lunatic.”

My Advice: Mikey, let it go. Maybe it is the quarterbacks that you almost got killed with your 5 receivers in the pattern style offense that are keeping you down. No one trusts you with their franchise QB. Change your offense and maybe you’ll get work.

t2

Bret Favre retired—again.

This time I think we have seen the last of Favre. He was a great player and we respect that. He struggled in the last half of the season with the Jets and is physically done.

My Advice: Bret go back on your plantation and we will see you again in 5 years and hand you the yellow jacket and your bust in the Hall of Fame. But we don’t want to hear about you or see you until then. Frankly, you exhausted us with your “will he stay or will he retire” dance routine over the last few years. Enjoy your retirement because you deserve it. Just leave us alone.

t3

Kurt Warner says he will keep an open mind about where to play next year.

Warner had decided that if he gets a contract he likes he will play next year. He also has told many outlets that he and his family like Arizona. However, he said that he will keep an open mind if the Cardinals don’t come up with a reasonable offer.

My Advice: Kurt, I am not a Viking fan but there you would have a D that is ready to win now and an O line that will give you a lot better protection than you get now. Plus they play 9 games a year inside.

t4

QB JaMarcus Russell has minor surgery on his ankle.

Russell has hinted that his accuracy problems were partially due to his bad ankle that prevented him from pushing off properly. Dah!

My Advice: JR, while you’re sitting down waiting for the ankle to heal, watch some tape. You need to make better decisions. Then go throw a couple of hundred passes a day until you can throw the ball into a coffee can from 25 yards. Your problem is not your ankle, it is your head and your footwork.

t6

Percy Harvin, Florida is not a first round pick in my book.

Harvin is small and fast. But he doesn’t really have a position on the team other than spot 3rd down receiver and special teams player. He can maybe play the slot for a 3 wide team but that is about it. It is hard for a team to be successful drafting a player in the first round that is on the field less than full time. Just ask the Saints with Reggie Bush, or the Cowboys with Felix Jones.

My Advice: Harvin is compared incorrectly to last year sensation tiny DeSean Jackson. The difference is that Jackson was a polished receiver running disciplined routes and had very soft hands. Harvin is an athlete. He has not had enough experience at routes and will take a lot of coaching to even determine if he can be a slot receiver. He is a late 2nd or 3rd round value.

t7

The Falcons want to trade Michael Vick.

The Falcons Owner and CEO Arthur Blank told a news conference that he wanted to trade the rights to QB Michael Vick if and when Vick is reinstated by the NFL. There are a couple of problems with that. First, he will be 29 this year when he is released from prison to a half way house. There is a good chance that he will have to spend a couple of years suspension after he gets out of jail. So he will be 31 or 32 and will not have played for 5 years.

There is also the issue of his contract. It is huge. No team is going to take the PR hit of Vick on their team, pay the price of the current contract and give the Falcons a draft choice for the pleasure of having demonstrations outside the stadium by PETA every game day.

My Advice: Art, call the Lions and offer Vick and a draft choice for a couple of used footballs. They will take the deal because they could use a few PETA people paying admission so they can carry signs inside the stadium. That will insure some paying customers anyway.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

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