I’m Talking About You, Ndamukong Suh
1) I think Ed Bouchette, the longtime NFL writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, has the right idea for how the league should handle footballs moving forward: Everyone should use the same ones on game day. The idea of randomly testing footballs at halftime for proper inflation levels, which vice president of officiating Dean Blandino has suggested a few times, seems fraught with peril. Will officials have a chart that lays out how much the pressure inside the footballs could reasonably drop based on the temperature differential of the locker room vs. the outdoors according to the Ideal Gas Law? What about temperature fluctuations? How much air escapes each time the air pressure inside a football is measured? If a football is handled a lot, does it heat up, affecting the air pressure inside? Are the seals on footballs airtight, or could a ball lose pressure if a few 300-pound linemen were to fall on top of it? All of these things could be tested, sure, but it seems there are too many variables that are difficult to control for halftime spot-checks to be 100 percent accurate. The simplest solution is having all teams use footballs provided and shepherded by NFL officials.
2) I think Deflategate shows how muddled the rules are for NFL investigations. The guidelines need to be clarified and standardized, from who imposes discipline (Roger Goodell or Troy Vincent?), to when the investigation is entrusted to someone outside the league office (who that person is?), and which reports are made public (Deflategate, Bullygate) and which ones aren’t (Browns texting, Falcons crowd noise). You can’t have transparency without consistency. I also think this bears repeating: A week ago today, Ted Wells told the national media “it is wrong to criticize my independence just because you disagree with my findings.” He was doubling down on his independent report in a press conference set up and moderated by the NFL’s vice president of communications. It’s like everyone is making up the rules as they go along in these situations.
3) I think I really like the approach Steve Spagnuolo is taking in his return to the Giants as defensive coordinator. That unit has been missing an identity the past couple seasons, so Spagnuolo came in this spring and started by showing his players film of some of the franchise’s defensive greats: Lawrence Taylor, Sam Huff and Michael Strahan, among others. What Spagnuolo did well in his first stint as Giants DC in 2007-08 was to maximize the strengths of his players, put them in positions to succeed and help young players come into their own (see: Justin Tuck). Doing so again will be critical to a Giants defense that will rely on a lot of youngsters.
4) I think the least surprising news of last week was Rex Ryan’s Buffalo Bills signing fullback John Conner. The Terminator, as Ryan calls him, was Ryan’s personal selection as a fifth-round draft pick of the Jets in 2010. Conner may not make the roster (the Bills already made Jerome Felton the NFL’s second-highest paid fullback earlier this offseason) but it’s just another reminder that it’s Ryan’s show in Buffalo. Just look at their draft class, too: a cornerback (because he’ll never get caught short again after last season), a run-blocking guard, a running back and a Clemson linebacker who was teammates with Ryan’s son, Seth. Ryan wanted to go to a place where he could shape a roster to his wishes, and he has that independence in Buffalo. Maybe he’ll keep two fullbacks on the 53-man roster as he did in 2010.
5) I think I was surprised to learn that the NFL’s new chief health and medical adviser, Betsy Nabel, is only asked to devote one workday a month to the role. When Roger Goodell originally announced the creation of the position prior to the Super Bowl, he referred to it as a “chief medical officer,” which I interpreted as a permanent, full-time position. The NFL has devoted a lot of resources toward the health and safety of the game in recent years, including its $60 million Head Health Challenges with General Electric and a $30 million grant with which the National Institutes of Health will research CTE and conduct a longitudinal study of people who have had sports-related brain injuries. I think the chief health and medical adviser should be a full-time position given the current spotlight on the game’s health and safety front.
6) I think Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. should lean on Rams rookie Todd Gurley as much as possible after tearing his ACL in rookie minicamp. The two trained together at EXOS in Pensacola, Fla., this spring, so Fowler had a firsthand view of Gurley’s road back after the same injury ended his college career. (In this video at the 45-second mark you can see Fowler spotting Gurley on the bench press.) Players who have gone through ACL recovery often talk about how important it is to have other players to talk to, and there isn’t anything that Fowler will encounter that Gurley hasn’t already gone through.
7) I think I understand it when players who want a new contract don’t participate in their team’s offseason program, but I don’t understand when a player who was just paid $114 million by his new team stays away. Ndamukong Suh, I’m talking about you. You might prefer your own trainer, but getting in shape isn’t the issue. You’re missing out on valuable time to learn a new defense and getting to know the teammates you’re supposed to be leading.
8) I think it’s pretty neat that long snapper Nate Boyer, the ex-Green Beret, was snapping in Seahawks rookie camp to undrafted punter Kyle Loomis, who quit football for four years to enlist in the Army. Odds are small to make an NFL roster, but they’re even smaller for two Army veterans to be sharing an NFL practice field together.
9) I think if the players had pushed for a neutral appeals officer in the last CBA negotiations, they would have had to give up something significant at the bargaining table, a point that Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has articulated very well. The league would have required a significant concession from the players in order to fundamentally change the power that the office of commissioner holds. Would the union have taken a lesser share of the revenue, which affects all players, for a different appeals process that affects only a few players each year?
10) I think no one has responded to Deflategate better than Eli Manning, who was speaking at a fundraiser for the Guiding Eyes for the Blind nonprofit when Tom Brady’s four-game suspension was announced. Per the Giants beat writers on the scene, Manning politely discussed the integrity of the game while holding a yellow lab named Otis. Then, he added that he tested underinflated footballs this offseason to see what it felt like, and he could feel a “noticeable difference.” Shrewd one, that Eli.
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