By Ross Tucker
June 26, 2009

The upper management that runs the publicly-owned Green Bay Packers may have some explaining to do the next time it attends meetings with the owners of the NFL's 31 privately held franchises. That's because recent news of the Packers' operating profit of over $20 million last year appears to hurt the owners' argument that opting out of the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement with the players was necessary. If a franchise in a miniscule market can turn a profit during a historically down economy, what does that say about big money owners like Dan Snyder and Robert Kraft?

Think about this. Many teams over the past 18 months have laid off dozens of low payroll employees. Those moves look heartless if it turns out those teams are still bringing in millions in profit, even if it is less than it had been in recent years. Telling an employee with three kids they no longer have health benefits because the owner still wants to rake in $30 million is just bad karma, even if it can be justified as good business.

The Packers have elected to be exceptionally frugal in recent years when it comes to player compensation. Ted Thompson and company have been non-existent in the free agent market the past three years. Instead, they have just given extensions to players already under contract like Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings in order to reach the mandated salary floor. That strategy is good for business and arguably a sound football decision, but it doesn't do the other owners any favors when the end of the fiscal year financial information is released by the Packers.

A better strategy, knowing the CBA negotiations were looming, would have been to spend closer to the cap in 2008 and thus negate a lot of the revenue that was being generated. It may not have been ideal in the short term for the Packers but it sure could have strengthened the position and argument of the league going forward. In light of the Packers finances, the supposed plight of the owners' is much less convincing. I'm sure the NFL Players Association is taking notes.

E-mails ...

Ross, if the NFL wanted to, could it investigate the competence of Al Davis and establish him as incompetent and say his current standing is a detriment to the league franchises, and then have his ownership revoked? --Tony Maddock, Los Angeles

From what I understand the league could step into a situation if it felt like it was for the betterment of the whole and deemed it absolutely necessary. The Raiders, despite protestations to the contrary, are nowhere near that point.

Making horrendous personnel decisions in recent years is hardly enough. And don't forget, the Raiders won five games last year, including the final two against a pair of decent teams, the Texans and Bucs. As much as they were ridiculed for their spending spree, the Raiders still finished with a better record than five other teams.

Do you think it's time for the NFL to have a separate, clear cut DUI policy? If a player chooses to drink and drive, despite the vast resources they have, and put "innocent third party lives in danger" (to quote the Commish's memo), doesn't that warrant an automatic four-game suspension? As a 15-year police veteran, I've seen the havoc DUIs cause and there is simply no excuse, especially from athletes in the public eye. They need to set the example or be made an example.--Shane, Phoenix

I am all in favor of a mandatory one-game suspension for a first-offense DUI. These guys should know better, and a mandatory suspension could only help. I have always been of the mindset that NFL players should be held to a higher standard.

Mr. Tucker, Thank you for the column on broadcasters. However, I do have an issue. There were four that were liked, yet only two not liked? Where's the balance? Tell us who else the players don't like. Mel Kiper and Tiki, those are easy, tell us something we don't know. Unless this is a case of the "media" not wanting to throw their own under the bus...--Dan, St. Pete, Fla.

The other players interviewed either declined to say anyone they didn't like or would only speak off the record. In the end, we decided not to publish anonymous quotes knocking announcers.

A lot of stories are written on the bad guys of the NFL. Yes this is newsworthy. Why don't you write an equal number of stories on the good things the other 98 percent do? They do so much charity work. They go out of their way to do things for kids. Why don't I see an equal number of stories on them? You should start the trend!--Rodger Shaffer, Pittsburgh

I completely agree, Rodger, and have made that argument myself a number of times. But the reality of this business is that the readers, or the most part, determine the content that is provided to them. More people click on and respond passionately to articles related to the issues surrounding Plaxico Burress, Michael Vick and Donte Stallworth than they do those associated with the many good works of players like Warrick Dunn, Derrick Brooks and Drew Brees, just to name a few.

I really enjoy your column and the perspective you provide as a former player. In last week's mailbag, you responded to a question from an Airman about why NFL players are more prone to violent crimes than servicemen (SM). The question was, to a degree, garbage. He provided no proof that NFL players do commit more violent crimes than SM. I would guess the rates are similar or worse for SM (as there are hundreds of thousands of us from wide-ranging backgrounds).

I am upset with your response that the incidents are handled internally or are simply not newsworthy. All criminal incidents in the military are handled first by local (non DoD) courts and then, if applicable, punished by the military. A Private hitting his wife is certainly less newsworthy than a star hitting his wife (I agree). My concern is you've given the impression the military covers up or "handles" domestic violence, etc., outside the purview of the criminal justice system. This is not the case.

Your answer was a cop out. Either refute his premise (Servicemen are trained in violence but not violent) or don't publish the e-mail. You've done neither and managed to insult and cast doubt on the military in general. I imagine you'll get a ton of responses on that post. I remain a fan of your column, but am really bothered by your response to a question that was neither "well put" nor true.--Major John Nelson, US Army, Waverly, Ohio

You're right, Major Nelson. I was overwhelmed by the amount of e-mail I received as a result of my brief response to Sgt. Patrick's assertion concerning the scarcity of domestic abuse issues in the military. I was sorry to read that more of the mail leaned toward the belief that it is a much more prevalent problem than he let on.

I don't really think it is my place to attempt to refute his premise as an outsider and I can assure you my response had absolutely nothing to do with the concept that the military "covers up" these incidents. Quite the contrary: my guess was that incidents of this kind involving military personnel are simply less likely to receive the national media coverage that an NFL player's arrest would. Nothing more, nothing less, and you seem to agree with me on that point.

So, Coach Jim Mora's going to allow players to have their playbooks while they are otherwise unsupervised? Coach Mora should probably hire someone skilled in Risk Management to advise him on this issue. It would take very few hours (but a substantial billing rate) for someone skilled in this type of analysis to calculate the percentage of players (veterans vs rooks, offense vs defense, by position, etc) who will actually study the playbook, determine the improved performance as a result of the access to the playbook and then compare those figures to the likelihood that any one player will lose physical control of the playbook and the subsequent damage to the team from that data compromise. It's the same kind of Risk Management that goes into security in the Payment Card Industry, and my gut instinct tells me that Coach Mora is making a mistake.--Keane Matthews, Concord, N.C.

Good point. I am sure Mora weighed the pros vs. the cons on that decision, but only time will tell how effective it is. My guess is some, if not all of that playbook will eventually end up on the Internet. If not anytime soon, maybe after final cuts by a disgruntled player who took the time to make some copies at the Kinko's in his hometown this summer.

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