1) I think NFL owners approving certain celebrations—snow angels: yay! Twerking: not so much—is significant in this sense: it demonstrates the NFL’s willingness to be more flexible. Over the last few months, a theme has emerged of a (potentially) less contentious relationship between the players and the league office. Roger Goodell is making a more concerted effort to open dialogue with players and this is clearly a byproduct of that.
2) Ithink it was no surprise when Goodell revealed that he also heard feedback from referees on celebration penalties: they, too, wanted to cut the players some slack. Refs were a convenient scapegoat for an unpopular rule among fans and players; the men in stripes came to personify the No Fun League. Although it may seem counterintuitive, I also agree with new head of officiating Al Riveron about excessive celebration penalties: it’s going to be easier to make judgment calls. Deciding what is “offensive” might seem discretionary, but officials had to determine something far more ambiguous before the current amendment. Now they have a clear sense of what they’re looking for. And yes, a 15-yard penalty for an illegal celebration is still possible.
3) Raiders owner Mark Davis was perhaps the most visible owner at Tuesday’s meeting, several times making himself available to reporters. And several times Davis reiterated he would like the Raiders to play in Oakland through 2019—until the team relocates to their new stadium in Las Vegas in 2020. Only problem? The Raiders only have two more years of lease options at the Oakland Coliseum. An extension would need to be agreed upon. I think dialogue between the Raiders and their current landlord is a storyline to follow.
4) Davis was asked about Derek Carr’s contract situation and said: “Ask Reggie.” (That, of course, is GM Reggie McKenzie). Translation? Davis wasn’t willing to give an update now, but I think it’s the worst-kept secret in the league that an extension for Carr is coming soon—and before training camp is very plausible.
5) I think moving the Los Angeles Super Bowl from 2021 to 2022 because of construction delays was a no-brainer. Sure, hosting the 2021 Super Bowl might have been a great success, but why risk it? A poor showing may have been taken Los Angeles out of the rotation for future Super Bowls.
6) I don’t have a strong opinion either way about the NFL trimming overtime from 15 minutes to 10. However, I think I find some irony with the justification: that it will improve player safety. The proposal stems from a fear that additional plays in overtime create a disadvantage for a team about to enter a short week, i.e., they’re next game is on a Thursday night. If the NFL is truly committed to ensuring its players are recovered, shaving five minutes off overtime isn’t the solution. What might do the trick? Eliminating games where players only have three days’ rest altogether. Of course, that’s probably not going to happen anytime soon.
7) The NFLPA held its 23rd annual Rookie Premiere in Los Angeles last week, which is essentially a business combine for first-year players. It’s a terrific event that exposes rookies to potential partnerships while igniting their imagination about individual brands. But per usual, it was all about offense. Every player who attended this year’s event is a quarterback, running back or wide receiver. As I wrote last year, “the roster is crafted by the NFLPA’s business partners, such as Panini and EA Sports, who try to calculate what sells.” I think if anyone tries to argue with you that the NFL isn’t offense-centric, use this as Exhibit A. With all due respect to Mack Hollins (fourth round, Eagles), Marlon Mack (fourth round, Colts), Dede Westbrook (fourth round, Jags) and Nathan Peterman (fifth round, Bills), it’s wild this climate deems them more marketable than Myles Garrett, Solomon Thomas and Jamal Adams.
8) I think we’ve reached peak offseason silly season when this Rotoworld headline surface on my Twitter feed: “Hackenberg struggled in warm-ups last year.” Warm-ups? We’re talking about warm-ups?
9) I think there was something very refreshing about Packers coach Mike McCarthy’s comments on ESPN Milwaukee radio regarding Dom Capers. The defensive coordinator, who enters his ninth year in Green Bay, is coming off a season in which the Packers ranked 31st in pass defense and crumbled defensively in a playoff loss to the Falcons. Here’s McCarthy: “I think all of us in life have always gone through experiences in our past that you may have quit on something just to get that fresh, new start, and it feels good—but in hindsight it was not the best thing for you. I know I have personally. So I’ve always held true to that in my decision-making process.”
10) Shortly after the draft I wrote about the Bears’ covert operation to select Mitchell Trubisky with the second overall pick. If you want to know more, I think you should read this story by Dan Weiderer in the Chicago Trubune, which fills in the rest of the details, some of them ridiculous. For example, Trubisky made the dinner reservation for his meal with Bears brass under an alias: James McMahon.
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