Tag:Drew Brees
Posted on: April 6, 2011 8:44 am

What could happen after today's hearing

Goodell Posted by Josh Katzowitz

If Judge Susan Nelson, who will hear arguments in a preliminary injunction hearing of the Brady v NFL case, eventually rules in favor of the NFLPA, the lockout would be lifted (temporarily at least) and players could go back to work.

Obviously, that would be ideal for fans.

But Albert Breer of NFL.com argues that a decision like that, assuming it’s held up in the appellate court system, might not be great for the state of the game. He writes, “the momentum the game has built over the last two decades in becoming to America what soccer is to Great Britain, or hockey is to Canada, could be slowed significantly.”

He writes that if Nelson grants the injunction, the NFL could conduct business without a CBA (or, at least, use the same guidelines that were in place for the 2010 season), and considering the NFLPA and the owners still will be embroiled in anti-trust litigation, that will hamper the ability for anybody to fully take advantage of the NFL’s popularity.

"It would be almost impossible to operate under those circumstances," one league executive told Breer. "Teams couldn't make any significant investments for the future. There would be no way to build stadiums, expand into new markets, increase television coverage, bring new technologies into play.

"There would be no way to do any joint marketing with the players. There would be no basis for improvements in retired player benefits. Conflict would be the norm."

D. Smith Of course, you have to remember that the NFL operated for years without a CBA after the players won their anti-trust suit against the NFL in 1987. And it's not like the league collapsed. Could a similar event happen this time?

Writes Breer:

The NFLPA contends that the G-3 fund -- which loaned money to clubs for stadium construction -- and other incentives to build new venues can be reinstituted by owners without player involvement. But the likelihood of that happening in the described conditions isn't good, which would leave the future of the league in places like Minnesota and San Diego on hold, and put those franchises on standby.

On top of that, AEG CEO Tim Leiweke told NFL.com two months ago that his project in downtown Los Angeles was contingent on the "right CBA." So without an agreement to speak of, the future of the NFL in the nation's second-largest market would also likely be delayed, putting the Staples Center project in peril.

Then there's the trickledown to the players. Last offseason, the Patriots, Colts and Saints all cited the uncertain labor future as a major obstacle to extending the contracts of their franchise quarterbacks (Tom Brady got his; Peyton Manning and Drew Brees didn't get theirs). Dozens of lower-profile players found themselves in similar situations, with a similar message from teams. On top of that, hundreds of fourth- and fifth-year players were hit by the change in free-agency rules during the uncapped year. It's likely those rules would carry over.

What is up for debate is how the league's growth in two areas -- sponsorship and advances in technology -- would diminish without a CBA. An NFLPA source put it bluntly in saying, "People invest in profitable businesses, and the NFL is highly profitable." The source also took the idea that spending was down as a result of the looming labor problem to task.

Of course, it’s impossible to know how everything will play out based on the way Nelson and, eventually, the appellate court rule. But the process begins today, and for both sides, it has to be a scary proposition as they step into the unknown of courtroom litigation.

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Posted on: April 5, 2011 3:57 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2011 6:03 pm

NFL Charities draws '$2M' from on-field fines

Posted by Will Brinson

UPDATE (4:45 PM EST): Per NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, "... the fact is NO player fine money is used by NFL Charities to fund Player Foundation grants ... Player fine money each year is used to support retired players via NFL Player Care Foundation and NFLPA Players Assistance Trust." Aiello also added that "Those funds come from NFL clubs."

Aiello's clarification, if accurate, debunks one of the issues regarding the publicized distribution of this financial data (and ruins a perfectly good IRS analogy, sigh). But at the risk of sounding like I'm asking the NFL to, ahem, "open the books," it's still pretty cut-and-dry on the NFL Charities website as to how they bring in revenue, but not as clear on the distribution.

Earlier today, we told you that NFL Charities, the charitable arm of the NFL, donated $1 million to 87 different NFL players' charities.

We also noted that there was a slight reason to be skeptical, since two of the named players in the press release -- Drew Brees and Peyton Manning -- are also named plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the NFL.

Here's another reason to cast a wary eye towards this highly-publicized, albeit highly-charitable, donation: NFL Charities draws, according to their own website, $2 million in funding from on-field hits during the NFL season.
NFL Charities has traditionally donated funds to charitable causes from annual revenues generated by on-field disciplinary fines levied against players and coaches. This on-field fine money has netted more than $2 million per year for distribution to a variety of worthwhile charitable organizations over the last four years.
 The website also notes that "one-quarter of the total fine money received by NFL Charities each year is donated to support former players in need through the NFL Player Association's Player Assistance Trust (PAT)."

So, that's great, because those former players do need help, particularly in medical assistance through financial donations.

But, with all do respect to NFL Charities and at the risk of making an analogy that will remind you April 15th is on the horizon, that's a bit like the IRS taking the money I owe them in taxes each year, donating it to charity and then issuing a press release to let everyone know that they donated money to a charity like The V Foundation, which I already support with my own money.

For instance, James Harrison got tagged for a $20,000 fine when the Steelers played the Saints on Halloween ... for hitting Drew Brees. Brees' foundation, obviously, received some of that money.

This isn't me poo-poo'ing philanthropy, and I'm sure that the Brees Foundation appreciates the money going to a good cause.

But the fact that money -- and a lot of money, in fact -- that comes from the players' pockets is being used to help fund donations back to the players seems like something worth recognizing.

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Posted on: April 5, 2011 1:10 pm

NFL Charities donates $1M to Brees, Peyton, more

Posted by Will Brinson

In fantastic news, the NFL announced on Tuesday that NFL Charities (the charitable foundation of the NFL, natch) has donated $1 million to 87 different charitable foundations run by current and former players.

In slightly more awkward news, the first two names listed in the NFL's press release are Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, who, as you may know, are currently suing the NFL in an antitrust suit!

"We are proud to support current and former player foundations and applaud all players' efforts to make their communities healthy, happy, and safe," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who also serves as the president of the NFL Charities board of directors, said Tuesday.

Of course, all players are currently suing the NFL, but Brees and Manning just so happen to be named plaintiffs in the suit. 

And, in fairness to the NFL, they also happen to be two of the biggest names in the league, which is a justifiable reason for using their names in a high-profile press release.

Additionally, it's not unheard of for such donations to be made around this time of year -- on March 30, 2009, the NFL gave away $1 million and referred to the timing as "Inaugural NFL Charities Week."

But the timing -- less than 24 hours before the two square off in court on a fairly important hearing related to the lockout -- and the fact that the NFL felt compelled to post this press release to NFLLabor.com -- "Your Source for NFL Labor Information" -- is a big odd. As is the naming of Brees and Manning specifically (their foundations have previously been donated to, although they weren't named in the release).

Having made those mildly awkward points, there's $1 million being given to a lot of different charities, and that's always fantastic news.

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Posted on: April 4, 2011 2:21 pm

Woodhead, Hillis advance in Madden tourney

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Patriots RB Danny Woodhead continued his remarkable run in the Madden ’12 cover vote, but considering he’s matched up against Packers QB Aaron Rodgers in the third round, his streak is probably about to end.

Woodhead, a dark-horse candidate at the beginning of the 16-man tournament, knocked off Giants WR Hakeem Nicks 57 percent-43 percent, but he’ll face a tough candidate in Rogers, who blasted Lions DT Ndamukong Suh 72-28 in the first round and Rams QB Sam Bradford 76-24 in the second round and appears only to be growing stronger.

In the other half of that side of bracket, Browns RB Peyton Hillis – originally a No. 10 seed as compared to Woodhead’s No. 4 – surprisingly edged Falcons QB Matt Ryan 51-49 and will meet Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles.

On the other side of the bracket, 49ers LB Patrick Willis – who upset Steelers WR Hines Ward in the second round – will meet PETA favorite/Eagles QB Michael Vick.

The final quarterfinals matchup between Saints QB Drew Brees and Vikings RB Adrian Peterson might be the most intriguing vote of the third round.

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Posted on: March 27, 2011 2:17 pm

Offseason Checkup: New Orleans Saints

Posted by Will Brinson


Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups. Also, check out our checkup podcast:

The 2010 Saints, by virtue of the way the 2009 Saints ended their season, were a disappointment. Not a disappointment in the way most season-after Super Bowl champs end up, of course, but a disappointment nonetheless. 

Things could have been different had the defending champs been more prepared for a Seahawks team that shocked the world with their postseason upset, the biggest surprise of which was their ability to actually score 41 points. Of course, things would have been different if their division hadn't markedly improved as well -- the Buccaneers nearly made a playoff run and the Atlanta Falcons' success in 2010 has already been well-chronicled. 

That means, too, that the division won't be getting any easier in the future. Fortunately for the Saints, their championship window -- Drew Brees turned 32 shortly after the Saints loss to Seattle -- is wide open for a few more years, with the right additions in the offseason.

Running Game, Defense

It was all but impossible for the Saints to repeat the success they had on defense in 2009, when the team generated a ridiculous 39 turnovers. That's not because Gregg Williams' defense is gimmicky or anything. It's because generating almost 2.5 turnovers per game doesn't involve just good gameplanning and skill; it also involves a little bit of luck. That same luck didn't return for New Orleans in 2010, as they created just 25 turnovers (which is still a respectable, middle-of-the-pack number). 

Some more luck required in having a great season: health. And the Saints didn't stay healthy in 2010, at least with respect to the running game. By the time they were getting bounced by the Seahawks in the postseason, Sean Payton's crew was forced to trot out Julius Jones for 15 carries. That's a clear-cut sign that things aren't going perfectly in your backfield.

There was another sign that some things weren't working right: Marshawn Lynch's (literally) earth-shaking run to the end zone that sealed the deal for Seattle. Give all due credit to Beast Mode for his ability to rumble on, around and through defenders, but it's also a microcosmic example of how the Saints need to find improvement in their run defense if they want to get back to the Super Bowl in 2011.

1. Running Back
It's entirely possible that the Saints could survive with a combination of Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush and Chris Ivory. In fact, if all of those guys are healthy, and Bush is willing to take a paycut, that's not too terrible a situation. One key thing to remember, though, is that the Saints were an elite rushing team when they won the Super Bowl. In 2010? Not so much. It seems pretty unlikely that New Orleans would burn an early pick on a running back -- unless Mark Ingram happens to slip -- but don't be surprised if they take a look at some depth for the position when the draft rolls around.

2. Outside Linebacker
The Saints don't exactly have the most amazing defensive personnel on the front seven, and even though Jonathan Vilma's a big name, he's not high-caliber enough to warrant giving the Saints a pass on their linebacking corps. Adding a pass-rusher from edge and some speed and pursuit skills from the linebacker position -- think Akeem Ayers possibly? -- could do a lot to improve a defense that's shown significant holes against the run in recent years.

3. Defensive End
Shaun Rogers' presence via free agency could be a HUGE improvement for this defensive line. (Alternately, it could also be a tremendous bust and/or he might not stay healthy.) Either way, expect the Saints, if they don't look linebacker in the first round, to target some help for the defensive line. Will Smith is aging, Rogers isn't going to be a staple, and this team needs some youth on the defensive front. Given that this is one of the deepest defensive line draft classes we've seen in a while, it would make a lot of sense to pick up value late in the first round.

It's a good thing to be a team like the Saints, who face a substantial amount of scrutiny thanks to their success in recent years. Really, the Payton Era for New Orleans has been about as successful as one could hope -- a .613 winning percentage and a Super Bowl win for a team that struggled for many a year is a pretty incredible feat.

It's also a good thing to look at a roster -- in the case of the Saints -- and be able to identify two very specific problems on the roster, both of which can be tweaked, in order to get right back to a championship run. In the Saints case, they have that non-problem problem, and you can expect them to address it during the offseason and get right back to winning games in 2011. 

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Posted on: March 17, 2011 5:31 pm

Players allowed to work out in groups

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Some (relatively) big news has emerged from the NFLPA’s annual meeting in Marco Island, Fla.

National reporters are there, including CBSSports.com’s own Clark Judge, and the development today, via Foxsports.com, is that the trade association has agreed to allow players to work out together in monitored group and individual sessions.

"(Players) want to be ready to go at a moment's notice," NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said. "They're preparing themselves and continuing to work out so if the (lockout) is lifted, guys can go back to work and will be in shape and you won't see a decline in the players' ability to perform at a very, very high level.

"That's one of the things going on: How do we make sure we're prepared to get back on the field? That's our No. 1 goal here."

There was talk earlier in this process that the NFLPA didn’t want players working out during a lockout, because it might give some leverage to the former union against the owners to get a deal done before, say, Sept. 1.

But when Saints QB Drew Brees, one of the lead plaintiffs on the Brady v NFL case, talked about getting teammates together to work out in New Orleans, it was clear the NFLPA likely would make this move.

The association is teaming up with Athletes’ Performance to help the players train, since the team-employed training staffs obviously are off-limits.

"Each guy can roll through for 2 1/2 days, leave to see their family and come back or stay continuously through the offseason," said Mark Verstegen, the NFLPA's director of player performance since 2004. "It's our culture through the NFL Players Association to make sure the players have the best support.”

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Category: NFL
Posted on: March 16, 2011 9:50 pm
Edited on: March 16, 2011 10:06 pm

Offseason workouts take on different tenor

Posted by Andy Benoit

With the doors locked at team facilities, players have to organize their own offseason workouts. You’ve probably heard stories here and there about players making arrangements to train witD. Brees (US Presswire)h teammates (off the top my head, Josh Freeman and a few Bucs, Michael Vick and a few Eagles, Dallas Clark and a few Colts, Kyle Vanden Bosch and a few Lions and Drew Brees and a few Saints come to mind).

These workouts are not the same as true offseason team workouts, of course. For one, there’s no coaching guidance. For two, it’s not Drew Brees and the Saints working out…it’s Drew Brees and A FEW Saints. These are more player-organized positional workouts than player-organized team workouts. But, boutique offseason programs are better than nothing.

The fact that Brees is organizing workouts indicates that the NFLPA is OK with players setting up their own OPA’s (Organized Player Activities – you like it?).

Jim Corbett of USA Today asked people around the league about offseason preparations in the event of a lockout. He shrewdly went to former Redskins GM Charley Casserly, who observed firsthand how organizations get ahead during a work stoppage. The Redskins, after all, won titles after the strike-shortened ’82 season and the three-week replacement players ordeal in the ’87 season.

"A number of teams have already employed the Redskins strategy before this started," Casserly said. "They had team meetings, gave outlines to players, discussed strategy for workouts."

We know the Cowboys did that with new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in February. You can bet they weren’t the only team that had extensive meetings that month.

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Posted on: March 16, 2011 10:55 am
Edited on: March 16, 2011 1:11 pm

Hot Routes 3.16.11: Still #WINNING

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • What do Redskins GM Bruce Allen and Charlie Sheen have in common? WINNING, obviously. As in, “You should know that the current status of the Collective Bargaining Agreement will not disrupt our preparation for the 2011 season or swerve our focus from the Redskins’ objective -- WINNING.” What would have made this even more awesome? If Allen had added the word, “DUH.”
  • A woman has been convicted of killing the pregnant girlfriend of former Bears DB Shaun Gayle. A Lake County, Ill., jury found that Marni Young meticulously planned out an execution of a woman she considered a romantic rival for Gayle. The woman faces a 45-year maximum term. The victim was seven months pregnant with Gayle’s child.
  • Apparently, the Steelers are huge fans of the Pouncey family. As you know, C Maurkice Pouncey established himself as a huge presence for the Pittsburgh offensive line last year, and if Pittsburgh had the choice, it’d take Mike Pouncey in next month’s NFL draft and put him at right guard.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com