Posted on: January 25, 2012 12:22 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 5:45 am

Roger Goodell gets five-year extension to 2019

Goodell should be all smiles with his new five-year extension. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Football is more popular than ever and Commissioner Roger Goodell deserves a lot of the credit for that. The owners apparently believe so too, as they extended Goodell's contract for five more years, through March of 2019.

The news, as first reported by Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal, means that Goodell will remain the NFL's commissioner through the 2018 season.

"It is a privilege for me to serve the NFL," Goodell said in a statement. "It is the only place I have ever wanted to work. I am grateful for the contributions and counsel of NFL owners in managing our league, the talented staff that supports us, and the players and coaches that perform their magic on the field. It is truly a team effort. I am eagerly looking ahead to the challenge of building on our momentum and doing all we can to improve our game for the fans and everyone that is part of our league."

Goodell took over for Paul Tagliabue in 2006 and his original five-year contract was extended in 2009 through 2014.

"I speak on behalf of 32 NFL club owners in saying we are fortunate to have Roger Goodell as our commissioner," Falcons owner and Chairman of the Competition Committee Arthur Blank said. "Since becoming commissioner in 2006, the NFL -- already the leader in professional sports -- has gotten even stronger. As evidenced by this contract extension, we have great confidence in Roger's vision and leadership of the NFL. Our clubs, players and fans could not ask for a better CEO."

Highlights of Goodell's tenure include a 10-year labor agreement, a rise in popularity of the NFL, a new merchandise agreement with Nike that begins in 2012, bananas television ratings, and new television contracts. Additionally, the league has placed an emphasis on player safety and expanded the league's popularity to Europe.

"I speak on behalf of 32 NFL club owners in saying we are fortunate to have Roger Goodell as our commissioner," Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a statement, via Breer.

The NFL, despite suffering through a lengthy lockout in the offseason, had one of the most successful years in league history in 2011. There's little question that professional football will continue to grow and Goodell, who's been a major part of the NFL's success over the past half decade, will continue to help it do so.

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Posted on: January 22, 2012 3:57 pm

NFLPA HGH proposal includes in-season testing

The NFLPA is willing to agree to in-season HGH testing. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The ongoing battle between the NFLPA and NFL over the implementation of HGH testing has fallen to the background as the playoffs have heated up, but both sides are still working on getting a plan in place to begin testing for the growth hormone as soon as possible. (Though as we wrote earlier in the year, 2011 isn't happening, obviously.)

CBS Sports Charley Casserly reported on Sunday's version of The NFL Today that the union's latest proposal to the league contains a heretofore unheard of provision: in-season testing for HGH.

"On Friday the NFLPA sent the NFL a new proposal," Casserly reported Sunday. "The highlight to that proposal? They agreed to having testing in-season. In their previous proposals they only had testing in the offseason and at the beginning of training camp."

Testing in the middle of the season is something that has to happen with HGH testing. Otherwise avoiding being caught for HGH is a simple matter of "not using it until you start playing" which kind of defeats the purpose.

So it's good that the union is willing to budge off that stance.

And it'll be even better if the NFLPA budging off that point can get the NFL and WADA to budge off the idea that it's impossible to give the players their own culture sample for studying the level of HGH in NFL players.

Doing so would likely lead to a quicker resolution of this issue.

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Posted on: January 1, 2012 10:33 am
Edited on: January 1, 2012 12:51 pm

Ray Anderson's name keeps popping up for NFL jobs

 NFL VP Anderson at the draft.(US Presswire)
By Will Brinson

When we mention NFL VP Ray Anderson around these parts, it's typically involving some sort of disciplinary action regarding an illegal fine. But for the second time this season, Anderson's name is popping up in rumors for front-office jobs around the NFL.

This Sunday, Jason LaCanfora of the NFL Network reports that while Anderson currently "loves" his gig with the NFL, he's a candidate for any of the potential front-office jobs that open up. The Raiders, Rams and Chargers are notable spots that could experience a front-office shake-up.

Anderson played in the NFL, he was an NFL agent, he's worked with the NFLPA and now he's worked with the league. He's well-connected and obviously has management skills, since he runs football operations for the entire league.

As LaCanfora points out, Anderson could potentially become the first African American team president in NFL history and, as a "historian of the game," that's likely something that would intrigue him.

And there's this: NFL.com (the website of the company that employs Anderson) is rolling with "Teams eyeing Anderson" as the headline. With all due respect to the NFL for doing a great job of separating church and state (as it were), if the NFL tells us that teams are currently eyeing one of their employees, it's a pretty good bet that teams are currently eyeing one of its employees.

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Posted on: December 22, 2011 12:40 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 12:41 pm

NFL sends memo to teams on new concussion policy

The NFL wants to make sure trainers don't miss hits like the one on McCoy. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The NFL is instituting a new in-game concussion protocol beginning in Week 16, as first reported by CBS Sports Charley Casserly, and as previously mentioned on The NFL Today by Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Under this policy, certified athletic trainers will be present at all games in order to ensure players that suffer concussions aren't at risk to return to games following their potential brain injury.

On Wednesday, the NFL sent a memo to all its clubs detailing two changes that will take place beginning on Thursday night.

"First, we have arranged for a certified athletic trainer to be at each game to monitor play of both teams and provide medical staffs with any relevant information that may assist them in determining the most appropriate evaluation and treatment," the memo reads. "This athletic trainer will be stationed in a booth upstairs with access to video replay and direct communication to the medical staffs of both teams. In most cases, the athletic trainer will be affiliated with a major college program in the area or will have previously been affiliated with an NFL club."

However, the NFL noted that this trainer will not "diagnose or prescribe treatment, nor have any authority to direct that a player be removed from the game." The role of the trainer will be to "provide information to team medical staffs" in the event that said staffs missed a potential concussion or injury as a result of other action/injuries taking place.

Additionally, the NFL noted that medical staff will be allowed to use cell phones going forward when taking care of a player who was injured.

"Second, club medical staffs will be permitted to use their cell phones during games for purposes of obtaining information relating to the care of an injured player," the memo reads. "This is not limited to concussions and is intended to assist team medical staffs in addressing a variety of injuries."

There are sure to be plenty of snide comments made whenever a member of the Patriots staff fires up a cell phone (see: Gate of Spy), but the reality is that the NFL's taking a significant and important step in attempting to reduce the negative effect of concussions on its players.

Football players who suffer traumatic brain injuries (the not-as-nice name for concussions) are significantly more likely to sustain long-term brain damage if they suffer another concussion soon thereafter. And there's simply nothing safe about having someone on the field who can't process what's going during a play because of suffering a brain injury.
It's nice to see the league taking positive steps towards limiting the exposure to brain damage for its players.

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Posted on: December 20, 2011 11:58 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 3:13 pm

Ex-NFL TE Ben Utecht suffering memory loss at 30

By Will Brinson

Ben Utecht's career in the NFL ended early -- after suffering his fifth concussion (that he knows of) during training camp in 2009, Utecht retired and is already, at the young age of 30, dealing with bouts of memory loss that are likely attributed to the brain damage he suffered while in the NFL.

Utecht, a talented singer, told USA Today's Erik Brady that what he's doing now, touring as a musician, is a "dream come true," but that he's growing concerned about the health of his brain.

"Will I experience early-onset dementia in my 50s? Will I experience more issues with amnesia or headaches or behavioral changes? All of these things are consequences of brain injury," Utecht said. "I think now that I'm aware of them — especially now that I'm the father of three beautiful little girls — it's definitely in my heart and on my mind. I'd be lying to you if I said it wasn't."

Utecht's wife, Karen, recalled a day when the former tight end wondered to some close friends why he didn't attend their wedding a few years back. But Utecht was wrong. He had been at the wedding -- in the wedding, in fact -- but couldn't remember it.

The couple also note a number of other instances during daily life where Utetch simply couldn't remember basic events about his daily life.

And remember, Utecht is only 30. It's a terrifying story, but absolutely worth a read, and a reminder of exactly how debilitating the brain damage football players suffer really can be.

Via MDS at PFT

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Posted on: December 14, 2011 3:50 pm

NFL approves 9-year TV deals with CBS, Fox, NBC

By Will Brinson

The NFL is a booming business and one that's set to continue growing exponentially over the next decade, thanks to the latest CBA providing 10 years of labor peace.

The business of growing began in earnest on Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings when the league announced a nine-year extensions of television agreements with CBS, FOX and NBC.

"NFL clubs have approved 9-year extensions of TV agreements w/CBS, FOX, NBC thru 2022," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello tweeted. "NFL stays on broadcast TV."

The new television deals will provide some changes to current coverage. For instance, CBS will begin broadcasting NFC and AFC games for the first time in the history of the partnership.

“CBS has been broadcasting the NFL for 52 years, and we are extremely pleased to extend our long-term partnership,” said Sean McManus, Chairman, CBS Sports. “This commitment is further proof of the valued relationship CBS shares with the NFL and of the overall strength of CBS Sports. The opportunity to add quality NFC games greatly enhances our television package. We look forward to continued growth as we broadcast the NFL for many more years to come.”

As a result of the extended agreement, CBS will broadcast Super Bowl L in 2016, Super Bowl LIII in 2019 and Super Bowl LVI in 2022, in addition to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans in 2013. Fox and NBC will also televise three Super Bowls over the course of the agreement.

The Thanksgiving night game, aired on the NFL Network since its inception, will be moved to NBC beginning in 2012, giving each major broadcast network a holiday game.

Additionally, the deal also provides for an expanded Thursday night package on NFL Network and the possibility for "flexing" games between Fox and CBS, the latter beginning in 2014.

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Posted on: December 9, 2011 9:06 am
Edited on: December 9, 2011 9:09 am

NFL: Union 'stalling' on HGH; NFLPA wants clarity

By Will Brinson

The NFL was supposed to have Human Growth Hormone (HGH) testing by the time the 2011 season kicked off, but a difference of opinion between the league and union on the transparency of testing remains a critical sticking point.

Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NFL and NFLPA agreed only to "discuss and develop" -- not to actually implement -- a plan for HGH testing in the NFL. So even though the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is prepared to begin testing, until the union approves the testing procedure, there's little the league can do outside of posture to make testing a reality.

The NFLPA wants to see the specifics of WADA's population studies as they relate to the organization's test. WADA believes their basic test for HGH is an acceptable standard already. And the NFL thinks the union is simply "stalling."

"There is no debate among the experts about the validity of the test," NFL VP of communications Greg Aiello told CBSSports.com Thursday. "The union is simply continuing to engage in stalling tactics."

The NFLPA's argument isn't against the validity of the test, however, but rather the transparency involved in creating the baseline standards for determining what players took HGH.

"Nobody knows what goes into the WADA standard of how they adjudicate players who have apparently or been told they take HGH," NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said recently at NFLPA headquarters. "So if we are going to go to a system where our guys are going to be measured against a standard we can't see and a standard that we can't challenge, if you were in my job would you recommend doing that? No."

Because HGH is a naturally occurring substance within the human body, testing whether or not an individual is using the hormone anabolically isn't as simple as drawing blood and detecting a presence of HGH. It exists in the bodies and blood of NFL fans as much as it does NFL players.

The issue at hand for the NFL and NFLPA, then, is determining what the baseline level of HGH in a "normal" football players is, and then using that to move forward in testing players. One problem -- WADA not only will not provide a separate population study for NFL players, but the organization believes the NFLPA's running with ulterior motives when it comes to roadblocking the test.

"The players are making a very good go of trying to say it is a problem by not agreeing to be tested. I would have thought if there wasn't a problem, they would say, 'Hey, test us,'" WADA director general David Howman said at a recent anti-doping conference. "If you've got nothing to hide, open up."

According to Smith, however, the players did offer to "open up," and test NFL players to create a separate population study by which to judge players who test positive.

"We said, fine, if you don't want to turn over that information, here's what we'll do," Smith said. "We will test the players themselves, create our own population study, where we can know it, we can see it and we can see the standard. And then after that we can see the standard and we will know whether or not that standard is applicable and we can ensure that standard is scientifically reliable."

WADA declined the NFLPA's offer, in part, because the organization believes its current test ("in operation since 2004" according to WADA's Senior Manager Media Relations and Communications Terence O'Rourke) provides an acceptable standard by which to measure the level of HGH in any athlete, including football players.

"Based on the concept of the test, there is no reason to believe that American footballers behave any differently than the tens of thousands of athletes being subject to this HGH test," O'Rourke told CBSSports.com. "Please note that this individual information has no bearing on the validity of the test. That is why there is absolutely no point in conducting another sample study."

Complicating the problem is the appeals process for players who test positive for HGH. If the news is discovered (and/or the player is suspended), there's already a public backlash waiting to happen. And as we've seen with numerous instances of cycling over the past few years, positive tests can devolved into ugly he-said-type public-relations battles.

The good news is that there's an available remedy.

"Athletes do NOT appeal to WADA, they appeal either to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) or, at national level, to a suitable independent and impartial body as outlined in Article 13.2.2 of the [World Anti-Doping Code]," O'Rourke told CBSSports.com. (You can find the code here in .PDF format.)

If the parties involved were able to reach a comprimise on what might qualify as a "suitable independent and impartial body" there's a chance the implementation of HGH testing could be expedited.

But as we've seen with player discipline, finding an impartial group of people who don't have an opinion about the NFL one way or another is a pretty difficult thing to do.

So as it stands right now, there's little chance that the NFL sees HGH testing in the immediate future, with the 2011 season almost entirely off the table at this point.

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Posted on: December 4, 2011 9:54 am

SNL: NFL more powerful than President

Posted by Will Brinson

No one watches "Saturday Night Live" anymore these days, but that doesn't stop Mrs. Brinson from spending her Sunday mornings finding something other than football to watch. As a result, if there's anything sports-related on the previous night's show, I'm all up on it.

Like last night, when Fred Armison did the open as Barack Obama, breaking down the 12 most powerful things in America. The NFL checked in at No. 4.

How? Well, according to "SNL" you'd never see an NFL game interrupted for a Presidential broadcast ("even if the Cardinals were playing the Jaguars") and no one has a fantasy Congress league.

Both of these things are true, sadly.

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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