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Sunday, July 31, 2005 

Mile High Feeling

Looks like RB Ron Dayne is looking forward to a new start in Denver.

"Just being out there, getting another opportunity to play - that's what I hoped for because I felt like I didn't get an opportunity to play in New York," Dayne said. "Coming here, it just felt like I was coming out of college again. In New York I maybe got in 12, 13 times last year, and the year before I didn't even dress."

Of course, he's over-simplifying things a bit. Dayne didn't play because he didn't produce and has largely been a bust in the NFL. Teammate Tiki Barber had a career year, with 1518 yards on 322 carries for a 4.7 yard average. Plus Barber is a threat in the passing game, with 52 catches. Overall, he gained 2096 yards and scored 15 touchdowns. Dayne compiled only a 3.44 yards per carry average (52-179) as his backup.

In Denver, Dayne will have a lot of company in the backfield, as Tatum Bell Quentin Griffin, and even rookie Maurice Clarett are going to get long looks. But Denver has a history of getting a lot out of unheralded RBs, so it will be an interesting competition.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 

New Blood in New England

Good story in the Boston Globe today by Jerome Solomon on Eric Mangini, the Patriots new defensive coordinator. Replacing Romeo Crennel will not be an easy task, especially with Tedy Bruschi out of the lineup, but the early reports on Mangini are solid. He also has an interesting first job on his resume. Thirteen years ago, Mangini decided to take a semester off from Wesleyan University and study at the University of Melbourne. His brother Kyle was an investment banker in the area, so it seemed perfect. But:

Mangini was bored while waiting for school to begin... A girlfriend of Kyle ran into a guy in a sporting goods store who brought up the fact that he coached American football. She mentioned it to Kyle, who passed it along to Eric. After hunting the guy down, Mangini had something to do in his spare time: volunteer as an assistant coach.

That team folded soon after, but some players asked Mangini to work with an expansion team in the league. Before he knew it, he was the head coach.

Then he compiled a 22-3-1 record over two seasons and won the league championship both years.

Mangini inherits a solid defense with a mix of youth and experience, including five linebackers with 10 or more years experience and a defensive line comprised exclusively of players with 5 years or less in the league. He also gets to lean on Bill Belichick, though Belichick's increased role on the offensive side of the football might reduce Mangini's safety net a bit.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 

Unhappy Camper

It sounds like disgruntled Eagles WR Terrell Owens will show up for training camp, but still wants a new deal or a trade.

"I mean, the bottom line is that I still believe I deserve a new contract," the star wide receiver said. "I still believe I deserve more than what they've given me. But I'm not stupid. I'm not about to miss training camp, get fined every day, and give them even more reasons to keep from paying me.

"I'll be there. But I won't be happy, I can tell you that much. Take from that whatever you want."

Lovely. Then his agent Drew Rosenhaus added to the circus atmosphere by partially retracting his client's statement:

We haven't made any decisions yet that are final," the agent told ESPN and Comcast SportsNet. "Things can change. It's not training camp yet. There's no question that Terrell and I are thinking very strongly about reporting to camp... . We've gone back and forth on this a number of times. I don't think a final decision will be made until the day of."

The agent suggested that an unhappy Owens would be a major distraction in training camp.

"Even if he does report to training camp on time, that does not mean we're going to stop pursuing a contract and that does not mean he will not leave at some point down the road. If we can't get this worked out, sure, it's going to be a distraction. How can it not be?

"He's not going to be happy and it's going to be a constant topic of discussion. If I were the Eagles, I would find some framework of an agreement, because this is a great football team and I think we can work something out that would be good for everybody."

In other words, Owens and his agent are trying the classic "pay me or trade me" blackmail approach. I guess they've forgotten that the Eagles lost a few NFC championship games without Owens, and got no farther with him. If the Eagles wanted to trade Owens, they should have made a deal at the draft. Now they're stuck, and this will probably drag out for most of the summer.

Thursday, July 21, 2005 

Get Well Soon

The big news Wednesday was that Patriots LB Tedy Bruschi has decided not to play in the upcoming 2005 season. Contrary to a TV report on Tuesday night that stated it was "90 percent sure" Bruschi would be back, the All-Pro linebacker will take a year off to focus on his recovery.

I think it's a smart move. He has nothing left to prove to Patriots fans, and his health comes first. No one wants to see his kids grow up without a father.

On the field, the Patriots have prepared themselves for this outcome. They signed free agents Chad Brown and Monty Beisel to help shoulder the load at inside LB. I wonder if Bruschi will have a visible role at training camp helping the new players learn the Belichick system.

Sunday, July 17, 2005 

Running Away

The Bills have found a home for Travis Henry, agreeing to trade the disgruntled RB to the Titans for a 2006 3rd round draft choice. Henry had a great season in 2002, rushing for 1438 yards on an average of 4.4 yards per attempt. He also caught 43 passes for 309 yards. Surprisingly, the Bills then drafted Willis McGahee in the first round in 2003, who sat out a year recovering from his injuries. Henry slipped a little in 2003 (1356-4.1, 28-158) but was still the starter heading into last season.

But the Bills got off to a terrible 0-4 start, and Henry's numbers in that stretch were pretty poor: 80 carries for 273 yards, just 3.4 yards per carry. In week 5, McGahee started, rushed 26 times for 111 yards, and the Bills beat the Dolphins 20-13. That was it for Henry, who carried the ball just 14 times the rest of the way.

In Tennessee, Chris Brown had some eye-popping games (26-152, 27-148, 32-147) but also missed 5 games due to injury. By acquiring Henry, the Titans have added a player who averaged 15 games a year from 2001-2003. But will Henry start to pout again if the younger Brown gets more carries? Tennessee is rebuilding, so this will be interesting to watch.

Thursday, July 14, 2005 

Power Play

The NHL labor agreement was summarized pretty well by Kevin Paul Dupont in today's Boston Globe:

The deal the sides agreed to yesterday -- pending ratification by both sides -- is an entirely new way of doing business. It will take at least a couple of years to understand all the ramifications, big and small, and what it will mean for the owners, the players, the general managers, the agents, and even the fans. All we know now is that the owners achieved their goal -- true payroll cost certainty -- and the players, for all their never-gonna-do-it proclamations, surrendered their free-market payroll system for unrestricted free agency that will trigger as early as age 27 or 28 by the end of the six-year deal.

Warning: The above is an oversimplification, to say the least. The new collective bargaining agreement, some 600 pages thick, represents a lot more than a salary cap-for-free agency swap. But at its core, that is the wholesale quid pro quo in the new deal. The owners, some of whom seemed hellbent on pushing their individual team payrolls over $100 million, now know no one among them can spend close to even half that amount. The players, who previously couldn't select their place of employment until age 31, will get to the open market three or four years earlier.

This is pretty much the bargain the NFL has with its players. A cap with both a floor and a ceiling (min and max $ amounts) plus increased free agency rights. Now if only the NHL owners and players can improve the game on the ice, maybe they'll become one of the top four major sports again.

Sunday, July 10, 2005 

The Art of Renegotiation

Mike Reiss had an interesting note in today's Metro West Daily News:

One agent recently conducted a study of contracts signed by first-round draft choices from 1997-1999, and the results are worthy of note. Of all of the contacts signed by first-rounders in that time, 77 percent of them were renegotiated or restructed with new money before they expired. The 77 percent figure doesn't include players who were cut or suffered a season-ending injury before the contract expired.

I wonder if the agent was Richard Seymour's. He's trying to make the case that he deserves his rookie contract to get re-done. It also could help explain why so many of this year's first round picks are still unsigned. Since the NFL CBA is stacked in favor of the owners as players get older, it's in the player's best interest to get either a) a lot of money up front when then leave college, or b) a short-term deal that gets them to free agency sooner. The Patriots philosophy of signing first round picks to 6 year deals has been great for the team, but I wonder how long draftees will agree to such an arrangement.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005 

Bloomberg's Folly

Now it's official. New York's dream of hosting the 2012 Summer Olympic games is dead. The IOC awarded the Games to London, which must have surprised the supposed front-runners in Paris.

So Jets fans can forget about their Manhattan stadium, and the Mets ownership might find the city a bit less enthusiastic about their project.

Sunday, July 03, 2005 

Happy Fourth

I know I'm a day early, but I hope you're having a great Fourth of July weekend.

In addition to reminding us of our history, it also means that football season is right around the corner! Training camps will be opening soon, and the first pre-season game is just over a month away. On August 6, Atlanta will play Indianapolis in the "America Bowl" in Toyko. The timing is interesting, since that is the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

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