The Weekly OC: PEDs in the Draft, the N-Word penalty, Off-Season priorities & Overtime
This week’s column comes amidst a gloriously sunny week in the UK. However I know that storms have devastated some regions of the US. I wish everyone reading this good health and safe travels.
As always be sure to leave any thoughts on any of the issues below in the comment section or by reaching me on twitter.
Agent: HGH & PEDs are part of the draft process
In an email exchange this week I was stunned to hear from one agent, who has several clients involved in this year’s draft process, that Human-Growth-Hormones (HGH) and Performance-Enhancing-Drugs (PEDs) are — ‘Just part of the process.’
Following NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s dismissive comments regarding the issue of HGH. I emailed the agent (who also represents multiple NBA players/prospects) for his take on what Silver had said at the annual Sloan Conference.
B = OC
I = Agent
‘’I look at them on those crazy schedules and his dismissiveness made me laugh’’
‘’he looked clumsy on the subject, like he had a party line.’
‘’Where’s the NFL at with this?’’
‘’who knows. It should have been done in 2011. But they don’t care, and the union doesn’t really. It’s a perception matter.’’
‘’What about draft clients. Have you recommended HGH to them?’’
‘’Recommended? I’ve never needed too’’
‘’So they do it anyway?’’
‘’Of course. They’re training to be elite. To be that, they have to follow the competition. It’s part of the process, they’re training every day to move up two spots and buy that cousin the car they promised or help put a sibling through college. It is what it is. It’s known. It’s accepted.’’
This exchange was distributed with the knowledge of agent and the views displayed in no way reflect that of thefootballeducator.com.
It is clear from the agent’s words and tone, that he, his clients and those within the league see no problem with what now amount to professionals taking extreme measurements to help their draft standings and potential income. It was striking to me that it was so prevalent during the transition from college to the next level. Then again that’s probably my naivety, some of these athletes aren’t blessed with the natural size and power of a Jadeveon Clowney and they’re trying to get into the most physical, athletic league in the world.
15-Yards for the N-Word is not enough
As I sit here typing this. A white male in Cheshire, England, I admit I am in no position to tell the black community or any black athlete/person how they should act. Stephen A Smith of ESPN’s First Take made some very profound comments on the subject of a 15-yard penalty for the use of the N-Word on the football field. Again in no way would I tell anyone how to act in their own home or with their peers. I can also see the view point that the friendly, inclusive N-word used in a Kevin Hart stand-up act is different from the violent, deathly N-word Riley Cooper screamed during a fight last year.
But the NFL are doing the RIGHT thing in trying to outlaw the most vulgar, disgusting word remaining in the English language. Whether that be the inclusive one or the violent one. The NFL cannot stand for that sort of epitaph being thrown around over the field at the rate it is now.
However, the NFL’s proposal does not go nearly far enough. A 15-yard penalty for a word that as Stephen A puts it – ‘was the final word heard by millions, upon millions, upon millions.’ – is not comparable to a facemask penalty, or holding.
It’s extremely simple and I don’t see how the rules committee cannot come to this conclusion. You ban it. Out right. If the word is uttered, yelled, or screamed a side gets one team warning. If it is heard again the officials immediately eject that member of the team. Whether it be on the field or sideline. Player or coach.
It is easy to say that ‘if you ban/outlaw the n-word and eject players for that. You have to for all other expletives’ to that I’d say don’t be ignorant. The N-word brings with it years upon years of unimaginable suffering. I’m a believer in freedom of expression and freedom of speech. Within your own communities and own home you should adhere to the known boundaries and guidelines of said community. If any member of the black community decides to use that word with one another, that is their right. But in the environment and privilege that is the NFL the word should have no place. Not be something that equates to a horse-collar. But what it truly is. An incendiary word that will be forever synonymous with evil.
Around the League
We are now well into the off-season. The combine is behind us and free-agency is just days away. So let’s take a look at each team’s front office priority.
All figures are those that count against the cap.
- Broncos – Cap reduction is the name of the game for Elway and co. inflated salaries like Champ Bailey ($10m), Chris Kuper ($5.9m) and Joel Dreesen ($3.1) need to be cut or reworked to free up the Broncos to make the necessary improvements on defense and clear up space for FA’s like Eric Decker. I expect them to renegotiate Peyton Manning’s deal despite recent reports claiming they haven’t spoken about it.
- Chiefs – The Chiefs need to rework multiple deals; Brandon Flowers and Tamba Hali’s are a must if they want to sign Alex Smith to a longer term deal. Other casualties should include Mike Devito ($4.9m) and Donnie Avery ($2.8m)
- Chargers – The Chargers have already removed salary from their payroll including; Derek Cox ($5.5m) and Le’Ron McClain ($3.3m). The Chargers now need to set about recruiting a new Guard and Left tackle to protect Phillip Rivers following his great 2013. They need to protect him and his blindside is the key.
- Raiders – Where to begin. This is Reggie McKenzie’s year. He has total control over his cap and draft picks for the first time and to stay in Oakland he needs to nail them both. They need to find their Quarterback, McGloin had a nice rookie year but he isn’t the long-term answer. The Raiders need depth and top tear talent. It’s a difficult task but I have every bit of faith in McKenzie.
- Bills – The Bills are in a strong position to finally challenge the Patriots if they can make the right moves this off-season. They have another top ten pick and only have to make a decision on one significant free-agent (Byrd). Whether they decide to give Byrd a multi-year, multi-million deal or not they have enough cap-room to upgrade at the necessary positions (RG, RT).
- Dolphins – I have nothing more to say about this team. They need a new head coach, one who can take accountability and stop hiding as though he’s still a coordinator. I applaud their re-signing of Brett Grimes however, they got him on a team friendly deal for an elite talent.
- Jets – It’s clear the Jets need some upgrades in ability at multiple positions (OL, WR, RB,TE , S) but to do so they need to rid themselves off the ghastly deals that hamstrung them last year. Santonio Holmes, Antonio Cromartie and Mark Sanchez will be told to restructure their deals to reduced rates or they’ll be cut.
- Patriots – The Patriots need to figure out what to do with their D-Line. Last year’s talent was shockingly bad and players like Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly will have to take pay cuts or be released due to their disproportionate salary. The means is to free up enough room to be able to re-sign key players; Brandon Spikes, Aqib Talib and Julian Edelman. Valuing Edelman and Talib will be a difficult enough task in itself.
- Browns – below is what I was told by a Browns ‘media specialist’… Yeah get your stuff together Cleveland.
- Bengals – The Bengals need to establish a new regime and mentality. One and done isn’t good enough. Two new coordinators should lead to a step in the right direction.
- Ravens – The Ravens need to get new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak up to speed with his personnel. It is clear the ravens are missing offensive weapons but Kubiak needs to examine where he wants to take the offense before Ozzie Newsome goes out and spends some dollars. There’s also the Ray Rice issue that they need to deal with sooner than later.
- Steelers – The Steelers have serious cap hits with their veterans that they need to take care off. Big names like; Troy Polamulu ($10.8m), Ike Taylor ($11.9m), LaMarr Woodley ($13.5m) and Levi Brown ($6.2m) should all be released/restructured. They’ll be unpopular decisions but they’re necessary ones. Oh and Ryan Clark will be gone, it’s obvious since his face is now more prominent on ESPN than LeBron James’.
- Colts – Despite giving up their 1st round pick the Colts are in a terrific situation. They have the second-lowest spend heading into FA ($73.4m) so have the ability to go after, and likely attract, any free-agent they desire. The goal has to be to protect and help Andrew Luck, they’ll go as far as he takes them.
- Jaguars – Everyone knows the Jags need a quarterback. They should look to hit on a guy at the top of the draft not tide it over with a veteran in free agency. They also have enough cap room where by they should swallow their pride and release Blaine Gabbert to the tune of $3.8m
- Titans – The Titans also need to trim money. It’s be known for a long time they’ll cut Chris Johnson ($10m) and they could also give, David Stewart ($6.4m), Kamerion Wimbley ($7.4m) and Ryan Fitzpatrick ($4.1m) their walking papers.
- Texans – The Texans should have one sole focus. What to do with the number one overall pick? Clowney, Manziel, Mack, Bridgewater or trade. That’s for them to decide, but hit on it and they could be right back competing in a lousy division.
- Bears – Right now not on the books for the Bears are the following starting positions; 2X Defensive Tackle, 2X Defensive Ends, Sam Linebacker, Mic Linebacker, Strong Safety and Cornerback. With little cap room it will be near impossible for them to address all the holes this year.
- Lions – The Lions need to get use to life with Jim Caldwell. Under Schwartz the inmates were running the asylum. Now a sharp, strong, new sheriff is in town. Caldwell brought a video tape analysing every Matt Stafford play from last season to his job interview. It’s obvious where his focus is and rightly so. Fixing the mechanics of the young QB could lead him to a career year that catapults the Lions into the playoffs.
- Packers – The Packers are in a terrific situation. They have $30m in cap room and no free agents that they desperately need to re-sign. BJ Raji hasn’t been as productive as needed and CB Sam Shields could be replaced. The key is keeping Aaron Rodgers healthy. Upgrades are needed across the offensive line, but as usual the upgrade may come internally as former 4th round pick out of Cornell, JC Tretter, should be an upgrade at Center come next year.
- Vikings – Another team with a serious quarterback need. It was the most mismanaged QB room in 2013 and how GM Rick Spielman kept his job is beyond me. New Head Coach, Mike Zimmer, will have to seek the council of OC, Norv Turner, in the pursuit of their signal caller.
- Buccaneers – Another off-season another Darrelle Revis saga. I’m starting to think he lives for it. Simply put he doesn’t fit the cloud-2, cover-2 system that Lovie Smith employs. Would there be value in trading his large contract? Doubtful, but it is something the Bucs should certainly entertain.
- Falcons – The Falcons were simply week on both lines last year. I’ve counted six offensive linemen and 9 defensive linemen in the 2014 Draft who would be day one game-changing starters. Toughness is the order of the day in Georgia.
- Panthers – With long term deals in the work for Greg Hardy (franchise tagged) and Cam Newton, the Panthers once again need to hit on their draft picks. They should look to garner multiple 2nd and 3rd round picks (cheap labour) to flesh out the holes in their roster as well as the depth at multiple positions.
- Saints – The Saints need to sort out their backfield. Sproles and Thomas are too expensive to be used in limited roles. They along with former 1st round pick, Mark Ingram, hit FA in 2015 so it’s likely one or two get released or traded.
- Cowboys – They need to sort out the disastrous coaching staff. I’ve read many articles today and I’m still none the wiser as to who will be calling plays in 2014, and worse, I don’t think they do either.
- Eagles – Time to finally sort out the issue of Safety for the Eagles. UKEndZone.com writer, Neil Dutton, consistently harps on about the issue. They have the money and TJ Ward, Jarius Byrd and Mr.Hitner are all available. They have to get one of them.
- Giants – I have no idea what Ben McAdoo’s offense will look like. However, I know Eli Manning will still be leading it. It’s fun for fans to speculate but Eli’s going nowhere. The Giants will continue to build around the Manning brother with the most rings and reports suggest he and McAdoo have already built up a good rapport.
- Redskins – They should become the Washington Presidents, with Abraham Lincoln as their logo! Not because of the charges of racism against the clubs name, but it’s simply cooler and unique to the city of Washington. My best Washington chum Mainz agrees.
- Cardinals – The Cardinals dug themselves into a huge hole with their new deal for Larry Fitzgerald. They were able to reduce his cap number to $8m this year but it sky rockets to $23.6m for 2015. They’ll either have to pick and choose their re-signings wisely or seriously look at opportunities to trade the Cardinals great.
- 49ers – It seems like there is a serious split between management, the players and the coach in San Francisco. I am legitimately shocked by the stories leaking out of the niners locker room. Yes, Harbaugh is an intense character. Yes, that can grate. But not when you come of a poor Mike Singletary regime and make the NFC Championship game at a MINIMUM every year since Harbaugh’s appointment. He’s going to get you all paid and get you all rings. Put up with it. The Harbaugh trade story was intriguing though and it brought up the discussion of whether a successful team needs elite coaching or elite players?
- Rams – The Rams have to hit on their 1st round pick. It’s likely they’ll trade it, but that’d be the wrong move. They cannot keep treading water, not in this division, not in this conference. They need a dynamic game-changer. IF Clowney’s there TAKE HIM. IF Manziel’s there TAKE HIM. Then figure the rest out later. Trade down and the front-office and coaching staff will be apartment shopping in 18 months.
- Seahawks – GET RUSSELL WILSON AWAY FROM THE DIAMOND! I love Russell, I love that he wants to play baseball. But STOP IT! Put your feet up, rest up and get prepared for the grind. Elsewhere they have to figure out a solution to the amount of top-class free agents they have or that are pending. I think a lot of agent wink, wink, and nudge, nudge deals will need to be done to satisfy everyone and keep the moral high. No pun intended.
The Return of the Tampa Bay Yuckaneers
I can’t tell you how much I wanted to like and enjoy what Nike is branding as ‘innovation’ in the Bucs new uniform. But in reality I spent a large part of Monday washing my eyes out following the monstrosity they forced upon me. I applaud them for trying something different, but my god the execution left much to be desired. Bad uniforms, bad effort, bad organisation.
Holy-Good-Hick (HGH) Favre!
If I’m the Texans right now I trade the #1 pick for cash and offer that boat load to Brett Favre. He looks in the shape of his (or anyone’s) life. I don’t know whether it’s pulling tractors and flipping cattle on his ranch or some kind of pretty-exceptional-remedy (PED). But he looks in sensational shape. And if I want a face of my franchise? I’m taking the Grandpa with a beard that fine.
The Rumour Mill
- The Eagles have entered talks to trade DeSean Jackson
- The Packers are raving about Jermichael Finley’s recovery and would love to employ a trio-tight-end set next year. They are keen on TE’s Eric Ebron and Jace Amaro in the upcoming draft. As well as former Bills playmaker, Scott Chandler.
- The Lions are working on a long-term deal for Tight End, Brandon Pettigrew, whom they did not franchise tag before the deadline. Although Lions officials believes Pettigrew will be with the team in 2014, they expect him to test the market.
- Like many others, the Atlanta Falcons are looking to clear cap room for the top rated UFA safety, Jarius Byrd.
- NFL.com’s Marc Sessler was quick to quash any notion that the Bengals are interested in pending free agent Darren McFadden.