Thursday, June 10, 2010


Oh to be an American Football writer... So the offseason is in full swing in the American gridiron world (Arena football aside). And as with every offseason, the NFL and college can't stay out of the news. The NFL has the Steelers' scandals - in the midst of Big Ben's problems people seem to have overlooked Santonio Holmes's little indiscretions - but the FBS has completely stolen the limelight. But let's look at the NFL today.

  This Roethlisberger thing isn't going away any time soon. This guy isn't Troy Aikman or Jerry Rice or some such outstanding citizen of the NFL, he's a dumb kid who makes bad choices. So far all he's got is a six game ban with two games off for good behaviour. Assuming he doesn't end up behind bars, should more be done. Goodell seems satisfied wth his punishment, and I'm all for second chances, but what should the Steelers do? The Rooneys have great standing in football circles, and they dumped/traded Holmes pretty promptly. Now good QBs are harder to come by than good receivers, but is this the guy you want as the face of your program? One more transgression and he's out for at least a year. So what do you do if you're the Steelers? Here are your options:

  1. Cut him. Just like that. Get rid of him and let someone else sign him and worry about what bonehead thing he'll do next.
  2. Suspend him for a year without pay. Don't let him near the team during that time and if he screws up during that year - adios.
  3. Do nothing and hope he can keep both his helmet and his pants on (allegedly).

If it was me, I'd go with number 2. On the field he's an excellent player - great mobility in the pocket, hangs tough in the pocket and his teammates believe in him (maybe not now though). I know this means you've to go through a year with Byron Leftwich/Dennis Dixon, but so be it. If the o-line and defense play better than they did last season (which shouldn't be hard), you can win with a solid vet like Leftwich. Right now though, it looks like nothing's going to happen.

  Another issue at the moment is the NY Superbowl in 2014. People don't like the idea of watching a Superbowl in snowy weather. Why? What's wrong with cold weather games? Put on a sweater and wear a scarf. I can think of any number of reasons for having The Big Game there – it's a fine city, no issue with accommodation, and it's the media capital of the US and so on – and very few reasons not to have it there. It's not like the NFL is suddenly going to go on a rampage awarding games to cold- weather cities. If they do decide to hold a couple of games in these towns, so what? As long as the infrastructure can deal with both the weather and the added crowds, they should be eligible. Some of the most memorable games have been played in inclement weather – the Ice Bowl, the '58 championship and many more. When was the last time you heard of the Hot Bowl, or the Balmy Bowl?

The other issue that always arises this time of year is contracts and holdouts. This is a personal bugbear of mine. NFL contracts don't seem to be worth the paper they're written on. Guys holding out with two years left on their contracts or players who feel they've exceeded their rookie contracts (which they probably have). The minimum contract in the NFL right now is about 400-450K. Not exactly small potatoes and only the lowliest of special teamers are earning that "little". You may point out someone like Chris Johnson who had a banner year and should be paid a lot more, and maybe he should, but look at the situation with Barry Foster back in the '90s. Had a great year, held out, got his big contract and was out of the NFL a couple of years later. If you've two years left on your contract, prove you deserve the big bucks by maintaining production. I notice Peyton Manning or Tom Brady didn't hold out, although they're probably not the best examples. If one guy deserves to have his contract ripped up and a new one handed to him, it's Andre Johnson, and I notice he's not holding out (yet). I do have a solution, although I can't imagine it catching on. How about performance based contracts? Pay them for starts, wins, tackles, TDs or whatever. Put in injury protection clauses etc. That's for agents and GMs to work out. I don't mean one akin to Ricky William's famous contract when he was drafted, that was just stupid, but I think it has merit.



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