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Polian Calls NFL's Pro Bowl Requirements
"Stupid" And A "Distraction"
BOWLING FOR PLAYERS: In Miami, Adam Beasley wrote under the header, "NFL All-Star Game Not So Super." The Pro Bowl, which is being played the week before the Super Bowl for the first time, "still has some sizzle," but the conference championships "certainly took a few molars out of the Pro Bowl's bite." Colts and Saints players are exempt from playing in the game, and in addition to players replaced due to injury, just "29 of the original 44 position players chosen to be starters will be on the field." The game's talent level "has been significantly diluted," and the "drop-off in top-line stars won't do anything to help the lackluster interest in the Pro Bowl" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/26). In Honolulu, Ferd Lewis wrote the game is "becoming more of a junior varsity game, even as far as Pro Bowls go." Five of the six QBs originally selected to play in the game -- Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers -- will not be on the active roster (HONOLULU ADVERTISER, 1/26). In Dallas, Rick Gosselin wrote there were 84 players initially named to the Pro Bowl rosters, and 31 players "not voted to the teams have since been added." Gosselin: "That's 115 players who will be walking around NFL locker rooms in 2010 with the designation 'Pro Bowler.' Kind of takes the luster off the honor, doesn't it?" (DALLASNEWS.com, 1/26). SPORTINGNEWS.com's Dan Levy: "They're all pros, but they're hardly All-Stars at this point" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 1/25).
JUST END THE THING ALL TOGETHER: In Miami, Greg Cote wrote under the header, "No More Excuses: It's Time To Ditch The Pro Bowl." Cote: "It has become a sham. ... What is the point of having a Pro Bowl that supposedly is a legit all-star game if the best players from the best teams (in the Super Bowl) are automatically excluded, and so many others say no for no good reason?" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/24). In Pittsburgh, Bob Smizik wrote, "This is a game that should be eliminated starting yesterday," as the Pro Bowl "stands light years ahead of other all-star games for absolute nothingness." Smizik: "Anyone foolish enough to have purchased a ticket for this event, should be outraged by the assembled talent. [NFL Commissioner Roger] Goodell should be embarrassed" (POST-GAZETTE.com, 1/26). Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said, "Moving it to before the Super Bowl, you just lose more players than all the players who beg out with injuries. It's a bad game" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/25).
SOME FAR-FLUNG IDEAS: Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said, "There are ways to correct this problem, but playing it in South Florida before the Super Bowl is a gigantic, ridiculous mistake." Paige: "Move it to Hawaii (and) you blacklist the players if they don't show up. You don't let them get their Pro Bowl bonuses if they don't play in the game" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/25). Meanwhile, SPORTINGNEWS.com's Mike Florio wrote one "viable remedy exists for making it matter much more than it currently does. Play it in August." Florio: "Why not make the Pro Bowl the first game of the preseason instead of the last game of the postseason? It can be played in Canton, in place of or in addition to the Hall of Fame game. And though no one would confuse the northeastern corner of Ohio with the southeastern shores of Oahu, the carrot for the players wouldn't be a free vacation, but a free pass from training camp practices" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 1/25).
Murphy Not Giving Labor Update
Next Week, As Reported Earlier
THE INITIAL REPORT: In Milwaukee, Bob McGinn reported Murphy "will serve as the point man next week when [NFL] management holds a Super Bowl news conference to discuss the slow pace of labor negotiations." The briefing will be held February 4 in Ft. Lauderdale, the same day the NFLPA "traditionally holds its news conference at the Super Bowl." Murphy indicated that "other members of the executive committee will attend and at least one other member that he couldn't identify also would speak to reporters." Murphy said that he has been "present for the majority of the 11 negotiating sessions with NFLPA leaders since negotiation began last year" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 1/27).
DEAL LOOKING BLEAK? Titans C and NFLPA President Kevin Mawae said it "looks very bleak" that a deal for a new CBA will be reached "before March of this year or the beginning of the new NFL season." Mawae: "Until we come to some terms of what's really important and what are the big issues in this deal it's going to be tough to get something done. The players are more united than ever before, and we're preparing for a lockout." NFL Exec VP & General Counsel Jeff Pash said, "What we're trying to accomplish here is to have an economic system ... that will allow us to look back 15 years from now and say that we, meaning the clubs and the players, were creative and thoughtful and laid the groundwork for the game to continue to grow." The AP's Barry Wilner noted if a deal is not reached by March, the '10 NFL season will be played without a salary cap, though the "crop of players available won't be as substantial as in previous, capped seasons." CAA Football co-Head Tom Condon also noted that "less money will be available." Condon: "Over the past three years, 90[%] or so of the NFL teams have not, on average, spent up to the salary cap. Now you have no floor, so you have teams that were required to spend to the floor who don't have to participate or can participate on a lower level" (AP, 1/26).
NBA team owners plan to "go for the jugular and drop the players' salaries immensely" during negotiations with the NBPA for a new CBA, according to sources cited by Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. The current CBA is set to expire after the '10-11 season, and a team owner said, "The owners are really going to chop the money down." A GM added, "Player salaries are definitely going to take a hit. Players that come up for contracts under the new CBA are going to find themselves getting a lot less money." Broussard noted it is "well-known that owners will try to shorten contracts" under the new agreement. A GM indicated that owners are "looking to shorten the maximum length of a contract to four or five years." He added that they have "actually discussed trying to guarantee only the first two years of a four-year deal, and that the third and fourth years would be guaranteed only if a player reached certain performance-based incentives." Broussard wrote in "other words, it would be closer to the NFL than to today's NBA." One GM said, "Is there a sentiment among some (owners) that they’d like to have it like football? Yeah. But I think that’s out of bounds." The team owner said, "There’s going to be a lockout. There’s not even a doubt in my mind about that." He added NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter is "not going to make a deal like that. Teams are already saving up money for a strike" (ESPN.com, 1/26).
DOWN TO THE WIRE: In San Diego, Mark Zeigler writes unless there is an "eleventh-hour accord" ahead of Sunday's deadline, the "most likely scenario is a players' lockout by the owners on Monday morning -- the first such labor stoppage in the league's 15-year history." Neither side is "talking much, respecting to a mutual media gag order, but snippets of sentiment have leaked out over the past few months as talks have grown more contentious." It is "not looking good," as several players and agents "privately say they consider a Feb. 1 lockout inevitable." Sounders G Kasey Keller wrote on his blog, "What's most disappointing to me is, this isn't a negotiation for a bunch of players wanting $8[M] a year instead of $7[M] a year. The main points revolve around us being given the same rights under FIFA as the rest of the players around the world" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/27). Philadelphia Union D Danny Califf: "To be honest, I don't think the demands of the players are unreasonable." Union D Jordan Harvey: "The good news is that both sides are talking, so I feel confident that if it doesn't happen (right away), it will." Union manager Peter Nowak: "We have had plans established for a few months in the event something (lockout-related) happens, but ultimately (as a team), it's not our decision" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 1/27).