SBD/April 26, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
The Dolphins in the past have "tried to make themselves relevant by flirting with celebrities or funky-colored carpets rolled out in front of their stadium," but the team's trade to select Oregon DE Dion Jordan with the No. 3 pick in last night's NFL Draft is the latest evidence of the club "doing it with bold football moves that belie the philosophy of the past," according to Armando Salguero of the MIAMI HERALD. Jordan is someone Dolphins player personnel execs "have been drooling over since 2011." Salguero: "Is this a gamble? Maybe." The Dolphins in past years have "picked NFL-ready guys over projects," but they "went a different direction this time." The team lately has been known for "being vanilla, for doing the safe thing, for seeming content with being just mediocre." But the Dolphins in picking Jordan "passed on a chance to pick a safe player who someday might be good in order to grab a player that has the chance to someday be great" (MIAMI HERALD, 4/26). In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde writes it was a "good night" for Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland, as the trade was "exactly the kind of first-round surprise the Dolphins haven't sprung in years and precisely what you wanted." Trading up from the 12th pick overall to select Jordan was the "boldest move of Thursday's first round." You "have to like Ireland’s thinking, even if you don’t know whether Jordan will work out" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/26).
NOT SOLD ON THINGS: In Miami, Greg Cote writes the Dolphins "needed a selection -- especially after a big trade-up -- that excited or at least stood out as unequivocally solid and smart." What they "did not need (especially after a big trade-up) was the kind of pick that made fans look at each other and go 'Huh?'" This draft is "important for a club not only trying to win games, but trying to win back fans." Trying to "reassert itself in a market it once owned, but a market usurped by LeBron James and the champion Heat." Cote: "I’m not sure Miami’s first-round decision Thursday night delivered on that." But whether that "doubt is about Jordan or about Ireland remains to be seen" (MIAMI HERALD, 4/26). In Florida, David Moulton writes if picking QB Ryan Tannehill last year in the first round is Ireland’s “legacy,” Jordan now will “determine his fate.” It was a “huge gamble” to trade up nine spots to take Jordan. Ireland with the selection is “trying to mine greatness where most everyone else said there is none to be found” (NAPLES DAILY NEWS, 4/26). In West Palm Beach, Dave George writes trading up to pick Jordan may be “too much of a reach, but to be fair, those same doubts were voiced here last year” with the Tannehill selection. But that is how Ireland “operates, or so it seems now that we’ve finally gotten to see him operating confidently and without restrictions” (PALM BEACH POST, 4/26).
THE NEW DUDS: In Miami, Adam Beasley notes the Dolphins "officially debuted their new duds at their annual draft party Thursday night." The Dolphins said that the color scheme is a "return to the original aqua and orange, and the logo is a fresh take on the iconic elements: the sun and the Dolphin." Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said, "It’s probably one of the more active and historical offseason days in Dolphins history. On the image, the feedback to what’s been available has been overwhelmingly positive" (MIAMI HERALD, 4/26). But ESPN.com's Paul Lukas wrote the new uniform combination "unfortunately feels like a step back." The Dolphins' helmets and pants "always had really bold, unique stripe patterns, anchored by a center stripe of orange that made the whole thing pop." But the new helmet and pants striping is "mostly aqua, with just a hint of orange." The orange outlining on the uniform numbers is "less prominent, too. Disappointing." Players now will "wear 'Miami' on the back of their pants," which is a "college football move." The number font "looks seriously goofy" (ESPN.com, 4/25).
THIS I PROMISE YOU: The HERALD's Beasley reports the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee is promising an "urban carnival" should Miami land either the '16 or '17 Super Bowl. The city's Biscayne Boulevard would be "transformed into a mile-long street party, featuring live concerts, a Ferris wheel and more." South Florida officials on Thursday released the "schematics for downtown Miami's temporary makeover" for the Super Bowl. AmericanAirlines Arena would be "used to host events, meaning the Heat would need to give up their home for at least the weekend." The "broad strokes are out, and they paint a far different picture than Super Bowls held in South Florida in the past." The bid would make downtown Miami the event’s "urban core; South Beach and Broward County were not included in the renderings." The committee also is "in discussions with the league about bringing the Pro Bowl back" (MIAMI HERALD, 4/26). South Florida Super Bowl Bid Committee Chair Rodney Barretto said that when the presentation with NFL officials last weekend in N.Y was "concluded, it was met with a round of applause." In West Palm Beach, Brian Biggane reports it is "no coincidence that the festivities announced Thursday will closely involve many of the most prominent hotels in downtown Miami, a clear way to placate an industry that will be most affected by the vote in the form of bed-tax revenues, which will contribute as much as half of the cost of the stadium renovations" (PALM BEACH POST, 4/26).
The Jets drafted Alabama CB Dee Milliner and Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson with their two first-round NFL Draft picks Thursday night, and GM John Idzik said that the team's plan "was to adhere stricly to their draft board, and their haul entailed two of their four highest-rated players," according to Ben Shpigel of the N.Y. TIMES. The "evolving dynamic between" Idzik and Jets coach Rex Ryan will be "fascinating to watch as their relationship progresses, and for all of the concern about Ryan's shrinking influence within the organization and his potentially tenuous job status, it was obvious that he endorsed the picks." Idzik said that the decision to select Milliner was "unrelated to the recent departure" of CB Darrelle Revis to the Buccaneers. However, Shpigel notes it is "difficult to imagine the choice if Revis were around" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/26). ESPN N.Y.'s Rich Cimini noted this was the "fourth straight year the Jets picked a defensive player in the first round." It is "premature to rip Idzik for turning a blind eye to the offense -- still plenty of draft to go -- but this was a bit of a head-scratcher." Idzik admitted he was "tempted" to pick an offensive player. But he added, "You're not going to succumb to temptation." He said that Milliner and Richardson were "no-brainers because of their standing on the board." Although he acknowledged that they "gave some consideration to trading down from the 13th pick" (ESPNNY.com, 4/25). In New Jersey, Tara Sullivan writes it is "more clear than ever that the motivation behind the Revis trade was all about dumping an unwieldy salary, because the Jets wasted no time reminding us how highly they value a shutdown corner" (Bergen RECORD, 4/26).
TOO EARLY TO JUDGE: In Newark, Steve Politi writes Idzik "resisted the splashy move, and for that reason alone, Jets fans should feel good about" the new GM. The Jets "don't need flashy." Politi: "They need a foundation. They need a plan. They need a major talent infusion, from the top to bottom of this roster, and Idzik started that process Thursday night with two picks that only a scout could love" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 4/26). In N.Y., Mark Cannizzaro writes it would be "foolish ... to torch Idzik and the Jets for what they did until we find out how good Milliner and Richardson become and until we find out what else the Jets cull from this draft" (N.Y. POST, 4/26).
Browns Owner and Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam III on Thursday night before the NFL Draft addressed a "group of sponsors gathered" at the Browns' indoor practice facility, and "expressed confidence" in what CEO Joe Banner, GM Michael Lombardi and coach Rob Chudzinski have done in the offseason, according to Jodie Valade of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Haslam, who did not take any questions from the media, said, "Had a good free agency, still have plenty of cap room, have a great draft, need to have another good free agency, have another great draft. If we do that, we'll be able to compete in our division. Let's face it, if you can compete in our division, you got a chance to win the Super Bowl, right?" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 4/26). In Akron, Nate Ulrich notes Haslam "stuck to football" instead of discussing the federal probe of Pilot Flying J. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday said, "It’s a difficult time for Jimmy and his family and his company. He’ll be keeping us informed if there are any developments on it. In the meantime, I know that he’s serious about the Cleveland Browns and doing everything he can to restore that team. And he’s also very serious about his Pilot (Flying) J company. He wants to make sure that that’s successful and operated with integrity, and that’s something that I believe he will do" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 4/26).
CALL BLOCK: In Cleveland, John Caniglia reports attorneys for Georgia-based trucking company Atlantic Coast Carriers on Thursday asked a Knox County (Tenn.) judge to "stop Jimmy Haslam from calling and attempting to settle with customers" linked to Pilot Flying J's fuel rebate program. The lawyers "filed a request for a temporary restraining order." The document stated that Haslam "said it would take one to two months to determine the amounts owed to customers." But attorneys for Atlantic Coast Carriers said Pilot Flying J now seeks "to unilaterally determine what is owed to these (companies) and approach these same targeted companies after years of being short-changed in a brutal economy and a tough business in which to make a profit" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 4/26). In Nashville, Walter Roche reports the restraining order states Haslam's recent contact with trucking execs "may constitute an improper attempt to coerce parties and witnesses under Tennessee law" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 4/26).
In Buffalo, Jerry Sullivan writes Bills President & CEO Russ Brandon came into his role late last year wanting to "set a bold new course for the franchise, one that wouldn't accept the safe way but would be willing to shoot for the stars." The Bills in taking Florida State QB E.J. Manuel 16th overall "lived up to that promise." It was a "shrewd maneuver, the kind the Bills have failed to execute too many times over the past decade or so." Sullivan: "You don’t undo a decade of miscalculation in one weekend." But this is "how you do it, by taking advantage of the desperation of other teams and using it to your advantage" (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/26). BuffaloBills.com writer Chris Brown said of the Manuel pick, “Buddy Nix is probably towards the end of his career here and I think he felt like swinging for the fences on the guy that they felt had the most upside in this draft” (“NFL AM,” NFL Network, 4/26).
BEARING DOWN: In Chicago, David Haugh writes Bears GM Phil Emery "got cute again" in selecting Oregon G Kyle Long. A year after "drafting Shea McClellin out of Boise State in the first round, three months after hiring Marc Trestman out of the obscurity of the Canadian Football League, Emery followed the same unorthodox pattern." Taking Long "one day might make Emery look like the smartest guy in the room." However, it currently seems "more like a choice about Emery trying to prove it" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/26).
THE AUTUMN WIND: The Raiders selected Houston CB D.J. Hayden 12th overall, and in Oakland, Monte Poole writes Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie has "attached his reputation" to Hayden, who is "less than six months removed from nearly dying on the field." This is an "immense gamble for a franchise in rebuilding mode." Would McKenzie, "picking in the first round for the first time in his brief career as a top executive, have the hubris to choose a player many others in his position would prefer to avoid, out of fear of being second-guessed?" Poole: "Well, yes" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 4/26).
MAKING THE SAFE PLAY: SI.com's Don Banks writes new GMs John Dorsey (Chiefs), Dave Caldwell (Jaguars), and Howie Roseman (Eagles) went with the "conventional approach" in the first round, selecting the "three top offensive tackles." Browns CEO Joe Banner and GM Michael Lombardi also "didn't force the issue and do something ultra-risky" by taking LSU DE Barkevious Mingo. Meanwhile, new Cardinals GM Steve Keim "went smart and safe" with North Carolina G Jonathan Cooper (SI.com, 4/26)
NBA Commissioner David Stern on Thursday in a speech to AP Sports Editors in N.Y. said that a "final decision on the fate" of the Kings can be expected "on or about May 13," according to Bob Condotta of the SEATTLE TIMES. The league on Thursday also announced that the Relocation/Finance Committee would "meet Monday via teleconference." NBA bylaws "require a grace period of seven business days from the time of the recommendation to the final, binding vote" by the league's BOG. So the "earliest the vote could happen would be May 8." However, the BOG "does not have to vote on the earliest possible day," and Stern's comments "indicated it will take a little more time." He also seemed to "again indicate that expansion will not be an option." That recommendation then will be "sent along" to the BOG, which "consists of one representative from each of the 30 teams." Relocation "requires 16 of 30 votes to pass, and the sale 23 of 30." Stern last week said that relocation would be "considered first" (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/26). In Sacramento, Lillis, Bizjak & Kasler write Stern's announcement "brings some clarity to the process of deciding the Kings' fate, even as it drags the waiting out even longer for fans in Sacramento and Seattle" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/26).
FORECASTING THE KINGS' FATE: ESPN.com's Forecast panel of NBA contributors was asked to respond to questions in regard to the Kings: where should the team play in the future and where will the team play in the future. ESPN.com's Royce Webb noted on these two questions, the 118 contributors who responded "delivered a sort of split decision." A majority "think that Sacramento should keep the Kings," with 58.5% voicing that opinion."At the same time, 60.2% of the panel "forecasts that Seattle will get the Kings -- or as they would be known, the SuperSonics." Of those who "think the Kings should stay in Sacramento, half think they'll move." Of those who "think the Kings should move, almost 75 percent think they will" (ESPN.com, 4/25).
The Maple Leafs last week clinched their first playoff berth since '04, but fans were "left angry and frustrated on Thursday when technical problems prevented those with a special password from gaining access to a limited number of playoff tickets for sale," according to Bob Mitchell of the TORONTO STAR. Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment and Ticketmaster "apologized for the difficulties." The tickets were "supposed to go on sale" at 10:00am ET, but that time "passed without anybody gaining access." The special site "eventually was working" by 11:00am. About 750 tickets "were available for each of the two playoff games on sale." A limited number of tickets for Leafs home playoff games were "supposed to be available for people who became members of the team’s last minute club." Once registered, fans "received a password via email." But "many people didn’t know you had to go use a special link through the Last Minute Club and not through the Leafs website to gain access to purchasing playoff tickets through Ticketmaster" (TORONTO STAR, 4/26). MLSE Exec VP/Venues & Entertainment Bob Hunter said that it was "human error on Ticketmaster’s part that caused the problem." He said that it took "about 30 minutes to figure it out and then get it fixed." Hunter: “There was literally one letter missing in the website link that was sent out and that took people to the wrong site. It was a simple fix but by then we had a number of very frustrated people.” Hunter said that the Leafs have "[complete] faith in Ticketmaster and will continue to use it to distribute tickets for events" at Air Canada Centre (GLOBE & MAIL, 4/26).
Despite public comments from the Yankees' front office that the team aimed to cut payroll significantly by '14, in recent months, team officials have become "far less bullish on their publicly stated austerity plan, admitting to other executives and agents" that staying beneath the $189M threshold is "unlikely and impractical," according to Jeff Passan of YAHOO SPORTS. A source said, "They're going to be over 189. They know it. Everyone knows it. You can't run a $3 billion team with the intentions of saving a few million dollars." To "dilute the Yankee name for multiple years would necessitate a humongous monetary benefit" -- something a source said that the Yankees "no longer believe is coming to them," even if they were to dip beneath a $189M payroll. Sources said that while the "stash of money New York expected to reap was in the tens of millions, it's not nearly as large as the Yankees had hoped, a prognosis that is pushing the team to recalibrate its plans." The Yankees expected to receive money "not just from a decreased luxury tax rate but a complicated clause in the collective-bargaining agreement called the market-disqualification rebate." Sources said that the Yankees expected their rebate to be "significant" -- upward of $45M million between '14-16 -- "if they kept their payroll below" $189M for those seasons (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/25).