NFL Franchise Notes: Jerry Richardson Touts Free Agency Spending
In North Carolina, Steve Reed notes Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson yesterday “took advantage of his first opportunity in front of the media since his unbelievable free agent spending [spree] to address” offseason criticisms of how “cheap” he was as an owner. Richardson: “Does anybody feel just a little bad about calling me cheap last year? Just a smidgen?” He added, “The facts are we did exactly what we said we were going to do. ... We kept everyone of our key core players.” The Panthers “were among the top spenders in free agency, mostly re-signing their own" marquee players like RB DeAngelo Williams, DE Charles Johnson and LBs Jon Beason, Thomas Davis and James Anderson to “multi-million dollar contracts” (GASTON GAZETTE, 8/4). Meanwhile, in Charlotte, Mark Price reports the Panthers and the city’s United Way are teaming on a “campaign to fight childhood obesity.” The “Back to Football Friday” partnership came “at the urging of the NFL.” The league is “asking teams across the country to join with local United Ways to promote health in schools” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/4).
REASON FOR CONCERN? In DC, Tracee Hamilton notes the crowds for training camp at Redskins Park “have been smaller than usual” this summer, and “many explanations have been offered.” The weather has been “hot and humid,” and fans may be “waiting for everyone to get on the field and in pads so they can actually see something more than just drills.” Also, the uncertainty about when the lockout would end and when camp would start made it “harder for fans to arrange time off work.” In addition, some fans “who’ve been threatening for years to boycott this franchise" are "finally following through.” The Redskins “seem a little worried, issuing e-mail invitations to a camp that’s already open to everyone for free” (WASHINGTON POST, 8/4).
JERSEY SNORE: In Albany, Pete Iorizzo writes the “greater New York City area appears to be greeting” Giants training camp at their facility at New Meadowlands Stadium “with a shoulder shrug.” Through three public practices, total attendance “is about 2,600 -- equal to the average daily attendance last summer” at the Univ. of Albany. Iorizzo writes it “seems doubtful a Giants training camp in Jersey can become the sort of spectator event it is in Albany” (Albany TIMES UNION, 8/4).
FAN SALUTE: The Patriots yesterday at Gillette Stadium held the only practice of the day in a “special event for the team’s season tickets holders that took place in helmets and shells.” The session “drew a large, energetic crowd of more than 18,000, giving the work out an even more game-like feel.” Patriots President Jonathan Kraft “addressed the fans in attendance during one portion of practice” (PATRIOTS.com, 8/3).