Welcome to April. We’ve had an early spring, and the 2012 NFL Draft is just around the corner. The football juices are cranked up again. I’m over that brutal loss to the Patriots, even if Steve Bisciotti isn’t. It’s been an interesting off season and here are some quick slants on what’s been going on in the NFL since the Super Bowl.
News Item: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was “speechless” over the suspension of Saints head coach Sean Payton for his part in the Saints’ bounty scheme and “wanted an explanation.”
A Fan’s Take: I’m incredulous that Brees is incredulous! Let’s see what we have here…..The Saints initiated a bounty scheme whose purpose was for Saints defensive players to physically injure the opposing teams’ best players so as to remove them from the field. It was abetted, managed, financially rewarded, and then LIED about by the Saints coaching staff to NFL investigators. In any other venue this would be considered premeditated assault and battery, and the case would have been on a district attorney’s desk instead of in the NFL offices on Park Avenue. Shut up, Drew, and listen to your former defensive coordinator…..
News Item: A profanity-laced audio of Gregg Williams exhorting the Saints defense before the 49ers playoff game is leaked to Yahoo Sports and quickly goes viral. It leaves no doubt that he was putting bounties on both QB Alex “lay that **** out” Smith and RB Frank “make his head sideways” Gore, as well as other 49ers.
A Fan’s Take: On second thought, this mess may indeed wind up on a D.A.’s desk. Williams can kiss his NFL career bye-bye.
News Item: In a teary press conference that forever put The Decision to shame, Peyton Manning and Jim Irsay jointly announced the release of the 4-time MVP from the Indianapolis Colts. In spite of the fact that the Colts owed Manning a 28 million dollar roster bonus the next day, both said it was a mutual decision that “was not about the money.” Two weeks later, after prostituting himself to at least 8 cities, Manning signed a 5 year, 96 million dollar contract with the Denver Broncos that was “not about the money.”
A Fan’s Take: Further proof that when sports figures say it’s not about the money, it‘s always about the money..
News Item: Pittsburgh, deep in cap trouble, cut several long time Steelers including serial blind-sider and cheap shot artist Hines Ward. In an equally teary press conference, Ward announces his retirement as a “Steeler for life.”
A Fan’s Take: Good riddance. For the first time in his NFL career, Ed Reed won’t have his head on a 3600 swivel when he plays Picksburg. He’s so excited that he started talking about playing another 3-4 years. And on that note….
News Item: Ravens safety Ed Reed hinted in a recent radio interview that he’d consider not playing this season if he doesn’t get a new contract. Reed didn’t exactly say that the Ravens aren’t showing him enough money or enough respect, but he came close enough that the Ravens’ website went public with the story.
A Fan’s Take: Here’s a 33 year old former All-Pro with a nagging neck injury that could end his career – or even his ability to live a normal life – if he gets hit in the wrong place or lands the wrong way. He feels underpaid at 7.2 mil per, (remember it’s always about the money), when going franchise rate for safeties is 1 million dollars less. I think Reed is feeling a little neglected with all the love talk about Flacco, Rice, Webb, and Williams.
Ed, my man……You’re always stirring the pot. Nice way to get Ozzie’s attention, just like you always have.
News Item: ESPN reported that during his introductory press conference to the New York media, Tim Tebow said the word “excited” 45 times (“I’m excited to be here, I’m excited to be playing for coach Ryan, excited to be……I’m just excited!”).
A Fan’s Take: You can bet Mark Sanchez isn’t sharing the excitement. Your days as a NY Jet are numbered, Buddy.
News Item: The Ravens lose Ben Grubbs, Jarret Johnson, Corey Redding, Tom Zbikowski, Haruki Nakamura, and now Brandon McKinney to free agency. They all got a nice pay day.
A Fans Take: JJ is an all-time Raven tough guy and his pop on Hines Ward last season is a Purple & Black video for the ages, but he’s now a 2 down linebacker. Redding played well into the mid-season but faded down the line in 2011. His and McKinney’s replacements are already on the roster. Zibby and Haruki deserve a chance to play full time elsewhere, something they would never do here. And Sean Considine and Corey Graham are Pro Bowl special teamers. But losingBig Ben to the Saints? Now that hurts. I don’t see his replacement anywhere.
News Item: The Ravens resigned middle linebacker Jameel McClain to a 3 year, 10.5 million dollar contract.
A Fan’s Take: The re-signing of Brendon Ayanbadejo, Matt Birk and Bryant McKinnie is nice but, if McClain walked, I wasn’t going crank up the worry meter.
News Item: Lardarius Webb signs a 6 year, $50 million dollar contract extension.
A Fan’s Take: See the take on the McClain signing. Another piece of the puzzle is nailed in place. Is Cary Williams next?
News Item: Ray Rice says that he has played out his contract – meaning over and above its value- and, if he weren’t franchised, he’d be on another team by now.
A Fan’s Take: Everybody needs cool off. Let this little dance play itself out. Ray will eventually be signed, he won’t miss any games that count, and he’ll be a Raven for the next 5-6 years.
Note: Additional content courtesy of Yahoo Sports, Profootballtalk.com, and Baltimore Ravens.com