Posted on: March 13, 2012 12:31 pm
Category: NFL
Posted on: March 9, 2012 9:37 am

Manning and Tebow on same team?

Perhaps the most intriguing team in pursuit of Peyton Manning are the Denver Broncos. And there is a pursuit. A fairly hot one, according to a person familiar with the situation. There is also reciprocal interest from Manning.

That doesn't mean this will happen and the odds of Manning joining the Broncos, while possible, are slim. There are two reasons why.

The first is Tim Tebow. I'm told Manning would be uncomfortable with Tebow being on the roster but also doesn't want to be seen as the guy who pushed Tebow out of Denver. The Broncos, I'm told, also don't want to trade Tebow even if Manning joins the team. The Broncos would have to come to some sort of resolution of these two things and it might just be too messy for a resolution to be reached.

There's also this little factoid. Manning is represented by super agent Tom Condon who recently formed a super partnership with another super agent, Jimmy Sexton, as part of a super agency of super agents. It's just one big bowl of super.

In all seriousness, Condon and Sexton are two of the most powerful in the business and, guess who Sexton represents? Yes, he reps Tebow.

So I'm not so sure Condon and Sexton would want their powerful clients in competition.

But keep this in mind: John Elway, pretty super himself at one point in his career, wants Manning badly. That is a fact and he's going to try and make this work.

The chances, though, remain slim. Yet I will say if there's one thing I've learned about Elway is never doubt him. The city of Cleveland would likely agree with me.
Category: NFL
Tags: Broncos, NFL
Posted on: March 8, 2012 9:16 am
Edited on: March 8, 2012 2:45 pm

Has Manning already narrowed his choices?

Peyton Manning insists he's made no decision on his possible NFL destination. Sure, Peyton. Sure.

No one in the league believes that. They think Manning has a short list but doesn't want to publicly admit it so he can maximize the inevitable bidding war.

One team official that contacted Manning's agent, Tom Condon, says he got the definite impression that Manning indeed has already decided where he wants to go, or, at least, the handful of teams truly in the mix. The official, who did not want to be identified, believes that Miami, Washington and Denver are the front-runners. One report states Manning has already informed the Redskins he doesn't want to play for them.

But the official conceded the front-runner will be the team that, in the end, offers the most guaranteed money.

The official believes that contrary to some reports, Manning is indeed open to playing in the NFC, even in the NFC East where his brother Eli, is obviously king of the division.

It's still early in the process but one thing is clear: the Manning derby is fully under way and, despite his public protestations, Manning likely already has a good idea of where he wants to go.

Category: NFL
Posted on: March 5, 2012 5:47 pm

Williams meets with NFL Security

Gregg Williams, one of the men at the center of the bounty controversy involving the New Orleans Saints, met with officials from NFL Security on Monday, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

I'm told these officials had a great many more questions for Williams about his role not just in the Saints' scandal but also if he was involved in other instances of organizing bounties. Newspaper reports have linked Williams to bounty programs at his previous coaching stops in Washington and Buffalo. No other details of the meeting were available.

The NFL's investigation, I'm told, is focusing on the players involved in the Saints bounty scandal but perhaps even more on Williams, coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis.

One message the NFL wants to make clear is that coaches and managers are responsible for the actions of their players and others. Commissioner Roger Goodell also wants to make a statement that player safety is paramount.

It's expected the NFL will release its disciplinary decisions within the next few weeks.
Category: NFL
Posted on: March 3, 2012 9:20 am

Sean Payton book sheds light on bounty scandal

Sean Payton, coach of the New Orleans Saints and now in the middle of one of the biggest scandals in NFL history, wrote a book several years ago called "Home Team." Nothing special about it. Not all that good. It details Payton's rise in the NFL and how the Saints won the Super Bowl. Now, in light of this scandal, the book has become extremely important.

Mainly because it does three things. One, it shows just how extensive a control freak Payton is. So any type of defense that he didn't know simply won't fly. Payton is one of the most detail-oriented coaches in the sport. Second, several passages of the book demonstrate Payton doesn't really give a damn about NFL rules. Now, that's not unusual for a head coach but again, with the bounty investigation, that notion takes on an entirely new meaning.

Third, and most important, it goes into extensive detail about Payton's relationship with one of the central and most shadowy figures from this scandal and that's felon Mike Ornstein who is a close friend of Payton's and, according to NFL documents, himself contributed cash to the bounty pool.

One of the more relevant passages starts on page 231. It describes how Payton had Ornstein handle a lot of the Super Bowl preparation. It reads: “I had Mike Ornstein running special ops. Mike had no official title with the Saints. His name appeared nowhere on the team payroll or organizational chart. But he played an absolutely crucial role in the Saints’ Super Bowl victory, and hardly anybody knows what he did…More than anyone else I know, he understands how to get things done in the pro-sports world. He also has a taste for mischief…Now he was a close friend of mine and a great asset to the team, flying into Miami and softening up the off-field for us.”

He has a taste for mischief. I'll say. Ornstein was convicted of felony fraud.

Later, on page 233: "We agreed: If we were going to Miami, Ornstein would oversee the nongame logistics. Room assignments. Travel plans. How many tickets Reggie’s family might need. If you think issues like those can’t erupt into major catastrophes, you’ve never been involved in planning a Super Bowl. At any moment, a thousand things can go wrong. Much as I admired the skill and dedication of the in-house Saints staff, no one on Airline Drive had ever been through something of this magnitude.  ‘I’m telling you right now, you’re in charge,’ I said to Mike even before the play-offs began. ‘Work with our people. But if there’s something you want to do that they don’t want to do, you tell me.’ I don’t know all the details of what Mike Ornstein did. But I do know the players and their families were extremely well taken care of. I know the stupid distractions were kept to an absolute minimum. I know we dreamed up a bunch of little irritations to get under the skin of the Colts. And there was Ornstein with a tiny smile on his face."

Page 235: "Every detail from that moment forward was designed to make a point.  When each player got up to his room, there was more in there than free stationery and little bottles of shampoo. There was a Sony video camera. There were gift cards from Morton’s steakhouse, Subway sandwich shops and Cold Stone Creamery. There was a giant basket filled with candy, popcorn and a week’s supply of Title Sports Drinks. This might all sound minor in the hugeness of the Super Bowl. It was not…and every day, extravagant freebies kept showing up in the rooms…I don’t know exactly where all this stuff came from. Some I know we bought at a discount. Other stuff was donated by companies that wanted to be friendly—or were eager for good PR. We might have traded some tickets with Reebok…It was amazing how much difference these little touches made."

Payton also describes how he instructed Ornstein to break NFL rules by sneaking champagne into the locker room. "I'm ready to pay the fine," Payton said then.

None of this is a huge deal but it illustrates that close Payton and Ornstein relationship that has become a critical part of the NFL's investigation.

Category: NFL
Tags: Saints
Posted on: March 2, 2012 6:42 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 6:53 pm

NFL memo details more Saints bounty accusations

An NFL memo to all of its clubs details yet more of what is becoming one of the biggest sports scandals in recent NFL history. Details of the memo were obtained by me from a team official. Here is a summary of what parts of the memo states.

Funds for the Saints bounty system, the memo states, weren't solely contributed by players. People close to the Saints team contributed as well. One was a felon: Michael Ornstein.

Ornstein was once Reggie Bush's marketing agent and is close friends with Saints coach Sean Payton. Ornstein spent time in prison for fraud and the Saints -- somewhat -- have cut ties with Ornstein.

But in 2009 Ornstein was a fixture around the Saints site. The NFL memo to teams state that then Ornstein pledged $10,000 towards the quarterback bounty in 2009.

Then, on at least two occasions in 2011, Ornstein again contributed to a bounty fund on an opposing quarterback.

The NFL memo also states there was a bounty paper trail. Ornstein put details of the bounty system in an e-mail to Payton, according to the NFL memo. In that e-mail, Ornstein committed $5,000 towards yet another bounty.

This just gets worse and worse for the Saints. 
Category: NFL
Tags: Saints
Posted on: March 2, 2012 5:33 pm

The $10,000 Saints bounty

By now you've heard about the Saints and Bountygate. Specific examples are leaking from the many pieces of evidence gathered by the NFL. Here is one from an NFL source:

At times, the NFL says, players both pledged significant amounts of money for bounties and targeted specific players. Prior to a Saints game in January of 2010 Jonathan Vilma, a team captain, offered $10,000 in cash to any player who knocked quarterback Brett Favre out of the game.

Favre was blasted in that game.

More of these will leak in the coming days in what is turning out to be a scandal bigger than Spygate.
Category: NFL
Tags: Saints
Posted on: February 29, 2012 9:16 am
Edited on: February 29, 2012 10:06 am

The Saints are fools for their treatment of Brees

The Saints and Drew Brees are far apart in their negotiations for a long-term deal which could lead to something players despise: the franchise tag.

But before we get into that, let's go down the list of things to like about Drew Brees. He's coming off a record-setting year. He's one of the top three quarterbacks in football. Pretty good, so far. He's an excellent teammate, great leader and solid guy. More? Not a blemish off the field. More? He was a key party of New Orleans' recovery from Hurricane Katrina. On and on it goes.

Which is why it's a total mystery the Saints have yet to work out a deal with Brees. A league source says the two sides remain far apart and confirmed an ESPN report that New Orleans might use the franchise tag on Brees on Monday. Now, the ESPN report is slightly deceptive because if a team does use its franchise tag, they have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal and remove the tag.

My point is: What the hell are the Saints doing? I've said this before. There are certain players, only a handful, where you open the vault and roll out the cash. You give them a blank check. Brees is one of those players. Franchising Brees is going to anger him, no question. Players despise the tag because it limits their earning potential. So you've ticked off your best player. For what? Why?

The Saints want Brees and Brees wants to be a Saint, so in the end, Brees will get his long-term deal. It's just that the team is making Brees sweat it out. And that's just plain foolish.
Category: NFL
Tags: Brees, NFL, Saints
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