For the end of May, usually a slow time in the NFL, the league is very busy. Some important rules – adding full-time Sky Judge to each crew leading, and revolutionizing onside kicks – will appear to vote in Thursday’s special video conference session. The league last week began directing the opening of team facilities which were closed for two months by Coronavirus. And in the first week of practice allowed on the pitch this spring, the coaches began to think of ways to direct players to “practice” in the backyard, high school and open fields throughout the United States.
The most sophisticated scoreboard in the world of sports, the 100k 4k work at Los Angeles’s new SoFi Stadium, rises on Saturday. The economic pandemic hit every team, as a realization of a $ 4-billion income shortfall around the league pound team. And hey, football: The Jets signed Super Bowl 47 MVP Joe Flacco become a backup quarterback. Busy Times.
But the thing that struck me the most in the last few days was the eight-word sentence from executive vice president of NFL football operations, Troy Vincent, on the heels of the league instituting the most aggressive changes to the Rooney Rules since, well, since the advent of Rooney Rule 17 years ago. Vincent, you think, would love to see a doubled coach-minority interview mandated for every NFL head coach job vacancy, and instituting a mandatory minority-coach interview for each opening coordinator.
Instead, on a conference call discussing changes to the Rooney Rules, Vincent sounded like his dog had just died.
“The fact is, we have a broken system,” he said.
Vincent, of course, is one of those in the league office who has led the recruitment process. He is African-American. Now, with only four minority head coaches and two minority GMs in the league, the realization of how far behind this league – there were six minority coaches in 2005, eight in 2011 – means that even improved rules come with a feeling of failure. . And disgust.
“Do I take it personally?” Vincent told me Friday. “Yes, I do. It is my responsibility as a professional athlete, as a person of color, as someone who is bloodied by the National Football League, bloody football, is part of our responsibility to continue what we believe is right for our game. I am one of team members in this relay race. “
He said there was a point in one of the recent NFL internal diversity meetings when he realized how far the league was from true inclusion.
“I just went somewhere else,” Vincent said, “because sitting in this meeting, listening, hearing people give different reasons, like: ‘This is not the right platform’ or ‘Troy, commissioner, I hear what you are trying to do – not sure this is the right vehicle but we understand. ‘
“Those are the same words they said to people in my community in the fifties, forties, about the integration of the school system, housing – but didn’t give us any solution.”
That was a pretty strong rebuke to business as usual in America’s biggest sports league, by the leading African-American voice in it.
Before I continue, this is Remembrance Day. And if you have a trumpet, and you have nothing to do today at 3 pm. ET, please. do what Steve Hartman proposed from CBS.
Thank you to all who have served. We don’t say nearly enough. But we can do the things we do because of those who have served our country for decades. . . so thank you, sincerely. At 3 pm today, I will open the window of my Brooklyn apartment, and I hope I hear at least one person doing what Steve Hartman suggested.
This will be an uncomfortable column. It should be uncomfortable to talk about this, because what is happening in the NFL is incorrect: 70 percent of minority players, 13 percent of minority head coaches, 6 percent of minority general managers, 3 percent of minority owners. What is wrong with this picture? You are good enough to play but don’t train, manage or own.
Last season was a good year for the NFL – strong TV ratings, emerging big teams, a new generation of quarterbacks coming to the fore. A good year for diversity, in some ways too. Two generations ago, black quarterbacks in the NFL were rare. But last year, the top four touchdown passers in the NFL (Lamar Jackson, Jameis Winston, Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott) black. Unquestioned MVP (Jackson) is a black quarterback, like the unquestioned Super Bowl MVP (Patrick Mahomes). This happened after a decade in which four times the top four touchdown runners, league MVP and Super Bowl MVP were all white quarterbacks.
Eight years ago, the NFL had a white all-in-charge crew for the Super Bowl. In the Super Bowl 54 Chiefs victory, eight crew members had five African-American men.
I am not suggesting that we place minority quarterbacks and minority officials in positions that they do not qualify for, just to overcome some kind of numbers game – or just to make us feel better about humanity. How many teams want Mahomes or Jackson or Wilson or Prescott or Deshaun Watson their team’s quarterback now? Thirty-two? That’s close to that. Regarding the officer. . . Answer this question: Is the Super Bowl formalized properly? Is there any big news from the Super Bowl about leading? Nothing – unless you consider an offensive ticky-tack interference call on the tight end of Niners George Kittle a big story. He did push, even though it was mild, negating a big increase in the first round. Debate whether it should be called, but he did. The point is, the crew that served the most variety in Super Bowl history had an anonymous day, which was the perfect day for the crew in charge.
Fast forward now. So how did the NFL get to the point where only six of the 64 best soccer people in the sport – 32 head coaches and 32 GMs – were in the minority?
Simple answer: NFL becomes comfortable. NFL owners are trusted to do the right thing, year after year. The NFL worked diligently when the Rooney Rules were adopted in 2003 to ensure minority trainers had the opportunity, and the number of minority trainers increased from three in 2003 to seven in 2006 to eight in 2011, and then, after a valley, returned to eight in 2017 and 2018. Now it drops to four in 2019 and 2020. So is that a temporary trough? Or is it real new?
“We don’t talk about it,” Vincent said. “We don’t want to talk about it.”
Three reasons why the league withdrew: “Self-preservation, nepotism, and agent monopoly. That is reality, when you see what is holding up the numbers. What we have done is, for years, we, including me, have allowed self-care to take over. People began to guard their territory, at various levels on the personnel side of the department and at various levels of training. Coaching community. Then there is the game, manipulating policy. You start making different titles, protecting people from moving. I will give you the job of assistant head coach, I will pay you a few more dollars. I want you to be quiet. Now, I’m protecting you, you can’t go anywhere. Over time, it has evolved and we allow it. “
Nepotism is difficult. Life is about connections in all businesses. But most staff in the NFL have coaches or coaches with connections. The Vikings have three assistant coaches with a father on staff. Pete Carroll’s two sons, Brennan and Nate, were Seahawks’ assistants. Bill Belichick has employed two sons, Steve and Brian, as Patriots’ assistants. Defensive coach Andy Reid with Chiefs is Britt’s son. (I’m sure I miss some relatives or in-laws here.) All of the teams – Minnesota, Seattle, New England, Kansas City – won. So I’m not saying what the coach did is wrong. What I’m saying is that it’s a benefit that no non-sibling has.
“Other people want to bring their brother-in-law, or their brother, or work with their father,” Vincent said. “But it is a barrier to entry, a barrier to mobility. That fact continues to grow. And now they share children with each other. You hire my friend or you hire my son’s son, you are my nephew and because they grow on the same tree, get the same agent. . . So it’s not unfair, it’s a challenge. We must recognize all of these things and try to break down those barriers. “
I did not see it end. Put yourself in the shoes of a head coach who might feel he has a family shortage with very long training hours over the years, and now he has some success and builds juice in an organization. Now he wants to help his son in the family business, or help the sons of those who are loyal to his staff. Will anyone stop him from making one or two family or friends? Probably not.
The point is, whether it is true or justified or whatever, it is a form of line jumping.
In March 2000, Tampa Bay coach Tony Dungy brought his enthusiastic secondary coach, Herman Edwards, to the NFL’s annual spring meeting. He asked the NFL to put Edwards on the coach’s panel at the meeting, with several head coaches, discussing the day’s problems. At the hearing that day was novice Jets owner Woody Johnson. A year later, in 2001, when the Jets opened, they were the first team to interview Edwards – and then offered him a job before he could continue with other interviews. Edwards later told commissioner Paul Tagliabue the reason why he got the job was exposure that day at a league meeting about ownership, including Johnson.
Tagliabue, now retired and living in Maryland, has remained informed but is not involved or influential in league events. But he was very interested in the minority who was recruited for 17 years as a commissioner, which ended in 2006. When he left the office, there were seven minority head coaches. Fourteen years later, there are four. On the phone with me Thursday, the first thing he wanted to do was put the situation in perspective. When Tagliabue took over as commissioner, there were no African-American trainers. Now 18 teams have employed at least one African-American head coach. So progress has been made. It’s been slow, but it’s not seen.
“I think there are two basic things that are needed,” Tagliabue told me the other day. “There must be a good candidate pipeline, and that pipeline must have direct exposure to those who make the decision to hire a coach.”
Tagliabue believes that hiring Edwards is the right allegory for today. One idea that he thinks can help – but certainly not the only one: At league meetings every year, each team brings two promising assistant assistants – some African-Americans, but of course not all. Divide the coaches into four breakout sessions: 16 coaches on the panel, with eight teams (owner and GM / club president) in attendance. During, say, 90 minutes or two hours, a discussion leader will encourage the trainers with the questions and topics of the day. After that, the owner and trainer will blend in and follow up. This will not be a one time; every year, the owner will see candidates from eight different teams from the previous year.
“Another way to do that in Zoom’s era,” Tagliabue said, “is to arrange the top 20 candidates at Zoom with the GM / president in the decision-making process.” Not all at once, but at different times of the year.
I told Vincent about the idea of the Tagliabue pipeline. “The commissioner is right,” Vincent said. “That is the field that we need to improve. We call this an informal networking opportunity. How can we create an atmosphere where the first time someone meets Anthony Lynn does NOT conduct a formal interview? Commissioner [Goodell] has encouraged us in this special field – creating as many touchpoint opportunities as we can. Critical. Very critical. And we haven’t done it. We haven’t done that. “
Three other points. . .
• The league must postpone recruitment until after the Super Bowl. The NFL got big black eyes when none of the four openings this year went to Chief Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who was black. The league avoided the second black eye in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. By the middle of the fourth, the San Francisco defense had held the Chiefs with 10 points and 240 yards. Architect D: Lebanese-American coordinator Robert Saleh, lover of network producers because of his demonstrative sideline. Of course Chiefs went wild in the last seven minutes, so no one shouted for Saleh to get the remaining work – Cleveland chose Viking offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski over him. But it’s not fair for coaches who are still working to have the team finish with the process in early January. The 10th recruitment / last training commitment – After the 2018 season: 7, 8, 8, 9, 9, 20, 2019.. . After the 2019 season: 31 December 2019, then 7, 8, 12, 2020 January. Either the coaches who are still training must serve two masters and make commitments to teams that are hungry for coaches during the playoffs, or they lose because they become head coaches. That’s stupid, short-sighted and unfair for a team that should be served by head coaches. It is also ridiculous that assistant coaches who are still in the playoff hunt must spend time weighing (in secret) whether to stay with their team or jump to a new team. The whole system is stupid.
• There are not enough minority offensive training candidates to fulfill the demand. “I know the NFL will lead to offensive players,” said Edwards, now Arizona State head coach, “but we have the same problem on the college pipeline as the young players. [minority] trainer. “Namely, not many of them. After Bieniemy, there was the Tampa Bay offensive coordinator, Byron Leftwich, and, if you believe in the college promotion model, Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, who has many fans in the NFL front office. But the channel of young minds offensive, white and minority, need encouragement.
• The NFL does the smart thing is to remove barriers to the mobility of the coordinator. Until last week’s vote, the team was able to block the best assistant from the interview to become a coordinator elsewhere. No longer. That might enable Chief quarterback coach Mike Kafka to become the Eagles offensive coordinator this year. Kafka was blocked by the Chiefs. Allowing the Team X assistant to interview the work of the coordinator in one of the other 31 teams is a long awaited rule.
I hope one of the things I did in the last few minutes has encouraged you to think of head coaches and team presidents and GMs who promote all coaches, not just minorities, for progress. “One of the reasons Bill Walsh is a very good adviser for his coach is because he advocates the coach [of all colors], “Tagliabue said. “He came up with a list that included Ray Rhodes and Dennis Green [both black], and Mike Shanahan and Mike Holmgren [white]. “
If the NFL seriously encourages training or all positions and colors and puts, say, 64 assistants per year in front of real decision makers, it will be a victory for the NFL, and a victory for football. The worst thing a league can do now is to continue catching the usual suspects. What the following coaches have in the following seasons:
Don Shula, in 1963.
Bill Belichick, in 2000.
Chuck Noll, in 1969.
Andy Reid, in 1999.
Bill Parcells, in 1983.
They were all hired with zero other teams chasing them. They are one of the 13 winning coaches ever. They all won the championship. They joined to win 15 Super Bowls.
Tony Dungy and Mike Tomlin also won the Super Bowl. Dungy’s seventh head-coaching interview eventually made him a head training shot in Tampa Bay. Tomlin was the main assignment in Pittsburgh in 2007 and got the job.
Do you know what Dan Rooney said? One size does not fit all. Find out what works for YOUR team.
Rooney did not pursue the hot man in his coaching recruitment three times. Robert Kraft did not chase after sexy men in 2000.
Pittsburgh and New England are tied for the most Super Bowl wins, with six.
The final word, from the choice of the first round of dolphins in 1992, from a 15-year-old NFL player, from a former NFL player of the Year, from a former president of the NFL Players Association, from a current NFL executive:
“When you talk about race, it’s disturbing,” Vincent said. “When people say, ‘Why do you inject racing into our games?’ … Reason me. Inject? That’s who we are! “
Pause “We are a better society when we are inclusive.
“Paul Brown and George Halas and Wellington Mara, they are at the forefront of this problem. When we talk about becoming an American hobby, we have to represent what people are like in the parking lot, selling merchandise, important workers around the stadium, the players. We have so much room to grow, to truly represent what America is. “
Standing in the way of two interesting rules rules are one of the great warning stories. You might be sick of hearing about what’s wrong with pre-season rules passed in 2019 that make replay interruptions reviewable, but that has to do with Judge Sky and the side kick proposal to be heard at a special league meeting Thursday, then vote .
Short review: After unacceptable interference with Rams’ Nickell Robey-Coleman At the end of the Rams-Saints NFC title match, the cry called for the league to agree to rules 14 months ago that would allow coaches to throw a challenge flag at a pass-interference flag that they thought was wrong, or to throw a challenge flag at a flag. playing coach thought it should be a distraction. The rules are carried out sporadically and inconsistently – to put it simply – with many horrible calls that are not canceled by reviews. The rule was not a one-year trial, and it died of death this season. It was not even prepared for the vote to continue for the second year.
On Friday, while talking to Troy Vincent about the rules, he failed in last year’s failure of interfering with the Judge of Heaven’s proposal.
“We can’t fail this year,” Vincent told me. “We saw, a year ago, when [the pass-interference rule] played, starting with myself, what we put last year. . . The results are not good for professional football. Because we did not conduct due diligence properly, it was done openly. The last thing people have to talk about is the way the game was formalized. They [officials] must be a faceless object, manage and facilitate the flow of the game.
“We failed. I was first in line. I shared that [with league officials]. I failed, as the head of the department. I failed. We cannot let that happen again. What do we learn from that? We have to do our due diligence. You can’t hurry and just push something there without knowing all the consequences. And we found that last year, alive and in action, in public.
“We didn’t do it [our due diligence] last year, and we failed, and we failed miserably. “
Very good. Someone took responsibility for last year’s official disaster. So now for this year.
Judge of Heaven. The coaches have been very supportive of the additional set of eyes at the booth, to call and remind the referee if officials on the field miss a clear violation, or mention one that is clearly wrong – or to get the telephone line or goal line correctly. On the surface, that’s a good idea. But in calling for the past few days, I have heard the phrase “unintended consequences” repeatedly. It is said that in half of the games in the NFL game, a set of independent eyes, watching sharply, can find violations, or violations to correct, in 30 or 40 percent of the game. A defender is marching in the neutral zone; recipients who must be in the Scrimmage line are yards off; illegal hands to the player’s face on the field from action and not involved in the game; jersey take downfield with cornerback away from the game. So should the so-called sky judge have a conscience about what should be marked and what should not be marked?
“My biggest concern,” said an old club executive, “is how often officials and referees on the field make contact, or hold conferences. Maybe they can create a workflow so that the person upstairs can talk to the referee as soon as the game is over and remind him that he might have something. But the man upstairs must be an experienced official, I think, or he will stop playing more than the players and coaches want. “
“The concept of the eighth man in the cubicle has several advantages,” Vincent said. “But we don’t have pipelines [of officials] today. Can we get there? Yes But today, it can be a challenge. “
We would be naive to think that some of this did not happen between replay officers and referees in the field. This can be as simple as the referee said to the referee: “Maybe you should ask your friends if someone really saw the ball crossing the goal line. Up to here, I did not see it. “That shouldn’t have happened, but I would be surprised if it didn’t happen to at least a few crew members. And in the pipeline, Vincent might be right. Some replays officials would be good at it, I imagine. And maybe some officials who just retired. But 17 of them?
Chances are the owner will choose to approve what the Competition Committee unanimously agrees – experiment with the eighth official upstairs during the preseason match. Vincent said it was also possible that some form of rules for the official top floor would be enforced for the regular season. But that sounds like a rushed job to me. Think about the mechanics. The NFL proposal says: “to allow information to be requested and received in a way that does not interfere with the normal flow of the game, any information must be given to the referee when requested during a normal crew conference in the field, or before the playtime reaches: 25 if the playtime is running. “That’s a lot to consider, especially asking Judge Sky in 12 to 15 seconds to analyze the game on replays and listen to let the referee know there’s a problem. What the league wants, I believe, is for the owners to give more repeat officials opportunities to communicate with field officials – at least for this year.
I called NBC rules analyst Terry McAulay, a former NFL referee, to ask for his opinion on the concept of Judge Sky. “Finding 17 people who have the skills to do the work and then clearly defining which rules can be enforced and which ones that cannot be enforced is very problematic,” McAulay said. “Until there is consensus on these two issues, it will be difficult to imagine how this can be successfully implemented.” Unless restrictions on the strength of replay officials who emerge from preseason trials are outlined in the letter T.
Kick onside. The owner will vote on the proposal to allow the team up to two times per game to enter the score game by running one game and trying to convert on the fourth and 15 of the 25-page offensive line. If the foul gets 15 yards or more on the game, the drive continues; if not, the defensive team takes over the short field. The driving force for this is the futility of recent onside kicks, in two seasons because the team has not been able to flood one side of the field to have a better chance at recovering kicks. (Onside-kick recovery rate, 2013-’17: 16.3 percent. Onside-kick recovery rate, 2018-’19: 10.5 percent.) Owners will choose yes or no for a one-year trial. I think it works well.
In the last few days, I have heard several people talk about kicks on the side as they are some sacred games that must remain in the game. Please. I will ask this question: Is the kick next to him a problem of athletic skill and achievement? Or is this a matter of luck and coincidence? When football is placed on a tee, and the kicker tries to trim the ball off the grass so that it bounces high into the air so that the 53rd man on your list can fuck the 53rd man on another team, and your 6-5 reserve Wideout can go up for a rebound and try to grab the ball, or if he fails there is a scrum for the ball on the ground and anyone who can gouge out the other person’s eyes, will first win control of the ball. . . I mean, is that a skills test?
Example: Opening day. Bucs in Saints. Tom Brady throw in a touchdown to bring Tampa within 28-24 with 45 seconds left. Saints has three timeouts left. As a football fan, do you want to kick Bucs Matt Gay come to try a side kick, a game with a 10 percent success rate? Or do you want Tom Brady to take a shot to complete the stitch jump Rob Gronkowski, or 18 yards to Mike Evans?
You say it’s not fair because of course you would rather put it on Brady’s shoulders. Good. Choose a team. Denver? Denver had to get the ball back at the last minute in Kansas City, and so on Drew Lock try searching Courtland Sutton or Jerry Jeudy or Noah Fant for 16 yards with a game on the line. That is football. That is fun. That’s tense. Give me that, anytime, through the onside kick.
As I said, I don’t know how this will work. But I know the way I hope it will work. I want to see great players on the pitch at the most important moment of the match.
This is the fourth in the series about how the NFL team conducted their offseason program, and installed their 2020 game virtually. Previous: the line of offensive Chargers, tight Seahawks ends and Viking wide receiver. Today, Detroit wide receiver.
Lions are in the first week of the NFL “Phase II” of the offseason program. In Phase II, teams are usually allowed to work on the field without pads when they start putting up their 2020 guidebooks, but this year, because all work is done virtually, the team must trust the players to do the work assigned to them. in the honor system. Or, in the case of Detroit, in a way that is always chaotic.
Scene: Coach Robert Prince, from his home in Jacksonville, is a Detroit assistant with the longest tenure – on the Lions staff since 2014 – which gives a normal atmosphere to an abnormal time. He teaches recipients for a two-hour daily session through Zoom video conferencing. Register for this Zoom session, and from where they joined the call from: Danny Amendola (Austin, Texas), Marvin Jones (San Diego), Kenny Golladay, Victor Bolden and Gerramy Davis (Los Angeles), Marvin Hall (Poway, Calif.), Chris Lacy (Dallas), Tom Kennedy (Farmingdale, N.Y.), Travis Fulgham (Florida), Geronimo Allison (Green Bay), converted DB Jamal Agnew (Detroit), rookie Quinten Cephus (Arizona).
Veteran: Danny Amendola. “Control what you can control,” he said. This is Amendola’s 12th NFL season, 34 years old. Detroit is his fourth different team, and he is in his second year as a Lion. The most difficult thing, he told me, was that the two local fitness centers in Austin where he worked out had to be closed because of a pandemic, so he had to improvise. He had rediscovered a heavy room – with a dumbbell circuit, Kettlebell, and traditional scales and bars – in the home of an Austin’s friend. That’s where he raised. He exercised in several other places, doing Yoga at his home and throwing with NFL quarterbacks Baker Mayfield (Chocolate) in Westlake High Austin and with Colt McCoy (Giants) on various days; on this day, he does Yoga at 2:15, and a throwing session with McCoy at 3. “I’ve thrown twice a week for about a month with Baker,” he said. He also flew (“private,” he said, “to be very safe”) to Atlanta for four days of toss Matthew Stafford.
“We will spend 14 OTA sessions on the field, most likely,” Amendola said. “That would be the hardest thing to pass. But everyone is on the same boat. For us, the good thing is we posted violations last year [under offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell], and we have many of the same people this year. “
Assistant coach: Robert Prince. He got advice on distance learning from two teachers in his family – his father and sister. Their advice: “Communicate excessively.” Dalam tiga minggu pertama pengajaran Zoom, Prince mengatakan dia menjelaskan mengapa setiap rute. Jika seorang pemain bertanya-tanya mengapa ia menjalankan kedalaman tertentu pada rute tertentu, mengetahui quarterback tidak akan melihatnya dalam perkembangan prima, Prince mungkin menjelaskan bahwa ia menjalankan rute untuk membuat penerima di dalam dirinya terbuka dan bebas dari bashing di zona benjolan lima yard. Dalam minggu ini, Prince mendesak para pemainnya untuk menemukan ruang untuk melakukan pekerjaan rute mereka di luar — tetapi dia tahu itu sulit bagi pemain seperti Golladay, karena tidak ada banyak lapangan terbuka publik di daerah Los Angeles, yang masih membuat orang enggan menggunakan fasilitas terbuka untuk latihan.
Ada faktor lain untuk pelatih Detroit. Sebelum program di luar musim, pelatih Matt Patricia mengatakan kepada setiap asisten untuk membuat rencana bagi setiap pemain untuk mengerjakan kelemahan, atau pada aspek permainannya yang bisa diperbaiki. Dengan Amendola, Prince menekankan gerak kaki. Beberapa pelanggaran dalam NFL memiliki cara yang berbeda untuk masuk dan keluar dari jeda, atau keluar dari barisan scrimmage. Amendola berupaya menyelaraskan gerak kakinya dengan cara Detroit mengajarkannya.
Pelatih kepala: Matt Patricia. Anda akan berpikir, dengan rekor 9-22-1 dalam dua tahun dengan Lions dan mengetahui tekanan pada tahun ketiga, bahwa Patricia akan berakhir dengan ketidaknyamanan pembinaan offseason yang terkena virus coronavirus. Bukan dia. Faktanya, empat kali dalam 30 menit pada hari Kamis, ia menekankan hal terpenting tentang offseason ini — dan faktanya, tahun ini secara keseluruhan — adalah para pemain dan stafnya yang melewatinya dengan sehat. “Sepak bola penting bagi kita semua,” katanya. “Tapi aku tidak ingin melihat orang kita menggunakan ventilator.”
Demikian pula, ketika latihan individu yang diinstruksikan oleh tim dimulai di luar minggu lalu, Patricia mengatakan dia menginginkan pemain yang bisa berolahraga di lapangan lokal — tetapi dia tidak ingin menekan mereka jika hidup mereka kacau. Juga: Dalam beberapa hal, dia terdengar seperti kesulitan musim semi ini akan membantunya. “Perjuangan terbesar saya dalam pekerjaan adalah keseimbangan hidup-kerja,” katanya. Ketika dia masih kecil di New York bagian utara, dia terikat dengan ayahnya di “Monday Night Football.” Dengan putranya Dominic semakin tertarik pada sepak bola, Patricia mengatakan itu menyenangkan selama rancangan untuk menumpahkan kacang ke Dominic bahwa mereka akan memilih cornerback Negara Bagian Ohio Jeff Okudah sebelum dunia tahu.
• Patricia juga memuji para pemainnya, termasuk Jerrod Davis dan Matthew Stafford, untuk pekerjaan amal terkait coronavirus. “Seluruh tim telah hebat dalam membantu orang-orang di Detroit dan di negara bagian ini,” katanya.
• Saya berharap Patricia akan tertunda oleh ketidaknyamanan pembelajaran jarak jauh dan, berpotensi, tidak ada praktik offseason. Itu sama sekali bukan bagaimana dia terdengar. That’s the kind of attitude that a coach who’s been seen as uptight at times will need whenever his team shows up to play in a tough division.
• Patricia, a former engineer, actually partnered with Davis and a Detroit nonprofit that employs single parents to mass-make surgical masks to help on the front lines. Patricia has spent his pro coaching career in a Belichickian devotion to the job. But this offseason has driven him to a more balanced life. The X’s and O’s, he said, are important, but more important are the caliber of people carrying out the duties drawn out as the X’s and the O’s. I’d have expected Patricia to be put off by the inconveniences of remote learning and, potentially, zero offseason practices. That’s not at all how he sounded. That’s the kind of attitude that a coach who’s been seen as uptight at times will need when his team shows up to play in a tough division.
“I know this isn’t the graduation ceremony that you and your families had envisioned. But the world is in a different place today than it was just a few weeks ago. And as Red Raiders, we’re built to persevere in difficult times … This is a day to celebrate, to look back on the friends you made, the professors who have changed your life and the memories that you will cherish forever. Go out and win your Super Bowl. Congrats, Class of 2020.”
—Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, via Adam Teicher of ESPN.com, in his short virtual graduation speech to the 2020 graduating class at his alma mater, Texas Tech, on Saturday.
“We fully expect that we will have positive cases that arise this fall, because we think this disease will remain endemic in society.”
—NFL chief medical officer Allen Sills, on the specter of COVID-19 testing for players during the 2020 season.
“It was like having Jim Crow laws.”
—Former Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who is African-American, to the Baltimore Sun, on an NFL rules proposal that was tabled that would have given NFL teams better draft position for hiring minority coaches and general managers.
“I think Brian Hoyer will be the starter week one.”
—Former Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich, on ESPN, on New England’s summer quarterback battle.
—New York Post headline in Sunday’s editions, regarding the news that Eli Manning had joined Twitter.
Joe Flacco, neck surgery and all, seems like a marvelous fit, financial and otherwise, for the New York Jets. He may not be ready to throw at full velocity till Sept. 1 because of recent neck surgery, but Sept. 1 is not when the Jets would need him, if they do. The $1.5-million they’re spending on him is a great backup-QB insurance policy for a team in a division that looks suddenly wide open.
Remember, skeptical Jets fans: You’re not buying a starting quarterback in Flacco. You’re buying someone who could win some games with the season on the line—because he’s won some big games in the past. Examples why this was a smart signing by GM Joe Douglas:
• Flacco’s best winning percentage against a division? It’s against the AFC East. He’s 7-0 lifetime against Miami, 3-1 against Buffalo . . . and he’s won two playoff games in Foxboro in four tries. In those four games, the Ravens outscored New England by 27 points.
• In the 2012 playoffs, Flacco went 4-0, beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady on the road on successive weekends, and had 11 touchdown passes and zero picks in the Ravens’ Super Bowl run. Any of those three nuggets in that last sentence would be highly impressive. All happened in the span of one month.
• The Jets, per the estimable Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, have lost 11 straight games when a backup quarterback starts. All the more reason to get one who can win.
As a freshman cornerback at Wisconsin in 1988, Troy Vincent occasionally lined up in practice to cover a 19-year-old freshman receiver from Texas, Chris Ballard.
Yes, that Chris Ballard, now the GM of the Indianapolis Colts.
It’s week 11 of not traveling for me, and week four of bringing back the. . .
CLASSIC TRAVEL NOTE
Ini adalah salah satu favorit saya. It’s from July 2010.
The Westin Hotel/Michigan Avenue in Chicago has long been a hotel of choice for me, because of its proximity to everything in such a great city. Last week, on my last travel leg of vacation, it was also the scene of something I never could have expected: an argument that, in 10 seconds, almost escalated into a hotel-lobby brawl.
There are three elevators in the lobby of the Westin, and at rush-hour check-in last Tuesday, two were out of service. So when my wife and I got to the bank of elevators around 6 p.m., there were 15 or so people waiting for the one working lift. We waited two, three, four minutes. Now there were 25 or 30 people waiting. And then a 35ish man wedged in to the left of the crowd waiting for the elevator. He looked at the line of people and looked peeved. We all were, of course. Then the door opened and 10 or 12 people came off the one working elevator. And the 35ish man took three quick steps to the elevator.
“Hey, hey, hey,” I said. “Come on, buddy. That’s not right.”
The guy stopped. He looked at me. Angry. “Don’t tell me what to do,” he snarled. “I wasn’t going on.”
“Yes you were,” I said. “I saw what you were doing. That’s not right.”
He took a couple of steps toward me.
“I’m a Starwood Preferred member,” he said angrily.
Like that made cutting the line OK. “You’re also an a——,” I said.
Now he walked the final three steps toward me. “You wanna step outside?” Mr. Starwood Preferred said. He bumped my chest hard. “People who use that word are looking for a fight,” Mr. Starwood Preferred said. “People who use that word to me, I go outside with. You wanna go outside?”
Now the elevator was full, and the door closed.
“No, I don’t,” I said.
He was breathing hard on me. “You’re a big talker,” he said, stepping back a step or two.
“And you’re still an a——,” I said. Oh, so clever.
He stepped toward me again. Almost simultaneously, a front-desk gal near the bank of elevators chirped, “I can take a few people up the service elevator!” My wife sidestepped the guy. I walked toward the door, me staring at Mr. Starwood Preferred the whole way. “—- you, ————,” Mr. Starwood Preferred hissed at me.
“Have a nice day,” I said, and boarded the service elevator.
I don’t know exactly why, but I almost wish Mr. Starwood Preferred had taken a swing at me. Even if he’d pummeled me (and he may well have), he’d have known that at least one person out of 30 sniffed out the real idiot in the crowd. Then again, I like my nose unbroken.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) May 24, 2020
Tapper is a CNN anchor, feting the late Tillman on Memorial Day weekend.
Today, our Flowery Branch facility opened for the first time in 67 days.
Our President, Rich McKay, explains how our facility will look different moving forward. pic.twitter.com/eXUykDXKFH
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) May 19, 2020
– Tom Brady (@TomBrady) 23 Mei 2020
Brady, welcoming Eli Manning to Twitter.
Still waiting to be twitter verified, starting to feel like something else I’ve been waiting for… @verified is this about not having a Super Bowl win?
— Ken Anderson (@KenAndersonNFL) May 19, 2020
Anderson, the former Bengals quarterback, was on the losing side in Super Bowl 16, a 26-21 win by the Niners.
Peyton, two words, if Tom and Phil start coming back…”Philly Special.” Go win it. #TheMatch2
— Nick Foles (@NickFoles) May 24, 2020
Interesting question. From Chris, via Twitter: “Why is the alternate onside kick proposal only allowed twice per game? Wouldn’t it be more exciting to allow it as often as possible?”
Chris refers to the proposal (which I wrote about earlier in the column) to allow a team to choose a maximum of twice per game whether, following a scoring play, it either lines up to kick off or chooses to take the ball on its 25-yard line and attempt a fourth-and-15 play. If the team converts, it continues the drive on first down. If the team fails to convert, the ball is turned over with Team B taking it at the spot where the fourth-and-15 play left it. My gut feeling is, Chris, that the NFL doesn’t want to scare off teams thinking of voting for the play with the thought that this play could happen 12 times in a game. Usually, on counter-culture ideas like this one, those pushing it want to pass legislation that could be expanded in the future. For now, it’s likely teams would use it only late in games anyway; the chance of converting a fourth-and-15 play is less than 1 in 5, per NFL metrics. So why would a team, even one with a mobile quarterback with speed receivers going against a team with a poor secondary, take the chance on a play like this very often, knowing that an incomplete pass gives the opposition first-and-10 already in field-goal range?
On Matt Rhule. From Richard O’Hagan, of Beaconsfield, England: “I enjoyed your piece on Matt Rhule, but wondered if you thought that the lockdown might be easier for him and his inexperienced staff, because they have fewer preconceptions about how things should be done in the NFL? Might it not be a lot more difficult for coaches who have had three or four years of doing things a certain way, or for coaches like Ron Rivera who are having to learn both a new team and a new methodology?”
Good point, Richard, and you prompted me to think of something I wish I’d written about last week in my Rhule-Panthers story. Because a guy like Matt Rhule—and his first-time NFL coordinators, Phil Snow and Joe Brady—will be wide open to every player on the roster making the final 53, what especially hurts them is no exposure in live OTA practices this spring. This is the time, and in the early days of training camp, that undrafted free-agents like Austin Ekeler with the Chargers in 2018, and Brent Grimes in Atlanta and Tony Romo with Dallas 15 or so years ago, really started to make their marks. Rhule and the coaches, after seeing their crop of rookies, would have the time to mentally formulate how many young and unproven prospects they’d want to keep to form a nucleus. And now, if their time with the youngsters is limited, who knows how that will affect the formation of the early Panther roster.
I like the way you think. From Sylvain: “I don’t know any of the NFL owners, but I’m sure most (if not all) are decent men. A decent man is not a decent man because he obeys the law, but because he doesn’t need a law. Therefore I’d suggest that the NFL spend more money in the education of minority football coaches and GMs so that a pipeline exists and can support the need for diversity in the league. I remember Bill Walsh initiated such a program, and I’m sure the NFL has today something equivalent. Education is more valuable than repression, don’t you think?”
Paul Tagliabue’s point about a pipeline that is real with real access to the owners and GMs/presidents who run the searches is something like what you’re talking about. I’m in favor of both.
Phyllis George, O.J. Simpson and me. From Brian Biggane: “This story is a lot less about Phyllis, whom I agree did a lot for the game and was underrated, and more about O.J. As the Bills’ beat writer for the 30,000-circulation daily Niagara Gazette in 1975, I asked O.J. after a Sunday home game if we could do a one-on-one the following Wednesday and he said sure. When I got to practice that day the place was abuzz: Phyllis was up in PR man Budd Thalman’s office, waiting to speak with you-know-who. Discouraged, I took my time walking from the field back to the locker room, figuring I’d be waiting an hour or more for my interview. The minute I walked in I was shocked to see O.J. walking toward me still in his sweats. I blurted out, ‘What about …?’ He cut me off, saying, ‘We set this up Sunday. She can wait.’ We ducked into a side room and for the next 30 minutes I got the best one-on-one with him in my three years on the beat while Thalman paced outside, fuming. When we were done I thanked O.J., we shook hands and Thalman hustled him away. For years I told people O.J. was the best athlete I’d dealt with. Then came Brentwood.”
That’s a good one, Brian. Thanks.
1. I think watching Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady for a couple hours of golf Sunday was a relief and fun—not to mention, holy crap, how could anyone play semi-competently in a driving rainstorm! But it was also cool to see two guys who are not professional golfers put their sporting dignity on the line and hit some great and some not-so-great golf shots . . . yet understand that the real purpose here was to raise a staggering $20 million for pandemic relief. Good for these four great athletes and caring people—and good for the others like Russell Wilson who cameoed into the telecast to donate thousands of meals for the hungry to Feeding America. Sunday was a good day for the country.
2. I think something got lost in translation last week in the debate over trying to incentivize hiring minority coaches and GMs with draft picks. A proposal to mandate that teams interview two minority candidates for a head-coaching opening is a step passed, and was widely viewed as a step in the right direction for racial progress in the NFL. But improving the draft position for a team that hires a minority coach is a slap in the face to minorities; that measure was withdrawn without a vote by owners. Both are attempts to move owners to hire more minority coaches.
And though I understand the Louis Riddick point of view that people in an organization might look at an incoming minority coach or GM with the was-he-really-worthy stigma, I wonder this — let’s say the Cowboys hired Eric Bieniemy instead of Mike McCarthy as head coach this year. Let’s say Dallas went 8-8 in 2020 and earned the 82nd pick in the third round of the 2021 draft. As the benefit for hiring Bieniemy, who is black, Dallas would have its pick improved by six slots. Do you think Jerry Jones would be motivated to chose Bieniemy over McCarthy because it would allow him to pick 76th instead of 82nd in the third round 16 months down the road? So maybe there’d be a stigma—but I don’t see the draft-pick thing motivating owners to pick a different coach or GM than the one they thought was best for the team.
3. I think, however, it’s clear that most in position to be picked as a coach of GM of color believe the rule would have meant they were almost certainly viewed as lesser candidates and so needed a competitive spur to make teams hire them. I don’t think that’s why the proposal was advanced, but it’s certainly how it was viewed by those it would affect the most.
4. I think I wonder if I’m the only one who is worn out by the endless discussion of Dak Prescott’s contract. The reporting, the arguing, the talk-showing, the endless prattle that goes absolutely nowhere. It’s not a winnable argument. Does anyone care whether Prescott signs a four- or a five-year contract? Has there been one call to a Texas talk show debating whether he should make $33 million a year or $35 million?
5. I think no one follows sports to read and hear about contracts. It could be that it will be important when July 15 comes and goes, and Prescott plays on a one-year deal and says he’ll follow the Kirk Cousins model and just play out his contract. Now that will be significant. But until then, collective sports media, do us a favor. Leave it alone. It’s boring. It doesn’t matter. It’s a dead end.
6. I think no one asked me, but a few thoughts on the nine-part Tom Brady doc due next year on ESPN:
• Gotham Chopra, the film maker and Brady business partner, is very good. His “Tom vs. Time” six-part series in 2018 is the most illuminating thing ever done on Brady, by anyone. An encore for that show will be tough. I’ll never forget Chopra capturing with a back-seat camera Brady driving away from Gillette Stadium on a pitch-black September night after losing the 2017 opener embarrassingly to Kansas City, and Gisele Bundchen doing everything she could to empathize with Brady and try to life him up—and Brady just sitting there, driving and stewing. Brilliant. Those are the moments that would make the nine episodes of his Super Bowl chases special, and I hope Chopra has a good plan to harvest some.
• Can Chopra make a deal with NFL Films to get some deep-vault stuff on some of the big Brady games and times early in his career? It’s going to be a challenge to make those games come to life without some you-are-there stuff from Brady and mates two decades ago.
• Of course, this could be and probably will be a totally different way of storytelling. My guess is the next two months will be crucial for Chopra and Brady to get a lot of the work done for the series, because Brady won’t want to take time during the season to invest in it.
• I’m a bystander—I don’t know Michael Jordan, and I know Brady some but I’m certainly not tight with him. But Brady doesn’t seem to have the same cutthroat nature as Jordan. Brady’s got some of it, as any high-achieving athlete must have. But I don’t think Brady has a Jerry Krause or a Horace Grant in his life, and the kind of daily foils that made life for teammates miserable. So I hope there is no push from ESPN to Be Like Mike and push storylines that aren’t real. Brady wouldn’t stand for that anyway.
7. I think there’s a clarification on this Steelers ticket story from Friday. You may have heard the Steelers are holding back 50 percent of their ticket allotment from being sold for the 2020 season. Bukan itu masalahnya. The real story is the team—which has a June 1 deadline for season-ticket payments for the 2020 season—is holding back 50 percent of the tickets they sell as single-game tickets. In other words, not many … maybe a couple of thousand. So if you’ve got Steeler season-tickets, they’re not endangered for this season. (Hopefully if you’ve got them and want to keep them, you can in this time of economic turmoil.) When I first heard this story the other day, I thought: How in the world will the Steelers decide which 50 percent of their fan base to turn away? I’m glad the real story is a lot less interesting.
8. I think Mike Lombardi writes a great column at The Athletic.
9. I think if I ran an NFL team, or owned one, and Roger Goodell came to me today and said: “You’ve got a choice: open Sept. 13 with no fans, and gradually get them back in the stadium in October and be back to capacity by Thanksgiving if there’s no significant flareup of the pandemic—or wait till mid-October and start play at 50 percent capacity, with more fans in stadiums as the year progresses” . . . I’d vote to play Sept. 13, on schedule. Because we just don’t know what the future holds. We don’t know if there’s going to be a second wave around Thanksgiving or later. I’d rather just play the games and try to get fans back when it’s universally safe than hold off, play four or five weeks, then have the disease rear its head and cause the season to stop. No guarantee that this will happen, of course, but if the environment is good to play, even without fans, I’d want to play.
10. I think these are my other thoughts of the week:
a. Football Story of the Week: Dan Pompei of The Athletic, on the football life and times of Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long, gone from the game at 30. If you want to know what the real world of the NFL trenches is like, read this Pompei masterwork. Writes Pompei:
Why quit, at 30? A lot can be explained in 16 surgery scars.
. . . In the span of a month in the winter of 2017-18, Long has surgeries on his neck, shoulder, elbow and chest. During the neck procedure, doctors discover the cadaver vertebrae they have is too small for his neck, which is about the size of some waists. When Long awakens from anesthesia after four and a half hours, the first pain he feels is in his hip. He looks down and sees a large scar. Surprise. Bone was taken from his hip to use in his neck.
Then comes a triple surgery in Los Angeles on his shoulder, elbow and chest. Afterward, another violent bout of vomiting along with full-body cramps. His father follows him around a hotel room with a bucket.
b. That’s not every player’s version of the football experience. But it certainly is the experience for some unfortunate souls.
c. Luckily, per Over The Cap, Long made $37 million in his seven-year career. I bet he’d say it was worth it. I wonder.
d. Thanks, everyone, for your many responses to my wavering on “After Life,” the Ricky Gervais show on Netflix. I wondered after being thoroughly depressed by the first two episodes whether to continue. By a vote of 16-1 via email, you told me to stick with it, and so my wife and I did. Now we’re binging through season two and mostly liking it quite a bit. Gervais, of course, is talented, but I might love the cast and the English village and countryside more. And the dog. That incredible Shepherd, or Shepherd mix. So I’m sticking with it.
e. Column of the Week: Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News, on the life of a sportswriter without sports. Nice and peaceful and pensive. Six months without being in a press box. Long time for someone in this business.
f. Writes Sherrington, about his life at home north of the Metroplex:
The quarters of our confinement: a three-bedroom ‘50s ranch typical of our North Dallas neighborhood when we bought it in 1992 but practically extinct these days. Architectural wonders loom all around us now. Funny thing is, no matter how grand they build them, they still live across the street from me. Other than the old, red F-150 parked out back, the only distinguishing feature of our humble abode is the screen porch. Frankly, we haven’t made much use of it over the years. Too cold in the winter; too hot otherwise. Or that was always the excuse. Maybe we were just too busy to enjoy the pastoral pleasures a screen porch evokes.
A fountain gurgles in a nearby bed of ferns under the canopy of a Japanese maple. A cocky blue jay primps in the basin. Across the alley, the breeze rippling the leaves in a three-story cottonwood sighs like a wave dying on a beach. And then there’s the sound a screen door makes after you let it go: one bark, then two. Reminds me of my grandmother’s house, a two-bedroom cottage where she raised 11 children on the corner of two dirt roads in Henrietta. No, not Troy Aikman’s Henryetta. The town down the road from Wichita Falls. Larry McMurtry country.
g. That’s the kind of story I could read again. Good work, Kevin.
h. Baseball Story of the Week: Joel Sherman of the New York Post, 30 years after the phenom of phenoms, Gregg Jefferies, had a disastrous run trying be the next great New York baseball player.
i. Man, the Mets clubhouse seemed so toxic, so insular, so Sopranos-like to any outsider. You’ve got to feel for Jefferies, and yet, amazingly, Sherman reports he loves the guys who contributed to his New York ruination today.
If the term did not exist, then Jefferies could pioneer the concept of “wrong place, wrong time.” Wrong place? In 1988 where would be the worst location to send a 19-year-old who was lacking in self-awareness, who was bathed in self-interest, who was insular yet familial and a bit aw-shucks and was hailed as the next great player at a time when the sport did not love the concept of who is next as much as it was threatened by it?
Sending Gregg Jefferies to the 1988 New York Mets was like sending a choirboy to Sing Sing. The team had mainly been together for five years, played hard, lived harder, fought among each other but fought outsiders with more ferocity. The infighting, if anything, strangely strengthened the internal loyalty. That unity made the group particularly savage turf protectors.
j. Maybe it’s age—I turn 63 in a couple of weeks—but I’m really becoming fond of my 35-minute-ish afternoon nap.
k. Coffeenerdness: I’m getting into these canned coffees, particularly those made by Rise, Illy and La Colombe. I saw a Maxwell House ad for an iced coffee, and if I find that in the store, I’ll try it.
l. Front Page of the Week: Sunday’s New York Times, as we closed in on 100,000 deaths due to the coronavirus.
m. Grateful to see we’re not forgetting about those we’ve lost, on the front page of a big newspaper. Those who died, and who left loved ones, should not be forgotten. Including these people:
Robert Lee Amos, 66, Columbus, Ind., expert marksman and firearms instructor.
Merle C. Dry, 55, Tulsa, Okla., ordained minister.
Harold Reisner, 78, Pittsburgh, took furniture repair to an art form.
Hailey Herrera, 25, New York City, budding therapist with a gift for empathy.
Cornelius Lawyer, 84, Bellevue, Wash., sharecropper’s son.
Israel Sauz, 22, Broken Arrow, Okla., new father.
Mike Field, 59, Valley Stream, N.Y., first responder during the 9/11 attacks.
Clara Louise Bennett, 91, Albany, Ga., sang her grandchildren a song on the first day of school each year.
Merrick Dowson, 67, San Francisco, nothing delighted him more than picking up the bill.
n. The Times ran a thought on each of the 1,000. It’s overwhelming to read. And you realize it’s only 1 percent, and I thought how great a tribute it was, because now all those people are not just statistics. They are people.
Service members everywhere:
Thanks for everything.
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