The league may be on lockout, but there is still plenty of drama for what has become the biggest American soap opera: The NFL!

News and Notes from Around the NFL

 

The Green Bay Packers have the most loyal fan base in the NFL.  They are always there and always support their team.  The Dallas Cowboys fans love a party and as long as the team is not hopeless they have the most crazy and wild fan base.  But similar to the St. Louis Cardinals in baseball, the Washington Redskins have the smartest fans in football.  That can’t even be debated.  That fan base shows up, cares, and although you may not see, the blood is thicker than water loyalty of Green Bay, or the craziness of the Lone Star State, they have a high football IQ.  Most people who live in D.C. are not native.  So the folks who got to FEDEX are true fans of the game.  A former Redskin player told me how within a week of joining the team there were several people from his native Ohio with his jeresey.  Mike Shanahan has alienated his players and unlike Denver, which has good fans that are loyal to the franchise more so than the actual game, his antics are not endearing himself there according to a player I spoke to.  One NFL personnel person told me this past week, “The District has such a melting pot of people from all over the country that those people go to watch the actual game.  They are smart and he can’t get away with things there that in Denver were O.K.  People in D.C. understand politics and the game and when you mess with either they don’t like it.”  With all of the troubles they have had in D.C. under his leadership, it is hard to imagine that the leash on Shanny isn’t tight.  Give Snyder credit, he puts his money where his mouth is and he DEMANDS that he get results.  This isn’t like Denver where he got a ton of rope from the owner and the fans.  Neither are as laid back or forgiving in D.C.

 

The two sides in the labor dispute are getting closer.  I have said from the beginning that there is NO WAY, 0% chance, that they miss games.  Come September 11, 2011, THEY WILL HAVE FOOTBALL.  As one highly respected NFL person for an AFC team said to me four weeks ago, “The P.R. of not having a game in D.C and New York on that date, with that significance is not something Goodell (Roger the Commissioner) would allow.”

 

It is widely accepted that once a deal is struck Philadelphia QB Kevin Kolb will be a Cardinal.  Although that certainly is an option, it is not as set in stone.  One thing about the long lay off that is similar to a player choosing to come back a year in college is that every team has gotten the chance to overanalyze the work of Kolb.  Just like what seems to me the millennium of time between the end of a season in college and the actual draft, the NFL people talk and now everyone is chirping about the issues he sees.

 

The reason that Eagles are so willing to trade Kolb is the emergence of their 3rd string QB Mike Kafka.  He has not only played well in the limited minutes he has got, but in practice and in the film room he has his coaches’ attention.  There is NO DOUBT from that staff that he could be the future when Mike Vick retires.  There has also been significant attention from other teams on that young man, but the Eagles have accepted that Kolb won’t be an Eagle in 2011; they have not accepted that Kafka won’t.  One Philadelphia Eagle told me, “Mike (Kafka) is the smartest football player I have ever met.”

 

The draft wasn’t over and the Patriots were already getting calls about backup QB Brian Hoyer.  With the Patriots choosing much maligned QB Ryan Mallett, that pick had nothing to do with disappointment in Hoyer.  In fact, the Pats quickly shot down the trade offers for now, emphasis on for now.  Teams have watched at what Hoyer has grown into under some impressive tutelage and like it.  Pats coach Bill Belichick isn’t married to any player.  He likes Hoyer and wants to keep him.  IF Mallett can make progress there will still be more value from other teams for Hoyer.  Belichick loves and craves picks.  The good news for Hoyer according to an NFC team personnel man is simply, “What Bill will ask for to get Hoyer will be significant and that means he would immediately compete for a starters job.  They don’t like him, they love him, and so if no one is willing to pay their price they don’t care.  They have their guy.  This is a no lose for the Patriots or Hoyer.”

 

Spartan Plaxico Burress gets out of prison today.  It is a new day in his life.  He will be in top shape and when the labor dispute is over, he will immediately get workouts.  As long as he can prove he is in shape and in the interviews proves maturity, he will be a much sought after player.  Out of the box the Eagles are the front runners, but here is a team to think about.  He will be a top-flight guy, but will he come with a top-flight cost?  The Jets have two very expensive WR’s and we know how they operate.  If all things prove OK, would they try to stick it to the Giants (Burress former team) and sign him?  If he comes cheaper than either of their two free agents that is certainly in play.  One AFC team member of management said yesterday, “That is for sure the way I am thinking.”  Other teams that could be in the hunt are the Colts and Patriots.  Don’t be shocked, remember that the Pats took Randy Moss and Plax is not the head case that Moss can be.

 

If there is one player who has benefited from the lockout it is former Lions first round pick Mike Williams.  There were rampant jokes that this young man, who has struggled with his weight and his mental readiness, would melt under the work stoppage and end up looking frankly…like me.  That is not the case and the former USC WR is in exceptional shape and is ready to go.  A downside is that the NFL is using Williams and people like him trying to explain to the Eighth Circuit court that the players are suffering no harm with a lockout.

 

Here is a stat that astounded me last week.  Compared to the same time last year the NFL this season has sold more season tickets than last.  MORE.  As in all the doom and gloom prophets (NOTICE I DIDN’T SAY PROFITS…A DIFFERENT WORD AND MEANING…hmm did I get a dictionary for my birthday?) saying the NFL lockout would kill the goose are certainly premature.

 

Finally, a stat that has nothing to do with football, but it certainly proves what I have been saying for a long time.  The love and adoration of the NFL has put the game without any doubt as the most loved professional team sport in America.  Baseball, which a few short years ago, sat at the top at NUMBER ONE (no one ever thought it had a chance of falling) is struggling to stay at #2.  Both literally #2 and figuratively from the third grade #2…that means poo.  This stat comes courtesy of Spartan Nation senior writer Jon Schopp.  He Tweeted this amazing stat this past week when he said, “Fact: ’11 Stanley Cup Gm 1 drew higher TV ratings in Boston than ’10 NBA Finals Gm 1 of Lakers-Celtics. Someone tell that to the 4 letter.”  Now Jon is not known to carry great affection for ESPN, thus the four-letter inference and not one that would offend folks who don’t like four letter cuss remarks.  By the way, Jon is an accomplished attorney who actually has done well enough to have people that do his typing for him at the Great Foy and Associates in Atlanta.  That is not why he typed like he was drunk (although he could have been out with his gorgeous girlfriend, baking in the Atlanta heat and doing that). On Twitter one often needs to use shorter versions of words because you are only allowed 140 characters.  I like Twitter because people tend to think I am less of an idiot when I spell things incorrectly.

 

Well, there you go.  You asked to have NFL news and notes back and you will start seeing it again every Monday morning.