News and Notes from Around the NFL

 

Lions’ first round draft pick Nick Fairley, heading into the draft, had a lot of people questioning his work ethic.  Fair or not, there were questions.  He has missed a lot of the workouts for Lions players.  Fairley’s work ethic will be compared to his new teammate Suh.  Suh missed a lot of workouts, but has been working hard in preparation.  Who knows if Fairley has, but not being a regular in Detroit with his teammates has a lot of them ready to judge him with a fine-tooth comb.  Watching him and how he adjusts will be very interesting.

 

Vince Young is a likeable young man.  Tennessee was one of the rare places where the head coach (Jeff Fisher) was VERY popular with the players.  He was tough, demanded a lot, but was also able to have the team and their respect.  In a power play the owner essentially moved Fisher out. His prerogative, he owns the team.  The interesting development is that as most of the NFL salivates hoping Fisher would choose to coach their team, there is not a long waiting list for Young.  One former Titan told me this week, “Vince is a real nice guy.  I just don’t think football was all that important.  At Texas the playbook was a lot of on the spot reads and he did fine.  In the NFL the playbook is full of plays and after a lot of years here I don’t think he knew them all.  I don’t think he was dumb, I just think he didn’t like to prepare in the classroom and he didn’t.”  Fair or not, no one questions Young’s brain; they question his will.  It will be interesting to see.  His former coach has suitors lined up and he doesn’t, one with nothing to prove and one with everything.

 

The players and the owners are close to a deal.  The problem is that the owners have a vocal minority that is hard set on a certain type of deal.  That minority has the veto power because it takes so many owners to ratify a deal.  As a deal gets closer, look for the NFL leadership team trying to split a few votes off of the minority group to get a deal done.  The owners hold most of the leverage and the main thought is that the longer this goes, the better it is for the owners.  That may be true, but the NFL and the majority of owners want this done sooner rather than later.

 

The players and the owners want a rookie wage scale as long as the pool of money set aside for general compensation of everyone has a hard floor and the money gets into the veterans hands.  I agree.  The biggest obstacle to that is getting it agreed upon?  Agents.  They are trying to get their clients to stop that.  Why?  Because if there is a rookie wage scale does that diminish the power of the big time agent to get the monster rookie deal?  It sure does.  It also will make them less important, and if a player as a rookie is picking an agent and knows that the scale is already there, many will choose the less known guy or try to simply get a lawyer and eliminate the entire process.

 

It is hard to call someone who makes millions a victim.  We know that the players on average play three and a half years in the league, but the biggest victim/loser in the NFL labor deal could be the Commissioner himself Roger Goodell.  There is a small block (estimated at 9-11) of owners who want to hold this thing out for sweeping changes.  They are hardcore.  I don’t think the majority of that group will get what they want.  When labor peace is settled, does Goodell end up the victim who the other owners acquiesce to the minority that didn’t get all that they wanted to let Goodell go?  Hard to imagine, but I know according to several NFL people that at least it has been quietly discussed.  Like Goodell or not, he has been good for the game.  I hope he stays.

 

Gabe Carimi, the big OT out of Wisconsin, was the first round pick of the Bears.  They love the youngster and kept their fingers crossed hoping that he dropped to them.  Well of all the rookies perhaps no one has had as good of a time in preparation for the season as Carimi.  He looks great and is ready.  He will be a starting tackle from day one, which all first round OL should be.  Just look for him to be there for ten years.  He could end up the steal of the draft with how low he went.

 

I had a great conversation with Titans RB Javon Ringer.  Regular readers know the respect I have for him.  He carried the ball so much at MSU that he said he looks at his first two years of not getting as many carries behind C.J. (Chris Johnson) as “A blessing.  It was almost like a red shirt situation.  I am in the very best shape of my life.  I am so ready to have an impact this year.”  Ringer, who was always in great shape, has muscles bursting off of his frame in places I had no clue a human could.  Anyone that knows Ringer well will tell you that like Dantonio he doesn’t waste words and is brutally honest.  If he says that he is in the best shape of his life, look out NFL and Merry Christmas to the Titans.  Chris Johnson has many people speculating that he will hold out for a new deal once the season starts.  With Ringer ready behind him, that may not be a good idea…for Johnson.

 

Terrelle Pryor has an agent in Drew Rosenhaus that sure knows how to drum up business.  Well, that is good for Pryor, but his skill set and what is perceived as potential character issues have a lot of NFL teams at zero interest.  That is fine as long as Jud’s old idiom that it “Only takes one” can happen.  The logical destination when you talk to NFL people is that he will end up with Oakland in the supplemental draft.  They crave the athleticism he offers and has the skill set and arm strength they love.  They may be the only one (I think there could be as many as three teams) that want him so the question then becomes do they overpay and pick him higher than they need to?  It’s Oakland so don’t we just assume that?

 

It seems to be news to some people that Pete Carroll, the now coach of the NFL’s Seahawks, wont’ talk about the problems that the NCAA has dealt with at USC?  Does this shock people?  One successful member of the college football world told me on Saturday, “Pete got out of town fast.  Who would be shocked?  The kids pay and he ran.  Sure love the integrity of the NCAA.”  Can you argue with that?

 

The biggest loser in this NFL lockout are the rookie free agents who aren’t going to get a myriad of camp, OTA’s, and other opportunities to show their abilities to teams.  That is why those young men who weren’t drafted have to ready for a very short chance to impress and have to be working harder now than ever for when that small window opens.

 

One last note for today’s column…Several NFL team and league people have told me that this year’s free agent “Bonanza” could be the spectacle of all spectacles with the NFL.  One veteran coach told me this week via phone, “I can’t even imagine when that small little window of time opens and the free agents are available, how this thing will go.  This will be the closest to college as ever.  It will be full scale recruiting for those veterans.  It will be a show.”