Category Archives: The NFL Is Your Friend.

“It shouldn’t be a rigged game.”

This is revolting.  But not surprising.

At least a half-dozen top NFL health officials waged an improper, behind-the-scenes campaign last year to influence a major U.S. government research study on football and brain disease, congressional investigators have concluded in a new report.

The 91-page report describes how the NFL pressured the National Institutes of Health to strip the $16 million project from a prominent Boston University researcher and tried to redirect the money to members of the league’s committee on brain injuries. The study was to have been funded out of a $30 million “unrestricted gift” the NFL gave the NIH in 2012.

After the NIH rebuffed the NFL’s campaign to remove Robert Stern, an expert in neurodegenerative disease who has criticized the league, the NFL backed out of a signed agreement to pay for the study, the report shows. Taxpayers ended up bearing the cost instead.

The NFL’s actions violated policies that prohibit private donors from interfering in the NIH peer-review process, the report concludes, and were part of a “long-standing pattern of attempts” by the league to shape concussion research for its own purposes.

I’m sure those purposes were humanitarian.  Totally.

The NFL strenuously objects, of course.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy on Monday said: “The NFL rejects the allegations laid out … There is no dispute that there were concerns raised about both the nature of the study in question and possible conflicts of interest. These concerns were raised for review and consideration through the appropriate channels. … It is deeply disappointing the authors of the Staff Report would make allegations directed at doctors affiliated with the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee without ever speaking to them.”

But I notice it’s not stepping up to relieve the taxpayers of that $16 million dollar bill we’ve been presented with.

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said on SportsCenter on Monday that the union decided, years ago, to split from the NFL on such matters because of the league’s conflicted history around brain research. He said the league has no commitment to the health and safety of its players.

“It’s one of the most troubling and disturbing reports I’ve seen,” Smith said of the Outside the Lines story Monday, adding he wasn’t surprised, however. “It reaffirms the fact that the league has its own view about how they care about players in the NFL.”

Pallone said he hopes the report will push the league to make changes.

“The history with the league is, if you catch them, then they start to listen,” Pallone said.

And you wonder why the people in charge keep getting sued for crap like this.

“Lots of history here. But our process was not tainted and all above board. … Trouble is of course that the [Stern] group is led by people who first broke the science open, and NFL owners and leadership think of them as the creators of the problem.”

Well, actually, you don’t.

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Filed under The Body Is A Temple, The NFL Is Your Friend.

Tuesday morning buffet

A little of this, a little of that…

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Filed under Big Ten Football, ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, Political Wankery, Recruiting, SEC Football, The NFL Is Your Friend.

Thursday morning buffet

Haven’t had one of these in a little while.  Dig in.

  • Florida hasn’t lost to Tennessee in over a decade, but that’s not stopping Jim McElwain from playing the lowered expectations card for all it’s worth.
  • Speaking of Tennessee, if you’re a player in need of legal advice, the school would be happy to point you in the right direction.
  • Judging from this fiasco, it looks like coaches can behave as moronically on social media as teenagers do.  Go figure.
  • Kirby Smart likes the idea of beginning a season against a top opponent in a neutral site venue.
  • Mark Richt thinks satellite camps constitute “illegal recruiting”.
  • And while we on the subject of satellite camps, it sounds like a lot of SEC coaches are preparing to stay and see Georgia.
  • Here’s a list of eleven characteristics of “outstanding high school and college offensive coordinators”.
  • If you’re a receiver on the short side, it might pay to ask your coaches to let you switch to the other side of the ball.
  • Pete Fiutak’s got his Georgia preview posted here.  Related pieces here and here.

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, Recruiting, See You In Court, Social Media Is The Devil's Playground, Strategery And Mechanics, The NFL Is Your Friend.

Sometimes, it’s not the NCAA’s fault.

I always look for a good rant or two after draft day, and here comes Kevin Scarbinsky’s stay in school, kids! piece about how early entrants should be allowed to return to school if they’re not drafted to fill the bill.

You could argue that this could impact scholarship numbers because players declare in January and schools sign recruits in February knowing how many openings they have. If a school has a full complement of 85 players on scholarship, an undrafted underclassmen who wanted to return would put that school over the limit.

Truth is, few schools actually have 85 players on scholarship, and the NCAA could grant waivers for underdrafted underclassmen if they did.

Isn’t the NCAA all about athletes being students as well? Shouldn’t the NCAA want to give players every opportunity to continue their education? And why would the NFL care either way? NFL teams might get a more polished and mature prospect to consider the next year.

If you care about the players, as the NCAA and the NFL should, it just makes sense to give them a chance to continue their formal and football educations.

Uh, you done there?  Good.  Allow Jim Weber to retort.

First, let me give you a little bit of background information with an assist from John Infante of the Bylaw Blog. Contrary to popular belief, a player who declares early for the NFL draft and goes unpicked can return to school within 72 hours of the draft’s conclusion if he hasn’t signed with an agent. In college hockey and baseball, players can even return to school after being drafted (which happens after high school or their junior year) because they don’t declare early; all players except freshmen and sophomores are eligible to be drafted.

The loophole that college baseball and hockey players have used in order to maintain their eligibility and keep the option of returning to school open is using agents only as “advisors” who they pay at their going rates for their services as opposed to signing a contract. Case in point: Baseball super agent Scott Boras is an “advisor” to many high school and college baseball players with the idea he will become their agent once they turn pro.

Because football players who get selected in the NFL draft must leave school, a market has never really developed for college football “advisors.” But with around 30% of early entries going undrafted the last two years, it’s clear those with late-round grades would be wise to choose this route instead.

Weber’s post is from 2013.  The NCAA provision he links to has been on the books in one form or fashion since 2002.  Really.

In football, an enrolled student-athlete (as opposed to a prospective student-athlete) may enter the National Football League draft one time during his collegiate career without jeopardizing eligibility in that sport, provided the student-athlete is not drafted by any team in that league and the student-athlete declares his intention to resume intercollegiate participation within 72 hours following the National Football League draft declaration date.  The student-athlete’s declaration of intent shall be in writing to the institution’s director of athletics.  (Adopted: 10/31/02, Revised: 4/14/03, 12/15/06)

How many kids take advantage of that rule?  Hell, how many of ’em know about the rule?  Weber suggests one reason few, if any, do is because undergrads sign with agents before the draft, instead of merely seeking advisory assistance, and I have no doubt that’s just how agents like it.

But what’s the schools’ excuse?  What about Scarbinsky’s noble sentiment?  Someone more cynical than me might suggest the current format makes it easier for coaches to scare student-athletes into staying by painting a decision to leave early as an one-way ticket with no return, whereas if college players chose to follow the guidelines the NCAA laid down and preserve a right to return, then they would have a much safer means of testing the waters.  Which might very well make it tempting for more kids to test the waters than we already see doing so.  Again, that would be something coming from someone more cynical than me.  Me?  I’m just sayin’.

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Filed under College Football, The NCAA, The NFL Is Your Friend.

Making bank.

Now here’s a chart to hit recruits over the head with.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NFL Is Your Friend.

Nice pipeline you got there.

I don’t know if you’ve been following Jon Solomon’s series about which schools over the last decade have generated the most talent by position group that’s succeeded on the next level (I linked to his piece on the defensive line, which had Georgia at #1).  Here’s his final tally:

There’s only one national championship in the bunch, and even that one (Texas) is a bit of a stretch in that the game was played in January, 2006.

While it’s certainly attractive for schools to boast of their prowess in getting their kids to excel in the NFL, as a gauge of ultimate success for college programs, it’s not exactly the strongest metric.

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Filed under The NFL Is Your Friend.

“There is always a sense of urgency to get them up to speed.”

The NFL draft approacheth, so you know what that means: the whining about the spread will continue until the morale improves.

So, you have a quarterback who played in the spread and never took a snap at the line of scrimmage. And receivers who don’t understand route trees.

Not to mention linebackers who rarely played in tight quarters. And blockers who have not gotten into a three-point stance since high school. Or junior high.

Now turn them loose in the NFL? Good luck.

The way the spread offense has taken over college football has made the NFL draft even more of a crapshoot. In the past, pro scouts had seen college prospects perform in something similar to the NFL. Nowadays, other than rarities such as Stanford’s offense or Alabama’s defense, few schools are using formations or styles similar to what the players will face in the NFL…

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman notes how difficult it is “to teach them how to get into a three-point stance, how to run block’ because of the restrictions on practice time under the labor agreement.

Giants OL coach Mike Solari adds there is “a tremendous learning curve as far as technique and fundamentals for young offensive linemen coming into the NFL. There is always a sense of urgency to get them up to speed.”

I guess you guys will just have to work harder.  Cry me a river.

Some of this is interesting.

As more college coaches have gone with the spread, certain positions have morphed. Tight ends either are blockers or quasi-wideouts; rarely handling both duties as they may have to in the NFL. Fullbacks are almost nonexistent. Linemen just backpedal and pass block.

Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry is seen as a high pick because he blocked and ran routes in a pro system. Michigan State tackle Jack Conklin also showed he can run block and pass block, moving him ahead of some spread players.

Patriots player personnel director Nick Caserio notes that some teams “throw the ball 75 times a game, and they’ve never run blocked in their entire life.”

But defensive backs have prospered from the proliferation of wide-open offenses.

“The ball is in the air more, they are learning to tackle out more in the open grass,” Savage says. “It is a tough job for those college DBs, playing against three and four receivers every snap. Colleges run two receivers deep on one side, they exit the field and two fresh receivers are basically doing the same thing on the next play. The DB is the same guy. He’s learning from that.”

In the end, though, it always seems to come back to Nick Saban.

 

“I would say overall, you can’t grade schools, you have to grade individual prospects,” Savage says. “But when you go to Iowa or Alabama or Stanford, when scouts are watching the tapes, they are at least seeing what the players will be asked to do at the NFL level.”

“… I have always theorized the prospects that come out of some of these ‘NFL-like programs’ are probably getting half a round of elevation of grade in the draft. Because when that scout walks out of that school, he can better project what this player can do than for some other players who don’t have that background.”

If you don’t think Alabama’s selling that quote on the recruiting trail, you’re crazy.

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Filed under Strategery And Mechanics, The NFL Is Your Friend.