Friday new$ and note$

Pro Bowl whisper crews

It’s Pro Bowl week, a week that evokes memories of dealing with players returning to the mainland with fresh opinions and demands from their trip to the islands.

The Pro Bowl is a unique gathering of A-list players in the NFL, meaning there are plenty of agents, advisers, enablers and hangers-on around them. The “whisper crews”, as I call them, are in players’ ears about how their team is not treating them right, how they are underpaid, how their agent should be fired based on his lack of aggressiveness in pursuing a better contract, better treatment, etc.

The ringleaders of the whisper crews are usually competing agents, using the trip as a productive way to spend time amidst the cream of the crop of NFL stars, many poised to cash in significantly in the coming weeks, months or years.

Drew Rosenhaus is an omnipresent sight there -- at the players’ hotel, in the lobby, at the pool, in their rooms, wherever. Both enterprising and extremely likeable to players, Drew finds a way to visit with Pro Bowl participants who may be potential targets for future representation. Drew always has clients in the game who echo his message in hopes of converting the unenlightened about his talents, among them in the past the tag team of Chad Ochocinco (Johnson?) and Terrell Owens.

In different years in Green Bay, I experienced the post-Pro Bowl dissatisfaction from players such Javon Walker and Mike McKenzie (who wasn’t playing in the game but was out there), both of whom switched agents to Drew and requested new contracts and/or trades away from the Packers.

There is a rule of negotiating that is paramount to me: never underestimate the power of ego and insecurity. Pro Bowl week played on the egos and insecurities of countless players and made for some difficult conversations after their return to the mainland. Teams around the league will be dreading – and getting -- those calls next week.

Pro Bowl/Super Bowl pay

Each player on the winning team will receive $45,000 for his week in Hawaii. Each player on the losing team will receive $22,500. That may spur some heightened effort in the fourth quarter of the game.

Over in Dallas, where another big football game is going to be played next week, each player on the winning team will receive $83,000. Each player on the losing team will receive $42,000. It does seem odd that a losing member of a Super Bowl team receives less than a winning member of a Pro Bowl team, a game acknowledged to be a laid back affair with limited effort.

As to total compensation for the Packers or the Steelers, the Packers are the winners in terms of playoff pay due to the fact they played an additional game over the Steelers. Not having a bye, the Packers each earned $19,000 for their win over the Eagles in the Wild Card round while the Steelers were not paid for that week.

Thus, if the Packers win the Super Bowl, their cumulative postseason pay would be $161,000 per player as follows:

Win over Eagles: $19,000
Win over Falcons: $21,000
Win over Bears: $38,000
Win over Steelers: $83,000

If the Steelers win the Super Bowl, their cumulative postseason pay would be $142,000 per player as follows:

Win over Ravens: $21,000
Win over Jets: $38,000
Win over Packers: $83,000

"Photogate" and no Salary Cap

As to the now-resolved “Photogate” issue with the Packers, there is a side to it that may be causally related to the NFL labor negotiation.

To review, the Packers initially decided that their large injured reserve list – 16 in all – would not be part of Tuesday’s team picture at the Super Bowl, with the injured players would arrive on Thursday. With immediate and unanimously disapproving public opinion – perhaps not since the Favre divorce had the public outcry been as large – the Packers took the sensible approach and delayed the picture until next Friday when all players could attend.

Not all players on reserve/injured are created equal. Some are requested by management to stay around the team, go to meetings and be a part of the team. Some, for whom their future with the team is insecure, are allowed (and some encouraged) to leave the team’s facility and rehabilitate elsewhere. Many of the 16 players on the Packers’ list were not even living in Green Bay.

The striking issue to me was the sheer amount of players on injured reserve. In my nine years there, we were hit hard by injury but never put that many players down. And, of course, all charges for these players count on the Cap. But with no Salary Cap in place in the NFL in 2010, teams could liberally add charges to their injured reserve list, which may have happened here. Here are a few of the charges of players on IR this season (their 2010 salary and bonuses, in millions):

Ryan Grant: 6
Nick Barnett: 4.55
Mark Tauscher: 3.8
Brandon Chillar: 2.5
Brady Poppinga: 2.4
Mike Neal: 1.48

Morgan Burnett: 1.2
Justin Harrell: 1.07
Derrick Martin 1.03

Without a Cap to restrict the amount of money piled up by placing players on the reserve/injured list – there is the charge of paying the player and the charge of replacing him with another player on the active roster –the Packers could add more players to the list than in a normal Cap year.

Just a thought to add to the now-resolved panic over the Packers team picture at the Super Bowl.

Follow me on Twitter at adbrandt.

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