Vick decision came from the top

The long wait is over. Michael Vick has agreed to terms on a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles which, assuming he passes a physical today, he will sign before participating in all team activities starting Saturday. Here are a few questions I’m getting in my email and my answers:

As a consultant with the Eagles the past several months, did you negotiate this deal?

I did not. This was a matter handled at the highest levels of the organization (which certainly did not include the consultant) – ownership, head coach/general manager and team president. As I wrote in a general piece on the potential signing of Vick, it was an organizational decision that needed buy-in from the top of the franchise on down, from ownership to personnel to coaching to contract management to community and public relations.

In the case of the Eagles, having the same person, Andy Reid, hold the titles of head coach and general manager allowed for a more streamlined decision to take place. Of course, this was only possible after ownership bought into the concept of having Vick represent the Eagles. The Luries gave their consent, and the process was set in motion.

Are you surprised by this?

Not really. Andy Reid is an offensive coach at heart; offensive coaches like to have weapons. The more, the merrier. The dream of every offensive coordinator and coach is to have multiple ways of attacking defenses to keep defensive coordinators from focusing on one or two options. The Eagles’ offense now is one that will keep defensive coaches working late into the nights the week before they play the Eagles.

After solidifying the offensive line in free agency with pieces like Stacy Andrews and Jason Peters, Reid was able to draft a couple of nice weapons in LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin. Having been actively involved in the deals of these four players, I knew how important they would be in the present and future of the team.

Now comes another piece, one that has the potential to be as fancy as any out there. Vick is an electrifying talent; there’s no debate there. It will be interesting to see what he’ll eventually bring to an offense that can be an offensive coordinator’s dream. Lots of toys to play with.

What do you think of this signing beyond its impact on the field?

A couple of things. First, I believe there was no greater favor Commissioner Roger Goodell could have done for Vick than “assign” Tony Dungy to be his mentor and liaison with potential NFL employers. Dungy has the utmost respect among coaches and management in the NFL, Andy Reid included. Without the endorsement and approval of Dungy, I’m not sure the Eagles or anyone else signs Vick as easily. Whatever words or actions Vick has said or shown to him, Dungy has come away a believer. That was good enough for Reid.

On the other side of the fence, however, I learned long ago that it really doesn’t matter what people say; it only matters what they do. Vick has clearly said the right things, to the commissioner, Dungy, Reid and others. Now he has to do the right things.

The part that always concerned me was not Vick but what I always refer to as the “herd” that surrounds him, a large group that includes friends, family and other enablers. It is this crew that seems to always be there for Vick to tell him what he wants to hear rather than what he needs to hear. Vick even admits in his “60 Minutes” interview, to be televised Sunday, that he should have taken more control of what was going on around him with his friends and dogfighting. Hopefully, Dungy – and now Donovan McNabb and other Eagles – will offset the enabling herd. That will be something to watch.

What kind of contract did Vick sign?

I can’t comment directly on the contract, but I know that risk management is very important to the Eagles and all teams that considered signing Vick.

It has been reported that Vick signed a deal for this season with a club option for next year. In order to have Vick under contract for 2010, a potential uncapped year with a year under his belt to prove to the league that any lingering character questions have subsided, the Eagles had to provide some upside in the form of bonus money going into the uncapped year. That, however, is 2010.

In 2009, the Eagles certainly protected themselves from giving Vick at-risk money in the form of guarantees. With the reported amount being $1.6 million, that amount suggests a $100,000 sum for every game played by Vick. The key is that Vick must be on the roster to make that money. Thus, all of the money paid to Vick this year will be “earned,” not given to him simply for signing his name.

The Eagles likely have a play-for-performance method of compensation in exchange for some potential upside in 2010. That represents a win for the Eagles in the short term and a potential win for agent Joel Segal and Vick next year, as the amount of the option is likely large enough to cause the Eagles to think twice about keeping Vick for a limited role.

In other words, Vick and Segal can reasonably conclude that they’ll be well compensated in 2010 for a solid performance in 2009, whether by the Eagles or another team as a free agent.

What does this mean for McNabb?

Nothing, other than he has another talent playing alongside him. The Eagles did not invest $6 million of no-strings-attached money in McNabb to have him in any kind of reduced role. McNabb remains the focal point of the Eagles. Vick is a new item added to the shopping cart.

Negotiating an injury settlement

Agents don’t get a lot of calls from their clients during the first half of camp, but when they do it’s usually bad news. In most cases, it’s about an injury.

When a good vet gets injured, the team goes the extra mile to do everything possible to get him back and ready. It will save him a roster spot and wait until he recovers. If it’s very bad, it will place him on the PUP (physically unable to perform) Reserve list in hopes of getting him back by Week 7 of the regular season, the first week that PUP reserved players either have to be moved to the 53-man roster, released or put on injured reserve (IR).

If you’re an undrafted free agent, a late-round draft pick or a street free agent, you may get treated a lot differently. It’s the difference between flying first class and coach (and getting the middle seat).

For players who go on IR, it’s pretty cut and dried. They’re lost to that team for the season. However, if they’re released at some point after being placed on IR, it’s because, in the team’s opinion, they’re healthy enough to play and are then free to sign with another team.

THE INJURY SETTLEMENT

One of the most important roles of an agent is to shine when his client gets hurt during camp, especially if he’s a down-the-line player who’s already a long shot to make the team. When a player in this category suffers a serious injury (out for six weeks or more), the team wants to part ways quickly and wash its hands of the liability.

When a team calls an agent and says it wants to do an “injury settlement,” that means the agent and either the GM or salary-cap manager have to come up with a time frame they think would be equivalent to the duration of the player’s injury. This process is greatly flawed because you have two non-medical professionals trying to forecast the healing time of an injury based on the team doctor’s prognosis. It’s the agent’s job to tell the team that the player would like a second opinion. Teams must agree to a second opinion but don’t always like it because 80 percent of the time the second doctor forecasts a much longer recovery.

Once both doctors’ opinions are in, a negotiation for the injury settlement begins. If the team doctor thinks the player will be fully recovered in six weeks and the second-opinion doctor says 10 weeks, both parties may agree on an eight-week settlement. So if a player was hurt on Aug. 15, he would be paid as if he was on the roster until Week 4 of the regular season. He’s then paid for four preseason games and four-sixteenths of what his salary would have been for that season.

These are not always simple negotiations. Sometimes, the spread in medical opinions can be as much as 10 weeks to three months. I have an internal policy not to attempt an injury settlement if there’s a prognosis of 10 weeks or more. I would prefer to put the responsibility on the team to carry the player on IR until it can either prove the player is healthy or the player tells me he’s healthy enough to play. I basically don’t want to play doctor and try to predict recovery times. When I tried it as a younger agent, I was wrong 60 percent of the time.

These negotiations can also become testy at times. When a team has an injured player it brought in strictly as a camp guy, it hates being stuck with the liability of rehabbing the player and paying him a contract. It will aggressively pursue a short injury settlement. Additionally, some teams will even pressure the agent into taking an inferior deal with threats of “We’ll never sign another one of your players again if you don’t take this deal.”

In 2000, I represented a seventh-round pick who suffered a concussion during the second week of camp. Three days later, the NFC West division team threw him back into practice, and he suffered another concussion. Seven days after that, he went back into live action and suffered a third concussion. Although the player knew he never should have returned to practice, he felt he was under pressure to show the coaches he was worthy of making the team.

After a second opinion, I asked the GM (who’s now out of the league) to place my client on IR for the year for his own good. He would also earn his full salary, which, although important, wasn’t the reason I wanted him moved to IR. The GM had another opinion. He told me that my client was faking the injuries, was conning the team and the doctors, and he was going to cut him without any consideration of pay.

I then told the GM that if he did that, I would file a grievance with the NFL Players Association and hold the team accountable for my client’s injury and salary. He began screaming at me that I was in on the “scam” and that if I did file a grievance he would never sign or draft one of my players again. All I could really do was laugh and tell him that I had to follow protocol, not play doctor, and do what was in the best interests of my client.

We eventually had several other medical specialists confirm the concussions and won the grievance for my client’s full salary. The player retired, and the team drafted another of my clients two years later. Business as usual.

Many agents who take inferior injury settlements wind up getting fired when the recovery time is much longer than the settlement time. A seasoned agent will always proceed based on a worst-case scenario for his client. I just hope I don’t have to negotiate any this year.

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Wednesday whys: Dealing with White’s contract

Why is the Roddy White contract about more than Roddy White?

Situations like these – with players flexing muscles about their contracts and the market passing them by — are out there for every team in the NFL. If a team says it has no such problems, it’s lying. From a front office and management perspective, the importance of these issues is that whatever decision is made, it affects the entire team, not just the player who is being addressed.

White’s value and talent are not the issue, nor is the fact he had outplayed his rookie contract paying him $2.28 million this year and had elevated his game to the top echelon of receivers. The difficult part for the Falcons and their precedent was that White had not reported to training camp and exhibited behavior – a nine-day holdout from an existing contract — that was not in the best interests of the team. That behavior ultimately led to the negotiation of one of the strongest contracts ever for a wide receiver.

The Falcons now have to deal with the team beyond White. What’s to prevent their other top players from withholding their services in order to gain a financial advantage? Certainly, they can always try to distinguish White as different, as White’s agent successfully argued, but that argument may fall on deaf ears of players looking for upgrades.

Contract holdouts and leverage plays are not about just the player; they’re about the team. Everyone in the locker room is watching and waiting to see how management reacts. Their response will determine whether there’s a line at the door of the front office for similar treatment.

Why won’t the Houston Texans agree not to place the franchise tag on Dunta Robinson in order to get him to sign his contract?

This echoes the question above as the Texans have realized that how they approach Robinson is a template for how they deal with players in this situation.

Robinson and his agents would gladly agree to him signing a franchise tender and coming to training camp if the Texans would agree to language that agrees to not place the franchise tag on him again in 2010, which, as we sit here today, is a year without a salary cap. This is an allowance that was made to players such as Albert Haynesworth by the Titans and Assante Samuel by the Patriots, moves made to bring them into camp with a quid pro quo of this memorialized promise.

The Texans have said no – rightly, in my view. Their remarks have reflected that this is a decision not about Robinson but about all future franchise players or potential franchise players on the team. Once precedent is set, agents and players smell the blood in the water and want the same for themselves.

Now Robinson will probably sit at home until the real paychecks start the week the season opens, where he will make one-seventeenth of his $9.96M ($586,000) every week compared to his $2,000 a week during training camp. The Texans have made their decision and will live with his absence through these dog days of August.

Why was White a “holdout,” while the unsigned draft picks and franchise players were not really “holdouts”?

White was under contract and in breach of that contract by not reporting to training camp. He was subject to daily fines of approximately $17,000 and potentially other discipline depending on how long his holdout lasted.

The rookies – as well as franchise players such as Dunta Robinson – are unsigned players and therefore not “holding out” from any existing contract. They are simply players for whom the teams hold rights but do not have binding contracts. Thus the distinction.

And my Pet Peeve Why of the Week…

Why are questions even asked of coaches, players and executives about how their teams will do this season?

What do media and fans expect them to say? Is it news that they think their teams will do well? It will be news when a coach or player says, “I don’t think we’ll win much this year, but hey, there’s always 2010!”

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Don’t expect Crabtree to sit out season

I think we can chill on the hysteria about Michael Crabtree holding out the entire season and forgoing his chance to play with the 49ers. We at the National Football Post are not going to be pulling out the scouting reports on Crabtree that were done for the 2009 NFL Draft and recycle them for the 2010 draft. Despite reports to the contrary, rumors of Crabtree spending the season watching, rather than playing in, the NFL are greatly exaggerated.

The situation appears to be one in which “herd” has entered the public debate. Having dealt with professional football players for 20 years from both the agent side and the team side, I have always worried about the herd – also known as the “whisper crew,” “posse,” “enable table” and other names – that surrounds players. The herd can include, although is not limited to parents, friends, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, advisers, spiritual advisers, high school coaches, college coaches, AAU coaches, girlfriends, wives, girlfriends of wives, neighbors, godparents, surrogate parents, life coaches, etc. It’s one thing for an agent and/or a team to deal with a player; it’s quite another to deal with the herd.

Now a member of the Crabtree crew has surfaced in a very public way. When asked about the contract negotiations between Crabtree and the 49ers, a fellow named David Wells – not the former pitcher, although just as outspoken – somehow had a forum with ESPN to give his take on the possibility of Crabtree holding out the entire season:

“We are prepared to do it,” Wells was quoted as saying. “Michael just wants fair market value. They took him with the 10th pick and you have Darrius Heyward-Bey getting $38 million? Michael was one of the best players in the draft and he just wants to be paid like one of the best players.”

Mr. Wells, consider the clock ticking on your 15 minutes of fame. Wells appears to be the epitome of the whisper crew/herd I’ve been speaking about: He’s Crabtree’s cousin (we think) and (self-proclaimed) adviser. Sure he is. Too bad Crabtree isn’t Wells’ self-proclaimed advisee.

My first thought after reading this was that Eugene Parker, Crabtree’s agent, must have had steam coming out of his ears. Parker, who is actively engaged in negotiations with the 49ers, is as professional an agent as there is in the business. Having done a dozen deals with him over the years, including the Jason Peters deal this year, there is no agent who serves his clients as well as Eugene in understanding the sensitive process of negotiating of player contracts. Parker would never say anything to the media that was the least bit inflammatory, and certainly not in the midst of negotiations. Now he has to deal with damage control with the media, the 49ers and the Crabtree herd to put the negotiations back on track.

The 49ers have wisely avoided comment. There is nothing to be gained by responding to a member of Crabtree’s crew, as there may be more of them who may also want a forum in the future.

None of this is to say the negotiations on this contract will end any time soon. Parker is going to push the envelope on this deal to try to nudge as close as possible to Heyward-Bey, and it appears that Crabtree has no problem missing training camp. Indeed, with these negotiations quickly gaining a reputation in the industry as producing a contract that will be a strong deal for the player, the picks surrounding this one – B.J. Raji with the Packers and Aaron Maybin with the Bills among them – are clearly waiting to see the “Crabtree market” before closing their deals (Maybin’s agent has told people this strategy). They may be waiting a while, and it will be up to the players to determine how long is too long.

How long with this one go? The answer will not be in the next day or so, nor will it be the entire season, as the “adviser” suggests. My best guess is that Crabtree reports for labor on Labor Day. Stay tuned.

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Rev. Jackson misses the mark on Vick

When I wrote my thoughts about the Michael Vick situation last month, I initially said, “If the NFL doesn’t reinstate Vick, Roger Goodell will have the Reverends Jackson and Sharpton at his doorstep.” That portion of my post was removed because it was felt I might be wading into controversial waters discussing race with regard to Vick.

Well, lo and behold, the Rev. Jesse Jackson has weighed in on the matter. In comments published Friday in the New York Times, Jackson claims that collusion may exist among NFL owners to collectively preclude Vick from being signed to a team.

“I want to make it an issue,” Jackson told the Times. “I want teams to explain why they have a quarterback who has less skills but is playing or at least is on the taxi squad, and a guy with more skills can’t get into training camp.”

I love the Reverend. I actually think he would’ve made a great football coach. He can motivate with the best of them, and he’s a charismatic, born leader.

But sorry, Mr. Jackson, I promise you that 32 owners did not meet secretly for the purpose of putting Michael Vick out of business. If they had wanted to, they would have told Commissioner Goodell to suspend him for a year, or to even ban him for life. But there was not a conference call on secret NFL phones, nor was there a mafia-like meeting at the St. Regis Hotel in Laguna Beach last March led by Arthur Blank. It just doesn’t work that way.

As I wrote previously, I believe Vick should be able to work again in the NFL. As an agent, I work for players and protect them from anyone, including owners, who wants to take advantage or mistreat them in some way. So I commend Rev. Jackson for coming to Vick’s aid. But he’s playing the wrong card. The collusion card isn’t appropriate in this case. What does Chargers owner Dean Spanos care if Al Davis decides to sign Vick? He doesn’t. Not to mention that more liberal owners like Blank, Jeffrey Laurie, Steve Bisciotti and Denise DeBartolo York wouldn’t stand for such an action and would have no part in it. Additionally, the repercussions of such an action are not worth the legal risk to the league. As a matter of fact, it would be good theater to have Michael come back because it would boost TV ratings and possibly ticket sales, depending on what team signed him.

So I have to disagree with coach Jackson on this one. Playing the collusion card is offensive to the owners and a farfetched notion. I do believe some owners want no part of Vick, but I also know for a fact that some teams are discussing his possible role with them. Even Michael’s agent, Joel Segal, would probably disagree with Jackson on the collusion theory. My guess is that we’ll see him under contract before Week 4 of the regular season.

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Behind the Eli Manning deal

My last, and unfortunately lasting, memory of my time in Green Bay was Eli Manning and the Giants outplaying the favored Packers in “Packer weather” that can charitably be described as brutal in the NFC Championship game, then advancing to the Super Bowl, where they would go on to shock the undefeated Patriots.

The Giants won those games due to a synergistic defensive scheme that applied constant pressure and an efficient offense run and led by Manning. I was skeptical about Manning – and may still be – but when he came into Lambeau in subzero weather and played that way in that big a moment, I became a fan.

And so did the Giants. Now there are reports that the Giants and Manning have agreed to a contract extension for six years and $97.5 million, with $35 million guaranteed. Having talked with the parties involved last night, it’s important to point out that the deal is not done yet. It has not been completed and has not been submitted to the NFL for review. So all the numbers being bandied about are based on rumor and speculation. The National Football Post will have accurate numbers soon.

Assuming an extension is worked out, my strong sense is that Eli earned that extension primarily during a five-week stretch from the end of December 2007 to the beginning of February 2008. Once he led the Giants through those five games with a poise, efficiency and leadership reserved usually for the top echelon at the position, including his older brother Peyton, the die was cast. Eli, with two years remaining on his rookie contract at the time, was going to get paid. The only questions were when and how much.

As to the when, I understand why the Giants waited a year, but I can also understand if they regret waiting. I believe they waited because Manning had ultimate leverage with the Super Bowl run fresh in everyone’s mind and the glow of the playoffs upon him. The Giants felt no rush to extend Eli in his highly leveraged position, figuring they might as well wait and see if his performance continued past the Super Bowl radiance. He also had two years left on his contract, so the team had an opportunity to receive good value from that (relatively) reasonable deal he signed as a rookie.

As to why the Giants may have regretted waiting, the market – as it always does – went north last year. Deals for less-accomplished players such as David Garrard, Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Cassel raised the bar for all quarterbacks. Manning’s agent, Tom Condon, must have felt great comfort watching players such as these average $10M with $20M guaranteed, as he was representing a player with a much stronger resume. Now we’re about to see how much more the market can bear.

Another factor in the negotiation comparables has to be Matthew Stafford, conveniently also a client of Condon. Stafford’s $12M average and $41.7M guaranteed has been much discussed as an aberration, an atrocity and an abomination, but it is fact. When we hear that veteran players are upset about rookie contracts such as these, there are some veterans who are not upset at all – Eli and Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler. Believe me, the Stafford contract is and will be Exhibit A in all of these negotiations.

Much is being made of Eli Manning’s passer rating, indifferent style, etc., in arguing that he’s not worthy of this contract. It’s likely the Giants never even brought that up. The fact is that he was entering the last year of his contract entering a year without a salary cap, the market had been set with lesser players, and the Giants wanted to secure him for the future. With these facts on the table, and with Matt Cassel recently receiving a “functional guarantee” of $35M from Kansas City, this contract is what can be expected.

The Colts allowed Eli’s brother Peyton to play out his contract before dealing with tense deadline negotiations prior to signing him to a $99M contract with a record $34.5M bonus (that amount in 2004 is still astounding). The Giants have chosen an alternate course with the younger Manning, avoiding the franchise tag scenario as we enter a potentially uncapped year where all bets may be off the table in terms of what could happen.

Again, we will have the true numbers of this contract when they come out. For the moment, Eli is in the last year of his contract making a nice sum of $9.4 million. That amount is about to change — and change radically. Eli’s coming…

Wednesday whys: Contract complications

Why did it take so long for the Eagles and Jeremy Maclin to come to an agreement?

I can’t shake that question right now, although in time it will be a distant memory. Having worked on the contract over the past few weeks, I have to respect the confidentiality of the deal and be sensitive to the process that was just completed.

What I can say is the same thing I’ve written many times, that there is much more to these contracts than simply filling in numbers. Certainly, the amount of all the different type of bonuses – option, signing, roster, reporting, performance, etc. – are all obvious subjects of negotiation but only part of what is being negotiated. The other parts of the negotiation – structure, payout, upside, downside, backside, cash flow, etc. – are just as important and try to address the sticky subject of risk and who assumes it: downside risk to the team if the player turns out to be below expectations or even a “bust,” or upside risk to the player if he turns out to be a superstar.

No one can predict the future (if we could, we wouldn’t have Las Vegas). Thus, negotiating a contract is trying to best approximate what might happen with a player and a team with a changing marketplace and a variety of potential outcomes. The hard money in the contract is a function of the marketplace; in the case of the draft, it’s a fairly well defined marketplace.

Often, negotiations bog down not because of money but because of other things. When I negotiated the contract of Aaron Rodgers – the 25th pick in the 2005 NFL Draft – the discussion about the amount of money in the deal took less than an hour. The discussion about the escalator in the fifth year of the contract – a year that was never reached because the contract was renegotiated last year – took over 50 hours.

Rodgers’ agent and I vigorously debated the amount and timing of escalator money in the contract based on Rodgers’ performance. The wild card in the negotiation, of course, was trying to determine when Brett Favre would retire, something we’ve been trying to determine for years (and perhaps still are).

With the Maclin deal, there were a lot of moving parts on the money and the structure issues of the contract, with deals around us that were not consistent in all areas, making the “fitting in” aspect of the negotiation not as easy as it sounds. Once we were able to figure out premiums, discounts, approximate values of different escalators, structures, payouts, etc., we moved forward with a deal — with some twists and turns thrown in along the way (for a while, I wondered if I were negotiating a football contract or the Mideast Peace Treaty).

I’ll have more on Maclin at the appropriate time. Know that every time I see him make a catch, I’ll think of these past two weeks and the slow march toward execution (of the contract, that is).

Why was Percy Harvin’s contract with the Vikings initially disapproved by the NFL before being approved?

My initial thought, which was confirmed by someone close to the negotiations, was that there was a slight miscalculation of the rookie pool number for the Vikings. Harvin’s signing bonus was a bit high for the cap number that the team was left with after signing the rest of its rookies and had to be adjusted.

After bringing their signing bonus down approximately $20,000 and reallocating that amount to their one-time incentive in the deal, the contract now fits snugly against the Vikings’ rookie pool number and has been approved.

Most teams take their contracts right up to the brink of their rookie pool number since there’s no advantage gained by not doing so, and every now and then, there’s an unintended overage that needs to be addressed. In this case, the correction was simple, although Harvin is $20,000 lighter in the wallet in this year’s cash flow.

Why is this the worst time of year for team front offices?

One word and one word only: injuries. Players whom teams have counted on since the offseason started in March, and players whom teams had no reason to think of replacing or supplementing with other quality players, are now lost for the year.

The season-ending injury problem in the first week of training camp is something that has happened for years and is happening again this year. Reggie Kelly of the Bengals, Stewart Bradley of the Eagles and Ma’ake Kemoeatu of the Panthers (a player I remember chasing in free agency a few years ago before being outbid by Carolina) have all suffered season-ending injuries that have altered their teams’ plans. And it is certain there will be more. The teams will recover and move on with replacements, either on the team or through acquisitions, but the suddenness and finality of these injuries – these players must now prepare for 2010 – is striking.

Playing 16-, 17-, 18- or 10-game seasons will not alter the reality of these injuries. The ACL, the torn Achilles, etc., are going to happen, and they often happen in the first few days of live hitting, something that can’t be simulated in the offseason, or at least if the NFL Players Association has anything to say about it.

The good teams recover quickly and move ahead. In many ways, these injuries are more impactful than retirements, as teams losing players to retirement can groom replacements more easily than a sudden loss to an injury. The only possible silver lining is the timing, since there are still a full 40 days to get the replacements ready.

For players, coaches and front offices in pro football, injuries are the bane of their existence. But they happen — a lot. This is not a contact sport; it’s a collision sport.

Why is it not surprising that Plaxico Burress was indicted?

There were a lot of factors working against Burress in this case, some of them (pardon the choice of words) self-inflicted.

The Manhattan District Attorney, Robert Morgenthau, and the Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, were not shy in expressing the importance of treating Burress with the full force and effect of the law (something Burress’ attorney will continue to note). It was against this backdrop that the grand jury heard the case, listened to Burress and decided to indict.

Besides, New York juries, or grand juries, are probably not the type to be swayed by celebrity, as is the case in other parts of the country (L.A. perhaps?). Burress’ name recognition might have helped him throughout his career, but it was of no help here.

As to the self-inflicted part, Burress, in my view, wasted an opportunity to help himself with the grand jury. Instead of explaining the incident and any defense of the gun charges that were alleged, he simply apologized and expressed deep regret for his actions. Huh? That’s what he should do at a sentencing hearing, not as the basis of his testimony to a group of people deciding whether he should stand trial.

The curious case of Plaxico Burress continues.

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NFL’s workout warriors

Being an agent gives one a front row seat to how NFL players take care of themselves and train in the offseason. Over the years, I’ve observed some workout warriors at the peak of their careers. I also get to observe patterns between those who push themselves in the spring and summer, and those who don’t.

In my 20s and 30s, I actually used to work out with a few of my clients. It wasn’t always fun running sprints with WR/returner Tim Dwight (embarrassing), but I did like benching with Pats OL Todd Rucci (an ego boost). Now in my 40’s, I stick to the 24-hour treadmill and stay far away from the boys.

I noticed that players who limited themselves to their teams’ offseason programs had shorter careers and were injured frequently. Those who worked out four to six days a week with little rest after the season – players like the NFP’s own Matt Bowen — played much longer and stayed healthier.

Two of the clients I currently represent have been doing the same workout together since they were in high school. They take a few weeks off after he season to unwind and then gradually work back into their proven routine. Packers CB Al Harris and Steelers safety Tyrone Carter are 34 and 33 years old, respectively. However, Al is coming off his second consecutive Pro Bowl, and Tyrone had five picks, six pass deflections and one touchdown last season – as the third corner. Not only do these guys continue to be productive, they’re also iron men. Al has missed only four games in his career going back to high school. Tyrone hasn’t missed too many, either.

So I asked these guys to tape some of their workouts because I want to see what keeps them in shape and where their fountain of youth comes from.

Darrell Green, my former teammate and a Hall of Famer cornerback, played in the NFL for 20 years. He was also one of the league’s hardest working guys in the offseason. The one common denominator among long careers is a work ethic. The offseason workout warriors will almost always have longer, healthier careers. So let’s take a look at what’s happening in Pompano Beach, Fla., in steamy July.

Here you go: