Posts Tagged ‘Football’

NFL Players Association PAC backs ex-players in House races

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The NFL Players Association's political action committee has begun dolling out donations for the midterm elections — including offering $5,000 each to two ex-players running for Congress from both parties.

The group known as NFLPA One Team PAC gave $5,000 to former Cowboys linebacker Colin Allred, a Democrat facing Republican U.S.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The NFL Players Association’s political action committee has begun dolling out donations for the midterm elections — including offering $5,000 each to two ex-players running for Congress from both parties.

The group known as NFLPA One Team PAC gave $5,000 to former Cowboys linebacker Colin Allred, a Democrat facing Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions in Dallas.

It did the same for Anthony Gonzalez, an ex-Indianapolis Colts receiver and Republican running for a seat being vacated by Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Renacci.

The group gave $27,700 total in six House and Senate races. Four Republicans got $17,700 and two Democrats received $10,000.

Republican Rep. Will Hurd of Texas also got $5,000, as did House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell received $2,700.

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Can the Raiders take down the Chargers this Sunday?

Derek Carr

In Week 7 of the NFL season, the Oakland Raiders travel to San Diego to take on the Chargers in the latest installment of this AFC West battle. In terms of record, little separates the two squads in 2015. In terms of expectations though, there seems to be a rather large gulf building

In Week 7 of the NFL season, the Oakland Raiders travel to San Diego to take on the Chargers in the latest installment of this AFC West battle. In terms of record, little separates the two squads in 2015. In terms of expectations though, there seems to be a rather large gulf building between Oakland and San Diego.

The Chargers have been an AFC playoff contender for years now. Over the past decade, they have finished above .500 a remarkable eight times, never finishing with a record worse than 7-9. Not since the Drew Brees era in 2003 have the Chargers won fewer than seven games in a season. That run has brought with it six playoff berths, a trip to the conference title and six major award winners, the most important being LaDainian Tomlinson’s 2006 NFL MVP.

Over that same time span, the Raiders have finished above .500 zero times, made the playoffs zero times and won a major award zero times. Not since a Super Bowl loss way back in 2002 have the Raiders found any type of success on the field. The team is also just 1-6 in its last seven matchups against the Chargers, with the lone win coming at home in Week 5 of the 2013 season with Terrelle Pryor playing quarterback.

This dichotomy within the AFC West brought with it obvious expectations for each squad. San Diego is expected to be pretty good every year while Oakland has nothing much expected of it at all. That’s what makes the 2015 matchup so intriguing. The tides appear to be shifting in Oakland’s favor.

With two wins apiece, both squads trail first-place Denver by a considerable margin not even halfway through the 2015 season. But one team’s 2-3 record (Oakland) looks much better than the other’s 2-4 record (San Diego). Gambling win total over-unders don’t capture the entire picture of a team’s outlook preseason, but they give a pretty good representation of how the public feels about each team. Prior to the year, these two teams’ over-unders were placed at 5.5 games (Raiders) and 8.0 games (Chargers) respectively. Now it becomes clearer why two similar records mean different things.

Digging deeper, Oakland has had the better defense and has the superior point differential heading into Week 7. San Diego has yet to play a divisional game but is winless on the road and has the fourth-worst differential in the conference. The former also seems to have bright young talents on the way up while the latter is treading water (or drowning, as it were) with older players on the outs.

The folks over at Football Outsiders have a number of great stats that boil down rankings into easily digestible bits. In the quarterback matchup, one would assume San Diego has the gigantic advantage with Philip Rivers behind center. Rivers does rank highly in both DYAR and DVOA, two Football Outsiders metrics that measure value in the aggregate and value per play respectively. Rivers comes in fourth in the NFL in the aggregate and seventh on a per-play basis. But not far behind is Oakland’s Derek Carr. Don’t let his poor quarterback rating fool you. Carr ranks a very solid eighth in both DYAR and DVOA. Few would tab him as a top-10 quarterback in just his second pro season, but here we are.

On the other side of the ball, the Raiders have cut the difference and actually surpassed what the Chargers offer. Neither club has been great, but Oakland has had the decided advantage on defense thus far in 2015. Outside rusher Khalil Mack actually ranks as Pro Football Focus’ number-one overall edge defender this season, helping to prop up the entire defense at large.

And of course special teams, the unit folks often forget to consider because it’s harder to quantify, shows the Raiders as the much better team. F.O.’s special-teams DVOA takes into account five aspects: kicks, kickoffs, punts, kick returns and punt returns. After crunching the numbers, the Raiders have the 8th-best special teams unit while the Chargers wallow all the way down at 29th thanks to poor groups in four out of the five categories.

Of course, it isn’t all doom and gloom for San Diego these days. Antonio Gates is still working himself back into game shape after being suspended for the first four weeks of the season. Third-year wide receiver Keenan Allen is having a stupendous season after a sophomore slump blinded people to his special first season. He is currently on pace to smash his rookie numbers across the board.

Statistics can’t tell the whole story, which is why the numbers get updated as teams play more games and we find out more information. Just because Oakland ranks out higher doesn’t mean it will surely win on the field. This Week 7 game will go a long way towards determining who actually holds the upper hand in the rivalry… at least until the Week 16 rematch later this year.

Joe is a co-founder of Rukkus, a web & mobile marketplace for sports tickets. As a former Division I pitcher, he has a deep love for sports and a passion for writing.

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Justin Houston: Demystifying the Franchise Tag

Justin Houston

When Justin Houston signs his franchise tender, he will be due 13.3 million. The compensation figure comes from an average of the top five players salary at that position. Houston led the NFL last season with a total of 22 sacks. He broke the club record once established by the late Derrick Thomas. One more

When Justin Houston signs his franchise tender, he will be due 13.3 million. The compensation figure comes from an average of the top five players salary at that position. Houston led the NFL last season with a total of 22 sacks. He broke the club record once established by the late Derrick Thomas. One more and he would have matched or maybe broken the record of Michael Strahan. There has been some confusion on exactly what Justin’s status is. The goal here is to bring awareness and just the facts without the acrimony. Some fans are calling Houston lazy, that he only cares about money, and should be at every practice and OTAs, regardless of his contract status. I do not share the opinion of fans who think he owes them 24/7.

First, we shall define the franchise tag and the different types of tag used by teams. The NFL introduced the franchise tag in 1993. There are two types of franchise tag designations: the exclusive rights franchise tag, and non-exclusive rights franchise tag:

From the Wikipedia definition: “An “exclusive” franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position as of a date in April of the current year in which the tag will apply, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. Exclusive franchise players cannot negotiate with other teams. The player’s team has all the negotiating rights to the exclusive player.”

“A “non-exclusive” franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five cap hits at the player’s position for the previous five years applied to the current salary cap, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. A non-exclusive franchise player may negotiate with other NFL teams, but if the player signs an offer sheet from another team, the original team has a right to match the terms of that offer, or if it does not match the offer and thus loses the player, is entitled to receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.”

The Chiefs have used the non-exclusive franchise tag on Justin Houston. This means that he is entitled to receive offers and, again, sign an offer sheet as listed; the Chiefs have a right to match the offer or receive the two first round draft choices as compensation. Few teams attempt to sign such a player because of the high price. Is Justin Houston worth the high price? I would say yes; however, the cost is steep. Moreover, whatever the cost, that team would have to negotiate a contract with him very quickly. As a Chiefs fan, I would sincerely hope the team does not decide that he is expendable. Houston is entering the prime of his career. There are teams out there that dream of having one pass rusher half as good as Houston. If the team decides they cannot keep him, they had better get something worthwhile in return.

“Under the Capped years, a team can designate one additional player only as a transitional tag. A transition player must be offered a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of the prior season at the player’s position or 120 percent of the player’s prior year’s salary, whichever is greater. A transition player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires. If the club matches, it retains the player. If it does not match, it receives no compensation.”

Right now, Justin is not under contract, but the Chiefs hold his rights. Houston shouldn’t be criticized for wanting a raise. Some fans forget the expectations for Houston when he entered the league. A first round talent from Georgia, he slipped to the third because of drug charge for having marijuana. Since then, he hasn’t had a single red flag against him. He does not have a contract and will continue to be without the contract until he signs the franchise tag they used to retain his services back in March. Justin is a consummate pro and is staying in shape, regardless of the perception of fans.

He has until the tenth week of the season to sign and receive credit for a full season, a requirement to get to the goal of free agency in 2016. Does this mean he will sit out of practices and games until the tenth week? Maybe. He could sit out, but it might also send a signal to teams considering signing him next year. I doubt his agent would advise him to do so. Nevertheless, he is free to make the choice and the Chiefs can only wait until he signs the tender.

The tag situation is complex. By exploring the meanings of the various tags and how they apply in this situation, perhaps you will have less anxiety, and Chiefs’ fans can begin looking forward to the start of the season.

Millissa Beaton is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. Follow her on Twitter @SportsWizard28

Millissa Beaton

I Love My Kansas City Chiefs. I enjoy talking sports and am also writing about them too. Everyday I want to improve. I value my friends, family, working out. Batman, Star Wars & X-Files fan. I want to work in the field. I am forming my own radio show with my good friend @tweaked74 . Give us a listen to learn about what your favorite team is doing. We will have great guests and would love to hear from you! Go to Blogtalkradio.com

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A peek behind the Jarryd Hayne Curtain

A peek behind the Jarryd Hayne curtain

I’ve been getting asked a lot of questions lately since Jarryd Hayne signed with the 49ers. Thus, I figured I would incorporate some answers into my weekly post.

Media, what to expect: Jarryd arrived in the states on October 14th, 2014. As soon as he landed he went off-the-grid, sought NFL friendly workout facilities,

I’ve been getting asked a lot of questions lately since Jarryd Hayne signed with the 49ers. Thus, I figured I would incorporate some answers into my weekly post.

Media, what to expect: Jarryd arrived in the states on October 14th, 2014. As soon as he landed he went off-the-grid, sought NFL friendly workout facilities, quarterbacks, coaches and anyone who could help him get some position basic training. He did this all on his own for a month, paid his own way and did something every day to learn the game. A month later he started interviewing agents and eventually settled on me/my firm.

On Tuesday, he had a big press conference in Sydney when he announced his team selection. We/he didn’t do this for the attention; we/he did it so he wouldn’t have to speak continuously to the numerous media outlets over the next few weeks. The goal was to get all the questions answered at once, and move on to training.

I learned by being around him that he cared less about getting attention, as he is used to being in the spotlight, and more about dedicating himself to the game of the NFL. He was his league’s MVP three different times so he is used to the attention, and doesn’t need more of it. Going forward, I would expect the same from Jarryd, flying low under the radar and eating as much football as he can every single day. Over the last 48 hours, I’ve received over 40 requests for interviews and I doubt Jarryd will do more than two of them. That’s what we should expect going forward.

What’s next: This is really simple. Jarryd will start doing what all the other NFL players are doing. And that is starting to tune up for the off-season workouts. He will make his way back over to the states in a week or so and start training with veterans. March is the month where vets start getting on the field again. They run routes and do some field work on top of doing weight room work and conditioning. Jarryd doesn’t want to do a media tour and/or try to dig up every potential endorsement. He just wants to go to work and attack the learning curve.

Why do I want to represent him? I had enough contacts down-under and throughout the sport that confirmed to me, that Jarryd Hayne is the “real deal”, a “special player”. I am a huge rugby fan (attended many matches) and never got to experience rugby league (there is a difference) in person but always thought it was the closest game to the NFL game. On top of that, I really admire the culture of rugby and rugby league. It’s the greatest fraternity in the world. The guys spend a lot of time with each other, and are really supportive of one another through long seasons, always putting the team first.

Even though Hayden Smith of the Saracens didn’t make it with the Jets for a second year in 2013, he accomplished something no one has ever done before (outside of punters). He went from never touching a football in March to playing in a game in October and catching a pass in December. It was a positive experience for all involved and getting to be a part of Hayden’s journey was worth more money than I could make. We remain great friends.

I strongly feel Jarryd’s journey will also be unique, fulfilling and rich. I for one, love being a part of something groundbreaking in my industry. The young man has been dreaming about this chance for years, is taking a big pay-cut to make this happen, and has a deep dark determination that can’t be measured by tapes and stopwatches. That’s the type of people I love busting my ass for.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jackbechta

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Time to change the Combine

Time to change the Combine

When you hear Mike Mayock and Rich Eisen talk about how much bigger and faster the players are getting each year, you have to wonder where the comparison should stop from players of the past.

The whole reason why drills, schedules and formatting of the Combine remain the same is so evaluators can always compare

When you hear Mike Mayock and Rich Eisen talk about how much bigger and faster the players are getting each year, you have to wonder where the comparison should stop from players of the past.

The whole reason why drills, schedules and formatting of the Combine remain the same is so evaluators can always compare to the prior years attendees. However, this thinking/formula is flawed now because the evolution of training and preparing for the Combine has accelerated so dramatically over the last fifteen years. If I were an evaluator I wouldn’t compare a player’s combine performance to another player going back more than eight years.

In 1999, Mark Verstegen launched his first Athletes Performance (Now Exos with 7 locations) facility in Tempe, AZ. I know this because I sent him half of his first class. Other trainers like Chip Smith of CES, Tom Shaw and several others have been prepping players for over fifteen years now and have continually gotten better at having participants peak for their Combine workout. As of late, a bigger focus has been on nutrition, speed mechanics and bringing in former NFL players and coaches to tutor each player in drills and interviews.

The main reason for the Combine still remains the medicals and physical component. And everyone believes it is the most necessary and most important component of the Combine. But players and agents are growing more resistant to this current format and a change is needed or the NFLPA could force one to happen in what could have a showdown like capacity.

The current format has players getting in line for physicals at 6:30 am, standing in line for hours, then having their limbs, joints, knees and shoulders being pulled, pushed and rotated to their limits. Some doctors are more aggressive than others and some have minimal experience in the field.

Numerous players, including 310 pound plus lineman are crammed in an MRI machine for up to 30 minutes or more. Some players reported that the air in the MRI machine was not working and when they asked to be removed because they were feeling claustrophobic, they wouldn’t immediately do so and told them to be still for 15 more minutes. If you ever been in an MRI machine you can relate to these issues. Then imagine you are 6’5” 315 pounds. These machines are not made for these size men. It’s truly a “cattle call”.

So after very little sleep (most players settle down about midnight after their interviews and snacks), much standing around without food or sometimes even a place to sit, being pulled at, tugged at, even accused of hiding an injury, it’s on to an energy draining cybex test, having up to seven or more vials of blood drawn, and then off to more meetings. That coupled with another long evening and they are supposed to be fresh for the biggest audition of their life that also takes place on national TV? Oh, and all performed in some really tight fitting florescent clothes you are forced to wear.

Of course, this is a stressful time for these young men trying to get drafted as high as possible, not embarrass themselves, make great impressions, begin their dream and perform at their very best under duress in a stressful environment. I know there are worse things, but the Combine needs to grow up, mature, get with the times and make some more adjustments that are simply common sense.

For starters, here are some changes that should be made:

Players should be allowed to come a day earlier if they choose. The Combine started an extra day earlier this year. The extra day was meant to allow for more sleep, travel recovery time, more/longer informal interviews, and make for a more civil pace for everyone. But for some reason none of the players felt any more rested than years before. I believe just more things/activities were crammed into that extra day.

Physicals, drawing of blood and even opportunity for interviews should be “AFTER” the players perform all the on-field drills and forty. Essentially, the schedule of the combine should be flipped around. Would this mean all the players who would perform under these more friendly conditions would do better than all those before them? Perhaps, but it’s a new era and now is the time to make these adjustments.

Formal interviews should be increased to 20 minutes from 15. Juniors and QBs should be 30 minutes and the players should have the right to choose which teams they want to meet with in case there is limited time for them. Additionally, all player meetings should cease at 9:00pm. They currently run to 11:00pm. Having the extra day on the front end could help the whole process.

No physicals, scans, X-rays, tests or meetings should start before 9:00am. Players come from all over the country and come from different time zones. Players from Pacific time zones who have to be at the doctor’s for MRI’s at 7:30am are getting up at 3:30am Pacific time and will be up for the remainder of the day (their first full day in Indy).

Each player should have their own room: There are some really funny stories floating around about the roommate situations at the Combine. Players get stuck with roommates who snore, want to sleep with the TV left on, stay up late on the phone and keep the other player awake. The NFL makes good money on the Combine so buck up and give the players their own rooms.

I did run into NFLPA director DeMaurice Smith and player president Eric Winston one day. They were making their rounds and talking to a lot of agents and players and getting a feel for the whole environment and listening to grievances from agents. So don’t be surprised if the Players Association asks for a bigger role in shaping future Combines.

Follow me On Twitter: @Jackbechta

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