NFC East: Roger Goodell

ORLANDO, Fla. -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Redskins owner Dan Snyder not only listened, but took action when it comes to issues surrounding Native Americans. The Redskins, of course, have been under heavier attack over the past year to change their name.

But starting in November, Snyder and others from the organization have met with 26 different tribes around the country. The Redskins announced that they had started the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation, designed to provide resources and support to tribes around the country.

“He’s not only listened, he’s has learned, and now he is taking action,” Goodell said of Snyder. “He is trying to address some of the very important needs that they have identified when he has been having those meetings. That was a presentation completely by the Redskins. It was their initiative and I think the membership appreciated hearing that.”

The Redskins say a number of teams have expressed interest in working with the foundation. The opposition likely won’t drop their quest to change the nickname. But Goodell remained firm in his stance.

“That has been discussed for decades now. It comes up every once in a while. People have strong views on it,” he said. “But I think Dan has been very responsive and has been listening. It’s also pretty clear when you look at public opinion here. When you look at the polls 90 percent of the Redskins fans support the name, they believe it’s something that demonstrates pride and the general population also supports it overwhelmingly. He’s trying to be responsive and he’s listening and recognizing that people have different views."
So last week, the New York Giants signed offensive lineman John Jerry, who was one of the three Miami Dolphins players implicated by name in the Ted Wells investigation into the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin bullying scandal. Jerry, Incognito and Mike Pouncey were found to have "engaged in a pattern of harassment" toward Martin and others in the organization. Sexually explicit taunts about one guy's sister, racial taunts toward a team trainer of Asian heritage ... real charming stuff. Guy seems like a real winner.

Jerry
This is the kind of signing that, if the Jets or the Raiders or the Bengals or the Cowboys made it, would be panned and ridiculed and back-paged all over town. But because everybody connected with the NFL thinks the sun shines out of the Giants' rear ends, the focus in this case is on whether Jerry will be eligible to play when the 2014 season starts.

So, on that: Maybe. Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked Monday at the owners meetings whether Jerry, Incognito and Pouncey would face league discipline for their roles in the Miami fiasco, and he didn't say yes or no. But his answer did indicate the possibility that Jerry might have to miss time while he undergoes a medical evaluation stemming from his apparent struggles to treat people like human beings.

Per Jordan Raanan:
"Our focus right now, at least in the case of the three players, is that they would be evaluated," commissioner Roger Goodell said. "We talked with the union several times about that. We agreed that was the right first step."

The next step would be to determine if the players needed treatment of any kind. That could keep Jerry away from his new team for an unknown period of time, depending on the results of the tests.

Jerry is expected to be a reserve lineman at this point. The Giants, however, have several huge question marks on their line.

"The first thing is to get the evaluation to determine what the treatment is," Goodell said. "Depending on what the doctors prescribe there, that could prevent them from being part of football for some period of time. But that is a medical decision."

So, no way to know. All I can say is that the Giants must really like this guy if they're willing to take on this kind of baggage and the possibility that he might not even be medically cleared to participate in their training camp right away. When you have an offensive line play the way theirs did in 2013, I guess you're willing to overlook a lot in an effort to get better.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t answer the question, but instead steered a query about the Washington Redskins' nickname controversy back to comments that are consistent with those he has made over the past year.

Goodell was asked during his annual state of the NFL news conference Friday if he would “feel comfortable calling an American Indian a redskin to his or her face.”

He did not answer that question. But he did tell reporters in attendance (and, well, anyone watching on SportsCenter): “I’ve been spending the last year talking to many leaders in the Native American community. We are listening. This is the name of a football team, a football team that’s had that name for 80 years and presented the name in a way that honors Native Americans. We recognize that there are some that don’t agree with the name, and we listened and respected that.

“If you look at the numbers, including in the Native American community, in a Native American community poll nine out of 10 supported the name. Eight out of 10 Americans in the general population would not like us to change the name. So we’re listening and being respectful for people who disagree, but let’s not forget this is the name of a football team.”

Here are two polls on the name change. The United Nations was addressed on the matter. Draw your own conclusions.

Big Blue Morning: T2's great comeback

October, 31, 2013
10/31/13
8:00
AM ET
Your daily morning check-in on news and notes about and of interest to the New York Giants.

The news of the day: Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his 11-tackle performance against the Eagles on Sunday. Thomas' comeback from a third ACL surgery on the same knee was remarkable already when he made the team and took the field in Week 1 against the Cowboys. But the fact that his recognition as the best defensive performer in the conference in Week 8 is an occasion to marvel once again at what it took for him to get back to the NFL. ... Giants tight ends coach Mike Pope says everybody needs to go easy on Brandon Myers, who has not continued the Giants' streak of success with changing faces at the tight end position. ... And David Diehl told Pro Football Talk that he doesn't see Hakeem Nicks returning to the Giants in 2014, which would be really interesting if Diehl were either the Giants' GM or Nicks' agent. He is neither, and quite frankly I like Nicks' chances of playing for the Giants in 2014 better than I like Diehl's.

Around the division: The Cowboys sure are rallying around Dez Bryant as he absorbs criticism for his sideline behavior Sunday. Even Jason Witten, who had to be separated from Bryant by DeMarcus Ware late in the game, says he thinks the Cowboys need more guys like Dez. My take on Bryant is that nothing's stickier than a reputation, and even though all of his issues in the past have been off-field and he's been a solid citizen in the locker room, he's perceived a certain way. So he can't slip up, or this is what happens. Unfair? Sure. But it's his reality, and that's his lesson of the week.

Around the league: Raise your hand if you're surprised Roger Goodell didn't go to the meeting with the Oneida Indian Nation about the Redskins' team name. Yeah, I didn't think so. Goodell wants this to go away. I'm not sure he's getting his wish.
Back home after my minicamp travels and a significant amount of time waiting out construction on the I-95 corridor, I present to you some bleary-eyed Thursday links.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins will bring a couple of new wide receivers to training camp with them next month, as they have signed speedy veterans Donte Stallworth and Devery Henderson. No way to say for certain to what extent these guys threaten for spots on the final roster, but they're guys who'd performed in the league and are certainly worth taking a look at as potential passing-game weapons.

Sometimes, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says something that makes you wonder if he's ever paid any attention, at all, to any aspect of the topic he's discussing. In a letter to Congress, Goodell referred to the Redskins' names as "a unifying force." I mean... whatever else it is, it sure as heck ain't "unifying," Rog.

Dallas Cowboys

Guess who the star of Cowboys minicamp practice was on Wednesday. That's right. Dez Bryant. You know this blog isn't surprised.

Tyrone Crawford has been lining up at defensive end in the Cowboys' new 4-3 front seven alignment, and he says that's the way he sees himself. The Cowboys believed Crawford was ready to contribute as a pure pass-rusher even going into last year, so they surely believe he can find his way to the quarterback from a 4-3 end spot. It remains to be seen how much his game develops beyond that.

New York Giants

A healthy Terrell Thomas would likely change everyone's outlook on the Giants' secondary, and Thomas says he's going to "shock a lot of people" this year. There's no way for the Giants to count on a contribution from Thomas, but if he surprises them with one, it would be a huge help to a unit fraught with question marks.

Veterans don't like it when their teams draft players who play their position, and Giants backup quarterback David Carr admits he "would have freaked out" at the Giants' selection of Ryan Nassib if the same situation had happened to him earlier in his career. Now? Carr pretty much rolls with things.

Philadelphia Eagles

This is the dangerous portion of the offseason, when players are away from their teams for an extended period of time and the only news they can make is bad news. To wit: Eagles left tackle Jason Peters arrested in Louisiana on charges of drag racing and resisting an officer by flight. Not good. The NFL has been known to suspend players for second arrests, which this is for Peters.

Evan Mathis talks sense about this whole Eagles starting quarterback issue. Like the man who will ultimately decide, Mathis doesn't see any reason to rush a decision or an announcement on this.
PHOENIX -- They said this would not happen. As someone who hated the idea of an outdoor Super Bowl in the Northeast from the moment it came up, I distinctly remember NFL commissioner Roger Goodell saying this would not happen. This was back when they announced that the 2014 Super Bowl would be held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., and one of the many questions (along with "What the heck are you guys thinking?") was whether this meant other outdoor northern venues would become candidates for future Super Bowls as well. Goodell said no, that this New York thing was a one-time, special opportunity.

Nevertheless, at the NFL owners meetings on Monday, Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said he'd push for a Super Bowl in Philadelphia if the New York/New Jersey game is a success.

"I will, yes. I will, if it's a success," Lurie said. "New York will help us."

Lurie offered the NFL party line bit about how cool it is when football's played in the snow, asserting he has great memories from growing up in Boston and watching games played in the snow. And he said he thinks, as long as it's no threat to public safety, it'd be great if next year's game had a little bit of snow.

TBD
AP Photo/NFLLook, there's a snowflake there in the 2014 New Jersey/New York Super Bowl logo.
But again, as was the case when the New York/New Jersey idea came up, this clichéd and myopic argument ignores the many, many reasons not to do this. Ever again. Having the game in New Jersey next year is a monumental mistake, and the NFL will be lucky if it goes off without a hitch. The league should absolutely not press its luck by trying to do it again in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., New England, Chicago or any such place where the threat of a weather-related, game-day mess is added to the threat of weeklong logistical havoc akin to what happened when they had a freak ice storm in 2011 in Dallas.

As I write this, according to weather.com, it is 36 degrees in the fine city of Philadelphia. "Areas nearby," the page I'm looking at tells me, "are reporting a mixture of rain and snow." It is also currently 44 days since the Super Bowl was played. That's more than six weeks gone by from Super Bowl Sunday, and the Northeast is still dealing with the very real daily threat of messy weather. Why, I continue to ask, would the NFL want to invite this to its signature event? And before you answer, please consider that the Super Bowl, from the NFL's standpoint, is not simply one game at 6:30 p.m. on a Sunday, but rather a weeklong festival of football to which the whole world comes, hoping to have a good time and party. It is important to the NFL that the entire week -- not just Sunday night -- go well. Dallas was an embarrassment, but at least that could be dismissed as a fluke because they don't generally have winter storms in Dallas in February.

They do, generally, and somewhat frequently, have winter storms in northern New Jersey. They have them in Philadelphia. The idea that the NFL would want to hold its signature event in a place where this is not only possible but likely -- and then also bring game day into the potentially messy equation by playing the Super Bowl in a cold-weather stadium without a roof -- is senseless and always was. The league is already juggling next year's schedule for Super Bowl week in ways it wouldn't have had to if sense had prevailed. There will be no "NFL Experience," because there's nowhere to put it. Media Day will be in a hockey arena in Newark, N.J. because the NFL doesn't want to risk having it outside in bad weather. The league has reportedly discussed contingency plans for moving the game to Saturday or some other day of the week if there's a big storm. "Super Bowl Friday" just doesn't have the same ring, right? Why invite these problems? And why more than once?

I hold to the belief that the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl was part of the deal with the owners of the Giants and the Jets when they agreed to build their new stadium. The league hasn't come out and said that, but I believe it to be the case. And if it is, fine. They've all made worse backroom deals, I am sure. But this should be where it stops, and if next year's game happens to go off without a hitch, the NFL should not allow that to change its mind about the outdoor northern Super Bowl as a repeatable concept. It's a bad idea and will continue to be a bad idea whether the league gets lucky next year or not. I thought, when this came up the first time, that Goodell had made it clear to other owners that this did not open things up for places like Philadelphia to follow suit. I think the NFL should make that clear again, tell Lurie to stand down, hope next year's Super Bowl goes off without any gigantic problems and then start putting the game back in places like Miami and New Orleans, where it belongs.
NEW ORLEANS -- Regardless of whether it's a big deal in Washington, the issue of the Washington Redskins' controversial team nickname does not appear to be a concern of the NFL's. Commissioner Roger Goodell took a question on the topic from Washington Post columnist Mike Wise during his annual Super Bowl news conference here this morning, and he basically said the fact that fans like the name trumps everything else about the issue.

"Growing up in Washington, I do understand the affinity for that name with the fans," Goodell said. "I also understand the other side of that. I don't think anybody wants to offend anybody. But this has been discussed over a long period of time. I think Dan Snyder and the organization have made it very clear that they are proud of that name and that heritage, and I think the fans are, too."

So, basically the same answer the league gives to so many other questions: We're the NFL, and we don't care.

In truth, Goodell's answer is preposterous. The Redskins' team name is nothing of which to be "proud." It is an epithet with a history of deployment as a tool for derision and prejudice. It makes no logical sense that it wasn't changed decades ago, before its longevity could be used by its defenders as a primary excuse. But what's logical outside the NFL very often gets dismissed as inconsequential by those who run it. It's football, after all, and what's bigger than that these days?

The movement to change the Redskins' name should have more traction and less opposition than it does. The arguments in favor of keeping it are selfish, and the real-word impact of changing it would be negligible. There's not a single fan, player or team owner whose quality of life would be affected in any way if the name were changed. And on the other hand, there is a group of people who would feel considerably better if they were no longer portrayed as someone's mascot.

Respect for fellow human beings is, in truth, far more important than football. But Goodell's answer Friday made it clear that that's not the way the league sees it, and the chances of the Redskins' name being changed any time soon continue to languish in the NFL's warped jungle of priorities.
Pretty special weekend of NFL football, was it not? See, you guys don't ever want to believe me, but you really can have fun watching games when you don't care who wins. Anyway, to the business at hand. The Cowboys have tinkered with their coaching staff, the Eagles can't seem to get theirs started, the Redskins begin an offseason of fretting over their franchise player and the Giants (as is their offseason m.o.) are making no noise whatsoever. All this and more in your Monday links.

Washington Redskins

There was a little flare-up at the end of the week about the players' union possibly investigating the Redskins' handling of Robert Griffin III and his injury in their final game, but the NFLPA declined to pursue it. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said over the weekend that the league is satisfied that the Redskins' decision to keep Griffin in the game was cleared with doctors, and so that's that. Also stuff in there about the much-maligned FedEx Field turf and Washington's chances to host a Super Bowl. These last two are addressed independently of each other, but I have to believe they are connected.

Everybody handled themselves well in the wake of the incident, but Redskins left tackle Trent Williams was still fined $7,875 for shoving Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman in the face during a postgame altercation last Sunday night. For some reason, it is noted in that story that Sherman was not fined. There is apparently no rule against being shoved in the face by another player.

New York Giants

Again, real tough to find Giants links these days, so here's Ohm's salary-cap breakdown from Friday, in case you hadn't seen that already. Takes you through some names of players who might be cap casualties or asked to restructure their deals. The relatively low base salaries of Ahmad Bradshaw and Justin Tuck make me think the talk of them not being on next year's team was premature, but I wouldn't feel comfortable if I were Corey Webster or David Diehl.

Also, since we linked to the others, here's the final installment in ESPNewYork.com's "Five Giant Issues" series -- a look at the 2012 performance of Eli Manning. Consistently brilliant in 2011, mortal in 2012. May have been the biggest difference of all between this year's 9-7 team and last year's.

Dallas Cowboys

Anthony Spencer is making it clear he'd be fine with playing defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, which the Cowboys will now be playing under new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. And I think he's right. I actually think you can make the case that he'd transition better than DeMarcus Ware will, given his size. The issue with Spencer is whether the Cowboys can afford to keep him, given that they project about $18.2 million over the salary cap right now.

Clarence Hill wrote that Kiffin's performance could determine the long-term viability of Jason Garrett as the Cowboys' head coach. I think he's right, obviously, and I'm not buying that Garrett had no input in the hire. Rob Ryan wasn't his top choice two years ago, the Cowboys weren't the only team interested in Kiffin this offseason and the switch to a 4-3 likely has as much to do with salary-cap concerns as it does with anything else. They have some young, cheap potential solutions in some key spots.

Philadelphia Eagles

As a third college candidate, Notre Dame's Brian Kelly, told the Eagles thanks-but-no-thanks over the weekend and decided to stay in school, the Eagles remain in need of a head coach. As Les Bowen writes, the way their search has gone so far leaves us few clues as to what they're looking for or with whom they'll end up.

CSNPhilly.com reported Sunday that former Ravens coach Brian Billick, who won a Super Bowl title while coaching Baltimore 12 years ago, has been interviewed and is among the leading candidates for the job. Interesting, as we haven't heard Billick's name very much as a candidate in the five years since he was fired by the Ravens. I have said before that I don't see the Eagles luring any of the usual-suspect Super Bowl champion coaches (Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden) out of their TV jobs, but Billick is a guy who seems eager for any chance he could get to prove he can coach in the league again.

Morning. I don't feel as great about last night's draft as I did about last week's. I blame it on the lack of Aaron Rodgers. But life goes on, and maybe DeMarco Murray plays all 16 games, you never know. Still two days from those pesky predictions, but we have a chat and plenty of other good stuff for you today, starting of course with the links.

Philadelphia Eagles

Marcus Hayes thinks it's obvious who should be the Eagles' backup quarterback this year, and it's not who you think. Marcus' pick is Trent Edwards, and the reason is experience, which the other candidates don't have. You know where I am on this. If Michael Vick is hurt, they're toast anyway, so I'd go with rookie Nick Foles, who throws the best deep ball of the candidates and has the best chance of taking full advantage of the Eagles' speedy receivers. But Marcus makes a good point about Foles being a rookie, and it's an interesting debate, if one the Eagles hope never matters.

If you think you expect big things from Nnamdi Asomugha in his second year in Philadelphia, Reuben Frank writes, they're nothing compared to what he's expecting of himself.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins are delaying a decision on right tackle Jammal Brown, who will start the season on the PUP list and therefore be ineligible to play before Week 7. He still might miss the year with those hip problems that just refuse to get better, and in the meantime Tyler Polumbus is playing right tackle.

The latest on the running back carousel is that Evan Royster plans to play in the final preseason game Wednesday and they still don't know about Roy Helu. If Royster looks good and Tim Hightower's still not 100 percent with his knee, Royster is probably the favorite to start Week 1. Rookie Alfred Morris remains in the picture, and the picture remains a confusing mess.

Dallas Cowboys

Jason Garrett says the team's new rules for Dez Bryant are designed to strike a balance between supporting him and holding him accountable for his actions. That's a tough balance, and the most important thing is that Bryant is on board, which everyone says he is, though no one in the media has talked to Bryant in months.

Orlando Scandrick says he's not concerned about losing playing time when Mike Jenkins comes back. Because, yeah, come on. There's a chance we see the Easter Bunny before we see Jenkins on the field at this point, right?

New York Giants

Hakeem Nicks is apparently interested in getting some snaps in the final preseason game, and I guess the team feels like it's up to him if he feels good to go on that bum foot of his. Nicks feels he needs to see some game action in order to be ready for the regular-season opener eight days from now, and he's a responsible enough guy that the Giants trust him to do what's right in terms of his recovery from his injury.

Tyler Sash asked commissioner Roger Goodell, who'd suspended him four games for violating the performance-enhancing drug policy, to reconsider. Goodell said no, and Sash has to serve his suspension. And yeah, go ahead and lament the fact that the NFL requires players to appeal to the same guy who issues the suspension in the first place. But I think it's also worth lamenting that guys are still taking illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
Dez Bryant and his mother, Angela BryantAP Photo/Nomaan MerchantAngela Bryant said she does not want to press charges against her son Dez Bryant.
I understand that what you guys care about is whether Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant will be suspended for his arrest last week on family violence charges. And obviously, the events of today make that less likely (though still not out of the question). Bryant's 37-year-old mother, who was the one who reported her 23-year-old son for attacking her, now says she doesn't want charges pressed. The two appeared at a news conference Tuesday afternoon but did not speak. Instead, Bryant's attorney made a statement:
Angela Bryant does not want charges filed against her son. Ms. Bryant has had an opportunity to speak with other people who witnessed the incident and has filed an Affidavit of Non Prosecution with the DeSoto Police Department. She recognizes that under the law, filing of the affidavit may not impact the legal outcome of her complaint. She asks that her affidavit be taken into consideration in deciding whether it is in the best interest of her family for this to continue in the legal system or allow them to resolve the issue as a family.

Dez and his mother believe this is a family matter that can be worked out through counseling.

They ask that there not be a rush to judgment concerning their family. They also ask for your continued prayers and support for their family as they work through this matter.

So that's that, except it's not. The Dallas district attorney's office can still proceed with charges if it decides to, regardless of Angela Bryant's wishes. Now, if she's decided not to be a cooperative witness, it seems unlikely they'd have much of a case. But since the whole thing rested on her credibility as a witness, so does this latest part of it. And if she wasn't credible in the first place, it may well be that she's not now either. Certainly, Angela Bryant has a financial stake in her son's ability to pursue his career without interruption. Her motivation for any and all of her actions in this situation has to be scrutinized as much as the actions of Bryant himself.

Also, past cases have shown that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell can impose player discipline under the personal conduct policy even if no criminal charges are filed. So a lot remains to be seen before we know whether Bryant will miss games over this.

I continue to insist, however, that that's not the most important thing about this. Whether Bryant misses a game or four games or no games this season, the most important thing that has to happen in his life is that he's got to find a better support system, stop finding himself in bad situations and stop making detrimental choices. It's extremely clear at this point, regardless of the attorney's plea to refrain from judgment, that Bryant's mother is not part of a helpful support system. At present, she's the one with the more significant criminal record. And while I'm certainly willing to believe Bryant and his mother love each other, it doesn't appear that this particular family excels at "resolving issues as a family."

The Cowboys have to be eager to get Bryant to training camp, in California, away from the trouble into which he always seems to get himself when he's home with his family and friends. But more than that, the team, the league and anyone else who has anything invested in the long-term success of this young man need to make it a priority to change something about the way he's living his life. Because if all that comes of this is that it all blows over and everybody acts like nothing ever happened, something else is probably going to happen down the road.

I don't know if the Cowboys or the commissioner plan to deal with this in a disciplinary way. But I hope for Bryant's sake that they're having conversations about what they can do to help Bryant stay out of trouble in the future. That could mean a wake-up-call type of punishment, counseling or anything else that might have a chance to work. The people who care about Bryant need to be considering every option.

Good and interesting insight in this story from Albert Breer on NFL.com about what, exactly, upset the other teams in the NFL about the way the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins spent their money in the uncapped 2010 season. The NFL stripped the Redskins of $36 million and the Cowboys of $10 million in salary cap space over the next two years, and those two teams have filed a grievance against the league and the NFLPA to dispute the punishment. But to this point, it has remained unclear what, exactly, the other teams felt they did wrong.

Albert writes that, by structuring the contracts of Miles Austin, Albert Haynesworth and DeAngelo Hall in such a way as to inflate 2010 base salaries and save money in future years, the Cowboys and Redskins inflated the franchise-player numbers for wide receivers, defensive tackles and cornerbacks. As a result, the Chargers had a hard time keeping Vincent Jackson, the Ravens were handcuffed by the contract they wanted to give Haloti Ngata and the Bengals were unable to keep Johnathan Joseph. For example:
[+] EnlargeMiles Austin
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireOne of the contracts owners were upset about was the one the Cowboys gave to Miles Austin in 2010, according to an NFL.com story.
Austin's contract was instrumental in pushing the receiver number from $9.5 million in 2010 to $11.3 million in 2011. San Diego franchised Vincent Jackson at the latter number in 2011. The leverage Jackson gained from having an $11.4 million tender made him difficult to sign to a long-term deal, and the resulting 2012 franchise figure -- by rule, 120 percent of the previous number, which came out to $13.7 million -- made it even harder to tag him again for the club.

So San Diego, which likely would've tagged Jackson again if the number had been more affordable, let Jackson walk. He signed a five-year, $55.6 million contract with the Buccaneers this offseason.

Many thanks to Albert for shining some light on what, exactly, the other owners found wrong with the way the Cowboys and the Redskins behaved in a year that was supposed to have no spending restrictions. The Cowboys and Redskins are arguing that there was no rule against what they did, and while that may be true, Giants owner and NFL management committee chairman John Mara said last month that all teams were warned that they could be punished if they did what these two teams did.

But for a couple of reasons, I continue to believe the teams that are complaining about this are full of it. First of all, commissioner Roger Goodell said at the owners' meetings last month that the reason for the penalties was that the teams in question had attempted to gain a competitive advantage in future years through their 2010 actions. But what Albert writes (on the league's own web site) is something quite different. Albert's reporting indicates that the reason the other teams got upset at the Cowboys and the Redskins was because their actions required them to spend more money than they wanted to spend to pay their own players. And if that's the case, then the artificial, unwritten guidelines the owners tried to put in place to control spending during the uncapped year were not an effort to maintain future competitive balance (as they have claimed publicly), but rather clearly an attempt to control player salaries.

Furthermore, it's important to remember that there never would have been an uncapped 2010 season -- or any reason to cut backroom deals to regulate spending therein -- if the owners hadn't decided to lock out the players in 2011 in an effort to restructure the CBA in a manner more favorable to themselves. Had they negotiated in good faith prior to 2010, they could have put a new CBA in place that would have imposed a salary cap and clear spending rules for that season. But because they had decided long before to impose a lockout strategy and not negotiate until they had the players backed up against the wall, the 2010 season arrived without a salary cap, as the prior CBA said it must if it were to be the final league year.

The entire concept of the uncapped 2010 season was an avoidable mess of the owners' own making. The lockout was an unnecessary act of pure greed, as evidenced by a new CBA that solved almost none of the competitive-balance issues raised by small-market owners. And the idea that the teams could whisper together behind closed doors about acting as though there was a cap when there wasn't and expect every owner to go along with the plan is (and always was) utterly foolish. The salary cap penalties against the Cowboys and Redskins are part of the fallout from the clumsy way in which the NFL's owners executed their negotiating strategy, and I continue to see no common-sense reason why those teams shouldn't expect to get some sort of restitution from the arbitrator.
PALM BEACH, Fla. -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said there was still no date set for the arbitration hearing on the salary-cap penalties against the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins. Goodell did take a couple of questions on the matter at his news conference wrapping up the owners meetings here Wednesday morning, but he didn't shine too much light on the reasons the Redskins were penalized $36 million against the cap and the Cowboys $10 million against the cap over the next two years.

"The question was, 'Did any teams gain a competitive advantage?'" Goodell said. "And that was the focus that we and the NFLPA had in reaching our agreement -- making sure that no team had a long-term competitive advantage."

The NFL's management council, which imposed the penalties, determined that the Redskins and Cowboys did work to gain a competitive advantage in future seasons by the way they structured contracts during the uncapped 2010 season. As Goodell points out, the penalties were agreed to by the players' union, though as we first reported on March 12, the union only agreed to them after the league threatened to reduce this year's salary cap.

As for the issue of how a team could be penalized for the way it spent its money during an uncapped year, Goodell said: "I think the rules were articulated. I'd have to go back and look at it again, but the rules were quite clear -- the rules that were followed and the rules that weren't."

It's hard to understand what Goodell could "go back and look at," since I think we've all been under the impression that these rules were not spelled out in any document. Giants owner John Mara, the chair of the management council, said Sunday that the rules intended to govern spending and contract structures in the uncapped year "came up several times in our meetings." There's nothing so far that's indicated the Redskins and Cowboys were in violation of any written rule.

Regardless, the owners did vote Tuesday to ratify the management council's decision. The vote passed 29-2-1, according to Goodell, with the Cowboys and Redskins obviously voting no and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers abstaining. Goodell said it was not necessary to have a full-membership vote to ratify a management council decision, but that it was not unprecedented. It was likely done as a show of support for the punishments in advance of the arbitration hearing.

Chat by the beach

March, 27, 2012
3/27/12
10:00
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PALM BEACH, Fla. -- All right, I can't actually see the beach or the ocean from inside the media workroom here at the NFL owners meetings. But I know they're only a few feet away, on the other side of the walls of The Breakers. So you'll have to take my word for it as I sit and answer questions for you in our weekly NFC East chat. It starts at noon ET, as it does every Tuesday, and will last about an hour unless I get word that Jerry Jones is in the lobby publicly ripping John Mara and Roger Goodell over the salary-cap penalties. If that's going on, I'm going to go listen. And maybe egg him on.

Other than that, though, I'm all yours. Just click on these blue letters right here at noon and we'll have ourselves a time.
PALM BEACH, Fla. -- We are all up bright and early this morning for the first of two "coaches breakfasts" at the NFL owners meetings. Pretty cool deal, actually. Today, all of the AFC coaches sit at tables for an hour and you can sit with them and ask them anything you want. The NFC coaches do it tomorrow. So, in my capacity as NFC East blogger, I will of course be working those tables tomorrow for information and insight from Jason Garrett, Tom Coughlin, Andy Reid and Mike Shanahan. But I'm going to today's session, too, to do some work on another project and because you never know what you might learn.

I don't know if they'll have links there. I do know you have them here.

Dallas Cowboys

After saying he'd talk with reporters Monday about the salary cap penalty issue, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones declined to do so and in fact stayed very much out of sight all day. (I mean, I was looking for the guy from 8 am until 10 pm, and I saw him once, and he was in a room I wasn't allowed to enter.) It sounds as though the Cowboys and the Redskins will both keep quiet on this, though you should stay tuned because you never know with Jerry, right?

Wanna hear what Tony Romo thinks about Peyton Manning and Tim Tebow? Here you go. What? Hey, at least it's not about Romo playing golf. I know you guys just love it when I give you the Romo golf updates...

New York Giants

Giants general manager Jerry Reese spoke with Sirius XM Radio about several issues, including the team's ongoing hunt for a middle linebacker and the idea of "slow-playing" free agency. I'm amazed that I still get questions from Giants fans about why they haven't done much in free agency. They don't have much cap room, first of all. And second of all, this is how they usually handle free agency, and it seems to be working well for them, no?

Former Giants wide receiver Steve Smith signed with the Rams, which could be an Eagles link because he "played" for them last year and could be a Cowboys link because some Cowboys fans were wondering if their team might sign him to replace Laurent Robinson but is ultimately a Giants link because Smith was much more a Giant than he ever was an Eagle or certainly a Cowboy.

Philadelphia Eagles

Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly is doing a periodic draft diary for Philly.com, and Sheil Kapadia has the latest installment. We don't know if the Eagles will end up picking Kuechly in the first round, but he's a guy who would fit nicely there, and he's someone who's been on the minds of Eagles fans, so there you go -- a little look into the pre-draft process through his eyes.

Jeff McLane explains why he thinks the Eagles could use one of their first three draft picks on a quarterback.

Washington Redskins

Patriots owner Robert Kraft said that commissioner Roger Goodell has the "full support" of the league's other owners on the matter of the salary cap penalties against the Redskins and Cowboys. Of course, Kraft also said Goodell was "in the best position to speak to that," and a few hours later Goodell refused to do so. So, you know. Whatever.

My old friend LaVar Arrington thinks this is a case of two NFL owners bucking the "old-school" approach the others are so determined to preserve. And in truth, this does feel more and more like a vindictive personal issue among the owners involved. That's probably why the league doesn't want anyone talking about it anymore. If the arbitrator assigned to the case thinks there's some kind of personal motivation behind the penalties, that might make him more likely to overturn them.
PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Last week, when the NFL imposed discipline against the New Orleans Saints and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams for the bounty program that went on in New Orleans, I wrote that the Washington Redskins were in the clear. In spite of Washington's having once employed Williams as its defensive coordinator and been part of the league's investigation into the bounty matter, the league's release announcing the Saints' penalties seemed to indicate that Williams' former employers were not at risk of being penalized. When I asked a league official whether the Redskins were in the clear, that official referred me to that section of the release.

However, when asked about this very issue at his news conference Monday evening at the NFL owners' meetings, commissioner Roger Goodell left open the possibility that further information could come to light that could implicate people and teams who have not been implicated.

"We haven't closed the investigation," Goodell said. "We haven't stopped investigating, and if we get new information, we'll act on it. We're not saying everybody's got a free pass here. If we get credible information, we're going to follow up on it."

There have been several reports recently in which former Redskins players, anonymous and otherwise, have discussed the bounty programs that were in place during Williams' time as Washington's defensive coordinator. So stay tuned on this, I guess. Still hard to imagine the Redskins could incur 2012 punishment for 2004-07 offenses, but in the NFL, you really never know.

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