NFC North: Larry the Cable Guy

Last weekend, I suggested locking up leaders from the NFL and NFL Players Association in the Phantom Zone until they reached a new collective bargaining agreement. C.J. of Milwaukee took me up on a request for better ideas. Check it out, and then follow me to Google to find out what "Room 101" is.
How about putting them both in Room 101 (the torture room) from George Orwell's 1984? If you recall, in that room everyone is forced to face their worst fear -- for Winston Smith in the novel, it was having a cage affixed to his face with hungry rats who'd eat his face if he didn't confess.

"For [NFL commissioner] Roger Goodell, it would be having a judge rule the NFL has lost its anti-trust exemption, the players being given unlimited free agency, TV contract money being split 80/20, with the 80 going to the players, and owners being forced to pay back their communities for the stadiums bought and built for them.

"For [NFLPA executive director] DeMaurice Smith, it would be a judge ruling that the players are indentured servants, with no free agency until 8 years have passed, the TV money going 80/20 to the owners, an end to signing bonuses, and players have to clean up the stadiums after games.

"These tortures would go on simultaneously, with the judge sitting in a cage affixed to Goodell's and Smith's face. The judges would be Gilbert Gotfried (for Smith) and Larry the Cable Guy (for Goodell)."

Sounds good to me.

What would your Room 101 be?

And don't say you know mine.

It is NOT an NFL season without Brett Favre.

Really, it's not.

No chance.

I'm always lurking in the mailbag, on Twitter and Facebook.

Onward...

Jordan of Madison noted ESPN.com's ranking of the NFL's top 10 defensive players and writes: I think the people who didn't rank Ndamukong Suh from the Detroit Lions in the top ten defenders couldn't have seen him play. When the season's over, where do you think he'll end up ranked? I'm a hardcore Packers fan and even I think he'll be in contention for DPOY.

Kevin Seifert: Thanks for the question, Jordan. It was my turn this week to write the global Power Rankings post, so I didn't get a chance to address the NFC North angle as much as I would have liked.

Suh appeared on five of the eight ballots, including mine, and finished No. 11 overall and only two points out of the top 10. I thought Suh deserved to be on the list after seeing him play this season. But even if you didn't see him play, you should remember he was one of two first-team All-Pros at his position in the entire league.

I was able to get Suh comfortably on my list because I made a point of valuing pass rushers over pass defenders. For that reason, cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Charles Woodson didn't make my cut, nor did safety Ed Reed. Based on this value system, at least, I can't think of a better alternative than an interior disruptor like Suh who has the skills to finish off plays and end a season with 10-plus sacks.

I imagine the only hesitation among my fellow voters was that Suh has only one year's experience. There is no reason to think his performance will fall off, but some people like to see elite-level production for more than one year. Regardless, I doubt we're having this conversation next year. Suh's skills, and the continuing growth of the Lions' defensive line, makes that a pretty safe bet.


Dave of Minneapolis writes: What is your take on Mayor Coleman's stadium plan? I understand it is not liked by anybody really except St. Paul, but I think it addresses the needs of all of the current stadium issues in the Twin Cities. It seems like the most sensible approach (he sure did put St. Paul in front of everybody else though). The St. Paul Saints need a new facility the most.

Kevin Seifert: It might make sense in theory, but the reality is it's merely political cover and not something that would ever be accepted in the territorial political system of Minnesota. That's why I didn't write much on it this week.

It's true. St. Paul residents would be on the hook for a disproportionate amount of the tax increase that would help pay for the Minnesota Vikings' new stadium. But they would get no direct benefit, considering the stadium would be located 10 miles away in suburban Arden Hills. Coleman figures to face some backlash on that issue, so he had to come up with some kind of response that would demonstrate he was looking out for his constituents.

And to me, that's the main thrust of Coleman's proposal. It shifts the tax burden off St. Paul for the Vikings stadium, instead calling for a state-wide two-cent booze tax. Connecting alcohol and football is funny and perhaps darkly appropriate, but it's totally random from a political sense. Why should someone having a glass of wine be singled out to pay for a football stadium?

More good news if you live in St. Paul: It would create an entertainment monopoly for St. Paul's Xcel Center by shuttering Minneapolis' Target Center. It would also squeeze $27 million money to build a new baseball stadium for the independent St. Paul Saints.

So yes, ending the competition between the Target Center and Xcel Center makes some sense. And there's nothing wrong with building a small baseball stadium for the Saints. But Coleman has to know there is no reality inherent in this proposal.

The biggest problem of the Minneapolis-St. Paul sports market is that it has been developed with total disregard for the big picture and global vision. Coleman's plan is no less territorial, even if it is disguised as a global vision. Similar proposals help explain why the Twin Cities market, which includes the University of Minnesota, has two football stadiums, five basketball/hockey arenas and two outdoor ballparks for baseball. Enough already.


Eric of Minneapolis writes: Has the NFLPA (or leaders of the former NFLPA) told the players to shut up yet? Between Adrian Peterson's "slavery" comments and Ray Lewis' crime spree suggestions, the players are looking like idiots. Granted, they do this a lot, but when they speak to the lockout like this, they rarely help their cause.

Kevin Seifert: I'm pretty sure owners weaved the anticipation of such statements into their lockout strategy. Whenever you have people speaking out of their expertise, which is what football players talking about social issues qualifies as, you're bound to see some outlandish rhetoric revealed.

But I will say I haven't noticed much lasting impact from these incidents. The public isn't turning on players because a few of them have spoken out. Players don't appear to be splintering because a few of them have said embarrassing things. The real focus is on whether the players can stay unified in the face of lost game checks. If players start speaking out on that issue, then they've got trouble.


Via Twitter, @tonymission notes our recent Have at It discussion and wonders why I didn't account for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in a debate about which receiver, the Packers' Randall Cobb or the Detroit Lions' Titus Young, would have a more productive rookie season: The Lions aren't exactly an offensive juggernaut. playing W/#12 cant hurt

Kevin Seifert: Limited by 140 characters, my initial response was that there is still only one ball. Whether the Packers are quarterbacked by Rodgers or backup Matt Flynn, Cobb will still be competing with Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley and perhaps James Jones for opportunities.

And you might not realize it, but the Lions actually threw 92 more passes than the Packers last season. Typically you throw more when you're losing, but the Lions definitely have a pass-first offense.

There's no doubt the quality of a quarterback impacts the production of a receiver, but the Lions are more proficient and ambitious than you're suggesting.


Earlier this week, we discussed the Chicago Bears as a possible landing spot for soon-to-be-freed receiver Plaxico Burress. In a comment, stan994 wrote: "Though the Bears could use someone of such size to help out their receiving corps, it will never happen. The Bears ownership does not like off-field incidents and Burress has too much of that. They got rid of Tank Johnson due to off-field reasons. They got rid of Cedric Benson for off-field reasons. It is very clear that ownership will not tolerate certain behavior and Burress certainly has crossed those lines."

Kevin Seifert: There are perhaps a half-dozen reasons why Burress to the Bears seems unlikely, and this is one of them. Another is the Bears' seemingly cemented philosophy of avoiding big-name receivers after the failure of free agent acquisition Muhsin Muhammad and the departure of Bernard Berrian.

I'm quite sure the Bears will be tossed into in the public discussion next week when Burress is released. But I agree with stan994. It's hard to envision a scenario where it happens.

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