NFL Nation: Pat Hanlon

The New York Giants look good for letting season-ticket holders defer payments until the labor situation is resolved.

This admirable gesture toward fans also qualifies as an exercise in practicality and possibly even a smart marketing strategy.

The Giants, unlike other teams, don't have to worry about selling out their stadium. They've got a long list of personal seat license (PSL) holders who, by definition, already agreed to purchase tickets.

The San Francisco 49ers, by comparison, have no PSL holders or even a true club section at antiquated Candlestick Park.

So, while most teams felt compelled to implement ticket policies before the lockout, the Giants were in no rush. Once the lockout was under way, they were correct to acknowledge it when putting together their ticket policy. But that doesn't necessarily make them holier than the rest of the league.

"The way we are doing things isn't an indictment on how anyone else is doing business," Giants vice president Pat Hanlon said Wednesday. "We have a very unusual set of circumstances here and are just trying to do what is best for the Giants and for our fans, many of whom have been with us for generations."

Giants fans opting to defer the usual May 1 invoice payment still authorize the team to charge their credit cards once the labor situation is resolved. Those fans benefit by holding onto their money longer, and the Giants maintain what was most important to them -- the commitment itself. A deferment could even serve as a promotion of sorts if a team were courting new customers otherwise reluctant to commit during a lockout. Again, the commitment is what matters.

Why aren't other teams extending the same courtesy? Most of their stadium situations are less favorable. And, as noted, most announced their ticket policies some time ago. That's why the Giants aren't gloating about their policy.

The 49ers are allowing season-ticket holders to spread out payments in five installments running deep into the summer. The Seattle Seahawks also have a five-installment plan. The St. Louis Rams have a six-payment plan and, in some cases, won't be collecting money before June.

XLV: The festering team photo issue

January, 29, 2011
Well, well, well. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that, after the wild season we’ve had in the NFC North, we would have a bizarre exchange among Green Bay Packers players during the bye weekend that bridges the two weeks of hype for Super Bowl XLV.

In case you skipped or otherwise boycotted the blog last week, you know that a mini tempest developed when the 15 members of the Packers’ injured reserve list realized they would not be included in the official team photograph next week. Ultimately, coach Mike McCarthy -- with some urging from his team captains, of which quarterback Aaron Rodgers is one -- adjusted next week’s schedule to include them.

McCarthy made clear that he wasn’t happy with linebacker Nick Barnett and tight end Jermichael Finley for initiating the public portion of the drama. Now we have reason to wonder if at least some players feel the same way.

Saturday, Rodgers went out of his way to point out that some of the Packers’ injured players left the team for portions of the season to conduct off-site rehabilitation, a not-uncommon occurrence based on my experience. Barnett and Finley are known to be two of them, and Barnett responded with a series of angry tweets before deleting most of them and claiming he would quit Twitter altogether as a result.

You can watch Rodgers’ entire interview on the Packers web site. First, here is the exact question he was responding to:

"Do you feel for the IR guys -- I’m not even talking about the photo flap thing -- just that they are not able to take part in this?"

Rodgers’ full response: "Well, I’ll say this. I was on IR back in 2006, and I chose to stick around and finish out the season with my guys and be here every game. Some of those guys didn’t. And so, we love them, we care about them, we don’t wish injury on anybody, but this is a group of guys that’s really come together and has been great to work with. It’s been great to work with the guys we brought in midseason, some of them, and the young guys. Some of the guys who were injured, you know, they are still part of this team, but some of them didn’t choose to stick around."

According to Jason Wilde of, here is the content of Barnett’s since-deleted tweets:

"Well looks like people have something to say about where some people choose to do there rehab. Try rehabing with 16 others then 53 more … Doubt you get the full attention needed.. It's easy to speak about others when you are not in their position. Talk about 'union' ha."

Barnett's final tweet, which is still public, reads in part: "All I wanted to be is included as a teammate nothing more. Looks like it has back fired on me. ... That was asking too much... Sorry if I offended anyone.. That was not my intention."

Aside from giving reporters and bloggers something to write about during these long two weeks, the true thrust of this issue has been whether it would serve as a legitimate distraction for a team preparing to play in the Super Bowl. That hardly seemed possible when all of the players involved were ineligible to play in the game. But now it's clear that at least one player, and a prominent one at that, has spent part of his week thinking about it as well.

By noting that some players had done their rehabilitation elsewhere, Rodgers is implying a level of hypocrisy on the part of Barnett and Finley. In other words: Being a part of the team didn’t matter that much when they were rehabbing, but it did when the teammates they left behind got to the Super Bowl.

Technically, Rodgers might have a point. But is it one worth making eight days away from the Super Bowl? You read the question above. No one led Rodgers into that answer. If anything, he was looking for a way to get it on the record.

At the very least, Rodgers’ comment threw fresh blood into the water as the world’s media is descending on Texas. It is already drawing attention and some concern. When New York Times football reporter Judy Battista re-tweeted one of Barnett’s missives, New York Giants public relations chief Pat Hanlon fired back with this blunt piece of advice: "Fellas, put a lid on it...go play the game...hash this [expletive] out in private. Enough."

Meanwhile, Eric Stangel, the head writer for the "Late Show with David Letterman," offered this "exclusive" first look at the Packers' team photo.

Longtime readers of this blog know I've written plenty of nice things about Rodgers over the years. I've got another such post ready to go Sunday morning. And as a member of the media, I'm always supportive of anyone who speaks their mind and tells the truth. But I have to admit I'm surprised Rodgers shoved this issue back on the front burner. Knowing how the media works, I don’t think it can be pushed back to the back now.

Has NFL appeased Giants and Jets?

March, 15, 2010
After a day of confusion regarding the first regular-season game in the new Meadowlands stadium, the league has announced a solution. Both the New York Giants and New York Jets will host a game in the new stadium on opening weekend. The Giants will play Sunday, Sept. 12, and the Jets will host a game on Monday, Sept. 13.

"After extensive discussions with both teams, we have come up with what we believe is a unique approach for celebrating the opening of the new Meadowlands Stadium," said commissioner Roger Goodell.

It brought a quick end to what was becoming an embarrassing story for the league. The New York Daily News reported Monday that the league conducted a secret coin flip to decide which team got first dibs to the stadium -- and the Giants won. Jets owner Woody Johnson was reportedly (and understandably) upset about the league's approach.

It looks like Goodell scrambled to find a more equitable -- or "unique" -- solution. The Giants will still get the first crack at the new stadium, but the Jets will make their regular-season debut in prime time. I don't think the Jets will be completely satisfied with going second, but this is a logical solution to a messy situation. You have to love that the most outspoken P.R. man in the league, the Giants' Pat Hanlon, made the following statement:

"We look forward to playing the first regular-season game ever in the new stadium," said Hanlon. "We have a great new home, and it's right next door to Giants Stadium, a building that housed our three Super Bowl championship teams. We look forward to building the same legacy for our new stadium, and it starts on Sept. 12."

Hanlon's obviously pulling out the ol' sharp stick. The only time the Jets and Giants both opened the season in Giants Stadium was in 1991.

In the whole scheme of things, this is not that big of a story. But the league certainly has egg on its face for conducting a coin flip that apparently neither team was invited to observe. Does that make any sense to you guys? The Jets' official Web site had reported that the league might hold the coin flip at the stadium to create even more interest. But apparently that idea was trumped in favor of a more intimate gathering.

Now I'm just waiting to see if the Jets' P.R. staff responds to Hanlon's jab.