Welcome everyone. These are some explosive times in the NFL. I'm sure we'll have some questions about the Gregg Williams situation. Let's get to it.
Have you heard things like that from tothers like from Williams?
That's a good question. I think in some ways anyone who's been around football have heard these kind of passionate remarks, in terms of hitting an opponent as hard as they can and make sure they think about the next play. It's not uncommon for coaches to make speeches about being aggressive and make players aware of opposing players who have injuries coming into the game. What is uncommon, and unethical, is instructing players to target areas with intent to injure. That's foreign to what I know.
But having red faced coaches screaming about hitting players as hard as you can is common.
were you surprised?
It's not clear to me the circumstances of the taping. I understand it was for a movie production, but it's not clear to me that Williams knew it was being recorded or that Williams knew it would be released if it were recorded. I think there are issues to untangle there.
Are you surprised that a player didn't stand up to Williams? If he's asking his players to do this, how do they know other coaches aren't trying to hurt them?
That's a great question. I think, to me, the real intriguing part of this is how it impacts the players' defense. We have yet to hear how the players are going to be disiciplined for their actions in this. My sense from earlier on is that the players are going to defend themselves with the "my coach made me do it" defense and place the emphasis on what they did on their work ethic from when they were young to listening to and obeying their coach. In a round about way, I think this evidence will have a strong impact from the players when their suspensions and appeals come out, probably in the next week or two.
Have you heard anything about the appeals from yesterday? Think anything will comeo ut of that?
I put the appeals under the category "it doesn't hurt to ask." NFL Security spent hours and hours with Payton, Loomis, Vitt and perhaps others in the organization and they had time to respond to the allegations. So it's unlikely for anything new to come out. In my mind yesterday was not to defend what they did, but to appeal to the severity of their punishment to past precedent. However, past precedent probably won't matter much to Gooddell as this struck at the heart of competitive integrity and player safety. Moreover, they lied to the league over the course of a three year investigation.
What I think will be their defense will be throwing Gregg Williams under the bus, as we heard comments from one of the lawyers that he was a rogue coach. He was operating on his own. I think that's a glimpse into the appeal. Having said that, I think the appeal will be unsuccessful.
Do you think it was a mistake by the NFLPA for not making the francise tag a bigger issue in the past CBA negotiations?
I do. But I understand why they didn't. The feeling is that it only effected 15-20 players a year out of a constituency of a few hundred. Due to the fact that the tag is now lower than in the past and is allowed to have repeated use, as a way to bring the negotiation parameters down a notch.
I think it had an effected on the Matt Forte negotiations. Marshawn Lynch. My most recent column for ESPN.com addresses this.
I see a division of offense and defense players on this. A lot of former and current players on defense are defending the actions of the Saints. Does this make any sense at all?
The NFLPA is in a difficult position. They have to defend the players who were being targeted as well as the players doing the targeting. This is some ways similar to when Goodell stepped up the penalties for violent hits and we saw a division of offensive and defensive players. Ultimately, this is the wrong time and wrong place to question stepped up enforcement for injuries. We are smack in the middle of hundreds of players suing for concussion related damages and there are bigger issues at stake here than players questioning these penalties. We'll see what's ahead, but there will be no sympathy for players who feel they're being singled out for their actions.
did you ever think we'd have a story top Tebow then Manning?
One quick comment on Peyton Manning, in this age of athletes saying "it was not about the money" -- to me that always meant it was all about the money. But this is one situation where I truly believe it's not about the money. He could have made more with teams like the Seahawks, Dolphins, Titans and he chose where he wanted to go because of the money. That contract is essentially a one year, $18 million contract with all other money tied to performance. I give him enormous credit.
As for Tebow, what was interesting to me was the whole backstory to that trade that involved the Jets being unwilling to pay back the advance to the Broncos that was a part of the contract. To make a long story short, that become a negotiation within the negotiation where ultimately the Jets paid back half of the amount, after the Broncos went back to the Jaguars to see how much they would pay. As with everything with Tim Tebow, there was high intrigue to that transaction.
Is it possible by appealing, the penalties can get more severe?
That's a good question. I would say it's possible, but extremely unlikely. This is an appeal of the imposed sactions, rather than a re-examination of the facts. I think at worst the suspensions will all stand. And, I think that will be the likely result.
If you're Drew Bress' agent, are you increasing your demands by the minute?
My sense is the Saints are trying to keep their focus on the football side and the actual negotiations and not get swayed by public opinion. Having said that, I think we're at the same place we have been. Drew Brees' camp is looking at the Manning contract with the Colts from 8 months ago that was $23 million per year. They're looking at the Manning contract from two weeks ago for a guy that didn't play last year. The Saints are in the range of 18 million. That's potentially a 5-million per year gap. I think we'll end up in the 20 million range.
How long do you think we'll keep talking about the Williams bounty stuff?
This has put a dark cloud over the Saints and the league. I think it's likely we'll have a decision on the appeal by the end of the day. Then I think it will be implemented. The suspensions will be begin. Obviously, the league has it's most exciting offseason event in a few weeks in the draft, which will hopefully, for their sake, take the discussion off of bounties and on to Andrew Luck, RGIII and the exciting new crop of players coming in. In some sense it's better than if this would have happened in May where no major offseason event was approaching.
But with a 10-year CBA in place and TV contracts following, the NFL is in a good place. Moving forward from this and on to another chapter is in their best interest.
Thanks for everyone. I'm sorry it's been a few weeks. Hopefully things have been slowing a bit and I'll be with you at least every couple of weeks, if not more. Today at 3 p.m. ET, Outside the Lines will have a panel to discuss these issues. I'll be on there. Follow me on Twitter: @ADBrandt and on ESPN.com.