Good to be back. Glad to be making this a weekly visit during the season. Lot going on with the bounties and the refs and so much more as we get going along. Let's get to it. I welcome your questions!
Andrew, you saw the innerworkings of teams for a long time....how much do players really argue? Are we blowing Cutler out of proportion?
Yes and no. I have been around a lot of lockerrooms and gameday situations where players rip into each other. Tongue lashings from QBs are pretty common. We saw one from Aaron Rodgers last night. We've seen many from Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and other star QBs. The difference with Cutler is two things. No. 1, there was a shove. Although, I think shove is too strong a word. Let's call it a bump. That separates it from a "tongue lashing." I think that takes it a bit over the edge. Although, I do think there's been a bit overreaction to it. The second thing is Jay Cutler, frankly, is less likeable than the other names I mentioned. Likeability plays into public perception more than we know it. The same actions from Rodgers, Brady or Manning would have had a much softer public reaction, simply because Jay Cutler either doesn't play well to the public and media and/or doesn't care to do so.
To answer your question, yes it's common and it's also uncommon to see the reaction that we've had today about Cutler's actions last night.
What does it mean that the Steelers and Giants are two of the lowest spending teams over the last 6 years, yet win Super Bowls?
It says to me that money does not correlate to winning in the NFL. That is not to say that high spending necessarily has an inverse relationship to success, it just means that proper management and that the two keys to success - drafting and developing - are more important. The year I was with the Packers and we went to the 2007 NFC title game, we were the lowest spending team in the league. Plus you see teams that are successful in developing their players re-sign them for lower than the market costs. Some teams are unsuccessful because they don't draft well and then overspend on other teams' free agents. My philosophy has always been free agency is a tool for teams that make mistakes drafting. Even when I was in Green Bay, the only reason we pursued Charles Woodson in free agency and paid free agent prices was because a couple of high draft picks at CB in the prior years had failed.
Football has complete interdependency on all sides, so overspending on individual players has limited impact than in baseball and basketball.
What do you think of the Replacement Officials so far in the NFL?
Before my opinion, it seems the opinions have ranged from we're about as good as the real officials to they're the scorge of the universe. My opinion is in the middle, they're doing a credible job, but they're clearly not the level of the regular officials. Ultimately, however, my opinion or any others doesn't really matter. The NFL feels it has made a fair offer and it feels that the replacement officials are doing a credible job, if not an excellent job. More importantly, the NFL feels the games are going on and there has not been that apopalytic mistake that turns to leverage of getting the referees back. I have no inside information on this, but I just feel like the refs will be back for Week 3.
The deal will be closer to what the NFL wants than to what they want.
Can the NHL sustain two lockouts so close and survive?
Here we go again. After the NFL and the NBA, we are on the brink of an NHL lockout. The league's are different, but the issue is the same: the NHL wants its players to make less money. The NHL will use the same words the NFL and NBA used: shared sacrifice, reset of revenues, more equitable distribution of income, etc. But that is all a eupimism for the fact that they want the players to make less so they can make more and they feel they have the leverage to do it.
As to whether the game can sustain another lockout, probably too early to tell, but I do sense from listening to Don Fehr and the players, these players are more invested and more financially prepared than NFL and NBA players to sit out. So, this could take a while. I do think by Sunday we'll have a lockout in the NHL.
Afternoon, Andrew. Seems like there are NFL teams playing exibition games out of the country. From a business standpoint, have they been financially successful?
I think the fact that a team like the Jaguars was so intent on playing multiple games in London shows you what an impact an overseas market can bring. Goodell seems very bullish on spreading football overseas and it's going to make that probably two games every year, rather than one, starting in 2013. I was GM of the Barcelona Dragons 20 years ago and it was quite a challenge to get that market invested in American football, as they cheered at the wrong times, etc. However, we've come a long way since then and markets like England and Germany will be ripe for football. I still have questions about it logistically, as there are so many issues with travel, food and the comforts players have in this country that aren't readily available overseas. So, the answer is I see nothing about a team being placed there this decade, but I see games going from one per year to two to three and probably four by the end of the decade.
Is there any way Vilma could win his defamation lawsuit against Goodell if it ended up going that far?
First, I don't think it will go that far, because we're tied up with these suspensions and hearings and that. If it does get that far, we won't have hearings on the defamation until probably sometime in 2013. Now that you mention it, let's address the bounties....
The immediate issue is the meeting between Goodell and Vilma on Monday and Goodell and the other three on Tuesday. This comes on the heels of the ruling last week, right after my chat, where an appeals panel ruled that Goodell must rethink his discipline. The key to Monday and Tuesday is that Goodell has always expressed an option for the players to have their suspensions reduced by sharing information. Now they have that opportunity, combined with the appeals panel admonishing Goodell on his powers, that could all set the stage for a lessened amount of suspensions for the players.
My final point on this is I hope these meetings happen, but I can't for sure know they will. Goodell and Vilma have tried to have meetings before but they've been canceled, due to parameters set on what can and can't be said. Let's hope we get beyond the lawyering and have those meetings.
So, what prevents a player from appealing a suspension in the future? or even a fine?
Let's make an important distinction. Through the CBA, a player can only appeal to Goodell on league discipline. The appeals panel is an oversight for the cap arbitrator. So when cases go before the cap arbitrator about, well, the cap, that triggers the appeals panel. This was a case brought by the NFLPA about whether Goodell had the power to suspend or not. The arbitrator ruled for Goodell and the PA brought an appeal to the panel. So, to be clear, a player can not bring an appeal to the panel, only the union can and only in a matter already decided by the cap arbitrator about the interpretation of the salary cap.
For instance, the Redskins and Cowboys could have appealed the arbitrator's decision to uphold their penalties earlier this year, but surprisingly, they chose not to appeal.
For those that have asked the bounty ruling is separate from the Cowboys-Redskins ruling.
Any chance Sean Payton could get reinstated due to these appeals rulings?
Again, different situations. The CBA is between the NFL and the NFLPA and the NFLPA does not represent coaches. Therefore Payton does't have the same avenue that the players have. Payton went through the commissioner and that appeal was denied. Goodell did allow, however, a reduction in the the financial penalties if not the suspension.
how come the players didn't meet before when Goodell offered to meet?
I think they know, even with the appeals ruling, their chance for reduced suspensions can only be helped by meeting with Goodell. They know that meeting with Goodell will give him an opportunity to phrase the discipline the way the panel suggested, with, hopefully new information, that Goodell has not heard before. One final note, the backdrop is perhaps settlement discussions. I know both sides are against settling, but to me the fact that they're so against it may mean they'll do it. Stay tuned.
Great questions, as always. I'll be talking exactly about this topic, the bounty rulings, at 3 p.m. ET on OTL. I'm glad we'll make this a weekly visit every Friday. Check out my weekly column on the ESPN.com NFL page. And always follow me on Twitter: @ADBrandt.