|Dorsey Levens on D&C: NFL rule change prohibiting leading with helmet ‘a great idea’||03.21.13 at 10:12 am ET|
Former NFL running back Dorsey Levens checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to discuss the league’s new rule change that prohibits ball-carriers from lowering the crown of their helmets outside of the tackle box.
The hope is that the rule change will prevent concussions and other serious injuries.
“A lot really depends on the defender,” Levens said. “If you’re a running back, see him coming in full speed, sometimes you have to protect yourself. Sometimes guys use your head as a weapon, because if you’re running full speed and the guy tries to wrap you up with your arms, and he catches the crown of your helmet, he could break his arm. Guys know that, which is why running backs use the lowering of the head as a weapon down the field. But, I understand the rule change and there’s going to be some more coming down the pipe.”
While some current and former NFL players have spoken out against the rule, Levens sees both sides and agrees with a lot of what commissioner Roger Goodell is trying to do.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Levens said. “Like I said, it all goes back to safety, and that’s the priority. … I think the smaller, more shifty backs never really lowered their heads anyway. Other guys, the bigger guys know that they could use that crown as a weapon over the guys who don’t like it as much. But the big guy likes it, like [Brandon] Jacobs.”
Levens played in the league for 11 years, spending the majority and most successful part of his career with the Packers, and he understands the thinking of running backs who want to lead with their head.
“What happens is, it’s kind of instinctive especially within that three- to five-yard area.” Levens said, adding: “On third-and-1, or fourth-and-1, a lot of times if you don’t put your head down you’re not going to get the first down, and guys understand that. If you need that one yard, guys are going to do whatever it takes, and that helmet will get people out of your way faster than anything else. But again, if guys on the defensive side were just as willing and able to put that head down and meet you head on, and I think that’s the concern because if the defensive guy and offensive guy do it, and they hit crown to crown, that’s when the serious neck injuries come in.”
|Patriots owner Robert Kraft 12th most powerful in sports, according to Sports Illustrated||03.06.13 at 12:30 pm ET|
Patriots owner Robert Kraft was named the 12th most powerful person in sports by Sports Illustrated in the March 11 issue of the magazine.
According to SI:
Kraft, 71, made himself invaluable to the NFL with his work on its broadcast, finance and compensation committees. And as an owner trusted by players, his consensus-building and shuttle diplomacy were keys to resolving the 2011 lockout.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is ranked No. 1, ahead of NBA commissioner David Stern and AEG owner Philip Anschutz (investor in multiple teams and arenas). ESPN president John Skipper and MLB commissioner Bud Selig round out the top five.
No other Boston personalities are ranked in the magazine’s top 50 list. SI also did top-10 lists for each of the major sports leagues. In the NFL list, Kraft is second to Goodell, while Patriots coach Bill Belichick ranks eighth. In the NBA list, Celtics coach Doc Rivers is eighth. Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs in included in the NHL top 10, which is not ranked.
|Roger Goodell talks player safety, faces critics at Harvard School of Public Health||11.16.12 at 12:43 am ET|
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke for nearly an hour about player safety and concussions Thursday at the Harvard School of Public Health, and he faced some tough critics in the process.
Throughout his speech, Goodell spoke of the measures the league has taken to improve safety and why the NFL has set a good example for the other sports, but he was questioned heavily by those on hand afterwards.
Audience members pointed to the proposed 18-game schedule in the last CBA negotiations and the league’s Thursday night games as examples as to how the commissioner and the league may be doing what’s in the owners’ best interests rather than focusing on the players’ safety.
One question fielded by the commissioner came from an audience member who noted that the Ravens had to play four games in 17 days, and that in the process the team lost such star players as Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb.
Goodell responded by saying to be careful of “drawing conclusions without facts.”
“Is that really what’s causing the injury? Did that cause Ray Lewis’ arm injury?” Goodell said. “The fact is we have to look at the data and the results and see, is there a higher frequency of injuries? We have not seen that.”
Goodell added that most players he has spoken to like having the Thursday night games because of how light their workload is practice-wise in the days leading up to them. He also cited the extra time off between games as a reason as to why players have welcomed the addition of more Thursday night games.
“The reaction, while always mixed, has been quite positive on the players’ standpoint,” he said. “Also, we have not seen anything in our injury data that would indicate [that players are at a greater risk because of Thursday games]. If we did, we would certainly evaluate that.”
During his speech, Goodell pointed to Alex Smith, Jay Cutler and Michael Vick all leaving their games this week with concussion symptoms as a sign that players and teams are getting better at handling the issue of concussions. That was later refuted by an audience member who pointed out that though Smith left that game against the Rams eventually, he stayed in after taking a hit from Jo-Lonn Dunbar and threw a touchdown pass with blurred vision.
“The players were taken out when they developed symptoms,” Goodell said. “If they don’t tell medical professionals that they’re getting symptoms, it’s difficult to tell. If we see an impact that he’s showing symptoms, then we’ll take him out of the game. In addition, we need teammates to be able to say, ‘This guy’s not right. Something’s wrong. He needs to be evaluated,’ and get him off the field.”
|Opinion: Blame Roger Goodell, owners for replacement disaster||09.24.12 at 1:46 am ET|
That’s the only reason you, me and 15 million others had to watch replacement officials do everything possible to screw up what should have been a terrific football game on Sunday night.
This is only about billionaire owners not wanting to lose a fight to referees, plain and simple. Follow the money and all that. We can knock Roger Goodell all day about this — and plenty of it is justified, to be sure — but if the owners told Goodell tomorrow to make a deal, Goodell would make a deal.
But that’s not going to happen. As hideous as the replacement officials were on Sunday night — players fighting after plays with no flags thrown, 24 accepted penalties for 215 yards and 13 first downs, botched holding and pass interference calls, utterly and completely overwhelmed refs who seemingly were intimidated by coaches and players, total amateur hour — it won’t change what really matters to Goodell and the owners.
Ratings aren’t going anywhere, which means money for the networks, which will eventually mean more money for the NFL. We know now that player safety and the integrity of the game don’t mean nearly as much as making every last dollar of profit. And no one is going to stop watching games and paying for Sunday Ticket and gambling on games and playing fantasy football. From a strictly financial perspective, where is the motivation to make a deal with the refs?
I get that it’s a business, I really do. No problem there. But don’t try, as Goodell as done over the last couple of years, to sell me on the idea that player safety is paramount. It’s not. Concussions only landed on Goodell’s radar because of lawsuits. Fear of losing money was the motivation. And now the chance to save some money is why you’ve got Division 3 officials looking like Division 3 officials every Sunday. Has “protecting the shield” ever seemed more disingenuous than it did on Sunday night?
Don’t blame the replacement officials, either. It’s not their fault that owners want to make the very best deal possible — quality of the product be damned — or that the regular officials want to continue their defined-benefit pension plan (the league wants to put a freeze on that plan and shift them over to a 401(k)).
|Drew Brees reminds us one more time: ‘No one can replace Sean Payton’||08.09.12 at 5:38 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It’s the question that will hover over the Saints all season. How will they do without their head coach all season?
Thanks to the one-year suspension handed down to their head coach Sean Payton and a six-game suspension to Joe Vitt – who is serving as interim head coach in camp – the Saints are about to head out into unchartered waters.
Not even the 2007 Patriots had sanctions like this to deal with after “Spygate.”
“First of all, nobody can replace Sean Payton,” Drew Brees said Wednesday, a day before their preseason contest with the Patriots at Gillette. “We do our best. I feel like we built a solid foundation here thanks to Sean with the type of assistant coaches we have, the type of players, the type of leadership we have so you do the best you can.
I still don’t have all the answers, none of us do, in regards to how exactly this thing is going to work, especially once Coach Vitt – who has been our interim head coach in essence – when he serves his suspension, who’s going to be in essence our head coach. All those things are to be determined.”
The unwritten words there are: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has really put it to the Saints and penalized players who were caught in the cross-fire of a scandal that is still being fought by linebacker Jonathan Vilma in the courts.
Brees is the same person who was quoted last week as saying “no one trusts Roger Goodell.”
“As you go through camp, that’s the time to establish your identity, see who steps up, see how it’s all going to fit. Everyone finds their role and then you go out within your role and do your job, as Sean Payton would say and then the rest takes care of itself.
“I’m anxious. I was anxious to get into training camp, as all of us were, just to get on the field and get playing football again, because that’s what we do, that’s what we get paid to do and that’s what we love to do. And it just eliminates so many of the distractions we’ve had to deal with this offseason.”
Safe to say, Brees and the Saints feel they have a point to prove in the 2012 season. And it begins with the preseason.
|Five Thoughts on the Jets, Tim Tebow, Sean Payton and the Saints||03.21.12 at 2:15 pm ET|
Five thoughts on an absolutely crazy afternoon in the NFL:
1. From a football perspective, the Jets’ decision to acquire Tim Tebow makes very little sense. (In truth, it’s one borne out of a desperate front office, hoping to retake the back pages of the New York tabloids after seeing the crosstown Giants win two Super Bowls in five years.) The Jets recently gave starting quarterback Mark Sanchez a three-year extension after losing out on Peyton Manning, a move designed to provide Sanchez with some sort of comfort — a confidence booster designed to tell the world that come hell or high water, No. 6 was their man. And they follow it up by creating an absolutely no-win situation for him — the first time Sanchez stumbles, the cries for Tebow will start. The Jets have guaranteed themselves a quarterback controversy even before training camp starts.
2. So you have Tim Tebow — what exactly do you do with him? New Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano was the man who helped bring the Wildcat to South Florida when he was head coach of the Dolphins, and you have to figure that’s what he has in store with the acquisition of Tebow. It’s also not like the Jets and Rex Ryan aren’t familiar with the Wildcat package, as they used it extensively in 2010 with Brad Smith. According to Pro Football Focus, Smith was the best Wildcat quarterback in the NFL that year, as Smith ran the ball from the wildcat 30 times for 212 yards and a touchdown, an average of 7.1 yards per run. (Half the time he handed the ball off, and the Jets other rushers had 4.0 yards per carry and a touchdown.) Per PFF, in Week 17 of the 2010 season against the Bills, when the Jets had their playoff spot secured, they used him at QB 13 times, and in those plays he managed runs of 20 and 40 yards.
3. What does this mean for the Patriots? Wildcat package or not, with the exception of one quarter — the first quarter of the regular-season game where Tebow and the Broncos ran up 224 yards and 16 points the first three times they had the ball — the Patriots have done a very good job of defending Tebow over the course of his relatively brief professional career. In two games against New England (one regular-season start and one playoff start, both last year), Tebow is 20-for-48 for 338 yards, with no touchdowns and no interceptions. In addition, he has 17 carries for 106 yards and two touchdowns. As for big picture analysis on what this might mean for the Jets’ offense as a whole, while they will still throw the ball with regularity, expect New York to use more gadget plays on the ground, and that includes the Wildcat. (One think to remember — the Patriots were occasionally vulnerable to gadget plays last season, as both the Broncos and Redskins used them against New England, with varied levels of success.)
|Michael Lombardi on D&C: ‘There’s a sense of arrogance on the part of the Saints’||03.06.12 at 12:22 pm ET|
NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi made an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to discuss the Saints defense bounty scandal that is rocking the NFL as well as the possible punishments and repercussions that could result from it. In a story on NFL.com Sunday, Lombardi likened the bounty scandal to that of the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon and the White House in the early 1970s. Lombardi elaborated on that idea on air, saying the source of the money for the bounty pools could extend farther than originally thought.
“The bigger issue here is the Bounty-gate stuff, really, it shouldn’t be in place, but the reality is, it’s a cap circumvention as well,” Lombardi said. “Where’s the money coming from? You’ve got Mike Ornstein who is in the building, who’s really not an employee. He’s part of a marketing branch. Are they helping give money to put into the pool? I think it is like Watergate in the sense that if you follow the money, I think you’re going to lead to a trail that’s really not what the commissioner thought initially when he investigated it.”
One of the sticking points of the scandal is that although the team was warned about the practice, it did not stop it. Once Saints owner Tom Benson was reportedly made aware of the bounties, he allegedly told general manager Mickey Loomis to put an end to it, but the team continued to run the bounty system against the wishes of its owner and the league. In the wake of the allegations, many have wondered whether Loomis will be able to remain the general manager job in New Orleans. Lombardi said he doubts Loomis will remain employed by the Saints.
“I was told reliably by somebody intimate in the league office is the only way he keeps his job is if Benson fights for him,” Lombardi said. “And it seems to be, yesterday there was a report coming out of New Orleans that Benson was going to support both Loomis and [coach Sean] Payton.
“I find that hard to believe because if Benson is going to support Loomis, then basically, he’s supporting insubordination. Now he’s saying to everybody in the organization, ‘Don’t listen to what I say. Just do whatever the heck you want to do, because I’m going to keep Loomis in place.’ So I think it’s going to be hard for Mickey to keep his job. I know it’s going to be difficult for him to be able to weather this storm.”
Lombardi also noted that the controversy could be an example for players of how the NFL will punish management wrong-doings in addition to punishing players. The punishments meted out in this scandal will be all the more pertinent because of the recent labor dispute between the players and management that almost led to a lockout this past season.
“This is one of the situations where every player in the league is looking at [Roger] Goodell to see exactly what standard he’s going to utilize in terms of he’s been tough on the players,” Lombardi said. “Let’s see if he’ll be tough on management of the teams. And most players take the attitude of, ‘Well, the owner and the commissioner are in bed together. Therefore they won’t go as hard.’ I think that’s the one thing that’s going to hurt the Saints in this case. Goodell is going to be above and beyond that.”
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