NFL greats speak out against illegal guns Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! If you read but one football article today in its entirety (you know, aside from this one), we cannot recommend the following one highly enough.

Former longtime AJC reporter Drew Jubera published a book last year about the storied Valdosta High football program, and in a column for the Times, he explains why his long-held resentment toward football coaches was turned completely around by his experience at Valdosta:

The team’s all-American tight end is the son of a former N.F.L. player whose career was cut short by drug addiction. The father later was shot in the head while he was trying to rip off a street dealer for $5 worth of crack. He survived, put his life back together, and showed up to watch practice every day, cane in one hand, determined that his son would not repeat his mistakes.

Those kinds of stories have become a regular part of the human interest features churned out during the buildup to national championship games and Super Bowls.

But for high school coaches in places like Valdosta, where it all begins, those stories are called Monday.

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Is the NFL the new Phillip Morris?


Suppose you work for Phillip Morris. Er, Altria. Whatever. And suppose you’re making a commercial, highlighting advances in cigarette filter technology. The theme is forever nicotine. The target audience is moms, kids, potential customers, anyone with a sneaking suspicion that smoking might be, you know, bad for them. Crazy, right?

Anyway, you need celebrities. Familiar faces. Names viewers can trust. Like Walt Disney. He was a smoker. As was Paul Newman. And Peter Jennings. Thing is, all three men died of lung cancer. With that in mind, would you still include them—well, actors portraying them, touched up with a little digital magic—in your spot? No? Congratulations. You’re officially less cynical than the NFL…

....When Deion Sanders says on NFL Network that he doesn’t “buy all these guys coming back with these concussions … half these guys are trying to make money off the deal … I wish they’d be honest and tell the truth because it’s keeping kids away from our game,” Goodell could levy a fine. Or maybe pretend to be as upset as he was with BountyGate. When CBS announcer Jim Nantz cites an imaginary statistic that women’s soccer players are 2.5 times more likely to get a concussion than college football players, the NFL’s new-and-improved concussion committee could provide accurate numbers…When concussion expert Dr. Robert Cantu—a senior advisor to the NFL’s new committee—says that children under age 14 shouldn’t play tackle football because their immature bodies and developing brains are particularly vulnerable to injury, the league could concur, and perhaps even lead the way, signaling to concerned parents and a confused public that a multibillion-dollar industry cares about something beyond its public image and publicly-subsidized bottom line.

Whatever your view on the NFL and concussions, can you imagine if Cantu's advice was heeded, and kids didn't play football until they reached the 9th grade?

I think you can safely assume Roger Goodell and the NFL want no part of that nightmare.  Kids would gravitate to other sports, NFL jersey sales would plummet, and MMA (or I suppose baseball, in another universe) might become America's national pastime. 

Scouting the 2013 Draft: Offensive guards

Going into draft season, it’s worth considering that Denver’s interior line remains one quality guard away from their starting five being a seriously dangerous group. Although Manny Ramirez developed some over the last season, he's just average when he’s playing his best, while Chris Kuper has become a big question mark.

I believe Denver needs more than that at right guard. I like Ramirez, but right now he doesn’t scare anyone. If Denver thinks he can become better than he was last year, they might want to take a chance on him.

However, what I’m looking for is the ability to add ferocity to the line, and I love the players who do that. Orlando Franklin was drafted on both his skill and his mean streak. The whole line responded to that toughness. That’s the power of a serious lineman - when he makes the players he’s with better, it changes the entire dynamic of the OL (or DL). That’s what I envision for Denver.

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Further research must precede legalizing use of deer antler fuzz

Recovery remedies worth a look

What struck me, though, was the idea that some banned substances might actually be re-evaluated if indeed they do help with recovery. Commissioner Roger Goodell stresses safety, and he’s right in doing so. Safety is a major topic in the NFL, but shouldn’t recovery be a priority too?

If deer antler spray can make a player recover quicker, should the NFL allow trainers to apply it? As physical as the game of football is, protecting the player is one thing, but getting him back on the field should also be a priority.

Deer antler fuzz as a topical preparation has some benefits - it helps speed muscle repair, and that’s going to draw interest from athletes, both pro and amateur. However, deer antler fuzz has an uncomfortable side effect - it’s a carcinogen.

There is somewhat less absorption into the bloodstream when used topically as opposed to orally, but you still have the same problem, just slightly lessened. It’s still going to get into the bloodstream, and you’re going to see higher rates of cancer among those using it.

Pro athletes are notorious for being willing to accept health issues down the road as a tradeoff for short-term outcomes, but that doesn’t make it an intelligent choice. This is a substance that cries out for further investigation, especially if it’s going to be the next ‘big’ thing in athletic rehabilitation. 

Peterson suffered sports hernia in Week 10 Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In all honesty, I found it difficult, if not impossible, to muster any outrage at Adrian Peterson having beaten out Peyton Manning for league MVP last weekend.

Of course, I agree with TJ's point that even the worst quarterback is roughly equivalent in value to the best running back. In those terms, Peterson over Manning is similar to Miguel Cabrera over Mike Trout in MLB, and I thought that decision was ludicrous.

Perhaps it's because I'm still too busy feeling bitter about Denver's loss to Baltimore and blown opportunity at a Lombardi Trophy.

Whatever the cause, and even if you are upset about the MVP voting, there's some news regarding Peterson that casts his performance as even more incredible than we already knew.

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Could the Broncos create more cap room by reworking Peyton Manning’s contract?

Great question today from reader Helge:

Do you guys believe the Broncos should restructure Manning's contract by converting his base salary to bonuses, and push that money into future years (by adding some dummy years at the end of his current contract)?

One downside would be a big dead money hit when Manning retires, but at that point, the next QB would presumably be relatively cheap.

Helge, it's certainly an option, but one that John Elway & Co. have likely been trying to avoid. Since Elway took over, they've done a great job of not dispersing large piles of Pat Bowlen's cash at any one time, and not mortgaging future cap space for anyone - not even the greatest free agent in history. 

So many franchises during the cap era have been undone by pushing cap hits off into the future. Eventually, you have to pay the cap piper, and that's when things can get ugly.

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Broncos down to $14.1M in cap room Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! A week ago, we speculated that Denver's cap space had slipped to around $15M after allowing for incentives and escalators triggered during the 2012 season.

Turns out our number was a bit optimistic, as according to PFT, the Broncos currently have $14.1M in available room, which is down from the $18.5M they had just a month ago.

To be crystal clear, this is a 2013 figure, meaning anyone schedule for unrestricted or restricted free agency is not included on the Denver payroll. Re-signing any or all of Brandon Stokley, Tony Carter, Britton Colquitt, Mitch Unrein, Justin Bannan, Kevin Vickerson, David Bruton, Dan Koppen, and Jason Hunter will eat away at that $14.1M figure.

Re-signing Ryan Clady or applying the franchise tender to him (very likely to occur) would swallow the majority of it.

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The most Jay Cutler thing ever

A Heart-Warming Tale of Jay Cutler Romance

“It was so silly. I was in the airport, leaving Chicago,” Cavallari said. “We had just spent however many days together and we were texting and somehow it came up, like, ‘Oh, shall we get married?’ We’re like, ‘Yeah, OK.’ And then he sent my ring in the mail. So I actually had my ring sitting at home for a couple of weeks before I put it on.”

I could totally see Cutler dropping a wedding ring in a small empty envelope, slapping a stamp on it and dropping it in a mailbox. “Will it get there? Whatevs, I could get another. No big whoop.” To Cutty’s credit, at least he knew the woman wanted to marry him before sending her a ring in the mail. Take notes, Roy Williams.

Ah, love...

Lombardi: Broncos could pursue Ed Reed or Steven Jackson

Broncos may still move Franklin inside Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As we dive into the 2013 offseason, it's always helpful to be reminded of some of the procedural rules coming into play.

First up is the waiver rule, and this is relevant because almost every article about Detroit's dumping of Titus Young inaccurately describes the move as a release or cut. The problem with that wording is it suggests Young is a free agent who could sign with any team, and that just isn't the case.

As a player with less than four years' service time, Young instead had to be placed through waivers. This is why the Seahawks won't be able to cut Russell Wilson and give him a raise, as some had suggested could happen. He'd have to be waived, and obviously, that would result in him becoming the Chiefs' next starting quarterback.

In Young's case, the Rams were the only team to put in a claim, and he's now their property, rookie contract and all.

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