Good Morning, Broncos fans! Two more groups of ex-players have filed suit against the NFL regarding its handling of head injuries, including HOFer Leroy Kelly, former Broncos first-round pick Ashley Lelie and perhaps most interestingly, NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger. At some point, Baldinger is going to speak up about his experiences, and the NFL and their network are going to have a delicate situation on their hands.
In related news, the Sports Legacy Institute, which is led by Chris Nowinksi and collaborates with Boston University in studying the effects of CTE, is suggesting that the number of blows to the head suffered by youth football players be tracked. Says Nowinski:
We have to find a solution for the children, who are most at risk, and the guidelines will help us get there...We have to recognize the (physiological) differences. They're not little men, they're children.
We'll have to have the guts to put down a number on paper and say, 'This is a rational goal. This is what kids should be under.'We're not anti-football. But we are pro-child.
Thurday's AP article which focused on players' injuries recalled for Times Op-Ed writer Joe Nocera an article written 36 years ago by Clark Booth - as Nocera tells it, that piece was the first to honestly address the long-term health consequences facing players. Former Cowboys TE Jean Fugett talks of crying when his own son accepted a football scholarship, and he suggests that tackle football not be played before high school.
Tim Tebow is wearing jeans in his new print ad for Jockey
Despite all the hype Tebow is bringing Jockey this week, the front of the company’s website features two unknown models (one of whom looks like a less-sour version of the lady from “Gray’s Anatomy”) engaged in some light sparring. If I’m paying Tebow the big bucks, I’m putting him on every page of that site and letting him model everything, whether it be tightie-whities, boxers, briefs, socks, ladies activewear or sports bras.
I've got nothing...
Broncos' John Elway hires new cap guru Mike Sullivan
The Broncos did not renew the contract of Mike Bluem, their longtime capologist, and replaced him with Mike Sullivan, who oversaw Octagon Sports agency football division, and has been negotiating player contracts for the past 25 years.
Bluem had been with the Broncos for 17 seasons working closely with general managers Ted Sundquist, Jim Goodman and Brian Xanders.
Sullivan created the option bonus — which is really a second signing bonus — and one-time playing time bonus in player contracts. They are now common part of the more lucrative NFL contracts, including almost every first-round draft pick.
One has to wonder what Elway thinks of Brian Xanders, as Elway continues to change the front office personnel structure surrounding the X Man.
Being knocked out in a football game is not a painful event at impact. It is a dimensional vacuum through an extremely narrow wormhole. It is a piano falling on your head in the middle of your recital. It’s a system reboot. My adrenaline was always too high to feel the pain of a hit, anyway. When I came to, I didn’t know where I was. You’re lying on the grass, Nate. The crowd is roaring. But what are they roaring about? Oh, yes, it’s for you. You got knocked out. Yay! His brain is bleeding!
Even in my cranial reboot phase, I knew that at that moment, they’d be replaying the hit in slow motion. I also knew that my mother was watching back in California. And I knew that Greek was holding my head and neck. So I started moving around my legs and arms to let my family know I wasn’t paralyzed.
And hard booze found its way into the lemonade in my Dixie cup. I approached our team doctor as the flight closed in on Denver and asked him if he could give me something for the pain. He said the best he could do was one Vicodin and one muscle relaxer. “Really, Doc? That’s it? You’re gonna make me hit the streets for this one?”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Friday that NFL Network will air 13 games during the 2012 season.
Goodell said NFL Network will expand its current eight-game “Thursday Night Football” package starting in Week 2 and running through Week 15.
Man, it sure will be interesting in a few years when the NFL goes to a 24-game schedule with three-day turnarounds and 48 teams across four continents, right? As Bart Scott would say, CAN'T WAIT.*
Happy Friday Broncos fans! Several notable ex-players who are suing the league for its handling of head injuries during their careers spoke to the AP about their experiences. Among them was former Broncos RB Tony Dorsett, who rightly thinks the league should provide retirement healthcare for players:
"Yeah, I understand you paid me to do this, but still yet, I put my life on the line for you, I put my health on the line," Dorsett says. "And yet when the time comes, you turn your back on me? That's not right. That's not the American way."
"They were hitting me, and I'd be squealing like a pig," Dorsett says, imitating the guttural sound. "It was so bad that the other team was telling our coaches, 'Get him out of the game.' You know that something's wrong then. And like a fool, I stayed as long as I could. They're going to our sideline, telling our coaches, 'Get him out of the game!' ... You know it's bad when the opposition feels sorry for you."
"The owners need to own up to it, own up to what the game does to human lives. There's a zillion football players in the same situation with their brains, their backs, their knees. Come on. They just need to own up to it, and do something about it. They've got money they can put in funds to take care of guys when they need to help," Dorsett says. "We need health insurance for life. Paid by the NFL. No question in my mind, we definitely need that."
"They use you up. No matter what the circumstances are, it's all about winning games, football games, regardless. And they don't care, because they figure, you know, 'We got, you know, replacement factories,' which are colleges. And there's going to be somebody else to eventually come along and fill that void," he says. "So they just put you out there, and feed you to the wolves. And if you make it through, fine. If you don't, that's fine.
Dorsett frames the NFL's reluctance to care for its ex-players as being un-American. But that's too narrow a point, for this is not about American values. It's about humanity.
Tim Tebow dwarfs Joe Montana at Super Bowl
Joe Montana sat on a director’s chair conducting an interview right in the heart of Radio Row here at Super Bowl XLVI.
He was, somehow, all but ignored. Five feet away sat the center of attention, the quarterback who caused crowds to push up against barriers and crane their necks and hold their camera phones high and disregard Montana and the rest of the celebrities in this third-floor hotel ballroom. Tim Tebow brought Tebowmania to the Super Bowl on Thursday, and this was Justin Beiber walking through a shopping mall, minus the squeals of teenage girls. “Obviously he’s got something everyone gets excited about,” Montana said. “If you win, that’s going to happen.”
Montana has four Super Bowl titles and a legacy that puts him in the debate for greatest quarterback in NFL history. Tebow has nine regular-season victories as a starter. It doesn’t matter. Tebow needed two cops, an entourage of handlers and press agents and the focus that lets him barrel through a secondary just to get from one interview to the next. Everyone wanted a picture, an autograph a quick moment of his time.
Sources: Peyton Manning cleared
Peyton Manning has been medically cleared by two doctors, including Dr. Robert Watkins, who performed the most recent surgery on the Indianapolis Colts quarterback’s neck, to resume his NFL career, sources told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen and ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Watkins, according to the sources, joined Colts neurosurgeon Dr. Hank Feuer in clearing Manning to play. One source said that Feuer recently told Manning, “If you were my own son, I’d tell (you) to go play.”
What remains in question is the timeline in which Manning’s nerve regeneration to his triceps will improve to the point where he is throwing passes in the manner that helped him win four MVP awards during his 13-year career.
Three days away from the Super Bowl, and again the story is about Peyton Manning. The Colts face a March 8 deadline by which time they must decide whether to pay Manning the $28 million option bonus he'll be due or cut him free. With Manning's health questions, his advanced NFL age, and Indy's option to draft Andrew Luck, it seems at this point a foregone conclusion Manning will become a free agent and the Colts will draft Luck.
The NFL season may be concluding on Sunday in Indy, but the drama there is only heating up. Just don't look to Rob Lowe for the latest scoop.
Super Bowl Shoutout: The Power of Tebow
Behind our table was a window and a small group of fans could see inside. They spotted Tebow. The crowd grew. And grew. And grew some more. A few people turned into about 40 or 50 at least. People who couldn’t even see in the window just stood there hearing that Tebow was inside. The crowd got so large it spilled into the street and police had to tell the fans to step back onto the sidewalk.
Tebow left and went outside where he signed countless autographs (Goodell later did the same).
Kudos to Tim, whose celebrity has lessened neither his approachability nor appreciation for his fans. But, we knew about this already.
The real surprises here are that Goodell joined him, and that people actually wanted his autograph too.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Gather 'round, kids - it's time for another episode of Learning With Woody. Today's lessons:
Now to the actual journalism (maybe): Woody's sense is the Broncos will give Tim Tebow all of 2012 to prove whether he should be their long-term QB or not, and if not then they'll draft a new guy high in the 2013 Draft.
¹ This is not a suggestion that Manning should come to Denver. Really, it's not.
² According to PFF, Tebow ranked 28th out of 31 QBs in terms of deep passing accuracy, despite the 10th-lowest drop rate on such passes (only two drops in 63 attempts).*
* Not saying Tebow can't throw deep or can't improve. Just presenting facts.