Happy Friday, Broncos fans! The topic of the day continues to be increasing player safety and easing the transition out of the game.
Ex-Chargers QB Dan Fouts will speak at the team's memorial for Junior Seau today, and he chatted with Clark Judge about the problems currently facing the game and its players. He says the NFL's culture of toughness and the reluctance of players to seek help must change.
Thankfully, that message appears to be taking hold in NFL circles, as Jarrett Bell details. Players like London Fletcher and Brandon Marshall have recently spoken up about post-career counseling, while NFLPA exec Nolan Harrison is calling for baseline concussion testing and better financial education for incoming players. Jack Bechta suggests that players take mandatory year-round life-skills classes for their first three years in the league, while Matt Bowen recommends that retired players continue their educations via NFL subsidies, like he did.
Mike Tanier thinks the NFL is serious about improving player safety, and that we should be patient with the league as their figure out how to do so.
The newly retired Jacob Bell has some excellent ideas for improving player care: brain scans at the Combine, mandatory meetings with psychologists for new players, and making concussion awareness part of the rookie symposium. Meanwhile, Mike Freeman is stunned by Roddy White's troubling lack of respect for his NFL predecessors, and he suggests several ways to improve the safety of the game and the treatment of players.
|83||Hill, Jason||WR||6-0||202||27||Signed 2-15; 1 year, $700K|
|20||Adams, Mike||S||5-11||200||31||Signed 3-15; 2 years, $4M ($2M guaranteed)|
|18||Manning, Peyton||QB||6-5||230||36||Signed 3-20; 5 yrs, $96M ($18M guaranteed)|
|17||Caldwell, Andre||WR||6-0||190||27||Signed 3-21; 2 yrs, $1.8M ($200K guaranteed)|
|22||Porter, Tracy||CB||5-11||186||26||Signed 3-22; 1 year, $4M (likely fully guaranteed)|
|81||Dreessen, Joel||TE||6-4||245||30||Signed 3-23; 3 years, $8.5M ($2.5M guaranteed)|
|84||Tamme, Jacob||TE||6-3||236||27||Signed 3-23; 3 years, $9M ($3.5M guaranteed)|
|16||Hanie, Caleb||QB||6-2||222||27||Signed 3-24; 2 years, $2.25M (no guarantees)|
|97||Bannan, Justin||DT||6-3||312||33||Signed 4-11; 1 year, $1M (likely fully guaranteed)|
|14||Stokley, Brandon||WR||6-0||192||36||Signed 4-16; 1 year|
|29||Florence, Drayton||CB||6-0||193||32||Agreed 5-10; 2 years, $4.5M ($1.5M guaranteed, plus $1M in incentives)|
Mike Florio reports that Florence will receive a $1.5M signing bonus and base salaries of $1.5M in 2012 and $1.5M in 2013, with an additional $1M of incentives available in $250K increments based upon 2012 playing time.
Florence had visited the Titans earlier in the week and was reportedly also pursued by the Chargers, who originally drafted him in the second round (46th overall) of the 2003 Draft out of Tuskegee. The 31-year-old spent five seasons in San Diego, the past three in Buffalo, and he played for Jacksonville in 2008 under then-Jaguars coach and new Denver DC Jack Del Rio.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! More players continue to voice their opinions on concussions, the aftereffects of an NFL career, and bounties.
First up is G Jacob Bell, who suddenly retired just one month after joining the Bengals as a free agent, citing long-term health concerns and saying he didn't want to be limping around like his old coach Mike Munchak in Tennessee. Bell cites Junior Seau's suicide as part of the impetus for his decision, although he uses an unfortunate idiom in saying so.
Denver legend Karl Mecklenburg says he often struggles to remember people's names, his own hotel room numbers, and where he's parked his car. Retired running back Jamal Lewis says he suffered from post-concussion syndrome for most of his last NFL season, and that in retirement he experiences headaches, dizziness, memory loss, and sensitivity to light. Emmitt Smith says that he of course worries about the long-term effects of having played football.
As is his nature, old friend Bill Romanowski laughed off Cris Carter's accusations and said he gave and received threats in every football game he ever played in, hilariously adding that he only "went over the line five to 10 times." Puzzlingly, Falcons WR Roddy White says all these ex-players "are killing our game" by speaking up.
Cantor Gaming, a Las Vegas sportsbook, has released point spreads for the 2012 season through Week 16.
For now, Denver is favored in seven games, is the underdog in five, three games are pick'ems, and there are no Week 17 lines. The Broncos are significant favorites against Oakland (-7), Tampa Bay and Cleveland (-8.5 vs both), with their trip to New England (+7) the only time they're getting more than 3.5 points.
There has always been a push within the game of football to find ever more rare and unknown players. The 1940s brought an effort to permit black players into the league; as bizarre as that seems now, it wasn't that long ago in real terms, and teams like the LA Rams led the way. The AFL All-Star game was moved in January, 1965 because the original city's hotels (New Orleans) wouldn't allow black players to stay or eat at the players' hotel there. Modern experience tells us that scouting traditionally black schools changed the game. By the 1950s there were teams like the Cleveland Browns who were also scouting the smaller schools and bring in big name players from them.
Now, the NFL is increasingly looking at players from Canada. Danny Watkins moved from British Columbia to Oroville, California, to take part in the firefighter's academy at Butte College, planning a career in that brave profession. Now Watkins is a former 2011 first-round pick out of Baylor who's starting and playing well for the Philadelphia Eagles. Philip Blake, a guard/center for the Denver Broncos, was one of four players from Canada selected in last month's draft. Boise State's Tyrone Crawford (Dallas Cowboys) is a defensive tackle (6-4, 275), as is the 318 lb Akiem Hicks (New Orleans Saints); both went in the third round. The 6-5, 290 lb DE Christo Bilukidi (Georgia State) went to Oakland in the sixth round.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! In a surprising development, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) has found that ex-NFL players actually live longer than the normal US male population, with fewer deaths caused by cancer and heart disease.
However, the Niosh study of 3,439 former players oddly found that defensive linemen were felled by heart disease at a much higher rate than players at other positions. The research did not account for cognitive and mental health issues, but Niosh says it is now studying those causes of death as well.
Meanwhile, the war of words between ex-players over whether they'd allow their sons to play football continues on many fronts. Kurt Warner responded to the vitriolic comments from dimwits Merril Hoge and Amani Toomer by pwning them, and old friend Trevor Pryce, who played at Michigan with Toomer, called Amani's words "probably the most idiotic thing I've ever heard."
Florence, originally drafted by the Chargers in 2003, was cut by the Bills on Friday after three seasons with the team. Reports out of San Diego that day indicated the Chargers were interested in bringing the 31-year-old corner back to his original team, although there have been no reports since of a visit.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! At surface, the timing of Denver's firing of Brian Xanders may be a bit puzzling to some, or an indication that John Elway was unhappy with the job Xanders did with the recent draft.
But as the always astute Andrew Mason notes, there was no better time - not a season ago, not months ago. By letting Xanders stick around for a year and a half post-McDaniels, Elway gave the X-Man a chance to prove his worth, also buying time for John to himself to ease his way into running the organization. And by keeping Brian for the draft, the Duke avoided a repeat of the glaring error McDaniels made when he axed Jim and Jeff Goodman just two months prior to the 2009 Draft, wasting months and months of work. (Oddly, Mike Klis says McDaniels held off on major changes for a year, but the firing of the Goodmans and concurrent elevation of Xanders to GM stand clearly as evidence to the contrary.)
From the cynic's perspective, this also theoretically buys Elway another draft in the public's eye. If 2012 goes less swimmingly than the Peyton Manning-fueled anticipation would suggest, what are the chances that Jim Saccomano & Co. trumpet the 2013 offseason as the first one free of McDaniels and Xanders's input? In reality, #7 was likely running the show last weekend anyway, and the departure of Xanders was a mere formality at this point. But again - there is no hiding the fact that it's Elways show now.
The Broncos have fired Brian Xanders after four years with the organization and three seasons as their general manager. Although the story by Mike Klis portrays the decision as a mutual parting of ways, it doesn't take much reading between the lines - or of the DP's Breaking News email titled, Broncos fire GM Brian Xanders after three years in Denver - to discern that the choice was all John Elway's.
Xanders was originally hired by Mike Shanahan in 2008 as assistant GM before being elevated to the GM position following the hiring of Josh McDaniels. McDaniels and Xanders teamed up on a slew of controversial personnel moves, including the trade departures of Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Tony Scheffler, and Peyton Hillis, the drafting of Knowshon Moreno, Robert Ayers, Alphonso Smith, Richard Quinn, Tim Tebow, Zane Beadles, and J.D. Walton, and the acquisitions of Laurence Maroney, Jarvis Green, and LeKevin Smith, among others.