A Second Helping of…Billionaires vs. millionaires

America is the land of opportunity.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the NFL.  After all, this is a place where Roger Goodell (the son of a US Senator), Joe Ellis (the nephew and cousin of US Presidents), and Jets owner Woody Johnson (the grandson of the founder of Johnson & Johnson) can rise up from humble beginnings and make their way in the world today with everything they've got.

$9 billion later, these self-made men (and others just like them all across the league) are doing their absolute best to share the milk and honey with the National Football League Player's Association (NFLPA).

If only the nefarious NFLPA would let them.

Goodell, our tired and exhausted hero, has bravely reduced his salary to $1.  He's also told fans that the NFL's owners offered several concessions to the players, including five years of "profitability data."  In addition, Joe Ellis (Pat Bowlen's trusty sidekick) has been hitting the PR circuit so that Broncos fans everywhere know, without a doubt, the organization's willingness to open its books.  Unfortunately, the players listened to an insidious investment bank, which advised the NFLPA that that so-called profitability data neither illuminates true cash flows nor provides insight into wasteful spending.  

The demonic forces within the NFLPA listened.  Bring in the lawyers.

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The Daily Lard 3-17-11

Happy Tourney Day and St. Patrick's Day, Broncos fans! Enjoy your green beers, and may the sun shine on your brackets! I realize I'm a lot late in doing this, but I just created a bracket group on ESPN called IAOFM, if you're interested. Of course, we only have until 12:15pm ET to fill it out. Best of luck!

I'm experimenting with a new section today called Scrapple (I know, running out of gluttony-related terms) which will go outside the football realm. Some of it will be reads I find interesting, and others will just be for a good laugh (don't worry - no politics). Hopefully you'll like it; if not and it's a waste of your time and mine, please let me know!

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You Got Served - Opening/exiting the circle

Happy Wednesday, friends, and welcome to You Got Served.  I finally have a running home computer, $500 and three weeks later, so I’m aiming to give you a good one here, to the extent that the current news environment allows.  Armed with Raekwon’s excellent new album Shaolin Vs Wu-Tang, excitement that the local Cleveland weather is breaking, and tentative plans to take Thursday off to play outdoor golf, I’m all set to get this thing started.  Ready… BEGIN!!!

1.  I haven’t written since my brief decertification reaction piece last Friday night, and a lot has happened since then - that is, if you’re measuring in public posturing by representatives of both sides and horribly ill-informed commentary by most football media types.  Good heavens!  Has it gotten too personal to reach an agreement?  Get used to this answer.  No.  It’s just business.

In terms of progress, all that’s happened is that the hearing to rule on the players’ injunction against the lockout was scheduled for April 6th.  My expectation continues to be that the injunction will be granted, and this will have been the most meaningless lockout ever.  I don’t consider it a foregone conclusion that 2010 rules will be adopted, as the ones from 2009 were much more in line with the concepts outlined in the 1993 settlement that became the last CBA.  A case could be made for either model, and I suspect that the outcome will be the result of a loose negotiation between the judge (presumably David Doty), and lawyers from the two sides.

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The Huh? Locker Lard 3-16-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! According to Jason La Canfora, the Broncos are one of several teams expected to hold a private workout with Huskies QB Jake Locker. This one is a head-scratcher; if it's just a smokescreen to confuse other teams with regard to Denver's draft strategy, isn't it a bit of a waste of time? If there's genuine interest, then I can only ask why? Locker only complete 53.9 percent of his passes in college, with an unimpressive 4.6% TD rate, 6.2 adjusted yards per attempt and a 119 QB rating (an otherwordly number in NFL terms but not that special relative to college play). By comparison, Tim Tebow had a 66.4% completion rate at Florida to go along with a TD rate of 8.8%, 10.4 adjusted yards per attempt and a 170.8 QB rating. Of course, stats don't tell the whole story about a QB, especially a college one - scheme, competition level, surrounding talent and that pesky intangibles thing all factor in; but all great NFL QBs completed passes more frequently and for more yardage in college than did Jake Locker...

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Tuesday Trivia Trough: Broncos second-rounders

Ted's dealing with some persistent computer problems, so You Got Served is going to be pushed back a day - our apologies for that. In its stead, I thought I'd come up with a special Tuesday edition of Trivia Trough. Inspired by today's Lard, this is a real tough one - the Broncos have drafted 52 second-rounders throughout their history. Several of them are among the Broncos' biggest draft busts, but there are also some notable stars - including a future HOFer who chose not to sign with Denver. A look at the answers offers a pretty good explanation of why Mike Shanahan is coaching in D.C. rather than Denver, and why the Broncos were 4-12 last year. As always, last names suffice, and responses don't need to be entered in any order - no peeking or cheating, and feel free to discuss your scores or the answers in the comments!

Click here for Sporcle quiz:
How many of the Broncos' 2nd-Round Draft Picks can you name?

“Favorite” bust Lard 3-15-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Ouch. Adam Rank includes old friend Ebenezer Ekuban among the Cowboys' all-time draft busts. Either Dallas has just been really good at drafting, or Rank doesn't know what he's talking about. Not that Ekuban was ever a star, but he had a nine-year career - if we were to list the Broncos' biggest busts, we'd find that they hardly had NFL careers at all. Surely Rank will get to the Broncos eventually, but let's see what I can come up with: Ted Gregory, Willie Middlebrooks, Marcus Nash, Paul Toviessi, Jeremy LeSueur, Maurice Clarett, Jarvis Moss, Chris Watson, Terry Pierce, Travis McGriff, George Foster, Alphonso Smith - not all first-rounders, but all were pretty brutal picks. Who's your "favorite" Broncos bust of all time? I've already rehashed Maddox over Pickens and Lelie over Reed countless times (and will surely do so again), but those guys at least had some NFL success. Those fall more under the "really stupid picks" category rather than biggest busts. I'll go with Marcus Nash - sure, he was the 30th-overall pick after Denver's first SB win, but they could have easily gone best player with no real holes to fill and instead completely whiffed.

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Scouting the Broncos: Running Backs

With the ‘primary back’ system that Josh McDaniels preferred being (thankfully) lost in the transition to John Fox’s more committee-oriented approach, one question that is beginning to arise is what back or backs Denver will add to pair with Knowshon Moreno. Hopefully, moving to more of a group strategy will help reduce the injury bug that has seemed to slow Moreno, although he misses few games and has shown that he is willing to play when hurt. With that in mind, I spent a while going over the running backs and fullbacks that are currently on the Broncos. What I found at times surprised me. One player was even masquerading as a running back when he was a linebacker - and potentially a good one.

If my experience was any gauge, many of us are probably unaware of the number and histories of the eight running backs that Denver has accumulated in preparation for the potential of a brief (if any) free agency and a hurried training camp. Denver has obtained the services of running backs who generally fit the approach often taken by HC John Fox, although it's worth mentioning that all of the unfamiliar names were acquired before Fox's hiring. They’re generally a bit bigger than average, and look, just from the numbers and draft profiles, like a group that can handle a lot of pounding over the course of the year. Interestingly, Knowshon is the lightest of the bunch, if only by four pounds.

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The Daily Lard 3-14-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Not much going on - perhaps all of the football writing population is busy trying to make sense of the NCAA Selection Committee's hack job? Gotta figure several of you are CU fans, and there is no question that the Buffs got jobbed yesterday. After having beaten K-State three times this season and having claimed big victories over Texas and Missouri, they were left out of the field of 68 while teams like VCU and UAB went from not even being discussed as bubble teams to making the tourney. We feel for you, Buffs fans...

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DST Lard 3-13-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Lots of interesting Broncos-related stuff from Dan Pompei in his Sunday column - he thinks the Bills and Vikings have significant interest in Cam Newton - hopefully this would translate into a nice trade for Denver if Minnesota wants to then leapfrog Buffalo from the 12th spot? Mr. Wilf, perhaps we'll take your second-rounder this year and your first-rounder next year, thank you very much! If not, then we could squeeze a nice pick out of Buffalo for them to move up one spot and keep Minnesota at bay. Pompei is also hearing serious concerns surrounding the health of Da'Quan Bowers' surgically-repaired knee. Plus, he can foresee big bucks for Marc Bulger with the Cards or Niners and Kevin Kolb in Seattle (taking a couple of Kyle Orton trade options out of the picture).

Finally, Pompei has Denver taking Marcell Dareus in his mock draft and lists his favorite NFL unretirement stories, including Tommy Maddox (whom Dan Reeves drafted after his sophomore season instead of Carl Pickens as John Elway was entering his age 32 season). Another of Pompei's favorites is Gary Zimmerman, who didn't come back for the Broncos' first SB win until Elway rode up to Sturgis to go get him (or of course, Zim just wanted to go to Sturgis before suffering the rigors of training camp).

PS. You turned your clocks forward, right?

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Decertified Lockout Lard 3-12-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Well, here we are. The NFLPA decertified yesterday evening, the owners made it sound like they had met the players halfway (halfway from what?) and the players filed suit to block a potential lockout. The owners for a few hours portrayed themselves as still willing to negotiate, fans raged on Twitter, and then the owners moved forward with their lockout. Look, this is not about "feeling bad" for anyone. Yes, we're talking about a sport here, albeit one we all love dearly. But the players (who we turn on the TV to see) and the owners (who represent nothing to us as fans) are business partners and neither can thrive without the other. But the owners have not treated the players as such, and their public stance of having tried to meet the players in the middle is laughable, to say the least. How can anyone believe them when they're playing with imaginary numbers? Until the NFL opens up its books to the players, nothing is going to get done, nor should it...

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