Good Morning, Broncos fans! Mike Freeman dropped something of a bombshell yesterday regarding the league's handling of the Saints' bounty system.
As told to Freeman by several Saints players, the NFL's suspension letters to Sean Payton, Gregg Williams, Joe Vitt, and Mickey Loomis essentially offers them a way back into the league in exchange for their silence.
These players believe the NFL has little or no evidence of a bounty system in New Orleans, and that much of the punishment was levied in response to the recording of Williams's notorious pregame speech from last season.
They also maintain that the league has overblown the supposed admissions of Williams and Anthony Hargrove, claiming the NFL wrote Williams's confession and that Hargrove did not acknowledge the existence of a bounty system, as the NFL has alleged.
Obviously this is just one side of the story, and it could be a coordinated PR stunt by a still-defiant team. Or, there could be some truth to it and the NFL is handling this all like a bunch of dirty cops trying to show they care about player safety. Hopefully we'll learn the truth one of these days.
As Mason, Mike Klis and Gray Caldwell detail, Manning led the team through a crisp workout, throwing short and intermediate passes with speed and accuracy, and leaving no question as to who's leading the Broncos now. Yet, the team's other three QBs all got in plenty of work, and Caleb Hanie says Manning has been communicative and helpful.
Notes: Derek Wolfe's rookie contract includes $3.2M in guarantees; as expected, Matt Prater and Ty Warren were not present due to their contract beefs; Knowshon Moreno and Mario Fannin both practiced in heavy knee braces; Julius Thomas is still in a walking boot and far from practicing; Tracy Porter is now #22, Syd'Quan Thompson is #21, and Mark Dell is #15; Rod Smith watched practice with John Elway; mechanical issues kept John Fox from flying in an F-16 yesterday.
Andy Benoit agrees with the chatter that Ryan Clady's play has declined somewhat over the past few seasons, but he's not buying the use of sack and penalty data as evidence for it, and he says the tape still shows a very good player. Some will cry "Stats are stoopid, nerdz!" but the reality, as always, is that it's a matter of looking at the right stats, and not just whatever is shown on TV. Not all stats are created equal, except as material for constructing straw men.
Meanwhile, thanks to the efforts of a teenager named Zack Lystedt, whose life was upended by a concussion several years ago, 35 states have passed legislation named after him to mandate concussion awareness training for youth athletes, parents and coaches.
In a letter to the players, old friend and NFLPA president Domonique Foxworth says the new CBA resulted in a 7% rise in guaranteed money paid out last year, with about 55% of league revenues going toward player salaries and benefits.
Tampa Bay signed Dallas Clark to a one-year deal and shipped Kellen Winslow to Seattle for a conditional 2013 pick, apparently because Greg Schiano wasn't pleased about Winslow working out on his own; Doug Farrar is puzzled by the move; Christmas Ape searches out Schiano's definition of a "Buccaneer Man."
Shanny had a scary episode at practice yesterday, as he got knocked out by a colliding Pierre Garcon and Brandyn Thompson.
Andre Johnson had his knee scoped; Cowboys CB Mike Jenkins reportedly wants to be traded; the Lions have banned WR Titus Young from OTAs and minicamps after he coldcocked teammate Louis Delmas last week; Jets draft pick Kenrick Ellis is expected to spend 45 days in jail.
Aaron Schatz digs into return stop data, finding not much for Denver (must be the touchbacks).
Bucky Brooks sees a few reasons for the Patriots not to give Wes Welker the big pile of cash he desires. Oh, those selfish wide receivers. Wait, does he count?
SNL's Jay Pharoah did a perfect impersonation of Stephen A. Smith which somehow didn't make the cut.
Funny or Die has a teaser up for a new flick featuring some dude named Ron Burgundy. Sadly, 2013 is over six months away from now.