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Shaun Rogers may visit the Redskins

Shaun Rogers AP

As Florio pointed out this morning, recently released players like former Browns defender Shaun Rogers can sign with a new team immediately.

While many teams will undoubtedly hide behind labor uncertainty while twiddling their thumbs,  it’s no surprise that the Redskins could take a different approach.

Jay Glazer of FOX reports that Rogers has spoken with Washington and could set up a visit with the team, perhaps as early as tomorrow.  Surely Rogers’ camp hopes that another team gets involved to potentially drive up Rogers’ price.

Going after Rogers would be a sign that Albert Haynesworth has no future in Washington, not that we really need another sign.

Coming up with a fair contract before a work stoppage could be tricky.   Players may have to give up a little bit of earning potential long-term to get money in their pocket.

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Hall of Fame voter Len Pasquarelli rips “idiots like Jason Whitlock”


We’ve talked a lot over the last week about the seven new members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the 10 candidates who were voted down at Saturday’s selection committee meeting, and the process by which new Hall of Famers are selected. It’s been an interesting, productive topic of conversation in the football media world.

But one of the members of the selection committee, Len Pasquarelli of The Sports Xchange, thinks it’s time to move on or move out from questioning the selection committee’s decisions.

In an interview with 1560 The Game, Pasquarelli said that he understands the calls for more transparency in the selection process, but he also believes that more transparency could lead some voters to become more reticent to have a candid conversation at the selection committee meeting.

“I think there probably will be a day where there’s more transparency,” Pasquarelli said. “I believe in transparency to a point, but I do think that having TV cameras in that room and televising the whole thing, while it would make for fascinating theater, you’re absolutely right about that, would perhaps deter some people from airing their views, and probably bring even more criticism.”

Fair enough, but if you’re going to be a member of the selection committee, don’t you need to have thick enough skin to deal with that criticism? And, with all due respect to the members of the committee, if criticism would deter them from airing their views, working in the media is the wrong business for them.

Pasquarelli then turned his attention to Jason Whitlock, who has sharply criticized the selection committee, both in his column at and in his appearance on PFT Live, for selecting Richard Dent while voting down Willie Roaf.

“There’s been enough from idiots like Jason Whitlock who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, criticizing the process and the fact that Willie Roaf didn’t get in,” Pasquarelli said. “Let me ask you this: In his championing of Willie Roaf, OK, and the fact that he claims he would cry if Willie Roaf didn’t get in — and I assume that he’s honest about that — how is he any less subjective, for instance, than the people who voted for Richard Dent? Isn’t it his opinion and nothing more? There’s no criteria by which he goes. Isn’t it his opinion that Willie Roaf should be a member of the Hall of Fame? What does he have to go by that’s concrete about that?”

Of course, Whitlock did spell out what his case for Roaf over Dent is, including Roaf’s selection to two all-decade teams (Dent never made one) and Roaf’s 11 Pro Bowls (Dent made four). Pasquarelli is free to disagree with Whitlock about the importance of such accolades, but it’s wrong to say those who support Roaf as a better candidate than Dent have no criteria.

Pasquarelli, however, doesn’t buy it.

“What argument does Mr. Whitlock have that Willie Roaf deserves to be in the Hall of Fame more so than Richard Dent?” Pasquarelli said. “I’m dumbfounded by the logic of that because it’s totally illogical.”

Pasquarelli also rejects the idea that players should have some voice in determining who makes the Hall of Fame.

“The argument made by Mr. Whitlock that players should vote on this? Players in some cases have a different agenda than people in that room,” Pasquarelli said.

Although Pasquarelli insisted that “I’m not taking this personally,” he sounded as if he was. That’s too bad. It does a disservice to the Hall of Fame candidates if the selection process starts to feel like a media pissing contest. Even though media pissing contests are always fun.

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Cowboys not talking about Super Bowl ticket fiasco

Super Bowl Football

On Thursday, NFL executive V.P. of business ventures and Chief Financial Officer Eric Grubman acknowledged that the Cowboys hired the contractor that was supposed to install temporary seating that ultimately wasn’t installed in time for Super Bowl XLV.

Grubman also addressed whether the Cowboys hoped to break the single-game attendance record.

Here’s the excerpt.

PFT: Was it a priority for Jerry Jones and the Cowboys to break that record?

EG: You’ll have to ask the Cowboys.

PFT: But if you had been working with the Cowboys and Jerry Jones leading up to the game and I assume you did, did you pick up on anything from those communications that it was an issue, a desire for them to break the record of 103,985?

EG: Yes, I think they were very interested in breaking the record.

It was good that Grubman answered the follow-up question, because if we’d asked the Cowboys the Cowboys would have said nothing.

The Cowboys are deferring all comments to the NFL,” team P.R. subsequently told Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal.

It’s not a bad approach for the Cowboys, since the league is claiming full responsibility for the blunder.  Even if the blunder has the Cowboys’ fingerprints all over it.

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Looking at the teams with the most work to do this offseason

Mickey Loomis

Free agency is scheduled to start in early March, and it may not actually arrive until August or September.

When it does, we’ll see more player movement than any time in NFL history.   So which teams have the most to lose?’s Mike Sando does yeoman’s work breaking down the 508 projected unrestricted free agents by team and position.

The teams with the most expected UFAs include the Saints, Raiders, Seahawks, and Chargers.   (New Orleans tops the list with 27 players, which isn’t a shock considering how many restricted free agents they had last year.)

The teams with the fewest unrestricted free agents include the Broncos, Bills, Cowboys, Dolphins, and Patriots.    The AFC Champion Steelers are in the middle of the pack, while the Super Bowl champion Packers have the seventh-fewest expected UFAs.

It’s a handy list worth checking out.   We just hope it’s not a list we break out again in August after hibernating for five months.

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Trent Dilfer of Cam Newton workout: “Phenomenal”

Cam Newton

NFL scouts couldn’t attend Cam Newton’s random Thursday “Media Day” workout.  But if they could . . .

That was phenomenal,” ESPN’s Trent Dilfer reports via Bruce Feldman.   “If scouts saw this they’d have been slobbering.”

With all due respect to my fellow scribes in attendance, Dilfer’s opinion may be the only one that particularly matters from this workout.  Dilfer does as much homework as any analyst, and he’s usually a tough critic.  We trust him if he said it was an impressive session.

Tony Pauline of wrote earlier this week that “at least” six teams rank Newton as their top overall prospect in the draft.   It defies belief that six teams even have a “top-ranked” player at this stage, but the note shows that Newton has some serious support within the scouting community.  Not to mention with Dilfer.

“His mechanics are so sound,” Dilfer said.   “The ball just jumps off his hands.  He made 30 big-time throws.”

Newton’s workout on Thursday ultimately doesn’t mean that much, but it’s a good sign he’s so confident in his development.  It’s a better sign that he impressed Dilfer so much.

The next step: Make the actual scouts slobber at the Combine or a real Pro Day.

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NFL prefers that Super Bowl ticket lawyers focus on “world peace”

Florio seat

In a refreshingly candid discussion regarding the league’s reaction to the failure of 400 fans who purchased tickets to the Super Bowl to actually gain entry to the Super Bowl, NFL executive V.P. of business ventures and Chief Financial Officer Eric Grubman appeared on Thursday’s ProFootballTalk Live to discuss the situation and its aftermath.  (The full transcript can be seen right here.)

To Grubman’s credit, the league is accepting responsibility for the situation, to a point.  The league, through Grubman, definitely is saying all the right things.  “The way we look at it is we’re the National Football League, we’re presenting the game, these are our fans, and a lot of them are heartbroken and they’re mad,” Grubman said.  “We accept the responsibility for that, and we have to figure out how to get them to give us a second chance.”

Still, the NFL doesn’t seem to be fully embracing the legal consequences arising from the failure to give the fans who paid for Super Bowl tickets the ability to attend the Super Bowl.  The idea of a triple refund and a ticket to Super Bowl XLVI or a ticket plus travel to any future Super Bowl sounds good from a P.R. perspective, but it doesn’t fully account for the league’s true duty to, in our view and apparently the view of Texas law, reimburse the fans for all expenses incurred in making a futile trip to Dallas for a game they didn’t get to actually attend.

In this regard, the league needs to project a bit more contrition.

“Frankly, I’m not surprised at the litigation,” Grubman said.  “But it’s not going to change the fact that we think we need to talk to our fans, tell them we’re sorry, and we need to try to make this better, and not let it happen again.  I do wish people who were filing the lawsuits and the lawyers who are getting so focused on this, I wish they would work on something like world peace because I think we need to keep this in perspective.  Over one hundred and sixty million people watched that game.  It was a great game.  Two fabulous football teams fought it out and one of them won, and it was just a thrill and it was exciting, and over a 100,000 people came to that stadium, so if you look at the defect rate its pretty small, and the NFL strives for 100 percent and that’s why we are doing this because we didn’t provide a great experience to 100 percent of the fans, but keeping a little perspective is probably what I wish the lawyers would do.”

So the message seems to be this:  We’re really, really sorry, and we really wish you’d accept our apology and something less than what we’re legally required to give you after failing to give you the seat that corresponded with your Super Bowl ticket.

Though we admire the league for taking moral responsibility, the league needs to also accept legal responsibility by reimbursing the 400 fans all expenses for their bad experience, and possibly a something more for their trouble, like a ticket to any future Super Bowl.  The sooner the league does that, the sooner the league can close the book on the biggest Super Bowl embarrassment since Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake took the stage at halftime.

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Colts preparing franchise tag for Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning

The Colts and Peyton Manning legitimately appear to want to get a contract extension done this month.  But it’s complicated.

And if those complications prevent a deal being signed in time, Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star notes that the team will use the franchise tag on Manning as a “fallback” option.

“It’ll get done when it gets done,” Bill Polian said Wednesday. “We’re in a very, very unsettled situation as an industry, so I don’t have any timetable specifically.”

Chappell notes the two sides haven’t spoken on a deal since late January, when it’s believed the Colts made an offer which exceeds Tom Brady’s recent contract.

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Eric Grubman interview transcript

Super Bowl Football AP

NFL executive V.P. of business ventures and Chief Financial Officer Eric Grubman joined ProFootballTalk Live on Thursday, February 10, 2011 to discuss the ticketing challenges that arose at Super Bowl XLV.

A full transcript of the interview appears below.

MF: Let me just start at the top, the reports are that there are 1,250 who showed up and I know they fall into different camps, but explain to us what happened when those folks showed up to the game arrived at Cowboy Stadium on Sunday.

EG: They arrived and the tickets were identified through a scanning process. The four hundred people in the end zone section were told that there was a problem with their seats and they would not be able to come into the building yet. Approximately 864 people and four other small sections on different sides of the stadium were brought into the stadium and were told that there were problems with their seats and that we were looking for tickets to relocate them.

MF: And the 864 people ultimately ended up in other accommodations?

EG:  We learned that a large section in the end zone with 2,400 seats was not ready for final inspection.  The four individual sections on the side, each of which had 216 seats, we had to pull the resources of people off the contractor did, I’m not in charge of that stuff, and move them to the 2,400 section.  We knew that those four sections were not going to be ready for the game. The 2,400 we thought there was a good chance we would get all 2,400, it turns out we got 2,000 of the 2,400 ready for the game.

MF: What do you say in response to some of the accounts that are now showing up that of the 864 who got into the game and were supposedly given comparable or better seats?  There are some accounts that those folks claim they didn’t get comparable seats or better seats, in fact they got worse seats.

EG: Well, the first thing I would have said to them and if I was able to get to them at the stadium, I would have said to them, “I am sorry, I apologize this is not the standard the National Football League lives up to.”  In terms of what to do now, I’m just getting the reports, we have to gather the information, frankly, I’m not really in a position this morning to tell you whether people got moved higher or lower, or closer to the 60-yard line, but if people didn’t get a good seat, we’re going to have to deal with that.

MF: So there will be some type of offer made to the 864, similar to the offer made to the 400 that didn’t get in at all?

EG: I really can’t say because I have no frame of reference, Mike. I just don’t know what the situation is. I’ve gotten a couple reports and have been incredibly focused on the 400, the people who didn’t get to see the game at all. Those stories are just heartbreaking, and we have had a full scale effort to get out to them, and I am just getting some reports of where the 860 were seated.

MF: Where do things stand right now as to who was responsible for what happened on Sunday?

EG: Well, there’s two levels of responsibility here, Mike. The way we look at it is we’re the National Football League, we’re presenting the game, these are our fans, and a lot of them are heartbroken and they’re mad. We accept the responsibility for that, and we have to figure out how to get them to give us a second chance. When it comes down to figuring out how to make sure this never happens again, we will be looking at our internal processes, and how we work with contractors, and how we work with host clubs and so on and so on. As it relates to the money, I wouldn’t even want to begin to hazard a guess.  This is a tough situation, a lot of people probably could have done things better or differently, we just have to figure that out as time goes on.

MF: But are you in a position now to say this happened because of something the NFL did or something the Cowboys did or something Jerry Jones did, something the contractor did, or is it still too early to tell?

EG: It’s too early to tell. You know these things they go by in a blur sometimes, when there is a great outcome everybody takes credit and when there’s a bad outcome we’ve got to stand up and say, you know, it’s us, and it’s all of us. But the game is a presentation of the National Football Game, so from the standpoint of facing the fans, it’s the National Football League and we’re telling them we’re sorry and we’re trying to make it right.

MF: Did anything like this ever happen before at a Super Bowl, where people showed up with tickets and they were either denied admission or they were sent to seats that they deemed not comparable to the tickets they purchased?

EG: I don’t know the answer to that question. Certainly, in the seven years that I have been here, I am not aware of anything like this.

MF: Now we have heard, time and again, that when a team hosts the Super Bowl at its stadium, that the local franchise essentially gives the keys to the NFL and the NFL takes over, but I have heard anecdotally that in this case at least Jerry Jones and the Cowboys were more involved.  Is that accurate or is that not accurate?

EG: Well, it’s accurate to say in this instance, I won’t deal with what happened in the other 44 Super Bowls because I am sure there is a lot of particulars in any one Super Bowl, but the fact that the Cowboys were involved in hiring the contractor to install the seats and that is just the specifics of how we and the Cowboys decided to do it this time around.

MF:  A public offer was made earlier this week to the 400 folks who were denied admission. There were a couple of options, one option that wasn’t offered was a refund of the ticket price and a full refund of all travel expenses and lodging, etc. Why wasn’t that offered to the 400 people who showed up and weren’t permitted to actually get into the stadium?

EG: Well this is something that we have been trying to do the best we can, and in talking to the first group of fans that we were ale to reach out to, you know, let’s just recall what happened in the immediate aftermath.  Roger Goodell, Commissioner, said we said that say we’re going to give you three times your purchase price, three times the face value, and then the next morning Commissioner Goodell said “Look, we’ll give up tickets to the Indianapolis Super Bowl,” and then we started to have time to literally talk to these fans and listen to them and what I heard was, “You don’t understand NFL this was not that game, this was a dream, and you took my dream away.”  And so when we tried to figure out how do we give them a chance to get their dream back that’s when we can back with the second option. We have had about 40 people here at the NFL trying to identify and reach out to these 400, we’re getting feedback as we’re talking to them, and we’re hearing different things and you know we are trying to take that into account. We are trying to do right by the fans and I can’t turn back history, but we can do the best we can going forward.

MF: Is it true, Eric, that if fans take one of the two options currently on the table that they are going to have to sign paperwork waiving any and all legal rights that they would otherwise have?

EG: I haven’t seen the paperwork. I am leaving that up to our staff, but certainly I would think that that makes sense for us, yes.

MF: And now that a class action has ben filed on behalf of the 400 and another group we will talk about in a minute, has the effort to to contact these folks individually been suspended?

EG: No, nothing has been suspended, we’re going to call them, we’re going to take calls, we’re going to answer emails. Frankly, I’m not surprised at the litigation.  But it’s not going to change the fact that we think we need to talk to our fans, tell them we’re sorry, and we need to try to make this better, and not let it happen again. I do wish people who were filing the lawsuits and the lawyers who are getting so focused on this, I wish they would work on something like world peace because I think we need to keep this in perspective. Over one hundred and sixty million people watched that game.  It was a great game. Two fabulous football teams fought it out and one of them won, and it was just a thrill and it was exciting, and over a 100,000 people came to that stadium, so if you look at the defect rate its pretty small, and the NFL strives for 100% and that’s why we are doing this because we didn’t provide a great experience to 100% of the fans, but keeping a little perspective is probably what I wish the lawyers would do.

MF: I understand what you are saying, but there are still 400 people who bought a ticket to the game and did not get in. Under the consumer laws in Texas, they may have rights to compensation for every penny they spent to go to Dallas, for a trip that didn’t result in the Super Bowl, you understand what these folks went through, I assume?

EG: Well, I don’t think that you or I could truly understand what they went through, I can appreciate it, I feel like I let down my brother. You would probably feel the same, if you were in my shoes. It’s just an awful feeling, but it’s probably not as bad as the feeling that they have. Do I understand that people have rights, and that they can pursue those rights, of course. I’m not naive. I don’t know that the pursuit of those rights will get them any more or less, and I certainly don’t know  whether it will get them a shot at their dream.  We are going the best that we can, without thinking about the legal issues.  I’ll just have to let the lawyers know the legal issues and worry about what might happen in court.

MF: Now there is another category of folks who have complained at least through one named plaintiff in this class action, and that’s the Cowboys PSL holders who allegedly spent $100,000 for their personal seat licenses at Cowboy Stadium. The claim is that these folks bought tickets, and when they showed up, they either had obstructed views or metal folders chairs or both. Has the NFL learned anything, whether or not that claim is valid that there were Cowboy season ticket holders, PSL holders who got obstructed-view seats or substandard seating?

EG: I am aware just by reading the newspaper and other accounts, just as you are, but I have no particular inside knowledge between the Cowboys and their PSL holders.

MF:  The big question that a lot of people have about the situation, and we appreciate the fact that the NFL is being candid and willing to talk about it, I think there is some confusion and frustration about why the NFL knew about it this before Sunday, why it wasn’t disclosed, so that folks could for example, not come to Dallas if folks weren’t going to be able to get in or otherwise be prepared for the possibility that they may not get in if they showed up on game day.

EG: Well, the first and most important reason is we believed that we were going to get 100% of the seats that were manifested available for game time.  And we believed that up right through a certain time Sunday morning, I can’t remember exactly what time that was. We thought we were going to get them all. We had some challenges, the Cowboys bought another contractor in, and we just thought that we were going to get it done. We didn’t spend a lot of time, talking about whether we were going to let people know earlier in the week because of that, but as I think about it now, I’m not sure that would have done any good. Imagine the chaos, if we would have announced that we’re not sure what seats we have, but we might have all of them. I’m not sure anybody would have  done anything differently and it probably would have caused a lot of angst, but I guess I’ll just have to leave that to somebody else.

MF: But when did it first come to your attention that there may be an issue with a certain number of seats that were being installed for the game. At what point last week [or] previous to last week that you knew it might be an issue?

EG: I can’t exactly recall when I knew; I think it was sometime around Thursday that I went over to the stadium for a meeting and to look at the stands to see what the contractor was talking about.  Saturday morning we had an all hands on deck meeting at the stadium, so I could understand what was the game plan for putting all of those seats in commission.

MF: How do you respond to the concern by some that the NFL didn’t just want another piece of bad news to come out last week, between the weather, the ice falling off the roof of the stadium?  Did the NFL just decide we are going to try to get this done, we’re going to take a PR hit if we fail, let’s not take another PR hit in the week leading up to the game?

EG: Well, what I would say to those folks is that they don’t understand how the NFL works. The way the NFL works is that we just try to do the absolute best job that we can, we try to give the fans what they want. We’re working 24/7 to do that, and I frankly think that our vast majority of people just leave the fears of litigation and P.R. issues to others. They are just doing their job, and if you or anybody who were imagining that could see the faces and see the heartache and the hard work that the NFL people up in the stadium and outside in the cold, I think you’d have a different opinion. It’s an NFL that just works unbelievably hard and this time we failed. And we’re gonna just stand up and take responsibility for it.

MF:  What about the contention that the NFL didn’t say anything in the hopes of getting as many people as possible into the building, so that the attendance record of 130,985 could be broken?

EG: I’d tell them again they have no concept of what the NFL stands for. I was never focused on the record, we didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the record and I think my time beginning Saturday morning quite early through till Sunday, well after the game, is just for me a blur of trying to accommodate the fans and get to people and situations to try to make it better. I never counted, I still haven’t counted, and I doubt that any of us have been very focused on that.

MF: Was it a priority for Jerry Jones and the Cowboys to break that record?

EG: You’ll have to ask the Cowboys.

MF: But if you had been working with the Cowboys and Jerry Jones leading up to the game and I assume you did, did you pick up on anything from those communications that it was an issue, a desire for them to break the record of 103,985?

EG: Yes, I think they were very interested in breaking the record.  What we did, and we asked the Cowboys to do was design a plan that fit the design specifications of the building. That building is designed to hold a certain number of people. There are different configurations you can do that. I suppose someone could look at this and say you should have picked scenario one instead of scenario two or three instead of four. We picked one that was to fit how the building was designed, would we pick a different one next time?  Yeah, probably we would.  I think that we’ll look at that pretty hard at some point when we get back to that stadium to do an NFL event.

MF: Well, Eric Grubman, Executive V.P of  Business Ventures and Chief Financial Officer of the National Football League, I very much appreciate your candor, you willingness to tackle these issues. I know it was a disappointing day for the NFL and for the folks who didn’t get in. I wish you all the best as you continue to investigate what happened and prevent it from happening at a future Super Bowl.

EG: Thanks Mike, for giving us the time to talk to our fans.

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New Cardinals coordinator has decided on his first play call

R. Horton1

Don’t know much about new Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton or his defensive approach?

One word defined his introductory press conference on Wednesday: Pressure.  Horton said again and again that the Cardinals would be aggressive, play “downhill” and attack with pressure.  Basically, he wants to be a Dick LeBeau defenses.

“I’m here to say right now, the first call is going to be a blitz,” Horton said.  “No question about it.”

Horton’s biggest challenge may be teaching a new defense when players aren’t available in he offseason because of a possible work stoppage.  He also wasn’t worried about coach Ken Whisenhunt’s tendency to divorce defensive coordinators every two seasons.

“Most people don’t marry the first girl they date,” Horton said.  “Hopefully they marry the best one.”

UPDATE: The Cardinals officially hired Deshea Townsend as assistant defensive backs coach Thursday.   Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports the Cardinals will be hiring former Bengals assistant Louie Cioffi.

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Michael Oher visits “The View”

Denver Broncos v Baltimore Ravens

We don’t talk about The View very much here at PFT (even though Florio watches it every day), but we’ll make an exception for today’s episode, which featured a good guest spot from Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher.

Oher is one of only a handful of NFL players — and surely the only offensive lineman — famous enough to appeal to the demographic that watches The View, which doesn’t cross over much with the demographic that watches the NFL. As the man whose life story became the book and movie The Blind Side, Oher is more famous for his life off the field than for what he’s accomplished on the field, and that’s what he talked about today, as he pitches his own book about his life.

The most interesting comments were about Oher’s repeated attempts to develop a relationship with his biological mother, who has long struggled with drug addiction.

“I’ve been trying to help her for so long . . . she’s trying hard,” Oher said. “I think it’s going to turn out to be positive.”

Now that he’s a professional athlete, Oher said, he tries to use that platform to reach young people.

“You need mentors and positive people in your life,” Oher said. “Just surround yourself with a positive circle. That’s hard coming where I came from.”

It’s a message that Oher is uniquely qualified to spread, and he’s unique among NFL players in his ability to spread that message outside the traditional channels.

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Join us for a great PFT Live on Thursday, including DeSean Jackson and NFL CFO Eric Grubman

From time to time (or every day . . . or multiple times per day) we mention ProFootballTalk Live, our weekday, half-hour show that more often than not chews up about 45 minutes of non-air air time.

Today, we’ll be joined by Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson and NFL executive V.P. of business ventures and Chief Financial Officer Eric Grubman, who’ll talk about the Super Bowl ticket fiasco, which has already spawned a class-action lawsuit.

You can watch the whole show live at 12:00 p.m. ET, or you can watch it on demand whenever you want.  Or you can wait for us to post clips.

Or you can post a comment indicating that you don’t care.

Or you can just keep on scrolling and keep your comments about how you don’t care to yourself.

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Vikings tell season-ticket holders to pay up now

Zygi WIlf, Leslie Frazier AP

We don’t know yet when the Minnesota Vikings’ stadium will be ready to go for 2011, and we don’t even know when the NFL as a whole will be ready to go for 2011. But we do know when the Vikings want their fans to pay up for season tickets: Now.

Tom Pelissero of reports that the Vikings want payments in advance even if the NFL enters a work stoppage, even though it’s not clear whether the home schedule will start at the Metrodome or at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium, and even though it’s possible that a work stoppage will cause games in 2011 to be canceled.

The Vikings sent a letter to season-ticket holders informing them that the first payment is due on February 23. In a curious way to spin a disappointing 2010, the letter referred to the season as “one of the most eventful, yet unexpected seasons in our 50-year history.”

One piece of good news: The letter informed fans that ticket prices won’t be going up. The Vikings also say that tickets will be refunded if games are canceled.

The letter also features a statement that looks like an attempt to break the NFL record for most cliches in one paragraph: “We resolve to run around, through and over any team that stands in our way. To play every down like it’s 4th and inches. To feed the hot hand and feed off of the roar of the 12th man. To never let Sunday be a day of rest for our opponents. To keep our eyes and our hearts on the prize. To always remember we’re playing for the greatest fans in the world.”

And that’s how the Vikings will try to get the fans fired up about forking over their money.

UPDATE: The statement was initially reported as a quote from Vikings coach Leslie Frazier. We’ve now been told that the statement came from the team but not from Frazier.

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Lawsuit keeps Dan Snyder in the headlines

Dan Snyder, Bruce Allen

Redskins owner Dan Snyder says he’s matured, and his media barnstorming tour including a spot on PFT Live last week was a surprising gesture by a man not known for opening up publicly.

With that said, his current lawsuit against the Washington City Paper threatens to hurt any positive P.R. gains Snyder has made since hiring Mike Shanahan.

For his first piece as a columnist in the Washington Post, Jason Reid takes Snyder to task for the lawsuit.   The move seems petty.  It’s attracting attention to a story no one really read in the first place.

When we spoke to Snyder at the Super Bowl, Snyder said he wasn’t afraid of the attention the lawsuit would bring.

“I don’t care.  What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong,” Snyder said.

He constantly said the article in question made fun of his wife and her efforts about breast cancer.  We understand his anger there; any man can understand defending on his family.

The reality is more complicated.  It’s hard to see where the City Paper addressed Snyder’s wife in a negative light.  Her courageous leadership on raising awareness for breast cancer was not mentioned in the article.

The whole topic is confusing.  Snyder says he’ll drop the lawsuit if the author just apologizes, but that doesn’t appear likely.  The Washington City Paper has set up a legal defense fund, which Deadspin links to every day while pointing out Snyder’s history.

Snyder truly seems to want to turn he page on the tumultuous early days of ownership, but there is no way to “win” this battle.  Quietly ending the lawsuit would be the best route at this point.   All press is not good press.

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Report: CBA talks broke down after union proposed 50-50 split

DeMaurice Smith

So much for optimism.

Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that Thursday’s bargaining session between the NFL and the NFLPA was canceled after the two sides hit a wall regarding the most important aspect of the deal, the formula for splitting up the money.

Mort reports that the NFLPA proposed a split of roughly 50-50 between players and owners, and that the owners walked away from the table in response.

Apparently, the meeting — which lasted far less than the expected nine hours — got off to a bad start when the NFL’s negotiating team supposedly interpreted the players’ proposal of 49-to-51 cents on the dollar as being the cut of “total football revenue,” not “all revenue.”

Currently, the players get 59.6 cents of each dollar of ‘total football revenue,” a number that is roughly $1 billion less than all revenue generated by the sport.

The league’s misinterpretation of the proposal is a bit surprising, since a 50-50 split of total football revenue would have reflected the much-debated 18 percent reduction that the owners’ reportedly have asked the players to take.  Then again, the union’s decision to propose essentially a 50-50 sharing of all revenue is equally surprising, given that the players currently get roughly that amount under the current deal.

According to NFLPA spokesman George Atallah, the players received 51.87 percent of all revenue in 2002.  In 2003, it dropped to 50.23 percent.  In 2004, it was 52.18 percent.  In 2005, 50.52 percent.  In 2006, it was 52.74 percent.  In 2008, it was 50.96 percent.  In 2007, it was 51.84 percent.  In 2008, it was 50.96 percent.  In 2009, it was 50.06 percent.

Thus, an offer to take 50 cents of every dollar represents no concession at all.

That said, we think it was unreasonable for the league stormed out.  We assume the proposal reflected an opening offer from the union under an “all revenue” model, and opening offers implicitly contain room to move.  With the league refusing to open the books to justify the desire to cut the players’ share, it’s not unreasonable for the players to say, “Look, let’s quit bickering about the league taking money off the top and let’s just work out a formula based on every dollar that comes in.  Our first move is to ask for roughly what we currently get.  Feel free to counter.”

If the NFL truly wanted to do a deal, the NFL would have countered.

It makes us think that the NFL actually wants to lock out the players, or to push the negotiations to the brink of a lockout in the hopes of getting the players to drop their proposal without a counter.

That said, if the union made its proposal as a take-it-or-leave it gesture, then it makes us think that the NFLPA wants to force a lockout in the hopes of getting a better deal via the application of litigation and/or political pressure, a strategy that to date has failed miserably.

Either way, the outside lawyers who are handling the negotiations (Jeffrey Kessler for the union and Bob Batterman for the league) continue to bill by the hour, and every hour of effort expended on the negotiations and a lockout and whatever comes next will serve only to fatten their coffers.

So maybe, just maybe, Robert Kraft — and Shakespeare (possibly a/k/a John Florio) — were right.

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Packers sign nine players to futures contracts

T. Thompson3

We usually don’t report on “futures contracts” but it’s a slow week in the NFL, and Packers fans probably enjoy hearing anything about their team as they bask in the glow of a Super Bowl title.

So here goes: The Packers signed nine players to futures contract on Thursday: guard Adrian Battles, tackle Chris Campbell, safety Michael Greco, linebacker Cardia Jackson,  safety Anthony Levine, wide receiver Antonio Robinson, defensive tackle Jay Ross, wide receiver Chastin West and linebacker/defensive end Albert Young.

Eight of the players came from Green Bay’s practice squad players; Levine was signed off  the ever-popular “street.”

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Sam Bradford “a little bit frustrated” with new direction of offense

AXE Lounge Late Night At Super Bowl Getty Images

After a terrific rookie year,  Rams quarterback Sam Bradford has mixed feelings about learning a new offense under Josh McDaniels.

“Part of me’s a little bit frustrated,” Bradford said Wednesday to Jenni Carlson of  The Oklahoman.   “I was really looking forward to spending more time in the West Coast [offense] and really getting into detail this offseason.”

Then again, Bradford recognizes that working under a new offensive boss could be a boost.

“But part of me’s extremely excited to be working with Josh McDaniels.  If you look at what he’s done with some of his offenses and some of his quarterbacks in the past, as a quarterback you can’t not be excited to be in one of those offenses,” Bradford said.

Those two quotes probably sum up how Rams fans feel right about now.   Making Bradford learn a second system with a new quarterbacks coach is not ideal for your No. 1 overall pick coming off a promising campaign.   Then again, it’s hard to argue with McDaniels’ track record.

McDaniels and Bradford haven’t even met yet, which we find rather odd.  (Jim Harbaugh and Alex Smith are old pals and Smith isn’t even signed for 2011.)

“I’m sure [I’ll meet McDaniels] sometime down the road,” Bradford said. “When that is, I don’t know.”

McDaniels would be wise to set up a meeting before a possible work stoppage, so Bradford can start to help teach the new offense to his teammates over the offseason.

Bradford and the Rams offense may have to take a step back early in 2011 to take two steps forward in the future.

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Dolphins restructure contract for Will Allen

Image (2) large_WillAllen-thumb-250x188-6006.jpg for post 72206 AP

A few weeks after a report surfaced that the Dolphins planned to release cornerback Will Allen, they have come up with a way to keep him.

Drew Rosenhaus said on WQAM Thursday morning that the team and Allen re-structured his contract.  Rosenhaus said the two sides came up with a solution that was fair for both parties.

Allen was set to make $5.5 million in 2011, and took a paycut to come back.  The 10-year veteran has battled injury problems of late, and should be the team’s nickel back behind Vontae Davis and Sean Smith.

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Shaun Rogers, other released veterans become free agents now

Shaun Rogers AP

In response to the recent flurry of player cuts, including a large group that was dumped by the Browns on Wednesday, several of you have asked whether those folks can be signed now, or whether they must wait until March 4 to become free agents.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello advises that players with four or more years of service instantly become free agents upon being released.  For example, then, defensive lineman Shaun Rogers can be signed by another team between now and March 4.

If/when a lockout commences, all business will cease.  Until then, however, veteran player released from their contracts may join new teams — if/when new teams try to sign them.  (For players with fewer than four years of service, they must first pass through waivers.)

All that said, teams aren’t doing a whole lot of business right now, anyway.  With 490 players due to become free agents on March 4, precious few are re-signing with their current teams, possibly because owners want to keep money in their pockets — and thus out of the players’ pockets — as a work stoppage approaches.  Under that reasoning, there’s no reason for anyone to sign Shaun Rogers until after the labor situation is resolved.

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Mike McCarthy talks about life as the champ

Super Bowl Football

Mike McCarthy hasn’t appeared on Dave Letterman or a WWE event, but his life has changed subtly since winning the Super Bowl.

I still go to Starbucks every morning. Got a cup with ‘Congratulations!’ on it today – that was nice,” McCarthy said at his season-ending press conference.   “But other than that, they still charged me. So everything’s staying the same.”

McCarthy was meeting with his coordinators Wednesday and Thursday to go over their season-ending evaluations.   The rest of the coaching staff was given time off until the NFL Scouting Combine.  G.M. Ted Thompson is grinding away with his staff on pre-Combine meetings.

While McCarthy says most things haven’t changed, he’s still had a few crazy experiences.  Like talking to the President, for instance.

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League not talking about reason for cancellation of Thursday’s CBA session

Roger S Goodell

With the NFL and the players’ union deciding to pull the plug on a five-hour meeting planned for Thursday to continue the labor-negotiation process, the reason still isn’t known.

For now, the league isn’t elaborating on the reason for the scuttling of Thursday’s meeting,

“We are not confirming, denying, or commenting on CBA meetings at this point,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told PFT via e-mail.  “We are focused on finding a way to get an agreement.”

NFLPA spokesman George Atallah told PFT via e-mail that he’s not personally aware of the reason for the cancellation.

That said, Aiello confirmed that next week’s ownership meeting in Philadelphia has been canceled.  “The Commissioner did not see a need for it right now,” Aiello said.

Maybe Daniel Kaplan is right, after all.

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