Week Five mailbag

Every Saturday night, we answer your questions in written form.

And then, every Saturday night, we try to come up with a mildly entertaining introduction to the process.

And we usually fail.

So let’s just get on to the questions and the answers.

Should being a constant team distraction be a factor in Hall of Fame
voting when thinking about Randy Moss or Terrell Owens?  They both have
great, Hall of Fame-caliber numbers, but both players are viewed as the kinds of players who are constant distractions and hurt
their teams with their actions/words on or off the field.  Motorbreath2000.

The Hall of Fame’s rules prohibit consideration of off-field misconduct when determining whether a player is worthy of enshrinement.  (That said, plenty of Hall of Fame voters consider off-field misconduct, especially in close cases.)  When it comes to players like Owens and Moss, much of their bad behavior occurred either on the field or close enough to the field to affect what happened on it.

Owens has been a locker-room cancer in past years.  At best, he uses passive-aggressive tactics to pit teammates against each other.  At worst, he has been overtly disruptive, acting out in order to get his way — and acting even worse when he didn’t get his way.

Moss has quit, at one time or another and to one degree or another, on every team for which he has played.  “I play when I wanna play” may not be destined for his tombstone, but it should be etched onto the base of his bust in Canton.  If Moss had demanded the most from himself, and from those around him, he would have never left Minnesota and he’d possibly be working on finishing off a fist of Super Bowl rings.

Both will get in.  The question is whether and to what extent they’ll have to wait beyond the first ballot.

As much hate to say this, I am beginning worry about the Cleveland Browns again.  There seems to be significant issues with the team (pass rush, inexperienced receivers who cant get open), yet the coaching staff expects us fans to be happy about this and hope for the best.  I was one who supported Holmgren when he first joined the organization.  But I can’t seem to shake this feeling that we are going in the same direction again.  Case in point if you look at the Browns’ draft this year, of all the picks we had after Joe Haden and T.J. Ward seem to be bust, and rest seem to be mediocre.  We have no receivers who can get open and I know they’re young.  But why not sign a veteran, and why haven’t we addressed the pass rush?  Why can’t the Browns seem to get their young players to develop properly.  Why did we draft quarterback Colt McCoy?  It seems like there’s plenty of projects and overachievers already on this team.  We have a coach and president from two different philosophies.  At what point do we start to produce a competitive team in our division?  My question to you is how can we rebuild not only this team, but the organization as a whole.  What’s your formula?  Christopher J.

Christopher, your concerns are valid, but the key is to be patient.  (I know, you’re been patient for more than a decade.)  Owner Randy Lerner previously has made bad decisions when hiring coaches and General Managers, and the Phil Savage era has created major problems that can’t be cured in a couple of offseasons.  By hiring Holmgren and giving him the keys and getting out of the car, Lerner has shown that he finally gets it.

Don’t get caught up in the performance of mid-to-low-round draft picks; most of them require time to develop and many of them never do.  As to McCoy, he widely was considered to be a steal in round three.  In time, he could become the starter.

This year, the Browns have been competitive in every game.  Though they currently are stuck in an extremely competitive division, the Browns seem to be moving in the right direction, even if it takes a long time to get the destination.

If the Pats decided to keep Randy Moss for this season but not resign him, wouldn’t they be eligible for a compensatory pick in the next draft?  If so, they likely would have gotten a third round pick for him (albeit at the end of the round), and they have instead only succeeded in moving up a few slots in that round.  Jonathen M.

We’ve spent time this week trying to obtain insight regarding the procedure for determining compensatory draft picks.  The labor agreement creates the system, and it contemplates that the league and the union will separately agree to the process for awarding extra picks.

Here’s the only statement the league will provide on the matter:  “Compensatory free
agents are determined by a formula based on salary, playing time and
postseason honors.  The formula was developed by the NFL Management
Council.  Not every free agent lost or signed by a club is covered by
this formula.”  (The NFL disseminates only general information regarding the process,
apparently to avoid the stream of speculation and questions that would
come each year as the picks are determined.)

Picks are available
based on the net loss of restricted free agents from the prior year.  If
Randy Moss had left the Patriots as a free agent after the 2010 season but if
the Patriots had signed more free agents from other teams than they ultimately
lost, the Patriots would have gotten no compensatory draft picks.

Per a union source, the NFLPA has not been involved in the development of the formula and, amazingly, the union doesn’t even have in its possession a copy of the official blueprint for determining the picks.

One important point to keep in mind is that, even if the Patriots had received a third-round pick for Moss, the pick would have come in 2012, not 2011.  The Patriots possibly could trade the third-round pick in 2011 that they received from the Vikings for a second-round pick in 2012.

Is it possible that the owners are purposely not buying the remaining tickets available, leading to a home game sellout? It has been reported that they can purchase the tickets for 34 cents on the dollar.  This is nothing to most NFL teams.  I’m sure there may even be a write off involved with this somewhere.  And it definitely helps with P.R. with the locals if the game is on TV.  I can’t help but think that maybe the owners want to use these non-sellouts as a bargaining tool in the eventual CBA negotiations.  Could the owners be doing this intentionally?  Could they be in cahoots?  C. Sparks.

As much as I love a good conspiracy theory, I doubt that any team wants to see blackouts of its home games.  The ability to purchase unsold non-premium tickets at 34 cents on the dollar has existed for a while, but games were blacked out even when the league wasn’t trying to persuade the players that the financial picture isn’t as rosy as it may seem.

That said, we’ve heard accounts of irregularities regarding attempts to purchase tickets to the Buccaneers’ Week Three home game against the Steelers, which has prompted some to wonder whether the Buccaneers wanted to prevent a sellout.  Even if that’s accurate (and we don’t know whether it is), we can’t imagine any team wanting to avoid a sellout.

With all the talk of blackouts and empty seats, isn’t about time that teams consider lowering ticket prices?  Even a small reduction in price could be a big P.R. move that allows the NFL to leave the blackout rule in place as is.  Teams still will make plenty of money from concessions and, of course, their massive TV deals.  Their fans and local TV partners would be much happier.  Perhaps it’s too late for this year, but do you think this is being considered?  Andy K.

If I’ve learned one thing about the business world from watching The Apprentice, it’s the importance of setting the right price point.  The problem with cutting prices is that, if reduced sales are resulting from a short-term economic dip, it will be hard to raise ticket prices back to pre-recession levels once the economy improves.

Ticket pricing has emerged from time to time as a point of contention regarding the concept of revenue sharing.  Some believe that all teams should set the prices at the maximum level the local market will permit, and we’ve heard complaints that teams like the Steelers and the Packers aren’t charging enough, given their lengthy waiting lists for season tickets.

Still, as the consumers of football gravitate toward watching the game on television instead of paying for the privilege of watching the games in person, the broader economics should tilt more heavily toward the generation of more revenue via TV deals, which in all fairness should be offset by a reduction in ticket prices, which will ensure more sellouts.

What is your current assessment of Bill Belichick?  He comes across like something from a Greek tragedy who started out doing everything right with great success, but over time it seems like he trusts that no one can do any team task as well as him.  (He doesn’t even have a offensive or defensive coordinator.)  This could potentially end with him and the team imploding.  Rasmus H.

Belichick remains a brilliant tactician and game-day coach, and if being the protagonist of a Greek tragedy carries with it three Super Bowl rings, plenty of coaches will be performing entire episodes of Law & Order at the audition.

Those who dislike Belichick relish the fact that his lieutenants largely have failed elsewhere; in our view, this reality tends to reinforce the fact that Belichick retains primary responsibility for the team’s success.

His excitement following Monday night’s win over the Dolphins has been interpreted as evidence that he believes the Patriots are recapturing their no-name vibe from 2001, during which players accepted and responded to coaching — and in turn the team excelled.

Besides, the team hardly has declined.  Three years ago, the Patriots won 18 straight games.  The next year, they had double-digit victories without their franchise quarterback.  Last year, they won the division.

Where would be the possible landing spots for the Vikings after Brett Farve finally decides to retire?  Joe C, San Antonio.

The Vikings’ long-term destination depends in large part on the ability of the franchise to finagle partial public funding for a new stadium.  The Minnesota legislature meets again in early 2011, with a session that ends in May.  Given that the lease on the Metrodome expires after the 2011 season, the folks in Minnesota realize that it’s now or never to save the team.

As of 2012, the Vikings will become geographic free agents.  Owner Zygi Wilf could sell the team to the highest bidder who’d then possibly move the team.

Many assume Los Angeles would be the destination.  Given the inability of the Raiders and Chargers to sell out their stadiums in Calfornia, I’m not so sure that’s the best destination.

What would have to happen to the Packers for G.M. Ted Thompson to be replaced?  As history has proven you need both a run and pass game to win Super Bowls but it appears that Ted does not recognize this.  He had the opportunity to draft a complement back out the draft but failed to do so.  He had the opportunity to get Michael Turner, LaDanian Tomlinson, Thomas Jones, Larry Johnson, Ricky Williams.  But he never pulls the trigger.  Nathaniel.

Though some (like me) think that Thompson should have done whatever he had to do to best Seattle’s relatively meager offer from Marshawn Lynch, Thompson resisted.  Thompson, like many in the league, apparently believes that running backs are plentiful — and cheap.  The problem is that the two running backs who have replaced Ryan Grant (Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn) have yet to stand out, forcing the Packers toward their passing game and setting the stage for trouble once the turf becomes tundra (which as Vince Lombardi points out in the play Lombardi is by definition frozen, making the popular phrase a redundancy).

As to Thompson’s job security, not having an owner helps.  It doesn’t translate to a lifetime process, but it requires a broader consensus to make a change.

I saw Coach Singletary clapping his hands as the Falcons were lining up to attempt a would-be game winning field goal.  Then I saw Coach Singletary clapping his hands after the field goal went through the uprights. Is that some kind of samurai motivational technique or is he just lost out there?  Jeffrey R.

Maybe he had money on the Falcons.

As a die-hard Dolphins fan, how should I feel right now about this team?  The first two games, although not really pretty, resulted in road wins and everything seemed good.  Then they came home for two games against division opponents and lost both.  Do you believe the Fins can get back into the hunt for the division, because I do.  Your thoughts?  Andrew.

At 2-2, only two things are certain.
The Dolphins’ best record could be 14-2, and their worst could be 2-14.

The game against the Jets could have gone either way, and the second half of the game against the Patriots arguably was an aberration.  Unfortunately, the Dolphins have placed more pressure on themselves by losing to their chief division rivals at home.

Either way, there’s a long way to go before the dust settles on the 2010 season.

Alex Smith has been struggling and Shaun Hill has looked pretty good for the Lions so I was wondering if you think the 49ers kept the wrong the quarterback this season?  Chris W.

I have a feeling that the 49ers would be 0-4 regardless of whether Hill or Smith were the quarterback.  And I have a feeling that the Lions would still be 0-4.

Chris Mortensen reported that the Bills are open to trading Lee Evans.  Do you see that as a possibility for the Pats?  I’ve seen the Bills do some whacky things and it looks like they’re in a complete rebuilding mode so have you heard anything on that front?  Andrew, MA.

It would be a surprise, even though the Pats once traded Drew Bledsoe to the Bills.  The Bills would (or at least should) be inclined to take less to get him out of the division, and particularly to keep him out of New England, where he could help the Patriots fill the void created by the Randy Moss trade.

How much of an impact does a former NFL head coach have on a current head coach’s staff? They’ve dealt with the media scrutiny and have had to balance offense, defense and special teams.  What say you?  Darren H.

It depends.  Sometimes, having a former head coach in an assistant’s role could be a distraction, if the former head coach tries to do too much, or if divided loyalties arise in the locker room.  In other cases, the mere fact that an assistant was good enough as an assistant to become a head coach means that (drum roll, please) he’ll be a good assistant again.

Either way, any head coach who employs a former head coach has to be secure in his position and willing to trust the the former head coach will accept his new-old role — especially since the former head coach easily becomes the first option to be the interim head coach if the current head coach generates sufficiently poor results to get fired.

What would be one team playing poorly so far that you think can/will make the playoffs?  What about a team doing well right now that can/will miss the playoffs?  Motorbreath.

If the 0-4 49er beat the Vick-less Eagles on Sunday night (on NBC, by the way), the Niners could enter their bye week at 4-4, given that they next play the Panthers, Raiders, and Broncos.  And if the Niners enter their bye week at 4-4, they could be in the thick of the NFC West hunt, given that the three teams in front of them currently are 2-2 each.

The Bears, despite their 3-1 record, could be headed for a fourth straight season with no postseason, which also would result in 2011 being their first season after the termination of Lovie Smith.

Why didn’t the Redskins make a trade for Randy Moss?  Dave R.

Moss most likely wouldn’t have wanted to play for the Redskins, and the Redskins wouldn’t have wanted Moss if he didn’t want to be there.  He wants to play for a contender and to catch enough passes to drive up his market value for 2011.  The chances of that happening are significantly greater in Minnesota.

Why aren’t players penalized for “going to the ground” during a TD celebration when they take a knee and pray, then point to the sky?  Hans E.

In 2008, former NFL V.P. of officiating Mike Pereira said that the league allows players to go to the ground as part of a prayer.  Pereira explained that he doesn’t want to be struck by lightning.

Last year, Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco fell to his knees after scoring a touchdown in the days following the death of teammate Chris Henry.  No flag was thrown.

Sometimes, however, it’s apparently not obvious that the player is praying.

In unrelated news, Vikings defensive end Jared Allen has changed his religious affiliation to “Rodeo.”

22 responses to “Week Five mailbag

  1. The Browns are horrible and need tp go away! As a Steeler fan, it was a great day when Modell moved the Browns out fo Cleveland! That city deserves nothing! As for lowering tickets, I pay $40 a game for upper deck seats and can see everything! You says you need to be on 50 yard line and in lower bowl??

  2. Anyone who thinks that Moss and Owens shouldn’t go to the hall of fame is not very bright and most likely a racist. It smacks of that “keep your mouth shut” mentality.
    “Hey, Belichick shouldn’t go in because of Spygate and his offputting personality? Also he slept with a married chick!”
    “Favre shouldn’t go in the hall of fame because he was a diva! And sent unwanted dong pics!”
    See how stupid that sounds?

  3. Packers have more players on their team drafted by their current team than anyone else. Compare that to Jerry Angelo’s record in Chicago and I am curious where the frustration comes from.
    Lovie is a great defensive coordinator.

  4. hey florio, i like your site and i’m not one of those hating bashers but u really effed up on the randy moss compensatory pick answer.
    once a player has accrued ten seasons the highest compensatory pick a team can recieve for him is a 5th round pick. that calculation is made before they determine the net losses or gains from lost and recieved free agents.

  5. What a shock. A Browns fan whining again. Holmgren’s been there less than a year and they’re pissed they’re not 4-0. The reason this team never wins is because this idiotic, homer fanbase chases everybody out after 2 years. Florio, these people haven’t been patient and that’s why the team is in the mess it’s in. This is what over a decade of tempy-twantwums does to a franchise that listens to a group of fans with an average–at best–intelligence level.

  6. ok. hall of fame is not supposed to include off field stuff.
    but maybe when you see peter king sunday, you can ask him why dr. z would never allow ken stabler in the hof.
    i’ve been trying to get an answer for years.
    i know dr. z is ill, but i just would like clarification. did he sleep with someone close to z?
    he was alot better than a bunch in the hof – ahem nameth ahem- but there is a definite bias.
    i figure king might have some insight, but he refuses to address the question.

  7. With all the talk of blackouts and empty seats, isn’t about time that teams consider lowering ticket prices? Even a small reduction in price could be a big P.R. move that allows the NFL to leave the blackout rule in place as is. Teams still will make plenty of money from concessions and, of course, their massive TV deals. Their fans and local TV partners would be much happier. Perhaps it’s too late for this year, but do you think this is being considered? Andy K.
    I’d argue ticket prices are either just right or not high enough. It’s basic supply and demand. When you consider the majority of NFL games sell out every week, and the only places that don’t and get blacked out are the same places that don’t and get blacked out every year anyway, it’s not a matter of prices being too high for the average fan. It’s more like fans of those teams don’t want to pay to watch their team lose.
    What would have to happen to the Packers for G.M. Ted Thompson to be replaced? As history has proven you need both a run and pass game to win Super Bowls but it appears that Ted does not recognize this. He had the opportunity to draft a complement back out the draft but failed to do so. He had the opportunity to get Michael Turner, LaDanian Tomlinson, Thomas Jones, Larry Johnson, Ricky Williams. But he never pulls the trigger. Nathaniel.
    There is no correlation to having a top running game and making it to, or winning the Super Bowl. There hasn’t been for quite some time either.
    Consider the following list of Super Bowl participants and champions:
    2009- Colts = #32 in rushing. Saints were 6.
    2008- Cardinals = #32. Super Bowl Champion Steelers= #23
    2007- Giants= #4. The Patriots, who went undefeated in the regular season finished the year ranked 13 in rushing.
    2006- Super Bowl Champion Colts- 18. The Bears? 15th.
    2005- Steelers #5, Seahawks #3.
    2004- Pats- #7, Eagles #24
    2003- Panthers= #7 in rushing. Champion Patriots= #27
    2002- Raiders #18, Tampa Bay- #27
    Going back to 2002, 8 of the 18 Super Bowl participants had running games ranked in the bottom half of the league. Only 6 of the 18 teams had running games ranked in the top 10.
    As you can see, having a top running game in the league != a Super Bowl appearance or win. Time to stop with the Ted Thompson hate and realize he might just know a little more than your average fan and talking head.

  8. That’s stupid that players can go to their knees if it has to do with their religion but not otherwise. This type of rule needs to be “yes you can do it or no you can’t” not “if you claim you are praying to some deity you can, if not… tough crap. PC nation rears its ugly head again and noses into areas in as inappropriate a way as a drunk ex at your wedding. In other words like the drunk ex, PC nation makes no sense and usually divides rather than unifies while making a mockery of itself. I respect people’s right to worship as they please (For example, I don’t mind when players mention their faith as an important thing in their life or pray on the field after a game, etc.) but this rule is not the place to promote religious themed celebrations over other expressions of celebration because it is completely unfair to judge something like that based on this issue.

  9. If the 0-4 49er beat the Vick-less Eagles on Sunday night… unfortunate typo narrowly avoided?

  10. im disgusted that you think the 49ers would beat the panthers…ahhh people will be suckin some carolina D in 2 years..

  11. I think Holmgren is going to prove to be the next Matt Millen… Well, maybe not that bad, but I see the Browns going nowhere as long as he’s there.
    Him pulling rank to draft Colt McCoy proves that he doesn’t “get it” and keeping Mangini around was another questionable decision. The game has passed him by.

  12. “In unrelated news, Vikings defensive end Jared Allen has changed his religious affiliation to “Rodeo.””

  13. TT is the best thing to happen to the packers. we’re going to be competitive and vie for the super bowl every year for the next 10 years at least. wanting to can him because he didnt pull the knee jerk trigger on a RB who very well may self destruct again is just childish

  14. Hans E. is right though.
    It’s wrong to have different rules for thanking god or thanking your dead grandmom.
    Even when using the same logic as Pereira; he always goes on about the rules needing to be black and white with as little as possible room for judgement calls… This one doesnt belong in the rulebook.

  15. Mike Holmgren is not a personnel man. He proved that in Seattle when he had to give up the GM job. In Green Bay he had Ron Wolf doing that job. Cleveland is in trouble if he is running the drafts.

  16. OK…my 2 cents on my Brownies…
    First…to be a Browns fan is a special calling. You must be at once tolerant of the worst that can be thrown at a football fan and yet be intolerant off all you recieve. You love your team without regard to what happens to them…and it surely happens. This team has been terrible…it was always just a bit short of success since 1964’s championship…but after Modell stole the team away and we came back, it has been intolerable.
    That said…some of us realize that this has been a team that for ten years placed nothing upon a solid foundation of nothing. Now…as fans we have reached a point that we began to no longer tolerate ineptitude. The problem is…the hole is so deep it cannot be climbed out of in a single season and a significant portion of the fan base demands exactly that. This team…in one year…has gone from the most miserable bunch of misfit cogs at this point last year (0-5 as of this week) to a team that while only 1-3 has been very competetive in each game and could potentially have had a much better record.
    I for one demanded that this year we be given good solid competetive football and we have been given this. It started last year with the efforts of Eric Mangini and that continues, now bolstered by the decisions made by Holmgren and Heckert. Yet the frustrated still holler for Mangini’s head, I suppose because it is stylish. Stop and look seriously for a few moments and you start to realize this is NOT last years team and surely not the 08 team…and that Mangini has instilled a confidence and drive that will bring success. Holmgren and Heckert allow mangini to just coach, and that is where he is showing us his strength. The caliber of the 09 draft and the 10 draft shows the difference as well.
    The browns are still a ways away, but they are being built to last this time. For those who must hate them…hate away. Division rivals and the like will always engage in such things. After all, I respect the Steelers and what they have built and maintain…but I hate em and they suck…its a division rival thing to do…but they got a sneak preview of the future last year…the bengals got one last week…and the Ravens almost got one week before.
    To quote that great philosopher Ben Stiller as he faced down the evil monkey in the museum….”theres a storm comin…”

  17. The Bills would never trade away their star receiver neverless trade him away to one of their biggest rivals. I believe the Bills have made a few crazy moves within this past year but trading away Lee Evans? When the day comes when evans is dropping balls left and right, when the Bills have a few elite WR’s, that might be a possibility. But until then, I think things will stay pretty much the way they are.

  18. Ha usual whiny steeler drivel. Browns have more championships than Pitt and as usual steeler whine. That’s jut sore loser talk. And everytime they claim pre-merger doesn’t count? Yea that’s just more sore loser talk. (in all other pro league no one discounts pre-merger championships). Yea my team has fewer than Pitt or cle but you don’t hear me whining. Win a few more Pitt, then you can boast… There’s a reason the pro football HOF is in NE Ohio …

  19. (which as Vince Lombardi points out in the play Lombardi is by definition frozen, making the popular phrase a redundancy
    That’s a tautology mate.
    The tea party was the worse thing that could possibly haven’t your country!
    Love the site though!

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