Thursday, August 26, 2010

Disingenuous dealings

-- We kickoff today with news that the NFL owners got together in Atlanta and approved the takeover of the St. Louis Rams by part owner Stan Kroenke. Kroenke will be forced to hand over control (both operational and financial) of his two other major sports franchises - the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche - to his son, and has until 2014 I believe in order to sell his majority shares in those ventures. It then appears that the league owners spent the next five hours congratulating each other on what a brilliant idea the 'enhanced' season is. Those of you that follow me regularly will know I hate it. For those that don't; I hate it. Any time you have to describe something as being 'enhanced' instead of just 'extended' means you're on a PR mission of epic proportions, usually because what you're selling isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Like an 18-game regular season for example. Yeah ok, so the fans get an extra pair of games that 'mean' something. In turn, the value of those games is diluted, as you now have 18 games in which to make something happen. I'll give the whole College BCS farce one thing; at least all of the regular season games are important. One slip and that's you potentially done for the year. There's a sense of drama and tension. I think I'd be more open to the idea of an 18-game season if the NFL just came out and said "look, 18 regular season games and 2 pre-season games are more valuable to us when negotiating with TV companies than 16 regular games and 4 pre-season games". Because that's all this is about. That's all the league is really concerned with. It's like Roger Goodell himself. His job is to a) help generate as much revenue as possible and b) keep the NFL looking good in the eyes of the media and the fans. They don't really give a toss whether the fans enjoy pre-season or not. It's cash. Weighing all the positives and negatives, the only thing that stands out as a big positive is that extra TV revenue. For the players it's a balance; will the extra revenue warrant the extra punishment they'll take through out the season, coupled with reduced chances for second and third stringers to get a look in during pre-season? Not that it matters really. As Giants D-Tackle Barry Cofield told the Associated Press "Personally, I don't see how it helps the game, or the quality of the game. But if they demand it, they will probably get it." You got that right son. -- On the flip side, I wish players would stop talking about being asked to take a "pay cut" in the new CBA. On paper, yes, the percentage will go down. But if revenues go up as expected and the league has more money to spend on advertisements, stadiums and other things to grow the game then players will earn more from their reduced percentage than they do now. The reason I take such issue with it is because like the leagues use of 'enhanced season' it's disingenuous (yeah, check out it out! I've learnt a new word). They're twisting the truth for personal ends and when a discussion must take place and people are being asked (through the media) to sympathise or take sides, then we must have the absolute bare truth laid out before us. At the minute it's like... well it's like watching two politicians having a debate. You can't trust either of them and no matter who you vote for you're going to get shafted one way or another. Right, back to that thing that the NFL should be about; Can-Can dancing. Or even football. It's all hotting up in pre-season week 3: -- Rams @ Patriots: Someone at the league office has obviously got a thing against the Rams by sticking them in this one. Talk about lambs to the slaughter. I'll be keeping my beady eye out for CB Jerome Murphy and WR Mardy Gilyard of the Rams, who are on my list of 48 players who I think might do well (suggestions for a catchy name for that list please?) (Danario Alexander is also on the list, but still recovering from injury I believe). With Feeley injured it's expected that Sam Bradford will be thrust into the limelight this season, beginning tomorrow night. It's a tough ask against a Pat's D that has certainly improved since last year. Thankfully for Bradford the Patriots pass rush is still a little suspect, so providing he can avoid doing an Aaron Rodgers circa 2009 impression, then he shouldn't take too many lumps. RB Steven Jackson or as he's otherwise known "the one man offense" is expected to play and will naturally be a focus of the Rams for as long as he's on the field. Defensively the Rams could do with taking inspiration from the chance to beat up Tom Brady to try and lift their pass rush. As for the Patriots, again that pass rush needs work. Eyes should be kept on the two rookie Tight Ends (Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez) who are gradually becoming a bigger and bigger focus of the offense in 2010. Other than that the Patriots have looked pretty darn solid so far. Hopefully me saying that isn't courting disaster. -- Colts @ Packers: I hear low flying air traffic has been banned over Lambeau field as the Packers and Colts prepare for what promises to be an aerial shoot out. Rodgers has simply been on fire so far in the pre-season. Everything he touches seems to turn to gold. Of course building him up like this is destined to end with a spectacular collapse during the regular season, but hey ho. We already knew though that the Packers offense was going to be good this year (eyes out for OT Bryan Bulaga). The question is whether their D can recapture their form from the end of the regular season (not, that play off game). The Colts will certainly provide a worthy test. Until Curtis Painter takes the field of course. Then you might as well flip a coin to decide whether he'll sink or swim. My coin came up with swim, but I'm over-ruling probability in order to say sink. Of course this offense-testing-defense thing works for both teams with the Colts D getting a good work out against the Packers O. Right, that's your lot for the day. I'm feeling quite stingy. Anyway, I'll be back tomorrow at some point to round up the Thursday night games and to look at Fridays contests. Till then, Have a great day everyone.

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