Tag Archives: NFL

BYE BYE NCAA?

John Steigerwald column for 7.19/20.14

Isn’t college football wonderful?

Within the next week or two, student-athletes from all over the country will be gathering on college campuses to prepare for another football season.

At least one of them will have a big, fat insurance policy paid for out of the Student Assistance Fund. That’s the fund that schools use to help kids who may need money to fly home for a funeral or to visit a sick relative. You would think that an organization like the NCAA, which, until this year actually had rules against giving football players cream cheese for their bagels, would have a big problem with that.

Texas A&M’s problem was that its All-Everything offensive tackle, Cedric Ogbuehi, was thinking about declaring for the NFL draft after it was presumed that he would be a number one draft pick.

How do you prevent a kid from signing up for the multi-million dollar signing bonuses that number one picks get?

You insure him for a few million dollars against a career ending injury. The associate AD for football, Justin Moore, told Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports that it’s a loophole in the NCAA rules that, “I don’t think many schools know about it. It’s a game changer.”

Keep in mind that it’s the NCAA and its member institutions of higher learning that recoil at any mention of paying athletes anymore than tuition, room and board. How is giving a kid a $60,000 insurance policy any different from giving him $60, 000 in cash?

There were lots of coaches’ ears perking up when they heard that news. Expect lots of highly insured football players in the future and a lot more players sticking around for that extra year.

Not for anything related to academics, of course, but to enhance their draft status.

The NCAA is a corrupt, bloated, obsolete, useless bureaucracy that needs to go away. And, it just may be going before too long.

The Ed O’Bannon class action lawsuit just wrapped up last week and if O’Bannon wins, the NCAA will never be the same. He sued on behalf of players who, among other things, had their likenesses used to sell billions of dollars worth of video games without being compensated.

An attorney who has worked in the highest levels of professional sports (who spoke on condition of anonymity) said this about the lawsuit:

“I haven’t followed the testimony closely enough to predict the outcome, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. (NCAA President Mark) Emmert and his cohorts are like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in the final scene where they think they fought off their pursuers, not realizing there are scores more awaiting them. The NCAA as we know it is dead. It’s just a matter of who and what, individually or collectively delivers the kill shot.”

“The five big conferences will have complete authority and the NCAA will be figuring out how to fund the millions of dollars of judgments against it that await.”

He had told me before the trial that I should expect “A crater in Indianapolis where the NCAA sits.”

The judge is expected to rule next month.

Can’t wait to see the crater and the chaos that will follow.

The chaos will ultimately make more sense than the NCAA has made in the last 40 years.

PEYTON MANNING OR TERRY BRADSHAW

Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk fell into the same trap that way too many writers fall into when comparing Terry Bradshaw to superstar and/or Hall of Fame quarterbacks who have come after him.

They compare his stats (apples) to theirs (oranges) without taking the differences in the eras into account. Smith found lots of ugly stats from some of Bradshaw’s post season games and he makes the mistake of saying that Bradshaw had little to do with the Steelers’ first two Super Bowl wins.

Johnny Unitas had 7 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions in the post season and put up a 68 passer rating. Quarterbacks took all their snaps from under center in those days. They had two running backs lined up behind them and rarely had more than two wide receivers in the formation.   And their offensive lineman had to keep their hands off of pass rushers. There was a penalty called illegal use of the hands. And defenders  could knock receivers on their asses whenever they felt like it as long as the ball wasn’t in the air.

When those rules were changed to the ones that Manning plays under now Bradshaw put up great numbers. It’s scary to think what  Bradshaw, who did EVERYTHING better than Manning would do in today’s flag football offenses.

You know how many touchdown passes Joe Namath threw in that famous Super Bowl win over the Colts? None. You know what his completion percentage was the week before in the AFC  championship game? 38%. The Jets won the game. His career post season completion percentage was 42%. Namath, like Bradshaw, threw the ball downfield. There was no dinking and dunking.

In 1972, on the way to winning the Super Bowl, Roger Staubach, who also did EVERYTHING better than Manning, threw for 99, 103, 119 yards and had a total of three touchdown passes in three games. In 1978, the first season under the new rules, Staubach was 7-17 and 13-25 in the two playoff games before losing to the Steelers in Super Bowl XIII.

You just can’t compare Bradshaw to modern quarterbacks with stats alone. The guys today are playing a completely different game. Compare Bradshaw to his contemporaries and he looks just fine.

THE NFL PLAYERS’ LAWSUIT EXPLAINED

This is a short and sweet explanation of what’s going on with the former NFL players suing the league for problems caused by concussions.

 

What’s Really Going on in the NFL Head-Injury Lawsuit?

Media outlets are reporting as news that some 2,000 ex-NFL players are suing the league over concussions. But it isn’t really news. So what’s really going on?

Pending before the Honorable Anita B. Brody in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania are at least 60 lawsuits concerning a single subject: whether the National Football League is liable for injuries that players sustain while playing professional football and, particularly, for the long-term effects of concussions.

How did they all get before Judge Brody? Sometimes, a large number of people file very similar lawsuits all around the same time. Generally plaintiffs aren’t required to sue together, so they often file separately. Federal law allows similar cases to be grouped together in something called multidistrict litigation (MDL). A group of judges known as the judicial panel on multidistrict litigation (JPML) decide whether or not to group similar cases together. If the cases have a lot of common factual issues and might see a more efficient outcome if they were grouped together, the panel can transfer the case to a single federal judge for pretrial matters. After all the pretrial matters, like motions to dismiss and discovery, are complete, and if the cases haven’t settled, they’re transferred for trial back to the federal court where each was filed.

In February 2012, the JPML approved an MDL for what in a brief order it called In reNational Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation. And Judge Brody asked the parties to file a “master complaint.”

Each individual case filed has its own complaint, and with 60 or more lawsuits pending, that’s 60 or more complaints to worry about. In complex cases, it’s not uncommon for a federal judge to ask the plaintiffs to file a consolidated complaint, which will streamline the litigation. That way, going forward in a case like this, the NFL as a defendant knows what evidence it has to disclose based on just one set of allegations, and the court can more easily manage the case.

Today, the plaintiffs filed an 88-page master complaint. Most of the counts are against the NFL; a few are against helmet maker Riddell. According to the court, the NFL will have until August 9 to file a motion to dismiss; a decision on that likely won’t be reached until 2013.

Will the plaintiffs succeed? Maybe. In litigation, it’s usually too early to have much certainty when all we have are the allegations that each side trades. Maybe the NFL knew about the long-term effects of concussions on players and kept quiet — that would be similar to the allegations made against the tobacco industry years ago. Or maybe the NFL did its best with the science it had, and the former players are upset that their labor contracts didn’t include enough post-career provision for them.

But one thing is almost certain: These claims will probably settle in the years ahead. The NFL doesn’t want a long public trial showing the grim realities of concussions and head injuries, and the players don’t want to risk that they could be left without any compensation. As to how soon it settles depends on how quickly Judge Brody urges the litigation along.

— Derek T. Muller is associate professor law at Pepperdine University.

KORDELL RETIRES A STEELER

Kordell Stewart came back to Pittsburgh so that he could retire a Steeler.

Despite being misunderstood and misused by several coaches here, including and especially Bill Cowher, he still has fond memories of his time as a Steeler.

If his former teammate Josh Miller said it once, he said it 10 times today on The Fan : The Steelers coaches didn’t know how to use him.

I started saying that in 1998 and became known as his number one apologist. And that’s basically all that I said and continue to say.

Miller also said several times that the coaching staff and some people in management didn’t have his back and that Stewart –considering what’s been happening with NFL quarterbacks lately — was ahead of his time.

Kevin Gilbride spent two years here trying to turn him into Eli Manning.

Stewart is the third best quarterback in Steelers history (Bobby Layne wasn’t here long enough) and ended up being a wasted talent.

And he’s one of the nicest guys ever to play in Pittsburgh.

Nice to see him have a little moment today.

ARE STEROID USERS CHEATERS

Does taking PEDs to improve your athletic performance amount to cheating?

I never had a strong opinion on the subject.

Now I do.

Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated makes the case by showing how players who decided to stay clean during baseball’s steroid era were cheated.

As I read this piece…which is ridiculously well written, by the way… I couldn’t help remembering the conversation I had with Dr. Charles Yesalis, the steroids expert from Penn State, a couple of weeks ago.

He said he finds references to MLB’s post-steroid era “hilarious” and says that he believes PED use in MLB is still rampant.

I also couldn’t help thinking about the NFL and how the culture must still be a lot like MLB’s  drug culture of 10 or 12 years ago described by Verducci.