Talking Football with Aaron Burns (Charlotte Weekly)

 

By Dan Rubin

Noontime Sports had the chance to talk some football with our good friend Aaron Burns of the Charlotte Weekly recently about the upcoming season, as well as what fans should expect to occur the next few weeks around the league.

DR: Free Agency is off to a roaring start, but due to the short window, does that mean some players are going to be overpaid or underpaid? Also, does that mean players are more likely to get short or long-term deals and jump at the first offer?

AB: I think with the number of free agents being so high, the number of teams with many needs being high, and teams’ front office personnel being the same number, phones are going to ring off the hook. It’s going to make for possibly the most entertaining preseason ever.

DR: Al Davis abstained from voting on the new CBA deal. Can we confirm if he was actually alive or at least sane?

AB: Al Davis is the guy in the fraternity who voted no on the best incoming pledge class just because he could. There’s always one guy like that, and frankly, I thoroughly enjoy his presence as both outlaw and owner of a middling at best team.

DR: During the lockout, drafted rookies weren’t allowed to receive playbooks and in the case of the Carolina Panthers, who drafted Cam Newton, how did that particular waiting period help or hurt his development toward future success in the league?

AB: Newton got his playbook in the one day the lockout was lifted and has been training at IMG headquarters in California with former pro quarterbacks Chris Weinke and Ken Dorsey. Supposedly in late June, he had already absorbed “95 percent” of the Panthers’ new playbook. His learning curve shouldn’t be as bad as some say.

DR: As for the direct part – a lot was made about rookie wage scales and contracts. It looks like draft picks will be forced into more amenable contracts against the salary cap.  For a team like the Panther, who had the number one overall pick, being able to avoid giving Newton a top-dollar contract means they’ll have more money to spend on other areas of need. How much is that going to help rebuild the franchise?

AB: The Panthers have always looked to keep their own, and bringing back DeAngelo Williams, Charles Johnson,James Anderson and Thomas Davis will be paramount. But with this extra cap room, they have the funds to go after a veteran quarterback or a solid offensive lineman, defensive tackle or cornerback. There are some on the market.

DR: When teams report, it’s a short window for preparing for the upcoming season, so which teams are going to get ready the quickest and which ones could fall behind without the offseason conditioning and OTA’s?

AB: The Cincinnati Bengals have to be in the worst shape. Their presumptive quarterback, Andy Dalton, to my knowledge, as a second round pick didn’t get a playbook. Even if he did, he hasn’t been in a camp-like environment like Newton and Minnesota Vikings rookie quarterback Christian Ponder. No team is in great shape, but the quickest turnaround could be in New Orleans. With a rookie running back and most of the core intact, their drop-off is almost non-existent.

DR: Prediction time – Week 6, who’re the teams that break out of the gate fast? Who would be a team or two that you’d believe would be ahead of the curve by this point of the season?

AB: The Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers routinely start strong, and I think they can do it again this year. If I’m going with a surprise pick, watch out for the Kansas City Chiefs.

DR: Instead of spending 11-hours in front of the television, what was your Lockout plans?

AB: You can’t lock out college football. So the gridiron would still dominate my weekends, NFL or not.

DR: How happy are you that the NFL is back in action? Is it a good feeling?

AB: It’s more of a relief to have the NFL and the NCAA than just the NCAA. My life seems to have more harmony with both. But the seasons haven’t started yet. Everyone can have hope of a championship. Well, maybe not the Jacksonville Jaguars’ fans, but most of everyone.

The NFL Is Back and Ready to Roll

Jeff Saturday hugs New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft, as the NFL announced the end of the lockout on Monday.

By Hayden Bird 

While questions abound, one thing is now beyond doubt: the National Football League will return, triumphantly for the 2011 season.

On Monday, July 25, 2011, the NFL agreed to new 10-year collective bargaining agreement with no opt-out clause, (so we’re guaranteed a decade before another lockout can happen again) and in the famous words of a man who once saved from a similarly horrible fate, “tonight, I shall sleep the sleep of the saved and the thankful.”

Yet for all our jubilation at the return of our beloved pastime, there remains a lingering question.

For example, the NFL has apparently allotted $1 billion in “new funds” for retired players, with a reported $620 million to be used for a specially created “Legacy Fund” that would increase the pensions of players who retired before 1993.

No one outside of the immediately involved parties knows the details of this agreement yet. What constitutes a “retired player”? And is the newly added $1 billion taken from the players cut of the revenue?

Still, the agreement is in place, with an amazing amount of progress.

The Basics:  The crux of the conflict between the owners and the players was over redrawing the revenue distribution and in the end, there wasn’t much of a change. Sure, technically the owners “won” by forcing themselves into a majority of the revenue in an agreement that had previously been closer to a 50-50 split.

But the previous agreement had allowed the owners to take one billion dollars off the top every season. Now, that money gets included in the split with the players.

To summarize, everyone will be a little richer. That might be a gross over-simplification of months of negotiating, but it’s true nonetheless.

Also, the 18-game season idea went out the window. At least until 2013, when the owners can officially try and lobby for it again, but it would require that the players agree to it, so it’s not likely.

The cap gets reinstalled at a lower rate than in 2009 (there was no cap last year). In the near term, there’s a degree of wiggle room for teams who would otherwise struggle to adjust to a newer, lower cap in other circumstances (ahem Dallas Cowboys).

A new addition is a minimum salary cap. So to the people, who run the Cincinnati Bengals, just know that you can no longer nickel and dime your franchise. 99% of the salary cap must be spent in cash over the next two years. After that it settles to a slightly lower margin, but still guarantees a raise for players with minimum deals.

Does Sam Bradford deserve a large salary?

Rookie Contracts: The rookie contract situation is the centerpiece of what fans would call “progress” in this deal.

Last year around this time, the football world was looking around in unmitigated horror as Sam Bradford, the 2010 NFL draft’s first overall pick who had yet to play a down, was signed to a contract with more guaranteed money than three-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady.

That kind of insanity is usually reserved for our Federal Government (themselves in a serious negotiation).

So the NFL parties resolved this issue, drastically reducing rookie contracts. Cam Newton, instead of garnering a deal which Peyton Manning would covet, can now expect a salary on par with a mediocre starter.

To put it in perspective: instead of Sam Bradford’s six year, $78 million contract, Newton’s maximum will be roughly only $22 million over four years, with a fifth year option that could up the deal to $36 million overall.

That’s a big change, one that rookies will now feel instantly, as they sign up almost instantly for their new teams.

Training Camps: Rookies won’t be the only ones finding the rapid conditions of the new CBA difficult to take in. Established players, coaches and fans alike will now be scrambling to adjust.

Keep in mind that coaches and players haven’t been able to officially talk in months. Now, in the blink of an eye, we’re told that all 32 training camps will be going by the end of the week.

It defines the NFL’s modern concept of speed and its central role in the game.

Free Agency: Teams and free agents can now talk, and deals can be officially processed starting on Friday. Between camps starting and a shortened free agent period, this should make for some perfectly bizarre scenes where new players have mere days to acclimate before showing up in preseason games.

And speaking of preseason games, they will come back starting August 11th.

So after months of trepidation and panic for the many millions of NFL fans, we can thankfully note that only the Hall of Fame game looks set to be a casualty to the formally closed Lockout of 2011.

Daily Noontime – July 25, 2011

The NFL season rests on the shoulders of DeMaurice Smith, as well as the NFLPA.

Good Day to everyone and welcome into yet another wonderful Daily Noontime! Here’s the headlines and news of the day, so enjoy! 

Headlines: 

* Monday should be an important day in the NFL, as the players and owners should officially shake hands, as well as end the lockout.

* Sunday was a special day, as the Boston Red Sox ended their three-game series with the Seattle Mariners with a win, but also, celebrated Tim Wakefield‘s 2,000th strikeout too.

* Sadly, Michael Phelps and Team USA settled for the bronze medal on Sunday at the 400-meter freestyle relay, which isn’t a great feeling, right?

* More news is currently being released on Monday about Lorenzen Wright‘s death, as well as what the Memphis police department didn’t do right.

* The Mariners extended their losing streak to 15-games, but is that something to be proud of, especially as a M’s fan?

* Sunday was an exciting day, as Cooperstown, New York welcomed a few new members to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Games to Watch: 

* Pittsburgh at Atlanta (MLB) – 7:00pm eastern 

* Seattle at New York Yankees (MLB) – 7:05pm eastern 

* Kansas City at Boston (MLB) – 7:10pm eastern 

Video of the Day: 

How awesome is it when you watch Shaquille O’Neal show off his puppetry skills? 

The NFL Lockout Remains, In the hands of the NFLPA

When will the NFL Lockout officially end?

By Matt Noonan 

The NFL Lockout is almost over, yet, despite the owners vote on Thursday, it’s officially in the hands of the players. Although, do the players really want to be held accountable or responsible for delaying the start of the 2011 season?

I don’t think so.

On Friday, reports surfaced that the players will most likely not vote, yet instead, focus their attention on Myra Kraft, the wife of New England Patriots owner, Bob Kraft, who passed away this past week after losing her battle with cancer.

NFLPA president, Kevin Mawae, released a statement to the league on Friday, which read, “Player leadership is discussing the most recent written proposal with the NFL, which includes a settlement agreement deal terms and the right process for addressing recertification. There will not be any further NFLPA statements today respect for the Kraft family while they mourn the loss of Myra Kraft.”

According to multiple reports, had the players agreed on the new CBA, (Collective Bargaining Agreement), the 2011 season would have begun on Wednesday at 2:00pm eastern.

However, the players can wait until next Tuesday, July 26 to cast their vote. Yet, it seems that some believe the players still have a few issues with the new CBA, which would last approximately 10-years.

All in all, it seems like the NFL is on its way back, although, when will the new season begin, continues to be a major question mark.

Daily Noontime – July 22, 2011

The NFL owners are ready for some football!

It’s hot today… WICKED hot! In fact, it’s almost too hot for a Daily Noontime, right? NO… NEVER! Well, anyways, here’s the day’s headlines and news, enjoy!

Headlines:

* On Thursday the NFL owners ratified a new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement), yet, what exactly did they approve?

* Sadly, the NFL lockout has yet to be lifted because of the players, yet, once they officially vote, football will return to normal… hopefully.

* Good news for Boston Red Sox fans, they want to keep Jacoby Ellsbury in centerfield for a while.

* As of now, Kobe Bryant and Deron Williams are just a few of the big NBA names that are either planning or considering going abroad, but why is that a bad thing?

* According to sources, two new suspects who were involved with beating a San Francisco Giants fan outside Dodgers stadium were arrested.

* This sounds interesting, Chad Ochocinco explaining why he’s “allergic” to the sun. Again, fascinating stuff, right?

Games to Watch: 

* St. Louis at Pittsburgh (MLB) – 7:05pm eastern 

Milwaukee at San Francisco (MLB) – 10:15pm eastern

Video of the Day: 

Get excited because “Sunday Night Football” looks like it’s on the way! 

Daily Noontime – July 21, 2011

New England Patriots fans will never forget the late great, Myra Kraft!

It’s hot… in fact, it’s getting too hot, right? Yep, it’s Thursday and of course, it’s summertime, which means, it’s going to be a hot one, so drink loads of water and stay cool, my friends! In the meantime, here’s the Daily Noontime for Thursday July 21, 2011. 

Headlines: 

* It seems that the NFL owners can ratify a deal on Thursday for a new CBA despite the fact that the NFL PA hasn’t voted.

* Sad news came Wednesday morning, as the world learned of Myra Kraft‘s passing, which is an incredible loss for the entire Kraft and Hiatt family, as well as the New England Patriots.

* Apparently the Texas Rangers are planning a new “lay out” for ballpark safety, so they can prevent any future injuries or deaths.

* The MLB Trade Deadline hasn’t come or gone just yet, however, the Detroit Tigers acquired Wilson Betemit from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for two Class-A prospects.

* Tiger Woods is back in the news due to firing his old caddy, which could be a good or bad thing, right?

* Well, the Ivy League has made some changes for the upcoming football season, which will hopefully limit “head trauma.”

Games to Watch: 

* St. Louis at New York Mets (MLB) – 12:10pm eastern 

* Texas at Los Angles of Anaheim Angels (MLB) – 3:35pm eastern 

* New York Yankees at Tampa Bay (MLB) – 7:10pm eastern 

Video of the Day: 

Nothing better than Hope Solo and Alex Morgan welcoming viewers to ESPN’s Sports Nation!

Daily Noontime – July 19, 2011

Get excited NFL Fans because the lockout is close to over!

It’s Tuesday morning in America, how are you? Well, again, it’s Tuesday, which means the work week continues, so here’s the headlines and news you need to know to have a super day! 

Headlines: 

* Monday was yet another important day for the NFL, but yet, one has to wonder, when will this particular lockout actually end?

* Apparently some believe that Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett needs veteran players to help his team be successful.

* Good news NBA fans, Michael Jordan can still dunk at the ripe old age of 48.

* Well, it seemed there was a potential deal in place for the Boston Celtics to earn some stake in Comcast Sports New England, which is intriguing news.

* According to sources, Jose Reyes is expected to rejoin the New York Mets lineup on Tuesday.

Games to Watch: 

* Boston at Baltimore (MLB) – 7:05pm eastern 

* Seattle at Toronto (MLB) – 7:05pm eastern 

* Philadelphia at Chicago Cubs (MLB) – 8:05pm eastern 

* Atlanta at Colorado (MLB) – 8:40pm eastern 

Video of the Day: 

This is something you don’t see that often, right?