Billionaires vs Millionaires? A Former NFL Employee speaks out on the true victims of a lockout

Roger Goodell can afford to work for $1.

2 Guys Discuss talk about the true victims of the NFL lockout with former NFL Employee, Jason Anderson @JasonEAnderson, as well as the off the field the troubles of Dez Bryant, Aqib Talib, and Jason Peters.

Lastly, 2 Guys discuss their busted brackets and who they think will win the 2011 NCAA championship.

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A first round Lock – Jake Locker shines at his Pro Day

Jake Locker has every reason to smile after today's performance

For the tremendous amount of pressure he should have felt going into today’s University of Washington Pro Day, Jake Locker certainly looked relaxed.  Through the magic of ESPN3, fans were able to tune into the event and see Locker’s rookie free agent-to-be teammates (apologies go to OLB Mason Foster who generally is considered a 2nd-3rd round pick) go through the NFL combine drills.  Locker chose to skip those drills, sticking with his stellar numbers from the combine and made all those in attendance and watching online wait to see him throw.  He did not disappoint.  In the main event,  Jake Locker gave NFL scouts what they have been waiting for from this year’s crop of quarterbacks, a masterful performance in which he completed 40 of his 42 attempts.  Locker’s only incompletions scraped the fingertips of his receivers and came on throws 50+ yards downfield in which he showcased great arm strength.  With a little bit of added effort from his receiving corps, Locker could have been a perfect 42 of 42 on the day. 

He made throws to running backs coming out of the backfield, he hit tight ends running seam routes, he hit receivers on deep outs, all the while looking extremely confident and pin-point precise.  His throws were always tight spirals and his velocity looked ready for Sundays.  For a quarterback whose athleticism has never been in question, today’s showing proved to his detractors that Locker can consistently make the throws needed to be a productive NFL quarterback.

What does this mean for the upcoming draft?  Prior to today, both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay of ESPN had Jake Locker going to the Seahawks at pick 25.  It is time to reshuffle those draft boards guys. 

Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton still figure to hear their names called before Locker, but quarterback needy teams have to be salivating at what they saw today.  Do the Washington Redskins need to trade up into the top 5 to get Gabbert or Newton when they can just take the guy at pick 10 who ESPN’s Brock Huard said “aced the test” today?  Can Tennessee, picking 8th, really afford to ignore the most glaring weakness on their team and pass up a quarterback with Locker’s ability?  If Locker slips to pick 12, how could the Brett Favre-less Vikings pass on another quarterback with a 96 MPH fastball?

Many people criticized Jake Locker for not declaring for last year’s draft when many felt he would have been a surefire top 12 pick.  Critics said his inconsistent senior year might leave him behind the likes of Ryan Mallett of Arkansas and Andy Dalton of TCU in the minds of NFL teams.  With his efforts today, Jake Locker silenced those critics and proved he is once again a lock to be one of the first 12 names called on draft night.

Have we seen the last of Terrell Owens and Randy Moss?

For the better part of 13 years, Terrell Owens and Randy Moss have terrorized opposing defenses.  Both receivers have dealt with their share of issues through the years (like Randy talking about his finances and Terrell using his driveway as a gym), but their incredible talents have always kept them on NFL rosters and among the league leaders in receiving.  With the 2011 season in jeopardy, will both receivers end their careers with 153 touchdowns?

Packer fans may not have to worry about seeing this again.

It seems almost surreal to think that players who have been so dominant would struggle to find a roster spot.  The only receiver in NFL history who had numbers better than these two was Jerry Rice, and he was still playing at age 42.  The league is different now though, and we need to look no further than the way Marvin Harrison’s career unceremoniously ended to understand that we may have seen the last of Moss and Owens.

As Harrison was looking for work during the 2009 offseason, Len Pasquarelli of ESPN took a look at the changing trend at the receiver position.  Harrison was coming off a subpar 60 catch season, but with his off-the-field issues becoming more of a problem, the market for Harrison and his diminishing talents was not-existent.  It is very likely that Owens and Moss will face a similar fate if their next opportunity to step on the field is sometime in 2012.

Simply put, receivers as old as Randy Moss and Terrell Owens do not produce like they did in years past.  With the added tendency of top quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Philip Rivers to spread the ball around to many different targets, receivers like Moss and Owens are of even less value to teams.  Look at the 2010 season for proof.  The Patriots decided to part ways with Moss because they felt they would have a better chance at winning without him (do not let Bill Belichick convince you he just wanted to stockpile another draft pick). 

Did anyone really think this was a good idea?

Owens did not find a team looking for his services until 2 days before training camp started.  He went on to put up decent numbers, catching 72 balls for nearly 1,000 yards, for a Bengals team that would just as soon have their miserable 2010 season erased from the team’s record books., but Owens and Chad Ochocinco, the Batman to Owens’ Robin, made playing for the 2010 Bengals so frustrating that Carson Palmer refuses to ever play another down for the team.  Instead, he will retire if he is not traded or released.

The NFL and the former NFLPA should not need any added incentive to get back to the bargaining table to create a new collective bargaining agreement.  The product is too good and the money too great for all the involved parties to give paying customers a reason to despise the game of football.  With that being said, if it takes the potential of ending the careers of two of the most controversial and gifted receivers of all-time to make the two sides work something out, I am all for it.

Drop Kick: Is Chad Johnson on his last legs in the NFL?

What's next for Chad?

Give Chad Johnson credit. He keeps it interesting. Whether it be changing his last name to a Spanglish number, hosting a reality show with fellow athletes, or racing horses, Chad Johnson has always kept his name in the news.

It now appears that Chad Johnson’s attempt to join the ranks of the MLS is nearing its end.

That in itself is not really a big surprise, I don’t think anyone seriously thought Chad Johnson was going to make an impact in professional soccer, even in a league bereft of talent like the MLS.

But with all the antics around Chad Johnson I started to look at his numbers over the last few seasons. Looking at the previous three seasons in particular Johnson has only topped 1,000 yards once (1047 in 2009) and scored only 17 touchdowns during that time period.

In Johnson’s defense he has dealt with some injuries during that time period and last year playing with Terrell Owens certainly cut down on his targets.

But the evidence is still enough to charge Johnson with erosion of skills in relation to perceived ability.

Don’t get me wrong I love Chad and he is one of the more entertaining athletes of his era but you have to call a spade a spade.

It appears that Chad Ocho Cinco or whatever name he is going by these days is on the downswing of his career.

Oh well, it’ll still be a fun ride.

Is Chad Johnson Done?

Talk about it here.

Devin Hester and Josh Cribbs – Safe but Sad

Will we still see Devin Hester doing this?

Devin Hester and Josh Cribbs did not agree with yesterday’s decision one bit.  At the annual owners meetings, the owners voted 26-6 to change (or return, depending on how long you have been following NFL football) kickoffs to the 35 yard line as opposed to the 30 yard line.  The competition committee brought the issue to a vote, citing player safety as the reason to produce NFL games with more touchbacks.  Kickoffs can be extremely violent and player injuries do result from them, but response to the change has been mixed at best, due to the fact that kickoff returns are one of the most exciting plays in any sport.    

As a fan, why would I want to see 2 of the most dynamic players in the game be forced to, as Cribbs said, “change the way they’ve been playing their whole careers?”  Both players have single-handedly won games over the past few seasons with their returns, why would we not want to see them continue to have the opportunity to do so?  Maybe we should take Hester’s advice and bring in the “Arena nets” to keep kick returns an exciting part of each and every game.

Before we completely overreact to the change, let’s take a look at how much this can effect a game.  In 2010, 16% of kickoffs resulted in touchbacks, or about one out of every 6 kicks.  With 5 extra yards, will that number jump to 25%? 35%?  It is hard to say.  In 1993, the last year in which team’s kicked off from the 35, 27% of kicks resulted in touchbacks.  If form holds, this 11% increase would mean that, in a typical game, we may see one more touchbacks than we are accustomed to. 

If we are only missing one return per game, why is it such a big deal?  One return matters because Cribbs and Hester are so good.  In their careers, they have combined to return 418 kickoffs.  12 of those kicks, or one out of every 35, have been returned for scores.  If each player is loses one chance per game to return, it means we will miss be missing one exciting touchdown in 2011, and the Browns or Bears may lose a game that they would have previously won.

Hester does have one reason to smile though with this change.  His record for career returns for touchdowns suddenly seems a little bit safer.

At The Buzzer: The 3 Most Breathtaking Finishes In The 2010 NFL Season

Like every other sports fan in America, I spent a good amount of today watching March Madness. There were certainly some exciting finishes with Butler, Temple, and Morehead State all winning on last or near last second shots.

So in celebration of today’s last second victories I wanted to relive the three most most exciting finishes from the 2010 NFL season in honor of today’s March Madness winners.

3 – Santonio Holmes Houses The Cleveland Browns

Santonio Holmes 37 yard touchdown catch with just 16 seconds left in overtime capped off one of the most spectacular finishes of the season.

2 – Mike Thomas Helps Bounce The Texans

With no time left on the clock and the game certainly heading to overtime Texans DB Glover Quin inexplicably deflected David Garrard’s 50 yd hailmary pass, right into the arms of Jaguars receiver Mike Thomas who walked into the endzone for the game winner.

1 – Desean Jackson pulls off a Miracle

In what is simply known as The Miracle at the New Meadowlands, Desean Jackson caps the greatest comeback victory in 2010, and perhaps any season for that matter, with a 65 yard punt return at the proverbial buzzer to beat the Giants.

LeBron James a Cleveland Brown? Derrick Rose a Chicago Bear? How it could happen

Could LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, Russell Westbrook, and Blake Griffin make an impact in the NFL?  I ask this question for a couple reasons.  First, I need a break from the NFL labor talks.  I need a few days off from hearing about players boycotting the draft and owners scurrying to cover up whatever extraneous expenses they have in their accounting books.  Secondly, I believe the NBA is headed for a dispute that will make an episode of Jersey Shore look like a neighborhood book club meeting.  The NBA is facing major issues, very nicely talked about by Sean Deveney of the Sporting News, that could cause an extended lockout that could engulf a couple of NBA seasons.

So what are the NBA elite supposed to do with this newfound time off?  Play in Europe?  Go the Shawn Kemp route and enter as many hot dog eating contests as they can?  I would hope that they would take their talents from the hardwood to the gridiron.  Now, I understand not ever NBA player has the ability to do so, but let’s take a look at some of the guys who can.

LeBron looks comfortable with a football in his hands

LeBron James – Could there be a man on the planet better served to play tight end?  LeBron already starred as a high school football player so we know he understands the game.  At 6’8″, 260 pounds with gazzelle-like speed, incredible hands, and tremendous hand-eye coordination, LeBron would immediately become the focal point of any NFL offense.  What linebacker could match his speed?  What safety could match his size and strength?  Antonio Gates took his talents from the basketball court to the football field and,while healthy, has been the best tight end in the game over the past 6 years.  There is no doubt in my mind, LeBron would do the same and surpass what Gates accomplished.  Actually, the Cleveland Browns could use a tight end.  Would the Dawg Pound be willing to forgive and forget?

Dwight Howard – I cringe at the ways in which I can see Dwight Howard revolutionize the defensive end position in the NFL.  Howard, standing at 7’0″ and nearly 270 pounds, has the sheer strength to be able to move an offensive tackle and has a bevy of spin moves, typically used to get to the rim for a dunk, that would allow him to get to the quarterback with ease.  His size would immediately take away some of the throwing lanes for shorter quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Michael Vick, and could you imagine lining up for a game-winning field goal with Howard on the opposite side of the line looking to block it?  Additionally, Howard would no doubt revel at the chance to begin dishing out some of the punishment similar to what he typically receives playing in the post in a typical NBA game.  Julius Peppers was the first guy to utilize his basketball abilities to strike fear into opposing offenses.  Dwight Howard could be the next.

Blake Griffin – The rookie sensation does not quite have the size that Dwight Howard does, but his never-ending motor and incredible athleticism would make him an ideal NFL defensive end.  At 6’10” and a chiseled 251 pounds, Griffin could find himself playing like a much bigger Trent Cole, keeping offensive linemen constantly on the retreat and using his ability to find open space to wreak havoc in the opposition’s backfield.  It also makes sense to keep in mind that no running back would have any chance to pick up Griffin after he beats the offensive tackle.  The guy jumps over cars and would have no problem jumping over Darren Sproles.

Derrick Rose – Speed, agility, size to match big receivers, and a flare for the dramatic make an ideal NFL cornerback.   Derrick Rose has all of these traits.  The likely 2010-11 NBA MVP is a nightmare for opposing coaches as his speed and quickness make him virtually unguardable.  At 6’3, Rose can match up with any of the NFL’s big receivers, and when he does make a mistake, his tremendous quickness and incredible leaping ability will help him cover for those mistakes.  Lastly, Rose has the competitive fire to want to match up with the opposition’s best.  Much like Deion Sanders used to do, I see Rose minimizing an offense’s effectiveness by blanketing a team’s number one option and taking away half the field.

Russell Westbrook – Although Westbrook still is overshadowed by his teammate and defending NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant, his abilities continue to impress the entire NBA.  Unlike the wiry Durant however, Westbrook’s skills would also allow him to thrive as an NFL wide receiver.  On a nightly basis, Westbrook weaves his way through defenses, stopping, starting, cutting, or just flat out racing away from the defense.  When it comes to flat out speed, Westbrook is one of the few players in the league who has another gear.  He has proven to not shy away from contact, something which he would see a lot more on any given Sunday. Standing at 6’3″ while possessing an uncanny leaping ability, Westbrook would thrive as both a deep threat and a red zone option.

Eventually (and hopefully sooner than later), we know the players and owners will reach an agreement and we will once again be secure in knowing that each and every Sunday between September and February will be spent on the couch watching America’s favorite sport.  And while, the basketball-loving side of me will miss the NBA, I would love to see how these players could make an impact on Sundays.

Twitter, the secret weapon of NFL Players

Drew Brees sent a message via Twitter this morning to his 418,170 followers offering his apologies for the lack of progress in labor negotiations and for what looks like the first work stoppage since 1987.  With the deadline set for 5:00PM today for the players to decertify the NFLPA, it looks extremely bleak that deal will be reached.  In the coming months there will be a battle to gain public support for each side of this argument, the players side and the owner side.  Clearly, the owners cannot win this battle.

Even without considering the heat they took for the “war chest” that the they negotiated into the last TV contract to guard them in the case of a labor dispute, NFL owners are facing an uphill battle to win the hearts and support of Joe fan.  First, the fans will not understand why the owners need to get another $1 billion in guaranteed revenue to face rising expenses, especially with owners unwilling to completely open their books to prove this point, when ticket prices continue to rise and ratings are at record-breaking marks.  Also, very few fans feel an attachment to NFL owners as most of the communication they have with owners is thorugh press conferences, prepared statements, and the bills that they receive from a team for their season tickets. 

Conversely, Twitter is keeping fans more connected to NFL players than they have been in years.  Want to know what Maurice Jones-Drew is thinking?  Become follower number 105,535 of @Jones_Drew32.  The outspoken Jones-Drew is sure to share his thoughts throughout any work stoppage and any one of his followers will be able to retweet his comments to countless other NFL fans.  According to, 941 NFL players have Twitter accounts.  These 941 people will continue to communicate directly with thier respective fanbases, most likely talking about how badly they want to get back on the field to play for the fans.

If an agreement is not reached today or if the two sides do not agree to another extension to continue talks, the next few months promise to be extremely ugly as negotiations move from the conference table to the courtrooms.  The union will decertify and players will begin to file an antitrust suit against the NFL.  How will the fans respond?  If I were an NFL owner I do not know if I want to know the answer to that question.