Mr. Jones and Me

Apparently Dallas Cowboys CB Adam Jones formerly known as “Pacman Jones” wants to leave his playful nickname and hopefully his off the field infamy in the past.  Dropping the “Pacman” label — I know Nameco the makers of the original PACMAN videogame will be happy — seems to be latest step in the re-birth of Adam Jones model citizen while showing NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that the troubled cornerback is ready to do whatever it takes to return to the field again. 

The mercurial kick returner and cornerback with the assistance of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Cowboys’ Father Flannery/Player Development head Calvin Hill, and legends Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin has done a pretty good job this off-season recreating himself.  Sounding like a new man Jones said of the name change at a recent youth camp, “There’s really just a lot of negativity behind it”.  The former 2005 first round pick added, “It’s just time for a change, man. I’m doing everything to make sure that I’m all right as a person, mentally and emotionally.”

Jones in the past few years has gone from a rising NFL talent to the league’s worst nightmare as a habitual tabloid offender.  Events that have occurred during Jones eventful last couple of years has included missing the entire 2007 NFL season with the Tennessee Titans while serving an NFL suspension for allegedly being a party to several criminal cases including the infamous Las Vegas Strip Club shooting plus having his home recently foreclosed on.  

If dropping the “Pacman” nickname can help Jones clean his act up and return to the NFL for the first time since 2006, then more power to him.  I must admit that the Cowboys are looking like the new “reclamation specialists” in rehabbing this formerly troubled soul.  The Cowboys gave up relatively nothing in trading for Jones (conditional late round ’09 draft pick), but they might get back their investment tenfold. Growing up is a process and we may have finally seen Adam Jones finally “Get It”.  

But I still reserve the right to wait until September when the NFL season starts to see if the player formerly known as “Pacman” is ready to be a star on and off the field.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

 

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NFL Players Learn About the Other Side of the Microphone

(Philadelphia, Pa) — For the second year in a row (June 16-19) at NFL Films studios in Mt Laurel, NJ past and present NFL players learned what it takes to succeed on the other side of the microphone at “Broadcast Boot Camp”.  Instead of the players giving the quotes, the group of twenty players including Oakland Raiders Pro Bowl corner back Nnamdi Asomugha, Minnesota Vikings defensive back Darren Sharper, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Max Starks, Buffalo Bills punter Brian Moorman, and others received the tremendous learning experience of working with football broadcasting giants like James Brown (CBS), Ron Jaworski (ESPN), Dick Vermeil  (NFL Network), and Rich Eisen (NFL Network).

The program is directed by the NFL Broadcasting Department and covers a wide range of topics with instructors from each of the NFL’s broadcasting partners – CBS, ESPN, FOX, NBC, NFL Network, Sirius Satellite Radio, Westwood One Radio, plus local radio and TV.  The invaluable program is one of the NFL’s many “transition” level activities helping to develop players for their post football career.  The players were able to get their hands dirty by participating in hands-on activities such as tape study, editing, show preparation, radio production, control room operation, studio preparation, production meetings, field reporting and game preparation.  Each player also was able to tape segments as a studio/game analyst, live radio host on Sirius NFL Radio and take part in a networking session with television executives.

The program was so well received in 2007 that twelve of the twenty participants from last year’s class are now working in the industry in some capacity.  Three successful attendees from the Class of 2007 (Ike Reese, Ross Tucker, and Roland Willams) even returned this year as instructors and mentors to share their knowledge with the new group hopefuls. Reese, who now hosts his own radio show on 610-WIP called “Ike at Night”, said about the ’07 boot camp, “My experience in the program was phenomenal”.  The former Pro Bowl special teams player added, “The exercises were very practical, and I was able to identify my strengths and get in some valuable practice.” Tucker, who has his own Sirius Radio show, added “I’ve been recommending the Broadcast Boot Camp to other players, it was an extremely positive experience.”

With the priceless opportunity to work with so many heavy hitters in the broadcasting industry, here is hoping that the NFL holds a boot camp for aspiring NFL writers that want to make the jump.  Who knows with a little training maybe yours truly could be sitting next to JB on the set of CBS’ NFL Today.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

 

Downtime before NFL training camps start

Anyone looking for something to watch until NFL training camps start in late July, may get their fix from the old ESPN dramatic series Playmakers

PHILADELPHIA — The early summer period before training camps start in late July — the Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins will be the first to open camp as both have rookies reporting on July 22nd — is considered “Down Time” around the NFL.

Many people that work around the league including players and coaches take this time for a well-deserved month of re-charging before training camp begins.

Organized Training Activities (OTAs) for most teams have shut down with many players returning to their hometowns, attending charitable events like golf tournaments, running football camps, or simply taking a vacation.

However as a self-described football junkie I have chosen to always be tuned into football even if the NFL is dormant.

There are several football related diversions to sooth my NFL fix including NFL Network (“NFL Football 24/7”), NFL Films documentaries/features, player holdout news, player camps, football related movies to watch (my choice is Any Given Sunday), the NFL Supplemental Draft, and minor league football (No NFL Europe, but the Arena Football League season is ending and the Canadian Football League is beginning, though these leagues are not NFL caliber, it is fun to watch when the NFL is quiet).

Yes, I am football crazy enough to watch the AFL, CFL, or put in a DVD from the NFL’s most disliked series Playmakers.

Conversely the only people still focusing on the daily grind of the NFL at this time are GM’s and Head Coaches. Some may try to vacation and take their mind off the sport, but most decisionmakers, that I have talked to, hate this time of the year.  As they usually spend this “off” month putting the final touches on training camp preparations while nervously checking news outlets to make sure that none of their players run amuck during their time out of the NFL’s reach.

Unfortunately everyday it seems there is some player related story where a situation occurs that could lead to a “hangover” going into their team’s next season (think Michael Vick’s Dogfighting, Marquis Hill’s unfortunate jet ski accident, Kellen Winslow/Ben Roethlisberger’s motorcycle escapades, etc).

Even with Commissioner Roger Goodell threatening to come down on teams for destructive player misconduct there is still an ongoing issue with surprisingly new faces.

There has been a reported 26 players involved in arrests or cited since the Super Bowl this off-season versus 27 players at the same time last year.The situation has gotten so troublesome that even with notorious Dallas Cowboy bad boys Pacman Jones and Tank Johnson drinking their milk and getting to bed early there have been several other players picking up their headline slack.

Those wanting to read more on the NFL’s still lingering player misconduct issues check out a great piece by fellow PFWA member Don Banks of Sports Illustrated.

Even if the NFL is pseudo “quiet”, there will be plenty to come this month as the Rookie Symposium, Arena Bowl XXII, the NFL Supplemental Draft, and other events on the football calendarwill briefly take over the spotlight.

Until then NFL players enjoy the little bit of downtime that you have left -– not too much though, i.e. STAY OUT of TROUBLE — since the reality of hot two-a-days in the sun of training camp will be here before we all know it.

Eagles Release DT Ramsey and Others

(Philadelphia, Pa) — Breaking News regarding the Philadelphia Eagles roster…. In an effort to get down to the NFL mandated 80 players before training camp the Eagles released 9 players including veteran 2006 draft pick defensive tackle LaJuan Ramsey.

Ramsey finishes his Eagles’ career with six tackles and zero sacks.  The former USC Trojan will best be remembered for a very late hit penalty versus the Dallas Cowboys in a ’07 game.  In a related story the Eagles re-signed 37-year  old veteran defensive tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen.

Others released included:LB Gary Butler, DT Jeremy Clark, CB Tanard Davis, WR Terrell Golden, QB Casey Hansen, DE Xzavie Jackson, DE A.J. Schable and LB Markell Staffieri.

Marcus Vick Re-Surfaces by Getting into Trouble

Marcus Vick looking like Michael Vick in his recent mug shot

(Philadelphia, Pa) — Ever since Michael Vick’s who let the dogs fight incident has taken center stage, I have wondered “Where is his brother former Virginia Tech “bad boy” quarterback Marcus Vick.  Apparently Vick II wants to continue in his big brother’s footsteps not on the gridiron, but in having problems with the law.

Vick II will not be joining his imprisoned famous brother, but according to a report by the newspaper Virginian-Pilot he maybe in trouble in Norfolk, VA.  Vick II faces serious charges of charged with DUI, misdemeanor eluding police, reckless driving and driving on a suspended license after a brief chase that police say began with him trying to escape a bicycle officer around 2 a.m. today. 

Vick was allegedly arguing with a woman inside his car when the officer approached causing Vick to speed off.  The same newspaper article reported that the former Miami Dolphins receiver failed a sobriety test.  Vick was released on a $1,000 dollars bond and he is due in court on Monday.  This event is another dark spot on Marcus Vick’s resume as he had numerous run-ins with the law during his 3-year career at Virginia Tech.  I always thought that if he got his head on straight that Vick II could be a good minor league quarterback.  But other than Vick’s one season audition with Nick Saban’s Dolphins in 2006 (practice squad mostly with 1 regular season game played, 0 catches, and one fair catch on a punt), he has not made an effort to get back on the field.  I don’t know if it is a hangover from his brother Michael’s ordeal or that the younger Vick just doesn’t have a passion to play football any longer.

I have often said that “Marcus Vick loves being the spoiled little brother of Michael Vick” and that he needs to make his own path.  Hopefully this latest incident will finally wake Marcus Vick up enough to show him that he is throwing away his talent of playing football.  We have already seen the comeback of Kansas City Brigade quarterback Quincy Carter this year – still battling his own demons with drugs, but he is back in the Arena Football League – and hopefully it can inspire Vick II to overcome his obstacles by getting back into football.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

LeCharles Bentley is Released by the Browns

 

After things didn’t work out with his hometown Browns, the recently healthy LeCharles Bentley is looking for a new NFL team

(Philadelphia, Pa) — One of the NFL’s best stories of the off-season took a sour turn as Cleveland Browns center LeCharles Bentley was released by the team at his request.  Bentley had overcome a severely injured left knee and a life-threatening staph infection in the same knee to passing his physical was cleared to practice with the team during their recent OTA. 

Unfortunately for the two-time Pro Bowl player, the Browns had found other options since Bentley’s injury on the first 11-on-11 drill of training camp in ’06.  The Browns’ O-line anchored by rookie Pro Bowl offensive tackle Joe Thomas along with center Hank Fraley, guard Ryan Tucker, guard Rex Hadnot and tackle Eric Steinbach had a solid ’07 season helping to produce 46 touchdowns.

Browns GM Phil Savage said of Bentley’s struggle to return, “It’s been a long road back for LeCharles. We have to give him a lot of credit for the amount of work and effort he’s put into this.”  When it became obvious to Bentley that there was little to no chance of him cracking the starting five, the hulking center asked for and received his release. 

Bentley’s Agent Jonathan Feinsod said of the release, “LeCharles is not ready to be an insurance policy at this point, (Bentley) did great on his physical and I know the Browns were very impressed. It wasn’t anything about his health. He just feels he was not going to play the kind of role here he plans to play in 2008”.  Feinson added, “He had a near-death experience because of a staph infection and now he’s completely healthy and ready to resume his All-Pro and Hall of Fame career”.

The release of the former Ohio State All-American unfortunately ends his brief career with his hometown team.  Bentley will now look for a home with rumored teams of interest from the Arizona Cardinals (he has lived there during his rehab), Philadelphia Eagles (had an interest before), New England Patriots (need insurance w/ the Nick Kaczur situation), Houston Texans (trying to fix a shaky line) and Dallas Cowboys (seem to be interested in every high profile free agent).

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

McNabb Misses Practice with Shoulder Problems

Breaking News:  The Philadelphia Eagles have shut down Donovan McNabb’s passing until training camp in late July due to shoulder “tightness”

(Philadelphia, Pa) — Here we go again, another off-season and another big question mark on quarterback Donovan McNabb’s health (sports hernia in ’05, torn ACL in ’06, and missed two games with an ankle injury in ’07).  The 9-year veteran sat out today’s Philadelphia Eagles’ passing camp OTA with shoulder tendonitis and he will be shut down until training camp starts at the end of July.  Everyone knew something was wrong when McNabb was on a “pitch count” at the last set of OTAs, but the Eagles and head coach Andy Reid downplayed any idea there might be an injury. McNabb already needed a strong off-season and early first part of ’08 to quell catcalls for Kolb, so he should definitely approach his shoulder rehab earnestly.

Hopefully for Birds’ fans, McNabb’s shoulder just needs rest and he will take the time needed before reporting for training camp at Lehigh University on July 21.  The injury cannot help, but to further strain an already tenuous situation between the five-time Pro Bowl player and the Eagles as there have been rampant rumors some “loyal” Philadelphia Eagles fans and media that the team will be going with 2007 second round pick Kevin Kolb in ’09 or earlier.  The young confident passer from the University of Houston definitely has a “swagger” this off-season after being elevated to number two on the depth chart, so McNabb better watch his back.  Kolb also has built up a steady rapport with the Eagles front-line receivers during OTA workouts that McNabb has missed.

There is no denying McNabb looked good in the Eagles’ last four games of ’07  (96.2 QB rating) adding to his almost 10-year impressive resume. But the NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” league, where a respectable 19 touchdowns and only 7 INTs season doesn’t amount to much when the playoffs are missed.  McNabb needs to get healthy and lead the Eagles back to the playoffs for first since the Super Bowl season of 2004. 

My colleague Garry Cobb on his website Gcobb.com reported that McNabb is working with Randy Johnson’s pitching coach out in Arizona.  Hopefully McNabb will stop working with the guy and find a passing specialist (suggestions could include college quarterback teaching guru Steve Clarkson, Jerry Rhome, or even hall of fame quarterback Warren Moon, who talks to #5 often).

This situation definitely needs to be monitored, as shoulder pain is another hurdle for Philadelphia’s biggest football lightning rod.

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)