Eagles Set Sights High as Possible CBA Agreement Nears by Matt Lombardo

Could Albert Haynesworth soon be in Green…Taking It to the House found a league source who thinks it could happen

As the calendar turns to late-June and the first NFL pre-season game slated for August 7th inCanton,Ohio between the Bears and Rams, there is a surging sense of urgency among league owners to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement with the players.

As such, there is optimism that a deal could be ratified in time to not only preserve the annual pre-season kickoff at Fawcett Stadium, but also the precious billions of dollars in revenue garnered by the league in its four exhibitions each year. As the owners continue to meet inChicago there is hope amongst league circles that a deal could be consummated and ready for a vote by early July.

Negotiations continue to progress the focus inPhiladelphia remains on how active the Eagles will be in free agency and the off-season generally once the NFL reopens for business. Both league and team Sources last week pointed to the likes of Reggie Bush, Plaxico Burress and Albert Haynesworth topping the Birds’ wish list. The word used by most observers to describe the Eagles aspirations: aggressive.

Just how aggressive with the Eagles be?

“I can easily see both being in Eagles uniforms this season,” said a local Eagles’ source.

Both Haynesworth and Burress have differing degrees of baggage. Burress of course is newly released from prison after serving two years for shooting himself in the leg in a New York nightclub in 2008. Meanwhile Haynesworth’s production dipped dramatically a year ago in Washington after being moved from a 4-3 tackle to 3-4 noseguard under headstrong head coach Mike Shanahan. The Eagles though have shown a greater propensity to giving players a chance at redemption in recent years, especially after seeing the life renewal and transformation of Michael Vick under Andy Reid’s guidance the past two years.

“I think Burress and Haynesworth are both strong possibilities,” the source added. “It’s really based on how they both perceive their second chances which the Eagles will evaluate thoroughly before making any decision.”

Obviously there is more work to be done by Burress in his personal life, but the Eagles could very well be the landing spot that gives him a chance at redeeming his career.

“As for Burress, he’s following the Michael Vick recovery process with Tony Dungy leading the charge.” Said the Eagles source.

In the case of Haynesworth, the 29-year old defensive tackle must prove his willingness to adapt back into the 4-3 system and desire to return to a dominant level on the football field.

“Haynesworth’s chances really depends a lot on (defensive line coach) Jim Washburn’s input.” The Eagles source continued.

As the clock ticks down towards the upcoming self imposed deadlines for the lockout to be resolved, one thing is clear; inside the Novacare Complex the aggressive plan being spoken of by football observers is now being acknowledged.

 

Matt Lombardo is a reporter for 97.3 ESPN in Atlantic City, NJ.  Matt can be reached on Twitter @MattLombardoWC

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Focus is on the wrong place in NFL by Jason King

As the NFL Lockout rages on, fans are getting both anxious and annoyed for this thing to end

Let’s Do a Quick Recap…

The NFL lockout is now over 100 days old.  The players have filed their antitrust lawsuit, Brady v. NFL, in a federal courtroom in Minneapolis,Minnesota.  The players also have filed a temporary injunction to stop the lockout that was granted by Judge Susan Nelson.  The Judge also ordered mediation to begin, supervised by a judge.  The Eight Circuit Court of Appeals inSt. Louis,Missouri granted league owners a temporary stay on the lockout until they rule on the matter.  The three judge panel ruled 2-1, and we won’t know if this lockout is legal or not until early July.

Is your head hurting yet?….That’s just the shortened version.  The NFL Lockout has been a back-and-forth chess match between the owners, led by Commissioner Roger Goodell, and the players, led by NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith.  Some positive signs have come forth in the last two weeks like secret meetings, and owners told to be prepared to stay an extra day at the owner’s meeting inChicagotomorrow.  The signs maybe positive, but the bottom line remains the same.  There is no Collective Bargaining Agreement in place, and the players are still being locked out by the owners. 

There is an estimated $9 billion in revenues to be divided.  That seems to be the biggest issue.  The owners want more money than the $1 billion they already get off the top.  The players think that the way revenues are being split now is sufficient.  The biggest problem seems to lie with the small market owners, whose teams don’t generate revenue like the big market teams.  This is a problem, but is it worth losing a season over?  Is it worth losing half a season over — I know there are other important issues at hand, but many people believe, as I do.  That $$$ is the biggest obstacle to getting a deal done.  In other words if they figure out how to split the money, everything else will fall into place with some compromise, right?

Most football fans hope not, therefore, the onus is on the owners to back off there over the top demands and make a deal.  Let’s face it, NFL owners aren’t losing money like their counterparts in the NBA (where an estimated 22 of 30 teams are losing money).  They may not be making as much money as they would like, but after the current TV deals run out after the 2013 season, the owner will be fine.  As popular as the NFL is, their broadcast partners (CBS, NBC, Fox, and ESPN) will hand Roger Goodell a blank check and tell him to name the league’s price.  The league’s ratings are soaring, advertising dollars continue to pile up, and ticket sales keep rising even though there’s a lockout. 

It has been estimated by Peter King, in his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback on SI.com, that if the preseason is missed, the league will lose around $700 million.  Owners get off your G5 planes, and make a sensible deal.  You have unlimited potential with a league which continues to thrive in a bad economy.  Just wait until the economy picks and you sign that multi-billion dollar TV deal after the 2013 season. 

Eagles fans inPhiladelphia want to be talking about signing soon-to-be former Raiders cornerback and big ticket free agent Nnamdi Asomugha.  We don’t want to worry about a panel of  judges’ ruling 889 miles away.

 

 Jason King  is a former reporter for 1520 WCHE  in West Chester, PA.  Jason can be reached at jdk2032@yahoo.com

Eagles Set to Execute Aggressive Post Lockout Plan by Matt Lombardo

Many are predicting that Philadelphia Eagles GM Howie Roseman will be ready to go shopping in the Free Agent Market, once the NFL Lockout finally ends

Post lockout, it appears that Philadelphiawill be the center of the NFL World.

By now we all know the bargaining chips that Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman has to yield at his disposal; namely well sought after veteran quarterback Kevin Kolb and oodles of cap space after dramatic salary cutting moves dating back to releasing veterans such as Kevin Curtis, Will Witherspoon and of course trading Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins last April. What we’re now learning is that Roseman and the Eagles may very well be the most motivated and prepared organization to make groundbreaking moves reshaping their roster once the NFL lockout is lifted and transactions allowed to be made.

After 13 years of near misses and disheartening finishes to seasons such as last year’s home loss in the NFC Wild Card round against the eventual Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers, the Eagles appear poised to push all of those proverbial chips into the middle of the table in an attempt to close the 27-yard gap that lay between themselves and the team that hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in February. According to a Yahoo Sports article by Mike Silver published on June 16th,Philadelphia appears to have names such as Albert Haynesworth, Plaxico Burress, and Reggie Bush all in their crosshairs. Not to mention persistent whispers among league circles that the Eagles in fact still a front runner for former Raiders lockdown corner Nnamdi Asomugha. 

The case can easily be made that the Eagles are the logical landing spot for each of the aforementioned veterans. Haynesworth of course is coming off of a disappointing season with the Redskins that saw the 29 year old nose tackle finish the year serving a four game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team. Haynesworth recorded just 16 tackles in eight games in his second season inWashingtonand first under head coach Mike Shanahan who dramatically altered Haynesworth’s role in his newly installed 3-4 defense. Haynesworth saw his greatest career success as a member of the Tennessee Titans where he recorded 199 tackles and 24 sacks in 90 games. Many attribute his success to the work of stellar defensive line coach Jim Washburn who just so happens to be the newly minted line coach with the Eagles. Sources say that Washburn has been pining for the front office to pursue Haynesworth since shortly after he was hired in January.

Then there’s the curious case of Plaxico Burress. The soon to be 34-year old wideout was of course released from a Rome, New York prison on June 6th wearing a retro Phillies’ hat after serving two years on a gun charge. On the surface Burress would not necessarily be an ideal fit for the Eagles who currently tout young and talented speedster DeSean Jackson, first round pick Jeremy Maclin and steady possession receiver Jason Avant in their emerging receiving corps. Yet the one component missing from the Eagles offense in recent years has been a game changing redzone target. Burress certainly would fit if that mold, if he in fact can still play at a high level nearly three years removed from his last on field appearance. Yahoo! quotes an Eagles source saying that Reid “Loves” the idea of adding Burress.

The Eagles certainly have the offensive pieces in place to contend for a championship. In 2010 the Birds finished the season second in total offense (390 yards per game), fifth in rushing (145 yards per game) and ninth in passing offense (244 yards per game). With resurgent quarterback Michael Vick under center and flanked by playmaking wideouts Jackson, Maclin and Avant along with running back LeSean McCoy and emerging tight end Brent Celek, along with first round draft choice Danny Watkins anchoring the offensive line, the birds certainly have the pieces in place to be an offensive juggernaut for years to come.

Yet it was the defensive failures that cost first year defensive coordinator Sean McDermott his job following the 2010 campaign. Philly’s 12th ranked defense that allowed an average of 327 yards and 24 points per game led Reid and company to move Juan Castillo from offensive line coach to defensive coordinator. Giving the eager and work ethic driven Castillo cornerstone additions such as Haynesworth and Asomugha would go a long way towards rebuilding Philadelphia’s beleaguered defense and put the team in a prime position to compete once again for the franchise’s first Lombardi trophy.

With a quick glance around the NFC landscape it’s easy to, with the right moves, pencil the Eagles at or near the top of the list of championship caliber contenders. Unlike some franchises, the Eagles have the resources and cap room to be significant players in the free agent game, regardless of the salary cap situation.

In talking to some sources around the National Football League, Taking It to the House definitely found some agreeing voices that the Eagles should be players in an anticipated quick free agent market.  A local Philadelphia league source said, “(The Eagles) should be the most aggressive team once the lockout ends”.  While USA Today Senior NFL Writer Jarrett Bell told our site, “I am not sure if they will be the most aggressive team.  But given their resources, you would expect them to be one more active teams”.

If the front office is as motivated as Roseman let on in the Yahoo! piece, then the Eagles and their fans may very well be sitting at the center of the football universe come July, August, September, Oct.. Or whenever the lockout is settled and the NFL open for business.

 

Matt Lombardo is a reporter for 97.3 ESPN in Atlantic City, NJ.  Matt can be reached on Twitter @MattLombardoWC

Why The Buckeyes Should be Given the Death Penalty by Matt Lombardo

The misdeeds of soon-to-be former Buckyeyes’ QB Terrelle Pryor and other teammates plus the resignation of former head coach Jim Tressel, has everyone talking about an SMU-type NCAA  penalty

For the sake of preserving what remains of the sanctity of college football, a swift purposeful example needs to be made of the Ohio State University Football Program.

The developments that came to light leading up to and following the resignation of head football coach Jim Tressel exemplify a program filled with corruption, glad-handing alumni and a Head Coach at best ignorant and at worst downright complicit with violations against the NCAA so egregious that severe sanctions must be handed down quickly and swiftly by college football’s governing body.

Star quarterback Terrell Pryor is accused of driving sports cars given as gifts from those connected to the Buckeye program in various capcities, receiving cash for tattoos, while four other players stand suspended for trading game used jerseys, autographed memorabilia and Big Ten championship rings for tattoos all valued between $12,000 to $15,000. All five players along with Tressel are suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season.

All along Tressel had knowledge of his players’ misgivings but failed to report the actions and violations to his superiors or the University’s compliance department. Worse yet, he lied to the NCAA about the eligibility of Pryor and others. Put in its most simple form, Tressel had knowledge of the numerous NCAA violations, lack of institutional control and corruption at Ohio State, but rather than report his players, he chose to protect them.

So for those keeping score at home, Pryor, his four teammates and Tressel are suspended for the first five games of the 2011 football season and Tressel resigned from his post. Yet the NCAA has yet to issue sanctions or specific punishments on Ohio State University.

When they do, the program should be given the death penalty.

The players involved have an easy escape clause: The National Football League. Tressel has already taken his golden parachute; an absence from coaching before undoubtedly landing at a top tier University at some point in the future where he will once again have the opportunity to lead a major program towards multiple BCS National Championships. Yet the University which embraced this culture is allowed to continue business as usual moving forward, and that’s just wrong. The culture of college athletics needs to change and the loopholes need to be closed.

That duty of cleaning the culture obviously cannot be left to individual Universities where the supreme motivation is winning at all costs both financial and ethical. This is clearly illustrated by the fact that Tressel was not fired from Ohio State in April when specific language from the NCAA linked him to having knowledge of the illegal activity taking place under his watch.

That unenviable task lays in the hands of the NCAA. SMU was the last program to have the NCAA pull the plug, and that was more than 20 years ago. However the egregious violations of the NCAA code of conduct, the lies and the corruption have been reoccurring in great succession in recent years and the Buckeyes, and Tressel after his previous misgivings at Youngstown State now typify this trend.

The time has come for the NCAA to drop the atomic bomb and show that the actions of Ohio State will not be tolerated. To see a juggernaut fall because of internal turmoil and fraud would set an example to the rest of the NCAA whether it be football or basketball that such actions cannot and will not be tolerated. Meanwhile Tressel should be banned from strolling the sidelines on fall Saturdays for life, and policies be instituted to prevent coaches from engaging in implicitly banned activities and protecting his players in these kinds of situations.

It’s one thing to condemn the actions of Tressel, Ohio State, USC and Jim Calhoun but in order to finally take the step towards cleaning up college athletics, a swift example needs to be made of the program at Ohio State. It must be shut down. 

 

Matt Lombardo is a reporter for 97.3 ESPN in Atlantic City, NJ.  Matt can be reached on Twitter @MattLombardoWC