Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Sleep or Blog? Blog.

You might be asking yourself, “Isn’t it a bit early for the blog?”. Yes, it is. This is what happens when you fly to the UK on Thursday, totally screw up your body clock – then, just as your body is recovering and acclimating to the new time you have forced on it….You jerk it back to US time on Monday and begin the process all over again. So, at 4:30 this morning, I blog.

I am sure you can do no real harm to yourself by doing this, but it sure zaps your energy. I wonder if anyone tries the US/UK commute on a regular basis.

I have many stories to tell about another successful (except for that small issue of the result on Saturday at Anfield) trip to England, and between the next several days on the air and a full diary on this blog I will tell you all about it. Trouble is, the blog portion may or may not be up by the end of the week.

As I was gone, it appears that the sports world kept turning. Let us begin:

OK, this can’t be a real contract, right? Leonard Davis just go $50 million from the Cowboys? …That seems crazy to me. It isn’t my money, and in a world where Vinny Padilla gets 3 years/34 million I guess it adds up, but wow. Besides Robert Gallery and Tony Mandarich, name another OL who had more hype out of college and less delivery.

The Cowboys are betting Davis, 28, is just as driven to shed his reputation as an underachiever. His seven-year deal is worth nearly $50 million and includes $18.75 million in guaranteed money, a franchise-record signing bonus of $16 million and a 2007 salary of $2.75 million.

Davis' bonus eclipses the $13million the Cowboys gave Troy Aikman, Deion Sanders and Larry Allen.

Many league observers were astonished the Cowboys would pay so much for a player who was the No. 2 pick out of Texas in 2001 but has never been to the Pro Bowl. Davis became an unrestricted free agent when Arizona declined to re-sign him or name him a franchise player.

"I felt like I did everything I could possibly do (in Arizona)," Davis said. "Expectations can sometimes be unrealistic. But I know from talking to players and coaches that the things I have done, you can't do too much better."

The Cowboys seem sold that Davis will make the most of his fresh start even though they're unsure of whether he will play guard or tackle. He played guard his first three seasons with the Cardinals before moving to left tackle.

"I don't recall anybody being available in free agency at that position (tackle), with his skills, at his age, with his (versatility)," Jones said.

Meanwhile, Here is a great signing – Brad Johnson …Nice veteran backup QB….

The Cowboys have another mentor for Tony Romo.

Brad Johnson, who turns 39 in September, signed a three-year contract with the Cowboys worth $7.5 million Monday, giving the Cowboys some protection should something happen to Romo.

Johnson met with the Cowboys a day after meeting with Denver. He is close with new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who was his teammate for part of the 2004 season in Tampa Bay.

"He believes he's going to a team that has a chance to do something special," said Johnson's agent, Phil Williams.

The Cowboys put themselves in the market for an experienced backup when they cut Drew Bledsoe last week, freeing up $6 million in cap space. In addition to Romo, the only other quarterback on the roster is Matt Baker, who spent last season on the practice squad.

Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said the team could add a quarterback in the draft as well.

The Cowboys have needed their backup quarterback because of injury only once since 2003, and that lasted just the first half of the 2004 Thanksgiving game vs. Chicago when Drew Henson started in place of Vinny Testaverde.

Revo on what Young’s contract does to Tex

As an e-mailer wrote the other day, he's sick of hearing Hicks declare that he'll increase the Rangers' payroll when fans start buying more tickets. I understand the frustration.

Fans generally start buying more tickets when the team wins, which also has a little something -- but not everything -- to do with how much money is spent on payroll. Hicks continues to wait and hope that the Rangers can pull off what Minnesota and Oakland have done on a fairly consistent basis: make the playoffs with a middle-of-the-road payroll.

Problem is, the Rangers, under Hicks' management, simply haven't drafted or developed players well enough for that to happen, something general manager Jon Daniels is working diligently to change.

So does all this mean that Teixeira is automatically out of here when he becomes a free agent?

Probably, but not necessarily. There are many factors involved in whether Teixeira goes or stays, but you can be sure money will be foremost among them. There's a reason he hired Scott Boras as his agent. Boras gets top dollar for his clients, but that generally means they don't stay with their original teams.

It will take considerably more money to keep Teixeira than it did Young and it should. Teixeira is a premier slugger, one of the top five or six run producers in baseball.

With Young guaranteed to be a Ranger through 2013, it's now time for Hicks and Daniels to turn their attention to Teixeira. This won't be easy, but neither is the task of replacing Tex in the Rangers' lineup. When they took him with the fifth overall pick in 2001, they got it right.

Hicks hopefully understands that baseball teams need more than one star. Instead of asking whether they can afford to keep him, the Rangers need to be asking themselves if they can afford to let him go.

The challenge is to find out during the coming season what their chances are of getting him re-signed. If they decide there's no chance, then it becomes a judgment call. Do they keep him for 2008, hoping he can help them win a championship, or put him on the market next winter and take the best offer so that they can at least get something in return for one of the most productive hitters in the game?

That's why Friday's announcement of Young's signing was bittersweet. Keeping Michael is great for the franchise. If the Rangers hadn't re-signed him, they would have had no chance of keeping Tex, because he wouldn't have believed the organization is committed to winning.

Now it's Tex's turn, and it's up to Hicks to throw himself in front of the express train that's gathering speed to carry Tex out of town.

Don't hold your breath.

Clayton looks at the first weekend of Free Agency

With 55 signings or re-signings of restricted free agents in the first three days of free agency, negotiations are slowing a tad, but the pace has been furious.

It's staggering to think that 18 percent of the 307 unrestricted free agents are off the boards in the first 72 hours. By Monday night, more than 20 percent of the free agents will likely be gone.

The main trend is pretty clear. Guarantees have doubled during this free agency period, a by-product of the $14 million increase in the salary cap the past two years. With a $109 million cap space per team, a signing that used to take an $8 million guarantee now takes $16 million. New Patriots linebacker Adalius Thomas secured $20 million in guarantees.

Here are observations of Sunday's wild day:

1. The running back market started to move with the four-year, $23 million contract given to Ahman Green by Houston. Losing Green is a blow to the Packers, but they weren't going to pay more than $5 million a season to a 30-year-old running back. Maybe that isn't wise, but the Colts made a similar tough decision in not giving big dollars to Edgerrin James. They made out well with Joseph Addai. Green's signing should get things moving for Travis Henry, who visited Denver on Sunday, and Jamal Lewis, who wants to re-sign in Baltimore. It should pick up negotiations between Dominic Rhodes and the Giants, too.

2. The Leonard Davis drama was the best of the weekend. Davis, a native Texan, wanted to sign with the Cowboys so his parents could see him play. They live a little more than an hour from Dallas. But the Redskins wooed him, and he was intrigued. Pressed by the Cowboys on Friday night for a figure that would prevent him from making the trip to Washington, Davis asked for $24 million in guarantees. Once he got to Washington, Davis' wife kept calling and telling him the wisdom of signing in Dallas so his parents could see him. He signed a staggering seven-year, $49.6 million deal with Dallas that included $18.7 million in guarantees. The Redskins weren't going to go that high. The Giants might have gone higher to make him their left tackle. Davis will play right guard or right tackle for the Cowboys.

Len Pasquarelli reminds us that not all roads lead to success

Two years ago, in an effort to bolster their defense and add some much-needed muscle versus the run, the Atlanta Falcons signed unrestricted free agent middle linebacker Ed Hartwell to a six-year, $26.25 million contract that included an initial signing bonus of $8 million.

And last week, after watching Hartwell limp through two injury-plagued seasons in which he did little to distinguish himself, the Falcons unceremoniously released him. The anemic dividend on an investment that totaled $10 million in compensation for two years: 13 starts, 63 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

Those are hardly the kinds of numbers Atlanta officials anticipated when they signed Hartwell, who had played the early portion of his career in the shadow of Baltimore Ravens star Ray Lewis and seemed poised to emerge from his former teammate's shadow.
That said, they aren't altogether unusual, either.

The opening forays of the free-agent signing period this weekend produced some mind-boggling dollar figures, again demonstrating the lack of fiscal responsibility which traditionally exists at this time of year. Some number crunching of the leaguewide ledger book reinforced the caveat emptor inherent to the free agency exercise.

Consider this: In the week preceding the start of the free-agency period, NFL teams
released 16 players they had signed as free agents only a year earlier. Ten more veterans added as free agents only two years ago were lopped from rosters.
Guys such as Hartwell, quarterback Aaron Brooks, linebacker LaVar Arrington and cornerback Fred Smoot, to cite only a few, went from veterans considered quick fixes by the franchises that signed them to players earning speedy pink slips.

"It just didn't work," acknowledged Smoot, who rebounded from his release by the Minnesota Vikings late last week by quickly re-signing with the Washington Redskins, his original franchise. "I guess it happens."

Mike Sherman and Ahman Green reunite in Houston

According to Green's agent, Joby Branion, Green will receive a total of $8 million this season, including $6.5 million in bonuses, $12.5 million over two years and $18 million over three. The Packers were mostly concerned with the first year because they weren't sure how many seasons Green had left and refused to go much over $5 million.

Green gave the Packers an opportunity to match the offer, but they refused. Had they raised their offer earlier - before the start of free agency - it's possible they could have signed Green.

"They made a strong play at the end," Branion said of the Packers. "Hindsight is 20-20. Everyone was speculating what the market would be like. They held the cards prior to free agency as is the case with any team with a pending free agent. If you get that done (a deal) you don't risk having what happened."

Thompson put a value on Green and stuck with it. The Packers have $21 million in salary cap room and could have afforded to meet Green's demands, but Thompson's philosophy has been not to overpay, which in this case seemed inevitable given the market.

Asked if the Packers erred in not getting Green signed before free agency, Thompson said: "We haven't gotten there. We'll certainly go back and review and see where we might have done better. But you just do that anyway."

Branion said money wasn't the only factor in Green choosing the Texans. Former Packers coach Mike Sherman, now the Texans' offensive coordinator, convinced him the 6-10 Texans were a team on the rise.

Plus, Green liked the idea of running in Sherman's offense, which incorporates both the zone-blocking system he played in last year and the power-gap system in which he had his best seasons in Green Bay, under Sherman.

"That right there, I just felt real comfortable with it," Green said. "It was a big part of my decision. With learning the zone blocking scheme last year with (Packers coach Mike) McCarthy, and prior to that knowing what I know in terms of the power game and the counter game with coach Sherman, it's an ideal mix. It's a good little thing that I can't wait to be a part of."

This story is too hard to believe: Noted Columnist Ron Borges has been caught plagiarizing!

The Boston Globe today suspended without pay for two months a veteran sports reporter, Ron Borges, after allegations that he had plagiarized a portion of a football column from another sportswriter.

The Globe’s editor, Martin Baron, said Borges had included in his ‘‘Football notes’’ column last Sunday material written by a reporter for the News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash.

"‘The Globe does not tolerate plagiarism,"’ Baron said in a statement. "Extensive passages written by the Tacoma reporter were used verbatim in the column by Borges, and that is prohibited."

Borges will also be barred from broadcast appearances over the next two months, Baron said.

The plagiarism allegation was first lodged by a website, coldhardfootballfacts.com.

Cold Hard Football Facts.com has the story of how Borges totally stole his column
Exhibit A: The Tacoma Tribune – Feb 25

Jackson was leading the NFL in touchdowns last season when a turf-toe injury forced him to miss the final three games. The injury prevented Jackson from achieving his third 1,000-yard season in four years and the fourth overall.

Jackson still led the Seahawks with 63 catches for 956 yards and 10 touchdowns. He had six plays of at least 40 yards. Jackson set a franchise record with 87 catches in 2004. He has at least 60 catches five times in seven NFL seasons.

But trouble arose in March 2004 when former Seahawks president Bob Whitsitt allegedly shorted Jackson on a contract offer. Jackson said he signed the deal anyway at the urging of his father, who has since died. Whitsitt has dismissed the charge as preposterous, while Ruskell has resisted honoring a promise that a predecessor denies making.

The dispute has escalated ever since, with the Seahawks and Jackson’s agents exchanging a series of blunt letters, sources said.

When Ruskell became Seahawks president in February 2005, one of his first moves was to issue a letter to players outlining his expectations. He urged full participation in the team’s offseason program, including minicamps, but Jackson let it be known he would honor his contract but nothing more. Jackson subsequently skipped the voluntary portions of minicamps.

The relationship soured further after Jackson suffered a knee injury during an Oct. 2, 2005, game at Washington.

Jackson had bruised the knee earlier and experienced pain following a Sept. 25 game against Arizona. He suffered cartilage damage against the Redskins, raising questions in his mind about whether he should have been on the field at all, sources said.

The damage did not show up on initial tests. The team recommended rest. Holmgren avoided giving a timetable other than to say he thought it would be “shorter more than longer” after speaking with Jackson. The team ruled out Jackson for the next game.

Jackson, acting on the advice of Florida-based agents Mooney and Kendall Almerico, sought a second opinion from Dr. John Uribe, a prominent Miami orthopedist known for treating pro athletes.

Jackson underwent surgery to repair his right knee’s lateral meniscus, which consists of cartilage on the outer side of the knee.

He wondered if the team was trying to rush him back. The team resented the implication.

Jackson missed the next nine games, returning in time for the playoffs. He caught 20 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns in three playoff games, leading the team in each category (Jerramy Stevens also caught two touchdown passes).

Jackson underwent a second procedure on the knee after the season. He missed minicamps and training camp, all while maintaining he would be ready for the opener. He returned for the opener; his late catch-and-run helped the Seahawks beat Detroit, 9-6.

But the team was already preparing for life without him.

The Seahawks had shipped a 2006 third-round pick to Minnesota after signing Vikings receiver Nate Burleson, a restricted free agent. Ruskell followed that deal by sending a 2007 first-round choice to New England for Branch shortly after the 2006 opener.

D.J. Hackett flashed starting potential last season, setting career highs with 45 catches for 610 yards and four touchdowns. The team is expected to retain Hackett’s rights by making one of the higher qualifying offers under rules for restricted free agents.

Exhibit B: Borges on March 4

Jackson was leading the NFL in touchdowns last season when a turf-toe injury forced him to miss the final three games. The injury prevented him from reaching his third 1,000-yard season in four years, but Jackson still led Seattle with 63 catches for 956 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has made at least 60 receptions five times in seven seasons.

Trouble arose with Seahawks management two years ago after former team president Bob Whitsitt allegedly shorted Jackson on a contract offer. Jackson said he signed the deal anyway at the urging of his father. Whitsitt has dismissed the charge as preposterous, while present club president Tim Ruskell has refused to honor a promise that another person denies making. The dispute has escalated, with the Seahawks and Jackson's agents exchanging blunt letters.

When Ruskell became Seahawks president in February 2005, one of his first moves was to issue a letter to players outlining his expectations. He urged full participation in the team's offseason program, including minicamps, but Jackson let it be known he would honor his contract, but nothing more. Jackson subsequently skipped the voluntary portions of minicamps.

Problems continued after Jackson suffered a right knee injury on Oct. 2, 2005, against Washington. Jackson had bruised the knee earlier in the season and he suffered cartilage damage against the Redskins, raising questions in his mind about whether he should have been on the field.

The cartilage damage did not show up on initial tests, and the team recommended rest. The team ruled out Jackson for the next game. Jackson, acting on the advice of his agents, sought a second opinion and later underwent surgery to repair the lateral meniscus in his right knee.

That led Jackson to wonder whether the Seahawks had rushed him back. He missed the next nine games, returning in time for the playoffs. He caught 20 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns in three playoff games and then underwent a second procedure after the season. He missed minicamps and training camp, maintaining he would be ready for the opener, which he was.

By then the Seahawks had shipped a 2006 third-round pick to Minnesota after signing Nate Burleson, a restricted free agent, and a 2007 first-round choice to New England for Deion Branch. When D.J. Hackett also flashed potential, setting career highs with 45 catches for 610 yards and four touchdowns, it made Jackson expendable.

That is just amazing. Just absolute theft.

Speaking of amazing, Deadspin had this:

Why are Cedric the Entertainer and Peyton Manning with a 16 year old girl? …it is her birthday party!

Stevie Gerrard knows what it is like to hold the European Cup, now he wants another.

OK. We have established that I was crushed on Saturday when I traveled 4,000+ miles to watch my team suffer a gutting, horrible defeat to their rival. Now, today, Liverpool tries to knock Barcelona out of the Champions League.

ESPN2, 1:30pm. And please, don’t spoil the outcome to those of us who will avoid it until we get home from work. Please!

Liverpool v Barca – Winner to the Final 8

Steven Gerrard believes Liverpool are confronted with the hardest job they have ever faced in Europe during his time at Anfield.

But the Liverpool skipper is still sure they can knock Champions League holders Barcelona out of the competition.

Barca, still smarting from the 2-1 first-leg defeat they suffered in the Nou Camp at Liverpool's hands a fortnight ago, will be hell-bent on becoming the first side in 11 years to recover from a first-leg home defeat in the competition, and reach the next round.

And Gerrard reckons Liverpool's task is even harder than when they won the trophy themselves against AC Milan in Istanbul almost two years ago.

Gerrard says: "This is harder than anything else we have played in Europe. Barcelona won the cup last season and although we have done well ourselves, they are the best around.

"I believe this is a harder game than we faced against Milan in Istanbul."
And although Gerrard accepts that Liverpool have failed in the Premiership title race, he believes they can reach the standards required to KO one of Europe's greatest clubs.

He said: "We have real heart now. Barcelona will have periods of the game when they dominate and get their key players into dangerous areas. We have to ride that out and stick together before trying to cause them the problems we know we can.
"I have watched them a lot all season on TV, and I saw the Seville game at the weekend. But don't go believing they are in poor form, they will be desperate to reach the last eight and you can expect an explosive approach from them.

"We are ready for them, but don't expect anything less than a really explosive display from them.

8 matches in the next 2 days equals gold

The big boys take the stage again this week in Europe as 16 teams are whittled down to an elite eight. Four of the matches feature teams that are level after the first leg. The tournament holders are in trouble. Away teams are in desperate need of goals. Here’s a breakdown of this week’s matches as well as some infallible predictions.


Lyon v. Roma - The first leg was a brutal 0-0 draw. Eleven yellow cards were dished out and neither team could get into an offensive flow. Lyon host the second leg and with a win will advance to the quaterfinals for the fourth consecutive year. They have not lost in their past 18 matches at home in the Champions League.
Pick: Lyon will win another tight match.

Liverpool v. Barcelona - With a 2-1 win on the road, Liverpool have the clear advantage heading into their match at Anfield Road, but for what it is worth Barca defeated Liverpool 3-1 the last time they paid a visit to that fair city back in 2001. Barcelona have won just five of 23 visits against English opponents, while Liverpool have won just one of ten matches they have hosted against Spanish clubs.
Pick: Liverpool will lose the match but go through on away goals.

Chelsea v. Porto – An away goal by Chelsea in the first leg 1-1 draw could play a huge factor in how this one is played out. Porto will need to attack against their former manager’s team. Chelsea have lost only once at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League under Jose Mourinho. Porto have never won away against an English club
Pick: Chelsea will win outright and advance

Valencia v. Inter Milan - Twice trailing on the road in the first leg, Valencia showed a lot of heart to level the match 2-2 and to pick up a pair of crucial away goals. Inter have been as hot as any team in the world in domestic play but have not shown as good of form in the Champions League.
Pick: Valencia will go through on away goals.


AC Milan v. Celtic - They played to a 0-0 draw in the first in Scotland. AC Milan have reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League ever year since 2001/02. Celtic have never made it this far and have lost 11 of their 12 previous Champions League matches on the road.
Pick: AC Milan should win but call it a hunch, Celtic will get a draw and go through on away goals.

Arsenal v. PSV Eindhoven - It was the Dutch team that had the advantage in the Netherlands in leg one with PSV coming out on top 1-0. Arsenal have been snakebitten of late in cup competitions losing the Carling Cup final and in the FA Cup in the same week. This is the third time in five years the two teams have squared off in the Champions League.
Pick: Arsenal will win and advance

Manchester United v. Lille - The French side is still moaning about their 1-0 loss at home in the first leg. They face an uphill challenge against a red hot Manchester United team that have lost just once in their last 27 Champions League matches at home.
Pick: Manchester United will win and advance

Bayern Munich v. Real Madrid - The two old giants played a dandy in the first leg in Spain with Real Madrid coming out on top 3-2. Madrid enter the match beat up from their weekend tilt against Getafe. Bayern have played better football of late, winning their past two Bundesliga matches.
Pick: Bayern Munich will make up the goal difference and go through on away goals.

Billy Packer is an idiot. Thank you, Deadspin.

Oops - but what gold.


Chuck in irving said...

Now I'm re-thinking that trip to Europe with my wife. Not only will I be forced to see the canals and the real foofoo Tower, but I'd miss 2 weeks of Rangers games. To top it all off, I'll come back with cramps and headache and be forced to time-shift. Oh yeah, what a drag.

J-in-H said...

Dreamjob = Peyton's pimp

There's no act he won't do for money. Seriously, 200K for an appearance? Who is pulling the string on the Peyton doll?

Good to have you back, Bob. I'm always appreciative of the early blog.

Brad said...

Now to more important matters Bob

Let me fill you in on what the Stars did while you were gone.

They played 3 games and scored 3 goals. and sucked sucked sucked

and none of it was Marty Turcos fault, no matter what you might hear.

Fake Sturm said...

Good to have you back Bob. Ty half-assed his way thru the week with a few pretty pictures, only missing one day(out of three). We got to find a better backup than the Powerdown.

On to SPORTZZZZZ, I think the Rangers will be looking to flip Tex as soon as possible. They will probably be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs by the end of March, and I expect them to start shopping offers around then.

Congrats to the Texans, you pass on possibly the best QB and RB to come out in the draft in a long time because you were "set in those positions." And exactly one year later, all you need is a QB and a RB. What a disaster of a franchise.

And for the Titans, what the F are you doing? I guess they are thinking, well VY saved the franchise and brought this horrible team back to .500, so lets take his two only weapons (Bennett and Henry) away from him and see what he can do. Can anybody name a skilled position player on that team?

Sorry guys, lot of hate today.

artfromtex said...

Welcome back, Bob.

Trade Tex NOW. don't wait for his value to drop. do it now. there is zero chance of resigning him.

Leonard Davis will succeed in Dallas. LD was a diamond in poo-poo out in AZ. well, maybe he was a chunk of coal, but he'll be a diamond some day. (< in John Anderson voice) seriously though, he'll do well here. we gotta get Kosier on the bench somehow, release Rivera and re-sign Columbo. the o-line might be coming into shape.

no Mav talk?



Phil K. said...

I couldn't even finish that Duke smack-down clip because I was going to vomit from hearing the defence of "going for the ball" by Billy Packer. How do you spell his name? I-D-I-O-T.

DrewJ said...

Have to agree on Tex. I am loathe to see a Hall of Famer walk out the door (and for those of you keeping score at home, Big Tex is a Hall of Famer) but I would put the chance at him signing a significant long term contract to stay in Arlington at about 10%. I have a feeling that Tex is going to come out of the gate hot this year. Please get full value for him this summer when someone can acquire him and get a solid 18 months out of him.

Replacing Tex is going to be hard, but I think we need to go ahead and bite the bullet and do it.

With this post, I've realized that Rangers fans are polar opposites of Cowboys fans. Cowboys fans expect to win and expect to get good players. Rangers fans expect to lose and expect to have their best players walk out the door.

Self-fulfilling prophecy or somesuch.

Brandon said...

If Bob is so inclined to follow the match during the show, here's a link to Yahoo Matchcast.

P.S. I'm hoping all you Horn fans/Cowboy fans are right about Leonard.

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