Posts by rockchalkjayhawkgoku

Kansas City born and bred, covering KU sports, New York Jets, Los Angeles Lakers, Kansas City Royals, New York Yankees and everything in between. Check me and my team out on SPORTS Elite. Email me at brianjones8204@aol.com

Holding Pattern

Holdouts are a part of the process and the business in today’s NFL. Veterans holdout to get longer contracts and more guaranteed money. Rookies don’t typically holdout anymore, especially since the Rookie Pay Scale provision was added to the Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2011. It’s become a rule of thumb. Rookies are drafted, the negotiations are short, contracts are signed and life moves on.

Ohio State’s Joey Bosa has become an exception to this rule.

Bosa has been a holdout since minicamp concluded and there’s no end to his holdout in sight. Now both Bosa’s representation and the San Diego Chargers front office have taken their private discussions public of as yesterday. Offset language and the deferral of bonus money in his contract is reported to be the main sticking point in the negotiations.

I am normally on the side of the player in situations like this but both sides are wrong (in different ways) in this particular case.

First off, San Diego is dead wrong for their overall stance and handling of this matter. Revealing the details of his contract to the public and following it up with an inflammatory statement from the front office…then thegeneral manager…then the owner was unprecedented. This was also absolutely the wrong thing to do. Negotiations (along with the private discussions that come with them) and hurt feelings – on the part of the player or management – should NEVER become public knowledge. It should never happen and they know it. You may try to portray yourself as the victim (as they attempted to do here) but you’re really making yourself look pathetic and unprofessional.

Secondly, the offset language and the partial deferral of bonus money in the contract are the main points of contention in his holdout. In the new CBA, some teams have the option of adding that language in their draft picks’ contracts. Some teams add it and some don’t. It’s a problem here – the main one here, really – and both sides need to realize that no one party is gonna fully win this one. Bosa’s people want the language removed and/or the bonus in full. The Chargers don’t want to cave on either one.

As simplistic as this may sound…they need to come to a compromise. Agree not to cut him for 3 years, agree to pay back 20% of the total bonus if he is cut, something that will satisfy both parties. Get that worked out and this whole conundrum will be over. As far as the money is concerned, do the same thing. Agree to pay it all now, 80% of it now, 65% of it now or whatever percentage both sides can agree on to end this.

Problem with the last scenario is that San Diego’s front office has a long history of playing hardball with its players, dating as far back to Dan Fouts in the early 1980s.

Back in 2001, LaDainian Tomlinson ended up missing 30 days of camp over his rookie deal. The next season, Quentin Jammer held out for 50 days. Two years later, Philip Rivers held out for 25 days. The year after that, Shawne Merriman missed seven days in a stalemate. Contract extensions are also handled in a similar fashion. It’s a sad and disturbing pattern that has gone on for a long time and see this happen with this franchise once again is and should be a surprise to no one.

Let’s also not forget about Bosa and his representation as well, including his mother who came out publicly and said they wished they did what Eli Manning did back in 2004 and forced a trade from San Diego. I understand her stance from a parent’s perspective but it plays back to what the San Diego contingent did when they aired their dirty laundry. Be mad and upset, sure – just don’t do it on Facebook like she did. In addition, his reps responding publicly to what San Diego did yesterday was also the wrong move in my opinion. They’ve played this correct until commenting (out of likely frustration) yesterday.

You want to and are supposed to negotiate in business from a position of strength. San Diego is not doing that and by engaging in a war of words publicly you have weakened your position with them and in the court of public opinion. Staying silent and continuing to issue the standard “no comment” or saying you’ll continue to work on this would have been the smart way to do things. Engaging in rhetoric doesn’t help you here. It will have the opposite effect. Fall back, stay quiet and let that dysfunctional franchise continue to self-destruct.
In the end, I think this comes to a head around Week 9 or Week 10 (with Week 10 being the drop dead date). Should he not report by then he will be able reenter the draft next season…but he will be leaving the $25 million dollars on the table (per his draft slotting) if he chooses to do that. He won’t be able to go to the combine next year and there’s virtually no guarantee he’ll be selected 3rd overall again. It’s a messy situation that won’t be fixed anytime soon. Both sides need to take a step back – San Diego especially – and come to an agreement before something happens here that neither side will be able to apologize for or come back from.

Enough Is Enough

by Brian Jones

On Tuesday, the NFL announced that 4 players would potentially face an indefinite suspension in relation to the league’s investigation into an Al-Jazeera report that named five players that had taken banned substances without the league’s knowledge. 

The players involved are basically being strong-armed into cooperating with the NFL. I don’t think the players should do that at all. Under no circumstances should they go along with this.

The original report was filled with errors and inconsistencies and the reporter recanted 100% of everything in their report and the story was eventually pulled altogether. They apologized for doing it and for bringing the players into this and that should have been the end of it. Roger Goodell and the powers that be don’t see it that way.

Problem here is that the NFL is pursuing and threatening to suspend James Harrison (who has been extremely outspoken on the matter), Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and Mike Neal over an inaccurate and since withdrawn story that wasn’t based on facts. This investigation by the league shouldn’t have been initiated to begin with.

This has become regular business at 345 Park Avenue as of late. Threatening and suspending players on the basis of opinion and hyperbole without having actual facts? Really? I’m personally not surprised by this at all. You can look no further than Tom Brady and the Deflategate drama for an example.

Brady was basically pursued (legally, mind you) and, yes, suspended on the basis of a Wells Report that stated that Brady was involved – or as the report said, “more probable than not” – with deflating footballs. Not to make this into a bigger debate or issue but the NFL never actually had solid, lockdown evidence that Brady was “beyond a reasonable doubt” guilty. He was suspended without actual factual evidence.

There’s no evidence here that beyond a reasonable doubt (or again, any factual evidence available) that any of these four men did anything, literally did anything. No evidence is present here. You’re going after these men, their reputations and careers on the premise that a since recanted news report that was a sham to being with. That being known now means this needed to be dropped and left alone.

Unfortunately, that isn’t going to happen. The Collective Bargaining Agreement has armed Goodell with the power to be the judge, jury and executioner – and the players agreed to it! They had the opportunity during the most recent lockout to take that power away and didn’t do it. Period, simple as that. A ten-year agreement was signed with the players’ blessing and this provision wasn’t argued or fought to have the power thrown out. This has to stop. The sooner, the better.

Goodell was allowed to strong-arm Brady, he’s being allowed to strong-arm these four players and he’ll continue to do it to others until his powers are removed or modified. Brady eventually caved and had to take his suspension and now these four are going to have to eventually cave as well. Goodell has been even more empowered by the ruling in the Deflategate case and also by a ruling in the league’s favor in the Adrian Peterson case. The deck is clearly stacked in the NFL’s favor.

No other commissioner in any of the other North American major sports has this much power. Until Goodell has his power taken away or reduced he will continue to abuse and use it as he sees fit. Enough is enough. The NFLPA and the players themselves need to get on the same page and make this happen before the next baseless situation or case comes along and Roger Goodell and the NFL rules with their iron fist once again. If that means modifying or adding some language to the CBA or taking away his power altogether, they need to do it. Whatever it takes.

Image result for roger goodell

Realistically, this won’t happen but they need to band together to at least give it a try. They owe it to themselves to try and make this happen. If they don’t and keep things as they are this policy of punishing players without legitimate or actual evidence will continue to be enforced. The players and the union constantly complain about Goodell, his power and how unfair he is and has been. They say they want change. Now is as good a time (and this as good a reason and cause) to step up and do something about this

Don’t Let A-Rod In

By Brian Jones

Thankfully (and mercifully in some circles) Alex Rodriguez will be gone from the Yankees after Friday’s game. He’ll go home to Miami and rest, reflect and hopefully stay out of public view until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training. He’s got his money and a new job title and he won’t be around the Yankee organization every day any more.

 

In my opinion, that’s not enough. There have been some rumblings about putting A-Rod into one of the most sacred places in baseball history: Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. I cannot be any clearer on this (and I speak for most of, if not all, of Yankee Nation when I say this): DON’T LET A-ROD INTO MONUMENT PARK.

I mean, ever. Don’t ever let him in there. That is hallowed ground in Yankee history. It is a place to remember and praise the immortals. Names like Ruth, DiMaggio, Munson, Jeter and Mattingly are out there. Legendary baseball and Yankee figures, MVPs, world champions, baseball pioneers and Hall of Famers make their home there. Alex Rodriguez does not belong there. Not now, not today, not ever, I cannot express this enough.

He’s an admitted cheater of the game of baseball and outside of being a contributing part of the 2009 World Series-winning team he’s done nothing to merit entrance. He won’t be remembered as a Yankee great, he doesn’t have  that landmark moment in his Yankee career. He’s not going to be remembered as a beloved player in Yankee lore and, quite simply, he doesn’t have caché or the makeup of what makes a Yankee a Yankee.

The organization owes him nothing. The fan base despises him. Baseball fans (for the most part) don’t particularly care for him or like him as a player. It would be an insult and disgrace to every inductee in Monument Park to allow Alex Rodriguez to be celebrated in this fashion. He’s got his new, shiny “job title”, he got a ring and he’s getting the remaining salary on his contract. That’s more than enough. They have gone above and beyond to give him what he wants (even after he lied to them and threw then under the bus several times). He doesn’t deserve this. 

Don’t let him in Monument Park.

Restricted Freedom

In everyday life the one constant most anyone can count on is change. It happens to everyone, every day, all the time. We switch clothes daily, switch opinions on the fly and, most notably, jobs from time to time. Most anyone is able to change jobs these days unless there is a handshake agreement or a non-compete clause that would prevent that from happening. 

In college athletics, coaches can switch jobs anytime they want to. Pay a little money on a buyout or wait for a contract to expire and they are on their way to their next preferred destination. 

However, when it comes to college players it is not nearly that simple. Scholarships are being treated like ironclad contracts and if a player wants to leave or transfer they aren’t able to do without there being hoops to jump through and hurdles to clear – but is that right?

To be clear at the top here, I am on the side of the college athletes in both of the following cases. Coaches can up and leave a school and don’t have to sit out a year or two because of rules and regulations. They aren’t required to redshirt and they aren’t slapped with a list of schools or conference that they can or cannot transfer to. This is not right. I cannot be any clearer on that. 

If a student athlete wishes to transfer to another school for any reason – to be closer to family, not getting enough playing time, if it’s not a good fit athletically or academically – they should be allowed to be released from their scholarship and go where they are going to be able to best advance themselves academically (which should come first) and/or athletically and they should be able to do so without restriction on where they can or cannot go. It is as simple as that, period. 

If Nick Saban can be allowed to leave LSU and go to the NFL (where he failed, let’s be honest) then because it didn’t work out he can leave there and go to Alabama with no undue restrictions whatsoever then why can’t his players be allowed to do the same?

Saban is now being a bit hypocritical when it comes to one of his former players, Maurice Smith. Saban is currently blocking Smith (who has already graduated from Alabama) from transferring to SEC rival Georgia…who is now being coached by former long-time Alabama assistant Kirby Smart. Now on the surface – and just off this alone – it would look like Saban doesn’t want to weaken his team and help to strengthen another. 

That may very well be the case but when former player Chris Black transferred to Missouri (another SEC school) he was allowed to do so with no undue strife. Alabama is now attempting to hide behind a rule that is in place but is rarely enforced more times than not. SEC policy – as does most individual university and conference policies – states that it is at a school’s discretion not to allow players to transfer from one member institution in conference to another member institution within the conference. 

Problem is they went against policy by allowing Black to leave (he was injured and released from his scholarship) but they are now enforcing the same policy they just went against when it comes to Smith. Again, to be clear, I am not on the side of Alabama or Georgia – who could do more to acquiesce the situation on Smith’s behalf – or even the SEC. He would be considered a graduate transfer, meaning he would be going to school to work on higher learning while playing football. 

Saban runs a virtual football factory in Tuscaloosa and Georgia is rebuilding as a football program. This one player is not going to make the difference between a national championship or a bowl game. It is literally a “do as I say, not as I do” situation. One player was hurt and allowed to leave but the one that isn’t but has met all of his required academic responsibilities, is not allowed to leave? 

The rules are the rules and should be uniformly enforced, not modified on a whim. Saban allowed Smart to go to a rival school in conference without this or any other pomp and circumstance. To hold Smith there and not allow him to go where he wants, considering the circumstances, is pure hypocrisy.

Former Baylor QB Jarrett Stidham is in a similar situation as Smith is. Following the sexual assault scandal and cover-up that happened (and continues to unfold) at Baylor, Stidham made the decision to transfer from the school and go somewhere else to continue his college career. Unlike the situation at Alabama, Stidham is being allowed to transfer to another school – but just like the situation at Alabama, the inter-conference rule is being enforced on Stidham (Big XII schools are off limits), as well as another caveat that he cannot go to any school on Baylor’ schedule that has already been scheduled in the future (SMU, Rice, Duke and UT-San Antonio). 

This is not right on any level. The student athlete is being penalized for the lack of institutional control that was exhibited on Baylor’s part by allowing crimes to take place and covering up said crimes. Stidham did nothing wrong here but is now being told he can leave but cannot go to the 16 schools Baylor is preventing him to attend. 

If a coach wanted to leave Baylor and go to, say, Texas or Oklahoma as a result of this scandal I’m virtually certain the university would allow the coach to leave with no undue restrictions being placed on him. If Baylor is afraid that Stidham would transfer to TCU or Texas, sit out a year and come back and perform at a high level – especially against them – then they needed to do a better job of controlling the goings on at their university and they wouldn’t find themselves telling a player where he can or cannot play. Stidham is going to abide by the NCAA transfer rule and sit out a season – but he should absolutely not be told by the university that he’s leaving from where, he can or cannot go to school and play football.

These are only two of many cases that happen like this in college athletics. At the end of the day it is hypocritical to let coaches leave jobs of their own free will and go to other jobs with no consequences or restrictions being placed on them at all, while the student athletes continue to get the short end of the stick. 

If student athletes can’t go to whatever school they want to without having to sit out a season then coaches should be held to the same standard. The same thing should apply as far as certain rules and restrictions go as well. If a student athlete is told he cannot go to a school or transfer to a rival conference then the same thing should apply to coaches who want to move around as well. 

Of course, this isn’t going to happen overnight, if ever in college athletics. However, until something is done to prevent things like this from taking place coaches and universities will continue to circumvent and break rules that are already in place, punishing and holding back student athletes…but best believe that if another opportunity comes along for a coach, that they won’t have to wait or sit out for any period of time. 

It’s not right or correct on any level but it is the way this form of business is conducted in the NCAA.