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An Important Week … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

The negotiators for the NFL and the players along with the staff of the federal mediator George Cohen were off the grid for the weekend. Hopefully, they were resting, preparing and ready to begin talks on Monday that will lead to an agreement that will keep football on the field and out of the courtroom.

It’s a huge week for a lot of reasons. If the next five days fly off the calendar without an agreement, don’t count on their being another extension. This week the two sides will either get close to an agreement or they will be farther apart and a lockout will be on.

That leaves so many questions on all levels of NFL business that will need answers, from the front office to the locker room, and everywhere in between. There is no comparable labor situation in league history to help provide a road map. The league has established some rules involving players and their contact with teams. The NFL Players Association has done many of the same things with its members.

The road less traveled in the NFL labor wars has a bunch of potholes that could cause many, many problems. Here are just a few.

NFL TEAMS DON’T CHEAT DO THEY?

I do not think that Chiefs GM Scott Pioli is naïve about the ways of the NFL. But he sure sounded like it at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis when he was asked about the effect of a possible lockout on players and teams.

“Whatever the rules are, they are going to be the same for 32 teams,” Pioli said. “Whatever the set of circumstances are, that’s what they are. You know what the rules are. You know what the positives are. You know what the limitations are and you just do your job.”

Obviously, that was the politically correct thing to say, even though it does not reflect the reality of the situation. There are rules about teams videotaping at NFL games, specifically in relation to the opponents’ offensive and defensive signals on the field. That was a rule for 32 teams, but one team that Pioli was very familiar with broke the rules – the New England Patriots.

Pioli was never named in any fashion in the controversy surrounding the Patriots nefarious taping that eventually led to league discipline. Whether he knew about it before New England was caught does not matter. Pioli and 30 other teams in the NFL know about it now.

To think that NFL teams are not going to test the limits of the rules in the case of a lockout of the players is to be naïve. GMs, coaches, trainers and other staff members are not supposed to talk with the players in the case of a lockout. Do we really think that type of radio silence is not going to be broken around the league?

GMs and coaches keep their jobs by winning games. If off-season work wasn’t important to establishing success, then it would not be bothered with. But every team has strength & conditioning calendars that usually begin at the end of March. All 32 teams have OTA sessions, where the players go on the field and work on football related activities like offense and defense.

Worst-case scenario – the lockout rolls into September and threatens the start of the regular season. Does anybody really believe that a head coach or offensive coordinator has not spoken with the starting quarterback, or the players that make the offense go? Hell no. In fact, if I was an owner and my coach wasn’t breaking the rules on communication with the team leaders, I would probably fire him.

The idea that every team is going to follow the rules has never been true, and in the case of a potential lockout, it’s definitely not going to be true. The potential problems and trap doors in this part of the labor picture are many and messy and enforcement is almost impossible.

KEEPING THE PLAYING FIELD LEVEL IN THE COACHING OFFICES

The Chiefs are one of about a dozen teams that have already made it clear that they plan to cut the salaries of their head coach and assistant coaches in the event of a lockout.

An equal number of teams have publicly said they are maintaining business as usual, with the coaching staffs getting full pay and no furloughs or layoffs.

Already it’s not hard to see how the level playing field is starting to tilt. Say the lockout goes down and the Chiefs coaches are taking their pay cuts. There’s no way that head coach Todd Haley can insist that these guys put in the type of hours they do in the off-season. Maybe he goes to a four-day work week for his guys, giving them Fridays off. Out in San Diego, the Chargers coaching staff has not suffered any cuts in pay. They are in the office working all their hours and on that Friday, and each succeeding Friday, they are getting a jump on the Chiefs.

If the lockout goes on for months, that’s a lot of Fridays where the Chargers staff can be more prepared than those teams like the Chiefs that have cut their coaches.

So the coaches should be exempt from feeling the lockout pain? Yes, if the organization cares about football and winning. If the leaders of the franchise are concerned more about the bottom line than anything else, then the coaching staff is going to feel the pain and they aren’t going to forget it.

The average NFL coach works an incredible number of hours. Once training camp starts, the staffs I’ve known averaged 100 to 110 hours per week from July through December. That’s 2,200 hours for five months (22 weeks) work. In the off-season, they receive time off, sometimes as much as a month in the weeks before the start of training camp. Give them six weeks of vacation. But the rest of the time they are working at least five days a week, usually for 10 to 12 hours a day. Let’s take the low end at 50 hours a week for the remaining 24 weeks, or 1,200 extra hours.

So the average NFL coach works 3,400 hours. Over 365 days that averages out to 9.3 hours per day. That type of commitment and effort should be acknowledged and not tarnished by taking 10, 25, or 40 percent pay cuts.

Now, let’s jump ahead to after the 2011 season, when Haley and San Diego coach Norv Turner are trying to keep their coaching staffs intact, or they are talking to possible additions. Say they are talking to the same veteran assistant about joining their staff. Say the financial offers are comparable, with a bit more money in San Diego because of the cost of living. How long do you think it’s going to take Turner to point out that when the lockout went down, the Chargers coaches were not cut, while the Chiefs coaches were penalized.

PRACTICE BY THE PLAYERS, GOOD OR BAD?

Speaking at the 101 Banquet over the weekend, both RB Jamaal Charles and SS Eric Berry talked about how they are prepared, along with their teammates, to schedule some practice sessions in the coming months if there is a lockout.

Berry said the players have pretty much agreed to meet around the first of April and put together a plan for practices.

“We’ll just come up then, find somewhere to work out or just see what’s going on,” Berry said. “I know we could work out somewhere. That’s the date we kind of set to come up and either have a meeting or something to kind of get on the same page.

“We’ll probably move toward something like that, just to make sure we’re all in accord. Our goal is to come out ahead. I’ve been talking to everybody in the off-season. They’re pretty much ready to go. Everyone’s been working out and getting ready for this upcoming season. We don’t know when it’s going to start but I’m pretty sure the Chiefs are going to be ready.”

No matter the desire of the players or how many are willing to take part in the work, those player practices are not going to be like the work they would have with the coaches. No matter how much they run and lift weights together, it won’t be like working with the Chiefs staff.

Hopefully, if they happen these practices will be a sight better than what players put together in 1982 and 1987, the last time there were work stoppages in the NFL. They were a joke and lasted about a week, before the players found other things to do. History shows us what happened:

  • 1982 – the Chiefs 1981 team finished 9-7 and just a game out of first place in the AFC West. They were 1-1 before the strike. After being out for 56 days, they returned to lose their first four games and they were 2-5 after the strike, 3-6 for the season.
  • 1987 – the season before, the Chiefs were 10-6 and in the playoffs. In 1987, they were 1-1 before the strike went down. The NFL owners fielded teams with replacement players, and the fake Chiefs went 0-3. When they returned from the strike, the real Chiefs lost their next five games and ended up going 3-7 over the last part of the season. The real Chiefs finished 4-8, while the fake Chiefs were 0-3.

Trying to recreate a practice like they would go through under the Chiefs coaching staff would be a waste of time. The only guys who should get together on the field are the quarterbacks, tight ends and receivers, against defensive backs and linebackers. They could hold passing camps on a semi-regular basis that would do wonders for the offensive timing. Leave the big guys out of it and in the weight room.

There are a host of other trap doors involved with a lockout, where good ideas don’t look so nice in the light of day. Again, that makes this week so very important for the league. They need to find an agreement, so these distractions and problems do not see the light of day.

NFL PERSONNEL FILE FOR MARCH 4-5-6

  • BRONCOS – re-signed DT Kevin Vickerson to a 2-year contract.
  • CHARGERS – signed S Bob Sanders to a 1-year contract.
  • CHIEFS – re-signed LB Cory Greenwood to a 1-year contract.
  • JAGUARS – released WR Mike Sims-Walker.
  • LIONS – re-signed CB Nate Vasher to a 1-year deal.
  • PACKERS – signed head coach Mike McCarthy to a multi-year extension, tying him to the Packers through the 2015 season; signed SS Charlie Peprah to a 2-year contract.
  • SEAHAWKS – released QB Nate Davis.
  • TEXANS – re-signed DT Shaun Cody to a 2-year, $5.75 million contract; signed RB Derrick Ward to a 1-year, $1.75 million contract.

11 Responses to “An Important Week … Monday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • March 7, 2011  - RW says:

    Is the NFL a business, first, and a sport, second? Or is it the other way around? The lines get blurred at times like these OR most anytime where revenue streams and compensation are on the discussion table.


  • March 7, 2011  - SG says:

    Interesting that our rivals are adding guys like Bob Sanders and we’re doing big things like re-signing Cory Greenwood. Impressive.


  • March 7, 2011  - el cid says:

    SG, I asked but Bob said have patience, so I guess we wait. Once the CBA is signed, we may get a better picture. Got a feeling some of us will be a bit dissatisfied with this free agent period but the Chiefs have a good excuse, no CBA, could not react in time. Isn’t that the SOP for Chiefs excuses?


  • March 7, 2011  - cupp says:

    SG, Lets just hope the Chiefs don’t play San Diego during the 4 weeks Bob Sanders is healthy next season.


  • March 7, 2011  - Rick says:

    .
    Personally, I wouldn’t get too excited, or too angst ridden, over the Chargers signing Bob Sanders. The guy is just looking for a paycheck and his next season ending injury. The Colts let him walk for a reason. I’m going to guess that he spends at least 8 games on San Diego’s bench due to injury.


  • March 7, 2011  - Andy says:

    I guess we are really seeing how much Clark cares about building a winner for the long-haul. Setting this precedent clearly shows where he stands…


  • March 7, 2011  - Fansince93 says:

    Signing Bob Sanders is questionable. I think this has more to do with AJ Smith trying to redeem himself from letting Rodney Harrison leave town several years ago.

    Before he was knicked up I felt Bob Sanders was a true defensive MVP. The colts D was another team when he was on the field. Those days are long gone. I for one am hoping he’ll be on the field when the Chiefs play the Chargers.


  • March 7, 2011  - Mike in MO says:

    I couldn’t find a legitimate place to post this, so I’m doing it here, as I need to say it. I just saw the video of Todd Haley accepting his Coach of the Year award Saturday night. Considering the kind of money he makes, maybe he should invest in (a) a razor, and (b) a shirt that fits. The one he was wearing looks to be about a size too big around the neck.


  • March 7, 2011  - JT says:

    As much as I love football there are a lot more important things in life. If these idiots can’t get a deal done or if they get a deal done that doesn’t preserve competitive balance, I’m outta here. I will fight back with the only thing I have. I will not spend another dime on the NFL.

    This thought came to me as I realized that the ‘lockout’ workouts mean nothing if the game on the other side is not as balanced as it is today.


  • March 7, 2011  - el cid says:

    Way to go, Mike in Mo. Appreciate the call out of Haley. He has that modern look, the “I live under a bridge” look. I guess i am showing my age but what is with male stars without razors?


  • March 8, 2011  - SG says:

    “Signing Bob Sanders is questionable.”

    Obviously our Chiefs are not deep in need of a FA safety with injury issues…but in comparison, our competitors are taking “some” action with regard to their teams while we’re signing…Greenwood? He’s just igniting the excitement level for the Year-3 version of the Pioli “Right 53.” I hope I don’t have to start coining the phrase “The Cheap 53.”




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