Kraft faces no good options in embarrassing prostitution case

New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft is finding out the downside of being a celebrity owner in the NFL.

As a legal matter, being charged with solicitation after visiting a Florida massage parlor two days in a row in January – including the morning of the AFC title game being played halfway across the country – is not a big deal.

According to the Wall Street Journal, prosecutors even offered him a deal in which they will drop the charges on the condition that he admit that if the charges hadn’t been dropped, prosecution would have resulted in a conviction.

All he would have to do then is 100 hours of community service, complete an education course about prostitution, be screened for STDs and pay some of the court costs and it would all be over.

It’s likely the low-profile men also charged would take that deal.

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Book argues smartly that salary caps have outlived their usefulness

The salary cap is now an accepted part of the professional sports landscape in the U.S. except in baseball, which has a luxury tax.

The cap is credited for creating parity and giving  all the teams an equal chance to be competitive.

But is the salary cap actually a good idea except for the owners, who use it to control salaries?

As the NFL teams prepare for the start of the league’s new fiscal year, it is a good time to check out a book entitled “Cap In Hand – How Salary Caps are Killing Pro Sports and Why the Free Market Could Save Them” (ECW Press).

The book by Bruce Dowbiggin (a two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top broadcaster) with Ryan Gauthier argues that the salary cap has spread the talent and created more mediocre teams piloted by conservative coaches.

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Shameless Kraft deserves year-long ban and Hall snub

F. Scott Fitzgerald once said the very rich are different from you and me.

Bob Kraft is proving that.

You would think the New England Patriots owner would be keeping a low profile after police in Jupiter, Fla., announced last Friday that Kraft was one of 25 men caught on video visiting a massage parlor where human traffickers were exploiting women.

Instead, he attended pre-Oscar parties in Los Angeles over the weekend.

Kraft craves the limelight so much and loves rubbing elbows with his fellow plutocrats that he can’t be shamed.

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Upstart AAF already showing NFL where it can improve the sport

The upstart Alliance of American Football in just one weekend has probably changed the NFL without being affiliated with it.

It showed that kickoffs and extra points aren’t necessary to enjoy a game. Kickoffs are dangerous when they are returned and a waste of time when they aren’t. And eliminating kicking extra points makes the two-point conversion more exciting.

And it takes away the necessity of coaches making mistakes when deciding when to go for two. Many of them go for two too soon. John Fox lost a Super Bowl in Carolina doing that. He twice went for two in the fourth quarter and didn’t make either one. That cost him two points. And then Bill Belichick, playing with free money because the Panthers had cost themselves two points, decided to go for two and made it. That is a three-point swing in a game decided by three points. If Fox would have just kicked the extra points, he would have had overtime and if he won the coin toss probably would have won the game.

And kicking the extra point is a boring play.

The NFL will probably eventually get rid of kicked extra points and kickoffs. It will just take time.

The NFL also needs to follow the lead of the AAF and start the play clock at 35 seconds if not 30. The fast-paced game showed how clunky the NFL games are these days.

Of course, the NFL can’t cut down on the commercials because that would cost them money and the NFL would never do that. But they could present them in different ways. Maybe have a quarter sponsored and have the sponsor have a ribbon across bottom of the screen in lieu of fewer commercials. The NFL has to start thinking outside the box.

It also needs to copy the idea of letting fans listen to the replay official. It is much more transparent. And they need to make decisions quicker if it is not an obvious overturn.

Of course, the AAF has a lot of work to do. Putting a team in an NFL city like Phoenix may have been a mistake. They didn’t announce the attendance, but Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reported it appeared to be between 10,000 and 15,000.

The Atlanta team also has problems after Brad Childress quit before it played its first game for reasons that weren’t explained. And Michael Vick, who was to be involved with the team, apparently wasn’t eager to put the time in required for the job and may have a league role instead, according to founder Bill Polian.

The league also should consider delaying the start of its season to early March and have a northern team or two.

It also might play down the idea it is a developmental league for the NFL. The bottom line is that Kurt Warner was an exception to the rule. Very few of these players are going to make it in the NFL. It’s not that they just need reps to develop. Most don’t have the talent. But so what? They can still be entertaining.

It also has to be patient. It will take time to grow the audience since CBS Sports Network and the NFL Network, which will show most of the games, don’t have the audience that CBS has as a broadcast network. CBS showed the opening night but won’t televise another game until the title game in late April.

The league’s promotion and PR also need work. As Pro Football Talk pointed out, they don’t even issue box scores or game books like the NFL does.

There is also the question of what the financing is like. The NFL says it is not investing. What is the league’s budget? How much are they prepared to lose before they can turn a profit?

But that’s all for the future. For now, the AAF has already made an impact and shown the NFL needs to make some changes.

Pats fans should savor this one, because it was Tom Brady’s last hurrah

The night of the Super Bowl earlier this month would have been perfect time for Tom Brady to drop the mic and ride off into the sunset.

He has no more worlds left to conquer in the NFL. He is the only player to win six Super Bowl rings. He could have left the way John Elway did after winning back-to-back Super Bowls or the way Peyton Manning did after winning his last one.

Brady, though, is not the retiring type, even though it was obvious this year that he is starting to show his age.

The New England Patriots lost five games during the regular season on the road to teams that didn’t make the playoffs. They would have lost to Kansas City in the AFC title game with Brady throwing a game-deciding interception if Dee Ford hadn’t lined up offsides.

And they probably would have lost to the New Orleans Saints if not for the bad non-call against the Rams that cost Saints a Super Bowl berth. It is hard to imagine the Patriots holding Drew Brees to under 13 points.

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