NFL players need a stronger spine in CBA talks

OK, we understand the players seem destined to take the money and give the owners a 17-game season.

But are they selling themselves short when they are putting player safety on the back burner to get more money?

The real question is: Are they getting enough to take the risks of playing that extra game?

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the owners will increase the players’ percentage of the designated gross revenue from 47 to 48 percent if the schedule stays at 16 games. But they get 48.5 percent for a 17th game.

That apparently means the players are getting a half of one percent of revenue for the 17th game. Since the owners really want that 17th game, shouldn’t they at least get a one percent increase to 49 percent?

According to Schefter, the players will get $5 billion more over 10 years if they go from 47 to 48.5 percent.

Sounds like a lot of money and both sides will put the spin on it about how much the players are getting.

But remember, $5 billion for 10 years is $500 million a year and remember, the players have to split it 1,500 ways.

Also, most players will pay about 40 percent in taxes – maybe more – depending on the state they live in. Now we are down to $300 million or less than $10 million per team.

And it is split 53 ways per team with the quarterbacks and star players getting a lot of it.

The players are going to get an increase in the minimum wage but it won’t be a windfall.

Maybe my math is wrong and we only have what Schefter has reported to go by.

And as revenue increases, they will get more over the life of the contract. And it will go up more if they play the 17th game than it will if they stay at 16.

Still, it seems like players should get more than a one half of one per cent increase to give the owners a 17th game. They take the risk of suffering injury, including CTE. The owners take no risk and the fans don’t play to see them.

The player reps – or the players themselves – should vote no. But if they take the deal, they can stop complaining the next 10 years about how players in other sports get paid a lot more money than they do.

It is easy for the players to take the money and run. But this is a time to stand up to the owners if they are going to take the risks to give the owners something, that they really, really want.

XFL is latest twist in Stoops’ coaching career

One of the toughest things for any successful college coach to do is to walk away in his prime.

The temptation is to stay too long the way Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden and Woody Hayes all did.

Bob Stoops didn’t make that mistake. He coached at Oklahoma for 18 years from 1999 to 2017, won a national championship in his second year and kept the Sooners a force in college football while going 190-48 before stepping down on top as an icon.

He chronicled his career in his autobiography, “No Excuses, the Making of a Head Coach,” which was published by Little Brown and Company.

Even though It was published last fall, it is very timely because in the last page, he mentions that he decided to return coaching in the XFL with the Dallas Renegades.

He will make his debut Saturday when the new league kicks off its first season.

He ends the book by writing, “Two years ago, I got to write my own ending. I needed that time to decompress and recharge…Now I get to do something even better. I get to write my own beginning.”

It will be interesting to see what his new beginning is like. Is the XFL a springboard to him returning to big time college football? He did decide not to pursue the Florida State job at the end when FSU appeared to have him at the top of their list.

It remains to be seen if the XFL will scratch his coaching itch or whether he whether he will decide to go back into the pressure cooker as the coach of a big-time college time to cap off his career.

Either way, he is already had a fascinating career and his bio is one of the best I’ve read because it is so candid.He admits that it was almost a football miracle that put him on the road to becoming a successful coach.

He grew up in Youngstown as the son of a coach, but was not heavily recruited. The only Division I school (now known as FBS) to offer him a scholarship was Bowling Green. He was recruited by an assistant but when coach Denny Stolz met him, he wasn’t impressed, and rescinded the offer.

That left his options as staying home and playing for Youngstown State or going to Southern Illinois.“I would have been fine. But I am not sure I would have been happy,’’ he said.

Then came the miracle. The Iowa coach, Bob Cummings, offered him a scholarship. He was from Youngstown and played at the same high school his dad did.

But the team went 2-9, he didn’t play as a freshman and Cummings was fired at the end of the year.

He was ready to transfer, but his dad told him that he would wind up like one of those guys who go off to school, come back and amount to nothing.

That was the end of his transfer talk and he returned to Iowa where Hayden Fry had been hired as head coach.

He says that Cummings bringing him to Iowa was his first big break. The arrival of Fry and his defensive coordinator Bill
Brahler at Iowa was the second one.

They turned the program around and Stoops wound up playing in the Rose Bowl, becoming a team captain, making first team All-Big Ten honors and even honorable All-American mention.

And he not only met his future wife there, but Fry offered him a job as a graduate assistant coach.

That started him on the road that eventually led to Oklahoma and he entitled the chapter about his arrival at the school as “Lonely.” You don’t often hear coaches talk about being lonely at a new job when their family hasn’t joined them.

He said when he was visited by an old friend, he hugged her like she was his wife.“I made his go to lunch with me,’’ he writes. “I just needed to talk so someone with a connection to my past. It surprised me that I reacted that way, but that was the depth of my loneliness.”

That is the kind of candor that makes it such a good book. It is more than about football and gives a lot of insight into his life.

Now he begins the next chapter of his life in the XFL.

Super Bowl Pick-Six: A review

1. This was an easy game to handicap. Not surprisingly, the game was won by the team with a better quarterback. Even though Patrick Mahomes struggled for the first three quarters, he made the big plays in the fourth quarter to win the game while Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t able to counter and overthrew Emmanuel Sanders when he had him open deep for what could have been a game winning score.

2. San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan didn’t learn any lessons from being the offensive coordinator when Atlanta went through the 28-3 disaster in the Super Bowl. He again showed he doesn’t know how to manage a game, notably at the end of the first half and in the fourth quarter. The 49ers had a 20-17 lead with six minutes left when Raheem Mostert ran five yards on first down to the San Francisco 25. Shanahan then called two pass plays and both were incomplete and the 49ers punted. Shanahan didn’t even seem to understand why he should have called a run on second down. He said it wasn’t about bleeding the clock, but moving the chains. But the 49ers averaged 6.4 yards a carry and a run would have been better shot to move the chains. Shanahan was the goat of the game.

3. There was a lot of chatter after the game that this is the beginning of a dynasty since Mahomes isn’t even in his prime yet. They have a chance but it won’t be easy to win multiple Super Bowls in the salary cap era. The Patriots did it but after winning three in four years, they went a decade before winning three more.

4. General manager John Lynch said after the game the the 49ers will be back. Don’t count on it. Seattle and Atlanta haven’t been back since they flopped on the cusp of Super Bowl wins. And they have to worry whether they have the right coach and quarterback to do it. And it is easy to forget that if Seattle hadn’t botched things after being a yard away from winning the season finale, the 49ers would have been a wild card team after losing three of their five regular season games.

5. The Super Bowl TV ratings increased slightly from last year but it was still only the 10th most watched Super Bowl. The Super Bowl still draws the biggest ratings of an TV show all year. But the audience doesn’t seem to be growing.

6. It remains to be seen if the Chiefs are on the cusp of a dynasty, but another question is whether the Patriots dynasty is over. Bill Belichick was booed at the game and flashed three of his six Super Bowl rings, but he may not win a seventh one. Even if Tom Brady returns, he is showing his age and the Pats don’t have an alternative.

QB mismatch makes Chiefs a sure Super winner

There will be millions of words written to analyze the upcoming Super Bowl in the coming days.

But let’s make it easy for you if you want understand why the Chiefs are going to win.

They have the better quarterback.

That’s it.

There are times in the Super Bowl when the quarterback is a wash when two Hall of Famers face each other like Bradshaw vs. Staubach and Montana vs. Elway.

There are times when neither quarterback is a Hall of Famer like Trent Dilfer vs. Kerry Collins.

But when one team has the edge at quarterback, it wins. This dates back to the early years when Bart Starr beat Daryle Lamonica, Joe Namath topped Earl Morrall and Len Dawson beat Joe Kapp in the second, third and fourth Super Bowls.

And note that Tom Brady won six of them but except for beating Hall of Famer Kurt Warner with the help of poor coaching by Mike Martz, he beat five quarterbacks who have combined to win one ring.

They are Jake Delhomme, Donovan McNabb, a young Russell Wilson, who threw that ill-fated pass which was a bad call by the coaching staff, Matt Ryan, handicapped by Kyle Shanahan’s poor coaching, and Jared Goff.

So, the choice in this Super Bowl is Patrick Mahomes over Jimmy Garoppolo.

The 49ers may have the better team but they’re not going to beat the Chiefs with Jimmy G. throwing eight passes the way he did against the Packers.

Mahomes will put points on the board and eventually Jimmy G is going to counter and while he may one day be a top quarterback, he isn’t there now.

That means the obvious choice is to go with Mahomes.

Case closed.

NFL conference championships in review

1. If Patrick Mahomes makes the Hall of Fame one day, his highlight reel will include his 27-yard touchdown run down the left sideline that spurred the Chiefs to the come-from-behind victory over the Titans. It was aided by some shoddy Titans’ tackling, but showed Mahomes is more than just a prolific passer. He may be the best quarterback in the game right now.

2. It wasn’t exactly a Joe Namath guarantee but Frank Clark of the Chiefs raised some eyebrows before the game when he talked about how it’s not hard to hit Derrick Henry. Earl Thomas had said similar things the previous week and then was stiff armed by Henry on one of his big runs. But the Chiefs held Henry in check with 69 rushing yards although it helped that the Chiefs got ahead and forced the Titans to go to the passing game. Clark talked the talk and then walked the walk.

3. Jimmy Garoppolo passed for only 77 yards and completed just two passes in the second half in the 49ers easy win over the Packers. Coach Kyle Shanahan said they stuck with the running game because it was working but the New York Times brought up the possibility that Garoppolo isn’t completely healthy after turning his ankle in the win over the Vikings. One thing is certain. He has to throw for more yards in the Super Bowl if the 49ers are to win.

4. Even though he was cut by six teams, Raheem Mostert refused to give up and was rewarded for his determination when he ran for 220 yards – the second most rushing yards in a playoff game since at least 1950 — as the 49ers demolished the Packers with their ground game. Mostert was helped by the fact the 49ers’ line opened gaping holes for him to run in.

5. Andy Reid has a glittering coaching record except for his playoff record. He’s only made it to one Super Bowl. Even after the victory, he is only 14-14 in the playoffs and 2-5 in conference title games. But now he gets a second chance to win that first Super Bowl.

6. Aaron Rodgers said after the loss that Green Bay’s championship window is still open. But after being routed by the 49ers twice in the same season, you have to wonder if Rodgers will never win another one.