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.