What We Learned This Week in the NFL Off Season:
- NFLPA files suit against the “cartel” NFL
- OTAs heat up around the league
- Mike Vanderjagt chokes a kid who was taunting him for choking
- Steelers head into Week 2 of OTAs
It seems to me that the NFLPA is starting to feel the effects of the fine print from the CBA they all signed last August and is attempting to fight back piece by piece in court. This week, DeMaurice Smith on behalf of the NFLPA, filed a suit against the NFL claiming collusion in regards to the 2010 “uncapped year” and the penalties levied to the Cowboys and Redskins for violating the “uncapped year”. Football in shorts began this week as OTAs opened up across the league. No actual football was played, but the workouts were covered in some places about the same. Mike Vanderjagt is finding retirement a little hard to deal with when being heckled by a middle school kid in Florida, Vanderjagt responded by choking him. The Steelers will return to the South Side this week for a few more OTAs.
So to wrap your head around this collusion issue the NFLPA is having with the NFL right now you have to understand that 2010 was supposed to be an uncapped year. That was the owners “penalty” for allowing the CBA to expire without another one in place. The Redskins and Cowboys took it upon themselves, since their owners are just dripping with money, to dump a whole lot of money in contracts into that year. The NFL has now said “No says I” and took a whole lot of money from each team as punishment. Seems reasonable that they should have been allowed to do whatever they wanted salary-wise in an uncapped year but the NFL is claiming that they had an agreement for teams to not overspend that year (which sounds and awful lot like a salary cap) so they have punished the Redskins and Cowboys. The teams took their dispute to an arbitrator, who ruled in favor of the NFL, that the NFL was allowed to impose a salary cap to their teams in an uncapped year even though that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Still following?
What the players are filing suit against now is saying that the act of the NFL getting together and agreeing to some type of cap on the salaries during an uncapped year, is collusion and unlawful. Seems reasonable enough. Unfortunately, there was some fine print in that CBA we were all happy to see the players sign last summer and get back to work so we could have our football back that’s going to make it a little tough to win any lawsuits against the NFL. In the CBA, the players signed an agreement that neither side could sue the other about these very issues and apparently even spells out “collusion with respect to the 2010 league year…” D’oh. So yeah, this ain’t gonna work for them. As much as I dislike Roger Goodell, he’s got them by the you-know-whats on this one. I remember how excited I was when the news of the lockout being over broke out and I probably would have fell into a deep clinical depression if the lockout was still going on and we had lost a season, but it seems to me that this deal isn’t so great for the players after all.
Across the league we got our first look at Manning in a Broncos jersey and Tebow throwing some interceptions as a Jet. The Giants lost WR Hakeem Nicks for a few months to a foot injury. Nicks was to be Eli’s number one receiver since Mario Manningham left for San Francisco in free agency. It was a busy week in NFL player arrests as well with Lions DT Nick Fairley getting arrested for DUI in Alabama and Bengals undrafted rookie Brandon Joiner was sentenced to 3 years in prison stemming from a robbery five years ago. Well done, Bengals, well done.
Every Steeler fan remembers where they were in 2006 when then Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt was lining up to kick what could have been a game tying field goal for the Colts. We had all just finished hyperventilating after Jerome fumbled the ball on the 1 yard line and Ben fell into perfect position to make “the tackle”. Each of us when through our routines we use to will the kick to be blocked or missed, either wringing our Terrible Towels through our hands counterclockwise while whispering “Miss it! Miss it!” or getting down on our knees and praying to the football gods for a missed block on the line allowing a player to break free and block the kick. The football gods listened and Vanderjagt missed the 46 yarder, sending the Steelers to the AFC Championship in Denver. Good memories. Well apparently Vanderjagt doesn’t take kindly to being reminded of that day while in his new gig as a middle school soccer coach in Florida. After being heckled by a boy who was taunting “Wide left! Wide left!” (the missed kick in question was actually wide right but this is Florida after all) Vanderjagt responded by grabbing the boy by the throat. Seems like if you’re that sensitive to your past, you might find another gig besides hanging out with 12 year olds on a regular basis. Kids can be brutal. No charges were pressed and the school is trying to determine Vanderjagt’s future with the school.
Not sure what more stories could come out of Week 2 OTAs for the Steelers. We’ve covered the obvious lack of presence by Mike Wallace, the opportunities for leaders to step up in place of those that are no longer with the team, the changes to the OL and the new Haley offense, and the competition at cornerback. Anything left? There’s guaranteed to be something coming out of the South Side this week, even if it is just joy and jubilance at the sight of the Steelers in their practice jerseys running drills. We have 104 days and about 10 hours until Steelers football kicks off for realizes so let’s enjoy every bit while we can.
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