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NFL Lockout and NBA Lockout: Labor Pains

Lockout. It’s the “L” word everyone’s talking about. Nope, it has nothing to do with the show, although I tried watching it in hopes of getting some information on the situation and left oddly confused about where the players and owners stand. Next season for both football and basketball could be in jeopardy and, unfortunately, Alex Trebek is not presiding over the dispute. Distribution of wealth and the owners’ desire to implement an 18-game season threaten to disrupt the NFL season, which apparently runs from April to February (or if you are the producer of NFL Live, never ends). Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith in a steel-caged death match. It would probably sell. Throw in a Doritos commercial and enough money would be generated to finance Jerry Jones’ new belt buckle, another Al Davis lawsuit against someone, or one more overpaid underperforming free agent signing for Dan Snyder. The NBA is seeking to reduce player costs by about 700 to 800 million dollars (the amount paid to Raef Lafrentz and Jim McIlvaine once). Contraction has been discussed (talk about labor pains!), but what would the world do without the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Charlotte Bobcats, apparently extinct NBA species for the better part of a decade.

(Cue movie announcer guy) Impasse. Concessions. Decertification. Collective bargaining agreement. These images invoke the excitement of an AFL/CIO meeting. The league and players union meetings will feature just as many suits, but just a smidge more athletic talent. George Meany was never much of a jump shooter anyway. Player salaries have come a long way since helmet-less athletes threw around a watermelon-shaped football made of horsehide earning nothing more than, perhaps, their two front teeth. Long gone are the days when basketball players took turns shooting at a suspended peach basket, earning nothing more than Dr. Naismith’s praise. Baseball teams played for peanuts and Cracker Jack. Nowadays athletes earn so much they could probably buy off Mr. Planter and wear the top hat and monocle themselves. Cracker Jack may sponsor a stadium and makes millions in the process. Sports figures have trumped, well, Donald Trump.

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Vikings Defensive End Ray Edwards Will Start Boxing if There Is a Lockout

Many signs point to the owners locking out the players when their Collective Bargaining Agreement expires. The owners reportedly are even seeking to cut the minimum salary for players with fewer than four or five years of experience. It really doesn’t seem fair to the players, but Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards won’t let their actions impede his personal growth.

Edwards, who had eight sacks last year and eight and a half the year before, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press via Rotoworld that he plans on pursuing a career in boxing if the lockout goes through “I’ll probably fight the beginning of April, I’ll start my own promotional company,” Edwards said.

This is nothing new for Edwards who talked about his plans to box professionally as recently as the summertime. Even legendary trainer Emmanuel Steward, with whom Edwards has trained, said the Purdue product moves naturally like a boxer.

It sure would be difficult for Edwards to match the success he’s enjoyed in football in boxing, but with some time and dedication who knows what he can do. And his backup plan sure seems more realistic than Brandon Marshall’s. The good news is he’s making plans for the lockout. More players should follow his lead because that outcome seems inevitable.

Rex Ryan: No Doubt Jets Will Win the Super Bowl Next Year

Wait, did Rex Ryan say the Jets would win the Super Bowl in 2011?  What he really meant was 2012.  Yeah, that’s it — next year is their year.  Rex promises.  Maybe the foot fetish scandal was more of a distraction than we think, because there is absolutely no doubt in Ryan’s mind his team is going all the way next season and I’m sure Bart Scott “cant wait!

Rex told Pro Football Talk via the NY Post that “there’s no way [the Jets] don’t get it done next year.”  He then followed with “next year I know we’ll win it,” while sitting courtside to watch the Lakers beat the Knicks at MSG on Friday night.

Yawn.  I know Jets fans love this guy’s straight-shooting attitude and have grown to trust him, but when do they tire of hearing the same thing over and over again.  By guaranteeing a Super Bowl victory, Ryan puts himself in a position to say “I knew this team had it in them the whole time.”  Why not just go out and do it without all the buildup?

If I wake up every morning and say there’s going to be a downpour today, I’m bound to be right at some point.  It doesn’t take a weatherman to predict a rainstorm, but it doesn’t take us long to get sick of one who can’t get it right.  What Rex Ryan has done a tremendous job of over the past two-plus years is proving that talk truly is cheap.

Agent Don Yee Suggests Players Play 16 Games of an 18-Game Schedule

As the NFL and the NFL Players Union work toward avoiding a lockout in 2011, it seems like the list of issues is endless. One of the most highly debated topics has been whether or not to add two games to the regular season schedule. The league is obviously in favor of the move because it would result in more revenue, but the players are concerned for their health and therefore strongly opposed to the idea.

Don Yee, the agent for Tom Brady and Saints coach Sean Payton, has proposed a compromise.  According to the USA Today, Yee has suggested the league move to an 18-game schedule but allow every player to participate in a maximum of 16 games.  Coaches would decide which players to sit as the season progresses.  Here is an e-mail Yee sent to the Associated Press discussing his idea:

This compromise will create even more interest from fans. What two games will the head coach sit the starting QB? That’s a discussion that will set sports talk radio airwaves afire.

“This compromise will also be popular with coaches and general managers who want a greater opportunity to develop younger players. The NFL doesn’t have a minor league, and this compromise will force meaningful participation by younger players on the roster.

“Players also would endorse this because each would effectively get two bye weeks during the year. Bye weeks afford important healing time and personal time away from the game.”

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Cam Newton Workout Video Was Excellent Idea to Boost His Draft Stock

Prior to holding his private workout in San Diego Thursday, former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton was getting hammered by the media for making those plans. I couldn’t hear enough about how his father was ruining him, how strange these plans were, and how bad of an idea it was. Maybe it was just the backtalk of football personnel upset over the exclusionary nature of a “media only” workout.

Now that the workout actually took place, the groans have dissipated. ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer went gaga over Cam as if the two were dating, NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks described the quarterback’s workout as “absolutely sensational,” and pretty much everyone in attendance agreed that he looked great. Even if the media-only workout didn’t do anything to change Newton’s status amongst NFL scouts and evaluators, it did accomplish something even more important: it cleaned up Cam’s image.

Instead of being the guy who took all the money to play at Auburn, or instead of being thought of as the spread offense, shotgun quarterback, he’s now the guy surging up draft boards because he looked great in a media workout. The talking heads on TV and the pundits on the internet have something very powerful — a large reach and audience. As long as those people believe Cam is a great quarterback, then the workout accomplished something extremely important — changing perception.

If Cecil Newton was behind this idea, then he deserves some credit for an excellent idea.

As for the actual Cam Newton workout video, here it is for you to take a look:

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Mark Sanchez and 17-Year-Old Girl Eliza Kruger: He’s Smarter than we Think

So last week sports site Deadspin trumpeted a big story they had ready to run on Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez Tuesday. Given their recent run of news cycle changing stories on the Jets (Brett Favre’s sexting scandal, Rex Ryan’s foot fetish), there was good reason to believe they had something big. Their story turned out to be a dud, as I wrote on twitter (follow LBS!). All they did was pass along a personal story from a 17-year-old girl who had hooked up with Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. There were no legal implications as the age limit for consensual sex in New York and New Jersey is 17. The only area you can question Sanchez is his decision to be with a 17-year-old girl which, for a 24-year-old superstar like him who has dated girls like this, I do question.

Anyway, since we’ve discovered that the story is absolutely useless aside from the good joke or two that Sanchez likes ‘em young, there is something that we can take out of it. The New York Post, which conceivably could have crossed ethical lines by identifying the girl, reports that the 17-year-old is Eliza Kruger, the daughter of Chip Kruger.

The elder Kruger is “a partner in the Stamford, Conn., financial firm Five Mile Capital Partners, who court records show received a $48 million bonus, severance and a deferred-compensation package when he left the firm Greenwich Capital in 2000.”

So what does all this mean? Sanchez, who probably will earn around $35 million or so from his current contract with the Jets, may be marrying for money. Yes, if he blows through his financial fortune or gets hurt, sticking with Kruger will be an insurance policy for him!

Marrying for money, you sly dog Sanchez, you.

Vegas Sports Books Pocket Slimmest Super Bowl Winnings Since 1998

When it comes to the biggest sporting event of the calendar year, people love to gamble.  Sports fans and schmoes from all over the globe empty their pockets in an attempt to make money on the Super Bowl and make it more exciting to watch.  Gambling websites and sports books come up with plenty of ridiculous prop bets and a lot of others that we thought were worth a look.  On Sunday, the house took home a lot less than they are accustomed to.

LBS contributor Sam called our attention the Las Vegas casinos’ profit margin from Sunday’s game between the Packers and Steelers, and it looks like the bettors took them to the cleaners.  Granted, I’d love for $724,176 to be an off year for me, but that’s exactly what the Vegas sports books made on Super Bowl 45 out of over $87 million in wagers.

The winnings were the lowest since 1998, with “winnings” being the key term since the casinos actually lost over $2.5 million when the Giants ruined the Patriots perfect season in 2008.  The low profit margin proves that there are times when the general public’s feelings about a line and game total can be correct.  Most people took Green Bay at around -2.5 and the over total of 45, which turned out to be good decisions.

Personally, I thought about placing some money on the game to make things interesting.  Like most others, I liked the Packers a lot giving up less than a field goal.  Like the illogical gambler that I tend to be, I used disgustingly flawed reasoning to talk myself out of placing money on Green Bay.  When I realized so many of my friends had taken the Packers, I thought to myself, “we can’t all possibly win this much money on the game, right?”  Well, we did.  Correction: they did.