The Thundering Blurb
The End of an Era, The Start of Something New

Howdy folks.

So I’ll come right to the point — I’m writing what will be the last posts (for at least now) on the Thundering Blurb and Big East Gridiron.

I love both sites, don’t get me wrong, but as time has gone on I’ve gotten more and more freelance work which has taken up more and more of my time, of which there just isn’t enough of to begin with. Also, I’ve been lucky to connect with several people who I’ve really enjoyed working with and have helped me get my writing out to more eyeballs and that has created more opportunities and of course more work.

I started the Blurb because I wanted to give people a place to find me - as time has gone on, that’s just become unnecessary and the amount of work I put there has dwindled. The Blurb served a purpose whose time has come and gone.

Big East Gridiron is a little harder to leave behind, but the more I worked on it last season, the more I realized the direction I’d chosen for it wasn’t as well thought out as I had believed. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it and get to work with and meet some fantastic people in the College Football world. I did— it’s something I value tremendously and hope to keep in connection with those folks from here on out, regardless of where I’m working

But if I do something long term, I want to do it right and with my work at Footballguys, the work I am putting into draft analysis, some new ventures (we’ll hit that in a minute) and a full time job and family — I’m just not doing it or the Big East justice.

I’ll return to it one day I think, but for now, I have to put it aside. (And hell, Mark Ennis and Patrick Johnston do a much better job at Big East Coast Bias on SBNation than I ever did. If I’m nice, maybe they’ll ask me to do a guest column during college football season. :) )

So what the hell am I doing now? Well, as always there is Footballguys for all my fantasy football writing. Of course, I’m still on twitter way too much. But there’s something new on the horizon…

You guys probably noticed that a lot of my draft stuff ended up over at CheeseheadTV this past year. The why of it will have to wait until the tell-all book ‘The Bilking of a Cheesehead; How I Got Incriminating Photos of Nagler’ but I’ve enjoyed my time over there tremendously.

A while back Nagler pitched the idea to me of bringing my considerably long winded NFL takes (case in point, this post) to CHTV in the capacity of NFL Analyst. Further he thought re-launching my sleeping podcast ‘The Thundering Burb Football Show’ on the site would also be a great move.

They wanted more NFL content, I wanted somewhere to run a show without having to either pay scads of green or at 11pm in the evening. It’s a perfect fit. They tolerate me at CHTV and I pretend Charles Woodson can carry Darrelle Revis’ jock. Win-win.

So as we say goodbye to things old, we also say hey to a new era - and starting this week, Aaron and I will be launching our new podcast ‘The Hard Count’, which will live at CHTV along with posts on my thoughts on everything NFL. It’ll be taped at first, but at some point it will probably go live.

We won’t be doing a ton of news stuff - I mean we’ll talk and write about topics all the time, sure, but we’re not looking to become ProfootballTalk - Florio, Rosenthal and company have that wired.

But I will give you my honest, no holds barred opinion on whatever is going on, be it the larger CBA picture or general thoughts on particular events around the league.

Of course, I’ll still be contributing elsewhere, be it doing the odd 49er piece at Bleacher Report or letting my Jets flag fly at The Jets Blog (thanks to more incriminating photos), I’ll be continuing to get my stuff out there. And there are more things on the horizon - just need to get a little closer to them.

So that’s it. Shortly these sites will stop existing on the interwebs. I want to thank everyone who read, commented, complained, listening, laughed or encouraged me the last few years. I hope you’ll stick with me for the next leg in the journey. And like Rex Ryan I’ll give you my unvarnished, uncensored, though less foul mouthed opinion.

Now let’s go get a goddamned snack.

2011 NFL Mock Draft (1 round)

Before I get into this, I wanted to take a moment to thank a few people. This week quickly descended into utter chaos and some folks stepped up that I want to acknowledge.

The long and short of it is, there were credential issues. I understand there were a bunch of media people affected - I happened to be lucky enough to be one of them.

Luckily, Mr. Nagler, Brian Bassett of theJetsBlog.com and Calvin Morrissey and the folks at GMC and Big Fuel all stepped up to help straighten things out. Both Aaron and Brian made a bunch of calls on my behalf (as did my buddy Cecil Lammey at 104.3 The Fan) to the NFL to try and work things out. Brian also put me in touch with Calvin, who came through to make my attendance at the Draft possible.

So Thursday at least, I will be at the Draft, in the interview room and harassing Behnke and Nagler by throwing things at them. That’s thanks to GMC and I can’t thank them enough. I’m excited to see what they’ve got planned tonight as well. You can follow their Draft activities on twitter by looking for the hashtags #GMSpon and #GMCDraft.

With that - let’s get this FINAL mock draft posted.

So as you can see, a few surprises and few ‘well duh’ picks. And you know what? Come 8:01pm EST on Thursday when the Panthers make their actual pick, all this becomes irrelevant.

We can finally stop wondering about ‘what could be’ and start talking about ‘what is’.

Thank goodness.

NFL Draft Analysis - WR AJ Green

There’s not much debate around Green as the number one wide receiver in the 2011 NFL Draft. Yes, Alabama’s Julio Jones is also an exceptional athlete but isn’t quite on the level of Green.

Which isn’t to say Jones isn’t a fantastic player - really it’s a matter of apples to oranges as they are very different receivers in many ways. Figure in the fruit analogy, both are high quality and either one would be great for your team.

As always, you can expect some growing pains with a rookie wide receiver. Still, Green is a smart player and I have no doubt that he will contribute early on in his NFL career.

NFL Draft Analysis – RB Mikel LeShoure

We’re starting to close in on the home stretch here and one thing is clear - nothing is clear.

Which is just to say: situation normal.

It’s hard to gauge where LeShoure’s value is, though that is no fault of his. With the emergence of running back committees, even a good back can see himself fall out of the first round and while it might have been unfathomable a few years ago, it wouldn’t shock me to see both LeShoure and fellow backs Mark Ingram and Ryan Williams still on the board on day two.

Which only means somebody could get a great value in the second. This isn’t to say LeShoure isn’t a value in the first. Just that running back has been de-emphasized as a need in today’s NFL.

NFL Draft Analysis - QB Andy Dalton

Things I learned last week:

  • Cutting QB highlights takes twice as long as any other offensive ‘skill’ position.
  • Editing at midnight only leads to slipped audio tracks.
  • There’s a lot of ‘middle ground’ among the quarterback class.

The fact is, even the best of this group - arguably Newton/Gabbert/Ponder depending on preference - is less polished than I’d like if I were to own a high draft pick and need a quarterback.

We can talk Newton/Gabbert upside, but the truth is even if you love one of those two or Ponder (who is considered more pro ready) it’s not a great class.

Normally a guy like TCU’s Andy Dalton is the perfect guy to target from late Day 2 onward. While a bit limited physically, Dalton’s a very smart guy who sees the field well and makes consistent good choices.

I think he’d be a very good backup from the get go and with some work, could be a solid starter. I’d take him anywhere from late third onward.

It looks like he’ll go in the second (maybe sooner), and I think that’s a bit risky, depending on situation.

If he goes to a team who can sit him a year, it’s early but he probably won’t be rushed into a starter’s slot. If he goes to a team with a deep QB need, he could end up in the lineup too soon which would be detrimental to his development.

NFL Draft Analysis - RB Mark Ingram

Welcome to the first installment of many videos aimed at taking closer look at the incoming rookies in 2011.

When I was a struggling screenwriter (emphasis on ‘struggling’) in Los Angeles, one thing which was drummed into my head was ‘show me, don’t tell me’.

A lot of draft analysis is us - the analysts - talking at you, the fan. But you can only hear ‘stiff hips’, ‘my ball mentality’ and ‘road grader’ so many times before the words lose all meaning. It’s impossible to keep up with all the terms and buzzwords used every year and for many fans it can be hard to remember what they all mean.

So rather than tell you what I see, I’m going to show you.

This a work in progress but for a first effort I think it came out OK.

A few more words after the video below. By the way, not only can you comment in the comments section, but you can comment right on the timeline of the actual video as well.

So as I said, I really do like what Ingram brings to the table. He does many things well and while he does lack that break away speed you like to see in an elite back, he’s got more than enough talent to play very well for a very long time in the NFL.

Stephen Ross is Spinning aka Why Nobody Trusts Ownership

So in between work, writing up player notes and watching the Auburn/Bama game for the 50th time (that’ll teach me to pick a game with no less than five pro prospects) I caught this piece over at Pro Football Talk.

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross says that with the (alleged) costs of doing NFL business rising, the owners cannot give the players what they’ve had until this point - what Ross claims is 50% of the gross revenues.

I put the gross in italics for a reason and I’ll get to it in a minute. Here’s a quote from Ross, provided by Florio’s article via Omar Kelley of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

“Anybody who has been in business [knows] you don’t pay players the percentage of the gross,” Ross said.  “The expenses have just grown so great as compared to the revenues, there’s no real reasonable return to anybody’s bottom line.”

I’m not even sure where to start there, so many things are wrong in that one paragraph. But let’s start with what is (probably) right.

Costs have risen.

Everything else is spin.

Here’s how I feel in simplest terms.

Listen, I’m going to explain why the “Anybody who has been in business [knows] you don’t pay players the percentage of the gross” is crap but first I want to explain why the word gross here is inaccurate.

I know we all want to see this through our own prism - we say nobody reading this will go to their bosses and say ‘open the books’ if their paycheck got cut and get anything but a pink slip or giggles.

The players are not us. The owners are not your boss. Get over that notion right now. If you can’t, come back later this week and I’ll have draft analysis up.

The only industry comparable to the NFL in terms of money and how people get paid is the entertainment industry.

I spent 20 years working in and around that industry as a production worker bee and aspiring writer.  It’s one of the only industries that cuts its’ stars a direct piece of the profits, much less gross profits.

And it fights like hell to keep from paying those points. Like the owners are now.

See, here’s the thing. As Florio points out, it’s clear that the owners are mostly tired of cutting the players into their piece of the pie. And even the players have admitted the last deal was a sweetheart one for them.

So there’s room to move on both sides and both sides seem to know that the way things are must change to some extent.

But here’s the problem - like the studios, it’s clear you can’t trust them without seeing the books.

Remember when I put gross in italics? I did that because right off the bat, Ross is playing with words. The owners take a billion dollars of the top of the pile before anyone else gets paid.

In the entertainment industry, the rest of that money gets called ‘net profit’ - and by the way that used to be called ‘monkey points’. Because only a monkey would think they were ever going to see it.

So right off the top, Ross is telling us falsehoods. Gross is total - and taking a billion off the top mean you’re not getting total.

It’s a small thing in some ways, until you think about a billion dollars and realize that no, a billion dollars is never a small thing.

Here’s the heart of the player’s issue and - as I have said multiple times in multiple formats now - mine:  how can I trust you when you continually tell me things that are wrong and treat me like a moron?

I’m sorry but I don’t think it takes a MBA to see that what Ross is saying is disingenuous at best and an outright lie at worst.

What’s worse is, he doesn’t NEED to spin to make his point. He doesn’t NEED to twist words to say they need to re-work the agreement. Everyone knows there should be some give.

All this does is add fuel to the fire that the owners aren’t hurting as much as they say. That they’re not going broke, but instead greedy.

Especially after the Doty ruling on TV contracts and reports that the 70% revenue share supposedly going to the players is a tad high - I mean how do you take a group’s word for it when they’ve repeatedly shown that word to be shaky at best?

Now, let’s give Ross the benefit of the doubt and instead of calling him a liar, I assume he misspoke.

Who do you pay to see? Tom Brady or Robert Kraft? Do you tune in on Sunday to watch Adrian Peterson or Ziggy Wilf?

Or to put it another way: do you pay good money to see Brad Pitt in a Martin Scorcese flick written by Brian Helgeland or do you pay to see a Warner Bros movie?

We pay to watch the players. Sure, we pay to watch the teams as well but if good players weren’t there, we wouldn’t pay what we are now any more than we’d pay top prices to see an independent film with people you’ve never heard of.

And yes, it’s not a perfect analogy - plenty of us see indie films and enjoy them. Those films (usually) don’t make the money of a star driven blockbuster either.

Either way - it’s ludicrous to say ‘Anybody who has been in business [knows] you don’t pay players the percentage of the gross.’ In fact, I’d go so far as to say it should worry Dolphin fans as it strikes me that someone who makes such a sweepingly incorrect statement is likely to screw his team up.

The statement should be:  ‘anybody who has been in the NFL business knows you wouldn’t HAVE a business without the players’. That you make millions on jersey’s with THEIR names on them. That you make millions selling ads based on the game THEY play. That you sell tickets to games in stadiums plastered with THEIR faces.

Listen, the former union isn’t blameless here. They’ve made their fair share of shaky statements.

However, at it’s heart the NFLPA argument is and has been pretty straightforward and at this point I can’t fault them for standing firm and demanding transparency.

The players aren’t stupid. The public isn’t stupid.

The owners keep saying things that make me think that either THEY are or they think the above two groups are.

Neither of those things makes me confident this will get done anytime soon.

So, in summary:

Owners. Stop talking out of both sides of your mouths. (And keep Jerry Jones and Jerry Richardson away from the negotiating, please.) Open your books because you’ve smoked any trust capital you had with both the players and public long ago.

To both sides - enough already. Spend less time in the press and more time at the table.

NFL Draft Guides, Radio gigs and Cheeseheads

Hey folks. I know, I know, it’s been slow. Was traveling, sick and hammering away at the deadline for a project.

So let’s catch up, shall we?

First, the project:

As some of you may remember, I have been working with the folks over at CheeseheadTV on a 2011 NFL Draft guide. I have now finished with that! My contributions are a three round mock and analysis on QBs & WRs.

You can see a sample of my work at the site and order there as well. It’s in .pdf form and just $5.

Now you may say to yourself, ‘Self, why would I - a Pats/Jets/Bills/Toledo Mudhens fan want a Packers draft guide?.

I get that. HOWEVER, while you will be subjected to many Green and Gold pages, you will also get insight into every position - some from very unique angles.

I’ve seen parts of it and I can tell you it’s worth the cash.

So check it out on the above link or heck, tell me you love me by just ordering it now.

NEXT

Looking for something to do tomorrow between 1 and 2pm EST? Why, I have JUST the thing for you.

I’ll be co-hosting my friend Matt Levine’s sports talk show ‘The Final Score’ tomorrow at that exact time and you can stream it online. We’ll cover some March Madness, NFL Draft and CBA talk - plus whatever else we can fit in an hour.

I’ll be in studio up in the wilds of Connecticut so if I never return, send help.

That’s it for now. We’ll be gearing up some draft coverage over the next few weeks again now that I am recovered from traveling and being sick with the ebola virus. Much of my draft stuff will be here and at Big East Gridiron.

Thanks for reading, listening and being awesome.

NFL Draft Talk on the Thundering Blurb Football Show

So the shows have been a bit streaky the last few months for reason’s we’ve gone over before bu to make up for it - a two for one!

I needed to do two in part because BTR cut me off after 45 minutes, which I mistimed. Happened again, as it turns out on show two.

Here is show one and show two.

The first show covers a lot of labor/CBA talk with some draft mixed in while the second is all draft - my QB/WR rankings and the start of my mock before I got cut off. Also, lots of topics rom the chatroom.

Below is the top fifteen of my mock draft picks, since I didn’t get through them all.

1.      Carolina Panthers: Blaine Gabbert, QB

2.      Denver Broncos: Da’Quan Bowers, DE

3.      Buffalo Bills: Cam Newton, QB

4.      Cincinnati Bengals: AJ Green, WR

5.      Arizona Cardinals: Von Miller, OLB

6.      Cleveland Browns: Marcell Darius, DT

7.      San Francisco 49rs: Patrick Peterson, CB

8.      Tennessee Titans: Nick Fairley, DT

9.      Dallas Cowboys: Prince Amukamara, CB

10. Washington Redskins: Julio Jones, WR

11. Houston Texans: Robert Quinn, DE

12. Minnesota Vikings: Tyron Smith, OT (Mallett?)

13. Detroit Lions: (Castonzo?)

14. St. Louis Rams: Cameron Jordan, DE

Miami Dolphins: Mark Ingram, RB 

1.      Carolina Panthers: Blaine Gabbert, QB

2.      Denver Broncos: Da’Quan Bowers, DE

3.      Buffalo Bills: Cam Newton, QB

4.      Cincinnati Bengals: AJ Green, WR

5.      Arizona Cardinals: Von Miller, OLB

6.      Cleveland Browns: Marcell Darius, DT

7.      San Francisco 49rs: Patrick Peterson, CB

8.      Tennessee Titans: Nick Fairley, DT

9.      Dallas Cowboys: Prince Amukamara, CB

10. Washington Redskins: Julio Jones, WR

11. Houston Texans: Robert Quinn, DE

12. Minnesota Vikings: Tyron Smith, OT (Mallett?)

13. Detroit Lions: (Castonzo?)

14. St. Louis Rams: Cameron Jordan, DE

15. Miami Dolphins: Mark Ingram, RB

Talking QBs with Cecil Lammey on Denver’s 87.7 The Ticket

87.7 The Ticket - Riding Shotgun w/Cecil Lammey

Saturday I joined good friend and Denver Sports Radio personality Cecil Lammey on his weekend show to talk NFL Draft - particularly quarterbacks Cecil Newton, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder.

Get a little primer before the Combine kicks off!