NFL MINDS AT WORK: League considering regular season ‘Hall of Fame’ game
Next week, NFL staffers will be heading to Canton, Ohio, for the Hall of Fame Game. In future years, it’s possible it won’t be the only Hall of Fame Game of the season.
The NFL is considering naming a big, regular-season contest “The Hall of Fame Game” in an effort to increase interest in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It sounds like the game would take place in the normal home city, but there might be events and promotions around the game related to the Hall. The game might be a prime-time affair.
Next week’s matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins will bring a lot of fans to Canton for the festivities. Everyone’s mind will be on the Hall of Fame for one week, but the NFL is hoping to extend that interest the rest of the year.
As long as an NFL team doesn’t have to give up a home game, the idea doesn’t appear to have any downside.
SETTING THE TONE: Historic capture of Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett’s team-meeting speech (FULL VIDEO)
Surprisingly, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett allowed SI.com’s Peter King to record Garrett’s entire Saturday team meeting to kick off the start of this year’s training camp (see below).
For the folks who only see the robotic version of Garrett during weekly and postgame press conferences, this version of the coach is a lot different.
The biggest difference: On several occasions, Garrett uses a certain four-letter — and sometimes seven-letter — word that starts with F.
Even after Garrett leaves the podium following press conferences and speaks with media members when the cameras are off, he almost never uses a curse word. This video shows he has no problem doing so in front of his players if that’s what it takes to keep them engaged.
Here are some of the highlights.
– “It’s hard to get in this room. Since you were this [expletive] high, you wanted to do it. Have a passion for it. Great attitudes.”
– “The NFL is hard. It’s a journey. It’s [expletive] hard. It’s hard to play one game in the National Football League, let alone 16 of them.”
– “I want Dez Bryant and Mo Claiborne [expletive] here tomorrow one-on-one on the left-hand side. That’s what I want, competing your [butt] off.”
– “You want guys who are leaders. Step up and be a [expletive] leader. Lead this football team. Lead it!”
– “The [coaches] I love to this day, were on my [butt] of every [expletive] minute of every day. I swear to God, I go to their weddings, their kids are getting married, I travel all over the world to see them. They [expletive] grinded me. It was hard. They made me better. That’s my job.”
– “The best [expletive] football teams I’ve been on, the quarterback held them accountable, the middle linebacker held them accountable, the pass rusher held them accountable, the tight end held them accountable. This is how we do stuff. This is the Cowboys. We’re trying to do something!”
– “Distinguish yourself from your play, not with what you say. We have a little bit of society that gets to a point where people want to distinguish themselves. They want to be famous by what they say. Twitter, all that kind of stuff that goes on, what they’re saying. Stick with yourself and your play. Talk about Sean Lee because he’s the best [expletive] Mike linebacker in football. Right? Not because he tweeted something, or said something in a press conference, or whatever.”
DAWN OF A NEW DAY – and football in a new way—starting in the inner sanctum of the Dallas Cowboys
Courtesy: Peter King
OXNARD, Calif. — “Life,’’ Jason Garrett told his team Saturday afternoon, pacing in front of his 90 players, “is about opportunities. The NFL! The Dallas Cowboys! Are you kidding me? Since we were this high we wanted to be here.”
I find myself this morning feeling the same as Garrett. Only I’ve got a different team. It’s called The MMQB, a site under the Sports Illustrated umbrella, using all the means of modern media to disseminate that football prose and information. Unlike Garrett, I haven’t made a speech to fire up the troops. I don’t have much Lombardi in me anyway.
First things first: I’m excited about our first post. I’ve always been intrigued with the speeches coaches make to teams at the start of training camp, in part because I once heard a 1973 tape of Paul Brown’s to his Cincinnati Bengals. I wrote about that speech a year ago. The rules, the expectations, the mundane, the inspirational. In the spring, I knew we’d be kicking off this new site around the start of NFL camps, and I went in search of a team that might let us not only write about a coach’s first speech of the season to his team, but show video of it. In our business today, we’ve all got to get wise to video. So after some convincing, Dallas owner Jerry Jones gave his blessing, along with coach Jason Garrett. And so, on Saturday, in his team meeting room a few long spirals from the Pacific Ocean, Garrett stepped to the front and laid out his hopes, plans, expectations and rules for the new season. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t believe a head coach’s full training-camp speech, the words and video, has ever seen the light of day … until today. We’re proud to bring it to you.
The full 35-minute video can be found here.
Three things I found compelling about Garrett’s presentation:
• Notice how silent it is in the room? Never a peep in 36 minutes, and there was a sensitive microphone at work in the room. You notice it especially when the vague topic of leadership surfaces, and Garrett gets animated. “We want guys who are leaders. Leaders!’’ Garrett said, eyes wide. “Step up and be a leader. Lead this football team. LEAD IT! It’s time! It’s time to lead this football team! It’s your time!’’ When he’d pause, you’d hear nothing—not even a cough. It’s hard to read the mood and feelings of 90 men, of course. But the players’ focus is a sign, to me, that Garrett’s still got the attention of his team, after back-to-back disappointing 8-8 years.
• The son of a coach talks like a coach, paces like a coach and warns that players had better be able to take coaching. “The coaches I hate—that I had a visceral reaction to—were the guys who told me, ‘You’re doing a great job.’ … And allowing me to be as mediocre as mediocre could be,” Garrett said. “None of us need help being mediocre—especially me. Coach my ass! … You been to the Pro Bowl eight times? You’re getting your ass coached. You just got here 15 minutes ago? You’re getting your ass coached. First-round picks, free agents who signed for nothing—everybody’s getting coached.”
• Ever notice the NFL’s getting more and more careful with every utterance? Garrett wants to keep it that way. With the media, Garrett said, players should be “respectful, brief, boring and humble … Distinguish yourself with your play, not what you say.” My favorite thing of everything Garrett said is about tuning out the distractions that flood every NFL locker room. “Don’t listen to the noise,” he said. “Think Einstein listened to the noise? Think Martin Luther King listened to the noise? Be strong enough mentally, be strong enough physically” to tune the distractions out.
“We’re gonna establish an identity that lasts forever,” Garrett told his players. “That starts today.”
Our site, and football America, owe Jones and Garrett (and Cowboys PR VP Rich Dalrymple) a debt of thanks for educating fans on the hidden ritual that, this morning, is no longer hidden.
2013 NFL DRAFT TALK: Early mock draft has Dallas Cowboys taking Ohio State DT Jonathan Hankins
SI.com pegged Ohio State defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins (6-3, 320) as the Dallas Cowboys choice at No. 18 in the first round.
NFL.com analyst Gil Brandt, the Cowboys’ former vice-president of player development, had the Cowboys taking former Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher (6-7, 305) at No. 18. The SI.com mock draft has Fisher going two picks earlier, at No. 16, to St. Louis.
2013 NFL Mock Drafts
2013 NFL Draft – Top 12 Defensive Tackles – Click HERE for more details about each player.
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SUPER BOWL CALIBER: Jason Garrett compares Tony Romo to John Elway
SI.com NFL senior writer Peter King attended Dallas Cowboys practice last week and wrote about some of his discoveries on Tuesday.
King received exclusive interview access to Cowboys coach Jason Garrett and quarterback Tony Romo. Some of the highlights include Garrett discussing Romo’s ability to win a Super Bowl and Romo’s take on the additions to the team’s offensive line.
“He’s more than capable of winning a Super Bowl in this league,” Garrett said of Romo. “Look at John Elway. He went 14, 15 years without winning one, and all of a sudden Denver runs it better and plays better defense, and he wins two, and now people think of him as a top three quarterback of all time. With Tony, we’ve just got to be better around him, and I think we will be.”
That’s certainly high praise coming from Garrett, a former NFL quarterback. Getting better around Romo will depend greatly on him having time to make plays. If the offensive line remains as shaky as it’s been during the preseason, Romo won’t get a chance to find receiving options like Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.
According to Romo, all he needs from the offensive line is an extra half-second to make a play.
“I feel good about where we are,” Romo said. “We’ve changed our two guards (adding Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau), and they’ll be important to what we do. If they can give me an extra half-second more after the snap, that can be eternity for our offense. It’s interesting to consider what we’d be able to do.”
RELATED: PETER KING – Romo already in mental battle against Giants’ D
I don’t normally talk to quarterbacks at midnight Pacific time, but we’d missed each other after practice, and we were both tied up in the evening, so he told me to call before 11, and I did, and he was talkative, so we spoke for a while. The quote had to do with us talking about how complicated some defenses are getting, and how smart the Giants’ defensive front was and a few other things, and Romo, who was sitting in his hotel room in San Diego studying some tape of the Giants, just knew that no matter how much he studied, the Giants would do some things in the opener 15 nights away that he wouldn’t — couldn’t — be prepared for. On this night, he looked at six Giants games from last season. He said he felt good about being able to study the Giants so much — but he’s no fool. He knows Eli Manning is probably doing exactly the same thing, studying the Dallas D back in New Jersey, whether it’s on this night or some others. (Editors note: Wouldn’t that also mean Manning in a mental battle against the Cowboys’ D?)
"We run an offseason study on the teams we’re going to play, like all teams do,” Romo said. "They [the Giants] will structurally be the same team; why would you change when you’ve won the Super Bowl? Structurally, they’ll probably run the same blitzes. But when you look at games from last year, you see their imagination. Against Buffalo [way back in Week 6], they did some really new stuff. I’ve watched a lot of that Buffalo game, with how they played a stack alignment and how they handled the [Bills’] screen game. What you do is take all that in and try to determine how they’ll react to what you’re going to do.”
Chess match. Spy vs. spy, especially in a first game, when two teams that played each other twice in 22 days at the end of last year then had eight months to wonder: How will they counter us when we do X?
"The first game of the year is always an in-season adjustment game,” Romo said. "But I feel good about where we are. We’ve changed our two guards (former Bengal Nate Livings and ex-Panther Mackenzy Bernadeau now start), and they’ll be important to what we do. If they can give me an extra half-second more after the snap, that can be eternity for our offense. It’s interesting to consider what we’d be able to do.”
That presumes that ascending star Tyron Smith, at left tackle, and right tackle Doug Free can also keep pressure off Romo. Last year, according to ProFootballFocus.com, Free allowed 49 pressures/hurries/sacks, so it’s no sure thing that Romo will be cleaner this year.
Romo was better last year than our memories of him: 66 percent accuracy (and one memorable overthrow of Miles Austin in the close December loss to New York), 4,184 yards passing, 31 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, a 102.5 rating. "He’s more than capable of winning a Super Bowl in this league,” Jason Garrett told me earlier in the day. "Look at John Elway. He went 14, 15 years without winning one, and all of a sudden Denver runs it better and plays better defense, and he wins two, and now people think of him as a top three quarterback of all time. With Tony, we’ve just got to be better around him, and I think we will be.”
The reason I’d feel good about Romo as my quarterback if I were a Cowboys fan was accentuated late in our conversation. We were talking about the contentious practice session against the Chargers, which ended with a Romo rainbow deep into the end zone to a fifth-round receiver who looked like he didn’t get both feet in. The official looking at the play looked around for help. The Chargers screamed that the kid was out of bounds. With no help coming, the ref threw both hands in the air and called out "Touchdown!” The Chargers were furious.
"I went back and looked at the play on tape tonight,” Romo said. "Threw it to Danny Coale. Cover 2, soft zone. Safety bit on the fake too hard. Danny came down with it. Great play. And he got both feet in. He definitely got both feet in.”
NEW PARTNERSHIP: Nike takes over as the NFL’s uniform outfitter
Many fans are taking it as a given — some with dread, some with glee — that Nike will give the NFL a wholesale makeover when it takes over the league’s uniform contract in 2012.
Speculations on what a Nike-fied NFL might look like, cooked up by some enterprising Photoshoppers, have been circulating for nearly a year now. Although the league and Nike confirmed that those designs are not legit, they still represent some people’s worst fears (or fondest dreams, depending on whether you’re an old-school or new-school kind of fan).
All this fretting and fantasizing is largely moot, because the NFL is likely to look pretty much the same as it does now. Here’s why:
• It’s a long way from the NCAA to the NFL. People’s perceptions of Nike are driven primarily by the company’s college football uniform designs. But the NFL is very different from the NCAA. For one thing, colleges are using newfangled uni designs as recruiting tools to attract 17-year-olds and to sell merchandise to 20-year-olds. But the NFL doesn’t need to recruit anyone and the league’s consumer base is, on the whole, older and less trend-driven than the NCAA’s. Also, many top colleges change their uniforms every season, while NFL teams aren’t even allowed to change their uniforms more than once every five years, so there’s a lot more design stability in the pro ranks.
• It’s the dog, not the tail: Nike (or any uniform company) can’t just walk in and change everything on a whim. Nike, like any vendor, can only do what its clients agree to. And in this case the clients are NFL team owners, a bunch of very conservative businessmen who have enormous investments in their successful brands and who, in many cases, have owned their respective franchises for generations. These are not the kinds of guys who are going to put their teams into the Nike design centrifuge. Can you really see the Rooneys letting Nike give the Steelers a major face-lift? Or the Maras? Or the Hunts? No way.
• Historical precedent. It’s easy to forget this now, but Nike outfitted many NFL teams back in the 1990s, and the world kept right on spinning. Now, it’s true that Nike came up with the Broncos’ current look, which was revolutionary when it was introduced in 1997. But think about it: Nearly 15 years later, not a single other NFL team looks anything remotely like the Broncos, which just proves the point that most NFL franchises prefer to stick with tradition. Will a few teams come out with wacky designs next year? Yeah, probably. But there’s nothing new about that. Most teams will still stick with what they’ve got.
• Hints have already leaked. Jaguars equipment manager Drew Hampton recently posted a series of tweets about the Jags’ 2012 uniforms. The gist: No design changes, just a few tweaks in the tailoring. That’s gonna be the story for most NFL teams.
• Potential new rules are a shot across the bow. Word came out over the summer that the NFL was considering new rules limiting alternate jerseys to non-prime games prior to Week 10, because the proliferation of alternate looks could "potentially compromise a club’s national brand equity." Does that sound like a league that’s planning to go bonkers with crazy uniform designs to you? If anything, it’s a preemptive move to ensure that Nike will have little effect on the league’s look.
Add it all up and you have a league that you’ll have no trouble recognizing as the NFL. A few teams will no doubt go for a face-lift, and we’ll hear the usual claims about space-age fabrics that are lighter, faster and so on. But a large-scale redesign? Ain’t gonna happen.
RELATED: NFL getting ready to transition to new Nike era for apparel
After a decade with Reebok, NFL begins apparel deal with Nike on Tuesday
New Nike uniforms won’t look much different, but will allow for higher performance
A report estimates the new deal could net the league $35 million per year
Dallas Cowboys featured in new SI book
Sports Illustrated has released a new book called, "1st and 10: Top 10 Lists of Everything in Football." The Dallas Cowboys are featured prominently in the list of top 10s.
The Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins were rated the No. 2 rivalry, with the Cowboys and 49ers coming in at No. 7. Prime Time made the list of top-10 nicknames at No. 4, and the Cowboys’ helmet ranked seventh. Two of the Cowboys’ Super Bowl losses rated in the top 10 of best Super Bowls, and Deion Sanders and Bob Hayes rated among the fastest players. Tom Landry’s record of 29 consecutive seasons coaching one team came in No. 3 as the most unbreakable record. The Cowboys were No. 1 on two lists — Ed Too Tall Jones was the top "big guy" and Cowboys Stadium rated the best stadium.
The book is available for $19.95 at bookstores or online.
WASHINGTON REDSKIN TIRADE: Jabar Gaffney tells Dallas Cowboys fan to “Kill Himself” on twitter
Washington Redskins wide receiver Jabar Gaffney took to Twitter after a tough loss to the Dallas Cowboys and told a Dallas fan to “go kill himself,” The Washington Post reports.
The Twitter tirade began after a Cowboys fan tweeted Gaffney “lmao 3-9.” The Redskins, however, are 3-7 and Gaffney responded rather angrily in a string of three tweets to the Cowboys fan.
“3-7 ain’t a record to be proud of I’m just proud I ain’t you get a life or kill urself,” the deleted tweet read.
Gaffney ended up deleting most of the profanity laced tweets. To see photos of the deleted stream, click here.
In Sunday’s overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Gaffney caught seven passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.
Courtesy: Sports Illustrated | The Washington Post
RELATED: Jabar Gaffney tells Cowboys fan to kill himself
The Redskins should probably go ahead and agree not to check Twitter on Sundays after losses.
First Fred Davis wrote that anyone who thinks he fumbled in the first quarter is an idiot.
Then Jabar Gaffney had a brief meltdown on his new account. He ended up deleting many of these messages, but I got the summary from the aggressively named FireTheShanahans.com.
This started when a Cowboys fan who lives in Virginia sent Gaffney a tweet reading “lmao 3-9.” The Redskins, of course, are not 3-9. Things devolved quickly from there.
The stream is below, with the bad words blacked out. Read from the bottom up.
Courtesy: Dan Steinberg | The Washington Post | 11/21/2011
Front Cover: Ware featured on Sports Illustrated cover
The magazine hits newsstands on Wednesday across the nation with Ware likely being on the cover on most magazines distributed in the Southwest region.
Inside the magazine, SI writer Peter King picked Ware as his preseason selection for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Ware has led the NFL in sacks two of the last three years, including 2010 when he posted 15 ½ sacks.
Also featured in Cowboys’ section is running back Felix Jones, who takes over as the lone starter. Jones tells SI reporter Matt Gagne, “Being the best running back in the league, that’s what I want to do. I’m going to stick with my ultimate goal, which is to play in the last game and win the last game.”
SI has predicted that the Cowboys will finish 2nd in NFC East with a record of 9-7.