Tuesday, February 21, 2006

New York Names Street After Peter Jennings

I just saw it on CNN's "Live From." W. 66th Street is now called "Peter Jennings Way." What a way to honor one of the best television anchors in American history.

It Could Be That, With AJ Freeley, The Chargers Feel They Can Get Along Without Brees

I think it was a calculated action, but in retrospect a very smart one by San Diego Chargers AJ Smith: signing quarterback AJ Freeley to a contract that runs through 2007.

I think this move was done to place San Diego in a perfect quarterback bargaining position they feel they can't lose in. With Brees, Phil Rivers, and AJ Freeley in place, the Bolts have two QBs' that other teams would want to deal for and one that's a proven backup.

And that's the other side of the problem.

Too much of this dealing and wheeling could place the Chargers with a team lacking in the righ chemistry to win a championship, let alone get into the playoffs.

Last year, the Chargers were one step from the postseason and arguably the best team not to make it. AJ Smith's actions could keep them in a position where they're on the outside looking in for a long time.

The best move was to place a franchise tag on Brees and go from there. It would have been a great move to insure the team's future chemistry. But it's too late now; they could lose Brees and Rivers and be stuck with Freeley.

Now Oceanside? San Diego Chargers Still Without A New Stadium Under Construction

After years, plans, environmental impact reports, and millions of dollars, the San Diego Chargers are still without a new stadium, let alone one under construction.

The latest proposal is to build a new stadium in suburban Oceanside. The San Diego Times Union report is below.

Councilmember suggests studying golf course as football stadium site

By Ronald W. Powell
February 21, 2006

The Chargers want a new stadium, and Oceanside Councilwoman Esther Sanchez believes Oceanside may have a solution.
Sanchez said the city-owned Center City Golf Course, which is commonly called “goat hill” because it is so hilly, should be considered.

She is asking the Oceanside City Council tomorrow to consider holding a workshop on the future of the 71.7-acre golf course and wants a Chargers stadium to be among the options.

“It would be a great honor to have the Chargers,” Sanchez said yesterday.

The site has an adjoining four acres of city-owned property, providing a potential development footprint of more than 75 acres. But Sanchez, who wants the workshop scheduled within 60 days, said she isn't sure the site is big enough to accommodate a stadium and parking.

Why this site might work
The Oceanside-owned Center City Golf Course has several features that Chargers officials have said they would want for a new football stadium.

A minimum of 20 to 25 acres would be needed for a stadium and parking. The golf course is 71.7 acres, with four adjoining city-owned acres.

Access to freeways and mass transit would be needed. The golf course is east of Interstate 5, with highways 76 and 78 feeding into it. The Coaster train line and the Sprinter train project, which is under construction between Oceanside and Escondido, could serve the stadium.

Some council colleagues burst out laughing when told of the idea, citing everything from traffic congestion to a shortage of parkland to environmental issues to the adverse effect on nearby neighborhoods as reasons why a stadium is not the right fit.

“I'm ready to discuss anything,” said Oceanside Councilman Rocky Chavez. “But this seems to me to be a bridge too far.”

Last month, the Chargers abandoned an effort to put a stadium proposal on the November ballot for San Diego voters. The plan would have called for the team to build a stadium at the 166-acre Qualcomm Stadium site and demolish the existing stadium.

In exchange, the Chargers wanted the city to deed over 60 acres at Qualcomm for free so the team and a development partner could build housing, a hotel, offices and retail outlets to pay for the stadium and other improvements.

The Chargers can begin talks with other cities Jan. 1 about relocating. San Diego Councilman Jim Madaffer has asked that the council vote to amend the Chargers' lease before then so the team can talk with other cities in the county about stadium possibilities. Madaffer said the amendment would increase the chances that the team would stay in the county.

But that plan is on hold until San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and a city negotiating group has an opportunity to try to work out a solution with Chargers executives.

Sanders' spokesman, Fred Sainz, said yesterday that the idea of a stadium in Oceanside is “too speculative and premature” to comment on. He said the city's Chargers negotiators met last Thursday and are planning to meet soon with team executives, although a meeting has not been scheduled.

Mark Fabiani, who is the Chargers' lawyer on stadium issues, said he could not comment on the Oceanside site because of restrictions in the team's lease with the city.

Fabiani said he first heard about the golf course at a Feb. 8 breakfast in the University Towne Centre area.

He was speaking about the stadium issue to an audience mostly of real estate brokers. During the question-and-answer period, Jane McVey, Oceanside's director of development and redevelopment, asked Fabiani if he knew about the golf course site. Fabiani said he told her he could not discuss the property and sent a letter to her that day further explaining why the team cannot talk with cities outside of San Diego.

McVey said in an interview that she was not talking to Fabiani at the behest of the City Council and just wanted him to be aware of the site.

The golf course is east of Interstate 5 at 1 Country Club Lane. It is bounded by homes on the north and east, a shopping center to the south and nonprofit youth services organizations on the west.

Sports marketing experts say a stadium in the North County could draw football fans from Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, in addition to the team's San Diego base.

It would meet some requirements Fabiani previously outlined for a stadium site because it is more than 25 acres, is owned by the city and has freeway access, as well as the potential for rail access.

But other requirements, including accommodating neighbors and financing for a stadium that could cost $450 million or more, are question marks.

An Oceanside ordinance also requires that a change in use of parkland, including the city's golf courses, must be approved by voters.

Oceanside Councilwoman Shari Mackin chuckled when told about the idea. Then she said the city has a serious shortage of parkland that development of the golf course would worsen.

“This has come out of left field. I just about fell out of my chair,” Mackin said. “I'm a big Chargers fan, but I don't know about putting a stadium in that little corner behind the grocery store.”

The golf course is under lease to Judy Keehn until the end of 2012. She said her late husband, Ludwig Keehn, obtained the lease in 1982 with the idea of providing an affordable place for residents to play.

The 18-hole course is known for its two-for-one deals that cost golfers $38.50 during the week and $43.50 on weekends – rates far below most other courses in the region.

Keehn said she had planned to operate the course until the lease expires but would consider a buy-out.

“If a deal came up, I'd look at it,” she said.

Tampa Bay Bucs' Defense Gets Quality Control Coach

TAMPA TRIBUNE - The Bucs took another step toward completing their staff by hiring North Dakota State defensive coordinator Casey Bradley as a quality-control coach for the NFL's top-rated defense. Bradley, a former free safety and punter for the Bisons, has been with North Dakota State's coaching staff for the past nine seasons.

In 2005, the Bisons led the Great West Football Conference in scoring defense, pass defense and total defense while using a variation of the Cover 2 scheme the Bucs have utilized so successfully in the past decade under Monte Kiffin.

Tampa Bay is expected to announce its revamped coaching staff this week at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.

Ira Kaufman

Tampa Bay Bucs' Defense Gets Quality Control Coach

TAMPA TRIBUNE - The Bucs took another step toward completing their staff by hiring North Dakota State defensive coordinator Casey Bradley as a quality-control coach for the NFL's top-rated defense. Bradley, a former free safety and punter for the Bisons, has been with North Dakota State's coaching staff for the past nine seasons.

In 2005, the Bisons led the Great West Football Conference in scoring defense, pass defense and total defense while using a variation of the Cover 2 scheme the Bucs have utilized so successfully in the past decade under Monte Kiffin.

Tampa Bay is expected to announce its revamped coaching staff this week at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.

Ira Kaufman

Dante Culpepper shopped to Baltimore - Minn Star

The Vikings contacted the Ravens, and...Well, read for yourself. At any rate, it's clear that the Vikings don't really want to keep Dante at all. Perhaps he will wind up with the Oakland Raiders.

Kevin Seifert, Star Tribune
Last update: February 21, 2006 – 12:56 AM

The Baltimore Ravens apparently were among the teams the Vikings contacted last week in an effort to gauge the trade value of quarterback Daunte Culpepper, but no deal with the Ravens or any other team appears imminent.

Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome told the [Baltimore] Sun on Monday that "we're interested in any matter that will make our football team better." Newsome said there have been no negotiations "officially" but did not rule out the possibility that the issue could be revisited.

Along with the Ravens, other teams expected to shop for quarterbacks this offseason include Oakland, Miami and the N.Y. Jets.

The Miami Herald reported Monday night that the Dolphins have spoken to the Vikings and are interested in him.

No trade can be finalized until the new NFL year begins March 3, but negotiations and a verbal agreement could occur any time. The Vikings presumably would like to resolve the issue before their scheduled $6 million bonus payout to Culpepper next month.

A person with knowledge of the situation said last week the Vikings had begun shopping Culpepper, who is recovering from three torn ligaments in his right knee. The website www.profootballtalk.com has reported that the Vikings were seeking a second-round draft pick, but indications are that they are pushing for additional compensation.

Meanwhile, the Vikings haven't tipped their hand on several key issues to be resolved before free agency starts. They're not believed to have held substantive discussions with either of their key free agents, receiver Koren Robinson and cornerback Brian Williams, and it is unclear whether they will use their franchise or transition tags on either player.

The deadline to designate franchise or transition players is Thursday. They probably can avoid the issue with Robinson, with whom they hold a contractual right of first refusal, but it's not out of the question that they could use it on Williams.

The franchise tag for cornerbacks is $5.893 million, while the transition figure is $4.774 million.

Colts sign 16 free agents; 6 headed for NFL Europe - Indy Star

The Indianapolis Colts announced Wednesday the signing of 16 free agents since the end of the 2005 season and have allocated six of those players to NFL Europe.

Those players assigned overseas are defensive end Justin Brown, wide receiver Roscoe Crosby, linebacker Nick Hannah, tight end Joey Hawkins, defensive back Eric Hill and center Mike Johnson.
The other additions are former Purdue wide receiver John Standeford, kicker Dave Rayner, kicker Shane Andrus, wide receiver Montiese Culton, offensive lineman Bo Lacy, defensive back Chris Laskowski, defensive back Brandon Lynch, defensive end Gabe Nyenhuis, running back Vashon Pearson and wide receiver Dan Sheldon.

In the Light of The Super Bowl, Detroit May Close Its Zoo

Money shortfalls and a less-than-resourceful state legislature spell doom for the Detroit Zoo. But considering that this problem was in extense as the Super Bowl was being planned, why didn't someone think to make a plan to help save it using the NFL's marque game as a backdrop?

This is a signal of how far The Motor City has to go to regain its past glory. It's got to find a way to solve this problem.

No zoo? Fans roar back in disbelief

Fighting back: Lawmaker working to reinstate state aid

February 21, 2006

The fight to keep the Detroit Zoo open became, well, a zoo on Monday as the Detroit City Council defended itself against a firestorm of angry complaints from city and suburban residents who don't want to see the more than 75-year-old institution closed.
At the same time, other city and zoo officials scrambled to come up with a compromise to keep the zoo open even as they moved ahead with plans to shutter it by late spring.
An Oakland County state legislator whose district includes the zoo in Royal Oak, said Monday that she was planning to plead the zoo's case in Lansing today in an effort to save $4 million in state aid to fund it.
State Sen. Shirley Johnson, R-Royal Oak, who proposed the aid, said she planned to call the governor's office and the state's budget director this morning to find a way to reinstate the aid, which had hinged on the city turning over daily operations of the facility to the nonprofit Detroit Zoological Society by Saturday.

San Diego Chargers QB Drew Brees Pushed to Free Agency

The Oakland Raiders should make a run at this guy just to teach the Chargers a lesson.

SAN DIEGO (From the Seattle Post Intelligencer) -- The Chargers are primed to let quarterback Drew Brees test free agency.

San Diego general manager A. J. Smith said Monday the team has declined to designate Brees as its franchise or transition player. The deadline for designating a player with either tag is Thursday.

If the Chargers had slapped either of the tags on Brees, he would be guaranteed nearly $10 million in a one-year salary next season. That's too rich for the Chargers, considering Brees was injured in the team's season finale, tearing the labrum in his throwing shoulder while trying to recover a fumble.

Brees underwent surgery last month and is expected to begin throwing in May. But whether he is at full strength by the Chargers' July training camp isn't known.

Brees and the Chargers are talking about a multiyear pact. But so far, no agreement has been reached and on March 3, Brees can negotiate with any team.

"Our proposals have not been acceptable at this point and time, but we will continue to talk," Smith said. "Drew Brees wants to be here, we want him to be here. Drew wants a long-term contract, we want him to have a long-term contract. We are working on that and continue to work on it."

But the Chargers are confident they have enough depth to reach the playoffs even if Brees walks, according to Smith. Behind Brees is Philip Rivers, the 2004 draft's fourth overall pick, and veteran A.J. Feeley.
Brees, who's entering his sixth season, resurrected his career in 2004. He was selected to his first Pro Bowl after throwing for 27 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. He was also the NFL Comeback Player of the Year while directing the Chargers to the AFC West title and their first playoff appearance since 1995.

Last year, Brees had another solid season, throwing for a career-high 3,576 yards, the sixth-most in team history. He had 24 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions.

San Diego's initial proposal for a long-term deal was shot down by Brees and his representative, Tom Condon.

Brees or Condon weren't available for comment.

Smith said a deal could still be struck, but only if the other party accepts the club's value it has placed on Brees.

The sticking point appears to be the guaranteed money in the pact's first year, with the remainder of the compensation being tied to incentives reached by Brees, if his shoulder is right. Smith said once Brees hits the open market - if he does - the price the Chargers are willing to pay will not fluctuate.

"We already have a value set in our mind; that is not a factor at all," said Smith, who is 25-24 in his three years as general manager. "We know exactly what we do and we have a way of doing our business."

And while Smith said he wants Brees back, it was evident in his remarks that he's cautiously optimistic Rivers can do the job.

Rivers was a standout at North Carolina State where his 13,484 passing yards were second at the time in NCAA history. Rivers has thrown just 30 passes in the NFL.

"I really like Philip Rivers very much, except he has never played in the National Football League, except to dabble in it and that is always a concern for all of us," Smith said. "Anytime a collegiate player enters the National Football League, it starts all over again. There are first-round busts and seventh-rounders that go to (the Pro Bowl) every year."

Ricky Williams' Character Lynch Mob Strikes Again

They can't just leave Miami Dolphins Running Back Ricky Williams alone. Last year it was his use of pot, followed by jokes about it. Now, someone has leaked information that he may have failed a drug test. All of this while Williams is away in India. It may cause him to be suspended for one year from the NFL and in violation of its substance abuse policy.

The question I have is who leaked the information, and why. Also, the report is that he didn't take pot this time; so what was it? Where was he?

The NFL should take steps to suspend anyone who was found to leak the information. The Ricky Williams Lynch Mob should give this a rest and get better jobs.

I hope this turns out to be nothing at all. I think a bit too much of this is being made just to tear down someone. It's not funny at all.

But Ricky and his agent Leigh Steinberg should file an appeal.