Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Warren Sapp On NFL Network

NFL Network's Terrell Davis (former Broncos star running back) interviews -- or is it cuts up with -- Oakland Raiders Defensive Tackle Warren Sapp.

Warren Sapp talks about the Oakland Raiders under new head coach Art Shell and the Raiders' top draft pick, Michael Huff.

NFL Network Live - Sprint / Samsung Phone Commercial

Watch the video
I met a Sprint rep at the NFL Draft who asked if I would help the company promote its new Sprint / Samsung NFL Network Phone. You can pick up NFL Network telecasts live. So I tried it and I've got to admit it's a really cool phone. It really does show live NFL Network telecasts, like this one of the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XI.

This video was originally shared on by zennie2005 with a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Cool Phone - Sprint / Samsung NFL Network Phone Commercial

I met a Sprint rep at the NFL Draft who asked if I would help the company promote its new Sprint / Samsung NFL Network Phone. You can pick up NFL Network telecasts live. So I tried it and I've got to admit it's a really cool phone. It does show live NFL N

This video was originally shared on by zennie2005 with a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Maurice Clarett Suffers Meltdown - Arrested With An SUV Full Of Weapons - AP News

When I read the following story, my first thought was just how much agony Maurice Clarett's Mom must be going through to see her only child go through a very public collapse of character. What some who try out for the NFL forget is that -- if they get a good education and show that they're good people, and maintain relationships -- they could wind up with an NFL front office job. But all that's too late for Maurice -- unless he cleans up and right now. He needs to go back to school.

Police use Mace on Clarett, arrest him after chase
Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Maurice Clarett was charged with carrying a concealed weapon after a highway chase early Wednesday that ended with police using Mace on the former Ohio State running back and finding four loaded guns in his sport utility vehicle, police said.

Officers used Mace to subdue Clarett after a stun gun was ineffective because the former Fiesta Bowl star was wearing a bullet-resistant vest, Sgt. Michael Woods said.

"It took several officers to get him handcuffed," Woods said. "Even after he was placed in the paddy wagon, he was still kicking at the doors and being a problem for the officers."

The complaint police filed when they charged him with carrying a concealed weapon without permit said he had a 9 mm handgun under his legs in the driver's seat of an SUV.

Police also charged him with failing to maintain a continuous lane, which they said was for Clarett making a U-turn on the freeway. More charges are possible, Woods said.

Clarett did not speak to police who tried to interview him at the station before he was moved to the Franklin County Jail.

Wearing tan jail-issue clothes, he talked on the telephone in the booking area, separated from reporters by a window. He was to be held at the jail at least until an arraignment Thursday morning, unless his attorneys work out an agreement for his release, police said.

Clarett made an illegal U-turn on the city's east side and failed to stop when officers, in a cruiser with lights flashing, tried to pull him over, Woods said.

Police said they pursued Clarett onto the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70, one of the city's main freeways, when he darted across the median and began heading west. Clarett drove over a spike strip that was placed on the highway, flattening the driver's side tires of the SUV, Woods said. A police helicopter in the area helped track the vehicle.

Clarett exited the highway and pulled into a restaurant parking lot about 10 minutes after police say they saw him make the U-turn. Officers removed him from the SUV after he failed to obey numerous orders to exit the vehicle, Woods said.

After Clarett was placed in a police van, officers discovered a loaded rifle and three loaded handguns in the front of his vehicle, Woods said.

"We don't have any idea why he had them or what, if anything, he was going to do with them," Woods said. Police don't know where Clarett got the guns or where he was headed or coming from in the SUV. Federal authorities plan to trace the guns' ownership.

A half-full bottle of vodka was found in the SUV, but no breath test was administered because police had no indication that Clarett was intoxicated, Woods said.

The 22-year-old Clarett is currently awaiting trial on two counts of aggravated robbery, four counts of robbery and one count of carrying a concealed weapon in a separate case. Authorities said he was identified by witnesses as the person who flashed a gun and robbed two people of a cell phone in an alley behind the Opium Lounge in Columbus in the early hours of Jan. 1.

One of Clarett's attorneys in that case, Nick Mango, said he was going to the jail to see Clarett to "make sure he's OK emotionally and mentally." Clarett has not asked Mango to represent him on the new charges.

"I'm shocked as everyone else is about the allegation," Mango said. "Obviously, he's a young man with a lot of weight on his shoulders."

The home address Clarett gave police was his mother's house in Youngstown. A message seeking comment was left at the home.

Clarett scored the winning touchdown in the second overtime of the Fiesta Bowl against Miami to lead Ohio State to the 2002 national championship, the school's first since 1968. But that was the last game the freshman played for Ohio State.

He sat out the 2003 season after being charged with misdemeanor falsification on a police report, then dropped out of school. He sued to be included in the 2004 NFL draft and lost in court.

A surprise third-round pick in the 2005 draft, he was cut by the Denver Broncos during the preseason.

Clarett plans to play for the Mahoning Valley Hitmen, one of five teams in the Eastern Indoor Football League. The team, based in Clarett's hometown of Youngstown, is to begin play in January.

Hitmen coach and owner Jim Terry said that there was no indication that anything was wrong when he spoke with Clarett by cell phone early Wednesday morning about the team's upcoming tryouts. The call was disconnected around 1 a.m. and Terry missed Clarett's second call about an hour and a half later, which would have been near the time when police say they saw Clarett make a U-turn.

The arrest will not affect Clarett's status with the team, Terry said.

"We gave him a chance and now we'll wait to see what happens," he said. "I've seen far worse situations than this."

Clarett has not signed a contract with the team yet, pending a fire marshal's inspection of the team's home field. Clarett's proposed contract includes attendance incentives which cannot be finalized until the fire marshal determines the capacity of the team's arena.

Roger Goodell - A Washington Post Profile

The Washington Post presented a four-webpage profile on new NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, which we've linked to here and presented below in case the link's terminated.

Son of Former Congressman Worked His Way Up the Ladder
By Les Carpenter and Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, August 9, 2006

For two decades, the money machine has churned, spitting out billions for the men and women who own the NFL's 32 teams. Professional football didn't simply blossom in Paul Tagliabue's reign as commissioner, it became a multimedia behemoth, lavished with the richest television deals in sports, unblemished by labor strife and blessed with lucrative sponsorships.

And the man partly responsible for much of this wealth is Roger Goodell, the son of a former senator from New York, who has run the league by Tagliabue's side in relative anonymity.

"His fingerprints are all over every transaction the league has entered into the last 10 years," said Dean Bonham, the president of the Colorado-based Bonham Group, which has negotiated for and against the NFL in marketing deals.

Said Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, "On all the major decisions, whatever they were, Roger has been on the leading edge of those issues."

Apparently satisfied with the opulence of their league, the owners elected Goodell commissioner yesterday, making him only the third man to hold the job in the last 45 years.

Then again, it would have been hard for them to say no. Over the last two decades, the 47-year-old maneuvered his way through countless negotiations with television networks, foreign countries, gigantic corporations, hostile municipalities and union executives to push the NFL to its position as easily the most successful sports league in the country.

"We're continuing something that has gone very well," New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said after the announcement. "Roger said he got his MBA from Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue. That's pretty good."

Goodell's star rose in the mid-1990s. He was still in his early 30s when he was placed in charge of the league's marketing arms -- NFL Properties and NFL Trust. He was a key negotiator in generally peaceful bargaining sessions with the NFL Players Association, ran the expansion process in the 1990s that created millions of dollars for each existing team and secured the name "Browns" for the new team in Cleveland.

"The NFL is not as successful as it is now without Roger Goodell," said John Wildhack, ESPN's senior vice president for programming whose network will carry the league's showcase event, "Monday Night Football," starting this fall.

TV Deals Drew Notice

Success has eluded him only a few times. Goodell's most public role over the past decade has been as the league's point man in talks on returning the NFL to the Los Angeles area. But the nation's second-largest media market remains without a team despite talks with various Southern California cities. Goodell also has been largely responsible for establishing the NFL overseas, but the league has been unable to match the global penetration of some other sports, most notably the NBA in China.

Goodell's biggest triumph might be the work he did to nurture negotiations in 1998 that culminated in the league's astounding eight-year, $17.5 billion deal with ABC, ESPN, Fox and CBS. Two years ago, he was also heavily involved in the negotiations that added NBC and will eventually bring the league another $8 billion.

Many in the NFL believe Goodell proved himself so well in these talks that Tagliabue began grooming him several years ago as his replacement. Bowlen said he could tell in recent seasons that Goodell came to want to become commissioner.

"It's unbelievable to me," Goodell said yesterday. "It's a life dream. To be able to follow your passion and end up as commissioner of the NFL is unbelievable."

In many ways, he had been preparing for this role since he came to the league as a public relations intern in 1982, a year after his graduation, magna cum laude in economics, from Washington & Jefferson. Goodell has told co-workers he remembers sleeping with his football as a child and he was a good enough high school player to draw interest from some small colleges. But his playing days were ended by a knee injury at Washington & Jefferson and he decided instead to direct his passion toward the business side of the sport.

A year after he arrived as an NFL intern, he was sent to the New York Jets, who had two resignations in their public relations office just before the start of the season and needed help.

"Right away, you knew Roger was one of the people that the more you gave him to do, the more he got done," said Frank Ramos, the Jets' public relations director at the time. "There was never any job beneath him. Every day he got along very well with people. He came up with some ideas that would make things better for us with the media."

Lessons From His Father

Goodell was born and raised in Jamestown, N.Y., one of five sons of Charles E. Goodell, who was a Republican congressman for most of the 1960s, spending his teenage years in Washington and later Bronxville, N.Y. The elder Goodell was understated. His car was a beat-up, yellow Volkswagen bug. In Congress, he teamed with a young Donald Rumsfeld, Robert Griffin, Albert Quie and Robert Ellsworth to turn a Michigan representative named Gerald Ford into the party's congressional leader.

In 1968, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller of New York appointed Goodell to the Senate after Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. The choice backfired on Rockefeller when Goodell went to Cornell University to meet with a group of African-American students who were holding a sit-in. The students blistered the senator with pointed questions about the Vietnam War in an exchange that shocked Goodell so much that upon returning to Washington, he introduced legislation that would stop funds for the war.

To Rockefeller and the White House of Richard M. Nixon, this move was seen as almost mutinous, so much so that Goodell had to work proactively to stave off a Rockefeller motion to have him removed from the Senate at the state's Republican convention. Ultimately, his war stand cost him and two years after being named to the seat, he was defeated in the 1970 election by James Buckley, who ran as a member of the Conservative Party.

He became known as one of the first voices of Republican dissent to the war. But Charles E. Goodell was also a gifted baseball player who had once been pursued by the Brooklyn Dodgers. During his Senate days, he was the Republicans' catcher in the annual congressional baseball games played at RFK Stadium.

"I just loved him," said George Mitrovich, who was on Goodell's staff and keeps a picture of Charles Goodell on the wall of his home in San Diego. "He was a kind, tolerant person."

When Ford became president in 1974, he named Goodell chairman of the clemency board to consider the cases of those charged with evading service in the Vietnam war.

Asked what Roger Goodell might have taken from his father, Mitrovich, who still speaks to all of Charles Goodell's sons, said the senator was a funny man whose meetings often broke up with an exchange of jokes that had him laughing so hard his whole body convulsed.

"I see [Roger] having the same sense of humor and a similar sense of the absurd," Mitrovich said. "In Roger, I see Charlie's intelligence. I see his feel, his kindness. No one who knew Charlie Goodell ever thought of him as anything other than an extremely kind person. There is a certain vibrancy to Roger's personality that his father had."

It wasn't surprising then that one of the first things Roger Goodell did as commissioner was joke about getting the news from Rooney.

"Dan Rooney came upstairs to my room to tell me," Goodell said. "I was not watching the NFL Network. I was doing some work, trying to be distracted. Fortunately I'd just put my pants on."

Mitrovich worked on the effort to bring two Super Bowls to San Diego and thus has seen Tagliabue operate. He found the outgoing commissioner to be lifeless and arrogant and was offended when Tagliabue drolly declared the city's Qualcomm Stadium unfit for any further Super Bowls.

As for the difference between Tagliabue and Roger Goodell?

"Roger actually has a personality!" he exclaimed.

This comes up a lot in conversations about the younger Goodell. He is widely seen as significantly more personable than the stiff and aloof Tagliabue, who allowed his droll sense of humor to show publicly only in the final months of his 17-year tenure.

"I think it might be that Paul came from a legal background" as the league's outside counsel before becoming commissioner, Ramos said. "There are a lot of people that when they talk to the media, lawyers advise them what to say. I think that affects the approach Paul takes. I suspect Roger has learned something from his father who was in politics."

A Confidant for Owners

Where Tagliabue often kept a distance from owners after hours at league meetings, Goodell worked the hotel bar, shaking hands and answering questions. When golf outings were arranged, Goodell often went, not Tagliabue. When owners had something they wanted to discuss with Tagliabue, they often called Goodell, though some, like Bowlen, considered this more of an accessibility issue than one of detachment. As commissioner, Tagliabue was pulled in too many directions, the Broncos owner figures, leaving less time for the owners. Nevertheless, many owners and executives say they may have talked to Goodell three times a week, while they spoke to Tagliabue maybe two times a month.

If nothing else, this closeness has given him a connection to the owners that probably no one else in the league has ever had. Bowlen said he always felt whatever his opinion was on an issue that Goodell would convey it to Tagliabue. During the last bargaining session with the Players Association, union head Gene Upshaw used Goodell to relay messages to the commissioner by e-mailing or text messaging Goodell on his BlackBerry.

Those who have done business with him say Goodell is pleasant and honest but also a firm negotiator. They notice, however, that he listens intently to proposals, rarely rejecting something out of hand. John Wildhack remembers suggesting the idea of a Thursday night season-opening game during a dinner in 2000. Rather than brush the idea off as Wildhack worried he might, Goodell pondered the concept -- which would have been a dramatic change for the NFL. Two years later, the season opened on a Thursday night and has done so ever since.

Then again, like so many others who have come to do business with the NFL over the years, Wildhack had a close bond with Goodell. For back in 1989, it was Goodell -- then a young marketing executive with the league -- who had to lead Wildhack and ESPN through the logistical disaster of televising the league's first exhibition game in Tokyo.

"He was tremendous to work with," Wildhack said.

At times, Goodell might have been too good at making the league money. In the book, "America's Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation" by Michel MacCambridge, an anonymous owner complained that Goodell was too obsessed with profits, grumbling that the new commissioner "uses words like 'monetize' and 'commoditize.' "

Issues Loom on the Horizon

But despite all the success Tagliabue and Goodell had together, there are more serious challenges looming. A common thought around the league is that Tagliabue got out at just the right time, with his legacy cemented and won't have to face the issues that will confront Goodell.

Global expansion would seem to be the most difficult one. At some point, analysts say, if the NFL is going to continue to make money at the rate it has done so far, it will have to make a breakthrough in other countries. As the NBA continues to increase its foothold in China's booming economy in preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the NFL's boldest overseas move, NFL Europe, remains a six-team league, and only one franchise plays outside Germany after Barcelona and Glasgow were moved at least partly because of poor attendance.

But while top European soccer franchises such as Manchester United and Barcelona have found new, very lucrative revenue streams and created new fan bases by selling merchandise, television packages and other items outside their countries, NFL teams have not had comparable success, largely because the game isn't played in nearly as many countries.

The league must also figure out how much it wants to be in the television business. Goodell, along with other league executives, has decided that the NFL can make more money by producing its own broadcasts -- both at the league and team level. But the league's NFL Network is only a few years old and will make its first forays into carrying its own game telecasts this year, so there is no barometer to say how successful it can be with television.

Still, nothing is murkier than the NFL's labor future. Tagliabue's last significant act -- the labor agreement reached in the spring -- might have been his biggest. Unlike the previous labor negotiations, he had to stem an uprising from several owners of small-market teams who felt themselves being priced out by wealthier clubs such as the Washington Redskins. It might have been the NFL's most delicate negotiation in nearly two decades, but Tagliabue brought the owners together until all but two voted for the deal.

In six years, the contract will expire and pulling everyone together again might be almost impossible. And if football is suddenly faced with the labor problems that have plagued baseball, basketball and hockey, the money machine might grind to a halt.

"It's nothing short of extraordinary to get the owners to come together on a 30 to 2 vote," Bonham said. "It's very difficult to point to Roger Goodell and say, 'You didn't do it, Paul did it.' It's always the guy with the name on the door that has to negotiate. Will he be able to wield the same diplomacy and clout that Paul Tagliabue had? My guess is he will, but you never know."

The owners are betting their wealth that he will.

Staff writer Mark Maske reported from Northbrook, Ill.

Stephen Colbert On Joe Liberman - Video

Just before the Tuesday primary, Stephen Colbert invited Joe Liberman on his show -- and Liberman refused. This set the tone for this segment by Colbert. Some highlights:

1) After hosting Ned Lamont, Colbert refers to Liberman as "one of his favorite Republican Democrats."
2) Colbert's saving a place for Liberman "as much as Jewish families set a place for Elijah at the table, should he care to stop by."

Liberman Loses To Lamont - And Campaign Blames Liberal Bloggers For Crashing Website

Senator Joe Liberman lost to anti-war candidate Ned Lamont in the Democratic Party primary, as this CNN report explains:

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Sen. Joseph Lieberman conceded to anti-war cable executive Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary for the Connecticut Senate nomination Tuesday night but vowed to run as an "independent Democrat" this fall.

With 95 percent of the precincts reporting, Lamont led Lieberman 52 percent to 48 percent, according to The Associated Press.

Lieberman, who was former Vice President Al Gore's running mate in 2000, is seeking a fourth Senate term. Lamont, a former Greenwich city councilman, is running his first statewide campaign.

Lamont rode to victory on a tide of opposition to the Iraq war -- and what his supporters blasted as Lieberman's unwavering support of it.

After telling his backers that he had called Lamont to congratulate him on his victory, Lieberman said, "We've just finished the first half and the Lamont team is ahead, but, in the second half, our team -- Team Connecticut -- is going to surge forward to victory in November"

Lamont, speaking to his supporters during a victory celebration after Lieberman conceded, urged Lieberman not to run.

"I want to thank Sen. Lieberman for his campaign," Lamont said. "I want to thank him for the dignity and decency in which he has represented our state and our country, for many, many years.

On top of this loss, Liberman can't seem to get it in his head tht his support for the war cost him the election. He so can't believe it that he's running again in the fall -- or at least is going to try to.

And on top of this act of hubris, Joe Liberman's campaign is blaming liberal bloggers for the collapse of their website. This video segment featuring Markos from explains the issue.