Monday, May 14, 2007

Goodell to NFL coaches: All access

Neil Best

Goodell to NFL coaches: All access
It's all but official now: Bill Parcells will not come out of retirement - ever.

Not if he reads a pointedly written memo in which the NFL updated media guidelines, tightening injury report rules, mandating regular access to assistants, liberalizing offseason access and much more.

Yikes! Call it Revenge of the Nerds MMVII.

The rules will most affect members of the paranoid Parcells/Bill Belichick coaching tree, two of whom happen to guide our local squads.

Tom Coughlin and Eric Mangini no longer will be permitted to bind and gag assistants when reporters are around. (Each had allowed severely limited access to assistants in the past; Coughlin was planning to open things up a bit in 2007 even before the directive.)

Fans and reporters can thank new commissioner Roger Goodell, a former Jets public relations intern who gets the concept that the news media is a conduit to paying customers, and that assistants can offer insights head coaches won't or can't.

The refined policy came out of meetings with the writers' association and was presented at the owners' meetings. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the commissioner "wanted more consistency and everybody operating at the same high level."

Any complaints from head coaches? "No," Aiello said.

Even Belichick? "No."

One rule seems aimed squarely at the Jets. It says a "credible" depth chart must be provided starting no later than the week of the preseason opener: "Listing players at each position on the depth chart in alphabetical order is prohibited."

Tommy Rowlands and Cole Konrad - Help wanted: Football background not required

Help wanted: Football background not required
Tom Rock

Football, apparently, is not a prerequisite for those trying to make the Jets this spring. Of the 30 players invited on a tryout basis to the three-day rookie minicamp, three of them did not play football in college and two of them have not played in nearly a decade.

NCAA heavyweight wrestling champions Tommy Rowlands from Ohio State and Cole Konrad from Minnesota, along with basketball player Jesse Pellot-Rosa from Virginia Commonwealth, found themselves on a football field for the first time in years yesterday. It's part of the Jets' no-stone-unturned philosophy when it comes to searching for talent.

"Whether it be wrestlers, basketball players, track athletes, Australian Rules football players, whoever it is, if they have core characteristics, good work ethic, intelligence, the things that we look for, then it's our job to teach them and their job to take advantage of the opportunity," Jets coach Eric Mangini said.

Pellot-Rosa, trying out as a wide receiver, was giving grief to his new teammates who had Duke in their NCAA bracket in March (VCU beat Duke in the first round). He last played football in prep school but was recruited by Tennessee, Alabama and Virginia.

The wrestlers, though, have not suited up for football since eighth or ninth grade. In fact, suiting up may be a problem; both admitted they aren't sure where all of the pads fit on a football uniform. Rowlands said his mind was on training for the world championship qualifiers in June when the Jets called three days ago to invite him for a tryout. "I was shocked," he said. "I thought it was a prank call."

Rowlands and Konrad, roommates this weekend, often have battled each other on the mat, most recently at the national championships in Las Vegas in April. Rowlands won to take the No. 1 ranking. Rowlands is trying out as an outside linebacker; Konrad is trying out as an offensive lineman even though he had to be instructed on how to take a three-point stance.

"It's hard to feel natural. I don't have much of a background," said Konrad, the NCAA champ in 2006 and 2007 and winner of 76 straight matches. "They're mainly seeing if I have potential."