So far, the NFL and its players are meeting every day in negotiations on a new labor agreement and they are keeping things quiet. That’s no fun for those of us in the seats watching the action, but we think it sure is better for the process.
So we move on to other matters around the world of football.
FOOTBALL FUTURE FOR THUM IN ST. LOUIS?
I ran into former Chiefs VP Tim Connolly at the Super Bowl. He’s now the VP of sales and marketing for the Packers and will finally get the championship ring he’s sought for so long, going back to his arrival in the NFL with the Chiefs in 1989.
We got to talking about the changes that have come down around the Chiefs in the last two years, with a total upheaval of the front office and personnel departments with firings, resignations and retirements.
“If somebody was starting an expansion team in the league, they could go to Kansas City and round up all those people and start off at square one with a great operation,” Connolly said.
Expansion does not appear to be anything on the immediate horizon for the NFL, but there’s an opening in the league that’s perfect for one of those former Chiefs employee, president Denny Thum.
Last week it became known that John Shaw once president, now senior adviser/owners representative is leaving the St. Louis Rams. Shaw was a leader and executive with the franchise for 31 years. But with Stan Kroenke taking over 69 percent ownership in the Rams, Shaw is stepping away from the front office.
What plan Kroenke has to fill Shaw’s role remains unknown. But Thum is the perfect man to step into that role with the Rams. During his 40-plus years with the Chiefs, Thum handled all aspects of the organization from top to bottom. There would be no time wasted in getting up to speed. He’s respected all around the league for how he’s handled himself over the years. Plus, he’s a St. Louis native and his father and other family still lives in the Looo. There are a lot of pieces that fit together in this picture.
There are not many folks being hired around the NFL these days as the teams wait for the completion of a labor agreement and prepare for an expected lockout of the players. Once the smoke clears, Kroenke’s man is sitting in Kansas City waiting for his next opportunity.
TAMPERING GOES BEYOND NEWSPAPER COMMENTS
The Detroit Lions did not lose a draft choice on tampering charges because Gunther Cunningham said publicly he’d like to grab some players released by the Chiefs when that expected last year.
Gun’s comments to a Detroit newspaper did not help matters when NFL Commissioner was presented with all the details by his staff after the Chiefs filed tampering charges against the Lions last fall. But you don’t lose a seventh-round draft choice and then swap spots in the fifth round because of a slip of the tongue. It’s a wrist slap and maybe a small contribution to the Commissioner’s fund.
But, you do lose picks if you talk with a restricted free agent after the open signing period. That’s apparently what happened in the case of FS Jarrad Page (right) last spring and summer. Page wanted out of K.C., but when the Chiefs gave him a tender offer as a restricted free agent, he was stuck. Detroit was looking for safeties and Cunningham always had a high opinion of Page and his abilities. It seemed an obvious match.
But the Lions were not willing to trade for Page. They never made an offer to the Chiefs on a deal. All that Pioli/Haley & Co. wanted was a seventh-round pick, but they would have made the deal for a ham sandwich if it was offered. It never was. The lions were counting on Page being released.
Page ended up sitting out the entire off-season program and training camp, before finally signing his tender offer and reporting in early September. He was traded the next day to New England, for a seventh-round choice in 2012.
Somewhere in all that time, somebody from the Lions talked to Page or his brother/agent when they were not allowed to have that conversation. This is not unusual in the NFL. What is unusual is the other team in the equation finding out about the contact.
Whether the person talking in Detroit was the former Chiefs/current Lions defensive coordinator is not something that has come out yet. But Goodell must have had enough proof to make his decision on the discipline.
Both teams can appeal the league penalties. The Lions can complain it’s too harsh, the Chiefs could appeal because they don’t feel it was punishment enough. More than likely, they will both move on.
THE 2011 NFL DRAFT ROLE CALL FOR THE CHIEFS
The discipline against the Lions and the swap of positions in the fifth round has now given the Chiefs six choices in the top 150 spots.
While the league has not released the official order of all draft picks, right now it looks like this for the Chiefs:
- Round One: pick No. 21.
- Round Two: pick No. 23, overall selection No. 55.
- Round Three: pick No. 22, overall selection No. 86.
- Round Four: pick No. 21, overall selection No. 117.
- Round Five: picks No. 9 and 20, overall selections No. 137 and 148.
- Round Six: pick No. 22, overall selection 183.
- Round Seven: pick No. 21, overall selection 213.
The extra fifth-round pick comes courtesy of Tampa Bay in the trade last fall of DE Alex Magee. Those overall selection numbers will change when the league awards compensatory picks.
HALL OF FAMER PASSES ON
If Ollie Matson had come along 50, or even 40 years later, he would be a huge star in pro football and maybe even more than that. Physically gifted, handsome and intelligent, Matson passed away on Friday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 80 years old.
Matson’s career as an NFL running back last over a span of 15 years (1952, 1954-62, 64-66). He was rookie of the year in ’52 and was selected seven times as All-Pro and six times to the Pro Bowl, where he was the MVP of the game in 1956. He missed the ’53 season while serving in the military.
After the 1958 season, Matson was traded from the Chicago Cardinals to the Los Angeles Rams for nine players. He later went on and played for Detroit and Philadelphia. A graduate of the University of San Francisco where he earned a degree in history, Matson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1976. Joe Kuharich coached Matson in college and in the NFL and called him “the best all-around football player I’ve seen or coached.” That’s quite a statement given the fact that Kuharich’s coaching career included 19 seasons in colleges and the NFL.
In the 1952 Summer Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland, he won silver and bronze as part of a relay team and in the 400 meters.
Over 171 games in the NFL, Matson ran 1,170 times for 5,173 yards and 40 TD runs. He caught 222 passes for 3,285 yards and 23 TD catches. He also had nine touchdowns on punt and kickoff returns, including 100, 101 and 105-yard scoring returns.
Ollie Matson was one of the pillars of the NFL and in his time, probably made no more than $50,000 in any one season.
ANOTHER CASUALITY OF HEAD TRAUMA CAUSED BY FOOTBALL?
A Notre Dame graduate, a Super Bowl starting safety, an NFL Man of the Year for his charity work, a member of the board of trustees at his alma mater, a man with intelligence and personality killed himself Thursday night.
Former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson was found at his home in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida with a self-inflicted gunshot in the chest. He was 50 years old.
Although there had been setbacks in his life over recent years – divorce, foreclosure on a home – there had been no indication of depression deep enough to cause Duerson to take his own life. In a text message to his family sent just before his death, Duerson asked that his brain be donated for study. He emphasized that he wanted the left side of his brain checked out in particular.
Duerson’s family has made arrangements for his brain to be taken to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine. They have done significant research on the brains of football players, discovering some of the results from repeated head trauma.
He played in 160 games over 11 seasons with the Bears, Giants and Cardinals. Duerson had 442 total tackles, 20 interceptions and 16 sacks. He was part of the Bears team that won the Super Bowl after the 1985 season.
Here was an intelligent man, who obviously felt his grasp on life was fading away and sensed he might know the reason why. Was he too proud to seek help for his declining mental health? Did he seek help and decide his situation was too far gone for medical intervention? Or was he so far gone he had only a faint grasp on reality? What happened in the last days of Duerson’s life should frighten every former NFL player.
Hopefully, when the owners and players are fighting over the billions of dollars involved in the game, they will remember Dave Duerson and those that went before him, football warriors struck down by the after-effects of playing the game they loved.
NFL PERSONNEL FILE FOR FEBRUARY 18-19-20
- BEARS – signed P Richmond McGee.
- COLTS – released S Bob Sanders.
- EAGLES – signed LB Rashad Jeanty.
- LIONS – signed S Erik Coleman.
- PACKERS – named Zac Woodfin assistant strength and conditioning coach.
- RAMS – released S O.J. Atogwe.
- SAINTS – promoted Tony Oden to secondary coach.
- STEELERS – placed the franchise player designation on LB LaMarr Woodley.
- TEXANS – released S Eugene Wilson, WR Andra Davis, LB Isaiah Greenhouse, LB Darnell Bing and DT DeMario Pressley.
- TITANS – named Jim Skipper as running backs coach.