The conversation about having fewer than four preseason games for NFL teams (although the Hall of Fame game gave the Cardinals five this year) has been ongoing for a number of years. Commissioner Roger Goodell recently brought it up again. There are logistics to evaluate, whether it be three or two games. Obviously, fewer of them would hurt most the fringe guys trying to get themselves some decent tape so that if they were released by their current team someone else could see what they were worth.
But the other question is about training camp itself. Currently, teams are allowed to go to camp 15 days before their first preseason game. Would that still be the case if there were fewer games? Would they make it longer, with an extra long stretch of practice before the first game? (Vets would love that.) One way around things is to schedule more joint practices with other teams. That would provide some controlled scrimmage situations. The hope in the end is that there are less injuries, in a sport where injuries are inevitable.
But in an environment where coaches already lament less time to prepare their teams, how it plays out is something to watch.
Tags: preseason, Roger Goodell, training camp
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Cardinals president Michael Bidwill is at the owners meetings in Florida this week, and Tuesday morning talked about a variety of topics — including the new “All Or Nothing” eight-episode series coming on Amazon that will chronicle the Cards’ 2015 season from the draft through the NFC Championship. Bidwill, appearing on the “Doug and Wolf” Show on Arizona Sports 98.7, said it was just about a year ago when he started a dialogue with NFL Films to capture many of the behind-the-scenes parts of the team “many people have never seen before.”
“I think it’s going to be very good for the Cardinals and the players and coaches,” Bidwill said. “We’re going to be able to tell some great stories.”
Bidwill said he believes the series won’t just be on the premium Amazon Prime but “potentially in front of their pay wall,” which would open up the availability to many more people. Ultimately that’s what Bidwill would like to broaden the fan base and “continue to improve our footprint” as a franchise.
As for the comparison’s to HBO’s training camp documentary “Hard Knocks,” Bidwill said “it’s different and I think it’s better. I wasn’t interested in doing “Hard Knocks” but I thought there were elements we could do in a completely different way.”
— The owners will vote on various potential rule changes/new rules on Wednesday. One is the concept of player ejections with two unsportsmanlike fouls or some variation there (Bidwill noted rules, if passed, can often morph during discussions). “It should be the rare exception that any of our players or personnel on the field are acting in an unsportsmanlike manner, and if it happens a second time, I’m all in favor of getting them off the field completely and sending a strong message,” Bidwill said. “Because we have millions of kids watching us. … National Football League football is about playing hard within the rules, within the white lines and doing it in sportsmanlike fashion.”
— On the concept of commissioner Roger Goodell retaining the power to discipline players — something the NFL Players Association would like to change: “At a very high level, it’s about the NFL brand,” Bidwill said. “We don’t want to outsource that ultimate decision about discipline to a third party. That’s just my opinion. I feel like no one has more reputationally to lose than we do, and we don’t want our commissioner to lose that power.”
— Bidwill didn’t say the Cardinals are on tap to play any of the international games on the horizon — there have been reports of potential future games in China and Germany — but was clearly behind the concept. “When you think about the global brand, the NFL is an important American brand and everyone wants to continue to expand their presence in the global marketplace,” Bidwill said. “We want to continue to bring live games to the international scene, that’s how many global sports grow.”
— Not surprisingly, he was bullish on the Cardinals’ offseason moves, especially the trade for pass rusher Chandler Jones.
“We all recognize what happened in the Super Bowl,” Bidwill said. “Steve and his team did a great job of crafting a trade that is true win-win with the New England Patriots.”
Tags: All or Nothing, Michael Bidwill, Roger Goodell
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The NFL commissioner was talking Cardinals this morning, during an appearance on “Doug and Wolf” on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. At one point, he was asked about the status of suspended linebacker Daryl Washington, who has not been reinstated from his at-least-a-year suspension that was handed down in late May of 2014.
Goodell didn’t have details, nor was he going to. He did say that he was “aware that his status is unchanged.”
“The substance abuse policy is something that is collectively bargained with the players association as far as the CBA,” Goodell said. “A very strong tenet of that is the fact is the program remains confidential and circumstances surrounding it stay confidential between the various partners. We have professionals that work on it, they make determinations with individuals within the program and they make recommendations back to the NFLPA and NFL.
“I am not directly involved in that but I am aware his status is unchanged and will remain so until the professionals are prepared to move forward.”
While details aren’t forthcoming, it is telling that the NFLPA is looped in to all this and has not publicly said anything — in particular, gone to bat for Washington asking why he is still suspended. Neither has Washington’s agent. That’s probably not a good sign.
— Goodell also said the league “couldn’t be more pleased” with how the Super Bowl went last season and that the league looks forward to coming back. Another Super Bowl seems inevitable. Remember the one caveat to getting a Super Bowl at some point, officially, is that a host team has to give up a home game to play internationally. (That may be inevitable anyway. With the NFL’s international push, I’m guessing every team will eventually be tapped to give up a home game at some point.)
Tags: Daryl Washington, Roger Goodell, Super Bowl
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The Cardinals’ regular-season game in Mexico a decade ago was one of a kind.
But maybe it won’t always be.
The NFL owners approved a resolution Wednesday to extend the league’s ability to play games that count outside the United States through the 2025 season. Games previously have been in the United Kingdom, but there is a good chance the league will also look elsewhere. There was already talk of a Pro Bowl in Brazil, so perhaps a game could go there. And Mexico remains an obvious possibility, although the league will want to make sure whatever stadium teams play in is up to NFL standards. (When I was at Estadio Azteca in 2005, there were some spots that definitely needed upgrades. Not sure how things stand now.)
“We think it’s time to expand our International Series to other countries and respond to the growing interest in our game not only in the UK, but elsewhere around the world,” commissioner Roger Goodell said.
Next year’s international games, plus the other countries who could eventually host games, will be named later this fall.
What does this mean for the Cardinals? I’m sure Michael Bidwill would like to have his team in an international game. The catch, as there are with every team, is that someone has to give up a home game to play away. With 98 straight sellouts, I’m sure the Cardinals would rather make an out-of-country trip, wherever it might be, a road game and keep their home dates. Also to consider is the recent rule that franchises that are awarded Super Bowls eventually have to give up a home game to play internationally. Whenever the Cardinals and Arizona bid for another Super Bowl — and that will happen — the Cards will be on the hook there.
Tags: International Series, Mexico, Michael Bidwill, NFL, Roger Goodell
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The NFL universe came to town in late January when the Pro Bowl and then the Super Bowl were played at University of Phoenix Stadium. On a much lesser scale, it’s being repeated over the next few days. The Cardinals’ Tempe complex hosts the NFL’s Super Regional combine Saturday, which is the best of the best of five previous regional combines over the last six weeks — the players taking part are draft-eligible guys who were not invited to the main Scouting combine in Indianapolis. Sunday the facility will host the first NFL Veterans combine, which is around 100 NFL vets who are essentially working through a mass workout for all the teams.
The reason the Cards are playing host is because the teams were already going to be in town for the spring owners meetings, which go from Monday through Wednesday at the Arizona Biltmore. Among the highlights of the owners meetings will be work from the competition committee to potentially tweak/change rules, commissioner Roger Goodell’s press conference Wednesday, and the coaches’ breakfasts on Tuesday (AFC) and Wednesday (NFC) when each coach talks for an hour in an informal setting.
We’ll have coverage of the Vet combine and the meetings, including whatever Bruce Arians might have to say Wednesday.
— Finally, a quick congrats to my cohort, Kyle Odegard, who is getting married to Kelsey Perry Saturday and will not be covering any of these events. I’m on my own for the week.
Tags: owners meetings, Roger Goodell, Veterans combine
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The court case for linebacker Daryl Washington has finally come to a conclusion, almost a year after his initial arrest. Washington, who entered a plea last month after being charged with assault on the mother of his child, was sentenced Wednesday morning to one year of supervised probation for one aggravated assault charge. That means no jail time, although that is not a surprise given his plea deal. But now comes the second part of this equation. The NFL has been monitoring the case, of course, but it waits until it is fully played out before handing out any of its own punishment. That time has arrived.
How long it takes the NFL to make a decision on whether or not to suspend Washington — who served an unrelated four-game suspension to begin last season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy — is up in the air. Anything that would happen would come in the form of a regular-season ban, so there is time. Given the way commissioner Roger Goodell has handled things in the personal conduct area, a suspension would not be a surprise. Washington is officially charged with a felony, but if he performs well during the probation — essentially does everything the court asks — it will be reduced to a misdemeanor. What that means for the NFL is in question; a felony isn’t a good thing, obviously, but does the possible reduction play into the decision?
The Cardinals weathered the Washington-is-missing storm last year (going 2-2 in his absence.) We’ll see later today when the schedule comes out — 5 p.m. Arizona time, be sure to check azcardinals.com then! — what the Cards face in September. Last year, of course, the Cards had Karlos Dansby upon which to fall back without Washington. Dansby is gone. There is Kevin Minter, and Lorenzo Alexander, Kenny Demens and JoJo Dickson, and maybe a draft pick. Washington was already a key to this defense. Any absence will have an impact.
UPDATE: Coach Bruce Arians briefly addressed Washington this morning at the Cardinals’ charity golf tournament. “We’ve known this was coming for a long time,” Arians said. “Daryl’s known it. Whatever the judge decides is right, in this case. And we’ll live with it. We’ll wait and see how it goes.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Daryl Washington, Karlos Dansby, Kenny Demens, Kevin Minter, Lorenzo Alexander, Roger Goodell
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There has been a lot of conversation of late about changes to the game (thanks to commissioner Roger Goodell talking about such things). It has included discussion about eliminating the kicked extra point. Now, I get that the extra point is basically automatic. Goodell said the change would just mean touchdowns would just be worth seven points — unless a team chose to go for two, which would make the touchdown worth six. Sure, more than 99 percent of extra points are made these days. But if it is so easy, why not just back the attempt up? Instead of 19 yards, make it, for example, 30 yards? Then it is still in the game and the difficulty is raised. If that’s not hard enough, back it up some more. I’ll also say this: The way most teams make their extra points makes a miss crushing a lot of the time.
So much of this goes back to the way kicking has evolved. Many think the goalposts should be narrowed or shorter field goals should be worth less points because of the high percentage by which kickers can make field goals now. To think, Jay Feely made 30 of 36 field goals this season — and many fans were ready to run him out of town because of it. That isn’t excusing Feely, because his misses ultimately were crucial to the Cards in a couple of games. But making better than 83 percent of your field goals over a season once would have made Feely the best in the NFL.
Back to the extra point. I won’t be surprised if it is taken out of the game, just like I won’t be surprised when/if the kickoff return is removed. There is a safety aspect to this too, and I understand that. If that is the reason you want it out, OK. If the reason it’s abolished is because it is boring, I don’t really understand that. Tweaking it somehow seems more reasonable.
Tags: Jay Feely, Roger Goodell, rules
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The NFL owners meetings are underway at the Arizona Biltmore for the next few days, with the power brokers of the league coming together to talk about various topics and the league’s media stalking them on sidewalks and lobbies. From a Cardinals’ perspective, the last three owners meetings to come to town have coincided with two coach hires (Arians this year, Whisenhunt in 2007) and the splashy Emmitt Smith signing in 2003.
Comissioner Roger Goodell will have a press conference today, but we’ll see if there is more local news beyond that. I know the question keeps coming up — over and over — about Josh Cribbs, and there is again another report out of Cleveland today that Cribbs and the Cardinals are talking. To have it termed that he will “possibly” sign does leave the door wide open for nothing to go down. I don’t see the Cards taking on Cribbs unless it was totally on their terms. They don’t need a receiver per se, although I am sure they could fit Cribbs in in a role similar to LaRod Stephens-Howling if they wanted. At this point, when it’s done — if it’s done — is when it’s done.
And for those who still wonder, Rey Maualuga re-signed with the Bengals today. His door closed in Arizona once they signed Jasper Brinkley.
Tags: Josh Cribbs, owners meetings, Rey Maualuga, Roger Goodell
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With the Super Bowl a couple of weeks away, the NFL announced Sunday the finalists for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, including Larry Fitzgerald. The other two finalists are Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas and Cowboys tight end Jason Witten. The NFL Man of the Year award is announced Feb. 2, the night before the Super Bowl, during a nationally televised awards show on CBS. We already knew Fitz was the Cards’ Man of the Year (with that award presented to him by team president Michael Bidwill, pictured below.)
The Cardinals’ Kurt Warner won it the year the Cardinals played in the Super Bowl. The award recognizes a player’s off-the-field community service as well his playing excellence. Finalists for the award received $5,000 for their charity of choice from NFL Charities. The winner receives a $25,000 donation.
The selection panel for the award is NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Walter Payton’s wife Connie, Pro Football Hall of Fame members Frank Gifford and Anthony Munoz, 2011 winner Matt Birk of the Ravens, and Sports Illustrated football writer Peter King.
Fitzgerald has increased his profile in charity work as his NFL career has progressed. The Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund provides funds for positive activities for kids during the summer and throughout the year, with programs in Arizona, Minneapolis (his home city) and Chicago (where his family is from). He works with the Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund, established in honor of his late mother, who passed away from breast cancer in 2003. That focuses on issues Fitz’s mother crusaded for, including HIV/AIDS education and the fight against breast cancer. Fitzgerald has also traveled the world extensively and often turned those trips in charity work, such as missions in Africa. In July, he flew to Uganda to assist President Clinton and his daughter Chelsea fit hearing aids for those in need.
Tags: Anthony Munoz, Frank Gifford, Joe Thomas, Joe Witten, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Birk, Paul Tagliabue, Roger Goodell, Walter Payton
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Born out of the constant discussion to make the NFL safer and prevent some of the dreaded concussions that have obviously become one of the league’s top topics, there has been talk about changing the kickoff rule again — this time, taking kickoffs out of the game altogether.
Certainly, that would be a drastic measure. The idea this time comes from first-year Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano. Schiano, who watched one of his Rutgers players, Eric LeGrand, become paralyzed when he was hurt on a kickoff play, devised this idea: After Team A scores, instead of a kickoff, Team A would then have the ball on its own 30-yard line (just like a kickoff now) but would be handed, essentially, a 4th-and-15 play. The team could either punt from there or go for it (which replaces the possibility of an onside kick). Fail to gain a first down would give Team B the ball wherever it ended up, just as if it had been a normal fourth down situation.
Schiano first floated the idea back in 2011 when he was still at Rutgers. It has come up again, and now NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has taken notice. Rams coach Jeff Fisher, a member of the NFL’s competition committee (as is Ken Whisenhunt), said he thinks the kickoff situation will be addressed the next time the committee meets in the offseason.
There is a lot to consider with this, and changing the kickoff doesn’t necessarily mean going with Schiano’s drastic move. The league has talked often about how the most recent kickoff changes — moving the ball up, in particular, and other tweaks — have changed kickoff returns. Injuries are down, but so are electrifying returns. Touchbacks are way up.
Instituting the “Schiano rule” would impact the rosters. Punters would become more important. Kickers a little less so, now needed to just kick field goals and extra points (although some teams, who have punters kicking off, already have this situation). If you are a return man who can’t handle catching a punt in traffic, your chances of making it to the NFL decrease (you wonder what would have happened to a rookie seventh-round pick named LaRod Stephens-Howling if the current kickoff rules had been in place in 2009.) Patrick Peterson would get more chances to take one back, that’s for sure.
From a pure entertainment standpoint, such a new rule would certainly create an interesting wrinkle, not to mention making every post-scoring play look like a safety just happened. It seems a little too drastic to me. But at this point, given the way the league is trying to get safer, the game is clearly evolving, and that’s not going to stop.
Tags: competition committee, Greg Schiano, Jeff Fisher, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Patrick Peterson, Roger Goodell, rules
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