Category Archives: NFL

Quick Slant: Bob Kraft Speaks His Mind

By Kevin York

Slant: Kraft: Pats Wanted Welker Back


I love this. Far too often, owners, players, agents, really everyone in sports, gives the safe answer. They give the answer that their PR guy told them to use. The non-answer. The non-offensive, non-confrontational, non-bulletin board answer. Kraft didn’t in this case. People (Wes Welker’s agents) were trying to make it seem like the Pats wanted to move on from their relationship with the receiver. With Kraft’s blunt and direct statements, he made it perfectly clear that wasn’t the case.

Not only did he clarify the situation, he stated that the Patriots actually offered Welker more money than the Broncos did (who Welker signed with). So why didn’t he sign with New England? Kraft felt Welker’s agents misrepresented his market value to their client, leading him to believe he could get more on the open market than he actually could. They gave the Patriots a salary number that was higher than New England was able to go. Sensing they wouldn’t be able to get Welker, the Pats signed Danny Amendola as an alternative. One day later, Welker called Kraft and New England head coach Bill Belichik to inform them of Denver’s offer. According to Kraft, had Welker placed the call one day earlier, they would’ve been able to re-sign him since they were originally offering more money. With Amendola signed, they couldn’t.

I love that Kraft went into such detail on the timeline to pursue Welker and Amendola. I wish more teams were this transparent.

One day after Kraft made his statements, Welker’s agents responded, almost as direct. We’re not exactly sure what happened now, but I love the fire both sides are spewing.

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at

Quick Slant: Seahawks Continue to Improve

(Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas - USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas – USA TODAY Sports)

By Kevin York

Slant: Sources say Seahawks and Cliff Avril agree on deal


Yesterday I wrote about the first moves by the 49ers and Seahawks in the 2013 battle for the NFC West. I decided Seattle won round one with Percy Harvin being a more valuable addition for them than Anquan Boldin is for San Francisco.

Last night, news broke that Seattle did even more to improve its team, specifically an already potent defense. According to sources (you know, sources…) the Seahawks agreed to a deal to bring former stud Detroit defensive end Cliff Avril to the Pacific Northwest. Detroit franchised Avril once and we rarely see young defenders with high sack totals like him reach the open market. Avirl will join Bruce Irvin, Chris Clemons and Red Bryant, three very good defensive ends. An already scary defense just got scarier.

What have the Niners done to counter? Well, they’ve let defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga and tight end Delanie Walker walk away and sign with new teams – Philadelphia and Tennessee, respectively. That’s it. No new signings since Boldin.

Trent Baalke, Jim Harbaugh, as I said yesterday, we’re waiting for your move. And we’re still waiting…

So far, Seattle – 2, San Francisco – 0

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at

Quick Slant: Sports are Most Definitely a Business

By Kevin York

Slant: Jermichael Finley won’t take pay cut & Tom Brady takes a pay cut


Remember when professional athletes played their game because they loved it? When money wasn’t at the forefront of their decisions, trumping everything else, including winning? You’re not alone in having a foggy memory about this; I’m having a tough time remembering those days too.

Most athletes these days care about their pay day, just making as much money as they can. It doesn’t matter who they play for. It doesn’t even matter if they win. They just want to be shown the money. Jermichael Finley isn’t a culprit as much as he is the norm, just the latest in a long line of athletes that are in it for themselves.

But who are we to criticize that? Isn’t that how we all approach our careers on a smaller, much less lucrative scale? To a certain degree, yes, although there are exceptions. I’m not in a day job where I’m making as much as I possibly can. To me, there are other things more important than money. I think many others fall into this category as well. Us normal people have a number of other things that we weigh with jobs, including insurance, benefits, work environment and co-workers. The comparison of us as normal people to a Jermichael Finley won’t work because too many normal people really are doing what they can to scrape by for their families. When a pro athlete makes a comment about needing to support his family it makes me want to gag. When you’re making millions you’re able to support your family. Unless you have no idea how to manage money (granted, some definitely do not…) those few extra million don’t make that much of a difference in the life you give your wife/girlfriend/baby mama and kids.

Tom Brady is a throwback. He took less money so that New England can continue to build a winning team around him. I applaud that. We need more professional athletes like him. However, I’m smart enough to see we won’t see many Brady’s in sports anymore. Sports have most definitely become a business. Athletes play to make money, not necessarily to win. Is there anything wrong wit that? Not entirely, it’s just the reality of sports today.

As a Packer fan, don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Jermichael. You’re far too expensive for the production you’ve given us the last few years.

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
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Why the 49ers Should Let Dashon Goldson Walk

By Kevin York

Photo Credit: (Brant Ward/The San Francisco Chronicle)

Photo Credit: (Brant Ward/The San Francisco Chronicle)

Yesterday Ryan wrote about the situation involving Alex Smith and his future with the 49ers. Today I want to touch on a decision San Francisco needs to make that’s even more important than the Smith one – the decision on Dashon Goldson’s future. He’s a free agent and they need to decide his status with the team.

I know a lot of San Francisco fans look at Goldson and say, you’ve gotta resign that guy. He’s coming off two straight Pro Bowl seasons, after all. I urge those fans to take a closer look at the situation though.

Continue reading

Quick Slant: The Future of Alex Smith

By Ryan Lack

Slant: Trade of 49ers QB Alex Smith ‘effectively complete,’ report says


Word on the street is a deal is all but done for Alex Smith to be traded from the San Francisco 49ers to an as of now unnamed team. The two leading candidates appear to be the Kansas City Chiefs and the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the Browns and Cardinals could be in the mix, as well, though we expect the latter two to be rumor.

As a lifelong 49er fan and, up until recently, a full-time supporter of Alex Smith, my emotions around this news are a bit conflicted. On the one hand, I’m really happy for the guy because, let’s be honest, he really did get screwed over by Harbaugh. It doesn’t matter if you agreed with the decision to replace Smith with Kaepernick or not; the way Harbaugh went about it was 100% wrong. Was his talent assessment right? It sure as hell appears like it was, as we watched Kaepernick take-over a good 49ers team, make them great, and lead them to their first NFC Championship win and Super Bowl appearance since 1994. The latter may not have worked out the way all of us Niner fans wanted, but it was clear Harbaugh made the right move.

In the lead-up to the quarterback switch, Smith had never looked better. He was leading the league in completion percentage and had convincingly moved himself out of that “game manager” bucket into “game-changer.” He was accurate, smart, good on the run, and simply didn’t make the same mistakes we were all used to watching him make earlier in his career when he went through three head coaches and seven offense coordinators in as many years. He finally had stability.

It is these attributes he will carry with him wherever he goes next and I wish him well, though I’ll add – don’t let the door hit ya on the way out, bro.

While Smith played the good soldier role very, very well throughout the season and for most of the 49ers run through the NFC playoffs, it was during the two-week lead-up to the Super Bowl where he lost me. It didn’t really shock anyone that Smith would want out after what happened to him, especially after having to sit idly by while his team took its season a step further than it did the year prior when he was under center, but the timing made him look immature and selfish, two things he definitely did not appear to be before. It was a great disappointment that he would allow something like that to leak, even if it wasn’t him that said it, the week of the Super Bowl. Talk about distraction.

So, with that, I bid Alex Smith adieu. Frankly, I don’t give a damn where he lands because he’s going to have another new head coach, another new offense to learn, and a whole set of skill position players to gel with before he can start climbing the mountain he nearly reached the top of two seasons ago. A lot of people have said the 49ers aren’t likely to send him to the Arizona Cardinals, a team in dire need of stability at the quarterback position, given the in-division rivalry. I say, why not? Bring on Alex Smith. I’d love to watch the Smith brothers rip him a new one twice a year. It would bring some closure to this Niner fan’s conflicted heart about a once beloved 49er figure.

By Ryan Lack
Follow Ryan on Twitter at @ryanlack
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NFL Offseason Analysis: Dallas Cowboys

By Jeff Seiler

Webster’s Dictionary – Mediocre: of moderate or low quality, value, ability, or performance; ordinary, so-so

I’m a suffering Cowboys fan. It’s been an entirely too long era of mediocrity. They are the very definition of average. Two straight 8-8 seasons, 128-128 in their last 16 seasons. In that time, the Boys have gone 1-6 in the playoffs, and also had 6 losing seasons.

It’s obvious that this team needs help. It’s in continual disarray and gets far too much pub for its performance on the field. Let’s look at a position by position outlook of this team.


Love him or Loathe him, Jerry Jones is the Owner and General Manager. He’s paid enough money to earn that right, like it or not. He will always be in that position and he’s not firing himself. That’s just the reality of it. He’s a redneck Al Davis. Let’s move on from this subject because it really doesn’t warrant debating.

Salary Cap:

The Cowboys are roughly $20 million over the salary cap as it stands. They have to get down to an estimated $121 million by March 12th. Cut candidates include WR Miles Austin, OT Doug Free, FB Lawrence Vickers, DT Jay Ratliff, LB Dan Conner, and S Gerald Sensabaugh. Players whose contracts need to get restructured are QB Tony Romo, TE Jason Witten, and CB Brandon Carr.


There is a long list of needs the Cowboys have for both 2013 and beyond. On offense they include: backup quarterback, backup running back, possible fullback, slot receiver (for some reason these all seem to be white), backup tight end, and 2-3 offensive linemen. On defense the Cowboys are switching from the 3-4 defense back to a 4-3 under Monte Kiffin and employing the Tampa 2 defense. You can look at defensive line, linebacker, and safety as areas of need. Luckily, like the offense, it could be mostly backups and depth, something the Cowboys severing lacked in 2012.


This could be a blog post on its own, the saga of Tony Romo and the future of the QB position of the Dallas Cowboys. Tony Romo will be back next year at a friendlier cap hit. I’m not a Romo-sexual but there’s not a better option right now. I do believe that this is the year, with Romo 32 years old, that you have to draft a QB in hopes of developing him. If I am Jerry Jones I take a mid round flyer on EJ Manuel or Zac Dysert in the draft.

Running Back:

I don’t really see this as a need for 2013 even though the Cowboys rushed for their fewest yards in a season in team history. I like what a healthy Demarco Murray, Phillip Tanner, and Lance Dunbar bring to the table. Felix Jones is more than likely gone as an unrestricted free agent.

Wide Receiver:

Dez Bryant, for all the trouble he has off the field, had a very productive 2012 football season with 92 receptions, almost 1,400 yards and 12 TDs. And thus far this off season, we haven’t heard from him. Miles Austin’s productivity really took a hit last year but still almost hit 1,000 yards and should be back with a restructured deal. I’d love for the Cowboys to follow the Wayne Crebret, Wes Welker, Danny Amendola footsteps and find a slot receiver (again, why are they all white?) to take some pressure off Bryant and Jason Witten.

Tight End:

Witten is every bit as good as he was 5 years ago and his backups fit that role perfectly, let’s move on.

Offensive Line:

This is the sore spot of the Cowboys. Injuries and poor performance have plagued this team for years now and is the reason the running game was so bad and you always see Romo running for his life. I’d devote a first round pick and two additional picks just to this position, while also signing a free agent here.

Defensive Line:

The Cowboys actually set up pretty well for a move to the 4-3 defense. Ware just takes a hand down to move to defensive end and Ratliff and Lissemore line up inside at the tackle spots. The other end spot won’t go to Spencer as he will command more money in free agency than the Cowboys could give him. Victor Butler, Tyrone Crawford, and Jason Hatcher will all battle for playing time.


Sean Lee and Bruce Carter will return from injuries to form a very solid linebacking core, where the Cowboys could use a second or third round pick on an outside linebacker for the 4-3.


Carr and Claiborne lead the corners with Scandrick coming back. Mike Jenkins is an unrestricted free agent and wants a starting job. I don’t see Sensabaugh back, so Church and McCray could be the leading candidates for starting jobs.


I see the Cowboys as a very similar team to that we’ve seen the last few years, horribly inconsistent. This team has a lot of talent at its starting positions, outside of offensive line. The main problem is depth. When a player comes out, or worse, gets injured, the backups aren’t in a position to succeed. Brian Schaffering, Alex Albright, Rob Callaway, Kyle Wilbur, Brady Poppinga, Michael Coe, Sterling Moore, Charlie Peprah and Eric Frampton. These are all names of guys who played way too much for the Cowboys last year and that’s just for the defense. Sadly, none were on the roster when the season began.

It’s going to be a tough season for the Boys. They won’t be players in free agency because they have too much money tied up in other contracts. I see them lucky to get back to 8-8 in 2013 and a playoff spot too far away.

By Jeff Seiler

The Most Disliked Teams in America

By Kevin York

Two weeks ago I started a series on the Most Disliked entities in sports. I began this little series of posts questioning Forbes original article listing the ten most disliked athletes in America. Since I didn’t agree with all the athletes on their list, I revised it and published my own. I followed that up with a post on the most disliked coaches in America, which I decided on by crowdsourcing answers from my Facebook friends and input from the other Couchletes.

I considered doing a post on the most disliked owners in America, but decided there aren’t really enough that are universally disliked right now. There’s Jerry Jones and….Jerry Jones. You could make an argument for a few others, but I realized most of the owners that we as a general public don’t like aren’t with us anymore. Guys like Al Davis and George Steinbrenner. So instead of going the owner route, I’m just going straight to the final installment, the most disliked teams in America.

In deciding the teams that belong on this list, I decided not to ask for other opinions. Not because I think I’m that smart, but because these disliked teams all really stood out. I think most would agree with the ones on this list – except maybe the fans of these teams.

In reviewing this list, I noticed that the teams on it are all popular with large, dedicated fan bases. That’s part of what makes them so disliked. You’re not going to find a team like the Kansas City Royals or the Milwaukee Bucks on this list. To be disliked as a team, there a few things you need to have:

  • Success: At some point in the team’s history, they have to have seen success. It doesn’t even have to have been recent success, just prolonged.
  • Personalities: There are very few examples of teams that become disliked for reasons other than the people on the field and sidelines. We as the audience connect with people – the players, the coaches, sometimes the owners. By the same token, we develop a dislike for people, not logos or colors or cities.
  • Good fan base: It’s not always the personalities on the field that irritate us. Sometimes it’s the obnoxious people in the stands that we grow to hate.

All ten teams that I list below have all three of these characteristics. So without further ado, here they are. The ten most disliked teams in America, at least from my perspective.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Boston Red Sox

Dallas Cowboys

Duke Blue Devils

Los Angeles Lakers

Miami Heat

New England Patriots

New York Yankees

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Ohio State Buckeyes

So what teams did I miss?

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at

The Under-Appreciation of Frank Gore

Photo Credit: (Hoa Nguyen/

Photo Credit: (Hoa Nguyen/

By Ryan Lack

Now that we’re a few weeks out from the greatest disappointment of the football season, for a Niner fan anyway, I felt it was time to reflect on the under-appreciated, undervalued, and certainly overlooked greatness of Frank Gore.

After a standout freshman year at the University of Miami, Gore tore the ACL in his left knee during spring ball of his sophomore season, and then the ACL in right knee the following year. While he came back strong from each injury, I’m sure he wasn’t sure what to think entering the NFL draft. Optimism about going high, even though he knew he was worth it, probably wasn’t one of those emotions.

Gore entered the league in 2005 as a third-round choice out of Miami, being passed over largely, if not entirely, because of his injury history. Who was drafted ahead of him? It’s a great list that includes guys like Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson, Cadillac Williams, J.J. Arrington, and Eric Shelton. Yeah, I have no idea who Eric Shelton is either. And a few that went after him included the likes of Vernand Morency, Ryan Moats, Maurice Clarett(!!) Marion Barber III, and Brandon Jacobs.

Someone tell me how many of those guys are still on active rosters? Anyone? Ronnie Brown (3rd down back for the Chargers), Cedric Benson (Current free agent formerly of the Packers in 2012).

Yep. That’s it. Two guys still on active rosters following this last season.

What is most telling about the called names ahead and behind Gore is how few of those guys went on to do anything meaningful, let alone whether they’re still in the league. You can argue Cedric Benson has had the best career among those preceding Gore’s selection, but that’s not really saying much. And the guys after him, well, the only two that did anything at all are Barber and Jacobs, with the latter serving as the No. 3 or 4 running back on the San Francisco 49ers roster in 2012 behind the starter, Gore.

From a recent Jim Trotter piece on there was this:

His primary goal used to be finishing with more career rushing yards than the running backs selected ahead of him in 2005 … He not only has done that — his 8,839 yards are 2,822 more than Benson — but his six seasons of at least 1,000 yards rushing are equal to the combined total of the aforementioned five.

As fans and pundits, we typically first judge a player on his draft class. Who did he come out with? How does he stack up? It’s clear from his draft class that not only has Gore been the most durable and healthiest, he’s been the most productive of any of these guys. If they’re good, and Gore is, we then expand that to the broader archives of running back greats.

So where does he stack up with them? Let’s start with other active greats.

Since entering the league in 2005 all the man has done is produce. He simply gets it done. In his eight seasons he’s failed to rush for 1,000 yards just once, this while a member of a team and an offense that ranked near the bottom in many key statistical categories and cycled through offensive coordinators like a woman would through dresses when preparing for a first date. It was a disaster, but through it all Gore was a workhorse. His 8,839 yards rushing and 51 TDs over the last seven seasons (good for the franchise’s all-time records in each category for a RB) trail only Adrian Peterson (8,849 yards and 76 TDs) and Steven Jackson (10,135 yards and 56 TDs) – the former achieving these stats in one year fewer than Gore and the latter in one additional. Gore achieved this while missing 12 regular season games of 128 possible; so almost a full season missed.

The general consensus seems to be, if you become a 10,000-yard rusher for your career the likelihood of receiving a call from the Hall is much greater than if you don’t. Clearly Frank will get to that number, but how much longer does he have? At the age of 29 he’s supposed to be running out steam, at least based on running back standards, but the strange thing many people noticed in 2012 was that Frank typically started slow and got stronger as the game went on. With the addition of LaMichael James splitting backfield duties with Gore, he has the potential to have 3, 4, hell, maybe even five more years if he wants it and barring injury.

Let’s assume he plays four more years and is able to rush for 1,000+ in each of them. If he can do that, even without that final fourth year, that would put him right on par with the career rushing yards of Hall of Famers like Marcus Allen, Marshall Faulk, Jim Brown, Tony Dorsett, and Erick Dickerson.

So what am I getting at?

Well, we all see it. The “A” players get the big money. They get all the press. They get the endorsements. They get the reality shows, if they want them. They seemingly get all of the goods, however we’re defining “goods” in this moment. But where’s Frank? Frank’s in San Francisco working his ass off so he can post another 1,000-yard season. Frank’s off not getting arrested for doing something stupid.

Maybe he doesn’t want all of the attention that comes with being a star running back. Maybe he doesn’t even view himself in that way. But I’ll tell you what, with the current success of the 49ers, almost the same exact roster and coaching staff coming back for another year, the future is bright. If he doesn’t want the attention, that’s fine by me, because I know he’ll garner plenty of it on the field as he rips through defenses for another 1,200-yard season like he did this year during the Niner’s run to the Super Bowl.

Shakespeare once said, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

We all know where Frank Gore falls here. It’s time to start acknowledging.

By Ryan Lack
Follow Ryan on Twitter at @ryanlack
You can contact Ryan at

Has the NFL peaked?

By Josh Orum

Now that the NFL season is over and we have a small break until the draft, it’s a good time to sit back and reflect on the game’s larger challenge: how to deal with its concussion problem.

If you follow sports news, you’ve probably heard something – or a lot – about this issue. In summary, it turns out that repeated concussions lead to a brain condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE. The symptoms evolve slowly, and don’t show up for a while. They basically they start with psychosis, and end with a combination of Parkinson’s and Alzheimers type symptoms.

On the Atlantic Monthly, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about whether football players can truly assess the risks that come from playing football. A lot of people have responded to the whole football-is-surprisingly-dangerous idea by saying that football players know the risks and have the personal responsibility to decide on their own.

This avoids the larger point, which is that football players – in fact, no one – knew the true dangers of the sport. Even today, we still don’t know the extent of those dangers.

Many sports are dangerous, and participants must take that into account when they decide whether to play or not. Participants in every sport – baseball, basketball, race car driving, big wave surfing, climbing, cycling, skiing – know the risks because they are clear. Injuries happen on the field and on the track. People get hurt, and even die in full view.

And that’s what’s different about the brain injuries occurring in football. They aren’t clear. They’re revealed years after they’ve occurred. And they aren’t just something that players can “deal with” like a knee injury or bad hip – these are ticking time bombs that change them as people and kill them.

Even knowing this, I’m sure people will still want to play football.  It’s not a decision I’d make, but I don’t have a problem with others making it.

The NFL faces several problems:

  • Given this knowledge, there will almost certainly be a decline in kids playing. This won’t directly effect the NFL – it’s not like there will be a shortage of players, but if their kids aren’t playing, it will have less hold on communities, and become a smaller part of the national conversation.
  • Greater understanding of the true damage the sport does will turn some people away, people who can stomach physical damage but have a harder time accepting brain damage.
  • There will be intense pressure to introduce things that improve player safety. I don’t expect these to actually improve safety that much (the hits that are the real culprits aren’t the big hits that make highlight reels, but the small happen on the line and occur every down), but they will change the nature of the game.
  • Finally, and most potentially most damaging, it appears the NFL knew about the problem and hid the information (the same problem the tobacco companies faced). I wouldn’t be surprised if this has a legal and financial impact on the NFL.

In the end, I think the NFL is currently at the apogee of its power and popularity. I’d be surprised to see it exist in the same form in a decade or two. I expect it to face significant declines in popularity, and the style of play to change dramatically.

It’s unfortunate because American-style football gives us some of the best combinations of strategic and tactical brilliance viewable today.

So what changes are needed? I expect that the NFL will focus on rule changes that lead to fewer “big” hits. As I wrote earlier, these won’t really make a difference because it’s not the big hits, but the routine hits that matter, but they may also negatively change the nature of the game.

On the other hand, there are two changes the NFL could implement that would not only reduce the likelihood of CTE but also improve the quality of the game:

  • Make smaller helmets. Though they purportedly exist to protect, helmets lead to bigger and harder hits. If you’re using your head as a welcome without a helmet, you’ll immediately feel the impact. If you have a big helmet, you’re more likely to use it.
  • Dramatically increase the size of teams. What if a coach was able to completely shift out the offensive and defensive lines every down? Not only would linemen have a chance to recover a bit, but they’d stay fresher throughout the game, and have less wear and tear throughout the season.

What do you think about this?

By Josh Orum
You can contact Josh at