The offseason chill period is officially over
Twenty-one NFL teams - including the Texans - begin "Phase One" of their respective offseason workout programs today. This is a two-week deal in which only strength and conditioning coaches are allowed to work with the players in attendance. No helmets allowed; not even passing drills that involve covered receivers. Just "dead ball" activities. These workouts are voluntary, but carry huge incentives for some. Especially Darrelle Revis:
The largest of the offseason workout bonuses belong to current New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, who can earn $1 million by participating in around 80 percent of his team's workouts. The second-largest workout bonus belongs to Washington Redskins outside linebacker Brian Orakpo [NOTE: I took the liberty to spell "Orakpo" correctly], who is due $884,000. Jets left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson rounds out the Top 3 with his $750,000 workout bonus.
According to salary data obtained by Shutdown Corner, there are several other players due to make a mere $500,000 in workout bonuses this offseason: Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Mark Sanchez, Nick Mangold, Thomas Davis, Tyson Jackson, Mario Williams, Kevin Williams, Justin Smith and Patrick Willis. Frank Gore and Donald Penn are in line for a cool $400,000 each. And there are nearly 200 other players scheduled to make at least $100,000.
My favorite is that all players get $175 in per diem for showing up. I wonder if they take a penny when they're buying gum, too.
The Ultimate Compliment
There are few compliments an NFL player can receive that outrank something like this:
"When you're drafting, you're thinking, ‘Who's going to block [J.J.] Watt the next 10 years?' " [Titans head coach Mike Munchak] said recently. "It used to be that the other teams in the division had to worry about [Indianapolis quarterback] Peyton Manning, but now we have to figure out how we're going to disrupt Watt a little bit."
The only thing Munchak doesn't seem to realize is that with the exception of taking Kareem Jackson in the first round in 2010, the Texans were not spending many high round picks on beefing up their secondary in an effort to stop Peyton Manning. And it showed.
The Ultimate Diss
This isn't exactly news, but only made its way into my inbox/consciousness over the weekend, and so it will now be passed on to you. Turns out not everyone is as enamored with J.J. Watt as every man, woman and child in Houston, Texas.
In ranking the best Opening Day ceremonial first pitch throwers, this blogger had some great observations:
1. Don't critique teams who bring cancer survivors, families of slain police officers, anyone related to Newtown, CT or Medal of Honor recipients onto the mound.
2. Teams that forgo the ceremonial first pitch of the entire season are insane.
3. So are teams that ask retiring bankers to throw the first pitch.
Other than that, he's just looking to criticize as a way to fill space. Some points, such as the the Marlins getting Jeff Conine and Mike Lowell to do a relay throw from left field to third base to home being weird, are spot on. Others, like assuming the entire world hates Don Zimmer because he's fat, are not. (If anything, people love Don Zimmer because he is so fat.) Homeboy is also just a little harsh when it comes to his take on Watt's appearance at the Opening Day win over the Rangers:
I've got nothing against J.J. Watt. The man's a beast. But come on, Astros, you can't just hitch yourself to the Texans' rising star like that. It's your big rebrand year, you've got cute new orange jerseys, it's your AL coming-out party. Bring back some decrepit old legend in a Colt 45s jersey, don't just ask the big boys across the street if you can borrow one of their football players. (And then ask for J.J. Watt after Arian Foster says he's busy.) But I will say, J.J. Watt looks fucking intense delivering a pitch. The Astros should sign him and bring him out as a reliever sometime, just to see him puff up his cheeks and flare his nostrils like an enraged yak with every pitch.
The guy obviously does not know Houston if he thinks the Astros would have asked Arian Foster first.
Around the NFL
Hope you're satisfied with knowing the preseason schedule
Usually, the NFL releases the regular season schedule the week before the draft. Not this year.
"The schedule is not finalized and no release date has been determined," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement to NFL.com's Around the League on Monday.
Gruden likes ... Nassib? What?
ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said in a Monday conference call that former Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib was his top rated QB in the 2013 draft. Gruden labeled Nassib "a sleeper in this draft," impressive in his size, arm strength, athleticism and ability to learn quickly.
Obviously the Texans will be taking Nassib now in the first round.
Big Ben Happy
Emmanuel Sanders is staying in Pittsburgh. The wide receiver's agent announced Sunday that the team had matched the one-year, $2.5 million offer sheet Sanders signed from the New England Patriots last week. With Mike Wallace already gone, the move prevents Pittsburgh from showing up to camp without two of its top three leading receivers from 2012. And not to mention Heath Miller is rehabbing from ACL surgery.
Tim Tebow = Annoying
Tim Tebow arriving at the first day of the Jets' offseason workout program before Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez? That should definitely make the coaching staff consider playing him this year.
James Harrison May Face Texans in Playoffs Next Year
Former Pittsburgh steelers linebacker James Harrison is reportedly close to working out a deal to start fresh in Cincinnati. Adam Schefter reported Sunday that the Bengals feel Harrison is "more signable" than free agent Karlos Dansby.
There are definitely Texans fans out there that would love to sign Dansby for 2013. The reported reason the Bengals don't want the 32-year-old linebacker indicates his asking price is still too high for the limited cap space Houston has to work with.
Major Headaches at Riddell Headquarters These Days
It's been a pretty bad stretch these last few days for Riddell, the nation's largest helmet manufacturer. On Friday, Brett Favre recounted during a radio interview in Dallas what it was like to get knocked out cold for the first time in his NFL career. It happened on the last play of his NFL career, while he was wearing a Riddell helmet.
"My last play, actually the only time in my career when I was completely out. Ten to 15 seconds," Favre said. "Miserable night, the Dome had collapsed, our season had gone from bad to worse. I didn't have to play in the game, wanted to. I remember telling myself in pregame, 'You're an idiot. What do you stand to gain in this?' But I thought, 'I'll survive this game, I'll be fine.'
"(It was) one of the most minor hits I've ever (taken). The guy didn't even hit me; he pushed me. I threw the ball, and the field of course was solid ice, it was like concrete. He pushed me, I slip, fall, nothing hurt, I hit the left side of my head, and the next thing I remember, I was snoring as our trainer is kind of shaking me, saying, 'Are you OK?' I look at the footage, even though it wasn't long, there was that 10-15 second period where I was asleep. I remember looking at our trainer Suge (Eric Sugarman) and saying, 'Suge, what are the Bears doing here?' He's like, 'Ah, you come over here with me, buddy.' As I started figuring it out as I was getting to the sidelines, I thought, 'Now, if there was ever a time where the writing is on the wall, this is it.'
"It may be a little too later for the cumulative damage that you've done. Now it's probably a little too late to say, 'OK, now is when I'm going to save my body.' Went in, took a shower, got some hot cocoa, got a hot dog and said, 'That's it. I'm going to watch the next two or three (games).'"
It's a good thing Riddell isn't a publicly traded company, because what happened the following day in a Colorado courtroom would be the official signal to short its stock if it were. The precedent set by the ruling a jury in Las Animas County District Court handed down over the weekend could have serious ramifications for future concussion lawsuits. Read this post written by a man much smarter than I for a much better take.
The jury awarded $11.5 million to the family of a former high school football player who suffered permanent brain damage from a concussion incurred during a 2008 practice. It found that Riddell did not include sufficient warning labels on its helmets regarding the risk of concussion at that time, and should therefore be liable for 27 percent of the damages that Rhett Ridolfi will now receive. Ridolfi was wearing a Riddell helmet when he suffered the injury, and was not immediately taken to a hospital. He is now paralyzed on his left side.
This is one of the two lawyers who won the case.
Frank "The Strong Arm" Azar, a personal injury attorney based in Aurora, Colorado, said in an interview Sunday that due to the length of the appeals process, Ridolfi won't be getting any money soon. The Strong Arm says he will seek to convince a judge to rule Riddell responsible for 100 percent of the $11.5 million, which smells as much like snake oil as the production quality of his commercials. Azar did correctly point out, though, that the real danger for the company lies in the precedent the ruling will set for thousands of future plaintiffs. Azar has claimed to represent between 10-20 former NFL players with similar complaints against Riddell, meaning the quality of commercials may improve due to the looming infusion of cash into his firm's coffers.