6 Quick Hits to start your NFL work stoppage

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6 Quick Hits to start your NFL work stoppage

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.com
Welcome to the NFL Lockout, Day 1. Also known as...Saturday.1. THE OWNERS LOST MEWhen this issue was a speck on the horizon, I understood the owners' collective point. I believed they were right. The salary cap had risen from 84.5 million in 2006 before the CBA was extended to 130 million in 2009 under the new rules. With the cap shooting up like that, I understood the owners' interest in getting back to the table to tweak an agreement they hurried into back in 2006. I was OK with themopting out of the deal in the spring of 2008 - as both sides knew was very likely when the deal was signed -and I was more OK withthem backing outwhen the economy tanked in historic fashion in the fall of 2008. But they lost me in the last month. First, the truly rotten and unethical move to negotiate a TV deal that would pay them during the lockout and allow them to pocket 421 million they didn't have to share with the players if a lockout occurred. Then their evasiveness on exactly why they don't want to open their books. At the Super Bowl Robert Kraft offered up the dubious excuse that he didn't want to have his expenses shared because he didn't want someone telling him he's not paying enough to a marketing guy. Right. The half-assed participation by NFL owners in the negotiating process - deftly detailed by our Quick Slants buddy Mike Silver from Yahoo! - and their insistence on spin over substance has been stomach turning. As Drew Brees asked on Twitter Friday, "Would you trust them?" As a collective group? With their assortment of viper lawyers and mouthpieces and their talents for obfuscation? No.
2. CHECK THE NUMBERSI talked to Pete Kendall on Friday night and expect to talk to him a few more times as this lockout process goes on. The former Jet, Seahawk and Redskin (BC alum and Weymouth native, also)was there every step of the way during negotiations. Three weeks away from his family in Marshfield. That fact alone makes the NFL's claim that the NFLPA intended all along to decertify laughable.A guy like Kendall isn't going to be anyone's prop and he certainly wasn't in DC to make it seemlike he wanted to get it resolved when he knew the intention was decertification. Anyway, after the owners started flapping their arms Friday night about the deal the players walked away from, Kendall said, basically, read the fine print. The owners wanted to roll back the cap to 2007 levels. The Herald's Ian Rapoport posted this image of the NFL's proposal on Twitter. It was provided by NFLPA head De Smith. You'll see the 2011 cap was proposed to be 114 million. And while the paper says the cap in 2009 was 123 million, reports had it closer to 130 million. To get a gauge of how the owners operate, look at the benefits. In 2010, they dropped benefit payments to 15.6 million from 26.1 in 2009. And, with no cap, you can be sure their cap spending was way down as well. In other words, they saved a crapload in salary and benefits in 2010 relative to what they would have spent. And, as it stands now, they save more. 3. LEAVE JAPAN OUT OF ITI cringed every time I heard someone covering or involved with the labor staredown invoke the Japan earthquakeon Friday. Whether it was De Smith's obsequious mention of it as he entered Friday's negotiations or tsk-tsks about that tragedy putting the fight over billions into the proper perspective. Spare the maudlin tripe. It shouldn'ttake an 8.9 earthquake and a tsunami to remind everyone that this labor crapstrom pales in comparison to actual life. Professional football to the owners, the players and the people who cover it is merely a means to an end - and that end should be having the financial wherewithal to live a good and productive life. 4. GLOVES OFF WITH HEATH EVANSBoth the owners and players have been bristling for months about the "millionaires vs. billionaires" line. But efforts to paint themselves as not nearly as affluent as we perceive are a little tiring. On Friday, former Patriot and current Saint Heath Evans - a guy I get along with - went the "Most of us aren't millionaires" route. I disagreed. The gloves came off Twitter style for the next few hours. Then we patched things up. Which is good. If the Patriots re-sign him, I didn't want to have to tear a phone book in half or something and leave him a quivering puddle of terrified fullback in the corner of the locker room. 5. BRADY'S LATEST LEGACYForever more, the legal case the players are bringing against the NFL will be known as "Brady, et al vs. NFL, et al." Whether the future Hall of Fame quarterback ever strides into a courtroom and looks across as Patriots' owner Robert Kraft remains to be seen, but when this case is referred to - and depending how it goes, it may be referenced a lot - the Patriots' quarterback will be forever out front on it. 6. TICKET CRUNCHGot this email today. Hi Tom, I've got the Pats season ticket invoice in with the rest of my bills. Approximately 4700 due on 331. What are the chances of me paying that? ZERO! I'm not going to line Bob and Jonathan's pockets, so they can collect interest during labor strife.
Thanks,Kevin F.I think we're gonna be getting a lot of that. Tom E. Curran canbe reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

LeGarrette Blount knows where he wants to be for 2017. Ever since he re-joined the Patriots in 2014 following a short stay in Pittsburgh, the 250-pound back has been very open about how he wants to play out the rest of his career in New England. 

Those feelings haven't changed, even as he faces free-agency after having recorded the best season of his seven-year career.

"I just want to make sure that I go to this free agency with an open mind, knowing that I definitely want to go back to New England," he told NFL Total Access on Monday. "I love it there. I love the culture. I love the players. I've become close with a lot of the guys. Obviously you know how my running back group is.

"We'll cross that bridge whenever we cross it. On that point, I feel great. I'm in amazing shape. I feel like I could play 100 more years if I have to."

Blount finished 2016 with career-highs in attempts (299) yards (1,161) and touchowns (18). His ability to help the Patriots close games in the fourth quarter was notable throughout the course of the season, and he was among the most effective goal-line backs in the league. His 18 rushing scores are a franchise record.

Toward the end of the season, as Dion Lewis worked his way back into the Patriots offense, Blount had his workload cut into, and his fumble in the Super Bowl was a near-catastrophic moment -- his devastated reaction to which was caught expertly by NFL Films. But a big-picture view of Blount's year would reveal that he  posted the most prodictive "big back" season the Patriots have had in more than a decade.

Blount signed a one-year deal with the Patriots last offseason after seeing his 2015 prematurely ended by way of a hip injury. He turned 30 in December.

Garoppolo's mom keeps him apprised of trade rumors: 'She's all over that stuff'

Garoppolo's mom keeps him apprised of trade rumors: 'She's all over that stuff'

Jimmy Garoppolo can't help but hear trade rumors that involve his name. He heard all about them during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. Now his mom's keeping him up to date. 

"My mom loves telling me the news updates," Garoppolo told ESPN's Adam Schefter, "so she’s all over that stuff, but it’s been working really well . . . 

"I’m telling you, she could be your assistant. She’s all over the place. Her and my dad on Twitter and stuff like that. I don’t even think they know how to tweet, but they always have something going on . . .

"They know what to hit me with and what to keep quiet. They know me so well that they know what I’d like to hear and what I don’t need to hear. There’s a couple slip-ups here and there, I’m not going to lie to you, but they’re just so excited about it. It’s an exciting time, and they’re loving it."

Garoppolo tried his best to deflect questions about his future as he prepared for Super Bowl LI, but he could only insulate himself so much from those conversations. After six quarters of well-played football, he's chummed the waters for quarterback-starved franchises. As the draft nears, offers are expected to hit the Gillette Stadium offices, and it will be up to Bill Belichick and his staff to determine whether they should part ways with Tom Brady's backup. 

Schefter asked Garoppolo about one team in particular that could be interested: the Chicago Bears. Their general manager Ryan Pace is an Eastern Illinois alum, like Garoppolo, and Garoppolo is a Chicago-area kid. 

"I get asked about [that possibility] all the time from my friends and family back in Chicago," Garoppolo said. "They’re good reporters, my family. But I keep telling them I really don’t know how it would feel until . . . if it was to happen, I wouldn’t know how I’d feel until it did, you know? So it’s kind of one of those things, it’s hard to say right now."

Garoppolo added: "For the most part I am just trying to stay level-headed, trying not to think about it, over think it too much because at the end of the day I am still under contract. It is not my decision if I get traded or if I don’t, so I am just trying to take it all in stride. At the end of the day, you just have to enjoy it. The NFL, it is a hard place to be, hard place to succeed and when you get an opportunity you have to go and take advantage of it."

The idea of getting an opportunity, though, is an enticing one. Before the 2016 season, Garoppolo was very open about how he looked forward to his opportunity to start with Brady suspended for the first four weeks of the season. And with Schefter, he acknowledged that there are times when it's hard not to be impatient when you're the guy behind the guy.

"There’s times," Garoppolo said. "Obviously the kickoff happens and you are ready to roll. The juices get flowing again. You get the adrenaline, the butterflies. It’s football, you have to love the atmosphere . . . 

"We all play the game. We all want to be out there on the field and get an opportunity to play. I guess we will cross that bridge when we get there is probably the best way to put it. We’re competitors at the end of the day. We want to be out there, I want to be out there competing and playing with my teammates.”