NFL players balking on recertifying union


NFL players balking on recertifying union

By Tom E. Curran Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
ATLANTA -- And this is the part of the show where the players get painted into a corner. By late Thursday afternoon, the NFL owners will have shown beyond all reasonable doubt that they are all for the return of professional football. They will have either voted for the negotiated CBA or they will have declared an intention to vote in favor of it pending the players remove collective head from collective anus and vote. The players? Basically, their executive director DeMaurice Smith walked out on a Washington sidewalk and said, "Ohhhh, this is so harrrrrd to decide" back in the 3 o'clock hour. He then said he was going to take a walk "around the corner."The problem is this. The players don't want to re-form their union. Without it, they have greater latitude to bring litigation against the NFL and charge it with antitrust violations. With the union, that leverage vanishes. So now that the players know the owners' urgency is at an all-time, they are trying to drag their feet. Hence, Kevin Mawae saying on Wednesday the players would take their time. And Chester Pitts saying it may take two weeks. And Smith saying the decision to re-form is a difficult one. Meanwhile, the players are trying to make the actual process of voting to recertify their "trade association" seem like a Herculean chore. Again, their interest is in making the owners sweat the return of football. Maybe they can gain some concessions in the overall deal. Instead, the owners will blissfully cast their votes then cast the players as the villiains. "We're ready to go," will be their claim. "Not sure what the holdup with the players is."Public opinion will turn against the players. The owners -- who started the lockout to begin with -- will sit back and be seen as the sane ones. So that's where we are. On day 127 of the NFL Lockout. Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots


Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots

Marcus Cannon has had his run as a piñata. The Patriots offensive lineman is a frequent target when things go wrong up front and, usually, he’s deserved it.

A bit of anecdotal evidence? 

Sunday, I tweeted that every time I watched Cannon, he was making another good play.

On cue, about 10 tweets came back at me with variations of “Keep watching him!”

I asked Bill Belichick if he agreed with the layman’s assessment that Cannon’s playing well.

“I think Marcus [Cannon] has done a good job for us for quite a while,” Belichick began. “I mean he’s stepped in for Sebastian [Vollmer] and then last year when Nate [Solder] was out [and he substituted] for Nate. He has played a lot of good football for us.

“We extended our agreement with him off of his rookie contract which I think speaks to the fact that we want him on the team and we like what he’s doing and so forth and he’s continued to I’d say show with his performance [that he has] validated the confidence that we have in him.”

Cannon’s ending to 2015 – a poor performance (along with the rest of the line) against the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game was followed by a performance against the Cardinals that was marred by late-game holding calls.

But with Sebastian Vollmer injured (and still injured) it was sink or swim with Cannon which had plenty of people rolling their eyes.

But – as I said – every time I see Cannon, he’s either holding off a defensive end in pass protection, steamrolling downfield in the running game or making really athletic second-level or cut blocks in the screen game.

“Like every player, as they gain more experience they do get better,” said Belichick. “I think our offensive line’s certainly improved over the course of the year and playing with more consistency than we did last year. But there’s always room for improvement and the continuity that we’ve had there since (right guard) Shaq [Mason] has gotten in the last few weeks – we had Shaq over on the right side a little bit at the end of the season last year and then this year most all of the year except when Shaq was out for a few weeks there at the end of training camp and the start of the season – but our overall consistency and communication on the offensive line has been better because we’ve had more continuity there so that helps everybody.”

It can’t hurt that the lineman whisperer, Dante Scranecchia, has returned to coach the group. Cannon’s conditioning and physique looks better. He just appears more athletic and explosive. And he’s seemed more relaxed in the limited time the media’s in the locker room.

All off that added up equals nobody really talking about Marcus Cannon.
“Like any lineman, the less you call his name probably the better he’s doing,” said Belichick. “It’s probably a good thing when you guys don’t talk about him. Then that probably means they’re not doing something too noticeably wrong, right?”