Kazmar: Jethro finds new way to hog training camp headlines
The first full-scale practice at most NFL training camp sites occurred last weekend as frenzied football fans scanned newspapers and the Internet, watched TV and listened to the radio to find out what was happening at their favorite team’s training site.
These initial sessions were mainly for orientation purposes, with the full pads being donned either Saturday or Sunday.
Each team already has a list of players being held out of many of the drills because of some kind of injury—minor muscle pulls, bruises, illnesses or even some that will keep the player on the sidelines for a more substantial period of time.
Ambitious sports writers, radio and television analysts and free lancers scrambled for interviews from head coaches, offensive and defensive coordinators, star players and hometown hopefuls who are readying their bodies for the new experience of the NFL during and after these two-a-day sessions.
They know that after the first weekend, several franchises will close many of their practices to the public and the media. So there’s a big scramble to get as much news about the camps as possible the first few days of training camp.
It cannot be a coincidence that the Dallas Cowboys’ genius owner Jerry Jones, who is referred to as Jethro behind his back, prostituted his $1.2 billion showplace stadium to the highest bidder, who happened to be AT&T, and made his magnanimous announcement the day that all players reported to training camp that his stadium would now be known as AT&T Stadium.
Of course Jethro and his goon squad of team officials declined to reveal the terms of the deal, including cost and how many years are included in the deal, according to the Associated Press, which broke the story Friday.
According to the AP, Marc Ganis, a sports consultant with SportsCorp Ltd. in Chicago, estimated the deal could be worth as much as $20 million annually for 20 to 30 years, or from $400 million to $600 million.
Dallas Cowboys fans have become accustomed to referring to the new complex as Cowboys Stadium since the team left behind Texas Stadium in Irving. It will be interesting how long it will take them to call it by its proper name–AT&T Stadium.
One of the big questions that surfaced last week is whether the Baltimore Ravens have what it takes to repeat as Super Bowl champions after the tremendous transformation that took place over the off-season.
According to an article that appeared in this week’s USA Today Sports Weekly, nine of the Ravens’ 22 starters from Super Bowl XLVII are gone or unsigned. However, the No. 1 project of re-signing quarterback Joe Flacco got immediate attention.
Flacco reportedly received a record deal (six-year, $120 million), but one the Ravens can extricate themselves from in a few years if need be.
Strangely enough, Flacco’s numbers were very similar to Houston Texans’ quarterback Matt Schaub during the regular season and Schaub handily won the individual battle in Houston’s 43-13 rout of the Ravens at mid-season.
Over 16 regular-season games, Schaub completed more passes and had a higher completion percentage, threw for more yards and posted a higher quarterback rating. They both threw 22 touchdown passes and averaged 7.2 yards per attempt, but the big difference is that Flacco caught fire and won the Super Bowl while Schaub fizzled when it counted most.
Baltimore’s defense will be missing Hall of Fame-bound Ray Lewis, who retired and nine-time Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed, who is now on the Houston Texans recovering from off-season hip surgery, safety Bernard Pollard who was released and linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger, who left as free agents.
The offense will be without All-Pro center Matt Birk, who retired and wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who was traded to the San Francisco 49ers.
On the positive side, the Ravens obtained four free agents—outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (Denver), safety Michael Huff (Oakland) and defensive linemen Chris Canty (New York Giants) and Marcus Spears (Dallas).
Last year’s championship team for the first time since 2002 didn’t finish in the Top 10 in yards (17th) or points allowed (tied for 12th) in the same season.
General Manager Ozzie Newsome took offense after the draft when it was suggested the champs were in pieces. “We like our football team this year,” Newsome barked. “I’d like for someone to tell us we’re not good enough to make the playoffs right now. Can anyone say that?”
Jethro probably wouldn’t have the stones to comment to Newsome, but he certainly wouldn’t hesitate to jump up on his soapbox and spout off about how good his Dallas Cowboys are expected to be in 2013.
The Dallas Cowboys do have the honor of opening up the NFL exhibition season by taking on the Miami Dolphins Sunday in the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.
KWICKIES…The 81st annual Texas High School Coaches Association Convention and Coaching School is going on this week in Fort Worth which means the 2013 Texas high school football season will officially start Monday as teams get ready for their opening game during Zero Week Aug. 30-31.
Houston Astros’ phenomenal rookie right-handed starting pitcher Jarred Cosart had another sterling performance Sunday at Toronto, giving up four hits and one run before leaving after six innings with the score tied at 1-1. The Astros managed to lose 2-1 on a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning. Besides not being able to deliver a clutch hit in the late innings, Astros’ batters struck out 14 times while five Houston pitchers issued 10 walks to help the Blue Jays hand the Astros their 69th loss of the year.
The Los Angeles Angels put slugging first baseman Albert Pujols on the disabled list Sunday with a tear in his left foot that could end his season. Pujols has a partially-torn plantar fascia, an injury that has hampered him most of the season.
The Los Angeles Dodgers’ rookie sensation Yasiel Puig ended a scoreless battle in the 11th inning Sunday with his first career walk-off home run, giving the Dodgers a 1-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
According to Houston Texans’ long-time beat writer for the Houston Chronicle John McClain, veterans love playing football for Head Coach Gary Kubiak, who watches them closely and takes it easy on them at times to preserve their legs. He also gives several of the established veterans a day off every three or four days, because he says it helps them physically and mentally. McClain says that’s smart coaching.
Six-time Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb officially retired Monday as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. McNabb played 11 of his 13 NFL seasons with the Eagles, leading them to eight playoff appearances, five NFC East titles, five conference championship games and one Super Bowl loss.
JUST BETWEEN US…Brandt Snedeker fired a two-under-par 70 Sunday to win the Canadian Open at Oakville, Ontario for his second PGA Tour win this year. But the big news was the fact Hunter Mahan, who led the tournament by two shots after 54 holes, walked off the golf course and withdrew from the event Sunday and flew home for the birth of his first child, a girl. Snedeker’s three-stroke victory was worth $1,008,000.