March 2014

Wide receiver had previously visited Buccaneers, Bengals
Former NFL player Wade Davis' speech to the owners, coaches and general managers delivered a significant message about sexual orientation in sports, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday. Goodell had previously met with Davis, who is gay, ''and I found his message to be very important for all of us to hear.'' ''He was talking about (how) he's professional, he's part of the family that we all are in the NFL and he just wants to make sure that he provides that kind of workplace where people can go and play football, and be comfortable playing football,'' Goodell said. He recognizes everyone's not an advocate or someone who's going to carry the flag, but these young men who want to play in the NFL, they want an opportunity. Our job is to make sure we provide the opportunity.'' Missouri defensive end Michael Sam could become the first openly gay player in the NFL if he is drafted next month.
Programming note: Raiders Insider Scott Bair is in Orlando, Florida for the NFL owners meetings; ORLANDO, Fla. -- When Justin Tuck signed with the Raiders, the New York Giants lost their defensive captain. Disparate contract terms put Tuck in Silver and Black, which was a surprise to most. While Tuck voiced displeasure with the Giants offer, there was no awkward divorce with teammates or the coaching staff.
In the past six months, the NFL has lost three giants — Bud Adams, William Clay Ford and, on Tuesday, Ralph Wilson — in franchise ownership. Prior to that, the Kansas City Chiefs' Lamar Hunt and the Oakland Raiders' Al Davis, two men whose names should appear in the first paragraph of the history of the league, died in the previous decade. The current group of NFL owners have been a big part of the league's success, with many of them helping navigate through the difficult lockout in the summer of 2011 and carry on with sports' most successful endeavor. These are the salad days of football. And yet there's a legacy missing. Yes, there are still members of the old guard who continue to represent the league after decades of service. Bill Bidwill became the sole owner of the Cardinals franchise in 1972, but the Bidwill family has controlled it back to the Chicago days, in 1932. The Rooney family has owned the Pittsburgh Steelers since 1933. Virginia McCaskey inherited the Chicago Bears in 1983 following the death of her father, George Halas, in 1983. Mike Brown and Jim Irsay inherited the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts, respectively, and are vital links to the league's past. Pat Bowlen (Denver Broncos) and Alex Spanos (San Diego Chargers) are going on their 30th years owning their respective franchises, and the Dallas Cowboys' Jerry Jones just celebrated his 25th year of ownership and has rebuilt an empire with his franchise. But it's clear we are in a new era of NFL ownership. Bidwill has ceded daily control to his two sons. The Steelers have changed their ownership structure in recent years, and Dan Rooney, 81, is not as involved as he once was. McCaskey is seldom seen publicly these days. Bowlen and Spanos have been out of the spotlight in recent years. Irsay's recent legal troubles cast some question on his daily involvement with the Colts while he seeks help. Jones, the Patriots' Robert Kraft, the Giants' John Mara, the Eagles' Jeffrey Lurie, the Falcons' Arthur Blank, the Ravens' Steve Bisciotti and a handful of owners who took control in the 1990s and 2000s have stepped up as NFL linchpins among the owners. But there must be more influential new blood added, too. Not just another member of the Billionaire Boys Club hoping to cash in. The timing of Wilson's death — during the NFL owners meetings — allowed his fellow compatriots to pay the proper respect en masse. This was a man, too, who often swam upstream. He was not afraid to fight for his small-market team's rights and go toe to toe with bigger and more influential owners. Wilson was one of two NFL owners to vote against the 2006 CBA because he "didn't understand it." And that was not because of a lack of intelligence — his keen sense, knowing it was a deal the owners later would regret signing, foreshadowed the lockout five years later. The league needs its mavericks just as it needs its company men, so to speak, but there's no question that there is a leadership question, symbolic or not. Will Jed York, Clark Hunt, Bisciotti and the other younger club owners be ready to fill the void? If not, there could be too few balancing forces to combat Jones and Daniel Snyder, who are viewed with some suspicion by fans at large. The past few new owners approved by the membership have not put their best feet forward in their first few years in control of their respective clubs. The Miami Dolphins' Stephen Ross has been saddled with losing and ugliness. The Cleveland Browns' Jimmy Haslam has had both as well, and he has a possible indictment hanging over his head with the Flying J mess. Although the Jaguars' Shad Khan is roundly respected, his team has been mired in losing in recent years, too. The Bills have no clear successor to Wilson. Adams' estate currently owns the Titans. The Panthers' Jerry Richardson, 77, has endured health probems and has no clear successor lined up, having fired both of his sons a few years back. Neither do the New Orleans Saints for when Tom Benson passes away, with Rita Benson Le Blanc perhaps not the automatic successor many assume her to be. Mark Davis appears to be rudderless in Oakland. The Chargers and Rams have pressing stadium issues and are relocation candidates.  The NFL could be entering a period of serious ownership change over the next several years, and it's clear the league already is in the midst of a transition period with several giants falling in recent seasons. Here is a list of the current NFL franchise owners and the year they took over control of their respective teams: NFL franchise Owner(s) Year taken over Green Bay Packers Green Bay Packers, Inc.* 1923 Arizona Cardinals Bill Bidwill 1972 Chicago Bears Virginia (Halas) McCaskey 1983 Denver Broncos Pat Bowlen 1984 San Diego Chargers Alex Spanos 1984 New Orleans Saints Tom Benson 1985 Pittsburgh Steelers Dan Rooney** 1988** Dallas Cowboys Jerry Jones 1989 Cincinnati Bengals Mike Brown 1991 Carolina Panthers Jerry Richardson awarded franchise in 1993 (inaugural season was 1995) New England Patriots Robert Kraft 1994 Philadelphia Eagles Jeffrey Lurie 1994 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Malcolm Glazer 1995 Indianapolis Colts Jim Irsay*** 1997*** Seattle Seahawks Paul Allen 1997 Houston Texans Bob McNair awarded franchise 1999 (inaugural season 2002) Washington Redskins Daniel Snyder 1999 New York Jets Woody Johnson 2000 Atlanta Falcons Arthur Blank 2004 Baltimore Ravens Steve Bisciotti 2004 Minnesota Vikings Zygi Wilf 2005 New York Giants John Mara and Steve Tisch 2005 Kansas City Chiefs Clark Hunt 2006 Miami Dolphins Stephen Ross 2008 San Francisco 49ers Jed York 2009 St. Louis Rams Stan Kroenke 2010 Oakland Raiders Mark Davis and Carol Davis 2011 Cleveland Browns Jimmy Haslam 2012 Jacksonville Jaguars Shad Khan 2012 Tennessee Titans Estate of Bud Adams 2013 Detroit Lions Martha Ford 2014 Buffalo Bills unknown 2014 * The Packers have no primary owner but instead are run by a board of directors, led by president Mark Murphy ** Dan Rooney took over control of the Steelers when his father, Art Rooney, died. Dan and Art II own a majority share of the team of approximately 30 percent of the franchise after the Steelers ownership was restructured in 2009. *** The Colts' day-to-day operations are currently being overseen by Carlie Irsay-Gordon, Jim Irsay's daughter, while Irsay undergoes treatment following his arrest. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm
Mark Sanchez said so long to the New York Jets. ''Playing quarterback for the New York Jets has been the thrill of my young career,'' Sanchez wrote. ''We shared some incredible moments that I'll never forget.'' Sanchez, cut last Friday when the Jets signed Michael Vick, said there were ''some tough times, but mostly good times,'' highlighting the consecutive trips to the AFC championship game in his first two seasons in 2009 and 2010. ''It's time to move on,'' Sanchez said, ''but before I do, I want to thank you for supporting me and my brothers in green and white.'' He ends the letter by telling his former teammates, ''I love you guys and I'll miss the good times we shared.'' Sanchez, drafted fifth overall in 2009, is a free agent who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury suffered in the Jets' third preseason game against the Giants - paving the way for rookie Geno Smith to start every game.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, speaking at the league owners meetings Monday, said Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay is subject to discipline following his arrest last week. --Mark Sanchez, released Friday by the New York Jets, could be trading places with former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. Sanchez is expected to sign with the Eagles, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported, citing an unnamed source. Sanchez would be the third quarterback on the Eagles' roster, joining starter Nick Foles and backup Matt Barkley.
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets each will receive four compensatory picks in this year's draft for free agents they lost in 2013.
Compensatory picks awarded
The NFL announced Monday that a total of 32 compensatory choices were awarded to 13 teams for the 2014 draft, which will be held May 8-10.
With the draft under 50 days away, it's time to add a second round to the mock draft. And as free agency continues to unfold, team needs and the direction they might go on draft weekend is starting to become clearer.

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