Passan: News and Views

Rich ponders the eternal questions like: What's the deal with Roger Goodell's Euro-obsession? And when was the last time Browns fans were so dismissive of a successful quarterback?

News & Views . . .

News: The National Football League strongly considers adding a 17th game to the regular season and playing it in Europe.

Views: What is the world in the NFL's fascination with globalizing its sport? The 32-team league makes money hand over fist in this country and it still isn't good enough?

One gets the sense Commissioner Roger Goodell and his gang of 32 wants to explore other continents just because they're there. Why stop in Europe? Why not test Asia or Africa? I'd love to see a game in Saudi Arabia.

There is no reason to jam American football down the throats of Europeans, who clearly are attracted to other sports such as soccer and basketball. Perhaps there's a jealousy of other sports that have successfully expanded globally.

The NFL tried several times to expand the popularity of its sport in 1991 with the 10-team World League of American Football. Failed miserably. After two years, the league went on hiatus for a couple of years. It returned in 1995 with six teams as NFL Europe. Failed miserably again. Not even a name change to NFL Europa worked. It finally – and mercifully – folded last year.

The National Basketball Association, meanwhile, has become global very nicely and the influence can be seen with the steady influx of foreign players.

But basketball is also a much cheaper sport to play. All you need is a pair of shorts, a pair of sneakers and a hoop. In soccer, it's a ball and a net.

Football, on the other hand, requires a uniform and equipment that would run in the hundreds of dollars. That's one of the reasons American football and Europe go as well together as chocolate and mustard.

Soccer still hasn't gained rabid popularity in the United States after more than 40 years of trying. So why foist football on the rest of the world? It won't work.


News: The NFL will not rule out the possibility of playing a Super Bowl outside the United States.

Views: Are you kidding me? The biggest sporting event of the year and these so-called clear-thinking businessmen are seriously considering holding it outside this country's borders? Have they gone insane?

The Super Bowl is an American institution. North American. Not European. Not African. Not Australian. Not Antarctican.

Taking an icon like the Super Bowl elsewhere makes absolutely no sense.

Want to play an exhibition game off the North American continent? Fine. Want to play a whole bunch of exhibition games off the continent? Fine.

Let the fans in other counties pay for those meaningless games. It means less money out of the fans' pockets, especially the season ticket holders who are forced to pay full price to see those games.


News: The NFL plans on requiring all players to undergo neurological exams to protect players from concussions.

Views: Instead of doing that, why doesn't the league change the rules and eject any player who delivers a blow to the head. In addition, fine that player the maximum allowable under the Collective Bargaining Agreement and suspend him, without pay, for one game. The next time it happens, another fine and a two-game suspension without pay.

Harsh? Not really. When dealing with the brain, nothing can be too harsh. Just imagine your brain rattling violently around the skull in which it is encased. Not much fun.

Based on the increased use of the crown of the helmet as a tackling weapon in the last several seasons, it is not outside the realm of possibility that players are being taught to tackle that way. Whatever happened to fundamental tackling like lowering your shoulder, driving into the ball carrier, wrapping him up and falling?

The NFL wants to crack down on concussions and yet allows helmets to be used as weapons. Spearing used to be called a lot more than it is now. Perhaps if the league cracked down hard on helmet hits, the incidence of concussions would drop.


News: The Browns and Derek Anderson no closer to a contract agreement. The quarterback could be tendered by Thursday without an agreement.

Views: This could be one of those last-minute deals where both sides cave and there is a middle ground. Like maybe a three-year deal (favoring the Browns) with an optional one or two years (favoring Anderson). In the NFL, nothing is guaranteed except the bonus money.

When it all goes down, maybe all the infighting among Browns fans about Anderson and getting rid of him for draft choices will stop. I can't remember the last time so many fans were so upset about a successful quarterback.

Obviously, Savage believes Anderson is the one of the main reasons the club approached the precipice of the playoffs this past season. Why else would he work so hard to get his signature on a contract? He knows that having a quarterback tandem of Anderson and Brady Quinn makes the Browns one of the strongest teams in the NFL at that position.

The general manager realizes that if he loses Anderson, Quinn had damn well better be every bit as good as Anderson was in 2007. Because if he isn't – and there's no guarantee he would be – and fails, then the backup quarterback for the Browns will be Ken Dorsey.

Inspires a whole lot of confidence.


News: Jamal Lewis re-ups with the Browns.

Views: Kind of makes one wonder how much interest the big running back generated in the free-agent market.

Was this signing easier than expected? Or is Lewis one of those athletes who means what he says? After this past season, when he proved most pro football experts wrong with a terrific season, he said he would love to return to the Browns. Some thought it was lip service.

Guess not.

Leading the cheering was offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, who realizes how much of an impact Lewis had on his schemes. Because the big guy this past season came close to duplicating his spectacular seasons in Baltimore, opposing defenses no longer could keep both safeties back in the dreaded Cover 2.

Helped immensely by the outstanding work of the revamped offensive line, Lewis was the perfect complement to Anderson. Teams had to pick their poison with the Cleveland offense: Lewis on the ground or Anderson through the air.

Stop one, but rarely stop both. All you have to do is look at how Lewis' numbers in the second half of the season, especially the final month, improved as Anderson's leveled off.

Now, all Savage has to do to complete the daily double is sign Anderson then get to work fixing the defense.



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