The NFL and the group formerly known as the NFL Players Association issued a joint statement with 43 words, saying just about nothing informative, in an unattributed quote. At least the two sides can apparently agree on a press release.
The candles that football fans have been lighting continue to flicker faintly, but the NFL and the artist formerly known as the NFL Players Association are working behind the scenes in an attempt to reach a deal.
Considering the venom that began in earnest about the time the Vikings and the Saints marched out on the field and extended a finger in a show of union solidarity, the news that they are making progress is being greeted with great joy among the masses.
But it would appear we a still are a long way from seeing grown men from both sides signing a new collective bargaining agreement. One of the first steps came Wednesday in a joint statement between the NFL and the player representatives on meetings taking place.
There were a couple of things that were worth noting to those unfamiliar with press releases. First is that it was likely written by someone connected with the owners. The headline proclaimed a joint statement including the "NFLPA," which technically doesn't exist since it decertified.
What followed was an unattributed statement apparently cleared by both sides that was a scant 43 words. It was as follows:
"Discussions between NFL owners and players under the auspices of Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan took place again this week and will continue. At the request of Jude Boylan, both sides have agreed to maintain the confidentiality and substance of the talks."
It took a few more words to explain who was in attendance – Commissioner Roger Goodell, and team representatives Jerry Richardson (Carolina), Clark Hunt (Kansas City), Bob Kraft (New England), John Mara (NY Giants) and Dean Spanos (San Diego), along with players reps DeMaurice Smith, Kevin Mawae, Dominique Foxworth, Tony Richardson, Jeff Saturday and Brian Waters.
Here is the translation. "You all know we're meeting. We want to let the judges in St. Louis know we're meeting and have a court-appointed guy in the room. He said, "What happens in Maryland stays in Maryland."
No new information came from the brief statement and the only thing it accomplished was likely paying attorneys for both sides money to sign off on the verbiage. But, it is progress. It's been awhile since the two sides have issued a joint statement, so even though Wednesday's non-statement is the "babiest" of baby steps, it is a sign that the two sides can agree on something – 43 unattributed words in a quote.
ESPN: The Magazine has found a way to carve a brief niche in the sports world. For those ESPN-M subscribers, most clearly have some sort of free promotion. The scatter-gun style can only be assumed to be geared toward readers with short attention spans with an enjoyment of oversized photos and legal-size type scrolls on pages. The magazine's latest issue ranks professional sports franchises. It is ESPN-M's ninth annual rankings – no small feat considering that, if it doesn't come free with an on-line Insider subscription, there aren't a ton of them that get sold at newsstand prices. As would be expected, the Packers were named as the No. 1 franchise in sports. They won the Super Bowl and reside in a town smaller than Billings, Mont., Fargo, N.D., Manchester, N.H., Provo, Utah, Surprise, Ariz., Olathe, Kan. and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, yet have a Super Bowl champ. The easy hook is always the best. However, when it comes to ranking the Minnesota sports teams, the magazine once again ran it downs its journalistic leg. The Twins ranked 39th out of the 122 teams listed in the "Best Franchises In Sports" category.
As always, the rankings are unscientific at best in explaining the rationale for who rates what spot, putting a lot of weight on the vague "bang for the buck" qualifier (for some reason 24.3 percent of the total ranking system). The Vikings rank 106th – behind the dismal Minnesota Wild hockey team (No. 92), which has failed to qualify for the NFL playoffs despite its liberal acceptance of .500 teams, and 12 spots ahead of the black hole that is the Minnesota Timberwolves (No. 118).
The rankings get press in the areas where there is a significant upturn – you can find plenty of stories about the Tampa Bay Lightning (No. 2 in the rankings), a team that has a following beyond Tampa and into St. Pete. They jumped from No. 70 to No. 2 in one year – clearly a ton of "bang for the buck."
As the clock ticks down on the opportunity to get a stadium deal done, the partisan politics of the competing Twin Cities newspapers are making their own last-ditch efforts to sway public opinion – literally. On its opinion page today, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune published an editorial not only promoting the idea of shooting down an Arden Hills stadium initiative, but actually attempting to re-ignite interest in building a new stadium on the Metrodome site, which just so happens to be surrounded by land owned by the Star-Tribune. Months ago, we mentioned that, at some point, someone would invoke getting the mysterious Metropolitan Council involved. Ramsey County wants nothing to do with the Met Council, which was likely the point in adding yet another layer to the stadium question and further muddying the water for those on the fence with their votes. The editorial goes on to claim that the City of Minneapolis, which officially backed out of the required local partner for a stadium effort, would raise $195 million in sales taxes, as well as claiming $300 million could be saved by building on the Metrodome site and dislocating the Vikings for at least two years. Here is a link to the opinion piece.
Work on the Metrodome roof is nearing completion of the current phase and is on schedule to be re-inflated in late-July or early August.
There was a time not too long ago that a dominant running back was one of the primary sources of success for NFL franchises. You needed a stud running back to be a success. The Vikings' Adrian Peterson was listed in an in-house poll of the game's best running backs at the NFL's official website. The funny thing was that the rankings were limited to four running backs – Peterson, Chris Johnson, Maurice Jones-Drew and Arian Foster. Not only did none of them play for a 2010 playoff team, but three of the four teams drafted a quarterback in the first round. There is a lot of value in having a top running back, but the NFL's own rankings would lead one to believe that a stud RB isn't the key to success and this is a quarterback-driven league, especially for the teams with the best running backs.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.