Sports Outside the Beltway

Anna Benson Files for Divorce

Anna Benson is filing for divorce from pitcher Kris Benson, who apparently is not dealing well with the effect her antics are having on his career.

Photo: Anna Benson needs sex We like video taping ourselves while having sex, Anna says. It’s a lot of fun making sex tapes. We share them only with each other. I mean, what guy doesn’t want to videotape himself and his woman having sex? All men want to.Another of the couple’s aphrodisiacs is phone sex. Every time Kris goes out of town, one of the first things we do is get on the phone and have phone sex. It’s still the two of us. The only difference is a phone and a movie going on. Anna Benson wants a divorce from Baltimore Orioles pitcher Kris Benson, who still thinks the New York Mets traded him because of his impulsive wife. Anna Benson, an actress and model who has posed topless, filed for divorce in Atlanta on Thursday. The petition for divorce claims the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” The couple has been married for seven years. Anna and Kris Benson have yet to comment on the divorce petition.


In 2005, his first full season with the Mets, Benson allowed three runs or fewer in 19 starts. He was 10-8 with a 4.31 ERA, but New York won 17 of the 28 games in which he pitched. Despite those numbers, the right-hander was traded to the Orioles in January for pitchers Jorge Julio and John Maine. There was speculation that the deal was perpetuated by the behavior of Anna, who has her own web site and publicly discussed intimate details of their sex life.

Mets general manager Omar Minaya contended that Anna Benson was not a factor in the trade. Kris Benson isn’t buying it. “New York is just a world of its own. I knew that coming in, but you learn that a little more when you get put in the spotlight like that in a negative and undeserving way,” Kris Benson said. “It was a little frustrating at the time because people kind of believe what they read. For her it’s been a little tough, because they kind of portray her in a negative light.”

Anna Benson wore a provocative dress at the team Christmas party, and there was talk that she was considering posing nude for Playboy. Kris Benson bristles at the memory. “We learned a lot from the whole situation. You look at some of the things that were said, some of the lies that were passed, who believes what, who your friends are, who your friends aren’t,” he said.

He said Anna never had a serious conversation with representatives from Playboy, and that her attire at the party was “not as revealing as people say it is. The only thing they fed off is when she kind of bent over and someone took a picture of it. It’s an exaggeration of the truth, and now the Mets are going to miss out on a quality starter and the Orioles are going to benefit.”

It is indeed a bizarre situation for a baseball team and, in more ways than one, a distraction. Anna Benson is a beautiful woman who attracts a lot of attention (as my referral logs occasionally remind me) but not all of it is good from the perspective of a professional organization.

Crosspost from OTB




Baseball to Launch Steroids Investigation

Major League Baseball is launching an investigation into whether Barry Bonds and others used steroids, reports AP baseball writer Ronald Blum.

Major League Baseball will investigate alleged steroid use by Barry Bonds and other players, and plans to hire U.S. Senate majority leader George Mitchell to lead the effort. A baseball official told The Associated Press on Wednesday that final plans were to be announced Thursday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because commissioner Bud Selig has not yet made his intentions public.

Selig’s decision to launch the probe, first reported Wednesday by ESPN, comes in the wake of “Game of Shadows,” a book by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters detailing alleged extensive steroid use by Bonds and other baseball stars. The commissioner has said for several weeks that he was evaluating how to respond to the book.

Some in Congress have called for an independent investigation. Mitchell, a Maine Democrat and a director of the Boston Red Sox, has been a director of the Florida Marlins and served on an economic study committee that Selig appointed in 1999. Mitchell’s possible involvement was first mentioned Wednesday in The New York Times. The name of a lawyer who will run the mechanics of the probe also was to be announced.

No matter what the findings of an investigation, it would be difficult for baseball to penalize anyone for steroids used prior to Sept. 30, 2002, when a joint drug agreement between management and the players’ association took effect. Baseball began drug testing in 2003 and started testing with penalties the following year.


NFL Limits TD Celebrations, Protects QBs

John Clayton summarizes fifteen rules changes approved today by the NFL owners.

The NFL owners meetings concluded in Orlando on Wednesday afternoon with owners giving big thumbs up to 15 playing rules proposals by the competition committee. Player safety and player conduct headlined the long list of recommendations, and the Committee passed most of them with ease. Only two recommendations failed to pass. About 11 owners voted against allowing a defensive player to wear a radio helmet connected to coaches on the sideline. An effort to cut down the rapidly increasing number of false start penalties against receivers who flinch at the line of scrimmage also failed.

The highlights:

• Limited celebration: Perhaps the most controversial decision involved end zone celebrations. A few years ago, the committee tried to clamp down on excessive end zone celebrations, particularly in light of Joe Horn’s touchdown celebration with a cellphone and Owens signing a football with a Sharpie after a touchdown. But in 2005, numerous creative celebrations crept back into the game.

Chad Johnson of the Bengals gave CPR to a football after a touchdown, went down on a knee after a touchdown and proposed marriage to a cheerleader and pulled out an end zone pylon and pretended to hit a golf shot with it. Steve Smith of the Panthers did an end zone Snow Angel, went to the ground and did a rowboat celebration and cradled a football like a baby and wiped its bottom as if it needed more diapers.

In a vote of 29-3, the owners gave officials power to penalize a team 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff for excessive celebrations anywhere on the field. Spikes, dunks, Lambeau Leaps, spins, dances and simple celebrations will be allowed. But penalties will be given for any celebration other than that.

Johnson told a Cincinnati reporter Tuesday that he will have his own competition committee meeting with Keyshawn Johnson and Owens to come up with creative ways to celebrate touchdowns. One area that remains in play is the sidelines. Mike Pereira, the league’s supervisor of officials, said if sidelines become the next area of excessive celebration, the Competition Committee would address it next winter.

• Replay changes: Perhaps the biggest victory of the competition committee was the inclusion of down-by-contact plays on replay challenges. Last year, the Committee fell four votes short of getting down by contact plays included. This year, it passed, 27-5.

Pereira said there were 12 plays in 2005 that would have been overturned in a replay challenge on a lost fumble that was ruled down because the player had been downed after contact with a defensive player. If the defensive team wins the challenge, the ball would go to them at spot of the recovery. In 2004, about 13 change of possessions would have been made in favor of the defensive team that recovered.

One slight modification included in the rule change would shorten the time the referee has to review a play. The review time would go from 90 seconds to 60 seconds from the time the referee begins looking at the replay monitor. In reality, that’s not much of a big deal. The average time an official reviews the play is one minute and seven seconds. The league is hoping to shorten the three and a half minutes of lost time during replay challenges.

Safety was also a big winner during Wednesday’s meeting. Here are the rules that passed involving safety.

• A rushing defensive player won’t be allowed to forcibly hit a quarterback below the knees. He has to make every effort to avoid such a low hit. Palmer, Griese and Roethlisberger suffered knee injuries on low hits but those three plays were considered legal by the committee because they involved defensive rushers coming off blocks. Several other plays such as the old Rodney Harrison hit on Trent Green when he was with the Rams along with a Jared Allen low hit on Kerry Collins would be subject to a 15-yard penalty. That proposal passed, 25-7.

• Centers who snap on field goals, extra points and punts can not have a defender line up directly over him. Instead, the defender has to line up outside the snapper’s shoulder pads. The penalty for illegal formation will be 5 yards, but few penalties are expected to be called because officials will warn the player before the snap.

• The committee expanded the definition of a horse collar tackle. Last year, the committee determined the tackling style of Cowboys safety Roy Williams and others was causing too many injuries. Williams would grab a player by the back of his shoulder pads, pull him down and fall on his legs, causing at least four serious injuries during the 2004 season. In 2005, though, only two “horse-collar” penalties were called. On Wednesday, owners voted in a change that will include grabbing the back of the jersey as a horse collar tackle. The vote was 25-7 in favor.

• Other little changes for safety included trying to limit the number of re-kicks by giving the kicking team more chances to take penalties after kicks. That ended a three-year process of minimizing the number of special teams kicks that are violent and risky for injury. The owners also prohibited kicking teams from loading up one side of the field on free kicks.

There was one significant change in the roster cutdown before the start of the season and one after the final cutdown.

In a vote of 29-3, owners allowed teams to keep 75 instead of 65 players on their roster in the first cutdown, which is annually the Tuesday after the third preseason weekend. The trade off was the NFL Europe exemptions that allowed teams to bring more players to camp expire at that time. The reason for the change is simple. For the most part, the NFL Europe players weren’t going to make the team but teams keep them to the final cut in order to have bigger rosters for the preseason finale.

Now, teams can cut the NFL Europe players in the next to last cut and have 10 extra players who could either make the team or be candidates for the practice squad.

The second part of the roster proposals is that the eight-member practice squad was extended four years to 2009. Before last season, teams could only keep five players on the practice squad.

In recent years, the competition committee has increased its efficiency in terms of getting their proposals to pass because they take surveys of teams and coaches and solicit as much input as possible.

With the down-by-contact change that was voted down last year and then approved this year, the committee is optimistic that next year it could pass the rule change to allow defensive players to wear a radio helmet and get play calls from coaches on the bench. They will also push next year to lessen the number of false starts, a failed effort this year.

There were two ideas not supported by the committee that didn’t pass.

• The Bucs’ recommendation to include all penalties for replay review was almost unanimously defeated.

• The Chiefs proposal to expand the playoffs from 12 to 14 was tabled to May, but it doesn’t have the support of Tagliabue and the Committee and is expected to fail.

The Committee also completed a six-page clarification of the writing of the holding penalties that it hopes will bring uniformity to the calls and the coaching of offensive linemen.

Overall, it was a good day for the committee.


Tagliabue Hopes to End Poison Pills

John Clayton reports on the intricacies of the so-called “poison pill” provision that emerged in dealings between Seattle and Minnesota this offseason that threatens to upend the whole system of restricted free agency. Essentially, it is the insertion of a clause into the contract such as “highest paid player at his position on the team” that would makes the player’s current team’s right to match the terms of the contract unfeasible but does not place a similar burden on the team making the offer.

To get labor peace through 2011, Tagliabue had to take the union’s last offer to the owners for a vote or lose the salary cap system. Because it was the union’s last offer, the owners and front offices lost a lot of procedural gains. They gave back a lot of the grievance victories won over the years. They gave away a higher percentage of total revenues than expected.

Even though the rules involved in the Hutchinson situation have been in place for years, Tagliabue has to give a little more to fix the hole in the system that has been exposed. “What’s there to give back?” Colts general manager Bill Polian said.

“I think these issues raised by offer sheets by Seattle and Minnesota need to be addressed,” Tagliabue said. “I think it’s not what is contemplated. … We will be addressing it with the players’ association. I will be talking to Gene Upshaw about it next week.”


• The Hutchinson deal effectively kills the use of the transition tag. Each year, teams are given the use of the franchise or the transition tag as a way to keep their best unsigned player. Thanks to Hutchinson, any team can create a poison pill that won’t be matched because a special master isn’t going to veto a guarantee. If the clause triggers a salary escalation, the deal doesn’t have to be matched. But guarantees are a different story.

“I don’t think it’s good for football,” Eagles owner Jeff Lurie said. “The Seahawks lose a terrific young player like Steve Hutchinson. That was not the spirit of restricted free agency at all and wasn’t in the spirit of the designations. It’s a shame. The whole idea of the designation system in a salary cap with unfettered free agency, you at least know there are one or two players internally that you will have. When we drafted Donovan McNabb, we were fortunate enough to re-sign him at an early state to the largest contract in the NFL at the time. But if we couldn’t come to an agreement, we knew our fans would still be able to have Donovan because we would franchise him.”

• Thanks to Hutchinson, the restricted free agency system also became more costly. The NFL has four levels of restricted free agent tags that are progressively more costly to teams. Low tenders go at $712,600. The next level is at $1.573 million. If the restricted free agent is a bigger star, teams might have to jack up the price to a first-and-third tender at $2.069 million. To deter restricted poison pills, every team now will have to offer first-round tenders to restricted free agents.

But even if teams go up to that maximum level in this market, poison pills still will leave them vulnerable to losing their player to an offer sheet they won’t be able to match.

“The minds of creative people have no limits,” Tagliabue said.

Front office executives expect a change in the system from Tagliabue’s meetings with Upshaw. But it won’t come for free. It likely will cause adjustments in the franchise and transition systems. Players don’t like the franchise and transition tags because the tags weren’t used as expected. When the salary cap started, the players gave owners the tags essentially as a way to protect franchise quarterbacks. Teams came back and used them on kickers and safeties and as a way to threaten top free agents to try to get them to sign long-term deals.

In the latest round of bargaining, the union got a minor concession. The third time a player is franchised by a team, the required tender will now be the average salary of the top five players at the position with the highest average salary or 120 percent above his applicable salary from the previous year, whichever is higher.

Upshaw does have some incentive to close the poison pill loophole. If things stay the way they are, teams will try to get around having restricted free agents by signing all rookies from the second to the seventh round to four-year deals. Players are restricted free agents after three years, so that would take away a year of restricted free agency.

One trade-off could be to limit the use of franchise and transition tags to once or twice in the lifetime of a player. Upshaw might accept that. But now that the Hutchinson poison pill extends into restricted free agency, too, he might ask for more.

“It’s strange from both ends,” Vikings coach Brad Childress said. “From our end, we’ve added a good player and may lose a good player. That’s the long and short of it.”

The long and the short of it for the NFL is that it doesn’t have a cure for the current poison and will have to pay for it in another labor negotiation.


Jones: Cutting Larry Allen Hurt

Rick Gosselin talked with Jerry Jones about the human side of the business of football. It’s not just players who feel emotional pain.

The salary cap has taught NFL teams you must learn to say good-bye to your older players. Even when sometimes they are your best players.

A week after the fact, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is still struggling with his decision to release 1990s all-decade offensive lineman Larry Allen, the last link to the franchise’s Super Bowl era. Speaking publicly for the first time since cutting his seven-time Pro Bowl blocker March 22, Jones talked of the difficulty he’ll have watching Allen wear the uniform of the Cowboys’ longtime rival the San Francisco 49ers in 2006. “It hurts a lot,” said Jones from his hotel suite at the NFL spring meetings. “I was so proud of him as a Dallas Cowboy, as much as any player we’ve ever had. “I have so much respect for him. You hear about Bob Lilly as the best left defensive tackle ever to play the game. I’m convinced that Larry can get some of that kind of recognition as well.”

Jones believes Allen was still playing at an elite level in 2005 when he was selected to his seventh Pro Bowl. “He still had the ability,” Jones said. “He graded out as our best lineman last year. That makes you scratch your head. But we needed to get younger, and we had the opportunity to do that. “Very candidly, we needed to allocate those dollars … some of them to T.O. I’m not saying T.O. cost us Larry. But we had to shuffle around.”

Allen is 34. He was scheduled to make $5.5 million in 2006, counting a $2 million signing bonus in April. His release came three days after the Cowboys signed wide receiver Terrell Owens. Allen’s salary cap figure would have been $7.5 million in 2006. Owens comes in at $6.6 million. You can pay that kind of money to an offensive playmaker. You can’t to an offensive guard.

“When we gave Larry his third contract [in 2002], he was going to be our left tackle,” Jones said. “He’d been a Pro Bowler at left tackle. Then we drafted Flozell Adams. He comes in and can play left tackle. Whether it be Hudson Houck or Camps [Dave Campo]…nobody ever wanted to get rid of that luxury of having a Larry Allen and a Flozell Adams over on that left side. “But his arrangement was all predicated on him moving out to left tackle, and we’d be good at left tackle for five or six years. If you look back at what we paid him, the kind of lessons I’ve learned – you can’t stack it up like that on the offensive line. You can’t pay somebody like that to play left tackle when he’s not playing left tackle, when he’s playing left guard.”

Jones hashed over the idea of asking Allen to take a pay cut to finish his career in Dallas. “I’m not so sure I couldn’t have sat down with Larry personally and said, ‘Let’s get in here and reduce this thing down and stay with us,’” Jones said. “We did the best thing for the team. But it did cross my mind that we could make this work. There was a part of me that thought he might get out there and [find the money] might not be there. But I knew when we extended the collective bargaining agreement we were in trouble with him.”

It’s always sad to lose a good player, especially one who has been with the team a long time. But, Jones is right: You simply can’t pay an aging offensive lineman, especially a guard, that kind of money.


Cowboys Looking at Detroit QB Joey Harrington

Mickey Spagnola reports that the Cowboys are among seven teams looking at Lions QB Joey Harrington, whose sporadic play has caused Detroit to give up on the former third overall pick in the 2002 draft.

The talks are incredibly preliminary:

[Cowboys owner/GM Jerry] Jones said he has only recently spoken with team vice president Stephen Jones about considering Harrington, and that the team’s pro scouting department did start evaluating him once it became apparent about 10 days ago the Lions were going to get rid of their primary starter the past four years one way or another. In fact, any speculation the Cowboys are seriously interested in Harrington would be premature since Jones said, “But I really haven’t talked to [head coach] Bill [Parcells] about it.”

Moreover, this appears to be mere due dilligence on a tremendous athlete at the most important position in the game who might be had for a bargain basement price. It is not even a reflection on the three QBs currently on the Dallas roster.

This also does not mean the Cowboys are ready to throw in the towel on two-year veteran Drew Henson, who currently is NFL in Europe playing for the Rhein Fire. Henson’s club is 2-0, and his performance this past weekend was much improved over his NFL Europe opener. Jones said he hasn’t even so much as looked at tape of Henson’s performances or read any of the scouting reports from the first two games. But, according to Jones, this should not be viewed as some European vacation for Henson, heading into his third season with the Cowboys. “Certainly it is important, very important, a significant thing,” Jones said of Henson’s performance this spring overseas. “That’s the process. It’s very meaningful what Drew’s doing, relative to anything we might think about any quarterback.”

And maybe most importantly, don’t for a minute think Jones is thinking about replacing Drew Bledsoe with Harrington as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback in 2006. On the contrary. “But let me be real clear about anything we’re doing, it does not in anyway mean to me that we are looking at anything other than Drew Bledsoe as our starter,” Jones said. “This is a look to the future here with any interest you might have. “I don’t want to come across as sitting here looking at anything other than Drew Bledsoe (as the Cowboys starter.)”


Jones does not in anyway want to immediately sign Harrington, even as a backup since the move would cut the developing legs out from under Henson in Europe. Or possibly even backup Tony Romo, since there is a feeling within the organization that the Cowboys might have something special in him, even though the three-year veteran has done nothing more than take a knee twice in regular-season games during his career. In fact, there are some who think Romo, if handled properly, could develop into the team’s future starting quarterback if the Cowboys can remain patient with the development of the undrafted player out of Eastern Illinois. Sort of like their version of Jake Delhomme, who stepped up to prominence after signing a free-agent deal with Carolina after all those years in New Orleans.

But, again, we’re talking about quarterback, the premier position not only in football but all sports.

[A]s has been the case since Troy Aikman eventually retired after the 2000 season, the Cowboys can leave no stone unturned searching for the next franchise quarterback. And while Bledsoe is expected to be the starter this year, and possibly even next, Jones knows a team never can have too many good quarterbacks on the roster or future options if that total equals three.

And as Jones did say with the draft now a month away, “Tony and everybody knows we’ll be looking at a young quarterback, whether it be late in the draft . . . or if something crazy happens, it may be early in the draft, who knows.”

Which obviously led to a natural question: What would the Cowboys do if Texas quarterback Vince Young happened to slide all the way to their 18th spot in the first round? “Be real interesting, wouldn’t it?” Jones said, and not totally teasing.

Yes it would be, and it’s always interesting when the Cowboys throw their hat in a quarterback ring.

Indeed it would. The team is positioned to make a serious run for the Super Bowl this year and would obviously prefer to take a player in the first round who could start right away. Still, the Cowboys would almost have to take a flyer on Young if he fell that low, unlikely as it is. The opportunity to grab a franchise quarterback is just too rare to pass up.


NFL Announces Opener, Monday Night Games, Extra Thanksgiving Game

NFL Announces first games.

NBC will be hosting the Dolphins at Steelers game on Thursday, September 7th at 8:30 PM ET, in their return to airing NFL games. The Sunday night slot that NBC has will be feature the Indianapolis Colts and the New York (football) Giants, in what has already been dubbed the “Manning Bowl”, the first time in NFL history that brothers have faced each other at quarterback. I have a feeling that fans are going to wish both teams could lose by the time the media hypes this one up.

FOX will feature Dallas and Jacksonville at 4:15 ET on Sunday. Monday Night Football will feature a double header on ESPN. The Minnesota Vikings will face the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field at 7 PM ET, followed by the 10:15 game at Oakland featuring the Raiders and the Chargers.

Thanksgiving will feature three games this year instead of two. The Dolphins will play at Detroit at 12:30 PM ET, followed by Tampa Bay at Dallas. Finally, at 8:30 PM ET, the Kansas City Chiefs will host the Denver Broncos in a revival of a traditional Thanksgiving game Kansas City held in their AFL days. This will also be the first game broadcast by the NFL Network.

These seem like good matchups for opening weekend, though as I mentioned above, the “Manning Bowl” will probably get annoying. I look forward to seeing how NBC does with football, and also to see how ESPN handles the Monday Night games.

The rest of the NFL schedule should be out sometime in April.


Five People of Seven Million Picked Right Final Four

NYT reporter Michael Schmidt says not to feel bad about blowing your NCAA brackets this year. You are not alone.

Know anyone who has the Final Four intact in the office pool? No way.

After all, not one top-seeded team made it. The last time that happened was 1980. Who could have picked the Patriots — not Tom Brady & Company, but the ones from George Mason?

Was there a secret to making sense of possibly the most unpredictable N.C.A.A. tournament? For Russell Pleasant, a 46-year-old software engineer from Omaha, it took a lucky mistake. When he filled out his bracket earlier this month, he thought George Washington would reach this weekend’s Final Four. Instead, he ended up picking George Mason, round after round after round, all the way to Indianapolis. Now, he finds himself a rare survivor among millions of broken hearts with busted brackets across the nation. In’s 2006 Men’s College Basketball Tournament Challenge, Pleasant had one of the four entries among three million with U.C.L.A., Louisiana State, Florida and George Mason in the Final Four.

Last season, 4,172 people picked all four teams in’s pool. But last year’s Final Four featured a more predictable lineup: two top-seeded teams, North Carolina and Illinois; a fourth-seeded team, Louisville; and a fifth-seeded team, Michigan State. At, none of the two million brackets submitted this year had all four teams. In the Yahoo Sports pool, just one of more than a million entered had all four.

Even with the ridiculous number of upsets this year, I would have figured dozens of people would have gotten the Final Four right just through the law of large numbers. Five people out of seven million? Wow.

Update: Josh Lewin is currently in 4th place in ESPN’s pool. Sadly, he picked UConn, eliminated by George Mason this weekend, to win the whole thing.


Dungy for NFL Commish?

Len Pasquerelli believes a dark horse candidate will emerge as Paul Tagliabue’s successor and thinks Colts coach Tony Dungy might fit the bill.

By now, most fans have read the names of NFL vice president Roger Goodell, team presidents Rich McKay of Atlanta and Dick Cass of Baltimore, and league counsel Jeff Pash as current league officials who might be elevated into the commissioner job. All are worthy candidates, but the suspicions of many owners is that Tagliabue’s successor won’t come from that list, and by the end of the process, it will actually be a relative football unknown.

Here are some names, none of which have been on the radar screen yet, that have been suggested by some owners as potential commissioner candidates:

• Bill Bradley: The former United States senator, and onetime candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bradley certainly knows a lot of about the marriage of sports and politics. A member of the basketball Hall of Fame, and Princeton-educated, Bradley possesses the best of a lot of worlds. But his age (62) and the fact most owners vote Republican probably work against him.

• Chase Carey: File this name away, because he could be near the top of any “outsiders” list. Carey is the president and CEO of DirecTV. Prior to that he was chairman and CEO of the Fox Television Group. In his 50s, he still plays rugby and has a very active lifestyle. With the league fixated on creating new revenue streams through the Internet and digital media outlets, he would be a guy with some expertise in an area that some visionaries see as the NFL’s next great frontier.

• Tony Dungy: OK, so the Indianapolis Colts’ coach is hardly an outsider. And he still wants to coach a while longer and, hopefully, to capture the Super Bowl title that has so far eluded him. But by his own admission, Dungy doesn’t plan to be a lifer in his current job. Few men in the league, at any position, are so universally respected. A long shot, no doubt, but a guy not to be summarily dismissed.

• Arlen Kantarian: Everyone praises his work as the chief executive of professional tennis for the United States Tennis Association. Notable is that he once worked for the league, as the vice present of marketing for NFL Properties. The landscape has changed a lot since he left the NFL, but he remains well-regarded and has a few advocates in the league.

• Tim Leiweke: The president of the Anschutz Entertainment Group, whose holdings include the Staples Center, hockey’s Los Angeles Kings and soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy.

An interesting list. Dungy, especially, would be a bold pick. He lacks a law degree and the sort of business experience one might expect in a CEO of a multi-billion dollar business but the man undeniably knows football, is highly intelligent, and has a strong work ethic.

Update: Rick Gosselin thinks the NFL needs to think global.

But the NFL’s next step is beyond its popularity in the United States. It’s a global step – and the new commissioner must take football there.

“The challenges going forward,” said Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeff Lurie, “are how to grow the sport in the world of globalization and digitalization – how to maintain the integrity and the popularity of the sport but grow it in a new media world, in a new global world.”

Which is where the ability to speak several languages comes into play.

“In the sports world, as in the business world, you see China, India, Latin America, Eastern Europe …” Lurie said. “Those are the real growth areas. We happen to have an extremely fan-friendly product, but we have not made a lot of inroads in the global marketplace. “That’s a big, big challenge going forward for the National Football League. We need someone to help grow the brand.”

That line of thinking would open up the possibility of a Condi Rice bid. While she has said she’s not interested for now, the NFL can offer her one hell of a pay raise.


Cowboys Sign WR Terry Glenn to Contract Extension

Mickey Spagnola reports that the Dallas Cowboys has signed wide receiver Terry Glenn, who still had two years left on his contract, to a three-year extension.

Enamored with his play and expecting even more production with the addition of Terrell Owens, the Cowboys signed wide receiver Terry Glenn to an extension that likely will keep him with the Cowboys for the remainder of his career. “I’m excited about it,” Glenn said Monday afternoon at Valley Ranch. “I wanted to be here. I’m ready to make this (Super Bowl) run and get started.”

Glenn, with two years left on his previous contract, has been signed to a three-year extension by the Cowboys, now giving him a five-year package worth $20 million. Glenn was scheduled to count $2.52 million against the Cowboys’ 2006 salary cap, with a base salary of $2 million. Terms of the signing bonus he received have not yet been announced.

“We just think he will really prosper in our system with Terrell now here,” Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said here Monday at the 2006 Annual NFL Meetings. “He’ll be a good complement.”

That Glenn should be, with his speed and ability to stretch the field. He had one of his more productive seasons last year with the Cowboys, staying healthy enough to start all 16 games for only the second time in his 10-year career. Glenn caught 66 passes for a team-leading 1,136 yards and a team-leading seven touchdowns. Not only did Glenn lead the Cowboys with eight touchdowns in 2006 – he had one six-yard touchdown run – his 18.3-yard average per catch tied Denver’s Ashley Lelie for the NFL lead, although Lelie had only 42 catches. For perspective on Glenn’s down-field ability, Oakland’s Randy Moss averaged 16.8 yards per catch and Owens, now with the Cowboys, averaged 16.2 during his abbreviated 2005 season in Philadelphia.

Glenn is a superb player and, presuming Owens actually behaves himself enough to play out his three year deal, the two provide an excellent 1-2 punch. Still, one wonders at the wisdom of signing a 32-year-old man who relies on burning speed and is already under contract through his 34th birthday to a new deal. While there are occasional exceptions, like Jerry Rice and Tim Brown, there are not too many 35-year-old wideouts starting in the NFL.


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