Thursday, March 29, 2007

Be Cool, Baby

Now that the initial surprise of the Redskins' offer for Lance Briggs has worn off, let's all be cool like a bunch of little Fonzies here.

Don Pierson of the Tribune is still saying what I said the other day: pick up the phone and accept the offer before the Redskins come to their senses.

Pierson actually lets Briggs have it. For his big fat mouth, yes, but also cuts Briggs's talent down pretty harshly.

Briggs became a Pro Bowl player because he plays in Smith's defense next to Pro Bowl player Brian Urlacher. Briggs doesn't rush the passer, doesn't make interceptions, doesn't force fumbles and doesn't disrupt offenses. In the long line of Chicago outside linebackers, he's good but he's no Wilber Marshall, Otis Wilson, Doug Buffone, Joe Fortunato, Larry Morris, Rosevelt Colvin or Ross Brupbacher.

Oh, clearly he's no Ross Brupbacher. I had to punch that one up. Based on the only page I can find about Ross Brupbacher, he was in the NFL for 4 apparently undistinguished years (1970-1972, 1976). Evidently Pierson was his biggest fan.

I'm still with you, Don. I'd be fine with pulling the trigger on the offer based on my assumptions that (a) the Bears won't receive a better offer and (b) Briggs will go through with holding out and possibly cause some havoc for the 2007 club. I mean, for chrissakes, somehow he and his agent are busting into owners' meetings and running amok. They're resourceful and irrepressible blowhards. I have to give them their due on that front -- they're the original twin devils of deception!

But I'm liking how the Bears are handling it so far. There's no rush on this thing, even if I got my hackles up upon rumor of this offer.

Lovie's talking like the coolest cat in the room. Hadn't heard from him in a while, but he talked some Tank yesterday, as well as some Briggs.

"Would we welcome [Briggs] back? He's a Chicago Bear. Yeah, we welcome all Chicago Bears back. And he is. So, of course, we will then. I mean, we may have a few players that get hurt and miss some time, and when they are ready to come back, we welcome them back.''

Lovie's found his niche as a good, calming coach who cares about Chicago Bears players on a personal level. He's got it right. Briggs is still a Chicago Bear, even if he might not put the uniform back on until Week 12. Whether that's because of injury or holdout, it's all the same from Lovie's perspective.

I'm also pleased with Angelo's reaction so far. He told the Skins this isn't how we roll. We don't conduct our biz on SportsCenter through insufferable agents. That was a good start.

And now he's slowed down and, according to the Sun-Times' Mike Mulligan:

is believed to be preparing a counteroffer to the Redskins' proposal of a swap of first-round draft picks that would move the Bears from No. 31 to No. 6. The Bears are thought to want a better package in exchange for a Pro Bowl linebacker that might include a combination of players or future draft picks.

While I'm saying this is the best offer the Bears are going to get, maybe Jerry's thinking a little clearer that that's mostly true, but maybe he can milk a little more from the Redskins themselves. The Redskins are out on a limb here, too, and everyone knows they fritter away draft picks as if they have no value.

For instance, one of the picks they frittered away was this year's 2nd-rounder. They traded that to move up last April to draft linebacker Rocky McIntosh. This is the Rocky McIntosh who would figure to be the odd man out if the Redskins acquired Briggs. They've already got Marcus Washington and recent high-priced free agent London Fletcher(-Baker). Add Briggs to that and where's McIntosh? Exactly.

Come to think of it, that 2nd round pick they traded away is the #37 the Bears just got from the Jets in the Thomas Jones deal. It all spins around and around, wildly out of control, when the Redskins are involved. And Jerry Angelo knows that. If nothing else, maybe Jerry likes the current offer but can get them to take #37 instead of #31. Or maybe he can just get the Skins to say "Eh, you know that pick we took for Archuleta? We'll give you that one back."

Pick away at those fools, Jerry. There's still a month at hand.

Another interesting scenario would be the idea of getting a player from the Redskins. The Bears really have no one to fill in at LB, and the draft is said to be pretty lousy at the position. The Redskins have the aforementioned pile of LBs. Scanning down the depth chart a bit farther, there's certainly no room for Warrick Holdman to play anymore.

Wouldn't that be something if he came back? Even if it were possible under the cap and all that, I can't see Angelo bringing up Holdman's name. For the most part, everyone has forgiven Angelo for one of his first moves as Bears GM, which was failing to check a box on some form that would have given the Bears draft-pick compensation if another team signed Holdman away.

I don't think Angelo wants to hear from the press about the irony of bringing Holdman back, even if it would be for the good of the team. That's what a lot of this Briggs business is about: doing what's best for the team on the field versus exhibiting class and might as an organization.

Obviously Briggs sitting home for 10 games will hurt the team and moving up 25 slots would help the team. But if the perception is that they were bullied into trading Tom Jones, then they are bullied into trading Briggs, both for less than their value, then there is organizational value in taking a stand. Even if you're getting what you wanted, it's still detrimental to have Rosenhaus saying every 5 minutes that he's calling all of your shots.

So I'm with you, Jerry. Keep plugging away for more. I seem to be with everyone today and that's weird. Am I still drunk or somethin'? I better get that checked out. Or perhaps Briggs/Rosenhaus have irritated the shit out of me and I'll side with anyone but them.

The worst-case scenario is the 10-game holdout, and that would be fine with me. Briggs and Rosenhaus crossed the line long ago, and now they're just picking up the pace on lying, trying to leverage the idiots like Mariotti who make their living off of the fashion of the day, which is trashing the Bears' front office whether the evidence is true or not.

Like a greasy lemming, Mariotti climbs right on board with the agent's claim that Briggs is being tagged like a piece of meat by a team who refuses to negotiate. The Bears offered a long-term deal last year. Where's the counteroffer?

Drew, Lance, tell us what number you've proposed, at any time, that those cheapskates have shot down. That would be the very best way to gain the fan support that you're shamelessly stumping for. Tell us the numbers. We're right here at the ready to call the McCaskeys cheap bastards.

You can't, because you've never made a counteroffer for the Bears to consider. So quit spouting the lie that the Bears refuse to negotiate. It's you guys who've done that. Briggs has been asked a few times and he has no answer, other than he doesn't want to get into all that. Yeah, I can understand why.

We know from past history why Angelo isn't thrilled with the deal on the table and why he'd be working on a counteroffer. He's stated this standpoint before and reiterated it yesterday.

"We have to digest what it is from a [salary]-cap standpoint," Angelo said. "The sixth pick is an inordinate amount of money, and there are cap issues in terms of our plan."

The use of "inordinate" is telling. Angelo feels these high picks are a wolf in sheep's clothing. I right-clicked inordinate for synonyms:

Undue, unnecessary, unwarranted, unreasonable

Angelo wouldn't draft 6th with Bea Arthur's pick. If life was as easy as the draft value board and Angelo could trade down for what that board calls fair value, then there's something to talk about. But it's pretty certain the Redskins have actively shopped this pick and found no takers, and Angelo knows this.

Stay the course, Jerry! Anytime between today and the day after the draft, I'm fine with hearing you say "No deal interested us. Briggs is a Bear in 2007, and we're done talking about it." That won't stop Rosenhaus & Briggs from continuing their media tour, and they'll continue to come off increasingly petulant and dishonest as they announce a few new planned threats each day.

The Bears can sit chilly through all that, because the only aggression that will stand is Briggs sitting home in civvies for 10 weeks and then being obligated to show up. That's how it works, even if twerps like Mariotti prefer and perpetuate the sleazy agent's nonsensical rendition of what time it is.

Go Bearss!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sound of My Own Voice Tour Returns to Glazerville

Jay Glazer of FOX is reporting that a trade is in the works for Lance Briggs. Put it this way about my confidence in Glazer to be a news-breaker: I'm willing to push the extremely valuable previous post down a peg rather than edit my dismissal of Rosenhaus's big talk.

Can this really be happening? Who'd possibly be putting together the assumed irresponsible package that the Bears would be interested in? And which pink-shirted, white-panted NFL decision-maker would put his arm around Jay Glazer, touch manboobs, and slip the news into Jay's barren noggin?

Al Davis doesn't wear pink, baby. So it's got to be Daniel Snyder.

Drew Rosenhaus, the agent for Bears' disgruntled Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs, told that the Redskins informed him Monday that they would like to swing a deal that would send Washington's first-round pick, No. 6 overall, to Chicago for the Bears' first-rounder, No. 31, and Briggs.

OK, so Drew Rosenhaus called FOX and said they'd "like to swing a deal."

When asked about such an offer Redskins owner Dan Snyder confirmed to that he in fact wanted to make the move and they were waiting to talk to Chicago.

If I were Glazer, I'd probably have used least 3 commas in there. If the Redskins make the phone call, the Bears shouldn't pause for commas either. If I were Jerry Angelo, I'm sure I'd be surprised to get an offer of this magnitude. Run to the window and cash out the Briggs ticket before the Redskins change their minds.

The #6 pick would put the Bears in Calvin Johnsonville, which I hear is the most exciting place to be right now. We can figure out who'll play linebacker later.

Earlier in the day, Rosenhaus ran some more threats past the Bears to try in put them into more of a trading mood. As we all know, Briggs and Rosenhaus very clearly stated that he will never ever play a snap for the Bears again. Since then, they must have done some reading about how things work in the real world.

"After 10 games, he'll come in," Rosenhaus said. "We're going to limit our injury risk as much as possible. That is the plan, come back and play the last six games of the season."

So now he's playing six more games for the Bears, and the playoffs, but then he'll absolutely never ever play another snap for the Bears, ever. The six games there represents the minimum effort for 2007 to count as his franchise-tag year. Just sitting out entirely and barely scraping by on Payday loans would mean the Bears could re-slap the franchise tag on for the first time, all over again.

And that's half the point. The Bears can tag Briggs again for $8.6 million for 2008, regardless of which plan he decides to run with this season. Beyond that, teams can franchise tag a player for a third year, but now the player is due the average of the top 5 salaries in the league, not just the position.

But whatever. The threat of Briggs sitting out 10 games shouldn't have the Bears losing sleep. If the rest of the scrubs in the NFC North aren't tremendously improved, and none of them has had a notable offseason, paying Briggs for only 6 games and heading straight into the playoffs might be a pretty cool hand. The McCaskeys would enjoy the extra walking around money, anyway.

Answer the phone, take the #6 pick, and ship Lance out so he can finally quit making an ass of himself and get on with being "The Man" for the first of many 5-11 seasons in the nation's humilation capital.

You're on the team, Anthony

With a promise that we'll get him one of those jumpsuits and hang-gliding is part of the plan, Anthony Adams joins Adam Archuleta in the Bears' 2007 free-agent class.

As far as defensive tackles go, Adams isn't much more stout than Luke Wilson. But he's light on his feet, has got good cardio, and he's not rehabbing or in jail, which fills a gaping need on the Bears' defensive line. This likely ends any thought of re-signing Ian Scott. Alfonso Boone has signed with Kansas City.

Adams is a 26-year-old 2nd-rounder out of Penn State. On the skeptical side, San Francisco had tons of cap room and didn't want Adams back. On the optimistic side, Adams started all 16 games for the 49ers in 2005, before starting only 5 in 2006 as the 49ers played more 3-4. If it was mostly a philosphical difference that caused his departure from San Francisco, the undersized Adams (6", 299) would figure to be a fit for Lovie's no-loaf defense. He was 25th on ESPN's free-agent list, so that's something.

Coincidentally or not, the signing comes amid the owners' meetings, where it's being speculated that the Bears' incarcerated defensive tackle will have the Roger Goodell book thrown at him to the tune of an 8-game suspension.

Another rumor from the meetings
That rumor from the meetings sounds a lot more likely than the one that says Lance Briggs's people are talking to the Bears' people. The sides were spotted talking, which is odd considering how little they have to talk about, except for a long-term deal.

I failed to report last week's stop on the Lance Briggs Sound of My Own Voice tour. Lance hadn't called NFL Network yet, so he appeared on Rod Woodson's show. Woodson threw an ad-lib into Briggs's monologue and told Lance that his suggestion would be to "ball up" for the good of his corporation, Lance Briggs Inc. He reminded Lance that the franchise tag is part of the business and the Bears could use it again next season.

Briggs and Rosenhaus answered that they were in trade talks with a number of teams. Two of the three teams they named, including Seattle, said within seconds that there's absolutely no truth to that and they have no idea what Rosenhaus is talking about.

Bad rumoring
Earlier today, ESPN and several local outlets reported that the Bears had signed Steeler safety Tyrone Carter to 3-year contract. I couldn't stop thinking about whether they're truly poising themsevles to cut ties with Mike Brown (perhaps after offering a pay cut). This has been speculated since the Archuleta signing. Archuleta himself says incredulously that he's no backup. He doesn't know what the depth chart looks like, but alls he knows is he's always been a starter in this league and doesn't know why he wouldn't be now.

OK, Arch. We're all on your side ... now. Before I could finish thinking about Mike Brown and the jersey hanging in my closet, Tyrone Carter signed with the Steelers. That's some good police work. Bake em away, toys. Unless the rumor was pulled out of thin air, however, it sounds like the Bears are still trying to stockpile more safeties.

Now we're talking
In the most exciting and positive move of the offseason, the Bears re-signed Ruben Brown to a one-year deal for $2.2 million, hence keeping the offensive line together again.

Ruben's answer to whether he could have gotten more was "When you get to be 35, teams start looking at you funny." My mom always said when you get to be 35 without a ring on your finger, everyone looks at you funny, and you're probably gay.

If only there were more like Ruben. I heard him this morning, once Sean Salisbury was done bragging about how much money he won on the basketball games, and Ruben loves being on the gang. Called Kreutz a hall of famer, which is silly, but you can seen why they love Rube back.

I almost vomicked when Salisbury kept jabbing Steve Rosenbloom (when's recent ESPN 1000 acquisition Tommy Waddle taking his spot anyway?) with his choad in shouting what's it's like for "guys who spent so many years in this league, like me and Ruben, to be on the losing end of a Super Bowl." Yeah, Salisbury's an expert on that.

Once Ruben was off the air, Rosenbloom tried to measure back up by taunting that his Harley's bigger that Salisbury's. That's great radio, a couple sleazebags swinging their mid-life crises about. But I have to say, Trey Wingo was hosting a show later and he could give Morons 1 & 2 a run for their money on smug assholism.

Anyways, adding Archuleta, Adams, and Brown adds some intrigue as to what the Bears will do on draft day. They're moving right down the checklist of obvious needs, which should help draft day be a zesty enterprise. Sometimes the left tackle of the future that you need isn't in the pool and the best available athlete is Devin Hester. A Devin Hester. The Devin Hester.

Opener closer
Ron Rivera's eye twitched a little today when the NFL announced its kickoff weekend plans. The Thursday night opener will represent the best of times and the worst of times for Ron Rivera. He spent a couple weeks interviewing for dream jobs between licking the Saints and being beaten down by the Colts. Now he'll watch the two square off, while he falls asleep in his recliner and game-plans just the linebackers for the opener against the Bears 3 days later.

I think it looks like this:
Merriman --> steroid store ----> Grossman ---> ball ----> hizzouse

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dust Off the Face-Sharpening Jokes

Maybe now that Adam Archuleta is a Chicago Bear, I'll get a better look at him and the joke about him getting his face sharpened won't strike me as funny anymore.

Maybe I'll be less specific and just throw a bitter "Nice tackle, pretty boy" at him.

Whereas with Maria Shriver, the face-sharpening bit is surely fitting and no mercy is due when you chose to be Mrs. Schwarzenegger and you're other-worldly skeletal.

Anyhoo, the Archuleta signing reminds me of the old joke from the racetrack, when the horse you decided to bet on doesn't seem so hot and the tote board says it's paying a lousy price. You walk to the window real slow and, if luck is on your side, you'll get shut out of the race and put the money back in your pocket.

The Bears were headed to the window last offseason with a big bankroll in hand to sign Archuleta, who was one of Lovie Smith's guys when he appeared in the Super Bowl as a Ram.

However, a very funny thing happened along the way: the mighty Redskins ran to the teller and plunked down $30 million for 6 years, with $10 million guaranteed, to sign Archuleta.

One year and a million irate, profanity-riddled posts on Redskins messages boards later, Archuleta joins the Bears for an orange-tag price of 3 years, $8.1 million. For their troubles, the Redskins end this particular embarrassing chapter and receive a 6th round pick (which could become a 5th if Archuleta outplays all expectations).

The more apt racetrack analogy would be that the Bears chose not to bet on Archuleta in his last race when he was paying 40 cents on the dollar. Wearing the Redskins silks, Archuleta broke cleanly, faded to the back of the pack, and was vanned off. Pending examination by the Bears' vet, they'll play him in his next race at much better odds, and with much lower expectations.

At least I hope the expectations are low. This offseason, backup safeties Todd Johnson and Cameron Worrell departed. Neither was an impact player, but someone has to play some backup safety and specialty teams, and Archuleta's a decent fit for that. He obviously knows Lovie Smith's defense, so that should put him a step ahead of a mid-round rookie safety they were expected to draft for this role.

Some are going as far as saying that Archuleta is the "perfect fit" for the Lovie Smith defense, but I don't follow that line of thinking. The Cover Two is largely about safeties playing deep coverage and not letting any receivers past them. Bad safety play in the Cover Two results in long, uncontested TDs a la Reggie Wayne's backbreaker in the Super Bowl.

Archuleta's skill set isn't much different than what we've seen from Chris Harris. I'll be extremely disturbed if he's not more skilled than Harris, but their strengths and weaknesses are largely the same.

As we like to say nowadays, Archuleta is who you think he is, when you hear that he's a 6'0", 223 lb safety. He's built like a mini-Linebacker and that was his role in St. Louis. And as you'd expect from a mini-Linebacker, you're going to get more stout run support and less coverage ability than you would expect from a typical safety. The lack of coverage ability, after all, is what landed him on Joe Gibbs's bench quickly and permanently.

A few other quick getting-to-know-you facts about the new guy:

-- Archuleta doesn't have much of a nickname. He's been called Arch, which made more sense in St. Louis. He was called Arch Deluxe, when McDonald's had a sandwich called that. Redskins fans may have stopped caring early enough to bother.

-- Archuleta's a big-time concussion guy. What does it feel like to get a concussion, Adam?

"Yeah, that's a cool feeling (laughs). OK, not really. It's kind of scary. It's wild, though. You wake up, but you really don't know what's going on. It feels sort of like a dream world, but no matter what anybody tells you, you don't believe them, so you ask the same question over and over again. Like when I had a concussion, I was on the sidelines asking my teammates, "Who's winning?" and "What's the score?" maybe 10 or 12 times, and I would not believe what they said even though they were telling the truth and pointing to the scoreboard. It just didn't register.

You just kind of have this disposition where you don't really care about stuff. Like everything's kind of floating by, you're really nonchalant about things. It's literally like having things go in one ear and out the other. You don't have any short-term memory at all."

-- Archuleta calls himself "the most relaxed guy on the planet" but that may be the concussions talking.

I see Archuleta filling Todd Johnson's shoes nicely. A frustrating amount of missed tackles and too-late coverages, along with some eye-popping hits. We can hope Archuleta's aim is better and a higher percentage of those are jacking up the opposition, where Johnson preferred laying the best lumber on Peanut Tillman's head.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Briggs To Take Out Loan To Cover Cell Phone Bill

Jeffrey Lebowski or Dude, if you're into the whole brevity thing, was once a roadie for Metallica on the Speed of Sound Tour. "Bunch of assholes" was his take on the experience and the band many years later.

Apparently as long as there is an outlet with an accredited NFL talking head, Lance Briggs will be making weekly stops on his Sound of My Own Voice tour, a tour that also appears destined to make an asshole of the main act.

Last week, Briggs picked up the blower to run some demands and threats past the Bears through ESPN's Len Pasquarelli.

This week, he moved down the list of desperate-to-make-news voices and gave FOX's sideline troll Jay Glazer a call.

No doubt Briggs and agent Drew Rosenhaus knew that a splashy headline would result, despite the lack of any new developments whatsoever.

"I am now prepared to sit out the year if the Bears don't trade me or release me," Briggs said via cell phone Monday. "I've played my last snap for them. I'll never play another down for Chicago again."

Yeah, and...? What do you mean you're "now" prepared to sit out the year? You said all of this last week. And now you're back because a week went by and nothing happened. Guess what,
Lance and Drew, nothing's going to happen this week either. So get the phone list together for your next weekly appearance. NFL Network next week, Don Banks the following week.

Slight correction, something did happen after last week's threats, Briggs just didn't like it. From the Tribune:

Combative, Briggs added in a brief conversation on the phone that he didn't appreciate Chicago fans and media reacting negatively when he made public his stance last week. He says he was tricked into doing an interview on WSCR-AM 670 and resisted speaking to local reporters because of the way he has been portrayed.

Ah, we Bears fans should apologize to Briggs for reacting negatively to his statement that he'd do everything in his power to never play for our team again. He thinks because his agent had him carefully differentiate Bears management from Bears players & fans, and state which one he's got a problem with, we're supposed to swallow that whole and storm Halas Hall as one!

I also chortle a little at him saying he was tricked into doing an interview on the local station. I'm guessing the trick is that he was asked questions, rather than being allowed to unilaterally spout his side to the reporter he called.

Briggs seems to be bummed about facing the reality I stated last week. His options are to play out the last year of his contract, as he's known for over a year would be the case by virtue of turning down the Bears' long-term contract offer, or sit out the season with no pay. I guess it is new this week that he's come to this realization.

"People think I can't afford to sit out the year, I can take out loans to get me through that year just fine because eventually I'll have a deal somewhere. There are things I can do to make sure I'm fine financially if I sit out."

Wow. I'd be surprised if there really were "people" who thought "Ha ha, Briggs is screwed. He either plays for the Bears or he becomes homeless and trolls alleys for his dinner." I think most of the people figure you might still have some of the $700K + playoff bonuses etc. that you earned last year.

You're very much missing the point and, frankly, you're making an annoying ass of yourself with these weekly shout-outs. You're just the latest to try and exploit the Bears' mostly deserved public relations problems, but you're misoverestimating your hand -- once again a hand that was dealt over a year ago -- and bringing the negative reaction on yourself. If anything, the national reaction has been more negative than the local.

Perhaps it's just a coincidence among Rosenhaus clients, but like Thomas Jones did in demanding a trade, Briggs says it's not all about money, it's about leadership and not having to share it with anyone.

"I've talked to Brian about it. I'm a competitor and I want the same thing he has. I've learned a lot from Brian as a player and a leader and I eventually want to be 'the man' somewhere. I want to be like him and have everything put on me too. Obviously I'll never be able to do that there."

Briggs can't be "The Man" with Urlacher around. Jones couldn't be "The Man" with Benson around. What a bunch of bullcrap, as Jerry Angelo would say. In my estimation, a good start to being a leader is demonstrating that despite the inherent nature of the business, where you compete with others on your own team for your position, the ultimate goal is working together to be the best team. Leaders worry about being The Man relative to the guy they're matched up against on fall Sundays and helping their teammates to do the same.

Just to put a fine point on how useless Briggs's weekly self-serving phone calls are, he concludes:

''That's not to say I'm going to sit out a year, but I'm prepared to do that if it comes to that. There are a lot of different scenarios that could happen. The best-case scenario is that the Bears offer me a long-term contract at market value.''

So much for "I'll never play a down for the Bears again." Glad you're definite. Glad you're not just throwing crap at the wall every week until you feel public opinion has swung your way. Each time you say you'll never play for the Bears again, we become even less interested in your plight, and it becomes even less likely the Bears will be able to trade you. Good plan though.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Everybody Hates the Big Ten

I figured before I'm asked to piss a couple bucks away on the NCAA Tournament, a request I proudly comply with, I should probably watch my first college hoop of the season.

I don't know where the time's gone that it's March already. I do know that 2 years ago the Illini were one of the most likeable teams in the nation, and that I could see going into this season that I hated all the players who were still around.

Anyways, I finally watched about 15 minutes of hoop action before they announced the brackets. Big Ten Final: Wisconsin vs Ohio State. From this, I only picked up one insight and I'm sure it will be integral to my bracket success.

Everyone knows about this look-alike situation.

Wisconsin's Kammron Taylor and Chris Rock

It blew my mind some when Ohio State brought in their own Chris Rock look-alike.

Ohio State's David Lighty and James Tyler Williams

Williams plays young Chris Rock on "Everybody Hates Chris," which is actually a pretty funny program over on the C-Dub.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Because You Never Hear About the Patriots

Nothing to do with the Bears, but I found myself pretty fascinated reading about how the apparently much-hated Ron Borges of the Boston Globe got suspended for 2 months for ripping off a Seattle writer's column word-for-word.

This page covers how it played out and gives the kid responsible a slap on the back.

To plagiarize the whole thing myself, this is where the guy pointed it out on an ESPN board. Patriots fans started firing it off to media outlets and the rest is history.

Not sure why I'm pasting the original story and the one Borges published as his own, they're word-for-word, but these were the two links Seattlestatman posted to kick all of this off.

I didn't give myself a full history lesson on Borges. Along the way, I saw an item about how a Boston radio station instituted a policy against having any Boston Globe writers on after Borges called Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu "a fat pussy toad" -- he may or may not have been simply repeating an insult George Steinbrenner had used.

Apparently everyone hates him because he has a vendetta against Bill Belichick, ever since he cut Drew Bledsoe, who was Borges's inside guy.

He sounds like another Mariotti, having written one column about what a great acquisition Adalius Thomas would be for whoever lands him, then ripping the Patriots to shreds after they signed Thomas just a day or two later.

Just keep shouting "strong opinions" and maybe no one will remember when you start shouting down your previous one. As long as you're shouting, it's all good. Unless you're so goddamn lazy that you just cut-and-paste someone else's column and hand it in with your name on it. The Assman will take you down to Chinatown!

... Check that! The Seattlestatman will take you down!

At least Borges had better taste in ripping someone off than the fat fool who got busted for plagiarizing Peter King during Super Bowl week in 2005:

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

You're the Man Now, Ced

While Drew Rosenhaus client Lance Briggs was on the blower with ESPN making it harder for the Bears to trade him, Drew Rosenhaus client Thomas Jones was being traded to the New York Jets.

The wheels were in motion long ago. Rosenhaus had Jones raise a stink last offseason, with 2 years left on his contract.

He and Lance Briggs both sat out voluntary workouts, Lovie demoted them to 2nd string, and then real workouts started and all the idiocy ended. But the revolution had started.

The seeds were watered immediately after the Super Bowl, Rosenhaus confirms, when Thomas Jones told him: "Get me to New York." And so he goes.

No matter how you spin it, regardless of the factors involved, your traditionally offense-starved franchise up and trading away its workhorse for the past few seasons is disturbing and will give you a case of the whiplash.

Despite Jones's productivity, the Bears weren't trading from a position of power here. There was no chance the 28-year-old Jones was going to be a Bear in 2008 and beyond. The Bears' options were trading him or watching him walk away after one more season.

When I heard that the return was the 37th pick in the draft, I thought that was pretty good. A high 2nd rounder seemed about right. Then again, the Patriots just traded 2nd and 7th round picks to division rival Miami for Wes Welker, a WR from the Tommy Waddle mold.

Unfortunately, the Bears didn't even get a 2nd rounder for a far superior player to Welker. They didn't get any additional draft picks. All they got was a 26-slot bump-up in the 2nd round of next month's draft, via a pick the Jets had swindled out of the boneheaded Redskins. The speculation has already started that they'll package the 31st and 37th picks to move up in the first round, perhaps to draft Lance Briggs's heir.

It's not a good situation, gang. It sure would have been nice to make one more title run with Jones. They've been working it pretty well, burning up the treads on Jones's tires while preparing Benson to be the workhorse. One more year of that would have been nice.

But I can understand getting something now and eliminating one of the sure distractions, which seem to be piling up daily. Obviously, you wish they could have gotten more. Marv Levy and the Bills are in a similar situation -- I'll officially be upset with the Bears if Marv rounds up a nice package for Willis McGahee.

Many of the experts have opined it's a good deal for both sides (especially the Jets), given the circumstances. Adam Schein of NFL Network, on the other hand, wrote "This is just a wretched deal for Chicago. Somebody call the authorities. The only thing missing is a gun and a mask."

One overlooked factor that makes this deal even worse for the Bears is compensatory draft picks. If the Bears had kept Jones through 2007 and then let him walk, the refrain that they'd be left empty-handed isn't true.

Compensatory picks are a bit of a mysterious business in the NFL, even to those directly involved - free agents signed and lost, as well as the league's evaluation of players' performance, determine which teams receive compensatory picks. So there are no hard, fast rules.

However, the basic premise is that teams who lose more value in free agency than they bring aboard are rewarded draft picks in rounds 3 through 7, based on the value of the players who were lost. To cite a familiar example, when the Bears signed John Tait away from Kansas City, the Chiefs were able to cheer themselves up with the 3rd round draft pick they received as compensation.

Only a guess, but I'd have to think the Bears would probably have gotten a 3rd or 4th round pick when Jones "walked away for nothing" after 2007. I'm not much of a draftnik to know point values of picks, but moving up 26 spots in round 2 doesn't seem much more valuable than a brand spanking new 3rd rounder, in addition to the usual complement of picks.

To close the book on Jones, he worked hard and resurrected his career in Chicago. By all accounts, the cats liked him and he was a good leader who will be sorely missed.

What's Tom going to do with the orange Ferrari, with orange piping on the seats and orange wheel covers? I guess I'll have to watch he and brother Julius's "Keeping Up With the Joneses" reality show to find out. Or perhaps I won't.

For the Bears, it's full speed ahead with Cedric Benson. A cynic would point out that Thomas Jones was one of the few Bears who showed up for the Super Bowl; meanwhile, Cedric Benson showed up on the sidelines for good, early, after a fumble and another injury.

There's no proof that Benson can carry the load without getting injured, even with a competent backup in Adrian Peterson shouldering some carries. He has, however, shown more and more encouraging signs as his playing time has increased.

While Tom Jones's pass-catching skills will be written about as a big loss that Benson can't make up for, the fact is that Jones gained just 150 yards receiving each of the past 2 years. Pretty paltry numbers, really, which is an indictment of the offense and playcalling more than anything. Hitting the RB is a pretty good plan when your QB can't hit a bull in the ass with a banjo some days, but that's another matter. Point is, the pass-catching void being discussed is almost non-existent.

I'm most concerned with the leadership void. Benson has openly expressed his disappointment with being behind Jones on the depth chart since he got here, stating in the papers that there was obviously an agenda outside of playing the best players.

In the meantime, watching Benson was like watching John Winger in Stripes: the troops would come roaring out of the tunnel, and Benson would come strolling out a couple minutes after everyone else, then meander about in a coma of self-pity before retiring to the sideline to sit by himself until called on.

It's all yours now, Cedric. I even put my favorite picture of you top and center and de-Jones-ified the blawg as if that guy never existed. Point your spite that way, son, and let's get after it!

The rest of us will resume worrying which other pieces will be sacrificed until the bill is paid on the next big expenditure, Tommie Harris. Just so his agent isn't Drew Rosenhaus... Doh!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Briggs: "Not one more day" with Bears

Trouble's brewing with Lance Briggs, which isn't surprising considering that he skipped some early activities last offseason over dissatisfaction with his contract.

Sitting home wearing the franchise tag, Briggs evidently got fired up when seeing what could have been and still will be for him: free agent LB Adalius Thomas signed on with the Patriots for 5 years, $35 million, with $20 million guaranteed.

Whatever prompted it, Briggs isn't mincing words here:

"It's a great bunch of guys with a great future, but I can't see myself as being part of that future anymore. Whatever options are available to me, I'll take advantage of them. But going back and playing for the Bears again, no, I don't see that as an option. Not one more day. Not at all."

I'll have to look into this some more to see exactly what options are available to Briggs. My knee-jerk reaction is that he doesn't have much of an option but to play out his last season at $7.2 million.

He doesn't have to be happy about it. He can skip voluntary workouts again, he can skip mandatory workouts and draw fines, but I don't believe that sitting out the season disgruntled is an option. If I'm not mistaken, if he sat out the season, it wouldn't be like going to sleep for a year and waking up a non-franchised free agent -- it would be groundhog day, waking up a year older and still tagged by the Bears for a year.

He's not holding too many cards, in other words, it's about how much incentive the team has to make other arrangements in order to avoid distraction. This is the way of the NFL and Jerry Angelo is aware of it, having expressed that he will do everything he can to accommodate Thomas Jones's trade request. He'll probably be saying the same of Briggs very soon, if he hasn't already.

This is Rosenhaus-induced rhetoric, but Briggs goes out of his way a little to smack the "organization":

"The Chicago Bears team? The coaches, players, city and fans? Yeah, I could stay there forever. I love it. But the Chicago Bears organization? I don't want to be there anymore. I won't play for them and I'll do everything in my power to keep from playing there."

Also, there's no quote about it, but Len Pasquarelli refers to the fact that Briggs mentioned Ron Rivera's departure as a reason for dissatisfaction. (Then again, Len has Briggs as an Arizona State alum instead of Arizona)

Ultimately none of this qualifies as news, but it's still unfortunate to see Briggs getting after actively burning the bridges like this, the bridges every Bears fan hoped would lead to a long-term contract.

I say it's not over. I can understand Briggs's frustration -- it's the same reason I hold out some hope. For the last couple years, the Bears have talked constantly about and done their best to bring everyone back. Continuity, loyalty, and all that. That's much easier to do when you're talking about signing fullbacks and fourth safeties to long-term extensions. A cornerstone, high-quality performer's contract has needed attention for more than a year, and now continuity might be taking a back seat to "a tough business decision" to let him go, despite that the Bears could scrape together Adalius Thomas money.

The most annoying aspect I'll brace myself for is rehashing the notion that came up last offseason and will come up again: we can't pay Briggs more than Urlacher.

Which is nonsense - one has nothing to do with the other. Market's gone up and, in fact, Urlacher has said on several occasions that he would restructure if it meant keeping Briggs.

Despite that, it does look like things are setting up where we'll be reading Briggs's departure story and it'll say: Damn Rosenhaus asked for more than Urlacher money and we all know how crazy that is. Unfortunately, many Urlacher diehards will agree and give the Bears a pass on this one.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Marching In Like a Lion

Some thoughts of my own and pointers to others while watching the Windy City snow blowing sideways.

Denver Trades Tatum Bell & George Foster to Detroit for Dre Bly

In like a Lion, indeed. Off the top of my head, CB Dre Bly was possibly the best player on the Lions. There aren't that many good ones to choose from. He was in Detroit 3 years and made 3 Pro Bowls. But Matt Millen trades him away for an RB that Denver was going to cut anyway and an offensive lineman.

Millen obviously hasn't heard the old adage that if the phone rings and the Caller ID says it's Shanahan, don't answer. The same goes for the phone ringing and the nameplate on your desk saying Matt Millen. Although interestingly, in doing some diligence, I punched up and that guy loves the move! Who'da thunk it?

The spin I heard elsewhere is that getting the lineman in trade puts Detroit in position to take either Brady Quinn or yet another WR with the #2 overall pick, instead of Tackle Joe Thomas outta Wisconsin.

Why does it seem like Mike Martz is the coach and GM of this team?

Shanahan Again: Broncos Trade Jake Plummer to the Bucs for a 4th-Round Pick

It's Shanahan. Don't answer. Oh nooooooo! The Buccaneers, fresh off re-signing the spleen-less and muscle-less Chris Simms for $5 million for 2007, trade a 4th-round pick to Denver for the soon-to-be-cut Jake Plummer. A 4th-round pick?

The Buccaneers appear to have been saved the embarrassment. Of all people, it's Jake Plummer who refused to pick up the phone when Shanahan called. He has reportedly chosen to retire somewhere other than the armpit of Florida, hence nixing the whole deal. Jake's always had the behind-the-back pass in his arsenal, so he may still have a trick up his beard to stay in the league on his terms.

Pep Talk

With Wade Wilson mercifully gone, the Bears need a QB coach to work with the three drunken gunslingers. Hard to find much talk about it, but I'll cast my vote nearly as cluelessly as I did on Tuesday.

I like the looks of Pep Hamilton. Good name, good face. Pep was with the Jets for 3 years working with QBs and WRs. He spent 2006 in San Francisco, working under Ron Turner's brother Norv as Assistant QB Coach.

It's a simplistic view, but young 49ers QB Alex Smith was a complete wreck in 2005 -- 1 TD to 11 INTs and 11 fumbles in 9 games. In 2006, Smith wasn't great either, but 16 TDs, 16 INTs, and 10 fumbles is a huge improvement. I'm down with Pep and hope to start seeing him on the Bears sideline.

Free Agency Is Open!

I'd be more wild about free agency if the Bears figured to be big shooters, like the Niners and Browns will reportedly be. I've read enough sourpuss columns about how crappy free agency is nowadays. Writers are pissy that the NFL is making so much money that the salary cap increase means team can retain their stars. As a result, there aren't enough sexy names out there to write about.

The most useful, non-whining free agent list I've read was by the sexy Len Pasquarelli. I'd be surprised if the Bears end up signing any of these guys. The one I've heard as being on the Bears short list is offensive lineman Eric Steinbach, whose contribution to the Bengal police blotter was a drunken boating escapade. Pasquarelli talks about his ability to play Center, Guard, or Tackle, and Jerry Angelo loves that, but I imagine he'll be out of the Bears' price range.

I got a little rush of adrenaline when Joey Porter was released by Pittsburgh, but even 1 year of Urlacher, Briggs, and Porter is too good a dream to be true. Even if he came, any number of gun-happy Bears are a risk to pop a cap in Joey's keyster. He'd call somebody a fag and it would be a whole mess.

And a Historical Note

The Bears go into the season assuming that franchise-tagged Lance Briggs will be a holdout, as will Thomas Jones again, if neither is traded before it comes down to that. I've also heard that the Bears are looking to trade Adewale Ogunleye, which is slightly ironical in that they acquired him largely because of his unhappiness as a restricted free agent whom the Dolphins wouldn't sign long-term.

But bringing it back to Briggs, here's a pretty interesting read about the first ever franchise tagged player. None other than good ol' #58 Wilber Marshall, in 1993. Guys weren't big on being franchised back then either, and they fought the power.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Lovie Long Time

What a relief that all the nonsense can now stop. Lovie Smith's signed on, for market value. Though it got much less press, Jerry Angelo also had his contract extended. Both guys have earned their extensions - one needs to when the McCaskeys are signing the checks.

So everyone can stop wetting themselves now. Even after Lovie said last week that he wanted to be in Chicago and was confident a deal would get done, many were still up in arms.

The really irritating and disappointing aspect of all this hand-wringing was the speed and fury displayed in taking the agent's side on everything. What happened here is that Lovie's agent, Frank Bauer, wasn't getting the contract extension done, so he slapped the Bears in the face and did his negotiating in the newspaper several days in a row.

Pardon me if I don't join the anti-Bears rush to get behind the slimy agent's unfair tactics. If you were the Bears ownership and the agent called you out in the papers, would you run right back to the table and give him whatever he was asking?

It was only last week when Bauer said: "We're not close, we're not encouraged and based on where talks have gone recently, Lovie will be a free agent after next season. It would take an unforeseen breakthrough for this to get done."

I'd like to hear what the unforeseen breakthrough was. He practically shouted "Fire" in a theater last week, now the deal's done? Right, because negotiations work better when both parties are involved, not a blood-sucking lawyer using the media types to stir up nonsense.

The most irresponsible, divisive and unconscionable ugliness this dragged out was written by Carol Slezak of the Sun-Times. I don't even suggest dignifying it by reading the column. See what I mean?:

"The picture that has emerged, while still blurry, gives rise to a legitimate question: Is Smith's race a factor in the Bears' hesitancy to pay him? If Smith, an African American, were white, would the deal have been done long ago?"

There are less than a handful of minority coaches in the NFL, the Bears hired one of them, but CLEARLY they're a bunch of racists. That explains everything. Case closed.

For christ's sake. And if you kept reading, you'd learn that further proof of the obvious racism is that Brian Urlacher got a big, long-term contract while Lance Briggs got stuck with the franchise tag. White on black.

I'll believe it when Briggs's agent calls the Bears racists in the paper.

One other point about the Lovie hand-wringing: the press went crazy screaming about what the Falcons paid new NFL coach Bobby Petrino -- $4.8 million a year. When the reports said the Bears were offering Lovie $4M, there was Petrino-based outrage. What a slap in the face to Lovie! As Doug Buffone would say, "Aw, stawp yourselves."

Arthur Blank and the Atlanta Falcons are idiots, gang. The number that's way out of whack is Petrino's. For example Cam Cameron, once a very hot college coach who has NFL experience, including running a mildly successful San Diego Charger offense, will be making $2.5M with the Dolphins.

It's the Falcons fans who should be outraged that they don't get more for $4.8 million. They get some joker out of Kentucky with no experience, just the idea that the layer of bong resin on Michael Vick's brain is thin enough that he should be calling his own plays.

Kudos to Lovie and Jerry on their paydays. Jerry, last draft was about icing the cake, Lovie's going to need some meat and potatoes this time around to keep his Bears future bright.

And while I don't go in for Hollywood much around here, kudos to Alan Arkin on the Best Supporting Actor award. Nice jawb! To borrow my favorite quote of Arkin's from Little Miss Sunshine, and point it at the muckraking Chicago press:

We can tell em all to go to hell.

Go to hell, Slezak.