Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

27 Sep 2005

TMQ: Avoid Postmodern Food

TMQ is down on Brett Favre. He also proposes a radical change to the salary cap, discovers paper food, and asks why on earth any broadcaster would refer to Cadillac Williams as "overrated." He's really got a point on that one.

And please, please, please, don't make this the "rip on TMQ" thread. If you don't like the column, don't you have anything better to do with your life than post here every week about how you don't like the column?

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 27 Sep 2005

142 comments, Last at 03 Oct 2005, 8:58am by Aaron


by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 4:50pm

"In Larry Bird's final game, the Celtics were knocked out of the playoffs as Bird played poorly(...)"

Why does he lead with the NBA? Not his forte. Bird had a degenerative spinal condition. He could barely move.

by Israel (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 4:53pm

Roethlisberger is not 0-2 against the Patriots and 17-0 against the rest of the NFL. He is 1-2 against the Patriots and 16-0 against the rest of the NFL.

by Phil (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 4:53pm

Carl, I'll say this before you make 75 posts - you're allowed to make more than one point in a post. You don't need a separate post for every little thing. Try combining 2 or 3 points into one post.

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 4:56pm

"But he hasn't seemed like much this year, with the Pack 0-3."

Is that Favre? Or is it a truly horrific defensive line, combined with a more than mediocre offensive line and a key injury to his receiver corps?

Just a hunch. Favre will end up throwing more to compensate for the points his bad defense will inevitably surrender. When he picks up a few more TOs, everyone will say he's done.

In fact, he's trying very hard to compensate for problems the GM saw coming, but couldn't (or didn't) address. I won't blame Favre for absolutely pathetic pass rushing or an O-line that's one or two injuries from competing with the Vikes for worst in the NFC.

See also, Baltimore.

by zach (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:00pm

this week's edition of TMQ seems to have been rushed through the editing process, although the column didn't come out until around 1:30 in the eastern afternoon:

well nevermind. i was going to provide quotes but apparently the article has been edited post hoc.

by Ben (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:02pm

Michigan State ran up the score? A bit, perhaps, but it was against another 1-A school... a Big Ten team, no less.

Also, the main weapons were taken out (most notably Drew Stanton) after the score became large.

Most importantly, MSU's 2nd string QB left the team, so it was our former 3rd stringer that got playing time... shouldn't he deserve to throw some passes?

This is especially important in light of MSU playing Michigan next week... last year, Stanton got hurt halfway through and we had nobody to fall back on. I think it's perfectly reasonable to have your backup get prepared for an possible emergencies by throwing passes against another Big Ten team, especially one that beat you last year.

One final point... if YOU had Michigan State's defense, would you do anything BUT run up the score every chance you had?

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:04pm

"Only in America could someone who has just been chosen first in the NFL draft feel sorry for himself."

But doesn't the draft place an unfair limit on the ability for a player to make as much money as possible anywhere he wants to?

If I'm trying to get a job flipping burgers, am I told that I have to work for a franchise that's proven to be particularly inept at achieving or sustaining excellence? Let's say Burger World's San Diego restaurant grossly underachieves, to point that's so statistically meaningful the only possible explanation for it is front office mismanagement?

Joe Burger Flipper doesn't want to work for minimum at BW San Diego. He wants to work for minimum at NY BW, and at least compete for the Burger Championships, in the largest media environment in the free world, thus making him a rich flipper.

Or, in other words, what if a young up and coming columnist wanted to work for TNR, but he was drafted instead by Swank.

"But my bon mots are worthless at Swank!" he would yell.

by Israel (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:05pm

Zach (#5) is correct. My post (#2) is from before they corrected TMQ. It is now OK.

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:06pm

"The last time a Brett Favre team was 0-3, Favre was a sophomore at Southern Mississippi."

Good thing that Green Bay is hosting Southern Miss this Sunday. This streak will now end!

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:10pm


Please don't tell me he went there.

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:10pm

"If only the Bucs had gotten him at the employee price!"

Well, they did get him for a price that's artificially low because he plays under the auspices of a rookie contract, as mandated by the CBA.

In an uncapped year, he probably would have gone for more money, to the team of his choice.

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:15pm

"while the text makes her seem a vacuous dolt."

Reflexive anxiety? No comment.

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:16pm

"Sean Combs declares that 'a person's eyes reveal the truth, that's why I wear shades.' This leaves us to wonder what he's hiding."

It ain't the "P." That was getting between Diddy and his fans.

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:18pm

"than to waste the opportunity on a likely-to-be-meaningless field goal. Boom goes the kick, and New Orleans went on to lose 33-16."

So, you would have felt better had the 'Ain'ts lost 33-20? Did you lose on the O/U? Or was this a spread issue?

by BillT (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:18pm

re: the intro. Apparently not.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:23pm

I thought this was footballoutsiders.com, not all-sanctimonious-Carl-all-the-time.com.

by Goober King (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:27pm

When TMQ says that his column reduces productivity on Tuesdays, I don't think this is what he had in mind...

by Mike W (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:27pm

ENOUGH with the Favre-love. I've been a Packer fan since I was seven (that's a long time, kids), and I say enough. Why must people look at their shoes and mumble when he throws into triple coverage? Do we ask for the defense to run ridiculous all-out blitzes because, gosh, they suck and they have to do something? Actually, Slowik did that last year - bad idea. When Favre screws up, it's a screw up, period. A turnover is always bad, folks. If your only option is a high-risk, caution-to-the-wind strategy, fine. But though the Packers are poor (I predicted 4-12 to my friends prior to the season) they can win some games by eliminating turnovers, hoping the young secondary and guards improve (they can only imporove), etc. It's not like Favre has super powers and is the only one who can thwart some intergalactic evil. He makes boneheaded plays. They matter. Being a "gunslinger" doesn't mean they don't matter, or aren't his fault.

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:31pm

"The Progress Paradox."

Please buy my book. Now back to football.

For those who haven't read it, TPP starts off with a fervid declaration that life is better than everyone thinks it is.

Then it devolves into a long scold about how we should be grateful for what we have, Panglossian best of all possible worlds, yada yada yada.

By the end of the tome, he's hectoring the reader with barbs that punctuate his real theme: Well, what is wrong is your fault, and it's your fault because you complain so much about it. Go buy something, damn it.

He caps it off with a Christian sermon that seems to allude to the Second Coming.

Just remember this when you read what he says about "greedy" players who don't want to work in San Diego.

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:33pm

"Yahoo! note: Tuesday Morning Quarterback wishes to enter this derby by offering a season-long generic prediction. My prediction is, Home Team Wins. I will take the home team in every remaining NFL contest this year, and see if I can beat the Yahoo! experts or the consensus of Yahoo! users."

Didn't King Kaufman do this? Protect your Salon copyright, King!

by Harry (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:34pm

"Only in America could someone who has just been chosen first in the NFL draft feel sorry for himself.�

What Carl said. But also, why "Only in America"? Is GE claiming that only Americans suffer from an inflated sense of entitlement? I could easily produce a long list of Argentinian soccer players, British rock stars, French fashion designers and the entire population of Germany to refute that assertion.

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:37pm

"The Texans benched Phillip Buchanon and Jason Babin, recently acquired for high draft picks."

Look at the Texans' O-Line. The crew is composed of highly drafted castaways from other teams that didn't want to retain them.

Look at the second- and third-stringers. Recruited by Houston.

My prescription has been to start playing the new, cheaper kids this year to season them up for the next. Stick a fork in this bunch. They ain't doing the job in Houston.

Next year, salary dump. Hire an outside consultant to map out the free agent linemen you want to SUPPLEMENT your now more experienced younger guys you haven't exactly developed.

by zach (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:38pm

apparently carl has not heeded the advice in #3 above.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:40pm

11 out of 22 posts (assuming this one ends up being #22) and counting...

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:42pm

"'It's his contract year,' sportscasters knowingly say when an NFL player performs well knowing his deal will be up at year's end."

Actually, statistical work ups of player performance refute this myth (and this has been run in the MLB, NBA and NFL by consultants for the teams).

In reality, some players perform better than previously (and against the median) statistically, others stay about the same, and still others decline.

But there is no statistically relevant swing either way. In sum, players kind of perform like they always did. And they do so the following year, too, after the new contract (which might be up or down compared to the last one).

Sportscasters say a lot of things. Somethings this involves a bunch of crap about "establishing the run" or how "defenses win championships."

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:44pm

Replying to a different quote from the article in 10 different posts is not conducive to conversation. It stifles it because everyone has to wade through them all.

Come on, Carl. I'm at the point of believing that you're replying like this solely because you know people have asked you to try not to do so, and you know it annoys the posters here, and that's childish.


by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:49pm

"'So why not make every year the player's contract year by awarding only one-year contracts?' asks reader Dan Langille of Truro, Nova Scotia. Alas, chaos would rule -- general managers would be unable to plan, and there would be so much player movement that fans would be turned off."

OK. GE has now proven he knows nothing about how the finances of the NFL work.

Because of the way deals are structured, there are no guaranteed multi-year terms (except for a certain kicker who plays outside Boston). When you see a newspaper report about a "7-year deal," immediately discard the memory. It's meaningless.

In reality, every player (except for a certain kicker) plays on a one-year contract. If he's injured, if the quality of his play diminishes, if he pisses off the GM or the coach, if there's a rookie who can do what he does for slightly less, then he's gone, and his termination pay will be handled by the language of the CBA.

One of the reasons players play injured is because they know if they don't it will cost then a lot the following year when the team reconsiders his availability. For every game a player misses, on average it's a $70,000 cut in wages the following year after the contract is renegotiated.

This is a one-way negotiation. The player cannot argue that he performed better than was expected and deserved more (see Owens, Terrell).

Today, slightly more than 50 percent of a player's real wages come from signing and other LTBE bonuses agreed to at the beginning of the deal. The annual wages in longterm deals are not going to be paid.

That's why it is so ludicrous to say that GMs would lose the ability to plan for the future. They willingly lose that whenever they sour on a player!

It's the player who can't predict his future, unlike his peers in MLB or, to a lesser extent, the NBA.

by zach (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:50pm

come on guys. carl obviously looks forward to this every week. who are we to deny him his favorite afternoon activity?

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 5:54pm

"Here's my idea. Do away with the prorated signing bonus. Make the salary cap the actual amount spent in a given year, with no deferred accounting."

Or, do away with the half the real wages of players.

He wants to keep the salary cap, but not extend to players the right to leave the team for more money or to avoid going to a team through the draft. The teams would exercise complete control over a player's annual wages, but pretty much keep them on as "Franchise" tags.

Let's all say it together: RESERVE CLAUSE.

Fair enough. You do that, GE. And I can guarantee you the players will strike (for good reason), file anti-trust torts and (the NFL fears this) WIN.

Enjoy your football when the players form their own league.

by BillT (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:01pm

Seriously Aaron (on the off chance you actually see this) why do you post these?

by Vash (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:02pm

In an uncapped year, he probably would have gone for more money, to the team of his choice.

If we ever have an uncapped year because of CBA problems, the NFL will be F###ED.

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:03pm

"Replying to a different quote from the article in 10 different posts is not conducive to conversation. It stifles it because everyone has to wade through them all."

I don't exactly hear any interesting discourse in here, T, except for some guy kvetching in iterative posts about iterative posts.

"But for every salary-cap action, there is an equal and opposition reaction, with each of these teams having to dip way under the cap in at least one recent season."

Not so. First, the players' share of DGR has risen slightly over the last few years of the CBA, so there's more in the pool to share. Second, the revenues themselves have risen, most especially for the next CBA because of the recent TV deals.

Rather than some Newtonian twist on salary cap mechanics, we've seen rising salaries (lift all boats), but most especially for signing bonuses for stars (or, as NFLPA would put it, a two-tiered system, one for starters, the other for benchers, which I dispute).

In an uncapped year, you would see a shuffling of salaries higher as those starters gravitated to teams willing to offer more generous terms over a longer span in a more open system.

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:03pm

"But on the whole, teams don't outspend the cap; they underspend it."

Actually, research that's available publicly by NFLPA completely disproves that. One of the great secrets about the so-called "hard cap" is that it's not all that hard.

by David (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:05pm

And please, please, please, don’t make this the “rip on TMQ� thread. If you don’t like the column, don’t you have anything better to do with your life than post here every week about how you don’t like the column?

Carl, I’ll say this before you make 75 posts - you’re allowed to make more than one point in a post. You don’t need a separate post for every little thing. Try combining 2 or 3 points into one post.

Repeated for (doubtlessly futile) emphasis.

by Mahatma Kane Jeeves (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:05pm

Exactly how many Carls are there here?

by Xao (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:08pm

I'm not exactly a huge TMQ fan, but once you've stooped to deliberately misrepresenting Easterbrook's intent, it might be time to let it go, Carl.

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:08pm

The reason players want their money guaranteed is because of the high injury rate.

If you had to bank on collecting an annual salary instead of some guaranteed cash, you wouldn't make much money. For most RBs, it would be about 2 years or so of payouts.

Now, a lot of that is covered in the rookie contract part of the CBA. But what about the guy who has finished his third year, and he gets to start as a "feature back" the next?

WOuldn't he rather be a Lamont Jordan, and get his cash up front realizing that three out of every RBs get seriously injured every year? Or Maurice Clarett, willing to sacrifice the body for payments along the way?

by Tim (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:09pm

Carl, that's a gross overstatement. First of all, GMs don't predicate their advance planning on the assumption that all the players they sign will go into the tank and they'll be inclined to cut them. Even if it's not always the case, front office personnel believe they make wise player decisions.

Furthermore, a player doesn't just get cut if he has a 7-year contract and plays poorly in his first year, or even gets hurt. Teams aren't willing to embrace the signing bonus acceleration, so they keep them around and fret and gnash their teeth until releasing them becomes more palatable - but by that time they have an embarrassment of bonus money and a few years' huge salary.

It's also not the case that the players, were they given their druthers, would choose universal one-year deals. That's the argument from Richard Berthelsen, lead counsel for the NFLPA, against guaranteed contracts - no team would be willing to take the risk of a guaranteed long-term contract in the injury-rich NFL, so all the players would have one-year contracts. Then the players would effectively bear all the exposure to injury, because if they did get hurt their teams wouldn't be forced to hope and expect that they got healthy by the next season - and they wouldn't get paid as well in any event.

The NFL is not the gross, exploitative cartel that you make it out to be. Yes, there are some definite anti-competitive measures and characteristics in the NFL's rules, most notably the barrier to entry into the league, but the players are paid substantially, relatively fairly, and above all on a collectively bargained basis.

It's plainly difficult to defend the employment rights of extremely rich men who play a game they love, albeit a brutal game which often leads to negative health complications in the future, for a living. There's no good normative financial argument to be made on either side, either for the players or the even richer owners. The most reasonable course, it seems to me, is to recognize that the collective bargaining agreement designed to make everyone involved rich and happy in fact does so, and makes everybody else (at least the NFL fans) happy.

by zach (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:11pm

"I don’t exactly hear any interesting discourse in here, T, except for some guy kvetching in iterative posts about iterative posts."

your "Replying to a different quote from the article in 10 different posts" and then pointing to the fact that there is, in fact, no interesting discourse occurring, proves his point.

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:12pm

" In general, the signing bonus (plus other quirks we can skip here) means NFL contracts guarantee about one-third of their face value. That is, an announced "five-year $30 million" deal guarantees about $10 million. So suppose there were no prorated bonuses, but one-third of NFL salary was guaranteed."

Actually, bonuses make up over half of a player's real earnings.

"while avoiding the complacency caused by the NBA's all-guaranteed deals."

But nearly a third of all NBA contracts are NOT guaranteed (most people don't realize that). It's different in the MLB.

Why not just go to an uncapped system and let the teams arrange with the players the best deal for both parties?

by Tim (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:14pm

Just for the record, I was responding in # 38 to #27.

by Otis (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:15pm

Carl, here's an idea. Read TMQ's column, and write your own column in response. Aaron could post it. You make some good comments, but it'd be nice to have them in one place so we could respond to them. Here you have 20 different points. It would be more interesting and more readable in a single column response.

I do appreciate the fact, though, that your points are intelligent, thought-out, and with supporting information. Which is why I think your responses would make an interesting column.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:20pm

RE: Carl (#7)

I'm going to have to disagree slightly with your analogy, here. BWNY might be competing with BWSD for the annual burger championships, but they're competing with the Chicken Shack and Pizza Planet for revenues. The health of the entire BW empire depends on all of their national restaurants being a high quality product. If six people die from food poisoning at BWSD, then that's going to affect national burger consumption, no matter how many people tune in to the Burger World Championships. It's a little unfair that Joe has to work in SD, but the fact is that's the franchise which needs him the most. He'll be able to leave in four years for the BW franchise of his choice, but for now, the chairman of BW just wants to make sure that the BWSD owner has a chance to improve his franchise.

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:21pm

"Furthermore, a player doesn’t just get cut if he has a 7-year contract and plays poorly in his first year, or even gets hurt."

If he gets so hurt he can't play, there are a number of mechanisms to reduce compensation or a hit to the salary cap, including PUP or IRR.

Again, the language in the CBA controls the payout. It largely depends on how badly the player is hurt and what the terms of his deal are.

"Then the players would effectively bear all the exposure to injury, because if they did get hurt their teams wouldn’t be forced to hope and expect that they got healthy by the next season - and they wouldn’t get paid as well in any event."

Or, as others would argue, by shifting the onus of preventing injuries away from the players to the teams through guaranteed contracts (which the football franchises, like MLB teams, would have to insure), would lead to lower injury rates.

Why? The free market (the costs from insurance carriers) would impede the wasteful use of talent, which becomes more fungible under the dicates of the CBA and lower compensation for rookies through the artificial draft.

The NFLPA believes in guaranteed contracts, ironically. The negotiators believe, however, that they can't deal for them because the owners would something big back -- something like free agency as it currently exists, something more akin to the NHL system of "owning" a player's rights for a very long time.

That, to the player's reps in the union, is even worse than non-guaranteed contracts, especially because they've been able to weasel out the upfront money.

That's why this is so odd: "Then the players would effectively bear all the exposure to injury."

They bear all the exposure now. The few players who can afford to insure themselves also are the ones that are the highest paid, and the highest paid play positions that suffer the least injuries (QB, O Line, etc.).

By forcing the owners to take on the real financial risk of injuries, many players believe the owners would begin to work to reduce injuries. New equipment would be created. New ways of playing that promised to cut the injury rate would be instituted (more run, less pass). Penalties would be enforced differently, and rules rewritten to better address inconsistencies (less roll- or cut-blocking, or leg whipping, etc.).

Or so players say.

by Joey (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:30pm

Here's an idea: Much like Open Discussions for the weekly games are now split up, let's do the same for TMQ--one thread for just Carl, the other for everybody else.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:31pm

Aaron, please? We're never going to be able to have another discussion about a TMQ if Carl decides to take his personal vendettas into the thread every week, using of >50% of the posts in the process.


by rk (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:34pm

I have a question about what happens when a player goes on IR. Actually two questions. Does his salary still count against the cap? And does he still get paid his salary as if he were playing every week? I hope someone knows because I haven't been able to figure it out.

by Justus (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:36pm

So...voluntary self-restraint didn't work. What's Plan #2?

by Joe Flipper (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:36pm

OK, IG. Let me answer for Carl, who seems to be posting away oblvious of the hoi polloi in here.

The only place to buy professional football in the fall is the NFL. They control the airwaves, the venues paid for them by taxpayers and a lot of other revenue streams.

So in that sense, you are right. Burger World is different than the NFL because BW must compete against Burger Globe AND Chicken Shack, although it's fair to say that NFL also must compete against NASCAR or NHL or other entertainment outlets, but not another NFL.

But the basic economic scheme is the saem. If I'm a worker and I am a promising flipper out of school and I want to grill for the highest wages I can, why should I be told where to go? Or that I have probated wages, some mere apprentice when I'm already one fine flipper? What if I don't want to flip in a city I hate? I don't much care for Boston. Why should I have to flip in Boston? Why can't I flip in Pittsburgh?

The draft is an artificial barrier on wages. So is the CBA's salary and benefits cap. So is the CBA's payment system for injured workers (of course, so is the Workers' Compensation scheme for injured workers that's dicated by state law and regulation, but I don't want to talk about that).

Tim might not want to get excited about guys making $400,000 per year, but I think there's a basic human dignity that accrues to any form of labor. And I sure wouldn't want to be told that I could only make so much, in such a place, for so long, and that if I signed a contract that promised me a different way of earning my living it could be yanked away every fall.

Personally, that would blow.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:38pm

Hey, you don't have to read or respond to Carl if you don't want to. It's not like he's trolling - he's making logical, factual arguments against the linked article. That's what comments sections are for.

That said, Carl, it is just a wee bit irritating to see half of the comments in the thread by one person.

by Coach (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:39pm

"factors in the 1,696 active players on NFL rosters (...)"

With mid-season free agents coming in to replace injured players and the elevation of practice team athletes, the real number is about 2,100 - 2,200 professional NFL players every season.

by Dennis (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:51pm

Tim might not want to get excited about guys making $400,000 per year, but I think there’s a basic human dignity that accrues to any form of labor. And I sure wouldn’t want to be told that I could only make so much, in such a place, for so long, and that if I signed a contract that promised me a different way of earning my living it could be yanked away every fall.

Personally, that would blow.

Nobody is forcing these guys to sign these contracts. They are choosing to work for an NFL franchise and these are the terms they are offered. If they don't like them, they don't have to sign.

by ABW (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 6:52pm

Re: 40

Um, TMQ is saying that roughly a third of the contract is guaranteed. He's not saying anything about what percentage of a players earnings come from guaranteed money. You, sir, now look very petty, and more than a little bit silly for misreading something you quote in that very post.

Why not go to an uncapped system? Competitive balance. In an uncapped system, how many games would Jacksonville win against Dallas? I know it's not directly beneficial for the players to have a cap. But the league has decided(rightly or wrongly) that it wants to be able to expand into smaller markets. That means making smaller market teams competitive. If you've got a way to do that without a salary cap, I'm all ears, but an uncapped system is just bad business as far as the league is concerned.

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 7:07pm

"Does his salary still count against the cap? And does he still get paid his salary as if he were playing every week? I hope someone knows because I haven’t been able to figure it out."

This is going to be complicated, and sort of sound like legalise, but I'll do my best.

The IR (usually) counts against the cap THAT SEASON.

Let's say Joe Linebacker gets hurt. He can't perform, so the team puts him on the IR, effectively ending his season.

For the sake of argument, we'll say it was an accrued season and the guy played more than six games for three years in the NFL.

The team can do two things: They can either pay him the full terms of his wages for that season or negotiate with him a settlement that will pay out and leave them some wiggle room.

Under the IR requirements, the BOSTON TUCKS start to pay out fourteen $50,000 installments for the rest of the season.

BOSTON TUCK's GM goes to Linebacker's agent and says, 'Hey, how about some relief here? We're getting whacked on the cap because we're paying out a bunch of money."

Linebacker's agent says, "No way. You negotiated for 16 payments of $50,000 per game, and we're holding you to that."

In the meantime, Linebacker goes under the knife. Halfway through the surgery, he suffers a stroke.

He wants to come back to the Tucks and win one more for the gipper, and they want him back because, well, $50,000 per game isn't that much in the NFL.

Linebacker had another roster bonus coming the following season -- $1 million dollars.

The Tucks determine that even though they love Linebacker's past skill, heart and pluck, they're not willing to bet his knee will hold up through a season dominated dysfunctional clocks at away games.

So, they cut him around June. The Tucks tell his agent that they are terminating his contract "due to unsatisfactory skill or performance as compared with that of other players competing for positions on the club's roster."

(that's boilerplate)

By the terms of the CBA, they must pay him $87,500 in severance pay, an amount based on his years of service with the NFL.

As the conditions of the contractual injury protection provision were met, Linebacker also gets $25,000 in a pro-rated signing bonus installment agreed to three years ago.

That counts against the cap, too. It's what is called "dead money" because Linebacker isn't on the team, but the team is still paying for him.

The severence pay doesn't count, however, and the team can remove his expected wages from the salary cap formula.

by Lionel the Lion Fan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 7:10pm

In an uncapped system, how many games would Jacksonville win against Dallas?

How many games did Oakland win against the rest of the American League this year? Or St. Louis compared to the Mets?

The Yanks and the Sox spent a fortune, and yet isn't Cleveland going to take one of their places in the playoffs?

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 7:12pm

"Um, TMQ is saying that roughly a third of the contract is guaranteed. He’s not saying anything about what percentage of a players earnings come from guaranteed money."

No s&%&. What I'm saying is that his proposal is ludicrous because players are doing better than that now with the current system (despite his argument to the contrary). What incentive would a player have to scrap the plan that gives them more than 50 percent of their real wages for one that might give them a lot less.

by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 7:15pm

I generally find Carl's posts well thought out and posing interesting points. I just wish there weren't so many of them, or that he would engage in discussion of one topic at a time...

I agree, yes, the salary cap and the draft do create artificial constraints on a free market. If you're a University of Chicago disciple, then you are going to think that is bad. But I do not subscribe to the "free market is always best" theory.

The fact is, people are dumb. Look at how the owners of the NHL backed themselves into a financial hole. Look at how successful purely free market driven policies were at preventing, or even getting us out of the Great Depression. Not to get too technical, but there are many situations when a Nash equilibrium (everyone doing the best thing for themselves while assuming that everyone else will do the same) is a sub-optimal solution. Sometimes, some controls on the market are necessary in order to prevent bad situations.

Hypothetically, suppose there was no cap and no draft, just free agency. For the sake of argument, even suppose that all markets were the same size. Some teams would be more successful than others. By and large, promising rookies would want to play for these teams more, and would probably take less $$ to play for them than for the poorly managed losers. Experienced veterans would probably follow the same logic. Hence, the successful teams would have more money to spend on more players and would continue to be successful. No doubt some of the less successful teams would throw more money than they could afford with fiscal responsibility at free agents, forcing the more successful and richer teams to match the offers to maintain their edge, and the owners would drive themselves into bankrupcy. Even if they did not, the successful teams would stay successful, and fans of the unsuccessful teams would lose interest. Without revenue sharing, this would compound the disparity between the good teams and bad teams, and with revenue sharing it would cause a net dropoff of total revenues (since many teams would now be perennial losers and there would be a net reduction in interested fans).

Now consider that all markets are NOT the same size, and that some teams (New England, Philly, Washington, Dallas, etc...) would have an automatic advantage over other teams (Indy, Buffalo, Arizona). Furthermore, if a teams revenues were tied to that team's performance (as might be the case in some cities), this would compound the problem.

Basically, I see an elimination of the draft and the cap as bringing football to a state similar to major league baseball, only without the statistical misconceptions the A's have used for years to stay competitive. The rich teams would win all the time, by buying championships, and the poor teams would compete for the few remaining playoff spots only to get stomped on by the rich teams.

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 7:19pm

To everyone who follows the cap, I apologize for being intentionally simplistic in that scenario involving the Tucks and Joe Linebacker.

by zip (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 7:21pm

Re: #55

No one says that the team with a higher payroll always beats one with a lesser payroll, but there is a correlation between payroll and wins.

From the link on my name:

"In May the Best Team Win, Andrew Zimbalist's fine book about baseball economics, the author found that the correlation between payroll and wins started to rise significantly around 1993. Before that time, the R-squared between payroll and wins floated between 0 and .3. Since then, it has floated between .2 and .6. In other words, the ability of teams to buy the pennant has really jumped during the last decade."

The numbers beat the anecdotes, I believe.

by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 7:25pm

My understanding (granted, I just finished Moneyball) is that the only reason why teams like the A's and the Indians are successful in MLB is that they have figured out that conventional wisdom for evaluating players is often wrong, and have come up with superior metrics and scouting techniques for evaluating young players. Therefore, they can identify major league talent more easily and earlier (when it's cheaper) than other teams. But it's catching up to them. A couple of the big market GM's (Theo Epstein in Boston, for one) have also subscribed to the same theories and are starting to compete with them for the same players. Notice that the A's have been dropping off in the last few years? Plus, even if they can field major league starters on a shoestring, they can't afford the depth other teams can. The A's lost Crosby and Harden to injury for a bunch of August and September, and now look to miss the playoffs. The Yankees, Angels, and Red Sox all lost equally quality players, but had the expensive starting caliber bench warmers to stick in. Cleveland is still in the running because they largely dodged the injury bug.

But that "parity" if you want to call it such, wouldn't work in the NFL. By and large there are no secret statistics (like OBP in baseball) that a poor but clever team can find to identify good football players earlier than all the big market teams. Or if there are, the big market teams have more resources to figure out what they are than the small market teams (look at how much the Patriots spend on their scouting department, and how successful they've been!) So yes, eliminating a salary cap would have dire consequences on the competitive parity of the NFL.

by HLF (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 7:29pm

Joe Flipper et al,

The NFL (AND the players) make their money in a variety of ways -- biggies being selling the broadcasting rights (on a temporary basis), ticket sales, and merchandise sales (and tax payer subsidies).

The NFL owners AND the players as a whole have more money to divy up when they are able to increase those revenue streams. Competitive balance seems to be overwhelmingly the thing that seperates the NFL from any other major sporting league in this country, and seems to be what's lead to the NFL's revenue pie growing by leaps and bounds every year. NO one, not owners nor players, makes more money *unless* they find ways to make that revenue stream grow. Happy fans seems clearly at the center of any revenue growth agenda. Paying off T.O. and selfish twits like him does not seem to advance that agenda or help the players or the owners grow revenue.

At the start of each season, every single team really does have a chance to succeed, and a crappy team can be turned into a champion in two years or so. No other sport has this to anywhere near the extent the NFL does. The eternal optimism of the NFL fan differs markedly in it's realism to any optimism felt by fans of the KC Royals, Pittsburg Pirates, or countless other teams me-firsters like some here would have the NFL emulate.

We are a self-centered country of babies whining every more loudly about what we don't have, willing to destroy what we do have to get it if only we can have ours for a year or two (not to get into politics, but there are parallels).

Instead of amazement that a fella can make tens of times a well trained professional's wages per year for playing a little boys' game, we whine that perhaps someone else, somewhere, is making a couple of dollars more.

Instead of looking for ways to give back to what has given us so much, we look for ways to destroy that competitive balance and industry that spawns ever greater wages for all players as well as coaches and staff.

Does Carl or T.O. or others of that mindset give any thought to limiting players wages and using the ever increasing earnings to supplement the support staff that makes prima donna's earnings possible?

It seems to me to be all about how we're entitled to everything, gimme gimme gimme!, and nothing about giving back, or what's good for many, or everyone making more through restraint, or how fortunate we are to live in a country and at a time that makes millionaires out of ingrates playing a little boys (beautiful) game.

Carl, we get that you hate everything about the NFL's CBA, and you think the NBA is the cat's meow. Thanks for repeatedly sharing. Libertarians don't want to pay for police and fire, or sanitation, or road building, and in Carl's dream free market, they won't have to.

Hopeless Lions' Fan,

by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 7:29pm

This kind of speaks against my own arguments, but now I'm wondering:

In an uncapped system, how DID Buffalo compete against the likes of Dallas?

I know, technically they lost, but they certainly were a premier team from a very small market in an uncapped system for years at a time...

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 7:34pm

As I've mentioned elsewhere, MJK, shared revenues between the franchises are more important than the cap at keeping teams competitively equal.

This is uniquely possible in the NFL because of the high percentage of shared revenues. Ironically, this has not helped about a third of the franchises achieve anything close to parity in wins, playoff contention or the like.

This the Paradox of the Putzes. Or, the "Stupid Factor." Smart teams will tend to perform well more often than not (Indianapolis, Boston) and stupid teams (the Bengals under the Brown family, the Saints under any family) won't.

In that sense, Lionel, there will always be a place for the Oakland Athletics of the NFL (see Colts) no matter the salary constraints. They will always find value where others don't.

Now, at this point some might say, "OK, but at least the salary cap has proven a good tool for giving every team an equal share. There can be no excuses about competitive imbalance when everyone can spend about the same amount."

That's true. But this is where I get on my high horse.

The problem is that the players bear the onus of remaining competitive. Because of shared revenues, teams are well compensated no matter how poorly they perform. While the Bengals, more often than not, can poop on their fans year after year, the well run teams like the Pats get the same amount.

Oh, yeah, and players in the playoffs get about $16,000 per game. That's good to most workers, but in the NFL it's chump change. And teams actually end up spending more money than they make in the Super Bowl run because they get no extra infusion of cash for winning. It's all shared.

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 7:36pm

"At the start of each season, every single team really does have a chance to succeed, and a crappy team can be turned into a champion in two years or so. No other sport has this to anywhere near the extent the NFL does."

Actually, studies by consultants for the franchises have disproven this point. For about a third of the teams, they have performed so poorly below the norm that fans might as well expect them to lose.

Again, I blame this on the fact that owners have no financial incentive to win championships because of the shared revenue system.

by Nurse Betty (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 7:39pm

----Does Carl or T.O. or others of that mindset give any thought to limiting players wages and using the ever increasing earnings to supplement the support staff that makes prima donna’s earnings possible?----

Yeah, like a doctor is going to start surrendering his big bucks to me because I do all the grunt work for him.

I thought the fastest growing segment of NFL wages was from coaches and all those support staff people you talk about? You know, the people who don't have their wages controlled by a CBA?

When the NCAA tried to curtail the rampant increases in spending for coaches, they took the organization to court and won. Today, the NCAA can't tell universities what to pay their employees.

by Save The Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 7:44pm

Everyone needs to lay off Carl. What difference does it make whether Carl makes a lot of posts, or different people all post the same comments? Absolutely none. A few times Carl has already made a comment that I was going to make. So how would Carl refraining from making that post make any difference whatsoever? I find this whole juvenile finger-pointing hilarious. "Carl get a life stop complaining about TMQ". How about get a life, stop complaining about Carl complaining about TMQ. Good fun.

by ABW (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 7:48pm

Carl, your comment honestly does not make any sense to me at all. You don't seem to be responding to TMQs argument at all, simply dismissing it out of hand as ludicrous, but maybe I just can't follow your argument.

TMQ is saying get rid of prorated bonii and guarantee 1/3 of the contract. So Joe Linebacker is getting a 5 year $30 million contract with $10 guaranteed. Now instead of getting $10 million in bonuses and $4 mill a year for 5 years under the current plan, he gets(making hypothetical numbers up here) a $3 million signing bonus which hits the cap that year, a year of guaranteed salary at $5.4 mill, most of a second year guaranteed(but not all of it) and 3 years of unguaranteed salary at $5.4 mill under the TMQ plan.

Now I can see how you can say, well, this is putting the injury liability on the player so he won't see as much. According to you, about 1/2 of earnings are bonuses, so let's go with your number and guarantee that. Now Joe gets a $3 million bonus, 2 and a slightly less than half years of guaranteed salary, and another 2 and some fraction years with an unguaranteed salary. Why is this so much worse than the current system?

TMQs point was that you can guarantee money in other ways than a bonus, and if you set it up right it will still give the players a reasonable slice of the pie. Why not use them instead of a bonus, and try to limit the boom-and-bust cycle that hits teams? Is there something innately good about signing bonuses that other forms of guaranteed salary can't match?

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 7:48pm

"But that 'parity' if you want to call it such, wouldn’t work in the NFL. By and large there are no secret statistics (like OBP in baseball) that a poor but clever team can find to identify good football players earlier than all the big market teams."

Actually, there are "secret" statistics in football that the dismal science can perform for them, which is why they ask us to do it. I do it for free. Sue me.

I'll give you a good case for parity in the NFL: The old NFL, which competed against the AFL for talent and revenues.

Without a lot of shared revenues from generous TV and licensing contracts, teams competed against each other with a great deal of parity. The real reason some teams won more often than not was that they were astute enough to put together winning teams and using a system that didn't allow free agency to keep them.

The game, of course, was played differently. It was a running game. So to cut down on the risk of injuries, teams would stockpile elite running backs (using halfbacks, fullbacks, etc., for a more nuanced game) and offensive linemen, players who would apprentice together for years to maximum effect.

Again, the onus was on the team, then, to reduce injuries and win. And the system they started did just that.

This changed with the reforms in the rules after 1978, of course, which were designed to feed a different, more lucrative revenue stream that was shared -- TV.

With the rising injury rates, followed by a successful players' lawsuit demanding free agency (which was later codified in the CBA of 1993), this was inverted. Teams no longer had a reason to stockpile great o-line players. This has led to a "snaggle tooth" line on most teams, with highly paid pros lining up with poorly paid and largely unschooled rookies.

But that's one of the consequences of the CBA. There were trade offs -- some good, some bad -- for the owners, players AND fans.

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 7:57pm

"Why not use them instead of a bonus, and try to limit the boom-and-bust cycle that hits teams?"

Actually, I don't buy the "boom-and-bust" myth. It's untrue. Certain teams keep booming more often than not under the CBA (Pats, Colts, Broncos) even if they don't win the Super Bowl. Some teams "bust" more often than not under the CBA, no matter what they spend on salaries (Saints, Chargers, Bengals).

I'm beginning to think that GE really started with the "30 percent" business because he overheard someone talking about the "30 percent Rule." It's something completely different, but it's still interesting.

And it actually might mean something! Let's say you're a player who is entering his fourth year in the league in 2005-06. The "30 percent Rule" says you can only make up to 30 percent more in salary than you did in the previous year for the final capped year of the CBA.

This doesn't include signing bonus escalators. If you haven't checked lately, 2006 is the final year of the CBA, so you might start hearing about this on TV or reading about it in sports pages.

by Master of Ceremonies (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 7:59pm

From 3:50 until now...over THREE hours straight! It's gotta be some sort of record for dominating a single thread. Ladies and gentleman, I give you...Carl! And he did it all while battling a nasty case of carpal tunnel and without a single bathroom break. This section of the show brought to you by Depends. Remember: Those who live to post need Depends the most.

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 8:05pm

The reason why I dispute GE on the 30 percent business, A, is simple.

He doesn't offer a system that would offer more of an incentive to a player. Would they attain free agency sooner? Could they negotiate with a different team every year?

There's a reason signing bonuses exist. The first, of course, is the injury issue, which is vital to players who literally risk their limbs on every play.

Here's where it becomes confusing: The reason backloaded contracts exist is because teams don't want to bear the burden of risk in a high-injury business. They don't want to have to pay out cash to someone who is a star today, a cripple two years later.

So they've made contracts easily voidable, with reduced payouts under the auspices of the CBA's language.

The contracts are backloaded because they don't seriously believe, say, Joe Linebacker will pick up the $6 million bonus in his sixth year. He doesn't have that kind of shelf life.

That's why I think it's odd when I see that general managers can't plan for their teams. Of course they're planning! You don't think they really are going to pay that $6 million, are you? They're going to cut him before they have to do so.

For the players, the signing bonus becomes the controlling mechanism to decent compensation. They know that the likelihood of them surviving more than a few years in the NFL are slim. So they try to latch onto the upfront cash and forget about the backloaded amounts.

This problem only surfaces when a uniquely gifted and durable player such as TO is on the cusp of a big payout. He's worth a lot now. He's probably (or, he thinks he's probably) worth a lot of the free market.

The Eagles can cut him next year before his bonus kicks in. But he can't cut the Eagles and get a better deal now.

True. He signed the contract. He's agreed to make his living in a world controlled by a union-negotiated CBA (which is what keeps the anti-trust watchdogs off their backs).

But in an uncapped year, the union will decertify itself. And I guarantee you TO will go to a team that will pay him a lot more upfront.

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 8:12pm

GE also forgets there are other barriers to the player artificially constructed by the CBA.

The team can renegotiate a player's contract after the season. But a player can't turn to the team and say, 'Hey, I want more money' until at last a year after it's signed.

Once the regular season starts, no renegotiations are allowed at all for the current year.

The rules are even tougher on those in their rookies contracts.

There are a lot of itsy bitsy rules like that that add up.

Would GE end all that, too?

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 8:20pm

The other thing GE mentions is some notion of "arbitration." This already exists to a certain extent.

Let's say Joe Linebacker has an LTBE for making weight before camp, attending offseason workouts, etc. Things solely within his control to do, and Joe has always done them in the past.

The Tucks pay JL for those LTBEs.

Now, let's say in 2006 JL expects to make an extra $250,000 if he records 8 sacks and another $100,000 if he plays in 48 percent of the team's defensive plays for the season.

Is that Likely To Be Earned? Depends. Did he play in about half of all defensive plays for the previous four years of his NFL career? Did he bring a nagging ankle injury to camp this year that might portend his inability to make that? Maybe he didn't even play last year because he was on the PUP, and there's some question about his ability to withstand the rigor of another year in the NFL.

An arbitrator will be assigned to determine if it's a LTBE or not likely to be earned.

by Barry Sanders (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 8:23pm

Don't forget, Carl, that teams can ask for money back if you fail to show up and they've paid you a large signing bonus.

If you fail to show, all the pro-rated money goes back into the pot for the other players.

by ABW (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 8:30pm

OK Carl, you think he's trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist. I can buy that, but I'll note that there was really no way for me to discern this argument from your comment in #40.

I do like TMQs idea of guaranteeing a fraction of contracts, although I would make some significant changes - for instance, guaranteeing a portion of each year's salary instead of a portion of the entire contract. I think that creating an incentive to reduce the amount of signing bonuses will make it easier for players to get contracts signed and might be a better solution to the problem of absurd rookie contracts than simply slotting all of them.

Re: many of Carl's other comments about competitive balance

So Carl, I take it you think post-season revenues should not be shared, or there should at least be some kind of financial incentive for making the post-season(and possibly more for winning). Do you think that this could lead to a scenario where certain teams make the playoffs and then are able to use that financial incentive to give themselves a competitive advantage next year? The financial incentive seems to me to be potentially creating the exact kind of dynasties that the current salary cap was supposed to discourage(which, incidentally, it has failed miserably at, c.f. Pats and Eagles).

by ABW (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 8:31pm

Doh. In the time it took me to write one post, Carl's written 4. I knew I should never have started arguing with a professional writer...I'm simply outgunned.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 8:38pm

Carl, I refuse to believe that you post this for any other purpose but to hear yourself talk, and hope someone argues so you can hear yourself talk again.

That's okay, you're a journalist, and that's a pretty useful trait for a journalist to have.

However, if you want to be journalisty, write a damn article and post it. The comments are for discussion, which is a 2-way process. Your comments tend to be disproportionately 1-way, and you'd be arrogant to assume that its because we're just dumbfounded or in awe of your wit and rhetoric.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 8:44pm

And in true Carl style I will write each seperate thought in a seperate post.

The idea that Carl's posts don't prohibit me from discussion are actually incorrect. Discussion forums like this that aren't threaded tend to thrive on a limited number of conversations at a time that do a fairly equitable job of sharing "space" based on the popularity of the topic.

Unfortunately, its not hard for that correlation to work in the opposite way by simply overwhelming the forum with posts on a single topic or train of thought, thus making it far more difficult to parse out secondary conversations, leading to their eventual extinction.

by Artemis (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 8:45pm

The only reason i come in here on tuesdays is to read carl then reread TMQB. I like the carl.

He has explained in other posts that he only does it to make people rethink "myths" about the nfl. I dont mind the multiple postings because it makes people discuss the points he raises.

When they start discussing the discussing maybe it is time to lay off carl.

by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 8:46pm

Dude's just spent 3 1/2 hours on this thread. I'm guessing the more accurate term would be "unemployed journalist." Or at the very least, "underemployed."

by King Him (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 8:50pm

And please, please, please, don’t make this the “rip on TMQ� thread. If you don’t like the column, don’t you have anything better to do with your life than post here every week about how you don’t like the column?


by Jason (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 8:54pm

It's ludicrous to say that football's salary cap/revenue sharing does not make the league more competitive than other sports. Look at Baseball where the Braves have won like 14 consecutive division title and the Yankees have won like 8 in a row. No team in football has a streak that even remotely matches those.

In Baesball, poorer teams even with superior talent evaluation cannot really compete against the other teams, especially over extended periods. For example look at the superior talent the Expos developed and then were forced to get rid of. Yes in football teams like the Cardinals tend to stink, BUT if they do ever develop star players they can actually keep them (offer them as much money as other teams) as opposed to Baseball. Teams like the Brewers can afford maybe 1 Superstar (Sheets) any others they would have to let sign elsewhere in a few years after their contracts expired. In contrast, look at the Packers who were able to sign Favre to a Mega Deal, gave big money to Freeman, spent a ton on Reggie White, Ahman Green, Leroy Butler, and many other Pro Bowl caliber players. Football atleast offers all teams a respectable chance to keep the star players that they are able to develop

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 9:12pm

Too many aspects of this thread to address, but just a few points.

1)Carl is correct that sharing revenues is far more imporatnt to competitive balance than a salary cap.

2)Carl seems to operate under the assumption that there is some external force which prevents players from demanding a higher percentage of their compensation in the form of guaranteed money. He has previously implied to me that the owners are engaged in collusion, but I've yet to see any evidence. If an unrestricted free agent player is unhappy with the injury risk he is shouldering, by all means he should demand a larger signing bonus. Whether his demand is met will be a function of how willing an owner is willing to shoulder the risk. Sounds like two parties attempting to find a mutually satisfactory arrangement to me, unless , again, Carl has some evidence that the owners are colluding to prevent an unrestricted free agent from negotiating for more guaranteed money.

3)I'll ask carl once again, as the Red Sox head into the last week of their season, with the distinct possibility that they may miss out on the playoffs altogether: Would not Red Sox fans have been better served if Manny Ramirez had a financial incentive to pinch hit when his manager asked "pretty please"? Or is it Carl's contention that manny's knowledge that he could not command his current 20 million per year from another team would have zero impact on his behavior, if that 20 million was not guaranteed?

3)On a non-football note, assigning causation to the Great Depression, and the failure to get through it more quickly, to "free market economics", is inaccurate (to understate), unless one has a theory of how incompetent central bankers engaged in centrally planned monetary policy, and foolish legislators erecting trade barriers, somehow constitutes "free market economics".

by Baseball Bob (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 9:16pm

Now wait a minute, Jason. First, more teams in MLB make the playoffs than in the NFL.

If you measure from 1994, the year the salary cap began, on, there are NFL teams that appear to be "dominant" in that they make the playoffs about every other year.

Carl is right. Pats, Colts, Broncos, etc etc etc

There are a class of underachieving teams that apparently fail no matter what they spend or do not spend on the cap. Carl is right to point out teams like the Chargers, Bengals, Bears etc etc etc

If your argument was true, jason, would not you see more parity in the NFL, not less? How can you explain a third of the teams not performing?

Will Allen has a plan to remedy this. He proposes that a part of the shared revenues go to teams that compete for championships. I like that idea.

As fans of the NFL, shouldn't we try to do something about the San Diego Chargers of the world?

Here's SD since the salary cap came into place --

SD since 1994 (the first year of free agency contracts under the 1993 CBA):

Team W L T Perc Pts Opp Pts
San Diego 8 8 0 .500 322 290
San Diego 11 5 0 .688 381 306
San Diego* 9 7 0 .563 321 323
San Diego 8 8 0 .500 310 376
San Diego 4 12 0 .250 266 425
San Diego 5 11 0 .313 241 342
San Diego 8 8 0 .500 269 316
San Diego 1 15 0 .063 269 440
San Diego 5 11 0 .312 332 321
San Diego 8 8 0 .500 333 367
San Diego 4 12 0 .250 313 441
San Diego 12 4 0 .750 446 313

So, in 12 years under free agency and the other items of the CBA, the Chargers have managed three winning seasons

It does not look good for 2005.

Is that the "boom" and "bust" of salary cap management? Or just a bad front office that does not know what to do with its players?

by Ima Pseudonym (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 9:22pm

There is an easy solution to handling Carl threads - do what I do and scroll through the list counting "Carls" and if the ratio is too high go do something else.

Carl - a suggestion, since you seem to like to hear yourself talk, why not just carry out the whole discussion, writing replies to your own posts and signing other names. Its win-win: you get to yammer on even more, the rest of us get something that actually looks like a discussion.

by Baseball Bob (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 9:24pm

Here's another team with the same amount into the cap --

2004 14-2-0
2003 14-2-0
2002 9-7-0
2001 11-5-0
2000 5-11-0
1999 8-8-0
1998 9-7-0
1997 10-6-0
1996 11-5-0
1995 6-10-0
1994 10-6-0

Eleven years. Seven winning seasons. Want to take a guess? New England.

by ABW (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 9:24pm

Carl, I really can't respond to all of your points, but I will say that the point of guaranteeing some portion of contracts would be to force teams to take on that injury risk. If the main reason why players insist on large up front signing bonuses is the injury risk, why not guarantee contracts?

by Daniel (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 10:00pm

I have this theory about Carl (hopefully this hasn't been covered in the last thirty posts, because I could barely stomach the first fifty). I think he is a jilted lover. As a schoolboy, he was dating and in love with a girl and TMQ took her away from him. Ever since that day he has bitterly gotten revenge any way he could, going after TMQ first by writing hatemail to TNR and the various other places TMQ has written, next by writing vicious reviews of TMQs books on amazon, and finally by assaulting his football columns here. Carl probably wasted four hours here today. The saddest part is that TMQ took a girl away from poor Carl. Have you seen the pictures? Read the nerdieness?

by Otis (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 10:21pm

I like Carl's posts.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 10:32pm

I like Carl's posts too.

Carl, ignore the dolts.

Everyone else. If you don't want to read what Carl has to say, scroll on down using that nifty little wheel on your mouse.

by Moses (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 10:56pm

TMQ is getting dull. Seriously dull. I hope he gets his mojo back or I'm thinking "columnists need to learn to go out on top..."

by Kami (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 10:58pm

I might have as much expert information and points to make as Carl. I might want to express them to people. But then, I might tastefully write an article somewhere and link to it in a post on the forum. Then, I might wait at least a day for people to actually get a chance to read it, digest it, and respond--certainly I wouldn't make multiple extra posts and justify my complete usurping of the forum on the observation that nobody else is having a discussion..within the first hour and twenty minutes on a weekday afternoon before 5:00PM..
But then...that's because I haven't acted like that in online forums since I was new to the whole idea and fifteen years old, in the internet's formative days. Whether people agree or like what's being said, it's rude.

by Andrew SV (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 11:08pm

Carl, can I be your friend?

by Glenn (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 11:23pm

(Apologies in advance for the length of this comment)

The frequency of Carl postings could pose a problem for Aaron, and while this may be an overreaction, I'd like to hear others' thoughts about it.

I consider myself a pretty average FO reader. Although the DVOA and PAR stuff spins my head, I was only a PoliSci major, and that was in '79, so have pity on me, please. I find the FO topics, readings, links, etc enormously entertaining, informative, and well-written (as I would expect from fellow Brown grads). For well over a year, I have come to FO at least a couple times a day and chime in with comments every now and again. Some get good reaction, some get no reaction, and some get bashed (see this weeks' "No Thanks" thread for the latter), but I at least hope they're semi-intelligent and/or quasi-humorous. As a regular reader, I've come to recognize the names and sentiments of many other regular FO readers and posters in our little cyberspace community.

Of course, I also now recognize the sentiments of Carl, and unfortunately, Carl is starting to drive me away from FO threads. It didn't used to be so bad, but now, with the need to comment on every...single....solitary....point of numerous articles, it becomes an effort to sort through. Oh sure, I could scroll past Carl's comments. That's great in theory. But in reality, its simply a mentally wearing pain in the ass, and these past few weeks, its reaching the proverbial tipping point.

And here's the thing - we know Carl's an intelligent guy who can make good points. But I only have so much time in the day to devote to this website, and I'm now choosing to devote some of my "FO time" elsewhere when I skip the Carl-centric threads.

The arrangement with Fox is about to give an absurd spike to the FO fandom, and while the "new folks" may or may not be interested in all of Carl's comments, I can say with certainty how its affecting me, and how it might be affecting other FO regulars. [Psstt...That's the cue for your comments]. I've tried to be reasoned, and would implore Carl to simply prioritize your smart comments, focus on a few biggies and dont feel the need to comment on everything under the sun, put them into one, maybe 2 posts, wait for reaction from others and see where it goes. In this way, we can focus on the content and not the poster. I wont speak for others, just myself. It would make my FO reading a helluva lot less taxing.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 11:28pm

The constant fawning over Belichick, as if he is the only one who can do certain things in the NFL, is getting grating.

So New England is fielding an offensive line of no-names?

New England has one 2nd round veteran (Matt Light), one rookie 1st rounder (Logan Mankins), one 5th round veteran (Dan Koppen), one undrafted free agent (Stephen Neal), and one undrafted free agent waived by his first team (Tom Ashworth)

Philadelphia has one 1st round veteran (Tra Thomas), one veteran undrafted free agent (Artis Hicks), one veteran undrafted free agent aquired off waivers (Hank Fraley), an essential 1st round rookie (Shawn Andrews), and a 4th round veteran (John Runyan).

Indy has one 1st round veteran (Tarik Glenn), one 2nd year undrafted free agent aquired off waivers (Ryan Lilja), one veteran undrafted free agent waived by his first team (Jeff Saturday), one 2nd year 5th rounder (Jake Scott), one veteran 4th rounder (Ryan Diem).

I'm sure the Eagles and Colts aren't the only other teams with a competent line in a similar situation of not having everyone on the line be veteran 1st round draft picks.

by snik75 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 11:40pm

So, not understanding how the cap relates to trades, here's my question - could the Packers trade Farve and get anything good for him? Certainly there are a few teams with good recievers who need a quarterback (Detroit, Arizona) and we know he's not going to do anyting in the next 2 years with GB. Then they dont have to try to convince him to retire when they are ready to go into full rebuilding mode. I love the guy and what he did, but after living in Boston and admiring the Pats for turning over when turnover was needed, it seems like it would be great to get something of value if possible. But maybe it would cost any team too much against the cap to acquire him?


by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 11:40pm

Re: #94

No, you're not overreacting. I'm not going to claim you speak for everyone, but you certainly speak for me (and I bet a for a bunch of others, too) on this. Well said.

Re: #92

Hear, hear! Especially the first paragraph.

by Kami (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 11:45pm

Re: 94

Probably already obvious from #92, but I agree with Glenn.

by Jim A (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 11:48pm

Re: contract year (#25), NBA analyst and FO guest columnist Kevin Pelton did find some evidence for the contract year theory in the NBA. Click my name for details.

by Ima Pseudonym (not verified) :: Tue, 09/27/2005 - 11:58pm

Re: 94

I'm with you.

(Haven't been here since the very beginning, but I have been around since the Easterbrook Affair. Sad to see the site getting less fun to read at the same time that Aaron finally starts to reep the rewards of all his hard work.)

by Joey (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2005 - 12:12am

Re. 94

I, too, share your sentiments. I don't want Carl muzzled. I'd just like him to take a breath between posts! ;-)

In all seriousness, though, the elimination of the multiple in-a-row posts is pretty close to a must for me. He ran 6 off in-a-row in a 12-minute span and double-posted five other times IN THIS THREAD. Use some bullet points or paragraph breaks and make it a single post. I don't think that is all that much to ask.

by HLF (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2005 - 12:23am

Obviously, I agree with 92 and 94 strongly.

The post on the Chargers above -- in 94 they played in the Superbowl. Shortly thereafter, they had nearly a half decade destroyed by Leaf (and Whelihan, etc..). Because they've stunk for ten years (and a few other teams have as well) is irrelevant -- they have the capacity and the same chance within the system to succeed in very little time. It's a level playing field, more or less, and far more than any other major NA sport.


Hopeless Lions Fan,

by Justus (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2005 - 12:29am

I agree with #94 and #92. Carl is clearly an intelligent, informed guy and I like his occasional on-topic points. But...posts like #1, #10, #12, etc. are a waste of everyone's time. If you want to write a detailed, line by line critique of each week's TMQ then follow the advice in #92, host it on your own website and post a link here. You might even get Aaron et al. to throw it up in Extra Points if enough people are really interested in it.

by Jason (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2005 - 12:40am

HLF I COMPLETELY agree with you. Any team in the NFL has a chance to quickly turn around and develop into a long term success by getting the right people in place. NE was not good for a while, but then they brought in the right people. In Baseball, Many teams (Brewers, Pirates, Royals, etc) have almost no chance at long term success. The very best that they can hope for is that they have a 3 or so year stretch where all of their young players do super well before they all leave to get paid more by a bigger market. Any team the in the NFL can sign their stars (San Diego can afford to keep Brees/Gates/Tomlinson, KC can afford to keep Green/Holmes/Gonzalez, Green Bay can keep Favre/Green/Walker, Cincy can keep Palmer/Johnson/Johnson, Inday can keep Peyton/Harrison/Wayne/Freeny, etc.)

If NFL was set up like Baseball, those teams would maybe be able to keep 1 of those players while the majoirty of the team were either young draft picks or mediocre veterans.

The Giants would feature a lineup including:

P. Manning/Holmes/Chad Johnsn/Gonzalez


The Cowboys would have a lineup including:

Trent Green/James/Freeny/Walker/Wayne

by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2005 - 12:55am

Just dropping in to say that I honestly don't even have the time to read the entire thread. Carl, if you want to have discussion, you have to be less verbose and more compact in your arguments, or else you'll have people that want to discuss (me) being put-off because they give up sifting through a thread that is 50% one person piling on posts to the point that they honestly don't care anymore (also me).

Since I just got back from court, I think it's a fitting analogy: there's a reason each party and counsel is given a set amount of time, and that there is a rebuttal: it's because simply talking to yourself is, quite simply, not adversarial. A lawyer could talk and talk and talk for hours about minor details about things that don't help their point or their argument. The importance is that they hear what the judge says and what the opposing counsel says and confronts that directly in argument, not simply piling things on and on.

Like this post.

Succinct is good,

by Joey (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2005 - 1:53am

TMQ wrote: "Carnell Williams of City of Tampa sure makes you want to buy a Cadillac. If only the Bucs had gotten him at the employee price!

A co-worker told me he's waiting for the GM employee pricing to end because the car he wants actually went UP in price by $2,000 when employee pricing kicked in. Hey, you may work there, but that doesn't mean they're just going to give it to you!

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2005 - 1:55am

I agree with #94. I like some of Carl's points, however, taking control of a significant percentage of a thread is not the way to engender meaningful discussion - particularly when some of the individual sentences he's talking about are in the same sections of TMQ, and could be easily rebutted in a manner of "Quoting the relevent section of TMQ and writing a concise rebuttal", which could even be submitted to FO (or as an extra point).

And having a zillion posts DOES hurt the discussion at large - one simply can't just "ignore them" because the real discussions get lost among the avalanche.

Once Carl finished his three-dozen-post dissection, I thought his replies to people's queries (i.e. once he was talking to others and not "responding to TMQ") he was quite cordial, concise, and understandable. TMQ is the issue, and all of us that have been reading the TMQ threads for the past while know that Carl's issues with TMQ goes beyond simply disagreement and are, for whatever reasons, personal.

(After all, Peter King makes just as many likely-fallacious statements about the cap, but that doesn't result in 40 posts dissecting it page-by-page. Instead, Carl often offers a nicely-explained post going over what's wrong with MMQB - but not a line-by-line analysis).


by NF (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2005 - 2:10am

I agree with whoever said above that the TMQ columns are getting dull. I don't think it's as much a matter of him somehow getting worse at writing, as much as it is that he has probably had more responsibilities and work at TNR and other more academic publications he works on. He does not have as much time to work on the TMQ column, so its quality has declined.

You may wonder, why does he still do it if he doesn't have time to do it right? The reason is that sportswriting actually pays significantly more than the various other jobs that he does, and he does have a family to support, so he continues to write his football column.

On the subject of prorated salary caps, my big question is why do teams give large prorated salary bonuses to free agents that they would have no chance of paying in full with available cap space if several of the prorated bonuses had to be payed in full at the same time, especially with contracts such that the amount payed in the later years of the contract has no real basis in how much the team will likely want to pay the player if they have to keep him that many years later. TMQ actually looked at this from time to time a year or two ago, and found a number of players who were in very large contracts that were back-loaded, with a good portion of the contract to be paid at a time when it was very unlikely the players would still be playing in the NFL.

They end up in a catch-22 of their own bad planning in which they must either give a huge bonus to a player who may not even be starting, or cut him and have to pay out all of the remaining prorated salary bonus. Either way, if several cases such as this come up, they go over the cap and have to cut other players to get back under, as well as not re-signing players who are going into free agency, and as a result, they lose players across the board. Why don't teams actually plan ahead and avoid contracts that would break the bank if they were forced to waive the player down the line, or make it affordable to keep players in the latter part of the contract?

SEE Tennessee Titans, who had to scrap their defense in the 2003 offseason, and the San Francisco 49ers, who lost almost every major starter they had in one year.

by NF (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2005 - 2:19am

Also, TMQ wasn't complaining about people calling Carnell Williams "overrated," he was complaining about him being called "underrated."

From the column: "Justin Morse of Minneapolis spots the latest example. After Carnell Williams' first carry in the City of Tampa-Green Bay game, he reports, the Fox booth crew called Cadillac "underrated." Williams was just the star of an undefeated Top 10 college football team; then selected fifth in the draft; was leading the league in rushing as Sunday's game kicked off. Underrated! What more attention, Morse asked, could Williams possibly have received after just two NFL games -- should he have been knighted?"

by DavidH (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2005 - 3:21am


Now wait a minute, Jason. First, more teams in MLB make the playoffs than in the NFL.

Umm, no. 8 teams out of 30 make the playoffs in MLB. 12 teams out of 32 make the playoffs in the NFL. And wasn't the other poster talking about leading the division anyway?

Then you list SD's record every year and say that only 3 years out of 12 were winning seasons. Well... 4 of them were 8-8, so I could just as easily claim that only 5 years out of 12 were losing seasons. Seriously, if there is "parity" (whatever that is), then shouldn't a team be under .500 about half the time and over .500 about half the time (ignoring the 8-8 years)? I mean, it's a zero-sum game, so you can't be asking for every team to be consistently good.

by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2005 - 3:42am

I only hope that Carl decides to work for the military. Some little known facts about those who work in the military...

We don't get to choose where we live!
------- that's right, we get orders to our next base, and we don't have much say...oh sure there's a 'dream sheet' but why do you think they call it that?

We don't make millions, or even hundreds of thousands, of dollars!
-------- surprise to say, I get paid about 30 thousand a year, and I've been in six years...even though I did get a signing bonus of 30 thousand to re-up two years ago :)

We can go overseas, isolated from our families, work 12 hour days for 6-7 days a week and get shot at!
------- Ok so maybe some NFL players have been shot at (i'm looking at you Porter) but by and large, I'm pretty sure they don't have to deal with this

If we're injured to the point where we can't do our job, we get kicked out of the military!
------- Of course, we will get partial disability for the rest of our lives...doesn't the NFL have something like this? And we of course get all signing bonuses and they are advanced on the government's tab

We get paid using shared revenues!
-------- And on that note, I thank everyone who pays taxes for helping me buy new stuff after Hurricane Katrina :)

by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2005 - 6:03am


by NFL Man (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2005 - 3:12pm

*** HLF I COMPLETELY agree with you. Any team in the NFL has a chance to quickly turn around and develop into a long term success by getting the right people in place.

The NFL franchises do not even buy that. There is discussion with the current CBA negotiations over whether there is a need for more of an economic overhaul of league finances because the owners do not believe that.

Fans might, but owners do not.

by Otis (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2005 - 3:20pm

I am glad to see FO is back up. It was down this morning.

I like Carl and I like his posts. Go Carl!

I checked out the website of one of his detractors, and it is terrible.

At least Carl publishes his studies. They are available online for anyone with a search engine. My wife and I are both big fans.

by Dennis (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2005 - 3:24pm

Re #108: You may wonder, why does he still do it if he doesn’t have time to do it right? The reason is that sportswriting actually pays significantly more than the various other jobs that he does, and he does have a family to support, so he continues to write his football column.

The reason he keeps doing it is becaue of the publicity. It's even on the update crawl at the bottom of the screen during Fox telecasts now - "Read TMQ on NFL.com" or whatever it says. I know I would have a really hard time giving that up.

I don't think his columns are any "worse" or "duller" than they used to be, it's just that his schtick has gotten old and stale. He just makes the same points every week - "don't blitz", "fraidy cat kick of the week", "don't pass on 3rd/4th and short", and so on. And he mixes in the same non-football stuff, usually about science fiction. He hasn't come up with anything new in a couple of years now.

As for Carl, I agree with everyone else. Just let Carl write a "TMQ rebuttal" every week.

by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2005 - 3:59pm

OK. OK. I read all the criticism. I get the points of all the legit posters and not a few of their trollish clones.

I don't have anything against Easterbrook personally, only professionally. I think he's shoddy with his facts, scolding in his prose and doesn't really seem to know all that much about how professional football is either financed or played.

I don't think the same things about King, although I think he's something of a hostage to his sources, and these sources aren't the players.

Maybe I have Stockholm Syndrome from spending too much time in locker rooms. The NFLPA reps have brainwashed me.

As for deciding to work for the military, I did exactly that. I spent my active duty in the USMC. As a combat veteran, I have returned to active service in the PA National Guard (infantry) and go back to Iraq next month.

Spare me any lectures about what it means to fight, go on deployments or the long hours of meaningless crap that's done in the military. It's not like I'll be posting on FO next month in Ramadi, anyway.

The other thing I might add is that although I've had to pull shrapnel out of my fist and ribs, I would NEVER want to be a NFL player. No matter what they're paid.

Too violent.

JimA, I am familiar with the Hoopsworld "study" (it was a very small dataset that largely tracked a few players over a year or so, really a snapshot and not a statistical survey). I've linked it for journalists to use when they're talking numbers and sports.

But you will find a better discussion of the math behind all this in the book Hoopsworld mentioned, "How We Know What Isn't So."

You probably can buy it online. I'm sure it's still in print.

One also must control for injuries, role, new team assignment, etc., that private studies for the league have done. Hoopsworld did not have that internal data.

When this highly qualified regression has been run by contractors (mostly stat professors picking up a few extra bucks), "contract year" spikes have been found to be statistically irrelevant.

This is NOT to say that some players don't "sleepwalk" through a season after they land a big contract, however, just that math won't make the case for a widespread problem here.

When internal MLB, NBA and NFL studies commissioned for various franchises and unions come in strongly that this is NOT a myth and that the behavior can be proven statistically or with other tools of social science, I'll be the first to highlight them.

Of course, part of a counter-argument would involve whether the metrics employed by the contractors were valid, or not. Certainly FO could chime in about that.

The problem is that, for very obvious reasons, these studies are NOT online. Fans need to get out of the habit of assuming that all relevant statistical measurements are posted for everyone to see.

If that were so, we wouldn't have Stats, Inc. or, even, my proprietary work. When you spend $25,000 creating the interlinked databases, you don't exactly like to give it away (even when you're doing pro bono work for ESPN or FO).

By the way, MDS, Pat and JimA, you might find the study linked above (click) interesting. It was forwarded to me the other day, but it's intriguing.

by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2005 - 4:16pm

"He has previously implied to me that the owners are engaged in collusion, but I’ve yet to see any evidence."

Now, Will, you know I never said "collusion" in the same sense as what the word would mean in MLB.

I've simply indicated that the structure of the CBA really allows teams to collude on market price for rookie AND veteran talent without the anti-trust implications that would come from that in a non-CBA world.

There's nothing nefarious about it. In an uncapped year, however, if some or all of the league's owners would try to collude on the price for labor, there would be no CBA to prop up the practice. A court would make it right (see MLB).

SI, Will, also is reporting Upshaw said the new CBA would be in place and up for a vote in December.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2005 - 6:48pm

Everyone else. If you don’t want to read what Carl has to say, scroll on down using that nifty little wheel on your mouse.

Tried that, but Carl kept cropping up.

As for parity, sure the Bengals and Chargers have had problems, but at least Cinci went to a SB in 1989 and the Chargers in 1994. The Royals, Pirates, etc. can't even say that. Also look at the constantly shifting MLB franchises -- Athletics from Philly to KC to Oakland, Braves from Boston to Milwaukee to Atlanta. Expos to DC. Senators to Texas. The NFL has had more stability, though that may be small consolation to Baltimore Colts fans.

by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2005 - 6:59pm

Well, I'll crop up every once in awhile to make obvious corrections.

"a SB in 1989 and the Chargers in 1994"

The first season of the salary cap was 1994, although it was (by and large) a case of teams inherited from the previous state of things.

So if you're going to make the case for the salary cap and parity, you might want to consider how well the Bengals and Chargers have played AFTER 1994!

It doesn't help your point if the Bengals went to a Super Bowl five years before the cap was instituted. In fact, that kind of makes it look as if a small market franchise like the Bengals competed quite well with the post-1978 rules before the cap came into place, and haven't done poo since.

Ditto, the Chargers. The 1994 team (see also Dallas, SF) was put together BEFORE THE SALARY CAP.

In the eleven years after that, the Chargers -- another small market team supposedly aided by the cap -- have been dysfunctional.

There's a larger dataset that's been used to make a point (ironically, at the BEHEST OF THE CHARGERS) that the salary cap has not proved a benefit to about a third of the teams in the NFL. Rather than achieve parity, despite all the shared revenues, they have failed to break even more often than not.

What Will and I have suggested is that there should be some way to prod owners toward winning. The current system does not do that.

And when owners start to find ways around the rigging, to put more of their own unique revenue streams into guaranteed money and luxury tax hits (Philadelphia, Dallas, Redskins, New England, Steelers) the CBA negotiations break down because other owners want their cut.

Would they spend that money on upgrading their team? Or would they use it for other purposes?

You be the coach. Tell me what you think they would do?

by Mr. Obvious (not verified) :: Wed, 09/28/2005 - 7:57pm

I can't believe I just read a post about how the financial structure of Major League Baseball has led to teams changing cities, but the "stability" of the NFL has kept them in place.

Off the top of my head, I can think of the Browns leaving for Baltimore to become the Ravens; the Colts leaving Baltimore for Indianapolis; Tennessee was once the Houston Oilers; Al Davis took the Raiders to LA, then jilted Hollywood for Oakland; the Cardinals left for Arizona; the LA Rams left for St. Louis; and now New Orleans is talking about going to LA.

In my mind, that's seven moves in the last couple of decades, eight if the Saints don't get a new stadium. In place of one of the truly storied franchises that left, the NFL gave Cleveland a bad expansion team, and the other teams split the franchise dough from that city and the Houston Texans.

How did the salary cap affect that? It didn't. Even with artificial barriers on labour costs and shared revenues within the NFL, some owners still departed for even greener pastures.

I will entertain arguments for shared revenues as good because they can preserve a truly wonderful franchise like the publicly-owned Packers in Green Bay.

But please don't try to say that the financial structure of football somehow keeps teams in place, because it doesn't. The Ravens, Colts, Titans, Raiders, Rams, Cardinals and, possibly, Saints are the Hornets/Jazz/Expos/Clippers of the NFL.

by Jason (not verified) :: Thu, 09/29/2005 - 1:35am

I still see no way anyone can disagree with the assertion that teams in football can actually keep their star players in football as opposed to in Baseball. How many superstar players in the NFL even ever enter unrestricted free agency? The vast majority of teams can afford to lock up their stars to mega deals whereas in Baseball that does not happen for small market teams. When was the last time even a rb or qb in his prime was an unrestricted wr? By contrast, in Baseball look at players like A Rod, Clemens, Bonds, etc. It's an almost certainty that if football had an economic system like Baseball that the qb for the Giants would be either Favre or Manning (the good one)

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 09/29/2005 - 2:13am

Carl, if I was a player, I would demand, at a minimum, that the franchise designation be done away with.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 09/29/2005 - 2:16am

Carl, if I was a player, I would demand, at a minimum, that the franchise designation be done away with.

by Flux (not verified) :: Thu, 09/29/2005 - 3:54am

While you guys are improving the server issues and such, any chance of a new comments script? Just having the ability to ignore posts by certain spamming individuals whose four-letter names begin with "C" would vastly improve any number of comments threads.


by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Thu, 09/29/2005 - 4:06am


I misspoke. I don't want you to work AS a military member...I want you to work FOR the military, in the same fashion that you plead for NFL players sakes. I mean heck, you said you were digging shrapnel out of your fists and hands right? I would think you would be for better rights and pay for the military as well then. Why not try to get us some stuff? Heck, if you could make it so that there was even a chance I might go to one of the places that's on my 'dream sheet', I'd be happy :p

And why the marines? You seem smart...should've joined the air force ;) lol

Seriously though carl, if you go, be careful.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 09/29/2005 - 11:43am

"I still see no way anyone can disagree with the assertion that teams in football can actually keep their star players in football as opposed to in Baseball. How many superstar players in the NFL even ever enter unrestricted free agency?"

Jason, when you make a comparison, you have to compare the natures of the sports.

Because of the high injury rate in football, there aren't so many "stars" you would want to hang on to for many years. If the other nine players on the opposing team randomly hit Barry Bonds with their bats before and after he reached the plate, he probably wouldn't have lasted as long as he has.

In reality, the league DOES award a great deal of upfront money to certain players, with sweet wages for the terms of their contracts. They are called "quarterbacks," and the NFL rules have been designed to keep them as protected as possible (despite the recent flux of injuries).

This is relative, because in a league where even 14 percent of punters receive serious injuries every year, violence is routine. It's a grisly reality, and the players accept it.

To be fair, offensive linemen also don't get injured nearly as often as their peers, so they tend to make more money upfront and over the length of their careers.

Running backs? Tight ends? Defensive backs?

Not so much. The median REAL compensation for a QB is three times that of a RB, and far more RBs will get significant playing time in a season than QBs.

But in a game that stresses the pass and pass protection, you're going to have compensation reflect who helps you "win" (again, "winning" is NOT the primary goal of a franchise; it's making as much money as possible).

As long as there is a high injury rate at key positions, you will NOT see teams want to hold on to a great many players for a long time. The salary cap wouldn't make the Tucks want to hold on to a running back slowly getting "nicked" and "dinked" into worthlessness.

Besides, as Will points out (and I completely agree), there's always the evil FRANCHISE tag. That means that when a player has truly achieved excellence at his position and is on the cusp of free agency, ready to cash in and ensure longterm solvency through upfront, guaranteed money, his club can make him a very highly paid man, albeit for only one year.

Now, if you're Edgerrin James, and you play a position that carries a serious injury rate of more than 62 percent, you know the writing is on the wall. Your club doesn't want to give you a longterm deal because you've got a lot of mileage on those legs, and they're betting that you'll last at least another year as an elite rusher.

If you don't? Tough luck! If you get seriously injured, do you think they'll resign you the following year with some guaranteed moolah?

The risk, again, is on the player to remain healthy.

by guy who should learn to use his own email address (not verified) :: Thu, 09/29/2005 - 5:41pm

"The problem is that, for very obvious reasons, these studies are NOT online. Fans need to get out of the habit of assuming that all relevant statistical measurements are posted for everyone to see."

You still need to give us some indication of how we can see this data for ourselves, since without that we really have no reason to believe you. If you're a journalist you should understand how important it is to cite your sources if you wish to be seen as credible. An authors name, a journal, an institution, anything more concrete than "a study". If your claim isn't independently verifiable, then it isn't a claim worth making.

by Mr. Obvious (not verified) :: Thu, 09/29/2005 - 6:08pm

I'm sorry, but I don't see why Carl or anyone else should spoonfeed you studies that are proprietary. It seems to me that he was nice enough to tell you that these studies exist. I don't think that entitles you to get the library card to Carl's work or anyone else's.

You expect some team to just let you in the door and look at studies they commissioned? Why should they?

Carl seems to be someone who is in a position to either read them, hear about them or draft them. This isn't the journals Nature or Science. These are competitive businesses.

Do you honestly believe that all the stats FO analyzes are put on this site? Come on!

When I go through the posts, I see that he and others have pointed out studies that are available to the public. He linked to a diversity study for MDS and others to look at and he mentioned others that were within a google search of finding.

Since my fingers aren't broken, I took one of Carl's tips and went to NFLPA. I easily found the studies he pointed to.

It ain't hard. Click on my name for one of them.

Do I understand all of it? No. I'm just a dumb jock. Even though I work around this crap I don't understand all of it. That's why I ask questions.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Thu, 09/29/2005 - 7:41pm

I’m sorry, but I don’t see why Carl or anyone else should spoonfeed you studies that are proprietary. It seems to me that he was nice enough to tell you that these studies exist. I don’t think that entitles you to get the library card to Carl’s work or anyone else’s.

They should if they want to be taken seriously. Why should we believe the alleged conclusions of some alleged study if we can't look at it for ourselves? One would hope it is obvious (especially to journalists and people who defend them) that it's not particularly intelligent for anybody to believe X just because someone (especially someone with axes to grind) pops up and says "X is true! Because I have a Super-Sekrit(tm) study that says so. But you're not allowed to see it. (Joe Isuzu voice) Just trust me."

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Thu, 09/29/2005 - 7:43pm

And if the study being referred is publically available (whether for free or for pay), it's common courtesy to provide a link to it if it's not immediately obvious where to find it.

by Mr. Obvious (not verified) :: Thu, 09/29/2005 - 8:22pm

I disagree completely. What business does he have feeding you information that's owned by private businesses? It's enough that he's given us their conclusions. I sure wouldn't want someone who has seen the crap our people work on giving out to someone with a blog who has no problem sharing it with everyone else.

If it's private, keep it private. Damn. I can't believe this would even come up.

Spoon fed. That's what you are!

Carl put down a lot of studies by name. I didn't have a problem finding the NFLPA ones. They seem to back up what he says.

I googled the name of that book and it exists too. I'm sure it's not available on the web. Buy it and read it!

I just counted how many times PatsFan made a comment on here and it was 5, every one to bitch about Carl.

Carl might have talked too much but I think it's pretty f-in' stupid to get on here 5 times to bitch about it unless you are just trying to get everyone to look at your damn blog.

By my count, Carl either linked or mentioned the work of King Kaufman, NFLPA, NFL, Carl himself and Gregg Easterbrook's own book, which he's obviously read.

Maybe I'm biased because I know Carl's work, but damn it, people, get over the need to get instant gratification.

This isn't some damn circle jerk for bloggers. It's a discussion. If you disagree with him, then do what Jim did and cite a counter example. You will notice that Carl gave him an example right back. That's how it's done.

by Mr. Obvious (not verified) :: Thu, 09/29/2005 - 8:27pm

One more damn thing. Dont think that I am Carl's bitch or anything but I think it is pretty f-ing cool that he explains to people how the salary cap, franchise crap and all that stuff works. It is confusing s--t and he does a good job breaking it down.

Damn it.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Thu, 09/29/2005 - 9:33pm

What business does he have feeding you information that’s owned by private businesses

None, of course. It would absolutely be wrong for him to make available stuff he agreed to keep private. I haven't, and I don't think anyone else has, argued that he should violate his contracts by making any of it public. However...

It’s enough that he’s given us their conclusions.

No, it's not. Or more precisely, it's not always good enough. When the conclusions are drawn from publically available, publically identified data I'm generally inclined to agree with you. However, when the data the conclusions are based on is private or unidentified, I disagree.

Mind you, a study being private doesn't mean it's wrong. Far from it! But it does mean that when somone says "the study says X", that should be treated with more grains of salt than when someone says it about a fully-public study.

cool that he explains to people how the salary cap, franchise crap and all that stuff works.

You'll probably be shocked to hear me say this, but yes, that is cool. As are a bunch of other things he says.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Thu, 09/29/2005 - 9:46pm

One last thing I do need to say -- good luck over there in Iraq, Carl, and come home safely!

by marc (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 1:32am

The Packers are actually 3-0 despite the commonly held belief that they are 0-3. This data was uncovered in a study, but I can't post it, it's PROPRIETARY! So you'll just have to take me at my word that I'm smarter than the NFL.

by Jim A (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 1:48am

If you disagree with him, then do what Jim did and cite a counter example. You will notice that Carl gave him an example right back.

Actually, Carl didn't cite a counter-example. The book he references details the general phenomenon of faulty reasoning, but as I recall doesn't specifically address the contract year effect. I agree that is a terrific book although I've only read parts of it. The author also co-wrote what is probably one of the most famous sports-related studies from academia 20 years ago on the hot hand in basketball. Yet his conclusions aren't univerally accepted even among hardcore basketball analysts, who are still debating and researching the issue today in APBR circles (the basketball equivalent of SABR or PFRA).

Another study relevant to the contract year effect is reviewed at the link on my name. Two academic researchers found a performance decline among MLB players the year after receiving a multiyear free agent contract. However, this study also has some flaws, as the reviewer points out.

For the record, I suspect that the contract year effect is probably not significant, but I think we certainly should be receptive to research that sheds light on this issue, even if it only confirms what was previously published. Baseball researchers are far ahead of football researchers in this regard. Topics like clutch hitting and DIPS are constantly being studied in new and different ways that increases our knowledge even though many sabermetricians thought they had a pretty good understanding of these years ago.

Carl frequently mentions "internal studies" on this site. While I can understand the desire to keep such research proprietary, it also prevents an open peer-review process. Without any description of the methodology or data set used, we have no way to review the conclusions reached. Even highly-regarded professors are not immune from faulty research or poor metrics, particuarly when sports is not their area of expertise. Further, we don't know whether GMs and coaches are understanding or using this research properly. Are we to assume that a) a coach or GM told Carl about these studies, b) the researcher commissioned by the NFL or NFLPA told Carl about these studies, or c) Carl has throroughly reviewed these studies personally (or performed them himself) but is under non-disclosure agreement not to publish any details. Each of these carry different weight, but none should be as strong as publicly available, peer-reviewed research.

I am extremely impressed and humbled by Carl's knowledge of the football business and grateful that he is willing to share it here. Heck, I think the material he's posted here would be the foundation of a terrific book on the NFL. But we also know he has some pretty strong and controversial opinions on many topics. I think the more research that is made publicly available, the more convincing (or perhaps unconvincing) his arguments become, and the more informed and educated we all are.

by PhillyBuster (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 2:55am

Carl has constructed a perfect internet football fan identity. He claims insider access to the league, he claims credibility by being a journalist with a proclaimed set of professional standards, and he claims authority by having data that no other human can apparently see. In essence it is impossible to disagree with him since he can rebut you in one of three ways.
1. He can go talk to a "league source" that disagrees with you.
2. He can point to his shimmering professional standards.
3. He can point to a study commisioned by the NFL solely to prove you wrong.
In short, Carl is immune from the art of rational debate.

by ChrisS (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 3:19am

I think Carl's posts are much more interesting and enlightening than the TMQ articles. I do habitually read TMQ because GE has a different perspective than most NFL columnists.
A prior post said because of the salary structure NFL teams can keep their stars 'Green Bay can keep Favre/Green/Walker' unfortunately they can't afford to also keep Wahle and Rivera.
My personal problem with the Major League salary structures is the inability of the teams to maintain enough roster continuity for me to identify with and enjoy over many seasons a significant number of players. As a kid I loved the Lions because they had players that I read about and rooted for over a long period of time (Charlie Sanders, Lem Barney, Mel Farr, Greg Landry) and really felt I knew as players. They were really a 'team' not just guys wearing the same uniforms that year. The same with the Tigers (Kaline, Cash, Lolich, Horton). This ignores any issue of exploitation, unfair labor practices, ...
But then, maybe that's just a bunch of nostalgic crap.

by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 9:29am

To go off-topic for a moment, that reminds me of why I'm an atheist (or at the very least an agnostic)...those seem to be most of the arguments used for religion. :)

Back onto football though, the other guys are right...we can't accept Carl's word at face value. We need some sort of proof. And if he links us to something, and wants to show us he's right, he could explain HOW the article fits in with what he's talking about. If it made sense, then I'd believe it. :)

by Carl (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 12:13pm

Uhhh, thanks Mr. Obvious. No, you're not my "bitch."

JimA, I remember that brief survey of some of the literature the sabre folks put together what seems like a million years ago.

This is one of the problems with much of the publicly available research. Often, it is a simple mathematics experiment, sort of a fun twist on the normal academic grind, and it fails to consider powerful qualifiers contractors brought in to study the issue would highlight.

Like you, after reviewing both internal and (not much here) publicly available material, I don't believe there is a statistically meaningful effect of contract year motivation among potential free agents, especially when you begin to account for regression to the mean, age, different slots on the team (batting order for MLB, for example, or moving into a different type of offense in NFL, or a different part of the line for NHL, or a SF moving to SG in NBA, as just some qualifiers that commonly occur).

The big problem, as you know, is how to weight the metrics. In baseball, is OBP the best measure of statistical gain or loss? A market basket approach? Would these stats be qualified by measuring them, that year, against the performance of the whole?

How many years should you go out to measure the gain or decline? The next year? Or the following year? Or for the bulk of the new contract?

This has been a major sticking point because in many of these studies, especially for MLB, one sees a statistically meaningful drop in performance of various metrics in the first year of the new contract, but a demonstrable rebound the following year in T-Stat and P-Value to make it meaningless.

Was the entire contract therefore meaningless because of one substandard year? Or will the Carlos Beltrans of the world come back strong the next, more often than not, all other things being equal?

How wide should the dataset be? About 50 free agents in a year's bundle of contracts? Or a multi-year regression factoring in stars, subs, third-stringers and the like?

What about expectancy theory? Does a player who feels he's underpaid adjust his performance level downward to mirror his pay grade? But when he believes he's going to get more the following year, does he begin to start "playing to his paycheck?" That's motivational in a different way than most fans would see it. Here you have players who actually have been underpaid who start playing to their perceived real value and then MAINTAIN that level in the new contract, barring injuries, etc.

NFLPA studies suggest some of that.

These are real issues, and one of the problems is that the surveys available on the internet are notorious for not including them.

For anyone getting started on this, I would recommend the following pieces, some of which support my contention, others that do not:

Rosner, Scott R., and Kenneth L. Shropshire (eds.). The Business of Sports. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2004.

In that, you will read arguments both one way and the other. Enjoy.

Issues of interest to fans might especially be found in the section by Daniel S. Mason -- "Revenue Sharing and Agency Problems in Professional Team Sport: The Case of the National Football League," which largely agrees with what Will and I say about the hidden machinations of the league.

We're also backed up by Adam Heller in his "Creating a Win-Win Situation Through Collective Bargaining: The NFL Salary Cap."

Mixed bag in William Duffy's "Football May Be Ill, But Don't Blame Bosman,"
Bernd Frick's "Management Abilities, Player Salaries, and Team Performance" and "Free Agent Performance in Major League Baseball: Do Teams Get What They Expect?" by David Ahlstrom, Steven Si, and James Kennelly.

You also might like "Sport Business in the Next Decade: A General Overview of Expected Trends" by Daniel F. Mahony and Dennis R. Howard.

There is another important piece, but since I was one of the "expert" reviewers, I do not feel it would be ethical to list it here. Too easy.

Here are some others that tackle related topics (in parenthesis):

"Motivating long-term employment contracts: risk management in major league baseball" by Joel Maxcy. (the BENEFITS that come to teams facing both market uncertainty and uncertainty about a players' future productivity have a real incentive to reallocate risk with long-term labor contracts.

Lehn, Kenneth, "Information asymmetries in baseball’s free agent market," in Brian L. Goffand Robert D. Tollison eds., Sportometrics (why do some teams make good decisions about player value, and others don't? What metrics are or are not available to assess talent?)

by Clod (not verified) :: Sat, 10/01/2005 - 2:59pm

While there are plenty of things to talk about in sports...


I get the feeling that the importance of said game has been elevated by some on this particular thread to a level of unhealthy proportions. We all get annoyed at the self importance of those in Hollywood, and the unending bloating of importance they give to their ENTERTAINMENT industry...we need to not forget that sports are here to entertain US, the fan. We are the ones paying for the tickets.

Becoming paumpus (sp) about an industry that you may write about and have "insider" information about that was created to entertain people with disposable income seems to me a bit curious to me.

But to each there own.

by Aaron (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 8:58am

With all the site problems last week, I wasn't able to keep this thread from becoming a flame war. I apologize. Comments are now closed.