Yeah, I know. I have drunk the kool aid. I know all the cliches. And I have been one who has consistently preached the fact that the physical talent gap between ALL NFL teams is really quite minimal. (except at QB) All that being said, I CAN'T for the life of me muster up any interest in the upcoming game....apart for the curiosity factor of it being played in a foreign country. So for this reason don't be surprised when you don't find much in this post concerning the Bucs game. Frankly, if they win (and they will), all I care about is getting 45 guys back to Boston HEALTHY. 1. Since I'm not thinking about this game, my mind wondered over to the upcoming CBA, and what it will take for there NOT to be a lock out....or a cap free year. Obviously there will have to be concessions on both sides, but IMHO there seems to be enough room on both sides for there to be some accord. Here are a few ideas. a. Few would argue that there has to be a rookie salary cap. As it stands now, having a pick in the top 10 is almost a detriment. For a guy who was once hoping to land a $15,000 NFL contract, it seems rather obscene to see 3rd round picks signing multimillion dollar contacts without playing a down. You would think that the union would love this idea.....IF they get assurances that the money saved in idiotic rookie contracts will be spent on those players who have PROVEN themselves to be NFL Players. So as a concession for instituting a realistic rookie salary structure, the union should get the following. An increase in the salary cap MINIMUM (say 5-10%) An increase in the roster size (2-3 players) An increase in the vet minimum, and an increase in the amount of the vet minimum discount. BOTTOM LINE - The owns get control and don't have to overpay for unproven talent...at least early on. The union get more jobs, the knowledge that the minimum spent on salaries will be going up. That there will be NO decrease in the amount of money that will be spent on salaries, only THAT money will be going to proven vets, not untried rookies. And it will make more sense to keep solid veteran players longer. Sounds like a win for the union to me. Here's what the union will have to give up. First their ill advised attempt to demand that they have full access to the owners books. This is absurd. They ALLREADY have full access to the revenue streams that are being directed toward player salaries as denoted by the current CBA. (TV, ticket sales, Merchandizing, etc) If I were an owner I wouldn't want anyone screwing around my books, especially since I probably have several other similar or dissimilar companies that are NONE of the players business.. I don't understand what the problem is. Since the cap system was instituted, salaries have quadrupled, contrary to the union's initial fears that the cap will limit their future earnings. Players income has EXPLODED during this period. EVERYONE is making a ton of money. If the union continues forget that the league was build and made successful BECAUSE the owners and players have cooperated, they will kill the golden goose....kill it DEAD. Why then is the union seemingly playing a potentially lethal game of chicken with the owners on this, IMHO, trivial issue. Don't they understand that in a atmosphere of a shrinking economy, and economic hardship by the very public who pays the bills, crying poor mouth for vet players who make a MINIMUM yearly salary that would take the average person almost TWO DECADES to accumulate; would NOT resonate well. Listen, I'm a died in the wool liberal on social issues....and I don't trust large multinational companies as far as I can throw their lawyers. However, unless you bought a team pre 1980, you have had to invest HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of dollars to gain entry to this league, and have had to commit millions more in capital expenditures every year. There is a heavy risk involved, just look at what many smart people thought about Kraft's $187MM back in '93...including his wife. . Professional sports teams are losing money hand over fist now. IIRC the Sox who sell out EVERY game...at the highest ticket cost in the league, don't see a profit until or unless they get to the playoffs....and THAT's one of the best run franchises in league. Same goes for the Celts. The NFL is the current exception to that rule, most teams ARE profitable, but that can change in a hurry, especially when now, when the owners start up costs are so high. IIRC it cost the Houston owner something like $700MM just to join the club....THEN he had the capital costs of running a team. Instead on trying to squeeze the last dime out of owners, the union (and a rich guys club would be a better name for it) SHOULD be more concerned with player safety, the pension, the health of retired vets, AND the the GENERAL health of the league that pays the bills. On the owners side, they better get their sh!t together as well. The fact is that some owners (ie Kraft, Jones, Snyder, etc) do a better job at marketing their franchises than others (Adams, Brown, Wilson, etc). Some of it has to do with the size of the local market, but not all of it. The Pats have SAME demographic NOW than it had in 1990 when they were LAST the league in cash generated. Now the Pats are among the league leaders in market generated cash. Why, because they are better and smarter at it than the rest. They also invest more assets than most. Somehow the owners have come an agreement to continue to operate in a cooperative environment. That have to CONTINUE to support the weaker franchises, while at the same time institute ways to force/encourage them to pull their weight better (this would be a good time to add some suggestions on how the league can do that.) If on one side, Jerry Jones of the league get their way, or on the other, the Mike Brown's get their way, NOTHING good will come of it. This is a critical time of the league...I just hope they don't f**k it up. Well hopefully this will spark some lively discussion. I'm interested hearing some other ideas of how this CBA can come to pass...or why it won't. 2. I really am getting behind the idea of having a 17 game schedule with one game every year played on a neutral site....and it doesn't have to be an overseas venue. There are plenty of cities in the US who would get behind having one game a year in there town. Just for example Birmingham, Portland, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and other areas where big football stadiums are available. It will eliminate one of the hated preseason games, as well as market the sport DIRECTLY to other areas of the country and the world. If implemented the league WOULD have to find 16 venues each year, but I really don't think that's a problem. 3. I've said it before, and I'll probably keep saying it, but the general level of tackling fundamentals is going down faster than Ron Borges' credibility. The reason why so many tackles are being missed is the fact that the players are tackling with their HEADS DOWN. You can't hit what you can't see. Not only does it lead to poor tackling, it leads to more injuries. I STILL wake up in the middle of the night shuddering to the remembrance of the HS game, when I had a guy lined up on the sideline..... lowered my head in my best Brandon Merriweather imitation....missed him.... and landed at the feet of my coach. The fact that he didn't have to say anything spoke VOLUMES. He taught me how to tackle. He knew I knew the right way to do it. He didn't have to say anything to me (though I still bear the scars from his glare )....and I was a HS senior. You'd think that by the time they get to the pros, they'd have it down. Yes I know that 190 lb DB trying to tackle 230 lb RBs can't just meet them high all the time, BUT you CAN keep your head up, and you neck and spine in the safest alignment. I'd love to talk to BB about that issue. I'd bet he'd have a ton to say. It would be a good one for his radio talk. 4. I tell you what. This season HAS been one of transition for the Pats. They are slowly reloading with barely a ripple in the bottom line, Lets give credit to a couple of people. First Flyodd Reece. He had a lot of good drafts while at TENN. Its no coincidence that we've had one of the better drafts we've had now that he's been in charge of that aspect of the team. I also want to compliment BB....in a back handed way. I can't remember a time when we have made SO many personel moves that have FAILED. Galloway, Lewis, Smith, Matthews, come off the top of my head. Feel free to discuss thw why's and wherefores. But what I HAVE liked is the fact that BB, when he makes a mistake, either in FA or in the Draft, doesn't dwell on it. If the guy can't play here, he's gone. Plan and simple. BB takes the heat (or doesn't some will say) and move on. Its a GREAT attribute, and one that will keep the Pat competitive, long after other teams slip into a down cycle. 5. Has there ever been a more disappointing franchise than the Chargers. No team has done LESS with more talent than they have, especially since that division is so weak. They have to blow that thing up. Keep the QB, and start over. 6. Things to look for in this game...because it still has some things I want to see. a. How will AD respond b. Moroney...will the resurrection continue? c. Volmer...is he the newest instant all pro ? d. Who will be the 4 WRs this week? e. What quarter Hoyer gets in? OK that's what's on MY mind, what's on yours?