The Daily Briefing Monday, July 3, 2017

AROUND THE NFL

Kurt Warner uses a video here to tell you who his Hall of Fame presenter is.  The final three words are “my wife Brenda.”

 

NFC EAST

 

DALLAS

Did the Cowboys strike seventh round gold with WR NOAH BROWN from The Ohio State University?  Kristi Scales in the Dallas Morning News:

 

The Cowboys selected two wide receivers in the 2017 NFL draft. Ryan Switzer (fourth round, 123rd overall) already has carved his niche as Cole Beasley 2.0.

 

So where does that leave seventh-round pick Noah Brown, the 239th overall selection from Ohio State? As a late-round pick, he’s already a longshot to make the 53-man roster, especially when the Cowboys re-signed veterans Terrance Williams and Brice Butler.

 

Plus, Brown played only 24 games in two years as a Buckeye, so lack of experience will be a factor.

 

“(Brown) is a little bit of an all-around guy,” said Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. “He’s an outside receiver with a big frame (6-2, 222). He’s kind of got a ‘tweener’ size when it comes to receiver. He’s got a little bit of a TE element to his game as far as his size and the matchup and the people he’s blocking. So he should match up well in that area.

 

“He’s a good receiver, too. He has a real consistence game, and he’s a smart kid, so we’re excited about him.”

 

NFC SOUTH

 

CAROLINA

LB THOMAS DAVIS, aged 34, is hoping (dreaming?) of a new contract.  Jeremy Bergman of NFL.com:

 

Carolina’s elder statesman on defense is in search of a new contract.

 

Thomas Davis, the Panthers’ 34-year-old inside linebacker, is entering the final season of a two-year extension signed in 2015. The vet is owed a base salary of $3.25 million this season, but told WFNZ in Charlotte that he wants to renegotiate before training camp.

 

“That’s something all players in the last year of their deal, especially for guys who have put up the numbers I’ve put up and played the way I’ve played the last few years, you’d hope something get worked out,” Davis told the station. “We’re not actively talking now, but hopefully we can do something before training camp happens.”

 

One of the remaining vestiges from the pre-Cam years, Davis is a Panthers legend who has battled back from severe injuries (three ACL surgeries) and fought for recognition as a model of excellence and consistency. He has missed just one regular season game in the last four seasons and finally earned a first-team All-Pro selection in 2015. Paired with Luke Kuechly, Davis is a key part of one of the league’s greatest linebacking duos of all-time.

 

But the future comes for all us eventually, and it’s nigh for Davis. The Panthers said this offseason that they intend to limit Davis’ snaps in 2017, in part to give Shaq Thompson more run and also to lessen the load of the vet’s shoulders. (Davis replied to that decision with a pointed Instagram video of him lifting some serious weights; the caption read, “The way I see it this is another way to help extend my career. I might play till I’m 37.”)

 

To stave off extinction, and now earn a new deal, Davis must continue to do more than what is expected of a sideline-to-sideline linebacker of his age.

 

However, there’s no guarantee general manager Dave Gettleman will grant Davis his wish. In the past, Gettleman has let aging franchise favorites Steve Smith and DeAngelo Williams walk to Super Bowl contenders in lieu of handing them big contracts. Will the same go for Davis? Check back in at the end of the month.

 

 

TAMPA BAY

QB JAMEIS WINSTON is salivating over TE O.J. HOWARD:

 

Jameis Winston is one of the biggest winners this offseason.

 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers added DeSean Jackson in free agency along with O.J. Howard in the draft, constructing an arsenal of aerial talent that is one of the most fearsome position groups in the league.

 

The duo will help stretch the field immensely for a passing attack that completed only four passes of 40 yards or more last season, which was tied for the worst mark in the league. Winston has been pleased with the early promise his new weapons have displayed.

 

“They’re dynamic,” Winston told NFL Network’s Tiffany Blackmon at his 2nd Annual Dream Forever Football Camp on Saturday. “We haven’t had a true deep threat guy in Tampa Bay and now we have DeSean. So we’re excited to throw him a couple bombs. O.J., man, he’s just a specimen. We’re privileged to have O.J. Howard.”

 

The Bucs already have a very capable tight end in Cameron Brate, but Howard could be the piece that puts the unit over the top. He was a matchup nightmare when Alabama let him loose downfield and was a top-notch blocker to boot. The first-round pick has generated a similar level of excitement already in Tampa.

 

“We’re happy to have O.J. What he’s going to do to that team is going to be amazing,” Winston told reporters Saturday. “This is the fastest, most athletic 6-6, 255 guy I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s unreal.”

 

NFC WEST

 

LOS ANGELES RAMS

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com seems to have spent his holiday weekend watching HBO’s “All or Nothing” – all 8 episodes:

 

Over the years, teams coached by Jeff Fisher have had a reputation for being chippy to the point, at times, of dirty. And Fisher for the most part hasn’t been criticized for his role as the captain of a ship of fools.

 

One specific scene from All or Nothing could change that perception.

 

After a post-play scrum during last year’s game in Miami, referee Gene Steratore approaches Fisher and tells him that, between the whistle and the snap, things need to be less intense.

 

“We’ve got to cut it when it’s cut,” Steratore says, “and then wait 20 seconds and knock somebody’s ass the next play. But not in between, Jeff.”

 

“OK, I’ll calm it down,” Fisher says. “I’ll calm it down. I’ll calm it down.”

 

Fisher then gathers the defense together and to communicate the message directly to the players.

 

“The referee told me to talk to you guys,” Fisher says. Then he pauses, and a look of wide-eyed mischief emerges on his face.

 

“Crank it up even more.”

 

The players explode with approval. Fisher then tells them to watch their language, explaining that the referees primarily are listening for profanity and taunts.

 

There are no further scenes of chippy play, so it’s unclear whether the players did indeed “crank it up even more.” Whatever they did, it didn’t stop the Dolphins from beating the Rams, dropping them to 4-6 for the fourth straight season.

 

Spoiler alert: Unlike the other three years, the 2017 Rams didn’t win another game.

 

He didn’t like the final episode’s brushing over a potentially engrossing coaching search:

 

The final installment of the eight-episode All or Nothing focuses not on the 2016 season for the Rams but the aftermath of it. It begins with the search for a new head coach.

 

As to the show, the search ends as quickly as it begins, with no discussion of other candidates, no clips from interviews with candidates (including Sean McVay, who — spoiler alert — gets the job), no deliberations among the front office and/or ownership regarding who should be hired and, perhaps most significantly, why the Rams ultimately decided to hire the youngest coach in the NFL’s modern era.

 

While there surely were some sensitivities regarding the assessment of candidates for the job and the pros and cons of hiring McVay, some of the video from the search process could have been used. Moreover, and continuing on the good-for-goose-good-for-gander theme regarding the things that weren’t shared regarding the firing of Jeff Fisher, it’s not fair to spend so much time in Hard Knocks focusing on players who will get hired and fired and why they will get hired and fired but completely shoving those same considerations under the rug when it comes to firing and then hiring a coach.

 

The rest of the final episode has nothing to do with the 2016 Rams and is almost all about crafting an infomercial for the 2017 L.A. season, hyping McVay and his staff, the free-agent arrivals, the draft picks, the offseason workouts, and more. That’s good news for the Rams; given that 2016 quickly became a year to forget, the more the show focuses on the future, the better.

 

AFC WEST

 

OAKLAND

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com has the DEREK CARR deal details:

 

It’s taken a little longer than usual, but finally the full and complete Derek Carr contract details have emerged. And, as usual, the details confirm some reports regarding the deal — and debunk others.

 

For now, the specifics:

 

1. Signing bonus of $12.5 million, paid within 15 days of contract signing.

 

2. Fully-guaranteed 2017 base salary of $5 million.

 

3. Fully-guaranteed roster bonus of $7.5 million, earned on June 30, 2017 and payable on or about September 21, 2017.

 

4. 2018 base salary of $7.4 million, guaranteed for injury only at signing and fully guaranteed as of the third day of the 2018 league year in March.

 

5. Fully-guaranteed roster bonus of $15 million, earned on the third day of the 2018 league year and paid within 15 days thereafter.

 

6. 2019 base salary of $19.9 million, guaranteed for injury only at signing and fully-guaranteed on the third day of the 2019 waiver period in February.

 

7. 2020 base salary of $18.9 million, $2.9 million of which is guaranteed for injury at signing. The $2.9 million becomes fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2020 waiver period in February.

 

8. 2021 base salary of $19.525 million, not guaranteed.

 

9. 2022 base salary of $19.777519 million, not guaranteed.

 

10. Annual workout bonuses of $100,000 for 2018 through 2022, based on participation in the offseason program of at least 85 percent.

 

The deal pays out, as multiple others have reported, $40 million fully guaranteed at signing, along with $70.2 million for injury.

 

The contract isn’t as backloaded as it could have been (and as some assumed it was), given the looming move from California (with state income tax of 13 percent) to Nevada (with none). Here’s what Carr will receive, year by year:

 

2017: $25 million.

 

2018: $22.5 million.

 

2019: $20 million.

 

2020: $19 million.

 

2021: $19.625 million.

 

2022: $19.877 million.

 

Relative to the rest of the deal, Carr gets more per year in California than he’ll get in Nevada. The key for Carr becomes 2019; if the team remains in California that year, he’ll pay an extra $2.6 million in taxes.

 

The cap numbers for the deal are as follows, assuming five years of proration of the signing bonus: $15 million in 2017; $25 million in 2018; $22.5 million in 2019; $21.5 million in 2020; $22.125 million in 2021; $19.877 million in 2022.

 

The structure confirms that the Raiders’ reported reluctance to sign linebacker Khalil Mack this year due to cap issues is a canard. By loading up $12.5 million in roster bonus and salary and limiting the signing bonus of $12.5 million, Carr ended up with a much larger cap number this year than he otherwise could have had. With a salary of $1 million and a signing bonus of $24 million (which would have still created $25 million in cash flow), the cap number for 2017 would have been only $5.8 million.

 

AFC NORTH

 

BALTIMORE

TE DARREN WALLER is watching his career go up in a puff, line or chug.  Jeremy Bergman at NFL.com:

 

Another Ravens tight end has been sidelined for the 2017 season.

 

Backup tight end Darren Waller was suspended for at least one year without pay for violating the league’s policy on substances of abuse, a league spokesperson announced Friday.

 

Waller is the second Baltimore tight end to be lost before training camp. The Ravens released veteran starter Dennis Pitta after he re-injured his hip during organized team activities, knocking him out for the entire season and threatening his career going forward.

 

The Ravens drafted Waller in the sixth round of the 2015 draft. Through two seasons, the 6-foot-7 wide receiver-turned-tight end has started in four of 18 games played. Waller has 12 career receptions on 23 targets for 103 yards and two touchdowns.

 

Fortunately, the Ravens entered OTAs with a bounty of solid options at tight end. Crockett Gillmore, Benjamin Watson, Maxx Williams, Nick Boyle and Ryan Malleck still remain on the roster and will battle it out for the starting position come late July.

 

 

PITTSBURGH

As you might expect with a big contract pending, RB LeVEON BELL says he feels great.  Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com:

 

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is training in Los Angeles and feeling healthy after offseason groin surgery.

 

Is a big contract to follow? The Steelers have until July 17 to work out a long-term deal with Bell, who would otherwise play this season under the franchise tag at $12.1 million.

 

“I’m good with everything, just taking it day to day for real,” Bell told ESPN about how he is approaching the process.

 

The Steelers have expressed interest in giving Bell a long-term extension, but negotiations could push close to the deadline. A deal would likely make Bell the NFL’s highest-paid running back, a spot currently occupied by Buffalo’s LeSean McCoy at $8 million per year.

 

Bell, 25, is the only player who has yet to sign his franchise tender or reach a long-term deal this season. As such, he didn’t participate in the Steelers’ mandatory minicamp, as he would have had to sign a waiver to do so.

 

As part of his training, Bell has been playing pickup basketball.

– – –

Pro wrestling results may be #FakeNews, but even a falsely-derived outcome can have dangers for all involved.  Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com with the tale of RB DeANGELO WILLIAMS:

 

Veteran running back DeAngelo Williams, who has proven again and again that the tank still isn’t empty, tried his hand (or maybe I should say his face) at wrestling over the weekend. It could have gone horribly wrong for him.

 

Williams, participating in something called Slammiversary XV, capped the tag-team match by climbing to the top rope and jumping from the turnbuckle. Unlike old-school wrestling, where guys like the late Randy Savage would simply land on a waiting opponent in the middle of the ring, DeAngelo’s target was laying atop a folding table.

 

So Williams hit the body on the table with his torso, and his head went past the table and slammed onto the mat. Williams literally could have broken his neck.

 

“This is what happens when it’s real and people think it’s fake,” Williams said on Twitter, posting the video of the climb, jump, landing, and eventual pin. “But the money is real.”

 

As much as I hated hearing it from my dad when I was a kid, much of wrestling is fake. The outcome has been determined before the match begins, and the punching (which used to accompany a loud stomp that supplied the sound of the blow) and kicking doesn’t have nearly the impact that it would in the alley behind a bar.

 

But the stunts are real, and the risk of serious injury is always present. While it’s unclear how Williams was supposed to properly land when jumping onto a large human laying a flimsy portable table, it’s safe to assume he wasn’t supposed to take a header onto the mat.

 

So, yes, the danger is real. Perhaps even more real than it is in the NFL, which could still come calling for Williams once injuries to other tailbacks inevitably occur.

 

AFC EAST

 

NEW ENGLAND

QB TOM BRADY does an ESPN interview in Asia and artfully issues a non-denial about concussions.  John Breech of CBSSports.com:

 

One of the biggest mysteries of the NFL offseason revolves around the fact of whether Tom Brady suffered a concussion during the 2016 season.

 

During an interview with CBS This Morning in May, Brady’s wife, Gisele Bundchen, not only claimed that Brady suffered a concussion last season, but that he has suffered multiple concussions during his career.

 

Although Brady’s agent responded to the claim, we never actually got to hear from Brady himself because he successfully managed to duck the media during the Patriots’ OTA sessions this offseason.

 

The team had a total of five practices that were open to reporters and after each of those sessions, Brady declined all interview requests.

 

 

Of course, that media silence couldn’t last forever.

The Patriots quarterback finally broke his media silence for an interview with ESPN’s E:60 that aired Sunday morning. The interview, which took place during Brady’s tour of Asia in June, featured several questions about his trip before E:60’s Kevin Negandhi was able to sneak a question in about the concussion situation.

 

Here’s how Negandhi phrased the question, along with Brady’s answer.

 

Negandhi: “[Gisele] sees the hits, she was vocal about that, most recently on CBS about the concussions, how much do you talk to her about those hits that you take?”

 

Brady: “She’s there every day. I mean, we go to bed in the same bed every night, so I think she knows when I’m sore, she knows when I’m tired, she knows when I get hit. We drive home together [from games]. But, she also knows how well I take care of myself. She’s a very concerned wife and very loving.”

 

Brady has had two months to think about how to answer this question, and he looks like he spent that time coming up with an answer that was as perfectly ambiguous as possible.

 

First, he doesn’t dispute anything that Gisele said.

 

Gisele says he has suffered a few concussions, Brady basically says she knows more about him than anyone without actually saying whether he suffered a concussion.

 

Second, although he didn’t dispute Gisele’s claim, he didn’t confirm it, either. Basically, that should be enough to keep him and the Patriots out of hot water. At the time, the problem with Gisele’s claim was that if it was true and Brady did suffer a concussion, he either didn’t tell the Patriots or he did tell them and the team hid it from the NFL. Either would be bad.

 

The NFL investigated the issue in May and found “no record” that Brady suffered a concussion in 2016, which means both Brady and the team are likely in the clear. 

 

That being said, don’t be surprised if the issue comes up again at training camp when reporters who regularly cover the team will get their shot to ask Brady about the possibility that he suffered a concussion. Of course, at that point, Brady can say “Guys, I’ve already answered that question,” or “That’s in the past, that was three months ago. I’m moving on to the 2017 season.”

 

We already know Bill Belichick won’t be answering any questions about Brady’s possible concussion, and if Brady stops talking about it, then the issue might just die now that the NFL has investigated it.

 

Brady also was asked another question about Gisele during his E:60 interview. After the Patriots beat the Falcons 34-28 in the Super Bowl, Gisele asked Tom if he’d think about retiring. Well, it appears that she’s now come to grips with the fact that he might play forever.

 

“She’ll support me as long as I continue to want to play,” Brady said of his wife. “She’s like my mom, the two of them together sitting next to each other in the suite watching me get hit all day, I’m sure it’s not fun, but they know how well I take care of myself, too.”

 

So how long will Gisele have to wait before her husband retires?

 

Brady has been saying for months that he wants to play until he’s 45 and he reiterated that point in his interview with ESPN.

 

“My mid-40s, I’ve always said, so naturally that’s 45, but football is a contact sport,” Brady said, noting there’s always a “disclaimer.”

 

“I don’t think you can take anything for granted in football, things happen,” Brady said. “It’s just part of the sport. I would love to be able to continue playing at that level. As long as I keep playing well and committed to it, I’ll keep doing it. I know I got a lot left in me.”

 

Brady turns 40 on Aug. 3.

 

Brady was also asked about how he felt about the fact that the Patriots’ Super Bowl ring has 283 diamonds, and let’s just say it sounds like he’s a big fan.

 

“I thought that was really a cool concept,” Brady said. “That game’s in everyone’s mind forever.”

 

You hear that Falcons fans?

 

FOR-EV-ER.

 

Mike Florio notes that ESPN didn’t hype its scoop:

 

In other words, if she says Brady had a concussion, he had a concussion.

 

Curiously, Brady wasn’t asked that specific question: Have you had concussions that weren’t disclosed to the team. Instead, the question seemed to regard concussions as a given.

 

And if the question and answer fairly imply that, yes, he has had concussions, this raises plenty of questions about how he got those concussions and when he got those concussions and when he realized he had those concussions and who he told about those concussions.

 

Previously, Brady’s agent, Don Yee, had said only that Brady wasn’t diagnosed with a concussion in 2016. Which was stupidly obvious, but nevertheless effective; plenty of obviously stupid media members twisted the quote into a contention that Brady did not have a concussion.

 

Even without the direct “did you conceal one or more concussions” question, the comments from Brady are significant. Amazingly, however, the snippet from Brady’s interview hasn’t become a headline on ESPN.com’s primary page or at its NFL page. There’s also no hint of it on the page at ESPN.com devoted to the Patriots or at ESPNBoston.com.

 

So how is that not being treated as a much bigger deal by the network that finally got him to address such a sticky topic on the record? I’m tempted to accuse ESPN of deliberately burying it, but the easiest way to bury it would have been to drop it from the interview. (Then again, maybe using it but not drawing attention to it was the final compromise.)

 

Regardless of whether ESPN chooses to showcase the words, Brady said them. And the words became public at a time — the Sunday of a July 4 weekend that for many has become a four-day weekend — when few are consuming sports content and even fewer are producing it.

 

So where does it go from here? No one really knows. The issue of players potentially concealing a concussion seems to be far too significant to ignore, but the fact that Brady has played through multiple concussions during his career apparently will continue to be ignored, by the league, his team, and pretty much everyone — except by his spouse.

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

KAEP

John Lynch joins the list of folks who think Colin Kaepernick could help himself by giving a blockbuster interview in which he swears his allegiance to football.  John Breech at CBSSports.com:

 

What’s keeping Kaepernick from getting a job?

 

Surprisingly, 49ers general manager John Lynch doesn’t think it really has anything to do with the quarterback’s decision to protest police brutality and racial injustice by kneeling for the national anthem last year.

 

Instead, Lynch has another theory: Teams are avoiding Kaepernick because they’re not sure he’s committed to football.

 

During a recent interview with KNBR radio in the Bay Area, Lynch revealed what he told Kaepernick during a recent conversation between the two.

 

“I think, you are having a little bit of an image crisis in terms of not so much what you did last year, but people are wondering, is this most important to you, at a position where the guys that succeed at that position are the guys that live it, breathe it, the CEOs that play that position,” Lynch said, via Niners Nation.

 

Lynch also explained the one big thing he believes Kaepernick needs to do to get a job.

“I think there is a perception that football’s not on the top of his list,” Lynch said. “And so, my communication with Colin was that your best effort, I think the way you could best help yourself is to not have someone talk for you, not have statements, but go sit down and do an interview, and let people know exactly where you stand.”

 

On one hand, it’s a fair point. Kaepernick has been silent over the past four months, which might lead some teams to believe that he’s not talking because he’s focusing on his cause over football.

On the other hand, there might be a reason he’s not talking. Kaepernick might not want to plead his case in the media because he thinks it might make more sense to show teams how serious he is about football during a potential tryout. Unfortunately, teams aren’t giving him that tryout, so it’s impossible for him to show them how serious he is about playing.

 

Either way, Lynch says that teams just need to hear from Kaepernick.

 

“He makes a compelling case as to how bad he wants to be in the league when you talk to him,” Lynch said. “And so, I’ll leave it at that, but we did have those discussions and I think that would help him.”

 

As for the perception that Kaepernick might be more committed to his cause than football, Lynch isn’t necessarily buying that. The 49ers first-year general manager said he believes Kaepernick is absolutely committed to playing in the NFL.

 

“I would tell you with my conversations with Colin, he is fully committed to wanting to be in this league,” Lynch said.

 

It’s definitely interesting to hear Lynch talk about the Kaepernick situation because he’s one of the very few NFL front office members that has been willing to talk about it. There’s also a good chance that he’s talked to multiple executives in the league, which means when he says there’s a “perception” that Kaepernick isn’t focused on football, that perception could very well be coming from Lynch’s conversations with front office members from other teams.

 

If Lynch is right about the NFL’s perception of Kaepernick, then apparently, all the quarterback needs to do to get signed is convince everyone that he’s serious about playing football.

 

 

BROADCAST NEWS

The female voice of NFL Films says she was “sexually harassed” over two decades by several bosses.  Bill Duhart of NJAdvancedMedia.com:

 

A former NFL Films employee has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against one of the premium producers of sports films.

 

Nadia Axakowsky — whose website lists her as the first female football narrator of the NFL and as an actress who has appeared in commercials, films and TV — filed the civil complaint in federal court in Camden this week. The suit alleges Axakowsky was sexually harassed by several supervisors at the company, based in Mount Laurel, over nearly 20 years as a voiceover announcer.

 

Axakowsky said she started at NFL Films in 1997 and the harassment began shortly thereafter. She said she was subjected to regular unwelcome sexual conduct and comments.

 

Specifically, one supervising producer — who was not named as a defendant in the complaint and left the company in 2003 — would ask her out for dates and when she refused, he said she would lose her job if she did not eventually accept, the suit alleges.

 

Axakowsky said another producer frequently witnessed these encounters, which allegedly occurred during the time she was working on the “NFL Blast” program.

 

Axakowsky said her next supervisor continued sexually harassing her for the remaining 13 years of her employment with NFL Films while working on the “Billboard Girl” program. She said the next producer, Glenn Adamo, groped her on numerous occasions.

 

 

Brian McCarthy, vice president of communications for the National Football League, which owns NFL Films, said Axakowsky’s suit “has no merit.”

 

“We will vigorously defend these claims in court,” McCarthy said Wednesday.

 

Messages left on phone numbers listed for Adamo’s two residences were not returned.

 

Axakowsky said Adamo would regularly tell her how pretty she was, and how he wanted to “smother her with millions of kisses,” the suit claims. It further states Adamo frequently demanded Axakowsky personally thank him for salary increases or other career advancements and when she would go to his office, she would be subjected to unwanted advances and groping.

 

She said the company was aware of Adamo’s behavior. Axakowsky said she complained to another manager, Kevin McLoughlin, about the alleged harassment over the course of her employment but the company never properly investigated her complaints and never took appropriate corrective action.

 

In June 2016, Adamo left the company, Axakowsky said. He had assured her of a guaranteed salary for her work, even though she has recently moved to Vermont and assured her she could continue doing voiceover work from a remote location.

 

In September 2016, McLoughlin terminated her employment. According to McLoughlin’s LinkedIn profile, he left the company in April 2017. A man who answered the phone at the number listed for McLoughlin’s residence hung up after a reporter explained what the call was about.

 

The lawsuit states Axakowsky seeks damages to redress the injuries she suffered “as a result of being discriminated against, sexually harassed, retaliated against by her employer solely due to her sex and for complaining of the ongoing harassment.”

 

 

FAVRE

Bill Williamson, writing at FanRagSports.com thinks that Brett Favre actually could be successful in an NFL front office.

 

When I first read earlier on Thursday that Brett Favre is open to someday re-joining the Green Bay Packers as either a coach or as a general manager, I was skeptical.

 

Actually, I was beyond skeptical. My first reaction was this: No way. I can’t see it.

 

Then, I read the story on ESPN – Favre told an ESPN radio show Thursday about his potential NFL aspirations – and digested his comments.

 

I started to think: I wouldn’t bet against Favre achieving something he wants.

 

He’s a three-time NFL MVP. He’s a Super Bowl winner. He’s known as one of the toughest, if not the toughest, players ever to put on an NFL uniform. He’s a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

 

Who is going to tell Favre he can’t do anything when it comes to this game?

 

I covered Favre for one season, in 1999, in Green Bay. I wished I covered him longer. He was one of the most fascinating figures I’ve dealt with in the 21 years I’ve been covering the league. He was a terrific interview subject. He was smart, he was funny, he was thoughtful and he was long-winded. Oh, and he was a serious hoot to watch play. He had a thumb injury he suffered in Week 1, but he never missed a snap and had plenty of his patented Favre comebacks.

 

The thing that sticks out most about Favre was the smart part. I don’t think he gets enough credit for being intelligent. He played up the “country bumpkin” role. Of course, there’s the legendary story that he didn’t know what a nickel defense was, even as a starting NFL quarterback.

 

I get it. He didn’t portray himself as being an intelligent person. But Favre was sharp; super sharp. He knew what he was doing.  And I think he can help a team. From reading his comments, its clear Favre that has thought about it, and that he is intrigued about a new role in the NFL.

 

“I feel like that if I don’t coach or work at that level in some point of my life, that I’m going to waste a lot of knowledge that I have that I should be using it with kids — or adults, at that [NFL] level,” Favre told ESPN.

 

Favre is 47 years old and obviously thinking about his future. He has been away from the game as a player for six years, and he clearly misses it. Still, Favre made it clear he is not interesting in jumping into a new NFL career anytime soon. His youngest daughter is an incoming freshman as a volleyball player at his alma mater, Southern Miss. He wants to see her play through her collegiate career.

 

Favre may start looking to get into the NFL at the age of 51. From reading the article, it seems like Favre may be more comfortable being a coach rather than a member of a front office. I can see that. This is a man who loves the outdoors. I don’t see him pushing a pencil, even it’s in the NFL forum.

 

I can see Favre being a coach. He can wear his customary T-shirts and shorts, and he can be outside a lot. While Favre may not be an X and O’s guru, I think he could be a great teacher. He has a way with people,  and his personality is magnetic. People are drawn to him. I could see him getting the best out of people. He said he loved his work as a high school coach in his home state of Mississippi.

 

I think NFL players would buy into what he said. Of course, Favre would have to start low on the NFL coaching totem pole. So, it may take him time. But this is a guy who was thriving as a player at nearly 40. He has it in him to build a new NFL career.

 

Favre has a comfortable, good life. He doesn’t need to work again. But the NFL still beckons him. It’s not surprising. He basically had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. The NFL is in Favre’s blood. That doesn’t go away.

 

If you don’t think Favre can be successful in a second NFL act, well, you didn’t pay much attention to the first act.

 

We do remember that at Hattiesburg Oak Grove High, he offensive coordinated a team with no history of success to a 6A state title in 2013.  Jenny Vrentas wrote this for TheMMQB at the time:

 

He hurried from the coaches’ box to the stadium elevator holding a piece of pepperoni pizza in his right hand, the first thing he’d eaten in two days other than some Pedialyte. Brett Favre had a bad case of the flu, and it didn’t help that it was 35 degrees outside. But we all know this about Favre: He answers the call of football, and last Friday night, that call was the Class 6A Mississippi high school state championship game.

 

Oak Grove and Tupelo were scoreless at the half when Favre, Oak Grove’s offensive coordinator, hustled down to the locker room to deliver a pep talk. A stadium staffer offered him a ride after he stepped off the elevator. No, Favre said. He preferred to jog, and he took off running.

 

“Look, I know what it’s like to be in a championship game,” Favre told the players. “I know what you’re feeling.”

 

They had 24 minutes left in their season, and for many of the seniors, their football careers. For Favre, this was one more night he could still hold onto the game.

 

The future Hall of Famer had spent the last several summers of his 20-year NFL career working out at Oak Grove, a convenient basecamp near his home in Hattiesburg as he notoriously cycled between retirement and un-retirement. He once broke an assistant coach’s finger with a zinger of a throw; sometimes Favre was joined by Steve McNair when McNair’s son played for Oak Grove. Where else could you find two NFL quarterbacks throwing route trees to high school receivers? It was Favre’s way of giving back while also staying in shape.

 

Since last fall, Oak Grove has offered something to Favre: a way back into the weekly routine that defined most of his life. “I really didn’t need it,” says Favre, his blooming gray beard making it seem as if all those sacks have actually aged him beyond his 44 years. “But if I was going to do it, I was going to be all in.” He’s been at practice every weekday from 2 to 5 p.m., at games on Friday nights and in Sunday film sessions after church. Only one or two of his players teased him when reports surfaced in October about the Rams’ reaching out to Favre regarding another comeback. “They know I’m not coming back,” he says.

 

Favre doesn’t feel anywhere near the same stress coaching as he did starting 298 games in the NFL. “That’s one of the reasons I quit playing,” he says. “The stress to perform at a high level week in and week out.” You’d believe him, if not for his sprinting down the bleachers at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in the third quarter, flu and all, refusing to let a malfunctioning headset interrupt his play-calling.

 

Plus, Oak Grove had won six state championships within the last school year, even one in archery. But it had never taken home a state title in football. It was also a missing honor for Favre, who “didn’t even come close” to a championship while running his dad’s wishbone offense at Hancock North Central in Kiln, Miss.

 

Until he sprinted down the bleachers like an undrafted free agent hoping to make a practice squad, Favre lorded over Oak Grove’s offense from a cramped booth high above the field. He worked off memory, not a play sheet, sounding like an excited kid ordering ice cream as he urgently sent in play calls. Let’s go, uh… let’s go, uh … let’s go Bull! Bull, bull, bull! Then he watched to see if his quarterback, senior Kirk McCarty (picture atop page), would make the play work. Favre’s eager cheers could be heard from behind the booth’s closed door: There he is! He’s open!

 

I can’t say it’s the Super Bowl,” Favre said of the Class 6A title game, “but it’s pretty close.

 

A lefty pitcher headed to Southern Mississippi on a baseball scholarship, McCarty gushes about Favre’s having taught him everything he knows about playing quarterback. “He played so tough, and he’s kind of brought that out in me,” McCarty says. “If we miss a block, well, you should have gotten the ball out earlier. If a receiver runs the wrong route, you should have thrown it somewhere else; you should have made a better read.” On Friday, Favre passed along wisdom about keeping hands warm on a bone-chilling night: make a fist around a heat packet and keep blowing on it.

 

Favre considers himself to be a low-key coach, which holds true until McCarty improvises and checks out of the play call. “Run the play I called!” Favre always bellows. Yes, Mike Holmgren, Favre sees the irony. “I realize how much of a pain I was [as a player], thinking I knew it all,” the gunslinger admits. “Of course, I still think I knew it all. But all the things the coaches said to me, I’ve said the same thing: Don’t force it into coverage, take what they give you, keep it simple.”

Oak Grove runs an up-tempo spread offense that head coach Nevil Barr installed 13 years ago. “Totally foreign” says Favre, a West Coast aficionado who still made his mark as a volunteer coach. He changed the terminology, converting strings of numbers into play calls that are just a word or two, to make the tempo faster. Under Favre’s tutelage, McCarty threw for 44 touchdowns and more than 4,000 yards this season.

 

The Warriors’ offense was the best in Mississippi, but Tupelo had the state’s best defense, leading to the halftime stalemate. Coming out of the break, Favre mixed it up and ran the ball, going back to the same simple draw play as long as it worked. Oak Grove then scored a 5-yard touchdown, on a play called “Race,” when McCarty lofted the ball toward the back pylon and the receiver outran his defender for a 7-0 lead.

 

A few minutes later, Favre was racing down to the field—“The sensors went out!” he explained, bursting out of the coaches’ booth—and made it to the sideline in time for the next offensive series. He sprinted back up at the start of the fourth quarter, when the headsets were working again, and then back down again for the final seconds of the game.

 

Favre stands out more than he’d like. Packers fans, including one couple celebrating its 50th anniversary, have shown up at Oak Grove practices. He chooses his spots carefully, opting not to attend the team’s march through the school hallways on Friday afternoons. Nor does he ride the team bus. He was assigned a state trooper for security last Friday night, but the officer eventually drifted away, letting Favre be like any other high school coach trying to help his team win.

 

They did win. Final score: Oak Grove 14, Tupelo 7. The game-winning touchdown was a play for which Favre made sure not to take any credit. Special teams coach Bobby DeLeon was behind the gutsy fake field goal, on which McCarty, also the holder, threw to a receiver who lined up uncovered on the outside of the formation. Favre celebrated like a high school kid, leaping on top of at least two other coaches.

 

“I can’t say it’s the Super Bowl, but it’s pretty close,” Favre would later say. You could see what he meant by the way he proudly embraced the heads of the jubilant teens surrounding him.

Now, the perpetual question for Favre: Will he be back next season? He gives a long-winded answer, mentioning that his younger daughter will be a sophomore at Oak Grove next year, and he’d like to be able to watch all of her volleyball games. It’s a fair consideration, except this is Brett Favre, the man who always answers the call of football.

 

We think Favre would kind of be like Jay Gruden as a coach, which ain’t a bad thing.