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NFL Futures Contract

October 23, 2014

I wanted to give people more insight into a fairly unknown concept in the NFL, Futures/Reserves contracts.

When a NFL player is signed to a “reserve/futures” contract, it means they are being signed for the upcoming season, even though that season does not officially begin until the official start of the league’s new year as outlined by the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Only players who were not on any NFL team’s active roster when the previous season ended are eligible for these types of contracts. If they were under contract, then they would remain so until the league’s new year starts. Players who were on practice squads at the end of the season are eligible to sign with any team. Hence the reason that you see many practice squad players being signed by their current team for the upcoming year to a reserve/futures contract. That way the team can continue to work with a player they’re familiar with and hopefully get them ready for an eventual roster spot on game day.

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Percy Harvin Traded

October 17, 2014
New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks

Percy Harvin has been traded to the New York Jets for an undisclosed draft pick. Percy was finally health, but still lacked to contribute to the Seattle offense. The Seahawks acquired Harvin last off-season in a trade of a first round pick. He played in one regular season game and two postseason games on the way to Seattle winning it all. Now that Percy was heatlhy this season, there was optimism that he would be a huge offensive weapon for Darrel Bevell. He was obvious that play calls to get him the ball were forced and ineffective. seems like a bad investment now as the Hawks would be lucky to have received a third round pick in exchange.

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Marshawn’s Carries Dictate Seahawk’s Success

October 17, 2014
Pete reassuring Marshawn that they will run the ball consistently.

It is a know fact the the Seahawks rely on Marshawn Lynch and his explosive running style. Beast Mode has been a huge factor in the Seahawk’s success in his tenure in Seattle, including last season’s Super Bowl Championship.

This is why it was so shocking to see Darrell Bevel, the offensive coordinator, call for just two carries in the first half by Lynch in last week’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys. While it is known that the Seahawk’s feed the beast to victory, the statistics below are staggering;

 Lynch’s Carries              Seahawk’s Win/Loss Record

20 or More                               18-4

16-20                                       14-8

10-15                                        5-6

Less than 10                             1-6

Darrell Bevell said today in his press conference “we need to do a better job of getting Marshawn the ball”. I think needless to say that is an understatement. While it is great to force feed the ball to now healthy weapon Percy Harvin, I believe it is obvious that the Seahawk’s success on offense starts and ends with Beast Mode. His powerful runs in the first quarter set the tone for an entire game and open open the play action pass for Russell Wilson. Once the safeties start creeping up in the box it allows Harvin more room in the open field. Then Marshawn finishes off the game in the 4th quarter and grinding out the clock. Feed the Beast!

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Century Link Still Loudest NFL Stadium

October 1, 2014

Kansas City may have broken the Guinness World Record for loudest stadium in the Monday Night mashing of the New England Patriots, however, everyone still knows that Century Link is still the loudest stadium…. in the world. This marks the 2nd time that Arrowhead has broken Seattle’s record of decibels. Come January Arrowhead will be quiet again as the Chief’s haven’t won a playoff game in over 20 years, while the Seahawks are the defending Super Bowl Champions. Century Link will be shaking all season long and causing earthquakes when the playoffs roll around again. I can personally attest that the final drive of the 2014 NFC Championship Game was the loudest that any football stadium has been…ever. These rankings come from Katie Sharp of SB Nation.

Playing a road game in the NFL can be a daunting task. With only eight home games per season, NFL fans are among the most passionate in all of professional sports and make the stadium experience very uncomfortable for visiting teams.

The construction of the stadium and the intensity of the crowds creates a significant home field advantage in the NFL. Over the last five seasons, home teams have won 58 percent of games and last year three teams finished unbeaten at home (Patriots, Saints,Bengals). It’s almost common law in the NFL that you have to take care of business at home, especially against divisional opponents, if you want to make the playoffs.

An amped-up crowd can create so many obstacles for a visiting team trying to relay audibles and snap counts at the line of scrimmage. We see it every week in the numerous false-start penalties and 12-men on-field infractions that teams are flagged for during games. While a loud crowd isn’t solely responsible for these mistakes, the intensity and passion of the fans can definitely make a difference in how efficiently a visiting team can run its offense.

Here’s a look at our top five loudest NFL stadiums:

1. CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA

Seahawks fans have definitely earned themselves the nickname of “12th Man.”

Last season the team set a Guinness World Record as the loudest outdoor sports stadium, with the crowd noise registering at 137.6 decibels during a win over the New Orleans Saints on Dec. 2. To put that number in perspective, a jet engine 100 feet away is about 140 decibels. The noise generated by the crowd was loud enough to trigger a minor earthquake in the region, per a local research group.

According to the team’s website, the Seahawks lead the NFL in opponent false start penalties since 2005, and last year no team had a larger difference in opponent false start penalties generated at home (12) versus on the road (5).

While the team has overall been one of the most successful in the league since 2010, much of that is due to their significant homefield advantage. Over the last five seasons, the Seahawks have a 25-8 record at home in the regular season compared to just 14-19 on the road, the third-largest home/road differential in that span.

2. Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO

The record that the Seahawks broke last December was originally set by the Chiefs in a win over the Raiders two months earlier on Oct. 13, when the crowd noise was recorded at 137.5 decibels. Chiefs fans create a sea of red at Arrowhead, where the most popular chant is “we’re going to beat the hell out of you, you, you.”

Last season they had 13 opponent false start penalties at home, the second-most in the league, and have generated at least 10 of them in four of the last five seasons. The Chiefs won their first five home games last year in dominating fashion, winning by an average of nearly 10 points per game.

3. University of Phoenix Stadium, Phoenix, AZ

The Cardinals have not given their fans in Arizona much to cheer about with just three playoff appearances since the team moved west prior to the 1988 season. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t among the most passionate and loudest fans in the league.

Over the last five seasons, no team has a greater difference between its home and road record than the Cardinals, who are 21-12 at home and 9-24 on the road since 2010.  The Cardinals fans have caused tons of problems for visiting teams, as they’ve ranked in the top-5 in opponent false start penalties at home in each season from 2010-13, including an NFL-best 18 in 2010.

4. Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA

The Superdome has long been considered one of the toughest places to play and one of the reasons is the deafening crowd noise that seems on the verge of blowing through the roof at any time.

One week after the Seahawks set the record for the noisiest outdoor stadium last December, the Saints tried to break the indoor record in their home game against thePanthers on Dec. 8. The effort fell just short, however, with the crowd noise registering 122.6 decibels, four shy of the record of 126 set at a Sacramento Kings basketball game Nov. 15, 2013.

The Saints may have started this season 0-2, but don’t count them out of the playoffs yet, as both of those losses came on the road. The Saints have posted perfect home records in two of the last three seasons, and their home/road win percentage differential since 2010 is the fifth-largest in the league.

5. Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI

How can you not include legendary Lambeau Field in a list of the loudest NFL stadiums? Packers fans are known as some of the rowdiest in all of pro sports, and their passion only increases when the temperature drops and the winds start sweeping through the stadium.

Over the last five seasons, only the Patriots have a better record at home than the Packers, who have also barely won half their road games in that span. The ear-splitting crowd noise was a key part of their Week 2 win against the Jets, as the Packers rallied from an early 18-point deficit thanks to a ill-timed timeout call by the visitors when the Jets were poised to take the lead in the final minutes.

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Washington Redskins Trademark Controversy

October 1, 2014

Interesting new developments with the Washington Redskins trademark. This article is from Megan Finnerty of AZ Central and Erik Brady of USA Today.

The NFL’s Washington Redskins are suing the men and women who brought the case that canceled the team’s federal trademark registrations in June.

Amanda Blackhorse, who is Navajo, was the lead plaintiff in the suit and spoke today from her home in Kayenta on the Navajo Nation.

“We thought they’d file an appeal, but they decided to file a suit against us,” said Blackhorse, a 32-year-old social worker, mother and activist.

“They filed an hour ago. They’re filing this to overturn the decision of the (Trademark Trial and Appeal Board). This is not just going to an appeals court. This is a full-on trial. We’ll have to have our witnesses ready.”

“We were expecting this,” she added. “When they won on appeal last time, in the Harjo case, they won on a legal technicality. And they’re not going to have the chance with us.”

“If people wouldn’t dare call a Native American a ‘redskin’ because they know it is offensive, how can an NFL football team have this name,” Blackhorse went on to say in a statement. “We know that time is on our side for a change in the team’s name, and we are confident we will win once again at this stage of the litigation.”

Blackhorse and her fellow plaintiffs will have some surprises ready for court, said Jesse Witten, an attorney representing the plaintiffs for Washington, D.C.-based Drinker Biddle & Reath.

“We have been thinking about this stage of the case. We are prepared. And we are prepared with some surprises,” Witten said in a call to USA Today.

Team management believes the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ignored both federal case law and the weight of the evidence.

“We look forward to having a federal court review this obviously flawed decision,” Robert Raskopf, the team’s trademark attorney, said in a statement.

The team said in a statement that “the appeal is in the form of a complaint, effectively starting the litigation anew, this time in a federal court before a federal judge, and not in the administrative agency that issued the recent split decision.”

In June, the U.S. Patent Office’s trademark board revoked six federal trademark registrations owned by the team, ruling that “Redskins” was disparaging to “a substantial composite” of Native Americans when the marks were granted between 1967 and 1990.

The team filed the appeal in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and asks the court to look at constitutional issues.

“By canceling valuable, decades-old registrations, the Board improperly penalized the Washington Redskins based on the content of the team’s speech in violation of the First Amendment,” the statement said, adding that “the team has been unfairly deprived of its valuable and long-held intellectual property rights in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

In a statement, Blackhorse went on to say: “Open any dictionary you want – Random House, Merriam-Webster, American Heritage – and you will find a usage note explaining that the term is a disparaging way to refer to Native Americans.

“The National Congress of American Indians, countless Native American tribes and individual Native Americans, have protested. President Obama, other political leaders, media figures and Americans of all backgrounds, beliefs and ages, have also spoken out that it is time for the team name to change.

The Change the Mascot Campaign, led by the National Congress of American Indians and the Oneida Indian Nation, issued a statement as well:

“The National Football League claims it has a no-tolerance policy when it comes to racism, but by continuing to fight a court battle defending its promotion of a dictionary-defined racial slur, the league makes clear it is a proud purveyor of bigotry against Native Americans.”

In 1999, the trademark board canceled the Washington team’s trademark registrations in a previous case, Harjo et al v. Pro-Football Inc., brought by Suzan Shown Harjo and six petitioners. The team won on appeal in part because a district court ruled that the plaintiffs had waited too long to file their suit.

This case, Blackhorse v. Pro Football Inc., used younger petitioners.

The Washington team retains its federal trademark rights pending appeal.

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NCAA Approves Autonomy for the “Big 5″

August 8, 2014
The rich get richer in the with the new autonomy for the Big 5

The rich get richer in the with the new autonomy for the Big 5

Big development for the major conference and landscape of college football. The big 5 (Pac-12, SEC, Big-12, Big-10 and the ACC) we’re in talks of breaking off from the NCAA. Now autonomy has been approved. Brian Bennett from ESPN.Com has the full story.

The power conferences in major college sports just got more powerful — maybe a lot more so.

The NCAA Division I board of directors on Thursday voted 16-2 to allow the schools in the top five conferences to write many of their own rules. The autonomy measures — which the power conferences had all but demanded — will permit those leagues to decide on things such as cost-of-attendance stipends and insurance benefits for players, staff sizes, recruiting rules and mandatory hours spent on individual sports.

“This keeps Division I together,” board chairman and Wake Forest president Nathan Hatch said. “I’m thrilled that Division I and all its virtues can be maintained, and I think this is the pathway to do so.”

The top 64 schools in the richest five leagues (the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12) plus Notre Dame can submit their own legislation by Oct. 1 and have it enacted at the January 2015 NCAA convention in Washington, D.C. Several presidents said Thursday that the full cost-of-attendance stipends, which could be worth between $2,000 and $5,000 per player, likely would be the first item taken up. The NCAA approved those stipends three years ago, but legislation was halted when the full membership voted it down. Four-year scholarship guarantees are expected to be on the early agenda, as well.

“I think you’ll see those issues be acted on very aggressively, right away,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said.

Other new rules the biggest conferences could enact include loosened restrictions involving contact between players and agents, letting players pursue outside paid career opportunities and covering expenses for players’ families to attend postseason games. Areas that will not fall under the autonomy umbrella include postseason tournaments, transfer policies, scholarship limits, signing day and rules governing on-field play.

Leagues outside the Power Five can opt to adopt the same rules. Of course, many schools won’t be able to afford measures like cost-of-attendance stipends. That could create an even larger competitive imbalance between schools in the power conferences and those in leagues like the Sun Belt, MAC or even in the FCS.

“There is a risk the gap will grow; I think we ought to be candid about that,” Rice president David W. Leebron said. “We’re in a world of radically different resources. But those schools with more resources … will have some ability to spend those resources in ways that are actually more rational, particularly with a priority on student-athlete welfare.”

Hatch said there was “some conflict” and disagreement in the board’s discussion about autonomy, which passed without a unanimous vote. Ultimately, though, even those schools that don’t stand to benefit from the new structure did not want to lose their relationships with the power conferences and desired to protect competitions like the NCAA basketball tournament.

“We understand the level at which we compete and we understand the resources we must manage,” Wright State president David Hopkins said. “From our point of view in the Horizon League, we think this is so important that we stay together in Division I.”

If 75 schools from outside the Power Five vote to override the autonomy legislation in the next 60 days, the measures would be sent back to the board of directors for further consideration. But Hatch, who has spoken with nearly every conference and school leader throughout this process, said he was “very confident that it will not be overridden.”

Some conference commissioners and others from the Power Five had made veiled threats about splitting off into a separate division if autonomy failed. This should quiet that talk.

“There was certainly some saber-rattling out there,” Kansas State president Kirk Schulz said. “But I think this puts us in a good spot to make changes a lot of folks have been asking for.”

It’s no coincidence that several of the new rules being proposed under autonomy involve giving athletes more benefits. The NCAA faces attack from several quarters, including the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit, the Northwestern union movement and even Congressional investigations, all of which pose an existential threat to the way college sports are run.

“I think we have to look at why are those things coming up, and sometimes you have to go back to the root causes,” Schulz said. “You look at some of the opportunities here to enhance student-athlete benefits and things like that, and I think it will help mitigate some of the legal [issues], but not all.”

A new 80-member voting panel, which will include 15 current players, will determine autonomous policies for the five leagues. The power conferences will also carry more voting power on general NCAA matters. Athletic directors will have a much larger representation than before, when presidents mostly controlled the system. Rice’s Leebron called the new governance structure a “shift of responsibility” and a “huge vote of confidence” in the athletic directors and players.

Major conferences will still have to agree on issues; to pass a rule requires either a 60 percent majority of the 80-member panel plus three of the five power conferences or a simple majority plus four of the five leagues.

South Carolina president Harris Pastides said he’d like to see new rules limiting contact in football practice and lessening practice hours in all sports. But he’s not sure all his colleagues will always see eye-to-eye.

“I think that’s where the rubber meets the road, quite frankly,” he said. “I can’t wait to be part of those deliberations. It won’t be easy to reach agreement on everything.”

But the most powerful schools in Division I now have a chance to figure things out for themselves and potentially give more back to their players. That’s why Emmert called it “a big, important day.”

“In the end, everyone recognized this was something very good for Division I,” he said. “From my point of view, this is a wonderful development.”

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Kevin Smith, Former UW Receiver, Having a Strong Training Camp for Seahawks

August 5, 2014
Kevin Smith Hauls in a Catch at the Seahawks Mock Game against Richard Sherman.

Kevin Smith Hauls in a Catch at the Seahawks Mock Game against Richard Sherman.

Great post here from Evan Thompson of The Olympian on our client Kevin Smith, Washington’s leading receiver last year who is battling to make the Seahawk’s roster. Follow Kevin’s journey with us.

Which is better?

Three field goals and no touchdowns for the Seattle Seahawks in their first mock game or a rookie wide receiver beating the NFL’s best corner on a fade route?

The latter, most likely.

In the second quarter of the Seahawks’ scrimmage Saturday, former Washington Huskies receiver Kevin Smith ran down the right sideline with Richard Sherman in tow. Tarvaris Jackson looked and found Smith downfield, who successfully beat Sherman for a 26-yard grab.

Smith broke away from Sherman after the catch and might have gone on to score a touchdown had the Seahawks been tackling to the ground.

But for now, Smith has reason to be proud of the accomplishment.

“We’re always competing, no matter what,” Smith said. “If it’s the ones versus ones or twos versus the ones, we’re always coming out competing to the best of our abilities.

“It was cool. We go at it on both sides of the ball, one on one.”

Smith, who led the Huskies in receiving yards last season, went undrafted. He originally signed with the Arizona Cardinals but was released in early June and briefly spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars before being released again on June 19.

He joined the Seahawks on June 25 and was reunited with his former teammate — Jermaine Kearse — who was also undrafted. Kearse was crucial for the Seahawks in their Super Bowl run, after catching seven passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns throughout the playoffs.

“He’s been right there helping me out since Day 1,” Smith said. “Just the little things with special teams and what not, and just learning from him. When we were in college it was kind of the same stuff but with just a little tweak to it.”

Smith hopes to find a place in the receiving corps like Kearse has, along with other fellow undrafted free agents Doug Baldwin and Ricardo Lockette.

“Wherever I can fit, whatever they want me to do, I can go out and do it,” Smith said. “Either just blocking, I’ll go out there and block, or running routes, or going on special teams and make it work there.”

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