The NFL Combine is here and the workouts have begun. With every fraction of second measured it is great to know the difference in timing methods HH, ET and FAT. Below are is also a list of the best recorded time in combine history. Frank Cooney from NFLdraftscout.com has more.
In a long-overdue change that could end years of conflict and confusion at the annual scouting combine, NFL Network — and affiliated league media — plans to display real-time clockings of the celebrated 40-yard dashes during live telecasts of workouts starting Friday.
Although NFL Media’s extensive press release on this year’s dynamic coverage failed to note it, The Sports Xchange learned that Zybek Sports synchronized its technology with NFL Network, which, in a first, will be able to show 40-yard results in real time.
“We’re going to show the clock on the screen,” NFL Media’s Alex Riethmiller confirmed to The Sports Xchange in a phone call.
This seemingly simple action could bring an end to decades of secrecy and years of confusion surrounding the combine’s 40-yard dashes, by far the most popular event despite disputes over its relevance in gauging a player’s football ability. But that’s another issue for another time.
However, the NFL combine’s long-overdue decision to share 40 times so openly will not eliminate controversy.
The decision to reveal results recorded by only one of the three timing methods will complicate, if not sever, the connection for historical comparisons to the 40 times of iconic stars of the past, such as Auburn multisport star Bo Jackson, who was timed in 4.12 seconds in 1986 by a hand-held stopwatch. The best time announced at a combine this century, however, was by running back Chris Johnson of East Carolina in 2008, when he clocked a 4.24 by hand-held and electronic methods — more on that later.
As fans and participants rev up for this year’s runs at the combine, nobody is expected to beat either of those times, but the best candidates to get closest are:
• Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett of Miami, who has a verified 4.37 and an unverified 4.29.
• Wide receiver Sammie Coates of Auburn is expected to be in the low 4.3s.
• Wide receiver Devin Smith of Ohio State has extensive training in track, and should be a workout warrior with one of the best 40 times based on his 28.2 yards per catch average as a senior.
So why are there comparisons to Johnson and not Jackson at 4.12?
There’s the rub.
Until 1990, 40-yard dash times for NFL prospects were measured by starting and stopping a stopwatch by hand, which is called hand-held timing (HH). It is not the most accurate method, but remains a source of fabled sprints — such as Jackson’s — and the one still used most often in high school and college timings.
Not coincidently, it almost always yields the fastest times.
In the 1990s, a system was added that started the time by hand and stopped it when the runner crossed a beam at the finish. That is referred to as electronic timing (ET), despite the fact it is actually only half electronic and half human intervention. For the past five combines, results were also created by fully automated timing (FAT), with the clock starting electronically when a runner lifts his hand and ends when he crosses the beam.
The time NFL Network will show live on their broadcast is the hybrid electronic time that is slower than the hand-held but faster than the fully automated method. To be clear, the National Invitational Combine (NIC) group that runs the event records times via all three methods — hand held, electronic and, for the past five years, fully automated.
For decades, combine officials did not reveal times directly to the media. But 11 years ago, NFL media, including NFL Network and NFL.com, began covering the event and needed to announce something to the audience immediately after a run. Until this year, that time was recorded by Charley Casserly, a former general manager with Washington and Houston, who did his best from a seat in the stands.
Despite calling that early clocking unofficial, it still caused a stir if the time was close to or bettered a record, and that stir was turbocharged by the advent of social media. Invariably, another time handed down from combine officials up to an hour later was much slower.
This year’s real-time broadcast not only should minimize confusion, but also probably shows a shift in power from those who run the combine to the money-making power of NFL Media on television, online and through a new app.
“NFL network is in charge of that, you will have to call them,” was the response to a phone call asking NIC officials to verify that the 40 times would be televised real time.
Riethmiller, who works for NFL Media in Los Angeles, confirmed that they “didn’t want to have Charley Casserly trying to give times from a seat in the stadium; we needed something that worked better.”
So Michael Weinstein, founder of Colorado-based Zybek Sports, which has provided state-of-the-art timing equipment for several years, worked with NFL Network to synchronize times for real-time broadcasting.
“The plan is to display the 40 hand start and laser finish times real-time on the TV through the NFL media,” Weinstein told The Sports Xchange. “We have it programmed and tested and everything works. On the TV, you will see the running clock, the 10-yard split and the 40-yard time.
“We are coordinating directly with the NFL media. Although these will still be called the unofficial times until they are official, I doubt there will be any changes.”
Riethmiller explained that, despite being able to televise the clocking in real time, there may be a delay before declaring it official. Weinstein said a review of last year’s data shows that the screen output was exactly the same every time compared to what was announced as official.
OK, now let’s go back to comparing various 40-yard times over years and decades.
Based on empirical data from thousands of 40-yard dashes compiled by Zybek Sports, the hand-held times are invariably fastest, with the electronic hybrid (ET) adding an average of .175 seconds and the fully automated (FAT) adding .24 seconds.
But never underestimate the impact of human intervention. As it turns out, Johnson’s best time in 2008 of 4.24 seconds was the same via hand held and electronic. Make what you want of that, but it was a statistical and historic anomaly.
Speaking of history, the challenge now for interested runners and fans is whether to put Jackson’s time in perspective with those after 1990, or vice versa?
Weinstein notes that football fans are sensitive to the slightest differences in times for the 40-yard dash that is not only popular, but extremely important at all levels. His goal to create a standardized timing method that is used to equalize 40-yard results from high school through the pros in all sports.
After an extensive analysis of 40-yard times, Weinstein quantified their impact.
“There are 6.9 million high school athletes in the United States that are competing for 450,000 College positions,” Weinstein wrote in the conclusion to his study. “Presenting accurate and consistent data from standardized combine testing is increasingly important as the number of competitors continues to grow and as modern training methods are expanding the bounds of athletic potential.
“The error from hand timing results in a minimum of 0.1 to 0.25-second difference from electronic timing should be considered if hand timing is being used for ranking athletes. Finally, accurate and repeatable testing data provides a training metric that can be used for improving the combine scores. Minor improvements in an athlete’s score can make a big difference in their future.”
So, as the NFL combine enters a new age of transparency, here is a look at the best 40-yard times this century. There are two lists, one sorted by the best electronic (ET) time and another by the best hand-held times.
While Johnson is No. 1 on the list of best electronic times (ET), it is interesting to note differences in the list of hand-held times, especially that four players were clocked faster than Johnson’s 4.24, including a 4.16 by Kent State wide receiver Dri Archer last year, although his ET was a full tenth of a second slower, good for second place at 4.26.
Top Testing Scores from 2000-2014 NFL combines
Fastest 40-yard hand/electric times (Started by hand, stopped by beam)
Time starts on player’s first movement
ET Time,(HH time) Player, Position, College, Year, * – Underclassman
4.24 – (4.24) Chris Johnson, (RB), East Carolina – 2008
4.26 – (4.16) Dri Archer, (WR), Kent State – 2014
4.27 – (4.21) Marquise Goodwin, (WR), Texas – 2013
4.28 – (4.22) Jacoby Ford, (WR), Clemson – 2010
4.28 – (4.25) Demarcus Van Dyke, (CB), Miami – 2011
4.30 – (4.25) *Darrius Heyward-Bey, (WR), Maryland – 2009
4.32 – (4.26) Jerome Mathis, (WR), Hampton – 2005
4.33 – (4.29) *Fabian Washington, (CB), Nebraska – 2005
4.33 – (4.28) Mike Wallace, (WR), Mississippi – 2009
4.33 – (4.29) Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, (CB), Tennessee State – 2008
4.33 – (4.29) *Josh Robinson, (CB), Central Florida – 2012
4.34 – (4.21) Trindon Holliday, (WR), LSU – 2010
4.34 – (4.28) Ryan Swope, (WR), Texas A&M – 2013
4.34 – (4.28) Tavon Austin, (WR), West Virginia – 2013
4.34 – (4.28) Onterio McCalebb, (RB), Auburn – 2013
4.34 – (4.29) Johnny Knox, (WR), Abilene Christian – 2009
4.34 – (4.30) Darrent Williams, (CB), Oklahoma State – 2005
4.34 – (4.31) *Patrick Peterson, (CB), LSU – 2011
4.35 – (4.30) Yamon Figurs, (WR), Kansas State – 2007
4.36 – (4.28) *Stephen Hill, (WR), Georgia Tech – 2012
4.37 – (4.27) C.J. Spiller, (RB), Clemson – 2010
4.37 – (4.31) Justin Gilbert, (CB), Oklahoma State – 2014
4.39 – (4.27) Stanford Routt, (CB), Houston – 2005
4.40 – (4.30) Mike Thomas, (WR), Arizona – 2009
4.43 – (4.31) Taylor Mays, (FS), Southern Cal – 2010
Fastest 40-yard hand-held times (Started, stopped by hand)
Time starts on player’s first movement
HH Time,(ET time) Player, Position, College, Year, * – Underclassman
4.16 – (4.26) Dri Archer, (WR), Kent State – 2014
4.21 – (4.27) Marquise Goodwin, (WR), Texas – 2013
4.21 – (4.34) Trindon Holliday, (WR), LSU – 2010
4.22 – (4.28) Jacoby Ford, (WR), Clemson – 2010
4.24 – (4.24) Chris Johnson, (RB), East Carolina – 2008
4.25 – (4.28) Demarcus Van Dyke, (CB), Miami – 2011
4.25 – (4.30) *Darrius Heyward-Bey, (WR), Maryland – 2009
4.26 – (4.32) Jerome Mathis, (WR), Hampton – 2005
4.27 – (4.37) C.J. Spiller, (RB), Clemson – 2010
4.27 – (4.39) Stanford Routt, (CB), Houston – 2005
4.28 – (4.33) Mike Wallace, (WR), Mississippi – 2009
4.28 – (4.34) Ryan Swope, (WR), Texas A&M – 2013
4.28 – (4.34) Tavon Austin, (WR), West Virginia – 2013
4.28 – (4.34) Onterio McCalebb, (RB), Auburn – 2013
4.28 – (4.36) *Stephen Hill, (WR), Georgia Tech – 2012
4.29 – (4.33) *Fabian Washington, (CB), Nebraska – 2005
4.29 – (4.33) Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, (CB), Tennessee State – 2008
4.29 – (4.33) *Josh Robinson, (CB), Central Florida – 2012
4.29 – (4.34) Johnny Knox, (WR), Abilene Christian – 2009
4.30 – (4.34) Darrent Williams, (CB), Oklahoma State – 2005
4.30 – (4.35) Yamon Figurs, (WR), Kansas State – 2007
4.30 – (4.40) Mike Thomas, (WR), Arizona – 2009
4.31 – (4.34) *Patrick Peterson, (CB), LSU – 2011
4.31 – (4.37) Justin Gilbert, (CB), Oklahoma State – 2014
4.31 – (4.43) Taylor Mays, (FS), Southern Cal – 2010
Fore more information consider contacting a Seattle NFL Agent.
NFL Combine week is here and is the most important week of the year for an NFL agent. Many hours and dollars have been spent recruiting and training clients, and careers can be made or broken off of a fraction of a second. Darren Heitner of Forbes has more on the challenges of a growing NFL Agency
The 2015 NFL Scouting Combine is set to begin February 17 and will continue through February 23. After only 7 months of existence, Atlanta-based startup sports agency Element Sports Group is sending 6 of its 7 rookie clients to the event. Founders Michael Perrett and Kevin McGuire, former employees at competing Atlanta-based sports agency, SportsTrust Advisors, are admittedly overwhelmed with excitement for their first NFL Combine on their own despite their combined decades of experience in the industry, understanding that they have many sleepless nights ahead of them and depletion of their bank accounts due to the exorbitant costs attached to preparing players for the important experience ahead of them.
“It’s Wednesday to Sunday, non-stop, 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.,” explained Perrett while discussing the NFL Combine. ”By the time Sunday hits, you just want to get on a plane and head home.”
Perrett and his partner McGuire represent South Carolina offensive lineman A.J. Cann, tight end Rory “Busta” Anderson and quarterback Dylan Thompson, Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates and running back Cameron Artis-Payne, Florida center Max Garcia and Ohio State cornerback Doran Grant. All but Thompson have been invited to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine.
Sending 6 rookie clients to the Combine is no short task. It is also an expensive venture. All 6 players, as well as Thompson, have been preparing for the NFL at training facilities with costly fixed fee retainer agreements in place. Element Sports Group sent 3 of its clients to EXOS (formerly Athletes’ Performance), 1 client to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, another player to XPE Sports and two clients toGoldin Athletic Training Association (GATA) in Atlanta.
“As business owners, the costs rise every year,” added Perrett. ”That’s an investment we are willing to make.”
Perrett would not state exactly how much money he and McGuire have spent thus far to prepare his players for the Combine and NFL Draft, but he did say that his startup company has paid a significant amount of money.
“It’s not just training,” explained Perrett. ”It’s housing, meals, physical therapy, rental cars, if a guy wants to fly home for a weekend to visit mom or have girlfriend come visit him. It’s a major investment we are willing to make. You want to be in the business of representing top players, this is just what it is.”
The expenses tied to preparing their clients are coming to a close. Now Perrett and McGuire are focused on what will take place during the sleepless days and nights that await at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. They have their rookie clients to take care of, but also will be hard at work trying to get deals done for their veteran clients before free agency arrives.
“We’re seven months into this, but we have 27 clients, 7 of which are rookies,” said McGuire. ”To be in its infancy with so many clients, it shows what kind of success we’ve had and what kind of success we hope to maintain going forward.”
NFL veteran clients of Element Sports Group include Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward and Jacksonville Jaguars running back Denard Robinson.
Fore more information consider contacting a Seattle NFL Agent.
In 2010, when the Pete Carroll and John Schneider regime began, they made an astonishing 284 player transactions to overhaul the roster. Seattle’s brain trust has been the most unique front office in the NFL and this off-season we will sea if they can pull off an unprecedented move.The NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement locks in all rookies drafted between rounds 2 and 7 will have a 4 year contract with the ability to renegotiate after the 3rd season. Quarterback Russell Wilson has just completed his third season and is due for a big increase in salary. The Seahawks in the past two years have already reworked bigger deals for Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, Bobby Wagner, KJ Wright, Cliff Avril, Doug Baldwin and others. The NFL’s salary cap will make it extremely difficult for the Hawks to give Russell a ‘max’ contract and been competitive in free agency this off-season. If there is any front office in the league that can be innovative and create a new way for a Quarterback to receive over a $100 Million contract without greatly hurting the team’s cap space, it is the Carroll-Schneider duo. We will see how creative they can be. Kipp Adams of 247 Sports has more on the story.
After being arguably the NFL’s best bargain for the past three seasons, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is close to getting a big-money contract extension.
But like any franchise quarterback, the challenge for the Seahawks front office is how to pay Wilson without sacrificing a chance to maintain a Super Bowl caliber roster around him. Not every big-money quarterback contract is the same – like Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees got huge guaranteed salary, while others like Colin Kaepernick and Andy Daltonwho got pay-as-you-go contracts.
During a segment Tuesday on 710 ESPN Radio in Seattle, Seahawks general manager John Schneider said the front office might eschew traditional quarterback contracts when extending Wilson’s deal.
“I will say this, first-and-foremost there’s really no handbook for this job that we have, other than the fact that we are going to do what’s best for this organization,” Schneider said. “That’s the No. 1 thing, I think Russell Wilson wants to win championships. We talk about being a consistent championship caliber football team – that means thinking outside the box a lot of times. We will do that with Russell.”
What exactly this outside-the-box approach means is not known. Maybe Seattle gives Wilson a lower annual salary, say $16-18 million per season, but fully guarantees the entire contract, something that rarely occurs past the second season in a new deal. That would put the Seahawks at risk, in case Wilson is injured or his play declines, but would also allow them to get a more cap-friendly deal with quarterback salaries pushing over $22 million per season.
“Russell knows there are certain dominoes have to fall in line or fall in place,” Schneider said. “I have talked to his agent now, much like several of our unrestricted free agents. He knows – he gets it – he wants to win and he wants to win for a long time.
“We are going to do what’s best for this organization moving forward first and foremost. That does not mean that you just do exactly what everybody else has done around the league. I think we have proven that we do things in the manner that we want to attack it.”
Giving Wilson a seven-year contract with $116 million fully guaranteed would still give him the biggest contract, when it comes to most guaranteed salary in NFL history. And it would definitely be outside the box.
Fore more information consider contacting a Seattle NFL Agent.
There was no shortage of controversies last season for the NFL. Domestic violence issued swirled around two of it’s biggest stars, Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. Drug abuse continued to follow rising star, Josh Gordon. And cheating conspiracies again tainted the NFL’s currently most successful franchise. Still what has not been discussed as heavily as it should be, is the NFL’s biggest problem, CTE. Junior Seau, inducted into the Hall of Fame last week, took his life due to the depression and pain brought on by this terrible disease. It’s time the NFL focus on its biggest issue.
Report from ESPN.com Dallas has more info on Tony Dorsett’s struggles with CTE.
Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett, who was diagnosed with having signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in 2013, said he is “in a battle” and that he had no idea “that the end was going to be like this.”
CTE is a degenerative condition many scientists say is caused by head trauma and is linked to depression and dementia. It is indicated by a buildup of tau, an abnormal protein that strangles brain cells in areas that control memory, emotions and other functions.
Dorsett was diagnosed along with Joe DeLamielleure and Leonard Marshall in November 2013 after undergoing brain scans and clinical evaluations at UCLA.
“I signed up for this when, I guess, I started playing football so many years ago,” Dorsett told 1310 The Ticket in Dallas. “But, obviously, not knowing that the end was going to be like this. But I love the game. The game was good to me. It’s just unfortunate that I’m going through what I’m going through.
“I’m in the fight, man. I’m not just laying around letting this overtake me. I’m fighting. I’m in the battle. I’m hoping we can reverse this thing somehow.”
The 60-year-old Dorsett, the 1976 Heisman Trophy winner who played with the Dallas Cowboysand is the NFL’s eighth all-time leading rusher, has struggled with his memory and has said in the past that he had trouble controlling his emotions and was prone to outbursts at his wife and daughters.
“It’s very frustrating at times for me. I’ve got a good team of people around me, my wife and kids, who work with me,” he said. “When you’ve been in this town for so long and I have to go to some place I’ve been going to for many, many, many years, and then all of a sudden I forget how to get there. Those things are frustrating when it comes to those things.
“I understand that I’m combating it, trying to get better. But, you know, some days are good. Some days are bad.”
Fore more information consider contacting a Seattle NFL Agent.
Here we go again. Every NFL off season over the past 20 years has begged the question, when is the NFL returning to LA? Let the rumors begin again as property has been purchased by Rams owner Stan Kroenke. Arash Markazi from ESPN LA reports the details on this story.
The St. Louis Rams could be headed back to Los Angeles as early as 2016.
A year after purchasing 60 acres of land in Inglewood adjacent to the Forum and Hollywood Park, Rams owner Stan Kroenke has teamed up with the owners of the Hollywood Park site to build an NFL stadium, the Hollywood Park Land Company announced Monday.
Stockbridge Capital Group, which owns the 298-acre Hollywood Park site, already had plans for a mixed-use community on the land that formerly housed the famed thoroughbred racing track, which closed in late 2013.
Signature gathering will begin soon for an initiative that would place the “City of Champions Revitalization Project” on the Inglewood municipal ballot in 2015.
As described in the ballot measure, the 298-acre project will include a stadium of up to 80,000 seats and a performance venue of up to 6,000 seats while re-configuring the previously approved Hollywood Park plan for up to 890,000 square feet of retail, 780,000 square feet of office space, 2,500 new residential units, a 300-room hotel, and 25 acres of public parks, playgrounds, open space and pedestrian and bicycle access.
The stadium authorized by the ballot measure will be designed by HKS, Inc., one of the world’s leading firms for the design of sports and entertainment complexes. A successful ballot measure would shorten the timeframe for Inglewood’s approval of a stadium, and would mean that professional sports could return to Inglewood in 2018.
Many proposed stadium plans have come and gone in the hopes of bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles after the city lost both the Raiders and Rams after the 1994 season, but none of those plans were ever backed by a current NFL owner capable of moving his team into the country’s second-largest market.
The Rams are expected to convert their lease at St. Louis’ Edward Jones Dome to a year-to-year agreement later this month and, if the team and the city fail to come to an agreement to build a new stadium, the Rams could move back to the area it called home from 1946 to 1994.
“We are excited to unveil an expanded plan that will bring a world-class sports and entertainment district to Hollywood Park,” Terry Fancher, founder of Stockbridge, said in a release. “We are committed to working with [the Kroenke Group] to build a project that will put Inglewood back on the map as home of the truly great sports and entertainment venues.”
Signature gathering will begin soon for an initiative that would place the City of Champions Revitalization Project on the Inglewood municipal ballot in 2015.
Developers of the project asid that no tax dollars would be used for the construction project — including the stadium and more than 4 million square feet of retail, office, hotel and residential space — which could be completed by 2018. Before construction can begin, however, the project must pass several political and environmental hurdles and the Rams must, of course, commit to moving back to Los Angeles after the 2015 season.
Any NFL franchise interested in relocating for the next season would have to apply between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15 of that year, according to league bylaws, and prove it has exhausted all attempts to remain in its current location. The earliest a team could relocate to Los Angeles would be January 2016, and that team would likely play in either the L.A. Coliseum or the Rose Bowl until a new stadium is completed.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last month that no teams would be moving to Los Angeles for the 2015 season.
The two teams that have always made the most sense to relocate to Los Angeles are the last two NFL teams to leave Los Angeles 20 years ago: the Oakland Raiders and the Rams.
The Raiders’ lease to play at O.co Coliseum, formerly known as the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, has expired, and the team is now on a year-to-year agreement. Meanwhile, the Rams can get out of their lease agreement with the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission to play at the Edward Jones Dome, as well.
The third team in play for L.A., the San Diego Chargers, can announce its intention to leave San Diego between Feb. 1 and May 1 of each year through 2020 if it pays an early-termination fee tied to the bonds used to expand Qualcomm Stadium in 1997.
The original plan for Hollywood Park, which is 3 miles east of the Los Angeles International Airport, included the construction of 2,995 homes, 620,000 square feet of retail space and 25 acres of parks. A major park called Champion Park is slated to be constructed as part of the first phase.
There are two other stadium proposals currently on the table for NFL stadiums in Los Angeles. The Anschutz Entertainment Group, the company behind Farmers Field, a proposed $1.5 billion football stadium and convention center expansion in downtown Los Angeles, got a six-month extension in October to its existing agreement with the city of Los Angeles for the project.
AEG requested an extension to allow for additional time to pursue an NFL team and to further assess and develop an alternative development plan for the expansion and modernization of the Los Angeles Convention Center and the potential construction of another large hotel at L.A. Live.
It committed to spend up to $600,000 over the next six months to commission designs for a proposed alternative plan for the convention center expansion and improvement, as well as the possibility of an additional 750-room hotel adjacent to L.A. Live and the Convention Center.
A competing stadium proposed by real estate magnate Ed Roski in the City of Industry, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, has been deemed shovel-ready for years. But as is the case with Farmers Field, it needs a long-term commitment from an NFL team before construction can begin.
Roski’s 600 acres in the City of Industry could be used for commercial development if a stadium never materializes. Nearly 20 years ago, NFL owners approved a plan to build a new, privately financed $200 million stadium in Hollywood Park to keep the Raiders in town after the Rams had already bolted for St. Louis.
The stadium would have been the home of the Raiders, at least two future Super Bowls and potentially a second NFL team. Raiders owner Al Davis, however, balked at the idea of sharing a stadium with a second team and headed back to Oakland.
Two decades later, the NFL could be looking at a return to Los Angeles and to the last, best stadium proposal the city had to keep the NFL in the first place. Fore more information consider contacting a Seattle NFL Agent.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post breaks down the impeding decision that could great affect Major Baseball and Cuba’s greatest export, baseball players.
President Obama’s move to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba will resonate through baseball. The trickle of dazzling talent that already flows from the baseball-crazed island could turn into a geyser, a stream of available players that would force Major League Baseball to frame and police how teams acquire Cuban players. The political thaw would also eliminate the dangerous back channels of defection. The impact on the sport could be immense and, in the words of one team official, “drastic.”
Even with a political blockade between Cuba and the United States, players born in Cuba have shaped the game. White Sox designated hitter Jose Abreu earned last year’s American League Rookie of the Year. Tigers outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has won the past two Home Run Derbies. Outfielder Rusney Castillo signed a $72.5 million contract with the Boston Red Sox. Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig received a nickname – “The Wild Horse” – from no less of an authority than Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully.
A new burst of talent may arrive from Cuba’s highest level into the majors and the upper levels of the minor leagues in the United States. Scouts would flock to youth tournaments in an attempt to discover teenaged players with huge potential and sign them on the cheap. Within a few years, baseball academies may spread across the island covered in the logos of major league teams, same as the patchwork of diamonds clustered around barracks-style dormitories strewn over the Dominican Republic.
On the day President Obama announced his intention to end the 53-year standoff, the league still waited for the situation to develop. Multiple high-ranking team officials declined comment, underscoring the topic’s sensitive nature.
“Major League Baseball is closely monitoring the White House’s announcement regarding Cuban-American relations,” the league said in a statement. “While there are not sufficient details to make a realistic evaluation, we will continue to track this significant issue, and we will keep our clubs informed if this different direction may impact the manner in which they conduct business on issues related to Cuba.”
The changes could come fast, because baseball prepared for this day. One Latin American scouting director, who has worked with Cuban baseball players since 1990, said he already has plans for the logistics of how to scout players on the island and the optimal place to build an academy. “I know what I would do,” he said. “I would just have to get approval from ownership.”
Latin American talent already saturates the sport, and the potential for a system in which teams can openly acquire talent from Cuba will only bolster the region’s influence. The Dominican Republic, with a population of roughly 10.4 million, accounted for 9.7 percent of the players on major league opening day rosters, according to MLB figures. The talent pool in Cuba, the scouting director said, is “on the same plane” as the Dominican Republic. The country has a population of roughly 11.3 million. Within a decade or so, baseball could see a demographic turnover of its talent pool of 10 percent or more.
“It would be a huge boon for the U.S.,” the Latin American scouting director said. “It would be another island that’s fertile. Then it’s gets confusing.”
Major League Baseball would need to determine what set of rules it implements for teams acquiring Cuban players. The league would hope for Cuban officials to allow it to use the same set of rules that apply in other Latin American countries: players over 23 would be considered free agents, and signing bonuses for players under 23 would be subject to spending limits per team.
But the Cuban government, as raised by Ben Badler of Baseball America, may provide complications. Cuba could put in place a system in which MLB teams bid for the right to sign top Cuban players, similar to the posting system used by Japan’s top league, except the money would flow to the government as opposed to a private league.
Cuban baseball already has made a lasting impact on the major leagues. Of the 186 players born in Cuba to reach the majors, 25 appeared last season. Their achievements created a Cuban golden age. Livan Hernandez lifted the Florida Marlins to the 1997 World Series and threw the first pitch upon baseball’s return to Washington. The Cincinnati Reds’ Aroldis Chapman throws more 100-mile-per-hour fastballs than any pitcher alive. Outfielder Jorge Soler is at the core of the Chicago Cubs’ rebuilding efforts.
But as more players defected, the stories of how they arrived turned grimmer. For years, Cuban baseball players morphed into a dark cottage industry, a black market unto themselves, their talent inviting danger as it created opportunity. Smuggling and secrecy have imperiled defectors’ safety, robbed them of money and chiseled at their dignity
Shadowy figures rubbed up against the baseball apparatus – prior to his arrival in the United States, Puig famously spent weeks in Mexico under the watch of men associated with the Los Zetas drug cartel. In 1999, pitcher Danys Baez snuck out of the Pan Am Games in Winnipeg without telling his family, friends or teammates, fearful of consequences. “You can’t tell anyone,” he said.
For years, the Cold War chill between the U.S. and Cuba left some of the most talented players in the world alone and vulnerable to exploitation. Now there is a real chance doors will open. Lourdes Gourriel, one of the top players still in Cuba, may now play in the majors without sacrificing his safety. His father, also named Lourdes, and his older brother Yulieski never had the chance. After Wednesday’s announcement, those kinds of missed opportunities may soon disappear.
Fore more information consider contacting a Seattle NFL Agent.
Just as soon as news broke that Ryan Howard’s parents were in a legal fight asking for $10 Million, story broke on another professional athlete involved in a financial struggle with his parents. Just another reason to watch ESPN’s 30 for 30 “Broke” and read our previoused blogged article on athlete’s finances. ESPN’s Katie Strong has the story along with Paula Lavigne and Scott Burnside.
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and, according to a Columbus Dispatch report, claims that his parents are responsible for helping lead him “financially astray.”
According to the Dispatch story, before Johnson signed his seven-year, $30.5 million deal in 2011, he granted power of attorney to his mother, Tina Johnson, that gave her full control of his finances.
Jack Johnson claims that Tina Johnson and his father Jack Sr. bought a house in Manhattan Beach, California, with his money but without the player’s knowledge, according to the report. In addition, Johnson’s parents borrowed $15 million against their son’s future earnings. Many of the loans carried high interest rates, according to the Dispatch. The mortgage on the house carried a 12 percent rate, while a loan for $3 million was at 24 percent, leading to huge fees and, ultimately, default.
According to documents filed in the United States Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District Court of Ohio that were obtained by ESPN.com, the 27-year-old Johnson has little left of the almost $18 million he has earned throughout his nine-year NHL career. His future earnings also appear compromised because of a tremendous amount of debt incurred, with court documents showing a list of creditors with unsecured claims totaling more than $1.68 million.
In the filing, Johnson claims assets of less than $50,000.
The Dispatch reported, through a source, that Johnson has cut off all contact with his family.
“I’d say I picked the wrong people who led me down the wrong path,” Johnson told The Dispatch last week. “I’ve got people in place who are going to fix everything now. It’s something I should have done a long time ago.”
Johnson, who is represented by Columbus-based attorney Marc Kessler, is reportedly now surrounded by financial advisers and a legal team retained to protect his interests. Johnson dropped former agent Pat Brisson in 2008.
According to the Dispatch story, Johnson’s parents also spent money on cars, upgrades to the California home and travel costs while following their son as he played for the Los Angeles Kings and Blue Jackets.
According to one source familiar with the situation, there were warning signs early on during Johnson’s professional career, but the scenario is not altogether uncommon with hockey parents who have invested a lot in their children’s futures.
“It happens way more than it should,” the source told ESPN.com.
The parents are named in the suit as among Johnson’s creditors, but he is reportedly not interested in pursuing criminal charges against them. According to the Dispatch story, he is worried about the welfare of his 16-year-old brother, who lives with his parents in Michigan.
Johnson has petitioned to maintain his existing bank accounts so as to continue payment for living expenses, with court documents revealing that, at the date of petition, he carried a balance of $6,339 in his checking account and $2,202.62 in his savings account.
The former first-round pick, who has seven assists in 15 games this season, has three seasons remaining on the $30.5 million deal.
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