Goodell turning NFL into a drag

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Goodell turning NFL into a drag

In the good old days when the NFL was better at selling and not so interested in bullying its customers and employees, it would have found a way to make its officials lockout more . . . well, fun.

Celebrity officials would have been the start, or lucky fan officials, or Vote For Your Favorite Ridiculous Call. They might even have had one game where the players and coaches called their own penalties, although Jim Harbaugh would not have been involved in that because he would be too busy trying to swindle the other side on every play.

In short, they would have monetized their labor problem by making it interactive, and monetizing the hell out of it. And because they are the best at doing those things, theyd have been great at it.

Instead, they have done what is the hallmark of the Goodell-Taking-Orders Administration. They have decided their marketing campaign would be him frowning and snarling, This isnt about what you want. Its about what we want. Bow to your corporate overlords.

Thats not the message you, the customer, wants to hear, but it is the message his 32 bosses want to give. In fighting so stridently and arrogantly for so little money, they are upholding a principle that is near and dear to them -- their right to win everything, every time.

Hey, its a nice philosophy if you can pull it off, but in America, where the culture runs on the myths and whims of entertainment, the audience likes to be jollied along while its being taken for its walk. They want the purveyors of the entertainment to pretend they care, and theyll buy almost any stupid premise if they think the boss is at least trying to play along.

But the NFL in the Goodell-As-Front-Man Era is defined by the notion that the owners entertainment comes first, and their entertainment is not about anyones fun but their own. And their fun seems mostly to be derived by letting everyone know that their fun crushing employees who want a raise, mostly -- comes first.

Thus, the latest spate of officiating failures will be filed away with all the others, wrapped in a nice press release that says, Theyre doing a GREAT job, damn it, and thats an order.

As always, inflexible, bullying, and tone-deaf. The three things that sell poorest in a consumer economy.

RATTO: To NFL brass, fans are simply wallets with feet

What happened to the good old slap-and-tickle the NFL used to be so good at? The warm and fuzzy feature about this line judge who used to sell insurance and work at Kinkos to put his kids through high school? A Rich Eisen essay on the Lingerie Football Leagues officiating school? A Football Follies episode on Ed Hochulis guns in repose?

What happened, in short, to the NFLs willingness to laugh at itself while still having the wit and reach to find your wallet? Its gone, replaced by two middle fingers and a Take It Or Leave It, And Then Get Screwed On The Other Side motto. It has replaced the game on the field with the game in the boardroom as its raison-detre. Its given us months upon months of Whats best for the owners in their constant struggle to make more money than God?

They have, in short, embraced the idea that the owners are the reason for the season, and owners are notoriously poor at finding the humor in anything that involves labor relations.

So Goodell gets his twice-monthly check and juts his jaw out, reminding everyone that what they are seeing every Thursday, Sunday and Monday is actually not bad officiating, but good officiating, and then trying to bully compliance with fines or other punishments.

This wasnt his M.O. when he took the job. He was going to be warmer and fuzzier than Paul Tagliabue, an admittedly subterranean bar to clear, and he is somehow managing to fail at it. Not because he is having an argument with officials over compensation, but because hes been so deadly dull, dry and humorless about it.

Roger Goodell has committed the unforgivable sin. In being the front man for the owners, he decided to model their behaviors rather than soft-focus them. He has become a dean of students. Hes turning the NFL into a drag, and himself along the way.

Locals among cornerbacks who can help Raiders early in NFL Draft

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AP

Locals among cornerbacks who can help Raiders early in NFL Draft

The Raiders have an opening in their secondary.

Finding a slot cornerback is a top priority with DJ Hayden now in Detroit. TJ Carrie is an option there, but the Raiders could add a young, versatile talent capable of taking a more prominent role down the line.

That’s true despite the fact Sean Smith signed a free-agent deal through 2019 last year and David Amerson received a contract extension through the 2020 season. Those contracts, however, become pay-as-you-go deals after this season.

The dead money goes away, freeing the Raiders to look for long-term upgrades if they see fit.

Head coach Jack Del Rio loves creating competition and depth, especially at such an important position in today’s NFL. The Raiders like larger, physical cornerbacks with ball skills, and there are plenty in this year’s draft.

Many analysts have the Raiders taking a cornerback at No. 24 overall, and that’s a realistic possibility. They could certainly look to help last year’s No. 24-ranked secondary in the early rounds.

Let’s take a look at some top options available in this week’s draft:

Good fits:There are quite a few quality cornerbacks who could be available at No. 24 overall, even if there’s an early run on the position.

Oakland native and Washington alum Kevin King visited the Raiders during the pre-draft process, and certainly fits what the Raiders like in a cornerback. He’s confident and aggressive, unafraid to use great physical traits to make plays on the ball. He’s tall and long and isn’t afraid to tackle.

USC’s Adoree Jackson has the quality ball skills the Raiders like, and is adept high-pointing the ball. Analysts say he can play several coverage techniques and has the agility to make up for mistakes. He can work in the slot, but at 5-foot-10 isn’t as tall as the Raiders like. They’d have to take him in the first round. He may not last beyond that.

San Jose native and Colorado product Chidobe Awuzie is another interesting local defensive back ready to turn pro. He can play outside or in the slot, and analysts say he has excellent one-on-one coverage skills but needs tackling work. He was a solid slot blitzer at Colorado, and could fill an immediate need crucial against so many three and four receiver sets.

Louisiana State’s Tre’Davious White has experience playing the slot, and could help right away there before transferring outside if asked. He can cover extremely well, though analysts say he isn’t much of a tackler. He might be a tweener as far as the Raiders are concerned, not worthy of the No. 24 pick but long gone before the Raiders pick in the second round.

Central Florida’s Shaquill Griffin visited the Raiders this spring, and rightfully so. A willing run defender with good ball skills and tackling ability who could be available in the third round should intrigue them.

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

It’s officially NFL draft week. Marshawn Lynch still isn’t a Raider.

A contract impasse remained as of Sunday morning, a few days before general manager Reggie McKenzie’s desire for a by-Thursday resolution.

Deadlines, even soft ones, prompt deals. But Marshawn is unique, adding a level of uncertainty to procedings. 

The Raiders would prefer Lynch agree to terms on a new contract so they can acquire his rights from Seattle -- that’s the easier part – and know where they stand heading into the NFL Draft.

McKenzie left several doors cracked during a Friday pre-draft presser, saying Lynch’s presence wouldn’t stop him from drafting a rusher, not having the Oakland native wouldn’t guarantee it, and that there’s always a chance Lynch could come later no matter what happens during amateur selection.

Those things could be true. Or, you know, not. McKenzie prefers mystery this time of year.

Bottom line: The Raiders need a bigger back to pair with smaller, yet elusive runners DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard.

The Raiders want Lynch to fill the void. Ditto for Raider Nation, especially the Oakland state. A few free-agent options remain, including LaGarrette Blount. Or the Raiders could draft a back, something the Raiders have done well in later rounds.

They got Latavius Murray in the sixth round four years back, and he provided quality before changing uniforms this offseason. They got Washington in the fifth last time and pulled Richard from undrafted free agency. They could mine talent again this year. Waiting seems more likely if Lynch is around. 

Quality abounds in this draft class, with several worthy of early selections and talent easily found late. Let’s inspect McKenzie’s draft options at running back, should he need one:

Good fits: It’s hard to see the Raiders looking at a rusher in the first round, considering the draft’s depth at the position and major defensive needs. A first-round talent might be considered in the second. If controversial former Oklahoma rusher Joe Mixon is available following a free fall due to off-field issues described in detail here, a running back might come early.

Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara could be another Day 2 option, an explosive talent who analysts say has wiggle and power to create coveted yards after contact. He could be a three-down back thanks to quality as a receiver.

Odds are, however, the Raiders will look deeper into the draft. Wyoming’s Brian Hill was an excellent college producer who runs strong and might fit well into the Raiders rotation. Round projections vary, but he should be available on Day 3.

Pittsburgh’s James Conner offers great power at 233 pounds. He could run through tacklers and wear down defenses for the Raiders’ shift backs. He's also well known for drive and work ethic. He is projected as a fifth or sixth round pick.

Brigham Young’s Jamaal Williams might offer value and power rushing later in the draft. Clemson’s Wayne Gallman has tackle-breaking ability, but analysts say he isn’t a strong pass protector.