Old Mo and free agency in a down economy

There’s a great list of Football pet peeves (via Smart Football – hands down my favourite football blog)

…..if I were ever named commissioner, the first rule I would enact is this: Any receiver who looks at a ref and does the little throw-the-flag wrist flip gets a 15-yard penalty and a lifetime ban from the league.

OK, I wouldn’t go so far as a lifetime ban but I whole heartedly agree (as with most of the other pet peeves).

One of my pet peeves which isn’t on the list is the idea of momentum, or in cliched coach speak ‘Old Mo’. Certainly a big play or a big hit can get a team fired up but I just don’t believe in a thing called Momentum, that one team has, and the other team doesn’t but can ‘take back’. Football history is littered with counter-examples but you only have to think back to the Superbowl to find the most recent.

In the 4th quarter the Cardinals had all kinds of Momentum on their side. They’d had a big goal line stand (2 if you consider that the stupid personal foul on Adrian Wilson gave the Steelers a fresh set of downs), and their D had all but shut down the Steelers O. The Cards offense had erased the Steeler’s lead and then put them ahead with only 2.35 (IIRC) left on the clock.

All the Cards defense had to do was do what they’d been doing all 4th quarter and shutdown the Steelers – they’ve got all the Momentum so it should be easy, right? Except ‘Old Mo’ didn’t turn up, and Ben Roethlisberger, Santonio Holmes and the rest of the Steeler’s O did – or did they somehow steal Momentum back? Did Holmes’ drop on the play before the game winning TD lose some Momentum? The whole thing is just nonsensical.

Football teams win / lose because they make / don’t make plays, and in close games it’s about making plays at critical times (just how Federer knows to conserve his deepest concentration for big plays). Smart Football doesn’t think much of Momentum either although Chris does a much better job debunking it than me.

On a sort of related note, NFL draft and free agency are upon us and I wonder what, if any, the affect of the struggling economy will have. I can’t think of a year where the no 1 draft pick didn’t sign for more than the previous years pick, and since the advent of the salary cap and free agency, and year that the cap didn’t go up, or that some free agent became the highest paid at his position. Sustainable growth or an about to burst bubble?

The NFL’s revenue sharing arrangements and salary cap should help buffer it from serious bubbles unlike the top Premiership teams which seem highly leveraged due to the skyrocketing transfer fees and wage demands, with no cap to limit them (last year Chelsea were £736m in debt). NFL teams could however suffer from cash flow or lack of credit problems as they have to pay signing and roster bonuses upfront (even though for salary cap purposes the numbers are pro-rated over the life of the contract). Likely the smaller market teams or those without mega rich owners who might be most effected.

But there’s not just pure economics involved. If the still wealthy are hiding their extravagant shopping behind unmarked bags (via Penelope Trunk) then I wonder if there will be a considerable backlash against ‘spoiled athletes’ holding out for a bigger signing bonus. I expect Drew Rosenhaus to be as unrepentantly money grabbing as always.

I also wonder whether the economic situation will spur on the restart of the NFLPANFL labour negotiations (once the NFLPA finds a replacement for the late Gene Upshaw). The thought of uncapped years doesn’t seem quite so appealing in a down economy.

Anyway it’s the offseason so I’ve got to have something football related to think about.

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