Former Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell passed away on Wednesday at the age of 87. Modell died of natural causes hours before the kick-off of the new NFL season but will be remembered for his significant contribution to the growth of the league. Modell was instrumental in negotiating TV contracts for the league and was the principal supporter of introducing Monday Night Football games to the league’s schedule. He served as NFL president from 1967 to 1969 and negotiated the first ever CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) with the players union in 1968. His reputation was tarnished however in 1996 when he relocated his Cleveland Browns franchise to Baltimore where he established the current Ravens team.
The NFL Referees lockout continues and the regular season opener between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys saw replacement referees officiate the game. Speaking on the situation, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asserted that the labour stalemate with the NFL Referees Association was necessary in the long term to achieve the best standard of refereeing in the future. The lockout has been a result of the referees’ reluctance to meet the NFL’s conditions on recruiting further referees and having more flexibility on replacing underperforming referees.
The Minnesota Vikings have submitted a bid to host the Super Bowl in 2018, 2019 or 2020. The Vikings had financing for a new stadium approved by Minnesota Legislature in May and will move in by 2016. Recent new stadiums such as Cowboys Stadium and Arizona’s University of Phoenix Stadium have already hosted the showcase event and New York’s MetLife will host the 2014 edition.
After the New York Giants’ 24-17 loss against division rivals Dallas Cowboys, Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz admitted he ‘lacked concentration’ on key plays. Cruz uncharacteristically dropped three passes causing his team to miss critical first downs.
San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh paid tribute to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers before their two respective teams come face to face on Sunday. Harbaugh claimed that the quarter was ‘playing at the highest level in the history of the game’ and singled out Rodgers’ effective running of the football as his most devastating attribute. The 49ers – Packers game will pit MVP Rodgers against last year’s best defense.
The Detroit Lions have restructured defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch’s contract to mitigate salary cap demands. The Lions were $700,000 over the salary cap and so turned to the veteran defensive lineman to restructure his contract to provide immediate relief. The Lions have been encumbered with high wages due to several high draft picks in recent years.
The status of Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison remains unclear going into Sunday’s game against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. The All-Pro linebacker underwent knee surgery last month and did not participate in practise on Thursday. The controversial linebacker, who has been fined numerous times for dangerous hits, refused to speak on the situation and instead stated that he would only be available to the media on Fridays during the season.
Despite the indefinite suspension of Gregg Williams from the NFL for his responsibility in this summer’s ‘bounty’ scandal, Rams coach Jeff Fisher refused to rule out a return for his friend and colleague. Gregg Williams joined Fisher at the Rams from the New Orleans Saints as defensive coordinator before his role in the bounty scandal was disclosed and should his penalty be reduced, there could be a return for Williams at the Rams.
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