Soon after posting yesterday’s rant, I saw a report that the Texans had hired Lovie Smith to be their new coach. My first reaction was that it was extremely convenient that the team chose to hire a Black head coach considering Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the league and three individual teams. And then I read the following statement from Flores’ lawyers:
“Mr. Flores is happy to hear that the Texans have hired a Black head coach, Lovie Smith, as Mr. Flores’ goal in bringing his case is to provide real opportunities for Black and minority candidates to be considered for coaching and executive positions within the NFL. However, we would be remiss not to mention that Mr. Flores was one of three finalists for the Texans’ head coach position and, after a great interview and mutual interest, it is obvious that the only reason Mr. Flores was not selected was his decision to stand up against racial inequality across the NFL.”
Let me simply say that what is obvious to Flores’ lawyers is not necessarily so obvious to me. Lovie Smith had a bad coaching stretch at the University of Illinois from 2016 through 2020 and he was part of the coaching staff for the Texans who were less than fully successful in 2021. Having said that, Lovie Smith’s overall NFL record is above .500 (89-87-0); his teams have been to the playoffs three times and to the Super Bowl once. No offense to Brian Flores but he has none of those accomplishments on his résumé.
[Aside: I give Lovie Smith bonus “style points” for getting to the Super Bowl game with Rex Grossman as his QB. I give him a pass for losing that Super Bowl game to the Colts and Peyton Manning.]
Now, do I think Lovie Smith is going to be successful next season with the Texans? Absolutely not. The Texans need a total rebuild and they continue to have the Deshaun Watson mess on their hands. I doubt that a reincarnated Vince Lombardi would do much with the Texans’ squad over the next couple of years.
Next up … I ran across a summary of the points covered in the standard contract that players will sign if they want to be part of the rebooted USFL. Recall that the initial dispersal of player for that league will take place later this month. Here are a few of the high points:
- Players sign a contract with the league, not with individual teams; and the salary structure is formulaic.
- Players earn $600 a week in mini-camp and training camp.
- Active players for regular season games earn $4500 per game. [The league plans a 10-game regular season.]
- Roster players not active for a regular season game earn $1500.
- Players on teams that win a regular season game get a bonus of $850.
- Players on the team winning the USFL Championship Game get a bonus of $10,000.
- Player contracts run through December 31, 2022, and the USFL has the option to extend the contract for 1 year through December 31, 2023.
- USFL players will be released from their contract if they are signed by an NFL team – – and only an NFL team. With the potential appearance of XFL 3.0 on the calendar for 2023, the USFL wants to avoid having their rosters raided by that league. The same goes for the CFL; at the same time, this is a nod to the NFL that the USFL is not seeking an antagonistic relationship with the NFL.
- Players who sign the USFL standard contract become eligible for online college classes and degree credits at Strayer University and Capella University.
- Players who sign the USFL standard contract sign away their name, image and likeness rights to the USFL for merchandizing and promotional activities.
I found that structure interesting on several levels. Players are not going to get rich playing in the USFL at the beginning. For the foreseeable future, only players who attract attention from an NFL team such that they get an NFL contract will make “big bucks”. However, players who avail themselves of the college courses offered for free could set themselves up for bigger earnings once the player’s football career/aspirations are in the past. In addition, players get enrolled in a group health insurance plan for the duration of their USFL contract.
There was one specific thing in the report I read that I found interesting. The USFL has a Players’ Handbook that spells out things like the league’s drug policy and its PED policy and its player conduct policy. In that Players’ Handbook, it says explicitly that players are required to stand for the National Anthem at the games.
One other football-related note today… Titans’ wide receiver, AJ Brown, said that he was contemplating a baseball career in addition to his NFL career. Brown once caught the attention of the San Diego Padres scouting staff and he was a two-sport athlete in high school. Brown said that he would do better in baseball than Michael Jordan did.
- Memo to AJ Brown: Set the bar a bit higher, my man. Michael Jordan spent 1 year in AA minor league baseball and hit .202.
If AJ Brown said he would do better at baseball than either Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson did as two-sport athletes, he would get plenty of MLB attention.
Finally, here is a comment from humorist Brad Dickson regarding TV coverage of some Winter Olympics events:
“The best job in the world is figure skating announcer. You can just make it up. ‘She did a triple Lutz and is now going into a reverse Rupaul. Oh! It’s a quadruple Ed Asner!’”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………