On paychecks, reality checks and Barkley

NFL's Exhibit A

M. Ryan's big bucks make timely point for league

May 22, 2008|By PETER SCHMUCK

It probably was a coincidence that NFL owners decided to knock two years off their collective bargaining agreement with the players union on the same day No. 3 draft pick Matt Ryan agreed to a $72 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons, but that doesn't mean the two top football headlines of the week were unrelated.

Quite the contrary, management has cited out-of-control rookie compensation as one of the main rationales for abandoning the current CBA in 2011, and Ryan's new deal - which guarantees him at least $34.75 million before he plays his first NFL game - conveniently illustrated the point.

Of course, anyone with a heart has to sympathize with the NFL, which generated only $8.5 billion in revenue last year and had to give $4.5 billion to the people you actually pay to see. Apparently, the other $4 billion just doesn't go as far as it used to.

Historical perspective

If you were paying attention during the worst of the Major League Baseball labor disputes, much of what is happening in the NFL will sound familiar - except the part where the NFL owners are not totally satisfied with the salary cap that baseball owners have long coveted.

The same issues that nearly destroyed baseball in 1994 are at the heart of the NFL dispute. The owners - fueled by friction between the large-market and small-market franchises - want a deal that will force them to show more discipline when signing rookies and free-agent players and allow them to keep a larger slice of the revenue pie.

It sounds pretty ominous, but there's no need to fret about a work stoppage in 2011. Baseball owners were willing to scorch the earth in 1994 because so many of them were facing real economic uncertainty. Everybody is making money. Nobody is going to risk killing this goose.

Odd number

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has confirmed the league is considering the addition of a 17th regular-season game and dropping the number of preseason games played by each team to three.

That's probably a good idea, considering what a worthless exercise that fourth preseason game has become, but consider one of the unintended consequences of a 17-game regular season: No one will ever finish the regular season with a .500 record again.

Breakout performance

Maybe it was just one bad pitch during one of the worst innings of Mike Mussina's major league career, but when young Adam Jones turned it into a three-run double Tuesday night, it was more evidence Jones is on the fast track to stardom.

There is no bigger stage during the regular season than Yankee Stadium, and Jones was down 0-2 in the count to a highly experienced pitcher with more than 250 career victories. Mussina didn't hit his spot, but that shouldn't take anything away from Jones' terrific performance, which included three more hits before the night was over.

He has a chance to be the real deal, and he seems determined to take full advantage of it.

Where now, Matt Wieters?

Top 2007 draft choice Matt Wieters continues to tear up the Single-A Carolina League, entering yesterday's games with six home runs in his past 10 starts for the Frederick Keys. Through 41 games, he leads the league in home runs (11), RBIs (29), slugging percentage (.619) and on-base plus slugging percentage (1.049).

So, if you're in the Orioles' player development department, what do you do with the kid?

The seemingly logical thing would be to move him to Bowie and see whether he can have the same success against Double-A pitching, but there's no rush and there's certainly nothing wrong with letting him get full of himself during his first professional season.

Taking a big cut

Charles Barkley paid his $400,000 gambling debt to the Wynn casino in Las Vegas, but he owes $40,000 to Clark County, representing a processing fee equal to 10 percent of the amount claimed in the bad debt lawsuit.

Processing fee? I thought they called that "the vig."

Stone-cold lock

Now that the NFL has assigned the 2012 Super Bowl to Indianapolis, does anyone around here doubt the Ravens will be one of the participants?


Listen to Peter Schmuck on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon most Saturdays and Sundays.

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