Looks like the USFL is for Real

We reported a few months back, on April Fool’s Day to be exact, that there were rumors that the United States Football League was about to resurrect itself as a spring football league and it now appears that the rumors were not a joke and that you can expect to hear more about the league in the coming months according to a piece at NBC Sports.

At the time of the report there was a web site for the league as well as at least one news story that claimed it was true and that they had interviewed the new owner of the league. Now we have seen a second piece that said that the league was for real.

It has now started to fill out a bit of its top management with the reported hiring for ex Oakland Raider great Fred Biletnikoff as an advisor for the league. The league also has James Bailey, a former executive for the Cleveland Browns and then the Baltimore Ravens for 21 years, on the USFL’s board of advisors.

The league intends to model itself after Major League Soccer and that it will have the players and coaches under contract to the league, rather than individual teams and said that it views itself as a minor league source for the NFL.

It has no plans to try and steal away, or even sign, players that are drafted by the NFL and will instead look to fill its ranks with both undrafted players and those that did not make the grade in their first try with NFL teams.

It has said that there have been no talks yet with the NFL but that it expects to have talks within the next 60 days and said that it will keep all of its practices and games open to NFL personnel. It is the process of gaining owners with ties to the areas where t hopes to locate teams and is creating a board of directors.

The USFL plans to be a summer league with initially eight teams. While no schedule has been announced I wonder how well non-drafted college players will be interested in going here instead of waiting for NFL minicamps and trying to catch on there instead. If the NFL gives its official blessing to the USFL’s role as a minor league that might help draw in these players. Also just a footnote, the web site I listed as the league’s in the first article was incorrect and the correct one is listed in this article. Sorry.

Friday Grab Bag: What Grades Did your Team’s NFL Draft Receive?

A report from ABI Research shows that while tablets such as Apple’s iPad and Amazon’s Kindle are constantly in the news as the latest and greatest laptop use is still strong, but does find that tablets are taking sales away from netbooks.

The research found that approximately 1/3 of those surveyed planned to buy a laptop in the next year while 16% planned on purchasing a media tablet in the same time frame. It looks like netbooks are being relegated to emerging markets and out of the US market.

Mustaches making a comeback in baseball?
There was an amusing piece in The Wall Street Journal about a week ago talking about the return of the mustachioed man in baseball. In the modern era it probably reached its peak on the Oakland A’s of the Charles Finley ownership era and has since seemed to fade away.

However just last year John Axford, a reliever with the Milwaukee Brewers won the very coveted ‘Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American’ from the American Mustache Institute, a notable win for a Canadian. No real insights here just kind of an interesting read- also I did not know that they were also known as Lip Sweaters.

Microsoft takes big hit in German court

A German court has ruled that Microsoft cannot sell its Xbox 360 game console and its Windows 7 operating system in the German market. The court, based in Mannheim, said that Microsoft breached an agreement that it had with Motorola Mobility in using certain video compression software in Microsoft products.

However Microsoft is not likely to remove its products from German shelves right away as Microsoft has won a ruling in U.S. District court in Seattle that

Do you have a social media will?
The joke that a friend will clear your browsing history if you die suddenly has some bearing in reality, or so I have heard. But do they know your passwords? The Government seems to understand the issues families of recently deceased trying to gain access to social media and has offered a bit of advice.

Posted here on the USA Gov blog it has a piece entitled “How and why you should write a social media will” that entails you giving passwords to a trusted person to close Facebook, email etc that are open in your name. And clear browsing history.

London Olympics to have world’s largest McDonalds?

I for one have always associated McDonalds with fitness and athletic excellence so this of course does not surprise me. The AP and Christian Science Monitor has reported that a two story McDonalds that can seat 1500 people will be built in Olympic Park.

According to the piece, it is just one of five that will be built for the Olympics, one just for the athletes. Guess who the official food sponsor is for the London Olympics.

Nokia planning tablets and hybrids
Departing Nokia Chairman Jorma Ollila said that the company is looking to expand into tablets and hybrids, but did not give any type of timetable or details on the move. The company just lost its crown as the top handset maker after a 14 year run to rival Samsung.

It has invested heavily in developing for the emerging Microsoft Windows Phone standard and it seems likely that it might expand that partnership to include supporting Windows 8, Microsoft’s tablet OS when that is available.

iPad 4G claims false?
Apple is facing some heat from Australia and the United Kingdom on the claims that the recently released iPad works on 4G networks. The battle about connectivity has been going on for some time down under but now the U.K. has joined the fray, Red Orbit reports.

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) claims that the ads are misleading since the iPad does not connect at the frequency that the fledgling 4G networks in that country operate, the same problem it has in Australia. In Australia Apple simply removed references to 4G and is expected to do the same in the UK.
You would think that something this basic would have already been found bulletproof prior to releasing the device but who knows?

Target boots Amazon’s Kindle
Target, one of Amazon’s largest brick and mortar partners has opted to cease carrying Amazon’s Kindle tablet. The issue is that customers visit the stores and look at the devices and then return home and buy them direct according to the New York Times.

Amazon even encouraged its customers to do so, offering a discount f they purchased a product direct from Amazon after scanning it n a store. So instead Target will increase Apple’s presence and other tablets including Barnes & Noble’s Nook ereader.in its 1,800 stores

Kickstarter favorite Pebble gets first app
Pebble, the watch that connects to your smartphone now has its first app, one from RunKeeper. The details for what exactly the app will do are not available yet but RunKeeper develops programs that track workouts. The company said that when the Pebble is commercially available it will have the RunKeeper app available as well.

Grading the NFL draft graders
Now that the NFL Draft is over and the wait begins for the start of the regular season there is still one NFL stone that appears to be untouched-looking at how all of the major NFL pundits team grades compare.

Now you could arm yourself with a spreadsheet and spend time traveling to all of the various web sites to garner what they said and how it compares to their rivals prognostications, but the good folks at Football Outsiders have taken it upon themselves.

They took the posted grades from nine NFL writers and draft experts and show how they rating each team, how that compares to what the competitors said, and how teams ranked overall. It is well worth a read.

The 2012 NFL Draft is in the Books-Did Your Team Win or Lose?

There is a nice piece in Sports Illustrated by Richard Deitsch that quite clearly shows the difference between ESPN and the NFL Network’s approach to covering last weekend’s NFL draft. It breaks down to one with a relatively minimalist approach (ESPN) and the other went with ‘kitchen sink” approach.

Of course over the course of three days the cast of characters changed a bit and the dynamics of the broadcasts changed with them. I tend to favor a smaller group because I find I learn more and hear more interesting bits of information when there are fewer people vying to be heard.

An interesting side note is that while the two networks had a gentleman’s agreement not to tip picks prior to the announcements, but that did not include Twitter. While the reporters for the respective networks did not tweet all of the picks, they did so on a number of them.

We found that following twitter was much better than following the broadcasts for the most part, not only because the information came fast and furious, but also you could much more easily cut out the noise from announcers filling air time.

There are of course a number of post draft appraisals available for fans to peruse but it is worth listing a few here. Bleacher Report did a nice job, I believe in rating the draft team by team. USA Today had very different impressions on a number of teams compared to the BR ratings so it is interesting to see why they differed and where they agreed.

In the past I have read a few, not from BR, that seemed to give everybody an A or B grade. Sorry, I don’t buy it. Some picks are just strange, and some teams seem like they went too far in breaking from group thinking. Of course it is hard to tell until a few years have gone by, for the most part, but you can make some informed statements based on what is already know about the players, and the teams they are going to.

For a general view of the draft I could point you back to Sports Illustrated and Peter King’s Monday Morning QB column where he talks about how there were a great many stories in the NFL draft. I would have never guessed. As a counterpoint you could always read Kissing Suzy Kolber’s rude interpretation of Peter King’s column instead.

I usually watch the draft switching between the two networks while looking at twitter. A buddy has two TVs going, using his computer to watch his favorite team’s war room and watching twitter feeds on his phone while scratching names off a list he keeps. Wonder what he will do until next year? Well now that the draft is over how long until training camp officially opens?

The NFL Draft Round 1 Was Quite an Event

I have to say that was some draft day, and it really did not follow the usual playbook of predictable picks with maybe one or two teams trading up for a better position. After the first two picks you could throw out your pick sheets.

There were eight trades with teams rising and dropping on the big board, and it was all done very efficiently with no waiting around as team executives put their heads together to decide what to do with their new found positions.

The expertise that now permeates the league regarding cap room coupled with the rookie salary structure obviously has made it much easier to trade picks and with the mass amount of information available on everybody, teams were still very decisive.

Of course there were a couple of head scratchers. Seattle selecting Bruce Irvin, a monster DL/LB from West Virginia who many believed would be a second or even later round selection. The reason being that he is a monster off the field as well.

Seattle’s division rivals the San Francisco 49ers also drafted a bit oddly, taking A.J. Jennings, a wide receiver out of Illinois who admitted he did not think he was a first round pick. The pick that will be interesting to watch will be Miami’s selection of QB Ryan Tannehill, a relative unknown who shot up the charts in the past few weeks as the next great unrecognized player in the draft.

Well Round 2 starts tonight and I wonder if we will see as much movement in picks? Somehow I believe that we will not.

NFL Draft Tidbits and EA Curses

Have you ever wondered what it is like in a team’s War Room during the NFL Draft? Well Andrew Brandt at ESPN has put together what it was like at Green Bay when he was there. There is not much that a fan does not know, or thinks that they know about how a team operates its draft.

One thing that stood out was the fact that the Packers had two rooms, one focused on players with the expected lists and depth charts. The second one was a financial room that dealt with issues such as salary cap, contract acceleration and years, agents and more.

It was not just for the Packers but also other teams as it could affect both drafted players and ones that are already on a rival’s squad that might be released due to cap space. This was an aspect I had never really given much thought to even though executives are often touted as cap experts, it has a much far reaching impact than it might seem on its face.

The Fans have spoken
At this time of the year there are a number of important issues facing NFL fans- should my team trade down in the draft? Will we be able to trade up to get that power back the team sorely missed last year? Why did we fail to get our pick in on tine?

However one of the biggest issues is “Who do we stick with the Madden Curse?” Yes the voting is in for who will grace the upcoming release of Electronic Arts’ Madden NFL 13. This year’s ‘winner’ is Calvin Johnson, Jr., the Detroit Lions wide receiver.

Johnson beat Carolina Panther’s quarterback Cam Newton by a healthy margin of 52% of the total vote. It is interesting to see how much attention this event now has. A total of 20 million votes were counted in the seven week campaign on ESPN that narrowed the field down to the final two, this was a 54% increase over last year, 19.6 million compared to 12.7 million.

The Draft
The Draft starts tonight with the selections starting at 8 p.m. ET. Tomorrow’s round starts at 7 p.m. ET and the Saturday selections start at 12:00 p.m. ET.

Hints about Seahawks picks to be Twittered in Advance?

Seattle Seahawks’ coach Pete Carroll has developed a unique tool to convey the intentions of the team in regards to each draft choice- he tweets about it.

But rather than make reference to the position or school that the prospective choice might come from he takes a different approach.

Two years ago he tweeted songs about the picks. His first was Santana’s “Soul Sacrifice” and this was followed by a number of other song hints. No explanation was provided, and in fact he tweeted a number of cryptic responses as to what, if anything they meant.

Last year he repeated the act with song hints from everybody from MC Hammer to John Denver to Black Eyes Peas. Is this all for fun or is he providing real clues? NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has warned teams not to leak their selections, but this seems to be hazy enough not to get him in trouble if truly representing his choices.

This year he is at it again, starting Thursday night. You can follow him again, not at his usual twitter handle but at #seahawksdraftclues! To see what he posts this year. The team has the #12 pick in the first round and is reportedly looking for a speed pass rusher. If you crack the code let us know.