Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Match for the Ages

Okay, we get it guys. People want the NFL to be a 12 month deal. They want year round NFL coverage ranging from the strategy behind the X's and O's to an intrusive view of the players' lives. I get that.

And still, this is not necessary.

As a blogger, I think this could be a pretty cool idea for a feature length article: take all the base salaries in the NFL, and make a 53 man roster out of the players around their league: keeping the total payroll under 116 million, which is the NFL salary cap.

It's not necessary to have this done twice.

It's really, really dumb to have the two "teams" "play".

To have the "winner" of the game decided by Dr. Z, it just defies words.

"I know you like the Lombardies and you're gonna have to lay 12½."

To recap:

1. Michael Lombardi and Bucky Brooks now are in charge of make believe teams assembled under a ficticious 116 dollar cap.
2. The teams will clash in "Dream Game 2008"
3. The line on said game is 12.5

Now, Dr. Z gives us a horrifically scary play by play recap of the game.

Seven minutes left. Brady goes to work. The Brooksies have dressed only six D-linemen and that's their undoing. They're exhausted. The rotation is killing them. The rush has died. Brady works them over with his mini-backs, Maurice Jones-Drew and Ahmad Bradshaw. With three minutes to go, he runs Jones-Drew on a sucker-trap for six points. The Brooksies get the ball at midfield, after a nifty return by Devin Hester. Will this be an overtime contest, the first one in a title game since Colts-Giants?

But the numbers game kills Brees, too. The Lombardies have loaded their lineup with D-linemen, nine, count'em, nine! On third-and-long, the well-rested pair of wingmen, Dwight Freeney and Justin Tuck, get him in a squeeze and knock the ball loose. The Lombardies only have to run the clock now, but on third and long they run a draw play, over Shaun Rogers, who is too tired to get out of his stance, and little Maurice breaks it for 40 yards and the last score of the game, which gives the Lombardies a 34-20 victory. Dr. Z's bet, taking the 12½, sinks beneath the waves with all hands singing Nearer My God To Thee.

Alright, let's recap:

1. The "Lombardi's" win 34-20
2. Those who took the Lombardi's and the points just beat the spread
3. Dr. Z lost against the spread -- on a game that was played inside his own head

Finally, since this post is in desperate need of common sense, I give you Ross Tucker, who apparently does have the mental capacity to put the basic point of this exercise into focus...the point that all 4 of the prior writers totally missed:

The key is to attempt to compile all of the young players around the league drafted after the first round that have already proven themselves to be quality NFL players but have not yet received their second contracts. That is where all of the value is, both in the real NFL and in the Salary Cap Roster Challenge. Unlike the NFL, where you have to draft well in order to create that value, the Salary Cap Roster Challenge allows the combatants to selectively scour the league and scoop up all of the young players that have clearly outplayed their rookie contracts, thereby creating an enormously attractive value proposition for both their actual franchises and their virtual Roster Challenge teams.

Players that produce at a high level for a relatively paltry sum include the Saints' Marques Colston and Jahri Evans, the Giants' Ahmad Bradshaw and Kevin Boss and the Packers' Ryan Grant, Greg Jennings and James Jones, just to name a few. It also would have been easy to put a solid line together with the likes of the Bucs' Jeremy Trueblood and Aaron Sears. And there's no doubt I would have fought tooth and nail to get Devin Hester on my team -- $795,000 for a game-changer is a no-brainer.

Just remember: Michael Lombardi and Bucky Brooks actually worked on the side of football that is responsible for these decisions. Lombardi is in part responsible for the mess that is the Oakland Raiders today. Tucker, obviously, was a player. Which of course, proves that the concept of value is hardly rocket science. It's simply the most important concept in the game, and one that most execs don't quite understand as well as they should.

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