I love the NFL Annual Meeting. All the coaches speak. The owners vote on rules. This gives us stuff. And I love stuff.
Now it's time for me to rock the vote. Here is my up/down verdict on nine notable stories that emerged from the gathering in Boca Raton, Florida:
I'm officially afraid. I'm afraid this is an overreaction to the Odell Beckham Jr.-Josh Norman nonsense last December. I'm afraid that this puts too much on the officials, who will be under incredible pressure after the first unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a player. (And there's already too much on the officials.) I'm afraid that opposing players will try to bait a guy after his first such penalty, or flop/act in order to get someone -- quite possibly a star -- thrown out of the game.
I would've voted no. This has controversy written all over it.
Honestly, I'm not convinced instant replay works in any sport. I'm not convinced it is used correctly, not convinced that we solely get reversals on conclusive visual evidence. I think replay has taken simple logic away from what a catch actually is. Calvin Johnson caught it.Dez Bryant caught it.Louis Murphy caught it. (Of course, all of those catches were overturned on replay.)
Also, more replay kills the flow of a game -- and, once again, puts more of the emphasis in the hands of the officials. I'm philosophically opposed.
Aaron Donald is a star. So is Todd Gurley. Otherwise, the Rams are pretty nondescript. And at face value, this franchise could be seen as boring. ... Unless ownership is finally going to do the right thing and fire Jeff Fisher -- given his sub-.500 record and zero playoff appearances with the Rams -- during an episode. Or maybe Les Snead will give hair-product advice. The GM has great hair, but he's not so great at choosing quarterbacks. (More on that in a second.)
All that said, I don't have an issue with the choice, because NFL Films is fantastic -- this will be compelling TV, as always. The league is rightly all in on the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles -- and that is very savvy. Unlike ...
The Pats never should have lost the first-rounder in the first place, with the league's argument rooted in more-probable-than-nots and hypotheticals from the Ted Wells report. Losing a high-value pick hurts everyone in the locker room, the fans and takes away a player getting honored by being a first-rounder.
I would've voted no here.
I think Payton deserves so much credit for concocting an explosive and creative offense, winning a ton of games, raising the Lombardi Trophy and helping to lift New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. None of that should be minimized.
But Payton's Saints have gone 7-9 each of the last two years. He's whiffed many times when it comes to picking a defensive coordinator. I think the reported flirtation with the Colts was real -- and that he could've had interest in the Giants and Eagles gigs. Sometimes you hit a wall coaching a team for a long time.
I would've voted no -- now and last year. The extra point was never offensive. I was always cool with the automatic seventh point. Now, kickers are spooked and games are changed.
I loathe it. I miss the old way.
I totally support this sentiment, if true. The Niners should keep Kaep in San Francisco.
Kaepernick's $11.9 base salary for 2016 becomes fully guaranteed if he's on the roster on April 1. Teams like Denver aren't going to give up a king's ransom for a player who was just benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert and eventually underwent multiple surgeries (on his shoulder, thumb and knee). Kaepernick might not be able to pass a physical (or a football) right now.
But if he can get healthy, Kaep should become fluent in Chip Kelly. It's Kelly's offense that can save the 28-year-old quarterback's career. They can save each other and help each get back old (positive) reputations. Yes, apparently Kaepernick has a strained relationship with Baalke, Jed York and the medical staff. But the best thing for him to do -- in order to revitalize his career -- is to stay where he is, with a new head coach.
No. This is absolutely, positively wrong.
I was stunned and disappointed by Ron Rivera's take.
"What we ask players to do after a game like that is tremendously unfair. I really do mean that, too," the Panthers coach said at the NFC coaches' breakfast. "In a situation like that, there is only one person that needs to talk, and that's the head coach. Let him handle the situation and answer the questions."
That's not it at all.
You always talk. It's about accountability. It's about a quarterback like Cam Newton mastering "the fifth quarter" -- that's part of the job, part of being a professional, a face of the franchise. Cam loved the media and danced and dabbed as a winner all year -- and I supported him. You can't be a front-runner. His coaches should help him understand that, not tell him it's OK to pout or not talk to the press. As my CBS Sports Network colleague Gary Parrish pointed out, look at how the Northern Iowa basketball captains stayed and answered every question after an all-time meltdown in the NCAA Tournament last week. Newton would've left.
Comments like Rivera's say the Panthers are OK if Newton isn't respectful or responsive to the media -- the conduit to the fans. That's startling.