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Paul Domowitch: Carl Peterson expects work stoppage in 2011

It can't happen, right? No way the NFL owners and players are dumb enough to kill their $8 billion-a-year golden goose.

It can't happen, right? No way the NFL owners and players are dumb enough to kill their $8 billion-a-year golden goose.

No way this insane game of chicken the two sides are playing is going to continue into next spring and summer and fall and threaten the 2011 season. Right?

Wrong, says one former league executive.

"I think there's going to be a work-stoppage," said Carl Peterson, who spent 19 years as the president and general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs before resigning in 2008. "For how long? I don't know. But I think there will be some regular-season games in 2011 that [won't be played].

"The question then becomes how deep into the season do you go before you have to say the season's over with? Is it 3 [weeks] or 6 or halfway? I don't know."

Long story short, the owners feel the players are getting too big of a piece of the league's revenue pie and want it reduced. The owners agreed to give the players a 60 percent cut of the total football revenue as part of the 2006 collective bargaining agreement. It took them less than 2 years to realize they had cut a bad deal. Particularly given these trying economic times.

"The owners really do feel the pendulum has swung too far and the players are getting too much of the pie," said Peterson. "If [former NFL Players Association executive director] Gene Upshaw were still alive, I would say there'd be a really good chance this would get resolved before kickoff. Because Gene always felt, let's do what's right for the NFL.

"I always had faith in Gene. He was a dealmaker. He went through one bad strike [in 1987] and after that, he said, 'Not on my watch again. I will find a way.' And [former NFL commissioner] Paul [Tagliabue] had the same philosophy.''

Tagliabue retired in '06 and was replaced by Roger Goodell. Upshaw, who died of cancer 2 years ago, has been succeeded by Washington, D.C. attorney DeMaurice Smith.

"DeMaurice competed with other people for that job and got it," Peterson said. "I just don't see him stepping up initially and saying, 'OK, guys. I'm your leader and we're going to take a step back. We're going to take it down to 56 percent.' I don't see that happening."

He also doesn't see the owners buckling like they did in '06 when the fear of an NFL world without a salary cap got them to cry uncle.

"What I know, and what the owners know, is that you really don't make players start to feel it until they start missing regular-season game checks," Peterson said. "There's no financial downside for them until then. They don't lose anything in the offseason. They get something like $1,200 a game in the preseason, which is nothing for a 10-year veteran.

"But when your wife comes to you in September and says, 'Honey, where's that 1/17th of $3 million? It didn't come this week. And how about next week? Are we going to get that second 1/17th?' And they have to say, 'Honey, it's not happening,' then you find out how much resolve they really have."

The owners, especially those with new stadiums and large debt services, also will have their resolve tested if this stalemate continues into next fall.

"When push comes to shove, it's going to be interesting," Peterson said. "Because [the Cowboys'] Jerry Jones and [the Giants'] Steve Tisch and John Mara and [the Jets'] Woody Johnson, they've got some nice new stadiums on line and they don't want them going dark in the second year.

"They are betwixt and between. How much debt service can you swallow for how long? And can you get the banks to push it off without killing you with interest rates into the future?

"A lot of owners aren't used to digging into their own pocket. There's going to be a lot of push and pull. The owners obviously will be united for a while. How long? Just as with the players, that remains to be seen. "


The Eagles have a punting dilemma. Sav Rocca is second in the league in punting with a 48.1-yard average, but the Eagles are 26th in the league in punt coverage, allowing 15.1 yards per return through the first four games.

Is Rocca outkicking his coverage?

Special teams coordinator Bobby April more or less acknowledged that he was yesterday.

While saying that Rocca "has done a good job of hanging the ball, a good job of punting," he also said that the punter's primary job is to "take the returner out of the game."

Rocca really hasn't done that since Week 1 when just one of his five punts against the Packers was returned.

Eleven of Rocca's 24 punts this season have traveled 53 or more yards. Nine have been returned to the tune of 19.4 yards per return.

The 53-yard return by the Redskins' Brandon Banks last week came on a 57-yard punt. The 41-yard return by the Jaguars' Mike Thomas the week before came on a 53-yard boot.

"I need to probably put a little more hang-time and guys will be able to cover it a little better," Rocca said. "But, collectively, as a punt unit, we need to play as one."

Said April: "The greater the gross, you're throwing more chips on the table that they have a chance to get a return. We've worked with him a lot on him hanging the ball and he's done a good job with that. I'm not dissatisfied with the way he's punted at all. We just have to cover a little better."


-- Shawn Andrews got his first start as a Giant last week, though it wasn't a real start. The Giants opened their game against the Bears in their "elephant" package, which includes a sixth offensive lineman lining up at tight end. Andrews was the extra lineman. He may get his first actual start this week, though. Center Shaun O'Hara is out with an ankle sprain, and his replacement, Adam Koets, sprained his right knee in the Bears game. If neither O'Hara nor Koets are able to play, left guard Rich Seubert will move to center and Andrews will start at either left guard or left tackle depending on what Giants coach Tom Coughlin decides to do with left tackle David Diehl. Diehl took snaps at left guard Wednesday and Andrews lined up at left tackle. Andrews has never played tackle in the NFL, but said he'll do whatever they need him to do. "I've been here for 2 months and like I told coach [Coughlin] when I first sat down and met him, wherever you need me, wherever you want me to be, I'm going to excel and do the best that I can,'' Andrews told reporters.

-- With Clinton Portis expected to be out 4 to 6 weeks with a groin injury, Ryan Torain is the Redskins' new starting running back. The 6-1, 218-pound former practice-squadder looked impressive last week in the 'Skins' 17-12 win over the Eagles, rushing for 70 yards and a touchdown. The 'Skins only have one other running back on their roster at the moment - Chad Simpson. Between the two of them, Torain and Simpson have a total of 70 NFL career rushing attempts.

-- In case you were wondering, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has no problem with that $55,000 dinner bill that Dez Bryant's teammates stuck the rookie wide receiver with a couple of weeks ago. "I can tell you right now that that would make my eyes water to have a bill like that, and it should," Jones told the Dallas Morning News. "But by the same token, it's in the spirit of the same thing that Bill Parcells used to do with the No. 1 draft pick, bringing him his water out there [on the field]. I think everybody handled it fine. Dez has a natural people skill that's infectious. That's going to serve him well not only this year but in the future, and he's certainly willing to go along with the kinds of things that build team temperament. And I'm proud of that. I have seen players that don't feel that way, but Dez isn't one of them. He's a positive guy when it comes to the team concept."


Shawn Andrews' brother Stacy, who the Eagles shipped to the Seahawks last month for a seventh-round pick and a couple of old jocks, has started the last three games for Seattle. He didn't get his wish to move outside to tackle, though. All three starts have been at right guard.


From the lip

-- "I want to be here. I enjoy being here. I bought a house. We'll get something done. It won't be a distraction." - Redskins QB Donovan McNabb, who is in the final year of his contract, on his future with the team

-- "I'm a big believer in it, and it's because of my nine lives. I've used up eight. I know that people that have an opportunity, if they have their head on right and their mind right, that they can turn things around. I've seen it. They make some of the best people to be associated with because they've been there and the hard times aren't new to them when you get them, and you're sure to get them in the future." - Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, on his willingness to give troubled players a second chance

-- "You always hear how tough they are and all that stuff. I don't think they're tough. I think they're cheap.'' - Broncos QB Kyle Orton, on the Tennessee Titans, who sacked him six times and committed 10 penalties in a 26-20 Denver win last week

-- "We play aggressive, we don't play cheap. If there are things after the whistle or during the play, players are fined for them. But we're not a cheap football team. We did have six sacks and numerous other times they did have some difficulty with protection and blocking our defensive line. Maybe he's referring to that." - Titans coach Jeff Fisher, on Kyle Orton's "cheap" accusation


-- The Eagles have yet to score on their first possession this season. In fact, they've barely been able to move the ball. Through four games, they've got just one first down and have averaged 1.7 yards per play on their first possession.

-- In their first four games last year, the Eagles had seven touchdown drives of four plays or less. So far this year, they've got two.

-- Titans running back Chris Johnson has struggled against 3-4 defenses this season. The Steelers and Broncos, who both play 3-4 schemes, held him to a combined 87 yards on 35 carries. That's 2.5 yards per carry. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry against the two 4-3 teams they've played - the Giants and Raiders.

-- Quarterbacks have attempted 50 or more passes in a game eight times already this season. The record for a season is 22. Last year, it happened 15 times.


The 3-0 Chiefs are the league's last unbeaten team, and they're an eight-point underdog this week against the Colts.


To Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who once again proved why he's the smartest man in the NFL. With the 33-year-old Randy Moss in the final year of his contract, Belichick decided that the seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver's declining play - he's got just nine catches in the first four games - and his increasingly bad attitude over the team's disinterest in giving him a new deal, were sufficient reasons to trade him to the desperate Vikings.

Minnesota handed over a third-round pick for Moss. Not bad when you consider the Patriots only gave up a fourth when they acquired him from the Raiders 3 years ago.


To 49ers coach Mike Singletary, who stiffed Falcons coach Mike Smith on the postgame handshake last week after the Niners dropped to 0-4. Singletary was upset over cornerback Nate Clements' inexcusable fumble following what should have been a game-clinching interception with a minute-and-a-half left.

Still, that's no excuse for not bothering to shake hands with Smith. Singletary acknowledged that it was "poor sportsmanship" on his part. But when asked if he had called Smith to apologize, he said, "No."


(Last Week's Rankings in Parentheses)

1. Ravens 3-1 (3)

2. Packers 3-1 (4)

3. Texans 3-1 (8)

4. Saints 3-1 (5)

5. Steelers 3-1 (6)

6. Colts 2-2 (1)

7. Jets 3-1 (10)

8. Bengals 2-2 (2)

9. Falcons 3-1 (9)

10. Titans 2-2 (7)

11. Patriots 3-1 (13)

12. Vikings 1-2 (15)

13. Cowboys 1-2 (16)

14. Giants 2-2 (17)

15. Dolphins 2-2 (11)

16. Eagles 2-2 (12)

17. Bears 3-1 (14)

18. Chargers 2-2 (20)

19. Redskins 2-2 (21)

20. Chiefs 3-0 (18)

21. Broncos 2-2 (26)

22. Rams 2-2 (27)

23. Jaguars 2-2 (28)

24. Bucs 2-1 (24)

25. Lions 0-4 (23)

26. Cardinals 2-2 (19)

27. Browns 1-3 (29)

28. 49ers 0-4 (22)

29. Seahawks 2-2 (25)

30. Panthers 0-4 (32)

31. Raiders 1-3 (30)

32. Bills 0-4 (31)