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Murray’s Signing with Eagles Reveals Sacrifices on Both Sides 0

Posted on March 18, 2015 by Chris Kent
DeMarco Murray's aggressive running style was a big reason for the Cowboys' success in 2014.

DeMarco Murray gave the Cowboys consistent production on the ground in 2014 as they went 12-4 and won the NFC East.

Loyalty.

While it is extremely rare in today’s National Football League – as well as in sports in general – it is never meant to be forgotten. Furthermore, just because it is rare, doesn’t mean it should be ignored, devalued, or even taken lightly. While money is what players are after today – at times legitimately so – they should not base their contract decisions on that entirely or even make it their prime objective. Players seek lucrative contracts without considering that their search for green is much more of a sacrifice than they realize.

Such is the case with what transpired with the Dallas Cowboys and their negotiations last week with free agent running back DeMarco Murray. In a situation that came down to the limitations of the salary cap and the economic climate of franchises and the league, Murray’s negotiations were not fiscally conducive to the Cowboys’ payroll. In the end, Murray opted to sign a five-year $42 million contract with the NFC-East rival Philadelphia Eagles. The contract is structured with $21 million in guaranteed salary.

While the days of loyalty – for the most part – are long gone in this money-driven world of sports, that does not mean that everyone has to operate by that or agree with it. Plenty of professional athletes have taken pay cuts or restructured their contracts to help management re-sign players or extend contracts in an effort to remain fiscally sound, competitive, and be able to realistically contend for a championship. Even after NFL free agency began in 1993, loyalty was still seen in the mid and late 1990’s with pro bowl quarterbacks like Steve Young, Troy Aikman, and John Elway taking pay cuts or re-negotiating their long-term contracts in order to free up cap space to help their teams re-sign players to new deals. This allowed core players to stay together longer giving teams a better chance of maintaining their winning ways.

While it is possible to see raises given out by ownership and management in today’s world of salary cap constraints, it is just something that doesn’t happen as much. Everybody has a ceiling and that ceiling can’t always be continually raised. Yet, the Murray negotiations raise a question about sacrifice. Is it better to sacrifice for money and personal gain, or for a team and the success of an organization? Kind of sounds like that typical job interview question of, “Are you a team player or are you focused on individual acclaim?” While it is possible for any individual, especially a talented one, to achieve individually within the team concept, one would think that most employers want to hear that you are a team player.

I don’t mean to say Murray is not a team player. However in terms of business, I think he let Dallas down here. I also think Murray let himself down. Letting one entity down is bad enough. However letting both your team and yourself down is horrible and just does not make any sense. Sacrifice is huge in life. Murray did not negotiate wisely in these contract discussions because he did not know what sacrifice was all about.

Murray high stepped one in for a touchdown during a win over the Saints on Sunday Night Football in 2014.

Murray high stepped one in for a touchdown during a win over the Saints on Sunday Night Football in 2014.

When Murray signed with the Eagles, he sacrificed team success for personal gain. Now an Eagle, he could go on and reach statistical milestones and with it secure monetary rewards. He could be the face of a franchise that now looks as though it needs one after all the turnover they have had in personnel so far this offseason. He could rank among the league leaders in rushing statistics year in and year out. He could be a perennial pro bowl player. He could have all that and more but not necessarily play on a team that has a real shot at winning a Super Bowl Championship or two.

The Cowboys represented Super Bowl Championship potential for Murray and one has to wonder if he sacrificed this opportunity by not re-signing with them. With a young, strong, and now experienced offensive line anchored by pro bowl left tackle Tyron Smith to run behind, the sky was the limit for Murray and Dallas. The future was also now for Murray and the Cowboys. Furthermore, the balance of an offense featuring veteran talent with quarterback Tony Romo, wide receiver Dez Bryant, tight end Jason Witten, and speedy wide receiver Terrance Williams should have been plenty to keep Murray in Dallas. Top-rated players in cornerback Brandon Carr, linebacker Rolando McClain, and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence made for a good defense that has the potential to be better in 2015 when linebacker Sean Lee is scheduled to return after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. Add in a heavily reliable kicker in Dan Bailey and the team has production all over the place. All these parts along with Murray made the Cowboys a complete and balanced squad in 2014. Murray both provided and benefitted from this balance and chemistry. Murray now leaves this behind and that has to leave him with a sour feeling when he had formed such a strong bond with teammates like Bryant and Romo. All Murray had to do to keep this productive unit intact was settle for somewhere between $4 and $6 million a year.

With Romo and Witten – both of who were drafted in 2003 – aging but still more than capable of playing, the window is at least somewhat shrinking for Dallas being able to win a Super Bowl with its’ current core players. The Cowboys’ chances to win the Lombardi Trophy in 2015 would probably be greater with Murray in place. While Dallas will still be a good team next season and beyond, how good will largely depend on whether or not they sign another premium running back.

By leaving the Cowboys, Murray is going into unknown territory with not only a new team, but a new offensive system. Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly has done an about face on offense via trades and free agency. Gone are quarterback Nick Foles, running back LeSean McCoy, and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. In is an unproven quarterback in Sam Bradford who has suffered two torn left ACL’s. Bradford initially was dealt the injury in the seventh game of the 2013 season before suffering the same injury during a preseason game last year causing him to miss the entire 2014 season. Although Bradford and Murray both played together at Oklahoma where they were roommates, this does not guarantee that they will succeed in Philadelphia. The Eagles will have to likely add some other pieces and see how Bradford and Murray complement each other in Kelly’s open field and up tempo offense.

As if all that was not enough, there are more reasons that Murray should of stayed in Dallas. What about keeping intact what you are a part of and have helped to build? Murray became a focal point of the Cowboys’ offense in 2014. For the first time in years, Dallas had a prime threat at running back to take pressure off of Romo and the passing game. What about continuing to excel with your same team, one that you had cemented a place on and provided it with so much chemistry and balance? What about the image and prestige that goes along with playing for a team that has such a strong history at your position? Walt Garrison, Don Perkins, Duane Thomas, Calvin Hill, Tony Dorsett, Herschel Walker, and the legendary Emmitt Smith each made their marks as running backs for the Cowboys. Dorsett and Smith are in the pro football hall of fame and along with Perkins are each in the team’s ring of honor. What about the fans and continuing to make them proud and happy? What about the pedigree that the Dallas franchise gives you and with it the platform to develop and market your name? These are all good things or factors that represent good opportunities that Murray could of taken advantage of to attain both team and individual goals. He has now left all of that behind and sacrificed it for money and statistics.

Signing with the Eagles also represents risk and sacrifice for Murray in terms of what he is going into. What about the uncertainties of fitting into a new team in terms of its’ coaches, players, and staff? What about navigating around a new team’s strengths and weaknesses, fitting into its’ offensive and defensive schemes, identifying with the culture in the locker room, and adjusting to a new city? Yes, new surroundings can sometimes not mesh well with players’ off-the-field activities. Sound and wise judgment is needed here which can be easier said than done.

Facing the arch rival Redskins in Washington, Murray breaks free. He set a Cowboys single season rushing record during the victory by running for 100 yards on 20 carries.

Facing the arch rival Redskins in Washington, Murray breaks free. He set a Cowboys single season rushing record during the victory by running for 100 yards on 20 carries.

This negotiation came down to money and market value for Murray who is coming off a breakout season in which he lead the league with 1,845 yards rushing which surpassed the single-season club record of Smith, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. Cowboys’ owner, president, and general manager Jerry Jones and Executive Vice President/COO/Director of Player Personnel Stephen Jones – Jerry’s son – negotiated this contract which seemed to be fair in regards to Murray rising to the top of the league’s rushing charts in 2014. Dallas had offered Murray a four-year deal worth $16 million for $4 million a year. This was a significant increase from the four-year $2.9 million contract that he signed after the Cowboys drafted the former Oklahoma running back in the third round in 2011. That contract included a signing bonus of $662,500.00 and paid Murray an average salary of $743,360.00. Murray made $1.4 million in base salary in 2014.

So surely, Jones and his son knew they were going to have to raise their offer if they had any hopes of re-signing Murray. They did. However once Murray started reaching out to the open market, his services became invaluable and of sizeable demand. Murray initiated some of this by making a personal phone call to Kelly as reported by ESPN and the NFL Network last week. In response to that, Dallas did raise its’ offer to Murray from $4 million a year to closer to $6 million a year. However Murray was able to find what he had sought and that in the end could not even be matched by Jones and company at Valley Ranch. So both Murray and the Cowboys moved on. Yet, this transaction begs the question, what if?

What if there was no salary cap in place in the NFL? In an announcement that was posted on www.dallascowboys.com on March 12, the team’s owner explained how the negotiations with Murray evolved and why Dallas did not elect to raise their offer in an effort to re-sign him.

“We are very grateful to DeMarco Murray for his contributions to the Dallas Cowboys,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “He is a quality person, a very good football player, and a player that we wanted to keep.”

“We have great appreciation for his skills, and if there was no salary cap in place, DeMarco would be a Cowboy,” Jones added. “This came down to an allocation of dollars within the management of the salary cap.”

“Obviously there is emotion involved in these decisions, but it is critical that there must be discipline involved as well. If it were a question of having an open checkbook with no salary cap constraints, we all know things would have worked out differently,” Jones stated.

“We have recently made significant commitments to top players who are currently on the team, specifically at key positions such as quarterback, left tackle, and wide receiver, and we were comfortable with the offer that we made to DeMarco to include him in that structure.”

“These are difficult decisions that are part of the NFL. They are decisions that take into account the entire team, the current economic structure of the team, and the financial concerns for the short and long term future of the team,” Jones said.

“At the end of the day, this is about finding the best way to collectively fit all of the individual pieces together, in terms of talent, offensive players, defensive players and dollars—under the salary cap structure—that gives you the best chance to have a championship team,” Jones concluded.

Murray and Dez Bryant posed a stellar one-two punch on offense while playing together for four years in Dallas.

Murray and Dez Bryant posed a stellar one-two punch on offense while playing together for four years in Dallas.

Jones points are well taken and make a lot of sense. Murray should of considered all of this before it reached this point because Philadelphia does not possess the same productivity or talent as Dallas. Murray seemed to be more of the stickler here on money. However money does not guarantee one’s place among NFL fame when it comes to credibility, success, championships, statistics, recognition, productivity, lore, or community presence. Those are all important factors that I think players should rate ahead of money, even though they want to get paid market value.

In Murray’s case, this is a critical time in his career. Having already played four years, he is in his prime and these next four to five years will determine how distinguished he becomes. Even though it was time for him to get paid, $4 million a year was a good increase from his initial four-year contract. Murray had to of been looking at the contracts of other top running backs including that of Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson, regarded as the top running back in the game today. Peterson – who has been mentioned as a player the Cowboys might seek to acquire this offseason – is scheduled to earn $12.75 million next season.

Regardless of all that, Murray still had plenty of reasons to stay in Dallas. There was a big increase in pay even at the $4 to $6 million range that Jones was offering. Plus, one super season does not make a running back’s career, or any player for that matter. Murray and the Cowboys had such a good thing going for the team and now the entire organization is left to pick up the pieces.

So there are no guarantees that Philadelphia will present Murray with the same opportunity for individual or team success that he was having and was still in position to attain in Dallas. I mean, not every team in the NFL has the same pedigree as the Cowboys. Dallas has played in eight Super Bowls which ties them with the Steelers and Patriots for the most appearances all-time. They are one of a handful of all-time great franchises in the history of professional football. In all of sports, the Cowboys are consistently mentioned as one of the most prestigious, successful, and recognizable entities. They are acknowledged in the professional sports world as being on par with The New York Yankees, The Green Bay Packers, The Boston Celtics, and the Montreal Canadiens. This strong association continues in the college ranks with Dallas being on par with the likes of the University of Notre Dame for its’ football heritage and UCLA for its dominance in men’s basketball. Playing for an organization with that kind of prestigious history and pedigree is paramount to gaining revered and legendary status. Murray was on his way to doing so with the Cowboys following his breakout season of 2014. One can only hope that he still has a productive career in Philadelphia and let that take him where it may. However his chance for having both productivity and indelible fame were much greater in Dallas. Yes, loyalty and sacrifice are significant.

Super Bowl Bound Brits: Understanding American Football 1

Posted on February 03, 2015 by John Harris

Great Britain is a country rich in culture, with a diverse language and a patriotic and proud people who live on a European island serving Queen and country. Fish and chips at the pier, tea and crumpets during lunch, passing the time with online casino games or watching the footie on the telly are all standard fare.

But just across the Atlantic you will find our long lost brothers from yesteryear, a culture built on freedom and ammunition, America. A country made famous in the media for its delicious fast food and muscled heroes. But, none of these things mean anything without all-American Football!

Also known as football or gridiron, American football is a strategic game that originates from rugby. The game is all about making sure your team has as much territory on the field as possible.  The offensive team has control of the ball and they have to ensure they make up as much ground as possible without being stopped by the defending team.

There are also multiple zones on the field and, depending on how much ground the offensive team has made up, these will determine whether or not they retain control over the ball.

Typical equipment worn in American football includes bulky shoulder pads as well as kneepads and a gridded helmet. Although all this protection may seem a little unnecessary to us, as rugby players don’t make use of them, it sure helps preventing major injuries as seen in traditional football back in Europe.  Read the rest of this entry →

Super Bowl XLIX: Can Brady and the Patriots Deflate the Seahawks? 6

Posted on January 28, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch are hoping or a repeat f Super Bowl XLVIII when they were the dominant team.

Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch are hoping or a repeat f Super Bowl XLVIII when they were the dominant team.

After a week in which we have learned more than we ever wanted to know about the air pressure of a football or Marshawn Lynch’s personality (or lack thereof), we are now closing in on the important topic of just which team will win Super Bowl XLIX.

If live betting trends are any indication, it will be a close game. The defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks were the early favorites, but as the game has drawn closer, the Patriots seem to be attractive to many folks who are laying down money on the game.

One reason the Patriots have become a hot pick is because they dominated the AFC Championship Game while the Seahawks needed a late comeback to earn their back-to-back Super Bowl appearance.

Regardless of whether you think the Patriots gained an advantage in the AFC Championship Game because of the pressure of the footballs, there is no disputing that the Patriots dominated the Colts to reach the Super Bowl for the sixth time in the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady era.

The question now is whether they can claim their fourth victory or if they will fall for the third straight time in the biggest game of the year.

Pete Carroll and the Seahawks didn’t look like they would have a chance to repeat early in the season, or with 10 minutes left in the NFC Championship Game for that matter, but they fought their way back to the top and now have a chance to win back-to-back titles for only the ninth time in Super Bowl history and first time since the Patriots did it a decade ago.

As was the case a year ago when the Seahawks whipped the high-scoring Broncos as well as in each of the two Super Bowl losses the Patriots suffered at the hands of the Giants, the game will hinge on whether a talented offense can overcome a dominant defense. Read the rest of this entry →

Rukkus Offers Ticket Deals for Super Bowl XLIX 2

Posted on January 17, 2015 by Dean Hybl

January is halfway over, which means NFL fans from around the globe are coming together to watch the top NFC and AFC teams fight to take home the beloved Super Bowl ring.

Rukkus has a wide variety of tickets available for Super Bowl XLIX

Rukkus has a wide variety of tickets available for Super Bowl XLIX

Whether you’re a New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, or Indianapolis Colts fan (or your favorite team has long been eliminated), we’d love to get you to this year’s Super Bowl. That’s why we’ve partnered with NFL ticket search engine and marketplace, Rukkus, to get you prices around 25% cheaper than StubHub. Read the rest of this entry →

Online Sportsbook Picks for NFC/AFC Conference Championships 1

Posted on January 14, 2015 by Bryan Sheridan
Kam Chancellor and the Seattle Seahawks are just two wins away from repeating as Super Bowl champs.

Kam Chancellor and the Seattle Seahawks are just two wins away from repeating as Super Bowl champs.

We’re mere days from the NFL Conference Championships and you couldn’t ask for two better matchups. In the NFC, the conference’s top seeds face off in a grudge match between two teams that have battled repeatedly, and controversially, in the last few seasons. In the AFC, Tom Brady and Belichick are planning for Andrew Luck and the Colts, who are coming off a victory over Peyton Manning in what was possible his last game…ever.

According to Vegas, the home teams are clear favorites in both games. Odds at online sportsbook TopBet have the Patriots and Seahawks each favored by at least a touchdown, but there is more to these games than meets the eye.

Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks

Aaron Rodgers is hurt, but he’s still the likely regular season MVP, and he just beat the Dallas Cowboys on one leg, throwing some of his most accurate passes of the year. Don’t count this man out.

The issue for the Packers against Seattle remains their run defense. The Seahawks ran all over the Packers in Week 1, putting up 207 yards, and while the Packers have (at times) found the ability to make plays against the run, most recently causing a key DeMarco Murray fumble, they are still unlikely to stop Marshawn Lynch from clearing the century mark. The Packers will need Rodgers to outscore Lynch if they hope to book their ticket to the Super Bowl. Read the rest of this entry →

The Biggest Super Bowl Upset of All Time 4

Posted on January 14, 2015 by Jeremy Biberdorf
The catch by David Tyree was the most amazing play from the biggest Super Bowl upset since Super Bowl III.

The catch by David Tyree was the most amazing play from the biggest Super Bowl upset since Super Bowl III.

This statement is contentious. There are certainly a few contenders for the biggest underdog triumph in the several dozen Super Bowls I have had occasion to see. I wasn’t around for all of them, but I have watched almost all of them at this point, on Youtube and from the private collections of friends. Super Bowl XLII has been thoroughly documented, but seeing it live, and several times thereafter, I can attest to the fact that it is the most incredible upset I have seen in a Super Bowl. It’s one of the craziest games, period, any sport. Here’s why.

The thing about Super Bowl XLII is that it is infuriating to watch. Stretches and entire quarters just draaaag ooooon. It’s Giants v. Patriots, and, if you haven’t seen it for yourself, everybody thought that Patriots would cream the Giants. After all, they won every other game, and were expected to come out on top of this one by 12 points, according to the Super Bowl Odds. The two teams had played each other one other time in the same season, back when the Patriots won 38-35. That was a brutal game in its own right, and you really see the Super Bowl players remembering that, wanting to come out on top.

The Giants spend 9 minutes and 59 seconds on their first possession. That’s a Super Bowl Record in its own right. It’s messy, but not unprofessional. The teams are so equally matched in their play, but the Giants just keep advancing, 2 steps forward 1 step back. Finally, they are only able to get a field goal. Utter torture. But they’re on the board at the end of the first quarter. The Patriots respond with a slap to the face, a 1-yard touchdown in the second quarter’s first play. Read the rest of this entry →

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