Five stories you may have missed (August 1)

With the Houston Texans and New York Jets now in training camp, all 32 teams are preparing for the 2011 preseason schedule, which begins a week from Thursday.

The NFL’s free-agent frenzy has rightfully dominated the headlines, but there are five stories worth reading in this final week without a NFL game being played until next February after Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.

These are in no particular order:

1. Pete Fierle of the Pro Football Hall of Fame took a look back at some of the memorable moments he witnessed during his almost three decades at the Hall. Pete’s top-five moments (with videos in each link):
5 – Dan Marino’s last pass (2005)
4 – Terry Bradshaw delivers (1989)
3 – Bud Grant’s moving speech (1994)
2 – Charlie Sanders’ tribute to his mom (2007)
1 – Standing ovation for Art Monk (2008)

Fierle wrote about Monk’s induction:

It wasn’t long before the tingling feeling that struck me told me that something special was happening. Monk tried and tried again to start his speech but each time the Washington Redskins fans drowned him out. After about two minutes, there was a buzz all around the stage as everyone was inquiring had something like this ever happened before. The phone from the press box rang as my staff was being bombarded by media wondering the same thing.

For a sports fan, I can’t think of anything more dramatic or exciting than a lengthy standing ovation. So, the more than five-minute ovation that Monk received that evening ranks as the most memorable moment of any Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement I’ve witnessed.

2. The Hall of Fame inducts a new class this Saturday in Canton, and one of the seven enshrinees is someone you may not have met, but you know his (and the hundreds of those who put their imprint into the NFL’s image) work, NFL Films founder Ed Sabol. Sabol’s story, from taking a gamble on getting the rights to the 1962 NFL title game, will be told in NFL Network’s documentary, “The King of Football Movies” this week.

But, Philly.com’s Paul Domowitch wrote last week that Sabol’s legacy has had a hard road since the league started the NFL Network in a piece titled, “NFL Films and Network: A marriage gone bad“. The piece centers on the internal battles between the network’s operations in Los Angeles and Films, based outside of Philadelphia in Mount Laurel, N.J. Anyone who was raised on “NFL Game of the Week” or “Football Follies” knows how Films built generations of fans with cinema-quality work. The battle is between old and new and the business-side transitions the league has gone through in recent years.

3. According to a story by the Chicago Sun-Times’ Sean Jensen, “Carl Eller claims NFL Players Association ripped off retirees“, the NFL informed Eller’s legal team last week that the NFLPA took money off the table for retirees in the about-to-be-ratified CBA. Eller, a Hall of Famer, is the primary plantiff in an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL, and his group was heard at times during the mediation sessions this summer.

The NFL and NFLPA added a “Legacy Fund” for pre-1993 retired players in the new CBA that is being finalized this week. According to the story, Eller said:

We would not have heard of this if we would have waited for the players association or Nolan Harrison to give us this information. The NFL felt this is information we should have.

4. Earlier this summer, I wrote about the Ravens’ decision to not hold their 2011 training camp in Westminster due to the labor uncertainty. The Baltimore Sun’s Don Markus traveled to the city that has a long history with hosting Baltimore football teams to gauge the impact that not having camp has had on businesses there, in a story titled, “Without Ravens, fans not flocking to Westminster

In the story, Markus wrote:

Though lifelong resident and first-term mayor Kevin Utz can’t put an exact dollar figure on the loss of revenue due to the team’s absence, he said Sunday that restaurants whose clientele came strictly to watch their favorite NFL team practice could lose between “10 and 20 percent” of their expected revenue and the Best Western hotel where the Ravens housed their players and coaches would likely be affected even more.

5. If you don’t understand the “Passer Rating,” you are not alone. Hardcore fans might tell you that a perfect passer rating is 158.3, but the rating is strictly tied to stats, not situation. Also, there are those who incorrectly call it “Quarterback Rating”.

Later this week, ESPN Stats & Information will debut a new statistic, The Total Quarterback Rating (or Total QBR), a 100-point ratings scale which according to Mike Sando of ESPN.com, in his blog post, “How to identify NFL’s best quarterbacks“:

The QBR formula takes into account down, distance, field position, time remaining, rushing, passing sacks, fumbles, interceptions, how far each pass travels in the air, from where on the field the ball was thrown, yards after the catch, dropped balls, defensed balls, whether the quarterback was hit, whether he threw away the ball to avoid a sack, whether the pass was thrown accurately, etc. Each play carries “clutch weight” based on its importance to game outcome, as determined by analyzing those 60,000 plays since 2008. The stats adjust for quarterbacks facing an unusually high number of these situations.

Here is the full release on Total QBR from ESPN PR. It will be very interesting to see how this new ratings system is received, but with ESPN’s promotion, fans will learn about the stat all season long.

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