After the Summer of Lockout and a frenzied several weeks of training camps and transactions, the NFL’s 2011 regular-season schedule opens this week as the last two Super Bowl champs — Saints and Packers — meet in Green Bay’s Lambeau Field on Thursday night.
There has been plenty of news on this Monday, so let’s get caught up on news and notes from around the league.
MANNING WON’T PRACTICE: Colts QB Peyton Manning, who has never missed a start in his NFL career (227 regular season and postseason games), has been told to miss practice this week in advance of Indianapolis’ opener at AFC South rival Houston. Manning has lingering soreness in his back after offseason neck surgery, ESPN.com reported Monday. The Colts issued a statement that team doctors re-evaluated Manning over the weekend and instructed him to not practice while he undergoes more tests.
If Manning can’t go on Sunday, the Colts will turn to backup Kerry Collins, signed during training camp. If Peyton doesn’t start Sunday, his brother Eli will have the longest starting streak among NFL QBs with 103. Peyton’s regular-season streak stands at 208.
TRESSEL PUTS HIMSELF ON SHELF: Former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, who resigned over the summer after several NCAA violations came to light, toured several NFL training camps as a guest. Tressel was hired by the Colts as a game-day consultant over the weekend, but Tressel has elected to not start his job untll Week 7. Tressel’s decision, without prompting from the NFL, mirrors the NFL’s decision to hold former OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor out through Week 5 because of NCAA violations that ended his college eligibility and sent him into the NFL’s Supplemental Draft.
The Colts’ released a statement Monday from Colts’ Vice Chairman Bill Polian on Tressel’s hiring and delay of the start of his duties stemming from the NCAA issues at Ohio State:
After the announcement of Coach Jim Tressel’s agreement to join the Colts as a game day consultant, questions were raised with respect to the equity of his appointment as opposed to suspensions being served this season by present and former Ohio State players.
Over the weekend Coach Tressel, (owner) Mr. (Jim) Irsay, (Head) Coach (Jim) Caldwell and I had a discussion of the issue. In addition, we had a conversation with league officials to apprise them of the details of Coach Tressel’s employment and the issues we were reviewing.
At Coach Tressel’s suggestion, and with Mr. Irsay’s concurrence and support, we have decided to begin Coach Tressel’s employment effective with our seventh regular season game. We have informed the league office of our decision and expect that they will be supportive of it.
We are very happy Coach Tressel will be joining us.
Pryor was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the supplemental draft, and this weekend word leaked out that his lawyer, David Cornwell, had filed paperwork to reserve the right to appeal Pryor’s suspension, pending the player’s approval. But Pryor and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, have made public statements that they would not appeal.
PAYTON EXTENDED: Saints head coach Sean Payton, who faced local scrutiny in New Orleans for moving his family to the Dallas suburbs during the offseason and for the club moving a part of this year’s training camp to Oxnard, Calif., where the Cowboys had spent training camp several times, agreed to a contract extension through the 2015 season, the Saints announced today.
Counting postseason play, Payton is 53-33 with the Saints over five seasons, including the club’s first world title when New Orleans won Super Bowl XLV and a trip to the NFC Championship Game in his first season in 2006.
NFL WILL COMMEMORATE 9/11 SUNDAY: The NFL with have special tributes during all games Sunday — the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
According to a press release from the NFL, the games and broadcasts on 9/11 will unite fans to recognize those who lost their lives, honor the families who lost loved ones, and salute the American spirit, the early responders on 9/11, and other heroes that contributed to the nation’s recovery.
The schedule of games for that day was designed to appropriately commemorate 9/11 on a national level and what it represents to Americans. Eight games will kick off at 1 pm ET, including the Baltimore Ravens hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are based approximately 80 miles from Shanksville, Pa., on CBS. The 4:15 pm ET window of four games includes FOX’s telecast of the Washington Redskins hosting the New York Giants. To conclude the day, the Dallas Cowboys visit the New York Jets on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
The NFL will synch the pregame salutes during the Sunday afternoon CBS and FOX telecasts, followed by a special Sunday night presentation from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on NBC. The special pregame events that will be televised nationally also will be shown on videoboards in each of the stadiums hosting games that day.
All games in each of the broadcast windows will feature a special video introduction followed by performances of “Taps” from near the sites of the attacks, and moments of silence. For the 1 pm games, “Taps” will be performed in Shanksville while the 4:15 pm games will feature a rendition from Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. The Sunday night game will include a performance from Hoboken, N.J., looking across the Hudson River to Ground Zero. Coaches, players and local first responders and other heroes will come together to hold field-length American flags for the playing of the National Anthem prior to each game.
Players, coaches and sideline personnel will wear a special NFL 9/11 ribbon as a patch or pin on their uniforms and sideline apparel. All stadiums hosting games on September 11 will feature the ribbon logo on the field.
In addition, the NFL and NFLPA will donate all proceeds from the sale of auction items from games played on 9/11. These items, which fans can bid on at www.NFL.com/Auction, will include game-worn autographed player jerseys, coaches and player hats, and commemorative game coins used during those games.
NFL Auction proceeds will be divided equally between Tuesday’s Children and MyGoodDeed. Tuesday’s Children is a leading organization providing support and services to those who lost a loved one on 9/11, as well as to rescue and recovery workers who responded to the events. As the principle organizer of the September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance, MyGoodDeed is providing a positive, forward-looking way for Americans to honor and remember 9/11 victims, survivors, and first-responders.