Money, power and texting standoffs. Just another week in the NFL offseason.
1. 20 Years without a Title, and Still the Cowboys Are No. 1
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will go into the Hall of Fame. He will go because no owner, maybe in the history of sports, has done what Jones has when it comes to building a franchise. He has created a football ATM, one of the great gold mines professional sports has ever seen.
The latest Forbes ranking of most valuable sports franchises has the Cowboys again on top. They are worth $4 billion. Four. Freaking. Billion.
As Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram wrote, Jones often talks about how when he bought the Cowboys 27 years ago, they were losing $1 million a month. In the past, I've heard the same thing from Jones. He's extraordinarily proud of the financial turnaround he has engineered, as he should be. Jones spent about $100 million to both purchase the team and obtain the leasing rights to Texas Stadium, as Williams pointed out. Of that total, almost $80 million came directly from Jones.
Now, there are few franchises in any sport that pump out cash like the Cowboys. They're a monster, which is why Forbes ranked them No. 1 ahead of Spanish soccer powers Real Madrid and Barcelona.
"I would say that I would trade it for some first downs," Jones told the Star-Telegram about the ranking.
The Forbes ranking shows, again, the duality that is Jerry Jones and the Cowboys. He's made the team into a financial success story, but the team hasn't won a Super Bowl since 1995, when Barry Switzer led Dallas to a title with a core of players assembled largely by Jimmy Johnson, who left two seasons before.
Back in the glory years of the Jones era, he was always the money guy, and Johnson was the football guy. What Jones has not been able to do since is find that Jimmy-like football guy. Johnson is another Hall of Famer (or, rather, he should be and one day likely will be) who didn't care about the financial aspect, just football.
The Forbes ranking also demonstrates just how hard it is to win despite making mounds of cash. In football, one has nothing to do with the other. It's all about drafting smartly, making intelligent free-agent signings and finding the right head coach. Jones has been sporadic, at best, at those three things.
This year has a good chance to be different. Dallas has the potential to make a deep playoff run, maybe even to the Super Bowl. Tony Romo is healthy again, the Dallas defense will be markedly better and the team may have the best running game in football. This could finally be Jones' post-Jimmy Johnson year.
This could be the season that Jones becomes known for more than just overflowing checking accounts.
But for now—right now—Jones' legacy remains one of the cash king. He's been a moneymaker and a longtime NFL power broker. That is why he will get into the Hall of Fame, and deservedly so.
Yet in terms of winning games and championships, Jones' Cowboys have been remarkably mediocre. That might change this season. It will need to change if Jones' legacy as football man is to come close to that of his record as a businessman.
2. An Outstanding Book from Two NFL Brothers
Geoff Schwartz, in a powerful and at times emotional book about life in and out of football, writes about an instance of bigotry that caught me by surprise. The book, co-authored with his NFL brother Mitch, is called Eat My Schwartz: Our Story of NFL Football, Food, Family, and Faith. I received an advance copy.
Geoff, who is Jewish, was in his second year at the University of Oregon when a freshman, during a rookie show, performed a song that referenced "Jews burning in ovens."
"I think that some people don't really realize that the Holocaust is not something to joke about," writes Geoff. "Back then I was just disappointed that people can be so unaware and unfeeling."
The book is humorous, smart and takes you inside NFL locker rooms. It also offers the story of life in football from the viewpoint of two Jewish men. The brothers say there are about five Jewish players in the NFL out of 1,700. Now in Detroit, Geoff says he regularly shares and discusses Jewish traditions and culture with NFL teammates. Mitch now is in Kansas City.
This was, easily, one of the most unique and well-done books about NFL life I've ever read. And unlike a lot of football books, it actually gives you a good look inside NFL life.
3. Did He or Didn't He Call?
If you don't want to believe anything Roger Goodell says because of Deflategate, that is your prerogative, and the way the NFL handled that miserable case was questionable at best. So go ahead. Don't believe.
But the notion that Goodell would call Mark Wahlberg, one of the creative minds behind the HBO series Ballers, and complain about the show is ridiculous. It's fantasy. Goodell wouldn't make that call because he knows news of such a call would get out.
It's far more likely that one of Goodell's people made the call. If the call happened at all.
4. Ryan Tannehill, Your Time Better Be Now
The chance of that, to me, is slim, mainly because Foster gets injured so much. Yet he's one of the 10 most talented backs of the past decade, so the potential exists that the Dolphins may have made one of the best acquisitions of the offseason.
What this signing also says is the Dolphins know just how much pressure is on Ryan Tannehill this year. The Dolphins have spent the spring and summer putting weapons all around their beleaguered quarterback, so there won't be any excuses left if he posts another disappointing season. At all. The offense is talented and deep. If Tannehill doesn't succeed in this offense, he never will.
5. Star Power
Just in case you haven't seen this. Odell Beckham Jr. walks down the street in Germany and all hell breaks loose.
A league executive told me the video is a sign of the NFL's popularity in Germany specifically and Europe overall. I think it's just a sign of Beckham's popularity.
6. Be Careful What You Wish For, Washington
I've been told the Washington franchise likes Kirk Cousins; it just doesn't love him and is willing to eventually let him go and find someone else. I find this line of thinking faulty and arrogant. It's not like this franchise during the Dan Snyder era has had an incredible run of luck finding franchise quarterbacks. The one they did find, Robert Griffin III, shredded his knee and is now in Cleveland.
When you get a good quarterback—and Washington has one in Cousins—keep him at all costs. Most teams understand this. I don't get why Washington doesn't.
7. Bart Scott and I Will Have to Agree to Disagree
Bart Scott is one of the best analysts out there. Along with Randy Moss, the former linebacker is one of the most underrated NFL broadcasting talents working today. But if Scott thinks, as he said, that quarterback Geno Smith would be an upgrade from Ryan Fitzpatrick for the Jets, he's lost his mind.
Fitzpatrick isn't Joe Montana, but he is infinitely better than Smith, who has done nothing to show he's going to be a productive player. I get it: Smith is still young. Things could change, but he's not yet shown he's on the level of Fitzpatrick. Not yet and probably ever.
8. Brandon Marshall, Fitzpatrick and Texting
Last Jets note. Receiver Brandon Marshall, while a guest on the podcast of actor and Jets fan Michael Rapaport, said he hasn't gotten a text back from Fitzpatrick in two weeks. While this sounds a little like two middle school kids, and it's possible the texting has resumed, Marshall said the two men constantly stayed in touch. The fact they aren't now—if that's still the case—is a bit of a warning sign.
If Fitzpatrick blocks Marshall on Twitter, then we have a real problem.
Better not unfriend him on Facebook.
9. Issue of Cannabinoid Use in the NFL Gaining Strength
Former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer is pushing not just for the use of cannabinoids in the NFL to treat pain, but also for a study of how cannabinoids can prevent brain injury and CTE.
The most interesting part of what Plummer said was something that ex-players increasingly state—many players he knew while in the NFL became addicted to painkillers. Plummer's hope is an increase in the use of cannabinoids will help players avoid those dangerous addictions.
10. Charles Tillman Leaves on Top
Like many NFL careers, even some great ones, Charles Tillman's ended quietly. This week, the 13-year veteran cornerback announced his retirement, and what a career he had.
Tillman had a powerful impact on the Bears. He set team records with nine defensive touchdowns, eight interception return scores and 675 interception return yards. Without much fanfare, Tillman became one of the great Bears defenders, in a franchise full of them, and one of the most respected players in the sport.
Off the field, he was a leader in the community and understood the value of staying out of trouble.
In many ways, he was the perfect football player and the kind of person the sport will miss.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @mikefreemanNFL.