Terrell Owens denies rumors he's influencing Julio Jones' holdout. The player who could make the Jaguars even more dangerous this year. How to create a monster World Cup team out of NFL players. All that and more in this week's 10-Point Stance.
1. Julio Jones is his own man
There are three facts we need to get straight before we dive into this story about Julio Jones and Terrell Owens.
First: Jones wants more money, and he skipped minicamp to get more money. This is a fact.
Second: The relationship between Jones and the Falcons is strained. League sources have told me this for weeks. It can be repaired, but for now, there's tension. This is a fact.
Third: All of this has absolutely nothing to do with anything but Jones' relationship with the team and the money he should be getting paid. This is a fact.
So how do we get from those facts—and from the story of Jones' contract desires, one of the potentially more important stories in the NFL this offseason—to Owens?
The jump in logic is indicative of something many people seem to be suffering from these days: Terrell Owens Derangement Syndrome.
The key to this lies in a report from D. Orlando Ledbetter, a longtime Falcons reporter and an excellent journalist. Ledbetter said on ESPN Radio in Charlotte on Monday that the Falcons are uneasy about Jones' relationship with Owens, whom he's trained with this offseason.
"The fact that he's running around with Terrell Owens has the front office uneasy," Ledbetter said.
Ledbetter's report may be correct, but what is incorrect is this notion that Owens is actually having some type of negative effect on Jones. Or that he's in any way involved in Jones' negotiations with the team.
"I have no idea where all of this is coming from," Owens told me this week. "I have nothing to do with Julio except training. This is the media trying [to] create something that's not even there. It's very unfortunate. What possible reason would they have to create that narrative?"
To be clear: Based on Ledbetter's report, it's not the media that's creating this narrative; it's the Falcons.
The truth is Jones wants more money because Jones wants more money.
This is not complicated. Jones believes he's outperformed his contract. A thousand players before him have felt the same way, and thousand more after him will.
The difference with this example is that Owens is involved, and so naturally, he is being used as a scapegoat. Because that's just the treatment Owens gets.
Global warming? That's Owens' fault, too. Stock market takes a hit? Owens. Aliens invade? All Owens.
From everything I've been told by people close to Jones, the reality is that he sees Owens as a good person and valuable influence. That they've trained together says nothing more than that the two have a positive and close relationship.
And really, how weak a person do you have to believe Jones to be to think he'd be easily influenced in a negative way by Owens?
(Or maybe you think Owens is some type of Obi-Wan Terrobi? Owens: "You don't need to go to minicamp." Jones: "I don't need to go to minicamp.")
What needs to be understood is that Jones is highly intelligent (like Owens) and sees the landscape around him. Everyone is getting richer, including his teammate Matt Ryan. Jones is also aware of the toll the sport takes on his body and mind. He wants to get his cash like everyone else.
He is his own man.
He isn't being brainwashed by Owens. He doesn't need to be.
2. Is Rashad Greene the Jaguars' next star?
You might not know the name Rashad Greene yet. You will next year.
Greene is a wide receiver for the Jaguars. If you do know him, it might be for one of the biggest plays of his young career, this punt return against Indianapolis last December.
It was one of the fastest punt returns I've ever seen.
Greene has some of the best pure talent on a Jaguars team that is one of the five most talented in football. He has only shown a portion of that talent so far because of an Achilles injury.
Now Greene is back, healthy and has a chance to be a breakout player.
Greene is a microcosm of the entire Jaguars team. The franchise is still growing, and its potential is vast. The team has some issues, of course, like every team, but it also is continuing to grow. Like Greene.
"I feel like it's time for me to take it to another level," Greene told me recently. "I want to show Jaguars fans what I can really do, and I think I can do so much more."
The Jaguars lost to the Patriots in last year's conference title game but had a 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter. There's no reason to think this team can't make a Super Bowl run this coming season. I asked Greene if that was a fair thing to say.
"I believe that's fair, yes," he said. "We have to keep working and getting better and we will. I feel like we have everything we need to make it. We have a lights-out defense and an offense that can run the ball well and pass it well. I've seen Blake [Bortles] improve so much this offseason. His decisions are cleaner and he's got the support of the entire team."
The Jaguars aren't going anywhere but up. Like Greene.
3. $20 million for Oliver Luck?
One piece of news I missed regarding Oliver Luck taking control of the XFL was this from the Sports Business Journal:
Still, that $20 million annually for essentially a startup is a great deal of money. It's also yet another signal the XFL reboot is real.
4. The Browns and Super Bowl odds
The most interesting part of this Sports Illustrated story on the beginning of legal gambling in New Jersey is the picture showing Super Bowl odds.
The goal of oddsmakers is to encourage gambling. That's understood.
But they have the Browns 75-1 to win the Super Bowl—better odds than the Jets, Bengals, Colts, Washington, Dolphins, Bills, Cardinals and Buccaneers.
Oddsmakers are wrong a lot. Like sportswriters.
The odds do reflect a general feeling I hear across the NFL that the Browns will be better this coming season. Granted, they can't get worse than 0-16, but the optimism seems to be genuine and reflect faith in quarterback Tyrod Taylor and that the Browns have some weapons on offense, like Carlos Hyde and a stacked receiving group.
They are in position to make a dramatic move up.
Just don't bet on them to win the Super Bowl. Not yet.
5. The NFL All-World Cup team
Give me this team with one year to train, and the U.S. the next two World Cups.
Using a standard 4-4-2:
Forward: Antonio Brown
Striker: Justin Tuck
Left midfielder: Le'Veon Bell
Defensive midfielder: Patrick Peterson (team captain)
Defensive midfielder: Jalen Ramsey
Right midfielder: Odell Beckham Jr.
Left back: David Johnson
Sweeper: Darren Sproles
Goalkeeper: Rob Gronkowski
Stopper: Marcus Peters
Right back: Xavier Rhodes
Manager: Bill Belichick
FIFA president: Roger Goodell
Yes, I know: It's a different sport and athletes don't automatically traverse from one sport to another. Yes, I also know: Stick to football.
6. Contract disputes shouldn't be one way
Cranky Bill Polian is back, this time with a rant about how players should live up to their contracts:
Omar Kelly @OmarKelly
It’s ironic that former NFL GM Bill Polian wants players to honor their contract without pointing out teams REGULARY fail to honor the contracts they sign.Far more players are waived & shaken down for pay reductions each year in the NFL compared to those holding out for new deals https://t.co/QizM54H5OK
Polian has every right to his opinion. The only problem is there's a massive hole in his logic.
Why should only players live up to their deals, and not teams?
Teams cut veterans and break contracts all the time. It's almost a daily occurrence, and that is the right of NFL teams.
It's conversely also the right of players to break contracts if they feel those contracts are outdated or if they've outplayed them.
None of this means you should have sympathy for players, but it's always fascinating when people ask players to behave one way while failing to acknowledge teams behave in the exact same manner.
7. Manziel isn't playing, but that won't last
Just in case you're not a CFL junky loser like me and missed one of the biggest pieces of news from the league: Johnny Manziel didn't play in the Hamilton Tiger-Cats' season opener.
The odds that Manziel stays on the bench for long are slim. He will play and soon. He wasn't brought to Canada to sit on the bench.
My guess: Manziel makes his debut in some fashion—either off the bench or as a starter—on June 29, Hamilton's home opener.
8. One of the great quotes of the year
A post-Father's Day quote below from Detroit wide receiver Marvin Jones, via Justin Rogers of the Detroit News. I love the imagery, the humor and the humanity of it. Many people see NFL players as robots; they are not.
Here is Jones on life with four young kids: "We don't have anything hanging up because we're always throwing balls around the house. We don't have any paintings, nothing. The TV is probably the only thing we can break and that's just how it's always been. We throw footballs in the living room. You have limits everywhere in life, but there's no limits in the house."
9. Still nothing on Dez Bryant
It's still incredibly quiet regarding the destination of Dez Bryant, a fierce player who the league doesn't think has much left. (I do.)
The landing spot for Bryant that I continue to hear is San Francisco, but that's far from certain. The truth is, for the moment, we simply don't know. It remains one of the great (and temporary) secrets in the league.
10. NFL's dead season
It's officially here. The NFL slows to a crawl until late July when training camps begin in earnest.
In the meantime, watch this scene from an episode of Deep Space Nine. It's one of the best in Trek history.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.