Sport

The rumoured McLaren staff revolt and the underlying realities

Reality can be harsh.
Mclaren, a team that has not won a race since November 2012, signed a deal with Honda during 2013 for the 2015 season. Ron Dennis, the founder of the modern McLaren that we know, stated in 2015 that in his opinion, it was not possible for any team to win without being a “factory” engine team for a major manufacturer. McLaren had been nowhere compared to Mercedes in the 2014 season, and Dennis concluded that no customer team could enjoy the same access, and hence the same level of integration and optimization, as a factory team.
We know the history of the McLaren – Honda relationhip since 2015. The relationship, never a good one, finally collapsed last Spring and Summer, when Honda turned up for Winter testing with a powerplant that kept failing, vibrated the hell out of itself and the car, and was lacking in power. After putting Honda on a strict plan to force them to provide a powerplant by the end of the Summer that approached Mercedes customer power, McLaren walked away from the relationship in September 2017, and the Honda engine deal is now with Toro Rosso. The Honda program is now on its third leader in 4 seasons, so there have been consequences inside Honda for the poor performance of the powerplant.
However, all of the time that McLaren was struggling to be competitive with the Honda powerplant, the team had a ready-made excuse for poor on-track performance. It was the same mantra: we would be a lot more competitive with anybody else’s powerplant in the car. This narrative of a potentially front-running team hobbled by a sub-standard power unit was bought into by the drivers, and team management, who said it consistently a lot in the 2017 season.
Following the break with Honda, McLaren, having failed to agree a deal with Mercedes, signed a 3 year deal with Renault. Zak Brown and other McLaren leaders made encouraging noises, pointing out when asked that Red Bull, despite not being a “factory” team (and in fact, despite having re-badged their Renault powerplant as a Tag-Heuer), were winning races. The expectation was that McLaren could be a top 8 team again, capable of podiums, with a chance of a win.
Although the McLaren-Renault car of 2018 is more reliable and more competitive than the McLaren-Honda car, it is still not competitive enough. The car qualifies in about the same place as it did when powered by Honda, and is more consistently competitive in race trim, but it is still not fast enough. So far this season, there is not even the sniff of a podium.
Formula 1, under the current hybrid powerplant formula, is a two-tier series. Mercedes, Ferrari and (on a good day) Red Bull are in Tier 1. The remaining teams are in Tier 2. Absent a sudden change in aero regulations or car development, this is likely to be the status quo until the end of the 2020 season and the beginning of a new engine formula.
In the meantime, Fernando Alonso has seemingly shifted gears away from trying to win in Formula 1 to achieving the rare feat of a win at Monaco, a Formula 1 world championship, a win in the Indianapolis 500, and a win at Le Mans. He appears to have realized that, out of options for any further wins or championships in Formula 1, he should chase the quadruple crown, only achieved by one man (Graham Hill).
McLaren is reported to be keen to keep Alonso in the organization, and to that end is involved in detail discussions with Andretti Autosport to set up an Indycar team for Alonso for 2019 and beyond. The series would be delighted to have Alonso, and if enough sponsorship can be found, it is possible that 2018 will be Fernando Alonso’s last season in F1.
The lack of competitiveness of the Mclaren-Renault car, plus the seeming diversion of resources away from F1, has led to rumours of a staff revolt. There have already been staff changes, with Tim Goss, a long time employee, leaving his job as Technical Director (chassis) in April.
The coalescence point for the rumours appears to be the potential availability of Martin Whitmarsh. Whitmarsh was the CEO of the racing team until he was fired by Ron Dennis in 2014. He was given a generous severance deal that apparently prevented him from working in Formula 1 for a lengthy period of time, so he took a job as the CEO of the UK’s Americas Cup yacht team for several years, a job that he relinquished in November 2017.
Whitmarsh was eventually replaced at Mclaren by Jost Capito, poached from VW by Ron Dennis, but Capito, being Ron’s man, was dismissed soon after Dennis left the organization that he founded, and Zak Brown became the CEO.
Recently, Whitmarsh has been seen in and around the McLaren garage at races, having seemingly been welcomed back into the fold following the departure last year of Ron Dennis. He has now (wittingly or unwittingly) become a lightning rod for the rumours of staff discontent.
The rumours seem to have the following narrative: Eric Bouiller has no credibility as the team manager, because the car is noncompetitive and he cannot explain why. Zak Brown has no credibility because he is distracting McLaren by trying to set up a team in Indycar, and allowing Fernando Alonso to drive in other racing series.
Solution: Bring back Martin Whitmarsh.
There are some problems with this idea, in no particular order:

1. Whitmarsh is supposed to be well-liked in McLaren. This may be true, but sometimes the reason why a leader is popular is that they are not kicking the corporation along. McLaren’s on-track performance declined while Whitmarsh was the CEO. It is not clear how or why the expectation that it will improve if he returns is valid. The idea of getting Whitmarsh back seems to be more rooted in “his name is not Bouiller or Brown”.
2. There is next to no chance of Mclaren winning a Formula 1 race prior to 2021. Renault’s powerplant is not at the level of Ferrari or Mercedes, and the performance of this year’s car shows that it is a good, not great, car. (The problem with blaming your powerplant supplier is that when you change suppliers, your stock excuse disappears). McLaren does not have the engineering bench of Red Bull, so the idea of a “wild card” win is over-optimistic.
McLaren, if it wants to plausibly be a winning racing organization, has to move into another series. The WEC is expensive at the top level, the regulations are in flux, and the series lacks enough promotion muscle outside of Le Mans. Indycar is the next best series from a fit and financial standpoint. A winning McLaren indycar would be a powerful distraction from the average performance of the current F1 team, and if enough sponsorship can be found, it would be self-financing. Winning cures a lot of ills within a competitive organization.

The idea that parachuting a single person into McLaren will magically restore the team’s fortunes is not realistic. Most of the issues with the F1 team are the result of poor strategic decisions. The strategy of going with Honda was the correct one, but the results were not there. McLaren, realistically, is in survival mode in F1 until 2021. Any new CEO is unlikely to be able to change that reality.

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Why the NFL is losing the battle with Donald Trump

Every week (or so it seems) the NFL finds itself deeper and deeper in the mud while seemingly unable to get out of a wrestling match with the President.
The reasons are pretty simple.

1. The NFL owners may be wealthy, but many of them have an appallingly defective understanding of human nature.
2. They also (like many self-made men) are conceited and self-confident enough to think that they can negotiate anything with anybody and get a result in their favor. Including the President.
3. NFL owners do not (under any circumstances) want NFL Players to have the same power as players in other sports such as basketball.

Those 3 mindset imperatives are the reasons why the NFL is now in a mess almost entirely of their own making.
And Col. Morris Davis explains the whole mess from Trump’s point of view:

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The screw tightens on the NFL over the Kaepernick and Reid collusion cases

The collusion cases filed by Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid against the NFL are moving through discovery. We have now reached the stage where parts of the testimony are being leaked. For a start, internal team communications show clearly that many teams viewed Colin Kaepernick as a starting quarterback. There is also a cunning trailer of yet more damaging testimony via the classic speculated “mystery witness”.
The leaks, unsurprisingly, are not good for the NFL.
However, they are even worse for President Trump. If correct, the testimony given by Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, shows that Donald Trump was threatening and pressuring the NFL and its teams to get them to change their business practices – in this case, the rules related to the playing of the National Anthem. This is a specific violation of the law, as explained here:

The NFL may be moving towards a point where they have to start seriously considering how to settle the collusion complaints. If the complaints move to a full hearing, even if collusion cannot be proved, the PR damage to the NFL will be immense, especially if (as is likely) all of the testimony is revealed. Worse still, the NFLPA, already under fire internally for not fully supporting the players over the anthem protests, may find itself forced by its members to announce how it will protest the new anthem policy (probably by keeping players in the locker room during the playing of the anthem). There is rumored to be a lot of player anger over the new anthem policy and the blackballing of Kaepernick and Reid. The NFL has over 70% black players, so player anger is a real potential issue. Rival football leagues are also starting operations.

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The NFL’s anthem kneeling controversy escalates

In the beginning…Colin Kaepernick knelt when the National Anthem was played.
Then other players joined him, not only on the 49ers, but players from other teams also joined in.
Then the President of the United States had a hissy-fit and made a lot of noise about the protests, and was joined in the condemnation by lots of people with no understanding of the law, the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, or the Constitution.
Then Colin Kaepernick found himself unable to get a job in the NFL. Eventually he filed a collusion complaint.
Then Eric Reid, who had also kneeled for the anthem, found himself also unable to get a job, and also filed a collusion complaint with the support of the NFLPA.
The blackballing of Reid and Kaepernick (whether this rises to the level of collusion is still to be determined) has pissed off the NFLPA. Remember that 70% of the NFL’s players are African-American.
The NFLPA has now filed two complaints of its own. The complaints are the first time that the NFLPA has become involved in complaints that are broader in scope than one specific player. The players are now beginning to push back collectively in one of the few ways that they can legally do so, via the grievance processes built into the Collective Bargaining Agreement. One thing to realize is that there is an underlying resentment of the current CBA on behalf of the players, who feel that the owners got too large a share of league revenues, and who believe that the Commissioner has abused his powers in the areas of player discipline. (Remember that the owners opted out of the previous CBA, and then took a very tough line in negotiating the current CBA).
The NFL owners, many of whom are used to getting their own way in business, having run privately held businesses for most of their lives, have spent too much time and effort in recent months listening to the President, and not enough time listening to their employees. This may be about to backfire on the NFL.

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Kaepernick vs. the NFL – Part 3

The collusion complaint by Colin Kaepernick against the NFL is slowly shifting into a higher gear, as persons of interest are deposed by Kaepernick’s lawyers.
Yesterday, Bob McNair, the owner of the Houston Texans, gave a deposition in the case in Houston. An interesting aspect of the process was that Colin Kaepernick himself chose to attend the deposition (which he has a right to do). But even more interestingly, Kaepernick chose to work out in a local football facility. He was videoed throwing footballs and participating in a gym workout.
All of this is clearly a carefully calibrated series of actions designed to drive home the message that Colin Kaepernick is not retired, still wants to play in the NFL, and is working to stay fit and sharp for when an opportunity arises. The case, from the viewpoint of Kaepernick and his advisers, is now as much a PR exercise as a legal exercise.
The odds are still stacked against a ruling of collusion; Kaepernick has to prove that multiple owners acted in collaboration to deny him employment, which is a high bar to clear. Unless attorney Mark Geragos and his team can find a “smoking gun” – an item of compelling evidence that teams were collaborating to not sign Kaepernick, the case may fail in the court of arbitration.
However, if the case drags on into the Summer, it risks still being in progress at the start of next season. If, in the meantime, more damaging titbits emerge in the depositions about the racist nature of owner comments, and their seeming willingness to kow-tow to President Trump, from a PR perspective, this will not be good for the NFL. It will cement the image of the NFL as being dominated by owners who are racially tone-deaf and willing sycophants for an unpopular President.
The level of the PR damage may also depend on whether Trump finds himself in progressively deeper troubles himself. The deeper the troubles of the President, the more gullible the Trump-supporting owners will look.
I expect that the collusion case will be a detail topic of conversation at the next NFL owners meeting. I suspect that Roger Goodell will probably be advising the owners in private that they need to seriously think about settling the case before the formal hearing. It will cost the NFL upwards of $75m to do this, but the PR damage may start to exceed that if the case drags on, and more damaging revelations emerge.
As to who pays for the settlement, that is an interesting topic in itself. Teams who clearly were not in the market for a quarterback may resent having to push money across the table as part of a collective settlement effort. They may argue that they should not have to pony up for part of the settlement to assist other teams and owners that should have been a lot more subtle in their private actions and public comments.
The NFL is a strange organization…well, it is, a lot of the time, not an organization at all. It is more like 32 destroyers sailing in close formation, with a commissioner who works for the owners, which makes him only a titular leader.

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Kaepernick vs. the NFL and The First Law Of Holes

In November, Colin Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL alleging collusion.
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, grievances are processed within the NFL according to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This means that a discovery period occurs, where both sides get to review the evidence, and where depositions can be requested and taken under oath from witnesses and interested parties.
We are now entering the deposition period of this grievance. One of the underlying weaknesses of the NFL is beginning to undermine the NFL’s whole defense to the collusion allegations.
What is known in the public eye as “The NFL” is really 32 independent businesses, all of which (with one exception, the Green Bay Packers) are privately owned, usually by a family that controls the majority of the equity in the team. The NFL organization, with Roger Goodell as its commissioner, has very limited authority over the 32 teams, because it really functions as a head office, PR front, and mechanism by which the NFL, under its limited anti-trust exemption (codified in the Sports Broadcasting Act) can negotiate broadcasting and other league-wide contracts.
Roger Goodell is employed by and is subordinate to the NFL owners. As one might expect from a collection of businesspeople who own private businesses and have (mostly) total control, the team owners are a feisty bunch of sometimes-cranky folks who mostly intensely dislike being told what to do by ANYBODY. They are also, with one exception, elderly white guys.
Because Goodell has no ability to tell owners what they can and cannot say in public on any subject, the NFL is now slowly, but inexorably, digging itself into a hole over the Colin Kaepernick collusion complaint. Any lawyer with a functioning brain would gather all defendants and persons of interest in a case like this into a room and the first piece of advice would be “stop talking in public about this case or any subject related to this case NOW”. Roger Goodell may have already told the owners this, but his words do not seem to be getting through. Via their own public comments, and a slow but growing number of leaks of information (possibly from Kaepernick’s team), the NFL is being backed into a cross between a corner and a hole over the collusion complaint. In the last 2 weeks the following information has become public:
– Steven Ross, the owner of the Miami Dolphins, apparently announced that he would require all Dolphins players to stand for the National Anthem (despite the reality that he cannot legally do that), only to walk that statement back publicly a few days later
– At least 2 NFL player agents reported that the Houston Texans are “not interested” in signing any player who has protested during the playing of the National Anthem
– John Harbaugh, the coach of the Baltimore Ravens, was apparently advised by a military officer that signing Colin Kaepernick was not in like with the core values of the NFL

None of these actions (and two of them are rumors, not fact) prove that collusion occurred. However, they are slowly placing the NFL in a situation where, even if they win the collusion grievance against Colin Kaepernick, they will emerge having lost in the court of public opinion. The picture that is emerging from the unguarded public comments of owners, and rumors and leaks, is not a flattering one. It shows a league whose ownership is determined to squash dissent from the players, and which is more scared of offending hyper-patriots than it is in supporting social justice.
We can be sure that Steven Ross, John Harbaugh, and the two player agents are now on the list of people who will be requested to give depositions. Their names are going to be added to a lengthy existing list which includes Roger Goodell, his wife Jane Goodell (who ran a fake Twitter account on his behalf), Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft, Bob McNair, and Steve Bisciotti.
Kaepernick’s lawyers also want to depose ex-Pappa John’s CEO John Schattner, but that is unlikely to occur since the NFL no longer has a relationship with Pappa John’s (notice how quickly they have been replaced as the NFL Official Pizza supplier?) and Schattner had no direct contractual affiliation with the NFL.
The NFL has emerging challenges that are unavoidable, with viewership steadily declining as more people bail on network and cable television, and its core viewing demographic is ageing.
At the point where the NFL needs a positive relationship with the players, it does not have one. Goodell is widely distrusted by the players over the bruising negotiations at the time of the last Collective Bargaining Agreement, and his approach to player discipline which is seen as capricious and arbitrary.
These are challenges that will be difficult to overcome, and the drip-drip of negative news about the Colin Kaepernick case is making matters worse. If the NFL does not have a plan to settle the grievance in advance of a hearing, it needs one, and fast. Winning the hearing will be a loss if the public perception is that Kaepernick was railroaded out of the NFL.

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The F1 engine life fiasco for 2018 and beyond

The FIA and LibertyF1 are digging themselves into a hole over their attempts to reduce F1 powerplant development and running costs.
The current generation of F1 powerplants are extremely complex, comprising 6 component sets:
Internal Combustion Engine (ICE)
Motor Generator Unit – Heat (MGU-H)
Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic (MGU-K)
Turbocharger (TC)
Energy Store (ES)
Control Electronics (CE)

Over the last several seasons, the FIA has been reducing the allowed number of sets that any powerplant supplier can use in a season without penalty. In the 2017 season, powerplant suppliers were allowed to use four of each of the six components during the course of a season without incurring penalties. If any car used more than 4 of each component type, penalties were imposed.
Meeting the reliability and life requirements for the component sets proved challenging in 2017 for powerplant suppliers. Honda, in particular, essentially debugged and tested their entire new-specification powerplant in public, chewing through 11 MGU-H units, 9 ICEs…the penalties were enormous. Renault also had numerous reliability issues, especially towards the end of the season when they seemed to deliberately run down their stock of spare components, which led to a public row with Toro Rosso, who at one point suggested that Renault was deliberately supplying them with end-of-life components in order to make it possible for the Renault works team to leapfrog them in the Constructors championship and gain more revenues from the F1 prize pool.
The practical target mileage for an entire powerplant package in 2018 is to be able to run for 7 race weekends – 3 free practice sessions, qualifying (which uses higher-power modes and is harder on the powerplant) and the race. This is reckoned to be around 750kms at nearly all race weekends. That is around 5300 kms for 7 races.
As a comparison, the Porsche 919 that won last year’s Le Man 24 Hours race travelled a total distance of 5000 kms in the race…
So…the ask for F1 powerplants is now for them to be as long-lived and reliable as a Le Mans LMP1 powerplant. Requiring that a 2-hour race powerplant be as reliable as a 24 hours endurance powerplant seems to be a mismatch of expectations vs. function.
Mario Ilien, who should know a wee bit about F1 engine and powerplant design and support, said this in July 2017:

…Next year, having three engines is more expensive than producing four engines.
All the new parts you are developing have to go through testing on the dyno, to make sure you have achieved the mileage for three engines a year. And that is expensive.
I think even four is not enough. We’re half way through this season, and half the field has got a problem.

Well, today, Cyril Abetiboul of Renault effectively admitted that Renault may actually formulate a powerplant usage strategy for its works team based on accepting that they cannot survive on only 3 sets of powerplant components. He appeared to be hinting strongly that Renault may decide to use more than 3 sets of components, and work out how to accept the penalties at the most advantageous points in the season. This is a pretty strong indication that at least one powerplant supplier is not prepared to stick to the 3 component set limit if it feels that exceeding it will allow it to provide a more powerful powerplant package.

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Professional negligence in the NFL

I am not watching any NFL games right now. I think you know why. At least, I already told you.
However, I can read numbers, and my Twitter feed is alive.
The numbers and Twitter told me that Nathan Peterman, promoted to the starting quarterback position today for the Buffalo Bills to replace Tyrod Taylor, who, in the age-old jargon of pro football, was benched, came into the game at the start today against the San Diego Chargers and proceeded to throw 5 interceptions in the first half. Whereupon, he was removed from the game, and Tyrod Taylor, the man he replaced, was re-instated as the quarterback.
The Bills were down 40-7 at halftime when Peterman was replaced. They ultimately lost the game 54-24.
In other words, with Peterman under center, the Bills were outscored by 33 points. With Tyrod Taylor under center, the Bills gained back 17 points on offense, but gave up another 14 on defense.
Peterman was a good college quarterback not playing on a title-winning team. The Bills had drafted him in the 5th Round this year, and he had won the number 2 spot on the quarterback chart in the pre-season. So, with the Bills seemingly no longer convinced that they could win with Tyrod Taylor, he was The Man when they decided to bench Taylor.
Now, I keep reading all of the time these days that the NFL is nothing like college on offense. Most college teams do not run NFL-style offenses any more, relying heavily on read-option-based offensive schemes that require limited check-downs by mobile quarterbacks. The lament I read is that many college quarterbacks are nowhere near ready to run an NFL-style offense out of college. This implies that many rookie quarterbacks are essentially “project” players, not expected to play for at least 2 seasons.
Peterman’s scouting reports out of college reveal a smart, fairly accurate passer, but one lacking the deep-throw arm strength prized by many NFL coaching teams.
So, I wonder: just what the hell were the Bills doing throwing a 5th round draft pick with limited pre-season game experience and only mop-up regular series experience into a game at a crucial point in the season, with the Bills’s season finely poised at 5-4?
What possible improvement could he provide over Tyrod Taylor?
He does not have a cannon for an arm, so the idea that the Bills could suddenly become a vertical passing team makes no sense. That is before you even look at the Bills’ receiving corps, which does not scream “deep threat”. In fact, it doesn’t even scream “receiving threat”. The Bills do not have a single top-drawer receiver, and their best current receiver, Jordan Matthews, was inactive for today’s game. So Peterman did not exactly have much in the way of likely downfield targets. He can scramble, but lacks the fleet-footed elusiveness of Taylor, who has excelled in the past at escaping from seemingly hopeless broken-play situations and making something happen, usually with his legs.
At this point some bright spark will say “but…Tom Brady!”.
OK Weisenheimer, let’s look at Tom Brady.
Brady was drafted in the 6th round out of Michigan. He was the number 3 quarterback for all of his first season, mostly inactive on game days. In his second season, he moved up to the number 2 spot on the quarterback chart. He was then promoted early to starter after Drew Bledsoe suffered a serious chest injury.
At the time of his promotion, Brady had already been in the Patriots’ system for over a season, and had played in 2 seasons’ worth of pre-season games. By any objective standards, he was far more experienced in the NFL than Peterman was when he ran out on the field today. As history shows, Brady was ready and able to assume the quarterback role for the Patriots at the time of his promotion. As today shows, Peterman was not.
But this is not just about Peterman.
It’s also about the team. Peterman was not expected to be the starter, so he had limited work with the first-team offense in the pre-season, and he and the team had 1 week to prepare for the game. Peterman is a fundamentally different player to Taylor – he is basically a pocket passer with some scrambling ability. Taylor is a scrambler first and foremost, and his pocket skills and check-down abilities are said to be weak, which is probably part of the reason that he was benched.
Most importantly, this decision is about leadership.
Bad leadership.
The decision to insert Nathan Peterman today was professionally negligent. If it was mid-December, with the Bills at 4-9 or similar and already eliminated from the playoffs, the decision would have made a lot of sense. With Taylor on an option year for his contract, it would be time to play the rookie and see what he can bring to the team. But, for crying out loud, the Bills were at 5-4, and still very much in the hunt for a playoff slot. Playing Peterman has resulted in a blowout loss, which leaves the Bills at 5-5, and in a much weaker playoff position.
Now…I can think of a reason why the decision was made to start Peterman today. The head coach for the San Diego Chargers, Anthony Lynn, had been the offensive co-ordinator for the Buffalo Bills the previous season, and the coaches may have decided that Lynn, experienced in the play and behavior of Tyrod Taylor, would create a game plan for the Chargers to disrupt a Taylor-led offense.
While this is all logical, swapping quarterbacks at the last minute only works if the team and the new quarterback are prepared to execute a different sort of game plan. As we saw today, that was not the case.
The decision and resulting loss has left the quarterbacks in a bad place. Taylor was benched last week, a signal (probably already received) that he has no real future in Buffalo. Peterman was thrown into the fire, and has been severely singed, with 5 interceptions in 30 minutes of play ringing in his brain. That will shake any quarterback, especially a rookie.
But the bigger negative message will have made its way to the team. By benching an established starter and experimenting with an unproven rookie, the Bills leadership has essentially told the team that they are quite prepared to throw away the season. That is a horrible message to send. It may actually cause the team to quit on the coaching staff.
No matter which way you analyze the decision to play Nathan Peterman, it was a terrible decision. The only saving grace is that the coaches realized that they had made a big mistake and re-inserted Tyrod Taylor for the second half, but with a leaky defense, and a second-rate offense, even Superman would have struggled to bring the Bills back from a 40-7 hole.
It would not surprise me if one or more heads roll in Buffalo next week. There was no saving grace, no visible upside from today’s events. There is nothing that the coaching staff can point to that was obviously good. They might argue from game tape that Peterman did X better than Taylor, but 54-24 as a box score will blow any of that pretty-pretty analysis to hell and back. If Twitter is any indication of fan reaction, the Bills fans were furious with the outcome, and they blame the coaching staff. Something may have to change.

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Hell hath no fury like a quarterback scorned

Today’s news gets more and more interesting, or more and more worrying if you are running PR for the NFL.
Hot on the heels that the Houston Texans went out and signed two quarterbacks today to replace DeShaun Watson, neither of whom is named Colin Kaepernick, comes the news that the legal team acting for Kaepernick in his case against the NFL has officially asked that several NFL owners, including Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft, and Bob McNair, be deposed. Additionally, other teams are being asked to turn over all communications that might be related to Colin Kaepernick, including emails and mobile phone records.
Now, I have one question for you all: what are the chances that a voluble self-promoter like Jerry Jones, who cannot publicly keep quiet about the anthem protest, and who is now busy claiming that Pappa Johns’ founder John Schattner is a “fine American”, kept quiet privately about Colin Kaepernick?
I assess those chances as somewhere between diddly and squat. Ditto Bob McNair, whose “inmates running the prison” comment maybe revealed a lot more about his underlying attitude to players than he intended or wanted to reveal. Robert Kraft was probably a lot more careful. He is usually very measured in all of his public pronouncements, and, by all accounts, has been a key figure behind the scenes in mediating disputes between owners and between the NFL and the players. But Jerry Jones? No. Jones cannot stop yapping in public, so I regard it as highly likely that he has said some things in private that Kaepernick’s legal team would love to read and/or hear. That is, if they can be included in discovery.

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And the circumstantial collusion evidence pile keeps growing…

With the expiry of the trade period in the NFL, any team needing a quarterback can only sign a free agent.
Yesterday, the Indianapolis Colts officially owned up to something that was becoming rather obvious – that Andrew Luck will not play this season. He underwent major shoulder surgery in the off-season and has not recovered enough to even practice properly. The Colts had already traded for Jacoby Brissett from the Patriots to be their starting quarterback for the season, so this does not impact any free agent moves.
Meanwhile, down in Houston, DeShaun Watson, the new starting quarterback for the Houston Texans, ruptured his ACL in practice yesterday and will miss the rest of the season. The Texans have Tom Savage as a backup, who was benched after 1 game for Watson. Watson is a running quarterback whose playing style is close to that of a free agent quarterback named Colin Kaepernick. However, at time of writing, the Texans appear to be about to sign another free agent not named Kaepernick.
These kinds of decisions by NFL teams are simply adding to the pile of circumstantial evidence that will be pointed to by Kaepernick’s legal team as evidence of collusion. There still needs to be a “smoking gun” uncovered in discovery for a ruling of collusion to be possible, but even if the arbitrator rules against Kaepernick, the overall impression of a sports league bent on punishing a player engaging in peaceful protest is likely to be difficult to ignore.

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