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LSU quarterback Joe Burrow passes against Clemson during the second half of a NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Labor issues

The NFL players union and the owners will meet today and try to iron out their differences in the ongoing discussions about a new collective bargaining agreement.

There are a lot of details to this, including this interesting angle from The Athletic, which details that one of the reasons the NFL wants to move as quickly as possible on this deal is to negotiate with TV networks — for a new contract for that 17th regular-season game and the extra playoff games — while the economy is booming. How Monday's 1,031-point drop in the Dow because of fears of the coronavirus — never mind the possibility of electing a socialist in November — affects today's talks will remain to be seen.

We know that the owners are looking for a 17-game regular-season schedule and an extra playoff team for each conference — which means two extra postseason games on the wildcard weekend. That will be worth billions in TV rights and millions more for owners in tickets and such.

What are the owners offering? Good question.

Here are some of the details I have gathered from Adam Schefter and others in recent days.

There are a lot of details — here's a pretty good list from NFL.com — but the clear divide here is money.

The details led Emanuel Acho to say on "Golic or Wingo" this morning that he could see the players strike, which Trey Wingo rightly pressed him on.
For the players to strike, that would mean a walkout sometime before the 2020 season is completed, since the owners would almost assuredly lock the players out before the 2021 season starts.

In a lot of ways, the most important thing happening at the combine today has nothing to do with a 40-yard dash but with a decade of labor peace and a ton of cash.

 

Underwear Olympics

OK, that's the less-than-flattering nickname for the hubbub in Indianapolis, where the college stars of last year are hoping to impress at least one team enough to get a chance to be an NFL star of tomorrow.

To be clear and upfront — I love the draft; you know this. I am bigger on the combine than most folks. Those facts are certainly linked.

But for the folks that poo-poo the combine, I get it. How often does someone run 40 straight yards, especially if your number is between 50-79?

Points are not put on any scoreboard because your team can bench 225 pounds the most times.

And the broad jump? Whatever.

But here are a couple of things that the combine offers whether you are in your underwear or your Sunday best:

First, this is a chance to see how serious a player is about his craft. This is a very public, very detailed job interview, and if a player does not approach it with that level of seriousness and preparedness, well, that would be a monster red flag for me.

Forget Joe Burrow's hand size and the potential fumble for a second. If he showed up and was rude to assistants or out of shape (and clearly unprepared), those would be clear trouble signs. (That said, Burrow's 9-inch hands was the talk of Monday. You know who else had small hands? Jameis Winston. Know who led the NFL in fumbles lost last year? Jameis Winston. Hmmmmmm. The other side of that: Patrick Mahomes had 9 1/4-inch hands, and things appear to be working out just fine for him in K.C.)

Second, and this one would be a complete deal breaker for me if I ran an NFL team, if a player fails a drug test, knowing a) exactly when the combine is for months, and b) that there will be a drug test for everyone.

The rest of these underwear Olympics can be details that help shape a player's narrative for a team, but should never be used as the primary reason a team covets a player, especially in the first two days.

For example, teams have been consistently burned by falling in love with the electric-speed guys. Sure, no one wants a wideout running a 5.2 40 — Emmitt Smith ran what was viewed as a disastrous 4.68 40 and things worked pretty good for him — but the fascination with speed has left teams holding the bag more than grabbing the brass ring.

John Ross (4.22), Chris Johnson (4.24), Dri Archer (4.26), Marquise Goodwin (4.27), Jacoby Ford (4.28), Jaylen Myrick (4.28), J.J. Nelson (4.28), Demarcus Van Dyke (4.28), Zedrick Woods (4.29), Jamel Dean (4.30), Yamon Figurs (4.30), Darrius Heyward-Bey (4.30), and Tye Hill (4.30) are the only dudes who have run an official time of 4.30 or faster. There is exactly one All-Pro season combined from that group, and that was when Chris Johnson went for 2,000-plus for the Titans.

So take the numbers with a pound of salt for sure. But the process still has purpose.

One more combine tidbit, if we may. Our good buddies at SportsBettingDime.com have posted a slew of prop bets for this week's Underwear Olympics, which officially means that the good folks at SportsBettingDime.com are more than happy for us to bet on absolutely everything.

Favorites to have the fastest 40 time: Henry Ruggs (4-to-1), KJ Hamler (7-to-1) and Noah Igbinoghene (9-to-1).

Fastest 40 time: Over/under 4.27.5.

Bench press reps: Over/under 36.5

Odds for the "Lamar Jackson Award" as the fastest QB: Jalen Hurts (1-to-3), Steven Montez (7-to-1) and Jordan Love (14-to-1). Tua is at 25-to-1 and the field is 50-to-1.

Odds to be the player who makes the biggest job in Daniel Jeremiah's top 50 on NFL.com after the combine: K'Lavon Chaisson (9-to-1), Kristian Fulton (10-to-1), KJ Hamler (14-to-1), Trevon Diggs and Michael Pittman (15-to-1). Jacob Eason is at 18 to-1 and Jake Fromm is at 20-to-1.

 

A final goodbye

Around these parts we've discussed the avalanche of sympathy and emotion — real and self-involved — that has come from Kobe Bryant's death in a helicopter crash that killed the former NBA great and eight others including his daughter Gianna.

Monday — on 2/24, which paired GiGi's number 2 and Kobe's famous 24 — thousands in the Staples Center and countless more around the world celebrated both the lives of the basketball Bryants.

Even the most cynical among us had to be touched if only for the most basic of human reasons — the loss of family is gut-wrenching.

Vanessa Bryant spoke of not being able to experience the lifetime moments with her daughter and husband. Weddings. Proms. Graduations. Kids. Life questions. All of it — all of the magical things that make the lifetime scrapbook and that far too many of us take for granted in real time.

The realization of what will be missed is the underlying pain of true loss.

And Monday, the Bryants' pain was real. That was my first takeaway

Regardless of how many A-listers from entertainment and sports — and make no mistake, this was a who's who like the Oscars — that basic emotion resonated for me. And beyond Kobe's impact as a basketball legend or what happened in Colorado in 2003 and how in changed him for the better, for a lot of us that connection about a father dying with the instant realization that his teenage daughter was never going to get those life experiences — nor he with her — and there was nothing he could do to prevent it was and remains heartbreaking.

Again, no matter how great Michael Jordan was — and he was truly amazing, right down to the reference to the MJ crying meme — or how moving the tributes were, the reality and the finality were tangible again Monday.

Hopefully it was helpful for the Bryants and the other families who had their narrative forever changed last month.

This and that

— Speaking of Bryant, Sabrina Ionescu, the Oregon All-American who developed a relation with Kobe and GiGi and spoke at the memorial before playing at Stanford, became the first college basketball player — man or woman and regardless of level or division — to get 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds in her career. She did it on 2/24/20 — which as we mentioned shared the numbers of GiGi (2) and Kobe (24). Ionescu's number? Yep, 20.

— Offered a four-team quick pick at the end of Press Row on Monday, and split. Texas (plus-5.5) beat West Virginia outright and Kansas (minus-15.5) hammered Oklahoma State by 25. We missed Illinois, which was laying 13 and won by 12, and Louisville, which got drummed by FSU. As we all know 2-2 is not entertaining and we're now 36-27 on the season against the number.

— Well, it had to be something right? Deontay Wilder is saying his pre-fight costume — which weighed in excess of 40 pounds — cost him his legs and cost him the fight against Tyson Fury on Saturday. OK.  

— OK, how about this story? Yes, that is Nas X crashing someone's wedding and dancing to his historic hit "Old Town Road." Where's Billy Ray?

— Here's TFP ace sports columnist Mark Wiedmer saying the Vols could be a top-20 football bunch — and maybe a lot more — this fall. Chas, thoughts?

— You know the rules, TFP college football wizard David Paschall writes about college football, we read and link Paschall on college football. Here's today's item on Scott Cochran leaving Alabama to join Kirby Smart's staff.

— Speaking of Paschall, he also found time to please Chas with a story on UK closing in on its 49th SEC regular-season title. Wow, 49. That's a lot.

— Uh, if spring training is about getting ready for the daily grind of the MLB season, then did anyone get better reps than Jose Altuve? The Houston Cheaters star was booed loudly and hit with a pitch Monday. Yep, that's getting ready for the longhair, huh?

 

Today's questions

True or false. It's Tuesday.

True or false, you'd want Nas X to crash your wedding.

True or false, the NFL will have a work stoppage in the next year.

True or false, you could crack a 5.0 40-yard-dash.

Feel free to answer and then ask.

As for today, Feb. 25, let's review.

Happy Fat Tuesday everybody.

Rushmore of "Fat," and be creative.

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