FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020 file photo, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott drops back to pass in the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in Arlington, Texas. Applying franchise and even transition tags to players can have major ramifications on a team's present and future. That was never more of a consideration than this year, with the salary cap decreasing by, for now, $18 million. That's the first time the cap has gone down, which is due to lost revenues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins, File)

NFL power poll

The NFL's power is in its appeal. And that appeal manifests in a slew of directions, positively and negatively.

With that thought clear and upfront, my original plan was to review the five recent headlines and what they mean for the Shield in terms of public perception, either clear or undercover.

There are several, and some are even complex.

First, the NFL salary cap concerns have them pushing the franchise tag deadline back. Second, the interest in Thursday night football is fading as Fox is not overly eager to renew at north of $1 billion and I think ESPN is going to eventually try to corner the college football market and will let its live NFL properties, including Monday Night Football fade.

Also, while not anywhere close to the rest of the sports on TV during the pandemic, the NFL numbers in 2020-21 were down significantly, reaching double digits in some portals and the Super Bowl was the least watched since 2007.

But then news of the Dallas Cowboys breaking their piggy bank for Dak Prescott and, considering the deep pockets and the high ambitions of all owners — especially the one in Big D — is there really too much cause for too much concern about the looming salary cap decision or need for the hand-wringing about a single dip in revenues because of the pandemic? Hard to peddle both sides of that story, no?

So here's a list of the five items of the Dak Prescott deal that interest me. Like Bubbles on the main stage, let's get to the poll.  

First, Dak Prescott is getting a monster contract. The numbers are staggering. Like in year one of the deal, with signing bonus and salary, Prescott will make $75 million — and that's not counting whatever stimulus check Biden has coming next. The total of the deal is $160 million; Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys for $140 in 1989 friends.

Second, comes the open-ended 'What if' question for Prescott, as in "What if he didn't get hurt?" Prescott has put up very good, if not great numbers as the Cowboys trigger man. But those numbers come with a slew of caveats: It's a passing league, he played behind one of the best — if not the best O-line — and his weapons have been among the top third in the league.

Simply put, the Cowboys' ineptitude after Dak got hurt was the best bargaining chip Dak could ever ask for. While a smart negotiator would have leveraged the injuries to Andy Dalton and several defensive starters in terms of the team's struggles — never mind the complete incompetence of the front office and coach Mike McCarthy (man, Melissa McCarthy would have done a better job) — simply put, Dak not playing did way more for his profile than anything he did playing. And that just seems like a faulty starting point, no?    

But even with Dak's big stats — in a pass-heavy league remember — are not Ws and stats certainly are not winning big. Which leads us to the question that has to be center to all of this:

Third, can any team win a Super Bowl with a good QB earning elite QB money? It's an important question, because Dak just got more than elite QB money. He got Super Bowl-champion QB money. Only Patrick Mahomes makes more. In fact, let's explore this for a second.

Going back and crunching numbers from a slew of sites, here are the last 10 Super Bowl champ QBs and the percentage of the salary cap they consumed:

2020 — Tom Brady (15.1%)

2019 — Patrick Mahomes (0.3%)

2018 — Brady (12.21%)

2017 — Nick Foles (0.91%)

2016 — Brady (8.62%)

2015 — Peyton Manning (11.66%)

2014 — Brady (10.64%)

2013 — Russell Wilson (0.56%)

2012 — Joe Flacco (6.6%)

2011 — Eli Manning (11.70%)

With the possible exception of Eli, who likely is a Hall of Famers, you have either an all-timer or someone on their rookie deal. And before free agent Brady last month, the highest percentage a champion QB consumed since the conversion to the hard cap was Steve Young in 1994 at 13.1%.

If the talk is right and the cap remains relatively flat at $198.2 million, or even rounded up to $200 million,    

Fourth, this is yet another example of Jerry Jones the GM completely dropping the ball, and if the situation in Dallas was not rife with so much in-family incompetence, Jerry Jones the owner would surely fire Jerry Jones the GM. Not since the family Honey Boo-Boo has a family looked this stupid on a grand scale.

Consider this: Dak got $40 million per when about a year ago, he was asking for $32 million a year. Dak got a short-term deal by comparison that, with the no-trade clause and the no-tag clause, makes it almost all guaranteed. Over the the first four years of their respective deals, Dak will make $56.4 million than Patrick Mahomes and $35.5 million more than Aaron Rodgers. Over the next four years by comparison, Dak will make $29.3 million than Mahomes' current deal (and no matter how much Dak love is spewing from the Mothership right now, not even the biggest Dak apologist will say he's better than Patty Mahomes). Plus, at only four years, Dak will have another free agent phase before he's 30. (And that free agency phase will come at a time when the cap is back on a steep incline of increase.)

Finally, is the simple fact that after today, the ESPN morning gabfests are going to have to replace what has been an evergreen storyline — "Should Dak leave; Should Dallas sign Dak longterm" — for the past three months.

How about this one, with the above evidence: Would Dallas have a better chance over the next four years of winning a Super Bowl with Dak Prescott as the highest-paid QB in the league of any of the non-Trevor Lawrence rookies in this draft class on their first contract and all the free agent pieces they could add?


Papa, I'm gonna preach

Papa John, the dude who built the pizza chain and loved some U of Louisville sports, was trending Monday on social media after he said he has spent 20 months trying to eliminate the N-word from his vocabulary.

Dude. DUDE! Twenty bleepin' months? Are you kidding with this? To quit saying the N-word? Wow.

Side story: I started dipping Copenhagen in high school. Hey being a high school pitcher on a team with a coach who thinks he's Sparky Anderson and pitchers shouldn't hit makes watching high school baseball a tad dull.

Side note on the side story: Any high school coach who thinks pitchers at that age should not hit is either a) catering to bellyaching parents about more kids getting playing time of b) too clever by half. Pitchers at every level until college — and even into college — are normally the best players on every team they've ever played on. At least they were 30-plus years ago.

Anywell, I dipped from the age of 16 to about 10 years ago because my now 13-year-old was becoming old enough to ask questions. And truth of the matter, I didn't want him to a) ask what is that crud in your mouth, and b) not be able to tell him to avoid nicotine as I reach for a spit cup and swing by the BP to spend $5 on a can of snuff.   

Now for the link to Papa Racist and my former nicotine habit, well, I quit cold turkey one weekend before high school football season started. It was a tough few days and I have not had a dip since.

I miss it sometimes. High school football games. Long car rides. After that second CoCola. But I don't miss it more than I appreciate what that freedom has allowed me.

So, in three days I kicked Copenhagen. But Papa John can't quit using racist language in more than a year and a half?

Uh, Papa, your vocabulary is not the problem. Your hate-filled heart and racist ways are the problem.


Speaking of offensive

OK, so the upcoming reboot of Space Jam from the LeBron media conglomerate has made a stance.

Pepé Le Pew has been cancelled. Yep, the Looney Tunes skunk who runs around and chases the fairer sex, is gone. Side question for Jules especially: Is the phrase 'fairer sex' offensive? Seriously. Asking for a few hundred million dudes.

OK, so the hubbub recently from a New York Times columnist — yeah, guess whether he's conservative or liberal — named Charles Blow included Blow writing that Pepé's female skunk chasing ways "normalized rape culture." Seriously. In truth, according to the linked story above, Pepé was removed before Blow's cartoon shaming.

(Side note: While I maintain that LeBron is > MJ as a player, there simply is no way that Space Jam now will be > Space Jam then right? Right?)

Apparently, Pepé was pulled because his main scene included some back and forth with a female that eventually led to LeBron telling Pepé he is not allowed to grab women without their consent and even reference to a restraining order.


Blow wrote that this "helped teach boys that 'no' didn't mean really mean no." I hope those that were truly 'taught' by Pepé did not learn maintenance from the Roadrunner.

Oh, where to begin here.

First, in the practical. If parents are blaming their kids shortcomings on cartoons, well, then they shouldn't have had kids to begin with. Be better parents.

Second, this is a disservice to the female victims, to try to point blame or even parts of blame of one of the worst acts in our society on a cartoon skunk is laughable in a real-life heinous act that is tragic. There is real evil in the world, friends, and pointing out that evil rather than explaining it away is a necessary step.

Third, at some point we're going to have to realize that washing away any and all items that do not meet any and all checklists because of the social media morality mob is a disservice. What about the teaching moment that Pepe's inappropriate actions may bring?

Because if Pepe's on the list, then the entire Looney Tunes catalog needs to be examined:

Speedy Gonzalez' days are numbered, right?

Does Sylvester's lisp offend kids with speech impediments? What about Porky's stutter? Or Elmer Fudd's

They came and got Elmer Fudd's shotgun and Yoesmite Sam's pistols, so check them off. But Elmer is still allowed to hunt with a scythe, so there's that.

And then let's get into the cartoon violence. Are you telling me that Pepe chasing a female skunk trying to kiss her is more long-term dangerous and detrimental to the development of kids that normalizing playing with TNT — hi, Mr. Wile E. Coyote — is fine and that nothing from falling off buildings and cliffs to bombs and explosive blowing up in your face have no consequences and using an umbrella is an acceptable parachute.

Heck, I've even seen some places that claim Bugs Bunny is a racist. Seriously.

They are CARTOONS people. That's the point right, to suspend belief between a real-life situation and a cartoon one?

What was I thinking? Ban them all. Well all of them but Foghorn Leghorn. That is a caricature mocking Southern folks, and we all know that's not offensive to anyone.

Ask the Beverly Hillbillies.  


This and that

— You know the rules. Here's TFP college football master craftsman David Paschall on how Josh Heupel's defensive staff has more than a little SEC experience.

— Here's today's A2 about the Royal rumble that Meghan and Harry started with Oprah over the weekend. The headline this morning on a story about the interview read "How the world reacted to the bombshell claims." Bombshell? Really?

— That's it for Les Miles in Kansas. Yeah, that's it for Les in terms of coaching too.

— Holy buckets this is a great — GERR-rate — hockey fight.
— Had some discussion Monday about the Biden Handout/Rescue Bill, which Chas said that even moderates will credit with jumpstarting the economy. Well, those crazy, anything-but-conservative, researchers at Harvard say that an overwhelming amount of this next round of stimulus will not even reach the economy. According to the story linked, here's the breakdown of the percentages of the stimulus check Americans will save rather than spend: Households making > $78K will save 93%; the middle third of family income with save anywhere from 77-85%; Lowest third of family income will save 79%. (Of course there also are economists out there agreeing saying Biden's number was too high, and not because of the ever-growing federal debt. There is economic theory that what the quick injection of spending is, it will be a facade that stokes inflation and could very well raise interest rates , which would likely derail long-term recovery.)

— Count me in on the Yellowstone spin-offs. Side note: Season 4 of Yellowstone — the Paramount production that stars Kevin Costner as a Montana land-owner/rancher and his family's efforts to keep that land — hits the air this summer. We will discuss it regularly here. You have time to get caught up, and trust me: It's worth your time to get caught up.

— So the report from the University of Texas says there is no racist intent in the school song "The Eyes of Texas." But it also was revealed this today that students nor band members will be required to sing it. Why the two orders Col. Jessup? Because, if this, from the story, is to be believed "A 24-person panel charged with studying the song's origins, lyrics and history determined it was rooted in a message of accountability and striving toward excellence," then why not encourage everyone to sing it?


Today's questions

True or false, it's Tuesday.

True or false, that the cancel folks came after Pepe le Peaux before Curious George surprised you.

True or false, Meghan's claims should be classified as a 'bombshell' in these over-sensitive times.

True or false, we live in crazy times.

True or false, Dallas will never win a Super Bowl with Dak as its QB.

As for today, March 9, let's review.
Today is Barbie's birthday. She debuted on this day in 1959.

Rushmore of 'dolls' and be creative.

Go and enjoy the day.