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  1. #1
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    Teammates suffer while Pace -- with nothing to gain -- sits out

    Teammates suffer while Pace -- with nothing to gain -- sits out
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    Wednesday, Aug. 25 2004

    We all understand the NFL is a business, and a nasty one at that.

    The franchises are enormously profitable. Franchise values escalate yearly. The folks that own these franchises are very, very rich.

    Nobody should begrudge players for getting whatever they can out of the game, for as long as they can physically last.

    But there comes a point when a football player has to become a teammate, too, and consider the needs of the men he will line up with when the real games

    Orlando Pace is well past that point with the Rams. By refusing to report to training camp, he literally put his fellow Male Sheep in harm's way the past two weeks.

    Therefore, O.P. has become a terrible teammate.

    In his absence, tackle Grant Williams has played with an ankle injury because the Rams need experienced offensive linemen to play preseason games. He has played in pain, risking further injury.

    In Pace's absence, Adam Timmerman has played with a shoulder injury for the same reason. Chris Dishman has rushed back into the fray, still huffing and puffing, after his un-retirement.

    And Pace? He stayed out of camp, despite having nothing to gain by refusing to sign his franchise tag tender.

    Nobody should begrudge players who put themselves first, since the NFL quickly discards athletes once they lose value. But a player who puts himself THAT far ahead of his team . . . well, you have to wonder how he will ever move forward with the group.

    The Rams can't negotiate a long-term contract with Pace until he signs that tender and reports to work. The longer he waits to sign the tender, the less likely a deal can be struck before the season.

    Obviously the Pace Camp is frustrated by this whole "franchise player" designation, a piece of the collective bargaining agreement that inevitably creates hard feelings.

    Getting tagged year after year would aggravate any player eager to bank the staggering signing bonus that would come with a new long-term deal.

    Then again, a player can't expect to get a long-term deal from a competitive deal while making outrageous demands. A player can't expect to reach a long-term agreement unless his agents -- in this case the Poston brothers -- fit those requests within the salary cap framework of the team.

    Pace expressed some willingness to do just that during the spring, but then went back into hiding while his representatives held firm.

    The Rams have done a marvelous job managing their salary cap. Jay Zygmunt is a master at it. His creativity has allowed the Rams to keep many top players while remaining competitive year after year after year.

    It's a daunting task, but Zygmunt has done it while keeping Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Marc Bulger and other mainstays in the fold.

    The Rams aren't being cheap. The Rams are trying to maintain the best talent nucleus possible within the rules. If Pace wants to remain a Ram -- and that seems to be a big "if" these days -- then he and his people will ultimately have to work with Zygmunt.

    Why are they putting it off -- especially when Pace has so little to gain and his teammates have so much to lose?

  2. #2
    general counsel Guest

    Re: Teammates suffer while Pace -- with nothing to gain -- sits out

    He may hate the franchise tag, but i think that he hates sweating his ass off in macomb even more. Remember, he is getting paid at the top of his position and if he takes the cash up front, his base will drop materially.

    general counsel

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