Wednesday, March 4, 2015

NFL free agency. Wonderful for most teams. Great for business and to generate a buzz among fans. Hope and inspiration. Freedom to play with players and coaches that you want as a player. Joining the rival teams and following your dreams to play for the home team. Is it as great as we make it every year? Let's examine. The last 5 Superbowl's were won XLV Feb. 6, 2011 Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, Texas) Green Bay Packers 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 25 XLVI Feb. 5, 2012 Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis) New York Giants 21, New England Patriots 17 XLVII Feb. 3, 2013 Mercedes-Benz Superdome (New Orleans) Baltimore Ravens 34, San Francisco 49ers 31 XLVIII Feb. 2, 2014 MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.) Seattle Seahawks 43, Denver Broncos 8 XLVIII Feb. 1, 2015 University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.) New England Patriots 28, Seattle Seahawks 24 The big free agent splash signing on these teams were? The Steelers and Seahawks build extremely well through the draft. So do the New England Patriots. Sure they add a key guy here and there. But the core players are drafted.The Ravens drafted Flacco and Ray Rice. They drafted Suggs and all of their premier players. The Superbowl's before that were done mostly in the same fashion. You never heard of the dream team in football. Or yes we did. Self proclaimed dream team with the Eagles and Vince Young. Michael Vick and McCoy. Tell me how that season turned out? The Cowboys were the Dynasty team of the 90's. Through the trade of Hershel Walker and the draft, they went from 1-15, to 3 time Superbowl Champions. They drafted Emmit Smith, Michael Irving, Larry Allen to name a few. All in the Hal of fame. Two of those Superbowl's came at the expense of the 4 time AFC defending Champion Buffalo Bills. Who drafted almost everyone on that Roster with the exception of a few players. The Cowboys were once again truly relevant this season. Tony Romo was signed as an un-drafted player. Dez Bryant, Demarco Murray, and that offensive line were mostly drafted. The Broncos got extremely lucky and signed Peyton Manning. But outside of T.J. Ward Talib and Ware. They drafted that entire starting line up and most of the bench on defense. They signed Welker and Emmanuel Sanders, but drafted every other offensive player with the exception of a few linemen. They have been successful. Why does free agency not work as well as the draft? Let's examine. The problem with the people who are free agents? They have played out the rookie contract and now money has become the number one priority. So they play hard for the new contract. They play so well that the team who signs that player to a big deal expects the same effort and hunger. Only some players live up to those standards. Only some players stay hungry and prove that they are in it for Championship rings and banners. The flip side to that is. Some players play it safe during the playoffs or last few games. Because they don't want to risk getting injured, so they can clean up in free agency. The Denver Broncos have 17 restricted or Un-restricted free agents this off season. Tell me how much effort those guys gave during the playoffs vs. the Colts. Making money and not necessarily winning is the motive. Money can buy talent but not always buy leadership or drive and will power. That is something within you that you keep, on your motivation. The Seattle Seahawks have been on a three year run of dominant football. The team theme is disrespect. Pete Carroll has driven home the point that every team passed them up in the draft and they play with a chip on their shoulders. C.J. Anderson went un-drafted and ware's the number 22, because 22 running backs were drafted and taken ahead of him. He is now the feature running back with Peyton Manning in Denver. Key free agents and roll players can help a team over the hump. What team couldn't use the services of now free agent Suh? But you cannot build your core players and teams with free agency. In baseball people always accused the Yankees of trying to buy Championships with free agents. But the years they were dominating baseball. They used the draft and farm system. Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams, Ramiro Mendoza, Andy Pettit were all true Yankees. A franchise as it's city has a personality. Players take on the personality of the city and franchise and get molded into what coaches want. Creating core players and leaders. A drive to succeed for themselves as well as the franchise and city that adopted them as family. Creating Chapionship atmosphere. The Pittsburgh Steelers have had six coaches in the history of Pittsburgh. No non sense defensive minded, tough guys. Look at the success. The New England Patriots have had Belicheck at the helm for over a decade. Look at the success. The Broncos, and 49ers as well as the Ravens. Draft well and have great leaders in the front office. Look at the success. Look at the teams who take on the personallity of the coach and city. This year Dallas after finally building the correct way. They are competing. If you have bad drafts expect bad results. Ask the 0-16 Lions of a few years ago. They drafted and missed on three straight number one picks at WR during the Matt Millen GM era. The Oakland Raiders were voted the least desired to team to play for by players in 2014. Tell me who they drafted that was a good player over the last 7 seasons? Last season Derek Carr and ILB Mack played tremendous football and now they have a mini buzz going. Free agency is great and brings drama and great story lines. But true champions are built with longevity and time. Look back at all the Superbowl Champions. Free agency played a roll, but the core guys were always already there. Who will your team draft, sign and bring on board?