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Broncos hire former Stanford HC David Shaw to senior personnel position

Broncos hire former Stanford HC David Shaw to senior personnel position

21/06/2024, USA, American Football, NFL, Article # 31825375

The Broncos are bolstering their front office with a long-time college coach.

Denver general manager George Paton hired former Stanford head coach David Shaw to a senior position in the team’s personnel department, the team announced Thursday.

Shaw and the Broncos finalized the position Wednesday after keeping in touch about a potential position for several months this ofseason, a source said.

Shaw, 51, has experience coaching in both college and the NFL. Most recently, he served as Stanford’s head coach from 2011-22 during a 16-year stretch he spent at the school. Before that, Shaw spent time as an assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland Raiders and Baltimore Ravens.

After the Broncos fired coach Nathaniel Hackett late in 2022, Shaw was one of the group of coaches that interviewed for the head coaching job that eventually went to Sean Payton.

Shaw was named the Pac-12 coach of the year four times during his tenure at Stanford and led the Cardinal to three conference championships. He won 10-plus games there in five of his first six years in charge, but resigned in 2022 after back-to-back 3-9 campaigns.

Now, he’s making a bit of a career change and getting into scouting for the Broncos.

The club has now made a pair of high-profile additions to the personnel department this offseason by adding Shaw and vice president of player personnel Cody Rager, a longtime scout in New Orleans while Payton was the coach there.

This story will be updated. 

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https://www.denverpost.com/2024/06/20/broncos-hiring-david-shaw-personnel-executive/
Broncos hire former Stanford HC David Shaw as senior personnel executive in front office

Broncos hire former Stanford HC David Shaw as senior personnel executive in front office

21/06/2024, USA, American Football, NFL, Article # 31825460

The Broncos are bolstering their front office with a long-time college coach.

Denver general manager George Paton hired former Stanford head coach David Shaw to a senior position in the team’s personnel department, the team announced Thursday.

Shaw and the Broncos finalized the position Wednesday after keeping in touch about a potential position for several months this offseason, a source said.

Shaw, 51, has experience coaching in both college and the NFL. Most recently, he served as Stanford’s head coach from 2011-22 during a 16-year stretch he spent at the school. Before that, Shaw spent time as an assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland Raiders and Baltimore Ravens.

After the Broncos fired coach Nathaniel Hackett late in 2022, Shaw was one of the group of coaches that interviewed for the head coaching job that eventually went to Sean Payton.

Shaw interviewed with the Los Angeles Chargers and Tennessee this winter and when those jobs went to other people — another former Stanford coach, Jim Harbaugh, got the Chargers job — he started exploring other ways to get into the NFL in a formal way.

Shaw and Paton were familiar, but Shaw also has connections elsewhere in Denver’s organization. He and Payton were both on Philadelphia’s staff in 1997, Shaw as a quality control coach and Payton as the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach. Plus Shaw’s many years at Stanford connected him with Broncos owners Carrie Walton Penner and Greg Penner, each of whom have degrees from the university, and limited shareholder and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the director of the Hoover Institute at Stanford.

Shaw was named the Pac-12 coach of the year four times during his tenure at Stanford and led the Cardinal to three conference championships. He won 10-plus games there in five of his first six years in charge, but resigned in 2022 after back-to-back 3-9 campaigns.

Now, he’s making a bit of a career change and getting into scouting for the Broncos. Shaw, of course, has extensive experience evaluating both professional and college players. During his 12 years as Stanford’s head coach, Shaw and his staff had six first-round NFL Draft picks and 42 draft selections overall.

The Broncos have now made a pair of high-profile additions to the personnel department this offseason by adding Shaw and vice president of player personnel Cody Rager, a longtime scout in New Orleans while Payton was the coach there.

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https://www.denverpost.com/2024/06/20/broncos-hiring-david-shaw-personnel-executive/
Broncos to sign DE Dondrea Tillman from UFL, source says

Broncos to sign DE Dondrea Tillman from UFL, source says

20/06/2024, USA, American Football, NFL, Article # 31823903

After starring for the Birmingham Stallions in the United Football League, defensive end Dondrea Tillman will sign a three-year, $2.83 million deal with the Broncos, a source told The Denver Post.

The deal will be made official once Tillman passes his physical and gets released from his UFL contract, which is a procedural move.

Tillman will be paid $795,000 in 2024, $960,000 in 2025 and $1.075 million in 2026. His signing bonus of $10,000 is the only guaranteed money.

Tillman, 26, recorded 27 tackles and 3.5 sacks for the Stallions, who defeated the San Antonio Brahmas, 25-0, in the USFL championship game. Tillman had three tackles and a pass break-up, as he helped the Stallions hold San Antonio to 208 total yards.

Before Tillman joined the Stallions, he played Division II football at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he collected 174 tackles, 30 sacks, 10 passes defended and seven forced fumbles in 48 career games.

This offseason, the Broncos have put an emphasis on fortifying their defensive line. They signed Malcolm Roach and Angelo Blackson before trading for John Franklin-Myers during the NFL draft.

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https://www.denverpost.com/2024/06/19/dondrea-tillman-broncos-ufl-signing/
Broncos Mailbag: What is franchise’s plan with Zach Wilson at quarterback?

Broncos Mailbag: What is franchise’s plan with Zach Wilson at quarterback?

19/06/2024, USA, American Football, NFL, Article # 31823211

Denver Post Broncos writer Parker Gabriel posts his Broncos Mailbag periodically during the offseason. Click here to submit a question.

Minicamp was short but did anyone stand out to you out there?

— Victor Perez, Commerce City

Hey Victor, thanks for the question and for getting us going this week. Minicamp was indeed short — two days instead of three and then Sean Payton cut the guys loose a day early. One caveat here: OTAs and minicamp aren’t ideal for evaluating several positions because there’s no live hitting. There’s 11-on-11 work and all that, but it’s not the real thing. So usually this time of year I gravitate toward skill position players.

A couple that come to mind:

• Running back Jaleel McLaughlin looked a little bit bigger and stronger than he did as a rookie. He’s still small — nothing’s going to change that — but he showed explosiveness and burst and looked comfortable.

• Every time reporters were allowed to watch practice — a rookie minicamp day, three OTA days and two mandatory minicamp days — rookie receiver Devaughn Vele did good things. He’s a smooth operator for being new and he’s got a big catch radius. He’ll be a guy who has a chance to make noise in training camp.

• Riley Moss and P.J. Locke both had good summers. Moss will have to earn the starting spot at corner opposite Pat Surtain II but he’s going to get every chance to do so. With Locke, it’s not so much about his play in offseason workouts. You can just tell what the two-year contract and trust from management meant to him. He might have smiled the entire way through the offseason program and he looked locked in, too.

It would have been great to get a longer look at rookie RB Audric Estime before the knee injury. When he walks past us normal sized humans, you wonder how unpleasant it must be to tackle him. He and many others will be interesting to watch come the start of training camp in late July.

In your opinion, which players might be on the bubble for making the Broncos opening day 53-man roster?

— Ed Helinski, Auburn, N.Y.

Yo Ed, good question. Probably a lot. You never quite know who’s really right on the bubble until later in training camp, but I’ll put it like this: Sean Payton mentioned several times over the offseason program that he thinks there’s going to be heavy competition at a bunch of positions during camp.

Part of the translation there: Not very many jobs are locked up. Not many guys are safe just because they’re veterans. Obviously, you can find a bunch. But there could be some surprises, too.

Payton’s historically liked having veteran teams. He’s talking so far this summer like a coach who’s excited about the prospect of being younger. When push comes to shove and you’re picking 53 plus a 16-man practice squad roster, though, will that actually come through? Only time will tell.

Just as a starting point, obviously Jarrett Stidham and Zach Wilson are competing for probably one spot. There are more interior offensive linemen than roster spots available. Special teams work could have a lot to say about who makes it at inside linebacker and after the top four outside ’backers. Same at receiver. And all of that is to say nothing of the hottest camp race of them all between punters Riley Dixon and Trenton Gill. OK, that might be overstating it by a touch. But that could be a real battle, too.

In the way-too-early look into the future, what undrafted rookie do you think will land a spot on the team? I always have a soft spot for local guys and I’m hoping Alec Mock finds a role on the squad. He’s a tackling machine.

— Mike, Denver

Great question, Mike. Obviously we’ve got a long way to go on that front. Last year, remember, four undrafted guys made the roster but only McLaughlin had much of an impact. TE Nate Adkins played sparingly (but could have a stepped-up role in Year 2), OLB Thomas Incoom was mostly a healthy scratch and OT Alex Palczewski spent the year on injured reserve.

Even if four don’t make it this year, odds are at least one will. Maybe it’ll be a guy Denver gave a sizable guarantee to after the draft like running back Blake Watson or tackle Frank Crum. Really, though, that guaranteed money makes those players nearly sure bets for the practice squad more than anything.

One to keep an eye on: Inside linebacker Levelle Bailey out of Fresno State. It’s just a wide open group after Alex Singleton. Drew Sanders will be rehabbing an Achilles tear into October at the earliest and could play on the edge in the future anyway. Jonas Griffith hasn’t played since October 2022 due to foot and knee injuries, Cody Barton was a bargain free agency signing and Justin Strnad is a quality special teams player but played zero defensive snaps in 2023. Opportunity knocks.

Parker, I saw that you dabbled in a few other beats during the offseason. How were they different from the Broncos’ one?

— Mike, Denver

Yeah, good question Mike. It’s interesting getting to pitch in on other beats, especially because it mostly tends to happen during the postseason for the Nuggets and Avalanche. Obviously, access is one of the biggest differences. On a gameday in the NBA, Michael Malone is talking before and after the game. The locker room is open before and after games. It’s a lot different than the NFL just on that front alone.

Then there’s just different rhythms to those sports where games are played much more frequently and mostly at night. You feel like a real NBA beat writer when you start pouring coffee at 6 p.m.

Day-to-day, there are also fewer reporters around those teams than on the Broncos beat, but that difference isn’t quite as pronounced when you’re talking about a Nuggets Game 7 or Avs Game 6. It’s a circus.

Mostly, the goal is just to be helpful and not get in the way.

What’s the plan if Greg Dulcich doesn’t come back 100%? Our depth at tight end doesn’t seem all that great.

— F.P., Fort Collins

At this point, F.P., it’s safer to assume Dulcich will miss more time. It’s just the reality of spending the better part of two seasons hung up by hamstring and foot injuries.

If the talented tight end gets all the way through camp healthy, there will be natural questions about if he’ll hold up in game action. He’s got a lot of hurdles to clear and a lot of boxes to check.

At this point, the plan seems to be to count on Lucas Krull taking a big step forward as a down-the-field receiving threat and for Adam Trautman to be serviceable all around. Obviously it wouldn’t hurt for Adkins to make a jump in his second season or undrafted Thomas Yassmin to surprise.

Those are the only options on the roster at this point. A quick glance of the remaining free agents doesn’t show much production or even very many guys who played a lot of snaps last year. One note that I only even bother bringing up because it’s kind of wild: 39-year-old Jimmy Graham, who obviously has a lot of history with Payton, is maybe or maybe not retired and is training to be part of a team to row 1,000 kilometers across the Arctic Ocean. That’s one way to jump into a post-football life.

Hi Parker, I am just wondering what is the plan with Zach Wilson. We all know that Sean Payton did not pick Bo Nix to be a backup. With all the comments coming out of OTAs it seems that Wilson is not impressing anybody — yet. Is Payton hoping to get Wilson up and going in hopes of trading for a couple of draft picks later? Or does he really expect Wilson to be a backup if he starts to pick up the offense? If he does not impress at all will they cut him and hope to pick him up for the practice squad? I know lots of questions surrounding a guy like Wilson, but he was not picked No. 2 for his cooking skills.

— Del, Lamar

Hey Del, this is a great question and one that gets batted around quite a bit. Regardless of whether Bo Nix wins the job right away or not — I tend to think he will, but Jarrett Stidham’s done a nice job through the offseason program — he’s obviously going to be on the roster. If there were a time to keep three quarterbacks, this could be it for Payton, but he doesn’t usually. And there’s a roster rule change that flew a bit under the radar this spring, too, that has an impact. A practice squad quarterback can now be elevated on gameday as many times as the team wants rather than the max of three for other positions. It’s just another reason for most teams to decide against keeping three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster.

Money could play a role in the race for the second roster spot, but it’s not so overwhelming that it has to be the deciding factor. Wilson’s salary is guaranteed and Denver is on the hook for $2.55 million. That’s also what he counts against the cap whether he makes the roster or not.

And yeah, he goes into camp trailing behind Nix and Stidham to my eye, but he’s also clearly got the most natural throwing ability. Not predicting it’ll happen, but if the offense starts to click for him, he could make up ground in a hurry.

From the start, though, the move to trade for Wilson was interesting because most figured Denver would still take a quarterback later that week in the draft — obviously they did — and it’s the final year of Wilson’s contract. So if he plays well or shows promise in training camp, is he trade bait by the end of August? Or the trade deadline? Or does it perhaps set up to find a mutually beneficial deal beyond 2024 at the end of the season?

Those may not even end up being questions if he’s just a $2.55 million roll of the dice that turns up snake eyes.

One other possibility: Sometimes position battles come down to who a team thinks it can sneak onto the practice squad. Maybe Denver will hit the end of the preseason and think it can get one of them through waivers. The rule change might squeeze active roster spots for quarterbacks around the league even further. Maybe that will play to the Broncos’ benefit in a different way.

Why don’t the Broncos give Zach Wilson No. 3 so fans can continue to wear their Wilson No. 3 jerseys?

— Dave, Golden

Hey Dave, that would have been pretty funny. Not sure what the NFL rules are on that in terms of jersey sales. But the real reason is because kicker Wil Lutz claimed No. 3 after Russell Wilson was released and before Zach Wilson arrived via trade. At some point this year, it’ll be No. 3 for the Broncos trying to win a game in the waning moments. Maybe Week 2 against Pittsburgh. Wouldn’t that be something?

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https://www.denverpost.com/2024/06/19/broncos-mailbag-minicamp-standouts-zach-wilson/
Youth, competition create excitement within Broncos offense: “We have a team full of hungry dogs?

As Sean Payton embarks on his second season as the Broncos head coach, he has felt rejuvenated.

Denver’s offense has been sprinkled with youth, sparking position battles — and not just at quarterback — as players are try to make their mark on a team that’s in the midst of a rebuild.

“I think it’s that challenge of working with a young team,” Payton said. “I think that’s the one thing I notice at least watching. I feel the competition.”

Courtland Sutton didn’t show up to the Broncos’ facility until mandatory minicamp, but for the two days the veteran wide receiver was on the practice field, he felt the same energy.

He said the offense is filled with hungry players who are determined to go on the field each week to prove themselves, which is one reason there’s excitement among the players and coaches about training camp.

Indeed, the battle between rookie Bo Nix, Jarrett Stidham and Zach Wilson for the starting quarterback job will be the highlight of the summer. But the competition at center, wide receiver and running back could be just as heated. The current state of the organization has created opportunity for first- and second-year players to step into meaningful roles this fall.

“You have a lot of guys that are still on their rookie deal, just got drafted or (undrafted) free agents,” Sutton said. “(We have) a team full of hungry dogs.”

Denver’s wide receivers room is filled with young players who have the potential to make an impact. After the Broncos traded wideout Jerry Jeudy to the Cleveland Browns in March, Marvin Mims Jr. has a chance to be a second option in the passing game. Denver also has rookies Troy Franklin and Devaughn Vele, both of whom could command significant playing time, depending on how they perform during training camp and preseason games.

At running back, the one-two punch of Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine might not be guaranteed. The Broncos drafted former Notre Dame standout Audric Estime — who has been sidelined due to a knee procedure — and is viewed by Payton as a first- and second-down running back. Meanwhile, Jaleel McLaughlin and undrafted rookie Blake Watson have spent the offseason program displaying the receiving traits that Payton desires from running backs.

With Greg Dulcich continuing to work his way back from injury, there’s an opportunity for tight end Lucas Krull to show the coaching staff that he can potentially be the pass-catching threat that the Broncos desperately need at the position.

“It felt different this year in a good way,” Payton said of the competition level within the team.

While there might be an emphasis on the Broncos developing their young talent, Sutton said the mid-career veterans have something to prove as well. Wide receiver Tim Patrick, who restructured the final year of his contract, is hoping to show that he can still be a reliable asset in Denver’s wide receivers room despite having back-to-back season-ending injuries — and despite the team drafting Vele, who has similar traits.

Perine and Williams, as well as left tackle Garett Bolles, will be unrestricted free agents in 2025.

“It’s been cool to see the desire and hunger,” Sutton said.

Another part of Denver’s hunger ahead of training camp is the lack of national recognition. The Broncos have two only prime-time games this season, and Sutton said the team has kept a mental note of that.

“You see teams with six to seven prime-time games, and we have two,” Sutton said. “I think that speaks a lot to where the respect level is for us. We will carry that chip on our shoulder.”

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https://www.denverpost.com/2024/06/18/broncos-youth-offense-courtland-sutton/
ILB Alex Singleton in line for leadership role in middle of restocked Broncos defense: “A guy like

The offseason program is a good time for NFL players to build habits.

Or, sometimes, to break them.

Broncos inside linebacker Alex Singleton in recent weeks found himself occasionally still calling out to No. 47 while manning the middle of the Denver defense.

Josey Jewell, though, plays in Carolina now. Thoroughly out of earshot.

“You can ask Jonas and Cody and Justin and those guys I’ve taken reps with that I’ve said, ‘Hey Josey — I mean whoever it is that’s out here,’” Singleton told reporters last week.

For Singleton, the goal this summer is to get to know his new running mates.

For Jonas Griffith, Cody Barton and Justin Strnad among others, the goal is to take a step toward earning that spot.

Singleton, of course, will miss Jewell as a playing partner at inside linebacker and as a friend with whom he spent a huge amount of time at work and away from it. It became clear relatively early in the offseason that Denver intended to let Jewell test the free agency market and the Panthers — led defensively by former Denver defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero — ponied up a three-year, $18.75 million deal that came with a $7 million signing bonus and more than $10 million in guarantees.

“I’m happy for him,” Singleton said. “He got a lot of money. So that’s all you can ask for for your friends.”

Even in 2023, Singleton’s second year with the Broncos, he found himself as the relative newbie in the middle of the Broncos defense. Jewell played next to him. Veterans Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson behind. The central nervous system and communications hub had years’ worth of repetitions together, an on-field familiarity that helped defray the cost of constant churn through coaches, systems and verbiage.

Now Singleton’s got a whole new cast around him, but also the comfort of a rare second season in Vance Joseph’s system. That, he said, counts for a lot.

“It’s incredible. This is my first time in five years,” Singleton said. “The first two years I was in Philly was the only time I had the same defense two years in a row. It is night and day. How comfortable I feel every day coming out here — when it’s a new scheme you’re still learning from square one.”

Head coach Sean Payton said earlier this month that Singleton will likely wear the “green dot” helmet, meaning he’ll be the one to get Joseph’s calls from the sideline and relay them on the field.

Already having a deep understanding of the system allowed him to spend more time this summer focusing on communicating with the new faces next to him.

“There’s a lot more (focus) on not just assuming a guy knows,” Singleton said. “There’s been a lot more talking — ‘Hey, you’re here. Here’s our drops in this situation. I might do this. If this is the blitz, this is what I’m reading on it so if you’re adding off of me or dropping off of me, just know I’m doing this.’ It’s just being more verbal.”

Singleton’s played his way into that kind of leadership role the past two years by being available and productive. He finished 2023 third in the NFL in tackles (177) and he didn’t come off the field for a single defensive snap over the team’s final 14 games. His 1,090 defensive snaps clocked in among the top 10 for linebackers in the NFL and represented 97% of the team’s defensive work for the year.

“He has a way about him,” Payton said. “He likes the process. He’s experienced. He’s arrived here the hard way. To his credit, a guy like him has earned everything he’s got. Definitely, you feel his leadership.”

The Broncos will need it this summer and into the season. They could be breaking in up to five new defensive starters and generally will be younger and less experienced overall at safety and inside linebacker.

“Now I can step up and take a bigger leadership role, not just in our room but in our entire defense,” Singleton said. “Where we’re at age-wise on defense, I have to do that. It’s good. I’m enjoying it so far.”

Broncos/Packers joint practice date: Denver will host Green Bay for a joint practice on Friday, Aug. 16 before the teams’ Aug. 18 preseason game at Empower Field.

Both teams had already confirmed the plans to practice together here, but Green Bay listed the specific date in a Monday news release. That will be among the Broncos training camp practices that are open to the public.

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https://www.denverpost.com/2024/06/17/broncos-alex-singleton-leadership-defense/
Class-action lawsuit against NFL by “Sunday Ticket” subscribers. Here’s what you need to know.

LOS ANGELES — The way the NFL can distribute its package of out-of-market games could be decided in federal court as the result of a class-action lawsuit.

Subscribers to the NFL’s “Sunday Ticket” package are claiming the league broke antitrust laws by selling its package of out-of-market Sunday afternoon games airing on CBS and Fox at what the lawsuit says was an inflated price. The subscribers also claim the league restricted competition by offering “Sunday Ticket” only on a satellite provider.

The NFL maintains it has the right to sell “Sunday Ticket” under its antitrust exemption for broadcasting. The plaintiffs say that only covers over-the-air broadcasts and not pay TV.

The case got underway on June 6 in Los Angeles.

How did this case get to trial?

The lawsuit was originally filed in 2015 by the Mucky Duck sports bar in San Francisco. On June 30, 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell dismissed the lawsuit and ruled for the NFL because she said “Sunday Ticket” did not reduce output of NFL games and that even though DirecTV might have charged inflated prices, that did not “on its own, constitute harm to competition” because it had to negotiate with the NFL to carry the package. Two years later, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over California and eight other states, reinstated the case. On Feb. 7, 2023, U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez ruled the case could proceed as a class action. Gutierrez on Jan. 12 rejected a final attempt by the NFL to dismiss the case.

Who are the plaintiffs?

The class action applies to more than 2.4 million residential subscribers and 48,000 businesses, mostly bars and restaurants, that purchased “NFL Sunday Ticket” from June 17, 2011, to Feb. 7, 2023. Google’s YouTube TV became the “Sunday Ticket” provider last season.

What are the chances of the NFL winning?

The NFL might be the king of American sports and one of the most powerful leagues in the world but it often loses in court, especially in Los Angeles. It was in an LA federal court in 1982 that a jury ruled the league violated antitrust rules by not allowing Al Davis to move the Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles.

This is one of the rare times when a high-profile case where league financial matters would become public has gone to court without the NFL first settling. In 2021, the league settled with St. Louis, St. Louis County and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority for $790 million over the relocation of the Rams to Los Angeles.

Why is the NFL facing long odds?

According to memos presented by attorneys for the plaintiffs, Fox and CBS have always wanted the league to charge premium prices for “Sunday Ticket” so that it doesn’t eat into local ratings — the more subscribers to “Sunday Ticket,” the greater the threat to local audience numbers.

During opening statements, attorney Amanda Bonn showed a 2020 term sheet by Fox Sports demanding the NFL ensure “Sunday Ticket” would be priced above $293.96 per season.

When the “Sunday Ticket” contract was up for bid in 2022, ESPN wanted to offer the package on its streaming service for $70 per season along with offering a team-by-team product, according to an email shown by Bonn. That was rejected by the NFL.

How much could this cost the NFL?

If the NFL is found liable, a jury could award $7 billion in damages, but that number could balloon to $21 billion because antitrust cases can triple damages.

But when would the league have to show the subscribers the money?

Not for awhile, since the NFL would appeal to the 9th Circuit and possibly the Supreme Court after that.

What other ways could “Sunday Ticket” subscribers find lower prices?

The NFL could offer a team-by-team package, something done by Major League Baseball and the NBA for its out-of-market packages, and actively market a weekly package if fans didn’t like games being shown in their area.

Could this impact other sports?

Since all the major leagues offer out-of-market packages, they are keeping an eye on this case since individual teams selling their out-of-market streaming rights, especially in baseball, would further separate the haves from the have nots.

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https://www.denverpost.com/2024/06/17/class-action-lawsuit-against-nfl-by-sunday-ticket-subscribers-heres-what-you-need-to-know/
Here’s what you need to know about the lawsuit against the NFL by ‘Sunday Ticket’ subscribers

LOS ANGELES — The way the NFL can distribute its package of out-of-market games could be decided in federal court as the result of a class-action lawsuit.

Subscribers to the NFL’s “Sunday Ticket” package are claiming the league broke antitrust laws by selling its package of out-of-market Sunday afternoon games airing on CBS and Fox at what the lawsuit says was an inflated price. The subscribers also claim the league restricted competition by offering “Sunday Ticket” only on a satellite provider.

The NFL maintains it has the right to sell “Sunday Ticket” under its antitrust exemption for broadcasting. The plaintiffs say that only covers over-the-air broadcasts and not pay TV.

The case got underway on June 6 in Los Angeles.

How did this case get to trial?

The lawsuit was originally filed in 2015 by the Mucky Duck sports bar in San Francisco. On June 30, 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell dismissed the lawsuit and ruled for the NFL because she said “Sunday Ticket” did not reduce output of NFL games and that even though DirecTV might have charged inflated prices, that did not “on its own, constitute harm to competition” because it had to negotiate with the NFL to carry the package. Two years later, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over California and eight other states, reinstated the case. On Feb. 7, 2023, U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez ruled the case could proceed as a class action. Gutierrez on Jan. 12 rejected a final attempt by the NFL to dismiss the case.

Who are the plaintiffs?

The class action applies to more than 2.4 million residential subscribers and 48,000 businesses, mostly bars and restaurants, that purchased “NFL Sunday Ticket” from June 17, 2011, to Feb. 7, 2023. Google’s YouTube TV became the “Sunday Ticket” provider last season.

What are the chances of the NFL winning?

The NFL might be the king of American sports and one of the most powerful leagues in the world but it often loses in court, especially in Los Angeles. It was in an LA federal court in 1982 that a jury ruled the league violated antitrust rules by not allowing Al Davis to move the Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles.

This is one of the rare times when a high-profile case where league financial matters would become public has gone to court without the NFL first settling. In 2021, the league settled with St. Louis, St. Louis County and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority for $790 million over the relocation of the Rams to Los Angeles.

Why is the NFL facing long odds?

According to memos presented by attorneys for the plaintiffs, Fox and CBS have always wanted the league to charge premium prices for “Sunday Ticket” so that it doesn’t eat into local ratings — the more subscribers to “Sunday Ticket,” the greater the threat to local audience numbers.

During opening statements, attorney Amanda Bonn showed a 2020 term sheet by Fox Sports demanding the NFL ensure “Sunday Ticket” would be priced above $293.96 per season.

When the “Sunday Ticket” contract was up for bid in 2022, ESPN wanted to offer the package on its streaming service for $70 per season along with offering a team-by-team product, according to an email shown by Bonn. That was rejected by the NFL.

How much could this cost the NFL?

If the NFL is found liable, a jury could award $7 billion in damages, but that number could balloon to $21 billion because antitrust cases can triple damages.

But when would the league have to show the subscribers the money?

Not for awhile, since the NFL would appeal to the 9th Circuit and possibly the Supreme Court after that.

What other ways could “Sunday Ticket” subscribers find lower prices?

The NFL could offer a team-by-team package, something done by Major League Baseball and the NBA for its out-of-market packages, and actively market a weekly package if fans didn’t like games being shown in their area.

Could this impact other sports?

Since all the major leagues offer out-of-market packages, they are keeping an eye on this case since individual teams selling their out-of-market streaming rights, especially in baseball, would further separate the haves from the have nots.

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https://www.denverpost.com/2024/06/17/heres-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-lawsuit-against-the-nfl-by-sunday-ticket-subscribers/
How Jim Leonhard, once a presumptive college head coach, found a fresh start as a Broncos assistant:

Jim Leonhard trusted his eyes.

Such faith is foundational for any good defensive back.

So when the 41-year-old’s smooth-sailing, fast-rising college coaching career took a big hit late in 2022, he first stepped back. Then he thought about what he’d seen and let it guide him toward his next landmark: the NFL.

Leonhard kicked off this stanza of his coaching career in February when Sean Payton hired him as Denver’s secondary coach and defensive passing game coordinator. Payton tried to hire him a year earlier, too, shortly after Leonhard thought he had the University of Wisconsin head coaching job locked up, only to watch the school hire Luke Fickell instead.

In the past 12 months, Leonhard experienced plenty of new things but also one familiar theme: A lot of people had interest in hiring him.

So why eventually say yes to Payton and the Broncos? He leaned on an old scouting report from 11 years ago, when he spent April through August 2013 on New Orleans’ roster under Payton.

“He cut me, so he had to overcome some things there,” Leonhard told The Post with a smile. “But it was a unique enough experience for me. It was later in my career, but the way he talked, the way he communicated with the team and set the vision for what the program was all about, it felt a little different and it piqued my interest. …

“(Denver) wasn’t a team that I necessarily studied or knew everything about. A little bit of trust in his track record and what I had seen and been around as a player and other coaches I’d talked to that have been around him. Just thought it was a unique opportunity to come into.”

Leonhard’s reputation is as a strong teacher but also a quick study. It’s safe to assume that he’ll not only be working to help a mostly young Broncos secondary round into form under Vance Joseph, but will also be watching and learning from the veteran coordinator and from Payton. After all, Payton likes collecting assistants with upside and thinks Leonhard is the latest who possesses plenty.

“I’ve kind of known him for a while,” Payton said, “And he’s one of those guys — not only myself, but I would say a number of people in the league — have tracked and said, ‘This guy has got a real good future as a coach in this league.’”

Jump to the NFL

Leonhard almost didn’t get a start in the NFL at all.

It didn’t look like he’d need one.

After engineering several top-flight defenses at Wisconsin between 2017 and ’22, Leonhard became the team’s interim head coach in October 2022, when Paul Chryst was fired amid a slow start.

Leonhard spent years rebuffing all manner of offers — including the Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator job in 2021 — and now had his hands on the head job at his alma mater, where he had been a three-time All-American safety.

“I went into it with pretty clear eyes as far as what being a head coach entails and everything involved,” he said. “You learn very quickly on how clear you have to communicate. You learn very quickly on the amount of people you have to manage. It’s a fun challenge. It’s a lot. It’s something you can’t turn off. There were no big shocks on it. To go into a situation where you’re the interim coach, you know things aren’t going well, right? You go into a team that’s reeling, kind of on its heels, and you go, How do I settle this thing down and then create the vision on how we’re going to turn it?”

The Badgers went 4-3 down the stretch and it was widely assumed, even reported, that the permanent job was his. Then athletic director Chris MacIntosh instead swung a late deal to hire Luke Fickell away from Cincinnati.

“I wasn’t necessarily pleased with how it turned out, but that’s not my decision,” Leonhard said. “I’m glad I did it and went through it. I felt like I was able to try to put that season back together for us and now I’m excited for the next step.”

An old mentor

Bret Bielema remembers clearly the first time he met Leonhard.

Bielema was the incoming defensive coordinator at Wisconsin in 2004 and Leonhard a senior safety for the Badgers with 18 interceptions already to his name. Head coach Barry Alvarez told Bielema that if he wanted to get a pulse on the defense, he should get to know its best player.

“I didn’t know anything about Jimmy. Back then there wasn’t much Google research,” Bielema, now the head coach at Illinois, told The Post recently. “I read his bio and watched his film and thought, ‘This guy’s pretty good.’ So I sat down with him and spent an hour explaining our defense, the strengths and weaknesses of our basic calls and what it would allow him to do and showcase.

“And literally, I very quickly realized that this kid processes, learns and understands better than any player I’d ever been around at that point.”

Case in point: Later that year, Leonhard logged two interceptions in the first four minutes of a game against Iowa.

“Iowa had a scheme they’d shown and they knew we’d probably be on to it, so the very first third-down play they had a different alignment than they’d ever run but ran the same play conceptually. Jimmy picked it off,” Bielema recalled.

The offense gave the ball back to Iowa so quickly there was no time for a sideline debrief.

“I send the defense back on the field and Iowa did it again and Jimmy intercepted it again,” Bielema marveled. “This guy literally auto-corrected to two things he’d never seen just by (making an) identification that we’d never discussed.”

They stayed close after Leonhard went undrafted in 2005 but cracked Buffalo’s roster as a rookie. Bielema eventually became UW’s head coach. Leonhard would return to Madison each offseason with a notebook full of learnings from Rex Ryan or whichever coordinator he played for that season.

Bielema made it clear: “Whenever you get done playing, brother, I’ve got a job for you.”

Football life happens in funny ways, though, and the two didn’t link up until 2023. Leonhard had talked with Payton about a job on the Broncos’ staff but needed to have hip surgery and wasn’t sure he wanted to uproot his young family so quickly after the end of his tenure at Wisconsin. So Bielema moved quickly to hire Leonhard as an analyst. He could spend Monday through Thursday at Illinois helping Bielema’s coaches, then spend the rest of the week at home.

“He had an immediate impact on everybody in our building,” said Bielema, who would have gladly taken him back this year except, “I knew he kind of wanted to get into the NFL world.”

The place turned out to be Denver, where Leonhard once signed during training camp in 2012, made the team and ended up with a pair of interceptions over 16 games (one start).

“I loved my time here in Denver,” he said. “It was a great experience as a player and just knowing, really from the top down, the commitment and the passion for the Broncos here in Denver.

“I’m excited to be back for this to be my first opportunity coaching in the NFL.”

“Incredibly gifted “

P.J. Locke casually slips into first-name basis.

“I spend a lot of time with Jim,” he told The Post this month. “Literally every day after practice I have one-on-one sessions with him and it’s just for my own sake.”

Locke’s one of several young players with a lot on the line as the secondary gets to know its new coach. Locke pencils in as a starter next to Brandon Jones, especially as Caden Sterns continues to rehab from a 2023 torn patella tendon, and said he’s already benefiting.

“Some of the stuff he’s teaching me, I’ve never thought of. It makes so much sense,” he said. “And now it’s just taking what he teaches and bringing it to the front and trusting it. He brings a different dynamic of trusting in your ability, trust in what you see, trust in what the quarterback is giving you, trust in the routes that you see and that are developing and the concepts that you see.

“Trust it. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. Sometimes you’ve got to be aggressive. When you’ve got a coach like that, it can really help you play loose.”

For several years, Parker stood as one of the few constants on Denver’s defense. Now in Year 2 under Joseph, the corners and safeties have a new voice in the room.

“I’ve got a ton of respect for Vance and what he does on defense,” Leonhard said. “I think I can be a big asset for him and really help get his vision for what this defense should be and how we want to play. I think I can really help him with that, and that’s what I’m excited for.”

Well, that and “being able to kick (the recruiting in college football) to the side and really focus on the relationships with coaches and game-planning and the players,” he said.

All part of why Bielema forecasts bright days ahead for Leonhard at the game’s highest level.

“The game is so pure,” he said of the NFL. “It’s not about how fast you can do things. It’s about how well you can do things. The NFL game is really good for him because he understands strengths and weaknesses, he understands how to communicate it, and it’s at a high level of execution. …

“He’s just an incredibly gifted football mind and he has a real ability to connect with players of all types.”

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https://www.denverpost.com/2024/06/16/broncos-jim-leonhard-nfl-wisconsin/
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