Friday, August 05, 2005

Pinkston out

The news is not good on Eagles receiver Todd Pinkston. He ruptured his Achilles tendon in the morning practice session Friday and looks like he will be out for the season.

Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder said that Pinkston will require surgery that will be scheduled in the next couple of days.

“In general terms it takes six months,” Burkholder said about the estimated recovery time.

Eagles injuries

The report comes from Marc Narducci, Inquirer Staff Writer.

The Eagles began their Friday morning practice at Lehigh University with just one of their starting wide receivers and finished with none. Terrell Owens, who missed Thursday afternoon’s practice with left groin inflammation, didn’t workout Friday morning. He has been listed as day to day.

During the morning session, Todd Pinkston went down with what the team described as an Achilles injury. Pinkston was scheduled to get an MRI.

In addition, running back Correll Buckhalter left practice early with a sore knee. Buckhalter walked off on his own and the extent of the injury was not immediately known.

The fact that Buckhalter was having trouble with his knee is of obvious concern. He has missed two of the previous three seasons with knee injuries, including last year. Buckhalter had been running well in camp.

With Brian Westbrook holding out for the fifth day, the Eagles will be short at running back if Buckhalter is lost for an extended period.

The other running backs in camp are Renho Mahe, rookie Ryan Moats of Louisiana Tech and Bruce Perry, the former star at Philadelphia’s George Washington High who missed his rookie season last year with a shoulder injury.

What to do with Las Vegas?

It is very interesting how the different professional sports leagues are looking at Las Vegas these days.

The largest metropolitan area in the United States without a major-league professional sports franchise, Las Vegas has been working to change that. The gambling capital of the world was very much a candidate in trying to land the Expos (now Nationals) in Major League Baseball and the NBA is set to announce the 2007 All-Star Game will be played at UNLV's Thomas and Mack Center.

The NFL, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with the city. Not even an imaginary version on television. According to a story in USA Today, the NFL may ban NBC from promoting its hit TV show, "Las Vegas", starring James Caan "because of the league's ban on advertising related to the nation's gambling capital."

"It is an issue we may have to address," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told USA Today. "We do have general restrictions on what can and can't appear."

NBC does not broadcast its first game until the 2007 season.

Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman, a Philly guy, told USA Today that the NFL should work with the city and look to place a team there.

As they say at the tables before the first card is dealt, "Good luck!"

Westbrook update

This is breaking news from overnight provided by Bob Brookover, the Inquirer's Eagles beat reporter:

Brian Westbrook and his agent want a long-term deal from the Eagles, but they're also aware that if the running back does not report to training camp by Monday he will lose his potential to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

In other words, the only way they can win in the contract dispute with the Eagles is by reaching agreement on a long-term contract extension.

"We're going to continue to look at all options," Smith said early this morning. "The [collective bargaining agreement] doesn't provide very many choices for someone in Brian's position. Someone asked me about our leverage, but that's tough to answer, especially when the team has most of the leverage."

Smith put out a release from his Skokie, Ill., office that outlined the obstacles Westbrook has operated under as a restricted free agent this off-season.

"On June 1, we executed the one-year tender with the Philadelphia Eagles to facilitate the negotiation of a long-term contract for Brian Westbrook," the statement said. "It is well documented that Brian had until June 15 to sign the tender. If it remained unsigned beyond June 15, the Eagles could have exercised their right to reduce Brian's 2005 salary substantially."

Westbrook, who hired Smith after firing agent Anthony Agnone, signed the Eagles' $1.43 million tender and attended the team's voluntary minicamp in June after boycotting a similar camp the month before.

That move triggered the start of negotiations between Smith and the Eagles, but when the sides hadn't come to an agreement by Monday's reporting date for training camp, Westbrook decided to stage a holdout that surprised and angered the Eagles.

The statement from Smith's CSMG company also laments Article XVIII, Section 1 (b) of the collective bargaining agreement that says any player under contract who doesn't report 30 days before the first NFL game of the regular season loses a year of credited service.

For Westbrook, that means he would lose his right to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

"We are and have been aware of Article XVIII of the collective bargaining agreement as it pertains to Brian," the statement said. "Despite the ramifications thereof, Brian and I remain unified with respect to all decisions made regarding the current state of affairs. We will continue to exhaust all options available to Brian until such time when we are able to secure a favorable long-term contract."

According to team sources, the Eagles have offered Westbrook a five-year deal with a signing bonus of about $9 million, which is $4 million more than such star running backs as Green Bay's Ahman Green, Houston's Domanick Davis and Carolina's Stephen Davis.

The bonus is $2 million more than Tiki Barber got from the New York Giants and $2.5 million more than Warrick Dunn received from Atlanta. It is $1 million more than Fred Taylor got from Jacksonville.

Clinton Portis of Washington received a signing bonus of close to $13 million, and LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers received $16 million in the first year of his contract last year.

Westbrook isn't looking for Portis and Tomlinson money, but Eagles president Joe Banner has conceded that the running back was seeking more than the team was willing to offer.

"We just have to try to explore all avenues to get something done," Smith said.

The first step will probably come today with a call from Smith to Banner. Smith declined to talk about any of the specifics of the deal, but said that Westbrook's main goal was to get a long-term extension from the Eagles.

"There is no question about that," Smith said. "The system has allowed him to flourish in very many ways. I'm not saying he couldn't do well in another system, but the Eagles' system has been great for him. He wants to be compensated, too. Regardless of the market, Brian is one of the most important players in that offense.

"This has been a difficult decision for Brian. He is a football player first and he obviously wants to be out there. But he has to protect his interests. He doesn't have a guaranteed contract and given the violent nature of the sport, he has to protect his interests. But every step of the way, he hasn't had much choice. This was one opportunity to express his protest."

Given the rules of the trade, it would seem that the protest will end by Monday.

The only question now is whether it will end with Westbrook's signing a long-term deal or playing one final year before becoming an unrestricted free agent.

Palmeiro update

Cancel those Aug. 14 plans to see the Rafael Palmeiro 3000-hit celebration in Baltimore.

According to USA Today, the event was canceled at Palmeiro's request.

A good move by the steroid-tainted Hall of Fame hopeful.

Make sure to check out Sunday's Inquirer when long-time baseball writer and editor Claire Smith has a story on what current baseball hall of famers say about Palmeiro's chances in wake of the steroid news.