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Ten Thoughts on the NFL: Chicago Bears and beyond

Check out my latest Thoughts on the NFL and be sure to add a few of your own in the comment section...

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

1) Most of us love the feel-good moment at an NFL game when a team brings out a member of the United States' military to honor them for their service and sacrifice. It's often a touching moment that brings men to tears and leaves us with a sense of pride.

Now what if I told you that is was nothing more than a commercial?

According to, many of these salutes were set up through marketing contracts between the U.S. Government and NFL teams, paid for by -- you guessed it -- taxpayer money.

The Department of Defense and the Jersey Guard paid the Jets a total of $377,000 from 2011 to 2014 for the salutes and other advertising, according to federal contracts. Overall, the Defense Department has paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million during that time, of which $5.3 million was paid by the National Guard to 11 teams under similar contracts.

Here are the 14 teams reported to have received those millions.

Atlanta Falcons
Baltimore Ravens
Buffalo Bills
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns
Dallas Cowboys
Green Bay Packers
Indianapolis Colts
Kansas City Chiefs
Miami Dolphins
Minnesota Vikings
New York Jets
Pittsburgh Steelers
St. Louis Rams

I suppose I shouldn't be that surprised, the NFL is a billion dollar business that draws millions of people to stadiums across the country for live events and tens of millions more watch every week on television.

What better way to maximize your advertising dollar than to go with the juggernaut that is the NFL.

So now technically, many of these emotional in stadium moments are really no different than watching a commercial with the tag line of "Army Strong" or "The Few. The Proud. The Marines." run during Sunday Night Football.

I can certainly understand why the government would want to market themselves in this manner, but the charade that these moments are nothing more than an NFL team honoring a hometown hero out of the goodness of their hearts, is a problem.

But now that I know, it doesn't change how I feel about the military personnel being honored.  I'll still cheer as loudly as I have in the past.

SB Nation's Matt Ufford, a former Marine, has an interesting take of this subject.

2) When the Jacksonville Jaguars lost #3 overall pick Dante Fowler Jr. to an ACL injury at rookie mini-camp, it prompted some to question the point of even having them.

Rookie minicamps are a necessity. Teams have to start to get their new players acclimated to the pace of NFL practices and coaches have to get a jump on learning the skills of their new players before having the full 90 man off season roster come together.

Injuries can happen any time and any place. While unfortunate, there's really nothing that can be done to avoid them.

This next thought was written before Tom Brady was suspended for 4 games.

3) Tom Brady should be suspended for his role in the deflated ball scandal because the NFL has a precedent in place.

When the New Orleans Saints got busted for placing bounties on the opposition, defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove was suspended eight games for obstruction.

Brady and the Patriots were caught cheating again.

The Wells Report found that Brady was probably aware of the deflating, but at the very least he obstructed the investigation.

"although Tom Brady appeared for a requested interview and answered questions voluntarily, he declined to make available any documents or electronic information (including text messages and emails) that we requested, even though those requests were limited to the subject matter of our investigation."

So if Hargrove's obstruction warranted an 8 game ban, that he ultimately got down down to just 2 games, Tom Brady should at the very least sit out two weeks for his obstruction.

Now we all know he got 4 games, time will tell if he works it down to 2. For all the details on Brady's suspension, plus info on the fine and loss of draft picks, check out our sister site Pats Pulpit.

4) One more Patriot thought: with today's release of Kyle Arrington, the Pats have now moved on from their top three corners from last year. Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner were both allowed to leave via free agency when the team passed on picking up their options.

If any other team sprung their top 3 CBs, it would be a major storyline, but I think somehow head coach Bill Belichcik will have things all figured out.

5) Last month eight time Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu announced his retirement from the NFL, and just last week nine time Pro Bowler Ed Reed officially called it a career. Since Reed didn't actually play in the NFL last season, he'll be able to beat Polamalu to Canton by one year.

6) So the Dallas Cowboys won the La'el Collins sweepstakes and -- on paper -- you'd have to say they won the 2015 NFL Draft.

They picked defensive back Byron Jones in the 1st round. They nabbed a 1st round talent in the 2nd round, when Randy Gregory fell to their 60th overall selection. And the aforementioned Collins, himself a 1st round prospect, fell completely out of the draft because of perceived legal issues.

7) Earlier this week we told you that the Chicago Bears have issued number 55 to rookie center Hroniss Grasu. Last years's 55, Lance Briggs, is back in the rumor mill today.

The 49ers remain interested in signing seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs, a source told on Monday.

Briggs, 34, is an unrestricted free agent who has spent his entire 12-year career with the Chicago Bears. Any player signed after May 12 does not count against the NFL's formula for awarding compensatory picks.

While Briggs to the 49ers isn't really that surprising, that last sentence in the blockquote above is something I wasn't aware of.

By now we all know the basics of the compensatory draft pick formula. (If the NFL deems a team lost more talent than it acquired through free agency, the NFL could award extra draft picks.) So waiting until after May 12th on some veteran free agents is just good business. If you sign a guy that plays well for you, his "play" doesn't hurt your compensatory calculation.

8) It seems the Bennett brothers, Michael and Martellus, are both looking to re-do their contracts. Martellus hasn't attended any of the voluntary off season work outs for the Bears while he seeks a raise from his $4.9 million 2015 salary. Last week Chicago GM Ryan Pace said that Martellus hasn't requested a trade.

Michael is also asking for a raise, and just like his brother, he's not looking to be traded away from his team, the Seattle Seahawks. Michael is set to make a base salary of $6 million in 2015. Seattle may give him more money up front, but it's unlikely they renegotiate his deal.

9) There was some grumbling about Bears' rookie wide out Kevin White only playing the right side of the offense in West Virginia's spread O. Some fans were worried that he would struggle learning an NFL playbook that requires more versatility from wide outs.

From ESPN:

"Did a lot of movement today," White said. "Left side and in the slot on the right side. Slot in the left. So a lot different than college. Just trying to get adjusted. First day. So it wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. But I'm learning the system and trying to get better each and every day.

So even though the Bears signed a traditional slot receiver in Eddie Royal, don't assume he'll be the only guy running routes from there. A good offensive coordinator will move his players around to get a desired match-up.

10) The Bears' 2015 draft class continues to be praised, the latest from's Bucky Brooks, calling it one of the 7 best.

GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox, both in their first year with Chicago, are intent on rebuilding the Bears with a bunch of intelligent, hard-nosed football players with non-stop motors. Fox, in particular, covets explosive big-bodied athletes at every position, which is why the Bears' draft features some of the top testers in pre-draft workouts. Kevin White is a dynamic pass catcher with exceptional speed, quickness and burst. He is a natural vertical stretch receiver who could blossom as a WR1 in the Windy City opposite Alshon Jeffery.

Defensive tackle Eddie Goldman is a behemoth on the interior, but he plays light on his feet and provides the Bears with a run-stuffer/pocket-pusher at the point of attack. Offensive lineman Hroniss Grasu and running back Jeremy Langford didn't command a lot of attention during the pre-draft process, but each is a rock-solid prospect with the potential to contribute immediately as a role player.

The Bears also went fairly heavy on the undrafted free agent route, bringing in 17 players, so this truly could be the rookie class that changed the franchise.

What are some of your thoughts this week?