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Gary Myers, NFL Hall of Fame Voter/Author

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
The Truth Network Radio
July 18, 2023 8:05 pm

Gary Myers, NFL Hall of Fame Voter/Author

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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July 18, 2023 8:05 pm

Gary Myers joined Zach to discuss if there's a solution to the suppressed wages at the running back position and why Sam Darnold could push for the 49ers starting QB job. 

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That's slash MLB. Gary, no, it's been a while, but appreciate you coming on. How you been? I'm doing great, Zach. How are you?

Well, I'm doing fantastic. We will talk about the book in just a bit, but you covered the NFL for a long time. Just what is your reaction with everything that's happened the last 24, 48 hours with the running back position in the NFL? Obviously, the NFL has decided, the teams have decided that running backs are replaceable parts.

It's extremely valuable. I think this actually started years ago with Mike Shanahan. No matter who he plugged in to his running game, they would rush for 1,200, 1,300 yards and it's carried over to Kyle, which is kind of what I was surprised. I even traded from McCaffrey last year because it seemed no matter who he put in the backfield, you know, would be effective runner, but I think it is a little short sighted in that. You know, come December and January, you still have to play defense.

You still have to be able to run the ball to win. And in the case of the Giants, where it didn't appear they were all that far apart in either guaranteed money or total dollars, I think the Giants could have easily bought themselves out of what's going to be just a messy situation for the entirety of training camp where Barkley is not going to be there, but his name is going to come up. You know, multiple times in every one of Dables press conferences and the players that continue to be asked about it, I think it just creates a cloud for the Giants that could have easily been avoided. Yeah, I wasn't surprised with the Josh Jacobs situation because they didn't intend for him to be on the roster this year where they didn't extend in the fifth year option a season ago, but when it comes to Saquon Barkley, I know that Daniel Jones had a good year last year, but he's their most valuable player on the offensive side of the ball and I thought they would have got that deal done.

Yeah, and when you think about the money that they gave Daniel Jones and they gave Dexter Lawrence, for another, and I'm just, I would say I'm guessing it's an educated guess that, you know, maybe another $3 million total, $2 million in guaranteed money and throwing a million dollars on to a second year salary probably would have got this done from everything I understand. And, you know, after you give, if the Giants give Daniel Jones about $80 million guaranteed or exactly what the figure is, it's enormous for a guy who hasn't accomplished very much, and then you're cutting corners with Barkley over a few million dollars. Just to be able to avoid this being such an issue, I thought it was worth the money for the Giants, like I said before, just to buy their way out of it, both because of his value on the field, Zach, and the way he's respected in the locker room. He's really the face of the franchise, and very rarely do you see teams treat the face of the franchise slash best player the way the Giants did, and it's kind of not the Giants way, but apparently this is, you know, the Joe Shane way, and this was his first major contract confrontation.

And I just don't think he handled it the way that I would have expected. I thought, despite all the back and forth and the leaks and whatnot, I thought it was typical negotiations, and when it got right down to it, because the NFL is such a deadline league, I thought they'd find a way to kind of bridge the gap and get this done and make Barkley happy. Now, who knows how invested he'll be in the team when he comes back.

Well, that's my next question for you, Gary Myers. We know Tony Pollard's already signed the tag, so as long as he's healthy, he's going to play week one. For Josh Jacobs and Saquon Barkley, they've not signed that tag yet, so I wouldn't expect them to be there for any of training camp, maybe the back end, but I wonder, would they take it to the step of holding out a game or two? I don't think it really benefits them, but this seems, at least in the moment, the last 24, 48 hours or so, where the running backs are really annoyed right now.

Yeah, and let's be clear about one thing. He's not holding out, because he doesn't have a contract, and so he can't get fined, so there's a technical difference there. I think Le'Veon Bell's situation a few years ago taught them all a lesson, especially for running backs. There is nothing to be gained when they have such a short career span. There's nothing to be gained sitting out a year. They're never going to make up the money they lose this year, and the chances that they'll do better next year, what's going to change a year from now?

Not much. And if Barkley gets the same deal a year from now and he sits out this season, he's lost $10 million. So I also thought it was, usually in these kind of situations Zach, each side looks to make it appear that they gave in so the other side can claim a victory, and that's kind of when you know it's a good contract when both sides are sort of happy, but they think they didn't get quite as much as they wanted from the other side, but they can live with it.

And that's a win-win. I think it's a lose-lose here, because not only do Giants now face these Barkley questions every day, like I mentioned, but the Giants were basically guaranteeing two years worth of franchise numbers for Saquon, and so instead of playing for the $10.1 million this year, they would have guaranteed approximately $22 million over the next two years. Now what happens if he gets hurt this year, or he has a bad season, but more likely when he's healthy, he plays really well, but he has a history, at least three out of the five years of getting hurt. And he will finish the sixth year after 2023, and I just don't know what the chances are, even if the Giants don't franchise him again, that he could go out in the open market and find somebody to pay him the $12 million for 2024 that the Giants were willing to guarantee.

So I think he loses in this case, too. I can understand, ego-wise, he's going, look at the money he just gave Daniel Jones, the money he just gave Dexter Lawrence, where's my money? But unfortunately, it's just reached a point in the NFL where running backs just don't get paid, and it's not like the Giants were offering him $6 million like Miles Sanders got from Carolina. They were still offering him an awful lot of money, and you wonder how much being in New York really means to him because of all the money he can make off the field. Now I know you don't have to be in New York anymore to cash in on those endorsement dollars. It's not the same as it was 20 years ago, but he still makes an awful lot of money off the field.

I just think he would have wanted to solidify himself as a giant for life, and there's a lot that goes into that. There's a lot of value to that, and now his future with the team is very much uncertain. Gary Myers here with us, and I kind of get both sides of the argument because if you look at the last 10 Super Bowl winners, the best running back in the regular season was Marshawn Lynch. Outside of that, there's not many household names. So I understand why teams are saying we still got to run the ball, but we don't got to overpay for running backs, and I get why players are annoyed because we all know you got to get your money where you can.

This is a lethal game, and you never know how long the lifespan of an athlete is going to be, and especially at that position, you have guys right now that are playing at a pretty high level when healthy. And kind of the way that they're programmed and deservedly so is if you perform well, eventually you're going to get that big deal. So I kind of get it. I know it doesn't make for the best radio in the world because we all got to take a side. I get it from both sides here, Gary.

No, I agree. I agree, but I think in the case of Barkley, and I always side with the players because their careers are so short. In the case of Barkley, I do think he ultimately made a mistake here just turning down two years worth of guaranteed money because of the uncertainty of what could happen this year and his history of injuries. But you look at some of the cases from the last few years, you know, Todd Gurley gets a bunch of money and he gets hurt. Ezekiel gets a bunch of money and he becomes completely ineffective and loses not one step, but about three. And I know the Cowboys would like to have that deal back, which is obviously influencing why they never even offered Tony Pollard a multi-year deal that it was basically the franchise tag and sign it when you want. And he signed it a while ago and he's going to make $10 million this year, which is probably a lot more than he thought he'd ever make because he wasn't a first round pick.

But I'll stick to what I said right at the top here, Zach. I still think running backs are really important. And the teams that have the really good ones, although what you said about Marshawn Lynch being the best one of the bunch in the last 10 years or so is true.

But you wonder how many teams might have been able to take that next step if they really had an elite running back and maybe they would have been the team that won the Super Bowl if they did. Gary Myers here with us. Just going around the rest of the league, Gary, and then we'll talk about your new book that's coming out in September about the Giants and really good stuff with what you sent me.

Very excited to read it. Dallas, I know you usually have a good pulse on the Cowboys. Where do you think the Cowboys are at?

I'll give you my take on them. I think Dak's a good but not great quarterback. The last two years, the defense has played great, but the quarterback has let them down in those big playoff games against the Niners.

Yeah, I agree. The game they lost to the Niners two years ago was the one that really surprised me because it was a home game in the wild card round that they lost. I'm pretty sure it was the wild card round. The major question going into the Cowboys' season now is it's kind of circled back to being all about Dak. Can he win a big game like you just mentioned? And he puts up good numbers in the regular season for the most part, although would he miss five games last year and still at the league and interceptions? I thought he played very well in the victory against Tampa in the wild card, but the Bucks were also so awful in that game that it didn't take a great game from Dak to win it. Although I do think that he played very well, but then they go out to San Francisco and that's where their season ends. Basically with every quarterback, unless he gets there, you always wonder if he can, and they were saying the same thing about Peyton Manning early in his career.

I'm not comparing the two. I'm just saying that there were questions about Manning. He went the first three, four years of his career without winning a playoff game. So the focus is it's a quarterback league. All the rules have been skewed in that direction that if you don't have a really productive quarterback now, a guy that can win games and drive you down the field in the last two minutes, you've got no chance because it's a passing league now. So I think there are major questions with the Cowboys. I think Philadelphia obviously is still going to be good, although they've had a bunch of changes on defense.

I think they're really good. All the changes they've made on defense, the guys they're plugging in are from Georgia, which had one of the best defensive teams in college football the last few years. So I don't know if there will be a drop-off, but I think the Eagles clearly are a step ahead of the Cowboys right now. You look at the 49ers. It's crazy how a team can continue to mess up the quarterback position, and then every year it seems like they're shoeing bare minimum for the NFC title game. We talk about how much the importance is now on the quarterback. It's kind of amazing to me that the 49ers haven't been able to figure out that position yet. Well, they thought they did have it figured out with Garoppolo. He just couldn't stay on the field, and that's a major problem. I'm not sold on Brock Purdy yet, and I'm not even talking about whether or not he's the same player he was at the end of last season because of the injury.

I don't know. That was such a small sample size, but Kyle Shanahan is such a good quarterback coach that I'm just going to say this. I don't know how it's going to play out this summer. I know Purdy's going to be healthy. Maybe Trey Lance takes a big step forward, but I would not be shocked if Sam Darnold makes a real run at the starting quarterback spot there.

Here's the thing people forget, Zach. Last year in Carolina, Sam got off to a 3-0 start. In the middle of the third game in Houston is when McCaffrey got hurt, which happens every year. Yeah, two years ago. Right. Was that two years ago? Yeah, two years ago. I'm sorry. You're right.

It was two years ago. I thought Sam was playing really well up until that point in the 2021 season, and once he lost McCaffrey, the season fell apart and Sam played awful, and then last year was just a circus with him and Baker Mayfield. So now he goes to a situation where there's not a lot of expectations, but there's a great coach who's done really well getting quarterbacks to take their play up a level. So I wouldn't be surprised if Sam has a really good summer. I'm not saying he's going to win the job, but I think he'll be in the conversation, especially if Purdy's not 100%.

I can see Sam beating out Trey Lance this summer if that's the competition. In the AFC, where are the Jets? The Jets are the what best team in the AFC entering this season? The Jets are the most hyped team entering the AFC this season. And they don't want any of the hype. They want Rodgers, but they don't want Hard Knocks then.

I know. I feel really strongly about this. If a team doesn't want Hard Knocks and doesn't want the cameras in the meeting rooms and doesn't want them all over the place, it shouldn't be forced on them.

I know they're all sharing the money and everything. It's not like the NFL needs the money from HBO to survive. If a team wants to do it, God bless them. Let them bring the cameras in. But if a team doesn't want to do it, they shouldn't be forced to do it.

The Jets are trying to win a Super Bowl. They've got a two-year window with Aaron Rodgers. Hard Knocks is always a distraction.

They shouldn't be forced to open up the doors to Hard Knocks. I wrote on Twitter the other day, and I really believe this, I think the good in-season Hard Knocks will be following around Roger Goodell, have a camera in every one of his offices, in every meeting room, let there be a camera in every one of his phone calls. Let the NFL make up another bogus crisis like Deflategate so we can sit in on how these stupid decisions are made.

And let's see how much he likes the intrusive nature of having a camera on him 24-7. But I'll get off my soapbox and say, if Aaron Rodgers stays healthy, I think the Jets are going to be really good. I'm not saying we should forget about how he played last year, but let's not forget, not only did he break in a bunch of rookie receivers, but he also broke his thumb in the fifth game, thumb on his throwing hand, of course, in the fifth game last year against the Giants in London.

Didn't miss a game, but clearly he wasn't the same player that had just won back-to-back MVPs. So I think as long as he stays healthy, the Jets have a core of really good young players. They've drafted not great, but really well over the last few years because they've still missed on a bunch, including Zach Wilson and Denzel Milms, you know, really high picks. But I think the Jets can, I'm not going to say they're going to make a run for the Super Bowl, but I think they can make a run at Buffalo for sure to win the division. And then, you know, once you get to January and you're still playing in the postseason, you know, who knows what could happen?

You just need a break here or there. But I think the Jets are going to be a fun team to watch this year, again, as long as Rodgers stays healthy. Because all the pieces are there, including, you know, his favorite offensive coordinator. Yes, the great Nathaniel Hackett. So you've got a new book, Gary Myers, coming out on September 12th.

Tell me about it. Yeah, Once a Giant, a story of victory, tragedy, and life after football. And I think this is my sixth book, Zach, and I really think it's my most important because it really addresses such a crucial issue, which is life after football for these players from that generation.

The 86 Giants, I'm writing about the Super Bowl champions. And these players are, you know, into mid to late 50s to the mid to late 60s. And they really paint a good picture of what life is like for these players from that generation are going through. And the players from today's players and tomorrow's players, what they can expect their life to be like 35 years after they finish their careers. And there's just some really, really, you know, compelling stories in there from very big name players. I, you know, everybody would want to read about ourselves.

Belichick, L.T. Sims, Carson Banks, Bobaro, you know, et cetera. And I will just give this little bit of a tease that and I felt good that the players felt comfortable enough with me to open up. But despite players in the book that told me on the record, since their careers are over, that things had gotten so bad, either, you know, mentally health issues, financially mental health issues that five players admitted and detailed to me how they contemplated suicide.

Wow. And it's just I think some of the stuff in there is really chilling to read. Now, I do want to say the book's not a total downer. I did bounce it off with how this team in 1986 became a brotherhood and how it sustained itself.

Over more than 35 years and that they rally around each other when someone's in trouble and needs help. And that's really the heartwarming part of the story. But the heartbreaking part of the story is really how some of these players have really, really struggled with the challenges of life after football. Make sure you grab a copy of it.

It comes out on September 12th. Once again, the name of the book is Once a Giant, a story of victory, tragedy and life after football. And it's authored by long time NFL scribe and Gary Myers. Gary, great to catch up with you. Appreciate it. Thanks, Zach. I just want to say if anybody's interested in preordering, you can get it on Amazon or, you know, any of those online services. Thanks a lot for having me on. I enjoyed it.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-18 22:16:01 / 2023-07-18 22:24:22 / 8

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