- The Washington Times - Friday, April 20, 2007

The Houston Texans’ lack of on-field success since joining the league in 2002 hasn’t prevented Bob McNair from becoming a powerful owner. He was one of the key figures in the 2006 negotiations that produced the revamped collective bargaining agreement and has influenced the league’s enhanced revenue sharing plan.

“The model we’re operating under is unsustainable … and it’s going to collapse,” Buffalo owner Ralph Wilson lamented after the Bills swallowed hard last month and voted for the plan, which runs through 2009, the year before Dallas and New York open large, new stadiums.

McNair, who noted “it takes less money to operate in the smaller markets,” doesn’t see such a dire turn of events unfolding. Nor does he feel bad for his small-market rivals, hinting they should move if they can’t thrive under the NFL’s business model, the closest thing in this country to socialism.

“You have to let the marketplace work,” McNair told the Houston Chronicle. “Will there be markets that can’t support a team over time? Yes, we’ll probably see that. I think all of us want to minimize it and would prefer that that not occur, but markets will change. Cities will lose population, other cities will gain, and so you will have adjustments.”

Classy Carney — Life in the NFL can be unfair. Just ask John Carney.

The veteran kicker had six superb seasons in New Orleans, becoming the NFL’s fourth-leading career scorer and getting involved in the community both before and after Hurricane Katrina.

But even though Carney nailed 25 of 27 field goal attempts (including postseason) in 2006, he can’t prevent turning 43 today. So after the Saints traded with Miami for 34-year-old Olindo Mare this month, Carney asked to be cut, and his request was granted.

“I understand the nature of the business,” Carney told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “I’m not blind to the fact that I’m getting a little long in the tooth. But I’m educated and experienced enough to know whether I have enough gas in the tank for the upcoming season.”

Mare struggled uncharacteristically in Miami last season — missing 10 of 36 kicks — but has a stronger leg and will handle long-range field goals and kick off duties, both of which Billy Cundiff did for New Orleans in 2006. So the Saints save a roster spot by waiving Carney and adding Mare, who only cost a sixth-round draft pick.

Still, Carney will be missed. Here are excerpts of the statement he issued to Saints fans as he made his exit:

“My family and I have been forever imprinted with the style, culture and kindness of the South,” Carney wrote. “Through triumphs and tragedies, the perseverance and integrity of New Orleans’ people is far stronger than politics and hurricanes. I leave New Orleans a far better man, looking for a team in need of a wrinkled foot. … Thank ya’ll for the support and class you showed me during my Saints career.”

Good riddance, Mr. Franchise — Quarterback David Carr, the first draft choice in Texans history, wasn’t No. 1 in his teammates’ hearts. Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson wasn’t upset that Carr, a loner, was replaced by the relatively untested Matt Schaub and then released.

“Just from the way Matt walks around the locker room, you can tell he’s a leader,” Johnson told the Houston Chronicle. “That’s something you want to have at the quarterback position.”

Absent-minded — While Carr has moved on to Carolina, another tarnished young quarterback, Byron Leftwich, isn’t helping his reputation in Jacksonville. He didn’t attend the offseason program after missing 16 of 33 games with injuries the past two years.

“Our guys can go to some people that do training protocols that actually predispose them to injuries,” Jaguars strength coach Mark Asanovich told the Florida Times-Union. “We have problems and issues with those types of trainers.”

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