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Sunday NFL Thoughts: Stadiums, Salaries, and Smacktalk

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Rich Hill shares his thoughts on the NFL and this past week.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

1. The Green Bay Packers held a Packers Hall of Fame induction ceremony for quarterback Brett Favre, one of the most exciting players to ever step on the field. The franchise also retired Favre's number 4 jersey. There are reports of 67,000 people in attendance. Favre is eligible for the NFL Hall of Fame in 2016 and is a first ballot lock. One of my earliest football memories is of Favre in the 1996 Super Bowl against the Patriots, where he threw for two touchdowns and ran in another. He played for the love of the game and his consecutive games streak of 321 straight starts will never be broken. Congratulations on a fantastic career.

2. Remember how the NFL official was fired for taking footballs from the Patriots-Colts AFC Championship game, and how that was kind of swept under the rug? Well, a legitimate football from the game (handed to a fan by Brandon LaFellwent for $43,740 at an auction. That's crazy. That's wild. That's insane, especially because nothing has been proven. The ball at the auction went for a crazy price because it was from a game that more likely than not had nothing happen. Yeesh.

3. As the Patriots give kicker Stephen Gostkowski an NFL record contract for a kicker (and the Patriots are known for their record setting contracts), it is often noted that he replaced Adam Vinatieri, who is still kicking with the Colts. Vinatieri is entering his 10th season with the Colts, after spending ten season with the Patriots. While players don't enter the Hall of Fame wearing a team's jersey, it's very likely that Vinatieri will retire with more seasons on the Colts than with the Patriots. That's difficult to wrap my head around.

4. Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall said that Kyle Orton was the best quarterback he's ever played with:

Uncle Rico isn't the most visually appealing quarterback, but Marshall ranked him over the likes of Jake Plummer, Jay Cutler, Chad Henne, and Josh McCown. Marshall played with Orton in 2009, the wide receiver's final year with the Broncos. He has a self-proclaimed bromance with Cutler, but that didn't help the Bears starting quarterback in the rankings. Ouch.

5. The NFL Players Association used their leverage of the courts to get contracts for Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant. Both receivers were under the franchise tag, and the Cowboys and Broncos were under investigation for collusion to keep down the salaries of both receivers. The NFLPA said they would drop the investigation if the players received their contracts prior to the Wednesday deadline. Both players signed 5-year, $70 million contracts. The NFLPA won't be pursuing the collusion investigation, even though the players received extremely similar price points- they were both roughly around Calvin Johnson's guaranteed money in his megacontract. Pursuing the collusion charges would have had major repercussions because it would void the current Collective Bargaining Agreement and could have led to another lockout. That was never going to happen.

6. The Chiefs signed edge rusher Justin Houston to a 6-year, $101 million deal, and the Steelers signed defensive tackle Cameron Heyward to a 6-year, $59.25 million contract. Over the past two offseasons, 22 non-quarterbacks have signed contracts valued at $50 million or greater. 18 of those players have been on the defensive side of the ball (the four offensive players: Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith, Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin). Eighteen. As defenders get their due, it will be more and more difficult to retain all three of Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins, and Chandler Jones. The top linebacker contracts are still just receiving roughly $7.5-8.5 million per season. The top edge defenders are receiving closer to double- $14.2-16.8 million per season. Two for the price of one. We know what Bill Belichick will favor.

Editor's Note: Miguel from Patscap wants us to note that these franchise tags go by linebacker and defensive end, and not by edge defender and linebacker. A 3-4 outside linebacker gets franchise tagged as a linebacker, which is roughly $2 million less than the franchise tag for a 4-3 defensive end.

7. HBO's John Oliver ripped publicly funded stadiums, on the grounds that the terms to finance the stadiums heavily favor the team owners. This is true- and this is why locales that host the Olympics are generally ruined in the long term. We talk about Robert Kraft being one of the great owners in the NFL and it turns out, he passes the test on this qualification as well. It turns out that Boston is the only city in professional sports where all of the stadiums are privately owned: Fenway is owned by the Red Sox, the Bruins own the Garden (and the Celtics pay rent and live on the couch), and Robert Kraft privately funded the construction of Gillette Stadium. Yes, the state funded roughly $72 million in state infrastructure (roads and the such), but the remainder was funded by Kraft and the NFL.

The NFL loans a maximum of $150 million to their owners to help build new venues, which is repaid by club seating revenues. New York's joint MetLife Stadium is the only stadium built since 1997 that is 100% privately funded. New England's Gillette Stadium and Washington's FedEx Field only received infrastructure funding. Every other field required an increase in local taxes or other forms of public funding.