Mon Feb 6 10:09am ET
By TERRY TANG
The Philadelphia Eagles plane lands ahead of Super Bowl 57 NFL football game, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, in Phoenix. The Kansas City Chiefs will play the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
PHOENIX (AP) Former NFL player Jim Bob Morris is heading to the Super Bowl in Phoenix from Bloomington, Illinois, in a newly refurbished set of wheels. His ride has new paint, new seating and even a new bathroom.
Morris, who played for the Green Bay Packers, Houston Oilers and was even with the Kansas City Chiefs briefly, is CEO of several companies including Morris Packaging and El Bandido Yankee tequila. He and seven other executives will arrive at Scottsdale Airport on Tuesday on the company's Cessna Citation Excel. The midsize jet has chairs that recline far enough for comfortable sleep. There are tables and internet so that everyone can pull out laptops and cellphones to work. Morris plans to fill in as the flight attendant and serve everyone.
''I know where everything's at,'' Morris said, chuckling. ''I know where the vodka is at. I know where the El Bandido is at. We actually do serve other spirits other than just El Bandido - if anybody has the courage to order it.''
Private jet-setters are the reason every Super Bowl comes with super-size air traffic. Officials expect over 1,000 additional planes to descend on metropolitan Phoenix's eight airports and beyond this week for the matchup between the Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles as well as the Phoenix Open, which wraps up on the same day. Many of them will be carrying entertainers, sports figures and corporate VIPs who don't have to deal with long security lines or cramped coach seats. Instead they'll be sitting back eating filet mignon and imbibing. Even with the expected long line of airplane departures after the game and high airport fees, some say nothing beats the convenience.
More than 4,000 additional takeoffs and landings and nearly 1,100 additional aircraft parked at Phoenix-area airports are expected during Super Bowl week, according to the FAA. Over 1,000 additional takeoffs and landings are anticipated at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport during the weekend, said Heather Shelbrack, an airport spokeswoman. Compare that to February 2022 when there were nearly 2,000 aviation operations total for the month.
Scottsdale Airport, which is closest to the course where the Phoenix Open is played, is expecting a huge turnout, airport spokeswoman Sarah Ferrara said. She had no estimate on how many more planes would be present this week. But in 2015 - when Phoenix last hosted the Super Bowl - there were 1,189 operations during the weekend.
All reservations for arrival and departure times are handled through fixed-base operators at the airports. It's imperative travelers don't miss reserved time slot since so many flights are scheduled out. And on a high-traffic periods like right after the game, the takeoff fees for private planes can be sky-high. That's why Morris plans to leave early next week rather than be caught in the ''air show'' of nonstop departures Sunday and Monday.
Morris played in the NFL in the '80s and actually started out as a free agent with the Chiefs but was released due to injury. But he's not coming just to cheer them on. He also is attending two dozen events for El Bandido for Super Bowl and the Phoenix Open. The company's ambassadors include former Chiefs players Bill Maas and Dino Hackett. Nick Lowery, former Chiefs placekicker. is a minority owner.
Flying privately is the way Morris typically does business. In the past year alone, he has logged over 400 hours of travel on one of his company's three planes.
''People think it's sexy and there's certain elements of it that can be,'' Morris said. ''So, my deal is about compressing time.''
For some travelers, the luxury and perks are the appeal. Ion Jets, a brokerage firm that acts as an agent for members looking for private flights, has received over 175 inquiries for Super Bowl weekend. They don't stop at just booking the flight, said CEO Todd Spitzer.
For example, a longtime client and current NFL player will be flying on a Gulfstream Jet with seven family members. Since his birthday is around that time, his favorite foods - filet mignon and lobster tails - will be served. They've even booked the family a house in the posh Phoenix suburb of Paradise Valley with a private chef.
Ion does not own or operate any aircraft. They work with a network of 5,000 aircraft globally, Spitzer said.
''If somebody owns an aircraft and its ability to be chartered, we keep it busy and we help people who own aircraft offset the cost of their ownership,'' Spitzer said. ''It's not just the flight. From ground transportation, hotels, catering, we're setting up people right now for Shaq's Fun House ... it's ground-to-air concierge.''
Since the pandemic, Spitzer has noticed more interest in private aviation. It might have been out of fear of COVID-19 in the beginning. But now, they are driven by other issues like the wave of cancellations that hit Southwest Airlines in December.
''We've seen just a huge change in the reason why people are flying privately. It used to be mostly for ease and convenience,'' Spitzer said. ''And it still is, but it's actually turned into more of a necessity now.''
Private jets have come under more scrutiny in recent months by climate change advocates after a highly publicized unofficial study of celebrity travel. One reason it's so concerning is that an airplane can produce higher amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, which linger in the air for literally hundreds of years, according to Sonja Klinsky, an associate professor at Arizona State University's School of Sustainability. On a private aircraft where there are fewer people, the emissions per person will be higher.
So, a rising demand for private aviation is ''exactly the wrong trend if we're worried about climate change.''
''If we have limited atmospheric space, what kinds of activities are we as a society willing to use our limited emissions for? That is a complicated and very important question,'' Klinsky said.
Interview with TFC Winner
According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, the Jets have no plans on trading quarterback Zach Wilson. The 23-year-old was taken No. 2 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft and has appeared in 22 games for the club. Throughout his tenure in New York, Wilson has struggled, amassing 4,022 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions while completing only 55.2% of his throws. However, the Jets believe Wilson can be a quality signal-caller, although the team still intends to acquire a veteran quarterback with the hope he'll develop along the way.
Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (toe) suffered a dislocated toe during the Pro Bowl Games on Sunday. The 27-year-old had a terrific season, finishing with a career-high 60 total tackles and 16 sacks. Fortunately, the 2023-24 campaign is a ways away, so Garrett should be good to go barring a significant setback.
San Francisco 49ers impending free-agent S Jimmie Ward is likely a player that the 49ers will want to re-sign this offseason, but he may be too expensive for the team to bring back, in the opinion of NinersWire's Nicholas McGee.
Cleveland Browns DE Myles Garrett (toe) is believed to have suffered a dislocated toe during the Pro Bowl Sunday, Feb. 5, according to a source. X-rays on the toe were negative.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Leonard Fournette is a candidate to be released this offseason because the team would save around $3.5 million in salary cap space if they move on from Fournette.
Fantasy Spin: Fournette posted 1,191 total yards this past season, but the team may want to go with Rachaad White as their main back moving forward. Fournette should be part of a committee for a team next season but probably will not be a weekly fantasy option.
New England Patriots S Devin McCourty (shoulder) underwent shoulder surgery after the season, according to sources.
Detroit Lions safety Tracy Walker (Achilles) said on his personal Twitter account that he will be ready to take part in organized team activities this offseason. Walker tore his Achilles in September and missed the rest of the 2022 season. The 28-year-old might be being a little optimistic about taking part in organized team activities, but it's a good sign that his rehab is going well. We'll have to monitor how much Walker does this offseason and through training camp this summer, but it sounds like he will at least have a realistic chance to be ready for the start of the 2023 campaign, which would be a big boost to Detroit's secondary. Walker played in only three games in 2022 before tearing his Achilles.
Former Washington Commanders offensive coordinator Scott Turner is joining Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels' coaching staff with an elevated passing-game role, according to sources. The 40-year-old was the Commanders' offensive coordinator for the last three years before he was fired on Jan. 10. Washington's offense ranked 20th in total offense, 21st in passing offense and 24th in scoring in 2022. Turner was a backup quarterback at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas in 2003 and 2004 and still has a Vegas area code for his phone number. He's the son of long-time former NFL offensive coordinator and head coach Norv Turner. The biggest question for the Raiders heading into next season will be the QB position.
The Denver Broncos have requested permission to speak with Pittsburgh Steelers assistant head coach/linebackers coach Brian Flores and Seattle Seahawks secondary coach Sean Desai for their vacant defensive coordinator position. With former defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero not returning in 2023, the Broncos need to fill the role. Desai has withdrawn from consideration for the Minnesota Vikings' defensive coordinator job after interviewing last week. Flores came up as a defensive coordinator in the NFL and also has experience as a head coach with the Miami Dolphins for several seasons. The Broncos defense already has a pretty solid foundation in place after the 2022 season despite losing key pass-rushers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb in recent seasons.
The Dallas Cowboys have hired Brian Schottenheimer as their offensive coordinator, according to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News. The team needed to fill the vacancy after firing Kellen Moore. Schottenheimer most recently served as a Cowboys consultant in 2022 but does have experience as an offensive coordinator, filling that same role for the Seahawks from 2018 to 2020. Interestingly, although Schottenheimer will be in charge of the offense, head coach Mike McCarthy intends to call plays next season.
Las Vegas Raiders impending free agent running back Josh Jacobs "wants to be back but won't settle," according to Tashan Reed of The Athletic. There is mutual interest in keeping Jacobs in Las Vegas long-term, but the reigning rushing champion won't come cheap. Jacobs timed everything just right, compiling impressive stats in a contract year. The 24-year-old ultimately finished 2022 with 1,653 rushing yards, 400 receiving yards, and 12 touchdowns, all of which are career-highs. Jacobs' outlook for next season is contingent on where he signs, but if he does return to Vegas, we can consider him a strong RB1 option heading into fantasy football drafts.
Cincinnati Bengals CB Chidobe Awuzie (knee) said he is not sure about when he will be able to return from his torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Minnesota Vikings LB Za'Darius Smith is a candidate to be released this offseason because the team would save more than $12 million in salary cap space if they cut Smith.
Miami Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki is not expected to re-sign with the team in 2023, the Miami Herald's Daniel Oyefusi wrote on Friday, Feb. 3.
Fantasy Spin: No surprise here, as Gesicki was badly underutilized in Miami's offense, which asks its tight ends to block a lot, something that isn't exactly his strong suit. However, the veteran tight end is one of the better receiving threats at his position in the NFL when used properly and could return to TE1 status in 2023 if he finds the right situation. He's a definite hold in dynasty formats, as his value is pretty low at the moment.
University of Texas running back Bijan Robinson is widely considered to be the best prospect at his position in the 2023 NFL Draft class. Although a running back has not been selected higher than pick 24 since Saquon Barkley in 2018, ESPN's Mel Kiper stated that he believes Robinson will be drafted in the first round. Kiper went on to describe Robinson as "top-10 caliber" in this year's draft. The 21-year-old possesses an elite three-down skillset, posting 3,410 rushing yards, 60 receptions, 805 receiving yards, and 41 total touchdowns in his three collegiate seasons. Robinson figures to make an immediate impact on any team willing to spend up to get him on April 27th.
Dynasty | Zach Wilson will likely remain with the Jets organization in hopes that he can develop in a backup role Dynasty Analysis: The article plainly points out that the Jets have exactly two choices: 1) Release him or, 2) Keep him; Wilson has no trade value. With a very palatable $3.8M expense for 2023, there's little reason for the team to move on and Wilson, for his part, appears determine to get better. There's a big difference between NFL reality and fantasy reality. A veteran backup would also exceed the cost of Wilson. He's been so bad under-center and without blue skies on the horizon, he's a difficult hold in dynasty. Amazingly, Wilson still possesses a QB25 ranking but is in steep decline and he'll likely fall as the quarterback situation in New York becomes more clear. At this juncture, Zach Wilson is a fading dynasty asset and, arguably, may only be a roster candidate in deeper dynasty leagues.
The Las Vegas Raiders have granted QB Derek Carr permission to speak with NFL teams that have already agreed to compensation that the Raiders are looking for in a potential trade for the quarterback, according to multiple sources.
Fantasy Spin: Earlier this week, Carr said he does not plan to extend the Feb. 15 trigger date on his contract, when he would automatically become eligible to receive more than $40 million in guaranteed money. If a trade is not agreed upon by then, there is a good chance that he could be released. Carr should be able to find a starting job next season regardless of where he lands and can be viewed as a No. 2 quarterback option for 2023 fantasy leagues.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith is fresh off a career-best season and is now in pursuit of a long-term contract as a pending free agent. It has been reported for a few weeks that the Seahawks are expected to bring the 32-year-old back, and the two sides have begun negotiations since falling to the San Francisco 49ers in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. "It's looking very good," Smith said of his contract discussions with Seattle on Pro Bowl Live on SiriusXM NFL Radio. Smith also stated that he has a great relationship with the organization and loves the city. Assuming talks continue trending in a positive direction, a deal is likely to get done before March 15th, when free agency officially begins.
San Francisco 49ers impending free-agent PK Robbie Gould said he has no plans to retire because he has some career goals he wants to achieve.
Seattle Seahawks impending free-agent QB Geno Smith said he has started contract talks with the Seahawks and is happy with the progress the two sides are making.
Fantasy Spin: It seems likely that Smith will be the starting quarterback for the Seahawks next season. He posted very good numbers this past season but may only be a low-end No. 1 quarterback or high-end No. 2 quarterback in fantasy leagues in 2023.