I've thoroughly enjoyed watching and listening to
In an age when players can't say goodbye and mean it --
"When I made my decision to retire, I made my decision to retire," Harrison, the former Patriots and Chargers safety, said in a conference call. "I want to walk away from the game. There is a point in time when we all have to walk away from the game, and I just thought it would be very disrespectful for me to come back and forth and not make my decision.
"I am done, and I am very much so at peace with that. Football has been good to me. I respect people in the National Football League enough not to put them on this joy ride -- the back and forth, the ups and downs of am I coming back [or] will I not come back? I am done.''
If that wasn't an anti-Favre shot across the bow, I don't know what in the world would qualify. It makes me eager to hear Harrison in his new role as an NBC studio analyst on Sunday nights, because my experience with him tells me he's not going to be one of those ex-players who sugarcoats his words on TV in order to maintain all his close, personal friendships around the league. Harrison never played with much subtlety, and I don't think he'll tip-toe in analyzing the game either.
I'm not talking about bashing for bashing's sake, but about having something meaningful and thoughtful to say, and being unafraid to say it, no matter whom it might perturb. I've always respected Harrison's penchant for honesty in an NFL locker room setting -- even in New England, where the walls have ears and nothing escapes Big Brother's notice (or someone else with those same initials). He's one of those rare players who just gets it. He understands the game and his place in it. Fifth-round picks, after all, aren't supposed to last 15 seasons in the NFL.
"As a player in the National Football League, it's not about you," Harrison said, expressing a sentiment that, sadly, few players understand. "This is a game where you can get caught up in self-analysis, self-promotion. But it's not about you. It's about giving back along the way and really helping someone along the way, impacting and influencing someone's life. That's the greatest satisfaction I got from playing in the National Football League."
Good luck, Sir Rodney. Here's hoping the world of TV and retirement fit you at least half as well as shoulder pads and a helmet did. And watch out, current NFL players. If you're not careful, Harrison will still be capable of leveling you from the blind side.
• Let's skip the sky-is-falling routine over the news Eagles running back
-- Westbrook turns 30 on Sept. 2, and history shows that's around when NFL running backs start to hit the wall physically. Somebody start the countdown clock in Philly.
-- Westbrook missed some playing time last year with both ankle and knee injuries, and most of his numbers fell considerably short of his All-Pro 2007 season, when he led the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 2,104. The beginning of the end always has to start somewhere.
-- Now it's even more obvious why the Eagles drafted Pitt running back
• Some members of my own family seethe at the thought of seeing
As sad and grisly as the story was, Vick's deep involvement wound up being a godsend to anti-dog-fighting efforts. It assured nationwide attention, and that attention ultimately saved the lives of many of Vick's dogs plus countless others around the country who would not have cracked the public radar otherwise.
Vick's fall from grace could well serve as the tipping point that eventually eradicates dog-fighting in the United States, and that's a pretty big silver lining in a very disturbing and painful story. Vick's continued prominence will do more to end dog-fighting than any other steps could by keeping the issue alive in our woefully short national attention span.
Blocking Vick's return to the NFL and forcing him to disappear might make his many critics feel better, but it won't necessarily save more dogs. Let him resume his career and become the foremost advocate of anti-dog fighting efforts, whether or not he's sincere. Most great movements boast an identifiable public face, and for better or worse, Vick's will forever be linked to this hot-button issue.
• Speaking of Vick, I can't help but marvel at how rapidly the football fates have turned for both he and fellow quarterback
Now, as one waits out his NFL exile -- which may or may not end this summer -- the other's career remains in limbo with the team that once considered him its savior.
No matter how much Young's agent spins the story and practices the art of damage control, there was absolutely nothing ambiguous about what Young told that Baltimore TV station this week. He quite clearly said he wants a legitimate shot at earning back his starting job from
"Definitely I want to be in there playing ball and picking up where I left off, winning games and having a good time with my teammates and fans," Young said. "But at the same time, if them guys don't want me in there, it's time for me to make a career change for myself. The fact is, I'm ready to play ball, and if they're not ready for me to play ball, somebody is."
Why do I get the distinct feeling the VY saga in Tennessee will get worse before it gets better? If you ask me whether
• Gotta love all the moves this time of year.
Given that both Gruden and Dungy will now be on TV rather than the sidelines, ex-Bucs head coaches-turned NFL analysts has become a thriving sub-set of the game.
• I have to admit, though, I'm a bit surprised NBC hired Dungy, because I really didn't see the soft-spoken ex-coach going the NFL analyst route in retirement. He certainly wouldn't fit into the just-one-of-the-guys high jinks
But don't underestimate Dungy's chances to succeed in TV. From what I know, Dungy rarely fails for long.
• I've probably written something similar about 20 times, but I always chuckle at the NFL coverage this time of year that focuses on some rookie coming on strong in his attempts to win a starting job. Based, of course, on little more than how that rookie has looked so far in mini-camp, or offseason workouts.
A recent case in point: Detroit quarterback
And for that matter, after the Lions picked Stafford first overall in the draft, it'd be an upset of sorts if veteran QB
• If the Rams really do wind up moving back to Southern California, it'll mean the franchise went from L.A. to St. Louis to L.A. That would allow Los Angeles to have seen it from both sides now, given that the Raiders went from Oakland to Los Angeles to Oakland in the 1980s and '90s. Rams defensive end
• And while we're at it, how come the NFL is snubbing the Los Angeles Chargers this season? As part of the league's upcoming tribute to the AFL's 50th anniversary, the original eight AFL teams will play in 16 "legacy games," in which they'll wear 1960s-era throwback uniforms.
In all the news releases, the NFL has noted four of the original AFL teams were founded under different names. The Patriots were known as the Boston Patriots, the Titans as the Houston Oilers, the Chiefs as the Dallas Texans and the Jets as the New York Titans. But there's no mention that the Chargers played in L.A. for their first season, in 1960.
Why? Because traffic on I-5 wasn't all that difficult back then?
• I didn't get a chance to say it last week, but
• He didn't tweet it, but I take it Jacksonville head coach