I'll have a few quick hits before completely diving into today's e-mail, but first a cardiologist speaks from the heart:
"I understand that football is an incredibly physically demanding sport. But to imply that playing football seven days in a row in May for these world-class athletes is too much to ask is a bit of a stretch. I naturally respect your opinion. But this is 'work' for them, just like it is for you and me. No one should expect less than their dedication and respect for their profession. If you and I can do it, so can they. Appreciate your work. It is beyond excellent.''
Thank you, Dr. Abrol. I made this point about players and coaches for this reason: We're getting to the point in the NFL where the physical demands in the offseason -- at least in my opinion -- are going beyond the pale. Players would naturally do a good job taking care of themselves year-round, and if they didn't, it'd be reflected in their future paychecks and job opportunities.
Most players are asked to do the mandatory/voluntary workouts starting in early March, and most go at it pretty hard 'til around the Fourth of July. These are not just running and lifting sessions. There isn't supposed to be contact, but teams live on the edge of that every year, and last week, vital Jaguars defensive lineman
I've heard from a lot of people on this topic, and almost all of you agree with Dr. Abrol, so I understand I'm in the minority. I just think players (and assistant coaches too; don't forget they're losing more and more of their "offseason'' each year) are being asked to do more and more every year, and for what good purpose? It's such a labor-intensive and demanding game. I'm not sure four to five months of hard work in the offseason does anything but ensure you're simply keeping up with the rest of the crowd.
• Several of you asked, and rightfully so, why I didn't ask
"That's really not up to me. I never failed a drug test. I told the truth, the commissioner did the research ... I never used it to enhance my performance. I used it to get myself better at one particular time [to speed his recovery from injury] ... That [how it factors into the Hall discussion] is not up for me to decide. It's up to others.
"It's funny because a lot people who haven't played the game sit back and decide if you're a Hall of Famer. If you don't know what a football player goes through, if you haven't experienced it, then why should those guys solely have it on their shoulders to decide who goes in the Hall of Fame? Overall, I admitted to what I've done. I've had an opportunity to talk to kids and said when you've made a huge mistake or a small mistake, admit to it, 'fess up to it, be a man about it and get better from it. That's what I've done.''
• Re: the pregame show excess of bodies on the set: Many of you, on Twitter and via e-mail, said you felt the problem with the NBC show is it should be a highlight show, that you miss the simpler
Did you know, for instance, that NBC cannot show any highlights until 7:15 p.m.? The league wants the final games of the afternoon to be finished, or nearly finished, before highlights commence on the Sunday night pregame show. There was never a night in the past three years, with a normal schedule being played, of less than 30 minutes of highlights on the Sunday show. If you consider everything else that has to go in a show, with all those commercials, and if you consider that one of the complaints we'd get on the show is that people have already seen the highlights from the early games, I believe the tightrope NBC walked was a good one. (Of course, I worked on the show, so I'm not at all impartial.)
The aim of the show, I think, is to try to show you what happened and to try to explain why, and to try to hit the newsiest items coming out of the day's games ... while promoing and reporting on the big game coming up at 8:15.
• The NFL is refuting the assertion by NFL Players Association executive director
I'm told by a league official that the NFL does have the option to reduce payouts to retired players in an uncapped year, but there is no requirement to do so. "We have never said that we intend to reduce funding for disability benefits ... and the union has not raised this issue with us,'' the spokesman said.
Any decision on this is a ways off, I'm told. In addition, with the strides Commissioner
The response from the union today -- Smith is in San Diego preparing to meet with the Chargers players -- came via NFLPA director of benefits
• Finally, I'll be doing a couple of meet-and-greets while on the NFL camp trail in late July or August. Tweetups, I think they're called. Candidate spots for them, and please let me know which you favor: Albany, N.Y., State College, Pa., Indianapolis; Denver; Bourbonnais, Ill.; New Orleans or Kansas City.
Convenience will dictate the decisions on which to choose, to some degree, and my ability to set aside a couple of hours will play a part, too. But send in your vote here, or, more conveniently, to
Now for some of your other e-mail:
Thanks a lot, Mike. The biggest problem with "headline news'' coverage of the NFL, especially as it relates to other sports, is that football is the hardest sport to simplify. That's what I worry about.
I answered some of those points up top, and I think the TV industry might be a little too focused on packing 15 pounds of stuff into a 10-pound bag, as you say. I guess I look at what each person adds to the show. Take Fox, for example. I think the weather thing is absurd, but understandable because of the cheesecake factor. I think
Post-draft, sometimes I may get a little too baseballish, because I grew up in it and love it. I never promised that this column would be all football, and when I come across the
Very good. Nice point. You're right.
Of course, I could have gone with
And people, let me tell you something about DeCosta: He's as New England as they come. Born in Taunton, 19 miles from Providence. Educated at Colby in Maine, then at Trinity in Hartford. To think the sign fooled him is giving me hope I'm not a total doofus.