I'm mostly going off Favre watch for a week (I can just feel the disappointment out there) to talk about some other quarterbacks,
Not to be preachy, but in the IM/texting/twitterization of America, I'm going to give you five superb summer options, including the most vivid, riveting war book of our time. I'm not a history buff, but I'm a huge fan of books that put you in the middle of something historical, and you simply have to read
A lone paragraph on Favre first: He'll be on HBO tonight with
Now for a fairly quiet news week, for once.
Due $9.2 million this year and $10 million next year before the deal dissolved, McNabb had $5.2 million added to the next two years. That's it. As for the buzz over the past three months that McNabb was demanding a new deal, Banner contends it never happened.
"Donovan was great,'' Banner said. "It was never even remotely threatening with Donovan and [agent]
Banner said it took six or seven conversations with Smith to get done. The reason it hadn't been done earlier is because McNabb, from 2002 to 2006, missed 20 games due to injury, and the Eagles just didn't know if he could stay healthy. With McNabb missing two games over the past two years, the time was right to be fair to him.
Let's look at the quarterbacks picked in the top five of the last two years --
Now, Ryan and Stafford both got picked higher than Sanchez. That's a factor. But it's interesting this deal got done now, when there wasn't any pressure to get a deal done, rather than five weeks from now on the verge of camp, when the Jets might have been forced to pay more.
"I've been staring at that mountain since I was a kid,''
The climbing schedule would sound hellish for a world-class athlete, never mind a 50-year-old commissioner. On the morning of July 7, the climbers will trek to about 10,000 feet, set up tent, and sleep until about midnight. Then, beginning shortly after midnight, they'll attempt to go the final 4,400 feet in about eight hours and later make the much-quicker trek back down. The final 9,000 feet encompass about eight miles of climbing, and at that altitude, sickness, vertigo and nausea are not only possible, they're common.
But a year ago, before
Seattle fell from 15th to 30th in team defense from 2007 to '08, surrendering 66 yards a game more last year then the previous year. New coach Jim Mora has put the D in the hands of a firecracker assistant,
"I feel very good about the direction of our defense,'' said Mora, "and I feel great about Gus Bradley. I sit in all the defensive meetings, and when they're over, it's like, 'We've been in here 45 minutes? I thought it was 10 or 15.' He's a dynamic teacher. Captivating.''
Early on, Bradley knows he's going to have to get top pick
I asked Mora for a couple of defensive players who'd stood out in the offseason, and he said
Look for Bradley to bring some of the principles of Tampa Bay's classic two-deep coverage to Seattle, only with more aggression. He'll blitz more than
A few years ago, I began highlighting some books the week before Father's Day, hoping to give you an alternative to the tie or the dozen golf balls for the man who has 300 of each. This year, I've scaled it back to five books -- books I can heartily endorse because I think every one is special.
I'm concerned about how little I've read the last few years. Maybe it's e-mail, maybe it's the voluminous easy sites that magnetize you to them four or five times a day when 10 or 15 years ago I'd have sat down and read something of substance. I'll pick up the latest
I've picked one about the searing brutality of war, one thriller, one story of a little-engine-that-could high school football program in Michigan, one cautionary tale about trying to cover up a horrible mistake, and one spell-binding story I will never forget, about the death of a minor-league coach struck by a foul ball.
I'd love to hear from you about the books if you pick up one or two of them. I'll run your responses on my first Tuesday column back from vacation, July 21. In no particular order, here are the MMQB Summer Five:
It chronicles the story of the worst defeat in American military history through the eyes and emotions of young Montana soldier
There is nothing anywhere like a book that transports you from the chair you're sitting in reading the book back to the time and place and into the heads of those who felt the story.
"... a burst of blinding white, a sharp, painful crack! Followed by an enormous rip, a tearing of the air, then, finally, a deep shudder in the ground, the earth set atremble. A bomb blast is lethal science, fluid mechanics meant to maim. First, the shock wave, a surge of air that hits a man like a wall of wind, hits him so hard his cerebrum starts to shake concussively in his skull, swelling at first, then hemorrhaging, rivulets of blood running from his nose and ears ... The atmosphere turns hot and dense, high pressure sucking the low pressure from every recess around it, from a man's lungs and ears and eye sockets, leaving him gasping for breath and fighting the feeling his pupils are being pulled from their eye sockets.''
The temptation in a war book is to make one side full of good guys and the other side the bad guys, and the Normans could be forgiven for making the Japanese the bad guys in this war story. You'll see why; the Japanese atrocities still make my stomach turn even now, a couple of weeks after reading the book. But the Normans made the Japanese soldiers as human as the Americans, writing that on the morning of one attack, Japanese lieutenant
I mean, wow. It's like that for 398 pages.
LaMarche tells the story of
Teenage problems at home, problems at school and problems with friends are nothing new in life or in fiction. But in the hands of LaMarche, the story is fresh and vivid and the characters feel real. Watching Teddy's life unravel is painful, believable and tragic. As a friendly cop tries to advise him: "I've seen other boys like you, Ted -- boys who never get it and they just keep screwing up and screwing up, just like you're doing now. If you don't come clean, you don't have a chance. I know it."
Anyone who's ever screwed up will understand Teddy's unraveling and his brave struggle to get back to the truth. A smart read and a compelling tale.
So when I heard he was writing a football book, I figured it'd be good. Maybe something about the Cowboys, or the old teams he covered in Kansas City. But then I heard it was a high school story, about his old football team in Detroit. St. Ambrose High is a city school, and its story of greatness two generations ago bears retelling. Gosselin does it vividly.
St. Ambrose was the
There are some things that can happen only in high school, like the bus ride home from a winning road game for St. Ambrose. A block away from the school, the team would sing the school fight song. Pulling up to the school, most of the parish, plus the nuns, plus the priests, plus three-quarters of the student body, would be there to welcome home the team, loudly. "Then the players would troop that half block up Hampton for the final prayer of the night -- and the week -- at the church steps,'' Gosselin writes.
That's the feel you get from the book -- a community with football and the parish as the glue, as so many communities in America were in the last 50 years.
The book alternates between the lives of Coolbaugh and
But the redemptive quality of the story is also powerful. The family forgives Tino Sanchez almost instantly, something that may have saved his life. The parent Colorado Rockies brought Coolbaugh's two boys to Denver to throw out dual first pitches at their playoff opener that fall -- then gave the family a full playoff share of some $230,000, even though Coolbaugh had been working for the organization for just 18 games. Price hasn't written a good book here. It's a great book.
This is my first of this series of Jack Reacher books -- he's the tough-guy, genius-type who solves every crime-drama known to man -- and I plan to read more.
"When we were looking at taking Mark, I studied all the great generals to see what those men were like early in their careers, see how they reacted. It's all about how they reacted in battle, what happened when the action was really live. You see that in Mark, his calm.''
I realize you get excited about your players, particularly about the man you believe is the next long-term quarterback in franchise history, but that is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard an owner say. I can name 300 quarterbacks lauded as great leaders with terrific field presence who have come out of college football in the 25 years I've covered the NFL.
In fact, if a quarterback WASN'T a strong leader with a good presence about him, he shouldn't have been picked high in the first round. If indeed Johnson "studied all the great generals,'' and looked for traits of Sanchez in them, I hope he kept his thoughts to himself. The following quarterbacks in recent years have been well-respected by teammates, calm when the action began and renowned as terrific leaders:
I remember being in Washington the day
One man's opinion: You don't help your rookie quarterback in the largest city in the U.S. by building him up as some combo platter of
"It would be incredibly tough. I know when you're at the end of the 16-game schedule, it's a super grind. Through the middle there you're really sluggish. Toward the end, when you're working toward the playoffs, you can pick it up. The thing I would worry about is the compounding effect of adding two extra full-speed games where you're in there the whole time ...
"You have to think of player's life in the league, which is short enough as it is, and obviously we want to keep that the same or make that longer. Adding two extra games adds probably more potential for injury because you're tired, the body's not quite firing as it was Week 1 or 2. Toward the end of the season, there's probably more injuries and you add two extra weeks, it's going to be tough to get through the playoffs with anything resembling a regular roster."
"Do the Colts wake up every morning and go, whew -- look how close we came to taking
Picked No. 2 in the 1998 draft behind
Comparing the rookie contracts of Joe Namath and Mark Sanchez, 45 years apart for the New York Jets:
Part of the value of Namath's contract was jobs for his three brothers and a brother-in-law, and a new car. Namath's average compensation per year was one-70th Sanchez's average pay.
MMQB hero of the month
So how much did throwing his 169-pitch outing against Boston College, with 12-and-one-third no-hit innings, have to do with it? It helped, but Detroit assistant director of amateur scouting
"He's an interesting player,'' Orr said. "He showed unbelievable guts and poise in that game, pitching the 13 innings. Our area scout,
Texas began play in the College World Series on Sunday night. I wouldn't expect it to be a very long negotiating process for Wood to reach an agreement with the Tigers after the series.
You want to know a nightmare for every business traveler. It's this recent headline in the
Delta and Continental, too, are raising the number of seats in economy to 160. The seats are being made smaller and thinner, and the airlines are saying the "seat pitch'' will be such that you won't notice the reduction in space in coach.
Yeah, right. What I say is I'm flying JetBlue as much as possible this summer and fall. The
1. I think the more Tennessee's
That's not the first time I've heard Young talk about not wanting to play football anymore. When he missed the plane to Philadelphia as a rookie and got disciplined by coach
2. I think you're going to see an announcement soon that
So Millen, assuming the NFL Network agrees to the deal, will work Saturday college games (I hear with either
You might ask why ESPN agreed to allow Millen to do the Thursday night games and beat himself up by giving himself three separate jobs, at least in November. Good question. I'm told it's because he really wanted the Thursday night gig and wouldn't have been a happy ESPN camper had he gotten turned down.
3. I think
4. I think, speaking of quarterback "controversies,'' did anyone really expect
5. I think it will be downright insane if somehow, some way,
6. I think this is a very slippery slope for Roger Goodell. He's on record as being opposed to discipline for a first-time offender until that offender has his case adjudicated in a court of law. So on the surface, he seems bound to have to give Burress his day in court before bouncing him. The mitigating factor here is that it's such an open-and-shut case; Burress has never argued he didn't possess the gun, and he has never argued he didn't fire the gun. But if Goodell lives by his precedent, he'll let Burress play until he's tried. I'm not trying to be a cop here. I'm just saying this continuance for Burress, on all sides, might be legally justifiable. But it stinks. That's the only word for it -- it stinks. The team that makes the most sense for Burress is the Jets, because New York clearly would be the place Burress could tend to both professional and judicial matters the easiest.
7. I think the
8. I think I knew it was getting to be summer vacation for football players yesterday when, after 1 in the afternoon,
9. I think the next interesting football-related journalistic battle line might be how many clicks NBCSports.com can take away from the field by acquiring profootballtalk.com. Today, NBC will announce it has reached a deal with PFT that will allow the site to exclusively license its content to NBCSports.com.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. I must be un-American. I hate
c. What a bullpen the Red Sox have. The other night against the mighty Phils, with
d. Have you noticed a lot of baseball players look like they're wearing pajamas, not form-fitting uniforms?
e. Amazing but true in Saturday's
f. How on God's green earth can Washington cut Americorps? It's one of the best federal motivators for kids out of college to give a year of their lives to volunteer with some of the neediest agencies and people in our country. Wake up, Washington.
g. How does
h. Great hustle,
i. Coffeenerdness: Settled into a good routine here in Boston at night, working or TV-watching in the last couple of weeks before vacation, and brewing a small pot of Peet's Major Dickason's Blend decaf. That's some great coffee. Sounds like the script for a commercial.
"So you know I was a Drill Sergeant for three years and a Drill Sergeant Leader. My thought is that with all these in-shape super-hard NFL players, we should take a couple of them, work them out and do a two or three day
k. Mike McGuire, NFL Network programmer. You've got a retirement job, Mike.