The Vick-signing scoop, my training camp tour, 10 Things and more
That was the text message from Eagles quarterback
"You're killing me," responded Reid, via text to McNabb.
Fast forward to 7 a.m. Saturday, when Reid ducked his head into the Eagles' weight room, where McNabb and Vick were lifting together. Early Sunday morning, McNabb and Vick worked up a sweat side-by-side on two treadmills where the players work out.
I write this morning to dispel a myth and to illuminate the personal reality in Reid's life that led him to bringing the potentially combustible Vick onto this Super Bowl contender. I'm also here to tell you that Vick is most definitely going to play an important role on what the Eagles do on offense. I believe there will be plays in which McNabb and Vick will be on the field together, and some plays (though not as many) in which Vick will be at quarterback and McNabb will be out of the game.
That brings me to the myth of the weekend, the one in which people contend: No matter how sincere McNabb has seemed in backing Vick's return to the team, he couldn't really want him that badly. Why would one quarterback support the signing of another quarterback who might take his job?
I can't tell you all of the dynamics here, primarily because McNabb is not an open book. He's a tough nut to crack for any Philadelphia reporter; he simply doesn't want to reveal too much of himself. He's like
In my conversation with Reid Sunday night, there was an earnestness and a convincing tone in his voice that told me McNabb seriously has wanted Vick to be a part of the Eagles from the moment he sent that text message. "So many of the old guys are gone now," Reid said. "Donovan is taking it upon himself to do something that he feels is best for the team and best for Michael. I'm telling you, this is totally on the level. He wants Michael here, and he wants him to succeed. Donovan is being the best big brother in the world."
Reid went on. "This all started with Donovan. And when the other leaders of the team saw Donovan embracing him and embracing the idea here the last couple of days, they followed him, and they embraced Michael too. They brought him into the family."
McNabb is scheduled to speak today at the Eagles' training complex in South Philly. It might be hard for him to convince a skeptical public that he was behind this from the start. But if I were him, I'd just start with the text message to Reid. What more proof do you want that McNabb legitimately wanted Vick on the team?
Now, about Reid's motivation to import Vick. It's logical to wonder whether the agonizing drug problems of Reid's two sons played a role in him acting as a Father Flanagan figure to Vick. Even Reid isn't sure how much of a role the drug problems of sons
So when Reid met with Vick as he was trying to determine whether to offer him a contract, the most important factor to him was whether Vick was in that third phase. Could he look in Vick's eyes during a couple of long meetings and be convinced that Vick would never go back to his dogfighting days. Reid knows that no one sells insurance for this, but after extensive talks with Vick and his mentor,
Now Reid has to figure out what to do with Vick, the player. Over the weekend Vick played some scout-team quarterback and threw to receivers in individual drills.
"We haven't seen him run yet," said
Reid is going to play his Vick-game-plan cards close to the vest for now. He was encouraged over the weekend that Vick knows much of the Eagles' base West Coast offense, like the snap count, some of the exact play calls and the footwork fundamentals. As for how he'll use him in games, Reid said: "I have an idea. I just need to see if Michael is in good-enough shape to do it. I think I know the situations I want to use him in."
The most likely scenario is for Vick -- who could be reinstated by Goodell anywhere between Week 1 and Week 6 -- to be used as either the quarterback, running back or slot receiver in a Wildcat offense or as a shotgun quarterback with or without McNabb at receiver.
As I wrote Thursday night, Vick will not complain about playing time. For now, he's in Philadelphia to master an offense and to get acclimated to football and society again. The Eagles are convinced that whether he plays three plays a game or 23 (highly unlikely unless McNabb goes into an extended slump), it won't matter to him.
There's one more thing that could play a part in whether Vick succeeds or fails. The negativity, the protests, the angry headlines, the livid dog owners ... will it be enough to penetrate the suit of public relations armor that Vick and his handlers have built to shield him in his return to public life? I don't care what anyone says. At some point, some fan or heckler in the street or some columnist is going to say something or write something that will make Vick fume.
"That's the big unknown," Reese said. "I wish I could tell you how Mike will react without his mentor [Dungy] or his teammates there for him. But I can't. Only time will tell. My advice to him is stay home or stay at the [Eagles] facility."
Reese gave Vick some good advice Saturday after his first practice with the team, "I told him, 'It's your time to fall in love with this game again.' When you're in the league for a little while, you get caught up in the business and the money side of it, and I think sometimes we do what we do for the wrong reasons. I just wanted to remind Michael he got into the game in the first place because he loved it. Remember that."
Reporters get paid the big bucks to stand on the sidelines at these training camp practices and make judgments about kids who started shaving two weeks ago and drinking (legally) maybe two months ago. Let me be the first to say how absurd it is to answer the question I got later in the day at Detroit Metro Airport, at the gate of my flight to Indianapolis: "Hey Peter, have we got the right guy with Stafford?''
Here's what I said, and what I believe: Stafford's got an A-minus NFL arm right now. The only quarterback I'm sure who has a better one is
Game management? No clue. Accuracy? Good in college but not great, which raises a red flag for me. Huddle management? I think good.
He's smart enough, for sure. And what I like is he's not afraid. I tell the story of how Stafford took and gave barbs equally with
Watching Stafford throw, I'm impressed. He has touch when he needs touch, a fastball when he needs a fastball.
So if you ask me about the future of Matthew Stafford, I say I think the Lions have their quarterback of the future. I think. "Drafting first-round quarterbacks is a 50-percent washout business,'' says
He's right. So the draft history book says either Stafford or
"I always kind of knew when Tony walked into the meetings," Manning said. "Marvin was always a quiet guy in meetings. The day-to-day operations are the same. Do I know every day they're not here? Yes. There's not a day that goes by that I don't notice Dungy's not the head coach and Marvin's not the right wideout. Marvin's all I knew for 11 years. And for the past seven years, Tony's been such a strong presence. When am I going to get used to it? I don't know. It takes more than a couple of minicamps and a training camp to do that.
"I'm gonna kind of whisper this because I don't like rookies to read anything I say. But I think [third-round BYU receiver]
"The other young guy,
"For a long time, it was 88 [Harrison] over here to the right, 87 [
"You ask any of our coaches what we have to do better, and they'll tell you we have to run the ball better. No question. We got played cover-two on first, second and third down, daring us to run the ball, and we couldn't win those battles. We couldn't run.
"Everybody keeps asking, 'Is this Caldwell's team? What kind of coach is Caldwell?' Well, how can we know that yet? Let's play the games. Let's see him call a daring onside kick. Let's see him go for it on 4th-and-2 in a big spot. You can't know now.''
And now, from left field:
Me: "You and
Manning: "Interesting. I kind of think there are too many golf tournaments now, too many offseason events you're obligated to. You know when the left guard's having a charity golf tournament, there are too many golf tournaments. It never used to be that way when Marino played, I bet.''
Me: "And if the left guard has a golf tournament, the quarterback has to go.''
Manning: "I do. My dad always worried about it. Since we were 7, 8, playing baseball, my dad would be adamant to the point of being annoying and putting sunscreen on before we played. Now
Me: "What's the SPF of the stuff you use?''
This morning, Spagnuolo was supposed to have the players in pads again, two days before their preseason opener in New Jersey, but he backed off because of the physical toll and nicked-up players.
"Defensive coaches tend to want to build teams that way, with really physical practices,'' said Jackson. "He [Spagnuolo] took away our comfort zone.''
With the exception of the forgettable two-year run of
Check out my Ram-related quote of the week later in this column and you'll see whether the leaders here agree with Devaney.
It's hard enough to last 12 years in the NFL anywhere, let alone in a place where in your first year you killed someone in your new pro town. But ask anyone here about the leaders on this team, and Little's name comes up quickly. In fact, he's tutoring (and schooling on the field) first-round tackle
More about the education of a rich rookie by a 12-year vet in our upcoming
"Something happened early in my career that I will always regret,'' he said, "but every since then, I've just tried to be the best player I can every day I come to work, and the best person I can be. That first year, I thought my career might be over. I was out looking for a job -- a real job, not in football. At first, I didn't think people would ever allow me to forget what happened.''
So how were you able to move on, I asked.
"Just realizing that we all make mistakes in life. We're all human," he said. "Bad decisions have been made since the beginning of time, and you have to work to make sure you don't make them again. But I truly believe you can make a positive out of a negative. It's what I tell kids. I just talked to a bunch of high-school students during prom season. I tell them my story, and I tell them, 'Please ... don't make the mistake I made.'''
I was curious -- I think we all are -- about his second arrest for drunk driving six years after the first. It's the kind of arrest that might have doomed his career and totally derailed his life, justifiably, had he not been acquitted. Many in the media and public have said over the years that Little should have been banned in 2004 after his second arrest, without the addendum of the fact that he was found not guilty of the charges, despite the arresting officer saying he failed three field sobriety tests.
Little wouldn't be specific about it with me, other than to say: "That case should never have been brought. It was not credible. It's sad. People make judgments about that arrest and that case when they don't know the story.''
He said he hopes Vick gets a chance to rebuild his life, the way he has rebuilt his. Reaching out to Little might be a good phone call for Vick to make one day.
The day after the trade, Cutler flew to Chicago for a press conference and to meet his new team. Smith did not know Cutler. He asked him out to dinner, and they sat together, not talking much football at all, but about families, and how each grew up, and how Smith treats his players. Smith doesn't reveal much of himself in public, or at press conferences. But when he talks to you at a meal, in a setting like this, in the cafeteria at Olivet Nazarene University, he puts his utensils down and looks you in the eye, and tells you the way it is.
And that evening north of Chicago, he said to Cutler: "Chicago's been waiting for a player like you.''
I liked that he said that to Cutler instead of, "You'll be a piece of the puzzle, but don't worry, we're not going to overload you with pressure. We'll take a lot of that off you.'' Nope. He would have been lying. Jay Cutler, in Chicago, would have to win four Super Bowls to be
But I digress. Let's get to the important stuff, the
"Did you do it?'' I asked Urlacher. "You call him the P word?''
"Never said it. Guaranteed,'' he said, and he laughed. "As soon as this came out, I called Jay to tell him it was BS, and I said, 'Hey, what's up, p----?' That sort of broke the ice, and now we laugh about it. I don't now how these things happen, but by the time we got to camp, it was absolutely true, and I'd supposedly had fights with him in the locker room, out in a bar. It's so funny. Here at camp, somebody slipped a note under my door, and I look down and it says, 'P----.' So you can see how seriously we're taking it.
"Look, that's not the kind of thing I'd say about a teammate anyway. But you think I'd say it to a guy on another team? It was Bobby just trying to stir things up.''
Back to business. I said to Urlacher: "If anyone ever told me you'd play a season with no sacks and no forced fumbles, like you did last year, I'd never believe it.''
"I just wasn't around the football,'' he said. "Most frustrating year of my career. I had a couple of picks [interceptions], but you know, you just fall into those sometimes. The problem was, I haven't been able to train the last two years the way I normally would. Two years ago, it was my lower back. Last year, my neck. I get to camp, and I'm not nearly as strong as I need to be, and my play suffers. No excuses, that's just the fact. So this year, I trained all offseason, did plyometrics, did lots of power-cleans, ran a lot. I got to camp feeling like I need to feel to have a big year.''
I tell him he must hear what the masses are saying. It's his 10th year, he's 31, he's played the physical position of middle linebacker for so long that he's naturally wearing down. He nods.
"I know,'' he said. "But I've gotten to the point in my life where I only care what the people on this team and the people closest to me think. And what I think. I've been through the meat-grinder here. I don't know if
I walk away thinking: For Urlacher to truly make the Chicago-to-Canton linebacker connection, he's going to have to be classic Urlacher again, for a couple more years.
Interesting observation from Lovie Smith at breakfast about Urlacher. "What I see in Brian this camp is he's able to bend. He just hasn't been right the last two years,'' Smith said.
But I could tell he didn't hear everything I said. Maybe he heard nothing. How could he? And now he was being pulled in other directions, and so I just shook his hand again and said see you.
A couple of minutes later, the Bears' PR man,
I told him what happened. Just told Christman to tell Jay what I said, and we'd all move on. I bet that's a big concern in Cutler's life right now.
As I walk through the parking lot, I see a few RICE jerseys, a few MONTANAs, more than a few GOREs. Almost half the jerseys I see pay homage to the defensive cornerstone of the franchise, the number 52 worn by linebacker
Michael Crabtree, the receiver picked No. 10 by San Francisco, is in the middle of the dumbest holdout in the NFL in years. It defies logic. The NFL has a slotting system that is ever-so-slightly malleable, where a player who gets drafted one spot lower than another player occasionally gets a smidgeon of a better deal. And sometimes a quarterback gets an above-market deal. But position players and non-quarterback skill players are slotted, and despite the efforts of agents to break the slotting system when picked lower than the agent or player thinks he should be picked, the league mostly holds firm.
So this spring, most people told Crabtree he was either No. 1, or 1a with
The Crabtree camp was stunned. First, they were stunned that he was not picked in the top five. And they were stunned about what this would mean financially. The third overall pick,
A couple of things to keep in mind: San Francisco ownership is not from the ownership school that says, "Let's throw money at the problem and make it go away.'' And GM
No one in the league likes the rookie-salary conundrum. The union says it likes rookies getting paid this money before they've ever played a down, but I've talked to scores of players about it over the years, and about the only ones who remotely support the Heyward-Beys of the world being handed $23 million before his career begins are NFLPA board members and maybe some player reps. It's a
Now that's it has gotten to this point, and we're 27 days from opening day, and only two first-round receivers in the past decade have exceeded 60 catches in their rookie years, I don't expect the 49ers to be very aggressive in getting Crabtree in. An impact first year is now unrealistic if not highly improbable. So what's the pressure on them to up the offer to get a deal done? There is none. This holdout could be long, or it could end Wednesday if someone who understands how the NFL works can get to Crabtree. But for him to think he'll do better by entering the draft next year is even dumber than this holdout.
"I feel like
I really liked how Orton opened -- just the way coach
Orton can't make those kinds of decisions and have a future in the NFL as anything other than a roster filler, and it's the kind of decision that, if duplicated enough this summer, is going to make McDaniels do what I believe he is loathe to do -- remove the more accurate Orton in favor of
"We're not going to go into this thing after the first preseason game and start tailspinning and making knee-jerk reactions,'' said McDaniels after the game. Nor should he. This should still be Orton's job. But
Merriman, in his first three series, didn't have the explosiveness we remember. He didn't make a play that made you say, "That was Merriman.'' Then again, he didn't get a chance, and there's absolutely no way in a meaningless game that I'd be selling out if I was coming off a major knee surgery.
The thing I noticed about both is they ran well, showing no signs of favoring their 2008 injuries. Because I saw the burst in Tomlinson and not in Merriman doesn't mean Merriman won't be good. He told me after the game he'll be better in 2009 than he's ever been because of his attention to the little things in offseason training and in this camp. We'll see.
Gut feeling: I believe in the defense, which is totally sold on coordinator
Three other California notes after two games in two nights: Candlestick is crumbling and Qualcomm is very needy; I'm sure the Coliseum in Oakland is nearly as bad. The NFL has 31 stadiums, and with the possible (and I mean possible) exception of Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, numbers 29, 30 and 31 are the three California venues. Not that I think the state should be paying for them, particularly with the financial crisis California is in. It's a statement of fact, though.
Two: I know this is taking in a lot of ground, but I do believe the 49er and Charger crowds lead the NFL in tattoos. Walking through the parking lot tonight on the way into the stadium, on a beautiful night for anything, there was a 30ish man without a shirt, barbecuing behind his car. On his tanned back, stretching from outside shoulder blade to outside shoulder blade, was the Chargers' lightning-bolt logo, a good 20 inches wide.
Three: Shawne Merriman has a thin navy-blue Mohawk stretching from forehead to neckline, with no other hair on his head. I have to admit that's a hairstyle I have never seen.
Your vote: 490 said give Vick a chance; 184 said he has no place in the game. That's 72.7 percent pro-Vick. Based on what I'd seen and heard the last few days, that surprises me. I thought it'd be much more split.
"That doesn't really surprise me,'' Eagles coach Andy Reid told me from his office. "Most people want to see other people do good. I think it's probably the same percentage here in Philadelphia.''
"Hide Your Beagle. Vick's An Eagle.''
"For the life of me, I can't understand why I was involved in such a pointless activity. Why did I risk so much at the pinnacle of my career?"
Now, the NFL is going to give Vick this second chance. And I'm going to wipe the slate clean, with one asterisk: Vick didn't quit as the king of the dogfighting ring. He was arrested and had his life stripped of all material things and spent 20 months in confinement. So we really don't know if he would have ever seen the light without being forced to. As Vick has said, his actions will be what matters from now on, not his words.
"Eugene, I heard they washed your pants with money.''
When I visited the Colts last week, I noticed big people on the defensive line. Last year, part of the Colts' downfall -- they could neither run nor stop the run -- was a small defensive front, and new coach Jim Caldwell and defensive coordinator
How does the Colts' season-ending 2008 defensive line match up against the 2009 edition? For the case of this chart, I'm going to assume the Colts will keep 10 defensive linemen;
In Detroit, 53 percent of the people who really count did not go 0-16.
As of Friday morning, 42 of the 81 players in Lions' training camp were new to the team in 2009. Eleven of the 19 coaches were not with the team in 2008. So 53 of the 100 players and coaches just give you a blank stare when you say, "Does this team have a hangover from going 0-16?'' Because they weren't around for it.
Lions record in their last five preseason games: 5-0.
Lions record in their last 17 regular-season games: 0-17.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning played golf together at Cypress Point in Monterey, Calif., recently. On the first hole, both slightly sliced their shots on the border of the first fairway and the club's driving range. Uh-oh. Needle-in-haystack, lost-ball time.
But it didn't take long to find them. Brady was playing a Titleist 12, Manning a Titleist 18. Get it -- 12, 18? Talk about your unique-to-one-person golf balls.
To boycott Westin Hotels or to not boycott Westin Hotels. That is the question.
I booked this training-camp trip in June, cars and flights and hotels. Most places I stayed were the Fairfield Inn types, clean hotels with free Internet, the things you need for the seven hours a night in the hotel. But for San Diego, I booked the Westin downtown because it's a good hotel in a nice area, and it's close to the airport.
On the way there Saturday night around 11:15, after the Seahawks-Chargers game, I called to make sure I had the right place, because there's another Westin in the city. "We've got you sir,'' said the man on the other end of the phone. Ten minutes later, I arrived. The front desk told me they were overbooked, and they were very sorry, but they had no beds. But if I had a reservation for the last two months, I asked, wouldn't you have held a room for me.
"That's how it should be, but we just ran out of rooms,'' I was told.
I get it. The hotel business is now like some in the airline business. Westin intentionally overbooks rooms hoping X number of us will be stuck somewhere and not make it to the hotel. The hotels now can abuse us the way some airlines do, when they sell 70 seats for a 64-seat plane and then say, "Don't blame us.''
I seethed while listening to 47 apologies from two front-deskers. "I don't want an apology,'' I said. "I want a room.''
No problem, sir. They would book me at the Indigo Hotel, and they would comp my room (who cares when you're traveling on business and have six hours in the hotel before your next trip to the airport), and here are the directions.
Serenity now. Serenity now. Serenity now.
So I set off to find the Indigo, at Tenth and Market. I go to Tenth and Market. No Indigo. I put the flashers on and walk over to a bar with lots of TVs and say to a guy at the door, "You know where the Indigo Hotel is?'' He doesn't know. He goes inside and asks two others. They don't know. I go back to the car and call 411.
"San Diego, California,'' I say to the automated woman. "The Indigo Hotel. Market Street.'' A voice came on, a real woman, who said, "Checking San Diego and all outlying areas. No listing for an Indigo Hotel. Can I check anything else for you?''
I pull up the number for the Westin and oh-so-politely (not!) tell the same dude at the front desk that NOT ONLY DID YOU SCREW ME OUT OF A ROOM TONIGHT, YOU GAVE ME DIRECTIONS TO A HOTEL THAT DOESN'T APPARENTLY EXIST.
"I'm so sorry, sir,'' he said.
"You have to stop apologizing to me,'' I said.
He got me different directions to the Indigo, which is new. It's a nice hotel, just up the street from Petco. And by Sunday morning, the steam had stopped coming out of my ears.
But now I am left with the decision whether to boycott Westin, which is my favorite hotel chain. Maybe I should let you, the readers, vote. What do you think?
One hour and 26 minutes. That's how long it took me to drive the 19 miles from the fringe of downtown Chicago to the Hertz car-rental return area at O'Hare Airport Thursday evening around 7.
At one point, I was stopped in the far left lane of the four-lane westbound Kennedy Expressway for about two minutes. Dead stop. And there was no accident, at least none that I could see as I crawled along, and no sirens or lights flashing.
That drive -- the downtown area to O'Hare -- is officially the worst drive in the United States. None can top it. The Cross Bronx Expressway on an August Friday night at 6 contends, but it's just not the same. L.A. freeways are awful, consistently, but you move on them. Crawl sometimes, but you're moving faster than you do most of the time on the Kennedy. I've made it in 25 minutes a couple of times, but mostly in 50 minutes or longer, at all hours of the day and night. It is sheer misery. How do the people in Chicago stand it?
And so I get to my room at the Hilton at O'Hare Airport Thursday evening, just in time to rush through a Michael Vick reaction story and hurry it on to SI.com, and I log onto the wireless in my room.
I complained so loudly about the Providence Westin charging me $10 to use an elliptical machine a few years ago that it got onto my Wikipedia bio. But this is worse. Online for two hours, max, for $17.50. Shame on you, Barron Hilton, or whoever it is charging people $239 for a room and robbing them further to get online.
"As a lifelong Philly fan all I can say is BOOOOOOO!!!!! We don't need a felon like him on the team.''
Then I Tweeted how surprised I was that this was the overwhelming sentiment of the fans, and that the majority who Tweeted me called him all sorts of names in the dog-mutilator vein, and did the fans really favor Vick never having a chance to ply his trade again after spending 20 months in jail for a heinous offense? Then it got a little more sane. Such as these.
"You're right. Vick did his time. If that's meaningless, why do we let people out of prison at all?''
"Shame on people for not giving 2nd chance. That's the prob in American prisons. True restitution is not rewarded so they go back.''
1. I think the Minnesota Vikings, should they struggle at quarterback, will call
But I'll also say this: It's also quite possible, should the Williams boys not be suspended for testing positive in the Starcaps case, that the Vikings could start very strong, and either
Wouldn't you agree Minnesota could be 4-1 or 5-0, even with mediocre quarterback play? Now, the happiest man in the NFL this morning has to be
2. I think, speaking of how much I like the Vikes, and not to underplay how well the Packers looked over the weekend, I still like the Bears a whisker better, especially after seeing Jay Cutler throw the ball Thursday and Brian Urlacher looking like the '06 Urlacher after a strong strength-and-conditioning offseason. It's a shame that we have to wait 'til Nov. 29 to see a Chicago-Minnesota game. "We play some incredible games,'' Urlacher told me.
Baltimore-Pittsburgh's the best rivalry game in football right now, followed by New England-Indianapolis. But Minnesota-Chicago ... Check out what they've done over the last 10 years:
• The series is tied 10-10.
• Each team is 7-3 at home against the other.
• Twelve of those 20 games have been decided by a touchdown or less.
• Minnesota has outscored the Bears by 28 points in the 20 meetings, so the Vikes are an average of 1.3 points per game better.
• With the exception maybe of
3. I think if you gave Vick sodium pentathol, he would say one of the things he regrets in a strictly football sense about the two-year gap in his career is that he never got to play in
4. I think we found out everything we needed to know about Josh McDaniels' Denver offense Friday night. We knew it already, really. If Kyle Orton's not efficient, the Broncos could go 3-13. Orton dropped back to pass 16 times in four series, and no throw traveled more than 15 yards past the line of scrimmage. He moved the ball well. All he did wrong was throw interceptions to end his first three drives. That's like saying all the Brink's truck driver did wrong was pick up a million-dollar shipment and get the truck safely to the depot -- except he arrived without the money.
Orton had but 27 interceptions in 913 career throws in his first three seasons. In 16 throws against the Niners, he threw three. I'm sure Denver fans are panicky, as they should be, after watching the first post-Cutler start. There's nothing I can say to ease your worries -- except that this is uncharacteristic for Orton, and one half in a preseason opener shouldn't convince you the guy's a bum.
5. I think one of the good things about preseason football (and there aren't many) is watching the maturation of the top rookies. The education of
Lined up at right end late in the first quarter, he dropped in a fire-zone coverage toward middle linebacker, patrolling for a crossing receiver. Here came Chargers wideout
6. I think I'm setting the over/under on
7. I think these are my thoughts of preseason Week 1:
a. Other than the weird fly ball he threw not deep enough down the left side that got picked by
b. The first play of
c. How Sanchez doesn't win the starting job ... that's beyond me.
d. Saw the first quarter of Jets-Rams, and Marc Bulger looked sharp. Good for him. Good guy, and I still think he can be a top-12 quarterback if he's protected, and if
e. It won't matter what kind of play the Broncos get out of Orton or Simms if they play defense the way they played against the all-star lineup of
f. Really liked what I saw out of
h. Keep repeating after me, Redskin fans: It's only the preseason. But zero points scored and 500 yards allowed?
i. Welcome back to the NFL,
j. That is not a misprint: Peyton Manning was sacked three times in his first five snaps against the Vikings. Several reasons, not the least of which was his tackles were
k. You don't want to make too much of
n. I can think of about 10 teams that need the special-teams presence and leadership of
8. I think
9. I think anybody who was surprised at Goodell's banishing
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Best wishes to the retiring
b. I hit a deer on the highway out here in Colorado Saturday night. Crunched up the car pretty well. Killed the poor deer. Scared the living heck out of me. Quite an experience. I think my heart rate is back down to near normal now, but just barely.
c. I've never seen anything quite so violent in baseball as the line drive off pitcher
d. Coffeenerdness: I've often sung the praises of Peet's Coffee. But the thing I've realized landing in San Francisco Friday and walking into the terminal was that part of the greatness of Peet's is the aroma of the espresso. It's like smelling the grass in baseball or the leather smell of the ball at the first football practice of the year. The aroma is part of the reason you love it.
e. I've learned three things from my summer Tweetups. One: the football fan's appetite for information is absolutely voracious.
f. I have to get home. Today is Day 21 of my trip -- I'll see the Broncos practice this morning -- and after one lost rental car, one killed deer, one ridiculous hotel snafu, and way too much fun, I can't wait to sleep in my own bed tonight.