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Snapshots from Week 1 on the annual NFL training camp circuit

Week 1 on the training camp trail ... From a very deep team in San Antonio (Dallas) to the Big Top in Kentucky (Cincinnati) to the NFL's men of mystery (Carolina) to the youngest veteran team in the league (Atlanta) to the team (Miami) determined not to let the AFC East become a two-horse race -- and, by the way, I like its chances. Along the way, three stories intercede: Albert Haynesworth, the business of football threatening to tear the San Diego Chargers asunder and the retirement of Sean Morey.

In some sort of chronological order, here goes:

***

Wednesday, 2:50 p.m., San Antonio

I experience Dezmania in a very personal way. Dallas director of public relations Rich Dalrymple and I are walking behind the end zone in the Alamodome, where the Cowboy receivers are warming up for the afternoon practice. "One of our doctors told me, 'The Dallas Cowboys are a blunt-force instrument,' '' Dalrymple says. As if on cue, I almost get blunt-forced as rookie receiver Dez Bryant turns to the crowd in the end-zone seats and waves his arms, as if to say, I'm here! Love me! And from the stands comes a small football and a Sharpie, followed by an official Cowboys helmet -- which, flung like a Frisbee, misses my head by eight inches and careens on the artificial turf toward the feet of the receiver group. "Whoa!!!'' I say, ducking, as if that would have done any good after the fact. A security guy fetches the helmet, which Bryant, chagrined, does not sign.

Such is the early love affair with Bryant, who, two days later, suffered a high ankle sprain that will cause him to miss the preseason. My first thought about the injury: Good for the Cowboys. Good for Bryant. First, the hype for Bryant was ridiculously out of control, so much so that when I sat with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, he was already trying to figure out ways to shut down the Bryant Hall of Fame Express. Second, the Cowboys are practicing on artificial turf at the 'Dome -- sometimes twice a day -- which is never a good idea in training camp.

Bryant was practicing as if he were in an NFL playoff game, trying to win a starting job and to prove the Cowboys made the right decision by picking him in the first round when other teams were taking him off their draft boards. Dallas is lucky it was a high ankle sprain and not some season-ending thing.

Third, it's not like we're talking about a mature-beyond-his-years kid to begin with. It didn't appear as if the hype was going to his head, but who knows if all the pub eventually would have turned him into the kind of diva the guy on the other side of the field, Miles Austin, decidedly is not.

I just know this: Bryant has a chance to be a great player. But a little humble pie on the sidelines won't be such a bad thing for the kid.

***

Thursday, 4 p.m. Georgetown, Ky.

So many thoughts after experiencing Bengaldom for a day.

1. In 27 years covering the NFL -- year one as the Bengals' beat man for the Cincinnati Enquirer -- I have never seen the franchise be this aggressive and potentially sell-your-soul hungry in trying to win now. Pacman Jones, Terrell Owens, Antonio Bryant, with a young kid like tight end Jermaine Gresham in the first round and adding Gibril Wilson to a needy safety position ... Folks, this has never happened here.

2. Pacman, from one practice, looked a lot more mortal than he used to. He got singed two or three times by Chad Ochocinco in drills I saw, and then worked with Ocho one-on-one after practice -- at Chad's prompting. Pacman looks older than 26, that's for sure. He hasn't started a game in 21 months, and if he's going to win the starting nickel job, he'll have to re-adapt to the speed of the game.

"Coming here was the best thing I could have done,'' he told me. "It's been all football.'' Except, I learned, for the two times cops trailed his car and made him sweat, including once when they told him to stay out of the car while they ran his plates -- to see if it was stolen. Which it wasn't, and which, to Jones, seemed like a clear case of police harassment. "Back a few years ago, I might have gone after the cop,'' he said. "Now, I've grown up. I just waited 'til the situation was over, and I went on my way.'' Good for him.

After the practice I watched, he said, "Chad kicked my ass.'' He's got five weeks to play catch-up.

3. What Marvin Lewis has to get used to is being one of the ESPN pet teams. Get used to having Rachel Nichols or Bob Holtzman or Ed Werder on the sidelines every day at practice as long as Terrell Owens and Ocho are minicam-friendly, and God help the sanity of this team if Pacman reverts to even a bit of his divisive Tennessee self.

4. Andre Smith should never, ever, ever have been the sixth pick in the draft in 2009. The sixth pick overall didn't work hard to rehab his foot after February surgery, not even being a stickler about keeping the foot in a protective boot at times in the offseason.

5. Marvin Lewis told me a couple of interesting things about the pursuit of T.O. He pointed out that Owens and Antonio Bryant were being pursued simultaneously by the Bengals in March, both on visits to the Queen City at the same time. The Bengals made Bryant rhe first offer, and he accepted, and T.O. found out about it through a text message before the Bengals told him. Owens was peeved. Lewis had to soothe Owens.

"Then, the first thing after we signed Bryant, Carson [Palmer] says to me, "Let's sign T.O. too,'' Lewis said. The organization decided not to, and instead to draft a slot receiver, Jordan Shipley, in the third round. But as time went on, and spring turned to summer, Owens was still out there. He went to work out in Los Angeles with Matt Leinart, and Palmer was there. Palmer told him to lessen his demands, and he'd go to bat for him. "You're not going to make $5 million,'' Palmer said. "You've got to be realistic.''

He took $2 million, plus incentives, and last Tuesday, when he was trying to decide whether to take the Bengals' offer, Lewis called him and apparently clinched it. "My team wants you as a teammate,'' the coach told him.

6. Still don't know how the Bengals are going to have enough balls for everyone on offense. Last year, Cincinnati had 1,011 offensive snaps. Half --505 -- were run plays, and Lewis told me the offense was still going to be centered around the run. Ochocinco, Owens and Bryant, if I had to guess, will get 350 chances, collectively, if they're healthy most of the year. But what of Gresham? Shipley? Andre Caldwell, who caught 51 balls last year? And the forgotten 2008 draftee, Jerome Simpson of Coastal Carolina, who, according to personnel man Jim Lippincott, "is the receiver on our team with the most God-given talent?'' We'll see.

7. Of all the things you don't expect to hear at an NFL training camp, Frank Sinatra crooning on a hip player's portable Bose speaker would be one. But here it came, wafting underneath the stands of the football stadium at Georgetown College, the entrancing and melodic "It Was a Very Good Year.'' I couldn't understand where it was coming from. As players walked from the locker room under the stands to the cafeteria after Cincinnati's morning practice, I craned my neck to see the source, and it was Chad Ochocinco, with a hand-held Bose speaker box, with his iPod doing the job.

When I was 35It was a very good year.It was a very good year for blue-blooded girlsOf independent means ...

"I'm just so excited I can't stand it,'' Ocho said. "Carson's got to be out of his mind excited. Me, TO, Antonio [Bryant], the run game, Gresham, Shipley, our other young receivers ... How are they gonna stop us? The other guy who's got to be going nuts is Cedric [Benson]. They can't jam the box on him now.''

When I walked away from him, I said, "Have a good year.''

Chad quickly said, "No. Great year. I always have a good year. This is going to be a great one.''

Friday, 5:10 p.m., Charlotte

Was that a fish that just went swimming by? Scorcher out here. But this team needs the work, because there are so many spots open for competition, with Jake Delhomme, Julius Peppers and Muhsin Muhammad gone, and integral linebacker Thomas Davis out for the year after freakishly tearing his ACL in June. The front seven could consist of guys named Johnson, Johnson, Brown, Leonard, Connor and Anderson.

The Panthers rarely have a really down season, but I'm not sure that streak is going to continue (suffice to say I'm wavering on my May pick of Carolina for the playoffs). Steve Smith, the only household name left in camp, is out until late August with the broken arm suffered in a flag-football game this offseason, and when I saw him, I asked: "You sure you'll be back for the opener against the Giants?''

"Positive,'' he said. "I'd bet my game check on it.'' Smith also said he plans to make a beeline for Giants safety Michael Johnson early in that game. Johnson's the guy who laid the vicious hit on Smith that broke his arm -- and ended his season in Week 16 last December. "I'm going after him,'' said Smith, and he walked away.

Friday, 7:45 p.m., Commerce, Ga.

The cellphone rings, and it's A.J. Smith, the Chargers' general manager. He said he wasn't going to be talking about the holdouts -- wideout Vincent Jackson, tackle Marcus McNeill, linebacker Shawne Merriman -- after this week, so I wanted to get in under the wire.

The Merriman squabble is not difficult to understand, in my opinion, because the Chargers can't be sure what kind of player he is anymore. (He had four sacks in the past two years, over 15 total games.) But I find it odd and counterproductive -- as do many Charger fans -- that Smith hasn't negotiated long-term deals with two players I would consider cornerstones, McNeill and Jackson. Not only does he apparently not consider them vital players, but in lowering their one-year contract offers from $3.2 million to around $600,000 in June, he slapped two very good players in the face and made it nearly impossible for them to accept offers they certainly consider insulting.

Smith told me he does not plan to change the offers on McNeill or Jackson, nor will he enter into long-term contract discussions for them.

"We have a priority list of players we want to get signed, and that began 11 months ago with Philip Rivers,'' he said. "Then we got Antonio Gates done. We have a priority list still, which I'm not going to discuss.''

Rivers and Gates are cornerstones. McNeill and Jackson aren't in the same category to Smith. That's got to be a bitter pill for two important players -- particularly McNeill, I would think. Jackson has had some off-field problems, and his recent violation of the league's personal conduct policy resulted in a suspension for the first three games of the 2010 season. Said Smith: "Disappointment lurks around every corner. You'd love to have everyone on your roster happy, but that's not the world of the NFL. It is disappointing, but I have to run the team and build the roster the way I see fit.''

Understood. But I wouldn't want to alienate two of my top six or seven players -- perhaps losing them for the season -- on the verge of a year when the Chargers are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Figuring his team can survive this distraction is a big gamble by Smith.

***

Saturday, 11 a.m., Flowery Branch, Ga.

Looking at the key players, and the ages of them, on the Falcons, I wonder: Is there a contender with more young, important players? Matt Ryan, 25, and middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, 23, are the offensive and defensive signal-callers. Thomas DeCoud and William Moore are the longterm safeties, in all likelihood; both 25. Kroy Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury could be the defensive ends of the future; they're 24. Peria Jerry and Sean Weatherspoon, both front-seven building blocks, are 25 and 22, respectively. Longterm left tackle Sam Baker is 25. And on and on.

"We're young, but we're not inexperienced,'' Ryan told me.

I watched the morning practice with GM Thomas Dimitroff, and at one point, we watched the 6-2, 205-pound hitter, DeCoud, fly by. Last year, he middle-blitzed and sacked Drew Brees, and the Falcons are going to try to send him and others from odd spots like that to vary what offenses see.

When Arthur Blank gave Dimitroff the keys to this team before the 2008 draft, he wanted the precocious former Scott Pioli pupil to build the team mostly through the draft, like the Patriots, so it would be good for the long haul. If these players come through, the Falcons shouldn't have many valleys in the next few years.

***

Saturday, 9:35 p.m., Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport

Hustling through the Atlanta airport to make my flight to the next camp (Miami's, in this case), and on the phone I've got one of the very good guys I've covered in my career, Pats/Eagles/Steelers/Cardinals/Seahawks special-teamer Sean Morey. He's explaining his post-concussion-syndrome-prompted retirement, and I ask him: "What do you feel like right now, physically?''

"Like I just finished playing a tough game,'' he said, speaking softly from a Starbucks in Seattle. "Like I'd just made six or seven tackles.''

And, of course, it's been almost eight months since the 34-year-old Morey played. In the past couple of years, it had taken him longer each offseason to get back to his baseline, to feeling well with no lingering headaches from the season. This year, that time never came. And though he signed a multi-year deal with Seattle in the offseason to rejoin Pete Carroll, coach of the team that drafted him from Brown in 1999 (New England), he couldn't live a lie and pretend he was OK. Over the weekend, he was making arrangements to pay back the signing bonus the Seahawks gave him in March.

At least two independent doctors told him he shouldn't play. And as co-chair of the NFL Players Association's concussion and traumatic brain injury committee, Morey knew he couldn't be a good union leader if he swept such an important injury under the rug.

"He's unlike any player I've ever met,'' said NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith Sunday night. "In a game known for passion, Sean surpasses that with his dedication to players past, present and future. He's doing more than his part to make the game safer. He has an intensity for all that is right that is, frankly, all-consuming.''

Morey has walked a tightrope as a player trying to be one of the best special-teamers of this era (he was my special-teamer of the decade for 2000-09) and as a union man trying to get his peers to respect the brain trauma that so many players try to hide. "In many ways,'' he told me, "all the education I've gotten on the subject is a curse, but it also gave me the proper perspective to be able to make a decision like this one. I am held to a higher standard, and I should be. I owe it to the players in the game to help make changes that will help players going forward.''

Carroll told his first Seattle team about Morey's decision at his first team meeting the other night. He said Morey scratched and clawed to make the NFL, that his way to the league was paved with hardship and being cut multiple times. He even drove to Foxboro once in a furniture truck for a company he worked for, trying to get the Patriots to take another look at him after he'd been cut. That, Carroll said, is the kind of player he wanted with the Seahawks, and the room broke out in applause for Morey.

When Morey knew he had to tell Seahawk GM John Schneider and Carroll his decision last week, Carroll took it well. He picked up a football, and the two men went out to the field. They played catch.

"You know,'' Carroll said to Morey, throwing the ball in a tight spiral, "people ask me the best part of my job. I tell them, 'I get to go out and play catch.' ''

A couple of days later, the memory made Morey go quiet.

"That,'' he said, "was a nice touch. Football's the kind of game you love so much that you want to hold on 'til it throws you off. Because someday, for all of us, it will throw you off, no matter how tight you try to hang on.''

***

Sunday, 5:40 p.m., Davie, Fla.

On the first pass play of Dolphins training camp Friday, Brandon Marshall had run one of the common routes in the Miami playbook, a slant and go. Some teams call it "sluggo.'' Whatever, the Dolphins called it a touchdown, because Chad Henne threw it long downfield, perfectly, for a score. "I got chills,'' said quarterbacks coach David Lee. "I don't know how it's possible to get chills in 95-degree weather with 90-percent humidity, but I did. What a beautiful thing that was to see.''

I remember going to Denver last summer and interviewing Marshall, who I've known for three or four years. Every answer was forced, clipped. He was ticked at the world then, a combination of being labeled a malingerer and feeling like he was lied to about getting a new contract. In the players' cafeteria Sunday, he grinned like a madman ... even when I asked him what he would have done differently in Denver before finally getting his wish via a pre-draft trade and new contract in Miami last April.

He paused, and I said: "Would you have punted the ball in practice that day?'' You remember the infamous tape, when he was a disruptive force in practice.

"I wouldn't have punted the football,'' he said. "There were a few things last year I didn't handle well. But what I've learned is that sometimes the more powerful lessons are the most painful lessons.''

Marshall doesn't want to return to the nightmare that was last year. He's married now -- to a different woman than the one he says caused "90 to 95 percent'' of his problems in the past. But he realizes talk is cheap, and no matter what he says now about being a different person in a different place, he's got to show it, day after day, week after week.

He has a five-year, $47-million contract extension, and he's on a team that he thinks is more suited to his physical style. "I've always had the attitude that I'm going to impose my will on the defense,'' he said. "So I fit in well with the philosophy of this team. Everyone in the building, everyone in the organization, has a toughness here. I like that. It's all football. We don't play games here. I see Bill Parcells, and he always says one word to me: 'Stamina.' I know I'm going to be happy here.

"Because I'm a grown-ass man.''-- Cincinnati cornerback Adam "Pacman'' Jones, responding to my question: "Why should we believe this stop is going to turn out better than previous stops in your NFL career?''

"Walls needed painting.''-- New England coach Bill Belichick, asked why he had many of the pictures from the Patriots' three Super Bowl seasons removed from the club offices in the offseason.

"Instead of fighting, why don't we work things out over brunch?''-- Donald Brashear, the New York Rangers' tough guy (and that's putting it mildly), on the "David Letterman Show'' Friday night, as part of Letterman's top 10 list, Things Never Before Spoken At A Hockey Game. Very cute.

The 10 Rangers also carried Madonna to the stage for her Letterman interview on a pair of hockey sticks. "Have you ever ridden hockey players before?'' Dave asked. No, she said.

"Colleges have mastered the art of secrecy. I don't think we get to know everything we need to know about players. Some colleges, I think they know where Jimmy Hoffa's buried.''-- Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis to me the other day, complaining that Alabama football officials may not have been altogether forthcoming in sharing information on tackle Andre Smith, who he says hasn't complied with all the rehab instructions team medics have given him about his injured foot.

Well, let's be fair here. Smith was the jiggly guy who, unexcused, walked out of the Scouting Combine early, then worked out for NFL teams looking like an advertisement for gastric-bypass surgery. The Bengals had plenty of warning that Smith wasn't a self-starter and, moreover, might become a disciplinary problem once he got paid. Which he has been.

So why'd I use this quote? I love the Hoffa line.

Half of the coaches in the NFC East -- Wade Phillips, Andy Reid -- are teetotalers.

This is not to say Tom Coughlin or Mike Shanahan are heavy drinkers. They're not -- not at all. Coughlin likes a good Bordeaux, Shanahan an occasional Corona. I just find it interesting that in the rough-and-tumble NFC East, the coaches in Philadelphia and Dallas (where quite a few adult beverages are consumed) eschew all alcohol and favor diet cola (Phillips) and water (Reid).

On the sidelines of Carolina Panthers practice Friday afternoon at Wofford College, players were conscious to hydrate in the 91-degree, 88-percent humidity of Spartanburg, S.C. During one break, a defensive player chugged a 12-ounce bottle of G2, the low-cal Gatorade drink, finished it and tossed it to the ground. Walking by, club president Danny Morrison saw the lone bottle littering the sideline and picked it up. Hey, the more you can do ...

I have renamed the travel note -- for the season -- in honor of the travel experience I wrote from the Westin Hotel in Chicago. You may recall it. It's the note about the fellow who tried to cut the 30-person line at the elevator, and I interrupted him, using some salty language. Hope you like the new heading.

This note comes to you from the general manager's office of the Atlanta Falcons, Saturday afternoon about 2:15. Afternoon practice was 75 minutes away. Here was Thomas Dimitroff, one of the most interesting and different football people in the league, inviting me in for some Mighty Leaf Organic Green Dragon tea and tiny chocolate-chip cookies.

"I thought we would have high tea,'' he said.

OK. I must say I have had a few beers and more than a few meals with general managers over the years, but green tea ... this was a first. Dimitroff, a serious cyclist, outdoorsman (he has a sophisticated spinning bike next to his desk) and conscientious citizen (CNN was on in his office, not ESPN) who prefers Boulder over Brooklyn, is conscious about everything he puts in his body.

It was a calm interview. Placid, even. It seemed funny to be drinking green tea and listening to Dimitroff talking about how his goal is to build a defense that's fast, brutal, smart and attacking. You know, words you don't usually associate with green tea.

The Draft Ain't Everything Dept.: There were 10 quarterbacks picked in the 2007 NFL Draft, and to this point, the best passer to come out that year wasn't drafted. That could change this year with Kevin Kolb taking over the Philly job, but as of today, the best guy from 2007 is Matt Moore. Dallas signed him as a college free-agent that year, and Carolina picked him up when the Cowboys cut him. Since then, Moore has shown enough for Panthers coach John Fox to give him the starting job in 2010. Judging the 2007 quarterback products by quarterbacking rating:

"Hey 2011 NFL Free-Agents--->58 degrees at Seahawks' training camp today.''--@Hasselbeck, Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, early Saturday afternoon, doing some early recruiting for next offseason.

1. I think, as it is every year, the most overplayed story entering training camp is the first-round-holdout story. As of this morning, 26 of 32 first-rounders are in the fold, with Dan Williams (Arizona) and Jerry Hughes (Indianapolis) on the verge of signing deals, likely today.

The reason angst over these things is silly can be seen in the Hughes negotiations. The Colts have their first practice today at 8:30 a.m. in Anderson, Ind. Most often, contract negotiations are deadline deals, and so why would anyone get too exercised over a contract not being done before practice begins? I'll say what I've said about these things forever: The only time a contract holdout is truly damaging is when it's a player the team is counting on to play a key role in year one, and when it's at a position where catching up is going to be very hard -- as in quarterback.

It killed Akili Smith's rookie year, and maybe his career, a decade ago in Cincinnati. It hurt Andre Smith's rookie year in Cincinnati, but that's as much because he came to camp out of shape and overweight last year. Short holdouts are rarely kill shots to a player's rookie season.

2. I think Ricky Williams is the best running back on the Dolphins. Think about how amazing that is. He's 33. He's carried the ball 401 times the last two years. And watching practice Sunday at Dolphins camp, I saw a spry, still-explosive back working as hard as rookies. It'll be very interesting to see if Miami tries to re-sign him after this year. Both he and Ronnie Brown are set to be free agents next winter.

3. I think Albert Haynesworth thinks Mike Shanahan's being unfair to him by forcing him to pass this conditioning test. I don't agree. Shanahan has two gate-keeping ways for players to be admitted to training camp. They can either participate in 50 percent or more of the offseason workouts at the Redskins' facility. Or they can complete a conditioning test.

For linemen, the test consists of two 300-yard shuttles (running 25 yards back and forth six times). The first 300-yard shuttle must be run in 70 seconds. Then the player gets a three-and-half-minute break. The second shuttle must be run in 73 seconds. Most teams have conditioning tests something (but not exactly) like this. The bottom line is if Haynesworth were in tip-top shape, he'd pass it. I think if a player has made $35 million in the past 16 months, he ought to be in tip-top shape entering camp.

4. I think the Broncos just might be regretting dealing J.J. Arrington to the Eagles. If you hadn't heard, both top running backs, Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter, were hurt on the first weekend of camp.

5. I think it's looking like a Maryland Tweetup on Aug. 18 -- either in Westminster, site of the Ravens' training camp, or in Baltimore. Hang in for further details. I'll let you know the deal on Twitter @SI_PeterKing when I get it worked out sometime this week.

6. I think if you'd like to come and heckle me at one of my remaining stops, bring it on. My schedule:

• Today: Tampa Bay (but leaving early for NBC "Football Night in America'' meeting in New York)• Tuesday: San Diego.• Wednesday: San Francisco (Santa Clara, Calif.).• Thursday: Arizona (Flagstaff, Ariz.).• Friday: Houston.• Saturday: St. Louis (intrasquad scrimmage).• Sunday: Chicago (Bourbonnais, Ill.).• Aug. 9: Indianapolis (Anderson, Ind.).• Aug. 11: New Orleans (Providence, R.I., before preseason game at Pats).• Aug. 13: New York Jets (Cortland, N.Y.).• Aug. 14: New York Giants (Albany, N.Y.).• Aug. 15: Philadelphia (Bethlehem, Pa.).• Aug. 16: Pittsburgh (Latrobe, Pa.).• Aug. 17: Washington (Ashburn, Va.).• Aug. 18: Baltimore (Westminster, Md.).• Aug. 26: New England (home preseason game vs. Rams)• Other games TBA

7. I think I've got bus envy. I want a bus for this trip next year. In fact, I know I do. I figured that out while waiting four hours for my 36-minute flight from Atlanta to Greenville, S.C., the other night, after I figured I could have driven to and back from Greenville in the time I was drinking at the Atlanta airport hotel bar. I also think I probably won't get a bus -- unless John Madden decides to chauffeur me around.

8. I think I'll start worrying about Darrelle Revis missing summer practices around Labor Day. At the same time, Revis missing camp is exactly the kind of thing that happens when you have 36 stars on your team, many of whom think they're underpaid, as stars often do. When the Jets decided to build a team that led the league in Q rating, this was the kind of thing they knew could happen.

9. I think, at the end of the day, what dooms the Revis talks from a soft-landing of a resolution is the $15-million-a-year deal Nnamdi Asomugha got 16 months ago. Revis is a better player who had a better 2009 season than any other corner in football. So if you're Revis, you ask, "Why would I take a dime less than Asomugha?'' If you're the Jets, you say, "Apples and oranges. You've got three years left on your contract, and Asomugha was a free-agent.'' And so it goes.

10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:

a. Welcome back to the ranks of the employed, David Elfin. The ace ex-Redskins beat man will now cover the NFC East for AOL Fanhouse.

b. Those who heard it said Ed Werder gave one heck of a eulogy at the Friday funeral for ESPN producer Leah Siegel in Dallas. She died at 43 of breast cancer. Kudos to the Broncos, Packers, Redskins and Saints for remembering Leah with floral arrangements.

c. The Dallas Morning News' had this powerful Sunday story on Leah Siegel.

d. Found myself in the same hotel Sunday night, the SpringHill Suites in Tampa, where I stayed for my spring-training trip with my two brothers and brother-in-law. Eerie feeling, thinking back on the great time we had and Bob now being gone.

e. Palms getting a little sweaty, A-Rod?

f. Can't believe I didn't eat a four-way at Skyline last week in the Cincinnati environs. Miss that culinary delight.

g. Experience four innings of Gwinnett Braves baseball the other night. A fun place. I counted 34 beers on tap, and came up with the reality of what successful minor-league baseball is. At a good minor-league game, the ticket price really is a cover charge. For farm-team owners, isn't minor-league ball really all about the concessions?

h. That airport in Lexington, Ky., is beautiful. Clean. Very horse-conscious. No long lines, even at rush-hour times.

i. That Rick Pitino story gives me the creeps. Triple creeps.

j. Coffeenerdness: Back to my two triple grande hazelnut lattes on this road trip. Have mercy on me. The schedule's fun, but it's a killer.

k. I think I've settled on the half-marathon I'm going to do, as my punishment for saying something really dumb last winter about Terrell Owens. (I said if Owens signed with the Bengals, I'd run an ultra-marathon. He signed with the Bengals. I'm not running 50 miles. As you probably can figure, I would die on the course. Face it: I'd crawl to run 20. But I'm running five now, twice a week, so I think I can work myself up to 13.1.)

The New Hampshire Half-Marathon is Oct. 2, a Saturday morning, in Bristol, N.H. Let's try to figure out a good charity to benefit me trying to do something I may have no business doing. Send your ideas to either siwriters@simail.com or on Twitter @SI_PeterKing. I'll probably do something different than the USO this time, just because we've helped them quite a bit to this point. But I'll let you readers decide.

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