Monday August 16th, 2010

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- What I like about the Jets is they don't care if you hate them.

You're going to be hated when you say over and over that you think you're going to win the Super Bowl, when you allow NFL Films and HBO Sports into your camp for the most entertaining reality show/infomercial on TV and you're brash and full of yourselves doing it, when your coach swears like a sailor after 11 shots of Jack Daniels ("News flash -- football coaches curse!'' linebacker Bart Scott says), and when you annex every aging, famous player trying for one last shot at a Super Bowl.

And I mean it: They truly don't care.

They mock conventional NFL conservatism, which I love. GM Mike Tannenbaum gets in the car after a failed trip to try to get Darrelle Revis signed, and NFL Films is in the back seat with a camera trained on him, and Tannenbaum, who's a dealmaker, says, "I feel like such a failure.'' On Friday, here at training camp, I say to Tannenbaum that the line looked too good, like it was almost rehearsed. "Nope,'' he said. "That's exactly how I felt. I did feel like a failure. Absolutely true. I should be able to find a way to get a deal done. It's my job.''

In the show, Rex Ryan, in a sing-songy voice, walks through the SUNY-Cortland dorm hallway the first night of camp at bed check saying: "Revis? REE-vis! Where are you? Come on. Come on home.'' The classic quote about contract holdouts from football people is this: "We only talk about the players who are here. Got any questions about the guys who are here?'' The Jets' way is this: "Why ignore the elephant in the room?''

In the show, Ryan and Tannenbaum have a contest to see who can throw a pass into a net cleanly, and Tannenbaum tries to catch a punt cleanly. Not done for the show. "They did the same thing last year in training camp,'' Scott said.

"I'm not sure people really understand what happens around a football team,'' Scott said after practice Friday. "There's a lot of meetings, a lot of practice, and a lot of fun. It doesn't have to be all serious. We did a lot of that stuff in Baltimore too when Rex was there, because he believes in making the game something the players will love. Remember in Jerry Maguire, when one of the other players is looking at Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding and he said, 'Why don't we have that relationship?' That's how a lot of players on other teams look at our relationship with Rex.''

When I walked into Ryan's office Friday afternoon, the immediate subject was his cursing. The politically correct thing would have been to say, "I really need to watch my mouth.'' Ryan laughed about it. Shook his head as if to say, Like I care people think I curse too much. It's football!

"I'll tell you one of my goals with this show,'' said Ryan. "I want every player in this league to watch this show and say, 'One day, I want to be a Jet.' ''

Just might be happening as you read this. Scott said he thought there were "over 10'' players on other teams who wanted to play for Ryan and the Jets. "After this show, there will be many more,'' he said.

***

Nuggets from the camp trail:

The Revis Holdout.

Everyone wants to know if Revis will come in by the Sept. 13 opener, and I think it's more likely he will than won't. To explain the contract in brief: Revis will make $1 million this year, and at the end of the season, the Jets would have the right to exercise the final two years of the contract at a total of $20 million for the two, or they could release him. Barring major injury, it's certain they'd exercise the option. That means Revis, under the existing contract, would make about $21 million over the next three years.

With Nnamdi Asomugha in the midst of a $15-million-a-year deal -- signed in 2009, when he was a free-agent -- and no other cornerback making more than $10 million annually, Revis is in a tough spot. He certainly deserves a raise. But he has three years left on this deal, and the Jets have three or four young players they'll want to extend soon, guys who are among the best at their positions (center Nick Mangold, linebacker David Harris). The Jets have determined in-house they cannot tear up the deal and pay Revis a penny more than Asomugha. They also know the Raiders may not exercise the option of Asomugha's third year, and if he hits the open market, it's doubtful anyone would pay him what the Raiders paid him in 2009.

The only way I see this getting done is the Jets throwing a good-faith signing bonus at Revis right now, maybe $8 million, and adding one year to the end of his contract at, say, $12 million. That'd give Revis, in effect, four years and $41 million -- which would be less than Asomugha, but remember, Revis is dealing from the disadvantage of having three years left on his deal. That would be a bitter solution to Revis, I believe, but it may be the only one that puts him back in the game now. I don't see the Jets caving and giving him a deal anywhere near Asomugha's -- not with so much time left on the contract and with the prospect of a job action next year.

(For more on the Jets, here's my training camp postcard from Cortland, N.Y.)

***

Don't ask Bob Sanders about the future.

ANDERSON, Ind. -- Just ask him about tomorrow. The 2007 Defensive Player of the Year has missed more NFL games due to injury (49) than games he's played (47) since entering the league in 2004. "I don't look too far ahead, because it's a tough game to try to prevent injuries,'' he told me. "So I don't think about whether I can play 16 games.''

He never has played a full year in his six NFL seasons; either knee or biceps injuries have dogged him. But he looked fluid and fast one day in practice last week. I don't expect him to play healthy for four months -- I don't think the Colts do either, deep down -- but Sanders, who has been removed from team activities often in the last few seasons as he rehabbed, was in the offseason program and more engaged with teammates this offseason.

Odd perfectionist point made by the son of a steelworker from Erie, Pa.: "After the season I won defensive player of the year, I went back and looked at the film and I realized I wasn't as good as everyone thought I was. I did. I Iooked at the film and I'm my worst critic. And I really feel like there were a lot of things that I made a lot of mistakes on or I could've done better. There were interceptions and forced fumbles and stuff I left out on the field that I felt like, like, wow, I won defensive player of the year but I feel like I haven't even reached my potential. I have a lot of work left to do. I still feel the same way. I would never feel like I've made it, I've arrived and I'm this great player and I can't get any better.''

If I were coaching, I'd split the strong safety job between Sanders and Melvin Bullitt.

***

It's August, and the Giants again have the best defensive front in football.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- You see how far that got them last year. Too many injuries last season, from the start. Chris Canty, the rich free agent, and Rocky Bernard and Fred Robbins. Once the season began, Justin Tuck got dinged, and Osi Umenyiora got trashed inside and outside the building. It was pretty much a disaster.

This year, new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has lots of toys to play with, and the Giants could play some of the most interesting line combinations the league has ever seen. Fewell has experimented with rushing four defensive ends -- from among Tuck, Umenyiora (up to 257 from 250), Mathias Kiwanuka, first-round pick Jason Pierre-Paul and Dave Tollefson, who is having a great camp -- with no tackles on some passing downs. Tuck is playing all four line spots in practice. Canty's playing all over the line too. "So far it looks good,'' Umenyiora said.

The Giants won the Super Bowl three season ago by sending blitzers through the A gap (over and around the center) as well as around end. This year, they're experimenting with sending different end/tackle and end-end combinations from everywhere. A healthy Giants team will create more problems than any defensive front except the maniacally variable Jets.

***

Kevin Kolb looks good taking control.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- I watched the coach's tape of Kolb's six-of-11 performance against the Jaguars Friday night and took notice of how comfortable he looked leaving the pocket and throwing to targets on the run -- or scrambling when the play wasn't there. On his first third down, he circled back out of the backfield, pressured, and ran left, his primary receiver running free on a cross to the right of the formation. Knowing he'd be stepping up into the rush and throwing across his body, Kolb just ran to the left boundary and made the first down. He looked like the coach's son that he is, like he'd been prepping for this day for a couple of decades, not a couple of years.

"We practice throwing off-balance,'' Kolb said after practice at Lehigh Sunday. "The good thing about playing here is that you go against this defense every day, and they bring a lot of different looks. And we know there're plays that are there to be made. When it comes game time and defenses want to bring the heat, then we'll gash 'em.''

Looks like Kolb is forming a nice bond with one of the rookie receivers, fifth-round pick Riley Cooper from Florida. He was one of Tim Tebow's favorites at Florida. Speaking of Tebow ...

***

A shaky debut in Cincinnati for Tebow.

I saw nothing but the highlights of Tim Tebow's eight-for-13 opener Sunday night at Paul Brown Stadium. Three thoughts: He has to have better awareness of the pressure around him and make quicker decisions when that pressure's there ... The mechanics he worked so diligently to refine in the spring looked inconsistent to me; the sooner they become rote, the better he'll play, obviously ... His early downfield throw, a perfect 45-yard strike, was dropped. But he missed two open receivers too, so clearly he could have played better.

It's almost certain Tebow will be the number two quarterback to Kyle Orton, almost regardless of how Brady Quinn plays (poorly Sunday night), because coach Josh McDaniels is going to want to use Tebow in some goal-line and Wildcat plays at different spots on the field. As far as the mechanics, the Broncos have decided not to spend time during the season working on them the way he did in the spring; then, quarterbacks coach Ben McDaniels -- the head coach's brother -- would take Tebow aside three or four times a week and work for 50 to 60 minutes a session refining the long windup and delivery Tebow had. Josh McDaniels' theory is he wants Tebow working on the plays he's being taught, not continually thinking about his arm movements. Tebow's going to have a chance to play the way all Wildcats quarterbacks do. How much he plays depends on how he performs.

"It's different, but I like it.'' -- Albert Haynesworth of the Redskins, after playing a rush position in Washington's new 3-4 scheme Friday night against the Bills.

Now there's a great example of a guy who shot his mouth off before understanding that the Washington defense under Jim Haslett would have him penetrate more than stuff gaps.

"We want Ben! We want Ben!'' -- Chanting fans -- though not a huge number of them -- in the first half of the Steelers-Detroit preseason opener Saturday night at Heinz Field. Coach Mike Tomlin did not play quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who will be suspended for at least the first four weeks of the regular season.

Starbucks, Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, N.Y., Saturday, 6:45 a.m.:

I'm sitting there, drinking a latte and writing my Carolina Panthers preview for the Sports Illustrated football preview (get in line for the Sept. 1 issue now, folks) when an older man, about 60, walks in and gets a tall coffee. He sits in a plush chair angled so he's looking right at me from a distance of about 10 feet. He has nothing to read. He talks to no one. He sits, mostly looking at me but also at the people who walk in and out of the store, for the next two hours and 46 minutes. Then he gets up, deposits his empty cup in the trash, goes to the men's room, comes out and walks out of the store, giving me and the couple next to me long looks.

My question:

Who has the kind of time to stare into space and stare holes through someone typing for almost three hours? A contemplative half hour is probably healthy, but the guy sat there doing nothing for a half-hour longer than it takes a Kenyan to run a marathon.

***

Albany's a good spot. Had a swell time Friday night watching the Tri City Valley Cats walk off with a win over Staten Island in compelling New York-Penn League action in nearby Troy. Date night, obviously. Very Americana place. The stadium was crawling with 15-year-old girls and awkward boys feigning disinterest in them. My partners for the evening -- Willie Cornblatt (intern/very fast driver) and former Star-Ledger baseball writer Dan Graziano (now writing the NFL for AOL Fanhouse) -- did the very mature thing of betting every half-inning whether the ball, when rolled back to the mound after the third out, would land on the dirt of the mound or the surrounding grass.

There might have been more varieties of beer at the ballpark than there were fans, including a fine local microbrew, which led to the quote of the night from young Willie, an Indiana University journalism student. "We live in a Coors Light generation, and it's so sad.'' Words to live by, young man.

Houston GM Rick Smith meditates every morning. He goes into a large closet in his Houston-area home very early, shuts out the world and either mouths a mantra like "Peace'' softly and repeatedly or just sits in silence. Smith is a spiritual man who believes this period of meditation gets him closer to God.

"Meditation helps me,'' he said. "I don't try to do anything but just try to be, and to listen to God. I quiet my mind and listen to the message.''

I'm a big fan of this, though I don't do it, and I'm not a particularly religious man. We're so caught up in Blackberries and iPhones and Twitter and the constant flow of information that we rarely sit back and take stock of who exactly we are and what we're doing here. Good for Smith.

"Just got my press pass for Mon. night. Says I'm sitting in the f---- press box and parking in the f---- media lot. Must be a #NYJ home game.'' --@TheBlueScreen, Giants beat writer Ralph Vacchiano, presumably after watching the first episode of HBO's Hard Knocks show, featuring the colorful language of coach Rex Ryan.

By my count, the show was 52 minutes long and featured 23 off-color words by the Jets coach: 10 f---s, eight s---s, two d---s, two a--es, and one b----.

Now that's the kind of inside football information you just can't get anywhere else.

You have spoken, and we have two winners that -- I hope -- will benefit from the half-marathon I'm running Oct. 2 in Bristol, N.H. The results from your Twitter voting last week:

Wounded Warrior Project 343 Feed the Children 260 Gridiron Greats 175 Habitat for Humanity 143 National Brain Tumor Society 86

So next week I'll have details on how you can donate to Wounded Warrior Project (woundedwarriorproject.org), which helps the most seriously wounded of the American military transition back to society, and Feed the Children (feedthechildren.org), which is Chad Ochocinco's charity of choice and is hoping to reach 200,000 families by the end of 2010. Since I got into this race in the first place by questioning Ocho's word, I'm pleased his preferred cause was one that won your vote. I'm going to suggest a $10 donation to support the two causes, and I'll let you know how you can easily do it in next Monday's column.

A few of you have asked how possibly I'm going to run 13.1 miles in the middle of the football season. Good question. I might be insane. (But you knew that already.) I did run (plod?) 6.5 miles last Thursday through Boston and Cambridge, and I'll have another run this morning before I meet the Steelers in Latrobe. The way I look at it is it's always been easy for me to find excuses to not be active during the football season. This will motivate me to make sure three times a week I do what I should be doing anyway to take care of myself. We'll see how it goes.

1. I think Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee is the reporter of the week for tracking down Glen Coffee, the 49ers backup running back who stunned the team by retiring Friday. It's an interesting story. Football, Coffee told Barrows, "was a struggle for a long time. Actually when I look back I feel I never should have entered the draft in the first place. Football was no longer my dream. I found Christ in college. It changed my views on everything. But I still was a football player because it was expected of me, it was something I did all my life. I was basically wasting the [49ers'] time ... His [Christ's] will, I felt, wasn't football. He told me a long time ago to walk away from the game."

Barrows asked him if there was any way he'd reconsider. "No, man,'' Coffee said. "I've already told Christ it's time to go. I've already rung the bell. That's not going to happen."

When I visited 49er camp earlier this month, I sat with vice president of player personnel Trent Baalke getting background on the roster and the starting lineup, and it was clear he and the organization were happy with their running-back depth, figuring the 6-foot, 210-pound Coffee, the star of the 2009 preseason, was excellent insurance against a Frank Gore injury. Coffee never gave any sign of being finished with football -- until he walked into coach Mike Singletary's office and told him he was through. The game's not for everyone, obviously.

2. I think I could spend 10 days at Jets camp and not research all the stories that need to be told and interview all the players who need to be interviewed. What a camp. I've never seen one like it.

3. I think, speaking of interesting but ignored Jets stories, I expect Jason Taylor to play between 15 and 25 snaps a game as a designated pass-rusher. I think he'll not only be OK with not being a full-time player (he played about 80 percent of the snaps last year in Miami) but also will like this more, because for a guy who'll be 36 opening day, it's silly to think he'd get max production playing most of the game. And Taylor's smart enough to know that.

4. I think we'll find out this week that defending NFL sack champion Elvis Dumervil is out for the year with his torn pectoral. Now Robert Ayers becomes one of the five most important Broncos this year.

5. I think the saddest story of the weekend -- and maybe of the first eight months of 2010 -- is what happened to Titans rookie free-agent running back Stafon Johnson Saturday night in Seattle. Johnson suffered a crushed larynx while weightlifting at USC when a bar with 275 pounds on it crashed down on his throat during a bench-press. The Titans gave him a shot to win a roster spot with a free-agent contract, and Saturday was his first night with a chance to impress. The kid was filled with anticipation. Three hours before the game, he sent out a Tweet that said: "2day is the day that I have dreamed about for 16yrs now.'' But in his first NFL game, Johnson dislocated his ankle, a nasty injury that could put him out for longer than a year. He was a roster longshot anyway, and this will make his path to the NFL a one-in-a -hundred prayer, or longer, now.

Johnson was hit after making a reception on the final play of the third quarter and came down hard on his right leg. The leg was immobilized in an air cast while coach Jeff Fisher held Johnson's hand and a score of teammates knelt and prayed nearby; his former Trojan coach, Pete Carroll, came over from the other sideline and told Johnson he loved him.

The kid got a ton of love from his followers on Twitter and sent this note back to them early Sunday morning with words that I can only assume could have been affected by the pain medication he must have been on: "Thank u 2 everybody that sent up a prayer 4 me this is jus another bump in the round ill b good trust back better the b4 always know GHAP.'' GHAP: God Had A Plan.

I hope it includes a good future, in or out of football, for Johnson.

6. I think these are my other preseason Week 1 thoughts:

a. For those in central Indiana on Curtis Painter Panic Watch, the only way to judge whether the guy is hapless or hopeful is to see him for three or four series with lots of first-teamers on the field. He was playing with lesser guys against the Niners on Sunday. Relax, for now. Time to worry later. You'll see more of Painter with better players. Then judge.

b. Good debuts for two rookie left tackles who should start opening day: Washington's Trent Williams, St. Louis' Rodger Saffold.

c. Ditto, with an asterisk, Sam Bradford (six of 13, 57 yards) against Minnesota. The Rams had major protection issues with Bradford in the game -- right tackle Jason Smith looked particularly rusty, a bad sign for the number two overall pick in 2009 -- and he made a couple of poor throws. But he converted his first two third-down throws, ran the huddle well and took his first three hits since shoulder surgery 10 months ago. Hardly time to worry about Bradford. Might be time to worry for Bradford.

d. Dallas' first offensive unit, against Cincinnati and Oakland, has struggled mightily to score touchdowns. Cowboys gave up four sacks in the first 20 plays to Oakland.

e. The Raiders looked better than we all thought. Smart to keep Tom Cable and give the team continuity, and smart to play an attacking style of defense from the first preseason series. I also hear nothing but good things about the job Hue Jackson's doing as offensive coordinator.

f. Mike Smith told me in Atlanta recently he was happy with the speed and intensity of his youth on defense, and it showed in the preseason opener. Will linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and defensive end Kroy Biermann, particularly, looked fast covering and rushing, respectively.

g. With Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson lost for the preseason, it'll be interesting to see how much work Chan Gailey gives C.J. Spiller, who wasn't a workhorse at Clemson. You don't want Spiller entering the season nicked up, particularly with a physical Miami team opening the season on the turf in Orchard Park.

h. Bears could be looking for a backup quarterback, with already-iffy number two Caleb Hanie (shoulder) possibly out for a while.

i. Thought Jahvid Best looked terrific for the Lions. Quick, fast, not afraid of contact. He's looking very much like a first-round pick.

j. Speaking of first-round backs, Ryan Mathews (surprise!) looked very much like a 12th overall pick should look, with 61 yards on 11 touches. I was impressed with his physicality from the highlights I saw.

k. Saw nothing of it, but how about Aaron Rodgers completing his first 10 throws and 12 of 13 overall, for 159 yards, against Cleveland? Can you find a weakness in that guy's game?

l. I get the feeling the Eagles really want fifth-round receiver Riley Cooper, Tim Tebow's big (6-3, 222) target from Florida, to make the final 53.

m. Ryan Torain looks like he's ahead of all the backs in Washington save Clinton Portis.

n. Stat of the Weekend: First-half total yards at Dallas: Oakland 95, Dallas 88. Even with the Cowboys' second-stringers on the field for much of the second quarter, that's a good number for Oakland.

o. Best sign by far for Cleveland: Jake Delhomme looked like the old Jake -- though he was throwing some safe routes. He had time to throw too.

p. Can't figure out for the life of me why Tarvaris Jackson, the presumptive starter if Brett Favre doesn't return, would play just one series in St. Louis. Thought the object of this preseason would be to get him enough reps so he'd feel comfy if he has to play.

q. Pete Carroll Moment of the Night in Seattle: He high-fived the National Anthem singer at the end of the song.

r. Why preseason games mean nothing: The Jags lost to the Eagles 28-27. Looks respectable. But with the ones on the field, Philly steamrolled. In the first quarter, the Eagles outgained Jacksonville 165-10.

s. Why preseason games mean everything: Cards almost lost Larry Fitzgerald for a long time with a knee injury. Lucky for him it's just a strained knee -- apparently -- and he'll be fine for the opener.

t. I realize I shouldn't pity a man traveling on a bus that's nicer than some hotel suites, but when I heard Adam Schefter say on ESPN radio late Sunday, "I'm on fumes here,'' I had to call to find out the particulars. He and his crew were on the last leg of the trip, from Atlanta to New Orleans, scheduled to arrive at the Saints' headquarters about 4 this morning. Schefter told me the bus had gone 5,164 miles in 19 days, through 18 states and, with his bed on top of the bus' motor, he hadn't had more than three hours of sleep in a row since the trip began. "The toilet's been backed up for four days,'' he reported. But time to go home.

7. I think the Torry Holt-on-IR story brings up a couple of points. He's 34, so if he chose to try to make a comeback next year (and if the NFL is open business in 2011), he'd be 35, and he'd be four years removed from an impact wideout season. And now you ask yourself: Does he have Hall of Fame numbers?

With 920 catches, 13,382 yards and 74 touchdowns, the numbers show him to be one of the best 10 to 15 statistical receivers ever. (He's 11th in receptions, 10th in yardage, 27th in touchdowns.) But by the time he's eligible for the hall in 2015 (if he is through now), there could be 25 receivers with more catches, 50 with more touchdowns. It's already hell to get into Canton as a receiver. Holt's road will be very tough.

Second point: The Patriots have brought in four old veteran receivers in the last two seasons -- Joey Galloway, Greg Lewis, Torry Holt and David Patten -- for wideout depth. Unless they bring back Patten (doubtful, with him turning 36 this week), those four vets would have played a combined three games for New England and caught a grand total of seven passes. It could be that Wes Welker will have the comeback of comebacks this year and be full speed on Labor Day. It's possible that third-round pick Taylor Price is a very quick study and will be ready to go early. They'd better be, for Tom Brady's sake.

8. I think the Texans suffered the biggest loss of the preseason weekend, with rookie running back Ben Tate going down with what coach Gary Kubiak called "a very significant ankle injury.'' Along with Steve Slaton fumbling (again) at Arizona, that means Arian Foster, one of the most interesting rushing prospects in the league, is solidifying his hold on the primary back in the Houston offense.

I can hear you know: Who? Foster got his chance late last season (54 carries, 257 yards, 4.8 per rush), and he's the kind of physical presence Kubiak wants in the backfield. But he wanted the changeup that 4.43-in-the-40 second-round pick Tate could have provided. Chris Henry, another 230-pound battering ram, will get some carries in the Texans' offense as well. Not saying Tate could have been Darren Sproles, but the Texans needed some backfield speed, and now that's out of the picture.

9. I think one of my questions to the Steelers in Latrobe today will be: "Are you sure Dennis Dixon doesn't give you the best chance to win the first four weeks of the season?''

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

a. You feel a lot smarter than you really are when you run through Cambridge, Mass. You think, "All these Harvardians and MITians are passing me, looking like they could run a marathon before breakfast. Maybe it'll rub off on me!''

b. Thanks sincerely to Jeff Vaclavik, the proprietor of Deja Brew, for opening his eatery in downtown Bethlehem Sunday so that I, some Eagle scribes, the Eagle PR staff and pal/SI alum Mike Silver could have some of the greatest sandwiches in the United States. Mine: ham, turkey, tomato, a dash of olive oil and vinegar on whole grain toast. Fabulous. A bowl of tomato basil soup on the side, with pomegranate iced tea.

Eschewing sugar, I had to pass on the peanut butter balls, but the rest of the marauding sportswriters destroyed the platter of the 50-cent balls with peanut bits covering each one. Then I wrote in there for a while. I think if Jeff gave me a sleeping bag, I could live in the funky place with the cool movie posters everywhere (like "Kansas City Bomber'' with Raquel Welch). My sincere appreciation for your kindness, Jeff.

c. Ditto to Mark Braun and the folks at Doug's Fish Fry in Cortland, N.Y., Friday. Superb fish chowder.

d. Happy 50th, Fred Gaudelli. May you have, oh, about 50 more years to do the Sunday night games on NBC.

e. Coffeenerdness: Living on six shots of espresso a day is not the way to go. My jittery hands should tell me that. I'll be home soon, ensconced in writing mode, back to no caffeine after noon.

f. John Lackey reminds me of the old George Young proverb about paying veteran players big money. When I covered the Giants, I heard Young say a hundred times, "They don't play better just because you pay 'em more money.'' Lackey's actually significantly worse. No pitcher in baseball has allowed more baserunners than Lackey -- 235 in 154 innings. Pretty interesting value for $16.5 million a year through the end of 2014.

g. Lay off Jacoby Ellsbury, all you tough guys out there. You think he wants to crack his ribs? You think a headfirst-diver should play with cracked ribs? This is the speed guy at the top of the order the Red Sox have never had. Don't run this guy out of town. You'll regret it, I promise you.

h. I have done a lot of idiotic things in my Rotisserie League this season, but picking up Starlin Castro was not one of them.

i. Tweetup alert: I'll be having a get-together for my Twitter followers, and anyone else who wants to talk football, in Baltimore on Wednesday, 4:30 p.m, at Amicci's Of Little Italy in downtown. I'll be joined by Nestor Aparicio, local radio poobah, and would love to see a lot of Ravens fans there.

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