Tuesday February 15th, 2011

The NFL's silly season officially has begun. Here are 10 Things I Think I Think on matters on and off the field:

1. I think Titans fans alarmed by the hiring of Chris Palmer as offensive coordinator shouldn't be. Good football man. Trusted by Eli Manning when he was his position coach with the Giants. They should be much more worried about who Palmer will be coaching. There's no long-term quarterback there.

2. I think San Diego GM A.J. Smith was partially right today when he said after franchising Vincent Jackson that the Chargers very much want Jackson on their team. He should have added "at a price very favorable to the team,'' which is what, over 2010 and '11, San Diego will have gotten Jackson for.

3. I think it's not over for Carson Palmer in Cincinnati. Jay Gruden's going to convince him he can be great in Gruden's West Coast offense, and I believe Marvin Lewis will do Palmer a favor and make sure neither Chad Ochocinco or Terrell Owens will be on the roster opening day -- whenever that is.

4. I think I like the brainpower Cleveland's brought in to help young coach Pat Shurmur, with Gil Haskell, Keith Gilbertson, Ray Rhodes and Mike Holmgren just down the hall to be sounding boards for Shurmur in his first head coaching job at any level. But I also fear very strong-willed coaches in the past -- Holmgren and Rhodes -- might be overbearing for Shurmur at times. They've got to make sure they're resource people and not more than that.

5. I think you shouldn't get too excited about anything in the negotiations between players and owners. History says players have gotten ticked off at pompous or overbearing owners during job actions in 1982 and 1987, the way some players are angry at Carolina owner Jerry Richardson for whatever he said in a meeting 10 days ago. None of this stuff really matters in deal-making. The two sides are going to hate each other for the entire process, and that is not too strong a word.

6. I think if I were doing an over-under for when a deal gets done, I'd set it at Sept. 13. And I personally would bet the over.

7. I think NFLPA czar DeMaurice Smith might do a lot of things in negotiations with the owners, but the one thing he won't do is be pressured into taking a deal he doesn't like. Read Jim Trotter's story in Sports Illustrated when it hits newsstands this week and you'll learn that Smith is about as resolute as they come.

8. I think there's a 10-15 percent chance a deal gets done by the March 4 "deadline'' for the end of the current CBA. That's because this deadline is not a deal deadline. It doesn't matter.

9. I think the most surprising thing in commissioner Roger Goodell's letter to newspaper editors that was released Tuesday is one of the things he said about why the current system has to change. He wrote: "The status quo means failing to recognize the many costs of financing, building, maintaining and operating stadiums. We need new stadiums in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Oakland and San Diego ... '' Very interesting that the first city mentioned is a city that doesn't have a team, a city that could well take one of the current franchises struggling to get a new stadium built.

10. I think the city of San Diego needs to take the threat of the L.A. stadium very seriously.

Now for your e-mail:

• AN IDEA ABOUT THE NUMBER OF REGULAR-SEASON GAMES: "My wisdom of Solomon: split the baby solution to the 18-game impasse: Go to a 17-game season with one more bye week. The league gets two more weeks of televised football. The players get another bye to help alleviate the health concerns of the extra game. The extra game on each team's schedule is a neutral site -- London, Mexico City, Los Angeles, etc. -- where the league can grow the fan base. All 32 teams split the revenue of all the neutral site games. Two or three preseason games. Can you pass that along to Roger and DeMaurice?'' -- Michael Turner, Sunnyvale, Calif.

I'll do my best. In fact, they might even be reading this along with you right now. I love the neutral site idea, but remember, every time the NFL goes to a neutral, it costs the league money and takes away revenue of one more home game for a team.

• MATT WANTS TO SEE THE HEADS OF LINEMEN PROTECTED. "While the NFL's attentiveness to head trauma may not be going away, is it going to address systemic issues? All that I have read indicates the issue is at least as much about repetitive low-level brain trauma (e.g. linemen hitting each other off the snap EVERY down) as it is about traumatic injury. But at least from a rules perspective, responses seem to be all about traumatic blows. What will the NFL do to protect linemen? Do they have the courage to make fundamental changes to the game (like outlawing the 3- and 4-point stance)? And what is your opinion on Joe Paterno's idea that advanced equipment may actually make players more reckless?'' -- Matt Perkins, Rockville, Md.

I'm interested in seeing the long-term results of the study by the University of North Carolina, where each practice is monitored, and each helmet contact recorded. That could tell how much damage is done by the buildup of the kind of incidental contact that happens in football. As far as Paterno's idea goes, I think the better technology for helmets, the better the chances are that players and stewards of the game won't be as vigilant about individual contact plays.

• THAT'S THE WORLD WE LIVE IN. "Peter, the downside -- in my opinion -- to the never-ending methods of easier communication is that all of the sourpusses who don't get what they want on every issue can now be heard from in a myriad of ways. The shameful, pathetic postings, messages and rants about your role in the HOF voting process is a painful reminder of the close-mindedness that is rampant in the world today. There are likely millions of us who believe that you and your fellow voters are doing a fantastic job and wouldn't trade places for anything.'' -- Lee Simmons, Erie, Pa.

Thanks. I don't know what to do about that except answer the charges as honestly as I can. The genie's out of the bottle. We're not going back to a lower form of communication, Lee.

• I AM ACTUALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO THE SUPER BOWL IN INDIANAPOLIS. "Peter, I'm already getting tired of the national media guys whining about what an awful Super Bowl it will be in Indianapolis. It'll be too cold. We won't be able to get around if it (gasp) snows. They can't play golf. There'll be nothing to do. There's only two decent restaurants. It's a small city, they can't possibly know how to host a major event. (And on and on and on.) I know you have been to Indy many times, so you know how downtown and the stadium area lay out. I assume you saw the host committee's booth in Dallas too, so you probably know a bit about their plans. It's very early, but how do you think Indy should do as a SB host city? Any words to calm the doomsayers (or conversely, make the locals worried)?'' --J.H., Indianapolis

I love going to Indy every year for the Scouting Combine. The biggest reason is that it's so convenient. You don't need a rental car, or, really, transportation of any kind. Everything's right there in an eight-block-square radius. The restaurants are good, and it's a convivial atmosphere when everyone in the place is there for the same reason. So don't fret. Indy's going to do well.

• WE'RE ALL JUST GUESSING ON THIS ONE, MARCUS. "I have not heard this mentioned at all, but what would be the drop dead date for a season to happen this year? And what is the minimum amount of games that need to be played for a season to actually count? I can't imagine it's less than eight games. If it's less than 16 games, then how do you make the schedule work out to be fair? What if they only play 10 games and the Eagles play six NFC East games and the Cowboys only play four? So many issues, but would love to hear your early thoughts.'' --Marcus, Charlotte

Fairness is going to be out the window if the schedule is cut down to nine or 10 games. It'll be the luck of the schedule, and when you were supposed to play certain teams. As far as the drop-dead date, I'd say it'd be sometime around Nov. 1. You figure teams are going to need three weeks to get ready to play, and they'd have to play at least nine games to make the season seem even remotely legitimate.

• I AM A BAD BEER MAN. "Peter! You were in Northern California and you use your Beernerdness section to mention a Peruvian beer? For goodness sakes, that's the equivalent of traveling to Wisconsin and talking about the wonderful Panamanian cheddar you sampled while there! Here, in no particular order, are some phenomenal Bay Area breweries to which you gave short shrift: Lagunitas, Russian River, Anchor, Sierra Nevada, Magnolia, 21st Amendment. That's just off the top of my head. To add insult to injury, you were there for the opening weekend of Beer Week SF and seem to have missed it. Time to pick up your game Mr. King.'' --Jon Schwindt, San Diego

My apologies. I actually had a few of the locals -- Bison IPA from Berkeley and a Hefeweizen from Oregon, Pyramid, that I've had in Seattle before. Like them both.

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