Two headlines of the morning. Can't figure out which I like more, so I'll give you both.
• New Orleans is getting really ticked off about the bounty sanctions on the Saints, and fans are responding with their wallets.
• The Eagles are winging their way to Texas to work out Ryan Tannehill today. Hmmmm.
Jimmy Buffett did a concert last night on the waterfront in New Orleans. He wore a "Free Sean Payton'' T-shirt. He dedicated his first song to his friend and Saints head coach Payton: "Sitting Here in Limbo."
There is a town lots of New Orleans-area residents go to when they want to fish, Delacroix, La. It was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina. On the side of the road in Delacroix Sunday morning, as some of the fishermen left camps to return home, a woman with a tent was selling something. As the cars got closer, the drivers could see she was selling "Free Sean Payton'' T-shirts.
Outside the Superdome Sunday afternoon, about 30 locals gathered to protest NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's year-long suspension of Payton. One carried a sign reading, "Go to hell Goodell." Several wore T-shirts that read: "Quit hatin' on my boy Payton."
The Saints had two $100,000-plus suites available for the 2012 season as of the middle of March. Within 24 hours after the league's sanctions of the Saints were announced, both suites were sold. In addition, the Saints ticket office, in the three days after the sanctions were announced, had more than 150 callers asking to buy season tickets, with most saying they were doing it to show support for the team in the wake of the league's sanctions. None were available, the callers were told, but we can add you to our waiting list if you want. Add us to the waiting list, virtually every caller said.
There's a groundswell of anger in New Orleans, from what I can tell. Where it'll lead, I don't know. But I know New Orleans. It's not going to go away, regardless of how Goodell rules in the four appeals he must consider beginning Tuesday.
The Super Bowl is in New Orleans this season. Remember the booing Goodell got at the NFL Draft last year? That could sound charitable compared to the reception he could hear in New Orleans during Super Bowl week.
Eagles/Tannehill ... and, for that matter, Chiefs/Tannehill.
A contingent of Philadelphia Eagles will be in College Station, Texas, today for a private workout with quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
"I don't really know why,'' Tannehill told me Saturday night. "I'll just get ready to throw for them and do my best.''
Fact is, this is the time of year -- 24 days before Round 1 -- when teams buzz from town to town to get their drafting ducks in a row. The Eagles working out Tannehill could just be Philly doing its due diligence on a good player. That's what it probably is. But with the Eagles and quarterbacks, you never know. It could be more. The Eagles wouldn't seem to have a quarterback need, with Michael Vick set to play the season at 32, and the Eagles wouldn't seem to have the ammo to move up from their 15th spot in the first round -- without including their 2013 first-rounder -- to get their talons on a quarterback who might be picked as high as fourth (by Cleveland).
By the way, Matt Cassel's head shouldn't rest too easy on the pillow tonight either. The Chiefs travel to College Station later this week to get their own private session with Tannehill.
More from Tannehill shortly. Now for the remnants of the NFL meetings, and looking ahead to the Kiperization of our lives over the next three-plus weeks:
The Ten Things I Learned at the NFL Meetings (and Beyond)
1. If Roger Goodell is talking about changing the culture of the league, he should start with some NFL Network programming. Last Monday afternoon, a few hours after Goodell addressed owners for the first time since the Saints bounty scandal broke, the in-room TVs in The Breakers, a resort where the annual meetings were being held, aired something curious. On NFL Network, The Top 10 Most Feared Tacklers was on the TV in the 5 p.m. hour.
Number five on the list was a linebacker from the '50s, Hardy Brown, who played the prime of his career with the 49ers. A thin, 6-foot Texan, Brown perfected nailing blockers and ballcarriers in the open field with shoulder shots, knocking out more than his share in a 10-season career. Brown was shown making several brutal shots -- legal, but brutal -- and then he appeared on camera. Very matter-of-factly in the NFL Network piece (produced by NFL Films), he talked about the Rams putting a $500 bounty on him.
"The Rams had a $500 deal for my getting knocked out of the game,'' said Brown, who was not specific about which year it was. "The guy that told me was [Rams back] Paul Barry. I said, 'Paul, hit me and I'll fake it, and we'll split it, $250 apiece.' '' The segment wasn't quite glorifying the bounty aspect. But Brown told the story with a bit of a smirk, as though he was reveling in it.
On the first full day of the league meetings in which the shadow of the Saints bounty scandal touched everything -- and a day after league counsel Jeff Pash reiterated to me that Goodell was out to change the part of the culture of the league that reveled in violent and gratuitous hits -- NFL Network had a four-minute chunk of a program painting a player as proud that he was deserving of the other team putting a bounty on him, and matter-of-factly discussing it in an interview with the NFL's house filmmaker. If I'm the Saints, I'm searching YouTube today for the Brown segment, and I'm showing it when I appeal the league's sanctions. Wait -- I found it.
2. The Saints are not going down quietly, while Gregg Williams just might. Williams is still considering his options whether to appeal his indefinite suspension; the deadline is today. I don't know if he'll appeal, but smart money says he won't, in the hopes that by following the NFL's path to redemption by being an anti-bounty and pro-fair-play spokesman for the league, he'll get reinstated following the 2012 season and be able to coach, he hopes with the Rams, in 2013.
Sean Payton is appealing his year-long suspension, and Saints GM Mickey Loomis his eight-game ban, and defensive assistant Joe Vitt his six-gamer, and the Saints their $500,000 fine and loss of two second-round draft picks. I can't imagine Payton has evidence to present in his defense that Goodell hasn't heard in their two face-to-face meetings already. But maybe Goodell could be persuaded to soften the team punishment, given two factors: Williams doesn't work there anymore and -- since the league has absolved owner Tom Benson of any wrongdoing -- the loss of the draft choices hurts the team over the long haul when the team has already incurred the biggest collective sanction in NFL history.
3. This Saints crisis won't do much to bring the team and Drew Brees closer together. It would be naïve to say Loomis won't budge in his negotiations with agent Tom Condon over a new contract for Brees. He'll budge. But not very much. Loomis, I doubt, has any mandate from Benson to get the Brees deal done so the franchise can have some sort of good news amid all the recent bad news.
4. Bill Parcells will likely take the coaching job for the next nine months if Benson offers it to him, and if the terms are right. Parcells, who turns 71 this summer, could go on with his part-time ESPN job, and spend the summer in Saratoga at the racetrack. But I think if he could have one year of pressing the buttons with a Super Bowl contender, subbing in for a good friend (Payton), he thinks there are too many advantages to that to turn down.
I read the item Sunday on ProFootballTalk.com, saying in essence that the coaches on the staff wouldn't take kindly to an interloper who doesn't know the team, and I don't doubt it's true. But this is a unique situation in pro football history. I'd be stunned if defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, the only non-sanctioned staffer who's been an NFL head coach before, didn't accept Parcells openly. But we'll see.
Parcells history interlude:
Remembering when Parcells quit, or said he was done, is always a fun thing when he seems to be taking the whistle and clipboard out of the closet to coach again. Going back in history four times:
Jan. 21, 1993:
"This is my last coaching job, without question.''
-- Parcells, upon taking his second head-coaching job, in New England.
Jan. 3, 2000:
"I'm not going to coach any more football games. This definitely is the end of my coaching career.''
-- Parcells, resigning as the head coach of the New York Jets.
Jan. 11, 2002:
"You can write this on your little chalkboard -- I'm not coaching again.''
-- Parcells, after spurning an offer from Tampa Bay to succeed Tony Dungy.
Jan. 22, 2007:
"I'm retiring from coaching football ... It's time to stop. I just have to let it go.''
-- Parcells, announcing he would not return to coach the Dallas Cowboys.
I'm noticing a pattern here. Maybe Parcells should discipline himself to just never be quoted in the month of January again.
5. The Dolphins love them some Ryan Tannehill. I spoke with Tannehill Saturday, mostly about his workout in front of pro scouts and coaches on the Texas A&M campus last Thursday. But we also talked about how much work the Dolphins, picking eighth in the first round, are doing on the kid.
Club officials, including GM Jeff Ireland and coach Joe Philbin, dined with Tannehill in College Station Wednesday night, then spent about 90 minutes with him on the greaseboard Thursday after the workout. Any doubt now that Tannehill won't get past No. 8, where Miami picks?
Noted NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell says Tannehill is a more accurate passer on the run than Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, which is something to say for a guy who played wide receiver for two-plus seasons while waiting for the quarterback job to be his in 2010.
Tannehill worked with quarterback consultant Chris Weinke on his mechanics after the 2011 season, ironing out the herky-jerky motion in his pass-drops and working on opening his hips better on deep sideline throws to the left. But the attention from teams always goes to his time at receiver, where he was moved -- by former A&M coach and current Miami offensive coordinator Mike Sherman -- as a freshman because two quarterbacks were ahead of him.
"I was an arrogant little freshman at the time,'' Tannehill told me. "I said to coach Sherman, 'I think you're making a mistake.' He sort of chuckled to himself. I forget what he said. But they just told me to go out the next day at practice and run some routes. Two days later, I was in the starting rotation at receiver. Obviously, I was frustrated, but now I realize it gave me a different look at offensive football -- what receivers go through, how they see defensive backs, where they like the ball delivered. Things like that. So it worked out all right.''
It's pretty clear Cleveland and Miami are the leading candidates for Tannehill. I think he'd be a better fit in Miami because, after 19 starts at quarterback in college football, he may need a year of seasoning and time to get used to a new system before feeling the weight of a franchise on his shoulders. And right now, Matt Moore has more security -- and faith from the fan base in Miami -- than Colt McCoy has in Cleveland. One bad month and the fans would be calling for Tannehill in Miami. But one bad half in Cleveland and the chants for Tannehill would begin. Check out what Moore did in the last nine weeks of the regular season versus a rather prominent Super Bowl hero:
6. Jim Schwartz and Jim Harbaugh are actually on speaking terms. They don't hold the bitterness of The Nightmare Handshake against each other, though it certainly hasn't been forgotten. Interesting to note that after the handshake-turned-confrontation last season, the two actually spoke in the tunnel before adjourning to their locker rooms, and had a semi-heated, semi-civil conversation about the event, according to Schwartz. Both of them, I'm sure, would like to have a do-over on it. Interesting that Schwartz was miked by NFL Films that day. I bet that was some terrific audio that was forever buried from the postgame meeting on the field.
7. Bill Belichick is showing Greg Schiano the ropes. Mentor and mentee were together a lot in Palm Beach. "He knows every player in the National Football League,'' said Schiano, the new Tampa Bay coach. "When you're a young coach you go to clinics with a pad full of notes. As you get on in coaching, you know who you are and what you believe in, so maybe you'll go someplace and come away with a note or two. He's the one guy still when I sit with him, I still have two pages of notes. That shows you how bright he is. He's treated me very well.''
I wondered the other day, when Belichick retires, if Schiano is the kind of guy he'd recommend to be his successor as Patriots coach. You never know what the future could bring.
8. Stephen Ross is not backing down. "When you try to do big things, you're going to swing and miss sometimes,'' the Miami owner told me. "It hasn't made me a shrinking violet.''
Ross told me he never offered his coach job to Jim Harbaugh last year and the Dolphins didn't have the comfort level and familiarity with Peyton Manning that Denver had with him. He also said he thinks Jeff Ireland "has done a terrific job and is a great talent evaluator,'' and the way to build a winning team is primarily through the draft.
I was encouraged to see Ross be more public during the meetings. He's begun to talk to the media in south Florida more, which he needs to do, and he picked his spots nationally, as he did with me last Tuesday. "We had to get out of the bunker mentality,'' Ross said, and he's right.
This draft is extremely important for Miami. If the Dolphins love Tannehill, they have to find a way to move up for him, even at the risk of overpaying.
9. There are many more football people who think Tim Tebow with the Jets is a dumb idea than those who think it's smart. As one GM told me during the meetings: "Just watch it ruin Mark Sanchez. He can't take the booing as it is. With Tebow subbing for him every game and the pressure to get the ball to Santonio Holmes, Sanchez will crack.''
I disagree, vehemently. I don't know if Tebow's ever going to be a starting quarterback in the league for five or six years, or for any length of time. But I do know he can be an asset to a winning team. And if Sanchez can't take the pressure, that's tough. He should play somewhere else.
I thought Tebow was going to be used five to eight snaps a game, but listening to coach Rex Ryan in Florida, he sounds like he's open to more -- up to 20 -- with the field spread, near the goal line, on two-point conversions, and maybe even using Tebow as the personal protector on the punt team. Having a defense in alert mode for Tebow will be a benefit no matter how accurate he is. Or isn't.
10. Now we know what Green Right Slot Spider 3 Y Banana is. One of the great pre-draft TV shows every year is the series ESPN does with Jon Gruden sitting down with the top quarterback prospects and deconstructing their games. On Friday night, Gruden's session with Andrew Luck was on, and he challenged Luck for making a dumb read on a throw against USC -- on Green Right Slot Spider 3 Y Banana, one of Luck's favorite plays and one that he just got greedy on. He should have checked down to the fullback, Gruden was saying, but instead threw to his right to the wideout, with the matador cornerback for USC picking it off and taking it all the way back for a go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
You could see why Gruden's so successful at this. Quarterbacks read him, and they learn from him. Luck accepted why he should be happy to take the short gains instead of the big risks that backfire. "You can't go broke taking a profit,'' Luck said to Gruden.
I'll be tuned in tonight at 9 -- yes, instead of Kentucky-Kansas -- when ESPN rolls out Gruden's session with Robert Griffin III.
"They [NFL officials] haven't turned over anything that we would consider to be direct evidence of player involvement in a 'pay to injure' scheme that we could consider for discipline. It's very hard to have a productive discussion about punishment when one side has kept, to itself, all the information. It's a very, at least from our perspective, unfair situation where you have a number of allegations floating back and forth in the press. There certainly appears to be some information that's been provided to the media about certain individuals' involvement and references to everything from e-mails to Powerpoints.
"It's difficult for those players to be in a situation where they can hardly defend themselves from unsubstantiated accusations that are being made in the public. If there is direct evidence of a 'pay to injure' scheme implicating players or anybody involved, we are asking the league to turn over that information. If the evidence demonstrates that the players or anybody else was involved in misconduct, then we've been as a union zero sum when it comes to the issues of health and safety for our players and that's where we're going to remain.''
-- NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, interviewed by Melissa Stedler of the union-licensed ProPlayersInsiders.com website.
"I was misused. Absolutely, I was misused.''
-- Donovan McNabb, on ESPN, about how he felt he was handled by the Washington Redskins in 2010.
"Anything short of reverence is subject to ridicule.''
-- Jerry Tipton, longtime Kentucky Wildcats beat writer, on the criticism he has endured covering the team, in a New York Times profile over the weekend.
I covered many Kentucky home games for four seasons in the early '80s for the Cincinnati Enquirer. One of my first stories for the paper was about point guard Dicky Beal of nearby Covington, Ky., breaking his commitment to DePaul to attend Kentucky.
I'll always recall sitting on press row at Rupp Arena and feeling like scum. Fans there hated the press. I recall one time at Senior Day -- in 1984, I believe -- seeing center Melvin Turpin's mother at the game in a wheelchair, and someone there said it was the first time in Turpin's career that his mom was able to attend a game. I thought it would be nice to go ask her at halftime what she thought of her son's fine career, and what it was like for her to be at a game. Which I did. And about two minutes into a nice conversation, I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was assistant coach Leonard Hamilton. He glared at me and said, "What are you doing talking to this woman?''
Tough gig. Much tougher for Tipton, who's been harder on the team than most over his 30 years of covering the Wildcats. In the Times story, a fan told Tipton he was looking forward to him dying, so he could urinate on his grave.
Why the Buffalo Bills are excited, now that Mario Williams is on the team:
New season tickets sold in the first two days after Mario Williams signed this month: 1,600.
New season tickets sold in the first seven days after Drew Bledsoe was acquired in 2002: 1,273.
In 1991, Jack Elway took over as coach of the Frankfurt Galaxy of the World League of American Football. His GM: Oliver Luck. They worked together for two years.
"I visited my dad over there after one of my Denver seasons,'' John Elway told me. "And I remember a little kid running around the place. It was Andrew.''
Andrew Luck would have been very little -- like one and a half or two and a half years old, depending if it was the 1991 or 1992 season when John Elway visited.
Just thinking: Jack Elway worked with Oliver Luck. John Elway played for Stanford. Jack Elway coached Stanford. Andrew Luck played for Stanford. John Elway went to work for the Broncos, and as his first major act running the football operations, signed Peyton Manning in free agency after Manning was made expendable by the prospect of Indianapolis drafting Andrew Luck. That's one strange circle of life.
Two hours down the road from Sanford, Fla., site of the Trayvon Martin killing that has inflamed the nation, I sat down for a relaxing exhibition game in Port St. Lucie the other day. On the scoreboard before the game was an ad, with a voiceover by the PA announcer, for a shooting range and gun shop near the stadium.
A fan (presumably a local person, though he never said) who I'd been talking with a couple of seats away noticed me listening to the ad -- with nine soundproof areas in which to practice shooting -- and said, "You're not in New York anymore, Peter.''
"I've made sum mistakes, & have no excuses. I'm using the tools I've learned 2 move forward rather than backwards, & will B open 2 talking abt the details in the days 2 come. I'm confident that thr will B further understanding when the facts R revealed, & feel vry blessed 4 all of the support, esp from my friends & family.'' #beblessed
-- @ryandleaf, former quarterback Ryan Leaf, after being arrested and released on $76,000 bail Friday in Great Falls, Mont., for burglary and drug possession.
The Great Falls Tribune reported Leaf was found with 20 Oxycodone pills after a month-long investigation by the Central Montana Drug Task Force. He is being investigated for taking pain pills from a home in Great Falls.
Last November, I had Leaf on my SI.com podcast. We talked for 25 minutes about the weight of being the second pick in the 1998 draft (behind Peyton Manning) and the rehab he went through after getting hooked on pain pills, and surgery to remove a brain tumor. After going through rehab, he said he was most impacted by therapy with this message: You've got to move past this bust thing, and you don't have to live the rest of your life making up for your football failure in the NFL. He told me that day: "The fact that they said I didn't have to do anything associated with football ever again was like a huge weight being taken off me. I felt like that might be the only thing I was ever going to be able to do and to have such a rock that I lugged around for so long, being the bust of all-time or whatever, that was just too consuming for me, I think.''
"Watched 5 gms of Cousins. Disappointed. Saw limited passer w/average arm strength. Needed functional space to throw. Plant + throw passer ... Would need to be highly managed by scheme.''
-- @gregcosell of NFL Films, whose double-tweet analysis of Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins -- going against the grain of so many draftniks in love with Cousins -- is one of the reasons his Twitter analysis is so vital to people who follow the draft: He just goes by what he sees on tape, nothing else.
"Just went to see Hunger Games at a Magic Johnson theater. Tickets were $21,750 and a Diet Coke was $750. Seemed a little steep.''
-- @peteabe, Boston Globe baseball writer Pete Abraham, after Magic Johnson became part of a group that paid a world-record price for a sports franchise, $2 billion for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
1. I think 49ers quarterback Alex Smith is my Hero of the Week for showing up with food and drink for some of the hundreds of volunteers in northern California who were searching for missing teen Sierra LaMar. Smith didn't just distribute the food -- he also fanned out with one of the search parties and helped look for the girl, missing since March 16.
2. I think I'm borderline apoplectic if I'm FOX. Three times in the span of five regular-season weeks -- Weeks 14 and 17 in 2011, and Week 1 in 2012 -- the NFL chose to air Giants-Cowboys not on the NFC network for games, which is FOX, but on NBC.
3. I think Phil Mushnick of the New York Post had a great note about the Giants-Cowboys rivalry: The last time the game was played at 1 p.m. on a Sunday (or noon, Dallas time) was in 2004 ... 16 regular-season meetings ago.
4. I think you'll probably recall me writing about veteran NFL referee Tony Corrente three months ago, after he did the New Orleans-Detroit playoff game, then went immediately to Houston to be treated for tongue and throat cancer. He went through a debilitating regimen at a cancer center there, and this week he returns for a checkup. At last week's NFL meetings, Corrente was on the minds of many league coaches and executives, all of whom are wishing for the best when doctors examine him this week. Send some good karma Corrente's way, or say a prayer. Thanks.
5. I think the reason Greg Cosell is so good analyzing the NFL -- whether on talk shows, TV, writing or Twitter -- is he often makes you think. As with this tweet over the weekend about the value of running backs: "No question lot of late rd/FA RB have been successful. Inarguable. Question then becomes where do you draft a RB, regardless of talent?''
In other words, is Trent Richardson at four too high? Is Richardson at 34 too high? Cosell makes you think, and that's a good thing.
6. I think the NFL lost a good man Thursday -- longtime head athletic trainer George Anderson of the Raiders. He was 83, and died of Parkinson's Disease and diabetes. He finished his training career in Green Bay, but was best known for an invention that helps players get back on the field sooner than they would have in past generations: the Anderson Knee Stabilizer.
The device protects the knee by shifting the effects of hits to the side of the knee to areas above and below the knee. The device was first used by Ken Stabler when he suffered a knee injury in 1977, and it continues to be used by players today -- particularly offensive linemen, many of whom say they can move freely without fear of further damage to the knee while wearing the brace.
Anderson was quasi-adopted by trainer Pepper Burress with the Packers after being dismissed by Al Davis in the mid-90s, and worked as a volunteer trainer for the Packers in their late-90s glory years. This is incredible: Anderson, in nearly four decades in the game, worked in 15 league or conference championship games with the Raiders and Packers. He was one of the legends in the business.
7. I think the biggest injury of the offseason -- and I'll be surprised if there's a bigger one before August -- is the Eagles losing Jason Peters to an Achilles tear last week while he was working out in Texas. Peters will have surgery to repair the Achilles on Tuesday, and though there's a long shot he could return late this season, I think a left tackle who needs quickness and must put so much pressure on his foot, ankle and Achilles would be very hard-pressed to be playing quality football before 2013 dawns.
It makes sense for Philly to sign Demetrius Bell, the former Bill, who has played adequately at left tackle but not great. After playing a full season in 2010, he missed nine games due to injury last year. The Eagles could stay at 15 and pick up a good tackle, like Iowa's feisty Riley Reiff, but it'd be a stretch to think Reiff could play tackle better by opening day in the NFL than, say, the newly signed backup, King Dunlap.
8. I think it's crazy talk that Indianapolis won't draft Andrew Luck, and my viewpoint has nothing to do with Robert Griffin III's ability. It's just that Jim Irsay loves Luck, has talked openly of drafting him, and will have the final say on which player Indianapolis picks. Irsay has his heart set on Luck. I'd be very surprised if Griffin has passed Luck in the eyes of anyone who counts in Indianapolis.
9. I think Brandon Jacobs is a nice pickup for the 49ers -- if he runs hard. He tried to be a make-you-miss back too often with the Giants. Maybe Jim Harbaugh can explain to him that the biggest running back in the NFL should be smashing into people, not trying to avoid them.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. I'll miss you, Joe Posnanski. Good luck in the new venture. Whatever it is, it'll be a home run.
b. I'll put the over-under at 11 years for one of the three Mega Millions lottery winners from Friday night to be broke and say, "I wish I had never won. All it did was ruin my life.''
c. Are you seriously telling me Danny Ainge tried to trade Rajon Rondo? What a ballplayer. Rondo being Rondo is the only way the Celtics have a chance in the playoffs. What a performance Sunday against the Heat.
d. I have tremendous admiration for Notre Dame's women's basketball team. Drilling three straight threes in overtime to beat UConn? That's the mark of a great team -- one that will have its hands full with Brittney Griner and undefeated Baylor in Tuesday night's national championship game.
e. Now the officiating in the UConn-Notre Dame semifinal ... not so good.
f. The problem with the women's game, to me, is that all four top seeds made it to the Final Four. Women's basketball needs a George Mason or Butler to happen. It's not March Madness in women's basketball. It's March Regularity.
g. You know what's strange? The worst two teams in the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League are Montreal (73 points) and Toronto (tied with the Isles, 77 points). How can Montreal and Toronto be so bad? Original six. Hotbeds of hockey. There's only one team, Columbus, with fewer wins than Montreal.
h. Rick Pitino was classy, at least, in saying for once Louisville would be rooting for Kentucky to win the national title.
i. You'd think the coaches in this tournament would say to their players, after the first two times there were lane violations on game-deciding free throws, "Remember: You can't rush for the rebound until the ball hits the rim.''
j. Coffeenerdness: I've got to hand it to the folks at the Starbucks on Okeechobee in West Palm Beach. (Or is it Palm Beach? I always get the borders of the two municipalities mixed up, except when I'm within a quarter mile of The Breakers, which is a far more luxurious a place than I ever deserve to step foot in.) Terrific baristas at that Starbucks, friendly, lots of power outlets, good place to write, nice little patio outside to write at too.
k. Beernerdness: As long as we've talked about Jimmy Buffett in this column, I raised a couple of cups of LandShark Lager while in Florida. It could have a little more taste, but it's better than Bud.
l. I'm getting addicted to Brian Williams and NBC Nightly News. Very understandable for a football lunkhead like me, and Williams knows what a story is.
m. TV feature of the week: Scott Pelley's 60 Minutes story Sunday night on Brevard County, Fla., where 7,000 Americans lost their jobs when the Space Shuttle program was scrubbed. Raw emotion from the workers and utter devastation to the community is what the piece was. Pelley told the story perfectly.
n. Radio feature of the week: Scott Simon on NPR Saturday morning with Yogi Berra and Ron Guidry, talking about their very close friendship forged in the last few Yankee training camps, a relationship documented in Harvey Araton's new book, Driving Mr. Yogi. You can be sure, based on what I know of the story and the affection I heard from both men in this radio interview, that Driving Mr. Yogi will be on my Father's Day book list.
o. Reporter of the week: I'm late on this, a week late. But it goes to Chris Mortensen for his reporting during the Peyton Manning story. I know Mortensen got criticized because his agents happen to be Creative Artists Agency, the same as Manning, and it gave him an unfair advantage in Manning reporting. I can tell you that's not true.
Manning wasn't talking to Mortensen multiple times on many days during the process because they are represented by the same conglomerate. Manning talked to Mortensen because he trusted him, and because for the past 15 years, Mortensen has taken four or five days every summer and spent them at the Manning family's Manning Passing Academy. Those are the kinds of relationships that pay off one day in this business, and they paid off in this case with Mortensen getting the edge on so many parts of the story.