Ten things I think I think with this year's draft approaching
After a long weekend of fact-finding (and misinformation-farming) for my
"Never seen that before,'' said one veteran club official who was on the field at Stanford for the workout. "But I think he wanted to show everybody who had any question about his arm that they shouldn't. The great thing was, his last throw of the day, into the wind, was a go with the ball snapped from his own 30. He dropped back and released it around his 24. That ball went all the way to the goal line, about 75 yards in the air. Perfect spiral. He hit the receiver in stride, and he dropped it. And someone said, 'That's saying
Simms actually said last fall he didn't see "big-time NFL throws ... and not a tremendous amount of power.'' I didn't see much of it either, watching Luck tape last week from Stanford's game against Oregon last season; Stanford plays a lot of power football and a move-the-chains game. But this throw shows some of the power. Take
If the Vikings stay where they are, it's most likely they go for the long-term protector of second-year QB Christian Ponder instead of a desperately needed cover man like Claiborne. Then, Cleveland. I heard different things over the weekend from people I trust. GM Tom Heckert loves Blackmon and that would be his pick; president Mike Holmgren is still trying to decide with finality if Tannehill is the franchise quarterback worth taking here. The safest pick? Richardson, at a need position, even though receiver is a bigger need.
As I did the magazine's mock draft over the weekend, the one thing I found is a cadre of about 20 picks mentioned throughout the round. South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the second corner on the board now that Janoris Jenkins' character has knocked him out of the first round, could go anywhere from 7 to 27, defensive tackle Michael Brockers from 9 to 25. So what does iconoclast GM Gene Smith do in Jacksonville? This could be a Tyson Alualu-type draft. A couple of years ago, Jacksonville overpaid for Alualu at 10, unable to trade down a few spots where GM Gene Smith would still be able to take him. Gilmore could be tempting for the Jags.
Finally, it's fitting that, on Patriots Day in Massachusetts, Bill Belichick celebrates his 60th birthday. Time to wonder how much longer the 17-year head coach has on the sidelines.
Belichick doesn't seem to age in dog years the way some coaches do. He has said he won't be coaching until he's 70, but no one with the Patriots thinks he's in his final year or two either.
He starts 2012 ninth on the all-time win list, with a 192-104 record, including playoffs. Next to pass: Chuck Knox (193), Dan Reeves (201), Marty Schottenheimer (205). All of those men could be passed this season, if the Patriots excel in the regular season again.
Then we get to the top five: Chuck Noll 209, Curly Lambeau 229, Tom Landry 270, George Halas 324 and Don Shula 347. I can see him passing Noll and Lambeau, but the siren song of his life outside football might be too great for him to coach the seven or eight more years he'd need, realistically, to catch Landry, particularly with Tom Brady getting up there in age. But sometime in the next two seasons, we should see Belichick enter the hallowed ground of the five winningest coaches ever.
"Some people will never understand the feeling of what it means to be an Auburn man. But I'm lucky enough to be able to raise my right hand and be able to say, 'I can.' "
"He beat Robert Griffin 59 to 24, he beat Andrew Luck in the Fiesta Bowl, he beat Landry Jones, he beat Ryan Tannehill. I like Brandon Weeden, as you can tell. I would find something for him to do.''
"I ain't going to say I was sad because the only thing they remember is that pass. You gotta go back and look at the rest of the games. I wasn't getting no balls, and you had to make some of these plays where some players were open and he is not making the throws. But I don't want to talk bad about Tim, but hey, I am happy we got Peyton."
Interesting that the pass to which Thomas refers is so easily wiped away, minimized, forgotten, whatever. There are Hall of Fame receivers who don't have the kind of electric, scintillating, once-in-a-career moment Thomas had when he caught an 80-yard touchdown pass from Tebow on the first play of overtime to beat Super Bowl contender Pittsburgh in the playoffs in January.
Demaryius, the day you retire, ESPN will replay that 80-yard touchdown pass five times. You'll have to have an incredible career for any play you ever make to eclipse that forgettable, meaningless touchdown that made the earth shake on the field in Denver that day.
In other words, a little gratitude toward the departed thrower of that biggest reception of your NFL career might be nice.
"People need to hear how far-gone this league has gotten and how far removed we have taken ourselves as a society to care about lives less than we care about winning f------ football games. It's unreal to me, man. It's just a sport ... It's exhausting to try and explain why this is wrong to people. There are mothers I've talked to who lost their children because of concussions suffered in youth football. When I listened to the [Gregg Williams] audio, all I can picture are these mothers bawling their eyes out and being so irate that these people don't care about their kids.''
This from the mind of the great Gil Brandt:
Amazing the bust factor at linebacker in the last 10 years. Brandt tipped me onto this, and he's absolutely right: Look at the top 10 picks in the draft from 2001 to 2010. Six have been linebackers (if you count Terrell Suggs as a defensive end). The six are A.J. Hawk, Ernie Sims, Keith Rivers, Jerod Mayo, Aaron Curry and Rolando McClain. One of the six has made a Pro Bowl -- Mayo -- and he's made just one. Rivers was
One Pro Bowl linebacker picked in a decade in the top 10 of the draft. Contrast that to defensive linemen: Twenty-six were picked in the top 10 of the draft from 2001 to 2010 -- obviously counting Suggs as a defensive end -- and those 26 have made 29 Pro Bowls.
Boise State defensive end Shea McClellin, from the tiny town of Marsing in southwest Idaho, grew up on Chicken Dinner Road.
"She is gone ... The unsinkable ship ... Lost in the depths ... All around check their watches 2.20 a.m. -- exactly.''
"Yanks home opener. Elevator door opens and there's Ben Roethlisberger. Sure, why not?''
''Sounds like an article from The Onion.''
"We had a lot of discussions about whether we should eliminate it," Mara said. "There's no consensus on it right now, but I could see the day in the future where that play could be taken out of the game. You see it evolving toward that."
Highlight of the first weekend, I would think: Peyton Manning's Denver debut somewhere in prime time on Sunday (NBC) or Monday (ESPN). The Giants and Cowboys kick off the season on Wednesday, Sept. 5 in New Jersey (instead of Thursday) because of President Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.
a. To all at
b. Good luck in your first marathon (Boston) today, Tedy Bruschi. It's going to be historically warm, so be safe. Bruschi's running for the American Stroke Association.
c. Why would Tebow get lustily booed at a Yankee game, which happened last night?
d. Good luck with the New Orleans Hornets, Tom Benson. That's a good civic thing to do.
e. Mike Florio on the abomination of the Flyers-Penguins fight fest Sunday afternoon: "So when do former hockey players start suing the NHL over the referees allowing the players to pound the crap out of each other?''
How can Gary Bettman allow that to stand? I don't care if it's the playoffs. The only way that crap is going to stop is with suspensions. Lots of them.
f. Best three hours I spent last week: sunny Friday afternoon watching Red Sox 12, Rays 2. Fenway spooks David Price. Josh Beckett got 'em out throwing 89-mph fastballs. Odd.
g. Glad I drafted Ortiz.
h. Most interesting 10-minute conversation last week: chatting up Joe Maddon before the game. "Everybody says we're a pitching and defense team, and we are, I guess,'' he said. "But did you know that over the last two years, we're sixth in the major leagues in runs scored?'' That I didn't know. Pleasant fellow. We talked a lot about how much he puts the shift on -- even against lousy hitters. "The information's there for everyone to see,'' he said. "If they're not going to hit it in a certain spot, why play someone there?''
i. Best two hours and nine minutes I spent, non-baseball edition: Watching
j. Best TV feature of the week (by far, from what I saw): ESPN's story of Trent Richardson taking cancer survivor Courtney Alvis to her Hueytown (Ala.) High senior prom. "I'm kinda nervous,'' Richardson says as he finishes dressing in a tuxedo for the prom. "I gotta ask her parents if I can take her to the prom.'' Really heartfelt and warm. That was one happy kid.
k. Utterly fantastic tribute to the late Mike Wallace on
l. I love Jim Irsay tweeting that he'd like to find the "fowl swine'' who stole Tom Petty's five guitars last week. It's "foul,'' by the way. And my guess is the lousy lout probably doesn't follow Jim Irsay on Twitter.
m. Wouldn't go handing the NL pennant to the Phils just yet, not with a 3 through 8 in the order Saturday against the Mets of Jimmy Rollins, Hunter Pence, John Mayberry Jr., Ty Wigginton, Freddy Galvis, Brian Schneider. Yikes.
n. Heath Bell's last three outings for Miami: 2.0 innings, 17 batters faced, 11 baserunners, six scored. Yikes.
o. Beernerdness: Spring at Fenway, and UFO Hefeweizen on tap in one of the stadium bars. Nothing wrong with that.
p. Coffeenerdness: Finally found a restaurant in Manhattan with good post-dinner espresso. Montebello, on 56th Street in midtown. We'll be back.
q. So long, Rick Cleveland. Been great having you in the business. Mississippi's been