Memorial Day and Football
Editor's Note: Peter King is off this week, in California for his daughter's wedding. He'll return to the column next Monday.
While you prepare for/recover from your Memorial Day activities, and before we get into the “serious” business of covering professional football, I wanted to take a couple of minutes to remember why we have this great holiday. I don’t want to beat anybody over the head with it; I just think it’s important.
A little history lesson (I certainly needed a refresher):
• In 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War, Decoration Day was established for the country to decorate the graves of the soldiers who died in the war. The original May 30 date was chosen, it is believed, because flowers would be in bloom across the entire nation.
• After World War I, the day was expanded to honor those who had died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress and placed on the last Monday in May.
• At 3 p.m. local time, all Americans are encouraged to pause wherever they are for the National Moment of Remembrance: a minute of silence to honor and remember those who died in service to the nation.
* * *
One more thing. Since this is a pro football column and it’s Memorial Day, we should remember the 26 former NFL players, coaches and team personnel killed in World War II, Vietnam and the war in Afghanistan. Thanks to the Pro Football Hall of Fame for this list:
|Name||Position, Team, Year(s)||Note|
|Cpl. Mike Basca||Halfback, Philadelphia, 1941||Killed in France in 1944|
|Lt. Charlie Behan||End, Detroit, 1942||Killed on Okinawa in 1945|
|Maj. Keith Birlem||End, Cardinals-Washington, 1939||Killed trying to land combat damaged bomber in England in 1943|
|Lt. Al Blozis||Tackle, Giants, 1942-1944||Killed in France, 1945|
|Lt. Chuck Braidwood||End, Portsmouth-Cleveland-Cardinals-Cincinnati, 1930-1933||Member of Red Cross. Killed in South Pacific, winter 1944-1945|
|Lt. Young Bussey||QB, Bears, 1940-1941||Killed in Philippines landing assault in 1944|
|Lt. Jack Chevigny||Coach, Cardinals, 1932||Killed on Iwo Jima in 1945|
|Capt. Ed Doyle||End, Frankford-Pottsville, 1924-1925||Killed during North Africa invasion in 1942|
|Lt. Col. Grassy Hinton||Back, Staten Island, 1932||Killed in plane crash in East Indies in 1944|
|Capt. Smiley Johnson||Guard, Green Bay, 1940-1941||Killed on Iwo Jima in 1945|
|Lt. Eddie Kahn||Guard, Boston/Washington, 1935-1937||Died from wounds suffered during Leyte invasion in 1945|
|Sgt. Alex Ketzko||Tackle, Detroit, 1943||Killed in France in 1944|
|Capt. Lee Kizzire||Fullback, Detroit, 1937||Shot down near New Guinea in 1943|
|Lt. Jack Lummus||End, Giants, 1941||Killed on Iwo Jima in 1945|
|Bob Mackert||Tackle, Rochester Jeffersons, 1925|
|Frank Maher||Back, Pittsburgh-Cleveland Rams, 1941|
|Pvt. Jim Mooney||E-G-FB, Newark-Brooklyn-Cincinnati-St. Louis-Cardinals, 1930-1937||Killed by sniper in France in 1944|
|Lt. John O’Keefe||Front office, Philadelphia||Killed flying a patrol mission in Panama Canal Zone|
|Chief Spec. Gus Sonnenberg||Back, Buffalo-Columbus-Detroit-Providence, 1923-1928, 1930||Died of illness at Bethesda Naval Hospital in 1944|
|Lt. Len Supulski||End, Philadelphia, 1942||Killed in plane crash in Nebraska in 1944|
|Lt. Don Wemple||End, Brooklyn, 1941||Killed in plane crash in India in 1944|
|Lt. Chet Wetterlund||Halfback, Cardinals-Detroit, 1942||Killed in plane crash off New Jersey coast in 1944|
|Capt. Waddy Young||End, Brooklyn, 1939-1940||Killed in plane crash following first B-29 raid on Tokyo in 1945|
|Lt. Bob Kalsu||Guard, Buffalo, 1968||Killed defending Firebase Ripcord in the A Shau Valley (South Vietnam)|
|Maj. Don Steinbrunner||Tackle, Cleveland, 1953||Shot down over Kontum, South Vietnam|
|Cpl. Pat Tillman||Safety, Arizona, 1998-2001||Killed by friendly fire near Sperah, Afghanistan|
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If you would like something to read this Memorial Day, let me suggest this Sports Illustrated article by Bill Nack: “A Name on the Wall.” It’s the beautifully written story of Bob Kalsu, who was long thought to be the only NFL casualty from Vietnam (it was later learned that Don Steinbrunner, who had his career cut short by a knee injury after just eight games with the Browns in 1953, was killed as well).
Nack's article was originally published July 23, 2001, less than two months before the Sept. 11 attacks that prompted Tillman to give up his football career—and turn down a big contract—and join the Army Rangers for the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tillman was the first NFL casualty since Vietnam.
Kalsu, who played for coach Chuck Fairbanks at Oklahoma, was named the Bills’ rookie of the year after he rose to starter on the offensive line. While most draftable athletes served in the reserves, Kalsu refused. “I’m not better than anyone else,” he told family and friends.
From the article:
That September, after nearly eight months at Fort Sill in Lawton, Okla., Kalsu went home one day looking shaken. His uniform was soaked with sweat. “I have orders to go to Vietnam,” he told Jan.
They spent his last weeks in the country at her parents' house, with Jan in growing turmoil over the prospect of losing him. They were in the laundry room washing clothes when she spoke her worst fear. “What if you die over there?” she asked. “What am I to do?”
“I want you to go on with your life,” he said. “I want you to marry again.”
She broke down. “I don't want to marry again,” she said. “I couldn't.”
“Jan, I promise you, it'll be all right."
They had been married in the St. James Catholic Church in Oklahoma City, and a few weeks before he left, they went there together. Jan knelt before the altar. “If you need him more than I do,” she prayed silently, “please give me a son to carry on his name.”
Bob was gone before Thanksgiving. In one of her first letters to him, Jan gave Bob the good news: She was pregnant again.
At 12:45 a.m. on July 23, at St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City, Jan Kalsu gave birth to an eight-pound, 15 1/2-ounce boy, Robert Todd Kalsu. When Leah Kalsu visited her that morning, Jan fairly shouted, "Bob is going to jump off that mountain when he finds he has a boy!”
That afternoon, as the clan gathered in the Darrow house to head for a celebration at the hospital, there was a knock at the front door. Sandy Szilagyi, one of Jan's sisters, opened it, thinking the visitor might be a florist. She saw a uniformed Army lieutenant. “Is Mrs. James Robert Kalsu home?” he asked.
The young lieutenant went pale. Turning, he walked away. Sandy called Philip Maguire, the doctor who had delivered the baby, and told him who was coming. At the hospital, the lieutenant stepped into Maguire's office and sat down. He was shaking. “Do you think she'll be able to handle this?” he asked. “I don't know what to do. I'm not sure I can do this.”
Maguire led the officer to Jan's room, slipped into a chair and put his arm around her. “Jan, there's a man from the Army here to see you,” he said.
“Bob's been killed, hasn't he?” she said.
The officer came in and stood at the foot of the bed. He could barely speak. “It is my duty...” he began. When he finished, he turned and left in tears.
Jan asked to leave the hospital immediately with her baby. She did one thing before she left. She asked for a new birth certificate. She renamed the boy James Robert Kalsu Jr.
The funeral, a week later at Czech National Cemetery, brought people from all around the country, and the gravesite service was more anguished than anything Byron Bigby, Kalsu's old Sooners teammate, had ever seen. “I looked around,” he says, “and there was not a dry eye. We walked out of there biting our lips.”
Barry Switzer, who had been a young assistant under Fairbanks during the '67 season, was walking to his car when he turned and looked back. What he saw haunts him still. “Bob's daddy got his wife and Jan back to the car,” Switzer says. “After everyone was gone from the gravesite, he went back and lay down on the casket.”
* * *
Brady v. NFL, Part Deux?
Now that Patriots owner Robert Kraft has stood down and decided against appealing the team’s penalties in the ball deflation investigation from the AFC Championship Game, all eyes are on quarterback Tom Brady.
A few thoughts on that:
• It has now been 19 days since the Wells Report was released, and 14 since Brady was suspended four games. We’ve all heard lots of people declare Brady’s innocence: Former and current teammates, fans (even one from beyond the grave) and, of course, Brett Favre. But you know who we haven’t heard from? Tom Brady. Not one interview, statement or smoke signal. Look, I realize he had the press conference after the AFC title game, and that he’s saving everything for an appeal. But too much has transpired, and Brady has been accused of cheating. He has to come out with at least some sort of statement, even if it’s benign, and deny the charges. I don’t know how so many Patriots fans can lose their minds over the suspension of a football player when said football player hasn’t even uttered the words, “I am innocent of these charges and look forward to my appeal.”
• The word in league circles is the NFLPA thinks Brady is the perfect player and this is the perfect flimsy case to go big-game hunting on commissioner discipline. I guess the union is hoping to get to the point in federal court (after Goodell refuses to recuse himself as arbitrator) that Goodell is battered enough that he agrees to cut a deal out of the mess by ceding final authority on off-field and on-field discipline. Good luck with that. Goodell is as stubborn and hardheaded as a Wishbone dive back.
• Of course, that strategy relies on Brady going the distance with this. Team Brady has gone into hiding since the suspension was handed down, but the word around the Patriots is that Brady is angry and wants to clear his name, no matter what. Remember though, Kraft was in the same spot and stood down. It is a different scenario (Kraft really had no recourse beyond suing the NFL and the 31 other owners in a case he would likely lose), but Kraft and Brady are usually of similar mindset on this kind of stuff. Brady agreed to be a named plaintiff in the lockout antitrust legislation, but he never seemed to have his heart in it. He was certainly far from vocal about it, and he wasn’t very happy that, because of alphabetical order, his name was the only one listed when it came to Brady et al v. NFL.
• Also keep in mind that Brady has never been the darling of the NFLPA due to his refusal to take top dollar despite being the best quarterback of his generation. Right now, according to Spotrac, the Patriots are due to rank 16th, 15th and 20th the next three years, respectively, in percentage of cap spent on quarterbacks thanks to Brady’s team-friendly contract. That is not an accident. After losing the 2012 AFC Championship Game to the Ravens, Kraft told Brady on a shared flight to California that if he wanted get paid what he’s worth in a year or two, it probably wasn’t going to be tenable for the team. The Patriots did not want to pay 18 percent of their cap to a quarterback (as they were at the time), even one as great as Brady. Kraft told Brady that he was basically going to have to play at half price, which he will do from this year through the end of the contract in ’17, to help the team give him the supporting cast to win championships and enhance his legacy. Brady thought about it, and agreed. The extension was announced in late February 2013. Also keep in mind that, also to help out the team, Brady has never maximized the guaranteed money in his contract.
• Considering Brady’s willingness to toe the company line in terms of the lockout and his contracts, will Brady really see the NFLPA’s litigation strategy through to the end? What happens if, after Goodell cuts Brady’s suspension by a game or two, Kraft and Brady have another powwow, and the owner he greatly respects says, “Tom, like the team, there’s a way out of this where you can still insist on your innocence and you can get back to your team, teammates and the game on the field after one or two games. I think it’d be wise if you dropped the lawsuit, put the distraction behind you and do what you do best: win football games on the field. Take it out on the other teams, and let’s go win that fifth Super Bowl that will leave you alone at the top over Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw.” With training camp approaching and Brady in full football mode (he’s seldom not), will Brady continue to be involved in litigation strategy? Maybe, but if you polled those who know Brady, most would bet on him doing what he has always done: putting his teammates first and getting back to a total football mindset as soon as possible.
• And don’t discount Brady’s competitive streak when it comes to one other thing: his job. He knows how he got his job (taking over for an injured Drew Bledsoe), and Brady knows someone else can take it the same way. If Brady continues his fight, a court decision in a conservative court goes the wrong way and he misses four games at some point while younger and cheaper backup Jimmy Garoppolo plays winning football, Brady knows he could be out of a job down the line (although the contract certainly helps). It’s going to take a lot of reflection before Brady, who doesn’t even like giving up practice reps, allows someone else to take the keys of his team.
* * *
The NFL's drug problem? Not really
After the first lawsuit was dismissed, more than 200 former NFL players filed another lawsuit in Maryland federal court claiming the NFL’s 32 teams conspired to push painkillers on players without proper prescriptions or explanation of risks. Several former coaches were mentioned in the suit, including Don Shula, the NFL’s all-time winningest coach. The same lawyer, Steven Silverman, filed both lawsuits.
I’m not going to minimize what these players went through, and I’ll cede that I’m sure there were more than a few rogue team doctors not exactly following the Hippocratic Oath to the letter, and some pushy head coaches. But as with the first lawsuit, I have some problems with this one. (At least they’ve made some progress by not suing the league itself, like some Sith Lord in the league office was enacting a strategy to keep players on the field by ordering teams to push painkillers. Thought that was pretty much a non-starter and a deep-pocket money grab, and it was.)
I come back to two things: if a player thinks a specific doctor misled him, then that player should sue that doctor, as fullback Merril Hoge successfully did in 1996. And at what point does personal responsibility come into play? Were these players not able to determine: 1) which medicine they were taking; 2) looking up that drug in a Physicians’ Desk Reference in any library to see what the side effects were; and 3) deciding whether or not playing professional football was worth the risk? Unlike the concussion lawsuit, the plaintiffs can’t say the NFL hid from them the effects the drugs might have; they’re public knowledge.
I’m not a legal expert, so perhaps I’m being naïve and these players have a case. Of course, some of this litigation would be avoided if the NFL had long ago provided lifetime health care for its players, which it absolutely should be doing.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
“I think the Wells Report delivered exactly what the client wanted.”
—NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, when asked by ESPN’s Bob Ley what adjective Smith would use to describe the Wells Report.
“As I say, we’ve given all that to Ted. Ted’s had the opportunity to evaluate that.”
—Roger Goodell, when asked by CSNNE.com’s Tom E. Curran whether the league allowed Ted Wells to investigate the source of the initial leak to Bob Kravitz, or the report by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that 11 of the 12 Patriots’ game balls “were inflated 2 pounds per square inch below what’s required.”
Sure, Roger. Sure. That’s up there with the, “I’m available to the media almost every day of my job,” line at the Super Bowl.
“I wouldn't really enjoy being in the locker room with someone I knew was a domestic violence person.”
—Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, when asked by KTCK-AM’s Norm Hitzges about the Cowboys adding players with red flags, like defensive end Greg Hardy.
“That will torment him forever. Winning one game is hard. Getting to the Super Bowl is hard. Then getting that close and losing has to be tough, because we only remember the winners of the Super Bowl. One of the biggest gaps in sports is the difference between the winning and losing teams of the Super Bowl. They don't invite the losing team to the White House. They don't have parades for them. They don't throw confetti on them. Does it haunt you? Hell yes, it haunts you. I'm still haunted by some championship games.”
—Hall of Fame coach and broadcaster John Madden, when asked by Sam Famer of the Los Angeles Times if Seahawks coach Pete Carroll will be haunted by the final play of the Super Bowl.
“It’s like playing for Willy Wonka.”
—Seahawks DE Michael Bennett, on coach Pete Carroll, to Portland radio host/columnist John Canzano.
Does that make GM John Schneider an Oompa Loompa? (We kid because we love.)
STATS OF THE WEEK
Warriors guard Stephen Curry is 57-of-134 (42.5 percent) from three-point range during this postseason. Rockets center Dwight Howard is 56-of-137 (40.9 percent) from the three-throw line this postseason (h/t BasketballInsiders.com’s Tommy Beer).
Curry, who set a postseason record for three-pointers made (and he’s not close to done yet), has made 91 percent of the three-pointers he’s attempted from the left corner this postseason (h/t Synergy Sports Tech).
We are not worthy, Mr. Curry. See you in The Finals.
From Adam Vingan, the Predators beat writer for The Tennessean: “Blackhawks are the first team in NHL history to win four multi-OT games in a single postseason: NSH (2OT, 3OT), ANA (3OT, 2OT), per Elias.”
Hockey. Players. And Chicago also is not done yet.
FACTOID OF THE WEEK THAT MAY ONLY INTERST ME
Most guest appearances on Late Night with David Letterman, before the host moved to CBS, where he ended his this week with a pitch-perfect finale:
Marv Albert: 73
Richard Lewis: 48
George Miller & Tom Brokaw: 40
Jay Leno: 39
Terri Garr & Robert Klein: 30
Terri Garr?! I mean, she was great in Mr. Mom [editor's note: and Young Frankenstein] and seems like a wonderful woman, but that shocked me. I guess it shouldn’t, since Dave’s NBC show started in 1982.
Just wanted to say thanks to Dave, Bill Scheft and the Stangel brothers, among many others over at Late Show, who entertained us all over the years. And they’re all great sports fans to boot. Many of us grew up on Letterman, and he’ll certainly be missed.
STARWOOD PREFERRED MEMBER TRAVEL NOTE OF THE WEEK
I’ve sure Peter has touched on this over the years, but I just have to rant about three things:
1. Can people please stop crowding the gate at airports? Every time I have to board a plane I feel like Archie Graham in Field of Dreams slaloming through a sea of baseball players to save Karin’s life. I especially love doing the, “Is this person standing right in front of me oblivious to anyone else on line for this zone or just standing in the middle of the gate for no reason?” dance. The worst is when you’re in a busy airport, trying to get to a gate in another terminal and the crowd gets choked off because there are 200 people sticking out of one gate into the terminal. Is it too much to ask for people to stand off to the side or sit down until their row is called? I mean, get the heck out of the way.
2. Oh, and just because you’ve been standing in the middle of the gate for 30 minutes does not mean you get to enter the middle of the line as soon as your zone is called. Your zone was called after mine, so go to the back of the line.
3. Unless you’re on a flight longer than three hours, no one should recline their seats. In fact, there should be a button where flight attendants can lock seats into their upright position for the duration of the flight.
Bottom line: We live in a society, people. Despite what you think, the world does not revolve around you. Think about somebody else besides yourself once in a while. Why is this so difficult?
TWEETS OF THE WEEK
Spoke to Robert Kraft today. The @Patriots owner said he won't challenge the NFL over penalties & hopes that may somehow benefit Tom Brady.
— Larry King (@kingsthings) May 23, 2015
As if Deflategate hasn’t been ridiculous enough, now we have Larry King trying to break news. On a related note, I hope that eating that salad at lunch may somehow lead me to have Gronk’s body.
Stunned...my heart goes out to John & Alicia & family. An amazing partnership. Beautiful minds, beautiful hearts. https://t.co/XF4V9MBwU4
— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) May 24, 2015
The actor, who won a Golden Globe and SAG award for portraying mathematician John Nash in A Beautiful Mind, on the death of Nash and his wife in a car accident.
I love the offseason when I can get up Sunday morning and take my time reading every section of Houston Chronicle and NY Times.
— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) May 24, 2015
Amen, General. Amen. Newspapers are still a great entertainment bang for your buck. So much important information, especially on a local level. You know what I love about newspapers? They give you a chance to inform yourself and, since you’re free from Twitter, comments and bias, you can evaluate that information and make your own decisions. I’m sure I’ll get tons of comments about bias this and bias that, but I can tell you this: I worked in newspapers for 15 years. Not once did I hear any discussion about doing a story because it would further someone’s agenda. It was always about being the eyes and ears for everyone in that community. Nothing more, nothing less.
TEN THINGS I THINK I THINK
1. I think the Giants are fooling themselves if they think the pectoral muscle injury suffered by left tackle Will Beatty, which reportedly could keep him out until at least October, won’t have huge ramifications. Beatty had developed himself into a very capable left tackle, and now the Giants are left with either Justin Pugh (who underwhelmed so much at right tackle he had been penciled in at guard ) or Ereck Flowers, the ninth overall pick out of Miami earlier this month. I recently spent the weekend at the Coaches of Offensive Line (COOL) Clinic in Cincinnati, and the reviews on Flowers were not good. “Some of the worst technique I’ve ever seen in a player drafted that high,” said one veteran NFL line coach. “He played for one of the best coaches, Art Kehoe, and his technique was terrible,” said another coach. “That tells me he doesn’t take coaching well. That’s a big problem because all of the recent tackles have struggled making the transition. It now takes them until Year 3. You can thank the spread and the [collective bargaining agreement] for that.”
2. I think the biggest complaint NFL line coaches at the summit had was how they can’t get even talk to their players, especially those who just finished their rookie season, until April under the CBA. They’re not even asking to hit, they just want to teach their guys and watch film. Take the case of Greg Robinson, the No. 2 pick in the 2014 draft by the Rams, who struggled as a rookie and may need more time to be able to play left tackle. “They had four run plays [at Auburn] and one protection: slide left, slide right. He didn't have a snap count,” says Rams line coach Paul Boudreau, who has coached in the NFL since 1987 with eight teams. “Now, I coached Willie Roaf when Willie was a rookie. Willie's in the Hall of Fame. And I can tell you from a coach who coached Willie and now coaches Greg Robinson: Greg Robinson as a rookie has more talent and is a better player than Willie. Willie had a great coach at Louisiana Tech, and Willie was ahead of the curve because of the techniques he was taught, just like how we talk about preferring the Wisconsin, Iowa, Stanford and Notre Dame guys. They have one up on the guys from the spread. I'm not going to tell a spread coach he can't do it anymore. What I'm saying to the NFL is, ‘Give me a chance to change this spread guy to an NFL guy. Don't restrict me.’ Back in the day, we could take the Wing-T guys and convert them because we had the time. Just give me a chance to coach my guys and don't tell me I can only have them for four hours.”
3. I think this was nice work, Randy Moss.
4. I think I know this is sacrilege in this space (sorry, Peter), but I have little interest in the new extra-point rule. Of course, that will probably change when a playoff spot is lost on a missed kick in a bad-weather December game. But that’s the way I feel.
5. I think I have no problem with any of the quotes that Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis gave Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Revis said he doesn’t know what went on with Brady and said the Patriots “have a history of doing [illegal] stuff.” That’s called the truth.
6. I think I hope you have a chance to pick up the current SI issue, which includes my look inside the brain of Eagles coach Chip Kelly (as much as anybody can get in there). I also compare Kelly's daring rebuild to what Bill Walsh did in San Francisco. An excerpt:
“Kelly and Walsh each entered the league with cutting-edge offensive systems that many pundits deemed too finesse-oriented or pass-happy to succeed. Leaping from Stanford to the 49ers in 1979, Walsh believed that his offensive scheme could make up for San Francisco’s talent shortcomings, but he quickly realized that the same could not be said on the other side of the ball. In his second and third drafts, after starting his pro career 2–14, Walsh spent 14 of his 22 picks on defensive players, with 13 of those coming in the first six rounds. Likewise, in his second and third drafts with the Eagles, Kelly (who likely subscribes to Walsh’s belief that he can scheme his way out of any offensive talent deficiencies) spent 10 of his 13 selections on the defensive side of the ball.
“No question, the innovation [Walsh and Kelly] have with their offenses and how to run a team are similar,” says former 49ers CEO and president Carmen Policy. “People scoffed at Bill at first, and continued to scoff at his West Coast offense even after the first Super Bowl. Yes, you see the same elements of Bill in Chip, but Bill was much better prepared with his NFL experience being with Paul Brown [on the Bengals’ staff for seven years].”
7. I think I’ll be watching Rams WR Daniel Rodriguez, an Army veteran who served a 15-month tour in Iraq and another 12 months in Afghanistan, very closely this summer.
8. I think I'm glad to see The Tennessean and other media outlets pressing the issue to get the records released from the Vanderbilt football rape case. It’s important.
9. I think here are a few more lingering thoughts on Deflategate:
a. The NFL should have turned Ted Wells loose to figure out the initial leak to WTHR.com columnist Bob Kravitz. Of course I don’t like investigations into reporters’ sources, but we now know why confidentiality is a key part of the NFL’s “Policy on Integrity of the Game & Enforcement of Competitive Rules.” This whole saga got out of control because someone violated the very clear rule:
“Confidentiality must be maintained when conducting an investigation and when reporting information to the League office. Clubs are required to take appropriate steps to ensure that information concerning actual or suspected violations is reported and remains strictly confidential, and that no inadvertent or intentional disclosures are made to unauthorized persons. The effectiveness of this policy rests largely on adherence to maintaining the confidentiality of information; therefore, any unauthorized disclosures will be thoroughly investigated and will result in disciplinary action where appropriate.”
Has the leak been investigated? Who was responsible, and what was the punishment? Where’s that transparency you like to talk about, Goodell, but never actually follow through with unless it suits you? Tom Brady and the Patriots have been vilified because someone breached NFL protocol. They deserve the same treatment.
b. I know Peter has been pretty vocal about how the Patriots’ footballs barely fall out of the ideal gas law range, depending on which gauge the ref used. I look at it differently. Toss out the highest and lowest readings on both the Patriots’ and Colts’ footballs. The Patriots’ nine footballs lost an average of 11.2 percent and 8.3 percent of their initial PSI according to the two readings done. Colts’ two balls: 2.9 and 5.2 percent. It’s not a great sample size, obviously, but to me it’s a common-sense way to say the science is a toss-up, leaving the texts and lack of cooperation, which I absolutely believe should be viewed in the negative column.
c. Patriots supporters will continue poke holes in the Wells Report for their side. Someone can easily do it for the other side. If the Patriots did do something to the footballs for the AFC Championship Game, it wasn’t their first rodeo. Why didn’t Wells interview each referee and equipment manager from every Patriots game from last season? There’s a rumor in NFL circles that something went on with the Patriots’ game at Green Bay, and the league office knows that. Yet Wells did not interview referee Ed Hochuli, nor Packers equipment manager Red Batty. Why not? The investigation was incomplete. If there was a pattern, it could have enhanced the NFL’s case. If there was not a pattern, it also would have put the one-game allegations against the Patriots into a different context as well. Wells probably didn’t go there because he didn’t whether it would help or hurt his case, and he didn’t want to take that chance.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week.
a. You go, Ireland.
b. I didn’t care about the Duggars before, and I don’t now.
c. Reason No. 1,482 the NCAA is terrible: Boston College golfer Brian Butler made a hole-in-one to win $10,000 outside of his NCAA season, but he gave it back to preserve his eligibility.
d. I’m not exactly thrilled with what has transpired with Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones (especially since it’s been said much of it was not in the books), but I’m not throwing hissy fit about it. It’s a TV show.
e. Thanks for the memories, Mad Men. Loved the finale.
f. Any must-see music acts this summer? Catching U2 in Boston (has this been the quietest launch of one of their tours ever?), and would love to see Darius Rucker again (I don’t care if it’s Hootie or country, I’ve seen him about a dozen times and he never disappoints). Think my kids would enjoy a Taylor Swift show, but Daddy missed the ticket launch. Next time.
g. The first Yankees-Red Sox Sunday Night Baseball Game of the season at Fenway Park on May 3 had more than 4,000 empty seats. It was the smallest crowd since 2002. Get serious about speeding up the game! And the Red Sox are a victim of their own success: After three World Series titles, the demand is gone. The face value for tickets is way too high.
h. Just about to conclude my first season as an assistant coach for my son’s baseball and daughter’s softball teams. I have had a great time, but after keeping an eye on the dugout for a bunch of 8-year-olds—Bat stays in the bat rack until you’re on deck. For the third time, please leave the balls in the bucket. Could we pay attention to the game and not the snack bar?—I’m completely exhausted after two hours. One thing I’ve tried to keep in mind, that I think others should remember as well across all sports, came from a notes column by Boston Globe hockey columnist Fluto Shinzawa, when he listed some of the slogans used by USA Hockey: “Never be a child’s last coach.” Those words really hit home for me, and I’ve tried to keep them in mind every day. It’s not about your kid, or the best kids on your team, especially at the younger ages. It’s about making it fun for Little Joey, who doesn’t know anything about the sport. Whatever sport it is, make it fun, keep them smiling, and keep them in the game.
i. I don’t care how good your son or daughter is, I think competitive travel teams for kids under the age of 10 is just wrong. I was a pretty good baseball player and junior golfer. You know what my fondest memories of my childhood were? Getting together with the neighborhood kids in Boca Raton, Fla., and playing any and every sport in the nearby vacant lot for hours until our parents called us in for dinner. Let them be kids.
j. I don’t think it's possible for my wife to enjoy watching our kids play sports at this age any more than she does. I get it, and sometimes I wish I wasn’t coaching. This age is perfect. They don’t care about success or failure, and overbearing parents aren’t yet part of the picture. The kids just have a blast. You wish you could just freeze them. Of course, I could say this is the perfect age for a lot of things. Have recently shared the Star Wars movies, Hoosiers, Rudy and The Natural with my kids. They loved them.
k. Beernerdness: Haven’t had anything exotic lately. It’s the time of year where if it’s cold, toss me one. That’s good enough for me.
l. People who follow me on Twitter have heard this a few times, but I just wanted to reiterate how proud I am of Blue Jays rookie second baseman Devon Travis, who was batting .271 with seven home runs and 26 RBI before landing on the disabled list. Devon was one of the stars of the 2003 East Boynton Beach Little League team that advanced to the Little League World Series Championship Game. That team basically kick-started my career and I’ll be forever be indebted to them. Palm Beach Post columnist Dave George made one of the all-time great calls in his deadline column the night East Boynton won the U.S. championship over Saugus, Mass. Subdeck on his column: “Not to rush to judgement about Boynton’s slugger, but this kid’s going places.” We all saw it.
m. The Bedard family will be getting our Griswold on with a road trip to Toronto in late June to watch Travis take on our Red Sox. Can’t wait to have a reunion. From East Boynton Little League to the big leagues for both of us. If anyone has any tips for the Boston-to-Toronto trip (we’re planning on stopping in Cooperstown, N.Y.) please drop me a line.
n. Happy trails to The MMQB’s Swiss Army Knife, Andy DeGory, who is taking his talents to the business side to help in experiential marketing. I’m sure Peter will have more to say about this, but as Peter’s do-it-all assistant, Andy was basically Darin, the intern for Kramerica Industries on Seinfeld. Believe me when I say this, having spent a lot of time with the man (in very close proximity on the RV), working for Peter can’t be all that different from working for Kramer. Andy certainly deserves this, but we’ll all miss him.
o. Related to that, many of you know that after the draft I moved to the magazine and SI.com after two years at The MMQB. I have so much love and appreciation for my teammates here, especially the very patient editors, and, of course, Peter. It’s not every day that you get a call one fall morning and it goes something like this: “Greg, Peter King. I might have the opportunity to start my own NFL website. I’m not doing it unless I get the people that I want to work with. You’re my No. 1 pick. Are you in or out?” Peter said it might be the opportunity of a lifetime, and it was. In many ways, he’s the best boss you can hope to work for. I know he gets a lot of hate in the Twittersphere (I don’t get it; it’s like hating a teddy bear to me), but I love that man. I’ve had the great fortune to be around a lot of great men in my life and career, with my father being alone at the top. Peter’s right there with the rest of them.
p. From what I’ve heard and seen, Peter and Ann King had one of those weekends that you live your whole life for, as they married off daughter Laura in Petaluma, Calif. They deserve it. Two great parents who raised two exceptional daughters.
q. This is my second time pinch-hitting on MMQB, and you never realize what a colossal undertaking it is, even in the offseason. I don’t know how Peter does this every week. I get to the end and for two days I’m remembering stuff I should have put in. I apologize in advance.
r. One final thing: with my arrival at SI.com, we’re hoping to come up with a must-read column in the middle of the week. If you have any ideas on what you’d like to see, or any feedback on this column, feel free to drop me an email.
THE ADIEU HAIKU MOMENT OF REFLECTION
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