1. I think any argument that compares the four-game suspension issued to Greg Hardy after his domestic violence arrest to Brady’s four-game ban as a means of highlighting the NFL’s out-of-whack discipline priorities should come with a caveat. The NFL wanted to give Hardy 10 games, in line with it’s new personal conduct code, but that decision was overturned by an arbitrator who determined the league could not apply said policy to an incident that occurred before it’s implementation. That will be Roger Goodell’s rebuttal to the suggestion his league considers the act of tampering with football PSI to be equally heinous as physically assaulting a woman.
2. I know I’m not supposed to read the comments, but I think I love this simple back and forth between two MMQB readers in the comments section of a story on Jen Welter, who at 37 will become the first female coach in league history as she joins the Cardinals for an internship this offseason:
SuperVillainMe: This is just a stupid move trying to distract you from all the domestic violence and brain injuries and steroids and ball deflating in the NFL.
rodgers1125: @SuperVillainMe Or it could just be a team giving an unpaid internship to a woman who loves and appears to know a lot about football.
3. I think there’s one more thing I love about the Jen Welter story: I always assumed the firsts in football—first openly gay athlete, first female referee, first female coach—would fit the mold of humble, quiet types who make very little of their trailblazing status, much like the first black quarterbacks in NFL history preferred to be known simply as quarterbacks. Not so for Welter. Shortly after landing the Cardinals job, her Twitter bio read, “1st Lady of Men's Pro Football, 1st female RB in Men's Pro football w/Texas Revs & 1st female COACH!” Her photo was a portrait of herself in uniform, wearing red lipstick and flexing a bicep with an American flag hanging from her shoulder pads, and her interactions often centered around letting people know who and what she was. Landing the NFL job has predictably toned down her online presence—her photo is now a cardinals logo and her bio reads, simply, “Arizona Cardinals coach” —but it’s nice to think a woman could be just as self-promoting as anyone else and still land a dream gig coaching football simply by virtue of her football acumen.
4. I think it was always going to end this way for Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito, with the bully under contract and the bullied out of football. Eventually, talent trumps scandal in the NFL, and while Incognito still had a few years of good football in him after the 2013 blowup in Miami, Martin was never particularly good at his job. He gave up more hurries than anyone in football in 2012 (47) to go with six sacks he allowed, and two years later, after bouncing on the Dolphins, he allowed just as many sacks in almost half the playing time as a part-time right tackle in San Francisco. Tackle-depleted Carolina, who lost Jordan Gross to retirement and Byron Bell to free agency, took a flier on the 2012 second-rounder. This week, instead of reporting to training camp, he retired at 25 with a back injury. Bottom line: Martin was a poor player, and a victim in the eyes of teammates and opponents who pride themselves on being victimizers on the field. Only elite performance was going to dig Martin out of that hole.
5. I think these are some harsh words from one of the nicest guys I’ve ever interviewed. Goes to show how little respect NFL players have for players perceived to lack the mental toughness to compete.
6. I think Andy Benoit makes a great point on The MMQB Podcast (Thursdays on iTunes, SoundCloud and TheMMQB.com) when he draws a distinction between players with problems off the field and in the locker room. For better or worse, Andy said this week (and I’m paraphrasing now): A team will always tolerate and prefer a player like Greg Hardy, accused of assaulting a woman, to a player like Junior Galette, whose presence created an apparent rift in the New Orleans locker room.
7. I think I was all set to slam Stephen A. Smith and anyone with a shred of journalistic integrity who works at First Take when I read his latest pseudo-report that Brady had possibly destroyed evidence in the case against him, and his four-game suspension would be upheld. When media personalities use phrases like “I’m hearing” to preface their reports, it muddles the line between gossip and journalism which First Take is all-too-comfortable trampling … and then Stephen A. was right. Womp.
8. I think if you’re on Twitter, you ought to give a follow to Amy Trask, the first female CEO of an NFL team (Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders appointed her CEO in 1997). Since resigning in 2013, she has worked as a CBS analyst and recently, a contributor to the The MMQB. Only days since joining Twitter, she struck the right chord with Raiders fans still salty over the 2001 Tuck Rule Game. Be kind; NFL Twitter is better with the Amy Trasks of the world involved.
9. I think the way Eric Berry handled his cancer fight is kind of incredible. Diagnosed with Lymphoma eight months ago, after complaining of chest pain following a loss to the Raiders, the Kansas City Chiefs safety gave a short statement concluding with the words “I will be back!" and disappeared. He resurfaced at a Tennessee football spring practice but didn’t do interviews. No TV appearances, no social media updates, no 3,000-word feature stories. He just vanished. And now, suddenly, thankfully, incredibly, he’s back and cleared to practice. I hope someday when he’s comfortable he tells the whole story, if not for his benefit then for the inspiration of thousands who suffer in anonymity every day.
10. I think if I were Scot McCloughan, I would’ve liked to see one more “prove it” season from Ryan Kerrigan before signing the pass rusher to the five-year, $57-million extension he reportedly agreed to this week. A first-round pick in 2011, Kerrigan turned in three ho-hum seasons treading water as a one-dimensional power rusher before exploding with 13.5 sacks and 51 hurries in 2014. Now he’s the third-highest paid outside linebacker in football. Then again, Washington doesn’t have much to build around in that front seven beyond Kerrigan and second-year outside linebacker Trent Murphy.