Guest columnist Emily Kaplan covers Jay Cutler’s defining season to come, the no-growth HGH investigation, the weird off-field predicaments of rookie QBs, a marijuana crusade, Rex Ryan’s bluster and bicycle, and the mom who just might overshadow all the Father’s Day tributes

By Emily Kaplan
June 20, 2016

School’s out for summer. NFL players and coaches have dispersed for a six-week vacation before training camps open in late July. Tom Brady is still suspended, Ryan Fitzpatrick is still unsigned and Von Miller is still in a contract stalemate with the Broncos (the linebacker provided updates this week via my three go-to sources for news: Sports Illustrated, Instagram, and Chelsea Handler’s variety show on Netflix.) Rex and Rob Ryan proved that a bicycle built for two can support much more weight than you might expect, and Carson Wentz found himself locked inside a gas station bathroom in New Jersey (which is probably how Laremy Tunsil felt in the green room at the draft). Coaches around the league likely spent their last moments with players giving two pieces of sage advice: 1) Stay away from fireworks, and 2) If your phone begins to fall, let it drop. No need to break an elbow over it.

Peter King is away enjoying some much-deserved time off, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to pinch-hit with this column. I’ll provide an update on the NFL’s HGH investigation of Peyton Manning and others, explain why they’re breathing a sigh of relief in the Big Easy, and share a sweet Father’s Day segment from NFL players.

But first, a quick stop in Halas Hall, where a veteran coach and his quarterback seek redemption…

• JOE HADEN ON THE CAVS’ TITLE: The Browns’ veteran corner on following LeBron’s lead and bringing and NFL championship to Cleveland

* * *

Jay Cutler’s Defining Year

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

I think the Bears will be one of the more fascinating NFC teams to watch this season, and I’m not just saying that because I recently moved to Chicago. I think Jay Cutler can salvage his career, and I believe the Bears just might be your sleeper playoff team. Stop rolling your eyes and hang with me here…

Before John Fox led Chicago to a 6-10 finish in 2015, he spent the previous four seasons in Denver, going 46-18 in the regular season, winning four division titles, reaching the divisional round of the playoffs four times, and going to one Super Bowl. And yet general manager John Elway axed the veteran coach after the 2014 season, in which Denver went 12-4 but lost their first playoff game. Thirteen months later, the Broncos won the Super Bowl.

On several occasions, Elway’s candor about the coaching change has come across as a dig against Fox. On the CBS Super Bowl pregame show, for instance, Elway told Phil Simms: “I just didn’t like two out of the last three years we lost in the first round with home-field advantage. If you can’t get guys excited about playing in the playoffs that time of year, something’s wrong.”

Fox shrugged off most of the criticism, but he’s become an awkward footnote in the Broncos’ championship season. As the team he helped mold savors the Lombardi Trophy, it’s fair to wonder if he has a tinge of regret about not being able to make it work in Denver.

“In life, you always kind of always have regrets,” Fox told me at practice last week in Lake Forest, Ill. “But I don’t think you want to spend too much time looking in the rearview, otherwise you’ll wreck.”

Using Fox’s analogy, the 61-year-old coach is looking squarely through the windshield—which, thanks to Bears GM Ryan Pace, is far less foggy than when they inherited this team two years ago. After a historically embarrassing stretch from 2013-14, Pace overhauled the defense; 10 of the 12 presumed starters (including nickelback) are new since 2015.  

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Chicago’s success in 2016, however, hinges on Cutler. This is a referendum year for the QB, entering his 11th season. Though the 33-year-old is under contract until 2020, the upcoming season is the last with guaranteed money, meaning the Bears are in decide-as-he-goes mode.

Cutler had a career-best 92.3 passer rating in 2015, reduced his turnovers (down from 24 in 2014 to 16 last year) and interceptions (18 down to 11). “I thought Jay had an outstanding year,” Fox said, with a caveat to explain the overall record. “It wasn’t ideal. Alshon [Jeffery] wasn’t healthy the whole season. Kevin White did not play. I’m not knocking any of the guys that did play, but a lot is always made of the quarterback, and his supporting cast is critical. I don’t care what it is—defense, offense, wideouts, ability to run the ball … there’s a lot that goes into it besides one guy, although that guy gets a lot of the magnified glass. So if you saw what Jay did last year, I’m expecting good things again.”

While Cutler gains perimeter threats in Jeffery (limited to nine games last season) and White, he loses some security. Gone are tight end Martellus Bennett and workhorse back Matt Forte, who, according to Dan Durkin at The Athletic, combined for 40 percent of the Bears’ red-zone touchdowns over the past three seasons. Also gone: offensive coordinator Adam Gase, who tailored an offense to Cutler’s strengths.

The Bears could have made a splashy outside hire to replace Gase, who’s now the head coach in Miami, but they instead promoted quarterback coach Dowell Loggains. He is Cutler’s sixth offensive coordinator in eight years, but there’s built-in familiarity.

“It was critical to keep Jay comfortable,” Fox says. “Everything comes through the quarterback, so keeping Jay in the same system is best for us.”

Translation: The Bears are giving Cutler his best opportunity to thrive in 2016. If he regresses? Pace will start doing recon on the 2017 quarterback draft class.

Also working in the Bears’ favor: They’ll play the NFL’s second-easiest schedule this fall, facing opponents that combined for a .461 winning percentage (118-138) in 2015. Expecting to see a two-year makeover by the Pace-Fox regime isn’t outrageous. You might recall that during Fox’s second year in Carolina, in 2003, he led the Panthers to the Super Bowl.

* * *

The No-Growth HGH Investigation

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Next week will mark six months since Al Jazeera aired its sports doping documentary that implicated Peyton Manning and five other NFL players to either human growth hormone (HGH) or performance-enhancing drugs, allegedly. Roger Goodell pledged a thorough investigation, one he promised to begin “immediately” after the allegations surfaced. Yet here we are, 177 days later and counting, with nothing of real substance.

Here is what I know:

The NFL has indeed opened an investigation into allegations that HGH was shipped to Manning’s home, and that James Harrison, Clay Matthews, Mike Neal and Julius Peppers took performance-enhancing drugs.

The NFL is also looking into other claims that Charlie Sly made off camera, which detail a relationship he had with several NFL players, specifically those who played for the Packers.

The NFL has conducted interviews in relation to the report, but has declined to say who was interviewed.

The NFL has not interviewed one current player who was named in the Al Jazeera report.

The last part is baffling. Delving into the topic, I came across a perplexing issue: Could bureaucratic tension between the NFL and the NFLPA be the stalling factor?

In a case such as this, protocol calls for the NFL to arrange interviews through the NFLPA as an intermediary. NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart says the league has gathered its information and has been ready to interview the players for “some time.” The NFLPA, according to Lockhart, is stalling.

“We have pushed to do them sooner,” Lockhart says of player interviews. “[The union has] articulated some reasons why they can’t be done right away.” Lockhart added that the league hopes to get them down before training camp, but said “if we have to, we’ll do them during training camp.”

George Atallah, the assistant executive director of external affairs for the NFLPA, did not respond to requests for comment.

No one should assume, however, that the players are hoping this whole thing just disappears. Defensive end Mike Neal, for one, is welcoming an investigation to clear his name. He was the only implicated player to hit the free-agent market this offseason, and he remains unsigned. In a Q&A with Packers beat writer Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last month, Neal lamented that the open investigation was the biggest reason why he is without a job. “I think it influenced it heavily, heavily, heavily, heavily, heavily,” Neal said. “And that's just from meeting with other teams and hearing what other teams have to say.”

As for Peyton Manning?

After announcing his retirement, he is no longer covered by the CBA. This means that Manning 1) no longer has to participate in the investigation, or 2) can participate freely, without facilitation by the NFLPA. The incentive for Manning to talk? If he wants to stay involved in the league, perhaps in an executive role, it is important to stay in good graces. Another thing isn’t clear: Because Manning is no longer an active player, the NFL isn’t beholden to the NFLPA to arrange an interview. Has the league contacted him directly to inquire about the HGH allegations? A league spokesman did not respond to my question, but here is another curious note: Ari Fleischer, whom Manning hired as a crisis-management consultant, is no longer representing the retired quarterback. “My work for Peyton concluded a few months ago,” Fleischer wrote in an email.

‘I AM SO READY TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP NOW’: Browns CB Joe Haden on how the Cavs’ win will inspire the Browns

* * *

Your Secrets Are Safe

The NFL (and the NBA) can breathe easy. Some of their financial secrets are safe. A trial was supposed to begin today in New Orleans, part of the battle between Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson and his estranged family. The parties, however, reached a settlement on Friday.

Saints owner Tom Benson and his wife, Gayle, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame game in 2012.
Jason Miller/Getty Images

For the past year and a half, Benson has been fighting to disallow his daughter and two grandchildren from inheriting his estate, including ownership stakes in his two professional franchises. Benson wants to replace them with his third wife, Gayle. Several lawsuits ensued, including a civil case last year in Louisiana in which the heirs claimed that Benson, 88, was mentally incompetent (a judge ruled Benson was fit enough to oversee his own affairs).

The federal trial that would have begun today could have been particularly revealing for the NBA and NFL. Though Benson’s ownership of each team was never in question, information he is privy to as an owner was. The presiding judge was going to allow 88 exhibits, among them: NFL quarterly reports, team financial reports and internal memos of five other team sales, to be permissible as evidence. (Benson had asked those records to be sealed, a motion that was denied.)

I asked John Vrooman, a Vanderbilt University sports economist who has studied the NFL extensively, if there was precedent here. He pointed to 2013, when detailed financial reports on the Carolina Panthers were leaked to Deadspin after the team was denied state funding for a stadium renovation. “[Those documents] showed a profitable franchise at the same time Jerry Richardson was crying poverty in seeking Carolina cash,” Vrooman says. “The Panthers and Richardson Sports LP raked in profits of $112 million in 2011 and 2012 while playing .400 football before the 180-turnaround in 2013.”

Besides a glimpse into the financial performance of the Saints, Vrooman said the Benson trial could have shed light on the exact terms of the Saints’ Superdome lease. There was a possibility for information on other teams to be revealed as well, including franchises that were recently sold (such as the Bills). For now, uncertainty surrounding New Orleans’ ownership situation should subside. A statement from the Saints on Friday said all Benson properties would operate “business as usual.”

* * *

Happy Father’s Day!

Harold M. Lambert/Getty Images

I asked some NFL folks the best lesson they’ve learned from their fathers, and I also asked the best gift they ever gave their dads.

Panthers tight end Greg Olsen: I played for my dad in high school. He would say the same thing at the first meeting each season: “Nobody says it will be easy, but I promise it will be worth it.” Best thing I got him was a fishing trip. We spent the morning on the boat fishing as the sun came up—just the woods, us, and the guide. Was a great morning for a dad and son.

Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch: My dad always taught me to never forget where you came from or the people that got you to where you are today. I’m not sure the best present, but I’ve been wanting to get him a boat he can take out on the lake.

• LIFE LESSONS FROM AN NFL FATHER: A lifelong Lions fans shares how a fortuitous seat assignment at a 2015 preseason game led to a conversation on fatherhood with Megatron’s dad, Calvin Johnson Sr.

Lions offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz: Always do the right thing, even if it’s not the most comfortable. The best thing we’ve ever gotten him was a Tour de France stationary bike. This gift spanned a few Father’s Days and birthdays because the thing wasn’t cheap. My dad rode the same stationary bike for 30 years. It was all rusted and disgusting. We upgraded him in a big way.

Giants center Weston Richburg: You get out of something what you put into it. If you work hard, good results come. Best gift? A toolset we got him a couple years ago.

Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel: My dad taught me to be tough. He taught me how to sacrifice for the things I value. When he was in university, he played football while in medical school. He finished in the top of his medical class and became an elite thoracic surgeon. I knew I could do all of the things I wanted to do because he had already done the same thing. The best gift I ever got him was a book on the history of mathematics. He’s been fascinated by history his whole life, and he has Master’s degrees in economics, industrial engineering, and mathematics, so he’s mathematically inclined like me. He really enjoyed it.

Retired Saints linebacker Scott Fujita: There are three things I remember most about my dad when I was a kid: He was generous, selfless, and always available to my brother and me. I like to think I’m doing my best to model his example with my own kids. Best gift? I remember one year we got him a fishing reel he really wanted. It was quite the winner.

Browns offensive lineman Joel Bitonio (whose father, Mike, passed away in 2010):  No matter what you were doing in life, from washing dishes to playing football, always work your hardest to be the best you can at it. He would say, “I don’t care if you’re a janitor, just be the best damn janitor you can be!”

Retired Patriots lineman Matt Light: My father always reinforced the idea of questioning everything and being able to think for myself. It forced me to learn how to find the right answer.

Offensive coordinator at Friends Academy Gunnar Esiason (son of Boomer): Life is about making memories and doing whatever is possible to experience them along the way. I usually go the gag gift route, but more recently we have been playing in a father/son golf tournament each year and we wear matching outfits. So last year I got us Declaration of Independence pants.

Gunnar and Boomer Esiason golfing on a recent Father’s Day.
Courtesy photo

* * *

The Biggest Apple

I first met Annie Apple when she was shrieking through the lobby of Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre at the NFL draft. It was the middle of the first round, and here was a middle-aged woman gliding down the hall, crooning: “The Apple’s in the Big Apple, baby!” Her energy was magnetic.

The Giants selected her son, Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple, with the No. 10 pick, but Annie became the darling of the draft. Savvy, with infinite wit and a rollicking Twitter feed—a voice like Annie Apple’s has never been featured prominently in the media. And yet she seems instantly relatable. She is your mother, she is a mother you know, she is your fabulous and fun neighbor. ESPN hired Apple as a contributor to its NFL programming in 2016, and she will also be joining SI.com as a regular columnist and podcast guest.

No mother of a current player has ever served as a network analyst in season. Few women are given this platform, ever. But by injecting Apple’s perspective, ESPN is attempting to make its football coverage more inclusive—or at the very least, more evocative.

I caught up with Annie to discuss her new gig:

KAPLAN: How did the deal come about with ESPN?

Eli Apple and his mom, Annie, at the 2016 NFL draft.
Kena Krutsinger/Getty Images
It was really organic. Jemele Hill invited me to go on “His and Hers”—and while I was in Bristol, ESPN asked me to make appearances on a few other shows, too. I wasn’t exactly nervous. They’re not calling me here to be Madonna or Hillary Clinton, they’re calling me to be Annie. In the makeup room I met Suzy Kolber, and I was blown away. When you watch her, you just see football. She couldn’t have been nicer. When we went on air, it just felt like a continuation of the conversation. [Senior Producer] Seth Markman called me in and said, “We really like you and want to do some stuff with you.” We threw out a couple ideas and the next thing you know, here I am.

KAPLAN: What was your son’s reaction?

APPLE: We always have supported each other. He was excited for me. He said, “I know some people think you’re using me to get here, but I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you.” And I said, “I know Eli, I still have the stretch marks and haven’t lost your baby weight!”

KAPLAN: Do you consider yourself a trailblazer?

APPLE: I guess I am, and I think that’s important. Football is such a masculine sport, but sports moms are the heart of the games. We are the first coaches, the first nutritionists, the first chauffeurs—we build them up. We have perspective because we’ve been there, and to represent so many other women who have been there is an honor. Me being up there and sharing what I know, that completes the fan experience. I am a journalist, I am a woman, I am a mom. I am someone with a voice. You might agree with it, you might not, but it adds a dynamic to the conversation.

KAPLAN: Are you concerned about saying something that offends Eli or his teammates, or puts him in an awkward situation?

APPLE: No, not at all. I think Eli realizes they are only asking me to be who I am. And look, I know what I’m doing. ESPN didn’t choose me because I’m Eli’s mom or that I’m cute—I mean, I know I’m cute—but because I’m equipped to express opinion. I won’t say anything I wouldn’t say on my Twitter. I also have two degrees, in English and communications, and have actually worked jobs in broadcasting since college. I worked at NBC News in New York, was a freelance writer for CNN, was a producer and writer for local news stations in Philly.

Eli has been on a top team before, at Ohio State. I will use the same rules I used there. I never discuss team business. I don’t debate or defend him. When you put substance to that, it’s an abyss. I don’t tweet during games, but nine times out of 10 that’s because I’m at the stadium, and I probably have no service. But it’s a good exercise in keeping my mouth shut!

* * *

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

I

“I like to eat and then [with my fiancée] being pregnant, it gave me an excuse to eat.”

Bills running back Karlos Williams providing by far the most creative explanation for why he reported to minicamp about 20 pounds overweight.

Williams will get sympathy from moms and pregnant women everywhere. With the training staff in Buffalo? Not so much.

II

“I take him just as he said it, ‘That phone had to be saved.’ ”

Jerry Jones accepting running back Darren McFadden’s explanation for injuring his elbow while trying to save his phone. McFadden will be out until training camp.

Tom Brady never felt this way about any phone he’s ever owned, am I right?

III

“We’ve won the offseason. I would challenge any team. I think we’ve won the offseason.”

— Bills coach Rex Ryan, who was recently seen on a bike built for two with his brother, Rob.

Do they raise banners for this?

And can we get those guys yellow Tour de France jerseys?

Better yet...

IV

“I’d like to think agents have figured out they can’t scare me; they can’t squeeze me. I’m not going to panic. I’m not going to give money away. It’s a waste of time. But if that’s the attack they want to take, that’s their business. I’m too old. I’ve been around too long to be scared.”

— Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman, in a tightly contested battle with his Denver counterpart, John Elway, for Hardass Executive of the Summer.

It’s even scarier when you read that in the voice of Liam Neeson.

V

“I’m wearing a glove, because about 90 percent of the time I’m on the field, I catch a football. Which is so mind blowing, I understand that... Wow, why would you wear a glove? Then I’m looking at the wide receivers and I’m like, ‘Why are you wearing a glove, you stupid wide receiver?’ ”

Colts punter Pat McAfee, in a team-produced spinoff of Jimmy Kimmel’s Mean Tweets segment. McAfee’s response to @hailmetalhenry’s Tweet —“Why is Pat Mcafee wearing a glove? Ur a stupid kicker—also included a mini-lecture on grammar.

Imagine McAfee’s response to something slightly more derogatory. Actually I can, and it would look something like this.

VI

“We are looking for a dog that’s been here a long time and maybe not-so-adoptable.”

— Ravens rookie offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley, who adopted a 6-year-old dog named Winter, who hadn’t found a home because of her physical imperfections.

Love this. What a picture:

Courtesy of BARCS Animal Shelter

 

* * *

FACTOID OF THE WEEK THAT MAY INTEREST ONLY ME

I’m always curious how NFL players spend their offseasons. As usual, this year included a potpourri of experiences. According to the NFL, nearly 200 players enrolled in undergraduate and graduate courses. Among graduates in the Class of 2016: Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb, Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap, Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Dolphins linebacker Jelani Jenkins. Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi completed an externship in the NFL UK office. Six Seahawks spent time shadowing people at a local Coca-Cola plant. Sixteen Raiders spent a day at Facebook headquarters learning about life in Silicon Valley. Other highlights: Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh completed an internship with Related Companies, Stephen Ross’s real estate development firm. Josh Brown held a full-time position with JLL, a Puget Sound area real estate company. Before Lions tight end Tim Wright tore his ACL at the end of last month and was placed on season-ending IR, he kick-started what could be a lucrative post-playing career. The part-time barber legitimized his business by opening The Wright Cut barbershop on the campus of Rutgers, his alma mater.

* * *

MS. STARWOOD PREFERRED MEMBER TRAVEL NOTE OF THE WEEK

I’ll piggyback off Jenny Vrentas’s rental car note from two weeks ago. If you recall, a peeved Hertz customer in Buffalo proclaimed he wasn’t the least bit interested in driving a baby blue Volkswagen Beetle. Apparently Hertz has a thing for those funky VWs. Four of my last 12 assigned rentals have been canary yellow VW bugs. Yes, I’ve been keeping track. Yes, I am also peeved. I initially attributed the “coincidence” to some asinine algorithm calculating that because of my age and gender, I would enjoy driving such a vehicle. Not quite. Three times I have asked to switch, usually because I am off to meet an NFL player or coach and can’t roll up looking like a wannabe extra in the 1999 Mandy Moore music video for “Candy.”

* * *

TWEETS OF THE WEEK

I

 

Kicking down doors? Garden shears? In Giants territory? And you didn’t run? Rookie.

 

II

 

Apparently it was an awkward week for both of the top rookie quarterbacks.

 

III

 

Eugene is right, some in the NFL are going to be uncomfortable with his overt advocacy for marijuana. I’m not buying that’s why the Ravens cut the veteran. A more likely reason: the offensive lineman missed 15 games over the last two seasons. The league is better when discourse is louder, so keep fighting, Eugene. Just don’t blame John Harbaugh & Co. for this one.

 

IV

 

Preach, Philip.

 

V

Being teased about a Disney movie created about your life must get old. But even Michael Oher has to admit, this one is pretty funny.

 

* * *

TEN THINGS I THINK I THINK

1. I think I couldn’t care less that the Detroit Lions added cheerleaders. Unless team president Rod Wood comes out and says these women are going to be paid their worth—heck, just tell me they will be paid minimum wage—I am totally apathetic to how this “elevates the game day entertainment.”

2. I think it’s foolish to think John Elway will be swayed by the Fletcher Cox contract, specifically the guaranteed money involved and how quickly those guarantees are triggered. Philadelphia and Denver have polar financial philosophies, sorry Von Miller. Consider this: The Eagles’ gaudy contract for Sam Bradford created a market for Brock Osweiler that the Broncos were not willing to enter—and drove Osweiler to the Texans. I’m not saying Miller’s situation is exactly like Osweiler’s, but Elway is not one to follow someone else’s lead.

3. I think I wanted to write a feature about former NBA guard Nate Robinson trying out for the NFL as a cornerback, but I checked with three scouts who each talked me out of it. Said one of them, “He has about a good a chance in the NFL as Tim Tebow does to be a QB1 next year.”

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4. I think one of the interesting holdouts of this offseason is that of Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, Super Bowl hero from two seasons ago. Butler, on the final year of his rookie deal, is set to make $600,000 this season—far less than his worth as a No. 1 corner. When media reports surfaced that Butler had missed some voluntary workouts because of a contract dispute, Butler fired back by calling it a “big misunderstanding” and clarifying that it was for “off-field issues.” He further told reporters: “I’m going to play hard, no matter what. So it is what it is.”

5. I think if you want to find a player who buys into the Belichickian way, look no further than Butler.

Exhibit A: “It is what it is,” is straight from the Belichick quote book.

Exhibit B: Last year, the Patriots held the cornerback from practice because he was late to OTAs (he had plane problems). The NFLPA investigated the incident—which, I have been told, very much embarrassed Butler because he felt like a distraction to the team. Moral of this story? Don’t expect Butler to call attention to his contract situation until it is resolved.

6. I think with the deck stacked against Tom Brady, it might be time for his legal team to cooperate with the NFL. Here’s a notion: if Brady admits to something—anything— the NFL just might reduce his suspension to two games. Ordeal over.

7. I think I have no idea how Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter really feels about going for two-point conversions, but it sounds like the Buccaneers won’t be doing that very often. On WDAE radio in Tampa last week, Koetter said “mathematically, it does make sense to go for two every time.” But he goes on to say why he won’t do it: “Say we go out there that first game, and we score three touchdowns and we don’t make any two pointers and we lose 21-18. Who’s going to get killed? You’re going to be on [the radio] and dog-cussing me the whole time.” While criticism could be a deterrent, here is another reason Koetter won’t gamble for two: His general manager drafted a kicker in the second round.

8. I think I don’t need to be the 476th person to tell you that ESPN’s O.J.: Made in America is fantastic, but I will pass along this note from my friend, Ashok Moore, an NFL producer at ESPN who has watched the entire seven-hour series four times over the past two months: “You pick up new details with every viewing.”

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9. I think here’s an amusing NFC North wager—which story will be written more often this season: Bears’ linebacker Leonard Floyd being too skinny or Packers running back Eddie Lacy being too overweight?

10. Here are my non-football thoughts of the week:

a. Kudos to the Boston Globe for its powerful front page on Thursday: a full-size image of an AR-15 rifle, headlined: “Make It Stop.” The accompanying editorial lambasted lawmakers and highlighted the ease with which civilians can obtain firearms designed for the battlefield. “Greed, legislative cowardice, advanced technology—that is how we got here. The United States has been pummeled by gun violence since the assault weapons ban expired in 2004. This year, mass shootings have already claimed 61 lives. One class of gun, semiautomatic rifles, is largely responsible. But this nation cannot be a hostage of fear. We can make it stop.”

b. The Globe also, one by one, tweeted the names of people killed in mass shootings since 2004, when the ban on assault weapons expired. In succession, the list is jarring.

c. I could not be happier for my older sister, Leah, who married a wonderful man named Will Beardslee earlier this month. Will is thoughtful, caring, and the perfect complement to Leah. His only flaw? Snubbing my advice last year and drafting Joe Flacco over Tom Brady for his fantasy team. Complicating matters: Will is a Pats fan. Consider this public humiliation a welcome to the family, Will!

d. I love my new home, Chicago. After living in Manhattan, it’s impossible not to notice how much more space there is here, how the city is cleaner, the beer is cheaper, the portions are bigger, and the neighbors are friendlier. Oh, and the streets are actually bike-able. My one complaint: The pizza is no good. (I know, I know, I’m sorry!) Can we call deep-dish what it really is? It’s not pizza, it’s a calzone.

e. I got an email with the subject line that said, “Warning, this will make you cry” and the link (a trailer to Steve Gleason’s movie, out July 29) did exactly that.

f. Though it was yesterday, wishing a very happy Father’s Day to Dave Kaplan, the man responsible for my love of hockey, hot sauce and journalism. Same to all the dads of The MMQB: Andrew Brandt, Dom Bonvissuto, Albert Breer, John DePetro, Gary Gramling, Matt Gagne, Mark Mravic and Peter King.

 

THE ADIEU HAIKU

Here is my advice
To Carson Wentz, bathroom lock:
Darn, out of sylla...

• Question? Comment? Let us know at talkback@themmqb.com

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