Plus, Denard Robinson drives into a pond and Brady woos Durant
1. I think the NFL should take a page out of the NBA’s playbook when it comes to free agency. Two Mondays ago (the Fourth of July, no less), everyone in the sports world was refreshing Twitter awaiting Kevin Durant’s free-agency decision. The NBA does free agency better than any of the four professional sports leagues because it’s basically turned into a reality show, Durant holding meetings with prospective teams in the Hamptons, players from around the league tweeting their reactions in real time. This could happen in the NFL too, if only the contracts were guaranteed and the Franchise tag was absolved. Players would feel more comfortable playing out their deals and then would have the freedom to test the market more often.
Imagine if, next March, Andrew Luck was holding meetings and a dozen teams around the NFL thought they had a chance (however small) of landing a franchise quarterback in his prime. Luck would benefit because of the bidding war, and more teams would have a chance to change the direction of their franchise with just one signing. Give the player’s incumbent team an edge (maybe they’re allowed to exceed the salary cap to sign one player every five years). Of course, this would take some serious negotiating gymnastics during the next CBA talks, but the NFL could benefit by making free agency more popular.
2. I think Andrew Luck deserved to ask for a fully guaranteed contract, he’s that good of a quarterback. But the Colts will be able to build a better team around him because he didn’t. If that helps the Colts win even one Super Bowl, Luck’s profile will be raised enough that he’ll be able to make all of that money back in endorsements. After all, Peyton Manning will be humming jingles on TV for the rest of his life, if so chooses.
3. I think all NFL player contracts should be fully guaranteed, in fact. Of the four main professional sports, football takes the largest toll on its players’ bodies and their career spans are shorter. In the meantime, while the league tries to make the game safer, shouldn’t the players be given the peace of mind knowing they will earn the full amount of their contract? (Ben Volin had a good breakdown of the circumstances why this hasn’t happened yet.)
4. I think there’s something to be learned from the advice Donald Trump used to give Herschel Walker, when Trump owned Walker’s team, the New Jersey Generals, for two seasons in the ’80s. I wrote about Trump as an owner and how Trump and Walker became good friends. They would go to dinner and hang out away from the field. Walker even took Trump’s children to the zoo. Here’s an anecdote that didn’t make the story, a conversation that Trump and Herschel once had:
Trump: Herschel, sometimes any publicity is good publicity because it keeps your name out there.
Walker: Well, for some people it may be, but not for me. If I get some bad publicity that’s the end of my career.
I think Trump has said this before in some shape or fashion, but Herschel’s response, in my opinion, speaks to the standard to which NFL players are held by the public. Are they held to higher standards than some politicians?
5. I think this is a fascinating story by The New York Times about President Obama and his routine when he has a few hours to himself each night before bed. It’s full of great details, like the fact that the President eats exactly seven lightly salted almonds as a snack and that the First Lady jokes about the precision. I imagine that he’s scanning The MMQB, looking for good stories and maybe tips for his fantasy team. Another good nugget: he seems to prefer writing his speeches at night, going so far as to pull an all-nighter once, like a college kid.
“There’s something about the night,” said Cody Keenan, the President’s chief speechwriter. “It’s smaller. It lets you think.”
6. I think it’s funny that Brett Favre is the official arbiter of who is and who is not a “gunslinger,” and I think it’s a job he should take seriously. He said last week, in an interview with CSNBayArea.com, that Derek Carr was not, in fact, a “gunslinger,” as he had been described in the past by teammate Michael Crabtree. General descriptors of quarterbacks get thrown around a lot. I’m guilty of it myself. But what defines a “gunslinger”? Someone who makes risky passes into tight spaces? Someone who throws a good deep ball? Favre is better qualified than anyone to write a definition for us and end this debate before it becomes a national crisis.
7. I think people in Michigan were surprised to see Denard Robinson in the news last week. I covered Robinson while we both attended the University of Michigan, and people around him raved about his character and his humble attitude. Robinson apparently fell asleep at the wheel, nearly hit another car, then ended up driving his car into a pond, where he was found, asleep, by the police. Robinson posted on social media that he shouldn’t have been driving that late, but now the police are investigating how the incident was handled at the scene. The officer there did not administer a test to see if Robinson was driving under the influence. And if Robinson was simply driving while he was sleepy, he should be able to give the public a more detailed explanation.
8. I think GMs are ready for the offseason to be over. See: Robinson, Denard.
9. I think you can pass some time until the season starts by reading this feature on Marquis Lucas, an undrafted Bills rookie whose family was once homeless, by The Buffalo News’ Tyler Dunne. Tyler is one of the best beat writers in football because of his ability to consistently churn out feature stories like this. Here’s rooting for Marquis Lucas, too.
10. I think I would’ve loved to see Kevin Durant’s reaction when Tom Brady walked into the room along with the rest of the Celtics’ brass. Dan Shaughnessy caught up with Boston GM Danny Ainge and had him give the rundown of the Celtics’ pitch to Durant, including how he got Brady to come. Ainge apparently knows Brady well. He traded texts with him while Brady was vacationing with his family in Costa Rica, and then, once Brady returned, asked him to come visit Durant. Brady hesitated at first, according to Ainge, but who turns down an invitation to see Kevin Durant in the Hamptons? “Yeah, I can do that,” Brady finally said. “That would be fun.”