Some real news this morning, obviously, that will impact not only the New York Jets and Wednesday's
I maintained early in training camp that this would be a Labor Day deal, because I thought the Jets would get impatient and because GM
So who won? I'd say Revis more than the Jets, but it's definitely a mixed bag.
When the Jets drafted Revis 14th overall in 2007, they paid him like a top-10 pick. I can still hear the grousing to this day from other GMs about the Jets paying Revis more than his slot. And he had three years and $21 million left on that rookie contract. I believe the Jets wanted to add a fourth year to the remaining contract, in exchange for about $20 million in new money injected into the deal. In other words, make it a four-year, $41 million deal. This way they paid Revis about $5 million more than that.
Revis certainly played himself into the upper stratosphere of all NFL players last year, shutting down receivers like
With Asomugha earning $14 million a year, on average, over the first two years of his landmark cornerback contract (including guaranteed money the Raiders owe him if they don't exercise the final year of his deal in early 2011), Revis was way behind him, scheduled to earn exactly half of that, on average, in the next three years.
The Jets kept banging home to Revis' agents that they wouldn't tear up the existing contract, nor would they forget about it. In making this, in essence, a deal paying Revis $11.5 million a year for the next four years, Tannenbaum can say he held the line and didn't give Revis even the average of what Asomugha, the highest-paid corner in history, is making. And Revis can say he got $25 million in return for adding one year onto his existing contract.
The reason I think Revis wins, if anyone does, is because those three years left on the deal were an anchor weighing down Revis' arguments about getting the truly big money. And because he'll be 28 when the four-year deal expires. Meaning, if he continues to play well, he'll be in position to get one more mega-contract, at least, from the Jets. Or another very high bidder.
The Jets paid more than they wanted to pay (what team doesn't in mega-contracts like this one?) and it will be easy to say: Contracts with the Jets aren't worth the paper they're printed on. That's for Tannenbaum to worry about with stalwart players like middle linebacker
Look at the New York schedule and you can see why Ryan was sweating bullets about getting Revis in.
So the Jets are whole. Now, about that offense ...
The other big NFL news on Labor Day weekend, of course, was the Cardinals whacking former Heisman Trophy winner
Summing up, Leinart's a goner for these reasons: He wasn't accurate enough; he didn't make quick decisions on the field and execute them well; he never won the locker room over; coach
Before I get to the Cutdown weekend news, I want to focus on Pittsburgh for a few paragraphs. Yes, the Steelers. A certain someone's
It's possible Steelers coach
"I don't know anything,'' he said over the weekend. "But I've thought about what it would be like to have that chance. It would be wonderful. I grew up here, and I dreamed about being
Batch last started a game on opening day 2006, with Roethlisberger out after an emergency appendectomy. He completed 15 of 25 passes that day, three for touchdowns in a 28-17 victory over the Dolphins. That made him 3-0 as a replacement starter for the Steelers over a two-year period, something Tomlin might consider in deciding whether to start Batch and bring in Dixon as a changeup pitcher. Or he could give the job to Dixon. Neither would be a surprise. But if it's Batch, it would be the football gods saying, "Son, you deserve this.''
In 1996, when Batch was a quarterback at Eastern Michigan, his younger sister,
He started a summer basketball program for the boys and girls in town. The program began the Monday after school let out and ran until the weekend before football practice began in late July. It was a bridge, in essence, to keep kids with nothing to do off the streets. And there were a couple of wrinkles. Whereas kids in the Steel Valley School District had to have a 2.0 grade-point average to play sports, Batch made it 2.2 -- so kids would know it's a privilege, and not a right, to play in his league. And he coupled educational opportunities with the sport. Batch put computers in his foundation office in Homestead and set up a place for kids to have an after-school program -- in a community with no YMCA or Boys and Girls Club. He partnered with Carnegie Mellon University to begin taking 15 students a summer to the university to work with architecture professors to see if any of the students might have an architectural bent.
This year, 353 boys and girls, from grade school through high school, played in the Batch basketball league. All had the grades to play -- some because Batch is good friends with the high school guidance counselor, who goes to the kids on the borderline at the end of the third term and tells them: No 2.2, no basketball for you this summer.
When I visited Steelers camp in Latrobe, Pa., this summer, Batch told me about all of this, and I said to him, "You could easily be like so many other players -- just take your money, live the good life, buy a house in Boca and move there. Why didn't you do it?''
"Because I never want another family to feel the way my family did,'' Batch said. "Nothing existed there. If the kids have nothing to do, they all go hang out on one block until the cops tell them to move along. Then they just go find another block. They need something to do, something positive. I want them to understand that sports and education can go hand in hand. You've got to be good to be able to do the other.''
Batch gives his cell phone out to all the participants in the program -- not so they'll call and ask him who's going to win the Steelers game that week. "I want them to know there's somebody there for them if they need to talk about anything,'' he said. "I get a few calls.''
I hope he gets another one Sunday from Mike Tomlin, telling him he's starting against Atlanta.
My Final Cutdown Weekend Awards, some ignominious:
And now, getting to know two people you need to know:
This is what you need to know about Max Hall, who -- you heard it here first -- will start at least one game at quarterback for Arizona this fall:
a. He is
b. He's the grandson of Arizona Sports Hall of Famer
c. As a three-year starting quarterback for Brigham Young, he once threw seven touchdown passes in a game (against UCLA in 2008).
d. He threw 94 touchdown passes in his BYU career, 38 more than
e. Hall served seven months as a Mormon missionary in Des Moines, the same city in which
f. After a game against bitter BYU rival Utah last year, Hall said he hated the Utes. "I hate everything about them. I hate their program. I hate their fans. I hate everything.'' So this year, a clothing line of "Max Hall Hates Me'' shirts came out in Utah. Very popular among the Utes, I'm told. Want one?
g. He had more career wins at BYU, 32, than any of the great quarterbacks who preceded him --
h. More than once, disgusted with his play on a particular pass in a game, Hall called one or more of his BYU receivers and asked to meet them late at night to get the play right, according to columnist
i. From the Phoenix suburb of Mesa, Hall was given the "Arizona Cardinals High School Player of the Week'' award in 2003 after accounting for 34 points in a Mesa Mountain View High game.
j. He had the best camp of any of the four Cardinal quarterbacks in Flagstaff this summer.
Matt Leinart got cut because his coach didn't trust him to win over the locker room, and he didn't trust his decision-making on the field. True story: Whisenhunt was likely to keep Leinart around this year, and to keep Hall on the practice squad for the year, until he saw him in offseason camps and in this summer's training camp. He thought Hall was certainly ready to play now, and more suited to run the offense than Leinart was after three years in Whisenhunt's offense.
It's not just the X's and O's. Late in the first half of the final preseason game Thursday night against Washington, Hall was driving the Cardinals. On one play, he missed an open receiver, the check-down safety receiver, in his progression. And on another play, he took a big hit trying to get a couple of extra yards, instead of going down and protecting himself. When he came over for the two-minute warning, Hall got an earful from Whisenhunt. "Look, you can't miss that checkdown!'' Whisenhunt yelled. "And you can't take a big hit like that! Think out there!''
Hall fired back at him: "OK, it happened! I screwed up! Fine! Let's move on!''
By Saturday, Whisenhunt smiled just thinking about it. "You know who that reminds me?'' he said to me over the phone.
"Kurt Warner,'' I said.
"Kurt Warner, that's right,'' he said. "That's something Kurt would have done. Look, I don't know how this will work out. None of us do. I know he's not the ideal size for a quarterback. But Kurt was only an inch or two taller. Max is Drew Brees' size. His decision-making process is well above ordinary for any level of football. That's what makes him so intriguing.''
This year, the breakthrough running back could be the Texans' Arian Foster. On the road for much of the past month, I bet I got approached by 50 fans asking me for fantasy advice. (No! Don't take it!) I had a few pet names -- running back
The 2009 undrafted free agent out of Tennessee has grabbed the starting job with no strings, and with the fleet
Very interesting story. Foster was a star running back at Tennessee when, after his junior season, he petitioned the NFL to see where he was likely to be drafted. Second round, the answer came back. Foster decided to stay at Tennessee for the 2008 season. Disaster ensued. It was
On draft weekend, figuring he wouldn't get picked as the seventh round wound down, he had four teams interested in him as a free agent: New Orleans, Houston, Tampa Bay and the Jets. As he got on the phone with each, his girlfriend,
"Oh, she's a good one,'' Foster said, laughing. "She was working hard, finding each depth chart. I'm on the phone with the Saints, and she's got their running backs lined up. What it came down to, and not to put anybody down because I respect everyone's ability, is that I thought I had the best chance with Houston. When I was growing up in San Diego, I idolized
Foster earned a spot on the Houston practice squad, and when injuries and Steve Slaton's fumble-itis hit late in the season, he was promoted. In the final two games of the season, he rushed for 216 yards and thrust himself into the Texans' 2010 plans. "Just before OTAs started up again,'' he said, "we all got letters from the team with the schedule. And Coach Koob [Kubiak] wrote in my letter, 'The biggest jump for a player in the NFL comes between year one and year two.' That struck me to my core. So I came in focused to become better at every aspect of my game. Everyone wants someone to believe in him, and I feel with me that's Coach Koob.''
Pretty interesting that Foster's on a nickname basis with his boss. Anyway, Foster's a bright kid. Majored in philosophy. Takes pride in expressing himself thoroughly and intelligently. And he realizes that the worst thing he could do now is to feel like he's accomplished something.
"History tells us that any pinnacle you're on, you'll eventually come down,'' Foster said. "My mentality as long as I'm in the NFL will be, I've never arrived. I'll always have a blue-collar attitude in a white-collar world.''
In six days, he'll have a lot to do with whether the Texans can slay the almighty Colts in the season-opener. Foster's come a long way, but don't tell him that.
"He handled himself with a tremendous amount of class. I was pleased with that. He showed a lot of maturity, and he thanked me for the opportunity. It wasn't an easy situation, and I know it's tough for him, but he understood. He was a man about it.''
"We actually have in the Collective Bargaining Agreement the ability to take it to 22 games. That's not the spirit of it. You want players to be buying into it. Certainly it has the chance of enhancing the player's financial benefits because it does grow the pie. The more the pie grows, the players get the majority of the money when the pie grows. I think the nature of how you would prepare for those 18 games would have less physical impact than we have now. At the end of the day I think we will be going to 18 games, but certainly with the positive input of players."
"I told him there are no style points for throwing the football.''
"You can be a world champion, but not like this. We won't win it! We'll sit back and say, 'Why didn't we do it?' We didn't do it because where were our f------ priorities? How about our offense? When are we going to put it together? When are we going to put it together? Can we not run the ball down their throats every snap? Can we not throw it any time we want to f------ throw it? Let's make sure we play like the f------ New York Jets! And not some f------ slapd--- team. That's what I want to see tomorrow. Do we understand what the f--- I want to see tomorrow? Let's go eat a god--- snack."
A snack! A pep talk ending in a inspirational snack reference! That's the Hard Knocks Quote of All Time,
I must say I've never seen a coach exhort his team to eat an evening snack quite the same way before.
What I like about the
A few other interesting numbers from the 2010 Almanac, on sale at footballoutsiders.com, and beginning with a stat about a quarterback who, for some reason, so many people believe is declining, even after a 4,398-yard passing season:
1. Tom Brady faced the hardest schedule of pass defenses of any quarterback since 1993.
2. To understand how overrated the San Diego pass rush is, you have to look past sacks and check out hits and hurries. After two straight years ranking 31st in hurries per pass play, the 2009 Chargers improved ... to 30th. They also ranked dead last with only 26 quarterback hits.
3. Like sister-in-law
4. Green Bay safety
My advice to you, if you like to find out how statistics and analysis can help you understand the game, is to buy the book.
The Patriots, when the roster dust settled, found themselves with an incredibly green defensive secondary. Could there be another secondary in the NFL with nine players all shy of their 27th birthdays? They'll have to grow up in a hurry this fall, especially with no proven pass-rusher, except perhaps
This happened on the Delta Shuttle flight from LaGuardia to Boston last Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.: The flight had open seating, other than the first four rows of first class on the A319 aircraft, and when the flight was called, we were told to take any seat we liked. I settled into my exit row seat on the fairly empty flight (when's the last time you've been on one of those?) when the man in line behind me in the boarding process watched me sit down, then looked at his ticket, and looked up and down the rows.
"Where is 'Y?' '' he said. "Do you know?''
"What do you mean?'' I said.
" 'Y,' '' he said, showing me the ticket.
As on my ticket, the seat part of his boarding pass read, "Y.'' Who knows why, but everyone was just taking any seat.
"Oh,'' I said. "It's open seating.''
He looked at me, confused, about to ask another question.
"You can sit anywhere,'' I said.
"Ohhhhhh,'' he said. "Thanks!''
"A good day to be a Cardinal.''
"Sitting behind kemo on the plane. Damn he has a huge head.''
So I actually ran 13 miles on Friday. Ploddingly, but my legs kept moving for all 13, through Boston's South End and Back Bay and Cambridge and Allston, past Fenway on the way home. It might take me two and a half hours to run the New Hampshire Half-Marathon on Oct. 2 in Bristol, N.H., but now at least I have the hope I can do it.
I'd love to see you all get involved. I've got a webpage if you'd like to contribute to either of the charities I'm running for -- the Wounded Warrior Project (which financially supports seriously wounded soldiers as they transition to civilian life) or Feed the Children (which provides food and supplies to thousands of needy children and families). You can just follow the directions at
I asked for $5 for my "Five For Fighting'' USO project last season, and we raised $204,000 for recreational equipment for the U.S. troops in Afghanistan most far-removed from anything resembling a normal life. This time, I'm asking $10, either to be split between the two charities or to be given to your choice. (Actually, I'd take anything. If you can give $1, that's great too.)
Feed the Children is working with me so that if we raise $7,200, that would fund one semi-trailer chock-full of food and family supplies to be driven to an inner city with the contents helping hundreds of families. (And if we raise multiples of $7,200, that would be more trucks to more inner cities.) Wounded Warrior Project has many different programs your donations would go to. I urge you to click onto
I've got one prize per week that I'll be giving out to donors. Here's the first: Two club seats to the Yankees-Red Sox game at Fenway Park on Friday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m. Face value is $175 per ticket. The first person to donate $500 to either cause (or $250 to both) will get these great seats -- very roomy, which, if you've been to Fenway, you know is a huge bonus -- to a game of the best rivalry in sports.
1. I think the most underrated roster move of the weekend was
"I can't wait to see our blitzes this year,'' coach
2. I think with the Sunday cutting of fullback
3. I think
4. I think the hidden story behind the
5. I think the hidden story of the week was
6. I think Mike Shanahan is a very good football coach. One of the best. But if you're trying to build a bridge and salvage your relationship with
7. I think the Pat White story -- Miami cut White, its second-round pick, after a terrible spring and summer of trying to make him a real quarterback -- is a great example of what happens when teams judge a player more for what he does in the winter than in the fall. In other words, the Dolphins fell in love with the White who had a great 2008 postseason. They liked his potential as an athletic Wildcat quarterback, and when they got him to camp found out he didn't throw the ball much better than
8. I think these are the best nuggets from the enlightening
a. Never knew
b. Defensive coordinator
c. When kicker
d. Second half, NFC Championship Game, Payton on the sidelines, to no one in particular about Favre: "This guy's going to make a mistake now, I promise you.''
e. I still can't believe
That's a vastly underrated part of the Super Bowl story. If Baskett recovers the simple bouncer at the Saints' 45,
f. On the Peyton Manning interception that
First: Poor throw by Manning, obviously, to a spot where he thought the receiver could be just beginning his cut, because Porter stepped into the hole and made an easy catch.
Second: Great anticipation by Porter made that play happen. Clearly he knew Wayne almost certainly would be running an incut route on the play, and he anticipated it brilliantly.
Third: I don't see Wayne on an iso camera running routes often, but this one was rounded and lazy and not run with the speed that could have had Wayne cutting off Porter. All in all, I'd credit Porter for a great football play, but I'd also criticize Wayne for his route and, to a lesser degree, Manning for making a throw that Porter saw coming a hundred miles away.
9. I think, speaking of strategy and the Saints, it's significant that
The interesting part of the story, to me, is how Williams debriefed Sharper when he arrived in free agency and found out the Vikings wouldn't go back and watch every game to determine where the blitzes came from early in the season, and thus didn't expect Sharper to come through the A gap. I wonder if the Vikings will go back farther than eight games to study where Williams might send the pressure from this Thursday. The Vikes should.
10. I think there are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Welcome back to New Jersey,
b. My Lord. Who has kidnapped the New York Mets? Mets batting order Friday at Chicago: Pagan, Duda, Carter, Wright, Davis, Arias, Thole, R.Tejada, Dickey. That's closer to the Binghamton lineup than a big-league one.
c. Box score line of the week:
e. Notre Dame lives.
f. Just how many NCAA stars are suspended, exactly? That seemed to be the story line in so many games.
g. Memo to ESPN radio: After the 39th radio spot promoting the
h. Coffeenerdness: On the 76 miles of backroads down to Cape Cod Saturday night, I counted the number of Dunkin Donuts stores. Thirty-two. Saw one Starbucks. It's New England.
i. A great savaging of the
j. Nice knowing you,