A six-pack of quick NFL thoughts, including a first peek at the 2011 draft board, then your mail:
As I explained Monday, Seymour's fine is one-fifth of 1 percent of his 2010 salary. How exactly is that a deterrent? Add all three fines together and you get the same amount James Harrison of the Steelers got for his accidental violent hit on the Browns' Mohamed Massaquoi a month ago.
I find it absurd that the NFL thinks what it's done to the three fighters will do anything to change their behavior, or deter other players from fighting in the future. The NFL should have suspended Finnegan and Johnson for one game apiece. That would have gotten players' attention.
I got an interesting explanation of what happened with Johnson postgame Sunday from Scott Berchtold, the Bills media-relation poobah. Here it is: "We figured Stevie would address the media at his locker, but he insisted on doing it at the podium. He assured us that he was OK to address the media at the podium and really wanted to do it there, even though we reminded him that he had the option of addressing them at his locker. The bottom line is that Stevie was really a stand-up guy through it all and it was his idea to go to the podium. He didn't duck anyone and he answered the questions that were asked of him. He was extremely honest in his comments, as I'm sure you saw, and we just thought he deserved a lot of credit for being a stand-up guy in a situation that was, obviously, very emotional and extremely difficult for him.''
Understand this: Johnson probably would have had 40 or so media people around his locker, with TV minicams there too, trying to hear what he said and straining to get a view so they could read his emotions. The fact that he chose to open himself up to the media while he still was devastated says to me this is a mature kid who gets the responsibility he has and understands the job of the media to tell the story the right way.
Last night in Arizona, Westbrook had 23 carries for 136 yards and was the main reason the Niners got a season-saving win. But there's one thing about his play I didn't like. There was too much of it. We all know Westbrook's shot legs and ankles mean he's got a finite number of carries left in him. The Niners have to manage those carries very, very carefully. I realize he'd only had five going into last night, but he's not going to survive many 23-carry games.
With San Francisco having 24-6 lead with 17 minutes left in the game last and Arizona absolutely sputtering offensively, it was time to take Westbrook out and let the bench finish the game. But from there, the Niners handed him the ball for seven rushes -- one was called back due to penalty -- in trying to run the clock out.
This should be the rule around the 49ers for the rest of the year: Westbrook doesn't play when the Niners are up by 20 or down by 20 inside of 20 minutes to play. Period. And then pray he survives the next five weeks.
Clausen's been OK this year; he actually was close to heroic late in the game at Cleveland on Sunday. But I think unless the Panthers get the kind of three-top-picks offer to drop down a bit in the first round, there's no way I wouldn't pick Luck first overall. It's the kind of decision that could torment them for years if they pass him by.
Now for your e-mail:
• THE MIGHTY NFC WEST.
I understand the question, and it's going to be raised a lot in the coming weeks. But if the division winner is not going to make the playoffs automatically, why have divisions? The very occasional lousy record to win the division is unfortunate, but no reason to change the rules. Now about the home game for all division winners, that absolutely has to go.
• WOODHEAD'S THE MAN.
I have great respect for Faulk, and Bill Belichick loves him. Loves him. But Belichick is a bottom-line guy, and if he views Woodhead as a decade-younger Faulk, I wouldn't be surprised if the Pats give Faulk a gold watch and fond handshake after the season and wish him well in his future endeavors.
• LOTS OF NFL FOLKS WOULD LOVE TO SEE THIS.
Good question. I think the way the United Football League is constituted, it makes sense for it to be a sort of Triple-A league for the NFL. Problem is, owners like Mark Cuban may have delusions of grandeur about being a true competitor to the NFL someday. So I'm not sure the current UFL owners would want to be a developmental league totally.