The NFL's silly season officially has begun. Here are 10 Things I Think I Think on matters on and off the field:
1. I think Titans fans alarmed by the hiring of Chris Palmer as offensive coordinator shouldn't be. Good football man. Trusted by Eli Manning when he was his position coach with the Giants. They should be much more worried about who Palmer will be coaching. There's no long-term quarterback there.
2. I think San Diego GM A.J. Smith was partially right today when he said after franchising Vincent Jackson that the Chargers very much want Jackson on their team. He should have added "at a price very favorable to the team,'' which is what, over 2010 and '11, San Diego will have gotten Jackson for.
3. I think it's not over for Carson Palmer in Cincinnati. Jay Gruden's going to convince him he can be great in Gruden's West Coast offense, and I believe Marvin Lewis will do Palmer a favor and make sure neither Chad Ochocinco or Terrell Owens will be on the roster opening day -- whenever that is.
4. I think I like the brainpower Cleveland's brought in to help young coach Pat Shurmur, with Gil Haskell, Keith Gilbertson, Ray Rhodes and Mike Holmgren just down the hall to be sounding boards for Shurmur in his first head coaching job at any level. But I also fear very strong-willed coaches in the past -- Holmgren and Rhodes -- might be overbearing for Shurmur at times. They've got to make sure they're resource people and not more than that.
5. I think you shouldn't get too excited about anything in the negotiations between players and owners. History says players have gotten ticked off at pompous or overbearing owners during job actions in 1982 and 1987, the way some players are angry at Carolina owner Jerry Richardson for
6. I think if I were doing an over-under for when a deal gets done, I'd set it at Sept. 13. And I personally would bet the over.
7. I think NFLPA czar DeMaurice Smith might do a lot of things in negotiations with the owners, but the one thing he won't do is be pressured into taking a deal he doesn't like. Read Jim Trotter's story in Sports Illustrated when it hits newsstands this week and you'll learn that Smith is about as resolute as they come.
8. I think there's a 10-15 percent chance a deal gets done by the March 4 "deadline'' for the end of the current CBA. That's because this deadline is not a deal deadline. It doesn't matter.
9. I think the most surprising thing in commissioner Roger Goodell's
10. I think the city of San Diego needs to take the threat of the L.A. stadium very seriously.
Now for your e-mail:
• AN IDEA ABOUT THE NUMBER OF REGULAR-SEASON GAMES:
I'll do my best. In fact, they might even be reading this along with you right now. I love the neutral site idea, but remember, every time the NFL goes to a neutral, it costs the league money and takes away revenue of one more home game for a team.
• MATT WANTS TO SEE THE HEADS OF LINEMEN PROTECTED.
I'm interested in seeing the long-term results of the study by the University of North Carolina, where each practice is monitored, and each helmet contact recorded. That could tell how much damage is done by the buildup of the kind of incidental contact that happens in football. As far as Paterno's idea goes, I think the better technology for helmets, the better the chances are that players and stewards of the game won't be as vigilant about individual contact plays.
• THAT'S THE WORLD WE LIVE IN.
Thanks. I don't know what to do about that except answer the charges as honestly as I can. The genie's out of the bottle. We're not going back to a lower form of communication, Lee.
• I AM ACTUALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO THE SUPER BOWL IN INDIANAPOLIS.
I love going to Indy every year for the Scouting Combine. The biggest reason is that it's so convenient. You don't need a rental car, or, really, transportation of any kind. Everything's right there in an eight-block-square radius. The restaurants are good, and it's a convivial atmosphere when everyone in the place is there for the same reason. So don't fret. Indy's going to do well.
• WE'RE ALL JUST GUESSING ON THIS ONE, MARCUS.
Fairness is going to be out the window if the schedule is cut down to nine or 10 games. It'll be the luck of the schedule, and when you were supposed to play certain teams. As far as the drop-dead date, I'd say it'd be sometime around Nov. 1. You figure teams are going to need three weeks to get ready to play, and they'd have to play at least nine games to make the season seem even remotely legitimate.
• I AM A BAD BEER MAN.
My apologies. I actually had a few of the locals -- Bison IPA from Berkeley and a Hefeweizen from Oregon, Pyramid, that I've had in Seattle before. Like them both.