Welcome to the Combine

A blip on the NFL calendar a decade ago, the annual showcase of prospects has turned into a money-making circus watched by millions. Draft guru Mike Mayock explains the popularity boom and shares five storylines he'll follow in Indianapolis
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It’s that time of year—the 2015 football season is about to begin.

Over the past decade or so, since the NFL combine has gotten so much traction in this football-crazed country, I always think of combine week as the beginning of the new season. There will be medical meetings and competition committee meetings early in the week in Indianapolis, and then on Wednesday, coaches and GMs and scouts will gather to begin the process of medical exams, player interviews and on-field workouts for the 323 college prospects at the combine. Those workouts will be Friday through Monday this year, starting at 9 a.m. ET daily, beginning a day earlier than usual in the NFL’s attempt to—guess what—improve TV ratings.

It’s always amazed me how combine-nutty so many people inside and outside the sport are. But ratings and the audience were up 60 percent in 2014 over 2010 numbers on NFL Network, and the ratings have climbed on ESPN too. The other day I asked NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock, the cornerstone combine expert in the business, why he thinks the four-day event has become such an extravaganza.

“I have figured it out finally," Mayock said from his home outside Philadelphia, taking a break from tape-watching and working the phones on prospects. “The first year we did the combine, it was me and Paul Burmeister, nobody else. My dad is a college offensive line coach, and so we do the first day, and it’s all the offensive linemen, and I call home to talk to my dad, to see what he thought of it. He said, ‘Son, after the first seven minutes, I had to turn that s--- off.’

“So, I thought people would never watch it. But with that as a backdrop, I think there’s three things that have gotten people into it over the years. One: There’s a crossover audience, of college football fans and pro football fans. The college football fans want to see how their guys are doing matched up against the best guys from around the country. The pro football fans want to be introduced to the players they’re going to be watching. Two: NFL fans, especially fantasy football fans, want to compare one receiver to another, or one quarterback to another. I’m amazed how much I hear that from fans. Three: I think people love to see players without helmets and pads on. To see a 270-pound man run a 4.6 40-yard dash, viscerally, is a really cool thing to see."

"The first year we did the combine, I called my dad to see what he thought," Mayock says. "He said, 'Son, after the first seven minutes, I had to turn that s--- off.’"

I asked Mayock for the storylines he’ll be watching.

1. Who will challenge Chris Johnson’s combine-record 4.24-second 40-yard dash?

“Three wide receivers have a different gear," Mayock said. They are:

Phillip Dorsett, considered one of the fastest prospects in the draft, also ran track at Miami. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Phillip Dorsett, considered one of the fastest prospects in the draft, also ran track at Miami. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

• Phillip Dorsett, Miami, 5-10, 183. “The first time I put in tape of him, all I could think of was Mike Wallace running around the Senior Bowl," Mayock said. "He was under the radar until people saw him run. I asked him his goal for the combine, and he said, ‘4.3 or better.’ You know, 4.3, 4.28 is world-class speed."

• Devin Smith, Ohio State, 6-3, 190. Smith may have been the biggest playmaker in the country in 2014, with 33 catches for a 28.2-yard average and 12 touchdowns.

• Sammie Coates, Auburn, 6-2, 213. “Biggest of the three, a real specimen," said Mayock. “I don’t think he catches the ball as naturally as the other two. I want to see how naturally he can catch it."

2. Which of the big guys will shine athletically?

“In 2011," said Mayock, “J.J. Watt was 291 pounds, ran his 40 in 4.91, jumped 37 inches, and his short-shuttle/three-cone times were consistent with the wide receivers and defensive backs. To me, that performance was freakier than Chris Johnson running a 4.24. There’s one of those at most combines. Who’s it going to be?"

Two candidates: Arik Armstead, a 6-7, 297-pound defensive end from Oregon, and Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma’s 6-6, 336-pound nosetackle. “I can’t wait to see them run 10-yard dashes [the first 10 yards of their 40s]," Mayock said. “That’s the important time for those guys.”

3. Who are the boom-or-bust guys in this draft?

Phillips, for one. Said Mayock: “Back surgery two years ago, only started 16 games in college, but he’s a dancing bear, and he’ll probably go in the first round.” Then there's the “poster child for boom or bust—Dorial Green-Beckham," Mayock said. Green-Beckham played two seasons at Missouri, was arrested on marijuana charges twice at Missouri, was dismissed from the team in April 2014, transferred to Oklahoma, was not granted eligibility for the 2014 season, then declared for the draft last month. At 6-5 and 225 pounds, he can run a 4.4 40-yard dash, and some team just might risk a low first-round pick on him. “I watched every target to him in 2013, and he has no idea what he’s doing, but he changes games," said Mayock. Finally, another tall pass-catcher, the 6-5, 230-pound Devin Funchess of Michigan. Might be a big receiver, a la Kelvin Benjamin, or an athletic tight end who can put on 15 pounds. We’ll see.

4. Who is an intriguing player NFL teams just can’t figure out?

The LB Who Couldn't Hit

Washington’s Shaq Thompson spent the past three seasons proving he’s capable of just about anything on the football field; he’s a likely first-round pick in this year’s draft. But the first time he went pro, as a centerfielder, he proved to be anything but a can’t-miss prospect, Emily Kaplan writes.


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Washington outside linebacker/inside linebacker/strong safety/running back Shaq Thompson. Our Emily Kaplan

profiled him last week

, and the interesting thing is that Thompson played professional baseball, ignominiously, in the Red Sox system before turning his full attention to football. This ignomiously: He was 0-for-39 as a professional hitter, with 37 strikeouts. “I didn’t know that!" Mayock said. “That’s a great story!”

"I’ve talked to six or eight evaluators in the last few days about Thompson," said Mayock. “Two like him as a running back, two as a safety, and most as a linebacker."

Thompson actually could be one of those hybrid safety/linebackers that Todd Bowles used with such great impact in Arizona last year—strong safety on first down, a nickel linebacker rushing some and covering some on second and third downs.

5. A chance to see through the fog at quarterback.

Mayock: “It’s not a good quarterback class. I’m scared to death of Jameis Winston off the field, and I’m scared to death of how many interceptions he throws. He threw seven interceptions against Louisville and Florida, and could have been 12 or 13 if the other teams could catch the ball. But most quarterbacks come out of the spread now, and they’re projections, like Marcus Mariota. I love so much about Mariota, but he is a projection. I’m much more comfortable projecting Winston, even with the interceptions, because he was a pocket guy at Florida State. And his ability to win games in the second half is mind-boggling."

As for who’s number three, Mayock says, at least today, that would be UCLA’s Brett Hundley or Baylor’s Bryce Petty. “I have significant concerns about both of them," he said. “I like Petty’s arm, accuracy and size, but he has no idea how to play in the pocket, from what I saw."

I plan to have a few further thoughts on Winston, who is entering a vital week for his draft status, in my Tuesday column.

Washington's Danny Shelton (right) is drawing comparisons to space-eating Raven Haloti Ngata. (Getty Images/AP)

Washington's Danny Shelton is drawing comparisons to space-eating Raven Haloti Ngata. (Getty Images/AP)

Mayock likes comparing players he’s seeing now to players he’s seen in the past. NFL Network has cataloged all players at the combine since 2003, and when an apt comparison surfaces from something Mayock sees or from the composite workout of a player, that comparison will be illustrated on air.

The MMQB on The 2015 Draft

Cal wideout Chris Harper declared early for the draft and now is a combine snub, precisely the scenario the NFL is trying to avoid. Plus, get to know an ex-Oregon QB not named Marcus Mariota FULL STORY Our NFL film-study maven Andy Benoit and college football know-it-all Andy Staples will break down the needs of all 32 teams and suggest which prospects would be the best fit. We start in the division that the Lombardi Trophy calls home... FULL STORY

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A few comparisons Mayock sees now, before the workouts:

Defensive tackle Leonard Williams, USC :: Richard Seymour.

Nose tackle Danny Shelton, Washington :: Haloti Ngata.

Safety/linebacker/running back Shaq Thompson, Washington :: Deone Bucannon.

Outside linebacker Dante Fowler, Florida :: Justin Houston.

Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, Miami :: Mike Wallace.


It should be an illuminating week in Indianapolis. For The MMQB, I’ll be there, along with Jenny Vrentas, Robert Klemko and Emily Kaplan, and videographer John DePetro. Andy Staples also will be there, working on a couple of things for The MMQB, SI and SI.com. And photographer Todd Rosenberg will be with us, capturing the players and the flavor of the combine. Follow along here, and on Instagram and Twitter.

* * *

Requiem for a heavyweight.

Dave Goldberg died last week at 73. There’s a good chance you didn’t know Goldberg, even if you were a big football fan. That’s because, most often, Goldberg’s best stories would appear in your hometown newspaper without his name on them, because he wrote for the Associated Press. Such as this preview of the Super Bowl 27 years ago:

SAN DIEGO (AP)—For the second straight year, the Super Bowl comes down to John Elway against the world, the world this year being the Washington Redskins rather than the New York Giants. Is there anyone else on the Broncos besides their quarterback?

That’s called “foreshadowing.” Goldberg was good at that.

Washington 42, Denver 10.

Today, Twitter has become the wire-service feed. I follow writers for all NFL teams, as well as national writers and multimedia people. So for the past six years, that has become my Associated PressBut for years, and through the 25 years he was the AP’s lead pro football writer (1984-2009), Dave Goldberg and his APbrethren were my news feed for the NFL. I knew he would give me the facts I needed to know, laced with some smart leanings, but never a hit-over-the-head opinion, because that’s not what wire services did. They reported facts. Then you decided what you thought about the facts. Remember those days?

Goldberg never minded. Like so many of his colleagues with the wire services, he never got in it to see his name in the newspaper. He got in it to cover the big story, and the mundane story. That’s what reporting is. And he was terrific at it. I’d see him over the years alone with the biggest newsmakers in the game, in a sidebar after a press conference with Paul Tagliabue, walking down the hall with Jerry Jones at a league meeting, sidling up to Peyton Manning after a game. And he did it fast, and with smart, good writing. When I’d cover a big 1 p.m. Giants game back in the ’80s for Newsday, Goldberg would write his AM game story and his “PM-er," the story for the Monday afternoon dailies with quotes, and he’d waltz out of the press box by 6:30 or so, done for the day, and I’d read his stories late night and invariably I’d wish I had one of his quotes or factoids in what I’d written as a beat man.

As he got older, Goldberg became one of the wise owls in the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection meetings. Unemotional, fact-based, very smart. He wouldn’t rail at much, really. But he did not like clichés. At all. Such as this one: future Hall of Famer. "Future Hall of Famer," he’d grouse. “If every guy who was a future Hall of Famer became a real Hall of Famer, we’d have to put 50 guys in every year!”

I’ll really miss the guy.

* * * 

The new NFL chief health and medical adviser to make her debut at the combine.

Dr. Elizabeth Nabel (Steven Senne/AP)

Dr. Nabel (Steven Senne/AP)

Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, appointed by the NFL last Monday to be the league’s first chief health and medical adviser overseeing all league medical affairs, will be at the combine to meet with the league’s various medical committees and trainers and executives. Nabel will continue as president of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and as a professor of medicine at Harvard.

As to why the position isn’t a full-time job, the NFL’s senior vice president of health and safety policy, Jeff Miller, said: “We were looking for a consultant. We have found that mode works very well for us. In this case, she will begin to listen and learn at the combine. She’ll evaluate the work for our medical committees. She’ll study our concussion protocols. She’ll form opinions on what we can do better … Basically, we haven’t had one person to look at the whole of what we are doing to make our game as safe as possible, and we think she is an outstanding person to do that."

Miller said Nabel’s name came up often as the league looked for a medical expert with a diverse background in a very complicated field—as well as someone accustomed to being a boss of smart and high-achieving people. “You don’t get to run Brigham and Women’s if you don’t know how to herd cats,” NFL consultant and brain-trauma expert Robert Cantu told the Boston Globe.

"She runs one of the finest hospitals in the world," said Miller. “She has the breadth of experience we wanted, and so much perspective on modern health care. She uses her strategic sense to move health care forward."

One immediate focus for Nabel, at least in the eyes of fans and teams, will be to examine the league’s concussion-diagnosis protocols and see if the NFL has it right. In the Patriots’ Super Bowl victory, Julian Edelman returned to play despite appearing shaken up after a fourth-quarter collision. He has declined comment about it since the game, including to The New York Times on Sunday. But with the emphasis on head trauma and long-term effects of hits to the head, there should be a crystal-clear policy on when players can return, and what precisely constitutes a concussion or a hit severe enough to bar a player from returning to a game. The policy has gotten better, but the cloudiness of the Edelman story makes it obvious the league still has a job to finish there.

* * *

We’re having a Tweetup in Indianapolis this week.

A Tweetup, for those who haven’t been to one, is an informal meeting of people who, theoretically, have encountered one another on Twitter. For the past six years in Indianapolis, some of my readers/followers/hecklers have come to a public place or bar when the combine is in town, and I’ve brought some of my media friends, and we talk football for a while. This year, we’re changing things up a bit.

Where: Sun King Brewing Co., 135 North College Ave., Indianapolis (about seven blocks from downtown).

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Tickets: $10. Yes, this used to be free. We decided to charge this year, with all ticket money going to Thrive360 (formerly Kids Against Hunger of Central Indiana), a group that packs meals for the needy and the hungry. You must be 21 or older to attend. Beer will be sold at the event. Buy your tickets here.

Follow me on Twitter, and when I know more details about the event, I’ll pass them along. Hope to see you there.

Quotes of the Week


“I was told I wouldn’t be the coach any more, and then … You can call it mutual. I mean, I wasn’t going to put the 49ers in a position to have a coach they didn’t want anymore. But that’s the truth of it. I didn’t leave the 49ers. I felt like the 49er hierarchy left me."

—Former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh on “The TK Show” podcast with San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami, on Friday.


“To all the kids who looked up to me, I’m truly sorry for letting you down, but I hope it’s helped you learn that one bad decision can turn your dream into a nightmare. There is no excuse for domestic violence, and I apologize for the horrible mistake I made. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me, and I hope to make a positive difference in people’s lives by raising awareness of this issue.”

—Ray Rice, in The Baltimore Sun on Friday, hoping to make amends for striking his wife in an Atlantic City casino elevator a year ago Sunday.

Today is day 80 that Rice has been free to sign with an NFL team, since his reinstatement by a neutral arbitrator. He’ll probably end up in some team’s camp this summer, but 11 weeks to be free, and no takers … Rice has to be getting worried at this point.


"No chance in hell.”

—University of Chicago economist Allen Sanderson, to the Chicago Tribune, on the city of Chicago’s claim that holding the three-day NFL draft in the city will be a boon for the local economy.


“Coach [Don] Shula was a hero of mine, and he still is. Coming where I came from, my respect for him overrode anything about that Super Bowl III game. Coach Shula and I have been together many times now, and I never opened my mouth about that game unless he brought it up or somebody else brought it up. I remember when I was first doing some color for TV, I went down to the Dolphins practice, and I took my father with me. At the time, my dad might have been in his 70s or early 80s. And coach Shula put his arm around my father, and those guys start talking Hungarian. And I tell you what, he made my daddy feel so darn good. It was wonderful. We have never talked about the Super Bowl, and we don’t need to. We both moved on. One of the things I have said to other people and I said to you, too: it is the players on the field, for the most part, that execute. That team was so highly touted; they had accomplished so much that year in the NFL. They were called the best NFL team ever, the best defense ever, and I think they were overconfident. And if I am wrong—no, I know I am not. They were overconfident. And our guys, our team, our players, with our determination and urgency, outplayed them, and that was that."

—Joe Namath, to Jenny Vrentas of The MMQB, in Vrentas’ weekly “Talking Football” interview on Friday. 

So many of these interviews, published every Friday, are gold. Vrentas gets good stuff out of interesting people.


"You must have accomplished something when you're asked to come and totally humiliate yourself on Saturday Night Live. I mean, they made me peg an 8-year-old in the face with a football."

—Peyton Manning, on NBC's Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary show Sunday night.

Stat of the Week

I am not purposely advocating for Peyton Manning here, but I am going to come down on one side of a question beginning to get some attention in Denver: Should Peyton Manning, who will be 39-and-a-half years old on opening day, take a pay cut from his scheduled $19 million salary in 2015 to stay a Bronco?

Those who would say yes would point to the fact that Manning looked 49-and-a-half down the stretch of the season, when he was plagued by leg injuries. And when you age, you are susceptible to getting hurt more.

Those who would say no, like me, would use this statistic for evidence:

Touchdown pass leaders since 2012

1. Peyton Manning (131)

2. Drew Brees (115)

3. Aaron Rodgers (94)

4. Tony Romo (93)

5. Tom Brady (92)

There is only one quarterback, then, within 35 touchdown passes of Manning since he began playing for the Broncos in 2012.

Factoids of the Week That May Interest Only Me


Sam Bradford’s salary cap number in 2015 is $2.58 million more than Tom Brady’s. According to Spotrac, Bradford’s number is $16.58 million (which the Rams are intent on lowering); Brady, $14 million.

There are 14 quarterbacks with higher scheduled cap numbers in 2015 than Brady.

Saints linebacker Junior Galette ($15.45 million) has a higher cap number in 2015 than Brady. Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe ($14 million) has the same cap number. Galette had 10 sacks for the Saints last year. Bowe had zero touchdown catches, and is on a 17-game touchdown-less streak.


On Feb. 14, Michigan State basketball player Denzel Valentine made the game-winning basket to beat Ohio State.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

I’d never been to Key West before spending four days there last week with my wife. Cool place. Nobody ever told me about the roosters, though.

Did you know that the place is crawling with roosters? The first night there, in the wee hours, I heard a strange noise. It woke me up. Pitch-dark out, about 4:45 a.m. Cock-a-doodle-doo! Over, and over, and over again. One morning it was raining, and they weren’t out in force then. But every other morning, before 5, a few of them just went off.

They just walk around town. Everywhere. Went to the Hog's Breath Saloon early one evening, and there were two on the sidewalk outside the place. On Duval Street, at the Ernest Hemingway House, in the parking lot of the 7-Eleven … everywhere.

Tweets of the Week


The Seattle punter, after Russell Wilson said on Twitter he saw the risqué movie over the weekend.


The Bleacher Report draft analyst, after an unflattering picture of Jameis Winston (who looked a bit overweight) popped up Saturday.


Now there’s one no one else thought of in the past few days. 


The ESPN writer, after NBC suspended news anchor Brian Williams six months without pay. That is the best sentence I read on Williams all week. Perfect.


Northern Arizona University helped mold Mueller, the extraordinary person taken by ISIS in 2013 and last week confirmed killed.

If Peyton Manning passes a physical, his 2015 base salary—$19 million—will be guaranteed on March 9. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

If Peyton Manning passes a physical, his 2015 base salary—$19 million—will be guaranteed on March 9. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think Roger Goodell would be a more popular commissioner—and God knows he needs to work on that this offseason—if he told the league’s compensation committee: “Just pay me $10 million next year." He earned $44 million in 2012, and tax statements obtained by Sports Business Journal and The New York Times Friday indicate his compensation package for 2013 was $35 million. (The compensation committee determines the commissioner’s compensation package for one year in the following April.) A man should be able to earn what he is worth in this country; far be it from me to limit what a person can fairly be paid. But to me, Goodell’s earnings package is tone-deaf. Being compensated exactly double what the NFL MVP, Peyton Manning, made in 2013 ($15 million in salary, $2.5 million in pro-rated bonus, $17.5 million total) is just another reason for enmity to rise in those who think Goodell’s done precious little to earn it—whether he has or not.


Seattle’s infamous interception overshadowed a career-defining game by the Tom Brady, who explains from his perspective what went down in the final quarter FULL STORY The official start of the offseason marks the transition from u201cwe timeu201d to u201cme timeu201d for NFL players. Here are 12 offseason predictions about who will get paid, who won’t, and how ongoing controversies will be resolved FULL STORY Cal wideout Chris Harper declared early for the draft and now is a combine snub, precisely the scenario the NFL is trying to avoid. Plus, get to know an ex-Oregon QB not named Marcus Mariota FULL STORY Shaq Thompson, a likely first-round pick, spent the past three seasons proving he’s capable of just about anything on the football field. But the first time he went pro, he proved to be anything but a can’t-miss prospect FULL STORY Our NFL film-study maven Andy Benoit and college football know-it-all Andy Staples will break down the needs of all 32 teams and suggest which prospects would be the best fit. We start in the division that the Lombardi Trophy calls home... FULL STORY The MMQB spent four frantic days—and a few sleepless nights—with a top broker as he worked the wildest and most lucrative Super Bowl ticket market ever FULL STORY

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2. I think Packers fans who saw their season tickets rise in price for the sixth straight year last week will renew through gritted teeth. But it’s a pretty good deal, if you ask me, to sit in the 30th row at the 45-yard line at Lambeau for $1,050 per season, for the 10 games. Of course, fans shouldn’t have to pay full price for the two preseason games, but that’s another matter.

3. I think the odds of Peyton Manning returning to the Broncos increased from 65 percent to 85 percent the other day, when Manning met with GM John Elway and, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, told Elway he wants to play in 2015.

4. I think the Broncos definitely want Manning back for 2015. Take that to the bank. John Elway knows Denver’s best chance to go deep in the playoffs in 2015 is with Manning at quarterback. Elway and the Broncos might quietly rattle some sabers about lowering Manning’s salary in 2015. Now, if they want to lower Manning’s cap number, that would be easy to do—by putting, for example, some of his $19 million salary in a guaranteed bonus. But to me, Manning making $21.5 million on the Denver cap—15 percent of the Broncos’ 2015 total cap—is not excessive. And if I were Elway, I wouldn’t push very much into 2016 or beyond, knowing this very well could be Manning’s last season in Denver. You don’t want to carry a lot of dead money that will hurt your ability to manage a cap well down the road.

5. I think that must have been one of Jim Kelly’s happiest birthdays, his 55th, on Saturday.

6. I think that was smart of Mike McCarthy in Green Bay, to divest himself of play-calling duties and hand them to Tom Clements. McCarthy still will have his fingerprints all over the offensive game plan, and surely he’ll hang on to the ability to overrule Clements if he doesn’t like a call. One of the things Jason Garrett found in Dallas last season, in ceding play-calling on offense, was that it gave him more of a chance to be the coach of 53 players, not just the 25 (give or take a few) on offense. McCarthy needs to be more involved on special teams, where the Packers were a disaster last year.

7. I think the Vikings appear to be laying out the red carpet (purple carpet?) for Adrian Peterson to return to the team. Co-owner Mark Wilf and COO Kevin Warren both have said they would welcome back Peterson once he finishes his NFL-mandated discipline; Peterson is suspended until at least April 15. But it’s too soon to say Peterson will be back in purple. He’s been open in saying he’s not sure if he wants to return, and if spring comes around and he tells the club he thinks it would be better if they split, it’ll be interesting to see how they respond. As a free agent, Peterson would be in solid demand, I would think. Dallas would be the leader in the clubhouse, if DeMarco Murray is not franchised and his price tag is too high for the cap-strapped Cowboys. But again, that’s if Murray isn’t there, and I still think the Cowboys have a good chance to work out a deal with Murray.

8. I think it comes through loud and clear in Jim Harbaugh's interview with Tim Kawakami that, right or wrong, Harbaugh thinks Jim Tomsula lobbied for the job and/or wasn't loyal to him before the end of the 2014 season. We'll see how that fares with Harbaugh loyalists who are left behind, but it bears watching.

9. I think for those up in arms about Richie Incognito signing to play football again (in Buffalo, for Rex Ryan), I would say this: Incognito has sat out a year-and-a-half of football. Banned, in effect, for 24 games. (That’s the final eight games of 2013, after the bullying scandal broke in Miami, due to a team suspension; and then all 16 games in 2014, when he went unsigned because he was so radioactive.) If you wanted Incognito banned for life because of his reprehensible behavior, 24 games won’t be enough for you. It is enough for me. Missing more than one-and-a-half years for an intense and offensive bullying of another player, to me, would be excessive; 24 borders on the excessive.

10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:

a. I don’t care what the investigation or the investigators in Chapel Hill, N.C., will say about the case of a man in a condo complex shooting three Muslim students, all in the head, all in cold-blooded murder. I will find it next-to-impossible to believe that one human can murder three humans in a dispute over a parking space.

b. Interesting story in The New York Times about the damage a dumb and racially insensitive Tweet did to a woman’s life—and about how so many people took delight in publicly shaming this woman they didn’t know.

c. Such a surprise, people on Twitter piling on someone.

d. Speaking of really good stories, here is one by Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates, on what’s needed to make baseball a game of all the people again, from The Players’ Tribune.

e. I didn’t know David Carr, The New York Times' media critic who died suddenly on Thursday, but I had tremendous respect for his work. What a loss.

f. And what a senseless loss, Bob Simon of 60 Minutes dying in a car wreck on the West Side Highway in New York City. He’s one of the TV reporters whose writing resonated with me, because it was always so literate.

g. Wow: 13 three-pointers in a row for Stephen Curry. This guy is so smooth, so great, so easy to root for.

h. Happy 43rd birthday, Jerome Bettis. It’s your first one with the yellow coat.

i. Can’t-miss program you should try: The Moth Radio Hour, on NPR. It’s on Saturday afternoon in New York. Three stories, told off the cuff, by great story-tellers. Best one I’ve heard in a while: Last week’s story of a woman in Albany, Amy Biancolli, being told her husband has committed suicide—and how she handles life, and her children, and her wedding ring, after that.

j. Last week, Casablanca. This week, Philomena. Stumbled on another tremendous movie the other night, about a half-hour in, and I devoured the rest.

k. Coffeenerdness: The Tweeter who told me the tall Flat White is best—because more espresso is concentrated in smaller drink (two shots to a tall, three to a grande)—was absolutely right. So I have adjusted: Now I’ll go four shots in a grande. And you just couldn't live without that news!

l. Beernerdness: One of the fun things about Key West: The Hog's Breath Saloon, with Rolling Rock in bottles. Knowing it might be one of the last times to enjoy a green Rock (the New Jersey brewery where much of the Rolling Rock bottle stock is produced will switch to cans only starting in April), I had three of them the other night. Brought back some great college memories—and memories of a having a few after Steelers training camp practices with the great Myron Cope.

Talk Back

Have a question or comment for Peter King? Email him at talkback@themmqb.com and it might be included in Tuesday’s mailbag.

m. Sad to see you go, Jon Stewart. The 2016 election just won’t be the same.

n. Just wondering, with opening day at Fenway Park eight weeks from this afternoon: Has there ever been five to six feet of snow on the ground in the ballpark two months before the opener?

o. Really liked most of the Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary show last night. But you're telling me Eddie Murphy couldn't tell one joke?

p. The good things: Debby Downer.

q. Miley Cyrus sounded great doing "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover."

r. Dana Carvey choppin' broccoli.

s. Bill Murray doing anything. In this case, singing about the shark in Jaws.

t. Chris Farley was so funny, and is so missed.

The Adieu Haiku

The scouting combine.

Players in shorts. Though you don’t …

play football in shorts.

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