Skip to main content

Monday Morning QB: Aaron Rodgers Never Wants to Retire (While Jay Cutler Changes His Mind)

Peter King's whirlwind camp tour swings through Green Bay, where the Packers quarterback is working to keep his body healthy so he can play another ‘seven, eight, nine, 10 years’

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Look around this classic old football town. It’s changing—in a big way. There’s a new luxury hotel, Lodge Kohler, across the street from Lambeau Field, a cornerstone to a new year-round fun-and-games Titletown District. (Bocce. Sled hill. Big park. Apartment complex. Medical complex.) Amazing hotel. You order room-service on the in-room bedside tablet; there are ground-floor suites with terraces and grills and fire pits, less than 100 yards from admission gates to Lambeau Field. Shiny and huge Hinterland Brewery has relocated here, with a couple of highbrow restaurants (there’s venison meatloaf) and 12 local brews on tap. There’s also an indoor Johnsonville tailgate house in the Lambeau lot, impressive and logical for frigid days.

As I looked over the lush landscape Friday, I couldn’t help but think: I hope the Packers thank their lucky stars for Aaron Rodgers.

And I hope they continue to thank those stars.

“I want to play another seven, eight, nine, 10 years,” the 33-year-old Rodgers told me in a quiet locker room Friday afternoon.

Much more about Rodgers and the Packers, and the pressure that lies on them, in a few moments. But news happened Sunday. The quarterback America loves to loathe walked out of retirement and into an impossible dream. Jay Cutler has to find a way to beat New England. That’s only the hardest assignment in football.

Image placeholder title

Jay Cutler is a Dolphin

Adam Gase got the best out of Jay Cutler in Chicago. They’ll reunite in Miami.

Adam Gase got the best out of Jay Cutler in Chicago. They’ll reunite in Miami.

Aug. 6, 2008: Mike Tannenbaum of the Jets finishes negotiations with agent Bus Cook to bring an NFC North alum, Brett Favre, out of retirement to try to save the Jets’ season. 

Aug. 6, 2017: Mike Tannenbaum of the Dolphins finishes negotiation with agent Bus Cook to bring an NFC North alum, Jay Cutler, out of retirement to try to save the Dolphins’ season.

The news: Cutler will fly to Miami this morning—he had a personal commitment Sunday night that he could not break—and take a physical he is certain to pass. (His diet and lifestyle have changed significantly from his early days in Denver.) He should sign his one-year, $10 million deal, with $3 million in reachable incentives, by this afternoon, and practice with the Dolphins tomorrow for the first time. By the way, I have heard that the incentive package is $2 million for playoff-related team goals, and $1 million comes if Miami is a top-10 offense.

This is a pretty logical deal. The Dolphins told Cutler either late Thursday or early Friday that they wanted him to replace Ryan Tannehill, who suffered a likely season-ending knee injury at practice Thursday. Cutler took 48 hours to think hard about it; I was told he was interested in making a serious run at doing TV on FOX’s number two team, led by Kevin Burkhardt, and Cutler was looking forward to life after football. This came out of the blue. So he needed time to process it. Said someone who knows Cutler on Sunday night: “He might have come back to another situation anyway. But when [Miami coach] Adam Gase called, that was his number one guy. No one’s had his back like Adam. I don’t think the decision was that hard.”

In Chicago in 2015, under offensive coordinator Gase, Cutler had his highest rating as an NFL passer (92.3). He was disciplined. Gase makes his quarterbacks play disciplined football, and makes them explain on Monday why they made a dumb read on a certain play on Sunday. Gase values balance, too, which is a quarterback’s best friend. Chicago was a 44 percent run team in 2015 with Cutler, and with better receivers last year in Miami, Gase called runs on 48 percent of the snaps over the last 11 weeks. That’s huge. As long as Jay Ajayi is healthy, and with center Mike Pouncey back from injury, Cutler can count on Gase not putting the whole load on his shoulders.

So two questions persist: Isn’t Cutler a bad locker-room guy? And why not Colin Kaepernick ahead of Cutler? On the first question, Cutler does not have a more passionate ally in the NFL right now than Gase. Three months ago, after Cutler signed a deal to do the FOX games, Gase was asked in a press conference if he thought Cutler would do well on TV. “I wouldn’t be surprised,” Gase said. “I guess I know a different guy than what everybody else portrays. I think a lot of things that have been said about him in the past have really been [BS].” While many in the league burn Cutler at the stake for being a laconic, downer type, Gase loves him. Gase wouldn’t have gone along with the signing if he didn’t think Cutler would fit in the locker room.

Jay Cutler Is Miami’s Present, and the Future Just Got Interesting

I’m told if Cutler didn’t sign, Miami would have considered Christian Ponder, Robert Griffin III and Kaepernick. I think the Dolphins are happy they didn’t have to go Kaepernick. Gase is a communicator, but he’s also a football nerd. My guess is he didn’t want to deal with the initial sideshow that would have come with Kaepernick … though I also think the initial public outcry for signing him would have died down once the games started and he played. But in the case of Kaepernick, there’s a chance Miami would have started backup Matt Moore and used Kaepernick as insurance. Cutler will start because he’s played well under Gase, and because Gase would trust him more than Moore.

This story, really, is more similar to the Vikings last year than the Jets nine years ago. Eleven months ago Minnesota didn’t want to waste a contending season with a strong defense after it lost Teddy Bridgewater, and it dealt a first-round pick to the Eagles for Sam Bradford. Here, Miami traded nothing, and is obligated for one year only. Our Albert Breer wrote about the future of Tannehill and Miami, and how Tannehill cannot see his 2018 roster spot in Miami as a lock anymore.

Scroll to Continue

SI Recommends

So Gase gets a quarterback who has had some great days in the NFL—just not enough of them. He gets Cutler, presumably at his most disciplined self. And the Dolphins get a chance, the way Minnesota had one last year. The Vikings with Bradford, by the way, went 8-8 last year, averaging a paltry 20.5 points per game. If Cutler and the Dolphins go 8-8, Gase, and all of the Miami organization, will be bitterly disappointed.

Image placeholder title

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers Pressure Cooker

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have made the playoffs eight straight seasons, tied with the Patriots for longest current streak in the NFL.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have made the playoffs eight straight seasons, tied with the Patriots for longest current streak in the NFL.

More on my camp tour now—on stops in Seattle, San Francisco, Minnesota and Green Bay. I was in Kansas City, too, and I’ll report on the Chiefs on Wednesday. Let’s start with Rodgers and what he’s doing to be better this season, and for a long time.

Great quarterbacks give you a chance every year. Great quarterbacks may not win the Big One, but they allow your team, whatever its foibles, to play into January annually. With hope and a good chance and 11 or 12 wins every year comes people flooding into your stadium and your city and your hotels, enjoying your new bells and whistles. Green Bay has five, seven, eight more years of Rodgers-related goodness, if I read it right. Maybe eight more years to build the franchise to record levels of prosperity. So … you come to Green Bay, to all this tradition and all the newness, and you see the excitement for another season. And you feel the pressure to win it all, to be the Patriots of the NFC. It’s sort of omnipresent.

“Of course you hear about it,” Rodgers said. “I get asked about it, I got asked about it last week—this idea that the Packers embrace mediocrity. I think what we've done the last eight years`making the playoffs, there's only a couple other teams that have ever done that. New England, actually, currently is on the same streak as us, making the playoff for eight straight years. That's tough to do, especially with the parity of this league and how they pair up division champions each year to play each other in the same conference. We've sustained success, we just haven't sustained it on the top level. We haven't won more than one Super Bowl. We’ve also been to three NFC championship games and none of them at home. So that's how we look at it. We've got to get one of those at home, because we are tough to beat at home.

“I don't feel like our window is closing here. I feel like this window is going to be open for a while. And in order for some of that stuff to go away, the outside noise, we're going to have to win another Super Bowl. It would be disappointing if we were only able to win one in my time here. Hopefully we can get one of those done.”

Mike McCarthy’s Keys To Coaching Longevity

Rodgers had a pretty peaceful offseason. He stayed off Page Six after his breakup with star Olivia Munn, and no one saw much of him … which is the way he likes it. He went fly fishing in Montana for a week, and spent some time getting to know New York City—anonymously.

“Mostly,” he said, “I think I did a really good job of pairing my workout mode with better eating habits. Now I’ve put together a year where I’ve sustained positive eating habits, and I really notice a difference in my performance. I did a lot of stretching and yoga this offseason, which I have always felt has helped me to sustain my legs and my athleticism and just taking off in practice on some scrambles. Yoga is just wonderful for me. I feel like I am moving as well as I did when I was 23 and I'm 33. Stretching, for me, is amazing. Flexibility can add years to your life, and in our life, football, it adds years to your career. The way I want to play even when I am 40-plus, I want to be moving around, and making plays outside the pocket like I still am, so I have to keep up with the yoga.”

We spoke the day after Tom Brady’s 40th birthday, and Rodgers said he emailed Brady on Thursday to wish him a happy birthday. “And I said to him, ‘Is it just me, or does it seem like you are getting more mobile with age? You're running around good! You weren't doing that when you were younger!’ I feel the same way at practice the last couple days.”

Off the field, Rodgers seems more placid. “His overall quality of life is at a high, since I’ve known him,” said coach Mike McCarthy.

In the Packer Pro Shop inside Lambeau Field on Friday afternoon, I saw a scrum of people around the replica team jerseys. The place was mobbed, just before a cool evening’s practice with a packed house across the street at the Don Hutson Center. The money was flowing. The crowd was eight-deep at the Rodgers rack.

Image placeholder title

The Coach With Guts, and the Missing Man

Mike Zimmer and the Vikings are looking to return to the playoffs after last season’s bumpy 8-8 record.

Mike Zimmer and the Vikings are looking to return to the playoffs after last season’s bumpy 8-8 record.

MANKATO, Minn. — What I found odd at the last of 52 Mankato training camps (the Vikings will move to their new suburban Minneapolis facility): no Adrian Peterson. I just got so used to coming here for a decade and seeing the crowds flock to see the best back in team history. I’m not alone. “It is totally weird to not see Adrian Peterson here,” said defensive end Everson Griffen, who shared this camp with Peterson for seven of the back’s 10 Vikings seasons. (Peterson, a cap casualty in the offseason, signed with the Saints.) “It feels like he should have finished his career here, but it’s a business.”

Odder still: Peterson will walk into Minnesota on opening night with the Saints. “Pretty big coincidence,” Griffen said with some skepticism. Now I had a question for Griffen, in these days of milder training camps, that I was genuinely curious about.

“Have you ever tackled Adrian Peterson? Once?” I asked.

“Never,” said Griffen. “NEH-ver. Not once! I thudded him up a few times, but never tackled him to the ground. He was off limits. He was a golden child. So to tackle him, it’s going to be weird, but it’s going to feel so good. I miss him.”

Dalvin Cook: The Vikings Rookie Is For Real

Of more importance this season: the health of coach Mike Zimmer. After eight surgeries related to a detached retina in his right eye, Zimmer told me here: “I’m done with the surgeries. The doctor said there was less than 1 percent chance that it would detach again. I have a contact lens now in my bad eye, my right eye. Without the contact, I can hardly see anything. With the contact, I can see kind of good. But it doesn’t really affect me that much. It’s more of a nuisance. My other eye is really good. It’s really not an issue. The doctor is only concerned if something happens to my left eye. I feel really strongly that I do this for the fans, for the team, for the organization—I have to do what’s best for the team, not just what’s best for me. Depth perception, close up work, is hard, but people in all walks of life do it all the time. It’s just part of life.”

There was a pause, Zimmer sitting on his golf cart before practice, squinting a bit.

“It’s a little hard,” he said. “But losing games, that’s worse.”

Image placeholder title

Seahawks Fight (Everybody) to Stay on Top

Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson are showing love here, but it hasn’t been all hugs at Seahawks training camp so far.

Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson are showing love here, but it hasn’t been all hugs at Seahawks training camp so far.

RENTON, Wash. — This didn’t seem like a happy team the day I was there (last Tuesday). Two skirmishes at practice. One carried over, with coach Pete Carroll banning hothead defensive end Frank Clark for a day of practice when he slugged offensive lineman Germain Ifedi later in the week. Richard Sherman still obviously feeling pissed off over Seth Wickersham’s ESPN story about Sherman being unable to drop his feelings over the Super Bowl loss to New England—and, as Wickersham reported, Sherman’s feelings that the coaching staff was too soft on Russell Wilson. Sherman, according to Wickersham, also boiled over one day in practice after the Super Bowl loss, cursing at Wilson.

“Did you see me out there today?” Sherman told me after a feisty practice in pads. “I was saying a lot worse things out there than they [ESPN] had me saying!”

Perhaps. But with the decibel level so high at practice, the only thing you can hear other than the music is … well, nothing. You cannot hear a thing out here. And maybe that’s the way Pete Carroll wants it, so we can’t hear what Sherman is saying out here to Wilson, and, on this day, to wideout and longtime friend from Stanford Doug Baldwin.

“We practice at a level where we always want to restrain ourselves,” said Carroll.

“We always want to go to that edge, and look over that edge, and almost tip over that edge, and come so close that you almost fall over,” Wilson said. “Because if you don’t go there, you’ll never be great. But we have to be really smart too.”

Seattle Seahawks Get Chippy in Practice Befitting Their Competitive Culture

I’m not a big fan of fighting at training camp. I’ve seen a lot of fights over the years. When I covered the Giants in the ’80s, I saw two teammates on the defensive line, Eric Dorsey and Erik Howard, fight so violently that helmets got swung in the direction of bare heads. And skirmishes are going to happen at training camp. I get that Carroll likes a feisty practice. But I don’t get the encouragement to go to that edge and peer over the side. How can a Frank Clark or a Thomas Rawls, two young guys trying to earn their spurs, control themselves when the tenor of practice gets so hot? They couldn’t the other day.

Everything’s great when you win—and that’s the case here too. But there is no team in the NFL with a tougher road slate early than Seattle. And keep in mind there is no normal or easy roadie for this team; everything’s more than 1,000 miles, seemingly. In the first six games, Seattle plays at Green Bay, at Tennessee, at Oakland, and at the Giants. Sherman didn’t take adversity well last year, barking at offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell during a game with the nation watching. And he was dangled in trade talks before the draft; he’s back this year, in large part, because no team would pay two high draft choices for him.

So this is a big year for this franchise. Those in the crosshairs don’t seem bothered by what the outside world thinks.

“We’re only bothered by things that can affect us,” Wilson said. “It’s all love here.”

Image placeholder title

LookieHere—It’s Brian Hoyer

The 49ers are the seventh NFL team in nine seasons for quarterback Brian Hoyer.

The 49ers are the seventh NFL team in nine seasons for quarterback Brian Hoyer.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Do you remember Brian Hoyer’s pitiable show in the 2015 wild-card game for Houston? That’s not exaggerating. His zero-TD, four-interception nightmare in the 30-0 loss to Kansas City (it was over after 22 minutes) was just that. You felt sorry for Hoyer, he was so awful. Five straight first-half drives ended: pick, Hoyer fumble, punt, pick, pick. The Texans, desperate to move on from Hoyer in 2016, vastly overpaid for Brock Osweiler, and you know how that turned out.

Hoyer landed in Chicago to back up Jay Cutler, and he was actually pretty good in the six games he played: 67 percent passing, six touchdowns, no interceptions. Among quarterbacks who threw at least 200 passes last year (Hoyer threw exactly 200), he was seventh in the league with a 98.0 rating. His former coach from Cleveland in 2014, Kyle Shanahan, thought enough of Hoyer to bring him to San Francisco as a bridge to the future this offseason, and so there he was Wednesday at practice, firing a 20-yard strike up the seam to fellow first-year Niner Pierre Garçon at practice. Hoyer is the likely starter, with Matt Barkley the backup.

San Francisco 49ers Preview: 10 Things You Need To Know

Hoyer, I thought, was cooked after that playoff game. But he saved himself last season, and he has a chance this year—nothing’s certain, but Shanahan’s quarterbacks often put up killer numbers in his system. Hoyer went on a riff with me post-practice about why he’s still standing.

“For me, I have handled a lot of adversity,” Hoyer said in a quiet room under Levi’s Stadium. “Not getting drafted, getting cut, having a bad playoff game. I think you respond the same way you do always: You pick yourself back up. My dad always used to tell me growing up, when it was a big deal to lose a baseball game, the sun is going to come up tomorrow. So that night after the loss to the Chiefs, the sun came up the next day. Then I ended up in Chicago. I think I played really well.

“There is a way to go on this roller coaster of the NFL and deal with the highs and deal with the lows and try to stay right in the middle. It's okay to be upset or hurt and then pick yourself back up and attack. What else are you going to do? As I got further and further away from that playoff game, I realized it was just an anomaly. I never had a game in my entire life that I played that bad. But it was just one day. One day. And I was not going to let that day define me as a player or as a person.”

Good lesson in football, and in life.

Image placeholder title

Three camp scenes from The MMQB Team

Christian Hackenberg is trying to win the Jets’ starting quarterback job during training camp and the preseason.

Christian Hackenberg is trying to win the Jets’ starting quarterback job during training camp and the preseason.

While I’ve been out west for the first two weeks of training camp, The MMQBhas dispatched other staffers east of the Mississippi. Three things they’ve seen that will educate you a bit:

• FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (New York Jets), Monday, from Tim Rohan: On Monday at Jets’ camp, Christian Hackenberg was having trouble just breaking the huddle correctly. During one rep in seven-on-seven drills, as he approached the line of scrimmage, a coach ordered him to re-huddle. When he broke the huddle again—in the wrong fashion for a second time—he was ordered off the field. No one expects the Jets to contend this season, but at some point, they will have to decide whether Hackenberg is the answer at quarterback, a decision that could affect their 2018 draft plans and their franchise for years to come. So for now, all eyes are on him. The next time Hackenberg took the field, he broke the huddle correctly and threaded a pass about 20 yards downfield for a completion. That kind of resilience will serve him well, if he wants to be the Jets’ long-term quarterback answer.

The New York Jets Are Playing on a Full Tank

• PITTSFORD, N.Y. (Buffalo), Wednesday, from Kalyn Kahler:Sometimes watching the sidelines can be more interesting than watching the action on the practice field. While at Bills practice, I was distracted by defensive linemen Jerry Hughes and Shaq Lawson, standing just a few feet away from me on the sideline. The two defensive ends were working on pass rush techniques with defensive line coach Mike Waufle. The coach had Hughes and Lawson drill their club moves with slowed-down timing. With each repetition of the punching motion, Waufle sped it up, instructing Hughes and Lawson to eliminate any wasted time. “It’s all about the milliseconds!” Waufle shouted over the DJ’s music piped into practice. It was fascinating to watch players take a common pass rush move and put it under a microscope.

Sammy Watkins Is Done Talking; He's Ready to Play

• RICHMOND, Va. (Washington), Sunday, from Jenny Vrentas: The practice field was baking under the late-morning sun, but after Washington’s walkthrough on Sunday, not everyone retreated inside the team’s training facility for some shade. For a full 30 minutes, five young offensive linemen—all with a season or less of NFL experience—stayed out on the field with a stand-up blocking dummy and position coach Bill Callahan. They rolled through different techniques during the session. Sometimes, they went up against each other; other times, assistant offensive line coach Kevin Carberry would demonstrate a specific technique against the blocking dummy, and they’d line up to mimic his hand and foot movements. A major part of Washington’s offensive success the past two seasons has been strong play up front, and that includes both versatility and depth at that part of the roster. Success on offense starts up front, and while none of the players who lingered on the field are pegged for a starting role this season, this is the kind of behind-the-scenes, extra work that readies them in case they are called upon to do more.

Image placeholder title

32 Teams, 32 Tattoos

mmqb-tats.jpg

If you go to The MMQB’s Instagram account, you’ll see a fun training-camp series we’re doing. We’re finding a player in each training camp to show us his favorite tattoo, and explain why he got it. From the lion on Dak Prescott’s left shoulder to Marilyn Monroe on Rodger Saffold’s left forearm (I am not lying), you’ll see and read about 32 pretty interesting stories.

I did a bonus one in Dallas, to give you an idea of what we’re aiming. Rookie wideout Ryan Switzer has the word “Believe” indelibly inked on the inside of his lower lip. (Bet that felt good.)

Switzer on why: “I had just turned 18. My mom does not like tattoos, and I wasn’t a very rebellious kid, sort of always on the straight and narrow, but I wanted to get one and not make her too mad. So I got a tattoo on the inside of my lip. How did she find out? Well, as any kid would, I told a few of my buddies about it. I showed them. They told their parents. And so I was out with my mom eating dinner one night and one of those parents comes up and says, ‘Let me see your tattoo!’ Right in front of my mom. She wasn’t too happy. It was tough sledding for me for a while. What does she think now? Well, she loves her baby boy. So I think she’s forgiven me.”

Image placeholder title

Quotes of the Week

Deshaun Watson continues to make a positive impression on his Texans coaches and teammates.

Deshaun Watson continues to make a positive impression on his Texans coaches and teammates.

I

“Deshaun is ahead of any rookie quarterback I’ve ever been around.”

—Houston coach Bill O’Brien, on first-round quarterback Deshaun Watson, after his fourth training-camp practice.

II

“We played up at Buffalo, and we couldn't fly back into Boston because the weather was so bad, so we had to stay the night in Rochester. We drove there, and we all decided we'd go out to dinner together. Tom being who he was, he usually couldn't come to a team event like that. We might be at Capital Grille and he is sneaking in the back door and then people realize he's there and he has to leave. But this was impromptu at Dinosaur Bar-B-Q in Rochester. The whole team is there. And it turns into a beer-chugging contest. You have linemen, Julian Edelman, they all think they are going to win. Then someone says, 'I heard Tom is really great at chugging a beer.' We don't usually get to experience him like this, but we finally coax him into doing it. He does it, and let me tell you, you couldn't have poured out the beer faster into a glass. It was unbelievable. And he slams the mug on the table and puts both fists in the air. He walks away with a look on his face that said, 'You really thought you were going to beat me on this?' The place went nuts.”

—Former Tom Brady teammate Brian Hoyer on the occasion of Brady’s 40th birthday last Thursday, in a cool collection of tales by ESPN’s Mike Reiss.

III

“I was young and dumb.”

—Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant, who was suspended for the 2016 season for substance-abuse violations, on what led to his problems, to Jacob Feldman of Sports Illustrated.

The Steelers can only hope the use of the word “was” stays in play for the historically troubled Bryant.

Image placeholder title

Hall of Fame Quotes of the Week

I

“I had a good talk with Dan [Snyder] last night. I know I didn’t give you much—two and a half sacks. Stole a lot of money from you, but I appreciate it. Hey, I’m just being honest with you, all right?”

—Jason Taylor, who actually had 3.5 sacks in his abbreviated Washington tenure.

II

“Football found me. Football rescued me.”

—Jason Taylor, on the effect football had on him in high school.

III

“I wanted someone that could get it done to be our coach. I wanted Jimmy Johnson. I said he'd be worth five first-round draft choices or five Heisman Trophy winners. Of course, I sure did get laughed out of town when I said it. It was my first experience as an owner and general manager making a difficult and very unpopular decision. Jimmy, it was a great decision. You were a great teammate, you were a great partner. To the contrary of popular belief, we worked so well together for five years and restored the Cowboys' credibility with our fans. We were back-to-back [Super Bowl champions], we were driven, we had thick skin, we took all the criticism they could dish out. I thank you."

—Jerry Jones, with the olive branch to Jimmy Johnson in his speech.

IV

“Trent Green: Our paths crossed in the most incredible of ways, and I acknowledge, you could easily be the one standing up here tonight. But the class that you showed while dealing with the toughest of situations is etched in my mind. Your willingness to share your football secrets so I could succeed was incredibly valuable. But the character displayed and the way you modeled the definition of teammate was priceless. Those lessons followed me the rest of my career. Thanks for sharpening my character with your own.”

—Kurt Warner, to the man whose season-ending knee injury opened the door for Warner in St. Louis in 1999.

V

“Good evening, Canton, Ohio. Good morning, Denmark.”

—Morten Andersen, whose speech began in his native country after 2 a.m. Denmark time.

VI

“I can’t lie. We’re all scared. We’re concerned because we don’t know what the future holds.”

—Terrell Davis, to Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post, on the specter of CTE following players into retirement.

Hall of Fame 2017: The Terrell Davis Effect

Image placeholder title

Hall of Fame Rant of the Week

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.

If I know David Baker and Joe Horrigan, the two men most in charge of Hall of Fame weekend, they had to be sitting there in Tom Benson Stadium at 11:40 Saturday night thinking: We have to lasso this ceremony. We can’t have five-hour ceremonies anymore.

If they are not thinking that, they should be. I enjoyed the speeches, sitting in a Kansas City hotel for much of them on Saturday evening. But my Lord: 37 minutes for Jerry Jones (enjoyable though it was), 33 minutes for Kurt Warner, 32 for Jason Taylor. With his talk winding down, Kenny Easley (22 minutes) said, at first inexplicably: “Blah blah blah, blah blah blah. My teleprompter just went off. So I have to cut it short.” No one mourned.

This is a sensitive thing, because—as I’m sure Jones thought—how can I encapsulate my life in football without going point by point, big moment by big moment, and telling great stories along the way? But if everyone goes microscopically through his life in the game, then seven men are going to take five hours to do the show. Does anyone except seven families want a five-hour Hall of Fame show?

Here’s the most sensible way to do it: Figure a time. Say, 22 minutes. Each person has his speech written out, and practiced, anyway. Tell each new Hall of Famer he’s got 22 minutes, and at the 23-minute mark, NFL Network’s going to commercial. At the 24-minute mark, the teleprompter is shut off. Something’s got to be done. I enjoy a good speech as much as the next football follower, and there were some gems Saturday night. But this cannot drone on for five hours. It’s just too much.

Image placeholder title

Stat of the Week

Enough, please, of this narrative: Now that Terrell Davis parlayed three supernova seasons into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, let’s get a campaign going for Priest Holmes.

Apples, pomegranates.

In the regular season, the three great seasons of the two men are wholly comparable, and Holmes even has an edge: 6,566 yards from scrimmage from Holmes in 2001-03, as opposed to 6,010 for Davis in 1996-98.

But Davis never would have made the Hall of Fame without his playoff résumé in those three seasons, particularly his seven 100-yard performances in seven postseason games in 1997 and 1998, an unprecedented run of rushing success that almost certainly will never be repeated. Davis is the best playoff running back of all time, averaging 142.5 yards per game. Comparing Davis and Holmes in the postseason:

RB

Playoff Years

G

100-Yard Performances

Att.

Yards

Avg.

Rush TDs

Davis

1996-98

8

7

204

1,140

5.6

12

Holmes

2000-03

5

1

42

221

5.3

2

Image placeholder title

Factoid That May Interest Only Me

Unsure if you’re in Green Bay? The signs will let you know.

Unsure if you’re in Green Bay? The signs will let you know.

I

Every day for practice, Packers coach Mike McCarthy drives from his parking spot at the stadium named after Curly Lambeau, drives across the street to Ray Nitschke Field at the practice facility known as the Don Hutson Center. To get there, he drives on Mike McCarthy Way. If Mike McCarthy kept driving on Mike McCarthy Way one block past Ray Nitschke Field at the Don Hutson Center, he’d come to a stoplight at Mike Holmgren Way, just down the street from Brett Favre Pass and Reggie White Way.

Green Bay.

II

Kade Warner, son of Kurt and Brenda, is a preferred walk-on wide receiver at the University of Nebraska.

Good Morning, Coach Warner

Image placeholder title

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Notes

Scenes from the road:

• Napa, Calif., Monday, 10:05 a.m.: The Raiders have been holding training camp at the Napa Marriott for 22 summers. I have come here maybe eight or 10 times over the years. Usually you pull into the parking lot of the hotel, pick out a nice spot near the front door, park, walk in and find the PR staff to get a media credential and start the day. No parking available on this day. Nothing. Security for a back lot. Nothing there. So I parked in a BART commuter lot across and down the street. Once in the lobby, I saw it was teeming with fans eating and waiting for practice to begin—scores of them, most in beer-and-eggs-for-breakfast mode. This is what happens when your team gets good. Camp gets swarmed.

• Renton, Wash., Tuesday, 8:20 a.m.: A female barista behind the counter at the Seahawks’ home Starbucks—just across the I-405 overpass from their training facility—is working the morning shift with a Marshawn Lynch 24 replica Seahawks jersey.

“Gone but not forgotten, huh?” I say.

NEVER forgotten,” she said. “I’ll be rooting for him in Oakland.”

• Renton, Tuesday, 1:50 p.m.: The obligatory Turf The Dog photo:

Most unique camp in the league. Turf is the team dog, lives out here on the practice fields, and has his own Twitter account. The chocolate lab’s a hefty guy. Later in the day I look out a window on the second floor of the Seahawks’ facility, and there’s Turf, sprinting toward a sprinkler, running through the jetting water, then turning back to pirouette in the jet spray, mouth wide open, capturing a drink. Pure joy.

Next to the field, hard by Lake Washington, is a bald eagle nest. Two of them came out during practice today. And there were no boats pulling up on the lake to watch practice, maybe because it was a weekday, but sometimes there are. 

“You didn’t see it today,” Cliff Avril told me, “but sometimes Jimmy Graham flies a seaplane here, lands out in the water, and just walks up here to the facility.”

• Mankato, Minn., Thursday, 2 p.m.: You are going to need to see this old menu. Sixty ounces of beer: $1.20! The proprietor of Jake’s Stadium Pizza, Wally Boyer, has been making pies for the Vikings since 1973.