Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think there are more than four active players who have at one time this offseason considered coming out of the closet. I’d still predict that none will come out this year, but it’s only a matter of time before the NFL has its own Jason Collins.
2. I think the birth of the week in the NFL (you mean someone actually keeps track of such things?) is Kamryn Olivia Buchler, six pounds, two ounces, born Wednesday at 9:58 p.m. PT in Los Angeles to parents Amber Theoharis and Todd Buchler. And here’s the rest of the story: Theoharis was due to have her second child by C-section Aug. 12, and so she arranged with her NFL Network bosses that this past Friday, July 19, would be her last day at work. Theoharis is an NFL Total Access host (that’s NFLNet’s nightly news wrapup show, airing from 7-8 ET, 4-5 PT). Wednesday was a normal day. Theoharis wrote her script for the show, had her makeup put on, and walked out to the set at about 3:55 p.m. That’s when she began feeling queasy.
“I’m not feeling great,” she told set partners Willie McGinest and Warren Sapp. During the first long break in the show, around 4:15 PT, she texted her friend, senior coordinating producer Ronit Larone, and said she was having the same feeling she had when she gave birth to her first child, Dylan, two and a half years ago. “I jumped out of my chair,” said Larone, “and got over to the set. Amber was chill. As calm as can be. I said, ‘Come on. Let’s go. And she said, ‘What are you talking about? I’m staying. Todd’s on his way.’ Larone pressed the issue, but Theoharis insisted she could make it through the show—and since her husband wasn’t there yet, and he was the driver, and Theoharis seemed certain—she stayed on the air. Whisked by her husband to the hospital (and still in full makeup), Theoharis found time to text Larone during the drive, “I might not be coming in tomorrow.” That’s because you are going to have a baby tonight, girl. The doctor told her upon arrival: “You’re in labor.” Less than four hours later, here came the family’s second child. I’m just wondering if Theoharis can teach a Concentration 101 class.
3. I think Chip Kelly-to-Philadelphia is the most compelling migration from college to the NFL since Jimmy Johnson-to-Dallas in 1989.
4. I think I know what you’re thinking: Wait a minute. What about Spurrier-to-Washington in 2002? Saban-to-Miami in 2005? Good ones, and much-anticipated. But there’s so much mystery around Kelly, from what his crazy-quilt offense might look like to importing a Navy SEAL trainer (Shaun Huls) to whip the players into shape, using everything but drones in the process. Johnson, remember, came to the NFL not only as the very hot college coach, but he had two other things going for him. He was going to play a different defense than any coach ran in the league—emphasis on small and cat-quick. And he was succeeding one of the legendary coaches of all time, Tom Landry, who’d been pushed out. Spurrier’s heart was never in it. Saban? I didn’t have the same feeling as I do about Kelly, maybe because Kelly seemed so more of an innovator than Saban was in college.
5. I think Johnny Manziel can have all the smart, well-spoken and well-handled press conferences he wants. But it’s not the media he has to convince that he’s a hard-working guy who isn’t over-sowing his wild oats. There’s a short list of people he must convince: Cleveland president Joe Banner, GM Mike Lombardi and coach Rob Chudzinski, Jacksonville GM David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley, Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie, and, well, you get the picture. Manziel’s job now will be to not let any more 2:03 a.m. bar photos get on Twitter, and his job next spring will be to convince teams he’s more quarterback than party boy.
6. I think the unimportant part of the Robert Griffin III/readiness story is whether he will be cleared to practice on the first day of camp. There’s really no need for him to be taking every snap, or really any snaps, the first couple of weeks of practice. The important part is that he’d be able to go by about Aug. 15, which I hear he will. I have very little doubt—barring an additional injury at training camp or in a preseason game—that Griffin will be the Washington quarterback 49 nights from now, when Philadelphia comes to D.C. for the Monday-night opener.
7. I think similar questions are being asked in New England about Rob Gronkowski’s readiness in New England; the Patriots have their first practice Friday at 9 a.m. Gronkowski has had five surgeries in the last nine months, and the Patriots will need to see how his back has responded to treatment this week before they can start to predict if he’ll play at the start of the season. The Patriots could choose to place him the Physically Unable to Perform List, and keep him out for the first six weeks of the regular season. They could make him one of the 53 active players entering the season, and simply de-activate him for two, three or four weeks, say, until they feel he’s in satisfactory football shape. Or he could play at the start of the season. I think it’ll be PUP or deactivation for two or three weeks, but no one can know until the teams sees how he feels and responds to physical activity.
8. I think, sometimes, especially in the summer, good football stories can get lost, because, well, a bunch of us who cover the game get lost in the summer before camps open. But this story by Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com is a great example of having a good idea and developing it into a great piece of explanatory journalism. Prisco asked Adrian Peterson to break down his recovery from the ACL injury, and asked him to dissect three running plays. Peterson is very good at opening up about his running style, and he remembers specific pieces of plays the way golfers remember what club they used on the third shot of a par-5 hole three months after it happens. I highly recommend the story. Good job, Pete.
9. I think you wouldn’t think of the Cowboys as a team that’s been totally made over. But from the day Jason Garrett took over as head coach 40 games ago, there’s been a pretty good makeover: Only 17 of the 90 players who began practicing for the new season Sunday were Cowboys when Garrett coached his first game in mid-2010.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. I have found the greatest crime story this side of Whitey Bulger, from the San Francisco Chronicle.
b. I mean, if you’re looking for the easiest story to find in any search engine, use any of the following and you’d find the very, very strange story of a man from San Francisco, Christopher Hall: “Deputy public defender Phoenix Streets,” “bear mace,” “hacky-sack circle,” “extensive combat training,” “aerosol can of bear repellant” and “shirtless neighbor.”
c. My cool, memorable, only-in-New York highlight of the week: We are huge Curb Your Enthusiasm fans, and my wife got us tickets to see the new improv-type movie starring and directed by Jeff Garlin, the agent-to-Larry in Curb. So we went to the movie, Dealin’ With Idiots, about a crazy group of youth baseball parents and crazier coaches. Afterward, we learned when we arrived at the theater, Garlin would be taking questions from the audience about the movie. Fun! The movie is fun, and for those who like unscripted comedy riffing, a la Curb, you should find this one. The ending was a hilarious outtake of a field caretaker trying to measure the distance between the pitching rubber and home plate using an uncooperative tape measure. I have a kind of howling laughter with humor like that. So when Garlin took the stage to talk, the first thing he said was, “Who’s the guy with the tremendous laugh?” I raised my hand. Guilty as charged. Good thing Garlin loved it and didn’t have me thrown out. Someone asked Garlin about a comparison to Bad News Bears, and Garlin pooh-poohed that. Said the movie took 12 days to film, he never looked at dailies or re-shot anything, and had a total budget of $750,000. “I’m no Walter Matthau,” he said of the Bad News Bears star, “but I’m good.”
d. Bonus: I got to meet Garlin and his co-star in the movie, J.B. Smoove, who was on hand. And if you remember the greatest love-advice scene in the history of Curb, you’ll know J.B. Smoove very, very well.
e. Welcome to the Sports Illustrated family, Doug Farrar. We are happy to have you writing football for us. You’re working with a good one in Chris Burke.
f. I give you permission to sign Dustin Pedroia for a ridiculous sum of money, Red Sox.
g. How great was that Mariano Rivera moment in the All-Star Game? Nobody doesn’t like Mariano Rivera.
h. This will be the first time in column history I’ve been nice to the Yankees in two consecutive notes, but it’s damn sad watching Derek Jeter unable to get and stay healthy.
i. I like how aggressive Bud Selig and Michael Weiner are being—at least from a distance—on PEDs in baseball.
j. Yasiel Puig is to outfield debuts what Fernando Valenzuela was to pitching ones.
k. Why Buster Olney rules: He had a stat the other night that David Ortiz, with his 506th career double against the Yankees, tied Babe Ruth on the all-time doubles list.
l. In the TV world I follow, this would qualify as a “Wow”: Keith Olbermann and Nate Silver together on Olbermann’s new ESPN2 show, as the New York Times reports is likely. I’ll be watching that. Silver leaving the New York Times … bummer.
m. Coffeenerdness: Belated thanks to Continental Coffee, the family coffee shop on Commercial Street in Vancouver. The place not only makes a tremendous latte with very strong espresso; the signature atop the foam is a picture of a leaf. So nice you don’t even want to drink it. Next time you’re way out west in Canada, head over to Commercial Drive and give it a spin.
n. Beernerdness: So my favorite white beer, Allagash, of Maine, has had an expansion project up at the brewery in Portland, which is good to hear. The business is growing by about 40% a year. Found it amazing on my Pacific Northwest vacation to have seen it on tap in two different Seattle places. Can’t keep a great beer down.
o. I’m not down on The Newsroom. I want to be clear about that. But I think I’ve figured out why I like Aaron Sorkin’s shows but don’t love them. The dialogue’s too perfect. Ever notice in The Newsroom that one perfect line flows after another, like one character isn’t listening to what the other is saying and is just intent on getting out his/her line, usually in a hurry? But the story’s good, and I’m watching.
p. Speaking of Olivia Munn, she’ll be in The MMQB on Wednesday. No spoilers, though.
q. I could read about the Bulger trial all day. The Boston Globe is doing a fabulous job covering it.
r. RIP, Helen Thomas, an inspiration to anyone who ever wanted to write politics.
s. Golf is foreign to me, but great sporting accomplishments are not. Congrats, Phil Mickelson. A 66 in the clutch at Muirfield? Tremendous.
The Adieu Haiku
Thanks, all, for reading.
You’re the reason this site lives.
Should be a wild ride.