Quotes of the Week
“We’re at a very strange time. We know there’s a problem. We’ve identified a problem. But we don’t have many answers. So it’s a really uncomfortable time knowing a little but not knowing enough.”
—Dr. Ann McKee, who has studied 46 deceased former NFL players’ brains and found evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy—a crippling brain disease—in 45, at a speech Thursday night at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. The remarks were reported by the Birmingham News.
McKee, one of the medical stars of the PBS documentary League of Denial, is in my opinion a hero of this movement for pushing for more answers, and more studies of how football affects the brain. As she told the News: “It’s very inconvenient. This is a big problem. It’s not something you can easily solve. It’s going to make your life much more complicated if you’re involved in sports at all. It definitely has huge financial repercussions. And sometimes it’s hard to change people’s minds.”
“Rob is going to know when he wants to play, and Rob loves the game of football. When Rob wants to play, when Rob can play, he’ll play. No one here questions Rob’s desire about the game, about his passion for the game, and wanting to play the game of football.”
—Patriots president Jonathan Kraft, on the strange case of tight end Rob Gronkowski’s injured forearm, to radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston.
—Houston linebacker Brian Cushing, opining on the Texans fans cheering at a time when embattled quarterback Matt Schaub was laying on the field at Reliant Stadium with an ankle injury Sunday.
“Never say never because then you become a hypocrite. I’ve seen too many other people in my profession say never and come back. Always keep doors open in life. That’s the important thing to do.”
—CBS NFL analyst Bill Cowher, to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, on his self-imposed exile from coaching, and his chances of returning to it now that he has a cushy job in TV and as a commercial spokesman.
I don’t doubt a lucrative offer with the right team could tempt Cowher, but he’s been out six years and nine months now. The earliest he could re-take a job, 2014, would be eight seasons after he last coached. That’s an awful long time to be out of the game—to have seen all your assistant coaches from the Steelers years scatter with the wind, and to be accustomed to a totally different lifestyle than the all-consuming one a head coach experiences.
“It’s going to be a long road.”
—Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, to Derrick Gunn of CSNPhilly.com Saturday, on the rehab from a hamstring injury suffered last week against the Giants. The long road started with a day off at Tampa Bay Sunday, and could continue next week against Dallas at home.
Stat of the Week
Reggie Wayne needs four receptions tonight at San Diego to become the eighth wide receiver in NFL history to catch 1,000 passes. (He’ll be the ninth player overall; tight end Tony Gonzalez has 1,275 receptions.)
Wayne will be inextricably tied to Marvin Harrison in history, and to Peyton Manning. For eight seasons, from 2001 to 2008, they were Manning’s targets in a time of unprecedented regular-season prosperity—91 wins. Harrison played with Manning for 11 years, and Wayne was Manning’s target for 10. Now, while Wayne would appear to be in the twilight of his Colts career with wunderkind Andrew Luck, don’t tell him that. In training camp this year he told one Colts operative who asked him how many years he had left, “Infinity.”
But as he approaches 1,000, the most impressive thing to me is his durability. Wayne has played every game since the last one of 2001, his rookie season: 200 in a row, including playoffs. And his production is getting better in his 30s. Wayne turned 30 during his eighth NFL season. So I’ve drawn a line of demarcation between year seven and eight, and here’s how the six years before and six years after that look:
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
In 10 minutes, the Ole Miss quarterback depth chart from a decade ago had a very bad Thursday night.
Ten years ago, Eli Manning was the starting quarterback at Ole Miss and Seth Smith one of his backups. They’ve gone their separate sporting ways since, Manning to the NFL and Smith to major-league baseball. And they’ve had better Thursday nights. Within 10 minutes of each other, Manning threw his third interception of the night at Chicago, dooming the Giants to a 27-21 loss; and Smith made the final out of the American League Division Series against Detroit. The Giants went home 0-6. Smith went home for the winter.
Tweets of the Week
“Bob McNair wasn’t available after the game. I didn’t need him to know he’ll fire Gary Kubiak if Texans continue to embarrass themselves.”
—@McClain_on_NFL, veteran Houston scribe John McClain, referring to the owner (McNair) and coach (Kubiak) of Houston, after the Texans embarrassed themselves at home in an ugly loss to St. Louis.
“Weeden just threw such a careless interception it makes Brett Favre look conservative.”
—@richeisen of NFL Network, after Cleveland QB Brandon Weeden’s second of two interceptions against Detroit.
“Breaking: Jets trade eight first-round picks for Thad Lewis, prepare to unleash ‘WildThad’ offense by 2015”
—SI.com NFL analyst @SI_DougFarrar, after Thad Lewis, on the Bills’ practice squad a week ago, drove the Bills through the Bengals for a first-quarter touchdown.
“Sentences I never thought I’d type: If the Giants go 0-16, I do not think they should take Teddy Bridgewater.’’
—@StevePoliti, columnist for the Newark Star-Ledger.