Quotes of the Week
“It’s my fault.”
—Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, who took the blame for throwing the interception with 2:50 to play and the Cowboys nursing a lead over Green Bay. It was a play coach Jason Garrett said should have been a running play.
“I got the funniest email last night. Did you get it too? Come on, Peter. If you think you’re going to hit me up for $2,500, you’ve got the wrong guy.”
—Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, to The MMQB’s Jenny Vrentas, in the Seahawks’ locker room after the 23-0 win over the Giants.
My email account got hacked, and so I guess all the people I’ve emailed pretty much my whole adult life got an email saying that I was in Spain currently, with a cousin who needs $2,500 for emergency kidney surgery, and could they please send it in a hurry.
And I was so counting on Russell Wilson to help.
“I doubt that any man can come back from this.”
—Michael Irvin, on the NFL Network pregame show Thursday, on the football future of Robert Griffin III after he was benched for the final three games of the season by Washington coach Mike Shanahan.
Retire now, Robert. Just walk away. You were the second player picked in the draft 20 months ago, and you’re just 23 years old, and you led your team to an unexpected playoff berth last season, but you’ve had a lousy, injury-plagued stretch, and Michael Irvin says you can’t come back after a coach sits you for the final three games of a football season.
Elaine Benes says it best about 19 seconds into this clip:
“A hundred and 66 thousand dollars a week to do nothing.”
—ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio, on the luckiest man in the NFL, Josh Freeman, who is making $2 million for 12 weeks of mostly sitting out games, inactive, with Minnesota. Freeman has played in one game since being signed to great fanfare by the Vikings after he was cut by Tampa Bay. And his average pay per week, as Florio said, is $166,667.
Stat of the Week
Not trying to give you Steelers fans a lump of coal so close to Christmas. But this from The MMQB columnist Andrew Brandt: “I don’t think there’s a team in the last three years that’s mortgaged the future as much as the Pittsburgh Steelers.”
At the NFL’s one-day meeting in Dallas last week, the league projected the 2014 salary at $126.3 million, a rise of just over $3 million from this year’s cap. That’s not going to do the Steelers any favors. As their contracts stand now for 2014—according to the underrated site overthecap.com—the Steelers are set to spend two-thirds of their cap on seven players: Ben Roethlisberger ($18.9 million cap number), LaMarr Woodley ($13.6 million), Ike Taylor ($11.9 million), Lawrence Timmons ($11.8 million), Troy Polamalu ($10.9 million), Heath Miller ($9.5 million) and Antonio Brown ($8.5 million).
Is this alarming, to have seven players take up 67.4 percent of your salary cap? I should say so. I calculated the top-seven cap cost for every team in the league, and the Steelers’ situation is the worst. By the numbers:
|Team||Record||Cap cost of top seven players||Percentage of cap||Note|
|Pittsburgh||6-8||$85.1M||67.4%||Cutting Ike Taylor would save $7M|
|Dallas||7-7||$80.6M||63.8%||Miles Austin: an $8.3m anchor|
|St. Louis||6-8||$75.5||59.8%||Finnegan not playing like $10M man|
|Baltimore||7-6||$75.3||59.6%||Flacco only $14.8M of the big number|
|Detroit||7-6||$74.0M||58.6%||Brittle Delmas due $6.5M|
|New Orleans||10-4||$72.7M||57.6%||Cutting Will Smith would save $11.6M|
|Seattle||12-2||$68.8M||54.5%||Cutting Cliff Avril would save $7.0M|
|Houston||2-12||$68.2M||54.0%||Combined cap of Schaub/Foster: $23.0M|
|Arizona||9-5||$67.2M||53.2%||Fitzgerald takes up $18.0M|
|Kansas City||11-3||$65.3M||51.7%||Alex Smith due $7.5M, all base salary|
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
One of the things I learned in my recent foray into officialdom (the three-part series can be found here) was that each week the 119 NFL officials are required to take a test. The test generally consists of 10 questions on paper and five video questions. I was curious about it, and I asked the head linesman on Gene Steratore’s crew, Wayne Mackie, to educate me. So we took out the test and went to question No. 1, “2013 Regular Season Week 10 Test: FG/PAT.”
Here is the exact question:
“A 4-2 on B24. With 0:03 remaining in the 4th quarter, Team A is behind 17-14. They line up for a field-goal attempt from the B31 and the kick is good. At the snap B7 who was on the line of scrimmage pushed B8 into LG A5. Time expired on the play.”
It’s 4th-and-2 o on the opponents’ 24. Team A attempts a field-goal from the 31, and at the snap, one opponent pushed another opponent into the left guard on the line of scrimmage. The kick is good. Tie game, 17-all.
So what is the call, I asked Mackie.
Said Mackie: “B pushes another player into the offensive player. This year, that is a foul. That is a 15-yard foul, a la Bill Belichick in that New England game against the Jets. Two things happen in that play. The field goal was good. So, you have an option, as the offense. You can keep the three points for the field goal, tie the game up as you go into overtime. Or, you can take the penalty for 15 yards since you’re at the 24, you go half the distance to the 12, and it’s a first down, but it’s an extension because time ran out on the play. One untimed down. If you want to try to win the game you can do that, take that chance, because you are closer to the goal line. I don’t know why you would want to do that. If I’m on the 1 or 2, maybe. But the 12? I doubt it. If it happened with 12 minutes left, let’s say, I’ll tell you right now, they’ll take those three points on the board. You’re going 1st-and-10 from the 12.”
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
I went nowhere this week. Could I have a week off from this item in the column? No? Well then, let’s dig into the vault of good travel notes. How about this one, from July 26, 2010. It’s the note that was responsible for changing the name of this specific part of the column:
The Westin Hotel/Michigan Avenue in Chicago has long been a hotel of choice for me, because of its proximity to everything in such a great city. Last week, on my last travel leg of vacation, it was also the scene of something I never could have expected: an argument that, in 10 seconds, almost escalated into a hotel-lobby brawl.
There are three elevators in the lobby of the Westin, and at rush-hour check-in last Tuesday, two were out of service. So when my wife and I got to the bank of elevators around 6 p.m., there were 15 or so people waiting for the one working lift. We waited two, three, four minutes. Now there were 25 or 30 people waiting. And then a 35ish man wedged in to the left of the crowd waiting for the elevator. He looked at the line of people and looked peeved. We all were, of course. Then the door opened and 10 or 12 people came off the one working elevator. And the 35ish man took three quick steps to the elevator.
“Hey, hey, hey,” I said. “Come on, buddy. That’s not right.”
The guy stopped. He looked at me. Angry. “Don’t tell me what to do,” he snarled. “I wasn’t going on.”
“Yes you were,” I said. “I saw what you were doing. That’s not right.”
He took a couple of steps toward me.
“I’m a Starwood Preferred member,” he said angrily.
Like that made cutting the line okay.
“You’re also an a——,” I said.
I obviously shouldn’t have said that, but he deserved it. Now he walked the final three steps toward me. “You wanna step outside?” Mr. Starwood Preferred said. He bumped my chest hard. “People who use that word are looking for a fight,” Mr. Starwood Preferred said. “People who use that word to me, I go outside with. You wanna go outside?”
Now the elevator was full, and the door closed.
“No, I don’t,” I said.
He was breathing hard on me. “You’re a big talker,” he said, stepping back a step or two.
“And you’re still an a——,” I said. Oh, so clever.
He stepped toward me again. Almost simultaneously, a front-desk gal near the bank of elevators chirped, “I can take a few people up the service elevator!” So my wife sidestepped the guy. I walked toward the door, me staring at Mr. Starwood Preferred the whole way. “— you, ————,” Mr. Starwood Preferred hissed at me.
“Have a nice day,” I said, and boarded the service elevator.
I don’t know exactly why—it’s not testosterone, I don’t think—but I almost wish Mr. Starwood Preferred had taken a swing at me. Even if he’d pummeled me (and he may well have), he’d have known that at least one person out of 30 sniffed out the real idiot in the crowd. Then again, I like my nose unbroken.
Tweets of the Week
“I just told my kids time for bed. They are ignoring me like I am the cowboys defense.”
—@dkaplanSBJ, Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal, after the Cowboys gave up 34 points in the second half to Green Bay and lost 37-36.
“This is the worst loss I’ve seen and I have been covering the Cowboys since 1997.”
—@clarencehilljr, the longtime Fort Worth Star-Telegram Cowboys beat man, after the Packers came from way back to beat Dallas in Arlington on Sunday.
” ‘It’s so unlike Tony Romo to throw an interception at the end of the game.’
—@FrankCaliendo, the professional funnyman.
“It’s Dec. 12 and every one of the 53 players on the #Eagles’ roster is at practice with a helmet on. #sportsscience”
—@GeoffMosherCSN, ComcastSportsNet reporter Geoff Mosher, from Eagles practice on Thursday.
I am starting to believe in all this new health stuff—the drinks, the different practice modes and days—that Chip Kelly brought from Oregon. This good health might be a coincidence. It might not be.
“So, Juan Uribe and Nick Saban just inked deals for the same amount per year…”
—@jimabbottum31, former Angel and Yankee left-hander Jim Abbott.
Do the math: Uribe, two years and $15 million with the Dodgers, on Saturday; Saban, an estimated $7 million per year through 2020 with Alabama, on Friday.