Quotes of the Week
“I was shaking and sweating. There were tears in my eyes. It was really weird. Here was this Heisman Trophy winner, giving me a ball that he scored with.”
Great idea: Scott Fowler of the Observer spent a month searching for kids who’d been gifted a football by the Carolina quarterback after he scored a touchdown. That’s been a Newton tradition since he became an NFL player in 2011; he’s done it between 40 and 50 times. Fowler found 16 of them, including a girl with ADHD and hearing aids who was profoundly inspired by the gift. Fowler gathered them for a photo at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, and Newton surprised them by showing up and spending 30 minutes with them.
It’s really a great read, and a great tradition started by Newton.
“For me, I’m really tired of living and dying with the game. Every game. I’ve tried to turn it off. I’m still trying. I can’t. It sucks. Believe me, it sucks.”
—Tony Gonzalez, who played his last game Sunday against Carolina and is retiring after 17 years (and missing two games) as an NFL tight end, to me in an interview for The MMQB last week.
“It’s a conversation between me and the coaches.”
—Quarterback (we think that’s the position he plays still) Josh Freeman of the Vikings, to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, on why he has been buried on the Minnesota quarterback depth chart for most of the three months he’s been employed by the team.
This is the strangest personnel story of the NFL season. Released by the Bucs in early October, Freeman signs with the Vikings for $2 million for the last 12 games of the season. He plays one game, poorly (37.7 percent completions, 40.6 rating), in a loss to the Giants. He is active for two others but doesn’t play. He is inactive for the other nine, including Sunday’s finale against Detroit. After he played the one game, he did have a concussion, but Freeman has reportedly been ready to play but not used for the last nine weeks.
Nice work if you can get it: One bad football game, 11 on the bench, $2 million.
Freeman will be an intriguing, and mysterious, prospect for some team in 2014: a 26-year-old quarterback with a 4,000-yard season under his belt, left to rot by two bad teams in 2013.
Factoids of the Week That May Interest Only Me
London Fletcher, the 38-year-old middle linebacker for Washington, played what we presume will be his last game Sunday. I say “presume” because he has left the door ajar slightly for a 2014 return for a limited number of games if a team needs a wise old owl in the middle of the defense.
But let’s say Sunday was his last day. Here’s what I find most amazing about Fletcher: Since he turned 30, he has played nine seasons in the NFL—two with Buffalo, seven with Washington. In those nine seasons, his teams played 146 games, 144 in the regular season and two in the playoffs. Fletcher has started all 146 games in his 30s.
That is an amazing fact, considering the beating middle linebackers take from physical tight ends on crossing patterns and from pulling guards and centers who outweigh him by 65 pounds.
We think of Ray Lewis as an ironman, right? Lewis’ Ravens played 142 games in the regular- and post-season after Lewis turned 30. He started 114 of them. Which makes Fletcher’s mark all the more impressive, at least to me.
So you want to be a football coach, eh?
Brian VanGorder is 54 years old. On Saturday, he accepted the 18th different coaching job in a 32-year coaching career. His last decade is the most intriguing:
2004—Defensive coordinator, Georgia.
2005—Linebackers coach, Jacksonville.
2006—Head coach, Georgia Southern.
2007—Linebackers coach, Falcons.
2008-11—Defensive coordinator (new staff), Falcons.
2012—Defensive coordinator, Auburn.
2013—Linebacker coach, Jets.
2014—Defensive coordinator, Notre Dame.
Not really the life for me.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Travel Note of the Week
Holiday time in New York. Tourist season. I was at Grand Central Station the other day, doing a little shopping in the concourse. The place was mobbed. There’s a huge Apple store there, and as I walked by, there was a crowd at the bottom of the stairs leading to the entrance of the store. Logjam. People couldn’t get by. And I looked up to see a line of tourists waiting to take photos with the Apple logo. Sometimes I don’t get America.
Stat of the Week
|W-L||Winning %||Winning % Rank (compared to other seven divisions)||Points For/Against|
|NFC West, 2010||25-39||39.1||8th||-322|
|NFC West, 2013||42-22||65.6||1st||+359|
How the feeble have risen in three short years.
Tweets of the Week
“Never before needed a Heimlich at halftime. (Or any time)! thanks Jesse Palmer! He saved me from death by dry chicken sandwich. Really.”
—@cbfowler, ESPN college football studio host Chris Fowler, after Jesse Palmer Heimliched him at halftime of the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium Saturday.
“My wife says I can’t sit on the furniture, I told her I’m in the Hall of Fame I can lay down on it if I want to.”
—@criscarter80, indeed a Hall of Fame player.
“Are these the same kids who can barely wake up for school?”
—@Hasselbeck, Indianapolis quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, tweeting at 5:40 a.m. on Christmas morning, presumably when his three children were tearing about the house like banshees, opening every wrapped item with reckless abandon.
“@PaulKuharskyNFL no I’m sayin yu got a smart mouth Only wen it come to this twitter thing. Matter of fact, let go for dinner. Talk like men.”
—@KennyBritt_18, the Tennessee wide receiver, asking longtime Titans beat man Paul Kuharsky out for dinner, so they could discuss why Kuharsky has been critical of Britt.
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