Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think after getting ripped to shreds on Twitter Friday, and ultimately deleting his Twitter account, maybe Richie Incognito knows how he made Jonathan Martin feel.
2. I think I really hope one team—the Saints or Ravens—challenges the idiotic tight end franchise-tag designation, a $4.8 million difference between the tight end and wide receiver positions. My feeling on this is simple: If Jimmy Graham and Dennis Pitta are drafted as tight ends and used as tight ends and voted to the Pro Bowl as tight ends, then their team’s salary caps should not be punished by having them shown as wide receivers. Being placed in the slot or split wide on multiple occasions per game should not change their designation.
3. I think, if I had to guess, the quarterback Cleveland GM Ray Farmer was referring to when he told Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer he knows which QB he’d take if the draft was today is one of two: Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles. Manziel, obviously, with a very high pick, and maybe Bortles lower if Farmer feels he could safely trade down and still get the Central Florida kid.
4. I think many of you have rightfully asked me, and others who work in NFL locker rooms, how surprised we are about what was in the Wells report, and might think it’s disingenuous for me to say, “I’m surprised.” I am—because, and you need to understand this, the Incognitos and Pounceys aren’t going to show us the truly real world when the doors are open and we walk into the locker room. If they’re not going to show coaches the sometimes vile stuff they do, why would you think they’d be open to be truly real around the media? Now, I know lots of untoward stuff goes on, because it always has, and there’s an Animal House element to every locker room. But I just don’t believe what happened in Miami is common to every NFL locker room.
5. I think Dan LeBatard of the Miami Herald had a great take on why the Dolphins unconditionally supported Incognito and not Martin: “We can all moralize about this now from the outside, choosing sides, but this wasn’t about morality and immorality to the people on the inside. It was about strength and weakness. The players in that locker room think Martin is a soft, whining quitter who caused all this because he wasn’t tough enough for their survival-of-the-fittest workplace.’’
6. I think with the news that Terrell Suggs will commit to a deal to remain a Raven for the rest of his career, we now know who will take the mantle long-term as the heir to Ray Lewis as the Baltimore defensive leader. It should be Suggs. He’s got the respect of his locker room and his coaches to continue the tradition Lewis and Ed Reed made so strong.
7. I think retired standout safety and suspended NFL Network analyst Darren Sharper better have a very good lawyer. A Los Angeles court filing contends he is a suspect in seven alleged rapes in five different cities, and he is alleged to have used drug-laced alcohol to incapacitate the women.
8. I think, with franchise tags able to be used beginning today, I would be stunned if defensive end Greg Hardy isn’t tagged by the Panthers—who have the moderate sum of about $8 million in cap space and will have to shed some contract in order to tag him. But Hardy, 25, is the kind of player teams develop and keep, not develop and let walk.
9. I think the University of Missouri must be a great place these days. A great journalism school, obviously, from the alums who work all over our business … but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the loyalty to Michael Sam. An AP dispatch out of Columbia over the weekend quoted the student body president, Mason Schara, thusly: “The majority of us knew [Sam was gay] and we just didn’t think anything of it because that’s just who we are here.” And a large group of students, hearing there would be a protest Sunday on campus opposing Sam’s declaration, linked arms in solidarity as a protest to the protest. Surely, that respect for Sam has to say something to the NFL teams that will consider whether to draft him in May.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. A fond farewell tour is my hope for Derek Jeter. And that, to him, would mean a 162-game regular season and playing well enough to lead the Yankees deep into the playoffs. As I’ve written, I believe he’s the best all-around baseball player and leader I’ve seen play a complete career. I know his stats don’t say it, and he wasn’t the equal of Ozzie Smith or Omar Vizquel in the field to be sure, but it’s amazing to me how he not only played at such a high level, but led at the highest level as well—and never the hint of a scandal, playing on the team with the highest profile in American professional sports.
b. Johnny Weir is good on TV. I like his analysis, because he’s emotional but also analytical—in plain English—about a sport I know so little about, figure skating.
c. I loved that Russia-USA hockey game, by the way. Hockey is the only game in which guys can leave their pro teams, travel across the globe, and six days later, with precious little practice, play the kind of game at full speed and with abandon that we’ll be talking about for a long time.
d. Hey Pierre McGuire: Great call on the heretofore unknown T.J. Oshie being one of the U.S. shooters in the shootout as everyone debated who would get the call for the Americans.
e. Can someone please explain how Maxwell, the Geico pig with cloven hooves, can get his smartphone to work by pressing the screen with hard cloven hooves instead of with fingers?
f. See the things you think of sitting home and watching the Olympics night after night?
g. Really liked the Al Michaels interview with 1980 Soviet goalie Vladislav Tretiak.
h. “God is saying, ‘Enough skating, Evgeni,’ ” said Evgeni Plushenko, the 31-year-old Russian master of a figure skater. He retired when his back wouldn’t allow him to skate the men’s short program, and he deserves tremendous respect. He’s probably the most recognizable men’s figure skater of the generation.
i. Coffeenerdness: I’ve crossed over to the darker side now. Four shots of espresso in a medium drink at Starbucks now. Someone has to stop me before it’s too late.
j. Beernerdness: Lucky for me, Whole Foods in New York is stocking Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale (Comstock, Mich.), and dating back to the time I was treated to Bell’s Oberon Ale, I’ve got a thing for these Bell’s beers. The Two Hearted Ale, an IPA apparently brewed and bottled just two weeks prior to me tasting it, is sufficiently bitter and extremely tasty. I’ll be back for more.
k. I saw The Monuments Men, and though it had its share of clichéd dialog and scenes, I liked the story a lot. Cate Blanchett’s really good in it.
l. And I read a book: Sycamore Row, by John Grisham. Read it in three days, as is my Grisham custom. It’s not the time of year for a beach book, but let’s call it a Snow Day book. If you’re home on a snow day, you’ll devour this one. As usual with Grisham, all the pieces fit, superbly.
The Adieu Haiku
The combine’s this week.
Hearty welcome, Michael Sam.
Welcome to mayhem.