Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think Arizona will take a quarterback in the first two rounds.
2. I think the Rams will take a quarterback in the first three rounds.
3. I think you shouldn’t be surprised at that last one. Has Sam Bradford done enough to be untouchable in his four seasons with the Rams (18-30-1 record, 58.6 completion percentage, 6.3 yards per attempt)? I don’t think so.
4. I think Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray helped himself Wednesday, showing good mobility and the passable arm strength NFL teams expected when he worked out in Athens, Ga., less than five months after he tore his ACL. Murray wore a brace on his surgically repaired left knee at Georgia’s Pro Day. “I think I showed these teams they don’t have to worry about my knee, they don’t have to worry about someone who’s not going to be able to participate in the preseason,’’ Murray said. Time, and some pre-draft physicals, will tell. But Murray looks like a Day 2 pick.
5. I think I chuckle when the Lions say they are not concerned about Ndamukong Suh skipping Detroit’s off-season workout program as he tries to work out a new contract with the team. It is 111 days since the season ended and Suh was last with his team. The Lions have a new coach, and a new defensive coordinator, and a new defensive line coach. Suh is the best player on the defense. Not concerned? The correct quote, if club president Tom Lewand were on truth serum, would be something like, Pretty lousy start to our off-season program when our best defensive player’s a no-show—particularly when he’s the guy who most has to buy into the new staff since he’s going to be the highest-paid defensive player in our history. Yeah, we’re ticked off. Wouldn’t you be?
6. I think my Beat Writer of the Week is Mike Klis of the Denver Post. The controversy over Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase and quarterback Peyton Manning both being in Tuscaloosa the other day talking to the Alabama coaching staff raised a stink because coaches and their players cannot be working together in any form until the start of the official off-season program (which, for Denver, begins today). So Nick Saban mentioned that Gase and Manning were on campus, and if they were researching or working together on anything, it would be a violation of the collective bargaining agreement. Klis called the Alabama sports information office and requested an interview with Saban to clarify what happened. He was told he’d be hearing from Saban, from a “BLOCKED” phone. But now it was Friday night, and Klis had another assignment—his weekly umping job. He was in the first game of a slow-pitch softball tripleheader in the Golden, Colo., men’s rec league near his home Friday night, doing a game between—and I love this matchup—the Alcoballics and the Sons Of Pitches. (Why didn’t any of us think of those names for our softball teams?) A batter had just singled, and Klis felt his phone vibrate. He called time. The screen on the phone said, “BLOCKED.” It was Saban. He asked Saban to hold on a sec, and he told the two teams he had a call he had to take. “Sorry, guys,’’ Klis said, and he went behind the backstop and talked to Saban for seven minutes. Saban told him he didn’t talk to Gase; Gase had family not far from there, and he just came by to talk to his assistant. He said he did talk to Manning. So Klis thanked him, went back and finished that game, and then dictated a chunk of a story plus quotes to his fellow Postie, Troy Renck, in his first week on the job after years of covering the Rockies. “That’s a welcome-to-the-Broncos-beat moment,’’ Klis said. Renck got the story up. Then Klis worked the last two games and hustled home to make adds to the story. “It was one of those situations that just happens sometimes in the job when you’re trying to live your life,’’ Klis told me Saturday. “I can’t exactly say to Nick Saban, ‘Hey Nick, can you call me between games?’”
7. I think, absent of much more proof that Manning and Gase planned a trip to Tuscaloosa together and met there to discuss anything, I doubt the league will sanction the Broncos over this. But if I’m John Elway or John Fox, I’m telling my coaches and players, “Let’s not have any more coincidences about being in the same place hundreds of miles away at the same time in the off-season.”
8. I think that’s a cool honor that John Harbaugh got Saturday, being immortalized with a bronze statue at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He’s the ninth coach to be so honored among football men in the aptly named Cradle of Coaches. Good company in the Miami Cradle of Coaches: Paul Brown, Red Blaik, Carm Cozza, Paul Dietzel, Weeb Ewbank, Ara Parseghian, John Pont, Bo Schembechler. “This cradle is the greatest honor in coaching, if you understand what it’s all about,’’ Harbaugh told Joe Kay of the Associated Press.
9. I think the draft should be Thursday, not two weeks from Thursday.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. My very best to my friend Jenn Aparicio, the wife of Baltimore radio personality Nestor Aparicio. Jenn has a rare form of leukemia. “This is heavy lifting,’’ Nestor says. Jenn is one tough person, and an extremely optimistic, bright one. Her story is on Facebook, at #JennStrong.
b. Story of the week: Jesse Katz in Los Angeles Magazine, on the harrowing journey of Yasiel Puig from Cuba to Dodger Stadium. A terrific and vivid account that I highly recommend.
c. Great note on the FOX baseball telecast Saturday: The Angels have not been over .500 since opening day 2013. That is amazingly preposterous.
d. Not a big fan of Major League Baseball making the Red Sox and Orioles play Sunday night baseball, with the annual Patriots Day 11:05 a.m. start this morning at Fenway featuring the same two bleary-eyed teams.
e. I’ve always felt the biggest thing wrong with the NBA, from very much an outsider’s perspective, is how bad teams embrace losing so it will help them rebuild. And when I read the Philadelphia 76ers owner, Josh Harris, tell USA Today after the team finished 19-63 this season, “I think the season has been a huge success for us,’’ there aren’t many other ways to spin that. The 76ers used this year to get into the best situation for the future, which involved clearing out the roster and losing as much as possible to be in the best draft position in 2014. Imagine being a Sixers fan, knowing your team hopes it doesn’t win many games, and asking you to pay regular prices for tickets to see a bad team.
f. Great line by a sprung prisoner, Jonathan Fleming, to the New York Post, after being freed from prison when evidence surfaced he’s been falsely imprisoned for 25 years for murder. He had a coffee. Starbucks. Latte. “Which kind am I drinking?’’ Fleming said to the Post. “Latte? Much better than Tasters Choice and cream. Much better. It’s real good. My first time ever at Starbucks. Coffee was like 40 cents when I first went to prison.” Good news: The coffee’s better. Bad news: It’s not 40 cents anymore.
g. Mark Buehrle, Toronto: 4-0, 0.65 ERA on April 21. Yeah, we saw that coming.
h. Who’s going to start the Giancarlo-to-Boston-for-young-pitching rumors?
i. Please learn to run the bases, Mike Carp. Please.
j. Coffeenerdness: Memo to Starbucks: If you care about quality, please address the situation at your BWI Airport locations. You’ve got some very long lines there, if a couple of stops last week are any indication.
k. Beernerdness: I have found it—the beer in the world that’s closest to the refreshing and hooray-it’s-spring taste of Allagash White. I found it in the Minneapolis airport the other night: Lift Bridge Farm Girl Saison, from the Lift Bridge Brewing Company in Stillwater, Minn. (And kudos for the airport bars at this great north hub, for having so many Minnesota microbrews and brews.) Light and refreshing and full of taste, “ale brewed with orange peel” as the label says, and worth your effort to find it.
l. One of the great sports TV shows I’ve seen was the “Hillsborough” ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on the 25-year anniversary of the English soccer tragedy when 96 fans died in a soccer-stadium stampede. Vivid and chilling and heartbreaking—and rewarding at the end. A tremendous piece of journalism on TV.
m. Shouldn’t ESPN’s “Sports Reporters” show be called “Sports Columnists?”
n. You’ve still got it, “Veep.”
The Adieu Haiku
Hey Mel! Mel Kiper!
I miss my “Draft Report” book.
Bring it back next year.