Quotes of the Week
“If I was a GM in the NFL, I would not take him in the first round of the draft … You’ve got to see the quarterbacks throw the ball live. I’ve never seen a top quarterback in the last 10 years have a bad Pro Day until Teddy Bridgewater. He had no accuracy. The ball came out funny. The arm strength wasn’t there, and it made me question everything I saw on tape because this was live.”
—Mike Mayock, on the Petros and Money Show on AM-570 in Los Angeles (via Pro Football Talk)
“Really cool, right? The U.S. rugby team playing the New Zealand All Blacks. It’s on a Saturday. What happens if it pours rain on Saturday and these huge men playing rugby tear up Soldier Field, and we’ve got a Bears game scheduled for Sunday? That would have been a problem.’’
—NFL senior director of broadcasting Michael North, on one of the many roadblocks to making the 2014 NFL schedule—a rugby match at Soldier Field on Nov. 1 forcing the Bears to abandon their home field in Week 9. The league ended up giving the Bears a bye.
You can read my story about the mysterious making of the NFL schedule, from inside the bunker where it was drawn up by four league experts.
“I’m sure you guys are tired of writing about this. We’re tired of thinking about it. We were ready to [draft] yesterday. So the extra time doesn’t help us. I’m a firm believer in the saying, ‘Study long, study wrong.’ ”
—Bills GM Doug Whaley on Friday, on the NFL moving the draft back two weeks this year from its usual late-April spot on the calendar. Friday was 52 weeks to the day that day two of the 2013 draft was held.
“When is the draft now? I think it’s in September.”
“Well, I’m very confident in what I’ve done. The people who are the critics, they look at all of the negatives. They don’t look at all of the stuff I’ve accomplished. They don’t look at that I’m one of three quarterbacks in the history of the NFL to do certain things. They don’t look at that kind of stuff. They want to find ways to tear me down, but I’m not worried about that. They can say whatever they want. All that matters is what everyone believes in this organization and what I believe in myself. That’s how I go about my business.’’
—Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton, reporting to work last week for the Bengals’ offseason program.
Dalton is beginning to chafe at the perception (reality’s more like it) that he’s been good in the regular season and poor in the post-season. The numbers through three seasons:
“There is no room for Donald Sterling in our league. There is no room for him.”
—LeBron James, after L.A. Clippers owner Sterling was allegedly recorded making racist statements to his girlfriend, which were aired by TMZ
Stat of the Week
Regarding the passing of Earl Morrall on Friday:
Morrall should go down in history as one of the best handful (three, four?) of backup quarterbacks in the 94-season history of the NFL. This stat should prove that: Morrall started 35 regular-season games due to injuries to Johnny Unitas and Bob Griese in Baltimore and Miami between 1968 and 1972. His record in those 35 games: 31-3-1.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
The most amazing factoid I learned Wednesday evening inside the NFL’s “Val Pinchbeck Room,” the secret bunker where four NFL executives make the schedule every year, was not that a game featuring New Zealand’s All Blacks rugby team at Soldier Field in November forced the league keep the Bears out of their stadium that weekend. The odd factoid came from a loose-leaf binder that keeps all sorts of scheduling records. One page contains data on the last year in which a team opened with two straight on the road, closed with two straight on the road, or had a three-game road trip.
Here’s the bizarre factoid: The Packers have not opened a season with two straight road games since 1924.
“Just incredible,’’ said the most veteran of the league’s four schedule-makers, Michael North.
It seems natural that the league would schedule Green Bay consciously at home early so the Packers could avoid as many bone-chilling late games as possible. But lately, the league has embraced tundra games. It’s surprisingly coincidental that the league, even by luck, hasn’t front-loaded road games to increase the chances of a weather game in the five post-Thanksgiving regular-season dates of the Packers.
In 1924, Green Bay opened at Duluth (a 6-3 loss) and at the Chicago Cardinals (a 3-0 loss) before playing its next five games at home in a 29-day span. The Packers finished with four straight road games.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
I found myself in a spot in Rhode Island for a few hours last week that I’d never been before—South Kingstown, on the sea, 45 minutes south of Providence—visiting retired New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride for a story you’ll be seeing this week. Wooded, quiet, close to beaches, not over-developed. What a great smell, a sea smell, even a half-mile in from the water. I realized how many beautiful places (and this certainly was one, a still fairly unspoiled part of New England, a few long spirals from the ocean) we never see in our lives. Wish I could tell you more, but there’s not much to it. In a week of not much travel, that’s the only travel observation I’ve got for you.
Tweets of the Week
Reports: George Clooney engaged. Whew. My marriage has a chance now.
— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) April 27, 2014
.@cjbycookie and I will never go to a Clippers game again as long as Donald Sterling is the owner.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 26, 2014
@cjbycookie is Magic’s wife, Cookie.
I couldn’t play for him
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) April 26, 2014
I’ve always said everything starts at home….unfortunately, so does hate
— Damien Woody (@damienwoody) April 26, 2014
When I have my own site, we’ll do a 2,500-word profile on the lackey who has to keep track of Sterling’s girls’ Instagram accounts.
— Robert Klemko (@RobertKlemko) April 27, 2014
Careful what you wish for.