Let’s Get Real … and Then Talk About Draft Charades

Want a feel-good story amid all the misinformation swirling around the NFL? Saints owner Tom Benson is opening his wallet—widely—to help Steve Gleason achieve a dream. And, yes, the latest draft buzz, including a big trade at No. 1

Allow me several paragraphs before we get into draft news (or, at least, draft rumors about Johnny Manziel and Jadeveon Clowney) and an interview with high pick Khalil Mack. There’s something else of note, something real … and at this time of year, when so much is smoke and mirrors and disguising real intent in advance of the draft, real sounds good to me right now.

New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson is donating $5 million to help former Saints special-teamer Steve Gleason, who now is wheelchair-bound with ALS, and his Team Gleason foundation build and operate Team Gleason House for Innovative Living. The gift, Gleason said, will be used  as an endowment for annual operating expenses for the home. The house, in New Orleans, will allow 18 ALS patients to live fairly close to self-sufficient lives in rooms where the operation of everything will be controlled by patients’ eyes. The home is scheduled to open in June, and Gleason doesn’t want to stop at just one in New Orleans.

“Call me crazy,’’ Gleason said Sunday afternoon, “but I envision a facility like this in every NFL city.”

Gleason actually didn’t “say” this. His ALS has advanced to the point where he cannot move any extremities, and he “types” by focusing his eyes on a computer screen, arduously recording words letter by letter on the laptop.

“This is more than a philanthropic project between Team Gleason and Mr. Benson. This has become a friendship between people—people who are looking creatively at a massive problem and seeking solutions. Let me say that I believe this is an example of how players (ex-players in my case) and NFL organizations can unite to proactively address a problem that has not only affected the NFL, but also tens of thousands of families around the country.”

Former Saint Steve Gleason (center, with coach Sean Payton and ex-teammate Scott Fujita) has made a home in New Orleans. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Former Saint Steve Gleason (center, with coach Sean Payton and ex-teammate Scott Fujita) has made a home in New Orleans. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

I asked Benson what motivated him to make this gift. “Steve is part of our Saints family,” Benson said. “He suffers from a terrible disease, but yet his focus and resolve is centered around finding a cure for ALS and helping others who suffer from ALS live full and prosperous lives—and he is doing that right here in his adopted hometown of New Orleans. We could not be more proud of him and [wife] Michel and Team Gleason.”

Gleason has never blamed football—high school, college or pro—for his condition, even though his kamikaze style of play might have contributed to his diagnosis of ALS. Rather, he has focused on doing something about a cure, appealing to the United Nations two years ago to raise the profile to fight the disease, and going about his daily life as much as possible without limits. His goal is for each NFL franchise to lead the way to building an ALS home in each market. “This gift from Mr. and Mrs. Benson,’’ he said, “will help ensure that the Team Gleason House for innovative living will fully meet patient needs. Most of what ALS takes away, technology can give back. The Team Gleason House actually allows ALS patients to control their environment—computers, TVs, lights, doors, elevators—using just their eyes. This innovative concept allows patients to live very independently without bankrupting their families. This will allow them to collaborate with peers and colleagues to continue whatever their purpose in life may be.”

I’ll be corny for a moment here. There’s something familial about New Orleans that’s different from most cities—maybe every city. Gleason is from Spokane, Wash. He wasn’t a big football hero in New Orleans—though he did make a signature play, blocking a Falcons punt in the first post-Katrina game, which led to a Saints’ upset of Atlanta—but the city loves him like a son. He has made that happen, through the force of his giving nature and because the city feels for him and his family. And because he refuses to be beaten by a disabling malady for which there is no cure. “New Orleans is a unique city,’’ Benson said. “If you love it, it will love you back more than you know.”

Benson has put his wallet behind that love, and he seemed thrilled to do it.

“Steve has this saying: ‘No white flags,’” said Benson. “If someone is going to be behind finding a cure for ALS, it’s going to be Steve Gleason.”

* * *

Ten days and counting, mercifully. Go fast, clock. Scatter-shooting what I know, now that the visitation period between players and teams is over, and the final boards are due to be set league-wide this week—if they’re not set already:

General manager Thomas Dimitroff and the Falcons are entertaining thoughts of moving up in the draft to select Jadeveon Clowney. (Getty Images/2)
General manager Thomas Dimitroff and the Falcons are entertaining thoughts of moving up in the draft to select Jadeveon Clowney. (Getty Images/2)
  • Momentum is gaining for the Atlanta Falcons to move up for Jadeveon Clowney. Not saying it’s going to happen; I’d list the odds at 40 percent. But if the Texans want to trade the No. 1 pick, the Falcons, as of this morning, are their best option. When Clowney visited Atlanta last week, he left a very positive impression with the Falcons’ coaches and brass. I’d heard before that meeting that the Falcons weren’t inclined to entertain thoughts about making such a bold move, from sixth pick in the first round to No. 1 overall. Now they are thinking of it. Let’s look not only at the favorable view of Clowney now, but also at general manager Thomas Dimitroff’s history. In 2011 he was at No. 27 in the first round and wanted to move up to grab wide receiver Julio Jones. It took first-round picks in 2011 and 2012, a second-round pick in 2011, and fourth-round picks in 2011 and 2012—five picks overall—for Atlanta to go from 27 to six to get Jones. This year? To move from six to one, it would likely take Atlanta’s first-rounder this year and next—at least that would be close if you’re using the draft pick-trade chart. (The first overall pick is worth 3,000 points, the sixth 1,600. For an equal swap, the Texans might ask for more than two first-rounders, figuring there’s no way the Falcons will be drafting in the top 10 next year.) If the Texans would be happy to settle for, say, Blake Bortles or Khalil Mack, this would be a pretty good calculated risk to take, with a guaranteed first-rounder next year as the pot of gold for the risk Houston would be taking.
  • There’s a rumor (apparently faulty) making the rounds about the Eagles moving up to try to get Johnny Manziel. I wouldn’t pass it along if the person who told me wasn’t smart and, to this point, reliable. But I just can’t see it, and I have someone who would know better than the rumor source telling me it absolutely won’t happen. Which seems smart to me, seeing that Nick Foles’ 27 touchdowns and two interceptions and 119.2 passer rating would be pretty damned foolish to throw out the window for Manziel. I just put it out there as an example of the kind of stuff that makes the rounds when so much of what happens at this time of year is designed to be a misdirection play. As Bills GM Doug Whaley said Friday, speaking to western New York reporters: “It’s finally one time where we can use you guys [reporters] to our advantage. There are things that you put out there to see if someone bites, and there are some things you put out there that are true. You have people read between the lines and you don’t want to show your hand. I’m sure everyone is doing the same thing.’’
  • If Atlanta can’t get one, they can certainly get to No. 2. St. Louis holds two first-round picks—the second and 13th overall choices—and you should put something close to the mortgage down on the prospect of them trading one or both of them. The regime of GM Les Snead, in the two drafts in which he’s been in charge, has never not traded a first-round pick. In 2012 the Rams entered the draft with the second overall pick. They dealt that pick to Washington, acquiring the sixth and other stuff in return. Then they traded the sixth pick to Dallas for the 14th and other picks. In 2013, the Rams entered he draft with the 16th and 22nd picks in the first round. They traded up from 16 to eight to pick Tavon Austin, and traded down from 22 to 30 and picked Alec Ogletree. That means the Rams, under Snead, have traded their three first-round picks a total of four times. Any questions about their intentions with the two first-rounders on May 8?
“If I had the first pick in the draft,” said an NFL offensive coordinator, “I’d take Manziel.”
  • Manziel stuff. Come to find out that one team, at the NFL scouting combine, spent the entire 15-minute individual interview period with Manziel talking only about his personal life and his run-ins with trouble. When the horn blew to signify he had to go to his next speed-date, Manziel asked team officials and coaches in the room, “Any football questions?” There were none … This, by the way, from one NFL offensive coordinator whose team will not be choosing a quarterback high in this draft: “If I had the first pick in the draft, I’d take Manziel.” …  I absolutely buy Dallas’ interest in Manziel. One: He is Jerry Jones’s kind of guy, and I believe Jones all along has had half an eye on Manziel, particularly if he could get him at a bargain position—say, the middle of the second round. I don’t believe Manziel will make it out of the first round, of course, but Jones could be sorely tempted at No. 16 overall if Manziel were there. Two: Tony Romo turned 34 last Monday, and his back is balky and twice surgically repaired, and Troy Aikman has been sounding the clarion call about the dangers of fooling with a bad back. Three: See number one.
  • The top 10 of one team not in the top 10, though I do not know the order: Two quarterbacks (Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles), four tackles (Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan, Zack Martin), one defensive tackle (Aaron Donald), two pass-rushers (Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack), one wideout (Sammy Watkins).
  • Want a darkhorse for Carolina at 28—or, if the Panthers are lucky and he falls to 60? Guard-tackle Joel Bitonio of Nevada. Coach Ron Rivera went to Reno to meet him and came away impressed, I’m told.
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124 comments
Mr.MurderMurphy
Mr.MurderMurphy

If only the Falcons held their guns and got Doug Baldwin(27th) instead of Julio, while the Ravens waited over a trade balk that had them take Jimmy Smith(who lost that shot). Think Atlanta now sees itself movin' on up and you note the Rams seem likely trade bait. Oakland moved back for less than value before as well, part of it getting more bodies in the wake of Carson Palmer trade.

el80ne
el80ne

'I think if Blake Bortles sat in the front row at a Rays or Marlins game with his girlfriend, no one would say, “Hey, why isn’t Blake Bortles concentrating on football and staying out of the public eye before the draft?”'

You got this right but your reasoning is wrong Mr King. No one would be saying that because everyone would be too busy checking out his girlfriend.

Buck2185
Buck2185

The Sterling story is far from over. Peter hasn't even turned the loud mouthed punk, Richard Sherman, loose on a 3 page rant on Sterling yet.....

wlewisiii
wlewisiii

"h. Apropos of very little: Ansel Adams died on April 22, 1984. Richard Nixon died on April 22, 1994. Pat Tillman died on April 22, 2004." 

Two great men, one ... not so much. I'll leave it to you to decide which is which.


(hint: I'm a vet. OTOH, I am a photographer. On the Gripping Hand, I remember Cheering for Nixon election night 1972. Be careful what you wish for...) 

ninozowi
ninozowi

This point isn't as big as the people who are saying the opposite, but Sterling has been a registered Republican since 1998. Stop just denying it -- just go look it up. 

jbs50221
jbs50221

No Sterling does not represent the very worse of America....I still believe that Americans who own business, franchises or whatever, should have the right to say who they want working for them and " SOCIALIZING " with them. That is what is called an unalienable right. But all these courts, congresses and presidents are on a pity party and have changed the ideas of what real rights and freedoms are. To their limited shoe box rights and freedoms. I think Sterling has an unabridged right to tell his girlfriend to leave anybody out of his personal life and arena if he feels its an abject social suspect. My first response would be, to every person including Obama. To butt out of my business...what I said, is what I meant it to sound like. Analyze it any way you want, but it will not change my idea about who I am. And what I demand of my personal freedoms. And to all those black players on my team if you do not like me, pack your bags and go play some where else. I will get all white's to play on my team, to show the world why I do not want blacks socializing with me. Because when my all white team would hit the courts the black prejudiced players on those other teams would show their true colors by being antagonistic intimidating and even illegally violent. In attempt to show " them white boys " that we have rights above and beyond you now. I'm not racial, but I know the propensity of blacks. Spent twenty two years in prison with them. As a gang, they create noise and scream so the brothers will come running. But one white man on one black, when there aren't any other blacks around he hardly will open his mouth.  Same thing you see right now vibrating across the United States. They are all hollering out to their brothers to make noise. And even the H.N.I.C. in Washington D.C. is jumping on the band wagon. Even The Bible says in Jeremiah Chapter 13 verse 23 " Can an Ethiopian change his skin, or a leopard its spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil ". Can even a black man change his skin color? If so, then all you who think evil of Sterling, would be able to do good. 

   And as far as Sterling's girlfriend, if she was my girl friend she'd be the first to be dumped....let one of this silent protesting Clipper players have her. She was the literal cause for all of this crap anyway. I personally can testify, that being white gives me no more privileges than any black man never got. When I committed a crime, I was sentenced to fifty years in the penitentiary for what I did. That nine white and three black jury, sent me to prison for what I did. Nine of my won race laced me up...its because I did something against The Lord and the law of the land. So there was no racial bias for me to get leniency. And after hitting the penitentiary there was not mercy from that administration either. It wasn't until I received Christ into my life. That things changed and He decided to allow me to come home. But I served twenty two years altogether for my crime and still have to be on parole until 2031. I have been out almost 11 years. Praise The Lord....but being free, is not being free, when you find yourself being subdued by a government like what we have now.              

kenc29
kenc29

The thing about Sterling is, he was in a very small club of owners. Anyone who's been in a small club know what that's like. He's the longest-tenured owner in the group. David Stern, Adam Silver and the rest of the front office know Donald Sterling. This isn't some aberrant behavior. All the other owners and the NBA front office know that Sterling is a reprehensible human being and they let it slide. I think some of the blame has to fall on the NBA front office's shoulders. They had to have known and yet did nothing about it. Sad.

Raiderforlife
Raiderforlife

Thank god  Sterling is a Democrat I would not be able to listen to the TV or Radio if he where a Republican


Rickapolis
Rickapolis

It's so sad to see people come to the defense of a man like Donald Sterling. He represents the very worst of America, and there is NO room for him in professional sports. I was hoping his kind were dying out, but judging from all the irresponsible comments, I'm afraid not.

EdwardKirby
EdwardKirby

"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."

Wow. So who is keeping you from proclaiming him as the best backup of all-time? Steve Young, perhaps?

BTW, McReynolds was a savvy base stealer that picked his opportunities carefully. When he ran, just about no one expected it. Except the Mets faithful.

LenaBrun
LenaBrun

I do not agree with anything Donald Sterling said on the call. But the reaction is way over the top, and not about facts of the stupid call.


This was a phonecall, not a public statement. Like it or not, the Constitution of the United States of America allow it's citizens to have unpopular opinions. The laws of the country can block you from promoting racist views and opinions, but it can and should not stop a private citizen expressing his or her personal opinion in a private setting. 

Regardless of how poor an opinion it is.


Donald Sterling is being victimized instead of ridiculed the reaction is a complete overreaction, and as far as I am concerned the NBA does not have or should not have a leg to stand on if thinking of sanctions.

Scramble
Scramble

The only black mark on Earl Morral's resume is tanking super bowl III. I don't know what the NFL offered him and Shula, maybe a trip to the nice warm sunny Miami Dolphins. I felt sorry for all the other Colts who played their hearts out not knowing he was just going to throw interceptions all day. He had Jimmy Orr wide open in the end zone on a trick play and throws it into the arms of a defender on the opposite side of the field. The NFL couldn't afford another AFL super bowl loss since they were merging leagues. Even Unitas admitted in private that it was a fixed game.

YinkaDoubleDare
YinkaDoubleDare

A broadcast team might not know who Bortles is but the cameramen would have noticed his girlfriend and put Bortles on camera without knowing it.  

CobyPreimesberger
CobyPreimesberger

to me there is few people that don't seem to have a problem that this was a private conversation.  you know why rock-head rocker was really hammered, it was his was an interview in SI, so it was public, plus again you have sterling in depositions, so you know this guy is a racist and stern rightly or wrongly turned a blind eye to it

unitcaptain11
unitcaptain11

The draft is 11 days later this year. Not two weeks.  People are acting like it's 3 months later.  It's 11 days.  Big deal.

Bucky182
Bucky182

Patiently waiting for the day when all this media-driven, ego boosting Manziel hype burns out just as fast or faster than Linsanity.


No comment on the Sterling issue.

DeeEmm1
DeeEmm1

I hope the Falcons trade up and lose more depth and draft capital. Clowney is good and I think he'll be a star quickly, but they have many more needs on that D than just one pass rusher. If I'm them, I'm looking to trade down and build the back end of my secondary. They have nothing at safety, while my Saints and the Bucs have strong secondaries that will challenge their receivers. 

They've been one step behind during this Smith-Dimitroff era. Don't make the mistake of staying one step behind.

SpencerForHire
SpencerForHire

I kinda wish PK would have talked about the knucklehead 49er fan that is suing for $50M because he couldn't buy tickets to the NFCCG. 

number18
number18

!. Sterling is a registered democrat

2.Sterling is Jewish

3.All will be forgiven

Phooey
Phooey

@ninozowi BFD.  Both sides had idiots and racists.  Obama is the worst racist in the country right now.  He's a clown that should be ignored just like Donald Sterling. 

JayReardon
JayReardon

@jbs50221  Christ obviously did you no good in the thinking department.  Nothing like years in prison and imaginary entities to make one a real crack thinker and philosopher.

wlewisiii
wlewisiii

@jbs50221  Keep drinking the Fox Lies. You'll pass out soon enough. 


The real world will clean up your puke later. 

djbake6798
djbake6798

@jbs50221 ... and the government isn't doing anything to Donald Sterling. Its protected speech, but its not protected from being shouted down as ignorant by others or for a company to distance itself by pulling sponsorship or from people gathering peacefully in protest outside the Staples center. Most people who spout on about free speech don't actually understand what that actually entails.

Mike26
Mike26

@kenc29  They can't do a thing about it so why try?

Mike26
Mike26

@Rickapolis  People aren't coming to his defense as much as they're just shrugging their shoulders because Sterling has ALWAYS been this way so this latest overblown incident is nothing new - yet the media is treating it as if another planet were discovered or another celebrity came out of the closet.

Mike26
Mike26

@EdwardKirby  Steve Young was a brief backup and HOF starter.  If you're going to try to rip PK then at least try and come up with something less stupid.

JayReardon
JayReardon

@LenaBrun  Yeah, another multi millionaire victim --- shot by his own big mouth and ignorance.  I'm crying.  Maybe he'll send you a check for your support.

liquidmuse3
liquidmuse3

@LenaBrun  The whole point is a private entity (the NBA) might have a problem with the owner of one of its franchises. If you lived in a country where (I assume you're a woman) women were once enslaved---& then you had to go to work for a person who said "don't bring women to my place of business, and don't commiserate with them publicly"---do you think---

1)any women would ever want to work for that owner? Especially considering the majority of people in the owner's business were (in this example) women?

2)you'd be A-OK with the whole "free speech" thing? It's so idiotic to decry the reaction against Sterling, while trumping up "free speech". He's allowed to say what he wants, people are allowed to react how they want. However, this is different, because the NBA is in the public relations business (just like any private entity, except x100), *&*, the city of Los Angeles has its name ATTACHED to this gentleman's franchise. So you're saying the NBA will allow & be happy with every player asking to be traded off Sterling's roster, & an entire empty arena? Do you not see how "speech" leads to "bad business"?

e46M3
e46M3

@number18 You're batting .333, which is only great if you're in the MLB.


Ryan19
Ryan19

@number18  Actually, Sterling has been a registered Republican since 1998.  I don't think his political party is at all relevant in this situation, but if you are going to post it, at least do it correctly.  

usameos6
usameos6

@number18  You forgot to add:


- Sterling has been doing this for 40+ years

 - Sterling was going to be given a lifetime achievement award from the NAACP and has been previously honored by this organization for his support of minority children

 - The NBA Bylaws for owners (which are not published) allegedly contain more information about what the NBA can do to owners that can't meet their financial obligations versus anything about conduct or behavior so the NBA may not be able to do anything outside of a fine/suspension but will fall short of being able to force Sterling to sell the Clippers

BillieBob
BillieBob

@number18  

There are dem bigots and repub bigots. The unifying factor is that they're all conservatives.

Mike26
Mike26

@number18  SHHH!!!!!!  You're messing some really good rants!

wlewisiii
wlewisiii

@Phooey @ninozowi  Obama? The most center-right president since Ike? Only in the imagination of those who think Fox is a news channel rather than the propaganda mouthpiece of the GOP. 

Jenga
Jenga

@wlewisiii   You aren't the brightest bulb are you?  I saw nothing about party affiliation in @jbs50221 post.  You just want everything to fit in you very limited world-view and let the TV do the thinking and talking for you.  Have fun being a narrow-minded drone.

jrscott0262
jrscott0262

@wlewisiii Has nothing to do with Fox... Sigh.  Party Patriots need a cranial-rectal retraction.  Both parties, and their cheering sections (the news agencies on both sides) lie.  It's what they do.  Meanwhile they drain our wallets while you watch the world's biggest "reality show".

Raiderforlife
Raiderforlife

@shoota79 @Raiderforlife  you check your facts he was giving money to democrats for years. Lets put it another way the liberal media is not calling him a republican that tells you all you need to know you moon bat

hayhowesq
hayhowesq

@Mike26 @number18  Actually, as has been mentioned many times, Sterling is a registered Republican, but nice try.

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