Quotes of the Week
“I’m sad to see some of these guys retiring. I’m not far behind.”
—Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, on the field at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. He was in New York to see friend Derek Jeter play for the last time, and he’ll stay today to tape the Letterman show. Jeter and Letterman have both announced plans to retire.
“It’s not something we’re counting on. It’s something that would be a relative surprise.”
—Jacksonville general manager Dave Caldwell, on the status of suspended wide receiver Justin Blackmon, the fifth pick in the first round just two years ago. He was suspended twice last year, the second time indefinitely, for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, and the team hasn’t been in contact with him—per league guidelines—while he’s been in rehab.
Hard to think Sammy Watkins won’t be in the final couple of options for Jacksonville when the number three spot in the first round comes up Thursday night.
“We look at the draft as, in some respects, a luck-driven process. The more picks you have, the more chances you have to get a good player. When we look at teams that draft well, it’s not necessarily that they’re drafting better than anybody else. It seems to be that they have more picks. There’s definitely a correlation between the amount of picks and drafting good players.”
—Baltimore assistant GM Eric DeCosta, to Jenny Vrentas of The MMQB, in Vrentas’ enlightening story last week about the Ravens’ love of compensatory picks, and how they intentionally try to obtain more compensatory picks than other teams through a sort of planned obsolescence of their own veterans.
I strongly recommend you give Vrentas’ story a read if you have not already.
“He’s got the balls of a burglar.”
—Rich Gannon, former NFL quarterback and 2002 NFL MVP, to me, on Johnny Manziel, in my virtual roundtable with five quarterback experts dissecting Manziel this week.
“For far too long the NFL has been sitting on its hands doing nothing while an entire population of Americans has been denigrated. How long will the NFL continue to do nothing—zero—as one of its teams bears a name that inflicts so much pain on Native Americans?”
—U.S. Sen Harry Reid (D-Nev.), on the floor of the senate last week, on the “Redskins” name.
“Frankly, I would probably change the name.”
—U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), asked on “The Dan Patrick Show” by Patrick what he would do about the Washington team name.
So two of the biggest political leaders in America, who can’t agree that today is Monday, went on record in the past week as saying they would change the name of the Washington Redskins. The story’s not going away. Eventually the league and Washington owner Dan Snyder are going to have to come to the realization that “Redskins” is too objectionable to too many people.
I understand all the status-quo fans of the team, and Snyder, who think this is PC America run amok. And whatever the reason Snyder is spending time and money on Native American causes through his Original Americans Foundation, I applaud him for trying to help a depressed segment of our society we often overlook. But Snyder risks being on the very wrong side of history if he chooses to make the name of the team an Armageddon cause.
Stat of the Week
Asked a veteran personnel man this week how many players his team had with “make-it’’ grades on his draft board, and he said 170, which is up about 25 players from a usual draft. Different teams I’m sure will have different ways of looking at this board; I’m just saying this draft probably has more players who would make an average NFL roster than most recent drafts.
The 170th pick is the 30th pick in the fifth round this year. San Francisco owns it. Here are the teams that, theoretically, could have the biggest injection of new life on their rosters this fall, the teams with the most picks among the top 170:
8: Cleveland*, Jacksonville, San Francisco.
7: New York Jets.
6: Atlanta, New Orleans, St. Louis, Baltimore, Houston, Detroit, Minnesota, Green Bay.
* Cleveland’s top eight picks all come in the first 145 slots.
On the other end of the spectrum, the teams with the fewest picks in the top 170:
3: Indianapolis (and the third one is 166 overall)
4: Tennessee, Denver, Kansas City, Oakland, Washington, Tampa Bay, Seattle.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
Dallas draft picks in the top 228 slots this year: 5.
Dallas draft picks in the bottom 28 slots this year: 6.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
After years of being told, “You’ve got to go to Jazzfest,” I finally went to the New Orleans spring staple, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, on Saturday … to see Bruce Springsteen at the old lady of a racetrack there, The Fairgrounds. I’ll be returning. It was a gorgeous day and a great Americana scene. Thousands of people—maybe 50,000 or so—walking from venue to venue, listening to gospel music in the Gospel Tent or blues in the Blues Tent, eating an array of local food (I chose the catfish tacos), enjoying the sun and the music. Springsteen was his usual indefatigable self. How does a 64-year-old man keep up that pace—not just for 2 hours and 35 minutes, but the pace of touring and keeping it so fun night after night? Coolest part of the show: He brought up John Fogerty—and Fogerty’s two sons to play maracas—and they combined on “Green River” and “Proud Mary.”
At the same time Springsteen played, you could have (and thousands did) seen elsewhere on the property Trey Songz, Foster the People, Better Than Ezra, Al Jarreau, Johnny Winter, The Head and the Heart (a Seattle-based Steve Gleason favorite) … or Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers.
Three bits of lagniappe from the day in New Orleans:
1. Saw Rob Ryan, the Saints’ rock star of a defensive coordinator, and NBC’s Brian Williams, a huge Springsteen fan, at the show. You see what Williams, the Yankee fan, is doing in this photo? He’s covering up the Red Sox logo on my shirt.
2. Out for a drink after the show, I got to meet Nils Lofgren and Mrs. Nils. Very nice people. They live in Phoenix. Big Arizona Cardinals fans.
3. I visited Steve Gleason, who spent some time in the hospital this week with pneumonia. He’s feeling better, but his ALS is advancing inexorably. It’s such a cruel disease; muscles controlling his ability to swallow now don’t work. Cutest thing I saw all weekend: Gleason’s son Rivers sitting on his lap in his wheelchair, watching a Jimmy Kimmel skit on YouTube.
Tweets of the Week
As noted by @GregABedard, Ray Farmer picks #4 & #26 after replacing Mike Lombardi, exactly the same position for Ozzie Newsome back in ’96.
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) May 4, 2014
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 4, 2014
Ian Rapoport sports a Kiper Jr. hairdo.
Surprising as it may seem to some, good drafting teams spend more time setting lower rounds than premium rounds. That’s how you build a team
— Greg Gabriel (@greggabe) April 30, 2014
Adam Silver just banned Donald Sterling for life. As for the afterlife, I’ll take it from there.
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) April 29, 2014
I don’t know who that is, but I like the handle.