Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think I would be surprised if we didn’t read the following headline on the web sometime late Tuesday afternoon: “NFL owners make progress on expanded playoffs.” My guess is a vote is unlikely but possible, and commissioner Roger Goodell wants to be sure he hears every ownership voice that wants to be heard before calling a vote on it. There’s no hurry, really, because the playoffs are almost assuredly not expanding until the 2015 season at the earliest. As league officials canvassed owners and club officials throughout the NFL over the past few months, they found very few negative voices about increasing the number of wild card teams per conference from two to three. One of the reasons is the increased TV exposure and ratings and ad revenue associated with two more playoff games. I expect the new format to include two valuable entities the league now does not have: Sunday night and Monday night games on wild card weekend, with six wild card games filling the weekend instead of the current four.
2. I think no one asked me (who ever does?), but I think 12 playoff teams is plenty, and 14 waters down the significance of making the postseason. And what’s to stop the league five years from now saying, “The ratings for wild card weekend are so boffo that we should go to 16.”
3. I think one of the players I’m anxious to follow in training camp this summer is undrafted free-agent defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat of the Seahawks. Surprisingly undrafted after a 33-start career at defensive end for Texas, Jim Jeffcoat’s son caught the eye of Pete Carroll at a weekend minicamp. He’ll have to be special to dent a very good defensive line, but anyone who accounts for 32 tackles for loss (19 non-sack tackles behind the line, 13 sacks) in that program could open eyes when the real practices start in July. “In the workouts he’s looked really good,” Carroll said Saturday. “He’s a really good athlete, he fits in athletically with the guys that play for us, same size and speed and all of that. He was very productive in college in a big program. So we’re anxious to see if he can push and fight for a spot here.”
4. I think this is why they paid you the big money, Dave Gettleman. The Panthers general manager has to decide what to do, if anything, about a long contract extension for star defensive end Greg Hardy, just 25 years old and in his prime, after Hardy’s run-in with a girlfriend and his temporary jailing … and being ordered to turn in 10 guns to authorities. That includes six semi-automatic weapons and three 12-gauge shotguns. Hardy’s girlfriend said he owns 25 to 30 weapons. I’m sure the Panthers are going to do their due diligence about Hardy’s cache of weapons, and investigate whether they want to go year-by-year with Hardy (franchising him) instead of showing the faith of a long-term contract and much guaranteed money. In addition, the judge in the case ordered Hardy to attend three Alcoholics Anonymous classes. This could be a very tough call for Gettleman, particularly if Hardy is cleared to play at the start of the season and tears up the NFC South as he did last year.
5. I think I loved this note from the Arizona Republic’s Paola Boivin: One former Arizona State quarterback, Brock Osweiler, interned this off-season for another former Arizona State quarterback, Andrew Walter, who is a candidate for U.S. Congress in Arizona. Walter played in the NFL. Osweiler backs up Peyton Manning now.
6. I think it must be nice to have Patrick Peterson for a friend. Peterson, the friend and mentor of fellow Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, bought Mathieu a Rolex Presidential watch for his 22nd birthday the other day. List prices of said timepieces: One goes for $14,995; the bigger one, $26,995.
7. I think I love the fact that the Minnesota Park Board recognized the longtime impact of Minneapolis columnist Sid Hartman by naming a baseball field in north Minneapolis “Sid Hartman Field.” Hartman, who has been a sportswriter in the Twin Cities for 70 years, is still an impact player up there—and everywhere. “I didn’t see anyone in the mock drafts that had us taking Anthony Barr—except Sid,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told Minneapolis columnist Patrick Reusse the other day. Major League Baseball is refurbishing four baseball fields into fields of dreams in conjunction with the 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field in July, and it’s a wonderful thing that Hartman will live on for generations at the field that will bear his name.
8. I think this analysis from Pro Football Focus sheds tremendous light on the best-cornerback-in-football debate.
9. I think it probably isn’t going to be a huge factor in winning and losing this year, but I like the fact that Chicago GM Phil Emery got all eight of his draft picks signed in less than 100 hours after the final pick of round seven. Now that the picks are slotted so exactly since the advent of the new CBA in 2011, it’s counterproductive to waste any time haggling over this clause or that. Emery gave coach Marc Trestman his full complement of players, ready to go to work by last Wednesday. More GMs should follow that path. There’s simply no reason not to.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. After the bitter Montreal-Boston series, TSN’s Aaron Ward reported that Boston’s Milan Lucic said to two Canadiens, “I’m going to —-ing kill you next year.” That’s nice.
b. Two days later, in front of the press, Lucic said, “I’m not apologizing for what was said in the handshake line.” That’s nicer.
c. I want to hear what Lucic thinks on July 19. Not May 19. If it’s the same, that’s not a guy I’d want on my team. Ridiculous Irony of the Week: Lucic recently released a book entitled, Not Cool to Bully in School.
d. Still think the NHL’s handshake line is the best post-game tradition in sports.
e. Greatest thing in a newspaper I saw this week: the New York Post doing a story on New York lottery winner Cameron Finney, who won a lump sum payment of $7.4 million on a $20 million payout. According to the Post, Finney said, “I’m not going to change. I’ve seen many lottery shows and how people wasted their money. That’s not me. I won’t waste it. It will be here until I’m gone.” The story noted Finney plans to retire next week, will buy himself a Dodge Ram, then a house for his wife, then a Bentley. That’s what I call not changing when you win the lottery.
f. So long, Barbara Walters. For so long, her interviews were national events.
g. Somehow, in all the tributes she gets in the wake of her retirement at 84, I believe she might miss mine.
h. Coffeenerdness: So I’ve been working a bit with a nutritionist, and after studying my diet (or lack thereof), she said, “No more lattes.” The horror! We reached a bit of a truce there. I shan’t give up my favorite warm beverage, but I think I can handle three a week, with brewed Italian roast the rest of the time. We’ll see.
i. Beernerdness: Harpoon IPA, you’ve still got it. Had one the other day on an unseasonably warm evening in New York, and it’s as good as I remember.
j. Donald Sterling stories: Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.
k. My thanks to the Live Sun Smart Foundation for the all-too-kind award at its annual gala the other night in Jersey City. Teri Festa, who lost her father to melanoma 22 years ago, has been at the forefront of an effort to educate the public about the dangers of the sun. As a two-time melanoma victim, I was honored to be a part of this year’s event. It’s truly important work, particularly to young people who too often don’t see the dangers of excessive exposure to the sun.
l. And my gratitude to a good and loyal friend, Adam Schefter, for introducing me at the benefit. Humbling words on a humbling evening.
m. Victor Cruz > Kid Cruz. The horse named after the Giants wide receiver finished 15 ¾ lengths back of California Chrome in the Preakness on Saturday.
The Adieu Haiku
Draft withdrawal sets in.
One hope I have this morning:
Mayock. Beach. St. Kitts.