Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think that was a great job by Tim Graham of the Buffalo News, going to Los Angeles and coming up with a depressing picture of the future of the NFL in L.A. two decades after the Rams and Raiders last played there. The money quote from Graham’s story, from long-time Los Angeles city councilman Bernard Parks: “I’ve finally, personally come to a conclusion. I have to resign myself to the fact the NFL is not coming.” Strong words from one of the biggest NFL flag-wavers in town.
2. I think, Sam Farmer, I will wait for your retort. Or your forecast.
3. I think I hope Bill Belichick—as he did last week on SiriusXM NFL Radio—continues to press for replay on any call made in any game. For those who say it will lead to five-hour games, come on. It won’t increase the number of challenges each coach has per game; it will simply provide another bit of insurance against a blown call changing the outcome of a game.
4. I think, regarding Jerry Rice Jr. declining to wear number 80 during a San Francisco tryout the other day, I say: Why would he? Nice to follow in your dad’s footsteps and all, but why let people look at you on the field and say, “Well, he’s no Jerry Rice?”
5. I think I like what I saw on Pro Football Talk Sunday: the probability of a redesigned substance-abuse policy in the NFL that calls for a one-game suspension for a first-time DUI conviction.
6. I think the Dolphins have a pretty big upgrade at tackle—from the aged Bryant McKinnie (left) and Tyson Clabo (right) at the end of last season to Branden Albert and Ju’Wuan James—to start this year. The first act of new GM Dennis Hickey will look very smart if Albert and James can be the long-term protectors of Ryan Tannehill that they were imported to be.
7. I think the best sign for any team over the weekend was Chiefs rookie quarterback Aaron Murray evading the rush well at Kansas City minicamp, just six months removed from ACL surgery. Though it was a non-contact practice in helmets and shorts, Murray looked comfortable pivoting and wheeling around on the rehabbed leg. Doubt he’ll beat out Chase Daniel this year as Alex Smith’s backup, but great progress nonetheless.
8. I think one of the position competitions I’m really looking forward to this summer is cornerback in New Orleans. Specifically: Imagine if, on opening day against Atlanta, the Saints line up Champ Bailey across from Roddy White and—on some plays at least—the 6-4 Stanley Jean-Baptiste across from Julio Jones? Jean-Baptiste will likely open the season behind the established Keenan Lewis, trying to earn time in the nickel or dime packages. Talk about remaking your corner group in one off-season. If this happens, it would take a leap of faith for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to pull it off—not with Bailey, of course, because he should start if healthy. But Ryan will work hard to get Jean-Baptiste ready to face the tall wideouts in the division, and there are many in the NFC South.
9. I think—and this is not a football note, but a societal one—following the Mark Cuban controversy of the past few days, what he said at worst was borderline racist. Borderline. I wouldn’t have said it, but I also wouldn’t have attacked him for it. Pretty soon, no public figure will say anything, ever, at all, that is borderline controversial. We’re forcing all free-thinkers and speakers to measure everything they say and then come out with pablum, or else risk facing some hurricane of anger in some social segment of this world—on Twitter, or some other forum—whether it’s truly deserved or not.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Happy 73rd, Bob Dylan. (It was Saturday.)
b. Happy 74th, Brent Musberger (today).
c. Waking up Sunday morning, which of the following would you have believed more likely: Manny Ramirez named player-coach of the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, or Kim Kardashian selling everything to follow the Dalai Lama?
d. Call me crazy (many do), but I think Manny actually might be good at it. He was a nutjob, but he worked pretty hard to be a good hitter. And Theo Epstein wouldn’t have done this if he thought Manny would infect his prospects with nonsense.
e. You mean there’s a race-car driver named Will Power and I’d never heard of him until the Indy 500 Sunday?
f. Runs scored by Red Sox in first inning Saturday at Tampa Bay: 5. Runs scored in previous 16 innings, and next 14 innings: 0.
g. I do not approve of the Stephen Drew signing. I approve of growing pains with a future star shortstop, Xander Bogaerts, instead of slapping him in the face after six weeks of mediocre play in the field at a time when his peers are juniors in college.
h. Fantastic job by ESPN’s Liz Merrill on the son of the late (and wild) boxer Tommy Morrison taking up boxing. Now that’s how to tell a story.
i. Also, do not miss Lee Jenkins’ cover story in SI this week on NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Talk about getting inside a newsmaker of the day. A superb job.
j. Did you know Adam Silver used to help babysit SI managing editor Mark Mulvoy’s kids in Westchester County, N.Y.?
k. One more story from the week that I absolutely loved: Joe Rhodes of the New York Times journeying to Vancouver to tell the tale of soccermania in nutty MLS markets Vancouver, Portland and Seattle. Always thought—and I told MLS commish Don Garber this—he should put the league office in Seattle, so it would be in the middle of three markets that treat the league closest to the way the English treat their major league.
l. Soccer is coming. And those who says it’ll always be a minor sport here, read that story about the impact of the game on the Pacific Northwest, and then be with me in my New York City apartment Saturday afternoon, with the windows open. At one point, I heard a sustained roar. I looked out to see folks overflowing out of a jam-packed bar. Someone must have scored in the Champions League final, I thought. That’s right. Twitter exploded with the news about five seconds later.
m. Speaking of memorable stories, here’s one to look out for this week on our site: Greg Bedard on Bill Walsh. Imagine being taught the West Coast Offense and how to go on road trips and everything you need to know about being a great football player. Bedard saw and heard it all—and you will too, on Wednesday at The MMQB.
n. Coffeenerdness: See my take on Portland coffee trucks on Page 4.
o. Beernerdness: My beer of pleasure on the trip to the Pacific Northwest last week: Breakside IPA (Breakside Brewing, Portland, Ore.), which has a clean and smooth taste—and the slightest aftertaste of a pine cone. That should be gross. But it was tremendous. Love that beer.
p. Johnny Manziel. Champagne rainstorm. TMZ. Las Vegas. Manziels will be Manziels.
You can’t tell the story of
Pat Tillman enough.