Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think I’d love to hear what an NFL locker room, or a big-league locker room in baseball or basketball or hockey, would say to a coach who said this publicly: “We cannot win our league this year, because we are not at that level yet.” U.S. soccer coach Jurgen Klinsmann said to Sam Borden of the New York Times: “We cannot win this World Cup, because we are not at that level yet.” In the last few days, since I derided Klinsmann for saying we cannot win an athletic competition that we, as one of 32 World Cup teams, begin to compete for starting next Monday, I’ve heard all of the theories about why he said it. They are, in no particular order:
• It’s reverse psychology, done to make his players mad at him for giving up, thus creating an us-against-the-world-including-our-coach ethos on the team.
• It adds to the Impossible Dream nature of what the U.S. team is facing.
• It’s a common European way of motivating players. By saying it’s impossible to win, the players will somehow feel they have nothing to lose and be able to play with relaxed minds.
• It takes the pressure off the players by having all the focus and criticism on the coach who says the team has no chance before the biggest soccer tournament in the world.
My point is simple: It’s absurd for a group of players, who have been practicing and drilling and (I’m sure) watching all kinds of video on first-round foes Ghana, Portugal and Germany, to hear from the man leading them into the World Cup that they have no chance to win. I’d love to hear what Herb Brooks would have thought of that form of “motivation.” The U.S. opens World Cup play a week from today against Ghana. I’ll be watching, even though we don’t have a chance.
2. I think Bruce Arians has no prejudice against playing rookies, and he certainly wants to improve his deep receiver speed from 2013, and he has been more impressed with third-round wideout John Brown of Pittsburg (Kans.) State with his 4.34-in-the-40 speed and his quick pickup of the Arizona offense … all of which leads me to believe if you’re drafting your fantasy football team in June, taking a late-round risk on Brown would be a smart idea on a deep roster. The Cardinals, so far, love him.
3. I think Dan Marino, embarrassing non-lawsuit and all, still likely will be hired by the Dolphins for what will begin at least as some sort of ceremonial/advisory role in the front office. Look for Marino to write a letter to commissioner Roger Goodell, and to the Dolphins, explaining his side of how he never intended to sue the league over the head-trauma issue. With all the goodwill Marino has built up over the years with the NFL office and the Dolphins, I’d be surprised if his misstep of last week will cost him a job.
4. I think one of the things that would discourage the NFL from putting the 2015 draft in Arlington, Texas—at the Cowboys’ stadium—is how empty the place would seem for the rounds after the first. I believe the Cowboys could put on a great show for round one. Maybe 50,000 fans, and some good electricity. But the problem with any venue is what happens when the picks are guys the fans have never heard of. Whoever holds the draft next year will have to be sure it can account for the significantly smaller crowds on days two and three (and day four if there is one) by sectioning off the draft room with curtains or whatever. That’s why, as one league operative told me recently, a venue like McCormick Place south of Soldier Field is so attractive. It’s the kind of convention center location that can contract and expand depending on the number of people on hand. Even if Jerryworld puts up barriers, it’s likely still going to look cavernous.
5. I think the biggest reason to like Colin Kaepernick’s contract—if you’re a fan, if you’re the team, and if you’re a competitive player who thinks nothing should be handed to him—is that he’ll get very rich if he’s a good-to-great NFL quarterback over the next six years. If he’s just okay, or he slumps over the next two or three years, the Niners can get out from under an onerous deal and start over at the position without being weighed down by Kaepernick guarantees.
6. I think Rahim Moore of the Denver Broncos deserves some praise this morning. Moore suffered from a potentially catastrophic incidence of compartment syndrome, which Joan Niesen wrote so eloquently about for The MMQB. Then Moore talked about it to the Denver press, and a local runner in Denver was admitted to a hospital and diagnosed with compartment syndrome last week. The runner is remaining anonymous for now, but a relative, who also wished to remain anonymous, reached out to me to explain how Moore, once he found out about the patient, wanted to visit him immediately in the hospital. Moore did, last Thursday night. “Rahim prayed with him and inspired him,’’ the relative said. “He dropped what he was doing at 10 o’clock at night and came to the hospital and delivered a message of hope. We are just normal people. We had no expectations that he would come when we notified the Broncos about the situation. But he did. We are overwhelmed. People should know this—they should know what a good person Rahim Moore is.” And so now you hear the testimony about Moore.
7. I think the funniest headline of last week was one about Andrew Luck not being concerned about Colin Kaepernick’s new contract. People: Andrew Luck is not concerned about much of anything that is outside his Colts universe, and he certainly isn’t concerned with what anyone else’s contract is. He knows when it’s time to sign a contract, he’ll get what the market rate is for a player playing his position at whatever level he’s playing at the time. For him to worry about something like that would be incredibly anti-Luck.
8. I think Monica Seles would be one heck of a first lady of Buffalo football.
9. I think when word leaks out of spring practices that a player is not in top shape, the translation is: The guy’s been dogging it this off-season, and this is his warning. That’s what I thought when the Bucs sent word that Da’Quan Bowers, a second-round pick three years ago, wasn’t in good shape at team activities last week. Bowers has played just 1,009 snaps in a disappointing three-year career so far. This has to be his do-or-die season in Tampa.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. That Belmont was really, really fun to watch.
b. I understand the owner of California Chrome being upset that a fresh horse running his first Triple Crown race beat his horse, running for the third time in a little over a month. But saying it’s a “coward’s way out’’ is beyond bush league. Playing by the rules is cowardly? As SI.com’s Tim Layden reported, Belmont winner Tonalist was sick and didn’t qualify for the Kentucky Derby, so obviously he didn’t sit out to conserve energy for the long Belmont.
c. That Maria Sharapova win over Simona Halep at the French Open was a great sports event. I was sure Halep was too powerful for Sharapova early in the third set, but Sharapova proved to be a great champion.
d. The A’s are really fun to watch.
e. Great job, John Romano, on your Don Zimmer column in Tampa Bay. You’ve got to read the ending, folks. You’ll say, “How do you not love Don Zimmer?”
f. Of course, I’m the same guy who watched Zim’s most ignominious moment (not including the 1978 playoff game at Fenway) with Don Banks at a bar in Indianapolis and howled with stunned laughter when Pedro Martinez threw him to the ground by his head—one of the craziest sights I’ve ever seen in sports.
g. Bet you didn’t know (unless you read my Tweet the other day) that Zim homered off Don Drysdale, Juan Marichal and Robin Roberts (four times) in his major-league career.
h. Coffeenerdness: I give up. I can’t drink any drip coffee but Italian Roast. I am officially the snobbiest coffee snob of all time.
i. Beernerdness: Always happens this way—it’s hot out, it’s near summertime, and I move from heavier to lighter in beer selection.
j. Great opening—would you expect anything less?—from Doc Emrick at the start of Stanley Cup game two Saturday, with a shot of downtown L.A. and Staples Center: “THIS is the city … Los Angeles, California.” If you’re a viewer of a certain age, that was Emrick channeling his inner Jack Webb, and “Dragnet.”
k. Two comments on “All The Way,” the Broadway play that’s heavy on the history of Lyndon Johnson’s early presidency and the election of 1964: Though there were tedious parts and a three-hour play could have easily been two hours and 15 minutes, there were spellbinding segments that made the play enjoyable and worthwhile. And Bryan Cranston, the “Breaking Bad” guy, is so good as LBJ. What an exhausting role. How does he play that role twice in one day when there are matinees? I can’t imagine the yelling and screaming and energy a man expends playing that part for six hours in one day. No wonder he won the Tony Award on Sunday night for best actor. (“All the Way” won for best play.)
l. Think of this: Cranston plays LBJ at 8 p.m. Friday, at 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Sunday. That’s four times in the span of 45 hours. Just watch Cranston’s exertion level and tell me that’s not an incredible task—particularly for his vocal cords.
The Adieu Haiku
Kaepernick got paid.
Sort of—but it’s a good pact.
Play well, get rich. Good.