Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think in the next week you’re going to see and hear of so many teams desperate for cornerbacks. “We’re going to get one,” a personnel man for one team told me Saturday, “but we may have to pay a higher price than we want, or a higher price than the player deserves.” The Jets, the Ravens, the Lions, the Colts, the Vikings and the Bucs, among others, could be sniffing around for a dwindling supply of cover guys near the final cutdown.
2. I think I have no idea why so many saw Santonio Holmes as toxic. He’s been mildly disruptive in his NFL career, but not a cancer. I think the Bears made a good signing there.
3. I think I have one name to keep in mind as the Pro Football Hall of Fame senior committee gathers this week in Canton to nominate one old-timer for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, class of 2015: Mick Tingelhoff. Think of Tingelhoff’s greatest accomplishment: For the last 358 games of his 17-year career—99 preseason games, 240 regular-season games, 19 postseason games—Tingelhoff started. He failed to start only once—the first exhibition game of his career for the Vikings in 1962. Amazing. He dressed for 359 games in 17 years, and started the last 358. “He never missed a practice either,’’ his onetime quarterback, Fran Tarkenton, said. He made first-team All-Pro seven times; no NFL center was voted first-team All-Pro more times. Back when the Pro Bowl meant something, a back playing behind Tingelhoff made the Pro Bowl 13 times.
4. I think I don’t know why NFL Network markets its talent as stand-up comics or, worse, as clowns. They are neither. These are smart men who played football at a high level, and when the commercials and promos come on for the NFL Network’s pre- and post-game shows, we see the hootin’ and hollerin’ and silliness. I just wish Rich Eisen would be allowed to have more reasoned discussions with the people who I thought were go-to guys in locker/coaches’ rooms—Warren Sapp, Michael Irvin, Steve Mariucci.
5. I think you should watch The MMQB this week for reporting from riot-torn Ferguson, Mo., from our Robert Klemko. The reportage began with this story from the weekend about Chicago defensive lineman David Bass, who grew up in the area and discusses the racial profiling he felt he encountered there. Klemko was on site Saturday night and Sunday, and spent time with some of the key people in the drama, and some of the high school football players and coaches who are trying to make a normal life for themselves in the midst of the strife.
6. I think if you’re wondering about the Rams’ involvement in the local story, wonder no more. Klemko has uncovered that the Rams provided tickets for high school players from the stricken area to the preseason game against Green Bay on Saturday. He filed this to me Sunday, and he’ll have more in a story on our site this week:
Watching the violence over Michael Brown’s killing unfold in Ferguson last week, a Rams staffer thought of the high schoolers, specifically, the boys who are supposed to play in their first football game of the season this weekend. Rams manager of fan development & alumni relations Kyle Eversgerd put in a call to coaches at McCluer High, McCluer North and McCluer South; there would be 75 free tickets awaiting each team if they chose to come to Saturday’s preseason game at the Edward Jones Dome.
“In light of everything going on it just kind of hit me,” says Eversgerd, whose job includes outreach with local high schools. “I can’t imagine with all that stuff going on, how tough it must be to practice. We were able to get them away from it all.”
So as hundreds of protesters faced off with police on the now-infamous West Florissant Avenue on Saturday night in Ferguson, leaving a man critically wounded by gunfire just yards from the homes of area children, the boys from three local teams were at their first NFL game, watching Aaron Rodgers and Sam Bradford from the 400 level. Said McCluer coach Mario MacDonald, “Our kids are focused on this season, but I worry about them out here, to be honest.”
At McCluer, MacDonald estimates more than 75% of his roster comes from single-parent homes, and most would not have been able to otherwise afford tickets that average about $100. The game was a welcome distraction; many McCluer players are angry with police and inclined to protest after Michael Brown’s shooting death here a week ago. On the bus ride to the game, players saw protesters on Florissant and started chanting, “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!”
Then they focused on football.
“It was overwhelming to see the NFL live, for real,” said senior running back Henry Jones, “You saw how fast they played, and how they played together. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I could actually see myself out there playing.”
7. I think this was the reaction of one scout upon leaving the Broncos-Niners game: “Very strange. San Francisco looked tired. I wonder if they’ve been beating themselves up in practice. They were just off. But it’s a classic case of not putting too much stock into preseason games. If they had to play a game tomorrow, they’re still one of the top three or five teams in football. I would worry about the backup quarterback situation though.”
8. I think if Peyton Manning made playing quarterback any easier, he’d be sleeping.
9. I think the thing I’m most looking forward to on my western swing this week is seeing Jadeveon Clowney, in pads for two practices, rush Manning and his Ryan Clady-fortified Denver front. I’ll see the Broncos and Texans practice Tuesday and Wednesday in Denver.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Such a sad week.
b. Robin Williams’ death by suicide drives home what a serious illness depression is. For all those who suffer from it, and for those who don’t always realize how hopeless depressed people can feel, I hope Williams’ death causes a re-examination of depression specifically and mental health in general.
c. Tremendous story by Richard Corliss in Time magazine, on the death of Williams and appreciation of his life. What a terrific job, too, considering news of Williams’ death spread around dinnertime in New York on Monday evening, and Corliss’ brilliant elegy was in my mailbox on Thursday morning. Imagine having to write that story, with no lead time, no hint that it was coming, basically overnight.
d. At the time of his heroin-overdose death in February at 46, Philip Seymour Hoffman was, in my opinion, the greatest actor in our country. On Friday, I went to the last movie in which he played a lead role, a German spymaster named Gunther Bachmann, in “A Most Wanted Man.” The premise is interesting—that disagreements and rivalries between international spy agencies helped Mohammed Atta and associates hatch and develop the plot for the 9/11 attacks on the United States in Hamburg, Germany. After 9/11, Hoffman’s character is chasing a Chechen man identified by sources as a probable terrorist, and his search for him and for a money-launderer far more dangerous and his butting of heads with rival spymasters make a for a taut, fast story. And as I sat there and watched the chain-smoking, hard-drinking Hoffman do some of his best work, I thought how sad it was that we won’t see 20 more examples of the man’s brilliance on the screen. Robin Williams dies, and Philip Seymour Hoffman gives us two hours of what we’ll be missing over the next quarter-century. What a bummer.
e. The movie is dark, and it seems awfully real to me. I’d recommend “A Most Wanted Man.” It’s not “Capote,” or “Charlie Wilson’s War,” or “Doubt,” or even “The Savages” or “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” Hoffman’s most underrated films. But Hoffman, and this movie, are worth your time here.
f. Estimated three-week money haul for ALS and related ALS charities, thanks to the #IceBucketChallenge: $13.3 million, which ALS authorities say is about eight times what the normal giving was in a similar summer period last year.
g. Russell Wilson certainly got the job done, atop the Space Needle.
h. Thus, you’re wrong if you think the Ice Bucket Challenge is a bunch of mularkey. It’s working, to raise awareness and research money.
i. Coffeenerdness: Very nice coffee in the Levi’s Stadium press box. Peet’s. Not sure the blend, but it’s dark, and it’s good.
j. Beernerdness: My thanks to the beermeisters at Busch Stadium for making The MMQB feel at home with a beer-tasting in St. Louis on our trip through town. My two favorites from the evening: STLIPA, an IPA from former Anheuser-Busch brewers at Urban Chestnut in St. Louis; and Schlafly Brewing’s Dry Hopped APA, another flavorful IPA-type from the Midwest. Lots of good beers being brewed in the Midwest, and St. Louis is a gem of a beer town.
k. What a way to get a save, Trevor Rosenthal. He entered Thursday’s game against San Diego up 4-2. What the Pads did versus Rosenthal: single, fly out, single, walk, single (run scores, second runner thrown out at home), walk, strikeout. Five baserunners allowed, and you record two outs, and you get a save. Heck of a way to make a tightrope living.
l. The best show on radio: Radio Lab, on NPR. Seek it out and listen to an hour of interpreting and analyzing news (such as Saturday’s fascinating hour on how the U.S. government figures out whom to kill in drone strikes in al-Qaeda hotspots) and delving into life trends.
m. Most of what NPR does is so important. Radio is so much better than it was in my youth, and NPR shows (Radio Lab, This American Life, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, All Things Considered) are the biggest reason, collectively.
n. Thanks, Michael Beschloss, for reminding us that Roberto Clemente, had he lived, would have turned 80 today.
The Adieu Haiku
Peyton is ageless.
The best man on field Sunday,
and he’s 38.