Does Russell Wilson Deserve a Billboard in New York City?
It’s a question worth asking after a bit of resentment in Seattle, and it’s something that Michael Bennett didn’t shy away from answering . . . plus notes Odell Beckham Jr., Eric Decker, DeAngelo Hall and more
Understanding how players get paid.
1) I think Paul Worrilow needs to be commended for his role in helping to groom Deion Jones, the Falcons’ middle linebacker and a rising star.I wrote about their relationship earlier this week, but Worrilow deserves special mention here. When the Falcons drafted Jones in the second round, in 2016, Worrilow took it upon himself to reach out and mentor his eventual replacement. They watched film together, worked out together, and sat next to each other in team meetings. Every time Jones had a question, Worrilow was there with an answer. “It’s a testament to who Paul is,” Jeff Ulbrich, the Falcons’ linebackers’ coach, said at the Super Bowl.
I asked Worrilow, a former undrafted free agent from Delaware, why he went out of you way to help Jones so much, when other veterans might have tried watching out for themselves instead?
“It’s just—I love ball, man,” Worrilow said. “That’s like anybody in our room. You love ball and you’re happy to be a part of it.”
Jealousy doesn’t come into play?
“It’s a team game,” he said, and wanted to leave it at that.
This offseason, with Jones set in the middle of their defense, the Falcons let Worrilow leave in free agency. He has since signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Lions. Here’s hoping that karma comes back to help Worrilow in a big way.
2) I think everyone—and especially sportswriters—should read this Exit Interview with Bob McGinn, the veteran scribe who’s leaving after spending 38 years on the Packers beat. McGinn is a football writer legend, and he gives us several pearls of wisdom here. One of my favorites is his tidbit about “modesty,” a quality that applies to sports writing as much as it applies to our everyday lives. The more modest we are, the more apt we are to listen to and empathize with one another. “Modesty,” McGinn says. “I think that’s crucial. I think too many young reporters think they are the show, think they are the game. It drives me nuts. We have to know who we are. We are journalists. We’re reporters. Every scout and assistant coach, to me, knows 100 times more football . . . so when you interview these people, don’t act like you know a lot. Be modest. Temper it down. Listen, listen, to what they’re telling you.”
3) I think Eli Manning speaks for all of us here. When Manning was asked what Odell Beckham Jr.
had missed while sitting out the Giants’ OTAs, he said: “Not much.” This time of year is more about getting new players acclimated, it seems. At one point during Wednesday’s minicamp, according to SNY’s Raph Vacchiano, the Giants ran a designed run play for Manning himself. “We’re really all wasting our time here now,” Vacchiano tweeted.
4) I’ll chime in on Beckham’s contract situation, too, because that seems like the fashionable thing to do now. I think Beckham should absolutely do everything he can to get a new deal as soon as possible. He should look to his former teammate Victor Cruz as a prime example. From 2011 to 2013, Cruz averaged 80 catches, 1,209 yards and eight touchdowns a year. The next offseason, he signed a five-year $45 million contract extension—and he’s lucky he did, because he suffered a torn patellar tendon the next season and has never been the same. Beckham, 24, is one of the brightest young stars in the game. His negotiating power may never be higher. He needs to take care of himself before he reaches a point in his career where his skills are diminishing and the team is forcing him to take a pay cut.
5) Speaking of which, I think Beckham should also take a look at what happened to DeAngelo Hall in Washington. The team just forced him to take a pay cut, and he had little leverage against it. Hall has played in only 17 games over the last three seasons due to injury, and he’s turning 34 this season. He would probably prefer not having to change teams or learn a new scheme this late in his career. In this case, the team held all of the power.
6) I think Eric Decker, who reportedly visited Tennessee on Wednesday, would make a lot of sense for the Titans. He’d give Marcus Mariota a solid, sure-handed No. 1 receiver, and take the pressure off rookie Corey Davis by allowing him a bit of time to ease into his role.
7) I live in New York, and I was walking near Madison Square Garden on Wednesday when I saw a giant video screen playing a Nike advertisement featuring Russell Wilson. How many NFL players have been featured on billboards in midtown Manhattan? I don’t know the answer, but I think that space is normally reserved for superstars. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and the like. Ads like this are why there are reportedly Seahawks defenders who have issue with the amount of credit Wilson receives for the teams over all success.
8) That said, Michael Bennett publicly backed his quarterback during an appearance on 710 ESPN radio in Seattle on Wednesday. “On a team with competitive people, there are going to be issues that are going to happen,” Bennett said. “There’s just a lot of alpha males running around, but everybody supports Russell Wilson. We can’t win a game without Russell Wilson. Russell Wilson is a top five quarterback in the NFL. We cannot win a game without a guy like that.” I think that’s a strong stance to take, coming from one of the defense’s leaders.
9)< The NBA Finals ended at around 11:30 p.m. ET on Monday night, and by 1:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, Lee Jenkins had a 3,400-word feature up on SI.com. I think it’s the best thing you’ll read coming out of these NBA Finals. Jenkins leads the story with the only anecdote that mattered in these finals. It’s a scene of Draymond Green, sitting at his locker after losing Game 7 last season, texting Kevin Durant and recruiting him to Golden State. According to Jenkins, Durant responded that night: “I’m ready. Let’s do this.”
10) One last non-football note. I think you should also read Alex Prewitt on the Penguins winning back-to-back Stanley Cups and what the win means for Sidney Crosby’s legacy. Like Jenkins, Prewitt leads with a scene from last year’s Stanley Cup final. Just after winning his second Cup, Crosby tells his trainer: “We’re not done. We’re going to get another.”
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