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Monday Morning QB (cont.)

Posted: Monday June 20, 2005 10:07AM; Updated: Tuesday June 21, 2005 12:19AM
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TEN THINGS I THINK I THINK

1. I think this is why making predictions is dangerous: While working on an SI story, I walked into the office of Baltimore coach Brian Billick the other day, and the first thing he said was: "I don't know why you're wasting time with us. We're not even going to the playoffs this year.'' A couple of minutes later, in came GM Ozzie Newsome. "You mean the Patriots let you come down to see another team?'' he says. Ouch. You may recall I picked the Steelers to win the AFC North, and the Ravens to miss out on a wild card behind Buffalo and Indy. I guess they fire up the Internet in Ravensville.

2. I think if more coaches were as open and as illuminating about football as Billick, this would be a more enjoyable sport to cover, and you'd know a lot more about it. Yes, he often comes off as a cocky, look-at-me type, and there's plenty of that in him. But he's also a guy his assistants appreciate. Case in point: We were talking about a specific offensive play the other day, and how it is taught and what each player does, and Billick knew I was going to write about it. He said: "You should talk to Jim about it. He can give you everything you need, and he's the one teaching it.'' Jim Fassel, he meant. Offensive coordinator. Billick knows helping his offensive coordinator look like a maestro could help Fassel get another head-coaching chance, and Billick also knows every little bit of exposure helps. Last thing: When Billick retires, he should teach.

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3. I think it's going to be interesting to read John Feinstein's take on the 2004 Ravens. Until this week, I didn't know he'd been embedded with the team last season. All-access, from what I hear. I'll be eager to read about the new owner, Steve Bisciotti, and his relationship with Billick, which was occasionally rocky last year. Feinstein's good on everything, so this one, out this fall, I'm sure will be an educational book for real football folks.

4. I think if I were a Jets fan, I'd be hugely ticked off at the owner right now. Woody Johnson couldn't get his Manhattan stadium built, and now appears to be deep into negotiations with the Giants to share the new football stadium they are plotting in the Meadowlands. Fine, I guess. But why wouldn't Johnson rather have his own stadium in Queens, closer to the team's largest fan base? I'm not saying such a facility is needed. But I am saying it's ridiculous to lose out on one stadium, and then refuse to build anywhere else in New York city -- particularly at a time when city fathers are in a stadium-friendly mood. The Jets are always bitching about having to share a venue with the more-popular Giants, and now, when they have a chance to have their own place, they shun it and appear to be marrying the Giants again. I will never understand that.

5. I think one of the most interesting player investments I've heard of came across my desk my desk the other day. Ty Law has a stake in the new Ritz-Carlton Hotel on the Caribbean island of Turks and Caicos.

6. I think it was interesting to watch Chiefs third-round pick Dustin Colquitt, the punter, sky some kicks to Darren Bennett levels the other day. Interesting because he's a left-footed punter, and he puts some weird sort of English on the ball. When you combine 5.0-second hang times with a screwball-type of effect, the ball can be pretty hard to catch. On consecutive punts, Eddie Kennison dropped one and Dante Hall had to lunge awkwardly to catch one a few inches off the ground. Could be a big weapon there.

7. I think whether it's after this year (more likely) or next year (less likely), Dick Vermeil will be coaching his last football season soon. And he left no doubt with me that he wants offensive coordinator Al Saunders to succeed him atop the Chiefs. Weird how Saunders can't get a sniff out there for a coaching job, especially given the incredible job he's done with players drafted far down the line or not at all (Trent Green, Priest Holmes, Brian Waters, Tony Richardson). The Chiefs would be lucky to have him succeed Vermeil.

8. I think NBC hiring John Madden was inevitable. Can't get much more high-profile than Bob Costas on the pregame and Madden during the game, if that's how it falls.

9. I think the Falcons won't cut Peerless Price. At least that's what Jim Mora tells me. Now, it sounded like Price might cut himself if he has a lousy summer, but I don't see that happening. Price will have one more chance to be what Alge Crumpler has become in the Falcons offense -- a security blanket for Mike Vick.

10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:

a. I am rolling my eyes about the Michael Jackson verdict, but I suppose it's true that the prosecution did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Jackson did all these heinous things. I'll just say this: "Michael Jackson Acquitted'' was a lot better headline the other day than "Michael Jackson Not Guilty,'' if you know what I mean. And I'll also say I hope -- I pray -- that Donovan McNabb doesn't do that silly moonwalk after any more touchdowns. Paying tribute to a man who admits having sleepovers with young boys in his bed, to me, is worse than the throat-slashing gesture the NFL banned a few years back.

b. I'm more interested in the NHL settling its strike and getting ready for a full season than in the NBA Finals. I've seen exactly zero minutes of that.

c. Is Larry Brown still Detroit's coach? I guess that depends what day you're reading this.

d. Coffeenerdness: Advice to Java Coast in the Detroit Metro Airport: If you're going to sell French Roast coffee, be sure it is actually French Roast coffee, and not watered-down, weak-kneed brownish liquid that smells a little bit like coffee, but beyond that bears no resemblance whatsoever to real French Roast.

e. Oliver Perez-Randy Johnson, interleague, Thursday night, Yankee Stadium. Tomorrow's Randy Johnson versus today's Randy Johnson, or so I thought. Except there must be something wrong with Perez. He got lit up.

f. House reruns are still better than 90 percent of whatever else is on TV.

g. Happy belated Father's Day, all. I spent it in about as Americana a way as possible -- playing a leaky first base for the Tinga Tacos of the local men's softball league in the morning, watching the Red Sox' Matt Clement in the afternoon against those pesky interleague Pirates -- and grilling some vegetables and meat in the evening. Nothing wrong with that.


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