Posted: Monday January 30, 2006 9:13AM; Updated: Monday January 30, 2006 12:40PM
It's widely believed that Jerome Bettis is playing his final game in Super Bowl XL. But could he return next season?
7. I think you should all know one thing about Bettis' future -- at least as I know it. Do not, and I repeat, do not assume that this will be his last game. He might consider playing in 2006 if one or more of the TV networks does not come through with a good gig. As Cris Collinsworth says, he's still such a great short-yardage back, why would he retire? He could have had an ESPN gig last offseason, but it wasn't what he wanted. If he gets one of the good chairs on TV -- at ESPN, NBC, CBS, FOX or HBO -- I say he goes. If not, you might not have seen the last of the big man.
8. I think it's time to praise this year's correct Super Bowl predictors. I know one of them: Reuben Frank, the Eagles' beat man from Burlington County (N.J.) and a contributor to SI.com who called Pittsburgh-Seattle back in August. "I just tried to find the deepest and most talented teams in each conference," he told me, "teams with sound offensive lines, balanced offenses, continuity and depth on defense, big-time coaches and smart, confident, rising quarterbacks. Bingo. Seahawks and Steelers.''
You beat the heck out of me, Roob. New England-Minnesota was my pick, which is why I'm not much of a Vegas expert.
9. I think the NFL Network really had no choice but to get some football of its own, which it did with the announcement (after Richard Sandomir of The New York Times broke the story on Saturday) that the Thursday-Saturday late-season package would be seen on the NFL's 24-hour channel. Trouble is, the channel isn't in enough homes right now, maybe 25 or 28 million.
The late-season games give the network a chance to go to cable systems and say: "You have to have us.'' And they'll get on, because no cable system will want the wrath of its subscribers who say: "We want the NFL!''
One other note: This is not good news for ESPN, which now has another competitor for pro football news and eyes, because the NFL Network will really do it right; not journalistically, necessarily, but content-wise. For instance, two weeks ago in Denver, Mike Shanahan allowed me to witness his night-before-the-game team meeting, and who accompanied me into the inner sanctum? Adam Schefter and his undercover crew for the network. These guys will be a factor and it'll dilute the day-to-day stuff ESPN does.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Saw Good Night, and Good Luck, on the bye weekend. Really liked it. Be honest with me, George Clooney: Did men really all smoke 13 packs a day back in the fifties?
b. Re: the Coco Crisp trade. A year ago, Crisp was Cleveland's fourth outfielder. He had a pretty good year. And now the Red Sox trade third baseman Andy Marte -- one of the top, say, 20 minor league prospects in baseball -- plus a reliever, Guillermo Mota, and $1 million, for Crisp. I think there's a reason Cleveland's Mark Shapiro is a great general manager.
c. I will have no patience for the rippers of Detroit this week.
d. If you see me not tipping big this week, please slap me in the face. Detroit needs us to be generous, people.
e. Coffeenerdness: I am going a little crazy with the green tea. First of all, it's good. It can be bought with or without caffeine. And some kinds have antioxidants. My favorite of the past week: Long Life brand organic with lemon grass and organic lemon peel. No, I'm not off the lattes. Definitely not. But Phil Simms has scared me into drinking the green tea, and I'm liking it.
f. If you see Laura King out in Los Angeles this week, please give her a just-had-her-wisdom-teeth-out hug. She'll be in a little bit of pain at work for a few days.
g. God help us all this week. I hear Radio Row at the Super Bowl is bigger than ever.
h. If you're still laughing at the Curb Your Enthusiasm rerun from Sunday night, you're not alone. It's the one where Larry David writes the obit for the dead aunt, only "aunt'' is misspelled, and Larry never hears the end of it. I can't be more specific than that about the misspelling of "aunt.''
i. Good luck, Michelle Kwan. But that spot belongs to Emily Hughes.