Posted: Monday May 29, 2006 7:49AM; Updated: Wednesday May 31, 2006 11:47AM
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think the one thing I'll always remember about Ironhead Heyward, who died of cancer over the weekend at 39, is how honest he was with the press. I always got a straight answer from him, even in some tough times. I'll miss him.
2. I think I said something to my bride the other night that I never thought I'd say about a New York Yankee. As many of you may have divined from this column over the years, that's not my favorite franchise on earth. Anyway, I said to her: I'm not sure about this, but I think when Derek Jeter retires, I will say he's the best baseball player I ever saw.
Living in Jersey, I see the man come to bat maybe 300 times a season, and I watch him in the field maybe 40 percent of his innings. But Jeter personifies effort every time he puts on the uniform; there is never anything but 100 percent effort. Every at-bat is quality. Every ball hit to him, and some only close to him, are gobbled up with certainty. And the way he carries himself ... He is baseball's Tiger Woods. He is this Yankee generation's DiMaggio. And I think he'll go down as better than Mantle, because though Mantle was truly great, he also squandered much of his ability through wild living.
3. I think with this being the month of graduations all over the country, I'd like to give a nod to Derrick Brooks, the good-guy Tampa Bay linebacker who long ago put his money where his principles were. Brooks for years has been taking underprivileged kids and showing them there's a different side to life -- an educated side. He started taking adolescents on college tours and to places like Washington, D.C., and Africa, just to show them the world and to let them know there was a chance for them to become intelligent, contributing members to society. So this month, the first "Brooks Bunch'' graduate walked down the aisle at Florida State -- Natasha Spencer. She had gone on Brooks Bunch trips to Atlanta, Washington, D.C., the first Africa visit in 1997 and a trip to see the western United States. She graduated Florida State with a 3.6 GPA and plans to go overseas for a medical mission before pursuing medical school. Hearty congratulations to Brooks and to his protégé.
4. I think it's interesting to note the reaction to Rod Marinelli toughening things up with the Lions. Good for him. Very good for him. It's something that had to be done. If Dan Wilkinson -- still a good, contributing player -- is not going to buy into the new guy, well, he's got to be whacked. That's just how it is. And if some player is going to squeal to the union that "voluntary'' workouts are too tough, soon enough Marinelli will find out who it was and he'll be gone too, I suspect. Not that any team should be allowed to practice illegally in the off-season, but if you're a new coach installing a new program after a soft regime, you've got to leave some bodies in the road on the way to success.
5. I think, if you ask me, Fred Smoot and Bryant McKinnie got off pretty easy, plea-bargaining to 48 hours of community service and $2,000 fines for their roles in the Viking sex boat cruise. Cops must not have been able to pin much to them to go this lightly in a case where sex acts were performed in the open in front of innocent hired help. Lucky guys, if you ask me.
6. I think the latest name I hear connected with the commissioner search is Dan Doctoroff, deputy mayor of New York City and the head of the city's failed bid to get the 2012 Summer Olympics. Smart guy, well-connected, very smooth, politically savvy. Never met the man, but I wish the owners would hurry up and realize the best man for the job is already in-house -- Roger Goodell.
7. I think, out of respect to Kansas City owner Lamar Hunt (and it's hard to have more respect for anyone as I do this rich everyman), I won't guffaw at his attempt to construct a $202-million "rolling roof''' for use over Arrowhead Stadium and neighboring Kauffman Stadium, which would have made it possible to play a Super Bowl in Kansas City. To ask taxpayers for $170 million of that was an unreasonable burden on a community already ponying up to modernize Arrowhead and Kauffman. Too many times I've seen cities fall in love with the concept of having a Super Bowl in town. To spend that much money for a Super Bowl -- and, granted, to make other big events more possible -- is not a wise use of taxpayer money.
8. I think, to echo my previous sentiments, it's idiotic for the NFL to not allow Reggie Bush to wear number 5 ... and for the league to put prohibitions on who can wear what jersey number.
9. I think what disturbs me a little more right now about the Bush jersey saga is the settlement he reached with Fred McAfee.
I like Bush's spirit and that he wants to help victims of Katrina so readily. Earlier he had agreed to take 25 percent of the money from his jersey sales, regardless of the number he wore, and donate it to Katrina relief. But in order to get number 25, his new number, Bush agreed to give half of the aforementioned 25 percent to McAfee, who previously wore number 25 for the Saints. That means if Bush makes $350,000 in jersey sales, he'll be donating $43,750 to Katrina relief, not $87,500. That strikes me as a bad deal.
Bush bargained away money he'd previously promised to give to Katrina victims. He's already doing a lot of things to help in New Orleans -- I hear he's going to get his sponsors to resurface an invaluable high school field in the city with Field Turf, which will be a huge plus for the re-establishment of high school in the area -- but that's not the point. The point is, he said he'd give 25 percent and now he's giving 12.5 percent. Not right.
One other point: If McAfee were giving all of his proceeds to hurricane and flood victims, I'd say no harm, no foul. But he's not. He's giving some to his college, some to his high school and probably some to hurricane relief. Bush needs to make this right, in my opinion, and give back the other 12.5 percent he planned to donate.
The ironic thing in all of this Bush stuff is that, truth be told, he'd rather be number 28. Marshall Faulk's number. But since Michael Bennett wears 28, and he hasn't been traded yet, and he might not be until August, the team had to give Bush a number now, and 25 was a good compromise -- 5' was his old number, 2 the spot he was picked in the draft.