Posted: Monday February 25, 2008 9:02AM; Updated: Monday February 25, 2008 2:22PM
Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week
An elderly man, a farter, maybe 68, fell asleep across the aisle from me Sunday night on the Continental minibus in the sky from Indy to Newark, and he began snoring. (I hate these suffocating little jets, and it seems that's almost all you fly if you're going 1,000 miles or less these days.) Lucky Ray Rice, by the way. The Rutgers running back was way in back and didn't have to put up with the elderly farter's snoring and aroma.
If you've been in this situation -- and what traveler except George Bush hasn't -- you realize how trapped you are. If you get up to try to escape it, you can't stand straight up because the aisle is made for Kenyan marathoners, narrow with a low-ceiling. So do you accidentally bump the gentleman and wake him up? No. You just sit there, endure, and kiss the jet bridge when Continental finally sets you free.
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think Atlanta has to take Matt Ryan with the third-overall pick unless the Falcons fall in love with Joe Flacco and think they can get him early in round two. I met both guys this weekend. Ryan's in the driver's seat, and he probably won't blow his top-10 status unless he stinks in his campus Pro Day on March 18. Flacco's confident. Extremely confident. And he can really sling it. You could see on the NFL Network feed how confident he began looking as he threw next to his more famous peers and out-gunned them. Atlanta picks 37th in round two, and Flacco may not be there then. Interesting dilemma for the Falcons.
2. I think it looks like the Browns will get quarterback Derek Anderson's contract done this week, but there's still the matter of Anderson accepting a lesser term, which means less guaranteed money. With Brady Quinn behind him, Anderson loses his leverage for a long deal. "There are some quarterbacks out there in recent history who got six-year deals, and we're trying to do something a little bit unique,'' said Cleveland GM Phil Savage. "In our situation, because of the makeup of our team right now, we feel like a three-year agreement is one that would work for both sides because Derek is 24 years old. He could play three years and then potentially hit free agency again where the money could be $70 or $80 million.''
3. I think, speaking of the Browns, that there's something not quite right about Kellen Winslow sniffing around for a new deal with three years left on his contract. Didn't the Browns pay him every dime when he was down with serious leg injuries after a 2005 motorcycle accident? I'm not saying he ought to be bowing to the organization forever, but he's been a Brown for four years. For the first two, he gave the Browns five catches, total. For the last two, he's been outstanding -- 171 catches and high impact. See the new set of problems you have when you actually win a few games?
4. I think the position group that shone the most over the weekend was running back. Indianapolis president Bill Polian called it "clearly the strongest position'' he's seen here. Arkansas running back Darren McFadden, at 211 pounds, solidified his status as this year's Adrian Peterson with a 4.33-second 40-yard-dash time, and he could be followed in the top half of round 1 by Illinois' Rashard Mendenhall, Oregon's Jonathan Stewart and Felix Jones of Arkansas. Watch for Chris Johnson, who burned the skill-position field over the weekend. He ran a 4.24-second 40, one of the fastest by a running back in combine history.
5. I think it's unanimous: No club official I talked with all weekend thought the Dolphins had a prayer of being able to trade the top pick. Too pricey. No obvious pick. I'm still feeling Chris Long first overall to the Fish.
6. I think the Colts have no regrets about dealing their 2008 first-rounder last year so they could pick left-tackle-of-the-future Tony Ugoh. Nor should they. "He's better than the 29th player in the draft would have been for us this year,'' Polian said.
And as long as we're talking about Indy, I hope Indianapolis gets the 2012 Super Bowl ... and this from a guy who wishes every Super Bowl were played in San Diego. Indy deserves it. It's the most walkable downtown in America.
7. I think the Rams have a tough call. They can't go wrong, at number two, picking either the franchise tackle (Jake Long) or interior defensive force (Glenn Dorsey) if Miami goes with Chris Long. Mike Mayock, the NFL Network analyst, had a great point Sunday night about Jake Long. He thinks Long fits best at right tackle in the NFL because he doesn't have the quick feet of last year's third overall pick, Joe Thomas of Cleveland. But Long is a better drive-blocker than Thomas.
8. I think I have no idea how you could be optimistic being a Raider fan right now.
9. I think the Patriots would have been taking more of a risk franchising Randy Moss than by not franchising him, which is what they did. Here's why: You don't pressure Randy Moss. You don't tell Randy Moss, Here's what you're making in 2008, unless you sign a long-term deal to our liking. You give him the chance to breathe a little bit after the season, and you give him the freedom to do what he wants to do, and you think -- correctly, I think -- that he'll take a little less and do a short-term (three years, maybe) deal that both sides can live with.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. The Conrad Hotel in Indy is a hidden gem downtown. Huge flat screens in the rooms. John McCain was there the other day, a few minutes after I checked in, for a fund-raiser. He knows how to pick the good hotels, I guess.
b. Coffeenerdness: For years, Jillian's has been our sports bar of choice in downtown Indy. Huge TVs, fun place, good staff. All those are still true. But the coffee. Wow. That's some awful swill. I might be the only sportswriter on the planet who wants a good cup of coffee after beers, chips, salsa, more chips and more salsa and dinner, but I can't change my stripes now. And the coffee-flavored water there ... Sheesh. At least make an effort.
c. We'll miss you in Afghanistan, Josh Cribbs.
d. What was the bigger upset? Giants over Pats? Or No Country for Old Men over There Will Be Blood?
e. I simply have to see Juno. Too many people tell me too many great things about it.
f. Congrats on the contract extension, Terry Francona. Now all you have to do is go win the World Series again. Nothing to it.
g. And while I'm at it, congrats to a good friend and superb broadcaster, Dale Arnold, for his appointment to the Red Sox radio network team. Great pipes, and a better guy.
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