Posted: Monday April 7, 2008 1:51AM; Updated: Thursday April 10, 2008 11:31AM
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think there are a couple of things about the Brett Favre story of the last few days we all ought to have clear here. One: Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times is a very good reporter, one whom all of us on the NFL beat respect. He's far from being criticized in any corner for his story that a representative of Favre's was feeling out possible NFL gigs if Favre decided to return to the NFL. I think Farmer deserves credit for sniffing it out.
Favre and his agent, Bus Cook, have a suppose-this-ever-happened kind of relationship, so it wouldn't shock me if Favre, in some conversation with him, said there was some very slight chance he might want to play again. I don't know that; I'm just saying it's possible. And as Favre said when he retired, "Bus is a lot like my dad. Sometimes he says things he probably shouldn't have.''
Two: I talked to Favre for 20 minutes Friday, and he's content, as his wife, Deanna, says, to be married to his 465-acre spread in Hattiesburg and work the land. He doesn't want to work out, he doesn't want to think about the mental energy it would take to play again. Will he change his mind? I doubt it. When Favre retired, I would have said I'm 98-percent sure he'll never play again. Now I'd put the percentage at 93. I still can't see him doing it, but I suppose I have my eyes open.
2. I think this is the scene at the NFL meetings that few who saw it will soon forget. Agent Drew Rosenhaus, who is trying to engineer a hostile takeover of Chad Johnson's status with the Cincinnati Bengals and force a trade, was in close conversation with Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis. Rosenhaus was gesturing and speaking quickly while Lewis stood straight up, arms folded across his chest, looking stern and mostly saying nothing. It went on for a few minutes, and Lewis kept his arms folded with a stone face.
It's obvious that Rosenhaus was saying something to the effect of, Marvin, come on. You know the guy's not coming back, and you know you can wangle a low first-round pick for Chad from someone like Dallas. And you know Lewis' body language was saying, Forget you, Drew. Chad's not going anywhere.
Lewis is on the record regarding Chad: "It's unfortunate that he's put himself in this situation," the coach said, "because a lot of people who really had affection for him now see him in a different light.''
I still say Johnson's gone, but not until late in the preseason, when the Bengals will tire of the headache and dump him to the highest bidder.
3. I think it is good to see the Patriots back in the fold with the NFL owners and coaches. At the meetings, New England owner Bob Kraft got a nice hand when he talked about the league being a partnership, and he'd never want to do anything the rest of the owners would view as something unsportsmanlike or unfair.
I give Bill Belichick credit for showing up and facing the music of the press and his peers and issuing an explanation (not an apology, but an explanation) following Kraft's speech, claiming again that he misinterpreted the rule that a team could not videotape anything on the field during games. He claimed he thought he was allowed to tape opposing defensive signals as long as nothing from the tapes was used in that game.
"I interpreted it as you couldn't use it during the game, that current game, which was never done. I've never done that. Whatever was used was used for the future,'' Belichick told reporters. And he said his interpretation of the rule didn't change after NFL vice president Ray Anderson sent a memo to all teams reiterating the no-videotaping rule in September 2006. He said when he saw the Anderson memo, "I should have called the league and asked for a clarification of it. But when I did re-read that rule, I still interpreted it, obviously incorrectly, that as long as it wasn't used in that game, that it was OK."
Not to beat a dead controversy, but I don't buy Belichick's explanation. Never will. Let me point out the exact wording in the Anderson memo: "Videotaping of any type, including but not limited to taping of an opponent's offensive or defensive signals, is prohibited on the sidelines, in the coaches' booth, in the locker room, or at any other locations accessible to club staff members during the game.''
How is it possible that one of the smartest men in his field -- in any field, really -- could possibly misinterpret Anderson's crystal-clear words?
4. I think we need to let Matt Leinart live his life and not freak out when photos show up of him in a hot tub with four bikini-clad girls. Tell me something: What's wrong with a very eligible bachelor hanging out with attractive girls (apparently very much of age) in a hot tub some night early in the offseason? I heard a TV person call the photos "disturbing.'' Why is it bad for Leinart to be photographed with four pretty girls in a hot tub, doing nothing but smiling for the camera?
Now, I guess it's not the best image to have Leinart, in another photo, delivering a beer to a girl in one of those college funnel-type apparatuses, but again, tell me what there is to be outraged about? Is there proof that any of them are 17? Nineteen? And to be outraged that, say, a 20-year-old college junior (if this even were the case) is in a hot tub with a professional quarterback ... it's silly. Just silly.
We have paparazzi-type Web sites devoted to taking these pictures and promoting public outrage over something I find totally non-outrageous. It's a sad commentary on the way we live that we're spending hand-wringing indignation over this while 9,000 more serious things are going wrong in our society. I like what Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune said about it. "How do we know Leinart wasn't at the Cardinals' facility all day, working out, watching film, meeting with coaches, etc. We don't. But we're more than happy to jump to conclusions based on a few photos.''
5. I think these are a few quick NFL thoughts coming out of the meetings:
a. The 2012 Super Bowl will be in Indianapolis, Houston or Arizona. My money's on Indy. The league always gives one Super Bowl to a new domed stadium in a northern city. You'll be pleasantly surprised by Indianapolis. It's not the podunk place it was 20 years ago. Next three big games: Tampa, Miami, Dallas.
b. Three teams, in an informal raise-your-hand straw vote, said they favored the league's proposal on playoff re-seeding. That's what you call an idea whose time has not come.
c. John Harbaugh's a really impressive man. So impressive that I hear Jonathan Ogden is having some fleeting thoughts about playing in 2008. I'm not saying anything other than he's thinking about it, but that's more than he was doing two months ago, when he was certain he'd retire.
d. Carolina expects defensive end Mike Rucker to retire. So do I.
e. Go to the Middle East this summer, commissioner. Bring a couple of big-name players, Ask Tom Coughlin to go; he would be the best ambassador of anyone in the United States right now to pump up the men and women of our military -- and you just might be able to convince him to go with you. One more thing: You'll think you're doing a good deed for the troops, but you'll say to yourself on the way home: "That's one of the most interesting and enriching experiences of my life.''
f. When the NFL re-did its logo a year ago, it put eight stars on the modernized shield, one for each division. There's supposed to be pride in winning a division title. One of the reasons a revised playoff format was shot down is that it devalued the reward for winning a division. Theoretically, two teams could win a division by going 9-7 and two others in the same conference could win wild cards by going 10-6 or 11-5. Under the proposed system, that would have had the two wild cards hosting the division champs. Imagine a third-place team in one division hosting a division champ in a first-round playoff game.