Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think this is the final time I'll appeal to you on behalf of George Martin, the former New York Giants defensive end walking from New York to California to raise money and awareness for the mental and physical health problems that first-responders to the 9/11 terrorist attacks have suffered. But I wouldn't be doing it a second time if it weren't a matter of great importance to so many Americans we've chosen to forget.
When I walked 18 miles with the perpetually upbeat Martin for a piece for HBO's Inside the NFL show last December, he'd raised about $1.5 million of a $10 million goal (which he admitted was a little pie-in-the-skyish).
Last week when we touched base as Martin passed mile 2,650, west of Phoenix on his way to his final stop in San Diego, he seemed -- for the first time since I met him -- a little disillusioned. Not overwhelmingly so, but his mission has now raised about $1.8 million in cash and another $900,000 in goods and services. With all the positive press he's gotten, Martin thought he'd be beyond that by a long shot now.
"I've never wanted the journey to supersede the mission,'' he said by phone from the road. "I've wanted it to be about the emergency workers suffering some form of ailment from rushing to help at Ground Zero, people who can't get enough medical help from their health insurance and need further help. It's so crucial. It's perplexing. Maybe my goal was set too high, but I'm disappointed the response hasn't been as much as I'd hoped for.''
It's almost closing time. Martin is in the home stretch. If you've heard about this, and you've thought you'd contribute at some point soon -- soon is now. I'd love to see some of his former teammates step forward and either throw some money at the cause or get together to show support for Martin by urging the public to open wallets. Go to ajourneyfor911.org to contribute.
Realize this: Martin has given up nine months of his life to draw attention to the plight of people we called heroes, people who need help to breathe now. It's time to support them.
2. I think the most interesting angle on the explosion of Spygate news came from Braylon Edwards, the Cleveland wide receiver. "If this wasn't New England, it wouldn't be that big of a deal,'' Edwards said. "If this had happened in Cleveland, it'd be a story, but not a big one.''
True. If a team did it that hadn't won three Super Bowls, and the team was struggling to get to .500, we'd be excoriating the perpetrator but not making a CBS Evening News story out of it, or making Arlen Specter get all excited about it.
3. I think, by the way, I don't fault Specter for yelling about wanting to keep football pure. There's never anything wrong with a good watchdog, particularly a 78-year-old one fighting cancer and undergoing chemotherapy. And though I think he's barking up the wrong tree about football possibly not being on the level, it's good that the NFL knows there's somebody in Washington looking at the league with a jaundiced eye. Keeps 'em honest.
4. I think the worst-kept secret in the NFL is that Indianapolis will get the 2012 Super Bowl when owners meet in Atlanta this week. Indy deserves it. The city lost the 2011 game to Dallas, 17 votes to 15, and there's always been a strong feeling toward new stadiums in cities that have enough hotel rooms and are weatherproof. All domed stadiums in northern cities eventually get one Super Bowl. It happened at the Metrodome, the Silverdome and Ford Field, and the Colts are in line to get the first one ever played in Indiana.
5. I think whether the owners opt out of the current bargaining now or wait 'til later in the year is irrelevant. The deal is going down, and the owners and players need to find some common ground that will allow NFLPA boss Gene Upshaw to go to his players and say he's still giving them 60 percent of every dime the league makes.
6. I think it's a rotten week for newspapers. Really rotten, and not just because of the horrendous mistake by the Boston Herald.
One of the reasons I've always been such an avid newspaper person is because of writers like Tony Kornheiser. He's terrific on Pardon the Interruption, but he'll never, ever be better at anything than writing a newspaper column.
Last week, he took a buyout from his paper, the Washington Post, which, even though he hasn't been writing for the paper recently because of his TV commitments, is another nail in the coffin of the fishwrappers some of us still spend breakfast and commutes with.
I called Kornheiser, who told me he could still make a deal with the Post to allow him to write occasionally for the paper. But he was fairly fatalistic about the industry. "Newspapers aren't dying,'' he said. "They're dead. But was it a sad day when the guys who made the great buggywhips and the beautiful classic carriages saw the first cars rolling off the assembly line? No. It was progress.''
I'll disagree, in this vein: The morning won't be the morning for me without a paper with my Cheerios. But his point is valid. We're just getting the news delivered in a different way. Kornheiser is like me -- a 'net devotee. As long as there are good reporters working out here, he thinks all is not lost.
"What would be terrible is if we didn't have good reporters still out there," he said. "I fear more that reporters who do the persistent grunt work may not be there. I'm a yodeler who does skeet-shooting. I need stories to respond to.''
The yodeling is fine. Someone's got to find a way to get Kornheiser back to writing, too. He's too good for us not to have the chance to read him occasionally.
7. I think if Jason Taylor thought his relationship with Bill Parcells was frosty now, wait 'til Parcells hears Sunday's ESPN interview, in which Taylor says he hopes in 10 years he's known more for his acting than he was as a football player.
8. I think if I were Charlie Weis, I wouldn't know what to say about Spygate either. He doesn't want to lie, not as the Notre Dame coach. And so he doesn't want to discredit a story he knows to be true, if it is. Interesting spot he's in, but if I'm the Irish, his silence wouldn't exactly be comforting to me.
9. I think I give credit to John Tomase for standing up and admitting a grievous error, the misreporting of the story on the videotaping of the Rams' practice before the Super Bowl six years ago. When you write the story of your life, and it's wrong, you've got to stand up and throw yourself on the mercy of the press and the public.
If I were in his shoes, I'd do exactly what he's doing -- doing whatever he can to earn back the public's trust, one day at a time -- and I'd add one thing: I'd speak to as many journalism classes as I could in New England, driving home the point that on a story that big, you've got to be more than 98 percent sure it's right. You've got to be 100 percent sure.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Don't read on if you've not seen the last episode of The Office for the year.
b. I bet the Brewers were really glad to get on that charter out of Boston. Three losses in 24 hours, and the stark realization that they're never going to contend with that pitching staff -- and Eric Gagne never even got into one of the games to be able to make up for his last two months of 2007 in Boston. Not that he would have anyway. Amazing stat of the week in baseball: Gagne has allowed 16 baserunners in his last four appearances.
c. The Yankees can't be as bad as they look. Just can't be.
d. How did I ever drive very long distances before without satellite radio? I work for Sirius now, so I'll issue that disclaimer here. But being able to hear real radio while driving through the Catskills is a treat. If any of you've had to make long drives trying to hear anything worth listening to, you know what I mean.
e. The writers for The Office got two mulligans for a couple of anti-Michael Scott episodes. All is forgiven. Michael's selfish and quasi-innocent weirdness was back on full display in the finale, and Jan even was a real person instead of the freakazoid she was in the dinner-party episode. They've obviously left a couple of danglers for next seasons, including the silly non-proposal from Jim to Pam. And Schrute. Brilliant ending. Just brilliant, with the Angela affair. My one quibble: Angela would never marry twerpish Andy. Why would such an improbable thing be written into the show?
f. One question for all of us living in the Northeast: Is there going to be spring this year?
g. First trip to Colgate, April 7, 2004: It snowed sideways. Last trip, perhaps, to Colgate, May 18, 2008: 47 degrees, steady rain, cold enough to see your breath. The graduates just wanted to get out of there. As did the parents. The weather sure doesn't make the place beloved.
h. I'm 50. I've got two college-graduate daughters. That's the kind of thing that makes you take stock.