6. I think I wish CBS the best in keeping Inside the NFL a great show, and I believe the network will do a great job. I'm not just blowing smoke either; I look forward to the jousts between Cris Collinsworth and Phil Simms, who will rise to the occasion with a good provocateur like Collinsworth leading interesting midweek discussions on the issues around the league.
But I think CBS made a major mistake in not including Dan Marino in the cast. As someone who worked with Marino for six years on the HBO Inside the NFL show, I saw the magnetism he brought to the show every week, and I saw when we went in the field how much the public worshipped the guy. I listened with respect to the opinions he voiced on offensive football and quarterback play that were right on the money; he's been railing, correctly, over the years, about Donovan McNabb not being in the shotgun, and how much it has hurt the Eagle offense, and he's so right. I do understand the reticence to have the two-white-quarterbacks-on-the-set thing, but Marino is synonymous with the show, and I think the public will miss him greatly on Showtime.
7. I think the Steelers would not be the same without Dan Rooney running the show. Not even close. I hope the family finds a way to make all the siblings happy so the Dan Rooney-Art Rooney II tandem can continue to run the franchise day-to-day. When something's not broken, you don't fix it. Putting Mark Cuban in the mix there isn't necessary. Now, putting him in Cub ownership, that's a different story. What a plus he'd be there.
8. I think it's easy for Wayne Weaver, the Frontiere heirs and the Wilson family to say their teams are not for sale. Technically, they might not be. But the real question is, "If you got 20 percent more than the current value of your team, would you sell?'' And I can tell you that at least one or two of the Jags, Rams and Bills would if that were the case.
9. I think somewhere this morning my good friend Sam Farmer is nodding, laughing and saying, "I told you so.'' Remember when Farmer, the NFL writer for the Los Angeles Times, wrote that the agent for Brett Favre was scouting out places for him to make a comeback, and Farmer was roundly criticized for a baseless story? Good job, Sammy.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts from my time off:
a. There was way, way too much sympathy for Willie Randolph when he was fired. When you field the highest-salaried team in the National League, and you're three games below .500 in your final 13 months on the job, you deserve every bit the whacking you get.
b. If there's something more stupid in sports than allowing fans to vote thousands of times for the baseball all-star game, I don't know what it is. It became a matter of civic pride to get Evan Longoria (who deserved it, I might add) into the summer classic, and so the good people of Tampa Bay were asked to vote over and over for Longoria online so he could be the final member of the AL team. In the National League, one guy estimated he voted 70,000 times for Pat Burrell. Fix the sham-mockery, Bud.
c. Coffeenerdness: I've been feeling the Starbucks trouble ever since the third, fourth, fifth and sixth stores (the last two this year) within four miles of my house opened. Whose idea was that? I mean, we're a pretty populous suburban region here, 12 miles west of the Meadowlands, but there's no reason to have six Starbucks that close to each other. So I wasn't surprised to see the news that 600 stores nationwide were closing. You went too far, Seattle.
d. We all should visit Oregon.
e. Flying over Mount Hood might be the second-most awe-inspiring sight I've ever seen in the United States, next to Bryce Canyon. Ever been to Bryce? If you haven't, go there, and if you don't say it's the most surreal sight you've seen in the country I'll be surprised.
f. I ask all of you out there who have whatever agendas you have to please allow the presidential race to be decided on the issues, not on the myriad other phony things (like the silly Obama's-a-Muslim stuff) starting to crop up.
g. Saw August: Osage County on Broadway. C-plus. No play should last three hours and 21 minutes, first of all. No play should be as abjectly miserable with such desperately unhappy people, second of all. Coolest part of the play: seeing the Native American co-star from "The Cigar Store Indian'' episode on Seinfeld. (One of the best episodes ever, by the way.) Remember Jerry's crush on Winona? There she was, as the housekeeper and cook for this screwed-up family, the only normal person in the play. She was used far too little.
h. Len Pasquarelli, we haven't forgotten you. Looking forward to seeing you soon on the camp trail or somewhere you should be -- in the middle of the NFL action -- but only as long as you're healthy enough to be there. I miss reading you on every NFL issue of note.