Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think, when it comes to contracts, we could have predicted that the teams at the very top of the draft wouldn't have held the line the way they all said they'd try to do this year. With the exception of Jake Long at No. 1 to Miami -- his deal had $2 million less is guarantees than last year's top pick, JaMarcus Russell, though it was one year less than Russell's six-year contract -- the second and third picks are significantly more than last year's deals. We knew Matt Ryan at No. 3 blew away every contract in 2007 because the Falcons felt they couldn't afford more bad news with the Bobby Petrino and Mike Vick black clouds overhead. With Sunday's news that defensive end Chris Long has signed with St. Louis, it's more evidence for those who say rookie contracts will never be made sane unless the league legislates a stricter salary scale for rookies. The numbers weren't in as of last night, but I hear Long got 16 percent more than last year's second-overall pick, Calvin Johnson, got in Detroit in his first five years. (As is the case with many of the top deals, Long has a sixth year, but it is voidable, meaning the best way to compare deals is to compare the years of the contract that are not voidable.) I'm told the deal is a couple of million below Jake Long's five-year, $50-million contract (incentives push Jake's deal to $57.5 million, but they're not a part of his base or bonuses), with very similar guaranteed money. That would put Chris Long's guarantees at around $29 million. Good deal for Chris Long. Eye-rolling deal, another one, to many GMs in the league.
2. I think when I hear a speed receiver like Jerry Porter has undergone "hamstring surgery'' 44 days before Jacksonville's opening game, and the surgery is expected to sideline him six to eight weeks, and the Jags say they fully expect Porter to be ready to start the season, I'm not believing it. If Porter's on the field Sept. 7, I'd be stunned if he's himself, at least to open the season.
3. I think Daunte Culpepper should sign with the Lions even if he's got to walk to Detroit. That's a place, one of the few left, he could be playing by Halloween.
4. I think, since someone wrote to ask about my training-camp trip, here's where I'll be over the next three weeks, starting Wednesday in Berea, Ohio (Browns), Ashburn, Va. (Redskins), Foxborough, Mass. (Pats), Albany, N.Y. (Giants), Bethlehem, Pa. (Eagles), Latrobe, Pa. (Steelers), Westminster, Md. (Ravens), Oxnard, Calif. (Cowboys), Orlando (Bucs), Jacksonville (Jags), Jackson, Miss. (Saints), Spartanburg, S.C. (Panthers), Terre Haute, Ind. (Colts), Green Bay (Packers), Mankato, Minn. (Vikings) ... and then, depending on developments, you never know.
5. I think I can't wait. For a couple of reasons. I think only 53 people in the United States know this, but going to these camps is not only revealing and interesting for the media, but fun and player-friendly (mostly) for fans who never get to reach out and touch NFL players. Go to Latrobe, for instance, and you're liable to run into Joe Greene or Hines Ward strolling campus at odd hours at St. Vincent College, on a campus that looks like a twin of the Scottish countryside. That's not the case at every place, but I can't tell you how many times I've been just hanging around camps after dinner or between practices and I run into a player I haven't seen in a while, or I introduce myself to someone I haven't met. I highly recommend a trip to the camp closest to you -- assuming they have open practices.
6. I think there's nothing new to report on the Favre-Packers story, even after his trip to Green Bay on Saturday to induct Frank Winters, his former center, into the Packer Hall of Fame. He didn't talk business there, out of respect to the Hall inductees, and the next move I believe is the Packers'. GM Ted Thompson has to decide if he's going to deal Favre, which I think will eventually be the best solution to the festering problem. Favre's going to have to accept -- and I think he will -- that he can't go to Minnesota, and then figure which team would be a match with what he wants and what the Packers are willing to do.
7. I think in the interest of full disclosure, I want to report that my daughter, Mary Beth King, has taken a PR internship with the Seattle Seahawks for the season. It's going to sound hollow to say I had nothing to do with it, but I didn't. She applied without telling me. New family rule: Mary Beth does not share conversations with Matt Hasselbeck or Mike Holmgren with her father.
8. I think it's nice for ESPN to give George Martin an ESPY in a special category honoring his walk across the United States to raise money for the respiratory illnesses for the first-responders to 9/11. Maybe I should leave it at that. But to win his award, Martin had to beat out, among others, Manny Ramirez for the time a few weeks ago when Ramirez high-fived a fan in Baltimore while making a catch near the outfield fence. Hmmm. Ramirez does another goofy thing. Martin raises $2.1 million for true American heroes by walking 3,003 miles in seven months. Yeah, those are comparable feats all right.
9. I think next week you'll all get to vote on the new categories in the column. Here's one last plea to keep the ideas coming. We got some good ideas last week, and I'd like some more. I'd love to add three new categories. It's going to be up to your vote -- unless I overrule you. Doubt I will, but there's a couple of things I really like that you've suggested thus far.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Just finished The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Really cute. Heard of it? It's a book about a very loyal dog (and who has a dog that isn't?) narrating the story of a family in Seattle that has its share of heartaches. We don't know dogdom, but to oversimplify, this is the best fictional guess I've ever read about what makes them wag their tails. Cool story.
b. Three people who took my advice and read Jason Peter's adventures-in-drugs-and-the-NFL book Hero of the Underground agreed, more or less, with me: It's a pretty harrowing, page-turning four or five hours well-spent. Great story. Take it to the beach. You won't be disappointed.
c. Come on. Whoever hijacked the Red Sox bullpen and subbed the relievers from the Bridgeport Bluefish, please return the real guys immediately. Before more heart attacks are registered.
d. Coffenerdness: The delays are sneaking back in, Seattle. In traveling a bit over the last month, I've noticed Starbucks employees devoting too much time to the sandwiches and the non-coffee rigamarole while a line of four or five of us wait too long for our drinks. Focus, Starbucks. Remember why we come in. Java.
e. I've started to write without the TV on and without the radio on. At 51, I can't believe how much easier it is to work without distractions -- distractions that never bothered me before.
f. If you see me in an airport or hotel or camp the next three weeks, stop me and tell me what you want in this column. OK, you can ask me your fantasy questions. But understand I'm the worst fantasy football player in history. If you don't know why, google "Peter King Danny Wuerffel.'' That nightmare of fantasy football lore must be out there somewhere.