MMQB Mail (cont.)
POLITICS, POLITICS, POLITICS. Since so many of you wrote about this next topic -- well over 100 e-mails -- I'm going to give four of you the opportunity to vent.
From Dave Delmonico, of Chester, N.J.: "When are you going to learn not to [inject] your political preferences into your football columns? I know it's easy and in-fashion to take cheap shots at Sarah Palin but this isn't the NY Times or Bill Maher's show. I know you are probably going to reply that you were just repeating a good joke that you heard which referenced an NFL owner, but this one smacks of the 'Gore is the Bucs and Bush is the Vikings' gaffe you made several seasons ago. There's enough partisan nonsense floating around the mainstream media. I really don't want to read about it in here.''
From Terry Brady, of Mahwah, N.J.: "I'm very disappointed in that you did not keep your word. You stated that you were going to keep politics out of your column, however, within two weeks of that statement, you give a Chris Rock quote on McCain's VP candidate. Your faithful readers read your column to get away from the headline news for five minutes.''
From Mike, of New Orleans: "Oh my God! You promised NOT to talk politics this year! 2000 and 2004 were unbearable when you shilled for your Democratic losers.''
From Matt A., of Atlanta: "I suppose there's an argument that it's about the NFL since Al Davis is cited, but you'd be fooling yourself to believe that Al is the lone target of that great celebrity know-it-allism.''
Not sure what to think in retrospect. I thought an NFL audience would find it interesting, regardless of political leaning. If Chris Rock had made a comment about Barack Obama or Joe Biden, comparing either disparagingly to some NFL person, and it had been funny, I'd have run that too. It's a sign of our tense political times that I literally cannot use the P-word, or the O-word, in a column this fall without getting bombarded with reaction.
Just curious: No one out there found that funny? But OK, I've learned my lesson. I didn't make the original vow to never mention the name of a political figure this fall, only to not get involved in the political fray with my own opinions. But I will now vow for the rest of this calendar year to not mention a political person, race, result or cause.
YOU MEAN, WHO WOULD BE THE NEXT JIMMY JOHNSON? From Daniel Cayou, of Columbia, Mo.: "Looks like there is more Bill Cowher coming back talk. Seems to me if you are a coach with some personality and can get a TV gig, then that is the way to go. What current coaches would make good play-by-play guys and what coaches would be good studio analysts? My studio/commentator picks would be Jon Gruden, Jack Del Rio or Jim Haslett and my play-by-play guy (who could also make intelligent comments) would be Sean Payton or Mike Shanahan. Mike Holmgren would be interesting -- more a nice guy like Madden but may not have the same flair.''
Play-by-play picks, in order: Gruden, John Harbaugh, Zorn, Herman Edwards, Shanahan, Payton, Holmgren, Eric Mangini.
Studio picks, in order: Harbaugh, John Fox, Holmgren, Edwards, Gruden, Shanahan.
You don't know Harbaugh yet, but his personality will win you over in time. Very well-read, smart, likeable, opinionated without being a know-it-all.
FROM NATE, OF PANIC CITY. From Nate, of Minneapolis: "Did you see Gus Frerotte's timeout from our own two with four minutes left in the game and down by six? Instead of taking the delay of game, which would have been a one-yard penalty, this 'veteran QB' blew our last timeout at a vital point in the game. The season is over for the Vikings, so do you think we should let TJack develop for the rest of the year?"
"The season is over.'' Is that what you said? You're one game out of first with 12 games to play, and your next four opponents have won a combined four games, and your season is over? Nate, I know you're disappointed in your team, but come down off the ledge, sir.
Your point about Frerotte is a good one but not very significant, in my opinion. With four minutes to play, you're already going to be running the hurry-up offense, and that would give you plenty of time to execute a long drive. I do agree, however, that it would have been smarter to save the timeout.
INTERESTING PARITY POINT. From Andrew, of Los Angeles: "Regarding your assertion that we refuse to learn that there is turnover every year at the top of the NFL, I would argue that the expectation was there this year but that the experts bet on the wrong horses. Consensus teams to 'take the next step' included Minnesota, Cleveland and Houston (combined record: 2-9). Why were these teams singled out and teams like Buffalo and Tennessee overlooked?''
Tennessee was already a playoff team; most people looked for them to take a step back, but it's pretty hard when asked to pick the team to come out of nowhere in 2008 to choose a 2007 playoff team. That's not coming from nowhere. Regarding Buffalo, you're right; a lot of people missed on the Bills, the same way they missed on the Falcons in 1998, the Rams in 1999, the Giants and Ravens in 2000, the Pats in 2001, the Panthers in 2003, the Falcons in 2004, the Bengals and Bears in 2005, the Jets in 2006 and the Browns last year.
That's my point. Before the season, if I'm on a talk show and pick a ridiculously unlikely team to make it big, I get ridiculed. We all do in this business. But we should pick a ridiculously unlikely one every year, because one or two rise up every season.
IT'S SIMPLE. THEY PLAY PRETTY GOOD DEFENSE. From Eddie, of Jacksonville: "Why is everyone jumping on the Titans and Bills bandwagon? Sure the Titans defense is good, but look at the quality of opponents they have played. Titans opponents are a combined 3-12 and Bills opponents are a combined 4-11. Two wins from each of those teams belong to Jacksonville, so besides the Jags, neither of these teams have played anyone. I'm not buying it.''
The Bills have been a good comeback team but haven't been dominant, so I understand you being Eddie the Cynic. (Good e-mail address, by the way.) Re: Tennessee, they don't turn it over and they're giving up 11.5 points per game and they've got an electric playmaking runner in Chris Johnson. They'll be a major factor in the AFC Super Bowl race.
STEVE, THEY ALREADY KNOW WHAT I WROTE. From Steve, of San Diego: "Peter, I wanted to know if people in the NFL (players, coaches, GM's, etc) get mad at you for revealing a very juicy nugget of information such as the one you revealed this week where Derrick Brooks discovered that Green Bay's system hasn't changed even though they have a new quarterback. You basically gave every other team in the NFL a jump-start on how to approach their preparations for playing the Green Bay Packers.''
Teams are going to go back and break down at least four regular-season games per team, Steve. So thanks for the compliment, but I'm sure every team playing the Packers has come to the same conclusion -- and will continue to do so regardless who quarterbacks the Pack.
I JUST RAN OUT OF CLOCK. From Travis Liles, of Brooklyn: "One of my favorite things each Monday is to finish up MMQB with your run of non-football items. Very sad to not see this today.''
A few of you wrote to mention that, and the fact is I was late with my column Monday morning because I fell asleep for 2.5 hours Sunday night, and it was a fire drill getting it done by 8 a.m. ET, and a couple of things didn't make it this week. But here it is, the 11th Thing I Think I Think for the week:
a. A little disappointed in the premier of The Office. Late last season, I thought the show started to go a little too far (the craziness of Jan, e.g.), and I think the mini-departure of Pam to school in New York will take away one of the anchor interesting characters in the show. Jim has to marry her. If she falls for some artsy kid in Manhattan, it'll be just another episode from your basic TV Cliché 101 class.
b. One of the saddest days of the year is the day the baseball regular-season ends. I'm one of those sickos who loves a meaningless Oakland-Seattle September game. Love the minors too.
c. MVPs: Dustin Pedroia, Ryan Howard. Cy Youngs: Cliff Lee, Johan Santana. (I know about Lincecum's greatness. I also know Santana would have won 22 with half a bullpen.) Managers: Joe Maddon (second year in a row), Fredi Gonzalez.
d. All the geniuses who declared the college football season over after USC 35, Ohio State 3, raise your hands. OK, that thins two-thirds of everyone who watches the college game. Who's left?
e. Great job illustrating the diabetes aspect of the Jay Cutler story, Rachel Nichols. You're really good at your job.
f. Coffeenerdness: The next big thing for sports stadia simply has to be better coffee. Teams should take the hint from Qwest and Safeco in Seattle and understand that coffee is a money-maker, but bad coffee is a once-tried-and-never-go-back turnoff. Nothing specific here, but I usually like a cup of coffee (and I realize I'm in the minority on this one) in the seventh or eighth inning of a game, or in the second half of a football game, and I can count on one hand the times I went to the concession stand and got anything but a cup of coffee-flavored hot water. I'd rather have tea.
g. It's worth the price of admission to hear what Keith Olbermann says when we're not on the air at NBC.