Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week
I can only deduce that there are too many cars in the United States after a maddening two-hour stretch Saturday afternoon on I-95 between New Haven and New York City. No big event. No big accident. No big anything. For 120 minutes, we'd drive 45 mph, then slow to 10, then increase to 65, then slow to a stop. I read somewhere recently that the number of cars in the United States has doubled since 1980, and driving on the East Coast for the past 23 years, I absolutely, totally buy it.
Good Guy of the Week
Rod Marinelli, coach, Detroit. What we ask from the people who coach our teams and our kids is responsibility. If you're in charge and the ship sinks, go down with the ship, and don't throw people overboard.
Coaches around the country should watch Marinelli to see how to handle adversity. (Actually, you won't have much of a chance to see it anymore because the Lions will surely fire Marinelli in the next few days. That's what happens when you go 0-16.) After the Lions fell to 0-16 Sunday, I asked kicker Jason Hanson how Marinelli handled the team, and the loss, afterward. I figured Hanson would be a good barometer, seeing he's seen so much in Detroit, and he's been the kicker for this team since Ford made the Festiva. Running back Kevin Smith was 5 when Hanson first booted for the Lions.
"The room got very quiet,'' Hanson said after the Lions lost 31-21 to Green Bay to complete the worst season an NFL team has ever had. "Rod is a very good man. He thanked us for fighting to the end. But he said to us, 'This is us. We own this. We did this. So man up.' ''
Man up. As distasteful as this horrible season was, Marinelli never hid or tried to put the responsibility on someone else. Though Jim Colletto was ill-suited for the offensive coordinator's job -- Colletto didn't like quarterback Jon Kitna, which was fine, except that the Lions had no other remotely hopeful alternative -- and Joe Barry was in over his head as defensive coordinator, Marinelli didn't criticize them internally or externally. Nor did he take on the fired Matt Millen, or any of the players. Man up. Take responsibility, everyone. Don't blame the guy next to you. Blame yourself.
It's a good lesson for the finger-pointer inside all of us.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
Somewhere, Bill Walsh is grimacing. The San Francisco 49ers will open training camp in 2009 with their seventh offensive coordinator in the last seven years -- and perhaps their sixth starting quarterback.