Bus Stops: Benson can move on now; why L.A. doesn't need team
Falcons coach Mike Smith needs to stop complaining about sunlight in Dallas
Here's my take on the NFL bringing a team to London: It's nuts
More on the Steelers, Vikings and the worst injury I've ever seen
Throughout the 2009 season, SI.com's Adam Duerson will work with Jerome Bettis to get the six-time Pro Bowl running back's observations about the previous week's games. Bettis retired from the NFL in 2006 after a 13-year career.
Cedric Benson had a huge weight lifted off his shoulders after destroying the Bears. I've talked about the revenge factor before. I got a chance to run over the Rams the first year they traded me to Pittsburgh. I had a lot of pent up anger and frustration about it and I wanted to take it out on that team. I ended up with 129 yards, two touchdowns, and we won 42-6. That allowed me to clean my slate and move on. I really didn't think much about my time with the Rams after that. From the looks of it, Benson had a cleansing experience, too. For whatever reason, things didn't work out for him in Chicago, and there's no doubt he felt like he let that team down. Now he can move on from that guilt.
Was I surprised how much he talked about his beef all week? A little. I didn't talk about it myself. And Brett Favre isn't saying much about his return to Green Bay. But that's just our personalities. Not everyone can hold it in. I think Benson's feelings were so strong that it all just oozed out. Today starts a new chapter.
A note to Atlanta coach Mike Smith, who complained about the funky way sunlight was hitting his players' eyes at Cowboys Stadium yesterday: Deal with it. If light is coming through the stadium in such a way, it's no different than the ivy at Wrigley or the Green Monster at Fenway. Personally, I always hated playing on infield dirt. The footing was totally different. Your feet wouldn't dig in, they kind of sat on top and you skated around. But it's part of the game, part of the home field. You have to deal with it. Learn how to negotiate it. Players will always complain -- and coaches, too, I guess -- but get over it.
I'm not sure I understand why Mark Sanchez is apologizing for eating a hot dog on the sidelines against the Raiders. It was a West Coast game, which throws off your whole body schedule; plus, the Jets had that game in the bag at that point.
When I played, perhaps a water boy or someone would have some food on the sideline, or you would ask someone to grab a bite from the locker room, where there's always a spread. But let me tell you, it's not hard to get a hot dog. I've had a hot dog. I've had cookies. I actually had a hamburger. It wasn't done up the way I liked it, with ketchup and mustard and lettuce and tomato. But I had a hamburger, and a sideline hamburger serves its purpose.
Here's my take on the idea of a full-time London team: It's nuts. I played games in Ireland and in Mexico. Both of those games were in the preseason, but it was rough. And here's the problem for a player: the return trip. Getting to London, getting prepped after the outbound flight, that's nothing terrible. In terms of, "Is this is a realistic idea," the return leg is where I get worried.
In my case, we didn't return home until the day after the game. It took everyone a day or two to get that trip out of their system. And when you're playing in the regular season, you don't have a day or two to spare. This isn't baseball or basketball, where you pack for a several-game road trip.
I just don't see the travel logistics working out with a regular London-stationed team. Can you imagine a trip to the West Coast? I fully expect players to be vocal about this, but I fear they won't have much say in the matter.
Here's another thing to consider. I've got a memorable face, but by no stretch of the imagination am I recognized when I travel abroad. Getting a following for an NFL team abroad is going to take plenty of work. How long do you think it will take before fans in London resemble anything like the fans in Green Bay and Pittsburgh?
... And I've had my experiences with disinterested fans before. I played in Los Angeles. I'll use that as another warning: L.A. doesn't need a team.
Here's the problem I encountered. There are just too many transient people living in L.A. If you're a Bears fan living in L.A., you carry your Bears allegiances to L.A. And when an L.A. team is not winning, people have plenty of other things to do. In Pittsburgh, Sundays are all about football. In Hollywood, they'll take the family to Disneyland or Universal Studios on a Sunday rather than watch a 4-10 team play.
I can't tell you how bizarre it was as a rookie to come from a school, Notre Dame, where we had thousands of people waiting outside our hotel for us on the road, just to welcome us, to the Los Angeles Rams, where we could barely get a thousand people in the stadium for a game. That just baffled me.
We all saw Troy Polamalu return fully Sunday, and we saw a different Pittsburgh defense. Polamalu's confidence permeates around the whole stadium. He set the tone with an early hit on Percy Harvin, forcing an incompletion on Minnesota's first drive. That one hit alone made it clear -- to his teammates and his fans -- that he was fine after a week when he looked a little iffy against Cleveland. If you felt a new energy in that game, that's where it came from. The Steelers and their fans have been kind of ho-hum without Troy, and he jacked them back up.
If I'm a Vikings fan coming out of that game, I'm pleased. Minnesota can leave this game knowing they're on a level to compete with the defending champs, and they learned that they finally can get by even when their number one guy, Adrian Peterson, isn't playing well. That's not something we've really been able to say about the Vikings.
Dallas's victory over Atlanta was an emotional must-win. And how bizarre is it to see a team with an emotional must-win this early? It's scary, almost. What I mean is, Dallas didn't entirely need this win for their record, but they needed it for their psyche and their confidence. This is a fragile team, and they know it. How often do you hear a head coach or an owner saying, in so many words, such a thing about his own team?
It's great to see an undrafted guy like Dallas' Miles Austin come up big, but why aren't people asking this: Where is Roy Williams? The Cowboys made a huge investment in this guy -- four draft picks -- and what have they gotten in return? This isn't quite Herschel Walker-bad, but it's getting close. That's karma, perhaps.
I have no interest in watching a replay of that Leon Washington injury. But the talk about it brings back memories. The most terrifying thing I ever saw was in the preseason. We were on the road against New Orleans and there was a running back named Destry Wright who wrecked his ankle. His head and his body were faced down, but his foot -- well, one of his feet -- was still faced up. It was gruesome; our whole team was just yelling, "Ohhhh!" That was the last I saw of that guy. I wish Leon better luck.
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