Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think the new executive director of the NFLPA must like what he sees in his rank-and-file. Last night and early this morning, three of the player reps who said they'd return my call after the meeting in Maui to elect the new leaders demurred. Seems that DeMaurice Smith didn't want to make many public statements last night, and the players (with the exception of Kevin Mawae, the president) declined the chance to talk, out of respect to Smith. They want him to be the first voice the public hears on the road to what they hope will be a new CBA.
2. I think the owners will lock out the players in 2011. Welcome to the new job, Mr. Smith.
3. I think Seattle got the better of the Cory Redding-for-Julian Peterson deal. Without a solid defensive line to open rush lanes for him with the Lions, how is Peterson (five sacks in 2008) going to get to the passer?
4. I think I love Baltimore's addition of Chris Carr in free agency from Tennessee. He's a good, quick corner, with the added dimension that he's one of the AFC's best return men. Last year, he was fourth in the league in kick returns and 12th in punt returns. It's an upgrade over Yamon Figurs for Baltimore.
5. I think everyone in the business, and NFL people from coast to coast, join me in wishing AP pro football guru Dave Goldberg a speedy recovery from a triple bypass. Dave's one of the classics, a guy who can converse on 946 subjects quite well, with only one of them happening to be pro football.
6. I think my money is on Dallas hosting somebody (the Giants, perhaps?) in the first Sunday night game of the year on NBC Sept. 13. The Cowboys are opening the showplace stadium to end all showplace stadiums in Arlington, at a cost of $1.15 billion, and the NFL will want to give Jones this mega-platform to open the place.
7. I think the NFL simply must bring troubled former running back Travis Henry to its annual Rookie Symposium in June. Every rookie is required to attend this three-day meeting to be tutored on the dangers and opportunities of being very young and very rich. Henry, who has had 11 children with 10 women -- none of them his wife -- was profiled in the New York Times Thursday, and young players need to hear the cautionary tale of how a second-round pick has totally wasted his money and his life.
He is 30, and his children range in age from 3 to 11. Whether he was entrapped by women looking for a star husband or a payday is irrelevant; his recklessness is stunningly hard to believe, dating back to impregnating a girlfriend in high school. "I did use protection at first,'' Henry told Mike Tierney of the Times. "Then they'd be saying they'd be on the pill. I was an idiot to trust them. Second or third time with them, I didn't use it. Then, boom!'' He said his counselor asked him, "How can you do the same thing over and over?'' Henry didn't have an answer -- which is why the NFL must allow him to tell this story. Maybe he can stop one of the estimated 250 players from making the same ridiculous mistakes.
8. I think, after the Ohio State Pro Day Friday, I've got one name for you to remember for the end of round two or the guts of round three: Brian Hartline. Receiver. Played in the shadow of Ted Ginn Jr., then Brian Robiskie, in Columbus. Caught just 21 balls last fall while Ohio State struggled adjusting to Terrelle Pryor running the offense.
Hartline had a great combine, can play the slot and outside, and impressed with his hands and route-running on Friday; his 4.50 40- time is OK, but not special. (Teammate Robiskie ran a 4.47.) Two months ago, Hartline was a fifth-round pick. Now he just might go in the top 64.
9. I think the Patriots are going to have to work on their heart and soul this offseason. First Josh McDaniels goes. Then Scott Pioli. Then Mike Vrabel. Now Larry Izzo, their special-teams captain and conscience, who left the other day for the Jets. I suspect Rodney Harrison won't return, though he hasn't made a decision yet. Even for a flatliner like Bill Belichick, who lives by the what-are-you-going-to-do-for-me-this-year mantra and never lives in the past, it's going to be a daunting task, getting his team ready without so many stalwarts in his front office, coaching offices and locker room. What a now business this is.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Did I see it right the other day? The Wall Street Journal now is $2? That shouldn't tell you Rupert Murdoch is a money-grubber. It should you tell what desperate trouble newspapers are in.
b. Thanks, Ann Coulter, for reveling in the decline of the liberal newspapers. Nice of you to be making the great money you obviously make while hard-working reporters and editors and photographers -- from liberal and conservative papers alike -- are being put on the street every day. This is a crisis without ideological fault lines, sister. And the New York Times isn't going anywhere.
c. I'm really going to like reading Dan Shaughnessy every day. I like how he revels in high school sports.
d. Coffeenerdness: Memo to Starbucks: Have one of your Boston-area muckety-mucks make it over to The South End Buttery, the coffee shop, restaurant and espresso bar on Shawmut Avenue in the South End. Ask him or her to order a medium latte with an extra shot. Watch the care the barista uses with the shots and the foaming of the milk. No rush. No mass production. But lots of care. I thought I was going to miss Starbucks on this move, because the nearest Starbucks is six or eight blocks away, but the chance to support a local company has been enhanced by the fact that it's as good a latte as I've had in the United States.
e. Tim Layden, welcome to the ranks of parents of former high-school athletes. We're a sad lot. But proud, very proud. Simsbury (Conn.) center-iceman Kevin Layden got cut from the team as a junior, then tried out as a senior, made the team, and progressed from fourth- to third- to second-line center. Kevin's last high school hockey game ended with a good save on a Simsbury penalty shot with 17 seconds left, enabling West Haven (Conn.) to beat Simsbury 4-3 in the state playoffs. "But that's sports,'' his old man, the top-notch SI writer, said. "Without the lows, there would be no highs.'' You'll miss it like nothing you ever missed before, Tim.
f. Factoid answer: Guard Billy Shaw, who played for the Bills from 1961 to '69, his career ending with the Bills' final game ever in the American Football League.
g. Don't scare us like that, Pedroia.
h. My Rotisserie draft is Tuesday night, which worries me for two reasons: With the move, I haven't studied, and I'm in a smart league; and it's St. Patrick's Day, a day I'm never at my best at 8 or 9 at night. Uh-oh. Looks like a long year for the Montclair Pedroias.
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