Quote of the Week I
"I'm prepared to answer questions on Russia, on the Middle East ... and why no one should ever run a prevent defense.''
-- Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, during her talk to the NFL population at the league meetings Sunday night , inviting questions from the group.
It was an interesting session. Houston owner Bob McNair asked whether Russia has become more of a rogue nation, and whether she thought Russia would join OPEC. Chicago's Mike McCaskey asked about the dangers of his daughter, 20, practicing her college-learned Arabic in Yemen. But the highlight for me was the most dogged of scribes among us, Bengals.com editor and writer Geoff Hobson -- in a sidebar after Rice's talk, with Steelers owner and U.S. Diplomat to Ireland-nominee Dan Rooney waiting to speak with her -- asking about Rice's affection for Paul Brown and one of her favorite teams, the Bengals. Hobson asked Rice if she ever did "The Ickey Shuffle.'' No, she said; but she loved watching it.
Quote of the Week II
"I would be pissed if I got my ass shipped to Cleveland.''
-- Washington tight end Chris Cooley, who apparently is not in the market for a vacation home in Shaker Heights.
Quote of the Week III
"I couldn't go to the drugstore, I couldn't go to dinner, I couldn't stop at the gas station without someone asking me whether we were going to re-sign Ray. So now I can have my life back.''
-- Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome, at the Ravens' announcement of Ray Lewis' three-year, $22.5 million contract last Thursday.
Stat of the Week
The league will not address overtime here, in part because when a select group of veteran players met with the Competition Committee at the scouting combine in Indianapolis last month, there was no sentiment whatsoever to change the current system. "They were rock-solid, dead-set against changing the rule,'' Colts GM Bill Polian said Sunday. "We were all surprised how adamant they were, but their attitude basically was, the game's exciting enough, it can end on one play, and we don't need to be adding plays to a game when we might go to 17 or 18 games anyway.''
All good points. I'll just make three more that emphasize why the coin toss to start overtime has taken on far, far, far too much importance in who wins and loses overtime games:
1. In the last five years, 28 of the 72 overtime games played ended on the first possession of overtime, with the teams losing the coin flip not getting a chance to touch the ball. That's 39 percent of the games ending with one team touching the ball in overtime.
2. In the last five years, 72 of the 72 teams that won the coin flip to start overtime chose to receive. I keep hearing how the coin flip doesn't win or lose the games; teams do. True. But if the coin flip is so insignificant, why has no team since Marty Mornhinweg's Lions in 2001 chosen to kick off after winning? I always hear that good defenses can win in overtime. But the Ravens and the Bucs and the Steelers -- teams with great defenses of this decade -- never won the toss and chose to let their defenses play first. Why? Because the winner of the coin flip has a far, far better chance to win the game than the team that doesn't win. And all that would be needed to fix it would be the chance for both teams to touch the ball once overtime begins.
3. "We'd like to see each team get one possession,'' said Steelers president Art Rooney, but he was drowned out by those not wanting to add plays to the best game in the world. Heresy! More plays!
That's the Super Bowl champion talking. Anyone listening?
The pro-overtime forces went out meekly this year. So this is what I root for: In the Super Bowl next year, I hope the game is tied after four quarters, and I hope the team that wins the toss to start overtime returns the kickoff to the 39, and I hope they advance the ball 21 yards in five plays, and on fourth-and-six from the opposing 38-yard line, the winners kick a 57-yard field goal. And I hope a 5-foot-9 kicker goes pirouetting in the air, pumping his fist while most of the free world shuts off the TVs feeling disgusted and 79,000 fans and one very ticked-off team leave the field feeling totally deflated. And I hope Roger Goodell -- though he would never say this -- walks onto the field after the game and the losing coach says to him, "Commissioner, championship football games should not end this way.'' Maybe then we could have a sensible debate about overtime.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
The St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort and Spa must be doing quite well in the face of the economic downturn. I attempted to eat breakfast at two of its restaurants Sunday. I was turned away at one, with the place half-empty, because I was not a guest in the hotel. I was turned away at another because I was not a guest at the hotel and I did not have a reservation.
All those without a black AmEx card had better be full when they walk in the door here.
Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week
Some of the media, SI included, chose not to fork over the $425 a night at the St. Regis and ended up a couple of miles down the Pacific Coast Highway at the Marriott Laguna Cliffs, a lovely place in its own right.
With one serious flaw.
Sunday morning, 6:17, I stumble down to the lobby, desperately needing coffee. Any coffee. I look in the quiet lobby for a coffee urn, a coffee station, a coffee shop open to get a to-go coffee.
"Sorry, sir,'' the front-desk guy said. "No coffee on the weekends 'til 7 a.m.''
That's what I call a full-service hotel. Want a coffee at 6:30 on a Saturday or Sunday? Get in your car and go find one.
NFL Truth & Rumors