Peterson didn't play in the Vikings' first and fourth preseason games. In the middle two, he combined to carry the ball 20 times and play a series longer than four quarters. That's exactly how long Palmer played in four Cincinnati games -- 70 minutes, covering 14 series. He skipped the fourth game, as most regulars do.
So Peterson played the equivalent of 17 games before the playoffs. The reason Brad Childress doesn't play him more, obviously, is the risk of injury. If the schedule is expanded to 17 real games, Peterson would likely play the equivalent of 18 games. If it's jacked up to 18 games, then maybe Peterson plays those 18 plus a half or three quarters in the two preseason games.
No matter how the league throws it out there, there's no doubt players would be exposing themselves to another four quarters of injury risk if the regular season is expanded to 17 games. Add two more games, and most veterans would be playing an extra six or eight quarters.
By the way, if you think players are just going to rubber-stamp a 17th game, or 17th and 18th games, you're wrong. The players who consulted with the Competition Committee and were unanimous in their approval of the current overtime system were adamant about one thing: They didn't want an increase in the number of plays they'd have to play.
"Anytime you have change, there is some reluctance," Goodell said at the meetings. "But it's clear we don't need four preseason games anymore. Fans don't believe preseason games are up to our standards. A key point is the fans also recognize players they want to see are not in those preseason games.''
How about if players they want to see are not in the postseason games, because their bodies can't take the added wear and tear?
Mike Tomlin's got a point.
A few people I know in the business were stunned to see Steelers coach Mike Tomlin get angry in the couple of hours after the Super Bowl, after the greatest win of his young life. I knew why, and at the meetings, he explained. He was shocked at the thing I've always found stupid about the postgame Super Bowl stuff, and I say it's stupid even though I'm part of the monster that has created the demand that angered Tomlin.
Winning coaches ping-pong from one media obligation to another in the 90 minutes after the game, and they never get a chance to talk to their team. It's incomprehensible to me that a coach would stand in front of his team after every game he ever coaches, and then, in the biggest game of his life and his players' lives, the game ends without the coach ever saying a word to them.
It is 57 days after the Super Bowl this morning, and Tomlin has still not talked to his team.
"It's a shame,'' Tomlin said. "When you have an opportunity to be a part of something like that, you appreciate the selflessness of the group and you would love an opportunity to bask in the collective achievement of the group. I wanted to go into the locker room and share the experience with the people and players who matter most. And I think that's lost under the current setup. By the time I got into the locker room about an hour and a half after the game, the vast majority of the players were gone. There's got to be a way to retain that element of it and at the same time give the fans of the game what they need.''
Solution: The winning network gets the celebration on the field and three or four interviews, including with the coach and MVP, in a 15-minute on-field show. Then the coach and all players get whisked back to their locker room so he can tell them whatever he wants to tell them. Then, no more than 30 minutes after the game, every key player is at a series of postgame podiums set up in the bowels of the stadium.
Our deadlines are important, obviously. The public's right to know details about the game is very important, obviously. But it's inexcusable the coach cannot talk to his players and share with them the thrill of their greatest win of their lives.
Norv Turner just might run LaDainian Tomlinson until the wheels fall off.
Of all the conversations I had at the league meetings, the one with San Diego coach Norv Turner surprised me the most. "I think LT's got a hell of a chance to win the rushing title,'' Turner told me. He said Tomlinson had "fluky injuries'' last year, and he expects him to get well over the number of carries -- 292 -- he had last year. "Maybe in the 320, 330 range,'' Turner said.
Well, Tomlinson, who struggled to a 3.9-yards-per-carry average last year, would have to put his career in overdrive at age 30 this fall to compete for a rushing title with 320 carries. Last year, Adrian Peterson won the title with 1,760 yards on 363 carries. Michael Turner of the Falcons was second with 1,699 yards on 376 carries. For Tomlinson to hit 1,760 yards on 320 carries, he'd have to rush for 5.5 yards per carry, which is seven-tenths of a yard better than the terrific Peterson managed last year.
I don't see it. No one does. But if that's going to be Turner's attitude with Tomlinson, it's obviously being done to tell Tomlinson: We don't see you in a steep decline, and we don't see you in a time-share with Darren Sproles. You're still our guy. Now, we'll see if Tomlinson has it in him.
Tom Coughlin and Rex Ryan are going to team up to help Paul Zimmerman on May 18.
In a dual act of selflessness that humbles me, the Giants and Jets head coaches will come together in a fundraiser to help the ailing Dr. Z try to kick-start his long road to recovery from a series of three strokes. Coughlin and Ryan will appear at a dinner and silent auction on that Monday night in West Orange, N.J., with the proceeds from the $225-a-plate evening to benefit some aggressive therapy and home-outfitting costs for Zimmerman, who is trying to come back from strokes that have left him unable to speak, read and write.
The highlight of the evening (or lowlight, depending on your opinion of the moderator) will be a 40-minute football roundtable discussion with Ryan and Coughlin, hosted by me. You'll have the chance to fire away at the two coaches, too.
What this all comes down to is this: Zim doesn't want to sit quietly in the corner, smiling and not understanding much of what is happening to him, while he lives out the rest of his life. He wants to be the smartest pro football writer on earth again. For that to happen, he needs intense intervention. Now. And so many of you have written to ask, "What can we do to help?'' This is what you can do -- you can come to this dinner, and have a great football night out, and know you're helping Dr. Z be Dr. Z again.
"Paul doesn't want to settle for just a partial recovery,'' his wife, Linda, said. "He wants to be back working, and to do that, he needs intensive therapy.'' Therapy like the intensive and innovative (and expensive) six-week University of Michigan Aphasia Program, where he'll get 23 hours of challenging speech therapy a week ... and which isn't covered by insurance.
One of the reasons we want to do something to try to help is because Zim's trying so hard to help himself. In the morning, Linda picks up the newspapers, and he'll stare at the pages he's become so familiar with over the years, sometimes for hours. "He's seeing something, and he's fighting so hard to be able to read again,'' she says. "He'll look at the agate type of the sports section for hours, trying to comprehend. It's amazing to watch. It just drives me to try to help him as much as we can.''
I'm so impressed that it took about six minutes to arrange this. Ryan has a calendar already stuffed with all the things a rookie head coach must do, and Coughlin's football and charity dockets (he is one of the most charity-conscious coaches I've ever met) are chock-full.
I'll have more details, particularly on the auction items, on Mondays to come. But we've got some good ones for you. Some unique opportunities. You'll love them.
This is about as bad a time for a fundraiser as we could have, but in the immortal words of Coughlin, Ryan and every coach alive, the economy is what it is. Tickets (again, $225 apiece, or $1,500 for a table of eight, and come on you businesses, I know you've got it in you) can be had by sending a check, payable to "Dr. Z/Nothing is Impossible Foundation'' to:
Dr. Z/Nothing is Impossible Foundation
For further information, please email Barbara Neibart at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact me at email@example.com. Also, if you're interested in volunteering on the night of the event, please indicate that, and we'll be in touch with you as we get closer to May 18.
I know many of you who have loved reading Zim over the years will not be able to attend because you live far away from New Jersey, and maybe in a different continent. You'll have the chance to bid on some of the auction items through this column, as I'll explain as we get closer to the event.
Our goal is to have Zim haranguing coaches and commissioners and broadcasters and quarterbacks as soon as possible. Thanks for helping, if you can, and thanks for thinking of Zim.
NFL Truth & Rumors