Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think the NFLPA needs to include Adalius Thomas in its negotiating committee with the owners. He'll keep it lively, and I think he'll keep it on point. The aware Patriot said this Friday about the owners advocating a 17- or 18-game schedule, up from the current 16-game sked:
"Why would you want an 18-game season? Why? ... It's the money thing. Stop. Just stop. If [NFL owners] want to cry about money, then open your books up to an independent audit to really show how much money you're making. If you really want to cry about money, open your books up, put what you really make in the paper, like you put our salary in the paper every year so that the fans can say, 'Well, they're making this much money, why don't they do this?' If that's the case, I'm sick of people talking about, crying about, 'Well, we need to make cuts here' ...
"I'm just trying to figure out, what's the purpose for an 18-game season? At the end of the year, when players go to the playoffs, it's been a long season, so now you're going to say it's a longer season? Are you just going to stretch out the payments over 18 weeks now? No. We're not doing that. You can mark me down on the injured list for two weeks. You can put that in your books. You've done lost your mind.''
2. I think I still find it very, very hard to believe in this economy that the owners are going to get the TV networks to pay them any more than the current deals, never mind an increase for the increased inventory.
3. I think what I'd be worried about if I were Vince Young and I see the Titans signing Patrick Ramsey to be the third quarterback, is this: Ramsey was a favorite son of offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger when Heimerdinger had him as a No. 2 in Denver, and he knows the offense inside-out, and he's as reliable as the day is long. Young's been interested in what he has to do to win the starting job from Kerry Collins, which, as a top pick three years ago, is a justifiable thing for him to want. What I'd be worried about is sliding down in the pecking order if I didn't do everything right this spring and summer.
4. I think I look back to the Super Bowl and it's all a blur. Has any Hot Stove League ever been hotter? In those nine weeks, Matt Cassel's been traded, Albert Haynesworth signed a monopoly money deal with Washington, Brian Dawkins left the only team he ever knew, the Cardinals almost lost but re-signed Kurt Warner, Ray Lewis almost left but re-signed with the Ravens, Terrell Owens got whacked by Dallas, the Bills took a walk on the wild side and signed Owens, Julius Peppers continued to try to talk his way off the Panthers, T.J. Houshmandzadeh put on his raincoat and surprisingly jumped to Seattle, the Lions actually began to look like a bastion of sanity (but it's early yet), Brett Favre retired (apparently for good), the Raiders cut some expensive veterans and kept an inexpensive coach, the Chargers flirted with whacking LaDainian Tomlinson, the Titans committed to Kerry Collins over Vince Young, Jay Cutler boycotted communicating with the human race and was traded to the Bears, the combine happened, the league meetings happened.
I'm sure I'm forgetting a few things, but it's been tough to take a breath since the end of the season. That's because there hasn't been an end to the season; 2008 simply morphed into 2009 without a line of demarcation. There are more than a few coaches and GMs -- and more than a few NFL writers -- very anxious for the first week of May and beyond, when the draft will be in the rearview mirror and an actual offseason might commence.
5. I think you've got to know when you've got the upper hand with a team, and you've got top know when you've got to give in. Plaxico Burress would still be a Giant today -- and still would have some income coming in during the lean months of 2009 -- if he'd just played ball in renegotiations with the team. But no. No sane person sees him winning his grievance against the team. This is the time Burress needed to align himself with one of the bedrock franchises in all of sports, and this is the time he needed the support of an organization, and this is the team he needed
6. I think we are all owed an explanation, NFL Network: Why have you kidnapped Adam Schefter, where is he being held without ransom, and when do you plan to acknowledge that he has disappeared off the face of the earth?
7. I think Ross Tucker, my compadre at SI.com, is absolutely right: The Jaguars are nuts to be looking at the primo quarterbacks in the draft. There's no way they should be souring on David Garrard after one year of a big new contract. They can definitely win with Garrard, and they should use the high picks on their multiple holes -- on both sides of the ball.
8. I think I'm dying to know who's going to try to sign Mike Vick when the Falcons release him. Two teams come to mind: Oakland and Tampa Bay. The Bucs are longshots, but I don't think new GM Mark Dominick is afraid of him.
9. I think I don't care at all if B.J. Raji smoked pot at Boston College. I'd guess that would make him one of about 150 players of the 328 who attended the Scouting Combine who smoked pot at one time or other during their college years. I bet I'm underestimating that, really. Now, if there's some indication that Raji smokes so much pot that he couldn't get cleaned up in time for the combine, or he smokes so much that he's mentally addicted to it, that's another matter.
I applaud SI.com for breaking the story, and it deserves to be reported. But what I do not applaud is the knee-jerk reaction by some NFL front offices about it. Some front offices are way, way too hung up on vilifying guys who did the occasional doobie in college while virtually ignoring the exploits of guys who got smashed at keg parties over and over at college.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Just caught up on the last two episodes of The Office. Brilliant change of direction. Fantastic. I love the idiotic scheme of Michael starting his own paper company, with Pam the brains of the operation. What might be better is Kevin as the receptionist. The double-episode this week will be must-see TV.
b. Opening Day!
c. I've had no time to focus on it, with the move and the nonstop-ness of NFL life, but I'll throw these useless predictions out: AL division winners: New York, Cleveland, Anaheim (Tampa Bay wild card); NL: Philadelphia, St. Louis, Los Angeles (Arizona wild card). The Series: Yanks-Dodgers. Manny and Torre in the Bronx in October ... Now there's something I'd pay to see.
d. I'm enthused about the Red Sox, and I'll be in the park this afternoon, but there's something a little off-putting about all the little injuries and uncertainties (J.D. Drew's back, Dustin Pedroia's side, Kevin Youkilis' ankle, the age of Mike Lowell, the potential brittleness of David Ortiz, the bat of Jason Varitek). It'll be fun to watch, and I think the wild card will come down to Tampa Bay's good youth and David Price versus the Sox's experience and whether they'll stay healthy.
e. Let's hear some more arguments now, after three more senseless multiple murders with guns, about how we don't have a gun problem in this country. I'm all for people's rights to bear arms. I'm not for nut jobs' rights to bear arms.
f. I liked when Clark Kellogg said before Michigan State-UConn that "UConn will play, seven, seven and-a-half guys.'' I think he means they'll play either seven or eight, but it might have meant Eddie Gaedel was suiting up for the Huskies, or Herve Villachaize.
g. My brother went to North Carolina, and I like what the Heels stand for, generally. I have no interest whatsoever in Michigan State. But I don't know how, unless you're an alum or Roy Williams' mother, you can be cheering against the lads from Michigan tonight. The state needs it, the region needs it, a dying industry needs it.
h. Renee Montgomery was so good last night for UConn that I started to think: There're about 15 NBA teams that could use her. What a shooter. What a floor leader. Slight exaggeration. Only slight.
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