Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think everyone out there -- and I have read four beat reporters or club officials speculating about Plaxico Burress joining their team, as well as Jay Cutler reaching out to him -- needs to understand one thing about Burress in 2009: The man is not going to play football.
Plaxico Burress is going to jail (I think for one year) and he is not going to be around to play football this fall. Even if Burress goes to jail for less than a year, commissioner Roger Goodell almost certainly is going to add to the sanction with an NFL suspension because of the discharging of an unlicensed weapon. So do you want to hitch your wagon to a player who will next play, probably, at age 33 in October 2010. You've got to develop your own big receiver, not pray that one is going to fall out of the sky or the New York court system.
2. I think the Broncos may trade up in the first round, but not for what you think. Not for a quarterback. Maybe for Tyson Jackson, the LSU defensive end who's the best-available 3-4 defensive end in the draft, or Texas pass-rusher Brian Orakpo. I'm not saying it's impossible they'll draft a quarterback, but believe me when I tell you Josh McDaniels likes Kyle Orton a lot.
3. I think Marshawn Lynch deserved three games off, and it's right that he won't be playing 'til October.
4. I think the NFL is really ticking me off with the timing of the schedule-release tomorrow. By unveiling the schedule (in what -- 30 million homes, or whatever NFL Network hits right now?) Tuesday at 7 p.m., the league is depriving legions of drive-time sports-talk-radio fans the ability to dissect the schedule on the way home, or at the work water-cooler in the afternoon.
I remember listening over the years to WFAN in New York, when (since-divorced) Chris Russo and Mike Francesa would go over the local teams' slates, analyzing who had the week-by-week edge, and which teams around the league got creamed by the NFL's schedule. Now it'll be on a fraction of the nation's TV homes, and there won't be any time for debate 'til Wednesday, if it's even on radar screens by then.
5. I think I have two issues with the late-afternoon start of the NFL draft. Why, oh why, is the start of Round 1 at 4:05 p.m. Saturday? Did anyone in the league say: Hey, pretty good baseball doubleheader slated for that day on Fox -- Yanks-Red Sox and Cubs-Cards. And both games start at 4:10, the same time Roger Goodell will be walking to the podium to kick off Round 1? Why take the momentum that's been building up for months and fractionalize it against two of the best rivalries in sports, bashing ratings in the biggest northeast markets and throughout the football-mad Midwest?
If it's a brisk first round, the way it was last year (3 hours, 30 minutes), the Jets' first pick ought to come around the top of the sixth, the Patriots' first pick an inning later, and the Giants' first right about the time Papelbon or Rivera is coming in for the save as the sun sets on Fenway. If the draft drags, it's a good excuse for channel-flipping.
Just stupid. And what was wrong with a noon start anyway, which is the way it was 'til last year, when the league pushed the start time to 3 p.m.? Noon is perfect for a two-round draft. With the draft starting at 4, the thing could last until midnight. It probably won't, but the maximum amount of time for the two rounds is nine hours and four minutes, which technically makes it possible the draft's first day could end at 1 a.m. ET.
Obviously that's not going to happen, but what if the draft really drags and ends around 11 p.m.? The Cardinals, with the second-to-last pick of the second round, would choose at 8 p.m. local time, then adjourn for post-draft meetings to fine-tune their draft board for Day 2, then be back in the draft room at 6:45 the next morning for a 7 a.m. local time start (10 a.m. ET on Sunday). The Seahawks would be on the clock around 7:20 a.m. local time Sunday with a vital third-round pick, the fourth of the second day of the draft.
The time crunch is unnecessary tail-wagging by TV networks (ESPN, NFL Network) that would telecast the draft aggressively no matter what time it began.
6. I think Byron Leftwich went to the best team for him Sunday, Tampa Bay. I like him to beat out Luke McCown and Brian Griese if he reports to camp in great shape. The shame for Leftwich, and the Redskins, is he would have been a great fit there and gotten to play in his backyard. But he did the right thing, obviously, because he should be good enough to win the job in Tampa. In Washington, he'd only play if Jason Campbell got hurt or struggled like he did in the second half of last season.
7. I think the real story of the Kellen Winslow contract is it is hardly the biggest contract ever for a tight end, as was advertised. Winslow will earn $11.8 million guaranteed his first two years of the six-year deal, but he was already on course to earn $10.5 million in the next two years of his existing contract. In year three with Tampa Bay, Winslow is to earn $8.2 million, and the year is guaranteed for injury only. If Winslow's performance in year two is mediocre, the Bucs can cut him without paying him another dime.
But let's say he makes all of what he's supposed to make in the first three years of his deal. Winslow would make $20.1 million. In the first three years of Colts tight end Dallas Clark's deal, Clark makes $27.5 million. For my blood, the Bucs have too much guaranteed money in the deal for a guy who's been hurt so much. But after paying second- and fifth-round picks for him, they also had to justify it with some new money in a contract.
8. I think, in the words of one executive on a top 10-drafting team, Michael Crabtree's stress fracture in his foot is not a grave concern. "It's not an issue to us. I view it as less worrisome than the stress fracture [Carolina running back draftee] Jonathan Stewart had last year. Crabtree might be the best player in the draft. He hasn't been marked down by us because of the injury.'' Crabtree, of course, played with the stress fracture all season at Texas Tech and had a productive season.
9. I think Matt Hasselbeck's back feels fine and is passing all the tests, but he knows he'll have the tight chest if Matthew Stafford's still there when the fourth pick rolls around and Seattle's on the clock.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. I think I am absolutely sick about the injustice that is the death of Nick Adenhart. How can a 22-year-old kid with a suspended license even possess car keys, never mind get behind the wheel of a car and drive again? Shouldn't there be some state law in California that says a driver with a suspended license has to surrender the plates on his car until he gets his license reinstated? And shouldn't there be charges filed against the owner of the car the 22-year-old drunk was driving if it was not his own, for somehow allowing the kid to get behind the wheel of a car, any car?
b. Sox-Angels. April baseball that looked far more like October baseball over the weekend. I did not much like Josh Beckett throwing the ball a foot over Bobby Abreu's head when time was called (late) in the first inning Sunday, and I especially didn't like Beckett coming off the mound like some tough guy when Abreu, rightfully, looked out and started gesturing at Beckett. Beckett should have held up both hands as if to say, "Hey, sorry, one got away from me there.''
c. I fear Ortiz is not Ortiz anymore.
d. If Evan Longoria and Matt Garza are not in the top three vote-getters for MVP and Cy Young this year, I'll be stunned. Longoria hits good pitches 400 feet. Garza has the Red Sox totally figured out.
e. Keep your Saturday night job, Amy Poehler.
f. I'm pretty much on board with everything about The Office, with a couple of exceptions: A season or so ago, Ryan was about to be profiled in the Wall Street Journal. Now he's a shiftless, no-account bum. How'd that happen?
g. For a quasi-famous restaurant, Sibling Rivalry, you can do far, far better than you did Friday night.
h. Coffeenerdness: So everyone in Boston kept telling me to try Sibling Rivalry. And as annoying as the microscopic five-bite, $25 cod entrée was, the bitter espresso was worse.
i. Dying to Tweet. Rumor has it I'm going to be taught how by my SI.com people this week, when I'm town for some high-level (ha-ha-ha) meetings in midtown Manhattan. (The real high-level meeting, I think, is seeing Citi Field on Thursday night.) Sounds like I'm missing everything in Tweetland.
j. You put on the best Easter spread in the world, Pam Whiteley.
k. Jack Bowers, you've got a lot of people from a lot of places pulling for you this week. Good luck.
l. You cannot be serious about shuttering the Boston Globe, you New York Times people. That's unjust and ridiculous and will be a black mark against anything you do journalistically in the long-term. How do you walk into the flagship journalistic institution in a six-state region and say, "Unless everyone in the building takes a monstrous pay cut, and a few of you walk away from your jobs forever, we're closing the place?'' What kind of management style is that?
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