Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think I can't believe what happened at the Cowboys practice facility Saturday. My heartfelt well-wishes go out to scouting assistant Rich Behm and special teams coach Joe DeCamillis, who were the most seriously injured when the bubble collapsed during Saturday's storm.
2. I think the contract of Matthew Stafford drew more than just the ire of those around the NFL and the media and fans who follow it. A major British daily, The Independent, checked in with a blistering view of the Stafford deal (six years, $72-million, $41.7-million guaranteed) Saturday, from its American sporting correspondent, James Lawton:
"Imagine how they feel in Motown. They believe they are not only at the epicenter of economic madness, but have also become the laughingstock of a society for much of which sport has always been the comforting thread of their lives. For Stafford, the difficulty is that he is already hated before he throws a pass for the no-hope Lions ... This week, it has been hard not to believe that the NFL, like so much of big-money sport, has been back on the funny cigarettes.''
3. I think as soon as Stafford plays well, that feeling goes away. And it's a shame he's carrying that headache with him to the line of scrimmage. But until the Lions play well, or at least play respectably, every decision the organization makes will be greeted with inordinate skepticism.
4. I think there's one more American football owner trying to own a big team in England. Stan Kroenke, who ceded control of the Rams to the Rosenbloom family recently, has increased his stake of Arsenal to 28 percent in an attempt to buy a majority of the club. If he does, he'll join Randy Lerner of the Browns (Aston Villa) and the Glazer family of the Bucs (Manchester United) as owners in the Premier League.
5. I think I speak for everyone who likes and follows this game in sending good wishes to the family of Jack Kemp, who died Saturday after a long illness. He was the first great player in Bills history, a true patriot in Washington and a good man who loved the NFL. He still voted for a cause near and dear to him -- the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award -- and was a beacon for the men who played the game who sought to be all-around people, not just good football players. He'll be missed.
6. I think Julius Peppers is going nowhere, for one simple reason: Not only would a team have to pony up a first-round pick in 2010 (at least) in return for the Panthers' defensive end who wants out, but then he'd have to be paid somewhere in the $12-to-$16-million range annually. And he's not worth both of those things.
7. I think a very good man has been let go by the Chiefs -- vice president of player personnel Bill Kuharich -- and a smart team will pick him up quickly. I really like the move of Matt Russell to director of college scouting for Denver, by the way. Russell's the guy who alerted the Patriots to Matt Cassel four years ago when no one else thought a backup college quarterback was worth the trouble.
8. I think Jason Taylor will be a Patriot, unless Miami steps up to offer some real money.
9. I think, speaking of Miami, the Dolphins might be working Pat White at quarterback only for now, but it's a matter of time before he becomes a "slash'' player, a guy who receives, runs and throws. He's going to be a great asset as a versatile weapon.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. How can any two teams be closer than the Bulls and the Garnett-less Celtics? I'm no NBA guy, but there was something almost unfair to the Bulls losing that series.
b. I see the Mets are their annual fraudulent selves.
c. When you take a few days to consider things other than football, it's interesting the things you learn. Like this, about Kurt Vonnegut: He was an SI man! This from his son Mark Vonnegut's introduction to Armageddon in Retrospect, a collection of unpublished pieces by his father: "He was not good at being an employee. Back in the mid-1950s, he was employed by Sports Illustrated, briefly. He reported to work, was asked to write a short piece on a racehorse that had jumped over a fence and tried to run away. Kurt stared at the blank piece of paper all morning and then typed, 'The horse jumped over the f------ fence,'' and walked out, self-employed again.' ''
d. One more thing I learned about the non-football world: Bruce Weber of the New York Times wrote one heck of a book about umpiring. I can't put As They See 'Em down, and it'll be one of the five books I review in my annual Father's Day book-review column June 8. I like to give book advice so you don't buy another tie that your dad will thank you for and then throw to the bottom of his closet.
e. Coffeenerdness: Espresso's not the same in England. Even the Starbucks espresso is not as rich. Don't know what it is. It's almost tea-like. Yet every traveler who has coffee there says the espresso they serve in America is too strong. Hmmm. That's just wrong.
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