Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think the most amazing thing I've heard in the past month, and I've confirmed it with someone close to Roy Williams, is that the Dallas receiver was never on a consistent weightlifting program in his life before this off-season, when he got after it at Valley Ranch. "I'm serious,'' this acquaintance of Williams told me. "Roy never lifted before. Now that he has, and now that he's serious about making himself a great football player, especially with T.O. gone, I think he's really going to have a good year.''
2. I think the most worrisome thing about that previous note is what it says about what in tarnation the Detroit Lions have been doing for the past decade. No weight program that receivers had to live by during the season, and out of season? That is downright ridiculous.
3. I think I know I'm late on this one, and I've opined on it in other forums, but I don't think this is a good sign for Joe Buck's new show on HBO: The show ends, and a lengthy Brett Favre interview has been overwhelmingly overshadowed by a silly set of uppercuts from a comedian HBO poohbahs have barely even heard of, and I said to myself: Joe Buck just got the interview that everyone in the media has wanted for the last three months, and all people are going to be talking about is how Artie Lange hijacked the show. Sad. The Favre interview should have been headline news all over America. Instead it was page two.
4. I think whether Favre has agreed to a contract or not -- and profootballtalk.com reported Sunday night he may well have done so -- there is universal agreement among those close to Favre that the money is either done or absolutely not going to be a problem. Favre's playing for Minnesota if his right arm feels OK by month's end.
5. I think the Bengals, as woebegone as they've been, can be models for something: doing what they said they'd do. Over and over in the past two years, owner Mike Brown and coach Marvin Lewis have said Chad Ochocinco wouldn't be traded. And though I think they erred in not taking the reported offer of two first-rounders from Washington for Johnson in 2008, they kept their word. No trade. At one point last summer, Lewis said to me, "Why won't these reports stop? I'm telling you -- we're not trading Chad.'' I bring this up only because we've got the Denver Broncos having dumped their best player, Jay Cutler, because he was miserable and obstinate and not buying into Josh McDaniels' program. And now we've got Brandon Marshall who wants out, and apparently he's found a sympathetic ear in owner Pat Bowlen. The Broncos need to take a long view of this instead of the short view. The short view is, "Let's get rid of this unhappy jerk.'' The long view is, "This guy's a great player, he's a handful, but if we trade him, we're handing everyone else in the locker room a blueprint for how to shoot his way out of town. Plus, we won't get real value for him.'' I can't believe I just told the Denver Broncos to study the Bengals. Frightening.
6. I think Laveranues Coles might be the perfect receiver to replace T.J. Houshmandzadeh in Cincinnati, because Coles, who hates to talk to the press, is glad to cede all the interviews to Chad Ochocinco while he just plays. Coles is healthy now. If Carson Palmer can stay upright, Coles is going to catch 70 balls, easy.
7. I think I owe a bit of clarification to the contract I quasi-ripped in this space last week, the five-year, $47.5-million deal signed by quarterback Mark Sanchez of the Jets. First: You always get in trouble when you try to analyze these contracts, because they are never, ever what they seem. In this case, I thought $9.5-million a year, on average, was light given comparable deals in this draft and last year's draft. Then I realized this: In the first four years of the contract, Sanchez will earn $42 million, assuming he plays a minimal percentage of the snaps. That's $10.5 million a year, with minimum playtime. The contract was done with the idea that Sanchez, if he's at least average, will have his deal re-done after four years, because the Jets probably won't force him to play out his last year. If that's the case, and Sanchez is still looked at as a good player, he'll get his next contract after four years, not five. Just like a six-year rookie contract in most cases gets re-done before it expires, so too shall this five-year deal if Sanchez is still the Jets' quarterback of the future four years from now. And that has to be factored in when valuing a contract.
8. I think what impresses me about the first United Football League draft is how many players there are out there trying to resuscitate their careers. Look at the Orlando roster: Brooks Bollinger, Mike Doss, Rien Long, Chris Perry (the former Bengal top pick), Rob Petitti (the former Parcells find), Zack Pillar, Larry Tripplett, Seth Wand, Jermaine Wiggins. I have no idea if this league will last -- and I have no idea if Orlando can sign these guys -- but at least it's serious about getting players who've been there and done that.
9. I think as I head off on a short break before hitting the training-camp trail, I'd like to wish Jim Johnson, the defensive coordinator of the Eagles, well as he continues to fight melanoma. A year ago, I had a JV melanoma removed from my right arm. I am told Johnson's case is a big-timer, a varsity case, and he's in for a tough fight. Forget what this means for the Eagles right now; Johnson is a defensive mind par excellence and the Eagles won't be the same hard-to-figure, imaginative defense without him. But those who know Johnson know he's as good a man and honorable a person as the NFL employs. I'm sure I speak for everyone who reads this column in pulling for Johnson. And while I'm at it: Max out on the sunscreen this summer. Make this a sunscreen summer. Too many young people are letting the sun beat down on them too much -- or laying in tanning beds too long. Respect the sun. It'll kill you.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. The "V'' on the side of so many caps at the U.S. Open, including the hat of Tiger Woods? It's a Nike cap, signifying the "Victory Red'' irons that Nike produces and Woods uses.
b. So I went to the first round of the U.S. Open, the rain-shortened day. (Wait. Weren't all the days rain-shortened?) An observation from a golfing neophyte: I stood 10 feet behind Tiger Woods at the teebox on the 389-yard par-four second hole and watch him line up, address the ball and hit a shot on the hole, which has a slight dogleg left. The idea is to get the ball far out on the fairway, but not too far because then it'd be in the low rough, and if you can, get it to draw a bit to the left so you'll have a shorter shot to the green. I had a perfect view, from exactly behind Woods, and Woods' shot looked absolutely straight as it gathered lift and flew into the distance. Then, near its height, the ball started ever-so-slightly curving left. And it dropped left a bit, landing maybe 150 yards from the hole, in position for Woods to par it, which he did.
My point is not that Woods made a textbook shot. My point is that of eight threesomes we saw, there was only one shot that wasn't very good or better than Woods' out of 24 golfers. I'm talking guys the casual fan has barely heard of -- Bo Van Pelt, Simon Khan, Ian Poulter. It got me to thinking what an incredible golfer Woods is. If all these guys can make individual shots as good as Woods, and yet Woods wins so many majors and so many other tournaments, he's got to be the most mentally tough, consistent guy on the tour. When you don't see much golf, that's something that impresses you.
c. Ben Roethlisberger shot an 81 at Bethpage on that great idea for the pre-Open show on NBC, the Roethlisberger-Michael Jordan-Justin Timberlake round of golf. And I looked over the scores for the first three rounds. Noticed touring pros Jeff Brehaut and David Horsey also shot 81s, and Rocco Mediate, last summer's story of the year on the tour, shot a 79. And after walking that course and seeing the acres of sand and long meadows of the deep grass, and seeing the ridiculously long holes like the 525-yard PAR FOUR seventh (with a dogleg, no less), I have to say I'm fairly impressed with young number seven's game.
d. Four-game lead, Boston. Do not get cocky. The Rays are coming. The Yanks are the Yanks.
e. Uncle. Uncle! The first day of summer brought weather more like the first day of spring in the northeast -- heavy mist, fog, 58ish degrees, strong winds. I thought I moved to Boston, but apparently the truck brought our stuff to some combo platter of Seattle and Juneau.
f. Coffeenerdness: I'm in coffee nirvana when Equator Coffee is being served. Check it out. San Rafael, Calif.-based, and good and dark. Try the Zulu blend.
g. I don't know who Jon and Kate are, and I pray to God I never learn.
h. I do, however, know good books. Or at least one good book. Remember my review last week for the Bataan Death March spellbinder, Tears in the Darkness? This from Dwight Garner's New York Times review of the book on Wednesday: "No aspect of this battle or the infamous march that followed seems to have been overlooked ... It was not clear that this wall needed another brick. But then you pick up Michael Norman and Elizabeth M. Norman's calm, stirring and human [book] ... and you think: yes, we needed another brick. Tears in the Darkness is authoritative history.''
i. The column will be off for the next four Mondays, but I want you to look for some surprise MMQB authors over the next four weeks. Who? That's a surprise. You'll have to log on each Monday to learn. I'll be back Monday, July 27, the day before I leave for my training-camp jaunt.
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