July 21, Waltham, Mass. Over the years, I estimate that I've written "arthroscopic surgery'' in a story maybe three million times. Now I was having one. A month earlier, I'd wrenched my left knee stretching too aggressively after working out in a Boston Sports Club in my neighborhood. Since I live in a condo 63 steps up from the street, it's a fairly big disadvantage to have to take stairs by going up and coming down one at a time.
And now, just after 1 in the afternoon, I'm sitting on the edge of a hospital bed in Massachusetts General Hospital-West when my surgeon approaches. It's Thomas Gill, the Red Sox and Patriots orthopedist. He's the third person out of eight or nine who would ask me the same question that day: "Which knee are we operating on today?'' I tell him the left one, and he takes a marker and writes "YES'' above my left kneecap. "The reason we don't put an 'X' here,'' he says, "is because if you put an 'X' there, how do you know that's NOT the one to operate on?''
Gill's had much bigger fish to fry than this little meniscus tear, and he's so confident that it doesn't occur to me to be nervous. An hour later, I'm awake, and warned about the pain, and told I'd have crutches and Vicodin, and I shouldn't be afraid to use either. Happy to say I've not touched the crutches, have had to take but one Vicodin tablet and have aced the stairs all week. Don't tell Dr. Gill, but I also walked two miles home from Fenway on Saturday night.
I think I'm ready for the camp trail. And if you see me limping slightly, it's not because Terrell Owens bashed my knee with a baton or anything.
Quote of the Week I
"Since I've been working in the league, I don't think the best team has won the Super Bowl any year. You get a ball bouncing the wrong way, a bad call from a ref, a windy day when you plan to throw a lot ... There are just too many things out of your control.''
That is an incredible statement. The '96 Packers tie for the best record in football, win their playoff games by 21, 17 and 14 points and aren't the best team in football? The Ravens have one of the best defenses of all time and win 12 games in 2000, win the Super Bowl by 27 and aren't the best team in football? The Bucs of 2002 win three playoff games by 69 and aren't the best team in football? None of the three Patriot Super Bowl winners is the best team in football that season? This has to be one Joe Banner would love to have back.
Quote of the Week II
"I think the way the commissioner has handled it, I think it's unfair to Michael Vick. I think he's done the time for what he's done. I don't think it's really fair for him to be suspended four more games. That's almost like kicking a dead horse in the ground. I think a lot of guys around the league need to speak up. I think the players union needs to step in because the guy's already suffered so much. To add a four-game suspension on a two-year prison sentence, that's ridiculous.''
Quote of the Week III
"I want to play quarterback ... and do I believe that I can do that? Absolutely. When I'm on a team I'm going to do whatever that coach asks me to do, which I think you see by watching me play at Florida. I'll be the biggest team player there because I just want the team to succeed and the team to win.''
Quote of the Week IV
"How can I help?''
What a selfless thing to say. By the way, kudos to Major League Baseball for a terrific show before the All-Star Game, not only recognizing 30 volunteers from around the country for their unselfishness, but also for having the players from each side mingle with the 30 people honored before the game. If it inspired one person to help one other person, the display did its job.
Stat of the Week
Let's start this exercise by saying the only teams that can logically compete for Team of the Decade in this decade are New England and Pittsburgh. Indianapolis (regular-season record: 101-43, 7-7 in the playoffs) does have seven more regular-season wins than Pittsburgh, but the Colts can finish this decade with two Super Bowl titles, and a two-time Super Bowl winner can't lay claim to Team of the Decade over a team with three. So it's either the Patriots (three titles as we speak) or Pittsburgh (two) who can wear history's crown.
You be the judge what history will say if the Steelers win a third after seeing the Patriots' and Steelers' records since 2000:
In other words, something really strange would have to happen for the Steelers to pass the Pats as Team of the Decade.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
Curt Menefee, the Fox Sunday NFL host and a restless traveler, wins the award for best offseason vacation. He went to Antarctica.
"My seventh continent,'' Menefee said when I ran into him earlier this month at LAX. "Now I've seen them all.''
Aside from getting thisclose to a lot of cute penguins and 200-pound seals, one of the highlights was having a glass of scotch with glacial ice. "We were out in [a boat],'' he said, "and we heard this cracking sound, and we see this big chunk of ice fall into the water. Our guide took it into the boat, and later I drank the scotch with that as my ice. So I had a glass of scotch with ice older than the scotch.''
Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week
I hurt my knee during vacation and had to muddle through three weeks with it, and I found myself on a plane to Seattle, changing in Chicago, to visit our daughter Mary Beth. When we changed, I got up to get something out of the overhead, and the man across the aisle stumbled getting out of his seat, lost his balance, and his knee rammed hard into mine. The man, about 65, steadied himself. I bent over, saw a few stars, straightened up, and limped off the plane, with the man right behind me.
He never said a word. No "sorry,'' or "ooooops.''
Tweet of the Week
"At least 5 teams made playoffs after missing year before for 13 yrs in row. NFL=you never know.''
NFL Truth & Rumors