Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think these are my quick thoughts about Hall of Fame Weekend in Canton:
a. Really happy for Ralph Wilson especially. I know it's a cliché, but it's so much better, if he's going to make it into the Hall, to have him make it while he's still alive. And no one appreciated it more than Wilson.
b. Campaigns are going to get heavy for a few folks in the next few months. Richard Dent, for one. Bud Adams. Maybe Art Modell. And, of course, Dick LeBeau. At least 15 people said something to me along the lines of, "You've got to get LeBeau in.''
c. I think the commissioner, Jerry Jones, Dick Ebersol, John Mara, Adam Schefter and others were way too kind in this piece my editors asked Schefter to write in recognition of me receiving the McCann Award.
e. Pot Calling Kettle Black Dept.: As I said earlier, I was supposed to speak for three minutes accepting the McCann Award Friday night. I went six-and-a-half. So I'm hardly the right guy to try to shorten the real program Saturday night at Fawcett Stadium. But the Hall has to do something to combine the four-minute video presentation and the presenter's (supposed time length of) five minutes. Too often they repeat each other. And the speeches themselves. The enshrinees are supposed to go 10 minutes. Okay, 15 maybe, or 18 ... Understood. But Carl Peterson went 26 in speaking for the late Derrick Thomas. That's simply too long. The program would be great at an hour and 45 minutes. At three hours, it borders on painful.
f. Goosebump moment of the weekend: Watching 82 Hall of Famers be introduced to the Canton Civic Center crowd, one by one. Fantastic. Yale Lary, Larry Wilson, Lance Alworth, Forrest Gregg, Gino Marchetti. Ran into Ozzie Newsome before the event. "I'm a little kid around these guys!'' he said. "I'm a fan!'' That's one of the best tight ends in history speaking.
g. If you go to the Hall weekend, don't think you'll catch up on sleep by missing the parade. Big, big mistake. Big-time high school bands, baton-twirlers, floats, Rod Woodson and Dan Fouts riding in convertibles and waving, crazy things like dancing garbage-can haulers. Total Americana.
h. Memory of the Induction Ceremony: Marty Schottenheimer's lips quivering and the sentimental old coach bawling during Peterson's speech on Derrick Thomas. Very touching.
i. Thanks to the Army Medivac team from Sarasota, Fla., for the lift in the Blackhawk helicopter Saturday night, the one that buzzed Fawcett Stadium. Glad to see the country's in good hands, men. The thing I've emphasized to people about our military that the public might not know is how smart these soldiers and pilots are. Impressive.
2. I think the six-year, $50-million deal for Roddy White in Atlanta seems fair as long as White, no matter how well he produces in the next four years, doesn't try to reopen it. The Falcons were willing to play ball with White with a year left on his deal, and the ability (quite likely, because of the looming uncapped year) to make him a restricted free-agent after this season. White had two nothing seasons and then two very good ones. For that, the Falcons should get a bare minimum of four years out of this contract.
3. I think the Hall of Fame needs to change one rule, and I realized this even more after my brother-in-law, Bob Whiteley, prodded me on it this weekend. The Hall mandates a minimum class of three each year, the theory being that in the off year that there might be a light class, it's good to ensure that at least three men can headline the Hall's premier weekend.
Consider this: The average Hall class the last 20 years has been 5.3 men, and there's a significant backlog of deserving candidates. Enshrinees have to get 80 percent of the vote from the 44 selectors, unless a minimum of three don't all get 80 percent of the vote. In that case, the top three vote-getters get in. I'd want every man in the Hall to have to get 80 percent of the vote to qualify, because the threshold should be the same for every man who earns a bust.
4. I think the Eagles have to be the most different team in the league from where they thought they'd be right now. Middle linebacker Stewart Bradley was lost on the first weekend with an ACL tear, and now rookie tight end Cornelius Ingram -- who'd been burning up camp with his athleticism and hands -- is out for his second straight year with an ACL tear. DeSean Jackson (MCL strain) is hobbling. With Jim Johnson gone too, the Eagles are the team with the toughest last two weeks of any in football.
5. I think these are my quick training-camp thoughts of the week:
a. Cleveland's Dave Zastudil punted like his foot had a rocket in it Sunday.
b. The Saints are playing down the balky knee of running back Reggie Bush, but every time I look up, he's missing practice, and the team keeps calling it a precaution. "He's fine,'' Sean Payton said Saturday. "I feel positive about it, but just want to monitor it." We'll see. Bush told a friend Saturday night he was 100 percent and wanted to play in the scrimmage, but Payton held him out.
c. Tough days for Drew Brees. With the law closing in on the troubled mother he was estranged from, Brees got word Friday that she had died, and he immediately left the team.
d. The Rams played James Laurinaitis with the first unit Sunday at middle linebacker, and it seems like a matter of time before the job is his for good. "He's picked up things really good right now,'' said coach Steve Spagnuolo. "The volume keeps getting heavier and heavier, but he's handled it pretty good.''
e. Vernon Davis. Does he have a death wish? The coach orders the team not to fight, and he fights. Mike Singletary is going to have some long days with his young tight end.
f. I hear Martellus Bennett makes a highlight-reel catch every day in San Antonio. Does any team have a better 1-2 combo platter at tight end than the Cowboys do with Jason Witten and Bennett, assuming Bennett produces this year in games the way he has in practice?
h. Jay Cutler, in front of 27,000 at Soldier Field Saturday, went 22 of 27. There's no stopping the hype now, and it's (mostly) justified.
i. In the Foxboro area today? Go to Patriots practice and get screened for skin cancer. The Patriots will be doing it, free, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and from 3-7 p.m. in the W3 lobby, the area where fans arrive for camp. Excellent and timely idea, considering that a million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year, and that Jim Johnson just died from it.
j. Braylon Edwards is actually upset that I picked the Browns to be the worst team in football in my spring Power Rankings. It amazes me what grates on players. A team goes 4-12, changes coaches, doesn't have a clear-cut quarterback, doesn't have a pass-rush ... and the Browns should be what? Fifteenth? Twentieth? Which reminds me: I have not had a soul in the game -- neither player nor club official or coach -- tell me I ranked their team too high. Next year, I've got a solution: I'm going to have a 32-way tie for first.
k. I've heard from a few of you about my selection of training-camp sites, and how East Coast-centric it is, and I hear you. Most years, I'll try to go to as many camps as I can in about a three-week period, and of course, that's easier when camps are in closer proximity, which they are in the East. But I appreciate the fact that you write and Tweet to tell me: Hey, there is football west of the Mississippi. This week, I begin to make my way west. I'm in Detroit today for the Lions, Terre Haute tomorrow for the Colts, St. Louis Wednesday, Bourbonnais, Ill., for the Bears Thursday, then out West for two preseason games this weekend: Denver and the Niners Friday in San Francisco, and Seattle-San Diego at Qualcomm Saturday night. I finish this trip next Monday in Denver.
l. Wish I could see all 32. But it's a death march to try. John Clayton did it once, and he survived. I'd fear for my health, my marriage and my sanity.
m. Next year, I've already decided I'll hit the places I haven't been to in the last couple of years, places like Miami, Tennessee, Houston and Arizona. But I'm bound and determined to finally see the Steelers' annual practice at Latrobe High School. The players take yellow school buses to the Friday-Night-Lights kind of practice, carrying their shoulder pads and helmets off the bus like they did in high school. "There's nothing like it in football,'' Steelers coach Mike Tomlin says, and it's one of the great things about this game I need to experience.
n. Saw that the Chargers fined Antonio Cromartie $2,500 for negatively Tweeting about the quality of food at training camp. That's absurd. Maybe he can earn the money back if he praises the oatmeal this morning.
o. But I would say this about Tweeting: I'd be worried about it if I were teams too -- and what I'd do if I ran a team is ban players from Tweeting whenever they're on company property. Let them Tweet when they're home, or on the road, or on their own time.
6. I think one of the things you may learn from the new season of Hard Knocks, beginning Wednesday on HBO and featuring the Bengals this year, is how open the network presents the normally reclusive Mike Brown, the club owner. And you may see a different side of Carson Palmer, who is bonding with brother Jordan, the backup quarterback, by developing iPhone applications in their down time. I'm praying for the network to use the story about runpee.com, which the Palmers developed to tell moviegoers when the best time would be to take a bathroom break. When you return, the iPhone could be programmed to tell you what you missed.
7. I think Tony Dungy knows the Mike Vick story far better than I, and if he says Vick will sign with a team in camp, I say he's right. I also say, again, that it won't be with the Raiders.
8. I think, the more I watch football this summer, Vick's new team should be the Bills. Nothing against Trent Edwards. I just think the Bills are in it to win it this year.
9. I think I've heard nothing but good things about Jay Cutler. Really excited to see him throw the ball Thursday in Bourbonnais.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. The Yankees and Red Sox can't play nice, quiet baseball games. They have to play games that rip your guts out, or rip the other guys' guts out. My guts, in fact, are laying in a heap on the floor of this nice Residence Inn a few miles from the Lions' complex. I feel sorry for the housekeeper who will have to figure out what to do with a set of guts this morning when she cleans the room.
b. For Sox fans, David Ortiz is getting to be like Ilsa in Casablanca. Instead of "We'll always have Paris," we can say, "We'll always have '04."
c. I threw out the first pitch at the Oneonta-TriCity ValleyCats New York-Penn League game last Monday in Troy, N.Y., throwing it shoulder-high and a bit inside to TriCity's Erik Castro, a right-handed hitter. It was a fastball, but thrown at a Wakefield-like speed. I've never done it before, and I was so determined to not throw it in the dirt that I probably aimed a little high. One piece of advice for you first-pitch throwers: Don't think about it too much. Thinking and throwing can turn you into Steve Sax in a hurry.
d. Coffeenerdness: Actually had nine shots of espresso in three separate lattes. If Adam Schefter needs a Tweet-ervention, I need an Espresso-vention.
e. Why haven't we become technologically advanced enough to be able to go online on airplanes? Is any airline doing this yet? I'd love to hear if one is. Let me know.
(Editor's note: Former NFL.com insider Adam Schefter wrote a special tribute to Peter King for SI.com. You can read it here.)
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