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Posted: Monday August 24, 2009 2:39AM; Updated: Friday August 28, 2009 12:27PM
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MMQB (cont.)

Quote of the Week I

Michael Vick is expected to make his preseason debut Thursday night in Philadelphia against the Jaguars.
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"Michael, you can't do that.''
-- Mentor Tony Dungy to Michael Vick, after Vick was spotted by the New York Post drinking a Grey Goose and pineapple juice at a Philadelphia hotel bar.

Vick can have a drink; that does not violate any terms of his return to the NFL. But Dungy's point was that Vick needs to be a saint as he gets back on the road to a life in football. He can't give the media or the public any ammunition to suggest he isn't doing everything he can to live a clean life and devote himself totally to football. Unfair? Yes. But until Roger Goodell green-lights Vick back into football, Vick has to be sure he doesn't give anyone reason to doubt him.

Quote of the Week II

"We'll probably have to go at it again one more time when we're not playing a game. There's going to be bad blood between us.''
-- Detroit defensive end Dewayne White, after an only-in-Detroit moment happened in pregame warmups in Cleveland Saturday night -- a fight with a teammate. White and tight end Carson Butler brawled on the field.

I imagine when head coach Jim Schwartz reads this quote (he's probably already seen it), he might have something to say to White -- something like, "If you fight Carson Butler in practice this week, I'll make sure you never fight anybody in anybody's camp again for the rest of your life.''

Quote of the Week III

"I wish he stayed retired. I really do. You know, I love the guy to death but enough is enough. I would love to be in that locker room when he first arrives because there's clearly going to be players in there that aren't happy, and it's not just going to be the two quarterbacks.''
-- Former Green Bay tight end and Brett Favre buddy Mark Chmura, on ESPN Radio in Milwaukee, via

Stat of the Week

Of the 98 players who either played or were named to the Pro Bowl last year, three are scheduled to be free agents in a potential capless year, 2010. As I wrote earlier, it points out how ridiculously slim the free-agent crop will be next spring when the three alluded to Pro Bowl players are:

Player Pos. NFL seasons Age as of March 2010
Julius Peppers DE 9 30
Kevin Mawae C 17 39
Jeff Feagles P 23 44

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me

I am still shaking my head at the Chad Ochocinco display Thursday night. OK, lots of NFL players can walk off the street and kick an extra point. Big deal. But Ocho's kickoff to start the second half? Pretty impressive. A little background.

Near the end of the second quarter, the man judged the best kicker in the NFL last year, Stephen Gostkowski, the Patriots All-Pro kicker, kicked the ball off from the Patriots' 30 to the Cincinnati 9, a 61-yard boot. To start the third quarter, Ochocinco, a right-footed, soccer-style kicker, rainbowed one 61 yards to the Pats' nine. Same kick. Same weather conditions. Same result. "He's a terrific player,'' Bill Belichick said a day later. "I love his competitiveness. I love his enthusiasm for the game.''

Talked to Ochocinco on Sunday night (how weird it is to write "talked to Ochocinco"?), and he said he played soccer from 4 to 14 growing up in Miami. "Soccer's my first love,'' he said. "I only gave it up my freshman year in high school because it was time to get serious about football as a career.''

"I'm having a lot of trouble calling you, 'Chad Ochocinco,''' I said.

"Just call me 'Ocho,' '' he said. "That's not hard.''

Anyway, regarding his 61-yard kickoff, he said he wasn't surprised. "I've kicked field goals at [Paul Brown Stadium], just fooling around, from 53 yards. Imagine if I devoted practice time to it. There is no doubt in my mind I could kick in this league. Really, I want to kick so bad.''

The dream ended Sunday -- not because the Bengals don't think Johnson could be an adequate emergency kicker, but because they don't want him to risk getting hurt kicking. With incumbent Shayne Graham out for the rest of the preseason, Cincinnati signed free agent Sam Swank from Wake Forest on Sunday.

"Totally unnecessary,'' Ocho said.

Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week

Regarding the non-guaranteed, guaranteed reservation that got me booted from the Westin Hotel in San Diego nine days ago: I am not boycotting Westin Hotels. I probably should, but I realize the ultimate futility of it all, because Westin (and the hotel industry) is not going to change its policy of overbooking hotels in hopes of selling out every night. I got a genuflecting letter from the president of the Starwood Hotel Group (parent of Westin), Matt Avril, and we agree to disagree on the ridiculous unfairness of someone paying for a room and there still being a slight chance of it not being available at check-in.

Should I bore you with the details? Avril's point, in brief, is that hotels allow guests to reserve rooms weeks in advance and then cancel hours before the day of arrival -- 24 hours at Westin's -- without incurring a charge. But in the case of the Westin San Diego, the 436-room hotel might have 20 people cancel their reservations, and then the hotel, which held the rooms for them only to have them cancel a day or two before arrival, would be stuck with unsold rooms if the hotel couldn't fill them with walk-ins or late reservations. So this Westin sells about 20 more rooms than it has inventory on the busy nights when it can, and hopes it guesses right.

On this particular night, there were 16 no-shows, not 20 or more. And so four of us got whacked. "There's not a great solution,'' Avril told me Saturday, "when you try to provide maximum consumer flexibility.''

I suppose not. But I can't get by this: If my credit card is being charged for a room, and I don't show up (or I don't show up 'til 4 a.m.), then the hotel has sold the room.

I decided not to boycott because Westin gave me a free room 10 blocks away in a similar-style hotel, and because I don't think they're any different from the other big chains, and because they have been responsive while not groveling about the issues I've raised.

The biggest thing I told Avril: When you reach the point of saturation at the hotel, it's idiotic to wait for those with guaranteed reservations to come in and be furious and then get sent somewhere. When the hotel is full, if there are four people still expected, call or text or e-mail them immediately -- or call the travel agent who booked the reservation, who theoretically can contact the traveler and tell him where he now is staying. He promised they'd do better in "improving our communication dynamics'' when a customer is jobbed.

Let's speak English here: Just call or text or e-mail the loser who's on the street, or his travel agent, and give a free room somewhere else in town. That's the solution.

Tweet of the Week

"Unforgettable images: Arthur Blank pushing Vick's wheelchair; Brad Childress as chauffeur to Favre.''
-- latimesfarmer, Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, after the Vikings coach picked up Favre and wife Deanna at the St. Paul Airport for the 30-minute ride to the Minnesota training facility.

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