Stat of the Week I
Last year, in the first six games of the season, Tennessee allowed seven touchdowns.
Yesterday, in a 36-minute span against New England, Tennessee allowed eight touchdowns.
Stat of the Week II
The Eagles and Andy Reid's agent, Bob LaMonte, are in negotiations to extend his contract beyond the 2010 season, after which the current deal is due to expire. It's not that the fandom is up in arms over the talks, but many Eagle fans are ambivalent about Reid; he's turned the Eagles into consistent winners but never has led the team to a Super Bowl victory. I thought I'd compare Reid at this stage of his career to another long-term Pennsylvania coach, Bill Cowher, who also had some in Pennsylvania questioning whether he should keep his job after 10 or 11 years. Reid coached his 165th regular-season game in Oakland Sunday, so that's my line of demarcation. Here's how each coach's record looked five games into his 11th season (165 games):
Eerie. Other than physique, jaw structure and a pathetic 2008 Eagles tie against the Bengals, how can the two careers be any closer in the middle of their 11th seasons?
Cowher won a division in his 11th year, went 6-10 in his 12th, went 15-1 in his 13th but lost to New England in the playoffs, won the Super Bowl in his 14th, and went 8-8 in his 15th, and last, season. I think if you asked the average Steelers fan, he'd think the Rooney family's patience with Cowher was a smart thing.
Maybe the average Eagles fan can't see the future as clearly right now, but I would give one caution to those with Reid fatigue: It appears they not only have Donovan McNabb for at least a couple more prime seasons (probably), but also have developed a legitimate heir in 25-year-old Kolb. Ten years into the Cowher reign, the Steelers didn't have one quarterback, never mind two.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
So I went to Yankee Stadium the other night to watch Yankees-Angels. Pretty cold. In the bottom of the fourth, a vendor came by. "Hot chocolate!'' he yelled. "Hot chocolate!''
I looked at his badge: Hot chocolate $10.
Sixteen ounces of chocolate-flavored water. Ten bucks. I went online to try to quantify the profit margin, and the best I can figure is the Yankees must be making about $9.15 profit on each hot chocolate sold. I looked at a bulk shopping site, nextag.com, and figured that bulk Swiss Miss would be 23 cents a serving, an insulated cup and lid a combined 6.5 cents, and let's call the hot water 5 cents. And let's say the vendor makes 50 cents per cup sold; I wondered via Tweet how much per vessel an average vendor makes, and the answer varied far and wide, but it seemed like 50 cents per cup was about the average that vendors get. If that figure is right -- or close -- it means the team makes approximately 91 percent profit on every sale of the watery cocoa.
Readers of this column know I'm a faithful follower of the Red Sox. And maybe the Yankees aren't any different from many teams and many products all over sporting America. It's just that, $10 for a cup of hot chocolate, I think we'd all agree, is over the top. Let me put it this way. Thirty-one years ago, I was an intern for the Cincinnati Enquirer and was lucky enough to get one of the paper's tickets a few rows behind home plate to a Reds-Cardinals game at Riverfront Stadium, on June 16, 1978. That night, Tom Seaver pitched the only no-hitter of his career. Face value of the ticket: $8. In fact, the Reds didn't have a $10 ticket in those days.
And that's what I thought of when watching this vendor walk down our upper-deck aisle: I had the best seat in the house for a no-hitter, and that ticket cost less than a hand-warmer would run me on this night.
Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week
Ten notes from a quickie trip to Texas last Monday/Tuesday to see U2 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington:
1. U2 was good. Breathe, Ultraviolet, Walk On, City of Blinding Lights and New Year's Day sounded best to me. I liked the acoustics, relatively speaking, in JerryWorld.
2. Cowboys Stadium is a lavish place (massive understatement), and as roomy as any outdoor or indoor stadium I've been in. The traffic going in was manageable -- 42 minutes from downtown Dallas to the parking lot. I'll withhold a longer review until I see a football game there. The videoboard, having been raised by U2 to accommodate its own gigantic spaceship/claw-thing around the stage, was inactive, which was a bummer. Would have loved to see a 164-foot-wide HD TV in action.
3. In attendance: Jerry and Stephen Jones (before flying to league meetings in Boston in the middle of the night), Gene Jones (nice touch with all the art in the building, Mrs. Jones), Tiger Woods, Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Wade and Laurie Phillips, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Troy Aikman, Miles Austin ... and about 82,990 others. As the band began to play I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, Bono said: "Tiger Woods, this is for you!''
4. Never, ever, ever eat airport Chinese food. I know it smells good when you pass by, but remember the last time you got it, and the sesame chicken was 70 percent breading, 15 percent inedible goo over the breading, 6 percent gristle, 4 percent tough meat, and 2 percent sesame? It hasn't changed. Walk on by.
5. When in Dallas, I strongly, strongly recommend the Sixth Floor Museum, nee the Texas School Book Depository. Last Tuesday was my third trip there, and I'd go again tomorrow. You take an audio tour for $13.50, and you stand on the same floor as Lee Harvey Oswald stood, and you look out the same windows onto Dealey Plaza that he looked onto on Nov. 22, 1963. It's moving, and you can't help but be emotional when you see the boxes stacked in the same formation that supposedly they were stacked for Oswald when he shot out the open window at John F. Kennedy 46 years ago. I'm not even a Kennedy buff, nor am I a history buff, but I think it's one of the most vivid museum tours you can take, anywhere.
6. "What's this with you and Mark Cuban?'' Aikman asked me. "Wish I knew,'' I said.
7. Saw one of the strangest airport signs-of-the-times I've ever seen when changing plans in Atlanta on the way home: a flu-shot kiosk.
8. Every aircraft should have a hand-disinfectant dispenser.
9. Since when did it become OK for flight attendants to pass the hat for a cause? I'm all in favor of breast-cancer research and fund-raising, but on airplanes? Every leg of every Delta flight? On an early-morning Delta flight, one flight attendant told us she'd let us sleep as long as we donated enough money (chuckling), but then semi-strong-armed us ('We can do better than $315, folks!'') when the first passing of the hat didn't result in enough money for her liking. I'd be interested in your responses on this, but it struck me as a little creepy.
10. One guy in front of me boarding the packed Dallas-to-Atlanta flight had a rolling bag, a fat briefcase and a lined trench coat. He stopped at about row 21 and shoved all of it in the overhead bin, completely filling one bin designed to store the stuff of two or three passengers, and then closed the bin. A couple of minutes later, the flight attendant announced that people would have to start checking their bags because the overheads were full. Thanks, pigman.
Tweet of the Week
"In the first four grafs of his Jets story, the Post's Mark Cannizzaro uses the words: fraud, abysmal and stench.''
-- @judybattista, who is Judy Battista, the fine New York Times football writer, Tweeting at 10:23 Sunday night.
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