Quote of the Week I
"We need a touchdown here, but let's not be in a hurry to score.''
How amazing this game was, obviously. The Colts, with four minutes to go, trailed 34-21 and had the ball at their own 21. To think they'd be trying to bleed the clock and waste time at the end ... well, it just shows what an incredibly weird and compelling spectacle this was.
Quote of the Week II
"I'd like to apologize to all the fantasy football players out there. Sorry for taking the knee.''
Quote of the Week III
"Third false start for the Packers, who I believe are at home this week.''
Quote of the Week IV
"I love the way Al [Davis] runs the team. People give Al a lot of grief, but Al is an old AFL guy. The NFL tried to bury the AFL for years, and finally when the AFL caught up and was about to pass these guys, a couple of owners took the league and tried to merge behind Al's back. So he has been an outlaw ever since. He is going to do it his way; he has won three championships his way, and I love how the Raiders are run.''
Gut Feeling of the Week: Mr. Cube will soon be named to the Raiders Board of Directors.
Stat of the Week
The ESPN documentary on Jimmy "the Greek'' Snyder was absolutely terrific the other night -- insightful and accurate. As I tried to think of a way to put the importance of The Greek and his show in perspective, I thought of one word: volume. Here's a chart comparing 1987 -- just one generation ago -- to today in NFL pre-game show volume:
For those too young to remember the significance of "The NFL Today'' and Jimmy The Greek, or for those of you reading this in a college dorm and who know Brent Musberger only from the big college games on Saturday, take a minute to learn history.
Musberger was the voice of CBS and led most every red-blooded American into NFL games for 15 years, starting in 1975. He was smart and never knocked off his feet. The Greek picked games on TV, though he was careful never to mention the spreads. "He'd say, 'I like the Cowboys big,' or, 'I like the Cowboys close,' and people could figure out what he was saying.''
Bob Costas said the other day. "He was a character. The show was the defining show about football, and it was a little slice of Americana.''
The Greek, angry at a perceived lack of TV time, once slugged Musberger in a bar. He was fired after the 1987 season for making racially divisive comments. The ESPN show focused on the tragic life that Greek's became. Good viewing.
Just think: In two decades, there's been a 550-percent increase in NFL pregame show programming. No wonder so little in NFL featuredom is special anymore. (And three years earlier, ESPN didn't even have a show. The sports network started a one-hour pre-gamer in 1985, long before it had rights to a game of the week.)
People ask me what the biggest difference is in covering the NFL today versus the early years I covered it; my first season as an NFL beat guy was 1984. That's easy. Access to players and coaches is monumentally different. The NFL landscape is under siege from reporters, producers, anchors and editors, all wanting to do something different, something new, and all wanting time with the big players of the day. I don't get angry about it, and I don't pound my fist on desks of PR guys or agents, screaming for access.
The perfect example is the Peyton Manning story that graced the cover of Sports Illustrated last week. Manning had no interest in cooperating or dining or sitting down with me -- or anyone for that matter. Nothing personal; he's in a stretch of tough games, and the last thing he wants to do is allocate any more time for the media than he has to while he prepares for the games. And what is one more SI cover to Peyton Manning anyway? Or one more sit-down with Rachel Nichols?
I remember in Boomer Esiason's heyday with the Bengals, sitting with him in his hotel room the night before a big game, talking to him for a story and then actually quizzing him on formations and pass-routes he planned to use the next day. Today, it's rare to talk to a player the night before the game, and actually being in his room, having an in-depth interview? My God, the alarm bells that would go off if that ever happened.
Not complaining, mind you. It's the reality of the business. Adapt or get out.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
I have to thank my SI.com buddy Ross Tucker for the idea on this one:
Minnesota center John Sullivan, who snaps the ball to Brett Favre, has a 2009 salary of $385,000. Favre earns $705,882 ... per week.
Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week
Three Kindle readers in my Amtrak car to New York on Saturday. I had the thinish John Grisham book of short stories, and the Kindles were thinner -- and they contained up to 200 books. I peered over the shoulder of the woman in front of me for a minute and saw bright, easy-to-read type, and I thought of every bookshelf in our apartment being full, and I thought: I know exactly what I want for Christmas.
Tweet of the Week
"The Who?!?! What's their target market? CSI fans?''
What an odd choice.
I am 52. I like The Who. Then again, I am not the future of the NFL. This band was formed 45 years ago; 39 years ago it did its signature album, "Who's Next.'' Two of the original band members, Keith Moon and John Entwistle, are dead. The other two are 65 (Pete Townsend) and 66 (Roger Daltrey). This group is almost too old for Roger Goodell.
Shameless MMQB Book Promotion of the Week
I'll be signing today and then returning my first batch of Monday Morning Quarterback books you've sent, and they'll be sent out in the mail this week. Heck of a deal we're running at SI between now and Dec. 4: For the cost of a book and the shipping to New York (Barnes and Noble and Amazon have it on sale in the $17 range), you can get the thing autographed, personalized and shipped back for you in time for the holidays.
Send the book by Dec. 4, and I'll mail it back to you by Dec. 12. Send to:
On Saturday, I'll be in my old hometown of Montclair, N.J., at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center, from 4-6 p.m. I'll have a short reading, sign, and answer everyone's NFL questions. Come by if you can.
NFL Truth & Rumors