Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think these are my quick-hit thoughts of championship weekend:
a. Very good showing by the NFL (Roger Goodell, Merton Hanks, scores of Bears and Bucs, NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith) in making it to South Carolina to pay tribute to Gaines Adams at his funeral Thursday.
b. It's amazing how few people with existing jobs want to work under Lovie Smith in Chicago. That always says as much about how tenuous a head coach's job security is as anything else.
c. Remember eight months ago, when Jerry Angelo could have run for mayor in Chicago after the Jay Cutler trade? Seems like eight years ago.
d. I believe Adam Schefter. Welcome back for another year in paradise, Tom Cable.
e. Myron Rolle, the Florida State safety, is taking time off from his Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford to ply his wares at the Senior Bowl in Mobile.
f. Biggest play a player regrets of the day: New Orleans linebacker Scott Shanle staring an Adrian Peterson fumble right in front of him with a 21-14 lead, knowing that a recovery would be a gigantic momentum swing. Instead of diving on the ball, he tried to pick it up and run with it. And failed. The Vikings recovered and scored the tying touchdown a couple of minutes later.
g. I like what I saw in Mark Sanchez over the past 16 days. He finished the postseason 2-1, completing 41-of-68 throws for 539 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions for a 92.7 rating. If Braylon Edwards had caught the touchdown he dropped in Cincinnati, the rating would have been 101.4. Plenty to build on there.
h. Not a good day for Reggie Bush.
i. Not a particularly accurate day for Drew Brees. Too many overthrows.
j. The ref in New Orleans, Pete Morelli, had to make the call on Anthony Hargrove for driving Brett Favre into the ground. Had to. Driving the quarterback from off the ground into the ground is a no-brainer call.
2. I think Rex Ryan's mouth, and the zipped lips of the Colts, had nothing to do with Colts 30, Jets 17.
3. I think the Colts seem like a slight favorite over the Saints to me. Just seems the Indy offense is a tad more consistent, and I trust the Colt pass-rush more than New Orleans' right now.
4. I think Adrian Peterson has to go to the Tiki Barber School of Curing Fumbleitis. And soon. Like this week. How can you trust him right now, even after a three-touchdown game like the one he had in the Dome? If I'm Brad Childress, I'm keeping Chester Taylor around next year.
5. I think Jabari Greer is the poor man's Darrelle Revis. I will guarantee you that one of the first things Peyton Manning will do this week as he gathers video to watch to prep for the Super Bowl is study Greer, who he hasn't seen very much as a Buffalo corner before leaving for the Saints in free-agency.
6. I think this is what I liked about championship weekend:
a. Pierre Garcon. All seasons he's flashed signs of having a breakout game, and on the third Colts' series of the game, he had it. What a catch on the long fade, a limbo-like catch on his helmet.
b. Steve Tasker doing a nice job with the quick-question halftime interview of Jim Caldwell.
c. Thomas Morstead's kickoffs for the Saints. Weapons, all.
d. Len Pasquarelli on the road at a big game. The ESPN guru looks good, says he's feeling good and that's a sure sign (even though my bosses will frown on this) that you've got to read him every week.
e. Joseph Addai showing us all that there's life in his legs.
f. Jared Allen. If I were a quarterback, he'd scare me. Great moves, even when he's locked by one behemoth and chipped by another.
g. Sean Payton's advice to Garrett Hartley when he went on the field to kick the kick that sent the Saints to the Super Bowl: "There's a little fleur de lis between both uprights, and why don't you see if you can hit it dead center.''
7. I think this is what I didn't like about championship weekend:
a. Pet Peeve of the Week: I heard this a few times from media people and from fans in the past few days, alarmed at the number of people who were picking the Jets to upset the Colts in the AFC. "They're disrespecting the Colts!'' was the general theme. So silly. These are athletic contests. The Jets entered the weekend hot, charmed and with a very good running game facing an undersized front seven. It's not the stretch of the season to think the Jets could have beaten Indianapolis. It's not even one of the biggest upsets in recent history. In January, the hot teams always have a chance. It's no disrespect to say a hot team can beat a very good team.
b. Kickers. The infection has settled in on Jay Feely.
c. Never saw a return man field a punt at the one until I saw Darius Reynaud stupidly do it in the third quarter for the Vikes. The ball kept fading, and he should have known to let the thing roll into the end zone.
d. Not positive about the Ben Leber interference call on the game-winning overtime drive for the Saints, but it looked uncatchable to me.
e. Dwight Freeney limping off late in Jets-Colts. Trouble. Good thing there's the bye week. Peyton Manning said something interesting after the game, that he was so glad to have the bye week because he's mentally beat and needs the time to recover and study before the Super Bowl. "I don't know how they did the Super Bowl without the off week,'' he said.
f. Two domes for the conference championships. Give me weather.
8. I think, if you just saw David Harris explode in the first quarter Sunday for the first time, you should know this: In last April's draft, St. Louis had the second overall pick, Cleveland five and the Jets 17. When the Jets were looking to trade up high in the first round to pick Mark Sanchez, they spoke with the Rams, and one of the key elements for the Rams to make the deal was Harris, plus a slew of draft picks.
Rex Ryan wanted no part of trading Harris; he viewed Harris as the long-term centerpiece of his defense, like Ray Lewis was for him in Baltimore. If the Rams sat at two and picked Sanchez, which the Jets feared, then so be it. So the Jets put an if-Sanchez-is-there deal together with Cleveland that didn't involve Harris, and that ended up being the deal they made. There are times you need to be stubborn and say no, and this was a smart move by GM Mike Tannenbaum and Ryan, risking missing out on Sanchez because they didn't want to deal Harris.
9. I think you'd have enjoyed the dinner I shared with sportswriter pals and the girlfriend of one of them Saturday night at Emeril's Delmonico on St. Charles. As FOX Sports' Alex Marvez said, we never really get to do things like this much anymore. The sportswriting business has changed, particularly for national writers who no longer spend days in town before games. Budget cutbacks and restrictive media policies have diminished the importance of actually getting to a city two or three days before a big game and spending time with the important characters in the game.
Anyway, I rounded up a few writers (some I don't know well but should) and we had a nice meal ... and I proposed a pool for the nine people at the table. Throw $5 in the pool, and pick the team that drafts Tim Tebow. I proposed we do the order of the draft with those living farthest from Gainesville having the first pick, and here it went:
Mike Silver, Yahoo!Sports (Northern California) Jacksonville
Immediately upon hearing my pick, Silver sent the following text-message to San Francisco GM Scot McCloughan: "You can't pick Tebow. It has something to do with a pool, alcohol, and Peter King.'' A minute later, two letters came back from McCloughan: "ok.''
Come on! Stand up for your Tebow, Scot!
Jeff Duncan, New Orleans Times-Picayune (New Orleans) Miami
"You might be right,'' I said to Angela, who works for a technology company. "But why'd you pick Denver?''
"I'm from Denver!'' she said.
Alex Marvez, Foxsports.com (South Florida) Cleveland
And the crowd went "Ooooooooh,'' on Cole's pick of the Pats.
So someone's going to win $45 ... or some New Orleans cause is going to get a free $45 if it's another team. That's what we'll do with this pot if Tebow goes to any of the other 23 teams in the league.
10. I think these are my non-title game thoughts of the week:
a. My very best wishes to one of the classic and classy men in the NFL business, longtime Packer PR man Lee Remmel, who is ailing in Green Bay. He was always one of Brett Favre's favorites. He called Favre in his deep voice, "Brett Lorenzo Favre,'' and Favre once played one of the great bus-to-the-stadium jokes on Remmel anyone has ever played.
Favre bought a remote-control fart machine (what a country!) and put it beneath Remmel's seat near the front of the bus for the ride from the Chicago hotel to Soldier Field before a game against the Bears. As the quiet bus made its way to the stadium, Favre kept pressing the button on the machine, and the fart sounds kept coming from under Remmel's seat, and Mike Holmgren shot a few dirty looks over his shoulder at whoever was doing this nonsense.
Remmel covered Don Hutson and later Vince Lombardi as a sportswriter, then went to work as the Packer PR man, one of the best ever to do the job. "Lee's been a great friend,'' Favre told me in a text-message over the weekend. "He truly loves his Packers. A walking stat book!''
b. Best wishes also to ailing John Minko of WFAN in New York, recovering from bypass surgery. Good guy, good Hoosier.
c. Asked Rick Gosselin, the hugely respected draft/NFL man for the Dallas Morning News who does the best mock draft in our business, for his over/under on the overall pick for Tebow. "Twenty-eight,'' he said.
d. Coffeenerdness: The great thing about P.J.'s Coffee in New Orleans? People go there to read, to have civil discussions (I heard a local politics discussion among five retirees in the P.J.'s on Maple Street near the Tulane campus Friday morning) and to work quietly. It's what coffee shops should be. And right across the street is a Starbucks. Both times I've been to P.J.'s, the stores have been more crowded than the nearby Starbucks.
e. Those of you who travel a lot will understand why the best news of the week for me was squeezing into the Conrad Hotel in Indianapolis for the upcoming NFL Scouting Combine. What a gem of a hotel.
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