Quote of the Week I
"I want to hand this trophy to the MVP of the Super Bowl -- and the MVP of the entire league.''
Quote of the Week II
"Not bad for number 24.''
In the offseason, I ranked the 32 teams from top to bottom, and I ranked the Saints 24th on my list. To say I've been reminded of that several times in the past few months would be an understatement. I feel quite sure when Payton is 78 and wasting away in Margaritaville, and we run into each other, he's going to say, "Here's the genius who said we'd stink the year we won the Super Bowl.''
Quote of the Week III
"Not everyone knows that the name Hogs came from a description of Russ Grimm. He was lying on the ground at the end of a blocking drill and [offensive line coach] Joe Bugel walked by and Russ had his stomach peeking out of his shirt. Buges said, 'Man, Russ get up. You look like a Hog laying on the ground.' After that the rest of us decided to poke fun at Buges and wear white shirts to practice and we all had Hogs written on them. Buges said to us, 'Why are you doing that?' We said, 'Because we are in solidarity with Russ and if you call him a Hog, you have to call us all Hogs.' That is where the name came from.''
"I think Russ is the greatest guard to ever play pro football,'' Starke said after Grimm went in to the Hall of Fame. I disagree, but as I said earlier in this column, Grimm's the guy I'm happiest for after this year's balloting.
Quote of the Week IV
"Well, it's a lifelong dream, really. I just cannot imagine anything else that could be any more rewarding for any individual who has made football [his life] -- I've been fortunate enough to make football my life pursuit. Now, to have my name alongside all those great NFL players throughout history is an incredibly humbling honor. I just can't believe it, to be honest, and I am so much indebted to our current players and to the players who took me to the Super Bowl and kept my name current, even though it's been a long, long time since I've played.''
The Fine Fifteen
1. New Orleans (16-3). At 10:05 p.m., soon after the Saints won the Super Bowl (can't believe I just wrote that), my friend Josh Norman, who lives in New Orleans, texted me thusly: "Utter delirium in New Orleans right now.'' At 10:28 came this: "I've been all over the world and I've never seen a celebration as epic as this. This is beyond words. The earth is vibrating.''
2. Indianapolis (16-3). I know everyone's concentrating on the Colts not being able to convert third-and-one late in the first half, gifting the Saints with three points before halftime, and for allowing New Orleans to recover an onside kick. But for my money, the Pierre Garcon drop midway during the second quarter was just as big.
3. Minnesota (13-5). So if Brett Favre does retire, who's next? McNabb? Vick? Pennington? The one name I never hear for the starting 2010 QB job in the Twice Cities is an interesting one: Tarvaris Jackson.
4. New York Jets (11-8). I'll bet you a lot of money Rex Ryan gave his middle-finger apology through gritted teeth and hated every word of his statement.
5. San Diego (13-4). I'm starting a pool: Pick the running back who will have the most carries on the Chargers in 2010. My choice? Jahvid Best, rookie, Cal.
6. Dallas (12-6). Now that the triplets are in, when does the campaign start for Larry Allen's election in 2013?
7. Arizona (11-7). I'm waiting for the first Cardinals lineman (Deuce Latui) to say next summer, "Wait -- coach Grimm actually played football?'' This just before Arizona assistant head coach Russ Grimm leaves for three days to get inducted into the Hall of Fame.
8. Green Bay (11-6). You people in Wisconsin are lucky to read Bob McGinn in the Journal Sentinel every day.
9. Baltimore (10-8). If I'm the Ravens, I pounce on Donte' Stallworth with a totally incentive-laden contract. It's just what they need (a veteran receiver who still has a chance to be good) at low guaranteed money. And it's just what he needs -- a blank canvas. A chance.
10. Philadelphia (11-6). Breakout Eagle of 2010: LeSean McCoy.
11. New England (10-7). The appointment of no one as offensive or defensive coordinator is curious. I don't see it as a money issue. I see it as an issue of there's no one out there I can bring in worth disrupting the staff.
12. Pittsburgh (9-7). Don't fret, Steelers fans. One of these years Dermontti Dawson is going to make the Hall of Fame.
13. Carolina (8-8). I realize Julius Peppers is coming off a good season, but I'll believe he won't be a Panther when I see it. Who else is going to step up and pay him more than $15 million a year, on average? He's just not worth Manning money.
14. Cincinnati (10-7). Terrell Owens in stripes will happen the day I run an ultra-marathon.
15. Houston (9-7). Eric Winston, the Texans' tackle, is very good on Twitter. Here's what he said on national signing day for high school football seniors: "Lol. Speaking of ND, I might have been one of the few guys to get a phone call from HC George O'Leary. The next day, he resigned.''
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