Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think I saw the attendance at the NBA All-Star Game last night -- Mark Cuban announced it as 108,713 -- and couldn't believe what I heard. I've got to think Jerry Jones, standing near Cuban as he made the announcement, had to be thinking: We'll get 125,000, somehow, for that Super Bowl next year. It's not only that Jones actually has smaller seats he can slide into the rows of the stadium (which were in place at the NBA game), but also he has the ability to pack a few more people in the open end of the end zone, where lots of people stand now. He's got to be thinking of a way to set the American football attendance mark so it doesn't get challenged for a long time.
2. I think I'm still waiting for the league to fine Bryant McKinnie for going on strike during Pro Bowl week and simply not showing up to practice. Where is the spine of the league? Fine the man. Heavily.
3. I think the four GM-types I talked to last week had no answer to how anyone will structure a contract that gets free-agent defensive end Julius Peppers signed. There's not only the part about paying him what he thinks he's worth -- in excess of $15-million a year, which won't happen -- but also the part about giving a 30-year-old player lots of guaranteed money and then having the 2011 season disrupted or ruined with a job action.
4. I think Bill Polian is right. He needs to make Gary Brackett a happy man and get him signed. The one thing NFL teams learned watching the Colts defense in January is that Brackett plays bigger than he is, and he has a Ray Lewis-like nose for the ball. I think that, plus what a great leader Brackett is, could get him signed somewhere for a little bit of money.
5. I think Chester Taylor's the hidden skill-position gem of the unrestricted free-agent crop. He's 30, but a lightly used 30-year-old back who could be a solid co-number one for a team like San Diego, Washington or Detroit.
6. I think these are the five unrestricted free agents who could get the most play when the market opens for business March 5:
a. Linebacker Karlos Dansby, Arizona. Just 28 and with ranginess and the ability to play the run well, he's the best all-around linebacker out there.
b. Defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin, San Francisco. The Niners will have to franchise him to keep him out of the paws of a 3-4 team needing a noseman.
c. Wide receiver Kevin Walter, Houston. With so many teams needing a veteran receiver (Baltimore especially), Walter will have choices.
d. Defensive end/OLB Aaron Kampman, Green Bay. A misfit in Green Bay ... could be happy elsewhere. A proven pass-rusher. Could the Pats bite?
e. Cornerback Leigh Bodden, New England. Saved his career with a respectable '09 season, and the corner market is absolutely bare.
7. I think I'd have put Green Bay defensive tackle Ryan Pickett on that list, and he may get a lot of traffic on the market, except that too many people remember his Ram days. That'll keep the money he's offered down.
8. I think I'm just like everyone else who follows this game: I wonder who will employ LaDainian Tomlinson in 2010. I have a strong feeling Mike Shanahan will look at some San Diego tape, but my guess is L.T. will be too old for the 'Skins.
9. I think it's 66 days 'til the first round of the draft, and my money's on Ndamukong Suh wearing Ram blue and gold with the first pick.
10. I think before I get to my non-football thoughts of the week, here's a link to SI.com's gallery of memorable moments from the 2009 season:
a. I forgot to mention I rented a Prius out here over the weekend. What a nice car. Exceedingly quiet, and I don't notice the slow acceleration. Neat dashboard too.
b. Had a Remdawg at Jerry Remy's Sports Grill at Logan Airport the other night before leaving. And Jerry, one piece of advice: I'm a big man, as you may know, and I would have had to be three of me to finish that monster dog. But thanks for all the beer choices. Excellent tap diversity, from Green Monstah Ale to Sam Adams Noble Pils.
c. On the other coast, we had a great meal at Corkbar downtown. A winebar with all California wines and California microbrews. It helps that the chef, Albert, read my book. And I'll return the props: The man makes one great burger.
d. And one other L.A. food note: I've been introduced to Body Factory smoothies, and I'll be back. Often.
e. Coffeenerdness: If you're asked if you want cream for coffee, shouldn't it be at least half-and-half? Too many places say, "Cream for your coffee?'' and then hand you a little thing with skim milk or 2-percent milk in it.
f. Where would "The Office'' be without the Nard Dog? What an acquisition.
g. Every time I hear about the decline of newspapers, I read an incredible piece, like this one about the drug problem along the Mexico-U.S. border, and I think there's no way papers can die. Check out the great story by Dan Barry of the New York Times.
h. Very impressed with the Kings Saturday night. Competitive, feisty, blue-collar team with an excellent goalie. The U.S. is making a mistake if Jonathan Quick doesn't get real playing time in Vancouver. Good crowd too. Kings sold out every game in February. Enjoyable night at Staples Center.
i. Belated condolences to the family of Baltimore Sun sportswriter Cameron Snyder, a true one-of-a-kind character who covered the 1958 Championship Game and 1969 Super Bowl ... and stayed around to cover, of all things, minor-league hockey. Went to his first game and got up after the second period and the friend who accompanied him, Ernie Accorsi, said to him, hold on, there're three periods in a hockey game. "Two halftimes!'' Snyder exclaimed. A football man, through and through. He'll be missed.
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