Quote of the Week I
"You know the Patriots don't really pay, so when I got my second contract from them that was a blessing in disguise. I understand the business. I don't think they're going to re-sign me back. I'm not mad. I'm not bitter. It's just the way things are in this NFL, so like I said, after this year, I'll be looking for a new team. I think so.''
Quote of the Week II
"I coached 20 years in the NFL, and we cut players all the time who can still play in the league. It takes time for players to develop. The NFL needs this league.''
Quote of the Week III
"Football's come so easy to him. Does he love it the way Steve Smith or Bryant Young or Jerry Rice love it? I don't think so. But he's got so much God-given ability ... You do think, 'Man, a guy with that much ability, imagine if he did love it.' ''
The Olympic Award Section
About that hockey game last night: Wow. Or in the words of NBC color man Ed Olczyk, late in the third period of Canada-USA, and a bit breathlessly: "This has been tremendously tremendous!"
I counted seven Canadian shots on goalie Ryan Miller of the Sabres in a mesmerizing 50-second span when the Americans were clinging to a 4-3 lead late in the game. Amazing thing: This wasn't even a medal game, and every guy on the ice played like it was their last time on skates.
I have heard the NHL is waffling on whether to interrupt the NHL season in 2014 for the Olympics, when the Games are in Russia. Big, big mistake. The NHL is getting more exposure than it ever would under any other circumstances. The NHLers simply must remain a part of the Games.
Hero of the night, obviously: Miller with his 42 saves. "My job is to stay very consistent," he said on MSNBC. "If we see these guys again, they'll be plenty mad." No kidding. But the upshot of this game is the Canadians will have to win four games in a row to win the gold medal now, and they're firmly behind the 8-ball.
Now a nod to the 25 or so hours I've watched of the Olympics in the last week. Five quick observations:
1. Ski racing is more dangerous than NASCAR.
2. I love curling. It's mesmerizing. But for me it's like field hockey was when my kids were in school: By the time you figure out all the rules, the games are over.
3. Evgeni Plushenko's a baby.
4. Best event of the first 10 days of the Olympics: Canada 3, Switzerland 2 (shootout), men's hockey, on a Sidney Crosby goal in the shootout and four Martin Brodeur saves in said shootout. My Devils fan-ness came out on the last couple of Brodeur saves, and I'm glad my Boston neighbors Andrew and Alison with the new twins didn't call the cops on me. And one other observation: Doc Emrick is one hell of a hockey announcer. If hockey were big in this country, he'd be what Jack Buck used to be.
5. There can't be many more beautiful places on earth than Whistler, where the skiing is taking place.
Now for a few awards, good and bad:
Olympian of the Week, male
Jonas Hiller, goalie, Switzerland (hockey).
He made three saves that defy description in the 3-2 shootout loss to the Canadians, and if you ask anyone who watched, they'll tell you it should never have gone to a shootout -- that the Swiss should have lost this game 6-2 or 7-2 in regulation. The Anaheim Ducks' goalie stopped a perfect shot in a 4-on-2 chance and made 43 other saves in a dream game for an underdog goalie in Vancouver.
Olympian of the Week, female
Anja Paerson, downhill and Super Combined, Sweden (skiing).
If, like me, you have been drawn to the TV by the Lindsey Vonn coverage, you stumbled into seeing one of the great women's ski racers of all-time, the 28-year-old veteran Paerson. She entered the Games with five Olympic medals, and on the icy-fast women's downhill course Wednesday, she flew off the final crest near the finish line, jetted about 50 yards down the mountain off the surface, hit with a bang, tumbled over, bounced hard twice, hit her helmeted head on the icy ground and looked seriously injured when she came to a stop.
After being helped by two aides off the course, she was headed for the hospital, I was sure. "If you see the crash, it is a amazing she can actually walk,'' her coach, Ulf Emilsson, said. But the next day, with a badly bruised thigh and calf and a ringing headache, she was back for the Super Combined, which is one downhill run and one slalom run around those gates that look like the flags in golf holes. And she won the bronze, her sixth medal as an Olympian. "I wouldn't be able to win a beauty contest today, but I don't care as long as I can ski,'' Paerson said. And that's what the Olympics should be about.
Dillweed of the Week
Evgeni Plushenko, figure skating, Russia.
It's a real word, sort of. Urbandictionary.com defines "dillweed'' as "a person who is generally not smart. This person cannot realize the obvious and is oblivious to reality.'' That defines Plushenko and his camp after the dillweed lost the gold medal in men's figure skating to Evan Lysacek of the United States.
"It's not men's figure skating, it's dancing,'' Plushenko said, ripping Lysacek's program because the America didn't have a quad jump in his routine. But watch the two programs. Lysacek was clean. Plushenko was wobbly. His logic was even more wobbly, and he personified bush-league with his babyish rant.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
The Baltimore Ravens have a soft real-and-fake grass mix at their training facility in Owings Mills, Md., called SportGrass. No player likes to be timed on SportGrass, preferring the faster track of a tartan track or artificial turf. But the Ravens have used the surface to time players for the 40-yard dash for several years, and it usually results in a time about two-tenths of a second slower than the time a player would run on a track or pure artificial turf.
When 29-year-old Donte' Stallworth worked out for the team early last week, he stepped foot on the SportGrass and ran a 4.40-second 40. It's the fastest time recorded on the turf by the club.
Stat of the Week
Someone asked me this week what the Hall of Fame selection committee, of which I am a member, is going to do about the logjam of wide receivers at the doorstep of Canton. I said, "Damned if I know.''
I've been adamant that we have to start getting some of these guys -- of the Cris Carter ilk -- in the Hall, and so I thought I'd compare the last three receivers to get into the Hall before this year, with the three men who didn't get in this year. The numbers:
OK, I realize the game is different than when Hayes played. But Monk often played in three-wide formations as the passing game exploded, and Irvin is a peer with Carter, Brown and Reed. We have to ask ourselves as a committee: Is Carter, with double the touchdowns of Irvin, 351 more catches and being a better boundary ball-catcher ... not deserving just because Irvin leads him in Super Bowl victories 3-0?
Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week
I had the immense good fortune on a short family trip to California last week to visit Santa Anita Park, about an hour east of Los Angeles and with the San Gabriel Mountains as a gorgeous backdrop. I've been to a few racetracks in my life -- Churchill Downs, River Downs, Monmouth Park, Fairgrounds in New Orleans -- but even the site of the Kentucky Derby can't compare to the combo platter of the scenery and the classy garden-like physical plant of Santa Anita. Moreover, I hit the first exacta of my life (as you can see, I'm a horse novice), Sidepocket Lou and Wicked Mischief in the fourth race, paying a whopping $17.60. I know this: If I had grown up in southern California and visited that place as a kid, I'd be a degenerate gambler right about now.
Tweet of the Week
"Just finished a public signing in San Jose. Probably signed 5 hours straight, about 3000 items, and my hand is killin me!''
NFL Truth & Rumors