Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think you should take a moment and read the Denver Post story, by Mike Klis, on Brandon Marshall and the real reason he might want out of Denver (link below). It has to do with the murder of Darrent Williams just over three years ago, and a pretty well-kept secret over the past couple of years -- that Marshall was in the vortex of a disagreement with some gang members that night.
According to Klis: "Marshall has been left emotionally scarred by Williams' murder in the wee hours of Jan. 1, 2007. Marshall was with Williams minutes before his Broncos teammate and good friend died almost instantly from a bullet wound to the neck. Preceding the shooting, police say there was an altercation outside The Shelter, a Broadway nightclub that was hosting a Kenyon Martin birthday-New Year's celebration that was attended by Williams and Marshall, among other former and current Broncos. Marshall allegedly was involved in the fracas, which is why he is expected to testify during the next two weeks at the trial of gang member Willie Clark, who is charged with premeditated murder, among many other alleged crimes, in Williams' death.'' You can read the full story here.
2. I think I would be shocked -- as would the St. Louis Rams, quite frankly -- if the Bucs were remotely serious about trading up to number one in the draft from their spot at three. If you haven't noticed in the last 15 months, the Bucs are shedding salary the way I wish I could shed pounds, which is to say, with consistent regularity. Paying JaMarcus Russell money ($39 million in the first three years of his Oakland deal) to a defensive tackle would blow everyone in the league away. As one source with knowledge of the inner workings of each team said to me in a text the other night when I asked about the chances of the Bucs and Rams dealing: "About the same as Colgate joining the Big East.''
3. I think the Donte Stallworth deal -- totally non-guaranteed, for $900,000 in salary and $300,000 in incentives, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN -- is good for both parties. As you read earlier in the column, he's as fast as he was earlier in his career, and he's supremely motivated to be a upstanding and productive player after the accident in which he took a life while driving under the influence in Miami last year.
Look at it this way: The Ravens will get to training camp sometime near the end of July, and they'll have 45 days to figure out if he can play. For free. Or actually, simply for the training camp pay plus per diem that every player makes. If he is on the Week 1 roster, that's when his $900,000 salary becomes guaranteed for the year. If a veteran receiver, healthy, runs the fastest time of anyone on your team, what's the drawback (other than publicity and/or moral outrage) of signing him?
4. I think we can argue all day about the sentence given to Stallworth -- and the Twitter universe was about 80-20 against Stallworth being allowed back into football after such a light sentence (he served 24 days and has eight years of probation, as well as paying a settlement of at least $3 million to dead man's family). But at the end of the day, there were mitigating circumstances.
The man who was hit, Mario Reyes, was crossing a multi-lane causeway with a speed limit of 40 mph, and he was doing so in the middle of the road, not at the crosswalk, and the jury could have had to determine whether a man who flashed his lights at Reyes was impaired to the point that he couldn't have operated a motor vehicle.
While I think the incarceration portion or the sentence was light, I don't think there's much more the league could have done once Stallworth was released from jail, other than suspend him for a year. And if he's sufficiently repentant in the eyes of the commissioner, he deserves to be reinstated. Whether he gets signed by someone after that is up to whether a team wants to deal with the distraction and the moral outrage of at least part of its fan base. If a man has done his time and been banned from his livelihood for a year, how much longer would the ban have to be before you'd think he deserves to play for his living again? Two years? Five? Fifty?
5. I think, just for the record, here's the way this week will work in free agency: Teams have until Thursday by which to place a franchise or transition tag on a player, thereby restricting him in free agency. It's unlikely the Panthers will place a tag on Julius Peppers because they'd have to guarantee him at least $21.3 million on a one-year contract if he chose to sign it and play for the one-year deal this year (and I certainly would if I were him).
But other teams will have interesting decisions with free agents -- New England with nose tackle Vince Wilfork, for instance. He hates the thought of being tagged, and the Patriots drafted two defensive tackles last year (Ron Brace and Myron Pryor) who they may feel give them adequate depth inside. Should be an interesting week.
6. I think I'd be surprised if Kyle Vanden Bosch weren't a Lion a month from now.
7. I think these were the two interesting nuggets from my chat with Browns president Mike Holmgren on Sirius Radio Friday: He said his longtime aide, Gil Haskell, who came with him from Seattle, is meeting almost daily with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, and it sounds as if the Browns will morph into some form of Holmgren's beloved West Coast Offense. "He [Daboll] is not running my offense ... yet,'' Holmgren said. And he said a decision hasn't been made yet on whether Brady Quinn will be the team's starting quarterback. In fact, no quarterback decision has been made, including anything involving backup Derek Anderson.
8. I think the toughest thing for Holmgren is to mesh three key people to the long-term success of the Browns who have not worked together before -- Holmgren, GM Tom Heckert (hired from the Eagles) and coach Eric Mangini -- and get their various core beliefs to mesh in such a short time. I don't remember three strangers being thrown together before like that to run a team.
9. I think this is my Mike McGuire alert, for those of you who have asked what I'm going to be doing to help the Army First Sergeant's company, which is headed to Afghanistan later this year. I'm going to be working with the USO on a plan we'll announce in this column next week, a plan to help not only McGuire and his men, but other troops serving on the other side of the world, and what I'm going to ask you for is $5. For the price of a Subway sandwich (or very close to the cost of my latte with an extra shot from Starbucks), you'll be able to impact the lives of our men and women and make their lives a little better. Be sure to read the column next week, and I'll give you all the details on how you can help.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Ever wonder how you're going to be remembered when you're dead? Two reminders of the famous, and semi-famous, in the last few days. Alexander Haig died Saturday. Strong-willed, big-presence Chief of Staff and Secretary of State in two Republican administrations. A very full and accomplished life. But what do we remember (at least those of us 40 or older, I guess) when we think of Haig? "I am in control.''
That's what the former Secretary of State said the day President Reagan was shot. He walked into the White House press room and proclaimed himself the acting president. Wrongly. There were actually three men, constitutionally, who had dibs on the presidency before Haig. So even though Haig, by widespread acclamation, was the pol who held the Nixon Administration together in the Watergate-ravaged last year of Nixon's term, he's remembered foremost by "I am in control.''
b. John Kibler died Thursday. He earned a five-sentence obit in the New York Times. Kibler umped in the National League for 25 years, including as the first-base ump in 1986 when the ball rolled past Bill Buckner in Game 6 of Red Sox-Mets, giving the comeback win to the Mets. Headline in the Times: "John Kibler, 81, Umpire for Bill Buckner's Error.''
c. I don't blame the Times, but how about being remembered on the day of your death for signaling a ball that was obviously fair, fair?
d. I can see it now (or, rather, I can't see it, because I'll be dead): In my obit, the second paragraph will read, "King, who worked for Sports Illustrated for more than two decades, goes to his grave widely known for writing about bad lattes, field hockey and poor hotel fitness centers.'' Uh-oh. I'm in trouble.
e. Coffeenerdness: Peet's Italian Roast. One of the finer things in life.
f. Dr. Z Update: So many of you have asked for an update on Paul Zimmerman, my esteemed colleague at SI. It's been 15 months since Zim suffered a series of three strokes in New Jersey, and he continues to rehab three long days every week at home, with some great therapists and his wife, Linda, helping mightily. He's progressing, but there's a long way to go. Daily he continues to work as hard as any man could, and if anyone can recover and get back to what he loves doing -- writing -- it's Paul. Continue to send your good wishes my way, and I'll forward them to Linda and Paul.
g. Tremendous fun the other night over at Harvard, watching the Crimson host Cornell at Lavietes Pavilion. Cornell's the Ivy team that lost at top-rated Kansas by five last month, with a mobile 7-foot center, Jeff Foote, and a swingman who can shoot the lights out, Ryan Wittman, son of former NBAer Randy Wittman. Great atmosphere; packed house of 2,100, with Danny Ainge on hand to scout for the Celtics.
Wittman and Jeremy Lin of Harvard dueled for much of the night, but Cornell won, and Wittman was better on offense and defense, making six threes and two significant blocks -- one on the first Harvard possession of the game, and the other in the second half on a two-on-one breakaway. The kid's really good.
What was cute afterward: The fans just standing around, moms and dads and roommates, mingling with the Cornell players and giving them food for the trip to Dartmouth after the game. Reminded me of a big high school game, with fans on top of the floor and players who are not headed for the next level playing like it was the biggest game of their lives. Very fun night.
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