Quote of the Week I
"I'm highly concerned for our franchise and for Ben personally.''
-- Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin, to NFL Network Saturday, regarding the Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is under investigation in Georgia for sexual assault on a 20-year-old college student.
Quote of the Week II
"When has the person working in the auto plant put money in the box to help Ford or Chrysler pay for the building where the cars are built? There's no other way to look at this. The owners are asking the players to help them build the stadiums they play in, and there is no historical precedent for that.''
Recommended reading: SI's Jim Trotter traveled to the NFLPA annual meetings in Hawaii last week to profile Smith and the problems he faces in getting a deal with the league, and Trotter's story will be featured on SI.com Tuesday.
Quote of the Week III
"Yet another example of how Tiger has viewed Orlando since he moved here in 1996. We are merely his tax shelter, not his hometown.''
-- Orlando Sentinel sports columnist Mike Bianchi, on Tiger Woods forsaking the Arnold Palmer Invitational tournament in Orlando next week in favor of making his return to golf at the Masters. Florida doesn't have a state income tax.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
You want to know how the market was made in the Charlie Whitehurst trade from San Diego to Seattle last week? Look no further than the Green Bay Packers' history of quarterback trades. Green Bay has been involved in three similar deals in recent years and it's no coincidence John Schneider, the new Seattle GM, arrived from a front-office job under Ted Thompson with the Packers. Analyzing the recent comparable deals:
The closest men to Whitehurst have Green Bay ties -- and one, ironically, is his main competition for the job in Seattle. Matt Hasselbeck, the 187th pick in the 1998 draft, went to Seattle for a third-rounder and a swap of firsts. Aaron Brooks, the 131st pick in 1999, went to New Orleans for a third. And Mark Brunell brought third- and fifth-round compensation in return from Jacksonville when the Pack dealt him south in 1995.
Brunell and Brooks were one year removed from college quarterbacking when they were traded by the Packers. Hasselbeck spent three years in Green Bay backing up Brett Favre. Brooks and Brunell were going to unfamiliar places and coaches, but both weren't far from time on the field. Hasselbeck hadn't played much in three years, but he was going to be reunited with his mentor, Mike Holmgren. That's what's odd about this: Whitehurst has no roots with his quarterback coach (Jedd Fisch), offensive coordinator (Jeremy Bates) or coach (Carroll). He hasn't played a snap of real football in nearly five years. The team paid him $8 million over two years. Without much tape to go by, this is a tremendous leap of faith by the Seahawks.
Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week
This is how you resolve a travel dispute that could have been one of the real ugly ones:
Late Thursday afternoon, my wife and I got on the train in Boston headed for Providence, had dinner and went to watch the NCAA basketball game between our alma mater, Ohio University, and Georgetown. We had bought tickets to return on the 10 p.m. Acela, which gave us time enough to watch the mighty Bobcats but not the second game of the doubleheader.
At 9:45, we got to the Providence train station to wait for our train. About 15 or 20 travelers were in the lobby of the station waiting for the 10 o'clock train to Boston to be called. At 9:53, I noticed 15 or so well-dressed travelers come up the stairs from the platform, and thought, uh-oh, those are Acela-dressed people. Still no announcement, and none of the others in the waiting room seemed to notice, but I told my wife to hustle up, let's get downstairs. When we got to the bottom of the stairs, the Acela was already moving down the tracks. Gone.
By that time, a few other travelers were coming down the stairs, I guess after seeing us hotfoot it to the platform. "Train's gone,'' I said. "That was it.''
We had to get back to Boston; our dog Bailey hadn't been out since a 7:30 p.m. walk, and we were sure she was just about sitting with her legs crossed by the front door waiting to be let out. The next train wasn't leaving until 11:27. Not good. So we went upstairs to the apologetic Amtrak agent at the counter. He was befuddled by the leadfooted and impatient conductor of the train -- though he did say the fine print of our tickets allowed that northbound Acelas were allowed to leave stations early. (Idiocy, if true, and double-idiocy if not announced in the station that the train was arriving early and would be leaving early.)
He refunded our tickets, and we got into a cab for what turned out to be a $127 ride home, figuring we'd try to get it back from Amtrak the next day. Fat chance, I thought. Maybe it was the euphoria of the stunning OU upset, but we weren't in the stack-blowing frame of mind some of the other travelers were.
Next day, a female Amtrak agent (forgot her name) listened to my story, apologized four times, said she knew nothing of the rule the Providence agent spoke of, and said she could do one of two things: forward us to someone else who would take our application for payment of the cab fare, and maybe we'd get our money and maybe we wouldn't, or give us a $100 Amtrak travel voucher on the spot.
Lord, please don't sentence me to more time on the phone telling this story again. I took the voucher, which wasn't totally justice, considering we still got home a half-hour later than we would have, but under the circumstances a splendid way to short-circuit a dispute with a regular Amtrak rider (which she didn't know I was.) Point is, she could have said she wasn't authorized to do anything but take a complaint, and if I wanted to protest any more, she'd send me further up the Amtrak food chain for someone else who'd give me no satisfaction.
"Very fair,'' I told her.
"You have a nice day, sir,'' she said.
I don't remember the last time I actually had a nice day when I got off the phone after complaining to some customer service person or other. But on Friday I did.
Tweets of the Week
"Bye, Bye Birds.''
"ANDY REID!!! Respekt!!!!''
NFL Truth & Rumors