Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think the thing about a Super Bowl in New Jersey in February 2014 -- which seems more and more likely with the vote due as early as May --is that too few people are thinking about the precedent it sets for future games in outdoor, cold-weather venues.
Dan Snyder has $40 million in debt service every year for FedEx Field before he even opens the doors; why wouldn't he be stomping his feet for a Super Bowl in a venue that's 222 miles south of the Meadowlands? You think good NFL soldier Pat Bowlen in his new Denver palace -- the same place that hosted the Barack Obama coronation -- won't press for a Super Bowl? Or richie rich Paul Allen in state-of-the-art Qwest Field? Dangerous ground for the NFL to travel.
2. I think unless the networks stamp their feet quite a bit, the new overtime reform will pass for the regular season when NFL owners meet in Dallas in May. I'm told by two major players who were in the room for the vote last Tuesday that if Goodell had pressed for the rule to be instituted for the regular season he could have gotten at least 24 votes for it.
"But it wasn't the right thing to do,'' one of my sources said. "You don't push that through without talking to your network partners seriously about it beforehand.'' It's true the games could be a few plays longer, but I doubt FOX and CBS (with early games that could be butting up against late-Sunday-afternoon games) will draw lines in the sand on this issue.
3. I think one thing that amazed me at the NFL meetings last week was the 15 or so league and media people who told me they gave their $5 for our "Five For Fighting'' campaign. Thanks to them, and to everyone who has given.
As many of you know, I'm asking $5 (or a donation of your choice) to help the men and women in our Armed Forces -- particularly those who serve at remote bases with only life's necessities and no creature comforts. The donation will help with recreation equipment for the troops in need in Iraq and Afghanistan, equipment like TVs, video games, sports stuff and weights for the 135-soldier company like Mike McGuire's. He's the longtime MMQB friend and Army First Sergeant (to be deployed to Afghanistan this year).
Please keep it coming for one more week; I'd like to get at least 10 companies or platoons outfitted. If you know someone who would like to keep the donations coming, please pass along the link. As an additional way to support the "Five For Fighting'' campaign, the USO has created a virtual wall which we will share directly with First Sgt. McGuire. If you'd like, please take a moment and offer a few words to let those men know that they're in our thoughts back here. Click here to send your best.
I'll give you the final verdict a week from today on how many lives you have impacted with your generosity to Mike McGuire and his men, and to some other troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. For now, here's one last missive from McGuire for a while. It arrived in my e-mail box Friday morning, and if you ever think your thoughts and donations don't impact our men and women over there, read this:
"Peter: Getting ready to leave today for 5.5 weeks of field training, gunnery, etc. Time to start turning the screw to the right and tighten hard on these new soldiers. I read a lot of the posts that people wrote on the wall that the USO set up. Pretty amazing stuff. We are all very humbled. I have never kept record of anything I did, but you have managed to do that for me from the beginning. Thank you. My children will appreciate it later in life, as I save every one. Every person who wrote on that wall has a place with me now -- with me and my fellas, Thank you. Peter, you have became the spokesman for the Soldier. You rock ... Our first company from the Battalion leaves here REAL soon. Will keep you posted once they are in place down range. Take care. Mike.''
4. I think the more I hear about Ben Roethlisberger and the immense distraction of the sexual-assault allegation (Adam Schefter reports the QB will stay away from the Steeler offseason program, which begins for vets today in Pittsburgh, to avoid the circus it would create), the more I think the Steelers have to plan for life without Roethlisberger this year, just in case. And I don't mean just Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon.
I mean, if they're not truly committed to Dixon in the event he has to play the season, they have to draft a solid insurance policy -- maybe someone like NCAA touchdown record-setter Dan LeFevour -- to get ready just in case. I've been alarmed by some of the hearsay I've heard said about the Roethlisberger case, and the Steelers (and their fans) need to understand the seriousness of the charge and the fact that there's no guarantee about his future if this case goes to trial.
5. I think it was a good idea for Jets owner Woody Johnson to show his human side in a very good profile by Greg Bishop in Sunday's New York Times. Interesting how Johnson rides a little scooter to work in Manhattan many days, and he's interested in making his players more star-like in a starry city. "I'm hoping to let the players come out of the tunnel without their helmets on,'' Johnson told Bishop. "I'd like the fans to get to know the players. It's hard to see a football player. When the fans get to know the players, they'll be very impressed, as I am.''
Johnson said he supports the media getting good inside information about his team, because it makes the fans more intrigued by the team. "We don't want to make this the secret to Coke or whatever.''
Uh, Woody: Can you talk to your fellow owners about that?
6. I think I cannot see Gene Smith, the Jacksonville GM, taking Tim Tebow. First round, second round, any round.
7. I think one of the most influential young coaches in the game is getting to be Kyle Shanahan. The new offensive coordinator of the Redskins is 30, and he's doing quite a bit more than most Washington observers thought he'd be doing under his dad -- like running all of the private Tebow workouts for the Redskins recently.
8. I think Joey Porter and Milton Bradley might have been separated at birth.
9. I think I'd sign Pacman if I were you, Jim Schwartz. You need a cover guy, and if he screws up one time, he's back on the street. It's no big risk as I see it.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Tremendous defense against Cornell, Kentucky.
b. Has there ever been better clutch shooting in the last 12 minutes of a Sweet 16 game as there was in Xavier-Kansas State?
c. Drat. I was really pulling for Northern Iowa.
d. I'm not a college basketball guy (what a shock!), but I'd say people are handing the national title to West Virginia way too soon.
e. One fun thing about driving across central Florida is stopping at an orange grove, getting out of the car, and just smelling the air. Citrusy. Outstanding.
f. Coffeenerdness: Had a pleasant evening writing in the Starbucks in Port St. Lucie Sunday night. That is, until I saw the dead rat in the parking lot.
g. Say hi to me in Viera today -- if there's a game.
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