"All these reports about older players with dementia and Alzheimer's came out. The concussions affect your thinking, your energy, everything. It's not like a knee and limping. It controls my whole body. I didn't want to know that stuff about dementia, especially not when I was playing. You can't play with that kind of fear. You can't be timid. Timid runs you out of the league. `No fear' lets you throw your head in there. I had to get those big guys off of me. I had to lead with my head and head butt them. I didn't want to play any other way.''
-- Linebacker Zach Thomas, who retired as a Dolphin on Friday, on the toll concussions took on him, in an interview with Dan LeBatard of the Miami Herald.
"Actually, I need just two words. Subject-verb. Jets suck.''
-- Thomas, to LeBatard, asked his feelings about the Dolphins' rival in the AFC East.
"Night and day. Everything here is a little more relaxed, I guess you can say. There is a whole different vibe in the building. The practices, walkthroughs and meetings are a little more positive and calm.''
-- Thomas' brother-in-law, Jason Taylor, who -- I'm sure in Thomas' eyes -- has crossed over to the Dark Side. Taylor spoke at Jets' camp the other day about the differences between the Dolphins under Tony Sparano and the Jets under Rex Ryan.
Three numerical points regarding the overtime debate:
1. The league averages 13 overtime games a year. That's 5.1 percent of the games in a season. That's three overtime games a month. To me, it's not revolutionizing the game, or adding much to the time of a game, or to the burden on the networks, to make overtime reform part of the regular season.
2. Eleven teams did not play an overtime game in 2009. Only four teams played more than one.
3. Detroit has not played an overtime game in its last 46 games. Seattle (30), San Francisco (30) and Houston (29) have gone nearly two years without playing extra time.
On a visit to Washington to tend to some USO matters last Wednesday, my wife and I visited Arlington National Cemetery for the first time. In the midst of watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we heard distant rumbles, like thunderclaps. Those were no thunderclaps. They were rifle volleys, fired at the interment of a former service member. I didn't realize how active a cemetery Arlington still is. There are 318,000 people buried there, and an average of 28 burials per weekday -- some recent servicemen and some from past wars.
Four Washington-related travel notes:
1. I left my Blackberry in a taxi after being dropped at Walter Reed Army Medical Center early Wednesday afternoon. If the cabbie (a nice Ethiopian fellow who coaches youth soccer in Takoma Park, Md.) who finds my phone would be so kind as to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, there'll be a reward in it for him. By the way, I stupidly never downloaded the contact list from the phone onto my computer, so I've got to regenerate my phone list. So those of you who have given me your cell and home and office numbers over the years would be so kind as to e-mail them to me at that address, I'll be indebted. Thanks. And don't worry, I have the phone password-protected. There are some pretty good numbers there, but they won't be falling into the wrong hands.
2. Washington has to be the best walking city in America.
3. Nationals Park is a pleasant venue, with lots of creature comforts. The best: Peroni on tap, all over the ballpark.
4. If you have three hours in D.C. and you want to do something peaceful and memorable, just walk through our National Cemetery. Verdant hillsides with row after row of distinguished simple headstones, pristinely kept. A superb place to honor those who gave their lives for the country.
"@SI_PeterKing you should have run with us pal! Dolphins will win the division!''
-- @JozyAltidore17, U.S. Men's National Team striker Jozy Altidore, two hours after Saturday's training at Princeton University ended.
Back story: I am covering the World Cup Group Stage in South Africa for Sports Illustrated and SI.com, and I drove down to Princeton University on Saturday to meet a few players and coach Bob Bradley after their training session there. Altidore was one of the players SI soccer maven Grant Wahl told me I should meet (when Grant speaks, I listen). First words out of Altidore's mouth: "Hey, you're on Twitter! You got that dog for an avatar.'' And then we talked for a bit.
Altidore's wider than the soccer player I envisioned. Turns out he played defensive back as a middle-schooler, broke his arm, and his mom didn't want him to play football anymore. So he continued his soccer career, and here he is, preparing to try to get America an upset win over England in the June 12 World Cup opener. The running part of his Tweet concerns my comment about how much the 30 candidates for the Cup team ran after practice -- about 45 minutes, all with heart monitors on, with trainers monitoring every players' heart rates at midfield on a laptop.
Interesting NFL thing about Altidore. He wants to buy season tickets -- a box, really -- to the Dolphins games. Big Miami fan. But he says he's not there enough to make it worthwhile.
By the way, I've asked my Twitter followers to vote by noon today whether they want me to Tweet on soccer from South Africa between June 10-26 (I'm back home after the Group Stage), or stay idle. I've been overwhelmed with responses since last night, and I'd love to hear from you about whether you want to hear from me on life, coffee and futbol from South Africa, or whether you want me to shut up. Your call. Majority will rule.
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