1. I think it's not surprising to hear the Patriots and Tom Brady are taking longer than expected to get to the altar on a new deal, and as Yahoo's Mike Silver wrote the other day, there may be a cooling of the historically very warm relationship between Brady and the team.
Let me give you a little history lesson here. Bill Belichick was on the Giants' coaching staff in the mid-'80s when Bill Parcells started making the off-season program sort of a voluntary, mandatory thing. Parcells would tell the players, You don't have to come to the program. But this is where the job is, and if other guys come to the program and outwork you in the offseason, the job might not be there for you when you get to training camp.
Belichick established the same sort of offseason regimen on his coaching stops, including in New England a few years, Brady took pride in being the attendance king his first few years in the league, earning a preferred parking spot and the respect of everyone in the New England locker room. Now Brady's living a bi-coastal life, spending more time than ever in Los Angeles with his wife and two sons -- one of which he shares custody. No matter what he says publicly, Belichick isn't going to like his most important player missing half the offseason program or more. So I wouldn't be surprised if the reality of a family situation impinging on Brady's professional life could end up being a bit of a wedge between player and team.
2. I think, and I'm not the only one who does, that the Patriots wanted to draft Tim Tebow late in the first round or early in the second. I'll always wonder what that would have done to Brady's long-term future in New England. Let me be clear about this -- as long as Brady performs at the highest level, the Patriots will stay with him. As long as he produces, the Patriots are not going to get rid of him. Even if they had picked Tebow, the Patriots wouldn't have -- in my opinion -- pulled a George Seifert and switched from Joe Montana to Steve Young (not saying Tebow will reach that level) when Montana still had some football left in him. But nothing in sports is forever.
3. I think three years ago the Colts might have made long-term plans to keep Marlin Jackson, a smart and tenacious corner from Michigan. Corners have been interchangeable pieces for Indianapolis over the years, but Jackson was the kind of athlete, player and leader the Colts loved. Then he tore his left ACL in 2008. He tore his right ACL in 2009, and the Colts let him go. He signed to play free safety with the Eagles. And last week, in a coverage drill with his new team, Jackson tore his right Achilles. He's out for the year, again.
4. I think Alan Faneca, installed as the starting left guard in Arizona, will be determined to prove the Jets made a mistake in dumping him. Ken Whisenhunt's thrilled with Faneca in early work and thinks he'll be the calming influence a young line needs -- as well as the voice of experience Matt Leinart can use.
5. I think Marion Barber is taking all this talk about Felix Jones being the Cowboys' top running back pretty seriously. Barber's 10 pounds lighter than he was last fall, looks quicker in offseason work and knows he's not on scholarship anymore. The best back will play the most, and Barber knows for it to be him, he has to be quicker and make some of the runs that Jones makes fluidly now.
6. I think, judging by what we've read out of Green Bay on the Johnny Jolly drug trial in Houston, the Packers had better prepare for life without the penetrating defensive tackle in 2010.
7. I think the reason the Rams haven't jumped to sign safety O.J. Atogwe is pretty simple -- a disagreement on how much he's worth. Atogwe wants a contract averaging at least $7 million a year. But the Rams are wary of the big-money deals awarded to safeties who, for multiple reasons, haven't been worth the money (Bob Sanders, Gibril Wilson). Atogwe's a good player, and the Rams need building blocks like him to get better, for sure, but not for $7 million a year.
8. I think if you believe this hasn't been a turnover-filled offseason, you're right. Only 95 starters have left their teams through retirement, free-agency, trades or waivers, according to Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News. Arizona is the biggest loser (seven), Atlanta the least active (zero).
9. I think baseball would be smart to do what football does in instant replay, with a twist: give each team one challenge per game -- on out/safe calls on the bases, on fair/foul calls, and homers/non-homers. That wouldn't slow a game down too much, and it would give each manager the chance to potentially change one huge call from time to time -- and it would have given Jim Leyland the chance to make Armando Galarraga's perfect game a perfect game.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Army First Sgt. Mike McGuire, on the verge of his third deployment to the war zone, checked in the other day after I wrote to tell him about the trip to South Africa, the Pat Tillman/Hall of Fame debate and the success of Five for Fighting in raising money for the recreation equipment for troops.
McGuire writes: "Wow! The World Cup for three weeks. South Africa! What a gig. Preparing for another five weeks in the field, final training for our deployment. We are training our tails off now. Afghanistan is a tougher place altogether than Iraq. I must admit, I am nervous again. That is good though. Keeps me vigilant. I like the recent story about athletes who serve the country and die in combat. I agree with you. [I'd written I didn't think athletes who interrupted their careers should be elected to the Hall of Fame in their sport for military reasons and reasons of great sacrifice, and that Halls of Fame should be for what players did on the field solely.]
"That number, $204,000, doesn't even sound correct as far as the money raised for the troops," he added. "That is massive. Thank you, and thank everyone who contributed. Unbelievable. B Company leaves most quickly. I have already said my goodbyes to buddies in that company. We are right behind them. Glad you and [wife] Ann got to see Walter Reed. Those soldiers are amazing. They only want to be with their unit. Kind of cool, huh? Take care. Talk to you later, Mike.''
b. Tremendously sad story out of Dallas. I'm good friends with ESPN's Ed Werder, and I got to know his road producer, Leah Siegel, a little bit over the years. In TV, the producers make everything happen, and Werder raved about how grateful he was for Leah's competence and relentlessness -- as well as what a good and considerate person she is. Leah and her husband recently had their third child, and while doing so discovered she has an incurable form of breast cancer. Chemotherapy is knocking her for a loop these days. She has a Caring Bridge page with her story, and Werder is spearheading a fund drive for the family (Leah Fund, c/o Barbara Hoffman, American National Bank, 1201 Cross Timbers, Flower Mound, TX 75028). Our best to Leah and her family.
c. What did we ever do without recycling? Found myself thinking that the other day when I brought three things to the curb: a white kitchen garbage bag with four days of house trash, a much larger clear plastic bag with a weekend of paper goods recycling and newspapers, and a bin of commingled plastic, glass and aluminum cans. Our trash was one part garbage, three parts recycling, I'd estimate. Twenty years ago, it was four bags of trash.
d. I was fortunate enough the other day to have lunch with Red Sox outfielder Darnell McDonald, who's so happy and so appreciative to finally have a spot in the majors after a decade of beating the minor-league bushes. It's a tenuous hold on a roster spot, obviously, because of the injuries to Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury, but he's played well in relief. We spoke about football mostly (he was hungry for Bronco nuggets after formative years as a big-time high school running back there) but some about baseball.
e. Frank Herrmann, welcome to the bigs. Great to see a hard-working righty reliever (he prepped at Montclair Kimberly Academy in New Jersey under Ralph Pacifico, a good friend of mine) finally make the majors. He came up in Chicago the other night and retired his first four big-league hitters, helping Justin Masterson end that long losing streak. Great kid too.
f. MMQB schedule reminder, for those who may have missed it last week:
June 14: Guest columnist
June 21: Guest columnist
June 28: I'll be back, catching up on everything that went down in the NFL while I was in South Africa
July 5: Guest columnist
July 12: Guest columnist
July 19: Guest columnist
July 26: I'll be back for good
I don't want to give too much away regarding the guest columnists, but I think you'll enjoy all of them. One of my editors, Dom Bonvissuto, will be tweeting out clues to the identities of the guest columnists in the days leading up to their columns. Follow him @dombonvissuto.
g. And by the way, for those who sent e-mail and Tweets condemning me for condemning BP and saying I won't be buying their gas again -- many of you think the mega-spill is not the fault of the guy who pumps the gas or the local manager who runs the BP gas station, and of course it isn't. But you have to protest in some way when you see horrible injustice, and this will be my little way.
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