1. I think I teased the Steelers up at the top of the column, and I should tell you why. When I re-did my NFL Top 100 current players in June for the paperback version of my MMQB book due out this fall, I put Pittsburgh tackle Willie Colon at number 48. He's now out of the top 100, because he suffered a torn Achilles and will be lost for the year. But I had him rise so far so fast in this list because when I watched the Steelers last season, he was a borderline road-grader, and a very good pass-blocker, and clearly the best offensive lineman for a franchise that values them so highly. I don't care who the Steelers replace Colon with. That's a big loss.
2. I think the Saints should be applauded for being such responsible local citizens. They've raised $500,000 so far raffling off one of the great raffle items I've ever heard of -- a genuine Super Bowl ring, the exact same ring every player and coach will get for winning the Super Bowl. "It allows the individuals, families and small businesses that are dealing with the fallout of the largest environmental catastrophe in the history of the United States to once again have the promise that people care about them and their futures,'' owner Tom Benson said. If you've been in New Orleans recently, you know how valuable the Saints are to the community, and the thing I appreciate is how they don't shirk the responsibility. In many ways, they're more important to greater New Orleans and to the entire Gulf Coast than any team is to its community, because of the battering the region has taken from natural and economic disasters in recent years. To buy raffle tickets ($2 per tickets, minimum purchase of five, deadline 11 a.m. EDT Sept. 9), visit here.
3. I think I'd love to see you at the annual NFL kickoff event Monday, July 19, in Los Angeles, NFL 101, hosted by the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission and by Andrea Kremer, my NBC pal. I've been attending for the past three years, and this year's cast at this great variety show of an event is the best: Pete Carroll autographing his new book and answering all your NFL questions, visiting a real NFL locker room and getting your picture taken in a real locker, hanging with Philip Rivers on the floor of the Coliseum, cocktails with NFL know-it-alls like me, Andrea, Herman Edwards, Brian Billick, Mike Pereira and Amy Trask, and on-field football tutoring by Jerricho Cotchery of the Jets, Shaun Phillips of the Chargers, ESPN's Marcellus Wiley, and past-and-present Raiders Rod Martin and Sam Williams. There's also a Business of the NFL roundtable with Rich Eisen of NFL Network and three prime agents -- Marvin Demoff, David Dunn and Jerome Stanley -- that I will not miss. I'm going to encourage a pre-event Tweetup if we can get it together, so please plan to come and meet me and all of us to get your 2010 NFL season jump-started on the hallowed Coliseum grounds. For ticket info, contact Aubrey Walton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. I think you should Tweet me -- @SI_PeterKing -- and let me know if you can come July 18. I'd love to see you.
5. I think I'd be remiss if I didn't wish a happy birthday to Al Davis. Born one year to the day before George Steinbrenner, Al turned 81 yesterday. I've had my frustrations with Davis' handling of the Raiders over the years (surprise!), but he's an American classic, and one of the reasons the NFL is such a fascinating league to cover and observe.
6. I think I'm sticking with Green Bay and San Diego in the Super Bowl. For now. Maybe I'll get more wisdom while on vacation. I doubt it.
7. I think you've got a future in this business, Eric Winston. The thing I liked most about Winston's MMQB was his suggestion that the NFL play the Super Bowl on Saturday night -- to maximize the event-ness of it all. Totally agree.
8. I think I'm shocked Brazil lost in the World Cup. I like Germany now. Now there's a curse.
9. I think I'll never forget -- ever -- the kindness hundreds of you have shown me in the past two weeks about my brother's death. That's no cliché. That's real gratitude. Thank you.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Joey Votto got robbed. Votto in, Ryan Howard out.
b. The Padres pitching staff got robbed.
c. Let me tell you about my terrific lunch with Paul Zimmerman and Dick Vermeil last week. Dr. Z looks better than he's looked in 20 years. Fit, great cholesterol count, superb blood pressure, eating well, battling his butt off to try to beat the effects of the three strokes he suffered in November 2008. His recovery has plateaued, but he is not deterred. He's still working hard at rehab, and he and Linda still hold out hope that he will have a breakthrough that will get him back to being the one-of-a-kind, premier football mind that we all miss so much. When we got up from the table, Vermeil looked at him and said, "You're an inspiration.'' I agree.
d. Fireworks on the Esplanade in Boston were cool last night ... but when they begin at 10:37 p.m., geezers like me tend to be nodding off during the crescendo.
e. I'm 45 pages from finishing the third in the trilogy of Stieg Larsson crime thrillers. I can't wait for those 45 minutes.
f. If the Red Sox get one more injury, Johnny Pesky's playing.
g. Happy July, everyone. Can't wait to hit the camp trail in three weeks. Well, I can wait, and the next three weeks should be warm and fun. See you later in the month.
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