"I'm very disappointed in Lane Kiffin's approach to this. Typically speaking, when coaches are interested in hiring or discussing potential employment from coaches on respective staffs there is a courtesy call made from the head coach or athletic director indicating there is an interest in talking to the assistant. So I am very disappointed in the lack of professionalism on behalf of Lane.''
--Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher, to the Tennessean's Jim Wyatt. Fisher's running backs coach, Kennedy Pola, was heisted Saturday by USC coach Kiffin (to be the Trojans' offensive coordinator) less than a week before Titans training camp convenes.
Kiffin responded by saying he reached out to Pola on Friday to see if he had any interest in the job. If you believe the first contact between Kiffin and Pola was Friday, well, you're not really in touch with anything on this planet.
What exacerbates the problem of ripping off a coach under contract six days before training camp is that USC product Fisher is a Trojan through and through. Fisher has friends throughout pro and college football and now he's going to be in the position of telling them all: Be leery of Lane Kiffin.
I mean, how many more stupid things does Lane Kiffin have to do before he realizes you don't win by knifing good people in the back?
Pretty soon Kiffin's going to be so unpopular in the NFL that, should he burn his college bridges completely, only Al Davis will hire him in the pros.
Just a guess. But he may have already burned that bridge.
"It's time we all rise up. We've been knocking on the door. Now it's time to blow it up.''
-- Atlanta Falcons fan Samuel L. Jackson, in a video released by the team on Friday.
Cute. Not sure that helps sell a ticket or win a game. But cute.
"The first step on that is to see how the cold-weather Super Bowl goes in an outdoor stadium. If the league has a good experience in New York, then there will undoubtedly be many communities to come back and ask for a cold-weather Super Bowl, and we would certainly be on that list.''
-- Kansas City Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt, to the Kansas City Star, on his desire to get a Super Bowl in Kansas City.
Hunt won't be alone. If it's anything other than a raging blizzard on Super Sunday 2014 -- when the game is played in northern New Jersey -- you'll have five owners knocking on Roger Goodell's luxury box, saying, "We're next!'': Pat Bowlen (Denver), Dan Snyder (Washington), Hunt, Jeff Lurie (Philadelphia), and hmmm, let me think -- well, Paul Allen (Seattle) won't knock on the door, but he will e-mail Goodell.
"Definitely my pillow. I'm funny about that. If I don't have the right kind of pillow, I have a hard time sleeping.''
-- Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, asked by Arizona Republic ace beat man Kent Somers for the personal item he can't do without at training camp. "Maybe,'' Whisenhunt told Somers, "it's from being neurotic.''
One of the most difficult tasks I had in revising my list of the top 100 players in football in the spring (for the paperback version of the MMQB book, out this fall) was figuring where to rank the top quarterbacks in football. A year ago, before the Saints won the Super Bowl, I had five quarterbacks in the top 12:
1. Peyton Manning
2. Tom Brady
3. Ben Roethlisberger
8. Drew Brees
12. Philip Rivers
This year, I had a few dilemmas. How far to drop Roethlisberger because of his off-field problems and what that might portend for his short- and long-term future? How high to rank Brees after his amazing 2009 season? And this: Should I keep the royalty of the last decade -- Manning and Brady at the top, in some order -- intact?
I have to say I thought very long and hard about ranking Brees number one. At 31 years, seven months, he's younger than Manning (34 years, four months) and Brady (32 years, 11 months), and his shoulder problems of 2006 are very far in the rear-view mirror. Brees followed the most accurate regular-season a quarterback ever had with an incredibly accurate postseason (72-, 55- and 82-percent games), with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. At the same time, Brady (disastrous playoff loss to Baltimore) and Manning (outplayed head-to-head by Brees in the Super Bowl) took steps back at the end of 2009.
One of the things I considered was the recent playoff records of Brady and Manning. While Brees is 4-1 in his last five playoff games, the two kings are struggling. Look at the last five playoff outings of Manning and Brady:
Relate those numbers to the career marks of each man:
Manning is 131-61 in wins and losses, Brady 97-30.
Brady's a 63 percent passer, Manning 65.
Brady's TDs and interceptions: 225-99, Manning's 366-181.
Brady's yard per attempt in the regular season, 7.32, is much better than his recent playoff mark. Manning's (7.55) is about the same.
Though the numbers aren't all great, they're not disastrous either. At the end of my deliberation, I put Brees three, behind Manning and Brady, in that order. It has to do some with current production (each could throw for 4,500 yards and 30 touchdowns this year), some with résumé. I decided if I am eventually going to put Brees over the two kings of the position, I need to see one more year where he is clearly better in the regular season and postseason. But if you'd rank Brees over either or both, I'd respect the argument. Put it this way. If you asked me to pick one of the three for the next five years, it'd be a tough choice.
I had six quarterbacks in the top 12 this year:
12. Aaron Rodgers
The Westin Hotel/Michigan Avenue in Chicago has long been a hotel of choice for me, because of its proximity to everything in such a great city. Last week, on my last travel leg of vacation, it was also the scene of something I never could have expected: an argument that, in 10 seconds, almost escalated into a hotel-lobby brawl.
There are three elevators in the lobby of the Westin, and at rush-hour check-in last Tuesday, two were out of service. So when my wife and I got to the bank of elevators around 6 p.m., there were 15 or so people waiting for the one working lift. We waited two, three, four minutes. Now there were 25 or 30 people waiting. And then a 35ish man wedged in to the left of the crowd waiting for the elevator. He looked at the line of people and looked peeved. We all were, of course. Then the door opened and 10 or 12 people came off. And the 35ish man took three quick steps to the elevator.
"Hey, hey, hey,'' I said. "Come on, buddy. That's not right.''
The guy stopped, looked at me angrily and snarled, "Don't tell me what to do. I wasn't going on.''
"Yes you were,'' I said. "I saw what you were doing. That's not right.''
He took a couple of steps toward me and said angrily, "I'm a Starwood Preferred member.''
Like that made cutting the line OK.
"You're also an a------,'' I said.
I obviously shouldn't have said that, but he deserved it. Now Mr. Starwood Preferred walked the final three steps toward me and said. "You wanna step outside?'' He bumped my chest hard. "People who use that word are looking for a fight,'' he said. "People who use that word to me, I go outside with. You wanna go outside?''
Now the elevator was full, and the door closed.
"No, I don't,'' I said.
He was breathing hard on me. "You're a big talker,'' he said, stepping back a step or two.
"And you're still an a------,'' I said. Oh, so clever.
He stepped toward me again. Almost simultaneously, a front-desk gal near the bank of elevators chirped, "I can take a few people up the service elevator!'' So my wife sidestepped the guy. I walked toward the door, me staring at Mr. Starwood Preferred the whole way. "---- you, ------------,'' Mr. Starwood Preferred hissed at me.
"Have a nice day,'' I said, and boarded the service elevator.
I don't know exactly why -- it's not testosterone, I don't think -- but I almost wish Mr. Starwood Preferred had taken a swing at me. Even if he'd pummeled me (and he may well have), he'd have known that at least one person out of 30 sniffed out the real idiot in the crowd. Then again, I like my nose unbroken.
There are three engraved slogans on the inside of the Saints' Super Bowl rings, all significant things the Saints used last year on their championship run:
-- Ronnie Lott, from his preseason appearance in front of the team. During the chat, he said, "I smell greatness in this room!''
-- Jon Gruden, from another team chat, telling them to finish what they start.
-- NBA coach Avery Johnson, telling the players, I guess, to be special.
"We had to bail, pigeons s----ing in jareds mouth. Too unsanitary to continue.''
--@doctorfollowill, Kings of Leon drummer Nathan Followill, announcing Friday night that the band had indeed cancelled its St. Louis show after three songs because a pigeon in the rafters of the Verizon Amphitheater dumped on his brother, bassist Jared Followill.