"It's different, but I like it.''
-- Albert Haynesworth of the Redskins, after playing a rush position in Washington's new 3-4 scheme Friday night against the Bills.
Now there's a great example of a guy who shot his mouth off before understanding that the Washington defense under Jim Haslett would have him penetrate more than stuff gaps.
"We want Ben! We want Ben!''
-- Chanting fans -- though not a huge number of them -- in the first half of the Steelers-Detroit preseason opener Saturday night at Heinz Field. Coach Mike Tomlin did not play quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who will be suspended for at least the first four weeks of the regular season.
Starbucks, Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, N.Y., Saturday, 6:45 a.m.:
I'm sitting there, drinking a latte and writing my Carolina Panthers preview for the Sports Illustrated football preview (get in line for the Sept. 1 issue now, folks) when an older man, about 60, walks in and gets a tall coffee. He sits in a plush chair angled so he's looking right at me from a distance of about 10 feet. He has nothing to read. He talks to no one. He sits, mostly looking at me but also at the people who walk in and out of the store, for the next two hours and 46 minutes. Then he gets up, deposits his empty cup in the trash, goes to the men's room, comes out and walks out of the store, giving me and the couple next to me long looks.
Who has the kind of time to stare into space and stare holes through someone typing for almost three hours? A contemplative half hour is probably healthy, but the guy sat there doing nothing for a half-hour longer than it takes a Kenyan to run a marathon.
Albany's a good spot. Had a swell time Friday night watching the Tri City Valley Cats walk off with a win over Staten Island in compelling New York-Penn League action in nearby Troy. Date night, obviously. Very Americana place. The stadium was crawling with 15-year-old girls and awkward boys feigning disinterest in them. My partners for the evening -- Willie Cornblatt (intern/very fast driver) and former Star-Ledger baseball writer Dan Graziano (now writing the NFL for AOL Fanhouse) -- did the very mature thing of betting every half-inning whether the ball, when rolled back to the mound after the third out, would land on the dirt of the mound or the surrounding grass.
There might have been more varieties of beer at the ballpark than there were fans, including a fine local microbrew, which led to the quote of the night from young Willie, an Indiana University journalism student. "We live in a Coors Light generation, and it's so sad.'' Words to live by, young man.
Houston GM Rick Smith meditates every morning. He goes into a large closet in his Houston-area home very early, shuts out the world and either mouths a mantra like "Peace'' softly and repeatedly or just sits in silence. Smith is a spiritual man who believes this period of meditation gets him closer to God.
"Meditation helps me,'' he said. "I don't try to do anything but just try to be, and to listen to God. I quiet my mind and listen to the message.''
I'm a big fan of this, though I don't do it, and I'm not a particularly religious man. We're so caught up in Blackberries and iPhones and Twitter and the constant flow of information that we rarely sit back and take stock of who exactly we are and what we're doing here. Good for Smith.
"Just got my press pass for Mon. night. Says I'm sitting in the f---- press box and parking in the f---- media lot. Must be a #NYJ home game.''
--@TheBlueScreen, Giants beat writer Ralph Vacchiano, presumably after watching the first episode of HBO's Hard Knocks show, featuring the colorful language of coach Rex Ryan.
By my count, the show was 52 minutes long and featured 23 off-color words by the Jets coach: 10 f---s, eight s---s, two d---s, two a--es, and one b----.
Now that's the kind of inside football information you just can't get anywhere else.
You have spoken, and we have two winners that -- I hope -- will benefit from the half-marathon I'm running Oct. 2 in Bristol, N.H. The results from your Twitter voting last week:
Wounded Warrior Project 343
Feed the Children 260
Gridiron Greats 175
Habitat for Humanity 143
National Brain Tumor Society 86
So next week I'll have details on how you can donate to Wounded Warrior Project (woundedwarriorproject.org), which helps the most seriously wounded of the American military transition back to society, and Feed the Children (feedthechildren.org), which is Chad Ochocinco's charity of choice and is hoping to reach 200,000 families by the end of 2010. Since I got into this race in the first place by questioning Ocho's word, I'm pleased his preferred cause was one that won your vote. I'm going to suggest a $10 donation to support the two causes, and I'll let you know how you can easily do it in next Monday's column.
A few of you have asked how possibly I'm going to run 13.1 miles in the middle of the football season. Good question. I might be insane. (But you knew that already.) I did run (plod?) 6.5 miles last Thursday through Boston and Cambridge, and I'll have another run this morning before I meet the Steelers in Latrobe. The way I look at it is it's always been easy for me to find excuses to not be active during the football season. This will motivate me to make sure three times a week I do what I should be doing anyway to take care of myself. We'll see how it goes.