1. I think this is what I liked about Week 6:
a. Good for you, Houston Texans, having a week of activities celebrating your local veterans and the USO at practice and then at your game with the Chiefs Sunday. Can't do enough for them.
b. Thank you, Josh Cribbs, for agreeing to help distribute a semi full of food and household supplies in inner-city Cleveland for Feed the Children in the next month or so. We've got the Bills cooperating, too, and hope to have a player doing the same when another Feed the Children truck unloads in needy Buffalo soon.
c. Aaron Rodgers! You found Greg Jennings again!
d. Zoltan Mesko's 65-yard punt in overtime got the Patriots out of a huge hole. Punt of the day.
e. Mike Singletary sticking with Alex Smith. It wasn't a Rembrandt, there in the rain at Candlestick. But it was a two-touchdown, no-interception, passable performance in the first 49er win of the year.
f. Frank Gore finally busting one. His 64-yard run loosened up the Raiders when the Niners really needed a play.
g. Denver did enough to win. More than enough. Losing that game is going to hurt for more than a few days.
h. Antonio Cromartie. He played a terrific game covering and tackling in Denver, and he's been invaluable with Darrelle Revis' hamstring an ongoing problem.
i. The combination of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, 28 carries for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Don't worry about how often you get it. Just dominate when you do.
j. Drew Stanton. A Matt Millen pick, folks. Not that you needed to be reminded of that.
k. Seattle taking the fight to the Bears, sacking Jay Cutler six times and coming away with a 23-20 road win.
l. Brad Childress' honesty. I like how he's had enough of Brett Favre as John Wayne. Asked about Favre's toughness after the Vikings win, Childress said: "We're paying him enough every game. He's going to get hit."
m. Osi Umenyiora. In his rebound year, he had two more sacks and showed why the Giants were smart to not entertain offers for him.
n. Ndamukong Suh. I like the defensive rookie of the year crop, but he's my man right now. He had 1.5 more sacks Sunday in the Meadowlands.
2. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 6:
a. The wholesale jumping to conclusions when Mike Vick didn't show up with the rest of the team Sunday morning in Philadelphia. Andy Reid knew Vick was going to be the third quarterback against Atlanta. He knew Vick, in fact, was only going to play in the event of injuries knocking out Kolb and backup-for-the-day Mike Kafka, and he was inclined to have Vick spend the day in the locker room anyway, so as to avoid any physical contact on the sidelines during the game. It was a large non-story.
b. California football. Yay! Niners win! Niners win! That lifts the state to 5-13 ... and 0-10 on the road.
c. The NFC North. The fact that the Vikings can be 1.5 games out of first after how shaky they've been is ... well, a tribute to Chicago losing two out of three and Green Bay dropping three out of four.
d. The interference call on Brandon Flowers to help seal Kansas City's defeat. Should have been offensive pass interference on Andre Johnson, obviously, but went against the Chiefs and capped their 21-point fourth-quarter meltdown. Worst interference call of the year.
e. Antonio Gates' left ankle. Things aren't bad enough for the Chargers, and now they may have to play New England Sunday without the best tight end in football. He left St. Louis in a walking boot late Sunday afternoon.
f. I like Charley Casserly -- a lot -- and have great respect for his football knowledge. And I think he's doing a fine job at his new job with CBS as the info guy. But just after 4 p.m. Saturday, I reported on NBC that NFL VP of Security Milt Ahlerich would meet on Tuesday with Favre to discuss the Favre-Jenn Sterger controversy. I put the info out on Twitter immediately, and profootballtalk.com posted it within an hour. It was on several other blogs. Twenty hours after it was made public, Casserly said, "we have learned'' Ahlerich would debrief Favre on Tuesday.
g. I mean, just saying.
h. A lot of good seats empty in Tampa. Looked like entire rows in the upper deck at about the 10-yard line ... against the Super Bowl champs, by the way.
i. Late getting over on that second-quarterback Brees touchdown pass, Cody Grimm.
j. How does Dallas hold Minnesota to 188 yards, corral Adrian Peterson (25 touches, 71 yards) and not do enough to win?
k. Well, start with 11 more penalties, I guess. How in the world does Wade Phillips survive? I mean, how does he survive October, never mind the season.
l. HOW DO YOU NOT CALL A HIT ON THE DEFENSELESS RECEIVER, WALT ANDERSON AND CREW, IN THE CLEVELAND-PITTSBURGH GAME, WHEN JAMES HARRISON NEARLY BEHEADS MOHAMED MASSAQUOI? I mean, come on. That's a textbook hit where the receiver had no chance to protect himself coming across the middle, and Harrison went right to Massaquoi's head. For a league that talks about protecting exposed players from kill shots, this was an inexcusable non-call. Have I hit that note enough now?
m. I can't think of a coach under more pressure than Houston defensive coordinator Frank Bush, even after Sunday's Houdini of a Texan win in Houston.
n. Unless you start talking Wade Phillips.
o. Pittsburgh/New Orleans 69, Tampa Bay 19.
p. Cheap shot on Josh Freeman out of bounds, Malcolm Jenkins.
q. Hands, Ray Rice. Hands.
3. I think you can close up shop on the Comeback Player of the Year voting, because E.J. Henderson, the Minnesota middle linebacker, still just 10 months clear of one of the worst broken legs since Joe Theismann, continues to play at a Pro Bowl level. He had nine tackles and two interceptions in Minnesota's win over Dallas.
4. I think kudos are in order for Amani Toomer. He'll be running in the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 7 to raise money for New York Road Runners Youth and Community Services, to promote fitness and running among kids, and he'll be doing it in an odd way: He's going to start the race last and see how many runners he can pass by the finish line. For every runner he passes, Timex will give $1 to the youth cause.
The 36-year-old, alltime leading receiver in Giants' history has never run a marathon. "I think I might be able to raise $20,000 if I can run the race in under four hours,'' Toomer said the other day. "I've already run 20 miles -- in about 2 hours and 40 minutes -- and I really hope I can break four hours.''
He said running a marathon is something he's always wanted to do, for many reasons. The challenge, for one, and to bust a few myths about football players. "People think football players don't translate to other sports,'' he said. "But football players can run. We can get in shape to run long distances.''
And, apparently, to run pretty fast. Running a sub-four-hour race would put Toomer on a pace of about 9:15 per mile. He's a (much) better man than I.
5. I think the word on the street is the two masseuses in the Favre case are getting lawyered up and may emerge to make some charges in the case this week.
6. I think the one thing I find odd about the NFL's investigation into the alleged text and phone messages sent by Favre to Sterger is that we're in Day 10 of this probe, and as of Sunday, no one from the league had contacted A.J. Daulerio of Deadspin.com, the site that bought the incriminating evidence and put it on display for all to see. I understand Daulerio might well not cooperate in any league investigation, but to not try to fact-find with him? Odd.
7. I think -- and this is nothing I know, just something I think -- that when the ESPN crew goes into Indianapolis on Halloween weekend to do its prep work for Texans-Colts on Nov. 1, they might not get much out of Peyton Manning. Ron Jaworski said Friday on ESPN Radio that in his video study of Manning this year, he's noticed "little signs now that the deep sideline throws are not as accurate as they used to be, there's not the zip on the ball that there used to be. Maybe Father Time might be catching up with Peyton Manning a little bit ... Maybe there does come a time when the skills start to diminish a little bit.'' I trust Jaworski implicitly on this stuff, because I've sat in the room at NFL Films with him and watched him with Greg Cosell and Merril Hoge and their staffers. But questioning whether Manning's slipping is going to drive Manning nuts.
8. I think the NFL Players Association is cooking up something. I bet you'll see them present a comprehensive proposal to the owners some time in the next two weeks to counter the league's proposal -- including the 18-game schedule -- the union didn't like a couple of weeks ago.
9. I think Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News touched the right nerve with me the other day when he wrote about the most maddening rule NOT in place in the NFL. Coaches shouldn't be able to call those ridiculous last-millisecond timeouts before kickers kick important field goals. Gosselin writes:
"I hate the timeouts designed to ice kickers. The idea is to call them at the last possible second -- late enough, in fact, that the kicker must kick the ball twice for one field goal. His first kick won't count because of the timeout but the second one will. The opposition is hoping that if a kicker has to kick the ball twice, his leg will be a tad less powerful the second time he has to swing it. If I were the commissioner, I'd incorporate a rule that the opposition cannot call a timeout on field goal attempts once the play clock winds down to five seconds.''
The players association should get in on this one. Aren't the players always saying they don't like an expansion of overtime because they don't want more plays added to the game -- plays that could result in more injuries? The field-goal block has all sorts of injury risks, with edge rushers flying around. Why just let an extra field-goal try stand? Plus, the whole concept is annoying as heck.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. I don't know if the Yankees will win that series, because Cliff Lee pitches tonight trying to give Texas a 2-1 lead, but no everyday baseball player is hotter right now than Robinson Cano.
b. Run, do not walk, to see Waiting for Superman, the movie about the crisis in education, and teaching standards, in this country. Forget what side of the fence you are on regarding unions, even though this movie indicts the system that makes it virtually impossible to fire bad unionized teachers and to reward great unionized ones. As in any walk of life, there are good teachers and bad ones. Just watch the movie to discover how sick our public education system is, and how the lack of standards is setting back kids nationwide every year.
Watching kids fail to get one of the very few spots in proven charter schools, then having to trudge back to underperforming neighborhood public schools, is heartbreaking. The saddest part, to me, was seeing a school administrator with a solid plan to fix the Washington, D.C., academic standards, Michelle Rhee, get shouted down at every turn (she ended up resigning last week) and reach the unavoidable conclusion that in too many city school systems, it's more about adults keeping their jobs than it is about kids learning from them.
c. Oh, and don't make this a King-hates-unions or --teachers-unions issue. It's not. It's about doing right by the children we're supposed to be training to take our jobs, and about us needing to do a much better job.
d. Rest in peace, Barbara Billingsley. The best sitcom actress of my youth died Saturday at 94. She was June Cleaver on Leave It To Beaver, the show I cannot turn away from to this day. I see a Beaver rerun on TV, and I stop in my tracks like it's Animal House or North By Northwest. I took this from the eloquent New York Times obit on Saturday night:
"From 1957 to 1963 and in decades of reruns, the glamorous June, who wore pearls and high heels at home, could be counted on to help her husband, Ward (Hugh Beaumont), get their son Theodore, better known as Beaver (Jerry Mathers), and his older brother, Wally (Tony Dow), extricated from innumerable minor jams, from an alligator in the basement to a horse in the garage. While baking a steady supply of cookies, she would use motherly intuition to sound the alarm about incipient trouble ("Ward, I'm worried about the Beaver") in their immaculate, airy house in the fictional town of Mayfield. (The house appeared to have no master bedroom, just a big door from which Ward and June occasionally emerged, tying their bathrobes.) ... Ms. Billingsley's role became a cultural standard, one that may have been too good to be true but engendered fan mail and nostalgia for decades afterward, from the same generation whose counterculture derided the see-no-evil suburbia June's character represented.''
Perfect!!! In honor of June's death, I give you my three favorite Barbara Billingsley Quotes of Her Life:
e. June, with a worried expression, to her seething husband: "Oh Ward, you're being too hard on the Beaver.''
f. Billingsley, in the 1980 movie Airplane, trying to help the flight attendant speak the language of two inner-city passengers: "Oh, stewardess ... I speak jive.''
g. Billingsley, to one of the inner-city passengers, telling him the flight attendant was going to get medical help: "Jus' hang loose blood -- she gonna catch up onna rebound on the med side.''
h. Imagine how many takes it must have taken for a prim 64-year-old mom to get that right. Her accent -- perfect. Do I have a reader out there who, 30 years ago, worked on the set of Airplane, or who has inside knowledge from the making of that movie? Please write me today and tell me about the filming of that scene and how long it took Billingsley to get it right.
i. You know, it's not easy going from a mini-review of Waiting For Superman right into a tribute of June Cleaver.
j. Coffeenerdness: The one flaw of the Acela is the horribly watered-down coffee. I want to like Green Mountain coffee, and I've had some good blends of it. But the stuff they serve on the train is borderline useless. I keep giving it a chance because I'm usually desperate for it on a Saturday morning, but it continually disappoints.
k. Anybody No. 1 in college football? Not to parrot Tony Dungy or anything, but how is anyone better than Oregon? Except maybe Oklahoma or Boise State.
l. My thoughts are with Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed below the neck trying to make a tackle in a game against Army on Saturday. You can send Eric a get-well message here.
m. Not a good day for presumptive first-round QB Ryan Mallett of Arkansas, and I don't mean just because he exited Saturday with a ringing headache. Arkansas' backup looked as good as Mallett.
n. Anyone else creeped out by the Philly crowd whistling at Tim Lincecum like he's a cute girl?
o. Cody Ross Note That He Probably Won't Remember: I stood with my brothers Bob and Ken, and my brother-in-law Bob Whiteley, behind the batting cage in Jupiter, Fla., in March at Marlins camp. Ross was a Marlins outfielder at the time. He and Dan Uggla talked to us for 15 or 20 minutes, and Ross let my brother Bob hold his pine-tarred bat, which Bob, a former Enfield (Conn.) High baseball star, got a great kick out of.
Ross -- who hit two bombs off Roy Halladay on Saturday for the Giants in San Francisco's 4-3 playoff win, and another on Sunday in a 6-1 loss -- was as friendly as could be, as was Uggla. I hope he knows how happy he made Bob that day. Bob died suddenly in June, and the time we spent behind the Marlins cage with those ballplayers, on the last trip we took together as brothers, was something we'll never forget. Thanks, Cody. And congrats on a night you'll never forget.
Tennessee 26, Jacksonville 16. Two 3-2 teams that always seem to be on the cusp of playoff contention in October meet at the Nee Alltel Stadium You Cannot Name (EverBank Field) tonight in Jacksonville. (See? EverBank, a financial services company based in Jacksonville, just got the plug that makes its five-year, $16.6-million naming-rights deal with the Jags worth it. What a lucky bank.)
Get ready to see a Tennessee pass-rush with a bunch of guys you've never heard of getting all over David Garrard tonight. OK, you've heard of Will Witherspoon; he was an afterthought free-agent signing for the Titans in the preseason. But consider this: Witherspoon, Jason Babin, David Ball and Jason Jones have combined for 15 sacks in the Titans' first five games. Three castoffs and a Titans second-round draft pick (Jones). Student-of-the-pass-rush Jim Washburn, the Titans longtime defensive line coach, does not get enough credit for continually putting a top rush together. The Jags will need to max-protect more than usual, and Maurice Jones-Drew will have to be a 100-yard rusher for the Jags to be in this one late.
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