1. I think I understand Mike McCarthy wants to make sure his team doesn't overplay injuries, and wants to be sure his team doesn't use injuries as an excuse. But to think that NOT putting injured veterans in the Super Bowl team photo would go over well ... well, that was a big surprise. And I applaud Nick Barnett for standing up and crying foul on it. The Pack will now take a real team photo, with the injured players in it. Rightfully so.
2. I think you can't win by telling the truth, as when Aaron Rodgers said Saturday the Packers had rallied around the replacements for trusted vets like Nick Barnett and Jermichael Finley. Some of the injured players, Rodgers said, "are still a part of this team, but some of them didn't choose to stick around.'' Uh-oh.
Barnett, for one, said he could get better individual attention elsewhere, instead of in the Packers' crowded training room. And he and Finley were fuming about Rodgers' remarks.
3. I think it's logical, on both sides, that Jeff Fisher, the longest-tenured coach in the league, was forced out by the team last Thursday, in a story first reported on SI.com by colleague Don Banks. Tennessee has no defensive coordinator after Chuck Cecil was forced out. Its offensive coordinator, Mike Heimerdinger, has been battling cancer. The team's best defensive assistant, Jim Washburn, left for Philadelphia. There is no quarterback of the future. Why on God's green earth would you want to scotch-tape some semblance of a coaching staff back together and force Kerry Collins to be the quarterback for one more meaningless year?
It's much smarter to go ahead and make the switch now and bring in a quality young assistant with the hunger and energy to make the most of a head-coaching chance with a good general manager in Mike Reinfeldt ... either that or hire Dom Capers the week after the Super Bowl. You can be sure Capers wants one more shot at a head job before he finishes coaching.
4. I think Jeff Fisher will have a nice, comfy chair on some ESPN set, or NFL Network, for 2011 (assuming the league is playing football), and then he'll throw his mustache in the ring for a head-coaching job in 2012.
5. I think, for the 73rd time, there can be no trades until the first day of the new league year, and there can be no free-agency movement for the league's 495 free-agents until then, which almost certainly means there can be no trades or free-market moves 'til there's a new CBA. That's a long way off. So could we please have a moratorium on the Carson Palmer-to-Arizona or San Francisco or anywhere rumors, and can we please stop speculating where Kevin Kolb's going to go? Come on. This stuff's months away.
6. I think, not to beat a dead Eagle, that Kevin Kolb is going nowhere, unless Philadelphia gets a sick offer. Why would the Eagles trade a quarterback Andy Reid loves, for anything, when he's not sure Mike Vick can play 16 games? There may come a time, like in 2012, when the cost of keeping Kolb would be so prohibitive the Eagles would let him go. But that time is not now. It's just not smart.
7. I think I'd like to add my condolences to the rest of the football world over the death of Bears VP Tim McCaskey, a good man who died of cancer over the weekend at 65. The grandson of George Halas was a well-respected man around the league.
8. I think when Kevin Mawae said to Sirius' Chris Russo the other day that he "can't sell'' the 18-game schedule to players, I was glad to hear it ... but the real question is this: If the league raises salaries across the board 15 percent, and if the league offers 10 years of post-career health care instead of the current five, and if players get vested at, say, 1.2 years of credited service for every year of an 18-game schedule played, then I'd like to hear if Mawae can sell it.
9. I think the player who helped himself the most at the Senior Bowl was Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who could have jumped from the fourth round to the bottom of the first by showing off a very big arm and pro poise and smarts.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Saw True Grit. Other than the absolutely brilliant remake of The Longest Yard, (and I jest only massively, because I appeared in the second one), this, I believe, is the best remake of a movie I've ever seen. First: I love movies that succeed in putting you back in time, in some period you've always imagined what it would be like. And the Coen brothers, I thought, did a perfect job on what I imagine 1880 was like.
Second: I love John Wayne; who doesn't? But Jeff Bridges, growly and a lush and heroic, was at least his equal as Rooster Cogburn. Matt Damon was top-notch too. But there's a good chance this kid, Hallie Steinfeld, stole the show. So precocious, so good at the dialogue of the day, so incredible sure of herself. To put her in the Best Supporting category is wrong. She's the star of the movie, a heroine of the first order.
b. Now I'm confused on the order of the top three movies of the year that I've seen. I'll go 1.The Fighter, 2. The King's Speech and 3. True Grit. But it could go almost any way. Loved them all.
c. I feel for Hallie Steinfeld. She's 14, and I haven't seen acting talent in such a young kid since Natalie Portman in Beautiful Girls. But already I see she's being followed to the mall and wherever else by the paparazzi. Poor kid. Normal life, gone. Real childhood, gone. I hope somehow she finds a way to live her life out of sight for the most part, the way Portman did by disappearing, relatively speaking, and being a fairly normal student at Harvard.
d. Now the only movies I absolutely have to see before the Oscars are The Social Network, Black Swan and Inception. Don't worry. I'll get to them. Can't wait to see them.
e. Congratulations, Jeffrey and Christina Lurie, for your insightful documentary on the fall of the American economy, Inside Job, getting an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary. Lurie, of course, owns the Eagles.
f. How the documentaries about the plight of American schools (Waiting for Superman) and the Joan Rivers' doc (A Piece of Work) didn't get nominated is terrible.
g. Thanks, Real Sports, and the three of you -- indefatigable producer Lisa Bennett, barrel-of-fun correspondent Mary Carillo and do-it-all Nisreen Hallal -- who made me look so much more important, insightful and dashingly handsome than I am in real life on the show the other night. Appreciate all the care you took in telling my little story. And most importantly, thanks for giving Bailey the Golden Retriever her star turn. Now I have people on Twitter wanting Bailey to get her own Twitter account. No way. Her head's already too big from her three cameos on Real Sports.
h. I say barrel of fun with Carillo because she sat in our home one night telling great tennis stories, including the one about the only Grand Slam title she ever won (mixed doubles, French Open, 1977), that was also the first Grand Slam title for John McEnroe, her Long Island tennis pal.
i. Coffeenerdness: Unhappiness is landing in Dallas after 10 Sunday night, running into a Starbucks while rushing to the hotel to write this column and still get one hour of sleep, and getting two miles away from the place when you take your first sip of the quad venti whole milk latte, and discovering it's a quad venti soy latte instead. I know whole milk. I know soy. Yo no soy. Now that puts a damper on the typing, let me tell you.
j. Tremendous time was had by all at the Fenway Park Writer's Series the other night in Eastern Standard, a Copley Square restaurant, with Jane Leavy, the author of The Last Boy, the terrific bio of Mickey Mantle. What a storyteller. Leavy wrote the insightful Sandy Koufax bio a few years ago, and I thought her best story of the night was Koufax coming to Leavy's daughter's Bat Mitzvah and teaching a smart-aleck baseball fan the real grip of a curveball.
k. Beernerdness: Great beer selection at the Leavy affair. I opted for Abita's Save Our Shore pilsner, which, aside from being delicious, is donating 75 cents per bottle sold to recovery of the Gulf of Mexico following the oil spill.
l. Nothing's worse than the Pro Bowl, but the NHL All-Star Game, with that dumb pick-em format, is close.
m. Stat Line of the NBA Weekend (bet you never thought you'd see me write that): Russell Westbrook, Thunder, vs. Wizards, Friday: 35 points, 13 rebounds, 13 assists. What a player.
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