"Are we going to have football this year, or am I going to send your bags somewhere else?''
--A Delta Air Lines skycap at LaGuardia Airport in New York on Sunday morning to Giants president John Mara. Mara said he thought there would be football. The skycap ticketed the bags for New Orleans.
"TONY! TONY! HEYYYY TONY!!!!!''
--A passenger in a car traveling through the Belmont Heights section of Tampa on Saturday about 6 a.m., as he drove past a Cadillac Escalade with the windows rolled up and tinted.
The Escalade was driven by Tampa resident and retired coach Tony Dungy. The only possible way a person could tell it was Dungy's car was by the "O'' window sticker for son Eric's University of Oregon Ducks.
Just another sign of how well-known Dungy is in Tampa.
"They talk about walk softly and carry a big stick. I love that. I agree with that 100 percent. But I guess I feel more like Babe Ruth. I'm going to walk softly. I'm going to carry that big stick, and then I'm going to point, and then I'm going to hit it over the fence.''
--Jets coach Rex Ryan, to Gary Myers of the New York Daily News on Sunday at the league meetings, comparing his prediction that the Jets will win the Super Bowl this year to the time in the 1932 World Series when Babe Ruth was said to have called his shot by pointing to the outfield stands and then hitting a home run there. "I'm not as good a coach as Babe Ruth was a player,'' Ryan said. "But I still feel the same way. I still feel like, 'Why wouldn't I say it?' ''
Last season in the NFL, 20.5 percent of kickoffs (418 of 2,033) went for touchbacks. That's twice the percentage of kickoffs that weren't returned as in 2004. If the new rule making kickers kick from the 35-yard-line instead of the 30 passes at the NFL meetings this week, what will the percentage be? I wouldn't be surprised if half the kickoffs in the NFL were not returned in 2011.
With Plaxico Burress due out of jail on a gun charge in June, he's looking for some mentoring. So sometime in the next two weeks, Tony Dungy plans to visit Burress at his upstate New York prison. "I hope I can pass on some of the same things I passed on to Michael,'' Dungy said Sunday night.
Michael, as in Vick, who also is hoping to coordinate a visit to see Burress.
I've never seen New Orleans look better than it did Sunday. Sunny, 70s, palm trees swaying gently, obnoxious drunks sleeping one off from Saturday night. This town's coming back in a good way.
I learned one valuable lesson in traversing Florida over the past three days. I drove from Orlando to Lakeland (busman's holiday -- Twins at Tigers on Thursday), from Lakeland to Marco Island (NFL players meeting), and from Marco Island to Tampa (to meet up with Tony Dungy, Michael Vick and Dan Patrick for a prison visit). FM radio is a disaster. In four hours in the car Thursday night, I heard "Magic Man'' by Heart twice, and certainly heard more Journey and Styx than the law should allow. It's like the state's stuck in a 1978 musical time warp.
Interesting reaction from an 86ish-year-old lady I was walking behind at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland. Looking at the beer in my hand, she said sternly, "If you spill that beer on me, I'll have you arrested.'' Hmmmm. I see.
"This is an antitrust case in the truest sense -- neither side trusts the other.''
--@LATimesfarmer, NFL beat man Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, after the players and league spent another day trashing each other on the Internet Saturday.
"Anyone with knowledege [sic] of the slave trade and the NFL could say that these two parallel eachother [sic].''
--@r_mendenhall, Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall, defending fellow NFL running back Adrian Peterson's earlier tweet equating being a player in the NFL with slavery.
Gentlemen, the more you discuss this, the worse you look -- having chosen to enter the NFL, having worked hard out of college to be drafted as high as you could in the NFL, and being allowed to leave the NFL at any time of your choosing. Of course, if you'd like to add to this discussion with anything further justifying your remarks, I'd be happy to expand my comments next Monday.