1. I think this kickoff proposal will probably pass, but it's not a slam dunk. Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune reported Sunday the Bears will vote against the league's proposal to move the kickoff from the 30- to 35-yard line for safety reasons. Paired with the league's proposal to have the ball placed at the 25-yard line after a touchback, it would certainly reduce the number of kickoff returns. On one hand, it's going to be easy for a team to vote for the measure, because it's a vote for fewer collisions and fewer injuries. But on the other, it's a sign to some that the league's going too far to make the game safe. As Chicago returner Devin Hester tweeted Sunday night: "I see the NFL is trying to take the kickoff game out. They already punt out of bounds. What's next?''
2. I think I'd love to know how this rule would change the value of difference-making special teams. Bill Cundiff, for instance. The Ravens kicker tied the NFL record with 40 touchbacks last season, and Baltimore rewarded him with a five-year, $15-million contract six weeks ago. The new rules, if passed, would make it easier to make touchbacks, obviously. And it would make return men less important. I see this as more than an automatic rubber-stamping of a Competition Committee proposal because of the way it could change the strategy of the game and the impact of special teams.
3. I think one of the most fun offenses I've see in my time covering football was Houston's run-and-shoot unit of the '80s, with receivers Heywood Jeffires, Drew Hill and Ernest Givens helping make Warren Moon a star -- and vice versa. Hill died Saturday after falling ill on a golf course. I'll remember him as a dignified hard-worker Moon could rely on when the game was on the line.
4. I think I'd be more sympathetic about scouts getting financial haircuts during the time of labor uncertainty than coaches. The average scout's salary is far less than that of a coach, and they're the ones with so much at stake in the next five weeks before the draft. Imagine telling a regional scout his salary's being cut 15 percent this week, while he's finalizing his reports on the most important part of this offseason -- the draft.
5. I think it's looking more and more like a new league year -- even with the issuance of an injunction and affirmation of that through appeal -- won't begin until at least early May. I don't see how the court could impose work rules that could start the week of the draft, for instance, or the league choosing to start the league year that week.
6. I think if Mike Vrabel wants the lawyers out of the negotiating room, the NFL would view that as a plus.
7. I think the hero of the week doesn't want to be the hero of the week. John Mara, I mean. Mara and co-owner Steve Tisch of the Giants agreed to let fans forego season-ticket payments until the lockout ends. "We were in a unique situation with what we've asked our season-ticket holders to do in the last two years,'' Mara said Sunday afternoon. "I cringe when I read, 'The Giants are doing it right, and everyone else is wrong.' That's not it. It was just a gesture we felt was right after all the financial obligations our tickets holders have faced with the building of the new stadium.''
8. I think, just as a reminder to those who still wonder why star rookie prospects might skip the NFL draft and honor what the NFL Players Association wants, I'm bringing back this quote from a prominent agent the other day. He told me: "What is the first round of the draft for the NFL? It's a TV show, a show that makes the league a lot of money. They're going to be asking young men to shake the hand of a commissioner who is trying to lock them out. They're going to be asking young men to help the league put on this big TV production. And I can tell you this: There's a few quarterbacks who could get picked high in this draft and the NFL will invite to New York. All those quarterbacks would do by attending the draft for the NFL is giving DeMarcus Ware more incentive to knock their blocks off the first time they line up across the line of scrimmage from him.''
Right or wrong, if I'm one of those quarterbacks, I'm not in Radio City the night of the draft.
9. I think one of Sirius Radio's faithful callers, Benny from the Bronx, got quite a surprise the other day. Goodell called him. Goodell sometimes calls avid fans who write or call the league office, and this was one of his calls last week. Benny got quite excited, as he is prone to do when discussing the NFL, and I asked him what Goodell's message was. "He told me, 'Don't take sides,' '' Benny said. In other words, there's going to be football when this thing is over, and you'll still want to love the game when the labor fight is done. So don't go demonizing one side or the other.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. I don't know what I'd do without Jim Irsay's tweets. At 11:51 p.m. Sunday, this came from @jimirsay: "It's so noisy at the Fair, but all your friends r there... the candy floss u had..and your mother and your dad..Oh 2 live on, Sugar Mountain''
b. Neil Young, for those of you who don't know.
c. You are a better man than all of us, Anthony Robles of Arizona State. Robles, born without a right leg, won the NCAA wrestling championship in his weight class Saturday night, decisioning Matt McDonough of Iowa 7-1. That's as inspirational a story as I've seen in years, Robles hopping on and off of the mat and then dominating a series of foes.
d. Coffeenerdness: Woman in line at the Starbucks in the Tampa Airport Sunday morning ordered a 115-degree hot chocolate and asked for soy whipped cream. They didn't have it. Then she said she'd take it at 115 degrees with no whipped. The barista looked surprised. The woman said, "I've had places make me soy whipped cream.'' That's a new one on me.
e. Beernerdness: I have found a new go-to beer. Rapscallion Premier (Holyoke, Mass.), probably the best American blonde ale I have tasted. Had it before, but there was something ridiculously good about it this time, on draft -- maybe the slight touch of lemon zest, rare for this beer in those I've tasted. Who knows. But it's a keeper. Just wish I could find it in more places in the Boston area.
f. Speaking of the Boston area, not sure if the Hub can be feeling really good about the fourth starter (Josh Beckett) and closer (Jonathan Papelbon) combining for an ERA over 12.60 in spring training.
g. Mesmerized by the TV in midweek. I weep for Japan.
h. And then I just learned the other night we're at war with Libya. Sort of. How many wars can we be in at once? Is there a rule? If not, could we invent one?
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