1. I think I couldn't agree more with Ben Roethlisberger. In his interview with Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger said he wished he could have thrown downfield more than the Steelers did. I kept looking at Pittsburgh late in the year, when rookie burner Antonio Brown got to know the offense and was the kind of outside receiver who could be bookended with Mike Wallace to seriously stretch the defense, and wondered why the Steelers didn't do more of it. Wallace needs to be more of a weapon than he was in 2010. It's simple. That has to happen for this offense to reach its potential.
2. I think I'd be concerned about Joe Flacco's future with the Ravens. Not worried that the organization can't smooth things over with him, because it can be done. But Flacco is obviously the team's quarterback of the future, and he wasn't happy that Jim Zorn got canned as quarterback coach, and he wasn't happy the team didn't redo his contract into a long-term deal in February. Not saying this is real trouble. Just saying Cam Cameron might have to do some minor surgery on their relationship whenever this labor thing gets solved.
3. I think this New York Times analysis on how the budget battle was bridged should be essential reading for players and owners today.
4. I think this is my question to those who elect the classes of the Basketball Hall of Fame -- with the clear preface that I do not know the process the way I know the process in football: How can there be 16 players from one franchise in a 25-year period (16 Celtics played at least three seasons with the team between 1960 and 1984) in the Hall?
Satch Sanders was elected as a contributor last week, meaning the Celtics, in essence, had three complete generations of starting teams put in the Hall. There are 22 starters in football, five in basketball. The Steelers, the team of the '70s, have 10 players in Canton. Look at the Hall of Famers from the Celtics in mid-dynasty in the early '60s: Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn, K.C. Jones, Sam Jones, Frank Ramsey, Bill Russell, Tom Sanders. I realize Sanders is in there because of his contributions to basketball, but seven guys from one era of basketball, regardless how good it was? I don't see it.
5. I think this draft season's must-see TV comes April 21, one week before the draft. You'll hear Jon Gruden analyze his top quarterback guys in the draft in this column next week. But you'll need to see this: "SportsCenter Special: Gruden's QB Camp'' on April 21 at 7 p.m., one week before draft night. Gruden sits down and film-watches and works out five of the top prospects: Jake Locker (Washington), Andy Dalton (TCU), Ryan Mallett (Arkansas), Cam Newton (Auburn), and Blaine Gabbert (Missouri). Last year, his give-and-take with Tim Tebow was priceless. Looking forward to his acerbic self next week.
6. I think we've got one very special addition to the Lockout Breakfast with Matt Light on April 26 at the Liberty Hotel in Boston (7:30-9:30 a.m.): his fellow Patriot offensive lineman, Logan Mankins, who should have quite a lot of interesting things to say that morning. I'm going to be hosting the event, and I'll give you a draft preview for the NFL; Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com will be there to give you a rundown of the Patriots' prospects in the draft.
The event benefits the Matt Light Foundation, which tries to save the lives of at-risk high-school kids in danger of becoming statistics. Light, the Patriots' player representative to the NFL Players Association, and Mankins will give you their view of the labor deal. Or non-deal, which is likely to be the case still by then. Mankins will be interesting because he's not only a free-agent, as is Light, but also one of the 10 named plaintiffs in the antitrust suit against the league, and he hasn't been heard from yet.
Come one, come all. It's $250 for breakfast, autographs, photos ... and my wisdom. For tickets, go here, or email Margrette Mondillo at email@example.com.
7. I think no matter who the Cowboys take in the first round of the draft, Doug Free is the left tackle of 2011 -- and he could stay that way. The pick of a tackle wouldn't be about Free being unsatisfactory, but about there not being a right tackle of the future on the roster.
8. I think you'll want to read my Tuesday column about Adrian Clayborn, the defensive end from Iowa. There's some good debate about whether damage done at childbirth will have much to do with where he gets picked. Talked to him the other day. Sounds like a good kid, and those in Iowa City will tell you he was the leader of that defense for more than just the last year.
9. I think there's likely to be a change in the Thursday night announcer lineup for NFL Network games this fall, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Mike Mayock, one of the fastest-rising stars in the analyst business, get involved in the booth. Don't know if that means Joe Theismann or Matt Millen would be out, or moved, or have to slide over one seat. I just hear the NFLNet's looking. And who wouldn't look at Mayock?
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Will Ferrell subbing for Steve Carell on The Office, eh? Not saying it can't work, but there's something about Ferrell running in the buff down the middle of the street in that college town that I cannot get out of my mind. Not a pleasant view.
b. I feel for Rory McIlroy. Imagine having the worst nine of your pro career on the biggest nine of your pro career.
c. Very friendly people at Augusta National, by and large. Very happy to be there. Met a man from Minnesota who won a trip to the Masters, and he was beaming about it.
d. The grounds. Prettier than a postcard, and there aren't many places you can say that about.
e. Respectable tuna fish sandwich on wheat bread for $1.50 at the Masters. They raised the sandwich prices 50 cents this year. I didn't hear any griping.
f. I'll tell you what was stunning about watching Phil Hughes for the Yankees Friday: The Red Sox, in an awful slump, swung and missed at one pitch among 47 Hughes threw in two innings. I have great admiration for Hughes' fastball and his overall ability, but who kidnapped him, and who was the impostor on the mound Friday afternoon?
g. I won't be giving any going-away kisses to Manny Ramirez, if that's what you're looking for here.
h. Coffeenerdness: Not to say the 144 miles between Atlanta and Augusta are not very well-populated, but let me just say it's a very, very good thing we stopped at a Starbucks before dawn Sunday to get a latte on the outskirts of Atlanta, because we didn't see another one until we got to the land of the green jacket.
i. Beernerdness: At the Red Sox opener Friday, I had this choice: Bud Light, Heineken, Wachusett Green Monsta Ale and Shock Top Raspberry Wheat. Having had the first three (some in Monsta-rous volume), I tried the Raspberry. I've become a guinea pig for fruit beers -- at least trying them -- and this one I'd say was above average. The raspberry flavor was slightly much, but the cloudy brew was very smooth, and for a ballpark beer, quite good.
j. A good deed is about to be done and you might want to get involved. A little New England girl named Quinn Dickert has leukemia, and dad Kevin Dickert and some friends will gather at Gillette Stadium June 5 to shave their heads to raise money and awareness for oncology patients at Children's Hospital in Boston. For information, go to www.one-mission.org and look for the link entitled "Kids cancer buzz-off.''
k. Finally congratulations to good friend Doug Green and fiance Tatiana on their impending nuptials. For those who don't know, Doug is a former NFL PR man who, desperate for a home for his very young golden retriever Bailey a decade ago because his job working for Daniel Snyder in Washington didn't exactly give him a lot of down time with the pup, asked me if our family would take him. Suckers that we are, we took Bailey. And almost 11 years later, we couldn't be happier. Good luck, Doug and Tatiana.
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