1. I think, in response to the broadsides sent to Roger Goodell by players in recent weeks (Mike Silver wrote extensively on player frustration with Goodell on Yahoo!, and he is not alone), I was interested to read Andrew Brandt's take on player anger on National Football Post. And I remember similar anger directed at Pete Rozelle in 1987, the last time games were lost in NFL history due to a job action. There will be more, and when there's a solution, it'll go away. That's labor strife, anywhere, in any walk of life.
2. I think what's clear after Rashard Mendenhall and the bin Laden/Twitter dustup is that some things are not meant to be said in 140 characters. Mendenhall is not a dolt. But he can sound like one -- we all can -- in the 140-letter bursts that are the max on Twitter. What he said last week, in three tweets, is that he didn't like celebrating a man's death, he didn't think it was fair to judge bin Laden without knowing him, and he questioned whether aircraft alone were to blame for the downing of the Twin Towers.
His statement after the fact was fairly well-reasoned (other than, I thought, his apology to "anyone I unintentionally harmed'' with his tweets, after clearly enraging many of those forever affected by 9/11). But it left me thinking about how much words can hurt.
To think that people in this country -- those who lost loved ones, those who had family or friends sent overseas to fight al Queda -- wouldn't respond angrily to 140-character opinions, which, right or wrong, appeared almost cavalier in their presentation, is not very thoughtful.
3. I think before we consign Wade Phillips to coaching hell for even thinking of switching Mario Williams from defensive end to outside linebacker in his new Houston 3-4 defense, let's give him the benefit of the doubt. Williams had been very good, but not all-world, in his first five seasons as a 4-3 end, averaging 9.6 sacks a year. Phillips thinks Williams, playing the same spot DeMarcus Ware played in Dallas, can have the kind of impact Ware had.
Time will tell if he's right, because Ware's a 250-pound edge-rusher, and Williams, who weighs 282 right now and will try to slim down to 265-ish for his new role, hasn't played with his hand off the ground much in the NFL. But to think this is a revolutionary move ... as Jimmy Johnson would say, puh-leeze. And Williams wasn't exactly Bruce Smith as a defensive end. Sacks in the past five years, by the way: Ware 72, Williams 48.
4. I think when Toronto politician Doug Ford said New Orleans was a candidate to move to Toronto last week, it sounded downright stupid. Turns out it was. Way to be credible, Mr. Ford.
5. I think Bob Papa's got to say all the right things about being booted out of the NFL Network booth as Thursday night play-by-play man, and he has. But I wonder how he feels after auditioning for a job he already had by doing play-by-play on a videotaped game from 2010 with Mike Mayock, then seeing someone who didn't have to audition for the job, Brad Nessler, get the gig alongside Mayock? I know how I'd feel: set up. Like the fix was in, and I just got played for a fool.
6. I think former coach Jeff Fisher, former Patriot Tedy Bruschi and former Eagle Chad Lewis are ready to tackle Mount Kilimanjaro. They arrive Friday in Africa and will spend the next four or five days summiting the great mountain. As I wrote recently, they're doing it to help raise awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project. I'll have news of their trek in the column next Monday.
7. I think I'd watch the Bucs on Hard Knocks, and I'd be interested. But it won't be the must-see TV series the Jets made with HBO and NFL Films last year. No team would be.
8. I think Rex Grossman will take the first snap of the 2011 season for the Redskins.
9. I think Mark Herzlich, the Boston College linebacker spurned by the NFL in the draft, will wait for the chance to sign with a team in free agency, whenever the league and players do a deal. He direct-tweeted me Sunday (what a country) that he'd bypass the Omaha Nighthawks -- he was drafted by the United Football League team Monday -- and wait for his chance to make a team as one of the undrafteds.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Willie Mays, 80. Wow. Still looking good, Willie.
b. Take a look at a replay (if you can find one) of third-base ump Joe West interfering with Terry Francona's attempt to ask umpire Angel Hernandez why he called a balk on Tim Wakefield on Friday night in the Twins-Red Sox games. Francona knew he'd be ejected for even arguing a balk call, which happened immediately. And it may well have been a balk by Wakefield when he picked Denard Span off first base; the replay isn't crystal-clear because it happened so fast. But the nullified pickoff turned into a run scoring from third base and was a huge play at the time.
Why a manager can't have that explained to him is beyond me, and stupid. But West, who has always been a schoolyard bully of an umpire, ran to get between Francona and Hernandez, for no apparent reason. There was contact -- it's hard to say who pushed who first -- and it was totally unnecessary. West was the spark that lit the incident, and if baseball suspends Francona without suspending West too, it would be the height of blind-support-for-the-umps idiocy.
c. That comes from a Red Sox follower, of course.
d. A Red Sox follower who would rather fold laundry for six hours than watch Matsuzaka pitch for three.
e. Pulling for you, Nick Charles. Hold Giovanna close.
f. Re the aftermath of bin Laden: Agree with Maureen Dowd, who said eloquently Sunday in the New York Times that we don't need to apologize for killing bin Laden. Agreed. Put a cost on capture, detainment, security, trial, sentencing and whatever would follow. What is it -- $50 million? A hundred? And instead of carpet-bombing the place and killing innocent people as well as bin Laden, we took the risky road of isolating him and killing him. I fully support the decision, and I applaud the SEALs and U.S. Army Delta teams who did the heroic deed.
g. On one thing, though, I agree with Rashard Mendenhall: I am not taking to the streets to celebrate anyone's death. I support it, but I'm not hootin' and hollerin' over it. You're free to note the death however you wish; it's your personal choice, which I support.
h. Coffeenerdness: Down to one triple latte a day. What willpower.
i. Beernerdness: Gotta hand it to Fenway Park for improving the beer quality. Blue Moon on tap in the bleachers, Sam Adams summer ale and ShockTop Raspberry upstairs.
j. Ten years ago we never heard of oblique injuries. Now there must be 20 baseball players on the DL with them.
k. Will Ferrell's great. No matter what happens on The Office, I'll think he's great. But he's a bad fit on the show. His character is forced and unfunny.
l. Someone had to say it.
m. I'll say two things about my buddy Pete Thamel: He can investigate college athletics with the best of them, and he can pick horses. Heck of a pick with Animal Kingdom, Pete.
n. Uncle Mo's going to go down as one of the best horses that never was.
o. It's wedding week for publicist extraordinaire Karen Dmochowsky and SI's Gene Menez. Good luck to two people who deserve the best.
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