1. I think I hope I'm in the room when Alan Faneca's name comes up for discussion for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.
The longtime Steelers guard, who finished his career with two years in Arizona, was a six-time first-team All-Pro (don't weigh down the debate with Pro Bowl nods; they've been overwhelmingly cheapened with all those who drop out, in addition to the silly fan part of the voting) and a standard for guards of the future to model themselves after.
Tough, smart and versatile. Those are the traits you want in any player. At his peak, Faneca was a terrific run-blocker and good puller; I remember defensive coordinators (Rex Ryan for one) who talked openly about how tough it was to overpower Faneca or beat him through the gaps. A shame he didn't finish his career in Pittsburgh, but that's modern football.
2. I think I'm for a reunion of Pete Carroll and Matt Leinart in Seattle. For one reason: Why not?
3. I think there are minefields in place with the proposed Vikings stadium complex 12 miles northeast of downtown in Arden Hills, Minn., but the fact that there's significant traction now tells me there's very little chance the Vikings will follow in the footsteps of the Minneapolis Lakers and trek west to Los Angeles. Something's going to get done in greater Minneapolis for the Vikings -- as it should.
4. I think, for all of you wondering about the whereabouts of prize free-agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha for the 2011 season, stop putting him in Green Bay. Just not a smart fit. Super Bowl winners have to pay too many people already on the team, nevermind an $18-million-a-year (approximately) import. And with Charles Woodson recovering well from his Super Bowl broken collarbone and rising star Tramon Williams and free-agent revelation Sam Shields, young and already accomplished, Asomugha to Green Bay makes zero sense.
5. I think "Lombardi,'' the Broadway play about the Packer coach, needs to live longer than its scheduled close next Sunday. It needs to go to Washington for a few weeks, and in a perfect world, Dan Lauria and Judith Light and Co. should play Green Bay on the opening weekend of the season. Whenever that is.
6. I think it's incorrect to say Chad Ochocinco rode a bull Saturday night. His posterior made passing contact with a bull, from what I saw. Give him credit for trying, I guess.
7. I think, while you sharpen your emails and tweets and tell me how much I hate Ocho, a note of, well, something or other: I do not hate him. I like him. He's entertaining. And he works at being a good player; I saw him run routes after practice in camp last year against Pacman Jones, and Ochocinco was competing like it was a playoff game. That I like. But his look-at-me stuff, which never ends, is wearisome. That's all. For the many out there who believe you either love a guy or hate a guy and there's no in-between, that's not the world I live in. There's a way you can find someone interesting, likable and compelling, and at the same time be annoyed by his constant yearning for attention.
8. I think an emailer, Ken Finkelstein of Chicago, made me work a little bit this week with an interesting query about the Patriots turning down a deal with San Francisco. New England, for dropping down from the 33rd overall pick to San Francisco's at 45 overall, would have received the Niners' three this year and three next season. I'm told the Pats balked, wanting a two next year instead of a three.
I ran Finkelstein's letter in my Tuesday column. He wrote, "I don't usually question Bill Belichick's draft strategy, but why wouldn't he make the trade you mentioned with the 49ers? Was there any real chance that Ras-I Dowling wouldn't be there at 45? Most didn't even have Dowling at the top corner on the board at that point in the draft. Two threes may not be as much value as Belichick wanted, but it is certainly a good haul for moving back and still getting the player he wanted.''
I said there was no way he could have been assured of getting Dowling by moving down, which, of course, is true. But I asked four personnel people in the league this week about the likelihood of Dowling being there at 45, and three of the four were virtually certain Dowling would have been available. Surprising, to me, that Belichick, who usually is one of the league's most calculating risk-takers, didn't take a fairly safe risk here for a potentially huge reward.
9. I think Jarrett Bell, my friend from USA Today, had the best requiem for the late Ron Springs, who was a very good player but a locker-room leader on the scale of Michael Irvin when he led the Cowboys of the '80s.
Bell was a rookie at the late Dallas Times Herald when he met Springs in 1981. "He was a controversial rabble rouser, edgy and damn funny,'' Bell recalls. "He once told me that Tom Landry moved his seat to the front row for Monday film sessions to keep him in check. When Benny Barnes got cut, Springs stood on a chair in the middle of the locker room and mimicked Martin Luther King with a 'We're Not Gonna Stand for it Anymore' sermon. And the time I told Springs my salary as high school reporter for the Dallas Times Herald on my first full-time job, he seemed appalled. He thought I should renegotiate and demand to be paid like a columnist, which was a nice sentiment but, well, a bit out of the box. He implored, 'Go in there and tell 'em you want Skip Bayless money!' ''
A good man gone after a long illness.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Really feel for Harmon Killebrew, who has entered Hospice care with esophageal cancer Friday.
b. My Killebrew memory is a vivid one. I'm 10 years old, living and dying in my living room in Enfield, Conn., on the last weekend of the 1967 baseball season, as the Twins and Red Sox play the two games that will decide the American League pennant, pretty much. Four teams enter the weekend with a chance to win the flag (Boston, Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit), all within two wins of each other. Boston needs to sweep and needs help. It's the weekend of Killebrew, in the middle of the Twins' lineup, and Carl Yastrzemski, in the middle of Boston's. Saturday's game is on TV, Sunday's on the radio.
For the weekend (thanks, baseballreference.com, for refreshing my memory of something 43 years old), Killebrew goes walk, double, strikeout, strikeout, two-run homer, walk, single, walk, single. Yaz: single, strikeout, single, three-run homer, single, double, single, single. I'm screaming half the weekend for someone to get Killebrew out. (Probably every 10-year-old in the Twin Cities was doing the same with Yaz.) For the weekend, these two guys come to bat 17 times and reach 14. Incredible. But Killebrew was as respected a player as there was in baseball for his play (the 573 homers) and his unflagging class. He leaves nothing but good feeling in his wake. Here's hoping he goes peacefully.
c. Michael Farber: You've got the hockey world, and much of the sportswriting world, pulling for you. Get well soon, friend.
d Hey, Nick Charles: Thousands, and I mean thousands, of people are thinking of you this morning. Hope you're feeling some peace.
e. Dumbest idea of the NBA postseason, or any postseason: the white T-shirts on everyone. Like that makes the crowd intimidating? Dumb. Who thought of that? Irene Ryan?
f. How do you get Jose Bautista out? Lord: 70 homers in the last season plus six weeks.
g. How distracting would a golf-ball-sized chaw made of Bazooka and sunflower seeds be if you're trying to hit, with the sunflower shells floating out of the mouth willy-nilly? Maybe that's why Alex Rodriguez is slumping. That is one of the most grotesque things I've ever seen in a player's mouth. Looks like A-Rod's choking on it half the time.
h. What a weekend for Jorge Posada. Obviously, he shouldn't have asked out of the lineup Saturday after getting dropped to ninth in the batting order, and even more obviously, he shouldn't have created the excuse of having a sore back. But he's been such a credit to the game that he deserves a mulligan. Glad to see the crowd Sunday night gave him one.
i. Great stuff from Kevin Paul Dupont in Sunday's Boston Globe about the Cubs visiting Fenway Park this weekend for the first time since the 1918 World Series. Babe Ruth was a Boston pitcher/outfielder. The longest game of the six-game series lasted one hour, 58 minutes. The clinching game, game six, had a Fenway attendance of 15,238, less than half of capacity -- maybe the locals had others things on their mind: The next day, a national drive was held with its aim to sign up 13 million able-bodied American men to serve in World War I. And as Bill Pennington wrote in the New York Times Sunday, there's still a whiff of scandal on the series 93 years later, with some circumstantial evidence that the series might have been fixed. What a time that must have been in baseball, and in life.
j. Coffeenerdness: As we drove by a Starbucks on I-77 Sunday afternoon in North Carolina, Don Banks said: "Why hasn't Starbucks taken the mermaid's face out of the logo and replaced it with yours?''
k. Beernerdness: Very nice to see the Hickory Crawdads with Yuengling Amber in the ballpark Sunday. When it's Yuengling and the old standbys, it's not much of a contest, is it?
l. See what I told you about The Office? Will Ferrell's a very good actor, but he was miscast on the show. To see Dwight take a spin at running the place ... pure genius. Best part of the show wasn't Dwight shooting himself out of the job. It was the gi-normous Schrute portrait on the wall.
m. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino reads MMQB. (I think. Either that or a staffer does.) At a season-opening Little League parade last week in our neighborhood, I had the pleasure of meeting our mayor, and he said, "We doing better with the litter in your neighborhood?'' Quickly I processed this. When my wife and I moved to Boston 27 months ago, I wrote (and remarked to many in the neighborhood) about how much litter there was, and why in the world was such a great city pockmarked -- on some days at least -- with so much litter? It has gotten better, mayor. Thank you. But there's still too much.
SI Now Live Friday December 6, 2013
SI Now: "Lenny Cooke" documentary details a fallen prospect