1. I think if you want to play football with Tom Brady, this your chance. As part of his annual weekend helping the Best Buddies charity, which pairs intellectually and developmentally disabled people with volunteers from the larger society, Brady will quarterback one of the teams in a flag-football game in Boston June 3. He'll then take part in the annual Best Buddies cycling event between Boston and Cap Cod.
Last year, Bill Belichick rode; this year, some of his Patriot mates will come along, as will Andrea Kremer, who has made this an annual fundraising cause. And a good cause it is, founded to encourage friendship and create employment opportunities for mentally handicapped people. The group helps to mainstream those with intellectual and developmental disabilities while helping them develop friendships that are often rare in their lives. Brady got involved from friendships with agent Brad Blank, who lived in his Boston neighborhood, and the group's founder, Anthony Shriver.
2. I think I saw two things I really liked this week:
a. I love the Raiders asking their employees (including coaches) to sell tickets in an attempt to make sure their salaries aren't cut. Jarrett Bell wrote about this in USA Today last week, and I wanted to shake my head and say, "Typical Raiders.'' But I couldn't. It's actually pretty smart. And don't you think coaches would be great ticket sellers out in the community, particularly when they can regale some Chamber of Commerce audience with stories from the gridiron. Nice job, Amy Trask.
b. I like the Giants' contest (at giants.com) to determine their 10 best fan stories, with the 10 winning fans getting their pictures on game tickets this year. If I were a fan, I'd love to win a December game. I'd be afraid the others might be endangered.
3. I think it was good to spend 45 minutes in a car from the Jacksonville airport to the Ponte Vedra Beach with the Taucher family (Green Bay tackle Mark, wife Sarah, baby son Max) Sunday. Tauscher's recovering from rotator cuff surgery and feels good enough to swing a club now. Good also to spend some time with Pack defensive coordinator Dom Capers at the event Sunday night. Coaching Factoid of the Week: Capers owns two homes in Florida (where he doesn't live) while working and living in Green Bay (where he does live).
4. I think this is This Week's Sign The Lockout's Gone On Too Long: The Baltimore Sun wrote a story Sunday on Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff competing in the Preakness Cornhole Tournament in the infield before the race Saturday. Don't know what "cornhole'' is? Your loss.
5. I think some clarity is in order for Hall of Fame Weekend in August. It's happening. Regardless of the state of the labor situation, the 2011 class will be inducted on Aug. 6 at 7 p.m. in Canton. Can't wait to see Ed and Steve Sabol and their extended family and friends that weekend. Promises to be an emotional and memorable weekend.
6. I think it's looking more and more like Kevin Kolb to the Cardinals whenever football returns, as SI's Jim Trotter set the table for last week in the magazine. Certainly not a done deal, but no one will be surprised if it happens.
7. I think it's still a mistake, especially if no No. 1 pick comes in return for Kolb. The Eagles may well get a Matt Schaub-like pair of second-round picks for Kolb, if Andy Reid chooses to pull the trigger.
8. I think I've been late in recognizing Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in this space. He's the 2011 winner of the McCann Award, which is given annually by the Pro Football Hall of Fame to a writer for long and meritorious service covering pro football.
Lauding McGinn is long overdue. He's one of the first beat writers to analyze game tape to give readers a deeper understanding of what they just saw. He has contacts throughout the league, on virtually every coaching and scouting staff, which is rare for a local beat guy. But McGinn does it to give his readers an unvarnished look at how the Packers are playing.
He also has as good a crystal ball as any football writer I know. The morning of the draft, in his Packer draft-preview, he wrote of Green Bay GM Ted Thompson's leanings, "Thompson has high regard for Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod.'' Sherrod was the first player he listed in his story. Of course, Sherrod went to Green Bay with the 32nd overall pick. It's the type of smart reporting Packer fans have gotten used to over the last quarter-century with McGinn.
9. I think I teased you with the best Q&A of the week with one of the Quotes of the Week, above, but here's the whole interview of an interesting retired 49er, Glen Coffee, by a smart beat man, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. To those who hate interleague play in baseball: I respectfully disagree. The biggest complaint is from those who have no desire to see Houston-Toronto, Detroit-Pittsburgh, etc. Fine. You're in Toronto. Instead of getting three with the Astros, you'd get -- let's say -- three more with Kansas City, Oakland or Seattle. Whoopee! There are some ho-hum matchups, but there's also the Cubs at Fenway for the first time in 93 years, the Yanks at Wrigley Field, the good fans of Cincinnati getting a chance to see Jose Bautista in their little bandbox, Albert Pujols taking his shot at an equally homer-friendly Camden Yards, Roy Halladay's return to Toronto, the Red Sox throwing the fans of the woebegone Pirates a three-game weekend series. Interleague play's a no-brainer. It's different. It's fun.
b. In my other life, I'm a ninth-place rotisserie baseball owner. (The Montclair Pedroias lineup: Berkman, Pedroia, E. Aybar, McGehee, Avila, Quentin, Ellsbury, Zobrist, Smoak (DH); Lester, Cahill, Kuroda, Hellickson, Marmol, Madson, League. You see my problem.)
Anyway, if I can't win, at least I can chuckle a bit. I've gotten to enjoy the daily musings of the terminally clever Grey Albright on razzball.com. Such as this comment on Rockies leadoff man Dexter Fowler: "Caught stealing twice. Now has 5 caught stealings in 7 attempts. Good thing he didn't choose a life of crime.'' And on the brittle Grady Sizemore: "To the DL. I wonder if he has one of those punch cards so he gets a free sandwich with this DL trip.''
c. Really fun to be in Fenway Park Friday night for the Cubs' first trip to the park since the 1918 World Series, when Babe Ruth roamed the land for the BoSox. Sat behind four Cub fans out in right field, and in front of two others who'd never been to Fenway and were Cub season-ticket holders. All very interested in Fenway, all seeming down-in-the-mouth about their Cubbies ... and all quite polite. Pleasure to have you in the house, Chicago.
d. Very nice job by Joe Posnanski on his Dick Ebersol encounter.
e. I'm an innocent bystander in the competition between the Globe and Herald in Boston, subscribing to both. But this might give you some idea of how the little guy, the Herald, feels about the more established paper, from a column this week by the Herald's Howie Carr: "Herald readers work for a living. Globe subscribers are like the Kennedys -- they've had everything handed to them. The Herald is for people who didn't move here from New York to look down their noses at everyone who has calluses on their hands, who aren't consumed by guilt about the trust funds that support them in their leisure.'' Yowza.
f. Am I the only person in the United States who never watched Oprah?
g. You can add Desperate Housewives, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Dancing With the Stars to that.
h. How much longer for The Office, Ed Helms? Seriously hope you're not getting too big for the show. Nice tattoo, by the way.
i. And come on. That Tysonesque tattoo can't be copyrighted.
j. The South Windsor (Conn.) High spring concert the other night, with the lovely Laila King playing violin, was one of the social highlights of my spring. I can't believe how many kids are so good on so many string instruments. Joyous music.
k. Coffeenerdness: What a tremendously pleasant airport you have, Jacksonville. Two Starbucks about 10 gates apart too. Nice job.
l. Beernerdness: I've got a good bar for the craft-beer-nerd crowd. (And don't you dare call Blue Moon a craft beer on Twitter, which I made the unforgivable mistake of doing the other day. The craft-beer-nerd crowd jumped through the Twitterverse, into my laptop and right down my throat, indignant that Blue Moon's no craft beer; it's brewed by that evil empire out at Coors. Sheesh.) The bar is called Bukowski's, on a little sidestreet off Dalton Street, wedged into a corner of Back Bay in Boston, about an eight-minute walk from Fenway Park. Homey, a grade above Hole-in-the-Wall, and one of the best selections of beer on tap in Boston.
m. Dave Goren, thanks for making so many people feel so at home in North Carolina last week at the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association event. Great time was had by all, particularly by the beaming extended family of Mike Tirico. Nice to see.
n. Thoughts, prayers to the good people of Joplin, Mo., as they cope with the tornado damage. Donations, too, if you've got it in you.