"Most players are approaching this fight with the long term in mind. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Most players feel that way ... There's this perception that the players should capitulate now ... Some of the owners underestimate us. There is far more resolve among the player base than the owners know.''
--Seattle guard Chester Pitts, in a column by CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman posted Sunday.
"[I should] show up on the sidelines in this.''
--New England coach Bill Belichick, in a full-length black graduation gown, at son Brian's graduation from Suffield (Conn.) Academy. Belichick, who was the Class of 2011 commencement speaker at Suffield, though it might be appropriate to cut the gown off at the shoulders and wear it frayed.
Belichick had a great line to the 127 grads -- that there's no "I'' in team, but there is an "I'' in win. He talked about the best leaders he'd ever seen being guys who just went out and did their jobs with the right attitude, humbly.
"This is one of the most critical times in the league's history and so you're happy to be covering that up close. On the other hand, I never thought I'd miss covering OTAs so much.''
--New York Times NFL reporter Judy Battista, in an interview with TheBigLead.com
You've got a lot of company, Judy.
The other day, chatting with former Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson on SiriusXM NFL Radio, I was surprised (stunned, almost) to hear Anderson talk about this part of his legacy. "My yards-per-attempt were the same as Dan Marino's,'' he said. "I don't think anyone would think that.''
So I went to the trusty ProFootballReference.com, to the leader section, and checked yard-per-attempt. There, tied at 7.3 yards per attempt, were Anderson and Marino.
More than that, if you take it out to another decimal place:
"The misnomer in our offense was it was a dink-and-dunk offense,'' Anderson said. "Not so. You had to be able to throw it deep.''
Interested, I went on.
Neither won a Super Bowl. Both played in one. Both lost to Joe Montana. Each was two games below .500 as a post-season quarterback. I'm not saying Anderson belongs in the same breath with Marino. Of course he doesn't. Marino did it better, and for longer, and had to carry a franchise on his back for most of 17 years. But what Anderson did for 16 years in Cincinnati is rightfully getting some attention today -- as in Hall of Fame consideration kind of attention. I'm not saying he belongs -- I've always thought of him as a Hall of Very Good member -- but I have to say I'm open to the argument. This being the biggest reason: Ken Anderson was scouted and hand-picked by Paul Brown and his offensive assistant, Bill Walsh, and when Anderson got drafted, he was trained in the same basic offense Joe Montana would be trained in less than a generation later by the same coach, Walsh.
"The system was the same system as Bill taught Joe,'' Anderson said.
It'll be interesting to see if the Anderson candidacy can gain some traction with the Seniors Committee, the subcommittee of the 44-member Hall of Fame voting committee. Anderson is eligible for the Senior vote in February 2012, 25 years after he finished his last season (1986) in pro football.
Oh, the far-reaching impact of MMQB. Why, even the folks in Hickory, N.C., are big MMQB fans, and it seems they've figured a way to help improve mental health in the Hickory area -- and help get their own minor-league mascot out of the dumps at the same time.
In the column two weeks ago, I mentioned how much the King traveling partiers enjoyed our day at the Hickory Crawdads game on a trip to North Carolina. But, as you may recall, I questioned the zeal of Conrad Crawdad. A bit laconic, we thought, and my buddy Don Banks remarked that he'd never seen a mascot with such low self-esteem.
This was the result. What a country. I'll be back if I can be, Crawdads.
I love the Delta Shuttle between Boston, New York and Washington. In my experience, it's rarely sold out, and because coach is first-come, first-served, if you board early enough, you can get the bulkhead with all the leg room anyway.
But that's not the travel note of the week. On my way back from the Tom Coughlin charity golf tournament in Jacksonville last Monday night, there was a weather delay in Charlotte, so we didn't end up leaving Charlotte for Boston till about 9 p.m. I got a bulkhead middle seat in coach, and across the aisle was a young girl, maybe 20, on the aisle, with two older men in the middle and the window. The flight was uneventful -- or maybe it was very eventful; I slept most of the way -- and when we landed, the flight attendant said to me, "I thought we were going to have to take your pulse. You're a great plane sleeper.'' And across the aisle, the young gal slept through the landing, the taxi, and the door opening. We're all getting up and getting our belongings, and the guy in the middle seat nudges the gal and says, "Excuse me.'' Nothing. "Uh, EXCUSE me,'' with the same nudge. The girl was stunned, and woke up and looked around her and for a second had no idea what was going on.
"Well!'' she said, a little too loud.
Nothing untoward happened. The kid was asleep, in a deep sleep, and had to be awakened. I was behind her as we walked off the plane, and she started getting very emotional on the phone with her mother.
"What a HORRIBLE experience! The worst flight of my life!'' she said, again a little bit too loud.
No. Not a bad flight. Couldn't have been, or I'd have woken up. And what would she know? She was sound asleep.
"Don't tell ME TO CALM DOWN!'' she said, walking through the terminal, a few of the late stragglers looking over at her. "I'm just sleeping there, and this guy SCREAMS at me to wake up. How can people be so rude? What an a------!''
At baggage claim, I gave the gal a wide berth. She walked back and forth, gesturing, while she talked to her mother. And I thought: This girl is going to have a tough life. As is her mother.
"Great wedding last night! Great friends celebrating together! That's what life's all about!''
--@JasonWitten, Dallas tight end Jason Witten, Tweeting Sunday at 5:25 p.m., presumably after recently waking up from the social event of the Dallas season, Saturday night's wedding between Tony Romo and local TV anchor Candice Crawford.
"Is it weird Vanderbilt's Mike Yastrzemski (grandson of Carl) is facing Florida's Cody Dent, son of Bucky in the SEC tourney finals on ESPN2?''
--@rapsheet, Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald, Sunday afternoon.
Weird. Just as weird as Mike Yastrzemski and Al Kaline's granddaughter being classmates at Vandy. Strange flashbacks to the final weekend of the 1967 American League pennant race (Yaz-Kaline) and 1978 American League one-game playoff (Yaz-Dent).