"My rock and anchor continue to be my Christian faith. I'm banking on these years being like grains of sand on the beach. I'm looking to eternity to see my wonderful family again.''
-- Terminally ill former CNN Sports anchor and HBO and Showtime boxing announcer Nick Charles, in an email to me Thursday night.
We worked together for a spell at CNN, and what a gentleman he was. Is. Charles is in decline from bladder and lung cancer, and his emotional, grateful-about-every-last-minute-he-has email stopped me in my tracks.
May you have peace with your family, Nick. So many people I encounter are touched by your story and your bravery. Here's a piece from CNN's Sanjay Gupta after a visit to New Mexico to see Charles.
"I can still throw the ball as well as I ever have. No question about that. But I don't want to put my body through that anymore. I've been beat up enough.''
-- Brett Favre, 41, at a football camp in Hattiesburg, Miss.
OK. Don't anyone start the rumors. Just don't.
"He can do almost anything he wants. He doesn't want to do anything. To me, that's the issue. He's one of those you walk into a meeting and tell him, 'Put the phone down.' The next day you have to tell him to put down the phone. The next day you tell him to put down the phone. It doesn't stick. It's an everyday thing.''
-- Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, to ESPN 101 radio in St. Louis, on the headache that is coaching Albert Haynesworth.
"This singing comic book is no longer the ungodly, indecipherable mess it was in February. It's just a bore.''
-- Ben Brantley of the New York Times, after watching the first performance on Broadway of "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark'' after some 180 preview performances to work out the kinks. Mr. Brantley, from the looks of his review, believes the play is one large kink. And I don't mean Ray Davies.
The five reasons Bob McNair and the Houston Texans must go after Nnamdi Asomugha, and must go after him hard, whenever free agency opens:
1. Houston allowed a league-high 4,499 yards passing last year.
2. Houston allowed a ridiculous 8.22 yards per pass attempt. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, combined, averaged 8.03.
3. Glover Quin and Kareem Jackson, the nominal starting corners, have five interceptions in 44 career games between them. The interception is a shaky and fairly meaningless stat, but suffice it to say that neither Quin nor Jackson is a shutdown corner. The Texans allowed foes to complete 64.7 percent of their throws last year, four percentage points worse than the secondary-challenged Browns.
4. A team with Mario Williams and Brian Cushing pressuring the pocket should not be sacking the quarterback an average of 1.9 times a game, which Houston did last year. Wade Phillips, with his pressure packages in the new 3-4, is going to need better coverage in the back end. Asomugha and Revis are the best cover corners in football, and Asomugha is the rarest of the rare -- a truly top cornerback, available for no compensation except money. It's going to be a big paycheck, but it doesn't cost a draft choice or a player.
5. Bob McNair paid $700 million for the Texans and chipped in much of the $425 million it cost to build Reliant Stadium for the team to play in. The one thing standing in the way of being truly competitive at a high NFL level is a significant upgrade on defense. Since the dawn of free agency, only one player, Reggie White, has been a better prize on the free-agent market than Asomugha. You cannot tell me that he wouldn't be worth $18 million a year to employ. I will not buy it.
My Boston urologist, Tony Luongo, is Roberto Luongo's cousin. That leads me to a few hockey factoids.
The moral of the Stanley Cup story, to me, was the Canucks were vastly overrated.
Vancouver was 12-10 in its last 22 playoff games .... Outscored 64-49 in those 22 games. Outscored 17-7 in the final four games of the first round against Chicago. The Bruins outscored them by 15 goals in a seven-game series. How does a team with the league's highest-paid goalie, Luongo, allow 21 goals in the Bruins' four wins in the series?
After the first 10 minutes of the first game of the finals, I just never saw the free-skating, fast, crisp-passing team I'd been hearing about throughout the playoffs. And the Sedins. I'm not going to call them names, but they came up smaller than LeBron when it counted in this series. In the final five games of the finals, when the game was on the line (the score within a two-goal margin), here was the Sedin twins' stat line: zero goals, zero assists, zero points.
Five Things I'm Not Looking Forward to on Vacation (Travel Section):
1. The middle seat in coach. It's going to happen sometime. But if I never have to sit in the middle seat in coach again, I'd be overjoyed. And on redeye flights ...
2. The summer airport security lines, when families wait in line for 35 minutes, get to the TSA gatekeeper and stare at him/her. "ID and boarding pass?'' the TSA person will say, and then the head of the family will rummage through some bag to find both. You mean you've been in a line for 35 minutes and watched how the drill works and you get to the front of the line and you're stunned to learn you have to provide tickets and IDs for every non-child in the group?
3. The $73 tank of gas.
4. Seeing seriously overweight 55-year-old women (and men for that matter) in airports with those barbed-wire tattoos encircling their ankles. That has to be one of the weirdest things to see. Saw one middle-aged woman with a fresh-inked one walking through the Atlanta airport recently and thought, You're kidding me, right?
5. Having pangs of conscience when the labor deal gets worked out and I'm into my fourth Harpoon summer beer (in the flashy yellow can), and saying, "Should I really go and bat out a reaction column right now?''
Five Things I'm Looking Forward to Doing:
1. Beating back said pangs of conscience and not working when the new labor deal happens.
2. Doing more of nothing, except walking and seeing a different world, in Trieste, Italy.
3. Finishing the Thursday New York Times crossword once. On my own, I never have.
4. Eating the scrambled eggs with cheese and the raisin toast at a Waffle House, somewhere in the United States. Now that's the all-American meal right there.
"I hope owners n players really hate this new CBA, with a passion, when we're done..then Fans r happy n the media will chirp n heroes crowned!''
--@JimIrsay, the Indianapolis owner and resident ownership loose cannon, Saturday afternoon. I don't know what this means, but I think his point is that the fairest deal will be one that makes everyone unhappy.
"Vancouver please stop burning s---. We're a great city and have a lot of class. Our team is great and a championship will come. Soon.''
-- @SteveNash, the Victoria native and the basketball player, as hoodlums ran roughshod over the city after the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to Boston.
"Overrated n soft 3rd best d-line on his team honestly.''
-- @CutonDime25, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, criticizing Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora after it was reveled last week that Umenyiora accused Giants GM Jerry Reese of not following through on a promise to re-do his contract.
Umenyiora, in one of the great non-sequitur rips of recent NFL history, then called McCoy "Lady Gaga'' in response.