"Still sucks. But nice to go a calendar year without losing.''
-- Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, after the Packers' 19-game winning streak was broken Sunday at Kansas City.
"I personally always viewed the undefeated season as really just gravy. The goal is to get the home-field advantage and win the Super Bowl. That's what we discussed as a football team. We were fortunate enough to be in a position to possibly achieve the undefeated season, but we still have the primary goal in front of us and that's to get that home-field advantage.''
-- Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy.
And to have five healthy bodies to line up and block the Bears and Lions the next two weeks.
"Those guys are jokes. They couldn't get a f------ receiver if it hit them in the head. They haven't had any decent receivers since Jimmy Smith.''
-- Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson, to the Florida Times Union after Atlanta's 41-14 rout of the Jags Thursday night, on the quality of receivers acquired by the Jaguars over the years.
The Jags had their top receivers missing due to injury Thursday. The three Jags who played the most at wideout Thursday night -- Jarett Dillard, Chastin West and Taylor Price -- had a combined 35 career catches entering the game. Dillard was a fifth-round pick of the Jags in 2009, West was signed off Green Bay's practice squad earlier this season, and Price was claimed on waivers from New England Dec. 5.
"I hope I am the Tim Tebow of the Iowa caucuses.''
-- Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, at the latest Republican debate last week.
Kyle Orton's home record against the Green Bay Packers as a starting quarterback: 4-0.
Last week, I heard Raiders coach Hue Jackson on with Alex Marvez and Vic Carucci on Sirius NFL Radio, talking about penalties. The Raiders, as usual, are having an abominable year in that department. "It's a problem,'' said Jackson. "I've got to get it fixed. It's embarrassing.'' It's beyond embarrassing. It's a major impediment to winning.
Check out how the Raiders compare to a good team in penalty stats this year. Not coincidentally, the good team in penalty stats is also a really good team:
Most telling to me is that the Raiders have been penalized 376 yards more than the opposition. Think of that in this way: That's 37 lost first downs. This is a field-position game, and the Raiders have handed the opposition a 29-yard edge, on average, by losing the penalty battle.
Last week, Jackson was all over his team. Did his words work Sunday? Not so much. Penalties, plus penalty yards, on Sunday: Oakland 10 for 86 yards, Detroit nine for 72.
One of the best things the players got out of the new CBA last summer was the line item mandating they get 55 percent of all TV revenue through the 10-year deal. Now that the new TV contracts have been signed, we can start to figure out exactly what that is.
Assume that each team employs about 60 players. It's actually slightly more because of practice-squad players, but we'll use 60 because of the financial inequities the practice-squadders bring when you're figuring out average player pay. Now figure that, on average, ESPN and the over-the-air networks and DirecTV will pay about $5.95 billion per year for the rights to games through 2022. (It's actually an escalating scale per year, but that's the average.) And then figure that about 1,920 players per season will get 55 percent of that money.
Average money per player, from the TV contracts alone, over the nine years of the new TV contracts: $1,704,427.
That doesn't include the next Thursday night contract, which the NFL is likely to do with a cable provider like Turner or FX. Let's estimate that at $900 million a year. There's another $257,000 per player.
So that's about $2 million per year per player over the nine years of the new TV deal ... from TV alone.
The Baltimore Ravens, under John Harbaugh, have played seven playoff games, all on the road. If the playoffs opened today, the Ravens would be in line for their eighth.
If the playoff continued with the seeds holding, except for the Ravens, Baltimore would play two more road playoff games in a row. That would mean in four seasons, the Ravens would play 10 playoffs games, all on the road.
So I traveled to New Orleans Monday to report a story for NBC, a bit under the weather after catching something late the previous week. And after having a fine local dinner of red beans and rice, I was headed back to the hotel around 9:45 p.m. with my crew, producer Phil Parrish and production assistant Paige Westin. I was feverish, run down, sapped of energy. I saw a 24-hour medical place when we stopped at a stoplight and said, "Drop me off here. You guys head back. I'll take a cab when I'm done.''
Good soldiers, they said they'd stay with me. Phil went to the front door and saw they were undergoing some renovation, and, lucky for us, the doctor in charge of the place, Dr. Srinivas Kata, was there describing to a construction guy exactly what he wanted done. Phil explained to him he had a sick visitor in the car, a reporter for NBC, and was there any way he could see me?
Sure, Dr. Kata said. "Follow me to my office. It's about 15 minutes away.'' So we went, and Kata opened up another urgent care center. He shook my hand, I thanked him profusely, and he had me fill out some forms.
He met me in an exam room. I told him I needed to be at some higher degree of good health than I was now for a long day on Tuesday, and he said he'd give me two shots that should help me out. Which he did, as well as a prescription for an antibiotic, which he wanted me to take just in case it was a bacterial disease that I had.
Dr. Kata's Indian. He grew up in the D.C.-area, still loves the Redskins and has a 'Skins license-plate border on his Louisiana car tags, though he's lived in New Orleans since the '80s. A fervent fan of New Orleans, he could be a Welcome Wagon host if not a doctor. He kept saying he just wanted to take care of me so I'd be healthy enough to do my job. He refused to take any payment.
"I just want to make sure you're OK and you can go out and enjoy our city and not be sick,'' he said.
"Do you know where this Walgreen's is?'' he said, after he'd phoned in the prescription to the pharmacy. We tried to take down directions, but he was afraid we'd get lost trying to find it. So he told us it wasn't on his way home, but he'd lead us there in his car, then turn around and go home himself.
Then he gave me his card. He wrote his cell number on it. "Call me tomorrow if you don't feel right,'' he said. "I'll take care of it.''
The karma gods, Dr. Kata, are going to look after you for a long, long time. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And New Orleans, thank you.
"Life is like the Baltimore Ravens. you never know what you're gonna get."
-- @GeorgeFoster72, former NFL offensive lineman and current aspiring broadcaster, after the Ravens laid another road egg Sunday night in San Diego.
"Had chat with #Ndamukong Suh as he left O.co Coliseum. Dude was real chilly. Sez he's learned something from all the controversy."
-- @JarrettBell, the USA Today football writer, after working the Lions' victorious postgame locker room. Evidently not everyone in the locker room was all smily.
Tell us more. We want it now.
"When flight attendant said to turn off all electronics, she said she didn't want to have any Alec Baldwins on board. #flightattendanthumor''
-- @paulapasche, Paula Pasche, Lions beat writer for the Oakland Press, before flying to the West Coast Saturday for Lions-Raiders.
So we've hit a couple of tight races -- coach of the year, offensive rookie of the year -- in prior weeks. Now let's go to the muddled race of the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year. Muddled's the perfect word for it too, because I could see myself writing down any of four names when the ballots are due on the morning of Jan. 2, the day after the regular season ends.
1. San Francisco DL Justin Smith. Tireless, relentless leader of the best defense in football today.
2. Baltimore DE Terrell Suggs. Pass-rusher, along with DeMarcus Ware, most capable of taking over a game by himself.
3. Minnesota DE Jared Allen. Chances for eclipsing Strahan's sack record took a blow Sunday when he was shut out by the Saints.
4. Philadelphia DE Jason Babin. Took over the NFL sack lead (18) with an impressive day against the Jets. He needs five sacks against Dallas and Washington to break Strahan's mark.
5. Kansas City LB Tamba Hali. Could have put DeMarcus Ware or Darrelle Revis here easily, but both have slid the last couple of weeks (Ware because of injury). Hali is a rising star 3-4 outside rusher who made life miserable for Aaron Rodgers Sunday.
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