-- San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith, asked his general feelings after losing the NFC title game.
"To let Ray Lewis down -- you don't know how many games he has left -- is pretty tough."
-- Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff.
"All people suffer loss. When you lose someone, it's part of life, but you have to be resilient. You have to take the bad things and difficult times and turn them into good, and that's what we will do. And we'll do it with the Miami Dolphin family."
-- Diane Philbin, wife of new Miami coach Joe Philbin, as the Dolphins named Philbin the 10th coach in club history on Saturday, eight days after the Philbin family laid one of their six children, Michael, to rest after he drowned in Wisconsin.
"Let's go win a Super Bowl."
-- Steve Spagnuolo's first words to New Orleans coach Sean Payton, before "Hello'' or "Hi Sean, this is Steve,'' when Spagnuolo called Payton Thursday afternoon to tell him he was taking the Saints defensive coordinator position.
Running back LaDainian Tomlinson, to Showtime, about the atmosphere fostered by Jets coach Rex Ryan and GM Mike Tannenbaum, and the feud between quarterback Mark Sanchez and wideout Santonio Holmes:
-- "I've been around some locker rooms and quarterback-receiver situations and what-not, but it was as bad as I've been around. I think the players could no longer do anything about it.''
-- "[The Jets organization) created this. This is the type of football team that they wanted. Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan are both brash, in-your-face, say-whatever-you-want, just-get-it-done-on-the-field style. And then it leads to other things, as guys are calling each other out and saying I'm not getting the ball or whatever it may be.''
-- "I would say [Sanchez] is a bit pampered because he has no competition.''
Owner Woody Johnson, to Jets beat reporters, on many things, including cooking and toxicity:
-- "Confidence is a very, very important thing in cooking and also in managing quarterbacks. How many starting quarterbacks are pulled?''
-- "I don't feel a toxicity of the locker room. Would you love to have total harmony? Maybe. But maybe it's good to have a little disharmony too.''
-- "Do we overprotect Mark, or coddle? I don't think we do. He's obviously a critical part of the team, so you spend more time with him. Is that coddling? I don't know.''
Asked if Sanchez would be the 2012 opening-day starter, Johnson said: "Barring whatever, yes.''
Rex Ryan, to WFAN:
-- "Clearly, when you have a team that went to back-to-back championship games, what else is there to go for? It's Super Bowl or bust. Well, we busted."
-- "What I tried to do initially is put things on me, on my back. If it doesn't work, it comes down on me, it doesn't come down on our players. I tried to take pressure off of our players, but in actuality, maybe I was putting more pressure on our guys.''
-- "Let's face it: The only thing I do well in my life is coach football.''
-- "I think we need to take a hard look at each other.''
On the weekend, their mouths rested.
Super Bowl 46 will feature the third quarterback rematch in history. And history will be on the side of Eli Manning in 13 days:
When Joe Philbin did his post-graduate high school academic year at Worcester (Mass.) Academy in 1979-80, the two English teachers at the small school 35 minutes west of Boston doubled as assistant coaches on the school's football team: Kirk Ferentz and Mike Sherman.
Ferentz, the future coach at Iowa. Sherman, the future coach of Brett Favre with the Packers.
I flew from JFK to San Francisco Thursday on a mid-morning Delta flight. The flight wasn't packed, and I'd arranged for a bulkhead window seat midway through coach of the long aircraft -- three seats to the right and left of the aisle.
When I approached my row, a 35ish man was sitting in the aisle seat with headphones on, reading Harper's. The other two seats were devoid of people, but not of crap. In the middle seat was a McDonalds bag, crumpled, with an empty drink poking out of the top, with three used red blankets left on the seat. Another blanket with discarded newspapers was on the window seat I was to occupy. On the floor was a plastic bag with a water bottle, empty, and other garbage, along with another blanket. I surveyed the situation. The guy in the aisle seat took off his headphones and said, "Guess they didn't clean the plane.''
"Yup,'' I said. He put his headphones back on and read, and I took the two bags of trash, plus the newspapers, into the bathroom and shoved them into the garbage hole. Then I took the blankets and deposited them under a row of seats.
So now we don't get meals on the 6-hour, 40-minute coast-to-coast trips. We pay for the bags we check, in most instances. And now, evidently, we have to bus the planes ourselves.
"Florida Evans > Lee Evans.''
-- @GeorgeFoster72, the former NFL offensive lineman, comparing the longtime Good Times leading lady with the Ravens receiver who had the potential winning touchdown pass stripped from his grasp in the end zone in the AFC title game.
"Overheard from a Giants fan at the SF Wharf: 'Is there literally a Golden Gate?' ''
-- @StevePoliti, sports columnist for the Newark Star-Ledger, on Saturday in San Francisco.
"I know he can shoot in the 60s, a matter of shooting them when it counts.''
-- @TigerWoods, on the possibility of his friend Tony Romo qualifying for the U.S. Open.
"Happy 72nd birthday to @JackNicklaus. Fifty years ago, he earned his first check as a pro: $33.33 at the L.A. Open.''
-- GD_MikeO, Golf Digest executive editor Mike O'Malley ... an ode to Jack on Saturday.
Patrick Kane scores game-winner in OT to lead Blackhawks past Blues
Stars recover from slow start, beat Ducks to tie up series