1. I think, ESPN, that most of America is going to tune into "Monday Night Football'' for your opener Sept. 10 and say, "Who's the idiot who thought 'Monday Night Football' would be better without Ron Jaworski?'' Jaworski is without question one of the five best analysts doing NFL games. And now he's not doing NFL games. Great! Throw another log on the fire of the studio shows! Add the 942nd analyst!
2. I think I'm stunned, shocked and dismayed -- and whatever you can say that's stronger than that -- to see an ESPN headline about Jeremy Lin on Saturday with the word "chink'' in it. I don't understand how a thinking person, regardless of age or professional status, could think, "Hey, it'd be cute to use the word 'chink' in a headline with a Jeremy Lin/Knicks story.'' ESPN was smart to fire the offending editor.
3. I think I didn't expect the locals in Minnesota to take two months to do a stadium deal when I said it would get done near regular season's end, but now it finally is on the verge of being announced. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports there's a tentative deal for a $975 million stadium downtown (the Vikings had wanted the stadium at a suburban site with more space that would cost slightly less); local politicians, mostly, wanted the stadium downtown to offset the loss of the Metrodome. The Wilf family, owners of the team, will contribute $427 million, with the rest being split by the city and state. No civic group wants to pay for a stadium these days, but the state of Minnesota set precedents with financial aid for the Twins and the University of Minnesota's football stadium, so the pols had to come through for the Vikings as well or face the serious risk of Los Angeles stealing the team. So the Vikings are going nowhere, and that's good news for the franchise and very good news for the NFL.
4. I think Cliff Avril is the 6,781st NFL player to say what he said last week -- that he may hold out from training camp if the Lions tag him with the franchise designation this year. Cliff: You know that 10-year deal you rubber-stamped last July, the one the players agreed to with the owners? The franchise tag thing is in that. What, you didn't know it was possible to be an emerging star and the Lions would give you a one-year deal at the average of the top five defensive ends in football, $10.6 million? You're not getting a lot of sympathy from anyone, complaining about that deal, in the first place; in the second place, it's been a part of the football landscape for two decades. If you hated it so much, you should have pushed your player reps to fight harder to rid the game of it.
5. I think if you want to sign Randy Moss, that's fine. But know three things: He's 35. Players in football very rarely revert to their 30-year-old form at 35, and after taking a year off. And the last time he played, three teams gave up on him in the span of three months: New England, Minnesota and Tennessee. Seems to me people need to stop trying to recreate the past and instead focus on producing a good receiver from the draft or free agency.
6. I think that the best free agent receiver just might be Vincent Jackson. I'd spend big on Jackson, a little less than big on Brandon Lloyd.
7. I think the best lesson in that Randy Moss story came from the Giants this year. When Steve Smith and Kevin Boss were walking out the door (and the Giants, at the right price, wanted both back) for Philadelphia and Oakland last summer, GM Jerry Reese thought New York would be good enough at receiver and tight end. He could never have known how good. But give Reese credit. Victor Cruz/Jakes Ballard: 131 receptions, 2,055 yards, 13 touchdowns. Steve Smith/Kevin Boss: 39 receptions, 492 yards, four touchdowns. The game's not won in the offseason. Just ask Daniel Snyder.
8. I think Larry Felser, the retiring sports columnist of the Buffalo News, deserves a few words of praise this morning. Felser retired for good last week at 78 -- he'd been a semi-regular columnist for the News after stepping away several years ago -- and he left a trail of honorable reporting in his wake. Larry and Jerry Magee of San Diego and Will McDonough of The Boston Globe and Edwin Pope of the Miami Herald were the stalwart AFL reporters I will always remember when I began covering the league in 1984. And when I began voting on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee 20 years ago, Felser and McDonough were the two most welcoming vets to me. I used to listen to their arguments, and Paul Zimmerman's, and learn from them so I wouldn't sound stupid when I started opening my mouth a couple of years into the process. I have to say I got some of my reverence for pro football history from Felser, from his tales of intrigue and fun covering the AFL in its birth years. It's always sad when a voice like Felser's is silenced. Not only the people of Western New York will miss his reporting and yarns. Everyone who loves football will.
9. I'll be at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this weekend, and will be having a Tweetup Friday at 6 p.m. at the Sun King Brewery in Indy. Look forward to seeing you all with your draft and free agency questions.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Was that Spike Lee with a Jeremy Lin Harvard replica jersey Sunday at Madison Square Garden? Wow! That guy has some serious friends in high places to be able to pull that one off.
b. I repeat: I know nothing about the NBA. But this Lin story is so terrific, and that win Sunday over the defending champ Mavericks was so terrific, and Lin's game so complete (28 points, 14 assists, three 3-pointers) that it's settled. I've just got to start watching the New York Knickerbockers.
c. Lin appeals to so many factions in our society. The underdog faction ... because he went to Harvard, was cut by two teams, was in the minor leagues and, when he exploded in New York, was apparently on the verge of getting cut again. The minority faction ... because so few Chinese and Taiwanese kids have become very good NBA players, obviously. The team faction ... and I honestly think this is the biggest reason. Every time Lin opens his mouth, he talks about "team.'' When he was asked about playing the D-League, he said he hated it because it wasn't about trying to put the best team on the floor to win games; it was about guys getting the best stats they could get. Lin just wants to win. This is why coaches in all sports, all over America, can hold up Lin to their players and say, "See? It's not just about making top plays on 'SportsCenter.' It's about winning, and doing whatever you can to win, first and foremost.''
d. Great job with your cover story in SI this week, Pablo Torre, telling America lots it didn't know about Lin ... Amazing in this day and age that in college, in the Ivy League, for crying out loud, Lin got peppered with slurs like "chink'' and "sweet and sour pork!'' on the road.
e. Kudos, St. John's women, for ending the UConn home winning streak at 99 games. Great achievement.
f. Kudos, Wall Street Journal, for a front-page read the other day on a bacon festival in Iowa on Saturday, a party that sold 4,000 tickets in 25 minutes. But as Jeannette Neumann reported, the organizers of the event were ready "for a bit of oinking from outsiders.'' Vegetarian doctors from Iowa worried about the long-term effects of eating bacon were out to promote the unhealthy side of bacon, though it probably wasn't doing much good. One of the lectures at the event was: "How bacon is changing my life.''
g. Resistance is Futile Dept.: Jack in the Box, the West Coast fast-food chain, is still selling the bacon milkshake.
h. Coffeenerdness: The winner of the King family espresso machine competition is Breville. We broke down and bought one in the city the other day, and after experimenting this week, I'll let you know whether I'm going to become an at-home latte guy most of the time. (Be still, journalistic hearts.)
i. Beernerdness: I don't know how I missed this in the last three years, but I had my first Berkshire Brewing Steel Rail Pale Ale the other day, and it won't be my last. Classic bronze color, malty, not overwhelming in bitterness but just the right hoppy flavor for an ale.
j. This political season is going to be so depressing. It's all I can do to not make a fool of myself commenting on it. I wish you'd let me.
k. Not a big fan of the Pekingese winning Best in Show at Westminster. The Dalmatian or German Shepherd would have been my choice.
l. So Josh Beckett on Sunday talked about "lapses in judgment'' in his clubhouse behavior in 2011. Why, oh why, oh why, can't he come clean and say, "I was wrong to drink beer in the clubhouse during games.'' If that's what happened -- and with no one ever denying it, it's hard to imagine it didn't happen -- a full apology to the fans is what's needed from the Red Sox and the offending players. Based on what I've heard in the last few months, and over the weekend, that apology is never coming. Sad. Just sad.
m. Thanks, Tim Wakefield.
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