1. I think I have no idea what it means when New Orleans quarterback and union executive board member Drew Brees, in a statement about the Saints' bounty program the NFL says took place, says: "I did not participate in any bounty program, nor did I have any knowledge relating to its real existence.''
First of all, no offensive player is alleged by the NFL to have taken part in the bounty thing. Secondly: What is the "real'' existence of something? Does that mean you knew something about it vaguely, or have some knowledge but not full knowledge of the inner workings of the program, or that you knew nothing of it at all?
I will say what I believe league investigators are thinking, regardless of the definition of "real'' here: that every player on that Super Bowl team, and the coach and general manager, knew something of what was going on in the defensive team meetings on Saturday nights.
2. I think the news that the NFL is on the verge of making a decision in the Saints case is a sign that Roger Goodell was fairly sure what he wanted to do when he announced the findings of the league's investigation 10 days ago. It's likely he's conferred with some owners on the sanctions, and with NFLPA czar De Smith, and just wanted to have some time to mull over what will surely be the biggest disciplinary case of his six years in office. Actually, it's likely to be the biggest disciplinary case he'll ever adjudicate.
3. I think Josh Morgan is going to make some team very, very happy in free agency -- and I hear the Niners are making a late push to keep him off the market. They should. Before he missed the final 11 games of 2011 with an October ankle fracture, Morgan had a chance to be a star in Jim Harbaugh's offense.
4. I think Pittsburgh wide receiver Mike Wallace is one of the best bargains ever in restricted free agency history. Remember this about the Steelers: They've cut to the bone on the cap already. Wallace is down to make $2.74 million on a one-year deal in 2012. And staring the Steelers in the face next season is another restricted free agent the Steelers like very much -- wideout Antonio Brown. Let's say one of the teams low in the first round with some cap flexibility and a receiver need -- San Francisco, New England -- makes Wallace a front-loaded offer with a big 2012 cap number. I could see the Steelers letting Wallace go and taking the first-round pick as compensation.
5. I think one of the oddest things about this free-agency season is how Donovan McNabb's stock has plummeted to the point where you don't even hear of him. Nothing. Just 23 months ago, the Redskins traded second- and fourth-round picks to Philadelphia for McNabb. He was just OK in 13 starts in Washington, and a little worse than that in six starts in Minnesota (6-13 overall, with 18 touchdowns and 17 picks in those two stops). He's healthy, and he's 35, and I don't hear anything about any team wanting him. It's almost like he's gone from being Hewlett-Packard in 2009 to a penny stock today.
6. I think I think, on some journalism notes, some major congrats are in order. Kudos to Chris Mortensen for being out front on so many things Peyton Manning ... and to Jay Glazer for breaking the Robert Griffin III trade story Friday night ... and to Adam Schefter for reporting the Colts are trying to trade Dwight Freeney ... and to Mike Klis of the Denver Post for a chock-full Sunday evening update on the Manning chase, including that Manning turned down the chance to visit Seattle and Kansas City, both of whom were very interested in him ... and to Mike Wise of the Washington Post for some very good writing on deadline in his trade analysis column Friday night/Saturday morning, and what the deal means to Washington and to coach Mike Shanahan and GM Bruce Allen. Because if you got the Post's final edition Saturday morning in the District, you got to read this line from Wise: "His initials might as well stand for Riverboat Gambler, because that's what he represents to Shanahan."
7. I think there's been some confusion on the compensation the Redskins paid the Rams for the second pick in the draft, at least according to the Twitter world. Dozens of you, and some emailers too, have said, Wait a minute. The Redskins didn't trade three first-round picks and a two for Robert Griffin III. They traded two firsts, then swapped positions with this year's first-rounders with the Rams. In a way, it's all semantics. But it's much more accurate, and truthful, to say Washington traded four picks for one pick. If we described it as three picks for Griffin and a swap of ones this year, that diminishes the importance of this little swap of picks this year.
In the NFL today, trading up from six to two in the first round cannot be dismissed as simply "swapping spots" as though it's a minor part of the deal. On the draft trade value chart, which all teams use (though its importance has been lessened because the cost of high picks is so much more affordable now with the new rookie wage scale), the difference between the sixth and second overall picks is 1,000 points, the equivalent of the 16th overall pick in the draft.
8. I think I'm glad for Griffin's sake that he is a man who plays well under pressure -- and seems to thrive on it. Washington will be full of that pressure. I'll never forget in 1988, when, while at Newsday, I interviewed for a job covering the Redskins for the Washington Post. Before I left, I got to spend a few minutes with the esteemed executive editor of the paper, Ben Bradlee, and I was more nervous with the man who oversaw the Watergate investigation at the Post than I'd ever been for any interview with an athlete. "This beat,'' he said to me, "is as important at our paper as the Supreme Court to many people.'' Whoa. I ended up not taking the job, but I'll always remember that. If the pressure is like that for the person who covers the team, imagine what it's like for the man who quarterbacks it.
9. I think, for you Browns fans -- and journalism fans -- here's the latest on former Plain Dealer beat man and columnist Tony Grossi, who was taken off the beat when a tweet critical of owner Randy Lerner was made public: Grossi starts today as a Browns analyst at ESPNCleveland, with web writing and appearances on the local affiliate, WKNR. He'll continue to cover the team, travel to the games and cover the league.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Way to go, Ohio Bobcats. Congratulations on winning the MAC -- and congrats to you, D.J. Cooper (have you been in Athens forever, or is it just my imagination?) for your 23-point night in the MAC win over those Akron Zips.
b. My favorite final four in any college basketball conference tournament, ever, came over the weekend in Chicago. The four participants in the Great West Conference semifinals: the New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders, of Newark, N.J.; the North Dakota Fighting Sioux, of Grand Forks, N.D.; the Utah Valley Wolverines, of Orem, Utah; and the University of Texas-Pan American Broncs of Edinburg. They came from the East, North, West and South of the United States and met in the Midwest. In the title game, the 17-15 North Dakotans met the 15-16 New Jerseyans, and the Fighting Sioux came out on top.
c. Favorite upcoming NCAA matchup: Harvard versus Vanderbilt, in Albuquerque, in Harvard's first NCAA Tournament game in 66 years.
d. (No Really My) Favorite upcoming NCAA matchup: Ohio U. versus Michigan, in Nashville. All you Buckeyes (and I'm talking to you, Albert Breer and Rich Eisen) who think Ohio State and Michigan in November is The Game, well, this tilt Friday night obviously dwarfs the other one. Watch out for D.J. Cooper, Wolverines. When the junior guard was a freshman, he had 23 in OU's 97-83 upset of Georgetown. What could Eisen, Mr. Michigan, and I bet on this game? Tweet me your ideas @SI_PeterKing. You too, Rich.
e. Favorite NIT matchup: Northern Iowa at St. Joseph's, Wednesday. The pageantry.
f. Favorite College Insider.com Tournament: Kent State at South Carolina-Upstate, Thursday. The intensity of that rivalry.
g. Favorite College Basketball Invitational matchup: Quinnipiac at Penn, Wednesday. Bet you didn't know Quinnipiac, in Hamden, Conn., sits in the shadow of Sleeping Giants State Park.
h. Look at you, you St. Louis Blues. Leading the NHL with 97 points. One loss all season, in 16 games, to teams from the Eastern Conference. Great job.
i. On, you mighty Devils. I'd never have guessed with 10 games left in the regular season they'd have more points than Boston and Chicago.
j. Quiz answer: Cleveland reliever Frank Herrmann, from Montclair Kimberley (N.J.) Academy and Harvard.
k. Coffeenerdness: I underrate Illy espresso. Consistently, when I have it at a good coffee shop, as I did with a triple latte Sunday morning in Phoenix, Illy never disappoints. Intense taste. No bitterness.
l. Beernerdness: In two of the three Arizona ballparks we visited over the weekend, Pyramid Hefeweizen was served -- on tap at the White Sox park and by the bottle at Cleveland's park. It's a relatively mild but distinctive unfiltered wheat beer, easy to drink and perfect for a sunny day at the park. I should do a commercial for it.
m. Great tweet from my buddy Jon Heyman about the 2012 Red Sox: Two things I learned at red sox camp the other day: bobby valentine likes adela, and he really likes alfredo aceves.''
n. I mean, Adele's OK. But Aceves, now there's greatness.