1. I think there are three bylaws that need to be passed at these meetings. The trade deadline needs to be moved from Week 6 to Week 8 (actually, it should be Week 13, but any movement is progress). Each team should be able to use one exception to the injured-reserve list, and bring one player per year back from IR after eight weeks. And overtime rules should be uniform all season -- in the regular season and in the playoffs. Those are three fixes that will help the game.
2. I think the league, in the future, should mandate the rules if there's ever an uncapped year. Having an unwritten rule that says teams can't dump contract accelerations into the uncapped year of 2010 is now costing the Redskins $36 million and Dallas $10 million, and whether or not the two teams win their appeals of the sanction, the NFL has to be clearer, with written rules, about what's allowed and what isn't when they write provisions in future CBAs -- if there's ever a provision for an uncapped year or years.
3. I think if I'm a Bengals fan, and I'm trying to analyze what they're doing in free agency, the conclusion I would come to is this: They are plumbing the depths of the lower-middle-class and seeing what, if anything, sticks. Derrick Harvey and Jamaal Anderson are two of the most disappointing highly drafted pass-rushers in recent years. Check out their stat line on profootballfocus.com. In the last two seasons, Anderson and Harvey have combined for eight sacks and 34 pressures in 1,307 combined defensive plays.
Imagine getting drafted in the first round, and barely producing, and there are the Bengals, with a nice soft landing spot. The only saving grace is the money, which is minor.
I'm not crazy about Cincy giving $3 million a year for BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who is not a make-them-miss runner and whose biggest attributes are that he catches the ball well and doesn't fumble. But he's a good, unselfish guy to have on the roster.
4. I think, regarding Jeremy Shockey being accused by Warren Sapp of being the snitch in the Saints bounty scandal: I didn't like it. One: I'm hearing there's a good chance the informant was not Shockey. Two: Given that the bounty system rewarded players for deliberately injuring other players, the informant should be celebrated, not castigated. Throwing stones at someone who outed such a program is like ripping Deep Throat for exposing the crooks in the Nixon White House.
5. I think you can look at Peyton Manning's contract in several ways. If he plays one year and doesn't pass his physical after the 2012 season, the Broncos played the lottery, got Manning for $18 million for one season, and then went in search of their quarterback of the future. If he plays the 2012 season and then passes his physical next winter, Denver is on the hook for a guaranteed $20 million in 2013 and a guaranteed $20 million in 2014. However, even if Manning is hurt in season two and cannot answer the bell in year three, there's an out to that 2013/'14 guarantee: If Manning hurts his neck in the same area where his September 2011 surgery was in the first 10 games of the 2013 season, the 2014 salary is not guaranteed.
What it comes down to is the Broncos need Manning to give the team three mostly injury-free seasons for this contract to be worth it for them. Three years, $58 million for Manning is fair -- if he's Manning of old, or a reasonable facsimile.
6. I think, judging by the well-worn NFL draft choice value chart, I like what Philadelphia got more than Houston in the deal for linebacker DeMeco Ryans, the former centerpiece of the Texans defense. Houston got a fourth-round pick and moved up 12 spots in the third round. That, according to the trade chart, is the equivalent of getting the 86th pick in the draft for Ryans. If Ryans can be a three-year starter in the middle of the defense for Philadelphia, it's a steal for Philly. Of course, the Texans are gambling Ryans, who wasn't a great fit in Houston's 3-4 defense, doesn't have that much good football left.
7. I think I never thought the Saints should have their Super Bowl title vacated because of the bounty scandal. No way, no how. Many of you apparently do. But there's no evidence at any level that the bounties won or lost a game for them.
8. I think I'd love to see Sean Payton work the studio for FOX, or work games, as Judy Battista reported was possible Sunday in the New York Times. There's no head coach who can explain offensive football better than Payton right now, and he's at the fore of so many offensive innovations in the game. He'd be a great one-season hire. I understand the downside -- FOX would be criticized for giving Payton a forum when he's been banned from the NFL for a year. My opinion: What Payton could add in football intelligence would outweigh what he'd subtract in image.
9. I think the coolest matchup of the week last week was Joe Namath, at the behest of Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon, a longtime Namath fan, visiting with the Rays before their game with Miami near Namath's home of Jupiter, Fla.
Namath has lived in Florida for more than 30 years, and before this Rays-Marlins game had never attended a spring training or regular season baseball game in the state. That's one notable note from Namath's day with the Rays.
The other: While in high school in Beaver Falls, Pa., Namath was good enough to be drafted by the Cubs. And his team once played a state playoff game in Forbes Field, right around the time the Pirates were the hot ticket in town for beating the Yankees in the 1960 World Series, four games to three. When Beaver Falls took batting practice before the state playoff game, Namath homered over the fence at the venerable park.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. North Carolina 73, Ohio U. 65, overtime. Imagine your best player (D.J. Cooper) shoots 3 of 20, you get outrebounded by 30, you lose, and the best player on the other team, Tyler Zeller, says after the game, "Ohio played the better game.''
An odd game by my alma mater, but a nobly played one. Proud of the Bobcats. That doesn't mean the end of regulation is something soon forgotten.
I'll remember the missed foul that should have been called on a Cooper drive to the basket, when he got hatcheted in the face in front of the trail ref. The ref called nothing, Cooper fell to the floor and North Carolina got a 5-on-4 and a vital last-minute three-point basket.
I'll also remember Walter Offutt's missed free throw that likely would have been the winning point with 27 seconds left; and Cooper's halfcourt rimmer at the buzzer of regulation.
But that's sports. OU would never have been in this game had it not been for Offutt's great shooting against South Florida in the round of 32 -- and OU would never have been close in this one without Offutt's 26. But as coach John Groce said afterward: "There's nothing I can say to them at this point that's going to take away the sting of getting beat in that one.''
b. I guess this means Groce is a prime candidate for some big job now. He certainly deserves one, but I hope he stays in Athens.
c. This week's sign that journalistic priorities are out of whack or I am a ridiculously old fart: The Denver Post ran an eight-paragraph story on Baylor's win over Florida in the NCAA's women's tournament last week, and six of the paragraphs concerned star Brittany Griner's dunk in the game, which was neither the first of her career or the first in a big NCAA game. I can understand a mention. But six graphs?
d. Wait. I am an old fart. It is official. In a Sunday morning SportsCenter show, ESPN showed 15 replays of the five-day-old dunk. Fifteen. Hey, why not 35? Then ESPN showed six replays of a two-handed dunk Griner did on Saturday.
e. If Fred Wilpon really loved the Mets, he'd sell them.
f. What would possess a man, other than having feelings of hatred or vengeance I suppose, to tweet out another man's cell phone number? I don't get the joke, C.J. Wilson.
g. Are you serious, Pirates? Erik Bedard the opening day starter? Whoa.
h. I feel for Joba Chamberlain. And for those wondering why he'd do such a "hazardous'' thing as be on a trampoline with his 6-year-son, two things: Ever have a child? Ever play with your child? Those are the kinds of things you do with a 6-year-old child. And don't tell me you've ever heard of an accident the type of which Chamberlain suffered on a trampoline. Weird, freaky, one-in-a-million. If you want to call him irresponsible for driving under the influence, fine. If you want to call him irresponsible for jumping on a trampoline on an outing with his son, just stop.
i. My rotisserie team, after last Thursday's draft for our 12-team league in New Jersey, which none of you care about: Buster Posey catching, Adrian Gonzalez at first, Dustin Pedroia at second, Elvis Andrus at short, Chase Headley at third, Michael Bourne, Jayson Werth, Carlos Beltran, Corey Hart in the outfield, David Ortiz as DH/extra hitter, a rotation of James Shields, Ian Kennedy, Brandon Beachy, Shawn Marcum and Max Scherzer, and Jordan Walden, Grant Balfour and Brandon League as the main closers. (Silly rules of the league -- three relievers.) I know, I know. I am trusting Werth to rebound too much. But by the time I picked him, I needed power so much I was desperate.
j. Thanks for the drafting help, Matthew Berry, in between watching the Syracuse game the other night. Interesting preaching by the roto expert: I kept telling him about the run on closers. "Sixteen closers are gone,'' I told him. "I've got to take one.'' He said, Don't worry. You'll find closers you can use. You always will. He was right. Closers in fantasy baseball are made and broken every May. This year I'm counting on Addison Reed of the White Sox to be my midseason ace-in-the-closer-hole.
k. Coffeenerdness: Best $2.05 I spent last week: the medium French Roast at the Caribou Coffee in Terminal B at the Denver Airport. Best French Roast I've had.
l. Beernerdness: Thanks, Colorado Avalanche, for having New Belgium Brewing's Fat Tire on draft at your games. Albert Breer of NFL Network and I were very grateful for your beer-stocking choice last Tuesday at Avs-Flames.
m. Don "Donnie Brasco'' Banks tells me I missed a great show Friday night in Tampa, when Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band finished a three-hour concert with Tenth Avenue Freezeout. I am very jealous, Brasco.
n. RIP, Bert Randolph Sugar, one of the great raconteurs in sports history, and certainly the pre-eminent boxing historian. He died Sunday at 75 of cancer. Too many good people dying. It's depressing. Sugar was a friend to all in the boxing game and the media, and he loved football. A fixture at the NFL Draft every year, he was no one-trick sports pony. He knew every game, and his stories will live on.
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