1. I think 49ers quarterback Alex Smith is my Hero of the Week for showing up with food and drink for some of the hundreds of volunteers in northern California who were searching for missing teen Sierra LaMar. Smith didn't just distribute the food -- he also fanned out with one of the search parties and helped look for the girl, missing since March 16.
2. I think I'm borderline apoplectic if I'm FOX. Three times in the span of five regular-season weeks -- Weeks 14 and 17 in 2011, and Week 1 in 2012 -- the NFL chose to air Giants-Cowboys not on the NFC network for games, which is FOX, but on NBC.
3. I think Phil Mushnick of the New York Post had a great note about the Giants-Cowboys rivalry: The last time the game was played at 1 p.m. on a Sunday (or noon, Dallas time) was in 2004 ... 16 regular-season meetings ago.
4. I think you'll probably recall me writing about veteran NFL referee Tony Corrente three months ago, after he did the New Orleans-Detroit playoff game, then went immediately to Houston to be treated for tongue and throat cancer. He went through a debilitating regimen at a cancer center there, and this week he returns for a checkup. At last week's NFL meetings, Corrente was on the minds of many league coaches and executives, all of whom are wishing for the best when doctors examine him this week. Send some good karma Corrente's way, or say a prayer. Thanks.
5. I think the reason Greg Cosell is so good analyzing the NFL -- whether on talk shows, TV, writing or Twitter -- is he often makes you think. As with this tweet over the weekend about the value of running backs: "No question lot of late rd/FA RB have been successful. Inarguable. Question then becomes where do you draft a RB, regardless of talent?''
In other words, is Trent Richardson at four too high? Is Richardson at 34 too high? Cosell makes you think, and that's a good thing.
6. I think the NFL lost a good man Thursday -- longtime head athletic trainer George Anderson of the Raiders. He was 83, and died of Parkinson's Disease and diabetes. He finished his training career in Green Bay, but was best known for an invention that helps players get back on the field sooner than they would have in past generations: the Anderson Knee Stabilizer.
The device protects the knee by shifting the effects of hits to the side of the knee to areas above and below the knee. The device was first used by Ken Stabler when he suffered a knee injury in 1977, and it continues to be used by players today -- particularly offensive linemen, many of whom say they can move freely without fear of further damage to the knee while wearing the brace.
Anderson was quasi-adopted by trainer Pepper Burress with the Packers after being dismissed by Al Davis in the mid-90s, and worked as a volunteer trainer for the Packers in their late-90s glory years. This is incredible: Anderson, in nearly four decades in the game, worked in 15 league or conference championship games with the Raiders and Packers. He was one of the legends in the business.
7. I think the biggest injury of the offseason -- and I'll be surprised if there's a bigger one before August -- is the Eagles losing Jason Peters to an Achilles tear last week while he was working out in Texas. Peters will have surgery to repair the Achilles on Tuesday, and though there's a long shot he could return late this season, I think a left tackle who needs quickness and must put so much pressure on his foot, ankle and Achilles would be very hard-pressed to be playing quality football before 2013 dawns.
It makes sense for Philly to sign Demetrius Bell, the former Bill, who has played adequately at left tackle but not great. After playing a full season in 2010, he missed nine games due to injury last year. The Eagles could stay at 15 and pick up a good tackle, like Iowa's feisty Riley Reiff, but it'd be a stretch to think Reiff could play tackle better by opening day in the NFL than, say, the newly signed backup, King Dunlap.
8. I think it's crazy talk that Indianapolis won't draft Andrew Luck, and my viewpoint has nothing to do with Robert Griffin III's ability. It's just that Jim Irsay loves Luck, has talked openly of drafting him, and will have the final say on which player Indianapolis picks. Irsay has his heart set on Luck. I'd be very surprised if Griffin has passed Luck in the eyes of anyone who counts in Indianapolis.
9. I think Brandon Jacobs is a nice pickup for the 49ers -- if he runs hard. He tried to be a make-you-miss back too often with the Giants. Maybe Jim Harbaugh can explain to him that the biggest running back in the NFL should be smashing into people, not trying to avoid them.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. I'll miss you, Joe Posnanski. Good luck in the new venture. Whatever it is, it'll be a home run.
b. I'll put the over-under at 11 years for one of the three Mega Millions lottery winners from Friday night to be broke and say, "I wish I had never won. All it did was ruin my life.''
c. Are you seriously telling me Danny Ainge tried to trade Rajon Rondo? What a ballplayer. Rondo being Rondo is the only way the Celtics have a chance in the playoffs. What a performance Sunday against the Heat.
d. I have tremendous admiration for Notre Dame's women's basketball team. Drilling three straight threes in overtime to beat UConn? That's the mark of a great team -- one that will have its hands full with Brittney Griner and undefeated Baylor in Tuesday night's national championship game.
e. Now the officiating in the UConn-Notre Dame semifinal ... not so good.
f. The problem with the women's game, to me, is that all four top seeds made it to the Final Four. Women's basketball needs a George Mason or Butler to happen. It's not March Madness in women's basketball. It's March Regularity.
g. You know what's strange? The worst two teams in the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League are Montreal (73 points) and Toronto (tied with the Isles, 77 points). How can Montreal and Toronto be so bad? Original six. Hotbeds of hockey. There's only one team, Columbus, with fewer wins than Montreal.
h. Rick Pitino was classy, at least, in saying for once Louisville would be rooting for Kentucky to win the national title.
i. You'd think the coaches in this tournament would say to their players, after the first two times there were lane violations on game-deciding free throws, "Remember: You can't rush for the rebound until the ball hits the rim.''
j. Coffeenerdness: I've got to hand it to the folks at the Starbucks on Okeechobee in West Palm Beach. (Or is it Palm Beach? I always get the borders of the two municipalities mixed up, except when I'm within a quarter mile of The Breakers, which is a far more luxurious a place than I ever deserve to step foot in.) Terrific baristas at that Starbucks, friendly, lots of power outlets, good place to write, nice little patio outside to write at too.
k. Beernerdness: As long as we've talked about Jimmy Buffett in this column, I raised a couple of cups of LandShark Lager while in Florida. It could have a little more taste, but it's better than Bud.
l. I'm getting addicted to Brian Williams and NBC Nightly News. Very understandable for a football lunkhead like me, and Williams knows what a story is.
m. TV feature of the week: Scott Pelley's 60 Minutes story Sunday night on Brevard County, Fla., where 7,000 Americans lost their jobs when the Space Shuttle program was scrubbed. Raw emotion from the workers and utter devastation to the community is what the piece was. Pelley told the story perfectly.
n. Radio feature of the week: Scott Simon on NPR Saturday morning with Yogi Berra and Ron Guidry, talking about their very close friendship forged in the last few Yankee training camps, a relationship documented in Harvey Araton's new book, Driving Mr. Yogi. You can be sure, based on what I know of the story and the affection I heard from both men in this radio interview, that Driving Mr. Yogi will be on my Father's Day book list.
o. Reporter of the week: I'm late on this, a week late. But it goes to Chris Mortensen for his reporting during the Peyton Manning story. I know Mortensen got criticized because his agents happen to be Creative Artists Agency, the same as Manning, and it gave him an unfair advantage in Manning reporting. I can tell you that's not true.
Manning wasn't talking to Mortensen multiple times on many days during the process because they are represented by the same conglomerate. Manning talked to Mortensen because he trusted him, and because for the past 15 years, Mortensen has taken four or five days every summer and spent them at the Manning family's Manning Passing Academy. Those are the kinds of relationships that pay off one day in this business, and they paid off in this case with Mortensen getting the edge on so many parts of the story.
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