1. I think if you think the New Orleans Saints' signing of three free agent linebackers -- two (Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne) for significant money, with Lofton a middle linebacker -- had nothing to do with the almost certain impending suspension of Jonathan Vilma for his connection to the Saints bounty scandal, you're delusional.
2. I think the Atlanta Falcons aren't surprised about the mess Bobby Petrino has himself in at the University of Arkansas. That's harsh, but just in case you don't remember clearly what happened four and a half years ago with the Falcons, here goes. He signed a five-year, $24 million contract to coach the team in January 2007. Then Michael Vick had his dogfighting scandal and was gone from the team, sentenced to prison late in the season, and Petrino, after 13 games of his first season, left the Falcons on a Monday with three games left in the season. To this day, it's the most immature, classless thing I've seen a coach do in 28 years covering the NFL. He left his assistant coaches in the lurch, and his players, and the owner who hired him, Arthur Blank. In each player's locker when they reported for work the day after he left for Arkansas, Petrino left this note: "Atlanta Falcons players: Out of my respect for you, I am letting you know that, with a heavy heart, I resigned today as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. This decision was not easy, but it was made in the best interest of me and my family. While my desire would have been to finish out what has been a difficult season for us all, circumstances did not allow me to do so. I appreciate your hard work and wish you the best. Sincerely, Bobby Petrino.''
3. I think these are the Petrino words that ring the hollowest: Out of my respect for you. In other words, if I may paraphrase, Out of my respect for you, I am walking away from a valid five-year contract after 11 months, in the middle of a season no less, because the task is hard and I found a sap university that would pay me a sick amount of money. And now that sap university is living with the consequences of handing control and nearly $3 million a year to a married father of four who rides a motorcycle around town -- helmetless -- with an engaged 25-year-old university employee he admits having an inappropriate relationship with. What a tangled web he weaves.
4. I think the NFL needs to send Warren Sapp to the Rookie Symposium this year -- and I'm serious -- to explain how a player at the heights a decade ago could declare bankruptcy today. It's the kind of cautionary tale players can learn from. I can think of only one word for Sapp's story: sad.
5. I think the funniest thing I heard in the last week was Jets owner Woody Johnson saying of the Jets importing Tim Tebow: "I think Mark will have no problem with this.'' All quarterbacks love having a guy come in to take five to 15 snaps per game away from them. It's amazing more teams didn't think of bringing in Tebow, because certainly their quarterbacks would love coming off the field three or four times a game.
6. I think, as much as I'd love to see it, "Hard Knocks'' and the Jets would be a stupid marriage. Not for HBO. For the Jets, if they're serious about winning.
7. I think the 4.6-ish 40-yard dash times of Baylor wideout Kendall Wright from the Scouting Combine, which threatened his status as a top-five wide receiver in the draft, are starting to be put in some perspective. Scouts were surprised at the time because Wright played faster on film -- and teams are seeing that now upon further review. I've seen his times on the official combine sheet, and they're as low as 4.49 and 4.51 seconds, with an average of 4.54 seconds. Not blazing, but not tight end-like, either. From what I'm told, Wright is a legitimate high 4.4-second guy, and it shouldn't crush him on draft weekend. Wright's time is a classic example of overrating what you hear about red flags at the Combine.
8. I think I like how progressive the Jaguars are being under new owner Shad Khan. I like the fact that they're thinking about what they're doing instead of just doing what everyone else in the league does.
9. I think Lions fans are about to get lucky. Mike O'Hara, one of the best correspondents I ever had at Sports Illustrated for NFL coverage, is being hired by the team's website to write about the Leos regularly. What I've always liked about O'Hara is he can be as acerbic as they come when he has to be covering the team (which has been often, obviously), but he's been able to retain his ability to find good stories even when the team's been down. Love the hire by the Lions.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Good for Bubba Watson, who may never have gotten to Butler Cabin in his dreams but who totally deserved to win The Masters.
b. Happy marriage, Jeff Darlington. Jeff's the terrific recent NFL.com and NFL Network hire, and he got married Saturday. Hear it was a lively affair. Good luck, Jeff. You're 31.7 years of wedded bliss behind me.
c. I love The Masters. That's where the stands behind a green are not called "bleachers," according to CBS, but rather "the patron observation platform." Riiiiiightt.
d. Kept watching the tournament Saturday, in part because I can't imagine a more beautiful place (outside of Bryce Canyon) on earth. After having seen it in person last year, I realize it's not just CBS painting an incredible picture with its sightlines. It's true: As far as the eye can see -- incredible lovely.
e. That, people, is the ultimate thing you've got to cross off your sporting bucket list. The Masters. So much fun. In part because they don't sell a zillion tickets. You can watch the tournament, walk from hole to hole, and not be crowded unless you're following the lead group or it's day four and there's only one story that everyone's watching.
f. Peter Hanson can putt.
g. Congrats on the first goal of your NHL career, Stephen (kid brother of Brian) Gionta, to beat Ottawa Saturday in the New Jersey Devils' season finale. And congrats, Ilya Kovalchuk, on your 37-goal season. Knew you had it in you.
h. Devils 48-28-6. Red Wings 48-28-6.
i. Best first-round Stanley Cup series: Philadelphia at Pittsburgh. Second-best: Los Angeles at Vancouver; they split four games this year, with the two Canuck wins by a goal.
j. Congrats on the national title in hockey, Boston College. Heck of a job by your goalie.
k. The greatest thing I heard about the one-and-done Kentucky hero, Anthony Davis, in the aftermath of the Kentucky win is that Davis' high school team won 13 games in his last two years of prep basketball. Who'd he have playing with him? Four Peter Kings? What a player that kid is, and he doesn't have to score to be great.
l. The mark of a great player is being impactful when you're getting more defensive attention than anyone else in your sport. That's what happens to Brittany Griner every game, and she still is the best player in the game, every night.
m. This is why Joe Maddon is so good. In the first two games of the season, Jeff Keppinger and Matt Joyce batted cleanup, and Tampa Bay beat the Yankees twice, scoring 15 runs. Joyce batted ninth in game one. Keppinger batted seventh in game two. Egoless team, chess-pieced well, with a terrific pitching staff (which helps).
n. I really want to see Bully. And I will. But I'm not looking forward to the two weeks of depression that would be sure to follow.
o. Journalism of the week: Excellent job on breaking the Gregg Williams audio story, Mike Silver, and on the interpretation of it that was so important.
p. Red Sox closer ERA: 63.00 (Aceves, Melancon).
q. Orioles, Mets: 6-0. Red Sox, Yankees: 0-6.
r. RIP, one my journalism heroes, Mike Wallace of "60 Minutes."
s. RIP, Blair Kiel. I didn't know him, but those who did say he was a good and decent man. Gone way too soon.
t. Coffeenerdness: Easter morning, Starbucks Italian Roast. Not a better coffee smell in the world than that wafting through the home.
u. Beernerdness: Hate to be boring, but I found a place in North Jersey that sells Allagash White, so that was my beer of choice this week. There aren't many beers I've had that are as good in the bottle as on tap -- and I'd still prefer this one on tap, with a lemon -- but Allagash White is very close.
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