Referee Corrente thrilled by great news in cancer fight; mail
Tony Corrente has turned a corner after great news in his recovery from cancer
Despite Tim Tebow's flaws, Demaryius Thomas' comments were still classless
Drew Brees has been a bargain, now deserves to be paid more than Tom Brady
You may remember the Tony Corrente story from January. The longtime NFL referee did the Saints-Lions playoff game at the Superdome, then immediately went to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for a second round of chemotherapy on tongue and throat cancer. This was serious, folks. So many of you reached out to send good wishes to Corrente, and he appreciated it, and so I reached out to him a couple of times in the last three months, sending regards and telling him how many of you on Twitter and in emails were pulling for his full recovery.
After a major checkup and blood test with his three doctors in Houston this month, Corrente got some good news. Very good. But some history first.
Corrente, quite frankly, wasn't in much of a mood to be communicative for a couple of months. The tumor in his tongue and throat was the size of a male thumb, so much work needed to be done to shrink and eradicate it -- if that could done.
"In late January and through most of February I was so sick dealing with the many side effects of both the chemotherapy and the radiation treatments that my quality of life was very poor,'' Corrente said. "I felt like total crud with blisters from ear to ear on my neck, ulcerated blisters over most of my tongue and the same blistering in my throat. The one thing that kept me going was what my girlfriend, Sarah Schilke, kept telling me. 'All of this is only temporary.' Those words kept my spirits high.''
Obviously, the chemo and radiation had to be severe to have a chance to work. Corrente's throat was so damaged that he couldn't eat. Friends would deliver Ensure Plus and other liquids to help Corrente get through the tough days. There were many of those.
On April 4 and 5, doctors at the Anderson center did blood tests, took a CAT scan of his neck and chest, and the doctors did physical exams of his neck and throat. A camera was sent down his throat to see how the area of the former tumor was doing. The verdict: The first doctor told him he could not find any evidence of the tumor remaining, but he said there was one lymph node that "appeared a bit unusual'' and the team wanted to keep an eye on it. The head of the medical team, Dr. Randall Weber, said because the one lymph node concerned him, he wanted to see Corrente back in Houston in six weeks rather than the normal 12. Corrente, even with the asterisk news of the node, was beyond thrilled.
"I'm not sure that all of this has sunk in yet,'' Corrente said. "Today, I feel like -- no, I know -- I have been granted a second chance at life because of the power of friendship, prayer and the greatest team of doctors you could ever imagine. I will use this second chance to help others achieve their dreams and to live and experience all that I can take in with whatever amount of time I'm fortunate enough to have. This second chance is not going to be spent ideally watching the world go by.''
To have Corrente officiate again would be great; he's one of the best game-controllers I've ever seen. To have him live out a normal life, regardless whether he steps on the field for another game, is now the kind of realistic gift that thrills Corrente and those closest to him.
Now for your email:
YOU'RE MISSING THE POINT. "Love your writing. Tebow got credit for an 80-yard pass to end the Denver-Pittsburgh playoff game. That is how the statistics on passes are kept, and the disconnect between counting the full 80 yards for the pass and still crediting Demaryius Thomas with 62 yards after the catch (so the running yards are credited twice) is besides the point here. Tebow took the snap in the shotgun at his 15, stepped back about 1.5 yards to throw and released from just in front of the Denver 14-yard line. Thomas caught the ball at the Denver 38 and made a great run 62 yards for the score. Tebow did not make an 80-yard pass.
Your excellent discussion of Luck's 75-yard bomb during Stanford's Pro Day that was dropped -- and therefore wasn't a pass at all, according to the statisticians -- shows you recognize the distinction I am making. My question is, why does Luck's incompletion count for him in your mind (because it's on the receiver, which does make sense) but Thomas' run is dismissed as a just the catch of Tebow's 80-yard touchdown pass?
Do you think Tebow could make a 75-yard throw and hit a receiver in stride? On any field, in any weather? I don't understand your exaltation of a QB who averages about 140 yards per game and has a completion percentage in the mid 40s. As Parcells would say, let's not get out the Hall of Fame anointing oil just yet.''
-- From Jonathan, of Los Angeles
Jonathan, thanks for your well-reasoned email. It was one of many messages to me -- tweets too -- that backed Thomas and criticized me for writing that a little gratitude toward Tebow would have been nice. My point had zero to do with how good Tebow is, or crediting Tebow with X yards and Thomas with Y yards. It has to do with Tebow, who delivered the ball that will likely go down in history as the biggest pass play of Thomas' NFL career, however long it lasts, getting dissed by Thomas on his way out the door. That's all.
Regardless how Thomas feels about Tebow, his statement seemed classless to me. And yes -- the touchdown was due more to Thomas' speed and ability to avoid the attempted tackle on the play. But the pass had to be made, and it was made on target, 24 yards through the air as you say.
We'd both agree Tebow is the most inaccurate quarterback in the league. But on this huge play -- at the start of overtime, in a playoff game against a legitimate Super Bowl contender -- Tebow delivered the ball well and Thomas did the rest. Team effort. Why sully it by basically saying he was all but shunned by Tebow the rest of the time?
Here is what the respected Len Pasquarelli wrote in his "Tip Sheet'' column last Friday: "It is borderline disingenuous for Thomas to suggest that Tebow basically ignored him ... Over the final seven games, which included Thomas' monster, four-catch, 204-yard performance in the playoff victory over Pittsburgh, he was a 'target' 65 times, or on nearly 40 percent of Tebow's pass attempts. Those final seven games included three contests in which Thomas was thrown to 10 or more times, including a pair of 13-target games.''
I GUESS SO. "If the kickoff is removed from the game and the ball is spotted at the 20, what happens to the on-sides kick a the end of games? The team with the lead just gets the ball at the 20 and takes a few knees and goes home?''
-- From Marc, of Syosset, N.Y.
That's open to debate, but that would be the most likely scenario -- the receiving team would get the ball at an arbitrary yard line. There's a while to go before the league eliminates the kickoff, though.
ON THE YOUNG QUARTERBACKS. "What are your thoughts on the slowly gaining traction theory that more polished quarterbacks are less likely to see growth in the NFL and end up peaking early and being more like Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez and less like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Cam Newton? Think there is any merit to this? Does that cast any negative light on drafting Luck (extremely polished) over Griffin (lots of growth potential)?''
-- From Joe, of South Bend, Ind.
I don't think there's anything to it. I've never heard of it. There's no way a team is going to look down on a guy like Luck because he's such a ridiculously precocious guy with perhaps the best training for the pro game that a college quarterback has ever had.
A SAINTS FAN SAD ABOUT BREES."I just have to say this whole Drew Brees not reporting to Saints camp is really sad. Of anybody in the league, I thought Drew would be the one to not demand an outrageous deal to remain with a team that he is basically already a legend. But with it being reported he wants $23 million a year, he will be seriously hurting the team's chances of fixing the defense. Usually I understand players going for the top dollar. But with him making his reputation as a team-first, all-about-winning kind of guy, it doesn't seem right. Does he really believe he is worth $5 million a year more than Brady and Manning?''
-- From Davey, of Biloxi, Miss.
First, I'm not sure he's demanding $23 million a year. I think he'd probably sign somewhere in the range of $21 million a year. That doesn't seem outrageous to me. Remember, there are very few times in a top player's career that he has the ability to seek a contract on the open market. Brees had the chance to be a free agent in 2006, and the Saints signed him to a six-year deal for $60 million. You have to admit that at the beginning the Saints were taking a chance on a player with a rebuilt shoulder. But you'd also have to admit that, in the final four or five years of the deal, he was clearly a bargain. So if you'd ask me if a quarterback wanting to be paid $3 million a year more than Tom Brady signed for two years ago is excessive, I'd say no, it isn't.
GOOD QUESTION. "Peter, in your column today, you noted the following statistic: '... There were 1,120 touchbacks in 2011 with the kickoff moved from the 30- to 35-yard-line, as opposed to 416 touchbacks in 2010. ' How do the concussion statistics compare between 2010 and 2011?''
-- From Phil, of Vincent, Ohio
The league said after the season that there had been 190 concussions in 320 preseason and regular season games in 2011, down 28 concussions from 2010. It was attributed to more reporting of concussions in recent years, fewer kickoff returns (meaning fewer head-on collisions common on kickoffs) and the crackdown on vicious helmet-to-helmet hits.
MAYBE YOU KNOW THE NFL'S LEGAL STRATEGY, TOM. "I don't understand how any former or current players could sue the NFL for injuries acquired while playing a game they CHOOSE to play? Nobody forced anyone into that profession so it makes no sense to me. Every player knew the risks, yet CHOSE to become a professional football player rather than work in the field they went to school for.''
-- From Tom Martin, of Janesville, Wis.
Don't think that won't come up in court one day soon, Tom. Could be in the minds of some jurors on those cases too.