"Somehow this has got to be stopped. It's destroying people's lives.''
-- Mary Ann Easterling, widow of former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling, who committed suicide Friday. Easterling was part of one of the many lawsuits from more than 1,000 former NFL players who claim the league didn't do enough to help players who suffered from football-related head trauma. Ray Easterling suffered from depression, dementia and insomnia.
"It is fair to say they were protective of the players who could be disciplined in the next phase of this, and that was really what their focus was on, defending or excusing the conduct of the players who were involved in this program. That is unfortunate because the players who could have been injured and maybe were injured are also members of the union, and they are entitled to protection. Their interests, I think, are entitled to greater consideration and greater protection than the interests of the players who may have participated in this program or engaged in conduct that put the safety of other players in jeopardy. That could be a difference between us when the discipline on players is finally resolved and issued.''
-- NFL attorney Jeff Pash, to the Associated Press sports editors on Friday, indicating the league's position that the NFL Players Association was being more protective of those players who participated in the Saints' bounty program than those who might have been victims of it. To which union spokesman George Atallah responded to the AP that if the league had turned over more proof to the union that players were culpable, the union would be more willing to collaborate with the league.
Make no mistake: Players are getting suspended and fined, perhaps as early as today, and the union will fight it aggressively, blaming defensive coordinator Gregg Williams for running a program the players didn't totally go along with.
"He is one of the 10 best players in the draft. Historically, inside linebackers are not valued, mostly because they get replaced on sub downs in sub packages and nickel packages. He's the opposite and his strength lies in the pass game. He's the best pass-dropping inside linebacker I've ever seen in college football. He has instincts and speed. There's real value there because he's a three-down inside linebacker.''
-- NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock on Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly.
I have Kuechly at 11 in my mock draft, to Kansas City, and until I heard Mayock say that, I hadn't considered Kuechly might not be there for the Chiefs.
"I want to know their names, so I can put them in my book of people not to hire.''
-- Bill Polian, former NFL general manager with the Bills, Panthers and Colts, on ESPN's "NFL Live'' Friday, asked about the anonymous scouts who spoke to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. One said, among other things, that Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III was selfish.
I know it's fashionable to give Trent Richardson, far and away the best back in this draft, to Cleveland at No. 4 in round one Thursday. But with the game becoming more and more of an aerial show, the Browns should be thinking hard about their choice before Thursday.
Six teams in the NFL won 12 or more games last year. Here are those teams, and where the leading rusher on each ranked in league rushing stats last season:
I'm not saying Richardson is so devalued that he shouldn't be picked very high. I'm saying the Browns and the Rams -- St. Louis also loves Richardson -- should think what awful receiving corps they have first ... and how they have quarterbacks desperate for a franchise wideout.
The University of Mount Union, an Alliance, Ohio, school with 2,200 undergrads, has chosen E. Dominic Capers as the speaker at its 166th commencement on May 5.
That's Dom Capers, the Packers' defensive coordinator and dedicated Mount Union grad, class of '72.
I got off the Acela train in Boston Friday around 11:25 a.m. with my friend Ken Fost. We were up for the 100th anniversary game at Fenway. Ed Randall, the longtime baseball announcer, was on our train. And as we exited the Back Bay Station for the 25-minute walk to the park, Randall walked up to me and said, "How long a walk?" Maybe 25 minutes, I said. "And a cab ride?" Maybe five or so. So Ed fell in with us to walk.
It's one of the great city walks in America, one I made often living in Boston's South End for the past three springs and summers. You bisect Back Bay and the South End, walking past the dogwoods in full bloom and the dog-walkers and the brownstones and then the beautiful pool at the Christian Science building, and then the gardens in the Fens.
And Ed started telling us his story, how he was diagnosed with prostate cancer at 47, is in remission now, and decided to devote a good bit of his life to urging men to get PSA screening. "Last year, we were in 175 minor-league ballparks, setting up displays, urging men to be tested,'' he said. "Did you know it's more common for men to get prostate cancer than for women to get breast cancer? But if you're diagnosed early, there's a cure rate over 90 percent. It's not a death sentence.'' And so it went.
I know, I know ... Looks like a very long year for the Sox. But I miss those long walks to and from games in one of the best walking cities in America -- or anywhere.
"Happy 60th birthday to Pats coach Bill Belichick. It means from now on he'll be listed on the injury report as QUESTIONABLE (prostate).''
-- @billscheft, "Late Show With David Letterman'' writer, on the occasion of Belichick's 60th last week.
"Not surprised Bill Polian said Richardson might be best player in draft. I've said that for 2 months. Like I said, it's tape study.''
-- @gregcosell, the NFL Films tape guru, on Alabama running back Trent Richardson.
"Just walked in for a steroid pee test with my shirt off and the tester laughed and said 'Never mind, man. I think you're good' :(''
-- @BMcCarthy32, Oakland A's pitcher Brandon McCarthy, a very slim man, on Friday.