"I will say this about a sophomore slump -- if there's anybody that's going to work through it, he's going to work through it. When the season was over, one of the things he said was he wanted to find a way to make sure he didn't have one. I think the less we talk about it, the less we get caught up in it, the better. It's like the 'Madden curse.' He really wanted to be the cover. I think that's the thing. Instead of running from it, saying, 'Oh, I hope it doesn't happen -- it's not going to happen. I'm not going to let it happen.' I think that's his approach to the sophomore slump.''
-- Carolina coach Ron Rivera, to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer, on the second season of 2011 Offensive Rookie of the Year Cam Newton, the Panthers' quarterback.
"We don't believe we've been given all we've been given to just enjoy a comfortable life.''
-- Jon Kitna, the longtime NFL quarterback, to Danny O'Neill of the Seattle Times, in a very good Sunday story about how Kitna, who retired at the end of last season, is now teaching math and coaching football at his high school alma mater, Abraham Lincoln High in Tacoma, Wash.
I always knew Kitna as a terrific person and overachieving player. But how terrific is it that he's returned to his high school -- an "impoverished'' one, according to O'Neill -- on a volunteer basis to teach and coach? On the day O'Neill visited the school, he found Kitna having bought a bagful of McDonald's breakfast sandwiches for students coming in for extra help in math.
"Goodell's statements forever falsely taint and permanently damage Vilma, in the eyes of NFL clubs, media, fans and sponsors, as a player who brazenly disregards NFL rules and intentionally attempts to injure his opponents. Vilma has devoted four years of his personal and professional life to the city and community of New Orleans. Goodell's statements permanently damage Vilma's personal reputation in Louisiana and around the world. Vilma will soon have to leave behind the world of professional football and will likely face difficulties in obtaining other employment and entering into new ventures as a result of Goodell's false and defamatory statements.''
-- From the lawsuit filed by Jonathan Vilma, through his attorney, Peter R. Ginsberg, against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in U.S. District Court in Louisiana. Vilma is asking for damages, claiming Goodell ruined his reputation by, in effect, singling him out in the bounty scandal.
Biggest reason why the Arizona Cardinals picked wide receiver Michael Floyd in the first round last month? The numbers say it all. If you're going to employ Larry Fitzgerald, and you're going to pay him ($16 million per year) like he's the best receiver in football, you had best not put him out on an island with inaccurate passers.
Not that Floyd is going to fix the accuracy issues. But he should deflect some of the attention from Fitzgerald so the quarterback -- whoever it is -- can have a better chance to play well.
In 2009, Kurt Warner's last season in the league, he completed 66 percent of his throws. And Fitzgerald caught 97 of the 153 balls thrown his way -- 63.4 percent of the balls thrown his way.
In 2010 and 2011, Arizona quarterbacks have been last, collectively, in football, completing 53.3 percent of their throws. Over those two years, Fitzgerald has caught 52.0 percent of the passes thrown his way. If you don't think there's a direct correlation between Fitzgerald's receiving percentage plummeting since Warner left, you haven't been watching the Cardinals play.
Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel and his wife have an apartment in Manhattan.
Nothing earth-shattering about it. I just never figured Crennel as the Manhattan-during-his-downtime type. But good for him. It's a great place.
No matter what happens with the appeals and the New Orleans Saints season, this is going to be one weird Super Bowl week when New Orleans hosts the world -- and Commissioner Roger Goodell. (Trey Wingo echoes me below.)
It's rebel time in New Orleans. Former Saints cornerback Mike McKenzie has designed a T-shirt that throws a roundhouse against the league office. The shirt says:
We Are One
Us Against Them
The word "WAR'' is highlighted in the "We Are One'' part of the shirt.
One other odd note: Had the privilege on the way over to England of using the Delta club before the flight. I don't get these clubs. The Delta club at JFK makes you pay for some drinks and not for others. One man in front of me got a glass of red wine. "Ten fifty,'' the hostess said. The guy paid. Next guy ordered a vodka and tonic, and a double scotch on the rocks. Free. The big spender left a dollar for the gal.
"Love the families that hoot and holler at graduations like somebody just got asked to "Come on down" on The Price Is Right. #UVA''
-- @dandalyonsports, Washington Times columnist and proud University of Virginia grad dad, Sunday, tweeting from Charlottesville.
Agreed. Always thought the hooting and hollering was a bit overdone -- if not gauche.
"Brees should send the Saints gametape of what that team looked like before he showed up."
-- @MovetheSticks, former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah, now working for NFL.com, on the Saints' Brees dilemma.
"Said it before and I'll say it again: The Super Bowl in New Orleans this year will be the most awkward SB week in the history of the league''
-- @wingoz, ESPN host Trey Wingo.
Agreed, Trey. Roger Goodell should bring his earplugs.
Swim Daily, Elsa Benitez in Montauk
Bears and Cowboys fighting to gain ground in their divisions