Posted: Monday May 28, 2012 1:44AM ; Updated: Monday May 28, 2012 12:26PM
Peter King

MMQB (cont.)

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Ten Things I Think I Think

Nick Fairley
Nick Fairley was considered a top-five talent in 2011, but character concerns pushed him down to No. 13 overall in the draft.
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1. I think these are the stats that will follow Nick Fairley until he turns his life around, after getting pulled over in rural Alabama Saturday night driving 100 mph and, apparently, driving while impaired: Ten games played, one sack, two arrests. One arrest for marijuana possession; one for speeding, driving recklessly, and allegedly driving under the influence. Time to grow up, Nick. You're in the big leagues now, with big-league punishment for messing up.

2. I think here's a postscript to the Alex Smith comments about the garbage-time yards by the Panthers last season. First, Smith's quote, the one that rankled the Panthers, came when he was asked about his lack of big-yardage passing games. "I think that's a totally overblown stat,'' Smith said. "Because if you're losing games in the second half, guess what? You're like the Carolina Panthers and you're going no-huddle the entire second half and, yeah, Cam Newton threw for a lot of 300-yard games, that's great. You're not winning, though."

Well, here are two stats that refute what Smith said. One: Newton threw for more yards in the first half of games last year (2,071) than he did in the second half of games (1,980). And, though this might be a misleading and/or selective stat, Newton passed for only 523 yards when the Panthers were getting waxed last year -- when they trailed by between nine and 16 points. In theory, what Smith said sounds correct. But in practice, with Newton last year, I just don't think it was true.

3. I think the signing of Dallas Clark by Tampa Bay -- which I wrote about last Tuesday -- could pay some dividends even if Clark mirrors his last two years. Combined in 2010 and 2011, he played only 48 percent of the offensive snaps in Indianapolis because of injury, including the 2010 wrist surgery that plagued him some last year. "Will there be a downgrade in his hands, which were superior?'' said Bill Polian. "Even if there is a bit of that, he is one of the best team players I've seen in football. There is nothing he won't do to help the team get better -- regardless how it affects his stats or his role. He is absolutely unselfish."

4. I think, now that Seattle has said no to Hard Knocks on the heels of about 26 other teams saying no to Hard Knocks, I'll be very happy when all the talk about which team's doing Hard Knocks ends and some team either does Hard Knocks or doesn't do Hard Knocks, and that's not to say I don't like Hard Knocks, because Hard Knocks is a great show but Hard Knocks just isn't worth the daily speculative aggravation about who's doing Hard Knocks and who isn't doing Hard Knocks.

5. I think the NFL and the union agree on something: putting old helmets in youth football -- helmets 10 years old or more -- out to pasture. Good idea to spend $1 million on 13,000 new helmets for youth football in four pilot areas: the Bay Area, the southern Gulf Coast, greater New York and northern Ohio. Youth teams in those areas can apply for new helmets through USAFootball, but the deadline is Wednesday. Visit this site for details.

6. I think I'm late in giving a nod to the sports agency Priority Sports & Entertainment, but the group ran its second annual seminar to help clients prepare for life after football. In a seven-hour seminar, the players heard from life counselors, financial advisers, business professionals from different fields, marketing representatives, an NFL Players Association post-career adviser, college programs, a political campaign manager, resume and cover-letter experts, and a health-and-wellness coach. I don't know how many agent groups take the time to do this, but kudos to Priority Sports for looking out for its clients.

7. I think I don't know where to start on the story of the former high school football star from Los Angeles who was wrongly convicted of rape and spent five years in prison for it. A judge threw out the conviction on Thursday when the alleged victim recanted her story. I just hope Brian Banks, 24, gets more than money out of this -- I hope he has a chance to resume a promising football career, and I hope it's not too late. Before his conviction, Banks, a linebacker, had accepted an offer to play at USC. Now he says he still hopes he can play in the NFL. I do too.

8. I think this is my one post-script on the move of the trading deadline: I asked Miami GM Jeff Ireland if being 0-7 would have been very different in terms of making moves than being 0-5. In other words, would he have been more motivated to make trades two weeks later last year. He said no. "Maybe I'm na´ve or stubborn,'' Ireland told me the other day, "but I was not thinking about making a lot of deals at 0-5, and I don't think I would have been two weeks later. I thought we weren't far away from being competitive.''

He was right. Miami won six of its last nine, after starting the season 0-7. "I wasn't thinking about playing for the future at 0-7,'' he said. "I was thinking about what could we do to win now.''

That's why, despite the Kyle Orton story I told earlier in the column, I don't think a two-week extension to the deadline will be earth-shaking.

9. I think if you want to know what's right with athletes, look at Justin Tuck. The other night, Tuck was honored by a literacy charity I work with in New Jersey, Write On Sports, which teaches kids in and around Newark how to write by writing about sports, with local teachers and writers helping out. Tuck and his wife, Lauran, founded RUSH for Literacy, emphasizing how important it is for young kids to grow up reading. "I do what I do with literacy because I love doing it, and because it's important,'' Tuck told the rapt audience. Great message to kids, and their parents, who can't hear it enough.

10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:

a. Rondo rocks. What a ballplayer.

b. I had the good fortune of being in the stands in Newark Friday night to see the Devils beat the Rangers in overtime and go on to the Stanley Cup Final against the Kings. Thought the most poignant moment of the night was seeing the Rangers fall to the ice when Adam Henrique scored the game-winner in overtime. So crushed. That's one of the things I love about hockey -- it's more than a game and more than a paycheck to so many of the men in it.

c. Congrats to the Devils. I've rooted for them since soon after moving to New Jersey in 1985 -- in part because so few staffers wanted to use SI's seats to the games in the Meadowlands. I never was a big hockey fan as a kid, but the Devils grew on me, and I saw maybe five or six games a year, including the Cup clincher in 2003, when Jersey beat Anaheim. But more than half of my good friends in Montclair, nine miles west of the Meadowlands, were big Ranger fans. So I totally understood what Martin Brodeur said after the game Friday night: "Winning against them [the Rangers], on a big stage, is pretty good. Not just for me, but for the fans of New Jersey, the people supporting us who always seem to take a second seat to the Rangers for whatever reason.'' He's right. Lots of people in that boat.

d. Perfect team-building example by Lou Lamoriello on the Devils' winning goal: Modest trade acquisition this year (Alexei Ponikarovsky, for a fourth-round pick and a minor-league player) and rich free agent (Ilya Kovalchuk) set up a former third-round pick (Adam Henrique) who was drafted by Lamoriello and seasoned in the New Jersey system. Lamoriello gets players in all ways -- and very few, I might add, for the big money that he spent to get Kovalchuk.

e. It's a sixth-seed, New Jersey, and an eighth-seed, Los Angeles, for the Cup. What's happening to the top seeds in pro sports these days. Check out this enlightening piece.

f. Josh Reddick has 13 home runs. Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez and Jayson Werth have 14 home runs, combined.

g. Whining Red Sox Stat of the Week: The season is seven weeks old, and Boston has had seven outfielders on the disabled list.

h. And no, to all of you on Twitter who gave me your advice on my proposed rotisserie league trade -- an offer to deal Buster Posey and Matt Garza for Alex Avila and Steven Strasburg -- I didn't do it. Just like Posey too much. Strasburg, with the innings limit ... a little risky. Even though Garza's been an arsonist.

i. Hey, Kaitlyn Sweeney: Congrats on the wedding! Good luck in your new life. You all might remember Kaitlyn, Mary Beth King's softball buddy from the neighboring town of Cedar Grove. At the risk of boring you silly, here's how you might recall her.

j. Darn you, Bob Papa, for putting that Tik Tok song in my head. It snuck in there the other day and still is alive for some annoying reason.

k. In the Meaningless Factoids of My Life Dept: My other two songs of the week can stay in my head forever as far as I'm concerned: Mean, by Taylor Swift. Great message, great voice. And an oldie I heard the other day, R.E.M.'s What's the Frequency, Kenneth?

l. Banging through books for the Father's Day book review column in two weeks. Enjoying Drop Dead Healthy.

m. On that theme, just watched Forks Over Knives, the documentary with smart science people making a lot of sense telling us what to eat. Now if I could just eat what the smart people say to eat.

n. And congrats to the Northwestern women's lacrosse team for continuing a great dynasty in sports: seven NCAA lacrosse titles in eight seasons. A great achievement in any sport at any time.

o. Happy 58th birthday, Jackie Slater.

p. Coffeenerdness: If I could just listen to the Forks Over Knives people, I'd go to a soy latte. As the young would say, OMG. Just can't do it.

q. Beernerdness: Great place atop Eataly, Mario Batali's Italian supermarket/restaurant complex in the Flatiron District in Manhattan called La Birreria, a beer garden with a nice view of the Empire State Building. Tried Ommegang Rare Vos amber ale on tap. Nice taste, with a hint of nutmeg and fruits, and a delicious head. Liked it. Great concept up there on the roof, too. Strongly recommended.

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