Deadline shift will have profound impact; Bears' Emery gets to work
Kyle Orton the perfect example of how later trade deadline can change the game
Phil Emery has begun to improve the Bears, but O-line remains a question mark
Thoughts on Nick Fairley; Quotes of the Week; Ten Things I Think I Think; more
Happy Memorial Day. I know for many of you, Memorial Day has become an extra day off, or the start of the summer. But it's a day on which we should spend a few moments remembering the million men and women who have died fighting for our country.
A bit of history: Memorial Day began as "Decoration Day'' in the 1860s, to honor the 625,000 soldiers who died in the Civil War. Think of that amazing number: The number of Civil War dead is more than the population of Wyoming today. The number of Civil War dead is 11 times the number of American troops who died in Vietnam. According to Yale historian David Blight, the first Decoration Day event was organized by freed African-American slaves in 1865 in Charleston, S.C., where a parade of 10,000, led by 3,000 black schoolchildren, took place to honor the dead around a racetrack that had been used as a burial ground. In 2010, some leading Charleston residents dedicated a memorial for the first Memorial Day -- so re-named in 1882 -- at a reflecting pool in the city.
There's been a Memorial Day parade in Ironton, Ohio, every year since 1868. In many towns, local veterans groups place a small American flag on the graves of everyone from town who died in any of the wars we've fought. If you've got a flag around your home, and can fly it at half-staff, the custom is to fly it that way until noon today, to commemorate the dead. For the rest of the day, fly it at regular height, noting that the fight for liberty continues.
There's your history lesson for today. Have a good day with your families, or wherever you are, and think of those who've sacrificed so we can lead the lives we do.
Before we get to football, I have one modern, tragic Memorial Day story for you.
A young woman named Marina Keegan died Saturday in a single-car accident in Dennis, Mass., on Cape Cod, five days after graduating from Yale. She was 22. She wrote for the Yale Daily News while a student there, and her writing was so good, so compelling, that the News included her column, "The Opposite of Loneliness,'' in a special edition of the paper distributed to all students and families at graduation. I urge you to read it.
You go to college for many reasons, the biggest of which is probably (but not definitely) to get trained for what you'll do for the rest of your life. But along the way you experience a collegial feeling that's hard to describe until you've been through it. And Marina Keegan writes about it as eloquently as I've read.
"More than finding the right job or city or spouse -- I'm scared of losing this web we're in,'' Keegan writes. "This elusive, indefinable, opposite of loneliness. This feeling I feel right now.''
"The first time I read the piece, I cried,'' the editor-in-chief of the Daily News, Max de La Bruyere, told me Sunday night. "As a professor of ours said today, 'Marina always spoke her mind. She was determined to always be herself.' She knew what she wanted to write, and she always wrote it so well. She was such a shining light. She found time to do so much. She was the president of the Yale College Democrats, which takes up quite a lot of time. She wrote fiction and non-fiction, and she wrote a full-length musical last summer. And this story about life at Yale was so beautiful. Thank God she left us with this.''
It's beautiful. Read it. It'll make you sad, but sadness is part of life too.
Stories like these got Marina Keegan an editorial assistant job at the New Yorker, which was she was due to start two weeks from today in Manhattan.
On the picnic table for your reading pleasure today (and just think -- you can read this while you're off, instead of stealing company time on a Monday morning to read):
The trade deadline was moved from Week 6 to Week 8 the other day. Had that been done in 2011, the course of current football history likely would have changed radically. And I mean "radically."
One hundred nights from tonight, football's back. Cowboys-Giants in New Jersey. Will Hakeem Nicks, the Eli Manning security blanket who has averaged 1,011 receiving yards per season in his career, be there? We shall see, but I am stunned how the event was covered in New York.
Meet Phil Emery, the Bears general manager. I'll try to educate you on an unknown but very significant football executive.
It shows my age, I suppose, but there was a shift in the media world order on Thursday, and no one paid it much mind. A major American city won't have a daily newspaper starting this fall.
Mike Tomlin won't be paying any bounties.
I'm no lawyer, though I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. But two thoughts on the union's collusion case against the NFL, claiming that the league's 32 teams conspired to artificially keep spending down in the uncapped year of 2010. One: I hope it gets an airing, because if a year was supposed to be uncapped, why were teams warned to stay within some fuzzy financial lines -- any financial lines -- and not dump salaries? An uncapped year should have been an uncapped year, with no restrictions. Two: Seems to me the union signed away all rights on claims of collusion last August, so I don't see this case having legs, even in the friendlier confines of the Minnesota court where it was filed.
We'll start with the rules change from last Tuesday that I assumed was meaningless. But you know what happens when you assume things.
The Kyle Orton Memorial Trade Deadline.
Owners agreed the other day to move the trading deadline from the day after the end of Week 6 to the day after the end of Week 8. Two weeks. I feel strongly the deadline should be around Dec. 1, to stimulate real action to help teams trying to win a division and to buttress with draft choices those teams out of the pennant race with four or five weeks to go.
But last year, there's a real chance that moving the deadline by two weeks -- from Oct. 18, the deadline, to Nov. 1, the day after the end of Week 8 -- would have netted the Indianapolis Colts Kyle Orton.
And if that had happened, and the Colts had won just one or two more games than they did, it would have resulted in Peyton Manning staying a Colt ... and Andrew Luck being drafted by somebody else.
The situation: Indianapolis coaxed Kerry Collins out of retirement in August, when Peyton Manning was having neck problems. Collins was the Colts' starter until he got a concussion in Week 3 against Pittsburgh, with Curtis Painter the backup. When Collins got concussed, the Colts signed Dan Orlovsky off the street. Painter started and the Colts hoped Collins would recover to take the starting job back. But after Week 7, with Collins' concussion symptoms lingering, the Colts cut him. By that time, with no trades possible, the Colts had to go with what they had, or pick up another body off the street.
"I think the deadline being moved last year would have made a difference for us,'' said Bill Polian, the Colts president until owner Jim Irsay fired him in January. "We would have rekindled our interest in Orton. In Week 6, we knew our quarterback situation wasn't great, but after a couple more weeks, we realized the situation was bad. We probably would have called Denver, who'd gone to [Tim] Tebow by then, and said, 'Hey, we'll give you a three [a third-round draft choice] for Orton.' ''
If that had happened, a source in the Broncos organization told me, Denver would have agreed to deal Orton. Denver had been in talks with Miami before the season for Orton, and would have dealt him to Miami for a fourth-round pick, but there were complications with that deal -- both because the Dolphins questioned whether Orton was a long-term answer, and in contract compensation. So if the Broncos would have taken a fourth-round pick for Orton before the season, they certainly would have taken a three for Orton after he'd been benched for Tebow.
Now, how much difference would Orton have made in the last eight games of the season, had he been dealt? Indianapolis went 2-6 with Painter and Orlovsky. In four of those eight games, the Colts threw for fewer than 130 net passing yards.
Polian is convinced Orton would have been responsible for at least another win or two ... perhaps in an offensively hapless 17-3 home loss to Jacksonville, or a 19-13 loss at Jacksonville, or an eight-point home loss to Carolina. Remember, the Colts played better on defense after firing coordinator Larry Coyer with five games left, and allowed fewer than 20 points in four of their last eight games. Orton's a very quick study. In his first start for Kansas City after being released by Denver, he completed 74.2 percent of his throws and beat the 13-0 Packers.
I agree with Polian: With Orton, the Colts would have been better than 2-6 in their last eight games. Two wins better, and they'd have held OTA practices for the last two weeks with Peyton Manning as their quarterback. That's because they'd have been 4-12, and tied, with a .531 opponents winning percentage, with Cleveland for the third overall draft pick. In that case, the first two picks in the draft would have gone to St. Louis (2-14) and Minnesota (3-13). Who would have traded up for Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III in that case, Washington and which other team? Or would Minnesota have fallen head over heels for Luck or Griffin and picked one of the QBs, even though the Vikes drafted Christian Ponder a year earlier?
It's all silly offseason speculation, but my point is this: It's still not ideal, making the deadline in midseason instead of later in the year, when teams on both sides of contention would be more motivated to make moves. But this one situation -- and maybe it's only one -- shows moving the deadline has the potential to have a profound impact on the future of the game.
One significant point on this deal. It's not set in stone yet. The management council and the Players Association have to agree on this before the season. It's expected they will, but with the relationship they've had of late, you never know.