1. I think this will surprise you; it darn near shocked me. But my sources tell me Stephen Ross did not influence the decision for the Dolphins to welcome HBO and NFL Films into training camp for Hard Knocks.
I am told Ross wanted the Dolphins to do it, but left it up to coach Joe Philbin and GM Jeff Ireland. I am also told Ross had given up on chance of it happening because it just wasn't Ireland's cup of tea, and Ross didn't want something that would likely be very good for the marketing of the team (and ticket sales) to overshadow what Philbin and Ireland wanted to do. But Philbin went to Ireland and told him he'd actually like the spotlight of the show to help his team focus, and to show off that what the team is doing is right, and that the players are ready for prime time.
That could be a dubious reason -- and if the Dolphins struggle, Philbin will be severely second-guessed -- but people need to remember something about this show: The team that accepts Hard Knocks into its lair has always had the ability to exercise some editorial control over the product we see. So whether you believe what I believe, that Ross left it totally up to Philbin and Ireland, there's little chance that you're going to see something so worrisome and damaging to the Dolphins on this show that you'll say it hurt their preparations for 2012.
2. I think that sound you heard Sunday morning around 11 Jacksonville time was the sound of the entire Jaguars ownership/front office/coaching group doing a collective "What the $#%&*@?''
Justin Blackmon, drafted by the Jags as a franchise wideout in April, was arrested Sunday morning in Stillwater, Okla., on a charge of aggravated DUI. That's reserved for those who measure above .15 percent blood alcohol, which essentially is twice the legal limit in Oklahoma (.08 percent alcohol).
Blackmon's breathalyzer test measured at .24, and according to the Tulsa World, he had a previous DUI arrest in 2010. Driving under the influence of three times the legal limit, and with a prior incident, will certainly put Blackmon in the NFL's substance abuse program, and rightfully so. Talk about questioning the intelligence of a player in which you've placed so much hope for your franchise.
3. I think Troy Vincent and the NFL Rookie Symposium staff have a great test case for their annual event later this month in northeast Ohio. They already were presented one last week with the Nick Fairley foolishness in Alabama, and now here's another.
4. I think the first thing every NFL player should know is that most teams -- and perhaps all by now -- have programs that allow players access to rides 24 hours a day if they feel they're too impaired to drive. I remember Carmen Policy and the Browns putting this program in place when they took over the operation of the new Cleveland team in 1999, his reasoning being that there should never be an excuse for players to drive while impaired. And the Jaguars have this program in place too.
5. I think I have to agree with Dan Pompei, the respected NFL columnist for the Chicago Tribune and National Football Post, when he writes: "The chances of a Super Bowl being granted to Chicago are roughly the same of a Super Bowl being granted to Jupiter.''
6. I think, speaking of Bowls, I've got tremendous respect for new NFL Players Association president Domonique Foxworth. We had a couple of long conversations when the labor negotiations were rocky, and I thought he was a terrific voice of reason with management at the toughest point of the talks. And he's a very recently retired player, so maybe he can sell the players that the Pro Bowl is on the precipice of death, and it's up to their efforts to save it. But I doubt it.
7. I think I appreciate the brutal honesty of Chargers cornerback Quentin Jammer in Kevin Acee's excellent piece about a life that spiraled downward last year with poor play and a devastating divorce. "I'm not going to pretend to know what Junior was going through,'' Jammer told Acee, speaking of Junior Seau, who committed suicide last month. "But I've been there. I've thought about it." The story is worth your time:
8. I think I'm not going to feed the Darrelle Revis story yet. Not until he doesn't show. But it's not as simple as saying he should live by the terms of his contract. I am certainly a live-by-the-terms-of-the-contract guy. The Jets paid him, on average, $16.25 million per year in the first two years of the deal. They paid that with the full expectation that Revis would be the best defensive player in football.
We could probably argue that (DeMarcus Ware would be in the discussion), but I think Revis has proven he's the best defender in the league over the past two years. The Jets are due to pay him $6.75 million, on average, in the last two years of the deal. Why set the contract up that way unless you fully intend to re-do Revis' deal after two years?
9. I think if any team signs Terrell Owens, the GM ought to have his head examined.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Almost a very big day for Rex Ryan in Los Angeles today. It's the red carpet premiere of That's My Boy, the Adam Sandler movie in which Ryan makes his big-screen debut. I wrote about it last fall. Anyway, Sandler put two more scenes of Ryan's work in the final product than he'd originally planned, which may mean Rex should quit his day job.
b. To show what a square I am, my fondest memories of Richard Dawson, who died at 79 of esophageal cancer over the weekend, have nothing to do with Family Feud and everything to do with Hogan's Heroes. He was the best and most convincing of the heroes, the group of POWs in Germany that, humorously, tried to destroy the Nazis from within. How can that have been humorous? Hard to explain if you didn't see it. But Dawson was brilliant.
c. Congrats to Tim Rohan, of the New York Times, for ably writing the Johan Santana no-hitter story ... in the second major league baseball game story he'd ever written. Tim's an intern from Erie, Pa., by way of the University of Michigan. I didn't recognize the byline in my Saturday morning paper, and I saw Pete Thamel of the Times congratulate Rohan on Twitter, so I reached out to him for the story.
Turns out he'd covered the Michigan football team the last two years for the campus paper, and interned last summer at the Philadelphia Inquirer, and just started his internship in New York officially last week with a series of orientation meetings. Then he got the call Friday to pinch-hit at the Mets game. "I'm aware of the history,'' he said. "I'm writing the game story of the first no-hitter in Mets history for the New York Times. But I was just writing. I was just working. I had a job to do, a story to tell. Tyler Kepner [Times' baseball columnist] helped me, and I've had a lot of help from other writers along the way. I'm just happy I was able to write a story I was proud of.''
Very good job, Tim. A short section: "I know how much this means to New York and to the New York Mets," Santana said, his shoulder heavily wrapped and his voice sounding humbled having accomplished what Tom Seaver had been so close to achieving. On the night that Beltran returned to New York, the evening belonged to Santana and the type of history the Mets had failed to write when Beltran was on the team.
d. Santana, who missed all of 2011 recovering from shoulder surgery, showed this was possible in his last start, throwing a four-hit shutout against the lowly San Diego Padres. His shoulder seemed in Cy Young shape.
e. Daniel Bard Sunday in Toronto: 13 batters, six walks, two hit batsmen. Hope he's not getting Steve Blass disease.
f. One of the best nights I've spent in a long time happened last Wednesday, when my wife and I saw the Broadway play Clybourne Park. Plays that make you think are good things. Great things, actually.
This one opens in a Chicago neighborhood in 1959, with the first black family buying a home there, and the second act is exactly 50 years later, with a white yuppie family buying the beat-up home so they can, in effect, begin the gentrification of the neighborhood. A fabulous look at who we are and how we think about race relations. In my best theater-going voice, I'd say: Run, don't walk, to Clybourne Park.
g. Hard to imagine there's a better job being done on TV in supporting roles than by Anna Chlumsky (chief of the Vice President's staff on HBO's Veep) and Timothy Simons (the annoying liaison between the president's office and the Veep's). Chlumsky, the former child star, is positively dead-on at what I imagine the VP's chief of staff to be. I don't watch a lot of TV, but this is easily my favorite current show. A shame it has but a week left in the season.
h. Rest in peace, Claire Fauci. Claire was the mom of one of daughter Laura's Tufts classmates, who was an incredibly bright light.
i. Thank you, Michael Strahan, for your kindness. Strahan phoned Claire a couple of weeks ago to send some cheer her way. The only team she liked was the Giants, and Strahan, because he'd done a PSA on marriage equality, which Claire strongly believed in, was her favorite player. Now Michael Strahan -- there was a man Claire loved. And he returned it in a warm phone call.
j. Nice time at Cards-Mets Saturday afternoon. One of the great things about living in New York is being subway rides away from big-league teams.
k. Beernerdness: Good job by the Mets, making Kona Longboard Lager and Brooklyn Lager available, just a few steps from our seats. CitiField respects the diverse beer drinkers.
l. Coffeenerdness: If I had one selfish wish for New York City, it'd be that Peet's Coffee proliferated here. Being in L.A. reminded me how lucky you on the West Coast are, to be able to get Peet's in so many locales.
m. The mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, is under attack because he wants to eliminate the ability of fast food places to sell super-sized sugary drinks. Under attack is putting it nicely. The papers are killing him. I think Bloomberg's doing the right thing. You can't fight the obesity epidemic in this country by suggesting mild solutions. You've got to fight it. And Bloomberg's trying. Good for him. And if people don't like it, then tax soda. Tax the daylights out of it, the way we tax cigarettes.
n. Buddy of mine told me the other day, "Remember when we used to have the classic eight-ounce bottle of Coke that people used to drink? It was kind of a special thing. All Bloomberg's trying to do is to ban people from drinking more than twice that in the same sitting. What's wrong with that?''
o. I'm not the biggest basketball fan, as you know. But I'd pay to see Rajon Rondo play, and I might pay quite a bit.
p. Congrats, Tiger Woods. Golf's a lot more fun when you're winning.
q. You're breaking a lot of Garden State hearts, you Los Angeles Kings. But you deserve everything you're getting. Jonathan Quick's a stone wall.