"A lot of things are legal in Las Vegas that are not legal anywhere else. Last night robbery was among them.''
-- Columnist Ron Borges of the Boston Herald, reporting from Vegas, where Timothy Bradley "upset'' Manny Pacquiao in a junior welterweight bout in a split decision.
I'm not a boxing guy (haven't been, anyway, since covering Aaron Pryor back in my Cincinnati days), and I did not see the fight. But the kind of outrage among my peers who cover the fights and/or watch them regularly made me think the decision was a miscarriage of justice. (In boxing? Surprise!) Borges reported that CompuBox, which charts how many punches each fighter throws in a fight, had Pacquiao throwing more punches that landed in 10 of the 12 rounds, with one round a draw. Surmised Borges: "That means Bradley somehow won a fight in which he was outpunched in all but one round.''
This fight should be analyzed closely -- as should the flood of late money Saturday toward Bradley, an oddity considering Pacquiao was favored -- and I'll be watching to see how the two judges who scored the fight for Bradley, C.J. Ross and Duane Ford, defend their cards.
"Offense, defense and special teams doing their job, each group have different objective and motives, but playing in harmony for each other, for the good of everyone. Wouldn't it be nice if Congress operated the same way?''
-- Giants coach Tom Coughlin, during his team's visit to the White House Friday as the president honored the Giants for winning the Super Bowl four months ago.
"I would. If I was convinced that his coach had received the right training, that they were being monitored in the right way, that people were making good decisions about teaching kids good skills, not only about the game of football, but what it teaches you about honor and sacrifice and teamwork, of course I would."
-- NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, asked by National Public Radio Thursday if he would allow his son to play football.
"I would be shocked if he doesn't sign his tender by July 15 or whenever it is, and he shows up. At the end of the day, I think Matt knows it's business. He's still getting $7-whatever-million to play this year. So he's gonna show up.''
-- Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler, to ESPN 1000 in Chicago, on the contract stalemate between Matt Forte and the Bears.
Cutler is probably right -- but when the quarterback of the team says that, and Forte is fighting the team for a new long-term contract, and the quarterback says in effect, Don't be silly -- of course he's going to show up for the franchise number, I would think Forte would be wondering why his teammate is screwing around with his leverage.
"Fire ants got in my pants. I was freaking out. Oh, ants! When those ants get close to those testicles, there ain't no laughing about that.''
-- Dallas fullback Lawrence Vickers, to the Dallas Morning News, after a case of ants in his pants at a Cowboys workout session last week.
This could be the only appearance of Vickers in Monday Morning Quarterback this year, but it's a noble effort.
Last season, the most startling statistic for the Falcons, quite possibly, was the number of screen passes nifty receiver-out-the-backfield Jacquizz Rodgers caught in his rookie season: one ... out of 256 snaps he played on Atlanta pass plays.
Under new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, you can expect two 2011 rookies -- Rodgers and Julio Jones, to have more opportunities to do what they do best. The Falcons drafted Rodgers to be a Darren Sproles-type running back, and time will tell whether that's possible. But there's no way he'll be one if the Falcons don't get him the ball more often in space behind the offensive line. In all, according to ProFootballFocus.com, the Falcons were last in the NFL, including playoff games, with 33 screens in 17 games.
And though Jones averaged 17.8 yards per catch, the Falcons are convinced he should have more chances down the field. When they interviewed Koetter after former offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey took the Jacksonville head-coaching job, Atlanta brass was convinced Koetter would take more chances throwing deep with Jones.
Last season, ProFootballFocus.com had Jones 43rd among the 130 receivers with at least 20 targets in downfield depth; the average Atlanta pass to Jones was 13.1 yards past the line of scrimmage. Nothing wrong with throwing Jones some intermediate stuff he can turn into big plays, but that number has to jump up a few yards, emblematic of Matt Ryan airing out 20 or so more balls to him.
Rodgers short and Jones long. Keep that in mind as you watch the Falcons play in September. If they don't accomplish more of that, Koetter will be in head coach Mike Smith's office explaining why.
Want to know why Chad Ochocinco failed in New England? Trust. He just never built it up with Tom Brady, and the Patriots admitted their error by cutting him last week. (More in Ten Things.)
How the Patriots' big four -- Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski and Deion Branch -- compared in what I'd call the Trust and Production Ratio to Ochocinco shows how he just never fit in.
The Big Four caught 68.4 percent of the balls Brady threw to them. Ochocinco caught 46.9 percent. Throw the blame wherever you wish, but the point is simple: Brady and the Patriots' offensive playcaller, Bill O'Brien, trusted the incumbents and didn't trust the new kid on the block.
Ate dinner Friday evening in a group that included a veteran Yellowstone National Park ranger, Jim Evanoff, who told us one of the most amazing things I'd heard in a while.
When Old Faithful erupts at Yellowstone, the water gushing out of the ground is more than 600 years old, scientists have told Evanoff. That's how long it takes the mountain snow to melt, run down through rivers and streams into the ground, and then percolate below the earth and explode into the sky every 93 minutes (give or take 10 minutes) at very high temperatures.
"That means,'' Evanoff told our group, some of whom would be visiting Yellowstone the next day and witnessing Old Faithful, "that the geysers you'll see tomorrow are formed from water that entered the earth before Christopher Columbus discovered America.''
Now there's something to think about.
One of the great things about traveling to a place like Montana is it gives you an appreciation for people and places you'd otherwise know nothing about.
One of the wranglers who helped me survive a two-hour walk/trot on a horse Friday, Kylie King, is a summer employee of Blank's ranch, earning money for college. She's a bright, smiley girl from the Montana ranching town of Winnett, and I asked her a lot about her life growing up.
She comes from a town of 200, and a county of about 370. There were 30 students in her high school, eight in her graduating class. Her high school partnered with another one a half-hour away for high school sports; that school had 20 students. She ran cross-country and played basketball at school, and helped herd cattle and birth calves with her family. They played six-man football at her high school, and once, when her school had two injuries among the seven players on the roster, they could field but five players. So their opponent that week, in a gesture of sportsmanship, played only five too.
For her high school graduation present, her family gave her a trip to New York City, where she went with her mother and grandmother. She loved "Mamma Mia,'' stayed in a hotel in Times Square, and was scared of only one thing: the crazy cab drivers. Now she'd like to work with horses for the rest of her life.
On Friday, I visited a one-room schoolhouse that served the community of Emigrant from 1928 to 1948. Blank helped restore it when he bought the property. It's one of the most amazing little buildings -- about 12 feet by 20 feet -- I've ever seen. The building, which housed the first- through eighth-grade in Emigrant for 21 years, looks like a tiny white chapel. Inside there are eight seats and attached desks, the original desks from the school, with carved-in initials; one kid generations ago had carved the words "CHAMPS'' on a desk.
The teacher might have two first-graders, no second-graders, a third-grader, a fifth-grader and three sixth-graders one year, for instance ... and would have to teach each single student or small group each day at their own grade level. At the end of eighth grade in those days, there was no expectation most of the students would continue with high school, which was 26 miles away in Livingston. Many stopped schooling then and went to work on the family ranches.
The books were the most interesting things. One on the teacher's desk was a 1928 English text titled Teachers Manual For Happy Times. Our guide, a local named Mark Rose, told us an elderly woman who once taught in the school dropped off a load of old texts at an antique shop in the area a few years ago, and these books were placed back in the school to lend an authentic air to it, seeing that, of course, some of them actually were used in the schoolhouse three-quarters of a century ago.
I picked up one book of a four-volume green set with barely legible letters on the cover. It was the collected works of Mark Twain. I looked at the title page. Published in 1871. I was holding a 151-year-old book.
I was in Montana for only a couple of days, but I'll remember it a long time. And I'll be back.
"Tim Bradley's wife didn't think he won."
-- @ByTimGraham of the Buffalo News, following the judging controversy in the fight Saturday night that had Bradley outpointing Manny Pacquiao, much to the consternation of most fight fans.
"As a kid I vowed I'd never drink coffee. Now I can't start the morning without it."
-- @GeoffSchwartz76, the Minnesota offensive lineman, who thinks a lot like I think.
"Pedroia is just a little ready. He's in the dugout in uniform at 2:48 p.m.''
-- @PeteAbe, Boston Globe baseball writer Pete Abraham, on Dustin Pedroia being prepared last Tuesday to play his first game back from a thumb injury.
Being in the dugout in uniform at 2:48 means Pedroia was ready to go 4 hours and 22 minutes before the first pitch. The guy likes what he does.
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