1. I think the NFL lost one of its quiet statesmen Thursday, when Jacksonville cut defensive end Aaron Kampman, who just hasn't been able to stay healthy enough through two major knee injuries to stay on the field for the Jags. He's as classy and as good a teammate and effort player as the league has employed.
On Twitter, defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said: "Aaron Kampman is THE best teammate I ever had.''
The values instilled in Kampman during his formative days in Iowa never left him. If this is it for him, the NFL needs to find a way to keep Kampman involved in the game. I might suggest some sort of ambassador role with high school football, where Kampman can pass along lessons learned from the late and great Ed Thomas at Aplington-Parkersburg High in Iowa.
2. I think the referee dispute is going to be a tough one for the men in stripes to win. At least in the court of public opinion. Nine out of 10 of the NFL officials have other jobs. Last year, rookie officials earned an average of $78,000, a figure that would more than double over the life of the seven-year NFL offer. A five-year official last season averaged $115,000 per year; in 2018, he'd earn an average of $183,000 per year.
The officials certainly have some leverage; the league is asking them to be significantly more vigilant this year regarding player safety on the field, and looking out for players who appear to be dazed. Hard to expect neophyte replacement officials to be remotely as competent as the NFL men, so it's important the NFL settles this. But it could drag on for a while. I don't expect many fans to sympathize with officials working only weekends (plus their homework) between August and January for well into six figures.
3. I think, however, Goodell has to devote some time to figuring a bridge to this problem if it drags on, say, into August. The league simply cannot have officials who have never done an NFL game on the field when the real games start in September. Officials blow calls all the time, but the thought of the wrong team winning a game -- particularly early in the season when the new guys are still getting used to the speed and mayhem of the pro game -- and influencing a playoff spot is simply unacceptable. And it could certainly happen.
4. I think I love Martellus Bennett saying he's fine to play at 291. You're a player who figures in the Giants' passing game, Martellus, not Brandon Manumaleuna.
5. I think, in many ways, it would have been better for the NFL's case if arbitrator Shyam Das had ruled for the players and said Goodell didn't have the authority to impose discipline on players for offenses that happened before the CBA was signed last summer. Because if Goodell rubber-stamps the sanctions after hearing the appeals, the Saints' players will say they never had a chance. But if Ted Cottrell or Art Shell, the hearing officers, presided over the appeals and found the players culpable, the league could say, See, it's not just Goodell who looked at the evidence and thought you were guilty.
6. I think, by the way, it's good to hear that Saints GM Mickey Loomis has offered to spend his eight-week suspension in New York or in the place of the league's choice to help spread the word about sportsmanship and how bounties have no place in the game. The league's thinking of taking him up on the offer.
7. I think Chad Ochocinco was always a square peg in a round hole with the Patriots, leading to him being cut by the team last week. I go back to his first practice with the team. He had no swagger, no juice, and just wasn't comfortable -- and, observers to the Patriots say that never changed to the point where the Patriots trusted him in big spots. On that first practice day, Ocho dropped a 50-yard post throw from Tom Brady when he had two steps on the corner, and then had stone hands on a 15-yard cross from Brady. The capper came in a drill with no defense on the field, when Brady hit him wide open in the end zone, and Ochocinco dropped it.
The confidence a receiver has to have ... Chad just never had it in New England. And Brady didn't have it in him. Remember last year when 98 percent of you -- other than those in Mike Brown's home -- thought I was crazy for considering the Bengals owner and de facto GM the executive of the year, after getting first- and second-round picks for Carson Palmer? Well, he got fifth- and sixth-rounders from the great Bill Belichick (wideout Marvin Jones from Cal was the fifth- last April; the sixth- will come in the 2013 draft) for Ochocinco. That's four draft choices for players who were part of the past, not the future.
8. I think I can't get too fired up about the Seahawks losing two June practices because of contact during sessions that were supposed to be non-contact. As former player and now media maven Ross Tucker said: "It reminds me of recruiting violations against a college football power. Pretty much everybody does it to some extent and the only question is which college powerhouse, or in this case NFL team, gets this year's slap on the wrist.
"The only way NFL teams get caught is if a player turns the team in to the NFLPA or there is something as egregious as a couple of injuries and a fight breaks out that the media is there to report on, which is what happened in Seattle. Plus, live contact during OTAs is inevitable. As long as the cameras are on, the coaches are evaluating and forming opinions. If coaches are forming opinions, players will continue to increase their intensity so that they look good until it escalates to an unacceptable level per the CBA rules.''
9. I think the Eagles' changes last week -- the rise in influence of GM Howie Roseman, the consolidation of power to coach Andy Reid, the decline of president Joe Banner -- was a pretty easy decision. Roseman, 36, was the ideal man to handle football operations for the Eagles. Don Smolenski, 45, was the ideal person to handle the business operations for the Eagles. Why ideal? Because Roseman and Smolenski have the jobs of their dreams, running the football and business side of a pro football team. Banner, the outgoing president, wanted to do more. He wants either to have final say of a professional team or own one. That wasn't going to happen in Philadelphia. There's no animosity here. Just a common-sense move by owner Jeff Lurie.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. How terrific that the Stony Brook Seawolves are going to the College World Series. Just amazing that their 7-2 win in the decisive game of the best-of-three series Sunday at LSU shocked the college baseball world and earned this research university on the north shore of Long Island an incredibly unlikely trip to Omaha and the World Series.
In the first game of the series, Stony Brook couldn't maintain one-run leads in the ninth, 10th and 11th innings and lost. In the second game, the Seawolves dominated in a 3-1 win. On Sunday, in game three, Stony Brook dominated. The charm of college sports is when Lehigh beats Duke, or when Stony Brook takes one of the power franchises of college baseball to the edge of the cliff. Great stuff.
b. Sports Quiz: The Stony Brook University baseball field is named after which major leaguer? (Answer below.)
c. I was about to write about how the Los Angeles Kings' playoff run brought back memories of the Edmonton Oilers. Not so fast. What a great playoff sport hockey is. And how great this one has been without fighting.
d. Al Michaels is getting very worried about his Kings. And the Devils are back in it, of course. But I still think it's going to be a huge challenge for New Jersey to take the next two. At some point, L.A.'s power play is going to get a huge goal. It's so much better than New Jersey's.
e. I sat in a downtown Seattle sports bar with my wife and daughter Saturday night, ping-ponging back and forth between Game 7 in the NBA and Game 5 in the NHL. Didn't know what to watch for about 20 minutes at crunch time of each.
f. Good for you, LeBron James.
g. The great thing about sports: America can sit out here and say some guys can't play in the clutch, and those guys have the opportunity to shut America up, as James did with 76 points in the two games after the Heat went down 3-2.
h. Rondo should shoot more threes. After the Eastern Conference Finals, I trust him in the clutch more than anyone on that team except Ray Allen. And I guess Allen might not be on that team much longer.
i. What if a no-hitter fell in the forest and no one was there to hear it? Would it make a sound?
j. I mean, was that six-pitcher no-hitter in Seattle Friday night, with most of the country in bed, the most invisible no-hitter ever?
k. Safeco: Still one of the best, and most comfortable, places in the world to watch a baseball game. Experienced it again Sunday afternoon.
l. Happy wedding, Jim Nantz.
m. Morose evening in TV land last night: Last episode of the first season of Veep.
n. Coffeenerdness: You'd think the coffee in Montana would be strong and dark. I had it in three places and, well, no. It's mostly nondescript and unnecessary, like the coffee on the Acela.
o. Beernerdness: Enjoyed Bent Nail IPA, from Red Lodge, Mont., on the Mountain Sky Property. Very hoppy and dark, with a big IPA taste.
p. Bailey and Anne Hathaway's dog are friends. They chat in the neighborhood. Via sniffing.
q. Answer to Sports Quiz: Joe Nathan Field, at Stony Brook University, is so named because the Texas relief pitcher played there -- and gave $500,000 to assist in the field's construction.
r. I turned 55 yesterday. Sure am going to miss adolescence, whenever that day comes.
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