"There are a lot of role models. There just aren't a lot of good ones."
-- Tim Tebow, speaking to a Father's Day crowd at Qualcomm Stadium Sunday, according to U-T San Diego, on the state of sporting role models today.
"I think Sean [Payton] would be very, very proud with this coaching staff. I think Sean would be very, very proud of the job the support staff has done, from the trainers to equipment men to the cinematographers. When Sean left here there was one mandate: Do your job. And these guys have definitely done their job ... We're really, really looking forward to going to training camp. This might be the most talented football team that we have had since we've been here.''
-- Saints interim coach Joe Vitt, as New Orleans' OTA period ended last week.
"Yes, we thought that he would clear. It's rare but it's not the first time something like that has happened. It's disappointing for us that we didn't get him back. He did a tremendous job for us and we hope he gets well soon and that he can finish his career, whether it's with New England or whatever team he ends up with. It was disappointing, but that does happen, every blue moon ... I could explain it, but I don't want to explain it because it's really irrelevant at this point ... It's really pointless for me at this point to try explain it to people ... It's rare that somebody takes a guy under these conditions off the waiver wire, but it happened and we wish Jake all the best.''
-- Giants GM Jerry Reese, to Sirius/XM NFL Radio, on losing tight end Jake Ballard by exposing him to waivers because the team didn't expect him to play this year. Ballard is recovering from knee surgery. But the New England Patriots claimed him.
1. I've never heard of the so-called "unwritten rule'' that claims if you're trying to sneak an injured player through waivers that the other 31 teams should leave him alone. All's fair in love and waivers. It's patently absurd to suggest the Patriots, for whatever reason, shouldn't have picked up Ballard. If there's a rule in place that says a player exposed to waivers can be claimed by another team -- and there certainly is -- then it's folly to think the Patriots somehow screwed the Giants. New England did the smart thing in picking up a potential 2013 contributor for very little.
2. Reese should have owned up to the mistake. He blew it. He was sure no one would invest $540,000 in a player almost sure not to play this year. All it would have cost the Giants to keep Ballard would have been to keep him on the 90-man roster into August. Rosters have been at 80 men until this year, when they were expanded to 90. You cannot tell me it's worth it to the Giants to expose Ballard to waivers to save, for instance, the 22 undrafted college free agents from 2011 and 2012 that the Giants have -- by my count -- on their current training camp roster. They should have sacrificed one of those, if need be, to keep Ballard.
3. A few of you have asked why the Patriots would even want Ballard, seeing that they already have two excellent tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Well, the Patriots play two tight ends on nearly every offensive snap; last year, Gronkowski and Hernandez each played more than 1,000 offensive plays. You can't count on them to stay healthy, and New England needs a solid third tight end (and maybe a fourth) to play all the schemes in its playbook. And if New England signs Ballard for the third-year tender price of $640,000, that means it will have paid $1.17 million, total, for 2012 and 2013 to employ a good tight end in the hope he can help next season. Maybe he can't. But the gamble seems worth it for a guy who made so many big catches for the Giants in the last two months of the season last year.
4. For those who say, "It doesn't matter, because the Giants will find a tight end,'' I say: You're probably right. It's an exceedingly smart scouting staff, and Reese is an excellent GM. Point is, they didn't want to lose Ballard, and good teams and smart front offices shouldn't make mistakes like that.
When the Chiefs worked out Brian Banks this month, they put him through a scouting combine type of workout, designed to see exactly what kind of athlete he was and potential he had. Banks measured at 6-2 ˝ and 239 pounds. He ran a 4.77-second 40-yard dash.
There were 33 linebackers at the Scouting Combine in February; 29 ran the 40-yard dash. Banks, who hadn't worked out seriously before being exonerated May 24 because he never thought he'd ever have a chance to play pro football after 10 years away from the game, ran a faster 40 than eight of the 29 prospects, including running faster than five of the inside linebackers running for their NFL lives in Indianapolis.
So I waited for Banks to call Friday. He was supposed to call early in the afternoon, but he didn't, and I wondered if he'd forgotten. Finally, at 6:40 p.m. Eastern time, 3:40 in southern California, where he lives, Banks rang from his car. He sounded a little out of breath.
Turns out he'd been working out with Jay Glazer, the FOX analyst and mixed martial arts trainer, trying to make up for lost time in strength, speed and conditioning work.
It's a sign of the respect so many players have for Glazer that, with this being the best long-shot chance he'd have at a football career, Banks turned to Glazer to get him ready as quickly as possible for his tryout this week with the 49ers.
Did you hear the one about the man in South Dakota who murdered a high-school classmate 55 years after the classmate pulled a jockstrap over his head as a practical joke? Carl Ericsson, of Watertown, S.D., walked to the front door of the ex-classmate, Norman Johnson, and shot him twice. According to the Associated Press, Ericsson told the judge in the case in May that he guesses he shot him "because of something that happened over 50 years ago. It was apparently in my subconscious.''
It's hard to fathom, unless you're there, the level of enmity the fine people of Seattle have for the departed Sonics-turned-Thunder. Walking around the city last Monday and Tuesday, I saw maybe a dozen people wearing T-shirts with the old Sonics logo -- the skyline of Seattle, with the Space Needle -- in green and gold Sonics colors, with the word "Robbed" underneath the logo. Seattle, in fact, might be rooting harder in this series for the Heat than the denizens of Miami. Amazing to hear the anger the city still feels over losing the basketball team to Oklahoma City.
"Ever sit through a bad movie or read 200 pages of complete garbage & feel like you've just wasted a few hours of your life?''
-- @scottfujita99, the former Saints and current Browns linebacker, apparently not impressed with the level of evidence in the 200 pages of documentation the NFL shared with the players who are appealing their bounty-related suspensions with commissioner Roger Goodell today.
"Why baseball doesn't have instant replay for plays at the plate is beyond me. It's a scoring play. It takes two minutes. Just use it."
-- @richeisen, the NFL Network host, presumably after watching a bad call at home late in the 3-3 Yankees-Nationals game Saturday, extending the game from what should have been a nine-inning game to what became a 14-inning game. Say it, Rich.
SI Now Live Friday December 20, 2013
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