"You would have loved my daughter. She would have been at training camp, asking you some tough questions."
-- Sandy Phillips, the mother of slain Aurora, Colo. moviegoer Jessica Ghawi, to Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, when Manning called Phillips to express his sympathies for Jessica's death. Ghawi was a radio intern for sports station 104.3 The Fan in Denver and had a sports blog. She was an aspiring sports journalist.
"I am 1,000 percent a Steelers fan!''
-- Prospective Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III, in a 2010 interview with Bob Labriola of Steelers.com. Haslam is a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and if his purchase of the Browns from Randy Lerner does go through as league people have told me they think it will, he'll have to divest himself of the Steelers share.
Now, I'm not positive about this, but I have a feeling that 2010 quote might -- might -- not go over well in northeast Ohio.
AKA, Robert Griffin III Quotes of the Week
This guy's going to be fun. A sampling of his best stuff from his camp-opening press conference last week:
On being the face of the franchise:
"There's really no true face of the franchise because if we all just had faces, we'd all be dead.''
On tweeting during the season:
"As far as tweeting goes, probably not too much tweeting. We don't plan on losing that many games, but you can't tweet when you win, and not tweet when you lose, so you might as well just not tweet altogether."
On whether he has considered making a speech to the team:
"If I ever had to just sit back and tell those guys anything, it's you want to be certified. One thing I've talked to the rookies about before is if you're the baddest guy in your group, then you've got a problem. You don't need to be hanging out with guys that aren't as certified as you are, so we have got to make sure that everybody on this team is certified. And there's a word that comes after it, but I'm not going to say it in front of this mike. You have to be certified, and that lets everybody know that when you run up to the guy next to you, you're going to take care of business.''
Sounds quite certifiable.
"I think being a good football player is not necessarily how many good plays you make but how many bad plays you don't make. Anybody can make good plays. You wouldn't be in this league if you weren't capable of making good plays, but ... I think that you have to make the bad plays and then you learn from them. I've made plenty of those over the course of my career. You make them and you learn from them and you try not to repeat them. To be in the same system where we're running plays out here that I've run literally a thousand times, there's not a lot of mistakes that you make on those plays. Some of the other ones that you're trying new that you build on year after year, that's why you're out here practicing. I'm trying to eliminate mistakes just like everybody else.''
-- New England quarterback Tom Brady, who turns 35 Friday, on the key to playing good football late into a career.
"We brought Santonio here to be a receiver, not offensive coordinator."
-- Jets coach Rex Ryan, on wide receiver Santonio Holmes' public skepticism on the chances a two-quarterback system (Mark Sanchez/Tim Tebow) will work with the Jets.
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said last week that Charles Woodson will be moved on some downs to safety this season. But in checking with Pro Football Focus -- actually, it wasn't difficult to check, seeing that PFF poobah Neil Hornsby is traveling with me on the trip, and started tapping away on his HP laptop, and he had my answer in three minutes -- Woodson's "switch'' is not really going to be unusual for him. "We want him to play closer to the ball,'' McCarthy said. But he's already, in effect, played some safety for the Packers.
According to Pro Football Focus, Green Bay had 1,182 defensive plays in 17 games (including the playoff loss). Woodson played 1,068 of those plays. The breakdown of where Woodson played at the snap of the ball on those 1,068 plays is in the chart to the right. As you can see, the numbers say Woodson played safety last year, in the strict sense of the term, on 254 plays (198 at strong safety, 56 at free), a total of 23.8 percent of the defensive snaps. I'm not sure Woodson, at 35, is going to play an altogether different role this year than last.
The Arapahoe County (Colo.) Jail, where James Holmes is being housed in isolation, is 200 yards from the north end zone of the practice field where the Broncos hold training camp and where they practice during the regular season.
Last Monday, a couple of hours before Holmes was taken for his first court appearance in the case -- he is suspected of murdering 12 and wounding 58 -- Denver coach John Fox was driving to work at the Broncos training complex. He came upon a slew of police cars, lights flashing, and, he estimated, 40 TV satellite trucks. "I've been to Super Bowls, and I've never seen anything like the crush of people outside the jail,'' Fox said.
During training camp, the crowd noise from fans watching practice can be heard inside the jail facility, and sometimes during the season, when music or fake crowd noise is pumped onto the practice field, the inmates and guards can hear it.
I accomplished something relatively Olympian last week, on the same day of the Olympic opening ceremonies, that I do believe made Peter King travel history: I was in all four continental United States time zones in one 24-hour period. Elucidating:
Thursday, 10:15 p.m. Pacific Time: Depart Karl Strauss pub, San Diego airport, and fly east.
Friday, 6 a.m. Eastern Time: Arrive Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport. Have an oatmeal breakfast.
Friday 9 a.m. Central Time: Arrive New Orleans International Airport for day of Saints reporting.
Friday, 10:15 p.m. Mountain Time: Arrive Denver International Airport to report on Saturday's Broncos' practices.
Actually, that's a 23-hour period that I was mobile in the four time zones, seeing that it was 23 hours after leaving San Diego that I arrived on the ground in Denver.
"Nobody protects the punter like Tebow. Nobody."
-- @NYPost_Serby, needly columnist Steve Serby, on Friday, after watching Tim Tebow being used as the personal protector on the New York Jets' punt team. The up back, in other words.
" '@MichaelKoenen: Awesome day for an inspirational man in @team_gleason Half of me likes your statue;)' ...Very classy. From the 'punter' -- SG''
Follow me here, readers: In 2006, in the first game at the Superdome post-Katrina, Steve Gleason blocked a Michael Koenen punt and it was recovered for a touchdown, spurring the underdog Saints to a 23-3 win over the Falcons. Gleason now is struggling with ALS, and on Friday, owner Tom Benson (as I write about below) dedicated the statue he had commissioned to commemorate the blocked punt, calling it one of the keys to the revival of a team and the city. So Koenen tweeted at Gleason he was proud to be one-half of the bronze statue on the outside concourse of the 'Dome, and Gleason responded to Koenen that it was a classy move, which it certainly was.
"Brandon Moore teased Revis when he showed this morning in locker room: 'You're not supposed to be here.' #Jets"
-- @RichCimini of ESPN New York, the fine Jets beat writer, observing Moore, the Jets guard, chiding cornerback Darrelle Revis at the start of training camp Thursday. Revis had considered holding out with two years remaining on a four-year contract.
"If the President of the U.S. is saying I need to slide then I really need to start sliding. Lol. Thanks Mr. President!''
-- @MikeVick, after Barack Obama told Eagles teammate Nnamdi Asomugha at a recent event, "Tell Vick to slide."