1. I think this is my last word on the officials lockout: Roger Goodell got hired as commissioner, in part, because he was a consensus-finder, a bridge-builder. People who build bridges should be able to find a solution to this stalemate with the real game officials, because there is simply too much at stake not to find one.
The money involved is not a crippling sum. The bridge can be built, I'm told, with $12 million or $15 million over a seven-year period. That's simply not a big enough amount of money to have unqualified officials lord over games that could determine a playoff spot.
On my camp trip this week, one player told me: "Suppose the Cowboys lose a game because of an incompetent call in the first couple of weeks, and suppose that costs them the playoffs. We all know Jerry Jones would write a check tomorrow to end the lockout if he knew it would mean the difference in a win for his team.''
2. I think, now that NFL Network has been cleared to air on Cablevision systems, the big cable outfit in America left that's not showing the channel, or the RedZone channel, is Time Warner Cable. And it appears the standoff between the two sides will continue well into the future. "We are not talking, regrettable, so as a result, we're obviously not close,'' said NFL Media chief operating officer Brian Rolapp.
3. I think it's hard to blame Kevin Kolb for all of Arizona's offensive problems right now, because he's just not getting the protection a quarterback needs to have a chance. But he looks shaky. Very shaky. And deep down, I wouldn't be surprised if Ken Whisenhunt is thinking: What have I done in committing to Kolb?
The Raiders, in the person of defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, questioned Kolb after the game, saying he looked skittish. "That boy's scared,'' Kelly was quoted as saying by the Raiders' TV crew doing the game. Kolb was indignant when Darren Urban of cardinals.com found him Saturday. "Scared of what?" Kolb said. "Taking a hit? I have never been afraid of anyone on the field and that will never change. That includes Number 93 (Kelly). There's a fine line between holding in the pocket and trying to escape to make a play. Tommy Kelly is too clueless to know the difference. I don't mind people criticizing my play. Don't ever question my toughness."
Tell us how you really feel, though.
4. I think one way to look at my camp trip, defensively, is this: 21 camps, zero tackles. I didn't see one live tackling drill, and I doubt I'll see one today in Houston or Tuesday when I see the Cowboys and Chargers practice together. For as much as coaches want to work on tackling fundamentals, they're too scared of injury to do it.
5. I think the other thing I noticed is how many teams are in wide receiver trouble. Miami's in the biggest trouble. Seattle's in trouble. San Diego's thin. The Jets, especially without a banged-up Santonio Holmes being able to get on the field, could use help. The Rams are incredibly green, except for the slot (Danny Amendola) and whatever Steve Smith, formerly of the Giants and Eagles, has left.
6. I think you're not going to win the leverage game, Maurice Jones-Drew.
7. I think if Adrian Peterson plays Friday night against San Diego, eight months after reconstructive knee surgery, it'll be the biggest boost the Vikings have had since the approval of the new stadium by Minnesota voters. But we've come to expect the unexpected from Peterson. The Vikings, though, have to be careful that Peterson's not coming back too soon. They need him for 16 reals games, not one phony one.
8. I think if defensive end Chandler Jones isn't a bona fide star as a rookie in New England, you can shred my scouting card. (If you can find it, that is.) Maybe the most interesting thing out of New England, though, is that Ryan Mallett has had two training camps to beat out Brian Hoyer for the backup quarterback job, and when the Patriots start the season, Hoyer's very likely to be No. 2. If Mallett were a great player, I couldn't see this happening.
9. I think, for those who (rightfully) chided me last week for my nine uses of "EvoShield'' in the column, I accept your criticism of me using EvoShield excessively and promise I won't use EvoShield again except when absolutely necessary to use EvoShield. Kidding, kidding. Seriously -- I was excessive in my mentions of the firm.
Here's what happens at the this time of year: I write the column in chunks during training camp, and when I write something Tuesday night, I often don't recall everything exactly how it's written, so the thing I might write two nights later could include references that will appear redundant when the whole thing is read together. Again, my fault.
Anyway, for those who wondered about whether I get paid per mention of the protective-equipment company, I don't; I'm not paid at all by the company. Sports Illustrated and the company made a business deal to allow me to use their 30-foot van to travel around the country to NFL camps. In exchange for using the van to make the driving portion of my training camp trip, part of the deal was to refer to the trip as the "SI-EvoShield NFL Training Camp trip'' when I wrote about it in this column. Which I have done.
Now, regarding the question I asked Robert Griffin III about wearing the company's gear last week, I'll defend that journalistically, because the padding is a different, lighter, less obtrusive kind of rib padding that I think could be part of his story this year -- simply because if a 217-pound quarterback leaves the pocket a lot (which I believe Griffin will do) then how he is protected when he leaves the pocket, and the fact that this gear is new and different from the NFL norm, could end up being significant. And that's whether he plays out the year uninjured or misses time because of injury. That's probably more than you wanted to know, but in the interest of full disclosure, there it is.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. I plead guilty to being an old man smitten with Bruce Springsteen. Guilty as charged -- plenty.
b. I saw Bruce Tuesday night at Fenway Park on a busman's holiday from visiting camps. Such a different show, and not just because it's the first time I'd heard him do stuff from Wrecking Ball. But he did Rosalita (hadn't heard that in a while live) and killed it with Twist and Shout at the end. Two great touches: the tributes to the late Johnny Pesky, the Red Sox legend who died last week (they shine a solitary light on the Pesky Pole, the right field foul pole), and to Clarence Clemons. The first time I saw Springsteen, on April Fools Day 1976 in Memorial Auditorium in Athens, Ohio, I stood four rows from Clemons and his sax. Now Clarence's nephew, Jake, is the sax man. And he's incredibly and emotionally capable. Really fun 3.5-hour night.
c. And at Gillette Stadium Saturday night, my buddy and Springsteenaholic Brian Hyland, who saw Bruce Tuesday and Saturday (he's been to about 200 Bruce shows), reported from the parking lot at Foxboro: "Tonight was the greatest ever."
d. I'm half-tormented about the televising of children playing baseball, and I'm slightly troubled by exposing kids to the fame that nationally televising the Little League World Series can do. But I have to say those two Friday catches by the Canadian team gave me chills. It's just charming to see kids do great things and to exult the way they do.
e. Kudos to the Indiana Little Leaguers and their parents for mobilizing a clothing, equipment and money drive for the Ugandan Little League team at the Little League World Series. That's a beautiful thing you Hoosiers did.
f. Speaking of charitable Hoosiers, check out the picture of young Eli Six, posing with me and the glove Robert Mathis gave him at the end of Indianapolis Colts practice Friday. The Colts were excellent with their time post-practice; Andrew Luck signed and talked to kids for 25 minutes, one of 25 or so players to interact with fans after practice. That's one of the great benefits of training camps being at camp sites away from the team practice facilities.
g. I'm halfway rooting for the Orioles the rest of the way after that horrendous reversal of a correct call helped Detroit beat Baltimore the other night in Detroit. Brutal call. Mark Reynolds and Buck Showalter deserve to be rip-roaring mad over it.
h. There aren't many more enjoyable and informative voices on the radio than NPR's Sylvia Poggioli.
i. Beernerdness: I think now that I've sampled most of the Kansas City-area barbeque places, I'll take Oklahoma Joe's. Terrific pork barbeque. And what makes it even better is Boulevard Wheat on tap. Throw a lemon in there, and that's one great beer.
j. Coffeenerdness: Never been so happy to see a Starbucks than I was at 5:40 a.m. Friday in Effingham, Ill., after 95 minutes on the early-morning road from St. Louis to Anderson, Ind. And I didn't catch their names, but the Effingham Starbucks has a friendly, welcoming and fast couple of baristas working at that hour. Nice oatmeal too, ladies.
k. The SI college football preview cover (at least one of the regional ones) couldn't belong to a nicer guy. Good luck this year, Matt Barkley. See you at a training camp next summer.
l. Derek Jeter with 250 home runs. Don't know why, but that strikes me as a terrific accomplishment for a guy never known for power. To have more homers than Roberto Clemente (240), Sal Bando (242), Hack Wilson (244) and Don Mattingly (222) -- that's saying something.
m. I might be the lone member of the Frank Herrmann fan club (I coached the daughter of his high school coach in girls softball in New Jersey), but I have to give the Cleveland bullpenner a shoutout for his outing the other night. Got Mike Trout to hit into a double play, and got Albert Pujols to fan looking. How about this Springsteen Memorial Jersey At-Bat: Herrmann (Rutherford) pitching to Trout (Millville), with Phil Cuzzi (Nutley) behind the dish ... in Anaheim. On the Herrmann-Pujols at-bat, Cuzzi rung up Pujols on a 3-2 fastball on the outside corner that Pujols didn't think was a strike. It's Jersey, baby.
n. Good to see you, Kara Henderson. Glad you're so happy.
o. Thinking of you, Paul Needell.
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