Special Teams Player of the Week
Seattle WR/PR Golden Tate. This is a make-or-break third NFL season for Tate in Seattle, and he showed a good sign Friday night in Kansas City: His 92-yard punt return for a touchdown gave Pete Carroll reason to think Tate's going to help in the return game if soon-to-be 30-year-old Leon Washington goes down.
Defensive Player of the Week
Minnesota DE Jared Allen. What a first half for Allen against the Chargers: two sacks of San Diego quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, and a tackle in the backfield of Chargers running back Edwin Baker that nearly resulted in a safety. The tackle did result in a sore elbow for Allen, who was miked for sound, and NFL Network played a clip of Allen saying to linebacker Chad Greenway, "Why do they call it your funny bone? It's not so funny."
Coach of the Week
Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano. In the span of a month, without top pass rusher Da'Quan Bowers, Schiano and defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan have put a tough stamp on their defense. On Friday night, Tom Brady and one of the NFL's three best offenses had the ball nine times. Five times Brady went three-and-out; once four-and-out. He had two long touchdown drives. By the time Ryan Mallett came in to replace Brady, the Bucs led 30-14.
Offensive Player of the Week
Seattle QB Russell Wilson. After his 13-of-19 night at Kansas City Friday, Wilson's three-game stat line puts GM John Schneider, decried for picking Wilson too high at 75th overall last April, in the early running for Exec of the Year:
"There is no sleeping around here."
-- Colts coach Chuck Pagano, after Indy traded a second- and conditional sixth-round pick in 2013 to Miami to acquire cornerback Vontae Davis.
"Do you want to punch me in the face?''
-- Boomer Esiason, former Jets quarterback and current morning drive radio host on WFAN in New York, upon welcoming Jets quarterback Tim Tebow to the set during a Thursday morning broadcast live from Jets camp in New Jersey.
Esiason has said the Jets should cut Tebow because his presence is a distraction, and Esiason doesn't think he's a quality NFL quarterback.
Tebow said no, followed not long after by "God bless you."
-- A scout for the Oakland A's, writing in his 2009 scouting report about 17-year-old Mike Trout, under the section of the report entitled "Body Type,'' according to this week's magnificent cover story in Sports Illustrated on Trout by Tom Verducci.
"There has never been a position player this good this young,'' Verducci writes. The best anecdotes are about Trout the athlete and Trout the competitor. He called home one night on a lark bowling outing with friends and said to his mother, "Mom, guess what? I bowled a 300!''
Trout in 105 games this year: 100 runs scored, 24 homers, 41 steals.
"Thanks for listening to me. You and your family have a very nice day."
-- Bart Starr, at the close of our interview about Hall of Fame nominee Dave Robinson on Saturday.
I wonder now, and I've wondered after my six or eight encounters with Starr over the years: Has a classier man played in the NFL?
Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones in 5.5 quarters of play this summer: 13 catches, 240 receiving yards, 18.5 yards per catch.
I'm a week late on this, so let's call it the Stat of (Last) Week. But it's so interesting I wanted to make sure you didn't miss it in the absolute avalanche of good football data and stories as we approach the season.
Bill Barnwell, a writer for Grantland.com who I respect greatly, did a mortality study comparing retired baseball players with retired football players. He compared players in both sports who played at least five professional seasons between 1959 and 1988. There were 1,494 baseball players and 3,088 football players. Of the baseball players, 238 have died. Of the football players, 394 have died.
That means 15.9 percent of the major leaguers who played in the three decades of the study have died, which is more than the 12.8 percent of football players who died.
This comes on the heels of the March news from the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety, which reported retired football players were living longer than people in the general population.
This is a nascent subject in society right now, but at the very least it appears a faulty premise that football players, who have thought for years that they were taking years off their lives by playing the sport professionally, actually die earlier than the average Joe who watches at home. The NIOSH study said former players lived longer than the general population, and Barnwell's valuable study suggested a cross-section of football players lived longer than their baseball counterparts--also a surprising piece of evidence. There are sure to be more studies, but Barnwell's unexpected findings contribute valuable data to an emotional subject.
Remember Ernie Zampese? He's a former offensive coordinator for the Rams, Chargers, Cowboys and Patriots. Now 76, he lives in San Diego, and was a visitor to Chargers-Cowboys practice Tuesday at the San Diego practice facility.
Zampese used to smoke three packs of cigarettes a day. In 2002, he had a stroke, and the first seven days after the stroke are a blur to him. But when he began to get his wits about him, he realized he didn't want to smoke anymore. He had no desire to smoke anymore. His doctors think the part of his brain that signaled his desire for a cigarette somehow shut down due to the stroke.
"To this day, I don't want a cigarette,'' he said.
And he honestly believes if he hadn't suffered the stroke, he would have kept smoking to excess, and there's a good chance he'd be dead today.
Derrick Mason retired in June with more receptions, 943, than any of the 21 wide receivers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame except Jerry Rice.
On my final camp stop, in San Diego to see the Cowboys on Tuesday, I stayed at a hotel I'd never heard of: the Andaz. "What's Andaz?'' I asked our SI travel agent. It's the boutique-y Hyatt hotel, I was told. "Like a W,'' the travel agent said. And because it was significantly cheaper than any of the other brand hotels downtown, I took it.
I'm not a fan of dark hotels. I don't understand them, first of all. Who favors dimly lit rooms? Arriving close to midnight, I saw how W-ish it was, with pillows and comfy chairs in the lobby. I was checked in by a man using his iPad. Then I went upstairs to my room, to write my Chicago Bears scouting report/team preview for the magazine's NFL preview issue. (I wrote eight of them for the preview, and being on the road for much of a month, a person has to work at some odd hours to get things done.)
I looked all around the desk. Couldn't find a light. No light on the desk. "#$%^&*@#$!!!'' I said, or something like that, and then turned on every 40-watt-bulb lamp in the place (exaggerating, but it wasn't too bright in there). So I finished my work by candlelight, shut the computer, and accidently touched what I'd thought was some silver sculpture or piece of curved art on the desk. And a light went on. The silver thing was a light, and I officially was a dufus.
I'm probably more a Marriott TownePlace Suites or Spring Hill Suites guy on the training camp road. There, I know how to turn on the lights.
Imagine how the late Matthew Ianniello would have felt if he could have seen a copy of his New York Times obituary before he died, particularly the first 73 words of it. I think it might have put him in a bit of a whacking mood.
What a fine legacy Matthew Iannello left on the planet.
The first paragraph of the obituary of the former organized crime figure in the Friday Times, written by Paul Vitello:
"Matthew Ianniello, the low-key reputed Genovese crime boss known as 'Matty the Horse,' who was convicted of rigging construction bids, skimming union dues and wringing protection money from bar owners, pornography peddlers and topless dancers during a half-century career that, among other highlights, helped transform Times Square into the dingy world capital of peep shows in the 1960s and '70s, died on Aug. 15 at his home in Old Westbury, on Long Island. He was 92.''
Kill him with kindness, Paul.
"If u don't like it buy ur own team and try to make the playoffs 9 season n a row n put together 7 straight 12 win seasons n a row as Owner!"
-- @JimIrsay, the owner of Colts, indignant that some fans were ripping him for tweeting several times that the Colts were engaged in trade talks, implying that he sounds like the boy who cried wolf for the tweets and no trade happening. It finally did on Sunday.
"Dramatic decision coming for South Florida NBC affiliates as overhyped forces collide. Tebow or Isaac?''
-- @EthanJSkolnick of the Palm Beach Post, as Tim Tebow entered the Jets-Panthers preseason game Sunday night, and the Gulf Coast prepared for Hurricane Isaac.
"Adrian Gonzalez is the Dodgers 1st baseman, an O'Malley owns the Padres. Other than that a very normal yr in baseball''
-- @MartyCaswell, producer/reporter for XX1090 Sports Radio in San Diego.
"Apparently the Dodgers front office doesn't get NESN."
-- @AndrewCatalon, a sports anchor at WNYT-TV in Albany, N.Y.
Meaning: The Dodgers dealt with the Red Sox to acquire, among others, the tremendously disappointing Josh Beckett and just-regular disappointing Carl Crawford, and NESN telecasts most of the Red Sox games.
"Jeter barks at Kluber after hit in head. Never seen him yell at P b4. I wonder if Skip Bayless will think that is roid rage? #Yankees"
-- @JoelSherman1, columnist for the New York Post, after Derek Jeter was hit by Cleveland pitcher Corey Kluber Friday. Skip Bayless, with no reason to do so, questioned on ESPN whether Jeter might be using performance-enhancing drugs because he is having a transcendent season at age 38.
Ryan Getzlaf leads Ducks past Stars 3-2 in Game 2
Pavel Datsyuk's late goal leads Red Wings to Game 1 win over Bruins