-- Baltimore coach John Harbaugh, reaching to shake hands with Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin after the Steelers' upset of the Ravens Sunday, and trying to get Tomlin's attention as he quickly moved away. Tomlin, as you can see in the video above, looked like he wanted to be anywhere but shaking Harbaugh's hand. We'll find out why the Steelers coach was so put off by Harbaugh and/or the Ravens in the next day or two.
" 'The fog of war' is a kind term for what he's seeing right now.''
-- FOX analyst Brian Billick, on the incomprehensibly bad performance of Arizona quarterback Ryan Lindley midway through the third quarter (6 of 22, 48 yards, no touchdowns, one interception) in the Jets-Cards game.
"I would dare you to find someone that does."
-- Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, on WXYT Radio in Detroit, asked about wearing a cup to prevent the kind of kick to the groin that Ndamukong Suh inflicted on Matt Schaub.
Cups are passé in football after the high school level.
When former quarterback Sage Rosenfels texted the other day, "When was the last time a guy got injured and it cost him real time by getting hit in the nuts?" I answered: "I do not recall a single one.''
"The person yelling at you probably was picked last in dodgeball all through high school. So do you care about the opinion of them? No."
-- Jets linebacker Bart Scott, to Gary Myers of the New York Daily News, commenting on the fans who vociferously booed the Jets in the Thanksgiving night debacle of a loss to New England.
In the wake of the Cardinals' eighth straight loss, 7-6 to the Jets in New Jersey on Sunday, the professional frustration of Larry Fitzgerald has to be growing. And Ken Whisenhunt had to wonder on the flight home last night: "Do we have a quarterback on our roster who can complete a pass?"
Would we agree that Fitzgerald, outside, and Wes Welker, inside, are two of the best handful of receivers at their positions in the league? I think so. Let's examine how Fitzgerald has performed in the last three weeks, which have mostly featured struggling rookie Ryan Lindley at quarterback, versus Welker, with a slightly better quarterback, Tom Brady.
Welker caught 66.7 percent of the balls thrown his way in the last three weeks. Fitzgerald caught 19.2 percent of the balls thrown in his area code in the last three weeks.
Our new college football maven at I, Pete Thamel, told me a great little fact I didn't know for the "Sports Illustrated NFL Podcast with Peter King" this week that I wanted to pass along.
Russell Wilson transferred from North Carolina State to Wisconsin to play his last season in 2011 because he had a baseball career option and wouldn't commit to playing spring football for the Wolfpack. And coach Tom O'Brien wanted his quarterback to play spring football, which backup Mike Glennon would do. Add to that the fact that Glennon might have transferred with two seasons of eligibility left if Wilson had been the starting quarterback for his final year in 2011.
There was a method to O'Brien's madness: Wilson, as good as he'd been, had a year left to play. Glennon had two. O'Brien, without a top quarterback behind Glennon, knew he'd be in good shape at the position for two years if Glennon stayed.
When Wilson transferred, he didn't have to sit out a year because he'd already completed his undergrad degree work. So he had the great year at Wisconsin and got drafted 75th overall by the Seahawks. He's started all 12 Seattle games this season, and was the league's highest-rated quarterback in November.
Glennon, a 6-foot-6 prospect who should be picked in the top 50 of next April's draft, threw for 6,702 yards in two years, with 61 touchdowns and 26 interceptions.
Everything worked out great for all involved. Except, I guess, for O'Brien, who was fired last week. The 15-10 record in Glennon's two seasons wasn't good enough.
One of the best young wide receivers in football, Cecil Shorts III of the Jaguars, has to be the only starting player in football who has more than $50,000 in student loans to pay off.
"When I tell guys about my student loans,'' Shorts said Friday, "they go, 'Dang! You didn't get a full ride?' They're shocked.''
Shorts went to Mount Union (Ohio) College, an NCAA Division III school, which like its counterparts, doesn't give athletic scholarships. In Shorts' four years, tuition and fees added up to about $125,000 -- and he had to borrow more than half of that to make ends meet. He also had work-study jobs in the university's weight room, refereeing intramural basketball and mowing lawns on campus.
So now Shorts, though he's earning $493,000 in this, his second season in the league, will space out his payoff of the loan and begin to put away money for the rest of his life.
"It was good for me because I've had to work for everything I've ever gotten,'' Shorts said. "When I didn't get a Division I offer, I thought I let my family down. But it just motivated me to work harder than everyone else to get farther.'' And in the misery of a lost Jacksonville season, Shorts, his student loans and how he's become a deep threat helps form the kind of story this moribund franchise can be thankful for.
This is a San Antonio Spurs travel note, and a rebuke of the ridiculous $250,000 fine NBA commissioner David Stern gave. Before I get to that, notable $250,000 fines and above in the NFL this century:
To Ray Lewis in 2001, for his obstruction-of-justice conviction in connection with a double-homicide in Atlanta.
To the New England Patriots in 2007, for Spygate. (The team was docked a first-round pick, and Bill Belichick $500,000 for the scheme as well.)
To Tennessee owner Bud Adams in 2009, for flipping both middle fingers at some taunting fans during a Titans game.
The Spurs and coach Gregg Popovich got a $250,000 fine for resting four stalwart players on the fourth road game in five nights. I believe David Stern has a trophy waiting on his desk this morning, with the inscription: "Overreaction of the Year Award."
To give you some idea of the schedule of an NBA team and why Popovich would do this, look at their schedule in the last week:
Sunday: Day game at Toronto. Fly to Washington after the game. Arrive at hotel Sunday night.
Monday: Night game at Washington. Fly to Orlando after the game. Arrive at hotel after midnight.
Tuesday: Practice in Orlando.
Wednesday: Night game at Orlando. Travel to Miami after the game. Arrive at the hotel after midnight.
Thursday: Night game in Miami. Fly to San Antonio after the game. Arrive home after midnight.
Then, Saturday, the Spurs had to play the team with the best record in the league entering December, Memphis, at home.
Five games in five cities in seven days. Taking it back further, seven games in seven cities in 11 days. Popovich has a veteran team. Translation: old. And his responsibility is to his team, and not to TNT or the NBA. He should respect the league and the network televising the games, which he did by his team playing the a great game against the Heat and actually leading with a minute to go before losing.
I understand Stern trying to protect the best interests of the NBA. But in baseball, older star players get days off often, at least a couple a month. In football, many teams with nothing to play for in Week 16 or 17 (or both) take the week off. I'm sure the same thing happens in hockey. A coach should do what's best for his team, and if some fans are ticked off about it, I've got a suggestion for Stern: Don't ask teams to play a grueling sport four times in four cities in five nights.
"There are a lot of things in life that I'm proud of: West Point, serving my country, etc. But today, I'm proud that I was a KC Chief.''
-- @caleb_campbell, the West Point grad and 2011 member of the Chiefs' practice squad, tweeting Sunday night after Kansas City's emotional victory.
"After McElroy touchdown pass, Sanchez jots onto clipboard: 'Throw ... ball ... to ... players ... in ... green ... jerseys.' ''
-- @ProFootballTalk, PFT czar Mike Florio, after CBS cameras caught Mark Sanchez writing on a clipboard after Greg McElroy's touchdown pass on his first series as an NFL quarterback.
"here's a recap of yesterday's hearing 'blah blah blah blah bounty bulls**t still dragging on blah blah blah witchhunt blah blah blah blah' ''
-- @JonVilma51, the New Orleans linebacker playing while appealing his one-year suspension for involvement in the Saints' alleged bounty program, tweeting Saturday morning after witnessing Friday's bounty appeals in Washington under the direction of former commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
Reading between the blah-blah-blahs, sounds like there was some testimony Vilma thought was bulls**t.
"Please, somebody take the Big East behind the barn and put it out of its misery.''
-- StevePoliti, columnist for the Newark Star-Ledger, and coverer of said Big East, after the conference lost yet another member, Louisville, to the ACC on Wednesday.
As one press-box wag (me) wondered, what's next for forlorn, forgotten, unwanted UConn? The Atlantic Sun?