Free agency is 24 years old. Since the dawn of it, I don’t remember a year (because there hasn’t been one) with the same combined level of depth at quarterback in the free market and in the draft.
It’s amazing, really. We could see four quarterbacks (Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield) picked in the top 10 in the April draft. By the end of April, six of the NFL’s 12 top-rated quarterbacks from 2017 could either move on or begin to be moved out by their teams.
Alex Smith (first, with a 104.7 rating) will be traded from Kansas City to Washington, and will sign a four-year contract extension when the new league year begins March 14 … Drew Brees (second, 103.9) will likely re-sign with the Saints, but he’s free to sign anywhere come the start of free agency on March 14 … Case Keenum (seventh, 98.3) hopes to parlay a career year into a starting job and multiyear contract … Philip Rivers (ninth, 96.0) turns 37 this year, and could see the Chargers draft his heir, even coming off a very good year … Josh McCown (11th, 94.5) will be 39 in July, but coming off a career year, he could keep the seat warm for the Jets or another team drafting a quarterback of the future … Kirk Cousins (12th, 93.9) will be the most attractive vet on the street—assuming Washington doesn’t try to franchise him and trade him, which is possible but not likely.
So, in my first column this winter looking ahead to the offseason, I’m going to do the impossible: guess where each available quarterback will land. On May 1, after free agency and the draft, we’ll all have a good laugh over this column. Because I’ll be wrong on the vast majority, and maybe all. But we’ll go in order, and we’ll go by need.
Again, what follows are my team-by-team best guesses. Send me your pros and cons and best counter-arguments, and I’ll use my mailbag this week to give you your say on who’s going where.
Denver: Kirk Cousins. GM John Elway has made one mega-signing in his tenure: Peyton Manning, in 2012, when Elway was in desperate quarterback straits. To solve this problem again, I say Elway goes big. Cousins isn’t flawless, but he’s got seven or eight prime years left (he’s 29), and has put a premium on going somewhere he can win, somewhere with a good defense, and somewhere he can walk into the building every day excited about going to work. The Broncos, coming off a 5-11 year, haven’t had back-to-back losing seasons since 1971 and 1972, and my bet is on Elway, even at the ridiculous sum of something like $30 million a year, going hard after Cousins to make sure he doesn’t have to keep worrying about the position. In the last two years, Denver has employed the 23rd- and 29th-rated quarterback, Trevor Siemian. Elway’s had enough of mediocrity. One other thing that will play a role: Elway’s willingness to whack a couple of big-ticket defenders, Aqib Talib and Derek Wolfe, from a tight cap situation. It could play a role in clearing enough cap room to fit Cousins onto the roster.
Arizona: A.J. McCarron. This would, of course, break Hue Jackson’s heart. But I just think the alternatives for McCarron are these: Go to Cleveland, and risk the Browns drafting a quarterback high in the first round, and risk being in the same place he was in Cincinnati, behind Andy Dalton, for the next three or four years … or go to Arizona (or another spot that won’t draft a passer high) and be handed the starting job on a team with a playoff defense. Not a very tough choice in my mind. Of course, when you’re guessing, no choice is very hard. Also: I wouldn’t be surprised to see Arizona focus on Sam Bradford and pick a rookie in the first or second round to supplement him.
• BENOIT: A 2018 free agency guide and tracker, with rankings of players at each position
Cleveland: Sam Darnold and Sam Bradford. The reason Browns GM John Dorsey wanted Alex Smith, or even McCarron or another veteran, is because he wants to be competitive from the start this season. You sign Bradford because you know as long as he stays healthy (Ten days? Ten games?), he’s a top-12-caliber quarterback. But he’s played more than seven games in just two of the last five seasons, and so the Browns won’t be guaranteed anything except some sleepless nights if they sign Bradford. But no matter which veteran Cleveland gets (and McCarron is certainly a strong prospect here), Dorsey will backstop with a rookie, and Darnold, who needs a large dose of development, would be fine with a year or more of clipboard-holding.
New York Jets: Baker Mayfield and Josh McCown. To say that McCown made a positive impact on the Jets in his gap year would be a major understatement. He’s a selfless coach on the field, and he would love to spend 2018 doing what he tried to do in 2014 in Cleveland, when he was there to usher Johnny Manziel into the ranks of respectable NFL starter. We know what happened then, and it wasn’t McCown’s fault. Mayfield is a marvelous talent, if a bit of a wild colt. He’d be a great fit with McCown and new and imaginative offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates. And McCown can play (combined 90.8 rating over his last three seasons) until Mayfield’s ready. Now, here’s the other thing about the Jets. Everyone in the league knows they love Cousins, will hotly pursue Cousins, and could get Cousins. It would not surprise me at all. Bates would be a perfect teacher for him, because he has so much in common with his mentors in Washington, particularly Kyle Shanahan. So if I did this exercise two weeks from now, who knows? I could give Keenum to Denver and Cousins to the Jets.
New Orleans: Drew Brees and Luke Falk. I can’t see Brees, 39, going elsewhere. I see him playing out his last two or three years (or more) with Sean Payton, particularly with the Saints being on the cusp of another competitive run. Falk? Precision passer (69, 70, 67 percent accurate in his last three years at Washington State) who could use some development. You know who wouldn’t surprise me here? Tyrod Taylor. I think Payton could do very good things with him. By the way, I hear Payton loves Mayfield too. Hard to imagine, though, that Payton and GM Mickey Loomis could move up high enough from their first-round slot (27th overall) to get in position to get Mayfield.
New York Giants: Josh Allen. It could be Darnold or Josh Rosen too, obviously. Much smarter NFLers than me told me in the last few days that they think GM Dave Gettleman will pass on a quarterback to fill another major need at number two overall, and I don’t doubt it. But the Giants have a 37-year-old quarterback who has been average at best for the past six years, and I don’t see New York passing on a good quarterback crop when the chance to get the next long-termer is there. Allen’s the kind of big, strong, developmental player (though his accuracy could be a big issue) who would be a good pupil under Eli Manning and Pat Shurmur for the next couple of years. Or less.
• THE MMQB BIG BOARD: A non-quarterback tops our list of the top 50 NFL draft prospects right now
Minnesota: Case Keenum and Teddy Bridgewater. This is too safe. I sort of hate it. Keenum will likely be more inclined to go somewhere with no summer competition for the starting job (Buffalo?), but he also knows his team intimately here, and he knows (or should know) how he’d flourish under new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo. Bridgewater … I have no idea. What do you make of a guy who hasn’t played for two years, and who was not a sure long-term thing the last time he played? Seems the comfort-level play for him would be to stay for an incentive-laden deal.
Buffalo: Josh Rosen. The musical chairs are getting scarce. This could be a McCarron, Keenum or Bradford spot too. If Denver gets Cousins, I could see Elway dealing his one (fifth overall) for Buffalo’s two first-round picks (21, 22) and another high pick this year or next—I could see Tampa Bay, Chicago, Oakland and San Francisco at seven through 10 in round one doing the same—to allow Buffalo to jump up and get a good quarterback prospect.
New England: Kyle Lauletta. I write about the Pats and Lauletta later in the column. But this is a year New England has to do what it did in 2014: find the heir to Tom Brady, who turns 41 in August. I can see the future now. In February 2022, I’m writing this column, and I’m writing new Patriots head coach Josh McDaniels saying, “Well, we know Tom just won the MVP, and he looks great even though he’s 45, but we’ve got to look out for the future too.”
Jacksonville: Mason Rudolph. The Jags will say all the right things about Blake Bortles, and actually mean a few of them. But they’ve got to backstop the position. Rudolph should still be there late in round one.
Keeping Their Eyes Open
Baltimore: Lamar Jackson. Joe Flacco’s last three years: 20-22, 52 touchdowns, 40 picks. Meh. Time to look around, and the versatile Jackson could be a weapon even when he’s not an every-down quarterback.
Miami: Tyrod Taylor. Never know about Ryan Tannehill, from either an injury or a talent perspective. Taylor will fare well under mechanics specialist Adam Gase.
LA Chargers: Mike White. Wild guess. Good arm. The Chargers might find a third-rounder this year they believe is a good student of the game who could learn well from Philip Rivers for the next two or three years.
• KLEMKO: The last time Baker Mayfield was a rookie—Looking back at the quarterback’s stint at Texas Tech
So Nick Foles stays in Philadelphia, Jacoby Brissett stays in Indianapolis. I think I’ve answered all your questions now. Also, if you’d like, I could advise you on some really great Lotto numbers I’ve got for tonight.
I get the Saquon Barkley hype. I don’t get picking a back that high
The recent history of rookie running backs suggests to me that picking Barkley, the Penn State star and very highly rated running back, in the top five would be … well, I won’t call it a mistake. Because a great player is a great player. But I am saying the history of this position shows a team might be much better off solving its needs at another position and getting the back later in the draft.
2017: Offensive rookie of the year Alvin Kamara was the 67th overall pick, the fifth back selected. NFL rushing champion Kareem Hunt was the 86th overall pick, the sixth back taken.
2016: Jordan Howard, the 10th back chosen and 150th overall pick, finished second in rushing as a rookie. The 13th back picked, Alex Collins, has developed into the Ravens’ number one and a stalwart back.
2015: Seventh running back picked: David Johnson (86th overall), who led the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2016 with 2,118 … Thirteenth running back picked: Jay Ajayi, 149th overall.
2014: Devonta Freeman (ninth back picked, 103rd overall) is the Falcons’ franchise back.
And so on.
ESPN’s Todd McShay has Barkley as his highest-rated player in the draft. “Adrian Peterson is the last back I gave a higher grade to,” McShay told me. “But I hear you. The question I would ask is, say I needed a pass-rusher—really needed one. Would I pass on [North Carolina State’s] Bradley Chubb to take Barkley in the top five, then try to get a rusher near the top of the second round? If you’re picking 33, 35, 38 [overall], I can tell you that you’ll have a chance to get a running back with a first-round grade who will be very productive for you. But the pass-rushers may be gone by then.”
• ROHAN: If Giants legend Harry Carson had to do it all over again, he wouldn't play football
I’m not ignoring the greatness of Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette and Todd Gurley, all of whom were top-10 picks and have played great. But the average overall pick for Kamara, Hunt and David Johnson—each of whom are either franchise backs or verging on that title—was number 80. I just think smart teams can solve franchise-player needs high in the first round elsewhere, and get a very good back down the line. History backs it up.
Any clues about the next Garoppolo for New England?
New England picks 31st, 41st or 42nd (it will be San Francisco’s pick, and a coin flip will determine which of these slots the Patriots will own) and 63rd. You’ve got to think sometime between 31 and 63, New England gets its new Garoppolo, the long-term replacement for Father Time, aka Tom Brady.
Todd McShay of ESPN thinks either Luke Falk of Washington State or Kyle Lauletta of Richmond could fit the bill for New England somewhere after the top 30 picks. McShay says: “Highly driven, very intelligent, accurate passers who both lived in the pocket, very good at going through their progressions. Lauletta has a slightly bigger arm, and he was impressive in how he carried himself at the Senior Bowl.”
The Senior Bowl is where each man got noticed. In 2014, A.J. McCarron dropped out of the Senior Bowl, and the first alternate at quarterback was Garoppolo, who hustled to Mobile after playing in the East-West game the previous Saturday. By week’s end, writing about the 10 most impressive in Senior Bowl practices, former NFL safety Matt Bowen listed Garoppolo as his most impressive player of the week. In 2018, Lauletta was an unheralded FCS player behind the more storied Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield. But Lauletta was the Senior Bowl’s biggest star, completing eight of 12 passes for 198 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Eric Edholm of Pro Football Weeklywrote about Lauletta at the Senior Bowl, and Lauletta told Edholm he’s been compared to Garoppolo a lot, and thinks he’d fit with the Patriots because he “processes information well.”
Comparing the numbers between the two:
Jimmy Garoppolo 2014 Kyle Lauletta 2018 School Eastern Illinois Richmond Level of play FCS (I-AA) FCS (I-AA) Height 6'2 ¼" 6'2 ½" Weight 226 217 Arm length 31.00 30.75 Hand size 9.25 inches 9.62 inches 40 time 4.97 seconds 4.85 (estimated) Accuracy 62.8% career 63.5% career Draft pick 63rd overall TBD
Whomever the Patriots pick—assuming it’s a draft choice they use to take their long-term development quarterback and heir to Brady—you can bet Josh McDaniels will have a lot to say about the process. It’s McDaniels whose head-coaching prospects could be tied most closely to the quarterback who succeeds Brady.
• ORR: NFL franchise tag watch for Le’Veon Bell, Sammy Watkins and many more
Good Job, Dolphins
After the murderous rampage that left 17 dead in Parkland, Fla., about 20 minutes from the Dolphins' training facility and offices in Davie, Fla., the Miami owner, Stephen Ross, authorized the donation of $100,000 to a GoFundMe page for the survivors of the mass shooting, pushing the charitable donations past $1 million. But that wasn't all the organization did.
The morning after the shootings, Miami's assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi felt he had to act. Rizzi, a former college assistant at Rutgers, used to recruit south Florida. He became friendly with a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High coach, Elliott Bonner, and another Douglas assistant, Aaron Feis. Rizzi stayed close to Bonner, and when he visited campus recently, Feis gave him a ride on a golf cart out out to see Bonner elsewhere on the expansive campus.
On the day of the shooting, Rizzi heard Feis’s name as one of the victims. He heard Feis might have been killed shielding a student or students. Rizzi felt sick about it. So at a staff meeting the morning after, he told the coaches he was taking up a collection for Feis’s widow, and anything they could do would be appreciated. As the day went on, others in the building heard about the collection, and Dolphins employees stopped by Rizzi's office. What blew him away was a couple of interns in the building handing him $10 and $20 toward the cause.
By the end of the day, Rizzi collected $17,500, and he drove to Parkland to give the money to Aaron Feis’s brother, Ray Feis. From some coaches to the family of another, it was a terrific gesture.
Quotes of the Week
“I think he will play in the major leagues.”
—Mets GM Sandy Alderson on Tim Tebow, who is in the team’s camp this spring, via Mike Puma of the New York Post. Tebow, 30, hit .226 in Single-A ball for the Mets in 2017.
“It starts off as a normal conversation and then it turns into tears. And I simply just say, ‘I understand. Trust me, I’ve been in Philly. I get it.’”
—Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” talking about meeting long-time fans of the Eagles who can’t quite muster the ability to have a normal conversation with the man who has delivered a dream,
“I think we’ve got a great young quarterback. I think that’s enough to be excited about. I think a lot of our center (Rodney Hudson). I think the quarterback-center battery is as good as I’ve ever had in football. I’m really excited about the two guards (Kelechi Osemele, Gabe Jackson), obviously. That’s the strength of this team.”
—Raiders coach Jon Gruden, to Jerry McDonald of Bay Area News Group.
“There’s a sameness to the reaction of politicians to mass shootings. Especially if you are a politician who has received donations from the National Rifle Association.”
—CNN’s Anderson Cooper, after the slaughter of 17 people at a Florida high school last week.
“I calculated once how many times I fell during my skating career—41,600 times. But here’s the funny thing: I got up 41,600 times. That’s the muscle you have to build in your psyche: the one that reminds you to just get up.”
—Scott Hamilton to Juliet Macur of the New York Times, on how he reacted to being demoted from NBC’s number one skating analyst team at the Olympics, with the rise of Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski.
Scott, you’re the man.
Stat of the Week
Have I mentioned I love how the Steelers do business? Club chairman Art Rooney II shut down any talk of replacing coach Mike Tomlin soon after the season, despite the disappointing loss to the Jaguars in the playoffs—Pittsburgh’s second home defeat to Jacksonville in the 2017 season. Losses like that one are dispiriting, to be sure, but the Steelers are the Steelers. The 2018 season will complete a stunning half century of football. In those 50 seasons, Pittsburgh will have had three head coaches.
Now for the stat: Since the turn of the century, among active coaches who have coached at least five years, only three coaches have averaged more than 11 wins per season, including playoffs. And only two coaches have won 25 games or more in the last two seasons—Bill Belichick and Tomlin. The records of the three coaches with an average of 11 wins or more per season since 2000:
Coach Years W-L Wins Per Year Last 2 Years Wins Per year Bill Belichick 23 278-129 12.1 32-6 16.0 Mike Tomlin 11 124-67 11.3 26-10 13.0 Pete Carroll 8 88-53-1 11.0 20-12-1 10.0
Since you asked: In this century, among active coaches, Mike McCarthy has averaged 10.9 wins per season this century, Andy Reid 10.5, John Harbaugh 10.4, Sean Payton 10.2, Ron Rivera 9.6, Jon Gruden 9.3.
Factoids That May Interest Only Me
First two choices in the coaching search for the 1996 Bucs: Jimmy Johnson, Steve Spurrier.
First two choices in the coaching search for the 2018 Colts: Josh McDaniels, Mike Vrabel.
The Bucs, spurned, picked Tony Dungy. Seven seasons later, they won the Super Bowl.
The Colts, spurned, picked Frank Reich.
This is how long Sebastian Janikowski—whose 18-year tenure with the Raiders ended last week—has been playing pro football:
• The Raiders have had 21 head coaches in their 58-year history. Janikowski played for almost half—10—of them.
• In his rookie year, 2000, Janikowski was ninth in the NFL in scoring. Number 10 that year, Gary Anderson, is now 58 years old.
• Tom Brady was a third-string rookie (behind Drew Bledsoe and John Friesz) when Janikowski made his debut for Oakland on Labor Day Weekend 2000.
• In Janikowski’s first game in the NFL, the Raiders picked off Ryan Leaf three times and, despite sacks from Rodney Harrison and Junior Seau, Oakland beat San Diego 9-3.
• Playing in snow for the first time in his career in the Tuck Rule game in Foxboro on Jan. 19, 2002, Janikowski kicked field goals of 38 and 45 yards in the third quarter, giving the Raiders leads of 10-3 and 13-3 … before Adam Vinatieri’s significantly more famous 45-yard field goal on that snow-squalling evening.
Larry Fitzgerald, who has played 14 NFL seasons, had his best regular seasons in years 12, 13 and 14, with 109, 107 and 109 catches. He’ll play a 15th year in 2018.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note
Call this week’s entry “Turd of the Week.”
For Valentine’s Day dinner, my wife and I went to a restaurant in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City, The Red Cat. We had a reservation for 6:15 and arrived about 6:10. In front of us when we entered the place: two men, 40ish, one of whom was asking if a table was available. We’re full, the fellow at the front said. One of the guys saw six or eight table in the restaurant that were unoccupied and asked if they could take any one of those. “Sir,” The Red Cat guy said, “it’s Valentine’s Day. We’re totally booked.” On and on the 40ish guy went. He would not take no for an answer. Couples gathered in the doorway. Finally, The Red Cat relented. “We’ll seat you,” he said.
To which the Turd of the Week turned to his acquaintance and said so that anyone within 20 feet could hear, “Can you believe that? I had to f---ing beg for a f---ing table!”
The idiot was seated, and then it was our turn. The poor Red Cat guy. Totally embarrassed, as he turned to us and was all professional and polite. But shaken. I thought, I’m glad I’m not on the front line of the restaurant business in New York City.
Tweets of the Week
The former NFL scout and current NFL and draft analyst, on the rumors flying about trades and free-agent signings and other NFL folderol 10 weeks before the draft. He followed with a tweet saying: “I think this year I’m going to keep a running scorecard on all ‘rumors’ on twitter (including mine). I think we’ll find out it’s about 90 percent fabricated nonsense.”
From “The MMQB Podcast With Peter King,” available where you download podcasts.
This week’s conversations: Eagles defensive lineman Brandon Graham and NFL Films cameraman Bob Angelo, who is retiring after 43 years of shooting NFL games.
• Angelo, integral with NFL Films czar Steve Sabol to the invention of “Hard Knocks” in 2001 with the Baltimore Ravens featured in the first season, on why it worked: “It worked because it was raw. After the first show, with all of that profanity out there, Steve was very concerned about the league office’s response to it. The second week, Steve told the editors to eliminate as much profanity as possible, because he was concerned about the league’s response. I would screen the show before it aired with the Ravens hierarchy, and after the first week—no issues at all … They couldn’t have cared less about the profanity. After the second show, [coach] Brian Billick looked at this watered-down show and he said, ‘Great show, Bob. But we need a few more gratuitous F-words in there.’ So I called Steve and said, ‘There’s no problem here with the profanity. Let it go. It’s raw, it’s real, this is what a pro football team sounds like in the summer.’ … From that point on, we could go anywhere we wanted, do anything we wanted to do.
“My wife, Barbara, and I had our niece living with us [in 2001], and she asked us one day, ‘What do you think is the best reality show on television?’ And I thought about it for a minute and said, ‘Mine. Because you don’t get voted off the island, you lose your job.’”
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think if you want to know why Larry Fitzgerald, who will return for a 15th season with a new coach and quarterback in 2018 in Arizona, should be judged as one of the best receivers ever—say, certainly in the top five—consider these nuggets:
• If he has a normal season in 2018 based on recent history, he’ll finish next year with about 200 more receptions than any wideout who ever played other than Rice, and with 500 or so more receiving yards than anyone who ever played, save Rice.
• Rice had Steve Young or Joe Montana as his quarterback in 85 percent of his career starts. Fitzgerald had Kurt Warner and Carson Palmer for 51 percent of his career starts.
• In the five seasons he’s played since turning 30, Fitzgerald has missed three games due to injury (all in 2014).
2. I think—and have for a year now—that 2017 was not going to be Fitzgerald’s last year. Too many footprints he wants to leave in the sand. When the NFL elects its 100th anniversary team in three years, my bet is that Fitzgerald, who has significant respect for history and loves to be a major part of it, would want badly to be one of the four wide receivers on that team. Who would they be? Just a guess: Don Hutson, Jerry Rice, Larry Fitzgerald, and either Steve Largent or Randy Moss. Could be different, of course, because the candidate list at that position will be very strong.
3. I think it appears interim Panthers general manager Marty Hurney is the favorite to take over the full-time Carolina GM job after being cleared by the NFL of harassment claims by his ex-wife. Which is the best decision the team could make. With Hurney free of the claims now, and judged innocent, his role as the favorite for the permanent job should not be affected.
4. I think the best news of the week was Ryan Shazier sitting in on scouting meetings with the Steelers. What happened to him was awful. What he could do with his life is powerful, whether in football or something else. Good for the Steelers, paving the way for him to transition to an off-field football life if that’s what Shazier chooses.
• AFTER SHAZIER, A FOCUS ON TACKLING: Kalyn Kahler talked to four high school coaches about their approach to teaching the game in aftermath of Shazier’s injury
5. I think the best TV fit for Peyton Manning might be FOX—and as the New York Post’sAndrew Marchand reported, FOX and ESPN both want him for weeknight prime-time games this year—for three reasons.
• The FOX deal is for 11 games a year, and it’s on Thursday nights, which means Manning could dip his toe in the water of TV without being married to it for a long season. Manning could be home every week in Denver by 3 a.m. Mountain Time Friday, and not leave again until Tuesday evening, if he chooses. And his work would be 11 weeks long, not 19 or 20 including playoffs.
• Manning, I believe, eventually wants to be an Elway or a Jeter, a guy who runs his own team. This would allow him to fact-find with good coaches and GMs for free, and allow him to see the teams that do it the right way and the teams that do it wrong. Jon Gruden can tell him how much you can learn by sitting in on productions meetings with the coaches and players you’ll either be trying to beat in a couple of years—or trying to hire.
• Though I don’t think Manning wants to be a TV guy, this is a low-commitment way that will allow him to find that out for sure.
6. I think it’s very hard for me to imagine Washington giving Kirk Cousins the franchise tag for one simple reason: When you put a franchise tag on a player, you intend to employ him at that rate of pay for the season. Washington intends to employ Alex Smith as it quarterback for 2018 and beyond. So if the team does tag Cousins, he would immediately file a grievance to block it, as our Albert Breer reported Thursday. And Cousins would win easily.
7. I think I read the rant of former WFAN talk-show host Mike Francesa about the Jason Kelce expletive-peppered speech during the Eagles’ Super Bowl celebration. The Francesa take (he was angry that Kelce cursed) is one of the most get-off-my-lawn things I’ve heard in a while. Said Francesa on WOR in New York: “You ever heard about winning like a champion? Somebody should have taken a hook and pulled him off … I was in the car when I heard it and people were replaying it like it was the greatest thing in the world. How dumb are you to replay that? I wouldn’t give that one second airtime … If I were the owner of the team, I’d cut him.” I do agree with Francesa that the cursing was over the top, and at time slightly cringe-inducing. But the rest—seriously?
8. I think, not that Francesa would know this, but Jason Kelce was the NFL’s first-team All-Pro center in 2017. He’s an unquestioned team leader. He’s got the 10th-highest salary-cap number for centers in 2018, which means he’s a player of great value. If Jeff Lurie cut Jason Kelce, players on that team would be beyond furious—as would coach Doug Pederson. Would the Eagles have been better with Kelce not f-bombing the speech? Of course. Cutting him? Knee-jerk to the max. But hey, it’s a hot take.
9. I think, not that it’s burrowing into the souls of every NFL or NBA fan, that it’s entirely fair for NBA commissioner Adam Silver to barter for the league to get 1 percent of the proceeds of all money legally wagered on the NBA. The NBA is providing the vehicle for the gambling to take place. Why shouldn’t it get a small cut? Same thing with the NFL, if that gambling is legalized in other states outside of Nevada.
10. I think these are my other thoughts of the week:
a. Commentary of the Week: From Dale Hansen of WFAA-TV in Dallas, on the Parkland school shooting. So much of what Hansen says, sensible Americans want to say—and hear.
b. Column of the Week: from Steve Politi of the Newark Star Ledger, localizing the Parkland tragedy with an apt column about high school coaches in the wake of the tragedy. Politi’s right: We’ve left it to untrained civilians to try to save our kids in schools from a horrible fate. “This is life now in this country,” he writes.
c. It’s so wonderful to see the classmates of the dead in Florida not just sitting home and crying—even though that would be the human thing to do. Instead, they’re coming together and demanding that our elected officials, particularly our president, stand up and do something, something real, to effect change about the gun violence in this country. They’re not waiting for Washington do something, because without being poked with a cattle prod, our leaders will hide and hide and hide and do nothing, and wait until the funerals for more students are over, then pretend it never happened. Listen to a classmate of the dead, Emma Gonzalez, on Saturday, at a rally with her friends, to protest the violence: “We are up here, standing together, because if all our government and president can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see.”
d. More Emma, who was wiping tears away as she spoke: “If us students have learned anything, it’s that if you don’t study, you will fail, and in this case, if you actively do nothing, people continually end up DEAD, SO IT’S TIME TO START DOING SOMETHING!”
e. From Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post, reporting from Parkland, Fla.: “The mood here isn’t solemn. It’s seething.”
f. How incredibly disheartening, but incredibly consistent, to see our elected officials serving the NRA with more loyalty than they serve their constituents. The only way to effect change is to never vote for an elected official who takes NRA money.
g. Nothing else feels important this week. But I will go on.
h. We wanted Michael Jordan to speak up about injustice, and we wanted Tiger Woods and Derek Jeter to do so too. They didn’t. Now LeBron James does, and Laura Ingraham of FOX tells him to shut up and stick to dribbling a basketball. That’s what I like about talking heads: They raise the level of dialogue in the country to something above kindergarten playground. But not much.
i. Kudos, WEEI, for trying to clean the place up.
j. Thanks, Ohio University, for the invitation to talk to a hall full of sports and non-sports journalism hopefuls Friday night. Always great to be back on the campus where I spent four happy and profitable and educational years—and met the woman of my dreams.
k. Walking up one side of Court Street, walking down the other side. Walking on College Green. What a time warp. Other than the Bagel Buggy being gone from the heart of town late on a Friday night, not much has changed in the last 40 years, since winter quarter of my junior year.
l. Coffeenerdness: How I knew I was in a college town early Saturday: I had to leave Athens about 7:15 a.m. for the 65-mile drive to Columbus to catch my plane home, and I wanted to get a coffee before driving 70 miles to the airport. The three coffee shops downtown weren’t open yet. Two of them opened at 8.
m. Beernerdness: Very cool brew pub in uptown Athens that wasn’t there the last time I was: Jackie O’s, right next to my old bar, the Union. Great to see it crowded with townies and students alike Friday afternoon and evening, and great to be able to share a beer with some of the students from The Post, our venerable student paper, and then a drink with some of the organizers of the journalism weekend. It’s been a long time since I saw one of my old buddies from the Cincinnati Enquirer, Justice B. Hill, who’s on the front lines at Ohio U., teaching writing and reporting the way it has to be taught. Really enjoyed the whole scene.
n. Something redemptive and rewarding about Nathan Chen skating wonderfully in the long program Friday night. Loved seeing that.
o. Hey Lindsay Vonn: Don’t listen to anyone dogging you about your skiing. You’ve been a heck of a champion.
p. I sat for two hours late Saturday afternoon, vegging out and watching curling. It’s a hypnotic sport. After a while, you get the strategy, and you’re into it.
The Adieu Haiku
Once upon a time
in America, we cared
about mass murder.