As we do every week, even during the really down times, let’s take a swing around the NFL, looking at a bunch of random things…
1. There was a report on Friday that, based on minicamp with the Dolphins, David Garrard emerged as the frontrunner for training camp. That would not seem to bode so well for last year’s starter Matt Moore and for rookie first-rounder Ryan Tannehill. But I would disagree with any assessment that has this as a bad thing for the Texas A&M star. Sure, it’s not great for Moore, who should’ve had the upper hand. But Tannehill is a rookie who doesn’t know anything. Things are no doubt happening fast. The reality is, the best thing that could happen to him would be to be forced to wait and watch. Allow the game to slow down to understand it better. Watch the mistakes that others make. And if a disjointed team needs a while to kick into gear, he won’t be getting pounded while it happens. Plus, everyone loves the backup. So, Tannehill will also benefit from a politics-style bounce whenever he does get the call. Oh, and what if by some strange chance Garrard holds onto the job all year? So what? Tannehill won’t be the first rookie to ride the bench. He’ll live and move on.
2. One thing I kept forgetting to mention that came up during my time in Minnesota revolved around the much-discussed nickname for Adrian Peterson. In college at Oklahoma, he was known as AD, as in All Day. Yet it hasn’t translated to the NFL, where people call him AP, as in his initials. So, um, which is it? “I’ve gotten to the point where I just say, 50-50,” Peterson told me. “People call me, ‘AD’ and ‘AP.’ So, I’ll accept both of them. I’ve been ‘AD’ my whole life. Any time I go home, I’m talking to friends from home, ‘AD’ is what they call me.”
3. I wish I had more of an astute opinion on the bounty investigation, other than the one I expressed in this space last week. But my best bet here is to cede to colleague Gregg Rosenthal. The Around the League blog chief took a whack at Saints QB Drew Brees, who went on Letterman and discussed the public’s tired quotient for the bounty scandal. Duh. We’re all tired of it. Let’s, ya know, move on. What Rosenthal hits on, though, is how the players have claimed the league is using the media to state its case while the players have remained silent. First of all, no one has been silent. Two, Brees saying the league is using the media while he, himself, states his case in the media is kinda ridiculous. Just be real — everyone uses the media. It’s cool. We use them, too. It’s mutualism. It’s how it all works. Without the media, players words would be falling in a forest… or whatever. Without players talking, our newspapers would still be in the forest… as trees. Anyway, get over it. If you have a case, just state it. Don’t pretend one side is playing politics while the players are on the sidelines twiddling their thumbs.
4. I spent a while this week talking with Bears LB Lance Briggs, who is the ambassador for New Era sideline caps. We talked about Tim Tebow and about the Bears chances. But Briggs also discussed why he’s repping these hats, detailing how in previous years, the hats were so bad he refused to wear them when he came out of preseason games. Now, he’ll happily do so. But how does Briggs choose his hats? That’s what I wanted to know.
“First thing is color,” Briggs explained. “I’m a California kid and I’ve always worn hats that match my outfit. One thing you see when you live in Chicago, people wear hats based on the team they love. So, I got a lot of questions from my younger years, my rookie years. People ask me, ‘Why you wearing a Pirates hat or an Anaheim hat? ‘Well, do you see my outfit, buddy?’ ”
5. I loved reading this week how the Chiefs and Cardinals will hold joint practices this training camp before their preseason game in Kansas City. Great idea. Wish everyone did this. Why? Training camp is boring. It’s awesome, it’s back to football, but it’s also boring. Anything to break up the monotony is welcome — for players and for media members. The entire key is to keep everyone going at full speed right through the end to maximize potential and improve as much as possible. But by Week 3 of camp, everyone is bored out of their skulls. They are tired of facing the same dudes in practice, knowing their moves, and wallowing in the predictability. Joint practices change all that, while also amping things up. I remember when the Patriots did it with the Saints and Falcons a couple years back, and all three teams came out of the gates strong. That must’ve helped. This camp, the Pats are considering doing so with the Saints or Bucs. Good call. Hope Bill Belichick faxes over the request soon.
6. I had a blast this week hanging out with Redskins QB Robert Griffin III, and the result was this story on NFL.com. It was a day his life, I’d say. One tidbit I didn’t get in the story revolved around his allegiances. RGIII is a Texan, and I assumed he grew up a Cowboys fan. I planned to ask him about going from the ‘Boys to the ‘Skins. Except… “People would think I rooted for the Cowboys, but I was actually a Broncos fan growing up,” RGIII told me. “Yeah, John Elway, Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe, Ed McCaffrey – those guys were the reason I played football in the first place. They kinda motivated me to do that. It’s just ironic that Coach (Mike) Shanahan was their coach.” Griffin said he’ll pick Shanahan’s brain down the road about those old teams. This camp, though, Sharpe and Rod Smith came in and talked to the Redskins “about what it takes to win championships,” Griffin said.
7. Patriots owner Robert Kraft is never one to settle. So, it was no surprise this week when he publicly called for an NFL team in England. It’s not the first time he’s done it, but he did it again. Kraft, make no mistake, is an Anglophile. He almost bought a soccer team a few years back, but backed off because there wasn’t a salary cap. But what about this idea? Growing the game by putting a team in England? Count me in. Sure, the travel would be mildly annoying. But for East Coast teams, it would be roughly the same sort of trip as flying out to LA. Yes, it would be tough for West Coast teams. The league would have to make sure an East Coast road trip accompanied a swing to London or wherever. But that could happen. The vastly expanded reach of the NFL would be enough to make all issues small. Think of how many more readers, buyers, watchers, and recreational players there would be. Bet football would quickly be more popular in London than soccer is here.
8. The Lions have been in the news for all the wrong reasons this offseason. This week, there was another DUI, another black mark. Yikes. Well, at least there may be a light at the end of the tunnel in a small gesture. DL Nick Fairley, who was popped for one earlier in the offseason, attended the NFL Rookie Symposium as a second-year player. Kudos. Someone got in his ear and explained how far he needed to come to project the image of an NFL player. Will it change his behavior? Will it change the behavior of his team? I hope so, but who knows? The best thing, though, is the recognition that something is wrong. That’s what Fairley showed by showing up. A good first step.
9. Last week was busy by offseason standards, as I had had two interviews set up. What’s weird, too, is that it felt busy. During the regular season, it would’ve felt slow. This week should be not so busy. Some time to breath before training camp starts. Or not. My family comes to town tomorrow afternoon. The Rapoports take Dallas or whatever it would be called in movie form. Should be epic. A bunch of New Yorkers rumbling around the South like they used to do when we lived in Mississippi or Alabama. I prepared them for the heat, and they say they are ready. We’ll see. But hey, at least I have an excuse to do all the touristy stuff that The Banktress and I have yet to delve into. So, that’s something. Plus, the offseason should be about family, right?