With training camp in full swing, we’re flying around the country to bring you all sorts of interesting (and non-interesting) stuff. Let’s pause this Sunday morning to embrace routine with our nine really random things.
So, what’s been up?
1. NFL Training Camp is only a few days old, but already something fantastic has happened. I’ll say right now, we’ll be hard-pressed to find something better during the entire months of July and August. What was it? Tim Tebow ran shirtless in the rain. Our friend Bob Glauber of Newsday captured it brilliantly, showing the world the most highly publicized backup in history playing for the skins team. It rained at Jets camp, Tebow needed to go inside and he ran. Why wasn’t he wearing a shirt? I have no idea. But it’s hilarious. How does a humble, right-minded guy get so much publicity even in a situation where he appears to be trying to avoid it? Just run shirtless, and that’ll do it. So classic Tebow. Even just running around, he took focus off Sanchez and the rest of the important players. Without throwing one pass, he did something that probably led every newscast in NY. Unreal. Man, that Jets camp sounds like a circus. Makes me long for those Patriots-Jets weeks of coverage. So much fun. I’d blog six times on Tebow being shirtless, including reaction from all the key people.
2. The 49ers made some key additions to their team this year, signing RB Brandon Jacobs and WR Randy Moss. Well, I think they are key. Both veterans need to make the team first. That’s most important. To that end, I kinda liked what I heard from Jacobs the other day when I asked him about carries. See, in New York, Jacobs would, from time to time, grumble about carries. He always wanted the ball more, even with other talented backs and a morphing offense that became pass-first. Will that be the case in San Fran? Well… Jacobs took the conversation a surprising place.
“I think I fit in here great,” Jacobs told me. “As far as easing my mind, mentally, this football team doesn’t owe me anything. If they want to make up their mind to do something else than go with me, that’s perfectly fine with me. Their organization will do what they want to do, but they don’t owe me anything. I haven’t been here for six years or seven years already. I feel I need to come out here and give myself the best opportunity by taking advantage of that opportunity in the meeting room and practice. Whatever happens, I hope it works out the best for me. But I’m going out there and giving it everything I got.”
3. The Packers camp is in full-swing and that includes LB A.J. Hawk. He’s got to be one of the most criticized starters around, a constant target of angst. He doesn’t make enough plays, etc. Well, at the golf tournament I covered in Lake Tahoe, Hawk and I broached this topic. I asked about how much he gets ripped, and he said, “You should be able to take some criticism. It’s happened for a while now since I got into the league. There’s always something going on. So, I’m not going to sit there and question why, ‘Oh why me, why does someone feel like…?’ I don’t feel like I should get a pass for anything. I understand it. I’m never going to have it affect my play or change how I approach the game.” I asked if Hawk is worried about his roster spot, and he didn’t sound like it. Rather, he seems at peace. Football is a high-stress job, he reasoned, and you can’t let it get to you. “Roster-wise, what’s the worst that can happen, they cut me?” Hawk continued. “Great. I’m OK with that. Hopefully someone will find a place somewhere else. I love Green Bay, I want to be there forever. But I think if I approach it like that, that’s the way to be a better player, too. Let it all go and play.”
4. It’s not an offseason in New England if there isn’t one ridiculous Tom Brady photo doing something that you’ll make fun of. Remember the water slide picture? And don’t even remind me about the goat. Brady brings it on himself, and the paparazzi make sure he does. (This is a great photo gallery of the best.) This summer, it was pictures of Brady doing some cliff-diving in Costa Rica shown here. Brady had a great line yesterday when discussing the pics with New England media, taking it all in stride. “I was thinking about maybe the Olympic diving team but it’s hard not to make that splash,” Brady said. “I’m glad I’m back playing football – that’s what I enjoy most. … It’s hard to find places (without paparazzi). It gets harder and harder.” That’s the crazy thing. Imagine Brady on vacation in Costa Rica, knowing that whatever he does, it’ll end up on TMZ. I know he has a great life. But that small part is just amazingly annoying. You can’t really do anything. Maybe that’s why his approach is right. Whatever happens, it’ll be out there, and that’s it. He just deals.
5. I spent the early portion of the week in Carolina, and the big story when I was there was center Ryan Kalil guaranteeing a Super Bowl with an ad in the Charlotte Observer. It was brash, unexpected… and kinda awesome. He got complete support from the team. Still, coach Ron Rivera said he’s going to broach the topic with his team, and he likely has already. “When we get together, we’ll talk about it. It’s important they know how I feel,” Rivera said. As in, it’s important for the coach to tell the team he thinks they’ll be really good. I think I think so, too. I also think, since we’re thinking of things, that the Panthers suddenly became interesting. Everyone will be watching. This thing will really galvanize the team and the fan base. The Panthers went from just a team to a team to watch. All it took was a few thousand bucks for a newspaper ad. Oh, and having Cam Newton doesn’t hurt.
6. The 49ers lost a brutal and gut-wrenching NFC title game to the Giants last year, one that still stings. As QB Alex Smith said, you can’t press delete on the taste in your mouth. But one odd dynamic is that the Niners signed two dudes from that team — Jacobs and Mario Manningham. The play-making receiver was asked if he brings up the topic, and he looked at the reporter like he was crazy. “I ain’t got nothing to do with that, man,” Manningham said, laughing. “We don’t talk about that, because we know we can end up in that same situation this year. We keep playing like we playing, you never know where we can end up at. I feel like we’re going to have a very good team and the sky’s the limit for our team.” Maybe. I guess some things are just off-limits for jokes. Manningham has his ring on a shelf somewhere, and he’s moved on. But if it were me, I’d save a line about the NFC title game for one really good time, then spring it. Would crush ‘em.
7. Maurice Jones-Drew is holding out at Jaguars camp, wanting a new deal despite having two years left on his second one. Titans running back Chris Johnson made, I think, the best point: MJD is their whole offense. I understand the team’s point of view. They already paid for future performance when they extended him despite being a starter for a few games. They want him to honor their contract. But the market has changed. Other RBs have gotten paid, and MJD was actually at his most productive last year. He rushed for 1,606 last year, is 27 years old, and is getting better. Plus, he’s durable. I don’t get the hesitation to satisfy his desires. He’s the entire offense and last year, they couldn’t pass and he still gained yards. Honestly, I think the under-appreciation for Jones-Drew comes from the combine mentality. He’s short. He isn’t a beast like Adrian Peterson. He doesn’t have measurables. But he’s been just as productive since both became starters. Really, the key is for the Jaguars to give him more money, while making clear they aren’t setting a precedent. One interesting tidbit: Jones-Drew has saved his money. So, getting fined or missing a few million won’t crush him. That gives him more leverage. But he hasn’t made the decision to take it into the season yet.
8. Ryan Tannehill agreed to a contract with the Dolphins last night, as you can see right here. In the end, he decided it wasn’t worth the fight, and Tannehill gave up on trying to do a contract without offset language. I can’t say I blame him. If he’s good in three years, who will care about that minor detail? The Dolphins challenged him, took a really hard line, and won. But, they also made some concessions, too. The main thing is, he only missed three days. Still, in my mind, Tannehill shouldn’t be in a hurry. He’s a competitor, and he will be, but he shouldn’t be. Matt Moore is there, David Garrard is there, and I think Tannehill — who wasn’t experienced in college — would be better off sitting and watching and learning. He won’t get smacked around, things will slow down, and in the long run, it’ll help. History has looked upon those who have waited a lot better.
9. So, I’m in San Diego now for today’s practice, and that’ll be fun. Expect to see it live on NFL Network. After that, it’s to Oxnard, Calif., for two practice for the Cowboys, and then to Nashville for the Titans on Thursday. Whew. Does it get any better than training camp? Been a blast so far. And we’ve only begun. There is just so much excitement from the teams, and the fans have been nuts. Love it.