Mailbag time, or the only place where you can get some closure on the whole Brandon Meriweather saga, break down the casting of the as-yet-untitled Danny Woodhead movie, read a measured take on why Jacoby Ellsbury is a safer bet for the Red Sox than Carl Crawford and solve when a spoiler is still a spoiler.
To the 'bag we go (and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org should the mood strike) …
I disagree (with Meriweather) -- you cannot implement a new punishment for an old rule. When they change it, fine; until then, multiplying the fine by 10 seems pretty reasonable (Harrison put aside 50k per annum). I think it is a more complex issue than just the hits -- Wilfork says the D played better after that, [head coach Mike] Tomlin in Pittsburgh defended those hits by [James] Harrison, the medical staff allowed [Todd] Heap back into the game -- which, to me, is the biggest issue of all. It is horrible when anyone gets hurt. Unfortunately, it is part of the game (cheap shots notwithstanding), and these grown men have made the CHOICE to partake in this knowing that there is a chance of injury. I do not in any way condone head hunting, and do think it needs to be addressed, just not in a reactionary manner that only puts a band-aid on a wound that requires stitches.
A: I fundamentally disagree with the notion that these injuries are terrible but ultimately part of the game because these guys knew what they signed up for. Come on -- would you say that if Todd Heap was your brother or father? There should always be a place for good, hard, clean hits in the NFL. I don't want to watch NFL flag football either. But let's be realistic. The players just get stronger and faster and if they keep launching themselves into unsuspecting players with absolutely no regard, you and I know that the worst-case scenario is going to happen one day.
There's a reason why we don't live in caves and why women can vote and why Paulie Shore no longer headlines studio movies. It's called progress. And the NFL will never stop injuries from happening on the field, but maybe the prospect of a suspension will be a deterrent to some extent. The idea of just rolling the ball out (not that you roll a football, but still) and let the boys be boys is dangerous at best. Time to move forward.
But I agree with you on one thing -- it stunned me that the Ravens allowed Heap back into that game on Sunday after that hit. This is a guy with a significant concussion history and he missed, what, two series? Who is the Ravens trainer, James Woods from "Any Given Sunday?"
My point on Meriweather was (and is) this: If the NFL is truly serious about changing the climate when it comes to these kind of hits, they had the perfect storm open right in front of them with Meriweather/Robinson/Harrison. And fining these guys (particularly Meriweather, easily the worst hit of the bunch) is, to me, not the kind of move that shows fierce urgency to end the problem. A two-game suspension of Meriweather would have been a game-changer. Again, I'm not saying that's the right move, or an appropriate punishment, but it sure would show me that the NFL is done playing both sides on the issue (by that I mean acting horrified/outraged but yet raking in money from video games that highlight hard hits and making deals with networks that are only too happy to put a blast or three in any highlight mix).
The fact that Meriweather went on the radio the next day and said he wasn't going to change is almost worse than the Heap play itself.
A: Well, I think some of that's just an act -- some of these guys feel like they have to say the macho thing just to keep up appearances. He was probably a little insecure and a lot overwhelmed. I was three feet away from Meriweather at his locker when he made his statement Wednesday (and yes, I was wearing a helmet, but in fairness, I almost always wear a helmet) and he seemed genuinely emotional about the whole thing. But we'll see. If he doesn't change his game he's going to be screwed. He's the face of this new policy, so zero tolerance is putting it kindly. And let's be fair -- it's not like he can carry Rodney Harrison's jock as a player, so Belichick isn't going to look the other way and live with it if there's a next time.
Suspending Meriweather without drawing the line in sand is wrong, especially since there are some teams (Ravens, Jets and Steelers among them) who generally have much more egregious hits, including helmet-to-helmet, launching and late hits (it becomes a part of their defensive intimidation). A helmet-to-helmet can happen unintentionally, while a late hit is a late hit and launching with helmet first is clearly intentional (that is where Meriweather looked bad).
I am also concerned about talk where a ref can immediately suspend a player for a hit. It is not unusual for a ref to miss a call on any type of play. So, to remove a player from the game is a game-changing call where a later review of the play may find it not to have been what they though they saw at game speed.
A: You have to start somewhere, though, and to me, it was the perfect time to show that the NFL -- assuming they really do care -- was done tolerating the kind of hit Meriweather put on Heap. Do you think a fine is really going to slow anyone down?
(And James Harrison acting like a victim in this whole ordeal is great. What a freaking bozo. Perfect example of an athlete completely out of touch with reality. If Harrison isn't in the lineup for the Steelers on Sunday I will share a cage with his pit bull -- the one who attacked his son -- for a month.)
The reason [Jermaine] Cunningham didn't retaliate is that he was the one that was yapping at [Le'Ron] McClain in the first place. McClain was the one that got caught.
A: Right, and I didn't articulate that properly in the report card Tuesday. I wrote: "It was Cunningham who was shoved by Le'Ron McClain in overtime, which led to a monster personal foul flag. To his credit, Cunningham kept his composure and did not retaliate."
Cunningham knocked McClain -- a tough guy -- down a couple of times after the whistle on Sunday. You could see that McClain was ready to pop, and he picked a horrendous time to do it. And yes, on the play where McClain got the flag Cunningham was jawing right in his face. But talking junk -- which happens at the end of 99 out of 100 plays -- and shoving a guy to the ground right in front of two officials just isn't close to the same thing.
Re: Woodhead Casting
How about Elijah Wood? I bet they are about the same size and Woodhead has a Middle Earth look going.
A: Look, if I'm casting the Danny Woodhead Story I have one rule: No one who has ever had a tickling scene with Sean Astin (on a bed, no less) is getting the call. Sorry. And now that it's been about a decade, we can finally agree that all three "Lord of the Rings" movies were total garbage, right? I'll take "The Substitute" trilogy any day of the week.
I've got the guy to play Woodhead. Mark Wahlberg.
A: The host of "Temptation Island?" Probably you mean the other guy (get it?). Wahlberg isn't bad, but he'll never do it. Why? He already starred as an undersized underdog in a football flick, "Invincible" (No. 42 in the "Cloying Disney Sports Movie Series"). Plus he's a good decade and a half too old. The search continues …
Heard you and Bradford on Planet Mikey last night. Way to jam some Sports Movie talk into the endless Mikey plugs for his food. My question, though, is about the Mickey Ward movie with Marky Mark. Is it going to be any good?
A: The first trailer scared me off a little, but the one they showed during the "Mad Men" finale Sunday looked pretty damn good. Listen, you've got a director in David O. Russell who has yet to make a movie that isn't at least interesting. This isn't some director for hire, he picks his projects very carefully (has directed three movies the last 15 years). And I'll give you this prediction: If the movie is any good Christian Bale will win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. He's got the showy role -- Dickie Eklund is a drug addict (always an Oscar fave) -- and it looks like he lost about a deuce, deuce and a half (not bad) to capture the crack addict look (again, weight loss = Oscar). He should toss in a British accent in a couple of scenes to lock it up.
Having trouble with this one...
Like everyone, I know Logan Mankins is due in camp by 11/16. He will earn more in the less than half of the season that remains than you or I will earn in the next 10 years. (You maybe the next 2 years...me, however...)
He will be out of 'football shape' and injuries aside will get on the field only if BB is willing to risk the continuity of the offensive line. Best case he won't be ready to go until December and play maybe 4 games.
For this he is rewarded with a year of service and becomes a free agent? Huh? I didn't know that NFL teams really weren't interested in having their players play as long as they can save money by not paying that player' salary.
How about you report by the start of the regular season or you DO NOT get credit for a year of play? Did I just pick a bad week to stop sniffing glue or does this "don't show up but get credit for playing" make no logical sense?
A: That's a topic that will bat in the first inning of the collective bargaining negotiations, Mike. No doubt about it.
Yeah, I wouldn't much worry about the risking "the continuity of the offensive line." Once Mankins comes back and is ready to play he'll play. Belichick won't be holding any grudges and this isn't a Moss (chemistry) issue. Logan Mankins will make this team better and as long as he can put on a happy face and dance for a couple of months there should be zero problems.
After the 2008 season when the New York Yankees didn't even make the postseason they did what any team with money would do during the offseason: They signed CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. The very next year they won the World Series. In 2006 the Red Sox did not make the playoffs. During that offseason they went out and signed the most hyped pitcher available, who was Daisuke Matsuzaka. The very next year they won the World Series. If Sox ownership wants to have a ring in 2011 they need to sign some big pieces. They need to re-sign Victor [Martinez] and go out and get [Carl] Crawford. That and picking up [David] Ortiz's option would almost ensure a spot in the playoffs next year.
A: Rob Bradford and I talked about the Red Sox offseason in last week's podcast and we disagree on Crawford. Rob thinks he's worth the dough -- think at least six years, $90 million -- and I just don't see it. Is he going to be a better player than Jacoby Ellsbury in three years (I know, I know, but look it up: Ellsbury was every bit as good as Crawford in 2008 and 2009)? It's not the end of the world if you don't bring in a big-name free agent every year.
Red Sox fans don't want to hear this, but I'd make a play to keep Martinez and Adrian Beltre and if you even land one of them I'd call it a day and take my chances in 2011 with a healthy Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia and Ellsbury. No way Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Jonathan Papelbon are worse than they were this past year. I don't know, to me that's a team that's going to win 95 games. Crawford would help, sure, but I think it's $100 million that might be better used a year or two down the line.
A: Ah, the spoiler.
Well, in the original edition of the report card I mentioned a twist in the "Mad Men" finale. It's been five days now and I suppose whoever really wanted to watch it probably has, but I'm gun-shy about spilling any details. Why? Well, the very kind and extraordinarily talented gentleman who edited my column very early on Tuesday had yet to watch the episode. And we are talking about a three- or four-handicap "Mad Men" fan.
So this wonderful fellow made an editor's note in the column, which read:
Angry Ed. note: a brutal spoiler was removed in hopes of saving the season for all other readers, after many angry emails were delivered to the inbox of the author.
How angry were the emails? Let's go to the videotape:
First email, 12:00 a.m: Are there any more f-----g spoilers of the Mad Men finale once you start with the grades, or have you already managed to ruin enough of the season for me?
12:06: F--k it. I'm leaving the rest for someone else to edit.
One day? You give people one f-----g day to watch a show before dropping a bombshell spoiler? J---s.
12:26: OK, after breathing into a bag for five minutes, I edited the rest. But I'm never again editing one of your stories without assurances that you're not ruining a show!
So I screwed up. Total amateur hour. So I'll ask you guys: When it is OK to drop a spoiler? Three days? Five? A week? Is it OK to mention that the autistic kid dreamed the entire "St. Elsewhere series?" Too soon?
Enjoy the football weekend. Patriots 24, Chargers 21.