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NFL Truths for the 2010 season
We'll start publishing fan letters next week. Right now, I'm too excited. The NFL season is here and it's time for the NFL Truths:
10. If he does it again, if he locks his wrist in handcuffs, wraps a blindfold around his eyes, places himself in a small fish tank filled with piranhas and escapes unscathed, we better give Brett Favre the MVP Trophy this time.
He deserved the trophy last year when he had the best season of his three-MVP career. The honor went to Peyton Manning. Not a bad choice, but he didn't perform the kind of magic Favre pulled off.
By skipping the offseason and training camp and dragging out his non-retirement decision, Favre put himself in an impossible position. He multiplied the pressure on his initial Minnesota season tenfold. He salvaged his reputation the only way he could, throwing 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions, completing 68 percent of his passes.
Can he do it again? Well, he's filled the fish tank and snapped on the handcuffs and blindfolds. He even added a new wrinkle this season. He held out just long enough for the Vikings to tack on additional millions to his already-phat contract.
Pressure? Only LeBron James (The Decision) and Tiger Woods (The Thanksgiving) know the kind of pressure Favre will face this football season. Tiger cracked. LeBron is in the on-deck circle as Favre steps to the plate Thursday night.
The defending-Super Bowl champion Saints get first shot at Favre. They'll submerge Favre in water and try to drown him with barely legal cheap shots.
I'm firmly in the Favre camp. He's earned the right to be a stuntman/thrill-seeker at the end of his career. If it takes unprecedented pressure to get Favre's juices flowing, I'm good with that. I enjoy the drama.
His non-teammate peers probably disagree with me. They want to see the man who has placed himself above the rules go down.
I want Favre to do the impossible -- win a fourth MVP at age 40.
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Moss complained that he feels "unwanted" being in the final year of his contract, hinting he could return to his Oakland form.
Being "wanted" has never motivated Randy Moss. His production slipped in 2001 after the Vikings gave him a record $75 million contract. His performance and effort plummeted when the Raiders "wanted" him.
Moss played his best football at the outset of his career when he was trying to prove teams were stupid for passing over him in the draft and when he had to rehabilitate his image after the Oakland fiasco.
Disrespect motivates Moss. Disrespect focuses Moss. When people give up on Moss, make him feel "unwanted," he turns on the charm/jets on the field.
Moss is like a super-hot stripper. He can hide his character flaws long enough to get out of debt.
The Patriots have Moss perfectly positioned. If he shuts it down on Tom Brady, it's unlikely another team (besides Daniel Snyder's Redskins) will be willing to step up next offseason and give Moss a lucrative four-year deal.
If Moss is true to his history and puts up monster numbers this year, the Pats will try to sign him by midseason and a plethora of teams will ready themselves to bid for Moss' 2011 services. He could host The Decision II.
I expect a monster season. Moss is a force of nature when he wants to be. He controls how wanted he is.
8. Unless the Heisman Trust can prove Reggie Bush received some competitive advantage from getting "illegal" financial benefits from an agent while playing at USC, all talk of stripping Bush of his Heisman Trophy should end.
Do we really think no steroid cheats ever won the Heisman Trophy or Outland Trophy or All-American accolades?
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Taking Bush's Heisman would turn the Saints running back into a victim.
Some of the former Heisman Trophy winners, especially those who remember receiving "illegal" benefits, need to come to Bush's defense. Cowards.
7. How did cussing at football practice become controversial?
I like and respect Tony Dungy a great deal, but he needs to learn he doesn't have to comment on every topic. Dungy ignited the "Hard Knocks"/Rex Ryan cussing controversy by answering Dan Patrick's question. Now commissioner Roger Goodell has come down on Rex and the Jets.
Just say no (comment), Tony.
Dungy acknowledged he hadn't watched "Hard Knocks." Dungy doesn't strike me as an HBO kind of guy. Had Dungy actually watched "Hard Knocks," he'd be outraged by Antonio Cromartie's inability to name his children.
P.S. The Jets are going to stink this year. Mark Sanchez is another overhyped USC quarterback.
6. Speaking of overhyped USC quarterbacks, here's my theory on Sanchez, Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer.
They don't face enough adversity in college to build the necessary toughness to thrive for a sustained period in the NFL. Pete Carroll's teams were stacked with so much depth and talent that Saturdays were easy. The Trojans had an advantage at nearly every position. Sanchez, Leinart and Palmer threw from "clean" pockets. They're no good when they have to move their feet in the pocket or leave the pocket.
OK, I realize Palmer looked pretty good before having his knee destroyed.
But the best playoff quarterbacks in the last decade -- Brady, Big Ben and Kurt Warner -- all are/were terrific under duress. Brady had to scrap to play at Michigan. Big Ben and Warner played with mid-major talent in college.
A quarterback can get spoiled in college and never recover.
The Bengals are going to try to make a playoff run with their two strongest personalities trying to launch/sustain entertainment careers. Football isn't their priority. It's what they do in between tweeting and taping reality and talk shows.
They remind me of Ice T, Ice Cube and LL Cool J, rappers who realized they'd lost it as lyricists and parlayed their rap fame into acting careers.
Don't be surprised when Ochocinco and Owens give Marvin Lewis the Jerry Heller treatment with no Vaseline.
4. The Washington Post mishandled Mike Wise's punishment for tweeting intentionally false information about Ben Roethlisberger's suspension getting reduced. The Post suspended Wise from writing his column for one month.
The Post should've forced Wise to choose between a career as a newspaper columnist and a career as local radio talk-show host. Wise is a super-talented journalist. Talk radio makes him do stupid stuff -- such as come up with fake tweets to fill a segment.
3. The NFL is blaming the economy for a third straight dip in season-ticket sales.
I'm sure the economy plays a role. But, as I mentioned in my Boise State column on Tuesday, HD flat-screen TVs are playing a larger role. Watching at home is a better experience.
The next wave of new stadiums in non-Super Bowl cities need to be smaller, not bigger. A 60,000-seat stadium with an emphasis on suites will be ideal.
Smart, working-class sports fans will spend their discretionary cash on better TVs and cable packages. You can get better, cheaper food and beer at home and follow the Twitter conversation.
2. NFL coaches believe offseason workouts and training camp are vitally important. NFL players disagree. Here's a solution that might prevent another Albert Haynesworth situation:
Set up a pay system that financially rewards players for fully participating in OTAs and training camp. I'm not talking about just bonuses.
Coaches think the offseason is nearly as important as the regular season. Back it up with money. The league is working on a new collective bargaining agreement. Negotiate three different pay periods. A player can earn 50 percent of his salary during the regular season, 25 percent during the offseason and 25 percent during training camp.
1. My Super Bowl picks are the Vikings and the Steelers.
I can't bring myself to pick the Packers. I'm still anti-Ted Thompson. I see the Vikings sneaking in as a 9-7 wildcard and Favre delivering in the playoffs after a so-so regular season.
The Steelers won't dominate the AFC, either. They'll sneak into the playoffs at 10-6. Big Ben is going to shake off the rust and put together a great playoff run.
Big Ben gets his third Super Bowl ring and we start to wonder where he falls among the greatest QBs of all-time. Ahead of Brady and Peyton Manning?
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