Aug. 4, Colts Camp, Westfield, India – I ask quarterback Andrew Luck from Indianapolis, "Starting today, it's five weeks to the opening day. Do you doubt that you will play? "
" No, "says Luck." No doubt. I sure think so. "
August 19, Jim Irsay's office, Colt's headquarters, Indianapolis – Luck has requested a meeting with Irsay, GM Chris Ballard and coach Frank Reich.
Luck says, "I'm tired and in pain, I'm retiring."
Luck shocked the world on Saturday night when I retired. Well, Adam Schefter shocked the world at 21:28. ET Saturday, when he tweeted the news that Luck is retiring. It was such a surprise that one of Luck's best friends, Matt Hasselbeck, told me on Sunday, "I thought Adam Schefter was hacked. I sat there and watched the college game Saturday night and saw it. It kept me in my tracks. Stunned. I was in Indy on Friday and have no idea.
Luck's two statements 15 days apart say that this was a lightning strike – either that or that he was not directly with me. These two statements sound incongruent. How could such a great quarterback, who has his best professional season at the age of 29, make such an impulsive decision? Although I did not talk to Luck this weekend, I do not think it was impulsive. I think he was sincere with me and I understand how the world of Luck can get totally confused in two weeks. I think it started turning a few days after our conversation.
The same day that Luck told me that there was no doubt he was playing in the opener, Reich told me that Luck's last injury to his left calf was "a snap" compared to his return to all his shoulder problems. But in the days after Luck talked to me at the training camp, he felt more pain in the rehab. Further investigation revealed a larger and more mysterious injury that extended from the calf to his ankle. There would be no quick fix. More rehab and a good chance of limping and playing with considerable pain at the start of the season. And if he did not play to start the season, he would be a question mark hovering over the franchise as he had in 2015 (shoulder injury, broken ribs, kidney injury), 2016 (played shoulder-shoulder all year)) , 2017 (missed the year after Labrum surgery) and the low season and training camp 2018 (shoulder pain). Then four months in which one feels good and plays great. Then, as he prepared the training for 2019 in March, this calf / ankle thing appeared and just did not want to disappear.
Let's put it this way: In about 42 of the last 47 months attributed to the original shoulder injury in September 2015, football meant pain for Andrew Luck. No fun. Pain. As Luck described on Saturday night, "It was incessant, inexorable, both in season and out of season … took pleasure in the game." And after 2016, when I was in pain and was unable to practice regularly, I swore I would not go that way again.
What Luck led to Irsay's office last Monday. The meeting lasts just over two hours. Ballard and Reich soon realized that this was not . I think I will retire. This was, It's over.
At the meeting on Monday there was a time when options were proposed. One of them: Take the time to hurry without hurry, heal properly, and go back to IR with a return label, which means he can return for the last two months of the season if he gets well. This seemed to make the most sense – in nine weeks he would have to see if the calf / ankle could be repaired, and the Colts would have been more than happy to take the risk of paying $ 21.25 million for luck Try to play in 2019, with backup Jacoby Brissett doing some or all of this snapshot this season. Whatever alternatives were suggested, Luck, one of the smartest players in every sport, seemed unshakeable.
"My decision is made," he said.
Another pointer to the timeline: Luck said he had not imagined retirement until two weeks ago. But as soon as he thought about it, a source said, it made more and more sense to him. He was tired. He felt it was not one thing, it was a different one.
Reich and Ballard both spent time between Tuesday and Friday feeling lucky, whether he was considering it again – he never wavered – and then made sure it was lucky Sure, he wanted to do it now. He has. Neither Reich nor Ballard would disclose the content of their discussions with Luck. But late in the week, Reich said, he and Luck had a longer meeting at the trainer's office, an emotional meeting.
"It's like we say goodbye," Reich said from his office on Sunday afternoon. "I knew, knew in my heart that he would not change his mind, he seemed to have great clarity and peace."
I tried to create a perspective in which to do so in terms of breathtaking NFL retirements see is. I can compare it to three others: Jim Brown, who stopped at 30 after winning the NFL MVP in 1965; Barry Sanders, who finished 31st in 1999 and wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who left the Lions at 30 after nine NFL seasons. I think Luck's retirement is the biggest shock of all.
Brown earned $ 60,000 in his senior year with the Browns; Three years later, he received $ 125,000 to star in a Hollywood movie. Maybe he still had two or three top-years, and in Hollywood he was immediately a brand name. Sanders could have been great for two or three years, but they can not guarantee 31-year running backs. Johnson was also at the top in his game, a physical miracle. But he did not have the public cache of a quarterback and never played in a great team.
Happiness, when he was healthy, was a top five quarterback. With quarterbacks routinely played until the late '30s (and older), it is conceivable that Luck, who has earned $ 103 million in his seven NFL seasons, will play 10 more years, more than 300 million Would have earned US dollars. I doubt that Spielberg will pay Matt Damon money to Luck to make a movie – and I very much doubt that Luck would be interested in that life anyway. He would like to hide from the spotlight, not hug. Plus: This is a quarterback, a high-caliber, who has a season in which he had the third best WAR (victory over replacement) of a quarterback in football after PFF. Only Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees had a higher WAR than Luck – which according to the Analytics site was worth three wins more than its replacement for the Colts in 2018.
Add to that the surprise that a quarterback left center at his own discretion – Prime. "I was flat," Ballard said of his reaction when Luck told them about it last Monday. "Surprised. Shocked. That and the fact that Luck was overjoyed when working with Reich, offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni and quarterback coach Marcus Brady. At the camp, Luck said to me, "Last year, it was as much fun as I could play football."
There are players in the NFL – Brady and Brees come to mind – who play until someone gives them the Uniform breaks off. Luck never gave the impression that he is a player who plays for so long, but he never gave the impression that he was a broken guy. I'll never forget interviewing him at the 2012 Harvester in Indianapolis and asking him about his off-field habits. At Stanford he spent most of his time on campus with no cable television and like any other student riding a bike through the campus. He had a passion for reading. "Now do not make me a nerd!" He told me that night.
"School is important," Luck said that night, "but football has always been more important, the more I play, the more I love it, and I've come to a point where you know all the less the more Learning about the game I want to know more about it all the time. "
That same weekend, the Kansas City Chiefs, who were on the market for a quarterback, spent one of their assigned 15-minute interview periods with Luck. Coach Romeo Crennel and GM Scott Pioli wanted to know what he likes to do outside of football.
"Reading," said Luck.
"What is your favorite book?" Pioli said.
Said luck 1969 on the imprisonment of a Frenchman falsely convicted of murder: "I like historical fiction." And architecture too. "On the way to his first NFL game at Soldier Field in Chicago, he told QB coach Clyde Christensen, then stories about the ar Architectural Wonders of Chicago.
The nerd was a pretty good player right off the bat. In his first three regular seasons, he played 33:15 and led the Post-Manning Colts in all three seasons to the playoffs – and the third year to the AFC title game. When Manning returned to Indy in 2013 for his emotional return, Luck passed him 39-33. He played with his ass and hit Aaron Rodgers head-to-head in 2016. Luck and the Colts were well again after playing 1-9 in the playoffs for two consecutive seasons.
When I met Luck three weeks ago, he was happy. No sign of trouble. This year, he raved about his favorite book, "Today We Die a Little!", A history book about Czech Olympic champion Emil Zatopek. Luck married a woman of Czech descent and wanted to get to know culture and history – and Zatopek's story sang to him because it is a man who won the first marathon at the 1952 Olympics.
Luck was honest about his injury, I thought. "Sometimes I'm worried about it," he said. "It can be frustrating … Maybe I will not improve as fast as I want, and it's no fun to miss things, it eats on you." But his tone was so optimistic the day I left that I thought he was probably ready, if perhaps in pain, for the chargers on September 8
"My heart and soul are going out to Andrew," Reich said Sunday, "I love He is an incredible generation player, it hurts and it hurts a lot, but at the same time I can look forward to our season, to our team and to Jacoby, these emotions do not have to be mutually exclusive, I can make those statements Without disrespecting Andrew, and one of the things I love about Andrew is that he understands. "
" We actually had this conversation, and I told Andrew before all this was decided, "You know, when I am with the Speak media, I'll tell them, "Hey, if Andrew is not there, we have to go. "So it was as if If you're not there, we'll go with Jacoby and we'll move on.
"Andrew said, 'Is not that great about the game? "
Now for the rest of the story. It's impossible to know for sure that Luck will not play again. The Colts have allowed him to withhold the $ 24 million in premiums they could legally redeem (per ESPN), and have certainly designed the welcome mat if he should change his mind. But I know Ballard. He will protect the Colts first and last. There is no question that at the end of this year he will either try to expand Brissett if he plays well or he will enter the draft for 2020 to find a long-term passer-by. The Colts are well positioned in 2020 with three tips in the first two rounds, including the extra second round from Washington, which was won this year as part of a draft day trade. Reich said he was sure he would be asked about Luck's future when he hit the press this week. "I think I'll say," Reich said to me, "can we only honor Andrew's decision to retire?" Let us respect his decision. I can tell you that he does not think he will come back. Saturday night there was a Kerfuffle over Luck, who was booed when he left the field after the game, and Scheffer's tweet whirled around in the sports world 34 minutes before the end of the match – and at the Lucas Oil Stadium – and so the scant crowd rained , who left after losing to Chicago between 27 and 17, dropped a couple of boos on luck as he left the field for the last time. "That hurt," Luck admitted, I do not think that's a big deal is, because any fan who stays in the preseason until the end of a match would be a passionate fan and would be ticked off that the star quarterback would not be in the team anymore, so I asked the biggest Colts fanatic I know, Summing up Angie Six of Fishers, Indiana, how she felt about the tornado that meant Luck's stunning retirement.
"I'm fine," Six wrote in an e-mail, but that does not mean that I do not have many have great feelings about it.  "I could not have been more shocked. My first thought? It's a joke. I sat alone at home watching Andrew's press conference. I was surprised that I cried. Seeing his fear to the fullest and hearing the vulnerability of describing his feelings towards Jacoby Brissett moved me to tears. I am saddened by the potential that was so close to the tangible size but never rewarded with a mastery.
"I'm thankful and thankful for a person who let me down a bit, but has greatly upgraded my community. As I browse through my Facebook and Twitter feeds, some of my Hoosier colleagues feel bitter rather than thankful. Most of the time, the feeling of gratitude – for going beyond the manning hole in our hearts, experiencing some incredible football moments, caring for sick children, and getting a book from time to time. I personally will look back with mixed feelings on this chapter in the history of the Colts. But even if I waver between feelings, I'm sure of two things: I have the utmost respect for Andrew Luck as a human being. And no matter how this season develops, we'll be fine. "
Luck, who had a very small circle around his decision, told Brissett on Friday that he quit. I hear Brissett was upset because he got close to luck, though the decision meant the young quarterback would have the chance to pilot a playoff team with many young talents. But of all the things I heard at the Luck press conference, what he said about Brissett-the backup that New England bought two years ago-was the most real.
Brissett arrived at Labor Day weekend 2017 in Indianapolis weeks later he was the Colt's starter for the remainder of the year, starting inglorious 15 games, winning four … and generating envy of the franchise guy he barely knew ,
Luck opened a vein on Saturday night about Brissett. "When I came back to the building at the beginning of last year, I was very jealous of this funny, happy guy who was on my side as quarterback. Obviously, I did not trust myself either. I could not have been wrong – in many ways. A lifelong friend, he means so much to me. He's a big part of me and a lot of me who had one of the most rewarding years of my life last year. I can not wait to support him and see him leading this team.
Glück's friend Hasselbeck was also impressed. "I got lyrics from QBs all over the league saying they were clogged about the relationship between Andrew and Jacoby," Hasselbeck said. "That was wonderful."
Brissett was a 59 percent passer in this lost 2017 season. Now he had a full year of no pressure to learn under Reich and Sirianni (and of course Luck), and the pressure has increased. The Colts took the lead last year with 10: 6 and, apart from the quarterback position, they seem to be clearly better all along the line. Ballard has done well, and this design class could bring four starters by the beginning of October.
And Indys first five Sundays are rough: at the Chargers, in Tennessee, Atlanta, Oakland, Kansas City. The worst for Luck is the best for Brissett. Since Luck has only been running three full blasts this spring and summer, Brissett has taken virtually all the snapshots of the Colts first-team offensive. When they prepare for the Chargers this coming weekend, Brissett will be in a place he's used to: the first unit. Nevertheless, he has to play a lot better than in 2017.
"The outside world thinks we are collapsing," Ballard said. "But we're pretty solid inside the building, do not worry about us and do not write the end of our story yet."
There's something else to note here. What do you think the remaining Colts players think this morning as they report on the last week of pre-season training? (And it will not surprise me if Reich notes this early and frequently.) Andrew is gone and everyone is throwing dirt on us. We are really good. Jacoby is really good Let's stay with anyone who calls us a 6-10 team.
It sounds cheesy and banal. Does that really work? I guarantee you, that's what a good part of the Colts think of 2019, to enter the strangest season they've had in a long time.
A few years ago, Luck founded the Andrew Luck Book Club with the desire to encourage people to read, share books that he loved, and introduce authors he admired. In his book club podcast, he once highlighted a book titled "When Breath Becomes Air," a posthumous essay by a Stanford neurosurgeon whose wife, Lucy Kalanithi, completed the book after his death. Stanford's fortune loved the book's hopeful message despite the tragic end of Paul Kalanithi. He had Lucy Kalanithi – a big Stanford football fan – in his podcast. She told me from California on Sunday that the interview with Luck was the most nervous for any media commercial after "When Breath Becomes Air" was released. "Honestly," she said, "I do not know if the New York Times review or Andrew's review for the Andrew Luck Book Club meant more to me."
"Paul and I really liked him because he was a brilliant quarterback and such a moral person," Lucy Kalanithi said. "What a hard decision [retiring] must have been for him."
Then said Lucy: "I can not wait to see what he does next."
You're not alone.
Bill Belichick I'll look back one day (as far as I know he already did) and Considering how unbelievable the Super Bowl 53 was for his team and his already historic reputation, the Rams averaged the top 33 NFC points in the regular season, with the Rams scoring three points in the Super Bowl, certainly great for the Patriots – One of the best defensive efforts on a big stage in NFL history, but also very bad for the Rams, and now that I dissect that day and know what it means for the future of LA, the Rams sc hwer, not to look back with regret.
That brought me to Rams Camp one morning this summer. Logic said they could have what if? Super Bowl Cat. I did not see anybody in the head coach's office.
"The best I've ever experienced in a season," said coach Sean McVay, strangely enough, considering that this was his shortest 12-year off-season as a professional coach. To see that the Rams had played until February. Strange, too, because McVay's offense in the 13-3 defeat in the Super Bowl was downright rotten. But the McVay I met was a classic McVay, not chastised McVay. He spent much of his off-season time getting engaged and driving to Cannes and the Italian Amalfi Coast. "I slept better," he said. "I could pull the plug. I think that has created a new sense of energy and enthusiasm. "
McVay has always been good at being honest with himself and his team. You may hear Vermeil's relentless optimism, but he's also good at finding the bad things for himself. And when McVay looks back on the Super Bowl's three-point nightmare, he knows he must continue to emphasize the Rams, who are the Rams, to make sure his team goes on well into January. And that's an aggressive, offensive, fast team – not a conservative team parrying a reputable opponent.
I had heard that McVay had criticized himself for pointing out the sixth game of the Rams as a metaphorical reason. It's a harmless piece, an incompleteness in the left apartment from a pressurized Jared Goff to Robert Woods. And nobody tasted the Rams here. But the sixth piece is interesting. Looking back, it's easy to see how the Rams could have and should have revealed the cover of the Patriots – four defenders spaced eight to ten yards across the field at the speed of Brandin Cook's and the profound accuracy of Goff as a weapon.
But the weird thing about this game and the Rams' efforts in the Super Bowl is how untypical it was. LA had been recording all season. And ten minutes after a goalless game against the Patriots, the Rams could have shot and taken the lead 7-0. On the first and tenth of the Pats' 49-yard line, McVay had three receivers from a triple-bunch formation close to the formation on the right. The cooks were left split, left alone. Cooks share the area between Cornerback Stephon Gilmore and the close security, Devin McCourty. Goff had 3.75 seconds to clear the ball before Patriot put pressure on him. After about 3.1 seconds, Cooks was past McCourty and took a few steps on Gilmore. He started to run to the post. Goff did not pull off. After 3.75 seconds under pressure, Goff threw him briefly to the left to avoid the sack.
McVay is a kind of coach who does not publicly criticize his players. And you feel that McVay, although wishing Goff had paved the way for Cooks, is more angry that he's so deeply buried in the plans for the big test versus Belichick, he did not have enough stress with Goff attack, attack, attack.
"We came to a certain piece that had answers to quarterly reporting," McVay said, pointing to the sixth Rams piece, "but I think the important thing is that you enable your players to make the intention of what we want to achieve, really understand and own. And here I have the feeling that I have come too short, because all we have asked of our boys, … What could I have done to have a better emergency plan and a better communication that is specific to the property, that we want from trainers and players … If I felt I was far from good enough, we would be able to really get an answer based on what they are doing in terms of reporting ,
In other words, because the Patriots had been almost single-security defense for the season, and since they were here with two depths of security in a rare four-page coverage scheme, it was up to McVay not just to name the right game (which he did)), but then to emphasize to Goff exactly what he saw and what deep shot could be made there. And he did not stress that enough, neither in the preparation for the game nor in the communication between coach and QB when he called the play.
McVay's lesson for 2019, both for him and for his quarterback: "Let's check that out You're just so driven not only by what you see on the tape, that, if it becomes something else, really not as ready as you expect, especially in order to enable your players to be ready. "
Not to mention what this one game would have done to the psyche of the game." I think it [could have] changed New England's approach, "McVay said," One of the things that I thought of "Both Bill and [defensive coordinator Brian] Flores have done an excellent job of continuing to play these coverages or those specific defenses until we let them pay." We never really did that, if you had one at the beginning of the game
"Such things appear in every single game, it's one thing to train people for their abilities, it's another thing to prepare them for their abilities, ability, guys can give instructions However, capacity is the ability to give them contingency plans and tools that they can use to solve the problems, even if they might something that you did not enter during the week and that you did not really practice.
"That's what I feel like I missed my team. "
McVay and Goff watched the Super Bowl – in its entirety and then certain games like the sixth. "If you say it's a learning opportunity, you can not shirk," McVay said.
Goff is 24. McVay is 33. Imagine what the Rams have achieved together in two seasons and continue to build on the fly with the youngest coach and one of the youngest quarterbacks in football: they have won 26 games; Only New England (29) has won more. They have scored 1,004 points in the regular season, most in football in those two years. They played very defensively and badly in the Super Bowl. It would be a surprise if the clunker clung to a young team.
"The cool thing about Jared and me is that we're growing together," said McVay. I did not even have much experience in coordinating or calling games before I became head coach. He has a refreshing safety in him. He starts a handful of games as a beginner, but our common growth and maturing together … I think we both gain a real appreciation for this experience. Next time he sees something similar [to the sixth play in the Super Bowl]there is no doubt for me.
Carli Lloyd, 37, is the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year twice and twice FIFA Women's World Champion World Champion with the US Women's National Team. She went to the Eagles' camp in Philadelphia, near her home in South Jersey, to attend a training session with the Ravens and Eagles. While she was there, she was invited to join the Ravens special teams to reach the tight goalposts that NFL footballers train with during the week and out of season. While the regular owner Sam Koch took the lead, Lloyd prevailed with a 55-yard field goal. I talked to her the next day.
FMIA: How did that happen?
Lloyd: "I love the eagles. I've been an Eagles fan all my life. Ich hatte einen freien Tag und dachte, ich würde herauskommen. Randy Brown, der ehemalige Bürgermeister einer Stadt in meiner Nähe in New Jersey, ist ein [assistant special-teams] Trainer der Ravens, der mich seit Jahren nervt, um zu einer Praxis zu gehen. Ich habe meine Stiefel mitgebracht. Ich könnte den ganzen Tag treten. Ich könnte den ganzen Tag über Tore schießen. Ich liebe es total. Ähnliches gilt für das Treten eines Fußballs und das Treten eines Fußballs. Ich liebe es, lange Bälle im Fußball zu treten, und das überträgt sich auf den Fußball. Die Technik ist dieselbe und ich denke, ich bin sehr genau. Also fing ich mit 25 an und sie bewegten mich immer wieder zurück. Ich denke, ich habe einen Short getroffen. Es gab ein Paar mit dem Wind, der weit ging. Ich wurde 55, und das war es. Ein Versuch. Es war gut. Ich hatte keine Ahnung, dass jemand es auf Video aufzeichnete oder auf ein Handyvideo übertrug. Ich habe es ab 57 versucht, aber es war breit; entfernung war gut Ich hätte weitermachen können – mein Wettbewerbscharakter. Aber ich hatte das Gefühl, sie dort draußen aufzuhalten. “
FMIA: Wie war die Reaktion und haben die Teams Kontakt aufgenommen?
Lloyd: „ Als wir kamen im auto war es unglaublich. Die Texte, die Videos, alles wird viral. Ich hatte keine Ahnung. Es war verrückt. Es ist immer noch verrückt. Ich konnte die Aufmerksamkeit auf Social Media nicht fassen. Eigentlich hatte ich gerade ein Gespräch mit Randy. Die Trainer und sein GM haben alle das Video gesehen. Sie sagten: Was macht sie nächste Woche? Ich lache darüber, aber je mehr ich darüber nachdenke, desto größer ist die Chance, dass dies für Frauen ein bahnbrechender Moment wird. “
FMIA: Glaubst du, eine Frau könnte ein erfolgreicher Kicker in der NFL sein? Es würde viel Druck geben.
Lloyd: „Ich weiß, dass ich es wahrscheinlich tatsächlich schaffen könnte. Helm aufsetzen, Polster aufschnallen, los geht's. Die Denkweise, die ich habe, denke ich mit Übung, ich weiß, dass ich an meinen Schritten und meiner Technik arbeiten muss, aber ich denke, ich könnte es schaffen und es gut machen. Es könnte ein großer entscheidender Moment sein. Es gibt keinen Grund, warum eine Frau dies nicht tun könnte. Und ich lade tatsächlich den Druck ein. Ich liebe den Druck. Wenn ich etwas festnageln muss – Reifen schießen, Axt werfen, ein Feldtor treffen -, dann ist das der Moment, für den ich lebe und den ich will. Es kommt auf den Verstand an und trainiert den Verstand. Es lohnt sich, ein paar Gespräche darüber zu führen. Mit Übung und jemandem, der mir zeigt, weiß ich, dass ich es schaffen kann. Ich habe eine der genauesten Aufnahmen in unserem Spiel. Eine große Sache wäre, sich an die großen Jungs da draußen zu gewöhnen. Aber nichts macht mir Angst. Sie halten sich zurück, wenn Sie Angst haben. Was ist das Schlimmste, was passieren kann? Ich mache das Team nicht? Sagen wir einfach, ich habe es versucht. Vielleicht ändere ich die Landschaft sehr. “
FMIA: Was würden Sie als 8-jähriges Mädchen irgendwo in Amerika denken, wenn Sie zuschauen, wie Sie es für ein NFL-Team versuchen?
Lloyd: „Oh, das wäre gewaltig. Ziemlich massiv. Wenn ich ein kleines Mädchen wäre und einen weiblichen NFL-Kicker gesehen hätte, wäre das cool. “
„ In den letzten vier Jahren war ich in diesem Zyklus von Verletzungen und Schmerzen. Reha; Verletzungen, Schmerzen, Reha. Es war unaufhörlich und unerbittlich, sowohl in der Saison als auch außerhalb der Saison. Ich fühlte mich darin gefangen. Der einzige Ausweg ist, nicht mehr Fußball zu spielen. “
– Andrew Luck, der am Samstagabend im Alter von 29 Jahren seinen Rücktritt ankündigte.
„ Ich hoffe, er wird Präsident von die Vereinigten Staaten. "
– Dallas-Besitzer Jerry Jones über das Glück.
" Wenn ich so spiele wie heute, wird es ein langes Jahr. " 19659082] —Wikinger-Quarterback Kirk Cousins nach seinem Dreier-Auftritt am Samstag in einem Debakel vor der Saison gegen Arizona.
„Sie können mich alles fragen, was Sie wollen, warum ich ihn mag . I think it’s time to start asking the people that didn’t like him what they think, quite frankly.”
—Giants coach Pat Shurmur, on the draft choice everyone seemed to hate in April, quarterback Daniel Jones, on Thursday, after Jones had a strong outing against Cincinnati. Jones is 25-of-30 this pre-season, with a gaudy 12.3-yards-per-attempt and a rating of 140.1.
“They did their research on that pick. That was a great pick. Josh is very talented, very athletic. It’s freaky, man … I call him him LeBron James.”
—Jacksonville linebacker Myles Jack on rookie pass-rusher Josh Allen, to The Athletic.
“Luke was an amazing y oung man. It’s such a tragedy. It’s so hard to understand. But I know I will—and anyone who ever knew him will—be inspired by the life he lived.”
—Dallas coach Jason Garrett on the death of Luke Laufenberg, a Texas-El Paso tight end and son former Cowboys quarterback and longtime Dallas media personality Babe Laufenberg. Luke died of cancer last week.
Bobby Wagner • Seattle inside linebacker • Photographed in Renton, Wash.
On being one of four NFL players out of 1,700 rated players this year to get a near-perfect 99 rating in the “Madden” video game:
“Huge honor. A blessing. Growing up as a kid, I played ‘Madden.’ I always created myself. I made myself a 99. So it’s pretty cool they did it for me.
“I view the inside linebacker position as the quarterback of the defense, a very important role on the football field. If you look at the great defenses, they always had a really good inside linebacker. It’s good to see the league, and the outside world, finally seeing that about an extremely important part of the defense. It’s getting a little respect now. We have an amazing group of guys playing the inside linebacker position. The more young guys come in and elevate the game, the more the position will get its just due.”
Since Aug. 1, 2017:
• The Ravens are 12-0 in preseason games. The Falcons are 0-12 in preseason games.
• The Ravens are 19-14, including postseason. The Falcons are 18-16, including postseason.
Just another reason to pay zero attention to preseason results.
Now that we know Le’Veon Bell will not play in the preseason for the New York Jets, we know, assuming he will play on opening day against Buffalo, it’s going to be 601 days between his last game with the Steelers and his first game with the Jets.
That is a longer time out of football games than the terms of three of our 45 United States presidents: William Henry Harrison (31 days), James A. Garfield (199 days) and Zachary Taylor (492 days).
Saturday was not a football day. It was a Don Banks day.
With about 100 of those who were closest to him in attendance at the EMC Club behind home plate at Fenway Park—boy, would Don have been pleased to be feted for eternity in Fenway—friends and family spent 100 minutes paying tribute to Don. He died in his sleep Aug. 4; the coroner thinks it very likely was a heart issue that killed Don in the Courtyard Marriott in Canton.
His widow, Alissa, wrote a lovely ode in the program for the service for Don. His son, Matt, 28, spoke an eloquent eulogy for Don. His brother Doug, a minister, gave a lovely tribute and prayers to his younger sibling. His best friend, John Romano, the Tampa columnist and college classmate from South Florida, was emotional and spot-on with his tribute for Don. His very good friend, Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times (Don used to call Sam his “road wife”), was touchingly hilarious, concentrating on Don’s Caliendo-like imitations, from Denny Green to John McClain. Don’s father-in-law, and his nephew, and pal Andrew Perloff, and I spoke. His buddy Mike Reiss spoke, and, in an incredibly thoughtful gesture, had “Snap Judgments” pens made. The Red Sox’s Gordon Edes—former scribe—did us a huge favor and put a tribute to Don on the center field video board.
Here is the cover of the program for the service:
It was heartening to see the show of support, with people coming from the deep south, from Los Angeles, from Germany, from Las Vegas (his new sports editor, Bill Bradley, flew in, in a major class move the family will never forget), from New York and points south and west, to show their affection for Don. I originally found his death incredibly cruel—he’d been working a new job he loved, as the NFL writer for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, for three days—but in the three weeks that have passed since his death, I’ve mellowed a bit, thanks in part to my friend Dan Pompei. Dan is a man of faith, and his point when Don died was that he was back on top of his game, and left the earth on top, and he died a very happy man. And maybe that’s all any of us should hope for out of life—to die fulfilled, doing what we love.
Don’s 21-year-old son, Micah, a student at George Washington, put it best for the living in the days before the memorial:
“Remember the Boston Globe baseball writer who died last spring, Nick Cafardo? I was hanging out with my dad when that happened. Nick died on the job one day, covering the Red Sox. I remember my dad saying, ‘Well, that’s the way to go, doing what you love.’ That seems sort of fitting now—my dad, doing what he loved in Canton, Ohio.”
Out of the mouths of sons …
What’s your best habit, ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky?
“Waking up early and doing something. Most days I am up by about 5 a.m. and right away when I wake up, I accomplish something. Most days it’s time in my Bible or devotional, some days it’s working out, some days it’s writing down a goal for the day and spending time thinking about that. I never wake up and just sit around. It’s grab a cup of coffee and get going. Getting up and going kind of sets my tempo or rhythm for the day and focuses my mind on the day.”
And your worst habit?
“I never close cabinet doors or drawers. It drives my wife insane. I don’t know why or when or how it started exactly but I have my assumptions. We have triplet boys who are now 7. When they were younger, our life was pure insanity, and 20 minutes of quiet or peace was like gold. When they would go down to nap or sleep, I would make sure I did nothing, absolutely nothing, to wake them. And if that meant never shutting a draw or door that may make noise, I wouldn’t do it. That has now carried over when it no longer matters. But it drives my wife mad.”
The mail flowed to [email protected] on the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck. Some of it, followed by a couple of thoughts from me.
• This Colt fan understands. From Brett Dills: “I have been a Colts fan since they moved here in 1984. Last night was the biggest gut punch I have felt about this team in 35 years. Not out of a sense of betrayal by Andrew Luck or the Colts organization, but because this was a season that appeared to have so much promise and a real chance to go to the Super Bowl. But I fully support his decision to retire He put his body on the line week after week for this organization. Clearly the pain in his body is causing him mental anguish … I purchased a three-game ticket package earlier this week, optimistic of Luck’s return from this injury. If I am being honest, I would have taken a more ‘wait and see’ approach had this been announced sooner. But I plan on going to these games and supporting the 53 men who will represent our city. I have faith in Chris Ballard to find a way forward.”
• A young boy says thanks. From David Ray Lewis: “As a freshman, at a new high school, away from my hometown, I struggled. I struggled making friends, I struggled finding myself. I found football. I found this new hotshot Andrew Luck. I studied Andrew, and what made him so good. Football became my passion afterwards. It became my source of weekly relief from many things. I hope it becomes my career. Andrew Luck helped a scared high schooler find himself. The news broke me but I’m happy that he is now finding himself. I wish him nothing but the best and hope he realizes how much of an impact he had on so many people.”
• ‘The ultimate me move.’ From Rob Goulet: “This was the ultimate ME move in the history of TEAM sports. Shocking coming from a Pro Bowl QB and leader, who holds the livelihoods of so many others in his hands. Why wait until week three of the preseason? If his heart hasn’t been in it for a while (listening to his comments, this has weighed on him for years now), he should’ve left his team in a better situation.”
• Adam questions Adam. From Adam Leonard: “I’m not struggling with my reaction to Andrew Luck’s decision to retire; I watched the entire press conference and have no doubt that he did the right thing. No, what I struggle with is Adam Schefter releasing the information while Luck was still on the sideline, thus precipitating the circumstances which resulted in the booing that Luck had to endure as his last on-field memory of his time in Indianapolis. I get that this was a HUGE story, biggest of 2019. I just can’t help but thinking that Schefter could have waited until he was in the locker room before breaking the news and had he done so, Luck would have been spared that ignominy.”
• A historically significant event. From James Killian III: “I’m quite certain that years from now this will be pointed to as a touchstone in the NFL’s history. Players getting smarter about giving away their future when they have money to shut it down. Every player doesn’t have that kind of money, but I do believe you’ll see more people doing that.”
Thanks to the dozens who wrote about Luck’s retirement on Sunday. So many interesting points of view. Three thoughts:
• Schefter cannot hold that story. He just can’t. If he found out about it in this dog-eat-dog competitive world of NFL scoopism, he can’t be sure Ian Rapoport or Jay Glazer is not going to hear and report it. The timing was unfortunate, but a reporter can’t be worried about that.
• In time, I think most Colts fans will get over the shock of it and think Luck’s a good man who just got tired of felling crappy. It is a tough pill, though, having the rug pulled out two weeks before the real games.
• Interesting point, the “touchstone-in-history” thing. Ich weiß es nicht. Luck, had he hung in, probably could have/would have made more than $200 million over the rest of his football life. I don’t know many players in that circumstance who would say, “I’m good. I’ve got enough. I quit.”
1. I think the three biggest winners from the preseason weekend were:
a. Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, now 25 for 30 in preseason play, with two of his throws in Cincinnati deep balls on target.
b. Ravens rookie quarterback Trace McSorley, who threw two gorgeous TD passes against Philadelphia and showed he’s more than just the 2019 version of Taysom Hill.
c. All those people who did not buy tickets to Raiders-Packers in Winnipeg.
2. I think the three biggest losers from the preseason weekend were:
a. All those people would did buy tickets to Raiders-Packers in Winnipeg.
b. Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, who has to hope completing three of 13 against Arizona won’t matter in 13 days.
c. The Texans, for likely losing Lamar Miller to a torn ACL in a meaningless game against Dallas.
3. I thinkstill, the Texans should either trade a high pick or picks to Washington left tackle Trent Williams, or figure out a Jadeveon Clowney-for-Williams deal. The more I think of this, the more one of those two deals makes a huge amount of sense for Washington. By the way, good idea by Washington to start Case Keenum, who is a pro’s pro and will keep the seat warm for Dwayne Haskins.
4. I think the more nosing around I did about the uselessness of the preseason, and the enmity that is creating for fans and coaches alike, the more I am hearing that the owners are using this as a chip in bargaining for the new CBA with players. Which is fraught with problems, as far as I am concerned. So the current CBA runs through the end of the 2020 season, which means that unless there is a new deal before next May, the NFL will have the same idiotic four-preseason-games-per-team schedule in 2020. This cannot stand. Roger Goodell has to convince owners that the damage to the game for making fans pay regular-season prices for lousy football goes far beyond the owners losing a few hundred thousand each August.
5. I think I have an idea (actually I stole this idea from a smart NFL person): Make every ticket to every preseason game league-wide cost $20. Then the season-ticket-holder won’t have to pay an absurd price to see the third-string guys play a glorified scrimmage. A season-ticket-holder will have to pay, say, $160 for the two exhibition games total, instead of maybe $1,200.
6. I think Jerry Jones is right: He has earned the right to kid around with Ezekiel Elliott. (“Zeke who?”) But just because you’re earned the right to do something doesn’t mean you should do it—particularly, in this case, during a very sensitive time like a contract holdout.
7. I think this startled me, and it left the impression that Miami coach Brian Flores didn’t realize the possible ramifications of challenging receiver Kenny Stills—who has been having a mediocre camp and who has major problems with new NFL consultant Jay-Z—by playing eight consecutive Jay-Z songs at the start of a practice last week. Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com detailed the story well. You may recall Flores called out Stills for not keeping his criticism of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross in-house over Ross hosting a major Donald Trump fundraiser. So it’s likely Stills isn’t the biggest Flores fan right now—not that all players are going to like their head coaches, and that shouldn’t be the reason why a coach makes any decision. Flores said he did it to “challenge Kenny to perform regardless of whatever is going on outside.” I understand why Flores made the call—truly. But this situation is not your normal coach-motivating-player deal. The racial and social sensitivity over this issue, to an immensely socially conscious person such as Stills, is a tinderbox. Flores’ decision struck me as a taunt, or a troll, whatever he meant. I think Flores made a mistake.
8. I think this is the bottom line: You have to be yourself as a head coach, and if that’s absolutely who Flores is, then he’ll rise and fall in part using tools like that one. And I don’t think this necessarily plays any part in his actions, but assistants who have left the Belichick womb have found out—quickly—that players don’t automatically respect a coach greatly just because he fell out of the Belichick tree. A coach has to make his own path, and earn respect that has nothing to do with the fact that he got a master’s degree in Belichickology for a decade or longer.
9. I think I love Mike Zimmer’s postgame press conferences, particularly when he hasn’t had much time to cool off. The Vikings sent a 2020 fifth-round pick to Baltimore for Norwegian kicker Kaare Vedvik earlier this month, and Saturday against Arizona, in the Vikes’ climateless home stadium, Vedvik missed wide left from 43 yards and wide right from 54 yards. Asked by a reporter afterward about his level of concern with Vedvik, Zimmer said: “High.”
10. I think these are my other thoughts of the week:
a. Football Story of the Week: by Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times, on the rebirth of football in a California town torn asunder by wildfires.
b. There’s so much emotion in that story, and Plaschke captured it so well, the highs and the lows. And the preseason-opening speech from assistant coach Andy Hopper to the Paradise Bobcats.
c. Hopper: “We don’t feel sorry for ourselves. There ain’t one damn victim in here! I feel like God chose us. I’m not saying God created that fire; I’m saying God chose us to say, ‘You know what, I’m going to make these guys the smartest dudes on earth, that they can go through something so horrible and come out the other end and represent to the rest of the world what a man can do.’”
d. Smart Football Story of the Week: by Ken Belson of the New York Times, about how a collision in a touch football game last year led to some much needed changes, and to the wearing of soft helmets, in a Texas league.
e. The scene set by Belson—4,000 players in a huge Texas 7-on-7 tournament in June, all wearing soft helmets after a jarring brain injury suffered by a bare-headed player last year—is vivid and important. Because of that injury, Belson reported, all 7-on-7 play in Texas will require the soft helmets now. You think that this kind of football should be devoid of head trauma, but fast kids running into each other can happen in touch football. The soft helmets seem like a perfect idea.
f. Little League Story of the Week: by Steve Politi of the Newark Star-Ledger, on his search for the umpire he gave a double-bird salute to after a controversial call in a 1980s New Jersey baseball game.
g. Football Story of the Week: Kalyn Kahler of Sports Illustrated on the Bears’ very strange kicker derby this offseason.
h. The reporting on this story is terrific. You’ve got to see the pictures Kahler obtained of the rookie minicamp kicker results, with comments on each of eight kickers, like “Ball trajectory is a major concern.”
i. I kept thinking as I read this Kahler story: This is the kind of classic SI story from the eighties, the one everyone on the beat read and said, ‘It’s so quirky and original—wish I’d written that.’
j. Seems like The Hunger Games for kickers. And, of course, the Bears still haven’t found one.
k. Sad Story of the Week: Sofia Saric of the Boston Globe on the tragic murder of a Boston University student.
l. It’s been a long time since I read about a more senseless crime.
m. Beernerdness: Nothing wrong, I suppose, with Stella Artois (Leuven, Belgium), but I find it a boring pilsner. Tastes watered down to me.
n. Congrats to Trent Dilfer and his Lipscomb (Tenn.) Academy football team. In Dilfer’s first game as a high school football coach, the Mustangs beat Glencliff 66-8.
o. One word for those MLB nickname uniforms: hideous.
p. Of course, Jedd Gyorko adorning his nameplate with Seinfeldian reference “Jerk-Store” is priceless, but I’m just curious: Do players and managers and coaches really like this? I do love what Brett Gardner had on his back Saturday.
Just my opinion:
Football was tormenting Luck.
He had to get out.