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Home / Sports / Football is changing fast, as Lamar Jackson's rise shows – ProFootballTalk

Football is changing fast, as Lamar Jackson's rise shows – ProFootballTalk

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BALTIMORE – "M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P! "That was the thunderous song of a good part of the 70,731 who hailed the surprising Texan's 41-7 escape on Sunday, the love of a city spilling over Lamar Jackson. The vocals could have been biased parochial a few weeks ago, but not more. It's not a barrier, but Jackson could have preceded Russell Wilson with other highlights in the MVP race to scold Deion, including his first-ever completion of the submarine, Kent Tekulve. Every week it's something with this guy. Something that is fun. Something exciting.

Football is changing so fast.

A design can change a crew for 15 years. The draft of 2018 was likely to hit the Ravens, and only because their personnel management had moved the envelope in front of most of the front offices. One month can change one season. The Ravens won 4-2 a month ago and have since beaten Seattle, New England and Houston (108-43). The Patriots were the AFC home locks a month ago, and they still managed to win them. But Baltimore are the better team today, especially after the defensive stifling of Deshaun Watson on Sunday.

Football is also changing fast in other ways. Certainly for Jackson.

Ten months ago there was another song by the fans in this stadium. They wanted Joe Flacco in and Jackson out. Notice? Jackson completed three passes in the first 50 minutes of the Chargers' playoff loss. Think about it today. Incomprehensible! His pass rating by 50 minutes? Jackson threw a blood arctic. Zero point zero. His late-season bubble burst. I was there 45 days ago. I was stunned. John Harbaugh did not call Flacco to give the boy who looked like he was about to take a break.

In a quiet moment, Sunday, an hour after the crowd was done with Jackson, I found him at his locker. It seemed a bit cruel to dig up the worst day of his short career. But I had heard that this game had knocked him down, and I had heard that hatred had motivated him to make sure it never happened again. How much motivation did this game provide? I asked myself.

"Oh man, very much," Jackson said immediately. "A lot of motivation. I have … often seen this game. I criticized myself, watched myself and studied myself. I did not look like I was there. That's not fair to my teammates. I have to build from that. Be a better player. Be a better teammate. I have to keep going. This one playoff game is a thing of the past. "

But maybe not.

"It haunts me. I want to bring my team back there and on. "

Man, what a week full of news. Myles Garrett's few seconds of violence, Colin Kaepernick's clash with the ugly end of the league, Chicago's season (and earlier long-term quarterback) disintegrating on a terrible night in Los Angeles … and the Ravens join the new team on Mount NFL six very similar weeks to play.

For a minute, just for fun, we focus on sports talk candy. The MVP. I would give it to Jackson today with a beard. Wilson, with less offensive support, gave the Niners his first defeat on the road, winning six out of seven while running most of his life. Jackson's pace to rush 1,261 yards and eliminate Michael Vick's quarterback rushing record by 222 yards. He is a weekly highlight factory. "He's just crazy and we're on the boat with him," said Seth Roberts, the traveling Breitling who caught the first of four Jackson TDs on Sunday. "Never, never, never seen anything like Freaky L." Well, he is. But he is not a MVP to be a highlight. In head-to-head matches with his midweek MVP competition, Wilson and Watson have:

  • Jackson scores 2: 0.
  • His pass rating is 116.2.

If you're a leader in the MVP race after 11 weeks (if it's him), then buy a Grand Pumpkin Spice Latte at $ 6. It does not mean anything, but if Jackson has a few more days like Sunday, he would be the youngest MVP winner since Jim Brown in 1957 and 1958, just before his 22nd and 23rd birthday. More recently, Dan Marino and Patrick Mahomes were 23 years and a few months old when they won in 1984 and 2018, respectively. Jackson will be on January 7, 23; The award will be handed out 29 days later.

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. (Getty Images)

It's now easy to see Baltimore and be seduced by the quarterback. That's why the team is so good. Of course it is the biggest reason. But I'll give you two more reasons. First, you are smart on the design day. Second, you have stones on the design day.

On the first day of the draft for 2018, the Ravens had a choice – the 16th overall. They had three seasons without playoffs behind them. They had a 33-year-old quarterback whom they had fallen in love with, though Flacco could not win a Super Bowl after five years. Her offensive core had to be filled up. It was GM Ozzie Newsomes last draft before his retirement. This was a big quarterback draft, with Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Jackson planning to enter the first round. There were scouts in the building who loved Jackson. Secretly, Newsome and his assistant GM DeCosta (Newsome's Legacy) loved Jackson. And owner Steve Bisciotti was also excited about the electric Jackson because he wanted to breathe life into a competitive, but uninteresting franchise. The lack of interest in vanilla football was also apparent at the gate.

"We wanted a lot that day," said DeCosta, the GM freshman, after the game on Sunday. "With the way the design fell this year, we have seen a way to really improve our offense. We had hoped that the phone will ring at 16. "

Baltimore took 16th place to trade with Buffalo 22 and 65." We reach 22 and all the players we like are still there, "DeCosta said. "So we exchanged again." Baltimore used 22 and moved it to Tennessee for 25 and 125. Newsome and DeCosta had not shared with the boy scouts or coaches who loved Jackson, so it was no wonder when they decided to choose a player at age 25. It was not Jackson.

Hayden Hurst, Tight End, South Carolina. The fancy baseball pitcher. I threw the Yips in the Minor League system of the pirates and switched to football. "We loved him," DeCosta said.

But I was wondering if you loved a quarterback. Every selection goes by and you may lose it. Cincinnati is 21 and could pick him. Maybe Denver or Miami will come at the start of the second round to pick him up. Mobile type. Big arm. Winner.

Jackson was also cynical, which helped the raven. He was asked to work as a consignee at the combine and refused. "I'm a quarterback," he said. Hall of Famer GM Bill Polian said he could serve as the recipient. There were rumors that the Bengals did not like him. As in most designs, the Ravens used a best-guessing strategy and a network of people in and around the game and in the media to track down information.

"You have to use a strategy somehow," DeCosta said. "We felt that there was a good chance that Lamar could be there later in the first round, in the early part of the second round. We were ready, if we could, to trade back, to trade back, to accumulate capital and then possibly either trade again or make a game in a second round and get Lamar at that point. But you know, it was a risk. "

" Were you nervous about losing him? "I asked.

" We were. We were. But I think you need to stay as clinical as possible the moment you can and just keep going with all your best information and the plan. So yes, you are always nervous. You accept that you lose some players who work this way. But I think we try to be as modest as possible and not get involved in the moment.

Jackson and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, April 2018. [Getty Images]

Two picks before Philly at 32, the Ravens called Philadelphia GM Howie Roseman. He wanted to get from 32 to 52, but it would cost Baltimore's choice in the second round of 2019. So two deuces for Jackson? Newsome and Jackson were fine with it. "We did not tell anyone what we wanted to try," DeCosta said. "Designs are so strange. It's just Ozzie and me at the bottom of the table, the only ones who really know. If you are trying to make such an important decision, try to keep it as calm as possible. Because it's not that you do not want to share it with others, but the downside – which would lose the player – is far greater than the downside of sharing the information with someone you care about.

I do not even interview Lamar in the harvester because we did not want to be associated with him. We did not want rumors about us and him. They do not have that. We were proud of that. So we select him and hear him talk and hear his emotions and see Lamar on television with Deion Sanders, so happy, and see his conviction and see his competitiveness. That's a powerful thing. After the election was announced, we did not even have the opportunity to let the scouts and trainers know.

They could hear the trainers and they could hear the Boy Scouts. That was a powerful moment for us. Addendum: Do you remember the 65th pick purchased from Buffalo? Baltimore gave 65 against Oakland for 75, 152 and 212. Baltimore gave 75 against Kansas City for 86 and 122. Baltimore gave 152 against Tennessee for 162 and 215.

The 65th election yielded five players. Two (Jordan Lasley and Greg Senate) are gone. Third-round-tight-end Mark Andrews is the fifth-highest tight end at receptions in the NFL. Six-hour guard Bradley Bozeman starts. Fourth-round linebacker Kenny Young was exchanged with Marcus Peters for a pick in the fifth round this year, having two Pick Six TD's in his first four games with the Ravens.

Not a bad draft. Baltimore basically turned the 16th Draft and two Deuces into a long-term quarterback and a tight end, a take-off guard and a one-year upgrade in the corner.

The Ravens became courageous. Six trades and the ability to breathe deeply and be ready to lose a player you're sure is a franchise quarterback. What if they lost Jackson? What if someone let her jump to take Jackson? Would not be such a clever strategy now.

You have not lost Jackson. Nobody has jumped. You give your best. They use your best information. What happened here is exactly why the Ravens are a competitive franchise, and better since they moved to Baltimore in 1996.

In April, the Ravens asked Jackson to perform on a draft party on the third day of the draft weekend. Sure, he said. He would be in New York on Friday night to see a concert with some teammates and he would get up on Saturday and drive back to Maryland for the event. He went to the concert and got up on Saturday to drive home. One problem: he could not find any of his teammates. He called and texted, but to no avail. So he got in his car and drove back to the draft event.

He then drove to New York for more than three hours to pick up the teammate. And immediately turned around and drove to Baltimore.

He really did not have to do that. The teammate could have boarded the train to get home. No, said Jackson; we came together and I bring him home.

Jackson and offensive lineman Matt Skura. (Getty Images)

Football is great with Jackson. But you also have to have the other stuff – the leadership, your teammates who have your back, a good locker room. Jackson brings that too.

They are also convinced that he will never get a rating of 0.0 again. Ever. There will not be a defeat like last January if Jackson has anything to do with it.

"I've seen the game often enough," Jackson said. "I saw it with my brother. We talked about it. I hate this game. I really hated it because I'm not. I do not play with my abilities at all. That's not fair, as I said, for my teammates, my coaching staff. So every week I try to get better. And that starts in training. "When he arrived as a rookie, he said," I want to be a better practice player because I sucked off the training everywhere, but in one game I was able to show up. So I want to be a better practice player and a game player.

It works.

We all can and want to have opinions about the Colin Kaepernick training history. Mine: Here's a guy who has been asking for teams to train him in the last two years, and although the Arrangements on Saturday did not exactly meet his expectations, the NFL arranged that he had for the first time 20 teams in the Atlanta Falcons training facility training in front of NFL Scouts (mostly at low levels), with the agreement that a video of the training for each GM and coaches and every staff member in the league is available, which was not good enough in the end, and Kaepernick had a problem with the waiver he had to sign (I was told that this waiver is essentially the same as a tryout-wide receiver He did not trust the NFL to send the full videotape to the teams, he did not trust that the NFL motives were pure – and asked the scouts to see him if the league does not do it for anyone. One … sorry … after … the other. Anyone who asks for a rehearsal, at the age of 32, puts all these obstacles in front of them and then abandons the NFL training and relocates it to a field in high school that is 100km away, while his last chances in the NFL play, dwindle and more from day to day? If that were me and I would like to return to the NFL, I would show up and show these NFL scouts how wrong they were and their organizations – whether it was a real rehearsal or something that allowed the NFL to say it tries.

But my opinion is pointless. I do not make any NFL decisions. It is more important to find out what the decision makers think. I called a few experienced and smart NFL people 24 hours after training (no names, positions or teams to ensure openness).

I will rewrite three points that I have learned.

1. Is a backup quarterback worth it? Maybe he will not be a backup for a long time. and if he signed with a team like Cincinnati, he might have a good shot to win the 2020 start job. But put the cards on the table. No one had trained him in more than two years. The NFL said that some teams were interested in training him, but I do not know if that's true. I did not hear a single word about him as a footballer this year. No syllable. One wondered again and again why he would not go to this training this weekend, despite his disgust for the NFL, with the seriousness of a player who longs to play professional football.

Colin Kaepernick. (Getty Images)

2. You may be surprised, but I believe that there is a (low) NFL interest. I said to one of the two NFL people: Remember Kaepernicks last year for the 49er, 2016? He worked very hard, was cooperative with the press, gave a statement on social justice, knelt down before the games, but was absolutely serious about winning, practicing and leading the team. I think Kaepernick has to say he will be a footballer in the six or seven months of the preseason and the season and will give up his political and social efforts for the postseason. I do not know anything about the kneeling part. Of course, in some markets and teams, it will hurt. Good feeling: At some point in the next six months I bet (we probably will not find out), Käpernick meets very quietly with a team.

. 3 One person I spoke to said he thought three coaches would fit in with Kaepernick: Frank Reich of the Colts (nothing bothers him and he's a good teacher), boss Andy Reid (contracted Michael Vick from Leavenworth , does not care about fire in front of his door) and Bruce Arians / Byron Leftwich in Tampa (good teachers, hard dears). For me, this person emphasized how important it is for Kaepernick to go to a place where he can focus on football and learn football and return to a football regime after about three years. The most interesting thing in this regard is the person who wonders how long ago it has been since Kaepernick was hit. If he signs, is it 40 months since he played football?

Of course it's easy for me to say: Just pick it up and play, dude. But Kaepernick is wired differently. I thought something I read on Sunday night from The Athletic's Marcus Thompson II was smart and relevant.

"It has been clear for years that the league does not want him," wrote Thompson. "And suddenly the league extends an olive branch days before week 11? That smells like a setup in progress. But I would do it anyway. Because I'm just a guy. I would not feel big enough, strong enough to take over a billionaire business. I would know that I was rushed, but I would just take the risk that I was wrong. For what other option would I have in the end? Some forces feel too big. Some defeats seem inevitable. That is how most people feel. You take what you can get. Often, you are content with what is less than you deserve. You endure, what you know is wrong, because it's not as bad as it could be. I would say that this is the best I can hope for. I would be persuaded to be grateful for the opportunity. I would probably call it a blessing, all the while I know I'm probably going to play. Who am I to take no olive branch when the NFL, owner of dreams, offers one?

"But that's why Colin Kaepernick is different and so loved. That's why I find it inspiring. He only refuses to bow in order to question his beliefs. "

Something smart, what to think of Kaepernicks decision on Saturday.

Aside from the fact that I can not remember anything that was so scary in the last 20 years in which I watched the sport:

• I think the NFL did the most good of it. I would have given Pittsburgh's center Maurkice Pouncey two games instead of three because he had just seen his quarterback make the most violent attack most of us have experienced, and a center / leader like Pouncey is the mother of his inexperienced quarterback. He will strike violently at the attacker. I argue over the length of the suspension, but he definitely deserves it.

• I would approve of Mason Rudolph, but not suspend him for his role. I agree that he went overboard to pull Garrett off, and whether he tried to pull Garrett off by kicking his midsection / groin with his foot is an exaggeration to me , In my opinion, however, this is not a suspensible offense. And if that caused Garrett to get out of hand, that's 90 percent of Garrett, who must have more self-control.

• Regarding Garrett, I certainly hope that he does not win his appeal. In two short interviews I have experienced that he is thoughtful and serious about being great in football. It seems he just caught. He should spend his time, repent and return to being the great player he is and the cornerstone Cleveland has created for him. Although showing signs of over-aggressiveness, this act transcends the Rubicon and the Browns need to find out if advice is alright. If he shows good repentance and is working to get this back in time with Rudolph and the Cleveland fan base, I would like him back on the field for Week 1 next year. Offense Player of the Week

Jimmy Garoppolo, quarterback, San Francisco. He found out exactly how to fight a mediocre Monday night against Seattle. Garoppolo's game in the 30-26 win over Arizona, which returned early from 16-0, was what a big quarterback did. He graduated 34 of 45 for 424 yards with four touchdowns and two picks. He drove the Niners 65 yards in eight games in the last 2:15 and finished with a 25-yard TD pass for the completely unknown return of Jeff Wilson. Niners 36, very hard cards 26.

Dak Prescott, quarterback, Dallas. Great day for Dak in Detroit, just when Dallas needed him. His 274 yards in the first half, a career best in the first half, put the Cowboys on a lead of 24-14, and he finished the day as the fourth player in NFL history with more than 3,000 yards and 20 touchdown passes in each of his first four NFL seasons. For this day, he completed 29 of 46 for 444 yards, three TDs and no picks. (What's that, just a passer-by rating of 116.6?) Wrong. Prescott has thrown 841 yards in consecutive games, more than Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman or Tony Romo – or any Dallas quarterback ever – has gathered. Pay the man, Jerry.

Defensive Player of the Week

Maxx Crosby, defensive end, Oakland. How crazy is it that the Alum of the Mid-American Conference with the most sacks in the league is not Khalil Mack (Buffalo) from Chicago, but Crosby (Eastern Michigan) from the Raiders? Crosby, a latecomer to the Raiders in the fourth round last April, fired Ryan Finley from the Bengals four times and gave him 6.5 sacks for the season. (Mack has 5.5.)

Oaklands Maxx Crosby and Cincinnati's Ryan Finley. (Getty Images)

Matthew Judon, linebacker, Baltimore. The Ravens bring out the underrated, odd (in Judon's case 6-5, 265) playmaking linebacker again and again. (The Sunday starters against Houston: Judon and Jaylen Ferguson, both in the 265-pound range as full-backs, and the central defenders Josh Bynes and Patrick Onwuasor, both in the 232 area.) They were a wild group in the surprising escape of Houston from the strong former Grand Valley State Laker in the fourth year. Judon is like a John Randle guy. He comes again and again. His 21 sacks since opening day 2017 lead all the ravens, and his seven tackles and two sacks that day led all voracious ravens to their defensive game of the year.

Jamal Adams, Safety, New York Jets. Obviously, the FMIA Defensive Player of the Week curse does not exist. After winning for the Giants last week, Adams may have played his best game as a professional Sunday in Washington. Adams stood both in the box and in the depths and was unsolvable for Washington. He had three sacks, another defeat and four tackles in the Jets' 34:17 victory against a very bad football team. "I just want to get up," Adams said. And to believe the jets had a better deal to trade him three weeks ago.

Joe Schobert, linebacker, Cleveland. In the chaos of the end of Cleveland's 21-7 win over the Steelers, the Browns lost an outstanding defense, led by the undervalued 99th pick of the 2016 draft, Wisconsin linebacker Schobert. Schobert led all defenders with 10 bags on Thursday evening; He had two interceptions; he had one of four Cleveland sacks of Mason Rudolph; he broke two more passes in Pittsburgh; and he was again the physical presence of the Browns this year to prevent an inconsistent offense in the games.

Special Teams Players of the Week

Jake Bailey, Punter, New England. In a field position play, Bailey was the MVP of the Patriots, who punted eight times to a 47.6-yard average and dropped six times in the Eagles' # 20. He saved his best punt at the end: End of the fourth quarter of After a 17:10 game, he launched his last punt 54 yards in front of the 12-yard line from Philadelphia. Ballgame.

Jakeem Grant, Kick-Returner, Miami. While the Dolphins were in a difficult position and were about to pursue Buffalo 23-7 at halftime, Grant kicked a foot one meter into the end zone, maneuvering through the first wave of Bill tacklers and arriving the right side line. and sprinted the rest of the way for a touchdown. Great sense of when and how to dodge the first row of Buffalo people and come to the sideline.

A.J.. Moore, Cornerback, Houston. A great heads-up game by Moore against a very good team of Baltimore special teams. The situation: The first quarter in Baltimore, goalless, Fourth and Four, Ravens positions himself on Houston's 37-yard line for Justin Tucker's 55-yard field goal attempt. At the snap, owner Sam Koch walks past Mark Andrews in the middle of the formation, and Andrews begins to roll around the right end. But Moore, a 23-year-old 5: 11 corner from Ole Miss, flies through the block of offensive lineman Matt Skura of Baltimore and beats Andrews for a two-yard loss.

Coach of the Week

Wink Martindale, Defense Coordinator, Baltimore. The Texans entered the showdown on Sunday in Baltimore with 7: 2 (Ravens) and 6: 3 (Texans). Baltimore locked them out for the first 52 minutes, scorching Deshaun Watson in his first eight runs and had seven sacks in the high season. Martindale always had a crush of defenders around Watson, who played one of the worst games in his career – and it was not his fault; he was overwhelmed by an onslaught that made the Houston line seem weak. It was amazing to see the Texans waving the white flag in the last few minutes, missing out on 41.7 in a game that seemed to be the AFC matchup of the day and turned into a router. Martindale's team only blew Houston's watch in the final few minutes to escape this sudden attack and defense powerhouse.

Josh McDaniels, Offensive Coordinator, New England. Because I got stuck there when nothing went right, and ended up with the back pass from Tom Brady to Julian Edelman, who gave Phillip Dorsett a ravishing spiral for the victorious TD. Beautiful game design and execution. McDaniels knows that due to the talent gap on the offensive, he has to pull some things out of his hat while new offensive parts develop (he and Brady hope). The Patriots returned with four chances after a 10-0 deficit, including the only goal in the second half, Edelman's 15-yard perfecto to Dorsett.

Goat of the Week

Myles Garrett, defensive end, Cleveland. Do you really have to ask?

A week's unique quote from the waning moments of Pittsburgh-Cleveland on Thursday night and the drama of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman of FOX as Myles Garrett-Mason Rudolph brawl escalated. Some lines were cut out and the role of Mike Pereira was dropped for brevity. I wanted to do the quote that way, because I found that Buck's and Aikman's reaction in real time was very good. Sie haben den Vorfall weder überdramatisiert noch unterschätzt, und als sie 10 oder 15 Sekunden Zeit hatten, um die Wiederholung zu verdauen, benutzten sie die Worte, die Amerika in den folgenden drei Tagen benutzte, um zu beschreiben, was gesehen worden war. Barbarisch. Schrecklich.


Buck: "Es gibt eine Flagge."

Aikman: "Whoa! Hallo! Whoa! "

Buck:" Das ist … was in aller Welt! Kannst du Myles Garrett glauben? Einen Helm schwingen?! “

Aikman:„ Daraus werden sich einige Auswürfe ergeben. “

Buck:„ Möglicherweise einige Aufhängungen. “

Aikman:„ Richtig, Aufhängungen. “

Buck: "Es war Garrett und es war gut nach dem Stück."

Aikman: "Nun, er hat Rudolph angepackt. Rudolph mochte es nicht, wie er angegangen wurde. "

Beobachten der Wiederholung.

Buck:" Ohhhh! Meine Güte! “

Aikman:„ Oh man! “

Buck:„ Uhhh-oh! Oh meine Güte … reißt Rudolph den Helm vom Kopf und schlägt ihn schließlich in den Kopf. "

Aikman:" Jenseits aller Worte, Joe. "

Buck:" Ahhh, Mann! Das ist eines der schlimmsten Dinge, die ich auf einem professionellen Sportplatz gesehen habe. "

Aikman:" Dies ist eine Mehrspielsperre. Es ist nur – ich meine, ich-ich-ich hasse es, dass irgendjemand das überhaupt sehen muss. Das ist barbarisch, ist es, was es ist. "

Buck:" Noch acht Sekunden in diesem Spiel, und damit entfernen sich alle von diesem Spiel am Donnerstagabend? Es ist schrecklich. Schrecklich. “


„ Manche nennen es langweilig. Ich nenne es klug, der CEO zu sein und einfach den Kurs zu halten. “

– Kirk Cousins, der Quarterback aus Minnesota, der die Wikinger von einem 20: 0-Rückstand mit einigen langsamen und stetigen Versuchen zurückführte, Denver zu schlagen, 27: 0. 23.


„Das Ansehen und der Status der Washington Redskins in der DC-Region erreichten am Sonntag ihren absoluten Tiefpunkt – den tiefsten Punkt in der Existenz der Franchise in dieser Stadt seit 1937 at FedEx Field. “

– Thomas Boswell, der angesehene Sportkolumnist der Washington Post, nachdem Washington vor einigen Dutzend Zuschauern im FedEx-Mausoleum gegen die traurigen Jets 34-17 verloren hatte.


"Es fühlt sich so an, als hätten wir verloren."

– Baker Mayfield, Donnerstagabend, nach dem saisonsparenden 21: 7-Sieg der Browns gegen die Steelers – und nach dem Zwischenfall mit Myles Garrett.


"Es fühlt sich an, als hätten wir verloren."

– Odell Beckham Jr., Donnerstagabend. [19659003] VI

„Nur 22 Jahre alt! Man muss nur denken, dass die Leute, die in Miami leben, dümmer sind als eine Schachtel Steine, um dieses Kind gehen zu lassen. “

– Steelers Hall of Fame-Quarterback Terry Bradshaw auf FOX über den Septemberhandel der Dolphins im zweiten Jahr Sicherheit Minkah Fitzpatrick nach Pittsburgh.


„Er will nicht spielen. Er möchte ein Märtyrer sein. “

– Stephen A. Smith von ESPN über Colin Kaepernick, nachdem Kaepernick sein von der Liga arrangiertes Training abgesagt und für weit weniger Teams auf einem Highschool-Feld in einem Vorort von Atlanta trainiert hatte. [19659079]

Mitchell Schwartz • Offensivattackle in Kansas City • Fotografiert in Kansas City, Missouri longest active streak among NFL players—ended after eight seasons and 121 games last week. He tweaked his left knee when quarterback Patrick Mahomes was sacked late in the second quarter at Tennessee. Schwartz missed three snaps, then returned to start a new streak in the third quarter. Entering tonight’s game in Mexico City against the Chargers, Schwartz has played 37 consecutive plays.

“I knew, at the moment of the play, that it was over. It’s the worst single instance of pain I’ve had in the NFL, and I couldn’t stay out there just to keep the streak alive. We’ve got to keep our quarterback safe, and when I walked around and tested a little bit, I knew I had to come out.

“A little weird, to see football being played and it was going on without me, and I’m watching from the sidelines. I haven’t done that. It was sort of like practice. But it’s a good reminder than one person is not so important that the game can’t go on without you.

“It’s funny—there’s only one time I was close to missing time, one time I was really hurt in a game—and it would have ended the streak. Week 17, rookie year, 2012, I got hurt that game. I hurt my knee. I would have had to miss a few weeks. What’s incredible is [all-time record-holder for consecutive snaps] Joe Thomas, believe it or not, had the exact same thing happen that game. If there’d been a Week 18, neither of us would have played. You keep going till you can’t. Woke up the next morning and it hurt. It was my MCL.

“Joe Thomas reached out to congratulate me this week. That was cool. I am not at his level—he’s a top five tackle all-time. But I’m glad I got to play with him early in my career in Cleveland. We’re similar people, with similar attitudes.

“I wish it didn’t end. But my feeling is mostly pride for how long it lasted. There’s a huge amount of luck involved. You could break a shoelace or something like that. My brother [retired veteran offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz] and I have the same genetics, but he had a career filled with injuries. Who knows why? I have been fortunate that it hasn’t happened to me. Of course I have pride in it. An offensive lineman doesn’t have stats, doesn’t score touchdowns. So your stats, basically, are things like durability. I’ve always been there.

As for tonight …

“I’ve felt better than I expected this week. My intention is to play. It’s what I do.”

The Jets placed center Ryan Kalil, 34, on injured reserve Saturday, likely ending his career. He came out of retirement in August to play center for the Jets, but he was plagued by knee, shoulder and elbow injuries, and fought through seven mediocre starts. Pro Football Focus rated him the 32nd of 36 NFL centers in 2019.

It was a costly gambit by the Jets. For his seven starts this year, Kalil earned $958,929 per game—or more per game than PFF’s second-rated center, Washington’s Chase Roullier, makes for the season ($645,000).


I always wondered how many times TV networks show coaches on game telecasts. Sometimes, as with 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh last week in the Seahawks-Niners game, it seems excessive. So I fired up NFL Game Rewind and went back and counted all dedicated coaching shots for head coaches and coordinators in the game last Monday night.

The coaches-on-camera scoreboard from the five-quarter game, the 27-24 overtime win for Seattle:

San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan: 59.
Seattle head coach Pete Carroll: 53.
San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh: 21.
Seattle offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer: 14.
Seattle defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.: 4.


• Saleh was shown 10 times in the fourth quarter and zero times in overtime. Incredibly odd, unless ESPN heard the plaintive wails of those sick of seeing Saleh on the screen from his 16 second-half appearances. Very strange that he never showed up on TV in overtime for his reaction to Seattle generating 109 total yards and the winning field goal—not to mention his reaction to the sensational interception by rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw in the red zone that almost cost Seattle the game.

• Norton losing the coordinator battle 21-4 by Saleh is somewhat understandable because Carroll is a defensive coach. Somewhat. Still seems out of whack.

• Carroll is fun on camera and Shanahan can have the impassive glare of a hitman. Seems like overload, 112 shots of them, but they’re camera-friendly.

• Shanahan is the de facto offensive coordinator—the 49ers have a passing game coordinator (Mike LaFleur) and run game coordinator (Mike McDaniel), and unless I missed them, I don’t think either was shown on TV Monday night.


In 1999, Tom Brady set the University of Michigan school record for passing yards in a game against Michigan State. On the Michigan State coach staff that season: graduate assistant coach Josh McDaniels.

On Saturday, Shea Patterson broke Brady’s record for career passing yards against Michigan State. On the Michigan coaching staff now: quarterbacks coach Ben McDaniels.


You are sick of me extolling the virtues of football-writing East Coast living. But here is the latest example:

8:11 a.m. Leave apartment in Brooklyn for New York Penn Station in Manhattan.

8:48 a.m. Board 9 a.m. Amtrak Acela train for Baltimore. Write some of this column as the gray day in Jersey, Philly, southeastern Pennsylvania, Wilmington and bucolic Maryland passes by the window.

11:19 a.m. Arrive Baltimore Penn Station.

11:24 a.m. Get in cab for M&T Bank Stadium.

11:46 a.m. Arrive at press box.

1:02 p.m. Texans at Ravens.

4:26 p.m. Work locker rooms. Linger un-annoyingly (I think) till I can get a few minutes with Lamar Jackson.

5:45 p.m. Cab to Baltimore Penn Station, through post-game stadium traffic.

6:35 p.m. Board 6:38 p.m. Amtrak Acela train for New York. Write column stuff on train.

8:55 p.m. Arrive New York.

9:06 p.m. Take subway to Brooklyn. Walk last seven minutes home.

9:46 p.m. Arrive home.

9:50 p.m. Write like a bandit with second half of NBC’s Bears-Rams.

During pro football’s 100th season, I’ll re-visit important games, plays, players and events from pro football history.


On this day 74 years ago, Hutson scored his 99th career touchdown, a 10-yard pass from Green Bay quarterback Irv Comp, in a 28-0 victory over a combined team (wartime rules allowed for combined teams) of the Boston Yanks and Brooklyn Tigers. Hutson played safety that day. Hutson kicked four extra points that day. Hutson kicked off that day. The Packers played two more games in 1945, and Hutson kicked field goals in each, but it was in Boston, 11 weeks after the end of World War II, in front of 31,000 in a ballpark made for baseball, where Hutson reached the end zone for the last time. After this season, his 11th, Hutson retired.

What made his career so special: At the time of his retirement, his 99 touchdown receptions were triple the number of touchdown catches by any player in the first quarter-century of pro football. (The Cleveland Rams’ Jim Benton had 33 through the end of 1945.) Talk about dominating a sport … I went back and looked up Babe Ruth’s best 11 consecutive seasons for home runs, and it turns out he hit 496 from 1919 to ’29; in the same 11 seasons, Rogers Hornsby had more than half of that, 258. To me, there’s little doubt that in the first quarter of the NFL’s history, Hutson was the greatest player. In his final season, he may have saved his best for last: He scored 29 points in one quarter of a game against Detroit: four touchdown receptions, five extra points, all in the second quarter. That record’s never been broken, and it’s hard to imagine it ever will be. A player would have to score five touchdowns in a quarter, most likely, for the record to fall.

Hutson’s one of the best players ever, with his immense air production at a time when football was still a running game, and because he was a very good safety (once led the league in interceptions) and a serviceable placekicker. I do understand the level-of-competition argument, seeing that it was a wartime-weakened NFL at the time, and seeing that there were no black players in pro football when he played. It’s an interesting debate. But I believe you should be judged by how you compare to players in your era. And Hutson, under those conditions, should be in the argument for the best receiver, ever.

Don Hutson, circa 1943. (Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

In 1988, ESPN’s Chris Berman, who reveres football history, dropped by Hutson’s home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Hutson was 75 then. At the time, Steve Largent was creeping up on his record for touchdowns receptions; Largent broke the mark in 1989. Jerry Rice was in his fourth season then, and he’d yet to have even a 90-catch season. Hutson saw something in the lithe 26-year-old kid from Mississippi, playing a half-century after his own prime. Berman asked him about Largent breaking his 99-touchdown record.

“Chris,” said Hutson, “I believe there is a young man up the road in San Francisco that will have all the records by the time he retires.”


Ben Volin covers the NFL for the Boston Globe.


Bobby Belt is a sports field producer for ESPN.


Banner, tweeting about Colin Kaepernick, is a former NFL executive.


Kyle Juszczyk is a fullback for the 49ers.


Lang is a former NFL guard for the Packers and Lions.


Jamison Hansley covers the Ravens for ESPN.


Field Yates is an NFL analyst for ESPN.

I asked parents of young people—and potential football players—on Twitter for reaction to the Myles Garrett incident, and 311 emails landed in my inbox by 11 a.m. Sunday. They ran the gamut. My biggest takeaway: Far more emailers—maybe by 5 to 1—were more concerned by the two concussions suffered by Steelers receivers Thursday night than by Garrett clubbing Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head with his own helmet. Most concerning: the massive cheap hit by Damarious Randall of the Browns on Pittsburgh’s Diontae Johnson, causing Johnson to be KO’d and Randall to be ejected. I chose 11 voices across America, edited in almost every case for space, to represent what I read from you.

From Somerville, N.J. Ryan Engelstad writes: “I’m a parent and have thought a lot about whether I’d want my kid to play football at any level. While the Garrett incident was definitely jarring, that’s not the incident I’d point to that makes me want to avoid football at all costs. By FAR it was seeing blood coming from the ear of Diontae Johnson after the helmet-to-helmet hit. The Garrett play happens once a decade. The Johnson hit happens at least a couple of times a season if not every week.”

From Hastings, Neb. Abigail Lauters writes: “My son was watching the Browns-Steelers game, but went to bed before the fight. He’s 6. This fall, he’s absolutely fallen in love with football and wants to watch it all: high school, college, NFL. My husband won two state championships as a high school quarterback, and still coaches football. I’ve been a football fan since I was a little girl, so we are both thrilled at our son’s interest in the sport. This morning when I saw the replay, I thought, ‘Oh, I’m so glad Jude wasn’t watching!’ And then I thought, ‘What is football coming to that I am glad my 6-year-old wasn’t watching?’ He wants to play football so badly, but by the time he’s ready for contact football in middle school, what will the sport look like? Is this violence going to trickle down? My heart wants to let my son play … and if his love for the game continues, I will let him play … praying for his safety.”

From Portland, Maine. Dennis Welch writes: “A sport should not be condemned by the actions of one fool.”

From Shoreview, Minn. Greg Herman writes: “My first thought was how disturbing it was—on a totally different level than an unnecessarily rough hit. My second? I’m so glad my 6-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter weren’t watching. How would I have even attempted to explain that? I don’t want either of my kids to play tackle football (or hockey for that matter). The violence of this game doesn’t change that. What it does change is my interest in even exposing my kids to the NFL as a fan.”

Cleveland’s Damarious Randall and Pittsbugh’s Diontae Johnson. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

From Halls, Tenn. Curtis Berkley writes: “I currently serve as the coach of the Halls 11U football team in a suburb of Knoxville, and just completed my ninth season of youth football coach or league commissioner. I have two sons who have participated in youth football—flag, tackle and now high school. Even in a football-crazy place like Knoxville, we are keenly aware and increasingly concerned with the overall decline in the number of kids who are playing tackle football, and which has recently been as precipitous as it is shocking. I sat in a meeting with the Knox County Parks Director just a little over two years ago, and heard him say that Knox County has 75 fewer tackle football teams than it had just five years prior … I’ve seen the play in question and find it abhorrent. If they can’t prevent the big egregious stuff like this, they’re hopeless to stop the smaller stuff, which also requires immediate correction for the survival of the game … Do I think that kids will now start bashing other kids over the head with helmets now? No I don’t. Do I think that it’s now at least been introduced into the minds of several million kids who saw it, and who will now consider it, but wouldn’t have before? Almost certainly yes.”

From Cleveland. Eric Crow writes: “I have a 2-year-old son. My wife often jokes about him not being allowed to play football when he gets older. She has bought him toy golf clubs, soccer balls, and a Little Tikes hoop for him to play basketball. The concern [over football] is very real in our house. However if my son decides to play tackle football and I had to show him one play from this game to convey the consequences of his decision, the Myles Garrett play is CLEARLY behind Damarious Randall’s hit on Diontae Johnson. Don’t you think a player bleeding out of his ear is a way worse visual when it comes to deciding about letting your child play football? It was for me.”

From Portland, Ore. Ashlee Yuille writes: “I’m 40, a licensed clinical social worker in an emergency room. I’m the mother of a 13-year old son who was watching the game with me, and he plays football. I’m in no manner condoning the incident. However, what I actually find most disturbing about it is the collective outrage from professional media, twitter, players, fans, and the NFL. When a domestic violence incident occurs and a player assaults a woman, there is never this amount of collective outrage. It’s crickets. The penalties are inconsistent or nonexistent. The stark contrast in this is really disturbing honestly.”

From Wisconsin. Richard McClure writes: “My son is 10 and just finished fifth-grade tackle football season. I am the parent people look at and say, ‘Why would you let your kid play football? It’s so dangerous!’ My son loves football. All parts—the mental aspect, the physicality, the camaraderie, the team. Seeing a play like this just reminds me how important it is to teach our youth the challenge of the sport and the respect you should give to the opposing players and teams. Be respectful. Shake the hands of your opponents.”

From St. Louis. Thomas B. writes: “The hit on Diontae Johnson is why I don’t want my son playing football, not the Garrett nonsense.”

From San Diego. Connor Sorohan writes: “I am a high school football coach who is still reeling after the incident with Garrett. Though [my wife’s and my] decision is still years away, whether we will let our child play football is something we have debated hotly over the course of our relationship. I am obviously biased in that I am around the game daily and see what it can do for young men and women, but last night certainly forced me to pause and consider the ramifications of what happened. As far little Vincent (who is due in January) I hope he has an opportunity to play the game I love so much. But as with so much in today’s society we will have to wait and see. Shame on Garrett for making the case that much harder for parents who want their kids to experience the myriad benefits of this wonderful sport.”

From Los Gatos, Calif. Jesse Kimbrel writes: “My son is 5-and-a-half and plays baseball, basketball and soccer. He’s an active kid and really enjoys anything sports-related, and he bikes and skateboards. The reason football isn’t listed in those sports and activities is because my wife and I decided not to allow him to play football beyond playing catch with us or friends at the park or beach. While we know there’s always a risk of getting injured playing any sport, football puts kids at an unnecessary amount of risk of injury. … My wife and I couldn’t believe what happened. Our first comment back to each other was: ‘That’s why our kids aren’t playing football.’ “

1. I think I like what DeAndre Hopkins said on Twitter after the Texans got blown out at Baltimore. Loved it, in fact. Backstory: Scoreless game, fourth-and-two for Houston at the Baltimore 33-yard line. Deshaun Watson threw deep to the right goal line, and Baltimore cornerback Marlon Humphrey hooked and mugged Hopkins before the ball arrived. No flag. Houston coach Bill O’Brien threw the challenge flag, and the non-call was upheld. “We need someone new in New York deciding calls,” Hopkins said. Couldn’t have said it better myself. If NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron isn’t going to overturn that call, he should not be sitting in judgement of any calls, period.

2. I think the maddening part is Riveron and everyone else in NFL offices in New York sitting there and not addressing the elephant in the league: The owners voted 31-1 to give coaches a chance to challenge pass-interference calls, to allow reviews on plays that were not called pass interference but coaches believed a flag should have been thrown. Entering the weekend, according to ESPN, 32 of the last 33 coaches challenges were not overturned. Yet Riveron and the NFL sit there, sphinx-like, saying nothing, not acknowledging that the rule that was passed in March is being ignored in November. It’s outrageous. Absolutely outrageous. Someone changed the rules without telling the coaches and without telling the public. Say something, Al Riveron. Say something, Troy Vincent. Say something, Roger Goodell. Jobs are at stake here, and all of you sit there like Kevin Bacon in “Animal House.” “ALL IS WELL! ALL IS WELL!” It’s not. Not at all.

3. I think the most stunning thing about the National Football League on Nov. 18, 2019 is this: The Oakland Raiders are a Chiefs loss to the Chargers tonight in Mexico away from being tied for the lead in the AFC West after 11 weeks.

4. I thinkscraping away the emotional hammer that came down late in the Thursday night game, the harsh reality is Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph just misses too many throws. It’s getting late early in his effort to be the heir to Ben Roethlisberger long-term.

5. I think the chances have to be at least 75 percent that LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is the first pick in the April draft.

6. I think there’s one asterisk: Cincinnati or Miami would have to have the first pick in the draft. If that pick belongs to tbe Jets, Giants, Washington or Atlanta, I could see them taking Ohio State pass-rusher Chase Young, or trading down to a team desperate for Burrow. With the unfortunate Tua Tagovailoa hip injury, which could sideline him well into 2020 or longer, and with another command performance by Burrow (16 straight non-dink-and-dunk completions at one point Saturday night, for 242 yards), Burrow is clearly the top quarterback prospect. There could be four teams in the top 10, within striking distance to get the pick if they don’t finish this regular season in the pole position: Miami, Cincinnati, Denver and Tampa Bay (if Jameis Winston finishes the regular season shaky).

7. I think I erred in rounding up the usual suspects for my head-coaching-candidates note two weeks ago. Five points:

• We (I, certainly) get too caught up in Flavor of the Month guys. Not saying, for instance, that Robert Saleh of the 49ers is not a strong candidate for the 2020 coaching market—he is—but I am saying that it’s just not smart to isolate the best teams in a given season and pick the top assistants on those teams and say, “There’s the list.”

• The smartest thing to do would be for the NFL to ban coaching interviews and coaching hires till after the Super Bowl. That’s in part to alleviate the frenetic pace of coaching interviews the week after the regular season, when prime assistants should be most focused on their playoff assignments. But it also would level the playing field for all teams seeking coaches. As for those people who would say it disadvantages the non-playoff teams, making them wait five weeks before they get on with the business of restocking their franchise with new coaching minds, I say that coaches get hired by NFL teams to work toward winning the Super Bowl. And if on New Year’s Day, the dawn of the playoff season, you’ve got a couple of coaches on your staff spending two or three days in the month prepping for interviews and executing those interviews, then they’re not totally present for the job they’ve been hired to do. Not blaming them—I’m blaming the system that allows it to happen. I get it that these interviews happen in bye weeks. But it’s still a division of attention toward the reason these coaches got hired in the first place.

But it’s important that downtrodden teams get to build their coaching staffs—you don’t want to give them a five-week penalty by delaying the process. In early 2018, Frank Reich was hired as the Colts head coach 37 days after the Raiders hired Jon Gruden. Reich’s got one of the best coaching staffs in football. (Though two of the coaches were already under contract because of the ill-fated Josh McDaniels hire.) The Colts had the field to choose from when Reich was retained a week after the Super Bowl, and he hired wisely.

• The Jets might be ruing the day they passed on Baylor coach Matt Rhule last winter. (The Jets wanted Rhule to hire either Adam Gase or Todd Moncken as offensive coordinator, and while Rhule as open to interviewing both, he didn’t know them and wouldn’t sign off on them without meeting and interviewing them; the Jets then turned to Gase.)

• Great example of excellent coaches being taken for granted: the New Orleans coaching staff. Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has choreographed a once-moribund unit into a top-five defense, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael—always overshadowed by Sean Payton—deserves to have his case heard by an offensively needy team, and assistant head coach/tight ends coach Dan Campbell is a commanding presence with an excellent football mind. These guys should be in front of teams in coach-hiring season.

8. I think the NFL steamrolling toward a 17-game schedule is so predictably greedy, and so health-and-safety sad for the players. On Thursday night (which could be any night or day in the NFL by the time Week 11 rolls around), the Steelers were already playing with their franchise quarterback lost for the season with an injury. They lost both starting receivers in a crucial division game with concussions; Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster played a composite 40 percent of the snaps. Starting running back James Conner logged only 13 snaps with a bum shoulder. The Browns lost their best safety, Morgan Burnett, for the season with a torn Achilles. On the other side of Pennsylvania, the Eagles faced a crucial Sunday game against the Patriots without their best rusher (Jordan Howard), their two best receivers (Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson) and their most versatile offensive-and-return weapon (Darren Sproles). Oh, and their veteran left tackle, Jason Peters, returned to the field, but has to be considered week-to-week with his spate of injuries. But by all means, let’s schedule more regular-season games.

9. I think I want to tailgate with the Kurds in Nashville. So Americana. So perfect.

10. I think these are my other thoughts of the week:

a. Story of the Week: Steve Politi, excellent columnist for NJ Advance Media, on one of the strangest trials in recent New Jersey history. “He told a kid to slide. Then he got sued.”

b. Imagine being sued because, as a third-base coach, one of your kids was steaming toward third, and there was going to be a close play at the base, and you yelled, “Slide!” Welcome to the seven-year legal fight of a man named John Suk, superbly told in painstaking detail by Politi, watching it all unfold in a jury trial in a New Jersey courthouse. Politi:

“If Suk is found liable for an injury that took place because of that slide — and if a seven-figure check is written because of his actions — what will happen to high school sports? Who will sign up for these coaching jobs knowing their reputation and livelihood might be in jeopardy? And how long before school districts drop sports entirely rather than pay skyrocketing insurance premiums? So, yes, I have found the intersection of our overly litigious society and our out-of-control youth sports culture. As Suk sits there, scribbling away, I am consumed with a sickening thought: If this JV baseball coach is found liable for telling a player to slide, there’s nothing to stop the dominoes from falling everywhere around us. In short: We’re all f—ed.”

c. Star Profile of the Week: On Tom Hanks playing Mister Rogers, and who exactly Tom Hanks is, by Taffy Brodesser-Akner of New York Times. So interesting that Brodesser-Akner put herself smack dab in the middle of this story, and how well it worked. She writes:

“It isn’t easy being a parent, not for any of us, he said. ‘Somewhere along the line, I figured out, the only thing really, I think, eventually a parent can do is say I love you, there’s nothing you can do wrong, you cannot hurt my feelings, I hope you will forgive me on occasion, and what do you need me to do? You offer up that to them. I will do anything I can possibly do in order to keep you safe. That's it. Offer that up and then just love them.’ ”

d. I cannot wait to see Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers. I might camp out the night before it debuts.

e. Football Story of the Week: Dan Wiederer and Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune on the backstory of the Bears choosing Mitchell Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in the 2017 NFL Draft.

f. Cool graphic element, too—the front sports pages in Chicago, Kansas City and Houston the day after Trubisky went to the Bears, Mahomes to the Chiefs and Watson to the Texans.

g. Kaepernick Story of the Week: Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times on the one-time semi-muse for Colin Kaepernick, and how Nate Boyer thinks the story and the person have been co-opted a bit over time to fit specific narratives.

h. Please read the story. Please understand that most every story has shades of gray.

i. Regarding the Astros alleged cheating scandal: Let me tell you a story.

j. Back a decade or so, when I lived in Montclair, N.J., I coached a girls’ travel softball team, 10-and-under, with my wife and two good friends. We didn’t have kids on the team (which made it a lot more fun). We coached the Montclair Bears for seven years. I tried to be fairly big league. I taught the girls signals, which they loved, because it was a game within a game. For instance, the outfielders played shallow because the girls didn’t hit the ball very far. Baserunners were allowed to lead off first base. We had a play to try to pick off the girl at first base. If I used any city word beginning with “B” (Boston, Boise, Birmingham, for example) in a sentence, the right fielder would run to the base as the pitch was being thrown, and the catcher would throw down to first to try to pick her off. We had hand signals for sacrifice bunts and bunts for hits, with an indicator preceding them, as most baseball and softball teams have. I also had a signal to a batter if I thought the opposing team wasn’t alert. If I called out an even number (“16!” “52!”), that was the signal for our batter to not stop at first base on a hit, but rather automatically to run to second. For the girls, it was like a puzzle. “Like they were in a joke that no one else knew,” my assistant, Jack Bowers, said. The kids loved it. It made the game more fun.

k. There was one other favorite signal I had. We had one pitcher, 9, who could throw a changeup passably well. (“Passably” means sometimes it didn’t go way over the catch’s head.) My signal to her and the catcher: If I use the name of a girl not on our team, she should throw the change. Like: “Don’t let the ball get past you out in center, Kate.” We didn’t have a “Kate.”

l. One evening, we had a game in Dumont, a town in Bergen County. I coached third base and gave all the signals. Dumont was a competitive team. (Nothing wrong with that.) I thought I’d seen one of their coaches at a game of ours a week or so earlier, but I couldn’t swear to it. So right away, first inning, I gave the sign to bunt for a hit. The coach told his third baseman to play way in. Then he knew the “B” signal, I thought, in the bottom of the inning. So before we went to bat in the second inning, I told the players we were changing signals, totally. I gave them a new indicator word—but it wasn’t just one word. It was any word beginning with the letter “C.”

m. They didn’t miss a sign the rest of the game. I gave a bunch of fake signals that the coach picked up and positioned his players as if he knew what we were doing. Smart by him. But the signals didn’t matter anymore. We won, but that doesn’t matter. The point is: Stealing signals are as old as the sun, and it’s pretty common to change them so they can’t be stolen. Which leads us to …

n. Baseball Story of the Week: Following The Athletic’s excellent piece about the Astros using technology to steal signs in 2017 (and who knows—perhaps longer), Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post documented how the Nationals prevented any chance at sign-stealing in the World Series this year. Terrific story about the intrigue.

o. Svrluga detailed the byzantine plans of the Nats (you have to read it) and then wrote this:

“Next came the way the Nats employed their signs, which was nontraditional. Rather than just use, say, the second sign the catcher put down, the Nats might ‘chase the two.’ That meant the pitcher would watch for the catcher to put two fingers down, and then throw the pitch that corresponded to the following sign. Or they could play ‘outs plus one.’ So if there was one out, the pitch would be the second sign the catcher put down. If there were no outs, it would be the first sign. ‘Strikes plus one’ worked the same way. That’s a lot of thought, right? But it’s a small cost in preparation if it frees the mind of the pitcher in competition.”

p. That is some great reporting by Svrluga.

q. Beernerdness: Don’t tell NBC that I had a beer while waiting for my train Sunday night. It’s a new one, from an area teeming with cool breweries. Good Company Pale Ale (Calvert Brewing Company, Upper Marlboro, Md.) is very pale, and satisfyingly tasty. I’d never heard of it before.

r. Speaking of Beernerdness, the Acela’s got Allagash White aboard now. Be still, my liver.

s. Congrats to my fleeting friend James Holzhauer, who won the Jeopardy Tournament of Champions last week. What a treat, watching a beautiful mind like that work.

t. RIP, Bill Lyon, superb columnist of the Philadelphia Inquirer. One of the great truth-tellers in our business.

u. RIP, Vera Clemente. A noble woman, dedicated to the causes important to her late husband and her family.

v. The saddest thing about the early impeachment hearings: the degradation and lampooning and lambasting of clear-eyed American government servants like Marie Yovanovitch, Bill Taylor and George Kent. It’s pathetic to impugn their dignity and honor. The only good thing about it? There will be a historical record for those in the hearings and in the media who do the impugning, on the internet forever for future generations (and impugners’ family members) to see.

Today: Mexico City. The important football note about Chargers-Chiefs tonight in football-mad Mexico: The field at Estadio Azteca has been switched from a grass-artificial hybrid (too beat up last year to play on, forcing a switch of Chiefs-Rams to L.A.) to natural grass, and I’m told it’s in very good condition for the game tonight. Cool personal note: Anthony Lynn becomes the first NFLer to play and coach in Mexico City. As a Denver running back, he played in a 1997 Broncos preseason game in Mexico, and 22 years later he head-coaches in one.

Tuesday. Cool TV event coming up on NFL Network. “NFL 360 With Melissa Stark” has the latest installment on the impact of the life and times of Pat Tillman, the former Arizona Cardinals safety turned Army Ranger, killed in Afghanistan by friendly fire in 2004. Amazing that it’s been more than 15 years since Tillman’s death. But so much about his life was the stuff of inspiration, and filmmaker Trent Cooper found how military vets and the 628 Tillman Scholars—young people whose lives have been changed by financial and inspirational aid from Tillman’s foundation—are keeping him alive. The half-hour show is called “The Legacy of Pat Tillman” and you need to see it.

Wednesday: Manhattan. Day four. Colin Kaepernick sitting by the phone. Waiting.

Thursday: Houston. Jacoby Brissett has started 26 NFL games in his brief career, four against Houston. He’s 4-0 against the Texans, with one win apiece over Brock Osweiler, Tom Savage, T.J. Yates (now there’s a QB Murderer’s Row) and Deshaun Watson.

Sunday: Santa Clara, Calif. Beginning on this evening in California, the Niners will start the toughest 15-day stretch any team in the NFL will have all season: home with Green Bay, then at Baltimore and at New Orleans. Combined Pack/Raven/Saint records: 25-6.

Might be a pipe dream.
But I would like Andy Reid
to coach Kaepernick.

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