1. The Carson Palmer trade caught me by surprise. I actually thought that Mike Brown was going to stick to his guns and keep Palmer on the sidelines for time eternal, refusing to trade him as long as he was refusing to report. But the offer of two potential first round picks, coupled with the fact that Andy Dalton has already established himself as the Bengals quarterback of the future, certainly made this an easy decision for Brown. “Two first-round picks for a guy who will never suit up in a Bengals uniform again? The chance to draft two elite players to put on the field with Dalton? And all I have to do is endure the taunts of a couple of sportswriters who will claim I went back on my oath not to trade Palmer? Sure, let’s make that deal.” (All quotes are fictional.)
2. The Patriots-Cowboys game did nothing but remind all of us about the value of an elite quarterback. Tom Brady is an elite quarterback. Tony Romo is not; he has bursts of greatness, but will never be an elite quarterback unless he can get past those bursts of pure awfulness that have plagued him for years. You did not need to be a Patriots fan to know there was a good chance that Brady would lead them to a TD on that final drive. And you did not need to be a Cowboys fan to know that you would not have felt that way about Romo had the cleat been on the other foot. (Trivia: How many chances did the Cowboys have to draft Brady? Answer: I won’t say because it would make Cowboy fans cry.)
3. Getting back to Carson Palmer for a moment, is everyone supposed to forget the huge signing bonuses that Palmer accepted from the Bengals for a contract he chose not to honor to a team he chose to abandon? And is everyone supposed to forget that the Raiders sunk a high draft pick on Terrelle Pryor, who will not start a game until 2015, at the earliest? (Answers: “Yes” and “Yes”.)
4. The thought of Andrew Luck in a Dolphins uniform for the next decade puts a smile on my face. And I’m not even a Dolphins fan. But there’s a way to get Luck in D.C. without the Redskins tanking the season. Here’s what Redskins fans need to pray for: the Rams to continue in their miserable ways so that they, not the Dolphins, get the first pick in the draft. And whatever the Rams ask for in return for that pick (since they don’t need Luck themselves with Sam Bradford tied up), the Redskins should pay. “Two firsts and two seconds? Sure. And you can have John Beck, too.” (All quotes fictional.)
5. The Harbaugh-Schwartz melee bores me. And I’m already dreading all of the replays we’ll see if the Niners and Lions match up in the playoffs. Two excitable coaches getting excited about how excited the other gets? Sorry, but I’m not really interested. I’d rather talk about the game itself, which was a great one, up to the Lions final drive, when they seemed to be sleepwalking. Matthew Stafford seemed to be channeling Donovan McNabb from that infamous final Super Bowl drive when McNabb seemed too tired to get to the line of scrimmage. Remember that? Eagles fans do.
6. Would it surprise you if Ray Lewis was still playing — and playing effectively — into his mid-40’s? If he were playing in New York instead of Baltimore, his name would be spoken in the same breath as Dick Butkus and Lawrence Taylor.
7. By the time you read this, Terrell Owens may be wearing a Giants uniform. At least, that’s the rumor. And he wouldn’t be a bad fit on that team if the coach were anyone other than Tom Coughlin. Even though he supposedly has softened a bit since the days when he fined players for not arriving early to meetings, Coughlin s still near the top of the list of no-nonsense coaches. And Owens is at the top of the list of high-nonsense players. I’m hoping the Giants sign him just to watch those two try to co-exist.
8. Speaking of Coughlin and the Giants, is Tiki Barber still whining about no one giving him a chance to make a comeback at age 36? Wonder if he realizes that torching his former coach and teammates might have had some consequences?
9. About Rex Ryan’s guarantee that the Jets would win the Super Bowl — was that a money back guarantee? Ryan had better start turning this ship around soon or else the New York media is going to remember that they let him off the hook with that whole foot fetish thing last year.
10. A Sports Illustrated poll of NFL players just ranked the Steelers’ James Harrison as the league’s meanest player. Was anyone surprised? If you didn’t read his interview in Men's Journal a few months back, it’s worth going back to review. Aggressiveness is a great quality for an NFL player, particularly a linebacker. But Harrison’s angry, mean-spirited and hateful comments, particularly about gays and about the commissioner, are not.