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FMIA: Why The NFL’s First $10 Billion Franchise Is not Really That Far Away

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Tom Brady coming out of retirement and the Russell Wilson trade and the explosion of wide receiver salaries and Kansas City trading Tyreek Hill and one quarterback picked in the highest 70 draft picks and the insane coverage of the discharge of the schedule. And recent Drew Brees drama, just previously few hours. Some offseason.

We’re forgetting something, the thing that can make NFL historians look back in a decade or two and say, “HOW’D THAT HAPPEN?”

The worth of an NFL franchise has doubled in five years. The Denver Broncos are about to be sold for an estimated $4.5 billion, twice the number David Tepper paid for the Carolina Panthers in 2018.

Consider it this fashion: Denver’s price will probably be about 30 times what Jerry Jones paid for the Dallas Cowboys 33 years ago. In 1989, Jones paid $150 million for the Cowboys and for Texas Stadium, the team was losing $1 million per 30 days, and cornerstone owner Lamar Hunt of Kansas City called it “the best risk I’ve ever seen an owner take.”

What a difference a generation makes. So, I asked the 79-year-old Jones on Friday: How surprised are you that a team not in Latest York or LA or not the Dallas Cowboys will sell for 30 times what you risked all the pieces to purchase 33 years ago?

“On daily basis, every week, it never ceases to amaze me how the NFL continues to evolve and continues to grow and continues to dominate the [sports] landscape,” Jones said. “Each time I feel I totally understand it, it still blows me away.”

Drew Brees, the Chargers’ anime, Josh Allen could be very smart, Amazon Prime strikes gold, why the Black Friday game died, how Tennessee-Green Bay became a big schedule puzzle piece, 9:30 a.m. NFL fever, the Vikings’ daring draft strategy, an owner buys a Volodymyr Zelenskyy autographed baseball (there’s a sentence section I never thought I’d write), how Brady can win on TV, Russell Wilson says “Mike Rotch,” the 50-year Immaculate Anniversary almost to the day, and the Steelers won’t ever leave the Eastern Time Zone again.

Fun column this week, and I’ll begin with my turn as a Wall Street Journal correspondent.

A few weeks ago, I saw reports that the Broncos could sell for no less than $4 billion, with 4 prospective owners understanding the price and yet staying in contention to purchase the team. On Friday, I used to be told it’s going to be closer to $4.5 billion, with a fifth owner candidate in the image. And I looked up the recent history of team sales. Six teams have modified hands this century: Miami ($1.1 billion, 2008), the Rams ($750 million, 2010), Jacksonville ($770 million, 2012), Cleveland ($1 billion, 2012), Buffalo ($1.4 billion, 2014), Carolina ($2.275 billion, 2018).

Amazing, especially considering that when Forbes did its annual valuation of franchises this yr, the Broncos were 10th. So if the Broncos are 10th and value $4.5 billion, what are the rolling-in-dough Cowboys price? Forbes says $6.5 billion. The neatest business consultant in NFL circles, Marc Ganis, told me he thinks Jones would get $8 billion or $8.5 billion if he tried to sell. Jones, after I asked him, said: 

“Ten up.”

Asked to make clear, he said, “greater than $10 billion.”

“But let me make this very clear,” Jones said. “I’ll say it definitively. I won’t ever do it. I won’t ever sell the Cowboys. Ever.”

I see three seminal events on the core of the astronomical rise in franchise values.

One: The NFL has made consecutive 10- and 11-year labor deals with its players union. The connection between players and owners may not seem harmonious at times, but when there’s been 35 consecutive years of labor peace and nine more years on the present labor deal, there’s a certainty of play that other sports can’t match.

Two: The NFL owns the sports calendar, and the media is barely too joyful to cover the league with an unending year-round fervor. There are actually five tentpole events within the league’s offseason (mix, free agency, draft, schedule release, camp opening) that didn’t exist in mega-coverage 25 years ago.

Three: The NFL just made media-rights deals for a decade totalling $113 billion. Inside 10 years, the media money each team will get annually, guaranteed, will rise from $250 million to $380 million.

“The NFL has develop into the emperor of content, in season and out,” said Ganis, the president of Chicago-based SportsCorp, a sports business consulting firm. Ganis does business with about three-quarters of the NFL teams. “Technology is changing, and other people’s habits are changing, and the NFL is on the forefront of those things. They’re on the forefront of streaming and gambling. If fans didn’t want more content, more events, they wouldn’t support what the NFL is doing. But they do. The NFL had a technique of making more events they usually’ve all worked.”

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, December 2021. (Getty Images)

For Jones, the Cowboys have come a great distance from the times the franchise was leaking money. “Back then,” Jones said, “Donald Trump said he felt sorry for the guy who bought the Dallas Cowboys. He called it ‘reckless crazy.’ And we actually were America’s Team, since the FDIC owned 5 percent of the franchise. On daily basis, my motivation was simply to survive. I danced with the devil, and it created an edge with me. I didn’t want Jimmy Johnson to f— with me because I just lost my tolerance after what I went through in my early days.

“So how does it feel to see a few of these values now, and see the worth of the Dallas Cowboys now? Just return to the early days, and you may see how the sport has improved and develop into such an element of American life. Did that 7 percent of fans have ever gone to an NFL stadium? The remaining fell in love with it through the viewing of the games. The pageantry, the aura, the interest of a fan base, the undeniable fact that an Al Michaels can relay the joy of the sport to a fan base. You set that up beside anything in society today, and also you’ll increase the worth. That’s where these values are being appreciated.

“Add within the Amazon [streaming] deal, the potential with a number of the recent technology. The NFL, in my mind, the visibility, the quantity, the general passion, you frankly can’t get it anywhere else. That’s why all these people desire a piece of it.”

Jones thinks there’s one other a part of the story that’s harder to quantify. He just knows it exists. That’s the undeniable fact that people wish to have a favourite team, they usually wish to follow the roller coaster of that team, they usually wish to get to know the players and know their strength and weaknesses and triumphs and foibles.

To Jones, there’s no such thing as bad coverage of the Cowboys. Bad coverage makes the Cowboys human. And he’s positive his fan base loves the human.

“Let me inform you a story,” Jones said, warming to this topic. “A number of years after I purchased the team, I’m out in Los Angeles having lunch with David Hill and Ed Goren of FOX. At the moment, there have been lots of negative headlines concerning the Cowboys. Michael Irvin was within the headlines. Persons are saying, ‘The owner’s an outlaw!’ And in order that day I told them, ‘I’m tightening the lid on this franchise. We’re gonna get control of this team.’

“And David Hill jumped up. He said, “NO! Don’t touch my ‘Boys! They’re television gold! Don’t even give it some thought!’ 

“The foibles, the soap opera, the problems. They create interest. Add within the Senior Bowl, the mix, free agency, the draft, training camp, we at all times got something going. People follow us yr ‘round. The owner every so often gets within the paper. It just adds to the interest, all of it. People love that.”

The subsequent billionaire to adore it, really adore it, goes to pay within the range of $4.5 billion to own certainly one of these 32 money cows in Denver. The NFL’s a freight train, speeding down the tracks. Ten billion for a franchise? The day will come, and ahead of you’re thinking that.

Per Andrew Marchand of the Latest York Post on Sunday, Drew Brees the broadcaster is out after one season at NBC. Marchand reports that Brees desires to do games, isn’t a fan of being within the studio, and there wasn’t much for him to do outside of the Notre Dame booth after Cris Collinsworth signed a contract extension recently.

Interesting timing by Brees along with his next two tweets. In the primary, he said the Saints’ signing Jarvis Landry and Tyrann Mathieu “makes me wish to play again.” Nine minutes later, he tweeted he’s “undecided” about his future.

Despite speculation from media about my future this fall, I’m currently undecided. I may go for NBC, I could play football again, I could give attention to business and philanthropy, I could train for the pickleball tour, senior golf tour, coach my kids or all the above. I’ll let

— Drew Brees (@drewbrees) May 15, 2022

That escalated quickly.

One friend of Brees told me Sunday he hasn’t mentioned playing to him this offseason, and his left shoulder surgery May 2, at age 43, after not playing football for 16 months, would seems to make a return to football problematic at best. One other one that knows Brees told me Sunday night, “He’s not playing football.”

The Saints seem set to play with Jameis Winston this fall, and I don’t know in the event that they’d feel Brees might be Tom Brady II. Brady, at 43, led the Bucs to a Super Bowl victory. Brady, at 44, led the NFL in passing yards. That may be tempting to Brees, but there’s also the matter of the Saints attempting to fix their salary cap after years of fighting to get it under control, partially due to the huge money paid to Brees. Even in the event that they wanted Brees to return, and I don’t have any indication they might, would they wish to mortgage the longer term again to get him back?

As for other teams, the Seahawks might fit despite their talking-up of Drew Lock, and the Panthers might be just desperate enough to make a run at Brees. But we’re getting way ahead of ourselves. Would any team desire a 43-year-old Brees, who’d need to rehab after left shoulder surgery? And was Brees just throwing out a misdirection play along with his tweets?

It’s still possible but unlikely that Brees could keep his Notre Dame analyst job. He did the Irish games on NBC last fall, and if he doesn’t discover a home at one other network doing games, he could decide to proceed within the lesser Notre Dame role and never within the NBC Sunday night studio.

NFL: JAN 16 AFC Wild Card - Steelers at ChiefsDrew Brees. (Getty Images)

What’s telling to me is that Brees hasn’t found a recent home—yet. Within the TV world, it’s been known for just a few weeks that Brees was unhappy along with his role at NBC and desired to be an NFL game analyst. Amazon Prime knew he was on the market and available, yet selected Kirk Herbstreit to be Al Michaels’ partner. FOX has known he’s on the market, too, within the wake of Troy Aikman jumping to ESPN. But as Marchand reported, FOX is more more likely to promote Greg Olsen into the primary analyst role, succeeding Aikman.

There’s a likelihood FOX could throw Brees a lifeline and put him on certainly one of its broadcast teams. As of Sunday night, that seemed the more than likely consequence of this suddenly in-the-news story. However it’s notable that it’s mid-May and the musical chairs are very nearly filled, and Brees is on the market. Brees was a hot property after he walked away from football 14 months ago, but got mixed reviews at best in his highest-profile project, the Raiders-Bengals wild-card game on NBC. The undeniable fact that he didn’t make much of a reputation for himself in his one season at NBC might be holding him back now.

TV’s a lucrative business, but it surely’s a troublesome business too. A giant name gets you within the door. A giant name, though, doesn’t guarantee success. The pressure will probably be on Brees in his second stop—I’m assuming there will probably be one, with the NFL such an enormous television sport—to point out he might be nearly as good on TV as many individuals within the business thought he’d be.

But his tweets Sunday night turned a quiet story into interesting May fodder. Stay tuned.

I never dreamed in 2014, after I first reported from inside the NFL’s gamey (yes, the room did have a really lived-in aroma to it) scheduling room that the All-Blacks Rugby tour would cause the Bears schedule to be amended on the last minute, that the schedule would turn right into a real story. I never dreamed the subsequent yr, reporting from contained in the room again, that the schedule could be that big a deal … after which I learned that, on a private appeal from the Archbishop of Philadelphia to the commissioner to NOT have the Eagles home on Sunday in Week 2 due to a Mass said by the Pope in Philly that day, the NFL would move the Eagles to a road game that weekend. The making of the schedule has develop into a reasonably cool story, going back to the times when a schedule-nerd like me staked out the story every spring.

Those were the times.

It’s even an even bigger deal now—a nationally televised, massively over-covered big deal. You already know a lot of the stories involved with it because NFL Network and ESPN had wall-to-wall programming about it Thursday night. Listed below are the storylines that interest me probably the most within the wake of the 2022 sked:

The Tennessee-Green Bay game (Week 11, Thursday, Nov. 17) turned out to be a significant statement game. How can a midseason Thursday game be such a giant deal? The league desired to help Amazon as much as possible with its Thursday night package. Amazon goes to treat much of its pre-game coverage the best way ESPN does College Gameday. In other words, it’s going to be a really big deal. Because the NFL goes through the scheduling process, it feeds all of the must-have parameters into multiple computers and lets the software dictate so many things concerning the schedule. The NFL was going to present Amazon one Packers game. Amazon felt a Packers home game was a must, to point out the pageantry of Green Bay tailgaiting, etc. The computers did what the league asked—Amazon would have a Thursday home game at some stage in the season. Late in the method, 92 percent of the schedules spat out by the computers had Jets-Packers because the Green Bay home game.

Nice, but not great. Couldn’t the league, possibly, find a greater foe for the Packers, one which may make this a hotly contested game for 60 minutes?

Tennessee Titans v Green Bay PackersTitans running back Derrick Henry at Lambeau Field, December 2020. (Getty Images)

So Tennessee was put within the Week 11 Thursday slot, traveling to Green Bay. A present. The 2 2021 one seeds squaring off on the hallowed Lambeau grounds. That did create one problem the league dreaded. Tennessee could be certainly one of two teams (Dallas the opposite) to play two short-week Thursday games; this yr is the primary time that has been required. So if the Jets had stayed on this slot at Green Bay, Tennessee would have had just one Thursday night game. Now the Titans can have two.

The league treated the first-ever streaming package on Thursday nights as semi-golden territory. One league mole told me: “There’s no way we’re taking the massive Amazon money and throwing a foul schedule in there.” Once I first saw the Amazon Prime 15-game Thursday slate, I believed: I comprehend it’s streaming, and I do know the rankings won’t compare to other prime-time windows. But it is a higher package than a number of the ones ESPN used to get on Monday nights. ESPN used to bitch concerning the quality of the MNF schedule while it paid the largest rights fees for NFL programming. So I went back and looked. I selected 2016 at random. ESPN had a 15-game slate on Monday nights in 2016; Amazon Prime has a 15-game slate on Thursdays in 2022. In 2016, ESPN had 4 games on the schedule with winning 2015 records for each teams. In 2022 eight games—greater than half the schedule—match teams with winning records from 2021. Have a look at the schedule. I count three bowsers: Washington-Chicago in Week 6, Atlanta-Carolina in Week 10, and the bizarrely placed Jags-Jets in Week 16 (Dec. 22).

But starting in Week 11, Amazon has three straight games worthy of Sunday night: Titans-Packers, Bills-Patriots, Raiders-Rams.

“If we intend to make this successful,” said Mike North of the NFL’s scheduling team, “as we migrate to a streaming service for the primary time … the method to try this is to ensure we put really good games there. I feel we’re going to present fans reason to go find Amazon this yr and find these football games and hopefully after possibly the primary couple of weeks, it’ll just develop into one other button on our distant.” Starting with Justin HerbertPatrick Mahomes, ending with Cowboys at 2021 AFC top-seed Tennessee, helps.

Amazon Prime will probably be a special animal than the standard game on TV. There will probably be an emphasis on analytics. There will probably be two different broadcast teams for each game, with Al Michaels-Kirk Herbstreit, obviously, the essential and traditional one. “We expect there’s a chance to innovate,” said Marie Donoghue, Amazon’s vp of worldwide sports video. “We’ll have recent and exciting alternative feeds … We expect this will probably be a greater experience for fans [than the traditional telecasts].”

One other interesting comment from Donoghue concerning the Amazon ‘solid. “There hasn’t been a recent studio show in many years,” she said. Well, NFL Network’s show is a decade-plus old, and NBC’s is 16 years old. But point taken. She made it clear Amazon will innovate on the studio shows, which will probably be welcome.

Thanksgiving weekend, very possibly, will probably be one of the best weekend in FOX Sports history. Allow us to go day-by-day:

• THURSDAY. NFL: Giants at Dallas, late-afternoon window. A sensible TV person told me: “If the Giants have a pulse by then, this will probably be a 30-million-viewer audience.”

• FRIDAY. World Cup soccer: USA-England, 2 p.m. An audience of 25- or 30-million on Black Friday.

• SATURDAY. College football: Michigan at Ohio State. Needs to be 20 million minimum unless one or each goes within the tank.

• SUNDAY. NFL: Rams at Kansas City, doubleheader window. And just think: FOX has Bucs at Browns within the 1 p.m. ET slot, which might be a giant number in a diffused early window if it’s Tom Brady-Deshaun Watson. In any case, Rams-Chiefs is certainly one of the ten best games of the yr, and it should draw no less than 25 million viewers.

That’s a dream programming weekend. 

The NFL could be very joyful Aaron Rodgers will probably be under center in Green Bay this yr. Of the 17 games on Green Bay’s schedule, a league-high 12 of them will probably be in national windows—either in prime time on NBC, ESPN or Amazon Prime, on within the Sunday doubleheader window at 4:25 p.m. ET. Other teams with 10 or more: Dallas 11, Kansas City 10, Rams 10. 

Issues? There are just a few. Teams that might need a beef or two:

• Philadelphia. As schedulemeister Warren Sharp points out, while 21 teams play either zero or one short-week road game, the Eagles play 4: Week 3 in Washington coming off of a Monday night home game; Week 9 in Houston on Thursday night off a Sunday home game; Week 11 in Indianapolis off a Monday night home game; and Week 16 in Dallas on a Saturday afternoon off a Sunday road game. (To be fair, most teams in Week 16 have a short-week game because 12 games are slated to be played Thursday/Saturday that week.)

Kansas City Chiefs v Cincinnati BengalsChiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, in Cincinnati last January. (Getty Images)

• Kansas City. Couple of things. The Week 2 Thursday-nighter, home with the Chargers, comes off a Sunday road game in Arizona. The Week 8 bye means Kansas City will play its final 10 games without rest (not an enormous deal), including a three-game road trip (a giant deal; at Cincinnati, Denver and Houston) in December.

• Rams. This one hit me greater than it hit others. The Rams play a Monday night December game at Lambeau Field, a Week-15 game that would have major bearing on home-field within the NFC playoffs (could being the operative word). Pretty big edge for Green Bay, because not only could that be a lousy-weather game for the team from southern California, but additionally it comes 15 days after the Packers’ previous game. Green Bay will probably be coming off its bye.

Black Friday details. I used to be unsuitable (and corrected by Mike Florio on Friday) about a vital detail on the potential for a Friday, Nov. 25 game the day after Thanksgiving. The NFL cannot have a game go past 6 p.m. that day due to broadcast rules in place for the reason that sixties. To respect college and highschool football, the NFL cannot play on Fridays after 6 p.m. from Labor Day through the second Saturday in December. With USA-England World Cup game slated for FOX at 2 p.m. that day, the NFL would have either needed to play at 11 a.m. if it desired to avoid a conflict with the sport, or start a game in the course of the second half of the World Cup match. And I don’t think FOX would have been very joyful to have an NFL game and the second half of USA-England kick off concurrently. Next yr, nevertheless, there will probably be a Black Friday game. Amazon Prime is jonesing for one.

A change in crossflexing. Traditionally, FOX would do all games with an NFC road team, and CBS would do all games with an AFC road team. A number of years ago, the league began crossflexing, or moving games from the top-heavy NFC schedule on FOX to CBS to equalize the prospect for large games to land on a special network. Now, due to the rise of so many top quarterbacks within the AFC, there are some big games moving from CBS to FOX this yr: Baltimore at Latest England becomes the dominant 1 p.m. ET game on FOX in Week 3, Kansas City at San Francisco becomes the FOX doubleheader game in Week 7, and Raiders at Denver becomes a late-window CBS game in Week 11. A Mahomes national game moving to the opposite network. Big win for FOX.

A recent window for the NFL to work on. For a lot of the last decade, the London game at 9:30 a.m. ET hasn’t been excellent. No more. This yr, Aaron Rodgers leads the Packers into the Week 5 game in London, and Tom Brady will play the primary game ever in Germany in Week 10. Each games are at 9:30 a.m. ET. Numerous West-Coasters don’t love a 6:30 Sunday morning game, understandably, but there are two advantages here: Good rankings on these games will prompt the NFL to consistently place no less than one strong team within the European games going forward … and barely would NFL games kick off at advantageous times to look at live games in Asia, a spot the NFL desires to make progress in. The 9:30 a.m. game in Latest York is a 9:30 p.m. in Beijing. So Brady and Rodgers will probably be on live TV in China. What does that mean? Who knows. However it’s not bad to have live stars on TV in China.

So the Chargers’ 14-member video/social/wiseass team put together a murals in what has develop into a highly competitive business for reasons totally beyond me—social videos trumpeting the discharge of a team’s schedule.

Of all of the weird things NFL teams could trumpet, how the 17 games of a team’s slate are ordered may be probably the most preposterous one. But, such is life within the NFL, where non-events two weeks after the draft and 11 weeks before the beginning of coaching camps develop into primetime television shows, and teams spend tens of hundreds on in-house videos (and video teams) to create fun memes and social content. I suppose it’s a cool thing to have some fun within the No Fun League, and these videos, mostly, are lots of fun.

This yr, numerous teams used imaginative plotlines to advertise their schedules—Russell Wilson as team intern in Denver; Eli Manning being his self-deprecating self with the Giants; Stephen A. Smith trolling and getting trolled by the Cowboys. But one of the best was the 2-minute, 7-second anime (the Japanese type of animation meant to appeal to adults probably greater than children) done by the Chargers that was so stuffed with subtle digs that it’s stunning they crammed all of the motion into 127 seconds: 

Should we REALLY make our schedule release video an anime?

yes yes yesyes
yesyes yes yes yes
yes yes yes yes yes
yes yesyes yes yes
yes yesye yes yes
yes yes yesyes pic.twitter.com/A0TvmYJUOQ

— Los Angeles Chargers (@chargers) May 13, 2022

The goal: to succeed in a sub-culture outside of football, to drive conversation and connect with an audience the Chargers wouldn’t normally relate, in hopes that the franchise would entertain Chargers fans and recent fans. Anime fans are very internet-savvy people between possibly 10 and 35, and certainly one of the largest is a Chargers feature producer and editor, Andrew Cordova. He drew all the pictures, and he and the staff got here up with all of the fun subtleties in five weeks of meetings prior to the schedule release. Within the video, there are 11 seven-second one-act plays (principally) and three very short two-act plays—with single bits on the teams the Chargers play once, and two references apiece to the three other AFC West teams.

The little digs are infinite.

• Consider the pictures that got Urban Meyer in big trouble on the primary day of a protracted weekend in Columbus last yr, when Meyer was in a Columbus bar and had a few compromising photos taken. Within the Chargers’ anime, there’s a snappily dressed figure on the bar within the approximate position Meyer was … and as a substitute of Meyer’s face, there’s a Jaguar head atop Meyer’s body—with the Jaguar looking exceedingly forlorn. Perfect.

• Chargers versus Colts—there’s a “Quarterback Carousel” on the circus, and the person running it’s cartoonish Pat McAfee along with his “For The Brand” tank top. (That’s a slogan of his.)

• Chargers versus Seahawks—there’s a graveyard poking fun on the decline of the Seahawks, with catchy inscribed gravestones of Seattle-based things: “LEGION OF BOOM, 2011-2018,” “2001 SEATTLE MARINERS,” “MINA KIMES FOOTBALL HOPES AND DREAMS” (Kimes likes the ‘Hawks), “SUPER BOWL 49 GOAL LINE RUN PLAYS.”

• Chargers versus Raiders—There’s a treasure chest with old Raider junk, with a Chucky doll and a label of “AB’s discarded helmets.”

• Chargers versus Atlanta—A falcon flies into certainly one of those omnipresent-in-the-south yellow-and-black Waffle House signs, promoting 28 percent off 3 waffles or more. (I don’t have any hope for you if that image flies over your head.) The Falcon flies into the “W” on the sign, and it goes dark, and so after all you’re left with AFFLE HOUSE. Arthur Blank must be getting bored with all of the jokes made at his team’s expense, but that is an amazing one.

• Weirdly, apropos of nothing, is a drop-in of a dueling scene of cartoony Ian Rapoport and Adam Schefter furiously texting or tweeting on their phones.

Okay, I’ve got the McAfee, Kimes, Rapoport and Schefter meaning. The Chargers have worked with all 4 of those media people and know them. In a nod to popular culture and social-media mania, it wouldn’t be a foul thing if those 4 people, some or all, would re-tweet the anime to their combined 16.1 million followers on Twitter, or talk concerning the video on TV. McAfee did, on his popular show, Friday, and Kimes spent a minute blasting it on “NFL Live” Friday.

Of all the pictures, the forlorn, slump-shouldered Jaguar was probably the most perfect. But the general imagination—starting with Cordova, the massive anime fan on the Chargers’ staff, was simply superb.

One of the best single moment of all the opposite videos? Easy. Josh Allen riding what appears to be a toy sheepdog, entering a room with various Bills players doing normal tasks, holding hands with a Buffalo wings-chomping tight end Dawson Knox and saying: “What does this all mean? Let me break it down for you. Absolutely nothing. Here’s our schedule. Go Bills.”

Here’s our 2022 schedule.

Go Bills.

📺: 2022 NFL Schedule Release | 8PM on @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/y2Z6OvpMDO

— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) May 13, 2022

Thanks.

But hey … it’s a rare time within the NFL when fun might be poked. So have at it.

Shame on me for not writing about this within the last two columns, but I desired to get to it while it still matters. I feel probably the most interesting things that happened within the draft was a rookie GM—with a team that’s a sneaky threat to go deep into the playoffs—trading in the primary round with a team in his own division, then trading within the second round with one other team in his division. And each of those division rivals picked receivers who could haunt the Vikings.

So why do I feel Kwesi Adofo-Mensah did the appropriate thing for his franchise? It’s arguable that at some point he’ll regret trading down from twelfth overall to thirty second with Detroit, allowing the Lions to choose Alabama receiver Jameson Williams. It’s arguable, but probably to a lesser degree, that he’ll regret trading down with Green Bay at 34 and handing the Packers wideout Christian Watson.

It comes right down to this: The Vikings began the draft with two picks in the highest 70. By the point day two was over, they’d made 4 picks in the highest 70. They usually were capable of, in Adofo-Mensah’s words, “do more concerning the basket of problems we were trying to resolve” than in the event that they’d sat at 12 and picked, for instance, Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton. Going right down to 32, they got Georgia safety Lewis Cine, then picked Clemson corner Andrew Booth Jr., at 42, LSU guard Ed Ingram at 59 and Oklahoma linebacker Brian Asamoah at 66.

But Adofo-Mensah knows his first draft, and his rep locally, will probably be attached partially to Jameson Williams and Christian Watson.

Minnesota Vikings Introduce Kevin O'ConnellVikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. (Getty Images)

As Adofo-Mensah said Friday, “I don’t know you’re not alleged to trade throughout the division, but I feel that you must be delicate about it. It’s an uncomfortable position. I don’t think I’d trade Justin Jefferson within the division. But a draft pick is an uncertain thing. You’re getting something back that can also be uncertain. With Detroit, all else being equal and I had similar value elsewhere, I’d deal elsewhere. But that was our best choice, we pulled the trigger, and I’m joyful with what we did.

“I’m not dumb. I do know every touchdown catch [Williams] scores against us, TV will show me or show my name. That’s life. If my feelings are going to get in the best way of us making decisions to enhance the team, I shouldn’t be on this seat. I made the choice because I’m in charge, but it surely’s more fair to say WE made the choice as a company. The [draft] room was behind what we were doing … Detroit had [picks] 32 and 34, and we were targeting those picks for specific reasons.”

So 32 was Cine, a highly regarded player at a necessity position. At 34, Adofo-Mensah said he probably would have taken Booth, the Clemson corner, but then the Packers called, offering 53 and 59 for the thirty fourth pick.

Did Adofo-Mensah want to present Green Bay a fleet receiver with size? No. “You’re somewhat terrified that Aaron Rodgers is gonna get that player, but it surely was actually the simpler decision of the 2,” Adofo-Mensah said. “You knew specifically what Green Bay was doing. They’re attempting to be good this yr. There was a special calculus to that conversation. But what we knew was, if Green Bay called any team after us and offered that deal, they’d have fallen throughout themselves to take it. So Green Bay would have gotten the identical player, and we wouldn’t have gotten the assets for it. If I didn’t do it, it’d just have been about saving face with the media.”

The Vikings took the 53rd pick and moved back up 11 spots in a trade with Indianapolis to get Booth at 42. Then Adofo-Mensah filled two other holes, guard and linebacker, at 59 and 66.

The maths says Minnesota began the day with 12 and 47 and, with other picks being involved, turned those into 4 need players at 32, 42, 59 and 66.

Adofo-Mensah is joyful, even when a few of his fans will not be. He said after the draft, he went to a Twins game and at a bar afterward, a few fans said, “How’d you trade with Green Bay?!”

Possibly Adofo-Mensah must have just sat where he was and brought, say, Kyle Hamilton and Ed Ingram. That is just me, but knowing what I do know and the alternatives the brand new GM had, I’d have been disillusioned if he just sat and picked. Williams could transform an amazing receiver and he could torment the Vikings, but when three of those 4 players develop into valued starters over the subsequent 4 to 5 years, it’s a win for Minnesota.

Jim Irsay, unique and varied collector that he’s, paid $50,103 for an autographed baseball last Wednesday. There’s somewhat more to the story.

“As a collector,” Irsay told me, “you search for unique items, and when you may, you search for items that may allow you to do some good on the earth.”

Irsay has the shoes Muhammad Ali wore for certainly one of his fights against Joe Frazier; a rocking chair utilized by President Kennedy; President Truman’s hat from the 1948 inaugural ball; an original Wanted poster for John Wilkes Booth after he murdered Abraham Lincoln 157 years ago; and too many guitars of famous musicians to count.

Now there’s a baseball autographed by the likely 2022 Time Man of the 12 months, Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The ball was autographed by Zelenskyy on a visit to the United Nations, gotten by a collector who got quite just a few world leaders to sign baseballs on the U.N. in 2019. RR Auction, a Boston-based auction house, put the ball up for bid last week—with the agreement that a significant slice of the winning bid could be used for Ukrainian relief. Irsay had competition, however the 50K bid left him feeling good—not only because he can add the one baseball autographed by a heroic figure, but additionally he thinks the proceeds will do some good.

SOLD! Baseball signed by Volodymyr #Zelenskyy sold for 50k. RR Auction is proud to be donating greater than $15,000, along with our consignor’s generous donation to the #Ukraine relief effort, via @Americares.#Zelensky #volodymyrzelensky #auction pic.twitter.com/ZZs9mmC6KT

— RR Auction (@RRAuction) May 12, 2022

 

“He signed it as if to say, ‘I appreciate America, and the American pastime, and I appreciate what America has done for our country,’ “ Irsay told me. “This war in Ukraine is something of such great impact on the earth. We’re blessed to be the type of special country that will help Ukraine at an important time of their history. Our history teaches us a lot. I hope we do what we’ve done so often in our history—help to rebuild a war-torn country. Possibly this may raise awareness for individuals who will help Ukraine. If individual Americans will help, it’s a stupendous thing.”

Good advice. Here’s the United Nations umbrella organization to help in Ukraine, if you happen to’re of a mind to assist the hundreds of thousands in Ukraine whose lives have been torn asunder by the war.

I

“Mr. Manning! Mr. Manning! I’ve got a Mike Rotch on the phone! He says he knows you.”

—Russell Wilson in the Broncos’ schedule-release video.

Some explanation: Manning played a Broncos’ intern in last yr’s schedule-release video, and this yr, he was back to coach the 2022 intern, Wilson, who showed up with nerdy glasses and was a yes-sir, no-sir guy all the best way. At one point, Wilson had to reply the phones on the Broncos offices, and, as Manning left, Wilson got a call from a “Mike Rotch.”

That right there was a gem.

II

“The Raiders type of operate back within the Stone Age.”

—Nicole Adams, who worked within the Raiders’ Human Resources Department for nearly five years before being dismissed in late 2020, to the Latest York Times in a story about front-office and ownership dysfunction with the team.

III

“Tub Thumping is the name of a song within the nineties from a band, Chumbawumba. ‘I get knocked down, but I stand up again. You’re never gonna keep me down.’ That continually goes back to the identical lyrics. ‘I get knocked down, but I stand up again. You’re never gonna keep me down.’ That may be my wish for this class. Congratulations.”

—Sean Payton, at the tip of his Commencement Address at Loyola University in Latest Orleans on Saturday.

IV

“Really fast, smooth in transition, good route-runner. Ultimately, he’s the form of character person we wish to bring into the constructing, and that’s as essential as anything.”

—Saints coach Dennis Allen with first impressions of Latest Orleans rookie wide receiver Chris Olave.

V

“This season was really exacerbated by really unprecedented player movement. The computers are going a thousand miles an hour in one million different directions, after which impulsively Tom Brady retires. Okay. Stop all the pieces, rethink, redeploy, reassess, reevaluate. Tom unretired! Okay, stop all the pieces, redeploy, reassess. Russell Wilson changes teams. Tyreek Hill changes teams. Matt Ryan changes teams. Big player, star player movement. Every certainly one of those type of requires us all to stop and take a breath and say, ‘All right, that which we thought was worthy of primetime—is it still?’”

—Mike North, NFL VP of Broadcast Planning and Scheduling, on one major issue with making the 2022 NFL schedule.

Dec. 23, 1972: Raiders at Steelers, AFC Playoffs, Immaculate Reception game.

Dec. 24, 2022: Raiders at Steelers.

This, schedule czar Howard Katz told me, was the primary tentpole game the NFL planted within the 2022 schedule. In reality, Mike North called Katz at the tip of the last game of last season, Raiders over the Chargers, to remind him (and Katz knew) of the importance of the Las Vegas victory: It means the Raiders would play on the Steelers, enabling the league put the sport exactly 50 years and at some point after the Immaculate Reception.  

I’m only a little bit of sentimentalist. But while they’re all still alive, how poetic wouldn’t it be if that day in Pittsburgh, so near the spot where probably the most mysterious throw in NFL history with probably the most dramatic ending to a giant game in NFL history, we saw this scene: Terry Bradshaw, 74, joining Frenchy Fuqua, 75, and Franco Harris, 72, on the Heinz Field turf.

Should you’re not up on football history from the NFL 53rd season, here’s Curt Gowdy on the mic for NBC for the last play of Raiders-Steelers a half-century ago.

DETROIT — I like cities that work hard to rebound. And Detroit is working like crazy to be the nice American city it once was.

Three examples:

• I stayed in Detroit overnight last week while on the town to do something with the Lions. (You’ll examine it soon.) I made a decision to remain downtown, on the cool recent Shinola Hotel on Woodward, a few-blocks walk from the Detroit Tigers stadium. Lovely hotel, recent and fun and intensely welcoming. I highly recommend it. One among the nice lobbies in modern American hotels, too, with newspapers throughout and good places to satisfy and answer email.

Comerica. Just an amazing place. I wish the Tigers were higher, however the stadium is beautiful, well-broken-in, with many excellent nods to Tigers history. As someone who got an autograph from Al Kaline once in Boston, and who tried to mimic the very weird batting stance of Dick Macauliffe, I appreciate the kudos this franchise gives to players of past eras. The Bell’s Oberon on tap everywhere in the ballpark didn’t hurt either.

Madcap Coffee, Detroit. (NBC Sports)

Madcap Coffee. I’m a fan of latest coffee shops. This one, in a classy alley in downtown Detroit, is the third shop of a Grand Rapids-based coffee company I’d never heard of. Not only is the vibe great (and it was mobbed by the young downtown pre-work crowd one morning last week), however the espresso, roasted in Grand Rapids, was exquisite. I’ve been in lots of coffee shops and tried numerous espresso, and this experience was up with one of the best places I’ve been.

Really rooting for Detroit.

I

A promise made, a promise kept. 28 years after leaving @NotreDame, I’ve accomplished my degree from the Mendoza School of Business. I hope my journey serves as reminder that education is the true equalizer in life and it isn’t too late to start out. pic.twitter.com/J0Xn7Up47n

— Jerome Bettis (@JeromeBettis36) May 12, 2022

Bettis, the Hall of Fame running back, got his degree.

II

Practice makes perfect #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/F9EF47g5Xt

— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) May 1, 2022

The Eagles Twitter account with some cool video of rookie center Cam Jurgens on his farm, performing some center drills with a steer.

III

The @nfl schedule reveal is so overrated. Just tell us who we’re playing.

— Taylor Lewan (@TaylorLewan77) May 12, 2022

Lewan plays left tackle for the Titans and in addition speaks the reality.

IV

No student should leave school without knowing easy methods to:

Cook
Do laundry
Lift weights
Properly clean
Apply for a job
Change a flat tire
Care for their funds

What else?

— Pratik Patel (@PratikxPatel) May 10, 2022

Patel is a strength and conditioning coach.

V

An honor to take a seat down w the nice ⁦@EricLeGrand52⁩ to speak concerning the LeGrand opening of his namesake coffee house. And his very serious efforts to learn Espanol. If only we could bottle his positivity… https://t.co/pB2mp8HqlP

— Kirsten Fleming (@KirFlem) May 14, 2022

Kirsten Fleming of the Latest York Post, with piece on the opening of former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand’s recent coffee shop in Latest Jersey.

Reach me at peterkingfmia@gmail.com, or on Twitter @peter_king.

I feel bars can have the Thursday night games. From Williams Pendleton: “I’m a bartender and I’m currently very anxious concerning the way forward for streaming within the NFL viewership landscape. Bar and restaurant owners I’ve talked to mostly are unaware or don’t understand that they might find yourself unable to point out some NFL games this yr. There are major issues with this streaming plan when it applies to business viewing. Most can’t imagine not having games possibly Sunday or Thursdays with this recent model. After what I’ve seen with ESPN+ roll out, I can. I’d really like to see you discuss this more and get some answers from the brass.”

Hey William, thanks for the newest in what have to be 50 emails I’ve gotten about streaming and the impact on viewership each at home and in sports bars. I asked that query directly—Will Thursday night games be shown in sports bars across the country this fall?—to an Amazon VP, Marie Donoghue, on Friday. “We don’t have an announcement on that yet,” she said. But she identified to me that with Amazon’s sports properties in Europe—Amazon Prime has purchased the rights to a series of Premier League games, something much like the Thursday night NFL package—and made deals with pubs in Europe to give you the chance to point out the games there. I doubt she would have told me concerning the streamed Premier League games being shown in Europe if there wasn’t a excellent likelihood the games could be available to sports bars and pubs in the US (for a fee) this fall.

Now, as for the way it’s going to affect viewing habits, yes, after all it’s going to. But the actual fact is, with soccer worldwide and now with football within the U.S., sports leagues will probably be moving toward experiments with streaming, and the angst in your email tells me it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

I got many more emails on this than I believed I’d. From Taylor, of Dayton, Ohio: “You wrote that the Bengals might need taken the punter Baltimore took within the fourth round of the draft (Jordan Stout of Penn State) if he got past Baltimore. I don’t understand that. Are you sure? A punter within the fourth round? Were all these teams really focused on him?”

We’re two weeks past my draft column, but the quantity of inquiries on this made me wish to answer certainly one of them. So here’s the story: The Ravens had the 130th pick within the draft, later within the fourth round. Baltimore GM Eric DeCosta had a few thoughts there: speedy 5-7 wide receiver Calvin Austin of Memphis, or punter Jordan Stout of Penn State. He thought due to chatter he heard within the GM community that Tampa Bay (at 133) and Cincinnati (at 136) could pick a punter, and since, as DeCosta told me, “We thought Stout was one of the best punter to return out within the draft in years,” Baltimore didn’t wish to risk losing him. As you almost certainly know, Stout was the pick at 130, and the Steelers nabbed Austin one pick before Baltimore would have drafted him late within the round. That led to lots of second-guessing about whether Baltimore erred in prioritizing the punter. We’ll see.

But I can inform you DeCosta has no regrets. There was one punter Baltimore would have drafted, Stout. The last punter they drafted, Sam Koch, has booted for the Ravens for 16 seasons. The possibility to fill a necessity (Koch is 39) for the subsequent 12 to 14 years if he works out is why they picked Stout there. As for Austin, if he hits it big, the Ravens may regret passing on him and having him star for his or her rival. But within the last 10 drafts (before this yr), 47 wideouts have been picked within the fourth round, and I’d say 4 have had significant impact: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Gabriel Davis, Travis Benjamin (that’s a little bit of a stretch) and Jamison Crowder. So on draft weekend, the lack of Austin seems big. However it’s a protracted shot, based on history, that Austin will probably be a giant factor.

Much appreciated, Alex. From Alex, of Castle Pines, Colo.: “There are two things that matter to me significantly about your column. The primary is that I marvel at how well you handle all the mail you get sent. I find it masterful how you may have had to regulate to the changing reality of journalism in addition to our society. Your profession has spanned five many years, and yet you will not be afraid to present people their voice, admit you’re unsuitable, indicate they’re devoid of facts or sense, or simply show gratitude for his or her perspective. I appreciate each the decency you show in addition to the skill in navigating a media world that now looks like it’s one giant unending minefield, all while writing a first-rate column every week. It’s a masterclass in authenticity, excellence, and integrity.”

Alex, I’m blushing. Thanks a lot. I attempt to keep an open mind on things, I attempt to take heed to people vent once they disagree, I attempt to approach the NFL with a neutral eye. It means lots that you’re thinking that of me this fashion.

1. I feel the largest query about Tom Brady as a future NFL game analyst on TV is the query every former player and coach who transitions to TV has to reply: Are you willing to cross the road and work for the people signing your very big check, or will you protect the players and coaches and like as a substitute of calling things the best way you see them? That’s the reported $375-million query for Fox.

2. I feel the simple thing to say about Brady is he’s gotten used to being so vanilla in his public statements that there’s no way he’ll change and be the type of analyst that a couple of times a game will throw a zinger or a dagger. I actually think the other, or nearly the other. It’s like what his QB coach, Clyde Christensen, said the opposite day in Tampa: If Tom Brady selected to be a plumber post-football, he’d be great at it. He couldn’t stand being a crappy plumber, or crappy at anything. So I feel he’ll work at it. He’ll know that, identical to in football 21 years ago, the TV pros will probably be him with skepticism. He’s not clever enough, he’s not honest enough. He’ll know that to be good, he has to get out of his comfort zone of all niceties and tell it prefer it is. On that LeBron James show last yr, Brady said, “Ninety percent of what I say will not be what I’m considering. There’s an element of me that doesn’t like conflict, so ultimately I at all times just attempt to play it super-flat.” That has to finish once he’s on TV if he desires to be any good.

3. I feel what I’d do if I were Brady is study Cris Collinsworth—and honest to goodness, I don’t say that because I work for NBC. I say it because Collinsworth knows easy methods to talk X’s-and-O’s conversationally, he’s a straightforward listen, and he can criticize when the time comes. Remember the tip of the Patriots-Seahawks Super Bowl? Whatever you’re thinking that of the play call that led to the Malcolm Butler interception, Collinsworth didn’t mince words: “I’m sorry. But I can’t imagine the decision. I cannot imagine the decision. You’ve got Marshawn Lynch within the backfield, a man that’s been borderline unstoppable on this a part of the sphere … I can’t imagine the decision.” Sometimes, a robust opinion is required, and you may’t be afraid to present it.

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams v Tampa Bay BuccaneersBucs quarterback Tom Brady. (Getty Images)

One last piece of recommendation. If I were Brady, and I understand the busy-ness of his life, I’d find time, 10 or 12 times this fall, to take a seat down and watch a football game from start to complete. Take heed to the colour guy. Consider what you want, what you don’t like. Consider the cadence of doing a game. Consider speaking in cogent eight-second bursts, because that’s the world you’ll be entering. Don’t start fascinated about the gig every week after you retire, every time that’s. Think concerning the production meetings; you’ve been in a thousand of them. What line of questioning gets a wise coach or player to speak? You don’t need to do games now, or pretend to do them. But you may begin to take into consideration a mode and the points you’d wish to make that perhaps will not be made enough on TV.

4. I feel you deserve all of the plaudits, Jarrett Bell, for winning the Pro Football Writers of America’s Bill Nunn Award, emblematic of a liftetime of smart writing about pro football. Great work, and good to see you recognized eternally in Canton. 

5. I feel the oddest, weirdest thing I saw previously week was this tweet from former QB and current ESPN analyst Robert Griffin III: 

Prayed to dear lord baby Jesus that the @NFL season opener could be Bills-Rams! The Defending Champs against one of the best roster in football. In an effort to be the champ you may have to BEAT the champ. @JoshAllenQB , @stefondiggs and Bills Mafia get a press release game to start out the season.

— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) May 12, 2022

Man, I can consider lots of reasons to wish to Jesus. The Rams opponent on Sept. 8 will not be certainly one of them. Perspective, man. And for individuals who say, He was just kidding, well, possibly he was. But if you happen to’re a non secular person, and Griffin appears to be one, is it good to kid, or to be sarcastic, about praying to Jesus for something? To me, that was one weird tweet.

6. I feel the death of Gino Cappelletti at 89 deserves greater than an RIP, Gino. Five the explanation why:

• He was certainly one of the last true versatile players in football history. In 1960, with the first-year Boston Patriots of the American Football League, he played defensive back and kicker. Then he switched to wide receiver in 1961. He returned kicks, played briefly within the backfield, caught 292 passes in his profession, and led the AFL in scoring five times, greater than any player.

• He scored the primary points in AFL history—a 35-yard field goal against Denver on a September Friday night on the campus of Boston University—and he’s certainly one of three men (George Blanda and Jim Otto) to play every game for his team within the AFL’s 10-year history.

• A few of his games … wow. In 1960, as a DB, Cappelletti intercepted three passes in a game against Oakland at Kezar Stadium. In 1961, against Houston, in his second month as a receiver, he caught six passes for 131 yards and a go-ahead TD within the fourth quarter—and kicked 4 PATs and a field goal. In a 1964 game at Denver, Cappelletti kicked six field goals in six tries. In 1965, at Fenway Park, he caught five passes for 151 yards (including 26- and 57-yard TD passes) and was four-for-four in field goals against Houston.

• Cappelletti was the AFL MVP in 1964, beating out Charley Hennigan, who had the primary 100-catch season in football history (101 catches, 1,546 yards).

• Christened “Mr. Patriot,” Cappelletti did color on the Patriots radio broadcasts for 28 years. If asked their all-time favorite Patriot, lots of a certain age within the six-state Latest England region would say Cappelletti, even today.

7. I feel of all of the stats related to the schedule this season, this one is my favorite: Air miles flown by Seattle in Week 13: 10,566. Air miles flown by Pittsburgh within the four-month regular season: 6,046. The Steelers have eight road trips, and won’t ever leave the Eastern Time Zone. The Seahawks travel through nine time zones to get to Munich to play the Bucs on Nov. 13.

8. I feel a Steelers fan could easily drive to all but two (Atlanta, Miami) of the road games this yr, and Atlanta’s a 9.5-hour trek. When three of the non-division games are to Philly, Buffalo and Indianapolis (all an hour or less by air), that’s a borderline perfect schedule for a coach.

9. I feel Daniel Brown wrote an amazing piece the opposite day in The Athletic about athletes and mental health, and highlighted Steve Young’s struggle with it through the years. Brown wrote a few Bay Area fundraiser for athletes and mental health, and used remarks from Young in his speech there:

“I actually do have a look at it simply as being lost within the woods when a park ranger comes by. Would you are feeling ashamed to ask him for directions? No, you’d be an idiot to not ask him for directions.

“I need the identical type of experience for everybody as we make this less shameful. It could be silly not to hunt help for mental health. We’d like to lose that fear about getting that help. If I break my leg, I don’t walk around and not using a solid. Come on! It’s just silly.

“So let’s not be silly. Let’s be smart. Let’s ask the park ranger for directions so we don’t keep bumping into the identical silly tree. Right?”

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

a. I suppose I’m the just one annoyed by the misspelling of a reasonably basic English word within the Planet Fitness slogan.

b. It’s one thing to spell “judgment” unsuitable. But to plaster JUDGEMENT FREE ZONE everywhere in the facilities and the promoting … it’s like the corporate is saying, “We’ll spell this word nevertheless we rattling well please, and we don’t care that it’s unsuitable.” The British spelling includes the additional “e,” however the American spelling omits it. That is an American company, so I don’t get the British spelling. But I suppose if you must utilise the extra “e,” though I feel there isn’t any defence for it, this chain of fitness centres can do what it sees fit.

c. I saw something I discovered cool in Detroit when watching A’s-Tigers at lovely Comerica Park.

d. Adrian Martinez of the woebegone A’s began his first big-league game Tuesday evening. Martinez got here to Oakland in a trade when the A’s dealt southpaw Sean Manaea to the Padres. Martinez got assigned to Triple-A and got the callup for his big-league debut since the A’s had a twinbill Tuesday in Detroit. He began game two.

e. Things began well. Martinez got the Tigers 1-2-3 in the primary, ending along with his first big-league strikeout—of Javy Baez, no less. He got Miguel Cabrera on a feeble grounder to short in a scoreless second. Within the third, he bumped into some wildness, giving up a single, a wild pitch and a hit-batsman to place runners on first and second. Here got here Baez again. Martinez got Baez to chase outside sliders on the primary two pitches. He tried two more, but each were way outside. Baez fouled off the fifth pitch, after which, on pitch six, Baez flailed at an outdoor breaking pitch, and it was within the dirt, and it skittered by catcher Sean Murphy. Baez took off for first, Murphy sprinted after the ball, and on a bang-bang play at first, Baez was out by a millisecond. Martinez, obviously feeling lucky at his catcher saving a second wild pitch and putting an end to a wild half-inning, got near the dugout and waited for Murphy and said something, they usually each smiled. Like: Thanks for saving my life in my first big-league start. I’m somewhat nervous, .

f. Martinez: W, 1-0. Five-and-a-third innings, 4 hits, no runs, no walks, three K’s. I feel I used to be the just one to clap (out of a crowd of family and friends, it looked to me) when Martinez was walking off after getting yanked within the sixth. What a sense it should have been for him, in his first game with a recent team.

g. Football Story of the Week with a Good Lesson: Seth Emerson of The Athletic, on Matt Luke, the Georgia Bulldogs assistant coach who walked away from the sport and from a national championship contender, retiring at 45.

h. What really hit me was the time last yr he was at an amusement park for his 10-year-old son’s celebration, in line at a ride, and he needed to be on the phone doing recruiting business. “Dad,” his son said, and you may just hear what Emerson was getting across from the child: Ever have time for me, Dad? Wrote Emerson:

Twenty-three years in coaching, within the prime of his life at 45, working for the defending national champions, making just below one million a yr, and Luke just walked away.

“I feel most folks that know me are like, ‘OK we understand this.’ But I feel some persons are like, ‘OK what really happened?’” Luke said, laughing. “All my coaching friends called and said congratulations, and everybody else called and asked: What happened, are you okay, are you dying?”

But on a late spring evening, you may see exactly why Luke did it: A Little League game on the Bogart, Ga., Sports Complex, and there was Luke, standing and watching, talking to a different player’s parent, relaxed in his T-shirt and shorts, not his phone. If he had it with him.

i. Luke is certainly one of the lucky ones. Because he was Ole Miss’ head coach for 3 seasons, he has just a few million within the bank. Most position coaches in college football are miles from being financially secure. And good for Luke for realizing the family stuff before it was too late.

j. Retirement of the Week: Quite a story from Brendan Kurie within the Boston Globe about a school baseball coach who retired after coaching the identical team, Bentley University within the Boston suburbs, for 54 years.

k. Bob DeFelice coached his first game in 1969, two months into the Nixon presidency. He coached his final game nine days shy of turning 80.

l. He won 848 of his 1,868 ballgames, which suggests he also lost greater than 1,000. But he taught a whole lot of young men life lessons in addition to baseball.

m. Kurie quotes a person who played for DeFelice in his 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd seasons coaching, and whose son played for DeFelice in seasons 52, 53 and 54. “He takes pride in mentoring boys to develop into men,” said Ron Brilliant, who played for DeFelice from 1987-90 and whose son, Cory, is now a junior infielder. “He taught me that character is what you do when nobody is looking. Thirty-two years later and that’s still in my head.”

n. DeFelice went to mass each day of his adult life. He’s in nine Halls of Fame. Wrote Kurie, on the tip of his final game, a 4-1 loss to Stonehill:

Bob DeFelice slowly walked from that third-base box into the dugout following the 1,868th, and final, game of his profession because the only baseball coach Bentley has ever known. For six years he’s been the longest-tenured college baseball coach within the country.

“You thought you knew lots about baseball until you played for somebody who really knew lots about baseball,” said Joe Majkut, Bentley’s shortstop from 1970-73.

o. Necessary column of the Week: Tara Sullivan of the Boston Globe, on the recent suicides of female college athletes.

p. Tara Sullivan is nice at this. At a time of such excitement in Boston sports, she writes a very important column we should always all be cognizant of: Sports generally is a respite for some, but not enough of a tonic for all. Wrote Sullivan:

On April 25, it was James Madison softball player Lauren Bernett, age 20. On April 13, it was University of Wisconsin track athlete Sarah Schulze, 21. On March 1, it was 22-year-old Stanford soccer captain Katie Meyer. Just this past week, Southern University cheerleader Arlana Miller, 19, left an alarming note on her Instagram account and later died by suicide.

“I feel that the losses coming in close succession has really been traumatic,” said Dr. Julie Amato, a clinical and sports psychologist who has worked across a variety of NCAA schools and skilled sports teams. “Not only for the individuals who go to [those schools], but for the athletic community at large.”

The finality of death by suicide shakes that community to its core. By any of our usual measures of athletic success, these were athletes at the highest of their games who seemed destined for continued greatness. Bernett was coming off a conference player of the week nod and a pacesetter of JMU’s unprecedented run to the College World Series a season ago. Schulze earned academic All-Big Ten honors in cross-country and track. Meyer had secured Stanford’s 2019 national championship with two penalty-shootout saves.

q. Talk. Talk. And talk some more.

r. Column of the Week: Kevin Blackistone, writing within the Washington Post concerning the insult of the Herschel Walker senatorial campaign in Georgia. Wrote Blackistone:

Walker hasn’t even voted greater than once previously twenty years. He was a resident of Texas until tapped by the GOP to run against [incumbent senator Raphael] Warnock. The Associated Press reported Walker’s ex-wife secured a protective order against him in 2005 and cited “physically abusive and intensely threatening behavior” in her filing for divorce. In his 2008 memoir, “Breaking Free,” Walker admitted to violent episodes, including looking for a person in Dallas who he said was reneging on a business deal, and playing Russian roulette.

But none of that history, recent or old, has stopped Walker from leading most primary polls or from being given a toss-up likelihood to defeat Warnock.

Walker’s sole qualification for Georgia’s electorate … is his athletic achievement. He isn’t like Warnock, an ordained minister who pastors at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church made famous by a former pastor, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., or thrice graduated — first from Morehouse after which Union Theological Seminary, where Warnock was awarded a master’s and a PhD.

Indeed, Walker’s campaign managers late last yr quietly scrubbed his biography of the claim he graduated from Georgia. He earned a Heisman Trophy there but not a level.

Walker is embarrassingly unqualified to be an elected official at any level, let alone within the U.S. Senate.

s. Pleased to see the Nets draw a little bit of a tough line with Kyrie Irving. GM Sean Marks said last week, “We’re going to want availability from everyone here … If you’re players making $30 or $0 million … what makes them tick? What drives them? Do they wish to be a part of this? Are they motivated by something that’s possibly not good for the entire team?”

t. NBA Stat of the Week: The Nets have played 226 regular-season games within the last three years. Irving has played 103 of them. He did have some injuries, but he missed 44 games as a consequence of personal selections. He missed nine due to a private leave in 2020-21, and 35 because he wouldn’t get vaccinated in violation of a Latest York ordinance last season. He’s as a consequence of make $36.5 million this yr, the last yr of his contract, but he can opt out if he chooses.

u. My query: Despite his enormous talent, do you wish the constant sideshow? If I were the Nets, I’d hope he opts out.

We’d like to do more,
rather more on gun violence
than thoughts and prayers.

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