So this is what happened in the NFL in 2020: As I hit the button to finish writing this column at 3:32 on Monday, with one of the intriguing early-season games kicking off early tonight in Kansas City, let’s wait until breakfast time in Massachusetts to see if the game will be played.
Around dawn in Foxboro, the approximately 130 people from the New England travel party – around 60 players (including coaches) and 70 members of essential coaching and training staff, equipment, property, and front-office staff – will take note of-care COVID-19, rapid tests, with results expected within 15-30 minutes. If the weekend test trend continues in the right direction, and for the third consecutive day the rapid tests all return negative, the travel group will proceed on the buses. Most people will be accompanied by bus to T.F. Green Airport in Providence to catch a mid-morning Delta charter to Kansas City. Some will be escorted by bus to Boston̵
I don’t know why the two planes would be departing from New England airports 60 miles apart. I just know that I am. It’s just another piece of weirdness to throw on the pile of empty stadium oddities / fake noise / daily tests / incubation learning / wearing masks / staying home / new 2020 rules. Kansas City players and staff will also have to testing this morning, after a training team quarterback tested positive for COVID last week. Assuming testing goes well in Massachusetts and Missouri this morning, it will be New England (2-1), with sadly quarantined Cam Newton looking somewhere in Massachusetts, Kansas City (3-0) tonight, 7:05 am . pm ET, on CBS, in the first twin game invented Sunday morning. Game Two: Falcons-Packers, 8:50 pm, in Green Bay, which is suddenly, oddly enough, possibly the hottest place for COVID in America right now.
I don’t usually edit this column on Mondays, but there’s a first time for everything. Check back for updates as this story changes today. What will it be.
It was so perfect what a New England player said about this strange situation over the weekend. So Belichickian.
“It is what it is,” said the player.
So many tentacles to this story, from the science of contagion to the effect on TV, to the second presidential debate, to the effect on the program, to the strange story of the sudden New England quarterback, to the hastily called league match today, to how Tennessee will manage his current nightmare. And what must be some discomfort on the part of the players in this match tonight, no matter how reassuring the league has been about the health and safety of facing a pandemic.
The program. Why rush the Patriots-Chiefs game to tonight and have the league cancel its no-travel rule on game day? Three reasons. The league did not want to saddle Kansas City with a three-game 10-day streak Tuesday through Sunday and Thursday (in Buffalo). (With the third game clashing with the second Trump-Biden debate, should it happen.) KC would have been open to moving the game to Friday, but FOX doesn’t pay $ 60 million per game to play a sexy game (KC – Buffalo) on a bad early night, Friday. And it fits better in New England too. The Patriots would not have wanted to go home at 4am on Wednesday to prepare for a Sunday game with Denver, when the Broncos would have had nine days to prepare after a Thursday game the previous week.
Kansas City would certainly have agreed with the move from Thursday night to the FOX Sunday doubleheader window in Week 6. Two problems: No team wants to add an extra week Thursday night game, and every team already has one. And two, the FOX doubleheader that week is Aaron Rodgers at Tom Brady. End of discussion.
I’ll tell you why the NFL hopes they don’t have to add a week 18 and 19. If I had a dime for everyone who emailed or tweeted me with the idea of why not-just-push-postponed-to-January, well, I’d have around $ 3.10. The short answer is that it could happen. The smart answer is this: There is no good reason to decide until it is necessary. And the NFL wants to avoid that if possible, and not just because it would push the Super Bowl back a week or two. (Tampa, the Super site is open in February. Widely open.)
Let’s say you have five or six games to catch up at the end of the season. Suppose three teams have to make up two games each and the NFL adds a week 18 (January 10) and a week 19 (January 17), to ensure each team plays a regular season of 16 games. This could mean that the top seeds at each conference will play their final regular season games on January 3 and the division playoff game on January 30 or 31. How fair would it be for the team that earned the bye to sit down for a month before playing a playoff game? For me, it is much better for two or three teams to play 14 or 15 games than to put the best performing teams at a disadvantage to sit down for a month, then play the biggest game of the year.
But the bottom line is that there may be three or four meaningless games to play at the end of the year. You just don’t know what you will face during the season, so decide when you need to.
What to do in Tennessee? It is not certain that the Titans will be able to mobilize their forces and open their training facility and get the work needed to play the week 5 home game against Buffalo on Sunday at noon CT. With full-back Khari Blasingame becoming the ninth Titans player to test positive for six days, the work of the NFL and NFLPA to investigate the Titans outbreak becomes increasingly important. How did things explode there, and how soon will COVID subside? “They are Marlins everywhere,” an informed League source said Sunday evening. League and union officials are investigating whether, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported Sunday, the club’s players or employees have violated the rules on wearing tracking devices or reporting COVID symptoms. There are no rules as to what the discipline would be for the violation leading to outbreaks. Could the Titans, if forced to miss a game or two, simply play a shorter season than other teams and have their playoff status determined by the win rate compared to teams for the entire season? Could he be forced to give up one or more games if found to be negligent? Unknown and undecided.
A bubble. It’s a good idea, of course, to put each team in a local hotel for the next three months for most or all of the week. A good idea, as long as you don’t ask the families to miss Thanksgiving and Christmas. It can come to this. If two or three other teams have similar outbreaks in Tennessee, the league and union could push for it. Now? I think there would have been support, but not overwhelming. I also think that some players, I have no idea how many, give up.
Science. One thing haunts me and, I can tell you, some of those involved in the game tonight: how can players be sure that the incubation period for the disease is over, especially after seeing Titans players test positive for COVID for six consecutive days? They can not. After hearing that Newton tested positive on Friday, infectious disease specialist Dr. Celine Gounder said Sunday that the average person exposed in Newton on Friday would test positive the following Tuesday or Wednesday.
“A test within a day or two of exposure makes no sense,” said Dr. Gounder, assistant clinical professor of medicine and infectious diseases at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital.
NFL medical director Dr. Allen Sills told me that if a player tested positive on Friday, the exposure would likely come days earlier. “When you are contagious to others is a question the medical community is struggling with,” Sills said.
Suppose Newton was exposed to COVID on Tuesday or Wednesday and did not test positive until Friday. Those around him – close contacts are defined by the NFL as being within six feet of Newton for at least 15 minutes in a day – may have been exposed for two or three days, not just Friday. In that case, the tests carried out on close contacts may have been on days four and five on Sunday and today. The fact that none of all Patriots’ players and coaches tested positive in the quick tests on Saturday or Sunday sets the New England case apart from the 20 cases found, according to the Tennessean, in Nashville in the past six days.
Brian Hoyer. Hoyer, 35, played six of his 12 NFL seasons with the Patriots in three separate bouts, and recently decided to relocate his family lock, football and cane to New England. He loves it there, and every time he retires he will move into the family home in the area. He has also played in Cleveland, Arizona, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis and San Francisco. Oddity of the Week: Hoyer played more seasons and games (23) in New England than anywhere, but never started a game for the Patriots. . . and started at least one game at each of its other six stops.
Imagine what Hoyer is thinking right now, filling a beginner game plan in his head after receiving the news, presumably, on Friday, that he would be playing this game: on the road, against the best football team, against defender Campioni. of the Super Bowl and against a 25-year-old phenomenon who has already been a Super Bowl MVP and MVP. This is the first starting assignment for the Patriots – oh, and with Bill Belichick examining your every launch – right there.
As for the match – what, is there a soccer match tonight? – New England certainly went to school for KC’s close overtime win over the Chargers in Week 2. The Chargers limited Kansas City to nine possessions in four quarters, and won the 11-minute time-of-possession. That’s how you beat Mahomes, don’t give him much of a chance. To do that, you have to make it work well and New England have, with 534 yards in three games, an average carry of 5.1 yards. Sony Michel is coming to life after a slow start and Rex Burkhead contributed 6 meters per touch. Hoyer is smart. He will know that he takes the ball late on the game clock and will know that he is not running any disputed risks downstream. But Kansas City embarrassed Baltimore on Monday night, and Andy Reid and Mahomes are a perfect play-caller / play-executer duo, and skill players are sane. Not impossible, but this is a tough match for New England. For anyone right now, really.
Should we be sucked into the Cleveland Browns again? They are 3-1 for the first time in 19 years (don’t like the days of Butch Davis and Tim Couch?), And it’s hard to know if they can maintain proficiency, especially after giving up 566 yards on Sunday in Dallas. But maybe we should enjoy it for as long as it lasts. Cleveland 49, Dallas 38 was like a backyard game and it took backyard games to win it.
There was a play in the 12 games on Sunday that left you breathless. It was the eighth game of the game in Dallas.
“I’ve had the game on my call sheet all season,” said coach Kevin Stefanski from his office after the game. “When I was coming up with the script for this game, I said, ‘I can’t let this game go by without calling it.’ I’ll tell you what we call it, if we call it again I’d have to change the name anyway.
” ‘Bananas.’ “
“So you just call ‘Bananas?’ And does everyone know? ” I asked.
“A word,” he said. “Everybody knows.”
No score. Cleveland ball at Dallas 37. Baker Mayfield took the snap under the center, thrown at Nick Chubb flowing right, and here came Jarvis Landry wide right back against the flow, and Chubb threw at Landry reversing the field to the left , and around 45, Landry slowed down and. . .
Landry went wild and shot a perfect spiral, 45 yards in the air, at a waiting Odell Beckham Jr. Question: Why isn’t there a pass in the game board every week for Landry? He hadn’t thrown a ball in a game since completing 63 yards in December 2018.
JARVIS LANDRY TO ODELL BECKHAM JR. ️
– Cleveland Browns (@Browns) 4 October 2020
“Great arm, and he’s left-handed, which of course is rare,” said Stefanski. “I’ll tell you an amazing thing: Even Odell can throw it great. And Odell can throw a great spiral both left and right.”
Learn something new every day. The second play on the playground took place with Cleveland’s huge advantage reduced to 41-38 with four minutes left. In midfield, on the first play of a decisive series, Stefanski decided to play with fire. Another reverse. This time a race. “From my point of view on the sidelines, I’m staring at Aldon Smith, and he has a perfect line on Odell on the back,” said Stefanski. Left to right, here came Beckham, and Smith walked in unlocked, and it looked like Smith was going to nail Beckham for a 13-yard loss, but Beckham took a quick step right just out of Smith’s reach, and then turned upward. The 50-yard touchdown, I guess, had Beckham running for 95 yards. But this won the game.
Triplet @obj! 🎩🎩🎩
– Cleveland Browns (@Browns) 4 October 2020
It’s a fun team to watch.
But Stefanski isn’t going crazy yet. Three teams in AFC Nord with three wins after four weeks, I reminded him. “And so are you.”
“Honestly, I’m not riding the wave,” he said. “I stay nice from week to week. This was a great team victory. We are 3-1. But nobody just wants to play a good quarter. Long way to go. “
The minimum NFC. The Eagles took their first win on October 4 and come out of week four in possession of first place in NFC East. Philly is 1-2-1 after the overturned 25-20 in San Francisco, with Washington and Dallas 1-3 and Giants 0-4. The former mighty East is a 3-12-1 combined after a quarter-season. The Eagles could be the favorites in the division. Dallas has had the fluky win over Atlanta and is allowing for 36.5 points per game. If Carson Wentz’s first step on the road to proficiency Sunday night is a sign of things to come, the Eagles could have a pretty good quarterback and a defense capable of winning against most offensive fronts. Imagine going 8-7-1, or maybe 7-8-1, winning the division and playing a home wildcard game like four-seeded NFC. The biggest problem there? The Eagles may have to host Tom Brady, Drew Brees or the Garoppolos fighters in the first playoff game.
Bill O’Brien is in trouble. Early enough to play what-if, but what if the 0-4 Texans (with Green Bay, New England, Indy twice and Tennessee twice still to play) fail to bounce back and finish 5-11? That would place Houston somewhere close to sixth in the 2021 draft, with perhaps sixth and 38th picks overall in the first two rounds. Problem: They swapped the first and second round picks in 2021 in the Laremy Tunsil deal 13 months ago. Uh Oh. Not good for O’Brien the GM.
Now, credit O’Brien. In four of his six seasons as head coach, the Texans have won AFC South. Those who want to minimize winning four division titles since 2014 should realize that the Eagles have won four since 2007 and that the legendary New York Giants have won four division titles this century. But the Texans haven’t won more than one wild card game in January, and DeAndre Hopkins’ O’Brien business will resonate, particularly with Hopkins so far starring for Arizona.
Owner Cal McNair was more laid back than his father, franchise founder Bob, but Cal McNair may have a decision to make after the season. Two, actually. O’Brien hired the intelligent and authoritative Jack Easterby to head the front office in April 2019. If O’Brien leaves, could Easterby, his handpicked front office boss, stay in a revamped organization? I wouldn’t bet against it.
What about yours? On a day when Justin Herbert, sixth pick in 2020 draft, went on all fours with Tom Brady and lost 38-31, and on a day when Joe Burrow, first pick in 2020 draft, got his first win with a 300 yard veteran game to beat Jacksonville, where’s the man in the middle of that sandwich? Tua Tagovailoa saw Ryan Fitzpatrick lose his third of four games to start the season in Miami. You wonder how long it will be before Tagovailoa, apparently recovered from his hip injury, gets his shot.
The other day I asked Fitzpatrick about Tua on my podcast. “He’s a very interesting guy.” Fitzpatrick said. “He asks a lot of good questions, good questions about football when we’re in the meeting room or even on the sidelines during a match. You can tell he’s very smart in that sense. Smart in football. I think he’s probably a bit of an older soul , just in terms of some of the things he’s in and some of the discussions we can have. It was great fun meeting him. He has a lively personality that makes everyone in the building smile.
“I know my job security is really a week to week proposition for me and I have to go out there and prove it every single week. With Tua, just being able to slow down sometimes, be able to take an extra minute explaining something – my thinking process or sitting on the bench during a game and instructing, talking and answering questions – that stuff is maybe a little different than it would normally go. But I know what my role is. I know I care about it. warm seat. I know the talent he has and am thrilled whenever he gets the chance. I feel like I will play a big part in that. “
Offensive players of the week
Carson Wentz, quarterback, Philadelphia. After a winless start in three games that had called him to the bench, Wentz arrived on Sunday night to win by comeback against San Francisco. The numbers weren’t amazing, but Wentz found the end zone with his legs in the first quarter and his arm in the fourth. The final touchdown, dropped into a bucket for unknown catcher Travis Fulgham, gave the Eagles the lead and will go a long way to help Wentz calm the boos in Philadelphia. At least for a week.
Odell Beckham Jr., wide receiver, Cleveland. “I tell you why Odell always wants the ball,” coach Kevin Stefanski told me after the game. “He wants it because he knows he can make things happen when the ball is in his hands. And we want to get the ball to him. “Sunday in Dallas, in a 49-point blast, the Browns caught the ball from Beckham, early and late. He took a 37-yard reverse pass from good friend Jarvis Landry to open the scoring ( man, what a great shot it was), and Beckham took the win 49-38 with a reverse from 50 yards for a touchdown. Seven touches, 154 yards, three touchdowns: in one day the Browns declared themselves serious contenders in the playoffs .
Joe Burrow, quarterback, Cincinnati. I apologize to Joe Mixon, who is also exceptional (181 total yards, three touchdowns), but Burrow deserves it after his first NFL win and his day of 25 out of 36 and 300 yards, with a TD and a pick. Burrow, cold and surprisingly clean from the Bengals line (a lot), led consecutive drives in the second half scoring 75, 56, 37, 57 and 66 yards to put the game out of reach for the Men of Minshew.
Tom Brady, quarterback, Tampa Bay. Things weren’t going great early on when Brady threw a 78-yard pick-six to Chargers cornerback Mike Davis at the end of the first quarter. And with the receivers and tight ends dropping throughout the game, Brady needed to hit a few targets he didn’t spend much time with, like Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Brady’s fifth touchdown pass early in round four. quarter. Brady had only pitched five TDs once in his previous five seasons, but that didn’t seem like a problem. He was 30 of 46 for 369 yards, with five scores and one pick. For the year, he’s a 65% pitcher, with 11 TDs, four picks, and a score of 99.5. The Bucs, 3-1, can live with it. And win with that.
Defensive players of the week
Bradley Chubb, pass rusher, Denver. With Von Miller gone for most or all of the season, Chubb is the only Denver player in the top seven who inspires awe in attacking coordinators. Having seen him against the battered Jets at a pivotal moment, the fear is justified. Chubb, dating back to 2018, had recorded a lot in his previous 10 games. Thursday night in New Jersey, he had 2.5, including the game-clincher with 2:05 left in the game. With Denver at 30-28 and the Jets with a quarter and three in midfield, Chubb overcame the left attack Conor McDermott and Sam Darnold with a fired hand. A year after ACL surgery, Chubb starts looking like the player the Broncos enlisted in fifth overall in 2015.
Myles Garrett, defensive side, Cleveland. King of the strip-sack. Sunday was his third straight game with one, this time on Dak Prescott, and led to Cleveland’s third touchdown in the first half. Blazing around his left end point, Garrett hit Prescott before the QB saw him. The ball went free, Olivier Vernon recovered for Cleveland at the Dallas 34-yard line, and the Browns scored four plays later. For the game, Garrett had two sacks, three tackles, and two more significant QB pressures. Man is a force.
Special team players of the week
Michael Boone, who runs back, Minnesota. The special teams ace Vikes broke through Houston’s punt protection around return DeAndre Carter towards the end of the first quarter, pushing the ball away. The Vikings bounced back at the Houston 35, led to baskets and a 10-0 lead and were never behind in their first win of the season, 31-23, over the Texans.
Taiwan Jones, running back, Buffalo. The Bills did a smart thing after taking a 7-0 lead in the first quarter: they kicked off in the dead air of Allegiant Stadium at the 4-yard line in Las Vegas, where Jalen Richard took the lead. popup and started running to the center. Jones, who ran in the center, on the other end of the pitch, was also leading the chase for the Bills kick-off team. He blew full-back Alec Ingold, then passed a bar in the arm of cornerback Keisean Nixon and pinned Richard to Raider 16. Perfect pursuit and tackle from veteran Jones.
Coach of the week
Matt Rhule, head coach, Carolina. When Christian McCaffery crashed in game two, lost for about a month, the 0-2 Panthers looked doomed. But Rhule is pretty good with cleanup projects, having saved Temple and Baylor in two previous lives as a manager. The Panthers went to Los Angeles and beat the Chargers last week, then, on Sunday at home in Charlotte, they beat a rising Arizona team 31-21. The defense is still in trouble, but Carolina is finding a way with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater playing efficiently and the run game being able to eat up some time.
Goat of the week
Nick Mullens, quarterback, San Francisco. It’s an unenviable place, being a reserve quarterback leading a team slammed on prime-time television. For most of the match, Mullens was more than adequate in an attack that depended heavily on short passes and running play. But his two mistakes in the fourth quarter were glaring. The first was a fumble that led to the Eagles’ green light. And Mullens followed up on that mistake with the game-ender, an inexplicable throw straight into the arms of linebacker Alex Singleton, who took the easiest interception of his life right in the end zone. Mullens was yanked on the next lap in favor of C.J. Beathard.
This was a surprisingly bad step. pic.twitter.com/FWIBXl0Rx2
– Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) 5 October 2020
“It’s terrible. It’s brutal. It’s depressing. This sucks. I don’t know any other way to put it.”
—Houston defensive linesman J.J. Watt, after the Texans dropped to 0-4 with a 31-23 home defeat to Minnesota.
“I can honestly say that if it had been last year, we would have gotten 20’s ass pounded.”
—Tampa Bay manager Bruce Arians praises Tom Brady for the Bucs who cleared a 24-7 lead on Sunday to beat the Chargers.
“It’s a fight. It’s a fight. And I just don’t represent myself. I represent all those people who are afflicted [with cancer], all those people who fight, all those people who have fought. “
—Washington manager Ron Rivera, who looked to be struggling to leave the field at the interval of the 31-17 home defeat to Baltimore. He had to lean on a team staff member and grab two bags of IV fluids before the game. Rivera is being treated for squamous cell cancer.
“Nobody is to blame. We are in a pandemic.”
—Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel, of the 20 members of the Tennessee organization who tested positive for COVID-19 last week.
“You have these days you remember in your life. Do you remember where you were when Elvis Presley died or JFK was shot. I remember the day Trey Lance told me he was going to be a bison. “
—North Dakota State quarterback coach Randy Hedberg to Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel, on Lance, the quarterback who is expected to bid for the 2021 draft and be one of the top 10 picks in the NFL.
Thamel wrote a great story about Lance, who had an average performance of 15 out of 30 in his only 2020 game on Saturday against Central Arkansas.
“Brady still has a ball to play football, just in a different state.”
—Ian Eagle of CBS Sports, when Tom Brady finished the time in his third win with the Bucs, 38-31 over the Chargers.
Tom Brady’s age in his eighth career five-TD game Sunday: 43 years, 2 months.
Age of Peyton Manning in his last five-TD game of his career in 2014: 38 years, 7 months.
Since June 1, the Philadelphia Eagles have had:
• Three initial sinister contrasts: Andre Dillard, Jason Peters and Jordan Mailata, who started his first NFL game on Sunday night;
• Three left guards: Isaac Seumalo, Matt Pryor and Nate Herbig, who started his first NFL game Sunday night on the left guard;
• A center: Jason Kelce, who has been to Philadelphia nearly as long as the Liberty Bell;
• Four right guards: Brandon Brooks, Jason Peters, Nate Herbig, and Matt Pryor, who started his first NFL game on the right guard Sunday night;
• And two right contrasts: Lane Johnson and Jack Driscoll, who started his first NFL game in week 1 when Johnson was put down.
The five Eagle starters Sunday night at the 49ers arrived in Philadelphia, left to right, as 233rd pick in 2018 draft (Mailata), non-drafted (Herbig), 191st pick in 2011 (Kelce), 206th pick in 2018 (Pryor ) and fourth in 2013 (Johnson).
Dillard (biceps), Brooks (Achilles), Peters (toe) and Seumalo (knee) are in reserve for injuries.
It’s the fourth week.
Seven teams from the MLB Central Division participated in the 16-team playoff draw: Milwaukee, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland and Minnesota.
All seven lost their opening streak.
Won-lost records of the seven central teams: 2-14.
The nine teams from the East and the teams from the West, combined, went 16-4.
Then there’s my geographic aspect of the MLB playoffs: The Yankees and the Rays will play an American League Division Series that begins tonight at San Diego’s Petco Park, which is 2,789 miles from the Yanks’ home field and 2,470 miles from. where the Rays play.
This is called “don’t get the shot” pic.twitter.com/rB8z5KsGZo
– Kent Porter (@kentphotos) 5 October 2020
Porter is a photojournalist for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
La stagione della NFL si sta avvicinando a una scogliera a cui nessuno vuole essere vicino.
– Sage Rosenfels (@ SageRosenfels18) 3 ottobre 2020
Rosenfels, ex quarterback della NFL, scrive per The Athletic.
La bolla NFL suona bene ma praticamente impossibile da eseguire.
– Tedy Bruschi (@TedyBruschi) 3 ottobre 2020
Bruschi, analista di ESPN, è un ex linebacker di Patriots.
Ricevo una sorta di premio per questo, giusto? pic.twitter.com/QDbdHZWBAV
– Adam Duerson (@adamduerson) 3 ottobre 2020
Duerson, sfortunato giocatore di fantasia, è direttore esecutivo di Sports Illustrated.
no, ma seriamente cos’è questo? pic.twitter.com/iPWQ1VrCjV
– kelsey (@kelseytaysutton) 4 October 2020
Ti dirò di cosa si tratta: è uno stadio pieno di gente ad Athens, in Georgia, a cui quest’anno non dovrebbe essere consentito entrare in altri stadi senza rivestimenti per il viso, e forse per niente perché chi potrebbe fidarsi di loro per indossare effettivamente i rivestimenti per il viso?
Puoi contattarmi a email@example.com, o on Twitter.
Voleva che Pats-KC giocasse domenica. Da Sean Carroll: “Sto per dire qualcosa di un po ‘controverso. Qualcun altro è infastidito dal fatto che stiano posticipando la partita Pats-Chiefs a causa di questi test positivi? Per me, penso che renderebbe la stagione più interessante se dovessero giocare e allenare con chiunque è in grado di giocare, anche se il capo allenatore è in quarantena insieme al QB e alla linea offensiva di partenza. Ho giocato a football al liceo (terribilmente!) Ma abbiamo sempre pubblicizzato “Next man up”. Allora perché non qui? “
Fondamentalmente perché non stiamo parlando di alcuni ragazzi con un tendine del ginocchio tirato o una lacrima ACL. Sono fuori con una malattia trasmissibile che ha ucciso 208.000 americani negli ultimi sette mesi. L’epidemia di Titans è iniziata martedì con la scoperta di otto test positivi e il problema è che, poiché il periodo di incubazione del virus varia, il Tennessee ha avuto un altro giocatore sabato con un test che è risultato positivo. Se il Tennessee avesse avuto un test positivo e poi un paio di giorni senza più risultati positivi, questa settimana si sarebbero giocati i Titans-Steelers. Ma eccoci qui con otto giocatori che sono risultati positivi in una settimana. Non è una regola rigida, ma la NFL deve seguire le squadre che hanno un giocatore positivo al test con un paio di giorni di test negativi prima di consentire a quella squadra di giocare nella partita successiva.
Sono d’accordo. Da Michael Holliday, di Melbourne Beach, Florida: “Quando John Harbaugh si è trovato di fronte al giudice laterale lunedì sera, con la maschera abbassata e facendo la sua migliore impressione di Leo Durocher, ero certo che la Lega lo avrebbe inchiodato. Per un allenatore vomitare le sue goccioline direttamente in faccia all’arbitro è stato disgustoso. Dov’era la NFL in questo o me lo sono perso? “
Non te lo sei perso. La NFL, a quanto ho capito, prenderà in considerazione la possibilità di disciplinare l’allenatore dei Ravens John Harbaugh per aver alesato senza maschera il giudice di linea Mark Steinkerchner a distanza ravvicinata lo scorso lunedì. Harbaugh deve essere più intelligente di così, e il sindacato dei funzionari ha tutto il diritto di insistere su un’azione per questo.
La lega dovrebbe testare sette giorni su sette. Da Peter Maloney: “Sono sorpreso che i media sportivi non stiano picchiando la NFL per non aver fatto [rapid] test per tutte le squadre prima di tutte le partite. The risk of false positives is low and it’s REALLY low considering that with the rapid results you can just perform the test again. In my opinion, they’ve decided that on game day they’d rather not know and, despite risking an outbreak and putting players and their family’s lives at risk, avoid canceling the game.”
I agree with this too. I’d like to see players get day-of-game testing too.
Well, I would be going to the home games in my $2-billion stadium, but that’s just me. From Matt Weaver, of Carlsbad, Calif. “Come on man. Mark Davis won’t go to the new stadium unless fans can. He aligns himself with fans and doesn’t want them to think he is above them. He says, ‘If our fans can’t watch in person at our stadium, then I won’t either.’ THAT is an honorable man.”
Certainly his choice, and I get aligning yourself with the fans (although some of the fans in Oakland might take issue with you on that). Just seems odd to me that the owner of a franchise wouldn’t be going to the games at such a historic time for his franchise, communing with his players and coaches and GM, maybe sitting with the GM in the event important issues have to be discussed.
Inside baseball. From Marshall Auerback: “I’m curious to know what kind of travel restrictions you are operating under this year and whether that makes it easier or more difficult for you to get your lede. I ask because in the past, you often would make a decision in advance as to which game to cover more extensively and would accordingly travel to that city for the game coverage. What do you do on game-day today? Are you in an NBC studio monitoring a series of games and, if so, does that make it easier for you to shape your column (given that you are watching a number of games simultaneously, rather than having pre-committed to one game by traveling to a specific venue)?”
Thanks for the note, Marshall. I watch the games from my apartment in Brooklyn. I have three screens. For the early games, I have Red Zone on one screen; the game of my choice on another screen; my laptop open to write column notes as the afternoon goes on; the standings and schedule in a grid taped to my desk; and a notebook to my left (I write left-handed) to jot down things I know I must get to before end of day. And if there’s a crucial sequence in a game, I will switch the game I’m watching to that one.
For instance, last week, the Rams and Bills got really fun, and Josh Allen got really hot, and around 3 ET, I started to think I might lead my column with him. Turns out he was one of the big stories of the day, and I reached out to the Bills’ PR staff to see if I could get five minutes with him over the phone post-game. Turns out Mike Florio wanted time with him too, and the Bills proposed us both being on the line to talk to him. That was okay—he used mostly what he asked in 11 minutes with Allen, I used mostly what I asked. Florio raised the specter of Tony Romo helping him in the offseason, so I texted Romo to see if he’d elaborate. When Romo landed back in Dallas from his game in New England, he called and added texture to the story. So there was the top to the column. Also got on the phone with Kyle Shanahan and Stephen Gostkowski, both Sunday newsmakers, and filled out the column with them.
Could I go to a game? Sì. Will I go at some point this year? Probably, but not certainly. The problem is that in all venues, player interviews are done only on videoconference; coach interviews are mostly the same too. I could get color by going to the game site, certainly, but it’s probably smarter for me to sit here in command central and monitor every game. Clearly, this isn’t as good and informative and colorful as me sitting alone with Andy Reid for 12 minutes after the Super Bowl and having him draw and explain 2-3 Jet Chip Wasp, and then me be able to show that to America five hours later, but this year, I’ve just got to be more flexible and imaginative.
1. I think I empathized with the jillions of you who play fantasy football over the weekend. Derrick Henry, out. JuJu Smith-Schuster, out. Patrick Mahomes and Jason Kelce and Tyreek Hill and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, maybe out. “Confusion and panic were the dominant emotion in fake football this weekend,” ESPN fantasy guy Matthew Berry told me Sunday night. “It’s a pretty huge story in our world. So many people in fantasy football had a crucial week, because maybe they drafted Saquon Brakley or Christian McCaffery or Michael Thomas very high and maybe they were 0-3 or 1-2 headed into the weekend and they needed a win.”
I appreciate Berry’s perspective, though. “I think I speak for every fantasy manager or commissioner—we see what’s going on in the country, and we’re thrilled that we have football this fall.” I liked his compromise in the league/leagues he runs. Berry told each team owner to designate a player by 1 p.m. ET Sunday who would replace a New England or Kansas City player in the event that game did not get played. For instance, if you had Edwards-Helaire in your lineup, designate a lesser back—say, Jeff Wilson Jr., of the Niners—to sub for him only if Kansas City’s game wasn’t played. Seems fair. Then Wilson’s numbers would retroactively get plugged in once it was determined Kansas City’s game was off.
2. I think there’s a legit chance Carolina could be 4-2 in two weeks, with a games at Atlanta and home with Chicago coming up. I mean, with no Kuechly, no McCaffery, no Cam, no Olsen—this Matt Rhule can coach.
3. I think it’s damn good to have George Kittle back healthy. How about 15 catches for 183 Sunday night in his return from a sprained knee. He nearly willed an undermanned team with a quarterback who looked like he had the yips to a win against Philadelphia.
4. I think Golden Tate and Jalen Ramsey both deserve significant fines for bringing their family business onto the football field Sunday in Los Angeles. It’s a sordid story, Ramsey leaving Tate’s pregnant sister for another woman—allegedly—and both seemed to want revenge over it during and after the game. Ramsey feeling anger toward Tate, defending the honor of his family, seems misplaced, but who knows. All I know is brawling on the field during a pandemic, and involving scores of teammates, is beyond foolish, and both men should pay for it.
5. I think the winner of the Best Player I Never Knew Before Sunday Award is D’Ernest Johnson, running back, Cleveland. He’s from the football factory of Immokalee, Fla. (hello, Edgerrin James) and went to South Florida, and made the Browns as an undrafted free agent in 2019. On Sunday, in Dallas, the Browns needed Johnson because Nick Chubb got hurt and Kareem Hunt was used sparingly because of a groin injury. Johnson ripped off 28 yards on his first carry and finished with a game-high 95 yards, 7.3 per touch. The running back depth in Cleveland helped the Browns win a game no one thought they’d win.
6. I think the Ravens won’t get travel fatigue anytime soon. In the 47 days between Sept. 21 and Nov. 6, Baltimore’s schedule includes two trips: the 43-mile bus ride south to FedEx field in the Washington burbs, and the 104-mile bus ride north to south Philadelphia.
7. I think I’ll be interested to hear this multi-episode podcast project, from iHeart Radio and Diversion Podcasts, on the life and times of Tom Brady by Gary Myers. Original interviews with all the parties involved, including this telling line from Robert Kraft, when Myers asked about the perception that Bill Belichick didn’t want to keep Brady after 20 years: “I think it probably goes two ways.” Meaning, Brady had to want to stay too, and he didn’t. Kraft also said: “I facilitated him being a free agent and he could either stay with us or choose not to. And he chose not to.” Myers got to some of the lesser-interviewed people in Brady’s life over the past three decades, including Lloyd Carr, the coach at Michigan who made Brady fight so hard for playing time and a starting job. With Brady, the key is to get the people in the orbit around his life, not necessarily the major characters, because they’ve been heard from so much. From the list of interviews here, you’ll learn new things about Brady.
8. I think this one slipped through the crack in the last few days. As tipped by Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle and amplified by Bill O’Brien, here’s what happened on a crazy weekend in Pittsburgh for the Texans, including sifting through contact-tracing data for two people in the organization whose Saturday tests came back positive.
“We were in Pittsburgh,” O’Brien said. “We were notified around midnight in Pittsburgh that we had two members of our organization that were positive. We then had to go to the Kinexon contact tracing to find out how many people they had been around. We had to wake up several players at 5 a.m. to get tested, point-of-care testing, and found out that those two tests were false positives. So, I think this is a situation that’s unprecedented.”
I hear it was more than several—more like 15 or more had to get woken up at 5 a.m. and take rapid COVID tests. “There’s no excuse,” O’Brien said. “I don’t think it’s a major, major story, but these are the facts.” What a year.
9. I think, Jets fans, just imagine next year with Andy Reid disciple Eric Bieniemy coaching the arm and brain of Trevor Lawrence:
Trevor Lawrence’s arm pic.twitter.com/6QytSm3eDQ
— Bestsportshighlights (@BSHighlights) 4 October 2020
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
un. Clause of the year: Whoever it was—writer, editor or PR person—who first used “out of an abundance of caution”: did you know it’d turn out to be the most apt yet overused phrase of the year?
b. RIP Bob Gibson. There are so many amazing things about this great man and great pitcher that deserve mention. I will give you four:
• It was after Gibson’s historic season of 1968 (22-9, 1.12 ERA, 28 complete games, 13 complete-game shutouts) that major-league baseball lowered mounds from a height of 15 inches to 10, to try to dim the influence of Gibson and Marichal and Drysdale and others.
• Gibson averaged 15 complete games a year. The MLB league-leader in 2019 had three.
• He pitched nine World Series games. Eight complete games. Seven wins—two over 31-game-winner Denny McLain in 1968, three over the Impossible Dream Red Sox in 1967, and Game 7 complete-game wins over the mighty Yankees in 1964 and the Red Sox in 1967. Ninety-two strikeouts in 81 innings.
• Phil Linz, a Yankee shortstop, homered 11 times in a 519-game, seven-season career. He homered twice off Gibson in the 1964 Series, in one of the weirdest “that’s baseball” stats in history.
c. But there is one more thing about Gibson. He is one of the toughest, fiercest athletes to play pro sports. On July 15, 1967, against the Pirates, Roberto Clemente hit a line drive back to the box that nailed Gibson in the shin. The line drive broke Gibson’s leg. He stayed in the game, walking two and getting Bill Mazeroski to fly to center. Then he came out. He was out for nine weeks, then came back in September, built up his arm strength up, and went 3-0 in the World Series to beat the Red Sox.
d. My one Gibson experience: Maybe 15 years ago, at the Yogi Berra charity golf tournament in New Jersey, Gibson was out on the putting green, alone. My buddy Jack Bowers and I went out (Jack’s a Cardinal buff) and waited for him to finish, and Jack asked him a couple of things. Very pleasant. I asked him something to effect of, How did you know when it was time for a purpose pitch? Just an unspoken thing that all players knew? The pleasant look vanished. He said something about being able to send a message anytime he wanted. Wish I remembered his exact words.
e. RIP Helen Reddy. She was woman. Hear her roar.
f. Baseball playoff tidbits: Not much drama in those eight playoff series, really. Six 2-0 sweeps . . . What a moment for Trevor Rosenthal, former Cards closer, to pitch in each of the three wild-card games for San Diego against St. Louis, and to close out the decisive game with a strikeout looking, strikeout looking and strikeout looking . . . Cubs: 0-2 versus Miami, one run, nine hits, 18 innings . . . Marlins, against the Yankees and Cubs, have allowed one earned run in their last 28 innings pitched, all on the road. NLDS is no gimme for Atlanta . . . Rays: 8-2 this year against the Yankees.
g. TV Story of the Week: William Rhoden of ESPN’s The Undefeated, on the death of Iowa State football player Jack Trice 97 years ago, and on the meaning of his life to so many.
h. Trice, who died after playing the first and only game of his college football career at Minnesota in 1923, is the only Black man whose name graces a college football stadium. Jack Trice Stadium was the name put on the arena by a student body that wouldn’t drop it as an issue in 1997. As Rhoden reported, Trice was either purposely trampled in the game, or just got internal bleeding after a particularly rough play. Rhoden also reported that Trice wrote a letter the night before the game that was later discovered. In part, it read, “To whom it may concern: My thoughts just before the first real college game of my life. The honor of my race, family and self are at stake. Everyone is expecting me to do big things. I will! My whole body and soul are to be thrown recklessly about on the field tomorrow.” Great piece, and a timely one, by Rhoden and ESPN.
the. Story of the Week: It’s Fat Bear Week at Katmai National Park, by Morgan Krakow of the Anchorage Daily News.
j. Happy days are here again! Fat bears! And a Fat Bear Bracket! Voting is open through Tuesday.
k. Because of a small COVID outbreak, there were far fewer visitors to the bear habitat in Alaska over the summer, and the bears seemed to revel in their relative privacy. Writes Krakow:
“Katmai media ranger Naomi Boak said that a Fat Bear Week in the midst of a global pandemic gives people a chance ‘to get transported to this faraway place and watch and celebrate these wonderful bears.’ Though it’s not clear whether a smaller number of bear-viewing visitors was the primary reason the bears acted differently this summer, Brooklyn White, media ranger at Katmai, said the bears had more freedom and access to the river over the summer. Additionally, the season’s salmon run broke records, White said, while the Brooks River saw roughly 800,000 salmon come through. Access to food for the bears was easy. That means the bears really bulked up this year. Bears can gain over two pounds of fat each day in the summer and fall. ‘This is probably the fattest Fat Bear Week ever.’ Boak said. ‘I mean, it’s extraordinary. I did not see a malnourished bear out there. They’re just fatter than ever.’ “
l. Did you know there is a Brown Bear Cam? And you can watch highlights of the brown bears eating freshly caught salmon?
m. Baseball Podcast of the Week: “The Edge,” by Ben Reiter, for Cadence 13 and Prologue Projects, a six-episode investigative look at the Astros cheating scandal. The first two episodes drop Wednesday. Hit that link if you’d like to subscribe.
n. I listened to episode one over the weekend. Reiter, as you probably know, is the Sports Illustrated writer who famously predicted (with an SI cover) in 2014 that the Astros would win the World Series in 2017. And it happened. He became the media expert on all things Astros—except the sign-stealing scandal that engulfed the team last year and badly tarnished the title, and wrote a sporting best-seller called “Astroball.” This podcast is something of a quest by a reporter who wonders what he might have missed in his reporting and his time around the team. As he says in episode one:
“I had made myself publicly and inextricably linked to the Astros. I had written a whole book about them, and missed something really big . . . After the scandal broke, I spent a lot of time agonizing over my reporting, searching my reporting and my notes for any thread I might have been able to pull to be able to unravel the whole thing. I couldn’t find one. The specifics of the sign-stealing scheme had been hidden even, as it turned out, from many members of the organization.”
o. The two things that really popped in episode one: the first chunks of an extended interview with the disgraced former Houston GM Jeff Luhnow (an exclusive; Luhnow has been mostly in hiding this year, and Reiter said this is his first interview), and telling the story of Mike Bolsinger. Remember Bolsinger? He’s the end-of-the-roster Toronto pitcher who got his lunch handed to him during a peak cheating period for the ’17 Astros. And that turned out to be the last appearance of Bolsinger in a major-league game. Bolsinger’s story puts a human face on this scandal, and Bolsinger comes across as eminently empathetic.
p. Three topics with Reiter:
FMIA: Was this a little bit of you trying to clear your conscience after all you’d written about the team?
Reiter: “I certainly felt a deep sense of responsibility—as a journalist and a person—to get the story right. Part of the process was going back and saying, ‘How did I miss this?’ The majority of stuff I reported was prior to 2017, before anyone looked at a trash can and got a bad idea. Even after the cheating scheme started, I don’t think I, or any other reporter, would have been in a position to discover it while it was happening. It was kept secret from so many people within the organization as well, including the owner. But I did re-examine what I’d learned about the organization’s culture—the rules-testing, edge-seeking, some would say win-at-all-costs culture—and dug into it more with a lot of new reporting.”
FMIA: I really like the Bolsinger part. He comes across as a guy who really got screwed here.
Reiter: “Yeah. That part of it is the story of an absolute machine coming alone and crushing a guy who was hanging on by his fingernails. When I thought about doing this story as a podcast, Bolsinger was one of the two or three less obvious people I really wanted to talk to. The Astros hit him so hard that day in Houston, beat him so badly, that he never pitched in the big league again. He might be the single biggest victim of this. And the really tragic part is that the Astros didn’t even need to cheat against him. They were already winning the game big. They might have knocked him around anyway. But they decided to destroy him.”
FMIA: What’s the moral of the story?
Reiter: “There are a lot of morals to it, and many will be revealed as the series progresses. A big one is about the consequences, intended and unintended, that modern technology and tactics can have as far as allowing people to go way further past the line than maybe they had fully understood. I don’t say that to absolve anyone of personal responsibility for anything they did. But it’s a problem we’re seeing all over the place these days, not just in baseball.”
q. Paragraph I never thought I’d read in the New York Times: From the obituary of Joe Laurinaitis, a professional wrestler who died last week: “When you heard that drum beat,” Mr. Laurinaitis told the podcast Chair Shots to the Cranium in 2018, “and you heard that guitar riff, you’d know that someone was going to get their head kicked in.”
r. Okay then. Whoever named “Chairshots to the Cranium” is the winner of Podcast Name of the Millenium.
S. Story of the Week that Should Have Gotten More Attention: LeBron James’ More Than A Vote organization (Patrick Mahomes is in it too) announced the recruitment of 10,000 poll workers for the November election. It’s not stopping. They’re still recruiting in needy southern cities, such as Houston, because of events like this one.
t. Shameful Story of the Week: The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, limiting Texas counties to one mail-in collection site (one of America’s largest counties, in population and geography, Harris County was planning to have 11 such sites). Assuming this edict withstands court challenges before election day. Assuming the one dropoff location would be in downtown Houston—and I do not know where it would be, but that seems a good guess. That would mean a person who lives in Tomball, Texas, in the northwest edge of the county, would have a 43-minute drive in normal traffic to drop off his or her vote. Another option, of course, is to vote in person on election day. But why have dropoff voting in a state the size of Texas, with counties the size of Harris (which is larger by area than the state of Rhode Island) if a month before the election you shut off 10 of 11 dropoff sites?
u. Explain how that is not voter suppression.
v. Coffeenerdness: Question from reader Peter Vermaat: “Thanks for revealing the name of your new coffee maker. But a coffee maker is only as good as the coffee you are putting in it. Care to let us in on that little secret?” Sure thing. I’m a daily drinker of Starbucks Italian Roast, and grind the beans very fine, almost Espresso-grade. I have one large thermal cup, about 14 ounces, of coffee with a little half-and-half. Most days these days, that’s it for me and coffee. But it’s fantastic. Black gold.
w. Beernerdness: Sober October, baby. For the next four weeks, I’ll be on the alcoholic sidelines, and I’ll let you contribute to the column with your Beernerdness entries. Love a beer? Send me 75 words, max, with your name, hometown, the beer of your dreams, and a description, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Use this format: Beer (brewery name), style (IPA, witbier, etc.), where you drank it, and comments.
x. There will be time to disagree on many things, and time to butt heads on issues, and time to ask—please—for the truth. Now, regardless of where we stand politically in this country, it’s incumbent on us to lower the volume on all this hate. Let it start here. Get well soon, Mr. President.
Green Bay 41, Atlanta 27. There are things I will never understand about gambling. The first and seventh-highest-scoring teams per game (Green Bay and Atlanta, respectively) are playing tonight, with the first and 12th-worst scoring defenses (Atlanta and Green Bay, respectively) across the field. Average points in a Packers’ game this year: 69. Average points in a Falcons’ game this year: 66. The over/under on this game is 56.5 points. Is there anyone who thinks the score in this game will be less, say, than 33-24? One of the six games played by either team this year ended with less than 63 points scored (Bears 30, Falcons 26 last week). I don’t get it, which is good. If I did, I’d probably gamble.
Just one question now:
Who can defend not wearing
a mask? Who? Who? WHO!