1. I think the Minnesota stadium deal should be a template for future NFL stadium deals -- assuming the stadium's not in a state like California, where there is relatively little available in the realm of public financing. Turns out the Wilfs, who own the Vikings, will end up paying 49 percent of the stadium costs ($478 million of the $975 million bill), plus 65 percent of the annual operating costs every year for 20 years. The Minnesota governor, Mark Dayton, will announce the deal and have a signing ceremony today.
2. I think next on LA's most-wanted list, now that Minnesota is keeping the Vikings, are St. Louis, Oakland, Jacksonville and Buffalo ... in that order. But I wouldn't say any of the four teams is likely to move.
3. I think this is just one more piece of evidence to suggest not even those he was close to had an idea Junior Seau was in such despair: A couple of days before he shot himself, Seau was on the phone with USC assistant and good friend Kennedy Pola, helping him in Trojan recruiting. I mean, it's still stunning to so many people who knew him well. Or thought they did.
4. I think for the scores of you who have asked me in recent weeks where Dallas Clark will end up -- or if he'll play anywhere in 2012 -- I give you this answer: If I had to make an educated guess right now, I think the leader in the clubhouse is Kansas City. Imagine if Clark, who visited the Chiefs May 1, could give Tony Moeaki a breather for 300 snaps this year, with Kevin Boss in the rotation as well. Moeaki's been injury-prone in his college and pro careers, so the Chiefs will try to find the right number of snaps for him. But a three-tight end rotation of Moeaki, Boss and Clark would be solid, if the Chiefs wouldn't be hurt too much on special teams without major contributions from the tight ends.
5. I think the following findings of a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health were most notable in a study released last week:
a. NIOSH studied 3,439 players who played at least five years between 1959 and 1988 and noted in its study, "We compared the rate and causes of death among these players to what would be expected among men in the general population to see if there was a difference.''
b. Of the 3,439 players, 334 were dead. That compared to an expectation of 625 dead if a similar sample of men in the general population had been undertaken. Cancer-related and heart-disease-related deaths were both lower than what NIOSH had assumed would be the results in a study of the general population.
c. Deaths due to heart disease were higher than the norm for offensive and defensive linemen, but at no other position group.
d. African-American players had a 69 percent higher risk of dying due to heart disease than white players. NIOSH said it didn't know why this was, other than to report that in the general population, African-Americans have a higher risk of heart disease than whites.
6. I think the point to make on that study -- and remember, the last 24 years of football players were not studied -- is that it's probably grossly unfair to draw conclusions on retired players' health based on anecdotal evidence.
What I found looking into the post-career health of the 1986 Cincinnati Bengals roster was that it's dangerous to draw any conclusions; for every player with a bad post-football history (depressed safety Bobby Kemp killed himself, longtime linebacker Reggie Williams had a litany of serious injuries that are not going away), there were six to eight in fine condition, mentally and physically. That isn't to say that retired players are in great shape. But there are scores we never hear about who appear to be in better shape than their peers in the general population. I spoke with many of those on the Bengals last fall.
7. I think Chris Polian was a good hire by the Falcons after his career ended ugly in Indianapolis. He'll be supremely motivated to show Thomas Dimitroff he's a good scout, which I believe he is, and not just in the job because his father gave him a big job.
8. I think players like Stacy Robinson, who died of cancer Tuesday at 50, sometimes get lost because they weren't great players; Robinson caught 48 passes in six seasons as a New York Giant and won two Super Bowl rings with the team a generation ago.
I covered four of Robinson's six years as a beat writer. He was the burner the Giants drafted in the second round of the 1985 draft from North Dakota State, and even though he never became the great receiver the Giants might have hoped he would (would any receiver have starred in that offense?), I remember him as one of the best team players in that locker room, an intelligent player who understood his place in the offense and never chafed at being forgotten in game plan after game plan.
Phil Simms went to him three times for 62 yards in the Super Bowl win over Denver in January 1987. Game after game I recall sidling up to him to ask him about why successful plays unfolded the way they did, or why things didn't work, and he was unfailingly polite and helpful, with a deep knowledge of the game he cared so much about.
After his career ended, he worked with the players union to help smooth the path of players in post-career life -- he'd be a vital cog today in the wake of the Junior Seau death -- and when I ran into him he always talked about ways to improve transition from the field to life after football. What a good man Stacy Robinson was.
9. I think I like the hire by NFL.com (and all its platforms, including NFL Network) of veteran NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah, who is one of my favorite Twitter follows because of his shrewd and smart analysis. Not that it's rocket science to say this, which Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks on Twitter) did the other day, but it's smart, and true. "The bar is set much lower for Luck & IND than it is for RG3 & WAS ... 6 wins would be huge for IND & brutal for WAS.''
Good luck to him.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. RIP, Lovie Young, the wife of the late Giants GM George Young. She died Thursday. A tremendous human being who had so many non-football causes in life, and realized as much as any wife of a football man I have known that football's a game, and the sun comes up tomorrow, no matter who wins.
b. I taped some segments of the USA Network show "Necessary Roughness'' the other day in Stamford, Conn. And no, I did not quit my day job. I play myself, working for NBC, reporting on the New York Hawks around the time of the league draft. Real TV's harder. Real TV is when the script isn't written for you.
c. I'm not saying Julia Louis-Dreyfus is better as the vice president of the United States in "Veep" than she was as Elaine Benes in "Seinfeld," but it's not as far away as you think.
d. Devils-Rangers, for a lot of marbles. Palms are already sweaty.
e. Love the fact that the NHL comes down to the new Southwest (Phoenix versus L.A.) against the old Northeast (New York-New Jersey). Put me down for the Kings and Devils. Meet the new boss (Quick) ... same as the old boss (Brodeur).
f. Imagine, hockey fans, if Washington's Joel Ward doesn't take the needless four-minute high-sticking penalty in Game 5. That's a penalty that can haunt a player, and a franchise, for a long time.
g. How great is the postgame Game 7 handshake line in hockey? Ovechkin and Lundqvist. Classic.
h. Why the NHL playoffs rock ... Margins of victory in the Rangers' 14 playoff games thus far: 2, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, and 1 goal.
i. I've seen some weird scheduling in my time, but how about this one on the MLB slate: The Twins and Angels played three series this season. All three were finished by May 9. So by the 32nd game of the Angels' season, they'd played nine against the Twins -- and were finished for the year against them. Meanwhile, the Angels, who are due to play Seattle 19 times in 2012, haven't played the Mariners yet, and won't until Game 46.
j. Celtics seem like they're being held together by baling wire.
k. But I hope the passionate Kevin Garnett plays until he's 63.
l. I would pay to see Rajon Rondo and four high school kids play. Still can't believe Danny Ainge was thinking about trading him. Excellent question from David Aldridge on the court after the Celtics' Game 1 win Saturday night, about how the grind of the playoffs may wear down an older team like Boston. "We'll be fine,'' Rondo said. "Look at us,'' and he walked away.
m. Would the Sixers win one game in the Eastern finals against Miami?
n. Did any balloon ever deflate faster than Linsanity?
o. First reaction to stories of LeBron James winning his third MVP: I know the MVP's an important award in every sport, and congrats to James for winning a third. But until he wins a title, I'm not saying his MVPs are meaningless awards, but since Magic and Bird and later Jordan, NBA megastars are measured by titles, not MVPs.
p. See Josh Hamilton's moonshot home run Saturday off C.J. Wilson? Looked like it traveled higher than farther.
q. Barry Bonds' 18th home run in the record 73-homer season of 2001: May 19. Mark McGwire's 18th home run in the previous record 70-homer season of 1998: May 19. Roger Maris' 18th home in the previous record 61-homer season of 1961: June 9. Hamilton's 18th home run in 2012: May 12.
r. The Red Sox put waaaaay too much emphasis on this sellout streak (up to 729 straight games) at Fenway. It's not worth it. And the scads of empty seats lets you know that, even if they get people to buy enough tickets and give away enough others to declare a sellout, it looks like a phony record if the tickets aren't actually used.
s. It's obvious no one in the Red Sox organization has the stones to stand up to Josh Beckett. I covered the Giants for four years in the '80s, and I saw coaches stand up to Lawrence Taylor. Insane that no one can say to Beckett: If you're skipped in the rotation because of a sore back, you don't go golfing. And if you do, be man enough to say you might have erred. But the real problem is that Beckett has always been the golden child with that team, and too many people in the organization are afraid of him. Sad.
t. Love the nickname given Dustin Pedroia by the Globe's Pete Abraham: Scrappy McScraperson.
u. Coffeenerdness: I've tried it more than a few times, and I try to be fair, and I know it engenders deep passions, especially in the Northeast. But Dunkin' Donuts coffee just isn't dark enough for me. It's not bad, but it's an any-port-in-the-storm coffee for me.
v. Beernerdness: Cool pregame at Fenway Friday night with buddies Pete Thamel of the New York Times and Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe. Never ran into a Yard House brew pub before (there are 36 across the land, mostly out West), but I'll be there again ... 144 beers on tap. I started with Cisco Grey Lady (Nantucket), a white ale slightly less flavorful than Allagash White but easy to drink, and light. Two: Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale (Kona, Hawaii), my favorite of the night. Heavy malt flavor, and just bitter enough. Three: Sea Dog Bluepaw Wild Blueberry (Camden, Maine). Vague blueberry flavor, and I'm not sure if that's from the four fresh blueberries they put in the glass or from the beer itself. Pleasant enough, but not memorable.
w. Favorite newspaper story of the week: The New York Times on an amazing 11-year-old boulder climber from Manhattan, Ashima Shiraishi. Watch the accompanying video. The kid's an inspiration.
x. Not a big fan of the Time cover, as I said on Twitter. Big fan of breast-feeding. In private.
y. Happy Mother's Monday to moms everywhere. Hope you had a great day Sunday.
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Pro Football Now: Thursday December 12, 2013