At NBC last Sunday, a bunch of the Football Night in America on- and off-air people were watching the early action in the network's viewing room with nine games on one huge wall of TVs. Adrian Peterson was putting on a show for the ages. But here was Buffalo-Cincinnati, a mildly interesting game, getting really good in the second half. And here was Marshawn Lynch running wild in the second half. As Lynch ran for a long touchdown, Jerome Bettis piped up, "Peter, there's your guy!'' Which brings me to the No. 1 point in my fantasy items of the week:
You have flooded my email box with Randy Moss thoughts, from every angle. Even one of my fellow Hall of Fame voters, Frank Cooney, who lives in the Bay Area and runs a draft and scouting site called NFLDraftScout.com, had some good thoughts, which I'll share later.
"I've got to be the Godfather today," Lions president Matt Millen said last Saturday morning, sitting in the living room of his town house in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn. He sounded full of hope and anticipation. In an hour Millen, a man who badly needed a good day, expected to be fielding calls from three or four clubs and hoped -- in a role reversal for Don Corleone -- that someone would make him an offer he couldn't refuse in exchange for the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft.
• Cleveland Browns -- The steep price they paid is no small compensation, but in landing both Joe Thomas and Brady Quinn, the Browns came away with a potential franchise left offensive tackle and a franchise quarterback in the span of 20 picks. It's a move that could determine the fate of this franchise for a long time to come.
DETROIT -- No wordsmith, this Calvin Johnson. Sounding like he just woke up -- either that or he's really ticked off to be a Lion -- he told the Michigan press this afternoon he's through with the wacky weed, but he didn't say a whole lot more.
DETROIT -- Steve Young is a guy I have tremendous respect for, as a player and a person. But he said something on ESPN last night that I've got to take issue with. He thought the Raiders should take Calvin Johnson with the first pick today, because, in his words: "He's the guy who can take you to the promised land.''
ASHBURN, Va. -- Air Snyder made one last pre-draft trip Thursday. A contingent of Washington Redskins coaches and officials, led by owner Daniel Snyder and coach Joe Gibbs, flew to Columbus to examine the physical and mental condition of wideout/kick-returner Ted Ginn Jr.
In our seventh and final mock draft of the first round, we're getting bold, predicting a trade between No. 8 Atlanta and No. 2 Detroit for the rights to select Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson, and laying out a scenario in which Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson lasts all the way to No. 10 Houston.
Five days from now, you'll all get to open your holiday gifts. I agree with what ex-Giants GM Ernie Accorsi says in Tim Layden's upcoming Sports Illustrated piece about draftmania. According to Accorsi, the draft is now the second-biggest day on the NFL calendar, next to Super Sunday. And from what I'm hearing on talk shows, what I read on draft sites, what I'm running into everywhere I go, Accorsi's right.
It's time once again to sneak a peek at e-mails to and from sports figures. OK, these aren't actual intercepted messages; we're not running the NHL players union, people. But here's what we imagine that we're missing:
As the self-appointed, mythical general manager for all 32 NFL teams -- and someone drawing from a hypothetical talent pool deeper than Barry White's voice -- I expected that the picks I made last week in my third annual Ultimate Mock Draft would provoke some heartfelt dissent.
In Sports Illustrated this week, I write about Wisconsin tackle Joe Thomas (VIDEO), who will go high in the first round of the April 28 draft. I'm pretty high on the guy. Not sure how you can't be high on Thomas if you spend some time with him.
I've spent the last few days asking several NFL personnel people and scouts what kind of draft this is, and this is the conclusion I've drawn: This league is scared witless about the money it's about to pay this class of rookies, because there aren't enough first-round-caliber players who deserve it.
The month-long run of marathon meetings at 49ers headquarters had gotten more tedious than The English Patient, and the team's top executives craved a little spice. Then, as if a gift from the football gods, it arrived -- the videotape that turned a trio of rational men into smitten reality-show judges.
All draft talk, all the time. That's what I heard at the league meetings last week, that's what I get asked about on most every talk show I'm on, that's the subject of the story (featuring Wisconsin tackle Joe Thomas) I'm working on for SI right now and that's what I'm prepping for this week. Fitting that your e-mails are heavy, heavy, heavy on the draft. So on with your draft topics, and a few others.
It's one month to the April 28 draft, and good luck to anyone trying to figure out the first five picks. The men holding the top selections -- Raiders boss Al Davis and Lions general manager Matt Millen -- don't send out many smoke signals. "This is the kind of year where you pick third and you really don't know what's going to be there because you're not going to get any clues," Browns G.M. Phil Savage, sitting at No. 3, said on Sunday at the league meetings in Phoenix. Here's a look at what's going on in the minds of the decision makers with the prime choices.
ATLANTA -- Walk up to an NFL fan on the street, ask him who Tom Shaw is and be prepared for a shrug of the shoulders. Ask Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Reggie Bush about Shaw and the answer will be much different.
Conventional wisdom as it currently exists regarding the top of this year's NFL Draft took its first hit Thursday when the Detroit Lions agreed to a trade that will send cornerback Dre' Bly to Denver in exchange for running back Tatum Bell, offensive tackle George Foster and a fifth-round pick.
The 2007 NFL combine is in the books. More than 320 players came to Indianapolis, were measured, weighed and examined. All of them interviewed and most worked out for all 32 franchises. So who were the big winners, losers and surprises.
The biggest question NFL teams struggle with exiting the combine? How much these top prospects, 21-year-old kids, are going to be changed by money. JaMarcus Russell, from working-class Mobile, Ala., has never had the kind of money he's about to get. Ditto Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Joe Thomas.
With the 2007 edition of the NFL Combine now half over, it's time to take stock in the winners and losers so far. Many of the earliest draft picks from the offensive side of the ball have finished their workouts for scouts, while a few chose not to participate. Here are the early results.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Dwayne Jarrett doesn't want to hear about the inevitable Mike Williams comparisons. Joe Thomas moved quickly to distance himself from the specter of Robert Gallery. Troy Smith and Chris Leak have questioned why their lack of NFL prototypical height should have anything to do with their quarterbacking skill, and Brady Quinn seems genuinely puzzled as to why his most recent performance seems to be all anybody wants to focus on.