It's been an odd week. I've been bronchially ill for much of it, napping and coughing and going to bed at 8. I planned to have this week's column be a year-in-review job, what with management and players in silent mode before the federal mediator in Washington over the weekend.
Twenty-five years have passed, yet when his memories uproot him from his perfectly pleasant existence as a Phoenix-based salesman and send him back to a darker, windier, colder place, Bruce Mathison still feels the chill.
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on the 32 NFL training camps across the country. Here's what Jim Trotter had to say about the Chargers' camp in San Diego. For an archive of all the camp postcards, click here.
General managers, coaches and fantasy footballers rank 1-2-3 (though not necessarily in that order) as talent evaluators for quarterbacks and running backs. And they need to be good at it because jobs and bragging rights are at stake when it comes to those positions.
LOS ANGELES -- Early Monday evening, two hours before his annual bowling tournament was set to begin at Lucky Strike Lanes in Hollywood, Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman approached a clerk and requested that one lane be opened. "I've got to practice," he said.
After watching the Bears' offense transform into one of the league's most explosive units, league observers are effusive in their praise of Kyle Orton. The fourth-year pro has been outstanding during the first half of the season, and his stellar play has ignited what was expected to be a pedestrian offense.
With no football to play for the first time in 18 years, former pro Ross Tucker is passing the time reading about his favorite sport. What follows are a few links to NFL-related articles he found and his take on them.
Can Chad Pennington lead the Dolphins back to respectability? That's what league observers are asking after watching the former Jets quarterback put together impressive back-to-back performances in the preseason. Pennington, the NFL's career leader in completion percentage (65.6) for quarterbacks with more than 1,500 attempts, has completed 16-of-21 attempts for 149 yards with one touchdown in two starts with the Dolphins and led the team to four scores in seven drives under his guidance.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There would be no calm before the Super Bowl storm this year. The week leading up to the game was a constant whirlwind of celebrities and athletes walking red carpets, shouting across open bars and huddling around countless heat lamps and fire pits as temperatures dipped below 30 degrees in the desert. Despite the unusually frigid temperatures when the set went down, the stage was set for arguably one of the wildest Super Bowl party weeks ever and SI.com's Arash Markazi was once again on the scene to provide a report on every super soiree.
During a radio interview Tuesday morning, someone asked me if the debate about New England's Spygate episode was over now that the Patriots and Jets have had their much-anticipated but largely anti-climatic Week 15 rematch?
Since this column already shows signs of flagging, I'll get right to our E-mailer of the Week, and we have established a record for shortest Q and shortest A en route to this award. The following comes from Bill Ince of Clearwater, Fla.
1. Brad Daugherty, ESPN Nascar analyst: While John "Hot Rod" Williams clearly owns the better name for a racing analyst (at least among former Cavalier big men), Daugherty is the broadcaster to watch when the green flag drops on ESPN's live coverage next month. By virtue of his assignment, he becomes the most visible African-American media member in the sport's history. When SI interviewed him last month for a Q&A, he stated his desire to bring more people of color to racing. "I don't know any other way to have an impact on the sport other than getting out and being a voice, and speaking to some of the issues that are there," said Daugherty, a former Craftsman Truck Series team owner. "I'd like to open some eyes. Will it happen? I don't know. Am I going to try to make it happen? Heck, yeah. Without a question."
NEW ORLEANS -- Football etiquette. What is it? I really don't know anymore. Is it simple joy to imitate another player's sack dance, or is it shoving it in the sacker's face? Is it over-the-top to stomp on another team's logo after winning a game, as the Patriots did in San Diego on Sunday?
Call this the Crippled Quarterback round of the playoffs. Rex Grossman looks like he's never seen a blitz before. Peyton Manning is going through some kind of weird regression. Tom Brady still has the ability to pull games out of the fire, after his wildly inaccurate streaks have gotten the Patriots into the fire to begin with. Only Drew Brees seems serene and untroubled, which kind of describes The People's Choice of this tournament, the Saints. But ssshhh, New Orleans has a glaring weakness people won't discuss. Well, I'll discuss it, and pretty soon, as a matter of fact. Here comes a look back and a look ahead: