Our reporter spent the day at Cleveland Browns training camp in Berea, Ohio. Here are his notes.
> The Derek Anderson-Brady Quinn quarterback battle is nearing its second full week and a clear winner is beginning to emerge: every team who gets to play the Browns this year.
> Former Browns head coach Romeo Crennel is oddly still in his usual spot at training camp: asleep in a golf cart on the sidelines.
> First round draft pick Alex Mack is adjusting nicely to the size of the NFL ball when snapping it through his legs to the quarterback. Great pick.
> Braylon Edwards keeps trying to run a tip drill every time a ball is thrown his way.
> The scene from the final season of "The Sopranos" where they gawk in amazement at Eric Mangini is to that show what a scene in which Jon Hamm's character stares dumbstruck at the playing abilities of Bob Uecker would be to "Mad Men."
> Kellen Winslow is no longer on the team, but the Browns practice facility is still heavily mined. Use caution if you visit!
DRAFT: Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints Thomas broke out last year with 625 yards on just 129 carries. He also scored 9 rushing touchdowns and had another 3 TDs through the air on 31 receptions. Of course, Thomas will still have to split some carries with Reggie Bush again this year. But it looks like the Saints will continue to give Thomas the majority of the 4, 5 and 6-yard carries while Bush continues to lock down the 2 and 3-yard gains.
Our reporter spent the day at San Diego Chargers training camp in San Diego. Here are his notes.
> With the contracts of Philip Rivers, Shawne Merriman, Darren Sproles, Chris Chambers, Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill all set to expire after the season, there is a definite sense in Chargers camp that the window of opportunity is closing. Plus, the Broncos, Chiefs and Raiders can't possibly suck to this degree for much longer, right?
> The Chargers are motivated to change the perception that they are soft. As such, they have begun attending therapy sessions to talk about how that perception hurts them.
> Despite turning 30 and coming off the worst season of his career, LaDainian Tomlinson says he is better than ever. And if he can be only 10 times better than Shaun Alexander was under similar circumstances at age 30, the Chargers might have an adequate complimentary back in Tomlinson this year.
> This is a photo I took at camp of Darren Sproles -> . It is magnified to 200-percent of life-size.
> You know how as a reporter you are supposed to be all impartial and everything? Well, despite all that it took the entirety of my will to stop myself from walking up and kicking Philip Rivers in the nuts.
> They are apparently still letting Norv Turner coach this talented team. Really.
The Buffalo Bills have adopted the no-huddle offense in training camp thanks to the influence of offensive coordinator and noted existentialist Turk Schonert.
"We reject the structure and necessity of a huddle. We will not be defined by it," said Schonert. "We believe in nothingness. We have stripped ourselves of the huddle and we are free. Also, we think the no-huddle will allow us to dictate the pace of the game and put up some points."
Schonert, a former quarterback at Stanford, studied existential thinkers in a philosophy class at the university and says it has impacted his play-calling throughout his career as a coach.
"I have always identified with existentialism," he said. "But there is such an established structure in football, we are so defined by the huddle, that I could never break free of those limitations."
But then something spurred him to take that leap.
"I had to coach JP Losman," he said. "If that doesn't lead you to question the point of a huddle, to question the meaning of life as a whole, there is something wrong."
Head coach Dick Jauron doesn't care about Schonert's philosophical approach to football and life, he just wants to win games.
"I don't know the first thing about exit-whatever Turk talks about," he said. "It all sounds pretty fay to me. I just want to win. I need to win or I'll lose my job. Turk tells me that makes me a utili-something."
But while Schonert espouses the no-huddle, others are not so sure.
"As the German philosopher Herbert Marcuse said, existentialism projects anxiety and meaningless into all aspects of life," said new Bills receiver Terrell Owens. "And Marcuse's criticism was apt. We will be full of anxiety without the huddle, without talking through the play. And I fear this approach will only make Bills football more meaningless. I already didn't really want to play here."
Fantasy football team names have grown stale. Again.
This happens every few years. When fantasy sports first went mainstream, team names were pretty generic. You'd use your name and get something like Jim's All-Stars. Or you'd combine your hometown with your favorite team: The Bridgeport Cowboys.
Once that got old, everyone tried funny. Andy Reid's Love Handles. Ray-Ray's Dance Brigade. Some were funny. Most weren't.
Then funny quickly segued into attempts at being offensive. And that's where we are today. So this season you'll have teams in your league with names like Big Ben's Broken TV and Donte Stallworth's Roadkill. But here's the thing about offensive: it gets tired fast. I mean, when I was 11-years-old and another kid would use the F-word, it would wow me. Now? Not so much.
But where does that leave us? We still need to name our fantasy teams.
It's time for something new. It's time for fantasy team naming to evolve again. It's time we come up with names that will really rattle the other team owners in your league.
As offensive as Donte Stallworth's Roadkill may be, how is that helping you win your fantasy league? Unless Donte Stallworth is in your league and it's putting him off his game, it's not.
You need to rattle the other people in your league. Target the guy you think is your biggest threat to the title and think of a secret you know about him. Or something embarrassing. Then use it for your team name.
Chances are your 2009 fantasy football team will have a name something like this
Steve Has Halitosis
Ask Bob About His Pending Bankruptcy
Derek Has Low Sperm Count
Stop Asking Me To Swingers Parties, Jeff
Mrs. Thompson: Fat and Infertile
How's Your Gay Son, Will?
1 Ron + 2 Beers = 3 Hours Of Racism
Greg's Wife? Fingered Her In High School
Greg's Mom? Fingered Her In High School
Greg? Fingered Him In High School
No One Wants You In The League, Ray
AVOID: Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles While an elite fantasy running back when healthy, Westbrook has battled injuries throughout his career. Now at age 30, he suffered a high-ankle sprain at mini-camp and is coming off of arthroscopic knee surgery. Plus, the Eagles drafted Westbrook's eventual replacement: LeSean McCoy. So put a huge question mark beside Westbrook for this season. Because, obviously: his fantasy potential is questionable. But, also and you may not realize this the question mark (?) was created to look like it does to visually represent Brian Westbrook's broken legs.
Our reporter spent the day at Houston Texans training camp in Houston. Here are his notes.
> Some 500 fans waited outside the Texans facility yesterday after practice to get player autographs and ask the players if they had any inside hookups for Cowboys tickets.
> Matt Schaub has the starting quarterback job wrapped up, while Dan Orlovsky and Rex Grossman are battling for the third-string job. The backup job has been given to paperwork requesting a forfeit, which will be filed with the league office should Schaub get injured this season and be unable to play.
> Head coach Gary Kubiak is stressing defense in camp and has therefore switched to a hairspray that promises to keep it's hold in rain, wind and extreme humidity.
> Rick Perry, the Republican governor of Texas, has suggested the state could secede. Roger Goodell's wife, Jane Skinner, is an anchor on the Republican cheerleading Fox News. Is this all a plot for Goodell to expand the NFL into a new country?
> Sources say Reggie Bush broke up with Kim Kardashian because Texans defensive end Mario Williams has been doing her this whole time, only much, much better.
> Did you ever notice that the star eye on the Texans logo just makes it look like the steer is dead? Just saying probably not the best image for a franchise that has never made the playoffs.
Although the baseball playoff races are just starting to heat up and college football season is not set to kickoff for three more weeks and then the NFL regular season a week later, renowned country singer and perpetually impatient football fan Hank Williams, Jr. says he is already ready for some football.
“Are you ready for some football?!” Williams exclaimed. “A Monday night party?”
Williams, Jr.’s close friends and family say he is always ready for some football, but that the month leading up to the season is especially hard for the football-mad singer.
“During the season he can watch football almost every night, yet he still gets pretty excited for each game of football, as we all know too well,” says his wife, Deandra. “And once the season ends, he focuses on his music and accepts that he won’t be spending as much time with his rowdy friends. But by the time August rolls around, well … he wants to get it kick started.”
Williams says it’s time for football now, even if the calendar says otherwise.
“It’s time to get all the hits, the bangs and the blocks,” he said. “It’s the game of the week that’s comin’ your way.”
But while those close to Williams keep reminding him that meaningful football is still a good month from now, he says he reminds everyone he comes across that the sport will be back before we know it.
“So get ready,” he said. “I mean, get ready. Are you ready for some football?!”