When I woke up this morning, I knew I was going to lead the links with something on Andy Robustelli, the New York Giants legend who died Tuesday at the age of 85. So I immediately thought of Jerry Izenberg, the New Jersey newspaper legend with whom it was my great honor to work during the last decade at The Star-Ledger. As I expected, Jerry's Robustelli story is the one to read. It tells the story of how Robustelli's wife's pregnancy and the hard-headedness of Rams coach Sid Gillman made Robustelli a Giant and helped change the history of one of the league's signature franchises:
"It brought a new marching song to a storied franchise. Its cadence hung on the frosty air of November in the Bronx with a rolling thunder that chanted:
'Defense ... defense ... defense.'
On Mondays, in what then were the city’s sports restaurants like Shor’s and Manuche’s, the expense-account lunch crowds sat at their tables moving salt and pepper shakers around to re-create what their heroes had done up at Yankee Stadium 24 hours earlier.
And the name you most heard over those two martini lunches was Andy Robustelli ... the defensive captain ... the defensive leader and the fellow of whom the coach, Jim Lee Howell, would tell reporters:
'He’s our fireball. When he hollers they hear him no matter how loud the crowd because they are waiting for him to take charge.'"
Robustelli's is a classic football story -- that of an undersized defensive end whose skill, drive and work ethic elevated him to the level of a champion and a Hall of Famer. If you're into the history of the NFL and/or the Giants, read Jerry's piece, and think today about the loss of a link to some glory days.
It's been tougher than expected for the Jets and Giants to find a naming-rights sponsor for their new stadium, but a report indicates they're getting closer. I'm curious to see if this is the kind of thing that really could get done during a lockout. If it does, it sure won't help the owners' case.
Apparently, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee is taking the time to do a survey and figure out how many people have attended each of the informal workouts players on each team have been organizing. And according to this survey, the Cowboys apparently have had some of the best-attended workouts. Maybe they all wanted to make sure they got their Romo wedding invitations.
Cowboys.com looks at five players affected in some way by the lockout, including Dez Bryant (because he's coming off an injury) and Sean Lee (because he's playing a key position in a new defense).
Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News has interesting stuff this morning on new Eagles offensive line coach Howard Mudd, including a long personal profile that deals with Mudd's survival of motorcycle accidents ("It's a miracle he's here," wife Shirley says) and a shorter item on Mudd's plans to simplify things along the offensive line.
LeSean McCoy joined the Eagles player workouts Tuesday, and Mike Kafka, who hopes to be Michael Vick's backup QB this year, did the throwing. Vick has said he's working out on his own with a personal trainer and that he showed up when the receivers were all there but won't be at every session. I don't have anything funny or interesting to say about any of this, but you know...the Eagles are working out together, so there you go.
Kevin Barnes tells Mike Jones he'd like to be a starting cornerback if Carlos Rogers leaves via free agency. Thinking this is a bit like Kafka's situation, referenced above. We can't always get what we want. If it's not that Nnamdi guy, my guess is the Redskins bring in some veteran to play opposite DeAngelo Hall. Too many question marks back there otherwise.
If you were wondering about the viability of Rex Grossman as the Redskins' starting quarterback, Russ Lande of The Sporting News blows that to smithereens. Oh, Lande gets into detail, sure. But the headline says it all: "Grossman's toughness doesn't make up for a lack of talent." Sadly, it rarely does...
That's all for the links today, but I will mention one non-football thing, since many of you were talking about it on the blog Tuesday against my better judgment: I saw nothing last night to make me think the Mavericks have a shot to win a game in an NBA finals that, sadly, looks like it's been a foregone conclusion since last July.