Sunday, July 24, 2011
Updated: July 25, 11:47 AM ET
Yes! Knucklehead season almost over
By Gene Wojciechowski
What are you going to miss most about the four-month, owners-initiated NFL lockout?
Those always-exciting video clips of Roger Goodell, DeMaurice Smith and assorted lawyers walking out of buildings or down sidewalks?
NFL mouthpieces referring to the lockout as a "work stoppage"?
Detailed discussion of the $4 billion network TV insurance case?
I'm so happy this thing is almost over that I could almost pay full price for an NFL exhibition game.
Anyway, we're about to begin a week that will be crazier than anything that James Harrison has to say. This will be the Super Bowl of NFL transactions. And following that, actual football will actually be played.
Questions that must be asked:
|This man is absolutely done, right? Right!? |
Could the Philadelphia Eagles replace a No. 4 with another No. 4?
Kevin Kolb is Eagles history. We all know that. What we don't know is if there's any truth to a Philly radio report by Howard Eskin that the team might sign Brett Favre as a backup to Michael Vick.
I repeat: Vick and Favre on the same team.
The idea actually makes sense. Favre and Eagles coach Andy Reid go way back. Favre, 41, knows the West Coast offense so well that he could run it while clipping his toenails. Philly needs a veteran safety net. Vick is susceptible to injuries.
However it shakes out, I'm not convinced Favre wants to stay retired. Hello, Carolina? Seattle?
Can commissioner Roger Goodell and the players be BFFs again?
Sure, they can. And it will happen right after Tiki Barber and New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin appear together on "Dancing with the Stars."
Whatever credibility Goodell had with the players was compromised during the lockout and perhaps even before that, when the commish and his league office disciplined players for what they deemed illegal hits.
It also didn't help that Goodell, an employee of the owners, insisted that NFL fans were largely in favor of an 18-game regular season -- without providing evidence to support the pro-management claim.
|Could Carson Palmer play for San Francisco in 2012?|
Carson Palmer: Cincinnati Bengal or ex-Bengal-to-be?
Palmer has overcome a gruesome knee injury and a career-threatening elbow injury, Ochocinco and a dysfunctional franchise with enough arrestees to fill a dozen episodes of "Law & Order." Do you really think he's scared of Bengals owner Mike Brown?
I'll take Palmer in this game of franchise chicken. And he ends up in either Minnesota or Miami.
Harrison, who popped off in a recent Men's Journal story about Goodell, Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall and Roethlisberger, among others, has been backpedaling like he's dropping into zone coverage.
In the article, Harrison said Roethlisberger should "stop trying to act like Peyton Manning."
And Harrison should stop chugging entire vials of stupid pills.
Larry, meet Kevin Kolb. Kevin, meet Larry.
I now pronounce you a 12-touchdown combo.
And if it isn't Kolb (or Palmer or Denver's Kyle Orton or Matt Hasselbeck), then I now pronounce you screwed in 2012. That's when Fitzgerald becomes a free agent.
|For Larry Fitzgerald's sake, this man needs a home in Arizona.|
Which undrafted free agent should you want your team to sign first?
First of all, Mark Herzlich shouldn't have gone undrafted. But he did, so whoever ends up with the Boston College linebacker is not only getting a cancer survivor but a likely three-down guy. That's called value.
Which draft pick gets hurt most by the knucklehead owners' lockout?
The very first one, Cam Newton.
The Carolina Panthers' rookie quarterback has lost three months' worth of quality time with the team's coaching staff and training staff. There were no minicamps or OTAs for him, either.
Newton, who was issued a Panthers playbook shortly after the draft in April, has been working with former NFL quarterback Chris Weinke at the IMG Academy. That helps, but it can't take the place of those three lost months.
|Let the Jay Cutler Image Rehabilitation Tour begin!|
Are tickets available for the Jay Cutler Image Rehab Tour?
Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, the locker room statesman and voice of this team, threw Cutler a pair of floaties after the quarterback started sinking in the post-NFC Championship Game criticism. Active and former players around the league questioned the severity of Cutler's Grade II MCL knee injury suffered in the game, but worse yet, they questioned his heart.
Urlacher has his back -- for now -- but Cutler has some work to do with some NFL peers, Bears fans and perhaps even several teammates who remain skeptical of the QB's ability to lead a franchise.
Free-agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha will sign with
If owner Daniel Snyder is in his usual money-whipping mood, then it will be the Washington Redskins. And as usual, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will be in play for Asomugha, one of the game's great lockdown corners. The Eagles and Houston Texans had better be trying to sign him, too.
But my long-shot pick: the New York Jets.
|Plaxico Burress: Would Lovie Smith's Bears be a good fit for this ex-Giant?|
Free-agent wide receiver Plaxico Burress will sign with
Zero idea. But if I were the Bears, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the possibility of signing Burress on the cheap. Lovie Smith is legendary for protecting his players, so Burress would get all the in-house cover and support he needs.
Long-shot pick: St. Louis Rams.
Biggest casualty of knucklehead owners' lockout?
No "Hard Knocks" on HBO.
I'd rather watch "Hard Knocks" than the final season of "Entourage." My top three team choices would have been the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers or the Green Bay Packers.
Instead, we're stuck with "Dinner For Schmucks."
Biggest casualty runner-up?
The Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. This will be the first time since 1966 it hasn't been played.
It would be nice if the NFL cut the HOF a check to help cover some of the financial losses ($1.5 million of its operating budget comes from game-related revenue). Or better yet, how about exploring the possibility of moving a later preseason game to Canton?
Dear Geno: What should I do with my Reggie Bush jersey?
Keep it. If I'm the New Orleans Saints, I keep Bush, but get rid of his ridiculously high $11.8 million salary. If he's willing to take a pay cut, then Bush still creates "Saw VII" nightmares for defensive coordinators and special-teams coaches.
Dates to remember?
Week of July 25: Owners-initiated lockout ended.
Sept. 8: Night regular season begins.
It's about time.
Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at email@example.com. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here. And don't forget to follow him on Twitter @GenoEspn.
MORE COMMENTARY »