From Bicycle Bob
Hope you and your family are staying well.
For the mailbag, best sports books Rushmore, I hope "Instant Replay" is on there. I read that book as a kid, and was a Bears fan (because we lived in Illinois for a while) so I hated the Packers back in the 60's, but that was a great book.
Bicycle Bob —
Sadly I have not read "Instant Replay," but I will get on that ASAP. (Hey, we have some extra time on our hands.)
Which leads us to the bigger-picture question a week into this: How are you filling your time with no sports, no church, no youth sports or almost all general activities?
Personally, well, we're figuring it out together at the 5-at-10 Compound. I will say this, when the reports started to circle about the corona, I bought Madden 2020 for the xBox One, and the boy and I are getting reacquainted. There also have been nightly family "Jeopardy!" tournaments. It's easier when the weather is nice, but the importance of following the guidelines can't be overstated, especially right now.
Still, what are you guys and gals doing? Some DIY projects or some things in the yard? (Sadly, I believe the yard work honey-do from the Mrs. 5-at-10 is coming sooner rather than later.)
As for the Rushmore of best sports books, well, as UTCMoc offered, "Ball Four" from Jim Bunting is a surefire pick. So, too, is "Friday Night Lights" from Buzz Bissinger. Michael Lewis' "Moneyball" was/is amazing. My final pick is "Seabiscuit" from Laura Hillenbrand. And I can say without pause or hesitation having read all of those, if you are reading this, you obviously like some of part of sports. And if you have not read any of those books, count this as my highest recommendation for any of them.
Hey, it's not like you don't have the time. As for the rest of the week's Rushmores:
Rushmore of returns: "Return of the Jedi," Chris Davis' return in the Kick Six, "Point of No Return," and "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King."
Rushmore of Patrick: Patrick Swayze, Patrick Ewing, Dan Patrick and Patrick "Give me liberty of give me death" Henry.
Rushmore of great former players who became great GMs: Ozzie Newsome, Jerry West, Larry Bird (won executive of the year with the Pistons) and Steve Yzerman (explain it, Spy). Danny Ainge and Bob Watson and a couple of others were/are fantastic GMs, but their playing careers were not as impressive as these others. (Opposite end of the spectrum is led by Isiah Thomas and Magic Johnson, and even Michael Jordan, right?)
is there an athlete out there that you dislike so much that if they came to your team and won a championship, you almost wouldn't enjoy the experience? Example - Maybe a hardcore Dolphins fan if Brady ended up in Miami and won it all.
Thanks for your question, which came via Twitter. (You can follow me on Twitter @jgreesontfp and play along there, too.)
I had to give this one some thought, and let's go by sport both big picture and for me personally.
College sports: No way, every college sports fan I know would turn down a title. UT fans would be fine having an Alabama transfer leading the charge. Maybe UNC fans would not want Coach K on the bench, but if it meant getting back to Championship Monday, here's betting no one would bat an eye.
MLB: After 2004, I bet some Red Sox fans would not have wanted Jeter on their team even if it meant a title. But before 2004 in that mind-blowing title drought, if his nickname was about his hitting prowess rather than his murder instrument of choice, Red Sox Nation would have been fine with Jack the Ripper in the middle of the order.
NFL: This one seems like the one with the least amount of care for two reasons. One, fans care way, Way, WAY more about the name on the front of the shirts than the back. Two, the faces are covered by helmets and the bodies are so broken and battered that "the next guy up" mentality is not just a coach's philosophy, it's the fan view, too.
NBA: This one is the opposite of the NFL in terms of impact of stars. But it also has some of the "starved fan base" impact that baseball has. Think of it this way: Has there been a single player more hated since any of the Bad Boys Pistons by any one city other than LeBron James by Cleveland fans in the wake of his decision to take his talents to South Beach? I say no, and because he brought Cleveland a title, no one cared.
Thanks for listening to Press Row and for playing along to the silliness.
I read the 5@10 every day and find myself looking forward to it more now without sports than I did before.
Not sure if that's because I am bored or because I am puzzled about what you are going to write about in the days and weeks ahead.
Do you think the mailbag will be the easiest day of the week for you now?
Also, since I also miss the March Madness more than I thought, what is your Rushmore of NCAA tournament moments?
Thanks and thanks for your morning column.
Thanks for the kind words and for reading along.
And yes, as long as you big-brained readers keep sending along the questions, Fridays will take care of themselves.
Kind of hard to see who is going to win or lose the weekend come Monday, don't cha think?
I thought about a Rushmore of NCAA tournament moments this week, too. I think there are a couple that are absolutely no-doubters.
Jimmy V running around looking for someone to hug is there. The year before when MJ hit the shot, the lasting image I had from that classic title game was Georgetown coach John Thompson with his arm around senior Fred Brown, who had just inexplicably thrown the ball to UNC's James Worthy. The image of Thomas Hill, with his hands on his cheeks and the "Oh. My. Goodness." look on his face after Laettner's shot beat Kentucky is there for me, too.
From a slew of you guys
Who did the best/worst in NFL free agency?
If I had to give three As and three Fs, here's where I'd start:
Winner — the Cleveland Browns. They kept Kareem Hunt with a tag option, they added the best unrestricted tight end on the market in Austin Hooper and arguably the best tackle in Jack Conklin.
Loser — the Houston Texans. GM Bill O'Brien is crippling coach Head Coach Bill O'Brien's chances. Can anyone explain how the Texans can trade their best defensive player in Jadeveon Clowney and their best offensive player in DeAndre Hopkins and get less combined than what the Vikings got for Stefon Diggs? We'll wait.
Winner — the Tampa Bay Bucs front office. Wow, the Bucs just became cool, and no matter what they had to pay Tom Brady, that kind of buzz is invaluable. Did you see that the demand for season tickets is surging right now to the point that season ticket prices are up at least 15 percent? In this economy?
Loser — New England Patriots. Yes, they kept Bill Belichick, the architect of the greatest NFL dynasty ever. (And yes, Belichick likely will be more motivated than ever with the departure of you know who.) But the loss of your quarterback, the loss of two of your three best linebackers with Jamie Collins (to Detroit) and Kyle Van Oy (to Miami) on the move should hurt the defense that carried the Pats to the playoffs last year.
Winner — the San Francisco 49ers. They kept a majority of their roster intact, and dealt DeForest Buckner to Indy for the No. 13 pick in the 2020 draft. (Again, how Buckner brought a first-round pick — when the Colts then had to pay him $21 million per year — and Hopkins, who is easily a top-three WR, brought a washed-up running back and a second-rounder is inexplicable.) Moving Buckner allowed the 49ers to move cap space to re-sign some defensive pieces and put a lot of resources in George Kittle's extension. It also gives them a pick in a very rich WR draft to give Jimmy G a bonafide No. 1 wide out. Side note: John Lynch has been crushing it since being named the 49ers GM three years ago.
Loser — the Chicago Bears draft philosophy. The Bears had to give $30 million guaranteed to a 30-year-old pass rusher (Robert Quinn) and deal a draft pick for a back-up QB (Nick Foles) with a huge contract. The main reason? Because the Bears whiffed on first-round picks in 2017 (quarterback Mitchell Trubisky) and 2016 (Georgia outside linebacker Leonard Floyd).
From Georgia Nut
Do you think Todd Gurley would be a good fit with my Falcons?
Georgia Nut —
Great question, and it appears the Falcons believe Todd Gurley will be a good fit for the Falcons.
And you have to marvel at the collection of talent the Falcons have put together on offense.
If Gurley is 75-80 percent of his All-Pro level — and that is a big if, mind you — the Falcons putting out a skill-player group of Matt Ryan, Gurley, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Hayden Hurst (acquired from the Ravens in a trade) give Atlanta a QB1-RB1-WR1-WR-2-TE-1 set that does not have to apologize to any group in the league. (As Field Yates put out on Twitter, if Gurley earns the RB1 job, Falcons depth chart could very well have former first-rounders at 10 of the 11 starting spots on offense.)
But the turn of events for Gurley in the last three days offers some interesting conversations.
First, the Falcons' two big offseason moves this week were signing pass rusher Dante Fowler and adding a bargain-basement Todd Gurley. (Don't cha think that Gurley at this point is like seeing "Wedding Crashers" in the $3 DVD bin at the gas station? You take a flyer if the price is right because the reward is so much greater than the risk, especially when Gurley now becomes a co-starter with Ito Smith, for Pete Rozelle's sake.)
Those additions — both were top 10 picks in the 2015 draft when the Falcons whiffed at No. 8 on Vic Beasley, who did not have his contract renewed — address arguably the team's two biggest needs. (Finding a way to keep Keanu Neal healthy is a priority, too, but I don't know how you can do that in the offseason.)
It also brings to the conversation the long-term viability and wisdom about running backs, for the players and the teams.
For the teams, with the possible exceptions of Christian McCaffery or Saquon Barkley — two dudes that catch a ton of passes, too — is there a running back out there you can see getting a big-dollar deal after his rookie contract expires?
Gurley is a physical risk and dude is 25 years old. Yes, 25. He has 70 TDs and joins only Emmitt Smith as NFL players who reached the end zone 70 times before turning 26. That's lofty company.
But Gurley's stats — he has more than 5,400 career rushing yards and 7,500 yards from scrimmage in his five seasons and that math is pretty impressive — also convey his usage rate. The other first-round back in the 2015 draft was Melvin Gordon, who also is looking for a team to give him a deal.
So for the Rams and the Chargers who took Gurley and Gordon in the first round, would you rather have those five years or draft another guy and get a "running back by committee" guy like Duke Johnson, David Johnson or Tevin Coleman in round three or Jay Ajayi in round five?
To that point, did you know that no RB from the 2015 draft class is still with the team that drafted them?
As for the players, well, the truth is the NFL guys should want to be part of RB by committee, no? The lower usage rates give players a better chance to get that second or third deal. (Granted, Gurley got paid, but Gordon didn't, and here's betting that Tevin Coleman's two-year, $10 million deal to leave Atlanta for the 49ers will be every bit as much as Gordon will find.)
And bigger picture, if you are a young football player with a set of skills that translate to the next level, how long do you want to play running back, which used to be the glory spot, especially in youth football and high school?
Discuss. Thanks for the mailbag entries, and gang, stay smart and be safe.
Have a great weekend, friends.