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Sunday Papers

Some general NFL items for you this afternoon:

  • I hear a scraping, screeching sound in the distance, and you know what that means: We have a Terrell Owens item.

    The new Cowboys receiver tells reporters that Jason Rosenhaus, the "as told to" co-writer of Owens' new book T.O., was responsible for using the word "heroic" to describe Owens' performance against the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX. (Detroit Free Press)

    In other words, Owens is saying that his own autobiography misquoted him.

    That smacking sound you hear in the distance is me pounding my forehead on my desk.

  • Incidentally, we still don't have a new NFL Commissioner. Paul Tagliabue is scheduled to retire Aug. 18. The AP reports the search is trudging along, although it's expected the 32 NFL owners will elect a new chief by Aug. 9. Despite whimsical speculation that the job could go to a politician, such as Condoleeza Rice or Jeb Bush, experts now believe the spot will go to an NFL insider, such as:
    • Roger Goodell, NFL COO
    • Jeff Pash, NFL inside counsel
    • Rich McKay, general manager of the Atlanta Falcons
    • Dick Cass, president of the Baltimore Ravens

    The owners committee is said to be looking for a candidate to serve for as long as Tagliabue has, or even longer. Except for Cass, all the above-mentioned nominees are 50 years or younger. Pete Rozelle, far and away the commissioner most responsible for the success of the NFL, got the job in 1960 at age 33, serving until 1989. Since 1946, the NFL has had only three commissioners (not including Austin Gunsel, who was interim commish for one year between Bert Bell and Rozelle). It's probably the most secure job in the league, up there with head coach of the Steelers.

  • The "rogue economist" authors of the best-selling book Freakonomics suggest the NFL could learn something from the recent World Cup. I'll give you a second or two to chuckle.

    Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner suggest that, in addition to the Super Bowl, the NFL have its own "consolation game" between the two teams that lost their respective conference championship games:

    It could be held the Saturday afternoon before the Super Bowl, presumably in the same stadium. Imagine the N.F.L. held such a game this year. It would have matched the losers of the conference championship games, the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. Not the most exciting matchup imaginable--but, as with the World Cup, with a nation of TV fans having followed the teams through the regular season and playoffs, I'd imagine there would be plenty of interest. And plenty of money to be made for the N.F.L. and the many other people who have a piece of the football pie.

    You could surely object to this idea on the grounds that the Broncos and Panthers, having lost in the conference championships, just want to go home and couldn't work up the vigor to play another game. But hey: this is the league that sends its all-stars to a Pro Bowl after the season, in Hawaii, a game that absolutely nobody watches. And yet they still go, and they still play it.

    Intriguing idea, but I'd nix it, primarily because of the motivational factor. I can't see a coach inspiring his team by saying "C'mon, boys, let's go out there and win third place!"

    The reason players go to the Pro Bowl is because it's an honor, more or less bestowed on them independently of how the team finished that season. There's also the Hawaii factor. Have you tried the mahi mahi in Hawaii? And the snorkeling? You can't beat it.

    Super Bowl weekend is complicated enough without having two additional, downhearted teams on Media Day. They'd just be clutter. I feel that the Super Bowl is such a high holiday that it should be about absolutely nothing more than the teams, the fans, and the beer advertisers. Call me sentimental.