Posted on: October 6, 2011 12:29 pm
Posted by Josh Katzowitz
With the controversy surrounding the new Walter Payton biography, written by Jeff Pearlman, I got to thinking about the other books we need to read but that haven’t been written yet. I’m not talking about a season in the life book of the 2010 Packers or the latest words written by Mike Ditka (at least five authored or co-authored by the Bears coaching icon), but about subjects we don’t really know and on topics we would love to explore.
For this Top Ten List with a Twist, I’m discounting what a publisher might say if he/she was presented with some of these ideas (namely, the idea that blah, blah, blah won’t sell or that nobody has ever heard of blah, blah, blah). Some of these ideas, no doubt, would work, and maybe, one day, you’ll see one of them on the shelf of your nearest book store in the cart of your Amazon.com page.
Without further ado, here are the Top Ten books we absolutely deserve to read.
10. The inside story on the NFL lockout: Yeah, maybe many football fans wouldn’t care about a book like this, because they only wanted the work stoppage to end as soon as possible so they could continue to watch the game they love, but I bet it would be fascinating. What is the relationship between Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith really like? How were the compromises finally reached? Did Jerry Jones really tap his fists together and walk out of a negotiation session to make a point? For those who reported and analyzed the entire ordeal, it would be a mind-churning look from behind the curtain.
9. Bill Belichick end-of-career autobiography: Although he almost always comes off completely uninteresting during his midweek and postgame press conferences -- hell, he eats his lunch during teleconference calls with the media! -- the recent NFL Network documentary showed that he’s an interesting dude. The fact he got a little emotional during a trip to the Meadowlands was almost shocking, and I’ve seen interviews with him before that are really, really good. If he let down his guard, like during that documentary, his autobiography would be a fascinating study of the best coach in football. There have been big-name authors who have written big-name books about Belichick, but when his career is over, I want him reflecting on the impact he’s made and the reason he did it all the first place.
8. A biography on Tom Brady’s hair: We’ve already had the obituary for Brady’s shorn locks. Next, we should have a book that tells the tale of the entire two-year history of the hair that helped Brady land that lucrative Uggs endorsement.
7. Sid Gillman biography: Gillman is the most important coach you might not remember. Unlike Paul Brown (who has a stadium named after him and a legacy in Cincinnati) or Vince Lombardi (who you might have heard a little something about) or Woody Hayes (a decent-enough coach at Ohio State) -- all of whom were Gillman contemporaries -- Gillman has fallen through the cracks of history. And considering, he’s the father of the modern passing offense, that’s a shame.
6. Rob/Rex Ryan quote book: This could even be made into one of those peel-a-page-every-day calendars, like the Jeff Foxworthy redneck gags or the best of the old Far Side comic strips. But if you like to laugh (or just shake your head), this book would be a big seller. You could have Rex talking about not wanting to kiss Bill Belichick’s rings or Rob discussing how Calvin Johnson would be the Cowboys No. 3 receiver behind Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. See what I mean? It’d be high hilarity.
5. Bryant McKinnie in the Blind Side, part II: Since McKinnie was the one to replace Michael Oher as the Ravens left tackle, McKinnie should have his own Michael Lewis-penned biography. I’m pretty sure McKinnie didn’t live in foster homes and on the streets before he was adopted, like Oher, but McKinnie has had struggles with his weight and he did (allegedly) spend $100,000 on a bar tab this offseason. It’s not as heartwarming as the Oher book, but a tome about McKinnie would be pretty fun.
4. The early struggles of black players: You know all about Jackie Robinson in major league baseball, but if I asked you who the broke the color barrier in the NFL, you probably wouldn’t have any idea. Hell, I read a long article about the NFL’s integration the other day, and I couldn’t tell you the guy’s name*. But this is an important -- and somewhat complicated -- history. Black players participated in pro football at the turn of the 20th century, and they also were part of teams in various professional leagues until the NFL stopped signing them in the early 1930s. It would be an interesting look at an era that, just like much of society, was decidedly unfair for anybody who wasn’t white.
*After blacks were excluded from the league in 1933, Kenny Washington was the one to break the barrier in 1946, one year before Robinson did it in baseball.
3. A Cam Newton investigation: Don’t we deserve to know who Newton’s bag man is or if there was a bag man at all? Not that it would make any difference in his pro career, but don’t you want to know if Newton’s father really demanded $180,000 from Mississippi State for Newton’s service? Maybe Auburn fans wouldn’t, but I certainly would.
2. NFL Films biography: People underestimate the importance of Ed and Steve Sabol. Proof of that was that it took so long for Ed to earn his way into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But the NFL -- and the NFL fans -- owe them a huge debt of gratitude, because the way you watch football today might not be possible if NFL Films hadn’t been created on the backs of the Sabol’s in the 1960s. I want to know how it started, the obstacles they faced in the early years and the impact the company has made to this day. It’s a book the Sabol’s deserve to have written.
1. An investigation into the rise of CTE: There have been a few journalists (the Newark Star Ledger’s Jerry Izenberg and the New York Times’ Alan Schwarz are two who come to mind) who do fine work keeping watch on the NFL’s relationship and response to the rise of head injuries that continue to devastate retired players and keep us reminded about what a brutal game football is to those who play it for your enjoyment. But from the premature death of Steelers legend Mike Webster to the shock of what Chris Henry’s brain looked like during his autopsy, from the suicide of Dave Duerson to the continued work of those who track of the rise of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, this is a book that needs to be written. And the sooner, the better.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Tags: Austni Miles, Bill Belichick, Bryant McKinnie, Calvin Johnson, Cam Newton, Chris Henry, Dave Duerson, DeMaurice Smith, Dez Bryant, Ed Sabol, Jeff Pearlman, Jerry Jones, Josh Katzowitz, Kenny Washington, Michael Oher, Mike Webster, Paul Brown, Rex Ryan, Rob Ryan, Roger Goodell, Sid Gillman, Steve Sabol, Tom Brady, Top Ten, Vince Lombardi, Walter Payton
Posted on: December 17, 2010 6:12 pm
Donte Whitner doesn’t mind speaking publicly about his contract situation.
John Fox is approaching his final home game in Carolina.
Players continue to express concern about the outdoor venue for Monday night’s Bears-Vikings game.
It’s the one-year anniversary of Chris Henry’s death.
Tony Romo is engaged to the Ms. Missouri.
Vince Young showed up in the Titans locker room Friday. He didn't speak with Jeff Fisher, though.
Gerald McCoy’s biceps surgery went well.
Asante Samuel, DeSean Jackson and Winston Justice are all questionable for the Eagles-Giants game Sunday.
Rolando McClain will likely be out of the lineup for Oakland again this week.
Percy Harvin’s head is not aching this week.
Headline reads: Brian Urlacher wants to forget about the Patriots game. (Didn’t the entire Bears defense forget about the Patriots game last week?)
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow http://twitter.com/CBSSportsNFL">@cbssportsnfl > on Twitter and subscribe to our http://nfl-facts-and-rumors.blogs.c
s/22475988?tag=mccBlogView;comBlogIntro">RSS Feed .
Posted on: November 30, 2010 4:03 pm
Posted by Will Brinson
Got a link for the Hot Routes? Hit us up on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL).
Tags: Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Chris Chester, Chris Henry, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Kansas City Chiefs, Kurt Warner, Matt Cassel, Michael Oher, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, Roy Williams, San Francisco 49ers, Steve Johnson, Taj Smith, Tom Brady
Posted on: November 25, 2010 10:48 pm
Posted by Josh Katzowitz
If you watch one thing before you go to bed tonight – or if you already saw it on the NFL Today this afternoon and want to rewatch it again Friday morning – check out this amazingly bittersweet story on Chris Henry, Henry’s mother and the people (and their families) who were given the gift of Henry’s organs after he died.
Believe me, it’ll make the room real dusty.
It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly a year since Henry died after falling off the back of a moving pickup truck. Those of us who knew and covered Henry couldn’t have been shocked (he’d been in so much trouble that a death at an early age wasn’t an altogether unlikely scenario), but we were all saddened by the news. In the last year of his life, he had tried so hard to prove to his Bengals teammates and coaches, to Bengals fans, to himself that he was a changed man.
Here’s an excerpt of what I wrote after I heard the news:
RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico – It was the week after he broke his arm and a couple days after the Bengals placed him on Injured Reserve. We spotted Chris Henry, arm in a cast, in the locker room, and about four of us reporters walked over to his corner locker to see how things were going.
We asked fairly innocuous questions – did you know the arm was broken immediately; how frustrating is this injury when it comes at a time like this; do you want to be back in a Bengals uniform next year? Like usual, Henry was soft-spoken and pleasant. He wasn’t a great talker – you might have to combine two or three answers together to get a three-line quote for the story – but he was usually agreeable. For a pro athlete, much of the time, that’s all for which you can hope.
But then, just as we were wrapping up an interview that was probably 2 or 3 minutes long, one reporter asked something like this, “Eh, Chris, some people would say that since you’re not going to be around the team on a day-to-day basis, you might fall back into your old ways. What do you think?”
… The reporter’s question – some people are saying you might screw up again – caught Henry off guard.
“Who’s saying that?” he asked.
“Eh, uh, I guess I am,” the reporter said.
I don’t remember the answer Henry gave, but it was something along the lines of, “Don’t worry about me. I’ve changed. I’ll be just fine.”
That exchange from last month was the first thing I thought about when I saw online that Henry had fallen off the back of a pick-up truck during a domestic argument and was in bad shape. Then I thought: if he hadn’t suffered his broken arm, Henry would still be with the Bengals. He wouldn’t have been in Charlotte arguing with his fiancée. He wouldn’t have jumped onto the back of a pickup truck shirtless and the cast still on his healing arm. He wouldn’t have reportedly threatened suicide. He wouldn’t have fallen off. He wouldn’t have died.
Coach Marvin Lewis called Henry a “beacon of hope.” I’m not sure I agree with those exact words. But here’s what I believe – Henry finally realized he had to make changes and that he was trying to turn his life around. Trying really hard. He was trying to be the best father and the best domestic partner he could be. He made a bad decision during an argument with a loved one, and it cost him his life. The way he died doesn’t make him a bad man. The year leading up to his death showed who he truly was trying to become.
Sadly, we’ll never know the end result. And that’s a shame. He could have really had something to say.
Turns out his mother has something to say as well: enhance somebody else’s life. Be an organ donor.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .
Posted on: July 27, 2010 9:24 pm
Chris Crocker doesn’t sugarcoat his comments. If he has a problem with somebody and a reporter asks him about it, he’ll say whatever comes to mind. He’s a reporter’s dream, because he doesn’t use a filter to water down his opinions. You never have to go off the record with the Bengals free safety.
After reports surfaced that Terrell Owens and the Bengals had reached an agreement on a one-year contract that will pay him a $2 million base salary and could give him as much as $2 million in roster bonuses, I wanted to touch base with Crocker. I knew if Crocker was unsure about his newest teammate – be it because Owens has lost some of his elite play-making ability or because Owens still has a crappy reputation – he’d let it be known.
I’d already raised my confusion about why Cincinnati would sign Owens, but to Crocker, it was clear. And not only does Crocker not have a problem with Owens joining the squad, he’s really, really excited about it.
“I think it’s great,” Crocker said. “It just shows we’re trying to do everything, and it will add another piece to get us to the Super Bowl in Dallas in February. We have so many other guys on the team that have had question marks beside them as far as character is concerned, but our locker room is as strong as it gets. If T.O. is half of the player he was before he went to Buffalo, that’s going to be a great thing for us.”
The Bengals, as has been well documented, have become a paradise for players needing second and third chances. The term “Betty Ford Clinic for the NFL” has been bandied about quite often. Cedric Benson needed another chance. Chris Henry needed one. Larry Johnson needed one. Tank Johnson, Adam Jones, Matt Jones, Dezmon Briscoe, they all needed one. The list goes on to ridiculous lengths.
But in the past couple seasons, the questionable character signings haven’t affected the team chemistry.
“There’s one common goal, and there’s not one person or one man who can divide our locker room,” Crocker said. “That’s to get to the Super Bowl. There’s enough strong personalities and we have enough strong leadership that we won’t allow a bunch of dissension. As long as you’re a good person and willing to show you’ll do right, that’s all that matters.
“There are enough guys in the locker room where we police each other. Everybody has egos and strong personalities but we have guys who know how to take somebody to the side and talk to them about what’s going on. We don’t let things go. We handle issues in house and we take care of it and move on.”
I still wonder, though. How will the Bengals split touches between Ochocinco, Bryant, Owens, Benson, first-round pick TE Jermaine Gresham and everybody else on the roster?
“That’s a good problem to have,” said Dave Lapham, former Bengals OL and the team’s radio color commentator. “It’s going to have to be a case of unselfishness. You can’t double-team everybody. It’s kind of like pick your poison. It’s always better to have that problem than not have any weapons at all. But it’ll be interesting halfway through this season if T.O. is tracking low and not on track to make his incentives. Will he get in Carson’s face? That will be interesting to monitor."
Not everyone was so impressed with the Bengals signing. Browns CB Brandon McDonald wrote on his Twitter page in what only could be considered a classy status update: “TO to da Bengals huh??? Yessss, another piece of (fill in the blank here) fa da Browns secondary to run a train on...”
But if you discount the words of a player whose teams have gone 9-23 the past two years, it still seems like it’ll tough for everybody to get along, especially if Chad Ochocinco or Owens or Antonio Bryant aren’t getting the desired number of passes Carson Palmer throws their way.
“At the end of the day day, Carson controls who gets the ball,” Crocker said. “He’s going to throw the ball to whoever is open. He’s not going to play favorites. We don’t play favorites on this team. Chad is always open. From his standpoint, he’s always open and he’s always going to bitch if he doesn't get the ball. That’s what receivers do. But I know T.O. is going to come in and make plays. I’m excited, I really am. It’s going to be a hell of a year.”
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .
Posted on: July 26, 2010 2:59 pm
CINCINNATI – Bengals owner Mike Brown and Bengals coach Marvin Lewis haven’t always agreed when personnel issues arise.
Brown fancies himself a redeemer – which is why the Bengals always seem to bring in players of ill repute – while Lewis is constantly trying to keep a harmonious locker room with no single individual who feels he can run amok. The most infamous disagreement occurred in 2007 when Brown re-signed WR Chris Henry over Lewis’ public objections.
Today at the annual Bengals media preseason luncheon, Brown seemed excited about the possibility of adding Terrell Owens, saying he looked into Owens’ eyes when the two met earlier this year and came away convinced Owens could add to the team without taking anything away. Lewis, at least in months past, hasn’t seemed keen on the idea of bringing on another receiver that attempts to hijack all the attention of the locker room.
But perhaps QB Carson Palmer changed his coach’s perception last week when he worked out with Owens in California and called to give Lewis his positive report.
“Carson’s comments to me … let’s just say … they resonate well,” Lewis said. “I know when Carson has something on his mind when he calls me and I call him back from an unknown number and he answers. I know something serious was on his mind.”
The Bengals, it turns out, are serious about wanting to sign Owens – who also is attracting strong interest from the Rams.
“We’re talking with his representatives and with him,” Brown said. “When he was here, I met with him personally. Privately, he’s not the same as his public image is depicted. He’s a pleasant person. He’s a quiet person. I found him engaging. I do trust my own eyes on this sort of thing. If he chooses to come here, he could help our team. We’ll see how that plays out. It’s his decision.
“I judge him by what I see. There’s a lot of commentary about people who are in the public eye. Some of it is way overboard. Some it is because people don’t know the whole situation. Yes, people can make mistakes. It doesn’t mean they go on the rest of their lives making mistakes. They can get their ship pointed in the right direction. This is a 36-year old man. He’s been through a lot. He’s proven as a player.”
The Bengals, from a personnel stance, don’t really need to make this move. Owens wasn’t great in Buffalo last year – though, to be fair, Ryan Fitzpatrick was the one throwing passes his way – and the Bengals have plenty of depth in their receivers room.
Chad Ochocinco is No. 1 and free agent acquisition Antonio Bryant – who the Bengals signed instead of Owens – is the No. 2 receiver. At best, Owens would be the No. 3 threat, but it’s clear Andre Caldwell would try to stake his claim there. Plus, rookie Jordan Shipley, an inside receiver, was impressive in offseason workouts and is a lock to make the roster. Cincinnati also has youth at the position with third-year player Jerome Simpson and second-year player Quan Cosby fighting with Matt Jones for the final roster spots.
“Somebody is going to get stifled,” Lewis said. “There’s no way around that. It’s one of the difficulties of professional sports is that balance. What is the best thing for 2010 and long-range and trying to fit that balance together.”
So, why bring in Owens? Simple, Brown said. He’s still a good player.
“He changes field position,” Brown said. “He makes a lot of long plays, plays that win games. I’d rather have him line up on our side of the ball than the other side of the ball.”
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .
Posted on: June 29, 2010 3:37 pm
By now you’ve heard that the results of an examination on Chris Henry’s brain revealed brain damage. Specifically, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). What stands out is that Henry was never diagnosed with a concussion while with the West Virginia Mountaineers or Cincinnati Bengals. Thus, these findings could lay the groundwork for a shift in the way people – especially non-sports enthusiasts – view the violence of football.
The Cincinnati Enquirer details findings:
Omalu noted, however, that concussions are from being the only cause of brain trauma. It’s possible that Henry’s issues derived from outside of football. As the Enquirer writes,
The bigger question is whether CTE was a cause of Henry's problems in college and the NFL, where he was repeatedly arrested and suspended. Symptoms of CTE can include failure at personal and business relationships, use of drugs and alcohol, depression and suicide.
Posted on: June 28, 2010 1:31 pm
An interesting – and a disheartening – story here about the brain analysis of late Bengals WR Chris Henry. As detailed in this Peter Keating piece on ESPN.com , West Virginia University researchers showed Henry had traumatic injuries to his brain before he died last year.
Henry, only 26 years old who had a five-year career in the NFL, died last December when he fell (or jumped) off the back of a pick-up truck while in a verbal altercation with his fiancé. When researchers analyzed his brain, they found degenerative brain damage, also known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
From Keating’s article:
Researchers have now discovered CTE in the brains of more than 50 deceased former athletes, including more than a dozen NFL and college players, pro wrestler Chris Benoit and NHL player Reggie Fleming.
Repeated blows to the head are the only known cause of CTE, researchers say. Concussive hits can trigger a buildup of toxic tau protein within the brain, which in turn can create damaging tangles and threads in the neural fibers that connect brain tissue. Victims can lose control of their impulses, suffer depression and memory loss, and ultimately develop dementia.
Henry, who had been in trouble with the law on multiple occasions, seemed to have turned around his life before breaking his arm last season. The Bengals placed him on the Injured Reserve list, and that was the reason he was in Charlotte that day in December instead in the Cincinnati locker room.
CTE has affected many athletes – not just in football – and, according to the researchers, it might have impacted Henry’s emotional life.
"Superimposed on the acute brain injuries Chris suffered when he died, there was fairly extensive damage throughout his brain that was fully consistent with CTE,” said Julian Bailes, director of the Brain Injury Research Institute, which got permission from Henry’s mother to study Henry’s brain. “This syndrome is expressed not only as changes in the brain, but clinically, as behavioral changes. And starting with Mike Webster, we have seen common threads in these cases: emotional disturbances, depression, failed personal relationships and businesses, suicidal thoughts, sometimes alcohol or drug use."
Scary, scary stuff that, hopefully, will be addressed during the labor negotiations between the NFL Players Association and the owners.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.