1. When half of your four favorite pro teams are locked in playoff battles--each against the top seed in their respective Eastern Conferences--some part of you knows that heartbreak and disappointment are very realistic possibilities. I will save the analysis on the Caps and Wiz for other spots (or below in the comments), and instead simply suggest that I had a rough week. The Nats are making it easy to transition to full-time baseball viewing, but I straight up jonesin' for some Redskins action. Therein lies the biggest irony of my sports identity: relying on a team that has barely experienced playoff success over the last 15 years to help me recover from the exits of much more solid organizations from their respective playoff series.
2. I am so over this New England story. I simply don't care, beyond putting together a tongue-in-cheek Seth Meyers response, that is. The Patriots are awesome, and will continue to be awesome for a long time, most likely. Whatever penalty they end up ultimately having to pay, it will almost certainly do minimal damage to their chances of dominating in both the short term and the long term. In fact, my understanding is that the team would save more in salary cap space (about $1.8 million) than it would have to pay in a fine ($1 million.) There are owners in this league (one of them living in Potomac, MD) that would gladly sign up for this Groupon (pay $1 million in cash and get almost double the salary cap space).
3. Outside of going down when there is literally almost nothing else worth talking about, this story just isn't holding my attention. I have heard back from some readers that I think it is okay for "well off" parties to be penalized because the penalties aren't likely to significantly handcuff them. This is ludicrous, but in response, how about this: The loss of a first-round pick is huge and has a lasting effect. The loss of Tom Brady for any on-field time is significant. Despite this, neither I nor Vegas feels that the Patriots are in any danger of losing their edge. I have not determined any reason why I would doubt Ted Wells or the independent nature of his investigation. I understand that Robert Kraft is in the tank for his guys, and I have no problem with that, but he should know that there isn't enough cheese in New England to go with all that whine.
4. Last, but not least (on a story that I have already suggested I don't care about...I know), past history ABSOLUTELY matters when the NFL doles out punishments. Like it or not, Patriots fans, your team has been busted for bending (or breaking) the rules in the not-so-distant past. Well-respected coaches and players are OPENLY referencing what appears to be somewhat commonly-held beliefs that there is more than just a little smoke here. You can call it "hating" all you want, but at some point, it might be wiser to shut up, take your medicine and move on. This comes from a fan of a team that has been penalized by the league for something that I still think was a total crock of shit, and I STILL can't wash the medicine taste from my mouth...and my team isn't HALF the team that your team has been over the last decade. By all means, fight injustice. By all means, rebel against the powers that try to keep you down. Just please don't act like there is some kind of conspiracy against the New England Patriots. If there is, then would someone PLEASE START A CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE REDSKINS? Maybe that is all we're missing.
5. Now that we know La'el Collins would likely NOT have gone back into the draft (per Peter King) if some team drafted him beyond the third round, I feel like we really missed out. Just when you thought that agents were no longer able to dictate things on draft day the way Drew Rosenhaus was so expert at doing, this guy comes along and absolutely knocks it out of the park for his client. I can't help but imagine a right side consisting of Scherff and Collins. Okay...I'm done. He's a Cowboy. Move on.
6. As we move through the slower days of the NFL calendar, I hop around from idea to idea, always considering some possible way for an otherwise ordinary player or coach to turn into a rock star overnight. This week, I seem to be spending a lot of time and energy pondering the bright future of Ryan Grant. We have a very decent group of receivers, and Grant is by no means at the top of the heap, but something about him makes me think he will rise this season. Maybe it is due to injury. Maybe it is due to a surprise cut or trade. I just see him as a player who has his best days of football ahead of him, and I feel strongly that Jay Gruden will work to ensure those days are played here in D.C. and not elsewhere.