July 29, 2004
NFL "genius"
Bill Belichick:

Pats camp opens up today -- in nothing more glamorous than their home town, Foxboro. Secret to his team's success? Starts in training camp.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

So it's down to this: Either Randy Johnson will end up with the Yankees (who reportedly have nothing the Diamondbacks want) -- or he'll stay in Arizona.

He better get to New York, and there's a recently evolved theory that backs that up:

The Trade-Rumor Trade-Off

Here's how it works: Fans are willing to let rumor-mongering dominate our conversations, even overwhelm us; the truth is, we love it. Look at the way the A-Rod chatter spiced up MLB's winter; more recently, see the frenzy over Shaq.

These were their sports' best offseasons ever -- not just for the rumors, but because something actually happened.

In return for our time and interest, we expect a payoff -- that a trade actually goes through.

If the D-Backs keep the Big Unit, it is unsatisfying for everyone -- for the Yankees, for Johnson ... and especially for the fans (well, maybe not Red Sox fans).

All we ask for our trade rumors is that along with the heaping servings of rumor, we get a little trade.

NFL Camping: NFC
A Tale of Four QBs: The Sunset (Favre); the Question Mark (Brooks); the Competitors (Manning/Warner); the Punchline (49ers). Here's a rundown of today's NFC camp openings:

Giants (Albany, NY)
Big hype: Manning vs. Warner
Real story: Coughlin's mania

Packers (DePere, WI)
Big hype: Favre's swan song?
Real story: Uh, everyone else

Saints (Metairie, LA)
Big hype: Haslett's hot seat
Real story: N.O. one cares

49ers (Santa Clara, CA)
Big hype: That mess at QB
Real story: That mess at QB

Miss. State coach Sylvester Croom: Star of SEC media day
Troy Percival: Hits 300-save mark; equal to, say, 350 HR?
Mark Mulder: A's P earns MLB-best 14th W (with 5th CG)
Brian Urlacher: Hamstring injury on first camp day; yikes
Serbia/Montenegro hoops team: Peja won't play in Olympics
Marcus Vick transfer rumors: Not going to Ga. Southern
NFL Camping: AFC
And today's AFC camp starts:

Patriots (Foxboro, MA)
Big hype: Can they repeat?
Real story: Team attitude

Dolphins (Davie, FL)
Big hype: Replacing Ricky
Real story: Feeley vs. Fiedler

Jets (Hempstead, NY)
Big hype: Chad's health
Real story: Dee-fense!

Ravens (Westminster, MD)
Big hype: J. Lewis legal prob
Real story: Boller's maturity

Raiders (Napa, CA)
Big hype: Collins vs. Gannon
Real story: Rebuild process

Central Lines
NL Central: Fully on the St. Louis bandwagon, so it was easy to enjoy yesterday's wild 11-10 sweep-completer over the tanking Reds. With Cubs loss, the Cards are 11 (11!) games up. (Too early for a magic number?)

AL Central: In eerie similarity to last September, the Twins owned the White Sox this week, sweeping their series in Chicago and taking a 3.5-game lead. But the mental hurdle for Chicago is obviously higher.

QB Holdouts
Why do rookie QBs hold out? Given the complexities of the position, a few more dollars aren't worth the stunted development.

All four first-round QBs are still unsigned (though Eli is close). What happened to draft-day happy-to-be-here Phil Rivers? With vets Brees and Flutie eyeing him, he should get to work.

Meanwhile: Super-tackle (and No. 2 overall pick) Robert Gallery has a deal in place with the Raiders. Now, if they could only figure out which QB he's protecting ...

Mike Williams Watch
USC expects an eligibility decision in the next two weeks on their star WR, but I'm wondering why the NCAA is dawdling. Letting him back doesn't send the best message; however, the p.r. nightmare if they don't let him back in isn't worth the trouble.

Quickie readers know I'm all for sports innovations, but this proposal to make football players eligible to compete for *five* years is awful.
Today on ESPN.com
Page 2: Randy Johnson's whorish grab
IN: Blue Ribbon college football previews
P3: Rock life vs. Jock life
Breakout QBs
Byron Leftwich (JAX)
Everyone's bandwagon pick
Rex Grossman (CHI)
He's got a big arm
David Carr (HOU)
Quietly getting better
Joey Harrington (DET)
Expectations? HUGE
A.J. Feeley (MIA)
Once he displaces Fiedler

Clippers *should* match Q Richardson's offer sheet from Suns today (the deadline), but I hope they don't; he deserves better ...

Credit Neyer for tagging them early and sticking with it: The Padres are for real; they beat SF for 9th time in 12 games in '04 ...

The Yankees eyeing Fred McGriff for their Giambi-sized hole at 1B is interesting, but I like their scouting of Olerud even more ...

After all that drama over signing Sean Taylor, the Redskins first-rounder sprained his knee (as you just *knew* would happen) ...

Steve Beuerlein retired yesterday, so *don't* draft him for your fantasy team; not saying you were gonna, but just to be safe ...

If you'd really like to make your work day sail by, check out the 2004 Blue Ribbon college football preview-mania on Insider (Q It Up) ...

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