Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports

Thinking out loud: NFL combine is overrated

John Rooke
March 01, 2019 - 6:10 pm

Thinking out loud…while contemplating the health benefits of my not-often-enough alcoholic consumption practices…

  • So, the newest, latest study out on our health says that more than five beers or drinks per week can take up to 15 minutes off your life – per drink.  But I’m good with five all at once, right?

 

  • Men in tights.  The Underwear Olympics.  The not-so-wonderful Wonderlic test.  You guys get juiced up for the NFL Combine?

 

  • I mean, I know as a team exec you probably need to attend this week’s meat market in Indianapolis, and maybe someone (or two) runs an unbelievable 40 or jumps 8-feet high. 

 

  • All I want to know is, can they tackle – or, can they run away from, or out of a tackle in pads?

 

  • Heard what I thought was a fairly accurate take on the Robert Kraft-saga this week from FS1’s Jason Whitlock, appearing on Mut and Callahan, who believes all Mr. Kraft needs is an intervention from family and friends at this point in his life.

 

  • Maybe a little less running around with Meek Mill and being a little meeker within the mill.  Know what I’m saying?

 

  • In the meantime, haters still gonna hate.  But since when do Patriots fans let that bother them?  Since never?

 

  • Take away their draft picks?  Force Mr. Kraft to sell the team?  Seriously, anyone who really believes these things needs to have their own drug testing performed.  On themselves. 

 

  • Or, they need to be busted for buying that reefer on the street, and then publicly ridiculed for having ties with Mexican drug cartels. 

 

  • Nevertheless, expect the NFL to come down hard on Mr. Kraft.  A suspension and hefty fine will undoubtedly come his way, regardless of his innocence or guilt in last week’s prostitution sting. 

 

  • But make no mistake, if he’s innocent as he claims – despite what you think you know – it’s because the law is on his side.  Not because he’s a privileged NFL owner or anything else.  It’s why last week we said here…it’s best to let this play out. 

 

  • Legal folks smarter than I say there’s plenty of reason to believe Mr. Kraft has a strong case to back his not-guilty plea, based on the probable evidence.  Anyone else smelling a set-up?

 

  • The banner-raising at Gillette next fall, whenever it comes, could be a little awkward without the owner present.  The NFL isn’t held to the letter of the law.  I’m sure the marketing department is already hard at work on solving this problem.

 

  • Twelve.  Count ‘em.  Twelve draft picks in this year’s NFL Draft for the Patriots.  That’s some serious cache and puts Trader Bill right in his wheelhouse.

 

  • Over/under on number of picks selected?  I’ll take seven-and-a-half.  Although I’m not sure about making half-a-pick.

 

  • Could some of these picks be packaged for a move up and a shot at Heisman QB Kyler Murray?  Only if the Patriots are ok with drafting a Lilliputian – Murray measured 5-10 1/8” this week at the Combine.  Seattle’s Russell Wilson, for what it’s worth, is listed at 5-11.

 

  • Patriots’ offensive line coach/guru Dante Scarnecchia is a featured speaker at this years’ Big New England Football Clinic, held this weekend at the Newport Marriott, along with current Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown and new UMass head coach Walt Bell. 

 

  • Our mention here last week of high school football participation numbers heading downward in Massachusetts and Rhode Island brought to light this tidbit from the Huffington Post this week –8th Bristol County District state rep Paul Schmid is currently sponsoring a bill in the House to ban tackle football for all kids in 7th grade, and younger, in Massachusetts.

 

  • Before you decide on a call-to-arms, the bill would allow for these kids to play flag and touch football, and violations would impose fines of $2K or more per instance. 

 

  • Still, do we need the State House – the government – telling us as parents, what is good or not good for us or our kids?  Just sayin’.

 

  • Some former NFL players, who have either been directly or indirectly affected by CTE, have come out against tackle football for younger kids.  Former Dallas Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo and New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees have been particularly outspoken in their opposition.

 

  • In the “in case you missed it” department, Brees did not play tackle football until he was in high school.  Didn’t appear to hurt him too much, did it? 

 

  • Looks like it’s curtains for Johnny Football, kicked out of the Canadian Football League for violating a contract agreement. 

 

  • Really, when you get kicked out of Canada, you are indeed a man without a country.  And without a football team.  And without a sport to play.  And a human without much of a head on his shoulders.

 

  • Must’ve been that fine, fine academic degree he earned from Texas A&M that made him what he is today.  Which is unemployable.  But thanks for those gridiron memories, Johnny!

 

  • Is that the AAF now lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce on his sudden availability?  A former Heisman winner (not yet) playing in the spring.  Whoa.  How far the once-mighty have fallen.

 

  • Jason Witten says the fire still burns, so he’s returning to the Cowboys for a 16th season at tight end.  For $5 million.  Your move, Rob Gronkowski.  Back for your 10th?

 

  • Not for nuthin,’ but while Witten is a good, knowledgeable guy, the Monday Night broadcasts on ESPN just improved, ever-so-slightly.  Still some work to do there, amiright? 

 

  • And Tony Romo?  Just say “no,” Tony.  Witten is back, so the thought must be rumbling around in his head about a return, too.  Umm, stay in the booth with Jim Nantz where you belong.  It’s safer.  Probably more lucrative, too.

 

  • Tweet of the Week I, from @timwelsh5 after Ed Cooley tied him this week for 3rd in all-time wins (160) at Providence: “Big congratulations to @CoachCooleyPC – great guy and coach. Keep it going.”

 

  • That was a gut-check win for the Friars at Butler this week.  There were several opportunities to fold down the stretch – and into overtime.  But each time, the team answered.  Will that true grit bode well into March?  Better late than never.

 

  • Part of the reason for the toughness has come from the improved play of sophomore center Nate Watson.  He’s becoming adept at either hand in the low post, and extra-tough to defend since most college post players only want to hang out on the perimeter these days.

 

  • Speaking of Nate, he’ll be a guest on This Week in the Big East, Episode 8 this weekend (#TWITBE) on 103.7 FM, on Sirius/XM, podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play as well as online at westwoodonesports.com and bigeast.com.  He’ll be joined by Big East commissioner Val Ackerman and Stadium college hoop insider Jeff Goodman.

 

  • Makai Ashton-Langford, too, is improving right before our eyes.  Biggest change – is in his decision-making on the floor.  He’s learning when to penetrate, look for his shot, and when to get the ball out.  Consequently, the Friars are better when he plays better.

 

  • Feeling NIT-picky, anyone?

 

  • This is not meant to belittle the National Invitational Tournament.  But it would be an unexpected end to this season for Friar fans, Big East Tournament results notwithstanding.  If they can’t dance, the NIT becomes a chance to get started on next year, right away.

 

  • ICYMI, at least the NIT won’t be boring – there are four new rule changes for this year, as the NCAA experiments with potential new rules for the future: 1) Extending the 3-point line by 1-foot, 8 inches (matching the international distance); 2) widening the lane (matching the NBA width of 16-feet), ostensibly freeing up the post. 

 

  • 3) Re-setting the shot clock to 20 seconds after an offensive rebound, rather than 30; 4) Re-setting team fouls at the 10-minute mark of each half.  Teams will be allowed three fouls before shots on the 4th foul – and no one-and-one’s.  They’ll all be two-shot fouls.

 

  • Providence could use that rule right now – front ends of one-and-one’s have been an adventure this season, among the many.

 

  • Don’t look now, Big East fans, but Xavier is kicking serious tail, and it all started with that bruising, 2nd half debacle against PC. 

 

  • Tweet of the Week II, from @BillKoch25: “#URI was 18-32 from the field and 7-14 from 3 in the first half (vs. GW). That's as many field goals as they've made in five full games this season (3 of the last 4) and as many 3s as they've made in 21 full games (12 straight).”

 

  • So, who were those guys?  URI got the three-ball to fall against George Washington (47%) in an 80-53 clock-cleaning this week.  Defensive play led to more offensive opportunity, it seems.  Where have we heard this before?

 

  • Best wishes go out to Rhody assistant John Carroll, the one-time Celtics’ coach on the bench for the Rams with David Cox this season.  He’s been sidelined with an undisclosed illness – hope he can return soon.

 

  • Brown has a huge opportunity this weekend to do something only one Bears’ team has ever done before – and that’s get to 19 wins in a season.  The Bears got their first Ivy weekend sweep in five years last weekend and are presently tied for 4th in the Ivies (at 5-5, 17-9 overall) with Cornell, and two more weekends to play.

 

  • Top four Ivies reach the postseason tournament – something Brown has not yet accomplished, either.  Yup, big weekend at the Pizzitola Center against Columbia and Cornell.

 

  • Fist bump to Shea High School’s Erickson Bans this week, as he scored 57 points for the Raiders in the RIIL state basketball playoffs against crosstown Pawtucket-rival Tolman.  Old friend Don Coyne tweeted he believes it’s the highest scoring game in the state in more than 70 years, since John Blount once scored 66 for South Kingstown in 1947.

 

  • It has been a solid two-week stretch for PC’s 8th ranked Hockey Friars, winning games against UMass Lowell, UMass Amherst and against UConn this week to thrust themselves right back into the NCAA Tournament picture. 

 

  • A 1-1 tie against Boston University Thursday night also clinched home ice for the Friars in the quarterfinal round of the upcoming Hockey East tournament, starting March 15th. 

 

  • Three goals scored in a lightning-quick 1:28 Thursday night in the 3rd period for the Bruins, facing league heavyweight Tampa Bay. The 4-1 win snapped the Lightning’s 10-game win streak and gave the B’s their first full month without a regulation loss since November of 2011. 

 

  • Maybe if the Celtics aren’t as good as we thought, perhaps the Bruins are better than we hoped?

 

  • Not surprisingly, actual baseball has taken a backseat at Red Sox training camp in Fort Myers.  Blake Swihart’s younger brother, 23-year-old Romell Jordan, passed away unexpectedly.  Jordan had been taken in by Swihart’s family while in high school, and he ended up playing football at the University of New Mexico.

 

  • A tragic end, to say the least.  Games now have a bit of a different meaning this spring, don’t they?  Don’t forget to live your life, and enjoy it, along the way.

 

  • Here’s one for you – when Bryce Harper’s new 13-year, $330 million-dollar mega-deal with Philadelphia expires in 2031, Bobby Bonilla will still have FOUR years left (at $1.1 million annually) on his contract with the New York Mets.  Who was Bobby Bonilla again?

 

  • Tweet of the Week III, from @redsoxstats: “Celtics +/- starting with the Lakers game +39 Gordon Hayward +2 Jaylen Brown -10 Kyrie Irving -12 Al Horford -20 Jayson Tatum -33 Terry Rozier -68 Marcus Morris -74 Marcus Smart.”

 

  • I’m not into this hockey-plus/minus-mentality when it comes to rating players while they’re on the floor, but still – these numbers certainly say something, don’t they?

 

  • The thought that this Celtics team plays better without Kyrie Irving doesn’t sound quite as crazy now.  What’s worse – he’s not the only culprit.

 

  • Oh yeah, the New England Revolution kick off their season this weekend.  It’s only eight months long.  You probably won’t miss much. 

 

  • Not sure the team has changed it up over where they were a year ago, primarily on the defensive side.  And that’s where they needed a change the most. 

 

  • My buddy “Big E” sez he was having a conversation with his grandson not long ago when he asked, “grandpa, what’s sex?”  Naturally, “E” thought he was qualified to delicately explain what he thought a 6-year-old could reasonably handle.  Upon hearing his grandpa’s explanation, “Big E’s” grandson stared blankly back at him.  “I don’t know about all that, but grandma wanted me to tell you that dinner will be ready in a couple of secs.”

 

  • Regarding the previously mentioned news item above, about more than five pints of beer (or wine, whatever) per week taking time off your existence on this planet – I give you an alternative.  Leave it to my home state of Texas to “brew” a solution. 

 

  • Lone Star Brewing has been around for 135 years and has now developed “Lone Star 24/7.”  It’s a beer you can drink, conceivably, all day and night.  24 hours a day, seven days a week.

 

  • I kid you not.  The new beer weighs in at just 68 calories per 16 oz. serving, with an ABV of 2.1 percent.  A buzz may be hard to come by.  But, drink up – responsibly, of course.  And you’re welcome for the longer life prognosis.

 

  • Joe posted on Facebook this week, asking some NIT-picky questions: “What are the NIT selection tools used? Is it still revenue based on probable ticket sales? Will they be using the NET system?”

 

  • Joe – The selection tools will be based on the NET and schedule strength, and I’m sure potential revenue will always remain a part of the equation.  But a few years ago, the NIT gave automatic berths to conference champs who lost in their postseason tournaments.  Those are the first “invitations” issued.  Everything else comes after that, which makes the NIT tougher to get into than in previous years.  So, if you don’t want to be a high-major bumped from the NIT, root for NO upsets in conference tourneys.

 

  • Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to jrooke@weei.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...

 

Don’t forget to tune into Providence’s 103.7 FM, every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am for the newly re-named Cordischi and Coit!  Call in at 401-737-1287 or text at 37937.

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