Sunday at the Post

QUOTE/STORY OF THE WEEK…

“Our beloved Norman was brought to the hospital earlier today. He was unresponsive and resuscitation not successful. He passed away early this afternoon surrounded by his family. Respect for our family will be greatly appreciated as we mourn this incomprehensible loss. We ask that you focus on Norman's life and the contributions he made rather than on his untimely death.” — Norman Hand family

“He was one of the good guys in the business and a fun-loving person who enjoyed life. He was the centerpiece in the New Orleans Saints 2000 defense. Norman, along with La’Roi (Glover), Joe Johnson and Darren Howard, made up one of the better defensive lines to play the game. Norman has touched a lot of lives and will be missed.” — Former Saints coach Jim Haslett

“He was always just a fun guy, fun to be around. He always loved life. No matter where you were with him, in the locker room or what. To me, he always had that smile. I always enjoyed being around him.” — Saints defensive coordinator Rick Venturi

Sadly, former Saint, Charger, Seahawk and New York Giant defensive tackle Norman Hand passed away on Friday at the age of 37. Hand collapsed and was taken to a hospital before he was pronounced dead. His family was with him at the time of his death, and all of us at the National Football Post extend our sincere condolences to his family.

Hand was a big man who could dominate a game when he wanted to be dominating. He was a great run stuffer who could also push the pocket and deny the quarterback room to step up and throw. He was well liked by his teammates, and his death reminds us again how fragile life here on earth can be at times. RIP, Mr. Hand.

Child who survived Libyan air crash is stable

And please take a moment today to think of 9-year-old Ruben van Assouw, from the city of Tilburg, who was returning to the Netherlands from a South African safari with his 11-year-old brother and their parents before the plane crashed. He was the only survivor, losing his entire family.

The grandmother, An van de Sande, spoke to Brabants Dagblad, and a photograph on the paper’s website showed the boy in a hospital bed in Tripoli, the Libyan capital. She said Ruben would be taken back to the Netherlands as soon as he was able to travel.

THINGS I HEARD AROUND THE NFL LAST WEEK…

“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” — John Wooden

1. The Jets and cornerback Darrelle Revis are set to begin contract talks, and the word I’m hearing is that Revis and his agent, Neil Schwartz, are looking for an average that exceeds $20 million per year — which will make the contract rather hard to do. Schwartz and Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum don’t have the smoothest of relationships (that’s putting it mildly) as evidenced by the negotiation over Revis’ rookie contract. This will not be an easy contract to get done, especially anytime soon.

The Jets have several players waiting on new deals, from center Nick Mangold to offensive tackle D’Brickawshaw Ferguson. It will be a huge challenge for the Jets to get deals done for all their players, and don’t forget that quarterback Mark Sanchez signed a five-year deal last year. If he plays well, they’ll have to deal with a new deal for him in the next two years.

Winning makes doing contracts tougher. The “Disease of Me” is in play in New York. In case you forgot the meaning:

THE DISEASE OF ME

THE DISEASE OF ME = THE DEFEAT OF US

SIX DANGER SIGNALS OF THE DISEASE OF ME:

1. CHRONIC FEELINGS OF UNDER APPRECIATION – FOCUS ON ONESELF.
2. PARANOIA OVER BEING CHEATED OUT OF ONE’S RIGHTFUL SHARE.
3. LEADERSHIP VACUUM RESULTING FROM FORMATION OF CLIQUES AND RIVALRIES.
4. FEELINGS OF FRUSTRATION EVEN WHEN THE TEAM PERFORMS SUCCESSFULLY.
5. PERSONAL EFFORT MUSTERED SOLELY TO OUTSHINE ONE’S TEAMMATE.
6. RESENTMENT OF THE COMPETENCE OF ANOTHER – REFUSE TO ADMIT HIS CONTRIBUTION.

“The most difficult thing for individuals to do when they become part of a team is to sacrifice; it is much easier to be selfish.”

Coach Pat Riley
L.A. Lakers – N.Y. Knicks – Miami Heat

2. According to sources I’ve talked to in the NFL, former Raiders first-round pick JaMarcus Russell apparently is running out of options. Cincinnati isn’t interested, and several teams are exploring the possibility of Russell playing another position. Russell needs to be more proactive to get back in the NFL, and if that means turning to the CFL, he must explore that option. Waiting for his phone to ring from an NFL team is not going to happen.

3. Chargers pass rusher Shawne Merriman is going to have a tough time finding a new team if he doesn’t come down from his contract demands. Merriman is a player teams have some interest in, but making him the highest-paid pass rusher in the NFL is not going to happen. Merriman getting a new contract similar to DeMarcus Ware of the Cowboys, or Terrell Suggs of the Ravens, doesn’t appear to be available right now. The Chargers aren’t going to trade him unless they receive real value in the deal, because if he has a great season, they can franchise him or let him walk and take the compensatory pick.

4. Another contract that won’t be easy to get extended will be Vernon Davis of the 49ers — not because the 49ers aren’t willing to pay but because Davis wants to be paid above and beyond the tight end market. Tight ends are on the low side of the pay scale, so to get an extension, a player is going to want to create a new market, not work off the old one. This one will take some time.

5. I know Titans running back Chris Johnson is serious about his holdout, and I know Johnson deserves to get paid for what he has accomplished, but I also know that owner Bud Adams never seems fazed by holdouts. Johnson might want to rethink his strategy. Adams is strong in his beliefs, and there have been many players who have tried to test his resolve. All have come up short.

6. The market for former Cowboys left tackle Flozell Adams is very soft, as is the market for linebacker Adalius Thomas, formerly of the Patriots. Both are going to have to wait on an injury to get a deal that’s attractive because they’re not the same players they once were.

LEADERSHIP IMPROVEMENT IDEA…

“I never learn anything talking. I only learn things when I ask questions.” — Lou Holtz

From Penelope Trunk’s Blog:

About Penelope Trunk:

Penelope is the founder of three startups — most recently Brazen Careerist, a social network to help young people manage their careers. Her career advice appears in
more than 200 newspapers. In a review of this blog, Business Week called Penelope's writing “poetic.”

Now that I am committed to living on a farm which is sort of the anti-New York City, visiting New York City no longer brings up flashbacks to a really, really difficult lifestyle. Instead, New York fills my head with ideas.
The first one is a billboard I saw as soon as I got off the plane: “A good question is the new answer.”

That rings true to me. I have been writing about asking questions for a long time. It’s the best way to have a meaningful conversation and it’s the best way to rope in a mentor or look like a star performer. People spend more time thinking about answers than questions, but it’s the questions that make you look smart.

1. Good questions require creative thinking.

This has always been true, I think. Good questions are fundamentally creative. But today, when all facts are available to all people, it’s the questions that have become most important. To get to the answer, you have to ask the right question in a search bar. But also, to differentiate yourself in the workplace, you need to focus on questions, since answers are a commodity.

2. When you're lost, look for questions, not answers.

As my career shifts, I find that the key to keeping the shift moving in a productive way is to ask good questions. It’s ironic, because one of the most frequent questions I get from people is “what’s the best way to make a career change?”

And the answer is to ask much more insightful questions than that one. For example, I know I want to write about the farm, but I’m not sure how to do it. So I’ve been asking questions about how photos fit into blogs and what is the intersection of farming, family and business?

3. Think of your career path as a question path.

I am also spending time redecorating the farm house. Actually, to call it redecorating is a stretch, since the farmer moved in 20 years ago when the couple living there died, and did not do one single thing to redecorate. So the house is a time capsule from the 1940s when it was designed.

Anyway, I wouldn’t say redecorating is a career change, but maybe just a vocation vacation. Do you know that term? You try out a career for a few weeks? That’s what I’ve been doing.

And I realized that I’d only want to be an interior designer for my own house. But I like learning about interior design. And I am realizing that any career shift is about learning and exploring until you land in the right spot.

4. Asking good questions takes work – that you have to do yourself.

This struck me during my New York trip as well, because one of my best friends is Lisa Nielsen, who leads New York City Public School technology initiatives and writes a blog about education reform. She is a big advocate of me homeschooling my kids. She says that kids don’t need to learn subjects. Kids need to learn how to ask questions about things they are passionate about. And that’s no small task: First, you have to learn how to find your passions. Then you have to learn how to ask questions. Most adults can’t do either thing well, which is a good argument for taking kids out of school, I have to admit.

5. Field other peoples’ questions to get better at asking questions.

Finally, the last thing I did in New York is visit Seth Godin’s office, to interview him. You can watch the video here. But before you look, let me tell you that the biggest criticism of the interview is that my commentary about peoples’ questions was obnoxious.

ARTICLES YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THAT AREN’T WORTH MISSING…

“I have learned to regard fame as a will-o-the-wisp which, when caught, is not worth the possession; but to please a child is a sweet and lovely thing that warms one's heart and brings its own reward.” — L. Frank Baum

John Sikorra is living the dream at last

Jockey Calvin Borel is the star of the show at the Preakness

Diet and Exercise to the Extremes

STORIES TO SHARE….

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.” — Marie Curie

A young Marine restores my faith

Ann Baker, a real-estate agent who lives in Huntington Beach

It was our normal Thursday morning business meeting at our real-estate office. No big deal. Before the meeting, we hung around the bagel table, as usual, with our coffee. He stood aside, looking a little shy and awkward and very young, a new face in a room full of extroverted salespeople. An average looking guy, maybe 5 feet 8 inches. A clean-cut, sweet-faced kid. I went over to chat with him. Maybe he was a new salesman?

He said he was just back from Kabul, Afghanistan. A Marine. Our office (and a local school) had been supportive by sending letters to him and other troops, which he had posted on the American Embassy door in Kabul. He stood guard there for four months and was shot at daily.

He had come to our office to thank us for our support, for all the letters during those scary times. I couldn't believe my ears. He wanted to thank us? We should be thanking him. But how? How can I ever show him my appreciation?

At the end of the sales meeting, he stepped quietly forward, no incredible hulk. As a matter of fact, he looked for all the world 15 years old to me. (The older I get, the younger they look.)

This young Marine, this clean-faced boy, had no qualms stepping up to the plate and dodging bullets so that I might enjoy the freedom to live my peaceful life in the land of the free. No matter the risk. Suddenly the most stressful concerns of my life seemed as nothing, my complacency flew right out the window with his every word. Somewhere, somehow, he had taken the words honor, courage and commitment into his very soul and laid his life on the line daily for me and us. A man of principle. He wants to do it. Relishes it. And he came to thank us? For a few letters? I fought back the tears as he spoke so briefly and softly.

He walked forward to our manager and placed a properly folded American flag in his hands. It had flown over the Embassy. He said thanks again. You could hear a pin drop. As I looked around I saw red faces everywhere fighting back the tears.

In a heartbeat, my disillusionment with young people today quickly vanished. In ordinary homes, in ordinary towns, kids like him are growing up proud to be an American and willing to die for it. Wow. We'll frame the flag and put it in the lobby. He only came to my office once, for just a few minutes. But I realize I rubbed shoulders with greatness in the flesh, and in the twinkling of an eye my life is forever changed. His name is Michael Mendez, a corporal in the USMC. We are a great nation. We know because the makings of it walked into my office that day.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

DMN: Time for Cushing to stop talking

QUOTE: “Middle management means that you got just enough responsibility to listen when people talk, but not so much you can't tell anybody to go ‘F’ themselves.” — Howard “Bunny” Colvin, “The Wire”

The 100 best quotes from “The Wire”

Friday Three Dots

…Brian Cushing needs to be quiet and just accept his penalty. The more he denies that he took hCG, the more he starts to sound like Mark McGwire.

…Speaking of being quiet, Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson might need to focus more on playing than talking since he always says something he regrets.

…Unless Terrell Owens is willing to take a modest contract right now, he will not find work in the NFL. Either that or he’ll have to wait until an injury happens in camp to get back into the league.

…I think Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has the right plan for deciding his starting quarterback. He’ll use all of the minicamps to collect data, then make a firm decision the first week of camp.

…The Bears should sign quarterback Marc Bulger as a backup to give them a veteran behind Jay Cutler. More important, it will give them someone other than Mike Martz who can help Cutler understand the offensive system.

…The Jets and Pro Bowl corner Darrelle Revis are talking contract extension, which will take some time to finalize. Revis is looking for a huge deal, as is Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold. The Jets will be busy in the coming months.

…The 49ers are smart to keep extending their talented young players, first Patrick Willis and now working on tight end Vernon Davis.

…Chris Johnson won’t be the first Tennessee Titan/Houston Oiler to hold out trying to get owner Bud Adams to pay — but it won’t work. Adams was strong even when the rules were not in his favor as they are with this Collective Bargaining Agreement. Johnson deserves a new deal, but holding out is not his best option.

…I’ll be extremely surprised if Cowboys first rounder Dez Bryant doesn’t beat out Roy Williams as a starter in Dallas. Bryant is nifty, explosive and powerful as an athlete, and he can run all the routes that quarterback Tony Romo favors.

…I get the sense that no matter who represents Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman, the message is going to be the same from teams — he is not the same player he once was and hasn’t come back to the same level since his knee injury in 2008.

…I love the fact that Denver rookie Tim Tebow is focusing on playing and not signing endorsements. This sends the right message to his teammates.

…I hope LeBron James stays in Cleveland, and I really hope the Cavs get him some more help. Shaq needs to retire.

Look for the Sunday Post this weekend.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

DMN: Browns must focus on winning, not deals

QUOTE: “Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.” – Thomas Aquinas

Browns’ restricted free agents expected to sit out OTAs

The Cleveland Browns' restricted free agents — including starters Jerome Harrison, Abe Elam, D'Qwell Jackson, Matt Roth and Lawrence Vickers — are likely to skip the team's voluntary organized team activities, which begin Monday, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. This makes no sense to me, especially since the restricted market is over. For these players to earn the contracts they ultimately want, they’ll need to play well next season. In addition, playing well starts with being productive in the offseason. The Browns finished at the bottom of the league in many defensive categories and won only five games last year — with these players in the starting lineup. If any of them are not with the team next season, will it cause the Browns to win only four games or not be ranked 31st in yards allowed?

The larger issue here for the Browns is why these younger players feel entitled to new deals — regardless of what may have been promised to them in the past. The reason for their feelings centers on head coach Eric Mangini, who was in charge of the entire operation at the time. Some players (according to the agents) were promised (allegedly) that they would get long-term deals in the offseason. But since Mike Holmgren took over, old promises are not being kept.

This is similar to when Uncle Junior took over for Jackie Aprile in season one of “The Sopranos.” Junior decided to change the rules of the game but first sent in Mikey Palmice to let people know there was a new sheriff in town. Palmice, one of the best characters of season one, was the muscle to let everyone know Junior was not happy with the status quo. Since February, the Browns have let everyone know there’s a new sheriff (Holmgren) in charge and the team needs to focus on winning (novel concept) before anyone is rewarded with a new deal. I understand a player’s timetable for making money is very short, but when a player is restricted, he has very little market or leverage unless the team is willing to make an exception.

The best thing these players can do is start worrying about winning and playing well before they worry about new deals. If Mangini was not in the building, Holmgren would not have to deal with these issues, but since he’s still there, the players feel they have a compelling argument.

Holmgren, much like Uncle Junior, is going to have to flex his muscle and break up the card game. He will need to send a message to his team that none of these players is essential to winning — particularly since all of them are more interested in their own deals than in helping the Browns get out of the basement of the AFC North. The easiest thing for any executive in the NFL is to deal with unhappy players who want long-term deals after the team has not won anything the year before. Holmgren needs to call Mikey Palmice.

Whisenhunt impressed with the Cards on offense

Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt has been impressed with what he’s seen from the Cards so far in minicamp — which is a very good sign for quarterback Matt Leinart. The way Leinart plays will determine the team’s success in 2010, and Leinart seems to understand the level of expectations. Wednesday, he said, “People can say what they want about me, but I still haven't really proved anything yet. I haven't been out there, so I don't think you can make a fair judgment.”

Leinart is right, and he seems to be in the right mindset to embark on the challenges that await him. His view implies he does not feel the entitlement of being a first-round pick, which means he’s receptive to the coaching he is receiving. I am not sure if Leinart can be successful, but I do know he was never going to achieve any success until he changed his work habits, his feeling of entitlement and his commitment.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

Diner morning news: No excuses for Cushing

QUOTE: “There are two things to aim at in life: First, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.” — Logan Pearsall Smith

More Brian Cushing

The Brian Cushing saga continues with news from AP that he tested positive once for the drug HCG last September then subsequently tested negative several times later. So even though Cushing has taken a lie-detector test and proclaimed his innocence, the facts don’t support him. You cannot debate the test, you cannot debate the levels that caused him to test positive for having HCG in his system — more than once — and most of all, you cannot question the appeals process.

All these facts should result in the Texans linebacker losing his AP Rookie of the Year honors, and his Pro Bowl achievement should carry an asterisk. Cushing knows the rules, knows what the testing process was and knew the outcome if he was caught.

Any old, unemployed backs might want to call the ‘Skins

Brian Westbrook had a visit with the Redskins on Tuesday, and you have to wonder how many older backs they might want to collect. Westbrook was once a great player, but now, with his concussion problem to go along with his knee and ankle injuries, his durability is a risk. The ‘Skins already have Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson and Willie Parker in their backfield. If they did sign Westbrook, he would be a limited role player — which he might be able to handle. Injuries limit him from practicing full time, so no team can count on him to be the player he once was.

It appears this year the ‘Skins favor older running backs — backs who understand how to pass protect and will clearly use a committee mentality this season. Will this strategy work? Durability is critical for running backs, but more than that, the ‘Skins will need to define the roles of each player and make sure they have depth for each role. Portis and Johnson will be the runners to go along with Parker and potentially Westbrook if he signs as the third-down back. None of these runners will strike fear in their opponents, and the greatest concern for all ‘Skins fans will be what their depth chart at running back will look like in late November.

Pacman signing still doesn’t make sense

I still don’t understand why the Bengals keep taking on reclamation projects. What is the benefit in signing Pacman Jones? He’s not a good cover man, although some might say he can be a slot cover man. My reaction: Are you kidding me? Being in the slot requires a corner to have the ability to tackle, to want to tackle and to be a sure tackler — all things that Jones is not consistent performing.

The Bengals have two excellent starting cover men in Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall, so Jones only needs to fit into a role. Yet for me, understanding what role he can actually play is the hardest part. My problem all along with Jones has been his talent level. Add in his off-the-field behavior, and it baffles me that any team would think he could provide a winning performance.

However, as is often the case, the Bengals love to take on these types of problems. I’m looking forward to watching Pacman this summer. My sense is that he will not make the team, but it will be worth watching.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

Diner morning news: A new course for Brady

QUOTE: “Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” — Anonymous

“We’ve got to start listening to coach (Bill) Belichick.We’ve got young kids who are good players. We’ve got the best football coach of all time. He’s got the answers. We as a team have to take the coaching we’re being given.’’ — Tom Brady

Tom Brady spoke yesterday to Peter King of SI.com, offering a unique perspective on what’s going on inside the Patriots locker room. Brady believes the problem with the team lies not in its talent base but in its ability to handle coaching. This is not an unusual problem — especially with young teams. Most often, young players take coaching as criticism, so they listen but don’t hear the words of wisdom. Some players will just listen, but they fail to implement the details in the words. Watching some of the younger players on tape, it’s clear they make mistakes that would not normally be made had they heard the words. Belichick is the master at making sure players understand his message, but as is often the case, each team is unique in terms of its willingness to take to coaching. The mistakes made by the Patriots last season, especially at critical times in the game, cost them wins. But last year was last year, and I have a feeling those mistakes will not be repeated.

Because the Patriots have been in constant change in recent years, there has been a perception that they traded or released the right leadership from their locker room. However, with Brady as the main man there, you would think he could control how the young players process coaching. But these recent comments suggest that Brady has lost some of his swagger in the room, which is normal for a player who has missed one whole year and is trying to get his own career back on track. Typically, real leadership comes from making things happen on the field.

Teams can go away to camp to bond, but the real bonding occurs when a team comes from behind to win a game on the final drive. Yet last year, Brady was not Brady-like in his come-from-behind ability. Remember the second half of the first Jets game? Or the Broncos game? Or the second Miami game? In each of these games, Brady had a chance to make a play to lead his team back, but there was a breakdown in some area that prevented him from being the Brady of old. Also, coming back from a knee injury, the first year is always a year of trepidation in terms of playing the game with confidence. So Brady, in dealing with football-related issues, was unable to control the locker room.

Brady doesn’t talk to just talk, so he made these comments before coming came back to Boston to set the tone for the offseason. He wants to start the season off on the right foot, and he can remind the players of his comments when they start to stray from the coaching. Brady is smart and tactical, and he knows much is expected from him this year. He will need to show everyone that his decision to spend more time in California will not hurt his preparation for the season.

Much is at stake for Brady and the Patriots this year. They need to get back to their dominance of the AFC (winning a home playoff game might be a start), and Brady is due a new contract. He’ll need to prove he’s the Brady of old, and the Patriots need to know the rules of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement before making a long-term deal. From my viewpoint, much can be gained by waiting until the end of the season before negotiating a new contract with Brady; patience is a virtue, especially in unsettling times. Brady understands the expectations of the fans for him and the team, so if he can get the team to understand that its best chance to win is to listen and hear the words of the coach, it will benefit everyone going forward.

Brady knows that winning takes care of everything in the NFL (including new contracts). Getting the team to listen and hear will be the best course toward winning.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

How ‘Skins can handle their Albert problem

QUOTE: “True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision.” — Edith Wharton

Albert Haynesworth and the ‘Skins

There’s clearly a showdown happening in the nation’s capitol, but it has nothing to do with the new Supreme Court justice appointment being announced today. This showdown is between the Redskins’ 100-million-dollar man and the team that’s paying him all that money. Albert Haynesworth was signed a year ago in March by owner Daniel Snyder and his general manager, Vinny Cerrato, to be a dominating inside defensive tackle, but now the ‘Skins are under new management. Mike Shanahan takes over, and the new staff wants Haynesworth to be a nose tackle — a two-gap nose tackle who frees the linebackers to flow freely to the football. Haynesworth hates the idea of being a nose tackle, and he hates the idea of being double-teamed, with little freedom to move while absorbing all the punishment to benefit the overall framework of the defense.

Money is the reason this showdown continues. Can you imagine how the ‘Skins would feel if they traded Haynesworth for a mid-level draft pick after paying him $21 million last month? That’s a ton of cash for a modest pick. The ‘Skins want some (any) return on their investment, and Haynesworth wants the freedom to play football the way he was told before he signed the big contract. He has some trade value, but his lackluster effort on and off the field makes teams (including the new management of the ‘Skins) nervous. Haynesworth is talented, but he’s also lazy. Watching him on tape, he appears to be lackluster in his effort at times, in his love of the game and in his willingness to fight through injuries. He was all these things before he arrived in Washington, which is the reason the Titans were unwilling to commit to a long-term deal. When the ‘Skins signed Haynesworth, they had to be worried about how he would handle the big contract. Now they have their answer.

So what happens next? Haynesworth’s failure to be involved in the offseason is a blessing to the ‘Skins. His salty attitude isn’t needed around younger players right now, so by being away he’s actually helping the ‘Skins. If he wants to be traded, he should show up. He can cause more harm being in the building. Being away illuminates the notion that he doesn’t love football and that the money has spoiled him. But being there and working hard stops all the idle chatter and might help him achieve his ultimate goal — which is to be traded to a team that plays a four-man line.

Haynesworth thinks his work stoppage is hurting the ‘Skins when it actually makes their life much easier. Clearly, when he’s given a chance to solve any problem, he always will take the path of least resistance or the one that requires the least amount of work.

Trust me on this, Haynesworth playing nose tackle won’t work — not because he can’t play nose but because he doesn’t want to be a nose. Playing nose requires a selfless attitude that helps teammates play better. Haynesworth wants to rush the passer, not keep the linebackers free to flow. But as all of us know, in the NFL, most downs are nickel downs (when facing Philadelphia’s offense, the defense might be in its nickel front 80 percent of the game), and the solution to the Haynesworth problem lies in how they design their nickel defense. If Haynesworth stays with the ‘Skins, their best course of action would be to have him rush from defensive tackle and keep him fresh, allowing him to impact the most critical downs of the game. Why waste him on running downs when the NFL is all about the pass?

The ‘Skins need to make the best of the situation, and allowing Haynesworth to rush from the tackle position is not giving in to him but rather helping the team. He’s never going to be happy — whether he’s playing on a four- or three-man line. His happiness lies in being unhappy, so the ‘Skins need to make the most of this year, ignore him, play him in their nickel front and count their blessings that he’s staying away from camp.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

Sunday at the Post

QUOTE/STORY OF THE WEEK…

“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavour by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” — Washington Irving

Tribute to Mother

From Mother’s Day.com

Mothers are everything for us when we are small…our lives revolve around her. For everything that we need we call mother. To protect us from all perceivable dangers we want her around us. To take us out we hold her arms. To kiss away our wounds we run to her. And for a warm hug and love we look for her. She is the focal point of our lives, the greatest human being in the world or should we say divinity on earth. On the special occasion of Mothers Day pay tribute to your mother — the greatest blessing of God on you.

On Mother’s Day, thank your Mother

There is simply no way we can ever really thank mother for all she has done for us. She is the one who will be awake all night when we are sick. Praying to God to make us well and be ever ready to bear the pain that we may be experiencing. She is the one to wake up early in the morning to make the nicest tiffin and endure all our tantrums. Mothers are the ones who would forever complain that we are not eating enough or not eating right. They would cook all sorts of things so that we be strong and healthy. Mothers, in fact, worry more for our examinations than we must. They would take pains to complete our school projects leaving all other works behind while we play around with friends or just while away time watching movies.

On Mother’s Day, apologize to your Mother

Mothers are the one on whom we put all the blame for our failures. We would not hesitate once to point her single faux pas though she would not miss even a slightest opportunity to praise us. Isn't it tough to imagine how she must have borne our temper tantrums when we were teenagers. And how hard we must have made her life by behaving so rude and difficult. And yet she was so astonishingly cool. It it easy for the kids to be so demanding from parents, especially mothers as we take her affection and care so much for granted. Most often to the extent of selfishness. Mother’s Day is the right time to apologize for all the troubles that we gave to our moms, without even realizing at most times how troublesome we must have been to her.

Celebrate Mother’s Day with your Dear Mother

Mother’s Day is the perfect day to celebrate the joys of having a mother. It is the time to make amends for not being able to spend quality time with her. So turn your wrongs right by making all efforts to give a perfect Mother’s Day to your mother. Think about her likes and dislikes about gifts and idea on celebration and act accordingly. Strive to make Mother’s Day absolutely hassle free for your mother and take the responsibilities on yourself for a day. Pamper her a little on this special day of hers just as she pampers you all the year round. Give her a warm hug and a big kiss as you wish her a…

Happy Mother’s Day to all

THINGS I HEARD AROUND THE NFL…

“All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his.” — Oscar Wilde

1. The first week in May, the expectations for news was low. Yet the week was extremely busy, starting with the release of JaMarcus Russell to the suspension of Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing. The Cushing news was not a surprise at all. Everyone, although maybe not the Texans, knew Cushing had a reputation for dabbling in performance-enhancing drugs. In fact, back here in the great Garden State, Cushing’s home, the rumors started in high school. Now with the suspension, the past allegations — whether true are or not — now seem to have much more merit. In the draft last year, I was not a fan of Cushing for many reasons, starting with his body build and my lack of understanding his role on third down.

Even when the Texans drafted him in the first round, I was not impressed and said so in my columns or whenever I did radio in Houston. Nonetheless, after the season he had, I had to eat crow each time I was on the radio. But I kept reminding everyone that injuries and other problems might prevent Cushing from being a consistent Pro Bowl player. I think he will now have to prove he can play well without stimulants that might enhance his overall skill set. One more positive test will result in a one-year suspension, and it will be fascinating to see his body development from this point forward. The Texans have to be concerned about the suspension considering Cushing will miss the first four games of the season, but also the impact this positive test will have on his future development. If I’m wrong about Cushing, I will have no problem admitting my mistake since the best way to grow as a personnel man is to learn from your mistakes. But I’m not ready to say I was wrong — yet.

2. I like the trade that will be finalized tomorrow in which the Cowboys will send linebacker Bobby Carpenter to the Rams for tackle Alex Baron. To me, Baron me is never going to be a player. He has the same problems that have drove JaMarcus Russell out the league — lack work habits, lack of preparation and an indifference toward being a good player. He will not solve the Cowboys’ problems at left tackle next year.

3. Speaking of Russell, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League own his rights, and if I were in their position, I would go to Mobile, Ala., where Russell makes his home, and start recruiting him to resurrect his career in the CFL. My sources tell me Russell will have a tough time finding a gig in the NFL — maybe next offseason, but right now teams are moving forward with their players and seem unwilling to overlook the lack of dedication Russell displays. He’ll have to do something, anything, to win fans back, and going to the CFL is a way to begin the process.

4. Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey announced last week at minicamp that he will have an open tryout for all three quarterbacks, with no preconceived notion about who will win the job. This thought process supports the John Madden belief that “when you have a lot of something you have nothing.” The Bills might have three names on the roster, but they don’t have three starters.

5. The Bills have to be serious about their intention to acquire Baltimore left tackle (but soon to be right tackle) Jared Gaither. Gaither will not be with the Ravens in 2011, so they’re moving Michael Oher to left tackle. Then, if they don’t trade Gaither, they’ll have him for their right tackle spot, albeit for just one year. The move makes sense for the Ravens, but what doesn’t make sense is to give away Gaither at a reduced price. The Bills received a first rounder for Jason Peters, so they know the market for a starting left tackle. The other issue with finalizing the trade is the fact that the Bills, or whichever team Gaither is traded to, must first agree to a new contract, and I hear Gaither is asking for a huge deal, which turns off a few teams. And how can I talk about Buffalo without mentioning that last Friday would have been Tim Russert’s 60th birthday?

LEADERSHIP IMPROVEMENT IDEA…

“Few misfortunes can befall a boy which brings worse consequences than to have a really affectionate mother.” — W. Somerset Maugham

The 50 Great Leadership Videos (Links can be found here, or at Mr. Bacharach’s website following the link below):

Samuel B. Bacharach on Nov 3, 2009

Leadership Skills

1. The importance of believing in your employees. Don’t second guess staff…constantly.

2. Emotional intelligence is vital for leaders. Here’s what to remember.

3. Employee engagement…can be compared to a dance party (scroll down).

4. Knute Rockne, one of Football’s greatest coaches, motivates his players (rare footage).

5. Motivating people can be hard. Sometimes you have to demand great work.

6. How NOT to motivate employees (Funny).

7. The challenge of being a proactive AND senior leader. Admiral Mike Mullen Explains.

8. When is madness visible in leadership? Or, what can Bogart teach us about leading?

9. The role of Ego in leadership. A fine line between helpful and hurtful.

10. Desmond Tutu discusses servant leadership.

11. Richard Feynman tells us to never make assumptions and to always doubt norms.

12. Feynman, in a different interview, tells us that there is nothing in a name and new methods are always needed.

13. Some ideas on how to communicate your vision and agenda by American Chef John Besh.

14. Passion plays a vital role in leadership. This is why it’s important.

15. Leading positively can lead to proactive change in your business.

16. Leadership and social media. How can leaders use social media?

17. Social media’s power and force explained. Leaders have to familiarize themselves with social media before it’s too late.

18. Cloud computing is the future. Leaders need to stay ahead of the curve.

19. Here’s a light look on social media’s ability to bring people together…and create.

20. Not on Twitter yet? Learn about it and think about ways it can help you connect with employees.

21. A quick, fun, explanation of Google Wave.

22. The advantages of digital text–with explanation. Great for bloggers.

23. What’s the status of your 2.0 identity?

Execution

24. Getting things done while minimizing stress. (Download link)

25. Passing the buck. Watch John Adams get Jefferson to write the Declaration of independence.

26. The dangers of micro-managing. Inept employees are bad hires.

27. Charisma can turn into madness. Look at Shakespeare’s Henry V.

28. Majora Carter tells her story of how she initiated change in the South Bronx with little help and little money.

29. Chef Gordan Ramsey explains the importance of turning something negative into something positive.

30. How NOT to negotiate. Hat tip to Monty Python.

31. Get them on your side by showing your staffers you will go the distance.

32. Woody Allen reminds us not to forget our negotiation priorities.

33. By studying our tribal tendencies we can figure out how we get things done.

34. The challenges women face in the business world. Great interview with Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi.

35. Standing up for your ideas in the face of criticisms. It involves commitment and desire.

Agenda Development

36. Rory Sutherland talks about adding subjective value to products, ideas, and things. Use these ideas the next time you want to add value to your agenda.

37. Just because you have failed before doesn’t mean you are bad. Just ask Michael Jordan.

38. J.B. Jeyaretnam discusses the Worker’s Party and his contrary agenda.

39. Developing an agenda that will transform the system can be a challenge (with some laughs along the way). A interview with Michelle Rhee.

Inspiration

40. Colin Powell leadership advice–in 13 easy points.

41. What’s the value of your work? Looking for integrity in work.

42. The 4 hour work week can leave you a lot of time for the things you love. Think it can work? (Download video).

43. Are you a leader that feels problems out? Jackson Pollock does as well.

44. Here are 10 laws of simplicity to help you organize your workload and life.

45. Tips on storytelling from NPR’s Scott Simon. Great for learning how to connect with employees and clients.

46. 5 Strategies to handle criticisms.

47. Paul Rand discusses the aesthetics of work and design. Great lessons to be learned.

48. The importance of creating meaning in your business.

49. Use your fear to help you inspire change.

50. Great video about life, learning, and growing directed by Baz Luhrmann.

In Memoriam

Robert Boland, our colleague here at the National Football Post, lost his father Tom yesterday. All of us here at the Post extend our deepest sympathies to Bob’s entire family. Our heart and prayer are with you.

ARTICLES YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THAT AREN’T WORTH MISSING…

“I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” — Abraham Lincoln

Rick Gosselin has a great NFL column on Tim Tebow and the rest of the NFL…

Local boy with cancer turns into a superhero for a day

New Frontier as a Lacrosse Coach Goes West

STORIES TO SHARE….

“A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary.” — Dorothy Canfield Fisher Mother’s Day – an inspiring story about mother

A man stopped at a flower shop to order some flowers to be wired to his mother who lived 200 miles away.

As he got out of his car, he noticed a young girl sitting on the curb sobbing.?He asked her what was wrong and she replied, “I wanted to buy a red rose for my mother. But I only have 75 cents and a rose costs $2.”

The man smiled and said, “Come on in with me. I'll buy you a rose.”

He bought the little girl her rose and ordered his own mother flowers. As they were leaving, he offered the girl a ride home. She said, “Yes, please! You can take me to my mother.”

She directed him to a cemetery, where she placed the rose on a freshly dug grave.

The man returned to the flower shop, canceled the wire order, picked up a bouquet and drove the 200 miles to his mother's house.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

Diner morning news: A new day for JaMarcus

QUOTE: “For one who is indifferent, life itself is a prison. Any sense of community is external or, even worse, nonexistent. Thus, indifference means solitude. Those who are indifferent do not see others. They feel nothing for others and are unconcerned with what might happen to them. They are surrounded by a great emptiness. Filled by it, in fact. They are devoid of all hope as well as imagination. In other words, devoid of any future.” — Elie Wiesel

When I think of the meaning of the word indifference, I think about Oakland Raiders first overall pick JaMarcus Russell — in all of his actions, his behavior and his mannerisms. He projects an image of someone who doesn’t care, someone who is unwilling to change or accept responsibility for anything. The Raiders were willing to protect their investment, willing to do whatever it took to help Russell, even if they had to lie about his weight, his work habits and his commitment to football. They felt they could control his behavior and make him see the light — but he was indifferent to their help just as he was indifferent to his career.

Even with the Raiders meeting him more than halfway, Russell was unwilling to extend the slightest effort. The past few years, there are many reasons to take shots at the Raiders, but when it comes to Russell, their mistake lies in the selection, not in the attempt to make him a player. Right from the start with his prolonged holdout, the Raiders learned that Russell did not like football. From sleeping in meetings to his off-the-field behavior, they realized he played football for the perks, not for the love of the game. All these things should have been worked out before the pick, but the Raiders believed they could change Russell. It’s just hard to change someone who’s indifferent to change.

I find it laughable that some will say he needs to be backup quarterback as he settles into his career. Backup quarterbacks have to prepare, they have to study, they have to be ready to play at a moment’s notice without getting many reps. They have to be willing to sacrifice, and most of all, they have to be committed to improving. All those things Russell seems unwilling to do now, so why would he do them for a new team? Who could trust him to be prepared, to be willing to work, to be diligent — and to not be indifferent? What message do you send to your team if you sign him? Being a third-string quarterback is the job he wants. He can sleep in the meetings, never has to play unless there’s an emergency and still make NFL money. Why would anyone give Russell a job that belongs to the willing, the dedicated, the committed?

The Raiders learned last year that no matter who played quarterback, they had a chance to win as long as their name was not Russell. I’m sure it had to be painful for the owner to watch the team rally around the backups, but there was no ignoring the powerful message it sent to entire Raider nation. Clearly, Russell lost the fans, the team, the coaches and now finally the owner. His waiver Thursday was the fastest since the combined draft started in 1967 that the first overall pick was gone from the team. Normally, it’s the Raiders picking up former No. 1 overall picks, but now they’ve sent one of their own packing. Times have changed in the NFL.

My advice for JaMarcus Russell would be to hold a press conference to let the world know you deserved to be cut, that you have not taken football seriously, but now you’ve learned a powerful lesson. He needs to tell anyone who will listen that he’s headed to the gym to train; he’s going to do whatever it takes to get in shape and prepare for his future, because today he has accepted responsibility for his actions. He must train every day, must be willing to make sacrifices — and most of all must stop being indifferent. His return to the NFL may not come quickly, but he can’t control what others want to do with him. He can only control himself.

Alone with all his thoughts, Russell must ask himself one fundamental question: Am I willing to no longer be indifferent? And the answer will lie in his behavior starting this morning. Let’s hope he reads the quote above before he starts his new day.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

DMN: LenDale White has it wrong about the Titans

QUOTE: “One might compare the relation of the ego to the id with that between a rider and his horse. The horse provides the locomotor energy, and the rider has the prerogative of determining the goal and of guiding the movements of his powerful mount towards it. But all too often in the relations between the ego and the id we find a picture of the less ideal situation in which the rider is obliged to guide his horse in the direction in which it itself wants to go.” — Sigmund Freud

LenDale White said what?

“I think what happened was in Tennessee they probably got a little too carried away with the Chris Johnson thing. The year before, we were 13-3 when I had 200 carries and we split the rock. Chris went to the Pro Bowl and we had the first-round bye. They did things different the next year and we struggled to make the playoffs. It is what it is. It’s the same offense down here in Seattle. I’m very familiar. I know how to pick up pass protection and stuff like that. The playbook is not what I’m worried about. I’m just worried about the opportunity, and I think that Pete is going to give me a chance.” — LenDale White

I love LenDale, but he has a short memory about what happened in Tennessee last season. The fact he feels they phased him out of the offense might have more to do with them always playing from behind in the first six games than his overall play. Early in the season, the Titans struggled to run the ball, with the exception of the second game against the Texans. In three of their first five games, they ran for fewer than 100 yards. But their major problems centered on falling behind early as a result of turnovers, which then forced them to throw their way back into the game. The Titans finished 31st in the NFL in point differential in the first half last year with a minus-66 point difference. When they did not turn over the ball, they could keep the running game alive and help Vince Young establish himself as a passer and not be one dimensional.

LenDale must not have attended all the games. The Titans’ problem last year was not with their play calling but rather their defense and their inability to protect the ball.

Adalius Thomas?

When you watch Patriots defensive tape from last season, it’s clear that Adalius Thomas was not the same player — in any aspect of his game. Although I have never formally worked with former head coach Bill Parcells, I’ve talked to him on the phone enough to learn many things. One of the lessons I learned from Parcells had to do with linebackers and their age. Parcells believes that when a linebacker reaches the 31-year-old mark he’s almost done and has little hope of regaining his old form — no matter how talented he might have been. Age for linebackers is critical, and according to Parcells, taking a player from another team at that age is risky and often not rewarding (he violated that rule with Jason Taylor last year, and I’m sure he regrets that mistake).

Parcells has many codes on personnel that he rarely violates. His linebacker rule is not based on some whim but on years of practical and statistical study. And each time I watched tape of the Patriots last year, I thought Thomas looked like he lost the power in his legs, much like watching Shaq play for the Cavs. Neither has juice in his body, which makes them vulnerable. If Thomas gets a job, it won’t be a high-priced one, nor will the team signing him be expecting much.

Jimmy Clausen

Whichever team hit with its quarterback selection — either Denver or Carolina — will have a great draft and leave other teams wondering what happened. The recent excitement expressed by both clubs since minicamp is a clear signal that they’re confident they hit a home run with the picks.

Tim Tebow is on a mission to prove all his doubters wrong, and so is Jimmy Clausen. Based on their lack of production this offseason, there’s not much optimism in Carolina, but if Clausen is as good as many suspect, then the Panthers might have had the best offseason of any team. To draft a quality starting quarterback in the second round is a huge advantage for the Panthers. Wednesday, we learned that Clausen will get a chance to compete for a starting job, and if he’s able to wrestle the position from Matt Moore, the Panthers’ rebuilding project might not take as long.

I realize there hasn’t been a game yet, but normally when this much optimism comes from teams, there’s a good chance they’ll be proven right. I’m anxious to see Clausen because I thought he worked out well, played well and looked like he has the talent to be a starter. Now we’ll see.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

Diner morning news: An offseason of change

QUOTE: “I’ve got a great attitude. I just look forward to a new adventure. God gives us so many adventures, and I've had some great ones. It's been a terrific life.” — Ernie Harwell

From the Detroit Free Press: “The man who will forever be the voice of the Tigers is gone, and the baseball community is left silent in remembrance. Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell passed away Tuesday at age 92. Harwell succumbed to cancer of the bile duct. Doctors diagnosed the condition as an aggressive form in August, and Harwell and his family decided against surgery at his age. He explained his situation with an extraordinary sense of peace, both to his friends in the community and to fans at Comerica Park when he made one last visit in September. Mr. Harwell will be missed.”

A look at the Jags

The Jacksonville Jaguars seem to be interested in still making moves after the draft to improve the talent level of their team. Tuesday, there was a report they were interested in a backup quarterback and were possibly willing to trade safety Reggie Nelson, their former first-round pick. The Jags are willing to make the move because, in large part, they’ve been extremely disappointed in Nelson on the third level of the defense. He misses too many tackles, jumps on anything that crosses his face and appears to be a liability in the secondary (the Jags allowed 28 touchdown passes last year, which is almost two per game, and 7.6 yards per pass attempt). As a rookie, I thought Nelson was going to be a star in the league, but he hasn’t played well the past two seasons, and the Jags know they can’t tolerate his mistakes in coverage and his missed tackles.

The last half of the season was a disaster for the Jags. Gene Smith, their general manager, talked about how the impact of losing to Cleveland drove all their offseason decisions. In that game, the Browns ran the ball 49 times for more than 200 yards, but for most of the second half of the season, teams had their way with the Jaguars defense. The last three games, they allowed 93 points, and when they need to score to beat the Colts on the final drive of the game, they turned the ball over.

The Jaguars last season were a defense without an identity. They went to a 3-4 to get more pass rush, but that never worked, so all their preparation during the offseason as a 4-3 team was wasted. They never really challenged anyone with their scheme, opting to keep it simple and rely on their own execution. So when they couldn’t dominate in terms of talent, they couldn’t win games.

When the Jags beat Houston (much to the dismay of our own Matt “I love me some Texans” Bowen) to go 7-5 and take control of their playoff destiny, they looked like they had turned the corner on their season. But then they lost four in a row with breakdowns in all facets of the game, and their head coach, Jack Del Rio, ended up on a very hot seat. Now, this year they want to change their defensive style, become more of an attacking 4-3 with quicker, faster players in their front seven. Will it work? Yes, because they’re totally committed to one scheme. Their commitment extends to their player personnel procurement all offseason.

Does this mean the Jags are a better team? As Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast, my friend.” The rebuilding is going to take more than one year to make the transformation from a good team to a legitimate playoff team. Each coach, each player must perform 10 percent better than they have at any time in their careers. It will take the players playing well, the coaches coaching well, the personnel department adding the right players, their kicker not going 7 of 16 outside of 40 yards and some good fortune.

The Jags need to keep making moves. They need a backup quarterback in case starter David Garrard breaks down or gets off to a bad start – someone the team can still rally around and believes can win. There’s too much at stake for the Jags to hope that Luke McCown can deliver. Last offseason, the Bucs signed McCown to a big contract, but after a few minicamps, they realized they made a mistake, forcing them to then sign Byron Leftwich, which then proved to be another mistake. (In 2009, the Bucs, had one of the worse offseasons of any team. They signed two quarterbacks who are not there, they franchised Antonio Bryant and re-signed Michael Clayton to a huge deal. All but Clayton are gone, and now they’re trying to make him go away.)

For the Jags to have any chance, they need to keep adding players, and they must find a viable veteran as their backup quarterback or run the risk their season might fall apart.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi