News Item: Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid and Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress, Reid's former offensive coordinator, left Monday for a weeklong fishing vacation in Alaska.
For the most part, the two men didn't say much as the day began and the sun crept above the horizon and began to illuminate the small lake. They sat at opposite ends of the boat and quietly cast their lines and tried to tease the lurking fish to accept the lures.
On other days of the trip, the old friends would go after larger fish in the great bays and coves sculpted by the Bering Sea and, of course, there would be time to stand amid the rushing streams and rivers to intercept the salmon as they climbed steadily home to spawn.
This day was for the calm of a lake, however, and the tireless peace of fishing, the repetitive whizzing of the line as it sails through the air, the snap of the bail and the click of the reel as it begins to slowly and steadily swim the lure through the cold water and back to the boat.
One slight, balding man, and one heavier, with a bristling shock of red hair going gently toward gray. After a while, the first one stopped to change his tackle and broke the silence.
First Man: Nice cast. By the way, that was a neat job you guys did with Donovan's contract. Gave him some money, made it appear that he won, and you didn't have to commit to him for an extra day or tie your hands with a big signing bonus.
Second Man: Thanks. If I can just put it near that big rock, I know something will strike. Yeah, Joe did a great thing there. If Donovan gets hurt again or doesn't get the job done, we can even get out cheap before the following season by letting him go before the roster bonus. Nobody wants to have a quarterback around who can't get it done anymore. Uhhh . . . don't take that the wrong way. I mean, Favre might be fine for you guys.
First Man: Well, when your options are Tavaris Jackson, John David Booty, and Sage Rosenfels, it's not that difficult a decision. I have no idea if Brett can play or even wants to play. He seems to change his mind a lot. Have you ever noticed that quarterbacks are really different?
Second Man: Don't get me started.
First Man: I mean, he wants surgery, he doesn't want surgery, he wants to come back, he never wants to play again. He's down at some high school throwing passes to 16-year-olds, and I'm getting reports from the high school coach.
Second Man: He got any tight ends?
First Man: I don't think so. How's Kolb coming along?
Second Man: Great. He's doing a real good job with that. Smart kid, picks up things well, very competitive, good leader. Very happy with the way he's working out. Want him?
First Man: Not really. But tell me, if he had gone gangbusters in the second half of that Baltimore game, would he have started the next game?
Second Man: I understand the question, but I'm not going there.
First Man: Hey, this is me you're talking to here.
Second Man: Well, I don't really know. The kid made the decision easy for me, let's put it that way.
First Man: If it was a ploy to get Donovan back in gear, it sure worked.
Second Man: Oh, yeah. It worked until we came up against a game we absolutely had to have against the Redskins, playing a team that had lost five of six games and basically quit on its season, and the offense was totally flat. That one scared me.
First Man: But you still made the playoffs and had a good run.
Second Man: Sure, all it took was 17 miracles on the final day of the season and then we got rolling again with a patsy to start the playoffs. Uhhh . . . I didn't mean that the way it sounded.
First Man: It's OK. You had two plays - an interception return and a screen pass that went to the house - and a bunch of field goals. We beat ourselves and you took advantage. That's what good teams do.
Second Man: Yeah, for a while. Great teams do that until the end.
They sat in silence again for a few minutes, casting toward the shoreline, the quiet sliced only by the splash of the lures hitting the water and the squawk of the birds that darted and dived overhead.
First Man: You know, this is great.
Second Man: Yes, it is. Fishing is great.
First Man: You know what would be best? Taking a trip like this after winning a Super Bowl. Can you imagine?
Second Man: I'm not getting into all that. I'm just thinking about training camp and the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 13.
First Man: Right. I forgot.