The Seahawks and 49ers meet today in the latest chapter of what has turned into one of the NFL's most delectable -- and downright nasty -- rivalries. Especially with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.
The roots of the enmity go back to 2009, when Carroll was the coach at USC and Harbaugh was in his first year as Stanford's coach. Harbaugh's Cardinal beat USC, 55-21, at the Los Angeles Coliseum, and despite being ahead by such a wide margin late in the game, he went for a two-point conversion after a touchdown.
When the two coaches met at midfield, they had a brief exchange in which Harbaugh was heard to say to Carroll, "What's your deal?''
The two have since downplayed that moment, but the emotions flared during the offseason after linebacker Bruce Irvin was hit with a suspension under the league's performance-enhancing drugs policy.
"I've definitely noticed it,'' Harbaugh said of the suspension and other similar ones to Seahawks players in recent years. Harbaugh said he told his own players, "Play by the rules. And you always want to be above reproach. Especially when you're good, because you don't want people to come back and say they're winning because they're cheating . . . So we want to be above reproach in everything and do everything by the rules. Because if you cheat to win, then you've already lost, according to [former Michigan coach] Bo Schembechler. And Bo Schembechler is about next to the word of God as you can get in my mind. It's not the word of God, but it's close.''
Bring it on, fellas.
QB injury rate declines
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is dealing with a shoulder injury that has kept him out of the lineup since late August, but the injury news is generally more promising around the NFL in recent years.
Increased efficiency and better health among quarterbacks, thanks in part to rules changes that started in 1993 to address an injury problem, have led to more quarterbacks staying in the lineup in recent years.
Consider: In 2012, 20 of 32 teams started the same quarterback in every game, the most of any season since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. It's part of a growing trend: The four highest quarterback starting rates in a non-strike season have all occurred in recent years (adding 16 each in 2001, 2006 and 2008)
The rules changes started in 1993, when quarterbacks were not flagged for intentional grounding if they were out of the pocket and their pass went to at least the line of scrimmage. Subsequent rules aimed at protecting quarterbacks have been instituted, all of which have contributed to improved health at the league's most important position.
LI's Catapano earns a role
Chiefs defensive end Mike Catapano, who starred at Chaminade and went on to become the Ivy League defensive player of the year at Princeton last season, already has made an impact on the Chiefs' pass rush.
Catapano disrupted four pass plays against the Jaguars last week and earned high praise from defensive coordinator Bob Sutton.
"I'll say this. His role isn't getting reduced,'' Sutton said. "He'll just keep playing.''
Catapano, who made the team as a seventh-round pick, was playing in place of Allen Bailey, who missed practice the previous week because of the death of his father. But Catapano was impressive enough that he'll now be a part of the pass- rush rotation. Next up: Dallas at home today.
Bucs not lined up
Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman missing the team photo? Seriously? Something's not right in Tampa, and Freeman's oversleeping the day of the team photo is just a part of it. Is former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano simply not suited to the pro game? Is general manager Mark Dominik on thin ice, especially after a free-agent spending spree and the trade for Darrelle Revis? Plenty to keep an eye on, especially if the Bucs don't turn things around and put together a winning season.
Former Ravens pass rusher Paul Kruger, who signed a free- agent deal with the Browns in March, is pumped to go against his old team today. Kruger said he's still upset about his limited playing time in last season's Super Bowl. "As soon as I knew I was coming here, being able to play against those guys -- it's going to be intense,'' he said.