NFL in T.O. nonsense

STEVE SIMMONS

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

The most recent stream of nonsense about Toronto and the National Football League began with the release of Bobby Ackles' excellent book, The Water Boy.

It has since taken on all kinds of lives -- the biggest stretch being the story that indicates Canadian Football League owners are considering buying into an NFL franchise to protect themselves against a team moving to Toronto.

None of that takes into account that the NFL cares not a whit about the CFL and that new commissioner Roger Goodell and Toronto NFL hunter Paul Godfrey have a friendship that dates back years.

If Toronto is getting a team -- which it isn't for now -- the betting here is that Godfrey and friends are light years ahead of any other suitors.

The NFL story that won't go away aside, the book is a treat for those who love inside stuff about either pro football league. With wonderful anecdotal touch and a great memory for detail, Ackles brings to life his up-close, amusing, sometimes controversial and personal experiences working with such notables as Jerry Jones, Jimmy Johnson, Buddy Ryan, Wally Buono, Adam Rita, Ray Rhodes, and the Bidwell family of Arizona Cardinals shame.

The details are rich -- even if some of the names happen to be spelled incorrectly.

THIS AND THAT: Confirm or deny. There are rumblings about that the Raptors are among the teams throwing names at Jerry Buss, hoping to find a match for the available Kobe Bryant. This possibility is too rich for Bryan Colangelo not to at least take a stab at it ... A rule that has to be changed -- that foolish time-out rule in the NFL just as a team is about to kick a field goal ... Football doesn't get much better than this, with unbeaten New England on the road playing unbeaten Dallas ... In 167 games over six spotty seasons, Jesse Boulerice, a forward, scored eight goals, had two assists, almost no time played and 319 minutes in penalties. Suspending him indefinitely -- for sheer stupidity really -- wouldn't have bothered anybody outside of his family.

HEAR AND THERE: Did you know Grady Sizemore grew up in the Expos organization and was a throw-in in a deal Omar Minaya made to bring Bartolo Colon to Montreal? ... Ricky Williams has applied for reinstatement in the NFL, but so far no answer. He is contractually obligated to play for the Dolphins, who basically have no interest in him.

SCENE AND HEARD: The more I watch Jeff Francis, the more I feel for Ernie Whitt. Francis should have pitched for Canada at the 2004 Summer Olympics. If he did, Whitt's team would have won a medal, maybe gold ... The Washington Nationals made a pitch to Dan Shulman to leave ESPN and take on the play-by-play role with the Nationals. Shulman said thanks, but no thanks but when his contract is up in three years time, the Jays should open up the vault and sign him up.

AND ANOTHER THING: Since opening night, the Nashville Predators have played to crowds of 13,079 and 12,155 at home, which are hardly save-the-franchise numbers. Which is why Canadian Jim Balsillie is kicking the tires once again, hoping to cut off the move to Kansas City ... When they pitched as kids for the Florida Marlins, there was debate about who would have a better career: Josh Beckett or A.J. Burnett. Beckett has gone to become a 20-game winner and big-game thrower for the Red Sox. Burnett, too, has become a 20-game winner: In two seasons in Toronto, his record is 20-16.


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