In one month, the NFL will open the 2009 season.
And NBC will be throwing in the towel.
To be specific, when Pittsburgh plays host to Tennessee on Sept. 10, it's a safe bet the network will cue up footage of a memorable moment from last season -- when, in the closing minutes of a Week 16 victory over the Steelers, the Titans' LenDale White and Keith Bulluck stomped a Terrible Towel into the turf.
It was disrespectful, unprofessional, immature . . .
And box-office gold.
"People tend to make fun of bulletin board material . . . but I can tell you it does make a difference, even a silly thing like that," said NBC's Cris Collinsworth, who, after John Madden's retirement, will work alongside Al Michaels this season.
"It will have the people in Pittsburgh so much more emotional . . . than they may have been. You'll hear denials from the players, and you'll hear the coaches during that week say that it doesn't matter and it's no big deal.
"Trust me, it will be played up in that Pittsburgh Steelers locker room that entire week and probably this entire preseason. Because it does matter. It brings out a raw emotion in players and coaches that you don't otherwise see.
"As much as anybody wants to deny it, it is a huge part of this game."
Titans Coach Jeff Fisher was part of an NFL contingent that visited soldiers in Iraq this summer, and he found himself in unexpectedly hostile surroundings. Well, sort of.
Fisher told Fred Gaudelli, producer of NBC's "Sunday Night Football," that he had never seen so many swirling yellow towels, outside of Pittsburgh. Joked Gaudelli: "He told me, 'I believe the Terrible Towel is manufactured in Iraq.' "
Ex-Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler is in Chicago. Ex-Bears quarterback Kyle Orton is in Denver. And at least one informed observer thinks they're both better off where they are now.
"To me," John Elway said, "Jay's probably the most athletically gifted quarterback in the league. So I think he'll be able to make some plays that Kyle wouldn't have made. And it's a better situation with Kyle being in Denver, because Kyle's not going to be asked to make those plays in that system. They don't like their quarterback moving around, so I think it's a good switch for both of them."
Elway went on to say he thinks Denver is going to be better on offense than many people expect, as long as the Broncos can quickly absorb the system of new Coach Josh McDaniels. The Hall of Fame quarterback said he was particularly impressed by Denver's receivers and rookie running back Knowshon Moreno, who didn't agree to terms until Friday.
Error message received
To discourage his players from making silly mistakes in practice, Cleveland Coach Eric Mangini makes them run laps around the practice field for committing penalties or mental errors. He did the same thing as coach of the New York Jets, where center Nick Mangold was a penalty-lap marathoner.
"With Nick, he was snapping the ball early all the time and ran a ton of laps," Mangini told reporters last week. "We ended up putting his lap compilation to Britney Spears' 'Oops, I Did It Again' to show the group. It wasn't to embarrass him.
"It was sort of a good-natured reminder that you want to not be an error repeater."
Not for public consumption
San Diego fined cornerback Antonio Cromartie $2,500 for wondering on Twitter whether the Chargers' "nasty food" has contributed to the team's inability to reach the Super Bowl.
No surprise here: Twitter-happy Terrell Owens thinks the fine is over the top.
"I think it's ridiculous," Owens told reporters at Buffalo training camp.
"You know you're going to get my honest opinion about it, and for someone to get fined $2,500 because he tweeted that the cafeteria food is bad, then maybe they need to change it, you know?"
He has a point. You are what you tweet.
Tweet of the week
(NJ_StevePoliti) "Eli Manning gets $97 million. I'm sure he'll upgrade his wardrobe. After five new pairs of sweats, that'll leave $96,999,872."