Got a call last night from Floyd Mayweather's publicist, who was next to the welterweight fighter as he trained for his Sept. 19 fight against Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas. She held the phone up in the direction of Mayweather in the middle of his workout session.
"Hear that?" she asked.
The cadenced rat-a-tat was the sound of Mayweather drilling the speed bag into a rhythmic pulp. About an hour later, I got Mayweather on the phone — he wanted to take a break from training to talk football with PFW — and heard that same kind of sound and tempo again: in his voice. Mayweather talks like he fights, in a relentless series of jabs and haymakers that roll from one word to another without much in the way of break. Although I am not the biggest boxing enthusiast, I suspect this is what has helped make him an undefeated pro and one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
When asked how the fight preparations are going, he paused and stuttered briefly before unleashing a sortie that transcribes roughly as: "Uh … uh … Everythingisgood. Everythingisgoingrealgoodrightnow. Wejusttrytokeepgoingonedayatatime. Actuallyweareinthegymtrainingatthisparticulartime, thisparticulartime," adding exclamation on the end, as if it were a knockout try.
Mayweather is a big football fan. Huge, he says. He also likes to get a piece of the action, when when in Vegas …
"Been betting … heavy . Betting heavy on football. Extremely heavy."
How heavy? Heavy . Mayweather estimates that his largest wager on an NFL game was "$70,000, maybe $100,000" on a single game. His largest take-home? "It was $190,000."
Mayweather grew up in Michigan, though he doesn't claim himself a Lions fan. (Shocker.) "When I grew up my flag football team was the Pittsburgh Steelers," he says. "I also used to like the Chicago Bears when Walter Payton was playing. And when Jerry Rice and Joe Montana [were] together, I used to like their team. There have been a lot of great players in this game, but a guy who has been a dominant force in this game has been Tom Brady. I also want to see Michael Vick do well."
He'd like to watch a few weeks of action before he's ready to back a Super Bowl favorite, and despite the fact that he has a big fight coming up, he says he doesn't plan to miss out on the Sunday games. "We got the [DirecTV] package," he says, ostensibly referring to his entourage. "We watch all the games."
And as it turns out, Mayweather is willing to take on more than one opponent at a time. He already has committed to his next battle — against me. Over about eight minutes on the phone, we talked about his Week One NFL picks, and he said he wants to give PFW his picks every week. I proposed an idea: Mayweather vs. Edholm, head-to-head picks every week, and without even speaking with his people, he agreed. Financial terms of the match have not yet been released.
So it's as simple as that. He and I will post our weekly picks here in this space, and at the end of the season a champion will be crowned. The games will be picked straight up, no spreads. (Perhaps he doesn't want to tip his betting hand.) I can tell you that my record as a pro is far from undefeated, so in no way am I taking this opponent lightly.
Onward with our Week One picks and Floyd's take on the games:
|Floyd's pick||Edholm's pick||
|Tennessee at Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||"Pittsburgh, of course, they won a Super Bowl."
|Miami at Atlanta
||Atlanta||Atlanta||"Miami, I hear they have a couple of new celebrity owners. But once again, celebrities can't play for you."
|Denver at Cincinnati
||Denver||Cincinnati||"Cincinnati shouldn't have gotten rid of their other wide receiver, [T.J.] Houshmandzadeh. One of the best wide receivers in football."
|Minnesota at Cleveland
||Minnesota||Minnesota||"You've got the running back for Minnesota [Adrian Peterson], but I honestly don't think Brett Favre should start. I think Tarvaris Jackson should. But Brett is going to fill up the arena because of his name."
|Jacksonville at Indianapolis
||Indianapolis||Indianapolis||"Peyton Manning … his record speaks for itself."
|Detroit at New Orleans
||"Detroit has been on a [17-game] losing streak, so New Orleans would like to put up a lot of points on the board."
|Dallas at Tampa Bay
||Dallas||Dallas||"Dallas, they got the quarterback, and they say he is focused now that he has broken up with the young lady."
|Philadelphia at Carolina
||Philadelphia||Philadelphia||"You've got Philadelphia and the two quarterbacks, McNabb and Vick. They are going to have a lot of running and a lot of crazy passing. A lot of excitement."
|Kansas City at Baltimore
||Baltimore||Baltimore||"Kansas City hasn't made no noise. Baltimore, for a long time they have played good ball, especially at home."
|N.Y. Jets at Houston
||Houston||"The Jets have Sanchez. They say he has put up good numbers the first game."
|Washington at N.Y. Giants
||"The other Manning brother, he won a Super Bowl."
|San Francisco at Arizona
||Arizona||Arizona||"Arizona, they went to a Super Bowl, but San Francisco has a new coach, a good coach in Singletary. He's got them on a winning streak, so he's a good coach. This should be an exciting game."
|St. Louis at Seattle
||Seattle||Seattle||"Since [Kurt Warner] left St. Louis, they ain't made no noise. They got that good running back, [Steven] Jackson, but I think Seattle can do enough at home to pull it off."
|Chicago at Green Bay
||"Green Bay, their quarterback [Aaron Rodgers] has been coming around since Brett left. He's trying to follow in Brett Favre's footsteps."
|Buffalo at New England
||"New England, Tom Brady … they always have a complete package."
|San Diego at Oakland
||"San Diego, we got the running back [LaDainian Tomlinson]. Oakland, if the quarterback [JaMarcus Russell] can get running and the running backs can get running and get everything in order, they can be an exciting team. But I have to choose San Diego in that game."
|Last week's record||0-0||0-0|
|Season record to date||0-0||0-0|