Guess Who Wants to Pull a Gordie Howe, and Why?
Recently, Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports (try hopping in the way-back machine and explaining that line on your resume!) somehow managed to land an interview with former NFL journeyman QB Jeff George, begging the question, "Was Bubby Brister not available?"
Apparently the former Colt-Falcon-Raider-Viking-Redskin believes that if he were in Minnesota, he'd "be wearing a ring right now." (Reports that George was referring not so much to a Super Bowl ring as a wedding ring, based on some imagined coupling during the Vikings 2005 Lake Minnetonka "Love Boat" scandal, went unconfirmed at press-time.)
The 41 year-old, best known for a big arm and a mouth to match, claims he "just can't get over why somebody like Brad Childress" – let's assume he doesn't mean Gerald McRaney, no matter how uncanny the resemblance – "wouldn't take a look at me and have me as the third guy on their roster." (My Hail Mary guess, Jeff, is that it has something to do with comments like that.) He went on to say that he would "pick up right where I left off in '99, but this time with Adrian Peterson, so I wouldn't have to throw it nearly as much."
It's that last part that led to my double-take. During his 12-year rollercoaster of a career, what kept the mercurial signal-caller's star on the rise was always that golden arm. It was his calling card, his silver lining, the proverbial sugar that helped the medicine go down. So, suggesting that he "wouldn't have to throw it nearly as much" doesn't exactly scream VALUE or DESIRE to the pretend teams that Captain Two First Names believes should want to sign him. As for Childress, back in '07 he had this curiously snarky word of advice for George: "Probably maybe go to a fantasy camp or something like that."
Me-OW, Major Dad. When I read that quote, I couldn't quite tamp down the little voice in my head saying, "Pretty cocky for a guy who started Tarvaris Jackson in a playoff game." And that got me thinking. If you take a moment to contemplate the shoddy quarterback play around the league, even in terms of starters, let alone back-ups, let alone back-ups to back-ups – is a 41-year old Jeff George and his strong right arm really wrong?
Please Quit Your Day Job
In what has to constitute one of the all-time lows in the history of television, skits and television skits (not to mention just general human interaction), the NFL Network recently aired what can best be classified as "an abomination, humiliating to all involved, viewers included."
The segment, introduced by luckiest-man-in-broadcasting Rich Eisen, was entitled "Masterpiece...Artistes!" in a clever attempt to throw off the scent of the copyright hounds at PBS or the BBC or whoever, and featured a "scene" improvised between uninformed chubster analyst Jamie Dukes and ex-NFL GM Charlie Casserly. (Casserly, to his credit, seemed to be staging a race between sweating and squirming – a dead-heat that told me he, too, appreciated the levels of jackass-itude being perpetrated on the public. Bravo, Mr. Casserly. Message received. Feel free to blink it in Morse code next time.)
Their topic, not that it matters, was the pre-trade tension between a boyish head coach off to a rocky start and a little girlish QB, soon to be on his way to the windy city. What came next resembled some sort of unbearable Dr. Phil segment (is there any other kind?), wherein a couple switches roles to "really try and see it from the other person's perspective." It was eerily reminiscent of that presidential debate where Jim Lehrer kept encouraging eventual Bears fan-in-chief Obama and Senator Get-Off-My-Lawn to – quote – "say it to him, not to me. Tell him."
To call the whole episode excruciating would be an insult to, um...crustaceans everywhere, I guess, and...well, let's just put it like this: It was more painful to watch than a thousand TiVo rewinds of Theisman's leg getting crushed by a pre-"Any Given Sunday" Lawrence Taylor on Monday Night; more awkward than your pick of Alex Trebek "Jeopardy" moments, including those mid-game contestant interviews AND clues when he uses an accent. And it was so cloying and self-congratulatory that, somewhere, even James Lipton shuddered (while his student-filled, "Inside the Actor's Studio" audience nodded, as they do, in cultish, dorky assent).
So a word to the wise, NFLN and all who walk your halls: Stick to reporting NFL stories and analyzing their outcomes. Leave the acting to the professionals – like Peyton (funny on purpose) and A-Rod (hilarious by accident).
Uncomfortable Timeline: (Ravens-to-Rams Edition)
February 28th, 2009...Ex-Ravens Center Jason Brown signs five-year deal with St. Louis Rams.
February 28th, 2009...Later that day, during his introductory press conference, Brown remarks on "that relationship between the quarterback and the offensive line, it's more important than what people think. Because we give that guy confidence." (Fair enough.)
February 28th, 2009 (one second later)...Brown says, "Kyle Boller, I love him to death. But you see what getting hit one too many times early in your career can do to you." (Hm...)
February 28th, 2009 (a millisecond after that)...Brown claims that Boller "became gun shy." (Ouch. That's gonna leave a mark, especially given Boller's pending free agency. Nothin' like your own teammate, a QB's own Center, calling your guts into question to hike up the old market-value!)
April 4th, 2009...Ex-Ravens QB Kyle "I can throw the ball 70 yards from my knees, it's the 15 yards standing up part that gives me trouble" Boller signs with – yep, you guessed it – Jason Brown's very own Rams de St. Louis. (AWK-ward...)
April 4th, 2009 (one second later)...Jason Brown and his agent confer on how many "ums" and "uhs" he should employ the first time he's set to hike the ball to his once and future teammate.
~ Congratulations to Josh McDaniels, winner of this week's "When Life (and/or your own knuckleheaded screw-up) Hands you Lemons, Make Lemonade" Award, for somehow landing on his feet with a Ditka-trading-for-Ricky Williams-level haul of picks and a QB who, while less talented, might be more of a fit for the Broncos offensive system. Well done. Quick question, though – can Kyle Orton play both ways?
~ On Wednesday, Jason Taylor, once and possible-future Dolphin (but not really), made some remarks sure to endear him to a New England fan-base eager for him to give them an edge in Gillette. Regarding the chances he would ever sign with the division rival New York Jets, the talented pass-rusher responded, "It'd be very, very, very difficult. Very difficult." (Thanks for that extra "very difficult," JT. We didn't get it from the THREE very's in the first sentence.) He followed that up with this gem: "At the end of the day, if you can't find a job anywhere else and the Jets call, I guess you've got to retire or go play." (I haven't sensed this much enthusiasm since that 8:30 Monday-Wednesday-Friday Calculus I took in college.)
Meanwhile, Taylor continues to try to play the 'phins card, in hopes of landing a better deal with Patriots. To that I offer this: Oh Jason, you're adorable. See ya on Monday night against the Bills.
~ Guess who the new Chicago Bears quarterback has a long-standing grudge against? Ron Turner, the offensive coordinator of - wait for it - the Chicago Bears! Apparently, back when he was being recruited out of high school, the new windy city QB and Turner, the then head coach at Illinois, went through some kind of "He Said, She Said" thing. (He said "You'd never officially been offered a scholarship so we never 'rescinded' it", She said "Oh yes I had, so...oh yes, you did!")
Whatever the case, is it possible anyone could still be holding a grudge? Let's ask the Monstrous of the Midway's dad, via ESPN.com: "It's not right. I still have a bitter taste in my mouth." Shocking, I know. (By the way, that sound you hear is a Nelson Muntz-like "HA ha!" emanating from points West and a Mile High.)
~ Speaking of the Bears, however you want to judge their BIG OFF-SEASON MOVE (judge it an overpay, if you have half a brain), they are suddenly making some interesting waves. Sure, they gave up a King's ransom for a guy who's not exactly a prince, but they acquired the best QB their town may have ever seen. (In a Bears uniform, anyway - I hear Favre and Moon could play a little.) And they'll be protecting the blind side of that big investment with recently acquired all-pro Left Tackle Orlando Pace. While it's true the hefty lefty may be a little past his prime, it's not exactly out-to-pasture time. And now Pace is trying to reel in another of head coach Lovie Smith's old Ram buddies, and "Out-Takes" favorite son, Torry Holt.
Say this for the folks in Chi-town - they've landed the biggest fish in this off-season's QB carousel, got themselves a future Hall of Famer at a key spot on the O-line, and they may just wind up with the best value the wide receiver market has seen in years. And don't even get me started on that Blagojevich guy. That dude is GOLD. Oh, also, I hear they've got a die-hard First Fan stashed somewhere in the D.C. area. So much for the "Second" City.
~ A quick shout-out to Jason Campbell, whose name was flying about prior to the Big Quarterback Trade last week. Reports had Campbell "pissed" about being shopped. His way of dealing with it? Recommitting himself to the position, to getting better, to proving management wrong - using the perceived diss as motivation to Be All He Can Be. Good for you, J-Cam. We'll be rooting for ya.*
John Cockrell is a screenwriter, whose other work has run the gamut from "Sesame Street Parents Magazine" to Playboy TV's "The Weekend Flash." (He figures everything else is pretty much in-between.)"