Brad Childress, High School Musical
According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the day after the NFL Draft, Vikings head coach and Out-Takes whipping boy "Major BRAD" CHILDRESS continued what is fast becoming his trademark "catty schoolgirl" routine. While presumably twirling (what's left of) his hair, smacking his bubblegum and chatting with his "Facebook BFFs!" over by, like, those lockers near the cafeteria, Childress claimed with cheerleader-flavored glee that, when it came to Vikings #1 pick PERCY HARVIN, "New England was right in there!" (Rumors that Shannon Doherty will play Childress in the Lifetime remake of "Heathers" proved false despite an eerie whiff of accuracy.)
"They didn't think we'd take him [because of off-field] issues!" said Childress, somehow managing to rub his hands together while simultaneously patting himself on the back. (Way to reference the "Love Boat" scandal, Brad - I'm sure owner Zygi Wilf appreciates you bringing it up.)
Childress went on to gush that New England - quote - "thought they could hold...and he'd come to them!" (Right. Because the Patriots didn't have a zillion draft picks, because they aren't known for being active on draft day. God knows they'd never trade a stray 4th rounder to a team a spot or two ahead of the Vikings, especially since Minnesota was widely rumored to be angling for Harvin in the run-up to the draft.)
"They were...working him out the day after I was there! [Percy] wasn't supposed to tell anybody, and I was trying to pull that out of him, who that was. So it was a little cat-and-mouse game."
Oh boy. Where to start? How 'bout here - 31-7. That's the score of the last game Childress tried to play with the Patriots, the only one that counts. Sure, there was that whole lording practice-squader Garrett Mills over New England's head a couple years back, but that was as silly as this latest episode. If Childress honestly believes that he snookered Bill Belichick, if he wants to revel in this tiny, petty triumph, well...here's a couple other draftees "stolen" out from under the Patriots: DeWayne Robertson and Vernon Gholston.
As for Harvin, he's a talented - if, um, "dehydrated" - player who could turn an Adrian Peterson-centric, rush-first offense into a multidimensional, dynamic one. But, Brad, there are two words you might want to keep in mind as you snicker and roll your eyes along with the other Hannah Montana-types. (Hint: the first one is "Sage.")
Preemptive Post-Script: I know what you're thinking. "What about the latest QB news out of Minnesota? Wasn't there just some secret meeting between Childress and Legacy-Destroying signal-caller Brett Favre?!" Some Yahoo says no, but we think it's wise to withhold judgment for a few more weeks. But don't worry, we'll get to Favre and his Abbott & Costello-ish "He Said, HE Said" routine soon enough. We just need a sec' to adjust to the new AQ ("Annoyance Quotient" is how I put it in polite company; in private the A stands for something else). Let's ease into it...
Oh How the Mighty Have Fallen
EXT. LAMBEAU FIELD - January 2003
MICHAEL VICK - the NFL's brightest star, its precursor to LeBron (the hoops version-to-come turned out a bit better) - marches onto the storied Frozen Tundra to lead his upstart Falcons to a 27-7 thumping of the league's mightiest hero, BRETT FAVRE, and his seemingly invincible, Lambeau-leaping teammates. Favre's perfect record in home games played at 34 or below? Snapped. Vick's coronation as next "It Girl" of the NFL? Complete. His penchant for "criminal dog-play?" Still a dirty little secret, lashed to a pole somewhere in the dark, dank dungeons of the Southern psyche and his home on Moonlight Road. DISSOLVE TO:
SIX YEARS LATER...
Vick stands - or..."sits in his cell" or "hangs in the yard," whatever - less than a month shy of his release from prison on federal, not to mention despicable, dog-fighting charges. (By the way, I think "dog-fighting" should always come with its own judgy italics and punctuation, as in..."Dog-fighting?! What a tool.") So anyway, six years after closing up shop at his aptly named "Bad Newz Kennels," the coolest, most compelling athlete in the country's coolest, most compelling sport, has gone from "historic post-season victor" to "huddled with Tony Dungy and not in the good way" and "negotiating with PETA" (also not in the good way, but that's implied). Quite a nosedive.
Brett Favre, on the other hand, remains a Super Bowl champ, an all-time great, and the NFL's ultimate folk hero, even after that shocking loss in '03. The story he has etched - in stone, no matter what - is flashy but gritty, heroic yet broken, marvelous and, for all its marvels, deeply human. And despite an unabashed love of hunting, #4 remains clear of PETA's top ten. But...
While it's fair - and important - to point out that Favre is no criminal whatsoever, it's hard to miss the tarnish that's begun to creep, like ivy on Wrigley brick, all over his once sterling reputation. Back in 2003 it would've been impossible to imagine anything the beloved football icon could possibly do to offset the abundant goodwill flowing from every corner of the game. But...
Then came the back-and-forth retirement talk, the constant blare of "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" (We prefer the constant blare of the Clash's version.) Then the Green Bay F.O., forced back on its heels by the wishy-washy vet: "Do we sign back-up Aaron Rodgers long-term? Can free agency forays count on cap-savings coming from a pending retirement? How does this affect our draft? Oh wait, you're UNRETIRING now?" Then came the acrimony, the bruised egos and tit for tat, the forced trade to the Jets and Favre's iffy Jersey Era, old news before it began. But, okay, fine. Retired - he means it this time. Except...
Now he's pulling it again. And I can't keep that classic George Carlin line out of my head: "Rid Yourself of Doubt. Or Should You?" Because that's what we keep getting from this guy. Done. Kaput. But wait. Maybe not. Maybe the Jets could release me. Just so I can pull one of those "sign for a day and retire as a Packer" things, you know - for old times sake. Except...
Favre recently scheduled a meeting with Vikings coach Brad Childress. (Him again. Did you hear he stole Percy Harvin?!) And then - wait for it... - he cancelled. (Say this, the man's consistent.) Amidst the swirl of this annual soap opera came word that Brett is "bitter" and "can't stand Green Bay" and wants to say "I told you so." Meanwhile, what does Favre actually say, what words does he choose? "At this time I am retired and have no intention of returning to football."
Don't worry about the last part of that sentence. Just focus on the first three words: "At this time." That's all you need to know. And while we're counting words, here's five more: "Vick's out in two weeks." It's a long way from the Frozen Tundra.
~ In last week's Out-Takes, we referred to a Patriots draft pick we claimed to really like as "Ron Ohrnbeger." While we're sure there is at least one perfectly likeable Ron Ohrnberger out there, it's worth acknowledging that the "Ron Ohrnberger" we like so much is actually named RICH. (And, no, the irony that we managed to get "Ohrnberger" right while getting "Rich" wrong is not lost on us.)
~ On Wednesday, ESPN's JOHN CLAYTON reported that free-agent Jason Taylor "will probably sign with either the New England Patriots or Miami Dolphins." Thaaaaanks, Professor. Congrats on scooping my Mom AND NO ONE ELSE.
~ Am I being too cynical if I see ERIC MANGINI's bid last month to have Favre hold some kind of symposium for the pup Cleveland QBs as some kind of pathetic last-ditch effort to justify naming his kid after him?
~ In a story that had all of us checking our calendars to see if the first week of May had somehow reverted to the first day of April, some fools down in Miami have decided to grant naming rights – which, for the Dolphins organization should really be referred to as "re-naming rights" – to musician Jimmy Buffet's Land Shark Lager.
According to the Miami Herald, Dolphins Stadium, formerly known as Pro Player Stadium, formerly known as Joe Robbie Stadium, will now be known as "LAND SHARK STADIUM." Allow me to be the one millionth person to make a "Candygram" reference and then explain it to all my under-30 friends.
~ Recently word got out that Indy O-line coach HOWARD MUDD has decided to get out, too. But one wonders, Why now? Sure, that Texans D is edging toward formidable, but Jacksonville's 2008 WR corps just got a group-rate on A&E's "Intervention" and Tennessee let Haynesworth split for Snyder-ville AND passed on Torry Holt! The 1st place Colts are back, baby! What gives?
Well, back in March, the NFL Owners got together to vote (never a good sign) on whether or not teams should be permitted to opt out of the league-run pension plan. A bunch of CEOs deciding on Health & Retirement benefits for their workers – what could possibly go wrong?! Fearing a severe downturn in his pension package, Howard is now looking to join head coach-cum-Spiritual Guru Tony Dungy in hanging 'em up. Which works out quite nicely when you think about it. After all, Dungy's right at home with the "Your Name is Mudd" crowd. Just ask Prisoner Number Dog-fight.
Thoughts & Prayers...
The NFL saw a lot of tough situations this week, not the least of which was the collapse of the DALLAS PRACTICE BUBBLE and the havoc it wreaked on the lives of too many families, not just the Cowboys' extended one. Reports had 12 people injured on Saturday, and the circles of all those people who worry move out concentrically to friends and loved ones, nearby and world's away.
Here's to JERRY JONES stepping up and doing the right thing for folks, especially scout RICH BEHM and his family, whose lives, while not over, not by a long shot, have been profoundly altered. We expect nothing less from the owner of "dem Cowboys," and we hope that Behm can show the world, if he wants, that scouting happens from the neck up, and not the waist down.
As for special teams coach JOE DECAMILLIS, the news is better. Successful back surgery is the best kind of back surgery we can think of, and reports of his release from the hospital bring sighs of relief and "it could've been so much worse." Glad he's out the door and on the mend.
In a tough-luck story nudged toward Perspective by the one you just read, Patriots rookie linebacker TYRONE MCKENZIE reportedly suffered a season-ending knee injury in mini-camp last week. While this is of course regrettable news, Out-Takes refuses to count out a successful professional career for a guy whose successful college career was marked by staring down adversity and kicking it in the teeth. So get fixed up, kid, and keep your chin that way, too. NFL-sanctioned rehab has to beat the Hampton Inn graveyard shift, right? See you in 2010.
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.)"