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Friday Out-Takes: Knee Injuries- Broadway to Brady

Every Friday, John Cockrell will offer up his perspective on the latest NFL developments that catch his eye. His views are his own, not those of the Patriots.

Knee Injuries, from Broadway to Brady*A (Very) Brief and Totally

Incomplete History*

WILL CARROLL, Senior Writer for Baseball Prospectus and Executive Editor of Puck Prospectus (readership: Denis Leary, Michael J. Fox and the cast of SCTV), recently offered BILL SIMMONS and his B.S. Report podcast an interesting POV on a topic with which NFL fans are becoming all too familiar - knee injuries. As every other breathless media hack reports on the status of TOM BRADY, just the latest NFL player looking to return from what a Japanese game show might call an "all-season, no-fun knee-zone party!", Carroll's look back at a pair of iconic American athletes illustrates how far sports medicine has come in a relatively short time.

When we think JOE NAMATH, phosphorescent images pop like so many flashes of the New York paparazzi: the most famous guarantee of all time; Broadway Joe in pantyhose, the thrill of victory personified as it traipses off the field, its #1 finger thrust, defiant, in the air. And a career affected, and ultimately cut short, by a long ago injured MCL.

Flash forward to 1984 and another MCL injury in almost the exact same location, but on a body as different from Namath's as they come. (On the other hand, in terms of tone and personality, the athlete in question could be his little sister.) A mere two weeks after suffering the same injury, a spunky young Olympian put on a performance for the ages, leaving an indelible print on the world sports landscape. Lighting up Tinseltown with her indefatigable energy and 200-watt smile, MARY LOU RETTON brought home the gold by sticking every landing (including the one on the Wheaties box) and, one imagines, helped in some small, tangential way to blaze a trail for Katie Couric's peppy little star to rise.

Flash forward again, this time to the present and New England's #12, poised to come back from a far more serious injury - an injury that in the past would've been a career-ender. BRADY joins BERNARD KING, CARSON PALMER, TIGER WOODS, JERRY RICE, LEE EVANS and WILLIS MCGAHEE on the ever-growing list of athletes who stared down A, C and L and made it all the way B, A, C and K.

It makes us wonder, how will sports medicine be looked at twenty years from now? Will the tear of an Anterior Cruciate Ligament be shrugged off as just a two-week bump in the road? Will a shredded Achilles or an injured hip be treated with as little sturm und drang as an ankle sprain today? And for the love of God, will someone please invent a machine that allows us to see what BO JACKSON could've really done? ("Bo knows Time Travel.")

Kerry Rhodes, Take Two

Last week Out-Takes featured comments from talented, young Jets safety KERRY RHODES ("We will be the best defense in the league this year. I feel for the offenses we're gonna face.") and thought, "Come on, Kerry - you're better than that!" One week later, turns out, he is.

In an interview with Jets beat writer RICH CIMINI of the New York Daily News, the Pro Bowl DB was asked about the blockbuster deal (and its team-record $28 mill in guaranteed money) signed by #5 overall pick, quarterback MARK SANCHEZ. While stopping short of criticizing the guy Jet Nation is praying will turn into the Ryan/Flacco they've been fantasizing about while blogging in their poster-lined basements since draft day, Rhodes was honest (and wise) enough to say, "There should be a rookie salary cap. A lot of players come in and haven't earned it yet. To have that much money right away is a huge step up without seeing what they can do on the field."

Out-Takes couldn't agree more. (See our subtly self-congratulatory pronouncement of Rhodes as "wise.") Far too often these days, talented, valuable vets are let go to clear cap space for untested prospects. Some of the rooks pan out - the aforementioned brass rings, JOE FLACCO and MATT RYAN, for instance - but those players represent the exception, not the rule. For every Flacco, there's a Leaf. (For every Ryan, there's

This is not the first time Out-Takes has hoisted the "rookie salary cap" flag, and it likely won't be the last. From the looks of things, most players are in favor of the idea. Ditto for the owners. Fans and people who enjoy logic are for it, too. In fact, the only folks against a rookie wage scale seem to be the agents, who are sure to come armed with hollow arguments and empty threats.

In reply, we bring you PRESIDENT JACKSON EVANS, by which we mean JEFF BRIDGES, by which we really mean writer/director ROD LURIE, whose top-notch political thriller "The Contender" (a must-rent), put it best: "You come at us with whatever weapons that you have in your arsenal, but there is no weapon as powerful as that of an idea whose time has come."

So, with that, and in the span of seven days, Out-Takes completes the full 360. We ask Kerry Rhodes not to shut up, but to keep on talking. "Rookie Salary Cap." It's the new "Yes We Can."

Blooper Reel

~ On Monday, the Quarterback Who Shall Not Be Named gave a deeply embarrassing interview, in hopes, we guess, of fitting in with HBO's embarrassing new program Joe Buck Live, the latest - and earliest ever - entry into the Awkward Talk Show Hall of Fame. (An HBO press release Out-Takes is currently making up on the fly has this to say: "Magic? Chevy? Sajak? We're gunnin' for YOU!")

More than once during the Q & A, the afore-kind-of-mentioned QB used the pronoun "we" re: the MINNESOTA VIKINGS. (So much for being coy.) You'd think he'd have some sense of decorum but, then, maybe he wants to fit in with them, too. After all, this is a team whose coach has taken to dressing up in a brown-spiked wig and gushing that "I wore it to the Senior Bowl with a little bit of a beard and some sunglasses! I looked 15 people that I know pretty well in the face. They didn't know who it was! Including members of my staff!" (Brad Childress. What a pro.)

As for that mixed looks like a fait accompli that - and here we'll opt for code, just to keep the mystery alive - he'll sign with "the purple team," alienate the fan-base of "the cheese team" and completely damage his legacy. (Legacy = code for "What legacy?") Who knew he'd ever do anything more embarrassing than big-boy braces and There's Something About Mary?

~ Keeping up with a story we've been tracking for awhile now, paralyzed Cowboys scout RICH BEHM, who returned home from the hospital last week, returned to practice this week. The Dallas Morning News reports that Behm watched from the press box and is expected to resume his duties in the scouting and video departments as the season approaches. Attaboy.

~ This week's "The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same" Award goes to... It's a three-way tie! T.O.'s still Twittering about house mishaps in Buffalo, RYAN LEAF still has a drug and/or burglary problem in Texas (once he's, ya know...extradited) and Oakland's first two '09 draft picks, DARRIUS HEYWARD-BEY and MIKE MITCHELL, still have injured hamstrings. (But when they don't, we bet they're wicked fast!)

~ Can JOSH MCDANIELS catch a break? More to the point, can he catch a pass? Because at this rate, the Broncos may need him to line up opposite second-year wideout EDDIE ROYAL. Earlier this week, news broke that Pro Bowl wide receiver BRANDON MARSHALL has requested a trade due to a contract squabble. (Shocking, we know.) The three-year veteran has been holding out, missing mandatory mini-camp and risking fines of up$26K? That's it? (Don't expect him anytime soon, Josh.) Meanwhile, somewhere East of the Rockies...

...a QB named CUTLER, the guy who puts the "Jay" in juvenile, no doubt tittered gleefully while chiming in with a not at all helpful quote regarding Marshall's contract in Denver: "If you look at it from his perspective, I can see where he's coming from." Hard to imagine Cutler finding the time to throw out snarky, hectoring quotes like that, what with learning a new playbook and adjusting to a new city. But it's important to keep in mind that the man - and we use the term loosely - freed up his busy schedule recently by refusing autograph requests at Wrigley Field. Hard to believe, even for him, but we're not making this up. Here's to Cub fans having memories like elephants when they turn into Bears fans, come Fall. But back to Josh...

Remember when it seemed like he'd landed the plum job of the entire off-season? How he got hired by the one team with a proven quarterback, a talented offense overall and an ownership situation second to few? Remember that? (Neither does he.)

~ Recently, following what he described as "brunch with a friend," apparent Sex and the City aficionado-slash-Jets tight end DUSTIN KELLER was chased up a 12-foot fence by a dog. Squealed Keller, "The height was almost more shocking than the fact I was attacked by a crazy pit bull!" Good to see not every pro athlete buys into that whole uber-stoic machismo thing.

Rumors that Carol Channing will play Keller in the (Lifetime) movie of this incident -

"The Dustin Keller Story: Why'd I Ever Tell It?" - couldn't be confirmed at press time, but we can confirm the first signs of blowback from the MICHAEL VICK monstrosity. Glad the canines are aiming higher than James Harrison's son and/or masseuse.

And finally...

Time Flies and the World Keeps Spinning

Saturday marked one lightning-fast year since the untimely passing of one of our country's most passionate fans and all around good guys. The unabashed embodiment of one "town," and one team's fan-base, passed on far too soon and, tragically, just weeks before the run-up to what would have been a seminal highlight in an already hall of fame-worthy professional career.

TIM RUSSERT followed football and his beloved BUFFALO BILLS with the same mix of good humor, emotional investment and seriousness of purpose that he brought to the political arena. It remains a loss for us and a shame for him to have missed the chance to cover a truly momentous chapter in our nation's story - the historic Presidential run of a skinny kid with a funny name - and Sundays, still, just won't be the same.

So, in honor of this bigger-than-life NFL everyman, this shameless-in-the-best-way homer, and the one year anniversary of his passing, Out-Takes would like to fill a moment of silence with an unspoken but heartfelt cheer for Buffalo's favorite son in saying:

Let's. Go. Bills. (Just not in weeks one and fifteen.)*

*He seemed like the kind of guy who'd understand.

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.)"

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