"Out-Takes" Mocks the Patriots
It's Christmas Eve, football-wise, and the Pats are on the clock...again & again & again...
Round 1: DARIUS BUTLER, CB, UConn (This athletic corner from the N.E.ighborhood brings great hands, athleticism and two names evocative of merry old England. How do you not pick him?)
Round 2a: LARRY ENGLISH, OLB, Northern Illinois (A small-school pass-rusher who shined at the Senior Bowl? Sounds like the perfect "mentee" for another small-school pass-rusher and big-time free agent who made his name - Taylor - shining at a Senior Bowl back in his Akron days.)
Round 2b: WILLIAM MOORE, S, Missouri (Rodney Harrison 2.0 falls into round 2.0. The Pats thank their lucky stars and the stay in school crowd for discouraging Moore from coming out after a spectacular Junior year.)
Round 2c: PAT WHITE, QB/RB/WR/wildcat-of-all-trades, West Virginia (He's Percy Harvin with an arm and the right kind of positive test. His Wonderlic.)
Round 3a: TRADED for a 2nd rounder in 2010 (Had to happen at least once, right?)
Round 3b: TYRONE MCKENZIE, LB, South Florida (Answering with a resounding "um...maybe!" the question, "Is it possible for the Boston sports scene to include pretty much everyone who sounds even remotely Irish?")
Round 4: TREVOR CANFIELD, OG, Cincinnati (Hey, Boomer, for the record, I - not you - came up with "Trevor 'Yes We' Canfield," so tread carefully when it comes to nicknaming this versatile o-lineman.)
Round 5: JOE BURNETT, CB, Central Florida (Check out the three S's - size, speed, school. If it walks like Asante, and talks like Asante... Well, *nobody * talks like Asante, but you get the point.)
Round 6: (Bowing to tradition, this selection TRADED to facilitate one of the earlier 2's or 3's.)
Round 6: BEAR PASCOE, TE, Fresno State (Phenomenal name + Belichick pipeline = Destiny)
Round 7: STEPHEN MCGEE, QB, Texas A&M (Always good to sign an athletic, developmental QB, as long as the words "Kliff" and "Kingsbury" are nowhere to be found.)
UDFA: At least one WR and at least one HUSKY, and not just so Butler won't get lonely.
Trumpeting "Voluntary": Volume 2
In a continuation of last week's story on Maurice Jones-Drew and his attempt to tick the Jags off, we find a lesser player with greater gumption...
Next up on our tour of footballers choosing not to participate in voluntary workouts is...um...hold on, this can't be right...who? Really? Huh. O-kay... Ladies and gents, Out-Takes is proud to present...3rd-string quarterback ERIK AINGE of the New York Jets! Yep, THAT Erik Ainge. The one whose rookie year ended up 4 games short of a full slate when a drug test came back a Palin-esque "YOU BETCHA!" for a banned diuretic. The one whose team's QB situation is totally, some might say inexplicably, up-in-the-air.
Yes, in a display of confidence in their trio of young signal-callers, the new-fangled Jets - now with 100% extra Rex! - chose not to pursue any of the available proven veterans. Trade for a Cassel or Cutler? Nah. Bring in Jeff Garcia or Byron Leftwich to mentor their stable of fledgling QBs? No way, no how, no thanks. Gang Green, for better or worse (bet on "worse"), is sticking to its young guns:
1) the aforementioned Ainge, nephew to former journeyman Blue Jay outfielder Danny Ainge. (I hear he could shoot a little hoop, too. By the way, get well soon, #44.)
2) the other Mormon Jet QB, name of Brett (no, not Favre. Ratliff. By the way, wouldn't Brett Favre make just about the worst Mormon ever? Okay, fine - Flavor Flave takes that prize, obviously, but still, #4's gotta be top 5.)
3) and finally, some kid called Kellen, who I'm pretty sure never dreamed he'd end up as New York fandom's "Clemens" of choice. (Speaking of Roger...sometimes Karma's just no fun. Also no fun? Having a personal trainer with a memory, a grudge and, possibly, your DNA on a swab.)
So it is in this context - wherein one of the world's 32 starting NFL quarterback jobs is up for grabs - that Erik Ainge has made the mind-boggling decision to NOT show up for every second of the wide-open competition; to NOT open "real" training camp on even footing with the other QBs; to NOT make a favorable first impression on New York's brand new coaching staff. Erik Ainge: that rare breed of 5th round pick comfortable living by the mantra, "It's the least I could do."
Preemptive post-script: Yes, we here at Out-Takes are fully aware that Erik Ainge's uncle had a heart-attack. (You can tell we're aware because we mention it above.) But, in the spirit of A Few Good Men: The defense is willing to concede that Erik Ainge may have missed some workouts due to this family emergency if readers are willing to concede that Ainge was already missing workouts *prior * to the Celtics GM falling ill. (If readers choose to further concede "that none of them were in Dawson and Downey's room at 16:20 on August 6th," well, all the better.)
Not to both rhyme AND keep harping on the Jets, but...let's!
Over the course of this off-season it has been a secret to no one that the knob marked BLUSTER in the offices of new Jets head coach Rex Ryan very clearly "goes to eleven." This week that idea was underlined, bolded and highlighted-in-yellow when recently inked linebacker BART SCOTT let slip the new Jersey attitude. Apparently it can be summed up in one asinine, embarrassing, made-up-on-the-spot-of-a-VH1-dating-show sounding word: "Swagger-licious."
Inspiring the newly coined term was none other than the head coach himself, who marked his first mini-camp practice by encouraging his players to "be loud" and "laugh" and "smile." Not exactly your typical pro sports mindset, but credit Rex for originality in test-driving "turn that frown upside-down" as a legit team-building mantra.
This departure from the dour mood set by former HC of the NYJ Eric Mangini led interior lineman Damien Woody (whose "Dances with Wolves" name is "Center without Shotgun Snap") to quip, "We have to deprogram ourselves. I never had a coach tell a team to have more fun." (Rumors that Gang Green's 2009 team-building to-do list includes "bake sales," "nap time" and "water slide - yay!!!" could not be confirmed as Out-Takes went to press.)
But it was Ryan's hope for improved linebacking who spelled out the new Jet HQ philosophy in true Swagger-licious form. Take it away, Bart: "When people from your neighborhood go into somebody else's neighborhood, you don't go in there quietly. You go kicking and screaming. It's like, 'We're here, what's up?!'"
Pssst. Bart. Hey. Come 'ere. Um, that whole "your neighborhood" thing? It's called "Giants Stadium." So, maybe, not so much with the kicking and screaming. Maybe focus on the smiling.
~ After a lengthy period of speculation, ANDRE SMITH, chubby offensive line prospect and Out-Takes punching bag (hey Andre, there's a thought - maybe consider the punching-bag), finally fired his agent last week. Wondering why? Well, it probably had something to do with force-feeding Smith Dunkin' Munchkins 'round the clock and pushing him on his Pro Day to - quote - "free-ball it, up top, kid! Show 'em whatcha got!" (This, of course, didn't actually happen, but I kinda wish it did, and I kinda would've put it up on YouTube if it had.)
~ This week, in a mad dash to capture the newly minted Maurice Jones-Drew "NOW you tell me!" Award for poorly timed hard-line negotiating, SHELDON BROWN demanded a new contract from the Eagles only weeks after they traded away a key piece of their defensive backfield depth in Lito Sheppard. This is the same Sheldon Brown with FOUR YEARS remaining on a long-term deal he signed a short time ago, when Philly took a chance on him, extending the South Carolina product early into his promising career. Now all that's promised is yet another athlete not living up to his contract; one more guy who makes picking sides in the upcoming CBA battle as simultaneously easy and distasteful as we all assume Britney Spears is.
~ Speaking of the Iggles, they just traded a bounty for ex-Bills LT Jason Peters. In a related story, Buffalo QB Trent Edwards has added to his off-season regimen the fine art of ducking.
~ For the love of Goodell, will someone please, PLEASE jam a new, NBA-like slotting system down the collective throat of the only group it wouldn't benefit - NFL agents? Whatever salary savings that result can be spread around the roster to proven veterans. I mean, really, what's the harm in making these talented rookies earn monster paydays a few years down the line, as opposed to the merely huge one they currently "earn" before playing a single snap? This would go a long way in helping restore the draft as a tool intended to make bad franchises good again. It would also protect teams from blowing millions on "can't-miss" prospects like Tony "best offensive line prospect ever" Mandarich and Ryan "Don't talk to me, alright?! KNOCK IT OFF!" Leaf. (Best, most Google-worthy "Locker Rooms Gone Wild!" vid ever.)
God bless the Good Guys...
With all these stories swirling about rookies-to-be angling for gargantuan future contracts and free agents-to-be trying to wrangle out of their current ones, it was nice to hear from once and future NFL players who, while, yes, still stand to make ridiculous money, at least have the common courtesy to show a little common courtesy:
Wake Forest linebacker AARON CURRY, negotiating with the Lions to be the #1 overall taken in the 2009 draft, had no problem letting anyone and everyone know he'd be willing to buck tradition and sign for less money than last year's top draftee, Dolphin offensive tackle Jake Long.
"I'd me more than happy to accept that deal. If they were to approach us with a deal and it is feasible, my plan is to be in camp, on time and having fun." ("Fun?" Who the hell does this kid think he's gonna be playing for, Rex Ryan?!)
Then there's Patriots Pro Bowl defensive tackle, VINCE WILFORK, currently hammering out parameters on a long-term pact with New England.
"I know they have the draft coming up. As long as we're on the same page, I don't care that we can't do anything right now. I'm in no rush. I'm going to give them time to handle whatever they need to handle. They know I want to be a Patriot. I've said it from Day One. I meant that sincerely."
That sound you hear is our collective faith being restored. (At least until the Bengals sign Vick.)
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.)"