In a new featurette, we turn the traditional Mailbag on its head, and combine it with that old media standby, "An Open Letter to…"
Dear Jerry Jones… (Congrats & Relax.)
Kudos on the "Addition by Subtraction" policy you just had jammed down your throat by various Valley Ranch lobbyists, including your son Stephen. The new blueprint calls for de-soiling "them Cowboys" by digging up bad seeds like Terrell Owens and "Pacman" Jones, and setting them free. (If they come back to you, well…try throwing in a conditional draft pick.) Now, Jerry, we know what you're thinking…
JERRY: Keeping the reins loose worked so well in the 90's – remember our "White House" with its late-night parties, lap dances, booze, et cetera (and that was some powerful grade "et cetera!") Look at Michael Irvin – 'though he walked through the shadow of the valley of Death, the man ended up in the Hall of Fame, so how bad an influence could it have been?! I mean, they're just laps. And who doesn't like to dance?! For God's sake, Emmitt entered a CONTEST!!!
Okay, simmer down. You made the right decision. (And by "you" I mean "they.") Pacman has shown no sign whatsoever of turning himself around. Sure, he and his agent did float the idea of reverting to his given name, Adam. That lasted about a week. Then there's the "more gold teeth than a Flavor of Love marathon" issue. Look, far be it from me to pick on a legit cultural touchstone, I'm just saying…in terms of radiating a newfound sense of maturity, of "getting it," double-digit "action teeth" (look it up) probably isn't what Roger Goodell would call a "good" sign.
As for the other not-so-golden child, "The Terrell Owens Project" will soon be airing on VH1, tracking the star's life "outside of football." (Awesome call – what could possibly go wrong?!) Still wondering if letting him go was the right decision, Jerry? Well, the show also features Owens's publicists who are "more like T.O's sisters" and will function like "matchmakers and therapists." (The Trainwreck-slash-Inadvertent Comedy Quotient for this is sky high – is it possible to pre-order a Season Pass?!)
Otherwise, Mr. Jones, so far, so good. You kept the right Roy Williams and his Pro Bowl wideout skills, and you dumped the other Roy Williams and his iffy speed. (And angles. And coverage.) You showed support for top-notch tight end Jason Witten, as well as for Tony Romo, which I'm pretty sure is Italian for "QB who pretends to like country music, but we get it." So congrats on the turn-around, JJ, even if it's not what your instincts told you to do. Remember: Off-field chemistry translates to on-field chemistry. Also, instinct is what led to you having that "lady-face," so…
Dear Bill Belichick… (You're Welcome.)
None of us will be surprised if you, your infuriatingly youthful Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio, and the other Reese's pieces decide to deal one of the Patriots' three 2nd round picks for a future #1. The more things change, the more they stay the same, and all that. HOWEVER, for the love of God, do not trade the #34 selection that KC sent you for Cassel. (Unless it's for Julius Peppers.)
As folks like me are sure you're more than aware, that pick – especially in this prospect-rich draft class – is essentially a 1st rounder with a 2nd round price-tag, and who values Value more than you, Mr. Bill? You're the guy who turned "Thrift Shop" into a verb.
So. Want my totally unsolicited, possibly knuckleheaded advice? (I know, I know – but play along.) Make your first two picks, #23 and #34, then trade one of the remaining potential Bethel Johnson/Chad Jackson-types. You'll be glad you did.
Dear James Hardy, former #81 of the Bills… (Have You Been Buffaloed?)
Hey, um…listen. Generally, when some new Big Shot comes to your team and wants "his" number, but that number currently falls under the heading of "your" number, he gives you something. Like…money (in the thousands, comma, tens of) or, say, a case of Scotch, a Plasma TV, a Rolex, a Wii system, whatever. Something.
Take current NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders, a guy who CBS once paid a million dollars to accurately predict 1 out of every 3 football games while wearing a series of increasingly ludicrous, feather-bedecked hats. Back in his Cowboy days, to land his precious #21, Sanders gave rookie Alundis Brice a BMW 325i as a token of appreciation and a nod to his NFL-themed flamboyance.
Meanwhile, James, when the Bills signed T.O. last week, it was just assumed he'd take your number. But think about that: Owens is new in town, he's desperate to get off on the right foot – 'cause you never get a second chance to make a fourth bad impression. He was in what the experts call a TERRIBLE BARGAINING POSITION. So why not ask for the Moon? Let me tell you why not...
'Cause you're a good guy. 'Cause you're why folks like me, despite all our smart-ass comments, love sports, and why we love the quirky stumblings toward people who are fun to root for. On Sirius radio earlier this week, you expressed your appreciation for the respect Bills management paid in asking your permission for the number-switch. "T.O. is a Hall of Fame receiver," you said. "It was really an honor for me to give him the number."
Not so fast, James. It's T.O.'s honor to accept it from a stand-up person like you. Got it? Now. Where should he park that beemer?
Happy St. Patrick's Day! (Now get out.)
Earlier this week – on St. Patrick's Day, appropriately enough – Barack "O'Bama" & McFriends announced that Dan Rooney – of the "Pittsburgh Steeler" Rooneys – will be asked to leave the country. More accurately, he's been tapped to be the new administration's nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, which begs a few questions…
Given how fortune has favored the Black Gold in each of their last two Super Bowls, particularly their "win" against Seattle (Still can't find that hold, Mr. Locklear, but we'll keep looking!), doesn't moving the Steelers even closer to the "luck o' the Irish" constitute overkill?
Question two: It's common knowledge that our fledgling President is a veteran Chicago sports fan – you'll recall his donning a Bears cap and asking, "Are you ready for some football?!" a couple years back. Can we hope that this is part of his secret plan to weaken the team currently at the top of the heap? (Yes We Can!)
And finally, might there be an opening in Luxemburg for, say…James Harrison?
Michael Strahan's New Career (Self-Serve Dentist? Sadly, no.)
In one of the oddest three-word headlines you may ever see – aside from "Screech Wins Oscar!" or "Kruk Goes Vegan!" – the good folks at ProFootballTalk.com, via Variety, recently came out with this doozey: "Strahan Gets Sitcom."
Wow. If Variety can be trusted – and, being that it covers the ludicrous, high-school-with-money world of showbiz, that's not exactly a chip-shot – Hall of Fame-bound Michael Strahan may be on the verge of challenging David Letterman as Hollywood's favorite "gap-toothed funny man" – minus the "funny," one assumes. Variety reports that "Brothers" is the working title of the Fox project. (I report that "Brothers" is the not-at-all-working title of the Fox project.)
The hook for the show goes a little something like this: Ex-NFL type reunites with family and realizes you can go home again and, frankly, you should, 'cause your brother's in a wheelchair. "Ohhhh," you're thinking, "it's a wheelchair comedy! Make way for the funny!" Actually, that's unfair. Seinfeld *managed to excavate a yuk or two out of such scenarios. Who will ever forget, "It's just a matter of common courtesy – you come in the house, you wipe your wheels!" But still, that was *Seinfeld, this is Strahan. Moving on…
Set to film what Hollywood-ese calls a "laffer pilot," the former Giants All Pro has appeared previously as the host of Spike TV's Pros vs. Joes and "guested" on the ABC series Chuck. Curiously, Variety makes no mention of Strahan's most notable acting credit: "Guy who pretends Favre didn't just lie down to hand him the single-season sack record." (Is there such thing as a retroactive Emmy?)
~ Somebody wake me when Julius Peppers switches teams. Until then, Carucci & Schefter can continue counting their kick-backs from the world's NFL Message Board providers, who saw hits & views spike a billion-fold in light of exhausted, exhausting rumor-mills.
~ Earlier this week, the NFL Players Association elected some guy named DeMaurice Smith as the person we'll blame for the upcoming work stoppage. In equally exciting news, I bought a pair of socks at Target.
~ In light of Jacksonville's release of wide receiver Matt Jones (and the drug charges and 70s porn 'stache that go with him), University of Florida WR Percy Harvin had this to say: "I think with Jones gone, a lot of receivers gotta be licking their chops a little bit." No word from chubby offensive line prospect Andre Smith, the guy who puts the OL in AWOL, but it's safe to say that he, too, will be licking his chops, but, ya know…literally. Ah, Andre Smith, the gift that keeps on giving (himself cake to eat).
~ And finally…a hearty congrats to new Chiefs GM and old friend Scott Pioli, this week's recipient of the George W. Bush "Fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – ya can't get fooled again!" Award, presented to the NFL Exec with the emotional fortitude and/or absent-mindedness required to sign linebacker Monty Beisel twice.
Best of luck, Scott! If memory serves – and there's no sign that it does – you'll need it.
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.)"