Posted: Monday April 25, 2005 9:40AM; Updated: Monday April 25, 2005 4:59PM
Quote of the Week
"When life gives you lemons, you've got to make lemonade.'' -- Former New Orleans and Carolina linebacker and assistant coach Sam Mills, who died last week after a 21-month bout with intestinal cancer.
I have covered some good men during my 21 years on the football beat. Anthony Munoz comes to mind. Frank Reich. Mark Bavaro. Jim Breech. Steve Young. Don Hasselbeck. His son Matt. Hines Ward. Kurt Warner. Derrick Brooks. But none better than Sam Mills. We talked 10 or 15 times over the years, including once over dinner before a Panthers playoff game in the franchise's early days. And the guy just wouldn't give himself credit for anything. Jim Mora deserved praise for giving him a chance, Carl Peterson for signing him, Bill Kuharich for scouting him, Dom Capers for coaching him, Rickey Jackson and Vaughn Johnson for freeing him up to be a Pro Bowl linebacker in New Orleans. Mills was just a remarkably self-effacing person -- and not self-effacing in the phony way. He meant every word.
When he was diagnosed with cancer almost two years ago, he knew, and those around him knew, that things didn't look good. When he'd talk to his former teammates and current players who'd say things about how unfair life was, he'd say things like: Is it fair for anyone to get cancer? And he told Eric Davis, then a Panthers corner, the quote about the lemons.
"What's remarkable,'' Carolina coach John Fox told me at the time, "is how he goes for chemotherapy in the morning ... and this is no easy chemo, this is killer chemo. And he comes back and goes to work like nothing is happening. You know, you say, 'How you feeling?' And he's like, 'Fine. Feel great.' And you know there's no way he's feeling good. Every person in this organization is inspired by him. Every one.''
As were many people outside the organization, including me.
Stat of the Week
The first round of the draft began at 12:13 p.m. Eastern time Saturday. It ended at 6:02 p.m. That's five hours, 39 minutes for 32 selections ... an average of 11 minutes per pick. There were only two trades in the round. In other words, there was a whole lot of sitting around going on. As the Fort Worth Star-Telegram'sRandy Galloway wrote: "Hollywood marriages don't last this long.''
Just one question for the NFL: Is there any good reason -- other than debuting a new video game -- for the time limit of first-round picks to be 15 minutes instead of 10?
I guess I just answered my own question, didn't I?
The draft is a barrel of fun. Christmas in April. But are you aware that if every team took the 15 allowable minutes per pick, the first round would end at 8:10 p.m. Eastern time?
Why does it take longer than a 15-inning baseball game for teams to select one round of a football draft?
Please: Give teams 10 minutes for each first-round pick, then five minutes for each selection after that. That's more than enough time.
Factoid That May Interest Only Me
Let the record show that the Buffalo Bills' first pick of the day, the 55th overall, came at 8:28 p.m. That's 58 minutes after the San Diego Chargers, three time zones away, served dinner -- their third catered meal of the day -- to the media covering the draft.
Aggravating/Enjoyable Travel Note of the Week
I am very sympathetic to the airlines' efforts to keep the vermin who try to sneak up to use the first-class bathroom back in coach. If you pay for first, or get upgraded by a frequent-flyer program, you should have an advantage sitting unbothered. On Sunday, I was part of the vermin on a sleepy United flight from O'Hare to Newark, sitting in the first row of coach, doing some writing on my laptop. Attendance in first-class was sparse. The captain came on to say, basically, we're going to be going into our descent, so go now or forever hold your peace -- or something like that. I got up to use the lavatory. There were four people waiting at the two coach toilets. There was no one waiting in first. The plane was descending. "Excuse me,'' I said to the flight attendant. "pretty big crowd back there. Mind if I use into the bathroom here?''
"Sir, please use the bathrooms in coach,'' she said.
"I'm sorry,'' she said. "I cannot make an exception.''
I went back to wait. And wait. Then the final descent came. And so, of course, a couple of us in steerage had to return to our seats before being able to use the bathrooms.