Posted: Friday August 25, 2006 12:03PM; Updated: Friday August 25, 2006 7:15PM
Terrell Owens has spent more time on the stationary bike than the practice field during training camp.
I'll skip the details, but now he's back on the bike. And there are grumpy faces all around. Which brings us to our first question, from Darrell of Hamilton, N.Y., who asks the following: "So it looks like the T.O.-Parcells marriage has gotten off to a rocky start, or is this just all media hype?"
And now I've got a grumpy face because, somewhere out there, there seems to be a persistent feeling that somehow the press drummed up this whole business, and if T.O. were left alone, everything would be as calm as Lake Louise.
Dear Darrell: T.O. feeds on the press. If it suddenly abandoned him, he would go into a severe clinical depression, subject to Prozac ... and Balzac and Armagnac and the rest of the ac-ac fire. Bill Parcells fears distractions worse than my Aunt Ida fears snakes. So you can imagine how much he enjoys the T.O. scene at the Cowboys' camp.
I don't know how severe T.O.'s hamstring injury is because I don't have a medical degree. If it's bad, then he's been getting a bum rap. If it's not, then he's been engaging in his familiar game of seeing how far he can push people, in this case Parcells. You never know when the blow-up will come. Just bear in mind that this is a player who was shoved down the coach's throat by the owner.
Gets pretty interesting, doesn't it? "I thought you said you were sick of it?" says the Flaming Redhead, who monitors every noun and adjective that drops from my writing machine. Well, OK, I was sick, but I'm not anymore ... because it's fun to write about it. Can we move along, please? And right into Memory Lane we go.
A long-memoried chap named Jack, from Sherman Oaks, Calif., would like to know about the painfully short career of Bill Yearby, the Jets' No. 1 draft choice in 1966, the year after they drafted Joe Namath.
Yearby arrived in New York when the AFL-NFL war was at its hottest. The Jets, fortified by new money from the Sonny Werblin group, were scoring heavily by drafting some of the big-name college stars away from the NFL -- Ohio State's Matt Snell in '64, Namath in '65, Yearby in '66. He'd been a two-time All-America tackle at Michigan, a mainstay on the Wolves' Rose Bowl championship team.
A terrific athlete, he was projected to tight end in camp in his rookie season. He wound up with a bad knee and spot appearances as a fill-in defensive end and special-teamer. Next year, his knee still not right, he was farmed out to the club's minor league franchise, the Bridgeport., Conn., Knights in the Atlantic Coast League. The owner was a heavy construction magnate named Bill "Hi Ho" D'Addario.
I had the honor of playing in that league one year -- for the Westchester Crusaders. I had a lot of fun, but not too many of us had stars in our eyes concerning future NFL employment. That was the lost world into which Bill Yearby, now converted to a linebacker, found himself. He hurt his knee again. He was through. Sad story, huh?
Lance of Hampton, Va., wants my take on the recent choices for the two Hall of Fame seniors candidates. I lobbied hard for Clark Shaughnessy, the old coach and inventor of the modern T-formation. My second choice was Cliff Harris. Neither one made it, as you know. Gene Hickerson was a good guard but not as good as the Dolphins' Bob Kuechenberg, who gets stiffed year after year. Charlie Sanders was an effective tight end but not as good as Todd Christensen, who can't even make it to the finals. And that's my take.
To James of Rochester, N.Y., I thank you. Harking back to my note about super-fats in the NFL, 350 to 400 pounds and up, he fears the combination of massive weight plus the steroids that in part produced it equals extreme stress on the system and serious risk. With you so far, James. I often wonder why more of them don't go down for the count. His next point eludes me, though. He suggests that the NFL institute a weight limit of, say, 300 pounds.
Well, that would eliminate roughly 20 percent of each squad. And there are a lot of 300-pounders who aren't fat. I'd say 350 would be a better cutoff point. But how about guys such as the Cardinals' Leonard Davis, with a program weight of 366? He's not really that fat, honest. No, I appreciate your sentiments, James, but you've got to come up with some other scheme. Write me when you do.
ESPN raises its ugly, uh, its ever-present head, as I knew it would. Erric of Checotah, Okla., thinks that the new team, which replaces Paul Maguire with Tony Kornheiser and Mike Patrick with Mike Tirico, "is worse than the old ESPN Three Stooges." Oh, right now Kornheiser-Maguire is about a wash. Tirico is a lot better than Patrick was. Theismann is still Theismann. I appreciate your sentiments and I'll be monitoring their progress.
Larry of Miles City, Mont., weighs in with this supposed Theismann quote from the New Orleans-Dallas contest: "Sean Payton has a philosophy (pause). That philosophy is to win games." Yep, it's a dandy, but two things are wrong with it. One, I didn't hear it, and two, your statement that "it went something like this," means you're not completely sure Joe said it that way.
And thus doth the demon, reality, dash our fondest hopes. ("Where's that quote from?" says the Flaming Redhead. From me. I made it up).
Jay of K.C. wants statistical proof that Denver's notorious cut-block scheme put more defensive linemen out of commission than any other system did. He also says he has a friend who swears that in 20 years of watching the Broncos, he's only seen one or two such injuries. Nah, your friend is full of it. They've totaled a lot of folks. The one I remember best is Jamal Williams of the Chargers. But they weren't the worst. The filthiest blockers were the 49ers under Bobb McKittrick. Sorry, but I don't have the stats you require. Try Colorado General Hospital.
This is a tricky one. JG of Toronto says he's been having trouble getting his question about Meyer Lansky through, even though he pointed out that he knows that I knew his son. "Was he actually a football fan, as portrayed by the Hyman Roth character in Godfather II?" No, he wasn't a football fan. He liked boxing. His son, Paulie, was my best friend in high school. Both of us wanted to be fighters. We worked out at George Brown's Gym on West 57th St. Ernest Hemingway was the gym's best known client.
Paulie was a lightweight. He had a good career -- captain of the West Point team and later a boxing instructor there. I never did much ... a few amateur fights, a few in the Army. Paul's dad would occasionally drive us down from school to Brown's, when he was having a workout that day. His game was racquetball, which was called paddleball in those days.
John of Doylestown, Pa., comes up with this startling statistic. The Browns have started four centers since July. The Steelers, their archrivals, have had only four since the 1970 merger. I'm so stunned, I can hardly see straight. Hey, John, you've got to stop walking around on Route 202 under a full moon. Answer this one for me, without looking. The Browns are a team named after a person, right? Paul Brown. Name the only other NFL team so honored.
Dave of San Diego wonders if rival coaches ever get together before an exhibition game and sort of help each other out by working on areas of particular interest to the other guy. Yeah. But not as much as they used to. It was fairly common before, despite some NFL grumbles that this detracted from the life-and-death exhibition-game struggle it was trying to promote.
Answer to John Doylestown quiz: The Buffalo Bills.