Posted: Wednesday October 11, 2006 12:27AM; Updated: Wednesday October 11, 2006 2:51PM
Michael Silver (left), Warrick Dunn (center) and Jim Steiner before they went steppin' out over the line.
Ibrahim A. Shakur/SI
Barreling down Interstate 85 at 100 miles an hour, weaving my rented red Jeep in and out of the carpool lane (all one of us), it occurred to me that tailing Falcons cornerback DeAngeloHall's black Bentley might not be the sanest idea.
As many an elite player can attest, trying to keep pace with Hall, the winner of the "NFL's Fastest Man" competition at last February's Pro Bowl, is often a futile pursuit. On Monday evening he was a passenger as his wife, Jada, sped down the freeway toward downtown Atlanta, where Falcons halfback Warrick Dunn was hosting his annual Wash n' Wear fashion show and charity auction.
Because Hall, like more than a dozen of his teammates, had agreed to model at the event, making it there on time was paramount. That, combined with his and Jada's late start from their home well north of the city, explained my current predicament -- I might as well have been following Bill Elliott down a back road in Dawsonville. The Connecticut license plates (thanks, rental-car company!) and general travel-weariness weren't helping my cause, either. Not since former SI writer Jeff Pearlman rode shotgun with John Rocker had a drive through Hotlanta been so potentially hazardous.
We made it, though, and soon Hall would head backstage with Falcons receiver Michael Jenkins, leaving me to enjoy a much more reasonably paced trip through the Gallery at King Plow Arts Center.
Silver: A couple of weeks ago in this space I quoted your friend Chad Johnson. He talked about the smack-filled weekly phone conversations you two have and said it was premature for you to say you were the best cornerback since Deion Sanders. You play the Bengals on Oct. 29. How do you see that matchup playing out?
Hall: Oh, man, I can't wait. That's gonna be fun as hell going against Chad, because it'll impact all our future conversations. We're gonna have a whole year to talk about all the plays I made.
Silver: That will be a true test, because unlike a lot of teams, you guys don't play a lot of Cover Two.
Hall: Aw, hell no. We play some Cover Eight, which is "quarters" -- four DBs each take a quarter of the field -- and a lot of man, which of course is my favorite. I like to just man up on a receiver and maybe send five pass rushers. The thing is, with John Abraham, Patrick Kerney and Rod Coleman, we don't need to send five -- we can get to the quarterback with four. But you know what? Nine out of 10 times that linebacker's just dropping, and he ain't perfect in zone drops. So why not rush him anyway? If I was the defensive coordinator, that's what I'd do -- leave us back there without help, Jimmy Johnson-style.... OK, time to head backstage.