Posted: Tuesday January 24, 2006 4:34PM; Updated: Tuesday January 24, 2006 6:52PM
NO, PETE. AL SAUNDERS DOES NOT CHOOSE TO BE INVISIBLE. From Pete Brumberg of Charlotte, N.C.: "Quick thought for you on this week's column regarding Al Saunders. Do you think there's a chance that Saunders enjoys the offensive coordinator position so much that he doesn't want to relegate the control to someone else by taking a head coaching position? It's unlikely he'd be able to spend enough time studying his own play-calling and everything else involved with running the team to be able to not call the same play in four straight weeks if he were calling plays as head coach. Maybe he likes the position he's in and doesn't want to give up that insane commitment level to one aspect of the game.''
Interesting point, Pete. But then why would Saunders go on two head coaching interviews this month? And why would Dick Vermeil go out of his way to promote Saunders for the gig in Kansas City if it's not something Saunders really wants? One other note: Last spring, a tidy, well-done, graphically attractive treatise arrived at my home in a large brown envelope. Nice charts and tables. Very thorough. No return address. I opened it. Inside was what I might best describe as an anonymous term paper promoting someone's idea of the best offense in football during the last three years. No cover letter, no identifying marks or bylines. I put the thing aside, not giving it much thought. I can't swear that Saunders sent it. I only spoke to him once this season and I forgot to ask him if he, or some agent or friend of his, was the sender. But what do you think?
DON'T KILL THE NFL FOR ITS HIRING PRACTICES. From Mike Kelly of Wyckoff, N.J.: "As to the question of minority hires, I am not sure I share your perspective. While it would be nice to see Giants defensive coordinator TimLewis get a shot, at least this year there was little recycling and the two guys you mentioned as deserving a shot (Al Saunders, Ken Whisenhunt) are both white. I think the NFL, on the coaching level anyway, has earned some slack. You can argue Lewis versus Eric Mangini for the Jets, but that is a far cry from watching Tony Dungy get passed over every year. The GM level could stand some scrutiny though.''
Good points, Mike. And good perspective on a complicated issue.
ALWAYS NICE TO SEE OUR SWEDISH AUDIENCE REPRESENTED ONLINE. From Torbj Gislason, of Malmo, Sweden: "I agree with you when you say you are happy that Seattle made the Super Bowl. It is always good when a team has a chance to win a trophy for the first time. The Jerome Bettis hometown hype is already too much and I don't even live in America. I can't even imagine the hell that most American football fans will be going through the next two weeks. I am already sick of Bettis and his parents, and it's because of this that I hope that Seattle wins.''
You know, it's interesting what sets people off, isn't it? It takes all kinds to make this world spin.
I GUESS THE BETTIS FAMILY THING IS GETTING ON YOUR NERVES OUT THERE. From Mario Escamilla, of Cypress, Calif.: "Is Jerome Bettis the only NFL player with two parents? I hadn't realized the rest of the league was made up of orphans.''
Zing! Hey people, understand something: Jerome Bettis did not ask the networks to put his parents on TV. Don't blame Bettis for the cute angle of his parents going to every NFL game he's played.
MR. GIANT THINKS WE'RE BEING TOO HARD ON ELI MANNING. From Kevin of Mount Vernon, N.Y.: "When will everyone get off EliManning's back? There were three quarterbacks in the top five of passing yards and touchdowns -- Tom Brady, Carson Palmer and Eli Manning. The Giants were third in points scored and fourth in yards gained. He played poorly in the playoffs, but remember Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions in his first two playoff games. Can we really compare the Steelers and Giants right now? No, so it's unfair to compare Eli to Ben.''
Kevin, I agree with everything you say until you get to the last point. Not only is it fair to compare Manning to Roethlisberger, it's also the best comparison. They came in the same year. The Giants chose Manning over Roethlisberger when both were available to them and paid a lot more for Manning. And how do you not compare the two teams right now? The Giants won 11 games and a tough division. The Steelers won 11 games and a wild-card spot. Eight weeks ago, when the Steelers were 7-5 and scratching to get into the playoffs and the Giants had a playoff berth nearly sewn up, you'd have been saying the Giants were clearly better than Pittsburgh. In the span of two months, the Giants have plummeted from being the better team to being not comparable.
FRED'S GOT A VERY GOOD POINT. From Fred Jackson of Washington, D.C.: "When Terrell Owens is shouting on the sidelines during a game, it's a big story. Steve Smith does it and the media ignores it or plays it down. ChadJohnson blows up at halftime during his playoff game. My question is this: Doesn't the media feel like fools for blasting T.O. and praising Chad Johnson and Steve Smith all season? To me, it seems like a double standard for players acting childish.''
You've got a good point, Joe. I would only say this: I don't hear Smith and Johnson criticizing their quarterbacks in the press. Donovan McNabb went out on a limb and politicked for Owens to come to Philadelphia, and Owens was the biggest ingrate in sports by lashing out at his quarterback.