Posted: Monday February 27, 2006 9:06AM; Updated: Monday February 27, 2006 1:55PM
Marcus Vick described himself as a more mature passer than brother Michael.
2. I think this is how big the NFL Scouting Combine has become: On Saturday, Kansas City president Carl Peterson stuck his head into the media workroom at the Indiana Convention Center, with maybe half of the 230 accredited media members writing or chatting, and said: "Wow. I thought I was at the Super Bowl for a minute.'' This used to be a quirky little mid-winter convention of every football person in the NFL, a gold mine for an enterprising reporter, a time for old coaching and scouting buddies to have 11 beers after midnight. The beer thing and the get-togethers still happen. And it's still a chance to meet lots of new players entering the league. But too many coaches and scouts have found back ways to duck out of sight; sidling opportunities are cut way down. It's the byproduct of the intense, unending 12-months-a-year interest in this game.
3. I think Atlanta coach Jim Mora spends far, far too much time putting out fires within his organization. I'm not blaming him, because it's something he has to do. I'm saying this team has won 20 games and has been to an NFC title game in the last two seasons. Whether it's with an owner worried about his team backsliding or his quarterback worried about the offense he's running, Mora is doing too much smoothing over and not enough plotting for the 2006 season.
4. I think -- or at least I thought coming into the combine -- that Marcus Vick would play the penitent guy for the incidents that plagued his college career and limited him to only 13 college games. He was, pretty much. But then a group of us wondered how he differed from his brother as a quarterback. And he sounded like he was the 10-year veteran, and Michael Vick the green rookie. "I feel like I'm a more mature passer,'' Marcus Vick said. "I tend to go to my third and fourth progression before taking off and running with it. He [Mike] kind of plays a wild style of football, where he's going to get nagging injuries all through the year. You don't need that as a quarterback.''
I mean, is this guy insane? He's trying to get drafted -- anywhere -- and he's ripping his brother, who was the first pick in the draft, who's beaten Favre at Lambeau and who's played in an NFC Championship Game. Marcus Vick chafed at the comparison, but he seems like a kid who's got Maurice Clarett written all over him. Vick did run a 4.54 40 and threw the ball well, which matters.
5. I think I really admire how Saban is building his team -- and how he's not pulling a woe-is-me rap over things he can't control, like the Williams debacle. If I'm Wayne Huizenga, I'd be thinking: Saban's a bargain. What's key for Saban, I think, is to assume there's going to be a slew of screwed-up situations on a pro football team and not get too freaked out when they surface.
Saban bent over backward to get Williams back into the team's good graces last fall, and hoped he would play well enough and be a good citizen so the Dolphins would have a chance to trade him this offseason. Then the news came last week that Williams had reportedly tested positive for a banned substance and would be suspended for a year.
Saban didn't blow up. He said how much he'd enjoyed working with Williams and how he'd been one of the hardest-working players he'd coached. What he's doing is perfect. He's supporting Williams at a time of crisis, which is something the players on this team, who like Williams, will appreciate. Saban does a good job at getting the guys on his team to think, This coach is really behind us.
6. I think Paul Tagliabue's biggest problem this week won't be making a deal with Gene Upshaw to continue the salary cap through 2007 and beyond. It'll be making a deal with his owners. Look for Washington's Snyder, Dallas' Jones and Houston's Bob McNair to be impediments to any new form of revenue-sharing. And that, folks, is what's holding up a new deal on the owners' side.
7. I think these are my Olympic thoughts of the week:
a. I know who the star of the Olympics for the U.S. was: Mary Carillo. That nightly Olympic Ice show was the high point of the Olympics in the King household (except for the women's short and long programs). Carillo, the host, was consistently terrific.
b. The women's short program on Tuesday was one of the rare instances in sports when the hype equaled the event. Talk about coming through in the clutch. The Americans -- Sasha Cohen, Kimmie Meissner and Emily Hughes -- skated as well as they could have, on the biggest stage.
c. The rivalry between those speedskaters ended up boring me to tears. They're both selfish and boorish.
d. Wayne Gretzky needs to go into a dark room somewhere for a week and forget the last three weeks.
e. How on God's green earth can the Canadians score one goal in their last four games? I know little about hockey, but I watched a good deal of it at the Olympics, and the Canadians looked slow to me. Why Sidney Crosby, one of the 10 best Canadian hockey players alive, wasn't on this team is beyond me.
f. Scott Hamilton is really good on TV.
g. Re: the Thursday-night skating finals, this was the scene at Champions Bar at the downtown Indy Marriott. I'm sitting with intrepid SI.com scribe Don "Donnie Brasco'' Banks, Fox's John Czarnecki; Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times and Seattle Seahawks western regional scouting director Scott Fitterer. So we're talking about the last group of skaters to come up, including favorite Cohen. I'm rooting for Cohen, but I'm realistic. I like the girl, but let's face it -- she doesn't exactly come up big in the big events. And so I voice my theory that Cohen will fall at least once during her four minutes on the ice. Fitterer takes out a dollar and says, "I'll put a buck on that.'' I say, "You're on.'' And, of course, it took about 15 seconds for Sasha, poor kid, to go down.
h. I would have voted for Irina Slutskaya and the second Japanese skater (Fumie Suguri) both to have finished ahead of Cohen. Shows what I know.
8. I think the best moniker I've heard in a while comes from Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson, who has nicknamed the Pittsburgh defensive lineman who rolled into Carson Palmer and put him out for eight months "Kim von Wilkes Booth.'' He told me to make it clear he likes Kimo von Oelhoffen, a former Bengal. Understood. But that nickname's too good to hide, Geoff.
9. I think if you want to know what the Indianapolis Colts think of Edgerrin James' entering free agency, nothing can tell you better than this quote from GM Bill Polian on Saturday, concerning the Colts' free agent plans: "Reggie Wayne was priority one, Raheem Brock priority two. Now that we've got those guys done, now we turn to Edgerrin and David Thornton.'' Is that a diss or what? Raheem Brock a bigger priority than Edgerrin James? Edge, that tells you everything you need to know about your future, buddy.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. If Isiah Thomas isn't fired yesterday, the Knicks are the dumbest organization in sports. He wasn't fired? Well, they're still the dumbest organization in sports. And why have a cap, David Stern, if a team already zillions above the cap can add salary with a $14 million player in Steve Francis, as the Knicks did Wednesday?
b. House is having a great season. I hope people are noticing. Last week's show, with Hugh Laurie more irascible than ever, was as shocking and riveting as any episode I recall.
c. T-minus 13 days to the first episode of The Sopranos. I'm bitter at those people for taking decades off between seasons, but I admit I'll be back on March 12, frothing at my Gandolfini.
d. Coffeenerdness: The tea shelf in our pantry is so overcrowded we're having to drink a ton of it just to thin out the old boxes. The Celestial Seasonings "Red Zinger'' and Tazo "Wild Sweet Orange'' are the current hot bags in the house.
e. Sheryl Spain and Chris Carlin, good luck for a wonderful life together. You deserve it. You're good people.
f. I never, ever thought I'd say that Indianapolis, which I've visited for 26 years, has a nicer downtown than Cincinnati, where I lived for five. But it does.
g. Don Knotts, perhaps TV's best character actor of all time, is dead. Barney Fife was my hero. I tried to think of my favorite Barney scene when I heard the news of his death. Wooing Juanita ... driving Floyd the Barber crazy ... chasing Ernest T. Bass around Mayberry ... getting his gun and single bullet taken away ... warning Otis the Town Drunk he'd better stay sober ... teaching Opie the finer points of life.... How do you pick one? All I know is if there was an Andy Griffith rerun on right now, I'd find it, and like it better than any show but Seinfeld.