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Vince is no fool (cont.)

Posted: Wednesday March 8, 2006 12:25PM; Updated: Wednesday March 8, 2006 6:26PM
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Young likes to point out that Brett Favre throws from all sorts of angles. History is full of failed quarterbacks with classic throwing motions (Ryan Leaf? Hello?). Young will get the ball to his receivers.

Then there is the whole running quarterback thing. This is a pretty old argument. The theory is that NFL teams have too many good athletes at too many defensive positions for a guy like Young to run the ball 20 times a game without getting killed. Fair enough. Take a look at the Texas-Ohio State tape from last September. The Buckeyes -- with a bunch of future NFL players on defense -- sat back in Young's scrambling lanes and dared him to pass. He passed. Texas won.

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USC let him run. And pass. He ran and passed. Texas won.

The guy can play. Draft him and don't look back.

3) Presumably, Drew Brees has proved in the last two seasons that he can play, too. But the Chargers are seriously letting him leave as a free agent. What's the deal with that?

Here's a story about Brees: It's NFL Draft day in April of 2001 and Brees is at home in his condo near the Purdue campus. The first round is grinding on past and the phone isn't ringing. Brees is deep-frying fish fillets for a small group of friends and pretending he doesn't care.

He cares. I hung out with Brees for the pre-draft period and wrote a diary of his experience. He dealt with getting measured at -- for crying out loud -- 5-foot-11 and seven-eighths in Hawaii at the Hula Bowl and he dealt with a nightmare combine when he wanted to throw passes on rhythm and Jim Zorn, who was running the drills, told him to just complete balls. Even a great individual workout didn't get him into the first round, although he was the first guy taken in the second round.

Brees has been fighting assumptions his entire career. John Mackovic wouldn't recruit him at Texas, so he went to Purdue and carved up the Big Ten. Nobody would draft him in the first round. Before Brees got his chance in San Diego, the Chargers acquired Phillip Rivers and subtly made it clear he was the QB of the future.

Brees' response was to have two terrific years, elevating himself to the top echelon of NFL quarterbacks. (Presuming that echelon is roughly 10-deep). He took the Chargers to the playoffs in 2004 and they should have gone last year, except for an inexplicable late-season home loss to Miami. Now that might not be good enough. The Chargers look poised to allow Brees to become a free agent and go with Rivers. Good for the Chargers. They have to run their business the way they deem best.

Brees, meanwhile, will do what he always does: He'll get better for the experience. He's just one of those guys.

4) Meanwhile, people seem torn on whether Bode Miller's Olympic performance makes him an idiot who defamed the Games or an icon who demonstrated that It's Not Whether You Win or Lose, but How You Play the Game.

I've seen the letters to Sports Illustrated. I've read my e-mail. There's a loyal Bode lobby out there that thinks Miller deserves props for eschewing the medals-only American mindset and just letting it rip in every Olympic race -- trying to hit a home run, not a single.

And if that was all Miller did, I'd be right on board. But an athlete's Olympic performance can't be limited to what he did on the day of the race. Sure, when Miller pushed out of the start house in each of his races in Italy, he was going for it. He usually does. But he didn't train hard all summer and fall in preparation for the season, like he did in past years. He didn't spend the hours working with his wax techs that he did in past years. And without that preparation, you can go for it all you like on race day, but you're hoping for a miracle. Miller is the best ski racer in the world, but the guys he's racing against aren't exactly snowplowing. To think you can dog it all summer, throw a switch and beat Benjamin Raich in a giant slalom is just plain arrogant.

5) Is Miller finished?

I have no idea. Anybody who says he knows is lying.

I'll say this: If Miller had Brees' head, he'd already have established ski racing records that would never be approached. But everybody is different, right?


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