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Snap Judgments

Urlacher, smoking draft prospects, NFL-wide notes

Posted: Thursday April 19, 2007 12:49PM; Updated: Thursday April 19, 2007 1:18PM
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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's new get-tough policy has gotten rave reviews, and rightly so. But there's get-tough, and then there's getting ridiculous. As in fining Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher $100,000 for wearing a non NFL-approved cap to Super Bowl media day, while sipping from a non NFL-approved bottle of water.

Look, the NFL has always taken itself a tad too seriously when protecting its corporate sponsorships and its self-imposed dress code (Remember when Redskins running back Clinton Portis was fined $20,000 for uniform violations that included not wearing the right color socks in November 2005?). But 100 K for the wrong water? By that standard, Urlacher would have been banished from the league for life had he decided to show up at Dolphin Stadium wearing a sandwich board with vitaminwater plastered on it.

Juxtapose this with the financial penalty Goodell meted out earlier this month to Bengals receiver Chris Henry, who has been arrested four times since December 2005. Henry was suspended for the first eight games of 2007, which will cost him eight of his 17 regular-season paydays this year, or $181,176. To repeat, Henry was arrested four times and Urlacher merely advertised illegally in the eyes of the NFL, but their fines were in the same approximate ballpark.

Can I get a dose of perspective delivered to the league's Park Avenue office in New York? Overnight it if you have to.

• No one should get too worked up over the report on Pro Football Weekly's Web site that says top draft prospects Calvin Johnson, Gaines Adams and Amobi Okoye admitted during team interviews at February's NFL Combine that they have used marijuana at some point in the past.

In the league's eyes, that's not the same thing as failing a recent drug test due to a positive marijuana reading. If the NFL only selected players who have never smoked marijuana, it might be a two-round draft. For that matter, if never was the threshold for employment in the league, there'd be more than a few coaches, scouts and personnel types who couldn't clear that bar. Not to mention a U.S. president or two.

• I know I'm not the first one to think of this, but I sure hope Urlacher was being paid more than $100,000 to endorse vitaminwater. And if Gatorade -- the league's official sports drink sponsor -- ever buys out vitaminwater, does Urlacher get his fine money returned?

• If as expected they don't get a quarterback in the first round, the Dolphins could make Stanford's Trent Edwards their pick in the second round (40th overall). That is, if Edwards gets past Detroit at No. 34. I guess what I'm trying to say is this: On many draft boards, Edwards seems to have settled the third-rated quarterback question.

• If you're handicapping the draft's first-round receiving contingent, the latest buzz has Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson, Ohio State's Ted Ginn Jr., Tennessee's Robert Meachem and LSU's Dwayne Bowe making the cut, and USC's Dwayne Jarrett dropping down to Round 2. But the key team for Jarrett might be No. 30 San Diego. How galling would it be if the receiver-needy Chargers went for Jarrett's USC teammate -- the increasingly regarded Steve Smith -- over the more acclaimed Trojans pass-catcher?

Jarrett, Smith, South Carolina's Sidney Rice, Ohio State's Anthony Gonzalez and Washington State's Jason Hill are the receiving names you hear most in regards to the second round.


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