Posted: Friday March 16, 2007 10:54AM; Updated: Friday March 16, 2007 10:54AM
Here's another free-agency question that probes the very depth of humanity, and for those of you who are getting a little tired of this song, I say be patient because there's a real good one coming. Don of London wants to know why the Texans signed Ahman Green instead of Travis Henry, who's younger, zippier and, well ... a better player? I'm with you. I like Henry better. I've always liked him, but it seems that certain players just seem to be out of fashion with NFL general managers, no matter how good they are on the field.
He also thinks that the Cowboys blew it by doing the big money number on Leonard Davis. Possibly, but at least he's had his moments. The guy you suggest, Mike Williams, never had any. He just didn't want to play any more.
Here's my favorite free-agency question ... from Wayne of Ashburn, Va. "Dr. Z, are you feeling OK? I mean you actually had something pleasant to say about Washington during the free-agency period."
Yeah, I'm feeling fine and I cashed a big bet from a couple of fellas who bet me I couldn't figure out a way to do it. Nah, I'm just kidding. I never accept bribes or cash bets, only food or wine. Which reminds me of a story. Here's what my mother once said when I presented her with a birthday present. "After the age of 70, the only gifts you want are things you can eat or drink. Gimme Jack Daniels."
Well, I quoted her in a wine column, and guess what happened? The PR mill at Jack Daniels started grinding and they sent her a fifth, plus some nice Jack Daniels high ball glasses, dish towels and all sorts of stuff. And they made her an official Tennessee Squire and gave her a patch of land. When she died and I inherited her squireship and her land, I wrote them a letter. "Say, just how much land do I own?"
They sent me back a big sheet of paper, with a parcel marked off about the size of a napkin. Well, what the hell? They could still find oil or something on it, couldn't they?
One more Redskins question (actually three). From Win of Arlington, Va. "Will Jason Campbell be a good QB this year?" Hard to say. He can go down the field, but he sprays the ball. Let's give him two years. "Do they have a chance of reaching the Super Bowl?" No. Not enough really good players on both sides of the ball. "How much longer do you think Joe Gibbs will hang in there?" No way of knowing. Depends how much better he likes his NASCAR stuff than his NFL gig.
From Richard, a sommelier from Vegas who promises me wine, women and song if I answer this one for him. (Exactly what song are we talking about?) Given my careful explanation of the merits of the deliberate fumble and how the league treats it, how come when Indy played the Patriots in the title game, two TDs came on recovered fumbles in the end zone? OK, now listen up everybody. Andrew says many others were similarly puzzled by my desperate attempts at clarity. Neither TD off a fumble came on fourth down or in the last two minutes, so it's signals off on those two restrictions. So the fumbles for the TD were OK. The old "holy roller" rule didn't apply.
From Kendal of Rockville, Md. -- "Will a long snapper ever get into the Hall of Fame?" No. But short snappers will, guys like Mike Webster, Dwight Stephenson and Chuck Bednarik.
I wasn't in love with that question, but my least favorite of the litter comes from Ian of Mississauga, Ontario: "Do you not think that Bob Kuechenberg is long overdue to be selected to Canton?" If this is a bug, then it has worked perfectly, because it got me punching walls. I have devoted a big part of my life to trying to get him past the opposition. I have written about it frequently.
A tie for E-mailer of the Week. Both correspondents are sending me back through the mists of time. Joe Schwindt of San Diego wants to know the real story about seven of us going through 19 bottles of wine (not 17, as you said) at the house of Tom Keating, the tackle for the old Raiders in the AFL. Tom Edell of Rockford, Ill., asks about what it was like to cover the AFL in some of the old stadiums.
Keating, an all-pro DT, was my wine buddy. Very serious, especially about port. He'd bid on it at the Sotheby auctions in London. One year he just decided to have a wine blowout at his house in Alameda. In attendance were Keating and his wife, except that maybe they weren't married then, Raider DE Ben Davidson and his wife, Fred Biletnikoff, former Redskin tackle George Burman and me. It lasted about six hours. Everybody brought some wine. I think I brought some old port, but I'm not sure. Two meals took place. Nothing was broken, there were no fights. Nobody drove home. We all just collapsed in various parts of the house. I got the couch. Next day I felt a little fuzzy but manageable. That's all there is to it. People have turned it into a kind of legend, but at the time I didn't think it was that remarkable.
I loved the old AFL stadiums. In War Memorial in Buffalo, you had to climb onto what seemed like a little platform to get into the lockers. I remember before a Jets game, Jack Horrigan, the Bills PR director, was giving us a little tour of the old stadium, which had just gotten a new paint job. He turned to the great Hearst columnist, Jimmy Cannon, a very hard bitten customer of the old school, and asked him, "What do you think, Jimmy?"
"Rouge on a corpse," Cannon said.
My favorite was Municipal in Kansas City. The press box was small and cramped. It was pure hell, trying to get into your seat. Low-lying padded pipes were above you, and you were always banging your head on them. But once you got settled, oh my, what a view. It's like you were right over the huddle. Never have I been able to see a game as well as I did in that place. My stories were more accurate because I could see more. It made it all worth it.