Bring on the Weekend (cont.)
Posted: Thursday June 7, 2007 12:58PM; Updated: Thursday June 7, 2007 1:02PM
Holliday had his own draft-day moment of revolting revelation. He was standing on the patio of his offseason home in Atlanta's Buckhead district, grilling his delectable specialty ("Best steaks east of the Mississippi," he insists), when his wife, Eboni, came rushing outside with the news.
"What did we do?" Eboni asked. Her husband nearly dropped his spatula. "About 45 seconds later," he recalls, "my phone rang. It was JT. I answered it and said, 'I know. I know. I can't believe it.'"
The sentiment was echoed by thousands of Dolphins fans who had gathered for the team-sponsored draft party in the practice bubble at Miami's training facility. It was the first major decision by new coach Cam Cameron and newly empowered general manager Randy Mueller -- the latter having been freed from the shackles of (Nick)Sabandom -- and it reeked of "We're smarter than the rest of the football world -- just trust us" bravado.
I don't fault Mueller or Cameron for passing on Quinn -- it's their job to gauge a quarterback's potential and draft value, and Mueller in particular has enough of a track record as a shrewd personnel evaluator that I tend to trust his instincts. But by picking Ginn so high, when most teams had him ranked far less favorably, the two men riled a fan base that was inclined, after Nick Saban had lied his way out of Dodge, to give the new regime the benefit of the doubt. That all disappeared a half hour after the Ginn pick when Cameron entered the bubble and basically got booed off the stage, with chants of "Brady, Brady" interrupting his brief speech.
In the speech, Cameron promised an exciting draft class, and the team did take a quarterback with its second-round pick, John Beck of BYU. I'm told Beck looked extremely shaky at the team's recent minicamp, fumbling numerous snaps and failing to impress in general. Granted, the kid was probably nervous, and it's only minicamp. But his struggles gave veteran players -- already reeling from five consecutive seasons without a playoff berth, last year's disastrous 1-6 start (after having been a trendy preseason Super Bowl pick) and Saban's graceless cut-and-run to Tuscaloosa after only two years on the job -- one more reason to wonder what on earth is going on.
"Needing a young quarterback for the future, you'd think picking Quinn would've been a no-brainer," Holliday says. "I mean, the setup was perfect. It's hard enough to get the fans (in South Florida) to come to the games, and now you piss them off? But hey, they must have a plan."
Maybe it will all work out the way Mueller and Cameron envisioned it, and quickly. Perhaps Ginn will emulate the Chicago Bears' Devin Hester, a second-round pick in 2006 who had a huge impact as a return man, with five combined touchdowns on punt and kickoff runbacks. Unremarkable as a defensive back, Hester has since been switched to wideout, where the team hopes he will emerge as an offensive playmaker.
"Ginn Jr. needs to call up Hester and thank him," Holliday says. "I guess that's what they're hoping he'll be."
Thomas, for one, is through harping on the past. He'll form his opinions on Ginn Jr. and everyone else based on what happens when the games begin. What else would you expect from an undersized, overlooked linebacker from Texas Tech who went in the fifth round of the 1996 draft and has been one of the NFL's best players virtually ever since?
"You don't know about drafts till they play out, anyway," Thomas says. "Hell, there were 20 teams that passed on Brady Quinn -- even his own team (the Browns, who picked him 22nd overall after bypassing him at No. 3) passed on him -- and we're the bad ones?"
Not necessarily. Not yet. But you can bet the No. 1 pick in your fantasy draft that every time Quinn does something special -- or a certain Dolphins rookie fails to do so -- that dude on the streets of Manhattan won't be the only one screaming out Ted Ginn's unofficial new middle name.
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