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Notes from Indy (cont.)

Posted: Monday February 26, 2007 8:27AM; Updated: Wednesday February 28, 2007 1:23PM
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Quote of the Week I

Ohio State's Troy Smith grew tired of answering questions about his height at the Combine.
Ohio State's Troy Smith grew tired of answering questions about his height at the Combine.
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"Would you have any problem playing in a colder climate, like a Minnesota?''

--Reporter's question to Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson during Johnson's press conference at the Combine Saturday afternoon.

The Vikings have played in a dome since 1982.

Quote of the Week II

"You make it seem like being 6-feet is a disease.''

--Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith, who measured exactly 6-0 at the Combine, to a reporter he felt was pressing the height line of questioning too long.

Quote of the Week III

"Just look at my body of work at USC. I won a national championship as a freshman. I've been all-American two times, broke every record at USC, fourth in NCAA history in scoring touchdowns. I had 41. So look at the film.''

--Trojans wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett, sounding a tad bitter at the prospect of dropping in the draft. He's projected to be a late first- or second-round pick, dropping in some scouts' eyes because of average quickness and a perceived difficulty in getting away from quick corners in bump coverage.

Quote of the Week IV

"I respect him, he respects me, and that's how we pretty much differ.''

--Dwayne Jarrett, on his relationship with former USC wideout Mike Williams.

Was that English he was speaking?

Stat of the Week

The Raiders are 0-14 in AFC West games over the past 26 months.

They had the fewest rushing touchdowns (five) and passing touchdowns (seven) in the NFL last year.

Marion Barber (16) scored more touchdowns than the entire Oakland offense (12).

San Diego's Nate Kaeding out-kicked Sebastian Janikowski in extra points, 58-16.

I guess my point is if the Raiders don't take a quarterback with the first pick of the draft, they just might be certifiable.

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me

To say that new Giants quarterback coach Chris Palmer's dad is pleased with his son's new position might be an understatement. Francis Palmer, a resident of Brewster, N.Y., an hour north of the Meadowlands, has been a Giants' season-ticket holder for 50 years.

Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week

Indianapolis the last weekend of February. The Combine.

Groundhog Day.

"It's snowing sideways out there!'' JaMarcus Russell's uncle, Ray Williams, said Saturday night, walking into the hotel suite of the agents representing the LSU quarterback: Eric Metz, Vince Malinovic and Ethan Lock.

"It snows like that every year here,'' I said.

"I've been coming here 21 years now,'' said Metz, from Arizona. "It's pretty much the same weather every year.''

Same faces too. There's Don Breaux, Joe Gibbs' ancient assistant, crossing the street wearing his omnipresent reading glasses. There's Jerry Jones' luxury Cowboys bus, idling in front of the Marriott, across from the convention center and RCA Dome; wonder which agent he's schmoozing in there now? Jim Mora, in line at Starbucks. Mike Lombardi, the Raider scout, at Jillian's sports bar, watching the NBA game Friday night, like he does every year. Rick Gosselin, the crack Dallas Morning News NFL writer and superb draftnik, buttonholing scouts and coaches arriving for the 7:30 a.m. weigh ins. Wade Phillips in his nylon Cowboys pullover. Last year it was a Chargers pullover. A few years ago, a Bills pullover. A decade or so ago, a Broncos pullover.

The 11-year-old cheerleaders from across Indiana. The 9-year-old gymnasts from around the Midwest. I swear they time their big contests and meets to coincide with the Combine, to give the halls of the convention center a bizarre feel. Look honey! It's Jeff Fisher! Get Suzy and Misty and Bobby Jo and get the camera out! Coach, can we bug you for a photo! There's a bunch of Cardinal scouts, stepping around a preteen cheerleading squad with CARDINALS across the chest, all of them done up like Jon Benet.

Only difference between now and, say, 10 years ago around here? The immense media throng -- maybe 15 media folk in 1997, 350 in 2007. Dot-coms, scores of them, team Web sites and college papers. Instead of staking out the hallways for players, now they're brought into a media ballroom. And I almost forget the NFL Network and SIRIUS radio. Instead of having a half-hour alone with Bill Polian, now we get a few minutes, and the NFL entities get him for much of the time we used to have with him exclusively. Sign of the giant NFL times.

Just a little snapshot of something that, like everything else in the NFL over the years, is exploding.

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