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Monday Morning QB (cont.)

Posted: Monday March 19, 2007 8:55AM; Updated: Monday March 19, 2007 5:48PM
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Former Colts cornerback Nick Harper agreed to a three-year deal with the Titans.
Former Colts cornerback Nick Harper agreed to a three-year deal with the Titans.
Al Tielemans/SI
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5. I think I also love Tennessee pilfering cornerback Nick Harper from the starting defense of the world champs. "I don't think I was ever appreciated by the Colts,'' Harper told me the other night. "For whatever reason, they were always bringing in guys to replace me, and I wasn't going to let anyone beat me out. It fueled my fire every year.'' Jeff Fisher hasn't told Harper whether he'll be the man to replace Pacman Jones, but it's pretty obvious with the looming Jones suspension or worse (see below), Harper's going to be Tennessee's shutdown corner in 2007.

6. I think Randy Moss is not getting traded unless someone offers the Raiders something significant. Like a high second-round pick. They're not taking less than the Patriots dealt for Wes Welker (a two and a seven), that's for sure. I'm also told that the Packers have had not only had no substantive discussions with the Raiders for Moss this offseason, but as G.M. Ted Thompson said this weekend, they've had no discussions with the Raiders for Moss.

So how does such a story like this spring to life, a life that has no end in Sports Talk America and Sports Blog America? My theory is that because a story may make sense -- in this case, the Packers being interested in a star wide receiver at a bargain price; because the current editions of the Raiders and Packers are relatively source-proof (and I say "relatively,'' because every organization has sources); and because Al Davis is as mysterious as ever, that a story can take on a major-league life with one tiny tidbit repeated 63 times. We seem to love gossip in this country. And why should sports be different than Hollywood?

7. I think the Bears will not release Tank Johnson, and they will probably lose him for at least four games due to a looming NFL suspension at the start of the season. And it won't change their approach to their defensive tackle situation in the offseason. The Bears, even with Tommie Harris returning from injury, will be without their three top defensive tackles from the Super Bowl -- Johnson, Ian Scott and Alfonso Boone -- because they decided early in the offseason to let Scott and Boone leave in free agency.

They'd better hope they don't play run-heavy teams in September, with the specter of Johnson gone and versatile franchise-tagged linebacker Lance Briggs holding out -- if he follows through with his threat to sit unless the Bears deal him. Chicago will likely rebuild its defensive tackle position from within, with last year's third-round pick, Dusty Dvoracek, returning from an injury that sidelined him in his rookie year, and prospect Antonio Garay favored to win spots in the tackle rotation in training camp.

It'll be a big test for a revamped Bears defense. Chicago has Dallas, New Orleans, San Diego and Kansas City -- all potential top-five running teams in the NFL in 2007 -- on the schedule this year. Imagine if a couple of those happen to show up on the schedule in the first four weeks. Youch.

8. I think Pacman Jones will never play another snap for the Titans. I don't see how, if the charges in Las Vegas are at least half-correct, that the Titans -- particularly in such a Bible Belt area as central Tennessee -- can justify bringing him back.

Funny thing. I was talking to someone who knows Jeff Fisher and Bud Adams well recently, and he said: "The Titans know if they released him, it'd take 10 minutes before teams were lining up to sign him.'' Maybe. I doubt that, but maybe. There might be one or two, but not a line.

In any case, there's a breaking point in every relationship. And 10 encounters with the police ... I mean, how many more chances do you give a guy? Whether your team is going to be hurt by a player's absence on 16 Sundays can't be the only reason you choose to keep him. And if he becomes a superstar somewhere else, with his life straightened out -- which I sincerely doubt will happen with this man -- that's the chance the Titans should take.

9. I think Jake Plummer will not play football again. And I think the Bucs will make him pay $7 million for that privilege. (That's what he'll owe, in pro-rated signing bonus, to Tampa Bay, if he doesn't play. And let's face facts. The Bucs are going to go after the money, whether in 2007, 2008 or beyond.)

10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:

a. I want to be Ron Lewis when I grow up.

b. You know Ron? He's the ice-water-in-the-veins Ohio State Buckeye whose 28-foot, two-hands-in-his-face 3-pointer with two seconds left sent OSU's game with Xavier into overtime. That's the guy you want up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth in the World Series.

c. Xavier played too well to lose that game. And how is that not a flagrant foul on Greg Oden in the final seconds? That non-call is the difference between Ohio State being alive or dead today.

d. Let's hear the grousing about the selection committee now. In the West, the 1, 2, 3 and 4 seeds remain. South: 1, 2, 3, 5. East: 1, 2, 5, 6. Midwest: 1, 3, 5, 7. Of the top 12 seeds, only two, Wisconsin and Washington State, lost in the first two rounds. Pretty good judgment by the committee, it looks like.

e. What language is it that Bill Raftery speaks, actually?

f. I'm a week late praising him, but Pete Thamel of the New York Times wrote one heck of a piece on how the lives of two Western Carolina coaches diverged after nearly pulling a monumental NCAA upset of Purdue in the 1996 NCAA tournament. The coach, Phil Hopkins, now coaches junior high basketball. The assistant coach, Thad Matta, coaches the top-ranked team in America. Great story.

g. I missed it. When did Kentucky stop being Kentucky?

h. Good-bye Texas. There goes my bracket.

i. One of the best discoveries of midlife: St. Patrick's Day. Never thought I'd love Guinness, but it's pretty close to the perfect beer.

j. Coffeenerdness: This Week's Sign of the Coffee Apocalypse came on Friday night into Saturday, when five inches of snow in New Jersey was followed by eight hours of sleet. Movement Saturday morning required a sleigh or a Range Rover, and yet at 7:10 a.m., there were 11 people caffeining-up at the local Starbucks. What a racket.

k. Just discovering the iPod, one of the great inventions of all time, and my one recent find was Norah Jones. What an incredible voice. Shows what a music dolt I am that I barely knew her.

l. I succumbed. I'm not proud, but I got the dish. Lousy cable service, plus the baseball package shifting to satellite instead of digital cable, are the reasons. Will keep you posted on whether it's worth it.

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