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Snap Judgments (cont.)

Posted: Thursday March 6, 2008 10:30AM; Updated: Thursday March 6, 2008 11:52AM
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Warren Sapp, 35, retired Tuesday after recording 96.5 sacks in 13 seasons.
Warren Sapp, 35, retired Tuesday after recording 96.5 sacks in 13 seasons.
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• Here's the thing about Favre's playing style that I think always resonated so deeply with NFL fans: It had an every-man quality, in that the version of the game he played each week somehow resembled the game we all remembered playing growing up. Be it on the playground or in organized youth football.

His wasn't some display of the perfect technique or form; he didn't execute at a supremely gifted athletic level that we could only dream of. We could watch Favre and see ourselves flipping a desperation underhand pass on the playground, just before the rushers got to us. We could see him chuck the ill-advised pass into triple coverage and recall when we blindly trusted that our arm could make any throw it had to make, no matter what the odds.

Watching Favre out there reminded us of what it felt like when we were playing the game, and conjured up our own experiences with football long before we just sat and watched others play. I never even knew Favre was doing that, but now that I reflect on it, that's what he reminded me of each week. The kid playing football that almost all of us were at some point. He just got to do it a lot longer than the rest of us.

• They say timing is everything, but I wonder if Warren Sapp really would have preferred not to have his retirement from the NFL announced Tuesday, the same day as a certain beloved Green Bay quarterback.

Maybe it's fitting in a way however, since Favre and Sapp were linked together for a good long time in their careers, as rivals in the now defunct NFC Central division. When the Tony Dungy-led Bucs were finally becoming competitive in 1997 after years in the NFL desert, Sapp and his teammates were literally and figuratively chasing Favre and the Packers.

• I must admit Sapp's retirement after 13 seasons makes me feel rather old. I was the Bucs beat writer for the St. Petersburg Times when Tampa Bay drafted Sapp in the first round in 1995, and my editors sent me to Miami the next week, to kick around for a few days to report and write a character profile on Sapp, who had off-field issues at the University of Miami that served to cloud his status in the draft.

The resulting story ran in time for the start of a Bucs mini-camp which Sapp attended, and while I can't be sure, I don't think it served to endear me to the talkative and rather vindictive rookie defensive tackle.

• Now that the sky has stopped falling in the Boston area, and Randy Moss has returned to New England, it occurs to me the Patriots' receiving corps should be able to muddle through once again in 2008. Yes, Donte' Stallworth was allowed to leave without much of a fight and wound up signing with Cleveland. But the Patriots, we remind you, still have four of their five leading receivers from 2007: Moss, Wes Welker, the newly signed Jabar Gaffney and Kelley Washington. And it's only early March. Last year at this time, Moss, Stallworth and Washington weren't even on board yet.

How will Tom Brady ever get by?

• I maintained all along that the Patriots would re-sign Moss based on knowing the good thing that they had together and would also bid adieu to cornerback Asante Samuel, who was going to command a contract in free agency that New England was not prepared to pay. Both wound up coming to pass.

But a part of me understood the anxiety level of Patriots fans in regards to Moss's situation, and I think you can blame Adam Vinatieri for it. Like Moss this year, no one around the league really believed Vinatieri was going anywhere but back to New England when he came up for free agency in 2006. But when he bolted for Indianapolis, the Patriots' most bitter rival, it shocked the team's fans as no other departure from Foxboro ever did. Vinatieri was a Patriots icon.

So while most New England fans probably wanted to trust in Moss' pronouncements that he wanted to remain a Patriot, and heard Brady call him and his top receiver "a package deal'' at the Super Bowl, the specter of Vinatieri's surprise exit two years ago wouldn't allow them to completely rest easy.

• By the way, I'm still waiting to hear exactly which Super Bowl contender is holding open its starting quarterback position for Daunte Culpepper, who couldn't even win the No. 1 job in Oakland last year. I mean, if there was that much-heralded story last weekend about Moss and Culpepper discussing how fun it would be to re-unite and finish the business of winning the championship that they couldn't quite win together in Minnesota, it must be true. Nobody would have just floated that idea in order to stir things up and get the Patriots' best contract offer, right?

• Let me get this straight: Muhsin Muhammad left Chicago and is back in Carolina, and Marty Booker left Miami and is back in Chicago? Huh. Maybe Moss really did think about going back to Minnesota with Culpepper. Seems to be the popular move in the NFC.

• In a signing clearly aimed at replacing free-agent receiver D.J. Hackett, I see the Seahawks added free-agent running back T.J. Duckett. What, A.J. Hawk wasn't available?

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