Unwelcome distraction (cont.)
Posted: Friday January 11, 2008 12:07PM; Updated: Friday January 11, 2008 3:27PM
Following are e-mails from people who hate me just as deeply, but have worded their queries differently:
"There is not a single San Diego Charger on your All-Pro list. You guys wonder why everyone out here says there is an East coast bias in the media." writes Frank of Oceanside, Calif.
You think that's bad, Frank? I don't even use the proper Ca abbreviation for your state, preferring the old style Calif. Yeah, you're right. Not a single Charger. Nor a married one, either. You bet I've got a West Coast bias. After Stanford booted me out around 100 years ago I swore that never on my All-Pro team would I have a representative of the Raiders, Niners, Chargers, Rams, and to make the sweep complete, Seahawks, and just to make sure, Cardinals. And if Portland or Vancouver ever got a franchise, I'd stiff them, too. Anything else on your mind?
From Dan of Warwick, R.I.: "Not one Steeler? You are kidding, right? No. 1 defense in yardage, No. 2 in points allowed, and not one?" That's the way it works. You look at player vs. player, not the overall work of a unit. Harrison graded No. 3 on my OLB list, behind the guys I picked. Farrior was my sixth-ranked inside backer, as listed in my column. I don't pull these numbers out of the air. I work my ass off, trying to get the grades right.
Who else would you have on the defense? How about Kiesel, the RDE? OK, I graded him, too, but at DT because he reduces down most of the time. You want to know how his grades stack up? Sure, he finished tied for fifth at 3.5, behind Haynesworth (5.4), Ngata (3.7), Gregg (3.7) and Dockett (3.6). Hovan tied him at 3.5. He finished ahead of both of the Minnesota Williamses, Robertson of the Jets, plus Paterson and Wilfork. You want to feed me any other Steelers for evaluation, go right ahead. You know something? I'm getting tired of this junk. Why don't you find some of the AP selectors to pester. Ask them how they graded the tackles and guards. Ask them if they even know their names.
Hey, Frank of Oceanside, I'm not through with you yet. West Coast bias, huh? How about the fact that I had three Chargers on my All-Pro team last year, Tomlinson, Goff and Merriman? I guess that bias thing just popped up this year, huh?
You over there! I see you! What the hell do you want?
"I wanted you to know how much I enjoy reading your column every week, and as an avid oenophile and UC-Davis grad, I always appreciate hearing your wine thoughts as well. And my name is Scott Scaramastro from Elk Grove, Calif."
I, uh, well, thanks, Scott. Damn nice of you to say those things. Sorry for throwing my shoe at you. Anything I can help you with? You what? You don't understand why it seems to be only the defensive players who get face mask penalties when you've seen a lot of runners and receivers do the same thing and get away with it?
Yeah, I agree with you. And I think that, going back to the days when Tex Schramm felt that the only thing that could attract fans was lots of scoring, lots of offense, there's been an unwritten rule among officials to go easier on the offensive people. In keeping with what you're saying, the play in the Steelers-Jags game in which Hines Ward grabbed Brian Williams' face mask in the end zone and Williams actually got called for the hold is a perfect example.
From Matt of Carolina Beach, N.C. -- "Coaches say they use their charts when deciding whether or not to go for two. Why does it seem that they only consider what will happen if they make it? It's like they never consider the possibility of failing to get the points."
First of all, a coach who says he uses a chart tells me that he hasn't kept up with the game. The charts were devised in an era in which field goals weren't automatic, as they are now. You can collect a lot of threes in a hurry these days, and coaches who understand that don't go for the deuce until it's absolutely necessary in the game's dying moments.
Jonathan of Fairfax, Va., has noticed an inordinate number of helmets popping off, which, he says, can be traced to the players' laziness in snapping up their chin straps, in college as well as the NFL. "I couldn't stop yelling at the screen Monday night," he says, "when LSU's QB played the whole first series with his chin strap flapping around and his mouth guard tucked into his facemask."
I thought I was the only one who yelled at the TV. Players are lazy. In some instances they remove articles of padding to lighten themselves. I did it, toward the end of my mediocre career. The hip pads were the first to go. We didn't have mouth guards when I played, but I wore a mouthpiece when I boxed and I didn't like it. It affected my breathing, and I don't how QBs call signals with them on.
I would guess they leave their hats unsnapped out of laziness, or convenience -- just not wanting to take the trouble to snap them. Dangerous? I guess it could be, but you know how it is when we were young and foolish.
Yeah, I guess it could be legislated, but officials will tell you they have enough to worry about during a game, rather than continually stopping the action to get somebody dressed correctly. And thank you for your kind words.
Mark of Lexington, N.C., would like a column from me on Joe Gibbs. He also wants to know who I think should replace him. I hope, along with you, that it'll be Gregg Williams. As far as a tribute to Joe ... well, I think he had one of the great, underrated offensive minds in the game. He had a reputation for his reliance on hog football, the counter trey, the three-TE running game, but he was really feared for that three-wideout bunch thing he designed. It seemed that no defensive coach could keep up with it, and Ricky Sanders was always breaking over the middle, scot-free. I asked Joe about it once, but I was not a writer he trusted, therefore I got little information.