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MMQB (cont.)

Posted: Monday April 7, 2008 1:51AM; Updated: Thursday April 10, 2008 11:31AM
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Quote of the Week I

Lane Kiffin, plucked by the Raiders from the USC coaching tree at age 32, finished with a 4-12 record in '07, his first year in the NFL.
Lane Kiffin, plucked by the Raiders from the USC coaching tree at age 32, finished with a 4-12 record in '07, his first year in the NFL.
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"He listens to me. I don't know what he does with it, but he listens to me.''

--Oakland coach Lane Kiffin on the frosty relationship he has with owner/GM/free-agent savant Al Davis of the Raiders.

Quote of the Week II

"It's always something with him. He's not my favorite person right now ... He's had many wakeup calls. He's been in [coach Mike] Shanahan's office many times. I've been up there with him and he's said the same thing -- 'it's a wakeup call.' Blah, blah, blah. Until he goes out and proves it, we'll see what happens.''

--Denver quarterback Jay Cutler on star young wideout Brandon Marshall, who severely cut his arm and forearm in what he claimed was an accident after he said he slipped on a McDonald's wrapper and put his hand through a TV set.

Quote of the Week III

"I've never seen a tape of another team's practice, ever, in 34 years of coaching, and certainly not that one.''

--New England coach Bill Belichick, asked about allegations that the Patriots videotaped the Rams' walkthrough practice the day before the two teams met in the Super Bowl six years ago.

Quote of the Week IV

"You know, this is pretty good. I think maybe we ought to do this again.''

--Super Bowl MVP quarterback Eli Manning to coach Tom Coughlin after a recent meeting in the coach's office, on the good feeling of winning a championship that, so far, has lingered rather nicely around the Giants.

Stat of the Week

T-minus 19 days and counting 'til draft day. Here's an interesting little nugget.

As I wrote last week in SI, the Cowboys are most likely to try -- key word there, try -- to use their two first-round picks on two of three things: a running back, a cornerback and a wide receiver -- but a wide receiver to be acquired in a trade from another team. Ran into Cowboys COO and director of player personnel Stephen Jones at the meetings, and he raised a good point about rookie receivers. "I would argue that, other than quarterback, receiver is the toughest position to get players to come in year one and make a real impact,'' Jones said.

So I went back through the eight first rounds of this decade and checked out how right Jones was. The conclusion: pretty right.

Of the 34 first-round wide receivers since 2000, only three have caught at least 60 balls in their rookie seasons. Dwayne Bowe (Kansas City, 2007) had a 70-catch season last year. Michael Clayton (Tampa Bay, 2004) made 80 catches in his first year. Andre Johnson (Houston, 2003) caught 66 passes as a rookie.

Some great receivers have developed out of the first round, but not early. Reggie Wayne is terrific now, but he had a 27-catch, 345-yard rookie year. Roddy White's first two Atlanta seasons netted 59 catches, far from his third season total of 83 in 2007. Plaxico Burress caught 22 passes as a rookie. He's averaged 64 a year since.

Dallas picks 22nd and 28th in the first round, and the last 10 picks of the first round have produced some god-awful wide receivers. R. Jay Soward ... Sylvester Morris ... Michael Jenkins. Dallas would be more than smart -- especially in a year that owner Jerry Jones told me is a "now'' draft year -- to deal for a receiver, not draft one. If they can.

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me

They've Thought Of Everything Dept.: At the New York Jets' new training facility and headquarters in Florham Park, N.J. -- the team will move from Long Island around Sept. 1 -- there will be three grass practice fields and an indoor facility with the same kind of spongy artificial turf that their home stadium in the Meadowlands has. All the fields will be laid out north to south, 3 degrees off directly due north, the exact same pitch and location of the field at Giants Stadium.

Interesting/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week I

I find it interesting, and a commentary on high-motor and supremely motivated people, that when the NFL meetings finished a couple of hours early last Wednesday, owners, coaches and front-office types raced for the front door as if the hotel was on fire. You'd have thought many would steal a couple of extra hours by the pool or on the lovely Atlantic shore of the super-luxury Breakers hotel.

At about 10:15 a.m. Wednesday, an NFL official ducked his head into the press room at the hotel and rousted the media by saying, "Meetings just ended. Commissioner's press conference in 15 minutes.'' Busy executives quick-stepped to their rooms or out of the hotel. Within 15 or 20 minutes, the driveway of the hotel was clogged with 30 to 40 people waiting for their cars. I heard one GM say into his phone, I presume to his wife, "We're booked out at 3, but I think we can get out at 11:30 or 1. You want to go early?''

A few exceptions, of course. Tony Dungy was in no hurry to go anywhere. He had a relaxing schmooze with three writers in the hallway while others scurried by.

You anticipate for weeks going to one of the best hotels in the world for some meetings and R&R, and you're excited about getting there, and when you have a chance to either get back to the rat race or steal two hours in paradise, you bolt out to get sardined on a plane back home?

My theory: Most of these NFL people -- like Tom Coughlin, for instance, who was in the workout facility every morning in Palm Beach at 5:30 a.m., or Herman Edwards or Roger Goodell, who joined Coughlin --have a hard time building in relaxation to their weeks when they know what's on the agenda back at the office. In this case, for football people, it's the draft. Some in the Jets' party were high-tailing it back home because it's hard to relax coming off a 4-12 season with the sixth pick staring them in the face.

Interesting/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week II

On my 133-minute Continental flight from West Palm Beach to Newark last week, a child started crying before we taxied from the gate. It was a mournful, hopeless kind of crying. He/she stopped for about 15 minutes shortly after takeoff. Then, for at least 70 percent of the next two hours, this baby cried. The mom holding her on the packed plane never rose to walk the kid around. Cry, cry, cry. Cry, cry, cry. Heads turned toward the row of the baby. The patient mom ssssshhhhhed the kid a lot but inexplicably never got up from her seat to walk the kid up and down the aisle. I'm no Dr. Spock, but parents, haven't you always found that barring hunger or colic, movement is the key to silencing a kid who can't stop crying?

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