Banks' Shots (cont.)
One candidate who could very well emerge as the winner of the Chiefs general manager search is Baltimore Ravens director of college scouting Eric DeCosta. Kansas City owner Clark Hunt is said to be interested in a front office structure that doesn't invest all authority in one individual, like existed with Carl Peterson for the past 20 years.
For that reason, Patriots vice president/player personnel Scott Pioli might not be the best fit for Kansas City. While the Chiefs are definitely interested in Pioli, he's in the position to command full authority in K.C. or elsewhere, and that's not ideally where Hunt wants to go. DeCosta, 37, is on Kansas City's candidate list because the Chiefs are seeking someone young who has experience both in the draft and in NFL personnel, and could grow alongside the 43-year-old Hunt.
DeCosta rightfully gets a lot of credit these days for the level of conviction that Baltimore had about Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco last spring. He's considered one of the better college talent evaluators in the league, and his experience with the Ravens' consistently successful drafts makes him one of the brightest general manager prospects in the NFL.
So now Brett Favre's teammates on the Jets are sniping at him in the press, and New York reportedly lost its top head coaching candidate in Bill Cowher in part because he didn't want to coach a team that had No. 4 at quarterback.
That means if you're keeping score, Favre isn't as beloved in Green Bay today because of the messy way things ended between him and the Packers last summer, and he's certainly not beloved in New York, where things look like they're going to end messily there as well.
Juxtapose that with how Favre was thought of everywhere right after he made his tearful retirement announcement early last offseason. Had he stayed retired from that point on, he would have forever remained the deity he was in Green Bay, and his legacy and reputation wouldn't have endured the two painful hits it has taken in the past seven months or so.
For one extra year of fleeting glory in New York, glory that appears over for good now, was it really worth it, Brett? You'll never convince me it was.
As one of the 50 voters who get to weigh in on the Associated Press's seven NFL individual award winners, I thought I should at least let you know who I opted for on my Dec. 29 ballot:
-- Most Valuable Player: Peyton Manning, Colts, quarterback -- After pounding the drum early and often this season for Drew Brees, by year's end it was obvious that no one player was responsible for a bigger portion of their team's success this season than No. 18.
-- Defensive Player of the Year: James Harrison, Pittsburgh, linebacker -- The Steelers' playmaker nosed out Albert Haynesworth in my book for the honor of best player on the league's best (or close to it) defense.
-- Offensive Player of the Year: Drew Brees, New Orleans, quarterback -- Brees fell just 16 yards short of breaking Dan Marino's single-season passing yardage record, but he was a chains-moving machine all year long.
-- Comeback Player of the Year: Antonio Bryant, Tampa Bay, receiver -- The gifted Bucs receiver had an eye-popping season after not even being in the league in 2007. Now that's a comeback.
-- Offensive Rookie of the Year: Matt Ryan, Atlanta, quarterback -- There were great offensive rookies everywhere you looked, but nobody matched Ryan's accomplishment.
-- Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jerod Mayo, New England, linebacker -- A no-brainer, virtually from Week 1 on.
-- Coach of the Year: Mike Smith, Atlanta. He not only transformed the woeful Falcons into a winner overnight, he hung up an 11-5, playoff-qualifying season in the toughest division in the NFL.
Why is Denver the clear-cut prize of this year's coaching vacancies? I'll give you five good reasons: A very patient owner in Pat Bowlen, a quality young quarterback in Jay Cutler, a standout young left offensive tackle in Ryan Clady, one of the best cornerbacks in the league in Champ Bailey (when he can stay healthy), and a less-than-grueling AFC West to compete in.
If you were going to put together a list of the five most important ingredients to success in the NFL, you could scarcely do better than that.
Just wondering, but had San Francisco known Mike Shanahan was about to become available, would the 49ers still have been in a hurry to give Mike Singletary their fulltime head coaching gig?
Here's a couple easy ways to put it into perspective just how long it has been since the Cardinals had a playoff game at home, as they will Saturday against Atlanta:
-- The Chicago Cardinals beat visiting Philadelphia in the 1947 NFL title game, more than a decade before the Colts and Giants played their memorable "Greatest Game Ever'' in 1958.
-- And when the Cardinals were last at home in the playoffs, ex-Cardinals head coach Dennis Green -- he of the "They are who we thought they were'' fame -- was still 14 months shy of being born. Green turns 60 next month.