MMQB Mail (cont.)
JASON LOVES THE BLACKBERRY STORM. From Jason Pane of Doylestown, Pa.: "Peter, I'm also a Blackberry Storm user... welcome to the club. My reason for writing is Andre Smith. I'm so in awe someone would be as ignorant to blow off a job interview. Especially considering his track record is plastered with bad decisions and his potential draft spot is in the top five. If he slides from top five to the late first or even second round because of this, will he be regarded as the dumbest elite player in draft history?''
Let's give Smith a chance now. He's made three dumb moves in the past two months -- getting suspended from his bowl game for a team rules violation, coming to the combine out of shape, and then leaving the combine when he should have stayed to be among the offensive linemen on Sunday. It's a little reminiscent of Ryan Leaf's postseason fall from grace entering the 1998 draft, but remember one thing: Though I think there's a very good chance Smith is going to fall to mid-round or lower because of all the negativity surrounding him and because of the strength of the tackle class this year, we all thought Leaf might plummet around this time, too -- and he ended up going second overall.
A BOLD STATEMENT FROM MATT, OF A WEIRD ADDRESS IN NEW JERSEY. From Matt of Exit 7A, New Jersey Turnpike, N.J.: "Those contracts [Shane Lechler, Nnamdi Asomugha] are the official start of Al Davis' final screw you to the NFL. He has been at war with the league for years and he senses the battle is nearing conclusion. So what does he do? Passes out the Kool Aid and torches the compound. Now any team franchising their cornerback is going to pay a million/year more then they would have had to last week. He couldn't beat them in court, so he is going to blow up salary structure. A fighter 'til the end, the old guy is going out swinging.''
Do you actually live at the exit of the turnpike, Matt? In one of those toll booths? How do you sleep in there? OK, I understand why you think that way, but understand this: Al's life is trying to compete, not burn the league down.
THE PANTHERS, AND OTHER NFL LAY-OFFERS, SHOULD BE ASHAMED. From Brian Woodward of Harrisburg, N.C.: "Thanks for pointing out the incongruity in the Carolina Panthers' decision to lay off 20 employees while at the same time they commit $76.5 million to two players. Charlotte and the surrounding area, like many cities, is feeling the negative impact of the floundering economy. Generally, sports provide an opportunity for us to suspend the challenges of our daily lives while we cheer for our team. In this instance, the Panthers' decision only reminded us of the gloom of the economy. I know that running an NFL franchise is a business, and tough decisions have to be made, but I feel that the Panthers made the wrong decision in this instance. Why not pay the $1 million to $2 million to the 20 people who want to be there rather than $16.5 million to someone who doesn't?''
The easy answer is the 20 people don't play, and they're easily replaceable. I just don't like the human toll when times get tough. Which Jack says too ...
HERE'S JACK. From Jack Ramey of Washington: "I agree whole-heartedly with your Panthers sentiment ... but tell me, when's the last time anyone paid $60 a ticket to watch those same loyal employees at work?''
Sixty? Try $150.
MATT CASSEL HAS A LOT OF PEOPLE SAYING WHAT THIS GUY SAYS. From David of Philly: "What makes Matt Cassel different from the other quarterbacks who have one decent year. Sure, he played well this year. But A.J. Feeley played well as a starter in Philadelphia but couldn't get anything done in Miami. Derek Anderson had a great year in Cleveland before falling apart this year. Is it really worth two high picks and $14 million for a quarterback who likely won't be able to replicate his success if he's taken away from a championship caliber team and one of the top coaches in the league?''
Excellent question, David, and the same question so many teams in the league are asking. (Though Feeley didn't have anywhere near the 16-game run Cassel had this year in New England.) I guess I'd ask this question to, say, the Detroit Lions: Would you rather pick a quarterback at either one (Matthew Stafford) or 20 (Mark Sanchez) in the first round and hope you're right, while paying the guy you take at one $30 million in guarantees ... or would you rather pay Cassel $30 million in guarantees and give the 20th pick and, say, next year's second-rounder to New England for Cassel? I agree it's a tough call, and I'm not sure what I'd do, but I do know this: Cassel's done it on a very high, playoff-caliber level already, and Feeley and Anderson haven't, and there's doubt either of them can do it.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. From Dave B., of Boston: "After your story about the cold weather for the combine ... why do they have it in Indianapolis every year and not in some warmer location like Florida?''
It's in the middle of the country, so it's a trip close to equal for everyone on the east and west coasts. Plus there's a convenient dome. Plus the NFL loves routine.
WE'LL HAVE TO AGREE TO DISAGREE; MAYBE I SHOULD HAVE SAID MARLON BRANDO. From Damon Valletti of Philadelphia: "Sean Penn our Bogart!? Oh, man, you can't even compare those two. Humphrey Bogart was everything Sean Penn is not -- humble, a gentleman, and never believed he was anything more than an actor.''
I meant as an actor, not about the personal stuff. Every time I see Penn (like in Dead Man Walking), I think: This guy can play anything. That's what I always thought of Bogart.
JUST CALL ME WUSS OF THE WEEK. From Guy Beaudry of Winnipeg: "Wind chill here this morning is 27 below zero. You Yanks are soft. No wonder you need four downs!''