Quote of the Week I
"When we were looking at taking Mark, I studied all the great generals to see what those men were like early in their careers, see how they reacted. It's all about how they reacted in battle, what happened when the action was really live. You see that in Mark, his calm.''
I realize you get excited about your players, particularly about the man you believe is the next long-term quarterback in franchise history, but that is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard an owner say. I can name 300 quarterbacks lauded as great leaders with terrific field presence who have come out of college football in the 25 years I've covered the NFL.
In fact, if a quarterback WASN'T a strong leader with a good presence about him, he shouldn't have been picked high in the first round. If indeed Johnson "studied all the great generals,'' and looked for traits of Sanchez in them, I hope he kept his thoughts to himself. The following quarterbacks in recent years have been well-respected by teammates, calm when the action began and renowned as terrific leaders:
I remember being in Washington the day Heath Shuler was drafted in 1994, and Norv Turner raving about his leadership. In fact, Shuler was a terrific presence, well-liked by his mates, and couldn't play a lick. But he went on to win a Congressional seat in North Carolina. I'm sure he'd have fit in superbly in military command.
One man's opinion: You don't help your rookie quarterback in the largest city in the U.S. by building him up as some combo platter of Ulysses S. Grant, Joe Namath and Jonas Salk. The expectations being set up for him are almost Brady-like. I really like Sanchez a lot, and I think he has a good chance to be a very good NFL player. But the first time he throws five straight incompletions, the fans are going to look at him and say, "This is the bum we're paying $10-million a year?''
Quote of the Week II
"It would be incredibly tough. I know when you're at the end of the 16-game schedule, it's a super grind. Through the middle there you're really sluggish. Toward the end, when you're working toward the playoffs, you can pick it up. The thing I would worry about is the compounding effect of adding two extra full-speed games where you're in there the whole time ...
"You have to think of player's life in the league, which is short enough as it is, and obviously we want to keep that the same or make that longer. Adding two extra games adds probably more potential for injury because you're tired, the body's not quite firing as it was Week 1 or 2. Toward the end of the season, there's probably more injuries and you add two extra weeks, it's going to be tough to get through the playoffs with anything resembling a regular roster."
Quote of the Week III
"I love Favre and I think he's been a phenomenal talent for a long time. But when I think about it now, I say, 'Stop it already.' I don't mind that you still want to play football, but do you want to play so much, and do you want to get back at Ted Thompson so much, that you're willing to go back into Lambeau and hurt those fans who supported you for so long?''
Tweet of the Week
"Do the Colts wake up every morning and go, whew -- look how close we came to taking Ryan Leaf?''
Picked No. 2 in the 1998 draft behind Peyton Manning, Leaf is scheduled to turn himself in this week to face drug and burglary charges in Texas.
Stat of the Week
Comparing the rookie contracts of Joe Namath and Mark Sanchez, 45 years apart for the New York Jets:
Part of the value of Namath's contract was jobs for his three brothers and a brother-in-law, and a new car. Namath's average compensation per year was one-70th Sanchez's average pay.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
MMQB hero of the month Austin Wood, the Texas left-handed reliever who threw 13 scoreless relief innings in the NCAA Tournament, was rewarded for his pluck last week. The Detroit tigers selected him in the fifth round of the Major League Baseball draft, making him the 150th overall pick in the draft.
So how much did throwing his 169-pitch outing against Boston College, with 12-and-one-third no-hit innings, have to do with it? It helped, but Detroit assistant director of amateur scouting James Orr told me over the weekend it's because Wood changed his arm slot before this season, adding a tick to his speed ("We've clocked him at 93,'' Orr said) and making him tougher on left-handed hitters. Wood went undrafted out of high school, then after his junior season at Texas. His theory is it's because he's got only an average (91-92 mph) fastball.
"He's an interesting player,'' Orr said. "He showed unbelievable guts and poise in that game, pitching the 13 innings. Our area scout, Tim Grieve, has scouted Austin six or seven times, and he was there that night. Stayed for every pitch. That night cemented for Tim that the kid had the heart of a champion. For us, he could start either in high A [Lakeland of the Florida State League] or Double A [Erie, of the Eastern League], and maybe he'll be a situational lefty or a reliever you could stretch out a little bit. Right now, for a left-handed hitter, he looks like the last guy you'd want to face.''
Texas began play in the College World Series on Sunday night. I wouldn't expect it to be a very long negotiating process for Wood to reach an agreement with the Tigers after the series.
Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week
You want to know a nightmare for every business traveler. It's this recent headline in the Wall Street Journal: "Airlines Are At It Again: Less Legroom.'' Seems the new 737-800s manufactured for American Airlines have the same space in the cabin as the old ones. But the old 737-800s had 148 coach seats. The new ones have 160.
Delta and Continental, too, are raising the number of seats in economy to 160. The seats are being made smaller and thinner, and the airlines are saying the "seat pitch'' will be such that you won't notice the reduction in space in coach.
Yeah, right. What I say is I'm flying JetBlue as much as possible this summer and fall. The WSJ says JetBlue has the most legroom between coach seats, 34 inches, of any carrier.
NFL Truth & Rumors