Baltimore tackle Michael Oher has been invited to appear on Oprah twice. He's been invited to the Academy Awards. He's been asked to be in the audience at the ESPYs.
No, no, no and no.
Seems Oher is not very happy with how he was portrayed in The Blind Side movie. He thinks he was made to look like a simpleton who knew nothing about football before he was picked up off the Memphis streets and taken to live with a wealthy family. Seems he has no interest in furthering that public image, so he's concentrating on one thing: being a football player.
Earlier this year, Roger Goodell asked Oher to come to New York one day to speak to a Boys and Girls Club gathering. Oher said he'd do it only if he could get his workout in that same day. Oher will be the Ravens' starting left tackle this season, and he wanted to be sure he didn't miss any workouts for things that had nothing to do with his on-field performance. Once he learned he'd be able to work out and do the speech in Manhattan, he agreed.
That leads me to wonder one thing about the 2009 NFL draft: How do the Bengals, in need of a tackle and picking sixth overall, take the jiggly and unmotivated Andre Smith, and the Ravens, in need of a tackle and trading up to 23rd overall, take the supremely motivated Oher?
The Colts treat the preseason the way Brett Favre treats retirement announcements: not very seriously.
Since 2005, the Colts are 4-17 in exhibition games, 65-15 in the regular season.
Rooney Mara's life is about to change. Chris Mara's life might too. Chris Mara is the Giants' longtime vice president of player evaluation, and Patricia Rooney Mara, one of four children in one of football's most prestigious families, was born a year before the Giants won their first Super Bowl in 1986. Chris is married to the former Kathleen Rooney, one of Dan Rooney's nieces. That makes Rooney the granddaughter of the late Giants' owner, Wellington Mara, the niece of current Giants co-owner John Mara, and the grandniece of Dan Rooney ... and the sister of Kate Mara, who is a star in her own right, having been featured in several films, including the football cult hit We Are Marshall.
Last week, Rooney Mara won the lead role in what could be a very big movie, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, based on the first of a trilogy of red-hot crime mysteries by Swedish reporter Stieg Larsson, who tragically died just as he finished the third book. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is popular all over the world, but especially in Sweden, where, amazingly, one third of the population has bought a copy.
I've read all three books. They're terrific, taut thrillers, starring a brilliant, odd and anti-social private investigator and computer hacker, Lisbeth Salander. There are several graphic and sexually disturbing scenes in the book (who knows how they'll look in the movie), and I warned Chris Mara the other day he might want to prepare himself for a few stunners with his little girl. I told him this isn't We Are Marshall.
He sad he knew, and he said his kids have reminded him about the difference between movies and real life.
"I can't tell you how many times I have heard, 'It's only acting, Dad,''' Mara told me the other day.
Downtown Baltimore, Wednesday, 3:40 p.m.
I was rolling my L.L. Bean suitcase to the front door of the downtown Residence Inn when a disheveled man -- maybe 40, salt-and-pepper beard, filthy jeans, T-shirt -- approached.
"Sir, I'm sorry,'' he said. "Looking for some money to help me get into the shelter tonight. It's three bucks. Can you help me at all? Can you give me a dollar? Anything?''
I took money out of my pocket. I gave him $5. He looked incredulous.
The next morning at 5:45, the same man, apparently a tireless yet forgetful panhandler, approached me and said he needed a dollar to take the light rail somewhere. It took me a second to realize it was the same guy, and I said, "Oh, come on.'' He scurried away.
While we're on the subject of travel, how about these two notes:
1. Cards beat man Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic is a pretty dedicated reporter and dad. After the Cardinals practiced Thursday, Somers wrote his regular stuff for the paper, got in his car and drove 150 miles back to his home in Phoenix. The next day, he and son Logan drove 655 miles to Salt Lake City, to enroll the boy at Westminster College for his freshman year. They slept. On Saturday morning, he and Logan went through orientation, which lasted into Sunday morning, and Logan moved into his dorm. Kent Somers then flew from Salt Lake City to Denver, and then on to Nashville, where he arrived just before midnight. This morning he's in Tennessee to cover the Cards-Titans game, and he'll stay in the area to cover the Cardinals as they practice before playing at Chicago later in the week.
2. Martell Mallett is a free-agent running back for the Eagles from Arkansas-Pine Bluff by way of Vancouver of the Canadian Football League. When the Eagles signed him, they said they couldn't wait to see how his speed translated to the NFL in a preseason game. Then they traded with Denver for running back J.J. Arrington, signed free-agent wideout Kelley Washington, and needed a roster spot, so they waived Mallett.
He got on a Delta flight the next morning in Allentown, headed for home in Pine Bluff after a plane-change in Atlanta. That morning, GM Howie Roseman woke up and remembered what he thought when the team signed Mallett. "We never saw him in a game, which we said we were going to do,'' Roseman said. So he called Mallett's phone, and texted the phone, knowing Mallett was en route home.
When Mallett landed in Little Rock, he picked up his luggage and, while waiting for his ride to Pine Bluff, turned on his phone and saw he had a message. "Pretty unbelievable,'' said Mallett. "I just took my bags from the luggage area and brought them back to the Delta counter and checked in for the flight back here.'' He was back in his dorm by midnight, and he practiced the next day. Moral of the story? "I'm still here,'' Mallett said. He's still a roster long shot, but he does have 20 carries for 78 yards in two games.
"Want to say thank you to Tim Layden from SI. A great privilege for me to be in the magazine.''
--@Kansas_Comet, Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers, on being featured in Sports Illustrated this week in a Layden story about the short shelf life of running backs. How about Gale Sayers on Twitter?
Which led to this Tweet ...
"Greater privilege to write it.''
Layden really did a good job writing about Sayers' ruined left knee, and what orthopedic surgeon Mark Klaassen found when he opened up the knee to replace it in 2009. Wrote Layden about what Klaassen saw:
"Three long scars, one running down the front of the knee, another on the inside and a third on the outside, curling around to the back. These were from decades-old open surgeries ... Inside the knee Klaassen found carnage. Sayers's anterior cruciate ligament was gone; the posterior cruciate ligament was stretched and frayed. There was evidence that the medial collateral ligament had been sewn or stapled at some point in an effort to create stability (a practice common at one time but later found to be ineffective).
"A half-inch wedge of his tibia had been sawed off in an osteotomy, a surgical procedure designed to redistribute weight away from an arthritic surface. Almost no cartilage remained, and as a result, the joint was filled with dust and fragments from bones rubbing together for many years. It was not the worst knee Klaassen had ever seen. But it was by far the worst on which the owner had been actively exercising. 'This thing was utterly shot,' says Klaassen. 'And Gale had been jogging on this knee. All I could think was, Wow, that's a lot of pain tolerance. This is a unique individual here. Very determined.' ''
As Layden wrote, how amazing is it that it was Sayers' right knee that he hurt first and most severely in his career.
I strongly recommend you read the Sayers story if you're young, and you've wondered, as many readers of this column have wondered: How could Gale Sayers be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? He played only 68 games?! This guy was a meteor across the football sky, one of the 10 great talents ever to walk onto an NFL field. He passes the eye test as one of the most electrifying players, at any position, ever to play. Not only was he the most dangerous running back of his day -- Jim Brown was more powerful, and better all-around, but certainly not more elusive -- but also Sayers was the best kick-returner of all time. You can look it up: No modern football player has come within two yards of his 30.6-yard career average.
By the way, this is a great package about the short life span of running backs. Joe Posnanski's story on Tony Richardson of the Jets is stirring, and Layden's piece on Chris Johnson is very good too.
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