For the first time all afternoon, Favre cracked a smile.
Too many people are penciling in Tennessee junior quarterback Peyton Manning as the first pick in next April's NFL draft. Yes, Manning is likely to forgo his final year of college eligibility, but it's not certain he will declare for that draft. If he graduates next May, a year ahead of his class (and he could), Manning could skip the April selection process and enter a supplemental draft next summer.
Why go that route? For one thing, Manning might not like the team that holds the top selection in April, and perhaps no club desirable to him would deal for the pick by the time he has to declare for the regular draft in January. To determine the order for the supplemental draft, the NFL conducts a weighted lottery. Thus odds are that Manning would go to a team other than the one with the first pick. (Whichever team selected him would forfeit its first-round choice in the 1998 regular draft.) Also, even though the supplemental draft would be a crapshoot for Manning, he would be going to a team that could strengthen itself immediately by getting at least two high draft picks in '97.
You are Falcons quarterback Jeff George. You play in the best system a pure passer can play in: the run-and-shoot. You play for one of the best passing-game teachers, coach June Jones. Even though your teams have won only 38% of their games during your six-plus years in the NFL, Atlanta offered you a $25 million, five-year contract last year, which you turned down. Now you are suspended because you repeatedly yelled at your coach after being benched during a 33-18 loss to the Eagles on Sunday night.
At the time of George's benching, the Falcons trailed 23-10 and he had gone 16 of 23 for 217 yards, with two interceptions and one touchdown. He had completed 11 straight passes before throwing an interception just before he was yanked. Jones, who the following day announced George's suspension for this Sunday's game in San Francisco, may have been too quick in making the move to backup Bobby Hebert, but that's not the issue. The issue is that George, a petulant child if the NFL has ever seen one, wouldn't accept his benching. "He just crossed the line," Jones said on Monday. "TV caught only a small part of it. Jeff went much too far, and you can't allow anyone on a team to go that far over the line."
George is eligible to become a free agent after this season. The Falcons will try to trade him, Jones said, "though it'll be difficult because of the salary cap." In the past three years George has sent Jones and Ted Marchibroda in Indianapolis, two of the most mild-mannered people, over the edge. At 0-3 Jones needs a win, but he deserves kudos for taking this stand.
Unwilling to try contact lenses because, he said, he couldn't bear the thought of anything touching his eyes, running back LeShon Johnson played with 20/70 vision in two years as a reserve with the Packers and the Cardinals. But last April an eye specialist persuaded him to have laser surgery, and Johnson reported to Arizona's camp with 20/10 vision. "I felt like a new man," Johnson says. "I could see my blocks, and the ball didn't look all blurry anymore."