The Lions liked Batch from studying film of Eastern Michigan but really fell in love with him when, at the February scouting combine, he lined up alongside the best of the quarterback crop (except Manning and Leaf, neither of whom worked out) and threw as well as any of them. When quarterback coach Jim Zorn worked Batch out privately in March, he found a mobile quarterback who had a good deep arm and was well-versed in the passing game. It wasn't politically correct to say that Michigan's Brian Griese (who went to the Denver Broncos in the third round) wasn't the best college quarterback in his state. But that's how the Lions felt, Griese's Big 10 pedigree be damned.
Spike Lee's 'Game' Faces
Spike Lee's He Got Game has a few surprises, the most rewarding of which is the measured performance of Milwaukee Bucks guard Ray Allen, a first-time actor. As high school hoops phenom Jesus Shuttlesworth, Allen, 22, never seems out of his league, even in his scenes with the accomplished Denzel Washington, who plays his father, Jake. Less of a surprise is the work, in a supporting role, of Los Angeles Lakers forward Rick Fox, who has already earned acclaim (SI, Sept. 8, 1997) for his role as Jackson Vahue in the HBO prison series, Oz.
Here's another surprise: the participation of a number of big-time college basketball coaches playing themselves. The movie deftly portrays the exploitation of and the pressures put on young potential millionaires like Shuttlesworth, yet there are several coaches (Arizona's Lute Olson, Arkansas's Nolan Richardson, Georgetown's John Thompson, Georgia Tech's Bobby Cremins, Iowa's Tom Davis, Kansas' Roy Williams, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, Temple's John Chaney, as well as retired North Carolina coach Dean Smith) hyperbolizing Shuttles-worth's talents and pleading for his services—i.e., doing what they have to do in this distasteful business of hustling for young talent. It's not only art imitating life but also a case of self-promotion through self-mockery.