I must confess that I do not understand what the Denver Broncos have been doing in the off-season. Yes, they needed to upgrade their defense; I
understand that. But it seems as if they have a tunnel vision when considering defensive free agent talent and that tunnel vision unfortunately is
pointed directly toward Cleveland.
The Broncos signed/traded for three defensive linemen from the Browns in the off-season - Gerard Warren, Ebenezer Ekuban and Courtney Brown. Warren is
a career underachiever; Brown is politely described as "often injured"; Ekuban is inconsistent at best. The Browns ranked 32nd in the NFL last year
against the run. Actually, that is the polite way to refer to that statistical measure because there are only 32 teams in the league so you could say
- uncharitably - that they were dead last in defending against the run. Interestingly, the Broncos also signed Andre Patterson as their DL coach and -
you guessed it - his last tour of duty was with the Cleveland Browns.
Mike Shanahan has also made a move this off-season that could provide an interesting hypothesis test. Denver has produced more than its share of
running backs with gaudy statistics in the last 15 years. Some people even think that it is the system that makes the backs so good and that you could
put just about anybody back there in that system and have them gain 1,200 - 1,500 yards over a season. Well, the Broncos also signed Ron Dayne this
off-season. Forget about what he did in college because he's been in the NFL for more than a couple of years now and he would have to have been twice
as good as he has been to be categorized as an upright corpse. Ron Dayne may be a wonderful human being who does many glorious works of charity; I
have no idea if he does or does not. But as a running back so far, he's been about as useful as a carving knife at a PETA fundraising dinner. Now he
may find himself in the "Denver system". If he gains 1,500 yards, then I'm ready to conclude that the offensive folks out there have figured out
something pretty special.
Rumors abound that there is a schism in the NFL between "high revenue teams" and "low revenue teams" as pertains to the labor talks with the NFLPA.
One report had it that this split became very evident at the recent NFL owners' meetings in Maui. That's where I got off the train and fought off any
inclination I may have had to shed tears for the owners of the "low revenue teams". These meetings were in Maui for about 10 days; they weren't in
Newark, NJ at a Motel 6; no one involved in ownership of an NFL team is in "a hurting condition".
Cue the Andrew Lloyd Webber music:
Don't cry for me, Arthur Rooney...
At that meeting in Maui, the owners were considering a rule change regarding the penalty for pass interference. Instead of making it a first down at
the spot of the foul, the suggestion was to adopt the collegiate rule and make it a 15-yard penalty from the previous line of scrimmage. Frankly, I
prefer the collegiate rule here but the owners decided more study was needed on this proposed rule change. Hopefully, they'll give it a try in NFL
Europe and see that it makes sense.
Nick Saban has said some strange things since arriving in Miami to coach the Dolphins. He said he would welcome Ricky Williams back. I have no idea if
Williams' teammates would want him back or not because I don't read minds, but I did read one report which said that Ricky Williams had lost weight
within his new lifestyle and was down "below 185 lbs". Suppose for a moment that is correct; recall now Ricky Williams running style. Now tell me how
that's gonna work if he weighs something like a-buck-eighty. Later, Saban announced that by signing Gus Frerotte he was establishing a full and open
competition for the starting QB job with AJ Feeley. And that is supposed to solve the QB problem - - how? The Dolphins have the #2 pick in the draft
and desperately need to get some value in that spot.
There is a report out there that Jared Lorenzen - you remember him; he is the left handed QB from Kentucky who played college football at about 270
lbs - was told by the NY Giants to report to the spring workouts at 275 lbs. Well, he kinda missed that mark by just a little bit and supposedly
reported at 340; he remains an aspiring QB and not an offensive lineman. I'm sure Tom Coughlin had some kind and gentle words of encouragement for him
about the need to lose weight. Lorenzen has generated several nicknames for himself because of his size and his position including J-Load, The
Pillsbury Throw-Boy and Hefty Lefty.
Memo to Jared Lorenzen: Possibly the only way to lose weight fast enough to keep the steam from coming out of Coughlin's eyeballs is for you to use
that underutilized carving knife from the PETA fundraising dinner I mentioned above...
Please go and find videotape of Scott Mitchell. He got lucky and scored a couple of big signing bonuses but they worked out so badly for teams that
you won't get a sniff of one as long as you remind people of Mitchell. Mix a salad into the diet once in a while...
Remember when Saints' WR, Joe Horn, scored a TD and then got a cell phone from the padding on the goal post and pretended to make a call? I don't want
to reopen the debate as to whether such "celebrations" are good and proper because that's been done to death. I want to be sure you know that the
phone involved in that incident was put up for sale at an auction signed by Joe Horn with the inscription, "Can you hear me now?" A Saints' fan in
Mississippi paid $645 for the phone. The new owner of this treasure said that the phone was a part of Saint's history and it now resides "on a
pedestal" in his office. He says he will donate it to the Saints Hall of Fame when Joe Horn retires.
OK, raise you hands if you knew there was a "Saints Hall of Fame". Don't try to fake it because if I see any hands, you'll be asked to provide some
information about this institution... Given the team accomplishments over the franchise's approximately 30 years of existence, would all the exhibits
fit in a two-drawer filing cabinet - - or did they have to go and get the four drawer model?
Scott Ostler had an item in the San Francisco Chronicle noting the existence of an ongoing FBI sting operation called Operation Bullpen. It is out
there to combat "sports-autograph fraud". I'm sure that if someone from the FBI were called to testify about this activity before the Congress, the
Bureau officials and the Congressthings would trip all over each other expressing just how important it was to do these things to "protect the
Scott Ostler had a slightly different observation here:
"...I'd feel even more comforted if these agents were temporarily reassigned to investigate stuff like tips on flight-school students who don't want
to learn how to land."
Finally, an observation from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
"An NFL punter accused of using steroids? We haven't seen a kicking scandal this big since Fred MacMurray got caught filling footballs with flubber
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
Copyright The Sports Curmudgeon