Our offseason Four Downs series ends with a look at the NFC West's biggest remaining holes and their most notable UDFA signings. The Rams and 49ers have to kick-start their passing games, Arizona's offense lacks a big dimension, and the Seahawks continue to rely on Russell Wilson's magic tricks.
07 Feb 2007
compiled by Alex Carnevale
"Coach said: 'You need to take this call.' I told him 'I'm on the phone.' He's like: 'No, you need to take this call.' I hang up and it's the President. He talked about what a great win it was and playing in those tough conditions. He watched the entire game, said he was pulling for us, and looked forward to welcoming us to the White House."
-- Peyton Manning
"I've been out there the past few years and always real envious of seeing the Patriot guys and the Steeler guys come out a couple days late. I've always wanted to do that and now we will -- as Super Bowl winners."
-- Manning, on heading out to the Pro Bowl.
"I've seen some past quarterbacks who've won the Super Bowl kinda 'get the pass' as I call it. If they have a bad year, people go: 'Aw, he won a Super Bowl. Give him a pass.' But I don't want a pass. I want to be held accountable each and every year. Next year, my goal is to be a better quarterback and I feel I should be because of the experience I gained this year."
-- Manning (The Times)
"If people thought that [Manning's career was incomplete without a Super Bowl victory], that's just wrong. But now, he's done it. He's a Hall of Fame quarterback, one of the best that's ever played the game."
-- Tony Dungy
"Personally, I'm gratified to see that change. I think their faith is a wonderful example to see and I think both men are sterling examples of what character coaches should be. That's what we should be promoting."
-- CBS anchor James Brown, on the invocation of God.
"Now there's an awful lot of shining glory, even more than last time up here. But we're giving it all to God again because that's what got us here ... sticking together and believing that we could, and I know God has looked after us on this journey and bonded us into such a tight family."
-- Colts owner Jim Irsay
"The Lord was preparing us to go into that playoff stretch."
"That just means doing things the right way, and having players care about each other."
-- Dungy (Orlando Sentinel)
"One of the neat things I thought about the whole process was there were no negatives all week. Both teams. Very, very professional. Very gentlemanly, great players on both sides and no incidents."
"Our emotions and our energy level were tremendous. I think we had a group that recognized that our time had come and we had to go take care of business. And we fought and we persevered and it didn't matter what happened. We never hit those emotional down points. Everybody just kept saying, 'Hey, this is our time. Let's play.'"
"We had to shut down the running game of Kansas City, and we put together a great effort there. We went to Baltimore and we won with field goals and defense [15-6]. We beat New England by scoring 30 points in the second half. Our offense just exploded."
"This may not be our most talented team of the five we've had, but it was certainly the one that felt the most love for each other, the most connection, and it showed in the way we played."
"It's not the way that we wanted to end. You don't ever want to be losers of the Super Bowl. But then again you can't let that totally take away from the season that we had. We did have a great season this year. We just weren't able to finish it off the way that we would have liked to."
--Bears tight end Desmond Clark
"We were in the Super Bowl. What more can you say? We didn't win it, but we were there. Obviously we had a great year."
-- running back Thomas Jones
"Because of the situation, not everyone watched. A lot of people were a little disgusted it was on such a small TV. It was hard to see."
-- pastor Joe Drovich, on his church get together that was foiled by the NFL. Ten other TVs were shut off.
"I don't think they'll do it, because it's all about the money. They want more people in their living room so they can get the Nielsen ratings and charge more for advertising."
-- John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute (Pennlive.com)
"Officially, I've probably only been listed as having three or four concussions in my career. But the real number is closer to 30, maybe even more. I've been dinged so many times I've lost count."
-- former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson
"I want people to realize that you don't have to 'black out' to have a concussion. Most times, the symptoms of a concussion don't show up for hours, sometimes days. And this isn't just happening in the NFL. High school kids get concussions, and aren't properly monitored. Every day there is a new study linking concussions to depression, as well as early onset of Alzheimer's disease. It doesn't have to happen. It shouldn't happen. I don't want anyone to end up like me."
-- Ted Johnson
"If Ted felt so strongly that he didn't feel he was ready to practice with us, he should have told me."
-- Bill Belichick
"I told him, 'You played God with my health. You knew I shouldn't have been cleared to play, and you gave me that blue jersey anyway.' Bill said, 'I had to see if you could play.' That's when I lost it. I told him, 'After all these years, you had to see if I could play?'"
-- Ted Johnson
"What they did to Ted was just wrong."
-- Roman Phifer
"I'm not saying what the team did is right. But if Ted thought his health was in danger, he never should have put on that blue jersey. You have to be your own advocate."
-- unidentified Patriots player
"Bill finally admitted, 'Hey, Ted, I [expletive]. I made a mistake.' "
"It's not just the New England Patriots that need to change how they do things. It's the entire culture of the NFL."
-- Johnson (Boston Globe)
"I'm sure in part of that conversation I apologized for things I said or did, as he did for his actions and his emotions following his decision to leave the team. If I made a mistake or hurt Ted in any way, I don't feel good about that. I felt as though we left that meeting saying, 'We've both made mistakes. Let's move forward and get on a higher level.' And that's what we did."
"In fact, I remember seeing Ted in the weight room a few weeks later and him saying, 'I'm glad we had that talk. I feel a lot better about how things are.' "
"The one touchdown the Jets scored was my fault. I adjusted incorrectly. I was supposed to be the play caller, the middle linebacker, and half the time I didn't know what the hell was going on. On the very first play of the game, the tight end got open for a big gain because I vacated the spot in the zone where I was supposed to be. Our safety, Lawyer Milloy, was waving his arms at me, trying to direct me, but I was so confused I didn't know where to go."
"I remember one game when I was in the completely wrong coverage. I'm yelling to Mike Vrabel to go outside, and he's looking at me like I'm crazy. I was telling him the exact opposite of what he should have been doing."
"Looking back, it was stupid not to tell anyone. But I didn't know then that every time you have a concussion, you are four to six times more susceptible the next time. I had no idea the damage I was causing myself."
"After [Junior] Seau went down I must have gotten 10 messages from my friends saying, 'You're going to get a call, you're going to get a call.' And I never did... But say he [Belichick] did call, I could go out there right now and do goal-line, short-yardage stuff."
-- Johnson, as quoted by Michael Felger in the Boston Herald, December 20, 2006
"Johnson, who shed about 10-15 pounds from his playing days, said the post-concussion syndrome that led him to retire two years ago never prevented him from playing. He just made a choice."
-- Felger, same article
"Robert [Kraft] has always cared for him. But Ted Johnson is a very sick young man. We've been aware of the emotional issues he's had for years. You can't blame all of his behavior on concussions."
-- team official
"We will have World Wars IV and V before we have resolution on the pension issue. You can't win that argument... If we go out and do the things that we are capable of doing for these players, the league and the association will have to come along, because otherwise they will really look stupid."
-- Bob Schmidt, Willie Wood's former University of Southern California teammate and long-time attorney.
"I just pray that the other people have an impact on the league, or the pension fund, or the players association, but these are guys who need help right now, today. Virtually everyone we've asked has donated something."
-- Packers OL Jerry Kramer. Kramer's leading the fight to raise money for destitute former NFL players.
"You have to be in a coma before you get anything."
-- OL Conrad Dobler
"It's time to quit the bitching and put together an organization to get help where the players need help. By God, if nobody is going to take care of us, we will do it ourselves."
"It's an absolute disgrace that the former players, who were [cheated] all along, have to give up the things that they earned. If the industry was suffering, then guys could say, "Hey, we understand it.' But it's not. It's booming. We're forgotten, but we're not gone."
-- former G Joe DeLamielleure, who has been receiving a $992-per-month pension, which would have been $2,200 if he could have waited until age 55.
"It's not about that, it's about the ancillary benefits the modern player has. We are very happy for the active player. They have finally gotten what they sorely deserve. We would just like everybody to understand that the pioneers who made this game great have been left out in the cold for a long, long time."
-- former Baltimore Colt Bruce Laird (Buffalo News)
"I think I am getting out at the right time because I am not able to enjoy playing football as much as I used to," he said during a conference call from his home in Salt Lake City. "I think I could play two or three more years. I don't feel that my abilities on Sundays have waned at all, but I do feel that every year I play beyond this point would limit my ability to play in the backyard with my kids."
-- former Steelers center Jeff Hartings
"The guy's never put his hand in the dirt."
-- Bears DT Tommie Harris, on NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. (WFAN.com)
"I can definitely, positively, and categorically say that the Cleveland Browns are NOT up for sale. There is no letter that I know of stating that fact. I adore this team. I am working feverishly to make this a better team, and you can quote me."
-- Browns owner Randy Lerner (WKYC.com)
"You really shouldn't be able to fail a test like that and play in this league, to begin with. To make the Pro Bowl and all the other awards, I think you're walking a fine line of sending the wrong message."
-- Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor, on Shawne Merriman.
"I'm very excited. Just the fact that [Cowboys owner/general manager] Jerry Jones was willing to wait this long to talk to me is exciting."
--Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera (DFW.com)
"The combine is more of the 'president's physical fitness team,' who can run and jump, run and stretch. The combine is really not fair to those kids because you are talking about kids who you bring in the day before and you keep them up all night with physicals and you want to interview them, then you ask them to get up early in the morning and run a 40-yard sprint."
-- Herman Edwards (KCChiefs.com)
"If you knew Tamba, he probably worked too hard to prepare himself for his workout and then ended up not working out well because that's what kind of kid he is. If you know that going in, you have a better understanding of why he didn't do some things as well as you would have liked him to do. Maybe, in retrospect, that kind of helped us because some of the teams ahead of use questioned him. I sure am happy that they didn't pick him and that we got him."
-- Herm on Tambi Hali
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36 comments, Last at 12 Feb 2007, 12:05am by emcee fleshy (atl/sd)