Possibly the closest Super Bowl matchup in history also poses the question: how much does it mean when certain aspects of an NFL team improve dramatically in the second half of the season?
04 Oct 2007
compiled by Ben Riley
"Not maybe the perfect scenario."
-- Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt's initial description of the quarterback controversy between Matt Leinart and Kurt Warner, after Warner efficiently led the Cardinals' "no-huddle package" against the Baltimore Ravens (USA Today)
"I know that this is my team. I know I'm the quarterback of this team. I'm competitive. I'm not just going to throw in the towel and give in to what everyone is saying. I'm going to go out there, work harder."
-- Matt Leinart, prior to the Cardinals-Steelers game last Sunday
"If you're saying it motivates me, maybe, maybe not."
-- Leinart, during the same interview (Arizona Republic)
"[It] is a little bit weird. And yet, 'Why not?'"
-- Kurt Warner, describing the Cardinals' unusual quarterback-by-committee situation (also prior to the Steelers game)
"If you take away the four drops from his stats and ... compare the protection ... I don't think you can say Kurt played that much better."
-- Whisenhunt, comparing the performance of his two quarterbacks against the Ravens
"If Matt continues to work on his game and make plays like he did against Seattle, like he did in situations in this game [against the Ravens] where if the balls had been caught ... I don't think there becomes a controversy. If Matt doesn't play well and continues to not play well, that's something you have to look at. But that's not the case here. That's not what happened."
-- Whisenhunt, fooling exactly no one (East Valley Tribune)
"I'd be lying if I said it was easy to handle. In the middle of the game [after he was benched] I wasn't sure what was going on."
-- Leinart, after being benched for a second time and after Warner led the Cardinals to victory over the Steelers (East Valley Tribune)
"I just want them to ride or die with me. If I'm the franchise quarterback, play me and let me stumble, because I'll fight through it, and that will help me and our team in the long run."
"I know coaches want to win now, and I guess they have their reasons. But I don't understand it, and this switching back and forth is almost worse than getting benched."
-- Leinart (Yahoo! Sports)
"None of that was said. I don't really recall ever saying any of those things to anyone. I'm not sure why it was written that way or said that way. But that's not my problem."
-- Leinart, issuing a half-hearted denial of the quotes reported by Yahoo! Sports
"Let me just give a little advice to Matt Leinart: Shut up."
-- Cris Collinsworth on Inside the NFL
"We have two guys who are unique ... two unselfish guys who have a very good relationship ... There's no question in his demeanor on the field and his relationship with Kurt and what he does ... that he's committed to doing whatever it takes to win. I have no questions about that whatsoever."
-- Whisenhunt, half-heartedly denying that Warner is the new Cardinals starting quarterback (East Valley Tribune)
"I joke with Matt, 'Hey, I'm pretty good,' but that's part of this, too. It's a hard situation for him; if I were the starter, I'd be upset. As the backup, I have no complaints. All I can ask for is a chance to play every week. It's working, for now. We'll see how it plays out."
-- Warner, after beating the Steelers
"The whole thing is weird. He sits Matt all that time, then puts him back in and has him throwing deep? It's just weird. I don't see how it can work. But that's just me."
-- Steelers quarterback -- and vocal Whisenhunt detractor -- Ben Roethlisberger, after the Cardinals beat the Steelers (Yahoo! Sports)
"I know what Matt's going through."
-- Roethlisberger, commenting on the Warner-Leinart confusion prior to the Cardinals-Steelers game
"Is that good or bad? I think Ben had a couple of perfect passer ratings and I think he won a Super Bowl, so if that's a product of it, then that's not bad."
-- Whisenhunt, reacting to Roethlisberger's comment (Arizona Republic)
"The [Bengals] fans getting all lathered up for a third-and-2 stop, and Mr. Cool, Mr. Magazine Cover, Mr. Photo Spread just strolling on over..."
-- Mike Tirico, describing Tom Brady as he walked to the Patriots sidelines at the end of the third quarter during the Monday night Patriots-Bengals game
-- Ron Jaworski, interrupting Tirico
"Are you suggesting I have a man-crush on Tom Brady?"
-- Kornheiser, after a pause
"Yeah I am."
"Have you seen those photos? I've seen the girlfriends, c'mon."
"He [Tom Brady] is 'The Boss' of New England sports. To the fourth quarter, Patriots by 14."
-- Tirico, as Bruce Springsteen played in the background before the commercial break
"I couldn't see the ball. My helmet sat too high on my head."
-- 49ers wide receiver Darrell Jackson, explaining why he dropped the likely winning touchdown catch against the Cardinals in Week 1. Jackson later reduced the size of his afro.
"I just had problems with one dude. It just so happened it was the head dude. Everything else was cool."
-- Jackson, describing his contentious relationship with Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell that led to his trade for a fourth-round pick
"His personality, he acts like a hippie in the late '60s as a laid-back guy."
-- 49ers head coach Mike Nolan, describing Jackson (San Francisco Chronicle)
"It's my Madden belt. I just let everybody know I'm the champ."
-- Lions wide receiver Roy Williams, explaining why he was giving a press conference while wearing an imitation boxing championship belt
"I'm good at everything we do. If we had a bowling champion, I'd be the bowling champ."
-- Williams, who's about eleven times funnier than a certain wide receiver in Cincinnati
"If we had a cooking champ I'd be the cooking champ."
"I'm good at everything."
-- Williams (Oakland Press)
"The pizza man knows when he comes to my address, he's coming for free. But I am real polite and I say, 'Thank you, sir.'''
-- Williams (on WDFN Radio in Detroit and as quoted by Peter King in Sports Illustrated)
"If you don't want to be on this team, please don't show up! You don't call the offense, you don't call the plays. You just play."
-- Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, delivering a "profanity-laced tirade" to his team after the Bengals lost to the Patriots on Monday night
"Nowhere in the NFL do guys act like this. We've got to figure this out."
-- Lewis, during the tirade (ESPN.com)
"I'm just as upset, obviously, as I can be. Right now, we're finding a way to play not well enough to win. We're going to see who we're going to fight with. If we have to make changes, we'll make changes."
-- Lewis, after calming down a bit, during the post-game press conference (Cincinnati Enquirer)
"You all ready? All right, I'm going to be honest. I think the players owe the fans an apology. I would be as upset as they are if I had to sit in the stands for four hours and look at that garbage. I'm going to be honest with you. That's what it was, garbage."
-- Panthers defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, venting after the Panthers lost to the Buccaneers, 20-7
"As a team collectively, we have no heart. We have no energy. We have no drive."
"This is not a 9-to-5 job. This is a game. It is a street fight. It is a gladiator sport and I apologize that sometimes I don't look the part for what people want me to be. I'm not the weight that everybody wants me to be. But when I step on that field, what you are going to see is pride and heart because I value this game."
"Right now, my heart hurts."
"It is a professional sport and you have people out here, such as myself, who love this game enough that they're going to put it all out on the field. Tampa Bay came and they did that and they royally broke their foot off in our butt. I have nothing else to say."
-- Jenkins (Charlotte Observer)
"Logic isn't always the answer for a number of reasons."
-- Rams head coach Scott Linehan, struggling to explain why he played an injured and ineffective Marc Bulger against the Cowboys
"Last year, he played with a very similar injury, and played his best football. He's our quarterback."
-- Linehan, making a dubious causal inference
"We have no other options right now."
-- Rams offensive coordinator Greg Olson, apparently unaware of the continued existence of Gus Frerotte. Yesterday, the Rams announced that they will start Frerotte against the Cardinals this Sunday. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
"I loved holding the touchdown record for the past 13 years. But if someone was going to break it, I'm glad it was someone like you, who has always competed at the highest level and always played to win."
-- Dan Marino, issuing an Orwellian-like video statement of appreciation to Brett Favre after Favre broke Marino's career record for touchdown passes. Favre appeared to ignore Big Brother Marino's statement in its entirety. (ESPN.com)
"I didn't have anything in my contract about the ability to control trades, which is why I'm riding this bus right now.''
-- Former Atlanta Falcons head coach -- and current head coach of the Portland State Vikings -- Jerry Glanville, Brett Favre's first coach in the NFL, pondering how his life might have been different had the Falcons not traded Favre to the Packers.
"Jerry kept telling me what a problem Brett was. When the season ended, he made it clear that Brett would be nothing more than a third-team quarterback for us. He told me, 'If you can get a first-round pick for him, you're a genius.'''
-- Former Atlanta Falcons general manager Ken Herock, having none of it(Sports Illustrated)
"Brian is our quarterback, yes."
-- Bears head coach Lovie Smith, who seems to have developed a reflex muscle in his throat to answer the "Who is the Bears' quarterback this week?" question.
"It's not a good sign when the Bears are throwing 52 times."
-- Bears right tackle Fred Miller, accurately diagnosing part of the problem
"I think that's where we're all kind of scratching our heads around here."
-- Miller, when asked why the coaching staff had Griese throw 52 times against the Lions (ESPN.com)
"I think the first week Coach Holmgren didn't have [Deion Branch] on his fantasy team, and then he was able to trade for him and it really changed everything."
-- Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, explaining why Deion Branch's numbers have improved since Week 1
"I got a real team. It's not fantasy. It's real, live."
-- Hasselbeck,, when asked whether he too participated in fantasy football (Tacoma News-Tribune)
"There has been a bad rap that all you're doing is further enriching an owner if you give public funds for a new stadium. But that is not the case. It's a fallacy."
-- Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, explaining why it's a fallacy to think that taxing the public to build a private stadium does not enrich the owner who receives the benefit of playing in the new stadium. (Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune)
"We're built to be consistent on the long term. We have a commitment to getting a team that is not built for a one-shot affair, so to speak. We want to build a team that's consistent for many, many years to come. For decades to come."
-- Wilf, failing to elaborate on what sort of consistency the Vikings are seeking (CBS Sportsline)
"I told them they need to win games."
-- Minnesota State Senator Tom Bakk, on what it will take for the Vikings to secure public financing for a new stadium (Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune)
"When you look at it, it's so true because we're still slaves in so many ways. If you look at the things the slaves were doing when we didn't have any rights, we're still doing them now but without chains. We have more freedom, but at the same time, if we get out of line, [the establishment] will get us back right, real fast."
-- Jaguars wide receiver Dennis Northcutt, describing the first takeaway point from his summer book reading, "$40 Million Slaves: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Black Athlete"
"I don't think a black person, ever in a million years, would know that black jockeys at one time dominated the sport. Have you ever seen a black jockey? That chapter was amazing."
-- Northcutt, describing the second takeaway point (Florida Times-Union)
"It pays tribute to football players. The amount of sweat they go through, and they're eating dirt and grass and using sports creams -- those were the four flavors that really resonated with them."
-- Peter van Stolk, CEO of Jones Soda (the official soft-drink provider for the Seattle Seahawks), explaining why Seahawks-related Jones Sodas come in Dirt, Sports Cream, Perspiration, and Natural Field Turf flavors (Seattle Times)
"I called the team up, and I said, 'You're doing great.'"
-- Herm, describing his halftime speech (at the time, the Chiefs were trailing the Chargers 16-6)
"They all looked at me, like, 'Do you know what the score is?' and I said: 'You're really doing good. We're fine.' They trust me enough to when I say something, they know I'm telling the truth."
"What we've done well is we survived. We got into that (0-2) wreck again, but we had our seat belts on, and we got out of the car, took it to the auto shop, knocked out the dents, and we're starting to roll again."
-- Herm (Kansas City Star)
"People ask me what was I thinking last week? It's the truth. I was thinking that. But you can think a lot of things; but until you react it's just a thought. There are a lot of things you think but you don't react. That's just part of football."
-- Herm, explaining his comment a week ago that he "thought about" replacing Damon Huard with Brodie Croyle (KCChiefs.com)
"There's a lot worse things. I could be over in Iraq right now."
-- Rams quarterback Marc Bulger, putting his rib injury into perspective (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
"We're forced into a situation [where] our backs are against the wall. This is a must-win for us. Write it how you want to write it. We will win on Sunday."
-- Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter, prior to the Dolphins home game against the Oakland Raiders. The Dolphins lost, 35-17. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
"When the ball bounces off your head, you can't use too many excuses other than, "I'm an idiot.'"
wide receiver tight end Dallas Clark (Colts.com)
"Everything goes from HD to regular TV, and that's the truth."
-- Patriots tight end Ben Watson, offering to switch roles with linebacker Mike Vrabel (Providence Journal)
"That's the passion of the fans. That's the way they are. It's never going to change."
-- Chargers general manager A.J. Smith, describing Chargers' fans newly discovered passion for chanting "MAR-TY, MAR-TY." (North County Times)
"Everybody was saying, 'It looked like a video game out there for you.'"
-- Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora, after sacking Donovan McNabb six times and possibly singlehandedly ending the career of Eagles left tackle Winston Justice. (Sports Illustrated)
"The day before I got called by the Seahawks, I got pooped on by a cow."
-- Seattle's newly signed long snapper, Jared Retkofsky, who had been working on a ranch in Texas (Tacoma News-Tribune)
-- Text message sent by Corey Dillon to his agent, Steve Feldman, after Feldman texted Dillon to ask if he was interested in playing for the Buccaneers (ESPN.com)
Send your quotes -- along with a link to your source -- to quotes-at-footballoutsiders.com, just like Andrew and "bobman" did this week. This week's TWIQ is offensive to any man or woman, whether black, white, or purple.
84 comments, Last at 06 Oct 2007, 5:33pm by Alex