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Two NFC teams were hit hardest by injuries last year. One already set the AGL record in 2016, while the other has a coach with the worst AGL since 2002. Also: the Rams' incredible bill of health in L.A., and Tampa Bay's questionable injury reporting.

28 Aug 2005

Four Downs: AFC West

by Mike Tanier

Denver Broncos

Special Attention

On a Tuesday morning practice after Denver's preseason opener against the Texans, Mike Shanahan stopped a special teams drill to chew out his coverage units. The next day, Shanahan kicked rookie Brandon Brower out of a special teams drill for giving a poor effort.

Why is Shanahan so steamed at his special teams? Against the Texans, the coverage teams made some mistakes, giving up a 31-yard return after a short kickoff on one play. The blocking units were worse, giving rookie return man Darrent Williams little room to run. The team finished 22nd and 23rd in the NFL in special teams DVOA in the past two years, so they put a premium on special teams in the offseason, drafting Williams and signing punter Todd Sauerbrun, and Shanahan wants to see dividends.

His mid-week tongue-lashing had mixed results against the Niners. Punt returner Charlie Adams had 39- and 29-yard returns late in the game, putting some serious pressure on Williams. But the coverage units still weren't sharp, Sauerbrun had a punt partially blocked, and even Jason Elam missed two field goals. Against the Colts, Adams and Williams had little room to run, and the kickoff coverage teams were ordinary.

Elam, of course, should be fine. The blocked punt was Tatum Bell's fault, as he failed to stop the Niners' Keith Lewis from crashing through the line. Sauerbrun's other punts against the Niners and Colts were Mile High moon shots. And rookie kickoff specialist Paul Ernster is recovering from a hip injury and starting to place the ball around the end zone. The major problems appear to be blown assignments and a "going through the motions" attitude.

Adams' likely promotion should help shake things up. The Broncos were one of the worst punt returning teams in the NFL last year; Triandos Luke was ineffective when healthy, so the team resorted to Rod Smith as a punt returner. Adams, a third-year pro, had three punt returns in 2004, but one was a 39-yarder. His experience gives him the edge over Williams, who has tremendous talent but doesn't look comfortable in the backfield yet.

And if Bell can't get the job done as Sauerbrun's personal protector, there are other running backs on the roster looking for a role.

Broncos News Briefs

Depth Chart: Darrius Watts continues to sink down the depth chart, thanks to several dropped passes in the preseason, including one in the end zone against the Niners. Jerry Rice is ahead of him, and Adams' special teams performance may have earned him a roster spot. The team remains high on Watts as a prospect and won't be quick to release him ... Mike Anderson's teammates wanted him to start even before he tore up the Colts. Jake Plummer said he favored Anderson in an interview last week; no doubt Plummer likes having a blocker as good as Anderson in the backfield with him ... Bradlee Van Pelt has all but wrapped up the backup spot behind Plummer.

Third Round Pick Update: With Champ Bailey sidelined, third-round pick Domonique Foxworth has been starting and playing well. Fellow third-rounder Karl Paymah, currently the nickel corner, has also had a solid camp. Return man Darrent Williams, the second round pick, has also been effective in nickel packages, but his 5-foot-8 frame limits him. When Bailey returns, look for the Broncos to play mix-and-match with the three defensive backs: Williams or the 180-pound Foxworth can line up against small slot receivers, the 200-pound Paymah against big slot receivers and small tight ends. Wait, you were thinking of some other third round pick?

Bonus Maurice Clarett Rant

I have no particular fondness for Maurice Clarett. I didn't want him to win his suit against the NFL. I don't think 19-year-olds belong in the NFL. I think the league's "three years after high school" policy is legally dubious, but I would be pleased if the league and the NFLPA added airtight language to the collective bargaining agreement setting a minimum age for league entry.

When I covered Clarett for Sports Forecaster two years ago, he stuck me as callow, immature, and moody, a pouter tied a little too tightly to his mom's apron strings. He struck me as a young man all-too eager to accept the worst advice and take the easy way out whenever possible.

In other words, he seemed like a teenager. And of course he was. And now he's 21 years old, old enough to buy a beer but not necessarily old enough to make brilliant career decisions.

We expect our young athletes to be preternaturally mature like Peyton Manning, or so overwhelmingly gifted like LeBron James that they can be instantly encased in a multi-million dollar cocoon, protecting them from minor judgment lapses. But Clarett was neither of those, nor was he a vicious, violent thug like Lawrence Philips. He's a talented kid who doesn't like to be uncomfortable and doesn't realize that discomfort is part of growing up. He's like the former students who e-mail me or see me on the street and tell me how college didn't work out, how they're going to work at Wawa for a year until they figure things out. Or he's like I was at 21, screwing up my first job because I still had one hand on a keg tap.

I think, though, that I'm the only sportswriter in the world who was ever 19 years old, or 21, or who ever knew anyone that age. The ESPN sports-yakkers, all 300 of them, have lined up to take their shots at Clarett in recent weeks. Jim Rome, the PTI guys, Joe Theisman, you name 'em, they all piled on. There's something unseemly about middle aged journalists incessantly bashing a near adolescent, not for drinking and driving or beating a girlfriend or lying to Congress about steroids, but about nursing an injury and reacting badly to the pressures of training camp. It was all overblown, self-righteous, and lazy: potshots taken at a target that was already crashing to earth.

Clarett was the last of 37 players drafted in the third round this year. For the other 36 players, their efforts to make their teams are minor news: Four Downs news, not "Around the Horn" news. If Rome or Steven A. Smith mentions Clarett again, they should be required to put together a couple of intelligent sentences about third-rounders like Nick Kaczur or Leroy Hill. That way, we'll know they are actually talking about football, not just whipping the most convenient mule.

Kansas City Chiefs

Deep Defenders

The Chiefs faced a double-whammy at linebacker for years. Their starters weren't very good, and there was almost no depth behind them. The only thing worse than watching Shawn Barber and Kawika Mitchell play was worrying that they would get hurt and force Quniton Caver into the lineup.

This year, the linebacker problem appears to be solved. Free agent Kendrell Bell, Mitchell, and rookie Derrick Johnson are the starters. And there is plenty of depth behind them.

Bell didn't play in the team's first two preseason games, but he's not hurt; the coaches are just limiting his work to keep him healthy. Johnson has been playing with the first team but is clearly still learning. The big story in the preseason has been Mitchell, who seemed to catch on to Gunther Cunningham's scheme late last season and has picked up where he left off in exhibition play.

Behind the starters are rookies Kris Griffin and Boomer Grigsby, second-year players Rich Scanlon and Keyaron Fox, and veterans Gary Stills and Scott Fujita. Griffin, an undrafted rookie from Quahog -- oops, Indiana, Pennsylvania -- has been starting in Bell's absence. Scanlon and Fox made names for themselves in minicamp, though Fox has been battling injuries. Grigsby, a fifth round pick, may be Mitchell's backup in the middle. Stills is one of the best special teamers in the NFL. Fujita appeared to be the odd man out before a great game against the Cardinals. He has experience as a starter and has proven effective as a pass rusher.

Hardly lost in the shuffle was former starter Mike Maslowski, who hasn't played since injuring his knee late in the 2003 season. Maslowski has been working hard at rehab but won't be ready for the start of the season. The Chiefs made it clear that they would re-sign Maslowski if/when he's ready to play, but the linebacker is battling back from tibial osteotomy, a major procedure that often marks the end of an athletic career.

Chiefs News Briefs

Depth Chart: If Trent Green gets hurt, the Chiefs are officially done. Todd "Blow This Out Your Speakerboxx" Collins has a fractured hand. Damon Huard completed one pass in 12 attempts against the Cardinals. James Killian, the rookie from Tulsa, was 5-for-20 against the Cardinals' third string. Jonathan Quinn, so awful that the Bears released him, is back to provide additional comic relief (Quinn was somewhat effective against the Seahawks on Saturday). What does Carl Peterson have against real backup quarterbacks? Collins backed up Jim Kelly, Huard backed up Dan Marino, so maybe the Chiefs should try to get former Elway backup Tommy Maddox from the Steelers (good luck). Or they could get Gary Kubiak or Bill Musgrave out of the coaching booth, or sign Jeff Lewis, or ...

Disorderly Conduct: What they taught me in college journalism classes: 1) "dog bites man" is not news; 2) "man bites dog" is news. 3) "kicker breaks bouncer's nose" is real news. But the mainstream press is ably handling the barroom hijinks of Lawrence Tynes. And Collins (who climbed onto a speaker at a bar and refused to get down two weeks ago). And Green. And Greg Wesley. And Junior Siavii (okay, hotel room hijinks). None of the incidents should have a major impact on the Chiefs. Tynes is struggling in preseason, but the team hasn't brought in another kicker. Collins has no business being in the NFL at this point anyway. Wesley and Savaii aren't expected to miss any time. And Dick Vermeil is likely to set curfew for 6:00 PM from now on.

The Cornerbacks: Eric Warfield will miss four games with a suspension. He'll be replaced by a familiar face: Dexter McCleon. Free agents Ashley Ambrose and Dewayne Washington couldn't beat McCleon for the starting job; one of them will probably be released. The #1 CB is Patrick Surtain, the guy who got beat for a long touchdown by Darrell Jackson in the first quarter on Saturday night (and almost gave up another long touchdown). The Chiefs secondary has just one interception in three preseason games.

Oakland Raiders

None of this is News

Stop reading if you have heard any of this before:

Randy Moss smokes a lot of pot. Oh, my, stop the presses. Moss admitted to a being a (lower case) bud man to Bryant Gumbel, and the national media went into the histrionic overdrive they usually reserve for petulant third round draft picks who take too long to shake off a pulled groin. But San Francisco Chronicle columnist Peter Hartlaub reminds us that it takes more than a little weed to get locals to react. "In the liberal Bay Area, where there are more pot clubs than Krispy Kreme franchises, the Oakland Raider's casual weed smoking admission on HBO's 'Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel' merited about 12 seconds of discussion." Wait a minute: shouldn't there be exactly the same number of pot clubs and Krispy Kreme franchises, ideally right next door to each other?

Kerry Collins runs hot and cold. He was humming against the Texans, with two touchdown passes, including a bomb to Doug Gabriel. But just as he seemed invincible, he threw a red zone pass right to Houston DB Marcus Coleman. Collins commits red zone turnovers the way Bay Area potheads ingest Krispy Kremes. Then there was the safety against the Cardinals; Collins was nailed by Chike Okeafor and fumbled through the back of the end zone, making the score 3-2 (get the bullpen up). Collins redeemed himself with a 40-yard strike to Moss.

Al Davis likes suing people. He's asking the California Supreme Court for a retrial of his $1.2 billion suit against the NFL. Just keeping score, here: suing the league makes you a charming maverick if you are a multi-millionaire, but it's an unconscionable sin if you are an immature 19-year old who doesn't like playing college football for free.

Derrick Gibson is the starting safety. Gibson disappointed the team for three solid years before injuring his shoulder last August. The former first round pick makes poor reads, recognizes plays late, and can be broken down in the open field. But last year's starter Marques Anderson was released, so Gibson is back in the lineup. Look for him on the highlight reels, about one step behind the receiver scoring the touchdown. Luckily, according to Peter Hartlaub, Raiders fans will have no trouble finding ways to ease the pain.

Raiders News Briefs

Depth Chart: Courtney Anderson is the starter at tight end. Teyo Johnson has had a lousy camp and may not make the team. Zeron Flemister, a hard-blocking H-back type, has been getting a lot of reps as a second tight end. It makes sense that a team with two outstanding wideouts would want tight ends who block first and don't expect many passes, unlike Johnson, who is more of a poor man's Antonio Gates. Also in the mix is ... Ricky Dudley? That can't be right. Yep, the man with the hands of stone got lots of playing time against the Cardinals.

Heavy Jumbo: The Raiders opened the game against the Cardinals in a 4-3 set. Actually, it was more of a 6-1 set. 320+ pounders Warren Sapp and Ted Washington were at tackle. Tommy Kelly (300 pounds) and Bobby Hamilton (285) were at end. The outside linebackers were 285-pound Tyler Brayton and 285-pound Grant Irons. Danny Clark was the only normal linebacker. The Cardinals were in a normal two-back, two-WR set. Try running against that front.

San Diego Chargers

Mellow Marty

Last Tuesday's morning practice brought a familiar sight. There was Marty Schottenheimer, fuming after a lackluster set of drills, calling the team together. There was Schottenheimer, unleashing a tirade and ordering his players to repeat the exact same set of drills. And there he was again, delivering another lecture after saying that the effort improved "marginally at best" the second time around.

It was the Marty we all know and love, mainly because none of us ever had to play for him. It was the Schottenheimer Bruce Smith complained about in Washington, the one Deion Sanders still holds a personal grudge against. And it was a coach we have rarely seen in recent weeks.

That's right: Marty has mellowed. The Chargers had just eleven two-a-day workouts this year. There were few full-pad practices. Schottenheimer instead emphasized weights and conditioning, favoring an up-tempo camp over the trench warfare that made him notorius.

"Marty has changed tremendously from when I was with him my rookie year (1996) in Kansas City," linebacker Donnie Edwards told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I remember we had a stint where I think it was nine or 10 days in a row, with pads. Things have changed a lot." Schottenheimer admits that he has re-evaluated his strategy: with year-round conditioning programs and minicamps, the vicious practices of yesteryear are unnecessary and possibly counterproductive.

Hear that, Primetime? It's safe to go to San Diego if you tire of life with the Ravens.

Chargers News Briefs

Depth Chart: Drayton Florence will start at cornerback opposite Quentin Jammer. Sammy Davis will be the nickel corner, with Jamar Fletcher in the dime ... Shawne Merriman played with the third string against the Giants. He won't start (Ben Leber and Steve Foley are the outside linebackers), but he should soon earn a role in a blitz package.

Everybody Hurts: All three top draft picks have missed time in camp. Merriman battled toe and hamstring injuries but is back on the field. He is running well but looks lost at times. Luis Castillo has a sprained ankle. Vincent Jackson has missed a lot of time with a strained Achilles tendon; he's essentially fifth on the depth chart right now and won't make an impact in the early part of the season.

Tackle Technique: Learn to tackle the Matt Wilhelm way! The backup linebacker earned two facemask penalties against the Giants, and both were blatant. Kids, here's how not to do it: run full steam at the ball carrier, grab a fistfull of facemask, twist like you're trying to open a pickle jar, then let go and throw your hands up in a "my bad" shrug. For the record, Wilhelm's spot on the roster isn't completely safe.

This is the last edition of Four Downs: AFC West for 2005.
Thursday: The final Four Downs for the NFC South.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 28 Aug 2005

26 comments, Last at 30 Aug 2005, 10:23pm by Todd S.


by Red Lightning (not verified) :: Sun, 08/28/2005 - 7:52pm

Well, John Clayton over at ESPN is reporting that the Broncos will release Clarett on Monday. How stupid do you think he feels to have passed up that $410,000 signing bonus? And any bets on where he signs and for how much?

by JasonK (not verified) :: Sun, 08/28/2005 - 8:24pm

The Chargers don't play the Giants until Week 3. Perhaps you meant the Vikings (who they faced on Friday)?

by Reinhard (not verified) :: Sun, 08/28/2005 - 8:25pm

... and FURTHERMORE the complaint that never gets old is that the athletes are just chasing the huge signing bonus... doesnt it seem like an incentive based contract which pays you for what you produce is exactly whats being asked for here?

by NF (not verified) :: Sun, 08/28/2005 - 8:33pm

Tackle Technique: Learn to tackle the Matt Wilhelm way! The backup linebacker earned two facemask penalties against the Giants, and both were blatant. Kids, here’s how not to do it: run full steam at the ball carrier, grab a fistfull of facemask, twist like you’re trying to open a pickle jar, then let go and throw your hands up in a “my bad� shrug. For the record, Wilhelm’s spot on the roster isn’t completely safe.

He's going to get his butt kicked if he tries that in a real game. If he makes the starting lineup, there should be an "Offensive Player Unleashes a Can of Whoop-Ass on Matt Wilhelm" watch.

Also, if Maurice Clarett has any talent for picking up a handful of yards in short-yardage downs, and can block for the QB, expect the Eagles to look into him.

Lastly, no discussion of how the transplantation of the Browns linebacker crew is going?

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Sun, 08/28/2005 - 10:28pm

Amen on the Clarett rant. I don't know where he'll wind up, but I heard Dallas and Buffalo were very high on him on draft day.

Also, maybe it's just me, but I don't think that the 6-1 jumbo would be that daunting to run against. The outside linebackers are 285 pounds! How fast could they be?

by Independent George (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2005 - 12:01am

I agree on one thing - he's not Lawrence Phillips, and shouldn't be treated as if he were. Fortunately, I haven't seen any of the people you mentioned do so. The commentary may be overwrought, clicheed, even hypocritical, but it's also largely justified.

Is it really 'preternatural maturity' to expect an adult to act like an adult? When you screwed up your job at 21, how much sympathy did you get from the coworkers who had to cover for you? It's true that most of us are lucky enough to not have the world watching when we screw up. But that doesn't change the fact that it's a screwup.

by MikeT (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2005 - 12:49am

Clarett on the Eagles? Has Dorsey Levens finally started collecting Social Security? I just can't see it.

Chargers-Vikings, yep. That's what I meant.

by Israel (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2005 - 6:30am

"The team finished 22nd and 23rd in the NFL in special teams DVOA in the past two years, so they put a premium on special teams in the offseason"

"SO?" In order to use "so" in this sentence, Mike Shanahan has to look at DVOA rather than standard NFL rankings. Maybe he does and if so, good for him.

by Adam H (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2005 - 9:52am

"if Maurice Clarett has any talent for picking up a handful of yards in short-yardage downs, and can block for the QB, expect the Eagles to look into him."
I will eat this monitor I am staring blankly into if that actually happens. You all heard that. Look for Andy Reid to land an underwear modeling gig first.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2005 - 10:46am

Once someone is out of college and goes into the working world (even if it's as an athlete), I think society generally feels that their wild years are behind them and expects them to act like an adult, regardless of what their actual age is.

While a student, your peers will find it funny that you were drunk and missed class, or that you just didn't feel like doing some assignment because you were 'busy' playing your Xbox.

Once you're working, your coworkers will only think it's immature and stupid that you didn't show up for a meeting for reasons like that, and sometimes be annoyed with you even if the reason is simply that there was an accident on the freeway.

That said, Clarett has been quiet in camp, and is injured, and it's unfortunate he didn't get the chance he probably could have gotten had he been healthy. Even if I think he hasn't quite gone about everything the right way, I'd like to see him get a fair shot, and he didn't (of course, I also wonder if the fact that he didn't keep himself anywhere near in football shape during his years off didn't increase the probability of injury).

That also said, he has been getting (or more, he has been following) terrible advice from almost Day One - from leaving Ohio State (although due to all his violations he'd likely have been suspended for a year or more by the NCAA anyway), to the way he tried his suit against the NFL, to the way he showed up to the pre-draft workouts/combine overweight and out-of-shape, to his contract, it's clear that he needs to change the people he keeps around him, because they have completely derailed what could have been a promising career.


by Aaron (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2005 - 10:55am

Despite all the attention given to the Maurice Clarett release, I'd like to point out a much more important release from a fantasy football perspective: TE Patrick Hape. Hape is the guy who only got catches near the goal line and took TD opportunities away from Jeb Putzier. Hape's release moves Putzier up the TE rankings a couple spots and gives him a lot more upside.

Also, they waived Chad Friehauf, which makes this my final opportunity to write "Colorado School of Mines."

by carl s (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2005 - 11:18am

I think Clarett is a jerk, but I at least had a little bit of sympathy for him when it was him vs. the NCAA and the NFL's restricted rules. Why should he not be allowed to play if there are teams who think he is good enough? He got a lot of bad press for being money-grubbing, but what about the 37-year old vetran he would replace on some roster if he got drafted? The fact is that the rules protect that guy's salary while forcing kids who are good enough to play for free in college.

by Adam H (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2005 - 1:40pm

RE 8 I doubt they are using DVOA. Despite that fact, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect the Denver coaching staff to know thier special teams have sucked without access to a numerical value.

by Nolan (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2005 - 1:59pm

Carl s:

I think that the point is that they're not good enough for the NFL. The NFL doesn't want to end up where the NBA is. In the NBA, the first round of the draft is mostly 18- and 19-year-olds, who just aren't developed enough for the NBA. But they draft on potential - if they hold onto the kid for 3 or 4 years, he might be the next Kevin Garnett. But he might be the next Leon Smith, too. But all of the players with "great potential" go to 1 year of college, maximum, so they can't just draft the college seniors - none of them are going to be stars.

The NFL wants its players to be reasonably physically developed, so that they can start contributing sooner, and teams don't have to sink millions of dollars into players who haven't played above the high school level.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2005 - 6:40pm

Re #11: I think Hape's release benefits Alexander more than Putzier. According to all published reports, Alexander is a much better blocker, and Putzier's blocking hasn't been developing as anticipated. This means Alexander will see far more action on the goal line, which is where Hape's numbers all came.

Also, my dad went to Colorado School of Mines. He minored in mining. Seriously.

by Tom W. (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2005 - 7:14pm

I thought Clarett was overrated at OSU so wasn't exactly surprised when he was unimpressive in pre-draft workouts. I was shocked that anyone, especially Denver, would've taken him in the 3rd round, and I find your bleeding heart defense of him kind of amusing in light of your almost daily rips on Ron Dayne. I guess it's not as entertaining to make fun of players who went to cool schools like Ohio State, even if it was only for one year.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2005 - 8:03pm


There are a few ways I like to think about it. The first is the altruistic way: the NFL wants to encourage players to get a higher education so that if something goes wrong, they have a fallback. This is altruistic, and it's entirely debatable that the NFL shouldn't be doing this. It's also debatable that the NFL gives a crap at all. I agree that it's totally unlikely that this is the total reason. I also agree it's possible the NFL doesn't give a crap. But this is still a decent argument.

The second argument is that football actually does require intelligence and maturity to play safely. It's not crazy to force kids to mature for their own safety. Again, this is altruistic. So the cynics among you can completely discard it.

teams don’t have to sink millions of dollars into players who haven’t played above the high school level.

But here, of course, is the reason that the cynics agree with. It's about the money, stupid - high school football isn't much like NFL football. College isn't entirely either, but it's closer. The cynic will say that the NFL doesn't want high school graduates in the draft because they ruin the entire scouting process.

Note that it's entirely possible for an altruistic reason to be valid even if a cynical reason exists as well. I think it's a very good thing that the NFL forces football players to play in college for the backup career reason. Clarett should've thought about that one a bit more.

(Then again, this is the same OSU that gives class credit for sitting in an "O" in the stadium on game day)

by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Tue, 08/30/2005 - 12:18am

Mike, I haven't finished reading your article yet, but I just had to post how much I appreciated your Clarett "rant". In fact it was the opposite of a rant, the most humane and thoughtful thing I've every heard anyone say about the guy.


by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 08/30/2005 - 10:33am

Re #16 Tom W.

What does FO's harping on Dayne for being a crappy football player on the field have to do with Clarette's situation? Dayne had his shot at a career (and still has a shot). It looks like Clarette's is pretty much over already. I don't really see why you think the two are comparable.

by Tom W (not verified) :: Tue, 08/30/2005 - 12:55pm

re: #19
My point in bringing up Dayne is this: Why does Maurice Clarett deserve our sympathy, while Dayne, who has never had any off-field problems of any kind, is continually ridiculed simply for not playing up to expectations, placing him in the same group as at least half of the Heisman winners in history (how are Andre Ware and Desmond Howard doing these days?). Maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but with last year's NCAA basketball tourney still fresh in my mind, it seems as though, for whatever reason the national media takes great relish in portraying UW teams and players as lumbering, talentless clods. And as far as Clarett, while I don't know all of the particulars of his situationin Denver, when was the last time you heard of 3rd round draft pick being waived on the first cut without even getting on the field in a pre-season game, signing bonus or not. What does that tell you? For one thing, that apparently Shanahan thought Clarett was a "crappier" football player than Dayne.

by Tom W (not verified) :: Tue, 08/30/2005 - 1:20pm

Just as an addendum to my last comment, if Clarett's career is "pretty much over", who's fault is that? It would be a real human tragedy if Maurice had to go back to school, and this time actually have to attend classes.

by Nolan (not verified) :: Tue, 08/30/2005 - 1:24pm

Pat: Then I guess that I'm a cynic. I do agree with you that there are benefits to the "3 years out of high school" rule (some of which you mentioned), though I don't really believe that those are the reasons why the rule is in place.

The cynic in me also suspects that there's another reason: the NCAA has a vested interest in keeping the college players in school for as long as possible, and perhaps encourages the NFL to keep the rule. Of course, the flip side of that is that maybe the NCAA wants to keep the players in school longer for their own benefit, but judging by the graduation rate of "big sport" athletes at large colleges, I don't think that I buy that.

by MikeT (not verified) :: Tue, 08/30/2005 - 4:18pm

Full Discloure:

I personally don't rip Ron Dayne.

He was in my homeroom when he was a freshman in high school.

The other writers tee off on him pretty hard, but let's face it: he isn't a very good NFL football player. He was a great high school and college player, and a nice kid when he was in school, but he isn't much of a pro running back.

by Tom W (not verified) :: Tue, 08/30/2005 - 5:31pm

Re Mike T's comment:
I just have one more thing to say on this, because I realize it's getting a little off the thread. I have no problem with anybody saying Ron Dayne hasn't been a very good pro player (though, in fairness, I don't think the Giants gave him much of an opportunity to succeed). I just don't think he deserves to be a punchline. That's all.

by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 08/30/2005 - 5:52pm

RE #20,21 Tom W.

I want to first make clear that I don't necessarily fully support Mike's comments about Clarette. I don't know his situation, and none of us really know how he came to make the decisions he did. However, I can understand Mike's point, and I think you were too harsh in comment #16 (which is why I spoke up to begin with). So I'm sort of playing Devil's Advocate here.

There's a difference between harping on a player because he plays poorly on the field (Dayne) and a person who never got a chance to play because poor decisions never got him onto the field (Clarette).

Dayne followed the path, got drafted, got a contract and got playing time. He is only judged by his production on the field which is totally appropriate considering that's what football commentary is all about (judging players on the field). He's ripped on FO because he hasn't performed even close to his expectations as a high first round pick. While he's not unique to that situation, neither is he undeserving of the treatment. On a football commentary website, poor football players are called out for playing football poorly.

With Clarette however, we'll never know what his actual potential was. Mike's main point seems to be that he is bashed unforgivingly not necessarily for poor play, but for poor life decisions. Whether he is deserving of that bashing is certainly a matter of opinion. Mike seems to make a pretty valid argument that Clarette doesn't deserve the treatment the media gives him because they're expecting too much out of a young kid who can't be expected to make good decisions for himself yet. At this point he's only peripheral to the game, and yet analyists just love to dump on him when he hasn't even gotten a chance to play.

So in the end, whether you think Clarette deserves what he's getting is up to you. But to call FO hypocritical (which is essentially what you did) for busting on Dayne and then not wanting to bust on Clarette doesn't seem right to me.

Good lord this is longer than it should be. But after putting in the effort to write it, I'll just post it and let everyone ignore it after the first three lines. :^P

by Todd S. (not verified) :: Tue, 08/30/2005 - 10:23pm

Just a quick comment to say that I really appreciated the humor in this article. Funny stuff, MikeT!