compiled by Ben Riley
THE LONGEST DRIVE
"I never thought the end would come like this -- with me holding the end of my life's passion in one hand and a foot long Italian sub on wheat in the other."
-- Journeyman offensive lineman Ross Tucker, who was cut by the Washington Redskins last week
"I asked Mr. Snyder's assistant if I could thank the Redskins owner for the opportunities he had given me. In his office, I choked up a bit as I said, 'Thank you so much for giving an undrafted free agent rookie from Princeton an opportunity in 2001. You really changed my life.' It's true -- the Redskins gave me my first and my last chance at my dream. In an attempt to lighten the mood I told Mr. Snyder I still had one claim to fame. 'I am pretty sure that I am the only 28-year-old Princeton grad that has been fired five times already.' He laughed."
"They tell you to never look at the number of guys at your position or to not worry about who they sign and to just focus on playing your best. Yeah, right. Every time I hear a player say, 'I don't worry about any of that, I just do the best that I can,'' I chuckle. Although all of us block those thoughts out when we are on the field and simply compete as hard as we can, I find it very hard to believe that those guys never think in bed at night what may happen or what the coaches might do."
"Nothing else in life can replicate the feeling of running into another man in front of 90,000 people and hitting him as hard as you possibly can."
"My mom will probably hate reading this, but more than the paycheck or the camaraderie of the locker room, I will really miss the violence."
"Unless you have been there, nobody knows what it is like to drive home and look your wife in the eyes and tell her that you weren't able to get the job done."
-- Tucker (read Tucker's entire essay, written at the request of Sports Illustrated's Peter King, here)
INDECISION CLOUDS MY VISION/ NO-ONE LISTENS/ BECAUSE I'M SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN/ MY LOVE AND MY AGONY...
"We've gone through the off-season, training camp and the preseason with Byron [Leftwich] as our starter, but after thorough ongoing evaluation of the entire body of work, we have made the decision that David [Garrard] gives us the best chance to win. We're naming David as our starting quarterback."
-- Schizophrenic Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio
"This is a strong team with a solid roster and we feel that David's performance and continuing improvement warrants this decision to name him the starter. Byron has been a very important part of this team and this is a significant move to make, but it is a move we feel gives us the best chance of winning."
-- Del Rio
"There are many very difficult decisions that have to be made and this is certainly one of the most difficult decisions we've faced. But once the decision is made, we move on together with conviction."
-- Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver (Jaguars.com)
"Preseason is certainly not the time to try and draw conclusions. I caution people to not put too much stock in what's transpired in the preseason."
-- Del Rio, a few days prior to cutting Leftwich
"Everything's going to be OK. It doesn't matter if we win and play great in all four of these preseason games."
-- Byron Leftwich, also a few days prior to being cut (News4Jax)
"I'm so excited about this season. This is the year I get over the hump. When people talk about me, I want them to talk about me like I'm one of the best quarterbacks in the game.''
-- Leftwich in mid-August (Sports Illustrated)
"I learned in my first four years as a head coach just how much scrutiny is placed on the quarterback position, certainly not that way on the defensive side of the ball, and clearly I have learned over the last four years to handle that position a little differently."
-- Del Rio on Feb. 26, announcing that he was "committing" to Leftwich as the Jaguars starting quarterback this year (Pro Football Weekly)
"It's a dog-eat-dog business. We're living in the belly of the beast, and sometimes that beast has to regurgitate itself."
-- Jaguars running back Fred Taylor, reacting to Leftwich being cut (Florida Sun Times)
"I'll emphasize again today, there is no Romeo Crennel watch in this building."
-- Browns general manager Phil Savage, denying that Browns head coach Romeo Crennel is on the hot seat this year
"I've said it 10 times, he's the right man for the job. There's nobody else out there that could've won more than eight to 12 games over the last two years with the roster we had and circumstances and situations that we've been through. Motorcycle accidents, injuries, all sorts of things."
"I felt we overachieved in '05 and underachieved to a degree in '06. Six [wins] and four is 10. Five wins a year is about where we were from a talent standpoint."
"To go from where we were in '04 to where we are now, you're going to go through the briar patch to get out of that mess. It was a mess."
"At the end of today, by 4 p.m., Tim Couch, Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren and William Green could conceivably all be out of the NFL. You talk about setting an organization back on its ear. I'm talking out of the league. That speaks volumes of where we were starting from. You couldn't take another team out there, knock off four No. 1 picks that you got nothing out of, and say they're going to go to the playoffs."
-- Savage. By the end of the day, only Warren was still under contract in the NFL (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
"You can go down the list and there are some comparisons on both sides of the coin. They were a Super Bowl team and we're perceived to be at the bottom of the barrel in the NFL, but I'm not sure there's that much difference."
-- Savage, comparing the current Browns roster to the current Chicago Bears
"When we played Denver, in my mind, the only difference was that they've had a winning tradition for a long time. They know they're going to win."
-- Savage, comparing the Browns to the Denver Broncos
"The Browns are coming at it from a different perspective. We're coming from inside of a hole and we're trying to get out."
"I believe we'll take a step forward this year. I really do. I just truly believe that this team is going to win. There's no question in my mind of if we are going to win. It's when we are going to win."
-- Savage (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
FOUR GAMES IN OHIO
"I'm just a football player that plays for my team."
-- Buccaneers quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, reacting to suggestions in an ESPN.com report that he may have shaved points during four games he played at University of Toledo (ESPN.com)
"The question is finished."
-- Unnamed Buccaneers public relations representative, after ESPN.com questioned Gradowski about the allegations (read ESPN.com's comprehensive investigative report here)
"I don't watch ESPN. I don't believe half the [expletive] people on the channel, personally -- no disrespect. But if Bruce Gradkowski is throwing games in Toledo, how in the hell does he lead the NCAA in passing percentages? That is a crock."
-- Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden, apparently uninterested in the statistical concepts of "causation" or even "correlation"
"You know, these reports make me sick -- really. I don't believe [there is] any truth to it, and I'll go to my grave believing that. I hope ESPN 3 or 4 has real sources behind this story, because it has nothing to do with the kid. He's a great kid. He wants to be great. This is very uncharacteristic, in my opinion, of 'professional' journalism."
-- Gruden (Pewter Report)
COMMITMENT TO CUTTING EXCELLENCE
-- Word used by Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin during training camp to describe defensive end Quentin Moses, the Raiders' 2007 third-round draft pick
"Quentin Moses is a superstar and we stole him in the third round."
-- Raiders defensive coordinatorRob Ryan, also during training camp
"There were some hard ones and it wasn't that a guy wasn't doing everything we asked. We wish great luck to Quentin and we think he'll be a good player in this league. But at the end of looking at it all of it we had other people that could help us more. I think it shows everything that we're about here, and how competitive the field is, that a player as good as Quentin couldn't make the roster."
-- Kiffin, trying to explain why the Raiders' front office cut Moses during the trim down to the 53-man roster. Moses was immediately signed by the Arizona Cardinals.
"Also it shows that we're not worried about where a guy was drafted or how much a guy was paid in free agency. We took the best 53 players for us."
-- Kiffin, offering an alternative justification for cutting Moses
"It surprised me, to be honest with you. But that's what we felt was best for us, I suppose."
-- Raiders defensive end Jay Richardson, Oakland's fifth-round pick who will be playing in lieu of Moses (Insider Bay Area)
"What a dumb cut that was."
-- Sports Illustrated's Peter King (in this week's MMQB column)
LIKE A VIRGO, PLAYING FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME
"I have been ready for a few weeks now ... I've been ready to play for two weeks but haven't got a lot of snaps in practice."
-- Bengals offensive tackle Levi Jones, expressing his frustration over his perceived lack of opportunity during the preseason
"I get minimal snaps in practice. I've been thrown into games without much preparation. I'm spelling people."
"I'm a Virgo. I like to be prepared for all situations."
-- Jones (Cincinnati Enquirer)
"Levi understated how much he practiced. Maybe by one-third, so we'll move forward."
-- Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, responding to Jones' comments
"It concerns me because it's not about Levi, it's about the team, and he realizes that. I don't want the guys to vent their frustrations to [the media] and I'm not going to change, I'm not going to vent mine to [the media] either."
-- Lewis, venting his frustrations to the media (Cincinnati Post)
EDUCATION OF THE VIKINGS HEAD COACH
"I said, 'Well, I'm really interested in your guy, so we'll have to let our guy slide.'" He [Patriots head coach Bill Belichick] didn't really care for that. He was trying to leverage. You always find out who is honest and straightforward."
-- Vikings head coach Brad Childress, describing how Bill Belichick first implored Childress not to claim tight end Garrett Mills from the Patriots over the waiver wire, and then threatened to sign a Vikings practice-squad candidate if the Vikings signed Mills. The Vikings ignored the alleged threat and signed Mills anyway; the Patriots then signed linebacker David Herron. (Minneapolis - St. Paul Star Tribune)
"I talked to a lot of people in the league over the course of the last few days. That's part of the whole process of player transactions and so forth. I'm sure that all of the coaches in the league are trying to get their team ready for opening day and the regular season, and I'm trying to do the same thing. That's what I do, and that's what all of the other coaches do, too."
-- Bill Belichick, responding to Childress's comments ( Minneapolis - St. Paul Star Tribune)
JUST HAND ME THE BALL AND DON'T TRY TO THROW IT, OK?
"Guys have been behind Joey [Harrington]. I know people question his leadership or his ability to get the job done. He doesn't have to go out and win games. He has enough playmakers to go out there and do that. Don't lose games, play within yourself and let other guys win games."
-- Falcons running back Warrick Dunn, describing his team's
tepid strong support for Joey Harrington
"As a quarterback, yeah, I do because it's my job to get in the huddle and tell 10 other people what to do on that field. When they have a question they come to me, and I need to be ready to give them the answer. I feel very confident with that, but I'm stepping into a new team, and the reality is that I'm going to need to work my way into it."
-- Joey Harrington, when asked if he felt he had taken ownership of the Falcons (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
"God told me this year that the prayers are going to work."
-- Sister Martha Carpenter of St. Peter Indian Mission School in Bapschule, Arizona, describing God's apparent support for the Arizona Cardinals this year (Arizona Republic)
"And now, the time has come for you to pay -- to pay for the many injuries you caused me."
-- Demand of 82-year-old Ruby Y. Young in her October 2006 letter to Bart Starr, seeking $2 million to prevent her from revealing details of an alleged affair she had with Starr in 1960. Young was sentenced last week to one year's probation. (ESPN.com)
"I don't have a Facebook. I've seen it. It's kind of funny. I laughed. I don't know who did it or why. They did do it."
-- Patriots running back Laurence Maroney, denying any connection to the Laurence "Kool-Aid" Maroney Facebook page that featured, among other things, Maroney kissing another man on the cheek. (SouthCoastToday.com)
"It would have been foolish to throw away the shield. It may sound hokey, but we treasure it and look to protect it, and so we decided to stay with it."
-- NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, describing the "evolutionary" redesign of the NFL shield logo (McCarthy quote courtesy of interview with Football Outsiders; graphic of new NFL logo available here via USA Today)
"I'm just really worried about fitting in and making sure I don't let this team slow down because of me."
-- Randy Moss (Boston Globe)
"Somehow I always seem to be the story. During the year, I'm the story. When the season's over, I'm the story. When nothing is going on, I'm the story. I don't know why ... I never know. And you'll never have the answer."
-- Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb (Yahoo! Sports)
"A lot of things went wrong for me collectively and as a team."
-- Giants quarterback Jared Lorenzen, explaining his poor performance during Big Blue's final preseason game (New York Post)
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