3/27/07 – Monday Night Football Just Got Better

I have to believe that Monday Night Football just got lots better. ESPN announced yesterday that Ron Jaworski will replace Joe Theismann in the announcing booth next year. It’s no secret that I do not like the way Theismann intrudes on the game as a color analyst and it was painfully obvious that he and Tony Kornheiser and Mike Tirico never developed “chemistry” or “connection” or “camaraderie” or plain old-fashioned “chumminess”. The tension in that booth would not have been heightened significantly had they invited Rosie and The Donald to join them as guests during one of the invasions of irrelevant B-List celebrities that ESPN foisted on us all season long. I do not wish any evil to befall Joe Theismann but I will not miss him for even one minute next year.

Now, can someone at ESPN do something creative and come up with an idea to “go retro” in next years telecasts and get rid of the sideline reporters?

Since I’m talking about stuff related to the NFL, let me say that the mini-controversy that began over Tony Dungy’s remarks to the Indiana Family Institute about gay marriage is way overblown. Tony Dungy coaches football; he is not a legislator, a judge, or a law enforcement officer. His expression of his opinions on gay marriage does not change the status quo. His right to voice his views is one of our inalienable rights; he did not forfeit those rights because he chose to coach an NFL team or win the Super Bowl. The fact that Tony Dungy’s faith would put him in the company of others who oppose gay marriage cannot possibly be newsworthy.

For anyone to criticize Dungy for his remarks at that particular banquet/social function, those critics would also need to criticize anyone who speaks out in favor or gay marriage. After all, those proponents are expressing their strongly held beliefs too. If Tony Dungy draws even a scintilla of criticism, then each and every person speaking favorably about gay marriage deserves an equal measure.

The NFL is poised to develop a new “Code of Conduct” for its players to adhere to in their “off-the-field lives”. Basically, the league is going to come down hard on the knuckleheads. I promise you that there will be people shouting about how this is intrusive on the lives of the players and how this would never happen if the NFLPA were a strong and effective union. Even without knowing neither the details of the new “Code of Conduct” nor how it will be implemented, I want to offer huge congratulations to the NFLPA and to the players who led the union leaders to the cooperative position they took on this matter. My interpretation of the union position is this:

    The knuckleheads have every right to be knuckleheads but in expressing their “knuckleheadedness”, they do not have an inalienable right to make every other NLFPA member look like [rhymes with “glass bowls”].

    And to that I say, “Amen! And Amen!!”

Soon after the NFL teams played musical chairs with running backs in the free-agency lottery season, the teams seem poised to do the same with fringe quarterbacks. Marques Tuiasosopu went from Oakland – where he could not get on the field because that potent tandem of Andrew Walter and Aaron Brooks was ahead of him – to the Jets. Why?

The Raiders signed Josh Booty – the older brother of USC’s John David Booty – to replace Tuiasosopu. Josh Booty hasn’t been in the league since 2003 and if I’ve read his stats correctly, he has never thrown a pass in an NFL regular season game. Oh, and Booty is 31 years old. How did this bubble up in the Raiders’ front office and become a good idea?

The Texans released David Carr outright. A year ago, the Texans reworked his deal and gave him $8M to show that he was their QB of the future. That meant they could easily pass on Vince Young and/or Matt Leinart in the draft; they did just that. Now Carr is looking for work and those other QBs are on other teams. [Aside: The Texans also said that Domanick Davis, now Domanick Williams, was their featured RB and so they didn’t need to draft Reggie Bush. They cut Domanick Williams this week too.]

The Dolphins were rumored to be on the verge of trading draft picks to KC to acquire Trent Green to play QB in Miami. Now that Carr is on the market and is “free”, that may change plans there. But if the Dolphins sign either one, that could make Duante Culpepper expendable and the rumor is that Oakland might want him.

If Oakland isn’t hot after Culpepper, then other rumors have them courting Jake Plummer out of retirement or maybe taking David Carr if he doesn’t go to Miami. Let me say this about Culpepper and Carr in Oakland:

Unless the Raiders OL gets two hundred percent better, either guy will be a piñata back there. Carr has been sacked almost 50 times a year for his career so he isn’t high on “escapability”; Culpepper used to be able to move and shed tacklers but after his injury he showed the mobility of a fire hydrant.

Maybe I missed a season of NFL football where Visanthe Shiancoe lit it up for the NY Giants and led them to … No, I guess I didn’t miss that season. This guy was a backup tight end in NY; and when he did play, the thing I recall most about him is that he dropped passes thrown his way. Last year he started 4 games and played in all 16 games; he caught a total of 12 passes for 81 yards. So, why did the Vikings pay him $8M?

When Leonard Davis came out of Texas, he was a “can’t miss” offensive left tackle who would dominate for years at the NFL level. After a mediocre time in Arizona, he hit the jackpot in this year’s free-agency madness; the Cowboys signed him for a total of $50M with about $20M of that guaranteed. The Cowboys’ plan is to move him inside to play offensive guard; that may or may not work. In Arizona, Davis developed the reputation for being lackadaisical and not highly motivated. Can someone explain to me how handing $50M (or even only $20M) to a guy who is not highly motivated is going to light a fire under his ample butt?

Now we’ve heard from Michael Vick that his infamous water bottle with the “secret compartment” was supposed to be his way of carrying his jewelry in a safe way. Amazingly, that “logical explanation” didn’t come out when this was a big time story; this information was so sensitive that it took about a month to find the right time to let it out on the sporting public. Color me skeptical. Oh, and just in case the bottle was indeed intended to conceal Vick’s “hash stash”, let me suggest to him that airport agents are on the lookout for fake bottles now. Maybe next time he can jam the weed into the barrel of a gun and try to get it on-board that way. That oughta work…

Finally, Scott Ostler had this observation in the San Francisco Chronicle regarding the Raiders’ hiring of Lane Kiffen and the Chargers’ hiring of Norv Turner as head coaches:

“If hiring Lane Kiffen as your head coach is thinking outside the box, isn’t hiring Norv Turner thinking so far inside the box that you might as well have hired Señor Wences?”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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