Column as I see ’em …
The NFL’s 2012 draft class, which produced five starting quarterbacks and a surprisingly effective crop of running backs, could be remembered as among the best in league history.
Through Week 9, rookie quarterbacks combined to throw for 10,089 yards – most since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger – and rookie running backs combined for 5,716 yards, more than any post-merger year except the strike-season of 1987, when offensive numbers in the first half were artificially enhanced by replacement players.
The Seattle Seahawks took more than a little guff for the unconventional draft choices they made last spring, but it looks like general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll were well ahead of the curve. Of the top 20 rookies Gil Brandt ranked the other day for NFL.com, the Hawks landed at No. 9 (linebacker Bobby Wagner, who rated 63rd on Brandt’s pre-draft “hot list”), No. 12 (defensive end Bruce Irvin, rated 58th on the hot list) and No. 19 (quarterback Russell Wilson, 112th on the hot list.)
It should be noted, by the way, that there are a gazillion draft pundits, but only one Gil Brandt, the former Dallas Cowboys GM who has been scouting college talent for more than a half-century. Brandt’s positive evaluation of the Seahawks’ draft is the equivalent of a fist bump toward a scouting department that apparently knew more about this stuff than their peers did.
• Anybody familiar with the whereabouts of ex-Florida quarterback Tim Tebow? The Denver Broncos took the former Heisman Trophy winner as the 25th selection of the 2010 draft, and then – poof! – he got lost. I realize there were some doubts about his ability as a passer operating out of a pro-style set, but I never thought he’d vanish.
Somebody should track down the guy. That’s a human-interest story I’d give anything to read.
• Tony Gonzalez, the great tight end winding down his Hall of Fame career in Atlanta, has a gripe: He believes the Falcons, who are 8-0 and heading into New Orleans on Sunday as 21/2-point favorites to beat the Saints, have been deprived those rave reviews customarily extended to juggernauts unbeaten halfway through the season.
“Is the national media making a big deal about us like they would if it was Philly, Green Bay or New England? No, they’re not,” Gonzalez recently told USA Today. “We played Philly and we beat them. And Philly was on TV all week.”
Gonzalez has a point. The absence of buzz surrounding Atlanta’s NFL franchise is mystifying. I can’t remember the last time I walked up to a water cooler and heard: “How ’bout those Falcons?” Then again, I can’t remember the last time I walked up to a water cooler and heard: “How ’bout those Eagles?”
At least Gonzalez has his priorities in order.
“We don’t care,” he said.
If he and his teammates don’t care, then why bring it up?
• When the Falcons finally lose – and trust me, they’ll lose – the blemish on their record stands to revive the legacy of the Miami Dolphins’ perfect season of 1972. As with the uncertain whereabouts of Tebow, I am curious about the ’72 Dolphins. Whatever happened to them? Do they ever get together and revel about their achievement? That’s another human-interest story I’d give anything to read.
• While I am not as down on politics, or politicians, as most Americans are, I’m glad the election season is over for one reason: We sports fans get our sports terms back.
During the conventions, high-profile speeches are graded as either a “home run” or “not a home run.” Hello? Isn’t there something in between – “a double hit into the gap,” perhaps, or a “seeing-eye single”? For that matter, can’t a magnificent speech be upgraded from “home run” to, say, “grand slam”?
Then there are the debates, when the gloves come off. Actually, the gloves don’t come off; they’re just replaced, from baseball gloves to boxing gloves. Debate performances are graded as either a “knockout” or “not a knockout.”
I want to hear a convention speech someday described as a “shorthanded goal,” or an “offense content to run out the clock.” And I want to hear a debate analyzed by “the extra point that missed.”
• Walt Weiss, who played with the Tacoma Tigers before following fellow Tacoma alums Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire as a recipient of the AL Rookie of the Year award, has a new gig: manager of the Colorado Rockies.
Weiss’ appointment is something of a surprise – he’s never managed a baseball team, at any pro level – but it’s consistent with an intriguing pattern: Robin Ventura (Chicago White Sox) and Mike Matheny (St. Louis Cardinals) were hired a year ago with similarly unproven managing credentials. Yet Ventura had the White Sox, who began 2012 with no expectations, in contention all season, and Matheny guided the Cardinals to within one victory of a World Series berth.
In any case, Walt Weiss and I will begin spring training with identical pro managerial records: We’re both 0-0.
• Tim Tebow, I have since learned, is alive and well. Very well. (If nothing else, he’s eating well, and transferring the protein into muscle mass. The guy appears capable of pushing a loaded ore jenny to the top of Pikes Peak.) As a “threat” on those occasions the New York Jets use him in a wildcat formation, Tebow has rushed for 78 yards – one yard fewer than Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson picked up against the Seahawks on Sunday after two carries.
Tebow and the Jets, it turns out, are scheduled to appear Sunday at CenturyLink Field. Crazy, huh? I suspected he had drifted into the abyss, forgotten and neglected, along with the 1972 Miami Dolphins and the last man standing after gloves-off punches were exchanged during the presidential firstname.lastname@example.org