Friday, June 30, 2006

Northwestern Football Coach Walker Dead at 52

Tragedy struck the sports world and college football last night when Northwestern head coach Randy Walker died of a heart attack at the age of 52.

Walker complained of chest pains at his home around 10 p.m and died shortly thereafter, leaving the school in a state of shock.

"I'll never forget coach Walker," kicker Joel Howells said at the news conference held on campus. "He's had a huge impact on my life the last four or five years. If you really knew him, I don't know how you wouldn't remember him. A lot of guys are still kind of in shock."

Walker was an assistant coach at North Carolina from 1978-87 and then coached running backs at Northwestern for two years before becoming head coach at Miami of Ohio, his alma mater. In nine seasons he compiled a 59-35-5 record, his .621 winning percentage the best in school history when he left.

He became the head coach at Northwestern and kept up his winning ways. He won 37 games with the Wildcats, leading them to three bowl appearances. In 2000, Northwestern shared the Big Ten Conference crown and went to the Alamo Bowl. The Wildcats also played in the 2003 Motor City Bowl and the Sun Bowl last season.

Walker was the first Northwestern coach to lead the team to six wins or more for four consecutive seasons since C.M. Hollister did it from 1899-1902.

In October of 2004, Walker checked himself into a hospital after experiencing chest pains. He was diagnosed with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle; the condition is not a common ailment, and is usually caused by a virus.

Walker was out of the hospital in two days, and said he was taking a new approach to his diet and work schedule.

"I've really taken my doctor's orders to heart, because frankly, I want to see my grandkids someday," he said back in 2004.

Walker was an inspirational coach who could get more out of less than probably any coach in Division I-A. Northwestern isn't exactly a recruiting hotbed for football, but Walker would take guys and make them NFL-caliber players. He could be demanding, but his players worked hard and respected him. And that's about all a coach could ask for from his charges.

Walker is survived by his wife, Tamara, and two children, Abbey, 28, and Jamie, 25, who is the school's football recruiting assistant. Our heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to the Walker family.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

NCAA Approves Fifth New Bowl Game

Say it isn't so? Not another bowl game!

The NCAA on Wednesday approved a new postseason football bowl game in Houston starting next season.

It will replace the former Houston Bowl and is the fifth new game approved by the NCAA Postseason Football Licensing Subcommittee since the end of last season.

The bowl, which has not yet been named, will be managed by Lone Star Sports and Entertainment, which is affiliated with the Houston Texans of the NFL.

The name of the new bowl and other details will be announced later. In April, the NCAA approved a fifth Bowl Championship Series game, which will be played in Glendale, Arizona, along with the International Bowl in Toronto, the Birmingham Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl.

Bowls that were renewed for next season are: the AutoZone Liberty, Capital One, Champs Sports, Chick-Fil-A, Emerald, FedEx Orange, Gaylord Hotels Music City, GMAC, Independence, Insight, Pioneer Pure Vision Las Vegas, MasterCard Alamo, Meineke Car Care, MPC Computers, Motor City, All-state Sugar, Outback, Pacific Life Holiday, San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia, Fort Worth, Rose, AT&T Cotton, Hawaii, Tostitos Fiesta, Toyota Gator, Vitalis Sun and New Orleans.

Don't get me wrong, I love college football. I love the atmosphere, the crowds and the future NFL stars that dazzle us every Saturday. But do we really need more bowl games. There's already too many teams who don't deserve to be in one and now the NCAA has approved five new games since the end of last season.

Some will argue that it makes the game better, it's better for the fans and the schools gain money which helps in recruiting and other improvements, it helps create excitement...blah, blah, blah.

Any team that is 6-5 doesn't belong in a bowl game. Period, end of story. I don't care if they were 0-11 the previous season and the feel good story of the year, 6-5 or God help us 6-6, just doesn't cut it. Why reward mediocrity? If I was a coach and my team went 6-5, I'd be pissed!

The bowl system has been in place for a long, long time and most of the good ole' boys in the NCAA don't want to see that changed. The NCAA, along with the universities, love to count all the money that rolls in from corporate sponsors during bowl season.

The problem is that all these games are watering down college football and taking away what makes it special. To tell the truth, nobody, even the most diehard college football fan, cares about two 6-5 teams playing in a bowl game. Unless you are/were an alumnus or it's your favorite team.

Nevertheless, the NCAA will keep creating more bowl games and continue to reward mediocrity. Remember, North Texas State made it to a bowl game a few years back with a 5-6 record! Excellent.

College football is a great institution, but like all institutions it desperately needs some overhauling. Too bad it's not going to happen for a long, long time. Not while the dollars are flowing and the status quo is secure.

All I know is when the first International Bowl kicks off in Toronto and the NCAA smiles as it tries to win the hearts of Canadian fans, I'll be at home, the TV turned off, with visions of a true playoff system dancing in my head.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

NFL Toughens Steroid Policy

The NFL went a step further in toughening up its steroid policy by adding amphetamines to the band substance list starting in 2007.

Amphetamines were considered a substance abuse drug, but now are grouped in with steroids and will carry harsher penalties if violated. This season is a test year and if an athlete fails an amphetamine test - he'll be issued a warning and placed in a drug treatment program.

In 2007, the drug will be tested regularly and stiffer penalties for violators will be enforced. A first positive test will result in a four-game suspension, the same penalty now given for positive steroids tests. Major League Baseball also started testing for amphetamines this season as part of its steroids policy.

In addition to the amphetamines change, the penalty for a second positive test for performance-enhancing drugs was increased from six to eight games. A third positive test still carries a one-year suspension.

All of this comes on the heels of last years congressional hearings about drugs in sports. This is good for the NFL and for baseball as well. The sticking point comes in trying to keep up with HGH - Human Growth Hormone, and all the new steroids that come down the pike.

There isn't an effective test for HGH right now and new steroids are created almost daily. Some players will always look for shortcuts to gain a competitive advantage and since they do, drugs will be furnished to help them attain their goals.

The NFL and other sports are doing a decent job with their drug policies, but they must join together with congress and law enforcement to crack down on the vultures supplying the substances in the first place. Only then can the drug problem in sports be fought on a level playing field.

It's still an uphill battle because as long as there's a demand, there's a supply. And we have a giant demand in this culture - not just in athletics but people from all walks of life are involved. Drugs are a serious threat to millions of lives and will only be defeated by collective cooperation.

The drug issue is a national issue. Sports is just a reflection of the culture it flourishes in. Only by working together can the problem ever hope to be solved.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Marinelli Expects Lions to Be Miserable

When GM Matt Millen hired Rod Marinelli as head coach of the Detroit Lions and Marinelli proceeded to grab Mike Martz as his offensive coordinator, you just knew a more hard-working, nose-to-the-grindstone attitude would be prevalent in the 2006 squad.

Marinelli was a tough minded defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Martz orchestrated an offense dubbed 'The Greatest Show on Turf' in St. Louis. Even though it was a finesse offense, Martz was an exacting coach who demanded the best from his players.

Millen, while failing thus far in the front office, was harder than nails on the football field. Number 55 would run around with reckless abandon acting like every play was his last. It's this triumvirate that will try and rebuild a hapless Lions squad that hasn't made the playoffs since 1999 or won a championship since 1957.

Now that the formalities of mini-camp are out of the way and the real honest to goodness training camp is just a month a way, Marinelli and Millen are letting every player know that they can expect to be miserable.

"I learned this a long time ago: you've got to learn to be comfortable with being miserable to play this game," said Millen on the Detroit Lions website. "If the coaches are not pushing you and they're not making you be uncomfortable, you're not going to get any better. So, you've got to get comfortable with being a little miserable."

Marinelli came into this head coaching position looking to make some men miserable. He expressed from the time he arrived in Detroit that he would work the Lions players hard, and he has said recently that he is planning on starting each and every training camp practice in pads.

"It's going to be a very rigorous and challenging camp," said Marinelli. "They've got to be prepared for that, and that's set for them and then the next phase is going through camp. Hopefully our conditioning keeps reprising as we're going. And the biggest part: if they come in here in-shape, they can play faster.

"When you get in condition, people think, 'oh you don't get tired.' No. All it does is allow you to play faster, longer. You still feel miserable, which is fine. But it's playing more snaps at a higher level. That's our goal. More snaps at a higher level."

If anyone can get it done in the Motor City, it's the Marinelli-Martz combo. With Mad Mike handling the offense and Marinelli the defense, the Lions will be a well conditioned, hard-working, tough group.

It's that conditioning and mental toughness that will be the makeup of the new-look Detroit Lions. They will be a tougher opponent in 2006. Whether that translates into more victories remains to be seen.

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Faulk May Set Out Year, Work on TV

In an attempt to rest his aching knees, St. Louis Rams running back Marshall Faulk may decide to set out the year and work on TV.

Faulk's agent Rocky Arceneaux, told the St. Louis Post Dispatch that he has lined up a job for Faulk as an analyst on the NFL Network. After taking a year off to let his knees rest and heal, perhaps Faulk will feel like giving football another try. So his agent says.

Faulk continues to send mixed signals about his future. The veteran running back was quoted as saying "I'm playing" by longtime confidant Mike Silver, the Sports Illustrated football writer.

But according to the Dispatch, Faulk may need another round of knee surgery in the near future, and if Faulk has the surgery, the Rams would most likely place him on injured reserve for the 2006 season -- meaning he'd sit out the year, with full pay.

This is a case of the mind being willing but the body saying no way. Yes a year off will give Faulk a chance to heal, rest his knees and get 100 percent, but at his age and with the wear and tear of 12 NFL seasons behind him, how productive can he be when and if he does come back?

Marshall is the best all-purpose back in NFL history. The guy has rushed for 12,279 yards, scored 136 touchdowns and caught 797 passes. His resume is sparkling. Couple that awesome talent with his love for the game and of course it would be hard to call it quits. Jerry Rice suffered the same problem and he played about three years too long.

I for one hope he does come back. I still think Faulk can contribute with his pass catching ability, leadership and his understanding of the game. The question is - can he get healthy enough and does he still mentally want to play?

These are the questions Faulk must answer and right now - Marshall really isn't sure, but he just can't bring himself to retire. The finality of it all is too much to make that decision at this moment in time.

Faulk, who has missed all of the Rams' off season activities, rushed for only 292 yards on 65 carries last season, playing behind Steven Jackson. If Faulk does retire, the Rams would save $2 million on the salary cap this season, but they'd take about a $4 million hit on the cap next season in the form of his prorated bonus money.

If Faulk sets out, the Rams need to find a backup for Jackson. St. Louis signed Tony Fisher in the off season, but he's going to be the third-down back. The Rams will search the waiver wire or try to swing a deal. Rumor has it that New Orleans Saints running back Michael Bennett may be heading to Rams Park.

No matter what he decides to do, Faulk has earned the right for the Rams to wait on him. He's the face of the franchise who brought St. Louis it's first Super Bowl title(1999). Faulk is an all-time great and no matter what he decides to do, the NFL and the game of football rarely is blessed with a talent such as his.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Big Ten Creates New Channel, More to Follow?

The Big Ten Conference announced recently that it will create its own cable tv channel to broadcast even more games and sports nationally.

The conference just signed a new 10-year TV deal with ESPN and ABC that will carry Big Ten football, men's and women's basketball and volleyball games starting in 2007.

The Big Ten Channel will be available to satellite and cable distributors nationwide and also will be available through the Internet, I-Pods, cell phones and other technologies, the league said.

DirecTV will offer the channel on its Total Choice package, which currently reaches about 15.4 million households, according to the news release.

"The Big Ten Channel will provide our conference the ability to strengthen both its brand and its long-term destiny as one of the leading academic and athletic conferences in the nation," said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany.

The new cable channel will carry not only football and basketball, but also such sports as soccer, tennis, swimming and diving and wrestling -- the so-called Olympic sports, the conference said.

This could lead to others conferences - most notably the Pac-10, Big 12, ACC and SEC following suit and offering up their own channels. It makes perfect sense. We have a insatiable hunger for sports in this country and with some of those on the fringe, like wrestling and volleyball, that have diehard fans it's only natural that these channels pop up.

The Big Ten Channel and the others who follow suit will be a win-win for the fans as well as the conferences and schools. It will bring huge amounts of money to the schools and allow the viewers to watch events they might miss otherwise.

For the football fan, the amount of games that may be available to watch is like manna from heaven, especially when the other conferences get on board and copy the Big Ten. It has already multiplied with the emergence of satellite and will grow even more with these individual outlets.

Rest assured the Big Ten is the first to jump on the cable TV bandwagon, but they definitely won't be the last.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Carson's Corner Podcast 8 - NFL News

We here at the Corner like to remain flexible when it comes to podcasts. Basically what that means is we do them when we feel like it. There isn't a set timetable or anything like that.

As you may have noticed, we blog here on a consistent basis but once in a blue moon, we like to throw a podcast in the mix and that's what where doing here.

This Carson's Corner podcast is a mixture of NFL news we're going to be talking about. The first topic will be on the new NFL flexible scheduling that will take place in weeks 10-15 and week 17. What took them so long to come around?

Finally, will talk about more off season problems for the Cincinnati Bengals after rookie Frostee Rucker's arrest for domestic battery and vandalism yesterday.

You can download the podcast right here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Hiring Softli Great Move for Rams

Since the 2001 season, the St. Louis Rams were the only franchise that didn't have a pro personnel director in the front office. The results have been obvious.

The Rams, once billed as the 'Greatest Show on Turf' have been a shadow of their former selves. Bad drafts, lousy free agent pickups and a tumultuous relationship between Mike Martz and the front office saw the inevitable dismissal of Mad Mike as head coach after the 2005 season.

Enter new head coach Scott Linehan and with his arrival, it appears that the front office and the head coach are on the same page. Linehan, along with Jay Zygmunt, head of football operations, agreed that a pro personnel director was needed and on Tuesday that position was filled by Tony Softli.

Softli is the perfect choice for the Rams and one that may bring them back into playoff contention very soon. Softli was director of college scouting for the Carolina Panthers since the 2000 season and is known around the NFL as being a solid talent evaluator.

He is credited for drafting Julius Peppers, Steve Smith and Kris Jenkins. Softli even developed his own player evaluation software that he used in Carolina. He will create his own in St. Louis. The Rams were starving for a pro personnel head and now maybe stability will be the buzzword in the St.Louis front office.

Charlie Armey loses his GM title, there will be no general manager position anymore, but he decided to stay on as vice president of pro personnel. Armey, 67, has one year left on his contract and may retire after the season. Former Ram great Lawrence McCutcheon will continue as director of college scouting.

That's a pretty good lineup of talent scouts the Rams have. Armey is an experienced veteran who helped bring a championship to St. Louis in 1999. Since McCutcheon took over as college scouting director, the Rams have done a better job in the draft. Throw Linehan into that mix and that makes a potent lineup for Rams fans.

Softli of course is excited to get going and it appears he has a good relationship with Armey and that's a definite plus. In the Martz era, there was division throughout Rams Park with some taking sides with Martz, while others were with the Armey-Zygmunt faction.

"I'm ecstatic," Softli told the St. Louis Post Dispatch. "I'm leaving a great organization to come to another with a lot of history. This gives me a chance to run both the college and pro sides of a department. It gives me a chance to work with Jay. With his knowledge of the salary cap, he has a lot to teach me."

Softli has worked for the Panthers since 1995, first as a scout in the Southwest, where he met Armey.

"He helped me out a lot as a young scout," Softli said. "He took me under his wing, and I've admired him from afar."

Softli, 46, has ties to Linehan through the University of Washington, where the two worked together in 1994. Linehan was receivers coach, Softli a graduate assistant.

"We got along well then, and I think we laid the groundwork for a good working relationship," Softli said.

Carolina has become a major power in the NFL in this decade, going to the Super Bowl in 2003 and reaching the NFL Championship game last season. Softli has been a major part of the Panthers success and now the Rams faithful hope he can work that same magic in St. Louis.

Only time will tell, but if past success is any indication, Tony Softli and the St. Louis Rams have a future so bright, they've got to wear shades.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Early Look at 2007 NFL Draft

To say that Gil Brandt knows football is an understatement. Brandt, the Senior Analyst at was vice president of pro player development for the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 to 1989.

He was guiding the personnel department during the heyday of coach Tom Landry when the Cowboys became known as 'America's Team.'

During Brandt's tenure, Dallas won 13 division titles, appeared in five Super Bowls and captured two victories in Super Bowls VI and XII. In 1966, the Cowboys began an NFL-record streak of 20 consecutive winning seasons. That streak included 18 years in the playoffs. Not bad at all.

Brandt is still scouting players for and he recently wrote a terrific article that looks ahead to the 2007 NFL Draft and the top four-year players available. Talent evaluation is in his blood and he provides a pretty thorough list of names to look for next year.

If you haven't looked at it yet, I urge you to read it for yourself right here.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

The Wild and Crazy AFC North

Oh those nutty teams in the AFC North. When will this crazy whirlwind of problems come to an end during a hectic 2006 offseason?

First the Bengals had to deal with Carson Palmer's injury and then the arrest of A.J. Nicholson and Chris Henry, who decided once wasn't enough so he got busted four times!

Not to be out done is the Pittsburgh Steelers, the defending world champions. Word out of Pittsburgh is that number one draft pick Santonio Holmes, the wideout from Ohio State, has been arrested for the second time in three weeks.

Holmes was charged early Monday with assaulting a woman in Columbus, Ohio. He was arrested at an apartment just after midnight and taken to the Franklin County jail, Sgt. Loucious Hollis said. The 22-year-old player is to remain in jail until his arraignment Tuesday on charges of domestic violence and simple assault, both misdemeanors.

Police received a call from a female who said the father of her child had assaulted her, police spokesman Sgt. Michael Woods said. While the officers were making their report at the apartment, Holmes returned and was arrested. Police would not release the woman's name or details about what Holmes was accused of doing.

Holmes was arrested on Memorial Day weekend in Miami Beach on a charge of disorderly conduct. Steelers coach Bill Cowher criticized Holmes after the incident, but said he wouldn't hold the matter against him.

How about now Bill? Will you hold it against him? Two arrests within three weeks is unbelievable. To top that off, Cowher had to deal with the Ben Roethlisberger incident last week. Distractions are what destroy Super Bowl champs trying to repeat and Pittsburgh has a handful of them.

The Cleveland Browns have problems on and off the field. Leading rusher Reuben Droughns was arrested for domestic battery, while head coach Romeo Crennel has put second-year signal caller Charlie Frye in charge of the offense. With Ken Dorsey as the backup, the Browns are actually trying to talk Vinny Testaverde out of retirement. Plus, 2005 top pick Braylon Edwards is recovering from a torn ACL. Can anyone say 5-11.

It seems the only team stable in the North is the Baltimore Ravens, a franchise very unstable last year after the Jamal Lewis incident and the slow development of Kyle Boller. With a solid defense, a power running game and now Steve McNair at the helm, the Ravens have set themselves up as legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

It's going to be a wild, wacky ride in the AFC North this season. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top when the smoke clears.

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Otto Just Doesn't Get It

Some of us, who remember old school football fondly, have a tendency to criticize the younger generation for their sometimes selfishness and lack of respect for the game. But every once in a while, it's the old-timers who just don't get it.

One recent case in point is former Hall of Fame center for the Oakland Raiders, Jim Otto. Good old double zero captained the Silver and Black offensive line for 15 years. Next to Mike Webster, he's the greatest center to ever play the game.

Unfortunately, Hall of Fame player doesn't necessarily translate into Hall of Fame personality.

LeCharles Bentley, one of the best young centers in the game today and a three-time Pro Bowl selection, petitioned the NFL to try and change his jersey number to double zero. He did this to pay tribute to Otto and the legacy he left behind.

Bentley has long been recognized by players and the media as one of the kindest, down to earth guys in the league. There was no intent of disrespect in his actions or thoughts. Bentley is one of a very few in the NFL today that even know about Otto and his accomplishments. He's a student of the game. A true fan as well as a damn good player.

Of course, the league turned him down, just like it did Reggie Bush last month. The NFL has a strict numbers policy and won't deviate from it. So how did Otto react to all of this? How did he respond knowing that one of the best centers currently in the league wanted to honor him by wearing his number?

What was Otto's comments to the media? In one word - ugly. Otto responded with vitriol, lashing out at Bentley and the NFL for even debating the matter.

"To let him wear my number, that I built into a legacy, all it takes is one ounce of coke up his nose and that legacy is gone," Otto told the Contra Costa Times. "I don't know who he is. I played 15 years with the Raiders. He's played, what, three or four years in New Orleans? What kind of legacy would he give double zero? I don't think he should wear it and I don't think anyone in the NFL should wear it."

C'mon Jim, the whole NFL? Otto is one of the all-time greats. There's no doubt about that. But to say the entire league shouldn't wear No.00 is nonsense. If that's the case, Jim Brown's No.32, Walter Payton's No.34 and Johnny Unitas's No.19 should all be retired league wide as well.

If we took all the numbers of all the greats who ever played and retired them throughout the league - Ben Roethlisberger, Shawn Alexander and everyone else would be wearing Roman Numerals on their jerseys.

Otto doesn't understand and that's too bad for him. A younger player wanted to pay homage to an old-timer, which happens about as frequently as Halley's Comet bopping by Earth. His terrible and yes, borderline racist comments have tarnished the legacy he's so obviously proud of.

Maybe Otto is bitter that he didn't get paid what the stars of today do. Maybe it's the toll playing football took on his body that caused this caustic response. No matter, Otto let the world know he's an angry, mean-spirited, old man.

One thing is certain, he owes the NFL and LeCharles Bentley an apology.

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Friday, June 16, 2006

Tagliabue, NFL Delegation Visits Los Angeles

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue headed an NFL delegation to Los Angeles to meet with the mayor and various business leaders in the city. The meeting is even more proof of the determination of the NFL to bring a team back to L.A.

"We're farther along than we have been at any time since professional football left Los Angeles," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told reporters with Tagliabue at his side before the parties had their dinner meeting and reception at Getty House, the mayor's formal residence.

The greater Los Angeles area has been without a NFL team since the Raiders left the Los Angeles Coliseum for Oakland and the Rams departed from what is now known as Angel Stadium in Anaheim for St. Louis before the 1995 season.

NFL owners decided last month at a meeting in Denver to give $5 million each to Los Angeles and Anaheim to explore the amount of support, especially financial, that each community can supply to help build a new stadium.

No decision has been made on when Los Angeles will get a team, if it will be an expansion club or an existing franchise, or if Los Angeles or Anaheim will be the place the team calls home.

Los Angeles officials hope to build an $800 million stadium inside the Coliseum, which would be leased to the league. Anaheim officials have proposed a new football stadium for the parking lot next to Angel Stadium.

There's still plenty of work that needs to be done for Tagliabue to realize his goal of having a team in the second largest media market by 2009. The cost of a stadium and how it will be financed are just some of the key issues.

The outgoing commissioner said there are several pieces that must be put in place for a team to return to Los Angeles, one being a satisfactory agreement with the University of Southern California, one of America's top college football teams which plays its home games at the Coliseum. A state-of-the-art Coliseum for a NFL team would probably seat less than 70,000, with USC wanting a home that would seat at least 80,000.

These problems will be worked out because the league is determined to have a franchise back in Los Angeles. And when the NFL makes up its collective mind to do something - it gets done.

Where the team will be located and stadium funding are the only real stumbling blocks. The NFL almost certainly will move an existing franchise to L.A. so ownership won't be a problem. An expansion team makes absolutely no sense. Having a 33-team unbalanced league would cause havoc with the schedule.

The San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings appear the likely candidates for the move. The Chargers make the most sense. They already play in state and the franchise began in Los Angeles back in 1960 before moving to San Diego the following season.

There's still some questions to be answered and details worked out, but one thing is certain - it won't be much longer before Los Angeles has an NFL franchise once again.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Bengals Having Major Troubles in Offseason

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis can't wait for the 2006 NFL season to start. That way he can put out of his mind a turbulent offseason for the Bengals franchise and its fans.

It all started back in that January playoff game when Kimo von Oelhoffen took out quarterback Carson Palmer in the first offensive series. From that point on, Lewis has been on a rollercoaster ride of sorts and just when he thought it couldn't get any worse - it did.

Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry was charged Wednesday with providing alcohol to three underage females, his fourth arrest in the last seven months.

Henry surrendered to authorities on three misdemeanor counts of unlawful transaction with a minor and posted $2,500 bond. He could get up to a year in jail and a $500 fine on each count if convicted. Henry will be arraigned Thursday, the prosecutor's office said.

Henry was charged June 4 with speeding and drunken driving. He also faces trial Aug. 21 in Orlando, Fla., on a concealed weapon charge involving allegations that he pulled a pistol on a group of people in January.

He was previously prosecuted for a December arrest on marijuana charges, pleading guilty in March and avoiding jail time after completing a drug rehabilitation program.

Last week, Bengals rookie linebacker, A.J. Nicholson, a fifth-round pick from Florida State, was arrested and charged with grand theft and burglary, both felonies, in a break-in at a former Florida State teammate's apartment in Tallahassee, Fla. Nicholson had a series of run-ins with the law playing with Seminoles.

"I told the people that yes, you embarrass us as an organization, myself, and the coaches when these things occur," Lewis said last week after the arrests "Right, wrong or indifferent, there are certain things that you're asked not to be a part of or around. That bothers me when someone doesn't quite understand social laws. That bothers me, no question."

To be honest, the brunt of the blame falls on Lewis himself. Henry and Nicholson were problems during college and had red flags all over them from other NFL personnel people. Henry was rated as a first round talent three years ago, but fell to the third round because of character issues. Nicholson dropped to round five after being evaluated as second round talent.

Character is important. Witness this years draft for proof. Many highly rated players fell into the later rounds because of personal baggage they carried with them. If teams draft guys with questionable character, there's a chance that team will have to suffer the consequences. The Bengals are doing that now. You reap what you sow.

On the field it won't be easy either, Cincinnati is in a division that boasts the defending Super Bowl champs in the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens bolstered their lineup with the addition of Steve McNair.

Regardless of who he has to face, Lewis would love to be in that situation right now. Instead, he has to deal with an off season that has been a gigantic distraction. A distraction that may cost the Bengals a chance to repeat as AFC North champions.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Big Ben Lucky to Still Be Ticking

Forget about football for a minute. Let's not talk about how long Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger may be out of action. That's completely unimportant at the moment.

Roethlisberger is lucky to be alive - plain and simple. The man slammed his head off a windshield people and if that wasn't enough, he smacked it off the pavement as well. Does Ben know how fortunate he is that the price he paid was only a smashed face?

How lucky is Big Ben? Roethlisberger's doctors stressed during a brief news conference Tuesday that his knees are not injured, positive news for an athlete who needed knee surgery only last season.

They also said his brain is functioning normally despite the concussion and the trauma of a crash that caused Roethlisberger to fly off his motorcycle and smack a car windshield with such force, his head left a glass-cracking dent in the shape of his skull.

"He is awake, alert, oriented and is resting with his family by his side," said Dr. Larry Jones, the chief of Mercy Hospital's trauma unit.

Young people and young athletes especially, feel they're indestructible and nothing can hurt them. All of us were like that when the stupidity of youth was upon us. So, despite repeated warnings by head coach Bill Cowher and the Steelers front office, Roethlisberger continued to ride without a helmet.

He's not the first and sadly, won't be the last. Just ask the Cleveland Browns and the problems the franchise has had with Kellen Winslow Jr and his motorcycle exploits, among other things.

In May 2005, Cowher warned Roethlisberger about his riding habits after Winslow was injured in a motorcycle accident. Winslow tore knee ligaments and was lost for the season.

"I wish all our players liked board games or low-risk hobbies," Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage said Tuesday. "Unfortunately, that's part of the reason that makes these guys professional athletes. They have a little bit of an edge to want to do more, seek more. Where's the line? I don't know that."

Looking for the silver lining in this cloud is fairly easy. Pennsylvania and all states like it, must rescind the optional helmet law and make it mandatory. This is now an issue because the starting QB for the Super Bowl champs got hurt. How many times has it happened to people who aren't in the public eye? How many of them are still here today to talk about it?

Head coaches will demand a no riding policy starting from training camp until the end of the season. As a matter of fact, Seattle coach Mike Holmgren already initiated that rule yesterday for his players. Some teams already have it inserted in contracts that players shouldn't indulge in non-football activities that may cause injury.

More teams will jump on that bandwagon after the Roethlisberger incident and forbid players to entertain high risk activities while under contract. You can't blame the owners for wanting this. They've spent a ton of money building an organization and signing players. The last thing the front office needs is losing one to a stupid non-football injury.

Hopefully, this will be a wake-up call to everyone who rides without a helmet, not just the athletes. Ben Roethlisberger rolled the dice, gambled with his life and lady luck smiled on him - this time. If he continues to ride without a helmet, there may not be a next time.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Two Great Backs Could Be Saying Goodbye

The lifespan of an NFL player is about as long as a fruit fly - translation: not very long. The fruit fly lives for about three days tops, pretty much the same as an NFL running back.

All kidding aside, the game chews up and spits out running backs in quick fashion. No other position in the league has such a short duration. The average running back lasts three years. Three years! What kind of a career is that?

It's a special accomplishment to see a running back pass the three-year barrier and have a great career. What a rare occurrence indeed, which is why it's so bittersweet to hear that Marshall Faulk and Priest Holmes might be calling it a day.

Marshall has had both knees scoped in each of the past three seasons and it appears his 12 years of running on the hard turf has done him in. He didn't show up to Rams mini camp this past week because his knees haven't come around.

Holmes has played in only 15 games the past two seasons because of various injuries, but his head and neck injury he received last October may be the one the ends his career. There's talk he'll sit out the 2006 season and try to come back in 2007. Don't look for it though.

Faulk is the greatest all-purpose back to ever play the game. Period, end of discussion. His 12,279 yards rushing are ninth best in NFL history and his 767 receptions are the second most of any running back (Larry Centers leads with 827). And don't forget his 136 career touchdowns. He's the only player to crack 2,000 yards or more from scrimmage for four straight seasons (1998-2001).

In his seven-year tenure with the Rams, Faulk became the face of the St. Louis franchise. Twice winning NFL Offensive Player of the Year, as well as league MVP in 2000. The Rams won their first Super Bowl in franchise history in Faulk's debut year with the club.

Holmes, an undrafted free agent was a backup in Baltimore until the Kansas City Chiefs picked him up in 2001. It was with Dick Vermeil in KC that Holmes shined. In what may be the best four-year span for an NFL back, Holmes rushed for 4,204 yards, caught 225 passes for 2,163 yards and scored a whopping 76 TDs, including a then NFL-record 27 rushing touchdowns in 2003.

Holmes has rushed for 8,305 yards and 86 touchdowns in a nine-year career. You can also tack on an additional 2,945 yards on 334 receptions with eight scores coming through the air. He was a fantasy football owners wet dream. Just as Faulk was, but now it seems that father time has caught up with both.

It's a hard reality being a professional athlete. A normal career out in the world can last for 40 or 50 years if you're lucky and healthy enough. An athlete, particularly a football player, might have 15 years if the cards fall right. In what seems like an instant they can go from adoring crowds cheering them on, the press following their every move, to mowing their yard unnoticed as their career fades into the distant past.

Don't worry though, that won't happen to Marshall Faulk and Priest Holmes. Their place in NFL lore is secure.

Here's hoping that both can come back and play again. They're good for the game and still have the ability to play it at a high level. Either way, Faulk and Holmes have each left their own legacy, an imprint on the NFL, that will last for generations to come.

And they gave the fans memories to last a lifetime.

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

The NFL All-Bust Team

I know we're getting a little carried away with this list stuff, but since we have the best undrafted team and best draft steals squad finished, the Corner thought, 'Why not create the all-time NFL bust team?'

The guys who came out of the draft as sure things and for some reason never made the transition from college to the National Football League. This is the team of unrealized potential, some because of injuries, some from bad habits and some just weren't very good.

Now this is not a complete team like the other lists. Most centers and guards don't have first round grades so it's hard to put them down as a bust. The same goes with safeties. Those positions are not part of this team.

If you think we left someone off or if you just want to put in your two cents worth, feel free to comment below.

Carson's Corner NFL All-Bust Team


QB: Ryan Leaf - Hard to believe there was once a debate about who was the better quarterback coming out, him or Manning.
QB: Tim Couch - Couldn't leave out the top overall pick in the 1999 draft. His stay in the league almost as short as Leafs
RB: Blair Thomas - Second overall pick was mediocre at best.
RB: KiJana Carter - The curse of high first round draft picks at Penn State (D.J. Dozier, Thomas and Curtis Enis) was alive and well with Carter.
RB: Lawrence Phillips - Sixth overall pick had a cup of coffee in the NFL.
WR: Desmond Howard - Never materialized into the player many thought after winning the Heisman. Spent his career as a return specialist.
WR: David Verser - Fifth overall pick by the Bengals in 1981 draft. Barely had time to sip the Gatorade.
WR: Clyde Duncan - First round pick in 1984 by the Cardinals. Enough said the better.
TE: Derek Brown - Top 20 pick by the Giants in 1992. Caught 11 passes in three years.
OL: Tony Mandarich - workout wonder SI called the greatest offensive lineman ever. Too bad it didn't translate that way on the field.
OL: Brian Jozwiak - Seventh overall pick in 1986 draft. Who the hell is he?
P/K: Russell Erxleben - One of only four punters/kickers to be drafted in the first round. He shouldn't have been.


DE: Eric Curry - Bulldozer in college at Alabama. Didn't do much in NFL.
DE: Keith McCants - Another Bama great who underachieved in the pros.
DT: Steve Emtman - No. 1 overall pick in 1992. Injuries destroyed his career.
DT: Dan Wilkinson - Big Daddy has had a long, but inconsistent career in the pros. Has never lived up to being top overall choice in 1994 draft.
MLB: Brian Bosworth - Did win Rookie of the Year in 1987, but injuries limited him to just three seasons.
MLB: Tom Cousineau - First overall in 1979. Never materialized into the star people thought he would.
OLB: Aundray Bruce - No. 1 overall in 1988 spent his NFL career has a backup.
OLB: Trev Alberts - Fifth overall pick in 1994 played only three seasons because of injuries.
OLB: Quentin Coryatt - Second overall pick after Emtman who fizzled out after five mediocre years.
CB: Bruce Pickens - Third overall pick by Atlanta in 1991. Played four seasons with a whopping two career interceptions.
CB: Ricky Dixon - Fifth overall pick by the Bengals in 1988. Played six seasons with zero interceptions and one fumble recovery.

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

NFL All-Time Draft Steals Team

After the Corner compiled its all-time undrafted team, we got to thinking about putting together a list for the all-time draft day steals. Players who were drafted on the second day (fourth round or later) and wound up being superstars.

So the Corner (which is a one man operation by the way) got to work leafing through encyclopedia's, researching the Internet and looking at my own draft day lists from the past to come up with the team you'll read below. As always, if you disagree or think we left somebody deserving off the list, send us a comment.

Carson's Corner NFL All-Time Draft Steals Team


QB: Tom Brady, sixth round - Has led the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles in five years. Johnny Unitas and Bart Starr, fifth and seventh round picks respectively, are a close second.
RB: Terrell Davis, sixth round - Super Bowl MVP who owns two rings. One of only five backs to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. Curtis Martin is not on the list because he was a first day selection (third round).
FB: Larry Centers, fifth round - Has more career receptions (827) than any back in NFL history.
WR: Mark Clayton, 12th round - Dan Marino's favorite target. He had five 1,000 yard seasons and finished with 582 receptions in 11 seasons.
WR: Keenan McCardell, 12th round - Has over 800 receptions and over 10,000 yards in his 15-year career. Andre Reed belongs here as well, but since he was fourth rounder, McCardell wins out.
TE: Shannon Sharpe, seventh round - Only the greatest tight end in NFL history. Holds career marks for a TE in receptions (815), yards (10,060) and TDs (62).
C: Tom Nalen, seventh round - 12-year veteran who owns two Super Bowl rings. Five-time Pro Bowl selection.
G: Jesse Sapolu, 11th round - Owns four Super Bowl rings in 15-year career. Two Pro Bowl appearances.
G: Mark Schlereth, 10th round - Was a member of three Super Bowl winners in his 12-year career.
T: Jon Runyan, fourth round - Pro Bowl right tackle who's played in 10 NFL seasons.
T: Ephraim Salaam, seventh round - Eight year starter with the Atlanta Falcons.
K: Matt Stover, 12th round - Has played 15 seasons in the league. Has scored over 1,300 points and made 80 percent of his kicks. Morten Andersen was drafted in the fourth round, but that's high for a kicker, so Stover won out.


DE: Deacon Jones, 14th round - Quite possibly the greatest end to ever play the game and he's stolen in the 14th round by the Rams. Awesome pick! Enshrined in Canton.
DE: Richard Dent, eighth round - MVP of Super Bowl XX. His 137.5 sacks are fifth best in NFL history.
DT: La'Roi Glover, fifth round - Perennial pro bowler since he came into the league in 1996.
DT: Mike Lodish, 10th round - Only player in NFL history to appear in six Super Bowls.
MLB: Zach Thomas, fifth round - Considered too small. Has played in five Pro Bowls and is considered one of the best middle backers ever.
LB: Kevin Greene, fifth round - Played DE as well. His 160 career sacks are the best ever by a linebacker and third all-time.
LB: Karl Mecklenberg, 12th round - Switched from DE to LB and proceeded to be selected to six Pro Bowls. His 79 sacks are second in Denver history.
FS: Brock Marion, seventh round - Three-time All-Pro with 31 career interceptions.
SS: Rodney Harrison, fifth round - Consider by many to be one of the best strong safeties to ever play. Selected to the Pro Bowl three times. His 27.5 sacks are the most ever by a defensive back.
CB: Tyrone Braxton, 12th round - Played 13 seasons in the NFL and won back-to-back Super Bowls with the Broncos.
CB: Merton Hanks, fifth round - Didn't have blazing speed, but had excellent instincts and hands. Played 11 years.
P: Reggie Roby, sixth round - The late punter had a booming leg and played 16 seasons in the NFL. Three-time pro bowler.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

NFL All-Time Undrafted Team

Evaluating players is not an exact science. Regardless of the constant study, the workout numbers and the hours of game film scouts and coaches watch, sometimes great players slip through the cracks and aren't drafted.

For every Manning, Sanders and Dickerson there's a Couch, McCown and Mandarich. That's the nature of player evaluation - no matter how sure someone is about a player, you just never know until it's time for them to step on the field.

This got me thinking about all the great players who were never drafted and went on to have highly successful careers. So I decided to do some research and the results were shocking to say the least.

Six, count 'em six, are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and more will be joining them soon. I decided to compile this research into my very own NFL All-Time Undrafted Team. This is just one individuals opinion, if you feel different, comment below with your choices.

Carson's Corner NFL All-Time Undrafted Team


QB: Warren Moon - Fourth on all-time passing list. Nine Pro Bowls. Hall of Fame.
RB: Priest Holmes - Has rushed for 8,035 yards and 86 TDs. Four Pro- Bowls.
FB: Kimble Anders - Went to three Pro Bowls, finished with 369 catches.
WR: Rod Smith - Headed for Canton. 797 catches, 10,877 yards and 65 TDs.
WR: Wayne Chrebet - Second in Jets history with 588 receptions.
TE: Antonio Gates - Former hoops player who has 194 catches, 2,454 yards and 25 TDs in just three years.
C: Jim Langer - Hall of Fame. Played in three Super Bowls and six Pro Bowls. Part of undefeated 1972 team.
G: Larry Little - Teamed with Langer for Dolphins. Played in five Pro Bowls. Hall of Fame.
G: Mark Tuinei - The late Cowboy guard played 15 solid seasons.
T: Joe Jacoby - One of the famed Hogs. Played in four Pro Bowls.
T: James Williams - Switched from defense and started nine seasons for Chicago.
K: Adam Vinatieri - Mr. Clutch. Kicked game-winning field goal in two Super Bowls.

DE: Coy Bacon - Came from semi-pro league and had great career. Played in three Pro Bowls.
DE: Rich Jackson - 4x All-Pro with Denver Broncos.
DT: John Randle - Future hall-of-famer who played in seven Pro Bowls and collected 136.5 sacks, the most ever by a tackle.
DT: Keith Willis - Fourth all-time in Steelers history with 59 sacks.
MLB: Antonio Pierce - Young guy only getting better. Over 100 tackles last two seasons.
LB: Jessie Tuggle - Undersized backer who played in five Pro Bowls. Holds the NFL record for career tackles with 1,830.
LB: Sam Mills - Another undersized linebacker with a huge heart. Five Pro-Bowl appearances and over 1,300 career tackles. Mills died of cancer in 2005.
FS: Willie Wood - 10x All-Pro with 48 career picks. Played on five championship teams. Hall of Fame.
SS: Donnie Shell - 5x All-Pro, Four Super Bowl rings and 51 career interceptions, the most in history by a strong safety.
CB: Willie Brown - 54 career picks for the Hall of Fame inductee. Seven interceptions in the playoffs with three going for scores.
CB: Dick 'Night Train' Lane - Seven time All-Pro with 68 career interceptions, third most in NFL history. Holds single-season record with 14 picks in 1952. Hall of Fame.
P: Sean Landeta - Elected to two Pro Bowls. Played 22 years in the NFL.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

McNair Dealt to Ravens

The speculation has become reality. As soon as Steve McNair passes a physical, he will be traded to the Baltimore Ravens for a reported fourth-round draft pick in 2007. The pick could be a third rounder depending on playing time and performance issues.

The Tennessee Titans released a statement Wednesday talking about McNair's departure. "We have granted permission to Baltimore to give Steve McNair a physical, which we expect to take place in the next 24 hours," the Titans said in the statement. "Upon passing a physical, final trade terms will be agreed upon."

Thus ends the tenure of McNair in Tennessee - the face of the Titans franchise for 10 years. And what an inglorious ending it was.

McNair played hurt, played hard and gave it his all in every game. He led the Titans to their only Super Bowl berth in 1999 and was the unquestioned leader of the franchise. How was he rewarded? By being banned from the practice facility during the off season. McNair filed a grievance and won, but the Titans responded by issuing a statement that McNair couldn't practice or workout until he passed a physical.

That treatment, plus salary cap issues (McNair had a $23 million dollar cap number), spelled the end for the Alcorn State product. No one is happier than Brian Billick and the Baltimore Ravens, who were after him since April.

During the second day of the NFL draft in April, the Titans gave Bus Cook, NcNair's agent, permission to talk to the Ravens about a new contract. Cook worked out a deal that gave him an $11 million signing bonus and a $1 million base salary. That was more than the $9 million he was scheduled to make in base salary for the Ravens in 2006.

The three-time pro bowl selection could be the missing piece in the Raven puzzle. Long known for its defense, which is still solid even with age finally hitting Ray Lewis, Baltimore may finally have the offense it needs to contend for the Super Bowl once again.

With Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and Chris McAlister manning the defense, a solid running game with a healthy Jamal Lewis and newly acquired Mike Anderson, a receiving corps on the rise with Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton and a solid kicking game (Matt Stover) - the only question mark was at quarterback.

Kyle Boller has not lived up to his first-round status, but did show marked improvement toward the end of the year. Having McNair on board could be the best thing for Boller. The young guy had to start right away and didn't get a chance to learn and develop slowly. McNair can show Boller what it takes to be a top-flight signal caller in the NFL.

If he can stay healthy, look for 'Air McNair' to put up big numbers in 2006. He has the personnel around him to make the Ravens a scary team. The main problem is their division has the world champion Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals (AFC North champs) in it.

Regardless, McNair is a proven winner and leader and with a solid supporting cast behind, the Baltimore Ravens could emerge as the team to beat in the AFC.

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Chrebet Retires After 11 Seasons

After 11-seasons with the New York Jets, wide receiver Wayne Chrebet called it a career after overcoming many obstacles on his path to be a football player in the NFL. In the end, it was too many concussions (three in as many years and possibly six for his career) that did him in.

"I'm thankful to everybody who was with me for the ride," said the 32-year-old Chrebet, who paused several times to compose himself at his press conference. "I'm just overwhelmed by the support I've received over the years and especially on days like this."

Chrebet was the poster boy for underachievers. The 5-10, 188-pound undrafted wideout from Hofstra wasn't supposed to have a career in the National Football League. He signed with the Jets and quickly became a clutch receiver in camp. He eventually started all 16 games as a rookie.

"You can't imagine how it feels to be me right now," Chrebet said. "I always told people I believed I could do this and certainly my first day here, a 70-year-old security guard didn't let me into practice. I could either laugh it off and go on my journey or take it as a sign it wasn't going to happen. I didn't take that sign. I believed in myself."

He is second on the all-time team career receptions list with 580 and third with 7,365 yards. His 41 career touchdowns are eighth in Jets history. One stat that proves how clutch he was is that 379 of his catches went for first downs.

"His story is that of a long shot, a consummate overachiever," team owner Woody Johnson said. "Wayne's trajectory of success represents everything that is great about this sport."

He wasn't big. He didn't have blazing speed, but Chrebet had something that scouts can't measure with their stopwatches and tape measures - he had heart. It was sheer guts, determination and persistence that made Chrebet the player he turned out to be.

His undefeatable spirit and rock-solid work ethic is the blueprint and inspiration for a new generation of players who may not have all the intangibles, but have the fire of desire inside them to make it in the NFL. Chrebet is the model - the standard bearer - the proof that it can be done.

"He inspired me every day," running back Curtis Martin said. "I loved the way he played and how he never backed down from anything. He was an incredible teammate. He was a warrior, and I always felt you'd have to kill him to get the upper hand on him. If every player in the NFL had as much heart and desire as he had, football would be illegal."

That in a nutshell is what made Chrebet so special. He was tough, hard-nosed, competitive and fun to watch. Chrebet was a great player, a class act and all that's good about the NFL.

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Friday, June 02, 2006

Martz Will Make Detroit Offense Better

Like him or not, Mike Martz is an offensive genius. He proved that with the St. Louis Rams when he was at the controls of an offense that ranked number one in the NFL from 1999-2001.

The Rams offense scored over 500 points and gained over 7,000 yards for three straight seasons. Something that was never done before and may never be again.

That's the reason why new Detroit Lions head coach Rod Marinelli wooed Martz to the Motor City. Even after he turned down the offer originally, Marinelli kept persuading until Martz gave in and accepted the job as offensive coordinator.

He was needed big time.

The Lions offense hasn't fulfilled the expectations of fans or management the last three years. GM Matt Millen drafted three wide receivers (Charles Rogers, Roy Williams and Mike Williams) in the first round in three of the last four drafts. They have underachieved in a big way and, fair or not, Millen's name is hated in the Motor City because of it.

Joey Harrington, the second overall pick in 2002, never panned out and is now in Miami. RB Kevin Jones, who gained 1,133 yards as a rookie in 2004, fell off the pace big time last year with only 664 yards on the ground.

Martz is inheriting a dysfunctional offense and that's exactly the way he likes it. When he became offensive boss of the Rams in 1999, he took the reins of an offense that ranked 22nd in the league and took them to first in one season.

He made his presence felt immediately at Detroit's mini-camp and when he finally addressed the media for the first time as a Lion on Thursday. He said that some of the players ''were grossly out of shape."

Martz did say that they had a long way to go, but that strides are being made. "We teach all the details, then we start putting it together," Martz said. "Once they learn the details, then you start mixing and matching, then it becomes a lot of fun. But we're a long ways away from that."

As erratic, unpredictable and maddening as Martz is as a head coach, he is just as awe-inspiring and amazing as an offensive coordinator. The 'Greatest Show on Turf' days with the Rams, especially the 1999 and 2001 Super Bowl years, proved beyond a shadow of a doubt his ability to call plays and creating intricate game plans.

His knack for developing quarterbacks is another strength that will help the Lions tremendously. And with Jon Kitna and Josh McCown coming in to replace Harrington and Jeff Garcia, Millen, Marinelli and company are looking for that Martz magic to come through once again.

The list of quarterbacks he has turned into solid NFL players is impressive: Jake Plummer, Trent Green, Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger.

He coached Plummer at Arizona State, Green in Washington and Warner and Bulger in St. Louis. Everyone knows Warner's Cinderella story, going from grocery bagger to NFL and Super Bowl MVP. Kitna and McCown are veterans with tons of experience, so don't be surprised if one of them (most likely Kitna) has a big year in 2006.

He will demand discipline and effort, qualities the Lions desperately need on the offensive side of the ball. He may not be the best liked coach by his players, but he is a successful one and in the end, that's all that matters to the fans and the city.

One thing is certain - no matter what Detroit's record is - defenses will be in fear of the Lion offense in 2006. And the reason for that is Mike Martz.

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