* So Dexter Jackson was "choosing between filet mignon and lobster," according to his agent. Well, instead of the Steelers or Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jackson signed with the Arizona Cardinals. Guess he settled for lump crabmeat.
* That may keep Jackson
in line to become part of that new wave of "flat-bellied" NFL officials some
day, but that's a note more suited for end-of-column chuckles.
really wasn't supposed to be Larry Brown, that predictable bust of a past
free-agent generation, but here's how this year's Super Bowl MVP morphed into
that realm. At the price the Steelers were willing to pay, Jackson was a bit
overpriced. Scouts joked about Jackson's lack of talent when he came out of
college, but understood that players do get better sometimes in the NFL. That
was allowed. But since Bill Bidwell -- the Cardinals' paper-champion of an owner
-- made Jackson the second-highest paid free safety in the league, the
comparisons to Brown become inevitable.
* You knew Bidwell, whose team
was an incredible $34 million under the cap, had to have Jackson because of his
newly gained status. Bidwell lost both his quarterback and top offensive player
this off-season, but he gained the Super Bowl MVP. He'll surely put that on the
cover of his media guide and attempt to sell the concept to those poor fans in
the Valley of the Sun.
* Yeah, Jackson's alright, but by no means should
it have been "a sad, sad day in Pittsburgh" as one caller to Stan Savran's talk
show would have us believe. Savran didn't even rip into the poor sot because he
sided, somewhat, with the caller. Look people, Jackson just isn't that good.
Line up one of those young safeties rotting on the bench and get on with it.
Really, it's not that great of a loss.
* To Savran's credit, at least he
was talking about the subject. The other so-called sports talk station in town
didn't even realize the news had broken.
* I know, I know. Please excuse
my 15-minute lapse of judgment. The radio was quickly banished in favor of
Richard Johnston's "Foot Hill Stomp". Sometimes I just have to hear the wailing
of yinzers after a free agent spurns the beloved Steelers. It makes the music
sound that much better.
* Why not Mike Logan? Good question. Here's a
guy who lacks safety instincts but is physically suited for the position. Those
two facts make him the ideal dime back, where a poor decision doesn't kill the
team deep. But maybe it's time he gets his shot. And Chris Hope? He played great
late in the season against Jacksonville and in limited time against Cleveland in
the playoffs. Maybe it's time he gets his shot. Really, this wailing and
gnashing of teeth has me confused.
* So Logan and Hope are two
candidates. There's also the draft. Some of you may remember the draft. Yeah, in
the old days needs were filled by drafting a young player out of college. I
know, it's a wild concept, but it really did work at times.
coaches, scouts and front-office personnel have been warned about talking to the
media (you wouldn't want anyone writing stories about your team at this time of
the year, agreed) but defensive coordinator Tim Lewis allowed a nugget to escape
before the gag order was put in place. "It doesn't matter who we sign if they
can't cover Todd Heap," Lewis said, and it makes sense. The Baltimore tight end
will run past just about every free-agent safety on the shopping list. That
gives even more reason to draft a young safety.
* USC strong safety Troy
Polamalu ran four 40s under 4.4 on his school's fast track Wednesday. OK, so
he's not considered a first-round guy because he's only 5 feet 10 inches tall,
but I have no doubt he can cover Heap. How 'bout MAKING him a first-round guy?
* Someone ran down a list of the second-round studs who were only second
rounders because there was something atypical about them. Levon Kirkland was on
the list. So were Carnell Lake, Mike Singletary, Kendrell Bell, Sam Madison,
Lawyer Milloy, Chad Brown and Dermontti Dawson. These were guys who were passed
over in the first round because they didn't fit stereotypes, but picked in the
second because scouts really, really liked them as players. Maybe the Steelers
should remember that second thought at the end of the first round.
Now, what do the Steelers do with the extra cap space they cleared for Jackson?
The popular theory from the big paper in town is that they give more money to
the starting quarterback in order to make it easier to sign a quality back-up
quarterback. Uh, no. I'd do anything -- everything -- else, even extend Marvel
Smith. Give him some Kona Gold for good measure.
* Why are rallies,
particularly fourth-quarter rallies, always furious?
* And while we're
pondering life's big questions, how can the NFL demand the resignations of eight
NFL officials and none of them are named Phil Luckett?
* Lost among
Luckett's many legendary gaffes is the touchdown he allowed the Browns to score
in the playoffs this year after the play clock had struck zero. Even as a back
judge, Luckett has been a miserable failure.
* Oh, that's right. He's
not fat. But I smell a lawsuit in there somewhere.
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