Tag Archives: John Elway

What went wrong in Denver

Michael Lombardi writes that ownership didn’t buy into McDaniels plan

When Belichick was hired in Cleveland, Modell had no idea what he had, or what Belichick could eventually become. He never thought in three dimensions, or hired with a plan; he just hoped for success, in large part because Modell based every decision on what the media and the fans thought. Modell had a wonderful heart. He wanted to make his fan base happy, therefore hiring Belichick after winning a Super Bowl with the New York Giants was great, and firing him after the fans revolted was also great — never mind he just extended his contract.

Belichick’s success in New England was due to his experience in Cleveland — that Modell financed and Patriots owner Robert Kraft now enjoys. Any time a team hires a young coach or a young executive, one must think in a three-dimensional way. Does he have the aptitude to be a successful leader? Does he have the willingness to grow? Do we have the strength to handle the turbulent times?

Modell paid for Belichick’s education as a head coach, an education that has to be lived, not learned. There are no schools to attend to be a successful coach in the NFL. And just because an assistant works for a successful coach does not ensure success when it comes time for a promotion to the head coach’s chair.

When the Broncos hired McDaniels and turned over all the power to him, they had to understand there would likely be tough times. But did they?

As an outsider looking in, when the Broncos hired McDaniels, I thought they were willing to change the direction of their organization. Having spent a brief time volunteering my services as a consultant to Mike Shanahan, I saw firsthand Denver’s ridiculous spending on players, the failure to have a personnel department, and the constant approach to repair as opposed to rebuild. Therefore, when the Broncos fired Shanahan following the 2008 season and decided to change the course, eliminating the free-spending of the past, the move signaled to me that they wanted to try the Patriot Way, which centers on building a total team through the draft, cut spending in free agency and develop coaches and players from within.

Initially, it made sense to me, as most owners tend to hire the opposite of what they just fired. Firing McDaniels 28 games into his tenure as the head coach is bad for both parties. It wasn’t enough time for the team to be fully developed, or enough time for McDaniels to grow into the job.

And therein lies the problem — the Broncos wanted to change, but were not committed to change. Once they slipped into a different world, they longed to be back to their old ways of doing things. They really love the Bronco Way.

Never mind they have only won one playoff game in the last 12 years. Never mind they lack talent on the field, or are going to be paying three head coaches as a result of McDaniels’ firing. Never mind they might have to take two steps back to move forward. Clearly, this move means the Broncos long for their old days, and potentially bringing John Elway back into the organization signals how much they miss those days.

Jake Plummer on Mike Shanahan

Jake Plummer says the same thing about Mike Shanahan that Les Carpenter said earlier this week.

"I had a coach that, regardless of how well I thought I was playing or how well the majority of fans across the country thought I was playing, it was never good enough for him," Plummer said, not bitter but very matter-of-fact. "And that kind of gets frustrating.

"It just seemed like every game I could have completed these four more passes or these five more shots here and it would have been perfect. And that just wasn’t my personality… But Shanahan wanted perfection and he wore a lot of us down there."

Plummer didn’t sound surprised by the current circus unfolding in Washington, D.C., between Shanahan and Redskins quarterback.

"I think Shanahan is still searching for John Elway," Plummer said. "Somehow, someway, he thinks there’s going to be another guy like John Elway.

"He coached a team to almost perfection [with Elway] so he wanted that again, he wanted that every time we went out there. It’s just not realistic."

Searching for the next John Elway

Les Carpenter at Yahoo! Sports has a good article on how Mike Shanahan’s constant search for the next John Elway is ruining his coaching career and the Washington football team.

When it comes to quarterback, the position he played and loved and has nurtured through his 35 years of coaching, Mike Shanahan is never a patient man.

After Brian Griese failed to be the acceptable replacement for John Elway in Denver, Shanahan dumped him. As Jake Plummer proved incapable of running his offense the coach replaced him midseason despite a 7-4 record.

In Shanahan’s quest for the next Elway, no player is infallible, no situation too absurd. If a quarterback displeases Shanahan as apparently Donovan McNabb has done, then he is a candidate for exclusion. Even if fewer than two minutes remain in a winnable game against a team you need to beat.

Shanahan’s late-game benching of McNabb on Sunday against the Detroit Lions still defies logic. And three days of his bungled attempts to explain the decision – claiming first that journeyman Rex Grossman was better-suited than a future Hall-of-Famer to run the two-minute offense, then changing a day later to claim McNabb wasn’t in the right cardiovascular condition to run the two-minute plays – was uncharacteristic of a coach who burns for perfection.

But this year must be so strange for Shanahan, who came to Washington believing the fierceness of his will could make these lousy Redskins a winner the way he always made his Broncos teams competitive in Denver. Halfway through this season, associates say, he has come to realize the team Vinny Cerrato built and left for him is not very good and no level of coaching – no matter how intense – is going to change that.

Those who have worked with Shanahan say his greatest strength, yet also his biggest weakness, is his certainty that he can improve anybody. In the past he has eschewed the good advice of scouts to watch highlight tapes of prospects, choosing to see only the best plays that player made, confident he can coax them to that level as if to say they hadn’t been coached by him.

When they fail to meet those standards he sours on them. Soon they wither and fade away.

And it appears Shanahan has soured on McNabb.

Tim Tebow Drafted by the Denver Broncos

Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos

So the Denver Broncos drafted the heir apparent to John Elway by drafting former Heisman winner Tim Tebow from the University of Florida Gators.  Tebow has been called the greatest college quarterback ever and is probably the most popular college player in recent years which means that he has his fair share of Tebow haters out there.

Here are my thoughts on the pick.

Tim Tebow Denver Broncos Jersey I can’t figure out how a guy that supposed to be drafted in the third round two weeks ago leaps to the first round.  Now I know Denver brought him in for a workout and I know that he probably could make “all of the throws” but Tebow comes from a college offense that isn’t well suited for the pros.  While he was a great college runner, his 4.74 speed won’t cause incredible fear in the pro game as he can be run down by most linebackers and some defensive ends.

In Florida he had very poor mechanics with a very elongated release that would cause serious problems in the NFL.  Of course in a couple of weeks he managed to make his release a lot more compact which won him a lot of praise for changing it so soon (and created some questions about Urban Meyers ability to coach a quarterback).  In Florida he tended to lock onto a receiver and rarely wet through multiple reads before tucking it and running.

His fans will say that he is a really hard worker on and off the field and let’s be honest, few NFL games he will be in will be more pressure packed than two BCS Championship games or his games versus Florida State (than again, those probably were more like practicing against Florida’s scout defense considering the state of FSU football right now).

I keep hearing that Josh McDaniels will essentially redshirt Tim Tebow in 2010, coach him, and let him compete for a backup role in 2011 with the idea that he can compete for the starting job in 2013.  This makes a lot of sense as it what Green Bay did with Aaron Rodgers and look how that turned out.  Unless of course you have and 8-8 team and just traded away your franchise quarterback last season, your franchise receiver and a really good pass catching tight end this season.  In other words, this makes a lot of sense if Andy Reid had done it, if Mike Shanahan had done it (even in Washington), if Bill Bilichick had done it but not so much when Josh McDaniels does it.  The Denver Broncos have a lot of immediate needs on both offense and defense than quarterback in the first round.  First round draft picks are supposed to start now, not in a couple of years.  You don’t reach in the first round unless your name is Al Davis.

The Denver Broncos better get off to a fast start and sustain it this year; otherwise the fans and media will start calling for Tebow to play before he is ready. That could be a disaster for everyone involved.

It’s My Fault

joe-montana.xxiv

I was watching America’s Game today, the episode on the 1980-81 Superbowl Champion San Francisco 49ers.  Randy Cross, Dwight Clark, and Ronnie Lott were all talking about how everything was Joe Montana’s fault.  A bad snap, Joe Montana would say, “I pulled out too early”.  An interception where the receiver was in the wrong place and Joe would say, “I made a bad pass”.  Everything was Joe Montana’s fault.  Now the coaches knew the truth but the players would do anything for a guy who would take the blame for their mistakes.

Now this isn’t revolutionary, a lot of great players have lived this out and the response is always the same.  Their teammates deeply appreciate it and the effect is the same, when Joe Montana would make a throw that was too high or in the right place, the receivers would fight and scratch to go get it, knock it away from a defender or do whatever they had to do during a game.

18 November 2007:  Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell #2 takes pre-game warmups.  The Vikings defeated the Raiders by a score of 29 to 22 at the H.H.H. Metrodome, Minneapolis, Minnesota. My question is why along the way have the JaMarcus Russell, Jay Cutler, and Jeff George’s of the world never learned this.  Over their career, they have constantly tossed offensive linemen, receivers, and running backs under the bus with confrontations on the sidelines or as JaMarcus Russell did this year, blame them for his lack of success.

They have agents, advisors, coaches, and teammates and you have to think that one of them said, “Hey, stop glaring at your receivers when they drop a pass.  It makes them look bad and embarrasses them.”  Despite that, many have no idea that team sports are won and lost as a team and their lack of emotional intelligence hurts their team and their careers.

How many QB’s won Super Bowls who had teammates who hated them?  Even the wild and out of control Raiders of the 70s and 80s liked each other.

One of the things that the New England Patriots reportedly place a high priority on when drafting players in character.  Character makes players coachable, makes them get along with their teammates, helps them handle adversity, and also keeps them out of trouble with the law or NFL rules.  In other words it allows the team to concentrate on football, not the drama that surrounds the players I mentioned.

What I also can’t believe is that there are still franchises who place so little emphasis on these qualities and really think that talent is everything.  It isn’t.  At the same time I can’t believe that agents aren’t getting these guys coached by the greats that have gone before them.  For years some of these stars have gotten along with having more talent then everyone else but now everyone has talent.  It’s now an age of hard work, intelligence, and desire will win you games.  If I was an agent, I would have my client sit down less with rappers and new media consultants and more with guys like Archie Manning, John Elway, Joe Montana, Roger Staubach, and Dan Marino and see what the learned about leading a team, being loyal, and the work it took to play the game.  It was Roger Staubach who called up John Elway and said, “hit the weight room kid if you want to survive playing the way you do.”  With Russell it may as well be, “stay away from the Eggo’s in the morning” but I am sure they would have things to say before he ate away his career.

The Confessions of a NFL Addict

The NFL season is almost here and I am coming to grips with my ongoing addiction to NFL football.  Since it is a changing addiction, I thought I would offer up where I am at this year.

  • I am planning to take Thursday and Friday of the NFL draft in 2010 as vacation days.
  • I can only follow about 300 people on Twitter without missing Tweets all over the place (hint if someone says they are following 3,000 people, that aren’t following anyone).  I have had to make some tough choices on who to cut since I am following @richeisen, @OGochocinco, @YahooSportsNFL @Adam_Schefter, @RealMikeSilver, @SI_PeterKing, @tim_micallef, @Denver_Broncos, and @jamiedukes.  Sadly it meant that there were some cuts that had to be made.  I’ll follow @wendycooper, @coopermark, and @mcgrowl in the off season.
  • I have recently made a couple of dinner reservations under Steve DeBerg and one under Ron Mexico.  Speaking of Mr. Mexico, every time I have ever prepared a sermon, I have looked for an appropriate place to make a Ron Mexico reference and after years of study, I have concluded, there is no appropriate place.  That being said, I do think that would make a worthy topic of a Masters thesis.
  • Instant Replay by Jerry Kramer I recently re-read Instant Replay by Green Bay Packer great, Jerry Kramer.  If you haven’t read it, it is one of the great sports biographies of all time and shows how close those Green Bay Packer’s teams under Vince Lombardi really were.
  • I bought Wendy some Denver Broncos ear rings last year for our anniversary (actually she picked them out).
  • We woke up to Mark watching the NFL Network last week.  I cried a tear of joy.
  • Not only did the original pre-season game with Kyle Orton throwing all of those touchdowns make me upset but so did both times I watched the rerun of the game.
  • Speaking of Kyle Orton, I am thinking of growing a really bad neck beard as a sign of solidarity.

Kyle Orton and his beard while with the Chicago Bears

  • Today I got out my combination of John Elway cards, including the 1989 Pro-Set John Elway card, which I count as my favorite card of all time, dusted them off and displayed them in a tacky place to drive Wendy crazy until the Super Bowl is over or she threatens me with a divorce.
  • I tried to convince Wendy that we name Oliver, Thurston Goal Cooper.  That didn’t go over well either.

Maybe I do need some professional help… at least until the Kyle Orton neck beard grows in.

Kyle Orton will do fine…

For those of us who are trying to tell ourselves that things in Denver will be fine without Jay Cutler and Josh McDaniels will be great, here is are some stats to think about.

  • Super Bowl wins for Mike Shanahan without John Elway: 0.
  • Super Bowl wins for Chuck Noll without Terry Bradshaw: 0.
  • Super Bowl wins for George Seifert without Steve Young or Joe Montana: 0.
  • Super Bowl wins for Jimmy Johnson without Troy Aikman: 0.
  • Super Bowl wins for Tom Landry without Roger Staubach: 0.
  • Championships for Paul Brown without Otto Graham: 0.
  • Super Bowl wins for Tony Dungy without Peyton Manning: 0.
  • Super Bowl wins for Bill Belichick without Tom Brady: 0.

Don Shula seemed to be the exception who proved the rule although in Miami, they did not have a RB or much of  a defense.   Not a lot of Super Bowl titles are won with the Trent Dilfers of the world.

It’s not your choice if you want to be a role model

Rick Reilly has an excellent article in ESPN about taking a grieving nephew to meet John Elway

John-Elway-Photograph-C12192603 As locals, Cynthia and I took them to lunch at one of Elway’s restaurants so Jake could see all the jerseys and photos. The kid was so excited he hardly ate. And that was before a certain Hall of Fame QB walked in, all keg-chested and pigeon-toed. Immediately, Jake turned into an ice sculpture.

We introduced them, and it took a few seconds before Jake could even stick out his hand. Apparently, 13-year-olds are not used to meeting gods.

Elway took the time to sign Jake’s football and pose for a picture. He even made us all go outside, where the light was better. Then, as we said goodbye — Jake’s feet floating a foot off the ground — Elway turned and said, out of nowhere, "Hey, why don’t you guys come by the box today?"

And the next thing Jake knew, he was in John Elway’s luxury box at the game, asking him any question he wanted, all with a grin that threatened to split his happy head in half.

Then Elway said, "Comin’ to dinner?"

And suddenly Jake was having his lettuce wedge cut for him by the legend, who tousled the kid’s cowlick. Like a dad might.

Halfway through the night, a guy came out of the bathroom and said, "Are you guys with that kid? Because he’s in there talking to his mom on the phone, crying. Is he OK?"

Yes, Jake would be OK.

He finishes with this

A lot of athletes don’t want the burden that comes with being a role model. But what I want to tell them is: You don’t get to choose. You don’t get to tell 13-year-old boys with holes in their hearts who can help them heal.

I know it’s a hassle, but it matters. Because you never know when you might just lead a kid out to where the light is better.

Kind of makes me feel good about being a life long fan of a certain John Elway.

Christmas Gift Guide: Gift Ideas for Men | 2008 Edition

One of the secrets of the house is that I do all of the Christmas shopping.  Wendy sees it as a task to endure, I see it as a work of art.  We know who gets the better Christmas gifts around here.  At the same time I keep hearing for people that they don’t know what to get for their husbands, sons, and fathers.  I have been giving out tips lately and I thought that I would post them here.  As you will see, some are more serious than others.

In case you are wondering, Wendy and I have spend under $100 on each of us at Christmas.  We have a pretty simple Christmas but I enjoy looking for the perfect gift.  A decade ago Gloria told me that if she likes the gift she is giving and if it is good enough for her, it is good enough for the person she is giving it too.  Wendy and I think the same way.

  1. Ohio Fine Fountain Pen | Give a nice pen this Christmas.  Those 25 packs of pens for $2 are fine if you are a homeless shelter and everyone takes yours but eventually you or someone you love is going to want to write a memo, a letter, or need to fill out a bunch of pointless paper work for a certain government department that you may have to deal with.  For that, you need a good pen for a reasonable price.  This is a fine fountain pen and you can get it for only $20.  Make sure you order some refills as well.
  2. What’s the point of having a kick butt library if those ingrates that call you a friend come over and take a book home every time they visit.  Since tasers are still illegal for personal use in Canada, why not pick up a personal library set instead ($19.95).  Of course you can’t buy them integrity but you will be able to get your books back.  In case the person you are you buying for is vain, you can get them a year long ($10) or a life time ($25) subscription to LibraryThing as well.  They may be vain but they are in good company.
  3. Leica M8 | Is there a better gift for a loved one that a Leica camera?  At only $5995.00, you can get one for your favorite blogger as well.  I know almost $6000 seems a little pricey for a camera but look at the camera you are giving out and just think of how much better the photos will be that they will be posting to Flickr.  Of course you can’t help them if they take photos of their thumbs and feet all of the time but at least they will be clear photos of their thumb and feet.
  4. Movie Pix HD ($100) | I bought one of these this fall for $100 at Wal-Mart and it has been a great little camera that one can carry everywhere.  It shoots in 16:9 and with a 2 gb memory card, you never have to worry about running out of space. (I review it here).  The one thing that you will want to pick up for it is some extra batteries.  We have some nickel cadmium batteries but for the holidays, we also picked up 40 Maxell alkaline batteries to make sure we had some batteries ready to go if needed.  If you have kids this is the way to go.  Within minutes of shooting, these videos can be uploaded to YouTube which go a long way in making his mother-in-law forget what a schlep her daughter married.  While you are at it, pick up a video editing suite that is better than Microsoft Movie Maker.  Check out Movie Magix ($45) (download free trial here) for an affordable but functional movie editing software for Windows.  If he has a Mac, he has iMovie and he is taking care of.
  5. McFarlane Toys ($15) | As boys we loved our Star Wars and GI Joe action figures.  Our tastes have matured a bit but so have our action figures.  Now McFarlane Toys is making Derek Jeter, John Elway, or LeBron James action figures but in a way where they look cool sitting on our desk.  When I mention this to women they look at me like I am idiot but at the same time their husbands come into my office every day to talk sports and check them out.  I got some of mine at Wal-Mart for $5.  Just make sure you don’t get the Grant Fuhr in a Calgary Flames uniform or something stupid that could get him beat up by Calgary and Edmonton fans.
  6. America at War Megaset ($60) | 25 DVDs of American history by the History Channel.  This is a great gift for the history buff that gets on your nerves.  Not only do you make him happy but he won’t leave his den until September 2009.  You can thank me later as you will have all sorts of time.
  7. Neumann Gloves ($35)| If he played football in high school, he had a pair of Neumann gloves and I bet he misses them.  When wet, they actually get tacky which is helpful should a random stranger fire a football at him while it is raining.  The leather palms almost make for a durable glove which are good for playing slo-pitch or mountain biking.  It is also guaranteed to get the ball tossed to him during touch football games even if he does move slower than Shaquille O’Neal playing defense.  If he lives in Canada or is just a CFL fan, get him the winter receiver gloves.
  8. Interactive R2D2 Astromech Droid ($104) | There is nothing more irritating to be driving along and find out that your rear shields have been shot off.  While you are concentrating on shooting the ears off a Gundark or sending a protron torpedo down an exhaust chute, R2 can take care of your car or X-Wing fighter.
  9. Personal Sountrack Shirt ($39.95) | If you are like me, you dream of a personal mariachi band to follow you to play a soundtrack for your life.  Well it’s time to give the band some pink slips and replace them with a shirt that can play MP3s, sound effects, and look good doing it.  It even has a remote.
  10. Find me the Matrix ($19.95) | If you are shopping for a guy or girl who is always wondering where the nearest wifi connection is, this shirt lights up when you are near one.  The brighter your shirt, the better the connection.
  11. Sony PSP 2000 ($169) | I know it’s been out for a couple of years but after having one for a year I can’t recommend it enough.  Games like SOCOM kill time during a rainy day at the lake and at the same time keep Mark quiet on the drive up in the back seat.  I have a 2 gig memory stick that I load up with YouTube videos and documentaries from Google Video.  Spluge a bit and get the 8 gig card and you have a great travelling machine.  For another $20 you can get the headphone and mic which combined with Skype make for a really cheap long distance option for the road warrior.
  12. University of Saskatchewan basketball tickets ($8) | This is pretty localized but if you are in Saskatoon and you haven’t been to a Huskies basketball game, you are missing out.  The PAC is a great place to watch a game and the Huskies play an entertaining style of basketball.  Courtside tickets are only $15 and you have your own waiter/waitress.
  13. “ Roughriders Drive” Sign ($20) | This metal sign will be perfect for your cabin or den and if you aren’t a Roughrider fan, you can a variation of the classic street sign with your own teams name on it.  Of course all of you are Rider fans so this won’t be an issue.
  14. Noise Cancelling Headphones ($35) | If your loved on travels a lot and doesn’t have a pair, this should be at the top of your list.  Until you have flown with a pair of these on, you have no idea how much easier they make flying.
  15. Bellagio Classico 2 Vintage Series Men’s Mechanical Skeleton Watch ($200) | There is nothing like opening a great looking watch on Christmas day and this is one great looking watch.  I am not sure if you have to pay $200 for a watch, I am wearing a good looking Timex that I bought for $10 that generates a lot of compliments.  Another watch I have was purchased for less than $30 that has provoked even a decade later that it is the nicest watch people have seen.  I just linked to this one because it looked cool and  I hope it is some inspiration.
  16. Swiss Army Knife | It’s the knife that MacGuyver used.  Do I need to say anything more?

Christmas Gift Ideas and Gift GuidesIf I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.

Emergence of the gambling man

Michael Silver (who has become one of my favorite sports writers) has a good article on the return of Mike Shanahan.

Denver Broncos' coach Mike Shanahan on the sideline The true significance of Sunday’s game was Shanahan’s gutsy decision to go all in and play for the win – a course that he and Cutler plotted as the Chargers went up by 7 with 4:22 remaining.

Strip it all away, and this was an "I’m Back" statement from a coach nearly a decade removed from his last Super Bowl victory who is coming off a losing season he found untenable.

It was a power move by a play-calling savant who knows he finally has the quarterback who can help the Mile High City get over its collective post-John Elway hangover.

And, let’s be honest, it was the act of a man who, despite recent rumblings to the contrary, is secure in his environment. Now in his 14th season, the league’s second-longest-tenured head coach was willing to risk the backlash that would have accompanied a failed conversion. Given that only six other coaches had pulled a similarly risky move (going for two while down a point in the final two minutes) since the advent of the rule in 1994 – and only two of those six had been successful – Shanahan had to be feeling mighty exposed.

Let’s be honest: He’s been waiting for a chance to expose himself in good conscience for a long time. And even in those tense moments before he knew how the outcome would play out, Shanahan loved every second of it.

"I think so," said Cutler, who completed 36 of 50 passes for 350 yards and four touchdowns in a performance that we may remember as the day he became a big-time NFL passer. "I think he’s comfortable being aggressive. We’re attacking a lot more this year. We’ve got so many weapons. Our receivers are stepping up, our tight ends are exciting and our backs are so versatile. And with the way our line’s playing, we feel like we can attack you any way you want."

Most of all Cutler, in his third season, has progressed to a point where Shanahan wants nothing more than the ball in his quarterback’s right hand with the game on the line.

"That’s why you go for it," Shanahan said afterward as he sat in the coaches’ locker room at Invesco, his face still flushed from the excitement. "I’ve always believed you get a good feel for a quarterback in his third year, and I knew going into this offseason that Jay was capable of doing what he’s done these first two games. If he keeps on playing at this level, good things will happen."

Oliver Scott Cooper

Wendy and Mark chilling in the hospital bed

After listening to the doctors suggest Wendy could be heading home today with her blood pressure under control, of course it spiked to dangerous levels during the night and at 5:20 a.m., Wendy called me and said, “They are taking the baby this morning”.  She was beyond maxed out on Labatatol and the nurses were expressing concerns how sustainable this was considering it wasn’t working on Eclampsia. After racing through the empty streets of Saskatoon (well as much as one can race through the streets of Saskatoon with a Honda Accord), I got the hospital and waited with a very sick Wendy.  Several doctors came in and explained how serious of shape she was in and while the baby was doing well, Wendy wasn’t and it was becoming too dangerous for Wendy if the pregnancy continued.

After they performed another emergency cesarean section on someone else, it was Wendy’s turn and at 10:45 a.m., they took the baby out of the operating room without Wendy and I seeing it which raised concerns that it was actually an alien baby (anyone else remember V?”), instead things were fine and Oliver Scott Cooper made his way to NICU.  Oliver’s name came during a lengthy debate on names after Wendy ruled out naming him after a NFL quarterback (John Elway Cooper, Steve DeBerg Cooper, Vinnie Testaverde Cooper, Jim McMahon Cooper, Joe Namath Cooper… and my personal favorite Babe Laufenberg Cooper).  We like the meaning of the name Oliver and his second name is after our friend Scott Williams but don’t tell him that, it will go to his head.

Wendy was moved to recovery and by 12:30 p.m., Mark was up to see Wendy for a minute which relieved him quite a bit and him and I were off to Toys R Us to do some shopping.  After checking out some baby stuff, Mark settled on a big stuffed moose that he named Bullwinkle.  He was inspired by the old people cartoons that are on Teletoon Retro.  Wendy hasn’t seen Oliver yet as she isn’t strong enough to walk and Oliver is in the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit which doesn’t have the room for Wendy in a bed.   According to the nurse, if Wendy was to have a seizure, the nurses there only know how to care for someone 5 pounds and less.  I hope she was kidding but I am afraid she wasn’t.

On the other hand, I was able to convince the nurses that I was the dad and was able to meet with Oliver for a bit and observe a nurse teach a resident how to do an exam and evaluation properly for a kid.

Oliver Scott Cooper

For some reason people keep asking me how much he weighs and he is 3 pounds, 9 ounces.  He is doing an okay job breathing on his own (six breaths out of seven are his own) so tomorrow he will be off the breathing tube.

Oliver Scott Cooper

We were able to meet each other briefly.  We chatted for a bit, he expressed some displeasure when he realized that he may be in his 20s before the Roughriders win another Grey Cup and he seemed confused over the Toronto Maple Leaf management situation but who isn’t.

Shortly afterwards Mark and I headed back up to Wendy’s room to show her the photos, a short video, and to remind her to rest.  She is doing better but her blood pressure is still dangerously high and she is beyond exhausted.  According to the doctors, despite the fact that things look really bad on her blood pressure monitor now, it should correct itself in the next couple of days.  Tomorrow she hopes to meet Oliver.  Mark is too young to go into the NICU so it will be a while until they meet so for now, I am under orders to take photos for both Mark and Wendy.  I case you want to see the rest of the photos, you can view a set over at Flickr.  Below is a short video I short for Wendy while I was kicking around the NICU.  Of course Oliver was active, moving around, declaring his support for Barack Obama but as soon as I turned on the camera… he became as active as an evangelical campaigning for John McCain.

My favorite ten NFL players of all time

Rick Bennett has a list of his ten favorite NFL players. I know such a list is subjective but he has it all wrong. How can one not cheer for the greatest backup of all time, Steve DeBerg? You can check out his list but I’ll post the correct list below of favorite players of all time.

10. Ottis “OJ” Anderson :: MVP of XXV and the cornerstone of perhaps the most boring Super Bowl winning offense ever. In 1989, Anderson become the top running back for Bill Parcells’ ball control offense and was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year. He scored a career high 14 rushing touchdowns, and rushed for 1,023 yards on 325 carries. He was also the top running back for the Giants the following year, when they won Super Bowl XXV, and was named Super Bowl MVP for his 102 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. As a testament to the Giants’ ball control strategy, their time of possession was double that of the Buffalo Bills, their opponents, in the first Super Bowl without a turnover.

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9. Steve DeBerg :: DeBerg passed for over 34,000 career yards, and ranks in the top 20 all-time for attempts, completions, and yards passing. DeBerg’s best years were with the Chiefs, during which he led the team to two playoff berths and had his best year in 1990 with a 101.2 quarterback rating, passing for 3,444 yards, 23 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions. Chronologically, most of his career was spent in a back-up role, and he never spent more than 64 games with any one team.

He also did really well at those stupid NFL QB Skills competitions that gave us NFL-oholics a quick fix during the spring.

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8. Don Majkowski :: 10th round pick starts his rookie year and later goes on to throw for 4,000+ yards proving that NFL talent evaluators don’t know a lot more than you or I.

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7. Rodney Peete :: 16 years in the league but I grew up watching Detroit cable and who else was I going to root for. Andre Ware, Scott Mitchell, Erik Kramer.

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6. Damon Allen :: He was 43 this year and still playing professional football. He is a grandfather. He has approximately 20,000 more passing yards than second-place Danny McManus. In addition, he stands fifteenth on the all time professional rushing list (third on the all time CFL list behind Mike Pringle and George Reed) and he stood only 464 yards behind his brother Marcus. Damon is widely considered the best football player to never play in the NFL

I have seen his play a couple of times live and the amazing thing is that he never looks that dangerous or that effective but 70,554 passing yards, a couple of championships, and a lot of wins. Apparently he is that good.

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5. Roger Craig :: He didn’t need a dance, he just high stepped into the end zone again and again. The funny thing is that when Tom Rathman and him were in San Francisco, the 49ers were known as a finesse team but the truth is that the 49ers could run over any team any time they needed to. Of course he would have rated higher but he decided to play for the Raiders.

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4. Bo Jackson :: The hit on the Boz on MNF just about sums it up. Oh yeah he ran a 40 in 4.12 seconds which is just sick.

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3. Warren Moon :: Five Grey Cup wins in Edmonton. Growing up in Calgary, we didn’t even cheer for the Stampeders, we cheered for the Warren Moon lead Eskimos. After he went south and played in Houston, I remember watching him lead his Oilers against the old Cleveland Browns while growing up. The Dawg Pound, Bernie Kosar, Jerry Glanville, and a stupid looking muff around his waist.

Moon held the record for most passing yardage in professional football until surpassed by Damon Allen, held the record for most passing touchdowns in professional football until surpassed by Brett Favre, and held the record for most pass completions in professional football until surpassed by Brett Favre. He still holds the record for most pass attempts in professional football history with 9,205

Warren Moon

2. Steve Atwater :: He was one of the most violent hitters I have ever seen. Many thought he should have been the MVP of Superbowl XXII. Here is his resume. Eight Pro Bowls, six All-Pro team selections (2 unanimous), two Vince Lombardi Trophies, 1301 tackles over a 10 year Bronco career, selection to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 1990s, a Denver Broncos Ring of Fame inductee with only 5 missed games over his Bronco career, Atwater’s reputation as a fierce hitter, his leadership role as Captain of the Broncos defense, as well as his contributions during Super Bowls XXIV, XXXII, and XXXIII.

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1. John Elway :: Unless you are a Cleveland Browns fan who is still bitter after Elway ruined your reason for breathing with The Drive, you recognize that Elway is the greatest QB ever. He also set the trend for bad QB’s in Baltimore before it was even cool. He refused to play for the Colts and got a trade to Denver after being drafted first overall.

Elway also holds the record for most game-winning or game-tying scoring drives in the fourth quarter, with 47. Elway holds the rather undesirable record for most times being sacked (516) and most career Super Bowl interceptions, with eight picks in the five title games he played. He also ended his career with 148 victories, good for second place behind Brett Favre for most wins by a starting quarterback. He finished his career with 774 rushing attempts, one shy of NFL record-holder Randall Cunningham (775) for rushes by a quarterback. Elway’s 3,417 rushing yards ranks sixth all-time among NFL QB’s behind Cunningham, Steve Young, Michael Vick, Fran Tarkenton, and Steve McNair.

Elway threw for 1,128 yards in his five Super Bowls, second only to Joe Montana’s record of 1,142 yards. His 76 Super Bowl pass completions rank him third behind Montana and Jim Kelly.

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Feel free to correct me on any of these players (Steve DeBerg?!) and add your own below.

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Joe Torre

I am not a Yankees fan, nor a Yankees hater, partly because I appreciate what Joe Torre has done but I am saddened that he may be fired and has to go through this each and every year under The Boss. I don’t know what a manager can do when your bats go silent in the playoffs or when your pitchers get hurt or are terrible.

I appreciate the job that Bill Bellichick does in New England but how good would he be without Tom Brady or without an offensive line that can protect Brady for 90 or so seconds. Mike Shanahan was “The Genius” when he had John Elway and Terrell Davis and yet look at him last weekend versus San Diego.

The end of a mediocre season

Just a note of thanks to Jake Plummer who managed to regress horribly this year and cost my beloved Denver Broncos some key games. Yes the defence had a lot of injuries but when you give the ball away like Jake Plummer did over and over and over again, you aren’t going to win a lot games.

The search for John Elway’s replacement continues.

Update: Then again, the murder of Broncos QB Darrent Williams puts it all in perspective.

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Tennessee Titans ban McNair?

This makes no sense until you start to look a little deeper at the last couple of years

Cook said the quarterback was told the Titans were worried about a potential injury, but said the general counsel told the agent they don’t want McNair working out on team property until his contract is reworked.

The Titans did not immediately comment. General manager Floyd Reese and coach Jeff Fisher were in Los Angeles following a private workout of Southern California quarterback Matt Leinart.

Cook did not immediately return telephone messages left by The Associated Press. But he said the night of April 3 that he’s not sure McNair would want to go back now that he’s been thrown out.

“A month ago, they say he needs to be there to get familiar with the young guys, and now they tell him to get out? I have never seen anything like that in my life,” Cook told The Tennessean newspaper.

“They can sugarcoat it any way they want to, but when you throw your starting quarterback off the property, an MVP, Pro Bowl guy who led them to the Super Bowl and one of the greatest players in the history of the team … ”

McNair is the franchise’s winningest quarterback with a record of 81-59. He started 15 games in 2005 and passed for 3,161 yards.

McNair, who turned 33 in February, is one of only five NFL players to throw for 25,000 yards and run for 3,000, along with John Elway, Fran Tarkenton, Steve Young and Randall Cunningham. He has 27,141 yards passing.

Let’s face it, McNair is an aging and injury prone quarterback who isn’t worth that salary. His skills are fading and familiar critiques of his practice and study habits are being raised. Volek is capable enough to hold down the fort down until Matt Leinart, Jay Cutler or Vince Young is ready to play. McNair’s recent comments that he didn’t want to baby-sit an incoming rookie was a sign that this wasn’t going to be an easy transition for McNair and the team.

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