NFL power poll
Giddy-up, we're nine days (Nine times — "GRACE!") from the NFL draft.
I love the draft. You know this.
So it's only natural that this week's power poll ranges into our favorite offseason event of them all.
(Side question: I think the NFL draft is in the top-five singular sports events. And yeah, that's not a question, so there's that.)
OK, with the urgency a fence builder looking to cap the week, let's find the next pole.
This week, with the draft looming and mock drafts everywhere and the misinformation flowing like the wine in Boulder — copyright Lloyd Christmas — let's review my five best guesses.
> Kyle Pitts and Ja'Marr Chase are going to be super dudes right out of the gate, especially if they end up in Atlanta and Cincinnati respectively. That would mean Pitts would be a single-coverage nightmare with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley on the perimeter and Chase would get reunited with Joey B with the Bengals. How confident am I on this one?
> As for QBs, count me among the believers in Justin Fields. For real talent and a skill set that fits the schemes football is trending toward. But count me out on the Trey Lance chatter. Hey, dude may become as good as Josh Allen, another guy who I had my doubts about but who is finding NFL success.
> Everyone knows I hope that a) the Falcons do not find a way to Falcon next week, and b) hope the Falcons take a true generational player like Pitts at 4, but if there is another option, Atlanta could do way, Way, WAY worse than dealing back to 9 or 10 to a team that wants a QB if they can still get Patrick Surtain II. Because as many great Des that FV's Tigers have sent from Red Stick to the league, the Crimson river of corners and safeties is pretty dang impressive too. Surtain is the next great one.
> Whichever team picks Najee Harris, be it late in round 1 or early in round 2 or whenever will be tickled. And add his name to the list with Pitts and Chase as rookies I will target in my fantasy leagues next year. Studs. All three of them.
> And finally, we all know the love of the five QBs — most mocks have Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, Fields and Lance — going in the top 15, and most have them in that order. Depending on the number of teams that believe they need quarterback help, some team will trade into the back end of round 1 for a Kellen Mond or a Davis Mills from Stanford. It simply makes too much sense not to, even if you spend some future draft capital for a player that likely would be on the board in round 2. Why, you may ask? Well, the extra pick or picks — later in the draft this year or next — are worth the roll of the dice. Because if a rookie becomes your guy, and that rookie was picked in round one rather than round two or three, the current contract structure means the team has control of the fifth year of any first-round pick's contract. Ergo, if the Pats go defense at 15, and trade a second in '21 and a third in '22 to the Bucs for pick 32 and Mond becomes the guy, the Pats have him for years with a team-option for five. If the Pats wait and he's there at 46, he becomes a free agent a year sooner. And if you think that one year is meaningless, ask the Cowboys and the Dak Prescott ordeal or ask the Seahawks if they would have liked to have one more cap-friendly year of Russell Wilson in their championship window last decade.
Go away jersey
I thought this was an interesting storyline last week from the WNBA.
OK, the WNBA has become quite active in social causes, up to and including orchestrating a coup among the Atlanta Dream ownership situation.
Good for them.
Then comes this story about the league using jerseys to honor women through history. It's three difference and new jerseys for each of the 12 franchises and has been branded by the league and Nike under the name "H.E.R." for Heroine Edition, Explorer Edition and Rebel Edition.
The Dallas Wings version of the Rebel Edition jersey that was designed to honor the P-40 Warhawk plane and Women Airforce Service Pilots corps from World War II has been pulled from the shelf. (Side note: And yes, when I first heard this story, I also thought the name 'Rebel' was going to be the reason.)
Name aside, the jerseys were pulled because the WASP corps did not allow Black women to join.
OK, let's back-up. My opinion on WNBA uniforms is hollow. I have watched maybe five minutes total in the league's 25 years
First, when uniforms are anything other than uniform and become billboards for social causes, well, that's going to open a lot of unneeded questions, in my opinion. Two, partnering with Nike on any special project to advance human rights and social awareness is dubious at best considering the Swoosh history of sweatshops and exploitation overseas. Finally, who was in charge of the research on this project and where will they be working next?
But reading more about the WASP corps, it was quite interesting and a story worth telling, and in my mind a cause worthy of celebrating, especially for the WNBA.
In WWII, we were short pilots back home because anyone who knew a wing from a swing was shooting down Adolf's airmen. Enter the WASP, with more than 1,100 volunteers who studied and worked and learned how to fly planes that would test fly planes and ferry new aircraft where they were needed.
The WASP did this — imagine learning how to fly on the fly in a time of war — for two reasons. First was the great patriotism of the Greatest Generation, and second the WASP were promised to become part of the military flying operations.
Well as the war turned, the government cancelled the program, a move that was sadly not uncommon in that time as women were certainly treated far too often unfairly.
I get it, racism is bad. Our standards in the 1940s — remember at this time the MLB was all-white too — were broken and should be examined. And I understand the perception.
But, doing a little more research, the WASP program originally wanted to be inclusive and originally had a Black applicant, who, according to reports on the program, withdrew because she felt her presence hurt the cause in an already tense situation because of obvious gender bias in the 1940s military.
Again, racism is terrible. Boo, racism. But for a league like the WNBA, which has fought gender bias and sexist viewpoints for most if not all of its 25 years, that seems like a story worth honoring, warts and all.
(Side note: Sorry, for the long tangent that was out of left field, but I thought was quite interesting reading over the weekend. OK, back to sports. How 'bout those Bears. Side note on the side note: How great is that scene with John Candy and Steve Martin, the "Those aren't pillows" scene, in 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' gang?)
Gonzaga loaded again
OK, that got a little wordy. Sorry.
Let's reset and get back to BID-ness, as in Gonzaga assuredly will be back among the college hoops elite next season.
The Zags landed the No. 1 high school basketball recruit in the country and considering that the other five-star in this recruiting cycle who has signed with Gonzaga was its previously highest-ranked prospect, well, this is certainly a bumper crop.
It's surprising, at least mildly, because for the extended success of Mark Few's crew out west, the No. 1 overall hoops recruits almost always go one of two directions.
Either pick a blue-blood with a blue uni like a Duke, UK or UNC or go the professional route with a side-stop for eight months overseas or in the G-League. So, yeah, mildly surprising.
But now for the real shocker, the No. 1 recruit in the country is named Chet. Seriously, it's Chet Holmgren, no relation to Mike.
So, welcome aboard Chet.
(Side question: Is there even a Rushmore of Chets? Chet Lemon of course and now Chet Holmgren. Chet mate? Pay the Chet? Bump-Chet-Spike? Thoughts?)
This and that
— Good golfers gone bad. Meet Connor Murphy, who would absolutely crush you, me and almost anyone you know on a golf course. Dude is good enough to be bouncing around pro tours and entering tournaments to qualify for Korn Ferry tournaments, which normally requires a handicap somewhere in the 2 range unless you're as famous as Steph Curry. Anywell, Connor was in a Monday qualifier yesterday and took an 11 on his first hole and a 12 on his last on his way to an eye-popping, pencil-draining, soul-crushing 108. And no, Spy, he did not make the cut.
— Quite frankly, it sounds like Pat Sajak's best days are behind him. The long-time Wheel of Fortune host actually revealed the answer to one of the puzzles, which was a phrase and had the letters "_ _ _ te _r_n_l_" when he said, "Yikes. Well, I'd rather be standing here than there, quite frankly." And of course the phrase was "Quite Frankly" but none of the players got the hint. Wow, December will be 40 years of Sajak hosting Wheel. Forty years, which of course led me to look up Sajak's net worth. It's north of $70 million, which of course will buy a lot of vowels.
— You know the rules. Here's Weeds on Tony Ingle, a basketball gift from North Georgia from COVID and was celebrated Monday. You can't be in sports in the state of Georgia over the last quarter century and not have a Tony Ingle story. Weeds is right. Coach was a great guy.
— You know the rules. Here's Paschall's prose on the local kid at Georgia and how he may cook in Kirby's kitchen.
— So Louis Vuitton is partnering with the NBA on a new line of male handbags. Seriously. "Hey LeBron, nice purse."
— So it looks as if the already crowded UT QB room is adding Michigan transfer Joe Milton, according to ESPN. Hmmmmmmm.
— Rest easy Walter Mondale. Thanks for your service.
True or false, it's Tuesday. (Enjoy the day Ernie.)
True or false, 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' is wicked underrated. True or false it's John Candy's best work.
(Side question: Rank the three, in order, of the great and heavy physical comedians of Candy, Belushi and Farley, each of whom that died far too soon.)
True or false, I like the draft just a wee bit too much. (My answer is false of course, but looking for input. My therapist thinks it's good for me.)
True or false, Joe Milton is the Vols QB1 in Josh Heupel's UT debut.
As for today, well, happy 4/20 everyone, and I hope you have some high-lights.
Columbine happened on this day 22 years ago. Wow.
Annie Hall was released on this day in 1977.
Napoleon and Hitler were both born on this day.
In honor of 4/20, Rushmore of Pot and be creative.