Edited by Larry Harris
In three weeks they'll be putting on the pads for real and filling up the water coolers, so it's a good time to clear some items from the overflowing NFL notebook:
Great Expectations: Watch out this season for former Maryland Terrapin Vernon Davis. So says Mike Martz, San Francisco's new offensive coordinator who knows a thing or two about the passing game from his days as director of the St. Louis Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf."
"I don't know if anyone in the league can run like he can at that position," Martz said of the third-year tight end. "He gets down the field so fast. I don't know who beats him in a foot race. Instead of breaking down and head-faking and doing all these things, we're going to use his speed. And I think he understands that really well at this point."
But who's going to get the ball to him, Mike?
Losing Customers: The New York Giants' waiting list for season tickets got considerably slimmer last week when John Mara announced the dreaded Personal Seat License will go into effect at the team's new 82,500-seat stadium in 2010. Those who can still afford it will be required to pay a one-time fee of from $1,000 to $20,000 for the privilege of buying tickets.
"Given construction costs and NFL and lender requirements for paying down our debt, and after much thought and analysis, we decided this PSL program is necessary," Mara said.
A New York Daily News reader said it differently: "It's called keeping up with the [Jerry] Joneses."
Fresh Perspective: The retiring Michael Strahan, who will join the Fox TV crew this fall, says a recent trip to strife-torn Africa turned out to be the "most eye-opening experience of my life."
"When you're over there, you realize we live a very blessed life here," he said. "We're really spoiled, especially when you're in New York and you believe that you're the center of the universe. You forget that there's billions of people who couldn't care less about who you are."
Flood Coming: As the magical date draws closer, there will be a glut of books hitting the market about the 1958 Baltimore Colts' championship victory that gave birth to the modern NFL. One slated for November release that will be of interest is titled "The Glory Game," and N.Y. Giants legend Frank Gifford is doing the authoring along with Peter Richmond.
Rank Dispute: A list of all-time best quarterbacks by veteran scribe Dave Anderson that recently ran in these columns has raised the hackles of reader Bob "Watermelon" Smith, who maintains that Joe Namath simply doesn't belong there. He also says no chart should be without '50s greats Bobby Layne and Bob Waterfield. And what about Norm Van Brocklin, Bob?
Preach To The Choir: Thanks, commissioner Roger Goodell, for letting everyone know that rookie contracts have become "ridiculous." Now tell it to your employers, the owners, who allowed it to get that way.
Former WMAR sports director Scott Garceau threw out the first pitch at Monday night's Orioles game.
GOING, BUT NOT GOING AWAY
By now, everyone knows that longtime Channel 2 (WMAR-TV) sports director and nightly sportscaster, Scott Garceau is vacating his post on the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts. Yes, after more than two decades, Garceau will have his evenings off. But even though he is leaving the nights to someone else, he is not retiring to a far-off beach house or for that matter, the unemployment line.
Reports have it that Garceauwill be doing "special projects" like Loyola Blakefield-Calvert Hall Thanksgiving Day football, lacrosse and Orioles Opening Day festivities. In other words, he has semi-retired from Channel 2, and some might think he was moved out for someone younger than his 56 years.
It seems the majority of people watching local news are women 18-49 who want lots of news and even more weather, not sports. Sports news is now gotten from ESPN, NFL Network, Comcast, MASN and any other 24-hour sports news station on the dial.
According to broadcast news Web site, www.dcrtv.com, Garceau may wind up with Comcast SportsNet , MASN or possibly sports talk radio. Wherever he goes, those who have marveled at his easy manner and professionalism will surely find him.
Like the last dean of Baltimore TV sports, Vince Bagli, used to say, "It's been a pleasure."
Cole White, Chris Simmons and Drew Clothier, recent West Point graduates taken in the Major League Baseball amateur draft, last week began their minor league careers in the New York-Penn League. Also, Adam Fullerton, former Army All-America goalie, was making his debut in the Major League Lacrosse League.
Just about the same time, Jonathan Johnston, a Naval Academy grad who had been playing in the Midwest League, got news that his alternative service policy furlough had been rescinded, and he was to report as a gunnery officer aboard an assault ship in the Persian Gulf.
Obviously, what's good for the Army isn't good for the Navy. Whatever the policy, what a pity it cannot be the same for both.
Kurt Busch triumphed in the most disappointing NASCAR race of the season last Sunday at New Hampshire when a lucky pit stop and a thunderstorm thrust him and his Dodge unexpectedly into the winner's circle. Tony Stewart, foiled once again in a superior car, could only curse the fates and utter a Dodger-esque, "Wait 'til next week."
The most intriguing news coming out of the race was that Busch's little brother, points leader Kyle Busch, made yet another enemy, this one a guy who won't hesitate to put him into the wall. Juan Pablo Montoya admitted he deliberately wrecked "Wild Thing" after the two banged fenders for a while late in the race, setting up what could be some spectacular post-Fourth of July fireworks Saturday night in the 400-miler at Daytona.
Crystal Palace USA, Baltimore's entry in the United Soccer League Second Division, scheduled a surprising Round 3 game of the U.S. Open Cup tournament last Tuesday night against the New York Red Bulls at Broadneck High School. Crystal Palace wasn't expected to win against a superior opponent from a superior league, but club officials felt it was to be a good measure of the team's progress.
Crystal Palace won its divisional intrastate game last Sunday, getting goals from Cecil Lewis and Sergio Flores to defeat Real Maryland in Germantown, 2-1. That victory gave the team a solid grip on third place (22 points) in league play behind Charlotte (28) and Cleveland (23). The Crystal Palace's next league game is at Cleveland July 12.
FROM THE CHEAP SEATS
• It hasn't sunk in yet, but the double world swim records posted by Michael Phelps and Katie Hoff on the same night should in time be on the same level in Baltimore sports lore as the '58 Game, the '66 Series, the Wes Unseld-Earl Monroe Bullets and Cal Ripken Jr.'s Ironman … and there is more to come in Omaha, Neb., and China from the fish who walk like humans.
• The NBA draft, which points the way for athletes' fashion, featured some lapels last week that were well-tailored for the long, lean gentlemen at the podium. That leaves the NFL's assorted ex-players and announcers to pose as stuffed kielbasas with their hideous pinstripe suits that button all the way to the knot in the necktie.
• Do not feel bad about cheering Aubrey Huff, Orioles fans. They do the same in Dallas for Terrell Owens, who once famously danced on the Cowboys' midfield star after scoring for the 49ers.
• Big Dwight Howard has a stress fracture of the sternum, but U.S. Olympic basketball sages say he will be ready to play by August. Surely none of those European bullies would be so nasty as to hit him in the chest, would they?
Issue 3.27: July 3, 2008