MORT'S MAILBAG: Sept. 25
Q: With the Vikings being 0-2, do you think the NFC Central will come down to the Packers and Bucs? If so, who do you like? -- Joe, New York
MORT: Joe, I do think the Bucs' offense will have to expand by midseason, or the Packers will win the NFC Central.
Q: What are the chances of Baltimore trading for Emmitt Smith? Let's face it, the Cowboys stink; they will be lucky to go 0-16 and not be shipped to the XFL. Believe it or not, I'm a Dallas fan, but this could allow Emmitt to go out a champion. -- John Pilz, West Plains, Mo.
|Emmitt Smith to the Ravens? Not likely given salary-cap constraints, says Mort.|
MORT: John, I like your idea. Unfortunately, this is a league that has a salary-cap system that makes it virtually impossible for such a trade to happen. Emmitt has been pretty vocal this week about wanting to stick with Anthony Wright as QB because it gives the Cowboys the best chance to win, and Emmitt the best chance to get some running room. But I think he's going to have to go for the record in a Dallas uniform. Really, that's not a bad thing, is it? You would prefer to see Emmitt do it as a Cowboy, right? Oh, the XFL no longer exists. Then again, the Cowboys as we knew them no longer exist.
Q: What will the Ravens do at running back? They are not a threatening offense without a running back who can break a tackle or two each game. -- Matt Leavey, Owings Mills, Md.
MORT: Matt, I don't know that there's a whole lot the Ravens can do. They felt Terry Allen ran well and hard vs. the Bengals, but they had some O-line injuries on the right side of the line that didn't help. I think it's very important that the Baltimore receivers step up -- as well as Elvis Grbac -- and make plays. If it isn't heading that way in the next couple of weeks, I think Ozzie Newsome and Brian Billick may have to rethink how aggressive they want to be in pursuing a trade for a running back.
Q: I read this postgame comment by a Kansas City player after the loss to the Giants: "They deserved that applause," fullback Tony Richardson said. "It [the terrorist attack] was in their backyard. They actually saw it. They've been down to the site. Some of these people were their neighbors, their friends." My question: Could you nominate Tony (and all the Chiefs and their fans) for some special award? THIS IS A CLASS PLAYER, TEAM and CITY. I am a Packers fan, but I was deeply moved by what I saw and read about the Chiefs this week. Please don't let this story fall through the cracks -- it's what sportsmanship is all about. -- Rich Kozinski, New Berlin, Wis.
MORT: Rich, I agree with you -- the Chiefs and their fans showed great class against the Giants. I have seen the best of this league -- especially from the players -- in the past week or so, just as we are seeing the best of our nation during this tragedy.
Q: Look at the game film of Bears vs. Vikings. You will see Randy Moss NOT blocking on running plays. That makes him half a player at most. Also, although Cris Carter was shown on the sidelines being very vocal, his message is exactly correct: The Vikings offensive coordinator was calling the wrong types of plays for the defenses the Bears were playing -- and when a rookie makes stupid personal-foul penalties, he deserves to be berated. -- Michael Holman, Northbrook, Ill.
MORT: Michael, thanks for pointing those things out. Obviously, there was some imploding on the Vikings' sideline. It will take Dennis Green's best work to get this team back on track.
Q: Why don't the major sports stations and broadcasters give the Colts their due? I mean, they have scored almost 90 points in two games. Their defense has improved greatly over the last of couple years. They have one of the toughest schedules, if not the toughest in the NFL. They are like Rodney Dangerfield ... no respect! -- Shields Cortner, Chattanooga, Tenn.
MORT: Shields, I think people rode the Colts bandwagon the past two years and got off when they lost in the playoffs. I obviously like them a lot. I have always thought that Peyton Manning's drive for greatness would catapult the offense to a higher plane. However, even though the Colts' defense is improved, it still has to get better.
Q: I care for your opinion about football matters, not religion.
Please do not use this area to quote Bible verses for us readers.
I read this Web page for information about football, not religion.
No matter how bad the tragedy, I still see no need for you to use religious quotes on a page about football. I would love to hear your response. -- Esfandiyar Alaee, Cupertino, Calif.
MORT: Esfandiyar, I understand your feelings. I know why people come to the Web site -- football. I just felt that this was a very unique time that crossed all boundaries. No offense was meant. But what is so offensive about the Bible? Personally, I don't tie it to religion. I tie it to my faith, and was just trying to share that on a very limited scale during a different and difficult period. May God bless you.
Q: What are M&M (Matt & Marty) doing up in MoTown? The 2000 Lions were a 9-7 team that was one game shy of the playoffs and did not lose any significant players from last year. Was a total overhaul really needed? Why did M&M scrap everything about this team's identity, just to mold them into an a typical West Coast offense? Surely, M&M could've adapted to some of the team's strengths and character ... puzzled in Pontiac. -- Flint-n-CO, Aurora, Colo.
MORT: This is the problem when organizations change directions. I do think Matt Millen has seen the success of all the coaches who have had some experience with the so-called "West Coast" system. But it isn't all about the offense. It is about a real commitment to excellence, to detail, to work ethic, practice habits, all that. Now, can Marty Mornhinweg pull this off? That's the question, but it's fairly apparent he hasn't sold his guys. I might also wonder about the character of this team -- remember, Bobby Ross struggled with some of these players and he was an outstanding coach, not to mention an outstanding man.
Q: THANK YOU! Finally, Cincinnati gets some deserved credit for the DEFENSE! Takeo Spikes and Brian Simmons are Pro Bowlers, and it is refreshing to see the wins! My beloved Bengals will be in the playoffs this year. The attitude is completely different -- and it all starts with the great coaching philosophy of Dick LeBeau! Going down to the stadium this year just feels eerie. It's like 1988 all over again. I'm not daring to say they are as high-powered as the offense then, but there is hope. How far do you see this team going? -- Adam Osterbrock, Cincinnati, Ohio
MORT: Adam, here, here! You know, I do hope the Bengals have a great year because they have a lot of loyal, long-suffering fans like yourself. LeBeau is a class guy and a good coach. I don't know how far the Bengals will take it. I mean, we've seen some weird things happen in the NFL in recent years. But I would be surprised if they made it to the playoffs this year because the AFC is highly competitive. I'm guessing 8-8 is the best-case scenario, but that sure would be a step in the right direction. Several steps, in fact.
Q: I'm in a fantasy football league. I've been offered Terrell Davis for my James Jackson. I have Ahman Green and Stephen Davis (Davis doesn't do anything for me). I really like Jackson, so do you think Terrell will make a quick recovery and finish my season up with a bang? -- Adam Johnson, Raleigh, N.C.
|Broncos RB Terrell Davis is out again with an injury.|
MORT: Adam, I try to avoid fantasy stuff. However, on the issue of Terrell Davis, I will be surprised if he ever regains the starting job in Denver. I think his health issues are considerable enough that Mike Shanahan will move on with Mike Anderson and Olandis Gary.
Q: Has the NFL considered moving the Super Bowl back two weeks to keep the playoff format intact? This would simply schedule in the bye week between the championship games and the Super Bowl that fans, players and media types are accustom to. -- Aaron Cullen, Platteville, Wis.
MORT: Aaron, I think it was briefly considered. The problem is, the Winter Olympics starts that weekend, not to mention the Mardi Gras in New Orleans!
Q: I have followed football for the past 11 years, and the only Super Bowl in a northern state was the Bills vs. Redskins in a dome in Minnesota. Why does the NFL only use cities like Miami, Tampa, New Orleans and Los Angeles for the Super Bowl? Is there anything wrong with other major American cities? -- Guilherme, São Paulo, Brazil
MORT: Guilherme, the NFL strongly prefers warm-weather sites because it is a major corporate event, but they also have played the game in Atlanta, Detroit and Phoenix. Warm weather or dome sites give the game the best possible chance to be well-played in a comfortable setting for fans. The Minnesota game you refer to was a great experience. The one earlier in Detroit wasn't that great, but the NFL is going back to Detroit to fulfill a promise for building a new stadium. Other future dates include Houston and Jacksonville. Me, I prefer the warm weather (it's pretty nice in Brazil that time of the year, isn't it?).
Q: I read your column re: 'Go to a Game' and subsequently had a chance to attend the Pats' home opener. I thought I'd share my experience. I expected the "Star Spangled Banner" to be the most emotional spot, but instead was overwhelmed by two other moments: the flag raised to full staff and the moment of silence. I've endured moments of silence before, but never in the midst of a pregame crowd of 60,000. For the first time, I witnessed the oft-used phrase: the silence was deafening. Wow. On a disappointing note, there were lots of skirmishes, many a result of Jets' fans in hostile territory and some others related to girlfriends. I ask, what circumstances are necessary for the greater public to truly love thy fellow neighbor? Much easier said than done... -- Sean Leone, Holliston, Mass.
MORT: Sean, I have no reason to doubt you. If it's true that there were hostilities in the stands, then shame on everyone who participated. Thanks for sharing this story.