- Ashley Fox
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Seventeen days until Andrew Luck becomes an Indianapolis Colt. Given this insane offseason, what else could happen between now and then?
There is an extremely uncomfortable underbelly to the Gregg Williams story. It is the involvement of Steve Gleason.
The sole reason filmmaker Sean Pamphilon was in the room the night before New Orleans played San Francisco in the playoffs and Williams gave his final unsavory speech as the Saints' defensive coordinator was because New Orleans allowed Gleason to invite him. In 2011, Gleason was diagnosed with ALS, and the Saints have bent over backward to accommodate their former special teams ace as he gracefully handles a brutally unfair reality. He has a terminal disease. It is sad beyond words.
Gleason and Pamphilon were working on what the pair hoped would become a compelling documentary about Gleason's life and death with ALS. Gleason didn't want Pamphilon to release the tape of Williams' speech. According to Gleason, he and Pamphilon have an agreement that all recordings ultimately belong to Gleason. Pamphilon said that he and Gleason sought the counsel of a third party, who said Pamphilon should release the tape, so he did.
There is a strong argument to be made for releasing the tape. It gives a voice to the bounty story, and is clear evidence for why NFL commissioner Roger Goodell indefinitely suspended Williams from the league. On the audio tape, Williams is instructing his players to intentionally try to take out an opponent's ACL and to target a player with a concussion history. Williams went beyond the normal rah-rah speech the night before a big game.
But there also is a strong argument for keeping the tape private, and that is out of respect for Gleason. In a statement after the tape's release last week, Gleason said he felt "deflated" and "disappointed" and "distracted." Given the limited amount of time he has to spend with his wife, Michel, and their baby son, Rivers, any moment he feels distracted or deflated by an issue not of his making is more than unfortunate.
The Eagles have one more big, internal headache to remedy. His name is Asante Samuel.
Samuel spent part of his Easter Sunday morning on Twitter, sending a pro-Samuel blog post out to several Philadelphia beat writers. The gist of the post was that while Samuel has made his living jumping routes to pick off quarterbacks, he rarely, if ever, gets beat on a play when he leaves his man. It seems Samuel wanted those in the Philly media to see that he is "still a great CB."
On his Twitter profile, Samuel touts himself as a future Hall of Famer, which certainly at this point, after nine seasons, remains debatable. But there is no doubt that Samuel is one of the best judges of where a quarterback intends to go with the football. He watches the quarterback's eyes and probably has the best instincts in the game. He has 52 interceptions and nine touchdowns in his career.
Samuel also has become a colossal headache for the Eagles, who have spent this offseason taking care of in-house issues. They finally extended DeSean Jackson's contract, wisely re-signed valuable veterans Todd Herremans and Trent Cole, and addressed their huge need at middle linebacker by essentially stealing DeMeco Ryans from Houston.
Samuel is a terrific player, but Philadelphia has two other good cornerbacks in Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Samuel wasn't happy about the Eagles' acquisition of Rodgers-Cromartie last season, and when trade rumors persisted last year, he said that the front office was playing fantasy football with owner Jeffrey Lurie's money.
After a disastrous 2011 season, the Eagles are going to be all about limiting distractions and building team unity in 2012. They can't do that with an unhappy Samuel.
Wonderlic scores should not be made public without a player's permission. We in the media are in the business of reporting information, but it was nauseating that, as the draft drew closer, word leaked out last week via Pro Football Talk that prized LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne scored a four on his Wonderlic test.
Claiborne reportedly has a learning disability, which might help explain why he scored so low on the 12-minute, 50-question multiple-choice test.
Goodell sent out a memo last week threatening to discipline any team that leaks information regarding a player's performance on the Wonderlic, and he was right to do it. What probably happened in Claiborne's case was that a team within striking distance of obtaining Claiborne in the draft leaked the news in an attempt to dissuade other teams higher in the draft from taking him. Claiborne is going to be one of the top players taken, even with the news of his low Wonderlic. Causing him the embarrassment of posting one of the lowest possible scores on an aptitude test was unnecessary.
Were the Jets paying attention on Sunday? Want an idea of the power of Tim Tebow? Check out the estimated crowd of 15,000 worshippers who flocked to a Texas church Sunday morning to hear Tebow speak during an Easter service. Many in attendance wore green Jets jerseys with Tebow's name on the back.
That's 15,000 people to hear an NFL quarterback speak. "In Christianity, it's the Pope and Tebow right now," Celebration Church pastor Joe Champion told The Associated Press. "We didn't have enough room to handle the Pope."
The Pope and Tebow in the same sentence? Mark Sanchez doesn't have a chance.
The Jets' quarterback situation would make for a great season of HBO's "Hard Knocks." It would be a dream for the award-winning show and a nightmare for the Jets -- which means it probably will happen.
Some teams, like New England and Philadelphia, simply won't grant inside access to a film crew and be the subject of such a revealing show. The Jets already have done it once, in 2010, and with their acquisition of Tebow certainly would seem to be the front-runner to do the show again.
It would be awesome to see it, but the Jets don't need the distraction. They've got enough issues already trying to repair a fractured locker room. Managing the Sanchez-Tebow situation is going to be tricky enough. Having it play out on TV wouldn't help.
Everybody loves Bubba. How moving was it to see Bubba Watson's pure emotions immediately after winning the Masters on Sunday night? He sobbed while hugging his mother. He cried in Butler Cabin. He was so happy, so moved, so in love with his newborn son. Watson said he never allowed himself to dream about winning the Masters. He was real, and raw.
Plenty of NFL players tweeted their congratulations to Watson, including Tebow, Drew Brees, Matt Schaub, Michael Vick and Takeo Spikes. It was cool to see Watson get so much support from athletes other than golfers.
3hBy Tom Friend
11hBy Jackie MacMullan