Suck it up
By Ralph Wiley
Page 2 columnist

"Never go on the DL."

-- R-Dub's NFL Proverb No. 211

This one's adapted from big-league baseball. Old heads there who normally had nothing but jokes pulled me aside and said in all seriousness, "Rule up here is, don't ever go on the DL -- may not get your job back if you do. You ain't the last one they'll try out."

Kurt Warner
Kurt Warner thinks his pinky shouldn't be pointing south if his other fingers are pointing east.
In the NFL, you could say "Don't go on IR," but that's way too obvious. Going on IR means you're out for the year, if not for the rest of your natural life. In baseball, you can be on the disabled list 14 days, 21 days ... the NFL equivalent is the injury list -- probable, questionable, recent amputee -- so I guess it would be "Never go on the IL." But everybody's on the IL after a month of the NFL season. To quote an NFL sage: "If I ain't hurt, I didn't play."

The DL (or IL) in football is Never-Never Land, where even the likes of C. Woodson and Kurt Warner can visit. Has anybody ever gone from sugar to Tap City quick as Captain Kurt? All the time. Usually, they get a memorial service. The brass says something profound like, "Shovel that crap off the field," and move on. Even Ray Charles can see Trent Green throws a better ball. NFL people have short memories. If they can be said to have memories at all.

Now, our peek inside headgears and headphones, Week 4 NFL Uncensored Thought Balloons. On the DL (down low) of course.

***** ***** *****

Dave Campo
Dave Campo has kicker Bill Cundiff to thank for being 2-2.
Dave Campo, head coach, Dallas Cowboys -- "Make that kick, you %#&?@*! ... Yess! OK, Dave, calm down. There's cameras rolling. Don't pick your nose. Don't scratch. Give game balls to Bob Hayes' family and our fine young kicker, uh, whatshisface."

Mike Martz, head coach, St. Louis Rams -- "I feel violated, doctor. By who? Everybody. Especially that thing with the funny perm."

Zach Thomas, LB, Miami Dolphins -- "How is it that I end up iso'ed down the seam on Tony Gonzalez? What is this, Oz? Don't screw me over like that, Wannie. At least kiss me first, OK?"

Dick Vermeil, head coach, Kansas City Chiefs -- "Wow. Train wreck in St. Loo ... Trent's better than Warner ... I'd never say it. But he is. He always was. That's why Trent was starting in the first place. Priest Holmes, Wilbert Montgomery, what's the dif? Priest is now. How do we spring him? I ... I don't know. Al can tell me. Hope nobody notices Al Saunders calls the best offensive mix in the league, and is a fine man. Not a whiner. Not a blame-shifter. Don't leave me, Al Saunders. Sure, I left, but that was different."

Bill Schroeder
Bill Schroeder gets reacquainted with the football.
Bill Schroeder, WR, Detroit Lions -- "Come up, DB, step in the bucket, that's it ... now ... floor it! ... Jesus. I just stepped on the gas and ... nothing. I used to be fast ... still got a step ... TD ... feels so good to score! Feels like ... victory. Ford Field Plunge ... ahhhhh!"

Grady Jackson, DT, New Orleans Saints -- "Harrin'ton boy ain't like a rookie ... good feet ... what I just say? Good eats? Umm, po' boys. Shrimp & oyster. Um. Man. What game? Game over. Ain't no use dying over one game. There'll be another one next week."

Phillip Buchanon, DB, Oakland Raiders -- "Replace Wood? No problem. Account for TDs the first three times I touch it? Cake. NFL? Like stealing. It a 'Cane thing, you wouldn't understand."

Craig Hentrich, P, Tennessee Titans -- "Oh, no, here they come. Convoy of five in front of Buchanon ... we didn't scout this frickin' guy? ... kicked it right to him ... That's a block in the back! That's two in the back! Unhhh! Oww! That's gonna make me limp. Three-and-out? Punt team again? OK, Craig, go opposite side from him. Reverse? Oh no here they come a-g**d***-gain!"

Keyshawn Johnson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- "So, what are you saying to me, Chuckles? You're saying what? I'm not a burner? So then you leave me out of short-yardage formation? Let me tell you about them burners, Chuck. Them burners will get you fired ..."

Corey Dillon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals -- "Maybe they'll trade me. I wish they'd trade me. They'd better trade me. Can I force them to trade me? What beautiful words, Trade. Me. Please trade me."

Butch Davis, head coach, Cleveland Browns -- "And to think, I gave up Miami and cruising South Beach acting like I was looking for players breaking curfew, all for this. Oh yeah, I'm so smart."

Tommy Maddox
It was just like his glory day in the XFL for Tommy Maddox.
Tommy Maddox, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers -- "Free from Dan, free from Dan, thank God almighty ... just got drafted six, seven years too early, that's all ... funny, Kordell's not half as intimidating to me as John Elway in his prime when I was a rook. Coach Reeves drafted me to take the God's job. This? This is a walk in the park."

Herm Edwards, head coach, New York Jets -- "Am I losing their respect? Are we that bad? Will I ever sleep again? Will anybody see me kick this mutt over that highway divider? It's up ... good!"

Jimmy Smith, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars -- "Why Herm kick that dog? That's a Coughlin move. I see dead people. I see Herm."

John Fox, head coach, Carolina Panthers -- "Stand up, John. Can't stand up. Belly won't let me. One time, Rodney. OK, smart play. Don't risk it. FG under 30 yards. C'mon, Dawson, is it? Missed. That's what I get for learning his name. Just Maalox, baby."

Bubba Franks, TE, Green Bay Packers -- "See Bubba pass? Sweet with a capital C. One-for-one with a TD. Wonder if Aunt Pearl and Keisha 'nem saw it? Bubba just wanna help the team. Bubba really wanna be featured, but Bubba don't mind helping the team."

Travis Henry
We can see Travis Henry now -- running into the end zone.
Travis Henry, RB, Buffalo Bills -- "Being small helps. Drew can see me. That tall girl I was kinda liking, she said, 'Travis, I can hear you talking, but where are you?' Call herself being funny, ha-ha. But I got my check. She don't. Well ... not yet, anyway."

Dick Jauron, head coach, Chicago Bears -- "Damn, tell me, who stuck a Roman candle up Bledsoe's butt, and just in time for us."

Justin Lucas, DB, Arizona Cardinals -- "... be nice if they threw an out cut for a brother with seven seconds left before halftime. Wet dream. Nobody would be that dumb. I'm covered up in back. I'm sitting on the out cut and -- here it comes! They throwing an out cut on me seven seconds left before half! ... I'm a made man! A made #*&?@! man!"

Kerry Collins, QB, New York Giants -- "Unfreakingbelievable. (affects voice of effeminate schoolmaster) 'Don't check me off, Kerry, don't check me off.' Yeah, right, Mr. Chips ... if I knew where those Polaroids were, I wouldn't put up with this crap."

Tedy Bruschi, LB, New England Patriots -- "Tomlinson, eh? Not too shabby. Underestimated him. Give him a year, tops, before he gets busted up, cutting back like that. So I missed. So sue me."

LaDainian Tomlinson
LaDainian Tomlinson's high-voltage running shocked the Pats.
LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, San Diego Chargers -- "We shook up the world! But why is Junior shaking his head at me? What's he mean, 12 games left? What's that gotta do with 217 on the Super Bowl champs?! I don't care what Marty say about even keel. I'm Kid Rockin'! Hip-hoppin'! And yeah, Kid ... I did say early!"

Greg Biekert, LB, Minnesota Vikings -- "Never thought I'd pine for the calm days of certainty, when I was a freaking Raider?!"

Shaun Alexander, RB, Seattle Seahawks -- "Five TDs! Gotta ask Holmgren, is it better to be a genius, or have big powerful thighs?"

Shannon Sharpe, TE, Denver Broncos -- "Keep my seat warm, Sterl. I'll be there quicker'n you can say ESPI'mNthere. Make Collinsworth and Carter sound like zombies. Stuttering zombies."

Ray Lewis
Ray Lewis answers the burning question: "Any dogs in the house?"
Ray Lewis, LB, Baltimore Ravens -- "Boy, it's fun knocking the snot out of you like that. Can you tell the way I looking at you that I want to do it again? My come-hither look. Hey, come back!"

Brian Dawkins, DB, Philadelphia Eagles -- "Let's see, Five gets a $20 mil bonus. I get a touchdown, recovered fumble, pick and a sack. In one game. Where's my bonus? Hello?! There's an echo is this cupboard. Five took it all! Well, maybe he needs a driver."

David Carr, QB, Houston Texans -- "Twenty. Eagles. Dawkins? Book him. Felony assault. Couldn't look him off. Or duck him. Or pump-fake him. If there's somebody on the schedule better, put me down for the flu that week. I have bruises, strawberries, pulls, open wounds. My elbow feels like brass. My brain is melting."

Joey Harrington, QB, Detroit Lions -- "This is a baptism by fire?"

Carr -- "It's no baptism by fire. Not yet. He's a little too happy about it. Seen the list? Torn pectoral muscle? Torn from what? Bruised pubic bone? Oh, man ..."

Bruce Matthews, retired, OL, Tennessee Titans -- "Johnny U., Webster, Hayes -- dropping like flies. Who's next? White Shoes? Me? Reading the obits. Looking for friends. NFLers count living in half-dog years. Every year is like 3½ years of actual human life."

Ralph Wiley spent nine years at Sports Illustrated and wrote 28 cover stories on celebrity athletes. He is the author of several books, including "Best Seat in the House," with Spike Lee, "Born to Play: The Eric Davis Story," and "Serenity, A Boxing Memoir."



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