|Thoughts on the way down ... and out|
By Ralph Wiley
Page 2 columnist
-- R-Dub's NFL Proverb No. 98
Belser knows to be lower than the lowest when tackling or blocking. People who talk League are decrying a lack of tackling, formful or otherwise, these days. They are not giving youth and skill its proper due. You can't win with only youth and skill, but you sure can't win without them. For all his enviable traits, Jason Belser is part of the reason the Chiefs can stop nobody. He should be a backup, a locker room guru, the football equivalent of Shawon Dunston. He's surviving on instinct and 11 years of intelligence. Age and its decline of footspeed betrays him. The end is near.
Two weeks ago, LaDainian Tomlinson broke through a hole; there was Belser, in position, low, having read action, ready to tackle. But LT gave him a young man's shake, left-right, quicker than you can think it. Belser didn't even touch him. His muscle mass wouldn't obey the second command in the same millisecond. Touchdown, LT. Long walk back to bench, long day's journey into good night, Belser.
Last Sunday, Shannon Sharpe set an NFL tight end record for receiving yards (214 on 12 catches), because Belser and a rookie were the Chiefs' starting safeties, injuries having decimated the K.C. secondary. Sharpe broke deep on a post. Belser got there, but for all his pedigree, technique, experience, professionalism and desire, he raced 84 in a dead sprint over 60 yards.
Belser lost ground. To a tight end. An old tight end.
And yet, Jason Belser might do a great job, coaching Baylor.
Time marches on. And right over you. Even over good men. In their honor, the Week 7 NFL Uncensored Thought Balloons will be followed by a solemn solo trumpet rendition of "Taps":
Tony Dungy, coach, Indianapolis Colts -- "Brooks, Sapp, Ronde, Lynch -- my exes, they look good to me. See them out with their new flame, Gruden, and he looks good ... What do you get when you fall in love? You get enough germs to catch pneumonia. And if you do, they'll never phone ya, I'll ... never fall in love again."
LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, San Diego Chargers -- "I bust thru. I seen a wide open hole. I smelt the end zone ... (later) I toted 39 carries? I catch five balls? I got hit how many times? (next day) I hurt thru. And thru. I seen a bye week. I smelt the whirlpool."
Al Davis, managing general partner, Oakland Raiders -- "Marty's 19-3 against us. %#&$! Did you see that guy? Did you see what he did to us? Does he have our number or what? Ah, just thin, baby."
Terrell Owens, WR, San Francisco 49ers -- "No, I did not see no Detroit tight end (Ricks) acting like he was signing a ball before giving it to a fan in Minnesota the day before I made up that move in Seattle. T.O. made that up. See? Besides, (Ricks) was acting. I really did it. Oops, maybe I should've caught that ball instead of talking to myself. You think? We lost? New Orleans has lots of black guys. That's why. Plus, they didn't go to me more."
Shannon Sharpe, TE, Denver Broncos -- (horse whinneys)
Brian Griese, QB, Denver Broncos -- (looking at the whinnying Shannon Sharpe, at full gallop) "So ... that's a Bronco ... "
The Kansas City Chiefs' D (if you can call it that), featuring Dick Vermeil, with Ludacris -- "We are terrible defensively. I wish I could say I'd seen worse. But I haven't. We just put Griese in the Pro Bowl. And Clinton Portis. And Curtis Conway. And Tomlinson. We may put me in the nut house."
Tom Coughlin, coach, Jacksonville Jaguars -- "... That's Tom ... "
Todd Heap, TE, Baltimore Ravens -- "College coach called me, 'Golden Retriever.' Pro coach calls me, 'Stormin' Mormon.' So why won't Mary Jane call me back? What? There is no Mary Jane? There's only Kirsten Dunst? I'll settle. O Kirsten won't ya Heap?"
Chucky Gruden, coach, Tampa Bay Bucs -- "... what is FUBU?"
Matt Millen, GM, Detroit Lions -- "Yeah, I called him a devout coward. Who? Never mind. He knows. His initials are Scotty Anderson, wide deceiver. Had to call somebody a coward. If it'll light a fire under their tails, all of 'em are ... We what? We actually won? ... You know, this week, they're all cowards."
Anonymous (psst, it's Luther Elliss, DL, Detroit Lions) -- "Spike wasn't talking about me. I know Spike wasn't calling me a coward ... but I better hit A-Train extra hard, just in case."
David Carr, QB, Houston Texans -- "Sacked nine more times? What's that, 40 sacks on me in less than half a season? Oh my aching back! Say to the press your teammates are trying best they can. Stay lovable. But with your eyes ask, 'Would youse guys mind keeping these people out of my earhole?!?'"
Grant Wistrom, DE, St. Louis Rams -- "Best thing about playing for the Rams is that I don't have to tackle Marshall Faulk. He's a bit of an egomaniac, but I would be too, if I could do that. That's 116 TDs. Wait, make it 117 -- no, that's 118 right there, oh, 119, no, try 120. Oh, I'm getting dizzy, and I'm on his team."
Emmitt Smith, RB, Dallas Cowboys -- "What do I need now, 92 yards to catch Walter? With the Seahawks and Santa Claus comin' to town, this feels like it. After that, you can have it, Jer. As I understand it, there'a hole on HBO's 'Inside the NFL' now."
Randy Moss, WR, Minnesota Vikings -- "Cris came back. But he didn't want to come back here. Wonder why not? Jim Mora? Who-da? What-da? He said what? Well, if they said he could coach the Vikings tomorrow, would he turn it down? He would? ... Oh."
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."