August 14, 2006
Clinton Portis:
Out indefinitely after separating his shoulder just a few plays into last night's exhibition game vs. Cincy. Will be THE hot NFL topic. (See Item 2)
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
TONY.  AWARDS.

Tonight is Tony Kornheiser's debut on "Monday Night Football," which is making its own debut on ESPN.

If you listen to what he says, he's going to stink. Clever expectations management. But sorry, Tony, I'm not buying it.

If you're a Tony K. fan -- from his Washington Post columns, his work on "PTI" or his radio shows -- you can't help but have high expectations.

He represents the best innovation to "MNF" since it launched 36 years ago with a three-man booth and Howard Cosell as the star.

Tony will bring Cosell's clever "anti-jockocracy" perspective that made Howard so must-see, without Cosell's sense of self-seriousness.

But Tony's sensibility is a huge improvement over Dennis Miller; Tony is a professional sports critic who is funny, not the other way around.

Mostly, Tony is the Everyman in the booth: His schtick has always been that he's the guy you think you'd love to sit and watch a game with.

The opportunity isn't without its pitfalls: "PTI" is taped; "MNF" is live (TK's live radio experience should mitigate that).

"PTI" cherry-picks the day's best stories in a rapid-fire 30 minutes; "MNF" is a grab bag of plodding drives to go with any big plays over three hours.

(Again, that's mitigated by letting TK focus on analysis outside of specific game action and creatively getting him involved in other ways. For example, he'll answer viewer e-mail on-air.)

My guiding principle from the NFL's first full exhibition weekend? You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Way more than for the Vikings or Raiders or even for "MNF" on ESPN, sports fans tonight will be watching for the unique debut of Kornheiser.

But no matter how much he wants you to expect a flop, fans know better -- and that fan appreciation for his unique talent is why he'll be a huge success.

Portis Injured
"Get me out of that game." Portis' lament is the new motto of the Redskins' season, now doomed after merely a few exhibition plays.

Portis said that was his first thought after he had one productive 8-yard run. He's excused for airing his frustration with his coaches.

Actually, "Get me out" should be the new mantra of every NFL coach, after seeing what happened to the Skins' star.

Watch this cautionary tale reverberate for the rest of the month across the NFL: Starters will get a series -- maybe not even that.

Inspirational comebacks like the ones from Big Ben or Culpepper will now be greeted by tense fans with "Why are you risking it?!?!"*

(A fair question for Portis: If exhibitions don't matter, why was he hurt after racing to make a tackle off a Bengals' INT?)

There will be calls to end using starters in preseason games, but absolutes aren't practical. However, coaches should absolutely be held accountable for their decision-making on PT in the preseason.

Joe Gibbs has already said to blame him if you want to blame anyone for Portis being in the game.

But that's not much solace for Skins fans if/when the season is ruined before it even really started.

(* By the way, that screaming sound you hear is from all the fantasy owners with the 4th, 5th or 6th overall picks who already drafted Portis.)

Tigers Swept
Detroit still has the best record in MLB and a 5½-game lead in the AL Central. Yes, Tigers fans, it's finally OK to panic.

Fans have been waiting all year for signs that the Tigers' super-season is too-good-to-be-true. Being swept out of Chicago is the worst omen yet.

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
Kevin Harvick: Edges Tony Stewart for a W at Watkins Glen
Kimberly Kim: 14-y.o. wins US Women's Amateur golf title
Jerry Rice: Leads class inducted into College FB H.O.F.
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Bengals' "JERK" hotline: Only 1 phone line? No voicemail?
Mark Prior: Cubs put SP on 15-day DL. Is his season over?
Chelsea: Loses to Liverpool in trad'l EPL preseason finale
 
Detroit has lost 5 straight, its longest losing streak of the season. Meanwhile, the Tigers play the White Sox head-to-head 7 more times.

The last 7 weeks of the season just got a lot more interesting.

MLB Hit List
The Dodgers became the final team to win an extra-inning game this season -- in style. A 10th-inning walk-off HR from Russell Martin ended a 1-0 thriller over the Giants that featured a duel between Greg Maddux and Jason Schmidt that had Felipe Alou tossing around names like Drysdale and Sanford.

By becoming the first rookie SP since Livan Hernandez in '97 to start 8-0, Jered Weaver stays in the conversation for AL ROY.

(But that's as far as it goes, unless the Angels manage to ride Weaver to beat out the A's for the AL West title. In an AL rookie race as competitive as this one, making the playoffs should be a big factor.)

It's hard to take the Cards seriously as NL contenders when they get swept at Pittsburgh in August.

Did Manny's laziness ruin his 27-game hit streak? Ambling to 1st on an infield chopper cost him a hit after he reached base on a wild throw.

Travis Hafner: Most Clutch? With his MLB record-tying 6th grand slam of the season, Pronk could give Papi an argument.

(Meanwhile, someone explain again how Hafner wasn't an All-Star; he's Top 5 in every meaningful offensive category, including 1st in OPS.)

Bush Tops Young
In their NFL debuts (coincidentally, head-to-head against each other), Reggie Bush outshined Vince Young.

Bush busted the first highlight-worthy play of the (pre)season, a 44-yard run the 2nd time he carried the ball. It's true: You'll hold your breath waiting for something exciting every time he gets a touch.

Meanwhile, VY was 4-of-11 for 56 yards (plus 4 carries for 28 yards), but he had to leave the game after being shaken up by a tackle.

First impression: It's Bush's Rookie of the Year award to lose, and don't expect too much from Young this season.

Favre Struggles
"We've got a long way to go. We weren't very good." And that quote from Favre after the Packers' 17-3 L to the Chargers means GB is a long way from the "most talented ever" from a few weeks back.

First impression: If fans thought last season couldn't get worse for Favre, they need to recalibrate their expectations for 2006.

Meanwhile, Philip Rivers looks like the real deal: He was 15-of-21 for 169 1st-half yards, throwing for 1 TD and leading another TD drive. The breakout season is on.

First impression: Poor man's Tom Brady?

Mario: Slow Start
Only one assist on a tackle? Let the griping from Texans fans begin.

"I kind of got too excited and that made me get a little tired," he said. "But I was not nervous at all."

First impression: If Mario gets "too excited" for a preseason game, how tired will he be for a real game?

But Texans fans shouldn't go pining for Bush just yet: 6th-round rookie RB Wali Lundy made the best rookie first impression of the weekend.

Lundy played like Bush Light: He racked up 110 yards of offense on runs, receptions and returns, plus a TD.

NFL Wknd Wrap
More first impressions...

Big Ben didn't get hurt in his one series (3-of-4, 29 yds), which is just about the only thing that matters in the Steelers' 21-3 L to the Cards...

Speaking of the Cards, who needs Matt Leinart when Kurt Warner (9-of-13, 118 yds, 2 TDs) looks so sharp?

Daunte Culpepper's mantra of the weekend should be: "One small completion for me, one giant step for 'Fin-kind."

Falcons K Michael Koenen could be this season's Neil Rackers...

The Bears' brewing QB controversy between Rex Grossman and Brian Griese will be the biggest distraction the team will face this year...

Jay Cutler will be starting for the Broncos by the end of the season...

Chad Pennington will get the Jets' starting QB job and the team still win fewer than 5 games...

If the season starts slow, watch for Bucs fans hollering for the NFL's next great MAC QB, Bruce Gradkowski, over incumbent starter Chris Simms...

Drafting Tiki Barber in the Top 5 of your fantasy league will be a waste; drafting Brandon Jacobs late will be a steal...

It's enticing, but don't get too excited about the Jags passing for 4 TDs of more than 50-plus yards each; the Dolphins' D reserves were in.

New Lions coach Rod Marinelli obviously has no idea how to manage expectations...

Over/under on T.O. telling the media he'd rather have Tony Romo (19-of-25, 235 yds, 1 TD) than Drew Bledsoe (DNP): Week 4...

USA Hoops
Crushing Lithuania by 23 is no joke; they are the 4th-ranked team in the world. The most impressive thing about Team USA so far is the defensive intensity, which is Coach K's focus.

(Right behind the D is the obvious selflessness on offense; 7 players scored in double figures, led once again by the motivated Carmelo Anthony, who had 19.)

Lance On Landis
Here's Lance Armstrong's advice to Floyd Landis: Stay off the radar.

"In this day and age, you're not going to get a fair shake in the media," Lance said.

That's a typical position from an athlete, and it's not necessarily wrong. But it does go against the first rule of sports-scandal management: Get in front of it.

Landis' problem wasn't that he talked with the media; it was that he gave the media a different excuse each time he talked. He had the right idea; he simply bungled the execution.

Consider: It's not like Lance followed that lay-low advice when he was getting blitzed by the Euro media; he went on the attack.

In fact, it's pretty disingenuous for Lance to claim media bias, given the fawning treatment he gets, particularly from the U.S. media.

Lance should have emphasized this to Landis: You won't get a fair shake, but I do.

Just another reminder to everyone that Landis ain't no Lance.

Adrian McPherson
No more nominations needed for NFL Wackiest Injury of the Year: The Saints' backup QB was hurt when the Titans' mascot rammed him with a golf cart.
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie Live
Page 2 Index
NFL Camping
 
More NFL Weekend
Plotlines: RB Edition
Shaun Alexander
Hard to displace '05 TD stud
 
L. Tomlinson
Rivers legit? Great for LT2
 
Larry Johnson
Hype creating an "LJ Bubble"
 
Clinton Portis
Whoops! Replace with Edge James
 
TIki Barber
Ugh. Give me Caddy or Ronnie B.
 

NFL Tonight: Tony K makes his debut on MNF. MNF makes its debut on ESPN. Randy Moss makes his return to Minneapolis.

Clarett Update: His lawyer says Clarett was sprayed and hit AFTER he had surrendered. If that's the case, why didn't that come out earler?

Junior Seau is expected to announce his retirement today in San Diego. I would count the 12-time Pro Bowler as a future Hall of Famer.

WSOP: Only the legendary Chris Moneymaker rivals 2006 winner Jamie Gold for champ's back-story. Think he'll sell AND produce his own movie?

If you're not a NASCAR regular, yesterday's road race at the Glen was the one to watch: The twists, turns and bumps make it more PS2-ish than ever.

Coming tomorrow: In classic Quickie fashion, I would argue that it's going to be the Biggest. Announcement. Ever. Don't miss it!



SEND PRINT ARCHIVE EMAIL US
Sponsored Links
espn.com