Page 2 columnist
With the NFL college selection a few days away, everybody's got a mock draft. Mock drafts are all over the Web and newspapers. Mock drafts are being broadcast by the GPS system to smart bombs in Iraq. (And hey, if those bombs are so smart, how come some of them picked Arizona in the office basketball pool?) NASA is beaming mock drafts to the outer planets.
But mock drafts never actually mock the draft. Enter Tuesday Morning Quarterback with its annual mocking mock draft.
1. Cincinnati Bengals. PFC. JESSICA LYNCH, 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company. If the sculpted, testosterone-pumped Bengals displayed half the heart and courage of this 130-pound woman, Cincinnati would be a Super Bowl lock.
2. Detroit Lions. DWIGHT DAVID EISENHOWER, Belle Springs Creamery, Abilene, Kan. Eisenhower was president, Taiwan was called Formosa, and Algeria and Vietnam were under French rule the last time the Lions won everything. Think about it.
3. Houston Texans. JENNA AND BARBARA BUSH, regulars, Pink Pony Pub, actual site of recent twins spotting. The fun-loving twins would liven up Texans' tailgate parties. Also, perhaps they will run for the White House in 2016, their first years of Constitutional eligibility, as a combined ticket.
4. Chicago Bears. BILL O'REILLY, loudmouth, Fox News. Since the Bears lack offense, why not nab someone offensive? Note to Bill's mom: At some point, you should have mentioned the concept of "manners" to him.
5. Dallas Cowboys. DAVE ORECK, vacuum cleaner salesman, New Orleans. TMQ has long been struck by the physical resemblance between 'Boys owner Jerry Jones and late-night vacuum cleaner huckster Dave Oreck -- that's where the resemblances end, since Oreck has a respectable line of work. Check out the incredible all-new Oreck XL two-speed upright, offered now with "free annual tune-ups for seven years." A vacuum cleaner that needs a tune-up -- someone in greasy overalls comes to your house?
6. Arizona (CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN FOOTBALL-LIKE SUBSTANCE) Cardinals. HANS BLIX, United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission. Since the Cards are perennially dead-last in NFL attendance, if Blix and his inspectors fanned out across Sun Devil Stadium, perhaps they could discover a paying customer. Note: in the second round of the draft, Arizona hopes to tab Blix's seeing-eye dog.
7. Minnesota Vikings. DR. PHIL, shiny talking object, the 24-Hour Dr. Phil Channel. Here's the deal: if Randy Moss doesn't shape up, he has to get in touch with his feelings on the Dr. Phil show. If that doesn't bring Moss around, nothing will.
Check out Dr. Phil's sage views on dating, including, "Don't restrict your thinking by considering sex to be something that only consists of the actual physical act." His profound advice on women who can't find a guy to marry? "If what you're doing isn't working, change it. Do something different." Dr. TMQ's advice to women seeking men? Start thinking of sex as a physical act!
8. Carolina Panthers.* MICHAEL JORDAN, wide receiver, University of North Carolina. What have they got to lose?
* Projected trade. Carolina sends Jacksonville its first and third picks in 2003, sixth pick in 2004, fourth pick in 2005 and several priceless Mesopotamian artifacts looted from Baghdad for the Jaguars' first and fifth picks in 2003, the option of exchanging fifth rounds picks in 2007, any compensatory picks the team might receive in 2008 and a complete list of all swear words used by insult-spewing former Jax coach Tom Coughlin. Carolina then trades the list of swear words to Bill O'Reilly.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars. BYRON LEFTWICH, quarterback, Marshall. Actual possible pick thrown in for variety. TMQ's favorite Leftwich stat: against the University of Buffalo in October, Leftwich threw for 447 yards in the first half.
10. Baltimore Ravens. A VOLUNTEER FROM THE AUDIENCE, quarterback. In just four years of coaching the Ravens, insult-spewing Brian Billick -- who now takes over from the cashiered Coughlin as the league's worst-sport coach -- has rolled out eight different starting quarterbacks, while cutting the one who won the Super Bowl! Yea, verily, the football gods doth wince.
11. Seattle Seahawks. JACK GRUBMAN, former Vice President for Client Fraud, Merrill Lynch. In addition to touting various Seattle-area tech stocks, Grubman forecast the Seahawks to go 45-2 during the 2002 season and win the Super Bowl six times in the same year.
12. St. Louis Rams. MYSTIQUE, blue-skinned mega-babe, the X-Men. St. Louis won a trophy using alien-in-human-form "Kurt Warner" behind center, but, last season, NASA telemetry devices must have located Warner's starcruiser and jammed its emissions, because Warner sure looked normal. If aliens aren't working now for the Rams, why not switch to mutants?
Tinseltown note: in the X-Man movies, Mystique is played by the luscious supermodel Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. But since Mystique's power is to change herself into other forms, Romijn-Stamos is almost never on screen; Mystique always appears transformed into some boring, balding guy. So the producers hire an incredibly good-looking babe, strip her naked, paint her blue and, then, rather than flash viewers some blue skin, keep her off camera for the entire movie. Ye gods.
13. Jersey/B Jets. VERA WANG, couturière, Manhattan. Seriously, Jets, it's now 2003; do something about those uniforms.
Vera Wang note: her consumer feedback page helpfully asks, "How much would you spend on a wedding dress?"
Cartography note: a transaction ostensibly sent this pick from "Washington" to "New York." But since the trading team's stadium is in Maryland, while the receiving team's field is in New Jersey, how did the Fed Ex driver know where to deliver the package?
14. New England Patriots. ONE-HUNDRED FIFTY-SIX GALLANT MEN AND WOMEN, United States and United Kingdom armed forces. That's how many died in the liberation of Iraq. True patriots know there is a price for freedom.
15. San Diego Chargers. SARAH REICHERT, cheerleader, San Diego Chargers. Reichert was last year's most-clicked-on cheer-babe in TMQ; the appearance in the column of her swimsuit photo crashed the Charger's main server both times it ran. Realistically, the high-aesthetic-appeal Chargers cheerleaders are likely to be more pleasant to look at this season than the low-aesthetic-appeal Chargers themselves.
16. Kansas City Chiefs. BEER MAN, any brand. At $3.50 a cup, Arrowhead Stadium offers the lowest-priced beer in the NFL.
17. Washington Wizards (projected trade from New Orleans Saints). KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, LARRY BIRD, MAGIC JOHNSON, BILL RUSSELL, JERRY WEST, WILLIS REED, ELGIN BAYLOR, ADRIAN DANTLEY, BOB McADOO, DAVE COWENS, SPENCER HAYWOOD, DENNIS JOHNSON, WALT FRAZIER, BOB LANIER, ELVIN HAYES, JOE CALDWELL, JOHN HAVLICEK, BILL WALTON, CHARLES BARKLEY, TINY ARCHIBALD, BILLY KNIGHT, CALVIN MURPHY, ROBERT PARISH, PEARL MONROE, WALT BELLAMY AND KEVIN McHALE. All these guys could come back and the Wizards would still be cover-your-eyes awful.
18. Los Angeles Clippers (projected trade from New Orleans Saints). It makes absolutely no difference whom the Clippers draft, and it never will.
19. New England Patriots. SHANE STAFFORD, quarterback, University of Connecticut. Stafford goes into training camp listed fourth on the Pats depth chart and thus, by New England logic, is likely to become a Super Bowl hero.
20. Denver Broncos. WILLIAM OF ORANGE, king of England, Scotland and Ireland. An obvious fit for the Broncos' program.
21. Cleveland Browns. BUFFY SUMMERS, vampire slayer, University of California at Sunnydale. According to the bootleg script of the upcoming "Buffy" series finale episode now making the rounds on the Internet, our heroine succeeds in sealing the hellmouth under Sunnydale, only to discover there is a second opening to hell -- in Cleveland. Ah, Cleveland: All that gentrification, the trendy downtown restaurants, Drew Carey, the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame and you're still getting pasted with Cleveland jokes.
22. Jersey/B Jets. RUDY GULIANI, former district attorney, Manhattan. Jets, if you want to stop losing players to "Washington," hire someone who really knows how to lock 'em up.
23. Buffalo Bills. JOSH WHEDON, producer and chief writer, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Civic fathers want to thank Whedon for not making the final joke a Buffalo joke.24. Indianapolis Colts. "JULIE," artificial voice, Amtrak. Call 1-800-USA-RAIL. Talk to "Julie." Try to get "Julie" to connect you with a real person who sells train tickets. Ask "Julie" out. Read her the GPS coordinates of Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons depots. You might as well shout at the wall. If the Colts broadcast "Julie's" voice in their dome, opposing teams would run from the stadium screaming.
25. Jersey/B Giants. JACK NICHOLSON, actor, "Anger Management." Assign him to live with Jeremy Shockey, whom TMQ views as one pass interference no-call away from striking a ref and sitting out a season.
26. San Francisco Forty-Niners. DEION SANDERS, motor mouth, Florida State. The Niners will then give Sanders as a gift to whomever looks dangerous in the NFC West. Can any team seriously be thinking about bringing back this me-first has-been? Doesn't anyone remember how he single-handedly ruined an entire season for "Washington" the last time he had on cleats? Me-first has-been nightmare matchup: Sanders covering Cris Carter.
27. Pittsburgh Steelers. KENNY PETERSON, defensive end, Ohio State. Planning, of course, to convert him to quarterback.
28. Tennessee Titans. NATALIE MAINES, country singer, Dixie Chicks. "One of the privileges of being an American is you are free to voice your own point of view," Maines said after declaring herself "ashamed" of the president of the United States. And it's true, one of the privileges of being an American is saying whatever damn-fool thing you please. Another privilege of being an American is ignoring damn fools, for example by refusing to play the Dixie Chicks.29. Green Bay Packers. CURLY LAMBEAU, ghost. The Packers are selling the naming rights to Lambeau Field -- say it ain't so! What's it going to be, the Kraft Cheez-Whiz Field at Lambeau?
30. Philadelphia Eagles. ANDREW CARNEGIE, financier and noted advocate of thrift. Right now the Eagles have the second-most unused cap space in the league, trailing only the woeful Cards. For three consecutive offseasons, Philadelphia has been a couple players away from the Super Bowl, but refused to use its cap space. Attention owner Jeff Lurie: there's a word for this, and it rhymes with "asleep."
31. Oakland Raiders. DAVID BOIES, lead attorney, Boies, Shiller & Flexner. In Los Angeles, Al Davis sued L.A.. Now in Oakland, he's suing Oakland. Davis has repeatedly sued the NFL, as part of his hobby, which is attempting to drive professional football out of business. This month Davis began suing individual NFL teams, suing the Bucs for having a pirate theme and the Panthers for using silver and black in their logo. Hey, and aren't these teams both using letters from the alphabet in their names? Sue!
32. Oakland Raiders. DR. ROBERT STERNBERG, president, American Psychological Association. Perhaps he could explain what Barret Robbins is still doing on the Raiders' roster.
Cheerleader of the Week: NFL teams have not yet revealed their 2003 squads, so the football gods advise patience. In Chargers cheerleader news, former Bolts cheer-babe and now actress Charisma Carpenter has come back from another dimension to rejoin the cast of the plodding Buffy spinoff "Angel." Unfortunately, now she plays a somber role that requires her to be fully clothed.
Saddam Hussein Double Museum to Open Soon at Two Locations: Traveling the Chesapeake Bay? Take in the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum. But -- where's the real museum?
Draft Timing Watch: When ESPN began broadcasting the NFL draft, it was held on Tuesday; the network knew it had a hit on its hands when factories and businesses started reporting an inexplicable outbreak of absenteeism each year on late-April Tuesdays. So the draft was switched to the weekend, allowing millions to watch without getting docked a day's pay. What TMQ wants to know is, why not prime time? The draft is a lot more interesting than reality shows. Actually, it is a reality show. Unscripted, embarrassing moments, self-humiliation, everything except women in bikinis -- and marketing, please tell us you're working on that.
If The Bomb Was Really Smart, It Would Refuse to Blow Itself Up: Speaking of smart bombs, TMQ's favorite is the AGM-142, which comes in versions codenamed Have Nap and Have Lite. Bombs don't often make one think of having a nap. As for the Have Lite, maybe the Air Force can do a recruiting commercial starring the Miller Lite "catfight" babes. ("More destructive!" "Less collateral damage!")
Reading Tuesday Morning Quarterback May Make You More Attractive to the Opposite Sex, or the Same Sex, as the Case May Be: Boxes of Quaker Oats now exclaim, MAY HELP REDUCE RISK OF HEART DISEASE. The boxes might as well say, MAY CAUSE WORLD PEACE.
MJ Sign Off: Last week TMQ was teaching at Colorado College -- TMQ is believed to be the only ESPN.com columnist to teach collegiate-level political science, in addition to previously being the sole ESPN.com columnist ever interviewed about sustainable development on PBS-TV "Newshour with Jim Lehrer" -- and so missed the Page 2 Michael Jordan sendoff.
Of course, I was sad to see Jordan go, but wish he hadn't come back in the first place. Not because he diluted his greatness; not because he padded his records, including his record, shared with Frank Sinatra, for most lifetime retirement ceremonies. No, TMQ was mad about the Michael comeback because he forced us to watch the Washington Wizards.
Ye gods, the Wizards are awful. This team numbers among the most excruciatingly bad -- consistently excruciatingly bad -- in the history of sports. No matter the players, no matter the coaches, don a Wizards' uniform and you are instantly a sight to offend any eye; even Jordan looked horrible in a Wizzy shirt. The Bullets-Wizards have not won a playoff series in almost 20 years. In the grade-inflated NBA, where teams with losing records make the postseason, the Wizards have only appeared in a couple playoff games in the living memory of many fans. Check the team's own official history page. Basically, there are no positive entries since the late 1970s.
Not only do the Wizards lose, lose, lose, they look bad by the standards of losing. TMQ has never seen a professional team in any sport that tries less, hustles less or cares less. Jordan might be 40 years old, but during much of this season he was the sole Wizard on the court who was, technically speaking, moving. Four guys standing around thinking about their guaranteed no-cut contracts, watching MJ, watching the courtside dancers, or just staring off into space. And if the Wizards ran a back-door or pick-and-roll this year -- if they ran any play at all -- TMQ missed it.
Bad enough that Michael himself made the calamitous decision to throw away the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft on high school kid Kwame Brown, who would be a collegiate star by now if he'd gone to school, but instead at this point can aspire to nothing more than a forgotten career as a nameless NBA journeyman. Michael deserves further blame for the awfulness of the Wizards, since one of MJ's first moves as an executive was to grant a long-term contract to general manager Wes Unseld.
Unseld was a great player, and has consistently been one of the dumbest front-office people in sports. Unseld cannily traded Chris Webber, among the league's elite players, for the aging, creaking Mitch Richmond, who's now glued to a couch somewhere while Webber played in the Western Conference Finals last year. Unseld cannily traded Rasheed Wallace, a young All-Star, for the beyond-worthless Rod Strickland -- the sort of player who makes everyone around him worse, and at any rate didn't last long with the Wizards, while Wallace has been attending conference championships. Unseld cannily traded Ben Wallace, a young all-star, for the out-of-shape, me-first, walking-negativity-projector Ike Austin, who not only ended up never starting for the Wizards, wasn't even starting for the team Unseld cannily got him from. Austin, of course, is now nailed to a couch somewhere, while Ben Wallace has been Defensive Player of the Year and looked fine in this year's All-Star Game.
If Wes Unseld had simply done nothing at all with the Wizard's roster, by the time Jordan arrived, there would have been sufficient talent for a title run. Instead Unseld screwed up again and again and again, and was rewarded a long-term contract. But after all, failure is what the Wizards' organization is all about! And Michael Jordan, in his final act in basketball, forced us to watch this cover-your-eyes "team." Give me the Clippers anytime.
TMQ Watch: There will be a post-draft Tuesday Morning Quarterback next Tuesday. And be of good cheer, for the draft means the long, lonely NFL offseason is half-expired.
Gregg Easterbrook is a senior editor of New Republic, a contributing editor of The Atlantic Monthly and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. He is believed to be the first Brookings scholar ever to write a pro football column. You can buy his book, "The Here and Now" here ... and now.