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While I was hanging out in Phoenix this summer researching a story on Rams hybrid safety Adam Archuleta, I spent a morning wandering around the gym where Arch trains up to six hours a day during the off-season. It's run by trainer Jay Schroeder, (not the former QB) who created the Russian-influenced system that has transformed Arch from a skinny 170-pound high school reject into a chiseled 205-pound missile launcher with a 530-pound bench press, 4.37 speed and the prototype skills for a new generation of do-it-all NFL safeties.Arch hates the notion that he's a Caucasian mutt who -- goshdarnit -- just wouldn't give up on his lofty dreams. The truth is, to get to the top, he's spent most of his life during the last eight years sequestered in this gym being, literally, tortured by Schroeder. Actually, it was longer than that. Before Schroeder would agree to train him, Arch had to measure everything he did for six month -- including his waste. Then the real fun began.
|I know why Deion Sanders wants to make a comeback at 37 to play nickel scrub with the Baltimore Ravens: (No longer even close to his) Prime Time doesn't want to be the first defender to go into the Hall of Fame without ever actually tackling someone. Let me first acknowledge that as a cover/return guy, Deion is a first-ballot lock. Like everyone else, I want to see him once again returning picks and dancing like Napolean Dynamite. But what happens if people RUN the ball or complete a pass while he's in there? Then, unless he's become a little more comfortable with contact in his old age, it's 10 on 11. Maybe I'm exaggerating his lack of physical presence. But not by much. In his last six years in the NFL, Deion averaged two solo tackles and .10 (yes, one-point-oh-my-god-he-really-doesn't-hit anyone) assists per game. End zone pylons bring more people down than that. Still, it could be worse. The guy could be back on TV.||FLEM FILE FIVE|
|Top five stays on QB Kurt Kittner's absolutely brutal summer tour: 5.) Released by Steelers on Sept. 3 (20 days). 4.) Released by Patriots on Aug. 7 (22 days). 3.) Released by Giants on July 16 (56 days). 2.) Released by Bengals on May 9 (nine days). 1.) Released by Falcons on April 27 (56 days after 2003 contracts expired).||FLEMISTER FILE|
Well, no need to play the games. We already know who will win the Super Bowl. It's the New England Patriots: the one team talented enough and smart enough to pick up our Flem File mascot (and former Washington Redskins tight end) Zeron Flemister. Z had been working out all summer in Denver after the Redskins let him go in January. (Thus earning themselves a nasty Flem File Curse.)
"I was maybe a week away from starting my life after football," reports Z. "I was looking at going back to school (to Iowa) to take some business classes this fall. It's not easy; but sooner or later, you learn you can't play forever."
Then the Pats called. They contacted him in April and brought him back a few days before camp for a rigorous workout. "You can tell why they win so many Super Bowls," says Z. "The expectations are so high there. I noticed it right away because their idea of 'in shape' was a lot different than mine." Still, on July 28, Bill Belichick signed him to a two-year deal. Then, while running a simple go-route in camp, Z felt a burning pain in his left heel. It felt like his heel was held on only by skin. Which it was. ZFlem had suffered the injury players now dread more than an ACL: a blown-out Achilles'. MRI. Surgery. Crutches. A cast. It will take several months of excruciating rehab before he can even put weight on his toes.|
As always, though, Z seems to be in good spirits. "If I mope around, this is gonna be a looooong six months," says Z, 27, who was hoping to see some playoff action for the first time in his career. On Aug. 11, the Pats placed him on IR (I had to tell him this since the team never called) which leaves two big questions: 1.) Does he get a Super Bowl ring if the team wins it all? (Answer: HE BETTER). And 2.) Who will fill in as the 2004 Flem File mascot? (Answer: With Z's blessing, we have begun preliminary negotiations with Titans rook running back Troy Fleming.) "Dawg, don't you demote me, too," begged Z. Not a chance. Here at the Flem File, no one can lose his starting spot due to an injury.
|If you Page 2 dudes aren't familiar with the WHYLO portion of the column, this is where I post my (often times quite stunning amount) of hate mail. WHYLO stands for Who Helped You Log On, and I award it once a week to readers whose venomous language or questionable logic goes, shall we say, below and behind the call of duty. It's kinda like being named the Tim Couch of e-mailers. And by next week, this space will be filled to capacity with them. Trust me. Drop me a line at Dave.Fleming@espn3.com.||FLEM GEMS|
|' Pre-season Highlight No. 1: The media room at Falcons camp on the campus of Furman University is near the student activity center. Outside on the wall, they hang the 'celebrities' who have been to Furman. Here's a sampler: the guy who played Screech, some doofus from the "Dukes of Hazard" and boy-band wannabe John Mayer ... Steve Beuerlein has been really sharp in the TV booth while working pre-season games for the Carolina Panthers. Great Beuerlein story: After hernia surgery several years ago, he was extremely constipated. Things finally began 'working' one night while he was out at a restaurant. Relieved, he heads to the john, where a fan waits ... and waits ... and waits ... by his stall for an autograph ... PSHN2: One of the most amazing things I saw during my camp swing was Bucs 300-pound defensive tackle Booger McFarland racing 40 yards down field on a pass play, going stride for stride with a wideout ... A little while back, I had my first father/daughter tea party. It was such a delightful time, I asked for seconds. It was then, after hearing the toilet lid open and shut, that I realized Ally had taken the term 'tea potty' literally ... Oh man, did my Lil RedHawks of Miami University take a beating against Michigan. But I'm still predicting a second-straight MAC title ... PSHN3: Did you know that Rams safety Adam Archuleta once did a ballet dance at a high-school talent show? ... In The Mag's NFL preview, we created a category of versatile dudes called Swiss Army Players (SAPs). But so far, I haven't seen Dime One from the Swiss Army people ... PSHN4: Chemistry-wise, Panthers' GM Marty Hurney thinks his team has a very similar makeup to the great Redskins teams under Gibbs version 1.0 ... All you need to know about Britney Spears is that she makes a habit of using gas station bathrooms without wearing any shoes. I wouldn't let my dog walk in a gas station john without flipflops ... I know why everyone hates soccer. I tried to watch some of the Olympic pitch; but after 10 minutes, I had to turn the channel. Just couldn't stand the way these guys would fall to the ground like they'd been shot, whimpering and whining for five minutes in pure agony after the most incidental contact. Speaking of the Olympics, I'd rather have a silver medal that I earned than a gold medal that I didn't ... PSHN5: Love what Jags o-coord Bill Musgrave says about QB Byron Leftwich: "His kind of versatility is what allows players to keep playing where the coach's chalk ends." ... PSHN6: Overheard from a kid atop his dad's shoulders at one of the Jags' afternoon workouts: "Daaaad, take me home to my Nintendo." ... Let the countdown begin for Pearl Jam's October show in North Carolina. THIS COLUMN WRITTEN WHILE LISTENING TO: The Cure's "The Cure."|