Monday, April 5, 2010

Now maybe Philly fans can get Ricky Williams like they wanted on draft day

Donovan McNabb being traded by Phildelphia is not a surprise to anyone. Him being dealt to the Redskins was, just because most people didn't believe there was any way the Eagles would do that within the NFC East. The obvious comparison is to Drew Bledsoe being traded by New England in 2002. Bill Belichick didn't think he was good enough to hurt him in Buffalo even though it was the AFC East, and he was right. Given how close Andy Reid is with Donovan McNabb though, another trade springs to mind for me. When Tampa Bay decided to make Vinny Testaverde its number one pick in 1987 and build around him, it was obvious that Steve Young was going to be dealt. Green Bay offered the Bucs their first round pick (4th overall in the 87 draft) and 1984 first rounder ex-FSU DE Alphonso Carreker. Instead, Tampa Bay opted to take the 50th and 106th picks in the draft from San Francisco because they wanted to send Young somewhere he could play for a good team. It was an idiotic decision, but Tampa Bay owner Hugh Culverhouse respected how Young had handled a tough situation and wanted to take care of him. I think for Reid this deal was more Culverhouse than Belichick - we'll see how it works out for McNabb. Meanwhile, I'm sure Rex Grossman is just thrilled that he signed with Washington as backup QB.

MLB opened its season last night with New York and Boston. Glad that ESPN could was able to focus their coverage on that typically ignored rivalry. Their two new analysts? Normar Garciaparra and now Curt Schilling as well - oh goody. In spite of Bristol's intent to treat the regular season as an inconvenient delay (that exists mostly as an excuse to hold the Subway Series) before the Sox and Yankees can reach the playoffs, Tampa Bay has looked really good in the preseason. There are a lot of MLB observers who think the Rays have a chance to make some noise. I just hope ownership will let that happen rather than giving up in a salary dump like last season.

Tonight Duke will win their fourth national championship under Mike Krzyzewski. Butler is a terrific story, and they are better offensively than they looked in that game with Michigan State because of Mack's absence with cramps, but they're a bad defensive matchup for Duke's three scoring options. Duke can have a mediocre offensive game and still win, while Butler has to not only keep Duke below 60 but also score enough to win themselves. I just don't see it happening. Much like last year, the hometown favorites in the championship game get worked over by an ACC squad. By the way, I talked to multiple people who said the home crowd will be zero factor tonight because not enough noise gets to the court with the ridiculous center of the field setup they use now.

On a first Final Four night where neither basketball game was captivating viewing, the biggest memory a lot of people are likely to take away from Saturday is of Da'Sean Butler's devastating knee injury. For his last college game to end with a torn ACL as well as other knee damage is heartbreaking, which is why Bob Huggins went out and comforted his player. Lots of people seem surprised by that moment, but they shouldn't have been. Huggins is a much better guy than his public image has been over the years. I watched him hold court at a bar in Indianapolis at the Final Four ten years ago - he and Jerry Tarkanian were together and both of them couldn't have been nicer to anyone who came over. Huggins isn't perfect, but he also isn't a hypocrite. Some guys he gives second chances deserve them. In a business filled with frauds, I've got no problem with a guy who does it his way and doesn't care if positive PR follows.

The process of ranking prospective college recruits has improved in the past decade by leaps and bounds. Having sat in a meeting on the topic as part of my writing duties for I know how much more elaborate the evaluation procedures have become. There is a constant effort to get tape on kids earlier, make connections with them quicker, have more firsthand evaluations and do the best possible job of trying to produce the ratings, whatever it is that they really mean. I personally have always felt basketball prospect evaluations are much more reliable than the ones for football, because it's a lot easier to see how someone fits in a basketball system as well as judge them against quality competition than it is in football. There are still limits to how early you can judge though, which is why this article touting the supposed best fifth grade basketball player in the US is really disturbing. Maybe this kid will play like the best of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James put together, or maybe he's the next Antonio Lawrence. Lawrence was hyped by ESPN as the nation's best prospect as a ninth grader in Jacksonville. It didn't quite turn out that way. Future super center Jason Bennett from ACD in Jax ring a bell? Again, not able to handle that pressure. No one should be putting expectations of anything other than playing and having fun while doing so on a fifth grader in any sport.

So far, so good with the new Twitter feed - follow me at heathradio if you're so inclined. Or, you know, don't.

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