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Doc Zzzz: Signing Warner would be a huge mistake for Giants


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Signing Warner would be a huge mistake for Giants


It's been a while since we mailbagged, so you'll forgive me, please, if some of the topics carry a bit of rust. Then again, not much is happening anyway, so why not past-tense it for a while. I say not much is happening, except that I read in the paper Thursday morning that the Giants are toying with the idea of hiring Kurt Warner.

I won't go too far with this, but I can assure you Giants fans out there that this would be quite a serious mistake, and let's leave it at that. Of course you won't leave it at that. What am I, nuts or something? OK, here's what my spies on the Rams tell me: Warner's hand is not right, which is why he has trouble throwing sometimes, or even gripping the ball (remember his six fumbles against the Giants last year?). He did not take kindly to his benching. "We had a guy assigned to keep Kurt away from Marc Bulger on the sidelines during games," my spy told me. If you were the Giants, would you want to take on those problems?

If you need more than that it'll have to wait a month because the Flaming Redhead and I are going on vacation next week.

"And where are you going?" chants the Greek chorus (God, it's exciting to be able to control people this way). The Lake District in England, north to Hadrian's Wall, further north to Scotland and the Highlands, then Skye, down to Stranraer, the ferry to Belfast, cross country to Donegal, then down the West Coast, the wild west, Mayo and Achill Island, south along the coast to Dingle and then round the horn and up to Dublin and fly home. Three weeks in all. A lot of driving, maybe too much. I'll let you know.

I've got a tie for E-mail of the Month award. I'm also looking at some very serious and legitimate gripes about the way I did my Draft Report Card. Which do I get to first? "First the vegetables, then the roast beef," says the Redhead. Yeah, I know, so let's get into this whole idea of rating teams' records in the draft 20 minutes after it has taken place, and why the practice is skewed.

Darren of Fort Lauderdale. Fla., says it best. "Isn't it an absurdity to grade all the NFL teams' draft selections the day after the draft?" Yes it is. Then why do they, uh, we, I mean me ... I ... do it? Because people expect it. Everybody loves grades, even the graders. Editors like it because it stirs the folks up, which translates into being good for readership. So just look at it as a kind of silly game, for entertainment purposes only. Everyone knows that the only way to evaluate a draft is three to five years down the road. I mean, at the time, did anyone go dippy over the Steelers' 1974 draft, the greatest set of selections in history? Lynn Swann in the first round. Yeah, OK, that figured. (Hall of Famer.) Jack Lambert from Kent State in the second round. Who's he? (Hall of Famer.) John Stallworth in the fourth round. What do they want with another wideout? They already picked Swann, didn't they? (Hall of Famer.) Mike Webster in the fifth round. C'mon now, a 220-pound center? How's he gonna play? (Hall of Famer.) Get the point? Regarding your suggestion about grading a draft three years later, I think it's a great idea. And I'll take you up on that and do it next year. If only I can remember ...

Now it gets heavy. I included Corey Dillon in the Patriots' draft (cost them a No.2), so why didn't I use the same criterion for evaluating some of the teams I assigned lesser grades? Al of Jersey City, N.J., mentions the Jets (C grade from PZ), who should have gotten credit for WR Justin McCareins, who cost them a No. 2. Will of Arlington, Va., mentions the Skins (C+ from Z) giving up a second rounder to help swing the trade for Clinton Portis. And all the way from Kilmarnock, Scotland, Gary (sounds funny without a last name ... OK, Gary Moffat) reminds me that the Dolphins (C-) should count quarterback A.J. Feeley in their draft, since he took the place of a conditional No. 2. Whew, that's a lot to answer for, and I haven't even touched on the worst gaffe of all of them.

You're not going to like the explanation. The red COP OUT light is flashing. I did this gigantic opus in a hurry, too soon after the draft. If I would have sat back and put a bit of air under it, it would have appeared to have been dated. You don't want to put these things out too long after the other guys do. Al of JC has the best case, and just as the student who argues about his exam grade with the professor (I used to hate people like that), he has gotten me to hereby post an amended grade for the Jets, which is C+ over B-. The Skins? Nope, can't help you there because the basic trade was player for player and the draft choice was a throw in. I have written, though, that I loved the deal they made. OK, what the hell, to be generous, I'll raise them to B- over C+ because I think Portis will really light it up for them. Feeley and the Dolphins? Uh uh. Unproven. He still hasn't beaten out Jay Fiedler, whom they've been trying to replace ever since Johnny Unitas retired.

But the worst omission of all by your faithful narrator occurred at the very bottom of my rating sheet. I gave the Chiefs a D without recognizing the fact that they stole a good, tough lineman, John Welbourn, from the Eagles for a No. 5. This gets them up to a C-, and if he does a good job filling in for the departed RT John Tait, then I could raise the grade to almost anything within reason, but, of course, it'll be too late by then.

The Flaming Redhead, overlooking Gruyere, Switzerland.

OK, Linda, I've covered the heavy stuff. Can I do my E-mailers of the Week now? You're nodding yes? Thank you. Taha Champsi of Brookline, Mass., is my Co-E-mailer of the Week because 1) he demands that a picture of the Flaming Redhead be posted, and so it is, and 2) he comes up with a really daffy idea about overtime. Yes, loony, but wonderful in a way. Bring both coaches to the center of the field and hold an auction for field position. If you want the ball, you have to bid on where you get it. Mike Martz says, "I bid our own 15-yard line." Dennis Erickson counters, with "Our own 10." Martz says, "Our own seven." Sold. Erickson has dropped out of the bidding, and the Rams get the ball on their own seven-yard line.

I love stuff like this. Of course it hasn't the ghost of a chance of ... ah, hell, everybody knows that already ... but what a fertile imagination has our champ, Mr. Champsi. It's like the old World War I movie, All Quiet on the Western Front, when one of the Tommies suggests settling World War I by having Kaiser Bill and Lloyd George strip down and duke it out.

The other E-mail Award goes to Craig Smith of Eau Claire, Wisc., because he provided a TV howler that I somehow missed, probably because I was gabbing with someone in the draft room and didn't have my headphone plugged in. Craig reports that Merrill Hoge mentioned that one draftee was "the kind of guy you'd like to see your wife marry." Now this award comes with an asterisk. If Merrill never really said it, and I get a nasty letter from ESPN, then I'm withdrawing the honor and putting the bloodhounds on your scent, Craig. If he really did, then it reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, and as you know, I'm always ready to lay a story on you.

It was about a million years ago and I had just covered a Mets game for the New York Post, or maybe it was the World-Telegram & Sun. Afterward I was having a drink in the press lounge with Phil Pepe of the Daily News and Mets announcer Ralph Kiner, who once was married to the Golden Girl of Tennis, Carol Fageros, and was the victim of a very costly divorce. Phil was reading aloud a news story about a guy named Bender in Boston who broke the world's record for a price paid for a single bottle of wine, $6,000 and change, for a bottle of 19th-century Chateau Lafite Rothschild (the record is now well into six figures).

"What would ever be the occasion for drinking a $6,000 bottle of wine?" Phil asked.

"Just one," Kiner said. "When your ex-wife remarries."

From John of Amityville, N.Y.: "Why did Texas Tech's pass-happy QB, B.J. Symons last until the seventh round of the draft?" Wow, that is a weird one, isn't it? I sure saw a lot of lesser talent go before he was picked. I think the league is just prejudiced against wide-open, run-'n-shoot quarterbacks, going back to notable busts such as David Klingler and Andre Ware. But my God, the guy really did put up some numbers, didn't he? I mean, 661 yards and six TDs against Ole Miss, 505 yards and eight TDs against Texas A&M. Whoosh and whoosh and away we go ... turn him loose, fellas, and watch out! Oddly enough, it was the Texans who took Symons, and they've got a highly rated young QB of their own in David Carr. All I can think of is that the league is leery of these shotgun babies once they have to take the snap from under center. Thanks for the kind words, John, and I got rid of the beard because my face kept itching.

The aforementioned Will of Arlington (You say you don't remember him? C'mon, he was the guy who was annoyed that I didn't include the Skins trade in my draft stuff) is looking for a good Riesling or Gewurztraminer under $25. And then he says he is partial to Alsatian wines, which are dear to my heart as well. Just remember that Alsatian Rieslings are fermented dry. They're not like the sweeties of Germany or those pissy little things from California. And Alsatian Gewurzes are heavy on the spice and light on sugar, which is the defining element in, again, the California offerings. Hugel and Trimbach are the big names in Alsace. Had a fine Hugel Gewurz the other day, and well within your price range. I used to love the Trimbach wines, but I've been disappointed in them for quite a while now. But their single-vineyard Rieslings, which are expensive, the Clos Ste. Hune and Cuvee Friedrich Emile, are very good indeed. For rich, full bodied Alsatian wines, my two favorites are Domaine Weinbach and Zind Humbrecht, and for a sparkler, I really like the Cremant from Pierre Sparr. Thanks for your kind comments about the Flamer.

I appreciate the nice letters about my Pat Tillman piece, which would be the ones from Dan of Honolulu; John of Chicago via the burgh, which is Pittsburgh; and Steve of Seattle, whose highly emotional reaction to the news of his death matched my own. Andy of Columbus, Ohio, suggests Hall of Fame enshrinement for Pat. A nice thought, but it wouldn't work because there are other players who also died in service to their country, some of them just bit players, and you can't enshrine them all. No, I think a special wing, with special recognition for players such as Tillman, would be the best thing.

John of Chicago via the burgh thinks the Steelers' Tommy Maddox was the worst starting QB in the league last year (How many Atlanta games did you see?), and wonders what are the chances that Pittsburgh will start Charlie Batch and then ease Big Ben Roethlisberger in sometime around mid-season? I don't think this will happen. Maybe Ben will get his shot if the season's going in the dumper, maybe he'll see some spot duty in the regular course of things, but I can't really see Maddox getting benched for Batch.

From Phil of Phoenix, hometown of the lady whose picture adorns this column: "Does a player who spent most of his career on the same team have a better chance of getting into the Hall of Fame than a player who moved a lot?" The inclination is to say a quick no, but knowing the selectors as I do, I think there's a tendency by the traditionalists to reward continual service. His second question expresses puzzlement at K.C. drafting a tight end in the second round. Well, I criticized the choice in my draft wrap-up piece, but there's a body of thinking that believes that if a player represents really good value at the spot in the draft, you take him, even though the need really isn't there.

Joe B. of Kennesaw, Ga., takes me to task for writing that some of the wideouts would give their team "instant help," when most of history's highly drafted WRs really didn't. "Are the first-rounders this year that much better, or were you just hitting the ol' cliché machine?" he asks. Both, and I like the way you phrased it. It's a good crop, and that stupid line of mine was the product of not enough sleep.

Now that he has me on the ropes, Joe B., lacking the killer instinct, lets me slip away with some philosophical observations on the Packers' draft strategy. He doesn't like the fact that they lean toward physical specimens, "upside potential" guys, rather than proven performers. Yeah, I'll go along with that. It's why I awarded them the old half moon in the grade dept.

Michael of Southfield (Detroit) wants to take me up on my bet offer (Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald of the Cards in a most-receptions parlay against any twosome you can name), and his guys are Lions, naturally, Roy Williams and Charles Rogers. Sure I'll take the bet. What are we going for? Coin of the realm? A bottle or two of good wine? Sides of beef? Just name it, and e-mail your preference to Andrew P., who books the action for serious players at 135 W. 50th St.

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Not one time did I hear an official medical report or something of that nature to let me know Kurt Warner is out whack or his "wacking hand" . In any event, could be because the NFL isn't necessarily obligated to report it to the media and as long as the original report was filed during the season, they don't have to redo it just 'cause someone asked.

Warner must be hurting, because that is exactly what I saw (fumbles, poor passes on wide open receivers and bobbles during his ball handling -all the while I am thinking, it muse be his thumb still (or maybe even worse).

Bulger deserves to be right where he is and Warner either wait out the healing process (at least Martz gave him time) or he just pack it up. Well now the Rams have made up THEIR minds and he can't go back, because they'll have a younger stable of development QB's, since Bulger's so far along - like NE and now Dallas. (Carter's started AND played in a playoff and be no worse off than most 1st time QB's that went that far in their 2nd season at the helm. Henson, thus has an advantage over Manning, because he can wait, as long as Carter's still moving the offense to Parcell's satisfaction, but the better passer and play caller may be Henson).

This could have been true of Bulger over Warner,but because Warner was so insistant on rushing his stats, he created his own demise.

In 1992, Mark Rypien was faced with the choice of letting Coach Gibbs know, he couldn't go on with the sore thumb, and Stan Humphries would be QB'ing the Skins until he completly healed. Well come playoff time and we got into our second Playoff game with SF49ers, in the mud and our defense was really slowing Steve Young and Rice down, with Green doing his best! Ryp's passes were falling and sloshing in the mud, with Monk and Clark waving their hands. It was sad. Ryp had a lot of pride and Coach Gibbs believed him when he apparently gave the green light to play. No man should sacrifrice the mission based on his pride, but often in sports, you want to believe the guy and he or she often believes so much in themselves, it gets foolish. It happens even to our favorites.

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The Skins? Nope, can't help you there because the basic trade was player for player and the draft choice was a throw in. I have written, though, that I loved the deal they made. OK, what the hell, to be generous, I'll raise them to B- over C+ because I think Portis will really light it up for them.

Okay, who kidnapped Dr. Z(ero) and replaced him with a completely objective person?

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