First, my apologies. I did not file a Countdown last week. I was still recuperating from the Masters, when one of Angel Cabrera’s playoff shots bounced off two trees, a moose, a rooftop, a drain pipe, two Democrats (how did they get through the gates?) and then off the side of my head just before rolling into the hole, just as Bobby Jones envisioned.
Sometimes things don’t go as expected. Like NFL drafts. Early picks for splat. Late picks turn into Pro Bowlers. And whatever the Detroit Lions do usually ends up a punchline.
Which leads me to Matthew Stafford. Did you know Lions fans apparently don’t want him?
I dunno. Maybe they saw the Florida game.
Details follow. But first, a disclaimer: This Countdown is a tribute to Bruce Springsteen, who plays Philips Arena on Sunday. I’ve seen him countless times over the last 28 years. Really. I don’t count. Somehow, it makes me seem less obsessive.
Did I tell you I own three of his broken guitar strings?
It’s NFL draft week. So, as always, assume everything you hear is a lie. As Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said Tuesday: “I think the overriding theme in most draft rooms is how important being clandestine is. You just never want to play your hand.”
So in that sense, it’s not surprising the Detroit Lions have not yet made a public declaration about Matthew Stafford. But why suddenly all the hate? Lions fans at a function Monday chanted, “Don’t draft Stafford! Don’t draft Stafford!”
9. Your Own Worst Enemy
I’d be miserable if I was a Lions fan. For starters, that would mean living in Detroit. The Lions have had eight straight losing seasons. They were 0-16 last year. They’ve had so many draft blunders — Joey Harrington, Mike Williams, Charles Rogers, Terry Fair, Drew Stanton — you’d think Pete Babcock was hiding in their war room. So it probably wasn’t surprising Monday when the Lions unveiled their new logo and uniforms that their fans chanted, “Curry, Curry,” as in Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry. According to Detroit Free Press writer Nicholas Cotsonika, team president Tom Lewand tried to crack a joke: “I’m going to pretend that sounded like Barry,” as in Barry Sanders. The anti-Stafford chants followed.
Look, I understand the trepidation when it comes to drafting Stafford No. 1. He failed to come up in some big games. But I have a hard time seeing how Matthew Stafford throwing to Calvin Johnson doesn’t translate to success – even if it does make Georgia and Georgia Tech fans a bit queasy.
Overall, here’s the “duh” of the Falcons’ weekend: They’ll draft for defense. Dimitroff’s decision to part with Lawyer Milloy and Keith Brooking sent the message that the team needs to get younger and faster. (Milloy, by the way, has yet to be signed by another team, and he showed up as a “guest secondary coach” at the University of Washington’s spring game.) But mock drafts are all over the board. The most prevalent names of late have been Illinois cornerback Vontae Davis or Southern Cal linebacker Clay Matthews. But of NFL.com’s four experts, including former AJC staffer Steve Wyche, three have the Falcon taking Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew (the other: Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins. If your Dimitroff, you love the confusion. Dimitroff: “Some [mocks] are close. Some throw out players in the mix.” But we’re most interested in what we feel as a team.” Well. That didn’t give away too much.
After the Braves started the season 5-1, I’m sure I heard somebody on the radio talk about the playoffs, and winning the division, and possibly overthrowing Lichtenstein. But they’re 1-6 since, they just lost to the 1-10 Nationals, the remains of reliever Blaine Boyer were traded to St. Louis and catcher Brian McCann has blurred vision, which I’m pretty sure is a significant problem when part of your job description is catching every pitch. Wow. And it’s only April. Might want to grab some Dramamine before May. UPDATE: McCann is heeeeeeealed! A link to Carroll Rogers’ story.
The NHL playoffs are underway. Somewhere else. (Oh look! Transition!)
Thrashers general manager Don Waddell says he fully expects to be back with all of his powers intact. Silence from ownership seemingly confirms as much. OK, look. The team made a nice little run late in the season with some young players. But they still finished with the fourth-worst record in the NHL. They allowed the second-most goals. (Oh wait. That was an improvement. Never mind.) They’ve missed the playoffs in eight out of nine seasons. There’s a word that seems to have escaped some people: accountability. The franchise has a significant marketing problem. Results and marketing problems usually mandate change. But I guess that’s only when somebody cares.
Mentioned a while back I was going going to follow some celebrities on Twitter. Added Kim Kardashian, underground video star and I think still the girlfriend of Reggie Bush, just to see how many brain cells I could burn. She hasn’t disappointed. She has 408,888 followers, only slightly ahead of me. Among the recent “Twits,” are: “PLEASE HELP ME! I am so sunburned! I fell asleep with huge glasses on yesterday! This tan line is not ok!!!” And: “I’m in love with Britney Spears!!!” (hey, now!).
And then there’s this picture, which she too of herself on a recent typical Kim Kardashian day. Wonder if Reggie Bush has introduced her to a “Thighmaster.”
The first three games of the Hawks-Miami series are stretched ridiculously over seven days, as the NBA bows to the demands of television executives and their desires for the most weekend games possible. But if you’re counting dollars for the Hawks, you’re not complaining. The three days between Games 1 (Sunday) and 2 (Wednesday) means more time to sell tickets, which isn’t easy in a down economy. The Hawks have a hot product but a low season-ticket base. Coach Mike Woodson and players would love a sweep. But the accounting department wouldn’t mind a seven-game series and four home games.
Turner attorney Jim Lamberth called a jury’s recent award of $281 million to once potential Hawks and Thrashers owner David McDavid “drastically wrong” and “grossly excessive.” Just one question: If Turner attorneys didn’t spend so much time thumbing through a thesaurus to craft an argument, would they have done a better job in the original court case over the franchise sale? And speaking of “grossly excessive,” what do their billable hours amount to?
Jeff Schultz can be reached via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), Facebook, Tweeter (SchultzAJC) or carrier pigeon (make a right off 400).