LONGSHOTS: The mail bag’s open for business
by Dave Long
Time to go to the mail bag to hear what inquiring minds want to know about what’s happening in football as the NFL season opens.
Dear Dave: If the Steelers win it all in ’09, are they the team of the decade over the Patriots? Bill Cow, Herr Blvd., Kordell Stewart, N.M.
Dear Bill: You know how the above-the-Tarrier-Line crowd is — somebody does something good today and suddenly they’re the greatest ever, even when they still have 16 majors left to catch Jack Nicklaus as Tiger was thought of after winning just his second major. So they’ll remember the last two and forget about all that the Pats did. For my money the only way they can get that crown is to blast the Pats head to head in the playoffs and a blow-out win in the Super Bowl. Otherwise the Pats have all the tie-breakers — like three Super Bowls, the 16-0 season and another (losing) trip to the Super Bowl, the two longest winning streaks in league history, a better overall win-loss record in the decade than the Steelers, no under-.500 seasons (Pitt has one), surviving the loss of Tom Brady and still going 11-5 and, oh by the way Steelers fans, they are 2-0 in head-to-head playoff games over Pitt. Of course winning like that is kind of like figure skating, where the judges decide it. A better way to do it would be to win the Super Bowl in the decade’s final year and be the team that knocks the Steelers out of the playoffs.
Dear Dave: What do you think of Plaxico Burress getting two years in the pen for the gun incident in the night club? (just call me) Tiny, Cell Block D, Sing Sing Correctional Institution.
Dear ... OK ... (gulp!) ... Tiny: It probably didn’t please my friends at the NRA or that guy from Dover who was packing heat at the Obama health care reform meeting/rally in Portsmouth a while back much, but I’m OK with it. Just wish it had happened 18 months earlier. That would have meant he and Ellis Hobbs never would have met on that faithful day.
Hey Dave: Do you think Richard Seymour still has his fastball and what do you think the long- and short-term impact of the trade will be? Ben Davidson, 1960 Raydar Way, Hells Angel, Calif.
Dear Ben: He still brings heat, but in the low 90s, not 98 like he used to. In the short term, I’ll be surprised if they’re better without him. But since the first-round pick from Oakland won’t have any impact for two years minimum, the coaches must think he’s not dominant as he once was and his production can be approximated by committee. With that conclusion reached, Coach B went the Branch Rickey route and traded him a year early rather than a year too late to get the best value back. That remains to be seen, but Coach B sees him every day so they may know something we don’t. But if I had to bet – they’ll suffer growing pains before that takes place, if it does at all this year. As for the long term — this was a money thing that came down to him or Vince Wilfork and they reasoned finding a high-level nose guard to play in the 3-4 is tougher than a defensive end. So it could mean Wilfork will be resigned. Second — the trade was with the Raiders, who own the record for most consecutive seasons with double-digit losses, so they’ve got a good shot at a Top 10 pick. The only times Belichick’s had one he took Seymour and Jerod Mayo, so his track records pretty good.
Dear Dave: What do you think about Bill Belichick sending a guy who had played his heart out for him as a vital cog on three Super Bowl winners to the NFL’s version of Siberia as he did with Richard Seymour? Mike Fraybill, 50 Banished St., Outoftown, Missouri
Dear Mike: I know there’s no crying in football and it’s a “what have you done for me lately” business — but I still hate it. I’d like to think sending warrior players like Seymour and Mike Vrabel — who epitomized what’s come to be known as the Patriots way — deserve better than to be dumped in rebuilding loserville places like KC and Oakland. I get there’s a fine line between watching out for a guy and hurting your team — like sending Seymour to a rival like the Jets or a Super Bowl contender like the Giants and the need to maximize return on your investment in players. But they, along with the likes of Tom Brady, Tedy Bruschi and a few others, earn better treatment at the end. Teams and fans ask players to take the hometown discount all the time and when they don’t fans get all over people like Johnny Damon. Well, it should work both ways and taking a little less for Vrabel and Seymour and sending them to a decent place is a team version of the hometown discount.
Dear Dave: Of all the moves Coach B has made as Patriot GM, which do you think was his biggest mistake? Cleo Eppstine, Boston, Mass.
Dear Cleo: Letting Ty Law walk — no question. Even though they went on to win the 2004 Super Bowl, the secondary and the defense have never been the same. He got lulled into believing he could be replaced — but he never has done it and it’s impacted both the pass defense and pass rush, because they have had to double team and play zone much more without anyone back there with the ability to shut guys down one on one.
Dear Dave: Do you see the Patriots moving Richard Seymour as the kind of preemptive move the Celtics of the ’80s should have done as the Big Three got near their ends? Pervis L. Ahsin, #1 Street, Louisville, Kentucky
Dear Pervis: A lot of people last week cited letting the big three get old before retiring or leaving the team as the reason why they spent 20 years in the wilderness of mediocrity. To some extent it’s true, but there’s more to the story. First, they got a new owner in Paul Gaston who understood the business only in terms of preserving the value of the asset — he was clueless for putting the pieces together to build a winning organization. Second, Red basically stepped down, putting the team first in the hands of Dave Gavitt, then ML Carr and finally Rick Pitino, so he wasn’t there to work his magic. And finally, if Len Bias and Reggie Lewis hadn’t died the story probably would have been different, I suspect. And not just because they were good, but also because with Bias on board the guard-poor team wouldn’t have needed Michael Smith, and the next guy taken after him in the ’89 draft was Tim Hardaway. Not that answers your question, but it let me get a little off my chest. With regard to your question the answer is yes.
Dave Long can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He hosts Dave Long and Company from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday on WGAM – The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.