Archive for December, 2009

Dec
30

Barney, It’s Not

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I knew Cobo Arena was a throwback place, but I had no idea.

The folks from across the pond in the U.K. are transforming Cobo into prehistoric Earth, thanks to their “Walking with Dinosaurs” show, playing downtown now thru Sunday.

I managed to get to opening night last night with my 16-year-old daughter while mom sat home. The good people at Olympia Entertainment were only able to provide me with two review tickets for opening night, not three, but it’s still much appreciated.

Especially since they put on such a fantastic show.

“Walking” is a 90-minute romp through the hundreds of millions of years when dinosaurs roamed this planet. The show is narrated by a modern day “paleontologist” who, in full gear, guides you through the various stages of the dinosaurs’ existence. He’s on stage with wireless mike/headset, energetically explaining what it is that you’re experiencing.

And it’s quite a sight.

The dinosaurs—some mechanical, some manned by people inside—are every bit as realistic-looking as anything you’ve seen in the “Jurassic Park” flicks. And some of them are VERY big.

But the show starts with the very small—hatching eggs from which peek out babies who are gyrating and bobbing and weaving like newborn chicks. But alas, as the narrator points out, there were predators from the get go, and one of the babies isn’t so lucky; he/she is carted off in the mouth of a hungry adult. All while the Cobo Arena crowd went “Awwww!” in unison.

We’re treated to conflicts and territorial fights. Inflatable “vegetation” sprouts from the sidelines.

The main event is, of course, the appearance of a gigantic T-Rex, who arrives when her offspring is under attack.

The roaring is loud, the sound effects—especially when rain and fire are depicted—are spot on, and our narrator/guide comes off very credible and likable.

The show pauses after about 35 minutes for a 20-minute intermission, then gets rolling again for another 40+ minutes.

It’s one of those rarities nowadays: wholesome family entertainment, performed live. The dinosaurs, while realistic, aren’t so terrifying that youngsters will have nightmares. At least, I don’t think so.

The tails sway and if you sit up close like we did, you almost feel like you have to duck at times.

Personally, I think I got more of a kick out of watching our daughter, who’s been wanting to see “Walking” for over a year, enjoy the show than I did anything else.

Eventually, though, the narrator talks about the comet that hits Earth, and you know that the end is near—for the dinosaurs, and for “Walking.”

All in all, “Walking” was a neat way to spend 100 minutes downtown, in venerable Cobo, where today’s mayor used to make his living, back in the day.

Categories : Enotes, Entertainment
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We’re in the thick of baseball’s Hot Stove League right now, and I must say, I love the Tigers’ chances in 2010.

Yes sir, I think they’ll do just fine. All they have to do is have every starter pitch a complete game every outing and oh yeah, hold the other guys to no more than two runs per pop.

That’s all.

Since the curtain closed on their end-of-the-season pratfall, the Tigers have lost their starting second baseman and No. 2 hitter, their starting center fielder and leadoff hitter, their set-up man in the bullpen, and their closer. And I hear Paws is in talks to sign with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Two years ago the Tigers were supposed to win 110 games and score ten times that many runs. Their batting order was the only one in baseball with an Upper Division and Lower Division Murderers’ Row. They were going to make a mess of the Central Division and laugh at the rest of the league.

Then they started playing the games and after an 0-7 start the team was practically eliminated from contention.

The reverse is true for 2010. The Tigers would appear to be lucky to score half of 1,000 runs, with their lineup that rivals Swiss cheese in the holes department.

The Tigers apparently mean to start a rookie in CF (newly-acquired Austin Jackson), a rookie at 2B (soon-to-be-promoted Scott Sizemore), and a bunch of .230 hitters. And Miguel Cabrera.

One look at the Tigers’ offense and it’s the fans who should be driven to drink, not the cleanup hitter.

I don’t play the stock market, but I might want a piece of Marlboro stock. Manager Jim Leyland, all by himself, will keep that company in business.

But here’s the rub. The Central Division, save for the Minnesota Twins, is filled with teams who bob up and down more than a buoy during a water skiing show.

Except for the Twins, who always seem to contend despite their warts, the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, and the Tigers take turns confounding the experts. If they’re supposed to be good, they stink. And vice-versa. Only the lovable Kansas City Royals can you chisel in for a bad season.

It looks bad for the Tigers now, I realize that. They have a bona fide superstar in Cabrera batting fourth, only he won’t seem to have much to clean up. He might lead the majors in 2010 in 400-foot solo home runs.

There’s an aging Magglio Ordonez, who you just pray didn’t use up what was left in him during the final couple months of 2009. There’s Carlos Guillen, who ends up on the disabled list more than eggs on a grocery list. There’s Brandon Inge, God bless him, who is a gamer and is gutsy and a great guy and when the dust settles he’s hit .230 again.

There’s Adam Everett, who is a throwback to the days of the good field, no hit shortstop. Too bad he’s not a throwback to the days of the good field, good hit shortstop era that came just after that.

There’s Ramon Santiago, who the Tigers have been treating like the 14-year-old kid who just can’t be trusted to stay home alone for any length of time.

There’s Gerald Laird at catcher, who has a great arm but a limp noodle as a bat. He’s another of those nice .230 guys.

“Spahn and Sain and pray for rain,” used to be the mantra for the old Boston Braves teams when it came to their starting rotation.

How about this for the 2010 Tigers?

“JV and Rick and we’re in trouble if it doesn’t rain a lick.”

OK, so it’s not as eloquent, but you get the idea.

And my apologies to new Tiger Max Scherzer, who might be a good third man in the rotation, if the team’s luck holds out.

Ahh, luck. That fickle lady.

There might be hope for the Tigers, after all. The Twins aren’t playing in the Metrodome in 2010, for starters.

Hey, it’s better than nothing.

Categories : Baseball, Detroit Tigers
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Put away the controllers and XBoxes and Playstations! We talked sports games last night—tabletop, board-game style—with Keith Avallone, owner of a website called www.plaay.com. At Keith’s site, you’ll find simulations of everything from roller derby to indoor lacrosse to, soon, hockey. That was our guest segment on “The Knee Jerks, the weekly gabfest I co-host on Blog Talk Radio with Big Al Beaton, who’s rapidly beginning his own Internet writing empire.

After talking “old school” sports gaming with Keith, Al and I roasted the Lions (as usual), and wondered whether Drew Stanton has a future in the NFL—with the Lions or anyone else.

We also blistered the Free Press and its decision to run an “All Decade” team for the Lions, with such notables as Tony Semple, Joey Harrington, and Todd Lyght on it. The All Decade coach was Steve Mariucci! Oy vay!

You also might want to hear my last rant of 2009—a 15-minute rampage on the Indy Colts and their decision to bench Peyton Manning on Sunday. It’s among my best, if I do say so myself!

Al included himself, indirectly, in his pick of “Jerk of the Week.”

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, for updates on scheduled guests, time changes, etc.

Upcoming guests/topics:

Jan. 4: Big Ten basketball preview (OR January 11)
You can listen to the episode by clicking below!


Categories : Greg on the radio
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Dec
28

Sorry Charlie

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If I was Charlie Sheen, and I was allowed to start making phone calls again, I’d place one to Robert Downey, Jr.

The actor Sheen is in trouble again. With a girl, again. And this time it’s a tad serious. Charlie was arrested on Christmas Day due to a domestic disturbance, and there are reports that a knife was involved.

The alleged victim is thought to be Sheen’s wife, Brooke Mueller, though that’s not been confirmed.

The star of the hit CBS television sitcom “Two and a Half Men” was arrested Friday in the ski resort of Aspen, Colorado, on suspicion of second-degree assault and menacing—both felony offenses—and a misdemeanor count of criminal mischief.

The celebrity gossip website TMZ.com is reporting that Mueller was drunk at the time, and that she initially had told police that Sheen threatened her with a knife but later recanted much of her story.

Knife or no knife, Sheen has been one of those “Hollywood bad boys” for too long now. His romps with girls who are not his significant other are part of his lore.

I mention Downey because, even though Robert’s troubles were with drugs and alcohol, he nonetheless overcame them and got his life—and his career—back on track. Downey narrowly avoided becoming yet another cautionary tale in the entertainment industry. Now he’s making one successful movie after the other, and he’s wearing more than just orange jumpsuits.

Sheen is marvelously talented, too, though he basically plays himself in “Two and a Half Men”—a womanizing guy named, um, Charlie. But that’s a bad example of his acting skills. I’ve always found Charlie Sheen to be the most talented of Martin Sheen’s sons, by far. To some, that may not be saying much, but Emilio Estevez has had his moments.

If I was Charlie Sheen, I’d give Downey a call and ask him how he was able to pull himself out of the abyss and get the ship turned around. For no one had one foot in the career grave as far as Robert Downey Jr. had it at times in his life. Not even close. Downey was one crack pipe toke away from complete oblivion.

Sheen was released from jail Friday night on $8,500 bail. A decision about charges is unlikely to be made before February 8, when Sheen is due back in court in Aspen.

Sheen, 44, and Mueller, 32, married in May 2008 and had twin sons in April 2009.

There are precious few stories of triumph in Hollywood—the kind that involve personal rectifying. Sheen has a chance to be one of those, if he has it in him.

Categories : Enotes, Entertainment
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Dec
28

Stanton Simply Awful in First NFL Start

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OK, so you saw Drew Stanton. Happy now? Can we move on?

If Stanton remains with the Lions as the No. 2 man behind Matthew Stafford, let’s all chip in and provide Matthew with the best medical care available—and maybe we can raise enough dough to buy some offensive linemen, too.

Stanton was the prime suspect in the Lions’ 20-6 loss to the 49ers in the Bay Area on Sunday. He was the leader of the gang that came in and stole whatever chances the Lions had of winning.

In the season of giving, Stanton giveth, alright—to the 49ers. And in doing so, Stanton taketh away from his own guys.

Stanton fumbled. He threw three interceptions, the last of which was as hideous a thing as you’ll ever see on a football field. Finally, he was benched, his head hanging in abject defeat.

Stanton made his first career start yesterday, and if he was a Broadway show he would have closed after one night. It was the worst debut since the Italian Army in WWI.

This is who everyone clamored for?

They say the most popular QB in the NFL is often the guy who’s not playing. So I guess that makes Patrick Ramsey, a Lion for less than 72 hours, the apple of every Lions fan’s eye right now.

Stanton has wallowed as a Lion ever since being drafted by his hometown team in 2007. Some of us, present company included, thought he’s been getting a raw deal for three seasons now. Maybe he deserved it.

Stanton’s from Farmington Hills—the residents there are disavowing any knowledge of him—and he attended Michigan State University, which is no doubt this morning expunging all record of him ever playing as a Spartan.

Stanton was so bad on Sunday that he even made Daunte Culpepper a sight for sore eyes, when the latter entered the game with a tad over six minutes remaining. It was moments after Stanton threw maybe the worst interception in the history of pro football—and I’m not exaggerating AT ALL—a givesy-backsy one play after SF’s Frank Gore fumbled and gave the Lions the ball at the 49er 29.

Gore fumbled and the Lions, with a quick score, would have been within 10 points. Well, it would have been interesting, anyway. So Stanton does a play-action, has all the time in the world to set himself and plant his feet and do all those other mechanical things quarterbacks do, and he lasered one—right into the chest of Dre Bly, of all people.

It was like the Lions found a $20 bill in their other pair of pants and Stanton set fire to it immediately.

Stanton had a QB rating of 31.9, and even though I have no idea how that’s computed, I know that it doesn’t get much lower than that. I think you can play Electric Football and have your QB post a better rating.

OK, so he’s still a rookie, for all intents and purposes. He’s rusty. His confidence was probably shot to hell.

But even given all those built-in excuses, Stanton under achieved. He proved he’s not ready to seize the moment. And, in the process, he gave team coaches and management a big, fat opportunity to say, “I TOLD you he couldn’t play!”

So dump him then. Get someone else. Stafford can’t possibly stay healthy for 16 games, given the line he plays behind and his sense of recklessness on the field. So the Lions will need someone who can step in and doesn’t have bubbles coming out of his pants and a big red nose and a fright wig and who is wearing size 34 shoes.

Stanton can’t play at all. Culpepper can’t play anymore. Ramsey never could play in the NFL. The Lions have Matthew Stafford and a black hole.

Am I being too hard on Stanton? I don’t know; was the United States too hard on the Japanese after Pearl Harbor? Was Elin Nordegren too hard on Tiger Woods?

My apologies to Culpepper, by the way. Daunte, I apologize for actually thinking that Drew Stanton gave the Lions a better chance to win than you. I stand corrected. Neither of you gives the Lions a chance to win.

There—I feel better now.

The Lions have one game left, and I suppose they’ll have to start a quarterback in it. Wouldn’t you love to be coach Jim Schwartz? He’s hungry, and when he opens up the fridge all he sees is moldy cheese and something green and gooey under plastic wrap.

Quick—someone give Schwartzie Scott Mitchell’s phone number.

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Well, how do you like the rest of the NHL? They’re showing their true character, these teams.

Look what they’re doing to the Detroit Red Wings these days.

Someone must have hung a sign outside Joe Louis Arena: “Free licks! Get ‘em in—limited time offer.”

The Joe used to be a House of Horrors for opponents. You flew into Detroit, got your requisite butt kicking, and moved on. They weren’t hockey games, they were wakes.

The Red Wings might stumble or lose interest enough to let five or six games, total, slide into the “L” column in any given season at JLA. They toyed with opponents, like an ape with a piece of Samsonite.

Now everyone is coming into Detroit and winning hockey games, like it’s part of a new world order. Even Florida and Atlanta have done it this season, and they win in Detroit once a decade.

The Red Wings are being treated shabbily on the road, too. It used to be that when the Red Wings came to town, you bought a ticket to see your team play the role of the Washington Generals to the Detroit Globetrotters. And you enjoyed it. The Red Wings were so special, it was an honor to see your team get clocked by them.

But look at what the league has the gall to do nowadays.

First they strip the Red Wings of their key goal scorers via free agency, in the summertime, then conspire with the hockey gods to rain injury and pestilence on them during the season. Finally, they’re acting like vultures, picking at the Winged Wheel carcass.

These are the Detroit Red Wings, folks. A little respect, please!

You don’t treat the Red Wings like this. These are the Popes of hockey. They’re practically royalty. You wouldn’t invite the Queen of England over and let the dog play with her crown, would you?

This is disgraceful, what’s going on in the NHL this season? I want to lodge a complaint.

All you teams are playing the Red Wings brave now, aren’t you? It’s like Jerry Quarry having a shot at Muhammad Ali with one of Muhammad’s arms tied behind his back.

They’re even shutting the Red Wings out now, which used to happen only during leap years or something. Five times the Red Wings have been blanked, and twice it’s happened two games in a row.

Of course, you knew team scoring would be down, seeing as the Red Wings lost a bajillion goals vis-à-vis players traipsing to other cities to play hockey in the offseason. It was the biggest mass exodus since the Exodus.

Players don’t leave Detroit to play hockey elsewhere, as a rule, unless they’ve been shipped out of town. But the Red Wings lost Marian Hossa, Mikael Samuelsson, Tomas Kopecky, and Jiri Hudler off last season’s Stanley Cup Finals roster. Even the backup goalie, Ty Conklin, skipped town.

OK, so the economics of hockey dictate that you just can’t keep all of your good players. Fine. But what about all of the injuries?

The Red Wings have been hit so hard by injuries that the Detroit Medical Center opened a kiosk behind Section 212 at The Joe. The first thing you do when you enter the Red Wings dressing room is scrub up.

As far as injury bugs go, the Red Wings are dealing with a humdinger of a cockroach. I’ve seen flies drop with less frequency than Red Wings players this season. Mike Babcock isn’t coaching the Red Wings, he’s trying to keep them animated. The best shot on the team is cortisone.

But does the rest of the NHL care?

I thought hockey players were the kindest, most down-to-Earth of all the professional athletes. Turns out they have a mean streak of a serial killer and are as opportunistic as a personal injury lawyer. I’m surprised at them—taking advantage of the league’s First Family like this.

This is kicking a team when it’s down—and they’re wearing skates while they’re doing it.

The Red Wings have a record of 18-14-5, which is really 18-19. They score about 2.6 goals a game. The Red Wings of old would have 2.6 goals before the game was 29.5 minutes old.

The Chicago Blackhawks recently played the Red Wings twice in four days, and the Hawks treated the Wings like Rodney Dangerfield. Normally, a home-and-home series between the two teams would be just another chance for the Red Wings to remind the young Blackhawks who was the Stanley Cup-contending team and who was the smart aleck kid.

The Blackhawks skunked the Red Wings twice, by identical 3-0 scores. It didn’t matter that the Red Wings were hurt, depleted, and miserable. This is pro sports; the next team that feels sorry for you will be the first.

“They’re just better than we are right now,” Babcock said of the Blackhawks after the second whitewashing.

And healthier, and younger, and more confident.

The Red Wings haven’t been getting much sympathy around the league. It’s open season on them now, and even the 98-pound weaklings have been getting their shots in. The Red Wings have been league bullies for years, and now it’s their turn to get their lunch money taken by force.

What a crazy, mixed up hockey season this is. The Phoenix Coyotes, practically wards of the league—a team that Wayne Gretzky didn’t even want a part of—are battling for supremacy in their division. The defending Cup champs play in the Eastern Conference. Now THAT’S something.

And the Detroit Red Wings are being defiled like a cheap floozy in Times Square.

But check back in May. That’s only five months away in normal time, but in the NHL that may as well be a galaxy far, far away.

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‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the NHL, not a creature was stirring.

Do you hear that sound? The sound of silence?

If you want to hear anything in any NHL arena on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, first you’ll have to break into the joint. Then, having succeeded, you won’t find a soul.

For two days, the sticks stay untaped. The skates stay hung on their hooks. The pucks stay in the freezer. There might as well be a sign that says, “No morning skate to-day.”

The National Hockey League doesn’t do much right, so when they do, it’s only fair to blare it. The appearance of “NHL,” “good,” and “decision” in the same sentence that doesn’t also include “not a” is up there with “Man listens to wife,” so this is big doings.

The NHL, bless their frozen souls, outlaw their own game on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

The players are ordered to stay away from “the building.” No games, no practices. If one has the urge to throw a hip check, then it’s to be done to the kids at home, or the family dog.

For two days, not only are the goalies pulled, but so is everyone else. The only sweater worn is a garish holiday one, around the fire at home.

Good for the pucksters. They got one right for a change.

I wish other sports would follow suit.

The NBA has had a fetish for playing games on Christmas Day for decades. The Red Wings used to do it, too, in the 1960s, but then the players and their wives protested and the game was dropped from the schedule.

Do we need sports on Christmas? Are we so ravenous? Is our hunger so insatiable?

The NHL, by giving its teams Eve and Day off, are also saying to their fans, indirectly, “And you should have better things to do, too.”

And we should.

The NBA ought to listen, but I doubt they will. Starting at noon ET today, the TV will be filled with NBA games—at least on ABC and ESPN—until past midnight. A quintuple-header—five games, with start times of 12, 2:30, 5:00, 8:00, and 10:30 p.m.

Why?

Can’t we shut it off for a day and maybe say a few words to our families, even if we don’t care for them all that much?

Not to pick on the NBA, because college football serves up Bowl games on Christmas, like it’s just another day on the calendar. The movie theaters swing open their doors, too. And that’s worse, because that requires leaving the house. Isn’t being able to see a movie 364 days a year enough?

Yeah, it’s a free country, with free enterprise. I get it. If mom and pop want to open on Christmas Day, then that’s their prerogative.

But isn’t it refreshing that the NHL has a two day moratorium, enabling players and coaches and arena workers to be with their families? Is that so much to ask, really?

Yet in today’s economy, I can see where it might be attractive for a concession worker to pull in a Christmas Day shift at double time pay. Point taken. But do you really think that those folks have an option?

Pretty much the same people work the same jobs at every game in any given arena. If the schedule says “game,” then they’re expected to be there. Maybe holiday pay isn’t that important to everyone.

I’m probably going to be lonely on this one. I can hear it now.

“Christmas Day games are wildly popular! Who are you to take away our sports? If you have a problem, then don’t watch.”

Just thought I’d save you some time.

OK, fine. You’re right; not everyone celebrates Christmas, number one. Two, not everyone has a warm and fuzzy family situation that they can’t wait to enjoy.

All I’m saying is, I think it’s great that the NHL locks their doors on the 24th and 25th. Mainly because it’s just so anti the norm. Again, refreshing.

And yes, I will take your advice. I won’t watch a minute of the NBA today. I plan on going 0-for-5. Gonna give myself a collar.

I’ll make it up some other time, believe me.

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Dec
24

Cherry on Top?

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John Cherry is too big to be lugged around by coattails. He needs to make the trek on his own.

Cherry holds the position of Lieutenant Governor of Michigan, which is like being Vice President of the United States, only much, much worse. You could join the Witness Protection Program and have more notoriety.

Yet from this role, Cherry hopes to be governor. He aims to follow his boss, Jenny Granholm, into the big chair in Lansing. There are naysayers. Skeptics. Derisive comments are being made.

And that’s from within his own party.

There are serious concerns within the Democratic camp whether Cherry is a strong enough candidate to fend off the higher profile Republicans who are about to duke it out for the GOP nomination, come next November.

Those concerns are well-founded, me thinks.

But don’t come crying to me. I made a perfectly good suggestion a couple months or so ago, but heaven forbid anyone listen.

Yet all might not be lost.

I also told the story, in this space, of John Engler, and how his gubernatorial hopes seemed folly in 1990, until I unwittingly helped screw things up for my man Jim Blanchard.

Granholm, despite two terms, hasn’t grown coattails long enough, or strong enough, for someone like Cherry—or any lieutenant governor, for that matter—to ride them to victory without some help.

And since when do lieutenant governors ascend to governor in Michigan?


John Cherry: The Man Who Would Be Governor?
Even the Obama Administration has some doubts about Cherry, and has reportedly whispered them to the Dem leaders in Michigan, a state which, if it went red, could be a bad omen for 2012.

But aside from my idea (hint: it’s Bob Ficano, in case you decided not to click on the above hyperlink), there really isn’t anyone else who seems to have the temerity or name recognition to get anyone excited.

Not that name recognition is always a good thing. Just ask Tiger Woods.

Andy Dillon, Michigan House Speaker, doesn’t have enough experience. Rumors are that U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow was even approached, at the behest of the Obama people, and she politely (I assume) declined.

John Cherry hasn’t done anything in eight years, though it’s not his fault. It’s the job he has. The party needs to brand him with some sort of accomplishment, even if it’s somewhat contrived. They need to point to Cherry and say, without him, such-and-such wouldn’t have happened.

And they have only a few months to do it.

If Granholm wasn’t term limited (don’t get me started), I think she would survive whomever the GOP ends up nominating, albeit barely. But it would absolutely be no cakewalk.

Ironically, the Democrats might be better served to point out the differences between Cherry and Granholm, as opposed to the similarities. That’s about as un-coattails-ish as you can get.

But there are eight months before the primary. As John Engler showed us, that’s practically an eternity. Kind of like his tenure as governor.

But that’s another column.

*****************

UPDATE (Jan. 8, 2010): Cherry dropped out of the governor’s race on January 4, 2010, citing an inability to raise enough funds. Later in the week, Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano announced that he would not seek the Democratic nomination, despite Cherry’s dropping out. House Speaker Andy Dillon appears to be the frontrunner, as of January 8, 2010.

Categories : Enotes, Politics
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Not to bring up the dead during this holiday season, but when Joey Harrington was in Detroit, struggling to become an NFL quarterback, the Lions organization didn’t do a lick to help him.

By his second season, the Lions tried to plug Joey into Steve Mariucci’s pattycake, West Coast offense, with garish results. Square peg, meet round hole.

But the most egregious thing the Lions did during Harrington’s formative years was something they didn’t do.

They never provided him with an honest-to-goodness, veteran NFL QB to help him along.

It wasn’t about the competition. Joey was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2002 draft. There should have been no illusions about whether he was the quarterback of the future—back then.

But all the Lions gave Harrington was a kid from Rutgers, Mike McMahon, and called it a day. They brought in Ty Detmer for a time, but that’s not really what I’m talking about here. They brought in Jeff Garcia in 2005, but Garcia was a Mariucci guy and still fancied himself a starter in the NFL. Plus, by 2005 Harrington was in his fourth season and he himself was halfway out the door in Detroit.

It may not have made one bit of difference, but we’ll never know whether his progression as an NFL quarterback would have been helped by the presence of a veteran backup who could have functioned as a mentor and sounding board.

What the Lions did was draft a blind mouse and gave him Mr. Magoo to work with.

Well, the Lions have a rare second opportunity to right a wrong. They can give Matthew Stafford someone to help him—and not Daunte Culpepper.

Not a guy who’s trying to audition for another job elsewhere. Not someone who’s done like dinner.

The Lions need to bring in a veteran who understands that his role is that of caddy and adjunct coach—not someone who thinks he can steal the starter’s job from Stafford.

I look around the league and I see someone like Mark Brunell, with the Redskins. Now that’s more like it.

In 1994, the Lions made a ferocious run toward the playoffs—but only after starter Scott Mitchell went down with an injury and veteran Dave Krieg took over. Krieg had one of the best stretches of his long career, and the Lions charged to the postseason.

So far, the Lions have provided Stafford—who’s only the franchise—with a self-serving Culpepper and a kid, Drew Stanton, whose confidence has been shot full of holes since being drafted by his hometown team.

Scott Linehan needs help, too. The offensive coordinator would be better served if he had a veteran guy who could take Stafford aside after practice and fill in any gaps created by the coaches.

There’s also the matter of just being in the NFL, period. Not only how to read defenses, but how to read life as a pro football player. How to carry yourself. How to handle not only the bull rush of a blitzing linebacker, but that of the media. Stuff like that.

Stafford’s the No. 1 guy in Detroit. There’s no debate about that. If things go according to plan, he’ll be a Lion for 10 years, at least. But those early years in the NFL are so key. It’s when habits—good and bad—are learned. It’s when confidence is built or destroyed forever.

Just ask Joey Harrington, if you can find him.

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Hockey took center ice, so to speak, last night on “The Knee Jerks, the weekly gabfest I co-host on Blog Talk Radio with Big Al Beaton, who’s rapidly beginning his own Internet writing empire.

We held our much anticipated NHL Central Roundtable, in which we hosted Bleacher Report writers from Chicago, Columbus, and Nashville. Our St. Louis guy had a conflict and couldn’t participate.

Joining us were Tab Bamford (Blackhawks), Ed Cmar (Blue Jackets), and Mark Willoughby (Predators). Each one of those guys were extremely knowledgeable and provided excellent analysis of their respective teams. We went a good 50 minutes and could easily have taken up the entire show time with that discussion.

But what would an episode of “The Knee Jerks” be without Al and me ripping on the Lions?

QB Daunte Culpepper was our target, with both of us agreeing that he should never take another snap in a Lions uniform. Al ranted about “moral victories” and I countered with one about fans who want the Lions to lose for “draft positioning.”

With the holiday approaching and it being a relatively quiet week around Detroit sports—and having discussed the Red Wings in the roundtable—we wrapped up a bit earlier than our usual two-hour allotment. Not before choosing our Jerks of the Week, of course!

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, for updates on scheduled guests, time changes, etc.

Upcoming guests/topics:

Dec. 28: Tabletop sports game creator and business owner Keith Avallone

Jan. 4: Big Ten basketball preview


You can listen to the episode by clicking below!


Categories : Greg on the radio
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