Sports Outside the Beltway

Kubiak: Domanick Davis Not Being Cut

Domanick Davis is not about to be released, at least according to his head coach.

Moving to debunk reports that tailback Domanick Davis could be released because of lingering knee problems that have kept him off the field for virtually all of training camp, Houston Texans first-year coach Gary Kubiak said there has been no discussion of cutting the leading rusher in franchise history, and said that the worst-case scenario was a season spent on the injured reserve list.

“The idea of cutting Domanick Davis has not even played a factor,” said Kubiak, who is clearly frustrated by Davis’ continuing absence, but not yet ready to give up on the three-year veteran. “I don’t know where that came from. The decision is strictly [whether] his knee is going to be healthy enough to play. If his knee is not healthy enough to play, if that is the decision that’s made about him, then he’s looking at [an injured reserve] season … The other choice has never been a factor.”

Now, granted, Kubiak would be obligated to say this, anyway, if the Texans were hoping to arrange a trade. But, given how unbelievably stupid cutting a star running back would be–especially after having just passed up Reggie Bush–I believe him.


Astros Sign Oswalt to 5-year, $73 million extension

It looks like Roy Oswalt is going to be an Astro for life, even though he’s having a mediocre season.

Roy Oswalt got a $73 million birthday present from the Houston Astros. The two-time 20-game winner agreed to a five-year, $73 million contract extension on his 29th birthday Tuesday, the biggest multiyear deal ever given to an Astros pitcher.

Oswalt, the MVP of the 2005 NL Championship Series, passed up a chance to become a free agent after the 2007 season and is now under Houston’s control through 2011. He is currently in the second year of a two-year, $16.9 million contract that pays him $11 million this season.

His new deal, which has a no-trade clause and an option for a sixth year, will pay Oswalt $13 million in each of the next two seasons and $14 million in 2009. He will get $15 million in 2010 and $16 million in 2011. The Astros hold a $16 million option for 2012 with a $2 million buyout. Or, Oswalt could opt out of that year and take a smaller payment.


The right-hander is 10-8 with a 3.25 ERA in 27 games this season. He is 93-47 in six seasons in Houston.

That’s 15.5 wins per season, which is impressive indeed in the era of five man rotations. And that translates to a little under one million per win if he keeps up that pace. Good work if you can get it!


J.P. Losman Named Buffalo’s Starting QB

J.P. Losman is going to get another shot at proving the Bills didn’t screw up big time letting Drew Bledsoe get away.

J.P. Losman was named the Buffalo Bills’ starting quarterback Tuesday, coming out on top following an offseason-long competition to reclaim the job he lost last year. Coach Dick Jauron made the announcement after practice, saying Losman had clearly performed best during training camp to earn the No. 1 job in a three-way competition that included journeyman veteran Kelly Holcomb and free-agent addition Craig Nall. “I told him he should feel good about it, he earned it,” said Jauron, shortly after he informed the quarterbacks of his decision.


He struggled as a first-time starter last season. He was awarded the job in February — a move that led the Bills to release veteran Drew Bledsoe. Losman’s status as No. 1 didn’t last long, benched in favor of Holcomb after opening the season 1-3. Holcomb went 2-2 in four starts before he was hurt in the second quarter against Kansas City, a game Losman rallied the Bills to a 14-3 win. Losman, however, started and lost Buffalo’s next four games and was replaced again by Holcomb, who went 1-2 to finish the season.

Holcomb had the better numbers, finishing with a higher completion percentage (67 percent to Losman’s 50) and quarterback rating (85.6 to 64.9), and had 10 touchdowns to Losman’s eight. Both threw eight interceptions.

Bledsoe will likely be looking pretty good by Week 4 or so.


Chad Pennington Named Jets No. 1 QB

It’s official: Chad Pennington will start at quarterback for the New York Jets.

The odds were stacked against Chad Pennington from the moment he felt the pain in his right shoulder more than 11 months ago. Could he possibly come back from a second major shoulder surgery? And if so, would he be anything close to the quarterback he once was?

With each painless and precise throw during this preseason, Pennington proved the doubters wrong. And on Tuesday, he stood in front of his locker smiling, moments after it was announced by coach Eric Mangini that Pennington will be the New York Jets’ starting quarterback.

“I wasn’t surprised at how everything went, but at the same time, I was more or less relieved because I didn’t know what to expect,” said Pennington, 10 months removed from his last rotator cuff surgery. “There were a lot of variables going on and a lot of different things that could happen.”

“I’m just focused like I’ve always been,” Pennington said. “Nothing’s changed as far my focus or preparation. I’m just excited to help this team win, really, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Pennington originally hurt the shoulder in 2004, when he missed three games, then returned for the end of the regular season and the playoffs. He had rotator cuff surgery, and was able to come back last season, but was injured in the third game when sacked on consecutive plays by Jacksonville on Sept. 25. Pennington again had surgery and missed the rest of the season, putting his playing future in doubt.

“He deserves all the credit, and more, because of all he’s gone through to get back to this point,” wide receiver Laveranues Coles said.

With Pennington’s status unclear heading into the season, the Jets acquired Patrick Ramsey from Washington and drafted Kellen Clemens in the second round out of Oregon. The three, along with Brooks Bollinger, were competing for the starting job. Pennington proved he was healthy early in camp and showed he could run the offense. Still, Mangini refused to commit to him until Tuesday.

“I’ve thought quite a bit about this,” Mangini said. “It’s become really clear to me he’s distinguished himself in the way I was looking for. He’s made great progress throughout the preseason, especially over the last couple weeks. That consistency I’ve been looking for has been there: his presence, his ability to move the team, his leadership. He’s done an outstanding job, and it’s clear to me he should be the starter — and he will be.”

Of course, when Patrick Ramsey is your backup, winning the starting job is just a little bit easier.


Parcells Using Belichick as Sounding Board

Matt Mosley reports that Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick have apparently patched up their frosty relationship.

Bill Parcells and his former defensive coordinator, Bill Belichick, have apparently put aside their differences and become pals again. Parcells said today that he’s been using Belichick as a “sounding board” and has made changes to his practice approach based on those conversations.

Interesting. The two made an excellent team and it’s good to see them communicating again. One presumes the advice giving is going in both directions.

UPDATE: More from AP.

Two longtime football coaches were talking this summer about the way things used to be, back when they worked together and really pushed their players. They lamented how much more coddling is done these days, especially in training camp. So they decided to do something about it. One said he was going back to the old way; the other said he’d do the same.

That might not seem like a remarkable tale, except that the conversation was between Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. And it was one of what’s becoming a routine series of calls between them.

“Hey, he’s a guy I think a lot of,” Parcells said Tuesday. “It’s a good sounding board, that’s all. I’m probably using him right now more than he’s using me.”

The two Bills haven’t talked about each other much since Belichick left Parcells and the New York Jets behind six years ago, dissolving a succession plan that was put in writing, ruining what many thought was more than a working relationship. Belichick has gone on to win three Super Bowls, one more than Parcells. If that alone didn’t rankle the Big Tuna, then talk of Belichick winning without Parcells but Parcells never winning without Belichick probably did.

Time apparently heals everything, as might the fact that Parcells’ son-in-law, Scott Pioli, is the vice president of player personnel for the New England Patriots. Whatever the reason, the lines of communication are open and the coaches who’ve combined to win 25 percent of the Super Bowls over the last two decades may even have each other on speed dial.

“I have talked to him say four, five times in the last month,” Parcells said. “We just talk. It doesn’t take long to get to the point. One of us has something to ask we just go right to it. I called the other day and I called him back the next morning to ask him another 30-second question about something that he was doing.”

Parcells said he’s bouncing off Belichick things like how many players at each position should make the 53-man roster. “He knows what my problems are,” Parcells said. “He knows the whole numbers on our defense with scheme and what do we have to keep here … offenses are similar, too. It’s someone to talk to about, ‘What are you going to do here?’ and ‘What are you thinking about there?”‘

One of their conversations earlier this summer was about practices. It was actually a question about Parcells’ practice routine this preseason that led to his disclosure of his renewed ties to Belichick. Belichick already had spoken Tuesday and isn’t scheduled to talk to reporters again until after a game Thursday night.

“I sat down with Bill Belichick this summer and we started talking about all this stuff we used to do,” Parcells said. “He says, ‘I used to get mad at you at the way you used to make us do this. Now I’m going to go do it.’ He reminded me of a couple of things that we used to do.” Parcells said that over the years, coaches have become so concerned about players not getting injured in preseason that they’ve forgotten the No. 1 objective: have players ready for the season. “Sometimes,” he said, “you forget that you have to coach them hard.”

The reminder seems to be working. Dallas is 3-0 for the first time since 1985 and New England is 2-1. The Cowboys have given up the fewest points in the NFL preseason, while the Patriots have scored the second-most points and allowed the third fewest. Sure, it’s only the preseason, but it’s a good indication their strategy is working — like in their days together with the New York Giants, Patriots and Jets.

“I’ve always run a pretty hard camp,” Parcells said. “But I’d say this year’s camp was harder.” It’s still going on, too. The Cowboys left California on Aug. 20, yet Parcells has retained a training-camp approach. For instance, there were two practices Tuesday. “It’s definitely the most challenging camp I’ve been a part of,” said right guard Marco Rivera, in his second season in Dallas and 11th in the NFL. “Coach keeps saying to us we’re battle-hardened because of this camp. It’s true. If we do the work here, the games are fun.”

Parcells also is planning to shake up his schedule during the season. Players on the fringe of the roster will get less work on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays — which means more snaps for veterans.

That’s actually part of a bigger change that involves scrapping the 21st century approach of “more shorter segments, quicker work, and then on to something else,” rotating the emphasis between the offense and defense. “I’m going back to where you’re going to have to stick it out,” Parcells said. “I just think that helps the mental toughness of your team. That’s what Bill and I really were talking about. He told me that’s what he was going to do. He asked me what I’ve been doing and I told him, ‘I’m doing the same thing as you.”‘

Pretty interesting. And it’s a reminder that, while coaches compete in a cutthroat business, they’re also part of a tiny fraternity. Not many men get to coach an NFL team, which means there are not a lot of people they can talk to.


Unitas Defined Quarterback Leadership

Len Pasquarelli believes Johnny Unitas might have been the best leader among all the great quarterbacks.

In the NFL, history has demonstrated, great leaders come in all sizes.

The three things they all have in common?

“A big heart, even bigger balls, and the biggest [work ethic],” said Art Donovan, the Hall of Fame defensive tackle from the old Baltimore Colts, and a man who played with some of the zaniest characters and many of the most elite high-character guys of his era. “That’s what sets the great leaders apart in any walk of life. In football, you’d better have ‘em all if you want guys to follow your lead.”

That triumvirate of convergent rare traits, of course, is most typically defined by, but hardly limited to, the quarterback position. In a sampling of dozens of football people over the past week — players, coaches, scouts and general managers, past and present — talking about critical leadership qualities inevitably led at some point in those conversations to a discussion of quarterbacks.

It is, by nature, the position that most demands the ability to lead and that also provides the most opportunities for doing so. Not surprisingly, the names most often mentioned as great quarterback leaders over a span of NFL eras — Joe Montana, Otto Graham, Dan Marino, Brett Favre, Bobby Layne, Norm Van Brocklin — were the names one might expect to be raised in any such forum.

And so was the man most often cited: Johnny Unitas.

In his excellent new biography, “Johnny U: The Life & Times of John Unitas,” which will be available in bookstores next month, author Tom Callahan deconstructs myth. He instead crafts the story of a man with relatively modest physical attributes but who was also imbued with natural leadership traits. Unitas might not have been the most charismatic figure, but as Donovan, his former Colts teammate noted, he possessed all three things you need to have others follow you.

This is something impossible to quantify. Certainly, you’d think 1963 Heisman winner and Naval Academy graduate Roger Staubach would be in the mix.


Police have no report of Carl Pavano’s auto accident

From WPBF 25

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Authorities don’t have any record of an August car accident in West Palm Beach involving New York Yankees pitcher Carl Pavano.

Pavano told the team the he was hurt when his car went through a puddle, spun out of control and hit a truck. He said he broke two ribs in the crash.

The Florida Highway Patrol said the accident may not have been reported to authorities. The West Palm Beach Police Department and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office have no record of it.

Pavano, a former Florida Marlin, hasn’t played in the major leagues since 2005 due to injuries. He’s scheduled for a medical checkup Tuesday, and remains on track to make his final rehabilitation start tomorrow for AAA Columbus at Durham.

Doing a Yahoo news search, I found this Newsday article.

Pavano said the car accident took place on the morning of Aug. 15, explaining that his car slid on a rainy road and crashed into a truck that was stopped at a stop sign.

He said he was not charged, and that no one called an ambulance. A spokesman for the West Palm Beach police department last night said the records department was closed because of the state of emergency issued for Tropical Storm Ernesto.

Here in South Florida, there are parts of a city that are incorporated and unincorporated. In the case of the former, West Palm Beach police would repsond. For the later, it would be the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

Don’t mind me if I am skeptical about Pavano’s story.

Pavano had to be treated for his injuries. A hospital will ask if the rib injury was related to a auto accident.

If answered yes, a report would be made to Pavano’s insurance company who would want a police report. Of course Pavano could have lied to the hospital.

Then there’s the matter of the other vehicle. The truck was parked at a stop sign, so I’m concluding another driver was present. With damage done to a car and injuries being suffered, I for one would want it reported to the police. Even if a person offered to pay my damages out of his pocket. If injuries are involved, and even if you’re in no way at fault, you want the police so to protect yourself from future legal trouble.

If the other driver was not present, by law Pavano would still have to report it to the police.

Based on the above facts, I don’t believe Pavano’s story.


Public service announcement curse claims third Saint

A much-seen emergency preparedness public service announcement which aired in the wake of Hurricane Katrina (and is still airing, at least around me) featured four members of the New Orleans Saints: head coach Jim Haslett, starting quarterback Aaron Brooks, and starting wide receivers Joe Horn and Donte Stallworth. The clip, which I can’t find on YouTube, appears to carry with it some sort of curse. First, Haslett got fired, which is nothing to be surprised at after a 3-13 season. Then Aaron Brooks signed a free agent contract with the Oakland Raiders, only to find himself on a roster with Jeff George, who hasn’t played football in five years.

Now today, the Saints traded Stallworth away to the Philadelphia Eagles for linebacker Mark Simoneau and a conditional 2007 draft pick. (The deal is still pending the results of physicals.)

Joe Horn should probably sleep with one eye open. Three of the four Saints featured in that PSA are no longer with the team.


Former MLB pitcher Jeff Reardon not guilty by insanity in jewelry store robbery

From the Sun-Sentinel

WEST PALM BEACH — A Palm Beach County circuit judge found former Major League Baseball pitcher Jeff Reardon not guilty by reason of insanity on Monday of robbing a jewelry store.

Reardon, who played in two World Series, was taking a dozen medications that impaired his judgment. Attorneys said Reardon was distraught over the 2004 death of a son and had been taking anti-depressants and mood stabilizers.

Defense attorney Mitch Beers, who used a voluntary intoxication defense, said the robbery episode, with Reardon’s “thank you” and “please” on the note, was like something out of a Woody Allen movie.

Two court-appointed psychiatrists, along with two defense psychiatrists, concluded there was no reasonable or logical explanation for Reardon to rob a jewelry store.

After Judge Stephen Rapp’s ruling was announced on Monday, Reardon said he was pleased and relieved. He had been worried about going to jail, he said.


Reardon is to return before Rapp in six months for a court-ordered review of his case.

My wife and I lost a son in 2003, so I partly sympathize with Reardon. I was very depressed(and angry) after Daniel’s death. I also took anti-depressants but never once thought about holding up a jewelry store. Instead I started blogging…….

Is that another form of insanity?

I do hope Reardon gets his life together.


Shout out from Goose

In response to a comment on his blog yesterday, Rick Gosselin mentioned me and linked this site:

I agree with several emailers — Ray Guy’s absence from Canton is puzzling indeed. Except that some voters remain reluctant to acknowledge kickers as football players. We’re honored to have national blogger James Joyner weigh in on Guy…

It’s an honor to be recognized by someone of Gosselin’s stature. As noted repeatedly on this site during coverage of the NFL draft and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Goose is a recent inductee into the sportswriter’s wing of the Hall and widely acknowledged as one of the very best journalists covering the League. He’s also a really nice guy, having taken the time to respond to my email inquiries several times over the years–including well before I had a blog.


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