This is what the most interesting trade in the NFL since
From Washington's perspective,
From Philadelphia's perspective, and I've written this a hundred times,
I like the trade for both teams. I like Reid trusting himself enough and having enough guts, as
I like Shanahan and GM
McNabb should be thankful and supremely motivated. Reid always said through this that he'd do right for McNabb, his first draft choice with the Eagles when he became coach in 1999, and he did. Reid told me last night -- and I believe him -- that he was sure McNabb would have played wherever he was traded, and the fact that he reportedly wouldn't have gone to Oakland and signed a long-term deal there "had nothing to do with this trade.'' But when you trade a quarterback to a team you'll play twice a year, the trading team is thinking: This guy can't hurt us. We know everything about him, and we know we're better turning the page without him.
Those are my initial reactions. Let's dig deeper to see how the impact of the Easter Night shocker will be felt throughout the league.
I'd be worried about the Eagles too, because Kolb may be the kind of quarterback for Reid that
When I talked with Reid last night, he was legitimately excited about the prospect of seeing Kolb in the line of fire. He said to me what he said in his press conference: "Kevin's a young and up-and-coming player that everybody in our building has a tremendous amount of confidence in."
Some offseason, huh? I'd like to know when it starts.
A night that will live in infamy.
When the cell phone rang in his Miami condo around 2 a.m. on March 14, 2009, Stallworth had been asleep for five hours. He'd worked out hard the previous day, a Friday, and gone to bed early, planning to sleep through the night and fly to Cleveland that Saturday evening. Monday was the start of offseason workouts for the Browns, and Stallworth planned to show new coach
Stallworth has thought about the phone call often -- during his 24 days in a Miami jail, during his long days of house arrest, during workouts, during everything.
"If I could change one thing?'' he said to me. "I wouldn't have gotten out of bed at 2 in the morning. The main thing I've learned through this is that everything you do, every decision you make, leads to subsequent actions and reactions, no matter how minute those decisions might seem at the time.''
But he did get up, and he drove from Miami into Miami Beach to attend a friend's birthday gathering at a nightclub, LIV, at the swank Fontainebleau Hotel. He arrived about 3. He bought a bottle of liquor for his friend's table, and had a couple of shots out of the bottle. Then, Stallworth said, he went to the bar, met some women and did a couple of shots with them. "Four shots total,'' he told me. After that, the party adjourned to his friend's hotel room upstairs.
I asked Stallworth about smoking marijuana that night, and he said he didn't. But he said he had smoked pot on a short vacation trip the previous weekend.
Some time after 5, Stallworth left the Fontainebleau and drove home. "There have been times if I felt I was incapable of driving I'd call a friend of mine, even at 2, 3, 4 in the morning, and I'd leave my car wherever I was,'' Stallworth said. "But on this night, I felt fine, so I drove home.''
He was back in bed about 5:45, but he slept only a short time. About 6:45, he woke up hungry. Because he was leaving for Cleveland that day, he said he'd cleaned out his refrigerator and had nothing to eat in the house. So he got back in his car, a Bentley, and drove toward the MacArthur Causeway, a six-lane, half-mile-long highway from downtown Miami to Miami Beach with several 24-hour restaurants. It was still mostly dark in the morning; sunrise on this day was 7:31 a.m., with Daylight Savings Time having gone into effect the previous weekend.
As Stallworth neared Miami Beach in moderately heavy morning traffic, he was in the far left lane of the three east-bound lanes of traffic. Coming suddenly from his far right, he said he noticed a shadow of a figure running across the right lane. He flicked his lights at the running figure twice and in a split-second had a decision to make -- slam on his brakes and risk a chain-reaction collision; swerve hard to the left into the concrete median; swerve right, which would take him into the path of the runner; or gently hit his brakes and hope the runner stopped. Even with the suddenness of the figure running across the road, he figured the runner would stop rather than try to beat a vehicle that wouldn't be able to stop suddenly enough to avoid a collision.
"Obviously, I wasn't expecting him to cross all the lanes,'' Stallworth said. "By the time I saw him, I thought I had time to gently apply my brakes and hope he'd just stop [in the road while Stallworth's car passed]. I couldn't turn left, because I'd go right into the concrete barrier. I thought maybe he'd see me and figure he should just stop and wait 'til I went by.''
The man didn't stop. Reyes, coming off a night shift for a construction company and running for a bus on the other side of the highway, thudded into the passenger side of Stallworth's Bentley.
"But he didn't die from the impact,'' Stallworth said, somberly. "His feet got run over by my tires, and he fell, and his head hit the concrete.''
Stallworth stopped in the left lane, put on his emergency flashers and reached into the back seat for his cell phone. While he looked out the back window and saw Reyes lying in the road, he dialed 911 and eventually figured out where to tell the operator to send help. He thought he'd be able to look down at the figure in the road when he walked back to the scene, but he couldn't look. By that time, a police officer was there, radioing for help.
"Shock was the first emotion,'' Stallworth said. "I drive that causeway all the time. I never see people running across it.''
When the police began questioning him, Stallworth answered everything. "I waived my Miranda rights,'' he said, meaning the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present during police questioning. "I just wanted to be 100 percent cooperative. It didn't hit me that I might be in some trouble until they gave me the field sobriety test.''
Stallworth's blood-alcohol content was .126. The Florida limit for driving while impaired is .08, so Stallworth was above the legal limit by 50 percent. He insists he did not feel impaired the night of the accident, and there's no certainty the accident would have been avoided had he been within the legal limit. But once he tested 50 percent over the limit, it was clear the combination of events would be linked, rightfully, in the eyes of the police.
From there, life unraveled. He pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter in June and reached a settlement with the Reyes family; I've heard Stallworth paid the family at least $3 million. In addition, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail, two years of "community control'' confinement, eight years' probation and 1,000 hours of community service. ("Community control'' is less harsh than house arrest, which would have meant 24-hour-a-day electronic monitoring. Community control is more a strict probation; Stallworth is not allowed to drive for at least four more years, but he can leave home for work, church, medical, legal and community service activities, and for any approved activities by his probation officer.)
The 30-day sentence was reduced to 24 days for a couple of technical reasons.
Immediately, there was intense criticism of Stallworth's sentence, for obvious reasons. He had driven drunk and caused a fatality with his car, and been given only 24 days? It seemed outrageous.
But there were mitigating factors, the biggest of which was that Reyes was trying to cross a well-traveled, six-lane road in poor light, and not using a crosswalk.
"I understood why people were angry about the sentence,'' said Stallworth. "I understand human psychology; I majored in psychology at Tennessee. Everyone wants every story to be black and white, but sometime they're not. It was an intricate case. People hear 'alcohol' and they hear 'deceased' and they tie the two together. But this case just wasn't that easy. I can tell you from being in the middle of it, the police did extensive investigation into the case, and they had no reason to let me off easy.''
Stallworth said he thinks about Reyes' 15-year-old daughter,
He served his time -- in solitary confinement mostly -- at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami, hard by Miami International Airport. He read, mostly, and wrote in a journal. He read the 9/11 Commission Report and a spiritual novel about a man who meets God (
"They don't give you a schedule in there,'' he said. "When the lights go off, they go off. But I wanted to make sure this was not a period of despondency for me. I wanted to learn from it, and read and write. I also met a lot of guys in there who were great to me. They've written me since. I never had a high level of anxiety in there, and a lot of the guys basically told me, You don't want to be in here; go live life.''
When he got out and began to train again, he knew he wanted to play in 2010 if Goodell would allow it. Late in the 2009 season, the commissioner met Stallworth at a Dolphins game and told him how much the league loved success stories and comeback stories, but Stallworth couldn't afford even one slip. Goodell told him to do meaningful community service, and be an advocate for the right conduct.
He always figured one team would give him a chance. He just didn't know which one. With nothing to do after jail other than his community service projects, Stallworth worked out harder than he had in years, and when he went to work out for the Ravens in February, he ran the fastest 40 time they'd clocked at their new training facility -- under 4.4 seconds. He told coach John Harbaugh he was disappointed in his career -- he's never had a 1,000-yard season, nor exceeded 70 catches, despite being the 13th pick in the 2002 draft -- and would be determined to be the kind of success story Goodell wanted.
So let's say he is. Let's say Stallworth has a good season. Part of the work is going to be wearing blinders and earplugs.
"What are you going to do,'' I asked, "when people start yelling from the stands, 'Killer! Murderer!' You know it's going to happen.''
"I won't let it get to me,'' he said. "For some reason, I've always been heckled. I know it'll be different now. If anything, when I hear it, it'll make me want to do better. And if I let something like that get to me, I'd be doing my team a disservice. I know it's coming, but I'm not worried about it.''
So now his future is up to him. He can't drink, he can't go out 'til all hours anymore, he has to whittle down those hours of community service, and he has to prove he can fulfill the potential that accompanied his selection as the 13th pick in the draft in 2002. He's now permitted to have contact with the family, though he hasn't yet. (Stallworth's lawyer,
In many ways, Stallworth's incredibly lucky. After making a decision that could have ruined his life -- drinking and driving and killing a man -- Stallworth stopped his car, admitted to everything, threw himself on the mercy of the court, tried to make reparations with the family as well as he could (luckily, he was a millionaire athlete who could make such reparations), served his limited time humbly, and set out to work to try to live his privileged life again. Was the sentence fair? Maybe not, but this is not a clean case either.
Last thing: A text message arrived to Stallworth's phone on the day of the accident. It read, "A lot of people know the kind of person you are. You're a good person.''
Tom Brady, his quarterback in 2007.
Now he'll have a chance to prove that. A lot of people will be watching.
The Patriots have one other power piece if there's something they want desperately on April 22 -- Oakland's first-round pick in the 2011 draft, thanks to the
I like Seattle (6, 14, 60) and San Francisco (13, 17, 49, 79) too, but I would have liked the Seahawks more if they'd stayed at 40 overall instead of trading down 20 spots in the second round in the
In the last three days, I've talked at length to Rams GM
All of that is likely much less important this morning, of course, with Washington being taken out of the mix for the top pick. But I pass it along because I wanted to contest the notion that the Rams will be motivated to save money in this draft more than they'll be motivated to get better.
I doubt any team will pony up the ransom it's going to take to get Bradford. The Rams need him too badly. They need him as a quarterback, and they need him as a franchise face, which they don't have right now. Interior linemen can't be your billboards. Interior linemen don't get stadiums built and franchises sold; quarterbacks do. That's what the Rams need. That's why, at the end of the day, I don't think the Rams would have traded the pick to Washington without the McNabb deal unless they found
"In San Diego, everything was taken away from me. There wasn't an emphasis on running the ball. My best fullback [
You know I like Tomlinson a lot. And I respect him. But the following is what you say when you clearly aren't the player you once were: "I'm thrilled the Jets have taken a chance with me, and I'm going to do whatever it takes to help this team win. If I'm not the player who set all the touchdown records a few years ago, I know I'm still a good NFL running back, and I intend to prove that with the Jets this year.''
I don't remember Tomlinson throwing any ticker-tape parades for his blockers four years ago, or telling ESPN, "I owe half my success to Lorenzo Neal.'' To say it was the Chargers' fault that he's in decline ... and make no mistake, that's what Tomlinson is saying ... well, it's beneath the dignity and the greatness Tomlinson exhibited for so long.
"I don't care. I'm just excited to play football again. I'm going to enjoy every minute of it, no matter where I play.''
"The word 'rebuilding' will never enter our vocabulary.''
The trade is logical for both teams. Brown, 31, was unhappy with his contract and clearly not better than incumbents
In Cleveland, Brown immediately upgrades a weak position, where
As we digest the McNabb trade, consider what happened the last time Washington coach Mike Shanahan took a 30-something quarterback under his wing and tried to win a Super Bowl with him. With John Elway, Shanahan actually won two.
For the record, Elway was 50-17 in four seasons with Shanahan.
The impact of this note is moot now that the Redskins have acquired McNabb, but I find it an interesting sign of an intelligent fan base. The
In most cases, fans of teams without a certain quarterback of the future would jump at the chance to take a kid who is a legitimate franchise quarterback prospect. That's why the result of this poll surprised me. Post readers, 25,330 of them as of this weekend, were 57 percent against, 42 percent in favor. (Don't ask me why it doesn't add up to 100 percent; I'm just reading off the paper's Web site.)
Those are some mature readers who know their football, readers who are tired of an aging, leaky offensive line getting passer Jason Campbell chased all over the field. Not that GM Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan are going to pay attention to the poll, but it's interesting that a solid majority of a team's fans would rather have a tackle many of them have never heard of than a quarterback who might be a longtime Pro Bowler.
Part of the job that's always fun is going to new places. For me, a late-week trip to Indiana, Pa., about 60 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, to see a second-round draft prospect,
1. IUP has an enrollment of 14,030. That makes it bigger than Duke and Butler, the Final Four finalists.
2. Indiana, a borough of 15,000, has two Starbucks.
5. Indiana is the Christmas Tree Capital of the World.
I'm amazed that a college I thought had maybe 3,000 students is as big as it is.
"I could cook spaghetti in the time it takes for one of the CBS timeouts.''
What, just because a 40-minute basketball game (Saturday's first game began at 6:07 Eastern and finished at 8:29) took 142 minutes?
1. I think the best draft rumor at this point is that the Lions want out of the second spot. It's possible -- not likely, I stress, but possible -- that Detroit might jump out of the second pick and grab the best available offensive tackle wherever they land ... that is if it signs New Orleans restricted free-agent defensive tackle
2. I think if I were in Vegas, I'd put my money on the first five picks in the draft being Sam Bradford,
3. I think the hidden player in the Browns-Eagles deal Friday might just be a factor in Philadelphia. His name is
Savage believes Hall got short-shrift by the Mangini coaching staff, and when Savage got hired by the Eagles as a scout, he got his brain picked by the Eagles staff, and here comes Hall.
I recall writing about the Browns' offseason in 2008, detailing how Cleveland found this kid from a nowhere football school. Here's what I wrote in an offseason team diary three days before the 2008 draft:
Under coach Romeo Crennel and defensive coordinator
4. I think the Raiders now have to look at salvaging
5. I think I believe
6. I think the interesting thing about Dallas cutting
7. I think
8. I think I'm laughing at everyone who thinks the Chargers are taking some precipitous drop in 2010. They're still three games better than any team in the AFC West. They have two very good picks in the draft (28 and 40), and they haven't lost a cornerstone player in free agency or trade. I don't consider
9. I think if the Seahawks have a chance, they'll be hard-pressed to pass on Bryan Bulaga. The GM,
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Stole time in the last week for two of my top 20 movies of all time: The Princess Bride (I love
b. Let me lend my incompetent picks for the baseball races: American League -- New York, Minnesota, Seattle; Tampa Bay the Wild Card. National League -- Atlanta, St. Louis, Colorado; Philadelphia the Wild Card. World Series: Tampa Bay over Atlanta.
d. Don't kill me if you see me at Fenway. Just calling it the races the way I see them. I don't think the Red Sox have enough offense, and the bullpen may be weaker than the fans think. I still think it's absurd that Sox fans got sold a bill of goods on what a bad defensive player
e. Coffeenerdness: The Starbucks close by the IUP campus in Indiana, Pa., is certainly a friendly, inviting place. But it would help to get the drinks right. Two for two wrong in a 20-hour visit.
f. This is the first year as a native Nutmegger that I have no interest in the women's basketball tournament. Usually I find time to root for the Huskies, and it's a shame that either they're way too good or the rivals are just too lousy. It'd be one thing if they were winning narrowly; but games have to be competitions. Average margin of victory this year (including Sunday night's win over Baylor): 35.6 points. Closest game this year: 12 points. Margins of first five games in this tournament: 46, 54, 38, 40, 20. Enough. Make the game competitive, somehow, and I'll be back.
g. If you have a copy of the Sunday
h. I'll take Duke tonight, regrettably. Who wouldn't love to see the Butler do it? Butler can win by playing great defense beyond the three-point line, but I just don't think the Bulldogs can do it and stay out of foul trouble for 40 minutes.