Why at least one team thought Montgomery was a better RB than WR prospect coming out of Stanford. Plus, why Revis critics are getting it wrong, John Clayton’s legacy, and a feel-good moment from former Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockette
1. I think Ty Montgomery taking permanent residence atop the Packers’ running back depth chart makes a lot of sense. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry in 2016 and that’s more important to Green Bay’s offense than the team utilizing Montgomery at receiver, behind Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams.
I did some reporting on the Packers before the NFC championship game but didn’t get to use it after they lost to the Falcons. One story, from Shannon Turley, Director of Sports Performance at Stanford, Montgomery’s alma mater, stood out. He said a scout from the Arizona Cardinals called him before the Packers drafted Montgomery in the third round in 2015 and said Montgomery would have been graded higher as a running back, and that players with his body type at wide receiver (6-0, 216) hadn’t fared well in the NFL. “Mark my words,” the scout told Turley. “You’re going to see the day that he plays running back.”
Turley said Montgomery reminded him of a bigger version of Christian McCaffrey, the Stanford star who was just drafted eighth overall by Carolina. “I wonder how our team might have been if we’d scrapped our plan with Ty and put him in the backfield,” Turley said.
2. I think the world needs more videos like this one, of former Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockette meeting members of the Arlington Fire Department who saved his life after a hit he suffered against the Cowboys in 2015 resulted in a serious neck injury.
As Lockette told SI in November of that year, “I just remember looking around and all the trainers running up. They’re checking my wrist, but I can’t feel it. I’m looking at them, but I can’t respond. I can’t talk. My entire body is numb.”
Fast forward to late May. Lockette was speaking at the Washington Fire Chiefs conference when two members of the Arlington Fire Department—Deputy Chief Gerald Randall and engineer paramedic John Robertson—surprised him. What happened next? Well, watch the video. Then applaud Lockette for what he has done since the injury that ended his career: namely, raise money for spinal-cord injury research and meet with first responders.
3. I think the world of journalism—really, the world, period—lost a giant when Frank Deford died this week at age 78. To say he made Sports Illustrated what it is and influenced those of us who work on this staff is a gross understatement. To say I’ve read everything he wrote wouldn’t be exactly true. I’ve read everything he wrote at least twice.
You should check out the SI compilation of his best work (once or twice, it’s up to you) and I’d point to one NFL-related classic in particular. From the compilation:
The Best There Ever Was
Issue Date: September 23, 2002
After I got that autographed Unitas football, every now and then I'd pick it up and fondle it. I still do, too, even though Johnny Unitas is dead now, and I can't be a boy anymore. Ultimately, you see, what he conveyed to his teammates and to Baltimore and to a wider world was the utter faith that he could do it. He could make it work. Somehow, he could win. He would win. It almost didn't matter when he actually couldn't. The point was that with Johnny U, it always seemed possible. You so very seldom get that, even with the best of them. Johnny U's talents were his own. The belief he gave us was his gift. Read the whole story...
4. I think some critics get it twisted with Darrelle Revis, the cornerback whose play slipped last season with the Jets. Revis is currently on the free agent market. He’s 31 years old and turning 32 next month. And while Revis might never return to the level of play that defined what I believe is a Hall of Fame career, there’s a notion that, because he held out for more money and played for three teams (and two stints with the Jets), he doesn’t love football. That’s simply not true. Revis ranks among the most competitive humans I’ve ever been around, and that list includes Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Adrian Peterson.
I thought Brady’s comments about Revis in a recent ESPN story underscored what he meant to the Patriots when they won a Super Bowl together in the 2014 season. “I’ve also played against a lot of guys that when I think of Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison and Dwight Freeney and Jason Taylor and Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and Darrelle Revis—if those guys aren't the best, then whoever is better than them is only better by percentage points,” Brady said. “It’s not a big difference. So, like Deion Sanders, for example. I remember watching him play, how spectacular he was. But I can’t imagine someone that much better than Revis. If there were, you couldn’t complete a ball against Darrelle. So completing a ball against Deion is not much different than completing a ball against Darrelle.”
You don’t earn that kind of praise from Brady without putting in the work, and you won’t put in the work if you don’t care.
5. I think I’ll miss John Clayton’s constant presence at ESPN; the NFL writer/commentator was among the worldwide leader’s recent layoffs. Not only is Clayton in the writer’s wing of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (since 2007), but he filmed perhaps the greatest “This is SportsCenter” promo of all time.
O.K., it is the greatest.
“By the way I’m keeping the ponytail,” Clayton posted on his Twitter page.
6a. I think this was a strange week for the Browns, even by Cleveland’s recent (or long-term) standards. The news coming out of Northeast Ohio: No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett was not practicing, talented wideout Corey Coleman, last year’s first-round pick, was injured and coach Hue Jackson was terming quarterback Brock Osweiler a “pleasant surprise.”
How Coleman was hurt only added to the Clevelandia feel: He reportedly fell on a football.
6b. I think it would have been interesting if the Browns were featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks this summer.
7a. I think it’s still worth reading Seth Wickersham on the Seahawks and the lingering tension between the offense and the defense since Seattle was thwarted at the 1-yard-line in Super Bowl XLIX. I live in Seattle, and I’ve spoken to many 12’s who believe this is standard NFL operating procedure, who say that all teams fight and this spat just happened to become public. I disagree with that. Pete Carroll has created a unique culture with the Seahawks—one of his stated tenets is “celebrating the uniqueness” of his players—and one of the consequences of that culture is players, like cornerback Richard Sherman, who speak their minds.
In Sept. 2015, we wrote about how Russell Wilson took his offensive and defensive teammates to Hawaii in large part because of the tension that existed after the Super Bowl defeat. Many radio hosts asked then if something like that trip would work. As evidenced by ESPN’s reporting, clearly it did not.
7b. I still think the Seahawks make the playoffs next season, but how far they advance depends largely (again, I think) on how Carroll handles the interactions between his stars. (Well, that and whether the offensive line improves and the secondary can return to full health.)
7c. I think I can’t speak to every detail in Wickersham’s story.
7d. I think he got it right.
8. I think you should read Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In particular, I think you should read his piece on Russ Ball, the vice president of football administration/player finance for the Packers. Like many revealing stories, it’s told not through access to Ball himself but through others, in this case the eyes of agents who negotiate regularly with the Ball and the Packers’ brass. The result is an illuminating story.
One snippet: “Russ will typically reach out first and have a conversation and just say, ‘Hey, we’re interested in seeing if we can do something with so and so,’” said one agent who has secured multiple long-term deals with the Packers. “Then he’ll send an email and it will always be a low offer. Always.”
9. I think Dolphins wideout Jarvis Landry deserves some kudos for showing up at team workouts this off-season, rather than staying away in hopes of securing a long-term extension. I wouldn’t judge him if he went that route. But in three NFL seasons, Landry has great numbers—288 receptions, 3,051 receiving yards, 13 touchdowns—but no playoff wins.
10a. I think I knew what former Packers guard T.J. Lang meant when he said of lining up against Ndamukong Suh for five seasons: “I hated it. I’ve never played against a more literal psychopath in my life. Guy was a nut job.” Lang said this on Pardon My Take. He later took to Twitter to clarify that he meant what he said as a compliment to Suh.
10b. I think we all know someone we’d describe endearingly as a psychopath.
10c. I think I’m not naming names.
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