TRADING E-MAIL WITH ...
Former NFL coach Sam Wyche
SI: How did you wind up in Pickens, S.C.?
Wyche: My wife was born and raised in Pickens. Now every third
guy I meet tells me he used to date her. I'm just glad this is a
SI: Why is your voice so weak?
Wyche: A couple of years ago I was having a biopsy on lymph nodes
taken from my chest. The good news is there was no cancer. The
bad news is that the nerve to my left vocal cord was
inadvertently severed. The result is what NFL officials were
wishing for for years: I can't raise my voice.
SI: What are you doing now?
Wyche: I'm a substitute teacher in Pickens County. I'm an unpaid
quarterbacks coach at Pickens High. I write an NFL column in The
Pickens Sentinel. I'm trying to write a book called Tales of the
Bengals. Oh, yeah, I just invented the Internet, too.
SI: Which NFL team do you most love watching now?
Wyche: It's not a team. I could watch Michael Vick in the 1 p.m.,
4 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Sunday games and sit there with chips and
dip waiting for Monday night. He's a cartel of every skill that
quarterbacks can have.
SI: Still want to coach?
Wyche: If an owner or a G.M. thought I would be a good fit, I
would be a better coach than I have ever been. I have perspective
now, you see. However, 1800-CALL-SAM is not ringing off the hook.
MATCHUP OF THE WEEK
Relatively Speaking: Cleveland at Cincinnati
The Browns, once coached by the late Paul Brown, play the team
founded by the same Paul Brown at Paul Brown Stadium, which is
managed by Eric Brown (no relation). The Bengals are run mostly
by descendants of Paul Brown--son Mike Brown, the club president;
son Pete Brown, a senior VP; granddaughter Katie Brown Blackburn,
the executive VP; and grandson Paul Brown, a scout. The outcome
of this game is not likely to be decided by Browns pass rusher
Courtney Brown. Rather, the biggest factor will be whether the
Browns can wear down the Bengals with running backs Jamel White
and William Green.
The hiring of coach Jon Gruden hasn't ignited the Bucs' offense
as expected. Here's how Gruden's numbers stack up versus those of
the men who called the plays in Tampa over the previous three
YEAR PLAY-CALLER YARDS YARDS TOTAL RECORD
2002 Jon Gruden 95.0 217.6 312.6 7--2
2001 Clyde Christensen 80.2 226.3 306.5 4--5
2000 Les Steckel 117.4 186.1 303.5 5--4
1999 Mike Shula 123.0 169.0 292.0 5--4
MY TWO CENTS
1. Game of the Year: Falcons 34, Steelers 34. This was better
than Miami's battle with Denver on Oct. 13 because it went a
quarter longer. Unsung hero: Atlanta wideout Brian Finneran, who
blocked a field goal attempt in OT and later, with corner Ray
Buchanan, stopped Plaxico Burress inside the one as time expired.
2. Memo to Drew Bledsoe: Don't let gimmick defenses take your
focus off your targets. New England walked away from its Nov. 3
game against the Bills convinced that its ever-changing
front-seven looks flustered Bledsoe. --P.K.