Some Other Things 05.22.2006..

Angry Pope

All Raider
Feb 2, 2006
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Here is an opinion of the top twenty draft steals of all time...our Raiders mentioned...take it for what it is worth...from last year I believe...

Top 20 all-time late-round steals...

Even with modern, sophisticated scouting systems, national media scrutiny, and events like the Combine, great players often slip through the cracks of the NFL draft. Some, like Terrell Davis, were injured frequently as college players and never accumulated the stats and reputation to become top selections. Others, like Zach Thomas, were productive players in college who were deemed too slow or small by NFL scouts. A few, like Shannon Sharpe, attended tiny institutions and played against inferior competition, scaring away some pro scouts and GMs. As a result, there's a long history of late-round steals: guys picked near the bottom of the draft who succeeded far beyond expectations...

20 Earnest Byner (Browns, 280th overall in 1984)

An underrated runner who compiled nearly 13,000 yards from scrimmage in his career, Byner was the last player selected in that 10th round. He won a Super Bowl with the Redskins in 1992 and posted three 1,000-yard seasons, but is best remembered for a devastating fumble against the Broncos in the AFC title game in 1988 (he also had 187 total yards and two TDs in that game). Without Byner, the 1984 class of running backs is very poor, with Greg Bell at the forefront but bit players like Stanford Jennings (a 3rd round pick and career special teamer) and Herman Heard (another 3rd rounder and career backup) making up most of the class.

19 Keenan McCardell (Redskins, 326th overall in 1991)

McCardell makes this last thanks to his Super Bowl win two years ago and his four 1,000-yard seasons as a complementary receiver to Jimmy Smith and later Keyshawn Johnson. He was the 45th receiver taken in 1991, behind guys with names like Millard Hamilton and Johnny Walker. Everybody had a crack at him: the Redskins held him on injured reserve for a year then released him, the Browns moved him on and off their practice squad about 20 times in three years, and the Bears briefly acquired him. It wasn't until he reached the expansion Jaguars, though, that he became more than a fringe player. He may be the best wideout in league history to be a #2 guy for his entire career.

18 Joe Klecko (Jets, 144th overall in 1977)

Klecko was a charter member of the New York Sack Exchange and, when healthy, was the best defensive lineman in football from 1981-1985. Injuries kept him from reaching Hall of Fame status. That 1977 draft also brought the Jets an All Pro tackle in Marvin Powell, as well as Wesley Walker, one of the best receivers in franchise history, and the immortal Scott "Coke Machine" Dierking (there's a nickname you'll never hear again). Klecko's son Dan is a Temple lineman and may turn out to be a steal in this year's draft.

T-16 Hardy Nickerson (Steelers, 122nd overall in 1987) and Marvcus Patton (Bills, 208th overall in 1990)

Two fine linebackers who played forever and are still kicking around. Nickerson was a Pro Bowler for a decade and seemed to be in the playoffs every year with the Steelers and Buccaneers. Patton played on four AFC championship teams in Buffalo and was a productive starter for years in Washington and Kansas City. Among the linebackers drafted in the first rounds of the 1987 and 1990 draft: Junior Seau (1990, turned out pretty darn good), Cornelius Bennett (1997, another good one), Tony Bennett and Lamar Lathon (1990, not bad), Shane Conlan (1987, above average player), Mike Junkin, Tony Woods, James Francis, Percy Snow, Keith McCants, and Chris Singleton.

15 Jamal Anderson (Falcons, 201st overall, in 1994)

The 1994 draft produced two steals at running back; Dorsey Levens was selected in the 5th round that year. Anderson gets ranked because he was a later pick and a more dominant player in his best years. Still, we may be overrating him a bit. In a few years, his career record may be remembered like those of Craig James (7th round, 1987) and Wilbert Montgomery (6th round, 1977), smart picks and fine players whose careers were cut short by injuries.

14 Jeff Van Note (Falcons, 262nd overall in 1967)

Drafted as a linebacker, Van Note switched to center and starter for Atlanta until 1986. A durable and reliable player, in his best years (1978-82) Van Note was considered the second best center in the league behind Mike Webster.

13 Leon Lett, (Cowboys, 173rd overall in 1991)

Jimmie Johnson took DT Russell Maryland first overall in 1991 and Lett at the end of the draft, and the Cowboys had a stone wall in the middle of their defense for years. Somewhat overrated by analysts of the 1990s, Lett was a gifted run stuffer when personal problems didn't take him off the field.

12 Karl Mecklenburg, (Broncos 310th overall in 1983)

The Albino Rhino helped the Broncos to three AFC titles and was an All Pro from 1985 to 1989. He finished his career with 79 sacks. A total of 38 linebackers were taken ahead of Mecklenburg, including Billy Ray Smith, the fifth pick overall. Only Bills' second rounder Daryl Talley had a noteworthy career, though Trey Junkin (another Bills pick in the fourth round) hung around forever as a deep snapper.

11 Jay Novacek, (Cardinals, 168th overall in 1985)

The Cardinals never knew what they had in Novacek and let him get away after four unproductive, injury-marred seasons. The Cowboys signed him and he caught at least 40 passes in each of the next six seasons, providing Troy Aikman with a reliable target over the middle during three Super Bowl runs.

10 Zach Thomas, (Dolphins, 154th overall in 1996)

Thomas is one of the selections who affirmed Jimmy Johnson's reputation as a draft genius. Thomas flunked every scout's test but plays the game with outstanding intelligence and determination. The 1996 draft produced a bumper crop of fifth rounders, in addition to Thomas: Joe Horn, LaRoi Glover, and Titans tackle Fred Miller were all taken in that round.

9 Dexter Manley, (Redskins, 119th overall in 1981)

Manley finished with over 10 sacks in four straight seasons, including 18.5 in 1986. He finished his career with 97.5 sacks and two Super Bowl rings. It was quite a draft for the Skins in 1981: in addition to Manley, they picked up two Hogs (Mark May in the first round, C Russ Grimm in the third), a Smurf (Charlie Brown in the 8th round) and future starting TE Clint Didier in the 12th.

T-8 Harold Carmichael, (Eagles, 176th overall in 1971)

A 6-foot-8 giant who won every jump ball, Carmichael was one of the best receivers of the 1970s and led the Eagles from the basement at the start of the decade to the Super Bowl at the end. He ended his career with 590 catches and 79 TDs. Also a steal at wideout in 1971: Mel Gray, drafted in the 6th round by the Cardinals, would catch 351 balls in 11 years with the club.

T-8 Richard Dent, (Bears, 203rd overall in 1983)

One of only five players drafted out of Tennessee State that year, defensive end Richard Dent quickly elevated himself among the best in the NFL at his position. One of the anchors of a great defense in Chicago, he was one of the most feared pass-rushers thanks to his quickness and speed despite a 6-5, 265-pound frame. A four-time Pro Bowler, he was Super Bowl XX's Most Valuable Player in the Bears' 46-10 rout of the Patriots. He finally retired in 1997 with 137.5 sacks (tied for fifth on the all-time list at the end of the 2003 season) in 203 career games, including 151 as a starter. Aptly so, Dent is among the preliminary nominees for the Hall-of-Fame class of 2005.


7 Shannon Sharpe, (Broncos, 192nd overall in 1990)

He left college as an oversized wide receiver, but Sharpe went on to become the most prolific pass catching tight end in history and a key performer on three Super Bowl winners. Not bad, considering the careers of some of the tight ends taken before him. While Eric Green (a first round pick by Pittsburgh) had some good years before a weight problem ended his career and Jackie Harris (4th round, Green Bay) was a decent player for a decade, when was the last time you thought about Mike Jones (3rd round, Vikings) or Jesse Anderson (fourth round, Buccaneers)?.

6 Mark Clayton, (Dolphins, 223rd overall in 1983)

You would think that getting Dan Marino with the 27th pick in the draft was enough of a steal, but the Dolphins did it again in 1983, picking one of Marino's favorite targets in the sixth round. Clayton and Marino hooked up for 18 touchdowns in 1984, and Clayton would finish his career with five 1,000-yard receiving seasons and a total of 84 touchdowns, 79 of them from Marino.

5 Herschel Walker, (Cowboys, 114th overall in 1985)

Walker only slipped into the later rounds because he was playing for the New Jersey Generals in the USFL. Tex Schramm alertly gobbled up his NFL rights with this pick, and Herschel would easily surpass the careers of the #1 selections at RB that year (George Adams, Ethan Horton, Steve Sewell, and Lorenzo Hampton). Walker is docked one place in our countdown for not being a "true" late round pick. Of course, his greatest contribution to the Cowboys came in getting traded to Minnesota for the draft picks that would become Emmitt Smith and others. Fun fact: the Cowboys drafted RB Robert Lavette one round before Herschel. Lavette would carry the football 23 times in his career..

4 Lester Hayes, (Raiders, 126th overall all in 1977)

Hayes is best known for his marvelous 1979 and 1980 seasons. He picked off 13 passes in 1980 and tended to ride on his reputation after that, but Hayes was a valuable starter on two Super Bowl winners. The Raiders picked up another bargain in 1977 when they drafted LB Rod Martin in the 12th round. Martin would also start in two Super Bowls and recorded 11 sacks in 1984.

3 Dwight Clark, (49ers, 249th overall in 1979)

He was a big target at 6-goot-4. He was a smart player who worked the middle of the field and made plays in traffic. Long before the term "West Coast Offense" saturated the league, Clark was creating the mold of the perfect receiver for the system. Best known for "The Catch" against Dallas in the 1981 NFC Championship game, Clark caught 506 passes in his career, led the league in receptions in strike-shortened 1982 (60) and was Joe Montana's favorite target until a fellow named Rice came along.

2 Terrell Davis, (Broncos, 196th overall in 1995)

Davis was on his way to the top of this list before injuries cut short his career prematurely. To put his two Super Bowls and his 2,000-yard season in perspective, take a look at the running backs drafted in the first round in 1995. Ki-Jana Carter went third overall. Tyrone Wheatley, Napoleon Kaufman, and James Stewart went back-to-back-to-back at 17 through 19. And Rashaan Salaam, who looked like the best of the bunch in his rookie year, went 21st. While Stewart has had some fine years and Wheatley and Kaufman were good role players, it's amazing to think that Davis and Curtis Martin were still on the board after those guys were taken. Davis was an oft-injured collegian who didn't post phenomenal workout numbers, so he was forgotten until late in the draft.

1 Mike Webster, (Steelers, 125th overall in 1974)

The Steelers drafted some guys named Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert, and John Stallworth in the early rounds of that 1974 draft before selecting the center who would anchor their line for over a decade. Webster would play in 177 consecutive games for the Steelers and make every offensive snap for six straight seasons. Of course, he was part of four Super Bowl winning teams, starting in two of them (Super Bowl XIII and XIV). Webster was unanimously considered the best center in football from 1978 to 1982 and was a Pro Bowler in several other seasons.

Honorable Mentions

Some players fall through the system and are never drafted at all. Jim Langer, the Dolphins center of the 1970s who entered the Hall of Fame in 1987, was a walk-on in camp. Ditto for Kurt Warner and John Randle, two of the best players in recent history to rise from rookie free agency to stardom.

Lots of players deserve mention who didn't quite make the list. Gary Fencik (10th round, 1976) and Dwight Hicks (6th round, 1978) were two of the best safeties in the league in the early 1980s. Quarterbacks Brian Sipe (13th round, 1972) and Steve Grogan (5th round, 1975) were quality starters for a decade. Another QB, Mark Rypien (6th round, 1986), won a Super Bowl. Linemen rarely get their due, so guys like Doug Dieken (6th round, 1971), Joe Fields (14th round, 1975), Dave Szott (7th round, 1990) and Tom Nalen (7th round, 1994) deserve mention, as each was a successful starter for many years. Ben Coates (5th round, 1991) and Brent Jones (5th round, 1986) were very good tight ends who finished just off the list; the same can be said of Frank Wycheck (6th round, 1993). Recent players are sometimes overrated on lists like these, so we had to make tough decisions and leave off the likes of Terance Mathis (6th round, 1990), Troy Brown (8th round, 1993) and Jessie Armstead (8th round, 1993). There are others - Tim Krumrie (10th round, 1983), Seth Joyner (8th round, 1986) - but you get the picture.

Finally, Bo Jackson's seventh-round selection in 1987 was ignored, as he had been selected in the first round of an earlier draft.

CRITERIA: To qualify, a player must have been drafted since 1967 (the first combined NFL-AFL draft). He must have been drafted in the fifth round or later, ensuring that the player was a real long shot to make the team. Because kickers are often drafted in the later rounds, they would dominate the list and are therefore excluded, with all apologies to Gary Anderson and others. Finally, no player drafted after 1998 was considered, although Tom Brady, the 199th overall-pick out of Michigan in 2000 -- and a three-time Super Bowl winner -- will be added straight to that list in a very near future.
WHAT! No Sebastian Janikowski! That list is CRAP! ;)

Oh, no kickers.
Here is Kenny Stabler fishing with two buddies and talking about the reason John Madden will not travel by airplane.....

Hit it here...
Rupert said:
WHAT! No Sebastian Janikowski! That list is CRAP! ;)

Oh, no kickers.

LOL...Seabass won't know what hit him this year...maybe Art's foot.
Angry Pope said:
LOL...Seabass won't know what hit him this year...maybe Art's foot.
Most likely.....Art's foot ;)
Here is a profile for John Paul Foschi...

John paul Foschi, TE, Georgia Tech

Height: 6:04.1 Weight: 268

Overview: Physical blocker whose ability to pick up the blitz allowed the team to line him up at fullback in short yardage situations...Effective short area receiver with large, soft hands, showing a fearless nature going for the ball in a crowd...In 44 games, he started 21 times, turning four of his 39 receptions for 360 yards (9.2 avg) into touchdowns.

Analysis: Positives...Has a tall, thick frame with a wide upper body and torso...Very responsible athlete who pushes himself very hard in practices and in the weight room...Gives total effort as a blocker, staying low in his pads with a wide leg base, driving off the snap with good power to gain leverage...Effective short area route runner who does a nice job of shielding the ball from defenders...Runs with good ease-of-movement agility and has the leaping skills to get to the ball at its high point...Does a good job in his route execution, compensating for a lack of burst after the catch with good leg drive...Has enough functional strength to lock on vs. double teams and shows a smooth kick slide setting up in pass protection...A big target underneath, he will make the tough body adjustments to get to the ball in traffic.

Negatives...Needs to improve his foot speed, as he has only marginal separation getting off the line of scrimmage...At his best when blocking in space, as he needs to develop more strength and use his hands better to lock on to the defender and sustain blocks...Does not have the acceleration to consistently separate after the catch, relying on his leg drive to gain extra yardage...Struggles to keep track of the ball in flight on deep routes (needs to do a better job of catching over his shoulders).

Agility tests: 4.98 in the 40-yard dash...Bench presses 225 pounds 20 times...370-pound bench press... 550-pound squat...350-pound power clean...33-inch vertical jump...32 -inch arm length... 10 -inch hands...Right-handed...Wears contacts...20/33 Wonderlic score.

High school: Attended Chaminade (Mineola, N.Y.) High, playing football for coach Bill Basil...Super Prep All-American who was rated the No. 14 tight end in the nation and the fourth-best prospect in New York by the magazine...Ranked No. 21 nationally among tight ends and No. 145 overall by Tom Lemming' Prep Football Report...All-American pick by PrepStar...Caught 18 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns as a senior...Also made 45 tackles and 12 sacks on defense...Added 22 receptions for 330 yards and three scores as a junior...Selected to the Governor's Bowl all-star team (New York vs. New Jersey)...Led his team to the New York Catholic High School Championship his junior year...Lettered four times in football and four in basketball...Also earned first-team All-Catholic League honors in basketball...Member of the National Honor Society.

Personal: Building Construction major...Son of Margaret and Robert Foschi...Sisters, Pam (Boston College) and Jessica (Stanford) swam collegiately...Born John Paul Marino Foschi (pronounced FAH-shee) on 5/19/82...Resides in Glen Head, New York.
An article from late last year on JP...

Foschi constructing career as Raiders' FB

- David Bush, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, November 3, 2005

John Paul Foschi used to spend his summers doing construction work.

This year, he was helping rebuild an offense.

Foschi, who was a tight end on the Raiders' practice squad last season, began making a transition to fullback during the offseason and now is Oakland's top man at that position.

There was some precedent. "I had done it before in college (Georgia Tech),'' Foschi said. "My junior and senior years, I played primarily tight end, but I played H back and fullback in some formations.''

In the Raiders' scheme, assignments given the tight end have little difference from those given the fullback. The primary distinction is where they line up.

"There are similar blocking schemes,'' Foschi said. "It's just that it's a different read blocking a guy who's 5 yards away (when the play starts) as opposed to blocking a guy who's right in front of you. So that is an adjustment I had to make.''

Foschi is making it well enough to become a factor in the Raiders' increase in rushing yardage.

"He's a big, physical guy,'' coach Norv Turner said. "He had a really good game against Buffalo. In the end, when we were running the ball, he had some great blocks in that drive.''

Turner said when Foschi sat out three games with a knee problem, his absence was felt.

"That's fine now,'' Foschi said. "It doesn't give me any problem.''

Neither does the finger on his right hand that was surgically repaired Monday. "It's nothing too serious,'' Foschi said, proving it by catching a pass in practice Wednesday.

A native of Long Island, Foschi sculpted his 6-foot-4, 270-pound physique working as a laborer in his family's construction company in Queens. After graduating from Georgia Tech, he signed with the Jets as a free agent in 2004 but was cut after training camp.

Whenever his career ends, Foschi plans to make use of his degree in construction management by succeeding his father in running the family enterprise.

Foschi knows that the locale, nature of the business and family surname create a certain stigma. Think Tony Soprano of the HBO series.

"The stereotype has followed me a long time,'' he said. "My family is nowhere near the stereotype people assume about Italian Americans who are from New York and work in construction.

"They are the furthest thing from a Soprano-type that you could possibly imagine.''
An interview with Hoss...don't know the date...

Jeff Hostetler

QB Jeff Hostetler ranks 7th on the Raiders all-time passing yardage list with 11,122 yards. He also connected for 69 touchdown passes during his time with the Silver and Black.

Jeff Hostetler played four years in the Silver and Black. In that time he passed for 3,000 yards in a season twice and threw for 300 yards in a game six times. He still holds two Raider records: most passing yards in a game (424 yards v. SD 10/18/1993) and longest post-season passing play (86-yard pass to Tim Brown at Buffalo 01/15/1994). In 1994, Hostetler established career highs in completions, attempts, and yards, and was selected to the Pro Bowl. When did you start playing football?

Jeff Hostetler: I started playing football in the 7th grade. I think it was the early 70's, back in Hollsopple, Pennsylvania, and I was on the school team. How did you become a Raider?

Jeff Hostetler: I was signed as a free agent after the 1992 season. What did it mean for you to wear the Silver and Black?

Jeff Hostetler: I absolutely loved it. It was, without a doubt, a great group of guys; disciplined on the field and terrific off the field. What is your greatest memory from playing with the Raiders?

Jeff Hostetler: Beating Denver in 1993. We beat them three times that year. We beat them mid-season at Denver but needed to win the regular season finale at home to make the playoffs. With no time left on the clock, I hit Alexander Wright (1992-94) for a 4-yard touchdown. (Jeff) Jaeger (1989-95) hit a long field goal in OT to win it for us. We were down 17 points early in the 3 rd quarter and came back to win. Our reward: another game against those Broncos. This time we killed them. I threw for 3 TDs as we beat them 42-24. Is there any one moment or play that stands out from your career?

Jeff Hostetler: I would have to say my last play as a Raider. We were playing Denver. I had a concussion but we needed a score. I ran the 2:00 offense and I couldn't tell you what plays I called. It was awesome. At one point, I called a play and we broke the huddle. As the linemen were walking up to the line of scrimmage they questioned the play. They didn't even think we had this play in our playbook. So they asked Timmy (Brown) (1988-03). He gave everyone an assignment, including the receivers, but never told me. I still don't remember all of the plays I called in that drive. My last play as an Oakland Raider was a touchdown pass to Daryl Hobbs (1993-96). It was a bittersweet ending because we got the TD but it wasn't enough to win the game. Which team did you enjoy playing against the most?

Jeff Hostetler: Denver. We had Denver's number for a number of years (Hostetler was 4-4 against the Broncos). They just brought out the intensity in us. Do you keep in contact with any of your former teammates?

Jeff Hostetler: I still talk to my O-line all the time, especially Steve Wisniewski (1989-01). The relationship between a quarterback and his offensive line is special. You can't really describe it but you know when you have it. I remember a pre-season practice against Dallas one year. It was supposed to be non-contact but Leon Lett took a cheap shot at me and broke my hand. I knew my O-line had my back, so I went after him. I got one good shot in and he got one good shot in, and then it was over. My O-line came charging in and made him disappear. Do you still attend any Raider games?

Jeff Hostetler: When I get a chance. I came to the Raider game this year at Pittsburgh. I'm pretty busy but the game was in my backyard, I had to go. What are you doing now?

Jeff Hostetler: I played one more season of football after I left the Raiders. Since then, I moved back Morgantown, West Virginia. I'm very familiar with the area because I went to college at West Virginia University. I'm big into real estate, developing property and building homes, and I own a construction company. I also coach at the high school level. I have three boys: the oldest is a freshman at WVU, the middle one is a junior in high school, and the youngest is a freshman in high school. They keep me pretty busy. Are there any messages you would like to pass along to the Raider fans?

Jeff Hostetler: I loved my time out there. You're the greatest. Thanks.
Randy made some money last year....

Even though Randy Moss didn't set any receiving marks last year with the Oakland Raiders, the sales of jerseys for Moss and fellow receiver Terrell Owens earned those players more than $1 million each. Under the NFL collective bargaining agreement, on a jersey sold for $150, the NFLPA gets 7.5 percent of the sale, or $11.25, and $9 of that is given to the player.
Greatest living legends...

Our greatest living legends

Elliott Kalb

The 2006 EDS Byron Nelson Championship was played in mid-May, and the very best part was seeing 94-year old Lord Byron himself.

Although he's showed down, he's thankfully still with us, having long ago survived his golfing contemporaries. Too many of the great athletic champions of the 1940s and 50s, however, have passed away, some in the last 18 months.

The world of boxing mourns the recent death of Floyd Patterson, who won an Olympic gold medal in 1952 and became the heavyweight champion of the world four years later in an elimination tournament to determine the retired Rocky Marciano's successor. In 2005, we saw the passing of former heavyweight champ Max Schmeling, who died at the age of 99. Schmeling knocked out a young, undefeated Joe Louis in 1936.

The first great NBA star, George Mikan, died last year at the age of 80. He was the same age as college football great Glenn "Mr. Outside" Davis. Mikan's Minneapolis Lakers won five NBA championships in a six-year span. Davis's Army teams were 27-0-1 in the mid-40s.

On May 16, Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden were elected to the College Football Hall of Fame after the National Football Foundation changed its rules and decided to allow any coach over the age of 75 eligibility (instead of going on retirement status). This was one excellent move. It's about time we recognize the legends that are still with us, like the following.

1. John Wooden: born 1910

"The Wizard of Westwood" was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1961. He was enshrined again as a head coach (in 1973). In over 40 years of coaching, he won more than 80 percent of his games, and won a record 10 national championships. He didn't scout other teams. He didn't focus on opponents' tendencies.

He worked on controlling everything he and his team could control. Hall of Fame player Bill Walton tells a story of team meeting at the beginning of Walton's freshman season. The incoming players were taught the correct way to put on their socks and shoes. Many years later, Walton took his four sons to coach Wooden for them to get the same lesson. Coach Wooden has a pyramid for success, with faith and patience. Of course, the values and lessons that Wooden taught in the 1960s works today. We just need the faith and patience that so many of us lack.

2. Byron Nelson: born 1912

Nelson couldn't make it to the Masters this year, turning over the host role of the Champions Dinner to Ben Crenshaw. Crenshaw, now 54, and a regular on the Champions Tour, has a rare appreciation for golf history, and Nelson in particular. Crenshaw — who revered his golf coach at the University of Texas (the late Harvey Penick) in much the same way Walton respects Wooden — realizes that once men like Nelson are gone, they are irreplaceable.

Although Byron won the Masters for the first time in 1937, his greatest year — maybe the greatest year any golfer ever had — came in 1945. In that year, he set records with 18 victories, including 11 in a row at one point, and a stroke average of 68.34. In 1958, the Masters tournament dedicated a bridge to Nelson, a bridge that takes the golfers to the 13th tee. The Nelson Bridge commemorates Byron's play at the 1937 Masters, when he made up six shots on the final day thanks to his play on the 12th and 13th holes. Nelson is the living bridge that connects the eras in golf, from Hogan to Crenshaw to today's top shotmakers.

3. Phil Rizzuto: born 1916

"Holy Cow," the Scooter is baseball's oldest living Hall of Famer. He began his major league career with the Yankees in 1941, and was MVP of the American League in 1950. He's been a lifelong Yankee, spending decades in the broadcast booth, lasting long enough in the booth to witness a rookie shortstop destined to become the greatest Yankee shortstop of all-time (Derek Jeter).

4. Patty Berg: born 1918

One of the LPGA's 13 founding members in 1950, Berg was one of the three great women golfers in the 1940s and 50s (along with Babe Didrickson Zaharias and Louise Suggs). Berg won an LPGA record 15 major championship titles in her career, the first of which was in 1937 as an amateur. She won 44 professional titles after the age of 30. She remembers when Bobby Jones won the U.S. Open in 1930 at her home course in 1930. She remembers playing football with Bud Wilkinson, a childhood neighbor from Minneapolis who would become a legendary football coach at the University of Oklahoma. She was the very first winner of the U.S. Women's Open, in 1946.

5. Stan Musial: born 1920

Just as Nelson outlasted his two greatest competitors (Ben Hogan died in 1997, and Sam Snead passed in 2002), Musial has survived his contemporaries. Joe DiMaggio passed away in 1999. Ted Williams died in 2002. The 86-year old Musial retired from baseball 43-summers ago. He's seen it all, from the integration of major league baseball all the way to the steroid era. Albert Pujols might break many of Musial's team records before he is through, but Musial set the bar high.

6. Louise Suggs: born 1923

Suggs is one of the greatest female golfers of all time. After a great Amateur career, Suggs became a founder and Charter Member of the LPGA. She was the winner of 50 LPGA events, eight of which were major championship titles. In 1949, she won the U.S. Women's Open by 14-strokes, a record that stood for nearly four decades. She turns 83 in September.

7. Yogi Berra: born 1925

No one will ever accumulate the number of championship rings that Berra earned as a player, coach, and manager of the Yankees. He was the MVP of the American League in 1951, 1954, and 1955, and finished second to teammate Mickey Mantle in 1956. He's simply beloved, and has been for more than a half century. We should revere all our elders, because to paraphrase Yogi, "It gets late early out there."

8. George Blanda: born 1927

It is hard to believe that Blanda turns 79 in September. He was the oldest player in the NFL in 1970, a 43-year old kicker and backup quarterback. During one unbelievable five-week stretch, he passed and kicked the Oakland Raiders to a 4-0-1 record, leading them to first place in the AFC West. Here's my favorite factoid on Blanda, who played from 1949 to 1975: In 1975, Topps put out two George Blanda cards because his record was too long to fit on one.

9. Gordie Howe: born 1928

"Mr. Hockey" began his pro career at the age of 18 in 1946. I saw him play in the spring of 1980 for the Hartford Whalers, when he was 51. In 1997, he signed and played one shift for the Detroit Vipers of the IHL. He thus became the only player to play professionally in six decades (40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s). Only the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, has score more NHL goals. In a nice bit of symmetry, Howe's last NHL season was Gretzky's rookie year.

10. Bob Cousy: born 1928

He won six NBA championships, and was one of the most dominating players in the history of the game. He revolutionized the game with his ball handling and razzle dazzle. He led the NBA in assists eight straight years. His parents, by the way, were poor French immigrants. What do you think, that Tony Parker is the greatest-ever French point guard?

Honorable (if slightly younger) National Treasures:

11. Richard Petty: born 1937

He is "The King of NASCAR," and won 200 times beginning in 1958. Petty won the Daytona 500 seven times and he won the Winston Cup championship seven times. He took NASCAR from its southern roots to worldwide popularity. He turns 69 on July 2. Reaching his age is a huge upset, considering the constant danger involved in his sport. He survived three incredible crashes, once even driving with a broken neck.

12. Muhammad Ali: born 1942

He's 64 years old, and no longer floats like a butterfly or stings like a bee. He remains, however, one of boxing's greatest champions. He's been one of the world's most recognizable figures for over 40 years. He was controversial when he refused induction into the Army because his Muslim beliefs would not allow him to go to war.
Our Michael Quarshie had eight tackles for a loss in one game when playing in college for Columbia against Fordham in 2004....

Finn-ished product

Columbia's Quarshie an unlikely star


Eight days ago in upper Manhattan, on the first Saturday of his last year of college football, a Columbia defensive tackle with a No. 73 jersey and a background unlike anyone else spent almost as much time in the Fordham backfield as the Ram quarterback.

He bulldozed the line of scrimmage. He chased down screens. He threw ballcarriers around as if they were ragdolls. Fordham won the game, but that had nothing to do with Michael Quarshie, a Columbia Lion by way of Finland, Ghana, Jersey City and the sport of flag football. He got his start playing flag football. Don't remind him. "I didn't like it. I like to ram into people," Quarshie says.

Michael Quarshie is 24, a veteran of the Finnish Army, and the rarest of athletic pedigrees: a black, football-playing Finn. By game's end last week, the 6-3, 287-pound Quarshie, a senior captain, had an NCAA record-tying total of eight tackles for a loss.

Sami Porkka and Matti Lindholm are the biggest names in the microscopic orbit of the National Finnish Football League (NFFL). Sami and Matti may have to move over.

"There will be (top) guys in our league who will have eight tackles for a loss for the whole season," says Bob Shoop, Columbia's coach, who called it "one of the most dominant performances I've seen at any level."

Says Fordham coach Ed Foley, "Michael Quarshie is an outstanding defensive lineman."

Quarshie grew up singing in a renowned boys' choir in Helsinki, and looking for a sport to play. He wasn't much good in hockey, soccer, skiing, and let's not even get into ski-jumping, a Finnish passion.

"I've never tried ski-jumping, and I never would," Quarshie says, smiling. "Gravity wouldn't agree with me."

He is standing at the edge of Baker Field, the Lions' practice over, the sun setting over the Harlem River. His thickly muscled body is drenched in sweat. More than half the teams in the NFL - not the NFFL - have been in touch with Shoop about Quarshie, as well as the Lions' highly regarded tight end, Wade Fletcher. Sometimes it's still hard for Quarshie, or his parents, to fathom how fast things have gone.

"Football is very seldom even mentioned here," says Tuula Quarshie, Michael's mother, by phone from Finland.

Tuula Quarshie, a psychiatrist, met her husband, Emmanuel, a dentist, when both were studying in Germany. Emmanuel is from Ghana, Tuula from Finland. Michael was born in Germany, lived briefly in Africa and was raised in Helsinki. His family's worldly ways helped considerably as he began his own odyssey.

After a year of flag football, Quarshie, then 15, hooked on with a club team that played American football. He was a safety at first, but kept growing and lifting weights and soon moved up to the Helsinki Roosters, one of the top teams in the country. He met Porkka, who played for the University of Northern Colorado.

Impressed by Quarshie's dedication and burgeoning talent, Porkka urged him to check out American colleges, and helped him make a highlight tape to market himself.

Quarshie sent the tapes out to some 10 schools, scoured for leads, networking relentlessly with the smattering of American players who compete in Finland. For a year he heard nothing. As the 2000 season approached, Quarshie met Jeff Skinner, a former Wagner quarterback. Skinner brought his tape back to his alma mater, but there was no interest. He tried Monmouth, but there was no interest there, either, and then he went to St. Peter's, coached by Rob Stern, who liked what he saw.

By the fall of 2000, Quarshie was in uniform and didn't take long to become a stellar performer, no matter that the speed of the American game was a jolt at first, and so was all the terminology. When his coach told him one day he needed to watch out for a bootleg, Quarshie replied, "What's a bootleg?"

Quarshie, a quick study, helped the team to a 10-1 finish as a sophomore, making a number of All-American teams, and then decided he wanted an Ivy League education, and a higher level of football. He made another tape, sent it around. He hand-delivered one to Columbia, walking unannounced into the football office.

"I'm Michael Quarshie of St. Peter's College," he began. The coaching staff liked what they saw, and soon he had an academic scholarship to Columbia.

Quarshie sat out 2002, per NCAA transfer rules, and was second-team All-Ivy last year. A 3.6 student in political science, he has fit in seamlessly in Morningside Heights, in all ways. The Finnish word for sacks is sakki, and for tackles it's taklaus. He has made a lot of both.

"He's one of the smartest people I've ever met," Shoop says. "You talk to him and after five minutes you realize whatever he chooses to do in life he's going to be successful at."

The goal, for now, is to become the first Finn in the NFL. With a 375-pound power clean, a 530-pound squat and a 33-inch vertical leap, Quarshie is getting a lot of looks, and Shoop, for one, believes if he gets into the postseason all-star games, he will get even more.

Columbia took on Bucknell in its second game yesterday, and will play Princeton this Saturday on Homecoming Day. Quarshie's parents are flying in and will see Michael play in college for the first time. They will likely be impressed with what they see.

With practice complete, Quarshie yanks off his practice jersey and shoulder pads, and walks toward the Baker Field locker room. His next locker-room stop might even make him a bigger name than Sami Porkka or Matti Lindholm.

"I really love to play football," Michael Quarshie says.
More on Quarshie....

Michael Quarshie's Determination
Week One: vs. Fordham

Sean Leahy

The setting for the opening game was perfect -- the first crisp, cool night of late summer. The Lions were embarking on a season that many expected would build upon the 4-6 record in 2003. Shoop had told people since he took the job in early 2003 that he wanted expectations for Columbia football raised. And with returning starters at quarterback and running back, a returning all-Ivy second team tight end and a season of experience under a new regime, the expectations were greater than usual.

While Columbia was able to rally from an early 17-0 deficit, the Lions missed a late field goal that would have tied the game, and they could not connect all phases of their game in losing 17-14. The game foreshadowed a theme that would be repeated too many times during the season: close but not enough.
There were encouraging aspects, however, like the paltry 33 yards of rushing allowed and the scoreless second half produced by the Lions’ defense that allowed Columbia to climb back into the game.

And anchoring that defensive line was Columbia’s senior captain, defensive lineman Michael Quarshie. His eight tackles for a loss -- a feat Shoop described as a good season for many people -- earned him Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Long before there were football accolades for Quarshie, there was just a football dream hatched when he was growing up in Finland and struggling to find an identity. In those years, he was not successful at the popular local sports -- hockey, soccer and skiing. He also was not like the local kids. He was black -- his father from Ghana, and his mother from Finland.

When he saw American football on television, Quarshie wanted to try it as an outlet for his considerable energy. “Football was a huge, huge thing for me personally,” he said. “Because suddenly I did something I was very good at. I got recognized for it. Made a lot of friends through it. It did wonders for my self-esteem.”

He liked it so much that when he was about 16 he made it a goal to play college football in America. There were considerable challenges, but the determination that would later appear in his leadership of the Lions helped him get to Morningside Heights. His parents only begrudgingly approved of his playing football, and made certain that it would not conflict with school. And at school there was no football team. He played on club teams to which he sometimes traveled by bus for an hour to reach practice. Experiences like that fed his desire to compete.

In order to play college football, Quarshie had to be noticed. He made tapes of his game performances and sent them out to schools. He made friends with American players who were on Finnish teams, and asked them to show the tapes to contacts in the U.S. The process was long and at times discouraging, but Quarshie remained determined that he would succeed.

“Just waiting every single day, waiting for somebody to give you a call or something,” he said, “and then you get these bullshit letters, it was really frustrating. I thought sometimes that I wouldn’t make it, but I kept doing it though. Even though I did get depressed and frustrated, in the back of my head I knew it was going to happen somehow. Had I not gotten a scholarship, I would have taken a loan out and spent all the money I had and went to junior college for a year and hoped that through another year I’d be able to earn a scholarship somewhere. That’s what I was determined to do.”

Finally St. Peter’s College in Jersey City, N.J. offered him a scholarship and a chance to play football close to New York City, where he expected he could pursue career opportunities outside of football. After arriving there he realized that while he still wanted to play football, including taking a shot at the NFL if his talent would allow, he also wanted to prepare his mind to succeed after his physical skills deteriorated.

“I realized there are a lot of things that are out of your control when you’re a college athlete,” he said. “You do control your destiny to some degree, but there are things that you just can’t influence. You can’t control whether you get hurt or not. And there are other things. You might have run-ins with the coach or stuff like that. And so I realized that I wanted to make sure I got something more than just four years of football out of it.”

He identified the Ivy League as an ideal destination since it was an upgrade academically and athletically over St. Peter’s. But he didn’t want his game tape to sit in a box or to be forgotten among hundreds of others. So he decided to walk into the football office at Columbia and give the coaches an impression of his size, his desire to play football and his game tape.

After transferring and losing a year of eligibility, Quarshie’s first game for Columbia coincided with Shoop’s debut. The coach embraced his new defensive tackle not only for his ability but also for his maturity. “He’s like talking to a peer almost rather than talking to one of the student-athletes,” Shoop said of him.

It was his maturity, his life experience (he served six months mandatory service in the Finnish army before enrolling at St. Peter’s), and his age (at 25, he was the oldest player by 23 months) that set Quarshie apart from his teammates.

The players elected Quarshie one of three captains for 2004 not because he gave rah-rah speeches in the locker room but because of the example he set with his daily preparation and performance. He regularly led groups of players to the pool for extra training and therapy on their sore bodies, and he offered advice to younger players on matters ranging from improving their nutrition to surviving the grind of the long and arduous season.

Quarshie did not impose his thoughts on teammates, but gladly recommended to those who asked that maintaining their bodies was the most important part of their preparation. “I will do anything I can to keep myself in shape throughout the season,” he said, “because I want to perform every single game.”

Quarshie was similar to his teammates in that he pursued long-term career plans in fields like international relations and finance, but he was rare among Columbia players because he had a chance to move on to the NFL in 2005. Quarshie attended an NFL combine for international students in late February, and was hopeful that the roster exemptions the league gives teams to sign international players would help him catch on with a club.

“My ability to play football is not always going to be there,” he said. “And it’s not my only way of surviving. It’s not like I’m doing it because it’s my only shot of doing something significant. I mean I think I can do a lot of things besides play football. But I want to find out whether or not I can play [in the NFL].” Part of the reason he conditioned his 6-foot, 3-inch, 285 pound frame so carefully was because he knew he had a limited number of opportunities to showcase himself for NFL scouts.

While his individual audition may have been positive on that September opening night against Fordham, the team’s performance was not, and Quarshie was not happy. “It sucks having a good game and losing,” he said. “You can’t celebrate that.”
Here is his profile...

Michael Quarshie


Helsinki, Finland

High School:
Simokyla Upper Secondary

Height / Weight:
6-3 / 285


At Columbia: Impressive football player, with good size and speed ... made immediate impression on team by being elected captain after one season in Light Blue uniform ... was not eligible to play in 2002 following transfer from St. Peter's College due to NCAA regulations ... dominant player both in Finland, where he played football, and at St. Peter's on the college level. 2003: Second-team All-Ivy ... fourth on the team in tackles with 57 ... 12 tackles for a loss led team and was 11th in the conference ... two fumble recoveries was tied for fourth in Ivies ... had a sack vs. Yale ... Academic All-Ivy. At St. Peter's College: Two-time letterwinner ... second on team with 49 tackles as a freshman, 11 for 63 lost yards ... also had a team- and conference-best 9.5 sacks in 2001 ... two forced fumbles ... fourth in second year with 52 stops, 21 for a loss of 55 yards ... added 5.5 sacks ... helped Peacocks to 10-1 record as sophomore, good for second place in the conference ... named Defensive Player and Rookie of the Week in first season ... also made second-team all-league ...made NCAA Division I-AA Mid-Major All-American second team ... The Sports Network Division I-AA Mid-Major All-American ... Dan Hansen's Football Gazette I-AA Mid-Major All-American second team ... All-MAAC first team as sophomore ... Academic all-conference. At Simonkyla Upper S.S.: No high school football in Finland, but played on club and military teams ... played for the Helsinki Roosters in the Finnish National League, captaining the squad in 1997, 1999 and 2000 ... led the squad to a top-three league finish each year from 1997 to 2000, taking first in 1997 and 2000 ... advanced to Eurobowl semi-finals in 1997 and 1999 ... Roosters' defensive MVP in 1997 ... Maple League All-Star in 1999 ... led league with 11 sacks. Personal: Political science major ... enjoys music and fishing ... served in Finland's Army ... runner-up finish in the military-wrestling event at the Annual National Military Combat Tournament ... Michael Odei Quarshie, b. 11/13/79 in Erlangen, Germany.
Jeff Hostetler: I still talk to my O-line all the time, especially Steve Wisniewski (1989-01). The relationship between a quarterback and his offensive line is special. You can't really describe it but you know when you have it. I remember a pre-season practice against Dallas one year. It was supposed to be non-contact but Leon Lett took a cheap shot at me and broke my hand. I knew my O-line had my back, so I went after him. I got one good shot in and he got one good shot in, and then it was over. My O-line came charging in and made him disappear.

You gotta love that.....too bad Kerry Collins didn't seem to have that bond with the O-Line!! :p
You know, my real question is: What value is Michael Quarshie? I like the kid. I want to see him succeed, but when will he be able to cntribute at the NFL level, and what will that contribution be? I have no NFL-level action to draw a conclusion from.

Maybe he played in the pre-season last year, but some dumbass scheduled my vacation to Germany during all of August.
Here is what Tim Brown was thinking when deciding on retirement....


Retire, of course. I know there are alot of people out there who are wondering whether or not I will retire. Honestly, right now I can't say. I seem to be leaning more towards retiring than playing. But my heart won't let me say that. I will hopefully make my decision around draft time, if not then, it won't be until the end of training camp before I decide. There are many issues to consider in pondering retirement. The biggest being whether to pick my wife and 4 kids and moved them to a new city. Being a family man, that's a very difficult decision to make. There are other factors, will a coach be upfront and honest, that obviously wasn't the case for me last year in Tampa. Stay tuned. What ever happens, it promises to be an exciting year for me and my fans.
Some info on Tim....

What is your favorite movie?

The Color Purple

My hobbies and leisure activities include:

My hobbies and leisure activities include golf, bowling and racquetball.

My favorite quotation is:

"I will lift up my eyes to the hills which cometh my help, my help cometh from the Lord", Psalms 121:1

What is your favorite food?

Fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, hot water, cornbread and grits

Few people know that:

Few people know that I'm probably going to end up being a preacher.

When I finish playing football, I would like to:

When I finish playing football, I would like to continue my business venture with my own company, Pro Moves.

The best advice I have ever received (and from whom) is:

The best advice I have ever been given was You don't have to do the crime to be charged with it - in other words, be careful who you're hanging out with, my father.
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