Every year around this time, NFL prospects gather in Mobile, Alabama for the beginning of what amounts to a three-month job interview, complete with numerous forty-yard dashes, questions about their upbringing, and requests to "cough while I stick my fingers right...HERE!" It's a fascinating time for the diehard NFL fan, especially nowadays with coverage on the NFL Network, as you get to watch the soap opera of "can he or can't he play in the NFL?" play out right on your TV screen.
Every year, there are a few upstarts who make their mark and realize their improbable dream, and every year there are just as many whose hopes are shattered amidst assessments of a "slow release" or the inability to take a snap under center. You can see where I'm going with this....
The 2010 Senior Bowl has essentially been rendered the NFL's version of 24, with Tim Tebow playing the role of Jack Bauer. Unfortunately thus far for Tebow, if Jack Bauer were as shitty at foiling crime as Tebow has been at simple NFL quarterback drills, we would all now be speaking Chinese or Russian or the official language of the unnamed Middle Eastern country that we are always at odds with on that show.
As amazing as it sounds, we all kind of saw this coming, didn't we? Urban Meyer's spread offense combined with ungodly talent around him (and to be fair, his own ungodly talent as well) were always enough to make up for whatever mechanical deficiencies Tebow had in his throwing motion and make up for the fact that he hasn't had to take a snap from under center since before puberty.
Unfortunately, the NFL requires its quarterbacks to execute simple things like accepting a snap under center, dropping back without falling over, and then delivering a pass in less than, oh, say four seconds. Drills at the Senior Bowl thus far have shown Tebow is struggling at grasping all of these skills.
For Tebow fans there's no reason to panic; the "taking a snap" and "dropping back" skills are things that will come with repetition. The slow release is what it is. But right now, watching Tebow go through drills in Mobile is like watching Clark Kent/Superman get his ass kicked by that trucker in the diner in Superman II. You remember after Superman gave up all of his super powers so he could marry Lois Lane (EASILY the most one-sided rout that pussywhippedness has inflicted on the males species ever)? And right after that, he tried to go all "Superman" on some old dirtbag that was hitting on Lois in a greasy spoon and Clark wound up bloodied and on his back? It was surreal watching the Man of Steel get handled so easily by a ham-and-egger like Perverted Trucker Guy. Well, right now for Tebow, taking a snap under center and going into a simple five-step drop is his Perverted Trucker Guy.
So until Tebow can handle routine quarterback tasks that are being handled easily by high school freshmen who aren't playing in a spread offense, let's come up with a few other reasons for NFL fans to stay dialed into the happenings in Mobile this week, shall we?
What else is there? Well, I'll tell you....
1. TERRANCE CODY'S BREASTS
NFL scouting folks have a term for players who are over 300 pounds and have eaten themselves to the point where there is no discernible sign of muscle anywhere on their torso. The term is "mudslide." Ironically, 2009's Mudslide of the Year was Alabama offensive lineman Andre Smith, who inexplicably decided it would be a good idea to run a forty yard dash without his shirt on.
Well, perhaps in some peculiar effort to show that strength and conditioning is not a requirement to win a national championship, this year Alabama has given us Terrance Cody. I don't even know how to describe the pictures that have popped up of Cody. I kid you not, his breasts are so big that at first I had that "NSFW" feeling when I was looking at them on my computer, like I was doing something wrong. Indeed, they're real...and they're spectacular.
2. STAFON JOHNSON'S THROAT
Back in September, USC running back Stafon Johnson was involved in one of the most unnerving injuries that we've heard about in quite some time. Getting a lift in during a normal school week, Johnson had a 275-pound barbell come crashing down on his throat while performing a bench press. The injury went from potentially life-threatening down to merely career-threatening, and now fast-forward to this weekend and Johnson is back on the field with a clean bill of health (other than some noticeable scratchiness in his voice). If you're looking for someone to root for this weekend in the game, Stafon Johnson is a good place to start.
3. LeGARRETTE BLOUNT'S RESTRAINT FROM COLD-COCKING SOMEONE
The fact that LeGarrette Blount is playing in this Senior Bowl is in some ways even more improbable than Stafon Johnson's playing in the game, but for entirely different reasons. Coming into 2009 as a preseason All-American for the Oregon Ducks according to some, Blount seemingly flushed his entire football career down the drain in one bad night after the Ducks lost to Boise State in Boise 19-8 on September 3. After the game, Blount dropped a trash talking Boise State lineman with a stiff right cross, and then had to be restrained from going into the stands as he was escorted from the field.
The fact that Oregon moved on just fine without him probably did further harm to his NFL prospects. Then later in the season, Oregon coach Chip Kelly decided to bring Blount back where he accepted a backup role to the suddenly blossoming LaMichael James. Blount proved to be a trustworthy teammate and positive influence the rest of the way, paving the way to perhaps getting back into the first two rounds of the NFL draft.
4. CHRIS BROWN, MERELY BECAUSE OF HIS NAME
I only bring up Oklahoma running back Chris Brown because if you're a Texans fan, then you know that the Texans' front office has a fetish for anyone named "Chris Brown," plus if they decide to cut big, slow Colorado Buff Chris Brown, they won't even need to change out a locker or stitch up a new jersey by drafting the younger, speedier Brown.
5. MARDY GILYARD, WHO USED TO BE HOMELESS
Cincinnati's resurgence under Brian Kelly is one of the great stories over the last few years in college football. Mardy Gilyard went from almost not being a part of it to being perhaps the biggest part of it. Recruited to Cincinnati from Florida, after a freshman year with some major discipline issues including owing the school nearly $7,000, Gilyard was suspended by then-Cincy head coach Mark Dantonio (who coincidentally lately has been showing he was just getting warmed up at Cincy, suspending over ten MSU players in a frat-house brawl).
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Kelly came in and offered Gilyard a clean slate and his scholarship back, provided he pay the school the $7,000 he owed. Gilyard worked three jobs, including the ultimate in humbling occupations -- selling items door to door. He also slept in his car on more than one occasion. Tough love, but he earned his way back into school, onto the team, and now is staring at the possibility of being a first-round pick. Not bad.
6. MYRON ROLLE, RHODES SCHOLAR
The high school player of the year in 2005, Rolle decided to take his talents to Florida State where he was not only a top-notch defensive back, but also qualified for a Rhodes Scholarship. With the college football world still trying to wrap its collective brain around the idea of an FSU Seminole focusing on academia, Rolle went off to Oxford to study medicine for a year. Well, he's back now and looking to make a go at an NFL career. Top storyline for Rolle -- will he get dinged on "love of the game" points because he decided to walk away for a year to study in England. I mean, the nerve of the guy....
7. ZOLTAN MESKO...
Normally, I wouldn't include a punter in the top storylines, but the NFL has never had a player named "Zoltan" take the field (I looked it up!). This intrigues me only because "Zoltan Mesko" sounds like someone who could get into some good "here's why we hate kickers and punters" trouble off the field. Can't you just see the headline "CHIEFS PUNTER ZOLTAN MESKO ARRESTED FOR BANKROLLING METH LAB"?? Because I totally can.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the Sean & John Show, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.