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A few hours before the 2012 NFL season kicks off, I offer you the 32 reasons why there won’t be a winner of Super Bowl XLVII. You might think I’m an arrogant SOB for picking 32 reasons, but it’s not because the 2012 NFL season opens on my 32nd birthday. It’s just that the NFL happens to have 32 teams.

AFC East

Buffalo – Remember last season when the Bills started 3-0 and then gave QB Ryan Fitzpatrick $60 million? Remember how the next 13 games went?

Miami – I know football is a “team game,” but you need a few stars and household names. Quick. Someone name me three Dolphins. And remember they cut Ocho Cinco three weeks ago.

New England – Good chance the Red Sox will find a way to sabotage the Patriots’ season as well. Probably by showing up to their locker room at noon on Sundays with cases of beer and buckets of chicken.

NY Jets – The offensive line and running game have regressed dramatically. If Mark Sanchez throws a strike, the wide receivers will drop it. If the wide receivers get open, Tim Tebow will one-hop it to them.

AFC South

Houston – It’s not brain surgery on how to stop the Texans’ offense. Put nine guys in the box to contain Arian Foster and double-team Andre Johnson with the other guys.

Indianapolis – The Colts are running the Ravens’ attacking defensive scheme. Problem is they are running it without Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and Haloti Ngata.

Jacksonville – Maurice Jones-Drew ended his holdout over the weekend. That doubled their projected points per game from 3 to 6.

Tennessee – Two years ago Chris Johnson was running 4.2 40-yard dashes and went for 2,000 yards. Now, Jake Locker might be a better runner than he is.

AFC North

Baltimore – Ray Rice will be winded by Week 10 because the Ravens are going to give it to him 40 times a game. And then Mondays through Saturdays, Ray Lewis beats the crap out of him in drills at practice.

Cincinnati – This is the first time since 1948 that Marvin Lewis hasn’t needed to make the playoffs to keep his job. The Bengals only seem to perform with that sense of urgency. And this team is boring withouth those T.O.-Ochocinco public access talk shows.

Cleveland – Captain Hook would be their #1 receiver. Seriously, Kathy Griffin has more talent than their wide receivers.

Pittsburgh – The defense is old. It’s so old Paul Ryan guaranteed his changes to Medicare would not affect them.

AFC West

Denver – Broncos fans will have to hope that Peyton Manning and Brandon Stokley connect like it’s 2007 and pretend like neither of them had to sit out a recent entire season.

Kansas City – Their entire offense is coming back from a collective knee injury and the defensive front seven is full of former first round picks that you totally forgot about.

Oakland – Years ago, the Raiders used first-round picks on a QB and a kicker – only the kicker is still on the roster. Their three QBs are Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Terrelle Pryor. Good luck.

San Diego – Norv Turner has been on the hot seat for years. This is the year the ax falls. Side note: The only career that Tila Tequila sabotaged quicker than her own was Shawne Merriman’s.

NFC East

Dallas – The Cowboys will hold 10-point leads in the fourth quarter of every game this season until Tony Romo throws two interceptions, one of which will always get returned for a touchdown.

NY Giants – Tom Coughlin printed shirts for the entire team with the motto “Build the Bridge.” If that doesn’t get you fired up to repeat, I don’t know what will.

Philadelphia – Don’t worry, gang. Michael Vick is going to play this year in some sort of NASA-produced bullet-proof flak jacket. So, he’s guaranteed to miss only 9 of the team’s 16 games.

Washington – If you received .5 fantasy football points per drop, Pierre Garcon would be the top wide receiver in every office league. In real football, it hinders offensive production.

NFC South

Atlanta – The Falcons lost their defensive coordinator to Auburn. He had that really sweet mustache and the huge wristband with all the plays. You don’t overcome that.

Carolina – The easy reason would be the dreaded sophomore slump for Cam Newton. But, for that to be true, he also would have experienced the dreaded freshman 15. Bigger cop-out reason: they are in a division with a ticked-off New Orleans and talented Atlanta.  

New Orleans – They require an interim coach for their interim coach because he’s suspended six games. If they are paying their attorneys more than $3/hour, the team will be bankrupt by Week 7.

Tampa Bay – Chip Kelly realized he had more talent at Oregon than he would have with the Buccaneers’ roster. So he turned down the job.

NFC North

Chicago – Jay Cutler and one of the girls from The Hills had a baby. Not a good sign when the country collectively made a “Hey, Jay Cutler did have a completion last year” joke.

Detroit – Recently, the Lions have made the Portland Jail-blazers of the late 1990s/early 2000s seem like model citizens.

Green Bay – It’s only a matter of time until the entire offense pops a groin celebrating a TD with the “Discount Double-Check” belt thing. The Lambeau Leap thing was much safer.

Minnesota – Adrian Peterson only has one good ACL. They need him to have at least six good ACLs: two to run the ball, two to play wide receiver, and two to cover the opponent’s best wideout.

NFC West

Arizona – A lot of times, competition for starting jobs in camp means you have viable options and it brings out their best. The Cardinals just have John Skelton and Kevin Kolb.

San Francisco – At some point this year, Jim Harbaugh is going to get so angry he headbutts a guy who is wearing a helmet. It will not be pretty.

Seattle – Talk about Russell Wilson all you want, but this is the least-talented USC team that Pete Carroll has had. And, Matt Leinart quarterbacked several of those USC teams.

St. Louis – I don’t care if it was the first week of the preseason, they lost 38-3 to the Colts.

Good to have you back, NFL.


The NBA Draft and last call at Rock Lobster share one thing in common and it’s not a European that no one invited emerging from the crowd to hug David Stern after pick 57. Both are considered the land of opportunity. A world where “upside” trumps video from 40 games played during the last college basketball season.

It’s a time of the year when 29 teams just saw another team hoist the trophy. Often, it’s so close to the last game of the NBA Finals that teams can’t think rationally. For example, Houston is rumored to be stockpiling picks in the hopes that Orlando will trade them Dwight Howard for a one-year rental. And that they’ll be able to convince Deron Williams to sign a free agent deal. Neither has any desire to buy a house in Houston.

This week, the Pacers front office bid adieu to Larry Bird and David Morway, welcomed Donnie Walsh and promoted Kevin Pritchard. All smart men. All have been part of one of the most prolonged rebuilding efforts in NBA history. A third-place finish in the East and a series loss to the Miami Heat is a pretty good season.

The Pacers need to realize this is step two in a series of steps.

(An aside here) In February of 2011, I was down in Dallas for the Super Bowl. I remember sitting in a Mexican restaurant, arguing about the Pacers over under-seasoned guacamole and oversized margaritas. My point was the NBA is not like college basketball or the NFL. The parts equal the parts; there is no sum that is greater than the parts themselves. The Pacers didn’t have a top-five player at any position, and in a superstar-driven league, that meant the Pacers would finish as a team where their players ranked. If you have the 16th-best player at each position, that makes you an 8 seed. It’s just math because you don’t play NBA games with 15 guys, you play them with eight, four of whom have a real impact.

But, I was proven wrong this season. George Hill, Darren Collison, Paul George, Danny Granger, David West, Tyler Hansbrough, and Roy Hibbert did something they shouldn’t have on paper. I’ll concede that Granger has been an All-Star and Hibbert was one this season. Still, Nike isn’t basing 2013 sales on advertising plans with any of these guys.

The knee-jerk reaction (and what fans in central Indiana are clamoring for) would be to make a big move to put them over the top. Let me say that I love Indianapolis, but it’s not a place where many 25-year-old millionaires are going to choose to sign as free agents. So, you build through trades or the draft. And the Pacers have done this well. Would I entertain a Danny Granger for Eric Gordon trade? Yes, I would. But New Orleans has the leverage there and won’t be forced into a sign-and-trade for their lone NBA talent (prior to the 8:30 p.m. first pick). Don’t overthink the fact that Granger is your superstar, but maybe the #3 option on other teams. Don’t trade him for two picks or a second-year player with tons of upside. What you have is working. Stay the course.

So, in the coming weeks you re-sign George Hill and Roy Hibbert at market value and allow this team to continue to grow together. You follow the Oklahoma City model as compared to Miami. (And let me say the OKC model is much easier with multiple top-5 picks, which the Pacers have not had. What Larry Bird has done to assemble this team has been remarkable.) You re-sign Leandro Barbosa at a good price to get you some scoring off the bench. You find a Joel Pryzbilla-type to back up Hibbert. And you find two or three other pieces to look good in warm-ups on the bench during games.

And tonight you draft another piece of the puzzle. A point guard like Kentucky’s Marquis Teague to groom for a year in case you decide Darren Collison isn’t worth a big contract as a back-up point guard next year. A wing player such as Vanderbilt’s Jeff Taylor or a big body such as Vandy’s Festus Ezeli to add to your rotation. Even a power forward who falls – such as St. Bonaventure’s Andrew Nicholson – could witness on the bench for a year and then become your back-up if you only re-sign one of the two impending free agent power forwards (West and Hansbrough).

Patience. Stay the course. Allow this plan so long in the making to come to fruition. You won me over this year; you must be doing something right.

A few draft predictions (I mean wild assumptions) prior to the first pick:

– If Jared Sullinger is on the board once the lottery concludes at number 14, every NBA team should take him. At that point in the draft, you’re most likely looking at a role player who will contribute for no more than five years. Sullinger’s production makes him worth the injury risk. He’s DeJuan Blair with more college accolades.

– I don’t think there will be as many trades as the experts expect tonight. If this draft is so deep (and so lacking superstars), most teams are going to have a lot of guys with similar grades on the board. It doesn’t make sense to give up additional assets to trade up for a player who has a carbon copy who will fall in your lap.

– Will be an interesting night for the Tar Heels. I don’t like Harrison Barnes nearly as much as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Bradley Beal, but he’ll go high. I think Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Kendall Marshall could all fall out of the lottery. Might be that there are so many similar frames (Meyers Leonard, Andre Drummond, Terrence Jones, etc.) and if you are flipping coins, you go back to the tape. Because of the Tar Heels’ depth, those guys don’t show up as often on the tape.

– The Hornets would be wise to use the #10 pick on a center to take some pressure off Anthony Davis. Meyers Leonard or Andre Drummond would be a good risk worth taking. You can always find a serviceable point guard (Ty Lawson, Darren Collison, Andre Miller) that a team is willing to move because they have two and both are due paydays.

– I like Draymond Green, but he is a man without a position. He doesn’t have an NBA power forward body and he’s not quick enough to guard NBA small forwards. But, he’s a great locker room guy and worth the first pick of the second round for a team that needs to establish a winning culture.

– I am extremely biased, but Vandy’s John Jenkins is the best shooter (by far) in this draft, especially in terms of contested threes. Vandy’s Jeff Taylor is the most athletic wing in this draft. And Vandy’s Festus Ezeli has the most NBA-ready body of the centers in this draft. If you get any of those three in the second round, you’re getting extremely strong value.

– Three players worth trading a future second-rounder to get a pick between 50 and 60 and select in this year’s draft: Kentucky’s Darius Miller (will be a great role player and defender on a good team), Marquette’s Jae Crowder (this year’s Kenneth Farried of Nuggets fame), and Kevin Jones from West Virginia (productive college player who will carve out a 10-year career as an 8-point, 5-rebound guy in limited minutes off your bench – He’s Ryan Gomes, but you don’t know who Ryan Gomes is, but he’s been in the league 10 years, averaging 8 and 5).

Another attempt to revive the Dedman Talking column/blog. This thing has had more comeback tours than Wilson Phillips…with similar fanfare.

A quick word of caution (or perhaps something that might excite you): I checked the smart-assyness at the door and went a little sappy with this one. My sarcastic viewpoint on the world of sports will return the next time you visit this site.

Last week, I did something pretty cool. I attended the St.Vincent Sports Performance Spirit of Sports Awards at Clowes Hall on the Butler campus. In terms of sporting events and award shows, I’ve seen a lot of cool ones. But, this one was different. Different in that it celebrated those often away from the limelight: coaches, athletic trainers and student managers.

Don’t get me wrong, if you’re looking to leave an event feeling bad about your lackluster high school athletic career, this was the event for you. There was an all-state football player who scored a perfect 36 on the math portion of the ACT. He’s going to Harvard. He’s thinking about law school, but keeping his options open. I wouldn’t be surprised if he isn’t escorting several blind nuns to morning Mass as I type this. But in addition to the scholar-athlete and the kid who has come back from two torn ACLs, the Spirit of Sports Awards highlighted something we don’t recognize often: those individuals whose happiness comes from the success of others and those whose success is found in the happiness of others.

Let me also say here that the event was emceed by Clark Kellogg. There is no one better than the CBS Basketball analyst and Pacers Vice President of Player Development. He could commentate my work day from my office and make it sound exciting. “Dedman working the keyboard like a Juilliard-trained pianist. Some would merely slap a period there and call it a day, but not Dedman. Throw in an exclamation point, Big Fella.”

At some point, CBS will realize that Kellogg would be the perfect remedy to its sagging nightly news ratings. Imagine Clarkbringing you the nightly news: “Police confiscated $100,000 of drugs. The two suspects remain at large, but I really like the investigatability of the detectives on the case. Look for authorities to come out strong in the next 24 hours and take care of this.” Who wouldn’t watch that?

The stories that resonated with me were those student managers and student athletic trainers who have sacrificed personally to be part of others’ success, of team success. The 31-year-old me who has been a father for just more than four months appreciated this more than the 17-year-old me would.

Even at the age of 31, I love the spotlight. The 31-year-old me is selfish in many ways. For these individuals to find true happiness in the success of others and work tirelessly (and in many cases, quietly) to assist in that is commendable. To do it at the age of 17, well, that’s just remarkable. That’s probably why there is a good chance the 31-year-old version of me will end up working for the 17-year-old version of them at some point down the road.

As I was driving home, in between bobbing my head to “Call Me Maybe” as it mysteriously and repeatedly played on seven of my 10 pre-set radio stations, I realized that I have always been surrounded by these special people. My lovely wife is the definition of selfless. For the last four months, she’s lived and breathed our daughter Brynn. She’s a natural. Her happiness comes in Brynn’s smiles and successful burps. And that makes sense. She comes from a family of teachers and coaches, those who find their joy in putting others in situations where they can succeed.

Growing up, there was no bigger fan I had than my Mom. She drove to some of the most rural locations throughout Kentucky on Friday nights and Saturday mornings to watch me run cross country meets in 30-degree weather and play three minutes in varsity basketball games. Her happiness came in the success of me and my sister. (As a side note, my sister Amy was much more successful than I was growing up, and while she was doing things better than I had, she was doing it about 21 months behind me, so she got fewer high-fives.)

My dad is a doctor…and a damn good one. His success is measured in the happiness others are able to experience over lives that he helps to extend. It’s a profession where all you do is help people. And often, they get mad at you for trying to help and for having their best interests in mind because those are not easy conversations.

Four months into parenthood, you start to realize that no one impacts their child’s success more than parents, most of it done without the appropriate gratitude from your kids for 18 years, 31 years, maybe even 80 years. Sometimes it takes seeing a bunch of outsiders to understand the impact of those close to you.

I hope that Brynn is surrounded by caring individuals such as this throughout her life. I really hope that Brynn is one of these caring individuals who selflessly makes an impact on others.  

This is a no-brainer. Forget Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher, the offensive coordinator from the Saints, Jim Tressel, Jim Mora, Jim Mora Jr., and anyone who has been a coordinator with the Denver Broncos for less than 11 months.

The perfect man to be the next coach of the Indianapolis Colts is sitting by the phone, waiting on that call. “We have a collect call for John Madden. It’s Indy. They want to talk.”

You might say he hasn’t coached since the year Yao Ming or Jessica Simpson was born. I say the facts don’t lie. Let’s break it down.

John Madden doesn’t like to fly. He drives an RV across most of the country. Indiana elected a Governor after he drove an RV all over the state.

Unless Morten Andersen comes out of retirement, the Colts are going to have one of the NFL’s oldest placekickers in Adam Vinatieri. John Madden was the best thing that ever happened to really old placekicker Pat Summerall.

John Madden was a defensive coach at San Diego State. The last defense-focused coach at San Diego State is loved throughout Indiana and that’s even as the head coach at Michigan. John Madden enjoys a hearty meal. Indiana loves coaches with a little bit of a gut. All we’ve heard around here is how much Howard Mudd and Tom Moore are missed.

Colts fans are worried they’ll need a coach who can draw up plays on the fly in case Peyton Manning isn’t out there to navigate the calls at the line of scrimmage. No one – NO ONE – works the telestrator like John Madden. Imagine what he could do with a white board without Al Michaels annoying the hell out of Madden while he’s trying to highlight the pulling guard and a guy eating a hotdog in the third row.

John Madden made a habit of rewarding strong play on the field with a turkey leg. We all saw those Thanksgiving Day games on FOX. The Indianapolis 500 rewards strong driving with a bottle of milk. Imagine how hard the Colts would play if Madden was handing out fried tenderloins.

Colts fans, don’t overthink this. Follow the facts…and the trail of empty bags of pork rinds that leads directly to John Madden.

The guy who takes your daughter to prom. The guy who leads your mission trip to El Salvador. The guy who gives the pep talk to the 5th grade CYO team before they go out and dominate the second half. Tim Tebow is perfect for all of these things.

He just isn’t perfect as an NFL starting quarterback. In fact, he isn’t average as an NFL starting quarterback. Nothing against Tebow. I like him. But, he isn’t among the 16 or so men who can regularly win games as an NFL starting QB (or the two or three currently in the college ranks who will join that group).

He’d be a great CEO. He’d be a great choice to escort fellow Gator Erin Andrews to the ESPYs. He would be horrible in a cameo appearance on “Sister Wives.” He has heart. He has intangibles. He has a way of rallying grown men to push themselves a little harder than others can.

But the NFL is a tangible league. It’s a game where star power forwards become average NFL tight ends. The NFL is where bench-pressing 225 pounds 30 times will get you a try-out, but not a guaranteed paycheck.

Above all the things I’ve mentioned, Tim Tebow would be a solid starting NFL fullback and would have a nice career making tackles on punt coverage.

It’s not Tebow’s fault that Josh McDaniels drafted him in the first round. It’s not Tebow’s fault that all of Colorado has forgotten about John Elway’s skill set and think that Tebow can actually win NFL games consistently. Perhaps offensive lineman will block with a little more gusto if you’re the one leading them in the huddle. But those intangibles won’t get the football out of your hand quicker with defensive ends closing in on you. Those intangibles won’t put that throw on a receiver’s numbers as they come out of a break on an out route.

The Elias Sports Bureau says Tim Tebow is the first quarterback to overcome a 15-point deficit with less than three minutes remaining in a game. Tebow is also the quarterback you saw for the first 57 minutes of that game. And that win came against a Miami Dolphins team with Matt Moore at quarterback that would struggle to be in the top 10 of this week’s BCS standings.

People look at Tim Tebow and say he won’t be successful because they haven’t seen a Tim Tebow-type have success in the past. Maybe that is ignorant. At the same time, the skill set and tangibles of those quarterbacks who have won consistently – Montana, Elway, Unitas, Brady, Manning – share many common attributes.

I’m not wishing that Tim Tebow doesn’t have success; I’m just not banking on it. Correction. I think Tim Tebow will have a lot of success. It’s just likelier to be as my life coach than as an NFL starting quarterback.

NFL starting quarterbacks are more likely to come from the 1-AA ranks than Alabama or Wisconsin. Currently, there are more NFL starting quarterbacks with Ivy League educations than varsity letters from Notre Dame. Now is it borderline absurd to take the 32 starting quarterbacks in week 1 of the 2011 NFL season and make statistical assumptions based on that finite group? Yes, but it’s a lot of fun.

Let’s look at the tale of the tape.

The 32 quarterbacks come from 27 different schools. The only colleges turning out multiple starting QBs: Michigan (Brady – mainly a back-up there – and Henne), USC (Cassel – always a back-up there – and Sanchez), Auburn (Newton and Campbell), and the powerhouses that are Purdue (Orton and Brees) and Boston College (Ryan and Hasselbeck).

There are obviously 25 teams ranked this week in the Associated Press poll. Only six of those programs have an alum who is currently a starting NFL quarterback (Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Florida, Texas, TCU and Michigan).

The 32 starting quarterbacks are spaced over 14 conferences, including Fitzpatrick of Harvard and the Ivy League,  Romo of Eastern Illinois and the Ohio Valley, Flacco of Delaware and the CAA, and Tarvaris Jackson of Alabama State and the SWAC. The SEC led with six NFL starters (seven if you bench Kerry Collins and add in Peyton Manning), followed by five each from the ACC and Big Ten (including Collins), and four from the Pac-12 (which includes Utah’s Alex Smith even though he didn’t play in the Pac-12). If you count TCU’s Andy Dalton as a member of the Big East (where they begin play next year), that would give the Big East two quarterbacks, breaking their tie with the MAC and Conference USA. Of course, you would probably also have to move Syracuse and Donovan McNabb to the ACC, so the Big East would be back to one.

Without double-checking my math on this category, 13 of the NFL starting quarterbacks were drafted outside the first round. That number does include Brees who was snagged with the first pick of the second round.

The path to a starting QB spot in the NFL has much more to do with how you measure up at the annual NFL Combine than your high school 5-star ranking, where you went to college, your stats there, the system you ran, or how many games your college wins today.

It’s an inexact science to under center. A mix of big-bonus draft picks and late round afterthoughts. The “Cradle of Quarterbacks” has two starters, but one of those (Orton in Denver) is trying to be overtaken by a Heisman should-be tight end from Florida, where a Heisman winner in a pass-happy system (Danny Wuerffel) never panned out in the NFL, just like an option-running Heisman winner from Nebraska (Eric Crouch) never started one game under center in the big leagues.

Maybe Andrew Luck is a sure thing, but don’t sleep on Tulsa’s G.J. Kinne, who threw four picks yesterday.

You remember Alfonso Ribeiro. You know, Carlton Banks on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Of course, that show ended in 1996. And Will Smith decided to hitch his wagon to movies and lose DJ Jazzy Jeff. Poor Alfonso was still left doing this.

What happened in Bel-Air is being mirrored on the east coast where the Big East hitched its wagon to basketball in a world that only appreciates football.

The BCS is king, providing millions of dollars to each of the power conferences compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars alloted to the power conferences for each NCAA Basketball Tournament appearance. The Big East is billed as a great basketball conference, one that includes Marquette, Villanova and Georgetown among others. The problem is those schools don’t feature Bowl Championship Series football. Schools are worried they will be left without a prom date, so they’re taking the most stable invite they can get.

Pittsburgh and Syracuse jump to the ACC; UConn is begging the ACC to call them. TCU is stuck in the Big East (without having played one game) when a spot in the Big 12 might now be open for the taking.

The ironic thing about all of this is the Big East is the perfect example of why we should avoid 16-team super-conferences. Those basketball teams beat up on each other throughout the regular season. A 5-day conference tournament wears out many of those teams and leaves your top seeds sometimes with devalued rankings when NCAA Tournament seeds are dispersed. Coaches complain that with 16 teams, you play each team once and randomly only a few random teams twice.

Now imagine condensing that basketball schedule into a football schedule where you might not play a team for two out of three years?

And so a group of schools with like missions of mediocre football or no football, and geographical compatibility are left twisting in the wind.  South Florida, Rutgers, Louisville, Cincinnati. Left in a tough place where you aren’t cool enough to recruit your friends to come play with you and not desirable enough for someone to come in and swoop you up.

You are Drew Barrymore in a world of Angelina Jolies.

So, what do you do? Invest in mediocre friends? Maybe East Carolina? Or do you sit back and hope you get pulled off the scrap heap by someone looking to fill out a 16-team roster?

Either way, you’re getting left behind. Pittsburgh and Syracuse got “Welcomed to Miami” and you’re left behind, waiting for Geoffrey the Butler to make you a PB&J and counsel you on why the girls won’t return your call.

Calm Down. JaMarcus Russell was a Bust; Anthony Gonzalez Just Hasn’t Panned Out.

I’m so sick of hearing about Colts WR Gonzalez and this “bust” label. You cannot be a bust if you’re the 32nd pick in the draft and signed to a 5-year/$10.3 million contract. The first pick in that draft, JaMarcus Russell, is the definition of bust. He is the Pamela Anderson of busts and everyone else is just Dakota Fanning. (Think about that for a minute; you’ll get there.) Russell lasted three years and was paid $36 million. That’s $2 million per touchdown pass for his career.

A bust equates to the position you were drafted, the amount of money you made and the corresponding lack of production. Your number gets retired in the bad way, the same way that the Raiders wouldn’t let Terrelle Pryor wear the #2 that Russell wore so people wouldn’t compare Pryor to the trainwreck that was Russell’s career. You don’t hear the name Ryan Leaf mentioned without “the draft bust who was selected after 4-time MVP Peyton Manning.” Russell actually gets off a little easier in terms of his anti-legacy because there wasn’t a stud who the Raiders passed on to draft him. Of the top 13 picks in the 2007 draft, only five are still with the team that drafted them. That list does include the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson.

In that same draft, Gonzalez was picked 32nd (the last pick of the first round). He was drafted just ahead of Alan Branch, Paul Posluszny and Arron Sears. He was drafted to be the third WR, behind Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison. In that same 32nd position, Mathias Kiwanuka was drafted in 2006 and Phillip Merling in 2008. No one could have predicted the injuries that have helped to derail him the past few years. He slept in a hyperbaric chamber for crying out loud.

Gonzalez is like Jeremy Miller (Ben Seaver of “Growing Pains” fame). They both have basically come and gone. Neither is a bust. You didn’t have Kirk Cameron-type aspirations for him.

NFL Prediction time. You might not care, but I want to have this in writing when everything shakes out in 5 months.

The Falcons’ Matt Ryan takes the step from great QB to elite QB, much like the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers did last year. Ryan takes home the MVP (with the help of Offensive Rookie of the Year Julio Jones) and leads the Falcons to a Super Bowl XLVI title (narrowly defeating the Patriots).

AFC East – I don’t think Mark Sanchez and the Patriots D are as good as everyone else does. But, I think the Pats will be motivated in the playoffs by last year’s early exit. I like Brandon Marshall to catch a bunch of passes in Miami and Ryan Fitzpatrick in Buffalo is the division’s fantasy sleeper. Jets (10-6), Patriots (10-6), Dolphins (7-9), Bills (5-11)

AFC North – I think Pittsburgh is still the cream of the crop and Baltimore won’t get the jump in production from Joe Flacco to compensate for the D’s decline. The Bengals and Browns are both in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. Steelers (11-5), Ravens (9-7), Browns (6-10), Bengals (4-12)

AFC West – The Chargers finally put a complete season together with all that talent. The rest of the division just beats up on each other to keep mediocre records. Matt Cassel takes a step back in KC, but you’ll pick up new receiver Steve Breaston on your fantasy team about week 4. Chargers (11-5), Chiefs (8-8), Broncos (7-9), Raiders (7-9)

AFC South – Everyone thinks the Texans with Wade Phillips running the D will overtake the Colts. I’m not buying it. I don’t think Arian Foster has a 2011 that looks anything like 2010. Maurice Jones-Drew and Chris Johnson won’t have years up to their respective standards either. Peyton throws 30 TDs. Colts (11-5), Texans (9-7), Titans (6-10), Jaguars (6-10)

NFC EastI don’t think Michael Vick will put together a 16-game season that is anything close to worthy of $100 million. Even I can’t name an Eagles linebacker, which should make RBs across the NFC excited. The Eagles will still win the division, but largely helped by Tony Romo, Eli Manning and the fierce Beck/Grossman combo throwing the ball to the other team repeatedly. Eagles (11-5), Giants (9-7), Cowboys (8-8), Redskins (6-10)

NFC North – The Packers are the class of this division and will win it running away. Matthew Stafford with a healthy season will transition from promising QB to really good QB. I’m not convinced that Jay Cutler won’t lose his job in Chicago by week 12. The Vikings have somehow gone from 60 to zero in two years. I blame Brett Favre and Barack Obama. Packers (12-4), Lions (9-7), Vikings (6-10), Bears (6-10)

NFC West – I like Kevin Kolb to Larry Fitzgerald for my fantasy teams, but not to score enough TDs to win the division. Sam Bradford in St. Louis could make a similar leap to what Stafford will do in Detroit. It will be enough for the Rams to win the division, but not enough Ws to have him in elite QB discussions just yet. Seattle (Tavaris Jackson) and San Francisco (Alex Smith) should apologize to their fans for their QB situations. Rams (10-6), Cardinals (8-8), Seattle (6-10), 49ers (5-11)

NFC South – Top to bottom, the deepest division in football. Falcons have offensive weapons at every position and a D that can take the ball away. Drew Brees will continue to power the Saints offense even though the weapons around him and the D haven’t been improved enough. Tampa Bay is a .500 team if Josh Freeman throws more than eight interceptions this year. Even with Cam Newton learning on the fly, the Panthers will be greatly improved from last year (5 wins would be a 500% improvement). Falcons (13-3), Saints (10-6), Bucs (8-8), Panthers (5-11)

There are 19 solid NFL quarterbacks; why are you so greedy that you think you should have two of them? Perhaps we’re all jealous of Painter’s awesome hair, but one after another, fans are clamoring for Mark Brunell, Bruce Gradkowski and Ryan Mallett like they’re Unitas, Montana and Elway. All of a sudden, Jim Sorgi’s approval rating in Indiana is so high he could earn the GOP nomination.

You’re getting worked into a tizzy because your second-string QB isn’t the second best QB in the NFL. Forget the fact that Peyton Manning has started 227 consecutive games. Colts fans have become spoiled by the “Next Man Up” mantra that has seen Jacob Tamme and Melvin Bullitt perform at an above-average level, replacing All-Pro starters in Dallas Clark and Bob Sanders. Colts fans are still borderline irate over the perfect season that never was in 2009 when the Jets (with one of the best defenses in the NFL mind you) defeated the 14-0 Colts and then the Bills (in a scene that looked more like a day at the summit of Mount Everest than 72 degrees and sunny inside Lucas Oil Stadium) knocked off the Colts in a meaningless game with Painter at the helm.

Thirteen franchises don’t have one proven, consistent, “in his prime” QB (don’t believe me? Bills, Dolphins, Raiders, Bengals, Browns, Jaguars, Titans, Redskins, Cardinals, 49ers, Seahawks, Vikings, and Panthers). You know who the best back-up QBs might be? Shaun Hill in Detroit, Jon Kitna in Dallas and Byron Leftwich in Pittsburgh. Chew on that for a minute. Painter or no Painter, there aren’t too many options out there for someone who will lead you to a 10-6 season and playoff appearance if #18 goes down. Hill, Kitna and Leftwich only did that about 25% of the time…in their respective primes (that lasted approximately six combined years by the way). Forget about any of them doing that today. And if you consider Billy Volek, Vince Young or Tim Tebow solid back-up QBs, please submit your resume and three references to the Oakland Raiders player evaluation department.

Now, what happens when you have a second QB on your roster who has either a) performed well when called upon, or b) is considered to have great “upside”? Obviously you trade him away because the draft pick you could get in return and invest in a player who will contribute over 16 games helps your win total more than having that second QB holding a clipboard (see Matt Cassel and Kevin Kolb).

In this day of 53-man rosters and most teams up against the salary cap, you have to invest your draft picks and your cash toward players who will help you on multiple plays in multiple games. Your back-up QB doesn’t tackle returners on punt coverage or rotate in to cover the slot receiver on 3rd and 8. He doesn’t come in to block as the third tight end in your goal line packages or have the flexibility to play three different offensive line positions in case one of your starters has to miss a few plays.

Your back-up QB should do several things well. He should direct deposit the veteran’s minimum into his checking account well. He should know the playbook and be able to contribute worthwhile observations in the QB meetings. He should not complain about his playing time. Colts fans, you have a darn good back-up QB. Just like every other back-up QB, he’s good until he has to get on the field. At that point, Curtis Painter isn’t going to win you enough games. But neither would just about any other QB out there.

You want Painter on that sideline; you need Painter on that sideline.

I hate the Bachelorette. I hate the Bachelor. I hate that host who is a slightly taller and uglier version of Ryan Seacrest. I hate people who say they go on TV to find love, but in actuality want to launch a career of D-list celebrity, making cameo appearances as an extra on some show starring a Kardashian.

And I vomit when people are surprised when the inevitable break-up between Bachelorette and the guy who doesn’t really like the Bachelorette, but is just so competitive that he’s willing to throw himself on the sword and actually spend time with that woman, talking about how amazing the amazing blue water is in amazing Figi.

In the same way that every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings, every time a season of the Bachelorette ends, a bunch of guys in the real world begin to cry uncontrollably after realizing that if this is the woman ABC chose out of thousands of applicants to feature as the fun, sexy, smart girl to showcase to America, it must be really slim pickins out there. I mean if this is the best girl America has to offer, the applications for the priesthood and the monastery are going to become more competitive than Harvard Law.

Tonight what’s-her-name who makes Fran Drescher seem like America’s sweetheart will pick between some sentimental grape-stomper who probably has a tough side and some manly construction guy who probably has a softer side.

Promise me one thing tonight wine guy or construction guy: that if that annoying, self-absorbed woman calls your name tonight, that you’ll immediately take that rose and try to stick the thorn into your jugular. Only then will you avoid the awful fate of having to actually spend time with her minus the free booze, the free trips, the ability to actually look at other women and realize who you are stuck with.

There is nothing worse than when the Bachelorette meets the real world.

**Writer’s note: Usually my idiotic rants involve more sports than hatred for reality TV. My apologies for straying. Become the 44th person to follow me on Twitter at