Lombardi's Way FAST & HARD HITTING?

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The best line I heard over the weekend was delivered to me via email by John in Ocean City, Maryland who wrote, “Hey Tony, I watched the CBS call of Super Bowl XXXV again this weekend and I was still yelling at Trent Dilfer.” 
Now that’s funny stuff!
Dilfer’s reputation here in The Land of Pleasant Living borders heroic proportions.  As time goes on, he’s become somewhat of a local legend who was robbed of his legacy by a Ravens’ front office that so quickly kicked him to the curb.  At least that’s what his ardent supporters would suggest.
But John in OC gets it.  Dilfer was along for the ride and for those that so quickly trash Elvis Grbac’s season in 2001, do as John did – watch Super Bowl XXXV again and then imagine Dilfer in that 2001 Ravens’ offense without Jamal Lewis or Jeff Mitchell or Harry Swayne or Spencer Folau.
There’s no denying that Dilfer was and is a good guy but for my money in 2001, he was hardly the right guy to quarterback the Baltimore Ravens.
Speaking of quarterbacks, the Cincinnati Bengals still aren’t sure if their No. 1 guy will be ready when the big cats open up on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs.  Don’t be surprised if Palmer can’t go that someone other than Anthony Wright is the opening day starter.  Although Doug Johnson lurks in the shadows, former Texan and Louisville Cardinal Dave Ragone could get the call in Palmer’s absence.  That would be a roll of the dice but then again so is Anthony Wright.  After that trip to KC, the Bengals host the Browns, go to Pittsburgh and then host the New England Patriots.  Without Palmer, that early schedule just might give our friend Marvin Lewis a few sleepless nights.
Back to New England for a moment, the biggest Patriots’ apologist and homer this side of Phil Simms has to be Sports Illustrated’s Peter King.  With apparently not much to write about these days, King ponders Super Bowl XLI and makes his prediction on the event to be held in Miami on February 4, 2007.
(Drum roll please….)
King says it will be the Patriots and the Cowboys and he’s enamored with the drama sure to surround such a contest.  As King points out, there are many media friendly angles that will be pried, poked and prodded like Belichick v. Parcells, Bledsoe v. Belichick, Kraft v. Parcells, Brady v. Bledsoe and Parcells v. son-in-law, Patriots’ VP of player personnel Scott Pioli.
Parcells must be cringing over King’s prediction.  Last year the SI writer predicted a Patriots Vikings Super Bowl.  In his latest prediction, King sees a 23-21 Dallas victory featuring two Terrell Owens scores and capped by Parcells riding off into the sunset and calling it a career.
And they lived happily ever after…
If you are a Cowboys fan or if you wagered on them to win it all, see if you can get a refund.
Queue up the theme song for M*A*S*H…Word out of KC is that Priest Holmes has at best a 50-50 shot to start the season on the Chiefs’ active roster.  Currently Holmes is rehabilitating in San Antonio where he lives after a series of neurological exams.  Holmes has never been very extravagant and has flirted with the idea of retirement in the past.  At 32 and reportedly well invested, don’t be surprised to see the former Raven call it a day.  The Chiefs are already considering other potential backups for Larry Johnson, one of which is Saints’ RB Michael Bennett who was made expendable by that guy who used to wear No. 5 for the USC Trojans…….Bengals’ LB David Pollack is recovering from a foot injury and up until recently was wearing a protective boot.  Word on the street is that Pollack injured his foot in a pickup basketball game.  The team expects Pollack to be 100% by the start of training camp.
Speaking of training camp, Brian Billick’s version has often been described by players and the media as soft.  Terms such as “Club Med” and “Camp Creampuff” have floated around for quite some time when describing the intensity of Ravens’ summer camp since 1999. 
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the newly appointed head coach of the Detroit Lions, Rod Marinelli.  Apparently Marinelli is ruffling a few feathers in Motown and a few of the players are complaining.  One player that didn’t embrace the Marinelli way was Big Daddy Wilkinson.  Hmmm, Camp Creampuff, Big Daddy, Ray Lewis, big fat tackle…might there be a match in Charm City?
Let’s hope not!
Jonathan Ogden’s nemesis Dwight Freeney will be looking for a big, big pay day soon.  This year Freeney is set to earn a base salary of $5 million but word out of Indy is that Freeney will hardly be such a relative bargain in 2007.  Freeney voided the last two years of his original deal and he will be a free agent after the 2006 season.  Freeney isn’t looking to be the highest paid DE or even the highest paid defender.  He wants to be the highest paid player in the league, bar none!  J.O. might second that emotion!
Some players were feeling more than the heat of the Miami sun or the city’s basketball team this past Memorial Day Weekend.  Some were feeling the heat of the heat – Miami Beach Police.  One of the newest Steelers, WR Santonio Holmes was arrested for disorderly conduct at a hotel in South Beach, police said Saturday.  The arrest took place on Friday night according to police spokesman Bobby Hernandez – an arrest that Holmes’ Mom is claiming was a case of mistaken identity since Santonio was (per his Mom) at home in Columbus, Ohio.  Now that’s what I call making moves!  If he can be in South Beach and Columbus on the same day, imagine what a nightmare he will be for the Ravens’ secondary!
By the way, does anyone know what Santonio Holmes looks like out of uniform?  I didn’t think so.  How do you buy into the mistaken identity theory when most don’t know what he looks like to begin with?
According to the Akron Beacon Journal, “No matter what the Browns say, it’s hard to imagine Lee Suggs with the team by next season. They are loaded at running back. In addition to Reuben Droughns, they have William Green and fifth-rounder Jerome Harrison, a fascinating prospect because he gained 1,900 yards, caught 24 passes and scored 16 touchdowns at Washington State.”  I think those Akron guys are jumping the gun a bit here.  Given Droughns’ and Green’s reputation (not to mention their rap sheets), Suggs may be the only experienced back they have who isn’t behind bars in 2007.
A couple of former Ravens with new identities are Tony Weaver and Will Demps, now playing for the Houston Texans and New York Giants, respectively.  Weaver is slated to play left DE opposite this year’s No. 1 pick Mario Williams.  The Texans’ No. 1 pick last year was DE Travis Johnson.  Johnson is an aggressive player with solid athletic skills but one has to question if he’s the right fit on the inside in the Texans’ new 3-4 alignment.  The projection for Johnson this season particularly in light of the Texans’ investment in Weaver and Williams (Approx. $33 million guaranteed and climbing with bonuses) is that of a rotational player.  Such a system could benefit Johnson yet in hindsight, Johnson looks like a reach at No. 16 in the 2005 NFL Draft.
Demps meanwhile, is trying to work his way into the Giants defense.  Ralph Vacchiano who covers the Giants for the New York Daily News grades the Giants’ safety position as a B+ while claiming that, “If Will Demps is healthy and Gibril Wilson can play like he did as a rookie, they’re a fast and hard-hitting duo.”  I don’t think Vacchiano watched many Ravens games last year.  Even when Demps was healthy he missed many tackles and he’s never been fast.
Many Americans have forgotten the true meaning of Memorial Day.  The significance of the Holiday has diminished over the years and is now viewed as a nice extended weekend for sun and fun and various libations.  Cities once hosted prideful parades in honor of the sacrifices that war veterans have made to help preserve the freedoms of our country.  The liberties and our collective way of life that so many of us take for granted, myself included, are the gifts of those who gave of their lives and their appendages in honor of our flag and our nation – in honor of you and me..
In December of 2000, the National Moment of Remembrance resolution was passed which asks all Americans to “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to Taps.”  The time to pause for such reflection is 3 PM on Memorial Day.
If you missed it as I did, take a moment to reflect today at 3PM.  Whatever you are doing at that moment in time in all likelihood has been enabled by the courageousness of our nation’s brave soldiers.  I know I’ll be thinking of them and thanking them during my moment of remembrance.  I hope you do too.

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of and His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and he hosts "The Fanimal" also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi


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