THE GRAPEVINE: More Excuses From J. Lewis

Lombardi's Way THE GRAPEVINE: More Excuses From J. Lewis

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Have you ever noticed that very little that went wrong for Jamal Lewis over the past few years was actually his fault?  In 2004 it was the ankle; in ’05 the incarceration; in ’06 he said he could still run a 4.3 which made me wonder how the entire Cleveland Browns’ secondary and a couple of their linebackers easily ran down Jamal from behind in the open field.  Did they run 3.9’s? 
By the end of the ’06 season, we learned that while we thought Jamal was healthy throughout ’06 (at times by his own admission) he really had bone chips in his ankle that slowed him down.  Slowed down to what, that reported 4.3 40 Jamal?  What cliff did you run down when the stopwatch was on you?
Fast forward to 2007 and Jamal finds his way to Cleveland happily sporting the candy corn colors of the Browns.  Here’s Jamal’s spin on last season.
“I was around 80 percent last year, but if I got medication, I might have been 90 percent at times,” he joked Tuesday. “I feel so much better now. I’m making cuts I haven’t made for the last two years.
“By training camp, I will be 100 percent, and we’ll see how everything goes.”
I can’t wait to hear the excuses after the ’07 season.
Hey, the NFLPA has a voice after all.  However, instead of using it to speak up for retired NFL players and educate its members on the hardships of many of the game’s pioneers, the union instead chose recently to speak up on behalf of all-around "good" guy Pacman Jones via a letter to Roger Goodell.
“For all of the foregoing reasons, the NFLPA hereby requests that you reconsider the one-year suspension you imposed… as it is excessive and inconsistent with the treatment of other similarly situated players.
Now how funny is that, “similarly situated players”?
Similarly situated citizens are either in jail or awaiting their sentence(s). 
Meanwhile many retired NFL players are suffering, dying or already dead.  I think their families could use the NFLPA’s help a little more than some thug who sports a sense of entitlement and regularly embraces the role of victim.
Staying with those all-around "good" guys, Mike Vick is certainly in need of a publicist with the last name of Copperfield.  To turn around this public relations disaster, Vick will need all the magic he can muster.
First he flashed the bird at hometown fans.  Then there was the mysterious water bottle incident that left supporters of NORML green with envy.  Now Vick is dealing with the ugly allegations and subsequent investigations of his reported involvement in organized dog fighting.
How will the Falcons spin this one?  How will they market their product?  What will Roger Goodell do to preserve the league’s product?
Let’s face it, Vick is an extremely high profile player – one that the networks have used extensively to promote their weekly servings. That won’t happen in ’07.  The outcry would be far too large and wide and deservedly so.  Given his most recent improprieties and the stench from the dog scandal that grows thicker by the day, it would be almost shocking if Vick doesn’t see some kind of suspension during the 2007 season despite what ESPN’s John Clayton says. 
If not, Vick will undoubtedly feel the wrath of fans and animal rights activists throughout the country.  A player who not long ago was a poster child for the NFL might soon be discarded and viewed as a league embarrassment not unlike the aforementioned Jones and charmers like Chris Henry and A.J. Nicholson.
By the way, Vick signed a 10 year extension in ’04 and has another 7 years on his contract.  He received $37 million in bonuses.  In case you are wondering, it would cost Arthur Blank about 20% of his cap space to send Vick packing. 
All of the home improvement tools in Blank’s Home Depot inventory can’t repair this damage anytime soon.
Today the Ravens will take the practice field again in this second series of full team organized activities.  These are not mandatory OTA’s but apparently the non-mandatory description escapes the notice of the Browns Romeo Crennel. 
One of Crennel’s more volatile and combustible players is WR Braylon Edwards who has been a no-show at recent voluntary OTA’s.  Since this is voluntary, it shouldn’t affect Edwards’ standing with the team right?
When Edwards eventually showed up for OTA’s, Crennel had the former Michigan Wolverine running with the third unit.  What gives coach?
"He’s trying to learn the system,” Crennel said. "It is not the same system that was in place last year, and he is trying to learn it.
"He did miss a day, and so he is probably just a little bit behind. He worked on the third team. He worked with the second team, and I told the guys that the depth chart is not set in stone, and we’re going to move it around a little bit so that we can evaluate the guys and they can learn the system.”
Edwards would not elaborate on his absence other than to say it was a “family emergency.”
Well, at least he wasn’t doing wheelies on a parking lot with a crotch rocket.
The rest of the AFC North can rejoice…it’s the same old Browns.
This weekend marks the first weekend in June and diehard Ravens fans know what that means!  Like a flock of birds that come home to nest, members of Ravens Roosts and Ravens Nests all throughout the Land of Pleasant Living will descend upon Ocean City, Maryland for their annual convention and parade. 
If you are not a member of these wonderful philanthropic organizations, stop by The Castle in The Sand and say hello.  For a small donation, you too can eat, drink and be merry with folks like you who bleed purple!  You just might even meet a few of the Ravens who take time out of their schedules to make the eastbound journey.
Have fun and be safe!
Photo by Sabina Moran

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24×7 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.

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