FRAN THE FAN: News and Notes from a Fan’s Perspective

Street Talk FRAN THE FAN: News and Notes from a Fan’s Perspective

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Wishful Thinking
Ok, OK, I was wrong.  In my pre-draft column, I argued passionately against the Ravens drafting a quarterback in the first round.  But as soon as they traded down during the run-up to the 8th pick, I knew what was up.  It was just a matter of what QB they were going to pick.  Joe Flacco or Chad Henne.  The big guy won out.   
I think Ozzie got fleeced when he moved back up 8 slots to select Flacco.  I really liked the move to trade down with Jacksonville to get all those picks, but it was a waste to give some of them back. 
Somebody called Ozzie’s bluff, a weakness he showed two years ago when Phil Savage conned Newsome into trading up one slot in order to take Haloti Ngata, a player the Browns weren’t planning on drafting anyway.  I think Flacco would have still been there at 26.
A few media pundits have criticized Newsome for his infatuation with “big, strong-armed quarterbacks.”  It’s hard to argue with that thinking given some previous and current Raven starting QBs, namely Stoney Case, Scott Mitchell, Kyle Boller, and, yes, even Steve McNair.
I hope John Harbaugh doesn’t make the same mistake Brian Billick did in letting a rookie QB start in his first year.  I want to see Flacco in full absorption mode in ‘08.  In two years or so, we can be Whacko for Flacco.
Troy Smith will be under center when the Ravens open the season on September 7th.  Troy is an athlete, has tremendous poise, and has earned the respect of his teammates.  Kyle Boller will assume his natural position: on the sideline, wearing a Ravens cap, and holding a clip board.
How Good is Fabian? (The Player, not the Singer)
The Ravens gave up a 4th round pick to obtain the rights to Raiders corner Fabian Washington.  Fine, a need addressed.  Ozzie Newsome said that Washington was better than any of the cornerbacks in the draft, including, I presume, the likes of Leodis McKelvin, Dominique Rogers-Cromartie, and Aqib Talib.  Uh, OK.  If that’s so, then the quality of the corners in this draft was very overrated.
If, on the other hand, Fabian Washington is so good, why did Oakland unload Washington – a former 1st round draft choice – for a lousy 4th rounder?  Even with the acquisition of DeAngelo Hall, is Al Davis telling us there’s no room for a burner like Washington, even at nickel back?
Draft Ratings Are a Waste
I’m glad the draft ratings circus is over, even though you can still see Mel Kiper’s ratings whenever ESPN runs their NFL programming.  I don’t pay attention to this over-the-top analysis once the draft is done.  You have to wait at least two years to judge the real impact on teams.  Having said that, the team I saw with the best draft, based on need and player potential, was Kansas City, hands down.
Who’s Crazier?
The Redskins were crazy to make the Bengals the offer of their 2008 & 2009 1st round picks and a 2009 3rd round draft choice (minimum) for that noted locker room cancer, Chad Johnson.  With Joe Gibbs out of the way, Dan Snyder is definitely back on his game.
But the Bengals were even crazier for not taking it!  Think about it.  They turned down the chance to have four (4) 1st round draft choices over this year and next, and an additional 3rd that could escalate to another 1st, based on the Redskins and Ocho Stinko making performance incentives.  They turned this down to retain a self-absorbed head case who can’t get along with his head coach and starting quarterback.  There’s a reason they’re called the Bungles.
Raining in the Locker Room
Now that he’s agreed to take Adam “Pacman” Jones off Tennessee’s hands (pending a parole hearing from Sheriff Goodell), will Jerry Jones put a strip joint inside the Cowboys’ locker room?  Or at least a dancing pole?  That seems to be the only way to keep Pacman out of the clubs.
Who’s Crying Now?
Remember the furor when Bryant Gumble said that NFLPA president Gene Upshaw was Paul Tagliabue’s “lap dog”?  The received wisdom was that the owners “won” the 2006 contract negotiations.  But it looks like the union has the last laugh.  Upshaw and his lawyers are far shrewder negotiators than most people give them credit for.  The economic impact of the current CBA on the majority of teams – remember the players get 59% of all revenues – has finally settled in and the contract is suddenly vastly unpopular with the owners.  
No doubt the overall national economic malaise has something to do with it.  If the economy remains in the tank coupled with rising gas and energy prices, home foreclosures, and a few other things like a spiraling national debt, it has to affect the cost of owning and running a team on one hand, and discretionary spending – as in football tickets and team gear – on the other.  The owners are worried.  Now they want to opt out of the contract early.  Predicting labor/management negotiations is always tricky, but are we looking at a potential lockout in 2011?
Enough Already
Is everybody as tired as I am of hearing about Bill Belichick and Spygate?  Look, it’s become obvious that Belichick didn’t “misinterpret” the rules – he cheated with a vengeance and he did it long and hard.  Roger Goodell blew it when he didn’t come down harder on Belichick and the Patriots to begin with.  A suspension should have been in order.
I would support Sen. Arlen Spector’s call for a Congressional investigation of Spygate if the country didn’t have much more pressing problems to deal with.  How about giving George Mitchell a call?
Theatre of the Absurd
Over the weekend I heard a Boston caller to a national sports talk show defend Belichick and actually blame the other NFL teams for the Patriots getting caught taping defensive signals!  Amazing!  His self-delusion was breathtaking.  Belicheat has a job for life in New England.
Photo of Troy Smith by Sabina Moran

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Fran "The Fan" Vojik

About Fran "The Fan" Vojik

Fran Vojik has been a contributor to the Ravens24X7 site since 2005, first as a regular on the “Letters to T.L.” page, then as the author of the Fran the Fan column. A huge Orioles and Ravens fan, he defines the term “homer.” A former season ticket holder of the Baltimore Colts, he now roots on the Ravens from his corner end zone seat in M&T Bank Stadium. His work makes him a regular traveler to various MLB and NFL cities and he’s watched both the Birds and Purple and Black in a variety of away stadiums. He brings a passionate and humorous perspective to the world of professional sports. Born in Highlandtown, and a graduate of Calvert Hall College and the University of Maryland, he lives on Furnace Creek in northern Anne Arundel County. He and his girlfriend, Sandy, have recently renovated his Man Cave, known as the “The Sports Palace,” which contains many mementos from the Colts, Ravens, and Orioles. On days the Ravens play at home, Fran can usually be found tailgating at the Baltimore Fire Fighters Union Hall Local 734 , supporting the organization’s Widow’s and Orphan’s fund.

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