By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
The game will pit the print and online guys against television and radio; a bunch of media dorks feigning athleticism for some charity I've already forgotten. Gotta love it.
Rumor has it that Babe Laufenberg, currently of KTVT-Channel 11, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys, will quarterback the TV side. Even if he doesn't, the television team is manned by more players than the Miami Hurricanes--and more speed. They have a squad of overqualified ringers.
On the print side, we have a small knot of able bodies who are long on desire but painfully short on talent. Especially our quarterback. The guy is a real jackass, and he's even worse on the field.
Before the game begins, Clarence Hill, a football writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, gathers his team and talks us up. We call him coach.
"OK, we're going to have to win this on defense," he says, staring right at our signal caller, whom he tried to trade before the game for "future considerations." I'm not kidding. Maybe it's just me, but that doesn't sound like he has a lot of faith in our quarterback. Neither do I. Did I mention that I'm the jackass in question?
Heading into the game, I expected a friendly contest. I was wrong. It was pure bloodlust out there; people were pointing and screaming and cursing each other. And that was just on our team. The cross-squad communication was much racier. (Not surprisingly, I nearly got in a fight with someone from Cowboys TV who wouldn't shut his fat mouth...or maybe I wouldn't shut my fat mouth. Who can remember the details?)
OK, the good news: Laufenberg didn't play. The bad news: I did.
In the end, I passed for one touchdown, ran for another and threw a pick. Other than that, my play was woeful. I was like Steve Pelluer out there, only smaller and slower and with less arm strength. The bastard from Cowboys TV sacked me a few times, saddling me with so much shame that I wanted to commit suicide on the 50-yard line.
Largely because of my lackluster quarterbacking, the television guys smoked us. I'd tell you the score, but I really don't remember. They had a whole lot; we had decidedly less.
But hey, we raised some money for that charity I can't recall. I've gotta feel good about that, right? Mmm, no, not really.
I'm thinking about goosing one of the TV chicks...you know, just to get the party started. Before I can implement my plan, defensive tackle Willie Blade decides to throw down with offensive lineman Gennaro DiNapoli. The two are pushing and swearing in one of those this-is-going-nowhere football fights. Parcells is less than thrilled and breaks up the fracas posthaste. (He should have made them fight to the death, gladiator style...now that would have been worth the trip down here.) Running over to Blade, Parcells gives him a solid ass chewing and drags him around by the face mask. The coach may be thick in the waistline, but he's not the sort you want to mess with.
"We don't need that; some guys are fighting the guys they know, but they won't fight the guys they don't know," Parcells says. "We need to start fighting the guys we don't know, instead of the guys we know. You remember from the neighborhood, fighting the guys in your neighborhood, but that other neighborhood you went to, you weren't sure who was over there. That's a little different."
The indiscretion aside, Parcells expects Blade to contribute this year (once he returns from an MCL strain that will put him out for at least a month): "I think we can get something out of him." And they'd better, because if this team is going to improve in terms of record, the charge is going to be led by the defense, and no one can fall behind.
Blade will join Michael Myers and John Nix in trying to replace tackle Brandon Noble, who fled for Washington (but who has since been lost for the season because of injury). The rest of the line likely will remain the same, manned by Pro Bowl tackle La'Roi Glover and ends Greg Ellis (who tied a career high with 7.5 sacks last year) and Ebenezer Ekuban (who had only one sack last year).
The linebackers, particularly Dexter Coakley and Dat Nguyen, drew "no complaints" from Parcells, and the secondary looks strong. Although an arm injury will keep Pete Hunter out for close to two months (he was battling for a job as a nickel cornerback), you're still looking at a defensive backfield manned by Darren Woodson, Roy Williams and first-round draft pick Terence Newman, who likely will start at left cornerback. Not bad. On the right side, there's competition between Derek Ross, who last season tied for the NFL lead among rookies with five interceptions, and Mario Edwards. Both have this irritating habit of not turning around and looking for the ball.