Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Pom-Poms are swimwear now, evidently

Pom-Poms are swimwear now, evidently

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition is out today, and it has a full section on NFL cheerleaders. I can't use any of the pictures here, but I can print them out and use them for my own personal purposes, and I don't care if you judge me for it.

If you've got a few minutes (and are willing to risk going blind and growing hair on your palms), I suggest clicking over and browsing through some of the galleries. I like Erin Carlisle of the Jags, Marlina Moreno of the Chargers, Ireivy Guerra of the Dolphins, and ... ah, who the hell am I kidding. I'd pay to brush up against any of them in a crowded subway car.

I can't cover and coat the issue as thoroughly as With Leather, but I should also note that Jeff Garcia's wife, the former Carmella DeCesare, is featured in a gallery of her own. She's an attractive lady, but goodness ... there's as much actual human flesh on her chest as there is in your average GI Joe action figure.

• NFL Cheerleaders / SI Swimsuit 2008
• Carmella Garcia / SI Swimsuit 2008

Has Eli Manning actually gotten overrated?
It's an interesting question, originally posed by SI's Andrew Perloff, who points to Ben Roethlisberger, Brad Johnson, Trent Dilfer, and Kurt Warner as quarterbacks who won a Super Bowl with a stout defense, and then almost immediately reverted back to mediocrity.�

Some quick facts that might support the "Eli is now overrated" hypothesis:

• In the regular season, he ranked 25th in passer rating, sandwiched between Vince Young and Kyle Boller
• Again in the regular season, he threw 20 interceptions, tied for the league lead with Jon Kitna and Carson Palmer
• He also completed just 56.1% of his passes, which ranks him right between Trent Edwards and Cleo Lemon

But there are also things I'd point out that weaken the "Eli is overrated" argument:

• Obviously, that bad-ass leather jacket.
• You can throw out the Roethlisberger comparison, or better yet, use it to Eli's advantage. Yes, Large Benjamin had a down year after winning the Super Bowl, but he also nearly died in a motorcycle accident, which was probably a factor. He's also rebounded quite nicely, and I don't think anyone doubts his ability to be a very good NFL quarterback in the long-term.
• Johnson, Dilfer, and Warner were all much older than Eli at the time of their Super Bowl wins. Eli's still learning, and certainly hasn't peaked. I don't think the same could be said of any of the other guys mentioned.
• It wasn't just a good Super Bowl that Eli produced. His last five games this year, including the postseason, he had ten touchdowns against two interceptions and averaged a QB rating of over 100. He played well over an extended period of time.

Is Eli going to perform as well throughout the entire 2008/2009 season as he did in this year's playoffs? Probably not. Eli's not done growing as a quarterback, and he's not done having bad games. But I also don't see any reason to think that his last five games this year were a fluke, either.

Overrated? I guess it depends on where you're rating him. If you're sticking him in the elite group with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, then yes, you're overrating him, and you should stop freebasing immediately. But I think there's definitely room to squeeze him into the sub- grouping that includes Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Drew Brees, etc.

• Don't overrate Eli / SI.com

Patriots sign free-agent LB Slaughter
In a minor move, the Patriots signed free-agent linebacker T.J. Slaughter to a contract Monday the Boston Globe reported.

The 30-year-old Slaughter, who was a teammate of Patriots linebacker Adalius Thomas at Southern Mississippi, did not play in the 2007 season. He has suited up for the Jaguars (2000-2003), Packers (2003), Ravens (2003-2004), Saints (2005) and 49ers (2006).

Slaughter projects as an inside linebacker in the Patriots' 3-4 alignment, and at this point, would likely be vying for a backup spot. Tedy Bruschi and Junior Seau finished the season as starters at inside linebacker. Both were in the final year of their contracts. The addition of Slaughter should not impact the potential returns of Bruschi and Seau.

Deep Posts: EA Sports and the NFL extend their deal into forever
• Bad news if you wanted to see some other company make an NFL video game in the next bazillion years. Only the Madden franchise can use NFL players and team names until 2013, by which point EA will probably have found a way to just kill all their competitors anyway. [Kotaku]

• Vikings starting defensive end Kenechi Udeze has been diagnosed with leukemia. No word yet on what kind of leukemia and precisely how bad it is, but it's chilling in any case. Best wishes. [Star Tribune]

• Look at Jim Zorn, taking a little shot at Shaun Alexander. That makes him a lot like any NFL writer out there, actually. [Hashmarks]

• No one drove the "Derek Anderson is for real" bus any harder than I did this past year, but even I think the Dolphins giving up the #1 overall for him would be insane. [Phin Phanatic]

• Speaking of the Dolphins and quarterbacks, they let go of Trent Green. A Ravens blogger (and this would be shocking if it was any team but the Ravens) would like to see Trent in purple. [The Ebony Bird]

• And speaking of the Ravens, they'll franchise Terrell Suggs if they have to. [Ravens Gab]

• I'm all for rewarding players who have earned it, but something tells me the Giants are going to regret giving out a 5-year, $7 million contract to a 29-year-old Lawrence Tynes. [Daily News]

• They're bringing Jeff Feagles back, too. I don't think he'll be getting a 5-year deal, though. [Inside the Giants]

Steelers elect to keep mud playing surface
I like grass. It is soft and pretty. When I played two-on-two tackle football as a child, grass was almost always our playing surface of choice, and I wholeheartedly agreed with Steppenwolf when they urged Sam not to step on it.

That said, though, there's are some circumstances where grass probably isn't the best choice. When you've got an NFL team, a college team, and local high school teams sharing the same field, and they can play a total of five games in 30 hours on that field, and they do so in nasty northeastern weather conditions ... that's probably one of those situations.

But the Steelers have decided to keep their grass surface, even after it nearly forced them into a scoreless tie with the sad-sack Dolphins. The Dolphins showed up that night, looked at the field and said, "Look at this! No one can move! We've got a shot at a scoreless tie! WE COULD TIE!"�

The surface was an embarrassment to the Steelers, the league, and the game of football. It was like green quicksand.

I really thought the league would step in and mandate the installation of an artificial surface. As it turns out, they should have. They left it in the hands of the Steelers, though, and the players convinced the front office to keep the grass.

And I understand that. It's the softest possible surface, it's the least likely to kill your knees, and if it was me, I'd probably want to play on grass, too. But when you've got a situation where a field is shared by so many teams and the weather is often so nasty, insisting on grass is unreasonable. My guess is that if the grass produces another eyesore like that Steelers/Dolphins game, the league will make sure it's the last one.

• Steelers staying with grass at Heinz Field / Yahoo! Sports

Chad Johnson is eager to go from Carson Palmer to Jason Campbell
The Bengals have said that they won't trade Chad Johnson, but of course, the Bengals also once said that they're concerned about issues of character on the team, so you'll have to forgive me if I'm not inclined to take the Bengals at their word.

And, as is the case with every other player who's also been both famous and available, Dan Snyder is said to be interested in acquiring Johnson. From Jason La Canfora in today's Washington Post:

Numerous league sources, including some with direct knowledge of conversations between Snyder, Cerrato and recent head coaching candidates, have affirmed that the Redskins have interest in trading for Cincinnati wide receiver Chad Johnson, with two league sources saying Johnson is eager to land a hefty new contract from Washington.

Acquiring an elite receiver is Snyder's top priority, league sources said. The Bengals have said they have no intention of trading Johnson, but his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, is working quietly to broker a deal, the sources said.

It hasn't worked out real well for teams that have cut ties with star receivers in the past (see the post-Moss Raiders or the post-Owens Eagles for examples). But a lack of locker room chemistry is killing the Bengals, and if they could fleece anyone out of enough assets to make a deal worthwhile, you'd have to think it would be Snyder and the Redskins.

What does new head coach Jim Zorn think of acquiring Chad Johnson? It doesn't matter. Not even a little bit.

• Redskins' Offseason: Now It's On / Washington Post

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