Monday, October 02, 2006


Kansas Comet

As a Saturday football game ended on one of the minor cable channels, they popped up a short feature to fill some time. It showcased the collegiate stars of 1964, Roger Staubach and Gale Sayers.

If you watch film from the '50's or before, there's an odd style to it that doesn't look modern. Maybe the film speed is out of snyc, or maybe it's the fact that the old timers were for the most part a bunch of smallish, slow white guys. Although the film was grainy black and white, it was obvious from evidence such as a 99-yard run against Nebraska that Sayers was playing thoroughly modern football in 1964. His pro career was equally flashy but regrettably short. Unfortunately for him, orthopedic medicine had not advanced as quickly as his talent.

I'm not going to say the guy is the next Gale Sayers, but there is an NFL rookie with 380 yards combined rushing and receiving with three TDs, and another 190 yards returning kicks. He is Laurence Maroney of the Pats, and the Bengals found out yesterday that he is a load when you have to tackle him play after play. Meanwhile the guy who is supposed to be the next Gale Sayers, Reggie Bush of the Saints, has comparable numbers of only 334 yards from scrimmage (mostly receiving), with 0 TDs, 57 yards returning kicks, and a fumble.

I've asked this question before, and I'm not above repeating it: If Bush was the all-time great college running back that the hype machine proclaimed, why wasn't he on the field during his team's most important offensive play last year, the failed fourth-and-two against Texas? Bush might be a star eventually, but in the NFL there is no Fresno game for padding your stats. Is there such a thing as an all-time great situational player? Maroney looks like an NFL running back jackhammering his way to the Rookie of the Year award. Bush looks like a third-down scatback who won't or can't run between the tackles.

Nobody ever called Gale Sayers a situational player. Maybe Reggie should get some film of the Kansas Comet so he can see what a true big-time running back looks like.

Oct. 18 update: So Bush is leading the league in receptions. That just proves he's not really a running back.

Nov. 7 update: Election day, time for some more Bush Bashing! Bush isn't even the most productive rookie on his own team. Marques Colston, the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Month in October, has 44 receptions for 700 yards and seven touchdowns. Bush has more catches, 46, but only 312 yards and no receiving TDs. That's only 6.8 yards per catch, which is hardly "deep threat" stuff. The overpaid scatback has 207 yards rushing, but once again his per-attempt average of 2.6 yards is not very imposing. Colston is an unheralded seventh-round choice out of Hofstra.


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