TO's Future, Nolan and 49ers, and More
At least one beat writer, writing in The Sporting News, has predicted he will be, based on the Raiders history of signing problem players. My sources say not, for these reasons:
1) One problem player at a position is enough, and the Raiders already have Randy Moss. In fact, Moss himself has spoken out against the acquisition of Owens, referring to the baggage both of them bring to a team. Moss has not caused any trouble with the Raiders, unless you count his public statement about using marijuana, and he's played injured. He hasn’t exactly jump started the Raiders, offense, though; When the Raiders have won, it’s usually been their defense that has done it for them.\
2) Jerry Porter has emerged as a star, and the Raiders have other young receivers with great potential, such as Ronald Curry and
Doug Gabriel. When he got a chance in the exhibition season, Johnnie Morant also looked good. Adding Owens to this mix would retard their development.
Frankly, at this point, I don’t see that Owens brings any more to the team than Porter, who is five years younger. Owens is stronger and can overpower defensive backs, but Porter is more athletic. He’ll leap to get passes, which Owens never does, and he doesn’t “short-arm” passes, as Owens often will.
3) They probably can’t afford him. Owens won’t get as good a contract with his next team as he did with the Eagles – once again, agent Drew Rosenhaus has shown what a terrific negotiator he is – but he won’t be playing for a minimum salary, either. The Raiders have done an excellent job of juggling the salary cap, unlike another team in the area, but they can’t afford another top contract at this point.
If not the Raiders, who will get Owens? I wouldn’t be surprised if Mike Shanahan took a chance on him in Denver. Shanahan was very successful with his pickup of underachieving defensive linemen from Cleveland, who have been an important part of the Broncos’ success this season, and may feel he can do the same with Owens. I think he’ll be wrong. Owens is out of control. He’s alienated two coaches who are liked by their players – Steve Mariucci and Andy Reid. There’s no reason to believe he’ll change with another team.
NO CONSULTATION: Readers often ask me if Mike Nolan has consulted with Bill Walsh. The answer is no.
Nolan is so determined to build a new image for the 49ers that he has not involved any of the greats from the past, with one exception: Steve Young made a visit to training camp. Walsh has not been consulted. Joe Montana coached Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn at spring practice, at the request of coach Charlie Weis, but he has never been asked to help the young 49er quarterbacks.
I can understand Nolan’s desire not to fall back on the past, and I supported his decision not to sign Jerry Rice because of that. But it seems extremely foolish not to seek Walsh’s advice. Nolan’s confidence often borders on arrogance, and that’s my biggest worry about what he’s doing with the 49ers. At some point, he has to realize that he can get valued input from those who have been successful with the Niners.
WARRIORS MOVES: The Warriors added a potentially important piece when Ike Diogu came off the injured list this week.
I strongly believe that Diogu is one of those players who is going to upset the conventional wisdom. Like Charles Barkeley, he plays much bigger than he is, with an incredible wing span. The Warriors’ biggest weakness is a lack of defensive toughness and scoring inside, and Diogu can add both. His immediate impact will be limited because he doesn’t know much of the offense yet, after being injured during training camp, but he’ll become more and more of a force.
It was a blow, though, to lose Mickael Pietrus for four weeks. Pietrus has been an important part of the Warriors’ good start because he can come off the bench to score and play tight defense. When he returns, I hope coach Mike Montgomery will play him even more than he has so far this season.
THE COLLETTI FILE: I’m continually bewildered and bemused by the praise for Ned Colletti, who has left the Giants to become general manager of the Dodgers. It’s a mystery what Colletti actually did for the Giants. His background is in sportswriting and public relations, not scouting, so he wasn’t a talent evaluator. General manager Brian Sabean has often done his own scouting on college/high school prospects for the draft, and Dick Tidrow supplies information on major league players. Yet, one writer last week praised Colletti as someone who “sees the field,” as opposed to using computer knowledge.
Frankly, I think Colletti is just part of the “good old boys” network in baseball, He’s a very likeable man, which was the biggest reason for his advancement. His hiring by the Dodgers will probably turn out to be a plus for the Giants and a mistake for the Dodgers.
SELF-SERVING? Some Stanford people were upset when coach Walt Harris said after the Big Game that his players weren’t the equal of Cal players. I agree with him, but he should have let somebody else make that point. Harris is a good coach, but he’s a strange person, in serious need of a personality implant.
Stanford has a problem with both football and men’s basketball, because the already high admissions standards have been toughened, so it’s harder to get the top athletes in school. That was a big factor in Montgomery leaving. The senior class in Buddy Teevens last year, six of whom were drafted by the NFL, was probably the last one for the foreseeable future with that many superior athletes.
ORLICH HONORED: Michael (Mike) Orlich, a football official for 46 years, will be inducted posthumously into the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame on Dec. 6 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.
Orlich was also the basketball coach at Jefferson High in Daly City for 20 years. The center on his first championship team was John Madden. When Orlich died in 2003, Madden said, “He was not only a coach, but a friend, mentor, father figure. . . He dedicated his entire life to sports as a coach, official and administrator at the highest level.”
TV: I’m a panelist on “The Last Honest Sports Show,” which will air on Channel 44 (Channel 12 on cable systems), 6:30 and 10 p.m. Saturday.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING: As of the moment I post this column, I’ll be into spending the Thanksgiving holiday with my family, which means I won’t be answering e-mails, either. I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving, and I’ll see you on Monday, Nov. 28.
What do YOU think? Let me know!
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