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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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By JOANNE KORTH
Published September 24, 2006
The Eagles' Donovan McNabb has 139 touchdowns versus 67 interceptions in his eight-year career, a 2.07 ratio that is second best in NFL history among quarterbacks with at least 100 touchdowns. When Philly travels to San Francisco today, he will play on the field where the first- and third-ranked players became Hall of Famers.
Down by not out
History shows 0-2 teams advance to the playoffs more often than people might believe. Since 1990, when the league expanded its postseason to 12 teams, 17 teams began 0-2 and rebounded to reach the playoffs. The list includes two Super Bowl champions: the 1993 Cowboys and 2001 Patriots. Eleven teams are 0-2, including preseason playoff favorites Carolina, Miami, Tampa Bay and Washington.
Year Team Start Round
1990 Houston Oilers 0-2 Wild card
1990 Philadelphia Eagles 0-2 Wild card
1990 New Orleans Saints 0-2 Wild card
1991 Atlanta Falcons 0-2 Wild card
1992 San Diego Chargers 0-4 Divisional
1993 Pittsburgh Steelers 0-2 Wild card
1993 Dallas Cowboys 0-2 Won Super Bowl
1994 New England Patriots 0-2 Wild card
1995 Detroit Lions 0-3 Wild card
1996 New England Patriots 0-2 Lost Super Bowl
1998 Arizona Cardinals 0-2 Divisional
1998 Buffalo Bills 0-3 Wild card
1998 New York Jets 0-2 AFC championship
2001 New England Patriots 0-2 Won Super Bowl
2002 Atlanta Falcons 0-2 Divisional
2002 Pittsburgh Steelers 0-2 Divisional
2003 Philadelphia Eagles 0-2 NFC championship
Teams: Bucs, 49ers
Teams: 49ers, Chiefs
After Michael Koenen converted only 3 of 10 field goals in two games, the Falcons signed previously retired 46-year-old Morten Andersen. If Andersen plays Monday night against the Saints, his former team of 12 seasons, he will become the second-oldest to play in an NFL game after George Blanda, whose 26-year career ended one month shy of his 49th birthday. "I was just talking to my old roommate, Y.A. Tittle, this morning," Andersen said. "We were reminiscing about the times we were taking stagecoaches to the games." With 2,358 points, Andersen is 77 shy of the NFL record of Gary Anderson.
A familiar role
Matt Leinart is a backup quarterback not only for the Cardinals, but fictional Briscoe High in a current Nike television ad campaign. Briscoe just happens to have Don Shula as its coach, Michael Vick and LaDainian Tomlinson on offense and Brian Urlacher and Troy Polamalu on defense. Briscoe trails 14-10 late in the game but pulls it out on a Tomlinson halfback pass for a touchdown. Leinart never plays. "But we win, right?" Leinart said. "Insert me? I'm just the new kid, just holding the clipboard."
You're No. 1!
In the first meeting last season between the AFC South teams, the Jags' Byron Leftwich was sacked six times and fined $5,000 for making obscene gestures at Colts coach Tony Dungy. The always-calm coach laughed off the incident last week by using a line from late Marquette basketball coach Al McGuire. "He used to say if the bouncer doesn't take his jacket off, it's really nothing," Dungy said. "That's probably what it was, just some pleasantries. I don't think the bouncer even got notified."
Steelers coach Bill Cowher, below, was a movie star in the Bengals' meeting room last week as players viewed footage of him mocking the Bengals' "Who-Dey" cheer in the Steelers' locker room after last season's postseason victory. "I didn't like it," Cincinnati receiver Chad Johnson said. "It was very rude." Cowher admits he might have regrettably fueled an already formidable opponent. "I'll say this," Cowher said. "Imitation is the greatest form of flattery." Nice try. Of course, the Steelers could always pull out footage of Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh wiping his shoes with a Terrible Towel after December's victory in Pittsburgh.
Stat of the week
The NFL's top two rushers from last season, the Seahawks' Shaun Alexander and Giants' Tiki Barber, meet today in Seattle, marking the first time two 1,800-yard rushers will square off. Alexander led with 1,880 with Barber 20 behind.
All indications are Dolphins quarterback Daunte Culpepper's surgically repaired right knee is healthy, but that doesn't mean he is playing at 100 percent. Culpepper, above, has thrown three interceptions in two games and was sacked seven times in a 16-6 loss to Buffalo last week. Though his arm remains strong, he is not nearly as mobile as he was when he threw 39 touchdowns in 2004. "From the standpoint of mobility, running like he did years ago, it will probably take him some time," said Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher, whose team plays today at Miami. "But the arm is there. The anticipation is there. Everything is there for him to be successful. You've got to be very careful to judge people based on two weeks."
Giants kicker Jay Feely returns to Seattle today for the first time since missing three potential winning field goals in a 24-21 overtime loss last year. He missed from 40 yards with five seconds left in regulation and from 54 and 45 in overtime. Feely was made fun of in a Saturday Night Live skit, which his wife, a fan of the show, thought was hilarious. Two weeks later, replays of the misses were shown on the video boards in Philadelphia as Feely lined up for an overtime attempt. Feely made that kick and 12 of 14 the rest of the season.
"Everywhere I went this offseason, whether it was speaking at a school, speaking at a church, talking with senators, anywhere I went, that question always came up: 'How did you deal with that game?' " said Feely, a six-year pro. "When you go through rough times in life, the way you respond is going to define you. One of my favorite quotations is from Hubert Humphrey. He said, 'Smooth water never made a good sailor.' "
Bears coach Lovie Smith, above, likely spent time watching the Vikings' newly installed version of the Tampa 2 defense under coordinator Mike Tomlin. Last week, Smith designed a play to take advantage of a weakness he saw in the Lions defense, which is playing the Tampa 2 under first-year coach Rod Marinelli. Smith, Tomlin and Marinelli are former Bucs assistants. Smith's play, inserted two days before the game, resulted in a 41-yard touchdown pass from Rex Grossman to Bernard Berrian.
Learning from mistakes
The Broncos offense has manufactured one touchdown drive and 19 points in two games, which has fans calling for rookie quarterback Jay Cutler to replace mistake-prone Jake Plummer. Coach Mike Shanahan has no intention of doing so. In 1999, after John Elway retired, Bubby Brister was the starter. He was ineffective during the preseason, and Shanahan promoted Brian Griese, a 1998 third-round pick. The team went 6-10. "You can't put somebody in there until his teammates feel he has earned that spot," Shanahan said. "If I learned one thing with Brian Griese, it was that I put him in there too early. In retrospect, I hurt Brian by putting him in too early."