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Inside the NFL | Sam Farmer / ON THE NFL

They All Have Big Story to Tell

September 13, 2003|Sam Farmer

NEW YORK — Jeremy Shockey, a second-year tight end for the New York Giants, made a familiar excuse this week when asked about the gay slur he used to describe Bill Parcells in a taped interview with New York magazine.

"It's something that got turned around," said Shockey.

"You can't trust anyone. If they want to sell papers and make their quote of the month, they're going to do it, no matter what you say. [Parcells] coached here and he understands how the media is. I'm sure he didn't think much of it."

Shockey can do the I-was-misquoted mambo all he wants. But who needs to twist words when there are story lines this enticing heading into Week 2:

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They coulda been contendas -- Four teams with legitimate Super Bowl hopes -- Philadelphia, New England, Green Bay and Miami -- are struggling to regain their equilibrium after losing their openers at home. At least one of those teams will avoid an 0-2 start, though, because the Eagles play the Patriots on Sunday. It will be the first time in 71 years that teams will meet in the second game of the season after being shut out in their openers. The last time it happened was Oct. 1, 1932, when the Chicago Bears played the Staten Island Stapeltons.

The final score of that game: 0-0.

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The two Jakes -- Take Delhomme over Plummer. That's a no-brainer after Carolina backup Jake Delhomme led the Panthers to a 24-23 victory over Jacksonville with three touchdown passes in the second half. Denver's Jake Plummer won too, even though three of his passes were intercepted and he finished with a 21.7 quarterback rating. How did the Broncos win? They were playing Cincinnati. And they could get away with another stinker from their $40-million quarterback this week, considering they're playing San Diego, which has four new starters in its secondary.

Proof there's life after 40 -- Arizona rookie Anquan Boldin, whose stock took a nosedive at the NFL combine after he ran a slow 40-yard dash, offered a convincing rebuttal in the opener with 10 catches for 217 yards. The yardage total was the most ever by a player in his NFL debut. It was one man's victory over the stopwatch.

It was not, however, a victory for the hapless Cardinals. Detroit won, 42-24.

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Martz-ing to his own drummer -- St. Louis Coach Mike Martz made a few dumb decisions in Sunday's loss at the Meadowlands, the worst of which was leaving Kurt Warner in the game after the quarterback suffered a concussion in the first quarter. Afterward, Martz admitted that Warner -- who fumbled six times and was sacked six times -- wasn't himself and had a confused look when receiving the plays. Martz also said the Rams should have tried a 48-yard field-goal attempt when they trailed by 10 with about five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, rather than going for it on fourth and 12 (they failed).

Who had the concussion, the quarterback or the coach?

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You think Shockey's paranoid? Check out Warren Sapp.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported a bizarre episode involving the Tampa Bay defensive tackle several hours before the Eagles played host to the Buccaneers on Monday. According to the story, Sapp went to lunch with six friends, among them Portland Trail Blazer Rasheed Wallace, at a local restaurant.

After bringing the appetizers, the waitress noticed everyone traded plates. Sapp did the same thing at another Philadelphia hangout before a game in January, at the time announcing he was concerned an Eagle fan in the kitchen might have spit in his food.

Remembering that story, the waitress Monday good-naturedly asked Sapp, "Would you like me to switch them, or would you like to switch them after I leave?" She joked that she could understand why he might want to swap plates.

That was enough for Sapp, who refused to eat and glowered at the waitress. She tearfully retired to the kitchen. Sapp soon left for a nearby steakhouse -- but only after his buddies had gobbled down their lunches without flinching.

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Don't hold your breath for the NFL Players Assn. to take the side of Ohio State sophomore running back Maurice Clarett in possibly testing the league's draft-eligibility rules.

I called the NFLPA regarding the issue this week, in hopes of getting Executive Director Gene Upshaw's views. An NFLPA spokesman first asked me to put my questions in writing, which I did, then told me Upshaw wasn't discussing the matter. The union tends to side with the league on such things.

Clarett, suspended for the season by Ohio State for receiving extra benefits and for lying to investigators, might challenge the NFL's eligibility rules in court if he doesn't transfer to a lower-division school. As it stands, he will not be eligible for the NFL draft until spring of 2005.

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