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Sam Farmer ON THE NFL

Going beyond the National Favre League

August 09, 2008|Sam Farmer

A Google news search of stories over the last week that mention Brett Favre netted 34,760 results Friday morning.

By comparison, there were 1,810 mentions of his new crosstown counterpart, Eli Manning of the Super Bowl-winning New York Giants.

Now that Brett is a Jet and the dust is starting to settle on his divorce from Green Bay, it's time to remember that the "F" in NFL does indeed stand for Football.

A look, then, at some of the overlooked, underplayed and, well, "Favred" stories from around the league:

The teams that wowed us in Arizona last February looked pretty feeble in their exhibition openers. New England had five turnovers in its 16-15 loss to Baltimore, and the Giants lost at Detroit, 13-10.

Remember, though, this is the exhibition season, and it has very little to do with what happens when the games really count -- except the ticket prices are the same, something the NFL really must address. Tom Brady didn't play for the Patriots, and neither did Randy Moss or Wes Welker. For the Giants, Manning played only two series, and Super Bowl standouts Plaxico Burress and David Tyree didn't even travel.

To get from Oxnard to San Diego for their exhibition opener against the Chargers tonight, the Dallas Cowboys took a train for a five-hour journey Friday down the coastline. Talk about old school.

Indianapolis' Marvin Harrison has been cleared to play in tonight's game against Carolina. The All-Pro receiver sat out most of last season because of a knee injury that apparently was more serious than the Colts let on. Meanwhile, Detroit's Calvin Johnson, also coming back from a knee injury, had four catches for 78 yards against the Giants.

Keep an eye on the three-way battle at quarterback for the Ravens between Kyle Boller, Troy Smith and rookie Joe Flacco. None of the three bowled anyone over in Baltimore's debut.

If this isn't a make-or-break season for Arizona's Matt Leinart, it's close to one. So far, he has been up to the challenge. Against New Orleans on Thursday, he completed seven of eight passes for 91 yards and got a big thumbs up from his coach.

"Comfortable. Confident. Those are the words I would use," Cardinals Coach Ken Whisenhunt said.

Anthony Smith is vying for Pittsburgh's starting job at free safety. He certainly has the aggressiveness part down pat. Now he just has to work on judgment. He flattened star Hines Ward at a recent practice, drawing gasps from onlookers. Ward, the toughest receiver in football, was not pleased about the hit, which he considered excessive.

Working mostly behind a patchwork, second-string offensive line, Brady Quinn was solid for Cleveland against the Jets. He drove into field-goal range -- miscues pushed the Browns back -- and directed a touchdown drive.

The Bears are coping with some bad news: Rookie left tackle Chris Williams, a first-round pick, underwent back surgery for a herniated disk this week and is in danger of missing the season.

In the last two years, three of the Bears' first-day picks spent their rookie seasons on injured reserve: defensive linemen Dan Bazuin, Dusty Dvoracek and linebacker Mike Okwo.

Raiders Coach Lane Kiffin says rookie running back Darren McFadden, the No. 4 pick, is a sponge who can hear something once, get it right on the field and look as if he's been doing it his whole life.

The Favre saga -- yes, that again -- sidetracked the plans of Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck.

Bulluck told the Nashville Tennessean that he hoped to get a picture with Favre and a signed helmet when Tennessee played Green Bay in an exhibition later this month.

But there's another chance: the Jets go to Nashville on Nov. 23.

"Brett Favre in a Jets uniform?" Bulluck said. "It just isn't the same. It doesn't seem right."

Right? Wrong?

Who cares?

Keith, just be glad it's over.

--

sam.farmer@latimes.com

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