NFL ready to douse Dante's inferno
By Ralph Wiley
Page 2 columnist

Dante Hall's progenitor was Nolan "Super Gnat" Smith (there really are no new things), another diminutive, unstoppable kick returner for the Kansas City Chiefs, circa the late '60s.

Dante Hall
Every special teams player in the NFL will now have Dante Hall's picture tacked up in his locker.
Gnat came out of Tennessee State, and he once ran neat 9.5 100-yard dashes in the easy way you play solitaire on your laptop. His 40 time was irrelevant. He ran more than 40 yards every time he touched it. The first time he returned a kick in NFL/AFL competition, he went 75 yards with a punt against the Raiders for a touch. Terrorized special teams in the league for the better part of two seasons until they had meetings on him. He was subjected to The Punishment Factor, and they broke him up.

Forewarned is forearmed, Dante. When it ain't there -- duck. Get down.

Super Gnat had another claim to fame -- maybe the best sporting cameo in the history of motion pictures. He was in Bob Altman's "M*A*S*H*." We didn't know Altman was a fan, but there Gnat was, stealing the big football game scenes, running back a kick for a touchdown against the 4077th, then getting hyped with morphine during a pileup and becoming hilariously useless, except as sideline entertainment. Higher than a kite, he assumed the sprinting position in imaginary starting blocks, then ran helter-skelter into a bevy of cheerleaders, including Hot Lips, at the report of the halftime gun.

We are not halfway through the 2003-04 season, so there is no gun going off yet, but all teams will be looking to shoot down Dante Hall in the coming weeks. Like the Super Gnat, Dante seems to be a sweet, agreeable kid with blazing straight-on speed, but more importantly, an outerworldly jab step and and the ability to change directions like a fish, or a Nicholas brother. But I know the tendencies of these NFL gunners; what they cannot catch, they try to destroy. Dante is in their crosshairs now. Here's hoping they miss.

Here's also the Week 6 NFL Uncensored Thought Balloons, brought to you by Dub's "Instant Temporary Insanity." Try "Instant Temporary Insanity." It's worked for Miggy Tejada, Eric Byrnes, Derek Lowe, and many others ...

Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy
These guys have no comment on Indy's "idiot kicker."
Mike Vanderjagt, K, Indy Colts: "Down 35-14 to the Bucs in the fourth? No shot. Look at Dungy and Peyton. Soft as cotton. Rigid as pigeon stool. I know all about being hard. I'm a kicker. Let me show everyone how I feel with this shifty look on my face on the sideline. Told ya! That's interesting. It's 35-21. Looks good for the papers. 35-28? Luck. 35-35? Ohmigod ... why is everyone looking at me? Why aren't we trying to punch it in? Kick? Me? No, I'm not nervous. I always kick quacking ducks like that. I'm not the wuss. Dungy and Peyton are the wusses. Why won't anyone sit by me?"

Julius Peppers, DE, Carolina Panthers: "What do I have to do, make a wish and break a guy over my knee? Snap Manning's neck, use his big head as a pinata? We didn't get a sack last week -- but we won, didn't we? We're in front of Tampa, ain't we? I still can't get any major pub. What am I, garlic?"

Dick Vermeil, Coach, Kansas City Chiefs: "Go, Dante, go! The Superstar of Running Far! So am I the man, or what? Simple as special teams, baby. My great hope for this season is that Brenda Warner doesn't call asking me to be on her radio show. Suddenly, my cell phone is going to get baaaad reception. I'll throw it in our retention pond and ask Brenda, 'Can you hear me now?' I hear you, Bren, but you don't think you're coming here, do you?"

Brett Favre, QB, Green Bay Packers: "Can't believe Emmitt blubbered like that after the game. Unless it was the pain. Me, never had a cracked scapula. Don't even know what one is. I thought it was what you flip pancakes with. Von Holliday always did want to whack me, the big bastard. We're gonna go out there beat the tar outta the Chiefs. Or, not. We'll have a tag-team match, me and Winters vs. Ahnold and Jesse the Body. Pay-per-view. How could Cameron go with Justin Timberlake? My facial hair's way more rugged than his is ..."

Donovan McNabb
Donovan McNabb would just like a couple of decent playmakers. Is that too much to ask?
Donovan McNabb, QB, Philadelphia Eagles" "Bad enough I had to explain to my new wife why I can't throw four TD passes every game. Bad enough I've got the cast of "Carnivale" as my weapons. Then here you come, Rush. Tell you what, since you're not busy right now, why don't you come down here and unscrew Roy Williams out of your sternum, tough guy?"

Quincy Carter, QB, Dallas Cowboys: "Glad Rush didn't pick me."

Bill Parcells, Coach, Dallas Cowboys: "He's glad? I'm ecstatic."

Aaron Brooks, QB, New Orleans Saints: "Glad Rush didn't pick me. It's not because I'm black that I fell off a cliff. It's that I'm rich 'n' comfy now."

Byron Leftwich, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars: "Wish the %#$@! would'a picked me."

Jon Gruden, Coach, Tampa Bay Bucs: "I like that guy, I like that guy. Marvin Harrison, I mean. I like that guy. Keyshawn is my guy. He's a real card, that Key. A real ... jerkweed, actually. He's my guy -- until I can draft somebody or get Jurevicius gets back. Then Key's more like ... history."

Tim Couch
"Tim, Mr. Davis is holding on Line 1."
Tim Couch, QB, Cleveland Browns: "Butch has to know how I feel. Do I have to spell it out for him? Butch, Butch, Butch, Butch, Butch. Can't you feel my need? Butch is not endearing himself to me. I cook, I clean, I iron his shirts. I make the Steelers look like so many clowns, and what do I get for it? Ignored. A vote of confidence for Holcombe. Butch, Butch, Butch. You're gonna miss me when I run off with Al Davis. He appreciates me."

Bill Callahan, Coach, Oakland Raiders: "Hey, gang, I got an idea ... what is it? ... uh ... darn ... I forget. Let me call Chucky up and see what it was."

Jeremy Shockey, TE, New York Giants: "I can't get mad at fans? I can't call a guy a homo? I can't get a guest-starring role in 'Kill Bill, Vol. 1'? So tell me, what can I do? OK, besides going to hell ... besides eating (expletive)."

Drew Bledsoe, QB, Buffalo Bills: "J-E-T-S-, Thank-You-Jets!"

Herm Edwards
Hang in there, Herm. There are only 12 weeks left in the season.
Herm Edwards, Coach, New York Jets: "Since my vaunted braintrust has allowed four of my five best players to walk, since my starting QB went out before the season even started, since my stud running back has turned into my stunted running back -- yeah, I do need the liberal media to prop me up."

Dom Capers, Coach, Houston Texans: "I've got to talk to Gary Walker, that defensive end of ours. 'By going 2-2, we've put ourselves in a good position.' ? Yeah. Right, Gar. We put ourselves in a good position to go 2-14, unless you do less yakking and more tackling. Note to self: call up Rush and tell him I don't need a more motivated McNair in my freaking division!"

Jeff Fisher, Coach, Tennessee Titans: "If I Had A Hammer -- a Hammer running back, a real Striker, instead of this admittedly good-looking guy dipped in caramel, who apparently thinks he's living on a pension -- I'd Hammer in the morning, I'd Hammer in the evening, all over this la-and. But I'll keep on siccing Steve on 'em instead, I guess. Could be worse ..."

Bill Cowher, Coach, Pittsburgh Steelers: "Maddox, mirage, Maddox, mirage. ... Memories, light the corners of my locker room stall, misty water-colored memories, of the jaw that jutted ... can it really be over ...?"

Mike Shanahan, Coach, Denver Broncos: "... let's see, Jake, or Maddox? Portis, or Bus? Vail, or Erie? ... Yep, Bill, it's pretty much over, I'd say."

Ray Lewis
Do NOT antagonize this man.
Ray Lewis, LB, Baltimore Ravens: "Um, yum ... barbequed Emmitt ribs. What? He ain't playing this week? Aw, no. I was really looking forward to basting me up some Emmitt Smith ribs, barbequeing them, and devouring them with a tangy blood sauce. But guess Roy Williams beat me to it. Why was Emmitt crying after the game and talking about his daughter? Tell him to stop that. I don't understand it. What I don't understand, I destroy. Hey, what can I tell you; I'm a quirky kind of guy. I ain't no metrosexyall. But I might make you mine. What's your name again. Blake? Come over here ..."

Jeff Blake, QB, Arizona Cardinals: "Help me. Please. Help me."

Jeff Garcia, QB, San Francisco 49ers: "If I could get my head all the way up my butt, I could do a good impression of Terrell Owens on the sidelines."

Mike Martz, Coach, St. Louis Rams: "People are beginning to think than that even Vermeil, Lovie Smirh, Orlando Pace, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and the liberal media can't prop me up ... but they're wrong."

Michael Vick, QB, Atlanta Falcons: "Hey Mister Limbaugh. Prop this up."

Ralph Wiley has written articles for Sports Illustrated, Premiere, GQ, and National Geographic, and many national newspapers. He was one of the original NFL Insiders on NBC. His many books include "Serenity, A Boxing Memoir," "Why Black People Tend To Shout," "By Any Means Necessary: The Trials and Tribulations of the Making of Malcolm X" with Spike Lee, "Dark Witness," "Best Seat in the House" with Spike Lee, "Born to Play" with Eric Davis, and "Growing Up King" with Dexter Scott King and the children of Martin Luther King Jr. He contributes to many ESPN productions, and bats cleanup on a weekly basis for Page 2.



Ralph Wiley Archive

Wiley: Uncensored NFL thought balloons

Wiley: J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, *%#@!?

Wiley: The Classic vs. The Frontier

Wiley: Been ready

Wiley: Year of the Dragger

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