Suppose you were basing your draft strategy on results of recent Super Bowls. Here's what you would want:
• Short quarterbacks.
• Tall defensive backs.
• Lots of defensive ends.
Two of the past five Super Bowls have been won by quarterbacks who are "too short" -- Drew Brees and Russell Wilson. Throw in Delaware alum Joe Flacco, and three of the past five quarterbacks who stood in a confetti shower at season's end did not meet the draftnik ideal of magnificent physical specimen from a football-factory program.
But while your quarterback can be short, your defensive backs should be tall. Seattle's memorable defensive season was partly the work of cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Kam Chancellor, both 6-foot-3. Don't forget cornerback Byron Maxwell, at 6-1. Scouts used to think tall guys can't change direction quickly enough to play the secondary. Apparently they can.
Seattle's 2013 defensive performance was so spectacular -- at the Super Bowl, the No. 1 defense blew the No. 1 offense off the field -- that TMQ predicted an NFL revival of drafting for defense. We'll see. Remember, this column's motto is "All Predictions Wrong Or Your Money Back."
Besides tall pass defenders, the Seahawks often played with three defensive ends on the field. The Giants had three defensive ends on the field much of the time, too, in their most recent Super Bowl victory over New England. Quality defensive ends are as difficult to find in the draft as quality athletes at any other position. But if you have three defensive ends who can bring it, field them all at once.
In basketball news, the NBA just staged a Game 7 festival, and home teams nearly ran the table. Home teams are 95-24 all time in Game 7 of the NBA playoffs, an 80 percent winning figure. In pro football, all playoff contests are win-or-go-home, so every postseason game is like an NBA Game 7. Since the AFL-NFL merger, home teams are 263-128 in playoff games, a 67 percent winning figure. When it's winner-take-all, why is home court more valuable than home field? TMQ thinks it's because in basketball, the expressions on the players' faces are easily visible. The crowd becomes raucous and the visitors start to feel fear. Everyone sees it in their eyes.
In other football news, everyone's got a mock draft: Although TMQ annually mocks the mock drafts. Below is my 15th mock of mock drafts, as the column's 15th season approaches. By gifting tradition, the 15th is the crystal anniversary. Dear Bristol, I'd like a dilithium crystal, please.
In the run-up to the draft, everyone is obsessing about hundredths-of-a-second differences. See below for TMQ's annual lampoon of absurd precision.
1. Houston Texans: Idina Menzel, coloratura soprano. The Texans intend to select Johnny Manziel, but accidentally write Menzel's similar name on card. In second round, team hopes to tab Adele Dazeem.
2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington): John Lofting, inventor of draft beer. St. Louis drafts first or second for the fourth time in eight years. If there were draft choice standings, the Rams would be awesome.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Capt. Wesley McCall, commander, Naval Station Mayport in Florida. Good news for the Jacksonville economy: The Navy's new Littoral Combat Ship is slated to be home-ported at Mayport, just outside the city. Bad news: The Littoral Combat Ship is on the verge of being canceled.
4. Cleveland Browns: Joseph Laronge, theater developer. Cleveland's Playhouse Square, one of the world's finest theater districts, just added a giant chandelier to its attractions. Once dilapidated and slated for demolition, Playhouse Square instead was renovated and now is the city's jewel. Next up for renovation: the Browns.
5. Oakland Raiders: Lacy T., lead plaintiff in the Raiderettes' lawsuit against the team. As someone who has been pounding the table for years about fair pay for cheerleaders -- see a 2009 item headlined "Cheerleader Exploitation" -- Tuesday Morning Quarterback has this to say about the wave of cheerleaders' lawsuits: Go! Fight! Win!
6. Atlanta Falcons: Samuel L. Jackson, actor and pitchman. Before he was selling Capital One cards, Jackson -- a graduate of Atlanta's Morehouse College -- made ads encouraging Georgians to attend Falcons games. Now he ought to make ads encouraging Georgians to check the details on the giveaway of public money to the Falcons' stadium project.
Supposedly "only" $200 million in public funding goes into the stadium deal. That number itself is an outrage. Owner Arthur Blank has a net worth estimated by Forbes at $1.8 billion, and the NFL rolls in revenue. Why should the Falcons receive even one dime from the public? The "only" $200 million is money urgently needed by the city's scandal-plagued public schools, or for infrastructure improvements to an urban area that this winter experienced the worst traffic jam in American history. Instead, the public's money goes to a member of the 1 percent.
But the $200 million is only the giveaway up front. According to the civic organization Atlantans for a Fair Deal, the stadium agreement commits state and local government to subsidizing the Falcons to the tune of nearly $1.2 billion over 30 years. This includes exempting the stadium from property taxes. Average homeowners and small businesses will be soaked by property taxes while the NFL plutocrat pays none.
Atlanta's civic leaders are selling the public down the river to channel profit to an oligarch -- and perhaps get themselves campaign donations and free luxury-box seating. Media watchdogs are hardly barking. This couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that Blank is on the board of directors of Cox Enterprises, which owns The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the most important news outlet in the city.
7. City of Tampa Buccaneers: Cristin Milioti, the mother on "How I Met Your Mother." There was more suspense over her identity than is likely to be attached to the Bucs' season. Sadly, her character died young of "Love Story" disease, an incurable malady that causes attractive ingenues to waste away. This disease only strikes women who are near cameras.
Fans of HIMYM raged against the series finale, but fans always dislike finales -- "Seinfeld," "The Sopranos," etc. -- because they don't want the show's artificial universe to vanish. TMQ viewed the HIMYM closing scene as a tragic ending. If Robin always was The One, then she and Ted will have each other as consolation in aging, but were denied the young lustful years that are the sweetest part of a long-term romantic partnership.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Rhino from the Spider-Man reboot sequel. He would make a fine offensive lineman, though he might not be big enough by current NFL standards.
9. Buffalo Bills: Kobe Bryant, future owner. Donald Trump says he wants to buy the Bills and will keep them in Buffalo. If you believe anything Trump says on any topic, don't come cryin' later. The stadium lease makes it difficult for the team to be transferred to a buyer who states an intention of moving the Bills. But as long as a buyer such as Trump lies, all could be well. Los Angeles Bills makes about as much sense as Los Angeles Lakers.
10. Detroit Lions: Kevyn Orr, emergency city manager. Orr is struggling to get Detroit out of bankruptcy. If he succeeds, his next project could be the Lions, who have not won a playoff game since the elder George Bush was president.
11. Tennessee Titans: Connie Britton, imaginary country singer. The show "Nashville" is doing a lot better than the team based in Nashville.
12. Jersey/A Giants: Phil Jackson, current Toast of New York. The next Knicks coach will be their ninth in the past decade, adjusting for the fact that Herb Williams was hired, then fired, then hired again, then fired again.
13. St. Louis Rams: Tom Cruise in "Edge of Tomorrow." In this upcoming summer action flick, Cruise relives the same day over and over. There have been at least three major movies with this premise, and a prime-time television show ("Day Break") with the premise. It's as if audiences are forced to relive the same premise over and over.
In the Cruise movie, intelligent insects invade Earth. Maybe they seek revenge for mosquito spraying. The big-budget sci-fi flicks "Ender's Game" and "Starship Troopers" also featured insectoid civilians bent on destroying our planet. In both films, when Earth's counterattack reaches the insects' home worlds, no machines or technology are found. The intelligent spiders of "Starship Troopers" were able to teleport an asteroid across interstellar distance, a technological feat that defies imagination. Yet their home world had no factories, vehicles, buildings or computers; their soldiers lacked guns. The intelligent ants of "Ender's Game" could build enormous faster-than-light starcruisers, yet their queen lived in a crude anthill with no technology.
"Ender's Game" note: Besides sending a warning that, in the future, all acting will be shouting, this flick managed to combine two of Hollywood's silliest clichés about alien civilizations. One is that they will invade Earth for our water: Water is among the most common substances in the galaxy. The other, a chestnut of "Independence Day," "Battle: Los Angeles" and other big-budget space-invasion flicks, is that alien battle fleets will have a single command ship; destroy it and all the other ships just fall out of the sky. No one, not even an insect, would be stupid enough to engineer into a fleet such an obvious weakness.
14. Chicago Bears: Rahm Emanuel, superhero on "Chicagoland." The mayor claims he never watched this prominent series about his city, though it depicts him as a saint walking among us. Turns out his staff negotiated with CNN on items down to camera angles.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kevin Canevari, guard, Mercer University men's basketball. The Steelers are too reserved, too uptight. Canevari could teach them better touchdown dances.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Johnny Manziel, quarterback. Imagine the already-zany Cowboys offense trying an All-11 formation with two quarterbacks, Tony Romo and Manziel, on the field at the same time.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Lupita Nyong'o, actress. Her Oscar speech was terrific; she could give the Ravens' halftime speeches.
18. Jersey/B Jets: Chris Christie, Jersey bully. He could direct traffic in the parking lot at Jets games.
19. Miami Dolphins: Jeb Bush, Florida pol. People named Bush or Clinton held the White House for 20 of the past 26 years. Now there's a reasonable chance the 2016 presidential election will pit Bush versus Clinton. If this happens, the United States will seem like Argentina. Unless the race is Jenna Bush versus Chelsea Clinton.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Nephilim, Biblical giants perfectly suited to play nose tackle. In scripture, the divine sends a deluge because humanity was "corrupt in God's sight, and the Earth was filled with violence." (Genesis 6:11.) In the big-budget movie "Noah," some sort of spiritual entity, possibly a cosmic yoga instructor, sends computer-generated rain because people are eating red meat and causing greenhouse gases.
Scripture says Noah and his family are saved because he is "righteous" and "walked with God." The movie has Noah being spared because he's a vegetarian. Never mind that, in the Torah books, roasting animals is key to pleasing heaven. The reason the first murder occurred is that Abel, a shepherd, sacrificed sheep to the divine while Cain, a farmer, brought an offering of grain.
God praised the meat and castigated the vegan fare, resulting in Cain's fury. After the Flood receded, "Noah builded an altar unto the Lord, and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar." (Genesis 8:20.) The "pleasing aroma" of a burning calf on Noah's altar softened the divine heart and led to the first covenant, that humanity would no longer be threatened with extinction.
Yet in the movie, meat is offensive. Why is the story so altered? Because director Darren Aronofsky thinks he has a better sense of story than God! When Mel Gibson filmed "The Passion of the Christ," he altered Gospel events, added composite characters and invented scenes of gratuitous violence. Gibson thought he had a better sense of story than God! Apparently this is a common viewpoint in Hollywood.
To create a super-villain, Aronofsky elevated the cryptically mentioned Tubal-cain ("Zillah bore Tubal-cain, who made all kinds of bronze and iron tools," sole scripture reference) into Noah's evil rival. The flick makes the cryptically mentioned Nephilim ("The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward") into looming monsters called Watchers. There were Watchers in the Fantastic Four comics, on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and in the Gregory Benford sci-fi novels. Now we learn they all had origins in the Torah.
21. Green Bay Packers: Pharrell Williams, world's coolest person. The Packers seem a little uptight, too. The world's coolest person is the solution.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Adelina Sotnikova, figure skating champion. Her pure athletic ability is a good fit for Chip Kelly's high-tech blur offense.
The word "Russian" recently has become a pejorative, and for good reason. But snide remarks about Sotnikova in the U.S. media were difficult to take. New York Times front page: "Some experts raised questions about the scoring." Washington Post front page: "Several figure skating insiders" thought Yuna Kim should have won. Times Olympics columnist Juliet Macur denounced Sotnikova's gold because she was not expected to win! The Post complained about the new format of anonymous judges, while itself citing unnamed "insiders."
Judged events are always subjective -- was Kim's artistic perfection or Sotnikova's athletic power more impressive? There can be no answer to that question. Sotnikova sure was ballin'. Years later, her performance will still be worth watching, which can't be said of much in the Olympics.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: Jack, who likes to jump. The jumping jack is now the Official State Exercise of Missouri.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Thomas Edison, founder of General Electric. Cincinnati will be the location of a new GE executive center, good for jobs and a sign of Cincy becoming hip. NPR calls Cincinnati the next gay mecca, which once would have caused local leaders to recoil in horror but now is seen as good news for a vibrant urban economy.
25. San Diego Chargers: Swimsuit Barbie. She'd fit right in on the city's beaches. After swimsuit Barbie "posed" for the annual Sports Illustrated cheesecake number, the toy company ran a full-page ad in The New York Times declaring girls should "celebrate who they are," which means feeling "free to launch a career in a swimsuit, lead a company while gorgeous or wear pink to an interview at MIT." TMQ yields to no one in his enthusiasm for attractive women in scanty attire, yet the argument was ludicrous: Mattel certainly would not hire a woman who wore a swimsuit to a job interview. Mattel called what it produced by the prestigious label "op-ed," though the company statement ran as a paid advertisement, not on the op-ed page.
26. Cleveland Browns (from Indianapolis): Ariel, mermaid who hoards. When the woeful Browns traded away Trent Richardson, and traded 2013 draft picks to bank choices for this year, they seemed engaged in NBA-style tanking. But with the 2014 draft shaping up as one of the deepest ever, Cleveland's choice-hoarding strategy suddenly seems a masterstroke. The Browns go twice in the first, third and fourth rounds -- given the quality of the draft, it's a chance for a talent makeover. The 49ers, Jets and Rams also are sitting pretty with stockpiled picks.
27. New Orleans Saints: Steven Seagal, tough guy. Last year the Saints improved by playing tough-guy defense. Perhaps Seagal is rethinking his affection for Vladimir Putin. Today, the Russian Federation has low fertility, the shortest life expectancy in the West and pervasive corruption. The line going around is that Russia has become "Nigeria with snow." The common denominator is government-controlled oil resources: In both nations, corrupt insiders and their cronies live large on stolen oil money while average people suffer.
28. Carolina Panthers: Kyle Fuller, cornerback, Virginia Tech. Possible actual pick thrown in for variety.
29. New England Patriots: Scott Brown, itinerant senator. Once a United States Senator from Massachusetts, Brown has moved to New Hampshire, where he hopes to run for the Senate in 2014. Shopping for residence is a longstanding political tradition. Hillary Clinton moved to New York because she thought she could win a Senate seat there. Dick Cheney, for years a resident of Texas, suddenly got a Wyoming driver's license when he ran for vice president (so that both members of the ticket, Cheney and George W. Bush, would not be from the same state.)
30. San Francisco 49ers: Janus, two-faced Roman god. Jim Harbaugh either loves coaching this team or hates being there, depending on what day it is. Jacksonville traded first- and second-round draft choices to obtain Blaine Gabbert, and now has traded him to San Francisco for a sixth-round selection. At least the Jaguars got their security deposit back.
31. Denver Broncos: Kevin Durant, 6-9 "small" forward, Oklahoma City. The Broncos set football's regular-season scoring record, then were crushed in the Super Bowl. Only one of the 10 highest-scoring NFL teams has won the Super Bowl the same season. Over in the NBA, of the 67 regular-season individual scoring champions, only 11 went on to win the title. Unless the Thunder win out, it will be only 11 of 68. (Those who did both: George Mikan twice; Joe Fulks, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaq once; some guy named Jordan six times.)
32. Seattle Seahawks: Ed Murray, mayor of Seattle. He's a hero for backing a $15-an-hour minimum wage in his city. That might be too high in some parts of the country. But here's an intriguing two-minute video argument for the practicality of a $13-an-hour living wage. The video calculates that consumer prices would rise 1.4 percent, which is hardly trivial across the whole economy; though social justice would rise, too. Obamacare is financed by a roughly 1 percent tax on the economy (as higher capital-gains and Medicare taxes), and the strongest argument for Obamacare is social justice. But it's government-controlled social justice; a national living wage would transfer money to average people and let them decide how to use it.
Unified Field Theory of Creep: Reader Cody Herche of New York City reports U.S. News & World Report published its 2015 ranking of law schools on March 11, 2014.
Newspaper Must-See: Terrific Washington Post story, by David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold), on tax dollars wasted preparing reports no one ever reads. Don't blame bureaucrats; the House and Senate deserve the blame. To create the illusion of action, Congress mandates thousands of annual reports that all parties involved know will go straight to the circular file.
The Strange Geography of Prime-Time Thrillers: The prime-time thriller series "Crisis" and "The Blacklist" have regular exterior shots of a place identified as "FBI headquarters, Washington, D.C." Neither building shown resembles the actual FBI headquarters, which has distinctive "brutalist" architecture. What's called FBI Headquarters on "Crisis" appears to be a Marriott hotel. In the background, viewers see the Washington Monument and Capitol dome -- next to each other! The actual structures are at opposite ends of the Washington Mall, with FBI headquarters between them.
"Crisis" begins by having kids from an exclusive prep school in the nation's capital board a bus for a field trip to New York City. Soon the bus heads down a lonely one-lane blacktop in a remote area, where kidnappers attack. A Secret Service good guy accompanies the field trip because the president's son is aboard the bus. The Secret Service guy protecting the president's son never says, "Hey, why are we heading down a lonely one-lane blacktop in a remote area instead of using I-95?"
During a later scene on "Crisis," the crawl reads "Anacostia, Virginia." Anacostia is a neighborhood in Washington, D.C. The trees in "Anacostia, Virginia" are rampant with red autumn foliage, though in the pilot -- which occurred four days earlier by the show's clock -- trees were green and characters dressed for summer.
On "The Blacklist," usually the secret headquarters of the elite FBI strike team seems to be in New York City -- in one scene an emergency in Brooklyn is reached in minutes. But sometimes the secret headquarters seems to be in Washington -- when characters go out the door, they see the Capitol dome. In a "Blacklist" episode, a bad guy is said to be in "Dorchester, Massachusetts," which producers seem to think is a town; it's a neighborhood of Boston. The good guys race to their black SUV, peel out with the Capitol in the background; make a quick turn and are on the Williamsburg Bridge in New York City; moments later they are in Boston. In another "Blacklist" scene, the crawl says "Fairfax, Virginia"; viewers see an abandoned warehouse in a gritty industrial district. Fairfax, Virginia, is actually a high-income bedroom suburb.
On "Crisis," the criminal who kidnaps the president's son has unlimited money and resources, including a supercomputer that can control all electronics at the CIA, Pentagon, FBI and local police departments. There's no explanation how such a device could possibly exist. Like the Joker in the Chris Nolan movie, the kidnapper has an endless supply of super-competent henchmen who are willing to die for him, though he is obviously insane.
Absurd Precision Watch: When one draft prospect is said to run a 4.58 and another a 4.59, draftniks have something to talk about -- though only in track and swimming might hundredths of seconds merit attention. Americans love absurd precision. In the latest Star Trek movie, Spock says an idea has "a 91.6 percent chance of success," which is supposed to make him sound smart -- actually it makes him sound like a crackpot. And what about that four-tenths of a percent in Barack Obama's approval rating? Presidential approval ratings bounce around like dinghies in a storm, yet we attach significance to tenths of a percent.
Here are amusing examples of absurd precision since last year's pre-draft item on the topic:
• New Jersey raised its capital-gains tax to 8.97 percent. It's certainly not 9 percent!
• When the Bills used their first choice of 2013 on EJ Manuel, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle said he connected on "66.89 percent" of his passes in college. A rate of 66.9 percent would result in exactly the same number of completions.
• Memphis was playing George Washington in the men's basketball tournament. Trailing by three, G.W. launched a buzzer-beater; the ball caromed out of bounds and the horn sounded, ending the contest. Wait -- officials are huddling with the monitors. "I'm guessing they put 0.6 seconds, maybe even 0.7 seconds back on the clock," broadcaster Reggie Miller said. Miller can sense tenths of seconds! Officials told the timekeeper to put 0.4 seconds back on the clock. Officials can sense fifths of seconds!
• Reader Jeff Horbinski of Chicago reported this from the IndyCar website: "James Hinchcliffe of Andretti Autosport won last year's race by 1.0982 seconds."
• Prince George's County, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, reported it was hiring more firefighters so that "response times would improve by 12 seconds."
• ESPN Insider projected that the Phoenix Suns would win "17.2" games. The actual was 48 -- that's 30.8 more victories!
• A new German power plant boasted of 45.95 percent efficiency. If only they'd hit 46 percent!
• The scandal-plagued F35 fighter project was said to have exactly 719 "quality assurance issues."
• Exactly 101,157 signatures were required to certify a recall vote on San Diego's mayor.
• When the NBA's Robin Lopez was shipped from New Orleans to Portland, he received a trade bonus. The amount, specified by his contract, was $1,568,999. It should have been $1,568,999.99!
• Sports Illustrated said Peyton Manning releases a pass in "2.51 seconds." During the Indianapolis-Kansas City playoff game, an NBC crawl said Andrew Luck was averaging "2.27 seconds" per release. Pro Football Focus said Robert Griffin III takes "2.66 seconds" to throw a pass.
• A Swedish research agency advised the United States to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by "29.1 percent."
• A New York Times story declared that an indicator of greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere had been "revised downward" from 400.08 parts per million to 399.89 ppm. The difference represents one molecule in 10 million.
Next Week: TMQ's annual grade-inflation draft grades -- everybody is above average.