By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Classic Crock (Conclusion)
As we close up shop for today, we’re gonna finish up with a little football. I wanted to get your take on what could be the end of an era. We know recently that Marvin Harrison, Amani Toomer and Terrell Owens have been in the news over the last few weeks; with much of the focus surrounding the unique persona of Mr. Owens.
But we throw in our pigskin trio because they all represent one of the deepest veins of talent ever to be tapped in the NFL Draft — the Class of ’96 wide receivers. Hunnycomb, are these cats among the best we’ve ever seen at the position?
HC : I’ll say this, Doc – I don’t think we’ll see a group like this that collectively stood the test of time like this bunch. What I’m most impressed about is who is left standing; because the remaining three all represent what makes a great receiver.
You know, around this of the year, I’ve already got my headphones on as I sift through data and DVDs (And, by the way, thank God for Youtube) when I do my scouting thing. I keep the headphones on because I want to keep out the noise of Combine fiends and stop watch junkies who get all hot and bothered about conditions that are never properly replicated on the playing field.
Doc: Aw, shit – I know where this is goin’. Rap on, brother – brother, rap on;
HC: Now my friends and colleagues already know this; but since some of you may just be getting to know me, I will say this so you will fully grasp my primary concept regarding what makes a great wide receiver – in almost 40 years of playing and coaching football, I have yet to see a stop watch catch a fuckin’ football!
Now, since that’s out of the way – let’s get onto business.
Pro receivers must have hands before they have feet; and while repetition is good (for practice and hand / eye coordination), concentration is better. To be great as a receiver in college doesn’t always allow for the same result at the next level. The oft – mentioned pace of the pro game can negate speed at this skill position if there is a lack of concentration and precision.
All you have to do is look at the records of receivers like Jerry Rice and Steve Largent to see where concern for speed has led to the detriment of other organizations missing out on what talents they had to offer.
To quickly review, Rice, out of Mississippi Valley State University, was a first – round draft choice of the San Francisco 49ers in 1985. Many “experts” questioned the pick because of Rice’s forty yard time – a pedestrian 4.65.
Meanwhile, Largent, a fourth round draft choice out of Tulsa University, had a time so slow he couldn’t even shop with the speed merchants of the 1976 Draft (4.85); so he was kicked to the curb by the Houston Oilers, only to be saved by the expansion Seattle Seahawks.
But both receivers had these things in common: sure hands, quick feet, and very precise in their route running. As to speed – well, Largent caught 819 balls, 100 TDs and over 13,000 yards; and that bust in Canton. Rice doesn’t have his bust yet because he was a little faster than Largent; another 100 touchdowns and seven years longer fast.
Doc: And I never saw Jerry Rice ever get caught from behind.
HC: If he ever got caught, it probably wasn’t until he hit his 40s – as in age; ’cause they damn sure wasn’t catching his ass any other time.
Along with Toomer, Harrison and Owens, there are others I could mention: Paul Warfield, Lance Alworth, Charlie Joiner, Harold Jackson, Henry Ellard, Andre Johnson, Mike Quick, John Stallworth, Drew Pearson, Fred Biletnikoff, Larry Fitzgerald, Jr., Randy Moss, Don Narcisse, Gary Collins, Raymond Berry, Michael Irvin and Torry Holt- just for a smattering of Old School & New School talent.
But as to this 40 – yard bullshit, it’s fair to hypothesize that bigger, long – striding receivers like a Terrell Owens, Randy Moss or Roy Williams don’t really hit their full football speed until somewhere between the 30 – 60 yard range, meaning at 60 yards (for argument’s sake) these guys could have faster overall times than their sub – 4.4 second cousins. But because “4.3″ is sexy, the masses will drink the Goofy Grape and acquiesce; and the sad part is some of these assholes get paid to show their ignorance.
You just mentioned Rice not getting’ caught from behind, this was a guy who ran slant patterns; plays specifically designed for short yardage gains – and turn them bad boys into “House Calls” – - oh, Doctor!
Doc: True that. It’s a long way from those old “5 and slants” everybody had to run back in the day.
HC: As the size of receivers continues to increase, the validity of the 40 yard dash becomes even more questionable as a barometer which successfully translates into on – field production or ability.
So while fantasy freaks fall in love with forties, you should remember in the era of the YAC (yards after catch) or RAC, the most important thing remains the “C” – because nothing positive happens until the ball is caught…
Doc: (laughs) Yeah, it’s kinda hard to get shit done without the ball.
HC: But when comes to the Class of ’96, these cats were amazing! They all had the aforementioned qualities, but they all had a different rhythm to ‘em.
HC: Yeah. Receivers and running backs are artists, especially receivers. Because it’s the receiver’s job to get noticed; they have to catch the ball, of course, but before that, the quarterback has to find them. I think part of the reason Owens has had some trouble with QBs other than Steve Young is because of the notice factor.
Doc: That makes some sense, because it is all about matchups. And even now, 14 seasons later,T.O. still commands a double – team.
HC: Damn Skippy! When you know you can take your man, you keep taking him when the ball keeps coming your way. That’s how Owens caught 20 balls in a damn game – with Jerry Rice on the same damn field at the same damn time! You don’t think Steve Young was running that huddle? Problem is, Garcia and Romo didn’t have the balls to tell T.O. to “shut the fuck up, it’s my huddle.” I think Donovan had, but those two personas just clashed; although I bet you Donovan understands T.O. a little bit better now – seeing how the Eagles tried to fuck him in the ass mid – season and then had to eat shit as D – Mc almost parlayed his anger into the Super Bowl.
As to the rhythm thing, watching Owens work is like Maynard Ferguson playing his horn – or Diamond Williams (Ohio Players) playing the drums – loud, clean and unpretentious.
Cats like Harrison and Toomer, however, their precision is what gets them noticed. Toomer was underrated because he had several QBs to deal with, but watching him I could see why he is so great; and the Giants’ all – time leading receiver. I liken him to someone like Roy Ayers or Milt Jackson; subtle, melodic – always part of the scene, but never the lead performer; even when he’s out front, he does his cool little solos and the overall performance is always sweet; because he already knows and trusts the rest of the combo are playing their parts as they’re supposed to.
And Harrison – damn! I’m talking Chris Squire, the bass player from Yes. Keeping perfect time with Peyton Manning during all those years with the Indianapolis Colts; flashes of technical elegance fused with pure speed. When I recall those game day workouts Manning and Harrison ran together, it reminded me more of a band’s sound check during rehearsal. Harrison never had to say he was open, because Manning always knew where he was; Marvin, after the 12 bar solo, you’re there – and boom! That was a thing of beauty watching those two.
Doc : That’s some good shit, brother; and definitely an inspiration to finish righteously with some appropriate traveling music.
Before we’re out, don’t you dare move dat mouse! BASN is in effect with some awesome stuff comin’ over the airwaves. Check out “The Batchelor Pad” with host L.A. Batchelor from 6 – 8pm Daylight Savings Time, Monday – Friday; ” The Weekend Sports Rap” with Tee – Mack, Tony Mc Clean every Saturday from 2 – 4 pm; “The Gray Leopard Cove” with Gary Norris Gary 4 – 4:45pm every Saturday; and The Sports MCs will be back to do damage again at our new time, Saturdays from 5 – 7 pm.; stay tuned to the Black Athlete Sports Network for future updates.
But for now, that’s all, y’all. As I step away from the mic, here’s a l’il some – some I know you’ll like…
This one goes out for all the members of the Class of 1996 receivers and to “Bullet Bob” Hayes, who is finally where he belongs – in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
(Lyrics to “Don’t Sweat the Technique” written by Eric B & Rakim)
Don’t Sweat the Technique…don’t Sweat the Technique
Let’s trace the hints and check the file
Let see who bit to detect the style
I flip the script so they can’t get foul.
At least not now, it’ll take a while; I change the pace to complete the beat
I drop the bass, ’til mc’s get weak.
For every word they trace, it’s a scar they keep…
‘Cause when I speak, they freak; to sweat the technique…
I made my debut in ’86; wit a melody and a president’s mix
And now I stay on target and refuse to miss
And I still make hits
Wit’ beats, parties, clubs, in the cars and jeeps
My underground sound vibrates the streets
MC’s wanna beef then I play for keeps; when they sweat the technique
Don’t Sweat the Technique
They wanna know how many rhymes have I ripped in rep, but
Researchers never found all the pieces yet
Scientists try to solve the context
Philosophers are wondering what’s next
Pieces are took to last who observe them
They couldn’t absorb them, they didn’t deserve them
My ideas are only for the audience’s ears
For my opponents, it might take years
Pencils and pens are swords; letters put together form a key to chords
I’m also a sculpture, born with structure
Because of my culture, I’m a rip and destruct the
Difficult styles that’ll be for the technology
Complete sights and new heights after I get deep
You don’t have to speak just seek; and peep the technique
But don’t sweat the technique…
I speak indiscreet ’cause talk is cheap
Then I get deep and the weak then complete their
Pull with a seat, never weak or obsolete
They never grow old techniques become antiques
Better then something brand new ’cause it’s radiant
And the wild style’ll have much more volume
Classical too intelligent to be radical
Masterful, never irrelevant: mathematical
Here’s some soothing souvenirs for all the years; they fought, and sought, the thoughts and ideas
It’s cool when you freak to the beat; but don’t sweat the technique
Don’t sweat the technique…don’t sweat the technique…