Today in sports: The NFL still has a quarterback problem, Dwayne Wade no longer wants to be paid for lending America his prestige, and the New York Jets might not open their doors to everyone and anyone this season.
Former Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill could be the next Johnny Unitas. He also could be a flop. Time will tell. For now, he's the embodiment of what Malcolm Gladwell called the "quarterback problem" in 2008 -- the lack of predictors for how a college quarterback will fare in the NFL. This is problematic, because the quarterback is the most important player on an NFL roster. Tannehill -- a converted wide receiver who started just 20 games at the position in college -- was expected to be a top 40 pick on his physical gifts alone. Ideally, he'd spend two seasons marinading on the bench. But few executives and coaches can wait that long to determine if they have something special. And people want to believe he's special, if only to say "I knew he was special!" Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay deemed the former Aggie the "hidden gem" of the class on Monday, even though he cut Peyton Manning in order to select Stanford's Andrew Luck. Bill Polian, Irsay's former general manager, wrote a breathless ESPN.com column detailing the various ways teams could acquire the third pick in order to get Tannehill. Former Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick compared his swift rise to that of JaMarcus Russell, another college quarterback with limited experience and mouth-watering physical skills. The Oakland Raiders took Russell with the top pick the 2007 draft, a selection that proved to be an unmitigated disaster. “JaMarcus Russell was the highest-rated player I’ve ever seen on any of our boards," Billick cautioned. "We all missed on JaMarcus Russell." Both "shot up the board on the way [he] looked in shorts." Which is not to say Tannehill is doomed to be a bust. Far from it: that's the problem. If personnel departments knew not to invest resources in strapping players who throw a pretty spiral and need extra seasoning, they'd be happy. But Cam Newton made the Pro Bowl last year as a rookie with less college experience than Tannehill or Russell. Nobody knows anything and everyone knows it. [Baltimore Sun]
Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade is predictably walking back comments he made yesterday about how NBA players should be paid for playing with Team USA in the Olympics. Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen, who said the same thing on Tuesday night, has not. Good for Ray Allen, refusing to release a statement explaining how he really meant to say the opposite of the thing he said. There is pride in that. Wade's teammate LeBron James was asked the same question and, in a highly LeBron James move, declined to comment. [ESPN]
It seems that New York Jets coach Rex Ryan and owner Woody Johnson are fighting about whether the team should appear again on HBO's training camp reality series Hard Knocks. Ryan doesn't want to do it, because it's an inconvenience, and besides, being overexposed didn't help the team last year. Johnson wants the cameras, but the Atlanta Falcons reportedly have the inside track this year. Either way, WFAN callers are bound to be outraged. [Newark Star-Ledger]
The New York Times has a look at one of the sporting scene's odder subsets: the people who return historically signifcant home run balls, scorecards, and assorted curios to athletes and ask nothing in return. What's the deal with those people? Unclear. The guy who returned Louis Oosthuizen's ball from the Masters made a point of noting how he's "not a souvenir grabber" and likes history, so maybe they're actually a subset of history buffs who can't stand historical artifacts. Or just fundamentally decent people. [The New York Times]
Bill Parcells passed on coaching the New Orleans Saints, but if the leaderless Super Bowl contender is still in the market for a figurehead type from yesteryear, Jason Whitlock says they should consider 75-year-old Dick Vermeil. Dick Vermeil! [Fox Sports]