by Trevor Whenham - 4/24/2006
A roundup of the news that will impact your picks now and into the future.
LaVar Arrington is a Giant - LaVar Arrington, the disgruntled former Redskin linebacker, has signed a 7-year, $49 million deal with the Giants. He's coming off of two rough seasons in Washington where he had a knee injury and butted heads with the coaching staff, who accused him of freelancing. His knees got a clean bill of health from Giants doctors, so the third overall pick in the 2000 draft should be ready to contribute. The Giants desperately needed linebacker help after injuries ravaged the corps last year. Now, with Arrington joining defensive ends Michael Strahan and Usi Umenyiora, New York's front seven should be markedly better than last season.
Bengals hope Wright is the right choice - The Bengals have finally landed a backup quarterback. That position is more important than usual for Cincinnati, because it is uncertain when Carson Palmer will be back from that ugly knee injury he suffered in the playoff game against Pittsburgh. The man they have chosen is Anthony Wright. He started seven games for Baltimore last year when Kyle Boller was out. He threw six touchdowns and nine picks and averaged less than 200 yards passing per start while his team lost five of the seven games, though some of that can be credited to the Raven's anemic offense. One bright spot was his accuracy - he completed 61.7% of his passes on the season.
Los Angeles Chargers? - The Chargers have been turned down by the City of San Diego in their request for funding to build a new stadium. The city is in horrible financial shape and doesn't have the money. Most likely, that means that the Chargers will eventually leave San Diego, and it could happen as soon as 2008. Los Angeles Chargers, anyone? How about the San Antonio Chargers? Of more immediate interest will be to monitor the coverage of this situation to see what, if any, impact it will have on the team. Geographic uncertainty has hung over other teams in the past and dragged them down. Philip Rivers and the rest of the team have enough to overcome without that unwanted pressure added to it all.
High School phenom Clausen chooses Notre Dame - Jimmy Clausen, the top-rated prospect of the class of 2007, will be taking his quarterbacking skills to Notre Dame under coach Charlie Weis. Clausen is the brother of Casey and Rick, who both took snaps at Tennessee. Jimmy is reportedly much more talented than either brother. He will enroll at Notre Dame in January, meaning he will be able to participate in spring practice. If he continues to develop in his senior year of high school, Notre Dame could enjoy a smoother than expected transition once Brady Quinn graduates after this season. As important, such a high profile signing coming relatively early in the process will help Weis' recruiting efforts for the rest of the year. In other words, it's looking increasingly like Notre Dame's strong first season under Weis might not just be a fluke.
Bush family real estate problems? - A potential mess is brewing around Reggie Bush's family. His mother, Denise Griffin, Bush's stepfather LaMar and brother Jovan have recently and suddenly moved out of the home that they have lived in for the last year. The home is reportedly owned by Michael Michaels, and there are reports that Michaels had ties to a sports marketing agency and attempted to steer Bush towards an agent. USC has asked the Pac-10 to investigate. Players and their families can't receive extra benefits from agents or marketing companies. In extreme cases Bush could be ruled ineligible and games he played could be forfeited, much as happened to Michigan during the Chris Webber era. It was a huge distraction to Webber, and could similarly impact both Bush and USC if anything materializes.
Kazmir not injured after all - Scott Kazmir, the young pitcher that Tampa Bay stole from the Mets for Victor Zambrano in 2004, is one of the few bright spots for the current Devil Rays and a centerpiece of the developing young team in the future. If the Rays can find a way to remain even remotely competitive this year, it will be in large part because of Kazmir. The team and the fans looked on in fear as Kazmir, who is 2-1 so far this season, left the game prematurely with some sort of arm injury. They'll be breathing a sigh of relief to hear that it was just a problem with dehydration caused by taking cold medication that caused a cramp in the forearm. The problem cleared up with water and electrolytes and Kazmir won't have to miss a start.
Penguins continue to get younger and better - The Pittsburgh Penguins received the second pick in the 2006 NHL Draft in the Draft Lottery performed last week. St. Louis was number one. The Penguins already have the No. 1 pick in 2003, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, and the No. 1 pick in 2005, phenom Sydney Crosby on the team. The No. 2 pick in 2004, Evgeni Malkin, will be joining the team next season after a strong showing at the Olympics. The 2006 draft is very strong at the top, so the Pens will add another solid young player. It will still take a year or two for the team to mature into itself, but this team is very reminiscent of the Nordiques/Avalance franchise that parlayed a string of high picks into two Stanley Cups.
Kentucky Derby loses a starter - The Kentucky Derby has lost a starter in tragic fashion. With a City was euthanized on Sunday. He won the Lane's End at Turfway Park on March 25, but then finished last at the Arkansas Derby after a very troubled trip. He had been stabled at Churchill Downs and was working towards the Derby. On Thursday the colt became ill. He was taken to the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington and a bevy of tests were run on him. They couldn't discover the problem and the horse kept getting worse. The Florida-bred colt had won almost $360,000. He would have been the first Derby starter for trainer Mike Maker.