Tuesday, November 16, 2004

He really can't Hackett

I interviewed Paul Hackett on Monday afternoon. OK, so that's a big lie, but only because Hackett has ducked the media for two straight days.

This guy finds testosterone for 30 seconds on a Sunday, it backfires and then he goes into hiding like a 75-year-old man's sex drive after the Viagra wears off. There's nothing worse than a man who can't face criticism. That's worse than a B-level celebrity thinking he or she is really A-list and refusing to acknowledge the B-level status.

Our legal system gives defendants the right to face their accusers. Hackett opts out of that, even though the paycheck he gets on a regular basis borders on depraved indifference to human life.

Hackett may think he's safe from the media, but no one is safe from the Keyboard Quarterbacks. We're equal opportunity offenders, and by the stroke of good fortune, it's Hackett's turn.

So here's my imaginary conversation with Mr. Hackett:

Mark La Monica: "I gotta know, please. Why the f-bomb did you call that halfback pass?"
Paul Hackett: "Well, I figured our second-string running back who hasn't thrown a pass in a game in forever could fake out the best defense in the NFL, a defense, mind you, that has two players that are the best in the league at their position."

ML: "Why not just a simple draw play? You call them in every other situation."
PH: "I actually was debating any of seven draw plays at that time, but I figured Quincy Carter had completed every pass until then, so why not see if someone else could make a throw. I figured the Ravens' secondary was vulnerable to the pass. I even had a play ready for Bollinger but Herm thought that would be rubbing it in."

ML: "But you love the draw play. It's your bread-and-butter play."
PH: "The draw is only effective on third-and-5 or more when everyone in the stadium and around the NFL knows it's coming."

ML: "The logic is stupefying. I'm twitching."
PH: "See, I told you, I really am a smart football mind."

ML: "Oh yeah, well, how do you account for Carson Palmer having a miserable career at USC until you leave, and then he wins the Heisman Trophy?"
PH: "I taught him everything he knows."

ML: "You're killing me. Please wait a moment as I remove my spleen without anesthesia or medical instrument"
PH: "Let me show you my new draw play."

ML: "Dear God, no. Next question. Why did you call running plays on your last 9 nine first downs of the second half and overtime?"
PH: "I was trying to establish a distinct pattern so that, four weeks from now, our opponent will see that film and think we'll run again. That's when I bring out my new trick play -- a reverse, fullback draw!"

ML: "I think I just murdered my cat."
PH: "Can he block?"

ML: "Quincy Carter played well in Chad Pennington's absence, right up until the last minute. What happened?"
PH: "He was expecting a draw play to be radioed into his headset. When he didn't get it, he got flustered. He didn't expect to get a call to throw to his tight ends because he knows they can't catch but I don't."

ML: "When was the last time Chris Baker or Anthony Becht caught a wide-open pass for a first down?"
PH: "When was the last time we called a play for them?"
ML: "At least three times on Sunday. Watching Baker try to catch a football is like watching guys on the docks throw fish at each other."
PH: "Oh, yeah, those plays. They were check-offs out of a draw play."
ML: "Naturally."

ML: "Why did you curl up into a little ball in the second half with your play calling?"
PH: "I was waiting for this question. The answer is simple: I'm terrible at my job. I don't know how to call a game, yet I think I'm a genius and everyone else seems to agree. It's like passing the All-American basketball player because he can hit from 25 feet but you know he can't read. That's basically how I've kept my job. I don't deserve my paycheck."
ML: "Paul, I'm stunned. Where did that introspective, honest opinion of yourself come from?"
PH: "Psych! Wanna see my new draw play?"
ML: "I just poked out my right eye with a spork. Goodbye!"

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