Quinton Dunbar Is Probably Fucked, Right?

I never did follow up on this psychotic freak-out, because not long after initial reports of Dunbar’s alleged involvement in armed robbing a houseparty of items that may or may not have been stolen from Dunbar and his alleged accomplice (that guy from the Giants whose name I can’t remember because who cares?) – what’s otherwise known as an O.J. Simpson Special (not THAT O.J. Simpson Special, or THAT one either) – we happened upon reports that Dunbar’s attorney acquired written affidavits from people at that party, who were either witnesses alleging Dunbar had nothing to do with it, or were the alleged victims themselves recanting their original statements to authorities.

It all seemed shady as fuck – and I think a lot of reasonable people immediately had visions of bribes and accompanying lies, orchestrated by the perpetrators or their highly-paid attorneys in an attempt to free them up for the upcoming football season (and future prosperous paydays therein) – but as a Seahawks fan, what, am I NOT going to be cool with it? I get my guy back – a guy this defense DESPERATELY needs, as it continues to ignore the very glaring pass rush problem, which puts the onus even more on the secondary to pick up the slack – and no one REALLY got hurt, so what does it matter? BOYS WILL BE BOYS AND WHATNOT!

Now, word is coming out that – indeed – there probably were payouts orchestrated by Dunbar’s attorney, who has withdrawn from the case (along with the other attorney who hopped aboard in recent weeks to help bolster their defense), as prosecutors opted to not just let boys be boys or whatever and dismiss the case like we’d all hoped.

This is a bad sign, right? I’m thinking this is a bad sign.

The excuse is that Dunbar is really the victim here, and people are extorting him, but come on. Don’t shit a shitter! There are better ways to extort money from millionaires than making up a “fake robbery” and going to all this trouble. What’s that Occam’s Razor thing? The first cut is always the deepest? Something like that, you get what I’m talking about.

The good news is, Dunbar’s new attorneys appear to at least somewhat have their shit together. According to the Seattle Times article I read this morning – from the actual newspaper, as I’m not a savage! – they recently got another NFL player’s brother off on a murder charge, so that’s promising. This isn’t anywhere CLOSE to murder! So, Dunbar’s definitely going free, right?!

I was really, REALLY hoping all of this was behind us. I mean, we have enough to worry about; there might not be an NFL season at all this year! Now they’re throwing this wrench back into the mix; it’s more than I need right now, is all I’m saying. I see why reports are ramping back up about the Seahawks being interested in Jamal Adams. You have to figure they know more than we do right now, and what they know is that Dunbar might not be playing football this fall regardless of whether or not everyone else is.

So, fingers crossed, I guess? I would imagine – whatever comes to pass – Dunbar almost certainly won’t be offered a contract extension beyond the 2020 season. Seems like too big of a risk, compared to someone like Shaquill Griffin, who will also be looking for an extension (and who has been a fucking saint, by comparison, in his time in the NFL).

The Best Players On The Worst Teams, Part IV: Everything Else

Part I – Felix Hernandez

Part II – Other Seattle Mariners

Part III – Seattle Seahawks

There aren’t enough Sonics to include on this list to make it worth my while for a whole post, mostly because the Sonics had been consistently good throughout the years.  With the exception of the early going (the first seven years or so) and the late going (the last six years or so, before they left Seattle).  One name that popped to mind immediately was Ray Allen.  Of course, he went on to have great success with the Celtics (and I guess the Heat, depending on whether they can pull out these Finals), but in his time in Seattle, the Sonics greatly underachieved, with only one post-season appearance to his name.  Technically, I’m not counting players like Ray Allen, since the whole idea is to praise the guys who have suffered their whole careers on terrible teams, but as I said before, the pickin’s are pretty slim across Sonics history.

I was also halfway tempted to put Rashard Lewis on this list, as his Sonics teams were pretty underwhelming too.  But, he did go to Orlando, and they did go to the playoffs in three straight seasons, including one Finals appearance.  So, screw off to Lewis; he had his chance.

Once you rule out all the great players from the 70s, 80s, and 90s (for being on consistently good-to-great teams), the only name that comes immediately to mind is Bob Rule, the old Sonics center from the very first Sonics teams.  I don’t know much at all about these early-going Sonics, but I know Bob Rule was quite good in his day.  And, from the looks of things, he NEVER made the playoffs in his 8 seasons in the league.

***

I likewise don’t have a great handle on all the Husky teams throughout the ages, but there’s one name that can’t be denied.  He might be the greatest Husky football player who ever lived.  At the very least, we’re talking about a guy in the Top 5 or Top 10 in all time Huskies.  Of course, I’m talking about Jake Locker.

When you think of great Husky teams, I’m sure you think of the Don James era.  Maybe you think about some of those teams in the 1920s, or the Jim Owens era if you’re real old school.  If you’re some young punk idiot, you’ll think about a couple of those Neuheisel teams, because those are the years I attended the university.  The point is, there are PLENTY of great Husky teams to choose from.  As there are PLENTY of great Husky players to choose from.

But, when you think of truly terrible Husky teams, you think of every season after the Neuheisel era.  You think of Gilby and Willingham.  You think of 2008 and 0-12.  And, of course, you have to think about Jake Locker.

Now, obviously, if we’re talking about one of the greatest Husky football players of all time, then you know we’re talking about teams that were terrible in spite of their leader!  Nevertheless, in his first two years, the Huskies were 4-9 and 0-12 before Willingham was rightfully fired.  That’s a disgrace!  How could you possibly draw in a player SO GOOD, and end up with records so poor?  Well, of course, Locker was hurt for much of that 0-12 campaign (that really seemed to drag on and on and on until the end of time; if there is a Hell, it’s forever sitting in the freezing nosebleed seats at the end of October, 2008, as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish trounce your home team 33-7), but that’s neither here nor there.

Locker never had the talent around him.  Period.  Even when Sark came aboard, there was little hope.  You can’t turn around a program this inept in one or two years.  Locker’s third season was a marked improvement, but the Huskies were still only good enough to finish 5-7, bringing his 3-year record to 9-28.  Finally, though, in his Senior season, through the sheer force of Locker’s will, the Huskies made it back to a bowl game and kicked the asses of the Cornhuskers.  A 7-6 final season brought Locker’s total record to 16-34, which makes me weep a little on the inside.  Deep down, where I’m soft like a woman.

***

Upon conception of this post idea, it was supposed to center around Felix Hernandez.  I decided to broaden the scope and include other sports, so I reached out to some friends to give me ideas on other elite players who have been banished to terrible teams throughout their careers.  So, let’s get it on.

A lot of people feel sorry for Larry Fitzgerald, but let’s face it, if you’ve ever played in a Super Bowl, you’re disqualified (I don’t care HOW terrible his quarterbacks have been since Kurt Warner retired).  So, forget about him, and start getting a huge sad sack boner over Steven Jackson.  Nine years in the league to date, all with St. Louis.  In his first season (2004), the Rams made the playoffs (remember the game where they beat the Seahawks in the Wild Card round?) and won a single game before losing the following week.  At that time, Jackson was sharing the load with the legendary Marshall Faulk, so he didn’t even get a full allotment of carries in his lone post-season appearance!

In a real oddity, the Rams for Jackson’s entire career (including 2004) have never had a winning record.  At best, they’ve been 8-8 (twice); at worst, they’ve been 1-15 (once) and 2-14 (twice).  His total record in the NFL is 44-99-1.  His stats to date are:  10,135 yards, 56 touchdowns, 407 receptions, 3,324 receiving yards, 8 receiving touchdowns, in 131 total games.  My hunch:  we’re talking about a guy who will be in the Hall of Fame one day.  And it’s only now, as he’s signed with the Atlanta Falcons, where he will finally get a real taste of the post-season life.  Even then, nothing is guaranteed in the NFL.  I generally dislike the teams in Seattle’s division and the players on those teams, but Steven Jackson is one of the good ones.  If it weren’t a foregone conclusion that the Seahawks are going all the way this year, I’d root like crazy for Jackson and the Falcons.

Next on my list of the parade of the damned, we’ve got probably my favorite running back of all time:  Barry Sanders.  Ye GODS, was he spectacular!  Hands down, probably my favorite player to watch play the game of football.  He lasted 10 years, all with Detroit, before retiring at an age where he probably – if he wanted to – could have continued his career.  I mean, in his final season, he ran for 1,491 yards!  In his next-to-last season, he ran for over 2,000 yards!  If that’s not a guy who’s still in the prime of his life, I don’t know what to tell you.

The Detroit Lions, in his time, were consistently mediocre.  78-82.  Yes, they made the playoffs in five of his ten seasons, but they were never really CONTENDERS.  And, not for nothing, but the Lions’ playoff record in his tenure was 1-5; yes, they lost their first game 4 out of the 5 times his Lions made the playoffs.  Remember these names:  Rodney Peete, Dave Krieg, Scott Mitchell, Charlie Batch.  These are just a few of the quarterbacks who did little more than hand the ball off to Sanders and watch him try to carry the team into the playoffs.

OK, one more player before I finish for the day and continue this post later.  O.J. Simpson.  He IS a Hall of Famer!  He played in 11 seasons throughout the late 60s and all of the 70s, 9 of them in Buffalo before finishing his career in San Francisco (before they were SAN FRANCISCO).  In that time, Simpson played in exactly one playoff game, in 1974, against the Steelers, where they lost 32-14.  He ran it 15 times for 49 yards with another 3 receptions for 37 yards and a touchdown.  Those are the entirety of his playoff numbers.  Little did the world know then just what kind of an asshole he would become, but at the time of his retirement, I suppose you had to feel sorry for the guy.

To be continued …

Shaun Alexander’s Chances Of Getting Into The Hall Of Fame

All this talk about Hall of Fames has gotten me interested in Shaun Alexander again.  Make no mistake, I don’t think Shaun Alexander belongs in the Hall of Fame.  He’s right there on the edge … but he doesn’t have the numbers to make it in.

In yesterday’s post, I talked a little shit about Curtis Martin making it in (and, in the process, lowering the bar for someone like Alexander).  Well, I somewhat take that back – I guess longevity deserves recognition as much as actual ability – but I still stand behind my statement that Cortez Kennedy was the best of the bunch in the 2012 class.

Curtis Martin had over 14,000 yards rushing in 168 games over 11 seasons.  11 seasons for a running back is pretty damn impressive.  Also impressive is, in 2004 – his 10th season – Martin won the rushing title (and had his best-ever season) with 1,697 yards (over a reckless 371 attempts … averaging a little over 23 attempts per game).  I would argue that Martin was never a truly elite running back, but he was always pretty damn good.  He had over 1,000 yards in each of his first ten seasons, with his body finally breaking down in that 11th and final go-around.  With that kind of longevity, it’s hard to ignore those numbers.  He was a fucking WORKHORSE.

Shaun Alexander, on the other hand, WAS an elite running back.  From 2001 through 2005, I would argue no one was better; although, if you tack on receptions & receiving yards, it’s probably pretty apparent that LaDainian Tomlinson was better.  Still, if you go by straight rushing, Alexander gets the edge (7,504 yards vs. 7,361 yards) and (87 touchdowns vs. 72 touchdowns).

Throughout that period, it was always neck-and-neck as to who was the best running back, Alexander or LDT.  Fantasy experts would always side with LDT, but if you had to settle for Alexander, it’s not like you were getting a dog with fleas.  You can’t argue with 87 touchdowns in a 5-year period!  You’re looking at a 17 per-season average, with an NFL record 27 in that MVP 2005 season!

Alexander was in the Top 10 in the NFL in rushing four of those five seasons, with his 1,175 in 2002 still good for 13th (and with his 16 touchdowns tied for 2nd).  In 2005, Alexander won the rushing title with 1,880; in 2004, Alexander lost the rushing title by 1 yard to the aforementioned Curtis Martin.

And in rushing touchdowns, Alexander was no worse than tied for 3rd in any of those five seasons (winning the rushing TD title twice).

When my friends and I had a huge drunken civilized argument about Alexander’s Hall of Fame worthiness sometime in 2009 – in an era where we didn’t have iPhones to decide the winners of these debates – I didn’t even have to look at the stats to know that Alexander was a shoo-in.  I mean, SURELY after such a period of dominance, Alexander was WELL beyond the 10,000-yard threshold that seems to be a solid indicator of whether you’re in or not.

Then, later, when I had a chance to sit in front of a computer, I was faced with the cruel, harsh reality:  9,453.  With the final 24 coming in a Redskins uniform.

9,453.  That number looks so small, so impotent.  9,453 of the daintiest little yards you’re ever going to see.

In today’s NFC West Blog, Sando wrote this, talking about Shaun Alexander. 

In it, he talks about how Alexander’s stats are on-par with Earl Campbell, beloved hard-running battering ram who made his name for the Houston Oilers.  He made it into the Hall of Fame with numbers actually slightly WORSE than Alexander’s.  But, he made it into the Hall of Fame based on reputation.  Reputation for never going down, never going out of bounds, never giving up on that extra inch.  Earl Campbell killed his body over eight seasons (only five of which saw him go over 1,000 yards, although one of those sub-1,000 seasons was strike-shortened), and he was rewarded with induction.

No one, not even the dumbest of Seattle homers, is going to confuse Shaun Alexander’s running style with that of Earl Campbell.  Although, I would argue there is one exception, and that’s the Red Zone.  Whenever Shaun Alexander sniffed himself that sweet endzone apple pie cooling on Miss Blanchard’s window sill, he was a rabid dog in hot pursuit.  He finished his career with 100 rushing touchdowns.  87 in his prime, 2 in 2000 when he was a backup to Ricky Watters, and the final 11 over his last two seasons with the Seahawks, when his body started breaking down (as well as his all-world offensive line).  If anyone should have a hate-on for Tim Ruskell, it’s Alexander for him letting Steve Hutchinson go (and thereby letting all those wide-open running lanes go with him).

100 rushing touchdowns, by the way, has Alexander tied for 7th all time.  The person he’s tied with (Marshall Faulk) as well as everyone above him (save Tomlinson, who will be a first-ballot guy whenever he retires) are all in the Hall of Fame, as well as the guy just below him (Barry Sanders) with 99.  Alexander has more touchdowns than Curtis Martin, Eric Dickerson, Franco Harris, Jim Taylor, Earl Campbell, Tony Dorsett, Thurman Thomas, Larry Csonka, and O.J. Simpson (all in the Hall of Fame).  And you’re talking about a guy whose career was cut short by injury and circumstance!

Which is ultimately the shame of it all for a guy like Alexander.  He was in the absolute prime of his life in 2005 when he led this team to the Super Bowl.  Then, he signed a long contract extension, and promptly developed a foot injury.  This injury prevented him from playing in 6 games in 2006 (and prevented him from playing all that well in the other 10 he was in) and 3 games in 2007.  Tack onto that the fact that our offensive line went down the shitter thanks to Tim Ruskell’s idiocy, and the fact that Mike Holmgren was in the midst of being pushed out by an overly-eager front office looking to make a change just for the sake of making a change.  Shaun Alexander didn’t stand a chance.  He didn’t get to have a second career like Tomlinson has had in New York.  Granted, Tomlinson was a little more durable in his first career in San Diego, but he still had an opportunity to tack on over 1,000 yards in these past two seasons as a reserve.  Alexander didn’t even get THAT opportunity.  He was picked up by the Redskins, sat on the bench most of the time, and then discarded like stale pizza crust.

I firmly believe, if we would’ve retained Hutch, it not only would’ve meant our continued success over the last half of last decade, but it would’ve meant Alexander would have easily cleared 10,000 yards.  Even if he was battling injury, it would’ve made his job a helluva lot easier had he had the bodies in front of him capable of doing their jobs properly (as they had between 2001 & 2005).

Alexander got a raw deal, plain and simple.  He may not get the respect of the media in Seattle – who like to belittle him every chance they get because he was a Big Fish in a Small Pond who didn’t kowtow to that Small Pond mentality – or even the respect of most of the fans – who like to conveniently forget all of his tremendous success on the football field in favor of highlighting the times he ran out of bounds to avoid contact – but I always appreciated him as one of The Greats.  He may not ultimately have the numbers to truly rank and belong among The Greats, but he had the skill, the ability, and the drive.  And for five straight years, he was NFL Royalty.

The Hall of Fame might not come a-calling, but will the Ring of Honor do?