Prime Cuts

Slices of great NFL content from around the web

Fullback of the Opera

Singer makes journey from fullback to Figaro
www.khou.com

It began almost by chance in 1994, while still at Colorado, when he took his girlfriend to see a traveling production of the Broadway musical “The Phantom of the Opera.” He was so enthralled that tears rolled down his face. He bought a CD and learned the songs.

Then he got some real opera recordings, singing along in his bass-baritone voice, “kind of like karaoke.”

...In 2001, he was in Fargo, N.D., training for a workout with the Denver Broncos, when he saw a flier announcing an open opera audition for the Pine Mountain Music Festival in Michigan.
On a whim, he showed up.

“I figured, what the heck!” he says, his voice rippling into a low laugh that echoes his rich singing bass.
He performed the only aria he knew, from Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.” To his surprise, he got the job, plus four other offers…

...He has now sung with the Washington National Opera, the Seattle Opera, and other companies across the country and in Italy, England and Canada, plus the New York Philharmonic and at Carnegie Hall.

Who was that shape in the backfield shadows? Whose is that face in the face mask?

Porter missed time due to pre-seizure symptoms

Broncos' Tracy Porter missing time after summer seizure; hopeful vs. Saints
www.denverpost.com

Tracy Porter has been sidelined in recent days because of precautionary measures the team’s medical staff is taking after the Broncos’ cornerback suffered a seizure in August.

Last Sunday, before the Broncos were to leave for San Diego for a game against the Chargers, Porter was experiencing light-headedness and his heart was racing — symptoms that occurred before he had a seizure in August. “I had never had one before, 26 years I’ve been living,” Porter said Thursday…

...Porter returned to practice this week. He missed the workout Thursday because of a doctor’s appointment where he hoped to get cleared to play Sunday night against the New Orleans Saints, his former team.

As of Thursday afternoon, Porter still was hoping to get cleared by a doctor.
...

Good move by the Broncos on this one--both in holding Porter out and getting in front of this story.  There had been too much speculation in the last few days as to what was wrong with Porter.

When it comes to the health of players you can never be too cautious.

Former Broncos QBs not faring well at the polls

SI poll: Tim Tebow most overrated
espn.go.com

Five months after being named one of the top 100 players in the NFL, the New York Jets’ backup quarterback was voted the most overrated player in the league—in a landslide—based on a Sports Illustrated poll released this week.

A total of 180 players voted in the survey, with 34 percent naming Tebow. How’s this for a twist? Jets starter Mark Sanchez finished tied for second, receiving eight percent of the votes. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo also got eight percent.

It's been a rough week at the ballot box for ex-Denver signal callers -  Neilsen found Jay Cutler, Kyle Orton, and Brady Quinn among the least popular players in the league, while current Broncos QB Peyton Manning has one of the highest fan approval ratings.

One has to wonder why Orton and Quinn, who would seem to inspire apathy more than love or hate, are on this list. With that in mind, we had our expert pollster, TJ, formulate a questionnaire to help probe the bottom of this mystery:

Benoit: Expect Brees to target Porter and Moore, Manning to go after Harper

Film Room: Falcons-Eagles
www.footballoutsiders.com

It’s hard to imagine veteran Champ Bailey getting fooled too often by Brees’ body language. Porter, on the other hand, is an aggressive plant-and-drive gambler. Of course, even more enticing than Porter is Rahim Moore. If Jimmy Graham can return from an ankle injury, expect New Orleans to create inside matchups for him against the young safety.

Peyton Manning will be looking for one man when he steps to the line of scrimmage Sunday night: Roman Harper. If he sees the seventh-year strong safety in the box, he’ll pass. If he sees him out of the box, he’ll run. Or maybe pass some more, as Harper out of the box equals Harper in coverage, and Harper in coverage equals a very exploitable weak spot in the Saints defense.

FWIW, PFF has graded Porter at -2.0 (only Joe Mays has fared worse among Broncos), and Moore at +3.3 (best on the team) in pass coverage. Harper gets a -1.6 grade, while secondary mates Patrick Robinson (-3.2), Malcolm Jenkins (-6.2), and Corey White (-8.3) have been even worse.

Of course, Brees and Manning tend to make most secondaries look rather poor, and the continuing questions surrounding Porter's health mean the Saints QB may not have his former teammate to pick on come Sunday night.

Top of Broncos’ 2011 draft paying dividends

4 Analysts, 4 Questions – The 2011 Draft Class
www.profootballfocus.com

Khaled: We’ve gone a long way into this piece without mentioning our 2011 rookie of the year, but in me choosing the Denver Broncos, that’s all about to change. Of course this class has a big leg up on the competition by having the (at this time) most dominant player from the entire class in it. Von Miller has been nothing short of sensational, and looks to be getting better the more he plays. When you add in a solid starting safety like Rahim Moore, and an underrated right tackle like Orlando Franklin you’ve done your job and then some. The rest of the class is still a little of a work in progress, but they nailed their top three picks.

Just like it was too early to call Moore and Franklin busts after their rookie seasons, it's not yet time to view their sophomore campaigns as having acquitted the job done by John Elway & Co. And there's still the matter of Nate Irving and Julius Thomas, who have significantly underwhelmed. But atop the Broncos' 2011 draft class, so far, so good.

D.J. Williams gets 30 days of house arrest

Broncos' D.J. Williams to serve 30 days in-home detention — but after Super Bowl
www.denverpost.com

A Denver County Court judge on Wednesday sentenced Broncos linebacker Genos “D.J.” Williams to 30 days of in-home detention for his most recent DWAI conviction but delayed the penalty’s start date until Feb. 7 — just after the Super Bowl.
Prosecutors sought a month in jail, saying it was Williams’ second ability-impaired driving conviction in just over five years. He also faces two years of mandatory probation.

If D.J. has any trouble killing his newly-found free time, we've got a few suggestions:

  • Work on becoming a better secret keeper
  • Purchase a Whizzinator, learn how to use it.
  • Store up some drug-free urine to save for testing, so he doesn't have to use non-human piss anymore.
  • Program the telephone numbers of some Denver-area car services into his phone, and add them to his Faves

Klis: Carolina should think Xanders

Carolina Panthers should place call to Brian Xanders
blogs.denverpost.com

Brian Xanders should be on their short-list of candidates. This is a guy who knows the inner front-office systems of three teams — the Atlanta Falcons, Broncos and New England Patriots (through his time with Josh McDaniels). Xanders has worked nearly NFL job, from coach to salary cap manager to talent evaluator to general manager…Panthers owner Jerry Richardson should give Xanders a call.

When considering any candidate for a position of power and influence, it's good to do your research.  For example, how good will he be with the media?  We suggest our Brian Xanders Random Quote Generator as a good starting place.  Some of our favorite Xanders quotes of all time include the following:

  • "It's a great opportunity for myself."
  • "I have a vast background in football."
  • "I don't want to go revisionist's history."
  • "Mostly, I want fans to understand that the draft is vitally important to us on how we build this team into the future."
  • "There was never a question that we wouldn't have him."
  • "90% of my job now is watching tape."
  • "We all get along together."
  • "We are going to have our college scouts start cross-checking the players in February, instead of later in the process in January."
  • "We researched their personal character and their football character…we never want the character grade to bleed into the football grade..."

Other "stuff," like Xanders's role in drafting Tim Tebow and whether Xanders really did prefer Clay Matthews to Robert Ayers are just minor things.

The debate is over: Tebow is Tom Brady

Rex says Tebow played Brady on scout team, gave tips on McDaniels
profootballtalk.nbcsports.com

According to Jets coach Rex Ryan, Tebow has already done valuable work in practice this week: Tebow played the role of Tom Brady for the Jets’ scout team to prepare the defense, and Tebow also provided information about the play-calling tendencies of Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who coached Tebow in Denver.

Asked whether picking Tebow’s brain for intelligence about McDaniels was part of his preparation, Ryan confirmed that it was.  “Absolutely, we did that with Tim,” Ryan said.

For all you doubters, remember, Tebow said this about Josh McDaniels:

I was jacked leaving that room. I didn't even want to visit another room. It was not enough time. We were excited, we were enthusiastic. There was passion. It was just intense, and it was ball, and it was juice. The juice level in that room was high, and it was awesome.

Juicy.

Raiders have ‘em right where they want ‘em

Oakland Raiders see opportunity to get back in AFC West race
www.insidebayarea.com

“What I wanted our guys to understand is that even though we haven’t started the way we wanted to, that everything we set out at the beginning of the year is still right in front of us,’’ Allen said. “Sometimes when you start off 1-4, you feel like things are lost, and that’s not necessarily the case.’’ The Denver Broncos started 1-4 last season, with Allen as defensive coordinator, and ended up winning the AFC West on the final weekend of the season with an 8-8 record.

Strong side linebacker Philip Wheeler said: “He might have thought that we were down and saying we’re out of it, but we’re not out of it. We’re not out of anything. We can still make our own destiny.’‘

The one problem?  The Raiders don't have Tim Tebow to run the veer option, and for as good as Sebastian Janikowski has been over the years, he's no Matt Prater.   

With all due respect to Dennis Allen, the Raiders will be lucky to win seven games.

Who cares what athletes put in their bodies?

Happy endings rare in sports
msn.foxsports.com

Do you think anyone cares what Kobe Bryant does to get his knees ready for an 82-game NBA season? You think David Stern and the league’s television partners care? The same could be said of Peyton Manning’s neck and Ray Lewis’ triceps.

I hope Kobe plays forever (as long as he’s never perceived as a better player than Magic Johnson). Kobe is entertaining, compelling and fun to analyze. So are Manning, Lewis and A-Rod. My position on PEDs has been pretty consistent for quite some time. Athletes are entertainers, the same as musicians. I don’t much care what drugs Led Zeppelin, Guns N Roses or Marvin Gaye used to make good music. I don’t care what athletes do to take the field.

Although it's a minority position to take in American sports, I agree with Whitlock on this one.  I don't care what athletes put in their bodies as long as they know the associated risks; further, he's right to call football entertainment.  It may be more enduring than hot-oil wrestling (although I know where I'd rather be during a 4th-quarter blowout), and Roger Goodell would have you believe it's as American as the Boy Scouts, apple pie, and a Tim Tebow speaking engagement (that will be $30,000, thanks), but at the end of the day, it's just another way to occupy your leisure time--you know, like composing showtunes, masturbation, or watching reality TV.  As long as you are consuming something, you contribute to a Keynesian multiplier

Now, fire up that plasma TV and drink something that has caffeine or alcohol (preferably both)--two substances the NFL hasn't banned.