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Saturday, April 29, 2006

"No. I'm Not Disappointed" - Matt Leinart, Picked 10th By the Arizona Cardinals, Meets The Press - Video

(Photo credit: Bill Chachkes, NL Scouting)

After a whirlwind five months which saw his life literally played out on the Internet, firing his agent, parties large and small (like the nice one at Gustavino's on Thursday), and numerous reports that he would either be picked by the Tennesee Titans or slide down as many as 16 picks, USC's two-time national champion quarteback Matt Leinart was picked by The Arizona Cardinals as the 10th selection in the first round of the NFL Draft.

A crowded Radio City Music Hall Interview Room was the result of a mad rush to come down and hear what Leinart had to say. Frankly, I know Matt was just happy to get it all over with. He goes to a team with a proven veteran he can learn from in Kurt Warner, a good set of running backs, Ex-Colt Edgerrin James and J.J. Arrington from Cal, a respected head coach in Dennis Green (who calls him God-sent) and a brand new, state of the art stadium. Plus, he's as close to the West Coast and home as he can possibly be without being in LA.

Nice for him.

For some reaon the East Coast media loves to hit Matt on this "Hollywood Image" thing, a line of questioning that Leinart's clearly tired of: "If teams passed on me for that reason, that's their problem, not mine. I don't think there's a Hollywood Image. "

As my friend, NL Scouting's Bill Chackles put it: "I'm only slightly surprised that Matt fell as far as he did, but it was more because of the other deals going on around the top of the round then because of Questions about Matt's "Lifestyle". Still, I remarked to his Personal Coach, Steve Clarkson, "better 10th then 30th, Right?" his answer, "Thats Right."

(Well, I think the problem comes with his association with Hollywood Agency CAA, Jessica Simpson, and others. If it's part of his life, it's part of his life; he's get used to being in that "place" as long as the money's right.)

My friend ESPN's Darren Rovell asked if anyone aimed the "Do you realize how much money you lost by going 10th?" question. The answer is no -- no one other than you, DR. In fact, only about eight questions were asked. A small number considering the person. But then more were asked in the back interview room, including two by me.

One of them stemmed from a concern I had that he -- like the other draftees -- may be experiencing a loss of friends because of their newly developed celebrity status; in other words, he didn't know who his friends were. Matt took that question and ran with it, as you'll see on the video at www.nflbusinessblog.com. "Yeah, it's like you've got more hangers on and people you can't trust. It's been an experience, that's for sure."

He sounded like a person who'd been through the mill. It's only going to get more intense especially if he plays well. I mean just consider the now famous photo of him with the girls and the bottle of wine. You think they were his best friends? Heck no.

Matt's just happy to get on with it. "All the questions that teams had, I answered when I met them. As far as the (lack of) arm strength, I answered that. As far as the lifestyle I had, I answered that. As far as them getting to know me as a person, I think I answered every question I could."

It's clear he's tired. He's ready for some football.

Here's the video of the press conference held today.

An Eventful First Round Ends - Raiders and Niners Get Solid Picks - Niners Score Best First Round

The first round of the NFL Draft came and went but not without drama. There was the Reggie Bush "none-selection" by the Houston Texans, and USC QB Matt Leinart's fall to the Arizona Cardinals, leaving Texas QB the first quarterback taken, and by the Tennessee Titans.

Me? I've been taking a lot of video and talking to a lot of people. When you're one person it's hard to take video, talk to people, come back, blog in fear of missing a press conference, and then download the video -- which calls for waiting. To combat this, I decided to take all of the videos first, then download and edit them all at the same. I wish I Movie worked faster, but I'm glad I have it nonetheless.

The best drafts? Well, I'm going to sound like a homer but the 49ers had the best draft thus far. They took two solid consesus first round impact players: Maryland TE Vernon Davis and DL Mario Williams teammate Manny Lawson, outside linebacker. In the case of Lawson, his stock has moved up considerably. Bil Chackes of NL Scouting said "Lawson was rated as high as a low first round selection in some circles. A quality player but somewhat rough around the edges."

Indianapolis got the running back they needed to replace Edgerrin James, LSU's Joseph Aidi. The Raiders took the best defensive back in the draft, Texas' Michael Huff and to fill a hole created by the departed Charles Woodson.

But the 49ers got the better first round over the Raiders, because one can't argue the fantastic talent of Vernon Davis and Manny Lawson was ranked as high as the seventh best player on some reports floating around here. Davis is excited to play in an offense developed by Norv Turner, the 49ers new offensive coordinator, stating that Norv, "has a great history of knowing what to do with tight ends."

But one who runs as fast as Michael Vick? Well that's something special.

Oh, did I tell you that Reggie Bush's press conference was short and he came off -- to some -- as surly? Well, yes he did. He was clearly upset over not being picked number one, but as Lloyd Vance of "Big Play Radio" said, "He brought it on himself."

Steelers Tagged For Giving Up Too Many Draft Picks For Ohio State's Fleet Santonio Moss

There's a lot of carpping about the Pittsburgh Steelers giving up a first round, second round, and thrid round pick for Ohio State's Santonio Moss. He was one of the stars of the draft, but I can't find anyone around here who thinks he's worth that much in draft picks. No one. Reporters and fans and draftniks around here can't believe it.

Meanwhile, ESPN shows LenDale White's draft party.

..He's still waiting.

Bob McNair Clears The Air - Bush "No Pick" Not Related To Budget

I'm writing this behind the din of New York Giants fans. It's now the 24th pick and the giants are on the clock. The jets fans have had their day. Now, it's the Giants turn. But I've got so much to write...Here's Bob McNair

Once the Houston Texans personable owner Bob McNair took the podium in place of his organization's newest employee (not counting unknown front office moves), he immediately hit with the obvious set of Reggie Bush related questions.

Mr. McNair, as I call him, realizes that it's going to be hard to avoid some ""PR hit as far as fan reaction" as one person put it. "I think that's going to be a temporary situation. I'ts up to us to go out and win football games. We win football games, they are going to say 'you made the right decision." If we don't win football games, they say 'you're stupid.' anyways, so what difference does that make?

McNair slammed down the perspective of people like me, who immediately thought Bush's rejection by the Texans was a because he wasn't "signable." "They are mistaken because we could have signed either one. We made the same offer to both of them.

Giants trade 25th pick to Steelers. Giant's fans are going nuts. Steelets take WR Santonio Holmes from Ohio State. Pittsburgh gave the Steelets their first round, third round, and forth round pick for ...as my Row mate put it, "One person."

While McNair wants a player that will be in camp, he says to me that it wasn't the reason Bush wasn't selected: "No, I don't think Reggie would have held out. I think we were close enough in the discussions with his agent in terms of the money and everything that we would have been able to reach an agreement. We felt like that Reggie Bush would have a tremendous impact on our offense and would be very exciting. But that Mario Williams could have the same impact on defense."

Chicago traded it's 26th pick to Buffalo, which is now on the clock. Chicago gets second round and third round selection.

Houston Texans' Mario Williams Meets The Press

The suspense of whom the Houston Texans would pick first in the first round removed, the NFL and the Texans introduced Mario "Let's Go" Williams to the media in a jammed packed press conference in the lower level of Radio City Music Hall. Between his family members, friends, press, NFL people, and assorted-who-knows-what with a badge, it was crazy and made it a little hard to hear.

But that didn't stop me. It certainly didn't phase the very happy new defensive lineman for the Houston Texans.

"I'm speechless," said the 6'7" inch clean cut player thought by some -- including himself -- to be the next Julious Peppers, a standouit defensive lineman who's made a name for himself with the Carolina Panthers. "It's hard to explain. It's a dream come true (to be selected as the first pick in the draft) It's a dream I always had and now to be a part of it especially with the Texans."

When asked at what point he knew he was going to be the number one pick, Williams informed "You know, I really found out last night. During the day, yesterday, I got a call from my agent and he was just like, you know, we need to talk and things like that. He finally told me 'You're going to be the guy."

Williams is friends with the person everyone thought was gong to be the number one pick, Reggie Bush. "We're still god friends and that's just how it goes. Can't really do anything about it and I'm not going to try and rub it in anybody's face. I don't have an ego. I'm just so proud to be a Texan."

After Williams was done, he moved away from the podium and walked -- with a crowd of media followers -- down to the photo interview room.

Oh, I forgot to mention that because Mario Williams was the number one pick Campbells will donate 1,000 cans of Campbells Chunk Soup to the schools of Houston.

I'm not kidding.

While Williams was talking in the back, Texans owner Bob McNair took his place at the podium. That talk's next.

Matt Leinart's Gets Booed

In what's certain -- well, heck, I could see it on his face -- to get to his skin, USC quarterback Matt Leinart was booed --- BOOED -- by the fans here. Since we've now got more Jets fans in the house than Steelers fans it tells you they don't want the Jets to take him. Wild. It was very loud, too.

They cheered for Texas QB Vince Young when he was introduced.

I was just informed that the Green Bayn Packers are trying to switch picks with the NY Jets.

Stay tuned.

2006 NFL Draft Post Three - Massive Crowd

I'm about to go back up to the podium, but it's a madhouse here. I interviewed Sports Illustrated's Paul Zimmerman, which I'll post in a moment, and took a basic walk around the hall as the crowd filled. It's a crazy mix of fans and media and NFL people.

More soon!

2006 NFL Draft Day - Post One - Arriving At Radio City Music Hall

I got a cab and arrived at Radio City Music Hall as 9:32 AM EST. Once I arrived I met with a little problem in that my name and company name was filed in a place no one could find -- at first.

Then NFL VP of Media Relations Leslie Hammond wooshed by to take care of my relatively small issue with no time wasted. I got my badge and went in.

Radio City Music Hall is something to see. For those who visit the Grand Lake Theater, it's like it in design but about three times larger. To me it's a smaller space than Javitz last year and the fact that both ESPN and the NFL Network are sharing this space makes it all the smaller.

I'm sitting in row RR and next to Fumi Watanabe who's covering the Draft for Japanese Media and lives in New York. He's got a great love for snack chips and eats them like they're going out of style.

Behind us and to the right is the ESPN "studio" platform, where Mel Kiper, Michael Irvin, Susie Kolber, and Tom Jackson just did a segment. To my left and again behind me is the NFL Network platform, where Mike Mayock, Rich Eisen, and two other people I can't yet see from this angle are doing a report.

Around me and them are seats and TONS of media people and NFL sponsors, and the fans haven't even shown up yet. Opps, I stand corrected. They're filing in. They've got various jerseys ..But Steelers fans are in force here, just as they were at Super Bowl XL.

Once this place is full up, it's going to be a mad house.

For me this is like coming home. There's my good friend Bill Chackes who's attended every NFL Draft going back 30 years or so. There's Todd Barnes, who's now an NFL architect and helped me with Oakland's Super Bowl Bid. Then, there are people like ESPN's Mike Golic, who promised me that he's going to throw cookies at the crowd on the second day to get them reved-up. Funny guy.

But the highlight was meeting Jerry Davis, who represents the Oakland Raiders at their "Draft Table" He's been with the Raiders in this role for over 30 years. Frankly, I didn't know Mr. Davis was -- Raider Owner Al Davis' brother!


I didn't realize this until I asked him "So how did you get to have this wonderful role?" Mr. Davis answer was "Well, I'm Al Davis' brother." And with that information, I froze. He got a chuckle out of that.

We talked about Oakland and how the city can do so much better than it has; that was about it. He was looking for help with a phone problem at the time. He's a nice person. Very much like his brother in style.

Oh, all of this is on video, too

What Jerry Davis does is take the phone call from Raiders Headquarters of what their pick's going to be and gives that to an NFL "runner." The runner then takes it to the head table just next to the main podium where the Commissioner reads the name of the team picks. It's that simple.

Well, I'm off to locate the Interview room right now.

The crowd is massing - fast. ESPN's Chris Berman is walked past as well.

There's a number of media stars here, so many you need a scorecard to keep track. Geez.

I'll be back!

Video: Texans Draft Mario Williams Over Reggie Bush / Owner Bob McNair Gives Clue In Discussing "Signability"

SBS NFL Business Blog is partnered with The Oakland Tribune for the NFL Draft. Visit their site at http://www.insidebayarea.com/raiders

"We need another running back. Reggie Bush is another running back. He's also a receiver....But then McNair stressed that the player -- whomever is selected as theiir first pick, must be "signable." That is the organization's not wondering if their player's going to hold out of training camp after a contract dispute.

That is what Houston Texans owner Bob McNair said while we interviewed him at the NFL's Luncheon at Chelsea Piers on Thursday before the NFL Draft. (The video is at www.nflbusinessblog.com) Last night, the Texans signed North Carolina State Defensive Lineman Mario Williams to a six-year $54 million contract. He will be introduced at the 2006 NFL Draft today, and I will be there.

To put this in perspective, recent reports had Reggie Bush's agent Joe Siegel asking for a signing bonus as high as $30 million.

That's well over half of Mario Williams new contract, and implies that Bush's total asking price could top $70 million.

The Texans may be trying to build a winner, but they're also cost concious in a different way. McNair says that money "Is not an issue" but then explained to me that "we do have a budget" for the Draft. He also hinted that they have expectations of what a kind of player should cost.

My educated guess is that McNair and Casserly determined that signing Bush would require spending "QB - Level" money. So, they went with the more affordable and theoretically "ready to play" Williams. (Both are ready to play, but Bush would be more likely to hold out in a contract dispute.)

It also appears that McNair and Casserly believe Williams will be enough of an impact player at his position to contribute to the development of a championship defense. At least that's what their press clips say.

Meanwhile, this is an obvious blow to the ego and pocket book of Team Reggie Bush. Even deeper still, it may open a rift between Bush and his agent because just last week Bush was recorded as saying that he didn't want a $30 million signing bonus. But it's apparent his agent talked him out of this desire for less money, and with disasterous results for the young man considered the number one pick for so long in the hype building up to this draft.

The Texans have done considerable damage to Team Bush in another way. By signing William for less and making him the number one pick Team Bush can no longer ask for quarterback - level money. They have to settle for less. The question is will they? Now, the New Orleans Saints are "on the clock" and may select Bush. If they skip him, I'll be it's for reasons concerning Team Bush's asking price.

Nw, it's 8:01 Saturday morning. I've gotten little sleep working with this new video strategy and using "You Tube" to upload the video, but it's time well-spent. I'm so excited to get over to Radio City Music Hall. My plan is to leave here by 9 AM. Gotta get dressed.

In closing, here's Bob McNair talking to me and another conventional media guy. (I'm unconventional.)

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