After the Patriots’ and their surly commander in chief’s hilariously evasive Tony Snow routine earlier this week on the subject of Rodney Harrison, it was hard — for me, at least — not to think of the uniquely formulaic manner of (not) sharing information that’s so prevalent in political speech at the moment. All the Pats’ on-message speech and “let’s get back to the issues” faux-sanctimony was as stagy and false as anything on Dan Bartlett’s personal highlight reel.
And now we can add the Raiders’ Lane Kiffin — currently keeping secret the results of a couple of position battles — to the list of coaches who deal with their game plans and personnel decisions as if they were matters of national security. To be sure, there are some people who think of the NFL and national security as having much in common, but those people probably also get teary during the part in that Coors’ Banquet Beer commercial when Sam Elliot talks about how people say Coors brewers are “set in our ways” and then turns it around by saying that they take it as a compliment. Anyway, it’s nice to see that Jerry Porter (above) sees the comedy in keeping one of the most un-vital decisions of Week One an eyes-only secret. From the AP, via the San Francisco Chronicle:
Coach Lane Kiffin said Wednesday he will keep the Detroit Lions guessing whether Josh McCown or Daunte Culpepper will start in the opener Sunday.
“It’s simply a matter of always trying to gain a competitive advantage,” Kiffin said.
Kiffin said he told the quarterbacks who won the job on Tuesday and that the rest of the team found out during practice Wednesday. Like many NFL teams, the Raiders close most of practice to the media, leaving it up to his players to keep the big secret.
“JaMarcus,” receiver Jerry Porter said when asked who would start, referring to No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell, who is holding out.
Porter later threw out names of various former Raiders quarterbacks, ranging from Vince Evans to Donald Hollis to Jeff George, but wouldn’t give up the real answer.
“He’s not being secretive with us,” Porter said. “He’s just not telling you. It’s a different situation. In the past, you guys have known who the starter is from Day 1, no competition, no anything.”
But this year the job was wide open from the start of training camp. McCown and Andrew Walter entered as the two players competing for the job, but the Raiders signed Culpepper a week into camp when it became clear Russell wouldn’t sign anytime soon.
The three shared time fairly equally for the first three exhibition games, before Kiffin announced the competition had been narrowed down to McCown and Culpepper. Those two got the bulk of the playing time in the final exhibition game, with neither standing out enough to win the job.
Kiffin hinted Tuesday he might reveal his decision the following day, but has decided to keep the secret to force the Lions to prepare for two possible starters.
I don’t know nearly enough about football to understand how a coach would differently prepare a defense for Josh McCown than Daunte Culpepper. Fewer high-fiving drills? More? Props to Jerry Porter for the Donald Hollas reference (AP copy editors: show some respect and spell the name right!), but does that mean Bobby Hoying is out of the running?