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A gumbo of Saints, Condi Rice and long 3-pointers!

by J.W. Miller on 11/19/18

We could go on and on about the Saints this week, about how they are the hottest team in the league and how they scored 99 points the past two weeks and how QB Drew Brees is having his best season, one that could not possibly deny him his first MVP award. 

It’s hard not to be giddy over the Saints’ season, which on Sunday included the worst beatdown of a defending Super Bowl champion in history. They cake-walked to a 48-7 win over the Eagles, who are going through one of those “when will it stop?” injury plagues. Key starters are dropping like flies, including three more players during the game. Speaking of injuries, I wish Coach Sean Payton would think about giving Brees some relief during games that are basically decided by halftime. 

Announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman even mentioned at the midway point of the third quarter that Payton should be thinking about it, but backup Teddy Bridgewater didn’t come in until about 5 minutes to go in the game. Frankly, I think it would make sense to give Bridgewater some time calling real plays if there is any desire to have him stay interested enough to stick around. An obstacle is the old head coaching paranoia that says the other team is ready to mount a rally for the ages, so you can't let up. 

Okay, but think about this frightening “what if:” the second worst thing that could possibly happen to the Saints over the last six games is for Brees to go down with an injury. You want to know what's worse than that? The very worst thing that could happen is for Brees to get hurt in the fourth quarter of a game that is well under control. 

Let’s shift gears for a minute and consider some whimsical NFL news that popped up in the past week. Do you really believe the Cleveland Browns are considering former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for the vacant head coaching position? Huh? This sounds like something former owner Art Modell, cocktail in hand, would cook up just to get everybody talking about the Browns. Indeed, sources have reported that the idea came from owner Jimmy Haslam, a donor to Republican campaigns who knows Rice. GM John Dorsey tried to put some distance between fact and fiction. He issued a statement saying the Browns are putting together a list of potential candidates but that Rice “has not been discussed.” 

But think about who we are talking about. The Browns haven’t been to the playoffs since Rice was in the Bush administration, and they have made worse decisions since then. Since 2001, their first-round draft choices have included quarterbacks Johnny Manziel, Brady Quinn, Brandon Wheeden and Tim Couch; defensive linemen Courtney Brown and Gerard Warren; running backs Trent Richardson and William Green; and a host of other forgettables. And most of those players were picked at the top of the draft when you would presume the better players congregate. 

But this is the Browns! At least Rice has football connections, of a sort. It was a poorly kept secret among NFL insiders that Rice and former WR Gene Washington were longtime companions. Washington spent many years on Paul Tagliabue’s staff, so Condi could have picked up something by osmosis from her fellow Alabama native. And she was added to the inaugural College Football Playoff selection in October, 2013, for whatever reasons. 

But if you really want to have fun with this one, you can let your imagination run wild. If any changes come to the Saints, do you think stripper Chris Owens would make a dandy play-caller? You would probably see a lot of naked bootlegs! Ya think? 

I’ll end this little romp with a name you need to remember: Bubba Parham. He plays basketball for the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), and he could be the next Steph Curry if VMI’s game Sunday evening at Kentucky is an indication. Parham, a 5-11 sophomore, made 10 three-point shots, many of them from 30 feet and beyond in a 92-82 loss. I watched on the SEC Network, and he was dazzling! 

Parham would dribble to the three-point line until a defender picked him up, then he would take a step back and let it fly. His shots could have brought rain, arcing high into the air before coming down in the center of the basket. Kentucky tried to double-team him when he crossed the center line to no effect. Parham would back out and suddenly go up with a quick release, one shot made while he was falling backwards. Parham's play drew a mix of awe, fear and respect from UK fans who don’t mind a little sideshow as long as their Cats win the game. 

With the NBA game evolving into a three-point shooting match, scouts are encouraging college players to developing those skills. Although you may not have heard about Bubba Parham before today, you might keep an eye on him. Your favorite NBA scout is, for sure.     

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