The 2002 NFL draft did not have the same glamour as past drafts for numerous reasons. For starters there was absolutely no mystery as to who the first pick would be since the expansion Houston Texans had announced that they had signed Fresno State QB David Carr four days before the draft was held at Madison Square Garden. Secondly the draft’s other name passer, Oregon’s Joey Harrington, opted to eschew the excitement of New York and stayed home in Portland.
Judging by his performance in front of the media on draft day it is obvious that David Carr has already been studying his NFL play book. When I asked him if he wished that he could have had the right to negotiate with every single team in the NFL instead of the team which selected him, Carr incredulously said, “I just wanted to play for the Texans. I didn’t care if they had selected me last.” Right.
Offensive tackle is not normally considered a glamorous position but two of the first seven picks were for that position. Texas’s Mike Williams and Miami’s Bryant McKinnie are two of the biggest football players I have ever seen and they both possess razor-sharp wit. Williams was selected by the Buffalo Bills while McKinnie was taken by the Minnesota Vikings. Williams surely did not make the PETA folks happy by wearing his Size 16 gray ostrich cowboy boots which quickly became a topic of conversation with the numerous TV crews which interviewed him.
The New York Yankees are in the midst of playing their 100th season so it is not surprising that there are a pair of books to mark this milestone. “Bombers” (Crown Publishers), written by Forest Hills resident Richard Lally, is an oral history of the Yankees. Lally has collected quotes from contemporaries of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig such as Phil Cavaretta, Eldon Auker and Eddie Joost to current Bronx stars as Derek Jeter and Roger Clemens. “Pennants & Pinstripes” (Viking), authored by veteran baseball scribe Ray Robinson, is a more studious tome about the most famous sports team in history and it features numerous rare photos.
The Mets may not have the lore the Yankees have but their 40th anniversary has produced a pair of books as well. Peter Golenbock’s “Amazin’” (St. Martin’s Press) nicely recaps each season of the Mets’ existence and contains insightful quotes from Casey Stengel favorite Rod Kanehl, early Mets home run hero Ron Swoboda, scrappy second baseman Wally Backman and current ace pitcher Al Leiter.
Despite being over 600 pages “Amazin’” is a fast read. For those who want a more condensed version of the ups and downs of the baseball team from Flushing you can pick up the paperback, “Ya Gotta Believe” (Griffin Books) by Michael Lichtenstein. I hope that he is planning on forking over some royalties to Tug McGraw since he used the relief pitcher’s famous line about keeping the faith during a topsy-turvy 1973 season as his book’s title.
South African golfer Retief Goosen will be defending his U.S. Open title at Bethpage next month. Goosen has suddenly emerged as Tiger Woods’ chief rival as he placed second to him in the just concluded Masters Tournament. When asked how he felt to be runner-up to Woods in Augusta, Goosen said, “ I know that he (Woods) got the famous green jacket for winning but I was hoping that I would at least get a pair of green pants for my efforts.”
Congratulations to Astoria native Bill Gallo on marking two milestones: his 80th birthday and his 60th anniversary working as a sports cartoonist for the Daily News.