Inside the Lines: What happened to USC success stories?
After considerable struggle last Monday, LenDale White got his arms around his ample torso and pulled at his jersey.
It was the Dee Brown/everyone thing of showing the team name to the opposing fans. Never mind "Titans" is written in about 9-point type on the NFL's most gruesome uniforms.
What struck me was the braggadocio. Because Mr. White is struggling to beat out a horse of a different color who was cut and brought back by the Titans, Chris Brown.
And because he's from USC, which might again by No. 1 in the country but isn't exactly flooding success stories into the NFL during the dynasty of Pete Carroll.
Before the national titles started, Carson Palmer and Troy Polamalu left SC to great NFL success, granted. But have you checked the seasons of all those household names since?
Heisman winners Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush continue to support Vince Young's argument that he should have won the award. Reggie had 7 yards in the aforementioned blowout loss to White and Tennessee, a day after Leinart was relieved by the ghost of Kurt Warner when the chips were down for Arizona at Baltimore.
Throw in Mike Williams and Dwayne Jarrett, please, because no one is throwing to these former Trojan receivers.
Williams, a bust in Detroit to the tune of being deactivated half the time, has two catches in three games for Oakland. They use a sundial to time him in the 40.
Jarrett, supposed to replace a Trojan of yore, Meshawn Johnson, opposite Steve Smith in Carolina, has yet to don a pad. He's been a healthy scratch thrice in as many weeks.
The new Steve Smith, the USC one, has a handful of grabs for the Giants.
But he joined fellow rookie Jarrett in civvies last week thanks to an injured shoulder.
White and Bush have a whopping 260 yards on 79 carries between them.
That's 3.3 a pop and some 43 a week per guy, or about 10 more on the ground than Vince Young offers on any given Sunday.
Don't look for linemen, either. Winston Justice has a cool name but no starts as a backup Eagle. Deuce Lutui starts in front of Leinart and his 62 passer rating, but making the Cardinals' offensive line doesn't really count as starting in the NFL.
Where have you gone, Anthony Munoz, Marcus Allen and Lynn Swann?
Jets -31/2 at BILLS: You could call this Marv Levy's fault -- if he's responsible for the hosts' dozen broken arms. Whatever, the jolly, little Hall of Famer deserves better. NEW YORK.
CHARGERS -111/2 vs. Chiefs: Grandmama and LT face off in an effort to make the paper. Right now, Cedric Benson is listed (deep) among lead leaders, but these two are schlupping at 40 yards a week. That's USC territory. SAN DIEGO.
Like 'em, but I'm scared
PANTHERS -3 vs. Buccaneers: Far from his biggest fan, I still prefer a Cadillac over a used Carr. TAMPA.
DOLPHINS -4 vs. Raiders: Great game! In the '70s. Both still think they're there, with the only two remaining baseball diamonds on their NFL fields. Also the only two teams still showing any love for Daunte Culpepper, albeit fleeting and temporary in both cases. MIAMI.
COWBOYS -13 vs. Rams: Steven L. Jackson and his 3.5 yards a carry will sit this one out. That leaves Brian Leonard for the Lambs. He came between Levi Cobb and Efrem Winters for Lou Henson's Illini and was 6-foot-10, so I'm thinking he'll be pretty easy for the Cowboys to tackle. DALLAS.
Steelers -6 at CARDINALS: The franchise that epitomizes how to do things in the NFL vs. the one that epitomizes how not to. Ah, but the Coach du Jour in Tempe brought a little of that Iron City toughness to the desert, so we'll go with The Original Whisenhunt. ARIZONA.
Seahawks -2 at 49ERS: Shaun "it's only a flesh wound" Alexander plays with a broken hand one year after running on a broken foot. He'll still have better hands than deposed teammate Darrell Jackson, now the Niners' primary wide dropper. Still, Seattle doesn't win away. SAN FRANCISCO.
I'll know more Monday
Packers -11/2 at VIKINGS: A one-week derailment of the Brett Favre is 30 Again Express. MINNESOTA.
Ravens -4 at BROWNS: Could be 6-3. Could be 63-60. CLEVELAND.
Texans -3 at FALCONS: Seeing Matt Schaub quarterback the other team should give the Falcons' owner a Blank look. But the unabashed underdog hoard I am, I'm going to write Atlanta until it's correct. ATLANTA.
I hate these games
Bears -3 at LIONS: Battle of clubs who took on the NFC East last week and lost by a combined 59. Turns out Rex will start this one after all. At cornerback. DETROIT.
Eagles -3 at GIANTS: So glad to get these Giants on national TV, what with having seen only three of their previous three games in Peoria. They're terrible, but if they have the ball last, they'll win. NEW YORK.
Patriots -7 at BENGALS: I realize how great Brady, Moss and the NFL Underground Films crew are. It just seems like Cincy gets worked up for these prime-time affairs. CINCINNATI.
COLTS -91/2 vs. Broncos: Take the Colts as favorites and you get back-doored, as last week in Houston. Take the points against them and they'll put a 28-0 second half on your head. DENVER.
Last week: 7-7-2
Bill Liesse is sports editor of the Journal Star. Write to him at 1 News Plaza,Peoria,IL61643, call (309) 686-3213 or e-mail email@example.com.