Greetings from the NFL's quiet period. With offseason workouts over and training camp still more than a month away, this is the time of year when players and coaches can take a well-deserved break. That means there's not going to be a lot of news happening, and it also means I've got plenty of time to answer questions from you, the fans. In fact, since this week brought a lot of good questions, including one particular question on which I spent way too much time, we're going to make this a two-part mailbag, with more answers published Friday. As always, thanks to everyone who asked questions this week, and apologies if I wasn't able to get to yours this time around.
@michaelpherman asks me to put together a football team of movie/TV characters with the important caveat that they can't be from football movies/TV shows.
I should probably be embarrassed by how much of my day I spent on this, but again, offseason.
Anyway, since Michael asked for a coach and GM as well, and since I can't use football show/movie coaches (I'd take Eric Taylor from "Friday Night Lights" if I could), I'll make "Braveheart" hero William Wallace my head coach. If he can inspire Scotland to fight for its freedom against overwhelming odds, surely he can inspire a football team, right? For GM, give me Will Hunting. Not sure he knows football or not, but he's a genius, so I'm sure he's smart enough to surround himself with the right people.
As for players, we're not going to go with full starting lineups because, well, I couldn't come up with good answers at every position. Entertainment is full of characters who were former quarterbacks, but not too many who played defensive tackle or offensive guard. And one quick rule I added, no super heroes. Obviously the Flash, Super Man, the Incredible Hulk, etc. would dominate, but where's the fun in that?
Quarterback: Johnny Utah, "Point Break"
As Bodhi explains to his surfer buddies, Utah was an All-Conference quarterback at Ohio State leading the Buckeyes to a Rose Bowl win over USC. Unfortunately he suffered a career-ending knee injury in the fourth quarter of that game, derailing a potential pro career. As an added bonus, his character's name also inspired a delicious pale ale from Georgetown Brewing Company.
There's plenty of options for depth on our team behind Utah, ranging from Uncle Rico in "Napoleon Dynamite," who can throw it over them mountains, to A.C. Slater, the "Saved By The Bell" super-jock who in Season 1 helped Bayside end a 23-year losing streak to Valley, and in Season 4 led a comeback from down 21-0, again over Valley, to win the city championship after he and several other players missed the first half making up a test they had skipped. (Like I said, I spent way too much time on this question.)
Matt Tollman is a quarterback at the Pro Bowl in "Blue Crush," so I suppose he'd be a good choice too. Randall "Pink" Floyd from "Dazed and Confused" was also considered, but his passion for the game seems lacking.
Running Back: Ricky Baker, "Boyz n the Hood," & Al Bundy, "Married… With Children"
Baker was a star running back at Crenshaw High School who was being recruited by USC before his life was tragically cut short.
Bundy, meanwhile, has a field named after him and, as he said over and over again in the show, once scored four touchdowns in one game. I couldn't find any specific mention of his position in my research, but several Youtube clips showed him wearing 33, a common running back number. As an added bonus, Ed O'Neill, the actor who played Bundy, was a defensive linemen at Youngstown State who signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent. He didn't make the team, but that's still a solid football background for our fake team.
Receiver: Wooderson, "Dazed and Confused" & Bobby Brady, "The Brady Bunch"
We don't know for sure what position Wooderson played (at least I couldn't find it), but in a scene late in the movie where he and others are hanging out on the football field, he askes Floyd for the car keys and says "hit me on a slant" before running to catch the keys. Later when the cops show up to break up the fun and one officer says, "Wooderson, reliving your old glories on the football field?" And he responds, "You shouldn't still be mad because I got all-district and you didn't." Seeing as this movie takes place in Texas, All-District means he would be a heck of a football player, and besides, he could provide leadership in the locker room with speeches like the one he gave Floyd, saying, "You gotta do what Randall Pink Floyd wants to do, man. Let me tell you this, the older you do get, the more rules they're going to try to get you to follow. You've just got to keep livin' man, L-I-V-I-N."
Brady, meanwhile, once caught a pass from Joe Namath. I'm assuming for the sake of our team that that encounter inspired him to go onto great things as a receiver.
Tight End: LeBron James, "Trainwreck," "Space Jam 2" and other roles
OK, so I'm cheating a bit here, but hear me out. James has played fictionalized versions of himself on a few occasions—he was surprisingly funny in "Trainwreck"—and the real James was a star receiver in high school before focusing only on hoops. With the added bulk he has put on in the NBA and his rare athleticism, he could be a dominant tight end.
Offensive Line: Cameron Tucker, "Modern Family," Leslie, "Blue Crush," O'Bannion, "Dazed and Confused"
As I mentioned earlier, it's tough to fill out the lines, but I found a few. In one episode of "Modern Family," Tucker mentions that he was a starting offensive lineman at the University of Illinois. And again, "Blue Crush" takes place in Hawaii during the Pro Bowl, so if Leslie is there, he's presumably pretty good. O'Bannion, one of Ben Affleck's early roles, is a pretty big jerk in "Dazed and Confused," but as Floyd puts it, "he's not a bad guy to have on your side blocking for you."
Defensive line: Zachary "Sack" Lodge, "Wedding Crashers," Philip Banks, "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"
Anyone who brings the type of intensity Lodge brings to a touch football game is welcome on my team. He also showed the versatility to drop into coverage, which is a plus. I don't know that Uncle Phil has any football background, but he would provide excellent leadership, and he showed the strength to repeatedly throw Jazz out the door of his house, which will come in handy in the trenches.
Linebacker: Charles Jefferson, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," Terry Jeffords, "Brooklyn 99"
Just look at the carnage Jefferson, played by a young Forest Whitaker, inflicts on Lincoln when he thinks they're responsible for trashing his car.
Jeffords, played by former NFL defensive end and linebacker Terry Crews, is a former Syracuse linebacker in "Brooklyn 99," so both the character and the actor have legitimate football chops.
Cornerback: Willie Mays Hayes, "Major League"
Yes, this one's a reach, but I couldn't find any cornerbacks from a non-football movie to put here. With his speed, Hayes could run with any receiver, and as an added bonus, Wesley Snipes did play a cornerback, Trumaine, in the movie "Wildcats."
Safety: Owen Grady, "Jurassic Park" franchise
There are no references to football in these movies that I know off, but we're going with Grady because A. Chris Pratt is a big Seahawks fan so we want him on our team, B. He tangles with dinosaurs so I think he could make some plays in the middle of the field, and C. Pratt was a very good wrestler at Lake Stevens High School, so we know there's athletic ability there.
Return Specialist: Forrest Gump, "Forrest Gump"
Gump was an All-American at Alabama, enough said.
Kicker: Ray Finkle, "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective"
Yes, things eventually went south for Finkle/Einhorn (we're past needing spoilers for this, yes?), but before Dan Marino failed to get the laces out, Finkle was an NFL kicker, so he must have had some talent.
@Jazzaloha1 asks, "What are the good reasons to believe we could have the best special teams in the league?"
A: The Seahawks take special teams play very seriously, and as special teams coordinator Brian Schneider explained earlier this month, they were very good in that phase of the game for a good stretch during the middle of the season, but failed to finish strong.
"Really good in the middle," Schneider said when asked to assess Seattle's 2018 special teams performance. "We started a little bit slower, then we had about eight games there where I think we were as good as anyone in the NFL. We were really helping our team with field position. What I always go back to when you watch us play on tape, the effort that was there was outstanding, phenomenal. Towards the end we had some issues, and it kind of showed up for different reasons. That's our whole mindset going in: to finish. Because right there about eight games, we were as good as we've been since I've been here, and we just need to continue to finish."
As for why they could be very good there this year, for starters, that mid-season stretch showed the talent is there, and the Seahawks brought in several rookies who they feel can make a difference in that area. The Seahawks also bring back first-team All-Pro and Pro-Bowl punter Michael Dickson and signed Pro-Bowl kicker Jason Myers. If those two can play at a level similar to or better than they showed last year, and if the rookies can indeed add to that group, that's a great place to start on special teams.
@flasdash007 asks, "How's the post-Doug Baldwin receiving corps look?"
A: The word I'd use to describe this year's group is intriguing. With Baldwin gone, we know Tyler Lockett will be the No. 1 receiver heading into the season, but beyond that pretty much everything else from starting jobs to spots on the 53-man roster are pretty wide open. David Moore, who according to Pete Carroll has "made a big jump" this year, and Jaron Brown have the most experience of the group and as of now would seem to be contenders for significant roles, but with three rookies in the draft class, including second-round pick DK Metcalf, there figures to be some good competition across the board. If the Seahawks want to use Lockett more outside and not in the slot, then Keenan Reynolds will have a real shot to make his mark in the slot role.
@JLoing asks, "What's a guy got to do to get a Russell Wilson jersey that's half Seahawks and half Yankees?"
A: Step 1: Buy a Russell Wilson Seahawks jersey.
Step 2: Buy a blank Yankees jersey.
Step 3: Buy a sturdy pair of scissors and a sewing kit.
Step 4: … I think you can see where I'm going with this.
Keep an eye out tomorrow for part two of this week's mailbag.
Photos from Day 3 of the Seattle Seahawks' 2019 mandatory minicamp, the final day of the team's offseason workout program held on Thursday, June 13 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.