Off and running: UVa opens camp
Sewell earns positive reviews; Payne absent
By Jay Jenkins / email@example.com | 978-7250
August 7, 2007
One practice is down, leaving 28 to go.
That was essentially the way Al Groh looked at the first practice of training camp Monday night.
“Check it off. It is done,” Virginia’s coach said. “There are certain things that have to be done to move forward.
“If we didn’t practice today then we couldn’t put pads on until Saturday. It counts one, it moves us along and we get some of the installation in, some of the groundwork things.”
The Cavaliers were limited by NCAA regulations in their attire during the evening session, one that lasted just over two hours. A helmet-only practice will be held this morning, as well.
“We will have shoulder pads on Wednesday and Thursday,” Groh said. “Friday we will have everything on for the first time. That will coincide - well, kind of - with when the players are finished with their academic responsibilities.
“And then we really get into the flow and the rhythm of what a real training camp is.”
The Cavaliers, hoping to improve on their 5-7 record a year ago, hit the field with their quarterback in uniform and with another player noticeably missing.
Quarterback Jameel Sewell worked with the first team and appeared to look good from the accounts given by teammates. Sewell himself dodged reporters after the practice.
“I am not a doctor or anything like that,” said Virginia offensive lineman Branden Albert, “but from what I have seen [Sewell] is throwing the ball pretty good.”
Maurice Covington, one of the team’s wideouts, agreed.
“Jameel looked pretty good,” he said. “He is coming back from that wrist surgery but he looked pretty good. He is going to have to get his arm back and his velocity on his ball, but he is doing pretty good.
“He threw me some pretty good balls.”
However, the biggest compliments for Sewell came from the signal-caller that could be his heir apparent.
“Jameel did awesome,” said quarterback Peter Lalich, a true freshman and prospect. “He hit a lot of deep balls. He moved in the pocket well. He did great.”
The same reports could not be given for running back Keith Payne. The redshirt freshman was not on the field, a practice that is expected to continue until after the current summer school session ends on Thursday.
The players remained positive about Payne’s future, but elected not to elaborate.
“I don’t really want to talk about that,” said defensive end Chris Long. “[Payne] will be back when he is ready to be back. We are just going about our business.”
Long, a senior and team captain, did share one of the biggest positives from the opening session.
“The energy level is pretty high out here and it is our job to kind of harness that and direct it in the right way and I think we did a good job for the most part,” Long said. “There were a few trouble spots out there, but you also saw some steps in the right direction.”
Groh, however, said it was too early to focus on effort given by the team.
“I wasn’t unhappy with it,” he said. “I can’t say under the circumstance, first practice, no pads … it is hard to say that you can reach a particular level of intensity.”
The temperature was just under 90 degrees, but with part of Virginia’s practice coming under the lights at night, Long was more fortunate than his younger brothers.
Earlier Monday when the humidity was even greater, St. Anne’s-Belfield held its first practice. Long’s bothers, Kyle and Howie, Jr., are starters for the Saints.
“My brothers are probably tired, huh?” Chris Long joked. “I don’t feel too bad for them though.
“Coach [John] Blake will take it easy on them.”
Making a first impression
For portions of the first practice, Lalich got the chance to run the first-team offense.
Lalich, who was sporting a No. 7 jersey, flashed a bright smile when describing how nervous he was in his debut.
“It was fun,” he said. “It is a lot faster out there.”
What about the extended look and additional work?
“I think I need the most reps because I am brand new,” Lalich said. “I haven’t really played as much.”
Lalich, who claimed to have seen countless defenses during practice sessions on recruiting trips, also walked away with a greater appreciation for Virginia’s defense.
“The defense is amazing,” Lalich said. “I think they are going to be one of the top in the nation.”
Extra points …
… Wide receiver Andrew Pearman was back in uniform for the first time since he left the program during last year to attend to personal issues. Pearman, who has two years of eligibility remaining, will meet with reporters for the first time on Friday.
… Eleven members of the defense were dressed in an orange jersey, denoting their spots as starters. Cornerback Vic Hall, hoping to replace Marcus Hamilton, the lone starter gone from the unit, joined the expected candidates.
… Virginia punter Ryan Weigand said he was “hot” with his kicks in practice. … Albert said he currently weighs 312 pounds, which was his desired goal at the start of training camp. … Linebacker Jon Copper emerged from the locker room sporting something new after the practice. The junior was wearing a gold wedding band - he was married this summer. … Virginia will hold its first open practice on Friday at 2:20 p.m.
Eight players, eight questions for U.Va.
Prospects for Groh, Cavs this season could hinge on development of group
Tuesday, Aug 07, 2007 - 12:10 AM
By JEFF WHITE
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
CHARLOTTESVILLE -- The University of Virginia football team's
5-7 record disappointed everyone associated with the program in 2006.
U.Va. opened its 2007 training camp last night, and with eight returning starters on offense and 10 on defense, Al Groh's team figures to lift more spirits this season. But whether the Cavaliers will win eight or more games -- as they did in three of Groh's first four seasons as their coach -- or slog through mediocrity for another year may hinge on the performances of several players.
Groh knows what to expect from veterans Chris Long, Jeffrey Fitzgerald, Clint Sintim, Chris Cook, Tom Santi and Branden Albert. More questions surround other team members, including the eight listed below.
If most or all elevate their games, Groh's job will be safe for at least another year, and U.Va. is likely to end its season at an attractive bowl game. If not? That's an alternative Virginia would prefer not to ponder.
Among the Wahoos who'll be under the microscope this season:
Jameel Sewell, So., QB: The former Hermitage High star had surgery on his throwing wrist in December. If Sewell is healthy, he'll bring desperately needed playmaking ability to an offense that ranked among the nation's worst last season.
Will Barker, So., OT: Barker took over as the starter at right tackle last August. Not surprisingly, he struggled for much of the season. At 6-7, 305 pounds, he has great size, and he moves well, but Barker must become more physical.
Cedric Peerman, Jr., TB: U.Va. fans may be eager for the start of the Keith Payne Era, but for now Peerman is atop the depth chart at tailback. He impressed as a redshirt freshman in 2005 but appeared slower and less fluid last season. Peerman looked better during spring practice this year.
Maurice Covington, Jr., WR: Kevin Ogletree, the Cavaliers' top receiver last year, is expected to miss this season with a knee injury. That makes the 6-4, 220-pound Covington, who has 11 career catches, U.Va.'s top returning wide receiver. The Cavs need him to shine.
Chris Gould, Sr., K: Gould was 11 for 19 on field goals last season, and his struggles made U.Va. fans -- and coaches -- long for the days of Connor Hughes. Virginia probably will find itself in at least several close games this season, which will magnify the importance of Gould's kicking.
Ryan Weigand, Sr., P: This former junior college standout handled most of the punting duties late last season after taking over for Gould. Weigand booted 58-yarders against N.C. State and Virginia Tech, but he was notable mostly for his inconsistency, not a desired attribute in a punter.
Nate Lyles, Sr., S: As a true freshman in 2004, Lyles appeared to have all-ACC potential, but he's never come near that mark. Groh demoted Lyles for part of spring practice, a move that had the desired effect. Lyles is a ferocious hitter but must improve his coverage skills.
Vic Hall, So., CB: Mike Brown's season-ending knee injury all but assured Hall, who was a record-setting quarterback at Gretna High, a starting job in the secondary. The second-team corners are redshirt freshmen Mike Parker and Trey Womack, so U.Va. needs Hall to adjust quickly and well to his leading role.
. . .
NOTE: Fans will have several opportunities this month to check out U.Va. practices. Open to the public are these five practices: Friday, 2:20 p.m.; Saturday, 8:35 a.m. and 6:35 p.m.; Aug. 17, 2:20 p.m.; and Aug. 18, 8:35 a.m. Also, Meet the Team Day is Sunday from 3 to 4:15 p.m. at Scott Stadium.
Football Practice is Underway
Cavaliers return 33 lettermen and 18 returning starters
Aug. 6, 2007
CHARLOTTESVILLE - The Virginia football team began preparations for the 2007 season Monday evening with the opening practice at the McCue Center practice fields. Thirty-three lettermen, including 18 returning starters, hit the field in helmet and shorts for the first time.
"Check it off, it's done," Groh said of the first practice. "There are certain things that have to be done in the first practice. Now we can get to pads and it moves us all along. We were able to get some installation done. It's like writing a very rough draft of a first story. You probably write a lot more before the final draft.
2006 starting quarterback Jameel Sewell, who had offseason wrist surgery, ran the offense for the first time since the conclusion of the 2006 regular season.
"Jameel has some things to improve on," Groh said. "He needs to throw every day before we can get a good assessment of him."
The team has its first open practice at 2:20 p.m. and then twice Saturday at 8:35 a.m. and 6:35 p.m.
The annual Meet the Team event is Sunday from 3-4:15 in the pergola area above the north end zone in Scott Stadium.
- Four walk-ons joined the team this season - QB Brendan Lane (Annapolis, Md./Severn), FB Curt Orshoski (Culpeper, Va./.Culpeper), OL Dave Roberts (Sarasota, Fla./Riverview) and TB William Webb (Dallas, Texas/Highland Park).
Question of the day
Newcomers: what are you most excited about entering camp? TE Tony Konstant: Just 20 days of football.
PK Chris Hinkebein: I'm excited just to get to know everybody and be a part of the team.
WR Jared Green: Just getting out there and running with the team and being a part of the tradition here.
WR Dontrelle Inman: Trying to go out and get myself a spot on the field.
OL Landon Bradley: See what I can do for the team and see where I stand.
DL Zane Parr: To work hard and hopefully be able to play this season and get better.
LB Terence Fells-Danzer: Going from high school to college, it's a big step in my life. It's better competition and great coaches to learn from.
OL Lamar Milstead: The level of intensity. It's going to be a lot faster and interesting than high school camp.
LB J'Courtney Williams: Getting out there, going through the routines and getting used to playing with the veterans. It's going to be hard but I'm looking forward to the challenge.
Questions the Cavaliers must answer before the season opener Sept. 1
BY MELINDA WALDROP | 247-4634
August 7, 2007
CHARLOTTESVILLE - Cedric Peerman wasn't satisfied.
"We need more energy," Peerman said Monday night as the Virginia football team filed off the practice field after its first fall practice of 2007. "I like for things to be real intense, so maybe my standards are a little bit too high. I don't know. But I just like a lot of energy. It motivates me."
If Peerman, a junior tailback who comes into camp as the Cavaliers' starter, had stuck around a few more minutes, he'd have seen 279 pounds of motivation lumbering his way.
Senior defensive end Chris Long was the last player to leave the field. Shirt off, sweat pouring down his chest, bits of dirt stuck to his face, he paused after self-inflicted extra running to share his early impressions of his teammates.
"This is the most physical, imposing-looking group that we've had in a couple of years, that I remember since maybe I was a freshman, and that was a good group," Long said. "The pieces are there. We have to put them together."
As the Cavs try to improve on last year's 5-7 record, there are five key questions they must answer before opening the season on Sept. 1 at Wyoming.
1. IS QB JAMEEL SEWELL HEALTHY AND READY TO LEAD VIRGINIA?
Sewell, who threw for 1,342 yards after taking over the starting QB job with nine games remaining in his freshman season, had wrist surgery in December. At the start of spring practice, Sewell said his wrist was a little sore, and that the injury limited his offseason weightlifting. He artfully dodged waiting reporters after Monday night's practice, but his teammates said he looked good and didn't seem hampered by the wrist. Long said Sewell threw some nice passes, and that he brought an amped-up sense of leadership to the field. "Since Game 1, I feel like I'd follow him anywhere as a leader and a quarterback, but I think the change has been on his part," Long said. "He's really stepped up his leadership role and his work habits. He's just a great guy to play for, and we trust him."
2. WHO WILL STEP UP TO REPLACE KEVIN OGLETREE AT WIDE RECEIVER?
Maurice Covington is among the more obvious answers. He's U.Va.'s leading returning wide receiver, although his numbers from his sophomore season - six catches for 45 yards - are hardly head-turning. "At first I thought (Ogletree) was going to be back in time to play this season," Covington said Monday. "But when I realized he wasn't, I knew I had to step up and lead these younger guys and go out there and help this team win." Ogletree finished third in the ACC with 582 receiving yards but is expected to miss all of 2007 with a knee injury suffered in spring practice. That may mean Mikell Simpson will play a bigger role in his sophomore season, and junior Andrew Pearman returns to the team after leaving because of personal reasons last year. The Cavs also may lean on senior tight end Tom Santi, who tied for second on the team with 29 receptions last season. And Peerman said freshman Staton Jobe has been impressive in the early going: "He's just worked his butt off. He hasn't said a word and hasn't complained. He's just one of the most stand-up guys you'd ever want to be around."
3. IS THAT STARTING TAILBACK JOB PEERMAN'S TO LOSE?
Peerman, who rushed for 185 yards as a backup last season, led the White team with 37 yards on five carries in the April 14 spring game, and he's eager for his chance to step into the spotlight this year. "I've been waiting for this chance for a long time," he said Monday. "Obviously my goal is to prove that I'm that guy that can get the job done." But he also took to heart head coach Al Groh's warning that the depth chart can change daily. One of Peerman's more ballyhooed backfield competitors, though, didn't practice on Monday. Highly touted freshman Keith Payne still is suspended from the team because of academic problems and is finishing his last week of summer school. A decision on his status could come next week. "We're not talking about any players who aren't here right now," Groh said Monday. "... When they start practicing, they'll be worthy of conversation."
4. DO THE CAVALIERS HAVE ENOUGH DEPTH AT CORNERBACK WITH THE KNEE INJURY TO MIKE BROWN?
Brown, who played in all 12 games last season as a sophomore, sustained a knee injury while making a cut in summer practice. Groh didn't sound optimistic about Brown's return last month, saying that it would be a priority in fall practice to find someone who could take Brown's place. That may mean redshirt freshmen such as Mike Parker, Trey Womack and Donald Hickman of Massaponax High in Fredericksburg could compete for starting spots. "They had a pretty good chance under (normal) circumstances, too," Groh said Monday. "There's some good talented young corners. They could see that they were in the competition. So I think they saw where they had a chance before."
5. IS THERE ANY ADDED PRESSURE ON GROH, WHO RECENTLY WAS NAMED SI.COM'S WORST COLLEGE COACH, TO PRODUCE IN HIS SIXTH SEASON?
Last month, Groh shrugged off SI.com writer's Stewart Mandel's opinion that he's the worst college coach in America, and Monday, he stuck to tried-and-true generalities after his team's first day of practice. "It's nice to see them out there, but it's too early to make any impressions," Groh said. "We're just doing. ... First practice, no pads, it's hard to say you can reach a particular level of intensity." But the Cavs will have to get into gear in a hurry. Virginia, 10-23 on the road in Groh's past five seasons, will face an immediate test with its season-opening trip to Wyoming, which U.Va. needed overtime to beat by a point last year in Charlottesville.
Sewell getting reps at QB after wrist injury
By Andy Bitter
Lynchburg News & Advance
August 7, 2007
CHARLOTTESVILLE - Jameel Sewell was a full participant, Keith Payne wasn't in uniform and Al Groh wasn't forming any impressions after Virginia's first day of preseason practice on Monday.
The left-handed Sewell, who started UVa's final nine games but sat out most of the spring drills after offseason surgery on his throwing wrist, was fully involved in Monday's two-hour, no-pads practice. Two weeks ago at the ACC Kickoff, Groh expressed interest in seeing how his sophomore quarterback would respond once live drills began.
"It's nice to see him out there," Groh said. "There was some good, there was some to improve on. It's going to take coming out every day, throwing every day, dealing with all the different things that come up before we can make an assessment."
Sewell, who skipped out on talking to reporters afterward, was involved in every drill in the closed practice, according to his teammates, and did not exhibit any side effects from the surgery, showing some good zip on his throws.
"He's great," left guard Branden Albert said. "He's out there slinging the ball as usual."
Said wideout Maurice Covington: "He's probably going to continue to improve and get his arm back, get the velocity on his throws back. He threw me some pretty good balls. I didn't think he was limited at all."
Payne did not participate in the practice. The much ballyhooed redshirt freshman running back was suspended from the team in June due for academic reasons but has been working toward a return through summer school.
He should know his fate by the end of this week when Virginia's third and final summer school session ends. Players have exams on Thursday and Friday.
"He knows what he has to do if he wants to be part of the team," said junior Cedric Peerman, who is currently penciled in as the No. 1 running back. "We're happy to have him. I love the kid. I think he's a great kid. And I hope he comes back as soon as possible."
The Cavaliers' preseason practice lasts until Saturday, Aug. 25. Five practices are open to the public - Friday, Aug. 10 (2:20 p.m.), Saturday, Aug. 11 (8:35 a.m. and 6:35 p.m.), Friday, Aug. 17 (2:20 p.m.) and Saturday, Aug. 18 (8:35 a.m.). All practices are on the fields adjacent to McCue Center and University Hall.
Virginia's Meet the Team Day is Sunday, Aug. 12, from 3 to 4:15 p.m. at Scott Stadium.
The John Brandenburg Story: Part I
Center John Brandenburg By Mike Eubanks
Posted Aug 6, 2007
6'11" center John Brandenburg from St. Louis (Mo.) has enjoyed a wealth of competition this summer against the best big men in the country, and his development has benefited. Ranked by Scout.com as a Top 100 player in the Class of 2008, Brandenburg has seen several new schools jump onto his bandwagon following his play in July. It's about time you get to know his story.
Now that August is here, John Brandenburg can enjoy consecutive days at home in St. Louis (Mo.) and a little rest. His busy last month-plus of basketball and travel included Charlottesville (Va.) for the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp, North Augusta (S.C.) for the Nike Peach Jam, Orlando (Fla.) for the AAU Super Showcase and Shawnee Mission (Kan.) for the Price Chopper/Kansas City Prep Invitational.
"It's been really nice to finally get a break," Brandenburg admits. "My body was getting pretty sore toward the end of the [AAU] season. I'm just laying low for a couple weeks, and then I'll start hitting it hard to get ready for that high school season."
The 6'11" 225-pound center from De Smet Jesuit High School plays his travel basketball with the St. Louis Eagles, and the competition that afforded him this summer was excellent. More than any other position in prep basketball, the center too often matches up against weaker or smaller opponents in high school games. Traveling across the country and battling with the nation's elite big men markedly helped Brandenburg's development this summer.
"It's a great opportunity to play at NBA camps and with a team like the Eagles, who go to the best tournaments," the center explains. "We've played against 10 to 15 of the Top 10 players for the 2008 and 2009 classes this year. I've played against the best people, and you can't get that anywhere else. It's been a real honor to play with these guys."
Brandenburg, ranked by Scout.com as the #15 center and #83 overall player in the Class of 2008, feels that his progress has come faster on one end of the floor than the other.
"Definitely I've become a really sound defensive player, and I feel like that's something I can hang my hat on," he explains. "I'm really confident in my defense. I feel like I can guard anybody. But the problem is that I lock up myself every night on offense. I have to get that part down, and then hopefully I'll be a more complete player."
"Defense is really important," Brandenburg continues. "You just can't take plays off. That's one of the big things I learned in AAU this year. If you take a play off against one of these types of players, they'll score on you. Every play you have to be fronting the post. You have to always have your feet set and be down low enough that if they take a jab one way, you can go and be there ready to stop them."
"On offense, everybody is telling me the same thing: I need a go-to move in the post," he adds. "When I turn around, there is not one thing I can go to every time without thinking about it. I really want to work on maybe a hook shot. That would be really nice to perfect the hook shot in the post because that could be unstoppable."
"John has a few things going for him that will help him over time," says Dave Telep, Scout.com National Recruiting Director. "First and foremost, his size. No matter how you slice it or on what level you see him, he's a big kid. He'll be able to hold his own in the post and keep others off the glass. There's a value to what he's able to do by just being a big, strong kid. Plus, he can run and move."
"If he can find a comfort zone on offense, and by that I mean some type of go-to-move that he feels confident in, he'll take another leap," Telep continues. "Second, he plays within himself. Right now he's not overly confident on offense, so he takes care of his area, finishes when you put him in position and finds a way to be efficient with his chances."
An additional area where Brandenburg can smile at the end of his busy travel and basketball schedule is the weight he was able to maintain. The seven-foot center (he measures 6'11" in bare feet) still tips the scales at 225 pounds after returning home from a frantic July schedule. He hopes to add a few more pounds this fall and start his senior season at De Smet at 230.
"I really work on my nutrition and my fitness," Brandenburg says. "I have a trainer and everything, and that's really important to me - making weight and staying in good shape. That's one thing I've really focused on a lot."
Another important focus for Brandenburg this summer has been his college recruitment. He was considering five schools in June: Stanford, Virginia, Wisconsin, Missouri and UCLA. All but the Bruins offered. Then his play in July picked up the pace, with new suitors coming on strong.
That was exactly what Brandenburg wanted to happen. At least, initially he did.
"I was kind of hoping to get a bunch of new schools interested this AAU season, but as I kept playing, I just realized how much I liked the schools," he explains. "I grew to like the ones that were recruiting me so much more. It was just more of a personal thing for me. I wasn't trying to get schools interested anymore. I was just trying to play as well as I could against the best competition. I'm trying to build up my confidence against the best players, so that I'm ready to play at the next level."
The St. Louis center danced for a while with the two-time defending National Champions. Brandenburg garnered an offer from Billy Donovan and the Gators but then turned around and told them, 'No thanks.'
"I had heard some from Florida. I don't know if I got caught in the middle of some March Madness fever, but I was really liking Florida and they were liking me," the recruit recounts. "Finally they offered me, and that was really exciting. But it was just too late. I didn't feel enough of a connection with the coach, the staff or anybody, so I told them that I wasn't interested anymore."
"Coach Donovan in late July offered," Brandenburg adds. "That was after the Peach Jam. I didn't think I played that well, but everybody told me I had a great Peach Jam. I had to turn down a ton of schools after Peach Jam who were pretty big-time. It was just too late in the game, and I wasn't ready to start a whole new relationship with coaches. I was happy with my schools."
"UConn came forward," he says. "UNC and Coach [Roy] Williams - I talked to him. He said that he wanted to take a lot more interest, but I really just liked my schools at the time."
Most of his peers would have rolled excitedly forward with the new offers and interest, but Brandenburg instead pulled back the reins and cut his list to two schools among his original favorites: Stanford and Virginia...
Next: John Brandenburg comments on his final two schools and looks ahead to his upcoming visits.
Stokes reassigned at ECU
Ex-U.Va. star shifts from hoops coach to administrative post
Tuesday, Aug 07, 2007 - 12:06 AM Updated: 12:48 AM
By JOHN O'CONNOR
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
East Carolina basketball coach Ricky Stokes yesterday made a
curiously timed move to athletic administration.
ECU announced that Stokes, 45 and Virginia Tech's ex-coach, will become an associate athletic director for Pirates basketball. The former guard at Highland Springs High and the University of Virginia had three years left on the five-year deal he signed in 2005. His Pirates went 14-44 in two seasons, 6-24 last season.
Stokes called this decision "one I have wrestled with since the [2006-07] season ended. And if you're ever going to make a change, 45 . . . I think anything later than 45, you're too old to do something else.
"I did what I felt was best for me and my family."
Former Virginia Commonwealth University coach Mack McCarthy, 55 and the associate head coach on Stokes' staff, has been named acting head coach of the Pirates for the 2007-08 season. ECU, located in Greenville, N.C., belongs to Conference USA.
Stokes was hired at ECU by Athletic Director Terry Holland, Stokes' coach at U.Va.
In the school release, Holland said "Coach Stokes' move to athletics administration relieves some of the pressure on the team to win a specific number of games this season . . . "
Stokes said he didn't want each postgame press conference during 2007-08 to become a referendum on his future as Pirates coach.
"I've done that one time, at Virginia Tech, and it's no fun," said Stokes, dismissed by the Hokies following the 2002-03 season with a year remaining on his contract. "I just didn't want to do that again."
Stokes also classified his shift as "a family decision." He said it was influenced partly by the death late last month of Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser. At 56, Prosser collapsed after jogging. "That made all the coaches step back and ponder decisions like this, selfishly," Stokes said.
Stokes earned his bachelor's degree from Virginia and received his master's from VCU, where McCarthy was coach from the 1998-99 season through the 2001-02 season. The Rams teams of McCarthy, a Covington native and Virginia Tech graduate, posted a four-year record of 66-55.
Stokes' Hokies teams went 46-69 from the 1999-2000 season through 2002-03.
East Carolina has achieved seven winning seasons in the past 31, none in the last decade. Among the incoming players is Jamar Abrams, a 6-5 wing from Highland Springs High.
Asked if he left McCarthy with any advice, Stokes responded "Yes, he should win all the games. He shouldn't lose any. I teased him that he has a honeymoon year. If anything bad goes on, he can just blame me. If he wins all the games, he can say 'Hey, told you so. I should have been the head coach.'"
Biting wit comes at Vick's expense
Fla. company marketing dog chew toys in QB's likeness
By JENNIFER BRETT
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 08/06/07
Hey dog lovers, chew on this.
The latest creative entrepreneur trying to capitalize upon Michael Vick's legal woes is selling — that's righ —, Michael Vick chew toys for dogs. Get it?
We weren't able to reach anyone from the corporate headquarters of www.vickdogchewtoy.com, which is apparently a Jacksonville, Fla.-based enterprise. But the creative minds behind the merchandise are clearly troubled by Vick's alleged involvement in dogfighting, as evidenced by the polemic on the Web site.
"Now a new type of retribution has been created to give every dog a little pay-back," the site trumpets. The items sell for $7.99 and look an awful lot like Michael Vick; right down to the No. 7 jersey and the close-cropped hair. The figures are billed as being made of "state of the art dog material."
No word on what that is, by the way, but the toys promise to stand up to any hound's choppers: "The Vick Toy Doll is so strong and flexible, it will challenge even the most aggressive breeds. Especially the pit bull."
The Falcons quarterback, who has pleaded not guilty, faces trial at the end of November. The chew toys are but the latest in a stream of Vick-related opportunism. One eBay seller is hawking a "Dog Fighting Special" Michael Vick jersey for $6 (it's just a plain old jersey), while some class act is hoping to rake in close to $30,000 for the domain names www.MichaelVicksDogFights.com and www.RonMexicosDogFights.com,
"It's all about the Web and what I'll call 'Weblebrity,' says John C. Adams, a visiting Department of Communication professor at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. "The Web has so many possible ways of cashing in on a person's current fame — or infamy. Vick's miseries are a timely topic; the Web enables anybody with a computer and an Internet connection to immediately publicize anything that's currently hot or not."
Proceeds of the questionably hot Vick chew toys reportedly will be given to the Jacksonville Humane Society, where spokeswoman Chere Garrard says she's getting calls from all over the country, but hasn't actually talked with anyone from the Vick chew-toy outfit. The organization could certainly use the cash. An April 7 fire sparked by an electrical problem destroyed the facility, and 86 pets perished, she said.
"We have not had any conversation with them," she said of the potential Web-based benefactors. "We are very interested in chatting with them."