- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 18, 2009

Did you see Tiger Woods is going to take part in the Obama inauguration?

The word on the street, by the way, is that the president-elect might appoint Tiger to a new Cabinet post - secretary of tee times.

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Actually, Obama has so many things on his plate that he likely won’t be golfing much. Indeed, the national deficit is so large that he might want to rent out the White House putting green to parties.

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The over-under for Sunday’s Steelers-Ravens game is 33. I’m just not sure whether it’s 33 points or 33 stretchers.

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With Baltimore coming to town, Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl filled out the paperwork to - temporarily, at least - change his name to Steelerstahl.

One more thing, Mr. Mayor. If you’re tailgating before the game - or chowing down in a luxury box - it’s OK to say, “I’m starving” but not “I’m ravenous.”

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Almost every NFL stadium has a system that enables fans to text message security if they’re bothered by unruly behavior.

Just wondering: Does this behavior include roughing the passer?

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The only stadiums that don’t have such a system are in New Orleans, St. Louis and Tennessee.

I’m not sure whether those teams are behind the times or whether, like me, their fans just don’t know how to text message.

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I’ve got no problem with the Bucs getting rid of Jon Gruden - as long as they don’t bring in the No. 2 guy on Manchester United.

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Let’s face it, Gruden can use a break - workaholic that he is. In fact, the night he was fired, he probably turned off the alarm and slept for five hours.

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Number of the Week: 1.

(How many playoff games, combined, Gruden and Mike Shanahan have won the last five seasons.)

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Number of the Week (honorable mention): 3.

(How many playoff games Norv Turner, all by himself, has won the past two seasons.)

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Three things Donovan McNabb might have said when he playfully picked up the phone on the Giants’ sideline last Sunday:

1. “I’d like to order a large pizza with everything on it. My name? Mr. Siragusa.”

2. “Tell Mr. Limbaugh I’m in a meeting.”

3. “Can you hear me now, T.O.?”

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Speaking of Terrell Owens, can you imagine how mad he’ll be if the Eagles - the team he thumbed his nose at - get to the Super Bowl?

I can see it now: After he’s done doing 100 crunches in his driveway - just to relieve some of the tension - he’ll drive over to the Cowboys’ practice facility and park in Wade Phillips’ space.

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And if that doesn’t make him feel better, he’ll call a news conference and imply that Tony Romo is gay.

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My column last week about the 1940s Chicago Cardinals and their one-of-a-kind coach, Jimmy Conzelman, was supposed to be accompanied by a brief compendium of Conzelman quotes. Alas, we ran out of space. Here it is for your amusement. (He really was a funny man.)

- “A fellow came up to me [in 1942] after we had lost a tough one, 38-2, and he said, ‘Jimmy, don’t feel downhearted. It’s not your fault. Your boys can’t play well this year because of the war. Their minds are taken up with the war.’

“I seized on that with pathetic eagerness. Whenever somebody would confront me with my bad record after that, I’d simply shrug and murmur, ‘C’est la guerre, c’est la guerre.’ Unfortunately, Charles Bidwill, the man I work for, doesn’t understand French.”

- “I was talking to George [Preston] Marshall last week in Washington. No, you’d better change that to George was talking to me. Marshall gave me a lot of advice. He said that the thing that built pro football in Washington was that he gave the folks a show - good vaudeville between halves, colorful uniform for the band and so on. I told him, ‘Listen, if I had Sammy Baugh on my team, I could draw a crowd playing a banjo between halves.’”

- On how to inspire an underperforming club: “That day as I came off the field after the first half, I decided to use the ‘Master Is Angry’ device. The operation is really very simple. After giving the squad ample time to get settled in the locker room, the coach charges in with controlled but noticeable fury and stalks around the room glaring at the players. Finally, after hurling a short volley of sarcasm at the group, he exits on the line and slams the door behind him, leaving - he hopes - a contrite team to meditate on its sins and, subsequently, to mend its ways. If you ever try this, be sure to slam the door. In the silence of a chastened dressing room, it makes a hell of a noise.”

- Speaking at the annual athletic banquet at the University of Chicago, whose president was a vocal opponent of big-time college football: “It’s a pleasure to be here with President Hutchins. We have two great things in common. We both are wearing gray suits and both live in Chicago.”

- “At the football meetings last week, somebody proposed an amendment to the constitution to prevent any player from receiving a larger salary than his coach. So I told the meeting: ‘If this goes through, either I go or three of my players do.’”

- After losing 45-21 to the Redskins in 1947, the year the Cards won the title: “I haven’t felt so badly since the Punitive Committee of the American Coaches Association had me up on charges for using a player at Washington University who paid his own tuition.”

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Little-known fact: The 1947 Cardinals are the last NFL champions to play more regular-season games on the road (seven) than at home (five). Back then, the teams with the highest attendances were given extra home games - and the Cards weren’t one of them. (The previous year, they had only four games at Comiskey Park.)

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Sorry, but I’m puzzled by Sam Bradford’s decision to return to Oklahoma for another season after throwing 50 touchdown passes and winning the Heisman Trophy. Isn’t that a little like hitting .400 at Rochester and refusing a September call-up?

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Bradford is hardly alone, though. Texas’ Colt McCoy and Florida’s Tim Tebow, the other Heisman finalists, are also coming back for another year.

Here’s the most underreported part of the story: McCoy will be 24 before he plays in the NFL. Tebow will be 23. Bradford will turn 23 in November of his first season (provided, that is, he doesn’t opt for a fifth year in Norman). They’re all, in other words, old for their grades.

This, interestingly, has become the norm for quarterbacks entering the pros. In this decade, 23 QBs have been taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. No fewer than 15 were 23 or older when their rookie seasons began. Heck, Joe Flacco, the Ravens’ rookie, turned 24 last week.

Compare this with the ages of the running backs who went in Round 1 last year: 21, 21, 21, 21, 22.

Makes you appreciate a lot more what Drew Bledsoe did, being a functional pro quarterback at 21 and leading the Patriots to the Super Bowl at 24. Ditto Dan Marino, who started as a rookie at 22 and took the Dolphins to the Super Bowl as a 23-year-old.

Obviously, running back is a more instinctive position and careers tend to be shorter, so it behooves a top prospect to start playing for pay as soon as he can. But QBs, it seems, are seeking more game/life experience before leaving the college womb.

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And finally …

The Sony Open just isn’t the same without Michelle Wie missing the cut.