Jon Kitna isn't the NFL's most physically gifted starting quarterback. He doesn't throw the prettiest passes. And no one in football has an uglier haircut.
But the man sure isn't afraid to take a hit.
Last spring, when asked on a radio show about the Detroit Lions' prospects for the 2007 season, Kitna proclaimed, "It will be a disappointment for us not to win 10 games." It was a particularly bold statement, given that in the previous six years the Lions had managed just 24 victories (against 72 defeats) and were coming off a 3-13 season.
His non-prediction/prediction (Kitna called it "a statement of fact") looked particularly prescient halfway through last season, when Detroit had a 6-2 record. Then the Lions, like Detroit native Enimem in "8 Mile," snapped back to reality (oh there goes gravity …) and lost seven of their final eight games.
So what did Kitna do when asked about the now infamous comment the other day?
Laugh it off? Decline to address it? Say that he didn't want to make the team's goals public?
No, bless him. He repeated it.
"Last year was not a prediction, it was a statement of fact that if we didn't win 10 games, we would be disappointed, and I would say that would still hold true this year," Kitna said. "We will be disappointed, but we're going to be a better football team."
Give Kitna credit for being willing to look foolish in public for another year – and for making us pay attention to the Lions this offseason for something other than the vaguely familiar names (Shaun Rogers, Kevin Jones, Kalimba Edwards) removed from their roster.
The quarterback's mind may work in mysterious ways – he still pleads with me to stay away from Lions games because he believes my presence at the Kingdome for a pivotal Seahawks defeat in 1999 was "bad luck" – but I will give him this: He makes a heck of a lot more sense than many of the people who send me emails.
TRIPPIN' ON E(MAIL)
"Dude, your column on (Shaun) Alexander is right on. I personally thought it was painful to watch the guy these past couple of seasons. He seemed to start falling before he was even hit in most cases. … BTW, you're an (expletive). Cheers!"
I may not have Shaun's skills, but I do know how to take a hit.
"Being a 'Hawks fan, I have always claimed that there was never anything that special about Alexander … ever. He was, by far, the product of his line. As you described his decrease from 5.1 to 3.5 yards per carry in the last couple seasons, I have always said that even I could gain at least 1.6 yards per carry behind (Steve) Hutch(inson) and (Walter) Jones. Low and behold, he lost that yardage as Hutch left and Jones is coming up on retirement. Hopefully now with a better back in Julius (Jones) and a slightly improved line, we can get back into our Super Bwl form, except without choking in the big game. Thanks for making my Tuesday and (Fridays) in the offseason more interesting and enjoyable."
My pleasure. Personally, every time I use a variation of that line to an NFL player – "Don't you think I could gain so-and-so yards behind those linemen?" – I always qualify it thusly: Setting aside the fact that I would fumble every time I was touched, and would probably be hospitalized after the first tackle …
"So when Edge(rrin) James breaks for a touchdown, do his linemen show up with their attorneys on Monday to discuss 'blocking fee payouts'? Also, what kind of payday is Kurt Warner getting from (Larry) Fitz(gerald) for all his ill advised deep ball tosses? This is ridiculous. Millionaires nudging other millionaires for their cut."
Phil Van Ommeren
Attorneys on Monday? No no no no no! It most certainly does not go down like that. Try the pool table late Sunday night, and you're getting warmer.
"Wow. Just when I thought your lyric-altered songs couldn't possibly be any dumber, you went ahead and re-worded Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville to make fun of John Daly … and totally redeemed yourself! Well done, Mr. Silver. I must've looked like I was going into convulsions as I tried to hold back the laughter in my cubicle. I love your writing style, as I am a smart-ass myself. What I find even better is reading the idiot comments from readers who claim to hate you, yet read your columns every week. Hmmmmmmm, curious. Keep up the good work! Feel free to correct my grammar. I won't take offense … you jerk."
I appreciate the praise, especially from someone who really does reside in Arnold Palmerville.
"That song you made up about John Daly's alcohol addiction was a riot. I mean, what is funnier than alcoholism? Watching it ruin his life, family and almost every relationship he has had. Maybe you should be more responsible with your writing. Alcoholism and drug addiction are not funny and it is a shame that you and Yahoo! Sports do not think so."
I take it you're not a Parrothead? (And no, I am not endorsing alcoholism or drug addiction. But I am reserving the right to goof on Buffett songs, and to make fun of sports figures who behave foolishly.)
"Michael, this time you have really upped the ante beyond all previous heights. John Daly-ville is sure to become a classic tune. Now all it takes is someone to sing this as a single … Danny Noriega, perhaps?"
It would be a tear-jerker, that's for sure.
"I have enjoyed your articles all year long, and defended your opinion to my friends even if I personally disagreed but this is the last straw my friend. How could you take a shot at Forrest? He's as American as caramel apple empanada's. You had better hope you don't find yourself in a dark alley in the mean streats of O'fallon or you might hear a high-pitched Run, Silver. Run!
P.S. And just for your information, I did not spell streets wrong. The streets in O'fallon are so mean and menacing, the city had to rename them 'streats' to better describe how terrifying they are."
They do sound terrifying. But I would be far more terrified if forced to sit in a dark theater watching Forrest drone, "Life is like a box of chocolates …"
"'Forrest Gump' is the most overrated film in the history of American cinema? Michael, have you seen 'Titanic'?"
Yes, all three hours of it. But 'Gump' is a true disaster film.
"In reference to the Shaun Alexander article, I'm fairly certain you can't have too much tread on the tires. Having too little is a problem though. Also, you're an idiot. 'Forrest Gump' is nowhere near the most-overrated movie in American history … have you ever seen Citizen Kane? With that said, I love the column. Keep up the good work."
You're treading on Orson Welles' masterpiece? Wow. Why not just trash 'Gone With The Wind,' 'The Godfather' and 'Animal House,' too?
"re: 'Hawks, Alexander latest cautionary tale' The sign of wear on tires is diminished tread depth, not 'even the most productive backs can be discarded when they're perceived to have too much tread on their tires.' Did you finish high school? Just wondering."
Yes. Though, in fairness, I didn't take auto shop
"Your declaration of Jeff King as your man in the sport of dog mushing is understandable, but you might want to write a bit about the guy who hoodwinked him, Lance Mackey. … Mackey is a character and a genuine person (last year every newspaper article and TV story on Mackey seemed to include a quote from him about how much winning the new truck that the Iditarod awards to the winner in addition to the cash prize, and it became a funny and endearing motif). It appears that Mackey has as tight a bond with his team as any musher could, and as a dog lover, that gives him points in my book."
Did I just read "Iditarod" and "dog lover" in the same sentence? Uh oh. I hear a PETA mob a gatherin'
"The Guatemalan Chapter of the Mike Silver Fan Club checkin' in. I have a very small matter here. On the Yahoo! Sports NFL page under the title, 'YAHOO! SPORTS EXPERTS' there is a picture of a rugged and weathered sportswriter flaunting a devil-may-care smirk, then I open the column and I see the deer-caught-in-the-headlights stare of Eyebrow Man! What gives? It's definitely not vida o muerto here but the female members of your Guatemalan fan club want to know why the eds can't use the same picture? Oh, they prefer Mr. Rough and Ready!"
If there really are any female members of my Guatemalan fan club (Dios Mio!), then there should be a permanent column photo of me with a big ol' smile on my rough-and-ready face.