Saturday, April 29, 2006

$30 MILLION MISTAKE?

March 31, 2005...a new day that will live in infamy.

On the eve of what could have been a great April Fools Day joke, Matt Leinart decided to return for a final season at USC. Jokes abounded about Leinart looking forward to taking a ballroom dancing class when he returned to ‘SC. His dance partner was Cinnamon Rogers (yes…granddaughter of Ginger Rogers…Fred Astaire’s old dance partner).

At Heritage Hall on the Southern Cal campus, nobody laughed. There was nothing but jubilation. With Leinart, Bush, White, the Trojans were sure to win a third consecutive NCAA Football Championship (and second straight BCS Championship).

Last year, the general consensus was that Leinart would have been the Number One pick of the 2005 NFL Draft. His decision to return to USC for a chance to win another BCS title enabled the University of Utah’s Alex Smith to ascend to that position. The San Francisco 49ers signed Smith to a six-year $49.5 Million contract.

Leinart defended his position by saying, “If the object of your life is to make money, you’re not going to have much of a life.” Over the upcoming weeks, months and years…we will see just how much Leinart clings to that statement.

Saturday, there was conjecture that Leinart would go as high as Number Three to the Tennessee Titans. It made perfect sense.

Leinart’s old Offensive Coordinator at USC, Norm Chow is now the Titan’s Offensive Coordinator.

CHECK.

Titan’s Head Coach? Jeff Fischer, USC class of 1980.

CHECK.

Matt Leinart quarterbacked his team to the 2005 BCS Championship in this year’s Rose Bowl.

CHECK.


WHOOPS…NO. CHECK THAT.

Turns out that it was Vince Young who quarterbacked his team to the 2005 BCS Championship in this year’s Rose Bowl.

OHHHHHHHH.

“With the third pick of the 2006 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans select Vince Young, QB, University of Texas.”
OUCH!

First Young steals the anointed BCS Championship from Leinart in January, and now the Longhorn QB assumes Leinart’s anointed position as the future of the Tennessee Titans?

Oh well, the Raiders are sure to pick Leinart with the Number 7 pick right?

“With the seventh pick of the 2006 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders select Michael Huff, cornerback from the University of Texas.”

WHAT?

Now Leinart is snubbed for a Texas Longhorn cornerback? I believe Tom Petty said it best when he sang “And I’m free, free fallin’…Yeah I’m free, free fallin.”

Fall Leinart did. With the 10th pick of the Draft, the Arizona Cardinals finally selected Leinart. Ironically, it may end up being a good fit for Leinart. Kurt Warner is there to tutor him and the Cardinals have some potent offensive weapons in Edgerrin James, Anquan Bolden and Larry Fitzgerald.

But that brings us back to the question of money.

The Number 10 pick in last years NFL Draft was coincidentally another former USC player, wide receiver Mike Williams. Williams was selected by the Detroit Lions and ended up signing a five-year contract worth $13.5 million.

You do the math. The Number One pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, Alex Smith signs for six-years, $49.5 million (an average of $8.25 million/year). The Number 10 pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, Mike Williams signs for five-years $13.5 million (an average of $2.7 million/year).

The difference (for those of you who matriculated at USC)?

THIRTY-SIX MILLION DOLLARS in overall contract value. Assuming Leinart signs a six-year contract like Alex Smith, that $5.55 million average annual difference would amount to THIRTY-THREE MILLION, THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS over the life of such a contract.

Anyway you slice it, that’s a LOT of money.

Leinart may end up forfeiting THIRTY MILLION DOLLARS PLUS to take his ballroom dancing classes this past year.

Leinart may end up forfeiting THIRTY MILLION DOLLARS PLUS to watch Vince Young roll right on the USC defense in the fourth quarter of the 2006 Rose Bowl to win the BCS National Championship.

Leinart may end up forfeiting THIRTY MILLION DOLLARS PLUS to “Fight On” for old ‘SC one more year.

As Leinart said last year, obviously the object of his life is NOT to make money. Here’s to hoping that he makes up for it with the quality of his life in the Arizona desert.

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