Roomies Face Off … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

They were not Felix and Oscar of “Odd Couple” fame on stage and screen.

But for one school year, Matt Cassel and Carson Palmer shared a room. Each one had a single bed in the same room of a house filled with other University of Southern California players and students.

They became good friends and confidants and they will get to see each other on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium with Palmer and his Bengals host Cassel and his Chiefs.

“I learned an awful lot from him,” Cassel said of Palmer. “He was the man when I got to USC and he took me under his wing and was very helpful in helping me handle the transition to college football.”

Cassel’s first season with the Trojans was in 2000, when he took a red-shirt year in what was Palmer’s sophomore season when he established himself as the USC starter. They spent the next two seasons together, as Cassel watched from the sidelines and Palmer became the 2002 winner of the Heisman Trophy and the first player selected in the 2003 NFL Draft.

It was during that 2002 fall and spring that they shared the room. This was not a pairing of the clean freak Felix and the sloppy Oscar. 

“We both had our times when we were sloppy,” Cassel said. “Sometimes it was him and sometimes it was me. You know how it is in college; you get going doing a bunch of things and don’t much worry about whether you hang up your jeans or thrown them over a chair.

“It got pretty bad a couple times, but usually we just dug in and cleaned it up.”

The connection started early for these two; when Cassel made his official recruiting trip to the Southern Cal campus, it was Palmer who served as his host.

“We just really clicked,” Cassel said. “He’s such a good person and he was very helpful in telling me about the school and the program. I don’t think it takes much to sell SC, but his help was one of the reasons I decided to go there.”

In the 2001 and 2002 seasons with the Trojans, Palmer was the starter for Pete Carroll. He had a big season in ’02 when Norm Chow came to Southern Cal as the offensive coordinator. Palmer threw for 3,942 yards, completed 63.7 percent of his passes with 33 TD throws and 10 interceptions. That earned him the Heisman, where he finished ahead of Iowa quarterback Brad Banks.

In those two seasons, Cassel saw the field for only some mop up duty, as he completed four of six passes for 32 yards and ran the ball three times for 22 yards.

Palmer became the first player selected in the 2003 NFL Draft, while Cassel would be the 230th selection in the 2005 NFL Draft, taken in the seventh round by New England.

For a pair of Southern Cal quarterbacks, there could not have been more opposite entries into pro football. But it matters not how a player enters the NFL. He will be remembered for what he did and how he leaves the game.

That’s why SC quarterbacks like Palmer, Matt Leinart and Mark Sanchez may have had an advantage in starting their pro careers as first round draft choices, but Cassel has proven he’s capable of playing the game as well and he retains the ability to become more successful than those first-round picks.

“I watched how he handled himself during those last two years and that was a learning experience,” said Cassel. “To watch him deal with it, and then to go back to the room and be able to ask him questions about everything that was going on was very helpful to me.

“He was always willing to share.”

That’s why Cassel and Palmer remain good friends. They see each other once or twice a year away from football and they talk all the time, during the season and off-season.

“He’s a good man and a good friend,” said Cassel.

FOR HARRISON, IT HAD TO BE THE GATES!

It was quite a family weekend last Saturday and Sunday in Kansas City and Arrowhead Stadium.

Cleveland Browns RB Jerome Harrison flew his parents from Kalamazoo, Michigan to KC for the Chiefs-Browns game to help celebrate their 32nd wedding anniversary. They were joined by an aunt and five cousins who live over in Columbia

They all saw Harrison run for an amazing 286 yards; that was a Cleveland team record, the best rushing day of the 2009 season and the third best rushing day in NFL history.

And, it may have been fueled by a President’s Platter from Gates Bar B-Q.

”One of his cousins took him to Gates Bar-B-Q,” his mother Debbie Persell said. ”By the time I got to the hotel (Saturday night), he’d eaten everything. Ribs, ham, barbecue . . . there was one bone left. I said, ‘Can I have that?’ ‘He was rubbing his stomach and saying how full he was. I said, ‘Are you going to be OK to play?’

“Now we’re saying Gates Bar-B-Q gave him the strength and the energy to do it. We’re talking about flying him in some Gates Bar-B-Q.”

A platter of Gates, a franchise record and a victory … it doesn’t get much better than that if you are Jerome Harrison, especially if your folks are there to see it all.

”They had a ball,” Harrison said. ”My mom was crying, my dad was so proud. It was good just to see them excited and happy.”

TONY G. CLOSING IN ON 1,000 CATCHES

Tony Gonzalez needs six catches on Sunday against Buffalo to join a very exclusive club: receivers with 1,000 catches.

Right now, Gonzalez has 994 catches for 11,760 yards and 82 touchdown catches. All of those numbers are records for the tight end position. When he reaches the 1,000-mark, he will become the first tight end to break that plateau. It’s ironic that WR Terrell Owens can also reach that 1,000-mark and needs only two catches, since they will be on the field together.

The previous five to top 1,000 catches in their career were all WRs: Jerry Rice, Marvin Harrison, Cris Carter, Isaac Bruce and Tim Brown.

Gonzalez will have plenty of opportunities to get the mark if it doesn’t come this Sunday. He plans to play at least one more year with the Falcons.

“It’s depends on what day of the week you ask me,” Gonzalez said. “I think that’s true of all old guys in the league. Next year, I’m coming back for sure. I’m never going to say I’m 100 percent done after next year. Obviously I would be leaning towards that direction unless something changes. I feel good mentally and physically. I love playing this game. I still think I can do it a high, high level.

“It’s one of those things that can’t just be my decision. I can’t be that selfish about it. It’s something I’d have to talk to my wife and my family about. Right now, I’m enjoying it.”

Gonzalez will be 34 in February, and very few tight ends play to that age.

“Fortunately, I have not had anything major, knock on wood,” Gonzalez said of injuries. “I have had some key stuff. MCL damage four times. A shoulder, I guess just normal stuff after this long of a career, but nothing too bad.”

“Who knows, maybe I will go out there and play another three years. I don’t know. I’m not throwing that out the window. I agree with what Coach (John) Madden says. He says once you say you’re retiring, when guys come out and say they are retiring, it’s over. Mentally, you’ll shut it down. You should not say that. You should just wait until the end of the season and re-evaluate. That’s the way I’m going to take it. I’ve always told myself going into the next season that this is probably going to be my last year after 14 years in the NFL, but at the end of that year, who knows. I feel great.”

SIGNINGS, INJURIES & MOVEMENT AROUND THE LEAGUE

  • BRONCOS – ruled out of Sunday’s game against Philadelphia were LB Spencer Larsen and WR Eddie Royal.
  • CARDINALS – OT Mike Gandy will not on Sunday against the Rams.
  • COWBOYS – out of Sunday’s game against the Redskins are OT Marc Colombo and S Pat Watkins.
  • 49ERS – will be without K Joe Nedney and CB Nate Clements for Sunday’s game against the Lions.
  • LIONS – have declared CB Phillip Buchanon out of Sunday’s game against the 49ers.
  • RAIDERS – out of Sunday’s game against the Browns are WR Darrius Heyward-Bey and WR Nick Miller.

FROM THE PAGES OF CHIEFS HISTORY

On December 26, 1982, the Chiefs lost to the San Francisco 49ers 26-13 before 24,319 fans at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs held a 10-9 lead going into the fourth quarter, but the defending Super Bowl champions scored 17 points in the period to gain the victory. The Chiefs only touchdown came on a 41-yard pass from QB Bill Kenney to WR Anthony Hancock. K Nick Lowery added a pair of FGs. The big play in the fourth quarter for the 49ers was an interception and 83-yard return for a TD by Ronnie Lott (left). San Francisco QB Joe Montana was 20 of 35 for 253 yards, but he threw a pair of interceptions, as CB Eric Harris and LB Thomas Howard grabbed the picks. WR Dwight Clark caught four passes for 104 yards.

On December 26, 1993, the Chiefs lost to the Minnesota Vikings 30-10 in a Sunday night game at the Metrodome. On a Sunday when the Chiefs captured the AFC West division title before they even stepped on the field, they then played like a spot in the playoffs was wrapped up, falling behind early and never catching the Vikings. Kansas City’s only TD did not come until the fourth quarter when Dave Krieg and TE Keith Cash hooked up on a two-yard scoring play. Nick Lowery had the other points with a 42-yard FG. Minnesota RB Scottie Graham ran 33 times for 166 yards and a TD. Vikings QB Jim McMahon threw a pair of TD passes to WR Cris Carter (right).

On December 26, 1998, the Chiefs beat the Raiders 31-24 in a Saturday afternoon game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Chiefs fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter but fought their way back in the second half, scoring 24 points in the second half. RB Bam Morris had a pair of one-yard TD runs and TE Tony Gonzalez caught a 20-yard scoring pass from QB Elvis Grbac. LB Derrick Thomas returned a fumble 44 yards for a score and had two sacks. In all, the Chiefs defense had six sacks. Morris ran 17 times for 96 yards, while Grbac was 20 of 32 for 254 yards. He also threw a pair of interceptions. The victory allowed the Chiefs to finish the season with a 7-9 record, their first losing season in 10 years.

On December 26, 1999, the Chiefs lost 23-14 to the Seattle Seahawks at the Kingdome. On the day after Christmas the Chiefs got a lump of coal from the Seahawks defense that picked off three Elvis Grbac passes and sacked him four times. The Chiefs scores came on a pair of TD passes from Grbac, throwing four yards to TE Lonnie Johnson and 76 yards to WR Joe Horn (left). Seattle got a pair of TD passes from QB Jon Kitna and three FGs by K Todd Peterson.

SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …

Born on December 26, 1958 in Morehead City, North Carolina was LB Calvin Daniels. He was selected in the second round of the 1982 NFL Draft out of the University of North Carolina. Daniels spent four seasons with the Chiefs (1982-85), appearing in 57 games with 33 starts. He had 8.5 sacks and two interceptions and five recovered fumbles in those four seasons. Daniels finished his NFL career playing the 1986 season with the Redskins.

Born on December 26, 1967 in Palo Alto, California was WR Tony Hargain. He joined the Chiefs as a free agent in 1992 after spending several years on the 49ers roster, where he did not play. Hargain appeared in 12 game for the ’92 Chiefs, catching 17 passes for 205 yards. It was his only action in pro football.


16 Responses to “Roomies Face Off … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • December 26, 2009  - MenInRed says:

    And with the 4th over-all pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select “Russell Okung” Offensive Tackle out of Oklahoma State.


  • December 26, 2009  - MenInRed says:

    Russell Okung (pronounced OH-KOONG) is 6’5″ & 300lbs.

    Strengths:
    Very good height with long arms
    Thick, strong lower body
    Extremely high level of athleticism
    Patient pass protector; does not overextend
    Great lateral agility
    Quick kick step
    Consistent footwork
    Nice ankle/knee flexion
    Surprisingly physical run blocker
    Light on his feet
    Highly experienced since true freshman year
    Very durable – 34 straight starts
    Understands angles
    Recognizes stunts and blitz assignments
    Gets to second level
    Leader
    Tremendous upside
    Week 1 starting left tackle
    Franchise player
    Potential No. 1 overall pick

    Weaknesses:
    Occasionally gets too high in his stance
    Needs to gain a little more upper body strength
    Sometimes loses focus (bored with competition?)
    Can be inconsistent with leverage
    Room to improve hand punch
    Must redirect at a higher level in NFL

    Summary:
    He has all the makings of a Pro Bowl-caliber left tackle and has the upside to potentially warrant a No. 1 overall pick. If he can hone his technique slightly over the summer, I would be shocked to see him fall out of the first five picks next year barring injury. Okung has practically everything you look for in an offensive tackle.

    Player Comparison:
    Joe Thomas. Thomas and Okung have very similar frames with very good intangibles and the upside to dominate at the next level. Both had polished pass protection skills in college.


  • December 26, 2009  - el cid says:

    Not sure this is a strong draft overall. Chiefs need the best athlete at almost any position. They cannot afford a miss until the 4 round, especially after last years inability to find am impact player or starters (Jackson and Succop, and so far that is all).


  • December 26, 2009  - ThunderChief says:

    re: The roomies. It’s not a stretch to predict the senior roomie still has lessons to teach to the younger one. Most compelling reason to view this contest though is the first edition running of, “The Wrath of LJ”. Yawn. A puncher’s chance only for the Chiefs in this one.

    re: The 1st round (predicted to be #4 or #5 overall pick for the Chiefs? Okung makes too much sense for Pioli to take him here. If the TJack94 pick from last year told us anything, it’s that Pioli seems to value “Guys that help us play the way we want”, over need. I think he reaches again and takes DT Cody from ‘Bama.


  • December 26, 2009  - Danny W says:

    Heres my dream draft for the chiefs
    1st Okung/Suh
    2nd G Mike Iapatu
    2nd DE/OLB George Selvie


  • December 26, 2009  - el cid says:

    ThunderChief, interesting point of view about Pioli and drafts. He has the rep but he needs to deliver this draft. Frankly, I thought he missed big time on Jackson, more than a reach, and the rest are not players for the long term. What I do not get is how he missed so badly based on what I thought everyone knew was missing from the Chiefs, yet, his picks fit his “plan” (whatever that is) and did not do much for the team (speed, skill, or position). PS I forgot Succop but figure Mr Irrelevant was just luck over substance.


  • December 26, 2009  - arrowhead1978 says:

    Yea and I think that Jackson is only starting because he was a first rounder not because he’s an impact player.


  • December 26, 2009  - el cid says:

    Interesting part about Jackson. During the draft, he was a reach. After the draft “given” a spot at DE even tho he was a 4-3DE. Played all season long with the good time guys telling anyone who will listen how it takes YEARS to learn his position. Then the Chiefs spin “knew all along he was not an impact guy but when he developes he will be a Seymour or a lunch bucket kind of guy if never a all pro”. The ESPN guy does not consider him in the top 32 rookies even now. Add Magee, Lawrence, Williams, Washington, the MU tackle, and the TE and it would be easy to say Pioli set back his rebuild for another year. Now many say it was a year of evaluation for the coaches and players. Wonder if we got two or three more starters, we might not be saying 09 was a lost season.


  • December 26, 2009  - kb says:

    what a major disappointmet the chiefs are.


  • December 26, 2009  - cdcd says:

    Does Miami have better players overall or do they have better coaching. I don’t know the answer but my guess is better coaching. Haley was a stretch and he has failed. I hate to say it but I think the Chiefs need a proven head coach. This will set them back another year but tell me who would WANT to play for Haley?


  • December 26, 2009  - Anonymous says:

    I hate to say Herms draft ( players ) in 08 looks alot better than Pioli’s 09 . To me 09 is a flat bust …… Kicker looks like he should have been our 1st rd pick . Where is Dog ???….. he called this year to a tee . Cassel/coaching/GM/draft ……Suck……only the wins did he miss on !!!!!! I like most felt he was wrong. Dog I said wait tell the end of the season…….well its here …….You were right !!!!! I hope you read this & respond ……You deverse it . PnS


  • December 26, 2009  - ThunderChief says:

    el cid,

    Continuing the conversation on Pioli’s strategy and methods when it comes to building a team, I’ll be upfront and admit I don’t have the foggiest idea of what the guy is about or trying to do. The usual argument on teams picking in the draft is do they take the best player available or take the position needed most?

    Pioli breaks the mold. As far as I can tell based on a short sample, he does neither. I say short sample because it’s not clearly known that Pioli had final say over picks in NE whereas he now does have that power with the Chiefs.

    I think a fairly strong case could be made that his premium round picks/acquisition or Cassel (rounds 1-3) all met his criteria of ‘Helping us play the way we want’. I also feel Pioli is going for the defensive side of the ball bigtime in his premium round picks in 2010, doggedly determined to play his favored 3-4 his way.

    So, that means NT, LBs and a S in some particular order of priority either through free agency or the draft. There you go. Maybe Pioli is thinking about heavying up on defense for two drafts, then address the offense in 2011? Your guess is as good as mine.


  • December 26, 2009  - el cid says:

    “Your guess is as good as mine.” Tells the tale of Clark Hunt’s Chiefs. Since Pioli handles things like it is a military secret, I have a few guesses. First, no need for secrets, no one in the NFL would be interested or fear anything Pioli does. Unless Pioli had absolutely no idea of what the Chiefs were, his draft reflects the idea there is no sense of urgency. Using Jackson and Magee, this team does not have a prayer in heck of being any good for at least 3 more years. In the NFL that is not acceptable althought the Hunts may be content. Worse yet, what if Pioli and Haley decided they know more about football than anyone else. How arrogant would they be to just let the team fall apart for the next few years and bring aboard “their type” of player. Why did Pioli leave so much money unspent? Forget 4 TEs and off the street WRs, they just signed a S and cannot seem to find players will any untapped skills who have not played for three organizations, NE, MIA, or Phox.

    I say there is something BASICALLY wrong here. I cannot figure out what they are doing or why. I know they do not have to clear anything with me but I am not operating in a vaccuum and they seem to be. Just do not get it and giving them time is not part of the senerio.


  • December 26, 2009  - el cid says:

    Thunder Chief if you are correct two drafts in defense and then starting in 2011 work in offense, it will be 2014 before the Chiefs would start to be competitive in the AFC West much less the NFL. Does anyone really want to wait that long?? Not me. Heck, with an untimely injury or two, this team would be into 2018 before establishing a consistant winning record. What a lousy thought to start the new year.


  • December 26, 2009  - Danny W says:

    el cid and thunderchief

    Good points here guys. They did reach on Jackson and to proud to show this they will not play Magee who during his starting time has clearly showed much more ability. Some how the line on offense has held a little better but with three drafts in a row at very high picks on the defensive line and we need a bookend at our line position on offense. I dont see Adalius Thomas coming back to New England next year. He would be an upgrade over Mike Vrabel and we all know how he loves to deal with NE. Demeco Ryans is an unristricted free agent and we could also make a run at him with our cap space. Building a foundation of the franchise with the lines is perfect its what you want. The offensive line has just been ignored far to long. Brendan Albert was a good start, and I think Matt showed us last weeek that he can be an accurate thrower and a good leader in this league we have to protect him. But until then try and give them the benefit of the dought. We can still hope for Charlie Wies to come in and maybe a better D coordinator. What do you think about this draft?
    1st Okung\Suh
    2nd Iapatu\ Witherspoon
    2nd Selvie
    3rd Denario Alexander WR
    Think positive and Merry Christmas Happy New Year to all the Chief faithful.




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