Jason Campbell's Ugly Slides Make Zorn Embarrassed
The classic Jim Zorn Is Quirky storyline remains his famous slip-and-slide, debuted with baseball's Frank Tanana in Detroit and perfected with baseball's John Olerud in Seattle. It made for great photo-ops, and it cemented Zorn's reputation for being the anti-Belichick, but it was also supposed to teach awkward men how to slide with grace.
Last week, after nine months of lessons, we got to see exactly now well Jason Campbell can now slide.
"Hilarious," Colt Brennan said.
"An implosion, almost," described Pete Kendall.
"He's probably the worst slider in the league," Randy Thomas said.
"That was ugly," Campbell agreed.
"Oh, so embarrassed," Zorn said this week, when asked about the results of his fabled teaching methods. "Did you see it? Ok, enough said. That was SO bad. But anyway, we'll work on that. I'm gonna have renewed energy. I'm gonna put some new feeling into the way I coach him sliding."
Campbell equaled his career high with six carries against the Seahawks, and set a season high by gaining 32 yards. He said he enjoys running, and he's had highlight-reel moments, like when he two-stepped over Cowboys safety Pat Watkins earlier this month. Campbell played baseball as a kid, and said he "was able to slide back then, but I was about 7 inches shorter." Then he moved onto basketball, where he was more interested in "shaking people."
Which led to this: an aborted slip-and-slide drill during training camp, when he caught a cleat and crumpled to the ground. A succession of actual NFL plays that have ended with Campbell folding up upon himself and going to the ground in pieces, a robot giraffe attempting to breakdance on turf. And the ultimate embarrassment, when opponents actually made fun of his fourth-quarter flop last week.
"The options were try to run through three defenders that's about to blow me up, or just fall back on my back, ugly," Campbell said. "And I just fell back. And then the Seattle Seahawks players were laughing, they was laughing at me. I think Deon Grant walked up behind me, talking about 'Campbell, that's the worst slide ever. You need to slide. SLIDE! What are you doing?' "
So why is it so hard for him? Why can't he just slide like a normal quarterback, I asked him, more rudely than I intended.
"You're right, like a normal quarterback," Campbell said. "I don't know."
"Well, he's 6-foot-infinity," Mike Sellers explained. "It's a long ways down to the ground from where he's at."
"It's kind of just an unnatural thing," said a sympathetic Eli Manning in a conference call. "Everybody has their own technique. You know, I rarely do the feet-first slide; I kind of do a slide-and-turn....It never looks real pretty and guys get on you just for sliding, but it's the smart thing to do. So as long as you do it and you get up healthy, there's no bad way to do it."
That, actually, is Zorn's main concern. He said that running through and past defenders is safer than crumpling at their feet. Brennan said he never slides, and that Campbell looks like a guy who's trying not to slide but at the same time his body's sliding."
"I don't want him to get hurt," Zorn said. "Obviously, nobody does. But you know, if he can't learn to fall better, he's gonna hurt himself."
In the meantime, there are 300-pound teammates offering advice, which, in the absence of Frank Tanana, will have to suffice.
"He needs to work on it," Randy Thomas said. "Probably at home, on carpet, with some socks."
Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | November 28, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse
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