August, 15, 2005
I think one of the NFL's top selling jerseys this year will be one of the Cardinals' new jerseys, with the Nos. 13 or 11 on back. Didn't you see the numbers from 'Zona's first preseason game?

Kurt Warner: 14-of-19, 151 yards, one TD.

Larry Fitzgerald: Five catches for 81 yards, one TD.

Strange times in Phoenix these days as Cardinals fans -- all, what, 11,000 of them? -- actually have expectations. Who knows how they'll handle them when the regular season rolls around. The preseason, of course, is for suckers. But it was hard not to watch Warner in his three-receiver sets winging it downfield to streaking wideouts and not recall his past performances.

So back to the jersey thing. The usual names always sell -- Vick, Brady, Lewis, Tomlinson, Owens, Moss, McNabb, etc. But every year there are a few guys who sneak in, like Big Ben. So here are the guys whose jerseys I think will crack the sales lists this year:

5. Derrick Johnson, Chiefs LB, No. 56: All my fellow NFL sportswriters are already claiming he'll be Defensive Rookie of the Year. Even Dick Vermeil, who knows better than to gush over rookies, has been praising him.

4. Pacman Jones, Titans DB, No. 32: Fans love misfits. He's already a first-teamer in that area.

3. Willis McGahee, Bills RB, No. 21: Once J.P. Losman gets the passing game going, which might take a while, McGahee could average 110 yards a game. But until then, teams will key in on him.

2. Tatum Bell, Broncos RB, No. 26: You'll see a lot of these, possibly some of which will be old Portis jerseys from fans who don't want to drop another $120 for Sunday wear. But Bell showed the ability to break runs last year and could be Denver's Next Great System Back.

1. Warner, Cardinals QB, No. 13: I'm telling you. He's not done yet.

My Wife Left Me, My Dog Died, and …
You get one night off and you get arrested? It's like the title for a bad country song. It's also true for two Chiefs players, safety Greg Wesley and defensive lineman Junior Siavii. Given Saturday night off, Siavii allegedly threw objects and yelled at a hotel security guard, and spit at police after being handcuffed. Wesley, noticing that his teammate was being hauled off, allegedly blocked the doors. But police, like most NFL receivers, were not deterred by Wesley's line of defense.

Sat around eating pizza on Saturday night with some pals, two of whom -- I'll call one Smack and the other Del -- are diehard Lions fans who watched Joey Harrington's 9-for-9, 100-yard preseason opener. I asked what they thought of Harrington's performance. "It was the worst 9-for-9 you've ever seen," Smack smacked.

Smack and Del pointed out that on Harrington's first drive, the Lions reached the Jets' 15-yard line but were knocked out of field-goal range after Harrington took two sacks. Then, on the next possession, Harrington couldn't find anyone open on third-and-goal and Detroit had to settle for a field goal.

I didn't see the game, so I can't add any detail. I skimmed some Detroit papers, and generally he got good grades. But is anything more symbolic of the pressure Harrington is under this year, assuming my two pals don't hold anomalous takes? Nine for nine in a preseason opener and they're still shaking their heads. I asked them if they thought Harrington has what it takes. Both sounded iffy, and then Smack leveled the worst thing you can say about a pro player: "He was a helluva college player, though."