A four-year starter at Wisconsin, running back Anthony Davis scored 42 touchdowns and rushed for 4,676 yards, second in school history only to Ron Dayne, college football's all-time leading rusher.
The only thing that slowed him down at Wisconsin were injuries — a fractured orbital socket and a thigh contusion. Davis graduated with degrees in elementary education and African-American studies and carried a 4.0 GPA into his senior year. These days, Davis works in Charlotte as a case worker for The Right Choice, an organization that mentors disadvantage youth.
He told me that the level of competition in pre-season NFL games is higher than the Canadian Football League's regular season. He joked about the long classes at Wisconsin's School of Education. And as P.J. Hill gets set to start his much-anticipated second season at Wisconsin tomorrow, Davis advised him to stay humble, despite the magazine covers and Heisman Trophy hype.
Below is our full conversation:
As a freshman, you were the Big Ten's leading rusher and set the NCAA freshman record for 100-yard games with 10. Was it difficult to face sky-high expectations as a sophomore?
It wasn't difficult to face expectations, but there were a lot of people who kept talking about the "sophomore jinx" and all that stuff.
What advice do you have for sophomore P.J. Hill, who seeks to continue his successful freshman year?
As long as you keep the same blue collar/work hard mentality it wont be a problem. That's the advice I would give to P.J., just to stay humble, hungry and hard working.
Which was harder: returning to campus as a sophomore and running for more yards than Ron Dayne did in his second year, or holding a 4.0 grade-point average?
I would have to say holding a 4.0 GPA. Being a student-athlete can take a toll on your body, which can take an effect on the mind. The classes in the School of Education were extra long so that made it even more challenging. LOL
Critics love writing off the NFL pre-season as meaningless. You played in pre-season games for the Indianapolis Colts. As a player trying desperately to make the team, did you feel like you were working harder than the veteran players?
I didn't feel like I was necessarily working harder than the vets, but I for sure had more of a sense of urgency because they had secure jobs, and I was fighting for one.
In 2006, you played with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League. How does the level of play in the CFL compare to NFL pre-season football?
The CFL is not as competitive as the NFL, but it's a different game with different rules, salary cap and so on.
August 31, 2007
A four-year starter at Wisconsin, running back Anthony Davis scored 42 touchdowns and rushed for 4,676 yards, second in school history only to Ron Dayne, college football's all-time leading rusher.
August 30, 2007
Soon, it will have real programing.
Until then, Marnie & I are going to go out and enjoy the earth's last two hours of life before the Big Ten Network.
Everyone knows that Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was caught soliciting sex at a bathroom in the Minneapolis airport. But as someone who lives and works a few blocks from Union Station, I feel that the train depot's importance in this story is being overlooked — reportedly he used the bathrooms at Union Station for the same sort of thing.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and some other prominent Republicans have called on Craig to resign from Congress. The party leadership says it is not because Craig is gay, but because he withheld the information.
But that makes it sound like the Senate Republican leadership would have been welcoming of the news of Craig's homosexuality otherwise.
I'm not defending Craig's lewd behavior in a public place. But it's not like he wants to sneak around in airport or train station bathrooms.
My assumption is that gay people, much like straight people, would prefer to have sex in places that are more comfortable and smell better than bathroom stalls. They do it, presumably, for the anonymity. (Footage of a senator checking into a hotel by the hour might arise suspicion the way that a long bathroom break doesn't.)
Anyway, assuming that Craig is indeed gay (his explanation about his "wide stance" on the toilet cast doubt on his denial), it's pretty easy to see why he was keeping it a secret from his political party.
August 28, 2007
Columnist Bob Novak came under attack for blowing the cover of CIA operative Valerie Plame1 in 2003. For years, he did not name the sources who gave him the information about Plame.2
Interestingly, Novak has recently come under attack for naming a source that critics think he should have kept secret.
Even Novak's detractors have to admit the irony here.
During the 1972 presidential campaign, Novak wrote a column quoting a "liberal senator" who warned that George McGovern's surging popularity was based on public ignorance of his political stances. "The people don't know McGovern is for amnesty, abortion and legalization of pot," the senator said, according to Novak. The column labeled McGovern a "Triple A" candidate who backed "amnesty, abortion and acid" — a phrase that haunted McGovern's campaign against Richard Nixon.
About 30 years after Novak's story ran, the columnist asked his source if he could identify him publicly. The senator wrote back: "Dear Bob, what I told you ... was off the record, and I still consider it that way."
The source died this spring, and Novak divulged the name in his memoirs: Thomas Eagleton.3
Should Eagleton's death have released Novak from keeping his name secret?
1Later, we learned that the sources were Richard Armitage and Karl Rove.
2Everyone seems to use her maiden name, but I'm pretty sure that her legal name has been Valerie Wilson since 1998.
3Not knowing that it was Eagleton who provided Novak with the damaging quotes, McGovern briefly chose him to be his presidential running-mate. Soon after, a health scandal caused McGovern to choose Sargent Shriver instead.
This is an exciting development, since the biggest reason why I don't buy papers when I walk by a row of newspaper boxes is that I don't carry around spare change.
August 27, 2007
The other day, the Texas Rangers beat the Baltimore Orioles 30-3.
Rangers pitcher Wes Littleton was credited with the save, because he pitched the last three innings for the winning team.
Since saves are the only conventional measurement of relief pitching accomplishment, and since they involve the final out of the game, the stat has convinced teams to use their best relief pitchers exclusively at the very end of games.
But which scenario would you rather have your best pitcher on the mound?
Leading 3-1 with the bases loaded in the 8th inning.
The same 3-1 game with the bases empty in the 9th inning.
Any relief pitcher can handle Scenario B, but only the very best pitchers can help the team in Scenario A.
(There's nothing innovative about my position here. There are entire books, after all, espousing this very stance.)
Yet most teams save their best reliever for Scenario B, using any old guy to handle Scenario A.
August 25, 2007
The 2007 MTV Video Music Awards will be held at the Palms Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in a couple weeks. I'll be in town that day, but since Eric refuses to get me tickets, I'll probably be spending the event pressed up against the theater door trying to listen to the announcement of who won the award for Best Rock Video. Wait, they don't issue that one anymore. Best Rap Video? They don't give that one out either.
Instead, here are three awards to be presented at this year's event: Most Earth-Shattering Collaboration, Quadruple Threat Of The Year and Monster Single Of The Year.
August 23, 2007
Pretty much every voyage in the Age of Exploration was financed by royalty demanding better-tasting food.1
I'm not saying that Portugal wouldn't have found India by now, but Europeans tired of lackluster food were glad navigator Vasco Da Gama came along when he did. Same thing for China and Marco Polo. And Indonesia and Ferdinand Magellan.
Anyway, many good men died in search of something to improve the crappy food of the day.
If only they could see what life is like now.
Wisconsin-based Penzeys Spices has opened a D.C.-area trading post on Rockville Pike.
All the spices of the world.
Right there in little canisters selling for $1.49.
And the aisles are not even very crowded.
1They demanded other stuff too, of course, like silk, slaves and religious converts.
August 21, 2007
Frank A. Reichelderfer, a former real estate attorney whose powerful clients included the iconic Marshall Fields department store and the Kennedy political dynasty, died Saturday. He was 88.
Frank developed the first Chicago-area shopping centers for Marshall Fields,1 helped write the Illinois condominium law and oversaw the conversion of the John Hancock Center from a rental to a mixed-use condominium.
Unfortunately for me, I was too young to have seen him in his prime. I didn't know him during those days.
When Marnie & I got married, Frank's health had already begun to decline. But he made the trip to Wisconsin and, ever the gregarious baritone, sang at our rehearsal dinner in front of our family and friends.
1Click here to see my earlier commentary on Marshall Fields, the store that invented the "no-questions-asked" return policy, the in-store escalator, the bridal registry, public book-signings and the bargain basement
Today, Ann Althouse discusses the lowest-ever approval rating of Congress: 18 percent.
She reasons that congressional approval is bound to be low these days considering that it was these very people who — as candidates running for office — taught us to hate Washington politicians.
It's a good point.
ROCKVILLE, Md. — For the first time in my life, I passed by Eastern Motors, where your job is your credit.
The crude production values of the dealership's commercials makes the jingles so catchy that they've been in my head ever since Marnie & I drove by the store.
Those of you who don't live in the D.C. area should click here to watch one of the many Eastern Motors ads. Here's another one. There are many more, but you get the point.
August 20, 2007
MADISON, Wis. — As we rushed to Gate 9 at Truax Field in April,1 we passed the souvenir shop and Marnie mentioned that she found this t-shirt very funny.
Later, I had time to go back to the store and buy it for her.
But I didn't. I just couldn't pull the trigger.
Instead I took this picture. Let's see if it makes her happy...
1Why didn't I post this back in April, then? Well, I forgot about it. And then I came across the photo and remembered the story.
August 17, 2007
Growing up, I used to watch SportsCenter every morning. Afterward, I'd walk to school earlier than needed, stopping first at a friend's house, where we would watch the re-airing of the SportsCenter episode I'd already seen.
It has been about 10 years since I've watched the show for more than a minute or two. Its stream of forced catch-phrases and inane chatter about useless topics drove me away long ago. The show isn't about news or highlights anymore, it is instead a steady diet of filler segments such as "Fact Or Fiction?" "Contender or Pretender?" or "Who's Now?" in which two or more hosts see which can rattle off the most cliches.
Did the network dumb itself down or have I simply outgrown it?
My television tastes have evolved, of course, but I firmly believe I would still love ESPN if it remained the network I fell in love with in the early 1990s, Dan Patrick's heyday as a studio host.
Patrick popularized the model of calling highlights using catch-phrases. Gradually, no one on TV called a home run or a touchdown "straight," without adding a special saying.
Ironically, the new wave of sportscasters is drowning out Patrick on his own network — he is leaving ESPN today, and the 12-year-olds who watch SportsCenter probably won't notice.
A single Dan Patrick was great for ESPN, but a channel full of them is unwatchable.
This scenario reminds me of Bob Woodward's effect on news reporting. Woodward did great things for journalism as a whole. After Watergate, everyone wanted to be a reporter in his mold.
However, while an influx of hungry reporters helps the media world, an entire generation of writers who insist on using anonymous sourcing — a fleet of mini-Woodwards, if you will — is not good for newspapers or the profession.
August 16, 2007
I mentioned in April that after realizing that I'd seen each episode of 90210 at least 12 billion times, I decided to watch reruns of The O.C. instead.
Marnie got sucked in too, and this week we finished watching the four-season series, leaving me with some extra time to examine the night clubs on the two programs.
Marnie asserts that The O.C.'s Bait Shop drew better musical acts than 90210's Peach Pit After Dark. Let's see if she is right.
(Note: I'm not including bands that appeared on 90210 but played other venues, such as the Rolling Stones, the Goo Goo Dolls, Color Me Badd and Baby Face. For that matter, I'm only listing some of the groups that played the After Dark, since there are so many.)
- Barenaked Ladies
- Flaming Lips
- The Brian Setzer Orchestra
- Jamie Walters
- Blind Boys of Alabama
- The Corrs
- Donna Lewis
- Luther Vandross
- Brian McKnight
- Jamie Blake
- Dick Dale
- Duncan Sheik
- Wild Orchid
- Powerman 5000
- Collective Soul
- Christina Aguilera
- Beth Hart
- Edwin McCain
- The Walkmen
- Death Cab for Cutie
- The Killers
- Modest Mouse
- The Thrills
- Tom Vek
- The Subways
- Rachael Yamagata
By comparison, the After Dark mostly brought in mainstream groups (although its 1993 booking of the Flaming Lips was ahead of its time). But due to the longevity of 90210, the After Dark booked far more concerts.
The music of the current decade (whatever we're calling it) is more interesting than music from the 1990s, which makes a final rating difficult. Let's call it a draw.
August 15, 2007
LEWES, Del. — It's time to say goodbye to this sleepy beach town. Since I spent the past week living in a house next to R&L Liquors, it is appropriate to end the Delaware posts with a picture of that store's front window (with a reflection of the Rodney Hotel across the street).
August 14, 2007
LEWES, Del. — It can be hard to follow the law here.
In some areas, drivers must park to avoid being towed. Other parking spots have meters.
If visitors don't have the proper amount of quarters, they can wait to get ticketed and then use the convenient Duncan Pay-O-Meters® (located on the meters themselves) to deposit the parking fine.
This town has thought of everything.
August 13, 2007
On national telecasts, Pittsburgh sports teams are abbreviated PIT.
But Pittsburgh's own CBS affiliate uses PGH instead.
(I watched this weekend's Pittsburgh vs. Green Bay pre-season game on the NFL Network, which picked up KDKA's feed for the game.)
(And for those not familiar with the term "score bug," it refers to the digital on-screen graphic that displays the score. I don't know why it's called a score bug.)
August 12, 2007
On closer inspection, though, some of the facts on the gravestones are dubious. Was Elizabeth H. Cullen really born on February 30, 1760?
August 11, 2007
You may recall that I found it charming last year that the Washington Nationals traveled via Amtrak to get home from New York after a series against the Mets.
Today, I learned from the Washington Post that David Beckham and his Los Angeles Galaxy teammates partied Thursday night at IndeBleu with members of D.C. United, the Galaxy's opponent just hours earlier.
August 10, 2007
LEWES, Del. — Josh is not a foodie, so I was skeptical when he recommended a place to eat while in Lewes.
After all, Josh eats the same thing every day. He doesn't get excited about spicy food, new food or trendy food.
Still, he called Striper Bites the site of the best meal he had ever eaten, so we felt compelled to follow his advice. And we're glad we did.
We had a great meal. Thank you to Josh for the recommendation.
August 09, 2007
The Wall Street Journal's parent company agrees to sell to Rupert Murdoch and look what happens: the newspaper embraces Yiddish on the front page of a section.
(The article is about the "schmutz" found on dirty airplanes.)
MILTON, Del. — At the Dogfish Head brewery, located here in what the company calls "Butt-Scratch, Delaware," business is hopping. Tours can't keep up with demand, making it hard for visitors to fit in the same room as the guide.
Nevertheless, the tour did conclude with unlimited servings of Festiva Peche, Chicory Stout and the 60-Minute IPA. Oh, and a game of bocce.
August 08, 2007
The San Francisco Chronicle had a good re-cap of the scramble to catch the Barry Bonds home-run ball, caught by 22-year-old Matt Murphy of Queens, N.Y.:
One woman, Amanda Nunez, tried to pull the ball from Murphy. "I was holding on to his arm, I was trying to get the ball," Nunez said. She ended up holding a flip-flop that she believes belongs to Murphy. It wasn't the ball, but it was something. Maybe, she said, it was even a collector's item.
One young fan, 15-year-old Mark Jackson of Philadelphia, fell for the fake ball trick -- during big home run scrambles, mischievous fans are known to toss other balls into the area to watch the resulting chaos. Jackson picked up one of the fake balls, stuffed it into his pants and then headed below the bleachers to consult with security guards, who broke the bad news.
August 07, 2007
LEWES, Del. — Marnie & I like vacationing off the beaten path, so to speak, but my dad doesn't like going somewhere that he can't get the New York Times.
I'm looking in your direction, Bethany Beach, Del.
Same with you, Chincoteague, Va.
Here in the first city in the first state, the New York Times arrives at 7 a.m. at the Lewes Bake Shoppe. All is well.
August 06, 2007
LEWES, Del. — For the next few days, I'll be filing reports from the first city in the first state. Upon arriving, we learned that the state is named after Baron De La Warr (aka Thomas West, governor of Virginia). We also went to the beach. And ate ice cream.
So far, so good.
August 05, 2007
August 04, 2007
John McCain's presidential campaign is broke, haven't you heard?
His entourage is dwindling these days. He is forced to carry his own suitcases.
Correspondent LAL ran into the Arizona senator yesterday afternoon at National Airport, and both of the legislator's hands were full of suitcases.
August 03, 2007
In April 2006, archaeologists discovered a 1,500-year-old pyramid near Mexico City.
In October 2006, officials unearthed an Aztec altar and monolith. They found it right smack in the middle of Mexico City. Not near the city. Not in an outlying area. They found this stuff a few steps from the main square.
The latest news on this front came this week, when construction workers in a Mexico City neighborhood called Iztapalapa came across ruins of an Aztec pyramid right by a central plaza.
It is amazing that Mexican City archaeologists are still coming across such significant finds. I mean, with 30 million people walking around every day, it's stunning to think that there are still Aztec pyramids that we don't know about.
Then again, perhaps the gigantic population is the answer. That is, maybe there are too many damn people in the way for anyone to see what's there.
Take a look at the picture above (click to enlarge). That was the street by my hotel. There was nothing in particular going on at the time — that was the normal street traffic!
For more Mexico City pictures, take a look at Exhibit A and Exhibit B.
August 02, 2007
Ever since the Washington Nationals introduced the live-action 4th inning Presidents Race last July, I've been calling for new contestants.
They could recreate classic presidential races, such as Kennedy vs. Nixon, or pit the 2008 candidates against each other.
In a feature that ran this week on WETA, team owner Mark Lerner said: "We're looking in the future at having additional presidents."
This is very exciting news.
August 01, 2007
While at the Shakespeare Theater the other day, Marnie seemed fascinated by the program so I decided to flip through it myself. In the list of donors to the theater were many luminaries, including former House Speaker-elect Bob Livingston (R-La.) and George Stephanopoulos of ABC News.
One name that caught my eye in the $10,000-to-$14,999 category was Miss Chelsea Clinton.
There's no question that Chelsea has some money, especially now that she's a hotshot consultant at McKinsey & Co and her dad is touring the world giving speeches at $200,000 a pop. Still, that's a lot of money to donate. How many other 27-year-olds gave $10,000 to the Shakespeare Theater?