The ESPN commentator and former Super Bowl-winning quarterback tackles questions about the NFL's new rule changes, Terrell Owens, motorcycle accidents, and Monday Night Football. By Ryan Collins
What do you like about this season in the NFL?
Some of the changes that took place from an officiating standpoint are better. … First of all, they want to protect the quarterback and make sure that what happened to Carson Palmer is legislated out. [But] it's going to be tough to do it - protecting in the pocket and not allowing defenders to go toward the knees or below the knees.
Also, being able to review a call that rules a man down by contact. It used to be nonreviewable - if a guy was called down by contact and the other team recovered the ball, it didn't matter, because the whistle was blown. Now that's a challengeable thing, and I think that's very good for defenses.
Any concerns with the league right now?
The Terrell Owens thing scares me. He forced the Philadelphia Eagles to get rid of him. Now will other receivers - like we saw with Deion Branch holding out or with Jerry Porter's unhappiness in Oakland - do the same? … Will players in the National Football League view Terrell Owens and say, "What if I become a big enough pain in the rear to a football team? Maybe I give up half a year's salary, but I'm going to be such a problem to this team that they're going to be forced to get rid of me." I think it forces coaches and owners to make some very, very tough decisions regarding guys who are unhappy members of a football team.
Why is it that wide receivers appear to be causing the most problems?
It’s a bit coincidental. Wide receivers tend not to sign contracts of the length that quarterbacks sign, so what happens is you wind up with a year or two on a contract. In Terrell’s case, the contract he signed in Philadelphia was a seven-year deal, and he wanted out after the first year of it. He was underpaid, no question. But Brad Johnson, the quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings, is about the 40th-[highest]-paid quarterback in the league at $1.2 million. There are rookies that are making more money than Brad Johnson, and he’s taken three teams to the play-offs.
What’s with the off-season motorcycle accidents over the past few years?
As a football player, you think you’re invincible — and that’s what happened to Ben Roethlisberger. He thought he was invincible on the football field because he won a world championship. Then you carry that over into society, forgetting that there are factors out there that don’t care whether you won a Super Bowl. All of a sudden, you wind up being susceptible to society. … It also happens to guys when they leave the game. We don’t have a senior tour in football. … There’s a finality that is very sudden and very difficult for a lot of players, and it carries over in the way we transfer ourselves from the game into what I call the real world.
Finally, how’s Monday Night Football on ESPN working out for you?
By the time everybody reads this, I’ll have done one of two things: I’ll either have killed Tony Kornheiser, or we will have gotten along great. One of those two things will have happened, and I’m sure it will have been the latter.