Legendary Pittsburgh Steelers radio announcing sidekick Myron Cope died today in a Pittsburgh-area nursing home at the age of 79 after a lengthy illness. If you were a Steelers fan at any time in the past 40 years, you would have instantly recognized Cope’s voice, which team president Art Rooney II described as “synonymous with Steelers football.” Cope invented the “Terrible Towel,” among other signature items, including colorful expressions to describe plays and players. His most famous coined phrase was “The Immaculate Reception,” which he christened the catch made by Franco Harris off a deflected pass by Terry Bradshaw in a playoff game with Oakland in 1972. Cope once convinced Frank Sinatra to attend a Steelers practice as a member of “Franco’s Italian Army,” the de facto Franco Harris fan club of the time. Cope retired from broadcasting in 2004 due to ill health, after having sat behind the mike doing Steelers radio broadcasts since 1970. Before that, he was a widely acclaimed freelance sports writer.
Archives for February 2008
Listed by NFL.com as a wide receiver, not a cornerback, ex-Nittany Lion Justin King showed his stuff in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis today. His official time of 4.31 was tops for wide receivers and tied for best among cornerbacks. Only East Carolina running back Chris Johnson recorded a better official time, 4.24.
His other top performance was in the broad jump, proving that like a true Penn Stater, Justin can jump broads. But seriously, though, King jumped 10’7″, good enough to tie for third among wide receivers.
Today is Justin King’s day at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Will he be King for a Day? Did he make a mistake in leaving PSU with one year of eligibility on the table? Will the Sandusky/Bradley soft zone coverage scheme he played as a Nittany Lion hamper his performance in the eyes of NFL scouts? Perhaps today’s workouts will answer some of those questions.
King, although listed in NFL.com as a wide receiver, is among 36 cornerbacks participating in the Combine. (Unless NFL.com has listed some others as offensive tackles or something.)
I must digress for a moment to report that Dan Connor left the combine without doing his position drills. He caught a nasty dose of the flu, which it seems is particularly virulent this year, especially in the north.
Back to King, I would expect him to shine in the 40-yard dash. Raw speed might be his best asset in the NFL’s eyes, inasmuch as his cover skills were largely undeveloped in Penn State’s secondary, where King started for the past two years after having been relegated to wide receiver for his first year. Billed as a shut-down corner, he often seemed out of position in pass coverage during 2007.
King is likely to be a project for some NFL team, much like Alan Zemaitis was a couple of years ago. Zemaitis was an NFL failure. This Turkey thought that his best chance would be with a zone-oriented defense such as Tampa Bay’s. He got his chance with that very team; however, he was unable to cope with NFL speed and often got turned around on the field. He washed out after two years of sitting on the far end of the Buccaneers’ bench. Well, hell, the view of the Tampa Bay Swashbucklers, the cheerleading squad, is better there, and Tampa Bay has some total hotties.
On the other hand, Penn State has been able to produce NFL cornerbacks in the past—but damn few. David Macklin is the only Nittany Lion cornerback playing in the NFL right now. He’s been in the league for eight years and he was a starter for several seasons.
Here is what NFLDraftScout.com has to say about King’s strengths and weaknesses:
Positives: Physically, has everything scouts are looking for. Tight skinned, athletic build, good size and rare straight-line speed. … Smooth hip turn in transition to stick with receivers out of their breaks. … Versatile athlete who has seen time at wide receiver. … Shows the ability to pluck the ball out of the air. … Flashes explosiveness as a hitter.
Negatives: Left out on an island in 2007 and really struggled down the stretch. … Has the athleticism to run with any receiver in the country, but seemed to struggle with more refined route-runners. … Too often seemed satisfied with breaking up passes when opportunities for interceptions were there. … Finished 2007 with 15 passes broken up and only two interceptions. … Not particularly aggressive or physical in run support.
Let’s hope for King’s sake that his tight skin doesn’t keep his legs from running a great 40, as the speed aspect seems to be his greatest selling point.
I’ll be back later with comments on King’s drills.