Friday, the running backs donned the black tights, the quarterbacks pulled on their red jerseys and Jim Schwartz cussed somebody out. Lions training camp has begun, which means so has the search for the next James Mungro Memorial Award sponsored by (sponsor pending) winner.
For those new and old, a reminder of the competition’s rules:
- The award has to go to someone I’ve never heard of. This is particularly important in football, where college stars can find themselves as third stringers.
- He must have at least an outside chance of making the team. Playing well on special teams certainly helps.
- He has to be good.
- He can’t be a big-time prospect. In football, that means he can’t be drafted in any one of the first five rounds or be talked about as a steal in the draft.
- The name has to be catchy. James Mungro is fun to say. Just uttering the words Chris Bootcheck will make you smile. A boring name begets a boring season.
- Ideally, he would have a distinct characteristic. This is a little harder to do in football than it is in baseball, where every batting stance is unique, but I want to be able to notice the JMMA Winner. Give him a gimp leg, a gut that sticks out from under his jersey, a weird number or a 5-foo-6 height. Something to latch on to.
- No feature stories can be written about him in at least the first half of training camp. The whole point is to take an unkown guy and thrust him into the worldwide spotlight.
Some, like Rule No. 5, aren’t steadfast. The right combination of dominance and anonymity can overpower anything.
The previous champions: The Toledo Mud Hens’ Jose Alvarez, remains the overall title holder. He does haven’t to give the (non-existent) trophy back until the exact moment we name our new champion.
Current football JMMA winner Jacques McClendon has the same set of rules. Like Chris Bootcheck before him, we’ll continue to keep tabs on McClendon wherever his travels take him this year. Expect breakdowns on his preseason play with the Falcons. Last time we convened he had been moved to center.
The watch list: The ensuing lineup isn’t complete. Players will be cut and other no-namers will be added before we get to the first game.
This initial offering is meant to get you familiar with some possible candidates and give you something to pay attention to after you read about Reggie Bush wanting to have a comeback season for the 23rd time.
Much of the team was eliminated because their names sounded at least slightly familiar. Others, like Ron Bartell, were left off because they had the potential of being a good, contributing member of the team. Still others, like punter Blake Clingan, were eliminated because they are insignificant camp bodies, brought in to used and discarded like the toilet paper they are. (OK, that was kind of harsh. Blake, no disrespect.) If you see any problems with the list, whether it’s a guy too talented to be on there or someone that got overlooked, email me.
Your initial 2013 James Mungro Memorial Award sponsored by (sponsor this, please) Watch List:
Rodney Austin, G, Age: 24, one year of experience. Career NFL games: 0
Terrence Austin, WR, Age: 24, three years of experience. Career NFL games: 18 (zero since 2011)
Braylon Broughton, DE, Age: 25, one year of experience. Career NFL games: 0
Shaun Chapas, FB, Age: 25, two years of experience. Career NFL games: 6 (one start). We’re investigating whether that one start disqualifies Chapas from contention. It came last year. With the Lions.
Alex Elkins, LB, Age: 22, rookie, undrafted free agent
Joseph Fauria, TE, Age: 23, rookie, undrafted free agent
Corey Fuller, WR, Age: 23, rookie, drafted in the sixth round. He barely clipped the Rule 4 restrictions.
Corey Greenwood, LB, Age: 28, four years of experience. Career NFL games: 48 (zero starts). He might be too good of special teams ace to make the next cut, but he deserved to make the list because he was the third overall pick of the 2010 CFL draft and his Wikipedia page describes him as a middle linebacker/long snapper. Greenwood may be the only MLB/LS ever.
Derek Hardman, T, Age: 26, three years of experience. Career NFL games: 15 (four starts, all in 2010 with Tampa Bay).
Brandon Hepburn, LB, Age: 23, rookie, drafted in the seventh round.
Austin Holtz, T, Age: 23, rookie, undrafted free agent
Domonique Johnson, DB, Age: 27, five years experience. Career NFL games: 10. Five years into his career, he’s already ridden the bench for seven teams.
Tyrell Johnson, DB, Age: 28, six years of experience. Career NFL games: 53 (15 in the last two years)
Darren Keyton, G, Age: 23, rookie, undrafted free agent
DeQuan Menzie, CB, Age: 23, two years of experience. Career NFL games: 0
Steven Miller, RB, Age: 22, rookie, undrafted free agent
Jon Morgan, LB, Age: 23, rookie, undrafted free agent
Spencer Nealy, DE, Age: 22, rookie undrafted free agent
Martavius Neloms, S, Age: 21, rookie undrafted free agent
Ogemdi Nwagbuo, DT, Age: 27, four years of experience. Career NFL games: 36 (nine since 2010). He was working at Enterprise Rent-A-Car in 2009 when the Chargers signed him.
Jimmy Saddler-McQueen, DT, Age: 25, three years of experience. Career NFL games: 2
Michael Spurlock, WR, Age: 30, six years of experience. Career NFL games: 56 (two starts). The Chris Bootcheck Award winner, given to the oldest player in the competition.
Devin Thomas, WR, Age: 26, five years of experience. Career NFL games: 55 (zero in 2012 and zero starts since 2009)
Matt Veldman, TE, Age: 24, two years of experience. Career NFL games: 0
LaAdrian Waddle, T, Age: 22, rookie undrafted free agent
Michael Williams, TE, Age: 22, rookie drafted in the seventh round.
Matt Willis, WR, Age: 29, six years of experience. Career NFL games: 43 (one start).
Cody Wilson, WR, Age: 22, rookie undrafted free agent.
The breakdown: 28 players total; six wide receivers; five offensive linemen; four defensive backs; four linebackers; three tight ends; two defensive ends; two defensive tackles; one running back; and one lonely fullback.
The cuts will be swift and merciless. Dreams will die. Lives will be ruined. That’s the price I’m willing to pay in awarding the second-most prestigious fake award on the internet.
The competition begins two weeks from now when the Lions play the Jets. Until then, watch the transaction list and hope you don’t see your favorite’s name in the newspaper.