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November 07, 1993 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-11-07

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The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, November 8, 1993 - 3

The one-time Wolverine wideout
" discusses life in the NFL

Close But No Sugiura

Greg McMurtry was a standout
wide receiverforMichigan from 1986
to 1989, earning All-American hon-
ors his senior year. He was drafted by
the New England Patriots (he was
also a first-round choice of the Bos-
ton RedSox coming out ofhigh school)
and now is playing his fifth year with
the Pats.
fao, McMurry had 22 receptions, 241
yards and one touchdown., ranking him
among the NFL's top 25 in receptions.
Recently, Daily Sports WriterScon
Burton spoke withMcMurtryabouthis
footballcareer with the Patriots.
Daily: In terms of your first four
years in the NFL, are you happy with
the way your career is going?
McMurtry: Somewhat... it'sbeen
pretty up and down. We haven't been
winning so ithasn'tbeen toomuch fun.
Hopefully we can get things turned
around. You justhavetoworkthrough
it week to week, and every week is a
new challenge.
Things are getting a little better;
they're a little stagnant right now, but
hopefully Ican get through thatand get
things turnedaround.
D: Has it been tough to play for a
struggling team all these years?
M: Yeah, everyone doesn'twin in
the NFL. I'm not the only one who's
going through a tough time - other
teams, you look at like a Phoenix or a
Tampa Bay - I'm sure those players
arehaving atough timealso. Everyone
doesn't'get to play for the champion-
ship-contending teams.
D: Wheneveryonelastyearlooked
at your offense and saw that it was
second to last in the NFL, the com-
mon assumption was that there just
wasn't a whole lot of talent in any of
the skill positions. Do you feel that is
M: I don't think so. Last year we
used four different quarterbacks, the
line was a little bit shaken up -
whenever you have that it's not going
to make the running game and the
passing game look all too impressive,
because there is no cohesiveness.
I think what a lot of people don't
realize is thateverything starts up front
and when they are going through some
trouble there is not going to be much
cohesiveness, therefore the offense is
not going to run the way it should.
D: Whatkindof feedback have you
gotten from the coaches and the scouts
as to how you're progressing in the
;M: Really they don't talk to you
much. As I said, this is a day-to-day
business. One week you can be a hero,
andthe next Sunday they mightnotbe
*in too much love with you. You just
have to getbetter every week because
if you don't, you can be in trouble.
You can lose your spot, lose your job.
Youlcan'tworry too much about what
they're thinking. Youjust have to try to
do your best every week.
D: Doyouever feel that if youwere
playing on a more prolific offense,

say a Houston or a San Francisco, you
mightbe atadifferent level than where
you are now?
M: That could be the case, but I
don't really deal with the 'what ifs'
because you can do that with every-
thing. But you're not really handling
reality the way youshouldandthatis to
take ithead on.
D: How would you evaluate the
1993 season for you on a personal
level? Has this been your most pro-
ductive year?
M:At some points, yes. I started
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M: He's an intelligent guy with a
lot of talent. He's only going to get
better with the more games he plays
I thinkhe's going to bean outstanding
quarterback and really make the of-
fense a lot better.
When you have a guy with the
kind of tools Drew has, you can get
away with a few more mistakes as
opposed to someone who might not
have the skills he has. The margin of
error is a little bit greater.
D: What was your reaction when
you found out that Irving Fryar and

Hart Lee Dykes were not returning to
the team?
M: That's the nature of the busi-
ness, constant change. One year you
mightfitintothe team's plans and one
year you may not. At first it's kind of
hardto deal with that, to witness that,
but after a while you get used to it
because that's the way things go.
D: As the elder statesman in the
Patriots' passing game, doyou feel that
there is some responsibility on your
shoulder to guide the group?
M: Somewhat, but they have
4' ...r
coaches for'that also. They get paid just
like everyone else so I can only do so
much. The best thing I can do, and thte
thing thatlI'm trying to do, is to goocut
and practice hard and play hard and let
everything else take care of itself.
D: What about Bill Parcells? How
has the team changed under his guid-
M: We're a tougher team and I
think we are just abetter team overall
than last year, although we're not get-
ting any wins from this improvement
and the bottom line is wins and losses.
I think if it were not for a few
mistakes here and there, we might
end up with a few more wins.
D:Doyoufeelasense ofattxhment
to the Pahriots, in the same way John
Elway might have with the Broncos?

M: No, because it is the nature of
the business. I think there are but a
handful of people around the league
who consider themselves lifelong, do
or die, for any particular organization
- people like a Marino, or like you
said, Elway, maybe Troy Aikman now
-those types of people could sit back
and say 'Well, you know chances are
that I'm going to be a Dolphin, Cow-
boy or Bronco for the restofmy career
and I have a sense of loyalty.'
Other than guys like that, you're
obligated to do yourjob because that's
what you're getting paid to do and do it
the best you can but - not to sound
harsh -- I don't think you owe the
organization anything more than that.
D: Have you had any thoughts
about reconnecting with your Michi-
gan quarterback, Jim Harbaugh?
M: I would have to see what their
situation would beor they would have
to show interest in me if that situation
came up. Sure, I wouldn't mind, it
would be fine with me. But I really
don't put too much thought into that.
D: How close have you stayed
with some of your old Wolverines
teammates, the (receiver Chris)
Calloways, the Harbaughs?
M: Somewhatin touch. When we're
playing acertain team thathas acouple
ofguys thatlplayedwith, Italk to them
a little bit. But everyone is kind of
spread outandkindof doing theirown
thing, so it's hard to catch up with
D: (Running back) Jon Vaughn
was a teammate of yours for a while.
What was that like and how tough
was it for you when he left (to Se-
attle)? '
M: I played two years with Jon (at
Michigan). I knew him and we were
friendly toeach other, but I didn't really
hang out with him. He was a couple
years younger that I was, that's just the
way things go when you're in college
-older guys tend to hand out with the
older guys and the younger guys tend to
hand out with the younger guys.
I knew him somewhat (in New
England), but to see him go, it'sjust the
nature of the business - people in
management have a change in direc-
tion, they change their mind often and
he just happened to be in the change
that they wanted to make.
D: Another former Michigan wide
receiver, Desmond Howard, has seen
his share of frustration trying to get
going in the NFL. What advice would
you have for him?
M: Just to hang in there and keep
working and I think ifhe does that, he'll
do all right. He obviously has all the
tools to do that and I think he will be

The 'next Jordan' seen
with 'next Babe Ruth'
o will replace Jordan? With the advent Friday of the first Airless
NBA season since knee-high socks were all the rage, basketball
pundits were all pondering the issue of just who will replace all-
galaxy guard Michael Jordan as the league and game's reigning megastar
and goodwill ambassador.
After the Bulls combined for six points in the second quarter in their 95-
71 loss to the Miami Heat Saturday, it apparently won't be Scottie Pippen.
But while the NBA has a wealth of fine talents and personalities to
select from, the correct answer to 'Who is the next Jordan?' is no one.
Just like baseball has yet to find the next Babe Ruth and golf is still
looking for the second coming of Arnold Palmer, basketball will very
likely never produce a person who will equal the legend of Michael Jordan.
That is not to say this portends bad tidings for the NBA. After all, 58
seasons into the Babe's retirement, major league baseball is still making do
with the loss. While still in the public eye, Palmer is no longer what he
once was, yet golf's popularity has never been greater than it is today.
Similar statements will undoubtedly be made with Wayne Gretzky and
the NHL when he steps down in a few seasons.
Nor is it necessarily a slam on the current NBA stars. It is just that too
many factors - factors that have nothing to do with basketball - went his
way for the same ascension to ever be duplicated.
For instance, Jordan was placed in the large media market of Chicago.
Had Portland, picking one spot ahead of the Bulls in the 1984 NBA draft,
decided to take a chance on the raw talent from North Carolina instead of
going for the sure thing in Kentucky center Sam Bowie, perhaps all we'd
be hearing today is how the long-suffering Bulls are hoping this Webber
kid will be able to turn the franchise around.
Jordan's fame and the wild popularity of his shoe line and commercials
seemed to fan each other's flames. Nike introduced Air Jordan at a time
when the sneaker craze was just catching on and was able to get Jordan on
the bottom floor of the industry.
Even Chicago's colors, red and the ever-popular black, seemed to align
themselves in Jordan's favor. Shaquille O'Neal's Reeboks were a heinous
metallic blue and white. They had the popularity of the measles.
Jordan also entered the league at a time when the NBA was suffering
from image problems and desperate for a clean-cut star. His good looks,
exuberant love for the game and congenial nature made him the obvious
choice for NBA execs as the player to thrust into the spotlight.
And there were so many other factors: being able to play the white-hat
hero against the black-hat Detroit Pistons, performing before the world in
the 1984 Olympics and again in 1992, playing on otherwise-average Bulls
teams that depended so much on his nightly heroics, his willingness to
appear in countless commercials, basketball's growing popularity around
the globe; the list is endless.
Jordan had control over only a handful of these things. The rest, Jordan
merely happened upon them, something he readily admits.
What if Jordan was not Air Jordan, the dunker, but Ground Jordan, the
three-point marksman? This player has a name. He is Chris Mullin.
Consider the player that many look to as Jordan's replacement, O'Neal.
He did not play in the Olympics before entering the league, his
uniform's colors are not all the rage in sports paraphernalia and he does not
have a foil like Detroit. How many of these factors did he have control over
when he entered the league? None.
True, O'Neal and teammate Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway figure to
wage epic battles with Charlotte's Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning
like Jordan did with the Pistons, but the Hornets, with "Grandmama" on
their side, will draw just as much support as will Shaq and Penny.
Through no fault of his own, Shaquille will never equal Jordan, and no
one else will, either. Maybe it's better that way.


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November 2
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