Friday, September 29, 2006

George W. Bush Made Murtha Take Bribes In Abscam!

At least the moonbats can say that, though the transcript Of John Murtha's involvement in Abscam should dissuade people of any notion of sincerity on the pro-Saddam Congressman's part.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Captain Bill Clinton Queeg

This may be the best analogy to draw from Bill Clinton's self-serving interview with Chris Wallace on Osama Bin laden - comparing Bill Clinton with Captain Queeg from The Caine Mutiny. Of course long ago Mr. Hillary Milhous Clinton's excuse-mongering wore out its welcome, but the gory reality of Bill Clinton's dereliction of leadership requires some reminder, especially as Hillary Milhous Clinton tries to falsify Clintonista history.

While Clinton was always a better actor than leader, he still can't compare to the original Queeg himself, Humphrey Bogart.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Delaware 400 - RCR Breaks Through Under Siege

The 2006 Delaware 400 came amid a continuing run where on-track action or lack thereof gets overshadowed by off-track scandal. The New Hampshire 300 ran through and kicked off the 2006 NASCAR Playoffs with a decisive statement win by Kevin Harvick amid wrecks by Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson that seriously injured their title chances.

When the New Hampshire race was over, brouhaha erupted in a Bob Dilner report on Dave Despain's show on SPEED Channel alleging alterations to wheel rims on RCR's two star Chevrolets, Harvick and Jeff Burton. NASCAR's denial of the report was almost as fast as the report itself, and almost as fast as RCR's denial of illegality with its two racecars after the NH 300.

Delaware 400 qualifying wasn't completed, however, without more scandal in a lawsuit by an ex-RCR engine builder. This suit alleges among other things that RCR cheated on the manifolds used in its restrictor plate engines at Daytona.

Given the rampant nature of cheating in NASCAR history, allegations of present-day cheating can't be avoided, and the burden of proof almost always lay with the alleged perpetrator - RCR basically has to prove it didn't do any of these things. The bigger issues, though, lay in NASCAR's handling of this issue and also in the Race-Stream Media, which over the years has sugarcoated coverage of cheating and has been notoriously lazy in reporting on issues unflattering to drivers, team owners, and the sanctioning body.

One of the better examples of RSM's lazy handling of cheating issues was the 1991 suspension of Junior Johnson for running an outsized engine in The Winston All-Star Race. Virtually all coverage of the engine in question repeated the excuse that Johnson's engine men accidently installed the wrong crankshaft into the engine; only Autoweek that I can remember at the time published anything of a dissenting nature when it noted that such a mistake is too sloppy to be taken seriously as accidental.

Then there was Johnson's win in the National 500 that October on fuel mileage, and a postrace measurement that showed Junior's Ford carried 23 gallons of fuel, above the 22 gallon limit. There was some coverage of that issue, but it had mostly died out by the time the Winston Cup cars reached Rockingham two weeks later.

Coverage of cheating in the sport has been of this decidedly blase nature almost throughout its history; even Tom Jensen's book on NASCAR cheating, despite its thoroughness, has a blase feel to its analysis of the sport's history of cheating.

NASCAR's handling of cheating incidents has also been of a less-than-satisfying nature over the years. Jimmie Johnson's cheating brouhaha at Daytona Speedweeks brought about suspension of crew chief Chad Knaus, but that was merely a slap on the wrist. Monetary fines have also been a slap on the wrist. On one occassion this year a car was disqualified from a BGN event, but it wasn't a "name" team and such occurrances are so rare as to basically never happen.

On this area some of the RSM's coverage has been better, with the view expressed on more than one occassion that quicker and longer suspensions of drivers and teams are necessary to weed out cheaters.

It is difficult to take RCR's denials, at NHIS and in this engine builder lawsuit, seriously, and it is also difficult to take NASCAR denials involved seriously. NASCAR threw the book at Kevin Grubb earlier this season, but Grubb was not a "name" driver. It is a labor to recall the last time NASCAR punished a big-name driver for cheating or some other incident without flinching at the bigness of that driver's name - offhand I can only recall the parking of Dale Earnhardt after he wrecked Phil Parsons in a BGN race at Charlotte in 1991.

And the spectacle of Harvick's confrontation with Bob Dilner and his continuing potshots during the weekend only made Harvick more petulant than he's already shown at times over his Winston Cup career.


At the Delaware 400 RCR put all the bad press behind it and Jeff Burton broke through to what will be his most liberating win ever. The win put him in a slender lead in the points, and recalls his 1999 season when he won the most races at six and led the points in that season's first third. To be leading this late in the season is something Burton hasn't had before, and the Dover win comes amid a season where he'd led a lot of laps but was never secure enough in the lead to make it stick in crunch time.

Burton's win came amid incidents that swatted out several others, notably his RCR teammate Kevin Harvick, who struggled all day and finally blew up. Harvick's title chances took a hit, but Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne are now racing for pride and perhaps a top five point spot. With the top five points spread at 54, the Chase has shaken out to a fight betwen Burton, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, and Harvick.

But amid the Chase, some non-Chasers had noteworthy days, perhaps none more so than Bobby Labonte, robbed of a top ten at NHIS by Kurt Busch but solidly there at Dover. New crew chief Paul Andrews now has two straight Delaware 400 top tens - in 2005 he wrenched Kyle Petty to a top ten in this race, but with Labonte Andrews is showing something he wasn't able to show with Petty since the Atlanta 500 in March.

Dover's reputation as The Monster Mile showed again, and with the Chase that reputation has proven decisive for a lot of drivers.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


A recent series looked at NASCAR Nation, with Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

The series examines several areas of the sport and areas where the sport may be in trouble - in declining TV ratings and race attendence and the alienation of its core fanbase - and also notes that the sport is on much firmer ground than in the early 1970s when RJR Tobacco came in as title sponsor for the Grand National Series in the wake of the loss of factory participation.

The series notes NASCAR efforts at attracting the 18-34 demographic, but curiously does not bother to examine whether that demographic is really as hot as it is often made out to be. It is worth asking, because this demographic seems grossly oversold and also unfocused as a rule. The audience for pro sports does not seem to form until after this demographic ages past 30 - certainly in years of attending races and other sporting events it seems to me that the preponderence of 18-30-year-olds looks very small.

Years of NASCAR attempts to portray itself as a hip, youthful happening show no persuasive evidence of working. That ratings and attendence are declining suggests not only that it isn't working, but that years of neglect of the sport's core audience are taking a toll.


Then there is NASCAR's "diversity" effort. Curiously left out of the discussion is whether there should even be any "diversity" at all. No one can say with a straight face that Erin Crocker has a ride in Craftsman Trucks for any reason beyond "diversity." No one can say Deborah Renshaw got a racing gig because she actually deserved one; nor can anyone pretend that being a woman didn't allow her to escape opprobrium for her incompetence behind the wheel. And no one can pretend that Danica Patrick is a talented race driver hired because of her talent.

The point is that no one should even care if NASCAR is not "diverse." If Bill Lester develops the aggression needed to win races, then he'll make it in the sport. If he doesn't, then the sport should not bend over backwards for him or others because of some "need" for "diversity." It works both ways - if a sport isn't "diverse," one way or another, it ought not be an issue.

That NASCAR's inspection brigade is more "diverse" now should not even be worth noticing. They're NASCAR inspectors, not "white NASCAR inspectors" or "black NASCAR inspectors." I remember wandering the garage area at NHIS in 2002, before this "diversity" issue got to the front burner, and seeing how the racial makeup of the inspection squads was anything but monolithic. I also remember John Andretti's 1999 Martinsville win and noticing the biracial makeup of his crew. Did the fact that these racial makeups were not monolithic matter? No, it didn't - they're NASCAR inspectors, they're NASCAR crewmen. Period. Marvin Lewis is coach of the Cincinatti Bengals, Romeo Crennel is coach of the Cleveland Browns, and Colin Powell is a US general. Period. "Diversity" crusades didn't make that possible.

Forcing "diversity" never worked before, and it won't work now.


Two other issues are worth examining - racetracks and also the quality of the racing. NASCAR lacks speedways in the New York City area and also in the Pacific Northwest, and heavy opposition to NASCAR proposals for those areas indicates coupled with overall declines in attendence and TV ratings indicate that those markets are not worth penetrating, that shoring up existing markets is far more in the sport's interest than New York City or Seattle.

There is also the strange obsession of late with Canada and Mexico. The Busch Series has raced in Mexico the last two seasons with some success - ironically shown in NHIS' Busch East race with the presence of several Mexican drivers, notably Ruben and Carlos Pardo. That Mexican race, though, has been decidedly mixed in terms of success, because there has been no evidence of any particular sponsor interest from Mexican companies in NASCAR.

Then there is Canada, with a Montreal BGN race supposedly scheduled for the mid-summer weekend when Winston Cup is at Pocono. Though there are Canadian fans at northern NASCAR events, and NASCAR recently bought out the owners of CASCAR, that market has never proven itself to be all that strong.

And of course there is the Toyota onslaught brewing for Winston Cup, an onslaught almost no one wants but which most in the sport seem resigned to have to endure. Toyota's presence in Trucks "has brought more money to the series, and you can see it in new teams," says Brendan Gaughn. But the balance sheet isn't so positive, as the number of competitive teams in the Trucks hasn't improved and the other manufacturers involved have cut back in response to Toyota, leaving a racing field where Toyota all but owns a monopoly on victories.

Again, it shows a myopic approach by NASCAR - going after overrated domestic and foreign markets instead of shoring up the far more important markets it already has.


As for the racing, Kevin Harvick's audacious pass up the middle of a side-by-side battle for the lead was easily the highlight of the New Hampshire 300, but it also was sympomatic of the weakness of the racing. In the Chase, and the season in general, the battle for the lead has been a battle in name only almost everywhere. Michigan saw some spirited racing, Pocono had three lead changes on Lap 75 of the Pocono 500, and the Brickyard saw the lead change twice in a lap on a couple of occassions. But other than that only Daytona and Talladega have seen racing that lives up to the sport's competitive depth.

NASCAR has long needed to address this competitive aridity, yet little has come of it. Too bad, because as much solid ground as the sport has, it still needs to face its troubles and get back the racing that made the sport.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Wilburn And Hoar Try To Make Noise For Dodge

With Chevrolet in command at the Winston Cup level and Toyota dominating the Trucks, Dodge has been largely left behind, winless in Trucks and largely unnoticed in Winston Cup despite Kasey Kahne's superb season. At New Hampshire two Dodge combatants seeking to make some noise are Bill Wilburn and Brian Hoar. They have little in common other than involvement with Dodges in NASCAR. Bill Wilburn is in his first race as Kyle Petty's new crew chief, and his presence has begun to show with a qualifying effort by Petty that may not have been spectacular but it showed an improvement for Kyle that for the moment has been rather dramatic. Needing to make races on speed for now, Kyle ran two laps at NHIS and busted out a rather dramatic improvement in his second lap, an improvement that locked him into the race right away.

Wilburn's presence has certainly instilled a new confidence in the Petty team. "We didn't qualify where we wanted to, but it wasn't bad," Wilburn says. The improvement in Petty's second lap "is really good. He's been okay at Loudon in the past but it's been several years since he had a really good qualifying run. 27th is an improvement and we're trying to carry that improvement into Dover and keep improving."

Changes to Petty's car from NHIS in July involve being "a little different in some spring areas, front-end settings and geometry are a little different. We've worked quite a bit on our shock program. I've only been here a few days, and hopefully confidence will build with Kyle as we go."

The 45 and 43 "are really close. Things have gone pretty smootly and we want to get the 43 and 45 up to the front." While their setups are not exactly the same, there appears to be greater similarity than in the past. Certainly Wilburn should fit well here as his very early signs with the organization have been quite encouraging.


Brian Hoar does not appear to have any Winston Cup aspirations, as he seems to be making a nice career out of the Busch East in his #45 Goss Dodge. A strong effort by Hoar in Busch East's NH 125 came amid an epidemic of crashes, including a running confrontation between Stafford veteran Matt Kobyluck and strong-running newcomer Sean Caisse, driving one of Andy Santarre's Chevys. The fireworks began when Caisse got into Kobyluck and Kobyluck found the wall, and then escalated in a spectacular melee in Turn Three when Kobyluck, who'd been rapping Caisse's back bumper even up the middle of a three-wide run off Turn Two, let him have it and Brad Leighton's #35 Ford became the innocent victim. Leighton's hit in Three was as hard as one can remember in some time, and it got Kobyluck parked by NASCAR and left Caisse out of any contention for the win.

Kelly Moore survived the fireworks and beat Hoar in a race shortened by 20 laps due to SPEED Channel time constraints for covering the Craftsman Trucks scheduled for that afternoon on The Magic Mile. Hoar's strong run nonetheless carried the torch for Dodge, and it came with a nosepiece different from the nosepieces of other Dodges in the weekend's racing. "The nose we ran is an old one," Hoar said afterward. "We're running the Intrepid body while those others have the Charger body, which has more downforce. We put a new body on our cars when in January they changed the rules and allowed the Charger. We decaled and painted the body and rear windows to make it look like the Charger. We're a Dodge dealer and we wanted to run the Charger. This is more a speedway body, more of a Daytona-Talladega-type body."

Regardless of what particular model year his car was, Brian Hoar certainly made some noise for Dodge at New Hampshire.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Blewitt Brings The Shovel For NHIS Sweep

You've heard of mixed metaphors. Here's a good one - bringing a shovel to perform a sweep. For John Blewitt III, the mixed metaphor is appropriate, as he dug and dug from a 21st-place starting spot to sweep New Hampshire International Speedway's two Modified Series races in 2006. Blewitt described the race as "pretty uneventful for us until about the last fifteen laps. Our car was too tight off the corners. Jimmy (Blewitt) and I were mired around ninth and tenth and really weren't going anywhere. It seemed the longer I went the better I got, the car seemed to come to me when we got into the top five."

NHIS' old reputation for being one-groove with the bottom the only workable groove is long past; today The Magic Mile may need to be called The Magic Cushion, because it races more like Indy Raceway Park. For Blewitt, though, "I had to move down a lane because if I ran higher I was too loose through the middle of the corner. The car seemed to come in at the right time, where at the end I could pass and not get stuck on the bottom without any help. When I got the lead from Teddy (Christopher) I thought he'd make a run back by me, but I was really strong by myself. We ran 29.80's by ourselves, and I knew if I could get clean air I'd be in good shape."

Jerry Marquis made a last-gasp run but came up short in second, while James Civali came home third; Civali survived a last-lap scuffle with Christopher that sent Teddy sideways and back to sixth. The finish was something of a repeat from July, in that it involved Blewitt and Civali, coming home third in the Ramar-Hall #28. Unlike July, though, there was no need for a scoring loop recheck.

"I was trying as hard as I could," Civali said. "You get a run, get a push, and there's not much else you can do. I was being pushed around a bit, but there wasn't much to be done about it. Blewitt did his best to get draft off lapped cars. If you can break the draft, you can drive away."

Civali stated the bottom groove was of little use. "If you're on the bottom and there's a line of cars at the top, you're going to lose your run off the bottom. But I'm thankful we ran as well as we did, to run up front twice in a row is something.

"The track was greasier from July," Civali continued. "Everyone was sliding around a little. The track didn't really change much. The draft was effective, but the draft is usually not that erratic where people pull out that quickly."

Erratic draft or not, it was a substantially calmer race from July's eye-popping competitive savagery. But the New Hampshire 100 was still a hard-fought competitive race with a good draft allowing the true racing ability of the Modifieds to shine forth. Civali may wish for more than two annual Mod Series events at NHIS as strongly as he runs them - certainly a lot of fans likely would appreciate more than two Mod races here.

Trouble is, John Blewitt III may bring that shovel again.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Just Shut Up Award - Carl Levin and Keith Olbermann

The dishonorable Carl Levin is at it again, whining about "proof" that "Bush lied, thousands died."

Wrong again, Senator.

Meanwhile the once-entertaining Keith Olbermann has degenerated into a propaganda mouthpiece for the Moonbats. The vileness of his persiflage reflects the objective emptiness of the Left, though in response to a demand for an Olbermann apology for his vileness, an interesting point is made about how such vileness plays.

Regardless, Keith Olbermann ought to know better than to believe what he's saying.

Disappointing IRL Season Ends In Comparative Bang

The 2006 IRL Season ended at Chicagoland in early September and it brought to an end a very disappointing season. The Chicago Indy 300 lived up to its reputation and showcased again what is good about the IRL, but it also crystalized what is wrong with the IRL right now.

The biggest disappointment of the season was the closed loop that was the battle for the championship. Penske Racing and Ganassi Racing had the entire year to themselves with only occassional upsets from the Andretti-Green team. Chicagoland crystalized this in gruesome fashion as the Ganassi and Penske tandems put everyone else a lap down.

IRL's struggle to hold onto factory backing has left Honda the lone engine supplier, and the result showed in the league's lack of competitive depth. Andretti-Green made little noise, and longtime series regular Panther Racing endured its first winless season. Vision Racing didn't light much up, Rahal Racing endured another winless season, and the decline of A.J. Foyt Racing remains a black spot on the sport.

The racing itself rarely lived up to its potential; there was the astonishing finish to the Indianapolis 500, but Chicagoland was almost the first race all year to have really good combat for the lead, as the Ganassi cars fought it out lap after lap and thus salvaging both the season's competitive dignity and the integrity of the sport by eschewing the team-order mentality that exists in other racing series.

IRL's decision to take some drag out of the rear wings of its cars made the draft less effective, and this hurt ability to pass. Given the struggle the league now has to attract fans and TV viewers, lessening ability to pass is never anything but a shortsighted decision.

Dan Wheldon's hard-fought win and Sam Hornish's league-record third championship are worthy of congradulations, but the overall subpar level of the season made 2006 a year to forget for IRL. The league has issues to deal with and it needs to deal with them to get back competitive depth, get back the kind of ferocious sidedraft racing that has made IRL racing must-see racing, and to further strengthen open-wheel racing in America.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Post-Fontana Pre-Richmond Miscellenia

The following is a repost from September 6:

Fontana came and went and Richmond beckons, and suddenly there may be a shot for Kasey Kahne to make NASCAR's playoffs, much to my surprise and that of some others. Given Kahne's struggles after winning the Michigan 400, struggles that dropped him out of the top ten in points, winning Fontana no doubt caught more than a few off guard.

Even so, Kahne faces an uphill struggle to make the playoff cut, but his success does bring to mind a larger issue within the realm of Dodge Motorsports. Kahne's five wins so far this year, combined with Scott Riggs' surprising rally from disaster at Speedweeks and the performance bounce coming from Elliott Sadler, have helped salve the wounds that have festered at Ray Evernham Motorsports in the last few weeks, wounds opened in the rancorous divorce of Jeremy Mayfield from the organization.

One would think Evernham Motorsports has proven its critics wrong with its stellar performances. But the blogger MD80891 has authored some detailed analysis of the Evernham organization that raises questions about how good that team really is. Note: his Evernham writings are to date not in his blog but in his varied message board submissions at the site that hosts his blog; searching out his message board posts is worth the effort, because he details serious flaws in the Evernham organization.

A larger issue is also the whole of the Dodge Motorsports fleet. The fundamental lack of leadership in the Dodge effort has been an issue since it began its Winston Cup endeavor, but as the Chase closes in with the very real possibility of not a single Dodge entry - not to mention the dismal showing of the Dodge fleet other than Kahne at Fontana despite Reed Sorenson's wildcard fuel effort - the issue of Dodge's mismanagement of its racing program remains an important one.

Simply put, Dodge's teams are not on the same page and they desperately need to get back on the same page. Having entered the Truck Series in 1996 under the One Team banner, Dodge finds itself being beaten in the head with it by Chevrolet in Winston Cup - the contrast of Chevrolet's competitive depth to the heroic anarchy of Dodge's uncoordinated little fiefdoms is pretty ugly viewing, especially as one considers that for all their mismanagent, Dodge's teams still have the talent to beat the Chevrolets.


On competitive depth, another rather ugly stat is worth keeping in mind - four Chevrolet teams, the Roush Ford team, and the Dodge efforts of Evernham and Penske have won the races so far, and it has been since last year's Autumn 500 at Talladega that someone else won a Winston Cup race. There is another irony here, in that that team - Robert Yates Racing - hastily hired the driver whose victory in BGN at Kentucky Speedway in June has already been elevated in the sport's history as one of the all-time great upsets, and the result has been awful. The Yates organization's most successful crew chief, Todd Parrott, abruptly came back in August to help out the Yates effort, but the result so far has been dismal.

Parrott left a Petty Enterprises organization with which he was beginning to get turned around what has this decade been a slow-motion perfect storm of misery, misfortune, and mismanagement - and all he may have jumped into is a fast-forward perfect storm of misery, misfortune, and mismanagement. Maybe staying at Petty would have been the wise choice, Todd.

UPDATE: Parrott may wind up returning to Petty Enterprises if the Yates #88 disbands as Doug Yates has admitted is an option for the RYR organization for 2007. Of course it's hardly anything resembling a done deal, but that it would even be publically considered is more than a little disturbing.


The team likely looking most intensely forward to Richmond is DEI, which won here in May. RCR is also a good bet here, having won at Phoenix and flexed ample muscle at Richmond in May. Of course Jeff Burton has to be watched, as it's Chase or cut bait time here and he's been the unsung hero of RCR's turnaround the last year-plus.

Given that they are all but the only Ford team out there, Roush Racing will be loaded for bear at Richmond.

So Richmond will be an interesting event - whether it will be a good race remains to be seen.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Reality Check Needed On Deion Branch

A reality check is needed for Deion Branch amid a holdout that got uglier when the New England Patriots gave him one week to find a deal with another team, and the New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks supposedly came with six-year deals in the $36-9 million range. A lot of football fans and quite a few writers are acting as if the Patriots have morphed into infamous Boston Bruins tightwad owner Jeremy Jacobs, best known for refusing to spend money on quality players while raking in vast profits from his ownership of Delaware North, the company that provides concessions for the Boston Garden and other sports venues - profits more than enough to have justified a fundamental shift in Bruins hockey-business philosophy.

The reality of the Deion Branch deal is quite different from the varied myths being propagated. The simple reality is that reported Jet/Seahawk deals won't pay one dime more than the nearly $31 million offer the Patriots have made to Branch, and these deals are coming from teams that are not as good as the Patriots - the Seahawks have only recently become a genuine power in the NFL while the Jets remain one of the AFC's perennial loser franchises.

There is also the reality that Branch has no leverage. I've regularly heard it mentioned that teams don't have to honor contracts when it is pointed out that Branch is still under contract for one more season, which misses the point that the Patriots have to honor the contract and to sign Branch to a good deal. Branch's agent Jason Chayut filed a grievence with the NFL Players Association, but there is virtually no prospect of Branch getting a decision in his favor, which has led to speculation that he will hold out until mid-November, by which time he will have incurred some $1.5 million in fines from the team - meaning he'll owe the Patriots some $500,000 by the tenth week of the 2006 season.

Branch cannot shoot his way out of New England because New England will not let him or anyone else do so. Branch has one year left on his rookie contract, and he wants the Patriots to abrogate that contract, start from scratch, and give him a huge deal as though he were a free agent. The Patriots, however, do not negotiate that way, and Branch's demand amounts to refusal on his part to live up to a contract that he willingly signed with his agent present. Chayut's repeated demand that the Patriots not put the franchise tag on Branch when his contract does expire displays the selfishness involved in the Branch side of this issue, because the franchise tag means he will be paid as one of the top five receivers in the NFL - why his side is so adamant about not being franchised escapes me.

People want to mention Adam Vinitiari. When Vinitiari played hardball, he got released by the Pats, went to the Colts, and conveniently suffered a broken bone in his foot - and has been grossly overpaid for his position.

The reality is that Deion Branch's market value is not higher with other teams than it is with New England - the claim made by some that the Patriots misread the market is untrue, as the Seahawk/Jet proposals do not pay more than what the Patriots have offered Branch. So Branch's best bet is to shut up, sign the deal the Patriots have offered, return to the team in time for the season opener against the Buffalo Bills, and fire Jason Chayet.

FOLLOW-UP - The Patriots signed WR Doug Gabriel from the Oakland Raiders following a trade for a draft pick. Gabriel had 71 catches for 1,122 yards and five touchdowns in three seasons with the Raiders and is entering his fourth NFL season in 2006. No doubt some are speculating about the relationship with the Branch brouhaha, but a more likely analogy is the Pats are shoring up their receiver corps after subpar performances in the preseason by Reche Caldwell and aslo uncertainty about rookie WR Chad Jackson.

UPDATE: Deion Branch lost Round One, but had the last laugh anyway as he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks for a first-round draft pick.