Sunday, April 26, 2009

NFL Draft: Mark Sanchez Interview, New York Jets


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Sporting a dark green tie purchased by his aunt Marlene and a New York Jets sports cap, now former USC Quarterback Mark Sanchez came down to the Interview Room at Radio City Music Hall to a small group of media people including yours truly about 30 minutes ago from the start of this blog post.

Sanchez fielded a set of questions starting with my query to determine if it was true he left USC early to avoid the possibility of losing to Cal this year. The Jets' newest signal called got a kick out of that one and recalled the last game played at Berkeley, a rain-soaked affair that USC won when John David Booty was the quarterback, 24-17.

On the matter of how it feels to be a jet, "Oh," he sighed, "It's really special. I'm really grateful that Mr Mike Tannenbaum (Jets GM) and Mr. Woody Johnson (Jets owner) made the trade (up to the number 5th pick, trading places with the Cleveland Browns, who gave their first- and second-round picks, and adding defensive end Kenyon Coleman, safety Abram Elam and quarterback Brett Ratliff)

But Sanchez added "Nothing's been accomplished yet, I've only gotten into a uniform. It's going to take a lot of practice and hard work.

The underclassman Sanchez who has a 14-2 record at USC offered that the reason he came out early (he has one more year of eligibility) was a personal decision arrived at after the Rose Bowl and after talking it through with his family and his high school coach Bob Johnson. "I thought about it long and hard and ..this is what I really want to do."

Will Not Hold Out On Jets

Sanchez' agent David Dunn told me they don't anticipate a hold out situation to develop, but he's concerned about the economy's impact on the ability to get good endorsement deals. "It's definetely a factor, Dunn said.

NFL Draft: Mark Sanchez Has Entered The Building in NYC


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Sporting a dark green tie and a New York Jets sports cap, now former USC Quarterback Mark Sanchez came down to the Interview Room at Radio City Music Hall to a small group of media people including yours truly about 30 minutes ago from the start of this blog post.

Sanchez fielded a set of questions starting with my query to determine if it was true he left USC early to avoid the possibility of losing to Cal this year. The Jets' newest signal called got a kick out of that one and recalled the last game played at Berkeley, a rain-soaked affair that USC won when John David Booty was the quarterback, 24-17.

Mark Sanchez Photo by Bill Chachkes

"That was a lot of fun," Sanchez remarked.

There's more in my upcoming video with Sanchez. It's being compressed and edited now.

As to the matter of who had the best Draft, I'm putting early my vote in for The Denver Broncos, then the Phili Eagles snagging Jerry Macklin as a companion to DeShawn Jackson at wide receiver, and then Miami Dolphins because they took the man I feel is the best quarteback in the Draft, West Virginia's Pat White, who's perfectly suited to their "Wildcat" system and in the second round, and got the zone cover corner and hitter they needed in CB Vontae Davis of Illinois in round one.

As to the worst draft, I'm sorry and its not personal as everyone here at Radio City Music Hall has the greatest respect for Al Davis, but the Oakland Raiders passing on Michael Crabtree was a real shocker here. People are still talking about it today.

More soon.

Art Torres, California Democratic Party Chair Sends Letter of Resignation

This came to me via email just three minutes ago:

My Fellow Democrats,

It has been an honor to have served for thirteen years as Chairman of the most incredible state Democratic Party in the nation. Together we have made great strides in improving our Party by registering voters with the Bounty program, by grassroots activists opening up offices and creating a sense of community and service to many, and by electing Democrats to the Assembly, Senate and Congress who are protecting the values we all cherish in our state.

Our Party has also embraced our young people and they have joined with us as never before, creating a new generation of Democratic voters and activists. We have elected the first woman Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi of California -- one of the highest offices in our country. And of course, California proudly provided a strong margin of victory to elect President Barak Obama.

We are all proud of what President Obama has accomplished during his first 100 days, giving our nation strong initiatives to renew and reinvest in our economy and improve the quality of our lives in the most difficult of times. He is a President who will provide great leadership for our country and our world.

Since 2004, we have added six blue counties with the help of dedicated folks in Alpine, Stanislaus, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Joaquin, and Ventura. We also increased our numbers in Orange County to nearly 34% Democratic registration. These are not small achievements! This is the result of a huge amount of hard work by very dedicated Democrats.

In short, I leave the new Chair and Party leadership a healthy Democratic Party, both politically and financially, as I move to another chapter in my life -- the Vice Chairmanship of the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which was created by the voters as Proposition 71 in 2004.

As a colon cancer survivor, I will also be a patient advocate for CIRM in my new role. I join a team of dedicated scientists and policy makers to help raise the more than $400 million needed to fund the research necessary to target diseases that have plagued so many California families. Every day I spend at CIRM headquarters, I sense the excitement of a field of science moving forward rapidly, in fact more rapidly than anyone on the science staff there imagined possible even a couple years ago. When CIRM adopted a scientific strategic plan in October 2006 the scientists there envisioned reaching a stage this year where they could fund “disease teams” that would combine basic researchers and clinicians to work together to develop a therapy ready for clinical trials three-to-four years from now.

In 2006 they predicted funding one or two such teams that would be ready for this challenge today. But when the initial grant applications for the Disease Team Awards were counted a couple weeks ago, there were 73 of them. That is 73 California research teams that think they can get a stem-cell based therapy ready for clinical trials within four years. These teams are targeting a broad array of diseases from osteoarthritis and blindness to cancer and a host of neurodegenerative diseases. Only a subset of these applications will make it through CRIM’s rigorous grant review process, which strives to bet on only the very best science in which to make California’s investment, but no matter the outcome of the grant reviews, this represents a tremendous acceleration toward reaching the promise of stem cells.

The California research community has been able to get to this point in large part because of three years of sustained funding from CIRM. Since the agency issued its first training grants in April of 2006 it has been able to provide consistent support for its new cadre of stem cell researchers. All the scientists I talk to tell me that this type of sustained funding is what science requires to get the results that create new therapies and even cures and, in turn, the jobs that the fast growing biotech industry will provide for Californians. CIRM’s ability to continue this sustained funding is linked to the budgetary health of the state and the state’s ability to issue bonds that support CIRM’s work. So the health and well being of patients in California – and around the world – is one more thing to keep in mind as we vote on the budget initiatives May 19.

This letter is not a goodbye for me, but rather a fulfillment of new path ahead – as we all continue to make a difference in the lives of Californians.

God speed my fellow Democrats!


Art Torres

Sen. Art Torres (Ret.)
Chairman, California Democratic Party

NFL Draft: Day Two Rounds 3 Through 7 At Radio City


As I write this Bill Chachkes and I are sitting in our "upstairs" position at the NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Yesterday I was downstairs and he was here but that area's closed today.

The NFL Draft from our seats on Day Two

We're at the 89th selection where the Tennessee Titans have just took South Carolina Tight End Jared Cook, who I consider a steal in the third round because only Vernon Davis (at 4.4 in the 40) is faster than he is.

Where we're sitting is right between the ESPN and NFL Network stages and right behind a rowdy crowd egged on by ESPN runners and the appearance of the Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders, who made their way up to the second floor for a photo shoot with the fans. While that was going on, I sent a note to Coach John Gruden who I first met in 2000 when I formed the bid to bring the 2005 Super Bowl to Oakland (we lost to Jacksonville) and then again in 2004 at Sports Agent Leigh Steinberg's Super Bowl Party in Houston where I drew up a pass play on a napkin.

See, the first time we met I had this kind of "formed bunch" play in mind that the Raiders would shift into out of a split backs formation. Gruden invited me to come to the Raider headquarters and talk strategy but I was so busy with the City of Oakland I never took him up on the invitation. Then we reconnected in 2004 where I drew up the play on a napkin and as a nice little group of people including Coach Gruden's wife and my friend Rachel formed and just talked. Gruden kept the play.

Now, seeing him on the stage I drew up the play on a note pad and one of the NFL Network aides passed it to him. He remembered it, smiled, and gave a thumbs up.

Today's more relaxed that Day One and quieter by far. Just about the right noise level to hear a killer playlist of music piped in by the NFL. It has everything from Prince to The Smiths and whatever pulsating themes represent a good cross section of pop music. It's so good the ushers are dancing.

No kidding.

NFL Draft: Aaron Curry Interview: New Seattle Seahawks Linebacker


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Of all the players invited to the 2009 NFL Draft, Wake Forest Linebacker Aaron Curry is one you just want to root for. Curry's got this "I'm just happy to be here" look and when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called his name as the 4th pick in the Draft going to the Seattle Seahawks, he cried. He was just plain happy to have the entire ride over with and delighted to "get to the mountaintop" as he said later.

This video introduces Curry to the NFL Media and the world where you can see just how positive a person he came accross as being, especially when I asked him to give a message to those impacted by the slumping economy. After the video is the full list of Curry's quotes.


(on impression of Seattle area) “You know I’ve never been there. All I know about Seattle is from he said/she said. I was told that there is beautiful weather up there from time to time. I’m pretty sure it’s a very exciting area. I just can’t wait to get there.”

(impression on Draft Process) “You know before today I thought it was all just craziness and madness, but now I just feel like every bit of it was worth it.

(on crying once being selected) “Well you know I’ve been through a lot growing up. The first thing I thought was ‘thank you Mom for putting up with me and my older brothers and really supporting me all my life to be able to reach this point.’”

(on whether he was surprised where he ended up) “My mindset was always this draft is unpredictable I never knew where I was going to end up. I never fell for what the experts were saying because I knew that the GMs and the team owners would make that decision. I had faith in what I’ve done on film. I just wanted to be able to relax and wait to see who called my phone.

(reaction to being chosen by Seahawks) “I wasn’t too surprised being the fact that they just gave up Julian Peterson. He was a big player on their defense so why not replace him with another young talent to try and fill his shoes?”

(on communicating with Seahawks after Pro Day/Combine) “Well you know what was inte
resting is that I worked out for Coach Rollins, their linebacker coach, and I had a visit scheduled and after my workout they called back and said there was no need for me to come out to Seattle. So I mean I never got to take my visit but they also told me not to take it in a bad way that they knew what they were getting out of me as a linebacker and as a person and up until this day I had no clue where I was going to land.”

(on what he will miss most about Wake Forest) “My teammates. I’m going to miss my teammates. I’m going to miss Coach Lambert. I’m going to miss Coach Grobe. And I’m going to miss Miss Bonnie Rae the receptionist at the desk. I’m going to miss “Big Daddy” Coach Bill Faircloth, head of football. I’m going to miss everything about that building where I used to go and just relax that’s where I had the most fun.”

(on knowing any teammates on Seahawks) “I never kept in touch with anybody on the team. I know that Steve Vallos is out there and Ryan Plackemeier was once out there. The last I spoke with Vallos he told me to continue to work hard and continue to do the things I’ve always done.

(on being homeless at one point) “It’s interesting Coach Rollins, linebacker coach from Seattle gave me a book when we worked out it’s about peaks and valleys in your life and it made me look back on that situation where it may have seemed like the lowest part of my life but I realize it made me a stronger person and it made my family stronger than ever and it really drove me to always be the best and put myself in the situation where my family will never have to worry about anything else.”

(on fitting in with Seahawks) “I think it’s definitely a no-brainer to go and play the Sam linebacker just like Mr. Peterson did himself and try to fill his shoes and make just as big of plays as he did.”

(on preparing for speed and toughness of the NFL) “No, I’ve just been approaching every workout like it’s my last one…like I’ve always done.”

(on Seahawks colors) “I think it’s a beautiful color. I’ve always been a fan of their uniforms and their jerseys…I can see myself now with lime green cleats and lime green gloves.

NFL Draft: Train Ride To Radio City Music Hall


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This video captures the train ride and cab ride my friend Bill Chachkes and I took to Radio City Music Hall for the NFL Draft Day One events.

Bill, a 35-year-draft veteran, talks about the needs of the Raiders, Niners, and NY Giants on the way there. We then get out and Bill gets into one of his celebrated arguements with a Giants fan over the receiver they should pick in the Draft. Oh Boy!

But Bill's one of a breed of New Yorkers who follow the Draft religiously. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., their "Draftnik" as they're called, came from this pool of people as did Pro Football Weekly's legendary expert the late Joel Buchsbaum and Pat Kirwan who contributes to the NFL Network and

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