If there's a jinx of No. 2-ranked teams in college football, then there's a jinx of the No. 1-picked players in the NFL.
Sneak a peek at the No. 1 overall picks in recent years and look how this year has adversely affected their careers, with the most recent example coming Monday, when quarterback Michael Vick began serving his jail sentence in Virginia for federal felony dog-fighting charges in advance of his Dec. 10 sentencing.
Vick's example is the most extreme and the most troubling, but hardly the only one.
On Sunday, the Carolina Panthers benched the 2002 No. 1 overall pick, David Carr, in favor of 44-year-old Vinny Testaverde, the No. 1 overall pick from the 1987 draft.
The roll call of other notable No. 1's on a no-good streak ...
» Quarterback Tim Couch (1999): After Jacksonville cut him this summer, the NFL suspended Couch six games for violating its steroid policy. Couch has not found another NFL home, and likely never will.
» Vick (2001): This is the saddest case of all. Earlier this season, Vick pleaded guilty to federal felony charges that tied him to an interstate dog fighting ring. Vick is now incarcerated in Virginia, awaiting sentencing in December. His NFL career could go the way of his personal freedom.
» Carr (2002): When Panthers coach John Fox opted to start Testaverde over a healthy Carr last weekend in Green Bay, it became apparent that the former No. 1 overall pick of the Houston Texans had lost his standing in Carolina and elsewhere around the league. After Houston cut Carr last off-season, few teams wanted him then. Even fewer would now.
Being a No. 1 pick assures riches. But it hardly assures greatness.
The Patriots are coming
When NFL commissioner Roger Goodell fined the Patriots earlier this season second- and third-round picks if they didn't make the playoffs or a first-round pick if they did, everyone expected what the outcome would be.
But it will become official Sunday night, with a New England victory.
A win over the Eagles not only will clinch the AFC East title and a playoff spot, but also the penalty of a loss of a first-round pick in the 2008 NFL draft.
New England would rather, and rightfully, focus on its other accomplishments.
Winning is everything
Green Bay is, rightfully, agog over its 9-1 start this season, its best since 1962, when the Packers opened 10-0.
But Green Bay also needs to be leery. Back in 1962, when Vince Lombardi led Green Bay to a 10-0 start, it lost its 11th game of the season –- in Detroit, on Thanksgiving Day.
No wonder the Packers already have approached McCarthy about a contract extension, talks that are expected to gain steam after this season.
Another Thanksgiving treat
On that day, Julius ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns, and would hope to duplicate that performance on Thursday. But Thomas is coming off maybe his finest game as a Jet.
At the beginning of the season, few would have thought that Cleveland and Arizona would be two of this year's biggest surprises, each playoff-bound.
If Arizona can keep it close with Seattle until the final two weeks of the season -- and with a defense that has forced 10 takeaways the past two weeks, that's possible -- the Cardinals' chances of winning the West go up.