MUNICH (AP):Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will miss today’s friendly international against Italy because of a stomach bug.The German football federation says Neuer has been sent home after consultations with team doctors.The federation did not say who will replace Neuer, who turned 30 on Sunday. But coach Joachim Lˆw has three more goalkeepers in the squad – rookies Bernd Leno and Kevin Trapp, plus Marc-AndrÈ ter Stegen of Barcelona, who has four caps.Stand-in captain Sami Khedira, who plays for Juventus, also missed yesterday’s training and underwent a recovery session in the team’s hotel.
The stack of NFL magazines and newspapers on the end of my desk stare at me as if I’ve done something bad, very bad, as if ignoring The League will get me on some international watch list. I’ll pick them up occasionally, look back at Tom Brady or Michael Vick on the cover, and think about turning inside, maybe get a chuckle at the latest Raider reprobates, then invariably ask myself why bother and put them back on the pile. I am kind enough to straighten the pile from time to time, just to make my indifference look neat. It’s now been more than 10years since the NFL played football in Los Angeles, and whatever antipathy I once felt for Paul Tagliabue and the other NFL mob bosses who have jerked greater Los Angeles around for a decade about a team of our own has now subsided into general apathy. Back when the Rams and Raiders played here, each announcement of the weekend’s limited TV schedule would be met with outrage because we were not going to get the games featuring Dallas or San Francisco, or Pittsburgh or Denver. With our expanded viewing options last Sunday, we were treated to Minnesota-Tampa Bay, Dante Culpepper versus Brian Griese; Denver-Miami, Jake Plummer against Gus Frerotte; and Dallas-San Diego, a reasonably viewable game with Drew Bledsoe and Drew Brees. Monday night? Vick and Donovan McNabb are terrific, but what does it say about the NFL of 2005 when the two most athletic quarterbacks in the game put together a 14-10 hum-drummer? Last season, only nine of the 32 teams in the league won 10 games or more, and just three of them played in the NFC. More than a third of all teams were pretty much eliminated from the playoff hunt and working on their draft plans by November. Twelve teams won six games or less. That which Bill Walsh created with the 49ers, a formidable forerunner to the West Coast Offense that worked so smoothly and ran up points like a bullish NASDAQ, has been diluted into a cookie-cutter offense that nibbles its way down field. The NFL always had a clean succession of great quarterback classes, with the most recent featuring Joe Montana, Warren Moon, Steve Young, John Elway, Dan Marino, Troy Aikman and a young Brett Favre. All those guys were active in 1998 except Joe Montana, plus a handful of others who were good then but would be outstanding now Randall Cunningham, Steve DeBerg, Dave Krieg, Vinny Testaverde and Steve Beuerlein. The 2005 canvas has the splendid Favre, Brady and Peyton Manning, and I defy anyone to reasonably predict anyone else out there will ever get a whiff of Canton, Ohio, site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Bledsoe? Steve McNair? Marginal calls. Plus, Favre is 36, Trent Green 35, Bledsoe 33 and McNair an elderly looking 32, and most of the young quarterbacks aren’t even close to showing they’re going to be successors to this group. Most of the college quarterbacks that were first-round picks in last six drafts have been among the biggest underachievers in the league. The three first-rounders in 2002 have all been busts Houston’s David Carr (14-29 career record), Detroit’s Joey Harrington (14-30) and Washington’s Patrick Ramsey (9-14). Likewise for most of those in the class of 2003. Baltimore’s Kyle Boller (14-11), Jacksonville’s ron Leftwich (13-14) and Chicago’s Rex Grossman (never healthy) have been average, although Cincinnati’s Carson Palmer (6-7), the ex-Trojan, may be ready for a close-up. Then there’s Minnesota’s Culpepper (1999, 36-37), and the Jets’ Chad Pennington (2000, 20-14) and Chargers’ Brees (2001, 21-21), who need more than one surprising season to make one a believer. The stock is so thin that Dallas is recycling Bledsoe, who looked done last year in Buffalo; Arizona is gambling that 34-year-old Kurt Warner still has something left; and Miami is starting Frerotte (27-36), who is with his sixth team in 12 seasons. Trent Dilfer (Browns), Kerry Collins (Raiders) and Griese (Bucs) are still bouncing around, too, and at this point, Denver is playing Plummer (49-60), perhaps the most underachieving long-term starter in NFL history, simply because they have no one else. Besides Brady, the only first-round picks since 1999 who have acquitted themselves are McNabb (1999) and Vick (2001), and neither fall into the category of the classic high-yield thrower. A list of the five-best quarterbacks in the league today would have to include Carolina’s Jake Delhomme, who was an undrafted free agent. There’s hope for the class of 2004 Buffalo’s J.P. Losman, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and the Giants’ Eli Manning but we’re not going to know for sure until 2006 at the earliest. It makes me wonder exactly what gamblers are using as their main betting tool. How does anyone put money down on a team quarterbacked by Frerotte, Collins, Aaron Brooks or Matt Hasselback? Maybe if Manning, either of them, was playing in Los Angeles, I’d feel differently. But they don’t. At least to this old football fan, who remembers Chuck Knox losing playoff games to Minnesota and Davis sparring with Marcus Allen, they’re just pictures in a magazine. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 It’s hard for someone who was invested in what the Rams and Raiders did even if it was with a touch of evil, that anticipation of blaming Georgia Frontiere for the inert Rams roster and Al Davis for his puppeteering of the Raiders to look at the NFL and find some common ground. Former Ram Jerome Bettis is still in the league. I can find several former Raider coaches dotted on staffs here and there. After glancing at the roster of quarterbacks in 2005, I have to believe Vince Evans could still play if someone would give him a chance. It’s obviously not hard for others. There are thousands of NFL fans out there who wake each Sunday with a smile on their face and the remote in their hand, because an NFL-free L.A. means more games on TV. With fantasy football and all forms of bookmakers legal and illegal, the NFL’s constituency is on zealous par with the religious right. But if you grew up enjoying the teams that were here, and the games beyond point spreads, it’s hard to revive the feelings. It’s like dating an ex-wife the terrain is familiar but the feelings have long been divorced. I look at the NFL today and see a league that has been watered down to near beer. The league’s parity may be a boon to playoff races and attendance in December, but the NFL I once enjoyed had great teams loaded with great players who were worthy of that rich film stock used by NFL Films.