In a couple of weeks, Colorado Springs voters will have the unenviable task of sorting through the 31 mayoral and City Council candidates, and deciding who among a decidedly motley crew deserves their support.
It's not an easy job, and that's why we need to use the same metrics as NFL teams did in evaluating player personnel at their recent draft combine.
Admit it: Our team has played miserably during recent seasons. Just as NFL teams need to get younger, faster and smarter, we need to change — or stay at the bottom. We can re-sign our free agents, draft some exciting prospects, and sign a veteran or two — or we can make mistakes that will cripple the team (city) for the next four years. Here's a look at some of the names out there.
Steve Bach: Has the size to play the position, but what about experience? Can he go to his second and third reads? Can he improvise on the fly? Can he learn a completely new system?
Brian Bahr: Might be this year's Tim Tebow — young, fast, immensely talented, but still very raw. If he's our pick, we'd better have a veteran backup at the chief of staff position — maybe Lorne Kramer?
Buddy Gilmore: Like Bahr and Bach, he's most comfortable throwing to his right — a tendency that will encourage defenses to stack the left side of the line. Will he read and respond, or be buried by blitzing 'backers?
Tom Gallagher: Erratic veteran best-known for fighting with retiring QB Lionel Rivera, quarreling with the coaching staff and giving rambling interviews to local media. Undiplomatic, but fans who think that he's told them the truth may give him the chance to lead.
Richard Skorman: Self-effacing student of the game who once backed up Rivera as vice mayor. Understands the unique challenges of a locker room that might contain both Jan Martin and Douglas Bruce. Could compete immediately if skill positions are addressed.
The choice here is between free agent Mike "The Barnacle" Merrifield and Lisa Czelatdko. The Barnacle was a shut-down corner on the left side for both Manitou and the Legislature in past years. Tried out for the county last November but was summarily cut. Trying to revive his career at the city.
Lisa C has youth, speed and intelligence, but she'll have to learn fast if voters spend a high draft choice on her. County star Sallie Clark and draft analyst Sarah Jack warn that if the city passes her over, she'll be picked up by competitors such as the county or the Legislature.
Most observers expect the city will re-sign free agent Sean Paige. Quick and deceptive, Paige can feint to the left, cut right, and find daylight where a lesser player would be thrown for a loss. Whether Paige stays or not, expect the city to pick up injured veteran Tim Leigh, a converted QB who has kept opponents guessing for years.
Bruce, once the game's dominant player, is a likely free-agent pickup. Wants to team with old pal Ed Bircham, but can they still play? Bruce was cut from the county and Legislature, and was disciplined for unsportsmanlike conduct. He may be a spent force: too old and slow to disrupt opponents, but crazy enough to disrupt the locker room.
The city might want to choose Dan "R12" Reifschneider, who played well for Air Force, as well as veterans Bill Murray, Merv Bennett and Tony Exum. They're steady, capable players, not as flashy and eccentric as Bruce and his reformers, but unlikely to destroy chemistry with bizarre antics.
Two obvious choices here: re-sign Jan Martin and draft Brandy Williams. Williams could start immediately and, unlike Martin, she's a disciplined route runner. Martin took credit for devising the ill-fated "all go left, new taxes" play, which twice left her battered and bleeding on the field. Martin's fearless, but she'll be more effective with conservative play-calling. Voters might look at diminutive speedster Val Snider, who can run as fast as he talks — and that's fast!