Silver Lining for May 20: Updates on Florida Gators in the NFL; farewell to David Letterman

By Adam Silverstein
May 20, 2015

Get them to sign on the line which is dotted

Three weeks have passed since the 2015 NFL Draft and Florida Gators have spent the time signing rich contracts to play professional football.

The most notable deal struck to this point was that between No. 3 overall pick Dante Fowler Jr. and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Despite the defensive end suffering a season-ending torn ACL in his very first NFL practice and signing an injury waiver, the Jaguars did not force offset language into his contract and still inked him to a four-year, $23.5 million fully-guaranteed deal with a $15.3 million signing bonus. Fowler will bring home $4.27 million this season without stepping foot on the field.

“That’s the game of football,” Fowler told reporters gathered in Jacksonville during a media availability held after his injury. “You’re out there laying your life on the line every play. You don’t know what’s going to happen. And this is just one of those unfortunate things. But I’m going to be able to bounce back.”

The next former Gators player to sign his deal was running back Matt Jones, a Washington third-round pick. Jones inked for four years and $2.95 million; he will get a $599,415 signing bonus and take home $584,853 total in year one.

It appears as if Washington does not see Jones simply as a change-of-pace or third-down back. In fact, head coach Jay Gruden told CSN Washington that Jones may very well be part of a running-back-by-committee approach.

“The thing about Matt is you think of him as a big power-type back, but really Matt has done some things out in space that have been very, very impressive – making moves on the second level, getting to the second level,” he said. “In the passing game, running some option routes on linebackers. He has done some good things. He has got natural hands, so we’ve been very impressed him.”

It did not take long for the Denver Broncos to come to terms with its fourth-round choice, center Max Garcia, whose four-year, $2.63 million contract includes $345,692 in guarantees and $521,423 in take-home pay.

Garcia is already impressing his Denver teammates and the Broncos front office with his character. “There’s so much more I want to do with my life, so much more I want to be involved with,” he told the Denver Post. “There’s power in being a football player. What you do with that power is on you, and I can’t wait to use it and to give back.”

Many believed wide receiver Andre Debose and offensive lineman Trenton Brown would go undrafted for a variety of different factors. Instead, two California-based teams in the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers plucked Debose and Brown, respectively, off the board in the seventh round and have already signed those players to slotted deals.

Oakland will pay Debose $2.36 million over four years with $454,253 in year one, and San Francisco owes Brown $2.34 million over the same time period with $448,973 in 2015. Debose ($77,013) and Brown ($55,893) each earned relatively small signing bonuses but have the opportunity to impress and re-work deals if they can prove to be productive players early in their careers.

Immediately after the draft, defensive tackle Leon Orr (Raiders), tight end Clay Burton (Buffalo Bills), wide receiver Quinton Dunbar (Washington) and DT Darious Cummings (Carolina Panthers) each signed standard three-year, $1.58 million undrafted free agent deals that pay them $435,000 in year one.

Cummings has already been since been cut by Carolina.

First-round Arizona Cardinals offensive tackle D.J. Humphries, third-round Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Chaz Green and fifth-round Oakland linebacker Neiron Ball are the only drafted players who have yet to sign their rookie contracts.

Tryouts lead to signings

Orr, Burton, Dunbar and Cummings were the only undrafted Gators to be signed immediately but plenty of others received tryouts with teams throughout the league.

Tight end Tevin Westbrook got a shot with the Miami Dolphins but did not catch on. He wound up getting a second tryout, this time with the Tennessee Titans, and signed a standard undrafted free agent deal last week.

Similarly, running back Mack Brown got a chance to work out for the Houston Texans and was able to latch on with them, inking a standard undrafted free agent contract that got him into training camp.

That leaves fullback Hunter Joyer (torn ACL, no tryouts), punter Kyle Christy, long snapper Drew Ferris and offensive lineman Tyler Moore as the only rookie NFL-eligible Florida players that have not signed on with a team.

In other news… Wide receiver Solomon Patton was cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on May 11 and picked up off waivers by Denver on May 12. Running back Jeff Demps was released by the Indianapolis Colts on May 4.

Not Only Gators: David Letterman

From the moment David Letterman announced May 20 as the date of his last show and retirement from late night television, I knew there would be something written on this website as an ode to his legendary career and the thousands of times he made me laugh over the years.

You see, David Letterman has been on late night television longer than I’ve been alive. And from the moment I learned about the existence of late night television as a child, I’ve been watching David Letterman.

No one has made me laugh more often, more frequently or for a longer stretch of my life than Letterman.

Your grandparents may laud Jack Parr and Merv Griffin, your parents Johnny Carson, but people of my generation – at least those of us who realize his incomparable greatness (especially compared to that of the name-will-not-be-mentioned-here man who took over for Carson on The Tonight Show) – had the irreverent, unique, controversial and downright hysterical David Letterman.

Late Night exists mostly as a distant memory for me, but I caught the final few years, setting my alarm for four hours after my bedtime, keeping my room’s television volume on 5 and laughing into my comforter in order to ensure my mother did not wake up and catch me.

I remember her telling me that Letterman would not be getting The Tonight Show (as he was promised) and being so enthralled in the situation that I got her to buy me The Late Shift as my very first not-school-required summer reading material.

Letterman was the first person ever to host a late night show that actually started the next morning (12:35 a.m.). His ability to succeed in that timeslot is not only the reason it still exists but why Conan O’Brien is no longer a comedy writer and Jimmy Fallon is still employed in the entertainment industry after bombing out as a film actor. It is no wonder that both O’Brien and Fallon credit Letterman for not only trailblazing a path but supporting them once they succeeded him at Late Night.

After being passed over for The Tonight Show (read or watch The Late Shift for more on that situation), Letterman had opportunities to get a widely-syndicated 11 p.m. show on FOX or follow a big lead-in of Nightline with ABC at 12 a.m. Instead, he decided to go head-to-head with NBC and signed with CBS, the network brazen enough to make the substantial investment and give him that opportunity.

Simply put, Letterman kicked The Tonight Show‘s ass in 1993 and 1994. Though he eventually fell behind, he remained true to himself and the show he wanted to make, not succumbing to any tactics or bookings that bothered him but may have given the Late Show the boost it likely needed to take back the No. 1 spot.

Letterman has always been genuine. Unlike his primary competitor, he listened to his guests, asked relevant questions, injected his unique brand of comedy and somehow found a way to be consistently, cuttingly entertaining and honest through thousands of shows spanning four decades.

After being flashed by Drew Barrymore in 1995: “I can’t thank you enough for that.”

During his monologue after the Sept. 11 attacks: “If you didn’t believe it before – and it’s easy to understand how you might have been skeptical on this point – if you didn’t believe it before, you can absolutely believe it now: New York City is the greatest city in the world.”

During his monologue after his serious heart surgery: “While I was gone, I had quintuple bypass surgery on my heart. Plus, I got a haircut.”

I could go through his best recurring segments (actually, I do that below), list my favorite frequent guests (see below for that, too) or continue to break down exactly why, emotionally, Letterman means so much to me … and though I’m actually no one to him, if you watch his show, you know praise and sentiment are not things Dave is particularly comfortable with receiving.

Rather, I’ll just say goodbye. Goodbye and thank you. Thank you for the memories and smiles, laugh and tears. Thank you for showing me that you can be courageous as a professional and serving as a role model as someone man enough to get things done on your own terms in the face of adversity.

This Week’s Movie Trailer Top Ten List

Little Known Facts About Tim Tebow:

The Top 5 Ten List
From the home office in Wahoo, Nebraska…

What I will miss about Late Night/Late Show with David Letterman:
Honorable mentions: Rupert G and the Hello Deli, dropping things off buildings, hitting people with New York City cabs, throwing pencils

10. Stupid Human Tricks
9. David Letterman, Jay Thomas, NFL quarterbacks throwing footballs
7. CBS Mailbag / Small Town News
6. Alan Kalter
6. Dave’s Mom
5. Paul Shafer and the CBS Orchestra
4. Interviews with Howard Stern and Bill Murray
3. Biff Henderson
2. Top Ten lists
1. David Letterman

Thanks for reading. Leave your comments below.


  1. KB says:

    Great send off piece by you on Letterman. Always was a Letterman guy growing up and still remain so to this day. Just reading that brings back memories over several years watching The Late Show and being entertained by Dave. Had a chance when I was in New York to view the show live once but didn’t. I regret not doing so and now that his run is over I will never get to do. I knew Dave was big time but reading your piece and listening to several people talk on TV about Dave makes me realize more so than I ever imagined how revered David Letterman really is. Good luck to the next guy holding that spot on CBS because it’s tough following a legend. I will be watching tonight as every Letterman fan will.

    • Thanks, KB. I never got a chance to see the show live either. One of our readers works there and actually sent me some stuff last year, which was cool.

      • Dave Massey says:

        Any chance you are going to share some of that stuff with us, your loyal followers?

        Used to get home from work back in the 80’s when I was a graduate student and never missed Late Night. Later on my mom used to record them for me on VCR when I was in the Air Force and I would stay up and watch them until I couldn’t keep my eyes open when I came home on leave.

        For us older fans, I would like to put Paul Shafer and the Worlds Most Dangerous Band, Chris Elliot, and Larry ‘Bud’ Melman in the honorable mention category. And I would also like to give the big middle finger to Cher and Shirley McLaine, lol!!!

        I also feel bad for Stephen Colbert.

  2. Michael Jones says:

    Debose. 1 of many talented players that the old regime didn’t know or understand what to do with. Hence “old regime.”