The further adventures of Gooch....
I love what this guy has to say about agents........
Gooch leaves 'Wheelers for New Orleans Saints
A popular chant by Quad City Steamwheelers fans has become a self-fulfilling prophecy for star receiver Ira Gooch.
Go, Gooch, Go? Indeed. Gooch is gone -- and, for good, if angry QC coach Rich Ingold is to be believed -- after the Davenport West High product boarded a plane in a rush Monday night to join the NFL's New Orleans Saints in training camp.
Gooch joins former Bettendorf High and University of Iowa star Tavian Banks in Saints camp, hoping to land one of xx roster spots before the team opens the 2003 season on Sept. xx.
Gooch did not return messages left on his cellphone Monday seeking comment.
Ingold never received a call from Gooch, either. The 'Wheelers coach only was informed of the call-up by Gooch's agent, who was asking Ingold to release his second-year star from his QC contract so Gooch could sign with the Saints.
Ingold reiterated Monday night he'll not sign-off on the deal, which should block Gooch inking with the Saints, according to an af2 agreement with the NFL.
However, even if Gooch returns to his hometown, Ingold said he'll not be welcomed back to the 14-2 'Wheelers, who have a first-round playoff bye this weekend. QC captured the top-seed in the af2 playoffs -- and homefield advantage through the postseason -- on the final day of the regular-season just last Saturday.
``I'm not here to hinder his future,'' Ingold said. ``I'd waive him in a second if he had a legitimate shot to make the team.
``But, I know the NFL. My high school coach was Tom Donahue, who runs the Buffalo Bills now. I know (Saints) coach Jim Haslett and his offensive coordinator. They're all Pittsburgh guys like me. If they wanted Ira Gooch to make this team, they'd have signed him back in March or April, not July 28.
``They're doing what all NFL teams do at this time of year -- they're looking for a body to spell guys in camp, and to keep their guys fresh during the preseason. The bottom line is Ira's going to be back in two or three weeks, and we're going to be playing at The Mark and he's going to be sitting up in the stands eating popcorn.''
Even if Gooch calls Ingold today to talk over the situation, the coach said he's finished with his leading scorer in each of the last two seasons.
``I'm upset with the way this went down,'' Ingold said. ``Ira was part of the family we built here with this team, but if he got on a plane to New Orleans without making a phone call to me, he's done -- he's no longer part of our family.
``We'll be fine on the field, but this hurts me because I've had zero discussions with Ira about this and I thought we were close. He recruited a lot of guys for us. He was a major player for us. I loved him and I'd give him my blessing if I thought this was going anywhere, but it's not.''
Ingold said Gooch is getting bad information from his agent.
``I don't like agents. They're slime. They're bottom feeders trying to fill their pockets with money other people earn,'' Ingold said.
``I'm here to help these guys move up to the next level. I even tell them, `You don't need agents -- they're only there to pad their own pockets.' If he'd have called me, I'd have set him straight.''
The call-up came less than a week after Gooch and 10 others -- including former 'Wheelers Frank Carter and Jamarr Ward -- worked out for the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles.
Ironically, Gooch barely received any interest from Arena Football League teams last year after setting an all-purpose yards mark in the AFL's feeder circuit, arenafootball2.
Because Gooch got overlooked last season -- when four other 'Wheelers got promoted to the AFL -- teammates were not as angry as Ingold about the move by a player who turns 25 in December.
``It's a real Catch 22,'' lineman Jamaal Cherry said, denying any feelings of abandonment at a crucial time of the season. ``I'm sad he's leaving -- it's like losing a big brother -- but I think it's great he's getting the chance of a lifetime.''
Gooch finished third this season in af2 scoring with 246 points, and ranked seventh among the league's pass-catchers in receiving yards-per-game (91.6). Gooch's team-leading 91 receptions and 1,465 yards just missed making the af2's top 10.
A lock to make an all-league team this season, Gooch also ranked as one of af2's most-dangerous special-teams players, finishing fourth in all-purpose yards with 2,783 yards. Gooch returned three kickoffs for TDs and came within three yards of matching the af2 single-game all-purpose yards mark of 400 in a contest at Wichita earlier this season.
Besides rolling up a record 3,472 all-purpose yards last season, Gooch also set the af2's single-game combined kick returns record with 288.
Ironically, to improve his AFL stock, Gooch started this season in a two-way role, rather than return to offensive specialist and be the focal point of QC's league-best offense. Gooch, who ranked among the af2's top 10 in receptions, receiving yards and scoring last season, was coaxed back to offensive specialist four games into this season.
With Gooch gone, Ingold plans to re-insert Jeff Hewitt into the offensive specialists role he played for three weeks earlier this season -- winning af2 Offensive Player of the Week honors against af2's second-best team, Tennessee Valley. Hewitt is QC's second-leading receiver with 88 receptions, 1,338 yards and 31 TDs -- ranking among the af2's top 5 in scoring.
AFL veteran Danny Thomas will see increased minutes, replacing Hewitt in a two-way role. Davenport Assumption grad Matt Forbes -- the team's former starting safety, who just returned this week from a knee injury -- will fill the defensive backfield backup shoes abandoned by Thomas.
``We'll be fine. We'll get through this. We'll get it done (by winning a championship),'' Ingold promised.
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