Micro-economy still ‘suits me,’ Moore blunder speaks of excitement too

During pandemic, hoops behind Rama Elementary were only ones in Meck. County not double-2×4 stopped from use. New net was least I could do.

With two shifts left this pay period, I’m $2000 from goal, so yes, I’ll wear the Hugo Boss Blue on Saturday. Like Astros no-hitting Phillies, you ride your best players – that suit is $$$.

Having Sunday off, I shrieked with all of Charlotte for HUGE Moore helmet blunder, guess many still care. *Very* interesting game PJ!! up to finale. D’onta Foreman 118 yds, 3 TDs – that O-line was working. #Glenn Bossnblue, author, is a new cdtalententerprises.com product.

FYI, I early-voted, a ten minute commitment from parking and crossed blue line to check in to done. Visited with Mom before that, she just got her new chair with head rest, so took her outside to look at the lake and trees, then shot hoops for 25 minutes before 12:30 lunch and ready for work. That’s why people aren’t willing to surrender their daily freedoms in WFH mode instead of office mandate.

New Normal works for many. Hanging another net at Rama Road Elementary required standing on top of my car and holding onto the rim while threading the loops through. Took about same ten minutes as voting…Broke it in right, you betcha. I’ve liked shooting there forever, draining shots from Anchorage, Alaska part of America painted in parking lot is satisfying.

An undeniable Aww shit! moment

It doesn’t seem possible even yet, that Panthers star receiver DJ Moore would do ‘something like that.’ He’s been a great pro for couple years, a highly regarded route runner and genuinely tough guy to get on the ground. All respects due, and he got the contract extension to prove he’s All That. Yeah, BIG dramatic moment, because with a point after, a crucial victory would have immediately thrust the struggling Panthers back into a playoff position in the division.

Is it possible, watching as kicker Eddie Pineiro missed a 1) 48-yard extra point and 2) a chip shot FG to avoid defeat after Moore’s electrifying moment, we’ve achieved a renewed passion in Panthers fanbase? There wasn’t a bemoaning of being losers who stupid things always happen to, most attitudes include hope that got injected with the 62-yard TD, a beauty of a throw by PJ Walker, and Foreman’s productivity all day.

34 points! From end of third quarter, down 21-13, they displayed their most consistent playmaking all season. Marshall’s 40 yard catch-run to ten was a key play, and despite lots of flags, Panthers still finished the drive. The secondary was getting burned by Demarius Byrd on 47 yd. TD (31-28 ATL, Mariotta’s 3rd TD pass), with 2:14 to go, then CJ Henderson’s interception and 53 yard return changed the game.

A MISSED FG in OT! Some want to point blame there, but without that helmet penalty on Moore, its a cinch comeback W instead of an L – those two clutch misses would’ve never been necessary.

Voting is of infinitely greater concern

The prospects for near future mayhem and stressful times in the United (really?) States puts Moore’s bonehead move waaaay down the list of what the collective We the People should be thinking about.

As another weekend awaits, stating how I believe in the voting process is based on long term facts, two local elections worked on long ago, AMERICA writ large, and that US thing, is fact. My first vote as a 19 year old freshman was post-Nixon Watergate, as a J-major. A Boomer with Attitude, I’ll always take that responsibility seriously.

My first vote as a 19 year old freshman was post-Nixon Watergate, as a J-major. I’ll always take that responsibility seriously.

Contrast democracy as most of us have lived it, with a Wisconsin politician who proudly stated, “No Republican will ever lose an election again,” based on new proposed voting regulations. WTF?!

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/nov/02/wisconsin-republican-gubernatorial-candidate-tim-michels

Being disappointed/borderline shocked at the final result, the game itself was a good back and forth rivalry games should be. Meanwhile, the Russians have consistently rocketed utilities in the Ukraine, leaving many in the dark and cold of November. Winter approaching without Russian gas is a very real concern for most of Europe.

An American footballer took off his helmet and his team lost the game? Speaking of football, we’re taking the first round of World Cup at the Royale & Blathering in Blightsworth, right? Nobody ‘out there’ cared about it for a second.

Ron Johnson (Senator, WI), and in North Carolina, Candidate (R) Ted Budd want to eliminate the Social Security system, what this Boomer with Attitude has paid into, like MILLIONS have, their whole lives. Pres. Biden understands that basic, which seems lost on every Repub’s talking/non-talking campaigns points about ‘entitlements.’

Took bundled up Mom in her just-arrived new ‘buggy’ outside to see the lake and check foliage. Its 73 degrees today, bike ride as New Normal max affirming..

Will a woman’s right to determine what she does with her body be a MAJOR factor in stomping out ‘white guys know better’ thinking on the most elemental level in 2022 elections? You better believe it, GOP.

DJ Moore will catch more touchdown passes, one unsmart action probably forgiven very soon, and he’ll (almost) certainly keep his helmet on. Perhaps, relative to a one-off event, previous (election) experience proved early and mail-in voting is legitimate and effective, and some of those many millions of already cast votes are from GOP-type people who recognize using other methods of exercising their rights.

If not, those ‘unqualified candidates’ Mr. McConnell spoke of might want to borrow that protective helmet, most deserved defeating.

Ten minutes of effort, and $50 in donations, that’s ballots not bullets America. Things figure to be as close on Tuesday as 34-34 was last week, just a lot more important going forward than what happens regarding a single athlete’s mistake.

Deliberately deciding to have NO PLATFORM to vote for, just saying INFLATION INFLATION INFLATION and threatening litigation by every election-Denier that could destabilize America another two years, I vote against that negative, irrational, non-governmental non-agenda. Sorry if your micro-economy isn’t ‘suiting’ you as well as mine. Stay strong.

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Triple shots of Bugachi, Double suits on Dad made Micro-economy shine, Hoops in Charlotte sun makes Monday better than Panthers was

Selling *eleven* of those very good-feeling shirts ($170) Sunday was product knowledge and good service. Finding 3-size 3Xs – I didn’t know they existed until checking the computer -was a $500 difference maker. Was on sales floor 20 minutes Monday when Mr. Froelich and his son literally walked into a pair of 44L Peter Millar suits ($895). Way to start a day, and appreciate banker Dad who knew suits, shared enthusiasm about A-1 service while getting two really good ones for son’s job in CA .

Totally unexpected: $20 tip from a 40-yr. old gentleman after I ‘sized’ him, and provided 10 minutes of good intell on suit factors. ie. Fill or indent of shoulders, sleeve length (S-R-L), 6″ standard difference between jacket size and pants, ‘close’ and ‘tight’ on slim cuts. He’d never had a clue what to look for in the process.

Wore Boss Blue jacket, Nautica shirt and Nantucket Red pants, new Steve Madden shoes ($120, cognac) Sat., went full ‘Blue’ Sunday.

Alpha Dog? OK for Baker, feelin’ it a little myself with Micro-economy

— Glenn S., ‘Mr. Hugo Boss Blue,’ 9/11/22

Nobody doubted Baker Mayfield’s worth during the 4th quarter of Panthers first game of the season, especially his seven yard scamper for TD. Despite losing the first game of season at home to Browns 26-24, there are a reliable number of fans still on Panther bandwagon, most looking for more McCaffrey carries.

STATS – Mayfield https://www.pff.com/nfl/players/baker-mayfield/46518 produced a TD run, the difference (6 pts.) in 17.9 ppg for Panthers in 2021. Just sayin’.

Robby Anderson is happy with 75 yard TD catch, check. DJ Moore 3/43 receiving, tough day for new kid Ekwonu to block DE Myles Garrett (2 sacks) – check. One TD (1 yd. run) no injuries for McCaffrey, with 10 rushes/33 yards and 4 catches/24 receiving yards. Check. Panthers had 4 fumbles off snap miscues – fixing that is mandatory.

The defense wasn’t stellar most of day – Nick Chubb had 141 yards on 22 carries – but held late, so Cleveland’s York needed a 58-yard bomb for the winning FG. Browns weren’t supposed to give up 17 in the 4th, so Mayfield gets ‘almost’ credit. Sunday still goes down as a loss, BUT…I expect to buy a ticket or two, a game for $40 could be real this year.

My micro-economy – We have product, I have expertise

  • Brookes Brothers small corduroy shirts ($118), big rugby stripes and big wale pants (golden brown, green) will kill. Yes, more preppy stuff than we’ve seen, and this is a great market for it. Sales-wise, it doesn’t seem we’re losing anything to Peter Millar reopening in nearby Phillips Place.
  • Plenty of Canali suits, a wall full of Ted Baker, sports coats, and even tuxedos available now. Hugo Boss gets prime spot across front of department, with plenty of ‘Blues,’ which I (perhaps immodestly) have repped well. Talks with customers affirms they trust me as very competent, able to impart inform/opinions. Leading people to good choices 1-1 with great SERVICE counts in micro-economy.
  • All three suits Monday were Millars, a natural choice if a guy is ‘thicker.’ Gentleman with fiancée carrying a dramatically wrong size Boss (they liked the color coming in, naturally) listened-followed up well about successful change to Millar cut. Having six people in Alterations Dept. allows us to commit to tight needs, like a three day turnaround. Free hemming and a reasonable $15 expedite fee is a relief for customers, their professional opinions always a great hole card for us salespeople.
  • Finding 3X Bugachis were actually in the store, because I checked the inventory on computer, became a $500+ sale instead of sending a guy with bowling ball-type shoulders away with zero. “It feels great!” is the most common response of Bugachi ‘tryer oners,’ and its a low maintenance garment – hang dry, no wrinkles or ironing – with 8-way stretch that stays close but not tight.
  • Settling on a solid cream/striped tie (Donahue, $115) that shadowed Mom’s dress, with a classy off-white oooo! feeling Bugachi, the step-Dad in charcoal suit was a great ‘tryer oner.’ Both were happy with decision – after three calls about groom changing suit colors, they could say, “No sweat, we’ve got ours.”
  • Greatest challenge is still, “This young man needs a suit,” because they’re usually thin guys. I find a short presentation of What Abouts with designers usually moves the needle positively. Kudos to the Mom who happily got her son all in black (“Like Neo in ‘The Matrix'”) all smiling for the effort, finding a $299 Topman jacket and $129 pant separates. An $850 Baker (Size 36) looked great, but 29 waist pants wouldn’t have lasted long on growing 16 year old.

About hoop shooting, Lifestyle, New Normal

Heading for October, #gshorkonsharonroadseam has been a stable, productive, very nice, safe to be location, a 1000% step up, being across the street from the Myers Park CC pickleball courts for 11 months, not tip-toeing with homelessness. Its a world of difference about New Normal. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/12/11/vaxxed-check-with-a-comma-threat-of-homeless-handled-well-a-good-suit-feel-to-end-of-2021/

Working afternoon-evening shift at Nordstrom, I’ve put $$$ in the bank, re-established my writing discipline at creative and professional content creation levels. I take pride in how affirming physical elements are with cycling, read with my Mom weekly, good days are cherished.

Two things I’ve always believed in absolutely – my jump shot, and a God-given, frequently sharpened writing ability. With two bricks, you’ve got something to build with.

Getting out for even 25 minutes of hoops regularly in gorgeous Charlotte sunshine has been a bedrock to my physical state forever. At 65, five months into my 29th year in Charlotte, I’m a Boomer with Attitude, and tagging a hoops session on after work is still a terrific habit.

What constitutes New Normal is the Social Security and Medicare that kicked in this year. Pretty sure I’m going to finally need glasses.

Growing up, even before first FICA deduction, we Boomers heard regularly about shaky finances with Social Security UNLESS things were changed, These benefits are long-term commitments, NOT ENTITLEMENT PROGRAMS subject to political rhetoric or negotiated loss. It was insurance, a safety net, and we Boomers paid up every step through FICA.

Reading with Mom started with bike riding earlier to beat summer heat, a very affirming new habit.

I was glad when my first check arrived last August. Apparently there’s a COLA (cost of living adjustment) I’ll benefit from soon as well.

Millions of people getting a chunk of student debt forgiven? Not a problem by me. Graduating in Spring of 1975, when South Vietnam was overrun in track-speed time – the worst finish to a US war in history, including the documented final ‘copter out rooftop desperation – I’ve always felt WAY lucky to not have been involved in that meat grinder. My year older brother Mike, driving around the country in a 37’ RV with two beagles, actually had a valid number.

Taking ten grand or so off a couple million poor bastards debt, my Normal as Any Life since then is worth cutting somebody else extra slack. Not my $$$, really. And hey! we don’t need to hear “It’s not enough!” either.

FYI

One very New Normal was ordering a case of wine through National Geographic ($59.99++). Never let it be said I didn’t do the least I could for a good cause. Also, a personal ‘double down’ on a Democratic ‘7 seats for $7’ campaign, see what evil they can stop with my $15. (Sort of) New Normal – I’m squeezing in a four game Sunday of Little League umpiring for 13 year olds, only 2nd time out this year. American Family Baseball rocks.

Social Security benefits are long-term commitments, NOT ENTITLEMENT PROGRAMS subject to political rhetoric or negotiated loss. It was insurance, a safety net, and we Boomers paid up every step through FICA.

— Me, because documented naysayers that GOP are, their reaching for the legendary ‘3rd Rail’ by talking about Social Security as a budget drag is truly, breathtakingly stupid. (Yeah, I’m looking at you, Ron Johnson.)

How I feel about life since our North Carolina COVID shutdown https://cdtalententerprises.com/2020/03/30/hoops-heat-for-lockdown-prep-weekend-worries-about-ny/ and the relative freedom of going unmasked to a stadium full of Panther fans in September, 2022? New Normal has been working out pretty good, even thumped some tennis balls against a wall in semi-celebration of ‘official’ end of pandemic. Thanks Brandon!

Caught a Knights afternoon game, a Homer Dog with beef dog, bacon bits, coleslaw.

Hugo Boss ‘Blue’ as micro-economy bonus, New Normal as Fine Summer, Opportunity Knocks in America, Mayfield on my Mind

During recent Anniversary Sale, had two-5 suit days then and fairly steady couple weeks into August since, so I treated-invested myself in style, such a great suit. Nailing $4000 on a Monday night Fact: People are still spending $$$. Still about my micro-economy, sold four more suits Saturday, two after signing out! Loved stopping at a 50 cent lemonade stand around the corner, classic 80s weather for biking the Booty Loop is sweet.

Panthers training camp quote, “You want to pick him 12 times just to make him (Mayfield) shut up,” is going to be a classic.

She noticed the Hugo Boss ‘Haze’, He Stated His Case

Never a bad thing to have a good-looking woman want to take a picture of you in a really nice suit.

Reporting regularly from prime turf here in (Nordstrom) Charlotte, I’m not seeing the economic malaise some have been fearing. There have definitely been slack times, but those I’m serving-talking with, nobody is really squawking at prices, and suits are about $150 more than at start of the year ($895-950 on Boss, Baker, Millar stock, Canali’s $1,695 sport coats).

We’ve gotten way better than previous product levels support , starting just before Anniversary Sale in early July.The new configuration of Suits area supports fact not everyone in department should be trying to sell suits.

The two couples I helped late Saturday were a 100% gift-wrapped pair of sales. After talking with one where wife thought he should check out other suits vs. ‘just’ Boss, even though they both loved how he looked, I gave them a card with suit info, and checked out at 8:00.

Recognizing I’d left my notebook in a drawer, I drove around the mall, and after putting on my blinkers to scoot in, they came walking from the parking garage and said, “Oh, sorry you’re leaving, but we’d like to order that suit.”

Without even checking back in, I ordered his ‘Blue,’ then had to ask about wanting to see other suits.

“I made my case,” he said, she said, “He knew he wanted that suit.” Since both were still smiling, he did an excellent job.

The incredible part was a couple standing behind him immediately asking if I could size him for a sports coat, because he was leaving for Atlanta the next day, then deciding to buy a $950 gray Baker. That’s over $1800 in sales, and I knocked it all out in 25 minutes.

— Me, 8/20/22, and then I had a bourbon at the Palms, in tribute to Wil Butler, Gentleman.

People spend money on selected, useful, quality items

  • Saying “Everyone likes Peter Millar” is truth. No doubt about Moms buying for sons heading to college. consistently and right now. We can’t keep pants in stock, I thought we were on replenishment with suits?
  • That $4,000 Monday, I was only person-cashier in half the department for last two hours, and customers seemed to buy what they had in their hands.
  • First contact of the day was rewarded by changing search from size 18 neck to 17.5 “Because I’m not wearing a tie,” and wound up with three (Donahue, $155) shirts instead of none.
  • I was standing right next to a Nordstrom hyper-light check sport coat ($259) in 42Reg, and found 34/30 Nordstrom pants, when a client who needed a jacket for funeral asked what he might be able to wear without alterations.
  • Helped a Dad with a younger child and stroller child, to try on four suits! He wants three more soon, and is losing weight steadily. He’s got my card.

My on-going point is still about keeping customer service as best practices, its a consistent and reasonable dividing line for people. Gentleman who checked out shirts the other day, came back with fiancée for one we’d felt good about with a nice Calvin Klein blue suit. She’s a frequent shopper there, let me know previous Nordy service “your reputation for getting best possible results is great by me, or even for those who don’t know exactly what they want.”

I like the vibe of knowing people I talk with are getting what I’m sending out (‘If it doesn’t say Trim, its not, and shirt looks like this…’) and its still a minor Boomer challenge to put people into good-better looking stuff. College-kid lady appreciated my finding the last, Small gray Millar half-zip on a Few & Final rounder. My attitude is, if its here, I’ll bring it. People’s smiles come through any mask when you bring the size and color needed.

That customer service best practices and a consistent, knowledge based-style is a reasonable dividing line for people regarding my efforts, opinions, and stories is an on-going belief.

50 Cent pink lemonade (and Mayfield)

Around the corner on Sharon, #gshorkonsharonroadseam

Having two quarters in my pocket wasn’t New Normal, just very much like we’d all like to imagine Before was like, walking through my #gshorkonsharonroadseam neighborhood and happening on a lemonade stand with several adults around, just before a rainstorm hit. I’ve never forgotten a truck driver type who asked me why I was snapping the lid down on the pitcher, he might want some more. His buddies bought some too. If I’d had a buck or two the other day, I would have tipped well – though less than the pair of $5s in the till.

Getting two offers for a ride home once it started raining, I said no, I’d planned on walking in the rain. One of the Moms with a golf cart full of kids, handed me a Modelo, and that’s as friendly as it gets, North Carolina or anywhere else.

#cdtalententerprises.com

Baker, ‘and it wasn’t close’

Baker Mayfield is going to be welcomed, and yes, Panthers needed an alpha-type for quarterback; Brian Burns get the role on defense. He’s going to benefit greatly from having McCaffrey to hand the ball to and catching check-downs, and a muuuuch improved offensive line. I can’t be the only person who thinks CMC made O-line look better than they might have been with his 1000-1000 season, but they’re solid now. Even have backups. (Yes, healthy comes up with CMC, but never from me).

Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo has emphasized line play elsewhere (Giants), https://www.panthers.com/team/coaches-roster/ben-mcadoo, and new Line Coach James Campen (from Green Bay, 19 yrs. a coach) was an upgrade too. https://www.panthers.com/team/coaches-roster/james-campen

Rhule finally said it was Baker, and everybody likes gritty guys gettin’ it done. The training camp quote, “You want to pick him 12 times just to make him shut up,” is going to be a classic. Baker is going to earn plenty of acclaim, and dough, after converting part ($3.5MM) of his Browns salary into incentive $$$ with Panthers. Charlotte likes its sports people to do good in the community, just sayin’.

This offense can go long now. Mayfield can make all the throws, that 13-play drive against Pats last week is exactly what you’d want your #1 to do. DJ Moore will earn that contract https://www.nfl.com/news/panthers-sign-wr-d-j-moore-to-three-year-extension-worth-61-9m-in-new-money#: Anderson will be happy, several rookies have shined.

The team has a strong core of leaders, Phil Snow’s Panther defense could be special. With Baker ‘Our Guy Under Center,’ the best possible upgrade mission will have been accomplished, thank you GM Scott Fitterer.

9-8 and playoff whispers for team will mean Rhule’s last three years are locked in.

–Glenn Shorkey, http://www.cdtalententerprises.com/ 8/24/22

Mayfield won’t throw dumb INTs because he feels a sack is worse, he isn’t an anxious rookie, nor is he broken physically, after playing hurt in 2021 with a sore left shoulder. Seeing the mess that Cleveland is QB-wise with Watson’s suspension, he should feel free to chime in on the Sweet Caroline’s “So Good! So Good! So Goods!” any time he, or wife Emily Wilkinson, feel like it.

Six reasons (beside Rhule’s history) to keep a positive vision on 2022, the QB ‘upgrade,’ as Panthers get Mayfield cheap

Baker Mayfield will continue to be a MAJOR source of interest in Charlotte, now that Positive Reason #1, Panthers GM Scott Fitterer, has fixed their QB situation, again. Props to Baker for converting a manly chunk of guaranteed salary into incentive pay, its what moved the needle. Cam is *definitely* off the board.

Walking to the terrific Queens University campus is less than a mile, and its truly a jewel in Charlotte’s crown. It was an idyllic 4th of July, with a car parade, and young families – Yo! Nick Savarino with three little ones – pouring in from all directions.

Another under-loved QB comes to Charlotte

I actually cheered when Matt Stafford got out of Detroit last year. Stafford seemed like a good player whose Lions always lost, wasn’t going anywhere (but years he would never forget, as per his phone commercial). Then the Rams asked what it would take to replace Jared Goff with him, and it paid off in a Super Bowl win, as Stafford got good ball to all their receivers.

Fitterer brought Sam Darnold to Charlotte last year after three poor seasons with Jets, under nearly the same circumstances as Mayfield’s deal. Less draft capital (a conditional #5) spent, and Mayfield doesn’t have the $18.85MM option tag fans have opined about Mr. Tepper picking up too quickly (though in line with CBA). He also pulled a 3rd round pick out of his hat to get Mississippi QB Matt Corral this year.

Lets hope Mayfield brings a real chip on shoulder attitude regarding nobody wanting him for $18 million. Darnold beat his old Jets to start last year, but Baker hanging a quantity of whupa** (300 yards, 3 TDs enough?) on Cleveland to start 2022 season will have fans singing ‘Sweet Caroline’ SO GOODs! for him.

Mayfield keeping DJMoore, McCaffrey, Robbie Anderson et al happy with distribution like Stafford’s would be a darn good first step. “Super Bowl” shouldn’t pass anyone’s lips.

–Me, and IMHO, minimum number of Ws for Rhule’s Rule on ‘major 3rd year improvement’ should be nine wins. It’s still Tepper’s $$$.

CMC is *always* open, or just turning and give the rock to him is legitimate. There’s a TOTALLY new O-line, $$$ well-spent, including local product Ikem Ekwonu, the stud OLT Panthers have missed forever, props to Jordan Gross. Podcaster Colin Cowherd feels Baker could be best QB in the division soon, because they’ll give him every chance to produce- and Brady has to retire sometime.

BIG Reason #2 – Christian McCaffrey

As noted in his Panther bio:

Despite only playing seven games in 2021 due to injury, Christian McCaffrey became the fastest player to reach 3,000 receiving yards and 3,000 rushing yards in NFL history, doing it in his first 57 career games.

Christian McCaffrey is a documented high-achiever, and he’s ready to tear it up again, after most of two years on the shelf (99 carries/442 yds./1 TD in 2021). Its difficult to judge whether he made the Panthers offensive line look better than it was with the 1000 yards rushing and receiving year, but that’s kind of the standard he’ll be looking at. Running behind a much improved O-line should be gratifying to all.

Yes, “staying healthy” often comes up, but stop that noise about wearing out/breaking CMC now. Long-time Panther linebacker Thomas Davis https://www.panthers.com/team/players-roster/thomas-davis/ had knee surgeries that would have ended many careers, and he had 14 seasons of thrills to his credit.

Anyone who thought McCaffrey was trade bait for DeSean Watson trade was nuts. HE sure didn’t like riding the bench, wasn’t given the choice.

#3 – How much better can Defense be?

Lets make two things clear- the Panthers D was #2 in the league, allowed 305 yards/game – giving up 23.8 points was 21st (of 32). The cupboard clearly isn’t bare on that side of the ball, and Defensive Coordinator Phil Snow isn’t riding on reputation at 67. https://www.panthers.com/news/phil-snow-excited-by-all-his-new-options Some pretty solid flag planting was done last year, 36 sacks, coming from a bottom three in league ranking in nearly every category the year before Snow arrived.

JEREMY CHINN is a bright and effective weapon wherever he lines up, Jaycee Horne has lots of peoples attention, coming back from a broken foot. Burns, Brown, Shaq Thompson, several free agent signings, the squad has risen from road kill to quite respectable. Hasson Riddick’s 11.5 sacks/12 tackles for loss/18 QB hits is a free agent loss (3 yr./$45MM with Eagles), but what comes out of Spartanburg should thrill fans often.

In a division with The GOAT (Brady), Atlanta and the Saints look vulnerable at QB – Panthers won’t fear Jameis Winston at the controls. If/when the defense stops giving up short scoring drives and the offense puts points on board (17.9ppg, 29th) vs. three and outs, those sacks become more important. It would still be better if ‘Action’ Jackson used speed to tip balls away vs. whacking receivers immediately after catches.

#4 – Baker Mayfield – Size of fight in the dog

They used to respect a guy being gutsy, playing through injury, and that obviously cost Baker with stats. Brownies bet the franchise on Deshaun Watson, he was out on salary, not Good Baker-Bad Baker performance. He lit things up with 26 TD-8 INT season and a playoff win against arch-rival Pittsburgh the year before.

7/6/22 – Me, okay with Baker Mayfield (and McCaffrey) playing with chips on their shoulder this year.

The first time he throws a 60 yard rainbow to the flag that DJ Moore comes down with, I won’t be the only Panther fan to spit my beer in joy. Cam NEVER had that throw.

STATS don’t tell the story of fight in the dog analogies, and his history of Attitude-talent, bouncing from Texas Tech to OK and a national championship and Heisman is well known. As with Cam and Darnold, all that sort of gets baked into the way we’ll be looking at results. The first time he throws a 60 yard rainbow to the flag that DJ Moore comes down with, I will spit my beer in joy. Cam NEVER had that throw.

New Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo’s teams in NY were run-oriented, but CMC is going to be a huge pain for linebackers on all the check down passes he’ll get. *Maybe* they’ll even throw it to Hubbard if they lighten CMC’s reps. Nobody wants him or DJ Moore out in space – tough to get on the ground.

#5 OFFENSIVE LINE, Especially OT Ikem Ekwonu

The Panthers are back in Spartanburg, SC after a new practice facility-headquarters deal in Rock Hill blew up. In 2018, the heat index was brutal at 10 a.m., most spectators wisely in minimal shade.

There was rejoicing all around with the ‘local boy makes good’ choice of Ekwonu, a Providence Day (Charlotte) grad who played collegiately at North Carolina State. At 6’4″, 320 pounds, he’s the epitome of protecting a quarterbacks blind side, and wowed! all with pancake blocks on a regular basis. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2022/03/25/panthers-6-pick-cant-fill-two-major-needs-so-7-ideas-for-gm-fitterer-to-consider-along-the-way/

Taylor Moton was considered an underachiever in Year 2, but he’s a stud at 28 now, all right? One of five players in league to play every snap the last four years. Got the contract extension last year to prove it. Christiansen will apparently get his shot at LG, and along with several solid free agent signings, Panthers will now have depth to run OC McAdoo’s run-oriented offense, after years of moving players all over when injuries occurred.

There’s some evidence that the line which was good enough to help McCaffrey get that rare 1000-1000, might have hidden some blemishes.

The difference McCaffrey makes to an offensive line is elemental, his ability to go long is inspirational – hold your block that fraction of a second and CMC could be checking his style on the big screen for last ten yards of a score. While previous OC Joe Brady’s offensive scheme didn’t impress the NFL, McAdoo has Moton and Ikem where he wants them, and James Campen is a well regarded line coach. https://www.panthers.com/news/panthers-adding-james-campen-offensive-line-coach

#6 Winning cures Everything

Perhaps its a little easier to understand how losing organizations fans are somehow cheered by the start of another year. Stafford would be a poster child for that – Detroit always felt if they got a few more quality players (a few? sorry…) they could be competitive, because they had an above average QB. That Charlotte, after a pair of 5 win seasons, smells that same air is encouraging.

In the 2015-16 Super Bowl year, fans here reallllly weren’t believing getting there was possible, not until they mauled Dallas 33-14 on Thanksgiving to get to 10-0. They also thought they’d been Carolina nice enough to Darnold to get him thinking-playing righter down here, so adding even a definitely better QB isn’t going to move a lot of needles. Just sayin’.

Its way too early for any kind of projection, although my suspicion about nine wins earns Rhule his contract is a flag in the sand. Tepper decided not to cut bait OR fish on an $800 million Rock Hill HQ, but eating the last years of Rhule’s contract if he’s found wanting in victories/growth doesn’t seem likely to be necessary. Neither will any further discussion of Cam somehow getting a spot on even a 90-man roster in Charlotte.

8 Examples of Great for Mother’s Day – When She’s Happy, Everyone’s Happy (@the mall)

After a sometimes frustrating day directly related to on-going supply problems – like no tuxedos to sell! – from time spent on tie selection to finding a pair of size Small black shorts, Mom’s deserve their reputations for successful shopping. They also appreciate those who help them.

Moms #1 and #2

Day after Mother’s Day, not lilies. #gshorkonsharonroadseam

Abe Madkour, Publisher/Exec. Editor of Sports Business Journal/Daily, and wife Christina are what personal relationship building with clients is all about. Sunday they brought three suits to put together shirts and tie outfits with – two blues and a darker one, with plaid elements of copper/burgundy.

A frequent question of mine is, “Is he a good try-er on-er?” and while she said not particularly, “Abe knows where he wants to get to on situations, and he does what’s necessary.” That involved trying on five and buying three shirts, including ordering a lavender-speck shirt that set offs an A-1 hot raspberry and dark paisley tie choice. IMHO, guys are mostly past the not trying on attitudes of yore.

Collectively we nailed his “I want some things that always look good, and one combination that’s definitely major pop!”

Coming from our alterations area and having the lady and teen son already at checkout with a decent pile of clothes, was a revelation. Best practices first question is to ask whether they’d been working with anyone – maybe they’re getting another item in back – her response a gratifying, “I’m working with YOU.”

Just sayin’, glad the current manager was close enough to hear that, we’ve had some hoo-ha! about customer grabbing recently.

What became an $800 sale began with my questioning whether black shorts she wanted to order in Small matched options on my screen. Going back to find another size to help with search, she returned with the desired black shorts, a large ‘S’ on front tag kid hadn’t seen. If that isn’t the archetypical Mom move…

Going back to find another size that might help with search, she returned with the desired black shorts, a large ‘S ‘on front tag.

If that isn’t the archetypical Mom move…

Half-way through the ringing up, Ray passed behind me and said, “I forgot all about them,” later explaining he’d gone upstairs after putting them in the dressing area to have a quick sandwich on a busy day. He relaxed, forgot, and yet no bad feelings because he knew the sandwich, not me, was the point.

#3 – Mom got lilies

Brother Steve took some great looking lilies to Mom at Carmel Hills, and said she was awake and coherent while he served her lunch. She was a strong eater the last time I was there, and nobody minimizes what Good-er Days means to all of us.

With plentiful traffic throughout Mother’s Day, lacking certain basics in current suit-tuxedo market affects my micro-economy directly. Having kept a selling streak going over a decently long stretch, over a month, when ‘Not available in black’ is the search answer for a size 40 or 42 (but plenty of 38 Shorts) for anything, you have a clear supply problem.

Putting guys into any Peter Millar suits or jackets has been iffy, the only positive is knowing how brisk my selling COULD BE if product was available.

Guys know why they are buying suits, weddings or old stuff doesn’t fit. If I can’t get a prom guy hooked up, I can ‘size him’ as information for all to go forward with in search. As a small point of personal pride, a Mom or Dad’s thank you so much! for the time and information, call it small ‘L’ legend building.

Me, often, because it counts plenty to provide that extra service.

Maybe that’s when you earn those times a Mom finds her son’s shorts and says, “YOU are helping me.”

#5 A fantastic leftover stir fry

Knowing all it’d take to satisfy me at 8:00pm would be a pack of noodles and the rest of squash, broccoli, orange pepper, onion, mushrooms and last of hickory smoked sauce, with two country ribs of chunked pork from Saturday night mmm-mmm! ahhh . Microwaved and again proof that leftover Chinese is always worth eating, just boil fast noodles, add crispy chow mein noodles, feet up, watching playoff hockey.

Three hours, two pair of socks!

Until walking into jackpot situation at register with Ms. Combs and son, the only sale on my scoreboard was two pair of socks. Two bing! bing! situations later, its a much brighter day. The challenge of juggling opinions – including a daughter and teen friend’s votes – with the Madkour’s was smile-worthy. Dad told us four guys, “If Momma’s happy, everyone’s happy,” a truth I helped many attain yesterday.

There’s no question about telling people there’s an online place at bottom of receipt if they want to tell management how helpful I was. Also, how #cdtalententerprises.com on card I often give them has blogs specifically about my POV on economy from behind the register.

— Me, lately.

A regular flow of prospects was available most of seven hours, and I’m a pro, never a need to panic, especially since we’ve gotten Peter Millar product. EVERYBODY likes Millar stuff. Salesperson-wise, its simple to enlighten customers about the fact more is now available size-wise. People smile when I add, “At least some of its finally off a ship, onto a truck, and gotten to here.”

Pointing out new possibilities is an easy intro to whether there’s something they want. “Do you have…?” is music to my ears.

SERVICE is still the keyword. Finding that single 17.5″ neck, 36-37″ sleeve the computer says is available ALWAYS counts. People might have gotten used to ordering on line, but getting good help face-to-face is a factor many, many people mention regarding me.

Talking to multiple shoppers will mean some are already with another salesperson, integrity is appreciated, often found lacking in retail. Talking with Abe and Christina Madkour was a terrific luck of the draw while walking through suits, other times its just a comment or two and keep walking. I considered it a social interaction, actually fun, the back-forth of likes and how abouts, time agreeably invested.

I later recognized I’d played hoops with Abe over twenty years ago, Sunday or Monday night at St. Gabriel. Might have even approached him about sports-business writing, a talent I still work with.

#7 People buy from people they like

Yes, I absolutely was stylish Sunday, thanks to another appearance of my light green Palm Springs jacket, with mallards on classic green Vineyard Vines tie, slim cut blue with white slashes (Nordstrom brand) pants and sneakers. Classic white with green stripe Polo shirt was sharp, useful showing what ‘Trim’ means vs. Regular. Its not just a coincidence a Woman like Christina asked me for help making Abe look sharp.

#8 A half-hour shooting session after work, a hockey story

#gshorkonsharonroadseam

As both long time de-stressor and thinking resource, shooting hoops has always helped keep my scene stable. During worst of pandemic, the three rims in back of Rama Road School were only ones in Charlotte without rims rendered useless by 2×4 section across them. There’s a colored map of US in parking lot, sometimes I shoot from Anchorage, Alaska.

This picture of a now raggedy red-white-blue net, our backyard court in Schenectady, NY often had such a net. Easy to remember how Mom, in her sewing room upstairs, would hear a Shit! slip out of her teenage sons during 3-3 games, everyone knew it was a five minute penalty.

Another Mom memory while watching the hockey. Back in college, brother Steve brought Mom, Dad, Aunt Jo, Uncle Howard, and cousin Mike, to my Brockport Girls Hockey Club game at Cornell’s Lynah Arena, before his JV hoops game.

Keeping the story short, our rag-tag ten girls – some without cages on borrowed intramural helmets – opened an 8-2 can of whupass on a 20 girl Ithaca College team with identical equipment, helmets, and jerseys. Four girls with two goals apiece, Judy Dufresne was a star in goal. My feet didn’t touch the ice afterwards, walking over to offer their coach a “Good game.”

After borrowing green jerseys from the Brockport Men’s team Friday after practice, I’d tossed them in an equipment bag, never thinking about them until passing cold, wet, stankin’ jerseys out to the girls Saturday afternoon.

When they objected to the conditions, all I said was, “Put them on, we need to tape numbers on the back.” It seemed like Ithaca didn’t want to go near our girls… Many are probably grannies now. (Forty-three years ago. smh, the thought of those jerseys when I opened that bag. I’m crying laughing…)

Between periods, when I went into the stands to talk to my family, Mom mentioned “All the girls seem to have enormous rear ends.”

She had no idea the pants were padded.

Thanks for the memories Mom, and all the rest of the Mom-ness along the way.

‘Great Suit Feeling’ in retail continues, Queens Cup races a social grace, Panthers get stud left tackle Ekwonu

My personal micro-economy gets #1 for attention, but the steeplechases are a premier Must-Do live in NC sunshine event, one I’ve enjoyed five times. Our American football? vs. futbol team has drafted help in a VERY big way. Hellllloooo Ikem Ekwonu!

Tony did a great job on an old pinstripe

Customers respond to someone who walks the talk with style, redone pinstripe was a worthy micro-economy investment.

An analogy between what the Carolina Panthers have recently said regarding QB Sam Darnold and my new-look classic blue suit is righteous. You appreciate the bones-skills, but it doesn’t look quite right.

Who didn’t know the Panthers have been wringing their hands, about how to upgrade the position AND fix an underlying problem with offensive protection, specifically at left tackle in the draft? Darnold hadn’t overly-impressed anyone in ten starts in 2021, picking up his 5th year option early was seen as a misstep.

Then, in days before yesterdays draft, there were headlines about ‘Mr. Tepper likes QB Panthers have,’ and ‘Steve Smith says Carolina hasn’t seen how good Sam Darnold can really be’ (duh), and similar stories.

Did someone in the brain trust decide running down Darnold for $18MM due in another season and negatives of stats https://www.pff.com/nfl/players/sam-darnold/29048 was less effective than putting a “We could win with Sam!” face on things? (Still, I doubt anybody would want to be in Baker Mayfield’s cleats right now…)

Relative to my suit – I can’t really remember how old it is, certainly from the previous centuryit owed me nothing. ‘Just a suit,’ like Darnold coming from Jets, just a QB.

It didn’t cost anywhere near $18 million to make important changes though.

Panther fans won’t be as unanimous about how Ekwonu (salvation by local boy!) and Darnold (still here, huh?) present themselves when things get real this fall, but everyone has been positive about my suit’s transformation. Tightening things up with Darnold’s game would be a similar deal.

While wearing an older-‘experienced’ pinstripe suit and ties was already classier than most coworkers wear at Nordstrom’s, I believe customers relate to a professional image. ‘I have the suit, what can I do with it?’ didn’t take Scott Fitterer-level smarts to invest $145 in upgrading this regularly used asset. (Thanks Tony!)

  • Legs not billowy, tapered now.
  • No cuffs, almost showing ankle, Shortest I’ve worn in forever.
  • I still have pleats! Waist and behind taken in
  • The top button, at bottom of lapel, is repositioned.
  • Jacket difference is huge,*definitely* feels closer, sleeker. Wallet goes to back pocket, it changes the line on right side.
  • We didn’t mess with lapels – its always a classic pinstripe.
  • An inch off bottom was an immediate, noticeable change. ($52)

Yes, I picked up the option on doing another suit – then negotiated with the shoe shine guy for polishing and a tight left boot situation. Spirit of the season on ‘additional considerations’?

Queens Cup Steeplechases

The aura of Good Will that permeates the QCS is legendary. Congrats on Silver Anniversary!

Whatever they’d told me a ticket cost at Harris Teeter, I’d have gladly paid it. The event history is a specific charity – Alzheimer’s Association in this, the events Silver Anniversary running – gets a significant jolt from proceeds. For $60, after three years away, vowing NOT to miss this All Kinds of Good social event to WORK! was easy. Using the “Never is heard a discouraging word” is Truth – once you’ve been, you’ll know.

There are ‘good horsies’ in a central area, where children and sorority sisters can be led around on or have pictures taken astride. If the Raptor Center can be allowed out again safely, previous owls and hawks were excellent for kids, wildlife up close. Newbies are the greatest to show around, its impossible not to strike up conversations with total strangers over cornhole, haberdashery, or tailgating.

The bright yellow Garcia tie with blue-blue Bugachi, topped with ‘antique’ 1979 Ferrari hat, from final Watkins Glen (NY) Formula I race.

It’ll be seersucker or Nantucket Red pants, and because I’m saving #1 Tommy Bahama shirt for a costume change, a bright yellow Garcia autograph tie with good-fitting blue-blue Bugachi (long sleeve, $160) to show some Ukrainian support. Ahhh! and an ‘antique’ Ferrari hat, purchased with poker winnings at Watkins Glen Formula races waaaay back, never fails to get comment.

I haven’t experienced the major sponsor tents – in tiers along the finish line, after a loooong final straightway – but the Top Tailgate award winner (entrants around infield of the 1.5 mi. turf) is often an excellent place to get an additional beverage or snacks.

Operationally, its a slow drive through Waxhaw (Note: Took 1:15 to go last mile, coming from south on 75), to get to the GA (general admission) gates, so allow some time for that. If you don’t catch one of the small tour buses, the walk in from the far out fields is a decent trek. Being even a little early on the 1:30ish first race, you’ve got a shot at closer parking.

The After-Party (Hotwalkers Ball) is a buffet and an always jumping band, which continues about 1 1/2 hours after last (of usually six) races.

Micro-economy still a Great Suit Feeling

While pleased with my own haberdashery after suit upgrade, setting up one dude with something that spoke of ‘uptown casual’ tone of invitation for QCS was fun for all.

We were on a Millar sportscoat (silver-gray-black with almost Panther-blue window pane, $700) early, but the final choices were a blue Hugo Boss unlined hyperlight ($390), Millar sueded-medium gray pants (a must have, $158), Bugachi short sleeve ($150) white with smaller, three-color swirls, and cognac Mangianni weave belt ($150). I told him most of his outfit was free, if you put it against the original sportcoat $$.

Cranked it ($4,700) on Monday, capping a hustling last two hours with a $2,000 Canali suit as they counted down the last 15 minutes to 8:00 close. That made me #2 in the store, and Tuesday night I sold handled another suit past 8:00. For someone who STILL hasn’t gotten a Sunday in six weeks, my numbers are strong.

I’ve interviewed for another sales situation (with a much higher upside to a good day) that’s appeared, so my micro-economy is like millions of others – ready to do more than listen, I’m ready to make moves.

Absolutely nailed a Hugo Boss black suit, 44 Regular, first shot out of barrel Friday. Gentleman was impressed with long-sleeve Bugachi black shirt (ooooCotton! $160), killer textured off-black belt ($1300 total), scoring a last minute-kick save! on classic black funeral outfit for him. The hem on pants (+$60 alterations) was ready in morning.

Losing another suit to politics was an unfortunate situation, but I’ll be over it well before I’m done with my second Lazy Bird Brown Ale tomorrow.

My micro-economy is like millions of others in USA – ready to do more than listen, I’m ready to make moves.

We’ll see how my picking of horseflesh – there’s no real betting, just sayin’ “I think the gray one” – results stacks up with whenever/whomever the Panthers get to pick again.

Extra note about draft: Panthers GM Scott Fitterer is the bomb-diggity, trading up to third round to get Matt Corral, the necessary QB upgrade that was Item 1-A in draft. https://www.nfl.com/news/panthers-trade-up-to-select-ole-miss-qb-matt-corral-in-third-round-of-2022-nfl-d

Panthers #6 pick can’t fill two major needs, so 7 Ideas for GM Fitterer to consider along the way

Without burying the lead, but with a quantity of tongue in cheek, the answer is Testaverde. They wouldn’t owe anyone compensation picks.

Just kidding, a bit of shock therapy there. Its Kaepernick.

Every Panther fan, in fact the NFL WORLD knows how desperately the Carolina Panthers want-need an alpha-type leader as a quarterback. Sound of mind and limb (letting Cam out the side door easily with that criteria), able to hand the ball to McCaffrey regularly, and throw some long TDs to the now properly taken care of contract-wise DJ Moore.

With the DeShaun Watson dalliance settled after his trade to Cleveland (!?), and nobody experts project as a franchise QB in the draft, that #6 should mean General Manager Scott Fitterer grabs a documented and undeniably sturdy OLT (offensive left tackle) to settle an obvious long term line problem.

Names are circulating, but if you’ve heard the Panthers might select a stud edge rusher, that’s what they call ‘smoke.’

Highly Motivated – Absolutely!

Are Kaep’s skills anywhere near NFL levels after years (post 2016) wandering in the relative desert, essentially black-listed for his kneeling as a silent message about constant shooting-killing of young black men by white cops across America? Held to the light of retreads (Jay Cutler, Ryan Fitzpatrick) who have gotten opportunities elsewhere, is he at all a consideration?

Just in case you didn’t know, Kaep and the Panthers passed this way before, in 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1z2kBAO5yI

While it would have to be one HELL of a workout to make such a bet-the-franchise move, when options include Cam and the un-good performance of Darnold over his first ten games, Baker Mayfield sure isn’t a more logical answer than Kaepernick.

You wouldn’t keep the lid on a workout with professional route runners Kaep says he’d like to throw to (Panthers have several), some PR circus would accompany it – Cleveland is getting a ration of negativity for bringing Watson in – but that isn’t Panthers problem. Would they have to make a huge offer to satisfy some sense of ‘worth’ after so long, or just put together a ‘Make Good’ incentive package (Wins? 4000 yards, Comeback Player of Year?) that puts him in camp and working full time on his skills?

Cam’s haberdashery and previous community efforts shouldn’t and won’t count in further discussions.

‘Make good’ sounds like a winner, and its doubtful Mr. Tepper pays prime $$$ for another stop gap QB. Like many teams, when you’re down, it behooves looking at all options, and Panthers continue to sign positional players. If Coach Rhule can’t turn a former Temple player like PJ Walker into the starter, Darnold is signed for $18MM, and Rodgers got $200MM to stay in Green Bay, Fitterer will have some leeway on a contract.

#2 – Sam Darnold

Okay, this isn’t Sam Darnold by any stretch of imagination, but would he be more likeable if he dressed like Cam?

Charlotte fans were willing to believe some good loving after three years in New York would cure the former #3 overall pick of all his demons, yet with an easy, 25th place schedule, his ability to throw the long ball, and a plethora of offensive options, he indeed under-performed in 2021.

How much blame for that goes with exiled Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady, whose LSU superstars (Joe Burrow, 4 receivers, RBs) blowing away college secondaries got him the job but didn’t seem to faze many pros, is open to discussion.

FYI – Panthers will be playing the 12th toughest schedule this year. https://www.panthers.com/news/carolina-panthers-2022-opponents-are-set

Yes, Darnold looks like a weak link, and whether anyone could fail while having CMC to hand off to (please, please!) or to drop swing passes he lugs 18 yards or so, we may never know. In gallows humor, if the Panthers can’t somehow package him in a trade, at least he isn’t the $40MM dead money salary cap hit former Falcon Matt Ryan’s team was willing to take by shoving him at the Colts.

Darnold looks like a weak link, but at least he isn’t wearing a massive, albatross level $40MM dead money salary cap hit former Falcon Matt Ryan’s team was willing to take.

FYI – An albatross has nearly a 10 foot wing span, and is considered an insult when its meant as a psychological burden that feels like a curse. In Rime of the Ancient Mariner  (Coleridge,1798), as bad luck (becalmed) continues, the ships crew blame their misfortunes on the mariner killing an albatross, which is hung from the his neck to signify the mariner’s culpability in cursing the ship.

Sam Darnold is not the unwieldy burden Ryan’s $40 million cap hit is.

Jury is out on Coach Rhule – Year 3

Ending pursuit of Watson means the Panthers will be able to keep many of their really good pieces, which includes a defense that’s regained a place in the middle of the pack compared to previous bottom three in most categories. Jeremy Chinn, Derek Brown, and edge rusher-mayhem maker Brian Burns are part of that cadre. Donte Jackson would belong in that category if he used that speed to *stop* receptions instead of laying a lick on receivers immediately after the catch.

Whether every former player (Temple, Baylor) of Rhule’s that comes to Panthers is an automatic best choice, Fitterer is a known and respected quantity as a trader. It seemed like a gaping hole had been fixed with his initial signing of Darnold, but he’ll be essential in continuing to bring in possibilities. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/04/09/panthers-take-care-of-business-gm-fitterer-lands-qb-darnold-to-get-rolling/

Coaches are hired to be fired, and the NFL landscape is littered with unsuccessful college transitions. If Rhule still has any reason to be thankful the last Thursday in November, so will a lot of Panther fans. Tepper’s new futbol team, Charlotte FC, came out of the gate with a record-breaking home crowd of over 75,000. https://www.charlottefootballclub.com/video/miguel-ramirez-talks-match-against-fc-cincinnati-first-win#miguel-ramirez-talks-match-against-fc-cincinnati-first-win. Success there doesn’t mean he’d be at all happy with a Panthers team that puts up less than a serious playoff-level season.

The Panthers Defense is up to Snuff

Two drafts ago the Panthers used all seven picks on defense, and Phil Snow came in with Rhule from Baylor as Defensive Coordinator. Last year their #1 pick was Jaycee Horn, who didn’t play after week three with a broken foot. Chinn-Horn could become a bona fide lock-down duo, the D moved to middle of pack, and while early raves for doing well against three weak teams to start weren’t reality, the Panther defense finished strong (36 sacks) by many metrics. https://www.catscratchreader.com/2022/1/19/22888030/final-2021-ratings-for-the-panthers-defense-per-pro-football-focus.

In all the messaging from Houston about Watson, it seemed like draft picks, help for the Texan defense, and even McCaffrey, were thought possibilities to go in the pot, so losing defensive progress would’ve replaced QB as a challenge.

Burns is an actual stud, this could well be his blossom year. Will speed rusher be the greatest necessity in draft? Highly doubtful.

McCaffrey Silences the Doubters

To say “It is what it is” about Christian McCaffrey’s two year holding pattern is almost legitimate, but if Kaepernick would be well motivated, CMC is a documented over-achiever https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/panthers-restructure-christian-mccaffreys-contract-reportedly-clear-up-5-5-million-in-cap-space/ Charlotte has paid for the best of what comes next, McCaffrey restructured that $21.5 MM bonus contract so many talk about, so you’ll see how he feels about being sidelined for most of two years.

At NO point should anyone be linking his name as trade bait. He might have made the offensive line look better than it was up until then, but great players elevate the play of those around them. Believing a block held an extra part of a second might mean McCaffrey breaks a big one fires a team up. The Buccaneers have Tom Brady back, you KNOW the belief he instills as The GOAT. Don’t sweat that the Panthers have worn CMC out by overuse, he is coming loaded for payback.

#6 – The McAdoo Offense

Perhaps there are doubts about getting anything from the Giants, but if the Panthers new offensive coordinator gets the benefit of salary cap funds (about $29MM, as noted) going into the offensive line instead of switching parts around every time someone gets injured, that would be progress. Fitterer doing anything except trading down a couple spots while still getting that stud OLT isn’t going to happen.

Just WHO is going to run *any* offense will be the primary question. Kaep is 34 now, he hasn’t taken a beating in a while, so it’s not a hard thirty-four, and he’s as worthy of being talked about as anyone. The NFL has mostly given up the RPO (run-pass option) that Cam, Russ, RPG III, and several others did well with early, because defensive coordinators quickly decided whacking the QB on every play would make teams leery of putting high value QBs health on the line.

Offensive line play WILL improve, and not getting Watson to Charlotte means lots of other people get paid. DJ Moore is on track to game-breaker status, but only if Panthers QB (Kaepernick?) has time, with ability to move around when necessary. Giants O-lines always had a reputation for grinding power game, Chubba and CMC will be able to work with that, and yes, long balls to Moore/Anderson should be expected.

Using tight ends for blocking may be necessary, more satisfying would be Tommy Tremble and Ian Thomas evolving into ninja-level receivers, if watching Greg Olsen tape can be converted to productive pattern running.

#7 – Year 3 of Rhule doesn’t make us Detroit

Detroit allowed Matt Millen to single-handedly wreck the franchise (31-97) over eight years as CEO/team president, a job his linebacking career didn’t prepare him for at all. GM Scott Fitterer doesn’t have such limitations, and he’s at the controls. The necessary help is mostly on the way. Colin Kaepernick, we’ll see how that rolls.

With all due respect to Matt Stafford for escaping 12 years of servitude in Detroit and using his super arm to take Rams to a winning Super Bowl – or the end of the Baker Mayfield run in Cleveland with Watson’s arrival – four years of sub-standard football is enough for Tepper (and fans). Yes, a $62MM coach should do better than 10-23, even if not having an inspirational QB or stud running back sounds legitimate.

That delay with new headquarters in Rock Hill aside, Mr. Tepper has staked out quite a few successful operations in his time as an owner. If Coach Rhule’s leadership of 2022 team is regarded as a serious mistake at Thanksgiving, that would be cause for specific change.

Umpiring a Fall of American Family Baseball, It was often an Honor to Participate

Taking a foul tip in the collarbone is the worst. My equipment being a little loose almost cost me.

The shortage of certain people in many areas extended to umpiring, and when an ex-umpire mentioned at our monthly meeting about possibilities for anyone with experience, I started doing Little League games in Dilworth the next Wednesday.

I’ve done arc-pitch softball in FL and NY years ago, working with youth baseball has been super interesting because of the intense family aspect.

One recent assignment involved a second Blue, who I’d done my first game ever with. He reminded me about trying to get changed into shinpads in my car without undressing – I finally gave up, and did the game with the plastic over the pants. (Not a good look, not repeated)

I’ve put in some 14 hour days since, worked two weekends with blast furnace 96! temperatures, and taken my share of ‘meat shots,’ and umpiring is more than just a welcome cash cow. With about 20 hours game time, $40-50 per game averages $20/hr. with a much more exciting office. It’s fun, not a gripe.

Getting the mask relocated by a foul tip, my standard line is, “I don’t get up for breakfast if I don’t know I’m gonna get hit a couple times.”

Me, a couple times a day while umpiring.
Everybody has a back pack, usually with a pair of antenna-bats.

7 Innings of a Blue’s ‘tudes, Calling it as I See It

Chatting with people near the fence about the difference in early sunshine and cool Fall temperatures this past weekend, compared to the blast furnace 96 I’d done one of their teams games in early June, one Dad’s immediate response was, “Yessir, I remember you – you gave my son some great advice. Thank you,”

That advice involved him twiddling with the grip on his pitch – which all the younger pitchers with small hands do – even while he was going into his delivery. My point was, when you work to get a certain grip, that’s usually a signal – especially if other team has seen the results before – your ‘something different’ pitch is coming.

When you throw it for strikes, the question is, can they actually HIT it while knowing? If not, take your time, set yourself and grip, *then* throw the pitch was my sage counsel.

The umpire schedule organizers tried to tell me early not to chat with the crowd “because one bad call and they’ll turn on you,” but I’ve always been a yakker, so…

My attitude is I’m contributing a little something to the American lifestyle, not just judging balls-strikes-outs. Telling that pitcher, or a first base person to make sure they keep heel in contact with the bag, it seems to make a difference.

Yes, I’ve been surprised at overall support on a regular basis. That so many coaches swear they tell young charges not to question the umpires (You’re right, Hayden, that was too good a pitch not to call a strike, but…), is affirming a rule of order.

2nd Inning

Pregame, I regularly mention players asking for time out and stepping out of the batters box with coaches and dugouts. It’s often coaches trying to break a pitcher’s rhythm, and my sense of sportmanship extends to fact if he’s ready to go, you better be ready to hit. I am not going to grant time very often, and have called three balks resulting in two runs scoring from third.

While batters stepped out without permission, seeing them do so caused the pitcher to stop his motion, and if they don’t release the pitch, its a balk. Its unfair to the pitcher, and letting young minds know how I enforce it (and the high strike) is a good piece of info to put out there. Armpits to knees, yes, use that bat.

I’m willing to listen to a coach appeal a play, say, where several runners wind up after an infield fly pop-up gets dropped (they can run at their own risk). Do NOT keep going on an individual call, coach. Catcher, do NOT pose with a ball that’s over the other batters box line wanting a strike – nothing good will come from you trying to show me up like that. I’ll tell you that, once.

3rd Inning

I was only threatened one time by a spectator, and only once did I get fed up enough to have coaches confined to the dugout. That I could say, “Zip it, or see the game from further away,” and enforce it was a great tool to know was in my bag. That I restored the previous freedoms in the next (title) game was still about fairness.

Having a catcher ask why I’d called a recent pitch a ball, 10 year olds wouldn’t have the stones to ask that if they hadn’t seen coaches question every situation for three full games. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/06/29/america-and-family-baseball-joyful-4th-is-umpires-call/ I’ve told that story numerous times, and that *specifically* wasn’t happening on MY watch. Adults need some telling where the lines are too.

4th Inning

The single best thing an umpire can have is consistency, and high-low is easier for others to see than any distance off the plate. That’s why catchers are taught from earliest exposure about framing pitches, making them look closer to the strike zone. “How could that not be a strike?” is the crowd question, what I tell catchers regularly is “I saw where you caught it, and I saw where you put it.”

Doing a 9 year old tournament, where many were doing kid-pitch for the first time, my off the plate (17″) calls of two balls wider wound up taking 2:30 hours to have a victor. Calling it unhittably further outside was unfair, but walk-athons are deadly.

It was the single most brutal five games I umped all year. I had 8-9 bottles of water, a couple Gatorades, and still didn’t need to relieve myself until 9:00 at night. I told a nurse about it the next day, she said I was lucky she didn’t meet me in an ER.

5th Inning

Except for that one bitchy team (plus two other yellers), I was uniformly impressed with how dedicated coaches are to keeping kids in the game. Arriving early and having time to jaw with them is personally satisfying. That Dad and Coach sometimes have to deal with situations around a pouty son is reality. Listen to the constant barrage about hitting the next pitch, or what to do about a passed ball (“You should be here!”) at a game – coaches keep it going even in a rout.

When there was a question of not having enough time left to start another inning and get the home team last at bats, you’ve gotta love the answer: “So we get to practice our defense another half inning? Its our first game of the season, its okay if we don’t get to bat.”

That’s taking every opportunity to help kids get better. If I can help with an observation – “Your catcher is setting up on the outside third of plate, and if your pitcher misses at all, its going to be a ball” – I can be a difference maker too.

6th Inning

After taking two foul tips on the exact same spot on top of forearm one weekend, I changed how I positioned myself from hands on knees to always having the batter side arm tucked behind myself. Plastic only covers so much, then there’s meat shots. Making necessary changes to protect myself (I was also a hockey goalie in college…) was a no brainer.

There’s usually an Oooo! and “You okay Blue?” from the crowd and coaches when they hear the crack! of a chest protector or see the face mask get rearranged. Its more the blast in the bicep or maybe a hand that changes your machismo for a while.

As a physical challenge at 64, I feel good about an occasional thwack! I’m certainly not too good to think ringing the register with a $350 weekend, while talking baseball and peoples kids, is a bad thing in any way. The hard core travel teams are miles from the rec league supporters, most of whom recognize their kids might get pummeled for a season before age and experience kicks in.

7th inning

Yes, its seeing athletics as part of their young lives, getting to relate to some of that bonding and what’s happening between the ears I knew was important when I played Pop Warner football. Doing 10-under games, then 12-13s, the physical difference of two-three years is amazing.

The chunky 10 y/old who just learned a curve ball that week thought, “Maybe we should have a go, Ump.” I said, “Learned a curve ball this week and you want some of this? You must be a confident guy.” “Yep!”

The best way for an umpire to avoid 95% of any coach or crowd BS is to be right on top of the play versus calling it from across the diamond. The kid sliding into third and his coach yells he’s safe, my “Coach, he’s got the glove pinned against the base, he’s out!” means I just turn and walk away.

On a bottom line, “Don’t reward stupid” is legitimate. The slow-footed kid who tries going first to third when there’s a confusing play at the plate almost always deservedly, gets nailed at third, and if its close, he really shouldn’t have been going… Their coach will talk to them about a bad decision.

Congratulations to the Atlanta Braves for winning the World Series so convincingly. Everyone in Charlotte was rooting for them, all the young players for sure, and they epitomize the idea of sportsmanship and the bonding that makes a bunch of young people a team. See everyone again in the Spring.

RESPECT – “Our people” in Kabul, mask-vax, and umpiring

The bad old days before vaccine – brother Mike is retired now, rolling around the country in a 37′ RV, a state of affairs he always envisioned. Having two unvaxxed, essentially homeless people, dropped into my living space isn’t nearly as respectful a situation.

Start with the most important RESPECT

Having sent congrats! to several military people I know (especially you Malitzia) about the Kabul airlift, RESPECT should be the byword for all Americans. By all reasonable standards, a massive – over 120,000 person success versus any ‘debacle’ or stain on our military’s record – should be lauded. Hats off for all who served, in the air, on the ground, or logistically.

As Marine Corp General Kenneth McKenzie said at the time of an ISIS suicide bombing, when you’re in such a defensive posture, you KNOW you are going to be attacked – it’s only a question of when, and how well prepared for it you are. Noting that searching for body bombs like what killed some 60 Afghans and 13 U.S. service people is “a breath on breath,” intimate operation that was a threat every moment of the 17 days it lasted, one ‘successful’ attack was exceptional.

General McKenzie was also willing to credit the Taliban, which constituted the initial defensive perimeter, as being helpful and abiding by what had been agreed regarding the US departure.

That ISIS took advantage of the situation – very possibly using a female bomber that Sharia law prevented Taliban people from touching in the way necessary to detect a personal bomb – was probably a factor. It was detonated when faced with US personnel not restricted in that way is a simple fact, not the overwhelming fault that some Congressional (GOP) naysayers want to paint President Biden with.

The last American out was Major General Chris Donahue, 82nd Airborne, XVIII Corp. (hope that’s correctly delineated). It was NOT the frantic desperation of the last helicopter out of Vietnam when I was a HS senior, more the always messy end of a 20 year mission.

Mask-vax negatives are not a gov’t flaw

Nine months into the deployment of several 95-97% effective vaccines AFTER trump left office – most know the why of that – the United States has yet to reach group immunity (generally pegged at 70%), and the delta variation is overwhelming our health care system.

Every time there’s a huge increase in infections, and then deaths, it’s been tied to idiotic loosening of systems that are *proven* to work against such unseeable enemies. This quote from Martin Luther https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/martin-luther-plague-quote/ shows great sensibility about precautions. We have people poisioning themselves with horse de-wormer https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/why-you-should-not-use-ivermectin-treat-or-prevent-covid-19 because they feel ‘getting stuck’ hands a political victory to Biden that trump et al don’t want to happen.

Come ON! with basic smarts America!

CHILDREN have not proven in any way immune to COVID-19, especially the delta variant, and mandates from GOP governors that school districts cannot protect them by masking is criminal. Many school districts will fight such mandate restrictions with civil disobedience, but at the individual level, there seems to a YUGE lack of respect for extra caution (see Martin Luther, above).

When I walked into a Novant clinic on March 18th, while still a Category 5 person in North Carolina, I felt I’d been given as close a guarantee to *living* as was possible. After hunkering down for a year, two weeks after a 2nd shot (Pfizer) I was allowed into Carmel Hills Senior Center, where I got to hug my 87 year old mother.

As a bottom line philosophy, I’d considered “thinning out the gene pool” a matter of choice – until it was very probable that ‘those people’ who wanted to deny or spit in the eye of the death-dealing ferocity of COVID could easily take me with them.

That my landlord decided THIS WEEK – his house, apparently he felt no need to consult three bill-paying tenants – to allow two homeless people to ‘temporarily’ camp in the living room, is a direct affront to the idea of respecting others. I wear a cloth mask when I leave my room now – it makes no sense to let my previous caution allow delta a gotcha! moment.

Having shown the two NYC-Jersey refugees my vax card, I have NO REASON to believe “Oh, I threw that piece of paper away,” is anything but a lie. The female denied the clog of hair left in shower was her’s (kee-RIST!), why believe something considerably more important to my health is okay, just because the guy would ditch such a document during a pandemic? Moron, right?

RESPECT has always been earned

RESPECT has always been earned, and both landlord – for many reasons – and these people have given me plenty of reason to doubt they’re working with societal norms. Millions of others have their own reasons for lying, but in situations this up close and personal, protecting myself is Job One.

For that, and many other reasons, I’m looking to get out of this living arrangement a.s.a.p. Landlord has a heart condition, another resident isn’t vaxxed either, not a problem to be a pisser about this IMHO.

Telling me to put my car on the street instead of in driveway so newbies can park there, that’s a minor disrespect, more an inconvenience. I talked to ‘the kids’ (22 y/olds) straight up about it, because good communication should always be top of the list. They seemed to understand, but like many aspects of life right now, about half the people in the house aren’t hearing it. Even if he’s “being a good Christian” re: homeless, I’ve been there. (Update 9/20/21 – He’s not that good, charging pair of 22 year olds $550 a month) https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/06/22/america-truly-on-move-sheltered-homeless-challenge-millions/

Three sturdy HS football players who helped with a recent furniture drive said they wouldn’t get vaccinated, and I guess we’ll see how badly this continues to go on, based on lack of RESPECT for COVID.

“We know the difference with good umpires”

Tee ball doesn’t actually have umpires, your best player is the kid who jumps on the ball early, and 10 batters an inning is all you get.

Brother David gave me this nugget, and yes, the scheduler for the organization I work for has it as a mantra – “You have to be consistent, especially high-low.” Last week I umped five games of 9 year olds on Saturday, then three games of 15 year olds Sunday.

After a first game that took 2:30 hours (scheduled for 1:45), I was told to loosen up my strike zone, from probably two ball widths off the plate to three. Realistically, this was the first time the 9 yr. olds weren’t getting ‘coach pitch,’ and you can’t hit anything that far off the plate, but with a heat index of 105 degrees, getting done sooner was a matter of survival.

I thanked the spectators that offered water and Gatorade, especially the frozen bottle I drizzled on my neck between innings. That several every game understood how physically brutal that heat was kind of counted, 15 minutes between games in the air-conditioned clubhouse counted even more.

The games with 15 year olds was quite different

Even 10 year olds have curve balls now, despite evidence that its not good for them to be throwing curves, and I’m aware of that ‘hook’ at the end when calling the games. At the beginning of 15s I made it clear, 3 balls wide yesterday wouldn’t be the deal – the 17″ of plate is all anyone was going to get.

I should add the fact that 10-11 year old catchers learn to frame pitches early, and 15s are willing to pull a pitch from *anywhere* into a spot that’s close to strike zone.

After one particular pitcher kept signaling he didn’t know why he wasn’t getting calls, I went to the manager between innings and told him the catcher was set up on outer third of the plate, and if pitcher missed at all, it was going to be a ball. Turned out that catcher had that habit previously, and manager couldn’t see difference from dugout I could at plate. He had catcher reposition himself directly behind the plate and offered thanks for the input.

As someone interested in athletics beyond the win-loss aspect, I feel its my professional duty to offer a comment when I see an obvious situation deserving of one.

I’ve done it multiple times, and when a center-fielder crashed into the chain link fence Sunday (GREAT catch!), I went to both dugouts and reminded them such things happened in sports. That kid had a helluva egg on his forehead, and didn’t look all there at the end of game, even after they’d taken him for x-rays to check for a concussion.

Coach said “Thanks for the input, Blue” even though I was sure he’d probably told his players the same thing. RESPECT comes in a lot of different packages, and there’s noooo doubt we could use a lot more of it in the current climate of ‘Us-them’ on something as basic as health safety during a pandemic.

RESPECT a virus? You betcha. If you want to hug your Mom, living in a community that’s tougher on who gets in than you want, do something smart about it – get the shot. If you don’t want your kids to come back from school loaded with a virus they can unknowingly pass to you, and you to unsuspecting others – get the shot.

If you’d like to offer a positive response about how you’re handling safety or issues of RESPECT, comments are open. I label this in ‘Leadership Thought’ category, one of my favorite word-smithing abilities, available for hire.

‘Vanilla’ pre-season offense will surprise Steelers, Panther fans, NFL in 2021

Will the 2021 Panthers be capable of playoff caliber production? A lot of smart money is going to say “11-6 and we’ll see.”

I arrived in Charlotte (from upstate NY) the same year the Panthers started playing, 1995, and went to a game at Clemson that year against the 49ers. I took two pictures that I won’t forget – Sam Mills going up to stop Steve Young on a QB sneak, and Tyrone Poole trying to stop a high pass to Jerry Rice. I never liked the Giants or Jets, mostly because I had to watch regional doubleheaders of them during college, when they both stunk. I also got tickets to their playoff win against Dallas, and saw the full-moon win against New England when a last second Brady pass was incomplete. (Yes, Kuechly was holding Gronkowski.)

It’s a stone-cold given that the Panthers offense will put numbers on the board in 2021 season – the team record is 500, in the 2015 Super Bowl season – although the Carolina faithful may not be Believers yet. They haven’t seen any Darnold 70-yard bombs to those terrific receivers, ZERO from face-of-the-franchise Christian McCaffrey, and the second team defense hasn’t looked like they could step in and stop anyone better than in 2019.

Hang in there Charlotte, ‘The Quarterback Whisperer’ (Joe Brady), those fine receivers – Anderson and Moore were #3 producers in NFL in 2020 – and CMC is still the terrific over-achiever you remember from that 1000-1000 year.

Yes, Sam Darnold will pull the trigger

Rhule commented that Darnold throws a real nice deep ball, and fannies at BOA Stadium haven’t seen that factor in a long time. Steve Smith is still worshipped as the best we’ve had (836 catches/12,197 yds./67 TDs), he’ll probably become a Hall of Famer this year. Mushin Muhammed (860/11,438/62) gave the Panthers great service, and Greg Olsen will always be considered a ninja legend, a tight end who couldn’t be seen until he’d gotten the catch and first down yardage.

Defenses – and anyone in the stands – knew Newton almost exclusively kept throws to 20 yards or less, and his awkwardness in getting to the ground versus destroying DBs like before a 2016 injury, was painful to watch. Newton wasn’t close to a fearsome runner his last few years here, and in his MVP year (2015), only his 35 passing TDs (plus 10 rushing) was statistically much different from his career stats. While he enjoyed a 67.9% completion rate in 2018, a lot of that was dropoffs to McCaffrey, who obviously lugged the ball a lot in the Norv Turner offense.

Kyle Allen turned DJ Moore into a star by being able to hit him in stride the next year, Teddy Bridgewater didn’t scare anyone about going long, and Newton never threw a touch pass or jump ball to receivers in the red zone in nine years. Sam Darnold will change all that, including teams stacking the box to stop McCaffrey.

The Quarterback Whisperer

Ask Joe Burrow (Cincinatti Bengals) if Joe Brady made him the #1 draft pick last year, and he’ll admit that, talent aside, the juice Brady put into a somewhat stodgy LSU offense was the deal. Burrows top receivers his senior year are all in the NFL now, including Terrance Marshall, Jr. with the Panthers.

The potentially weak link in what should be a wide-open offense with CMC back and wide receivers galore, is going to be the O-line blocking Darnold gets. Yes, he sometimes had ‘happy feet’ trying to avoid sacks with the Jets, and *maybe* Brady wouldn’t say anything negative about his QB. Darnold is certainly under a microscope – albeit not a NY media one – and those at practice say he’s showing leadership and the arm that made him the overall #3 pick back in 2018. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/04/09/panthers-take-care-of-business-gm-fitterer-lands-qb-darnold-to-get-rolling/

Vanilla offense no more

With Burrow the proof of Brady’s offensive influence – (NCAA record 76.3% completions), 60 TDs, 5,671 yards (378 avg. per game) – more so than Bridgewater’s 15 TD/11 INT mark – NFL coaches are aware the Panthers offensive coordinator hasn’t shown much from what should be a substantial bag of tricks.

Last year the Panthers had four players accumulate over 1,000 yards from scrimmage, and while Mike Davis and Curtis Samuel have taken their games elsewhere, McCaffrey will replace – or once again become – that offensive production.

If you saw his shoulder injury, the defender pinned McCaffrey’s arms before he landed and he couldn’t protect his fall. Sure it could happen again, but its also impossible for linebackers to drop into deep zones to help with coverage when he, or possibly stud rookie Chuba Hubbard are carving out first downs running. CMC can just as easily go in motion and pick up eight yards on a short out, more if someone (few want to attempt open field tackles with him) isn’t coming to get him.

Robby Anderson is just the first of several Panthers who have received contract extensions (2 yr./ $29.5MM, $20.5MM guaranteed), meaning you’ll be hearing what this band is playing for a while. DJ Moore won’t totally break the bank with any new contract, but given Tepper and GM Scott Fitterer’s willingness to match production and paychecks (CMC got $21.3MM up front for his extension), he’ll get his piece too. Raiding well-paid Panthers personnel becomes a very secondary consideration.

If defenses had trouble with the speedy Samuel, they will not be happier with the size (6’2″, 200 lbs) of a third receiver like Marshall, who ran a 4.38 40 yd. dash and jumped 39″ in his pro day – and did 16 -225 lb. bench presses. DBs especially had better have it strapped on tight when he needs tackling.

Will the Panthers surprise Pittsburgh tomorrow and the NFL when games count for real? I’d say invoke Mr. Tepper’s financial stack and history of knowing what to do about what he wants results-wise. The smart money is on the steep though not prohibitive – cost of taking any of the current coaches away for head coaching positions elsewhere. Coaching WILL make a difference in Rhule 2.0.

Will Rhule rate a statue?

When Panthers owner David Tepper gave a big contract to Matt Rhule, he was betting against the history of terrific college coaches who fail in the NFL. Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer did real well with the Cowboys of course, but few others have made successful transitions to the pros.

After Coach Rhule’s 5-11 first year at the helm, not everyone was super-charged at prospects for 2021, especially lacking an A-1 QB to work with those quality receivers – of which there are now more. Rhule’s track record supports idea of significant second year progress – and he has a seven year, $60 million contract.

Right now, the statues outside the stadium are of Sam Mills, the linebacker who died of cancer in 2005 and is the inspiration for the teams ‘Keep Pounding’ theme. That he only played three seasons for the Panthers indicates the regard he was accorded. Mike McCormick was the team’s president and general manager from the time of Mr. Richardson’s bid, to formation in the NFL until 1997.

What might it take for Coach Rhule to get a stadium statue, generally a rare honor? Winning a Super Bowl would be a start. Winning as many games as Lombardi? Legitimate. Winning a title before Tepper’s new soccer team does? Ahhhhh… (The panthers at all entrances remain, original owner Jerry Richardson’s has been taken away.)

Let’s let him get through Year Two before the idea of statues comes up Charlotte.

COMING MONDAY – The Defense