Communications, customer service, quality content writing, the greatest of these is service

Control Central, 2020. Working from home lacks a level of personal communication, quality product is alway an expectation, but customer service is a difference maker.

Maybe this is “preaching to the choir” – a term used often in Charlotte – as a leadership thought deal, but while giving myself and writers of many descriptions credit for writing ability, the customer service aspect is what makes one-shot clients into regular gigs.

While perhaps a stretch as political commentary, I’ll take the COVID-19 vaccination program – 309M doses given, 145M/43.8% of population fully vaxxed – as proof we elected a President who has delivered maximum customer service on a MAJOR promise.

Me, 6/14/21

Customer service-wise, if your Wellington’s somehow sprung a leak, just tell them, they will gladly send you another pair, is an example of Excellence. The Home Depot person who can lead you directly to the product you’d already walked by twice is A Cut Above, the gas attendant who feels empowered to comment about your tee shirt slogan because he’s already got your money, much closer to the bottom.

‘Getting stuck’ March 18th – for an investment of 26 minutes – with the COVID vaccine, instead of worrying it could take until mid-May, you’ll have to believe that cemented my concept of delivering customer satisfaction.

Dysean at T-Mobile delivered too. When he didn’t know the deal with my phone making a constant notice noise, he was willing to call a guy who might. Bazinga! Turn the phone all the way off periodically, not just screen off.

Getting my phone back doing as it should brought an appreciation of the service effort, but c’mon, the day a Novant supervisor at a clinic around the corner from my place – no extra effort to try – said to 64-year old, Category-5 person me, “Sure, let’s get you stuck,” that’s going to be tough to top as customer satisfaction.

How matters get handled

The point is, those who emphasize the customer’s satisfaction of the service delivered gain loyalty – business might hav changed over the years, but its not an outdated, ‘used to be’ philosophy.

As a ‘creative’ I can deliver written content that hits the specific points I’ve learned from a client during interviews. With plenty of extra experiences communicating through Q&A to determine wants and expectations from sales situations, the truth is, the happiest people will ever be is when “Is that what we decided to do?” or similar matters get handled right.

A different POV

Having umpired Little League baseball the last two weekends, I’ve had three situations with balks resulting from batters that I didn’t allow a time out just because they asked for it. Managers want to disrupt a pitcher’s rhythm when he’s working well, but I very seldom grant any requests when the pitcher is ready and a batter gets in the box.

Specific point: Unfortunately, the pitcher has to release the ball or yes, it’s a balk, even though he stopped because the batter was stepping out, without knowing I hadn’t given him a time out.

Late in a semi-final game, I have to allow the runner from third to score, and there is a third hoo-hah! with a particular coach. Best outcome: The ‘customers’ are really the spectators, and with that correctly handled balk call – even against their team – and two others in a wild game, one guy calls me to the fence with a “Hey Blue! I want you to know, I’ve told the tournament director he needs to do something about that screaming coach who charged you. You’re running things right, and we all got your back out here.”

THAT’S what I’m talking about! Customer satisfaction seal of approval.

Thousands of places across America…

Cycling along the Greenway in 88 degree Carolina heat, the fact I might be literally without a roof over my head in a week was sobering.

Having commented numerous times the last few weeks, that “This scene is being recreated thousands of times across America at this same time” – meaning family baseball – it’s a more sobering https://vocal.media/unbalanced/a-week-of-blue-was-umping-charlotte-baseball-now-its-panthers-blue-with-darnold-c-mc-moore-and-defense reality to recognize I may literally be homeless in a week.

Umpiring has been good extra cash – $400 last weekend – which helps make things happen like this move back into the Real World, after brother Mike and his two dogs head off into the sunset in his 37′ RV.

It’s always been his clear goal, and I knew this day was coming from the moment one of those “guaranteed cash offer” people briefly toured the house over three months ago and he signed immediately.

No, I didn’t get serious about the search until this month, and while its true some of the online operations – Roomster leaps to mind – are bona fide (mostly) scammers, I’m confident the cash from three full weekends income will allow this move to be smooth.

My point in mentioning this is how stressful such situations are for others, too.

Staying awake from before 5:00am, that’s never been a problem before. Like during the Great Recession years, I wonder how parents with tuition, car payments, and mortgages made it on retail wages. I was single, chiseling every nickel, and still wound with significant credit card debt. Others used their accumulated cushion to get past the last economic problem, and it won’t be available this time around.

My time essentially runs out in this house on the 23rd. I’m about half-packed, and while I don’t *think* I’ll wind up sleeping in my Hyundai, it’s going to make a difference how soon a real person responds to my phone messages. It’s also going to be an upheaval of way large proportions for MILLIONS. Families large and small are going to experience some REAL dislocation the end of June, when the protections of the pandemic social net expire .

Having stayed one overnight a month during the colder months for a Room in the Inn ministry for many years, I didn’t question that, with only minor changes, I could be some of those people.

Umpire-wise, I’m neither out nor safe in the moment. On the good side, I do have cash in hand now…

Panthers take care of business – GM Fitterer lands QB Darnold to get rolling

Without burying the lead, Panthers GM Scott Fitterer made an impression with his first major move, delivering pretty much the arch-typical Hollywood story of a QB unloved getting moved to a new place, where he flourishes as The Guy We Needed.

That would be Signal Caller and Arm version, CMC will be back on Ground Attack. It could be a video game-type stats year when a highly motivatd McCaffrey gets paired with a quarterback that can make all the throws. Newton threw nothing but fastballs, Kyle Allen and Teddy B. knew how to lead receivers, putting DJ Moore in elite company and making Curtis Samuel kind of rich. It was the obvious need and Fitterer put up a mission accomplished sign.

Good young QBs traditionally get torn up, because they often went to worst teams to start careers.

  • Vinny Testeverde, Heisman winner, to Tampa Bay Bucs. He said he threw so many picks because he was color blind – Tampa had orange jerseys, the same as his collegiate team, UMiami.
  • You can get more local – Chris Weinke, 2000 Heisman winner, Carolina Panthers. https://www.heisman.com/heisman-winners/chris-weinke/ The only thing he couldn’t do was lift the Panther from a shipwreck win-loss season. He wound up with stats that triggered incentives for yards, TDs, total snaps, and they hadn’t invented the $5MM Backup then.

The bigger problem was, he’d played six years of minor league baseball before going back to college at 26! Those were glory years at FSU, but on the calendar, Weineke was almost thirty quickly. Terrific passer, but Panthers gave the keys to a caretaker, Rodney Peete, instead.

I didn’t care about Sam Darnold with the Jets. “Everybody” knows he was #3 overall pick three years ago out of USC, and sorry to say, high pick QBs often go to ungood teams. Major points, has to be said: His former Jets coach, Adam Gase, has been kind of a talent killer with quarterbacks, and Robbie Anderson coming to Panthers last year meant Darnold couldn’t throw to him in New York.

Darnold wasn’t wanted where he was, the Panthers definitely wanted more from the role than 15 TD/11 INT production Teddy Bridgewater put out as a $21MM caretaker. The price in draft picks was nominal, Panthers problem (theoretically) solved.

It has to be said: His former Jets coach, Adam Gase, has been kind of a talent killer with quarterbacks, and Robbie Anderson contributing to Panthers last year https://www.panthers.com/team/players-roster/robby-anderson/ meant Darnold couldn’t throw to him in New York.

Just so happens the Panthers have a resident genius with quarterbacks – Sam, Joe Brady; Joe, Sam.

Mr. Tepper took care of business

Having seen something by sportswriter Ian Rapaport about New York taking the new guy in Carolina to the shed on his first deal – Sam Darnold ain’t a busted down mule. The asking price – a #6 in upcoming draft, a #2 and #4 next year – isn’t anywhere near the mother lode Minnesota gave Dallas for Herschel Walker in October, 1989.

Heck, the Rams and Lions recently moved a bunch of #1 draft picks around, and the Panthers wanted/needed a #1 thrower so bad, they were in the sweepstakes for DeShaun Watson, but his $177MM contract cooled most potential takers. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2021/02/05/watson-would-work-wonders-for-panthers-25-free-agents-a-concern/

Fact about Mr. Tepper, he’s already analyzed factors relative to what he expects the Panthers to be as a product, and there’s no reason to change his tactics. He invested in facilities, and absolutely, bought some REALLY good football minds in Head Coach Rhule, Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady, and Defensive Coordinator, Phil Snow. He gave Christian McCaffrey a contract like his production rated.

A season after having iconic players like Newton, Kuechly, and Olsen depart, the Panthers had three-1,000 yard gainers – none of them named McCaffrey – and the defense moved from bottom three in almost every category to 18th overall, with a secondary that was right on the league average in yardage. Without Watson’s contract, the offensive line will get paid – four were part of 25 Panther free agents.

In 2021, Darnold is set to get $4.775MM, and team will have to decide about picking up a 5th year option in May for another $18MM, making him marginally more expensive than Bridgewater. It’s a two-for (years) that’s not tough math for Tepper or Fitterer.

Give the Panthers very high marks for respecting Teddy Bridgewater, who they’ll allow to possibly make his own deal elsewhere.

Resurrection on the Cheap

In a season-year that will be more memorable for playing before empty seats, the Panthers were an entertaining 5-11 bunch that let at least two games slip away late (Minnesota was the worst). On a team where playoffs would have been on the line, the injuries McCaffrey suffered, and mostly recovered from, might have pushed them to use their $21.3MM man late, but there was no reason to test ‘the franchise.’

Most Panther fans have moved on from Cam Newton thoughts, and I thought Bridgewater did a decent job distributing most of the year, but 15/11 are numbers that don’t lie. Kyle Allen had 17/15 the year before (yeah, and those fumbles) and didn’t get invited back. We’ll see if Mr. Samuel finds someplace to use his special skills, he was fun to watch.

So the business of the Carolina Panthers is moving forward. Mr. Fitterer appears to have put a satisfactory conclusion to the question of who’s going to run this team, on and off the field. As for that New York thing, heck, LOT of us will probably say, “Gawd bless ‘im, he must feel like he’s made it to the promised land,” and leave it at that.

Job scam warning – “Too good to be true” almost certainly still is

As much effort as I’m putting into gaining a next gig, I imagine a kid somewhere, with M&Ms or munching a churro, kicking a battered soccer ball, then checking responses.

Three weeks ago, I started an online interview with a Human Resource person from a major international corporation, and barely an hour later, after consulting with a vice-president, Mr. Malcolm said “regarding your standing in a customer service online role, you are hired!” 

To acquaint with, I’m Mr Greg Malcom. I’m located at Huston Tx, I appear to you as the Hiring Superior/Client Services of Doosan Group

While two out of three brothers congratulated me on what seemed like a legitimate late touchdown of economics, my Wells Fargo Director brother, Steve, opined that money seemed steep for a customer service job, and when I got back from walking the dog, I tagged him for expertise. 

Later in online session, after I was ‘hired,’ there was a significant listing of technical gear I’d need. Along with two weeks training @ $30 an hour, (I’d start at $40+ an hour, benefits after thirty full days), there was a niggling negative about how I would get a check, then withdraw funds to pay for equipment within 24 hours.

Just so you know when you see it…

“Below are the list of materials and softwares needed for this position since you’d be working from home: 4 in one (fax, scanner, copier and printer), Zebra ZM400 Bar-code printer and cards, 4 drawer cabinet and office desk,Apple-(Macbook Air), Blu-ray Drive, Vista Premium), myob business essentials software 2005,For Peach Tree premium 2010 US Patent Single Users Pack, simply accounting 2009,Adobe Photoshop 52011,Adobe Acrobat 8 2012,Ariba 8 2012ASP 32007,CSS 6 2012,Dreamweaver 7 2011,HTML 11 2011,Illustrator 3 2009. Are you familiar with any of those software programs ?

The funds for the software’s and your working materials will be provided to you by the company via check You will be using the funds  in making purchase of  your equipment from the company certified Vendor and All equipment will be labeled on them with the company name, they will have you connected to the company database UNDERSTOOD?

“The check will be covering up for both your working and training materials as well as setting up a mini office in your home which i believe you do have a space provided for that ?

Once you receive the check you are needed to have it deposited in your bank account via Mobile Or Bank teller. Then the funds would be credited in your account immediately or within 24 hours for cash out.. Do you understand me ?

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE 

It’s an age old truism, that what might seem so super incredible juuuust might be Too Good/Untrue, and this is why accessing real expertise in the clutch is always a good idea.  

While discussing the tone of ‘interview’ – especially never actually talking to a representative – you bet he smelled something wrong. His international experience with Koreans was that they’d die if professional communication was read as anything less than ‘regular English’ – the online stuff I saw wasn’t up to that standard. ‘Malcolm’ had apparently misspelled his own name and Houston (no ‘o’) in first line of introduction online, another wiggle of doubt. 

The kicker was, while on the phone with me, Steve found *exactly* the company scam I’d been enthused about at 9:30 am, was running, at least referenced by FBI, since 2015. https://www.ziprecruiter.com/blog/scams-work-from-home/

BIG POINT – Recovery 

What could have been a small disaster then, in what is at heart a CHECK SCAM, is worth putting out as a warning for those eager to return to economic goals in this surging economy, extra glad their skills are coming to the fore again.

That ever-lovin’ $1,400 stimulus check many were waiting to get passed by Congress, it got to my bank account on Wednesday, and depositing the company funds – which are inevitably declared NSF – electronically lets ‘them’ into your account is the heart of the scam. 

I had enough sense to investigate what seemed too good to be true, more like Reagan’s “Trust but verify.” That made a disappointing ending to a singular ‘fake event’ three weeks ago easy to bury. There’s a light in tunnel now that doesn’t feel like another train. Don’t make hasty decisions or imagine a Disney ending to the challenges we’ll all still face in 2021, but hey, ask someone you trust about something TGTBT. 

Of course, having facts that others can see and believe has been a problem for some lately, but journalistically, I go with believe your experts. I deep-sixed further contact with ‘Doosan Malcolm’ by 3:00. They sent a notice the next morning that I was supposed to be online at 8:00. I laughed, and will continue thinking I dodged a bullet. Be aware people. 

Information Everywhere 

It’s problematic that, despite 930,000 job growth last month, the U.S. still has some 8.4 million dislocated workers in a year of panemic, even those like myself, who were essentially WFH (work from home) types thinking of being ‘inside.’

Year Three of CDTalent Enterprises https://www.linkedin.com/in/glennshorkey/ company growth suffered in 2020, and putting irons in the fire or RFPs (requests for proposals) in 2021 means our personal information is often available.

I actually gave last four of my SSN to a different interviewer recently, but you had damn well better know ANY information out there is a nugget someone wants. 

Check extensions for a fake contact. While e-dresses should be the company’s, mine had 3296 after it.

“Sure, let’s get you stuck.”

Thursday will be my 2nd shot (Pfizer), the first coming a couple days after that job disappointment on Monday. Amazingly, the stimulus check was on time Wednesday, and while still officially a Category-5 person in North Carolina, I got a vaccine shot right around the corner, coming back from grocery store.

No extra fuss, the whole event took 25 minutes, from parking lot to post shot departure, an effective flow from first temperature check, to a supervisor appearing just as I talked to a young lady at a laptop to register and saying, “Sure, let’s get you stuck.” 

March Madness has provided a mass catharsis

Honestly, it should be stated what a non-scientific boost this years Madness was compared to zero in 2020. Reducing the usual travel to sub-regionals, the NCAA did the bubble thing amazingly well.

The Stanford ladies team story was beyond compelling – When the Palo Alto campus was CLOSED to them, they spent almost forever – 86 days! – traveling as true road warriors. They decided that only WINNING the title would make all the discomfort worthwhile, and that’s now a 54-53 fact.  

In both the semi and championship finale for Stanford, the other team’s final shot was just off the iron, the ultimate difference between victory and defeat. South Carolina’s was a put back at the buzzer that didn’t go down. Haley Jones for Stanford ‘only’ had 17 for the winners, and looked like a star on every one. Aari McDonald for Arizona – I couldn’t have been the only person surprised she only had 22 after stroking multiple bombs – including a miss on last shot, with three Stanford players hanging all over her.

In the Gonzaga-UCLA men’s semi-final, Bulldog freshman guard Jalen Suggs banked in a half-courter at the buzzer to win 93-90. Who hasn’t done 3-2-1… EHHHHH! a thousand times in back yard? Super tournament, and tonight a worthy men’s Final. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwX4yHytLJU

We’ve seen heroic efforts by all, and (for once) Charles Barkley was right, two players for UCLA were unstoppable, and who doesn’t appreciate a superhuman effort falling just short? 

Normalcy

A LOT of clouds got less threatening that shot in arm day. Getting four solid calls from recruiters, two discussions (1 still not rejected, 1 rescheduled because I was headed for visit to Mom pre-Easter), and even having gotten out 4x for rides and shooting hoops regularly, I still sincerely applaude how March Madness has provided a mass catharsis in this country.

I’m also glad to have participated in a fish fry with another church organization last week. We served about 350 dinners between 4-7:30, most of them at drive through, and there was great sense of comraderie and community with those who came and sat down inside. Normalcy? We’ve always provided ‘beverages’ at our events, and those who enjoyed that and some ice cream for dessert were reminded what our Men’s Clubs can do.

That it came together in barely a week, that’s community action.

We’ve certainly seen the ultimate in team play during March Madness, and Easter is always appreciated as a time of optimism and renewal. That one small negative three weeks ago, I’m still AWARE stuff like that is out there, and that when it showed up, I questioned ‘Too good to be true.’ Be aware America.

I’m still a Boomer, flag recently replanted in 2021, and now days from fully vaccinated. What’s Next?

March 2021 -Biden’s $1.9T Help for America, 100MM shots for COVID, Gonzaga in NCAA, are stars

For a year the world hoped for a miracle. With 100MM shots in arms so far, and hundreds of millions of doses available, backyard cookouts for the Fourth of July seem as real as it gets.

Having finished re-editing Chapter 18 of ‘With Platinum Fury Focus,’ Swiffer-ed and vacuumed most of the house, gotten current with ACA (Stim. #2 finally arrived), raking and branch-trimming yardwork, started the spaghetti sauce, had three cups of coffee, walked the dog, put on a favorite striped dress shirt/suit pants, AND SHAVED – I proclaim Thursday’s one year anniversary of COVID-19 lousiness and ennui an official rebooting of “Life More Like It Should Be,” maybe within sight of normalcy.

As of the 18th, I became part of a terrific statistic, arms stuck.

The karma of Asking.

Yes, America, WE made it an entire year with this declared pandemic. It’s still difficult to deal with a ‘previous prez’ knowing how bad it was *really* going to be – and telling a well-known journalist, who recorded it for posterity – early on and then lying about it. There are hundreds of millions of vaccine shots available to help the process now – Donnie J. actually got one, and Mr. Snake Snot didn’t tell the world, which juuuust might have made a difference.

The Karma of Asking

At 64, I was still a Category-5 outsider in North Carolina when I decided to take a chance on the way back from grocery shopping. The Novant clinic is across Independence, barely a block away, it wouldn’t be a killer waste of time, to check out the possibility of a ‘Freedom Shot’ if you will.

In late 2017, “checking things out” about timing when getting an x-ray resulted in an immediate (five days) appointment for a knee replacement had been my standard for good karma. That a supervisor appeared immediately as I’d gotten a temperature check and started chatting with a laptop person (among MANY staff/volunteers) about 64 and around the corner, so why not? Her response was, “Sure, let’s get you stuck.” From parking lot to post-15 minute stay period and leaving, 25 minutes.

I will be heading to Mom’s place at Carmel Hills for a couple hugs. We got to hang with her a little for her birthday, March 1, but it wasn’t one of her better days. Even though masks are still a good idea for a while longer, if your Mom’s been vaccinated (like mine), and so are you, hugging her a bunch of times is a start on what they’ve suffered without so long.

‘March Madness’ Hits Full-on Stardom

The fact of genuine ‘March Madness’ arrival, after being denied that annual basketball bachanal in 2020, means leaving behind any “coulda-shouldas.” Fill out a bracket or three, quaff a quantity of cold ones with variously seasoned wings, invite – righteously vaxxed, no masks? – a couple buddies to watch your big screen, because that *IS* about normalcy.

Those with Ohio State or Purdue in Final Four, oh that Madness thing!

If you gotta go on Spring Break instead of camping on a couch to watch, see if you can plant a big ol’ kiss on Gov. DeSantis, just for the sake of freaking him out. Most of those wild ‘n crazy hombres you’ll be hanging with are still two months from a shot in the arm, but (bleep) it, you only live once (as far as we know).

A nephew and a bunch of buddies drove an RV around the Midwest parks, fishing for two weeks last May because post-college jobs were on hold, my NY brother’s entire family helped move another nephew from Kentucky to the Pacific Northwest, so why shouldn’t you celebrate some in 2021?

The simple fact this administration carefully counts FULLY VACCINATED and ‘sticks’ as two statistic shows an understanding and accounting, right? but who isn’t aware there are multiple bad-ass variants of COVID-19 out there?

Worse case, saying “If it’s good enough for those governors from Texas to the Keys,” nobody over thirty *really* expects you to be the responsible people,” y’know? Sure, its a numbers thing, but also a ‘shoulda learned year,’ too.

I didn’t go to Pennsylvania for a three day car show last July with a brother I’ve been hunkered down with, but he came back without problems. (tongue in cheek) I needed to be ready for that bicycle accident I was going to have in August. Maybe you can get to that age/mileage marker (64) I have no matter what you do…

8 ways a bike accident and “low grade depression” match U.S. mess

Impossible not to be political

Truth is, given a year’s perspective – especially the party line vote, zero Repub Yes votes, 100% willing to stiff their non-Washington, DC people – 75% of the country favoring that $1.9T COVID bill *has* to include some ‘regular’ Repubs in favor of sending checks. If that COVID bill is supposedly the easiest one Dems will have, that doesn’t bode well for the future of Repubs helping their constituents.

Thanks to a sister-in-law doing 2020 taxes, two stimulus checks came very quickly as well. With solid time-on-task https://www.wattpad.com/myworks/218725526-with-platinum-fury-focus progress made an overall enlightening week.

This coming week, President Biden and Vice-President Harris will work on the public relations aspect of what they have maintained all along, that Americans can overcome any obstacle if they put their collective minds to it. ‘100 million shots in 100 days’ has gone from an attitude to fact.

Setting new, familiar and desirable goals, like 4th of July cookouts, that’s legit. Do you have to invite everyone, including recent non-maskers? The ones who never bring meat (or beer), just those plastic containers of ten cookies? Naaah. Maybe next time.

Was slipping into that 100 million category as significant a milestone as John F. Kennedy’s goal of putting the USA flag on the moon “before the end of this (1960s) decade”?Personally, guaranteed survival during a pandemic is at least as important. I didn’t expect to get vaccinated until almost Memorial Day, which seemed like forever.

By the way, America is still in the space business, it’s not just Tesla putting up rockets. There are definitely NOT Jewish spaceships shooting lasers to start raging wildfires in California though, but there are moments to cheer. https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-s-mars-perseverance-rover-provides-front-row-seat-to-landing-first-audio

While the entire WORLD was doing that collaboration thing on an all-important COVID-19 vaccine, having four different U.S. manufacturers produce highly effective ones in less than a year surpassed even the miracle of the sugar-cube polio vaccine. (Wikipedia ref. – a weakened oral polio vaccine (OPV) developed by Dr. Albert Sabin, the sugar cube was first used in 1961.)

Dr. Jonas Salk’s inactivated (‘dead,’ IPV), first used in 1955, is still considered a gold standard of scientific achievement.

I was a “sugar-cube kid,” would’ve trusted any of the current vaccines, but I have no worries about Tuckaseegee, circa 1932. My Dad survived polio in the 1930’s when lots of kids died, and while his left leg was always visibly thinner, he served his country in the Navy. That some would risk death instead of taking a proven “You won’t die or wind up on a ventilator” shot makes me sad.

That a certain former president has made several attempts to claim credit for that vaccine success speaks to political gas-lighting. His denial of the pandemic’s (world-wide) deadliness, and his administration’s brutal mishandling of the health crisis enrages many. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/

Since ‘politics’ were part of everything this past year, it was surprising that tens of millions of protesters taking to the streets during the Black Lives Matter uprisings across the country didn’t cause the level of “super-spreader” infections that certain indoor events during his campaign did. (Sorry, facts are just part of my journalist background)

And now, ‘Selection Sunday’

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My new favorite spot to shoot (glass!) even if it’s set 18″ back too far and messes up foul shooting.

Having watched my share – and perhaps the shares of several others, with three days of quadruple-headers – I’m ready to put my sportswriter expertise on the line by picking at least a few brackets worth. Gonzaga looks strong to me, Illinois has a HUGE center and guards like crazy, that’s my finals. Most experts are calling this a year for ‘chalk,’ meaning favorites.

Of course, during this messed up year, MILLIONS of others will be doing multiple sheets, which again, counts as normalcy. Will there be a chance to pick a perfect one, maybe win that $1 billion prize that’s been dangled the last couple years? (Not if the first two days of wreckage continues through weekend.)

Nahh, but winning cash, that’s not really the point. Most of the world is looking forward to the Olympics, which were delayed from 2020 because of the pandemic. Some will hold their fervor for the World Cup, scheduled for 2022 in Qatar. For Americans though, there is truly nothing like ‘March Madness,’ school ties and buzzer-beaters to cheer insanely for.

Because playing abbreviated seasons in ‘bubbles’ last Fall (ie- Edmonton and Toronto for the NHL) worked so well to reduce COVID infections for the high-priced talent in NBA, NHL, and MLB (baseball) leagues, this year’s three-weekend NCAA tournament will all be held in Indiana venues this year.

Being a righteously dragged-out fan from watching late West Coast games in 2019 will be mitigated by that fact, and even having gotten first Pfizer shot, I’m still not hanging out in bars in 2021. (Well, one two blocks away is mostly outdoors…)

As a WFH (work from home) content writer, it’s very possible I can grab a cup of java and be ready to start a workday by 8:15 anyway, but that’s the *only* thing COVID-19 has done for the viewer experience.

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Just in case appreciaion isn’t enough…

Congratulations America, with a special extra nod and two thumbs up of appreciation for the healthcare people and essential workers who got us through a truly terrible time. For every baller – male and female – who plays their guts out for our enjoyment, NOBODY laid it on the line more than you did. Amen.

Watson would work wonders for Panthers, salary cap and 25 free agents a concern

The old chestnut “Money is no object” might be legitimate concerning Panthers owner David Tepper’s personal stack of about $11 billion, but fitting Deshaun Watson’s contract into a smaller salary cap space would be a legitimate question. The Panthers have 25 players whose contracts are ending – including most of the offensive line – and that can’t be ignored.

The Panthers needing a better solution to their current top signal-caller, Teddy Bridgewater, is no secret. Bridgewater was a three year, $63 million dollar interim addition to replace the departed Cam Newton last year, but his 15/11 TD to INT production won’t satisfy many as the building block necessary for 2021 and beyond. (FYI – In 2019, Kyle Allen’s 17/16 production line in 13 games didn’t earn another look for 2020.)

Bringing in Watson, who led the NFL with 4,823 yards passing (382/544, 33 TD/7 INTs), and his massive contract extension, signed just last year (4 yrs/$177.5MM, $111MM guaranteed) is a fascinating possibility, but its probably more about cap space and the personnel the Texans will want for their prime time QB.

Time is a real factor

While Watson is obviously looking to relocate, and he just might want to come home to the Carolinas, where he won a national championship with Clemson, the recent swap of LA Rams QB Jared Goff for Lions QB Matt Stafford has radically reset the value of a franchise-level #1 quarterback.

Panthers GM Scott Fitterer won’t have long to consider coughing up picks and players, especially when the NY Jets have the goods and more than a little attention on Watson’s part. There’s no doubt about the impact he could make in Charlotte, but the Jets have been without a great QB in almost as long as Detroit – even if Stafford holds all the franchise records – or the Bears.

There are some stud QBs coming out in 2021 draft, but the Panthers #8 being high enough to get any of the top four is iffy. Houston might be able to use Bridgewater in the same stop-gap role the Panthers did, rebuild in 2021 or repackage the picks for someone like Aaron Rodgers, who some think may be available (I wouldn’t be one of those).

Whether the Jets could scrape together anything beyond the #1s and #2s the Texans want is questionable, and they certainly don’t have any defensive players to spare, which the Texans obviously desire. The Panthers would need to include Bridgewater in any trade – there aren’t any $21MM backups in the NFL – and they have enough #1 picks to be a factor.

Stripping players from a defense that showed progress – up to 18th from bottom three, right on league average in the secondary, four points better than 2019 scoring against – after two season of being shoved around mercilessly won’t be progress. They used all seven picks on ‘D’ last year, but speaking in blitz-like terms about pursuing Watson, no risk, no reward might be the bottom line.

Getting a quarterback just entering his prime is such a risk. Defensive coordinator Phil Snow earned his paycheck in 2020, freshly minted General Manager Scott Fittere will need to pull some magic with the cap and 2021 draft to be considered same ‘successful.’

Samuel or Chinn? (NOOO! but…)

The Panthers might have to choose their need for a primo QB over a couple of performers that were worth watching in 2020, safety/linebacker Jeremy Chinn or the finally emerging Curtis Samuel.

Chinn was their second-second round pick (after Yeter Gross-Matos), had 68 solo tackles/49 assists, and scored touchdowns on two consecutive fumble returns for touchdowns, while absolutely living up to all expectations. While Washington’s Chase Young is considered the favorite for Defensive Rookie of the Year, Chinn was always one of the jerseys that fans saw walking away after tackles.

Samuel is mentioned in the same breath with DJ Moore as someone both difficult to catch and get on the ground, but he’s eligible for free agency. After a 77 catch/851 yards/3 TD receiving, 41 rushes/200 yds/2 TD season, there are going to be plenty of teams willing to show him the money, probably in the $11 million a year range. That would help satisfy at least a couple of those O-lineman, so packaging him in a trade vs. losing him in free agency is worth considering.

Whether Gross-Matos or Donte Jackson would be sufficient – plus #1s this year and next, a #2 next year, or possibly Tony Price, Jr. and his elite speed on the corner might be enough, is in the hopper.

Alternatives

Again, there are a slew of free agents to consider by Panthers management. While Coach Rhule turned in a competitive 5-11 record, losing several games (Minnesota!) late, and minus the estimable Christian McCaffrey most of the year, it will almost certainly be Mr. Tepper’s decision on who and how things settle out. He was pretty much hands off regarding on-field changes his first two seasons as owner, but the magnitude of Watson’s financial commitment and salary cap considerations that changed as result of the league playing before almost empty stadiums, is significant.

Brian Burns has shown great upside as a pass rusher at LB and might be a possibility instead of Gross-Matos, and Kawann Short, who was ‘dinged’ enough to miss chunks of the last two seasons, might be worth dangling.

For anyone who thinks McCaffrey is going anywhere, there will be another riot in Washington before he and that $21.3 million in front money from last years extension moves elsewhere is a non-starter proposition. Mike Davis proved an effective surprise in CMC’s absence and would be a loss, but almost nobody else is beyond considering.

Okay, forget about asking for DJ Moore after another great year (66 catches, 1193 yards/4 TDs), and free agent Robbie Anderson’s 95 catches/1095 yards/3 TD season and Temple connection with Coach Rhule means he is safe. Bridgewater did a decent enough job of distributing to make the Panthers top three as good as almost anyones.

Watson is also a terrific citizen, as turning over his first NFL check (about $27,000) to three cafeteria workers after Hurricane Harvey laid waste to Houston proves. Its part of his already significant legend, along with winning a national championship in 2017 (35-31 over Alabama) after a brilliant 2016 championship loss (45-40, also against Alabama) where he went 36/56 for 405 yards/3 TDs passing, plus 73 yards and one TD rushing).

The fact of his family getting a home from former Tampa Bay Buc Warrick Dunn when he was eleven proves he’s a man who knows how to show his gratitude. If getting him out of Houston and onto a team where he would complete a quick(?) rebuilding of the Panthers franchise became as big a deal as Carolina fans believe it would be, that gratitude would work both ways.

Rhule could have successful 6-10 season, solid Panthers ‘D’ spoils WFT’s NFC East drive

Absolutely nothing about the stats from this next to last game of the season will cause NFL scoreboard watchers to change their minds about either the Panthers losing record, or that *someone* has to win the NFC East. The Panthers received enough good pieces offensively, and victimized the Washington Football Team’s Dwayne Haskins (two INTs, 1 fumble, 154 yds. passing) defensively in a 20-13 victory, although Washington still controls their playoff destiny.

For those who worried about Christian McCaffrey getting “used up” after last year, and being offensively awesome the last two years, you sort of got your wish in 2020.

While RB Mike Davis (14/28 yds, TD) has played effectively, and Teddy Bridgewater (19/28, 197 yds, 1/1 TD-INT; 3,557 yards for season) has been a terrific distributor to all of Joe Brady’s offensive options, operationally the team protected its asset for the lion’s share of the 2020 season. If CMC was on a Rams team with playoff hopes, he’d have been back weeks ago – but at what risk of injury was a primary consideration for the Panther organization.

There’s not a specific right or wrong to the decision, and surprisingly, there wasn’t any hue or cry to saddle CMC back up along the way, ankle or not. Mr. Tepper is a businessman of the highest order, and putting Matt Rhule at the coaching helm involved as serious an investment contract-wise as McCaffrey. He’s a billionaire who handed his new coach a six year contract, and adding a proven, exceptional, 100% right weapon to the mix they’ve developed, there’s plenty to think about over the winter.

If you heard Rhule’s done some remarkable turnarounds with a couple college programs – Tepper noted “He’s done plenty with a lot less” – that attitude is still on track. Like COVID-19 and current travel negatives, letting the offense grow through the strain may pay dividends when actual fannies are in the seats in 2021.

Betting with house money: Give an A+ Achiever-type like McCaffrey a season to think about how he’s going to prove he deserves the cha-ching! from extension, he’ll be back strong. He’s literally not broke – I saw the shoulder injury; that ankle, always tricky to figure – but he won’t need to be on the field 90% of the snaps if the Panthers take care of Davis and free-agent-to-be Curtis Samuel.

This was a strange year for everything, playing in almost empty stadiums. Sunday night, in the snow at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, less than 1,000 front line health workers and families got to be in the stands, as Aaron Rodgers polished his MVP cred. Quite a few more were willing to take their chances with the Chiefs to see Mahommes.

METRICS of Improvement

Having predicted 6-10, seeing a Panthers defense that’s done WAY better than last year is gratifying. In 2019, the floodgates opened wide, the long adored, QB-sacking, unblockable D of Kuechly and Davis demonstrably gone, giving up 470 points and 29.4/game.

New defensive coordinator Phil Snow arrived from Baylor with Rhule, and while the offense is barely a point better this year without McCaffrey (22.9 ppg, 23rd), the defense is ranked 18th of 32, giving up almost five less points (24.6/game) in 2020, when only the lowly Dolphins were worse.

Quick question: The Browns are 10-5, the Panthers 5-10. Who’s going to feel worse if they fail to make the playoffs because FOUR receivers were benched with COVID protocol, after they hot-tubbed together?

That’s a gratitutous question – how about Jeremy Chinn (110 tackles) for Defensive Rookie of the Year? While playing on the same field as Washington’s DE Chase Young, the #2 overall pick last year, he notched eight tackles to Young’s four, and while Young caused and recoverd a fumble, Chinn’s hybrid safety-linebacker role had THE defensive series of the year several weeks ago, scoring touchdowns on consecutive plays.

2020 offense effective, not ‘magic’

What’s not to like about Bridgewater, Robby Anderson, DJ Moore, and the leap in market value Curtis Samuel has taken this year, where four catches for 109 yards, and 7/52 rushing sounds like he’s gotten the sort of exposure that might otherwise have been directed at the treasured standard, McCaffrey? Does he NEED to be on the field 90% of snaps?

Bridgewater has even shown the willingness to leave the pocket and get yardage with his legs, a very different perspective after former Panther star QB Cam Newton’s last two years, when his size and speed advantages seem to have disintegrated. While Newton staggered to his 12th rushing TD of the season for the Patriots, https://patriotswire.usatoday.com/2020/12/29/cam-newton-wowed-with-this-rushing-touchdown-vs-the-bills/ he has 5 TDs and 10 INTs passing on the year, and based on the Bills secondary KNOWING he couldn’t get it down the field – the same situation as Cam’s last two years in Charlotte – he is probably done in the NFL.

Mike Davis impressed early, and his running with a chip on shoulder toughness also set a standard for the team. He’s racked up over 1,000 offensive yards, 652 keeping defenses honest on the run, and was a fine free agent signing, as was Robby Anderson (from Jets) by (again) departing General Manager, Marty Hurney. Whether Hurney is being moved out after giving McCaffrey a bonus-heavy contract extension before a season of small production is less likely than how Cam Newton’s payout with Patriots worked.

Hurney previously left after it seemed he’d overpaid on contracts for some fan favorites, but CMC’s value is unquestioned – and Hurney didn’t make that decision by himself.

Watching the offense move the ball consistently and with such variety at times became the essence of home town cheering, and expectations were they’d keep things interesting even though the defense might cost them games. Since the common draft started in 1967, the Panthers became the first team to use all seven selections for defensive players this spring, including #1 pick DT Derrick Brown, then traded up to make Chinn their second, 2nd round pick. The results weren’t questioned at the time, and a replenished secondary seems more capable.

The 33-31 loss to the Chiefs and Mahomes did nothing to disappoint the idea Panthers could score, even during a five-game losing streak. They held the Cards Kyler Murray in check, blew opportunities against the Broncos with dumb penalties, and let the Vikings game get away from them 28-27. https://www.espn.com/nfl/recap?gameId=401220302 Optimism isn’t gauche, there’s a sense Charlotte has perhaps seen the worst of times, that “The Buckle on the Bible Belt” won’t become like Detroit, where Lion’s GM Matt Millen’s reign was, well, almost legendary lousy compared to Hurney.

A home finale against the Saints for that important sixth win for Panthers will be worth watching , but sorry, I’m a fan of #9 as GOAT, with due respect to Mr. Brady and all his rings. I really like the home team, but Drew is about out of chances to get another ring, and while he might stay on the sidelines if there’s no possible change in seeding, HE sure isn’t taking anything for granted in 2020.

Interesting stat: The Panthers have used their #1 pick on QBs twice – Kerry Collins early, and of course, Cam Newton in 2011 – since landing the franchise in 1994. If you’re concerned that Teddy Bridgewater isn’t ‘the guy,’ Washington has used twelve #1 picks on quarterbacks (over 75 years), and the last one that really worked out was Sammy Baugh, their leader for 16 years – until 1953. https://www.profootballhof.com/players/sammy-baugh/ Chicago and Detroit have been unblessed with major talent there in a lot longer than 20 years Tom Brady ruled in New England. Five or six wins will put the Panthers past a time to get another franchise quarterback in the draft

If you can’t remember how last season looked at the end, https://cdtalententerprises.com/2020/04/28/cam-luke-greg-are-gone-will-defense-draft-be-the-answer/

Glenn Shorkey – Creative eDitorial Talent Enterprises

http://www.linkedin.com/in/glennshorkey
https://cdtalententerprises.com/about
(704) 502-9947

Panthers, NFL (almost) puts ‘normal’ back on the U.S. mental menu

While its uncertain about when the crowds will be allowed to return to BOA Stadium, good football is back in Charlotte.

In a week where a presidential “debate” caused alarm and general cringing for so many things wrong, and my personal production on a book and being a WFH long-form informational blogger dragged, catching the Carolina Panthers 31-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals was a definite goodness.

The Panthers (2-2) now have as many wins as the combined NFC East, RB Mike Davis has shown he can do more than just give Christian McCaffrey an occasional breather, and well, on a sunshiney fine Monday, that’s three facts to go forward with, smiling.

After stopping a 10-game Panther losing streak with a 21-16 win over the Los Angeles Chargers last week, QB Teddy Bridgewater continues to be exceptional as a distributor, hitting eight different receivers in a 26/37, 276 yd./2 TD-1 INT effort. Of those eight receivers, free agent Robby Anderson (from Jets) just missed a third straight 100 yd. game (8/99), Samuel (3/51), Moore (4/49), Bonafon (2/18 with a TD, 10/53 rushing), and Davis 5/27) means Teddy B. is doing well.

He also added 32 yards rushing, one an 18 yd. TD run, and the Panthers controlled the ball for 37 minutes of the game. Without casting too much shade on the departed Cam Newton, for a guy who has come back from a devastating knee injury, Bridgewater runs better than the version of Newton Charlotte saw the last two years, when it looked like he couldn’t decide to get down or punish a tackler.

Most experts picked the Panthers for no better than a 6-10 record, and McCaffrey’s high ankle sprain (out 4-6 weeks) probably had most of them ready to take a win or two off that idea.

In what most of America will recognize as a continuing slow, closely watched reopening of stadiums at the college (Alabama-Texas A&M had 19,424 in Bryant-Denny Stadium, apparently that constitutes ‘social distancing’ in a 101k seat stadium) and pro levels, 5,200 fans got to watch a total team effort under optimal Carolina blue skies.

In putting the metrics up for examination, the Panthers were 4/5 on trips to the red zone, scoring four TDs (1/6 last week, 5 FGs by Joey Slye), and 7/11 converting 3rd downs (3/12 v. Chargers), and they only punted ONCE. As announcers noted, Cards QB Kyle Murray gouges many teams that fail to maintain ‘rush discipline,’ so with a defense that held the elusive Murray to 133 yds. (3 TDs) on 24 ‘dink & dunk’ completions, plus 48 of his 78 yards rushing on one of his six carries, results on both side of the ball were encouraging.

Put a check mark next to Jeremy Chinn, listed as a safety, but very flexible in the Panthers defensive scheme, for your All-Rookie team. He leads his class with 34 tackles. and smile again, because new defensive coordinator Phil Snow has earned his paycheck and Panther pride is on the rise.

Really, in a 2020 world thats been truly scary since COVID appeared, last years 5-11 seems like just a bad dream, definitely worth forgetting. Unfortunately for the Texans, Washington, Giants, Jets, and Atlanta (0-4), they are probably headed into really undesirable territory. That the Falcons haven’t been able to shake their unreal Super Bowl collapse to Tom Brady’s Patriots two years ago is a fact. A recent re-do of disasterous endings – that onside kick fiasco that saved the Cowboys was a gobsmack.

Whether Falcons get healthy receiving bodies back or not bothers nobody I know – this is man-up divisional, at all times genuinely hostile time for Panthers. I’ll watch that almost any weekend.

That’s kind of where I’m going on ‘normal,’ knowing I haven’t wiped down the kitchen in two weeks, but kind of penciling in my fall Saturday afternoon: leftovers for lunch, clearing out and washing the car, grocery shopping, a walk, blocking out another blog through four-ish, and no long gun carrying dudes like in Michigan? Normal’s cool on a rainy weekend.

Sunday football makes a real weekend

Most of the sports world is settling its champions in a strange mix of seasons, and scrambled though it was, its easy to admit that getting sports as an option while most of the country was staying hunkered down helped greatly. In shorthand mode:

  • The Tampa Bay Lightening beat the Dallas Stars for the NHL title in six games, and while there was no lack of effort from teams that lived in protective “bubbles” in Edmonton and Toronto while playing before empty arenas for two months, the TV ratings, probably due to the late starts in Edmonton, were less than great. Still, they were 33% better than last year, when it usually goes against the NBA and baseball in April, May, June.
  • The Portland Timber took the “MSL is Back” tournament (July 8 – August 11) and immediately began the 18 games remaining on the regular 2020 schedule. Stay tuned…
  • The Los Angeles Lakers lead the Miami Heat 3-1 in the NBA Finals, and LeBron was ticked off enough about 20 turnovers in the Game 3 loss to walk off the court before the end of the game. Even though the Lakers weren’t in great sync Game 4, their 3-pt. shooting was significant. Of concern to most is how things go Friday – it could be the Lakers 17th championship, LeBron’s something in a row, probably another MVP and he’s done great with his ‘More Than a Vote’ https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2898497-lebron-james-more-than-a-vote-pushing-nba-arenas-as-mega-polling-sites campaign , getting the Lakers to offer their arena (as have many other teams, including Panthers, with unused stadiums) as a polling station.
  • The Triple Crown of horse-racing was won by three different horses, with the Kentucky Derby – usually the first Saturday in May, not going off until September 5th, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s Authentic taking charge at the top of the stretch to give him a record 6th win. Swiss Skydiver became the 6th filly in 145 years to win the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes (first, but usually last) cutting the distance from 1 1/2 miles to 1 1/8, won by Tiz the Law  against a small field. Even if you’re a real horse fan, that’s still barely six minutes of action over three months though.
  • Baseball has begun its second round of playoffs at about the usual time, the LA Dodgers had the best regular season record (43-17) in NL, and the Tampa Bay Rays topped the AL (40-20). The Rays-Yanks Game 5 is Friday, no days off in the bubble.
“Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks…”

Oh, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) won the Tour de France’s maillot jaune (yellow jersey) in dominant fashion, also taking the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey and white (best young rider under 25). Going into the time trial final stage, he was 57 seconds back of leader Primož Roglič, but made that up and beat him by 59 seconds.

In the cycling world (actually, most places) that’s getting crushed.

FOOTBALL – A traditional hold on Fall sports

But FOOTBALL! with its traditional hold on the Fall sports schedule, has brought back American weekends. Yes, there are Monday and Thursday games along the way, but a brewskie or twoskie and some salty snacks, that’s the deal to chill with, COVID to the rear of the bus. Having watched nine hours, from the 1:00 Panther game till the end of the 49ers-Eagles Sunday night game, the ‘Normal’ aspect of sports watching has returned with a flourish, although commercials during timeouts are LOADED with (frequently brutal) political ads.

OH BOY! Monday Night Football is a double header! “Hunkered down”

is just a little bit better with a 60″ screen and Tony Romo.

Sports are definitive

Sports are definitive – cool, even regular compared to everything else involved in this grinding Red-Blue struggle wrapped around a panemic absolute clarity delivered with instant replays. No chicanery, no long term battles over information, or who did what on which side of any philosophical line. In or out, catch/no catch, breaking the plane, the quarterback won’t play because of a knee injury, next guy up, period.

Its not a voting situation, and personal effort counts – their defensive end strip-sacks your QB (Brian Burns of Panthers has done it two weeks in a row, Grosse-Matos got one) and when everyone unpiles, guy with the ball at bottom is the only thing that counts. Dak Prescott (Dallas) throws for 502 yards and 4 TDs but Cowboys get taken to the shed 49-38 by the Cleveland Browns, all he gets is a quick “nice try, see you next week.”

Op-Ed – Off my chest

Debate-wise, there was nothing good to say about the embarassing level of negativity that the president pumped into the event for the entire 90 minutes on Tuesday. Having gotten my fill of athletic achievement the last two months, one experience I won’t repeat is watching even as much as the four brief snips of that debate I checked out. There was no honor or triumph to be had there, and trump’s ‘tactics’ certainly aren’t any ‘normal’ I believe befits the leader of this country. (Okay, a little editorializing)

The Panthers won because Coach Rhule seems to use almost everyone on the roster. Teddy Bridgewater has a steady hand on the wheel – more 13-play, 66 yard drives please! – and the coaches he brought to Charlotte, Snow and Joe Brady, who won the Broyles Award as the top assistant in college football last year, have made a difference quickly.

Tadej Pogačar won the Tour de France because he combined superb mountain climbing with the strength of will to triumph over 2,165 miles (21 stages, 23 days). America, unfortunately, will have to wait considerably longer to gain any real victory over COVID-19, but the potential dictator thing – thats over on November 3rd (or so).

And yessir, its true, “hunkered down” is just a little bit better with a 60″ screen and Tony Romo. (OH BOY! Monday Night Football is a double header!)

Glenn Shorkey – Creative eDitorial Talent Enterprises 

http://www.linkedin.com/in/glennshorkey
https://cdtalententerprises.com/about
(704) 502-9947

COVID continues, 9-11 counts, NFL’s content was great Sunday, my NC ballot arrived

Of all the St. Gabe’s events that haven’t happened, our annual cookout for the Mens Shelter was a real loss

Having recently questioned whether American football had been forgotten, let’s put a legitimate stake in at least one national concern – NO. Without preseason games, when 53-man rosters (plus 16 on practice squads) were announced Labor Weekend, that kind of snuck up while I was watching all that hockey, but yes, games without fannies in the seats is happening.

Having all playoff hockey and hoops and baseball get interrupted last week was a great way to focus attention, and after watching three relevant, well-played, and produced games Sunday, there’s a quality of getting something done to a high level that should be considered a positive, very American vibe.

  • Starting with the local Panthers, whose fans have LOTS to be concerned about in 2020, after last two years (5-11, 7-9) were beyond rocky. No Cam, Luke, or Greg, all new coaches, and 30 people who weren’t on 53-man roster last year. At home against the Raiders, a 34-30 loss wasn’t unexpected, but on all other fronts, it easily fulfilled every expectation.
  • New QB Teddy Bridgewater spread it around with a 22/34 for 270 yards and TD day, and McCaffrey’s production – 23 rushes for 96 yards, 2 TDs plus 3/38 yards on catches was part of a good as anticipated Panther offensive mixture. That Bridgewater ran when necessary, four times for 24 yards, he’s not playing afraid of previous injuries. (Just saying, because Newton got clocked at goal line for New England because he couldn’t decide to get down or put his shoulder into it.)
  • DJ Moore (4/54 yds.), Curtis Samuel (5/38 yds.), and Robby Anderson (6/115 yds, TD) were all solid as hoped for, McCaffrey contributed of course, and TE Ian Thomas (2/16 yds.) got a taste as well.
  • Pharoh Cooper looked good on kickoffs (4/109) and punts (2/29), and while Joey Slye missed a PAT, he was 3-3 on field goals. Pretty much everybody did their jobs, including new safety-DB Jeremy Chinn with seven tackles.

Nothing for anyone in Charlotte to be at all discouraged about going forward, putting up thirty while knocking the competitive rust off is a much better view than almost anything last season. All systems responded nicely, even if Troy Pride, Jr. got way too good a look at Ruggs TD. Donte Jackson’s name will come up often this season, but he was out after the 11th play in opener, opening the door for Chinn.

The Raiders Derek Carr was a respectable 22/30, 239 yds, TD, but it was RB Joshua Jacobs 25/93 and 3 TDs on the ground that made the difference – the Panthers defensive line will be a problem until its not. Ruggs III TD catch was after the ‘Bama star had a 45-yd. gainer and before getting injured, a reason to still be concerned about the secondary after only giving up one passing TD.

Through many hours of viewing

Two things that came through across many hours of viewing: What’s supposedly a player-driven awareness of social aspects – the Milwaukee Bucks started the whole “no sports, so think about shooting another black man for a day” – was put forth every step of the way from Thursday – Sunday night. Overall, the ability to keep “the product” so well-done technically doesn’t appear less valid to me, lacking a season ticket but with a big screen and six pack. Isn’t it a gas how they’ve gotten the crowd cues for EXTRA excited about certain plays, like go-ahead TDs and OT goals?

Many questioned how ‘no fannies sports’ would go over – mark me down as believing crowds keep the pandemic alive, and for the entertainment factor all the current sports provide without that negative, things can actually be called Normal on that front. I’m taking that as a positive of the TV sports moment, not an absolute approval of being without social interfacing over cold ones.

As noted about previous hockey watching (Go STARS! in the Finals), we’re seeing everyone’s best effort, including stats and studio people, while skill is still what winning is about, with intense analysis and replays when necessary. In the current political climate, the idea of Fairness comes out as righteous – we’d like to think that’s not JUST a sports expectation.

Was this 19th year of 9-11 rememberance less significant?

Was this 19th year of 9-11 rememberance any less significant during our trying national times? Given the recent use of pegoratives by the president regarding those who lost their lives in battle, was there a stiffening of national will that THOSE 9-11 AMERICANS – lost a while ago in that War on Terror theme – wouldn’t be thought of as ‘losers’ much longer by this stain on ‘Merica’s pride, dammit?

Millions spilled their collective guts protesting all summer, thankfully, apparently, without the wicked consequences of COVID infection seen by other, often maskless masses. Serious props to the Moms and every other stripe of America that stood together in Portland. Nah nah nah nah, hey hey – GOOD BYE! to Fed thugs. Being tear-gassed for freedom of assembly and “Let’s roll!” on 9-11, same heroes by me.

You want a memory of 9-11, replay this Jon Stewart speech https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uYpDC3SRpM to the bummer treatment a roomful of first responders got in Congress. Yes, we can do better, and I’d have *sworn* we had this malfeasance, and sexual-racial and environmental situations – including Roe v. Wade – locked down legally back in the Seventies.

Perhaps, yet there’s also been room to talk about lessons the upheaval that COVID and ‘social unrest’ have brought. Its uncomfortable at times, yet the personal spots, like Calais Campbell of the Jaguars in a spotlight, shows how articulate they are about this cause. If you’ve heard LeBron’s ‘More Than a Vote’ spot, SPORTS continues making a social difference. https://lebronwire.usatoday.com/2020/09/15/lebron-james-narrates-new-video-for-more-than-a-vote/

Don’t take TV as mollifying the masses

For the record, the best record in baseball belongs to the LA Dodgers, their 33-14 being just ahead of the San Diego Padres 31-17. Tampa Bay’s Rays (30-17) are four games ahead of the Yankees, and OAKLAND leads the AL West by six with a 29-18 mark.

The other games that were kind of Must See TV, was Future Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady’s first game in Tampa Bay (34-23 loss to Saints, 23/36, 239 yds,, 2/2 TDs-INTs) after all that legendary stuff for the Patriots, and seeing the absolute glory of the sports palace of all time as the Rams (Chargers home too) beat the Cowboys 20-17 at the end of NFL Week 1.

(I use that Future HOF thing like when sportswriters used ‘Marvelous’ so often, boxer Marvin Hagler changed his first name)

The Kentucky Derby has a worthy winner, 8-1 AUTHENTIC going wire to wire, and becoming trainer Bob Baffert’s record sixth victory. May or September it was a grand run, especially the whole stretch after getting caught right after the final turn, when Authentic pulled away decisively.

HEY, ‘MERICA! You got that kind of kick in you?

I obviously didn’t get to attend the local Queen’s Cup Steeplechases in late April, and that difference is kept in mind when watching TV – its not the same thing as picnic baskets and friends and hats and cornhole and dressing up and LOTS of people to dance with.

Sunday was nine hours of football, several beers, terrific chili, a washed car, and 30 minutes shooting hoops. Does sports mean something more at this point? A qualified ‘Yes’ seems legitimate, because anger won’t really change anything. Many days before, football watching would be a simple fact of life, relaxing, a little extra Yay! if the home team won, so putting it down as lacking in urgency relative to big world problems, not to worry. Hey, at least there’s an actual difference to WEEKENDS now.

Fifty days to go was yesterday

I received my North Carolina ballot Saturday, two days after my brother, who sent in for his weeks before I did – timing was as expected when NC was first in the country to send on the 5th. No postal service on Monday, Labor Day, so all good on that part of things. Plan is to deliver to Board of Elections, and I’m most of the way on decision to become a poll worker.

Recognizing anything like that puts extra risk into my personal situation, I’ve been hunkered down for a while, maybe this is the time for being part of a necessary solution vs. relying on others? https://cdtalententerprises.com/2020/03/30/hoops-heat-for-lockdown-prep-weekend-worries-about-ny/ I think so.

I okayed (and paid for) a background check for Team Rubicon while examining what else is necessary for deployment with this GSD (Get Shit Done) organization. Its a process, you have to *prove* you belong with the mission, and there’s no problem having a standard like that to work from, right?

And don’t worry, just because 1,000 people voted twice in GA, that doesn’t mean I’ll do anything because the prez suggests it.

Did America *really* forget about football? I did.

With the screwed up situations season-wise that ALL sports are facing as a result of COVID (ie. hockey is at semi-final stage, usually end by June) a *lot* of football prognosticators are going to be muttering in their beverage of choice regularly this year. Looking at the cuts from many teams (What do you mean “no kickers to start the year? They let WHO go?”), its going to be obvious that no preseason games to test talent (53 on roster, 16 on practice squad) will cause “why did we?” second thoughts by management and OMGs! from the public.

While it won’t be noticed if you leave early, nobody should snooze on the Panthers offense this year.

The Kansas City Chiefs (Super Bowl winners) should be relatively happy with whats coming from Mahomes after an MVP and Super Bowl last year. That massive contract for Mahomes will need fannies to buy online gear instead of hot dogs, and he’s one of the stars whose future the NFL would like to see actually work now, in the COVID era.

New Orleans still has Drew Brees for one more go-round (?), and if Panther fans feel last two years have ‘hurt’ here, consider “those two years” when the Saints were *great* and ONE play a year changed their fortunes. The ‘Whiff and the Whack’ I call them, with a non-tackle against the Vikings and an OBVIOUS pass interference/no flag deal against the Rams meaning the best team in football got beat on flukes.

Fond farewells and new Rhule’s are legitimate.

The post-Cam, Luke, Greg era has ended for the usual reasons, and fond farewells of course. I admit to liking Bridgewater as a distributor in this offense. He’s got plenty of arm, does the throws, if he’s paying extra attention to TE Manhertz, with Olsen gone, he or Ian Thomas should find catches. Anyone excited about Turner’s offense with McCaffrey, ‘Run CMC Y4’ will be leaving the station shortly. You know how valuable he’s been, congrats on the 1000-1000 deal and appropriate contract. The expectation is that Joe Brady’s O will turn Bridgewater, CMC and three sterling receivers (DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel, Robby Thompson) into fantasy stat stars.

Coach Rhule laid out his – uhhh, feelings – about how prepared starters were for last Friday’s scrimmage (think lollygaggers shower scene in ‘Bull Durham’), and without knocking Rivera’s fairly stoic persona, he wasn’t complimentary about the effort and you KNEW about it for real. Not many, including self, are predicting better than 6-10 in 2020, but 7-9 would put polish on Rhule’s rep in doing turnarounds with somewhat dinged college programs (Temple, Baylor) quickly. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2020/04/28/cam-luke-greg-are-gone-will-defense-draft-be-the-answer/ As Mr. Tepper has noted, “He’s done more with less.”

Rhule brought his defensive guy from Baylor, Phil Snow, and if all the coaches will earn their paychecks, Snow’s defense simply HAS to make a difference. The 58 sacks last year was a change from the toothless year before, and there wasn’t a lot of second-guessing when Panthers had a first-ever all defensive (7) picks in draft. If not Christmas tree lit up, the secondary is going to be under duress all year, because Tom Brady will be a twice a year deal now, with Brees and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan as well.

SCORING – “Best defense (against losing) is a great offense,” could mean a couple 34 pt. afternoons are entertaining but don’t come out as wins. Effort will be there, expectations are somewhat lowered, but this won’t be a 1-15 crater that brought Cam Newton and had people selling their PSLs.

For Panther fans who still worry about Christian McCaffrey getting worn out, only if he carries that $21.4M signing bonus around.

Everybody gets to re-do their analysis after three games (right?), and fact the NFL is having ANY games at this point amazes me, although I’m aware its not “back to normal” either. A competitive 6-10 https://cdtalententerprises.com/2019/12/30/ugly-2019-ends-with-questions-on-broken-d-head-coach-olsen-cam/, where Mr. Slye thumps a couple winners from 50+ on last play, or Moore-Samuel have snaky 60-yard runs, I’ll watch that.

I have no interest…

I’m not an expert about everybody else going into this mystery season, and truthfully, there are several I seldom care about :

Neither of the NY teams – They started regional telecasting sophomore year in college, so I got double-headers of sucko teams and have never recovered. The Washington Team (Snyder), LA Chargers (maybe with Rivers gone…), Cardinals (though hope Larry Fitzgerald has a great year, Year Two for Murray!) or Browns. (Hmmm, Fogg will bet on them…) Actively dislike the Bears, Lions (on general principles), meh on Broncos, Jaguars, Titans, even the Dolphins, although I wonder if Tua Tagovailoa will carve the NFL like he did for Alabama while becoming #2 overall pick.

Does Ben Rothliesberger have any gas left in the tank for Steelers, coming back from arm injury? How long does Tomlin want to keep grinding in the ‘Burgh? I’d sure like to see Drew Brees have a wild final (?) year with another Super Bowl, with all the records and beaucoup accolades for a Great Guy.

Yes, I will want to know how things in Tampa Bay work with future first ballot Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady at the controls, a bunch of quality receivers, and stud running back Leonard Fornette.

I was a sportswriter in Tampa during the early ’80s-Doug Williams days. Expect it will be easy to get bets with my cousin Frank at this point, and everybody likes a shootout, as long as its mutual. Putting Brady on his back makes it tougher for 43 y/old GOATs to throw, and I expect he’s okay with putting any of his considerable rep on the line with this challenge. This is like Gretsky going to LA Kings big. If I was a lineman for him or Brees, I’d *have* to play somewhat inspired.

Green Bay and Rodgers became what Dallas was for years, a rep for getting national exposure while obviously flawed, but 13-3 last year is still the standard for a really good team. Who know if its going to be another moaning about no D year, word is he wasn’t given any real help. Having seen what new Panther O-Coordinator Joe Brady did with #1 pick QB Joe Burrow (Cincinnati Bengals) at LSU, I assume he WOULD have put fannies in the seats, but generally I don’t sweat the Bengals. I used to like the Raiders, hated their bush league field.

Lamar Jackson – you DO know he’s 6’3″ with all that speed, right? That’s why Cam was such a monster, he’s all of 6’5.” All Lamar’s numbers are legit, give their organization credit for all in decision on offensive change -510 points, 31.9/per game means a lot. I don’t know what they have defensively. Always love those divisional battles with Steelers.

Cam vs. Bridgewater

One writer opined that 30 TD passes, plus 10 himself, would be an amazing year for Newton (duh!) in New England. If anyone in the Panthers org thought (although the $$$ factor was real) he could still run well enough to score that many, he’d still be a Panther. I like Bridgewater as an ideal distributor in this offense – with his touch passes, expect this offense to spread things to a talented, productive group.

Robby Anderson, Curtis Samuel, DJ Moore are high quality, and McCaffrey has always been known as an exceptional receiver. Anderson is another Rhule guy, whom he recruited to Temple, and he’s a great free agent addition from the Jets. DJ Moore already arrived in 2019: 87 catches for 1,175 yards/4 TDs, and he blossomed when Kyle Allen threw passes he could grab in stride vs. Newton’s ‘go there-turn around’ bullets. I *guarantee* you see ‘up’ passes in red zone to Anderson and Moore, with Moore getting 10+ TDs not much of a stretch.

With Curtis Samuel, he of the legendary speed and elusiveness, Panthers have a decent track team on the field, and having seen Turner’s offense run trick plays that maximized how tough they are to get on the ground – expect more, especially with Samuel. He is a beast to catch in space. Mr. Third Down, Jarius Wright, still in the house.

No more Greg Olsen, honestly, good luck in Seattle. We can only hope Thomas-Manhertz soaked up some of his disappearing ninja skills. As a community person of the highest order, a two-time finalist for the Walter Peyton ‘Man of the Year’ award, Greg repped Dad-hood, class, professionalism, caring to the max. Everyone was glad his son made it through the heart problems, and when he got “the right contract” after those three 1000 yd. seasons, especially when the foot injuries cropped up.

DEFENSE! Well…

Of 25 Panther coaches/assistants, new defensive coordinator Phil Snow is going to feel the most pressure to make a difference, and the fact is, there’s almost no place to go but up.

The Panthers weren’t the worst at anything, but the 470 (29.4 ppg) points they surrendered was ahead of only the Dolphins (494, 30.9 ppg). The 143.5 average they were gouged for on the ground beat only Cleveland (144.7), Washington, and Cincinnati’s (2-14) bottom of the list 148.9. Giving up 3,696 (231 yds. per game) by air looks better, with 19 teams – including 12-4 division winner New Orleans (3,868) – behind them.

That All-American defensive tackle Derrick Brown will play immediately is a given. Panthers were the worst (5.2 per rush) against the run in 2019. Edge rusher Yetur Gross-Matos (6’5″, 265 lbs., Penn St.), Jeremy Chinn (safety, Southern Illinois), fourth-rounder Troy Pride, Jr. (CB, Notre Dame), Kenny Robinson (safety, West Virginia) will get real opportunities.

DT Derrick Brown from Auburn needs to be a BIG deal, not just Dontari Poe big either. Brian Burns had 7.5 sacks as a rookie and got bigger, but the secondary is still a scary unknown. If the Panthers KNEW Donte Jackson could actually close down one side, that would be a relief – it often seems he uses speed to got there AFTER the catch. Looking for that bloom in Year 3. Is Corn Elder ready?

None of the defensive facts noted in my year end analysis have changed, best bet for 2020 is “Take the over.”

Glenn Shorkey – Creative eDitorial Talent Enterprises 

http://www.linkedin.com/in/glennshorkey
https://cdtalententerprises.com/about
(704) 502-9947

Sports content without fans, Dem’s video convention successful, and “$1B Peace of Mind”

Take de-stressing where you can. Al fresco dining for that easy lunch hour work from home encourages.

As a content creation-sports journalist-leadership thought writer on the cusp of a very significant September, and thankfully determining I didn’t have a torn ligament in my ankle from a bicycle crash earlier in the month, I’m putting out a certain “Bring it!” attitude for what’s coming politically this Fall.

I got out to shoot hoops five times and walked twice this week – while totally not watching any of the trump family gathering – and when the ankle gets a little puffy, a little something in the OJ seems to help with that.

The usual bromide is, “If you’ve got your health, you’ve got everything,” and in-place safety and masking aside, full recovery from what could have been a much worse outcome is part of my enthusiasm for the turn into Fall. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2020/08/18/bike-accident-low-grade-depression-match-us-mess/ After nailing a 70,000 word rewrite of my favorite all-time book project after a breach at site wiped out everything at the beginning of the month, I’m good to go on all fronts.

The shoulder took heavy abuse when I went down, but three weeks later the J is going up painless in hoops, and I’m sleeping on my right side again.

For those who find a sense of normalcy with the ability to watch soccer, baseball, hoops, and hockey, there’s nothing wrong with getting some joy from all the extra television most are watching. To say they don’t need us isn’t accurate, but…

When SSDD (same stuff, different day) became real sports on TV again, it didn’t take a sportswriter designation to appreciate the difference playoffs would mean. Social slogans on the back of NBA players and piped in crowd noise are legitimate ‘production values.’

That SPORTS! stopped on a dime when ALL the players in their bubbles made it a social point, that was a media event that wasn’t ignored by most of the USA.

Sports on TV an appreciated difference

Credit to Bayern Munich for its 6th UEFA title vs. Paris-St. Germaine, and for the Portland Timbers 2-1 ‘MLS is Back’ tournament win, which then morphed into a continuation of their season (18 more games.) Baseball, sure, but that’s later. There will be a Kentucky Derby winner this coming Saturday, 19 contestants.

Hockey has been particularly fierce for me, though some 10:45 starts out of Edmonton are killers. On balance, NHL content has benefited the most from bubble presentations, with jazzy video stuff, knowledgable studio personnel, and NO lack of effort on the ice.

ISLANDERS! are the word, up 3-1 against the Flyers in playoffs, which are actually proceeding exactly as usual. Well, as long as their playoffs often run, September is usually when they get ready for training camp. Gotta go with the explosive STARS out west, but boy! do the Vegas Golden Knights have team size. Goalie Robin Lehner is listed at 6’4″, 240, and with the equipment on, he’s a space eater. There weren’t any Lightening games in Tampa when I lived there in early ’80s, just the Suc-aneers, but hey, as one of band drummers, my cousin got us in (shout to Skip!) Back then it was Doug Williams, but I’ll have to ask him about Mr. GOAT-with-six-Super-Bowl-Rings Brady being there now…

In NBA action the LAKERS crushed Portland 4-1, and no smart $$$ is betting against LeBron in a short season. Even if he might be distracted with social ideas, like turning stadiums into polling stations (way good idea, and official now), LeBron’s the King. The Celtics took Raptors in first game of their series, and Kwai Leonard is doing the same good things in Clip-Land he did in pulling off a championship for Toronto last year.

The Effort from everyone is clear: It counts a little extra to play well when the world is watching .

USPS gets its own section

The USPS gets its own section, and people aren’t worried about anyone ‘going postal’ as much as the possibility of postal service GOING. Its significant that the USPS has a 90% approval rating, which hits any business definition as an INSTITUTION worth keeping. Really, who spreads actual CONTENT better? They handle 1.3 billion Christmas cards and packages every year, so another 80 million ballots over 30 days shouldn’t be crucial, but the furor over disenfranchisement is real.

Black leaders have noted that, while they’ve experienced such interference for a long time, when it came to veterans meds, Social Security checks, and of course, ballots, THEN it got attention. So be it – the question of how logistics expert DeJoy screwed things up so dramatically so quickly, that would involve a sound bite with bite.

Yes, I watched something besides sports and the Obamas this week, including one specific Representtive – Ro Khanna of CA 17th – grind on Postmaster General Louis DeJoy about those 671 disassembled, high-speed mail sorters we’d heard about, before eventually getting a somewhat desirable resolution, even though it came with a potentially high price tag.

“Just for the peace of mind it would bring, would it be possible with a billion dollars?” Rep. Khanna asked.

“You can’t get me the billion dollars, but if you could, yes, I’d put the machines back,” an exasperated Mr. DeJoy finally caved. Getting that stated billion dollar peace of mind, props to Mr. Khanna for not letting a possible slow down in delivering ballots just drop from sight. Even semi-officially holding this particular miscreant’s feet to the fire, that’s transparent TV content to cheer a little about hearing.

BLM speaks loudly about NOW

Seeing Jacob Blake shot seven times in the back – let alone in front of his family – wasn’t ‘content,’ somehow it was more a heinous refresher people needed after Facebook repeatedly stated how weary a statistical part of society was becoming of the BLM struggle. With the national – even international – response so strong about George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police, NOW seems the time and place to consider long time operational flaws in law enforcement.

“We” of any stripe are watching LOTS of things in the current churn, and the election countdown has started for real, but that’s not taking a side. In high school, I (naturally) ran the last part of the cross country course – when I could absolutely see where the finish line was, while circling the soccer fields in Central Park – its easy to keep a better speed and focus. I enjoyed picking off people at the end.

I can see the ballot box choice clearly from here. I’m charged up physically, mentally, involved as an individual and in union with others, doing what needs doing. Should I have to mention without automatic weapons (or even paintball, which could become gas versions at some point)?

What’s the Point?

Leaving this point of COVID-19 semi-stall better than when I came in, that’s become a legitimate personal standard

Team Rubicon might be a difference maker. I have my health, I’ve put a solid achievement on the board, https://www.wattpad.com/myworks/216172684/write/847519167 and with immediate goals, like ‘Watty’s’ submission and a 22,000 word running start on second book ‘With Platinum Fury Focus,’ I know what professional content creation will mean.

ATTITUDE – The social science people look at how we process and react to things, and often the Pollyanna-ish “all is well,” or even verbalizing a more personally stressful version, doesn’t allow for just being holy shit mad about things that are going on . My opinion from a year ago https://cdtalententerprises.com/2019/08/12/renew-mojo-preseason-nfl-golf-sat-bbq-pool-breaks/ about giving your mojo some breaks, still stands.

Walking beside a gently flowing stream work well on the chilling front.

This past week of healing, on days I didn’t stress test my shoulder and ankle with hoops, I walked the greenway. All is very good there, and as noted, I lacked any political negatives on my mind. I’m healthy, motivated – still without that stimulus check I heard about in April – but more fortunate than many that there’s no threat of eviction on my horizon.

I’m actually impressed with a contact from Team Rubicon, a veteran-focused, real immediate, disaster relief organization, whose operational code is summed up in GSD – Get Shit Done. They also take on Grey Shirts who are kick ass civilians, and I’d like to think I have that finishing kick to a career that touched on doing better for parts of the world. Pursuing an actual part of ‘build better’ in US? I’ll let you know.

In tune with the times?

When I originally got in touch with Team Rubicon in early 2019, I was considering a good-paying (with benefits) gig for a CBD manufacturer in Charlotte. I liked everything about their mission focus, but at the same time, the fact I had zero military background seemed a legitimate self-disqualifer.

But here at the end of August, 2020 after five months in the house, just as I nailed down the last five thousand words of editing an re-chapterizing my book on wattpad, just as the last of the huge hematoma-infection I took care of with REAL medication – Bacitrycin – that worked great immediately; after hearing Barack Obama speak in as intimate a way and setting as anyone could have delivered the content of a great speech, without the usual covention hoo-ha, I got three communications in one week from TR.

There are openings as their coverage has grown, splitting off into Charlotte and Rock Hill. The specific Communications – Operations role I was interested in seems to have been filled professionally – all the information I asked for in followup Saturday, including my official number, was readily available. “The new guy” in command structure has let it be known that for specific roles, “We’ll train you up, if you want to step up and see about having the goods.”

I’ve got plenty of communications chops, and thanks to that good-looking site, I’ve actually COMMITTED by signing up for a specialist class in early October, and doing a background check. This sure feels like the time to put a mission-specific shoulder behind the wheel in a solid American way. I WILL VOTE! and I will be Better on the other side of this.

Really folks, relax when you can. I’ll put the sports question – definitely hockey – up tomorrow. A couple series could be ending quickly.