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 fine without fans, Dems show creative-successful, “$1B Peace of Mind”

Al fresco dining on the back of the vehicle, that easy hour WFH encourages.
Take destressing where/when you can.

As a content creation-sports journalist-leadership thought writer, on the cusp of a very significant September, I’m putting out a certain “Bring it!” attitude for what’s coming politically.

I got out to shoot hoops five times and walked twice this week – didn’t watch any of the trump family gathering – and while the ankle gets a little puffy, I definitely don’t have a torn ligament, which was a concern when I had a bicycle crash early in the month.

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 in hoops, the J is going up painless; I’ve slept on my right side twice.

SPORTS! on TV, appreciate the difference

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 SPORTS! on TV again, it didn’t take a sportswriter designation to appreciate the difference PLAYOFFS meant. 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 is media that can’t be – and wasn’t -ignored by most of the USA.

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; some 10:45 starts out of Edmonton are killers. On balance, their content has benefited the most from bubble presentations, 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. Hey, cuz got us in as one of band drummers (shout to Skip!) Will have to ask him about Brady there now…Back then it was Doug Williams.

LAKERS crushed Portland 4-1, don’t bet against LeBron, even if he might be distracted with social ideas, like turning stadiums into polling stations (way good idea, and official now). Celts took Raptors in first game of their series, Kwai Leonard is doing same good things in Clip-Land as he did in pulling off a championship for Toronto last year.

The Effort from everyone is clear, playing well when the world is watching really counts.

USPS gets its own section

USPS gets its own section, and people aren’t worried about “going postal” as much as the fact of postal GOING. Its truly important that the 90% approval rating it has beats any business definition as an INSTITUTION worth keeping – who spreads actual CONTENT better? They handle 1.3 billion Christmas cards, so another 80 million ballots over 30 days shouldn’t be crucial, but furor over disenfranchisement is real.

Black leaders note that, while they’ve seen 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 was a sound bite with bite.

Yes, I watched something besides sports and the Obamas, including one specific Rep. – Ro Khanna of CA 17th – grind on Mr. DeJoy about those 671 disassembled, high-speed sorters, eventually getting the resolution, “You can’t get me the billion dollars, but if you could, yes, I’d put the machines back.” Getting it stated as “$1 billion peace of mind,” that’s not letting it just drop out, it’s semi-officially holding someone’s feet to the fire, and that’s transparent *content.*

Seeing Jacob Blake shot seven times in the back – let alone in front of his family, isn’t content – was it, somehow, a heinous refresher some people needed after FB repeated how weary a statistical part of society was becoming of the struggle? Response was strong about George Floyd, this still seems the time and place to consider changes.

“We” of any stripe are watching LOTS of things in the current churn, and the election countdown has started for real, but thats 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?

That I’m Better leaving this point of COVID-19 semi-stall than when I came in, has been my standard

Team Rubicon could be 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 things, how you react, and often the Pollyanna “all is well,” or 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.

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 (early 2019), I was considering a good-paying (with benefits) gig for a CBD manufacturer in Charlotte. I’d liked everything about the mission focus, but at the same time, fact I had zero military background seemed a legitimate self-DQ.

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 chapter-izing and re-editing 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 Barak 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, 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.

Glenn Shorkey – Creative eDitorial Talent Enterprises  

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

Shooting hoops in 90-plus degree heat and political analogies might be ‘Foxworthy’

Sure you get a little loopy if you’re out there in blazing heat, and when it’s 86% humidity at 11 a.m., some extra truths might come to mind. When its 75 under the trees when you leave the house, its 86 two miles later at the school, and 92 after twenty minutes hoisting Js, you might be in Charlotte.

If you couldn’t put it in the ocean sitting in a rowboat, there are flashes of light before your eyes, and you just want to do a Donald and make a stupid going-home shot and declare victory, its probably from the heat in Charlotte.

If you can’t make an ‘and one’ free throw in ’21’ after going back to 15 five times, and you’re wimpering because you forgot to bring water, state that its not your responsibility, declare victory and go get a cold one in Charlotte.

If you go 0-for-the day on shots from the corner, say “It was a great day of shooting anyway!” 16 times, and then complain to the bodega guy about the wooden blocks on any other rim with the glass backboard as government overreach, you might blame the heat in Charlotte.

If clanging stuff off the rim makes a REAL racket, and you immediately demand funding to all schools be cut off unless they stop wearing masks, it might be from the heat in Charlotte.

If you can’t make a decent jump shot or free throws because the ball is slippery with sweat running down your arm, just take a bunch of layups, declare 15-footers the work of anarchists, and whine about the humidity in Charlotte.

If the ball richochets off the curbing under the basket, and you haven’t got the energy to run three steps to cut it off and wind up walking halfway across the parking lot to get it, that’s probably from the @#$%&*@! heat in Charlotte.

If you’re shooting from around Juneau, Alaska because your eyes can’t seem to focus good on what wrong or right in the moment, and your Daddy isn’t there to tell you how to cheat it, you might fall victim to the heat in Charlotte.

If there’s nobody around, not even on the playground, to yell to about how much better you usually shoot than anyone you know, that’s probably because most people are smart enough not to be out in such wicked heat in Charlotte.

OH, and because the governor in North Carolina said he wouldn’t allow a no-masks, COVID “Super Spreader” event in Charlotte’s nice indoor, air-conditioned hoops-hockey arena – and thanks for the $50 million deposit – gooooood LUCK to anyone planning on being in Jacksonville’s OUTDOOR stadium in AUGUST. They say politics can be ugly, but if 25 minutes is plenty in Charlotte heat…

Maintaining ‘lifestyle’ is a worthy goal during Regular Times, too ‘Merica

beauty stad-skyline
Knight’s Stadium in downtown Charlotte, NC has big city ambiance, and civic jewel Romare Bearden Park the other side of right field fence. Pro sports are facing challenges of gearing up, but good thoughts for your Fourth ‘Merica.

Exchanging FB messages with a favorite cousin, we concur that, whatever is going on in lots of places at this point in time, we’re still not severely cut off from all civilized pursuits, our lifestyles, as it were. Confederate statuary be danged, that “When you’ve got your health…” stuff comes up on both our attitude-radar regularly.

Frank is retired, would probably be spending the summer in Minn. if not for all that’s transpired. My brother Mike and I have been in-place since just before the official start in late March, and having lived together off-on during long stretches of life before, we’re doing pretty good on staying relaxed. I’ve got an office at one end of house, he winds up using the kitchen table. Yes, there’s been too much TV watching, the dogs demand regular petting, and they follow my every move in the kitchen.

I was essentially a remote worker the last year, so COVID-19 didn’t have a major effect on my daily timing. Knowing this week will be a scorcher, I expect bike rides will be earlier vs. in energy-sucking humidity of Charlotte afternoons. Brother Steve asked Mike for a lift back from here while riding yesterday – I shot hoops earlier this morning, had early lunch and being blog productive all afternoon.

Time on task

Sometimes it really does feel like vacation, and what needs to be accomplished in any 2-3 hour window might be vague. Missing a blog is most often a lack of discipline, but also a signal that’s reminded  you throughout life about attitude affecting outcome. You let it slide, it becomes a negative.

Every time I leave mid-program, after any too long escape from screen/keyboard or food-making, I give myself an attaboy! Artificial Intelligence (AI) might be able to turn ‘it’ on-off in the future, but only being in the saddle actually gets results in 2020. Period.

Having opinions about BLM, face masks, and when stimulus checks show up? are kind of in the personal mix, but really, only getting the dialogue written for my creative stuff with wattpad, or making sure an RFP hits the clients criteria described on Indeed, thats a ‘more is better’ situation. Discipline is always the deal.

Sports – Who knew we’d do okay without…?

  • Charlotte has Carolina Panthers football, Hornets basketball (23-42, 10th in East, out of any restart) and Triple A hockey Checkers (2018-19 champs, 34-22-5, tied for 3rd in Atlantic Division), and Panthers owner David Tepper pushed through his purchase of an MLS soccer franchise ($300M worth) that doesn’t have an official name yet.
  • It’s doubtful any of these will be putting fannies in the seats in the near future. After two train-wreck seasons, the Panthers return is certainly the most anticipated. The retirement of beloved Luke Kuechly, the amazing goodness of Christian McCaffrey’s rarely achieved 1000-1000 yard productivity, an exciting new coach (Matt Ruhle), a necessary all defensive (7 picks) draft, and the arrival of QB Teddy Bridgewater from New Orleans, and offensive coordinator Joe Brady from national champion LSU are all positives. 
  • According to CBS Sports, the big sendup for Major League Baseball will be the Yankees and reigning World Series champs the Washington Nationals on July 23rd. That will be the focus game, with the rest of whatever season they figured out starting the next day. Could be Max Scherzer or Stephen Strasberg for the Nats, Yanks battered 306 HRs last year (and the Twinkies-no-more had one more).
  • I got my motorsports ya-yas out years ago, with a couple Formula I races in Watkins Glen and Montreal, and satisfied any NASCAR yearnings with a 300 miler in Charlotte that took almost seven hours, with wrecks and rain delays. I was in a hospitality suite, so food, drink, staying dry was all good, with a great view of everyone pulling into the pits without the various fumes.
  • Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick were at the top in Pocono 350, Harvick leads the standings with 581 pts. (3 wins, 8-Top 5s), Hamlin is 4th, with 506 pts. (4 wins, 9-Top 5s). You figure it out.
  • Dustin Johnson’s -19 took the Travelers Tournament, Kevin Streelman was 2nd at -18, and because he was one of the ‘names’ in tournament, Phil Mickelson was T-24th at -11, Sergio was T-32nd at -10. Webb Simpson leads the FedEx standings with 1,583 points (7 tournaments), Justin Thomas (1,543 in 11 events), Rory McIlroy (1,270 in 9 outings) is 4th.
  • Formula I is a whole ‘nother deal than just going left, and if you’ve had the opportunity to samba in the streets with Brazilians, you have partied with the best. Having no crowds trackside, those sports mean very little. The golfers don’t seem to mind any lack of  crowd ‘juice,’ and its probably easier to keep your mind on doing what most think of as free money, hardly a real job.

For those who wondered, former Panther Cam Newton has landed in New England as their probable #1 QB, since 42-year old Tom Brady has left for Tampa Bay.

Bombshell good news – ‘The Comeback Trail’

While doing our first furniture pickup for a shelter supply ministry since February, our four-man crew moved a large table downstairs for a lady’s neighbor, receiving 300mg. vials of prime CBD (hempseed oil) for the effort. Having been a content creation person for a manufacturer last year, I appreciate the quality of it, much better on anxiety levels with .5 of a dropper several times a day, compared to the $2.49 version (wine) from Aldi.

good timesdave-michStill, beyond just knowing everyone is safe – including Mom, even if they had a breach at her senior community on 17th – and Favorite Nephew and wife arriving in other corner of country, getting really GOOD news is a slice of Life that works wonders.

Family counts plenty under circumstances like whats out there, with 40 million in some stage of unemployed, and not many you can have a beer with.

 

That came with a note on FB about a movie my “fifth brother,” David Ornston worked, and his getting a producer credit for comedy ‘The Comeback Trail,’ starring Robert DeNiro, Tommy Lee Jones, Morgan Freeman, and Zach Braff.

It’s not “Jenny from the Block” or “Straight Outta Compton” huge, and for most its just info you’d look for at the beginning or end of the film. As a bro thing, when an important part of your life involves getting a bunch of stars on the same project like ‘Comeback,’ that’s a good professional result, worth an attaboy.

Right now I’ve got RFPs for remote work out, I’d like to try some outdoor brew pub entertainment three blocks away, will keep an eye out for that elusive stimulus check, continue a healthy amount of activity including my good-looking jump shot, and edit another chapter of Platinum Fury.’ y’know?

Time on task man. And please wear your mask.

 

 

 

Sports is the American way, we love winners, believe in fairness

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If there’s a game with more macho to it, someone is going to have to show me.

After wasting essentially three hours on FB on an overcast-rainy Wednesday (right? I’m not always 100% on days now, anyone else feeling fuzzy on that?), I’ve purged enough of my angst about political buffonery to write a legitimate blog.

Having planned on doing something ‘sporty-ish,’ my initial observation is that, lacking any juice from crowd excitement for the NASCAR and golf I peeked at, its less interesting than some of the (repeats of) NCAA action in baseball, football, lacrosse, and hoops I’d seen years ago. Of course, showing finals, or YUGE! upsets is part of that.

Duke (6-0) was #1 early in the 2019-20 season, and while they were a good looking pick in the NCAAs – where losing one is Death – coming up short to the Lumberjacks after 150 straight Ws at home versus non-conference teams was avoidable. If you saw it, SFA earned that  85-83 win by crushing the Blue Devils 36-27 on FGs, barely being outshot on 3-pointers (2-10, 5-15) and shot 11-17 FTs, but Duke made only 24 of *40* from the line, which will bite you just about any time.

When you lose like that, everyone has to do some unpleasant navel-gazing. Notre Dame beat Navy 43 years in a row (football), and you’d think beating on your little brother wouldn’t be any kind of thrill after that long. But, ask long-time powerhouse Nebraska how it feels when all those teams they pulverized in the Big 12 rejoiced when THEY finally won, or seeing the Huskers get their heads handed to them since they moved to the Big 10 (14 teams now, funky B1G logo).

Navy’s win against Notre Dame had to be better than sex – nobody’s father or grandfather ever got it while playing there.

UCLA (men’s basketball) beat California 52 times in a row, meaning our place *and YOUR’S* 26 straight years, and a common quote by ‘overdogs’ at times like that is, “I knew it would end at some point, it just sucks to be on the team when such strings end.”

Penn State (women’s volleyball) won 109 matches and four NCAA titles in a row  through 2010, and the UConn women’s hoops 111 games (plus four consecutive championships, two during the streak) in a row. The NCAA record for consecutive match wins is held by the UMiami men’s tennis, with 137 straight from 1957-64.

Minor political comment – THAT is what actual WINNING looks like.

The other side of the coin

How one ranks a DISASTER is often relative: When the British retreated from Kabul in Afghanistan (1st Anglo-Afghan War, 1839-1842) in January ’42, almost the entire British-Sikh force (750 British, 3800 Indian troops, 12,000 “camp followers” – families, not fans)  was slaughtered in Khyber Pass, “disaster” is *very* legit. In a fairly strong comeback, two British armies returned to crush the Afghans in Kabul in August, 1842.

The NY Giants beating New England 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII, when the 18-0 Pats were looking to become the second undefeated champions, that’s a loss, not disaster.

Super Bowl 51 – Atlanta (omg!) versus New England

Along with the annual NCAA hoops orgy, Super Bowl wins and losses determine who is held high (or regarded otherwise). For anyone who watched it, the Falcons seemed like they were poised to topple the Patriots dynasty after an eight play-85 yard drive early in the 3rd quarter gave them a 28-3 lead, 28-9 after three quarters.

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“A game that made grown men cry”is how its usually remembered, and Ryan, who had a 4,944 yard/38 TD Most Valuable Player season and a 17/23, 2 TD Super Bowl, has barely gotten the taste of ashes out of his mouth since.

You simply don’t forget losing a championship like that.

Choke? Well, there’s not a lot of ways to make losing in overtime acceptable when you’ve owned a team so totally most of the game. In the fourth quarter, a great tippped ball reception by Julian Edelman kept a Patriot drive alive, a sack-fumble against Falcon QB Matt Ryan led to a touchdown, and a unreal 43/62 for 466 yards and two TD day by future first ballot Hall of Famer Tom Brady hung a 34-28 overtime loss on Atlanta instead.

The Worst – Georgia Tech pulverizes Cumberland 222-0

At a time where air-raid passing attacks in college football can score six-to-ten touchdowns with ease, and running up the score isn’t favored, knowing how this 1916 pasting came about should earn anyone a beer.

Cumberland had actually discontinued its football program before the season, but they weren’t allowed to cancel. Tech coach John Heisman (yes, that Heisman), whose baseball team had been thumped by Cumberland 22-0 that year – possibly while using ‘ringers’ – had actually offered the Tennessee college $500 to play or face having to pay $3,000 as the guarantee for the game.

Cumberland only brought 12-16 players, Tech scored 63 points in the first and 63 more in the second quarter, held them to -42 yards rushing. Heisman, apparently with his blood lust sated, allowed the 3rd and 4th quarters to be 12 instead of 15 minutes long.

“That’s why we don’t play them on paper”

Having used two personal underdog stories throughout a long sportswriting career, this is still where they belong: An 8-2 win against Ithaca College by my rag-tag bunch of players called the Brockport State Women’s Ice Hockey Club, and a 6-3 semi-final win in the Upstate Rugby Championships by the Schenectady Reds over our arch-rivals (and aggressively un-humble) group, the Albany Knickerbockers.

My hockey team lost to Ithaca on our ice the week earlier 3-1, when IC scored an empty net goal with :02 left. I’d pulled our goalie with a minute to go, and we played textbook hockey, keeping the puck in their end, and getting six shots on goal, until they slid it the length of the ice to score. Terrific effort from a team with five freshman, but an L.

The next week, with only ten skaters, some borrowed equipment (several of them had intramural helmets without cages), only five players with green-gold jerseys and our outstanding goalie (Julie Dufresne) in a purple-yellow LA Kings jersey, four girls scored twice each. The four wet and stinking jerseys I borrowed from the men’s team Friday afternoon, didn’t wash – ooops! – but handed out before the game, that’s an underdog situation. Unforgettable!

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The rugby match was epic. The Reds hadn’t beaten the Knicks in 13 years, since they’d broken off from what had been a powerhouse and become the best team in the Upstate. Utilizing ‘rugby whores’ (give them a jersey, they’ll do what you want) to fill out a ‘B’ side, winning the championship was a hard core defensive effort over two days.

We held the Knicks scoreless until the last play of the game, essentially three straight shutouts, then they made a penalty kick because one of our players punched someone right in front of a referee.

Winning that championship was a two day, hard core defensive effort; holding the Knicks scoreless until the last play of the game was  essentially three straight shutouts.

In overtime, we made two kicks, they missed their second, which is how ties are settled in such tournaments. For anyone who has shaken the hand of someone who doesn’t believe they lost to YOU guys and says, “Too bad it had to get settled that way,” smiling and offering a “Yeah, right” is like winning the lottery. (Okay, maybe finding $10 in a pair of jeans in the dryer.)

I was also on the wrong side of 52-0 whuppin’ in another tournament (Saranac Lake) in 20 instead of 40 minute halves. As a bonus, on the last play of the game, an Old Blue player karate-shopped me in the ear as I attempted a tackle, then slid in for the score.

Ahhhhh, SPORTS! I have no idea how pro baseball, hockey, football and basketball will get things back on seasonal tracks, and I think a brother has sold his Panther seats, so I doubt I’ll see them any time soon, but its the American dream – anybody on any day can be a hero.

  Picture 
Glenn Shorkey – Creative eDitorial Talent Enterprises 
(704) 502-9947

If Dr. Fauci was an umpire, his SAFE! call would be the end of “in place” griping

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Equating Dr. Fauci’s influence in so much relative to this pandemic with the ability I, as an umpire, held sway over decisions that affected how events went forward in the lives of others,  is specious.

Still, while its permissible to gripe about some calls, when the ump says, “This is how it shall be,” well, a lot of  ‘Mericans seem to count that as more factual than Fauci’s forty years of expertise gets him about Next, coronoa-wise.

Before each game, I went to both dugouts to discuss “the high strike” in arc pitch softball, that area at the top of arm but below the shoulder, where the tough calls are. Anybody can call ’em down the pipe, and pointing out the specific area *I* called a strike, my exit line was usually, “But you’re all hitters here, right?” meaning working walks is mehh.

A player I recall saying he didn’t LIKE my strike zone – but I called it consistently – was all anyone should ask for. For those clamoring for “freedom” from the  tyranny of being told not to congregate to improve chances of NOT getting sick, just know that I let a pitcher throw a strike to someone who stepped out of the batters box without asking permission.

‘Outside’ as helpful, not ‘bum rush to’

Umping in a medium pitch league, by the third inning I’d sent enough guys to first that the catcher was catching heat from his pitcher. I told him, again, “Tell your guy he’s this much (thumb-forefinger couple inches) off the plate.” A couple more walks in the fifth, he yells, “Hey ref! I been putting it in the same place all night!” I took one step onto the plate, pointed at him and asked, “Which of us better change what they’re doing then?”

The reality was, that strange motion he had when looking at his catcher for location, was because HE WAS LEGALLY BLIND in his left eye. Talk about flipping a cliche. The point I expected to convey was, straight up, that my opinion was the one that counted.

Frankly, Fauci has done that step up more than a couple times during truth-oriented situations, even with his political boss nearby. In the video conference he did with the Senate this week, he handled Rand Paul admirably – no, he’s not political or the “be all” on answers – but there is forty years of well-regarded expertise.

When Trump said “Maybe there’s nothing in the fall,” he came right to the mike and said, “We WILL have a wave of corona virus in the fall.” IMHO, that’s a definitive call on the second half of a double play grounder.

If anyone, my nephew included, questioned my calls (he did, in a minor league LL volunteer stint), you are two pitches from being struck out.

Umpiring and standing up for ‘right’

There was a girls league in Charlotte where they apparently worked the “run rabbit run!” style. The (obviously) better team would get people on, then, because *you can’t lead or steal until the ball crosses the plate,* they essentially went wild on the catchers throws back to the pitcher.  Inaccurate throws around the infield to stop runners quickly became a cycle of two runs and someone on second.

I see part of the umpire’s job as fairness. Following the catcher to the backstop (she really couldn’t stop much), I told her to call time out. Then throw the ball to the pitcher, after which I said, “Play ball.” After a single inning of that, the A-team manager asked what I was doing, and while I knew I’d never be coming back, letting people run wild and getting mercy-ruled by errors is a humiliating way to lose an un-fun game in three innings, that I could do something about.

Fauci as Umpire:  Check the states “re-opening” and having spikes in their infected rates about un-fun. If Dr. Fauci controls the “we’re gonna go-go-go operation” (I did), makes the call on scientific results (and expertise) vs. going to instant replay or another court case, that’s an ump who hits a righteous standard.

Rules matter

While unprepared, I volunteered to do a charity tournament game wearing topsiders, a tank top, and Ray Bans. Left field was actually unfenced, allowing outfielders to chase foul balls. With runners on 1st and 2nd, left fielder catches a long foul, and throwing to third from an angle, he clongs it off a light tower, it ricochets into center, and two runs score.

After searching for the guy with ground rules, it becomes one base on the throw, so only one run scores. Unfortunately, one person (female) wouldn’t quit “discussing” it, so I finally gave the word: Next yapping I heard, she’d be leaving.

After the game, two large players came over and asked me about singling her out. I explained that I went and found the ground rule and applied it. I had umpired plenty before, I didn’t have to put up with the sh*t, but if I left, the game was going to be in trouble. I wished them good luck and walked away..

An all time favorite was a runner interference call. Runners on 1st and 2nd, one out, with a major pop up to the shortstop. Runner from second was *right* in front of her, she dropped it, girl from first scored off two errant throws.

I couldn’t help myself – I said, “Boy, if that happened to my shortstop, I’d probably want to talk to somebody about it.”

The catcher held her hand up to stop the pitcher, turned to look at me, then walked out, and while talking to the pitcher, pointed back at me. She came back and said she wanted to make an appeal; I asked whether the runner going from 1st-2nd, or 2nd-3rd. She got the answer right, I yelled “runners out!” and both teams changed, with the manager having no idea what happened.

As for one guy cheating up in batters box, knowing the pitcher couldn’t get it in his strike zone with arc AND across (vs. land on) the plate, or, very likely have to give him a pitch he could cream, my job is still ensuring a fair game. I told the catcher, “Throw it any way you want,” which was essentially flat.

Batting box cheats and  people carrying military-style assault rifles while protesting ‘in place’ rule in Michigan, but not in NY is a valid analogy. Why? Because in NY the rule is you empty your pockets into little trays before going through a metal detector in state buildings, and pistols, AR-15s, and grenade launchers DON’T come in the building.

There are things YOU want to do, that might be good for you, but that aren’t fair to others. If it was simply a matter of rights, and it might trim the herd appropriately by doing something uncool like exposing themselves to unseeable but deadly viruses, fine, but the fact is, that behavior might affect me, and that’s not the best way to run a pandemic.

I’m still willing to look for the SAFE! sign from Dr. Fauci instead of listening to the bench saying, “Looked good from here, ump.”

 

Cam, Luke, Greg are gone, will all defense draft be Panther “difference makers?”

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As practically the only “sports event” that went as planned – okay, online instead of with thousands of people attending in Vegas – the NFL distribution of new talent was this past weekend.

Off the top, let’s believe that yes, Coach Ruhle and the Panthers might have done what’s necessary to right the Carolina franchise over a three day weekend. Nobody else in the common draft era (since 1967) has used all their picks on that side of the ball, but there’s not a feeling they’ve blown it, or taken any great risks.

That All-American defensive tackle Derrick Brown will play immediately is almost a given. Panthers were the worst (5.2 per rush) against the run last year, and with Dontari Poe gone, he’ll have every chance to prove he’s The Deal. So will  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), and Bravvion Roy, a 330 lb. chunk of DT who played for Rhule last year at Baylor.

Some pundits, including this one, have suggested that an offensive lineman at #7 instead of CB Stantley Thomas-Oliver (Fla. Int’l) would have been legitimate, but GM Marty Hurney and Rhule both maintain they held to their draft boards, For Panther fans who still worry about Christian McCaffrey getting worn out (only if the carries that $21.4M signing bonus around), the other three running backs on the roster, including Reggie Bonafon, are no better than average.

As many note, nobody plays game until September (if then), so changes on the O-line and somebody who can catch a swing pass or two while CMC gets a cup of water can still work out.

If we’re being catty, the Panthers might have improved just by letting Eric Washington go. He was defensive coordinator the last two years, when they clearly couldn’t stop anyone, and rejoins Sean McDermott in Buffalo as defensive line coach, the position he held for six years with the Panthers.

New guys with backstory ‘blemishes’

During the long reign of Mr. Richardson as owner, the question of personal character was often a criteria, with Greg Hardy being suspended and shipped after allegations of physically abusing a girlfriend as an example.

While Tim Biakabutuka (6 seasons, 611 carries/2,530 yds./17 TDs) was a better choice of character than the collegiately productive Mike Rozier in the draft, a Christian McCaffrey’s dazzling goodness that makes you want a chocolate chip cookie and glass of milk just watching him, isn’t available every year.

Derrick Brown is such a leader and quality citizen by all metrics, and #3 pick Jeremy Chinn is often referred  in favorable terms as “Simmons Lite” (Clemson’s versatile safety-linebacker Isiah) size and speed, but a couple new faces have overcome youthful transgressions admirably.

Give Chinn an extra check mark for being a three-time Academic All-American, Brown one for becoming president of Auburn’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and SEC leadership council after deciding to return to Auburn for his senior season.

#2 Yetur Gross-Matos was a consensus All-Big 10 (or 16, actually) in 2019, with 40 tackles, 15 for loss, and 9.5 sacks, compared to 54 tackles, 20 for loss, and eight sacks in 2018, which looks like teams didn’t run to his side as much last year.

The “blemish” is he and a Penn St. teammate were suspended for disciplinary (but still undisclosed) reasons the summer before his junior season, and in today’s reality, if it didn’t even generate a police report, “live and learn” seems to work. His physical up-side and football IQ aren’t in question, “whatever” from 2018 should be allowed to die quietly.

#5 Kenny Robinson was cut loose by West Virginia for “academic fraud,” and had a good year in the XFL instead of a senior season, which seems a trade-off both he and the Panthers can view as a positive. Recognizing that safety was a sore spot for Panthers the last two years, although Eric Reid was a solid pickup last year (and has moved on), careful vetting and his own written explanation of events should help close that factor as a negative once the pads go on.

That’s not meant as a dusting of hands “boys will be boys” attitude, but in the history of the WORLD,  twenty year old boys are more often guilty of “uh-oh, Mom and Dad are going to be upset about this” acts than becoming Alexander the Great world beaters.

#4 Troy Pride, Jr. shouldn’t be considered “blemished,” especially when the Notre Dame product feels he didn’t fall so much as land where he’d be able to succeed. Pride has what is always called “elite speed” based on his track background. In hoops they say, “You can’t teach seven feet tall,” and in football, saying someone runs well is the criteria, and 4.3 is valid on that count. For those that say “burners who can’t catch play D,” or track guys can’t tackle, we shall see – Deion Sanders had a pretty good run.

Speaking of running, at some point Pride and Donte “Action” Jackson will have to lace it up and go. Jackson came to the Panthers saying, “I’ve always been the fastest guy as soon as I got out of bed,” and while he’s definitely got the make-up for mistakes afterburners, he often made tackles after the catch. Coaching will help Pride work on any small deficiencies he might have, and he’s got a professional attitude about his Next.

Ahhh! competition comes later, but right now, the Panthers draft looks like a hand of Texas hold ’em – any two cards can be good until you see the flop.

If WR Robby Anderson chose the Panthers as a free agent because of Coach Rhule, and Teddy Bridgewater can distribute the ball, and puh-leeze throw lead and touch pass like the departed Kyle Allen gave Moore (87 catches/1175 yds./4 TDs as a rookie), all these new defensive helpers could indeed be the difference.

 

A rugby – COVID-19 analogy for a lack of sports Wednesday: Gotta make the catch

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Having used the analogy several times over years of writing, the ultimate factor as the receiver of a downfield kick-punt in rugby, a game everyone knows is rough, is you can’t whiff on it or let it go, you HAVE to catch it. That high, hanging up there one especially.

You’ve seen it dozens of times in football, “the bomb squad” guys who pulverize a punt returner who doesn’t wave his arm in a fair catch signal.

Now take out the pads and helmet. And the fair catch signal. Yeah, crunch time, pal.

Well, actually you can TRY fair catching it, by simultaneously catching the ball, digging a heel into the turf, and shouting, “Mark!” but most experienced players will tell you to run even if you do it right, because not everyone knows the rule.

I sure didn’t back in 1981, when I went *through* a guy who invoked it. I learned about it at the keg later, when the guy – who was a referee and certainly did it right – told another guy about running and not everyone knowing the rule.

Part Two of that is being on the receiving end of getting railed, where you can SEE that ball and different colored jersey are going to arrive at the same time. Whether or not you’ve been clobbered at such a moment, that very short moment of impact, your life gets changed.

It’s going to be a problem (challenge? pssshhh!) either way.  If you try to avoid the blast and let the ball bounce, and bing, bang, boom! they score, thats a mark (soft?) you’ll have to carry for a while.

Otherwise, when they peel you off the turf, there are only a couple questions that make any difference. The primary one related to potential concussions is supposed to be “What’s your name?” with the expectation you don’t know that, fuggidaboudit. After taking the abuse, many want to know if their team kept the ball.

If you say something about, “But I don’t wanna go to school, Mom!” they put someone else in the game.

The Analogy

Lots of Americans, and people around the world, are “sheltering in place” now, WAITING, as a rugby fullback often does, for the ball to finally get there. Nobody else can make the play, and whether people think differently about you at this specific time, will count on how you handle the opportunity.

We’re not talking about taking the kick all the way back for a score, we’re not talking about the ball bouncing off you, and everyone scrambling while you hopefully have the ability to choose between covering your head or curling in a ball to protect yourself, and will someone PLEASE get that telephone!

It’s absolutely about making the catch. Not doing anything crazy, but nooo, its not going to be easy either way.

Staying in place is making the catch without sweating a different colored jersey in your peripheral vision. There’s no “Whats your name?” factor either. You cannot hurt the team by hanging out around the home work space right now, maybe even have a beer during work hours. 

Need another rugby analogy? So, this THICK, Samoan-looking #8 guy (and yes, the tats are part of it) picks up the ball and comes around the scrum, motoring right at our captain, and from inside center position, I swear I heard him gulp.

Captain sat out the previous season after a broken collarbone, and having this ever-lovin’ chunk of humanity coming full steam ahead, he knew somebody had to stick their head in there and stop that bowling ball.

Which I did, taking him low, because otherwise you bounce off, have no effect. I’ll remind any readers that, in rugby tackling, there’s no roll blocking someones feet,  so a legal tackle involves circling your arms, which means having to put your head in near knees and feet.

Doing whats needed

That’s what “somebody” needed to do about stopping that situation, it didn’t have to be Davey at that point though. We need LOTS of somebodies doing whats needed to get “real life” back any kind of sooner. Like rugby, this COVID-19 isn’t a one shot situation, more like Spring and Fall season. Sports-wise, its going to be more of a marathon-like survival than a win-loss on any scoreboard.

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AME Zion Church during Sanders rally for environment

If I stay in place another couple weeks, doing leadership thought blogs, and working on another book instead of deciding to pack a church next weekend,  that’s making the best choice, given the alternatives. Even here, in the Buckle on the Bible Belt, I don’t believe we’re going to break on what needs to be done even at a holy time on most calendars.

I’m for sure not planning on taking COVID-19 straight up, but I’ll make the catch or right play when its needed. I can certainly feed myself without any problem, my last expedition to neighborhood Aldi, had no problem getting everything I needed to batten down, including a couple bottles of 3-buck chuck. Here’s hoping we can rely on “the other guys” to do their part as well on the best practices front.

And yes, the people working smile when you ask if they’re getting enough props.

A high caliber nurse in this arena offered to make me two masks, which makes me sure its going to be of a quality those brave people wear, ones for my brother. She and a couple others are cranking them out besides doing 24s and a couple 12 hr. shifts a week. I’m doing the bandana and gloves, and hell yes! you take your gloves and whatever garbage with you after shopping or whatever.

  Picture 
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“In my heart, I know it’s the right thing to do” a sentiment Senators could learn from

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It may seem simplistic to juxtapose the essence of what retiring Carolina Panthers linebacker legend Luke Kuechly said, and what will probably be an even less satisfying or happy result in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump in the US Senate, starting Tuesday.

Kuechly was known for extensive film-watching, which made his always being in the right place a source of awe. By most accounts, Republican Senators barely feel the need to review the evidence provided with the House of Representatives impeachment charges. They’ve opined, in the most partisan way, that a trial is a waste of time when they could just as easily vote to acquit now as later, without worrying about clear, voluminous evidence of abuse of power or malfeasance.

In football terms, they will seemingly wander around like they’ve been concussed, even when the ball is snapped to resume play.

Never a doubt they played their honorable best

After suffering several concussions the last couple years that curtailed his time patrolling the middle of the Panthers defense, yes, Luuuuuuke! is taking a route that’s best for his long term health. Whether his numbers – 1,092 tackles, 5-times 1st team All Pro, Defensive Player of the Year (2013) – make him Hall of Fame material will be a matter of debate for others, his place in the hearts of fans is definitely assured.

Long time Panther fans don’t have to look far to see the shadow of Dan Morgan, the U-Miami hitting machine who couldn’t stay on the field during his time with the Panthers.

The 11th overall pick in the 2001 draft, Morgan helped move the Panther ‘D’ from worst in the league to second. Although he was an essential part of their first Super Bowl team in 2003 – Morgan was credited with 18 tackles in the 32-29 loss that became the New England Patriots first Super Bowl win – he was essentially out of football after a fifth concussion in the 2006 opener.

“I mean, I go back to high school, and I remember hitting people and seeing shades of green. You know, that was probably one there.”

That was a 2010 quote in ProCanes.com magazine, and Morgan admits he sometimes faked his way to staying on the field at a time before concussion protocols prevailed.

While Kuechly may not get a statue outside the stadium beside team icon Sam “Keep on Poundin'” Mills, who died from intestinal cancer in 2005, only the best of long life wishes from all who witnessed his ability to search out and stop runners that made him almost unblockable, is legitimate.

Given owner David Tepper and new head coach Matt Ruhle’s attitudes, if “It’s the right thing to do” becomes part of Panthers lore, that will work fine.

The U.S. Senate has the ball now

While it seems almost a foregone conclusion that their oaths to be a jury willing to reach a verdict after careful deliberation – are worthless, our country is seeing this ultimate extra-judicial step for only the third time in its history.

It won’t be of any more use to flay the situation regarding GOP enabling than it was to continuously say how badly the Panthers defense was whipped all year, “but that McCaffrey guy has been outstanding!”

If owner David Tepper ruled the Senate instead of “Moscow Mitch” McConnell, well, Charlotte and the rest of the NFL have already witnessed how decisively bad news can be redirected.

(Me, after just a week of watching and listening to the Senate’s approach to witnesses and  impeachment during a genuine crisis.)

Tepper went after a new head coach – Matt Ruhle, whose 11-3 record in his third season at Baylor was more winning than Trump has produced in a similar period – and offensive ‘genius’ Joe Brady (only 30!) of national champion LSU, winner of the Broyles Award as the #1 assistant coach in the country, as offensive coordinator.

Okay, the problem of being next to last in scoring defense (470 points/29.4 ppg, ahead of only the Miami Dolphins 30.9 ppg) and performing more like a matador (an ole! 143.5 ypg. against the run) can’t actually be fixed until next season, but the spirits of everyone who cares about this particular team have clearly been soothed and uplifted.

Like the NATO leaders who cattily talked about Trump’s politically light-weight status as being up to previous world-class/US standards, we must rely on a change in management and leadership going forward to regain real respect.

If that doesn’t happen over the next few weeks, the country might have to wait until November to make the sort of change the “Vote ’em ALL out!” cry of previous generations was, although 2018 saw some extraordinary progress on that front.

Hey, even the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went from worst to first in 1979, winning the NFC Central and advancing to the NFC Championship in their fourth year (the Panthers did it in their 2nd, with a legendary expansion team 12-4 record). Up until that point, the attitude of Bucs coach John McKay might have been echoed by many thinking outside the impeachment box.

When asked what he thought of his team’s execution in a post-game interview, the colorful McKay quipped:

“I’d be in favor of it.”

 Many would settle for Kuechly’s parting words, “In my heart I know its the right thing to do.” Pay attention U.S. Senate – the world is watching. We’ve got plenty of fond memories of Luuuuuke! here in Charlotte, but we need action from you.

And “Vote ’em ALL out!” is still legit.

 

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The best of thoughts for whatever comes next, Luke Kuechly.