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, isno 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.
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.
As part of that Boomer Generation that turns sixty-four this year (Really? Friday? Huh…), where most haven’t got their retirement funds at millionaire level and ready for that sunsets-and-RV travel-the-country deal, its kind of ‘put up or shut up’ time. For once I concur with Snoop Dogg, “Down the rabbit hole we ALLLL go!” and almost nobody is guaranteed anything.
A Small History for Boomers
The Generation that survived Vietnam, and how that conflict split families across America, death totals every night on the news, that was us. There were REAL protests of 500,000 people at a time, hippies, dads, black/white, well before the miracle of instant communication arose. Civil rights got some air time, and the environment improved because we paid attention to it.
Robert Kennedy, speaking to an almost all Black gathering in Indianapolis as news was finally arriving about the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. is the ballsiest human-political speech I believe I’ll ever see. It was the only time he invoked his own brothers death, and from his heart and guts, he spoke of Truth AND peace, no filters or spin.
Indianapolis was the only major city in America that didn’t explode in violence that night. No sports analogy for that. We Boomers will always own the Moon landing, and EVERYBODY cared about Apollo 13 – saw it again last night – and in Sr. Mary Anthony’s class, we prayed for those guys.
That so many people of every stripe stepped up during the BLM protests, which jives with our collective Boomer regardfor doing ‘right,’ wasn’t this all straightened out back then?
I’m sure there was at least one environmental SuperFund site (thank you GE) in Schenectady, NY. Our journalism program at Linton HS actually followed socio-political news, and Highlights-“you journalism guys,” with our magic yellow hall passes – has been an identity at reunions. Ahhh, Karen Korniak and the majorettes… A bunch of us became the huge wave of journalism majors in post-Watergate times.
SOUTH Vietnam was overrun the spring of my senior year, 1975.
I never regret missing any part of the meat-grinder Vietnam was for my generation. 2020 was supposed to be our 45th reunion, because waiting for a 50th – who knows what could happen to even the Forever Young Generation by then?
Cripes, we thought Tricky Dicky was a menace to democracy! Turns out America has over 150 people in Congress – and a mob of angry white people with truth and rule of law wiped from their collective minds – who did worse than Nixon ever considered doing to the U.S. of A. as a country. Kow-towing to a RUSSIAN like trump? The idea of a Black President actually worked…
America, still a place to try whatever
I started a real estate class the week after 40th reunion, 79 hours of class time, LOTS of studying and taking chapter tests on line that were a very real part of qualifying for State exam, which I passed first time, a good ending to 2015. https://wordpress.com/post/cdtalententerprises.com/968
Coming out of The Great Recession, I went from reunion to first sale in 100 days, but it wasn’t quite the economic turnaround I needed. While I’ve come inside with a couple operations, since 2019, CDTalent Enterprises has provided skills working in collaboration situations.
I’m taking a philosophical mulligan on last year being Year Three of my transition to ‘long-term copywriting resource.’
For everything that’s going on in American politics and healthcare in a pandemic, Vietnam becoming a non-factor made college just part of a regular life – I was part of a two year blind spot that never registered. Whether ‘white privilege’ or just Boomer Lifestyle, a four-year double major (journalism and marketing) away from home, then first job as a road man regional rep ($14,000) for TIME, Inc., with company station wagon, twenty cold calls a day, improving retail displays.
“You’re a pretty good talker, you should be in sales,” was the thinking, and I learned plenty, then quit to move to Tampa and become a poorly-paid freelancer.
Yes, that was road-muscle building time, sports and city-magazine writing was a great entree in early ’80s. Comparatively speaking, there are an incredible array of ways to monetize writing skills and content now, when everyone has a website and blogs, and corporate voice material. “Long-form informational content” is the essential journalism of storytelling.
My mantra about best practices is giving the reader “content worth knowing about, considering and using.” Getting an acknowledgment of information being conveyed is okay – always the point with copywriting – even if it doesn’t entirely convince. I did it for a fire-fighter niche while a realtor – their professional aid response had given me another Christmas with Dad – so giving my best effort counted.
The Miracle on Ice, Al Michaels “Do you believe…!” 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, second month on the job, every Sports Illustrated, TIME, LIFE, and People magazine in my territory sold 95%-plus. That constituted a HUGE, real, shared, cultural event.
I’ve been a WFH (work from home) content writing-long form blogger for over two years, and I don’t fit easily in economic or pandemic vaccination criteria . Except for shooting hoops and greenway bike riding, I’m masked. Yes, pandemic is Job One, and as a Cat 5 person, I will get a shot aaaaany time they tell me its a possibility.
I come to vaccines from the anti-polio sugar cube kids experience, and for smallpox (I think I had chicken pox). My Dad survived polio as a child, his left leg was always thinner, but he (Navy) and three brothers, Donnie (USAF), Howard (USMC), and Harold (Navy) all served their country. My favorite nephew – parents have to love everyone the same, uncles and grandparents are allowed favs – Curtiss, is an Army Captain, wife Stephanie just delivered a baby girl. The Mom is ex-military (USAF), yes, we love our military people. (Smile – you too Malitzia.)
OF COURSE Grandma Donna was there, because especially in these very trying times, FAMILY COUNTS.
Life goes on isn’t political, its lifestyle
Another nephew and wife delivered Trace (Stephen Paul, III) last June, but first appearance in Charlotte (from Boston) was Thanksgiving. Surprisingly, even the hour of socially distanced family, with a little Tin Cup and a take-it-with-you cigar when leaving with a deep-fried bird, was ‘Enough’ to feel right on family. Mom has flowers and her senior community was vaccinated the end of December, good by me.
Life goes on, right? We Boomers learned that from experiences, not all of them good. I’ve had two bicycle crashes during lockdown, the August one with some substantial injuries, from toes to shoulder on right side. In North Carolina-speak, “I was tore up.” I did a couple blogs about it, but at no time was putting bike away part of any solution. I mentioned that in connection with voting at the time, like in keep doing it, not losing it.
In both cases, I recognized that always wearing a helmet saved me from tremendous negatives, same as seat belts and face masks, because I *heard* the thunk of helmet on concrete both times. Having a front wheel torque off and being DOWN in a heartbeat, and then being literally, physically saved from infection by a chance encounter with a PA while doing furniture pickups for a church operation – that sounds like karma coming around in a good way.
As a Boomer, I credit 35 years of regular bike riding as the core of being an active sixty-four. In real estate, we learned you never talked about age or retirement with Boomers. As I mention in a thought leadership piece about nonpandemic healthcare, all I needed during my last visit was blood pressure meds – physically I’m right, extra thanks for the new knee from ACA in late 2017 – Gimp no more!
Boomers were also early adopters of CBD, because good hemp *does* make a difference. While doing several months of content writing and loads of research for a CBD manufacturer, I learned those cannabinoids worked, I even helped convince a Type-A brother to use several after sampling. Yes, from me on focus (JMHO), yes for ‘anxiety’ by many, yes for topical cream doing an amazing job on Mom’s legs, a bit of service we Boomers probably won’t get down the line.
Crisis of Confidence, trying to keep good ‘tude
I self-published a romance novel with bonus money working in retail during the Great Recession. https://www.wattpad.com/story/216172684-cards-consequences-return-of-marlena-the Its true how having actual books in your hands makes an author-writer feel, but compared to my Dad as a kid… The distributor made a Coca Cola wagon for him, he brought iced Cokes around the Watervliet Arsenal, across the street from his home, returning with the amazing amount of $5 a DAY during the Depression, that is truly humbling.
Right now, with full knowledge of what happened in our democracy on January 6th, dammit, I still have to replant my personal flag.
I affirm as an American, Boomer, and content writing professional – whose been there and done that, maybe more than once – that I continue to get better with age, because us Gigger-Boomers are about that, picking up Zoom skills, reviewing keywords with clients, getting that corporate voice deal righteous.
Yes, plenty of opportunity to click on in 2021, even if being 64 on Friday leaves me wondering about what old is, because I still cycle and shoot hoops regularly and don’t groan getting out of bed. One serious thought for Mr. Azar, telling us in U.S. that there reeeallllly isn’t any vaccine sitting around in reserve – how long before that important shot in the arm makes my day as a Category 5 person?
Memorial Day will be 26 years in Charlotte – there might be some parties to get social at by then. Perhaps someplace where few contrary opinions about trump’s departure are the norm again. Wearing masks? We’ll see. That ’70s phrase “Always question authority” isn’t in vogue with COVID-19.
‘Normal’ isn’t what Boomers are about
‘Normal’ isn’t really what Boomers are about though. We jogged, played tennis, drank green stuff from blenders, probably burned a quantity of green stuff not from a blender, cheered for bratty McEnroe, remember the 444 days of the Iranian Hostage Crisis, the kerfuffle of Reagan-Ollie North and guns for contras. My now a Democrat brother railed about “How else could they get guns?” (Answer – not THAT way if Congress didn’t fund it). Lakers-Celtics in the Finals every year, Clinton as President – THAT’S how to move an economy (and yes, Hillary got schtupped) – the millineum and then agony of 9/11 and where the World has devolved to since.
Thirty-five years since Challenger exploded.
I’m good about online collaboration, but also looking forward to seeing a friendly smile from across the room this year. Its not the same to nod at someone as you’re rolling past on the greenway.
Clients still need what I have an endless supply of, words arranged rightly. Gotta add ‘truthfully’ in there too, we can’t overstate that facts are still an essence in the process, not optional extras.
I obviously and truly admire the extreme dedication of news bringers who kept a bright, hot light on trump admistration thuggery, constantly connecting us with facts that counted on this long, long road back to within sight of Real again, The Washington Post people… To think I have similar writing DNA, yeah, that’s ego – like saying Tom Cruise and I both have blue eyes, two arms and legs, and same height. True, but…
Michael Beschloss paused on 11th Hour last night to give Brian Williams a sincere thanks for how he’s handled last four years, steering information consistently, productively, an unimpeachable and comforting resource, an accolade Williams certainly wears well. He knows and owns his singular fumble with Truth, but hey, the Pope wanted him to do the interview. His good humor and humanity works for me – Mom says she raised four gentlemen, and I’ll claim any quality in common like that. Your service and Truth is noted, an honor to stay up late with you, sir.
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
After a shout out to the FDA for allowing emergency use for a second COVID vaccine, I’ll also offer a definite thumbs up to the Re-cyclery here in Charlotte. On a shiny, pre-Christmas, Carolina-blue day in America, I don’t care if my front wheel is orange and the fork red while rest of bike is dark gray, physically getting my 30-year old Miyata back on the road constitutes my ‘essential worker’ for these coming, button-down times.
I am safe this Christmas week, as is Mom at Carmel Hills, and the New York brother expressed no discomfort in getting out from under a legendary 34″ snowfall, while I ride Clyde a couple miles on a cool, just 50-ish afternoon.
After nine months of being hunkered down with brother Mike, we know its just us for Christmas, although we’ll get to visit Mom on Sunday. They only allow one visit a week, and Steve said she talked strong and well in 30-minutes with her yesterday, as Joyful a message we can have and give thanks for this season.
I’ll start the sauce, a killer meat sauce instead of meatballs, for using on my first lasagna-making in a while. Turkey, ham have been good, I think Mike wants lasagna before he starts dieting – he mentioned needing to use current freezer space.
That’s going to be our Reality Christmas 2020, classic lasagna, maybe bump some elbows at church Thursday night, where I’ll be on lot patrol, but mostly watching football, knocking out a blog with a terrific slab of leftover lasagna Friday-Saturday afternoon, but I won’t be traveling.
There can’t be anything ‘more smarter’ for Americans to swallow hard on and change, because what so many on the move from now till New Year’s will statistically become, is part of some serious negatives, even as we hear the first million people have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Brian Williams, Snow day, Campbell’s Soup
At the end of a challenging 2020, that massive, classic snowstorm working its way https://www.cbsnews.com/news/snow-storm-weather-blizzard-northeast-noreaster/ through New England last week didn’t seem to cause much bitchin’ and moanin’. That’s because in Schenectady, NY and beyond, we’ve all lived through similar poundings before. Nothing crazy, no Hugo Chavez accusations, no Flynn reappearing on the radar, just snow, lots of it.
Got just the thing for it, say people with teenagers, or who do this often every year. Doesn’t happen that often, say Charlotteans and others not living in the mountains.
Snow isn’t an unseen COVID-19 virus, its dealing with something known and handled before, like clearing the porch 4-5 times instead of trying to walk the dog.
The highlight to what some might grumble was more bad news was totally offset by Brian Williams at the end of 11th Hour, when he read Dr. Bondy Shay Gibson’s official snow day letter to the Jefferson County School Dist., and saluted every person who makes decisions in favor of family memory making. An official snow day included no remote learning, and making a snowperson as suggestions.
I was moved to send a note to a Campbell’s soup spokesperson who liked my comment about the good-good thinking of every person to make such a declaration in favor of kid-ness. I sure dipped a LOT of grilled cheese sandwiches in Campbells tomato after a couple hours working a shovel, or watching ‘Wild Kingdom.’
Snowstorm memories include $$$
While the saucering and tobogganning and snowman-making from that story were legitimate, our family going to the golf course after church or many a cold night, spending hours going up and down always got better later, after lots of people got it packed down for better speed.
That Dad tossed brother David away from our full toboggan just before a couple college guys t-boned into us is a memory that’s obviously never gone away. College days, where I was one of only two guys who could steer a ‘boggan among Nu Yawk-types brings a smile.
Snow shoveling was the best thing for young muscles and money during all those years, always beginning with Dad – doing his impression of Sgt. Schultz on ‘Hogans Heroes’ – rousting us at 6 a.m. if necessary, to shovel at least a path on 150 feet of driveway so he could go to work.
Whatever else we did for our regular customers, that driveway, sidewalks, and walking into house had to be fully cleared when he returned at five.
Dad telling us to disengage the propeller and TURN OFF the machine before attempting to clear the chute when we finally got a decent sized snowblower, was never less than gospel, but apparently some guys I know didn’t get the same safety talk.
The optimal snowfall was like ten inches of the powder that nor’easter showed up with last week – easy to move out, significant enough to charge a premium. A corner house became a $12 job for a ‘regular,’ those people who knew you’d come.
Driveways were a test of strength to shovel, a definite kick upwards in economics of more-faster when you had the snowblower. If there was ice to be chopped, it was a point of pride to clear a place *real well*. Customer service was prized, and no problem negotiating, but we learned early that “Whatever its worth to you” and relying on kindness wasn’t a good business model.
That the city changed fairly quickly from older, maybe 10-foot concrete street lights to much taller green metal ones, came as a result of piling more plentiful than usual snow on the islands in many streets. That put inquiring youngsters within easy reach of globes, and the possibility of someone sliding off that snow and into the path of a vehicle on a main thoroughfare, or perhaps passing through many neighborhoods, became a factor.
The optimal snowfall was like ten inches of the powder that nor’easter showed up with last week –
easy to move out, significant enough to charge a premium.
The problem isn’t that lots of people just dug in, took that big nor’easter in stride during a challenging 2020. The fact we are going to have a truly terrible winter of death, that goes directly to seeing just how many people in America are on the move, poised to possibly infect or be infected by our closest, most huggable loved ones.
The snow and time of year memories, these will need to suffice this dark winter of extra intense hunkering down.
Its my fondest hope that the single day I sold Christmas trees for a church – our’s didn’t do it for first time in 34 years – and saw all those young families, searching in Chamber of Commerce weather that Saturday after Thanksgiving, if they remember that tree as any part of a great Christmas 2020 together, that’s *still* the good stuff. It was also THE best all-masked, people enjoying talking to others event I could have asked for after eight months. ‘Uplifting’ is the word I’d use.
Beyond the fact that $100 day was within reach during a 14-year olds snow day, circa 1971– compared to $1.65/hr. working at McDonalds at 16 (and who is FICA?), I’m still humbled by the fact my Dad made the princely sum of $5 a DAY during the Depression with his red Coca-Cola wagon, selling beaucoup drinks in the Watervliet Arsenal across the street from his house during the summer. Dad had polio as a kid, always had a smaller left leg, but served in the Navy, and I’m going to use his drink wagon story somewhere in my writing career.
I wonder how many kids like me still roam the streets, willing to put their backs into making their own spending money in this economy?
If all 85 million people on the move this holiday are as absolutely SURE of *nothing* negative happening as I was selling trees…well, they’re not.
Christmas – Of course ‘We want!’
One year, when the folks flew up from Tampa, there was actually enough snow in Charlotte to mostly cover the grass. Mom was thrilled at their first white Christmas in over twenty years, Dad stayed wrapped in a Panther blanket I got him for Christmas and said, “I’m cold, I’m cold.”
That’s also the year I arrived with my date just in time to stop Mom from hacking the meat off a drumstick. Dad was resisting, because he knew it was a tradition for me. Turns out Mom hated me chewing a drumstick since the early days, strange stuff to overhear after almost fifty years.
The two feet of snow, actually Thanksgiving weekend, which I recall coming the year Nebraska and Oklahoma met in a huge football battle, was the start of my mother and Mrs. Kline alternating making dinner for major holidays. I’m still not sure how Mom let us watch it during dinner – with her, dinner on-TV off was almost always the deal.
That I went back to school over semester break in ’77-’78, when it snowed *every*single*day,* and Buffalo eventually sent a VERY long trainload of snow to Charlotte is a little foggy, but the Khohtetec Blizzard, which was supposed to be the worst of the century, never showed up in Rochester.
Hearing it was coming – “Overthree feet and 60+ mph winds, with drifts to 9 feet, you should have three days of groceries” – set off panic buying in Wegman’s, people with carts front and behind. You get that kind of reaction in Charlotte for the THREAT of snow.
We brought more beers, bread, and burger meat in the last hour before that was supposed to hit, but those high winds blew the entire lake effect snow belt significantly north, clobbering Oswego. We had a great party after work called to tell me stay home, nobody was going to be moving.
The Khohtetec reference was a comet that came by around then, one particular cult thought it was their ‘ship’ to elsewhere, and like 26 people killed themselves when it didn’t mean a pickup for them.
Lessons learned in 2020?
Those comet-people and Jonestown used to be the standard for well, stupidity, for us Boomers. For any bloggers and/or trolls, accusing someone of “drinking the koo-laid” is a reference to about 960 people drinking cyanide-laced kool-aid in a mass suicide for a churchy-type ego-maniac name of Jim Jones.
Way back, way-way crazy, but compared to trumpies unwilling to mask-up when all applicable metrics are pinned in the red of overload, getting together enmasse and in close quarters? With the Spanish Flu pandemic of 100 years ago as a graphic case history? Wear a mask or die? Hmmm…
The dinosaurs didn’t die from stupidity, like continuing to smoke three packs a day – they didn’t have a choice about an asteroid that kicked up massive planetary dust, etcetra. A house-sized asteroid missed us around election time, just a 400-mile miss across the vastness of space, but staying hunkered down during a pandemic, that’s a smart, even if not happy, choice.
Dr. Fauci got out the word that he made sure Santa Claus got the vaccine.If that’s the best-reasoned lie I hear from anyone in trump’s realm of nutso about *everything,* we thankfully didn’t have to rely on any 2020 public relations from those lacking that humanity gene.
If you think, “It could be worse” while shoveling out from a nor-easter, people will share your estimation if they got extorted on the price for milk and bread at the only store they could reach back in the Blizzard of ’77, which was more a blizzard that just kept coming. Like hitting 100 degrees here in Charlotte, taking weather in stride is part of what makes us strong, and its hard to imagine worse for the thousands who lost all to rampaging fires out west, AND had to deal with COVID-19 and unemployment.
Okay, there’s something to be said for the smarts and survival instincts of the many State Dept. personnel who skipped Mr. Pompeo’s Christmas gathering. 900 invited, a couple dozen attended, that’s a lot of speaking with your feet. I’ve heard he and the wifey know how to entertain well, especially when somebody’s tax dollars are footing the bill.
With safety (maybe some luck), Christmas again in 2021
Christmas only comes once a year, but if you’re lucky, it comes again the next year is a lesson I hold dearly.
It wasn’t the same year as snow, but Dad wasn’t doing well (congestive heart), walking around at 5:30 am, my nephews were up, nurse friend they called said if Grandpa didn’t look good, call the paramedics. They came and packed Dad up; he spent three days in a hospital. Years later, when I was a realtor, as a more solid ‘Thank you’ than stopping by #14- Cotswold periodically, I served two fire stations my great spaghetti sauce and meatballs once a month for three months (to get all the shifts).
If once is Good, twice is Better, three times you’ve accomplished something, but those guys doing whatever meant that Christmas and another in 2012 with Dad, that’s all the motivation anyone should need. I saw paramedics work on a marginal homeless patient while doing an overnight for Room in the Inn – 20 full minutes in the truck, almost 3 a.m. – and she didn’t make it. It should be impossible not to think of protecting our loved ones to the max – and NOT hugging them now actually counts.
“It ain’t over till its over” is a well-honored athletic point of fact, and given the puke-worthy level of self-serving bastardization of prez power, meant for the righting of certain situations, but which trump has slopped around on a day to day basis, don’t expect relief until 12:01 on January 20, 2021.
Democracy took a whack with all this horses**t lawyering by GOP to invalidate 10 million votes, but both bike and the greater body politic are still sound vehicles, even if they’re being driven with a bit more caution.
The snow thing, we got that.
– Me. December, 2020.
I appreciate how smoothly my bike handles, it *feels* like a new bike, although I do go across bridges MUCH more carefully now. Safety comes more naturally when you’ve taken some bad injuries, but even “getting tore up” in August crash, if a ventilator becomes a reality, it won’t be because I sucked in the wrong air, traveling with millions of others. Amen.
Having thought about it for a while, the actual action required for doing some small part in helping clean my environment meant bringing a glove and bag on walks counted the most. Thankfully there are no Marco Rubio’s around to critique the methodology of crushing them to fit more in the bag, how soon they might be placed in a donation bin, or that shoveling leaves out of the gutter around drains could’ve been considered instead.
Seeing discarded cans day after day, wondering why someone felt leaving garbage around instead of putting them in a barrel was okay, was it relevant to my success as a content creation-writer? Did it improve my client relations ability, or add anything solid to my professional-economic bottom line? Highly doubtful, and if people two blocks away didn’t care what they saw, why should I as a citizen do anything about it?
NIMBY – Not In My Back Yard (If its not there, its not my problem) wouldn’t be a new attitude in the current Bigger Picture socially. Still, in a smaller way than a President-elect can do to change how this country does things, every person doing ‘positives’ – like mail in ballots – makes a difference.
Writing a thought leadership piece won’t create the dancing in the streets joy trump’s loss, in combination with two effective vaccines success did, but hell yeah, I can pick up cans while getting the dog his constitutional.
Day One was pre-Thanksgiving, pitch perfect
Tuesday, right after the GSA final certification, Biden presented ‘his people,’ the ones he’s willing to sink or swim with, picked for their qualifications vs. financial donations. That he followed up his presentation of trust in their CREDIBILITY by allowing them to talk about what the roles they expected to play actually meant to them, what a thinking, positive process in comparison to the aggressive negativity of trump. https://www.nationalreview.com/news/biden-cabinet-clinton-administration/
Everyone will have opinions about Biden’s early selections, and filling out his administration more completely is going to be a process. That the stock market crested over 30,000 – and trump was willing to take credit for it – is a fact far from campaign rhetoric about coming disaster. Even if he considered it a conspiracy against him, like the vaccine announcements post-election, take a look at what steady on the wheel looks like ‘Merica.
30,000 still isn’t The Economy, just a fact far from campaign rhetoric about coming disaster.
Picking up different brands or sizes of beer cans, soda cans, or Red Bulls isn’t really diversity, more like ‘low hanging fruit.’ As noted in all articles about Biden’s first batch of nominations, his people cover the cultural spectrum and are dedicated public servants with loads of experience.
Several are from families with unique backgrounds: UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield is a 35-year veteran of the State Department; Anthony Blinken‘s (Secretary of State) father was a Holocaust survivor who only knew three words of English – God bless America – when he was picked up by troops at the end of WWII. With due respect to Jean Haspel moving up to CIA Director under trump, Avril Haines is the first Woman to lead the intelligence community as DNI (Director National Intelligence), and since everyone is counting, a Latina.
Repurposed, not Recycled
Its absolutely true that aluminum cans save 90% of the energy necessary to make new ones. Mining bauxite is destructive to the environment and requires twice the energy as making new plastic. Whatever else you put into recycling bins doesn’t pay for itself – only cans do.
Many of the people Biden chose are long time workers within the Federal system, people he’s known and worked successfully with, are relevant expert resources that deserved to be utilized. Janet Yellen (Treasury) has significant weight as former head of the Federal Reserve, and sound economics are going to be a priority when the national debt ($23.3 trillion as of February, 2020) ballooned hugely this year because of needs brought on by the COVID crisis.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry (2013-2017), a decorated Vietnam veteran and later anti-war activist and Presidential candidate (2004) might be a “rich white guy” to the max, but as the leader for a newly created Climate position, no one else has the gravatis with world leaders that will benefit US interests.
Recycled doesn’t make them ‘cronies,’ tired warhorses, or the grifter-level payoffs to unqualified contributors and loyalists trump stacked his administation with. Some impune it as what Obama should have, or Clinton would have hads, but repurposing proven assets seems a reasonable resurrection.
Not about bottles, chip bags (or progressives)
While the dog (CharlieToo) appreciates the opportunity to sniff things outside his own yard, he’s a little impatient waiting for can collection and stomping them flat so more fit along the way. Some nerve on that. I admit that I’m not cleaning up other stuff – glass quart beer bottles, chip bags, empty blunt wrappers, McDonalds cups, a soggy shirt – just doing my little part along the way.
There is opportunity for others, no doubt, pitching in cans with “think global, act local” still works. Don’t sweat Biden and ‘progressives,’ consider the anticipation of U.S. rejoining the world community.
Saw my first naysayer about Biden’s choices on TV – and for sake of accuracy, a young Black Woman – is already outraged that MORE PROGRESSIVES weren’t included. C’MON PEOPLE! He picked a *diverse* and VERY experienced group. Bernie’s role is essentially holding the Senate, although his and Warren’s input should be considerable. It’s doubtful Jim Clyburn of South Carolina expects a role in the Administration, and HE is someone who should get whatever he wants in a theoretical Christmas stocking.
Look at Biden’s picks, and yes, many are people he’s worked with even before the Obama years, and he trusts them – has anyone used that word around the current White House administration? What tells more about Biden is *not* how beholden he’ll be to some groups that think DEMANDING specific picks they 100% agree with is the price for their voting. That’s not governing, that’s paying off, and luckily Joe’s plans are still the opposite of putting people with the same last name as him in top roles, right?
This first batch, which shows he’s going to make sure he’s got people who know the job and *just maybe* can make it through any confirmation hearings without Repubs trying to blow them up, is 100% legitimate. There were *never* going to be ‘progressives’ any closer to White House than that barrier around it, so have faith all ye who want to start popping off about getting what you think is Totally Righteous as payback.
No, I’m not cleaning up the whole neighborhood’s crap, just cans, although I did shovel out four drains worth of pine needles and leaves before expected rain started last night. People should hang loose on the idea of how ‘progress’ has to look or be labeled.
Fundamentally better than ‘before’
Yeah, the dog agrees with me about better all the way around. He’s excited about walks every time – you can see the change in his eyes when he thinks its time to go – saying “walkies” makes the ears go up. Compared to trump et al being stupid-slack about COVID and just being lumps in the White House living area-administration, his bouncing off the front door to show his energy levels is easy to smile about.
It’s useless at this point to recall how ugly the administration’s hoof-prints are environmentally, those bigger and badder swamp monsters who were, with unfailing consistency, former industry schlockmasters and destroyers who pulverized every arena possible.
They’ll never be concerned about picking up cans or filtering the micro-plastics out of what survives in our oceans, not when global warming has laid bare the usual hurdles, turned Artic drilling leases into a turkey shoot, still trying to hustle rigs into existence even during the last days of trump’s environmental slash and burn antics.
Honestly, I haven’t got the range to deter those SOBs, but while gathering up even that 12-pack of Bud Light cans is a move in the right direction, having John Kerry involved puts a sense of gravatis to a newly created role for the renewed U.S. leadership in this all-important time.
No tweets about it
I’m working under the radar for sure on cans. I heard trump blathering away about election fraud Sunday morning while heading out for a walk, and beyond not carrying a phone every time and place, I’m not on his radar either way. He won’t be sending any attaboys! for not masking up while I walk or pick up. Having a writers imagination, I can figure out what stupid and outrageous bloviating he might have done on FOX (without promoting it further myself).
I’ll stick with the sense of calm I got from Biden’s broadcast the day before Thanksgiving, Day Two of picking up cans. One continuous message, sanely presented, and no need to respond per se, just nod in agreement.
But I am picking up those cans, and yes, I was grateful for how well Thanksgiving went, even met new great-nephew Trace (Stephen Paul, III). As Joe cautioned, we all kept contact under control, he even gave minor thanks for whatever sacrifices we might make by not traveling to see loved ones, his acknowledging the difficulty of not putting our elders at risk in any way with the usual hugging of everyone.
More obvious changes over time
Like those runoffs in GA for control of the Senate, it won’t matter how many votes are enough until the final tallies are done. Because some ‘kids’ will leave another 12-pack of Modelo or Bud Light cans scattered for periodic pickup, there’s not going to be an obvious change around here. I’m NOT an ‘enabler’ because I pick up cans, and on a bottom line, elections have consequences. This country is looking forward to great changes for AMERICA, not just one tribe of any specific kind.
The January 6th runoffs will not be any less wild a political mess than we’ve witnessed with trump et al’s denial of what is Big Picture of who is in and who’s OUT, which is obvious at the national level. That said, January 20th could become a incredible kind of day on a wide front, including climate change and the environment.
It’s about two good causes
I’ll bury the lead a little, but after picking them up, I’m also turning bags of cans in at Fire Station #3 on the other side of street and over two blocks from my house. My first goal is 100 cans to help their cause, filling a rolling cage to donate for burn victims.
A couple years ago I did spaghetti-meatball dinners for two fire stations for three months, so I hit all the shifts. It was extra thanks because I got another Christmas with my Dad when they got him packed up and taken to a hospital in 2011. Anything you do three times usually makes more of an impact than one-offs, but not it the case of saving someone’s Dad. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2018/11/25/yes-america-its-that-simple/
We can do more than pick up cans, and wearing masks to show we care about others, that’s a minimum ask from all.
Bernie for Labor Secretary? I’d have said Hell yeah! but the Reality is, he’s much more valuable in the Senate, same as Warren.
It’s not more “Wait your turn progressives” or “We OWE you coalition people” time – voting was because saving the *country* was important, right? Biden and Kamala are aware of the coalititon that made the difference, and dammit! if you want immediate gratification by being two of the first eight posts, that’s a bit immature on process or Reality. Read the bios of those people – they are clearly THAT GOOD.
FYI -Just because I’m picking up cans doesn’t mean you should leave your old masks lying around neither.
Beyond the dancing in the streets that was seen alllll over the world after the US elections, just maybe there should be some thoughtful extra nods sent over dinner for Asteroid 2020 VT4, which passed Earth a mere 400 miles over the Pacific last week. It came from the Sun-ward side, which is apparently why nobody appears to have raised the alarms about seeing it coming.
While South Dakota governor Kristi Noem might have been relieved about it lifting the burdens of trying to repair her COVID ravaged state, I have no idea how big a blast hole a house-sized asteroid makes, so I’ll go with thinking it was a warning shot and buy a frozen turkey today. We’re not expecting to be together for the holiday, but brother Steve will deep fry it, maybe socially distancing with a cigar and a little bourbon while waiting, to maintain a tradition we’ve had for the last ten years.
That MILLIONS are still on the move for Thanksgiving is as good a snapshot of why over 12 million have been infected, a perfect “chicken or the egg” argument. People want to see grandkids or be together “one more time” just in case, when the actual being there is probably going to cause an already out of control pandemic to hit whatever gear comes after ‘overdrive.’
If innocents would somehow be spared the negatives, it would’ve been worth the extra bead-work to have it land directly on trump
As a content creation writer, its still a stretch to have a lighter touch regarding the negatives in the USA at this current moment. If you want the Life SUCKS! outlook, you can find 1200 words in that direction anywhere, but looking forward to 2021 doesn’t make anyone a bad person. A lot of ‘Merica is ticked about the delay in transition because of crackpottery and legal wrangling that threatens the safety and very roots of our democracy, but hey, no asteroid, a turkey leg and cranberry sauce, some beers and enough football, being a day closer is a positive, y’know?
Beads, as in prayer
For what its worth, the rosary pictured was my Grandfather Shorkey’s, who was a WWI ‘doughboy’ in 1918, although he was kept in Greenville, SC during his service time. The carry pouch also had a small page of questions to ask wounded-dying soldiers about conversion to the Catholic faith.
Its been said many, many times that there are no atheists in foxholes, and knowing to any extent the ugliness of that conflict’s trench warfare, I’d bet more than a few said yes along the way, just so a well-meaning soldier wouldn’t leave them to die alone.
That said, I’m equally certain a large number of the 250,000-plus Americans who have died essentially alone during the COVID-19 pandemic would have liked the chance to have any kind of last contact with a human being before passing on.
In 2020, it turns out we often had to go with FAITH instead of trips to the physical churches, because having hundreds of worshippers singing and not being socially distanced created a breeding ground for that COVID virus.
You don’t have to dig too deep to recognize that a President Biden will feel, and hope to assuage, this country’s collective pain as much as a WWI soldier would for a dying comrade. Certainly more than trump, who mostly wants credit for the vaccine Pfizer and Moderna – who were NOT part of the governments Operation WarpSpeed – and his enablers ever will.
As they often say in the Carolinas, “Not to be ugly about that,” more hallejuah! for the knowledge of a couple 95% effective vaccines being available in the near future. That I haven’t personally lost anyone that way, yes, a prayer can’t hurt, some focused gratitude is fine any time.
More outside time in Charlotte
Living in Charlotte, “The Buckle on the Bible Belt,” for 26 years, its also easy to look at all the fires out west (5 million acres of Washington, Oregon, California) and the stream of hurricanes that have landed in the Gulf Coast region (seven) and offer an un-sad “Thank you God, it wasn’t us.” HUGO (1989, 67 dead, $11 billion damage) is still remembered here, there were six hurricanes last year, but two named hurricanes in 2018, while wet, weren’t epic disasters like 2005’s Katrina (1,800 dead, $125 billion in damage) in New Orleans.
I watched college football and barbecued under clear blue skies during the second one; Steve’s man cave is open aired, and our Fall weather has been terrific.
Whether having over 1,200 churches in town makes a difference nobody can say, but compared to spending five days of the coldest February EVER the last time I drove to upstate NY, I wouldn’t trade our weather here for anybody’s. Well, maybe Hawai’i, and growing up a Yankee (which is still a term used frequently in these parts), I recall promising I’d *never* say it was too cold if nothing fell off while delivering my paper route in -60 wind chill.
Hey, no asteroid, a turkey leg and cranberry sauce, some beers and enough football, we’ll be a day closer to 2021, y’know?
Beyond the voting chicanery
The WORLD is watching how this country handles being a powerful leader laid low in so many ways. Political animus was an overwhelming fact even before the additon of over 12 million citizens infected, a blown up economy, the shockingly brutal battle between factual Truth, constant misinformation, and administrative malfeasance that left each piece of the once UNITED States of America to fend for itself.
Thanksgiving is uniquely OUR holiday though, and it goes beyond what’s on the table, family from afar arriving (fingers crossed) safely, or the approach of other seasonal holidays and the end of another calendar year, a traditional marker that we’ve collectively cherished.
For the 150 million plus Americans who voted for change this year (well, 80 million anyway), there’s still an element of fear in how the process works out. President Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” and Franklin Roosevelt put a pin in the Great Depression with his, “The only thing we have to fear is, fear itself.”
The joke about “If you remember the Sixties, you weren’t really there” is on a par with those dancing in the streets post-election – our Euro-friends might equate it with the Nazis being defeated.
They, unlike our Founding Fathers, who quite easily imagined there could be people in the White House who would sell this country out like modern day Benedict Arnolds, were on another plane from what trump and his enablers have tried to do by screwing with this election.
Copywriting revolves around the use of keywords, and while ‘hunkered down,’ ‘gratitude’ and ‘thanks’ might be a little tougher to find than ‘election fraud,’ ‘transition blockage,’ or ‘COVID deaths,’ this year, take any part of Thanksgiving that makes a difference to you, especially the family part, and cherish it.
That my Mom’s best friend the last fifty-five years, Joanne Kline, whose family we alternated holiday dinners with for years, laughed in mentioning she’d finally gotten better at mashed potatoes (don’t ask) when we visited before a Clemson game a while ago, is the sort of Memory buttons copywriters like to push.
Even the best content writer would have a tough time imagining how an asteroid would have become the quintessential and ugliest cherry on top of a tougher 2020 than we already had. I’ll smile and be grateful knowing “my people” are all safe at this point, and while Mom won’t remember telling Dad she’d always hated me wanting a big ol’ leg to chew on like a mountain man while I thought it was a tradition, stuff like that should always count.
A little bourbon, a cigar, family, and being a day closer to 2021, that’s worth writing a little something about too.
‘Non-pandemic healthcare’ puts COVID concerns “over there” for a little while, because while all metrics show we’re leaning into another wave, https://carolinapublicpress.org/29967/coronavirus-in-north-carolina-daily-status-updates/ life goes on. Beyond ‘low grade depression,’ ‘cabin fever,’ or ‘just sick of it,’ concerns for elderly others, taking care of one’s own meds, and how an uninsured person pays for what’s necessary still constitutes healthcare .
“I have to leave here with meds” was the point of a recent office visit, and the essential question was, beyond a $75 office visit, how necessary was anything else to get those blood pressure pills? Recalling a 2019 appointment, when ACA coverage had a $740 tag for bloodwork and whatever (I paid $20 for office visit), I appreciated a helpful worker taking care of my “no insurance but a long time client” situation when I showed up.
While getting my meds from my regular doctor as a walk-in was relatively easy, the customer service skills of Loretta, a listener and ‘pleaser’ type, is worth mentioning. It turned out I didn’t need a physical at all, just to be SEEN by a doctor, to allow a prescription to renew. It was a small revelation to learn I could’ve been seen in July, I’d assumed everything stopped with COVID-19.
I used to think I was doing great when talking with senior center personnel; its as much their training to listen completely to seniors, who often can’t get straight to the point. Still, yay! for smart helpers like Loretta to make situations like mine just a regular thing.
After 16 months without being physically seen, an online service ($19) I tried could only renew my previous prescription for thirty days – its usually 90 day supply plus refills. While I got decent telephone support (and some sympathy), and the online version had only been up four months, there was a frustrating number of screens to view without seeing a choice close to my blood pressure priority.
There were more expensive options, where video connection replaced lower cost version, but it was an ungood surprise at pickup to learn all the effort only gave me a month supply.
It turned out I didn’t need a physical, just to be SEEN by a doctor, for my prescription to renew.Two hours and one blood test (kidney function check vs. med) later, Loretta rang up a satisfied patient for $115.
(Still way) Healthier than most
This was the first time I’ve been beeped for temperature (97.2) during the pandemic, and I’ve been hunkered down for seven months. I’m 63, 193 lbs. (same weight forever), and until an August bicycle accident, was riding thirty miles a week.
My BP was 132/82 that day, higher than normal by 15 pts., and I blame the first front person, at a different, earlier clinic operation I tried before Loretta (Novant).
Person #1 was right in suggesting I could go elsewhere if the pricing ($99) answer she’d given for my visit – instead of Prescription Refill ($89) function from their web site – wasn’t satisfactory. If she’d done as good a job explaining the difference, I’d have gladly given her my card without griping about it while driving seven miles and getting Loretta.
ACA coverage – better than I knew
Because its a big deal in the news, and will shortly be a case in the Supreme Court, I’ve appreciated having ACA coverage since it became mandatory, especially it handling most of a $6,900 bicycle accident and a knee replacement that rejuvenated my lifestyle at sixty.
I never needed to compare how much a $250,000 a year dentist covering a couple kids paid, but I lost my coverage in January because – after hoping a particular deadline falling on Sunday would work out – being a day late meant I needed to pay $970 for the first month of coverage. As for many Americans, having a large unexpected bill was a real problem, and the economics of food and rent overruled insurance.
That old “When you’ve got your health…” bromide still works, and millions are ‘skating,’ trying to make it through these crazy and stressful times. Seeing the worst kind of communicable health hazard appear without any coverage is a yikes! experience.
The “better than I knew” aspect was getting a check ($13 and change) from Blue Cross/Blue Shield because ACA had only used 79.1% (instead of mandated 80%) of premiums in 2019, so they split the difference among the masses. That’s got to change your attitude about all government programs as screwed up.
I’ve been “hunkered down” for seven months now, and had two bicycle crashes, one with actual injuries. That I paid a mere $8 for an anti-bacterial that a PA indicated I should get to handle what was a bit of infection in leg, doesn’t encompass how ugly the possibilites could have gotten.
People hear bike accident, they ask if you were wearing a helmet.
Yes, always, same for mask wearing, except when I’m moving 15 mph.
Ask questions, get answers
Things are more than a little confusing and scary right now, but there SHOULDN’T be any confusion about wearing a mask as worthy of doing for the good of all, and taking care of regular, non-pandemic stuff counts just as much. For many, that includes a loved one who needs extra attention, and speaking with people – ie. Loretta and my Mom’s doctor – who have specific information about specific situations, is still the best way to learn things.
Medical and nursing personnel know what’s going on, but they won’t just start providing a lot of “then this and then that” if you don’t ask. The people caring for Mom know she’s a ‘fiesty sundowner,’ but there’s no reason to think an elderly parent knows how they’ve reacted to a change of any kind.
Elementally, this is what my sales and journalistic training makes me good at, becoming a subject matter expert (SME) to the extent I can ask, “What about A, B, or C situations?”
When two brothers and I had 15 minutes of discussion with the doctor regarding the course of my mother’s medications, the reason for reducing or adding particular ones, and his most recent – that morning – meeting with her, we all got the facts at same time. BIG chunk of good intell there, even if events since then haven’t been as positive.
According to her doctor, she was admitted with a bladder infection – UTIs happen more than it should, she just won’t drink enough fluids – and antibiotics in seniors often change personalities. Though she’d only changed meds four days to that point, “her lab work was good, and she’s still a little bossy, but not physical” was legitimate. They’re aware of not ‘bombing her out,’ and she’d probably need most of two weeks to adjust to what her body was getting.
trump says he was low-keying things (“its like flu”) to avoid panic about COVID. In real life, most of us want the straight up information.
There won’t be any visits where she is, although two of us can have an hour together at her senior community after she comes back. Only one vendor reported to have broken protection there, which I trust. I relayed things to brother #4 in upstate NY, and particularly at this point, knowing what you can’t see or affect is being handled the best way possible, makes a solid difference in stress levels for others.
A quickie story
Although it represents very different circumstances, before she moved to assisted living side three years ago, she was in the hospital with afibulation problems. Four oncology doctors (that’s cancer arena) told me that, after a “sugar scan” they’d waited three days to take hadn’t shown anything “we’d still like to get a snip from inside the lobe.” What seemed like an unnecessary step – with a rubber-hosed scope the size of my pinkie going down her throat – had me smiling though.
“Thanks for the explanation, I think I have enough information here to accurately pass it along to everyone else. I’m not sure I’d go for anything invasive like that, especially involving anesthesia, but Steve is the one you’re really going to have to convince.” (FYI – No.)
Legally and operationally, someone has the final say on higher order senior healthcare. Voting at times of high stress rarely satisfies everyone involved.
Long, short, immediate COVID considerations (for me) start with keeping as close to home and always being masked for the last seven months (and yes, maskless clowns still tick me off), but I’ve decided to take care of what I can. They won’t go away after any election, but thus far, my steering clear of others has been successful.
We’ll see how that works out when I’m a poll worker for 15 hours next Tuesday.
Our church-related (St. Gabriel Men’s Club) community group had its first gathering since March in early October, a bring-your-own-chair with beers and brots, fire pit and comaraderie for a couple hours in the parking lot. We have a significant mix of much older fellows, so everyone wore masks.
We won’t have a Christmas tree sale (a 34 year tradition), the overnight Room in the Inn program (rated for 20 beds) for homeless is off, but we’ve still managed our furniture pickups for another ministry. It’s always done with masks on, and without doing the usual cooking and prep work once a month, paying for food at the Mens Shelter is the best we can do.
More immediate is my brother’s three days in South Carolina with his Mustang group this weekend – how many people can you trust when mothers send kids who have been exposed to school? I’ve been lax about wiping surfaces, but how many people might he be exposed to, was there a “less careful moment?”
With ZERO chance of attending a ‘super-spreader’ like trump’s Rose Garden events, and minimizing the moments here and there that become exposure, I’m doing the best I can.
The CDC changed ‘exposure’ from 15 minutes with same (tested or not) positive person to TOTAL 15 minutes in a day. That’s a legit piece of information, not to be discarded like trump’s continuing to hark back to “Dr. Fauci said no mask, now he says wear mask” like its sooo confusing. ‘Don’t’ was in March, not last week. As a current PSA points out, “This is a mask, not a political statement,” but we all wind up being at risk with non-maskers.
Being a good patient counts
Having $115 in checking account to pay for the office visit and a single blood test (checking for any kidney change) was a solid investment in my health. I didn’t have that available the week in August, when my bicycle tire torqued loose on a greenway ride, and as they say here in North Carolina, “I got tore up.”
A ‘skaters’ example of healthcare economics – A week after the accident, while doing a furniture pickup for that church group, a PA (physicians assistant) who pointed to a gouged-up leg and told me what I needed as an anti-bacterial to fight infection, THAT is a reason to use something. Within four applications, you could see results. Healthcare investment – $8, and thankfully, she was wrong about a possible torn ligament in my swollen ankle.
Having worn a helmet since (luckily) just before the first time I truly needed it years ago, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is still a good way to look at things like COVID and masks.
That long-promised stimulus check is finally in the bank, and that’s an economic situation working out. I feel for the millions who don’t have even that much control over what’s coming next. I’ve worked from a depleted refrigerator and cupboards along the way, but I *could have* gone to get groceries; it hasn’t been a choice between the food and medicine, or rent. No insurance, I sure dodged a bullet on that score.
A primary personal healthcare habit
Two bike accidents since end of March lock down aside, I consider cycling a primary personal healthcare habit – it gets a major share of credit for my continuing good body maintenance. Regular shooting of baskets is a habit from way before any pandemic made solitary activities the rule, and after a week of lousy productivity, I recognized-rectified fact the CBD oil I neglected to order (300 mg) made a difference with ‘anxiety’ levels and focus.
‘A dark winter ahead’
Right now, the fact of 100,000-plus reported COVID infections daily should create some awareness among non-maskers that attitudes and actions need to be changed. The sheer math of projected 100,000 a day over 78 days from elections to when Biden (please God, give us a chance!) can put something in place instead of “herd immunity” nonsense, is going to be necessary for survival.
Healthwise, the entire Midwest – actually 41 states – are statistically on fire, and our healthcare front liners are already exhausted. Those aren’t resources we can replace like another box of wine in the fridge.
I have three brothers and a mother with underlying factors that make COVID exposure a real threat. Yesterday I brought flowers with a chocolate bar (cookies and cream) and a nice note to her senior community nurses. I don’t know if she still reads the paper regularly, but the note said she wasn’t going to get let loose for trick or treating, chew on this. Also, chocolate brings a similar reaction to being hugged, and this was best I could do because I couldn’t see her.
For any changes on COVID to begin will require many, many more people doing things they may not want to.
The only perfect healthcare solution available is petting the dogs or other pets. That’s always a freebie, an organic anti-stresser.
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.
Healso 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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”