Reporting Marc James
Things We Learned Over The Weekend:
4. Pre-Season NFL is much better than Regular Season MLB. Has any sport other boxing fallen further off the American Landscape than Major League Baseball? LeBron James’ “Decision” a year ago nearly out rated the World Series between the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants. The ratings for ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball Game of the Week have been disastrous in their first season without Hall of Famers Jon Miller & Joe Morgan. The 4 month agonizing lockout is over and the NFL’s popularity even with the first week of pre-season games is off the charts. More people around the country followed the performances of Ryan Mallett of the New England Patriots (12 of 19 passes for 164 Yards) & Blaine Gabbert (9 of 16 passes) than they cared about Dan Uggla’s 33 game hitting streak for the N.L. East Wild Card leading Atlanta Braves.
3. SEC is NOT expanding with Texas A&M YET; not to mention FloridaState, Clemson, & Missouri. According to a rather premature and erroneous report by Fox Sports.com, the much disgruntled Aggies were all but set to join the Southeastern Conference next season in 2012 with FSU, Clemson, & Mizzou quote “likely to join.” To use a quote from one of the Seminoles Most Famous Alumni Lee Corso: “Not so Fast My Friend.” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive vehemently denied the Best Conference in College Football History would add A&M at this time and even further adamantly denied even contemplating the other three schools. Fox Sports evidently subscribes to the theory that its better to be First & utterly Inaccurate rather than second and totally accurate. Oh well; at least it made for some great Twitter talk and speculation for a few days.
2. A Golf Major without Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, & Rory McIlroy in contention in the Final round is akin to College Football without the SEC. It’s complete Garbage! American Keegan Bradley wins the PGA Championship in dramatic fashion defeating Jason Dufner in a 3-hole playoff to capture his first career Major in his PGA Tour Rookie season (2nd title overall). He became only the third player in at least 100 years to win a major on his first try. Bradley staged a huge comeback by trailing 5 strokes after a triple bogey on 15. Then, he rallied for birdies on 16 & 17 while Dufner did his best Mickelson “Choke Job” with Bogeys on the final three holes. It ‘s a great story of a 25-year-oldPGA Tour rookie who was ranked No. 108 in the world, who ended America’s longest drought in a major that had reached six. Amazing, but Nobody cared because the box office attractions weren’t there on Sunday. Golf is on the precipice of irrelevance if Tiger & Lefty don’t simultaneously get their acts together.
1. Last, but definitely not least, the #1 Overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft Cam Newton made his long awaited debut for the Carolina Panthers against the New York Football Giants. His statistics weren’t jaw-dropping with 8 of 19 completions, but his poise in the pocket was astounding. He successfully threw his first ever NFL pass attempt (albeit Pre-Season) to the newest Panther Greg Olsen for a 10 yard completion. A few plays later found Olsen for a 30 yard reception and later connected with reinvigorated Armanti Edwards for a 36-yard strike. He ended up with an impressive 134 yards, but more importantly a glimmer of hope for a franchise coming off a league Worst 2-14 season.Newton looked extremely comfortable in his action against live bullets although he struggled in the red zone overthrowing Edwards twice for touchdowns.Newton’s transition from the spread formation at Auburn to the NFL looks rather seamless at this point in time. General Manager Marty Hurney can breathe a little easier for now. Newton has made skeptics including yours truly forget about a certain quarterback from Stanford who went to back to school for another year.