NFL Week 1 – Haven’t we seen this before?

The National Football League’s first week of football is now in the books.  Fortunately for all, the initial weekend of the season was mostly about the games and not about the pregame sidelines antics.

There were a few positive surprises in Week 1.  The New York Jets won their game 48-17 against Detroit’s Matthew “Poppin’ Fresh” Stafford and The Four Turnovers.  I’m not ready to jump on the Sam Darnold bandwagon just yet, but the J-E-T-S fans deserve a season opening cheer for a change.

Ditto for the Baltimore Ravens as they absolutely demolished the Buffalo Bills 47-3 on Sunday.  Though I’m not a believer in the Ravens just yet either, Buffalo should stock-up on brown paper bags for the fans who attend home games this season.  The Bills’ offense featured a total of 98 yards passing and 86 rushing yards.  With this Sunday’s home opener in Buffalo, the Bills may want to serve a Five Hour energy drink to the team before the game and give freebies to the fans who stay for the second half before they start falling asleep.

Looking around the league, not much has changed for some teams since the end of last year.

The New Orleans Saints still have a terrific offense featuring ageless quarterback Drew Brees and elusive running back Alvin Kamara.  When you score 40 points in a game played in your home stadium, I would think you should win 99% of the time.  Unless you have the Saints’ “Bless you, Boys” holey defense, that is.  The Popes seen in attendance at the Superdome Sunday might be better at covering-up dirty little secrets than the Saints’ defensive backs were at covering receivers as Tampa Bay outscored New Orleans, 48-40.  Sean Payton’s teams are always great on offense and, at best, marginal on defense.  Same ol’ same ol’.

Then there are the Houston Texans and New England Patriots.  Coach Bill O’Brien’s sleepy Texanzzzz offense continue to waste a fabulous young quarterback and talented wide receiver as the offensive play calling in Houston is truly offensive.  Atrocious.  This stale and tepid offense has stunk every year since O’Brien was handed the keys in Houston.  Could someone tell me why did this man receive a four-year contract extension after going 4-12 last season?

Meanwhile, the Patriots won the game 27-20 in a final score that wasn’t as close as it seemed.  Tom Brady is 41 years young and throws touchdown passes to unheralded players such as Colts’ cast-off wide receiver, Phillip Dorsett (not related to Tony Dorsett).  The Patriots are a machine on offense and defense with a coach who never seems to flinch.  He just wins.

On the flip side, there are the Cleveland Browns.  Lovable losers of 17 straight games before Sunday, the Brownies thrilled the home faithful with a fourth quarter rally to take the sleep-walking Pittsburgh Steelers into overtime at 21 points apiece.  And, in true Browns fashion, the home team dashed the hopes of the faithful Dawg Pound by missing a game winning field goal on the last play of overtime. Only a die-hard Browns fan would be happy ending the losing streak – with a tie.

As for Steelers fans, it’s time to find another coach.  I am convinced that Mike Tomlin may, indeed, be just be a statue who is planted on the sidelines for every game.  Captain Clueless seems to be satisfied with another under-performing Pittsburgh team that is loaded with talent again this season.  Hello, Bill Cowher?

Finally, there is quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.  When Rodgers went down with a leg injury Sunday night against the Chicago Bears and the 2018 Monster$ of the Midway defense led by newly acquired Khalil Mack, it looked like all was lost as Chicago led 17-0 at the half.  As Aaron Rodgers limped out on the field in the third quarter to the thunderous roar of Packers fans, you just knew that he would find a way to zip and lob passes down the field to make it a game.  The Pack came back and da’feated da’ Bears 24-23 in a terrific opener for NBC’s Sunday Night Football.  Bears fans have seen it before.

Though a few things may have changed since last season, the NFL’s opening weekend seemed more like the movie Groundhog Day again as certain NFL teams, players, and coaches have become just as predictable as Bill Murray’s alarm clock.

 

 

Sixth grader offered college baseball scholarship?!

Before you accuse ol’ SwampSwami of becoming another “fake news”purveyor, the young man mentioned in the headline is actually starting the seventh grade in school this month.

Truth:  Grambling State University has offered a 12-year old young man a college baseball scholarship after watching him perform during the summer.

How hard-up are the Tigers from northwest Louisiana to field a better ball team? This year’s Grambling baseball squad posted a decent 26-26 record in 2018 with a 14-10 conference record.

So, who is this young baseball phenom, and why would a college offer a scholarship to him a half-dozen years before he graduates from high school?

This talented young lad is named Elijiah Barney from Gulfport, Mississippi.  He has a lineage which indicates that he might, perhaps, have a better than average chance of becoming a good college athlete – in about six years, that is.

If you are old enough to remember a certain NFL Hall-of-Fame cornerback and special teams standout for the Detroit Lions by the name of Lem Barney, he is also the great uncle of our 12-year old baseball whiz.  Lem Barney played his college football for Jackson State University in Mississippi and became a second round draft pick of the Lions – at age 22.

Fortunately for Lem, he had the chance to be a kid and grow into a young adult while outside of the major media spotlight.

Unfortunately for today’s kids, it is becoming more and more common for college coaches of all major sports to spend time scouting younger and younger athletes in hopes of improving the school’s chances of winning more games.  The 24/7 media isn’t helping this absurd new trend, either.

Just this summer, the 13-year old son of current NBA star LeBron James was being highlighted by the national sports media as a rising basketball star.  Watch him run the court and dunk the ball. Wow – another phenom in the making!

Perhaps, but LeBron’s son has another five years of junior high and high school to complete.  But he IS the son of LeBron James, right?

Good grief.

I remember that golf’s greatest major champion, Jack Nicklaus, had a couple of golf-playing sons, too.  One of them, Gary Nicklaus, had a nice run of success as an amateur and, like his famous Dad, became an All-American at Ohio State University.  While the younger Nicklaus tried for several years to make it on the PGA Tour on his own, Gary, now 49, does other work for a living today and has happily regained his amateur golf status again just for the fun of it.

With the cost of college so high, the parents of young athletes are quite aware of the possible financial pot of gold at the end of the youth sports rainbow.  Even girls sports such as softball will have college scouts looking for future stars prior to these kids even entering high school.

As one or more colleges dangle the hook of an expensive college scholarship, some parents will do nearly anything they can to help their talented child find and grab the right hook.

How many of us were sports world-beaters (in our own minds) in the sixth, seventh, or eighth grades?  A lot.

And how many actually made it to playing college ball by the time high school ended?  Very very few.

I hope the same media will be around in six years to document how well Grambling’s then-18 year old signee fares as a college baseball player.

Unless, of course, he is drafted in the first round by Major League Baseball instead!

Yeah, that would be great!