Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tuesday Thoughts

Mike Solarte

I am glad to hear the Panthers have let Steve Smith apologize, and accepted it. It is a story that could hang over this team all season long, especially if they start 0-2, but for now, it looks like they will try to stick to their words from Monday, and get on with the business of being a Super Bowl contender.

No doubt, this incident has the potential to be divisive, but the leadership in the Panthers dressing room leads me to believe that it won't be. Guys like Delhomme, safety Chris Harris, LB Jon Beason, and WR Mushin Muhammad are strong character guys that can act as the glue to keep the room in one piece.

Something I found particularly funny on Monday night, was a blog post off of ESPN.com, which claimed there were rumblings in the NFC East that the Panthers might be looking to trade Smith, perhaps to the Dallas Cowboys. Now, please notice, I typed NFC East, not South. What rumblings are coming from the East that would like Smith being dealt? Rumblings of a writer trying to stir the pot. The Panthers won't be moving Smith anytime soon, and if they did, they would have to get a legit star in return, because that is what Smith is. He is probably the most exciting receiver in the league, and that kind of player sells tickets. It doesn't make up for the events of Friday. I am talking about the football side of things. Trading Smith is likely the last thing the Panthers are thinking about, especially 4 weeks away from opening the season.

There is no doubt in my mind this team is focused squarely on Saturday night when they play Indianapolis. It will be the first chance these guys get to blast someone they don't practice against everyday. Should be fun.

Incidentally, NFL Network was in camp on Monday, and Pat Kirwan says the Panthers are a playoff team RIGHT NOW, as long as Jake Delhomme stays healthy. Given the fact that last season, Delhomme was off to a great start (8 TD's, 1 INT) before his injury, that could be an understatement.

- The Brett Favre saga continues. This story is hanging around like a broke cousin. It just won't go away. Somebody needs to end this thing (and we could get some kind of resolution today--not likely though), and end it quickly. What has all this gained for anyone? That answer is nothing.

Favre is trying to look like the good guy in all this, but it's really not working. He said he retired, and now he says retiring was a mistake. He just wants to play. OK. I get that. Everyone screws up.

The Packers got word of Favre retiring before the draft, drafted (with Favre out of the picture), and now their plans for the future should just be put on hold, so number 4 can come back? No one player is bigger than the team or franchise.

The Packers either need to deal him or release him. Releasing him is a gamble, no question, because Favre could end up on a team within the Packers division. My question is this. So what?

Favre is not the same QB that has the ability to sling it around the yard, avoid tacklers, and all those things he could do just 5 years ago. Any team that gets Favre is getting the "downside" Favre. They are getting a guy who hasn't missed a start in his career (incredible), but has little tread left on his tires. I agree, he had a monster season in 2007. Can he be COUNTED ON for a similar year in 2008, going to ANY team other than Green Bay? Again, the answer is no.

I am no Favre-hater. I respect the years he has given to the NFL. I am a Favre-story hater. This thing needs to be put to sleep. The first full weekend of exhibition games is upon us, yet the only thing anyone is talking about is Favre. Roger Goodell likely isn't happy, because his league has lost its spotlight to one player. A play that hasn't practiced with anyone as of 10:30 this morning.

- Sprint Cup series heads back to a road course this weekend, running at Watkins Glen. Oh, the thrill of it. The debate goes on about road courses vs. oval racing. I'm an oval racing guy. I like the fact that it's all about going as fast as you can, with no surprises. Yes, road course racing is far more tactical, and requires the cars actually turn RIGHT on occasion, but simply put-NASCAR racing is oval racing. Period. I think a majority of fans prefer oval racing to road courses--the word "finesse" isn't colliding in the same sentence as "NASCAR" very often.

- Bobcats big man Emeka Okafor will be a guest on Sports Night on Wednesday night. Make sure you make time and check it out!

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