Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday rear-view Mirror

Let me start with the positives. Saturday was a wonderful (albeit cold and rainy) day at Carter-Finley Stadium for State Championship football. Congrats to Butler, West Rowan, and Northern Guilford on winning the 4-AA, 3-A and 3-AA titles in Raleigh respectfully. Butler and West Rowan won handily, but Northern Guilford edged Boiling Springs Crest 21-20. An exciting game, with a tough finish for the Chargers, thanks to a missed PAT in the final 15 seconds. I applaud all the players and coaches for their efforts, not just on Championship Saturday, but all season long. Thanks to each and every coach and player that allowed us on their sidelines this past season. We had a blast covering the year, and hope you enjoyed our coverage on the Discount Tire Friday Night Final.

Now, to the ugliness.

The Carolina Panthers loss 31-10 to the Atlanta Falcons dropped their record to 1-12, 3 games to go, the most winnable of them coming at Bank of America Stadium this Sunday when Arizona rolls in. Will they win? Who knows, but the is no disputing the frustration levels are now at an all-time high. Steve Smith isn't happy with Jimmy Clausen. Jordan Gross isn't happy with being told the team is "young, and they try really hard." John Fox isn't happy about losing. The media isn't happy about covering a team that is brutally overmatched each week, because the plan set in motion by ownership was to sacrifice the season in the name of the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement. Don't believe what I have been writing in this space all season long? John Lynch, TV analyst during Sunday's game, said, "I see a team that has been preparing for the lockout for the last couple of years."

I have tried to give ownership the benefit of the doubt, but the 60+ players that have worn the uniform for the Panthers this season, especially the guys that have been around for a while, deserved better. Jerry Richardson's letter to PSL owners was nice, but it's not enough. Richardson, not GM Marty Hurney, not Fox, not the players, is the one responsible for this mess. All folks underneath him are working on orders, and the orders come from above. This embarrassing season falls squarely on his shoulders. How the franchise bounces back from this will determine how he is remembered. Coming into 2010, Richardson was revered in the community. That perception has changed, in a very big way thanks to the events of this season. I have applauded him in the past for being a "behind-the-scenes" owners, but when times are tough, the right thing to do to face the music, and not hide in the shadows.

Panthers fans, PSL owners, and the like are certainly hoping that the sacrifices of the season in 2010 will pay off in 2011...or 2012.

The Charlotte Bobcats are looking more and more like a dysfunctional family. It's to the point that team owner Michael Jordan gave his team a verbal beating after a blowout loss to Boston on Saturday night. Bobcats back home to meet Toronto on Tuesday night, when MJ will be inducted into the NC Sports Hall of Fame at halftime. The Bobcats are at a critical point in the season. They can ill afford to continue to lose games, as they will lose ground in a very bad Eastern Conference. The Bobcats can be a playoff team, but they need to get things sorted out, and from the sound of it, it comes down to effort. Effort is something this franchise has been known for, from day one. Bobcats, be who you are, not what you think you are. Be the hard-working team that the city has come to expect. That's what they were last season.

You also have Cam Newton winning the Heisman Trophy. I have no problem with that. In fact, I voted for him. I got the order wrong, in sports 2-3, but I had Newton winning it. What I find disturbing is the fact that 105 of my fellow voters didn't vote for Newton in any spot (1-2-3). They omitted him from their ballots altogether. The Heisman goes to college football's most outstanding player. So according to the 105 voters, he was, at worst, the 4th best player in the country.

Sorry, but that's a joke.

As a Heisman voter, it's my duty to vote for the best players in America, regardless of my opinion of whether or not they broke a rule. If the player is in good standing with the NCAA, they are eligible to receive the Heisman. Cam Newton is in good standing with the NCAA. He was the best player in college football. Period. He got my vote.

Now, my personal belief is that Cam Newton knew all along that his father was up to no good, but SO FAR, there is no PROOF that Cam was involved. There is a chance that Newton won't hold onto that Heisman somewhere down the road, and that will be his shame to deal with if and when that happens. I used my ballot, and did so according to the ground rules laid out.

Mike Solarte

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