ESPN’s 2012 Picks

ESPN has up their 2012 expert NFL picks.

Bill Williamson had the Panthers winning the NFC South. Pat Yasinkas and Adam Schefter had the Panthers as Wild-Card teams.

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Luck’s debut in Pittsburgh Scored Fair

I’ve seen all that I need to see to know that Andrew Luck is going to be a player in the NFL.

I came away more impressed with his showing in Pittsburgh’s 26-24 last minute win over the Colts than I did in his debut against the Rams in Indianapolis.

He received rave reviews after completing 8 of 9 passes after his second interception, which was deflected off the hands of a Colts receiver and into the air.

There’s something special about Luck. There’s something that says barring injury, he’s going to be very, very good very soon. There’s also this feeling I have that Luck is going to be most similar to Peyton Manning in one quality: durability.

Luck’s biggest game of the preseason (or at least the most hyped) comes this Saturday Night against the Redskins and Robert Griffin III.

Andrew Luck’s Debut Was Delightful

[Game book]

[NFL.com] [PFT] [Indianapolis Star]

Tuned in for the early part of Andrew Luck’s debut as a pro. I have been waiting for some time to see what this kid has out there with the monsters of the gridiron at the highest level. He was as advertised, and it was the cleanest NFL debut that I’ve seen a 1st overall pick make since Tim Couch in 1999.

It was only preseason, and I understand that. But I just don’t expect Andrew Luck to struggle much this year. I worry about his protection (he took a couple frayed hits early on) and I worry about the depth should there be injuries to his supporting cast.

And on his first snap as a pro, it went to the house. It wasn’t so much anything Luck did in throwing the football. It just happened to be a great playcall.

There will be tougher days for Luck as a pro for sure. There will be times where doubt is cast. But overall, this was a very good omen that had the rest of the league on notice of what’s to come.

I got The Ticket!

Finally, Insight Communications pissed me off enough by axing my prized NFL Network to convince me to do what it took for DirecTV.

It was probably long overdue.

For the first time in my life as a football fan, I don’t have to venture to the sports bar to see the Panthers, Colts, or any of my fantasy teamers. I can do it from the comfort of my own home.

This football season is going to be a glorious one.

Curtis Martin kicks off the NFL Season in Canton

I thought Curtis Martin’s speech last night was amazing.

In a night of speeches that left a lot to be desired (no offense to Cortez Kennedy, Dermonti Dawson, or Chris Doleman), all of them paled in comparison to the emotional and spiritual levels that Martin’s speech seemed to eloquently touched on.

Martin mentioned that he had to find meaning and ‘play for a higher power’. He also touched on the things he’s endured in life with his mother crying in the audience.

As night fell on Canton, I realized that we were about to embark upon another NFL season in our lives. Another fall opens today with the Hall of Fame game at Fawcett Stadium. Saints/Cardinals kick things off tonight on prime time.

I enjoyed watching Curtis Martin as a kid and remember a lot from his illustrious career. In a lot of ways his style sounds like it was a poor man’s Walter Payton. He just knew how to gain yards and his productivity into his ‘late’ years of his career is something you can’t just find anywhere.

What a great way to kick off the new NFL year.

Charlotte

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Today my wife and I ventured to Charlotte for the first time. We parked our car and had lunch and headed down to Bank of America Stadium. It will always be ‘Ericson Stadium’ to me.

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I honestly couldn’t believe I was at ground zero of where so much has went down in the past.

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This is where Kerry Collins and Sam Mills and Kevin Greene and Fred Lane, Rae Carruth, Wesley Walls, Muhsin Muhhammad to Cam Newton and the current group have all gotten after it. I couldn’t believe I was finally here. I only remember crossing it on the highway coming back from Florida when I was many years younger.

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Here’s another shot of the Charlotte Observer HQ. One cool thing was walking back to our cars they had three major issues of the paper from the past. They had the one from when Elvis passed away, the paper from 1993 when the Panthers were awarded their franchise, and the issue from the 9/11 tragedy.

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The famed Giant Black Panther outside the stadium.

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A shot during our downtown walk. The downtown area appears to be very green and very clean. It’s a bigger downtown than one would think.

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Here’s a shot of inside Bank of America Stadium’s bowels from the team shop.

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The man, the myth, the legend. Plenty of these will fly off the rack. My wife wouldn’t allow me to purchase one because it’s too expensive, so I settled for a Panthers t-shirt instead. The new replica jerseys really suck. They don’t feel right wearing them. It’s like a baseball jersey.

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I think Joe Adams is going to be a terrific player.

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This is my favorite picture of the day. I think this team is going to do huge things this season.

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We ended up getting some Mexican in the suburbs of Charlotte tonight. What a great city. Someday when I build a home and have a mancave, I’ll have one of these in it.