Thursday, August 7, 2014
Behind The Scoreboard
Sneak peak at NFL
The time has come (finally) to talk of many things, but mostly football (to take liberty with one of John Carroll’s famous lines.) Since Super Bowl XLVIII we have been getting bits and snippets about the number one national sport, waiting with bated breath for the most exciting time in fall activities to arrive. Now we are on the verge of being bombarded with pigskin progress from the littlest level to the Hall of Fame shrine at Canton, Ohio.
This past week marked the opening of just about all of the NFL training camps. We say “just about all” because some teams got in more practice sessions than others during this kickoff week. Some of our secondary (high school) squads were not completely idle this summer, getting into some mini scrimmages and weight room workouts. Bear in mind that of the county’s five high school teams, four fifths of them have new head coaches. This should make for some very entertaining intra-county contests.
The “Scoreboard” took a few sneak peeks into some of the NFL training sessions and the ones listed are not favorites by any stretch of the imagination. These are the teams which got a lot this maiden week. Y’all have to know that Johnny Football would be keyed on right out of the gate. The big question is “will or won’t he get the starting job with his team, the Cleveland Browns?” Don’t know if this is any indication of the seriousness of the Browns’ dedication, but one of their intra-squad scrimmages evolved into an intrasquad skirmish. No, Johnny Manziel was not involved although it was defense versus offense.
Fans who are cognizant of the long championship drought of the Browns are not shy at all in lobbying for Johnny Football. Retired Bishop Joe Potocnak, in residence at St. Joseph’s in Holly Springs (and Honorary Life Chaplain of Council #8760 of the Knights of Columbus), believes that Manziel will get the starting nod if he performs well in camp and the pre-season. I don’t favor Cleveland after Jim Brown left but I am inclined to agree with his Excellency. The 22nd draft pick in this year’s selection is not without resumé, 2012 Heisman winner, first team all-SEC for two consecutive years, 93 career collegiate touchdowns and a Fran Tarkenton-type scrambler, what’s not to like? Still the pre-season will tell the tale. Manziel will wear number 2 on his jersey and will probably back up Brian Hoyer, another rookie QB in his last season of a four-year contract. New head coach Mike Pettine has his hands full.
The Tennessee Titans and their brand new coach, Ken Whisenhunt, will also have a first year momentos task putting his team back on track. Considered to be a “fix it” mentor, the coach will have to deal with a team which was ranked 14th in defense last season. He, too, has a signal caller, Jake Locker, in the last year of a contract. The Titans also other have problems in the backfield.
We mentioned a few paragraphs ago about the Hall of Fame looming in the football picture. It happens that this was “Enshrinement Weekend” and there were a lucky seven picking up the golden fleece jackets. This will probably indicate my age but I remember most of those players in attendance who had been recognized before. The lucky dogs this year were Derrick Brooks, Walter Jones, Andre Reed, Mike Strahan, Aeneas Williams, Ray Guy and Claude Humphrey.
Ray Guy had waited a long time for this moment and has the distinction of being the first punter ever so honored. Without going into a lot of detail, Guy like Lou Groza, had a golden toe. Humphrey also had waited almost three decades (28 years). He related a lot of heart-touching stories during an acceptance speech which was only allotted 10 minutes but lasted almost an hour.
Humphrey was the first Memphian ever to be enshrined and as far as I know the first “Claude.” Congratulations, Mr. Claude Humphrey, and thank you!
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