As a dad I find it really hard to focus on the important things, like 10 hours of non-stop football on Saturdays and Sundays. It's REALLY annoying... I kid of course. For full disclosure here are my sports allegiances: Boston Red Sox, Tar Heels basketball, Georgia Bulldogs football and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I am also a staunch supporter of the return of the Charlotte Hornets! I'm always objective, it just turns out the TRUTH is always on my team's side. I can't help it.
Some people call me a Half-back, I refer to myself as a Hybrid. One parent from the north, the other from the south resulting in my love for sweet and unsweet tea. Just like most Americans, sports are my escape. Those who cannot do (anymore), critique and debate. So I share my love of sports with you all. GO DETROIT!
Great sports coverage and a lot of "best of" sports lists at Bleacher Report. http://bleacherreport.com/
What's the latest in college sports and whatever happened to guys like UNC's Ed Geth? http://www.lostlettermen.com/
Like polls and giving fantasy tips? Waste hours in NFL.com's Genius Community. http://genius.fantasy.nfl.com/
SB Nation has a large collection of sports opinion. http://www.sbnation.com/
One of Tank's favorite writers Bill Simmons and the Grantland crew kill it. http://www.grantland.com/
By Tank Spencer
As we sit down to think about what’s most important in our lives this holiday season, I reflect on what I’m thankful for in the world of sports.
I give thanks for:
1. Another World Series trophy in Beantown.
It's been a year of the comeback for Red Sox fans. After sitting out the playoffs last year, finishing in last place in the division, John Farrell led the Red Sox to a division title, the pennant and the first World Series clinched at Fenway Park since Woodrow Wilson was in the White House.
2. Oregon and Baylor don't disappoint.
In the last few weeks the BCS picture has cleared right up the Ducks and the Bears suffered losses taking them out of the national title conversation. Now if only Ohio State would trip up against Michigan this week, we wouldn't have to hear the incessant whining from Buckeye fans that they deserve a shot. Don't be fooled by the undefeated record, they don't. The Big Ten's inferiority is nothing to celebrate. Just because you beat a bunch of mediocre teams, doesn't give you the right to clamor for respect. Hopefully everything holds and Alabama and Florida State remain undefeated to set up a national title game that could be one of the greats. Once again Nick Saban and Alabama would hoist the crystal ball.
3. No Tim Tebow in the NFL.
We began the 2013 NFL season wondering if and when the calls for Tim Tebow to start at quarterback for the New England Patriots would arise. Thankfully the Patriots ARE the smartest-run organization in sports and saw fit to release Timmy before the season even got started. I'm thankful that no other franchise has decided to test the waters and infect themselves with the disease that is Tebowmania. Can we close the book on him please? He's a horrible pro quarterback. End of story.
4. The Buccaneers have a three game winning streak!
My Bucs are horrible. I didn't think we'd win three games all year after seeing how this team has imploded. So the win streak comes to a crashing halt this week in Charlotte... we still aren't the worst in the league!
5. The Erwin Warriors' historic season.
As sadly as the season ended (and the "what ifs" remain), I have to applaud my alma mater for doing something no squad from Leicester has done before. Nine straight wins is nothing to sneeze at. I can't wait to see what Mike Sexton has in store for the next class of Warriors.
6. The Yankees signed former Braves catcher Brian "Cry-baby" McCann.
After he pitched a fit when his pitcher got rocked by a Brewers player late in the season, I lost all respect for McCann. Mr."We Play With Honor and No Fun At All" was on the free agent market and said to be in serious talks with my beloved Red Sox. Thank you Lord for making him a Yankee. Now it'll be so much easier to hate him rather than try to stomach him in the Boston dugout.
7. The Panthers are relevant again!
It has been a long time since the Carolina Panthers have had this much to celebrate. In fact, I 'll argue they never have had this much to celebrate. While I'm not a Panther fan, I can recognize a franchise that has a lot going for it. At the beginning of the season Panther fans were wondering who their new coach would be, is Cam Newton really the answer and what to do about the secondary woes. All of those have been answered: no new coach needed, yes he is, and don't fix it if it ain't broke. The Panthers are rolling to the playoffs and are a couple of breaks away from being Super Bowl contenders. Even this Tampa-loyal North Carolina native is getting excited about Panther football.
8. Finally, I'm thankful for you.
I've been given an opportunity to host my own show and the feedback I've gotten so far is all positive (except for from Nuclear Bob- and he's mentally unstable and can't be trusted for any reliable opinion on anything). The show will resume on it's regular schedule December 7th 11a-1p. Be sure to tune in, tell your friends and I'll do my best to keep you up to date and entertained.
By Tank Spencer
In case you were wondering, the Carolina Panthers are for real. For all of their faults, the Panthers are rising to the top of the league. After a big win on Monday Night Football, the Panthers are keeping pace behind the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South and have established themselves as a contender. Last night’s battle in Charlotte was nothing short of fantastic.
Even with a controversial call on the last play, the Panthers proved yet again that they can play with the best teams on the biggest stage and gut out a win. As a longtime observer of the Panthers, I kept waiting for the game to slip away. This team’s testicular fortitude was on display in the 4 quarter.
Was it pass interference on the play? Absolutely. Looking at the NFL Rulebook, Panthers linebacker Luke Keuchly broke almost every rule in the book on the final play.
Actions that constitute defensive pass interference include but are not limited to:
(a) Contact by a defender who is not playing the ball and such contact restricts the receiver’s opportunity to make the catch.
(b) Playing through the back of a receiver in an attempt to make a play on the ball.
(c) Grabbing a receiver’s arm(s) in such a manner that restricts his opportunity to catch a pass.
(d) Extending an arm across the body of a receiver thus restricting his ability to catch a pass, regardless of whether the defender is playing the ball.
(e) Cutting off the path of a receiver by making contact with him without playing the ball.
(f) Hooking a receiver in an attempt to get to the ball in such a manner that it causes the receiver’s body to turn prior to the ball arriving.
I’m not saying Rob Gronkowski would have made the catch. He at the very least could’ve made a cut back to the ball (and was attempting to in my opinion) when bear-hugged and pushed out of the play by Keuchly. The Panthers caught a break there.
One thing was made even more clear last night. Cam Newton is just short of a demigod on 3rd downs. He made play after play on 3rd down, as he’s done most of the year and last night in the 3rd quarter lived up to his Superman nickname. Newton made a 14 yard scramble for the ages to earn a big 1st down. If you missed it, Click HERE.
The game was chippy throughout and began when Carolina WR Steve Smith and New England CB Aquib Talib got into it. They had a few run-ins and in pure Smitty style, he gave a shoutout to Talib in the postgame.
“Ice up son!” That’s rival to “Don’t tase me bro!” on the best one-liners in history list.
The final controversy from the game was a leg whip on Panthers DE Charles Johnson. Johnson swims past OT Marcus Cannon and after Cannon is on the ground, he rolls backward into Johnson’s knee. Johnson was carted to the locker room but returned. Looking at this film, I’m not so sure it was intentional.
By Tank Spencer
Is it EVER okay to root for your team to lose? As a Buccaneers fan, this has crossed my mind more than once in the last few weeks. It was great to see my team FINALLY win a game on Monday Night Football last week. By doing so we at least were keeping pace with Jacksonville to be the worst tem in football. Then, this week we won again! I found myself thinking “Wait! Is this good or bad?”
Now at 2-8 things are looking promising despite the injuries, the horrid coaching and the turmoil in the locker room. I’m not saying there’s a shot to run the table and finish 8-8, but 4 or 5 wins isn’t out of the question. That’s especially so with Buffalo and St. Louis on the remaining schedule.
Of course in all of this, the question is: what draft choice will you have when it’s over? The team went from tracking for 1 or 2 overall to now looking at as low as 6th, maybe lower if they keep winning. I’m generally opposed to any thought of “tanking” a season to get a high draft pick, but if it is for the greater good… is it okay?
Intentionally losing is never okay in my book. As ex-coach Herm Edwards has famously said, “you play to win the game!” “Tanking” by a team is unethical, in my opinion. Even when a team has clinched the highest playoff spot in Week 16, I find it unethical for them to bench their best players for the final game in order to rest them for the playoffs. Pan that idea if you want, but when the games matter - you owe it to your fans to put your best out there and win every game possible.
A double standard exists for fans, though. I believe your rooting interest has no impact on the game itself. So if you think it’s best for your team to fail, I have no qualms with hoping every opponent your team faces is better on that particular day. I’ll still pull for my guys to perform well, but I’ll be okay if the team loses by a field goal every week from here on out.
So come December 1st, I’ll make my annual trip to Charlotte to watch my Bucs take on the Carolina Panthers. For the first time since 1995*, I may actually cheer the Panthers on.
*Back in ’95 I saw the Panthers live for the first time at Clemson vs. Tampa. Being the new hometown team, my father and I weren’t sure where our allegiance lied. We pulled for both sides. After two or three years, we remained Bucs fans.