Friday, September 10, 2010

09/10 Quickie: Saints, NFL Week 1, More

Don't forget to join in the NFL Pick 'Em group (or the College Football Pick 'Em group), both "Daily Quickie Readers."

Today's Names to Know: BJ Daniels, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Tom Brady, Miles Austin, Ray Lewis, Auburn, Terrelle Pryor vs. Jacory Harris, NL West, Carlos Gonzalez and More.

Gainesville, Fla. -- It's pretty strange that the biggest storyline of the sports weekend here is whether some nutjob is going to burn the Quran.

But, hopefully, that's now a non-issue, and we can concentrate on what I gauge around town as not nearly enough panic that Florida could lose tomorrow. Let's leave that there.

Saints beat Vikings in opener: And if, like me, you fell asleep before the game ended -- you didn't miss much. That opening Saints drive was one of the biggest sports teases of all time. Still: The NFL is back. No complaints.

(Um, to follow that last part up: Last night's game was the most-watched NFL season opener ever. Yes, ever. And it was NBC's most-watched game since 1997, essentially the pre-internet era. Partly it was "any football is good football," but there's no question that if it was Raiders-Bills, fewer fans would watch than "Saints-Favre.")

Big new deal for Tom Brady: It is impossible to imagine this NOT having happened. He's only the face of the franchise and one of the Top 3 QBs in the league -- certainly for the next 4 years of his extension. What they've done is punt on the awkwardness of the eventuality he is let go.

Big new deal for Miles Austin, too: From undrafted to massive contract makes Austin one of the most interesting NFL talent-develpment stories of the past decade -- not unlike Brady, frankly. But...

...Isn't it less about talent development than a poster for the failure of the talent-evaluation/"draftnik" industry, that one of the elite WRs in the NFL could so comprehensively go unnoticed?

This isn't whiffing on an undrafted player who goes on to be a serviceable practice-squad player; this is missing on a player who almost instantly became one of the Top 5 receivers in the sport.

Ray Lewis calls out the Jets: "No excuses" with Revis back on the roster. There are a couple things to love about this -- (1) Lewis so willing to talk smack; (2) making one of the best games of Week 1 even better; (3) affirming the Jets have become a national NFL brand.

Auburn gets one in Starkville: While many of the other Top 25 teams are racking up cupcake wins this weekend, Auburn earned an SEC road win -- no small thing. Not sure if Auburn looked like a Top 10-crasher, but certainly confirmed their Top 20 status.

What a weekend in college football: Ohio State-Miami is the headliner. Alabama-Penn State should affirm how good Bama is. Florida State-Oklahoma is one of the top "prove-it" games of the month. Even Notre Dame-Michigan is intriguing beyond the recent "which team can generate more schadenfreude." And that's all without upsets (see above -- gulp).

Is there any less of a story than LeBron reportedly going to attend the OSU-Miami game? I do like the "worlds-colliding" element: LeBron is an Ohio State fan -- he almost certainly will lure Terrelle Pryor to his shoe brand -- but he will have to directly spurn his new fans in Miami, who almost assuredly are rooting for The U.

This is not unlike the way he watched the Indians-Yankees playoff series while wearing a Yankees cap. The only redeeming thing about LeBron being a Buckeyes fan is that you can hardly call him a front-runner for a team that so rarely actually makes it to the front. I cannot believe I have now spent 200 words on LeBron's rooting interest in the Miami-tOSU game.

Giants bop Padres: 1 GB with 3 more to play head-to-head this weekend. By Monday morning, I think we'll have a new leader in the NL West. (Hardly a bold prediction, given San Diego's slide the last few weeks.)

More awesomeness from Carlos Gonzalez: Ultimately, I think Joey Votto gets the nod from NL MVP voters because (a) Votto will be in the playoffs and Cargo won't be, and (b) voters love the historic weight of Cincinnati versus the nouveau riche-ness of Colorado. (See Tulowitzki's Rookie of the Year runner-up finish a few years back.)

Team USA routs Russia: No, this has nothing to do with 1972. Good god, people: Let it go. If you are under the age of 50 -- 50! -- you have zero recollection of this event in sports history. Let's focus on what should be plenty challenging semifinals tomorrow, shall we? (A US-Turkey finals would be nutso -- at least the crowd environment.)

Carmelo to the Bulls for Joakim Noah? If the Nuggets were extremely lucky, they would get to pull off this deal -- and without having to take on Luol Deng's albatross salary. The fact is that Denver should be wanting to get something back for Carmelo; Noah feels like about as much value on the dollar as the Nuggets will get.

NFL Labor Pains: Anyone actually think they'll reach a deal by November? This is the union chief Smith posturing as

Scandals, Cont'd: More problems for UNC football?

Branding: If they told you they were switching it from "IndyCar" to "IRL" -- instead of the other way around -- would you know (or care)?

Coming later today: The Shallowest NFL Preview Ever (now Later Than Ever!) and CFB weekend picks.

-- D.S.

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