Morning Reading: Football is Back

Enjoy the day knowing that football season has finally returned.  All is right with the world and there are actual games being played.  Sure, games that don’t count, but games all the same.  A game of any kind is better than nothing.  So stop pretending you’re actually following baseball.  Stop believing you actually care what happens during the NBA offseason.  Football is back.  You have something to do for the next few months.

• Football returned with a thrilling matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game.  For three breath-taking quarters we saw one field goal scored in each before scoring blew up in the final frame with each team scoring an entire touchdown.  The Cowboys would hold on to win it in a game that kept you on the edge of your seat.
Okay, that’s enough of that.  It’s the preseason and the preseason is tough to watch even for the most diehard of fans.  The players you know are typically out by halftime and you’re left with former college players hanging on to the dream.  Occasionally someone steps up and shows you something, but for the most part, it’s a glorified scrimmage at that point.
The story of the night was the debut of former Cowboy wide receiver Terrell Owens in a Bengals uniform.  Owens finished the night with two catches for 18 yards or two more catches and 18 more yards than either Chad Ochocinco or Andre Caldwell.  Former Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Matt Jones led Cincinnati with three catches for 42 yards.  Yes, it’s appropriate to refer to the Bengals as the team of second, third, fourth, and final chances.
It wasn’t pretty and was far from thrilling, but it was football and it’s back.
Denver Broncos sackmaster Elvis Dumervil will learn his fate on Tuesday.  The outside linebacker will undergo surgery which should determine if he will be able to return at all during the 2010 season.  Possible replacement Jarvis Moss also hurt himself, but he could be back after only a few weeks.
Florida fans were up in arms after Emmitt Smith didn’t mention the Gators during his Hall of Fame induction speech.  I have to ask, why?  It may have been nice to hear Smith go off for a few minutes about his school and let us all know how much the orange and blue meant to him.  It would have been great to have him recount a story or two from his days as a Gator.  But again, why be upset that he didn’t?
It was Smith’s moment.  Not the University of Florida’s.  Some mentioned that if Tim Tebow were to one day be inducted into the Hall of Fame that he would be sure to mention the Gators.  Maybe, but he’s not Smith.  And Smith had no obligation to mention anything.
What we saw this weekend was one of the greatest players in Florida history and NFL history inducted into the Hall of Fame.  He could have spent 20 minutes talking and not mentioned the Dallas Cowboys and it may have been odd, but the world still would have turned.  Just like Steve Spurrier didn’t owe it to Smith to ensure him he would be part of the offense when Spurrier came aboard at Florida, Smith didn’t owe it to anyone to have to mention them.  It was his moment and he could say what he wanted to.
During the game last night, Smith apologized and recognized Florida, the Gators, and Urban Meyer.  Most will say that he only did so because of the backlash.  Others won’t care.  You should be among that second group.
As a Florida fan, enjoy the moment.  Be proud that one of your own is now a member of the Hall of Fame.  Far too often we worry about what people say or don’t say.  Smith’s actions on the field as a Gator and beyond are all the words we need.

Morning Reading: Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, Antonio Bryant…the Cincinnati Bengals Big 3

Not have the impact of Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade, but I’ll watch more Cincinnati Bengals games than I would have.
• Any chance Andre Caldwell emerges as the top Bengals wide receiver by the end of the 2010 season?  I’ve always hoped for big things from the former Florida star.  Unfortunately, the signing of Terrell Owens will dramatically cut into the number of passes Caldwell sees headed his way.
First we had the Miami Heat and their trio.  Now we have the Bengals and their questionable receiving corps.  If Owens, Chad Ochocinco, and Antonio Bryant were three soft-spoken, do your work and keep your mouth shut receivers, we might be looking at Cincinnati to do big things in 2010.  Because of what we know about the three though, that just isn’t the case.
All three have talent.  All three have issues.  If they can still bring their abilities to the field and be good teammates, then the Bengals may have something here.  If not, it’ll be seen as a failed experiment.  If anything, it gives us another reason to look forward to the return of football season.
• Somewhere someone has located Jack Tatum’s wallet.  I’m guessing it says that same thing on it that Samuel L. Jackson’s did in Pulp Fiction.  Rest in peace to one BAMF.
Tatum passed away on Tuesday at the age of 61 after suffering a massive heart attack.  The former Ohio State and Oakland Raiders star had battled diabetes for years after his NFL career was over.
Tatum was known as the Assassin and for good reason.  One of the hardest hitters to ever play the game, opponents were literally afraid of playing against him.  Unfortunately, Tatum will always be remembered for one hit that went terribly wrong.  In a game against the New England Patriots in 1978, a Tatum hit paralyzed Pats’ wide receiver Darryl Stingley from the neck down.  Tatum wasn’t intending to injury Stingley, but unfortunately many may have seen his career that way when in reality Tatum just played the game harder than anyone else.  The legend will be missed.
• The Chicago Bulls are looking into the possibility of signing Keith Bogans.  Bogans has a career field goal percentage under 40%.  Enough said.
Chris Paul said his meeting with the New Orleans Hornets went well, but he also doesn’t seem completely convinced it’s the team for him.  When asked if he would say he didn’t want to be traded, Paul said there will be a time that he might do that.  Huh?
So Paul had a good meeting with the team and is excited about the direction the franchise is headed in, but still won’t commit to the Hornets long-term.  Keep the offers coming Orlando Magic.  This isn’t over just yet.
Ilya Kovalchuk isn’t signed.  Not yet at least.  First the 17-year deal with the New Jersey Devils was rejected by the league and now the NHLPA has filed a grievance against that ruling.  Expect him to end up with the Devils one way or another.  New Jersey will get this worked out somehow.  It’s hard to imagine that if the deal doesn’t go through as originally structured, Kovalchuk would sign somewhere else.  He wanted to be a Devil and they wanted to keep him.

June 20, 2009 – A Sad, Sad Day in Sports History

Today is not a good day. Not a good day at all. A TBG favorite (I probably use that term a lot, but this time I truly mean it) and the inspiration for The Long Snapper is without a job. The Cincinnati Bengals have waived former Florida long snapper James Smith. Undrafted free agents rarely get a second chance, but everyone here at The Bull Gator (myself and my dogs – who I only include because they’re both staring at me while I type this) wishes him the best of luck. From your supreme long snapping talent to your two (yes, two) National Championship rings we salute you James Smith and remember that time you were mere inches away from glory…