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: Bobby McCray Returns to the New Orleans Saints

Let’s go all out NFL (with a little Gator flavor) on this glorious Friday.
Former Florida defensive end Bobby McCray will return to the New Orleans Saints for the 2010 season.  The pass-rush specialist was a key member of the Saints’ Super Bowl winning squad last season, but had been released by the team last month.  In the time since he was cut, New Orleans had been working to bring him back though.
McCray rejoins the Saints on a one-year deal where he’ll team up with another former Gator – Alex Brown, formerly of the Chicago Bears – on the defensive line.  New Orleans has positioned themselves to defend their title in 2010.  If they do, another former Florida star will be in line for a ring.  The Saints defensive line should bring back visions of past Gator glory to many Florida fans.
If you were a fan outside of the Big 12 looking in, it was easy to pick Texas’ Colt McCoy as your favorite QB in the conference.  Nothing against Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, but McCoy had that likeability factor about him that made it easy to want him to do well (even if some soured on him during the national championship game).  He played hard and completed a ridiculous percentage of his passes – almost video game like.
When McCoy fell to the third round in the NFL draft this year, many were shocked.  I’m not exactly sure why – where he was picked sounds pretty reasonable to me all things considered – but people were surprised all the same.  Now McCoy has his deal with the Cleveland Browns and is ready to start his NFL career.
The Browns signed McCoy to a four-year deal worth around $5 million – or almost $2 million more than what an individual selected near where he was would normally get.  Cleveland hopes they can get more from McCoy over the course of his career than the did from Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn so pushing a little more money his way wasn’t a tough decision.  With a started nearing the end of his career – Jake Delhomme – it shouldn’t be long before McCoy gets his chance to run the offense.
Not too long from now I’ll have to make my selection of who I want to hang on to in my fantasy football keeper league (Side Note: Don’t join a keeper league.  They suck if you can keep three or more players.  It takes too many years for the tide to shift from the guys who got the league’s top running backs before the first season.  If you finish near the bottom, you’re destined to be there for a while before new great backs start to cycle in.  Then again, I have the #1 pick this offseason.  Welcome to the team Ryan Mathews.)  One of my options is Miles Austin.  I picked up Austin during the season and he did wonders, but there are two reasons I won’t be checking the keeper box next to his name: 1) running backs rule, and 2) Dez Bryant.
Bryant became the first first-round pick to agree to terms thanks to a five-year, $11.8 million deal with the Dallas Cowboys.  If Bryant is half as good as everyone expects him to be, expect that deal to be renegotiated before it’s up.
The former Oklahoma State star will get every opportunity to become a first-team WR early on and should see plenty of passes come his way during his rookie season.  Because of that, Austin may no longer be the #1 WR I’m looking for.  Then again, I’m one of those that finishes near the bottom of the standings every year, so what does it really matter?