In the long history of sports reporting in newspapers, there were two titles of columns which stood the test of time.
One, we’ve dealt with in the past: Jimmy Cannon’s “Nobody Asked Me, But…….”
The other, was headed by “Notes on a Scorecard”, originally penned, I believe, by Alan Malamud, a Los Angeles writer.
There is a strong possibility, he picked it up from from a writer long before his tenure.
In any event, here is our version of “Notes on a Scorecard”.
By far, the biggest story of the past sports weekend was Tiger Woods return to competition at the PNC Championship.
It’s totally incredible that we could even write these words, considering his near-death car crash last February that required multiple surgeries on his right leg.
He struggles to walk and in a father-son tournament, played with his 12-year old son Charlie, whose swing looked like Tiger’s when he was 12.
The father had to ride in a cart and was unable to walk with his son.
But on the course, Tiger impressed other pros who thought he was ready for the TOUR.
Tiger disagreed vehemently.
But you couldn’t dismiss what you saw.
He launched a 350-yard drive and his irons were dead-on.
Remember, after Woods returned from spinal fusion surgery in 2018, he called himself a “walking miracle”.
If so, what do you call this?
Who knows what’s ahead for him, but there’s one thing we’ve learned, never count out Tiger Woods, no matter the circumstance.
NFL head coaches are getting ripped for gambling on 2-point conversions after touchdowns.
This, after teams are now going for it on 4th downs everywhere on the field.
This new-styled aggressiveness is refreshing.
A far cry from the traditional safe decisions to either punt or attempt field goals.
We’re seeing these teams trying to win games, not merely to stay alive, and they’ve been burned in the process.
A couple of weeks ago, the young, new head coach of the Chargers, Brandon Staley, took a chance on keeping possession on a 4th down play.
John Harbaugh of the Ravens has twice elected to go for a 2-point play to win a game in the final seconds instead of kicking the 1-point conversion to tie and extending the game.
The most recent, was last Sunday against the Packers.
He failed both times and the Ravens playoff hopes may be in jeopardy.
Observers say it’s all about analytics, the numbers craze that rules decisions by coaches and managers, that says statistics culled from past events, determine moves made in a game.
Maybe so, but in the case of Staley and Harbaugh, it’s about “feel”, the gut-instinct to decide what to do.
I believe analytics is overrated, because it does not deal with the facts of the moment.
In Harbaugh’s case against Green Bay, he figured it was better to take a chance to win the game then, instead of going into overtime with a back-up quarterback, against Aaron Rodgers.
Harbaugh’s Ravens fell short and lost 31-30.
But I applaud his rationale and courage.
Who ever thought, in 2021, the year after the crippling pandemic of a year ago, that COVID would affect the world of sports more this year than last.
It seems more games have been postponed, many stars of the games have been sidelined, and in the NFL, which had smooth sailing in 2020, schedule changes have been dramatic.
It’s affected the NBA, NHL, and college basketball as well.
We all know it looms significantly greater in all our lives, which is far more important than sports.
You wonder if this is something continual ,we all will have to deal with, in our own fashion, in the foreseeable future.
Some quick hits on the NFL season as it winds down to the final three games:
Right now, the Packers and the Chiefs are playing the best and leading their respective conferences.
If the two wind up meeting in the Super Bowl, it should be a re-match of the first Super Bowl which wasn’t even called by that name.
Back in 1967, when it all started, the game was called, the NFL-AFL Championship.
Let’s me say, there’s a load of games to be played before that match-up becomes etched in stone.
Was Tom Brady shutout last Sunday night by the Saints in Tampa?
Yes, he was.
The Greatest of All Time, which he unquestionably is, becomes a mere mortal when he doesn’t get protection and can’t get into rhythm and loses the timing on his throws.
All quarterbacks are in the same boat.
We’ve seen it before with Brady and all the others.
Making quarterbacks uncomfortable is the name of the game for all defenses.
Urban Meyer didn’t last a full season as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
For some coaches who rely on recruiting, and get the best talent to dominate in the college game, they should stick to that side of football.
Nick Saban did.
In college football, you don’t always play the strongest teams. In the NFL, you can lose to anyone.
In college football, you are king of the hill, and control everything under the sun.
In the NFL, you find out you are never in total control.
For ex-college coach Cliff Kingsbury, he’s learning that a 7-0 start is only effective if you can win down the stretch as well.
The Cardinals were the top team in the league, record-wise, but the second half of the last three years have plagued Kingsbury whose division lead is in peril.
Arizona will make the playoffs, even with a tough final three games, but it could be a quick ouster if they don’t play better.
I’ve never personally been enamored with awards and citations. That’s the way I’m wired and this isn’t a show of false humility.
But I was blown away by the National Sports Media Association selecting me for that organization’s Hall of Fame for my career work.
Virtually everyone of my contemporaries, and you know who they are, have been installed into that distinguished organization’s Hall of Fame.
It includes greats from the past, dating back to it’s start in Salisbury, N.C. 62 years ago.
The Association moved to Winston-Salem in 2017, and this year, I joined four sportswriters, and two broadcasters in being honored.
Since my first love was sportswriting, thanks to my father, it was special to join the following: William Rhoden, who spent 34 years, 26 as a columnist for the New York Times, Rick Telander, who has been a journalist for four decades, primarily as the written voice of Chicago sports, Larry Merchant, former Philadelphia columnist who gained fame as a boxing reporter for 35 years on HBO Sports, and the late Bill Nack of Sports Illustrated, and countless books. With the pandemic ruling the roost in 2020, the NSMA honored the winners from a year ago as well.
One of them was Tom Verducci, the versatile journalist from Sports Illustrated, and the outstanding MLB reporter from Fox Sports.
On the broadcasting side, the two other newest Hall of Famers are Bill King, the erudite and versatile voice of the Raiders, Athletics, and Warriors in the Bay Area, and last but not least, my former colleague at CBS, Jim Nantz, who has graced us with his decades-long descriptions of CBS’ golf broadcasts,
The NCAA basketball tournament, and the NFL.
That translates to The Masters, the Final Four, and the Super Bowl.
It was a blessing to be included with that group, and all who were honored before me.
In the near-future, I will offer thoughts on what it all means to me, and a look back on the major factors which brought me to this point.
In the meantime, this column wishes all our readers, a