Week 10 Preview: Old Friends, New Enemies
Most people who play sports in a travel league as well as their schools growing up know what I’m talking about. The kids you play with for months and build a relationship with, are all the sudden on the other side of the net, field, rink, or court. Some competitors are able to suppress the emotion that comes with playing against a familiar face, but there’s no doubt, there is emotion. Now imagine this is how you make your living. You’re not just playing for the love of the game, but to keep food on your table and your children in clothes (ok, expensive clothes, but clothes nonetheless). Anyone who says it’s just “another game on the schedule” is doing their best to keep these feelings at bay. This week, we’ve got some interesting reunions to ponder.
John Fox Returns to Carolina
On December 31, 2010, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson announced he would not be renewing John Fox’s contract. His eight-year career with the Panthers was at an end. Outcast by the Panthers, Fox took his talents to Denver. It’s time to return to Carolina. There is no better analogy than that nerd everyone made fun of growing up coming back to their high school reunion in a Ferrari with a supermodel (Peyton Manning is definitely the supermodel). While the Broncos are 5-3, they’ve had a vicious schedule and are really just starting to click, winning their last three straight. The Panthers on the other hand are trying to discover what kind of football team they are. The running game has been dominated by Cam Newton (even though they’re paying two running backs around $80M in the next five years). All signs point to Fox rolling into Carolina and taking care of his former team. It’ll be on Cam to stop the homecoming party.
Pete Carroll hosts Mark Sanchez
I’m sure Pete Carroll, at one point, sat in Sanchez’s living room and told him how amazing he was, how he would be the best quarterback USC had ever seen, and all that other stuff that gets a recruit to sign a letter of intent. This meeting will be quite different. Before Sanchez entered the draft, Carroll told him to stay and develop his game more, that he needed another year. Sanchez swatted him away like a fly, got drafted by the Jets in the top-10, and started dating supermodels. Well, his coach may have been right, as Sanchez finds himself on the not-hot-but-sizzling seat these days in New York. Now he has to travel across the country to face a team coached by the one man who knows his game better than anyone. Carroll also has a solid defense to back up his schemes. This could easily turn into an “I told you so, kid” game for Carroll. If Sanchez does throw two picks (quite possible) and the Jets lose due to their lack of offensive production, Timmy the Tebower’s shadow is going to continue to grow over Mark’s shoulder.
Todd Haley Hosts Kansas City Chiefs
Haley had a rough go in KC, to say the least. His last memory of their sidelines was personally getting an unsportsmanlike penalty that led the Jets to drive down the field, and continue on to blow out the Chiefs. His frustration clearly showing, he was relieved of his coaching duties after the game. This year, Haley found himself heading back to his roots. He grew up outside of Pittsburgh and returned to be the Offensive Coordinator for Big Ben and the Steelers. After some early clashes with the star QB, Haley and Roethlisberger can be seen holding hands around Pittsburgh, skipping about. Maybe not, but their offense has been that good lately. They’ve won 3 in a row and have scored 24+ points in every game but one. Oh, they’re also 3-0 at home. Haley is looking at this reunion like a nice strip steak flown in from Kansas City, delicious till the last morsel.
Bonus: Spogo Fan Mail
I received an email from a fan (who am I kidding, I don’t have many fans, it was my mother) asking me to share a YouTube video that has gone viral about a football player named Sam Gordon, she (yes, she) is currently on rivals.com as the #1 prospect for the class of 2021 (maybe?). She benches 22.5 pounds, has a 3 and 1/2-inch vertical leap, and runs the 40-yard dash in 11 seconds (flat). Yes, she is a monster. Apparently, she also plays defense. Which makes sense, because she’s got better hair than Clay Matthews. Check it out.