Football In The Air Despite 100 Degree Temps
Southeast Texas and Southwestern Louisiana are suffering from a summer heat wave, but the teenagers in this area are getting ready to combat that heat as high school football begins next week with physical exams, handing out the gear, running the mile in less than six minutes and those dreaded two-a-day practices.
The same scenario is true for the area collegiate football players, who will spend even more time than they did in high school football with team meetings, training tables and some keen competition for jobs on the gridiron.
And on the professional level, training camps have already started for most of the National Football League franchises or will begin early this week. Our two Lone Star State teams, the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans, already are working hard at their respective training camp locations.
The Cowboys’ training camp at Oxnard, CA. is bubbling over with enthusiasm as many of the football writers have already anointed them as this year’s Super Bowl team. Of course the players know better than to believe what they read about themselves, but the optimism is high because of their franchise-record 13 regular-season wins last year.
Things aren’t quite so upbeat at the Texans’ training camp in Houston, because they realize the competition is the toughest in their division of the American Football Conference. And they must improve tremendously to be considered as a potential playoff team this winter.
However, most of the media focus so far about the NFL training camps is on the Green Bay Packers and the status of retired quarterback Brett Favre, who informed the team’s front office a couple of weeks ago that he is considering un-retiring.
What makes this situation so fragile is the fact Favre was adamant in March when he decided he was still physically able to start at quarterback in the NFL, but he was mentally and emotionally drained and wanted to go out a winner after leading Green Bay to the NFC championship game last season.
Packer general manager Ted Thompson and Head Coach Mike McCarthy pleaded with Favre to take more time to weigh all the options, but the quarterback said he had made up his mind.
So the Packers geared all of their mini-camps around the idea Favre would be replaced at quarterback by untested backup Aaron Rodgers.
This Korner speculates that what might have been the catalyst that made Favre do an about-face on his retirement plans was the fact that when a player retires, those million dollar paychecks cease, too. And perhaps Favre put a pencil to what money will be coming in and what must go out and hit the panic button.
Favre contacted both Thompson and McCarthy and informed them that he is considering coming back to the Packers and honor his contract which runs through the 2010 season.
The Packers’ front office said that would be fine if Favre goes through the standard procedure of filing for reinstatement with the league, have the request approved by Commissioner Roger Goodell and then he’d have to pass a team physical.
But they added that Aaron Rodgers is the starting quarterback and that Favre would be a back-up quarterback. This didn’t sit well with the 38-year old legend of Lambeau Field who insists the team either release him from his contract or trade him.
At this writing, Favre did not appear at the opening of the Packer’s training camp Sunday morning. However, according to sportsillustrated.com, Thompson had asked Favre for “a couple of days” to resolve the situation.
“I agreed to do that,” Favre told the si.com website. “I don’t want to be a distraction to the Packers, and I hope in the next few days we can come to an agreement that would allow me to continue playing football.”
The agreement Favre was making reference to presumably would be a trade. The New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are two potential trading partners for the Packers and Favre told the website that he would consider a trade to any team.
Former NFL quarterback and CBS and Packer preseason analyst Rich Gannon said, “If Brett goes to a different team, the results will not be pleasant. He’ll struggle. I think it’ll be one year and done—and he won’t be happy with the way it ends.”
Gannon added that besides the logistics of switching teams, the biggest potential challenge for Favre—despite his unshakable confidence—is the difficulty of learning a new system on the fly.
Gannon remembered how Favre struggled in 2006, his first season under McCarthy, posting the third-worst passer rating (72.7) of his career. And that was after participating fully in the team’s off-season program.
KWICKIES…The major league trading deadline comes to a screeching halt Thursday at 3 p.m. There should be plenty of deals being finalized between now and then, but don’t look for the Astros to make a significant trade. They simply don’t have many available players that other teams would want.
The University of Texas will retire the number worn by pitcher Burt Hooten. His former coach Cliff Gustafson said that Hooten was “the best pitcher I ever had.”
And speaking of former Texas Longhorn athletes, wide receiver Limas Sweed signed a four-year contract Sunday with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The 6-4, 212-pound second-round draft pick is expected to give the Steelers an additional downfield threat to go with Santonio Holmes, who led the team with eight touchdown catches last season. Hines Ward, Holmes and Sweed are expected to be the Steelers’ top three receivers.
Orange’s pro golfer Scott Sterling finished one over par in last weekend’s PGA Tour-Canadian Open played on a rain-drenched course in Oakville, Ontario. Sterling had rounds of 72-69-72-72—285 and finished 18 strokes behind first-time tour winner Chez Reavie. Sterling collected a check for $10,600.
Brad Ausmus, the Houston Astros weak-hitting catcher, had a banner day Sunday, going 4-for-4 in the Astros’ impressive 11-6 win at Milwaukee against the hot-hitting Brewers. Ausmus raised his batting average 20 points to .248.
JUST BETWEEN US…It’s really difficult to figure out our Houston Astros. They don’t have much difficulty beating the tougher major league teams, but fall on their faces when a dog like Pittsburgh shows up. The Astros have played against four division leaders this season (Tampa Bay, Boston, the Chicago Cubbies and last weekend Milwaukee) and won each of the series. Let’s see how they fare against Cincinnati, which came to Minute Maid Park for games Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Betcha the ‘Stroes struggle.