Happy NFL Draft Day to everyone. All of the draft excitement has caused us to fail in reminding you about our weekly Friday mailbag — and there have already been some draft overview questions submitted — but there's still room.
From the newly remodeled "7-Up Stinks Studios" here in scenic Hamilton County, here we go...
And we're here
The 5-at-10 loves the draft. You know this.
The 5-at-10 is especially giddy about today's draft. You know this, too.
Here are the five things to watch today:
— Panthers hold the cards: Carolina has the No. 1 pick, and there are reports the Panthers are looking at four players. Really. They've had months to determine who they want, and now in the final hours, they have narrowed it down to four guys. No. No sir. There's a better chance you can convince the 5-at-10 that 7-Up is cool than you can of convincing us that the Panthers don't know who they want. All this talk is designed to inspire talks of possible trades. And yet another reason why the draft is boss.
— The intrigue starts at No. 3 with Buffalo and hits a fevered pitch at No. 5 (Arizona) and No. 6 (Cleveland). The Bills and the Browns have a lot of positions of need; the Cards want either a QB (Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert) or a pass rusher (Von Miller). Teams that want a shot at Julio Jones (the 5-at-10 would love for a fringe Super Bowl contender like the Colts or the Falcons to make a blockbuster offer and get to No. 6 to go after Jones) or Patrick Peterson will have to go through one of these three teams with top-6 picks.
— The Redskins have the 10th pick and they covet Jones, too. If he's gone, and there's not a splashy name out there, Washington may look to deal.
— When does the quarterback run start? Barring a major shock, Newton will be the No. 1 overall pick. (Sidenote: That means the starting QBs in the NFC South are set for a while with Newton in Carolina, Drew Brees in N.O., Matt Ryan in the ATL and Josh Freeman in Tampa. That's a stacked lineup right there.) Gabbert will be gone no later than Washington at No. 10. After that there a big push on pass rushers and pass protectors, until the mid-20s when Seattle will look hard at a quarterback. Then the late-charging Christian Ponder and others may sneak into the first round, and there could be a bunch of late-evening trades as teams try to get back into the first round. Names like Ponder, Andy Dalton, Jake Locker and Colin Kaepernick have been mentioned as possible late first-round guys.
— Who's going to make the panic move? You know it's coming, the 'desperation trade' or the 'reach pick' for a name more than a need. Plus, with the absence of real football news for some of the higher-profile NFL owners — guys who have abnormally large egos and have been uncomfortably out of the limelight for the last six weeks — and the unknown of the coming days means a Jerry Jones or a Dan Snyder, et al, may feel the need to make their presence known. And you know you can never count out our man Al Davis and the Raiders, who do not have a pick today, but the day isn't over yet.
Even more love for the draft
The PATCO Speedline (as named by Chas9) Draft Challenge has taken shape nicely. We'll post all the entries later this afternoon. There's still time to enter — send us (or post in the comments below) the players you think will be the first picks for Carolina, Tennessee, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Oakland. One point for each pick and we'll discuss tie-breakers if needed tomorrow.
The prizes will be three-fold (for the top three finishers, with the winner getting to pick), and we'll announce them later today.
Stay tuned. (We're still waiting for the picks from some regulars such as WC777 and Kburg, and we have to round up some radio guys like Quake, Cowboy Joe — he's a cowboy, after all — and Chris Goforth, who we'll join on his show around 2 p.m. today on 1310 AM. Plus, we don't have an entry from Chas9, the guy who named the contest. So it goes.)
From the files of "If the 5-at-10 ruled the world..." know that NFL draft day would be the seventh nationally recognized holiday (joining New Year's Day, Memorial, July 4th, Labor, Thanksgiving and Christmas) and fern bars would be required to have two-for-one deals on Budweiser products and appetizers today through Saturday.We're looking at you Appleby's and you Chili's. As Uncle Buck would say, "It's in the books."
When Game 6 is really Game 7
Tonight, the Atlanta Hawks can send the Orlando Magic and superstar Dwight Howard (and his ultra dreamy biceps, right, BIspy4?) to the offseason. The Hawks are at home for tonight's Game 6, but if there's a decisive Game 7 it would be back in Orlando. (Sidenote: You know how player nicknames have the default First Letter-First Syllable — i.e. A-Rod or D-Wade; seems like cities have embraced the first three letters — ATL, OKC, NYC, etc. Not sayin' anything, just sayin.')
After last night's escape act (the Spurs needed a buzzer-beating 3 from rookie Gary Neal to force OT before sealing it in the extra session), San Antonio goes back to Memphis for a Game 6 that could seal the Grizz's improbable upset of the top-seeded Spurs.
In each case, if the lower-seeded teams — Hawks and Grizz — fail to handle their bid-ness at home, it's hard to see them handling it in a Game 7 on the road.
In other NBA news, the 5-at-10 is still on the front row of the Thunder bandwagon and Kevin Durant's 41 points that helped to eliminate the Nuggets last night did nothing to deter that. Any suggestions on a nickname for Kevin Durant?
McDowell's time may be up in the Braves dugout
Atlanta pitching coach Roger McDowell has issued a public apology for making homophobic comments and allegedly threatening a fan at San Francisco this weekend.
"I am deeply sorry that I responded to the heckling fans in San Francisco on Saturday," McDowell was quoted as saying in a statement. "I apologize to everyone for my actions."
McDowell apparently made some jokes and gestures to a few fans before Saturday's game at AT&T Park. This is a family-oriented-Intertube-web-based-sports column so we won't repeat McDowell's Mr. Trying-To-Be-A-Funny-Guy routine. Justin Quinn, 33 and who was near the scene with his twin 9-year-old daughters, reminded McDowell there were children around, to which McDowell allegedly said, "Children don't belong at the ballpark," and allegedly asked Quinn, "How much are your teeth worth to you?"
Not good. McDowell's John Rocker-approach to public speaking aside (mistakes happen, and not to excuse remarks that could have been inappropriate and/or insensitive, there's no way to know the backstory or the exchange between the groups), the aftermath and follow-up is far from good.
"Children don't belong at the ballpark?" Wow, the PR guys at the MLB offices in NYC who have been dealing with sagging numbers and trying to revive the game of baseball in the next generation surely loved to hear that one-liner. Threatening a father of two — in front of his daughters — who probably dropped at least a C-note to take his family of four to the park is not the best marketing plan.
Hey, we've all made speaking mistakes and McDowell's human and deserves the right to apologize and be forgiven. But working in the major leagues and having a high six-figure salary are not rights, either, and making big-time mistakes when you're a public figure normally have big-time consequences. Plus, re-reading his public apology, McDowell says he's "deeply sorry that [he] responded to the heckling fans." Huh?
In today's culture, the homophobic slurs are certainly a fireable offense, but if McDowell did threaten Quinn (in front of his kids, mind you), here's hoping they terminate him before the plane touched down at Hartsfield and make him direct traffic on the northside of 285 between 3:30-6 p.m. for the rest of the baseball season.
This and that
— As far as actual, on-the-field Braves' news, the boys won five of their last six on the West Coast with a 7-0 win over San Diego. Atlanta faces the Cards on Friday at Turner Field in the first of three-game series. (Sidenote: It'd be tough to a Padres fan, you know? Every three or four years, they look competitive for a season, then they deal away their good players. Small-market baseball fans are like modern-day sports martyrs. Here's to you Padres fan and Royals supporter and Pirates backer. Well done. Now send your best players to L.A., NYC and Boston.)
— NCAA president Mark Emmert is reportedly going to address today the NCAA taking a bigger role in supervising the bowl games and the bowl process. YAY. That's such as relief, because the NCAA has done SUCH a GREAT job of managing its own affairs — and supervising its big-time programs — that there's no way this can't be a good idea. Right? (Did the sarcasm come through effectively there? Sometimes the 5-at-10 wonders about that.)
— Judges freezing lockouts and appeals and all the NFL's legal machinations make the 5-at-10's head hurt. Two final thoughts from there: First, please let the NBA owners and players — two sides that appear miles apart heading into a work-stoppage deal in July — pat attention to this labor breakdown; Two, thank goodness for the draft. Don't know if you know this or not, but the 5-at-10 loves the draft. Seriously.
Until tomorrow and the our mailbag.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...