I've been a proponent of Jake Delhomme all season. There have been times when I've been the proponent of Jake Delhomme. It was lonely out there.
And then Jake came back and played well against Arizona in Carolina's upset victory and well enough in Carolina's road loss to New Orleans.
But there is no defense for what happened in the first half against the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets Sunday.
Steve Smith went deep against cornerback superstar Darrelle Revis and beat him by two steps down the right sideline. Delhomme's pass, however, was three steps short. There was no pressure. Jake just underthrew the pass badly and Revis was in position to pick it off.
Late in the second quarter, Delhomme threw high and wide to Muhsin Muhammad, who was wide open, and badly missed him. Under pressure on the next play he threw high again and was interecepted by safety Kerry Rhodes. One minute, 48 seconds remained, and the Jets scored on their next possession to take a 14-3 lead.
Jake's first interception bounced off the foot of Steve Smith. Jake was anticipating a slant on third and nine. Smith had something else planned. The ball hit him in a bad place, the foot, and into the hands of Revis, who brought the ball into the end zone.
To sum up, Jake was abysmal. But if Fox had another quarterback he believed in, John Fox would have played that quarterback more than a month ago.
One big difference between being at The Meadowlands and watching this game on TV is that you can change channels.
Jake finished the half 4 of 8 for 24 yards and three interceptions.
What's wrong with ACC football? Is it the coaches, the crowds, the facilities, the recruits, the lack of tradition? Is it that the administrations and the fans care so much about basketball they don't have enough left for football?
If Friday was Black Friday for shoppers, Saturday was Black Saturday for the ACC.
Everytime I write about the superiority of SEC football, I hear from ACC fans who want to argue. What's left to say?
South Carolina 34, Clemson 17.
Georgia 30, Georgia Tech 24.
Florida 37, Florida State 10.
Clemson and Georgia Tech will play for the ACC championship. On the way the Tigers and Yellow Jackets were beaten by a fair to middling SEC team. Do you think Wake Forest or Boston College is going to beat Florida or Alabama?
The SEC's product is singular. So is the ACC's -- in hoops.
I was passing through security at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport on my way to Newark Saturday. An older guy in a wheelchair was in the line next to mine -- the line you have to have pull to get into -- and I asked him, and the woman who pushed him, if they wanted to cut in front of me. They thanked me and did.
A flight attendant whom I did not invite to cut in front of me also tried to as our lines came together. She was short, middle-aged and blonde, and we were about to collide.
I like sarcasm so I said, "You can cut in front of me if you want."
She said, "I know I can. I can go up there, too."
She pointed to the front of the adjoining line.
I said, "I've never heard of that. You can in front of anybody you choose?"
She smiled and said, "I'm crew. A plane can't go anywhere without the crew."
I said, "Even with the crew the plane sometimes doesn't go anywhere."
She cut in front of me and went through security. Her high heels set off the metal detector so she had to go through it again.
I need to get my NFL picks in before the games begin, so:
Green Bay 6 over DETROIT
DALLAS 7 over Oakland. This one is interesting. The Cowboys are a 13 1/2 point favorite. I don't the Cowboys could score 13 points if they were on the field by themselves.
New York Giants 2 over DENVER
Just ran the slowest Turkey Trot of my life, and still feel good about it.
Have a great Thanksgiving, and thanks for reading.
Everybody who spends time around Jimmie Johnson likes him. He's friendly and doesn't make a big deal out of who he is or what he has accomplished.
Jimmie grew up in a trailer park, an endearing little piece of history that goes against his courteous corporate image. But when I see him, and listen to him, I don't get a whiff of a trailer. Yet when I talk to another Johnson, Junior Johnson, I always look behind him to see how close the revenuers are. History clings to him.
Jimmie, a four-time champion, is not the problem with his sport. But his sport has serious problems, and these problems get worse every year.
The foremost of them is that the races are boring. Defenders of the sport, not all of whom are in the media, point to the multiple winners this season. Look how diverse we are. You never know what's going to happen next.
If the races aren't much fun to watch, what difference does it make who wins, unless it's Dale Earnhardt Jr., and he wins as often as I do.
TV ratings are down. Attendance is inconsistent. There will be Thanksgiving Day football touch football games that attract as many spectators as the NASCAR Banking 500 did last month at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
NASCAR made a decision years ago. It decided to abandon the Southeast and South and appeal to fans nationally. The strategy was a short-term success. NASCAR became the hot new sport. Fans were sick of politics, sick of unions, and here was a sport in which the athletes played nice and a work stoppage was unfathomable. This was a ma and pa enterprise. There were no unions.
So, out with the South and in with Chicago and Kansas City.
Problem is, the new fans haven't stayed. They tried NASCAR the way they'd try a new restaurant and, after a few meals, they moved on. They failed to find compelling personalities to identify with. They failed to find the feuds that fuel our most popular sports (such as the NFL and the New York Giants versus Philadelphia, Dallas versus the world and Cleveland versus itself).
The up close and personal side by side racing for which the sport is known feels like history.
Ma, tell us about how exciting the racing was in the old days, before the Car of Tomorrow.
Fans in the Southeast and South, meanwhile, fans that for decades kept the sport afloat, felt cheated. After all their support, they lost races to the newcomers and, in some cases, they lost race tracks. When NASCAR abandoned them, they abandoned NASCAR.
I hear less talk about NASCAR in Charlotte than I have in the 28 years I've lived here. I'm talking about restaurants, bars, parties, in the gym, at work., everywhere that people talk.
Yes, my friends have always been more likely to talk about the NFL than about racing. But always there was somebody who would talk about meeting Dale Earnhardt in a convenience store near Lake Norman, and being in awe. Or watching a race just to see what the 3 car would do in the last 10 laps. Or they'd ask me which race they ought to see first, and where they ought to sit.
The only time NASCAR comes up now is when I ask why they stopped talking about it.
Steve Smith, who scored Carolina's first touchdown in the seven-point loss to Miami Thursday, took his first hit before the game began.
He was on his way from the team hotel to the stadium when his car was whacked on the driver's side by another driver, a guy who said he, too, was on his way to the game.
Smith says he could barely open the door.
The other driver asked him if he was going to call the cops.
"Uh, YES," Smith told him.
Smith said that because they were in a nice neighborhood the police came right away. In his Los Angeles neighborhood, more time was required.
Smith said the fan handled the collision respectfully, and that he did, too.
"But I feel bad for his insurance," Smith says.
They parted on good terms, says Smith.
But he says he told the other driver, "If I drop a pass, it's your fault."
I haven't watched the Julius Peppers take on Jake Long on every play. But I've watched most of their encounters. And Long, a second-year tackle out of Michigan who was the No. 1 pick in the draft, is handling him.
Long occasionally gets help; when Peppers spun off Long and moved outside, tight end Kory Sperry chipped him. But on most occasions, it's Long versus Peppers. On one play, Peppers rushed from the outside. Long knocked him down, fell on him and stayed on top of him until the play was about to end.
With 3:57 remaining, it's been a Long first half for Peppers.
Third and one from their 41 and the Panthers go deep along the left side to Steve Smith. The play doesn't work, but teams with any confidence have to go deep when opponents don't expect them to.
Smith gets single converage against rookie cornerback Sean Smith, who like Smith played at Utah. Steve Smith beats Sean and Delhomme's pass looks right there. Smith reaches out and can't quite catch up. The ball goes off his fingertips.
The Panthers opened the game by driving to the Miami 7. It was third down, and Jake Delhomme dropped back to pass.
I was trying to guess the play. Steve Smith was engaged in a nice little war with rookie cornerback Vontae Davis. Muhsin Muhammad had just dropped a pass. So now what? Would Delhomme go to Smith? Back to Muhammad? Officially begin Year One of the Dwayne Jarrett era?
I figured Delhomme would hand off to DeAngelo Williams.
I was wrong. The automatic draw play on third down apparently has been sacked. Delhomme also was. He dropped back to pass, the Dolphins converged and Joey Porter took him down.