Despite my disdain for technology, I'll be chatting live from noon to 1 p.m. today. Look for the link at charlotteobserver.com/chat. We can talk about anything from the Panthers to Michael Jordan to the best latte. Bring your questions.
James Toney's lopsided UFC loss Saturday does not mean boxers can't compete with wrestlers. It means boxers that train in a buffet line can't compete with wrestlers in wrestling. Fine me a mixed martial arts fight in which the combatants don't wrestle. I've seen guys knocked out with a punch before going to the mat, but such results are rare. A boxer in the Octagon is like a sprinter running a marathon. Except that sprinters are in shape. Toney chose not to be.
So the offense was terrible. But some units and some individuals played a fine game Saturday.
The defense again was excellent. It sacked the Tennessee quarterbacks seven times. Second-year defensive end Everette Brown has been unstoppable. He sacked Vince Young on the first series and forced a fumble.
Second-year running back Mike Goodson, the star of the 2009 preseason, returned a kick 91 yards for a touchdown.
Tight end Gary Barnidge took a short pass, busted a tackle, sustained his balance and picked up 50 yards.
Rookie Brandon LaFell made a diving catch.
Brian Witherspoon made what would have been a stunning punt return if he had not stepped out of bounds. It was still entertaining, though.
Quarterbacks threw to Armanti Edwards four times and three of the passes were completed. Armanti lives.
About the defense: If I'm going to believe the offense is as bad as it has looked, I have to believe the defense is as good as it has looked.
Thursday's final exhibition against Pittsburgh Thursday is meaningless, except for players trying to make the team.
So we won't know until Sept. 12, when Carolina opens the season on the road against the New York Giants.
I don't know if the Panthers are ready for the regular season. But fans are.
I was going to send, like, 25 Tweets tonight. But my computer won't let me. I have witnesses. In fact, I had to solicit the services of a trained Bank of America Stadium pressbox professional to make my computer behave. But it's still slow. Thus, no Tweets.
In fact, Carolina's offense is more efficient than my laptop.
Thanks for listening.
UFC 118 is intruiging because it will match a boxer, James Toney, against a wrestler, and a legend, Randy Couture. They're about the same size,
I'm pulling for the boxer. I still love the sport even though it has more organizational problems than the EpiCentre. But Toney is a 7-1 underdog in Boston Saturday night, and should be.
Most fights end up on the ground and if Couture convinces Toney to join him there Couture will win. Boxers train to hit and avoid being hit. Toney has won 72 professional fights. But he never prepared to avoid having his arm twisted, his knee dislodged or his neck caught beneath a forearm.
Toney's only chance is to hit Couture before they hit the canvas. Couture, at 47 five years older than Toney, has never fought anybody with Toney's punching power. Toney will wear lightly padded mixed martial arts gloves and not 12-ounce boxing gloves, so the impact will be greatly enhanced.
But if Toney makes a mistake -- if he allows his arm to dangle or his feet to become tangled or fails to sustain his balance -- Couture forces him to submit.
Dana White, who runs UFC, is a former boxer. We talked several times when he brought his show to Charlotte. Not surprisingly, White finds mixed martial arts more exciting, and predicts an easy Couture victory.
White probably is right. I've never paid to watch a pay-per-view UFC card. But if I weren't at the Carolina Panthers-Tennessee exhibition Saturday, I would be tempted.
Good luck, James Toney. You will need it.
I've taken every imaginable route to Chapel Hill, and no matter which way I go, I can always tell I'm there when I reach the Moral High Ground.
Chapel Hill is a wonderful little town, but sanctimony pervades it. The Tar Heel faithful don't think they're superior. They know it.
They will view the mess in which their football program finds itself as an unpleasant little fluke, a subject to be discussed and dismissed over chardonnay and a splendid mango and wild rice salad.
But the allegations are so serious that the Tar Heels might be forced to surrender their BCS titles.
Here's how serious the allegations are: The SEC is considering inviting North Carolina to join.
Finally got around to reading the Foxsports.com report that John Fox was No. 1 on the NFL hot seat, meaning that Fox is the head coach most likely to be canned.
I don't know if Fox will coach the Carolina Panthers in 2011. I'll be surprised if he is. But if Fox goes, it's as likely to be his idea as it is the team's. Engines wear out, knees wear out and relationships wear out, too. The relationship between Fox and the Panthers probably is in danger of expiring.
The NFL, however, thinks more highly of Fox than fans of the Panthers do. I can easily see him coaching the New York Giants or Cleveland Browns next season.
We like to speculate. I'm speculating about New York and Cleveland. Last summer somebody at ESPN speculated that the Panthers were one of the teams most likely to sign Michael Vick. The Panthers were more likely to go undefeated than they were to sign Vick. But somebody said it so somebody believed it.
Carolina did not extend Fox's contract after last season. They didn't extend the contract of any assistant coach or of general manager Marty Hurney, either. Thus, there was speculation, some of it local, that Hurney was gone. Hurney, however, has a job with the Panthers as long as he chooses to.
If Carolina has another washed out 8-8 season like the last one, I am certain that Fox and the Panthers will part, and I suspect the parting will be mutual.
So is Fox on Carolina's hot seat or is Carolina on Fox's?
In this case, the term doesn't apply.
The Charlotte 49ers have their first football opponent. They'll play Morehead State, the school that gave us former quarterback and current NFL analyst Phil Simms, in 2013.
The 49ers will play the Eagles at Jayne Stadium in Morehead, Kent. If I'm still writing a column, if I'm still living in Charlotte, I'm there. I'll either fly into Morehead-Rowan County Airport, which can accommodate any kind of aircraft up to a four-seater, or I'll make the six-hour, 382-mile drive.
The Eagles play in the Pioneer Football League, which includes Davidson, the Campbell Camels, Butler and Dayton.
Scheduling an opponent is important because the match-up is real, it's tangible, it's a thing you can point to and put your finger on. For years, or is it a decade, Niner Nation has heard it isn't worthy of football. The home and home agreement with the Eagles -- Morehead State will play in Charlotte in 2014 -- proves the 49ers are.
See you in Kentucky.
When the NFL goes to an 18-game regular season schedule, fans will complain and the media will become indignant. The success of the league is legendary. So why change?
Because unlike Major League Baseball, where the creation of the designated hitter still is subject to debate, the NFL has been a testament to change. Remember when the quarterback wasn’t protected, when defensive backs could use their hands, when the season consisted of 14 games or of only 12?
I do, but the memory is as hazy as life before compact discs or the Internet.
If I were making the call, I’d keep the regular season at 16 and eliminate two preseason games. Exhibitions are a waste of money for fans and an unnecessary risk for established players. To get hurt in a game that doesn’t count in the standings is how the cliche insult to injury was established. An even greater insult is to charge fans regular season prices to watch a glorified practice.
NFL people have told me that they need four games to evaluate players. They’ll adjust.
The first face I saw when I heard the league was contemplating the 18-game schedule was that of former Carolina Panther fullback Brad Hoover. Hoover made his living stuffing defenders who were much bigger than he was. The human body was not designed to accommodate such a pounding, not even Hoover’s.
Brad played from 2000-09. Had the Panthers played 18 games during his tenure, he would have been cut, or forced to retire, long before the 2010 season. His damaged body would have insisted.
Adding two games will shorten careers and probably lengthen rosters. More players will be lost to injury. Quality reserves will be required to replace them.
You can never be too rich, and as much money as the NFL makes, it can make more. Exhibitions often don’t sell out and some are blacked out. Regular season games generate more money for the league and more money for the players¸ players that do not receive a fat game check for preseason work.
Those lucrative game checks could have an impact on the labor impasse that management and labor rapidly are approaching.
The players won the last round of negotiations. To keep the peace, owners capitulated. Don’t think they wanted to send retiring commissioner Pete Tagliabue out with a gold watch and a lockout.
The owners will not capitulate this time. Owners in effect will ask players to give back some of what they won. This is like asking a country that won a piece of land to return it. Players will dig in. Negotiations will turn nasty.
And a sport that has become so staggeringly popular that most of us can’t even tell you who No. 2 is will suffer. As much as we love the NFL, we can live a full life without it. Such a life would be painful; I can’t imagine the fall and winter without football, or the summer without thinking about football.
But, technically, we would survive. We’d fill our time with other pursuits.
The NFL prefers that we not be aware of this. But if there is lockout and players no longer play we will get by.
Ask Major League Baseball, whose post-strike motto was, and is: Plenty of good seats are available.
If two additional game checks appease players and avoid a labor dispute then, sure, go to 18 games.
Many of us will complain. But we’ll complain much more loudly if our beloved NFL is taken away.
I read the Observer's comics page. If I don't get to the comics in the morning, I read them later. There are certain comics I require, among them Pearls Before Swine (the best), Dilbert, Peanuts and Get Fuzzy, and to a lesser extent Doonesbury, Frazz and For Better Or For Worse,
And F Minus. F Minus is so outrageous and unconventional it always has a chance to make me laugh out loud.
No more. F Minus is gone. It was jettisoned, put on waivers, cut, banished and kicked out. Replacing it is Dustin. I have no idea if Dustin is any good. But Rex Morgan, Judge Parker, Hagar the Horrible, Family Circus, Garfield, Beetle Bailey and Dennis the Menace are not. Cut them.
Or cut Cathy. If all I knew about women was what I read in Cathy, I'd spend my life writing on message boards and calling radio talk shows because I would never get a date.
F Minus is original and daring. These are qualities any comics page, or newspaper, should seek.