I think it is ok for me to cheer for Russell Wilson, for now…

NFL Conference Championship Sunday I found myself in a struggle. Here I was, a die-hard San Francisco 49ers Faithful contemplating doing the unthinkable-cheering for the rival Seattle Seahawks.

Ok, let me back up. That particular Sunday, I was actually cheering for the Green Bay Packers. As a Faithful, there was no way I could cheer for our rival even if they had only recently become that. A rival is a rival and I draw the line deep in the dirt when rivalries are involved. I cheered against Seattle in the Superbowl last year and I have cheered against them all season. It was the right thing to do.

That Sunday, I left the house in confidence. I had been spending some time with my nephew and it was time to take him home. I know what you are thinking. She left during the game? Yes I did but any real football fan will have the NFL Mobile app on their phone so they always have access to the game. However, this particular time I did not even bother to turn the game on so I could listen. Green Bay had a 12 point lead with about five minutes left, I think. I was confident they were going to win and I could celebrate Seattle watching the big game at home, like us. You know payback for last year’s NFC Championship game. You still do not want to get me started on that.

I got out of my car at my brother’s, left my phone inside and got my nephew’s belongings. After chatting inside for about 15 minutes, it was back to the car to tune in to Green Bay’s celebration of their win and return trip to the Superbowl. WRONG!! Surely my eyes were deceiving me. They had to be! I know the score did not say Green Bay 19-Seattle 22. Ummm, what? What happened?? I was shocked, stunned and beffuddled. How could this have possibly happened??

Two words. Two words I am very familiar with. Russell. Wilson.

Early in the second half, in an ominous moment of foreshadowing, I sent out a tweet. It said, “Packers bet not let up. Never count out Russell Wilson! #GBvsSEA.” You see. I knew what Wilson was capable of. I saw his capabilities up close and personal when he was the starting quarterback of my beloved North Carolina State University Wolfpack. There were games where our wins could single handedly be contributed to Wilson’s uncanny nack for making things happen on the field. As long as he was behind center, we had a chance. Always. When his path to the NFL took him from Raleigh to Wisconsin, it was the same thing over and over. Wilson making things happen when it almost seemed impossible to get it done. So never count him out.

My return trip from my brother’s house included a stop at the grocery store. This is where NFL Mobile is clutch. The stop was necessary and me watching the game was definite. So there I was, in the grocery store, with a basket and my phone tuned into the game. Yes, the actual game. I pretty much got nothing accomplished. I should have just went straight home. I was by the salads when it happened. The legend of Russell Wilson grew by miles. Green Bay had tied the game right before the end of regulation to send the NFC Championship into overtime. Seattle won the coin toss and could punch their ticket to the Superbowl if they scored a TD on their first possession. Well, yep, that is exactly what they did. Wilson dropped one of the prettiest dimes I have seen him thrown perfectly into the waiting arms and hands of Jerome Kearse who then landed in the endzone to give Seattle a chance at being the first repeat champions since 2004.

Again, I was shocked, stunned and befuddled. How could this be? What happened? Oh, Russell Wilson happened. As I surprisingly rushed out of the store to get home and watch post-game coverage, all I could do was shake my head. Then it happened. En route, I found out that Wilson cried during his post game interview while giving God the credit. And everything over here changed.

I could no longer fight the love I have for my fellow Wolfpacker. Everyone who knows me well knows I am all the way loyal to my Wolfpack. However, when it comes to professional football, my loyalties lie with my teams first, Peyton Manning second then my Wolfpackers third. Sometimes, I will pull for my fellow Wolfpackers when they are playing against Peyton if the win is needed to help boost their possible playoff appearance. No matter what though, I pull for no one over my 9ers or Panthers. So imagine the disloyalty I felt to my 9ers when I begin to feel happy for Wilson. This was not suppose to happen or was it? Could I possibly be happy for Wilson without being happy for his team? Eh. Not really but you catch the drift.

Ever since he stepped foot onto the campus at North Carolina State, Wilson has exemplified what it means to be a champion. He has proven himself to be humble, a great role model, a leader, an inspiration and one of the top quarterbacks in the league. As a Wolfpacker and a person who just generally likes to see good guys win, it is almost impossible not to cheer for him and want to see him succeed.

With that said, Go Russell!!!! Go get that second ring! This 49er Faithful is rooting for you! For now….

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Free Agent Frenzy

For two days straight, my phone has been blowin up.

A buzz here. A buzz there. A notification here. A notification there. A retweet here. A retweet there. Everywhere a tweet, tweet. It feels like my phone buzzes every other minute. Welcome to the frenzy that is NFL Free Agency.

Donte Whitner. His release HURT!! For real. DeMarcus Ware. Darrelle Revis. Antoine Bethea. Jared Allen. Julius Peppers. LaMarr Woodley. Aqib Talib. T.J. Ward. Karlos Dansby. This would make a nice Pro Bowl roster.

And then, the hammer dropped and everyone in North Carolina and South Carolina heard the news that they did not want to hear, the Carolina Panthers would start training camp in July without all-time leading receiver and arguably the franchise’s most famous cat, Steve Smith. The rumblings began at the NFL Combine when Panthers General Manager, Dave Gettleman, offered a noncommittal response when asked about Smith’s future with the team. Many were stunned by the response including Smith. In 2012, Smith signed a three year extension which many felt would guarantee that Smith would retire as a Panther. That was what Smith wanted and at the time it was what the Panthers wanted. Loyalty seemed to be at the root of the deal as everyone walked away from the table happy. Unfortunately, loyalty does not always rise up from its hole each year. And loyalty does not score touchdowns. And loyalty does not guarantee good seasons. And loyalty does not guarantee championships.

Buzz. 9:05am. Alert from SportsCenter. Panthers to cut WR Steve Smith Thursday, a league source told NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Once Schefter tweets it/says it, you can bank on it.

Wow. I was in Bank of America Stadium to witness Smitty’s last game as a Panther.

This part of the NFL just makes me go ugh. I have dissected this move from many angles. Smith is 34 years old. He is 5’9(not that his height has ever been an issue but short WR’s are becoming less common). He is coming off a knee injury. The Panthers would potentially have to pay him seven million in 2014. They need to get under the salary cap. Yada yada yada. Everyone will scream it is business and move on. To me, I do not believe this is JUST a business move. I think this was personal. Sure we do not know what kind of year Smith may have next year. He may have a horrible year. He may have a great year. He may have even decided to retire. That is just the nature of sports. You can make all the predictions you want but none of us know what will really happen during the year. Right? Or are you trying to tell me you picked Seattle to win the SuperBowl. Anywho, back to Smitty. Regardless of what is going to happen, the Panthers will be paying Smith three million dollars. It is part of the guaranteed money that he got for his extension. So, they essentially saved four million dollars which I hope they use to spend on another wide receiver because I am not sure that Tavarres King, Martin McNutt or R.J. Webb can step in and fill Smith’s void. Oh and did I mention that the four million saved does not really put a dent in the cap space needed.

Perhaps the most telling sign that this is a personal move is the fact that the Panthers never asked Smith to restructure his contract. Let that sink in. Business or personal? You be the judge.

The past two days have been a doozy. I am almost positive that there have never been so many big name players released at one time. For as much as I love the game, I absolutely hate this part of the “business” where feelings have to be separated from reality in order to save dollars. But I have learned to accept it. If the 9ers can trade football royalty in the form of Jerry Rice and Joe Montana then anything is possible. Here is to hoping today is not as hectic. I have work to do and I do not need any distractions!

Until next time…TOODELLS.

Follow me on Twitter @Kassienette

 

P.S. To Smitty….thank you for your dedication, loyalty and hardwork. As a Panthers fan, it has been a joy to watch you play the past 13 years for the blue and black. May GOD bless you abundantly in your next chapter.

 

#NoNewFans

I am still kicking myself for not making the drive down to Charlotte last night. I had to listen to my body though. To say I was tired would have been an understatement. It is at times like these that I need a chauffeur. Any takers??

Last night was a BIG night for my Carolina Panthers. No we did not lock up home field advantage for the playoffs. No we did not clinch the division. No we did not clinch a playoff spot. What we did do last night is FINISH. On Monday night. Against a Tom Brady led squad. We FINISHED. Something we have struggled to do the last three years. Last night was a statement game in the Queen City. A chance to show the world that the Panthers, at least for this season, are a force to be reckoned with. And to think, just seven weeks ago, A LOT of you were calling young Cameron Newton a fluke and wanted head coach Ron Rivera fired. Now you all are all over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram bragging about how you have been a fan since day one. Blah. Blah. Blah.

{Source: Google Images}
{Source: Google Images}

Let me tell you this. A REAL FAN NEVER gives up on their team. Sure, a real fan can criticize to some extent. A real fan can wonder aloud why a certain play was called. A real fan can even turn the channel when things get a little too rough. You have to turn back though. Do not be THAT fan. However, REAL FANS do not give up on their team. Especially after a 1 and 3 start. Four games into the season I saw it happen. A REAL FAN is always an optimist even if the reality staring you in the face is inevitable. You have to believe in your team at all times. Through the good and the bad. REAL CAROLINA PANTHER FANS should have never given up on this team. Helloooooo. Do you know who is one the roster?? Cameron Newton. Steve Smith. Luke Keuchly. Thomas Davis. Mike Tolbert. Graham Gano. Brandon LaFell. DeAngelo Williams. Greg Olsen. Charles Johnson. Do I even need to continue?? With that kind of talent a turnaround was bound to happen at some point. Did I expect it to happen the way that it did? Nope but we have seen it happen before. Remember the 2011 New York Midgets, I mean Giants, who entered the playoffs with a 9-7 record and went on to win the Super Bowl. Yeah. Any Given Sunday. Or Monday. Or Thursday.

Last night I screamed, whooped and talked trash. You know, what I normally do during games. Then it happened. Someone tried it. They came after my FANHOOD. Big mistake. Most of you know how I am about my FANHOOD but for those of you who do not, I will provide you with the scoop. My peeps love to joke me all the time about my FANHOOD because I am a fan of two teams. They tell me I can not be a fan of two teams. It does not work that way. Ask me if I care though :-}? My life. My rules. My FANHOOD. However, for those followers who do not know how this came about, here it goes…

10.26.93. The day the NFL announced Charlotte would be receiving a team. I remember sitting in my living room watching the presser. I was so excited! I have been a die-hard and Faithful fan of the San Francisco 49ers since approximately 1984/85. I was raised in a household where you were a fan of your team no matter what. Exiting my relationship with my 49ers was out of the question so the only logical thing to do was to be a fan of both teams. And that is the stance I have taken since 1993. I have cheered for both teams. I have been mad when both teams have lost very close games. I was in Charlotte on 02.01.04 for SuperBowl 38. How could I not be? My Panthers were just 1-15 two years prior. I am still a tad upset about last year’s SuperBowl debacle especially since my 49ers may not make it back this year if they keep playing the way they have been playing. I shall remain optimistic though. As you can see, I experience a wide range of emotions every year.

Last night, I was proud to call myself a Carolina Panthers fan. Last night I was proud to be a North Carolinian. And last night I was proud to say I am a Carolina Panthers fan who has been there since day one. For us day one fans, last night was a big deal. We have not had much to cheer about for the last decade. Last night was for us. The fans who saw the Panthers play in Memorial Stadium on the campus of Clemson University during their first year. The fans who can remember singing the “Nothing can be finer than to be in Carolina for a Panthers football gaaaame!” during the first few years in Ericsson. The fans who have original Howl Towels. That win was for us! Those who stuck around during the tough times. Those that did not give up on the team. Those who are proud that in that particular moment when our team had a chance to make a statement, it did just that. I am sure some people will say we are being real extra right now but who cares! While we do not know what will be the ultimate outcome of this season, it feels good, for now, to be fans of one of the hottest teams in the league right now. It feels good to have more double yous than losses. It feels good to say I AM A CAROLINA PANTHERS FAN!

And to those of you who want to now call yourself a fan or you were not a fan before young Cameron Newton took over behind center, please do us a Michael Jackson favor and “Beat It!” We know who you are and we are not afraid to call you out. Consider that your warning. #NoNewFans.

Until next time….TOODELLS!!!

Oh. P.S. For all you Pats fans who are still crying about the flag/no flag, TUCK RULE ANYONE?

Kassie’s NFL ReKap, Week 5

(Wrote this yesterday and forgot to publish it. Ooops).

Yep, I did not do a rekap last week. Just in case you were wondering.

Here we go…

My 9ers look to be back on track with a dominating win over the Texans on Sunday Night Football. I mean, we could not stay down for long, right? Now if Kap could just get hot again…

My Panthers lost. Again. ‘Scuse me. We got smashed. Again. Sigh.  By the Cardinals. Sigh.

Peyton Manning ya’ll!! #18 threw for four more touchdowns as his Broncos narrowly escaped Dallas with a dubya. Oh and #18 scored another TD on the slowest bootleg known to man. For the season, #18 has 1,884 yards, 20 touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 136.4. Peyton Manning ya’ll!!

The Browns beat the Bills. And I am still scratching my head about that Jim Brown thing.

The Saints beat the Bears to go to 5 and Oh. Beignets for everyone!

LOL at the Patriots. Or should I LOL at the Bengals. Every year it seems like the Bengals start the season strong and then fade down the stretch. Either way, the Bengals handed The Brady Bunch their first loss. Kudos.

Lawd. One of the Lions fans pushed the Packers James Jones out of the stands as he tried to get his Lambeau Leap on Sunday. I guess a 22-9 loss will make you a little bitter.  By the way, players can not celebrate touchdowns, excessively, anymore but they can still Lambeau Leap? Hmmmmm.

Andy Reid’s Chiefs beat the Titans to go to 5 and Oh. Why do I have a feeling that no one, including myself, is taking the Chiefs serious?

The Colts beat the Seahawks. Yes!! Now normally I would not cheer against a team lead by a Wolfpacker butter rum their loss benefits my 9ers. Brings us one game closer to tying for first place in our division. So thanks Colts! Go Pack!

The Jaguars lost to the Rams. Nothing to see here folks. Oh and as a consolation prize, the Jags get the Broncos next week. Lawd hamemrcy. #18 is gonna have a field day with that defense. Six TD’s easy. Or may be not. #18 may be on the bench after halftime.

If the Fins could have found them a running game, they might have had a chance to beat the Ravens. Oh well.

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Owen. Owen who? Owen 5. (Dedicated to all you Giants fans.)

That deserved a line all by itself. Eagles beat the Giants and lost Michael Vick to a hamstring injury in the process. Lets hope it is not too serious!

The Chargers lost to the Raiders. Did not see that coming. Even in “The Black Hole.”

So who predicted the Falcons would be 1 and 4 at this point in the season? Oh. Nobody? And they let rookie Geno Smith lead his team down the field with less than two minutes left to set up the game winning field goal. Insert jokes here.

Until next time….TOODELLS.

Kassie’s NFL ReKap, Week 3

Interesting twists and turns in the NFL this week….

I have already discussed my Niners. No need to go there again.

My Panthers won!!! Finally. Yes! Yes! Yes! I mean I know the New Yawk Midgets sent their little league team to play but a win is a win!

The Bengals had a 14 point lead over the Vikings. Then they were down by 16. Then they won by four. Yeah, that really happened.

The Cowgirls beat down the Rams. Their nation rejoices, until December.

The Titans beat the Chargers. Jake Locker threw a TD pass to Justin Hunter with 15 seconds left to secure the victory. It was the first time the Titans had beaten the Chargers since 1992. I was 11.

The Chiefs are 3-0 after taking down the Eagles in Andy Reid return to Philly. The Chiefs already have more wins than last year. Could they be this year’s “it” team??

The Patriots moved to 3 and Oh with a win over the Bucs who are now Oh and 3. I wonder how long it will be before the pundits start to “fire Greg Schiano.”

Arizona could not muster up enough of anything to hang with the Saints. They were defeated 31-7 in NOLA. I hope they at least got some beignets before they left.

After being the dashing darlings of the NFC last year, winning the NFC East, the Redskins look like the Redskins of two years ago. Mistake after mistake. The Lions took advantage of that and squeaked out a 27-20 victory. The Redskins are now Oh and 3.

{I laugh everytime I see this...LOLOLOLOLOL} Source: Google Images
{I laugh everytime I see this…LOLOLOLOLOL}
Source: Google Images

The Ravens found them some offense. The Texans apparently could not find their defense.

Soooooooo, the Fins are 3 and Oh. Yeah, the Dolphins. Yes, the Miami Dolphins. who would’ve thunk it? I am sure the Falcons did not.

The Jets beat the Bills. Nothing to see here folks.

Seattle blasted Jacksonville. And Jaguars everywhere, in the zoo, in the wild, are embarassed.

Is anyone surprised at what is taking place in Pittsburgh? Their production level has been on a decline for the past couple of years. An Oh and 3 Steeler team though? They looked like they might get their first win when they managed to get within seven of the Bears. However, the Bears defense saw to it that they would not get any closer. #BearDown

1,143 yards passing. 12 touchdowns. No interceptions. Those are Peyton Manning’s number through three games. THREE GAMES. Oh yeah and the Broncos beat the Raiders last night. Ridiculous.

 

Until next time…TOODELLS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kassie’s NFL ReKap!!

I owe my friend Earl Crawford an apology. During a Twitter exchange yesterday, I made the statement that “the O(Carolina Panthers) looked about the same. D looked niiiice.” My exact words. Earl’s response, ” I don’t understand….yr 1 O was on fire .. running up and down the field .. yr 3 we struggling…” Now in my defense, I was late getting home from church and I had to make a run during the game for pizza and breadsticks so I did not get to watch the whole game. It was not until I took a good look at the box score that I truly understood where Earl was coming from. My bad Earl. You were absolutely right. Yesterday’s offense was dismal. Quarterback Cam Newton completed 16 of 23 passes for 125 yards and one touchdown. Huh? Wait. What? Third year QB Newton ONLY had 125 yards? I need that to be a typo. Unfortunately, it is not. Newton did do a good job of spreading the ball around to multiple receivers, completing passes to five different players. However, that is just not enough. Now in his defense, this dismal offense was crippled by some dismal, conservative play calling. It was apparent that in order to beat the Seahawks, the Panthers were going to need a balanced attack. Surprisingly, the numbers say this is exactly what happened. 23 passing plays to 26 rushing plays. Well plays that netted yardage. So something is terribly wrong here. I saw too many dropped passes. I saw too many fumbles. And while I try not to “armchair coach,” I saw too many questionable play calls.

In year three of the Cam Newton offense, there should definitely be improvement from last year. The offensive line looked better. Newton seemed to be more patient in the pocket. And Steve Smith is still the fiery, ball snatching firecracker that he has been for the past 13 years. I agree with Newton and Smith when they say ” Everybody, let’s not panic now” but hey, something has got to give or somebody is going to be giving up a job soon.

Switching gears and speaking of giving, how about we give Seahawks QB Russell Wilson a round of applause. *insert applause* What sophomore slump? Wilson finished the day 25 of 33 for 320 yards and one touchdown. Things started out a little rough for Russell as he was under constant pressure from the Panthers front seven. However, once he got settled in, he managed the game like only he can. Scrambling when he needed to. Dropping back when necessary. Making throws on the run including a beautiful pass receiver Doug Baldwin. And of course, completing a beautiful game winning drive that culminated in a 43 yard touchdown pass to receiver Jermaine Kearse in the fourth quarter. That is just Russell being Russell. The other 31 teams better get used to it.

Switch.

All summer I have been hyping myself up, it did not take much, for opening  Sunday. My San Francisco 49ers vs the Green Bay Packers. A rematch of last year’s NFC Divisional playoff game. You know the game where 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards. Yeah, that game.  Well all summer we heard about how the Packers were making adjustments so that they receive a repeat dose of what happened in January. Well, so much for that. Apparently the Packers thought Kaepernick could only beat them with his legs. Wrong. The arm proved to be just as lethal as Kaepernick lit up the Packers defense for 412 yards on 27 of 39 passes and three touchdowns. Huh? Wait. What? Looks like the Packers may need to go back to the drawing board once again. Ok, ok. Enough trash talk. For as much as I loved the way my 9ers looked yesterday, I am still extremely frustrated with our secondary. Too many missed tackles. Too many blow coverages. Too many missed assignments. Yesterday was essentially a shootout and it came down to which defense could hold. Thankfully, my 9ers defensive unit has been together for years and knows how to step up at just the right time. If it was not for that front seven then we might have had a different outcome. Fellow football fans have been telling me to calm down because Rodgers is a great QB who is going to torch secondaries constantly. Yeah, I know. However, I need to see some improvement out of our secondary and I am not seeing it. Remember, I was watching the 9ers when no one else was so that telling me that they are doing a good job will not work over here. If we are to, indeed, get ring number six then the secondary will have to step up in a major way. Teams will be looking to exploit that weakness. Now if everyone can get on the same page and play like rookie safety Eric Reid then it is curtains for everybody else! Bang! Bang! #NinerGang

Switch. My thoughts.

Speaking of curtains, the Pittsburgh Steel curtain may be closing. My goodness. They looked awful yesterday. So did those Jacksonville Jaguars. Sheesh.

Yeah Larry Fitzgerald! Snagged two touchdowns yesterday. Still top five in the WR department.

The New York Jets, with the assistance of a late hit penalty, won their opener. Yeah, I have seen this Lifetime movie before.

Speaking of Lifetime movies, the Dallas Cowboys one began last night with a win as well. We all know how this will play out. Maybe they will fool me. Eh, doubt it.

The New England Patriots needed late game heroics to beat the Buffalo Bills. I am not sure how to even interpret that. Any Given Sunday, I guess. Well almost.

The Chicago Bears beat the Cincinnati Bengals. Barely. That is a moot point though. As long as I get to sing “Bear Down.”

Miami beat the Browns, convincingly. However, they were not very impressive. Gotta love those Fins.

There was a Reggie Bush sighting in Detroit as the Lions beat the Minnesota Vikings. Bush racked up 191 yards of total offense and one touchdown. He has not produced that much offense since USC. Ok, Maybe he has but none of you would be surprised if I was right.  Adrian Peterson was sighted too.  Ran straight to paydirt on his first carry. From 78 yards away. Really dude?

Andrew Luck’s Colts allllllmost lost to the Oakland Raiders. Heard the Raiders looked good though.

And lastly, the New Orleans Saints worked that voodoo magic on the Atlanta Falcons, who were not able to #RiseUp for the occasion. Better luck next time birds.

Number 18, Ya’ll

{Source: ESPN.com}
{Source: ESPN.com}

After last night’s/this morning’s game, I bet no wonder is wondering why I chose the Denver Broncos to represent the AFC in the Superbowl. Two words: PEYTON MANNING. Unless you have been living under a rock then you know Manning is my absolute favorite player. I have been a fan of his since his days at the University of Tennessee. Other than watching my 9ers or Panthers play, there is no one I would rather watch on opening night than #18. The man is a legend and he did what legends do, they deliver.

Any questions people still had about Manning’s arm were put to rest tonight. The stats read 462 passing yards and seven, yes SEVEN, touchdowns . Talk about making a statement. The precision in which Manning carves up defenses is a thing of beauty.  I could go on and on but I will not. I will save some for the rest of the season.

P.S. This is the first year I did not get to draft Manning as my fantasy league QB. Someone had the nerve to draft him before me, IN MY LEAGUE. Do not get me started.

P.S.2. Make sure you check out my game’s of the week….49ers vs. Packers and Panthers vs Seahawks,

Until next time…TOODELLS!!!