A chat with Andre Boyd, the man behind #NotRayLewis

On Halloween, I received a text. At the time of receipt, I was fully engaged in trying to cheer my beloved North Carolina State Wolfpack onto victory against the number one team in the country. I quickly glanced at the text and said to myself, “I’ll check it later once I get stationary.”

November 1. I finally settled in to catch up on what I had missed that weekend. I soon found out there was a party going on and I was beyond fashionably late. The internet was all abuzz. My social media feeds were filled with people talking about it. The unexpected was happening.

Andre Boyd had gone viral.

Continue reading “A chat with Andre Boyd, the man behind #NotRayLewis”

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#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!!

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.

A DIFFERENT kind of concern for Cam…

Late Sunday night, I was heavily involved in my typical routine, glued to SportsCenter when a presser(press conference for those of you who are not hip to the media terms) came on. It was of Cam Newton after their loss to the Cowboys. I immediately stopped what I was doing because I wanted to see how Newton would handle this presser. When it was over I was, once again, left with a feeling of concern as I watched Newton sulk while he discussed what went wrong earlier on the field. You know that PR major in me was eyes wide open thinking, “if only I could get a hold of him…”

Cam Newton does not like to lose. I am not sure I have met a person who does. I know I do not like it! Ever seen me after I lose in Connect Four? Not always a pleasant sight. Who really enjoys losing? The winner? In a reverse psychology warped kind of way, I guess a winner could take pleasure in another’s loss but that person won so….you get my point. A true competitor wants to compete at the highest level when it is showtime. A true competitor wants to win every time, so it is not a concern of mine that Cam Newton is not happy about losing. What I am concerned about is the way he handles losing, publicly. When I watch Cam Newton’s pressers I see a young man consumed with the guilt and agony of losing. I see a young man who has rarely experienced losses on the football field struggling to grasp the reality of what many of his fellow colleagues have already experienced. I see a young man who wants to win, knows how to win but has not figured out how to make that happen on a consistent basis.

Apparently what I see and what other journalists see is totally different. For weeks, I have heard journalists, commentators and the Couch QB’s bash Cam Newton for what he has and has not done. I refuse to be on one of those people. Some journalists are quick to turn on you when things are not going well.  I think they have forgotten Peyton Manning went 3-13 and 6-10 in his first two seasons. I digress. Let me get back on track.   These same journalists and commentators who were singing soprano praises for Cam Newton last year are now saying that something is wrong with him and I even heard one say he is starting to believe he may never see the Cam Newton we saw last year, again. *raises hand* Wait, are we talking about last year’s NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year? Are we talking about the NFL record holder for most passing yards EVER by a rookie? Are we talking about the NFL single season record holder for most rushing TD’s EVER by a QB in a season? Are we talking about the former Auburn QB who led the Tigers to an undefeated season, a national championship and scooped up the Heisman Trophy along the way? Are we talking about the former Blinn College QB who led them to the NJCAA Championship in 2009? That guy? That is who we are talking about? You have got to be kidding me. The same abilities and talents that propelled him to do these things are still there. Did you see him shaking and baking the Cowboys on Sunday? Did you see him threading tight spirals to Brandon LaFell in the middle of the field? If you did then there is no way you would be questioning if he still has “it.” Somebody has been sniffing too many Sharpies.

His abilities should never be in question but I can admit when something is off. What we should be concerned with is his state of mind. From the outside looking in, one has to wonder what type of mental and emotional support the Panthers are providing for their franchise QB. Remember, this is a 23 year old man we are talking about. At 23 years old, a lot of men and women struggle as thy search for their identity and purpose in this world. Add an international spotlight to the mix and you have a recipe for a potential disaster, if the right pieces are not in place.

Maybe he has someone in his life who not only tells him it is ok to be disappointed in losing but sets an example for him to follow. Maybe he has someone to tell him that his body language and non-verbal cues during pressers have a major impact on how the public views him. Maybe he has someone to tell that he needs to be mindful of his brand at all times. It is hard to build your brand back up once the foundation has been shaken. Maybe he has someone to tell him that as QB, you are expected to eventually be the leader of the team, no matter how young you are. Maybe has has someone to tell him that “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” Maybe has has someone to tell him these things. Maybe he does not. Hopefully he does and if he does not, I hope someone comes along quick who is truly concerned about him as a whole. Maybe I need to take a trip down 85…..

Until next time…TOODELLS.