Welcome to Tom Talks. It’s a sports radio talk show without guests, commercials or free food. Let’s go to the phones.
Tom, Sally from Cerro Gordo.
Cerro Gordo sounds like a town Clint Eastwood would ride through in one of his old Westerns.
Whatever. Did you see the story out of Phoenix that said Cam Newton would be Arizona’s quarterback of the future?
I saw a story in which a writer merely suggested the possibility. A reader was nice enough to send it to me. Somebody will put together a list that says Newton is the 40th best quarterback in the NFL or Ron Rivera is the 50th best coach or Dave Gettleman is the 60th best general manager, and fans of the Carolina Panthers get worked up. I don’t get it. If you call me and get a recording that says, “This is Tom and I can’t come to the phone because I’m manufacturing reasons to panic,” you have my permission to maim me. Not sure what will happen with Newton. But when was the last time a quarterback left a team that wanted to retain him?
Tom, Lenny from Lizard Lick. Which N.C. college football team will have the best season in 2015?
Whoa. This question is more difficult than most. I think N.C. State has the right coach, the right quarterback and the right culture. But I vote for Appalachian State. The Mountaineers went 6-2 in the Sun Belt Conference last season and return 10 starters on offense and 10 on defense.
Tom, Hal from Hookerton. My big toe hurts real bad, and I don’t think I have much time left. Do you think I’ll be around for the end of the NBA finals?
There are thousands of bad jokes about the length of the NBA playoffs and I thought I’d contribute. If we can wait two weeks between the end of the NFL conference championships and the Super Bowl we can wait eight days between Golden State’s game five victory and the NBA finals. The playoffs are good stuff, taut and compelling. If you’re a fan, why would you want them to end?
Tom, Elli from East Bend.
Do you have a Touchdown Jesus?
I don’t know. I’m not religious. Why do you write so many columns about Ted Ginn Jr.?
I like Ginn and I don’t understand why, with the exception of one very good season in Miami, he hasn’t thrived elsewhere. He fits the Panthers. He’s respected by his Carolina coaches and teammates. And I like speed. I ran track for awhile in high school, and this is how fast I was: If in my prime I ran the hundred against Ginn, he’d lap me. There’s purity in certain athletic gifts. I once talked to Dominique Wilkins about his ability to jump. I asked him when he realized he had the gift and how he developed it. He told me he had never been asked specifically about it, and he wanted to talk. Ginn runs the way Dominique jumped.
Tom, Dubhlainn from Dublin.
No, N.C. We’re about 3 hours southeast of Charlotte, and we have a vineyard.
I’m on the way.
Answer a question before you go. What did see at the Carolina Panthers’ organized team activities Thursday?
I saw a quarterback who was hitting a high percentage of passes and running around the field congratulating receivers. I saw players who believe they have the opportunity to be part of something special. I saw football again.
Tom, Waddill from Rock Hill. What did you think about NFL.com’s list of the top 100 players of 2015?