Welcome to Tom Talks, the sports talk show of the printed page and Internet and, if I get around to it, Twitter. You call, I answer. Let’s go to the telephones.
Tom, Ashley from Madison, which is in Rockingham County and is a real place. Why do you and other sportswriters insist on writing about Tiger Woods when so many other golfers are worthy?
Tiger, who is playing at the Wyndham Classic in Greensboro, is like the New York Yankees, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Lakers or Boston Celtics. Fans buy tickets to see him win and to see him lose. But most come to cheer. When he’s on, the gallery responds as if it is watching a football game. There’s a jolt you feel, and nobody else, not even Phil Mickelson or Jordan Spieth, can provide it. I’m happy Tiger is in our state and happy that his N.C. fans, and detractors, get to see him.
Tom, Mike from Moravian Falls. The Carolina Panthers make their first cut in nine days. Are their players you pull for?
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There are. I’ve interviewed players who likely are on the cusp of the roster. The most feedback I received on a column from camp was about Avius Capers, a receiver from Independence high and Johnson C. Smith. Readers were interested in his story because it’s a story many have lived. You think of the NFL as a league full of affluent athletes. Capers cooked chicken and fish when the Panthers called, and he showed up for his tryout on a bike. At 5-9, he’s not a big man. But Capers is more than a story. He breaks free to make a reception or receptions in every practice. So I pull for Capers, and I pull for two other players I’ve written about, defensive end Rakim Cox and running back Jordan Todman. Todman ought to make this team.
Tom, Ashley from Archer Lodge.
Is that an inn? Like, you live in an inn?
It’s not an inn, you fool. It’s a town. Don’t you think it’s a travesty that Michael Jordan went to court and collected $8.9 million from a supermarket chain that used his name without permission? Big deal. He doesn’t need the money.
It’s not a travesty. It’s justice. That name is Jordan’s brand. You can’t claim he endorses a product with getting his consent. The chain must employ a lawyer. How did it not know? Jordan, incidentally, says he will give the money to charity.
Tom, Bart from Bayboro. How many games do you have the Panthers winning, and how would you rank their camp?
I don’t make my picks until after camp and after the third exhibition, and the third exhibition is Friday. The best camp I saw was in 2008. The Panthers won 12 games but lost their first playoff game at home to Arizona. Standing on the sideline at practice that August, watching and listening, I knew they’d be good. I wrote that before the season began. It was obvious. I thought the 2015 camp was their best since ’08. Kelvin Benjamin’s season ending knee injury Wednesday obviously detracts. But for weeks if not months we’ve been writing and saying that they’re deep at receiver. Does Benjamin’s absence mean they no longer are deep? It means they lost their best wide receiver, and aren’t as deep. If they lose Cam Newton or Luke Kuechly, Charles Johnson or Ryan Kalil, they really are in trouble. Of course they’ll miss Benjamin. Another receiver will have to emerge. And I think he will.
Tom, Phil from Foscoe. Why have the Panthers not signed a free-agent receiver such as Reggie Wayne or Wes Welker?
We love our famous free agents, don’t we? When the Panthers needed a coach many of you wanted a celebrity as Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher. The Panthers will go with what they have. And if it turns out not to be sufficient, they’ll go after somebody else.
Randy Moss and Jerry Rice also are available.
Yes, they are.
A word of thanks
Lost my wallet walking the dog at McAlpine Park on Saturday, and a couple was nice enough to return it to the house. I wasn't there and don't have their names. Just want to say thanks.