Tom Sorensen

There’s no pretending with the NHL. … Big and strong are not enough in today’s NFL.

The Vegas Golden Knights, an expansion team, are one of the hotter teams in the NHL playoffs. Retired Observer columnist Tom Sorensen says he wouldn’t know that.
The Vegas Golden Knights, an expansion team, are one of the hotter teams in the NHL playoffs. Retired Observer columnist Tom Sorensen says he wouldn’t know that. AP

A reader asked me why I never write about or talk about hockey. I have many great memories of working with the Charlotte Checkers. I went on a road trip with them, pretended I coached them and sat in the penalty box during a game.

One Checker spent so much time in the penalty box, I told him he should hang up pictures of his family. He said he liked the idea.

But hockey is one of the sports I don’t follow. I don’t know who is in the playoffs. I don’t write about them because if I did I’d be pretending. …

▪  The television ratings for the NFL draft were big-time. In part that’s because, for the first time, a network other than ESPN and the NFL Network televised it. FOX and ABC joined them this season. …

▪  I love Philadelphia offensive tackle Jordan Mailata, whom the Eagles traded up to take in the seventh round. He has a Charlotte connection. His middle name is Jordan; his sister chose it for him because she’s a Michael Jordan fan.

Mailata, 21, has never played football. He played rugby for Australia’s South Sydney Rabbitohs. He is 6-8 and 347 pounds, and his rugby highlights are hilarious. Opponents take turns not stopping him. You can almost hear them saying, “Hey, I pretended I was going to stop him last time, so it’s your turn.” Mailata is the bowling ball. Opponents are the pins.

Being strong and big does not make a man a football player. Brock Lesnar, the former martial artist and current professional wrestler, is 6-3 and 265 pounds. He wrestled at Minnesota and was twice the NCAA heavyweight champion.

He tried out for the Minnesota Vikings, and was sent to the practice squad and then cut.

The NFL is about more than size, strength and speed. How much film do you think most players have studied by the time they turn 21? If Mailata makes the Eagles, the league could be inundated by players that are 6-8 and weigh 347 pounds. …

▪  You know why writers and broadcasters assign letter grades to a team’s draft? People want to read the grades and hear them. We grade individual Panther games. We stopped. So many readers complained that we started again.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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