I had a wonderful 3 1/2 day weekend for my birthday last week, one that began Friday with playing poker until 2 am, getting some quality cajun wings plus buying a shot for a newly minted legal drinker cutie on Saturday night, and then wrapping two championship football games (with beers and cigars) around a terrific grilled steak and birthday cake at my brother's house Sunday before having the perfect 'to just chill' Monday off.
The point of all that is, as good as I felt, Aaron Rodgers must have been 1,000 miles higher on the Satisfaction Scale after putting Green Bay into the Super Bowl. That Rodgers came out slinging against the Bears shouldn't have surprised anyone after the tour de force he laid on Atlanta the week before, but the Packer defense pounding the Bears down to their third string QB (and a surprised yay! for what's-his-names effort) was great stuff. Rodgers ascendency to the ranks of supreme commander/legend is just about complete now, and Brett Who? is only a short step away from that. Not only haven't you heard almost zero about Favre since that slap on the wrist $50,000 fine for not cooperating (oh my!), but Rodgers tagged a semi-macho bloody (if pretty much inadvertent) shot to the mouth from the Bears Julius Peppers to the notion Green Bay management was right about not begging ol' Brett to stay around a couple years ago because they HAD to play a guy capable of getting 4,000 yards a season without throwing a bunch of crucial picks along the way.
In Charlotte, football is barely a topic for next year, although Jon Beason made the Pro Bowl just a little closer today by returning an interception for a touchdown. I'm a little chagrined about Andy Luck of Stanford turning down the opportunity to be the #1 pick for the Panthers, even if he might be exactly that NEXT year too. The Charlotte Observer put Auburn's DT Nick Fairley into that spot now that Luck will continue his collegiate career, but I wonder if that will sell Panther fans on Mr. Richardson's promise he is doing all things possible to put best team on the field. Give disgruntled Philly QB Kevin Colb a shiny contract while he's thinking of leaving because Michael Vick will be the number one signal caller there and you'd be on the right track. Maybe move the popular DeAngelo Williams for a really, really good receiver to go with Steve Smith now that Mike Goodson has proved so capable and you'd REALLY be talking...
Right now its about hoops in Charlotte though, and there is actually some chatter about NBA playoffs again now that Paul Silas has the Bobcats playing without guilt over every missed shot like the departed Larry Brown did. The Bobcats are 11-6 under Silas, 20-26 overall, and they actually look like they have players vs. just guys in orange uniforms.
Oh, there actually ARE some people talking about football in Charlotte, but I don't know why they are so serious about it. Up at UNCC they have been actively pushing for a program since about 2007, and there is now official approval for a 15,000 seat (with ability to expand to 40k) stadium with an estimated cost of $40-45 million. It bears noting that UNCC asked supporters to put up $1000 for a seating license, seats that wouldnt be ready for watching from until 2013. Asked how the university could ask for that sort of commitment in the current economic climate, UNCC Chancellor Phil Dubois said, "on one knee."
Alumni enthusiasm aside, the university failed to reach the stated goal of 5,000 seat licenses last year; they have also approved an additional $120 student fee that will begin this fall, and will rise to $320 by Fall 2014--the highest activity fee in UNC's 17 school system. Many years ago I interviewed Dick Powers, the Athletic Director at South Florida, after they'd built the SunDome for its basketball team (and began putting events like boxing matches in it) and nearly 20 years before they began a football program there. "Once you build it, you definitely have to pay for it" was his bottom line, and here's hoping UNCC figures out all the dollars and cents before it begins the Xs and Os part.