From the time LSU dropped the hammer on Oregon last Thursday until the Jets finsihed off their amazing comeback against the Cowboys amid the national focus on 9/11 and specifically New York, I was an unapolegetic sports glutton for four days. That Serena Williams got nasty again over a code violation during a 6-2, 6-3 kicking by Samantha Stosur at the U.S. Open was super surprising, and the Cowboys, historically perfect (241-0-1) with 14 point leads in the fourth quarter might not recover from this loss is kind of joyous, but Carolina Panther QB Cam Newton hanging up 422 yards passing his first game, THAT'S working.
Sure, sure, sure Michigan's Denard Robinson throwing a TD pass with :02 left for a 35-31 win, the third straight time they've stabbed rival Notre Dame in the heart in the series means a lot. Oh, and Djokovic coming back from two sets down and beating Roger Federer 6-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 at the Open pretty much sealed the notion of 2011 being his career year. All those events were obviously major reasons we watch sports, but the gaudy 24/37, 422 yards, 3 TD (one running) line that Newton announced his presence with, that is exactly the sort of soul-soothing greatness that fans who watched last years 2-14 team stumble to were praying for out of the #1 draft pick.
I have to admit, I questioned whether Newton's being an obviously gifted athlete (and previous near constant references to his fathers pimping his services will now become silent, historical subtext) would translate to his becoming an A-1 NFL quarterback. One game really *shouldn't* overcome all concerns in this area, but geeeeez, that first 70 yard touchdown to Steve Smith WAS a rope (and nice to see your "you can't cover me rookie" jawing with that cornerback Stevie!), not something lofted out there to run under. Equally important was that Newton didn't pull the ball down and take off like he did during his amazing season at Auburn--when the Cardinals blitzed him constantly, he was cool in the pocket. Cool? While the Panthers wound up two yards short of a tying TD, they moved down the field in a manner local fans hadn't seen in a long time. Okay, it was against the (4-12 in 2010) Cards, but the promise of all Cam Newton was supposed to be and the FACT of this premiere is clearly going to put fannies in the seats in 2011.
I do sympathize ever so slightly with Serena, who was back on the court about 18 hours after disposing of #1 ranked (and lets admit that looked pretty bogus afterwards) Caroline Wozniacki on Saturday night. A rain delay and a series of over-long matches rivaling 'The Longest Day' at the US Open 24 years ago put that matches start after 9pm, but shades of 2009 on her behavior. The penalty point she incurred for yelling during a point was by the rulebook, and compared to the explosive swearing of that prior incident, her kvetching and accusation about chair umpire Asderski being "same official that screwed me over last time" wasn't overwhelmingly shocking. Since she was on two years probation for that incident however, there might still be additional blowback.
Great champions have to eventually make way for the new ones. This is just one weekend of sports, and these events will probably be remembered even when the bright light of its coinciding with the memory of 9/11's tenth anniversary passes. In Dallas, where Tony Romo's goal line fumble and brutally bad interception while trying to squeeze a throw in to an obviously hobbled Dez Bryant added to a list of mistakes he's gotten a reputation for, and Charlotte though, the memories will probably last just a bit longer.