The Stack is back after a day off in Mankato at Minnesota Vikings training camp. I'll have plenty of thoughts on what I saw, but there are other things to get to first so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Thursday, August 8:
Johnny Football case perplexing
It seems with each passing week, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel does something that makes headlines. Normally it's not that bad. He tweets something he shouldn't. He gets caught drinking. No big deal overall. He's 20 years old and fame has come fast and furious for Manziel. But he may be in over his head and in trouble with the NCAA following the latest allegations that Manziel accepted money for autographs he signed which is a violation of NCAA rules. He is reportedly caught on tape receiving the money which is around $7,500, a payment he has received twice. Manziel's signed memorabilia is going for a lot. He is a superstar in college football and sports in general. But his blatant disregard for the rules may not be enough to help save him and his collegiate athletic career. He may have played his last down at Texas A&M as a result of this.
Yes it is a tad hypocritical that the NCAA gets to make money off of these college athletes and the rules need to change...and soon. As it stands right now though, college athletes cannot accept money, especially for signing autographs and profiting from it. If true, and video evidence would seem to make this pretty clear, then Manziel did indeed break a rule that could land him in hot water. A&M and their fans have supported Manziel throughout this whole offseason ordeal, but much longer can or perhaps should they support Manziel if he is going to cost them any real chance of success. He's jeopardized not only his future in college but perhaps the pros as well, and also Texas A&M and their longterm success. More to this situation will pan itself out. With the college football season coming up in a few weeks, we're bound to find out sooner than later just what Johnny Football's future entails and whether he will be playing this season or sitting out.
PGA Championship preview
Golf's final major of the season takes place this week at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York. Most everyone's eyes are on Tiger Woods and rightfully so. He dominated the field last week in Akron, Ohio, at the Bridgestone Invitiational, but that's nothing new considering he has won that tournament eight times. What is new is this slump that Tiger is in when it comes to majors. He hasn't won a major in a long time. He's still stuck on fourteen career major wins. Lately, he has played very well the first two rounds, but then disappears when he is in contention on the weekends. You have to think at some point Woods will put it all together and win another major. Afterall, he is Tiger Woods and he has won five times this year so his game is certainly coming together nicely. But that fifteenth major has been very elusive to him.
There are certainly other contenders to win this tournament. Phil Mickelson, apart from last week, has played some great golf lately (see The Open Championship win) and the number two golfer in the world will be right up there this week too. Adam Scott has played well this year. Lee Westwood too. The easy pick would be to go for Tiger and I've done that before. But I can't this time. Perhaps this will provoke Woods and get him to win. I'll take Adam Scott to win the PGA Championship. He has played very well in the majors this year, winning the Masters and being right up there in the Open Championship. Should be a fantastic tournament.
NFL Preseason kickoffs
The Hall-of-Fame game was last week, but that was just Miami and Dallas. Tonight, the first week of preseason football kicks off and while preseason games can be difficult to watch, it is football and most of us have missed it. Six games tonight on the schedule:
Baltimore Ravens @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7:30 PM ET
Cincinnati Bengals @ Atlanta Falcons 8 PM ET ESPN
St. Louis Rams @ Cleveland Browns 8 PM ET
Washington Redskins @ Tennessee Titans 8 PM ET
Denver Broncos @ San Francisco 49ers 9 PM ET
Seattle Seahawks @ San Diego Chargers 10 PM ET
Football is back. However bad the preseason is, at least we get to watch football. And fans can now see the depth of certain positions on the team and where the big battles are on the field. Can't wait.
Minnesota Vikings training camp thoughts
So yesterday I had the great opportunity of going to Vikings training camp in Mankato, MN, with a few friends. It was a lot of fun and while watching, there were a few things I came away with:
- Training camps are vastly different under the new CBA. I remember going to training camp before the new CBA was constructed and the practices were intense. There was plenty of hitting and the teams practiced longer. Yesterday, the Vikings had two sessions, one being a walk-through in the morning for an hour and an afternoon practice in pads with limited hitting. The two sides would go against each other but it was mainly two hand touch with the running backs and wide receivers or whistles would blow quickly. I understand why there isn't as much hitting and the NFL wants to protect the players in hopes that they will eventually go for an 18 game regular season schedule. While I hope that doesn't happen, I know why training camp is the way it is and not saying I don't like it, but it is just different.
- The defensive line has a ton of depth. The Vikings may boast one of, if not thee deepest defensive line in the NFL. They have tremendous talent in Jared Allen, Brian Robison and Everson Griffin. Those guys were getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback during scrimmage. The second team defensive line punished the second team offensive line time and time again. Doesn't mean the second team offensive line is bad, but that there is a lot of talent on the defensive line across the board. Rookie defensive tackle Shariff Floyd blew right through the line and would have crushed the running back if sent him to the ground if the whistle hadn't blown. They are going to be a fun unit to watch this year.
- Christian Ponder looked better than Matt Cassel. Vikings fans have heard that Ponder hasn't looked great at times during camp while Cassel has looked very strong. That was not the case yesterday. Ponder was accurate with his passes and moved well in the pocket. Cassel had issues completing passes and the pressure of the defensive line didn't help, but Ponder definintely looked better. He was good in individual drills as well. Ponder is going to be the starter barring something unforseen. He looked better between the two yesterday.
- Joe Webb looks good at wide receiver. Webb was a quarterback at UAB, but was drafted as a wide receiver in 2010. He quickly went back to being a quarterback after the Vikings saw him throw. He's back at wide receiver this year and he is turning some heads. He made some clean catches in individual drills and made some really nice catches during the team drills. He had a couple of issues running fades to the corner of the endzone, but he is looking pretty comfortable at the position. He'll make the team and look for the Vikings to look for ways to get him on the field a few times a game.
Before I go, Alex Rodriguez formally appealed his suspension yesterday. We'll see how long this takes and whether the suspension will be reduced. Baseball wants it to get done sooner or later. My guess is it probably will be reduced.
Coming up Friday: Preseason football thoughts, PGA Championship opening round thoughts and more.