I’m back after a few weeks off to dominate the award-winning WGEM SportsCenter show, which can be heard weekdays from 7 to 9 a.m. on ESPN 1440 and wgem.com. Here’s a peek at the final grade book of the year. Since Houchins in playing hooky today, I’ll go over these around 8:20 on Wednesday’s program. Feel free to text your grades in at 217-617-9437 or email them in at email@example.com.
A — Drew Brees. Monday was quite a day for the Saints quarterback. First, we found out that he endorses something called Advocare (more on that later in the grades). Then, he went out and threw for more than 300 yards in a win over Atlanta to become the all-time single-season yardage leader in NFL history. ESPN treated it like McGwire breaking Maris’ single-season HR record back in 1998. Let’s hope this record-setting performance isn’t ruined by anything down the line.
B — Cam Newton. He has a long way to go to reach Brees’ status as an NFL icon, but the Panthers’ rookie QB has proved a lot of people wrong. He’s been fantastic this season and has been a fantasy football players’ dream. He can pass the 4,000-yard mark this weekend — the most ever for a rookie. He’s passed for 20 scores and run for 14 more — the most by a QB ever. The Heisman winner is the real deal. ESPN can hype Tim Tebow all it wants, but Newton has quietly put together a fantastic rookie season. Too bad he’s trapped in Carolina.
C — Chicago Bulls. I know it’s a bit early to slap a grade on a team that’s played just two games, but the NBA season isn’t as long as usual thanks to the lockout. The Bulls split two games so far on the West Coast, but haven’t looked that good. All teams are having to adjust to each other on the fly with the short training camps and the compressed schedule. If the team is still playing like it is now — bad defense, no flow and too many turnovers on offense — in March, that’s when it’s time to panic. Give your favorite team some time.
D — Independence Bowl. Congrats to Mizzou for its win over North Carolina, but the entire event was pretty much a disaster. The day started with Truman the Tiger, Mizzou’s mascot, breaking the game’s trophy. The weather was crummy and no one was in the stands to watch it. Those who were subjected to watch the game on ESPN2 had to put up with an ESPN crew that couldn’t spell the name of the city the game was played in, and two announcers who didn’t fully grasp the fact that Mizzou is going to be playing in the SEC next year. And I’m glad that Brees has a deal with Advocare, but those commercials were some of the cheesiest I’ve seen in a long time.
F — Rex Ryan. The New York Jets head coach likes to talk a lot of trash. Unfortunately, his team can’t back it up. The Jets were one of the biggest losers in Week 16 of the NFL season when the New York Giants put a whupping on them after Ryan had talked a lot of stuff during the week. After the game, Giants running back Brandon Jacobs allegedly told Ryan that “It’s time to shut up, fat boy.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. That line made a great cover for the New York Post the following day.