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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Unbelievably Dull and Incredibly Slow: Does the NFL Just Suck Now?

Posted By on Thu, Sep 20, 2018 at 7:02 AM

The Cleveland Browns almost won. Two weeks into the new NFL season, and that has thus far been professional football’s only compelling story. The rebuilt Browns, helmed by the three-headed idiot factory that is Hue Jackson, Todd Haley, and Gregg Williams, look, if not competent, then at least something resembling a professional football team. Which, sure, is exciting, I guess. From their never-ending stream of high first-round draft picks finally stacking up to the emotional connection viewers of HBO’s beautifully shot Hard Knocks forged to the team to a quarterback who might stick around under center for more than a...

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

At 0–2, the UNC Stands on the Verge of a Lost Season—and Probably Got a Welcome Reprieve From Florence

Posted By on Wed, Sep 12, 2018 at 4:57 PM

For a good hour and a half of early-game football on Saturday, the UNC Tar Heels appeared to have, if not righted, at least pointed their ship in the right direction. The Tar Heels scored on five of their six first-half possessions, Antonio Williams was picking up chunk yards on the ground, and Nathan Elliott looked competent through the air. They were down at the half but only by two and went into the locker room having outgained East Carolina by nearly fifty yards. Other than a few boneheaded penalties, the only smear on the Heels’ first half was...

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Friday, September 7, 2018

So Will the Panthers Boom or Bust This Year? Place Your Bets Now.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 7, 2018 at 2:55 PM

Public opinion on the Panthers’ 2018 prospects is widely split, and why wouldn't it be? The NFL is notoriously difficult to predict year to year, and the Panthers have undergone an off-season of transition. Last year's 11-5 team, which finished second in the NFC South and lost a close contest to the Saints in the wildcard, returns longtime head coach Ron Rivera and star quarterback Cam Newton, but will feature new coordinators on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, the full-time return of GM Marty Hurney, and a new owner in David Tepper. Many see the...

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Thursday, September 6, 2018

After an Impressive Army-Stomping Debut, Duke Looks Poised to Do Big Things

Posted By on Thu, Sep 6, 2018 at 4:54 PM

Duke head coach David Cutcliffe is one of the most highly respected minds in all of college football, and his eleventh season in Durham could be one of his most successful. The Blue Devils finished an up-and-down 2017 on a high note, winning three straight, including a bowl game over NIU, to finish 7–6. That team's notably young core was alternately excellent and terrible for long stretches, as a strong 4–0 start gave way to a baffling six-game losing streak before the squad’s late-season charge. This sort of inconsistency is part of the bargain when starting a raft of...

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

UNC Starts a Long Season on a Sour Note

Posted By on Wed, Sep 5, 2018 at 2:11 PM

Don’t let the fact that Carolina lost their season opener by a touchdown—that they were one almost-recovered onside kick away from getting the ball back with a minute and some to go and a short field with which to work—fool you. This game was not even close, and we can thank some combination of Cal’s own offensive ineptitude and a relatively stout performance from Carolina’s defense for the Golden Bears only putting up twenty-four points on Saturday. Somehow Larry Fedora’s football team shattered our already low expectations this weekend. Somehow the team, which started near the basement of the...

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Friday, August 31, 2018

The Panthers Went 3–1 in the Preseason. Should We Get Our Hopes Up?

Posted By on Fri, Aug 31, 2018 at 3:05 PM

The preseason is over. How did we look? The Panthers concluded their preseason with a 39–24 loss at the Pittsburgh Steelers last night, in a game that saw the majority of their marquee starts sit out, as is the custom with the final dress rehearsal. In what was a difficult night for the team all around, the Steelers were able to take advantage of potential problem areas along the Panthers’ offensive line and secondary, which will both need to improve if the team hopes to be a contender in the loaded NFC. It was the worst outing of their...

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Friday, August 17, 2018

You Guys, the Carolina Panthers Could Be Really Good This Year!

Posted By on Fri, Aug 17, 2018 at 3:49 PM

It's Panthers Season, Folks! The so-called experts said it would never happen, but it appears we’re going to survive the Summer of 2018, which means one thing: Here comes football! And for Panthers fans, this is a particularly exciting development, because Cam & The Cats have the potential to be good. Like Super Bowl good. Like the last-ever-NFL-champions-before-the-full-on-collapse-of-humanity good. And if that doesn't move the meter for you, then I don't know what will. OK, I'm Intrigued. So What Have I Missed So Far? A lot! This past offseason has been among the most eventful in the franchise's twenty-five-year...

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Durham Sports Commission Helped Bring the ACC Baseball Tournament Back to Town, and It’s Just Getting Started

Posted By on Tue, Jun 12, 2018 at 4:00 PM

Established in August 2016, the nonprofit Durham Sports Commission was designed to attract and promote athletic events within the Bull City. Funded by the city and corporate sponsors, the organization has made a major splash during its initial two-year run, culminating in its role in bringing the ACC baseball championship tournament back to Durham last month for the first time since HB 2. We spoke with executive director Ashleigh Bachert about the DSC’s founding, the challenge of overcoming the negative stigma associated with the so-called bathroom bill, and some of the exciting events the commission has planned for the near...

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

With the World Cup Approaching, Whom Do We Root For?

Posted By on Wed, Jun 6, 2018 at 4:29 PM

With the start of the World Cup less than two weeks away, the marketing machines of FIFA, Nike, Adidas, and presumably every other worldwide brand are in overdrive, hoping to cash in on the billions of eyeballs trained on thirty-two national soccer teams over the course of a few summer weeks. Commercials featuring Lionel Messi, Neymar, David Silva, and scads of other international superstars pipe through our televisions and computer screens, reminding us that the greatest tournament in sports is nigh. Radio spots and internet ads pop up without prompting, featuring Cristiano Ronaldo’s chiseled face, Zlatan Ibrahimović’s trademark attitude,...

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Charlotte’s Rich Pageant: On the Ground at the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR’s Most Grueling Race

Posted By on Wed, May 30, 2018 at 12:21 PM

Frenzied fans, some of whom have been partying in and on their RVs, campers, and retrofitted buses for days, wander through the pits, the garage, and even on the track, their pit passes around their necks. The pit-crew veterans, many of whom are former major college and professional football players, tower over the masses, piloting hand trucks full of stacked spare tires, wagons of massive red Sunoco gasoline cans, and hard plastic rolling luggage, which no doubt holds the air guns whose whizzing sound is as inherent to car racing as blinding speed and crushing wrecks. Weaving through the...

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

The NFL’s Ban on Kneeling Is White Owners Exerting Complete Control Over Their Black Players

Posted By on Thu, May 24, 2018 at 6:40 AM

This isn’t about patriotism. It’s not about respect for the flag or our military, our domestic protectors, or those lost in the line of duty. This is about control. This is about the small, uber-rich, and almost entirely white owners of professional football franchises reminding their players, nearly 70 percent of whom are black, to stay in line. This is about appeasing the MAGA types—led by the president himself—who have threatened to boycott the league, about stemming the tiny percentage of revenue that was lost since Colin Kaepernick began his protest, sparking league-wide kneelings in kind. This is about...

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Monday, May 21, 2018

An Old Hedge-Fund Billionaire Just Bought the Carolina Panthers, And We’re OK With That

Posted By on Mon, May 21, 2018 at 4:03 PM

The Carolina Panthers off-season of transition reached its apotheosis last week, with the apparent confirmation of former Pittsburgh Steelers minority-stakeholder David Tepper as the team's new owner. On the surface, Tepper appears not to be terribly dissimilar from a plurality of his peers in a league-ownership capacity. Fans can be forgiven for seeing a sixty-year-old white male billionaire hedge fund manager and not leaping to the conclusion that this constitutes an out-of-the-box development. And yet, there is much in Tepper's biography to suggest that he is, at a minimum, worlds apart from disgraced former owner Jerry Richardson, and that he may...

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

HBO Doc André the Giant Explores the Tragedy and Avarice Around a Larger-Than-Life Professional Wrestler

Posted By on Thu, May 10, 2018 at 1:24 PM

HBO’s documentary on the life of professional wrestler André the Giant is a surprisingly morose affair. By the end, a number of men, some who profited very well from André's exertions, shed tears over his lonesome death. He lived fast and died before age fifty. He became addicted to performing, wrestling far beyond his body’s ability to bear the stress. Our final sense is of a spent husk dying alone in a well-appointed hotel room. It’s hard to say what those who aren't wrestling fans will see in the film, especially when it detours into detailed descriptions of the...

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Friday, May 4, 2018

Daniel Snyder and the Redskins’ Culture of Exploitation and Incompetence

Posted By on Fri, May 4, 2018 at 8:44 PM

Once upon a time, in the days before Daniel Snyder, the Washington Redskins were big box office in the Carolinas. Sometimes I meet people from here who are still Skins fans. They remember the good old days, with Sonny Jurgenson, Billy Kilmer, Joe Gibbs, Darrell Green, and The Posse. That was a long time ago, but I remember, too. I grew up in Northern Virginia during the glory days, when Redskins games were as close to a congregation as my family ever engaged in. Thus it has been sad, in the manner of watching a malignant disease destroy a...

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Super Bowl or Bust? Let’s Talk About the Panthers’ Off-Season Moves.

Posted By on Tue, May 1, 2018 at 4:41 PM

With the draft and free agency in the rearview mirror, the book is nearly closed on the Panthers’ off-season under officially reinstated general manager Marty Hurney. As we've discussed at infinite length, Hurney's most crucial objective this off-season was finding weapons for Cam Newton, particularly the sort that could maximize the potentialities of new offensive coordinator Norv Turner's downfield passing scheme. Other objectives included plugging holes on the defensive line and secondary. Here are the things you need to know about whether last year's playoff team has made themselves Super Bowl contenders or slipped backward toward mediocrity. What Was...

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Friday, April 27, 2018

The Carolina Panthers Take a Chance on Maryland Speedster D.J. Moore in the First Round, and That Isn’t a Terrible Choice

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2018 at 4:55 PM

Last night, old/new Panthers general manager Marty Hurney inaugurated his second official tenure as the team’s Roster-Maker-In-Chief by selecting Maryland wide receiver D.J. Moore in the first round of the 2018 draft. A fast riser in recent mock drafts, Moore is a speedy, gifted receiver who thrived in his last season in College Park despite being forced to catch passes from four separate quarterbacks due to a rash of injuries at the position. For Hurney, the pick is a recognition of the team's pressing need to find more help at the skill positions for Cam Newton. It is also...

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Friday, April 20, 2018

We Still Love You, Bruno!

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2018 at 12:36 PM

A friend and I got into a conversation recently about the pathos he experiences upon news of a professional wrestler dying. For all their sweat, we wondered, what did these strange people in their tights and boots, with their stony stares or their broad expressions, ever really accomplish? Anytime a major figure from pro wrestling’s past dies, my instinct is to check The New York Times for an obituary. My hope is that the death registers with the world outside of the message boards and websites dedicated to wrestling. When the Times does run a piece, as it did...

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dispatches from Duke Football's Annual Spring Game

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2018 at 3:42 PM

The weather was perfect for football as the Duke Blue Devils took the field Saturday for their annual Spring Game and open practice. Clouds gently rolled overhead, providing respite from a warm pre-summer sun that has taken far too long to arrive in earnest, giving the thousand or so diehards in attendance license to move from the shadow of Wallace Wade Stadium’s massive new luxury tower and press booth to rows much closer to the action. The field was organized chaos, as the afternoon started with a host of group and individual drills. Hundreds of players, coaches, and assistants...

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Our Football Withdrawal Formula, Part One: Five Gridiron Books Everyone Should Read

Posted By on Thu, Apr 12, 2018 at 1:03 PM

Nine weeks after the Super Bowl and three weeks before the draft, we officially enter Football Withdrawal season! Sure, the break has been nice, the basketball was fun, and other diversions abound to keep us busy. But seriously: When the holy eff does football start again? Four months, you say? What? In an effort to stay sane, we will spend part of the next couple of weeks offering you a handful of gridiron related gambits to tide you over until the fall. Here Mike V. provides a list of five football books every sports fan needs to read. With a...

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Sunday, April 8, 2018

It's Sunday at the Masters!

Posted By on Sun, Apr 8, 2018 at 2:22 PM

Jesus! Are you people watching this? So much has happened. God, I'm fried. Did you see Sergio rinse five balls and make a thirteen? Did you see Justin Thomas repeatedly chipping in from distance like a man dropping a letter in the mail? Did you see Tommy Fleetwood make six straight birdies? Voodoo. Witchery. He's a demon. Excommunicate that guy. He's double-dealing with Beelzebub. I like him though. He looks and talks like he could have been in Elephant's Memory. And this doesn't even take into account the leaders! I'm freaking out a little. Everything is fine. Tomorrow never knows...

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Get Out Your Green Jackets! Here’s a Beginner’s Guide to the Masters, the Greatest Sporting Event of the Year.

Posted By on Fri, Apr 6, 2018 at 10:11 AM

Can you feel it in the air? It's Masters Time! I love sports with the ardent, borderline indiscriminate fervor of a sailor on shore leave, so it's no small matter when I tell you that this is my favorite sporting event of the year. And it's no exaggeration to say this is set up to be one of the best Masters in a long time. If I were any more excited, I would require a mandatory state-sanctioned examination, which I would not pass. For those of you who already love the Masters—the ones who can smell what Bethy is cooking—you...

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Bulls Are Back in Town: A Primer on the Return of the Home Team (and the Greatest Rock ’n’ Roll Band Ever)

Posted By on Thu, Apr 5, 2018 at 9:52 AM

If I were a more inspired man, I might record a novelty version of Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town” for the Durham Bulls’ return to action this week. Guess who just got back today? Them wild-eyed Bulls that’d been away. The Bulls are back in town. The Bulls are back in town. Wait. I spelled insipid wrong, and I would be damned to ever disrespect such a benchmark of rock ’n’ roll with such poor taste. Seriously. Don’t do that. Anyway, it’s opening week for our beloved Bulls, the reigning Triple-A National Champions who return to the...

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Monday, April 2, 2018

Carolina Fans: Villanova Is Your Team, If Only for Tonight

Posted By on Mon, Apr 2, 2018 at 4:58 PM

I get the looks all over town. General unease at best. Outright scowls, seething anger, gritted teeth, and barely contained rage at worst. Every now and again and for a few instants, the placidness of our beautiful little town is broken and the passion of its denizens overtakes their inherent kindness. I’m a die-hard Villanova fan, a proud alum of a Villanova family, and I live in the center of Chapel Hill. And whenever I wear the dark blue and white, my Nova colors, around town, I can feel everyone looking, wishing very bad things might befall me. I...

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Sweeping Up: A Delightful Visit to the Triangle Curling Club

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2018 at 2:46 PM

Cut out of the woods on a quiet edge of Durham sits a long, slender building with a low roof and an expansive parking lot. It’s unassuming in stature and location, with nothing announcing its purpose, a building that hundreds of cars pass every day without even noticing. Inside, however, is a bustling club, a bar and lounge, kitchen area, locker rooms, dining tables, and, beyond a wall-length window, a sheet of ice half a football field in length and nearly as wide. They call that the “ice shed.” Friends mill about, chatting as they stretch and ready their...

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Deep Rough: Notes on Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian's Shoddy, Mean-Spirited New Biography of Tiger Woods

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2018 at 10:57 AM

As details begin to emerge from the earth-scorching new biography of Tiger Woods, cowritten by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian, the inevitable push and pull over the facts has begun in earnest. The newly published Tiger Woods advertises itself as an unflinching look at one of the world's most famous athletes, and indeed it spares little in the way of sordid details, real and invented. A spiritual throwback to Albert Goldman's lurid and disreputable biographies of Elvis Presley and John Lennon, the authors are governed by a singular determination to view Woods through a prism of their own formulation. The...

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