NFC South: Phil Esposito

NFC South programming notes

June, 13, 2011
6/13/11
8:08
AM ET
I’m back at it Monday morning after burning some time off, which I figured I’d better take because there won’t be a dull moment for months once the lockout ends.

First off, although things were pretty quiet while I was gone, there are two things I’d like to weigh in on.

Friday’s memorial service for legendary Tampa Tribune sports editor Tom McEwen was every bit as spectacular as you would expect. Steve Spurrier, Lee Roy Selmon and Leonard Levy (a Tampa businessman, community activist and McEwen friend) were outstanding with their eulogies. Spurrier, in particular, had everyone laughing as he delivered an uplifting speech that made us remember Tom’s legacy is staying with us. There was also a moment when McEwen's true power really hit me. As a general rule, a lot of guys don’t sing out loud in public and I’m one of them. At one point, a song was being played and I looked across the church. In my line of vision, I saw football’s Jon Gruden, hockey’s Phil Esposito and baseball’s Tino Martinez all singing. Only McEwen could have created that scene.

On a lighter note, there was a little bit of excitement in Carolina last week when center Ryan Kalil sent out a tweet that suggested the Panthers will be the team featured on HBO’s “Hard Knocks’’ this summer. That’s not happening. The Panthers haven’t had any conversations with the people who run the show. There have been a lot of rumors about “Hard Knocks’’ and NFC South teams in the last few months. Let’s just clarify what’s real and what’s not. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers received an offer to be the featured team. They declined. There have been no talks with the Panthers or Falcons. I’m not sure if the Saints were ever approached or not, but they have no interest in being on the show. In other words, even if training camps take place, “Hard Knocks’’ is not coming to the NFC South this year.

Moving forward, I’m responsible for writing our story on the Power Rankings for left tackles that will appear Tuesday afternoon. I can’t reveal results yet, but I can tell you Carolina’s Jordan Gross and Tampa Bay’s Donald Penn were on my ballot. We’ll see if the rest of the voters thought enough of them to put them in the top 10.

We’ll stay on lockout watch, continue to monitor player workouts and be ready to dive into free agency if something breaks. Also, we’ll resume the NFC South chat Friday at 1 p.m. I’ll put up a reminder and a link later in the week.

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