After a brief hiatus, it is truly special to be "back in the game" and once again, reporting all things sports for The Messenger.
From covering area high school and youth sports, to local adult leagues and recreational activities, to offering my perspective on professional sports as well, I am honored and looking forward to "picking up the ball" once again and running with it... hopefully for a touchdown or two!
Folks, sometimes you don't fully realize what you have until suddenly it isn't there anymore, therefore I am both grateful and excited to again have the opportunity to provide all the Messenger readers with their
weekly sports coverage. With that all said... let's get to it!
Yes, fans of the National Football League, just when you thought he might actually stay home, Brett Favre has "un-retired" once again (at least he didn't cry at the press conference this time) and joined of all teams, the Packers biggest rival, the Minnesota Vikings.
Can you say "vendetta"? Remember, Green Bay actually forced Favre's "first retirement" last year and he didn't like it. So what better way to get the Pack back than to go play for the Vikings.
Favre is certainly a first ballot Hall Of Famer, but at this rate he may be collecting social security by the time he gets to The Hall in Canton, Ohio.
Even Packer fans have to be tired of Brett's act, especially after signing a two-year deal with the hated, rival Vikings.
Think about it, Favre donning a Vikes uniform is equivalent to Tom Brady signing with the Jets or Tony
Romo signing with the Redskins.
And then to make matters worse, Favre stated that "true Packer fans should understand." Excuse me Brett? Yeah, Packers fans understand all right. They understand that one of the all-time great Packer players has signed with Green Bay's most hated rival. That's like Bart Starr playing for the Giants!
Good luck when you visit Lambeau Field twice this season Brett. ---------------------------------
On the other end of the NFL spectrum, New England Patriot fans have to be thrilled that quarterback Tom Brady is finally back on the field and looking fully recovered from his off season knee surgery.
Brady has looked good thus far in pre season and he once again, looks to have a loaded offense around him with the additions of running back Fred Taylor, wide receiver Joey Galloway and tight end Chris Baker, who caught two touchdown passes from Brady in the exhibition opener.
However the question right now for the Patriots isn't the offense, it is the defense. New England has almost an entirely new secondary and they were one of the worst teams in the league at getting to the quarterback last season.
On top of that, veteran defensive end Richard Seymour missed the first pre season game with a calf injury which is not a good sign. The Patriots need Seymour to somewhat return to past form as they try to figure out how to put more pressure on the quarterback.
Another concern has to be the back up quarterback position, as Matt Cassel has moved on to the Kansas City Chiefs. Although Brady certainly appears ready to go, having Kevin O'Connell and Andrew Walter in the wings doesn't necessarily exude confidence at the position.
Someone else to watch on this team may be rookie wide receiver Julian Edelman, who caught five passes in the first pre season game and also returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown.
Now, I am not going to anoint this kid as the next Wes Welker just yet, as I heard more than one Pats fan say after his impressive debut, but catching passes from Tom Brady automatically puts him ahead of the learning curve as the season
In the NBA, the Boston Celtics certainly had a good off season, just for the simple fact that Kevin Garnett will be back and hopefully healthy from the get-go. This alone will go a long way towards trying to get back to The NBA Finals.
However the signing of former Detroit Pistons forward/center Rasheed Wallace seems to be a great move towards solidifying the bench, plus he can play two or three positions on the floor which will really bolstwill fall into place
Also the re-signing of Glen "Big Baby" Davis is huge because it now gives Boston a really nice one-two punch coming off the bench.
Of course in the end, it will all come down to the health of Kevin Garnett. If KG is back - then so are the Celtics!
In Red Sox Nation news, the John Smoltz experiment officially came to an end last week when the Sox released the 42-year-old future Hall of Famer after he posted a 2-5 record and an earned run average well over eight!
What once seemed like a steal to sign the veteran for his experience on the mound, turned into a nightmare as Smoltz got hammered several times including his final Sox' start at Yankee Stadium.
It certainly looks like you have to put this one, along with a couple other recent Red Sox signings, on general manager Theo Epstein.
In Epstein's defense, he usually seems to make deals that work out well for the Red Sox, but recent history has not necessarily been on Theo's side as he hasn't always been on the mark with his player signings.
The most recent names coming to mind include the aforementioned Smoltz, starting pitcher Brad Penny who has been hot-and-cold at best and recently released shortstop Julio Lugo.
Oh, and don't forget that the fragile J. D. Drew is the highest paid player on the current roster and Dice-K has spent the last two months in extended spring training after getting racked early in the season.
Not exactly names that draw comparison to Mark Texeria and C. C. Sabathia, a couple of recent Yankee signings.
All this aside however, you still gotta feel pretty good about the Sox winning the wild card and sneaking into the playoffs. Outside of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Kevin Youkilis and perhaps Jason Bay, the rest of the roster has pretty much under-achieved to this point and Boston is still (at press time) leading the wild card race.
On the local sports scene and as all the fall high school teams prepare for their upcoming seasons, I plan to cover as many games and events as I can within our coverage area including Bellows Falls Union High School, Green Mountain Union High School, Springfield High School, Black River High School, Leland & Gray Union High School, Burr & Burton Academy, Fall Mountain Regional High School and Vermont Academy.
With that being said and as you may imagine, as a one-person sports team it is literally impossible to cover all the games and activities going on in our region. Therefore I encourage our readers to submit any sports
and recreational information, photos and story ideas for inclusion in The Messenger and I will always do my very best to pack into each issue, as many submissions as possible.
Please send all sports-related submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let the games begin!