But Saturday’s clash between the visiting Indianapolis Colts and the Washington Redskins will go a long way toward forming perceptions of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. And as we all know, perceptions die hard.
This game is only important for the conclusions that will be jumped to after it. If the Colts’ Luck outduels the Redskins’ RGIII, then Luck will gain the upper hand in the national discourse over which rookie quarterback will have the greater career. If Griffin has a stupendous outing and Luck struggles, observers may be re-thinking their early “Luck to Canton” hyperbole.
Never mind that every quarterback has a different learning curve; that every quarterback is dealt a different hand when it comes to offensive line support; that every quarterback has unique circumstances when it comes to the weapons around him; that every quarterback is fed distinctive terminology to digest that is either translatable to what he knew in college or utterly perplexing; and that every quarterback has a coaching staff with varying degrees of patience.
Luck and Griffin, as the Nos. 1 and 2 selections in the 2012 NFL Draft, respectively, have to prove themselves worthy of those lofty positions each week. That’s just the way it works. It’s true for just about every high-profile NFL rookie, but especially for quarterbacks, and especially for quarterbacks taken that high, and especially for quarterbacks taken that high who are hailed as once-in-a-generation discoveries.
This is one of the rare NFL exhibitions that aid in the furthering of knee-jerk reactions. I can’t wait for kickoff.
Baseball's drug policy still one big mess
In the wake of the Melky Cabrera fiasco — a phony web site is probably the dumbest thing ever done by a player in the game’s 167-year history — there are calls for stiffer penalties in Major League Baseball for violations of the policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
But I think you can also feel the reaction to those demands for tougher punishment — resignation, sighs, shrugs. That’s because there’s almost no belief that the situation will get any better, and that MLB and the Players Association will agree to stronger sanctions for the good of the game.
The result of that inaction? Decreased credibility. Baseball is slowly becoming cycling.
The San Francisco Giants’ Cabrera received a 50-game suspension for his PED offense, and he’ll lose a lot of money on his next contract. But it’s not enough to clean up the sport.
First offense should be an entire 162-game season. Second offense should be a lifetime ban. And that’s being lenient: A lot of pundits would like to see a lifetime ban the first time.
As long as MLB has a testing program with fat loopholes, players will cheat, because the financial incentive is there. As long as players cheat, some will get caught and make headlines. When they do, they will serve as reminders that baseball has an ongoing credibility problem that it is reluctant to address. That results in a further lack of credibility.
See where this is going, baseball? Positive results, negative direction.
Ready for Chick-fil-A mess to seep into sports?
Looking ahead to the bowl season in college football, one game stands out like never before:
The Chick-fil-A Bowl on Monday, Dec. 31.
Chick-fil-A, as you may have heard, made news recently with its stance on gay marriage. Its President and COO, Dan Cathy, came out in opposition to same-sex unions, and that’s when the filet hit the fan. Those who agreed with Cathy lined up and pigged out. Those who disagreed protested. Politicians on both sides took the opportunity to be opportunistic.
Chick-fil-A’s sales spiked. Yet I think most people involved figured the issue would eventually die down and fade away.
It’s a good bet, though, that the Chick-fil-A Bowl will fire up the controversy again. It should be pointed out that the game takes place in Atlanta, where most folks are probably friendlier to Cathy’s side of the argument. And the schools involved most likely will also be from the South: It pits the ACC’s No. 2 team against the SEC’s No. 5 team.
But whichever schools are involved will most surely have to deal with the ruckus again. It’s a nationally televised sports event carrying the Chick-fil-A brand. It’s the perfect moment for both sides to re-ignite the argument. It will only be about five months removed from the initial blowup. And while the November elections will be done, creating a brief respite from national divisiveness, the issue itself won’t be resolved by then. That’s going to happen in the courts.
If you’re two schools invited to that game, do you really want to accept knowing that your coaches, players, alumni and fans will be thrust into that mess? Considering that a lot of times schools lose money by participating in bowls, is it really worth it?
If you’re so in love with Chick-fil-A food that you couldn’t imagine passing up the free grub, then I get it. Otherwise, I don’t.
Augusta's new members don't signal sea change
Augusta National finally broke down and admitted two female members. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina businesswoman Darla Moore will become the first two women given green jackets in the club’s 80-year history.
It’s a significant milestone. But is it progress?
Augusta National said it would not be forced by public pressure into making membership decisions about its very private club. And it held that position fiercely for years. It didn’t admit its first black member until 1990. Now in 2012, it’s opening the doors to two women.
But this move doesn’t mean Augusta National will now admit members regardless of race, color, creed or gender. It just means the club finally relented and made two exceptions to its highly restrictive policy.
What’s more important is if these two female members turn out to represent a new open-door approach, so that the membership at Augusta National looks like the rest of the country. It would be much more significant if the club didn’t just make history with one membership announcement, but continues to make history with more such admissions.
I’d also like to know if Rice and Moore will have to play from the men’s tees. But that’s a topic for another day.
A game of pepper:
Michael Ventre is a regular contributor to NBCSports.com; follow him on Twitter @MichaelVentre44.
2013 SNF Schedule
Check out the 2013 Sunday Night Football schedule.
Latest from ProFootballTalk
Video: Football from NBC Sports
Gronk has successful surgery
ProFootballTalk: Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski had successful surgery on his back, but Mike Florio says this was expected.
Check out some of the NFL cheerleaders from across the league.