Fourth and Long

Published 9:58 am Friday, August 10, 2012

It sure is a good time to be a sports fan.

The Olympics are wrapping up. The Unites States has won lots of gold medals, 39 to be exact. Our women’s soccer team got sweet revenge against a Japan squad that for the most part outplayed them for 80 of the 90 minutes. Japan didn’t have Hope Solo in goal, however, and we did. I expect the USA – Japan rivalry to be “on like Donkey Kong” from now on.

We got to see the best beach volleyball tandem of all time go out in style. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings ended their Olympic careers unbeaten and rarely tested with a record of 21-0. They have won three gold medals in a row and managed to bring an entire nations attention to beach volleyball. Watching them was watching something truly special.

Speaking of watching something special, Usain Bolt is fast…really, really fast. I remember Carl Lewis, Donovan Baily, Justin Gatlin and Flo Jo. I don’t remember ever seeing anybody “wow” me like Usain Bolt does. Just sayin’, dude is fast.

While everyone’s attention is in London the NFL is warming up for another season. As if the NFL ever needed to provide any more reason to watch there are several interesting storylines to watch for this year.

Peyton Manning is set to make his debut in Denver. How will one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time play under the indirect tutelage of one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. For a guy that soaks up knowledge like Peyton Manning does, I imagine having a guy like John Elway around can only make him better. Assuming, of course, that is even possible. Either way it should be fun to watch.

Tim Tebow is in New Jersey playing for Rex Ryan. That’s going to be fun to watch for a bunch of reasons. Between Tebow’s hype and Ryan’s mouth I don’t imagine it is going to take long for things to get interesting for the Jets. In fact, it has already gotten a little interesting.

I am curious to see how New Orleans responds to not having Head Coach Sean Payton around. If you ever wondered how much of a difference a head coach actually makes you are about to find out in the “Big Easy.”

Hertford County High School standout Tydreke Powell is in Minnesota trying to make the squad at nose guard. If they are smart enough to scoop him up the Vikings will have a lot of new fans in northeastern North Carolina.

College football is about to begin as well and if you are like me you are more excited about the beginning of College Game Day than you are about the NFL season kickoff. My beloved Tar Heels have a whole new coaching staff and a talented nucleus of players returning. That includes senior right guard and Bertie alumnus Travis Bond. Word is Bond has lost 40 pounds and is looking lighter on his feet than ever.

Certainly our area has its fair share of East Carolina fans, but they too gained a bunch more when they had the good sense to hire Hertford County native Brian Overton as Director of Football Operations and Player Personnel. I don’t know if anyone has been paying attention, but if you look at the Pirates recruiting efforts you can see that it is already beginning to make a difference.

As if the Olympics and the beginning of football pre-season were not enough the Lakers just got better with the acquisition of Dwight Howard. Is it too early to pencil in Los Angeles and Oklahoma City in the NBA Western Conference Finals? That sure would be fun to watch.


David Friedman is a long-time contributor to Roanoke-Chowan Publications. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at