05 October, 2010


A lot of people don’t know this about me, but once in a while, I LOVE to get my eyeballs around a really good Western. And I LOVE the more recent films with the elder Marion “Duke” Morrison in the starring role of the aged gunslinger, lawman, cowboy, etc. And upon getting the double dip news about Dewayne Jarrett driving while wasted, AND getting cut, gave me pause, and I started to think about the last Western I enjoyed – twice in one week – Here’s the basic plotline –

An aging trailmaster has his regular crew take off from his ranch during the Gold Rush of ’49. Desperate for help, he visits a local schoolhouse in consideration of hiring some teenage boys for the 400 mile cattle drive. He leaves disgusted, but the next morning all the boys from the schoolhouse, from pre-pubescent to mid-teens show up eager for the adventure. After all of them successfully show their riding and roping skills, they take off for Montana, where they quickly learn to become men. When rustlers show up and mortally wound John Wayne’s character and take off with the herd, the young boys, after getting over their sorrow and shock, devise a plan with the help of the chuckmaster, kill all the rustlers, and get Will Andersen’s cattle to their destination.

The movie, of course, is 1972’s The Cowboys, and it has the honour of being one of a very few Westerns I’ve paid money to see in the theatres. Get the pixtchure?

I couldn’t help thinking of the aged John Fox, with a football season to get through, and nothin’ but a group of kids to “drive the cattle” to their final destination. Just think about it! When have we had a team THIS young? Who is starting this weekend against the Bears? A rookie QB, ALL rookie wideouts, two and three year backs, a defense full of recent draft picks –

And like the kids that showed up at Will Andersen’s ranch-

They can do the job well enough for Sunday. Or they would have never made it to the league. They’ll make their mistakes. They are getting their coach (or coaches) fired. Ok, that’s a stretch. But you can see the lines I’m trying to draw. Anything is possible in the NFL, but I think we can all say with a large measure of certainty –

We are NOT making the playoffs this year. Not with this group. Not with this coaching staff. But these young professionals, some of whom are young enough to be our kids, are getting their shot to play a big man’s game. Just as it was to watch the little boys grow into men on that cattle drive, it should be heartening to watch who among these kids wearing Panther Blue is going to step up and be a long-term player. As a father-coach who coached Lauren and her friends in basketball, I can relate to pulling for kids. One thing’s for sure – we WILL finish the season, and the next steps will be taken by the Big Cat to rebuild his (and OUR) beloved NFL franchise. We will see a vastly different Panther team next year, if the dreaded lockout does not materialize.

Just as the parents of those Cowboys saw very different kids when they returned to Will Andersen’s ranch when the drive was over.

A short little rant this midweek evening. Thanks, ^(^#@^#@^+_%$@##+@ computer, for letting me get this far with this…

I’ll be back with thoughts about the weekend –

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