It has been a quick rise to the top for Cam Newton.  He hit rock bottom in November 2008 when he was arrested for theft of a laptop (charges were dropped after Newton completed a diversion program).  This dark day resulted in Newton transferring to Blinn College, whom he lead to the JUCO national championship.  He then transferred to Auburn, leading them to the NCAA national championship and snagging a Heisman Trophy along the way.

The critics weren’t sure that Newton’s game would transfer to the NFL.  Would he become a super star, or go the route of JaMarcus Russell and set his NFL franchise back a few years?

Two games into his NFL career, Newton seems to have answered his critics.  With 422 yards in his first game and 432 in his second game, he broke Kurt Warner’s record for most passing yards in the first two games of the season (which had been 827).  Tom Brady smashed the mark later in the day when he reached 940 yards for the season, but that certain didn’t diminish Newton’s accomplishment.

However, before we build a statue for Newton, it’s time to take a step back.  First of all, other than Newton’s time at Florida (before Blinn) where he backed up Tim Tebow, he really has just one season of major college football under his belt.  This also means that there’s not as much film on Newton as there are on other rookies.  Newton is also on pace for 664 attempts.  Only twice in the history of the NFL has anyone thrown more than that many times – so it’s likely that his pass attempts will trend downward a bit.  Let’s also not overlook the 4 interceptions.  I’m not saying that Newton won’t be a great NFL quarterback – but let’s not start the work on his Canton bust quite yet.  Two games does not an NFL career make.

Around the NFL

The city of Philadelphia watched in horror as Michael Vick suffered a concussion and was replaced at quarterback by Franz Kafka.  Sorry, MIKE Kafka. Philly’s normal backup, Vince Young, was dinged up an inactive for this game.  That means that over the long term, the Eagles will be a bit stronger at QB than they were for this game (no disrespect to you, Mike – you certainly made the best of your opportunity).  A big factor in whether or not Michael Vick is worth $100 million is his health, especially has he ages.

Rumors are starting to swirl that the Colts might pursue Brett Favre in an attempt to save their season.  Really?  You want that soap opera on your team?  I’d take a pass and work out someone like Duante Culpepper.

Teams that have started the season 2-0: Patriots, Bills, Jets, Texas, Redskins, Packers, and Lions.  Teams that have started 0-2 are the Dolphins, Colts, Seahawks, Vikings, and Cam Newton’s Panthers.  The AFC North has a four way tie for first place, with the Ravens, Bengals, Brows, and Steelers are starting the season 1-1.

Cyclones Rally Behind Man of Steele

Iowa State QB Steele Jantz engineered a 4th quarter comeback for the third straight game, pushing the Cyclones to a 3-0 record with a win against Connecticut.  The state’s “other” 1-A team, the Iowa Hawkeyes, rallied from a 21 point second half deficit to knock off the Pitt Panthers.

Sadly, Notre Dame notched their first win of the year.

In realignment news, Syracuse and Pitt are the newest members of the Big East.  Iowa State and Baylor have initiated discussions with the Big East regarding joining the conference if the Big XII implodes (which seems to be a near certainty at the moment.  I think I’d prefer to simply become a 1-A independent, but the money is probably better as a conference member.

Around the diamond

Detroit’s Justin Verlander picked up his 24th win of the year with a complete game 3 hitter on Sunday.  Nobody has reached 25 wins since Bob Welch went 27-6 in 1990.  In the era of the five man rotation and extensive use of the bullpen in late innings, this is an almost impossible achievement, even if you’re on your “A” game all year.  I’m in the camp that says a starting pitcher can be an MVP candidate.  While it’s true that they don’t play every day, they have a massive amount of influence on the outcome of every game they player.  Even Albert Pujols has a lot of games where he’s a small factor in the outcome – position players simple have fewer opportunities to affect the outcome.

The Red Sox are finishing the season the way they started it (remember that awful April), losing 11 of their last 14 games.  After being arguably the best team in baseball for the majority of the season, the Sox are only two games up in the wild card race as we head into the final two weeks of the season.

In the National League, the Cardinals have tightened up a wild card race that was a runaway a few weeks ago.  They stand 3 1/2 games back as we head down the stretch.  The streaking Giants (8 straight wins) are just four back of the Braves in the wild card and five back in the division.

My favorite Brad Pitt movie ever?

Brad Pitt takes to the silver screen this weekend in the movie adaptation of the Michael Lewis book Moneyball.  I’m a big fan of the book, but am worried that the movie will distort or over-simplify the Bean approach.  Contrary to what many people think, it’s not just about walks (although a number of teams still don’t realize the importance of a free base on balls).

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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