Catching up with Jake
It wasnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t quite like when the New Orleans Saints held training camp in Thibodaux from 2000-02.
But the Manning Passing Academy gave local fans football in July, and reminded them that NFL training camps begin in a few weeks.
Those who braved the heat got to watch NFL MVP and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and his brother, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, toss the pigskin.
Also helping in the coaching duties was Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme.
I have met my share of professional athletes over the years, but I have to say Delhomme is one of the most humble.
Just like when he was with the Saints as a backup, he is approachable and will field an unlimited number of questions.
What IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ve always liked about Delhomme is his honesty.
When asked about the injuries that led to the PanthersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ 1-7 start last season, Delhomme said, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“We got beat up, but we donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t blame the injuries. We just didnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t play well in our first eight games.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬?
Delhomme also didnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t shy away from taking blame for the teamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s poor play.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“I put a ton (of pressure) on myself and I played absolutely like a dog the first half of the season. I played terrible. When the players went down (to injuries), my first reaction was IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ve got to make plays or IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ve got to do this,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬? Delhomme said.
With a healthy team and free agent acquisitions, the Panthers should be in the playoff hunt once again.
One key player missing from the PanthersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ offense will be receiver Muhsin Muhammad. He signed with the Chicago Bears after catching 16 touchdown passes last season.
Delhomme said the Panthers have talented receivers even without Muhammad.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“Steve Smith will be back and he was our No. 1 guy two years ago. Muhsin came in and did a great job. I wouldÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ve been glad to have him back. But, when (wide receiver) Steve (Smith) got hurt, Kerry Colbert wasnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t even active. Then he starts playing and wound up on the all-rookie team. We will be OK,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬? Delhomme said.
To get to the playoffs, the Panthers will have to get through the NFC South.
Atlanta went to the NFC Championship Game last season, and the Saints and Panthers had strong finishes in 2004.
Also, an improving Tampa Bay team will make getting through the division difficult.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“Every team in our division has talent. I think it is tough. You can certainly look at the NFC East, but I think ours is tough. Trust me. I feel it all week after we play (division games),ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬? Delhomme said.
It was good to speak with Delhomme again after his departure from the Saints.
He is still as humble and unassuming as ever. He is clearly one NFL player who is thankful for his opportunity and who respects the fact that an NFL career, much like a win on Sunday, is to be treasured.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“You can go from the penthouse to the outhouse real quick in the NFL. That is just the way it is. It is such a relief on Sunday after a win. But you already know in the back of your mind there is another game at the end of the week,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬? Delhomme said.
Teddy Renois is sports writer for the Daily Comet. He can be reached at 448-7618 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RE: Catching up with Jake
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