RGIII’s NFL Debut; Nats Leading in Baseball; McIlroy Wins Second Major
August 14, 2012
By Ceci Ferrara
As the dust settles on the 2012 Summer Olympics (which concluded last night with a joyful and fun closing ceremony), the attention of sports enthusiasts turns to professional athletics. While the NFL season doesn’t kick off for another month, fans got a taste of football last week with the first preseason games.
Redskins fans got to see RGIII in action for the first time when he took the field against the Buffalo Bills in his much-anticipated debut. He was pulled before the end of the first quarter, but not before he led the Skins on an 80-yard touchdown drive (their only points of the game).
On fourteen plays, Griffin went four for six with 70 yards and a touchdown. Although it wasn’t a full game, he seemed to please coach Mike Shanahan with his performance.
“I thought he was cool, calm, and collected,” Shanahan said. “I thought he did what he had to do. You’re hoping your quarterback does play like that in his first game, but many times, it doesn’t happen that way, especially in game situations. I was pleased, and hopefully we can keep on growing.”
Despite the praise, Shanahan is aware that it was just a preseason game and noted that he would have to review the film before giving a full assessment on his new quarterback. While Redskins fans may be happy with the 7-6 win over Buffalo, it’s worth noting the team was undefeated in last year’s preseason (4-0), but went on to win only five games during the regular season.
Then again, their quarterback last year wasn’t the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
For the past few years, the franchise brass has maintained their desire to build a strong team through the ‘farm system,’ drafting and developing young talent instead of shelling out big bucks for ‘hired guns’. While that approach may take longer to produce results (the Nats were last in their division the past six out of seven seasons), the patience is finally paying off.
Even with yesterday’s loss to the Diamondbacks, the Nationals are the first major league team to hit 70 wins this season.
Thanks to their eight-game winning streak, the Nats alone have the best record in baseball: 71-44; .617, two games ahead of their closest competition, the Cincinnati Reds (69-46; .600). Washington has also extended its division lead over the Braves from three to 4.5 games. This is a comfortable position to be in as they look to clinch a playoff berth for their first time since moving from Canada.
Even as the Montreal Expos, the Nationals lacked an impressive postseason history: no national league championships, zero world championships, and one division championship (1981). It looks like this year’s team is poised to change all that.
Sunday’s 94th PGA Championship marked the last major of 2012 and another impressive win for Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy.
Wearing a red polo, McIlroy posed with his trophy after making a birdie on hole 18 and winning the championship by a record-breaking eight strokes. For his young age, the dominance he displayed on Sunday, and his choice of clothing, the 23-year-old Irishman garnered multiple comparisons with Tiger Woods, also known to wear a red polo on the final day of a tournament, and also age 23 when he won his second major in 1999.
But McIlroy is the first to dismiss the comparisons, saying he doesn’t know what to make of them. At the post-tournament press conference he told reporters, “I’ve won my second major at the same age. But he went on that incredible run like 2000, 2001, 2002, and won so many. I’d love to sit up here and tell you that I’m going to do the same thing, but I just don’t know. It’s been great to win my first major last year and to back that up with another one this year. I can’t ask for any more.”
Woods meanwhile finished 11th, a disappointing end for the golfer who—despite winning three PGA Tour events this year—is no closer to breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major wins than he was in January. He admits that his relaxed approach may have doomed him: “I was trying to enjoy it, enjoy the process of it. But that’s not how I play. I play full systems go, all-out, intense, and that’s how I won 14 of these things. You know, that’s something I rectified today, and I played a lot better because of it.”
Woods will play in the FedExCup playoffs in two weeks, but must wait until next year for a chance at Nicklaus’ elusive record.