Tom Sorensen

Tom Talks: Deflategate yes, Talladegagate no

Welcome back to Tom Talks, the sports talk show of the printed page. I mean, welcome back if you’ve been here before. If not, no hard feelings.

Tom, Chadsworth from Chapel Hill. I’m actually Chadsworth III, but I don’t want to sound pretentious. Why did Jimmie Johnson allow Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win in Talladega?

Johnson allowed Earnhardt Jr. to win for the same reason the Charlotte Hornets allowed opponents to beat them 49 times this season, the Panthers allowed the Seattle Seahawks to beat them in the NFL playoffs, Manny Pacquiao allowed Floyd Mayweather to beat him in Las Vegas and the Milwaukee Brewers allow almost every team they play to beat them. That’s a long way of saying that Johnson didn’t allow Earnhardt to win. Some people wake up and see conspiracy. I wonder how many of them can spell conspiracy on the first try.

Tom, Steve from Shelby. Do you think Tom Brady will be suspended for his role in Deflategate?

How can he not be? The fake crowd noise the Atlanta Falcons pumped into the Georgia Dome cost them $350,000, a 2016 fifth-round draft pick and credibility. Using footballs deflated below the league standard 12.5 pounds per square inch, is considerably more offensive than artificial fans. Unless New England’s equipment assistant and locker room attendant deflated the balls because they needed a hobby, it’s reasonable to think that the man who throws the balls is complicit. If you have doubts, read the 243-page report the NFL released this week. Many of you believe NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is a joke. I don’t. But he will be if he fails to suspend Brady.

But Brady is one of the best quarterbacks of all time and a celebrity. He goes to the Kentucky Derby, sits ringside at Mayweather-Pacquiao and could have gone with his teammates to the White House. How many games do you think he’ll be suspended?

The over/under, according to gambling website Bovada, is 3 1/2 games. Not sure which way I’d bet, but I lean toward the under.

Tom, Gary from Garysburg.

That’s reasonable.

Thanks. I believe in first impressions. Who stood out at the first session of Carolina Panthers’ minicamp?

The defensive backs were on the field farthest from where we stood, so it was tough to get a feel for them. I watched the offensive lineman but focused on the receivers. Devin Funchess, the No. 2 pick out of Michigan, stood out. He’s tall, he can move and he caught almost everything. Cole Jaeschke, a quarterback out of Upper Iowa, missed him deep. But Funchess, 6-4, ran the ball down, reached out and got one long hand on it and almost pulled the ball in.

He’s a draft pick. He’s supposed to be good. How about a player the Panthers didn’t draft?

I like Avius Capers, a receiver who played for Independence High and Johnson C. Smith. Quick cuts, nice speed and he hustled, diving to the ground for a pass a few yards beyond him. His pink shoes made him look faster.

Tom, Charlie from Chocowinity. Do you know what Chocowinity means?

It means otter or little otter.

I’m impressed. The Panthers drafted only five players. Is minicamp worth going to?

I hate clichés, but there is no next best thing to being there. I’ve read about the draft picks and the rookies that weren’t drafted, and I wanted to see them. There always are surprises. I had no idea who No. 46 was. But man, did he go hard. So I looked him up. He’s Lee Ward, a fullback from Stanford. He runs as if launched. He runs as if he wants to tackle somebody.

Tom, Gil from Rock Hill. Why do you have it in for the Patriots?

You’ll recall that eight years ago they starred in Spygate, the scandal in which they violated NFL rules by filming opposing coaches. Now they’re caught up in Deflategate. If you’re a Patriots’ fan, you could say that your team leads the league in coincidences. I say they lead the league in gates.