Thoughts for a penny

opinions for two cents

September 30, 2004|by DAN KAUFFMAN

Here's my nickel. It used to be two cents, but inflation got in the way.

· By now, just about everything that can be written about the Americans' performance in the Ryder Cup has. But here's a thought I haven't seen mentioned ...

Back in 1999, the Ryder Cup was a major event. It was more than just a weekend this country's golfers circled on their calendars. Sports fans in general - and not only the ones who play a fair bit of the grand ol' game - watched the event on TV.

The point is, more than a month before the 1999 Ryder Cup was held, people were talking about it over office water coolers.


The 2001 Ryder Cup was shaping up to be the same kind of event - until Sept. 11, 2001. And for many reasons, some of which I'm not smart enough to explain, the Ryder Cup has never regained that "big event" feel in this country. Maybe overseas it has, but not here.

I was barely conscious of the fact the Ryder Cup was happening this year until the Monday before the event, and I cover sports for a living.

That ought to tell you something.

I'm not saying there aren't other reasons the Americans struggled this year.

I believe this country's players gear their careers more around winning majors and big-money events. They feel that their careers are defined more by those events than Ryder Cup performances, and correctly so. (Quick, tell me Jack Nicklaus' record in Ryder Cup play. This has been mentioned before by other writers, but it's a point worth repeating.)

I believe American golfers are more geared toward individual play than team play, whereas our overseas counterparts play far more team-oriented golf such as better-ball or alternate-shot matches.

But I also believe 9/11 had a major impact on how the general public in this country views the Ryder Cup. It's no longer a big event here, and hasn't been since that terrible day.

n Before I get run out of town, listen to me: Joe Gibbs will have the Redskins winning someday soon, but it may not be this season. The parts just don't add up quite right.

Clinton Portis is an all-world back, but he's not John Riggins or Ernest Byner. Those guys were North-South, smash-mouth, fullback-like bulldozers who wore down defenses.

Portis is a speed guy with just enough power to occasionally run between the tackles. He can't run 20 dive plays a game.

The poor guy is getting killed. I feel bad for him.

Opposing defenses know Gibbs is going to call the run up the middle and make the adjustments to stop it. They can get away with it because the 'Skins can't threaten teams deep. Laveranues Coles can get downfield, but Mark Brunell can't get the ball to him. He just can't.

Patrick Ramsey can, but too often he forces balls into double coverage. It's awful tough to beat opposing defenses in the NFL when they don't have to worry about getting beat deep.

Know what's on Gibbs' Christmas list? Jamal Lewis.

Dan Kauffman is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7520, or by e-mail at

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