Pause for a moment before this Carolina Panthers-N.Y. Giants game to applaud a guy named Michael Jordan, who is expected to start at offensive guard for the Panthers on Sunday.
Yes, Michael Jordan, but not that Michael Jordan. Imagine for a second carrying that name throughout your life, and also being 6-foot-6 (the same height as the famous MJ), and also trying to make a career for yourself in professional sports.
It can’t have been easy for this 23-year-old MJ, especially given this fact:
“I’m actually pretty terrible at basketball,” Jordan said in his first press conference as a Panther this week. “You can ask the guys in the locker room, they already know. I’ve been terrible since I was a kid. I’ve got to look at the ball when I dribble.”
Jordan grew up in Michigan and wasn’t named for the basketball player, but instead for his father. He played offensive line at Ohio State and was a fourth-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2019. He started 19 games for the Bengals, but they eventually waived him.
The Panthers picked Jordan up and had him move to the very city where the famous Jordan owns the Charlotte Hornets basketball team. After a glut of injuries on the O-line, Jordan played decently last week and will likely start this week for a Panther team intent on running the ball more.
The two MJs have never met, although if I were the Hornets I would find a way to make that happen and then play it on the big video screen at a game. That’d be fun.
Michael Jordan the offensive guard plays at around 315 pounds, which is about 100 pounds over the weight of MJ the basketball player when he was active in the NBA. When asked about any funny stories about his name, the football player came up with the time at Ohio State when he ordered a pizza online in the name of Michael Jordan.
“All of a sudden, it says it will be here in 20 minutes. So I called the place and said I placed an order for Michael Jordan,” Jordan recalled. “He started cussing me out. He said, ‘It’s Super Bowl Sunday! You can’t be playing around with fake names like that!’ Then I went in and showed him my ID, and I got free pizza for a week.”
Darnold’s restaurant recommendation
▪ Speaking of good lines, quarterback Sam Darnold usually offers up very bland quotes during his weekly news conference. However, he did have a good one this week when — given the fact he played NFL games in New Jersey for three years for the New York Jets before getting traded to Carolina — a reporter asked him for a restaurant recommendation near the MetLife Stadium.
“Jersey Mike’s is really good,” Darnold deadpanned.
▪ If Matt Rhule gets anywhere near an overthrown ball this week, let’s hope he catches it. Rhule’s drop last week of a lobbed pass near the sideline made the televised “C’mon Man” segment. Rhule said he actually has dropped two passes in the past three weeks, but the first one wasn’t as clearly caught on camera.
It’s a get-well week for the Panthers. If you think Carolina’s injury report is bad, take a look at the New York Giants report, especially on offense. I’m not sure who Daniel Jones, the NFL quarterback from Charlotte, will have out there to throw it to.
I’m 4-2 so far picking Carolina games this season after nailing the Panthers’ loss to Minnesota last week, but this time I foresee an end to the Panthers’ three-game losing streak. My prediction: Carolina 26, N.Y. Giants 13.