PEP Talk with Tony Ventrella: Thoughts From Charlotte

Tony Ventrella talks about his time in Charlotte.

As I sat in the press box at Bank of America Stadium Sunday waiting for the kickoff I got a sense that most of the people I saw the previous day at the mall were still there. Not too many of them came to the game.

In fact 21,000 people showed up disguised as empty seats. That's what happens when your team is supposed to be good and they're not. Combine a 5-8 record and the week before Christmas and you get a small crowd.

After three scoreless quarters I determined that the people still at the mall had made the better decision. There's no way to dance around the issue, it was a boring football game and my team lost 13-10. The first touchdown came with 1:17 left in the game and sealed the victory for Carolina.

It was a bump in the road for the Seahawks after having clinched the NFC West title the week before. I'm confident the team leaders will get the rest of the guys ready for Baltimore this weekend at Qwest field.

As far as the weekend in Charlotte there isn't much to say. It's a nice, quiet little city with a pleasant enough of sterile downtown area and some nice residential neighborhoods.

Right across the street from the Charlotte Convention Center is a vacant lot soon to be the home of the Nascar Hall of Fame. I looked for historical sights but had little success. Apparently there was a statue of James Polk somewhere in the city but none of the residents I asked knew where it was.

As I took my one hour walk through some of the neighborhoods Saturday morning I realized that only a small percentage of people put much thought into decorating for the holidays. I saw multi colored lights strewn randomly across bushes and trees, a few nicely placed door wreaths but way too many blow up Santa snow scenes.

To me Christmas is not a holiday that calls for inflatibles. The topper was the inflatable manger scene in the front yard of one of the houses I passed. There was the baby Jesus all blown up next to his inflated mother and father and several inflated wise men. It temporarily knocked me out of the Christmas spirit.

Thanks goodness for the National Anthem at the stadium the next day. That got me right back in the spirit. Four children from the "Make a Wish" program sang the anthem and did a great job.

Two good things happened in the game itself. One was the perfect long snapping by the new guy Jeff Robinson. That problem seems to be solved now. The other was the solid effort by Doug Baldwin who has now reached 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in his career.

A lot has been said and written about Bobby this season and all of it is well deserved. Bobby is a team leader, a thoughtful family man who really does care about his community. He is a guy who knows there is a world out there beyond his own. He realizes that a person is his position is able and obligated to help others in need. He does it now and he'll continue to do it long after he retires.

Bobby Engram is a Pro Bowl football player in every sense of the term. He is among the best on the field and off. Bobby understands that we were all put on this earth to give ourselves away in our own unique manner. The holiday season is about giving and receiving. Bobby understands that one cannot truely receive without giving.

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