A convincing 24-9 victory over Houston catapulted the Carolina Panthers to sole possession of first place in the NFC South Division. The last time the Carolina Panthers had sole possession of first place in the NFC South after three games was way back in 2003.
Carolina moved to 3-0 on the season but the success came at a cost. The Panthers will be without star running back Christian McCaffrey for two to four weeks due to a strained hamstring he sustained early in the game. They will also miss star rookie cornerback Jaycee Horn for a few months with a broken foot.
Carolina will need to receive solid productivity from quarterback Sam Darnold who has now passed for over 300 yards in consecutive outings. The Panthers have also surprised the NFL with their defense that recorded four quarterback sacks last week and now are a top-five defense.
The NIL Jinx
We are a month into the 2021 college football season and also a month into the new NIL legislation (name, image, and likeness) . NIL is a rule change that allows college athletes at every level to monetize their success with the use of their name, image, and likeness.
The change led to a seemingly infinite number of questions on how it would affect the game. Though it could be considered a small sample size, it seems to be affecting four of the top quarterbacks in the NCAA. Each member of the quartet reportedly are amongst the highest paid athletes in terms of NIL money.
Sam Howell (North Carolina), DJ Uiagalelei (Clemson), Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma) and D’Eriq King (Miami) are off to below average starts compared to past history.
Howell threw three interceptions in a season-opening loss to Virginia Tech and North Carolina already has two defeats in the weak ACC.
What about King you ask? He is expected to make seven figures this year. King is not doing much on the field. He’s thrown more interceptions (four) than touchdowns (three).
Uiagalelei has struggled big time, He has failed to show anywhere close to the potential he displayed in two starts last year, and Clemson has now lost two regular-season games for the first time since 2014.
Rattler was booed by his own fans last week, who were calling for him to be replaced by his backup, Caleb Williams, in a narrow win over West Virginia.
One has to ask (or wonder) if the money and the extra time needed to satisfy these companies impact the players? Is the pressure getting to them? You know companies that are paying Rattler endorsement money were not thrilled about hearing the boos.
It’s still so early in the NIL era that it’s impossible to know the exact reasons. Moving forward, I believe you can expect companies to be more careful with whom they invest in. There is no doubt some are second-guessing themselves for some of the partnerships that were established before the season. After all, struggling stars don’t sell.