Saturday, January 28, 2023

Mr. Endurance Interviews Mr. Endurance

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

I have to admit that I met my match, not personally, but on the road.

I’ve been driving since I was 16 which amounts to 44 years on the road.

When I passed my drivers test on my birthday, December 29, 1962., on a blustery winter day in Southfield, MI, my dad never let me hear the end of it in a joking way that I ran a red light in Waterford, MI.

I would joke around with him that even though I had that inadvertent mishap, I’ve managed to do well through the years and and he smiled at me.

I recently bought a hat at a Truck Stop called “King of The Road” and for those that know me, I enjoy taking trips across the country instead of flying. 

I’m not a fan of security checks at the airport, don’t like overspending on rental cars and having to get to the airport at least two hours for a flight. There is always the anxiety that a flight could get cancelled.

Between business and cross country drives, I’ve driven over four million miles.

My wife gave the the name, “Crazy Man” because of the fact that I get stronger as the drive wears on, especially driving at night. 

During the night hours, I like to play music and like the fact there is less traffic on the road. 

My late mother-in-law was very nervous about my adventures especially knowing I was doing them with her daughter in the car. 

She was okay as time wore on. 

I couldn’t call my late grandmother Sophie because I was afraid that I would make her sick. But she was glad to see me when I got home because of all the stories I would tell her. 

A few years ago, I got my taste of covering endurance racing at Sebring Raceway. 

The race is held in March and it’s called the 12-Hours of Sebring which is on a race track that was the site of Hendricks Army Airport. 

The course of the track is 3.74 miles that has a lot of holes on the surface which takes a toll on the automobiles.

The man that gave me a good education on endurance racing was Sebring Historian, who handles the Media Credentials, Ken Breslauer.

I met a lot of writers that were pleasant and gave me pointers and by the end of the weekend, I started interviewing drivers.

But there was one person I met that impressed the heck out of me and we became friends.

His name is Graham Goodwin and this 58-year old is the Editor of Dailysportscar. 

He’s been covering endurance races for 21 years.

Graham and I spoke at the Roar Before The 24, which are preliminary races leading up to the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway that takes place from January 26-29.

Our interview occurred on “No Limits” that is on the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel. There in no charge to subscribe. 

What amazes me about Graham is he’s covered 13 Rolex 24’s and 89 24-Hour Races.

I asked him a lot of questions during the interview that lasted slightly over an hour.

I asked him his routine during a 24 hour race, whether he gets sleep, talked about the various tracks he’s been to and he gave me advice on covering my first 24 hour race.

I even told him that he reminded me of Lou Gehrig (New York Yankees) Cal Ripken Jr. (Baltimore Orioles) and Gordie Howe (Detroit Red Wings) as iron men in their respective sports.

I have to tell you that this was the fastest one hour interview that I’ve experienced in 43 years during My Sports Media Career.

I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed doing it.

IMSA, which does the endurance racing doesn’t get the notoriety that IndyCar Racing, open wheel or NASCAR gets, but it’s a money machine when you factor that sports car racing at long increments tests tire durability, the engines from manufacturers like Mercedes Benz, Lexus, Cadillac, Porsche and many others.

But if you want to get an education on endurance racing, Graham Goodwin will give it to you.

Covering endurance racing is a far cry from the conventional sports that I’ve dealt with in the past.

But the Rolex 24 has always been a bucket list item and now that I can check that off the list. 

My hope is to get addicted to this because unlike the regular motor sports events, you track drivers and manufacturers. 

Nobody is going to turn their head around non-stop for 12-24 hours especially when you have a combination of daylight and darkness.

Since I figured out Sebring twice, there will be a huge gratification of me when I’m doing this.

I’m definitely doing a journal and taking in all of the media availability’s available to me.

In the meantime, Graham Goodwin has been a good tutor, has traveled all over the world doing these events, but I feel good that I’ve demonstrated enough endurance in traveling all over the USA. I’m also proud of the fact that I’ve hit all 50 States.

But it’s real cool that Mr. Endurance got to Interview Mr. Endurance at the “World Center Of Racing” (Daytona International Speedway).

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com. You can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

Also, once again, Subscribe to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel to see all of Scott’s broadcasts. 


NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson’s Continues To Tackle More Challenges

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

Every sport can make a case as to which athlete is The Greatest Of All Time (GOAT).

The NASCAR Series can make a case for Jeff Gordon, Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Another driver that you can easily make a case for is 47-year old Jimmie Johnson.

The native of El Cajon, California., has won 83 races, has 3744 Top Tens and 36 Poles in his NASCAR Cup Series career. He has run 686 races in 20 years and is a seven time NASCAR Cup Champion. He has won the Daytona 500, four times.

He’s also competed in the NASCAR Xfinity Series as well as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Johnson ran 25 races in two years in the IndyCar Series.

If there was ever a driver that liked to compete with lots of different competition ranging from ovals and road courses, it’s Johnson as a few years ago, he took a crack at the 12-Hours of Sebring. 

It was interesting to see him compete on a demanding track such as Sebring.

During the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, Johnson addressed us about his future racing plans.

I did manage to get a pair of questions and I will share them and his responses with you.

Q: When it’s all said and done, do you want to feel like you’ve accomplished everything that you can on the Motor Sports Stage, where you left nothing undone?

A: Yeah, I think that is buried in my mind somewhere. More than anything, I just want to drive race cars. I think the last couple years I’ve proven that or I’ve even showed that, I should say, and an opportunity like this is once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s the last thing on my bucket list, as well, my own personal list that I’ve had through the years, is to go to LeMans. But I also feel like my involvement now with Legacy Motor Club and my future in the sport itself, I’m not done. I love motorsport far and wide and really look forward to the years that I have a head of myself. I think there are less years of driving the car and holding the steering wheel and more outside of, but really excited for the challenges ahead.

Q: The thought of driving in a 24-hour race, is that something that—how do you approach that knowing that this is one heck of a challenge and it’s on that list of things that you’re looking to accomplish?

A: I have enjoyed the races I’ve had here at the Rolex 24 and can only imagine what it will be like in France. As an endurance sports athlete, doing triathlons and marathons and such, I just love that kind of challenge. I’ve always left a 24-hour race here just exhausted physically and mentally with a smile on my face. I really do enjoy the challenge.

Little did Johnson know that I was covering my first 24-hour race in my 43 Sports Media Career. 

I’ve covered the 12-Hours of Sebring a couple of times.

But this is a guy that is simply a “Racer” not a “Driver” and his competitive desire to keep on going at a high level is truly amazing. More importantly, he’s an even better person.

You can watch the entire press conference in this story and see all of what Jimmie and the rest of what was said from the individuals that spoke to us. 

It will truly be worth the watch.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

Also, By Subscribing to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel, you can see all of his different broadcasts that cover a wide range of interests.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Jaguars Home Hat Trick

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

What a football season it’s been!

I mean it literally and figuratively.

Try scrambling to finish the end of MLB and then work NASCAR into a busy Fall.

Before going to Cooperstown, NY in August with My wife Candy, I was able to attend the Miami Hurricanes Media Availability and got a lot a lot accomplished!

By the end of August, College Football began a demanding schedule that saw us cover the majority of the FAU Owls Home Games and all of the Miami Hurricanes,

I’m thinking that I wonder if I’ll have the opportunity to cover NFL Games this year.

The answer to that question was yes!

The break in my schedule came on December 18, 2022 when I made the five hour trek up to Jacksonville to see the Jaguars host the Dallas Cowboys.

Finding a hotel was practically impossible as the Cowboys fans invaded Northern Florida. 

But we did manage to find one in nearby St. Augustine.

Things didn’t look good for the Jaguars, who trailed by 17 points, but this team coached by Doug Pederson and quarterbacked by Trevor Lawrence showed no quit and came away with a walk off 40-34 win in overtime.

Lawrence would amass 318 yards and threw for four touchdowns. 

Meanwhile, Dak Prescott showed why he’s the most scrutinized QB in the NFL. 

He had three touchdown passes, but also tossed two interceptions including a costly pick-six in overtime that saw Dallas remain winless at TIAA Bank Stadium at 0-2.

The Jaguars would proceed to win the next two road games against the New York Jets and Houston Texans 19-3 and 20-16.

This set the stage for the next game we’d cover that occurred on Saturday, January, 7th as the Jaguars played in a Nationally Televised flexed prime-time contest that would decide the AFC South against the Tennessee Titans.

Before I get to the particulars, we spent the previous two weeks in Racine, WI., visiting family during the holidays, then had a quick turnaround heading back to Jacksonville.

The Jaguars outscored Tennessee 13-3 in the second half to win 20-16 in front of 70,050 fans.

Lawrence had a solid night by going 20-32 with one touchdown and zero interceptions. WR Christian Kirk had six receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown.

The Cardiac Cats would live to see another week.

They would face an opponent they they dominated in Week 3 by thrashing the LA Chargers 38-10.

Going into the game, this marked the Jaguars fifth home postseason game and first since they defeated the Buffalo Bills, 10-3 on January 7, 2018, a game which I covered and the QB was Blake Bortles.

Jacksonville has recorded a 3-1 record in home playoff games while head coach Pederson, has served as the head coach inn three home playoff games and recorded a 2-1 record.

This game turned out to be the second time the Jaguars had played a home post-season game on Saturday. 

In their lone Saturday home postseason contest, they thrashed the Miami Dolphins, 62-7. The Jaguars entered the game 7-7 all-time in the postseason.

Forty players on the Jaguars active roster made their postseason debut. 

Thirteen current players have been on an active roster for a game in the postseason. 

Cornerback Darious Williams leads the Jaguars with six playoff games, including the 2022 Super Bowl with the Rams.

I’ll take a phrase from the legendary late broadcaster Jack Buck when he called LA Dodgers outfielder Kirk Gibson’s legendary home run in the 1988 World Series against the Oakland A’s in the first game.

“I can’t believe what I just saw.”

What we saw was the Jaguars fall behind 27-0 late in the first half. 

I had the same feeling that I had from the Dallas game, how are they going to pull out this win?

The Jaguars scored a touchdown late in the first half, trimming the deficit to 27-7.

Lawrence was downright dreadful to begin the game as he became the third quarterback in the Super Bowl era to throw four interceptions in the first half of a playoff game joining Detroit’s Gary Danielson and Denver’s Craig Morton.

But he bounced back as well as anyone in NFL history. Jacksonville’s comeback goes down in post-season lore behind only Buffalo’s rally on January 3, 1993 (32 points against Houston) and Indianapolis on January 4, 2014 (28 points against Kansas City).

After throwing four interceptions, the former Clemson signal caller finished 28-47-288 yards and threw for four touchdowns. 

Lawrence engineered the final drive, highlighted by Travis Etienne’s 25-yard run, that would subsequently lead to a Riley Patterson 36-yard field goal on the final drive, giving Jacksonville an epic 31-30 win in front of 70,250 jubilant fans.

The Jaguars (10-8) won their sixth consecutive game and fifth straight at home, all five in come from behind fashion.

Amazingly enough, dating back to college, Lawrence is 38-0 on Saturday’s.

The Jaguars improved to 8-7 in the playoffs and 4-1 at home.

During the week, Kansas City Chiefs Coach Andy Reid has been complimentary of Pederson’s work in what’s been an unbelievable season for Jacksonville. 

Pederson got to know Reid as a backup quarterback in Green Bay and as a starter in Philadelphia, before coaching under him build the Chiefs into the juggernaut they are today.

Pederson has said that 30 years of his professional life that he’s been influenced by them.

But the stage is set, the Jaguars have a chance to avenge a 27-17 loss to the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

Saturday’s match-up has the Jaguars as 8.5 underdogs but in the grand scheme of things, the Chiefs enter the contest 14-3 and have won five straight.

After the Dallas Game, when I asked Pederson a question that the late Yogi Berra said, ‘it’s not over until it’s over,’ he smiled and said, “My players are a resilient group and they play hard for 60 minutes. I don’t need to give halftime motivational speeches.”

To defeat the Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville will have to play a turnover free football game.

The Jaguars are matched up against Patrick Mahomes, who was born in 1995, the same year Jacksonville entered the league. 

Mahomes has eight playoff wins while the Jaguars have eight in franchise history. 

The last time Kansas City was in the AFC Conference Championship was on 1-30-2022. Jacksonville appeared on 1-21-2018. Mahomes has won one Super Bowl, while Jacksonville hasn’t made a Super Bowl Appearance.

Time will tell how this ends for Jacksonville, but what looked like an impossibility worked out quite well as we were able to be around for the “Jaguars Home Hat Trick” and all three contests were won in dramatic fashion!

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmnail.com. You can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

Also, there is no cost to Subscribe to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel where you’re going to find all of his shows and then some. 


Thursday, January 5, 2023

Jaguars Quick Turnaround

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

What a difference a year makes!

On January 9, 2021, the Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the Indianapolis Colts 26-11 at TIAA Bank Field and knocked their division rivals out of the playoff picture, which also signaled the end of their signal caller Carson Wentz.

The Jaguars finished last in the AFC South with a 3-14 record, but still managed the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft as the Detroit Lions defeated the Green Bay Packers to finish 3-13-1.

Jacksonville proceeded to take Georgia’s Travon Walker.

But the biggest off-season pickup for Jacksonville was the hiring of Head Coach Doug Pederson!

During the hiring process, the Jags interviewed former QB Byron Leftwich but this never came to fruition because the former signal caller didn’t want to work with GM Trent Baalke.

If you want to talk about a situation that was a blessing in disguise, this was it!

All Pederson did was hire a strong coaching staff and told franchise QB Trevor Lawrence to forget the disastrous season he endured under former Coach Urban Meyer. It was time to start all over and learn a new playbook and start from scratch.

Pederson has won two Super Bowls, one as a player for the Green Bay Packers and another as a head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles.

More franchise QB’s are ruined due to instability with the head coach and offensive coordinator.

During many of my shows throughout the 2022 Season, I’ve been consistent hammering Leftwich for not taking this job and said there is a stature to be built for Pederson if he has sustained success especially if the team reaches the Super Bowl, let a lone wins a championship. 

I still stand by that statement!

The Jaguars are one of four teams that haven’t reached the big game. 

The Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns and the Houston Texans are the others.

Things didn’t start out well for the Jaguars as they started the season 3-7.

But in Week 11, the team had a bye week.

On Sunday, November 27, Jacksonville defeated the Baltimore Ravens at TIAA Bank Field 28-27.

Jacksonville didn’t fare well on December 4, 2022 as it traveled to Detroit and the Lions devoured them 40-14 and the team dropped to 4-8.

This would be the last time the Jaguars would lose a game in 2022 as the Cats proceeded to win four-straight games. 

They stunned the Tennessee Titans in Nashville on December 11, 2022, 36-22 to improve to 5-8.

On December 18, 2022, I took the five hour trek up to Jacksonville and watched the Jaguars defeat the Dallas Cowboys 40-34 in overtime. 

During this game, the Jaguars attendance was 69,050 and the stadium was electric. The Dallas Cowboys traveled well and I almost felt like I was in Texas. 

Finding a hotel was a huge challenge and those that were available were quite costly. We stayed in nearby St.Augustine.

They Cowboys fans were loud as Dallas jumped out to a 27-10 lead and as I went downstairs for lunch, I heard FOX’s Michael Strahan comment that the Jaguars would have to find a way to get back into this game. 

What he would see later was these Jaguars don’t quit!

Jacksonville went on to score 21 consecutive points to take a 31-27 lead in the fourth quarter.

But Cowboys QB Dak Prescott and the Cowboys countered with a 13-play drive that included three third point conversions. Running back Ezekiel Elliott ran for 58 yards and a score for Dallas, joining Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith as the only backs in franchise history with rushing touchdowns in seven straight games.

This game would end with a Rayshawn Jenkins interception of Prescott’s bobbled pass and he returned it 52-yards for the game winning touchdown that gave the Jaguars an improbable 40-34 OT win. 

The Cowboys five-game winning streak was snapped and Dallas has never won a game at TIAA Bank Field dropping to 0-2. 

This is the only NFL venue the Cowboys have never won in.

Leading the way for Jacksonville, Lawrence was 27-42 for 318 yards and four touchdowns.

Running back Travis Etienne had 19 carries for 103 yards.

Zay Jones led the Jaguars in receiving with six receptions for 109 yards and three touchdowns.

Offensively, Jacksonville out gained Dallas in total yards, 503-397 despite the Cowboys leading time of possession 35:26-27:41. 

Prescott threw two interceptions and was sacked three times.

The Jaguars played the contest without Travon Walker. 

I asked Lawrence about him being inactive mentioning the team being behind by double digits that is the team used to overcoming adversity?

“Yeah, today is his birthday, actually. I don’t know if you guys knew that. So I saw him in the training room and he’s been trying to go all week. Just doing everything he can to play because he wants to be out there, and (I) saw him there not suiting up so I knew he wasn’t going to play. 

“I saw him today. I was like, hey, we got you. We’re going to get this one for you. That was what I told him. Saw him after the game and gave him a hug. I was like, I told you. That’s how this team is. It’s awesome.”

I asked Coach Pederson a pair of questions but the one that stands out was, Do you want to get to a point where the Jacksonville Jaguars are no longer a trap game, that the people are going to start taking your program a lot more seriously?

“Well, I don’t get into a lot of that as much as I want our team to understand that we need to be playing meaningful football games in December and January, and we’ve put ourselves in that position. So I’m proud of the guys for doing that.

“Our season could have gone sideways three, four weeks ago, and the guys weren’t going to let that happen. I don’t get caught up in all the storylines and all that, the shoulda-coulda-wouldas. It’s a matter of those guys in the dressing room believing in themselves and getting the job done.”

Four days later, the Jaguars would continue to win and defeated the New York Jets 19-3 on a rainy night in the Meadowlands on December 22, 2022. 

This game was billed at the battle of the top two draft choices in the 2021 NFL Draft, Lawrence vs Zach Wilson. 

By the end of the night, Wilson was benched and Jacksonville raised its record to 7-8 and let a Nationally Televised Audience know to take them seriously.

Jacksonville started the New Year the same way it ended the old one, with a win but this time, the Jags barely cracked a sweat by demolishing the Texans in Houston with a 31-3 triumph. 

The team improved to 8-8 and the NFL decided to flex the Week 18 Finale with the Tennessee Titans to 8:15 PM on Saturday Night on ABC.

During the beginning of the week, I emailed David Wolfe and told him that the Dallas Cowboys losing to the Jaguars was one of the best wins I’ve ever seen. 

I told him that I’m ready for Tennessee and he told me that I hope the Titans Game on Saturday is the best game you’re going to see and inserted a smile emoji as his way of saying, come on up, you’re approved.

So the stage is set, the Jaguars now can win the AFC South Division as it hosts the Titans, 7-9, in prime time!

Who would have imagined this a year ago as Owner Shad Khan and Baalke had to deal with a peril but now they have a chance to host a playoff game?

What a difference a culture change will do and Pederson looks like a genius but most of all, unlike a lot of highly drafted QB’s, Lawrence won’t be classified as a bust!

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

Please subscribe to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel to see all of his shows.


July 4th With The Marlins and Red Sox

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH The schedule makers have been great to me the past two years as the Miami Marlins have been home for July 4th. In 2023, ...