— Matt McKenzie (@Matt_McKenzie1) May 18, 2014
Jake Delhomme – what a fantastic idea. The former Panthers’ quarterback has long loved horse racing, perhaps even more than football.
The Delhomme family owns Set-Hut stables in south Louisiana, where they currently have eight horses in training. Jake is also the President of the Board of Directors for the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association. “I feel like I’m a whole lot busier now than when I played,” he told us.
Jake joined me and former Steelers kicker Jeff Reed to not only talk nasal strips on horses, but we also asked him for his first public thoughts since this wild Panthers’ offseason began.
You can hear the entire segment at this link, and below, we’ve transcribed some of the interview’s highlights.
On Steve Smith’s release:
“It’s a changing of the guard. That’s what happens in the NFL sometimes. This is now Luke Kuechly’s team and Cam Newton’s team … Is it time for a new regime to take over? Is that the direction they’re going? It seems that way. That’s why you have general managers to make tough calls. Emotions, you have to take out of it, which is very hard to do sometimes. But that’s the decision that they feel going forward. Only time will tell.”
On the retirement of Jordan Gross:
“I don’t think there’s any doubt there was some more tread left on his tires. He could still play. That’s going to be a big loss for that team. I think you’ll truly understand how good Jordan was on and off the field this year, and for years to come. He was much more than just a left tackle.”
More on the offseason changes:
“Certainly last year was a great year. Can they repeat that this year? I think it’ll be difficult. I’ll be pulling like crazy for them, but I think it’ll be a little bit difficult losing the likes of Steve and Jordan. Those are two key, key cogs of that offense that you just can’t plug in anybody else.”
On Cam Newton’s evolution:
“Last year it seemed like he was having a little more fun, real at ease. You come in as a rookie and you break all these records, then the second year, there’s a big dose of humble pie that you have to accept. So last year he really came in and did a good job. I understand he had a little cleanup in the offseason with his ankle, so he’ll feel better physically. Talking to certain guys there, there’s never been an issue with his preparation, his practice and his toughness. So if he keeps doing those things, it’ll become more and more his team.”
On the Greg Hardy situation:
“I don’t think that will affect the locker room one bit. And that’s where it comes down to leadership. Do the leaders on this team have the clout to say, ‘Hey we’re not worrying about this, we’re going forward.”
On if he would have loved to have had a 6-5 receiver like Kelvin Benjamin:
“We tried that with certain guys. We brought in the big guys. The Keyshawn Johnson experiment, that certainly didn’t even come remotely close to working. It would have been nice to have another big target like that. Steve may have been 5-9, but he played 6-5, no doubt.”
On California Chrome being cleared to wear a nasal strip in the Belmont Stakes:
“I don’t think it has anything to do with a horse’s ability to run. I’m glad it’s done today and it’s not done the week of the Belmont to take away from what we need to be hopefully enjoying, and that’s a horse that possibly could be a Triple Crown winner.”
On California Chrome’s made-for-movie story:
“It gives everybody hope. People think of horse racing as ‘The Sport of Kings,’ This horse, anybody could have owned. Anybody could have bred. Anybody could have raised. Certainly there’s no blue-blooded pedigree whatsoever.”
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