Fortunately, Kevin Kolb’s current injury doesn’t involve a concussion. The series of events over the last two months, however, are enough to make the Arizona Cardinals quarterback’s head hurt.
Let’s go back to early September. Kolb lost the starting quarterback job to John Skelton and fans — already upset that the Cardinals lost out on “The Peyton Manning Derby,” as if there was ever a chance he would come here — question Kolb’s toughness.
Oakland Raiders lineman Tommy Kelly called Kolb “scared” and “skittish” after a preseason game, which only added fuel to a feeling many fans had already expressed on talks shows and chat rooms. A little more than a year into his contract, the “bust” label was out.
When John Skelton, the people’s choice, was injured late in the season opener against Seattle — with the Cardinals trailing and the offense struggling — Kolb jogged onto the field to a chorus of boos.
But he rallied the Cardinals to an overtime win, then goes to New England and beats the Patriots. Two home wins and suddenly the Cardinals are 4-0. Kolb wasn’t making anyone forget Kurt Warner, he was getting the job done while taking a serious beating behind a porous offensive line — and putting all of Kelly’s chatter to bed.
Suddenly Kolb wasn’t “scared.” He was fearless. He was also undefeated, and, apparently, misunderstood.
Then Kolb was clobbered in St. Louis before suffering the kind of injury (detached ribs) that causes fans to shudder. With a 4-0 start now a 4-3 deflation, the same fans who cringed at the sight of Kolb now wonder if Arizona’s chances to make the playoffs are lost without him.
One injury is not the only reason the Cardinals have hit the wall. Losing two running backs, a few stalwarts on defense, confidence in your kicker and some overtime luck all contribute. The offensive continues to allow defensive team meetings in the Arizona backfield.
If the Cardinals don’t win the battle of the challenged offenses against San Francisco on Monday night, any chance to make the most of a magical September will have evaporated.
That is, unless you are counting on another 6-2 finish from Skelton, this time against a murderous schedule.
Here Come the Suns
The Suns open the regular season on Halloween Night against Golden State. That’s OK, you’re not the only one who had no idea.
The buzz around the 2012-13 Suns falls short of even the Stephon Marbury/Penny Hardaway era. On the disinterest scale, you might have to go back to the 1996-97 Suns when Phoenix traded Charles Barkley to Houston for ... do you remember?
Chucky Brown, Mark Bryant, Sam Cassell and Mr. Phoenix, Robert Horry. You’ve heard of trades that helped both teams. That was a deal that sent both teams hurtling backward. Barkley was old, slow and done. The Suns’ ad campaign that year was “We’ve added a little Rocket Fuel.” By midseason, it was “Welcome to Our Grease Fire.”
This might be a bad time to point out that two of Phoenix’s top off-season free agent pickups — Goran Dragic and Luis Scola — came from Houston.
(I don’t expect either guy to throw a towel in Alvin Gentry’s face. Or to survive the experience if they do).
The last quarter century of Suns basketball — since Cotton Fitzsimmons stole Kevin Johnson from Cleveland in 1988 — has been often successful, largely entertaining and completely devoid of jewelry.
But there have also been the potholes of interspersed despair. Did you feel the bump?
It was time to rebuild, and since the rest of the league will be watching Los Angeles, Oklahoma City and Miami fight for the next 4-5 championships, this isn’t the worst time play the lottery. There are some who argue that the Suns added too much talent in the off-season and should have gone the way of the Rockets, who got rid of everyone you’ve ever heard of, mostly to Phoenix.
I disagree on three counts: (A) The Suns already have a ton of draft picks, and though none of them likely to bring in the next LeBron or Derrick Rose, mind you, they have them.
(B) Getting a lotto pick in the NBA isn’t like the old days, where a No. 9 slot could net you a Shawn Marion (1999) or an Amare Stoudemire (2002).
(C) The current Suns front office has had two No. 13 picks and come away with Markieff Morris and Kendall Marshall.
Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.