FRANK FRANGIE: Gardner Minshew the talk of Jacksonville and beyond

FRANK FRANGIE: Gardner Minshew the talk of Jacksonville and beyond

By: Frank Frangie

So we all saw the passing drills video of Gardner Minshew. It was the talk of, well, pretty much everyone around here.

Part of it is there are no real sports to talk about yet. Part of it is after a difficult Jags season, we’re all looking for something to be excited about. Part of it is anything to do with the Mania has Jacksonville folks all abuzz.

But beyond all of that, I liked what I saw. I know, I know, it was just a guy throwing against air in some passing and footwork drills. But he looked bigger, thicker. He looked super fit. He looked authoritative, if you can look authoritative in drills against air. Point is, if that is the guy around whom all of this is being built, he certainly is starting to look the part.

In fact, the dude is developing the look of a rock star, with the long hair, the guns, the swagger, one whose appeal one day could stretch beyond the First Coast. Last year, with the jorts and the Aviators, the Napoleon Dynamite stuff and the back story, the feisty personality and swashbuckling playing style – and of course the mustache – he became a cult figure here in town in just his first season. In Jacksonville, the Mania was overwhelming.

Nationally, he was a fun curiosity, and a damn good rookie quarterback, and early on, there was some buzz around the league. But people weren’t really sure what the Jags had in him. Even after winning all those rookie of the week votes early on, when the Jags season hit a bad stretch and he and Foles alternated as the team’s starter, Minshew Mania eventually gave way to the bigger names. There were fewer fake mustaches as the season wore on.

Remember, this is a league that still has first ballot Hall-of-Famers Brady, Brees and Rodgers playing at an elite level. A league which has Mahomes and Russ and Lamar and Deshaun ready to assume the torch – if they haven’t already. It’s a league with veterans like Rivers and Roethlisberger and Stafford and Ryan not yet ready to throw in the towel. And plenty more, young and old alike.

You have to earn your way in the Not For Long league. Plenty have tried and been vanquished pretty quickly.

But imagine, just for a moment, that Minshew is as good as we all think he may be. That he adds a sterling sophomore season to the eye-catching rookie one. That a 21-6 touchdown pass-to-interception ratio becomes 32-8. That the Jags win way more than that 4.5 over/under we keep seeing.

America loves stars. It loves stars who look the part, REALLY loves underdogs who become stars. It loves brash but humble all at once. And it loves a nice smile, a good flow and bulging biceps. A good player, who clearly is a good dude, who looks the part is the trifecta.

Being really good is first. Without that, the rest doesn’t matter. But if he is — and I have a hunch he just might be — the Mania will no longer be confined to just our little area of the world. This could be a national rock star in the making. Stay tuned. …

College football players are now cleared to return to campus. The SEC can bring them back June 8, others before. In the coming days and weeks, we will learn far more about testing protocols, contact tracing and quasi-quarantines on college campuses. But for now, one thing seems apparent: College football plans to start on time. Maybe without fans, or without as many as before. Nobody knows for sure, but I’d now be shocked if we don’t have college football Labor Day weekend. …

It looks like the NHL is close to announcing a return as the league and its players seem to be on the same page. The NBA and its players are joint negotiating a deal with Disney to restart league play and have it all in Orlando. Both of those leagues, much like the NFL, have the league and the players working in concert to get back to action because they understand the absolute urgency, both from an economical and psychological standpoint, to get back to playing.

And then, of course, there is baseball. I could write about it forever, I do every week. But I won’t. I’ll just say … and then there is baseball. …

Who you got today? Tiger-Peyton or Phil-Tom? I know, you all have Tiger-Peyton. Of course you do. I’ll take Phil-Tom. Just because. Not sure why, just because.

By the way, the back nine will be by far the most entertaining. The front nine is best ball, meaning it’s Tiger vs. Phil for the most part, with the quarterbacks chipping in only if the golfer makes a rare mistake. But on the back, it’s alternate shot, meaning the QBs shots REALLY matter. I can’t wait for that part. …

Hung out in the pool yesterday drinking beer and eating Doritos. I forgot how good Doritos are. Doritos rock. …

Watched “Rocky” last night. Man, I forget how much Carl Weathers, as Apollo Creed, really looked like a boxer. Played the Ali-like character perfectly. Best actor trying to look like the real athlete ever. …

I love that youth leagues can resume now in the state. Our young people need to play. There has been enough abnormality in their lives. I get it, the precautions were necessary. And it’s incumbent upon the adults to make sure we get back to play safely. But I can’t wait to see a little guy, or girl, hit a line drive in the gap. Been too long. …

“The Last Waltz,” airing on AXS-TV, is one of the best old concerts they’ve ever shown. It was in 1976, the last concert ever for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member The Band. Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm and company were joined on stage for various songs by Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Neil Diamond, Ringo Starr, The Staples Singers, Dr. John, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters and Van Morrison.

The live performance was so good it was recorded by and made into a movie by a young, nervous, aspiring then 35-year-old film maker named Martin Scorsese. The movie was released in 1978 and in 2016, Rolling Stone called it “The Greatest Concert Movie of All Time.” You gotta check it out. …

By the way, yes, I know AXS should hire me as their PR guy because I really love the channel. But starting today at 10 a.m. they have a concerts on TV marathon. The shows: Van Morrison, Rascal Flatts, Tom Petty, The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac. You’re welcome. …

I’m not a NASCAR guy, but I watched a good bit of the race from Darlington Wednesday night. I didn’t think the lack of fans was a distraction at all. It was last Sunday, because in the daylight you could notice the empty stands. But Wednesday, at least to me, felt like a normal night race. …

The wife is growing tomatoes, lettuce, kale, broccoli and jalapeños in her hydroponic garden which is now out by our pool. We live in a country club. Can they evict you when you own your home? Doesn’t matter. We are so evicted. …

Cheers.