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Need a one-stop shop to catch up on the top sports stories big and small? Time Out For Sports airs Mondays on WFAE's "All Things Considered" and has what you need to know about everything from Charlotte-area high school football highlights to the latest updates on the Carolina Panthers.

Darnold’s gift, time for the old college try for NC’s ACC squads and mullets

Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold plays against the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
Chanelle Smith-Walker/Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold plays against the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

Ok. As the famous/infamous ESPN NFL coverage meme went, "Come on man.”

If Sam Darnold lands the starting gig with the Panthers, becomes the QB2s or gets traded to another NFL roster this year (and judging by the practice snaps Carolina Panthers something like that will happen), he should keep Washington Commanders Antonio Gibson on his thank you list for his next position.

Gibson, who has been the RB1 for the name-swapping Washington franchise, now known as the Commanders, had an inopportune fumble in the team’s preseason loss to the Panthers in the first quarter that led to a Sam Darnold touchdown pass in his only appearance in the game. This is after Gibson led the league in lost fumbles for running backs in the NFL last season with six losing four. He was immediately replaced with third-round pick Brian Robinson from a “little college” from Alabama that is coached by some guy named “Nick Saban.” Oh, and BTW, Gibson is a converted wide receiver/kick returner who spent the week in the doghouse up in D.C.

My point, Gibson’s fumble led to the only “starting QB TD” in the famous/infamous Mayfield-Darnold QB Battle. Just so you can update your scorecard, Mayfield got the start. Here was the stat line comparison:

Mayfield: 4-7 passing for 47 yards and a 76.5 QBR

Darnold: 2-3 passing for 16 yards, 1 TD and a 119.4 QBR

By the way, coach Matt Rhule says he’s in no hurry to name the starting QB.

In other Panther news, their week of joint practices with the New England Patriots have been, let’s say very “spirited.” Two melees, including one in which a female fan was struck when a scrum spilled into the spectator section, nearly put an end to Wednesday's practice session, which took place a day after two fights led to the ejection of five players from the Panthers and Patriots' first joint practice.

The teams meet in a preseason game on Friday night.

Watson reaches suspension deal

Deshaun Watson, the Cleveland Browns quarterback who has been charged with sexual assault and misconduct of a number of women, will miss 11 regular-season games, the NFL confirmed on Thursday.

Initially, a six-week punishment had been imposed following a protracted arbitration procedure between the NFL and its players' union. However, after receiving a barrage of complaints that the penalty was too small, the NFL appealed the ruling in an effort to obtain a harsher suspension.

Watson must also complete a behavioral treatment program and pay a $5 million fine, which will be used to create a fund to benefit non-profit groups working to prevent sexual assault and assist survivors across the United States.

The NFL and the Cleveland Browns will each donate $1 million to the foundation.

Watson has been charged with sexual misconduct by dozens of women while receiving massage therapy. He was involved in 24 lawsuits in total, and all but one of them have now been resolved.

A new HQ for Charlotte FC

The expansion Major League Soccer franchise Charlotte FC announced on Wednesday that Charlotte, North Carolina, will serve as the club's permanent training location and administrative hub.

The location, located at 8600 McAlpine Park Drive, where the team has trained this season, will be refurbished to feature a privately funded 52,000+ square foot facility with four fields — three made of natural grass and one made of artificial turf. Charlotte FC as well as its MLS NEXT Pro and Academy teams will call it home. The location currently has two fields.

Hornets announce 2022-23 regular-season schedule

The Charlotte Hornets will play their first home game against the New Orleans Pelicans at 7 p.m. on Oct. 21 at Spectrum Center after beginning the 2022–23 regular season with a trip to San Antonio to play the Spurs.

Highlights of the Hornets' home schedule include an early matchup with Stephen Curry and the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors on Oct. 29, a visit from LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 2 and a contest against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 3. The defending Eastern Conference Champion Boston Celtics will visit Charlotte for consecutive games on Jan. 14, and Jan. 16, with the latter being a 1 p.m. tipoff on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

North Carolina schools gear up for ACC play

Associated Press beat writer Aaron Beard made the rounds along Tobacco Road this week as he profiled the upcoming football campaigns of Duke, Wake Forest, North Carolina and NC State. Each program has some interesting challenges ahead of them.

The absurdity of sports: business in the front — party in the back

OK. Growing your hair really isn’t a sport, but as I reported last week, neither is an Excel spreadsheet competition (and that was televised on ESPN2). So, as we watch HBO Max and Netflix kill all of their content, I ask you, why am I not seeing stuff like this on TV?

Online voting for the Kids' Division of USA Mullet Championship is now taking place, and two contenders are from North Carolina.

Emmett, from Carthage, N.C., made it into the finals of the kids' division sporting this blunt, baby-fringe haircut.
Emmett, from Carthage, N.C., made it into the finals of the kids' division sporting this blunt, baby-fringe haircut.

The kids and teens category finalists were chosen earlier this week, and before voting ends on Friday, internet voters will decide who receives the dubious distinction of champion mullet-head. The tournament reportedly expanded from a regional event in Michigan in 2020 to a national extravaganza of showy and dubious taste. Participants this year are embracing the entire gamut of the infamous haircut, from patriotic emotions with an American flag shorn into the more elegant Mozart-esque flowing curly locks style.

Ethan from Penrose, N.C. is a finalist in the kids' division.
Ethan from Penrose, N.C. is a finalist in the kids' division.

According to CBS, "all of the donations are going to the Michigan Wig Foundation for kids," which contestants pay $10 to enter. Each winner of the first-place prize receives a massive $2,500 award.

Voting closes on Friday.

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Robb Crocker is a digital editor with WFAE. Originally from New Jersey, Robb grew up in the Washington, D.C. area. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, where majored in print and broadcast journalism and also studied English and creative writing. He earned a Master's degree in Communication from Rutgers University and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at VCU's Media, Art & Text program. He is a veteran news/sports reporter and digital editor with stints at the Washington Post, Hanley Wood magazines, Richmond.com, WTVR CBS 6 and WRIC ABC 8. He has also produced the Writing Our Way Out podcast.