Rabalais: On Jimmy Graham, golf and one-hitters

New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) against the Seattle Seahawks during an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game in Seattle, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014.  (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) against the Seattle Seahawks during an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game in Seattle, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Notes on a scorecard from Pinehurst No. 2, but they keep rolling off the edges (if you watched the U.S. Open, you get what I’m talking about) …

-- An NFL arbitrator Tuesday will begin the process of asking if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck whether it’s really a wide receiver.

Jimmy Graham was drafted, sent to the Pro Bowl and has even listed himself on his Twitter page as a tight end. But he wants to be paid like a receiver.

Fair enough. But Graham shouldn’t expect to be regarded as anything but a tight end.

Yes, the Saints often split him out wide in their offense. Yes, he led the Saints in receiving and the NFL in receiving touchdowns last year. But rushing for 1,000 yards wouldn’t make Cam Newton a running back.

No fault in Graham trying to angle for every dollar he can. Pro football is the most brutal business, and careers are incredibly finite. And no faulting the Saints for wanting to pay him commensurate with being one of the top if not the top tight end in the NFL.

Here’s what will likely happen: Graham will be ruled to be a tight end, and the Saints will end up paying him something in the neighborhood of $10 million, making him the NFL’s highest-paid tight end.

Neither side will be completely happy or feel completely wronged by the deal.

It’s business. And business will get done, allowing the Saints and Graham to go about the business of pursuing another trip to the Super Bowl.

-- Once again watching the U.S Open, I was dismayed at the continued softening of the heart of stone that used to reside within the USGA’s Golf House.

No rough, just native areas (OK, weeds) off the fairways? Not one but two drivable par-4s set up for Sunday’s final round?

But I have to admit, in the end, the USGA pretty much got it right.

Take away Martin Kaymer’s remarkable runaway performance (he shot 9-under-par and won by eight strokes) and only Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton also broke par. That’s a total of just four players in red figures in the three U.S. Opens at Pinehurst combined.

Kaymer was the only one to consistently pick the locks of Pinehurst’s inverted bowl-like greens, shaggy native areas and tough bunkers time after time. His win established the 29-year-old German as the best under-30 player in the world.

-- Former University High golfer Patrick Reed had a steady if unspectacular U.S. Open debut. He tied for 35th at 8 over, never breaking par but never shooting over 73, either.

It’s something of a momentum changer after a spring in which he missed four of six cuts since his last win in March and failed to tie for better than 48th in any start.

Reed sits in ninth place in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings, the last automatic spot on the 12-man American team for the September matches at Gleneagles, Scotland.

Considering the U.S. Open was just his second major start and he hasn’t played much good golf since March, it’s probably key that Reed stay in the top nine to make the team.

Much could change, but it’s hard at this point seeing Tom Watson using one of his three captain’s picks on the still inexperienced Reed.

-- LSU may not be in the College World Series, but the Tigers by proxy are still at least part of the news in Omaha.

Virginia nipped Ole Miss 2-1 Sunday night in the final game of the opening weekend. The Cavaliers one-hit the Rebels — a stat that has to be a head-scratching result to the Louisiana-Lafayette fans who watched Ole Miss’ relentless offense eliminate the Ragin’ Cajuns in last week’s super regional.

It was the first combined one-hitter in the CWS in 31 years. The last time it happened, LSU pitching coach Alan Dunn and teammate Tim Meacham combined to throw one for Alabama against Arizona State in 1983.

-- There is only one thing people really want to know about famous folks:

Is he a nice guy? Is she a nice person?

By every account I’ve been able to find, Tony Gwynn, who died of cancer Monday at 54, was a good guy.

I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Gwynn by phone a few years ago for a freelance article I was doing on former major leaguers who had become college baseball coaches (Gwynn coached at his alma mater, San Diego State, where he also starred in basketball).

It was only a phone interview, but Gwynn was every bit the cordial and genial man I heard and hoped he would be. I’ll never forget it.

Even sportswriters need someone to look up to. Gwynn will always be that man for me.

Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.