Category Archives: NFL

He Came to Play School

“The NFL, after three [college] games, was really out of the question for me.”
–Cardale Jones at his press conference earlier today

Or was it? At first or even second glance, a quarterback declaring for the NFL draft after just three starts seems absurd. And for someone with two years of college eligibility remaining, as Jones has, it would be unprecedented. But quarterbacks with little playing time have been drafted and succeeded at the next level.

Matt Cassel had no choice but to leave USC in 2004; he had exhausted his four years of eligibility. Even though he’d spent his college career as a back-up, the Patriots drafted him in the seventh round. For all they knew at the time, Cassel could have been among the top quarterbacks in the country — after all, he backed up Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. A strong pre-draft showing was enough for New England to take a chance on a player who hadn’t started a game since high school. While far from a star, Cassel has proved to be a solid NFL quarterback.

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Why Did ESPN Suspend Bill Simmons?

Remember Playmakers? It was the name of the first original drama series on ESPN. Eleven episodes aired in the fall of 2003, and even though the show was a ratings success, ESPN cancelled the series under pressure from the NFL. The league didn’t like how it was being portrayed, and ESPN didn’t want to further anger a television partner. This probably wasn’t the reason ESPN suspended writer Bill Simmons for his anti-Roger Goodell comments, but it’s hard to shake the possibility.

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Super Bowl Blowouts, Dynasties

Thank God for box pools. Sunday’s Super Bowl was an all-time snooze fest, as Seattle steamrolled Denver 43-8. In the aftermath, I heard two statements thrown around often. The first was that the wide margin was highly unusual and the second was that Seattle looks primed to start a dynasty. Are either true?

Starting with Super Bowl XXX in 1996, 13 of the 18 games have been exciting.* And by that I mean they were within one score at some point in the fourth quarter. Common sense tells us that the championship game in any sport should be a competitive game and the numbers back that up: for every Seahawks-Broncos or Bucs-Raiders we get five Giants-Patriots or at least Saints-Colts. That’s a good deal for us fans and it was fair to criticize Sunday’s game for not living up to the hype.

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New Orleans Loves the Saints

Would you like to be dealt a blackjack hand by Drew Brees? Watch Reggie Bush spin the roulette wheel or have Jimmy Graham pass you the craps dice? Just visit the New Orleans Harrah’s on a Sunday during football season; casino employees are allowed to wear NFL jerseys, a policy 95 percent take advantage of. Starting on Saturday night and going through Sunday, the casino floor turns into the stands at the Superdome. All but one of the participating employees I saw last weekend chose a Saints jersey — there was a 3-Card Poker dealer wearing a Mike Wallace (Steelers) jersey. Most of them chose some variation of a Brees jersey — home, away, Pro Bowl, pink, Super Bowl patch, “Cool Brees.” The best I saw was a senior woman dealing blackjack with an Archie Manning jersey.
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Refs Return, Jets Struggle, and Legatron

The regular NFL referees were welcomed back this past weekend. “Just found out Ed Hochuli an the boys are back! Glad u all reached a deal,” tweeted San Francisco wide receiver Randy Moss, whose excitement—or, better yet, relief—was shared by NFL players and fans alike. But let’s not act like these guys are national heroes. We could have done without the chest-bumping or the Monday Night Football-style introductions. Soak it up, boys, because we will turn on you.

Year of the Bird

For the first time all season, the Falcons trailed on Sunday before pulling out a miraculous victory to stay undefeated. The Cardinals hadn’t lost until last night and are in first place in the NFC West. The Eagles and Ravens are both 3-1 and atop their respective divisions. Yes, 2012 is shaping up to be the Year of the Bird. It looks like my All-Avian preseason Super Bowl prediction is looking pretty good right now.
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NFL Week 4: The Inaccurate Reception

Green Bay Packers fans won’t see it this way, but we can look back at The Inaccurate Reception as the play that forced Roger Goodell and the NFL to come to an agreement with the locked-out referees, who will return to the field tonight. There are three photos that sum up the madness that was the final play of the Packers-Seahawks game in Seattle.

The first shows Tate with, at best, one hand on the football (that white thing next to Wilson’s stats is my attempt at an asterisk):

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NFL Week 3 Preview

Last week I didn’t mention the passing of an NFL icon—Art Modell—because when I reached out to people to get their thoughts, the replies were mostly negative. Not unprintable, per se, but in poor taste considering the man was dead. The reactions to Steve Sabol’s death were the opposite: the NFL Films president was beloved.

Sabol and his father, the founder of NFL Films, are largely responsible for so many football-viewing aspects we take for granted today: slow-motion and reverse angle replays, setting highlights to music, microphones on the field, blooper reels, and more. You didn’t need to see the television to know it was an NFL Films production. The music was powerful and recognizable enough. Sabol won 35 Emmys and is regarded as the greatest storyteller in NFL history. He died on Tuesday after an 18-month battle with brain cancer. He was 69.
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