In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would like to give thanks to our readers and those who provide us with joy on the football field. I cannot tell you how much it means to me, how much it means to John, to have such an amazing and loyal base of readers. This website has been everything I hoped it to be and more – a reason to wake up in the morning – something to take pride in and a place for great conversation. First and foremost, I give you my gratitude.
Before I get into football, thanks must go to my family and my country. I am grateful to be in such a caring family unit. My brother is the most loyal man I know. I appreciate him so very much. My parents are always there for me. My grandparents are full of love and are strengthened by a wealth of experiences. To everyone that plays a role in my life, thank you.
I am so thankful to be a member of the United States of America. In many countries I could not express ideas freely on the internet. In many countries I would have no political voice; in this country we have a voting booth. It is quite easy to forget the greatness of America amidst all the problems we share. The United States is home to football, the greatest sport that mankind could ever create. Football is my passion and it is engrained in the culture of these 50 beautiful states.
I am thankful for the Baltimore Ravens. I don’t think many Ravens fans realize how lucky we are. We have not had a losing season in Baltimore since 2007. I have been on the earth for just 24 years, and I have seen my team win two Super Bowls. The Ravens have played a physical brand of football that has become part of my personality. The Ravens are not just a football team but a way of life.
I want to give thanks to the game of football itself. From being a player in high school, to a fan to a blogger, I have loved the game every step of the way. For hours of entertainment, for goal line stands, great blocks and bone-crushing tackles, I need it all. From the passion of college and the power of the NFL, the euphoria of victory cannot be beat. Football, you have my thanks.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. Thanks for everything you do. You’re the reason I write!
After securing a heavily priced partnership with the NFL Network, CBS may be worried about their product. Thursday Night Football has lacked the drama and competition that make the NFL so compelling. In the first 4 TNF games the victors outscored the losers 163-50 (This includes the opener televised on NBC). Thursday has always provided a sloppier and less pleasing version of NFL football. The young 2014 season has provided some pretty unwatchable football on Thursday’s and the games have reached an all time low. This week the Green Bay Packers dominated the Vikings 42-10. It was just another example of TNF’s poor watchability.
2013 saw 7 of 15 TNF games decided by a touchdown or less. This season there are 17 TNF games (Including the kick off game). Almost every game is between division rivals. In theory this makes for easier travel, more familiar opponents and closer games. The goal of the scheduling was clearly to reduce the disadvantage for the road team, on a short week. The problem is of the 5 games played on a Thursday Night the home teams are 4-1. Even more problematic road teams are averaging only 16.2 points while home teams average 33.4 points. The outlier is the Giants winning in Washington 45-14.
There are two problems with Thursday Night Football. The first problem is that it puts both teams (but especially) the road team in an unfair short week. The NFL work week is very structured and organized. A game on Thursday Night throws everything out of sync. The teams have less time to game plan and practice. Maybe more importantly the teams have less time to recover from the previous Sunday. There is so much work that goes into a football game and cutting the week three days shorter is unfair.
The second problem is that there are too many TNF games. This thins out the Thursday schedule. When every team gets to play on TNF you’re gonna get some clunkers. The problem is that we have seen nothing but unpleasing blowouts (The Ravens 26-6 beating of the Steelers was pleasing). Thursday night football should be a reward for excellence. There should be fewer games and only premier battles.
Here is the thing that makes TNF work: people watch. We are so in love with the NFL we turn it on every week. The NFL should probably cut back on TNF. This would make sense but they will probably expand it. They love money and thats all that matters to them.
Roger Goodell, the robotic commissioner of the NFL, has found himself in quite a jam. The man who fought so hard to be the judge, jury and executioner when it came to disciplining players is under scrutiny for his performance in all three roles. Many people believe his handling of the Ray Rice issue should cost him his job. Though these people may have a very logical point of view they are forgetting something rather important. In short, my message is to be careful what you wish for.
Roger Goodell is in power for a reason. He works for the owners and the owners love him. We love to build Goodell up as a strong dictator while he is just the owners whipping boy. His actions are always to protect the owner’s best interests. Sure he punishes the owners who step out if line (a la Dan Snyder) but he does it only because the other owners are okay with it. The NFL is a business and the brand has never been so strong.
Roger Goodell naturally became the owners dirty deeds doer. Its simply a matter of self preservation. This is most clear when examining the NFL lockout. This was the league’s power play against the Players Association. All of the drama, all of the kicking and screaming and all the fear the lockout generated boiled down to one thing, the owners’ bottom line.
The reason the lockout of 2011 raged for so long is that Goodell placed the owners against their product. There was no desire for a middle ground there was only a desire to get more than the other side. The commissioner could have been the mediator, instead he was the owners’ lead attorney. There would have been no need for outside mediation if Goodell would have done it himself. Roger Goodell risked the 2011 season so he could make sure the players got less than the owners. The players make the NFL what it is. Nobody pays to see Robert Kraft in his game day suit and tie. To Goodell the owners are what the league is about; because the employ him. The owners won their battle giving the players just enough to sign the CBA.
The owners are not going to do away with such a valued pawn. Roger Goodell will continue to rake in the millions. The league will regain its sponsorships and advertising. The country loves football and nobody hates Roger Goodell enough to change that. Let’s just walk down the hypothetical-bricked road and say the owners fire the commissioner. Nothing would change. The league would have a different leader but the job would remain the same. You would have another highly paid worker bee to be the league’s frontman. If you want to really make a difference go after the 32 NFL club owners. Good luck.
In a world where the media never stops and its in everyone’s pocket, the National Football League has fallen behind in the court of public opinion. The Ray Rice debacle created a furious uproar. Adrian Peterson added fuel to the fire, being charged with child abuse. The Keith Olberman’s of the world want to depict the NFL’s shield as the tool thats defending and covering up social injustices. Many are left questioning whether the NFL is an enabling business with a weak moral compass or if its simply run by fools. Many believe the National Football League has become a force for bad.
Caught on video, Ray Rice has become an obsession of the nation. A story that began on the front of the sports page has found its way on the front page. Headline after headline have made Ray Rice the face of domestic violence. Rice though is just one perpetrator in the horror that is domestic violence. He is not the only NFL player with domestic violence crimes on their resume. He is the only one caught on tape and therefore the only one we obsess over.
Much like Rice is not really the face of domestic violence, Adrian Peterson is not really the face of child abuse. What Peterson did is mind numbing and conscience chillingly sad. What makes this even worse is it seems clear that he has made this a pattern of behavior. Any man who has a whooping room has his priorities screwed up to the highest degree. Its awful but its just one case of child abuse, one of many. Peterson belongs in jail like anybody who would scar a child physically and subsequently emotionally forever. Both situations with Peterson and Rice point to a larger problem. I don’t want to obsess over either situation but admit thinking about Peterson’s abusing of a 4 year old makes me horribly ill.
Its easy to slip into the angry notion that the NFL is full of carelessly lawbreaking young adults with too much money. I get it, this is a dark news cycle but here are the numbers that the NFL ignores. There are 53 men on every roster (not counting practice squad players). This equals 1,696 players employed by the NFL. A study done in 2012 shows that about 35 players get in trouble yearly (Stephen Bronars http://sbronars.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/does-the-nfl-have-a-crime-problem/). This number means that on an average year 98% of players do not get arrested.
The media tries to sensationalize these stories as if they were not horrifying enough. The Peterson thing gets under my skin to a point where Im out for blood a bit too. It is so easy to do. My message is that the actions of 2% of players, no matter the magnitude of their star power, should not reflect on the other 98% of players. The coaches, executives and other employees should not be judged on the actions of the wrongdoers. Boycotting the NFL is over reactionary and would punish the whole rather than the offending minority. Thats just bad math.
The NFL brings joy to millions. It sets the standards for the football world. It handled these issues horribly. But its heads up football program (which teaches youth football coaches and players safe playing techniques) is a great thing. The league gives a lot to charity. The games support local businesses on game day. Maybe most importantly it gives us a weekly escape from the monotony and frustrations of our lives. It gives me happiness. The NFL is not perfect, but it is not a force for bad. It does a lot more good than bad, if you ask me.
You hear it all the time. Its the mantra of non sports fans. Even some people who love the games will make this complaint. “Players make too much money” and “It is ridiculous that players make millions, teachers and policemen should make that kind of dough.” Here is the problem with this sentiment. Football players have a rare set of skills. A set of skills that NFL franchises are willing to pay dearly for because so few people can do what they do. Complaining about somebody making their market value is unfair.
I truly do understand this somewhat bitter thought process. The critics of an athlete’s salary have some logic on their side. From a societal standpoint teachers are very valuable. Our children are required to get an education for a reason. Teachers help students become the best they possibly can be.
The catch is however, people are only willing to pay teachers so much. From an economic position you are worth what someone will pay you for your services. From this economic rule football players are worth more than teachers; right and wrong simply does not apply.
However what is wrong with their high salaries in professional sports? I am no economist, but I do understand that professional sports, being so engrained in our society are unbelievably important to our economy.
The NFL is a multi-billion generating business. The demand for quality football is high. Every Sunday NFL football games help support a wide array of local business. Football creates countless jobs. These jobs range from the concession workers in and outside of the stadium to the advertisers charged with the task of winning football fans’ hearts. The stadiums bring in a great deal of revenue for the state. It all revolves around the players; should they really get a smaller piece of the pie?
Football is a huge part of our culture in the United States. A culture that embraces so many different traditions and ethnicities is brought together on a football Saturday or Sunday. This is such a beautiful concept. In a way football is priceless. It is entertainment and to some so much more. Football is an amazing craft, a beautiful art and what they do is truly remarkable.
Football players are not undeserving of the pay that the NFL ball clubs willingly give them. Football is not an unimportant game and the revenue that is generated by the states goes to good use. They have a truly rare level of ability. Whether you like it or not is irrelevant. They are worth what someone will pay them.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a good time but when you’re an NFL star it is a slippery slope. To be in the National Football League players must be three years away from high school, meaning all professional football players are adults. The same rules and laws apply to NFL stars as anyone else. The difference is the spotlight. If I really screw up it affects my friends and family. If an NFL player makes a mistake it becomes a buzz worthy headline. That is a huge difference. Players who were once beloved, can tarnish their reputations in a split moment. A football player may not be a role model but he is certainly a public figure. There is nothing wrong with partying but there is something wrong in being irresponsible.
I defended Johnny Manziel when the media acted like going to Vegas was an intolerable action. You would have thought the rookie quarterback murdered someone after watching ESPN’s analysts with their judgmental head shaking. Manziel spent a harmless weekend in Vegas, he found no trouble, it should not be a heavily discussed story. How would you feel if your vacation plans were subject to this level of scrutiny? I defended Johnny Manziel because the media scrutiny was ludicrous, however I don’t feel sorry for him. This is a man who steals the show everywhere he goes, “Johnny Football” is a national obsession. Manziel knew the reaction he would garner from his actions.
Josh Gordon, Manziel’s teammate, is a whole different story. Gordon was originally suspended for two games due to violating the substance abuse policy. He continued to smoke marijuana, he failed another drug test and was given the standard punishment of a season long suspension. Gordon appealed and fans went crazy defending the superstar receiver. Their point is marijuana is largely being decriminalized in the United States. They use the pot-head mantra “It’s not a big deal, bro.” There may be nothing wrong with marijuana, in fact many would say there is everything right with the drug. Breaking the rules that you agreed to by signing a contract however almost always ends in your employer disciplining you. Josh Gordon is a special athlete, but nobody is immune to rules and laws. This is especially true of behaviors which are monitored closely your employer. If you still feel the urge to support Gordon’s appeal, what do you say about his DWI arrest?
Johnny Manziel is immature, but he does not get into trouble. Josh Gordon is immature and keeps finding trouble. Johnny Manziel takes over SportsCenter. Its annoying. However we cannot clump Manziel in with fellow Brown, Josh Gordon. Gordon has an utter disrespect for the rules and continuously brings trouble upon himself. While Manziel invites his critics to sound off with his antics; what did he do wrong?
In the NFL there is no getting around the importance of good quarterback play. In the year 2000 a Trent Dilfer quarterbacked team won a Super Bowl behind an all time great defense. Tampa Bay won two years later with Brad Johnson under center and an all time great defense. Since then the league has changed drastically. The rules have continued to grow in the favor of offense. Ever since the Ravens and Bucs won with journeymen quarterbacks the Super Bowl winners have had 1 thing in common: a franchise QB.
The closest a team has come to the Ravens/Bucs model is the reigning champion Seattle Seahawks. Russell Wilson is a good young quarterback, but is far from what makes that team click. Without Russell Wilson however the Seahawks would struggle to remain a relevant power. The only reason they edged out the 49ers in the NFC Championship was that Russell Wilson was better than Colin Kaepernick.
Since 2003 the AFC has only been represented by these quarterbacks: Brady, Roethlisberger, Manning and Flacco. Brady has won 3 out of 5 Super Bowl appearances. Roethlisberger gave Pittsburgh 3 chances winning in two of them. Peyton Manning has won one Super Bowl in three appearances. Joe Flacco had been on the cusp of a Super Bowl for 4 seasons before finally breaking through, lifting Baltimore to glory in 2012. Forget about winning the Super Bowl, you can’t even get through the AFC without a great quarterback.
If you ever wondered how truly important quarterback play is, look no further than the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals went from nobody to a Super Bowl runner up just by obtaining Kurt Warner as their quarterback. Warner hid the fact that the offensive line could not block and the defense was solid but not great. When Kurt Warner left Arizona had to start from scratch.
Football is the ultimate team sport. The QB however is the ultimate separator from good to championship caliber teams. Look at the NFL today. The Houston Texans are probably the most talented team to ever have the league’s worst record. When Matt Schuab announced to the world that he was shot- by throwing pick sixes left and right- Houston was no longer a power in the AFC. The Texans still don’t have what I would call a legitimate quarterback on their roster.
Houston is not the only good team that gets knocked down for their quarterback play. The Saint Louis Rams are a prime example. With maybe best defensive line in football and a solid all around defense they are a tough matchup. With Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey the Rams have explosive playmakers on the offense. The offensive line is good and just got better with the addition of Gregg Robinson. Much like Tampa Bay, they have every hole filled except for the quarterback. Now you can call Sam Bradford a franchise quarterback if you wish but Im still waiting for the production.
Without a franchise quarterback in the NFL you are essentially up a creek without a paddle. Football is a team game but no team is complete without a franchise quarterback. The quarterback position is the great separator in professional football.