I couldn’t be prouder to introduce our newest writer to the Wayniac Nation family. She comes to us from her amazing travel blog The Adventures of Amelia in which, through photos and memoirs, she recollects her amazing journeys around the world. We have wanted to collaborate for some time, so what better time than the World Cup. Amelia has been to more than a dozen of this year’s World Cup qualifiers, so she looks to bring you worldly insights as she delves into the world of futbol and Americana.
Well guys, it’s finally upon us. We’re five days into the greatest sporting event in the world, and just hours away from the highly anticipated debut from the US Mens’ National Team. We’ve made it another four, unbearably long years to hear that sweet sound of vuvuzelas (just kidding, they won’t be there this time), Ian Darke’s dulcet announcing tones, and various rhythmic chants sung in languages we can’t even understand. Despite the 32 nationalities represented, we don’t need to be fluent in multiple languages to comprehend this magnificent event. The sport itself is communication enough. It’s called fútbol and it’s the most International language of them all. For me, it’s also the first romance language. From gruesome, mid-air head collisions, to footwork that would blow even David Copperfield’s mind, this sport is one of the finest worldwide. Brilliantly orchestrated dives from the likes of Balotelli and Dragba make for a spectacular performance for all you drama-types out there, while Cristiano Ronaldo’s perfectly sculpted abs are capable of turning even the girliest of girls into fans of ESPN this summer. And by the way, ladies, have you seen the Spanish team roster this year? Come. ON. And gentlemen, if the intense head-to-head play wasn’t enough for you, perhaps Adriana Lima’s Kia ads will do the trick. What doesn’t this event bring to the table? The 2014 World Cup is here, and it has something for everyone — even Americans. An American, Honduran, English Lady’s view on futbol? Keep reading!!!
It’s that magical time of year. The time of year when the grills are afire and the Coors Light are acoolin’. What better way to celebrate dear old dad than with BBQ, beer, and baseball?
Throughout the course of sports history, there have been quite a few powerful gene pools across the major US sports. Every one knows about Bobby Bonds and Barry Bonds, and if you don’t, you really need to put down the Dungeons and Dragons and come outside for a little while. The Bonds’ father and son duo combined for 1094 drug induced home runs over their notorious careers and stand as one of the most famous combos of all time. The Griffey’s were so nice, they had to name them twice! Ken and Junior not only combined for 782 home runs themselves, they actual hit back-to-back bombs in the same game. When my dad and I bonded, he snuck me to get ice cream when my mom said I couldn’t have any. These two were bashing back to backers. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dad and I love ice cream, but the closest me and my dear old dad came to baseball immortally was when he coached my 3rd grade little league team (which Wayniac Nation’s own Sport Illuminati was a member of 31 years ago!). Keep reading for the newest Father/Son Sports Combos!!!
Well, folks, kickoff for the 2014 World Cup is just hours away. I have always watched the World Cup, but on the grander scale, I am really just learning about soccer. The boys from The Thread and I all picked a Premier League team last season to help delve ourselves into the world’s most popular sport, and I chose the Tottenham HotSpur. While they gave an emotional roller coaster of season firing two coaches along the way, there wasn’t much in the form of excitement from such a low scoring and boring team.
So while I boosted my knowledge of some players and the sport, here’s what I know about this year’s World Cup: it is being played in Rio Di Janeiro, Landon Donovan was left off the US Team, and FIFA hates the Americans and gave us a nearly impossibly draw. That being said, I turned to some reliable sources, my guys Manyool (aka Manny) and the notorious CP that I work with pretty much 50 hours a week. These two guys are stud soccer players and pretty much eat, breath, and sleep futbol. In fact, if futbol was a lady, they would take her out and wine and dine her. When I started putting Tottenham games on the TVs at Verde during the soccer season, they began telling me all they knew about soccer. I can assume, much like the rest of the nation, Manny and CP will be getting drunk together yelling at TVs for the next month of their lives. To ensure no stone was left unturned, I also turned to some others for help. Wayniac Nation’s own Q – Tip chimed in and, of course, I turned to The Thread for their input as well. So, sit back, pop yourself open a nice cool Brahma, and enjoy some crazy predictions.
Happy Memorial Day, America. It’s a time for barbecues, heading to the beach, and enjoying a long weekend with family and friends. There is usually a ton of booze involved and maybe you sneak in a two minute glance of one of the most famous non-stop left turns ever in the 98th running of the Indy 500. It is also a time to remember… hence the clever MemorialDay tag.
The sports world has long been filled with athletes who remember that, although sports are entertaining and indeed a job, they are also just a game. Endless amounts of athletes have put their careers on hold to serve this country. While some of us spend this weekend celebrating relatives or friends who have served, lets take a look at some of the more memorable athletes to put America above their stats and illustrious careers.
“I’ve been thinking about things this offseason, and I just kind of wonder sometimes, ‘Is this still the place for me? It’s just something I’m just thinking about.” (per the Houston Chronicle)
It was a gut punch to all Texans’ fans. The words of the most powerful player in franchise history reached into our bodies and pulled out our souls. The heart of the Houston Texans wants out.
If you don’t know, I am a diehard Texans’ fan. When you take a look at my profile picture, you will notice I am in a number 80 jersey. That is because Andre Johnson is not just the greatest Texan ever, he is my favorite football player to ever step on the field. Andre Johnson isn’t just the Texans’ best wide receiver… Andre Johnson is the Texans.
Wayniac Nation is proud to introduce to you our newest edition. Tim “SaucyT” Mason is part of “The Thread”, the legendary group text message that started my wheels turning, my gears grinding, and provided a lot of the fodder that motivated me to create The Wayniac blog. Tim, a die hard Falcons’, was simply miserable this past NFL season. I know because I sat through several tough ones next to him. When the Falcons were 2-9 in November, Tim started talking about the draft. No lie, November. With not an inkling of a clue of how the last five games would turn out or what draft pick the Falcons would snag, this guy turned his attention to scouting what the Falcons needed with an early pick in the draft. He and Sperry would spit out different options at different draft picks on a weekly basis. Once I realized I didn’t know half the offensive lineman or tight ends or linebackers they were taking about, it only seemed right that I ask Saucy T to join Wayniac Nation as our Draft Expert. So, without further ado:
MASON’S MOCK 2014 NFL DRAFT:
When I started preparing for my 1st annual NFL mock draft, I started thinking about how amazing the NFL is. What other sport draws 7.7 MILLION viewers for the first round of its amateur draft… on a Thursday. In total, almost 20 million viewers tuned in to watch the 3-day event. I started to wonder what made the NFL Draft so great, and then it all clicked.
A rumor began to circulate about a possible Goonies’ sequel. Stay with me here and let me explain. Growing up I, like many children of the 80’s, loved The Goonies. The Truffle Shuffle hit the mainstream months before the famous Super Bowl Shuffle. When I heard that there might be a sequel I began to think of all the possibilities, and I was both anxious and filled with hope. They may never make a Goonies’ sequel, or they might make a terrible Goonies’ sequel, but there is a chance that they make something great. Richard Donner may just give us the perfect blend of humor, adventure and nostalgia to create another classic piece of cinema. Similarly, guys like Jadeveon Clowney, Mike Evans, and Johnny Manziel could end up as busts, but maybe, just maybe they are the perfect blend of size, speed, and heart that makes a great NFL player. The NFL Draft gives us a sense of hope. In a league filled with parity, one great draft could change any team’s fate. The Dog Pound in Cleveland, The Hoggettes in D.C., and The Flock in Atlanta all believe that their teams are just one great draft away from hoisting that Lombardi Trophy, and they all tune in anxiously waiting to see the next jersey they will buy. I’m sure my mock draft won’t be perfect (nobody is), but I’m trying to balance what I think each team’s needs are with the best available players and I’ve thrown in a few trades for fun. And just remember if this year’s draft doesn’t work out for your team, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are only a year away, and “GOONIES NEVER SAY DIE”.
1. Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney (DE/South Carolina)
12 years ago the Houston Texans were a newborn NFL franchise and had the number one overall pick in the NFL draft. They had to make a decision between a small school quarterback (David Carr) and a once in a generation talent at defensive end (Julius Peppers). Sound familiar? I think the Texans learn from their rookie mistake and take the best player in this draft. Trade… Minnesota Vikings trade pick 8, pick 40, and 2015 second round pick to St. Louis Rams for pick 2
2. Minnesota Vikings – Teddy Bridgewater (QB/Louisville)
Some quick facts about the Vikings:
1. They are only one year removed from being a playoff team.
2. They have a running back who is 29 years old (I know how great AP is, but LT was great, too, and his wheel’s still came off at the dreaded age of 29).
3. They need a quarterback. Teddy Bridgewater is the most NFL ready QB in this draft and can help the Vikings contend immediately.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Sammy Watkins (WR/Clemson)
The Jaguars miss out on Teddy Bridgewater and will wait until round two to find their signal caller. Justin Blackmon will probably never put on the hideous Jaguars helmet again, which means Jacksonville will be looking for some playmakers to help whoever is under center. Sammy Watkins is the best receiver in this class, and will help give Jacksonville fans something exciting to watch when the games aren’t blacked out.
4. Cleveland Browns – Derek Carr (QB/Fresno State)
Many believe that the Browns will wait until pick 26 to take their next quarterback, but then they have to worry about those pesky teams trading back into round two to hop them. Although they may look at one of tackles, I think they decide to take “their guy” at the most important position in the NFL. (But they’ll probably change their mind next year and draft Mariota) Nothing will ever surprise me with the Browns.
5. Oakland Raiders – Khalil Mack (OLB/Buffalo)
Khalil Mack plays with a violence on the football field that I’m sure Raiders fans in the Black Hole will fall in love with, and playing in a division with guys like Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers you had better be able to get pressure on the QB. Khalil Mack will add some much needed youth to a newly signed veteran linebacking group.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Greg Robinson (OT/Auburn)
Atlanta was hoping to land one of the premier pass rushers in this draft (Clowney or Mack) but getting a true mauler like Greg Robinson will instantly help keep Arthur Blank’s $103 million investment, Matty Ice, off his back, and that’s a pretty nice consolation prize. Robinson can slide right in at RT and slide to LT after new O Line coach Mike Tice helps him with his pass blocking.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Evans (WR/Texas A&M)
After trading away Mike Williams and all of his off-field issues, the Buccaneers are left with Vincent Jackson at wide receiver and … Skye Dawson? Tommy Streeter? Exactly. The Buccaneers probably need to find two wide receivers in this draft and would do well to draft the first one here.
8. St. Louis Rams – Jake Matthews (OT/Texas A&M)
Back to back Aggies coming off the board. Although the Rams didn’t get an RGIII type of haul in their trade back, they still get a guy they may have considered at pick 2 plus a couple of second round picks. Jeff Fisher coached Jake’s dad, Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, with the Oilers/Titans organization and has seen Jake grow up from a small boy (if he was ever “small”) into possibly the most NFL ready tackle in this class.
9. Buffalo Bills – Taylor Lewan (OT/Michigan)
The Bills would love if Matthews slid one more spot to them, but since he is already gone they may reach slightly to take a player at a position of need. Last year the Bills shocked everyone by drafting E.J. Manuel extremely high due to his “lunchpail” mentality. Lewan has that same blue collar attitude and plays with a mean streak that will endear him to the diehard fans in Toronto, err… uh.. I mean Buffalo. The Toronto Bills won’t be on the clock until 2016.
10. Detroit Lions – Justin Gilbert (CB/Oklahoma St.)
There is a lot of chatter about the Lions moving up for Sammy Watkins, but Detroit has plenty of weapons. When you have to line up against Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery twice a year it will be nice to have a 6’0/202 lb CB with 4.37 speed like Gilbert.
Trade… St. Louis Rams trade pick 13 and pick 110 to Tennessee Titans for pick 11
11. St. Louis Rams – Ha’sean Clinton-Dix (S/Alabama)
The value of a great safety is increasing in the NFL. Look no further than the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks. If you need to look further, just look at the contracts that guys like Jarius Byrd and TJ Ward got in free agency. That kind of money is no joke. Ha Ha will definitely provide the coaching staff in St. Louis with a defensive playmaker in the back half of their defense. 12. New York Giants – Aaron Donald (DT/Pitt)
After losing Linval Joseph in free agency the Giants are left looking for a DT in the draft and they get the best one here at twelve. Aaron Donald may be slightly undersized, but he plays much bigger than his 285 lbs. Donald will help the Giants defensive line get back to their Super Bowl winning ways when they wreaked havoc on quarterbacks throughout the NFL.
13. Tennessee Titans – Darqueze Dennard (CB/Michigan St.)
Darqueze Dennard will help the Titans ease the loss of Alterraun Verner to the Buccaneers. Many experts believe Dennard is the best CB in this class and he will be able to step in and start right away. Dennard will go through growing pains just like most rookie CBs, but he has all the tools to succeed in the long run.
14. Chicago Bears – C.J. Mosley (ILB/Alabama)
The Chicago Bears and middle linebackers go together like John Hughes’ movies and teen angst. The middle linebacker position has long been the anchor of great defenses in Chicago, and their defense last year was anything but great (ranked 31st in points allowed). Although they need help along the defensive line and in the secondary, Mosley is the best defensive player available here and will hope to patrol Soldier field as well as Butkus, Singletary, and Urlacher did before him.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Louis Nix III (NT/Notre Dame)
The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the few teams that have been running the 3-4 defense longer than I can remember. They certainly understand that without a big body in the middle to eat up blockers, their playmaking linebackers will not be able to make plays. Louis Nix III definitely fills that void. At 6’2/331 lbs Nix will be able to anchor the middle of the defense and allow young guys like last years first round pick Jarvis Jones run free and make plays.
Trade… Green Bay Packers trade pick 21, pick 85, and pick 121 to Dallas Cowboys for pick 16 and pick 158.
16. Green Bay Packers – Calvin Pryor (S/Louisville)
The Packers need help in the back half of their defense. The fear that Baltimore will be looking for a safety at 17 will leave Green Bay no alternative to pay the price and jump in front of the Ravens to take Pryor. Pryor is a big hitter and will help the Packers bolster their 25th ranked rush defense.
17. Baltimore Ravens – Brandin Cooks (WR/Oregon St.)
Baltimore’s offense lacked playmakers last year as they went through a Super Bowl hangover season. They’ve brought in Steve Smith in free agency, but at 34 years old he isn’t the playmaker he once was. Brandin Cooks is only 5’10, but who better to help him develop into a true NFL weapon than Steve Smith, who is only 5’9 himself.
18. New York Jets – Eric Ebron (TE/UNC)
Eric Ebron fits the mold of the new pass catching tight end in the NFL. The Jets would love for him to slide all the way to 18 and be able to give Geno Smith a real weapon and security blanket to help him cut down on the 21 interceptions he threw in his rookie year.
19. Miami Dolphins – Zack Martin (G,T/Notre Dame)
The Miami Dolphins offensive line issues in 2013 extended far beyond play on the field. With Richie Incognito and Jonathon Martin gone from the team and the locker room, the Dolphins will look to rebuild their offensive line from the ground up. Martin gives them a tough, gritty player that can play all over the line. Definitely a luxury to have when rebuilding.
20. Arizona Cardinals – Ra’Shede Hageman (DT/Minnesota)
In order to compete with San Francisco and Seattle, the Cardinals look to strengthen their defense by bringing in what could turn out to be the steal of the first round. Hageman has the physical tools to be a top ten pick, but has never put it all together. If Bruce Arians and the Arizona coaching staff can find a way to keep Hageman motivated, it might just be enough to help the Cardinals leap frog the 49ers in the NFL’s new black and blue division.
Trade… San Francisco 49ers trade pick 30 and pick 61 to Dallas Cowboys for pick 21.
21. San Francisco 49ers- Anthony Barr (OLB/UCLA)
The 49ers have three picks in the first two rounds and a roster without many holes. These two things allow them the luxury of slightly overpaying to move up and get a pass rusher who was once considered to be a top ten pick. With Aldon Smith’s future in San Francisco in doubt, Barr will be able to help fill that void. Although Barr is very raw his ceiling is as high as any pass rusher in this class.
22. Philadelphia Eagles – Odell Beckham Jr. (WR/LSU)
The Philadelphia Eagles released Desean Jackson this offseason, and will look to add more weapons to Chip Kelly’s fast paced offense to replace him. Beckham Jr. will probably be third on the depth chart as a rookie, behind Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, but in that offense you can never have too many weapons.
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Marqise Lee (WR/USC)
Marqise Lee was once considered to be the top wide receiver in the 2014 draft class and a sure fire top ten pick. A down 2013 season for Lee and USC along with some of the other wideouts breaking out led to Lee sliding down most draft boards. The Chiefs will gladly end Lee’s slide as they look to strengthen an offense looking for more weapons beyond Jamal Charles and Dwayne Bowe.
Trade… New England Patriots trade pick 29, pick 130, and pick 198 to Cincinnati Bengals for pick 24.
24. New England Patriots – Cody Latimer (WR/Indiana)
With a run on wide recievers beginning, and a few wideout needy teams (Carolina, New Orleans) in front of them, the Patriots pull the trigger and move up to get Tom Brady the big outside target he has been lacking since Randy Moss left. At 6’3 and 215 lbs, Latimer will provide a big body on the outside to help give guys like Amendola and Edelman room to run free underneath. 25. San Diego Chargers – Bradley Roby (CB/Ohio State)
Roby is another player with all the physical tools to be a top 15-20 pick, but his off the field issues may be enough to make some teams shy away. Roby may start as a nickel back his rookie year, but having to go up against Peyton Manning twice, the Chargers will look to have a strong nickel defense.
Trade… Oakland Raiders trade pick 36 and pick 67 to Cleveland Browns for pick 26.
26. Oakland Raiders – Blake Bortles (QB/UCF)
The Oakland Raiders traded for Matt Schaub for their short term answer at QB, and move back into the first round to get their long term answer at the position. Many have Bortles going in the top ten picks, but once he makes it past the QB needy teams, his tumble down the board begins. Bortles will have time in Oakland to learn under Schaub for a year or two before he takes over.
27. New Orleans Saints – Kony Ealy (DE/Missouri)
Rob Ryan helped transform the Saints defense from a laughing stock into a serviceable unit in just one year. The front office gave him a new piece to help the secondary in Jarius Byrd, and now they will add another pass rusher to help the defense take the next step.
28. Carolina Panthers – Morgan Moses (OT/Virginia)
Jordan Gross chose to retire at age 33, leaving a hole on the Carolina Panthers offensive line. Morgan Moses is a raw athlete, but possesses all the physical tools to turn into a great tackle in the NFL.
29. Cincinnati Bengals – Ryan Shazier (OLB/Ohio State)
The Bengals don’t have many positions of need, but Shazier will be able to add depth to a great defense and can play inside and outside linebacker.
30. Dallas Cowboys – Timmy Jernigan (DT/FSU)
The Cowboys switch to a Tampa 2 defense last year didn’t quite go as planned. Monte Kiffin is out as defensive coordinator, but his replacement Rod Marinelli also runs the Tampa 2 and will be looking for a defensive tackle to play the Warren Sapp role in his defense and help apply pressure from the interior of the line. Jernigan would be a perfect fit in that role and will help make the Cowboys defense look a little more like those great Bucs and Bears teams running the Tampa 2.
31. Denver Broncos – Kyle Fuller (CB/Virginia Tech)
Adding Aqib Talib in free agency will help bolster the Denver secondary, but Talib has a history of not playing in all 16 games, so adding another CB in the draft will provide the Broncos with depth and insurance.
32. Seattle Seahawks – Kelvin Benjamin (WR/FSU)
The Seahawks will continue to be a team that wins by running the ball and playing great defense, but adding Kelvin Benjamin will help give them a true red zone threat at the receiver position that could take their offense to the next level.
Sometimes you need to break the mold. Not everything is going to be fun and games. The events of the last few days for Bills Nation deserve a more serious approach, and it would not be right if I addressed it differently. Buffalo has lost the heart of its franchise. Its soul is fighting to survive.
Ralph Wilson wasn’t just big for Buffalo but was instrumental in evolving the NFL into what it is today. Born in October of 1918 in Michigan, Wilson grew up a Detroit Lions fan. His father owned an insurance company that he would one day take over. After he studied at the University of Virginia and Michigan Law, Wilson enlisted in the Navy and served in WWII. Upon his return, he ran the family insurance company until 1959 when he decided to buy a football franchise.
Originally, Wilson wanted the team to be in Miami, however he couldn’t reach an agreement with The Orange Bowl to play their home games in the stadium. He settled for War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo and chose to name the franchise the Bills in honor of the All-America Conference team that played there in the ’40s. His initial investment in the franchise was $25,000. Today, the team’s worth stands at over $870 million, which surprisingly ranks them 30th of the 32 teams.
It wasn’t just the Bills that was born, however. He was a founder and driving force of the American Football League that would eventually rival the NFL. Wilson, along with the legendary Lamar Hunt, Bud Adams, and five other founding members struggled mightily the first few seasons, so much so that Wilson had to lend $400,000 to his AFL foe Oakland Raiders in 1962 to keep them afloat. (Ok, maybe this isn’t so much a credit to Wilson’s legacy. After all, if he didn’t give them the money, we would never have been exposed to Al Davis, but it still shows that Wilson was a hell of a guy. Could you see the Yankees giving money to the Royals to keep them alive? Puh-lease). He also lent money to the New England Patriots to keep their franchise from going extinct as well, so you’re welcome Brady fans. Wilson’s generosity made the AFL the only sports league to never have a team fold while it existed. By the mid-1960s, they were posing a legitimate threat to the popularity of the NFL. While the Buffalo Bills were winning back-to-back AFL Championships in 1964 and 1965, Wilson was acting as the AFL representative in early merger talks with the NFL. Though these early talks fell through, Wilson’s next move was one of the biggest in NFL history. He served an active role on the committee that brought us this little game that would pit the best team in the AFL versus the best team in the NFL. They thought this game would be so extraordinary, so epic in its magnitude that they named it the Super Bowl. By 1967, the two leagues were officially going at each other for football supremacy.
The AFL would come to an end in 1969. The NFL had seen enough, and with Wilson at the helm, the AFL and NFL came to an agreement to merge both leagues together. It’s been nothing but success since then as the NFL is tightening its grasp on being the most popular sport worldwide. If it weren’t for Wilson and his revolutionaries, where would the NFL be? Would there be 32 teams spanning the entire nation?
He was outspoken, but it was because he was a visionary. He turned heads when he voted against the Cleveland Browns abandoning their city and moving to Baltimore. He also made enemies when he and Cincinnati Bengals’ owner Mike Brown were the only two owners who spoke up against the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement that eventually led to the 2011 lockout. (The two were later heralded for their foresight on the issue.) He also was in charge of the negotiations and ensuing agreement to have the Bills play multiple games in Canada. Since then the NFL has been aggressively discussing international expansion with London and Mexico City on the radar. Coincidence?
After the OJ Simpson years, the Bills fell into obscurity. That led to change and in the mid-1980’s Wilson brought on Bill Polian as GM and Marv Levy as Head Coach and drafted Jim Kelly to be their franchise quarterback. The four together would change the face of the franchise forever.
Jim Kelly was part of the infamous quarterback class of 1983, drafted with the likes of John Elway, Tony Eason, Dan Marino, Ken O’Brien, and Todd Blackledge. After an illustrious career at The U, Kelly did not want to go to play in the cold weather of Buffalo and elected to join the Houston Gamblers of the USFL (I was a huge USFL and New Jersey Generals fan. I remember watching Kelly set records and win the MVP for Houston and then signing with my Generals right before they folded). The USFL folded in 1986 and Kelly returned to the team that drafted him. He would turn around a perennial loser and do something no other QB has ever done or most likely will never do again. Kelly, with their patented no huddle offense, shredded the AFC for 4 consecutive years and represented the AFC in the Super Bowl from 1990-1993. Today, the hard-nosed quarterback who fought to turn the Bills into a powerhouse is fighting for his life.
Kelly was originally diagnosed with oral cancer in June of last year. He had surgery that would cost him part of his jaw and some of his teeth. Much like the warrior he was on the field for the Bills in the mid-80s to the mid-90s, Kelly beat the cancer and seemed to be fine. Ten days ago, however, the cancer returned and is much more aggressive. Today, the New York Daily News reports that it is highly likely that the cancer is curable, however surgery is not an option. The process will be long. He is weak and “in bad shape” according to reports, and the cancer is quickly spreading.
Personally, I was never a huge Jim Kelly fan, but I never disliked him. I think he had two factors against him when I was a young kid that made me under appreciate his greatness. First and foremost, he played against Joe Montana, John Elway, and Dan Marino. Those three were in bigger markets and had more notoriety, but they also had bigger stats. As a kid, what determines greatness are the numbers on the back of a player’s football card, not their worth on the field. Secondly, despite those four consecutive Super Bowls, he lost them all. Now that I am almost 40, I realize what Kelly did at the helm of the high-powered Bills’ offense was remarkable. Simply put, with the parity in the NFL (which is unmatched by any other sport), it is astounding to go to four straight championships. The reason that people have loved the NFL for the past several decades is summed up by the old phrase any given Sunday. Did anyone give the Giants a chance against the undefeated Patriots? No, but we all know who won. From 1990-1993, Kelly and Wilson’s Buffalo Bills eliminated that concept and totally dominated the NFL… except for one Sunday each season.
The city of Buffalo is a little emptier this week. They will play with heavy hearts but lifted spirits this coming season. The 2013 Red Sox put Boston on their shoulders and went from last place to World Champions. It will be interesting to see how Buffalo responds when they walk into Ralph Wilson Stadium for the first time without its namesake up in the box watching. There is no predicting the future, but until then we can all #PrayForJimKelly.
“It would be the worst decision they’ve ever made. I’d be in the same division playing against them twice a year. Sorry, but you just turned that chip on my shoulder from a Fritos into a Dorito.”
I tried, folks. I wanted to steer clear of a draft rant until after the NFL Combine concluded on February 25th. Then over the weekend, Johnny Manziel had to once again tell the sports world about how great a quarterback Johnny Manziel is. Well, I don’t buy it.
It’s not that I hate Johnny Football or think he doesn’t have the skills to succeed in the NFL. I don’t think he is what the Texans, my favorite NFL team, need at number one. I don’t think any of these QBs are. Seemingly everyday some draft expert has new insight on how the Texans need to take Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel. Well which one is it? According to Johnny Football, the first pick should be Johnny Football.
If you have been following me on Twitter, you know I have been taking two approaches. One, I am trying to start #TeamClowney because that is who, at the current moment, I want at number one overall. Secondly, I said I was not yet sold on the quarterbacks and that they could change my mind at the NFL Combine next week, which was why I was trying to hold off on a blog. Johnny Manziel will not be there as he is voluntarily skipping the event to prepare for his Pro Days.
While people question Clowney’s desire and motivation, I question if Manziel knows what he is talking about. Let’s dissect his quote from the other day: It would be the worst decision they have ever made. Has he watched the Texans at all over the last decade? This is a team that drafted Dunta Robinson, Travis Johnson, Amobi Okoye, and Kareem Jackson in the first round and kept Gary Kubiak as head coach for about 3 seasons too long. I’d be in the same division playing against them twice a year. This of course is speculation that if the Texans pass on Mr. Football then the Jaguars would snatch him up at the third pick. This is the same Jaguars team that swept the Texans last season and the same Jaguars team that won two games in 2012 and took the Texans, amid their best season in history, to the last seconds of overtime in a high scoring affair, and the same Jaguars that the Texans own a career 13-11 record over. The Jaguars have been doing quite alright handling the Texans without Johnny Football. Sorry, but you just turned that chip on my shoulder from a Fritos into a Dorito. How delightfully metaphorical. I don’t care for Fritos much though, so I would hope it was a Dorito from the get go, preferably the Spicy Nacho flavor.
So why am I opposed to Manziel and this year’s flock of QBs at number one? Sure, the Texans need a QB badly, but is jumping on a prospect based on only their potential the right thing to do at number one? In 1984 the Portland Trail Blazers needed a center and they drafted Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan. Sometimes talent supersedes need. If you subscribe to the philosophy that you address needs in the draft over talent, let me throw this at you: the Texans addressed their biggest need last December when they fired Kubiak. His play calling had gone stale and their offense became predictable. He laid it up too often when the Texans needed him to be Tin Cup and just go for it.
Manziel is not the right choice for the Texans. Our fan base deserves a proven winner, not a stat sheet filler. The current starter (I think) Case Keenum set records as a Houston Cougar and did very little last season to show that he is starting NFL QB material. Across the state, Dallas has been dealing with Tony Romo lighting up box scores for years with nothing to show for it. If the Texans go QB number one, he has to be Andrew Luck-esque, a guy who is going to get the team to the playoffs in year one and take over the division in year two. Drafting Johnny Manziel as the future of the team is not my problem. My problem is in drafting him with the number one overall pick. If the Texans had the fifth to seventh pick, I would have no problem with a gamble however, with the first pick overall, you need an immediate game changer. Take a look at the last four years. Andrew Luck and Cam Newton are considered elite, while people are beginning to question Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford. Yes, the same Matthew Stafford who has thrown for over 4,500 yards the last three seasons is viewed by some as uncoachable. Why? Because the Lions don’t win.
Manziel’s stats speak volumes, but stats do not win titles. In all of his college greatness, the Aggies had no division or conference championships and no BCS Bowl appearances to show for it. The Heisman you say? Sure, he was the first freshman to win the award, but it was considered by many to be the weakest Heisman class ever: Manti Te’o, Collin Klein, Marqise Lee, and Braxton Miller. What happened this season when he battled against Jameis Winston, Andre Williams, Tre Mason, Jordan Lynch, and AJ McCarron? He finished fifth.
I know, Clowney’s Gamecocks didn’t win any championships either. The reality of football however is that the quarterback is the ultimate leader. When the team wins the quarterback is the hero while when they lose he’s the goat. Clowney led a defense that had USC finish in the Top Ten in the nation all three years he was in school. Johnny Manziel’s Aggies only finished in the Top Ten once in his two year tenure.
Jadeveon Clowney is a freak of nature. Standing at 6’5″ and 274 pounds with 4.5 40-speed, he has the perfect build to transition from college defensive end to 3-4 linebacker in Houston’s scheme. He was the consensus top ranked recruit going into college and is currently the number one ranked draft prospect overall. He was Freshman of the Year in his first campaign, and while Manziel turned heads as the first freshman to win the Heisman, Clowney was the first sophomore to win the Hendrick’s Award as the top end in the nation. He times the snap better than most and he is too quick for trap blocking schemes. He can defend the run and the pass and has unlimited potential. What scares draft experts and NFL people is his head. Many feel that he took last season off to protect himself for his big payday in May. They question his work ethic because he was late to a few meetings and wasn’t the first-and-last-in-the-weight-room type of guy. There is some worry whether he will still have the desire and drive once he signs and makes his millions. I can’t answer that, but I’m willing to take that chance on sheer talent alone.
Manziel? He’s either the number 2 or 3 ranked QB heading into the draft and around the number 7 overall prospect depending on whose information you use. He is short for a QB standing at 6’1 and 210 pounds. He recently thanked Russell Wilson for showing that short QBs can win it all. No mention of how their defense (which was mainly built through the draft) came through when their offense sputtered throughout the season, eh, Johnny? The big knock on Manziel is that he falls away from his throws whether there is any pressure or not and this directly effects his consistency and accuracy. Well that doesn’t sound very good to me at all.
Who is Manziel’s primary competition? Teddy Bridgewater is a very good quarterback at many aspects of his game; however, he is just not a great quarterback. Blake Bortles has the quarterback build, but his footwork and throwing mechanics are questionable. When I look at Teddy Bridgewater I see a Big Ben type of QB while in Johnny Manziel I see a Russell Wilson or a more quarterback-ready Tim Tebow. When I watch Bortles, the way he runs and throws, I see Andrew Luck. Which of those guys would you draft first overall?
Recently, Manziel received two ringing endorsements from some pretty elite company. John McClain, esteemed writer for the Chronicle and regular insider on the NFL Network, said he is sold on Manziel as the right pick for the Texans, while legendary New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre said he sees himself when he looks at Manziel. Despite these prestigious opinions, I still feel that taking Manziel with the first pick is as equal a gamble as taking Clowney first and picking a project like Zach Mettenberger with a later selection. Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Russell Wilson turned out to be pretty darn good quarterbacks and they couldn’t even sneak into the first round never mind the first pick overall. Every Andrew Luck pick has a Jamarcus Russell to counter it and every Peyton Manning has a Jeff George. If Manziel was the clear cut choice over Bridgewater and Bortles, then the Texans would have to go for him. But he isn’t, and he won’t be at the Combine to prove to me otherwise.
I need to cool off. By the time you read this, I’m sure Derek Carr will be the projected number one pick in the draft. I wouldn’t mind that actually because I could whip out my David Carr jersey and wear it again with pride. Until next time, here’s to USA bringing home that hockey gold!
What a week, folks. There was a lot going on even without football and baseball. Saban grabbed 19 of ESPNs top 50 recruits to form yet again, the top freshman class in the nation. A-Rod came to his senses and dropped the lawsuit, although I still think he’s a jerk and there is something more behind it. Syracuse beat Notre Dame to stay #UNDEFEATACUSE and remain #1 in the land. Lastly, over in Sochi, the most bizarre Olympics to date kicked off with the US, of course, capturing the first gold.
Despite all that, I still rather write about football. With the 2013 NFL season all wrapped up, one thing I learned it’s that I suck at projecting the Super Bowl! All I can say is Wow, tip my cap, and congratulate the Seattle Seahawks. They went out there and totally thrashed the greatest offense of all time. It was the most anticlimactic end to an otherwise exciting season, even worse than the infamous fade to black Sopranos ending. Seriously, the Seahawks had the lead for 59 minutes and 48 seconds. It was total domination.
Enough about Super Bowl XLVIII. It’s in the books. Now we reflect on what was. My Houston Texans were the most overhyped team in years. They were projected to be in the Super Bowl by a lot of experts. I watched every game, folks, and they were literally two or three plays away from an 0-16 season. In the end, Kubiak and his entire regime paid the price. Despite having to endure the worst season I’ve had to sit through as a Texan fan – and that says a lot people – there were a few tidbits I was able to take away from the ’13 season.
WHAT WE LEARNED IN 2013
1. Bill Belicheck is a genius and the best coach in football.
If you believe that there is a correlation between Spygate and Belicheck’s ability to win a Super Bowl, I’ll have the Easter Bunny come pick you up and discuss how the Red Sox were held title-less for 86 years because of a fat, dead Babe Ruth. Look at his resume this millenium: 158 wins, double-digit wins 11 years in a row, 11 AFC East Titles, a 3-2 record over 5 Super Bowls, and an undefeated regular season campaign. It’s not even about the numbers with Belicheck, it’s how he has done it. In the early 2000s, before Brady was merely super human and not a football god, he ran a run first, defensive minded team. Then in 2007, he got new toys he never had before in Randy Moss and Wes Welker, and they went 16-0 as Brady unleashed himself through the air as one of the NFL’s most dominating QBs. This season, he lost his best WR in Welker. He lost the NFLs best TE to multiple injuries and his back-up TE to the penal system. Vereen was down for most of the year, and it seemed he lost a key defender each and every week. He still won 12 games and the AFC East, and he still was on the cusp of making it to the Super Bowl. Belicheck seems to get it done with any combination of players, any style of offense or defense, and as long as he has Brady, even as he begins to decline in talent, the Patriots are a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
2. Chip Kelly was better than advertised.
I assume many of you were like me. Entering 2013, I thought Kelly was another great college coach who thought he could change the NFL with his crazy schemes. Through 4 and a half games, the skeptics looked to be right. The Eagles started 1-3, but late in the 2nd quarter of game 5 against the Giants, Nick Foles replaced an injured Michael Vick and changed the Eagles season. They would go 9-3 with Foles at the helm and capture the NFC East title. Kelly helped make Foles the next big QB (2891 yards passing, 27 TD, 2 Int, and a league leading 119.2 QB rating over 10 and a half games). His offense helped return LeSean McCoy to stud-dom as he lead the league in both rushing (1607) and total yards (2146) with 11 combined TDs. The Eagles still have work to do, but Kelly has them going in the right direction.
3. The Dallas Cowboys are a joke.
I’m tired of hearing about these guys. Over the last 10 seasons, they are a mere 87-73 with 2 NFC East titles and a 1-3 playoff record. Compare that to the other team in Texas, the aforementioned under achieving Houston Texans. The Texans have the same amount of division titles and more playoff wins over the same amount of time, and until recently, they have mostly been an afterthought. It’s time the Cowboys are, too. Somehow, the Cowboys are always a “threat” for the NFC East even though they lose out on the last game of the season every year. Tony Romo is always on the verge of becoming and elite QB, but he simply is not. This team is good but needs changes from top to bottom.
4. Megatron… You have company.
Throughout Calvin Johnson’s tenure, there were many good WRs in the NFL. We have even watched quite a few future Hall of Famers like Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. None came close to the sheer talent that Calvin Johnson possesses… until now. Josh Gordon had a spectacular 2013 campaign. What is more remarkable? Was it that he led the league in receiving (1646 yards) in just his second season? Or was it that he did it despite missing the first two games of the season? No, it was that fact that he was the ONLY weapon on a terrible Cleveland Browns offense that provided Gordon with Brandon Weedon, Brian Hoyer, and Jason Campbell behind center. The debates have already begun in fantasy circles. Who is the best WR heading into 2014? It sure will be fun to find out.
5. The Seattle Seahawks 2013 defense is one of the greatest of all time.
Halfway through the third quarter of SB48, Jay Holloway turned to me and asked If you blogged that the 2013 Broncos team was the best offense ever, doesn’t this make the Seahawks the best defense ever? Well, Jay, they certainly have earned the right to be in the conversation. Let’s compare them to what many consider the top defenses of the Super Bowl Era:
1985 Bears: 4,135 yards allowed, 198 points allowed, 61 turnovers, 64 sacks, and 5 TDs 2000 Ravens: 3,967 YA, 165 PA, 58 TOs, 35 sacks, and 1 TD 2002 Bucs: 4,044 YA, 196 PA, 47 TOs, 43 sacks, and 5 TD 1974 Steel Curatin: 3,074 YA, 189 PA, 60 TOs, and 3 TDs
(sacks were not yet an official stat) 2013 Seahawks: 4,378 YA, 231 PA, 57 TOs, 43 sacks, 4 TDs
Their numbers are very comparable. The yards allowed and points allowed are inflated because, let’s face it, it’s a different NFL where offenses rule and defenses can’t hit. You could argue that makes their defense all the more remarkable. What can’t be denied is that the 4 teams listed above won their Super Bowls defeating Tony Eason/ Steve Grogan (Bears), Kerry Collins (Ravens), Rich Gannon (Bucs), and Fran Tarkenton (Steelers). The 2013 Seahawks completely dismantled Peyton Manning, one of the Top 5 QBs of all-time who just completed the single greatest season of all-time. Are they the greatest? Maybe, maybe not, but they are clearly now part of the argument.
Well, there you have it. The 2013 NFL season is officially wrapped up. It’s time to turn our attention to the NBA, college hoops, and the Olympics for a few weeks until the NFL Combine and Spring Training is under way. Until next time, GO ORANGE!!!
Happy Groundhog’s Day, folks! As my home base of Atlanta finally thaws out and returns to normalcy, that little fur ball Phil popped up and saw his shadow. On top of that, my SYRACUSE ORANGE BEAT DUKE AND ARE THE NUMBER ONE TEAM IN THE COUNTRY!!! If that all wasn’t enough, today, we get to watch the Super Bowl.
If you have followed my posts this week, you know my thoughts. But a quick recap wouldn’t hurt: Super Bowl in New York = bad idea and Broncos are your Super Bowl champs. This Super Bowl means so much to Peyton, and I think the heart of the warrior brings home the Lombardi Trophy to Denver.
Why does Peyton need to win this Super Bowl? It’s simple. In the NFL, more than any other sport, rings define greatness. Notice I used the plural form. You need multiple rings. In other sports, you can be considered elite without any rings. Take the NBA for example. Many consider that the top Power Forward to ever suit up is either Sir Charles or the Mailman. They have a combined 0 rings, but it’s forgivable because they played during the Jordan Era, and no one could win rings unless you joined the Bulls. Baseball is mostly about statistics. Cal Ripken has one ring and barely even made the playoffs during his career, but many consider him the greatest Short Stop ever. Tony Gwynn never won a ring at all and many baseball enthusiasts will argue he is the purest, most natural hitter of our lifetime. But in the NFL, it’s all about the bling.
Brett Favre will always be in the conversation for the best QB ever, but despite his records, despite his 3 MVPs, most people still think Brady and Montana surpass him. Why? One ring. Jim Kelly led his team to four straight Super Bowls, a feat that in this era of parity, we will never see again. But he didn’t win a single one and he has a hard time breaking a lot of people’s Top Ten. Poor Dan Marino would be the greatest QB ever if he could have just gotten a few Super Bowls. Drew Brees has some of the most insane numbers any QB has ever put up since he joined the Saints and he’s not even in the Top Ten conversation despite his statistics showing otherwise. Why? One ring. One ring is the same amount that Brad Johnson, Trent Dilfer, Jeff Hostetler, and Jim McMahon have. No offense to those guys, but they are not even in a top 50 conversation.
Two or more rings, though, and all these crazy conversations start. Is Eli Manning elite? Seriously? This guy has two good drives in his life and people start anointing him better than his brother. Come on, people. This is why Peyton Manning needs to win. If he holds up that trophy tonight, not only will one of my good friends, Jay Scott, be thrilled, but Peyton Manning will solidify himself as the Greatest Quarterback of All-Time. It can be supported by opinion, it can be supported by rings, and it can be supported by FACTS. Let’s look at the facts, folks, and stack him up against the other people in the Greatest QB ever argument.
Who is in the argument? Brett Favre, based on rings is eliminated. Dan Marino, who was deprived of any rings, is also out. Bart Starr is hands down a Top Ten QB based on his winning pedigree, but he doesn’t have the numbers to compete, so cross him off. So, for me, that leaves Johnny Unitas, Tom Brady, Joe Montana, and John Elway in the hunt with Peyton for the best ever. Well, last night, while Syracuse was beating Duke to become number one in the land, Peyton took home his fifth MVP. That’s two more than anyone else has ever had and four less than the others in this conversation had combined (Unitas has 3, Montana has 3, Brady has 2, and Elway has 1).
Montana and Brady are in the argument because of how they played in the post season and especially the big game. So despite the fact that if Peyton wins his second ring tonight they will still have one more ring, I still think Peyton will best them. Why? In my opinion, all you need are rings. It doesn’t matter if it’s 2 or 3. Want proof? Terry Bradshaw has four rings and even a drunken Steeler fan knows he’s not the GOAT. So after that, we look at statistics, and Peyton dwarfs them all.
Manning: 64,964 yards at a 65.5% rate, 491 TDs, 219 Ints, 97 QB Rating
Elway: 51,485 yards at a 56.9% rate, 300 TDs, 226 Ints, 79.9% QB Rating
Brady: 49,159 yards at a 63.4% rate, 359 TDs, 134 Ints, 95.7 QB Rating
Montana: 40,551 yards at 63.2% rate, 273 TDs, 139 Ints, 92.3 QB Rating
Unitas: 40,239 yards at 54.6% rate, 290 TDs, 253 Ints, 78.2 QB Rating
(Johnny U only has one Super Bowl ring, but he has two pre-Super Bowl NFL Championships so he is allowed in the conversation)
You can see it’s not even close. If you do happen to be a statistics guy and want to argue Favre, you have a good case… right now. If Peyton’s neck is ok and he gets clearance to return, he will break Favre’s records. The only reason there is even a Greatest QB of All-Time conversation is because of Manning’s post season record and lack of rings. Tonight he can change all of that. Tonight he can cement himself as the greatest of all time.
Well, folks, it’s that time for me to cool off. Enjoy your Super Bowl parties and to my people in the service industry stuck working, make that money. Let’s go Broncos, and remember: CUSE IS NUMBER ONE!!!