Tag Archives: NFL

Antonio Brown: An American Story

Antonio Brown was nothing, a no one. Drafted in the sixth round out of Central Michigan, the league as a whole had decided Antonio Brown did not have what it took to make it in the NFL. He was too short, played at a small school where he’d never faced the “real deal” guys.

Brown would write his own story, setting numerous NFL records, routinely making All-Pro teams and began making a case for himself as the greatest receiver since Jerry Rice. He hugged field goal posts after punt return touchdowns, performed backflips, burnt defenses with his speed. Brown had it all: a second contract and all the accolades.

Then, he was decapitated.

Vontaze Burfict took his trademark headhunting prowess and directed it at Antonio Brown. Brown would suffer a concussion and miss the following week’s divisional round bout with the eventual Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos.

From that point on, Antonio Brown began to unravel but not in the areas the public and organization deemed important. Brown was still a maestro on the football field. He’d enter the NFL’s Top 100 for receptions and receiving yards the following year, climb the ranks of the Steelers’ all-time receiving list but the Antonio Brown that was fun and lovable, who entertained fans with touchdown celebrations, began to fade. That postseason he would record a Facebook live stream of a postseason victory speech in the Steelers’ locker room, dissuading team captains and head coach Mike Tomlin, who rightly eviscerated Brown.

The Steelers, unaware of the changed star, signed him to a five-year contract extension, making him the highest-paid receiver in football. There was a speeding ticket on McKnight Road, absences at practice but these were overlooked. This was just a star enjoying his spotlight.

Sideline antics would follow, spouts would be had and eventually, over time, the Steelers had decided they had enough. Brown would be shipped to Oakland.

This offseason the world watched as Antonio Brown capsized in the Bay, arriving late to his first press conference, true to form. He would suffer frostbite on his feet during a cryotherapy session, threaten retirement over a helmet disagreement, miss practices, criticize the Raiders for penalizing him for missing those practices, call his general manager “a cracker” and request his release from a contract after the Oakland Raiders nixed his guaranteed $30 million.

This behavior was not normal, never has been normal but the public ate it up, salivating at what the next development could be. As Antonio Brown’s mental sanity continued its tour down the well, no one seemed to raise an eye. People were only concerned with who Antonio Brown would be catching footballs for next.

Next? Surely a team wouldn’t sign someone so over the radar, someone who had so clearly lost his faculties?

The New England Patriots signed him within 24 hours.

It should not have come as a surprise. Tyreek Hill can break his three-year-old son’s arm and get a $54 million contract the same year. It’s the same reason why Richie Incognito can burst into a funeral home asking for his father’s head to be removed for research purposes and make an NFL roster within a year.

The people don’t care.

Athletes’ well-being or criminal history is not a concern to the NFL or to its fans. The only matter to debate is how many touchdowns they can score or stop.

Antonio Brown did not become a malignance by himself. He became one because he was enabled. Social media adored him, people in positions of power refused to hold him accountable. He was told he was bigger than everything. His #CallGod has become a reference to himself.

It’s no wonder. We just enabled him again.

The Antonio Brown saga will play out like an episode of the Running Man. We will watch as our contestant hurdles over obstacles and drives ratings and we will continue to do so until our player falls and gets brought by the chainsaw. Rather than bemoan the horror at the end of the road, we’ll just move to the next candidate whilst questioning how it all went wrong, ignorant of our contributions to the bloody mess.

But God forbid if Antonio Brown ever took a knee.

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Time to Take The Bell Down

Image result for leveon bell poster free useI’m done.

We all should be.

There’s only so much nonsense you can take before the phrase “I’ve had it up to here” should be utilized.

Le’Veon Bell has reached that point.

On the off-chance you’re still living under a rock in 2018, Le’Veon Bell is a professional football player, specifically, a running back, in the National Football League who plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s very accomplished, carries superior talent and has become possibly the best in the world at what he does and so has asked to be paid as such. So far so good.

I, as well as most, completely sympathize with someone’s efforts being rewarded. We want to see our work and time appreciated and for us to be compensated as such. That is perfectly reasonable.

If you haven’t followed Bell’s saga because you’ve been under that rock, here’s a synopsis:

  • Bell is drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft, the second back taken off the board.
  • Bell suffers a mid-foot sprain in his second preseason game, missing the first three weeks of the season. Despite that, Bell breaks legend Franco Harris’ rookie franchise record for yards from scrimmage (1,259).
  • Bell has a stellar 2014, finishing second in rushing yards and scrimmage yards behind DeMarco Murray, leads all backs in receiving and earns his first Pro-Bowl nod. Bell hyperextends his knee in the final contest of the regular season, missing the playoffs.
  • Bell is arrested with then-teammate LeGarrette Blount on DUI and marijuana possession charges. He’s suspended two games.
  • Bell’s 2015 season ends after suffering a torn MCL.
  • Bell sleeps through an alarm and misses a third drug test, which ends in another suspension, this time for three games.
  • Bell suffers a groin injury late in divisional round, leaving him mostly inactive for the Steelers’ championship loss against New England.
  • In 2017, Bell is named to his third Pro Bowl and amasses nearly 2,000 scrimmage yards.
  • Days before the team’s playoff match with Jacksonville, Bell says he would consider retiring if the Steelers placed the franchise tag on him for a second consecutive campaign. The previous offseason, Bell turned down a five-year contract that would have paid him an annual average value, or AAV, of 12. It included 30 million for his first two seasons and 42 for his first three, an unprecedented evaluation for a running back. Even Adrian Peterson’s extension back in 2011, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, had an AAV of 9.6. Bell turned down 12.

There are a couple of things you should take note of in the above section:

  1. Le’Veon Bell is good at running back.
  2. Le’Veon Bell has disciplinary issues.
  3. Le’Veon Bell has an injury history.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a look at some headlines:

“LE’VEON BELL REPORTEDLY WANTS $17 MILLION A YEAR”

“LE’VEON BELL WANTS TO BE PAID AS TOP RB AND NO 2 WR”

“LE’VEON BELL WANTS $17 MILLION A YEAR FROM STEELERS LIKE ANTONIO BROWN”

 

I wish I could say I laughed when I saw these. I really do.

I didn’t.

You see, reader from under the rock, Le’Veon Bell has an ego.

That’s fine. He’s Le’Veon Bell. He’s really good at running back.

However, I’m talking about Le’Veon Bell’s ego. Le’Veon Bell’s ego is huge. Le’Veon Bell has been surrounded by people who tell him he’s God’s gift to the world.

This is also fine. Parents tell this to their children every day before they send them off to school, usually to try to give them a much-needed boost of confidence but ostensibly because they have no idea how to parent. They figure if they make them confident, everything will fall into place.

Bell is a product of what happens when this parenting technique goes horribly wrong. Le’Veon believes himself to be so talented that he rationalizes he should be paid as two different people, both a top running back and a two-spot receiver, but also believes he’s worth as much as the league’s best pass catcher, Antonio Brown. Now, reader under a rock, feel free to google Antonio Brown on YouTube to get to know the guy a little bit. I actually talked about him in my One Team, One Jersey series, where I talk about each football team and decided what jersey I would want from that team. (Insert shameless plug here).

Despite the fact that one more slip-up in the drug department could warrant a long-term suspension and Bell’s struggle to play a full 16-game spread, both of which are rather large red flags, Bell thinks he’s worth $17 million a year.

 

Rather than mock Bell for another couple paragraphs, I’m gonna give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s what any sportswriter or fan should do. Let’s take a look at the evidence and give the guy a fair trial, shall we?

Let’s take a look at salary cap figures, just to get an idea of how good Le’Veon thinks he is.

Prior to this offseason, the largest cap hit for any running back in the league was LeSean McCoy at 8.95. Even after all of the signings this spring, Jerick McKinnon’s 2018 cap hit is 10.5 after signing a four-year, $30 million deal to become the starting tailback of San Francisco. His AAV? 7.5. A reminder that Bell is asking for 17.

The highest AAV for a running back is 8.25. That number belongs to Devonta Freeman, who in August signed a five-year extension for $41.25.

A reminder: Bell wants an AAV of 17.

In 2018, only two backs will have an AAV of 8 or more: Freeman and standout LeSean McCoy. Add McKinnon and you get the only three who are making more than 7 per. Le’Veon Bell will play on the franchise tag and will make $14.5, meaning he’s making more than double the pay of almost every running back in professional football. If he had signed that extension, that five-year, $60 million offer, Bell would be making more than double what every running back in the league is making with the exception of the three above plus Leonard Fournette, Ezekiel Elliott and Lamar Miller. (Fournette and Elliott are still on their rookie deals.)

For context, learner under the rock, the running back market has not increased over the last few seasons. It is cemented in stone at this point that only the very best running backs see close to no depreciation once they hit 30. Backs touch the ball more than any player other than a quarterback and take a lot of punishment because of it. Due to that, most backs are out of the league once they near or surpass 30 years of age. Only the gridiron gods can keep their game together and even then, sometimes those generational talents begin to fade away.

This is why Bell wants paid so much. He knows what we all do: his career will end before most other athletes from his draft class because of the position he plays.

With that said, Bell wants double the next guy. His latest evaluation of $17 million AAV means he believes he’s worth double any back in the NFL. It takes an extraordinary amount of arrogance to make that claim, but it’s only arrogance if it’s not true. So let’s find out if it is.

 

In five seasons, Bell has amassed 5,336 yards rushing and 2,660 yards receiving for a net total of 7,996. He’s accomplished this in 62 games for a per game average of 128.96 yards, a statistic that Bell has paraded around a number of times to prove his worth. That 128.96 is one of the best numbers in NFL history, currently at the top of the list, though many, including me, doubt that number’s sustainability. Hall of Fame players have seen similar numbers in their early years before seeing their numbers teeter off on the back-end. The great Jim Brown is right behind Bell at 125.5 and not only did he play in a less organized era when football was still very rudimentary, Brown retired at 29. We never got to see his play diminish. Even Barry Sanders, who retired at 30, posted 118.9 in his career, an incredible achievement that hasn’t come close to being duplicated. The closest are Terrell Davis and Adrian Peterson, who posted 113.9 and 112 respectively.

It is hard for any analyst to look at the players on this list, all of the greats, and believe the argument that Bell is greater than all of them.

Let’s pretend for a moment he is. Let’s compare him to some of the other younger talents in the NFL.

Taking a look at a player’s first few years, the same as Bell’s career length at this juncture, should give us an idea of how comparable or incomparable he is.

 

Le’Veon Bell 62 games, 62 started 5,336/2,660/7,996/128.96/128.96 (rushing/receiving/total/yards per game/yards per game started)

Devonta Freeman 61 games, 43 started 3,248/1,582/4,830/79.18/112.33

LeSean McCoy 74 games, 60 started 5,473/2,127/7,600/102.73/126.66

Frank Gore 73 games, 60 started 5,561/1,841/7,402/101.40/123.37

 

Adrian Peterson 73 games, 66 started 6,752/1,170/7,922/108.52/120.03

LaDainian Tomlinson 79 games, 79 started 7,361/2,292/9,653/122.19/122.19

Edgerrin James 65 games, 65 started 6,172/2,019/8,191/126.02/126.02

 

If we look at three comparable players from his current era, we see Bell’s numbers are comparable to even someone like Frank Gore, who during his early years played in the garbage fire that was San Francisco. While Bell’s receiving numbers are higher than any player’s on this list, there have been players who have done more on the ground in recent years and some by a wide margin. An additional five to ten yards simply doesn’t make you worth double the next guy. It’s just basic economics.

I also compiled a list of three Hall of Famers (James should get in sooner rather than later) and you’ll see his numbers are comparable.

“Wait, how can even Devonta Freeman, who hasn’t done anything crazy special in his career, still be putting up numbers in the same ballpark as LT? And how did Frank Gore average a little under five yards less in his first five years than Le’Veon Bell?”

Honestly, it’s because the difference between a very good and great running back often aren’t chasms apart. While the game has evolved away from the run game, the best backs in the league can still get it done. Look no further than LeSean McCoy, who has made a great career into a possible Canton trip. Look no further than Edgerrin James, who put up Bell-level production while Peyton Manning was performing surgery on NFL defenses. Look no further than Frank Gore, who played with a new offensive coordinator literally every season and still put up Pro-Bowl level numbers.

Le’Veon Bell has been gifted a top-five offensive line, Hall of Fame quarterback and the best receiver in football.

Frank Gore played with Antonio Bryant and pre-resurrection Alex Smith.

Hell, if we take out Gore’s rookie year, when he started only one game and show just his second through fifth seasons, when he started every game he played in, his stat line looks like this:

Frank Gore 59 games, 59 started 4,953/1,700/6,653/112.76/112.76

112 yards per game behind the San Francisco 49ers line of the mid 2000’s is incredible value. A player of Bell’s talent is almost expected to mimic those numbers behind a great offensive line.

For transparency’s sake, what if we needle some of these stats down to make a more accurate sample size.

LeSean McCoy 58 games, 56 started 4856/1819/6,675/115.09/119.20

At 115 yards per game, McCoy was at a per game average slightly behind Barry Sanders, yet was only paid $8 million in AAV. Why is that? Let’s take a closer look.

 

McCoy, in 2017, put up 1,586 yards from scrimmage. That means McCoy was paid $4,886.51 per yard by cap hit. Not a bad pay-day.

Todd Gurley won Offensive Player of the Year last season, accruing 2,093 yards. Still on his rookie deal, that means Gurley was paid…$808.24 per yard?

This, lad under the rock, is called the salary cap.

You see, to make the playing field fair, the suits instituted a salary cap, meaning there was a limit put in place to what a team could spend on its players. This led to a more competitive board and to new philosophies regarding team building. One of those philosophies is not spending a bazillion dollars on one player.

When it became apparent how difficult it was to find an excellent passer, teams assigned higher value to that position, the same way that teams starting pouring money into the left tackle spot after Lawrence Taylor killed Joe Theismann. (You probably don’t get that reference. Sorry. Here’s a link.)

So when teams started to find their running backs slowing down and coupled that with the evolution of pass-happy offenses, executives, and therefore the market, determined the running back position was less valuable.

In the 2016 season, Aaron Rodgers piled a total of 4,797 yards during a year in which he was paid $12.6 million, which means $2,626.64 per yard. By cap hit? $4065.04. For those who struggle with math, $4,065 is less than $4,886. Don’t worry. Bell’s number figures to be a lot higher than that.

 

A base salary of $17 million in 2018 would put him sixth in the NFL in AAV behind Kirk Cousins’ new deal, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, DeMarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah. (It’s worth noting that Lawrence and Ansah are also playing on the franchise tag this upcoming season.)

Not only that, if Bell made $17 million in cash in 2018, that would put him one spot outside the top 25 highest-paid players in the NFL, a majority of which came from this most recent offseason. (If you don’t know, human under the rock, the offseason is when teams pay exorbitant prices to get players to join their team). McKinnon’s new signing will earn him $12 in 2018, good for 62nd in the league in total net earnings. To get to the next back, you have to scroll for half of your lifespan all the way down to 246, where LeSean McCoy’s $6.325 sits.

Which means, using our math skills, that Bell is looking to make nearly triple what LeSean McCoy is making despite averaging about ten more yards a game on a far better offensive unit.

I guess you have to ask yourself: Is ten more yards worth an additional $11 million?

No. No, it’s not.

Is it worth the additional $9 million in AAV Bell is looking for?

No. No, it’s not.

At 1,946 scrimmage yards last year at the figure Bell wants, he would have been paid $8,735.87 a yard by cap hit. Why would anyone pay nearly $9,000 a yard when they can get the same production for less than $5?

Yes, third-down yards carry more value. Yes, fourth-quarter yards carry more value. Sadly, I don’t have the resources to look at those numbers. Given the numbers at our disposal, is it possible Bell is worth that much more than the next guy?

No. No, it is not.

This isn’t rocket science, my new friend. It’s basic math.

It’s now come to my attention that you probably don’t understand that expression. My apologies. Will have to get to that later.

To make matters worse, Bell has picked up a shovel and started digging his own grave with social media, accusing fans and the media of painting him as a villain. It was one of the most tone-deaf uses of social media yet displayed in 2018. No one was bashing Bell’s performance. They were tortured by his unabated greed. As one media member commented, “Look down, Le’Veon. You’re the one holding the paintbrush.”

Le’Veon has not only made his tenure with the Steelers continuing beyond this season as improbable as a lottery winner, he’s also tarnished his reputation and image by decrying those who believe his numbers to be inaccurate, even if they are, factually, inaccurate. General annoyance with his antics has turned into the type of frustration a parent has when they’re forced to watch their child ignore their advice and run their head into a wall. I’m completely done with Le’Veon and so is much of this city. Annoyance has transformed to rage and now dissolved into complete apathy. I don’t care about Bell and I can’t wait when he’s off this roster.

I hope you’ve enjoyed escaping from under the rock, my new friend. The only one that’s still under there now is Le’Veon.

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One Team, One Jersey: Los Angeles Chargers

With the beginning of a new year comes the beginning of a new series. I’ve spent hundreds of hours (not an exaggeration) enthralled in game film sessions, reading player profiles, scrounging through stat sheets and scanning the histories of all the NFL franchises. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Welcome to One Team, One Jersey.

As a jersey collector and connoisseur, I am constantly expanding my repertoire and so I thought I should probably expand my search to all the teams of pro football. Buying every jersey I want would be too expensive though. Picking one for each team is reasonable and so became the idea that is One Team, One Jersey.

If you could only have one jersey from each NFL team, who would it be? There are a few ground rules:

The player you choose must have played for that team more than any other AND must have been on that team’s roster during the 2017 season.

Aside from that, it’s up to you what you prioritize: character, statistical production, championships, a combination of the three. Your call.

Who will you choose?

The 2004 quarterback class was one for the ages as franchise stalwarts Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger all went in the first round. (Poor J.P. Losman was also taken in the first round by the Bills.)

All three have aged well and Rivers has been no different. Over his 14-year NFL career, Rivers, along with Eli and Ben, has thrown for over 50,000 yards and 300 touchdowns, putting all three in the top ten of each category. All three have the chance to be Hall of Famers but there’s a notable difference between them: Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning have each won two Super Bowls. Philip Rivers hasn’t been to one.

That monkey has been on Rivers’ back for a long time and will be for the rest of his life. That’s what happens when you’re drafted alongside talented stars that also play your position. You will always be compared to them, no matter how unfair it is that you are judged by someone else’s merits rather than your own.

Roethlisberger is a probable HOFer for moments like the final drive in Super Bowl 43 or the back-to-back games he threw six touchdown passes or the multiple playoff wins he has. Eli is a possible HOFer for moments like the Tyree helmet catch that dethroned the undefeated Patriots. Rivers is unlikely to get into Canton because he doesn’t have that moment.

That’s not to say the guy isn’t a good player. He’s breached 4,000 yards nine times in his career and owns nearly every Charger passing record.

But it’s also difficult to overlook the 2006 season, when the then San Diego Chargers went 14-2 with Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson in the backfield and couldn’t win even one playoff game with home-field advantage. Also, Tomlinson won MVP and Offensive Player of the Year during that run, just as a friendly reminder.

It’s hard to overlook the Chargers falling short in the AFC Championship the following year to New England, although I do give Rivers a ton of credit (Rivers played the game with a torn ACL).

In the 2008 season, Rivers led the Bolts to their third consecutive AFC West title before dropping yet another contest in the divisional round, this time to the Steelers.

In 2009, after a 13-3 campaign, Rivers and San Diego left defeated in their first playoff game again, this time to the Mark Sanchez-led Jets.

Rivers has spent six of the last seven years on the couch come playoff time and don’t worry, the one game he did get to, he lost.

Look, I have nothing against Rivers. He’s a talented quarterback and still one of the better ones in the NFL. The Chargers haven’t made it to the playoffs solely because of Rivers. There are plenty of other factors at play.

The fact remains: 4-5 in the playoffs. Zero AFC Championship wins.

That just doesn’t scream Hall of Fame.

Is there a chance he gets in? Sure. He’s still been one of the most prolific passers of his generation, but he’s not Ben, Brady, Brees, Peyton, Rodgers or even Eli. He’s just not a good bet.

He’s still fun to watch. He’s still a gunslinger. He’s still elite. He’s just not tier one, top-of-the-game elite.

Neither is his number one receiver, Keenan Allen. After a strong rookie season (Fun fact: At the time, only five receivers in NFL history had more receiving yards their rookie year than Allen’s 1,046), Allen suffered a broken collarbone, lacerated kidney and torn ACL in back-to-back-to-back years. He performed great this past campaign, winning Comeback Player of the Year. He’s a constant target for Rivers who will pad his stat sheet with receptions (one of five players with over 100 catches last year), run a full route tree (His 13.7 ypc was in the upper third for receivers) and has the vision to make plays in the open field (His 458 yards after catch ranked him fifth among wideouts).

Remove this past year and the game to game consistency that you look for number one receivers to produce isn’t there. He’s a capable route runner but ran a 4.7 at the combine. He was recovering from a knee sprain that year and admitted he wasn’t 100% for Indy, but ran a 4.56 dash his senior year of high school, which isn’t out of this world speed for a receiver. While he’s 6’2″ and can make vertical plays, he doesn’t play an aggressive style like Demaryius or, more appropriately, like DeAndre Hopkins does. He prefers to out-finesse defenders than out-muscle them. He’s got the cut ability to do that.

He is athletic enough to torture defenses who don’t have either agile corners or experienced defenders (12 recs vs BUF, 11 vs DAL, 10 vs CLE). When he has to play top-end corners, such as Aqib Talib in division-foe Denver, he struggles to take over games the way we are used to seeing top end flights do. In two games against Denver this season, Allen compiled 5 catches for 35 yards and 3 for 41.

There are a lot of other factors at play. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time or funding needed to go over additional game tape and count his matchups against man versus zone and do even more stat-crunching than I’ve already done. You also have to consider the team’s game plan that week and the in-game situation at that moment.

Overall, Allen is a great receiver in fantasy football. He’s a reliable option for an experienced and still physically-gifted quarterback and is in a scheme that allows him a high volume of targets. For that reason alone, he can be counted on for five receptions a game and a solid yards after catch bonus on a week-to-week basis. As a receiver, Allen is an above average talent that has never seen his potential fully nurtured due to injury and it’s prevented him from joining the ranks of AB, Julio, Green and Odell.

Melvin Gordon, the stud from Wisconsin, still has the breakout speed that commands respect. Even now, defenses are still trying to force him to the inside and still he is able to make it work. You saw it in college, you saw it in 2016 and you saw it this past schedule. He hasn’t peaked yet though and I want to see what the next stage of his progression looks like before I buy in, which leaves me to discuss the player I just can’t pass up.

Antonio Gates is one of the best tight ends in NFL history and when you consider he never played a down of college football, well, that just speaks to the amount of athleticism this guy has. Imagine being so physically gifted that you could pick up something at the last possible second and be better than people who had been doing that thing for their whole lives. Everyone around you has spent countless hours perfecting their craft and you’ve made them look like boys among a behemoth who just learned the rules of the game. That’s frightening.

When you say the phrase “red zone threat,” I think Antonio Gates. Dude is too big and too strong. You could make the argument he was the one that started bringing basketball stars to the game of football.

He’s one of only ten players in NFL history to amass 100 touchdown catches and he’s currently 30th in receiving yards.

Melvin Ingram is a solid edge rusher. Joey Bosa is a technically-refined player that has some more hurdles to go through. Jason Verrett is a capable corner.

Antonio Gates? He’s a freak and worth my jersey spot for the Chargers.

My pick: Antonio Gates. My jersey: Home Blue.

 

Image result for antonio gates home jersey free use

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One Team, One Jersey: Denver Broncos

With the beginning of a new year comes the beginning of a new series. I’ve spent hundreds of hours (not an exaggeration) enthralled in game film sessions, reading player profiles, scrounging through stat sheets and scanning the histories of all the NFL franchises. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Welcome to One Team, One Jersey.

As a jersey collector and connoisseur, I am constantly expanding my repertoire and so I thought I should probably expand my search to all the teams of pro football. Buying every jersey I want would be too expensive though. Picking one for each team is reasonable and so became the idea that is One Team, One Jersey.

If you could only have one jersey from each NFL team, who would it be? There are a few ground rules:

The player you choose must have played for that team more than any other AND must have been on that team’s roster during the 2017 season.

Aside from that, it’s up to you what you prioritize: character, statistical production, championships, a combination of the three. Your call.

Who will you choose?

The Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl 50 is the obvious choice for this list. Texas A&M’s Von Miller is one of the elite pass rushers in the NFL. As we saw in that historic game, Miller has tremendous speed off the edge. In that spectacle, he was on another gear, it seemed. He could not be stopped. It was one of the most impressive postseason performances I’d ever seen. The game was in his hands and everyone else was just a piece in what seemed destined to happen.

Not to be cliché, but Miller was a man amongst boys. Carolina boasted what analysts were calling a supreme offense and the Denver defense, despite being excellent for much of the season, was not given much respect going into the game. That quickly changed. Cam Newton wasn’t just flustered. He was a man in a box for most of the game and Von Miller made the box, glued the box and supervised the box to make sure it stayed shut.

I started watching Super Bowls when I was 7. The event that was watching Tom Brady and the Patriots upset the 14-point favorite St. Louis Rams was the first one I got to witness. Since then, I’ve seen offensive studs take over games and I’ve witnessed defensive units save games but up until Super Bowl 50, I never saw a defensive player manipulate a contest to such an absurd extent. Von Miller seemed to have the game under lock and key. That’s not to say the game was out of reach for Carolina from the start, but as the game progressed, a simple fact became more and more apparent: Von Miller was too fast. Von Miller was more super than anyone else on that field and he was coming for his ring.

Following a surreal experience like that, Miller signed a long-term deal that handed him $70 million guaranteed, a deal he more than earned. In 2018, Miller would have had a cap hit of $22.4, the second-highest cap hit among defensive players (Suh had the third overall highest cap hit in the league at $26.1 before getting cut by the Dolphins) and the ninth-highest in the league (The Broncos and Miller agreed to restructure his contract and backload his deal, dropping his cap hit to a more manageable 9.7). He has the talent level to make even this mammoth deal look team friendly but he hasn’t shown it the last two years. The Broncos haven’t been the same since that Lombardi ceremony and Miller has been unable to make many highlight reel plays to take over games the way I’ve seen he can. That stutter in production leaves me a tad concerned with how much of an overall impact he can consistently make.

Still, Miller is a six-time Pro Bowler and has 83.5 sacks only seven years into his career. In the history of the NFL, only 32 players have 100 career sacks and Miller should join the exclusive list sooner rather than later.

Denver sports perhaps the best corner duo in the league in Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. Talib isn’t eligible for One Team, One Jersey, as he has played most of his career with Tampa Bay. He’s made a career of being a corner for hire and while certainly talented, off the field issues leave me distancing myself from him anyway. I have a hard time putting on a jersey of a man who found a way to accidentally shoot himself, among other things.

Chris Harris Jr. is the other half of the equation and is good enough to be a number one corner himself. For a span of over two seasons, Harris didn’t allow a touchdown. Talk about a shutdown corner. In my eyes, he’s one of the most underrated defensive players in the league. I don’t think people realize how good he is. A lot of that is the defensive bubble he’s in. As long as Denver sports a significant pass rush and employs Talib, people will overlook Chris Harris Jr. I’d gladly start him as a number one corner without any hesitation and maybe in the future we’ll get to see his resume expand to being “the guy” for an NFL franchise. Until then, Chris Harris Jr. is the best number two corner in professional football. (Talib was traded to the Rams in free agency, meaning Harris Jr. will get his shot.)

Since we’re talking about the Broncos, we need to talk about Tim Tebow. Tebowmania took the world by storm in 2011, creating the Tebowing gesture and an incredibly loyal fan base. Was Tebow a great quarterback? No. Tebow’s throwing motion had been severely maligned by his baseball career. His ability to read defenses was average at best. Compared to the other guys on the field, Tebow sometimes looked out of place, like a regular joe trying to hold it together next to professionals.

There was some otherworldly element that seemed to surround him though, something that couldn’t be quantified by science or rationalized by statistics. He could be dreadful for most of the game but when the game came down to the wire, something magical would happen. You never felt out of it with Tebow. He was an underdog despite two college championships and a Heisman at Florida. He was doubted despite his passion, criticized without attention paid to his will to win. He had an aura about him that simply made him mesmerizing, almost magnetic to the sport’s followers. Even those who weren’t devoted to the sport of football began to follow the quest of Tebow.

It was so easy to buy in, to root for the underdog. Tebow had six fourth quarter comebacks that year. Despite all the evidence that told you it shouldn’t, you knew it was gonna happen again. You could feel the momentum swing and man, was it strong.

Tebow wasn’t a prima donna, nor was he an exceptional athlete, but he was insanely entertaining to watch without ever doing anything uncharacteristic to become so. It was the way he kept fighting on. Tebow showed the world, more than anything, how far will and heart can get you. Evidently, pretty far.

Every general manager in America would love someone who played an entire game like Tebow played in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t the clutch gene. I still don’t know what it was. It was a mystical force, some element we haven’t discovered perhaps. All the cards just seemed to fall his way.

Truthfully, despite all of the talent still on Denver’s roster, I’d rather have a Tebow jersey than any other, even Von Miller. In addition to his performance on the field, Tebow is a helluva role model, which pretty much seals the deal for me. It would be a rare jersey that would carry nostalgia into my collection.

However, Tebow doesn’t meet the rules so we’re gonna have to pick someone else.

Going off the feel-good story angle, Demaryius Thomas.

Thomas’ mother and grandmother were sent to prison for crack distribution when he was a kid. He was dealt a bad hand. He overcame it. I admire that.

Demaryius Thomas was one of the key contributors to the highest-scoring offense in NFL history and has demonstrated his skillset in the years following that record year. After beginning his career at Georgia Tech, who ran the triple option and never fully realized the talent they had on the outside, Thomas’ first two seasons were beset by injuries. Then Peyton came to town and Demaryius reached his final form. While Demaryius isn’t in the conversation for top five receivers in the NFL, he is an all-around receiver who can play physical at the line or play off the corner and go speed for speed. In that way, Georgia Tech helped mold Thomas’ playing style.

As explosive a player as Von Miller is, he was suspended for violating the substance abuse policy in 2013 for reportedly trying to cheat a drug test. Especially since that was at the beginning of his career, that’s always stuck with me and put a stain on his performance, at least for me. That’s why I’m going Demaryius.

My pick: Demaryius Thomas. My jersey: Bronco Orange.

Image result for demaryius thomas orange jersey free use

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One Team, One Jersey: Baltimore Ravens

With the beginning of a new year comes the beginning of a new series. I’ve spent hundreds of hours (not an exaggeration) enthralled in game film sessions, reading player profiles, scrounging through stat sheets and scanning the histories of all the NFL franchises. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Welcome to One Team, One Jersey.

As a jersey collector and connoisseur, I am constantly expanding my repertoire and so I thought I should probably expand my search to all the teams of pro football. Buying every jersey I want would be too expensive though. Picking one for each team is reasonable and so became the idea that is One Team, One Jersey.

If you could only have one jersey from each NFL team, who would it be? There are a few ground rules:

The player you choose must have played for that team more than any other AND must have been on that team’s roster during the 2017 season.

Aside from that, it’s up to you what you prioritize: character, statistical production, championships, a combination of the three. Your call.

Who will you choose?

The NFL was introduced to the Baltimore Ravens in 1996 when Art Modell decided to move the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore. All Browns records and their history was left behind in Cleveland and the Ravens were considered an expansion team. With that categorization, the Ravens became one of the most successful expansion teams in sports history. Their first ever draft picks were left tackle Jonathan Ogden and linebacker Ray Lewis. The two Hall of Famers had 24 Pro Bowl seasons combined, giving Baltimore the framework from the beginning of a contender.

Since the Ravens’ induction into the NFL, Baltimore has won two Super Bowls and 15 playoff games. It takes some expansions teams five or six years just to be competitive. Baltimore has achieved these heights in 22 seasons. They may be one of the younger franchises in the league, but Baltimore has come to play more often than not and their youth has put a chip on the team’s shoulder, the type of motor that attracts fans.

It was difficult to pick a jersey for Cincinnati and Cleveland. There are plenty of options in the stronghold of Maryland.

For example, it would be unfair to make this list and not include Marshall Yanda, who made six consecutive Pro Bowls beginning in 2011. He was named the top guard by Pro Football Focus in ’14, ’15 and ’16. If that doesn’t demonstrate how dominate he’s been in the trenches, I’m not sure what does.

The team is lacking on offense, but a 2008 first-rounder from Delaware is still behind center. Joe Flacco had one of the greatest playoff runs in NFL history in 2012, tying Montana’s record with 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions in the same postseason. He’s played in some rather large postseason contests. He’s gathered playoff victories on the road.

The argument goes, and I believe it to be the right one, that many of those playoff victories came on the back of an elite defense, not on the shoulder of a quarterback named Joe. He’s made big throws in big moments, but the Ravens did not beat the Patriots because Flacco outdueled Brady.

In his ten-year career, Flacco has thrown for 25 touchdowns only twice and broached the 4,000 yard plateau once. He’s the best quarterback Baltimore has ever had and that earns him sentimentality points and a spot in Ravens lore, but in actuality, he was never elite, nor extraordinary. Not the type of player you buy a jersey for.

For years, he’s been one of the game’s most overrated signal callers and one historic postseason doesn’t diminish that argument the same way Josh Gordon leading the league in receiving yards doesn’t mean he’s an otherworldly talent. Success is temporary and professional athletes are expected to reach it from time to time. Those who reach it regularly are elite and they reach these heights on their own merits. Brady never won MVPs because his defense was top-five. Peyton didn’t set passing records because Ray Lewis was phenomenal at playing middle linebacker. Joe Flacco isn’t in the same realm as these two legends and you can argue it if you want, but he’s not. He’s had a passer rating above 90 twice. He’s serviceable for the most part, although these past three seasons have been difficult to watch considering his Zeppelin of a contract. Ten years after his career is over, Ravens fans will remember the name with pride but football fans will remember the Mile High Miracle and the 2012 Super Bowl and think of that one great year he had. There’s a reason that’s the case.

Besides, Baltimore has always been known for its staunch defense and so it only feels right to pick a player on that side of the field.

Brandon Williams is quite the presence at defensive tackle.

CJ Mosley has proven to be a fine successor to new HOFer Ray Lewis in the middle, making three Pro Bowl rosters.

Jimmy Smith has been close to a top-ten corner for a majority of his career. He’s not quite a tier one star, but is a reliable player that can go one-v-one against most receivers.

There’s still one big name we haven’t mentioned, one of the most dominant edge rushers of the last 20 years.

There were three elite players on the Ravens’ defenses of the 2000s: Ed Reed, Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs. In my eyes, Suggs should be in the Hall. He played with a ferocity and aggression that personified the Ravens grit and tenacity and plays with that same motor today.

Suggs is one of only 37 players to win Defensive Player of the Year, a true honor for a terrorizing player. He also holds the Ravens franchise records for sacks (125.5) and forced fumbles (29) by wide margins. Those 125.5 sacks put him 17th on the all-time quarterback takedown list.

He was unanimously named Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2003 after setting a franchise rookie record with 12 sacks. He’s a seven-time Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl champion.

Routinely voted as one of the most hated players in the NFL, Suggs also carries the charisma of a performer, often putting opponents on edge with sack dances. Maybe he’s dirty, maybe he’s passionate. Maybe he just shows no mercy. Whatever it is, ain’t no one ever doubt his effort or his compete level. No one looks forward to playing that guy. That hostility, that grit, personifies the Ravens.

My pick: Terrell Suggs. My jersey: Home Purple.

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One Team, One Jersey: Cincinnati Bengals

With the beginning of a new year comes the beginning of a new series. I’ve spent hundreds of hours (not an exaggeration) enthralled in game film sessions, reading player profiles, scrounging through stat sheets and scanning the histories of all the NFL franchises. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Welcome to One Team, One Jersey.

As a jersey collector and connoisseur, I am constantly expanding my repertoire and so I thought I should probably expand my search to all the teams of pro football. Buying every jersey I want would be too expensive though. Picking one for each team is reasonable and so became the idea that is One Team, One Jersey.

If you could only have one jersey from each NFL team, who would it be? There are a few ground rules:

The player you choose must have played for that team more than any other AND must have been on that team’s roster during the 2017 season.

Aside from that, it’s up to you what you prioritize: character, statistical production, championships, a combination of the three. Your call.

Who will you choose?

The Cincinnati Bengals have been on the struggle train for a while now, with seemingly no end in sight. A roster that at times has shown promise has been unable to pop out a playoff win. The team hasn’t won one of those since 1990, stifled by a host of draft busts such as Ki-Jana Carter and Akili Smith. With Marvin Lewis at the head for another few years fresh off a contract extension, that doesn’t look to change. A culture has been created in Cincinnati for dirty play, from notable players such as Vontaze Burfict, quite possibly the league’s dirtiest player, and Adam Jones. That culture cost them a playoff win in 2015, one of the weirdest endings to a football game you’ll ever see. With the game all but over, running back Jeremy Hill got stripped by young talent Ryan Shazier, giving Pittsburgh another chance. Vontaze Burfict went headhunting in the most crucial moment of the contest and Adam Jones just couldn’t help himself when it came to doing something stupid.

The Bengals have only seemed to embrace those with character issues by drafting Josh Shaw, who did this, and Joe Mixon, who did this. This is not to say the Bengals are the only team to do this. Plenty of teams have decided to give players with flawed histories a second chance, but they have done little to prevent this aggressive mindset from festering.

You can make an argument that Andy Dalton, the Red Rifle, is a jersey worth having, but the TCU product has yet to win a playoff game. He has made a career of chucking 50-50 balls to one A.J. Green and there are rumors Cincinnati may let him test free agency. If I buy a jersey, I want it to be one that will stay relevant and I don’t see Dalton staying relevant in Cincy or anywhere for that matter. He’s barely stayed relevant during his time there. He’s had a QBR over 60 once in his seven-year career and is coming off his worst campaign since his rookie season, completing a slice under 60 percent of his passes. In fact, you can make the argument the less you use him, the better he plays. In his best statistical season, he threw for only 3200 yards in 13 games. He had 386 attempts in those games, an average of about 30 per. The more he throws, the worse he performs. He’s not a play caller that can take over a game, which is what you look for your quarterback to do. I’ll pass on this misfire.

I’m sure someone out there wants to see Tyler Eifert’s name on this list, but the Notre Dame star has dimmed quite a bit in recent years. Coming off his third back surgery, his career highlights are likely behind him and the time when he was in the conversation as one of the best tight ends in football has passed. He had 13 touchdowns in 2015, quite an accomplishment for a tight end, but has played in only ten games since. In total, he has missed about two and half seasons worth of time because of injuries.

One of the best defensive lineman in the league, Geno Atkins has big moment potential. He has the impact of a game-changer. He has a high motor, a bull rush than can overpower a lineman of any caliber and a swim that can finesse nearly any double team. He’s also one of the best values you can find on the defensive line at a $9.5 million cap hit. Cincinnati grabbed him in the 2010 draft in the fourth round out of Georgia. He was the 13th defensive tackle taken. To get a player with the ceiling he has at that round is a steal for a franchise. He’s already set a franchise record in sacks with 12.5 (2012) and has had at least nine sacks in each of the past three seasons. He’s the player to fear on that defense.

But Atkins isn’t the only Georgia stud on the Bengals. One Adriel Jeremiah Green, drafted with the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft, began his career with five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and has yet to miss a Pro Bowl since coming into the league and this despite a lingering injury history.

And look, maybe they should have taken Julio Jones, who wasn’t taken until the sixth pick that year, but A.J. Green might be the third best receiver in the game. He’s got the hands and leap made for the deep ball and no matter the coverage, A.J. Green always seems to be a safe bet. He has excellent sideline awareness and the type of vertical presence one associates with Calvin Johnson. Goal line fades were made for athletes like Green, someone who can simply outmuscle you and go over top of you, mano-a-mano. Green also has speed that defenses have to respect (recorded a 4.47 at the combine). Only making it more impressive is that Cincinnati has never given Green a solid number two. Marvin Jones hadn’t yet come into his peak when Cincy let him walk and just when they found a talent in Mohammed Sanu, who showed the potential of a one when Green missed time, Cincy let him go, too. The lack of weapons on offense has hurt this team and if it weren’t for Mr. Green, they’d have been bottom feeders long before now. Where A.J. goes, the team goes.

It’s possible Green might be on his way out, too. 2018 is the final year of his four-year, $60 million extension and he’ll be 29, but it’s also true that he’s been one of the most dominant players at his position for five plus years now. To be honest, Cincinnati doesn’t have much else going for them.

My pick: A.J. Green. My jersey: Home Black.

Image result for aj green home jersey free use

 

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Tim Sports Report for 2016 NFL Week 1

Top 5

  1. WR A.J. Green 12 receptions for 180 yards, TD vs. NYJ

2. RB DeAngelo Williams 26 carries for 143 yards, 2 TDs, 6 receptions for 28 yards vs. WAS

Becomes oldest RB (33) with 100 rushing yards and 2 rushing TDs in a game since Jerome Bettis in 2005.

3. RB Spencer Ware 11 carries for 70 yards, TD, 7 receptions for 129 yards vs. SD

4. RB C.J. Anderson 20 carries for 92 yards, TD, 4 receptions for 47 yards, TD vs. CAR

5. QB Drew Brees 28/42 for 423 yards, 4 TDs, Fmb, 131.3 passer rating vs. OAK

Worst of the Worst

5. Terrance Williams blows it, choosing to stay in the field of play rather than get out-of-bounds and stop the clock, essentially losing Dallas the game singlehandedly.

4. Chargers blow 24-3 lead to Chiefs.

3. Redskins put Josh Norman on the opposite side of Antonio Brown, let Brown rip them for 8 receptions for 126 yards, 2 TDs. There’s no logical explanation for this.

2. Cam headhunting. I didn’t get to watch all of the NFL opener but I saw all the hits by Friday. Once again, the NFL demonstrates a lack of empathy.

  1. Cardinals fail to beat Patriots without Brady AND Gronk AND at home

Steelers Recap

The Steelers looked sluggish early but Ben began to connect with his younger stars and the defense showed up, surrendering only three third down conversions in the contest. Meanwhile, DeAngelo Williams had one of the best performances of the week, once again defying time and making the argument that Pittsburgh doesn’t need LeVeon Bell’s irresponsibility, knee injuries and salary cap hit. The offensive line again made the debate that it deserves top-ten praise and Antonio Brown once again proved he can’t be ignored. At the end of the game, it was more of the same.

The Bengals come to Heinz Field on Sunday. After surrendering seven sacks on Sunday against the Jets and failing to get the run game going, Dalton was forced to air it out to Green, who proved to be Cincinnati’s savior and the week’s greatest performer, buying real estate on Revis Island. It’s likely Green will have another big day against Pittsburgh but if the Steelers are able to cancel everything else the Bengals have going on offense, it’s likely the Steelers offense will be able to outscore them. I’ll take Pittsburgh at home.

Game of the Week: Bengals @ Steelers

All of this to say, it’s my game of the week. I had the Panthers-Broncos game pegged for week one and I doubt this AFC North battle will disappoint.

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How the Golden State Warriors Became the Most Marketable Team in Professional Sports

The Golden State Warriors were an afterthought, a non-story. From 1977 to 1985, the Warriors didn’t make the playoffs. From 1994 to 2005, Golden State didn’t even come close to a winning record as they became the basement manager of the Western Conference. The days of Rick Barry, Jamaal Wilkes and Nate Thurmond were long gone. Their huge upset of the highly favored Washington Bullets in the championship series in 1975 was a fairy tale that Golden State fans would tell their children before they went to sleep. The Warriors were a dusty, blemished medal lost in the pile of what-ifs and has-beens you could find in your local antique store. During owner Chris Cohan’s 16-year tenure at the helm, Golden State made the playoffs once and broke the .500 barrier twice. When Silicon Valley icon Joe Lacob and his investors purchased the Warriors from Cohan for what was then a record $450 million, experts were scratching their heads. As Nick Swinmurn, the founder of Zappos, described in Bruce Schoenfield’s New York Times piece, the Golden State Warriors were “the little engine that couldn’t.”

What Lacob, now the majority owner of the Warriors, has done is brought the franchise not only stability, an attribute every franchise strives to reach, but the ability to continually adapt itself to both its sport and its fan base.

There is more discussion about the Golden State Warriors right now then there is about any team in professional sports and not just because the NFL season concluded in February. Even during Carolina’s impressive Super Bowl run and the emergence of Denver’s suffocating defense, the world’s spotlight was on Golden State. The Washington Capitals this year have had one of the most dominant regular seasons in NHL history, amassing 116 points and 55 wins, a total that could reach 59 by season’s end, putting them just three games back of the all-time record of 62 set by the 1995-1996 Detroit Red Wings (The Capitals ended the year with 56 wins and 120 points). They, too, have gone almost completely unnoticed.

The Golden State Warriors have overshadowed every team in sports. Philip Rossman-Reich put it best when he said Golden State holds “an unmistakable allure that keeps people and the media tuning in in a way that has not been seen in the NBA for some time. No one puts on a show quite like the Golden State Warriors.”

It’s not just the show the team puts on, but how they put it on. Jerry Brewer of the Washington Post said, “The norm is for victory hogs to inspire a level of envy that seeps into dislike. But hate Golden State? What? do you hate dessert, sunshine and the laughter of children, too?”

Rossman-Reich echoed this sentiment, saying, “The Warriors have their detractors, but the narrative with them seems to be one of ‘Why don’t you appreciate this team more? Why are you hating?’ rather than ‘This is jut the way the NBA goes and the way the culture is now.'”

That’s the frame the media has given Golden State. The Warriors are well-liked because there’s so little not to like. As Nicolas Dawidoff of The New Yorker claims, “But the defending NBA champions are the sport’s best and most entertaining team not because of a single player but because they have an intricate approach to basketball that’s as pleasing to old-school coaching purists as it is to people fitted out in new blue-and-gold Curry shirts.”

Stephen Curry is the team’s best player and one of the most marketable players in professional sports right now. He leads the league in jersey sales, further promoting a brand that’s so fresh and new it feels like it was created in a cauldron full of athletic prowess, statistical perfection and revolutionary ideology. Tradition establishes branding, but what tradition did Golden State have the last 20 years aside from their historical record of losing? None, so Golden State has done the only thing they could do: create their own.

There are some who will call the Golden State Warriors a bandwagon team because of the increased fan base and perhaps they are, but it’s hard to argue a team that wiped the slate clean and formed not only a team of extraordinary athletes but one of sports’ best marketing campaigns and branding accomplishments aren’t worth admiring.

Lacob has put together the preeminent team of professional sports, a team that astounds not just in its play but in its selflessness. Earlier this year, Draymond Green said that the Warriors nearly lost a contest “due to my selfish unselfishness” in his pursuit of a triple double. That is a quote that, if said before, has not been said in a long time and one can imagine won’t be said again for years. In few situations has a player ever been so selfless that he viewed it as a negative. Green’s quote says something not just about himself as a player but about the team as a whole, that they sometimes are so driven for the perfect shot and to orient their teammates into the scheme of things that they sometimes overthink.

As rare a quote as it might be, the idea that such a quote could come from someone donning a Warriors uniform shouldn’t surprise anyone. As Marty Fukuda of Entrepreneur pointed out, not only is the team known for its high-character team members, the Warriors have a bias towards homegrown talent. They have grown the core of their team through the draft and have avoided the hassles and endless discussions over free agent signings. The Warriors have developed their assets and promoted from within, giving players the incentive to continue to put forth their best.

Their crisp ball-movement has led to a strong team philosophy, pushing the brand to the forefront. As NBA legends continue to doubt their performance and claim it is a a result of the defenses in today’s game, the Warriors continue to set records and reach yet another echelon of performance. Robert O’Connell of The Atlantic wrote, “He (Curry) and the graceful, jump-shooting Warriors diverge from the brawny historical models of great players and teams, and there’s the sense among some in the sport’s establishment that they have not so much mastered the game as solved it, bringing about a basketball revolution that is not wholly welcome.”

Even Phil Jackson, one of the best coaches of all time, continues to question how sustainable the Golden State movement is. Despite the fear that some hold about what Golden State is doing to the sport of basketball, O’Connell commented, “That perspective makes enough sense on a radio show or in an article. Turn on the Warriors, though, and your skepticism get tested…A neat little aesthetic trick of the Warriors’ marksmanship is that, no matter what the statistics teach you to expect, the shots still look daunting…In the middle of all this, Curry doesn’t seem anything like an avatar of basketball’s decay.”

Visionaries shape the industry and right now, the Golden State Warriors are a franchise of visionaries.

The NFL might be the most effective sports league at getting their product front and center, but the Warriors have proven they’re the most effective franchise. The Golden State Warriors, despite being relevant for only a few years now, have one of the largest Twitter followings in the NBA behind only a handful of long-tenured and big market franchises: the Lakers, Celtics, Bulls and Heat. The amount of coverage and exposure this team has gotten this season is hard to quantify. During Golden State’s long vacation in the basement of the NBA, Golden State might have had to pull teeth to get someone to run a news release. Now, publications can’t get enough of them. Brewer has called the Warriors “appointment television” and it’s hard to disagree with that. Golden State is drawing the fan base of not just the NBA, but sports fans in general. The revenue streams that the Warriors have coming to them in the future are going to be the biggest in the sport. The media rights to broadcast Warriors’ games will climb exponentially, as will naming rights and sponsorships in the coming years. For now, the club’s merchandising is writing the paychecks. With the product that the Warriors are putting on the court, setting historic marks at every turn and as Dawidoff says, “no high-school softball team displays more happiness than the Warriors,” it’s hard to see that hype dying off. They might be the most entertaining franchise in sports for the manner in which they play the game as much as the attitude they bring with them. Rossman-Reich commented, “they are just an unreal team laying waste to the NBA record books at will. And no matter who you are cheering for, they give you your money’s worth every time in their dominance.”

He acknowledges there’s something special about this team and that fans attend not just for how legendary this team is becoming, but for the entertainment that pairs with that. Andy Liu of Golden State of Mind agrees, saying, “out in the open, on the open court that the Warriors completely dominate and destroy opponents on, the Warriors shimmy, celebrate, smile and play the game of basketball the way five-year-olds do: for fun.” Nothing makes a ticket price look more reasonable than a team who desolates opponents and portrays the joy of a five-year-old. With all the questions this team has answered over the last couple of months, one of the most meaningful ones might be who doesn’t want to watch the Warriors? Those who don’t must hate dessert, sunshine and the laughter of children, too.

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Tim Sports Report for 2015 NFL Week 5

Top 5

  1. Cincinnati vs. Seattle game

2. QB Andy Dalton 30/44 for 331 yards, 2 TDs, INT, 95.9 passer rating, 7 rushes for 18 yards, TD vs. SEA

3. RB Thomas Rawls 23 for 169 yards, TD vs. CIN

4. RB Doug Martin 24 carries for 123 yards, 2 TDs, 3 receptions for 35 yards, TD vs. JAC

5. RB Devonta Freeman 27 carries for 153 yards, TD vs. WAS

Worst of the Worst

5. QB Matt Ryan 24/42 for 254 yards, 2 INTs, Fmb, 55.1 passer rating vs. WAS

4. QB Matt Stafford 20/32 for 188 yards, TD, 3 INTs, 50.0 passer rating vs. ARI

3. Seahawks blow 17-point 4th quarter lead vs. CIN. According to Trey Wingo, teams had lost 427 straight games when down at least 17 in the fourth quarter.

2. QB Peyton Manning 22/35 for 266 yards, 2 INTs, 62.3 passer rating vs. OAK

  1. QB Nick Foles 11/30 for 141 yards, TD, 4 INTs, 23.7 passer rating vs. GB

Steelers Recap

The Steelers vs. Chargers game showed us one thing: Le’Veon Bell is the man. Yes, it showed us that Michael Vick needs to retire, that the Steelers offense is nowhere close to the same without Ben and that the defense has been great when all’s said and done, but when you need someone to turn to, Bell should be the go-to guy. A huge win over one of the better quarterbacks in the league, although a depleted Chargers o-line helped a lot.

Game of the Week: Panthers @ Seahawks

This is the game proved which team was for real.

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2015-2016 NFL Power Rankings: Week 9

1. Patriots (+0)

Pats clean up the Redskins, continue to dominate.

2. Panthers (+2)

Big wins over Seattle and Green Bay propel Carolina to the two-spot.

3. Bengals (+0)

Playing Cleveland gives any team an opportunity to get back on track.

4. Broncos (-2)

Denver’s streak comes to an end against Indianapolis, who had just gotten a new offensive coordinator. Wow.

5. Packers (+1)

A nice comeback attempt at the end wasn’t enough but Green Bay is struggling this year and is in danger of losing their control of the NFC North.

6. Jets (-1)

Jets haven’t looked like themselves for two straight contests.

7. Vikings (+0)

Vikings pass up St. Louis. Hopefully Bridgewater can return next week.

8. Rams (+0)

Todd Gurley can’t do everything. This team doesn’t have much offense.

9. Cardinals (+0)

Bye. Arizona needs to come out scoring next week against division-rival Seattle.

10. Bills (+3)

Now that Buffalo is healthy, let’s see what they can really do.

11. Raiders (-1)

Raiders are still a playoff contender, but I don’t think they can afford to get in shootouts with teams like they did this week with the Steelers.

12. Steelers (+0)

Steelers beat the Raiders in a shootout. Shame they couldn’t have won last week against Cincinnati. That game was theirs.

13. Giants (+1)

Giants with an easy win over Tampa Bay. Up next, a Super Bowl rematch with New England. I’ve pegged it as my game of the week.

14. Eagles (+3)

Philly’s an average team right now. Let’s see if it lasts.

15. Seahawks (+0)

Bye. Can Seattle turn things around?

16. Chiefs (+0)

Bye. Despite the absence of Jamaal Charles, the team remains in the playoff hunt.

17. Falcons (-6)

After an impressive 5-0, Atlanta has lost three of four and against poor opponents, too. The season is slipping away.

18. Colts (+1)

Who would have thought Indianapolis would be the team to end Denver’s streak? With that said, I’m not giving the Colts too much credit just yet. Let’s see if it was another fluke like the Patriots’ game.

19. Browns (-1)

That’s four losses in a row for Cleveland.

20. Ravens (+0)

Bye. Let’s see how the Ravens return.

21. Redskins (+0)

Lose to the Patriots, but a 27-10 score isn’t a blowout.

22. Dolphins (+1)

Maybe all the Miami fans will calm down again and welcome reality back after getting dismantled by a healthy Buffalo squad.

23. Cowboys (-1)

Just keep on losing Dallas. I’m loving every second of it.

24. Jaguars (+2)

A narrow loss against the Jets deserves some credit.

25. Chargers (-1)

San Diego has been a complete disappointment this year.

26. Titans (+2)

Titans are still one of the worst teams in the league but the defense has been better this year and Mariota has showed some promise.

27. Saints (-2)

The Saints still have no defense. Brees vs the world isn’t a good team philosophy.

28. Bears (+2)

The Bears beat a bad team, but they’ve surprised us before. Do they still have some tricks up their sleeves?

29. Texans (+0)

Bye. Somehow, they’re still in the playoff hunt.

30. 49ers (+1)

They beat Atlanta with Gabbert. That’s incredible and pitiful if you’re a Falcons fan.

31. Buccaneers (-4)

The choking continues.

32. Lions (+0)

Bye. A new offensive coordinator and a new front office. How does Detroit return to the field?

Biggest Climb: Bills, Eagles (+3)

Biggest Fall: Falcons (-6)

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