Mike Freeman's 10-Point Stance: Eddie George's Incredible 2nd Act

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterNovember 4, 2015

In this Jan. 16, 2015, photo, former Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George poses for photos at an urban improvement project designed and constructed by his landscape and design company, The Edge, in Nashville, Tenn. George is one of many pros who become entrepreneurs when their playing days are over. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

1. The incredible Eddie George

Over the past few years, the stories that have come out about former NFL players have involved sadness, tragedy and at times flat-out insanity. Then there is the incredible story of Eddie George.

What George is about to do is unprecedented. NFL players have been actors before—Jim Brown was Hollywood's first black action hero—but George is taking it to a new level. He is about to act on Broadway.

It's a remarkable new chapter for one of the nastiest and most talented runners I ever covered. He's gone from winning a Heisman Trophy at Ohio State to playing in a Super Bowl to now landing one of the premier roles on Broadway. Set against so much dark news about the NFL, it's a ray of light.

I've known George for some time, and his success in his post-NFL life is no surprise. He was always preparing for life after football. He even recently got his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern.

But George's passion is acting. He recently played Julius Caesar and Othello at the Nashville Shakespeare Festival.

Now, beginning January 11, 2016, George will be appearing in Broadway's Chicago. He'll be playing Billy Flynn. That's no bit role. It's the role Richard Gere played in the movie. It's the lead.

How did it happen? Long story short, he went for an audition in New York and did well.

"I didn't think I got the role," George told me, "because I didn't hear back about the audition for six months."

Then in August, he was told the job was his. Did George ever envision going from being a running back in the NFL to Broadway? He laughs. "Hell no," he said.

"The challenge of life after playing the game is different for everyone," George said. "I went through my struggles leaving the game. ... It hasn't been easy. There's been a lot of doubt and fear. But I didn't want to be a football player and fade to black."

George did the opposite. He isn't fading. He's going to Broadway.

 

2. George on the Titans

Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

George spent a large chunk of his football career in Tennessee. He still follows the team closely. I asked his thoughts on the organization firing Ken Whisenhunt on Tuesday.

"When you're 3-20, the proof is in the pudding," George said. "Observing from the outside looking in, the players weren't playing for their head coach. What he was saying just didn't resonate. There was a disconnect between the head coach and players."

 

3. Vernon Davis is a shell of himself, but...

Oct 22, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis (85) gestures on the field before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Vernon Davis hasn't been, well, Vernon Davis for years. He's become average, at best, both at catching passes and blocking. This wasn't always the case. There was a time when Davis was almost Gronk-like. He was talented and feared. No longer.

So why did the Broncos trade for him? The same reason the Colts signed someone like Frank Gore. It's a flier. It's a hope that Davis can recapture something, anything, and provide another weapon in that offense.

There's a small chance that could happen. Peyton Manning is obviously better than Colin Kaepernick (duh), and with the plethora of weapons the Broncos have, Davis might draw a little attention from defenses and allow Manning to capitalize. But that's still a long shot because Davis is no longer the Davis we once knew.

 

4. Teams will make a run at Jim Harbaugh

Tony Ding/Associated Press

I asked one general manager about Jim Harbaugh returning to the NFL. His response: "He's going to have at least six teams come after him. He'd be able to have any open job he wants." The GM didn't name the teams, but it's not hard to figure out who some of them will be.

Then, the general manager said some NFL teams have already reached out to Harbaugh's camp to see if he'd be available once the season ends. Those teams, the GM explained, weren't told just "no." They were basically told "no freaking way."

Harbaugh isn't going anywhere.

 

5. But watch Notre Dame's Brian Kelly

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 31: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish looks on prior to the game against the Temple Owls on October 31, 2015 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Brian Kelly's name is percolating again. I'm hearing it more and more. I've said this before, and Kelly has stayed, but his name is being mentioned to me a great deal as someone teams are strongly considering. More than I've ever heard his name before.

 

6. On how good Harbaugh was

One last note on Harbaugh. San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami summed up nicely with a series of tweets how great Harbaugh was as the 49ers head coach and how awful other coaches hired by the Yorks have been.

First:

Wow.

Second:

Then comes the kicker:

Those numbers just about say it all.

 

7. 7-0

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 01:  Quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers #12 (R) of the Green Bay Packers and Peyton Manning #18 (L) of the Denver Broncos talk while surrounded by media after the Broncos 29-10 win at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 1, 2015 i
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

For the first time in league history, there are four 7-0 teams: Bengals, Broncos, Panthers and Patriots.

What's going on?

Part of it is the sport overall has become top-heavy. There are a lot of great teams, a few good ones and the rest mediocre or bad.

The other part is we're seeing four teams that all have similar characteristics. All feature outstanding quarterback play. (Yes, Peyton Manning is struggling, but he's also one of the best ever and played well against the Packers.) And, most importantly, all have top-line, athletic, fast defenses, led by the Broncos. The Patriots' biggest reason is because of Tom Brady, but that defense is surprisingly good as well.

 

8. The Patriots and the undefeated season

Winslow Townson/Associated Press

When will New England lose a game?

Brady said Monday on Boston sports radio station WEEI that he isn't thinking about an undefeated season. He shouldn't be. But we can.

The Patriots' remaining schedule:

Week 9 vs. Washington at home: No way the Patriots lose to Kirk Cousins.

Week 10 at the Giants: The Giants are notorious Patriots killers, but this Giants team doesn't have the defense to do it.

Week 11 vs. Buffalo at home: I don't trust Rex Ryan.

Week 12 at Denver: The Broncos definitely have the defense. I just watched them hold one of the most explosive players ever, Aaron Rodgers, to fewer than 80 yards passing. The problem is even a young Peyton Manning had a hard time beating New England.

Week 13 vs. Philadelphia at home: No.

Week 14 at Houston: Double no.

Week 15 vs. Tennessee at home: Triple no.

Week 16 at the Jets: If Ryan Fitzpatrick is healthy enough, the Jets have a good shot. If it's Geno Smith quarterbacking, they might lose 50-0.

Week 17 at Miami: This will be a closer game than the first meeting, but the Dolphins aren't ready yet.

Obviously any team, even a great one like the Patriots, can lose any time. But when you look at that schedule, there are only two realistic trouble spots. The Broncos and maybe the Jets. That's it.

 

9. One more win for Manning and history

Nov 1, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) celebrates after the game against the Green Bay Packers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 29-10. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Another Peyton Manning victory means he will pass Brett Favre for most wins by an NFL quarterback. Favre shares the record at 186. So Manning will get the record.

But how long Manning will hold the record is the question. He could lose it to Tom Brady.

Brady is just 19 behind Manning, with 167. If Manning retires after this season (which seems highly likely), Brady could eclipse the win total in three years. And Brady will play at least three more years.

 

10. Chip Kelly still isn't going anywhere

Oct 19, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly before a game against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

I recently wrote that a person close to Chip Kelly told me he's not going back to college next season. That same person is saying he's not going to the Titans, as Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio speculated, either.

Kelly of course loves Marcus Mariota, but he has no interest in going to the Titans, I'm told.

The other problem with Kelly going to Tennessee is it would require compensation, and the Eagles would certainly demand at least a No. 1 draft pick and probably more. So Kelly, still, isn't going anywhere.

 

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.