As the NFL's season draws to a close there are a few things in the football world that I would love to touch on. So here are my "Ran-DUMB" football thoughts.
When Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy and the Green Bay Packers brain trust decided to hand the team over to Aaron Rodgers, and eventually trade Brett Favre to the Jets, many Packers fans were worried. How could they turn the franchise over to an unproven player when the man who helped resurrect the franchise still wants to play? Will Rodgers be any good? Will he be able to play out of Brett Favre's shadow?
The answer is an unequivocal yes, and not only an unequivocal yes, but he may have exceeded all the expectations many Packers fans had for him.
Rodgers became the first player in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in his first two seasons as a starting quarterback. He also has led an offense that had a 1,200 yard rusher (Ryan Grant) and two 1,000 yard receivers (Donald Driver and Greg Jennings) two straight years. Rodgers has shown the toughness and leadership needed to be a successful NFL signal caller.
Rodgers has become the brightest star of the NFL's young quarterbacks. He made the Pro Bowl in 2010 (and will start the game), but isn't indicative to the type player he is destined to become. Rodgers is more Joe Montana then Brett Favre. He shows that "Joe Cool" attitude in time of duress. Rodgers isn't the risk taking, gun slinger Favre is, he would rather use his "check downs" or throw the ball away then throw an interception.
The NFL has their standard bearers as quarterbacks in Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, with Tom Brady and Phillip Rivers right behind them. But Aaron Rodgers name will soon be mentioned with them, if it isn't already. The Green Bay Packers hierarchy made the right decision in letting Favre go and making Rodgers the Packers starter.
As a life long Packers fan I was upset Brett Favre went to the Vikings. To me that would be like Magic Johnson playing for the Celtics, Michael Jordan for the Pistons or Derek Jeter in a Red Sox uniform. But I didn't wish him harm nor do I hold any ill will towards Favre because after all, he was a free agent and had the desire to play (still).
I didn't like (and still don't like) the way he has handled his retirement(s), but who am I to judge? I think both the Packers and the Favre camp handled his exit from Green Bay equally wrong, but for both sides, it was time to move on (especially if he wanted to continue to play and the Packers wanted to have Rodgers as the starter).
Did it hurt to see him in a Viking uniform? Yes. But I understood that in pro sports players are a business inside a business and they have to do what they feel is best for them in the short and long-term. In pro sports there is no loyalty by the owners to players and vice versa. The fans of those teams are the only one with loyalty and expect players and teams to show that same loyalty to each other, and that rarely happens.
That being said, I will admit that I was glad to see Favre have a very good year and only wanted him to not play his best when he and the Vikings played against the Packers. Sorry, I can't forget 16 years of service to the team I am dedicated to, but I didn't want to see the Vikings have the team success they had either (my disdain for the Vikings runs deep, no matter who is on the team). I root for the name on the front of the jersey, not the back. So when they lost in the NFC title game it was bittersweet for me.
But it is that time of the year again, will he or won't he. The "Favre Watch" is in full swing (again).
I won't act like I know something nobody else knows, so I won't try to predict what Favre will do. But I do know for nearly 20 years of my life I have had the pleasure of watching one of the most exciting quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. A player that has shown both physical and mental toughness never seen before by a pro athlete.
If this was his last year, thanks Favre. Thanks for showing the fans one last time that the "good ole' boy from Kiln" can still sling the pigskin. If it is not, then I wish you a healthy off-season and personal success in 2010 (except when you play the Packers). But either way it goes, please, for the sake of NFL fans everywhere, MAKE A DECISION AND STICK WITH IT NO MATTER HOW DIFFICULT IT IS!
I am torn on the NFL Pro Bowl situation. I would rather see it in Hawaii, like it has been since 1980. I am not sure about when to play the game. I know I dislike the game being played the week before the Super Bowl leaving some of the best players out of the game (if the are playing in the Super Bowl). But I also disliked the game the week after since it was nothing more than a All-Star pre season game. I think that the NFL should make the Pro Bowl happen during the Hall Of Fame weekend. This way the greatest of the great are able to watch the past seasons greats.
The two best and most consistent teams in the NFC and AFC are in the Super Bowl. I have no issues with either of these teams playing for the Lombardi Trophy since they both had the best records in their respective conferences. I don't have my prediction ready yet (that will be in next weeks Ran-DUMB-Football-Thoughts) but I will share this thought. I fully expect it to be one of the highest scoring Super Bowls in history.
During the NFC title game, in the 4th quarter with well under a minute left an interesting thing happened, the Vikings called a timeout. When they came out to huddle they had 12 men in the huddle, Favre noticed it and tried to call another timeout (but NFL rules state teams can not do that) so they were penalized 5 yards and were out of Ryan Longwell's field goal range. So, on third down and 15 the Vikings were forced to try and throw for the 5 yards and we all know how that ended up.
While Favre threw the pick, and that was his fault, make no mistake about it, it was head coach Brad Childress fault the Vikings were even in that situation. As the head coach you are responsible for your personnel, and who goes where and when, and he failed at that during the Vikings biggest moment (arguably) in franchise history.
Childress is a desperate coach (just look at how he handled the Favre situation from the beginning). He parlayed his teams (and Favre's) success in the regular into a contract extension. He has (in critical games) choked. If I was Ziggy Wilf, the Vikings owner, I would keep a close eye on "Chilly". With names like Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher still unemployed ( both also have Super Bowl rings) and questions at the quarterback position, I would expect him to have somewhat of a hot seat if the Vikings take a step back in 2010.
The Oakland Raiders are a proud franchise with a great tradition. Al Davis is a major reason the Raiders have had so much success. He was a revolutionary, visionary and a maverick all at the same time. He was a keen talent evaluator and a person that loved to go against the NFL grain (and Pete Rozell).
But that was a long time ago.
Today the Raiders are one of the laughing stocks of the NFL and have a team full of team cancers and over paid players. I was told that current and former players (like Derrick Burgess) got into some of the younger, more talented players heads and have had a negative impact on them. It is also known in NFL circles that most of the players are in Oakland just to collect a check (JaMarcus Russell) and are unwilling to put forth any effort to become a "professional".
The drafting is another issue. While Mr. Davis has an eye for talent, I am afraid to say that until he hires a person to run the player personnel department and allows him to run the draft, the Raiders will be in also ran in the NFL.
I respect Al Davis and admire him for many reasons (football and non-football). I love his loyalty and commitment to excellence. He is not afraid to go against the grain to get what he wants, another Super Bowl championship. But until he gets rid of the "bad apples" and hires a capable person to run the player personnel department, I am afraid the Raiders fans are in for a long wait until their next Super Bowl win.
The NFL has been the best pro sport when it comes to labor relations but hard times maybe looming for the NFL. The owners elected to opt-out of the CBA making the NFL fans very nervous. The NFLPA says they will not accept a salary-cap or a rookie pay scale, two things that the owners want. The salary-cap is what makes the NFL great because it allows every team the opportunity to play on an "even field". The rookie pay scale would also be good because there is no way JaMarcus Russell should ever make more money than Tom Brady or Drew Brees before even playing an NFL game.
I have heard various things when it comes to the CBA, but most reports have the two sides far apart. I may be in the minority, but I think both sides know how important labor peace is and will get a deal done in the 11th hour.
The 2010 NFL Draft process is in full swing with the Shrine game and the Senior Bowl. NFL teams are looking for their next star and player that will hopefully lead them to a Super Bowl victory. So as one friend put it "the meat market is open for business"!
In the next two and a half months we will hear draft experts talk about verts, red flags and of course the players 40 times. But the thing that gets over looked every year (by non-NFL G.M.'s) is what a player does on film. As a "draftnik" I have learned that the film doesn't lie. What you see a player do on film is what they will most likely do while playing for your favorite team on Sundays (and Mondays).
We will see a player rise up the draft boards of Todd McShay, Mel Kiper Jr, Mike Mayock and others based on what they do at the combine. Those workout warriors will be drafted why to high and be way over paid. I will continue to do my Packers and NFL mock drafts up until the eve of the draft.
But the draft is a time for teams and their fans to have a new sense of hope. Teams that draft well are normally contending for a Super Bowl within a few years and the ones who don't are set back a few years. The NFL has made a change to the draft by making it a four-day event. Round 1 will take place in prime time on Thursday, April 22nd, rounds two and three Friday the 23rd, followed by Rounds 4-7 on Saturday, April 24.
In a week many of the nation's top high school football players will make their decision on where they will play football (and get their educations) for the next three or four years. Their choices will be televised on ESPN, ESPNU, ESPNews and FOXSports T.V. stations. We already have seen two high school all-star games where some of those top prospects made their decisions. Even though I watch them and follow them, it is a shame we (as sports fans) make these high school kids "stars" before they even play a down in college.
I am just as guilty as many others when it comes to following these young men and where they are being recruited. But the difference between me know and me ten years ago is I don't get mad when they don't choose the school I want them to go to. Instead I remind myself that these are 17, 18 and 19-year-old kids trying to make sure they have a bright future after their football days are over.
I also dislike that the NCAA makes these same kids honor their contracts, excuse me, letter of intent, when they don't make the college head coaches honor their own contracts. These same coaches come into living rooms across the country and make promises to the kids and their parents and then up and leave 10 months later for another college job. If a kid commits and the coach leaves, those same kids should be able to leave as well.
But this is the NCAA, the same people who make billions of dollars off the NCAA Mens Basketball tournament but feel a NCAA playoff wouldn't work. This is the same NCAA which was once led by the President of Indiana University who hired a basketball coach who broke NCAA rules more than once and when he did it at Indiana, gave themselves a slap on the wrist.
Much is being said about Tim Tebow's commercial during the Super Bowl. As a person that felt Tebow was over hyped, I commend him. He is a man who knows who is and stands by his convictions. He is a man who is not ashamed to say he is a Christian and proclaim his love for Jesus Christ as his lord and savior.
Tebow may or may not be a bust as a pro player but what he did in college football may have him go down as the greatest college football player ever. Not only is he the type of player coaches love to coach, but he is the type of person that the NCAA loved to have represent them. A fierce competitor on the field and now a fierce competitor for Christianity. Tim Tebow may may not be a first round pick in the NFL, but he seems to be a first round pick in character and class.
CBS has the right to run ANY AD that they want regardless of what N.O.W. or any other organization has to say about it. The organization that paid for the ad has the right to speak about what they want in the ad. If N.O.W. or any other organization doesn't like it, buy an ad to counter it. CBS can not (and will not according to FCC law) decline to run their ad.
I am taken back by the ordasity and pompous attitudes of the organizations that oppose the ad. We have the right to listen to ANY THING we want to, including their views on abortion. How dare they DEMAND to CBS that they not run the ad? Are they the heads of CBS? Who are they to say what we the public has a right to hear or not hear? Last time I checked we were living in a society that has freedom of speech.
We have T.V. stations that report news far to the left and far to the right. We have news reports that are more like a news companies editorials. They don't report the news, they report their version of the news. I commend CBS for not pulling the Tebow's ad. I think that message needs to be heard and it may effect a person or two in a way that may have them rethink their own situation.
As a person that works in radio and understands how "political rates" work, I know for sure that CBS has given N.O.W. and every other opposing group the right to pay for their own ad, if not they would be in violation of the FCC and would face a hefty fine. It's time for them (the opposing groups) to put up or shut up.
To Tim Tebow and his mother, thank you. Thank you for sharing your story and good luck in your crusade.