NFL Preseason: 10 Most Overblown Stories of the 2011 Preseason
The NFL is back.
And with it the non-stop, 24/7 media coverage of everything football. The most innocent comments are constantly being dissected on ESPN and NFL Network. Conspiracy theories, rumors and speculation are running rampant the instant a star player doesn't show up to camp on time.
While there were a number of major stories during the controlled chaos that was NFL free agency 2011, there were also a large number of non-stories that were overblown, invented or just blown out of proportion.
Read on to find out which of the major happenings were the most overblown.
10. Jeremy Maclin's "Illness"
Jeremy Maclin was one of the Philadelphia Eagles' most valuable offensive weapons in 2010, catching 10 TD passes and opening up the field for DeSean Jackson to break big plays. But when reports surfaced on www.CSNPhilly.com that Maclin was suffering from "mono-like symptoms" in March of this year, things started to get out of hand.
With Maclin still not in Eagles camp, there is constant speculation to what malady might be afflicting the Eagles' star wideout. Some have gone as far as to speculate that it may be cancer. Throughout this entire situation, the Eagles and head coach Andy Reid have maintained that Maclin will be ready for the start of the regular season.
Until there are verified reports that this is something to be worried about, let Maclin recover and give the speculation a rest.
9. The Albert Haynesworth Saga
The Albert Haynesworth Saga has been going on since Redskins' head coach Mike Shanahan benched his 100-million-dollar man during the 2010 season. The entire situation was a time bomb waiting to explode. And when the NFL lockout finally ended, the resulting explosion was little more than a "poof."
For months, the speculation was that Haynesworth would rejoin former defensive line coach Jim Washburn in Philadelphia to form one of the most dominant defensive lines in recent memory. Then there was speculation Haynesworth might be traded to an AFC team. Then it was that the Redskins would send him anywhere except Philadelphia.
Then, Haynesworth ended up being traded to the New England Patriots for a late-round draft pick. And the entire football world just kept moving. If you tuned into an NFL program in March, the Haynesworth Saga was a story that rivaled the Nnamdi Sweepstakes. Now, all is quiet on the Albert Front. For now.
The story was overblown; now it's forgotten. And as soon as something happens in New England, it will be overblown again.
8. The Retirement of Randy Moss
In five years, when Randy Moss is eligible to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he'll be let in on the first ballot. When it's all said and done, he may well go down as the most naturally gifted wideout to ever step onto the gridiron. But for all of his talents and for all of his breathtaking plays, the ones we'll all likely remember were the ones he didn't make because he took the play off.
I don't include this slide to minimize Moss' career achievements. But the coverage of his retirement was (and still is) overblown. Moss announced he was hanging up his cleats on August 1, 2011. It's still being discussed daily on a number of football programs. I understand the need to analyze everything NFL-related to death after the long lockout. But Moss retired two weeks ago. There are new things to talk about.
Congratulations and best wishes to Randy Moss on a great career. Now it's time to move on.
7. The Cam Newton Effect
Before Cam Newton was drafted by the Carolina Panthers, the already crumbling franchise seemed to be on the verge of collapse. The team was coming off of an awful 2010 season, had lost a franchise icon in Julius Peppers to the Chicago Bears the previous offseason and seemed to be bracing to part ways with Peppers' replacement and pass-rusher extraordinaire Charles Johnson.
Then Cam Newton is drafted, Mel Kiper Jr. and his minions scrutinize the pick until everyone turns off their television and Newton becomes the most interesting man in sports for awhile. As a No. 1 overall pick, this is part of the territory.
What is not part of the territory is having an effect named after you before you've completed your first training camp. Despite that, we have the Cam Newton Effect.
I don't remember anyone prior to Newton's arrival predicting the Panthers would not only re-sign all of their major free agents (Johnson, DeAngelo Williams and Steve Smith) but would go out and add other weapons as well. But apparently Newton made a few phone calls, visited a few teammates and said a few words. The seas parted and the teammates returned.
Again, this isn't meant as a slight to Newton. But the "Cam Newton Effect" after two weeks? Seriously? At least wait until he throws his first NFL pass.
6. Osi Umenyiora, LeSean McCoy and Twitter "Beef"
The public display of affection between Giants Pro Bowl DE Osi Umenyiora and Eagles RB LeSean McCoy reached a fever pitch this offseason, with McCoy tweeting that:
"[Osi Umenyiora is] Overrated n soft 3rd best d-line on his team honestly."
That didn't sit well with Umenyiora, whose tackle McCoy broke en route to his 50-yard, game-winning touchdown when the teams played in November. The Giants DE fired back with the following comments:
"I mean, he's a girl, man. Who does stuff like that? If he has more of those things to say, he can say 'em to my face. Don't be no Twitter gangster man."
Umenyiora also called McCoy "Lady Gaga" and said that this recent media feud between the two stars is nothing new:
"Me and Him [Eagles RB LeSean McCoy], we had words on the field—both times we played [during the 2010 NFL season]. I hate him, he hates me, period."
As entertaining as this entire exchange has been, it's overblown. Football is an intense sport. The players are fiery competitors. The Giants and Eagles are heated rivals. It happens. Should it have gone public on Twitter and in the media? Probably not. But should we still be talking about it? Definitely not.
It's also worth mentioning here that the other headline of Osi's offseason—his new contract and trade demands—is overblown. The Giants don't want to trade one of their best defensive playmakers, and they don't want to pay him any more money. Shocking. Osi wants more money. Shocking.
This will all be forgotten in another week. Shocking.
5. DeSean Jackson's Holdout
It's no secret that Eagles WR DeSean Jackson is one of the most underpaid players in the NFL. The two-time 1,000-yard receiver and arguably most dynamic offensive weapon in the NFL was slated to make just over $500,000 in 2011—about one-fourth what dime cornerback Joselio Hanson was being paid.
The Eagles have said they want to extend Jackson and give him the payday he deserves. Jackson has said he wants that payday...now. When the Eagles were busy signing free agents galore, Jackson announced a holdout. Under the new CBA, if Jackson didn't report to Eagles camp by August 8th, he'd lose a year of free-agency eligibility, something which would cost him quite a bit of money.
Everyone knew exactly how this situation was going to end before it began. Jackson was going to show up at the last possible minute. The Eagles were going to sit him down and offer him a lucrative, long-term contract. And everyone was going to walk away happy.
This story was overblown because it was pointless. Everyone knew how it was going to end before it began. So why was every back page of the Philadelphia Daily News talking about the DeSean Jackson situation?
4. The Jay Cutler Twitter Bashing
A note to Jay Cutler: Welcome to life as a franchise QB for a storied NFL franchise. After Cutler took himself out of the Bears' NFC title game against the Green Bay Packers because of a "knee injury," a number of current and former NFL players blasted the Bears' starting QB. The highlights follow:
"You can play this position [QB] hurt. Some of us have," said Trent Dilfer on ESPN.
"Knee-Gate in Chicago" wrote Anthony Armstrong via Twitter
"Hey I think the urban meyer rule is effect right now... When the going gets tough........QUIT.." wrote Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew via Twitter. He then said: "All I'm saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee...I played the whole season on one."
Entertaining, no? But still worth talking about? Hardly.
3. The Ryan Brothers' Guarantees
"Outspoken" must be a Ryan family trait. Over the past few months, both members of the Ryan family currently involved in the NFL have made guarantees in response to media comments.
New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan guaranteed that his team would win the Super Bowl in 2012. Again.
Rex's brother, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, took a page out of the family playbook and declared that "I don't know if we win the all-hype team. That might have gone to someone else [the Philadelphia Eagles], but we're going to beat their *** when we play them."
Like clockwork, the media took those comments and ran with them. Were the comments noteworthy? To a degree. But did they deserve the kind of press they have continued to receive? Not a chance.
2. The Return of Plaxico Burress
When he was released from prison, all of the media speculation centered on the rumor that Burress would follow in Vick's footsteps and sign with the Philadelphia Eagles. All of that seemed to be verified when Burress emerged from a two-year stint in the Pen wearing a Phillies cap. The lockout ended and all of a sudden, Burress—who hadn't played an NFL game since shooting himself in the leg back in 2009—was a star of the free-agent show.
First Burress was going to the Eagles. Then he was going to the Giants. Then it was the Steelers making a play for the lanky ex-convict. Then the Eagles were back in the mix. And finally Burress signed with the...Jets?
All of this attention and speculation for a 34-year-old wide receiver with just four career 1,000-plus-yard seasons who has not played a game in two years? Burress will likely be a third or fourth option for the Jets offense in 2011-2012.
He's not Mike Vick.
1. Brett Favre Is Retired...No Really, He Is
Brett Favre has announced his retirement at least three times by now. He's done. Seriously.
The speculation that he's making a comeback is overblown. He's not coming back. He's retired. Hopefully, he's staying retired. And the Philadelphia Eagles do not need a backup QB.