The NFL will not be beaten by demons.

Justin Blackmon is a talented wide receiver who is watching his career slip down the drain, unable to control issues in his private life that have negatively impacted his ability to catch footballs for a living.

Demons. Blackmon has demons. That's the term we've been authorized to use in this profession when we watch a player with immense talent waste it by grabbing a bottle, a pipe, a vial or whatever vice one might choose to unravel an otherwise positive trajectory in the sport and, by proxy, in life.

Blackmon's demise should be a cautionary tale for other players in the NFL. His situation should be a warning for those players struggling with their own issues to get help before it's too late—to not let the demons win. But it won't be. It never is.

10 Rules That Are Haunting the NFL

By on October 31, 2013

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In 2013, Halloween officially marks the start of the second half of the NFL season—a nine-week journey to separate the league's superheroes from the living dead.

(True story: One year for Halloween, a friend and I dressed up like the guys from Bosom Buddies, but at the last minute he got cold feet and changed costumes to trick or treat as a football player. He was Tom Rathman, eye black and all. I stayed in my dress. Half the houses thought I was just a girl who forgot to wear a costume.)

With that horrifying skeleton out of the closet, let's ring the bell back to the here and now. The NFL is more popular than ever—even more popular than a time when boys dressed up like blocking fullbacks in exchange for candy—but the league is far from perfect.

There are a lot of rules in today's NFL, and while most attempt to make the game better, some have no rhyme or reason for existing, while others actually serve to make the game worse.


The 2013-14 NBA season is comprised of two separate and increasingly independent crusades. Some teams—the handful of star-laden clubs with the talent to fight for a title—are vying to dethrone the Miami Heat.

Other teams are left fighting for something different, mired in a battle to procure the next king.

The only way to win the crown in the future is to lose as much as possible in the present.

The 2013-14 NBA season has become a split campaign, with some in the league trying to win by winning, while others have no choice but to win by losing. 

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As the NFL season rounds past the midway point of the schedule, which teams are better or worse than their records, or than we think?

There are still nine teams in the league with two or fewer losses, while eight teams have just two or fewer wins. The other 15 teams are all living in midseason purgatory—somewhere between three to five wins with somewhere between three to five losses, in a season that's too early to be lost, but for some, too late to be a contender.

Remember, the NFL is in the business of mediocrity. The league wants as many teams as possible to have a chance at the playoffs as the season winds to a close. This season, however, the plan may not be working.

The NFL already has a page on its website called "if the season ended today," and by the looks of the teams slated for this year's postseason tournament, there aren't a lot of open slots left.

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On any given Sunday, as the expression goes, there are 1,696 active players in the NFL. And if we include practice squads, the list of NFL players grows to 1,952 across all 32 teams.

On any given Sunday, at least this season, nearly 25 percent of them are hurt.

And we're not talking in season wear and tear, either. Through the first seven weeks of the season, there are 200 players—more than ten percent of the entire league—on injured reserve.

Of those 200 players, 20 are on the IR with a designation to return during the season, which leaves 180 players—an average of nearly six players per team—officially out for the year.


Major League Baseball must be smiling from ear to ear this postseason. The World Series, which began Wednesday night in Boston, features two of the most storied teams in the history of the game.

The Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. The World Series. The two best teams in the game. It's a ratings bonanza.

But what if it's not? What if the trend of dwindling World Series ratings continues in a year where baseball could not have asked for better LCS and Fall Classic matchups?

What then?

With Bud Selig leaving the commissioner's office soon, the next two years are as perfect a time as any to re-evaluate where the game is headed into the future. This commissioner has made his legacy the expansion of the playoffs. The next could create a legacy by shortening the World Series.


There is an old saying in football that if you have two quarterbacks, you don't have any.

What if you have three? How many do you have then?

The Philadelphia Eagles have three quarterbacks—injured starter Michael Vick, backup Nick Foles, who was injured in the 17-3 loss to Dallas on Sunday, and rookie Matt Barkley—and none looks like he will be the long-term answer at quarterback for Philadelphia. 

Chip Kelly has nine games to figure this out, and which quarterbacks he plays the rest of the season will go a long way toward figuring out his thought process on the position.

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The most overused term in sports is also this generation's most obnoxious cliche: playing the game the "right way."

Does your favorite team play the game the right way? You better hope it does, because that's how you win in today's modern sports world: by doing it the right way.

Only, for some people—including USA Today columnist Bob Nightengale—today's right way means doing what ballplayers did in the 1950s. In the 1950s, by golly, they played the game the right gosh-darn way:

No siree, the Cardinals beating the Dodgers wouldn't just be for the pride of St. Louis. The Cardinals beating those showboating, home-plate-posing, umpire-arguing, trolley-dodging muckety mucks out in La La Land would be for the good of the game—for old-time baseball, how it was meant to be played.


Is there a chance in all the recent conversation about Tony Romo's unadulterated "un-clutchness" that people are overlooking something really important about the Dallas Cowboys quarterback? Might Romo actually be clutch?

Can that be possible? Can a player be both clutch and un-clutch at the same time? Is it possible, perhaps, that Romo is neither clutch nor un-clutch in any statistically significant way and the entire conversation about his clutchness is just a media gambit to get people talking? (How un-clutch of me to admit that.)

These are questions I sought to answer by more than just watching him throw for over 500 yards and roll up six billion points against Denver before throwing a horribly timed interception to get people—including myself—to talk about how he shrinks when the lights are brightest. 

Look, we all remember Romo's gaffe in his first ever playoff game against Seattle, when he muffed the snap on a hold and failed to get into the end zone for what would have been an improbable game-winning conversion. Since that day in early 2007, Romo has worn the un-clutch moniker on his head like a Starter cap. 


What do you get when you mix a Hall of Fame quarterback, a solid offensive line, great wide receivers, a decent running game and a mediocre-at-best defense?

If you are someone like Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, you get a Super Bowl ring.

And if you are actually Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, your Super Bowl ring comes with nine empty fingers, a mountain of regret and a media firestorm.

Irsay told Jarrett Bell of USA Today this week that, with Peyton Manning coming back to town for the first time as a member of the Denver Broncos, one ring while Peyton was in Indy just wasn't enough: