Tag Archives: NFL

COVID vaccine: political weapon

Damar Hamlin’s collapse on the football field during the Buffalo Bills-Cincinnati Bengals contest the other evening has prompted a disgusting and disgraceful display of politicization I didn’t believe was possible.

Hamlin is now released from the hospital and is home in Buffalo continuing his recovery from the frightening moment when he suffered a heart attack after tackling a Bengals player in the first quarter of a game that was suspended and eventually canceled by the National Football League.

Now comes word from some right-wing commentators and a Republican U.S. senator from Texas that Hamlin’s collapse might have been spurred by the COVID-19 virus vaccine.

What an utterly disgraceful turn!

The senator was Ted Cruz, who retweeted a message that came from actor Kevin Sorbo questioning the circumstance surrounding Hamlin’s collapse. Cruz took the tweet down. U.S. Rep. Collin Allred, a Dallas Democrat — and a former pro football player — called Cruz’s politicization of the Hamlin incident a “new low, even for Ted Cruz.”

This kind of second-guessing, grandstanding and hideous conjecture from the cheap seats simply illustrates the coarsening of our society.

It has no place … except in the gutter.


Hey, media! Where’s the outrage?

Well now, it appears we have a fascinating discussion brewing about the way the media treat athletes caught doing illegal acts or making public demonstrations about serious policy matters.

If you’re Black, the media are going to climb all over you. If you’re white … not so much.

Consider the cases of two Black football players, Michael Vick and Colin Kaepernick. Vick was convicted of sending pit bulls to their death in dog fights. Kaepernick was vilified because he chose to take a knee during the National Anthem to protest police conduct against Black citizens. Vick and Kaepernick are Black.

You with me so far?

Now we have Brett Favre, another former pro football quarterback, who’s accused of stealing money intended to help poor Black residents of Alabama and Mississippi. Where’s the outcry? Where is the condemnation?

Oh, wait. Favre is white.

Brett Favre got caught red handed and nobody cares (deadspin.com)

I want to make another point. None of us wants to see dogs tortured, but … they aren’t human beings. No physical harm was done to anyone when Kaepernick launched his star-spangled protest.

In the case of Favre, people are suffering because someone — allegedly it’s Favre — stole money from accounts set aside to help those individuals.

Is that how you cover the news fairly? Hardly.


Transfers give me pause

I remain steadfast in my athletic fuddy-duddyhood, in that I don’t much like some of the trends I see occurring in college and pro sports.

For example, the designated hitter rule in baseball is for the birds. Nor do I like playing football or baseball under a roof. I dislike “artificial turf” and I believe baseball players need not suit up with body armor befitting a combat soldier when they are hitting. Instant replay? Let the refs and umps call the game and stop the endless “reviews” on the field! They get damn near all the calls right as it is.

There. Now let’s turn to these “transfers” I keep reading about in college football. They generally are young men who have graduated already from one university, but with “football eligibility” remaining, they transfer through some sort of “portal” to another school.

Again, call me old-fashioned but I prefer to see a college football player play for the school where he enrolls, then after four years he is done; he either can turn pro or pursue another line of work, presumably in a profession related to the degree he is supposed to have earned at the college of his choice.

These “transfer athletes” seem to carry a bit of a mercenary aura about them. I guess they want to burnish their college career stats enough to make a pro team want to draft them higher and presumably offer them more money.


This stuff makes my head hurt.


The GOAT is coming back

There really is no way for me to explain my disappointment to learn that Tom Brady is coming back for at least one more season playing professional football for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But I’ll try anyway … to explain myself.

Brady completed his 22nd year in the National Football League, losing a playoff game to the Los Angeles Rams. Then he decided to retire. I hailed it at the time. Why? Because he had just finished a stellar season. He led the league in passing yards and a whole host of other quarterback categories.

Not only that, he did it at the age of 44!

The Greatest Of All Time was going out at the top of his game. He would stay home with his gorgeous wife and gorgeous kids and do whatever it is that retired sports superstars do.

But wait! Today he said he is coming back for another season in Tampa. It’ll be No. 23!

I am reminded at this very moment of something my wife — hardly a football fan — said when he announced his retirement. She said Brady’s retirement announcement reminded her of Bret Favre, the former Green Bay Packers QB who came back twice more, to play for the New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings.

Sigh …

I just wish the GOAT would have stayed retired. That he would have decided that a league-leading passing performance would result in a sparkling conclusion to a career that is beyond any equal.

Today I am left to hope for the best for Tom Brady and pray he hasn’t reached beyond his grasp.


NFL put on the spot

You have to give Brian Flores a ton of credit for shining the light on what appears to be a gigantic flaw in the National Football League’s hiring practices.

Flores is the African American former coach of the Miami Dolphins who has filed a lawsuit against the NFL for racial discrimination. It all makes me go … wow!

The NFL’s player rosters comprise about 70% African Americans. Until just recently, the league had precisely one Black head coach, Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now it appears that the ranks of African American head coaches are swelling. The Dolphins hired Mike McDaniel as head coach and the Houston Texans reportedly are about to hire Lovie Smith as their new head coach.

Flores was denied a head coaching job after reportedly being told he had been hired. He got the message by mistake. The league operates on what is called the Rooney Rule, which mandates that teams must interview a certain percentage of African American coaching candidates. There is no requirement to hire an African American, but they are supposed to get an equal shot at these opportunities.

Flores doesn’t believe he got that equal opportunity. So he’s suing the league.

His lawsuit has opened up a gaping wound in the NFL’s coaching lineup. With only one Black head coach in a league that comprises a significant Black majority among its athletes, there must be some reform in the league’s hiring process. That is what Brian Flores appears to be accomplishing with this lawsuit.

I won’t comment on the merits of his complaint, because I know too little about it. I have this hunch that it won’t go to court and that the league is going to settle with Flores, likely paying the coach a hefty sum of money.

Meanwhile, I’d be willing to bet real American money that we’re going to see a lot of qualified African American coaches with well-paying jobs in the NFL … and it will happen real soon.


Washington Commanders?

OK, here comes a question that might have crossed others’ minds as well as my own.

The Washington football team is now the Washington Commanders. It’s a fine name. I won’t quibble over it. What about any references to the team’s former name, such as when they played in previous Super Bowls?

For the record, I am glad the team ditched its former name, which I consider to be an epithet aimed at Native Americans. I won’t even use it here, just to be politically correct.

However, all references I have seen to Washington’s past football exploits in the Super Bowl, where it made five appearances dating back to the 1973 game against the Miami Dolphins, uses the franchise’s former name.

Will sportscasters, therefore, be allowed to use that name when talking about the team’s past? Or must they dance around it the way I am doing it now?

Just askin’.


AFC vs. NFC? No contest!

I have this need to disclose my professional football bias. I am a diehard fan of the American Football Conference, which once was known as the American Football League.

Of all the 55 Super Bowls that have been played, I have cheered precisely one time for the National Football Conference team to win the big game. In 2010, that honor fell to the New Orleans Saints, who gave their city the lift it needed after it had endured the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina five years earlier.

The Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in the game played in Miami.

I tend to favor the underdog. When the AFL came into being in the early 1960s, I gravitated to the young league. I enjoyed its razzle-dazzle, high-scoring brand of football. Then the leagues — the AFL and the NFL — announced plans to merge. The pro football championship would be decided in a title game between the leagues. I cheered mightily for the Kansas City Chiefs in that first game against the Green Bay Packers and for the Oakland Raiders in the second game against the Packers; both AFL teams got clobbered.

Then the New York Jets scored the big upset in Super Bowl III against the Baltimore Colts and the Chiefs came back in Super Bowl IV to manhandle the Minnesota Vikings.

My bias remains intact this year, with the Cincinnati Bengals waiting for the winner of the 49ers-Rams game this evening.

And so … may the better team win and I do hope it’s the representative of the AFC.


Hail the GOAT!

Most of us who follow football — even a little bit — understand that it is a game of numbers. You know, yards gained, yards lost, interceptions, tackles, penalty yards, sacks, punting yardage. Whatever …

Tom Brady reportedly is retiring after 22 seasons of professional football becoming arguably the greatest quarterback of all time.

I want to focus on a particular number as we ponder the effect this guy had on the game he played with excellence and precision.

The number is 198. What does that number signify?

It is the number players selected ahead of Brady in the NFL draft of 2000. Now think for a moment if you’re a general manager who had the chance to select this young man what you might have thought after he won all those Super Bowls and led the New England Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to all that glory.

One hundred ninety-eight players got into the NFL ahead of the GOAT. Granted, not every team drafting in that sequence needed a quarterback. Still, Tom Brady quite unexpectedly became the gold standard for winning in the National Football League.

The Patriots drafted him out of the University of Michigan even though they had a decent QB calling signals for them. Drew Bledsoe then got hurt; Brady replaced him on the field. And the rest, as they, is history.

I know, we had that “Deflategate” matter involving the footballs that were allegedly tampered with by the Patriots, giving Brady some sort of advantage over his foes. Phooey.

Now, let’s look at some other numbers.

Seven Super Bowls; five Super Bowl MVP awards; more than 84,000 yards passing; 624 touchdown passes; three league MVP awards. I won’t go on. You get the picture.

The guy was a stellar athlete. He possesses an incomparable work and dietetic regimen that has allowed him to play the game at a high level until the very end of his playing days. He led the NFL in passing yards at the age of 44, for crying out loud.

Perhaps, in my mind, the greatest measure of this guy’s greatness can be found in this episode. He left the Patriots after the 2019 season and joined the Buccaneers. The Patriots, who had won six Super Bowls with Brady at QB, missed the playoffs that year; the Bucs went on to win the Big Game, beating the defending champs, the Kansas City Chiefs.

Oh, Brady did that at the age of 43.

Yep. This guy is the greatest of all time.


Will Super Bowl match these games?

Whichever teams emerge next weekend from the NFL’s conference championship games will have a mighty steep hill to climb to match the excitement the football-watching public enjoyed this past weekend in the divisional playoff games.

This is my way of saying the Super Bowl, to be played two weeks later in Los Angeles, will have to go some to give us the same level of thrill.

Think of this: The Cincinnati Bengals beat the top seed in the AFC, the Tennessee Titans with a game-winning field goal; the San Francisco 49ers went to Green Bay to defeat the favored Packers after trailing the entire game — until the end; the LA Rams went to Tampa Bay and knocked the defending Super Bowl champs, the Buccaneers, with a game-ending field goal; then came the capper, with the Kansas City Chiefs defeating the Buffalo Bills in overtime with a touchdown pass in what many call the “greatest game in NFL history.” 

The conference championships will have plenty of drama. My favorite story line belongs to the Bengals. They hadn’t won a road playoff game in the franchise’s history, yet they beat the Titans in Nashville. They haven’t played in a Super Bowl since 1989, when they lost a thriller to the 49ers.

Whether it’s the Rams vs. the Bengals, or the 49ers vs. the Bengals, or the Rams vs. the Chiefs or the 49ers vs. the Chiefs in the Big Game, know this: The players will take the field knowing they are capable of delivering a Super Bowl for the ages.

Here’s hoping they don’t disappoint.


NFLers come to play

My football-watching tastes have evolved over the years, in that I usually watch little pro football and concentrate my attention on college ball.

However, this weekend has been one for the ages for those who love to watch the National Football League.

Three visiting teams won the first three divisional playoff games. They all were underdogs. Oh, and all three games were decided by field goals.

Cincinnati beat the AFC’s No. 1 seed, Tennessee, in Nashville; the San Francisco 49ers ventured to frigid Green Bay to beat the Packers after trailing them the entire game; Los Angeles traveled to Tampa to take on the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers and won that game as time ran out.

What’s more, Cincy won its first road playoff game in the history of the franchise.

As I type this brief post, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills are playing for the final conference championship spot. It’s still early, but my hunch is that this one could down to the wire, too.

Yep, these high-priced millionaire athletes do have a way of stepping up to provide the kind of entertainment we all love to see.

Update: The Chiefs and the Bills put a wrap on the most exciting football playoff weekend I can remember. KC won with a touchdown in overtime; the game ended 42-36. So help me, that was among the best football games I ever have seen.