Archive for the ‘Lists’ Category

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Quick, close your eyes. Actually don’t do that because then you can’t keep reading, but just somehow simulate the eyes closed sensation (get creative). When I say “draft bust” to you, what’s the first image in your mind? For me it’s always JaMarcus Russell, for he will always and forever be the image of what it is to not try.

Now let’s do the same with “free agent bust”. For me the immediate image there is that of Albert Haynesworth, the rotund Redskins money pit who was signed to a $100 million contract in 2009, $41 million of which was guaranteed. He then commenced his ballooning, and this remains his lasting legacy in Washington…

Haynesworth has now become an American hero of sorts, and in hindsight he may have actually been the smart one here. In a league where only about half of every contract is guaranteed (at best), teams can discard players at will, and bodies are ruined by age 30, he took his money and ran. Or at least waddled quickly, as former teammate Chris Cooley said Haynesworth’s goal was to get released as soon as possible after receiving his guaranteed money, and live a quiet life in retirement on a speed boat with scantily-clad women.

To be a bust the player in question doesn’t necessarily have to reach Haynesworth’s level of stink. For me and for most (I think?), the definition of a free agency bust is as follows: a player whose production doesn’t come close to meeting the level of play expected from the paycheck he receives. Each year there are potential land mines who can meet that description, and through the first year of his contract Mike Wallace certainly leads the 2013 free agent class for the bust label.

So let’s get sad, and thoroughly examine the top three players in this year’s group who could bring doom.

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The top 43 draft eligible names

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Your defending champion.

Usually I hold off with this annual list, the best list of all the lists. But with the recently concluded Scouting Combine fresh in the rearview and Pro Days starting next week, the time felt right.

Each year 254 players are drafted into the NFL, and then many more are signed as undrafted free agents immediately afterwards. Most of them have normal(-ish) names, but so many more don’t. So very many more.

In an exercise that’s featured around these parts every year (because we do the hardcore, investigative sort of journalism) and it’s grown in popularity now with the fine work of Key and Peele, before each draft we sift through the CBS rankings of the top 1,000 eligible players to find the best names. Some of them are nicknames that have stuck hard, so hard that no one actually knows the prospect’s real name. But for the most part, what you see here is real and spectacular.

The majority of the names listed below will either become UDFAs and you’ll never hear from them again, or they’ll be late-round picks and you’ll never hear from them again. So let’s give them their time to shine.

Presented now with minimal and sporadic commentary, the top 43 names of the 2014 draft class. Barkevious Mingo is the defending champion from 2013, with Bacarri Rambo (or “Goo Fudge” if you prefer) a close second.

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We’ll get to some Friday fun in a minute, but first please bear with me and indulge a quick-ish Combine PSA. If you watch the Combine this weekend and early next week, I want you to do something. No, I plead with you to do something: ignore the numbers.

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Long before Terry Tate was enforcing his strict office rules like not cutting the cheese wherever you please, and even before a group of enterprising young men stuck us with a screaming greeting that grandfathers everywhere would repeat, there were simpler times for Super Bowl commercials. There was the 90s, a blessed time when lobsters stole beer, Miss Piggy smacked a bro around, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird played an innocent game of horse, three frogs repeated three sounds forever, and men were forced to make the crucial decision between paper and plastic.

Come with me then, friends, and let’s re-live our youth together (or at least my youth). As we wind down the week before the best week ever, let’s go back to the years when Sonic the Hedgehog was the coolest, and when you walked with music, there was concern about a CD skipping. To the 90s, and some digitally dusty Super Bowl commercial nostalgia.

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The top five quarterback rivalries

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Let’s just get this out of the way right off the top: Tom Brady vs. Peyton manning is the best quarterback rivalry of all-time, and it’s not close. There are many reasons for that (they’re both really good at playing quarterback, and they’ve meet many times during crucial games), but for me the foremost argument is simple: time.

Brady and Manning will toss against each other for the 15th time Sunday, and in the third AFC Championship game, a clash that’s now well over a decade old. It’s lasted through severe injuries to both quarterbacks, much more so with Manning, but Brady still shattered his leg in 2008. And it hasn’t faded with Manning changing teams and adjusting to a new city and a new system.

But there’s been many other great rivalries, so let’s embark on the best football wobbly beverage discussion there is, and a listicle journey as old as the Internet.

Here are the NFL’s top five quarterback rivalries that don’t involve quarterbacks named Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Surely I excluded one or three because avoiding that is pretty much impossible, so please feel free to yell profanely pleasantly discuss omissions in the space provided below.

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battub

The first time I was exposed to a cluster of NFL-ish fan songs was during the height of Tim Tebow’s reign in Denver. There was a little bit of everything, with aspiring artists of all ages involved. Yes, the winter of 2011 was a frightening time in our lives when the Internet was flooded with surprisingly honest parodies, odes to Tebowing, strumming candlelight worshipping, and whatever the hell this is…

The joy spread quickly, and then vanished just as fast. But like the awful music you listened to in high school which reminds you of that time you were out for a rip, the memories live on in lyrical form.

Each year around this time as the playoffs intensify and so too does the level of fan fervor, I find myself almost subconsciously drifting to Youtube dot com and punching in something like this: “Team X fan songs”. I’m not entirely sure how this habit began, but it likely goes back to that initial exposure to the musical wonders created whenever football fans and an instrument of some kind collide. What I’ve learned is that the true sign of a great fan song is the viewer’s ability to last past the 30-second mark.

So on the eve of the divisional round, I took a little adventure to see the best musical stylings among the teams remaining (a team that will likely dominate tomorrow did the same here). It’s a tough life, this job of mine, as this little fun time Friday project required sifting through a lot of white people rapping, the sort that the ears can’t unhear.

But in no particular order, there were still some gems from this past season and a little beyond.

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I only vaguely remember this.

We’re often told to reflect around this time of year, and get all misty-eyed about advancing one more year closer to death (and a happy holidays to you!). When we do that, the result is usually often mournful slow jams that wiggle their way into your ear forever, and then a few minutes wondering what, exactly, you did over the past year.

For many of you, the answer to that question might be pretty easy. Maybe you finally married the love of your life, or started a family, or landed a pretty sweet and rewarding job that you always wanted. Or in an even greater accomplishment, maybe you’re a scientist who created an artificial ear that can grown within days. You win.

But during this time when we’re around family and we’d like to avoid conversations about when we’re getting married, when we’re starting a family, and when we’re creating our own ear that can grow in days, distractions are needed. Don’t worry, I’m here, and the NFL’s year of awesome is too.

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