Archive for the ‘Links’ Category

manziel-crop

Yeah, I cringed as I wrote that headline too. Not necessarily because of Johnny Manziel, but more so the broad subject matter. It pains me to entertain draft speculation in early February, only days after the Super Bowl. But if it relates to the first overall pick and the most polarizing quarterback set to be on the board, we have to listen. And then we can choose to either laugh or applaud gracefully.

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seattle cop2

Usually, the knowledge that a lot of people watched a lot of football would make you yawn, and return to watching cat videos on Youtube dot com while trying to balance a peanut on your nose. Office productivity just isn’t what it used to be.

But then of course you’ll recall that Sunday night’s game was never close. I mean sure, technically it was close at one point, with the Seahawks leading only 8-0 after the first quarter and they didn’t score the first touchdown of the game until early in the second. But when Seattle scored 12 seconds into the game (a record) and then held a lead for 59:48 of game clock (another record), it didn’t once feel like Denver had a chance. For a television audience that’s what should matter, and if we were to extract Sunday’s proceedings and put them into any regular season week, the channel would have been flipped really, really early.

It was the Super Bowl, though, and the sheer volume of people who will stick around and watch a game that ended with the third largest margin of victory in Super Bowl history gives me both feelings of joy and pain. Once again, this year’s Super Bowl set a record, and for at least one year it will be the most watched show in American television history with its average of 111.5 million viewers.

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pettine2

Between both his results and everything anyone ever says about him, Mike Pettine is a defensive mastermind, and he’s able to both install schemes catered properly to his player’s specific skillsets, and also push those players to get every ounce of talent.

It’s the latter quality which will now be more important in his new position as the Cleveland Browns head coach, because while having an elite defensive mind around an equality elite defensive player like Joe Haden is not at all a bad thing, defense wasn’t the Browns’ problem in 2013. No, the whole scoring points thing was the issue.

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Sherman arms2

Every year I wish the Super Bowl could just be about football. I wish it could solely revolve around three hours or so of mashing on a Sunday evening, and the analyzing and scrutinizing which comes with that.

This isn’t a remotely realistic thought, of course, because  – for better or worse (mostly worse) — football has become America’s gathering place, and its shared nationwide barber shop to discuss the matters of the day. That became evident last year when in the wake of Jovan Belcher’s murder suicide, Bob Costas used his Sunday Night Football platform to champion gun control. Costas did nothing wrong, as the guy who’s asked to give his opinion on the pressing issues of our time did just that. Still, it was a little unsettling going from a gun discussion, to caring about a football game seconds later.

Each year through one avenue or another, that same feeling arises during the Super Bowl buildup. But instead of being that barber shop, football gradually becomes a town hall prior to the Super Bowl, with the requisite loud opining which sometimes drifts into impassioned screeching. Often it still stays within the confines of football, like during media day last year when Randy Moss said he’s the best receiver of all time. Is he? We asked that question for a whole entire news cycle, and the discussion was engaging.

But we also went through a similar exercise while Ray Lewis was being asked one last time to re-live his past and maybe tell the truth, and again when Chris Culliver was not-so kindly reminding us the same day that homophobia is alive and well in NFL locker rooms. Those two conversations are far worse than anything Richard Sherman will ever say or do. But this year, he’s already becoming the bridge to something larger.

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pettine2

The existence of an NFL head coach is fragile to the point that taking a job — the wrong job — can already end the part of your career that you spend at the highest level. But it’s rare that a vacant head coaching position is avoided with such open distain.

Many things are rare about the Cleveland Browns.

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extra point2

Among the important offseason proceedings soon to be upon is the league’s annual meeting. In a room somewhere at a warm and sunny location, coaches and executives debate rules that will alter the game in some way, ideally (dear god hopefully, and please fix your incompetent refs) for the better. In recent years the modifications to the defenseless receiver rule have come from that mind meeting, and last year the crown-to-the-helmet rule which had us all throwing food at computer screens was passed.

This year we could see a long overdue change come into play: the elimination of the extra point.

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sherman podium2

I wasn’t going to do this. I wasn’t going to write (another?) Richard Sherman steaming hot take, mostly because by doing so I’m in direct violation of my own words, and I don’t enjoy that.

But as I awoke after a long evening/early morning of writing, reading, watching, and mostly living in the bliss that was the NFC Championship game and the entertainment Sherman provided us, I started to think, and thinking usually leads to more writing. Sorry.

What were those moderately caffeinated thoughts? With the benefit of some sober reflection now, it seems Sherman actually gave us a sort of social experiment, with your reaction to him saying far more about you than any statement from Richard Sherman the person.

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