Category Archives: National Football League

Still Snakebitten

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At the conclusion of Super Bowl XI on January 9, 1977, little did the Minnesota Vikings know what was waiting for them. The 32-14 loss to the Oakland Raiders marked the Vikings fourth Super Bowl loss in eight years with each defeat being more painful than the previous one. By this time the Vikings were an aging team with a core that included future Hall of Famers such as quarterback Fran Tarkenton and defensive tackle Alan Page. That era of Vikings football would be remembered for producing quality teams who couldn’t win it all. However since then the Vikings would love to have that problem.

Since that time the Vikings have never been able to get back to the Super Bowl as they’ve been denied a trip back to the big game in five NFC Championship Game appearances. In 1977, the Vikings were no match for the precision of the Dallas Cowboys who won 23-6. In 1987, Minnesota was five yards away from a potential game-tying touchdown against the Washington Redskins when running back Darrin Nelson dropped an intended pass. In 1998, the Vikes were 15-1 and appeared to be destined for a Super Bowl Championship. But at home in the NFC Championship Game, kicker Gary Anderson who hadn’t missed a field goal or extra point all season long failed to connect on a 38-yard field late in the fourth quarter which would have sealed a win over the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons would score a touchdown to tie the game at 27, and subsequently win in overtime on a 38-yard field goal from Morten Andersen to send the Vikings home heartbroken. Two years later the Vikes made it back to the NFC Championship Game where they appeared to be the better team against the New York Giants. However the Giants would win the opening kickoff and march down the field on a touchdown and never look back as they won 41-0. In 2009, the Vikings would once again make the NFC Championship Game; this time as they were led by former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre and running back sensation Adrian Peterson as this appeared to be their year. And with the game tied at 28 late in the fourth quarter, Minnesota had a chance to win. However with the Vikings on the edge of field-goal range, Favre was intercepted by New Orleans Saints cornerback Tracey Porter. The game would go to overtime and after the Saints won the coin toss, they marched down the field as their kicker Garrett Hartley would connect on a 40-yard field goal which once again denied the Vikings a chance to play in the Super Bowl.

But all of the Vikings heartache hasn’t necessarily been saved for the NFC Championship Game. In 2003, Minnesota began the season with a record of 6-0, however they would fail to make the playoffs as that year will always be remembered by them allowing the Arizona Cardinals to complete a touchdown pass on 4th and 25 to defeat them in Week 17. During the 2015 NFC Wild Card Game, the Vikes welcomed the Seattle Seahawks to town with a game-time temperature of minus-six at TCF Bank Stadium. Late in the contest the Vikings were trailing 10-9, but they would have a chance to win. However kicker Blair Walsh would miss a 27-yard field goal. And how could we forget about last season when there was a consensus that the Vikings could make the Super Bowl. But late in training camp, Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a torn ACL and this team never recovered.

Since the Vikings lost to the Saints in the NFC Championship Game, they have failed to win a playoff game and in the process they’ve wasted to play making ability of Peterson.

Adrian Peterson

Aside from being of the better players of this era, Peterson is arguably one of the better running backs in National Football League history. Through ten seasons in the NFL, Peterson’s 11,747 career rushing yards are 16th all-time, while his 97 rushing touchdowns are tenth. Peterson is a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, while he was the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2007. But what solidified Peterson’s legacy was in 2012 when he gained 2,097 rushing yards after suffering a torn ACL in the previous season. However Peterson isn’t immune to age, or the NFL’s salary cap crunch catching up to him as he was limited to just three games last season, and thus the Vikings weren’t willing to pick up the $18 million option for the 31-year old running back heading into the 2017 campaign. There is still the possibility that Peterson could return to Minnesota on a reduced salary. However I see Peterson going to a team that’ll give him a chance to win the Super Bowl, which would lead a huge hole for the Vikings to have to fill.

Mike Zimmer

The Vikings had a championship defense last year under head coach Mike Zimmer, but they could not win games without a consistent offense which could see them take a turn for the worse during the upcoming season.

Aside from potentially losing Peterson, the Vikings have questions at the quarterback position once again which could cast doubt over the upcoming National Football League season before it starts. It’s not a guarantee that Bridgewater will be ready when the regular season rolls around. And even though that quarterback Sam Bradford who was acquired by the Vikings last year from the Philadelphia Eagles was able to complete 71.6% of his passes while only throwing 5 interceptions in Bridgewater’s place, he isn’t a signal caller that you envision ultimately being able to lead Minnesota to a Super Bowl Title as he has never appeared in the postseason.

Sam Bradford

The Vikings were desperate for a quarterback last year and thus they surrendered a first and fourth-round pick in the upcoming National Football League Draft to the Eagles in order to obtain Bradford which could hurt them this April when the league’s selection process rolls around. The Vikings want to compete, but with questions at the quarterback position, along with having a tough chore in potentially replacing Peterson, the term rebuilding might have to be thrown around with this franchise that has been so close in the past to glory, only to always fall short.

And with U.S. Bank Stadium set to host Super Bowl 52 next February, I will go out on a limb and state that the National Football League’s streak of the host team not making it to the big game will remain in tact.

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Starting Over Once Again

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Just prior to the start of a new calendar year in the National Football League, the New York Jets find themselves in a very familiar position which is that of starting over. After the Jets went 10-6 in 2015 which was their first season under the regime of general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles, the level of optimism increased for 2016. But those hopes were quickly dashed when the Jets began the season with a record of 1-5 and things never got any better. New York would limp to the finish line with a record of 5-11 which marked their second losing season in the last three years. But credit goes to Maccagnan and Bowles for not attempting to patch up the Jets issues with spit and glue.

Recently the Jets released three veteran players in center Nick Mangold, cornerback Darrelle Revis, and wide receiver Brandon Marshall. The moves will save the Jets roughly $46 million in cap space, while putting them $33 million under the cap line heading into a new year.

Nick Mangold

Mangold has spent his entire 11-year National Football League career with the Jets which included him being a seven-time Pro Bowl selection. But at the age of 33, along with injuries beginning to catch up with Mangold, Maccagnan made the decision that it was time to move on. In 2015, the Jets acquired Marshall from the Bears and he became an instant sensation. In Marshall’s first year with the Jets, he set single-season franchise records for receptions (109), and receiving yards (1,502), while tying the mark of 14 receiving touchdowns. But injuries and drops marred Marshall last year as he only managed to tally 59 receptions for 788 yards and 3 touchdowns. Revis is arguably one of the best players in Jets franchise history. And it appeared that Revis would be a lifer with Gang Green until he was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013. After winning a Super Bowl Championship with the New England Patriots in 2014, Revis returned to the Jets in 2015. However in 2016, Revis was showing signs of declining skills. It didn’t help Revis that he was recently arrested in Pittsburgh and charged with four felonies for his alleged involvement in a street fight as I am sure that this wasn’t the way in which he wanted to see his Jets career finish. These moves by the Jets are a clear indication that they are starting over, but Maccagnan still has plenty of work ahead of him.

Last season Marshall had an ongoing feud with defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson. Marshall considered himself to be a “team leader”, but Richardson wasn’t a fan of his. Richardson has been a distraction for the Jets in his own right following his 2015 arrest which ultimately led to him being found guilty last year for reckless driving and resisting arrest. Richardson was also disciplined last season by the Jets for his Snapchat video in the team’s locker room, while also being suspended by the National Football League for one game after his conviction.

The Jets had a chance to move on from Richardson last season when they put him on the trade block. However the Dallas Cowboys were the only team that showed interest in him and since they were only willing to part with a third-round pick, Maccagnan decided against the trade. But as the Jets have parted way with key veterans, a malcontent such as Richardson needs to be shown the door as well.

Mike Maccagnan

The Jets are no closer to being a contender now than the day when Maccagnan was introduced in Florham Park as the team’s new general manager. The Jets only have two quarterbacks on their roster with Bryce Petty having four starts under his belt in the National Football League, while Christian Hackenburg has yet to see any action. In releasing Mangold and offensive tackle Breno Giacomini, along with the retirement of D’Brickashaw Ferguson last year, New York doesn’t have any quality experience on their offensive line. And with Jets owner Woody Johnson being named as the United States ambassador to Britain, all of this points to the Jets “starting over” once again as it has an eerie feeling for anyone who has followed this franchise over the years.

Ever since the Jets shocked the world and defeated the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl 3, they have occasionally showed signs of hope, only to be turned away at the gate of success. After the Jets made the AFC Championship Game during the 1982 National Football League season, they took a huge step backwards in 1983 to finish 7-9. In actuality the Jets have appeared in the AFC Championship Game four times, including most recently in 2009 and 2010, but they always fell short.

Now Maccagnan has waved the white flag for a team and to a fan base that has to live with “the fake spike”, “the butt fumble”, and the fact that Bill Belichick was the Jets head coach for a day, before resigning to become the head coach of the New England Patriots which has led to him winning five Super Bowl Championships mainly at the expense of Gang Green, New York will once again have to sell their backers on starting over. But as the Jets appear to be starting over will Bowles be able to survive?

As of right now it appears that the Jets will more than likely be fighting an uphill battle this season, and as Bowles heads into his third season, he has yet to get New York to the playoffs which is never a good thing regardless if he is in the midst of a rebuilding process or not.

Todd Bowles

Bowles and Maccagnan are good guys who have walked into a impossible situation which to turn the fortunes of the Jets around. The Jets are a franchise that is still waiting for the next Joe Namath, and that guy doesn’t exist. And with the upcoming National Football League Draft not littered with franchise quarterbacks, while veteran quarterbacks who could be available such as Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo or Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears are not the long-term fix that the Jets need, this franchise is stuck on Groundhog Day minus Bill Murray.

The Ides of March have yet to arrive, but the 2017 National Football League season already appears to be a wash for the New York Jets.

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Further Away From Canton Than You Think

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Last month saw the new class of inductees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced. The seven inductees that will enter the hallowed halls at Canton, Ohio this August are Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, running back LaDanian Tomlinson, kicker Morten Anderson, quarterback Kurt Warner, defensive back Kenny Easley, defensive end/outside linebacker Jason Taylor, and running back Terrell Davis. And in this list of new busts that will be prepped for this summer, there is one obvious omission.

For 15 years wide receiver Terrell Owens was a problem for opposing defensive backs, his head coaches and teammates alike, but it was real hard to look past his talent. Owens’ 15,934 career receiving yards are second to only Jerry Rice, his 1,078 were fifth at the time of his retirement in 2010 and his 153 receiving touchdowns are third behind Rice and Randy Moss. Owens led the National Football League in touchdown receptions on three separate occasions and he was a six-time Pro Bowl selection. But with all of these accolades that Owens possesses, he has been denied access to Canton twice, and it might not get better for him anytime soon.

Throughout Owens’ career, he was known to express his opinion while also wearing his emotions on his sleeve. Owens played for the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, and Cincinnati Bengals. And at each stop along Owens’ journey in the National Football League, teams couldn’t wait to show him the door.

Following the retirement of quarterback Steve Young in 1999, there wasn’t a quarterback in the National Football League that was able to be on the same page with Owens. During the rest of Owens’ time with the Niners, he was always known to bicker with quarterback Jeff Garcia when he didn’t get the football. This led to Owens being traded to the Eagles in 2004. And after Owens helped the Eagles reach the Super Bowl at the conclusion of that season, he clashed with quarterback Donovan McNabb. The Eagles would part ways with Owens in 2005 which saw him find a new team in the Cowboys in 2006. But by 2008, Owens wore out his welcome in Dallas after he became critical of quarterback Tony Romo which would see him join the Bills in 2009. After one season with the Bills, Owens would give the Bengals a try. At the age of 37, Owens racked up 72 receptions for 983 yards and 9 receiving touchdowns with the Bengals. Owens showed that he still had plenty in the tank, however the headache wasn’t worth it.

Owens has never been a guy that would blame himself as it was always someone else’s fault. If a quarterback didn’t throw Owens the football enough, he would pout and throw a tantrum on the sideline. And at each stop along the way, he knew how to divide a locker room.

Owens’ stats scream of him being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but for many people he does not have an attitude that is worthy of Canton.

Since being snubbed for induction into the Hall of Fame for a second consecutive year, Owens has gone on the offensive to criticize the process. And even though that I was not a fan of some of Owens’ antics during his playing career, he does make a point about the selection process.

46 media members and then two Hall of Famers decide who gets inducted. And just like it has been in baseball, some of these writers tend to hold grudges against players. Ron Borges of the Boston Herald went out of his way that to point out that Owens once led the National Football League in drops as to his reasoning for not voting for him, while others simply weren’t fans of his antics. And it doesn’t make it any better when a kicker in Anderson, a running back in Davis who had his career cut short due to injury, and an owner in Jones whose team hasn’t done anything in two decades all got in before which only piles on to the issue. And once you factor all of this in, this situation will get worse before it gets better.

Whereas Owens does deserve enshrinement into Canton, it might be awhile before he gets there. Fairly or unfairly, Owens has publicly criticized the people who operate the process of whether or not that he’ll get voted in. And if Owens is the still the same person that he was during his playing career, he will never forget the snubbing that he has received. If and when Owens does finally get in, there is a good possibility that he’ll give a speech criticizing the enshrinement process, along with his critics which is something that the National Football League doesn’t want.

But make no mistake about it that process is a joke. All of the finalists are asked to be in attendance during Super Bowl weekend even if they don’t get selected which is a waste of time for those who don’t get in, while it can also take a toll of their families. And the fact that Owens hasn’t gotten in has done a good job of bringing this to the spotlight.

We’ve seen in the past where some of football’s great have been unnecessarily put through the ringer and denied access to Canton. When wide receiver Art Monk retired from the National Football League in 1995, his 940 receptions were more than any other player in league history. But it wasn’t until 2008 that he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Defensive end Jim Marshall set an NFL record by appearing in 282 consecutive games which stood from 1979-2005 when it was broken by punter Jeff Feagles. But Marshall has only been a finalist once as his wrong way touchdown run 1964, along with playing alongside Hall of Fame defensive tackle Alan Page and defensive end Carl Eller with the Minnesota Vikings has been held against him. However where other guys have taken the process in stride, Owens is of a different breed.

I doubt that Owens will check his ego at the door anytime soon and the same can be said in regards to the selection committee. Owens has played for five teams and since I don’t see any of those organizations going to bat for him, he currently is a man without a country. The National Football League continues to expand as more of a pass happy league on a yearly basis which means that Owens’ stats could continue to be diminished as the seasons go by. Anyone with half a brain knows that Owens belongs in the Hall of Fame as he was one of the better players of the 2000’s, but with all of his excess baggage, it maybe a long period of time before he ever gets fitted for that illustrious gold jacket.

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