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Archive for the tag “Tom Brady”

Denver Outlasts New England To Make The Super Bowl

(photo courtesy of Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports)

(photo courtesy of Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports)

Denver was considered the underdog going into the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots. People were expecting the Patriots offense to come in and put the Broncos defense on their heels a little bit behind the strength of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. And as for the offense of the Broncos, everyone thought that this could be Peyton’s last game. But little did we know the Broncos would have something for the Patriots in Denver today. The Broncos held Tom Brady in check for most of the game and the offense was just effective enough as the Broncos won the game 20-18 and punched their ticket to the Super Bowl. And just like that, Manning plays on. For the Patriots, a season that started so well ends in the bitter taste of defeat. The Brady versus Manning battle actually proved to be much more than these two Hall of Fame quarterbacks.

The big question all week for the Denver defense was how they would cover the Patriots in the passing game. The Patriots have one weapon that many have trouble covering in the NFL: Rob Gronkowski. The big tight end out of Arizona is a matchup nightmare with his size, speed and soft hands. Coming into this one, the Broncos were aware that he would probably get his. And pairing him with shifty wide receiver Julian Edelman could cause big problems for the Broncos because of all the rub routes and things the Patriots run. But the Broncos counteracted all the things the Patriots do in the passing game with their front four. Brady was constantly under pressure all game long and that was enough to force two interceptions and also 3.5 sacks in this game. It seemed like the Patriots offensive line had no answer for Von Miller, Derek Wolfe and the Broncos front line. And because of that, the timing was off in the passing game for the Patriots. Brady was not able to set his feet in the pocket a lot and was often running for his life. And that resulted in some inaccurate passes along with plenty of passes thrown away to the sidelines. The final drive was something that could have come back to get them, as they let up just a little and let the Patriots have a chance. But in the end, they turned it up one more time and forced Brady into a mistake on the two-point conversion, missing the opportunity to tie the game.

Offensively, the Broncos were not exactly the greatest all season. The running game was inconsistent and the passing game was not very dependable either. Despite people wanting to see Brock Osweiler and thinking Peyton Manning was done, Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak went with the veteran Manning when it mattered the most. And so far, Manning has not disappointed him or the fans of the Broncos. Last week his wide receiver corps had a ton of drops and that almost cost them the game. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was a disappearing act in this game. And so far for the playoffs, he has only caught six passes for 52 yards and has scored no touchdowns. But when he did not show up, the passing game did not stall. Tight end Owen Daniels may not have put up big numbers, but he was big in the redzone for Manning. He caught two passes all game and both of them were for touchdowns. Manning hit Daniels across the middle off a blown coverage from the Patriots for the first touchdown of the game. And for Daniels second touchdown, Manning hit Daniels in the corner of the endzone, beating Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins. The usage of Daniels was good early in the game and allowed the Broncos to open things up just a little offensively. The Patriots defense would only allow six more points the rest of the gsme. But with how well the Broncos defense was playing along with the running game getting going down the stretch of the game, Denver was able to hold the Patriots off.

The Broncos now go to where some had them at in the beginning of the season: the Super Bowl. And along with that, Peyton has a chance to cap off this season with a championship. If you take a look at the Broncos six weeks ago, no one would have saw this coming. Manning was out injured and Brock Osweiler was starting. And along with that, no one knew what to expect from this team as they tried to hang on and make the playoffs. Amazing how much things can change over a small amount of time. And now the Broncos will move on to the Super Bowl in what could be Manning’s swan song in the NFL. It will be interesting to see what they do on the big stage.

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Mistakes And Missed Opportunities Doom The Kansas City Chiefs

(photo courtesy of www.fansided.com)

(photo courtesy of http://www.fansided.com)

The Chiefs were flying high after their beatdown of the Houston Texans on Wild Card Weekend. They played so well that many thought they could come into New England’s Gillette Stadium and beat the defending champs. But apparently someone forgot to tell the Patriots they were supposed to lose that game. The game was slow at first, but the Patriots eventually pulled away from the Chiefs. Now the Chiefs did make a run at the Patriots late. They got a late score to pull within seven points. But they could get no closer than that as the Patriots closed out the game 27-20. The Patriots now await the winner of the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos as they go to their fifth consecutive AFC Championship game. And like usual, they handled their business like they were supposed to. The Chiefs lost and thus went their eleven-game winning streak along with their season. And unlike last game, the things that went their way against the Texans went the exact opposite way against the Patriots. And now they are going home. The Patriots went and took the game and the Chiefs just allowed it to happen.

The Chiefs had a couple drives where they were converting third downs in the first half. And those drives allowed them to get deep into Patriots territory. With how those two drives were going, it looked like the Chiefs were going to score a touchdown. But unfortunately, the Chiefs could not finish off the drives. They had to settle for two field goals for only six points. The Patriots defense was able to make the plays to save the touchdown instead of just allowing the Chiefs to score. One thing the Patriots did to limit the Chiefs in the redzone was take away their best weapon, tight end Travis Kelce. The Chiefs used bracket coverage on Kelce and forced Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith to either make a perfect throw or look for someone else. Smith chose the later and there were no other people he could find. And thus the field goals that the Cardinals were left to take. On the other hand, the Patriots scored two touchdowns in the redzone. They drove the length of the field on two big drives as Brady methodically took them down the field. On their first drive, they finished it off by getting Gronkowski matched up one-on-one on the outside versus Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith. And even though Smith is a tall corner (listed at 6’3”), he was still small compared to Gronk. He ran right at Smith and just boxed him out like in basketball. As soon as he turned around, Brady had the football right there for a touchdown. And on the second touchdown drive, Brady scrambled uncharacteristically scrambled all the way to the one-yard line. And from there, he ran the quarterback sneak to score. That difference of a touchdown or a field goal is what separated the Chiefs from the Patriots in the first half. And unfortunately for the Chiefs, they were not able to take away Gronkowski like the Patriots were able to take away Kelce.

Another issue that happened with the Chiefs was clock management. The Chiefs were down by 14 with about 7:28 seconds left. The Chiefs had to get a stop to keep the game within striking distance. And the Chiefs got exactly what they needed and were able to save all their timeouts. The Patriots punted to the Chiefs and they got the ball back on their own 20 yard line with 6:29 seconds left. You would think the Chiefs would be wanting to pick up the pace and score as quickly as possible. But instead of doing that, the Chiefs seemed to take their time making their way down the field, facing at least two big conversions on third and fourth down. The good think if they made their way down the field and eventually got a score. The bad thing is they wasted too much time in doing so. The Chiefs actually could have scored before the two-minute warning, but they ran the football on first and goal at the one-yard line and were stuffed. The Chiefs scored with 1:13 left and all three timeouts left too. But with such a little amount of time left, the Chiefs were only able to do an onside kick and hope their defense could stop them and stop them quickly. That did not happen at all for them and they lost the game. Time management has been an issue for Chiefs head coach Andy Reid since he was coaching back in Philadelphia. And unfortunately for him, it reared its ugly head again at the wrong time. If they would have picked up the pace and threw the ball down the field more on that last scoring drive, then they would have given themselves a better chance.

The Chiefs had their chances to win the game today. But in a game of this magnitude, you have to take advantage of your opportunities. The Chiefs did not take advantage of them and the Packers continued to miss them over and over. And as a result, the Chiefs are headed home and their win streak is over. Maybe next year the Chiefs will continue to grow their offense to where it isn’t a surprise when they stretch the field with their passing game. And hopefully they add more weapons in the passing game to make themselves even more dangerous. But as of right now, they can only think of what could have been while the Patriots continue their winning ways.

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Cam Newton Is Going To Make MVP History Whether Folks Like It Or Not

(photo courtesy of Mark Zaleski/Associated Press)

(photo courtesy of Mark Zaleski/Associated Press)

The MVP race has had his ebbs and flows this year. At first people were speaking of Tom Brady of the Patriots winning it. Then there was Carson Palmer of the Arizona Cardinals mentioned. And after that Cam Newton of the Panthers has taken it over. The Panthers were undefeated leading up to their game against the Falcons in Atlanta this week. Plenty looked at it as a continuation of the 38-0 woodshed beating the Panthers put on Atlanta in Charlotte. But this one had quite the different story. The Falcons came out and played with heart and pride as they beat the Panthers 20-13. The Falcons defense was after Cam Newton all day, as he had one of his worst games all season. And immediately, many began to question whether he was the MVP. But that was not all that was said. Many began to speak on the narrative that has long been said about Cam Newton. That he was an arrogant guy and that he was a guy that did not take losing well. And some even said that this loss brought Carson Palmer back into the MVP race. For those that think this MVP race is even close, I got a few words for you: Open your eyes.

Before the season, the thought was the Panthers would not be very good. They had lost their star wide receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, to a torn ACL. And they had a ragtag group of receivers left that many felt were horrible. The defense was still there, but the offense was very questionable. But Cam not only made this offense viable, he made it one of the best in the NFL. The Panthers are ranked second in the NFL in scoring (30.8 points per game) and are the second leading rushing team in the NFL. And although their passing game is not ranked very high (23rd in the NFL), they are very explosive. For example, Ted Ginn Jr had not had double-digit touchdowns in a year in his career. This season, Cam has helped him have the best season of his career, getting 10 touchdowns up to this point. And as far as the offensive line, that was an issue that was mentioned before the season. Many thought that they would be terrible and would not be able to protect Cam. They have had their issues, but Cam has helped them some with his mobility. And they even produced two Pro Bowlers out of the bunch (center Ryan Khalil and guard Trai Turner).

When you take a look at what Cam compared to Carson Palmer, there are a few things that people can say make him the MVP. The offense of the Cardinals is the only one better than the Panthers in the NFL. Also, Palmer has a better percentage rating and has thrown for more yardage. But what no one talks about is Palmer has one of the best lines in the NFL and he also has skill position players that Carolina can only dream of. Besides tight end Greg Olsen, the Cardinals have far and away better offensive weapons than Cam does. So essentially Cam does more with less than anyone in the NFL right now. And overall, Cam has accounted for more total touchdowns (41) than Carson has (35). But the main numbers that sway the MVP is the wins. And for those that will try to say this game caused Carson to get back in the race, they may want to remember that Carson’s has had some dud game and that he has not thrown for five touchdowns in a game once all season.

The underlying narrative that is being formed is people are out there that do not want Cam Newton to win the MVP. There have been plenty that have not liked him since he stepped foot in the league or even since he was at Auburn. People have been going out of their way to point out reasons why he would not succeed in the NFL. They said he was too dumb to be an NFL quarterback when he first got here (the usual Black quarterback narrative that is put out there). And then they went on to point out the way he wraps his head in a towel on the sideline and how he seemingly is not in a good mood when they are losing (I wonder where those same people are when Tom Brady is going off on the sidelines and even yelling at a coach). They also try to say he is a poor sport because he has fun while he plays and dances in the endzone. (No one ever said quarterback dancing in the endzone was wrong). Whether folks like it or not, the MVP trophy is coming to Charlotte, making Cam the first African-American quarterback to win the MVP award outright. History is about to be made and Cam will be the face of it.

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The Wes Welker Signing In St. Louis Is Not A Good Thing

(Photo courtesy of Jack Dempsey/ Associated Press)

(Photo courtesy of Jack Dempsey/ Associated Press)

Wes Welker has been to a few Super Bowls and has been a pain in the collective sides of defenses for the majority of his career. But after he wasn’t brought back by the Denver Broncos after last season, he has had a hard time finding work. The veteran wide receiver has been keeping himself in shape, patiently waiting on the call from one team wanting to employ him. The Giants worked him out, but there was no contract given. And Welker was starting to get impatient. He wanted to play and needed someone to give him a chance. Well, the wait is finally over for Welker as he was recently signed by the St. Louis Rams. Thanks to the suspension of wide receiver Stedman Bailey, the Rams had an opening and decided to give the veteran wide receiver a chance. All indications are that he will be in uniform this weekend versus the Chicago Bears. Welker finally got his wish for someone to give him a chance and it will be interesting to see what he can do for them this year or if they keep him past Stedman’s four-game suspension. There could potentially be some positive things happen from this move, but this move is one that is scary for him and not productive for the Rams.

Having a veteran wide receiver is a great thing. The way he can help a team is the same way Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley. He just gets a feel for his quarterback and finds a way to get open for him. Welker has made himself into a quarterback’s best friend with the ability to get open and he may just do so in St. Louis. But there has to be a question as to how he will be used in St. Louis. Welker has been a very good slot receiver his entire career. He has made great plays for Peyton Manning in Denver and Tom Brady in New England. But in St. Louis, they already have a slot guy that they use in a multitude of ways. Tavon Austin is enjoying his best year as a pro wide receiver. He is on pace for the most touchdowns and receiving yards in his career and the Rams are using him any and everywhere on the field. The Rams did not bring in Welker to be a body on the sideline, so he could potentially cut into some of the playing time that Austin gets should they line him up in the slot like he is accustomed to. The Rams are struggling to score points, but Austin is not the issue and if they plan on eating into his touches, then they will suffer offensively. Another thought is they may try to line Welker outside and if they do that, it will be a short stay for Welker in St. Louis. He is not an outside receiver and that is not how he made his living in the NFL at all.

But away from where and how they will use him, there are some physical concerns that are frightening when you think about them. Welker has had concussion issues over the last three seasons. They got so bad that they gave him a helmet that made him look like Rick Moranis’ character in Space Balls. The premise behind that helmet was to try and protect him from another head injury. The NFL just does not pass out those type of helmets unless there is serious concern over more head trauma. And even though he has not been active this year, that issue still is around. Each time he takes a hit, he is putting himself at risk of being concussed again. And there is always that possibility that his next one could put him in a place he does not want to be: a nursing home. Welker may love to play the game, but you want to be able to walk away when your time is over. Welker may want to think about that instead of trying to quench his thirst he still has for playing the game. His hunger for playing may still be there, but he has to be cognizant of the position he is putting his wife in. And that one is a position of nervousness for her probably, not knowing if that next hit will alter their lives forever.

The love of the game is something that can be unending, especially for players. And at times, it can be so addictive to some that it causes them to not know when to call it a career. It’s been time for Welker to call it a career, but he just will not give it up. He could potentially help the Rams, but there could be more harm done to him in the process. And along with the potential harm for himself, he could disrupt the rhythm of the team. Welker had a talented career up to this point, but his time has passed. And the fit for him on this team is like a square peg trying to fit in a round hole.

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Ranking The NFL’s Five Undefeated Teams

The NFL has had a lot of inconsistencies this season. One week a team can look like a contender and the next week they look like they don’t even belong in the playoffs. But there have been five teams that have escaped unscathed so far despite the ebb and flow of the NFL. Those teams are the Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots. All five teams have managed to take care of business despite sometimes being in tough situations. All of these teams will more than likely not go undefeated, but which of them is the stronger team of the undefeated? Let’s take a second to rank each undefeated team. Let’s start with number five.

Photo courtesy of The Denver Post

Photo courtesy of The Denver Post

5) Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos are undefeated this season and it has become a usual feeling to see them doing well. Defensively, the Broncos are scary good with two lockdown corners, two incredible pass rushers and a linebacker crew that underrated. Offensively, the Broncos are making a transition to Gary Kubiak’s offense and that has been painful to watch at times. But even with that, they have found a way to make it happen when it matters the most. The Broncos have employed the Orange Crush and some think they will get better as the weeks go on. But there has to be some concern about Peyton Manning and the offense. Manning has made big throws when his team needs them, but he has also made some inexplicable mistakes unbecoming of Manning. And as the season goes on, it gets cold in Denver. And we all know that Peyton is not the best performer when it gets cold. Couple that with the Denver running game still trying to get it figured out and that could mean some issues for the Broncos come playoff time. If indeed this is Peyton’s last season, he will need to pick it up if he wants to end it on a high note. For now, they have to be the last-ranked undefeated team in this grouping.

Photo courtesy of The Charlotte Observer

Photo courtesy of The Charlotte Observer

4) Carolina Panthers

The Panthers have started 5-0 for the first time in their franchise history. Defensively, the Panthers survived the loss of superstar linebacker for three games and did not miss a beat. Defensive back Josh Norman has been spectacular in coverage for them in a contract season. And offensively, Cam Newton is making the plays for his team to win games every single week. They are playing very well on both sides of the ball, but the offensive limitations for the Panthers could hurt them. The loss of wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin to a knee injury before the season was a huge blow to the Panthers offense. With him gone, the only weapon in the passing game that scares teams is tight end Greg Olsen. The veteran tight end has been excellent despite receiving extra attention from defenses. That may be something they can get away with in the regular season. But in the postseason, the Panthers will need someone to step up. Rookie wide receiver Devin Funchess has all the tools to step up and be that other target Cam needs, but he has been inconsistent catching the football. Other than the Panthers passing game, all other aspects on offense and defense are solid. It will be interesting to see how they grow throughout the rest of the season.

Photo courtesy of Democrat And Chronicle

Photo courtesy of Democrat And Chronicle

3) Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have come out with some fire this season. Quarterback Andy Dalton is playing like he has something to prove this season. And to go along with the offense, the Bengals are also holding their own defensively. The most impressive moment of the season for them had to be the comeback in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks. And the thing that is interesting about this team is they are not dependent on AJ Green to have big games every week. It is hard to find holes in this team with the way they are playing. But like all teams, there is something they are missing. The Bengals have given up the second-most points of the undefeated teams. In the past, it was very hard to make it happen versus Cincinnati. This year teams have been finding a little bit more success. The Bengals defense is talented, but they have to make sure and tighten it up as the season goes on. Offensively, running back Jeremy Hill has been struggling to get going. The Bengals are surviving without him producing a lot, but they will need him to get going in December and January to fulfill their championship aspirations and win that first game for the combo of Dalton and head coach Marvin Lewis. Time will tell if they can get these issues resolved. But this team has some work to do.

Photo courtesy of CBS Sports

Photo courtesy of CBS Sports

2) Green Bay Packers

Green Bay has come out this year just as impressive as they ended the season (despite the loss in the NFC Championship game). The defense has been better at all levels, led by linebacker Clay Matthews and his versatile play. And offensively, Aaron Rodgers is again playing like a MVP. Even with the loss of one of his best wide receivers, he still is making it happen and the Packers are still over 27 points per game. But even with all the great things, there are some things they need to work on. One noticeable thing is the offensive line. Too many times, Rodgers has had to be creative and avoid the rush. Some of that can be attributed to the pressure that comes. But other parts of that are linked to protection breakdowns. The Packers may face some issues if they don’t get that taken care of come playoff time even though Rodgers is their quarterback. Another issue offensively is health at the wide receiver position. They lost Jordy Nelson in the preseason for the year and many of their receivers have been dinged up. Rodgers makes it happen still in spite of that, but you need your best wide receivers on the field when the time comes to make a run. But even with these issues, the Packers have been able to look great this season. However, in order to win the title they must work to shore up those weaknesses.

Photo courtesy of The Boston Jam

Photo courtesy of The Boston Jam

1) New England Patriots

The New England Patriots have come out like a team possessed. They have scored the most points of any team in the NFL and they have been very solid defensively in each and every win. Some would say they are primed for a great run at repeating as champions. With Gronk in a groove catching the ball, Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman running their short routes to perfection and the rotation of running backs playing well, there is no reason to think this offense will slow down anytime soon. Add to it the fuel that Tom Brady is playing with (Deflategate) and it looks like the defending champs are out to make a statement. But defensively, there lies one issue. The Patriots did not want to pay their starting cornerbacks from last season, Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. As a result, Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan have been holding it down at the cornerback spots. Both have been doing their best, but they are not the best set of corners. In the playoffs, expect these two to be attacked and that could harm them. But with the offense they have and the defensive mind in Belichick pulling the strings defensively with defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, they can cover them up with the pressure they bring and the disguises they make. Overall, it looks like the championship is theirs to lose.

These ranking could change as time goes on, but the Patriots are handling business. Each one of these teams has a great shot at making the championship game, but there are some things that both have to sure up or learn how to hide well. Whatever team does so will have the best chance at winning the trophy. It shall be interesting to see what the rest of the season holds for these five.

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There Is Another “E” Word That Should Be Associated With Some NFL Quarterbacks

Russell Wilson isn't elite. But that is not a bad thing. (AP Photo courtesy of Ted S. Warren)

Russell Wilson isn’t elite. But that is not a bad thing. (AP Photo courtesy of Ted S. Warren)

Over the years, there have been many quarterbacks that have been showered with the “E” word. The word elite has been used for many quarterbacks after they have a good throw, drive, quarter, half or game. And immediately when that happens, the debate ensues. For example, the most recent debate was on the contract of Russell Wilson. It was talked about how the Seahawks quarterback wanted a bigtime deal that would make him the highest paid quarterback in the NFL. Now he did not get that deal, but the discussion about him leading up to that deal was an interesting one. Some used his record in his first three years as the main argument for him being an elite quarterback that needed to be paid like one. And on the flipside, there were others that pointed to the running game he had with Marshawn Lynch and that ferocious defense as keys to him being able to do what he did. That debate, even though he has signed his contract, still goes on to this day and Russell is not the only quarterback to endure it. But in having this debate and throwing the word elite out so loosely, the word has been diluted over time. Whether you agree on Russell Wilson or some of the other quarterbacks in the NFL is completely up to you. But one thing that is definitely true is elite does not describe every quarterback that is out there in the NFL. Although it falls short of many quarterbacks, there is one word that begins with an e that fits many quarterbacks for their prospective teams.

Russell Wilson fits what Seattle needs out of a quarterback. He is a smart quarterback who makes plays with his feet, arm and his head. But he is also a perfect fit for what Seattle does because he does not take many chances and uses his running game and his defense. If you look at any other quarterback that does what Russell does, you would not call what he does elite, you would call it essential. Russell is a very talented quarterback and he may very well be elite to many, but there is no doubt that he is one of the key factors that is essential to the success of the Seahawks. And without him, the Seahawks would not have made back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. But Russell is not the only quarterback that can fit in the essential category in the NFL. There are many that are essential quarterbacks in the NFL. The systems many quarterbacks play in, along with their talents, make them look as great as they do. But if you were to place some quarterbacks in other systems, there is no guarantees that they would succeed. In fact, some may look like a fish out of water.

For example, take a look at Cam Newton and the system he plays in. They grind it out at all times and they really don’t allow Cam to air it out. And for the system he plays in, Cam is great for them. The Panthers, with that combination of defense and ball control, have been in the playoffs two years in a row. And even though the last playoff appearance was with a subpar record, they still made it there keeping within their identity. But let’s take the play of Cam Newton and put him in an offense that airs it out every week like the Denver Broncos. Even though Cam Newton is talented and can make things happen, there is no guarantees that he would be successful in an offense that he is not used to running. And Cam putting the ball in the air 35-40 times may not best suit his talents. Many quarterbacks like Cam Newton play in systems that fit what they do and are successful at doing what they do. And because of those quarterbacks staying within the system and doing what they do, the team benefits from the success. The system, much like the players that play in it, go hand in hand. And without the essential pieces, the system crafted would not work.

There are only a three quarterbacks in the NFL right now that you can plug in any lineup and expect success. Their names are Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Those three are elite quarterbacks and there is no question there. But outside of these three, there are many quarterbacks that are just essential pieces to the grand scheme of things. There is nothing wrong with being an essential quarterback for a team. It means that you both fit each other and that you are a successful pairing. So instead of throwing the word elite around like every quarterback has that type of ability, you may want to sub that word for essential, as in his ability being essential for that team.

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The Blind Support Of Tom Brady Keeps On Coming

Tom Brady had his suspension upheld. And his supporters are there supporting him despite what looks like guilt. (photo courtesy of www.sportsofboston.com)

Tom Brady had his suspension upheld. And his supporters are there supporting him despite what looks like guilt. (photo courtesy of http://www.sportsofboston.com)

Tom Brady was scheduled to be suspended for the first four games of the beginning of this upcoming season. He was suspended for Deflategate, which everyone remembers is about purposely deflating footballs to gain an unfair advantage in games. Brady, of course, appealed the decision that was made based on the report of lead investigator Ted Wells. Many thought that Goodell, who heard the appeal, would lighten the sentence for Brady after hearing what he had to say in the appeal process. But much to the shock of many NFL fans, Goodell decided to keep the suspension as is and will keep the NFL’s Golden Boy suspended for the first four games of the year. Of course there were many reactions to this one. Some loved it that Goodell did not change the suspension. While others decided they did not feel it was right and were defending Brady. But there were others that took another stance in regards to Brady that was very interesting.

Brady’s suspension, as it stands right now, is the same as another player that will be missing the beginning of the season. Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Greg Hardy was on the Commissioner’s Exempt List all but one game last season for the Carolina Panthers. How he landed on this list is what many were talking about. Hardy had an incident with his ex-girlfriend that ended up in him reportedly choking her and throwing her around. He was originally found guilty in Carolina, but he appealed the charge and was found not guilty upon appeal. The main reason that he was found not guilty is because he reportedly paid off the woman that he got into the incident with and she was uncooperative during the entire case. Upon review of the information, the NFL suspended him originally for 10 games. But upon review, the ten-game suspension was reduced to four games. The thing that has some fans riled up is that Brady, who was suspended for deflating footballs, has the same suspension as a guy that was violent with women. It is quite interesting that those suspensions are now the same but what happened to personal accountability? Of course, Hardy had an issue and that matter has been handled. But Hardy and Brady’s issue are two separate things. And even though it seems unfair that he is punished the same as Hardy, you cannot pick your punishment when you are indeed wrong. That is almost like a kid telling his parents how he wants to be punished when he gets in trouble. It’s something that will never happen. So instead of focusing on why he has the same suspension as Hardy, realize that Brady was wrong in what he did. And in regards to those that are speaking of others that may do this across the NFL, please remember that there are many things that go on in the NFL. Many players probably do things that are not actually legal when it pertains to the NFL rule book. But there are some that get away with doing so. Whenever you do something that is against the rules, you run the chance of getting in trouble. And even though others may or may not have done the same things that Brady did, Brady is the one that is in trouble in this one. And in life, when you get punished, you handle that situation and take the punishment. You don’t start talking about who else did what and when. Notice Brady did not do that at all.

Another lesson here in this one is blind faith. Notice that there are some that are supporting Brady after all of this and claiming that the league is after the Patriots and Brady. Since when does the league go after a team and a team end up being one of the winningest franchises over the last decade? If this was the Cleveland Browns, who have had decade after decade of bad play, then there may be a case here. But the Patriots fans that are yelling this one do not have one solid leg to stand on. And secondly, did we forget that Brady had a chance to cooperate and clear his name in what he was accused of. He was asked by Wells for the phone actually. But it is reported that he destroyed the phone when he was asked for it from Wells. Now I know Wells was not a lawyer and this was not a court case, but imagine if it was? If someone refused to give materials that pertained to a case in court, that would be obstruction of justice. And that would be something that would send Brady to jail. He isn’t going to jail and this isn’t court, but he basically tried to hide evidence from the case. And in the end, that was the one thing that eventually cost him. Even if he was not guilty, he made himself look guilty by destroying the evidence that was asked for by Wells so he could determine his involvement with the other members of Deflategate. For those that still seem to think that Brady is not wrong for his actions, imagine if you are a parent right now. Imagine if you asked your child for information about something and he or she purposely lied to you or hid information in your own “investigation” into something that may have involved them. Would you think he or she did nothing wrong? The prevailing thought there would be anger along with frustration about the lie in your “investigation”. Just like a kid, if Brady was asked for information by the authority, he should have been forthright. And if he was as innocent as he said he was, then he would have given the information without question to prove that he was. But yet he hid it and some are praising him for doing so. You see how this praising someone for lying and concealing information can be something that can baffle the mind?

Brady has reportedly given the NFLPA permission to appeal this case in federal court. And if he thinks this investigation is going to get easier, than he has another thing coming. It will be brought up why he destroyed the evidence and he more than likely will have to answer that question on the stand. The court could ask for the records of his phone data as well. And at that point, Brady could be in position to either clear his name or bury himself in his own lie. That will be solved one way or another in federal court. Brady, at this point, is not looking like he will be exonerated from this one and will have to serve his suspension. And just like in the past, it looks like the NFLPA will be getting the short end of the stick. Brady has always been seen as the Golden Boy of quarterbacks and he will go down as one of the best quarterbacks of all-time. But in this instance, he could have ended this one if he admitted what happened instead of hiding what happened by destroying evidence that was asked for. And reportedly, the NFL would have lessened the suspension if he would have admitted his role. But his pride would not let him do so and now we are heading to another level for this case. Brady is fighting this one tooth and nail, but it is a done deal at this point and it will be hard for him to even escape punishment.

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Reggie Wayne Has A Decision To Make

Reggie Wayne's days in Indy are over. But what is next for him? (photo courtesy of The Indianapolis Star)

Reggie Wayne’s days in Indy are over. But what is next for him? (photo courtesy of The Indianapolis Star)

After he was not re-signed by the Indianapolis Colts, some thought veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne’s career was over. Considered the second-best wide receiver in recent Indianapolis Colts history behind Marvin Harrison, many were surprised the Colts did not keep him around after this season and let him walk into free agency. But sometimes business means more than the legacy of a player that meant a lot to the Colts. And just like Peyton Manning, the Colts had to make the tough decision to let a key player in their franchise’s history go. Despite the quiet free agency buzz around him, Wayne maintained that he would still be interested in playing with a team if the fit was good. There was a lot of doubt as to if someone would even pick him up after watching him struggle while battling through torn triceps. Recently, a list of teams mentioned they were interested in the services of Wayne. The teams mentioned included the Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots. The choice was there for Reggie to continue his career. The Ravens and Texans have reportedly backed down from their consideration of bringing in Wayne. But that leaves two teams that are in play for his services: the Packers and the Patriots. But if you take a look at both teams, neither would be a good fit for him at all.

The Packers are led offensively by quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The veteran quarterback out of the University of California is arguably the best quarterback in the game. For Wayne, aligning with Rodgers would be excellent for his career. But in the scheme of things, how would he even fit that team at that position? This offseason, the Packers made sure to lock up one of their best weapons, Randall Cobb. The dynamic wide receiver signed a four-year, $40 million deal to stay in Green Bay. The deal keeps him paired with Jordy Nelson, who signed a similar deal with the Packers last offseason. After those two receivers, the Packers have a lot of young players. One young player that stood out for them last season was wide receiver Devante Adams. The rookie out of Fresno State only had 38 receptions for 446 yards, but it’s hard to get many catches when you’re playing with two guys that had over 90 receptions themselves. And the thing about Adams is he’s still young and improving. The Packers also have a penchant for drafting and finding good wide receivers. So in signing Wayne, they would be paying him to be a fourth wide receiver. And knowing the amount of money he may command, Wayne should be out of the question for the Pack. Green Bay would be stepping way out of their character if they brought in Wayne and for the veteran wide receiver, he would risk being cut before the season started if he signed there only due to his salary not meeting the potential production.

Tom Brady, like Aaron Rodgers, is in the upper echelon of quarterbacks in the NFL. He consistently does great things with the pieces that are handed to him. And last season, he made won the Super Bowl with a wide receiver crew that no one envied and a beast of a tight end in Rob Gronkowski. Heading into this season, the same cast that Brady had last season is set to return. And with the cast, the Patriots are considering bringing in Reggie Wayne. The veteran wide receiver, at this point in his career, does not have the speed he used to after his serious knee injury a couple years ago. He can probably still run good routes, but the separation from defenders on his routes may not be the same as it used to be. With the Patriots, they love to run the short routes that require separation. In Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell and Julian Edelman, the Patriots have the wide receivers they need to do the things they do. By adding Wayne, they would be adding one more guy that would be doing the same thing the others do. If anything, the Patriots need a guy that can take the top off of defenses. And Wayne has never really been a guy that strikes fear in teams with his speed. It has been his route-running that has been his staple over his entire career. Wayne would actually find himself in a battle to make the roster in New England like he would in Green Bay. And when it comes down to those choices with teams, you already know which way they will go. Teams would rather pay a young player that has upside and a smaller contract than a guy that an older guy that may command more money. Some fans of teams may or may not like the trend to keep cheaper, younger players, but this is what we are given in today’s salary-cap driven NFL.

The best choice for Reggie Wayne is to accept his time has passed. The veteran wide receiver has played his whole career up to this point with the Indianapolis Colts. With his health declining and with his speed declining, Wayne may not have the same affect he had in Indianapolis. Or even worse, he may not get to have that chance due to getting cut before the season on either of these two teams. Athletes are always on the go and in the end it is their decision when they want to give up the game. But it is also up to the players to actually notice the signs that tell you that it is over. Whether players listen or see the signs is up to them, but Wayne is missing the signs that it is time to call it a career if he steps on the field again.

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PSA: Say No To Homerism

Patriots fans made it pretty clear what they thought this recent incident was about. (photo courtesy of www.blacksportsonline.com)

Patriots fans made it pretty clear what they thought this recent incident was about. (photo courtesy of http://www.blacksportsonline.com)

The passion for sports seems to stir at the very core of all sports fans. You have to love when a fantastic play happens and when a fantastic finish makes goosebumps pop up on your skin. And what makes those moments even better is when your favorite team is on the positive end of that moment. The pride you have for the team you root for goes to another level. And there are some that talk trash before, during and after the great moment that happened. But along with that, there is also the sports fan that takes it too far. We all know that one sports fan that can never recognize when his/her team or a player on his/her does anything wrong. We call this homerism. And it seems to run rampant at times when a supporter of a team does not know when to recognize things. Unfortunately, there is no talking to this type of fan because in their world, the thought that the team they support did something wrong is insane to them. And in the end, they will never believe you. Honestly, if a homer is reading this piece, they probably will not know it’s talking about them, but maybe they will recognize some of the examples here like the everyday sports fan does.

The New England Patriots fans are passionate about their team. New England has been a successful team ever since quarterback Tom Brady took over for Drew Bledsoe. The pairing of Brady with head coach Bill Belichick has led to great success and multiple Super Bowl rings. But this pairing is not without its criticism. Back in 2007, the Patriots were found guilty of taping the New York Jets signals. Now videotaping things is legal in the NFL, but only within certain parameters. The Patriots violated those parameters and it ended up costing them a 1st round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft(31st overall) and the NFL fined Bill Belichick $500,000. In that instance, there were many Patriots fans that felt the NFL was out to get them. And there were even some that were giving off the vibe that there was nothing wrong with what the Patriots did and the NFL was picking on them. Well, if the NFL was picking on them, would the Patriots be as successful as they were as a franchise? I don’t believe they would if the NFL was deliberately sabotaging them and their success. And in the most recent issue, Deflategate, the same feelings have come about again. The feelings of the league is out to come get them despite the commissioner being chummy with the owner of the Patriots for all these years is something that can be laughable at times. And what is even more laughable is the defense of Brady in this one. Brady could be innocent in this matter and he did answer all questions from the NFL investigators. But when he was asked for information from his cellphone, he refused to do so. Ted Wells, the independent investigator on this investigation, even said that he would not take his phone and only take copies of the texts he asked for. Brady and his representation still refused to do so. Instead of viewing that as an act to cover up things, many that are Patriots fans are viewing Brady as right to not do so. Honestly, if it were someone else that was not a Patriot player, then the Patriots fans would not be reacting the way that they are. They would be reacting with the rest of us in this matter. But alas, the homerism has thrown a glaze over their eyes at this point. And in this matter, the team over everything has become the mantra. This instance even has some Patriots fans throwing out there how the suspension is unfair and judging what Brady did on the field to instances where players got in trouble off the field. Newsflash: each case is a separate entity. Not one of these cases has the same premise. You may not like how they are handled by the NFL, but they do not have one thing that is common about them all. But in the end, there will continue to be those that continue to try an tell us that the Patriots are the “woe is me” team and that “the NFL is picking on them” despite being one of the most successful franchises over the last decade.

But this isn’t the only instance where homerism took over the scene. In Cleveland, emotions are high as LeBron James has returned home and brought with him championship aspirations. And when LeBron-led teams face the Chicago Bulls, it seems that tensions always run high. Earlier in Game 3, there was an instance of words between James and Bulls big man Joakim Noah. That began to rise some of the tension in this series. But in Game 5, the game took another turn late in the fourth quarter. Bulls forward Taj Gibson was thrown out of the game after it was perceived, at first glance, that he kicked Cavaliers backup guard Matthew Dellavedova after those two getting into it a little bit down the stretch of the game. But after further glance, it was noticed that Dellavedova actually locked Gibson’s leg where he could not disengage from him. The result was Gibson violently pulling his foot from Dellavedova’s grasp. Looking around social media, there were plenty that were calling Gibson a few choice words and saying that he deserved to be kicked out of the game. But many of those that were yelling that were fans that did not see the entire incident and also there were many that were Cavs fans. Of course the instigator did not get caught in this instance initially and with replay, he should have been caught. But unfortunately, he was not assessed a technical foul until after the game and that absolutely does nothing for Gibson. And with Gibson kicked out of the game, the Bulls could have used him to maybe secure that big rebound or get a big putback in the game. Instead, he was in the locker room and Dellavedova was out on the court helping his team win. But leave it to some Cleveland fans their player’s actions and focus on the opposing team’s action. And even after seeing the video of the instance, some even were still able to put all the blame on Gibson and none of Dellavedova. Now could Gibson have handled that one better? Yes he could have. But that does not excuse the mess that Dellavedova helped cause and instigate. And if you know any of his history from college, you will know Dellavedova has a history of being an instigator. Apparently, that instigator in him has not changed a bit. But leave it to some Cavaliers fans to say he was a saint on that play.

Both are examples of blind faith and belief that some have in their teams. And unfortunately, this is just a small sample of homerism in the sports world. The unfortunate part is this happens tons of times and these are some of the mild instances where it rears its ugly head. It’s all good cheering for your favorite team. But sometimes you have to take the tint of your team off your glasses so you can see things clearly. If you don’t, homerism has taken over your sports perspective. And that disease could be one that you could potentially not recover from as a fan of sports. This is a PSA for homerism. Don’t do it. It can be a plague on your sports life.

Tom Brady Made His Bed. Now He Has To Lie In It

Tom Brady's reaction was probably like this when he heard the suspension news.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady’s reaction was probably like this when he heard the suspension news. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The verdict that many were waiting on has finally come out. Many were wondering if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would have the guts to suspend Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Well, to those that thought he would not do it, he actually made a decision. Brady will be suspended for his role in Deflategate four games along with the Patriots being fined $1 million as an organization and the team also had to give up their 2016 1st round pick along with their 4th round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Although some expected a fine and potentially a loss of a draft pick or two, there were split factions on what the punishment would be. Some believed that he would get a slap on the wrist, while others believed he would get a double-digit game punishment. There were even some that thought he would not get anything at all because of Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s friendship with the Goodell. The suspension is viewed as one that could be reduced and from the looks of things, the NFLPA will be representing Brady in this matter versus the NFL. And for Patriots fans, they are hoping they don’t have to go the entire four games without their megastar quarterback. They would rather have him start the season than to depend on inexperienced 2nd year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. If the organization had their way, they probably wouldn’t want to see Jimmy this early even though they believe in his style. There seems to be a wide array of feelings across the board, but all in all, the Brady punishment is actually appropriate.

0ne reason this case only got four games for Brady was due to what you can do with an under-inflated football. Many tend to say the air in the football has no bearing on a game. Of course when they thumped the Colts in Foxboro, the air in the football could not make a 38 point difference. Indy was just not prepared for what the Patriots had in store. But if it is a close game, the slight deflation could be something that affects a game. For example, the ball becomes softer with less air in it. The air that was taken out of the football was not enough to make it hard to throw the football, but it was enough to help a player grip the football easier, especially in cold weather. The grip of the football could be the difference in throwing an interception and the game-winning touchdown. Another way the under-inflated football could affect the game would be with the running backs. Like quarterbacks, running backs need to have excellent grip as well. One big fumble could cost the team a game, so why not let a little air out so it will be harder to fumble the football. While there is no evidence as to how long deflating of footballs has been doing on in New England, there is a statistic that suggests it may have been going on for a while. In 2010, the average plays per fumble lost was 105 across the NFL. But when you look at the Patriots rate in this regard, it is a total of 182 plays per fumble. Something about that does not sound right because they are so far and away ahead of the curve in this regard. But even with this stat, you never know when this began or when it ended or if it will pick up again at some time. Brady, along with two Patriots equipment people, tried to create an advantage for themselves to enhance the performance of the team. Whether it worked or not, it was something that affected the performance on the field and it could essentially be looked at the same as a performance-enhancing drugs would be viewed. Both are different in their nature and how they happen, but both can affect the performance of a team on the field.

Another reason for this punishment lies within the evidence. The Wells Report went over text messages and things like that. And based off that, the agent for Brady said that the punishment was in no way correct at all. It is understandable where he is coming from, but Brady’s agent did fail to mention something when he talked about the fate of the Brady after this case. Tom Brady was asked to give to the NFL text messages and things like that in regards to this case. Anyone that is trying to clear their name of anything would more than likely turn over the evidence if asked for it so that would prove their innocence correct? Well, in this instance Brady did not turn over the evidence at all. It was stated that he was cooperative with the NFL and their investigation, but that is totally inaccurate. He may have answered some questions when they asked him, but when it came to evidence he lied by omission. For those that are not familiar with that, lying by omission means that you purposely leave out something to almost skew the vision of those that are looking over the case. In this case, Tom Brady purposely did not give up potential evidence he could have had in his phone. And for that reason and not the actually infraction that was committed, he received the initial four-game suspension instead of maybe a slap on the wrist. In the court of law, when you do this, you don’t get praise at all. You actually get in more trouble for doing so. This isn’t the court of law, but the NFL had to do something when they were not being given all the evidence by Brady. With what they had, it was evident they had some dirt on him. But if Brady truly felt he was innocent, he did not do himself any favors by withholding information.

In the end, Brady is going to see some punishment. There is no way around it. Those that hope his punishment goes away after an appeal are not being realistic. Punishments don’t get turned over a ton in the NFL but they do tend to get reduced though. Brady is still one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history and that cannot be taken away from him. But what can be added is a little smudge on his otherwise silver-plattered career in the NFL so far. He has made his bed and now he has to lie in it. The question now is how long will he have to lie.

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