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Posts tagged ‘NFL’

Why you should love college football

Above is the ending of the Auburn-Georgia game in 2013 that helped keep Auburn undefeated. At the time, it seemed like it might be the craziest thing that happened in the SEC last year.


If you’re a dude, you invariably get into a lot of bar conversations across your 20s and 30s (and logically beyond) about whether you’re an NCAA guy, an NFL guy, or something else. When the fall comes around, this is a much bigger topic; I’ve been in two of these discussions just today. There are arguments on all sides and ultimately it’s a personal decision, but I’m an NCAA guy. Read more

So, the Seattle Seahawks could become a dynasty, right?

The Super Bowl was terrible last year — phrased another way, the Seahawks are really good. The last time any NFL team won back-to-back Super Bowls was 2003-2004 (the Patriots). Begs the question, obviously: can the Seahawks do that, and can they become a legitimate dynasty in the mold of the 1990s Cowboys and all that? Here’s a few arguments on either side.

Yes, They Can Become A Dynasty

1. They were the second-youngest Super Bowl winning team ever, with an average age of just over 24 years.

2. They basically don’t lose at home — aside from one regular-season loss to the Cardinals last year, the last time they had dropped one in Seattle was Christmas Eve 2011. The last time the team lost a playoff game at home was 2004 — and Russell Wilson was probably about 13 then.

3. If Jim Harbaugh punts on the 49ers after this year, that takes away the biggest challenge to Seattle. (Yes, Arizona was good last year and might be for the next few years, but the biggest challenge to Seattle in the division and probably the conference right now is SF.)

4. They seem to have the right attitude:

“When we came back in, there was no talk about repeating,” receiver Doug Baldwin said. “It was (about) going back to the basics.”

No, They Won’t Become A Dynasty

1. Injuries can always be a thing.

2. Once you get a Super Bowl, there’s this notion of “target on your back” and “distractions.” Many teams fall prey to it. The Seahawks have a stable leadership pipeline, but they too could fall into it.

3. Long-term contracts and prioritization of the stars — if Wilson gets paid, and Harvin gets paid, can the O/D-Line get paid? And if they start to walk, what happens then?

4. Flip-side of the Harbaugh argument: let’s say he stays in the Bay Area for a long time. He’s just been to three consecutive NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl. He’s clearly knocking on the door. At some point, one of his teams will knock it in. They’re always right there with Seattle in big games, for the most part. Who’s to say they won’t be again?

5. The rise of the Cardinals (although their QB is older), the Rams (very young team), or a team like the Eagles or Saints (or Panthers?) could be a threat to them in the broader NFC.

6. Remember how, a few years ago, we all thought the Packers were going to become a dynasty? That hasn’t happened yet. So we should all pump the brakes here a bit.

What’s your take?


No one seems to want to attend Tampa Bay Buccaneers games

The last time the Bucs won a playoff game, it was their Super Bowl win — back in 2002. That might be correlated with this: in 2013, they were 29th in the NFL in home attendance; in 2012, they were 31st; in 2011, they were 30th; in 2010, they were 31st; and in 2009, they were 27th. Phrased another way, they’ve been in the bottom seven of NFL attendance for the past half-decade. Part of this is on-field performance, of course — and part of it could be the location of the stadium, which is essentially near Tampa Airport:

This post goes into a little more detail on the supposed erosion of the Buccaneer fan base, blaming it on these reasons:

  • The economy
  • Bridges burned by the Glazer family (owners) after the Super Bowl was in Tampa
  • Fair-weather fans
  • The big-screen TV generation

You could broadly probably add “Florida” to that list; the area typically has good fall seasons, and Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa Bay — admittedly, none of those three teams has been very competitive in the last couple of years — tend to all be in the bottom third for attendance. The “economy” argument makes sense in this context too; Florida was one of the worst areas in terms of the 2008 economic downturn, specifically as relates to property. I buy the “big-screen TV generation” thing to an extent, and that is something the NFL will continue to struggle with down the road. The fair-weather fandom is interesting — get this:

Yet, ironically, the Fairweathers aren’t coming either. In 2010, when Bucs posted a 10-6 record, Tampa Bay had its worst drop in attendance – only filling up Raymond James Stadium 75% of capacity per game on the year. Tampa Bay’s attendance actually improved to 86% of capacity in 2011 when the team followed up its winning season by getting off to a 4-2 start, but this season – after the collapse at the end of 2011, many of these fairweathers are taking a wait-and-see approach. Tampa Bay fans have filled the stadium 82% of capacity this season.

You could also argue that part of the problem was the team starting 0-7 in 2013.

Here’s another broader argument the NFL will struggle with going forward:

“The NFL ticket has priced itself out of the middle class,” said Lighthall, “the average ticket is 75 bucks, and you take a family of four for a three- hour event. If I’m going to pay that much I’m going to take them to Disney World, and we’re going to walk till we can’t walk anymore.”

This happens to a lot of sports, but the NFL is a bigger deal than most — and there’s a lot of stuff to do within about a three-hour drive of Tampa in any direction, so it’s a little bit different than maybe Green Bay (also, the culture of the Midwest and Florida are obviously very different as regards generations, passions, etc.)

All this said, the Bucs are about middle-of-the-pack when it comes to NFL team valuations; they’re roughly No. 17 according to Forbes.

No one has repeated as NFC South champion ever. Odd, right?

Get this: since the NFL went to eight divisions in 2002, the NFC South has never had a repeat champion. Don’t believe me? Lookie here:

NFC South Division Winners

If you go through the other seven conferences, they’ve all had some sort of mini-dynasty — or at least repeat winners. Consider:

AFC East: Patriots win it fairly often

AFC North: Steelers and Ravens have both repeated as division champions since 2007

AFC South: The Colts won it from ’03 to ’07

AFC West: Chargers won it four years in a row in the mid-to-late 2000s

NFC East: Eagles won it the first three or so years after the eight divisions were founded

NFC North: Vikings won it in ’08 and ’09; Packers have won the last three

NFC West: Seahawks won ’04 to ’07; Niners won ’11 and ’12

Kinda crazy that in 12 years, considering the Saints have won a Super Bowl in that span and the Falcons have had a couple of 12/13-win seasons, no team has ever repeated as NFC South champion. If it’s going to happen this year, that would mean Carolina would need to win the division again. Hell, they could.



This NFL Draft is a big night for H-Town: Houston Rockets haven’t won a title since 1995, Houston Texans have never been to a Super Bowl, Astros haven’t been relevant since 2005. Is “a savior” coming?

Above is the end of Game 4 of the 1995 NBA Finals. The Rockets swept the Magic (with a young Shaq) and won their second consecutive NBA championship. That was the last championship the city won, which is about 18-19 years. That’s not as bad as San Diego — which hasn’t won anything since the 1963 AFL Title — or Cleveland (1964 NFL Title), which is often held up as “the most tortured sports city.” But still, the Houston misery is becoming a thing of its own.

A few years ago, the Texans were considered one of those soon-to-get-over-the-hump teams; they kept losing in the AFC Divisional Playoffs, which is fairly far to go (that’s Final 4 for the AFC). They couldn’t clear that hurdle of the Ravens/Patriots/Broncos, though, and now they’re back at almost Square 1 (admittedly, there are pieces there). Tonight’s a big night for the franchise: mega-watt (potential) QB or fear-of-God DE? The Colts are good, but otherwise, that’s not an amazing division they play in. The top of the AFC — Broncos, Patriots — do have amazingly elite QBs in their late 30s, so could a good pick here mean an eventual changing of the guard in that conference? Theoretically, it could.

Houston doesn’t have a hockey team, but MLB + NBA haven’t been great in these 18 years either. Here’s the Rockets since that 1995 NBA title: Conference Semis, Conference Finals, First Round, First Round, No Playoffs, No Playoffs, No Playoffs, No Playoffs, First Round, First Round, No Playoffs, First Round, First Round, Conference Semifinals, No Playoffs, No Playoffs, No Playoffs, First Round, First Round. If you’re scoring at home, that means they went from 1997 to 2009 without winning a playoff series, then won this series in 2009:

… and haven’t won another since, despite winning more than 50 games four times since the ’06-’07 season.

The Astros made the World Series in 2005 (swept by the White Sox, which interestingly is Chicago’s only baseball title since the early 1900s), and since then their loss totals hath been: 80, 89, 75, 88, 86, 106, 107, 111. Right now they’re 10-24; extrapolated, that’s another 100-loss season. The last team to lose 100 games in four consecutive seasons were the expansion New York Mets of the early-to-mid 1960s.

Now, admittedly, the Dynamo are pretty good.

Here’s the thing: the narrative around the 2014 NFL Draft will likely center largely on Cleveland, especially if they end up with Johnny Manziel. But while Houston is a big, great city (I’ve lived there on two different occasions), its sporting history is also largely tortured, especially in the modern era — so what they choose to do at No. 1, and what means to their franchise, is also massively important to the civic engagement of one of America’s five largest cities (and where all the jobs seem to be).

When CBS pushed aside Dan Marino for Tony Gonzalez, was it a straight-up ‘asshole-for-good-guy’ trade?

FOX’s NFL pre-game show — with Curt, Terry, Jimmy, Michael et al — kills CBS’ show in the ratings, so this off-season, CBS had a shake-up: Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe out, Tony Gonzalez (recently retired) in. Things like this had been speculated for a month or so, although the exact names weren’t known. Sean McManus, who runs CBS Sports, has also hinted that another pre-game guy is coming in, but hasn’t announced the name officially. The breathless anticipation index for that would be topped by Peyton Manning (if he can’t play anymore off his next physical) but will probably be someone much less notable.

On the Sharpe front: he was clearly set up as the outspoken, not-necessarily-the-most-coherent, opinionated former player on the show. Sometimes I thought he was the best part. He’s “sad and disappointed” but will probably land another gig in the next few weeks. The most logical idea for Marino is a return to the Miami Dolphins, who just came off a media-unfriendly season with the whole Richie Incognito thing. (Marino was briefly SVP of the Dolphins, like Elways is with the Broncos, about 12 years ago before leaving and ending up at CBS.)

The thing is, though — Marino may not be the best guy out there. You’ve got the whole love child thing, this brief snippet on Yelp (search “Marino” within the page), this thread, this blog post, this post, etc, etc. You shouldn’t believe everything you read — you’ll get a parking violation and a maggot on your knee – and that’s especially true on the Internet, but a semi-consensus seems to be that Marino isn’t a great guy, all told.

If you look at the CBS move strategically, Gonzalez is another long-time NFL’er who never won a Super Bowl … but his reputation is semi-sterling. He’s even won The Good Guy Award, for chrissakes. CBS getting him and hopefully keeping him for a few years means that pre-game desk in three years could be JB, Cowher, Boomer, Gonzalez, and Peyton Manning (assuming he doesn’t want anything to do with coaching). That’s an all-world, mostly-good-guy lineup that could challenge FOX for those 4-5 million eyeballs watching the pre-game stuff.

If you don’t think this is all a big move — i.e. something CBS almost had to do — read this article from The Hollywood Reporter. Prime-time NFL was basically the priority at CBS; a lot of the marketing and promotion of their other shows revolved around that decision. With their pre-game suffering on Sundays and a potentially bigger platform on Thursday nights, they need a fresh outlook — and a good guy in there, not a love-child-hiding ex-QB. Again, in America, your brand – be it real or perceived — is everything.

Hello, friends: Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are probably working 23 NFL games as announcers in 2014

Some people love the Nantz/Simms pairing, and others hate it (I think you’d find that about most lead announcing crews for any sport on any network; no one is completely revered, even Pat Summerall). Next year you’re going to get a lot more of them, because CBS picked up half the Thursday night package — and while the other half will still air on NFL Network, Nantz and Simms are the guys calling those games. They’re still calling Sunday games too, although it looks like they might get some weeks off. They’ll probably only call Sunday games when CBS has the 4:25pm ET national window of a doubleheader; that’s about eight games, plus 14 Thursday games, so … about 23 games. By contrast, the Buck-Aikman team will call about 19 games or so counting the NFC playoffs, and the Michaels-Collinsworth team will call about 19 too, counting the Super Bowl (on NBC next year). There are a couple of interesting things about all this:

1. The NFL Network, minus their studio crew being involved in Thursday night pre-game/halftime shows, is now completely out of the game production business side of the NFL; that’s all FOX, CBS, NBC and ESPN.

2. Oftentimes an announcer/production crew will get into the game city on Thursday for a Sunday game, meaning that on the eight weeks Nantz/Simms are working Sunday, they’re likely headed to the Thursday city on Monday/Tuesday and the Sunday city right after the Thursday game is done and wrapped … so Nantz’s wife, Courtney Richards (came after a public divorce from his first wife) may not be seeing him a ton in the fall.

3. Simms just does NFL, but between this 23-game schedule, college basketball, and golf, Nantz is probably on the road 45 weeks between August 2014 and August 2015, and he’s probably been to every mid-size to large airport in America by now (do CBS jets land at airports?).

4. CBS already dominates almost every night of the week, from NCIS to NFL/60 Minutes to Big Bang Theory to everything else. (Big Bang might move to Monday because of this move.) It’s going to be nearly impossible for any network to catch them with the slate of original shows they have + two days/nights of NFL. They don’t have Sunday Night Football or the Super Bowl, so those are tough losses numbers-wise, but almost everything else TV-wise in the next 16 months will point to CBS.

I personally like Nantz and Simms as a team, although they can be a little sanctimonious at times. There’s no other team on CBS that should have the top slot right now; don’t you dare say Gumbel and Dierdorf ever deserved it before the latter retired this past year. Ian Eagle-Dan Fouts is alright, I ‘spose. I’m not necessarily sure the world is ready for 23 “Hello Friends” this fall, but Joe Buck 23 times might be more egregious.

I’m not sure if Nantz is getting a raise for the extra dates, but he makes somewhere between $5-7 million per year as is, although he does pay about $1 million per in alimony. (In fairness, his ex-wife seems like she was loving spending the money.)


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