Enjoy the game, everyone!
Happy Super Bowl Sunday, Broncos fans! The NFL hosted their first ever awards show last night - Aaron Rodgers was named league MVP, Drew Brees took Offensive POY, Terrell Suggs the Defensive POY, Jim Harbaugh the Coach of the Year, and Matthew Stafford was named Comeback POY. Of course, Von Miller took DROY and Cam Newton was his offensive counterpart.
Meanwhile, six players were named to the Pro Football HOF yesterday: Jack Butler, Dermontti Dawson, Chris Doleman, Curtis Martin and two AFC West stars - Cortez Kennedy and Willie Roaf. Did any of these players perform on a level different than that of Terrell Davis and Steve Atwater? I think not.
Running back Curtis Martin and four linemen were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, along with one senior committee choice.
Martin is the fourth-leading rusher in NFL history. He is joined by Chris Doleman, Cortez Kennedy, Willie Roaf, Dermontti Dawson, and senior selection Jack Butler.
Jerome Bettis, Cris Carter and Bill Parcells were among the finalists who didn’t make it.
Von Miller's dominant season earned him the AP's Defensive Rookie of the Year award in a vote that wasn't nearly as close as expected. Miller took 39 of the 50 votes, while Niners DE Aldon Smith received the other 11 votes. Drafted second overall out of Texas A&M, Miller was credited with 11.5 sacks, 64 tackles, four passes defensed, and two forced fumbles.
But Von wasn't just exceptional relative to his rookie status - PFF rated him the best linebacker in all of football. His 50.3 overall rating nearly doubled the next best 4-3 OLB (Daryl Smith, 27.6) and easily beat the second best overall linebacker (Cameron Wake, 43.4). PFF also credited Miller with 12 sacks, 19 QB hits, 29 pressures, and 41 stops to go with zero missed tackles.
Sometimes these writer voted awards are popularity contests (like the HOF votes which were just announced), but they got this one right. Congratulations, Von!
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Two more groups of ex-players have filed suit against the NFL regarding its handling of head injuries, including HOFer Leroy Kelly, former Broncos first-round pick Ashley Lelie and perhaps most interestingly, NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger. At some point, Baldinger is going to speak up about his experiences, and the NFL and their network are going to have a delicate situation on their hands.
In related news, the Sports Legacy Institute, which is led by Chris Nowinksi and collaborates with Boston University in studying the effects of CTE, is suggesting that the number of blows to the head suffered by youth football players be tracked. Says Nowinski:
We have to find a solution for the children, who are most at risk, and the guidelines will help us get there...We have to recognize the (physiological) differences. They're not little men, they're children.
We'll have to have the guts to put down a number on paper and say, 'This is a rational goal. This is what kids should be under.'We're not anti-football. But we are pro-child.
Thurday's AP article which focused on players' injuries recalled for Times Op-Ed writer Joe Nocera an article written 36 years ago by Clark Booth - as Nocera tells it, that piece was the first to honestly address the long-term health consequences facing players. Former Cowboys TE Jean Fugett talks of crying when his own son accepted a football scholarship, and he suggests that tackle football not be played before high school.
Tim Tebow is wearing jeans in his new print ad for Jockey
Despite all the hype Tebow is bringing Jockey this week, the front of the company’s website features two unknown models (one of whom looks like a less-sour version of the lady from “Gray’s Anatomy”) engaged in some light sparring. If I’m paying Tebow the big bucks, I’m putting him on every page of that site and letting him model everything, whether it be tightie-whities, boxers, briefs, socks, ladies activewear or sports bras.
I've got nothing...
Broncos' John Elway hires new cap guru Mike Sullivan
The Broncos did not renew the contract of Mike Bluem, their longtime capologist, and replaced him with Mike Sullivan, who oversaw Octagon Sports agency football division, and has been negotiating player contracts for the past 25 years.
Bluem had been with the Broncos for 17 seasons working closely with general managers Ted Sundquist, Jim Goodman and Brian Xanders.
Sullivan created the option bonus — which is really a second signing bonus — and one-time playing time bonus in player contracts. They are now common part of the more lucrative NFL contracts, including almost every first-round draft pick.
One has to wonder what Elway thinks of Brian Xanders, as Elway continues to change the front office personnel structure surrounding the X Man.
Being knocked out in a football game is not a painful event at impact. It is a dimensional vacuum through an extremely narrow wormhole. It is a piano falling on your head in the middle of your recital. It’s a system reboot. My adrenaline was always too high to feel the pain of a hit, anyway. When I came to, I didn’t know where I was. You’re lying on the grass, Nate. The crowd is roaring. But what are they roaring about? Oh, yes, it’s for you. You got knocked out. Yay! His brain is bleeding!
Even in my cranial reboot phase, I knew that at that moment, they’d be replaying the hit in slow motion. I also knew that my mother was watching back in California. And I knew that Greek was holding my head and neck. So I started moving around my legs and arms to let my family know I wasn’t paralyzed.
And hard booze found its way into the lemonade in my Dixie cup. I approached our team doctor as the flight closed in on Denver and asked him if he could give me something for the pain. He said the best he could do was one Vicodin and one muscle relaxer. “Really, Doc? That’s it? You’re gonna make me hit the streets for this one?”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Friday that NFL Network will air 13 games during the 2012 season.
Goodell said NFL Network will expand its current eight-game “Thursday Night Football” package starting in Week 2 and running through Week 15.
Man, it sure will be interesting in a few years when the NFL goes to a 24-game schedule with three-day turnarounds and 48 teams across four continents, right? As Bart Scott would say, CAN'T WAIT.*
Happy Friday Broncos fans! Several notable ex-players who are suing the league for its handling of head injuries during their careers spoke to the AP about their experiences. Among them was former Broncos RB Tony Dorsett, who rightly thinks the league should provide retirement healthcare for players:
"Yeah, I understand you paid me to do this, but still yet, I put my life on the line for you, I put my health on the line," Dorsett says. "And yet when the time comes, you turn your back on me? That's not right. That's not the American way."
"They were hitting me, and I'd be squealing like a pig," Dorsett says, imitating the guttural sound. "It was so bad that the other team was telling our coaches, 'Get him out of the game.' You know that something's wrong then. And like a fool, I stayed as long as I could. They're going to our sideline, telling our coaches, 'Get him out of the game!' ... You know it's bad when the opposition feels sorry for you."
"The owners need to own up to it, own up to what the game does to human lives. There's a zillion football players in the same situation with their brains, their backs, their knees. Come on. They just need to own up to it, and do something about it. They've got money they can put in funds to take care of guys when they need to help," Dorsett says. "We need health insurance for life. Paid by the NFL. No question in my mind, we definitely need that."
"They use you up. No matter what the circumstances are, it's all about winning games, football games, regardless. And they don't care, because they figure, you know, 'We got, you know, replacement factories,' which are colleges. And there's going to be somebody else to eventually come along and fill that void," he says. "So they just put you out there, and feed you to the wolves. And if you make it through, fine. If you don't, that's fine.
Dorsett frames the NFL's reluctance to care for its ex-players as being un-American. But that's too narrow a point, for this is not about American values. It's about humanity.