Broncos sign Prater to four-year deal

John Elway announced the Broncos have signed placekicker Matt Prater to a four-year deal:

Happy to announce we have signed kicker Matt Prater to a new four-year deal. This was the final piece in setting our roster for camp, and we are thrilled Matt is going to be a Bronco for a long time. Matt has developed into one of the NFL’s elite kickers and is a big part of our team.

Denver had used its franchise tag on Prater earlier in the offseason, but the seventh-year kicker had not signed it, and skipped the team's recent OTAs with negotiations ongoing. The two sides had faced a July 16 deadline to agree to a long-term deal.

Updated 10:41am ET July 3, 2012 to correct statistics (PFR is missing Prater's 2009 distance splits)

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Shame on Mark Kiszla Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! There's nothing happening in the football world, but one can always rely upon the Denver Post for low-hanging fruit to bat around.

Mark Kiszla wrote a blatantly xenophobic column about the Nuggets' draft the other day, got called out for it, and his reaction is rather pathetic.

It's this simple: the lazy, ugly angle Kiszla took is no better (and hardly any different) than criticizing the pick based upon the color of the guy's skin or the way his name sounds. It's one thing to stir up one's readers to debate an athlete's skills, but it's altogether something else to incite them over a player's country of origin.

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1990s Broncos inspired RGIII to play football Lard

Good Afternoon, Broncos fans! Only days after pushing late kickoffs back 10 minutes, the NFL will reportedly make more important changes to improve the gameday experience for both ticketholders and home viewers:

  1. Teams will have the flexibility to set blackout thresholds as low as 85%, allowing teams to both add seating and avoid blackouts
  2. During replay reviews, fans in attendance will be able to see the same footage as officials
  3. Fans will no longer be on their own when it comes to creating noise before key downs; of course, this will be key with the wine and cheese crowd at SAF@MH
  4. Some or all stadiums will finally have free WiFi
  5. Smartphone apps will allow fans to listen to mic'd up players

All of these changes are welcome and long overdue, especially those first three items. Along with the later kickoffs and the coming availability of All-22 film, the league has taken several fan-friendly steps of late. It's not often we say this, but well done, NFL.

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Donovan McNabb is starting to sound like Terrell Owens Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Yesterday marked the first annual Drive for Dinger, a golf tournament held at Vanderbilt to honor the late Mike Heimerdinger. Of course, Dinger was a longtime Broncos, Titans, and Jets coach, and the college roommate who saved Mike Shanahan's life after he had ruptured a kidney during practice at Eastern Illinois.

Shanahan, Gary Kubiak, Rick Dennison, Jay Cutler, and Brandon Marshall were among those who gathered in Tennessee yesterday to honor their late friend/coach. Said Kubes, "I really miss him. It’s still hard to believe."

The kindest words for Dinger surprisingly came from Marshall, who tends to be quite stingy in his praise for coaches:

That first year, he was on me. He treated me like a rookie, but it was for my best interest. He has a talent for pushing people to the limit, but keeping that respect there, getting the most out of people and also showing them love at the same time.

RIP, Dinger.

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Weekly Limerick Schtick

You can stop emailing me. Back by popular demand, it's peanut butter jelly time--otherwise known as IAOFM's Weekly Limerick Schtick.  This week's topic? Demaryius Thomas' route tree:

Demaryius Thomas so free
did not run the routes from the tree.
But the Teebs is gone,
replaced by The Don
of quarterbacks John could decree.

Take your own shot--if you've got something clever and can remember the finer arts of anapest meter. Or you may be drunk.  In that case, just try and rhyme without passing out.

27-year-old ex-NFLer suffering “almost total loss of function” Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Another sad story has emerged regarding the health of a former NFL player, although it's not the typical tale of a longtime player suffering in his 50s or 60s. This time, it's a 27-year-old whom Tampa Bay drafted in the second round of the 2007 Draft. Arron Sears left the Bucs in 2009 under worrisome circumstances, as the Tampa Bay Times reported at the time:

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers held offseason workouts in mid March, guard Arron Sears was there. But he wasn't the person teammates and coaches remembered. He was distant, even for someone with his shy demeanor. Sears participated for several weeks, until shortly after the team's minicamp in April, when he simply stopped communicating. He was unresponsive when asked questions. At times, he resorted to replying in writing.

Unfortunately, things haven't gotten better for Sears, on whose behalf his parents filed a suit claiming the NFL, helmet maker Riddell, the Bucs, and other teams were negligent and withheld information on concussions and their effects. A portion of the suit reads:

Sears has almost total loss of function, is unable to care for himself and cannot take (care) of his day-to-day activities. Further, Arron Sears has extreme displays of temper and anger with the appurtenant risk of causing harm to himself and others.

According to the TBT, Sears has been taken into protective custody by the police on several occasions in the past two years, and the lawsuit, which has two other ex-Bucs as plaintiffs, says Arron is now under the guardianship of his parents. Let's hope things take a positive turn for Sears and his family, as unlikely as that may seem.

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NFL pushes 4:15pm kickoffs back 10 minutes

In a move sure to help Broncos fans miss fewer great endings and Denver kickoffs, the NFL announced it will push back all 4:15pm ET kickoffs to 4:25pm ET.

According to the league's research, over the past three seasons, doubleheaders forced TV networks to switch away from 66 games that were still ongoing. The NFL says this 10-minute shift would have prevented 51 of those Heidi-style preemptions.

Although this was likely not a problem for Broncos fans in the Mountain West viewing area, those of us who live elsewhere have all experienced the agony of waiting for some Jaguars/Titans snoozer to conclude while we miss Denver's opening possession or two. Sometimes, of course, this serves to save us from even worse pain, ala the 59-14 drubbing by the Raiders in 2010, when many of us were spared Oakland's first two scores.

Updated 12:24pm ET

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Thanks to ESPN, nightmares do come true Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! This will thankfully be taking place past my own bedtime, but for those of you who will stay up to watch the second half of the Week 1 MNF doubleheader, you'll be stuck listening to Chris Berman and Trent Dilfer calling the Chargers/Raiders game for the Worldwide Leader. If anyone out there doesn't know why this is one of the worst events in the history of the world, here's a thoughtful melange of reaction from around the web to help clarify things:

Drew Magary: Berman truly believes he's an NFL institution, and that means you're going to spend the whole evening being reminded of it. He's gonna make it painfully aware to you that he's doing a game for the very first time, at long last. He's gonna say THEHHHHHH RAYDEEZZZZZZ 900 times.

KSK: Naturally, we can expect large quantities of CARSON “DON’T CALL ME ROBERT” PALMER DROPS BACK AND ZZZZZIIIPPPP PICKED OFF BY ERIC “WEDDLE WE GO NOW” AND WHOOOOOOOP AND WHOOOOOOPP AND HE. MAY. GO. ALL. THE. WAY. THEYRENOTGONNAGETHIM until our brains extrude through our ears. And with Dilfer’s self-serious act as the chaser, the mute button shall be our only recourse.

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Happy Birthday, John Elway!

John Elway turns 52 today. Happy Birthday, John - and Thank You.

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Dontari Poe and drafting defensive linemen

Quoth the draftniks, Evermore: You will always draft the largest man on the board. It will lead to riches and wins.

Draftniks sometimes lie.

There’s Edgar Allen Poe, and then there’s Dontari Poe - one could write brilliantly, the other is simply huge. At 6-3 and 346 pounds, Kansas City’s future at nose guard may be tied to Poe’s ability to play the two-gap nose position. Poe is without question a huge man with surprising athletic talent. The question that’s going to have to be answered is whether he fits the slot for which he’s been chosen.

Dontari Poe looks every inch and every pound the ‘monster in the middle’ kind of nose guard that odd-front teams all over the NFL are looking for. Head coach Romeo Crennel is drooling over his chances of turning around the team’s fortunes. There was a lot more than Poe to KC’s draft, but despite all the clamoring about him and his potential, there’s something that people aren’t talking about.

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