Preseason. The time of the year where we start to itch for football but aren’t quite committed enough to make it past the 3rd quarter when each game is dominated by scrubs we’ve never heard of. Time to focus on a few headlines/random thoughts that come up around this time each year…..
1. The Hall-of-Fame Preseason MVP Soon To Not Be On The Roster
Chad Kelly. Brady Quinn. Kyle Sloter. As an enthusiastic but fiscally poor Broncos fan, I’ve seen other fans lose their minds in person at Mile High/Invesco/Sports Authority/Just Name It Bowlen Stadium when a backup QB gets on a hot streak in an August night game. The “Kelly” chants I heard last year made me think I’d been transported to Buffalo back in the 90’s when Chad’s much more talented and mature uncle was leading the Bills to the Super Bowl four years in a row. There are people who still won’t shut up about Sloter (you will know them by their Tebow jerseys). Is it fun to watch young guys and cast offs do well in the pre-season? Heck yes. But that doesn’t mean they should start.
2. Training Camp Cliches
I like to follow the NFL in the offseason, mostly for the draft and free agency. This time of year there is so little substance because of timing. Teams are only competing against themselves, and who has anything negative to say?
“We’re looking REALLY good right now in 7 on 7 drills”
“Player X coming back from injury looks sharper than we expected, heading towards a speedy recovery”
“Now that coordinator x has had a full offseason to implement the offense, guys are DOING as opposed to THINKING”
“We’re flying under the radar, and going to be much better than all those haters think. We definitely don’t listen to the criticism but also paradoxically are using said criticism as motivation”
“Cowboys are going to the Super Bowl. WE DEM BOYS”
3. Fantasy Football
I’ve played fantasy football for the last ten years (weird flex), and I still have fun playing with my family. This doesn’t stop me from getting instantly annoyed when people tell me who is on their fantasy team.
I’m not sure which is worse; the arrogance from picking the obvious (bro, I got Julio Jones. Wow, what a risk on your part), or people who love their team so much, they build it with all their favorite players from said team (I took Tony Romo number 1 overall because I love Tony Romo more than Jim Nance and CBS loves Tony Romo. Have you heard Tony Romo broadcast? He called a pass play on 2nd and ten, you don’t hear that from other announcers. My second pick would have been Sean Lee or Leighton Vander Esch, but you can’t draft defensive players. Tony Romo’s 4th quarter percentage is ridiculous over his playing history, and he’s so underrated despite a terrible playoff record. He never had any help his whole career. Dez Bryant was my 3rd pick. He’s still on the team, right? We’re about to party like it’s 1992, WE DEM BOYS. #sheagles #dezcaughtit
Packers fans do this too. The only reason I know who plays TE for Green Bay is fantasy football, so I guess that’s something.
Please don’t tell me about your fantasy team. Please. Unless you’re going to give me money when you win, let’s both assume we would do equally was well if we let the computer auto draft for us and accept it’s a bummer we can’t be more involved with our teams.
And no bragging that you won a week when you didn’t check your lineup and have 4 players on a bye. Seriously, the stakes have never been lower.
4. Ridiculous Fan Expectations and Hot Takes
There is never more optimism than right now for fans of each team across the league, largely because of free agency and the thought that last year’s underperforming team is vastly different than this years….um…. probably underperforming team. I’ll start with my own team.
· “The Broncos will finally break through and make the playoffs!!!!!! Miracle run to the Super Bowl! John Elway is back to being amazing!”
I mean hey, anything is possible. Maybe Patrick Mahomes and Philip Rivers try playing left handed all season long and Von has a sack on defense every other play and opposing QB’s throw to CHJ (best cornerback in the league) for fun.
I think the Broncos have the chance to be better than they’ve been the last 3 seasons. The roster is better on defense, and I think the team has moved on from the “but we won Super Bowl 50”, both on the field and as a front office. But this division is again going to be tough, and I don’t think Joe Flacco is the savior and Lock isn’t ready, yet. A .500 season may have fans groaning, but it would be a step in the right direction. Even if this team managed a 10-win season, that may not be good enough for a Wild Card spot. Hang in there Bronco Country! At least Coach Vic won’t talk about how well the team practiced in his post-game presser.
· “Browns are a Super Bowl Team”
Remember a decade ago when the Eagles signed some talented defensive free agents to an already stacked offense and proclaimed themselves the Dream Team? That didn’t work out well as they finished 8-8.
I hope this team does well. I love Baker Mayfield. The offense with OBJ, Landry, Chubb, and Njoku is going to be fun to watch. Freddie Kitchens seems less like Michael Scott er I mean Hue Jackson and more like a coach that both fans and players will respect.
So what gives? Well for starters this team needs to win the division to earn some of the high praise. The Bengals are rebuilding and their best player may be hobbled to start the season. Despite the defections of Antonio Brown and Le’veon Bell, I still expect Pittsburgh to be a tough out, and same for Baltimore going into the Lamar Jackson era.
Even if this team makes the playoffs, they’re going to likely have to contend with the Evil Galactic Empire that is the Patriots, or Mahommes or Rivers coming out of the AFC West. Would I love to see Cleveland vs. New England in the AFC Championship game? Yes. Just think of how many stories they could tell about the age differences between Brady and Baker. Riveting stuff.
But seriously, go Browns, I hope you have a great season and OBJ only throws the occasional tantrum.
· “Our team signed free agent X, so we’re going to be much better”
The Jets sign Bell. The Raiders sign Antonio Brown. Ryan Tannehill goes to Tennessee (the joke here is that Tannehill is awful, but could still be better than Marcus Mariota. When will teams learn to not draft Oregon QB’s?). If you’re banking on a free agent signing making your beloved team 5-6 wins better than last year, don’t fool yourself. The only time I’ve seen that work is with a QB that is probably on their way to the Hall of Fame. Think Peyton Manning to Denver, Kurt Warner to Arizona, Drew Brees to New Orleans. And all those great QB’s had help.
· “Tom Brady is old and a system QB, he’ll show how washed up he is without Gronk. Giselle isn’t even that pretty”
Haha. They say Father Time is undefeated. Brady and the charismatic Belichick, as long as they’re together, are still the favorites to win it all each year. Some former rugby/soccer/lacrosse player you and I have never heard of is probably going to have 800 yards receiving and 10 TD’s this year for the Patriots. And similar to the train Johnny Cash hears in Folsom Prison, they just keep rolling down the line…..
5. Hold Out’s
All the cool kids are doing it. Zeke, Trent Williams, Melvin Gordon, Michael Thomas until recently. And they should hold out. Why would you risk getting hurt when you can hold out and hope some team (preferably the one you’re already on) will sign you to a contract that means when you retire, you never have to work again.
Do athletes spend money on stupid things and go bankrupt? Sure. That doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a huge payday. And why would you expect 20 and 30 year olds who have never been wealthy to suddenly become wise investors when they sign contracts that make them millionaires? These young men are cashing in on themselves.
Zeke is the best running back in football. Why would he play under a contract that doesn’t posit that fact?
“They should play under their contract. They signed it. They owe the employer.”
No league gives a crap about the players, they care about money and money only. Most of us regular employees earn either a salary or hourly wages. If I work at a company for 10 years and make $10 an hour the entire time I’m there, I’m probably a terrible employee. And despite being a terrible employee, I’d still want to make more money and would at some point ask for a raise. And there is a very small chance during that time that I would become so injured I could never work again in that industry. But if that happened, I’d get replaced by the company in a heartbeat.
I believe Michael Thomas’s rookie salary would have paid him 1.5 million this year. He’s one of the best receivers in the game. His salary would have paid about half of what this year’s best Fortnite player won in a tournament. Hey, free market, it’s pretty sweet to be a 16-year-old and get paid now doing what we were told would rot our brains a generation ago. Can we talk about the Fortnite dancing though? Or am I just an old man? Anyway, Michael Thomas now has a $100-million-dollar contact with over $60 million guaranteed. Anyone who says they wouldn’t take a job where they could make 100 times more is lying. If you’re a great NFL player, please hold out and cash in on your unique skills so that you can take care of yourself, your health, and your family for generations to come. Or blow it all on opening car washes and bad jewelry investments. It’s your money.
6. The “I want to speak to a manager” mentality of hurt feelings because athletes you don’t know disagree with you
It’s hard to find something that annoys me more than braggadocios fantasy football owners or Fortnite dancing (maybe highlights of receivers catching one handed in practice), but here goes!
This year, any time you feel the urge to say something bad about Colin Kaepernick or how NFL players don’t respect the flag or the president on a Sunday afternoon Facebook post, please remember your views aren’t absolute God ordained truth.
If you want to burn your jersey because a player supports Black Lives Matter or kneels during the anthem, give it to me instead! Same with tickets or any other type of memorabilia. I love that players use their platform to speak their views, (which is just my opinion) even if I don’t always agree with them or even understand what they’re protesting. But I promise you, they aren’t intentionally trying to disrespect you or your cousin or uncle or great granddaddy who served in WW2 or Blue Lives Matter or All Lives Matter. You just aren’t that special. Which I shouldn’t have to tell a group of people who is determined to call the opposite side snowflakes, but I digress.
If for whatever reason you just can’t get over the fact that people coming from totally different circumstances aren’t targeting you, again, please give me your stuff. Message for details.
Go Broncos! Do the things! Win the games! Please let me take the under (+/-3) on how many times I throw the remote at the T.V. this year.
Maybe I should do a college football post. Did you guys know that the Sooners have back to back Heisman winners? Pretty cool right? No, we (I’m including myself because shut up) haven’t won a championship in a minute. Neither has your team, unless you’re an Alabama fan, which let’s get real, you probably can’t read so you’ll never see this anyway. Your coach is less interesting than Bill Belichick. Let that sink in. Ok, I’m done.