In a bit of a departure from the standard Story of the Week format, I thought I would take a look at the Week That Was around the NFL. Or, if the forthcoming litigation wars derail football as we know it, then stories like these could be a harbinger of the future.
First from the NFL Cares files comes this gem straight out of a Dallas shopping mall….
You know it's a slow time in the football calendar when the following story is:
b) taken seriously
c) ferociously debated
d) sadly all of the above
At the heart of this scandalous story lies a public relations battle between two star crossed talents – each of whom have displayed a level of ridiculous pretentiousness not seen since the time Ray Lewis found God.
"He needs help. He needs help," Sanders said. "I told the Cowboys from day one that he needs help. Matter of fact, they have a team in place to help him. But you cannot tell a grown man what to do."
"I wish Deion would come to me as a man and talk to me," Bryant told ESPNDallas.com. "I've been reaching out to Deion. I've never done anything wrong to Deion or disrespected him. I've never lied to Deion."
I suspect this matter could be quickly resolved with some mediation. However, unlike the recent talks between the NFL's owners and labor union, perhaps former NBA star Allen Iverson could provide a breakthrough?
"We're talking about pants. Pants. What are we talking about? Pants?"
Yes, sadly – we are talking about pants. And unfortunately, this story has legs – pardon the pun. Based on the comments posted by readers across the Internet, evidently Bryant's sagging drawers is a major social concern – especially for people who associate fashion with the decline of American civilization.
However, what's even more laughable is the idea that somehow Sanders has become both an elder statesman for the league, as well as a tutor for America's youth. Evidently, "Primetime" doesn't want his youth football protégé following in the footsteps of himself.
Or even worse, the 2021 NFL Draft is going to feature a host of players who have no knowledge of tackling fundamentals – but have already signed shoe deals.
Speaking of tackling….in a figurative sense….
The truth is that the next Josh Cribbs might never come to light as a game-changing force in the NFL. Devin Hester either. That's just the nature of the beast though. The game is forever evolving.
To borrow from WFNY, the game certainly is evolving. However, for as much change as we have witnessed in the NFL over the past few decades, I'm not sure if the NFL is actually ascending from its prior forms. Because of the reactionary nature of the league, it seems the NFL rule makers are stuck in a paradox. Because of the volumes of new brain trauma research suggesting that football is actually a dangerous sport, the NFL is now futilely attempting to regulate a game that is completely resistant to such efforts.
Nothing short of replacing tackling with two-hand touches will remove the threat of danger from the game. Doing anything less is completely hypocritical – at least if the league wants to be taken seriously in its efforts to promote player safety. But of course, then the game of football will have completely evolved into something that none of us actually want to invest our time in.
Regarding the kickoff changes, the league has pretty much come full circle. While this newest move reflects a backhanded attempt at promoting player safety, it's worth recalling the early 1990's when the production of NFL offenses rivaled the days of Red Grange. During this time, the NFL became a contest of field goals – which wasn't exactly appealing to casual football fans.
To fix the problem, the NFL enacted a rule change which moved kickoffs back to the 30-yard line in an attempt to give struggling offenses better field position. This was just the beginning, as offensive production was further accelerated thanks to a variety of rule changes that rewarded teams who threw the ball. Sensing the evolutionary shift, most teams followed suit and the game grew into a high-scoring, entertaining product.
However, to come full circle – now it appears that a league-wide aerial attack is producing massive on-field collisions – the kind that the NFL has now deemed worthy of concern. So, how does the league react? Do they target teams who employ untested quarterbacks – the ones who lead their receivers over the middle of the field into danger?
No. This idea would make too much sense and potentially damage the league's product. Instead, kickoff returns have become the whipping boy for league safety. After all, it's not like a kickoff returner could prove to be the face of an NFL franchise or a marquee attraction for fans. Right?
Speaking of fans….how about this one?
"It's a fight between billionaires and millionaires," Lanci said Friday in a telephone interview. "There isn't any sympathy for multi-millionaires. It's just not going to happen. And somebody has to stand up and say, 'Enough's enough.'"
And to add to Lanci's statement, somebody also has to stand up and say "Look at me", or maybe "I will yet again run for public office."
If such a lawsuit was actually legitimate, I'm preparing one against Dwight Clark for the personal injury he inflicted upon me during the 1999 and 2000 drafts.
And speaking of real fans, here's a better explanation from Cleveland Frowns.
We're as optimistic as anybody is, but we're thinking of Todd Philcox dropping back on 4th and 57 here.
Finally, regarding all things optimistic, it looks like the Browns finally caught a break of sorts…
At first glance, it appeared that the Browns were finally showing some progress in their decade-long climb out of expansion. Typically, compensation picks are awarded to teams who lose free agents during the prior offseason. This in itself shows some progress if a free agent is deemed worthy of signing by another team – then naturally, the whole of the former team's roster is improving. However, in the Browns' case, a compensatory pick was awarded simply based on collective bargaining rules which mandate 32 total picks spread across the league. The extra picks are distributed based on draft order.
While the 247th pick in April's draft may not sound like much, it's worth remembering just how many holes the Browns need to fill among their roster. In a hopeful sense, the Browns could find a player like Donald Driver, Marques Colston or T.J. Houshmenzadah – all former seventh-round picks.
Or at the least, they could find someone of a higher caliber than this guy….