A dream that has been floating around for many years and has finally found a voice through the Alliance of American Football.
The league came about as a way to appeal to the undrafted college players, the tossed aside unsigned NFL players and former coaches. It is an opportunity for a chance at redemption and to be a part of a league that gives players a stage to prove they have what it takes to play in the NFL. Below are a few things we learned from the inaugural kickoff:
Old and untapped running backs and wide receivers show their skills.
Former first-rounder for the Cleveland Browns, Trent Richardson bounced around the NFL but proved he still had game with 2 rushing touchdowns, 23 carries, 58 rushing yards, and a fumble for the Birmingham Iron.
Keep an eye out for RB Jhurell Pressley of the Salt Lake Stallions. He went undrafted in 2016, bounced around five different NFL teams but was impressive in the opener with 18 touches for 84 yds, 2-2pt conversions, and a receiving TD.
The New England Patriots pulled out another win, hoisting for the 6th time the coveted Lombardi Trophy. It was not the epic game of the century, and it did not excite the masses.
But despite the typical performance of quarterback Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Julian Edelman, it is fascinating how the Patriots seem to resurrect the careers of players whose athletic efforts have been stagnant.
Everyone talks about the non-existent Bill Belichick coaching tree, but it may be because they are looking at it all wrong. The coaching tree actually morphed to the players on the field who came from other teams. Players who were the epitome of the walking dead until they came to life in New England. Whatever it is that Belichick is serving up in training camp, these free agency players are getting the banquet of a lifetime, in the form of Super Bowl rings.
One year ago on January 30th, quarterback Alex Smith was traded by the Kansas City Chiefs to the Washington Redskins. The trade was to display the unbelievable talent of QB Patrick Mahomes and to usher in a new era in Washington.
Smith signed a 4-year contract worth $94 million dollars to help a franchise who kept falling short of the goal with QB Kirk Cousins at the helm. In his first debut for the Redskins, Smith threw for 255 yards, two touchdowns and gave them their first win against the Arizona Cardinals.
But in a horrific event in Week 11, against the Houston Texans, Smith went down writhing in pain to only be carted off the field. His injury was later determined to be a compound and spiral fracture to his tibia and fibula. Frankly, it was the worst injury Smith could have received as it became the eerie replica of the Joe Theismann injury 33 years to the day. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there for Smith as he incurred several infections that required additional surgeries.
The Dallas Cowboys made it to the Divisional Round only to see their season end against the Los Angeles Rams, finishing with a 10-6 record and champions of the NFC East.
Despite the demands of some fans and media analysts that believe it is time for head coach Jason Garrett to go (including myself), there is someone who could take the offensive play calling to a whole different level. That someone is former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
Romo was ousted out of his job as signal caller in Dallas after an injury in preseason paved the way for then rookie, Dak Prescott to earn the coveted job. After a spectacular rookie season in 2016 and a 13-3 record, Romo knew his time in Dallas was over. He was even seen on the sideline of the final game saying, “Wow, it is his time.”
On a beautiful sunny California day, 197 athletes from all over the nation came to compete and showcase their talents at the Pasadena Rose Bowl. Though their week was filled with rain and mud, that did not stop their drive to make their coaches and teammates proud.
Lead by former head coaches Mike Tice and Chuck Pagano, the NFLPA Bowl would produce a cache of future NFL superstars and expose them to the expertise of veteran players who still have their hand in the game they love.
Heartbreaking does not describe the feeling of every Chicago Bears fan after the devastating loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field. A one point differential. One point. That has been the staple all season, getting close and squeaking out a win.
This was the wild card game against a team the Bears helped get in to the playoffs by beating the Minnesota Vikings in Week 17. But it was a game the Bears should have won and it should not have rested on the leg of a kicker who had been inconsistent all season.
I could sit here and go over the details of what happened that led to a last-second field goal. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky struggled in the first half. He did not give up the ball but his throws were not there. Workhorse running back Jordan Howard was shamefully unused as he had only 10 touches for 35 yards. RB Tarik Cohen was less, at zero rushes. ZERO!
It was 31 years ago that a strange eerie fog rolled into Soldier Field in a critical NFC divisional playoff game between the Chicago Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles. It was a beautiful brisk day in Chicago and clear skies. But there was a cloud of uncertainty between the two teams.
Eagles head Coach Buddy Ryan was going head-to-head against his former team, a team he had built a fierce defense with that dominated in 1985, resulting in a Super Bowl title.
In 1988, the Eagles had the worst pass defense in the league. This year the Eagles rank 30th in passing defense, while the Bears rank seventh. Back then head coach Mike Ditka said that “if we don’t beat ourselves we can win this game”. I would say that same statement would apply today for the Bears going into the playoffs this Sunday. But for the 88’ Eagles, that was the case as they could not score a touchdown due to penalties, including some that negated two touchdowns in the first half.
It has been a long time coming, but the Cincinnati Bengals have finally parted ways with head Coach Marvin Lewis.
After 16 seasons, Lewis’ tenure is over in “Who Dey” nation. For the past several years there was speculation as to why the Bengals held on to Lewis for so long, but it was simply their trust and respect in how he managed to turn around this team, a team that sat below .500 for several years prior to 2003.
Lewis took over the head coaching job in 2003, when he replaced Dick LeBeau who tanked the Bengals for the worst win percentage in franchise history. Lewis improved the Bengals to winning seasons with a band of young players such as quarterback Carson Palmer and receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
He was voted AP Coach of the Year in 2009. His regular season record, 131-122-3, holding just above .500. But it was his postseason record, a sad 0-7, that was always black mark on his coaching record.
Christmas is literally around the corner and the Chicago Bears already stuffed their stocking with an NFC North division title.
Intertwined with that title came a win against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field (which was long overdue), the trade of linebacker Khalil Mack from the Oakland Raiders and five players in the Pro Bowl, Khalil Mack, safety Eddie Jackson, defensive end Akiem Hicks, cornerback Kyle Fuller, and running back Tarik Cohen.
But I’m sure Santa Claus isn’t going to stop there, right? The Bears were really good this year!