It has been a very emotional week for the NFL to say the least. Last year a young man privately took a knee during the National Anthem in what he believed to be a personal statement of the oppression of his fellow human beings. One year later a response from the President of the United States has forced every single NFL team to respond with a sign of solidarity.
Early this morning in London, England, the Baltimore Ravens and the Jacksonville Jaguars answered the POTUS by several players taking a knee and others standing, but all locking arms in unity. Jaguars Owner Shad Khan stood pregame, locking arms with his players as he was the first owner to show his support. Following the game he made this statement:
“It was a privilege to stand on the sidelines with the Jacksonville Jaguars today for the playing of the U.S. national anthem at Wembley Stadium. I met with our team captains prior to the game to express my support for them, all NFL players and the league following the divisive and contentious remarks made by President Trump, and was honored to be arm in arm with them, their teammates and our coaches during our anthem. Our team and the National Football League reflects our nation, with diversity coming in many forms-race, faith, our views and our goals. We have a lot of work to do, and we can do it, but the comments from the President makes it harder. That’s why it was important for us, and personally for me, to show the world that even if we may differ at times, we can and should be united in the effort to become better as people and a nation.”
Every team participated in support in one way or another. For example, all the players for the Pittsburgh Steelers did not leave the locker room during the national anthem, with the exception of left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, an Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan. He stood at the edge of the tunnel standing with his hand over his heart. As for the Chicago Bears, they stood, arms locked as a team with the full support of their coaches and owners.
“It’s happening again—another national game and another national embarrassment,” I thought as the New England Patriots marched down the field and easily scored the first touchdown of the game.
And then RB Kareem Hunt, very talked up in the Kansas City press, fumbled his first NFL carry–the epitome of a facepalm moment.I grimaced as the quarter continued and the Patriots seemed to be on offense again instantly, marching down the field for their second touchdown.When replay showed the catch wasn’t in control and the six points nullified, it gave me a little peace.
Then, the Kansas City Chiefs defense made a spectacular stop on a fourth-and-one play.“Well, at least the defense is looking respectful,” I admitted.Then the Chiefs went 90 yards and scored, tying the game, and holding the Patriots to a field goal on their next score but allowing another touchdown 15 minutes later.Right before the half, KC scored another touchdown.Now the butterflies in my stomach were going to town.
There are a few teams in the NFL that haven’t had it easy nor made it easy on themselves, never meeting their potential and not pulling through in the critical moments like key games and playoffs.The Chiefs are one of those teams.Having not won a Super Bowl in almost 50 years and very rarely making it through to the higher eschelons of the playoffs, they have deservedly earned the adjective “Chiefsiest”—as in last year’s Pittsburgh game was the Chiefsiest thing ever—developing and playing to your potential during the season and then putting on a disappointing performance when least affordable.
But, something happened at Foxborough.The Chiefs started believing in themselves, and kept themselves in the game.Keeping the score within a winning gap through the first half.And Hunt kept getting the ball and atoning; Alex Smith had something to prove, and boy did they both shine.Continue reading “Welcome to the 2017 NFL Season”→
After their fourth consecutive losing season in 2014 (3-13), the Jacksonville Jaguars made some big moves in the offseason. The team drafted Dante Fowler Jr and TJ Yeldon and landed Julius Thomas and Jared Odrick, among others, in free agency. The additions were deemed a giant leap in the right direction. What followed, however, was yet another losing season (5-11).
That was followed by a second busy summer of transactions in 2016. Jacksonville acquired Tashaun Gipson, Chris Ivory, Malik Jackson, and Jalen Ramsey, and many pundits declared that the Jaguars had ‘won’ the offseason. They were widely considered the dark-horse of the AFC. What followed was yet another losing season (3-13), their sixth consecutive.
Now, ahead of the 2017 season, the team has spent big in free agency again, acquiring Calais Campbell, AJ Bouye, and Barry Church, and brought in another top draft pick in the form of stud running back Leonard Fournette. But there is some hesitancy to board the Jags’ hype-train. Optimism has been tamed because we’ve seen this movie before.