Thursday, July 18, 2019

Mahomes hits the backside of a barn ... or a stadium

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Pat Mahomes is perfect for today's media, the kind of athlete that lights up videos and spikes click-through volumes. His imposing size, dramatic hair and unique voice make him like a video game character and that means he's the ideal candidate for snippets that excite commuters staring into smartphones.

This is no mean feat, gang. Most quarterbacks these days manage games, dink and dunk, and play percentages. They maintain sharp crops of hair, are often of mild stature - compared to Mahomes - and talk in rehearsed soundbites. Even when they get a little loose it tends to be within tight parameters of their coach's game plan.

Not Mahomes. He's a highlight waiting to happen, and even the center of attention when nothing all that much happens.

Case in point: recently reported Mahomes had thrown a football out of Arrowhead Stadium. This wasn't from behind the line of scrimmage but rather a staged event in which he pegged it up and over the bowl-like seating of the arena. The act was even filmed by an NBC News affiliate and then promptly shared by the likes HuffPo, Sports Illustrated and Fox News. It was then posted across other social media channels, as these types of things events usually are.

This is where we are folks, in a world where the pressing need for content - absolutely any content - is required to fill up bottomless media channels.

But that's just par for the course these days. The real study is in dissecting the headlines used to promote such frivolous content. For example, for this little video nugget, a tenuous association to Bill Belichick was even made, as noted the great coach had predicted Mahomes ability to toss a ball out of a stadium. With all due respect Coach, it's not really surprising that the Chiefs QB can launch a football like a bottle rocket. I tend to think most pro quarterbacks could clear the last row. And with all due respect to, if you’re going to report this, you might as well tell us how much toilet paper the Chiefs O-line gets through in a week. I predict two dozen. Unless it's a home game and they're having barbecue.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Chargers blue and fading chances

 Image result for san diego chargers

When I was nine, a buddy of mine brought a Chargers jersey to school for art class. I have no idea where he got it but I assumed it was on a Griswold-style family trip to California.

Praaaiiiiise Marty Schottenheimer!

Why exactly did he need a jersey for art, though? Did he see the whole thing as sport? Was he Dan Fouts super-fan?

Well, each of us were asked to bring in a painting smock and unlike the rest of the class, resplendent in a khaki aprons from Target (or wherever one bought such things) my pal decided that his oversized jersey would offer the perfect defense against loosely splattered paint. He wasn't wrong - his garment was more imposing than Boltman on the beer line. And the dark blue of the then San Diego club would surely disguise most of the potential paint splotches, too.

To that end, sometimes I think Phil Rivers wouldn't mind disguising himself in another colour. I mean has there ever been a better quarterback for a club with more last quarter fiascos? The Chargers typically look unbeatable for 45 minutes of football, before something takes hold, a sort of reverse bolt of energy. A negative charge, if you will. Maybe it's a change of scene he needs to win.

The trouble is nobody wants to see Rivers in another jersey, do they? He's probably got a couple of good seasons left, and I for one don't want the blue memories blotched with red, green, or tiger stripes.
No, Rivers' red faced and rile up in the huddle just wouldn't work without bolts marking his shoulder pads. Here's hoping he strikes some genuine success in Los Angeles. And not just because all the prognosticators have called it, but because Rivers runs an offense better than most, and because however many Charger fans remain deserve to paint the town red ... or blue, as it were.

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Titans emerge - incredibly - as a threat

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is either the luckiest football player in the world or a super genius. No wait - he's something else. Maybe he's a Jedi. Anyone who wears a visor like that might just have Vader-like qualities.

Let's recap Tennessee's last duel:

With the Titans third and goal against the Chiefs last week, Mariota spied a gap and threw the ball toward the endzone, in what should have resulted in a dead play. But no, some manner of hocus pocus intervened. The misfired pass was batted back toward Mariota by a Chiefs defender and, as ones does, he caught his own deflection before diving toward the corner for a touchdown.
What manner of gadgetry is this? Stuff like this only ever happens on the Nintendo field and even then it's usually via a slip of a Dorito-greased thumb.

Mariota said after the game that it was just the 'right place, right time,' but I think we know better. All year long this guy's has been borderline mediocre, fooling fans and gamblers alike with his size and athleticism. One minute he's on, the next it's moon pies back in the cupboard kids. There's just no trusting this squad.

Well, the knives - or swords - are out folks. The Titans are scary. As their sinking ship was set to turn over on its side, Mariota rallied them back and then, finally, somehow, willed a 22-yard strike to Eric Decker with six minutes left to seal victory.

It was so improbable that one can only conclude Mariota has indeed been playing possum, simply biding his time to learn the ways of his footballing force. The guy might be the next coming of Steve Young for all we know.

He'll have to be - the odds makers have his team at 40-1 to win it all.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Hack Job On Hackenberg Begins


Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg just whizzed another pass by his receivers and across the bow of a few journalists. After taming their quiffs, they took some notes and this actually made news last week.

The 24-hour media cycle spins on gang, where loose balls are ideal fodder for loose lips. The problem is such reporting tends to unfairly sink ships before the season has already launched. Some would argue the Jets were already in Titanic mode, heaping water from the decks while the violins play. That may be, but can we at least wait until August before screaming 'Rose'?

Hack attack

It's so early for this sort of conjecture, even by internet standards. Besides, has it ever occurred to anyone that maybe Hackenberg wants to hit reporters with a football? I used to be a reporter and sometimes I want to hit reporters with footballs. Heck, if you gave me a football right now I'd probably toss it at the wall just to rebound it back at myself!

Think about it: You're trying to learn your team, its offense -- just hoping to feel comfortable out there -- and some schmo in khakis and sipping on a V8 is looking for any opportunity to say you're a bust. His pen is eagerly poised against his pad, ready to scribble down any single miscue. Anything. Shoelace untied? Forget about it. Jockstrap on backward? You're gone.

Wouldn't you be throwing a a few spirals his way?!

Even if they were errant throws at an OTA, they were probably sideline lobs that just happened to miss the hands, in which case they'd have landed near reporters who probably shouldn't have been standing so close, anyway.

Of course!

That Hackenberg HIT reporters, as just about every web publication has gleefully reported, is kind of like reporting 'Hackenburg hits his head on the inside of his helmet'. (Please don't copy and paste that last line in your Twitter feed. Fake news is funny and all, but it's also not). It's just so unnecessary and well, boring! I mean it's not like the kid has seen enough on-field time to suggest he'd never heave a few toward the Gatorade tank.

Oh, and just in case you wanted to cement your negative views of Hack, SportsCenter tells us he's the 40th ranked quarterback in fantasy football -- because those rankings usually relate so closely to reality.

Maybe we should all just eat a fortune cookie every morning before making a decision on breakfast.

Thank you notes

Thursday, September 8, 2016

5 Must-Watch Teams on NFL Game Pass

There's always a handful of teams you should bookmark on NFL Game Pass. 
Not because they're ascending to greatness like the Panthers, or because they're endlessly atop the standings like the Pats, or even because their quarterback belongs on a daytime soap like the Texans, but because they're strangely interesting. You know, in a Charlie Whitehurst sort of way.

So here are 5 NFL teams to watch on Game Pass this season:

New York Giants

It's the Big Apple. It's the beloved Big Blue, one of the most unloved teams outside of New York. That means big drama. What further reason do you need? Old Man Coughlin is on gardening leave, there's new and menacing recruits, and there's still a Manning quarterbacking. So you know, buckle up, paisano!

San Francisco 49ers

How one of the sport's most iconic teams went from Super Bowl contender to outright dysfunction is befuddling. Teams like the Niners usually find their way, right? It's in their DNA: Montana. Rice. Craig. Young. And now ... Gabbert? Well, maybe. When your second-stringer gets more headlines than your starter, you know things are about to get weird.

Miami Dolphins

Being a Fins fan in 2016 is like being slapped with a groper. Hard. Who's running this club, anyway? That cadre of scantily clad celebrities? And why doesn't the dolphin in the logo wear a helmet anymore? That's clearly the wrong message in the concussion era, isn't it? Then there's young Tannehill. Can he throw down field, yet? The answer to that one is yes, provided you have no target in mind. All that said, what a mix of story lines.

Minnesota Vikings

They have a flash new billion dollar stadium, a new creaky veteran quarterback, and the breathless hopes of frigid fan base desperate for success. It's a moving story. At least there's still that furry horn-hatted dude ripping around on a chopper to keep hearts warm. Oh, wait ...

San Diego Chargers

Like a musty old bear at the city's famous zoo, the Chargers are constantly worried about moving house. Who moves from San Diego though, outside of a crazy NBA owner? Is this even worth discussing? Just sit back and sip on a Yellowtail, and watch Rivers zip the ball into the sun splashed horizon.
Honourable mentions:
  • New York Jets - FitzMagic, or fits of panic?
  • Jacksonville Jaguars - Still don't get the two-tone helmet. Do you dip it in water or something?
  • Chicago Bears - The offensive line has been sured up. Over to you Jay.
  • Houston Texans - Will Oz play, or bail to watch his girlfriend sing in the choir?

Buffalo Bills get no love in rankings ... and you know Rex likes it that way

Power rankings are a strange and cruel beast, sort of like Rex Ryan after a Quarter Pounder binge.

Often arbitrarily constructed, they tend to be short on logic and long to digest. Just how official are these things, anyway? About as official as Adam Gase's genius status, we'd say.

So how can we combat them? How can we reorganise what's been so carelessly jumbled? (I feel your pain Matt Warren of Buffalo Rumblings. We're here to help).

Don't poke the Buffalo

Let's just tackle it one team at a time. And what better place to start than Buffalo, where the home town Bills are treated like sons, and yet ranked like SOBs by people with access to the internet.

For example, Bleacher Report has the Bills 22nd on its before week 1 rankings. They also have the Jags 17 and the Raiders at 11. So, you know, why stop there? Why not say the '79 Bucs are among the greatest teams of all time?

SB Nation places the Bills slightly higher at 18, but then say the Jets are just one better.

For a more official ranking you could turn to, which has the Bills in 16th, with a nice blurb from Elliot Harrison about making the club great again.

USA Today seems less optimistic about Buffalo, starting with the line, 'Summer was unkind to Rex Ryan ...' Woah. Take it easy, America's paper. We were just joshing. Now you're taking it too far. They have the Bills at 19.

The World Wide Leader is slightly more generous, suggesting an 8-8 season, with a 16 ranking. Still ... does Boomer know about this?

Yahoo targets holes in the defence at season's open, with a harsh 20 ranking.

And don't expect any support from the gang at Fox Sports, who say it's playoffs or bust for Rex and Co. They've dropped them down to 22.

Then there's everybody's favourite online writer, Mike Florio, who has the guts to stash Buffalo at the bottom of the heap at 29. Don't fret Bills Nation, Mike has the Dak Prescott-led Cowboys at 14 and the Sam Bradford charged Vikings at 11. There's no adequate way to interpret this behaviour, though there are like 25 different 'Talk' tabs across that NBC site, so maybe Mike's logging too many hours.

Perhaps we should leave the last word to one of best comments on the PFT page from firecracker87:

  1. firecracker87 says:Sep 5, 2016 1:00 PM
    The Bills won the off season; why aren’t they at #1?

Well played sir.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Let's get Monday Night Football back to being iconic

By J.P. Pelosi

*NFL's MNF started tentatively in 1964, untelevised 
*The 'spectacle' as we know it kicked off in the seventies
*First game saw the Browns beat the Jets 31-21, Sep 21, 1970

Football on Monday night seems a grand idea, no matter which way you dial it up.

Unless you're Tony Robbins or Hugh Hefner, most weeks start with a thud, a cold hard realisation that work awaits, the clothes hamper is festering and dinner might well be frozen.

Indeed, many of us need the relief of Monday night sports to ease us into the five day circus. But there's a problem: the ringmaster has found his way into our TVs to mess up Monday football, too.

Take the first two Monday games of the upcoming NFL season: Steelers - Redskins, Niners - Rams. Sure, they're interesting enough teams, and I get it, an east coast match-up complimented by a west coast clash. But this is the once legendary Monday Night Football!

Cossell, Gifford, Michaels, Madden. Marino. Plunkett. Montana. That freaking fantastic theme song... ba ba baaaaam ... ba baaaaa ...

How did it all become so, well, pedestrian?

Surely Giants - Cowboys would see more chips spat across living rooms. Chargers - Chiefs, too, would ignite some action. But there's a weird shift toward airing second rate contests, a trend that's making Monday sports fixtures feel blander than date night with Bill Belichick.

A rugby scrum of content

It's the same issue with football in my backyard, the National Rugby League (NRL). Instead of being a beer cracking, after-work barbecuing extravaganza, Monday NRL games are really an afterthought.

I'm not even sure most fans know it's on, and that's largely to do with it being a cable TV offering only. Perhaps the TV stations are just happy to lock big deals in with sporting codes and the games have become throwaway details. Or maybe with all the content flying around now, programmers simply don't know what constitutes a feature game anymore.

Either way, rugby league won't be played on Mondays anymore and columnists are already rejoicing. Given its soft crowds, Thursday Night Football could well be next.

Strength in numbers

The NFL can get away with a casual strategy because of the size of the US population, and more importantly, the sheer number of cable subscribers. NFL games attract massive crowds, both to the stadium and the box, so there's no real danger of losing fans over, say, a lazy Jags - Bucs game. Oh, they'll be watching, even with three sheets to the wind.

In Australia, however, cable isn't as prevalent. Even if it was, I don't think fans care enough about Monday's night of football because the fixtures are rarely appealing, and consequently, crowds a smaller than at local kids pantomime. It's not a good look.

Top shelf old boy!

One sporting competition that seems to have the gist of things is the English Premier League, which sometimes will serve up a Monday nighter for the ages. Take a recent affair between London rivals Chelsea and West Ham: The Telegraph called it a whizz-bang of a match. No messing around, just give the people what they want.

The NFL equivalent might be heated iteration of Pats - Giants, or Packers - Bears. Not the Rams (sorry LA), just because you have a new stadium to show off. Or the Skins because, I don't know, it's an election year?

Pretty packaging enough?

Listen, you have to love the nostalgic themed intro by Peter Berg that ESPN's MNF now uses. It's perfect. I'm in. But the scheduling needs work. It needs to draw a throng and fill the stadium. It needs to set digital recording boxes into a frenzy. And certainly test a few marriages.

The point of non-weekend football is to make it an event, right? You know, something you put your best undies on for that day. We have to want to rush home to kick off our shoes and fire up the grill.

Otherwise it just ends up being something we click on and move past, eventually landing on something with more action, like The Bachelor.

Mahomes hits the backside of a barn ... or a stadium

Pat Mahomes is perfect for today's media, the kind of athlete that lights up videos and spikes click-through volumes. His imposing siz...