The 2014 NFL Season has gone through its first four games. As we horse racing fans would say, the field of 32 teams are at the quarter pole. I think that this has been a very weird season. I don’t know how to describe the beginning of the season, other than weird. Instead of discussing games, we fans and media types are discussing domestic violence, child abuse, and a Commissioner who might be fighting for his job
I’ve seen the NFL in strike-shortened seasons. I’ve seen the NFL go through a Lockout of the players, which got resolved just in time to save the 2011 NFL season, and possibly the sport itself. I have even seen coverage of many NFL-related scandals. However, these past four weeks have been unusual, and the fallout is not over.
In this blog, I am going to discuss my observations of the first four weeks of the 2014 NFL Season. I am going to talk about action on the field. I will be discussing off the field activity, and I also plan to comment on the media and fan reaction. I will be using a new literary device. Instead of using, “The Good, Bad, and the Ugly,” I am going to use “Thumbs Up” and “Thumbs Down.”
For the first four weeks of the 2014 NFL Season, here is what I thought deserved the following:
- The Cincinnati Bengals, and their support for Devon Still.
I live in Lexington, KY. Therefore, I live in Bengals country, so every Sunday, I have to put up with “Who Dey” chants. I follow the Pittsburgh Steelers, so I obviously don’t root for Cincinnati. However, when a baby has cancer, your NFL allegiance doesn’t matter. Not only do the Cincinnati Bengals have a very good team this year, but they have very big hearts. Rookie Devon Still has a baby daughter, Leah, with cancer. Not only did the Bengals keep him on the team, so he could help pay for his daughter’s medical bills, but jerseys were made to raise money. Sales of the jerseys tallied to over $1,000,000. Even New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton bought 100 of the jerseys, and Still thanked Payton on ESPN2’s “Mike & Mike” show. As of this writing, Devon Still’s daughter had successful surgery to remove the cancerous growth. This is an awesome story. The Bengals are a wonderful organization to reach out to help.
- Houston Texans J.J. Watt makes early case for NFL MVP.
Talk about Mr. Fix it. Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt can do it all. He can be a Defensive End. He can be a receiver, who could catch TDs. Watt can intercept a ball, and take it to the house. He can even be great in that NFL Mobile commercial. Seriously, J.J. Watt is an awesome athlete. I honestly don’t know what those Texans would do if they didn’t have him. Andre Johnson doesn’t seem to be himself. QB Fitzpatrick is not what I call starting material. J.J.Watt is carrying the team on his back, and that, to me, that is the definition of an MVP. The award is the Most Valuable PLAYER.
I know, realistically that the Associated Press can’t measure what J.J. Watt is doing by a stat line. I know that J.J. Watt is not a QB, so, I realistically know that J.J. Watt is up against it. That being said, I seriously think that J.J Watt should be considered an early MVP candidate. I just wish that the Associated Press would think outside the box sometimes when voting on these awards,especially the MVP Award.
- The Subjects of Domestic Violence and Child Abuse being brought to the forefront.
As I have said in my previous blog, “The NFL Is A Mess,” instead of the NFL being an escape from reality, many real life events have started to permeate the sport we NFL fans love. On the other hand, a good thing can come out of all this. The NFL is a huge sport in viewership and popularity, and with non sports media, such as CBS News covering the Ray Rice case, and the Adrian Peterson case, perhaps society will learn some things about domestic violence. Perhaps people will start a dialogue concerning domestic violence and child abuse.
At my Episcopal church, we have a weekly Adult Education Class called, “The Wired Word.” The class discusses modern issues and how we as Christians should be responding to them, according to the Scripture. Recently, the subject was Adrian Peterson’s child abuse case, It created a very lively dialogue. I also hope what happened with the players involved, and especially how the teams and the NFL chose to handle, or not to handle these issues will change society in a positive way.
- The NFC East appears to be better than first thought.
I remember how the sports media, were all over the NFC East. I even thought the NFC East was going to be a one team (the Philadelphia Eagles) division. As much as I can NOT stand Jerry Jones and his Dallas Cowboys, I have to give them credit. They are 3-1. QB Tony Romo is having a good season, so far. Their defense is not all that, but they are holding up. There are twelve more games to go,so I am going to be cautiously optimistic. The Eagles lost to the 49ers, but they still look decent on offense. They have defensive issues though. The New York Giants look like they’re coming around. From all the talk, it looked like the G Men were going to be one of the worst teams in the NFL. However, QB Eli Manning didn’t forget how to play the position, and Coach Tom Coughlin didn’t forget how to coach. The defense is looking a lot better. Washington is a mess, but there’s, at least for now, three teams that are looking fairly decent at this point in the season.
Now that I have given some items that deserved some Thumbs Up, it is now time to give some Thumbs Down to the following:
- The NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Ray Rice case.
The subject of Roger Goodell could be a blog in and of itself. However, for this blog, I am very disappointed in how he and his office mishandled the Ray Rice case. I don’t buy any of his explanations His recent press conference (announcing all these new initiatives that may include reducing his power) didn’t help him any, at least, not with me. I’m still having a hard time understanding how TMZ got that tape, and Goodell couldn’t. I don’t think the Commissioner’s office is prepared to deal with domestic violence and child abuse cases.
What’s worse is the NFL and its image has taken a huge hit, and the 32 owners don’t seem to care. They’re backing Goodell because he’s done what they’ve hired him to do, and that is make them money. In speaking of owners, I’m not buying what Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti is trying to sell either. Anyway, two prominent owners, Giants owner John Mara, and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, hired former FBI Director Robert Mueller to lead an independent investigation into the handling of the Rice case. Some “independent” investigation.
- The AFC East: Does anyone want to win it?
The worst division in the NFL, at least for now, is the AFC East. I am amazed. All four teams are in some sort of mess. The Dolphins look like world beaters one week, and look awful during the following week. I know Knoshawn Moreno is a few weeks from returning from injury, but really? The Bills started out 2-0, but fell back to earth. They benched E.J. Manuel for Kyle Orton. Jets Coach Rex Ryan is trying to stave off a QB controversy, as starter Geno Smith is having a hard time dealing with rude fans, and the spector of backup Michael Vick. The team has injuries in the secondary, and Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg needs to do a better job. Smith isn’t great, but the play calling isn’t helping. The Patriots have a lot of offensive problems, but despite popular belief (thanks to ESPN), their problems are NOT with the QB. Is Tom Brady struggling? Yes. However, he’s the least of the problems (blog coming). Coach Belichick and Josh McDaniels need to get their heads out of their rear ends. Offensive line coach needs to get his act together.
- Washington is a disaster.
If people want to see a real, not manufactured QB mess, look no further than Washington. When starting QB Robert Griffin III went down to injury, everyone jumped on the Kirk Cousins bandwagon. As fans have been noticing, Cousins has been dreadful. He’s a backup. He was shell-shocked in that Thursday Night Game against the Giants. Just from watching how the entire team responded to Cousins, I could tell that it was Griffin’s team.
- Overreaction from fans and media.
I am very familiar with what is called, “Overreaction Monday.” It’s when an NFL team loses or wins and fans/media go crazy. It happens every season, but I have never seen such mania like this. It lasts a whole week. People are trying to decide how good or bad a team is week to week. I think it is insane.
Of course, many fans and media have agendas, and they like to make mountains out of molehills. Some of the hate and double standards that permeate the sports media and social media to the point where you can’t decide who is reporting responsible news or just expressing opinion disguised as news. Many people act as if an opinion is fact, but one checks the meaning of the two words, one will discover that’s not the case.
For example, like the aforementioned Brady, New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers are leading struggling offenses. The Saints got destroyed by the Cowboys. They lost on the road to both the Atlanta Falcons and the Cleveland Browns. The Saints barely defeated the Minnesota Vikings at home, where they’re virtually unbeatable. The Packers got bullied by the defending champs, the Seattle Seahawks on opening night. In the game against the New York Jets, if it weren’t for Aaron Rodgers and the Jets’ incompetence, the Packers would have lost to them also. Rodgers told folks to relax, and he and the team recently took care of the Chicago Bears.
Now why aren’t media types like ESPN’s Trent Dilfer, Mark Schlereth, and Stephen A. Smith calling out these two QBs? I don’t see Profootballtalk’s Mike Florio taking shots at Brees, saying his “talent is disappearing,” like he said about Brady, recently. I mean, every team is different and each situation is different. I realize that. As I said, I have problem when people who are supposed to be covering sports, insert their own agendas. I just don’t get the double standard, here. How can Stephen A. Smith complain about Brady dancing in the pocket and getting sacked, when his man, Rodgers is also behind a shaky offensive line? According to the Sack Leaders board, Aaron Rodgers is tied for 5th place at this point with 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick, with 10 sacks, and Tom Brady is 7th with 9 sacks. ( http://espn.go.com/nfl/statistics/player/_/stat/passing/sort/sacks
) I know that Stephen A. Smith is on a debate show, and he’s an entertainer, but I just think he comes across as ill informed. Many less informed fans will buy into what he says.
I go after ESPN quite a bit, because in my opinion, they’re the WWE of sports reporting. Everything about that network is scripted. All the commentators have agendas. The viewer knows which commentator is going to say what about what team or player. When ESPN wants to really push an agenda (player, controversial play, etc.), real or manufactured, the network will shove it down viewers’ throats like WWE shoves John Cena down WWE fans’ throats. Like many dumb things on WWE programming (Bo Dallas, Adam Rose), ESPN just dumbs down sports reporting.
As for the NFL fans, the hate and hypocrisy from them is even worse. Most of what I am seeing on social media is not worth repeating. It just appears to me that both fans and the media need to take Aaron Rodgers’ advice, and relax. You can’t decide a team is good in one week and then decide it stinks the next. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
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