NFL — 2016-17 Style
For reasons not quite clear to me I have delayed my annual NFL commentary to over a month after the Super Bowl. Perhaps I assumed it would require more effort and thought because we no longer have Peyton Manning to ponder. But, now, I think “Nah-h-h-h…I was just procrastinating.” Pretty straight forward, now that I think about it: Unbelievable SB LI, rookies can take over if you give them a chance, and NFL front office has at last, perhaps, started doing something useful and begun staring at its own navel.
The NFL got perhaps its finest example of a fairy tale Super Bowl; if only it could bottle it and open its likeness every February! Usually I have mixed emotions over who is in the Super Bowl when I have “no dog in the fight” (no Cowboys or Buccaneers). Those mixed emotions are based upon the old traditional bias of going with the “old” NFL conference, the National Conference, over the “old” AFL conference, the American Conference (confusing franchises like the Steelers and the Colts notwithstanding). So, I’m pulling for the Falcons, but it never felt “all in,” for I’ve always been on Brady’s side over the stupid “deflate-gate controversy.” To suspend “Tommy” for four games over the PSI in the “hog’s bladder” is nonsense to me. So, back in my mind, as the game started, I thought how sweet it would be for Brady, Belichick, and the Patriots to win and plaster egg all over Goodell’s face; sort of a “karma” thing to me. But, winning the game after being down 28-3? It was like karma wanted to make a statement with ten exclamation points at the end! I felt sorry for the Falcons; players like Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and their whole defense deserved better than that! The NFL brass got what it deserved, but the Falcons should have won that thing; it was like they showed their inexperience and thought they had it won going into the second half. Nonetheless, the “poster boy” for the all-year work-out NFL player, for the good ‘ol “Protestant work ethic,” Tom Brady himself, was in the end triumphant. (Also, I have to admit it was “way cool” to see the most “spaced-out” Aggie ever, Martellus Bennett, win a SB ring, just like his brother with the Seahawks, Michael.)
What a windfall for the Cowboys, those two rookies, Dak and Zeke! Just when you think all players need “breaking in” before they become NFL starters, people like these two happen. Of course, that dynamic duo and all us Poke fans know the reason for the incredible 2016-17 season was that great offensive line, which stayed relatively injury free. Were it not for that unbelievable sideline pass by Rodgers, the Pokes would have played for a SB berth. That’s how good the defense was all season also. Tony’s leaving the team is bittersweet to say the least; expect him back working for Jerry after he hangs up his helmet. The upcoming draft will tell us how high our Cowboy hopes should be for next season, but for now, we need to savor this one.
The NFC South felt good to me this season. Seems all four, the Falcons, Bucs, Saints, and Panthers were improved and more competitive. Elsewhere I liked the Chiefs, Vikings, Seahawks, Broncos, and Cardinals, though that Seattle/Arizona tie made me put off the NFL for at least 50 seconds or so. The possibility of the Raiders going to LV is just too intriguing and pirate-like not to come true. We shall see. And when, when, will the Texans get the QB they need? I sure enjoyed the Houston season also.
The NFL brass made some headway on self-identity this season. I saw signs of stopping treating millionaire abusers of women like children, and of facing the problem of closed head injuries like responsible adults. But the front offices of the NFL still have a long way to go. I think that it needs to get behind ideas like postponing participation in football for young boys and like changing at all levels how tackling is taught and coached. Penalty for tackling leading with the helmet needs to be reviewed, especially the consistency of what is penalized. Still think the day is coming when playing football at all levels will be considered legally like volunteering for combat duty. And, by the way, love the introduction of women as officials; I thought the “rookie” did a great job. Are other roles for women in the NFL opening up in future?
Wanting to keep this short this time, so until next Super Bowl, may your team not suffer those awful throwback uniforms (Who cares what the Bears wore in the 1940’s?) and may you have some financial windfall in the coming year allowing you to afford attending more than one NFL game next season. Is it too early to talk about the horror of the stands being filled by only the rich?