Written by: Melissa
The NFL season kicks off in a month and while I’ve been glued to my TV watching the London 2012 Summer Games, I’m pretty excited for the NFL season to start. Here are the 20 things I’m really looking forward to or stories I’m sure to follow this year (they are not in any kind of ranked order. More like organized chaos):
1. Wait, is this the NBA? – The New Orleans Saints play the Green Bay Packers on opening night and if last year’s final score is any indication (42 to 34), fans are in for a treat. (Not to mention, it’s current NFL boyfriend, Rodgers, vs. NFL ex-boyfriend, Brees, in a battle for my NFL heart.)
2. Peyton Manning Watch – You know wherever this man goes, the media will follow. And this time, there’s a Bronco on his helmet (a look which will be almost as bizarre as Steve Nash in a yellow Laker uniform or Ray Allen in a black Miami Heat jersey). Thus far, he isn’t throwing as hard as he used to but he’s still pretty darn accurate. How will his strategic mind lift the Broncos this year? How far can they go? I can’t wait to find out.
3. Tebowmania on Broadway (or Broadway adjacent) – When Tim Tebow signed with the New York Jets, I found myself wondering how he was going to compete with Mark Sanchez for the starting QB job. Now however, after hearing rumours that Tebow may play on special teams, it might be more a “Where’s Waldo?” kind of affair. Of course, there’s always the chance that Sanchez will be terrible (at least for a game or two) and the fans will clamour for Tebow to lead the team. How does Rex Ryan control this locker room?
4. No coach, no players, no problem? – The New Orleans Saints, punished by the NFL for their role in running a bounty system, lost Sean Payton for the year, Joe Vitt for six games, Vilma for all of 2012, Will Smith for four games and a number of draft picks. Any chance the Saints can find a way to play in the Superbowl in their own stadium this year?
5. Patriots under the radar – Normally this time of year, the talk gets ramped up but if there’s one team where the talk is quiet for me it’s the New England Patriots. Tom Brady is 35 this year which means that we can put him out to pasture right? It’s not as though he’s a proven winner … What’s that? He’s won a crapload (legitimate number) of Superbowl rings? Hmmm. Maybe we should start paying attention to them …
6. Franchise saviors – Cam Newton proved it was possible to play some fantastic football as a rookie. Now Robert Griffin III (Redskins) and Andrew Luck (Colts) have to see about proving naysayers wrong once again.
7. 49er fluke or the real deal – The San Francisco 49ers had a fantastic season last year. Can Alex Smith and the rest of the guys put together another strong showing? See number 14 for more.
8. Off the field and in the courts – An estimated 2,500 former players are named in 135 lawsuits, according to NFLconcussionlitigation.com and these cases should start moving through the court system this year. It’ll be interesting to see how the league defends these cases while the season is ongoing.
9. Super Mario – The Buffalo Bills were the hottest ticket in the first 6 weeks of the season last year and then failed miserably (much to the chagrin of the biggest Bills fan I know, my buddy Jay). This offseason they signed Houston Texan Defensive End Mario Williams to a massive contract. They haven’t seen a sniff of playoff football since 1999. Maybe this is their year? Maybe …
10. Curse of John Madden – Calvin “Megatron” Johnson was given the ‘honour’ of the cover of Madden 13. I’m certain my buddies who cheer for the Lions (and by that I mean suffer for the Lions) groaned when they heard that. I sure hope he stays injury and curse free because I just love to watch this guy play.
11. Westcoast Magic – This one’s just for me (What, you object? Well write your own article and fill it with stuff that makes you happy then!) Sunday morning at the Harder household means rolling out of bed, directly to the couch and TV for hours and hours of Sunday football, Wavy Lays and magical NFL finishes.
12. Replacement refs – Thanks to a labour dispute between the league and officials' union, college crews will be pulling double-duty until further notice, officiating in the NFL. If a deal isn’t reached before the start of the regular season, I’m pretty sure there will be a ‘blown call’ watch for the foreseeable future.
13. Expansion time – Los Angeles continues to push for their own NFL franchise and is trying to convince someone to relocate there. The Vikings are out since they’ve secured funding for their new stadium. The Raiders and Rams (who have both previously been LA teams) are still being considered, as are the Chargers. Does anyone move to LA this year? Let’s wait and see.
14. Have Moss, will travel – Randy Moss is back after a year hiatus, suiting up this time for the San Francisco 49ers. Expect him to be a new weapon for the Alex Smith led offence. I love watching Randy play and hope he can rebound from his awful 2010, 3 team season.
15. Lions pride – Detroit had a great season last year, three years removed from their 0-16 season. Stafford and Megatron* make a great combination (beware the Madden jinx, #10). Can they improve on their success or will they be sunk by pre-season chatter?
16. Giant Expectations – What can we expect from the “New York Football Giants” (ßThis is me mocking the Fox guys who always, always, always call them by their “full name” and it drives me crazy. They’re a football team you say? Wow. I had no idea. But I digress.) Repeating as Superbowl champions is a very hard thing to do in the NFL – it’s only happened 7 times.
17. Sugg-less – Terrell Suggs (a.k.a. the scariest mofo whom I would run screaming from if I ever came across him in a dark alley, or well lit alley, or anywhere really – have you seen him? He just looks like he could crush you. With his mind.) injured his Achilles and is likely out for the entire 2012 season. How do the Ravens cope with this loss, as well as Jarret Johnson’s free agency departure? This team has always been defence first and it’ll be interesting to see how they react.
18. Here we go again – Eagles. Seriously. Shut your mouth and just PLAY. Exhibit A, Vince Young last year calling the boys from Philly a ‘dream team’. This time it’s Michael Vick with this gem: “When I look at our football team and what we have on paper, I think about when I was growing up and the great San Francisco 49er teams, the great Green Bay Packer teams, and the great Dallas Cowboy teams, how they just positioned themselves to compete and be one of the best teams out there,” Vick said in an interview on Tuesday. “I think we have a chance to be that. I think we have a chance to develop a dynasty.”
19. Worst to first - Eight teams finished in last in their division in 2011. Which teams can make the jump from worst-to-first next season? There are eight candidates for this honour in 2012: the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and St. Louis Rams. I’d put my money on the Redskins (since their division was really tight last year with the Giants, Cowboys and Eagles all finishing within one game of each other).
20. Arrested development – The NFL offseason saw 30 player arrests since the start of the year. Many are commenting the number is out of control but apparently, according to the San Diego Union Tribune, who have been compiling arrests of NFL players since 2003, the numbers are not as high as they’ve been in the past. Compared to the first two offseasons that Goodell has presided over (2007/8), there were 93 arrests so the 30 number is an improvement. Still doesn't lessen my belief that we’ll see a few more, probably into pre-season play.
This year’s National Football League draft gets underway on Thursday night (4/25) in New York’s iconic Radio City Music Hall. The ceremony will begin at 8ET and be televised on ESPN. One can only wonder what the wild and crazy Jets fans will have to cheer (or jeer) about now that the N.Y. …
The 78th edition of the National Football League draft will begin on Thursday night, April 25th at 8pm ET. The official description of this event is The NFL Player Selection Meeting. This gathering will take place at the famous Radio City Music Hall in New York City. …
By Melissa Harder
Next week will mark a big moment in the ongoing concussion class action lawsuit brought by over 4,000 former players against the National Football League (NFL). Lawyers for the former players will argue the matter belongs in federal court while the NFL will push for the claim to be heard in arbitration. …