Do all championships matter?

January 15th, 1967
Bart Starr and Vince Lombardi enjoy a cigar together. They have just won their 4th championship together, it’s a back to back championship  (they would 3-peat a year later) they had just won a game they had considered a formality. To us now it was a way more important game. It was Superbowl I. This date divides NFL fans like no other. Imagine what Vince and Bart would have thought if this game, that meant so little to them at the time, would matter more then the 3 championships they had already won. That this one was more real then then the one they had won just the year before.

…do all championships deserve to be counted in any sport?

In 2020, just 4 years from now, the NFL will celebrate it’s 100th anniversary. That NFL season will crown a champion at Superbowl LVI  (56). That leaves 44 championships that happened before the Superbowl. Do those presuperbowl championships count? This question divides many NFL fans. If you enjoy a good argument go to a group with a Packer fan (the NFL leader with 13 if you count presuperbowl) and a Steelers fan (the NFL leader if you only count Superbowls with 6) and ask them if championships count before the Superbowl era. 

This begs the question; do all championships deserve to be counted in any sport? Should we count World Series titles from before the league was integrated? NBA championships from before the NBA and ABA merged? Stanley cups from the original 6 days? College football National Champs from before the playoff system (or before the BCS)? Any heavy weight boxing champion since Lenox Lewis? 

Here’s the argument for why they shouldn’t count in the various sports. 

Baseball

So we can talk about how pitchers pitched in 3 and 4 man rotations on 3 day rest. Or how there was no such thing as specialized relief pitchers, set-up men, or closers. Let’s focus on the integration of the league. 

Stars like Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson would have dominated in any league or era. Had they not been stuck in the negroe leagues, how many MLB records would these two hold? How much would the influx of these stars affect who won world series? How can you say you’re the World Champs if half the best players in the world play in a different league?

Basketball 

Which  NBA team drafted drafted Dr.J? The Milwaukee Bucks. Thing is he signed with a team from the ABA. As did so many of the stars of basketball. The two leagues champions both can legitimately claim to be the world champs. They didn’t play each other so who is the true champ?

Hockey 

Six teams. “6.” How can you call yourself the champion of anything in a 6 team league?

College Football

Here’s the one the argument is easiest. Before the BCS sportswriters just picked a champ. The top 4 teams rarely had played each other in the season. There were multiple champions in several seasons. There were years that a one lose team was champ over an undefeated team. 

Even the BCS era can be debated. Could the 2007 Florida Gators really have beaten the USC squad thats almost entire defense has made a nfl pro bowl? How can anyone justify having the championship game being two teams from the same division of the same conference? 

The NFL

Really there is no reason other then calling it the superbowl to start counting then. It started at the end of the second Packer dynasty, how can you say that the 66 or 67 Packers are intrinsically better then the 65 or 63 Packers? Many will tell you 1932 is the true start of modern football. You can make the argument that football wasn’t the game we know until 1981, when the west coast offense proved that a pass first offense can win, and transformed the league from a running back driven league to a quarterback driven league. You can even argue that nothing before 1993 and fee agency really can count. Deion Sanders, Charles Haley, and Reggie Whites free agent moves definitely changed who would win the championships for the next few seasons.

This all seems legit. The athletes back then weren’t as big or fast as today. The number of teams they had to play was so small how can they be considered champs? There were other leagues playing so how can one leagues team be the true champ?

So why should all championships count?

Simply put those other leagues weren’t as good. The NFL and AFL had agreed to merge in 1962. They had drafted as one entity from that point forward. The AFL (then the AFC) wasn’t able to actually compete with the NFL until 1969. That’s 8 years of building on equal terms before they compete with the NFL. When the NBA and ABA merged the ABA contracted 2/3rd of its teams. They entered the nba as essentially ABA all star teams. They didn’t dominate, these all star teams didn’t even win a championship in the NBA. 

It comes down to this you play the teams they put in front of you. You beat them and you are the champion.

Can players play in any era? I’m sure Dick Butkus  would still be a pro bowl middle linebacker today. Jim Brown would still be a star. Deacon Jones could lineup with JJ Watt.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robinson or Bill Russell would still dominate.

With their style of play, Jerry West and Pistol Pete Maravich would probably be bigger stars today then in their era.  Lou Gehrig and Ted William’s bats would have been feared in any era. 

You can only play the teams they put in front of you. You beat them and you are the champion. Period. If you win a NFL championship in 1941 and you win a championship playing in the NFL in 2011 you’ve won the exact same thing. What would you say if in 2027 they decide that all championships before instant replay don’t count, since they cannot be accurate?

You can’t pick and choose. You can’t say that college football championships only count from the BCS on and then say that all World Series count. You can’t say that all NBA championships count but only Superbowls count for the NFL. 

Either all championships count in all sports, or you have to draw a line in every sport. How does that line change if those teams were the best in the world in their time? 
J.Russell Zinn 7/28/16

The Reason We all Love to Hate Peyton Manning is because…

He’s just too damn good.

I’m not even talking about his football ability. 

 
In real life, he’s “that guy.” The one we are all afraid of being in public but would love to be in a perfect world.

Constantly flashing that “cheese eating” grin and starring in goofy commercials.

I mean, even when we heard about the HGH we knew he it couldn’t have been his, even though in the darkness recesses of our hearts we were kind of hoping it was.

Sometimes we just wish he would cheat or dab or even throw his ping pong paddle at that that little punk that spiked on his ass. Just so we know he’s human like the rest of us. 

 
That’s why we love when he throws an interception in a crucial moment or just falls flat on his face and loses a big game. 
 

But none of that would make sense if he didn’t also have his supernatural moments on the gridiron.

When he’s just in that zone tearing up the defense and annoying the piss out of us by  pointing and yelling some nonesense. 

 
 
When he’s breaking records and putting up ridiculous numbers.That’s why even though he just had his worst season by far and we had a feeling he was going to choke in the Super Bowl.

There was also that part of us that wondered and secretly hoped we were wrong.

That’s why even though it was ugly, we aren’t that upset or surprised that he got the win. 

 

Or that he will ride of smiling into the sunset, as the man we love to hate. 

 

How Strength of Schedule Affects the Outcome of the NFL Season…

Because of free agency, the draft, coaching changes, injuries and a ton of other factors, we all know that every season in the NFL presents a whole new variety of challenges for each team.

So even though we are always presented a list of each team’s strength of schedule at the beginning of the year, most of us just give it a curious glance and then move on. 

 
However, in looking back at the 2015 season, there are a few interesting facts that do pop out.

Only two of the teams in the the top 10 of easiest schedules (Texans #30) and (Carolina #27)  made the playoffs. 

 
 While 6 teams in the top 10 of most difficult schedules (Steelers #1),  (Bengals #2), (Seahawks #4), (Cardinals #5), (Chiefs #7) and (Broncos #10) made the playoffs. 

 
I was kind of surprised to see that the two teams with the toughest schedules (Steelers and Bengals) overall made the playoffs, but it makes perfect sense that both teams looked tired, broken and frustrated and had major players suffering from injuries as they entered their biggest games.

While the teams with the easiest schedules (Falcons #32) and (Colts 31) had decent runs but sputtered out and didn’t make the playoffs. 

 
The two teams headed to the Super Bowl took very different paths. 

The Broncos who had the 10th toughest schedule in the league, have struggled with injury and frustration as they’ve won their two playoff games by a total of only 9 points. 

 
The Panthers on the other hand, have been cruising as they appear to have hit their second peak of the season, and have won their two games by a total of 41 points. 

 
Although fans talk all season about he fact that the teams who succeeded while playing a weak schedule will fold when the competition gets tough, the opposite seems true. As the teams who haven’t been roughed up all year seem to be more fresh and ready to go as the playoffs approach.

So even though an easy schedule may not better your chances to reach the playoffs, it just may make it easier to succeed once you are there.

Aaron Rodgers is the Man…

They want to convince you that he is washed up and overrated. That he chokes in the playoffs because he can’t handle the pressure. That he is an ordinary quarterback who just had the worst season of his career.

Why do they want you to believe that?

Because they are scared to death of him! 

 

During the regular season opposing fans are not half as concerned about what their team is doing, as they are about what is going on with Aaron Rodgers.

Why?

Because when Aaron Rodgers has a horrible season, he throws for 3,821 yards, 31 TDs, and only 8 interceptions, leads his team to the 2nd round of the playoffs and takes them to overtime against the best statistcal team in the league. 

 

Because as long as the Packers are still winning, and Aaron Rodgers is still at the helm anything can happen.

The “choke artist” covered 101 yards in 55 seconds with no timeouts to score a touchdown, even though the refs blatantly ignored a pass interference call that ate most of the time off the clock. 

 

Rodgers didn’t let them get in his head, he just kept doing what he does best. The result was the 2nd best play of the season, a 41 yard Hail Mary pass to Jeff Janis.

Who had the best play of the season?

Yep! You guessed it. Aaron Rodgers, when he threw a 61 yard Hail Mary to Richard Rodgers against the Lions. 

 

Ridiculous plays are just “old hat” for the quarterback that the rest of the league fears.

They fear him so much that even the refs have to make up new rules to keep him off the field, and rival fans have no explanation for his greatness except that he is paying off the refs. Makes perfect sense right? 

 

They wanted him off the field even though his receiving core was depleted down to just 3 players due to injury.

That’s right! James Jones, Jeff Janis and Jerad Abbrederis were all he had left in his wide receiver arsenal when he led one of the greatest drives in playoff history. 

Yes, there are still good teams, and even great quarterbacks left in the playoffs, and yes we still may witness some magic in the next few rounds. 

 
But the league undoubtedly robbed itself of the perfect ending when it took the ball out of his hands…

Because Aaron Rodgers is the Man!!!

Aaron Rodgers Creates Next Potential Superstar Receiver…

What does the best quarterback in the NFL do when he is in the biggest game of the season, is already missing super stud Jordy Nelson, last weeks spark plug Davante Adams, promising rookie Ty Montgomery, red-zone threat Andrew Quarless, Randall Cobb goes down with an injury and his one remaining veteran wide receiver is covered by one of the top shutdown corners (Patrick Peterson) in the league? 

 

Simple. He makes another one.

Yep, right there on the spot facing the best team in the NFL, with the 5th overall defense, he chooses to make Jeff Janis, the 7th round draft pick out of the DII school, Saginaw Valley State University, into the hero.

Up until this point, Janis who had hauled in just 4 catches for 95 yards over 19 games in his two year career, had failed to earn Rodgers trust.

“Jeff will have some great days and some days where mentally he’s making too many mistakes,” Rodgers said. “The talent and athleticism is there. We just need to see from all those guys battling for those two spots just some more consistency.” 

Those words shocked and confused Packer fans who had been pulling for Janis to get his chance. The 24 year old receiver looks similar to Jordy Nelson but is bigger and faster. 

 
Packer wide receiver coach Alex Van Pelt 0ffered a form of explanation.  “Aaron has to come to trust you, and then he’ll throw the ball to you more often. And when you get to Sundays he may feel more confident throwing it in your direction. 

Nelson had to go through the same process. In 2010, he was 4th on the Packers receiving depth chart, waiting patiently behind Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and James Jones when the Packers made it to the Super Bowl. 

 
When Driver went down with an injury in the 2nd quarter, Rodgers put his faith in Nelson (despite 3 drops), and the rest is history.

That’s the same faith Janis has been hoping for, and fortunately for him he was able to remain humble just long enough.

“I think the biggest thing with Aaron is he wants us to be mentally on the same page,” Janis said. “He knows physical mistakes are going to happen, like dropped balls and things like that, but mental errors are unacceptable to him. So I think that’s where I’m really trying to take a step.”

At this point, having his worst season since his rookie year, with critics telling him he was washed up and worthless, and facing a defense that had embarrassed him just two weeks before, Rodgers had no choice but to place his whole confidence in his 7th string receiver. 

The results were amazing. 

Even with the defense focused on him, and the referees turning a blind eye on an obvious interference call, Janis was totally undeterred as he ripped through the Cardinals for 7 catches, 145 yards, 2 TDs and the “catch of the year,” in a year filled with highlight catches.  

 
Janis will be remembered for his miraculous catch, where he high pointed a Hail Mary pass while being shrouded by double coverage, which included Patrick Peterson.

But you can rest assured that this won’t be the last you hear of him. Next year, he will be in a line up full of healthy receivers, including Jordy Nelson. The only difference, is this time, all eyes will be on him.

Adrian Peterson has Become a Negative for the Minnesota Vikings…

The NFL is evolving at a very fast pace. It’s gotten to the point where most teams can’t even keep up. 

Offenses have mutated from slow, calculated and methodical, to complete chaos. And stifling defenses which were once rare, are popping up all over the place. 

 

The teams who do succeed, adapt quickly. The ones who don’t are left sputtering in the dust.

The Minnesota Vikings are a prime example of the latter. While everyone else is chucking the ball around at a ridiculous rate, they are still trying to win with a workhorse back. 
 

There were only seven teams this year who had a running back with over 1,000 yards (As opposed to 13 in 2014 and 2013, 16 in 2012 and 15 in 2011).

Out of all of the teams from this year, Minnesota had the top rusher, Adrian Peterson. He led the league with 1,485 rushing yards. The Vikings were also the only team out of the seven to make the playoffs, but were one of the very first teams ellimanated.

After how important the every down back had been in the past, it may be hard for some teams to adjust to the new system, and to realize how important making that change may be.

Bill Belichick, the head coach of the New England Patriots was the first to master the art of the disposable running back. 

 

He isn’t afraid to use a player for a season, a game, a play, or even just a specific scenario, and then send him packing.

He knows better than everyone else, that being a great back doesn’t mean you match up well against certain types of defense or schemes. That there are different styles of play needed for each individual situation.

Look at the success he’s had.

The rest of the league seems to be finally figuring it out as well, as most of the teams that made the playoffs this year, have done it by utilizing multiple running backs or simply using their backs to compliment a highflying passing attack.

The Kansas City Chiefs are a prime example of a team that came across this idea accidentally. They were struggling immensely while utilizing Jamaal Charles. 

As soon as he went down with a season ending injury, they were forced to rely on multiple backs and turn more towards their passing game. It didn’t take long before they became the hottest team in the league. 

 

The Vikings themselves were forced to use multiple backs in 2014 when AP missed most of the season, and they tasted the success of having offensive variety, even with a rookie quarterback at the helm. 

 

However, for some reason, they didn’t learn their lesson, and went back to the same futile style of offense that has left them struggling for years. 

Even though it worked in certain situations, and they found some success, it should be clear to them that it’s time to catch up to the rest of the league.
The advent of the high flying aerial attack has changed the face of the NFL and the way General Managers manage their cap space.

Where the strategy used to be to spend your cash and draft picks on high dollar  running backs and an immovable offensive line, it’s now all about receivers and defense. 

 

The good news is it has solved the quarterback disparity, at least for the moment.  With all those targets to throw at, nobody bats an eye anymore if a QB goes for 3,500 yards and 30 TDs.
The bad thing is it has created a large gap between the good teams and the great teams.

One dimensional teams like Minnesota can still have a decent season, but no longer stand a chance in the playoffs. 

The Vikings finished 2nd to last, ahead of only the St.Louis Rams, in passing yards (2928), and passing TDs (14). 

 

With the current state of the league, teams can no longer win the big games in a cloud of dust. You are now forced to put the ball in the air consistently.

Viking fans can blame the early exit from the playoffs on their kicker, but the truth is, they failed to get the ball in the end zone all game long. 

 

It’s sad to imagine that a guy like Peterson, who will go down as one of the greatest running backs of all time, is possibly ushering in the extinction of his position, as he prepares to leave the league in the near future.

This is What Happened The Last Time Tom Brady Played the Kansas City Chiefs…

There are still people who think that the Chiefs 11 game winning streak, which includes the last 10 games of the 2015 season and the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, has been a fluke.

That is most likely because they don’t realize that Kansas City has had one of, if not the best defense in the NFL dating all the way back to last year.

The Chiefs who were 9-7 in 2014 and narrowly missed the playoffs, gave up less points to opponents then any other team in the league.

Their second greatest accomplishment that year, was a 41-14 destruction of the New England Patriots on Monday Night in week 4.   

 
 
  

The game ended so poorly for the Patriots, that Tom Brady was sent to the bench in the 4th quarter, after throwing an interception which was returned for a touchdown.  

 

This was just the culmination of a horrible night for Brady, who had thrown one previous pick and also lost a crucial fumble earlier in the game.

 It was such an “Unterrific” performance for Tom as a matter of fact, that people started questioning if he would be the starter for the Patriots going forward. 

 
 

To top it off, Kansas City handed the Patriots that loss with an offense that didn’t have a passing touchdown to a wide receiver all season. 

That was the main reason the Chiefs decided to reunite Jeremy Maclin with Head Coach Andy Reid in 2015.

Maclin answered with 87 catches, for 1,088 yards, and 8 TDs this season.  

  

Couple that with a defense who only allowed an average of 12 points a game over their last 10, and shutout the Houston Texans in their playoff game, to beat their opponents by a total of 330-167.

And you have a team that is geared up to not only have Tom Brady once again riding the pine, but has hopes to send him home for the season.