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

With a Clear-Cut Front Runner at the Quarterback Position, the #1 pick in the 2016 Draft Suddenly Becomes Far Less Boring…

Going into the combine, most experts seemed fairly convinced about how the first two picks in this year’s draft would play out.

Theoretically the Tennessee Titans would draft Laremy Tunsil and the Cleveland Browns would choose from one of the many names being thrown around at what appeared to be a fairly weak quarterback position. 

 

So far the name mentioned the most, in regards to the Browns, had been Cal quarterback, Jared Goff.

However, not even the people who were saying it sounded convinced that he was a top two pick.

There were also other intruiging names out there like Paxton Lynch, Connor Cook and Carson Wentz, but would the Browns be willing to risk making anything but the safest pick in attempting to break their quarterback curse? 

 

Lynch’s style might be a bit unpredictable for some critic’s taste.

Cook would probably have too high of a learning curve for a team needing to win immediately.

Wentz had huge success but at a small school.

Then that all changed.

Since Wentz has seemingly legitimized his numbers by having a terrific combine, he was able to get the rumor mill going at full force. 

 
Now it’s being said that the Titans who just so happened to draft their franchise quarterback with the 2nd overall pick in 2015, are very content with their current left tackle and weren’t planning on drafting o-line with their pick in the first place.

As a matter of fact, it seems they may have their sights set on a certain cornerback and just may be willing to trade down to get him.

Ironically, that very corner has been predicted by many experts to fall to one of the spots directly below the Cowboys who have the 4th overall pick and who were also rumored to have had interest in Wentz even before the combine ever began. 

 

Just a few days ago the first overall pick seemed to have very little trade value…

Is it possible that the Titans feel that has abruptly changed and have decided to capitalize on their good fortune by selecting a possible trade partner who may be willing to leapfrog the Browns to grab Wentz?

That would put Cleveland in an even more precarious situation if their mind is set on Wentz being the savior of their franchise.

Would they be willing to get into a dog-fight with the Cowboys or possibly another team, to make a trade that would allow them to move up one spot, just to put even more pressure on the young quarterback?

I mean, after spending 7 of their 12 picks on defense in last year’s draft and also  adding an Offensive Lineman, Wide Receiver, Half Back, Tight End and a Full Back, haven’t the Browns set themselves up perfectly to take a quarterback in the first round this year?

Any other time I would cross my fingers that Cleveland would choose any other position in the draft, but for some reason this year taking a quarterback just seems to make perfect sense.

They are only one year removed from a 7-9 season and may be getting Josh Gordon back in 2016. With the right signal caller in place, they could possibly surprise the league and make another run at the playoffs.

In the meantime, the Cowboys are trying to deflect attention by making it very clear that they are sold on Tony Romo and plan on making a pick that will allow them to win now. 

 

But when’s the last time we’ve known them to make a rational decision?

And even if they did, there are plenty of other teams who would benefit from moving up.

The Rams just cleared some cap space and would probably love to make an even bigger splash during their return to Los Angeles.

The 49ers and Colin Kaepernick don’t seem sure about their feelings for each other.

Sam Bradford’s Philadelphia experiment has apparently gone awry…

And Hell, even the Chargers could consider moving up.

However, it’s possible that after all this,  the Titans really do just want Jalen Ramsey. 

 

Or maybe…

They were able to see into the future well enough to realize, that if they confused all of those other teams and got them into a bidding war…

They might end up with a butt load of draft picks and still be able to steal Laremy Tunsil.

Draft Day Dreaming

 The season isn’t quite over yet, but a quick look at the Tennessee offense shows a variety of holes that could be the focus of attention as the Titans start preparing for the upcoming offseason. 

So where do they start?

 

  1. Even though it seems evident the Titans have found their quarterback of the future in Marcus Mariota, who has accounted for 21 touchdowns and 3,070 total yards, he has shown flashes of inconsistency and has struggled at times.
  2. Tennessee also has a backfield filled with potential, with three starting caliber running backs, Bishop Sankey, David Cobb and Antonio Andrews who just can’t seem to hit their full stride for one reason or another.
  3. The Titans receiving core is loaded with talented players who seem to underachieve. Kendall Wright, Dorial Green-Bechkam, Justin Hunter and Harry Douglas, are all guys who have shown signs of brilliance but just can’t seem to get over the hump. 

The only solid position for this offense seems to be tight end, where Dellanie Walker has shone brightly, by hauling in 85 catches, for 994 yards and six scores so far this year. 

 

So what’s the solution for this franchise who is trying to start a winning culture? 

Fortunately for the Titans, they will have another top draft pick in 2016. That gives them a shot at selecting 6’5, 305 lb, OT, Leramy Tunsil, from Ole Miss, who seems to be a perfect match for this team.
I believe this young man who has already fought through various forms of adversity could possibly be the piece that completes the puzzle in Tennessee.

The main benefit they should gain from the 21 year old Tunsil, is as the blindside protector they need to keep their second year quarterback on his feet long enough to make plays. He is a natural blocker and is great at keeping his center of gravity low to lockdown on pass rushing defenders.  


Tunsil also has exceptional athleticism, agility and speed, which should allow him to be the building block Tennessee uses to solidify their offensive line and get one, if not all, of their three running backs up to par and help transform their stale run game into the dynamic asset it should be. 

He has shown that he can be a dominating force, both on passing downs and as a run blocker on the collegiate level, and all signs point to those skills translating well to the NFL.
Drafting another OT in Tennessee, just two years after drafting Taylor Lewan, may seem a bit excessive but would give the Titans bookend blockers for a passing game that could also use a boost. 

It may just provide that extra second or two for Mariota to be able to find pass catching machine Wright or to turn Beckham-Green into the dangerous deep threat they’ve been hoping he’ll become.
This may seem like a lot of pressure to put on one player who hasn’t even started his career yet, but the Titans and their fans can hope and dream that the key to a consistently explosive offense is only one pick away.