Sports Stars and TV ratings

Last night, the Golden State Warriors swept the Portland Trailblazers out of the NBA playoffs and will appear in their fifth straight NBA Finals soon.  As champions for three of the past four seasons, Golden State’s championship team should be quite familiar to the American television viewers by now.

However, television ratings for the NBA playoffs are down by about ten percent from previous years. 

What gives?

Could it be that LeBron James is missing from the NBA playoffs this year for the first time since 2005 and after playing in the last eight NBA Finals?

Maybe.  I guess the “LeBron factor” was higher than the NBA expected. 

Could it really be that hundreds of thousands of basketball fans will tune-in ONLY when America’s longest reigning basketball star is playing on television? 

Apparently so.

Last weekend, golf’s second major of the season, the PGA Championship, played to one of the smallest television viewing audiences in the past twenty years.   The venue was Bethpage State Park’s Black course, which is as difficult of a layout as you can ask for.

The winner of the event, Brooks Koepka, is the hottest golfer on the planet after winning for the fourth time in the past eight majors.  So, why did the ratings drop by 36% from last year’s PGA Championship?

Could the problem have been that Tiger Woods missed the cut and wasn’t participating this weekend in the final rounds? 

Could it really be that hundreds of thousands of golf fans ONLY tune-in when America’s longest reigning golf star is playing on television?

Apparently so.

Can you imagine what will happen to the NFL television ratings if the New England Patriots and the New Orleans Saints fail to make the playoffs this fall?  If that were to happen (but it probably won’t), there would be no Tom Brady or Drew Brees on television during the playoffs.

The NFL television ratings would definitely take a big hit.

Are there that many casual sports fans who only know (or like) LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees and won’t tune in to watch the sport without them?

Apparently so.

Let’s do a little test.  I’ll make you a SwampSwami unofficial wager – right now.

Assuming that Zion Williamson is drafted as the #1 overall pick in June’s NBA draft, I’ll wager that you will see the New Orleans Pelicans (or whichever team Zion ends up playing for) on ESPN and TNT more than times next season than you will see the Sacramento Kings, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Detroit Pistons on national television.

All four of those teams failed to make the playoffs this season, and all of them will add draft picks this June to help improve their squads.    

Why Zion?  The media has made “Zion” into a household name the past season.  Of course, the young man has loads of talent, a high energy, a winning smile, and a memorable first name.

But then again, so does Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors.  Same for Montrezl Harrell of the Los Angeles Clippers.     

Sorry, Draymond and Montrezl.  Though you played at well-known colleges (Michigan State and Louisville) and had solid college careers, you were both second round picks in the NBA draft. 

Zion, though, went to Duke, had nearly all of his basketball games shown by ESPN this season, and has been touted for the past year as the next “LeBron James”.

Maybe Zion will become a terrific professional basketball player.  However, Draymond Green already has three championship rings with the Warriors and Montrezl Harrell is in the running for the NBA’s “Sixth Man of the Year” for coming off the bench to average nearly 17 points per game  and 7 rebounds per game for the Clippers. 

You certainly cannot fault Zion Williamson for the hype and media adulation.  He is a talented basketball player who will make millions of dollars even if he rarely hits the floor in an NBA game. 

It is hard to define the so-called “It” factor in sports, but other successful athletes also don’t have to deal with the constant scrutiny of the media, either. 

Welcome into the very exclusive and select group called the “Television Sports Stars” club, Zion! 

Don’t L-AAF! The new football league is good!

When I read that the new Alliance of American Football (AAF) would attempt to complete their football games in no longer than 2 hours and 30 minutes (including overtime), I became quite interested.

In the weekend’s first set of games just one week after the NFL’s “Big Game”, my expectations were low for this latest attempt to provide fans with a professional alternative to the NFL.  Most other attempts have failed, but this league has some potential and, more importantly, terrific timing.      

With only eight teams in the new football league (Arizona Hotshots, Atlanta Legends, Birmingham Iron, Memphis Express, Orlando Apollos, Salt Lake Stallions, San Antonio Commanders, and San Diego Fleet), the league will play a ten game regular season schedule which ends with a championship game in Las Vegas on April 27.

There are several differences between the new AAF and many other failed professional football ventures attempted over the past 45 years.  The deceased leagues included:

XFL – 2001

World League of American Football/NFL Europe – 1991 – 2007

USFL – 1983-1985

American Football Association – 1978-1983

World Football League – 1974-1975

First, the new AAF has the distinct advantage of great timing.  In 2019, there are now several hungry cable sports television providers not named ESPN who are quite willing telecast the AAF’s initial season.  The CBS Sports Network, NFL Network, and TNT will all telecast some of the games. 

These cable competitors are quite aware that King Football’s viewership eclipses any other type of sports programming that they could provide viewers during the late winter/early spring period.

Next, the AAF seems to be quite content to be the “first or second chance into the NFL” league.  More than 70% of the AAF rosters are filled with players who, at one point or another, have made an NFL team.  There are a few familiar football players on nearly every AAF team.

Every player – from quarterback to kicker – in the AAF receives the same base salary and contract.  Currently, it pays $250,000 for three seasons.   

For some players, they may get their next NFL “chance” this summer, and, with it, a higher pay.   For others, receiving $83,000 per year to play a ten-game season on national television isn’t the worst thing, either.

For the AAF, the pay scale makes player salaries a controllable cost of doing business.   With a 52-man roster, that would equate to an annual player payroll of $4.33 million. 

For a point of reference, that also means that it would take nearly six complete AAF teams to match the pay for the New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees’ ($25 million) during the 2018 NFL season.

Isn’t capitalism great? 

The AAF features a few nifty fan-friendly rule changes, too. 

There are no kickoffs (the ball is placed at the 25 yard line), no kicked extra points (two-point conversions only), no television time-outs (YES!), and, in the event of overtime, each team will get the ball on the opponent’s ten yard line one time (with a two-point conversion).  If the game remains tied after each team’s possession, the game ends in a tie as the league remains mindful of keeping playing time to no more than two hours and thirty minutes. 

In week one, the attendance at the home openers were in the 20,000-25,000 range.  There was enough home crowd noise so that television audience could easily tell which squad was playing at home.

For an opening weekend, the flow of the games (including referees, Saints fans) went smoothly.  Fans at the stadium and viewers on television saw a very professional product. 

The AAF doesn’t want to be the NFL, but you can definitely see the possibility of the league forming a more friendly association with the NFL as a permanent “developmental” league.

In contrast, the rebooted version of Vince McMahon’s XFL in 2020 seeks to take on the Goliath named the NFL.  That’s another story for another time.

With lower expectations and good execution, the AAF passed the quality assurance test of most fans during week one.  I recommend that you take the time to check it out, too.

This new football league is to be taken seriously for now.    

I’ll give the AAF a solid “B” for the opening weekend as the league delivered what it promised. 

“Groundhog” Goodell and New Orleans’ 2019 Boycott Bowl

Happy Groundhog Day! 

The nation’s long-time weather expert, Punxatawny Phil, did not see his shadow this morning.  Thus, he predicts that winter should come to an end in about six weeks.  Hooray!

In Atlanta this week, the National Football League’s Commissioner, Roger Goodell, made his annual “state of the league” address to a large gaggle of reporters just as eager to hear some real news about recent issues in the NFL.

Like Bill Murray’s daily repeating of the same events throughout the movie Groundhog’s Day, Goodell annually (painfully) goes in front of the media during Super Bowl week and, for the most part, gives them the same bob-and-weave shtick over and over again.

“Groundhog” Goodell (who seemingly shies away from the bright lights more than the popular Punxatawny Phil) stepped-up to the microphone on Wednesday and dazzled (sarcasm included) the reporters with vanilla information and artfully played dodge ball with anything remotely controversial (especially involving the New Orleans Saints’ NFC championship game).

During one of his responses to a question about the Saints game, the Commissioner said, “We understand the frustration of the fans. I’ve talked to coach (Sean) Payton, the team, the players. We understand the frustration that they feel right now and we certainly want to address that.”

A chorus of respected Saints players said, “Not TrueDat!”  According to the Saints players, Roger Goodell may be related to Pinocchio.

Saints wide receiver, Michael Thomas, tweeted, “He ain’t talk to us.”

New Orleans’ retiring tight end, Benjamin Watson, wrote a personal letter to the Commissioner (no response yet).  Watson tweeted, “and he has all my contact info.”

Future Hall-of-Fame quarterback, Drew Brees, said he had not heard from the league about the NOLA No-call, either. 

“It’s the commissioner’s responsibility to represent the NFL, and yet we don’t hear a peep for 10 days,” he said. “And it’s because he has to do it now because he’s at the Super Bowl and he does his annual press conference.”

Despite his skill at providing evasive answers, “Groundhog” Goodell is not an attorney.  He majored in Economics in college and was smart enough to snare a $40 million/year gig as the Commissioner for the NFL. 

In a nutshell, his job is to be the designated shock absorber for his 32 franchise owners.  He is paid to take a licking and keep on ticking while protecting and increasing the value of his bosses’ franchises.

His employers apparently feel that Goodell does that part of his job quite well.

Meanwhile, Saints fans in the city of New Orleans continue to make preparations for their very unique Boycott Bowl on Sunday in a way that few cities in America could ever do.

By throwing massive citywide parades and parties, of course! 

While most of America will likely tune-in to watch at least a portion of Sunday evening’s “big game’, WhoDatNation’s fervent Saints fans plan to turn their back on the televised game en masse. 

As Saints fans emerge from their recent depression over the infamous no-call which likely prevented New Orleans’ beloved football team from being the NFC’s representative in Sunday evening’s game, the resilient city’s loyal Saints fans will send their own message to “Groundhog” Goodell on Sunday with a day full of musical celebrations, parties, and a massive tune-out of the televised football game.

One Saints fan summed it up well. 

“New Orleanians are identifying like the way we did when we won the Super Bowl. Everyone in New Orleans loved each other then. Now, it’s like we’re all unified in our anger, and we’re working it out with our humor.” 

“WhoDat say they gonna watch Dat Game”? 

Not me!  Dat’s for sure. 

Nick Foles and the Cost of Quarterback Insurance

For the second straight season, the back-up quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles rescued his team and led them deep into the NFL playoffs.

Nick Foles replaced an injured Carson Wentz (knee) in 2017 and took the Eagles to their first Super Bowl victory in the team’s long history with a win over the New England Patriots.  Foles outdueled legendary quarterback Tom Brady and earned the Super Bowl MVP as well. 

This season, the Eagles and Foles agreed to a new contract (more about that later) to give Carson Wentz a chance to finish healing from ACL surgery on his knee.  Nick Foles started the first two games for the Eagles (going 1-1), and then handed the reins back to Wentz. 

Just like the prior season, though, Carson Wentz incurred another late-season injury (back).  And, just like last season, Nick Foles led the Eagles on an incredible run into the NFL playoffs.

On Sunday, though, Foles came up on the short end in the second round of the playoffs as his Eagles lost 20-14 to the New Orleans Saints headed by another quarterback from his high school. 

Some guy named Drew Brees.

Brees (1997) and Foles (2007) both graduated from Westlake High School in Austin, Texas.  Brees set several school records at quarterback in high school.  Foles came along and broke most of his records ten years later.

After high school, Nick Foles left the warmth of Texas to play college football at Michigan State.  After riding the bench for his first year, Foles went west and transferred to the University of Arizona for his final three years of eligibility. 

Coming into the NFL in 2012 as a third round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles, Foles’ became the back-up quarterback behind a guy named Michael Vick.  Yes, that guy.

In 2013, Foles was given a chance to start midway through the season due to an injury to Vick, and he made the most of it.  He led the Eagles to the playoffs (losing, ironically, to Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints) and was named to the NFL All-Pro Team.

In 2014, Nick Foles’ magic in Philly had faded a bit, and his season ended early with a collarbone injury. 

Foles was traded to the St. Louis Rams (now in Los Angeles) beginning in 2015.  Though he received a nifty two-year contract worth over $24 million, Nick Foles’ on-field performance hit bottom, and he was released after only one season.

For 2016, Foles signed a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.  After a year on the bench behind Alex Smith, it was another one-and-done year for the journeyman quarterback.

After resurrecting the Eagles in 2017 with a Super Bowl triumph and saving the team’s playoff chances in 2018, Nick Foles and the Eagles are at now at a very unusual contractual impasse.

According to reports, the current contract calls for the Eagles to pay Foles $20 million in 2019 (if they want to keep him).  They could also trade him to another team (assuming someone is willing to give-up a draft pick or player for Foles’ expensive contract). 

If the Eagles do elect to keep Foles and pay him the $20 million, Foles has a brief window where he can decline the offer and opt out of his contract by paying Eagles $2 million.  By doing so, he could declare himself a free agent.

With a relatively thin supply of prospective NFL-caliber quarterbacks coming out of college this year, Foles may have several NFL team owners who are willing to open their wallets to pay for his services.

The real question is whether or not Nick Foles is best suited as a highly paid “insurance policy” back-up quarterback instead of an NFL starting quarterback.

His career statistics indicate that Foles’ performance as a reliever may be greater than his value as a starter. 

Foles’ calming personality as a teammate and leader in the huddle when coming off the bench are very unique traits in today’s “All about me” NFL.

Then again, this is the same Nick Foles who has now completed his Master’s Degree in Divinity from Liberty University.  He wants to become a pastor once his NFL career ends. 

Whether he remains in Philadelphia or plays for another team next season, Nick Foles seems to be content with his role.  It doesn’t seem to matter whether he becomes an NFL starter or remains the NFL’s most valuable back-up “insurance policy” quarterback. 

Like a good neighbor, Nick Foles will be there.

Steelers’ Tomlin needs “Clarence of Cleveland” now

Though the head football coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers may look a little different than George Bailey from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, Mike Tomlin is in need of his own “Clarence the Angel” (Cleveland version) to get into the NFL Playoffs next weekend.

Pittsburgh’s coach gambled and lost late in the fourth quarter Sunday afternoon in a pivotal game against the New Orleans Saints in the Crescent City.

With the Steelers clinging to a 28-24 lead with four minutes to go and facing a fourth down and five yards to go at the Pittsburgh’s own 37 yard line, Coach Tomlin opted for a fake punt(?!!!). 

The play didn’t work, and the Steelers handed the ball to Saints future Hall-of-Famer quarterback Drew Brees.  A Saints touchdown in the last few minutes was as certain as Jack Nicklaus sinking a five foot putt to win a major golf tournament. 

Money in the bank.  The Saints scored a touchdown with ninety seconds left to take a 31-28 lead over Pittsburgh.

Ben Roethlisberger rallied the Steelers into potential game-tying field goal position with thirty seconds to go.  Unfortunately, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster fumbled at the Saints 35-yard-line after catching a Roethlisberger pass.  The Saints recovered the football.

Game over. 

The New Orleans Saints clinched the home field advantage in the NFC, while Pittsburgh heads back home needing a Christmas week miracle to get into the AFC playoffs.

To get into the playoffs, Pittsburgh now needs a little favor from their bitter AFC Central rivals along the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland.  The Browns must travel to Baltimore AND defeat the Ravens next Sunday afternoon for the Steelers to have a playoff chance.

Meanwhile, the Steelers will still need to take care of business at Heinz Field and defeat the hapless Cincinnati Bengals. 

Both games will kick-off next Sunday simultaneously at 3:25PM Central as CBS adds some late afternoon drama by covering both games to pique the interest of fans across the nation.

Baltimore controls its own destiny.  If the Ravens win, they dethrone the Steelers as AFC Central champions.  There is nothing sweeter for Ravens fans than keeping the Pittsburgh Steelers out of the playoffs.

What is Cleveland’s motivation?  With a record of 7-7-1, the Browns can finish 2018 with their first winning season since their 10-6 campaign in 2007.   After going 0-16 in 2017 and 1-15 in 2016, the Browns are definitely trending in the right direction again.

Pittsburgh can blame no one but themselves for being in this position. 

More specifically, Coach Mike Tomlin should take the blame for the loss by calling a fake punt on his own side of the fifty yard line – on the road – late in the fourth quarter.

Gutsy?  Perhaps, but Steelers fans were already looking for a good reason to send Tomlin packing after several years of underachieving teams.  

Coach Tomlin will need a visit from “Clarence of Cleveland”, a most unlikely of AFC Central guardian angels, to get his Steelers into the playoffs and, perhaps, to retain his job. 

Welcome to the Drew Brees’ Record Store!

The NFL’s New Orleans Saints are 8-1 after Sunday’s blowout 51-14 win at Cincinnati.

A few days earlier, one of the national sports media companies (starts with a C and ends with “BS”, ha ha), had their weekly fantasy football writer suggest that the NFL quarterback “Bust of the Week” would be New Orleans quarterback, Drew Brees.

Since good ol’ reliable #9 is my fantasy quarterback, I read the article with a suspicious eye.  The writer said that Brees generally doesn’t play as well outside (sometimes true), and the Saints dynamic duo of running backs (Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram) could carry the load as Brees might be tempted to give his arm a rest after a record-setting start to his 18th season in the NFL.

In the immortal words of ESPN’s GameDay legend, Lee Corso, “NOT so fast, Mr. Fantasy Football Writer!”

Drew Brees is the driver of the supercharged Saints offensive machine, and the Maestro was conducting his orchestra with amazing efficiency again on Sunday in Cincy.  Brees completed 22 of 25 pass attempts (88%) for 265 yards, three touchdowns via the pass, one via a quarterback sneak, and no interceptions.

Brees and “Bravo” go hand in hand this season when observing what this wily 39-year old conductor is doing.

The Saints quarterback is averaging nearly 300 yards of passing this season, has a 77% completion percentage for the year, and a quarterback rating of 123.8.

After leading the New Orleans Saints to their lone Super Bowl (a victory in 2009), Drew Brees and the Saints are trying to earn a chance to play their playoff games in front of their adoring fans in the extremely loud Superdome.

Along the way, the humble and easily likable Brees is setting NFL records nearly every week this season.

In September, Drew Brees broke Brett Favre’s record for most completed passes in an NFL career (6,300).

In October, Brees then eclipsed the NFL’s all-time passing yardage mark from Peyton Manning and now has over 72,000 yards (that’s about 41 miles!).

On Sunday, Drew Brees “passed” (ha ha) Favre and moved into second place in the NFL’s career touchdown list (now at 509).  Look out Peyton!  The Saints passing machine is now just thirty touchdowns behind your all-time record of 539.

Though the records obviously mean a lot to a talented leader like Drew Brees, it seems to me that he is motivated more than ever to get another Super Bowl ring with this team of talented players.

The Drew Brees Record Store is quite busy this season.  If the Saints keep winning, long time Saints favorite, “Who Dat Say They Gonna Beat Them Saints?”, could be replaced at the top of the charts in the Crescent City in February with yet another Drew Brees record.

Two Dat?!!!

Fantasy Island 2018

Oh, happy day!  I plunked down my annual donation last night to purchase another grossly overpriced ($10) Fantasy Football magazine to help formulate my picks and strategy for the upcoming NFL season.  My fantasy football league’s annual player selection draft is coming up in less than two weeks.

My lovely wife surprisingly approves of this endeavor.  For a minimal annual investment, she knows that I will immerse myself into an in-depth review of prior season football statistics, the upcoming NFL football schedules for every team, how many games will each team play in domes or outside, overlooked players, undervalued rookies, and other mostly-useless ideas to spend the next five months focused on issues other than household-related matters.

This is my seventh season playing in one league.  In the first year, I emerged victorious as the league champion!  Since then, though, I should have changed my team’s name to “The Bottom Feeders” as my former champions have reached the fantasy league playoffs only twice in the subsequent six seasons.

Last year, I accidentally marked down the wrong day for our Yahoo! Sports Fantasy League draft night.  When that happens, the Yahoo! Sports computer will select the best available player for the absentee team owner.  After spending a few hours getting ready to pick my squad, I was less than happy that I missed draft night!

Until the regular season started, that is.  Yes, the computer’s selections were so good that my team actually led the league for much of the season until fading down the stretch.  After bowing out of the playoffs in the first round, it felt good to have fielded a competitive team again.  Thanks, IBM Watson!

Now, at this point, you’re likely saying, “Why don’t you let the computer draft your players every season?”  You have a good point.  After starting out strong last season, yours truly couldn’t help himself and started tinkering with success by adding/dropping marginal players in an effort to keep my team on top.  Based on the flagging results by season’s end, Wile E. Coyote would have been proud as I launched my team off yet another proverbial cliff.

This is the genius of NFL fantasy football.  Every guy and gal playing has the chance to be a team owner (put up the money – if any – and name your team), the team’s general manager (to evaluate talent and select the right mix of players for your team), and the head coach (make those critical weekly decisions of which players have earned the right to start or those who will sit on your bench).

It’s all about that testosterone-fueled desire to compete and vanquish your opponents on a weekly basis.  Since most of us don’t play the game anymore, this is a much safer alternative to feel a part of the game.

Some people like to put up some money to play in fantasy football leagues, but not me.  After one year of playing in a “serious” cash league, I quickly lost enjoyment of the game itself by knowing exactly how much money the other guy just made after watching an instant replay of HIS player scoring a touchdown on a dazzling 80-yard pass.

Other people like having a chance to earn a little money for their efforts (especially when playing my team!).  Whatever works for you.  My fantasy career has been, at best, a break-even proposition.

Draft night is always the most fun part of the fantasy football season.  Some are done in person, while others of us draft via a nifty online version.  I have found it quite handy to have my lovely spouse nearby to help mark-off the players chosen by other team owners before it’s my turn again.  She really likes to observe how the draft works, but she has no interest in the weekly grind of selecting the players for the upcoming game.

When you have two minutes (or less) on the clock to determine your next choice, each round is a test of your ability to stay focused and make adjustments based on the selections of your opponents.  If it sounds like a lot of stress, you are correct!

With last year’s relative success with the computer’s selection, it makes you wonder why the NFL’s habitual bottom feeders don’t just save a lot of money and fire their general manager and their overpaid scouts and just let IBM Watson make the picks?  If the Cleveland Browns spend yet another year at the bottom of the NFL standings, this idea might gain a lot of momentum from the long-suffering fan base along Lake Erie.

Best of luck with your upcoming season on Fantasy Island.  And remember…

“Smiles, everyone!  Smiles!”

 

Brees agrees! Thursday Night Football must end!

After Thursday night’s 20-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, the Super Bowl champion quarterback of the New Orleans Saints has joined the growing list of NFL stars who want to see the end of Thursday night NFL football.  Why?  The number of injuries which his team suffered on less than four days of rest since their game played against Carolina late on Sunday afternoon.

Saints rookie running back sensation Alvin Kamara and offensive guard Senio Kelemete suffered concussions.  Rookie defensive end Trey Hendrickson was taken off the field via cart for examination (ankle injury – out for up to three weeks). Middle linebacker A.J. Klein and safety Kenny Vaccaro both left the game with possible groin injuries.

But wait, there’s more!  Wide receiver Michael Thomas, running back Mark Ingram and wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. all left at times during the game due to injuries suffered on Thursday night in a hard-fought 20-17 loss in Atlanta.

Many of the Saints were furious afterwards, including head coach, Sean Payton.  Coach Payton asked the media in the press room a question that seems quite obvious to everyone except the NFL ownership.

“Seriously, speak up?” Sean Payton said. “What do you guys think, why do you think there were so many injuries tonight?”

Super Bowl champion quarterback, Drew Brees, chimed in with his opinion on playing on Thursday nights.  It’s hard to disagree with him, too.

“It’s 100 percent a product of playing on Thursday night,” Brees said of the injuries. “Do you understand what guys’ bodies go through in a game? And then to have to turn around four days later and to play? Look at the injury studies: They’re off the charts. They’re off the charts. So is this smart as it pertains to guys’ health and safety? No, absolutely not.”

He added, “No player likes putting himself at risk on four days rest to come and put their bodies through what they put them through.  You hope it’s addressed, you hope it’s talked about, and you hope that something is done about it.”

You said it, Drew! Brees has also served as part of the NFL Players Union executive board, so his voice will definitely be heard when this issue is finally addressed after the season ends.

The NFL currently has a contract with CBS and NBC to continue carrying Thursday Night Football games though the 2017 season.  Here’s hoping that the NFL’s management and the players will do the right thing to allow all players a better chance to recuperate by ending Thursday Night Football games.

Regardless of the short-term profits which may be garnered by playing football on Thursday nights, the long-term benefits to the players and, for the owners, decreasing the amount of the NFL’s current overexposure would just seem like a smart thing to do.

Time will tell.

Want to win the Super Bowl? Get a Hall-of-Fame Quarterback!

If your favorite NFL team wants to win a Super Bowl, your best chance of winning should include having an NFL Hall-of-Fame caliber quarterback at the helm.  It’s true, and I have the statistics below to back-up my claim.

By every Super Bowl decade, your team will have its best chance to win with a Hall-of-Fame level quarterback running the offense.  In the first 10 Super Bowls, every winning quarterback eventually became an NFL Hall-of-Famer.  In subsequent Super Bowl Roman Numeral decades, a team with a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback won at least 60% of the time.  Out of 51 Super Bowl games played, an NFL Hall-of-Fame quarterback has led the winning team 68.63% of the time.

For the most recent decade, I have made a few assumptions:

  1.  Tom Brady = a virtual lock for Hall-of-Fame, so I have indicated him as a Hall-of-Famer
  2.  Peyton Manning = ditto
  3.  Drew Brees – based on his career NFL records/stats and 1 Super Bowl win, he’s likely in.
  4.  Aaron Rodgers – same as Brees above, but just a little bit less likely due to injuries, bad TV commercials, etc.

I’m currently NOT including 2-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger as a “lock” nor the NY Giants 2-time SB winner, Eli Manning, as future Hall-of-Famers.  Winning 2 Super Bowls during your career does not guarantee that you will be inducted into the NFL’s Hall-of-Fame (see also: Jim Plunkett).  Seattle’s Russell Wilson is certainly moving up the potential Hall-of-Fame chart every year and, with another Super Bowl win, could likely position himself for entry into the golden circle once his career ends.

Given Ben’s off-the-field issues several years ago, Eli’s great years/terrible years at quarterback, and Russell’s relative youth, I had to draw the line somewhere.

The moral of this story?  As the playoff season nears, and your team has a quarterback named Brady, Brees, or Rodgers running the show, your statistical chances of hoisting the championship trophy are higher than the other teams without a Hall-of-Fame level quarterback.

Here is the complete list of all 51 Super Bowl winning quarterbacks and whether they made (or should soon make) the NFL Hall-of Fame.

 

S.Bowl Winning QB Winning Team H-O-Fame?
1 Bart Starr Green Bay 1
2 Bart Starr Green Bay 1
3 Joe Namath NY Jets 1
4 Len Dawson Kansas City 1
5 Johnny Unitas Baltimore 1
6 Roger Staubach Dallas 1
7 Bob Griese Miami 1
8 Bob Griese Miami 1
9 Terry Bradshaw Pittsburgh 1
10 Terry Bradshaw Pittsburgh 1
11 Ken Stabler Oakland 1
12 Roger Staubach Dallas 1
13 Terry Bradshaw Pittsburgh 1
14 Terry Bradshaw Pittsburgh 1
15 Jim Plunkett Oakland
16 Joe Montana San Francisco 1
17 Joe Theismann Washington
18 Jim Plunkett Oakland
19 Joe Montana San Francisco 1
20 Jim McMahon Chicago
21 Phil Simms New York Giants
22 Doug Williams Tampa Bay
23 Joe Montana San Francisco 1
24 Joe Montana San Francisco 1
25 Jeff Hostetler New York Giants
26 Mark Rypien Washington
27 Troy Aikman Dallas 1
28 Troy Aikman Dallas 1
29 Steve Young San Francisco 1
30 Troy Aikman Dallas 1
31 Brett Favre Green Bay 1
32 John Elway Denver 1
33 John Elway Denver 1
34 Kurt Warner St. Louis 1
35 Trent Dilfer Baltimore
36 Tom Brady New England 1
37 Brad Johnson New York Giants
38 Tom Brady New England 1
39 Tom Brady New England 1
40 Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh
41 Peyton Manning Indianapolis 1
42 Eli Manning New York Giants
43 Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh
44 Drew Brees New Orleans 1
45 Aaron Rodgers Green Bay 1
46 Eli Manning New York Giants
47 Joe Flacco Baltimore
48 Russell Wilson Seattle
49 Tom Brady New England 1
50 Peyton Manning Denver 1
51 Tom Brady New England 1
35
68.63%

Idea #1 to improve the NFL – 10 men on defense!

After watching all or portions of three NFL games during Week 1, it has become apparent that NFL defenses (except for a hopeless few) continue to gain the advantage over NFL offenses again this year.

The NFL’s Week 1 saw six teams score fewer than 10 points while only four teams were able to put 30 or more points on the scoreboard on offense.  I do not wager on football games (I play the much safer stock market!), but I understand from reliable sources that 10 of the 15 NFL games played this week finished their games with the total number of points scored by both teams lower than the so-called “over-under” total points predicted by those talented investor groups based in Las Vegas.  Vegas likes 50-50 odds much better, so watch for declining values of “over-under” as the market adjusts going forward.

The NFL continues to drift further and further toward extinction as the game has become less spontaneous, more political (thank you, Mr. Kaepernick), and, on the whole, many NFL teams seem to have a tougher time scoring offensive touchdowns every year.  For these and other different reasons, viewership in the NFL is on the decline again as the 2017 season begins.

Though I will address the increasing number totally unnecessary (and downright lethal) violent defensive plays caused, in large part, by players leaving their feet and using their helmets/heads as a weapon in an upcoming blog post, fans are clamoring for more offense.  Who wants to see New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees continue throwing “dink and dunk” passes for less than 10 yards as one of the NFL’s most accurate passers struggled to find a few seconds to seek a downfield receiver against the Minnesota Vikings?  Would anyone have predicted that, on a beautiful clear and warm day in Green Bay, the offensive juggernaut Packers would score only 17 points while, equally shocking, only surrender just nine points to the Seattle Seahawks?  Most everyone had expected both of those teams to exceed 20 points apiece in a higher scoring game.

NFL defenses have blossomed of late by adding bigger, leaner, quicker,and meaner players while, on the whole, the number of truly gifted NFL quarterbacks has been in decline.  Better defenses versus weaker offenses = an increasing number of lower scoring NFL football games.  More boring and more snoring also leads to more viewers who are finding other things to do on Sunday afternoons rather than watch the Texans, Saints, Seahawks, Steelers, and NFL teams kicking field goals instead of scoring touchdowns.

So, what can be done to enhance scoring in the NFL?  I have given this some thought, so please hear me out.  We can agree that NFL quarterbacks now have less time to locate open receivers because of faster rushers coming at them and better coverage of would-be receivers by defensive secondaries.

Since the quarterback position is the key for more scoring in the NFL, what would happen if defenses had only 10 players instead of 11?  On the offensive side, the quarterback’s role (in general) is to (a) hand the ball to the running back and not block anyone or (b) throw the ball to an open receiver.  Due to the increasing punishment inflicted by defensive linemen and linebackers which all NFL quarterbacks must be acutely aware of, let’s add (c) run like crazy to get the first down and then duck quickly to avoid receiving a career-ending hit from an oncoming locomotive (ie –  defender).

In effect, this practical yet prolific change to the NFL would simply leave a quarterback and his 10 offensive players against 10 defenders.  The quarterback (generally) isn’t a running threat anyway.  By giving NFL defenses one less player to rush the quarterback or, if they choose, to cover pass receivers, the NFL quarterback would have an extra split second longer to pinpoint an open receiver and, hopefully, deliver the ball downfield more often.

The obvious result would be an increase in points scored on offense and, hopefully, fewer injuries to quarterbacks and offensive players (the Texans lost all three tight ends due to concussions in week 1!) by defenses which have become increasingly more dominant and, unfortunately, much more violent.  But more on that next time…