Now, let me state this up front: I watched very little of the NFL season. I decided at the beginning of the season that I would not spend a cent on any NFL products. The way the league handled domestic violence cases, their players protesting peacefully and the NFL not fully supporting them, their continued silence in regards to the correlation of football to CTE, my home team, the Washington franchise creating the narrative that their GM was a relapsed alcoholic in order to get him out of the building...all of those things made it hard to stomach watching another season of NFL football with a conscience.
The problem I ran into though was it is nearly impossible to ignore the NFL season when it's in gear. To make matters worse, this is not a sport that I picked up recently just to fit in. I've been a huge sports fan since I was a kid. I genuinely love the sport in spite of the NFL's flaws. So I watched a few clips here and there, read some articles, and absorbed what you jokers on social media had to say. It's surprising how much you can glean from these alternative sources. I didn't even have to watch a game this year to know that the Cowboys choked away their playoffs chances again!
"Fight for old...whoever will buy tickets"
For all you Washington fans who were laughing at the Cowboys joke...not so fast. You thought I was going to just rip Dallas and leave the HTTR crowd alone? You might be asking yourself: "Mike, how are you going to rip on Washington? You didn't watch any football this year!" You are correct in that assessment. However, living in the DC area, Washington football news is IMPOSSIBLE to avoid. Facebook, Twitter, the radio, TV, even work conversations inevitably lead to this team. And you know me...I gotta have an opinion about everything.
Here's something I noticed about this team and it's fans as I was able to pull myself away and look objectively: this fan base sucks. Seriously, y'all are the worst. You don't show up to games, you don't support the team when positivity could help on the field and then you wonder why the best they've done in the last decade is barely over .500. Here's the thing though, just as Robin Williams told Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting, "it's not your fault." Dan Snyder, Bruce Allen and that abomination of a stadium called Fed Ex Field have ruined this team for so long, how CAN you be a good fan for this team? Your owner makes a concerted effort to sell out his stadium no matter what and creates ticket packages for OPPOSING TEAM'S FANS! If you've been to a game in recent years, half the stadium is filled with jerkoffs from other cities! You hear them singing their fight songs in this cavernous monstrosity. The gameday experience sucks, the team is average at best and here we are; with idiots who think this team is playoff bound every year. Good gracious...
Captain Kirk, Boldly Going to Another City
And then there's Kirk Cousins. Everyone across the league looks at the gaudy numbers he puts up and thinks "why isn't this guy locked up to a long term contract?" None of us will know for sure. Is it Kirk? Is it Snyder and Bruce Allen? History states that it's most likely the ownership. I think that Washington is between a rock and a hard place. When RGIII imploded in front of our very eyes, management hoped that Cousins would be serviceable enough until they could get another franchise QB. Turns out Cousins is pretty good. In fact, he's damn good. The problem is that Danny boy was a huge RGIII fan and for him, it just isn't the same with Kirk. It's like when you date a girl and you're absolutely head-over-heels in love with her. She ends up breaking your heart because she's a narcissistic butthole. You end up finding another girl who isn't as pretty or flashy... but she's not crazy. The highs aren't as high, but the lows are never there. You crave those highs and keep comparing the stable, nice, great-team-player to that shooting star you had for a moment. STABILITY IS BETTER THAN FLASHES OF BRILLIANCE WHEN YOU HAVE TO DEAL WITH SUBWAY COMMERCIALS, SELF-OBSESSED PRESS CONFERENCES AND THOSE UGLY ASS SOCKS! GIVE THAT SOLID 6 A CONTRACT!
Now, don't let the previous statement serve as an endorsement for Mr. Cousins and his conversion-van-driving ass. They should have found a way to give him an extension a few years ago when it would have been cheap. Too late for that now because Kirk thinks he's worth a max contract. That mindset is either going to sink this team or land him somewhere else. Washington needs help on defense. They need help at running back. They also need a better corps of wide receivers and a #1 tight end who isn't hurt all the time. If Kirk ends up demanding max money and Washington concedes, both Kirk and Washington are boned. He will have none of the weapons necessary to take this team past mediocre. My bet is he ends up in Denver or Arizona. Frankly, Cousins never shows up in games when Washington REALLY needs him, and THAT is why he isn't elite. Look at the last two season finales against the Giants. If you were worth the money, you would have found a way to win both of those games. You like that?
In most seasons, there are plenty of other teams that should be proud of what they accomplished other than the Super Bowl competitors. Jacksonville, for example, should be incredibly proud of the progress they made in 2017. Until this season, the Jaguars hadn't been playoff contenders in the last decade. They turned their 3-13 season from 2016 into 10-6. That is something to be proud of and this team has a great deal of upside.
Tennessee was a surprise playoff team, as was Buffalo. The Vikings and Saints both performed much better than was expected from them...and what a playoff game they had. That was one of the most entertaining games in years. And the Los Angeles Rams, how about their season? That team is going to have a ton of upside for years to come. I do hate the blue and white helmets though. They look stupid. They should go back to the navy and yellow joints that they got famous wearing.
Plus, let me go out on a limb here: 2018 Super Bowl. Jacksonville vs LA Rams. PUT MONEY ON IT NOW! Or don't because I watched all of 2 quarters of football this season and I'm going off the concept of "unexpected new guys in the Super Bowl." Don't listen to me...unless I'm right in a years time. Then, I told you so.
Jimmy Garoppolo is a Grown Ass Man!
How many times have we seen a Patriots backup QB shine in New England and then get a contract with some scrub team and look awful? Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallet, and Matt Cassel are all cautionary tales in this matter. But not Jimmy Garoppolo. Oh no, Jimmy won 5 straight games as quarterback for the 49ers! Normally, a mid-season trade like his from New England to San Fran would be more about the following year, but Jimmy showed incredible promise. Before he led the team to those 5 victories, they only had 1. He managed to turn around the team's fortunes and made San Fran head coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch look like geniuses. Did he beat any top flight teams along the way? As a matter of fact, he took out the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Tennessee Titans and the divisional rival Los Angeles Rams who all were playoff squads. I can't wait to see what Garoppolo has in store for his follow up campaign. In fact, if the Niners don't sign him, he would be an unrestricted free agent. If Lynch is smart (which he looks to be thus far), he will make it happen. Either way, Garoppolo was already a sought after commodity BEFORE the trade. Now he might be the biggest potential free agent on the market.
DAMN IT, CLEVELAND!
The poor Cleveland Browns, man this team just can't catch a break, can they? This isn't like a team of drug addicts and violent offenders full of controversy and negative news stories (*cough cough* 90s Cowboys *cough cough*), they just couldn't find a way to win any games this year. The underdog-rooting side of me hopes that these guys find a way to put together a winning season and a championship run one of these days. Their fans deserve a good team. They threw them a parade for their 0-16 season! That's loyalty!
Now, I have a lot of Steelers fans for friends who I am sure would vehemently disagree with my sentiment. They can't stand anything Cleveland. Most passionate sports fans have a city they despise due to sports rivalries (DALLAS!!! ALL OF DALLAS!!!). Have some sympathy Pittsburgh-ers; y'all have 6 championships! Give poor Cleveland a break. Wishing their demise only makes you look cruel.
It is STILL Just A Game
There has been an ugly trend I've noticed this year with football fans. A good deal of them are uncaring psychopaths. The National Anthem protests exposed an ugly side to many NFL fans: they want their players to shut up and not have a political opinion. In fact, if they DO have an opinion and silently protest, that isn't appropriate either. Even after a former green beret approved of Colin Kaepernick's protest tactic, that still wasn't enough for some fans. Believe what you want about the anthem and the flag but the bottom line is this: if you can't even attempt to sympathize with someone else's struggles or feelings about a growing problem such as police violence against people of color, then you are truly an uncaring soul (GASP, didn't remember that was what this protest was all about, did you?).
These players risk their lives and future health to play a game for your enjoyment and some of you have the nerve to wish that they would die if they miss a tackle? That's disgusting. People deleted Marcus Williams, the young Saints Safety who missed the tackle on Stefon Diggs' amazing last second touchdown, from their Madden rosters because of one missed tackle. ONE MISSED TACKLE. The guy had an amazing season as a rookie and you're going to cut this guy from your video game roster? How petty can you possibly be? What happened to "ride or die?" These same fans were probably singing this kid's accolades a few weeks before when he picked Matt Ryan off twice. Same thing with Eagles fans who were throwing bottles at Vikings fans during the NFC Championship game. IT. IS. A. GAME. You are causing violence because someone paid the same dumb amount of money you did for an authentic jersey that just happens to be a different color? You look down on someone because they happen to like one group of millionaires more than your preferred group of millionaires...seriously? Have some compassion for your fellow man! By all means, talk some shit, give each other a hard time, but to take something that is A GAME this seriously is embarrassing. If the NFL is looking for more reasons why their ratings are slipping, this is part of it.
Super Bowl of Jerks
It's Super Bowl time, the time of the year where two fan bases get to puff their chests and brag about their awesome teams. And those two fan bases just happen to be two of the most obnoxious in all of sports.
Don't get me wrong, I am a Pats fan and have been since I was 12 (call me a bandwagon hopper...i dare you) and as far as Philly goes, I love that city and have a lot of family and friends who share that love.... but their fans. Boston and Philadelphia sports fan are some of the WORST. Philadelphia is notorious for projectile vomiting on opposing team's fans, throwing batteries at former players, chucking snowballs at Santa Claus and cheering when opposing team's players are injured. Boston is not that much better. They own their own history of some horribly racist phrases hurled at the other team...AND EVEN THEIR OWN PLAYERS! All the frightening examples of horrible fandom notwithstanding, there is a certain respect you give for that kind of loyalty to a bunch of millionaires who just happen to play in your home city. Not only that, there are millions of fans for both the Pats and Eagles who are not annoying, violent, racist dickheads. Just like with anything else, a few rotten apples spoil the bunch.
Either way, one of two things will come from this Super Bowl: The Pats will be the most tied for the most Super Bowl wins of any franchise or the Eagles will finally shut up all those people who knock them for never winning a Super Bowl. Either will be significant for sure...but no matter the result we're going to have to hear 2 of the most vocal fan bases talk about it until August.
Football is America's game. Even with a slip in ratings, it still is outpacing the NBA, the NHL and Major League Baseball pretty convincingly. This year has been quite an exciting one for football, even with all the extracurricular political non-sense that our "President" stirred up. Let me leave you with a final thought: want to know why the NFL's ratings are down the last few years? 2 reasons: One, In many states, daily fantasy sports betting is illegal now. Secondly, the NFL doesn't have to make you happy because their is no competition. They're the only game in town and they've over-saturated the market with their product that hasn't evolved since the early 90's when free agency became a thing. Kneeling protests causing ratings to slip? Nah...the NFL is outdated. Think about how many people don't have cable any more. You know where most of the NFL's money comes from? Those giant network contracts. They better watch out: Vince McMahon is bringing back the XFL...and I bet he learned from the mistakes he made last time.
Stay tuned ROCKDEEP ROGUE RADIO readers. The real experts will have their take on the NFL season, too. Make sure you check out Yolanda's upcoming article about her take-aways from the 2017 season.