It might be a case of illegal clipping.
MMQB preamble, Homage to the Opening of High School Football Season:
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- To Bears coach Lovie Smith, the Olympic competition he watched every night after training camp meetings in his dorm room at Olivet Nazarene University was a vital football lesson for everyone in the game.
While the entire NFL world has been fixated on every detail and development in his year-plus battle with his neck issues, Peyton Manning wasn't the only player who had his 2011 ruined by injury. His lost season just happened to generate more media coverage than the plight of all other injured players combined, given that his absence set off a chain of events that rendered it the most impactful injury in league history.
The NFL is both beloved and exalted in the pantheon of spectator sports because absolutely no one knows what will unfold from week to week. But that doesn't stop us from predicting up a storm when it comes to the season just ahead. More than two months away from the full-scale opening of training camps, here are seven strong hunches we're willing to share in a bold foretelling of 2012's storylines to come:
With the draft and free agency having reordered depth charts around the league, it's time to take stock of the positional battles that will be worth watching unfold once training camps open. Here are 10 intriguing depth-chart competitions that warrant our attention this summer:
When his team plays at home, the Red Sox manager holds press conferences in front of a red brick wall that lends an unintentional air of comedy or tragedy to his every utterance, the brick-wall backdrop being synonymous with stand-up comedy and firing squads and official announcements from the Boston Red Sox, for whom April has alternated between farce and doom.
Michael Brockers is hot, Ryan Tannehill may not be. The old draft trade chart is out the window, the Jags have an itchy trigger finger, Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd have the attention of the Rams, Seattle may not want to move as much as the current rumor suggests and, speaking of rumors, I'd advise you not to believe many of them about moving up.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. --The most famous backup quarterback in NFL history stepped onto the artificial turf of the New York Jets practice facility at 12:06 p.m. on Monday afternoon. He smiled as he walked past the yard markers on the field, the click-click-click of cameras marking his every step. Tim Tebow then stepped up to the podium to address the congregation, and what he saw was a three-deep row of 36 cameras in front of him. "How's it going?" Tebow said. "Good to see all y'all. Lot of people here."
The Denver Broncos announced Wednesday night they had finalized a trade that sends high-profile quarterback Tim Tebow to the New York Jets.
Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter explains why Tim Tebow might make a good fit for the New York Jets.
Whether he becomes a bit player in the Jets offense or pushes Mark Sanchez to the sideline, Tim Tebow's arrival in New York carries immediate benefits but also some risk. In two short seasons, Tebow has become one of the most famous and polarizing athletes in sports, and now he joins one of the NFL's most volatile and unpredictable locker rooms.
Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we digest the doings of the first 24 hours or so of the NFL's always frenzied free agency period...
As this year's NFL free agency period opens, teams will be wrestling with age-old issues: risk vs. reward, talent vs. trouble, injury history, how a player fits in the team's current locker room and whether that player is worth potentially overpaying if his price rises in the open market. It's all part of the game of March.
So let me get this straight: The guy who once said he plays when he wants to play wants to play again? Ah, but it takes somebody to want him to play for them, and that's where Randy Moss's big 35th birthday un-retirement announcement on Monday comes out sounding like the proverbial one-sided conversation at the moment.
With the glow (and the now annual blame-game fallout) of the Super Bowl dying down, we turn our attention to the long NFL offseason, which won't end until teams start reporting for training camp in late July. Here are the 10 questions that most intrigue me as the league transitions into player acquisition and draft evaluation mode....
The road map to success in today's NFL starts with the quarterback and revolves around the passing game. Look at the league's top teams -- the Super Bowl champion Giants, runner-up Patriots, regular-season-best Packers, etc. -- most boast top QBs and highly productive pass offenses.
The New York Giants parade through the heart of Manhattan, celebrating a dramatic win in Super Bowl XLVI.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Call it the Reluctant Touchdown. Ahmad Bradshaw's awkward and unwilling flop into the end zone is part of Super Bowl lore now -- there with Rice-to-Montana, there with David Tyree's helmet catch, there with Lynn Swann's ballet, there with Mike Jones' tackle one yard shy. Those moments defined their times. In many ways, The Reluctant Touchdown defines ours.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we digest the Giants' impossibly dramatic and gritty 21-17 defeat of the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI Sunday night in Lucas Oil Stadium. As it turns out, it was a rematch, and a redux, indeed...
A ticker tape parade awaits the New York Giants this week when the team returns home as Super Bowl champions after defeating the New England Patriots on a last-minute touchdown.
There is no sweeter scenario for a Super Bowl broadcaster than a game hanging in the balance, and NBC's ratings for the Giants' 21-17 victory over the Patriots on Sunday will almost assuredly top last year's Super Bowl on FOX, which averaged 111 million viewers and became the most-watched television program in U.S. history. But how was the NBC broadcast for viewers? It's time to hand out grades.
Grading out performances from the New York Giants' nailbiting 21-17 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI:
INDIANAPOLIS -- Eli Manning stirred controversy when he declared himself an elite quarterback at the start of the 2011 season.
Triumphing in a thriller, quarterback Eli Manning led the New York Giants on Sunday to their second Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots in four years.
For the past few days, the NFL punditry here has been remarkably divided on predictions for Super Bowl XLVI. For every expert espousing New England Patriots' depth and balance there is another waxing rhapsodic about the New York Giants' "momentum" and "destiny." Las Vegas echoed this ambivalence, as the gambling line continues to shift.
Not in a long time has the pre-Super Bowl chatter been so dominated by one player's body part.
INDIANAPOLIS -- This city's outdone itself. It's been a great game site for the Super Bowl. So much to do downtown, all on foot, and the natives and even the drunks are in great moods. The meteorologists have helped, but there's something to be said for a vibrant downtown hosting everything at a Super Bowl, and holding the Super Bowl in a place where you never have to get in a car.
One of the great myths about the NFL is that the salary cap affords the league much better competitive balance than is possible in the cap-less Major League Baseball. This would not be a good week to be promoting that myth, seeing that the New York Giants and New England Patriots have become what Meryl Streep and George Clooney are to the Oscars. Ho-hum. The Giants and Patriots have filled one-third of the available spots over the past 12 Super Bowls.
Across the country, fans of the New England Patriots are wondering whether Tom Brady will return to top form this Sunday, whether Gronk's ankle will hold up, and whether cornerback Julian Edelman can shut down the Giants' dangerous receivers. But here in Beantown, folks ask still another question: Will the Pats go out and win this one for Myra?
If you love the passing game, you'll love Super Bowl XLVI. In fact, it's a watershed moment in the evolution of pro football.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight from the exercise in pack journalism that was Tuesday's Super Bowl media day at the beehive known as Lucas Oil Stadium, which served to remind me once again that when it comes to this over-hyped event, alas, we're farther away all the time from chatting up Namath at poolside...
INDIANAPOLIS -- Sure, they seem unbeatable now. Dare we say, even super. The Patriots enter this week with a league-best 10-game winning streak that began in mid-November, and the Giants are on yet another improbable and magical postseason run, with five consecutive elimination-game victories to their credit and a world of mojo in their favor.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Lots going on as we draw nearer to The Rematch Bowl of Super Bowl 46. (That's right, I'm not a big Roman numeral guy.)
FOXBORO, Mass. -- During Bill Belichick's tenure in New England, the Patriots have gradually transformed themselves from a lunch-pail group of players who fed off other's disrespect to an offensively brilliant glamour team. The first group won Super Bowls; the second lacked a key ingredient for postseason success. They got it back Sunday to hold off the Baltimore Ravens 23-20 in a win that felt more like 2001 than 2012.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight from a down-to-the-wire Championship Sunday. We had three-point thrillers, from coast to coast...
Grading out the performances in the New England Patriots' narrow 23-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game.
Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we wrap our brains around the new realities that the divisional playoffs have wrought: The Giants and 49ers move on, and the Packers and Saints don't. There's nothing like the plot twists you get in the NFL's postseason....
FOXBORO, Mass. -- Before Saturday night, New England hadn't won a playoff game in four years. From the looks of what the Patriots put on display against Denver, they're not going to have to wait four years before winning another.
Grading out the performances from San Francisco's New England's dominant 45-10 beatdown of the Denver Broncos in Saturday's AFC divisional round matchup.
1. Tom Brady's paper-tiger Patriots need this win more than Tim Tebow's magical Broncos.
Sign me up for the notion that the NFL's divisional playoff round typically makes for the best weekend of the season, with the league's elite eight pairing off in four bursts of high-stakes elimination football. Here are eight of the best storylines that provide a backdrop of the action on tap:
The NFL coaching saga known as the "Courtship of Jeff Fisher'' continued without resolution Wednesday as both the St. Louis Rams and Miami Dolphins awaited word of a decision from him regarding their head coaching offers.
I write and tweet about the Hall of Fame so much, and my buddy Don "Donnie Brasco'' Banks always tells me to stop doing it -- because the more I do it, the more I unleash the masses, angry that this guy or that guy didn't make the Hall -- or, in this case, didn't make the list of the finalists for enshrinement in the Hall when the 44-person Board of Selectors meets in Indianapolis Feb. 4.
Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we break down the NFL's 12-team playoff field from as many angles as occur to us...
Musings, observations and the occasional insight from a Week 17 that gave us playoff-scenario drama, record-breaking performances and the close of another unpredictable regular season in the NFL...
The arithmetic is unrelenting. Since 1989, NFL teams have hired on average 6.5 new head coaches a year, and there have been a staggering 82 coaching changes made in the league from 2000-on. Only one team, the Philadelphia Eagles, has completely sat out the frenzy in that department, having brought a young and promising Andy Reid to town in 1999.
1. The Saints will beat the Ravens in the Super Bowl. May as well start off with a prediction bound to lead to angry responses, right? This one's not so much an indictment of the Packers, who might be on the verge of becoming a dynasty again, as it is an admission that the Saints are really, really good. Almost all of that confidence comes from Drew Brees' continued spectacular performance. The Saints took Green Bay to the wire in Week 1. On the other side of things, even with the AFC road likely going through New England, the Steelers and Ravens have the best mixes of offense and defense. Baltimore has had Pittsburgh's number this season and looks poised to take the AFC North crown. That means the Steelers might have to win in Batimore to get to the Super Bowl, which the Ravens won't allow.
Musings, observations and the occasional insight from a rare Christmas Eve full of football in the NFL's Week 16.....
What I recall most is that Christmas dinner was on the table and ready to be served, but the Dolphins were driving late in regulation, a fact my mother seemed completely oblivious to. It was an impossible choice to make, not that I truly had one. The holiday dinner would go on as planned for our family of six, even while I did everything I could to keep an eye on the best football game I had ever seen.
My updated Sweet Six after Monday night's 49er beatdown of the Steelers:
DENVER -- Here's the thing the Denver Broncos learned about magic Sunday afternoon at Sports Authority Field: It just doesn't work as well in a three-score game.
New England Patriots (10-3) at Denver Broncos (8-5)
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight in a Week 14 that had more than its share of frantic finishes, like the ones that unfolded in Washington, Tennessee, Cincinnati and Detroit...
If you have followed this space this season, you might recall the stubbornness with the prediction running backs would pay us back. It hasn't really happened to the extent we thought, but they sure did come through this week.
While the remarkable rise of Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos has dominated the headlines and captivated fans in the season's second half, there have been plenty other surprising examples of what we'll call the Danny Woodhead Effect, a lightly regarded player who emerges to overachieve beyond all reasonable expectations.
Don't weep for Jack Del Rio. The just-fired Jaguars head coach was playing with house money. Or at least Wayne Weaver's.
After throwing his single-game-career-high fourth touchdown pass on Sunday, a 16-yard strike to Santonio Holmes with 61 seconds to play that lifted the Jets to a 28--24 victory over the visiting Bills, Mark Sanchez basically shrugged when later asked about the team rallying to win a critical game.
Musings, observations and the occasional insight from a Week 12 in the NFL that helped separate the pretenders from the contenders as December looms....
It's been an odd season in New England, where the Patriots defense springs the odd leak and Tom Brady turns the ball over more than usual. The Albert Haynesworth experiment fizzled. Chad Ochocinco has been quieter than anyone thought. The Patriots secondary is beset by injury. And yet the Patriots, after a thorough 34-3 victory over the Chiefs on Monday night, sit atop the AFC East at 7-3 with a two-game lead over the reeling Bills and Jets. Is New England Super Bowl ready? Are the Chiefs toast in 2011? Those questions will be answered in time, but here's what we learned Monday night.
I love Thanksgiving. Always have. It's the food mostly, and seeing family I haven't seen in a while. Football's always been a part of it, but never the central part. This year might be different. This week, I'm going to politely have to say, "Uh, I need to watch 10 hours of football on Thanksgiving.''
CHICAGO -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we digest a Week 11 that looked dreadful on paper but wound up playing out as one of the most entertaining Sundays of the NFL season....
In a league where the quarterback news cycle never really ends, we've got plenty to chew on again this week: Matt Schaub out for the time being and maybe longer in Houston, with Matt Leinart getting an unexpected chance to restart his career for the first-place Texans; Tyler Palko taking over for the injured Matt Cassel in Kansas City; John Skelton's continued emergence in Arizona, and his outperforming of injured starter Kevin Kolb thus far.
Many months ago I asked you to coin new words for familiar concepts in sports and you replied in great numbers, from places farflung and nearflung -- a word that doesn't exist but ought to, which is the whole point of this exercise.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Things we learned from New England's less-than-artistic but still-satisfying 37-16 victory over the New York Jets Sunday night at MetLife Stadium ...
Here's an odd little fact -- injuries tend to go down about this point in the season. There's no one reason why. There's certainly a survivors effect, and late in the season, some teams begin to rest players or look at rookies. There are always injuries at some level, and the perception remains up, but the numbers bear this out. It trends slightly downward from Week 1, dropping off sharply in Week 10 and 12. Injuries linger across the season, so it's tougher for even dedicated medheads to discern this pattern. Then again, it may not really matter in what order or pattern injuries occur. Early-season injuries may cost more points, but the longer adjustment time for real or fantasy teams diminishes it to some extent. That said, there are plenty of injuries to talk about today, so let's look around the league. Remember, I'll have my normal 11.30 a.m. ET chat here to get the latest info to you as the inactive lists roll out as well as updates all morning.
With Week 9 finished and 130 of the NFL's 256-game regular season now in the books, we're almost exactly halfway through the story in 2011. The second half of the season shapes up as an intriguing and wide-open affair, with 20 of the league's 32 teams still playing .500-or-better ball, and 18 clubs either in first place or within two games of the lead in their division.
This may be the week offense came down to earth, and the league got back on its axis of normalcy. But before I get into the two Games of the Week, Eli Manning playing at a postseason 2007 level (sweet music to Giant ears everywhere) and a very weird scene involving Rex Ryan and a Belichick bobblehead, let's turn our eyes west. To Aaron Rodgers, who is halfway to the best season a quarterback has ever had in the 92-year history of the NFL.
Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we take in a Week 9 in the NFL that was pretty friendly to road teams, with eight of them -- the Jets, Dolphins, Falcons, 49ers, Bengals, Broncos, Giants, and Packers -- winning ...
Like it or not, and many find it an awkward situation at best, the race in reverse that is the Andrew Luck sweepstakes will be one of the dominant and most frequently updated storylines in the second half of the NFL's 2011 season.
PITTSBURGH -- At 2-2, coming off that humbling and ragged Week 4 loss in Houston, they looked old, slow and perhaps even insufficiently motivated. Now, not quite a month later, the Pittsburgh Steelers just look dangerous. Once again.
PITTSBURGH -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight in a Week 8 that started out looking like Upset Sunday, but then settled down considerably as the games wore on....
San Diego Chargers (4-1) at New York Jets (3-3)
In this pass-happy NFL, it was a breath of fresh air -- fantasy relief? -- to see a revival of running backs. It has been long overdue.
The San Diego Chargers are 4-1 and heading into a bye, but that doesn't stop them from dominating your interest in this week's fantasy mailbag.
FOXBORO, Mass. -- Strange and curious vibe in the Jets' locker room after Sunday's deflating 30-21 loss to the Patriots, a team New York beat here at Gillette Stadium in the AFC playoffs not quite nine months ago. To be sure, you could tell the Jets lost this game, but there was a lot of energy spent on finding silver linings in the defeat, and that just doesn't mesh very well with the image of the bold and brash New Yorkers of the three-year Rex Ryan coaching era.
Every once in a while, we're reminded that maybe the NFL schedule makers really do know what they're doing after all. Week 5 provides us with ample evidence.
Ten Things that surprise me about the NFL at the quarter-pole:
At the quarter pole of the 2011 season, the NFL has seen an interesting twist surface on the familiar length-of-game issue. If you've been paying attention through the first four weeks of the schedule, by now you know that games are never over, even when they seem over. You could say that the art of the comeback is making a comeback in the NFL, except for the fact we've never seen historic comebacks like this before. To wit:
New England Patriots (2-1) at Oakland Raiders (2-1)
Before this one, the last, best week for the Oakland Raiders was almost eight years ago, in late January 2003.
As brash and bold as ever, Rex Ryan can talk the talk with any NFL head coach who has ever donned the headset. But Baltimore outside linebacker Terrell Suggs takes a back seat to no one in terms of self-confidence, self-expression and big-game buildup. And that's just one of the many reasons Sunday night's reunion-themed matchup between the Jets and Ravens makes for the NFL's centerpiece showdown of Week 4.
So what do you want? The good news or the bad news?
Ah, the NFL. You never can truly peg it.
It never takes long for an NFL season to prove us wrong. Three weeks into the tale of 2011, conventional wisdom is already on something of a losing streak. Things might be all hiccups and giggles in Detroit and Buffalo, where the 3-0 Lions and Bills appear headed for a Rust Belt Super Bowl matchup -- wouldn't that be something? -- but early season problems abound in some unlikely venues around the league.
CHICAGO -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we take in a tight, taut and thrilling Week 3 in the NFL that featured seven of the early eight games being decided by a touchdown or less ...
We'll also be doing regular updates here on Sunday morning as new info comes in.
(This story first appeared in SI in 1992.)
When the 80-year-old HBO boxing announcer Larry Merchant wistfully told Floyd Mayweather on Saturday night, "I wish I was 50 years younger and I would kick your ass," he was following a grand athletic tradition in which one man (and it's always a man) expresses a desire (never fulfilled) to propel his foot with malign intent at another man's posterior.
ATLANTA -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight from Week 2 in the NFL, where long-suffering fans in Buffalo, Detroit and Washington are loving the football revivals that are underway in 2011 ...
No team in the NFL's Week 1 surpassed expectations more than the Buffalo Bills. Their 34-point blowout win at Kansas City was the largest margin of victory in the league's 16 opening-week games, and in embarrassing a Chiefs team that won the AFC West and owned six more wins than they did in 2010 (10-6 compared to 4-12), the underdog Bills also handily led the way in terms of the upset factor. As it turns out, any given Sunday was last Sunday in Kansas City.
We're invariably drawn to the storylines that involve the concept of second chances and second career acts in professional sports, and the NFL in Week 1 provided numerous examples of players who were starting over, either with a new team in a new city, or under the auspices of a new coaching staff that offered them a clean, blank slate.
New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott isn't just getting ready for the Dallas Cowboys in Sunday's NFL season opener. He's taking on two additional opponents as well: Twitter and the iPad.
The prediction business is a foolish and risky game in the ever-changing NFL, but hey, somebody's got to do it. So here goes, 20 bold predictions as we stare down the start of the 2011 regular season:
SI.com is previewing all eight divisions throughout the week in anticipation of the 2011 season kicking off. (Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we run down the winners and losers in the all-important (OK, more important?) Week 3 of the NFL's preseason. The games don't count, but the perceptions sure do ...
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- The Buffalo Bills are dealing with several injuries that are testing their roster depth just a couple of weeks into the preseason.
You will spend countless hours this season agonizing over whom to start based on matchups. Frankly, it can be unnecessary minutiae. Most of the time you should just stick with the guys you drafted to carry you; just use matchups to break ties.
Not that it's a quarterback-driven league or anything, but here's a quick recap of what's transpired in the past few days when it comes to the NFL's passing set: