Ahead of Super Bowl Sunday, the New York Times Magazine's Mark Leibovich dives deep into Tom Brady, one of the "most famous [people] in the world nobody knows," and finds a man "bent on nothing less than subverting the standard expectations of how long a superstar quarterback can play like one." Meanwhile, questions continue to swirl about whether the Patriots deflated balls in their playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts -- and if so, how and why, with Coach Bill Belichick appearing to point the finger at Brady, the superstar quarterback himself. Others question the Deflategate/Ballghazi hype. [more inside]
From That Guy On Your Fantasy Football Team, With Love — Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas writes for The Players' Tribune about the pros and cons of being a prominent fantasy football asset
I’ve been watching Odell Beckham practice similar one-handed catches for the past several weeks. He caught half a dozen in practice before Sunday’s game, and had an amazing one-handed fingertip catch in practice several weeks ago. So he was definitely on my radar screen. Today I was making a point of keeping track of where Beckham lined up, so I would be ready. -- The New York Times interviews photographers about how they themselves caught this incredible catch in the Giants game last night.
How much is a brain worth to the NFL? FRONTLINE reporter Jason Breslow hosts a three minute video on the latest development between the NFL and former players. What's the monetary value of a human brain in this context? [more inside]
Among a rising chorus of folks speaking out about problems caused by America's obsession with football at every level, author (and fan) Steve Almond's voice stands out the loudest. His new book Against Football argues that "our allegiance to football legitimizes and even fosters within us a tolerance for violence, greed, racism, and homophobia." In a nutshell "Fans should stop watching." Needless to say the book has provoked a strong reaction in fans (and defensive sportswriters), most notably in New York Mag, with Jonathan Chait's personal story of how football made him a better person: "In Defense of Male Aggression: What Liberals Get Wrong About Football". [more inside]
When I won, as a high school junior, a state-wide essay writing competition, I was invited with sundry other academic winners to a celebration at the capitol. Rick Perry was to preside. All of us — champions in debate, calculus, physics, music, literary criticism, and more — gathered on the floor of the Texas state senate to accept Governor Perry’s congratulations. Perry took the podium as he does, with all folksy gravitas, gripping its edges in each hand. But when he addressed us he didn’t talk about academic achievement. He talked about football.The Homecoming Queen: Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig writes about Texas, football dreams, and homecoming mums. [more inside]
Earlier today, TMZ released a new video (warning: graphic/disturbing) of a February 12 incident involving NFL running back Ray Rice and his then-fiancée. A few hours after the video's release, the team terminated Rice's contract; shortly thereafter, the NFL reportedly suspended Rice indefinitely. [more inside]
A county-by-county breakdown of NFL fandom across the United States, or: nowhere is home for a Jets fan.
The 2014 NFL season begins tomorrow, and with it comes the return of MeFi Favorite Jon Bois' weekly quest to destroy the laws of God, man and video-game football, Breaking Madden. The first installment, in which he seeks to record 201 sacks in a single game with Houston Texans rookie Jadeveon Clowney, is already up. Breaking Madden previously. His similar basketball series, NBA Y2K.
"Friends tell me I’ll be remembered as the author of the definitive book on football [The Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football]. Or as the writer who popularized weekly NFL picks. Or one of the early crossovers into 24-hour sports television. To me, none of that matters. Right now, I’m just a guy whose library went dark on November 22, 2008."[auto play video] - Paul Zimmerman, known as Dr. Z, collaborates with Ken Rodgers, the supervising producer for NFL Films, to tell his story. Thank you, Dr. Z. Yours truly, Everybody.
Eight former National Football League players have filed a class-action suit against the NFL for illegally pumping them full of painkillers and other drugs to keep them playing. [more inside]
Ralph Wilson, owner of the Buffalo Bills since 1959, has passed away at the age of 95. Wilson was the last of the eight AFL team owners known as the "Foolish Club," and is notable for his continued support of other small market teams, including voting against moving the Cleveland Browns in 1995 (one of only two to do so), and subsequently hosting a Browns Day in Buffalo. He saved the Oakland Raiders from bankruptcy, and insisted that the AFL postpone their games the day after JFK's assassination. As positive memories were shared on twitter from around the league, Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY, has left a light on in his honor.
"This project started with my dad on Thanksgiving. He was reminiscing about Doug Williams, who in 1988 became the first black quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl. All these years later, he was still proud of Williams, whose name to some may be that of a half-remembered player from the past but to millions of others remains a powerful symbol of progress. It stayed with me, and it seemed that it was worth telling the story not just of Williams, but of everyone—of all those generations of players who struggled so that Russell Wilson could be, simply, a good young quarterback." Deadspin's The Big Book of Black Quarterbacks.
Jared Lorenzen briefly played backup quarterback in the NFL and became famous for his unusual size (for a quarterback). When videos of him dominating minor league arena football recently appeared online, SBNation tracked his entire fascinating post-NFL history in Jared Lorenzen: 300+ pound QB, American folk hero.
NFL holds Super Bowl in NYC; NYC unimpressed. While the stadium is technically in New Jersey, it is considered equally if not primarily a New York stadium, and the NFL turned Times Square and Broadway into Super Bowl Boulevard Engineered By GMC. Visitors can kick a football, watch television, ride a toboggan, shop, enjoy a free slice of Papa John's pizza, play XBox, take a photo with the oversized Roman numerals 'XLVIII', use relevant Twitter hashtags, and more. It is not decadent and depraved, though Vice and Gothamist would tend to disagree. The Times discusses less vehement disapproval and disappointment, while Business Insider wishes ill upon the city. Ticket sales are faltering relative to recent years, with the new mayor among those skipping out.
This NFL season, Jon Bois has been on a weekly mission to turn Madden 25 from a reasonably accurate video game simulation of football into strange and wonderful things using only the character editor and rules options already present in the game. He's created BEEFTANK, an unstoppable 400 pound quarterback/bowling ball. He turned off the offsides rule in a quest for 60 fumbles. He demonstrated to us all that Pat McAfee is the Destroyer of Worlds. He's proven that you can NEVER count out Touchdown Tom. Today, he ended the season with a Super Bowl for the ages. In short, he has Broken Madden. (previously) [more inside]
With another week to go before the Superbowl, tide yourself over with a brand-spankin'-new NFL Bad Lip Reading Video! (Previously, previously.)
A Guide To American Football. [2:48 Video] Superbowl Sunday is fast approaching. If you do not know the rules of American Football, here is a chance to learn.
Just as anything you said about Tebow was right, anything you said was wrong. And probably offensive to someone. To many Christians he was a hero, a paragon of virtue in an age of great sin, and this feeling complicated any rational measurement of his quarterbacking talent. Tebow has accepted a role as an NCAA football analyst and shown promise. [more inside]
"Hello. My name is Chris Kluwe, and for eight years I was the punter for the Minnesota Vikings. In May 2013, the Vikings released me from the team. At the time, quite a few people asked me if I thought it was because of my recent activism for same-sex marriage rights, and I was very careful in how I answered the question." [more inside]
Watching one of the exciting snow-bound football games yesterday, the thought may have occurred to you: If I was a coach, would I go for it on this 4th down? This bot from the New York Times will tell you, and maybe even add a little attitude to the answer, which is usually much more aggressive than NFL coaches.
SBNation, YouTube's independent sports network, presents "Sunday Symphony: How the NFL's most advanced game broadcast is made." "An exclusive, all access look at the people, technology, and highly organized chaos that results in the NFL's most advanced game broadcast."
The NFL's Modern Man: How Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin — a bike-riding, socially conscious, Animal Collective–loving hipster — is redefining what it means to be a football player.
Mike Tanier of Sports on Earth discusses poorly designed sports team logos throughout history.
The much-anticipated Frontline documentary "League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis" premiered on PBS last week. In August, ESPN pulled out of the project, reportedly due to pressure from the NFL (as previously discussed on MetaFilter here), while the NFL itself only days later announced a $765m settlement with over 4500 former players for claims of concussion-related disability. Reaction to the Frontline program was unsurprisingly mixed from factions involved with the issue, but generally well-received by journalists and TV critics. [more inside]
There has long been protest about the name of Washington's NFL team - the "Redskins". In September, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell changed his stance from supporting the name, to saying "if one person is offended, we have to listen." Then last week the President of the United States sided with changing the team's name. Shortly afterward, the NFL agreed to have representatives meet with the Oneida Nation about the name in the next month. Then yesterday Washington team owner Dan Snyder wrote a letter to fans and season ticket holders in an attempt to defend the name "Redskins". But one writer tells what Snyder essentially said with his letter. Amid an official campaign and groundswell of support for changing the name, Ray Harbritter of the Oneida Nation professed "This is not going to away this time" [more inside]
We all just scratched our heads and wondered, ‘Where's the Ricky Bell we all know?'" Ricky Bell, former USC Trojan and member of the College Football Hall of Fame, was the number one pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1977 NFL draft, ahead of Tony Dorsett. But his injury-plagued career resulted in only one brilliant season , until he was traded to the San Diego Chargers in 1982. Less than three years later, he was dead.
Fantasy football is back, and this year brings with it the rise of Fantasy Football Insurance. Marketplace explains. [more inside]
Paul Solotaroff of Rolling Stone investigates the life of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez and the path he took from NFL player to murder suspect.
The New York Times is reporting that pressure from the NFL led ESPN to pull out of an investigative project with FRONTLINE regarding head injuries in American Football. The two-part investigative report and book will reveal how the NFL, over a period of nearly two decades, sought to cover up and deny mounting evidence of the connection between football and brain damage. ESPN has a $15.2 Billion deal with the NFL. (Football concussions previously: 1, 2, and 3)
Since the Riley Cooper story broke last week, writer Khalid Salaam has "had an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other" about how to react. [more inside]
Offenses attack; defenses react. This is a truism, but it's a truism on which almost all sports strategy is built. In the NFL today, no tactic more pressingly requires a swift, strong reaction than the so-called "read-option." Defending the Read-Option sends coaches back to college. If the read-option is dead, the next great offensive strategy may also be one of the oldest, it was good enough to beat Sean Payton and a bevy of NFL coaches.
The secret history of football's TV first down line.
Among the many quarterbacks taken in the fabled 1983 NFL draft was the first Division I-A quarterback to rush for more than 1,000 yards and pass for more than 1,000 yards in a single season. He was Reggie Collier, the player who could have--should have--revolutionized the NFL three decades ago. But he wasn't one of the six QBs drafted in the first round. He wasn't white, either. His name wasn't called until pick 162, when the Dallas Cowboys took a flyer on him as a wide receiver. See, this was 1983, and the NFL wasn't going to change right away for Reggie Collier. [more inside]
The first round of the 2013 NFL Draft was held yesterday, leaving two of the most-talked-about players undrafted: QB Geno Smith and Linebacker Manti Te'o. [more inside]
A NFL fan discovers the joys of proper football and explains why the English Premier League is so much more exciting.
It's the NFL Combine! Where NFL teams size up the year's top prospects; where sportscaster Rich Eisen runs the 40; and where at least one team wants to know, "Do you like girls?" [more inside]
"For those who coached under Walsh, Finding the Winning Edge was a study of the genius beyond his playbook. For those who coached against him, it was a window into the mind of their nemesis." -- The Coaching Philosophy of Bill Walsh. The book is now out of print and even a used copy will cost you $1,249.99 on Amazon.
A Bad Lip Reading of the NFL (SLYT) Football knowledge not required.
"Las Vegas bookmakers make their money by balancing their risk, but sometimes they simply come out on the wrong side of too many bets." With the regular 2012 NFL season now over and the playoffs about to begin, please take a moment and shed a tear -- or more likely, raise your beer -- as you consider the terrible beating Las Vegas sports books absorbed in 2012. (LAT link, so potentially behind a paywall depending on your number of previous visits in last 30 days.) [more inside]
The NFL is again thinking of getting rid of kick offs. Recently kickoffs were moved from the 30 to the 35 yard line in an effort to create more touch backs (and thus fewer returns of kicks) and reduce injuries. Now they're considering getting rid of kick offs altogether. [more inside]
Alex Karras, N.F.L. Lineman and Actor, Dies at 77 [NYTimes] "Alex Karras was one of the National Football League‘s most feared defensive tackles throughout the 1960s, a player who hounded quarterbacks and bulled past opposing linemen. And yet, to many people he will always be known as an actor — the lovable father from the 1980s sitcom “Webster” or the big cowboy named Mongo who famously punched out a horse in “Blazing Saddles.”
NFL Chiefs player Eric Winston rants (audio) against stadium fans who cheered when Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassell was knocked out during game play. "We are not gladiators and this is not the Roman Colosseum. This is a game."
The NFL has reached an agreement with the Referee Union (NFLRA), guaranteeing regular refs will be calling games starting tonight. League commissioner Roger Goodell has formally apologized. The agreement comes on the heels of a blown call this past Monday. How do we know the returning refs won't be rusty? Ed Hochuli, arguably the most famous ref, has been holding weekly conference calls. [more inside]
Since June, the NFL has locked out its referees as their union and league management have failed to come to an agreement over a range of issues, most notably the future of the referees' pensions. In their absence, the league has resorted to using replacement refs to officiate games. The results have not been pretty. [more inside]