The MMQB went behind the scenes with NFL referee Gene Steratore and his crew for an unprecedented look at the pressures and responsibilities of the third team on the field on NFL Sundays: the seven men in stripes who enforce the rules.
Part One: The Referee
Part Two: The Crew
Part Three: 24 hours of football: Saturday preparations and Game 150
Part One: The Referee
Part Two: The Crew
Part Three: 24 hours of football: Saturday preparations and Game 150
America’s Newest Culture War: Football Daniel Flynn is a conservative activist and author whose newest book argues that there is a War on Football, with the real victims not being Junior Seau and his brain damage, but America. [more inside]
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.
On October 30th, it was reported that NFL offensive tackle Jonathan Martin walked out of the Miami Dolphins' facility after a cafeteria prank. It was subsequently reported that Martin had been subjected to bullying by his teammate Richie Incognito, long considered to be one of the NFL's dirtiest players. Though the incident was initially thought to be a product of rookie hazing gone haywire (resulting in, among other things, Dolphins rookies footing thousand dollar bills at strip clubs), the backstory turned out to be far more serious. Incognito allegedly sent Martin threatening and racially charged text messages and voice mails. The revelation kicked off a flurry of discussion about bullying in the NFL workplace. While many pundits and ex-players supported Martin, others blasted him for violating the "NFL Code." Incognito was then suspended for conduct detrimental to the team, while claiming that the truth would come out. Several days later, it was reported that Incognito had been asked by the Dolphins' to "toughen Martin up" because Martin, a Stanford grad, was considered by some in the NFL to be "soft", a characterization which disappointed some ex-teammates. So what has been the reaction from the Dolphins' locker room? In recent days, a number of teammates have vocalized their support for Incognito. Some defended his use of the n-word by claiming he was honorary which prompted a rebuttal from Deadspin.
Mike Tanier of Sports on Earth discusses poorly designed sports team logos throughout history.
Taxpayers fund the stadiums, antitrust law doesn't apply to broadcast deals, the league enjoys nonprofit status, and Commissioner Roger Goodell makes $30 million a year. It's time to stop the public giveaways to America's richest sports league—and to the feudal lords who own its teams. (SL Atlantic)
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]
In the 2012 superbowl half-time show, rapper M.I.A. flipped off the camera while performing with Madonna. On September 19, the Hollywood Reporter revealed that the NFL has been waging a "secret legal war" over the incident, demanding $1.5 million and an apology from M.I.A. This week M.I.A. responded with a video statement (transcript at Pitchfork):
So, now, they’re scapegoating me into figuring out the goalposts on what is offensive in America. Like, is my finger offensive, or is the underage black girl with her legs wide open more offensive to the family audience? That’s basically what it comes down to. It's a massive waste of time, a massive waste of money, it’s a massive display of powerful corporation dick-shaking. They want me on my knees and say sorry so they can slap me on my wrist. Basically, so they can say it’s OK for me to promote being sexually exploited as a female than to display female empowerment through being punk rock. That is what it boils down to, and I’m being sued for it.[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.
From Kirk Goldsberry, the man who brought you CourtVision (previously), comes Pass Atlas: A Map of Where NFL Quarterbacks Throw the Ball.
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.
In the fifth round of the NFL Draft, the NY Jets selected a guard/tackle from the University of Virginia. His name is Oday Aboushi. While not a first round pick, Aboushi has garnered a lot of media attention. Why? Oday Aboushi is a Muslim Palestinian. MLB.com's New Media Coordinator Jonathan Mael compared Aboushi to Aaron Hernandez,the former New England Patriots tight end charged with murder. [more inside]
The NFL announced a change to its bag policy Thursday and beginning with the 2013 season, only clear plastic, vinyl or PVC bags will be permitted inside NFL stadiums. [more inside]
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]
David Rappoccio has redesigned all the NFL logos to be British.
Super Bowl Prop Bets! Neatly organized based on how you think the game will play out, with a few non-football bets at the end. The Las Vegas Sun weighs in with some picks of their own.
With the Superbowl only days away, Facebook conducted a study of its customers' pages to see how NFL team fan representation played out across the site and geographically. Via Gizmodo.
"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]
What it's like trying to crack into the National Football League.
Designer Matt McInerney is setting out to redesign every logo in the NFL as an uncomissioned fun side project. He's up to 20 of them and the results so far are pretty damn good. Fast Company has a bit more about the project.
What do NASCAR's AJ Allmendinger, Joe Haden of the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants safety Tyler Sash, Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz of the Philadelphia Phillies, and many other athletes have in common? They have all used a performance enhancing substance that is growing in popularity among athletes, one that is widely prescribed and which is taken by millions of children every day. The drug in question is Adderall: The combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine is used as part of a treatment program to control symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. [more inside]
ESPN NFL Kickoff Stuffs As Many Princess Bride References Into A Half Hour As Possible What it says on the tin.
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]
All 32 NFL Quarterbacks and their Muppet Doppelgangers. Single link Buzzfeed.
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]
The short documentary Always A Fire (vimeo) "details Chad's incredible rehabilitation and recovery from the horrific accident that nearly cost him his life. Comprised of intimate interviews with Chad and his trainers, as well as never-before-seen footage of his long road to recovery, the film provides an unflinching view of an elite athlete facing unimaginable tragedy and refusing to submit." [via mefi projects]
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, one of the NFL's few vocal advocates for legalization of gay marriage, donates two tickets to his team's season opener to a Marylanders for Marriage Equality fundraiser. Maryland state delegate Emmet C. Burns writes a letter asking Ravens management to silence Ayanbadejo. Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe responds with epic smackdown.
From Paul Lukas of Uni Watch, a list of the 25 best uniforms in the four major North American professional sports. [more inside]
"I don't want to die doing drugs. I don't want to be that kid who was the son of the head coach of the Eagles, who was spoiled and on drugs and OD'd and just faded into oblivion."
"Garrett Reid, the oldest son of Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid, was found dead Sunday morning in his room at training camp at Lehigh University." Garrett's legal troubles and struggle with addiction were widely publicized over the years due to his high profile father. After leaving prison he fought hard to change this legacy and was employed as a trainer with the team at the time of his death. "Garrett’s road through life was not always an easy one. He faced tremendous personal challenges with bravery and spirit. As a family, we stood by him and were inspired as he worked to overcome those challenges. Even though he lost the battle that has been ongoing for the last eight years, we will always remember him as a fighter who had a huge, loving heart." [more inside]
Former all pro NFL running back, 38 year old Priest Holmes feels that all NFL players suffer from the violence of the game, but believes running backs are at an increased risk if they average dozens of carries a game for years at a time. Holmes recalled how hits changed the color of the sky. Another former NFL running back, 32 year old Jamal Lewis talked about his memory losses and head trauma. Both men could encounter the cognitive decline lesser known former Chargers running back 45 year old Steve Hendrickson has experienced. [more inside]
Terrell Owens's Darkest Days:
'Since signing with the Allen Wranglers, Terrell Owens hasn't exactly been excited to talk to reporters. Back in his Philadelphia days, in the prime of his career, he used to hold press conferences all the time, sometimes in his own driveway. He couldn't wait to be on camera. He would tell reporters what questions to ask. He never shied away from a microphone: not in a locker room, not in a studio, and certainly not on his own reality show. But now that he's been relegated to the lowest rung of professional football, with no team in the NFL even interested in watching him work out, Owens hasn't been so loquacious.[more inside]