Gridiron Killing Fields: Injuries have turned 2017 NFL season upside down

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Published on : November 16, 2017

 

 

Football is violent. It’s part of the allure of the game. A fast paced, highly charged game of gladiator chess where the players put their bodies through hell for the enjoyment of us all. It’s inevitable that these athletes will suffer injuries throughout the course of a grueling season. Every year, fans and players alike must deal with these injuries. The pain of injury and the hard work that goes into recovering from those injuries is something that fans can’t even imagine, but that doesn’t mean we don’t suffer too.

 

Some years are worse than others as far as injuries and 2017 has turned out to be one of, if not the most, gruesome for player injuries in the NFL on record. Players have been robbed of the opportunity to pursue their livelihood and fans have been robbed of the big plays and quality football that these players produce. These big injuries have flipped the league on it’s head and some of the most electrifying players in the NFL have been left on the sidelines. They have come early and often and left heads around the league spinning in an attempt to keep up as the body count rises. Let’s look at some of the big injuries this year.

 

The insurmountable losses

 

Aaron Rodgers
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Aaron Rodgers has once again proved himself to be the most valuable player in the NFL. Yet this year it wasn’t his actions on the field that proved that already accepted fact of life, but his (potentially) season ending collarbone injury. The subtraction of Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers changes the team in a way that can’t even begin to be described. Brett Hundley has shown some growth in his weeks as a starter in place of Rodgers, but unlike the discount double dick, Hundley, cannot single-handily mask the holes in the Packers roster. Because of that, the Packers, who still hold a winning record at this point of the season, are doomed.

 

Deshaun Watson

When the Houston Texans selected former Clemson standout and National Championship winning quarterback, Deshaun Watson, with the 12th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, I thought it was a very nice pick for a franchise that has never, in its existence, had a true star under center. Little did I (or anyone else) know that Watson would hit the ground running in such a fashion. Watson appeared in 7 games for the Texans and completed 61.8% of his passes for 1,699 yards, 19 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He also ran the ball for another 269 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Texans were finally legit and and had found their QB of the future. Then a torn ACL in practice cut the legs out from under his rookie season and along with losses of JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus, the Texans are looking at another lost season.

 

David Johnson and Carson Palmer

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When David Johnson went down with a broken wrist early in the Arizona Cardinals opening game loss to the Detroit Lions, it was clear that the Cardinals had a long road ahead of them. Johnson is among the best young running backs in football and an invaluable part of the Cardinals offensive attack, but luckily for the Cardinals they still had an offensive mastermind of a coach and an injury to your starting running back can be overcome. When Carson Palmer went down with a broken bone in his non-throwing arm during the 33-0 loss to the LA Rams in London, it was clear that the Cardinals had careened off that long road and gone over a cliff. Without the two best offensive players and the likes of Drew Stanton throwing the ball, it is a sad reality that Bruce Arians final year as head coach of the team will be a wasted one.

 

Ouch, that hurts

 

Odell Beckham Jr
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With Eli Manning still throwing the ball this offense was never going to light the world on fire. Manning is well past his prime and no wide receiver, even one of the same caliber as Beckham was going to change that. But OBJ went down with a season ending ankle injury in week 5 everyone knew the Giants were screwed. The G-Men are now 1-8 and destined for a top pick in the 2018 NFL draft, and perhaps a new head coach. OBJ can’t come back soon enough.

 

Ryan Tannehill

Ryan Tannehill leaves a whole lot to be desired as the starting quarterback of the Miami Dolphins but he is still a starting level quarterback and the best one in Miami by a longshot. When he was lost for the season before it even began, the team got desperate and went out and signed Jay Cutler out of the broadcast booth. He has since been about as good as one would expect. Cutler has helped lead the team to a 4-5 record and Dolphins fans are eagerly awaiting any and all news on Ryan Tannehill rehab from ACL surgery.

 

Dalvin Cook and Sam Bradford

Sam Bradford was brought in last year after Teddy Bridgewater’s very serious knee injury, and he has played pretty well. But he hasn’t been able to stay on the field and Case Keenum has performed admirably in his absence. Now, more than a year later, Bridgewater’s return seems somewhat immenent and Bradford’s inability to stay on the field isn’t all that much of a concern. Much more of a concern is the injury to rookie running back, Dalvin Cook. Before he tore his ACL in the game against the Lions he was having a monster year. Luckily the Vikings defense is good enough keep them competing for the NFC North title.

 

Zach Miller
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The Chicago Bears passing game has been desperate for competent pass catchers all season. The Mike Glennon experiment failed miserably and now they have rookie Mitchel Trubisky throwing the ball. One of Trubisky’s only decent targets was tight end Zach Miller but then a gruesome injury ended his season and almost caused him to lose his leg entirely. The Bears offense is now all but doomed this season but the real tragedy is that Miller’s career may well be over. We wish him a speedy recovery.

 

Well, that’s unfortunate

 

Dont’a Hightower and Julian Edelmen

It’s the Patriots. They’ll survive.

 

Joe Thomas
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The Browns were never going to do anything this season and at this point they are in the running for an 0-16 record, but you never want to see a future hall of fame player go down with a serious injury. Especailly when he’s been so loyal to that city and been such an iron man. Prior to this tricep injury, Thomas had played a NFL-record 10,363 consecutive snaps, while playing through torn ligaments for a time and starting 167 straight games. Good on the Browns for giving him an extension even after the injury and making him the highest paid offensive linemen in the league.

 

Eric Berry

Eric Berry is, and should be, a fan favorite around the NFL. Even with Raiders fans. You can’t help but love this guy’s story and his courage as he beat cancer and came back to the NFL to regain his spot among the best safeties in pro football. That made it even more of a bummer when he ruptured his achilles tendon in week 1. He’s just 28-years-old so there’s no reason he can’t make a full recovery, but the Chiefs defense sure has missed him while he’s been gone.

 

It’s a long season, and we are only at week 11. There’s no telling how many more injuries will come before the Super Bowl. No doubt there will be some, but there has certainly already been enough to hold us all over until next here. Here’s to hoping that all of our favorite teams can make it through the rest of the year unscathed.

 

 


2017’s NFL Midseason Report

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Published on : November 8, 2017

 

 

In the immortal words of Bon Jovi: “we’re half way there“. The NFL season that is. Week 9 is in the books and the early playoff picture is starting to take shape. Already this year, we’ve seen some wild performances, brutal injuries and some interesting trades. Let’s take a few moments to do some inventory on what was happened so far. This is your 2017 NFL midseason report.

 

Everyone got hurt

There are always injuries in football, that is nothing new but the number of big profile players that have already gone down seems disproportionately high. So far this year we’ve seen major health issues for stars like: Aaron Rodgers, Odell Beckham Jr, JJ Watt, David Johnson, Julian Edelmen, Andrew Luck, Greg Olsen and Carson Palmer. That’s like one whole fantasy team. And speaking of fantasy, I owned rookie running back Dalvin Cook who was killing it for the Vikings and I until he tore something in his knee and was placed on IR. Bummers all around. By the way, this is by no means the full list of impact players who got hurt but simply the most notable ones.

 

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Wheeling and dealing

Jacoby Brissett left New England’s bench to start in Indy. Adrian Peterson moved from New Orleans crowded backfield to the feature spot in Arizona. Jimmy Garapollo dropped the Pat’s backup clipboard to take over in the San Fran rebuilding project. Wait, if both Brissett and Garapollo are gone then who will play if Brady gets hurt?

 

Then Kelvin Benjamin left Carolina and moved north to Buffalo. And Jay Ajayi departed Miami for Philly. Those guys both know their new stadiums are outdoors right? It’s about to get real cold. But all these moves are real hot.

 

Lions still give me heart issues

Detroit currently sits at 4-4 and have already had their bye week. They started 3-1 and then went 1-3. So it’s hard to say exactly how good this squad is. It’s easy to find positives and negatives on both sides. You hear that the Lions are 3-1 on the road, 2-0 in the division and they sound like they are playoff bound. Then you look at the awful rushing stats paired with the average-at-best pass rush and you think the season is going to be rough. So which is it?

 

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Who knows. The schedule lines up favorably but the Vikings are the current NFC north leaders (6-2) but Detroit beat them once already. A second win over Minnesota (on Thanksgiving!) would go a long way to setting the Lions up for a rare division crown. I can’t bring myself to predict the last 8 games but the schedule has some wins on it for sure. I pray it’s enough for a playoff ticket.

 

It feels like we wait for football all year and then it comes and just flies by. It’s slipping away already, I can feel it. As the last weeks play out and the post season picture comes into focus, my hope is we see some new teams playing in the Super Bowl. Lions vs Chiefs anyone?

 

Glass half empty kind of guy.

 

 


SBS Stadium Series: The glass palace of Minnesota

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Published on : October 12, 2017

 

 

The Michigang is back in action for our annual Lions road game meet up. This year takes the crew to Minneapolis, Minnesota for Detroit’s first divisional game against the Vikings.

 

This year’s trip was extra special because we got to visit the newest football arena in the country. US Bank stadium will be home to this year’s Super Bowl and it is clear why. The building is enormous and gorgeous. Let’s get inside and explore the new digs in this installment of the SBS Stadium Series.

 

 

First impressions of Vikings Village (the area outside the building). Kind of lame. All beer stands, which I love but no food, which sucks. Because I was starving and needed something in my belly besides booze. There was also this terrible band playing covers. I wont even dignify them with a joke. Overall, the best part of Viking Village would have to be the view. The glass face of the building is super dope. Also the local train has a stop right in front which is really convenient. But it’s getting close to kickoff so it’s time to head inside. As we made our way to the front gate we came across the witches protesting for social justice. The witches kick ass. Fuck racism and white supremacy.

 

 

The lines to get in moved so fast. Best I’ve ever seen at sporting event. Inside, they scan your tickets like a boarding pass with this fancy laser podium. It’s straight The Fifth Element. First steps inside US Bank are breathtaking. It’s like a football cathedral. The roof is so far above you at all heights. The scale is truly massive.

 

We take the escalators up to the the top level and as we move through the crowds it is clear. There are some Lions fans but not many. Probably the smallest number of Honolulu Blue I’ve witnessed on the road. Bobby joked “these Vikings fans sure do travel well”. We were outnumbered but not outclassed. Our Michigang was 14 deep and rocking our matching custom t-shirts. We drew a lot of attention. But that might be because we were chanting and yelling almost the entire time.

 

 

We find our seats and get ready for the show. But first, it’s time for everyone’s favorite part of a football game, the national anthem! I did not stand for the anthem. Because Trump called NFL anthem protesters, “sons of bitches”, so I stayed seated. Because criticizing protesters who are speaking out against inequality is a trash move. But I did stop eating my pizza which I thought was a very reasonable compromise. From behind me, I hear “it would be nice if all the Lions fans would stand”. I didn’t turn or respond. Facebook comment threads have taught me how to recognize a trigger situation and I’m finally (hopefully) adult enough to not always get sucked in.

 

Then, an epic DRUM BEAT on a brontosaurus sized drum. Like Game of Thrones style viking shit. The room shouts “SKOL!”. Everyone knew what was happening. Everyone but the 14 of us. The crowd claps their hands above their heads with each beat. The drumming gets faster. It’s pretty intense. And admittedly cool. It crescendos it a roar of applause. Super loud. Maybe the loudest I’ve ever heard. This is all being lead by the Skol Line (get it, it’s like goal line) a drum line band that maybe lives in the stadium. Not totally sure on that. But they do get the crowd pretty hype. Also what’s the deal with all the Skol stuff? Do they really like chewing tobacco that much? Apparently they do. Because the entire building is smokeless. No smoking deck or area period. Maybe they have a vape zone? Also not sure on that.

 

 

Finally, it’s kickoff. I get the butterflies in my stomach. I add two beers, a pretzel with cheese and a second slice of pepperoni pizza to that stomach to kill the butterflies. The game is tight. Both defenses are balling. It’s going to be a close one the whole way I can just tell. But hot damn look at the field. The whole place feels so open and new. At one point during the second quarter, the sun peaked from behind the rain clouds and shined down on the glass of the wall and ceiling. The whole building lit up like it was magic in a Disney movie. It was beautiful.

 

Each time the Vikings have a positive play, they blare this awful horn. I’m sure the fans like it. But it gets old quick. The drum is way better than the horn. The NFC North rivals trade points until it’s Detroit 14 and Minnesota 7. But there’s plenty of time left in the game so anything can happen. And for the record, the Viking fight song they play after a touchdown is real bad and I should know, the Lions fight song is not great. But this one is rough. The clock is ticking down and now the gentlemen behind me start chirping. They keep trying to bait me into something. But I surprisingly play it real cool and don’t engage. This was no easy task by the way. I’m petty and very quick with a mean joke so this is kind of my unfortunate specialty but I swallow my insults and let the Lions defense do the talking.

 

 

Lions grind out the clock with a solid ground game and it’s over. We win. 14-7. The row busts into our favorite chant “three and one, three and one, three and one” or for s fun variation, “four and o with an asterisk”. Another huge road win. Seriously, winning on the road in our division is not something I’ve experienced too much of. It was a shock and a real joy. I will remember that day forever.

 

Overall, the stadium is perfect. Not a single flaw to mention. Other than that damn horn. The total experience was great. The Vikings fans were mostly very nice. For example, most had a hard time with trash talk. One guy saw us and yelled “Go Vikings” and then we yelled “Go Lions” and then he went “but seriously that Stafford is my something, I’d say he’s probably my favorite player in the league”. Or another guy tried to heckle by shouting, “Funny hat!” at Tomas with his lion head beanie. Sick burn you guys. It’s almost cute.

 

They say that people who build glass stadiums shouldn’t throw touchdowns. And the Vikings didn’t that day. Go Lions. And who knows, maybe the Michigang will be back in Minnesota watching the Lions in the Super Bowl. A boy can dream can’t he?

 

SKOL.

 

 


Review of HBO’s 2017 Hard Knocks

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Published on : September 20, 2017

 

HBO’s Hard Knocks is the best lead into the NFL regular season there is. It’s leaps and bounds better than any preseason action. This year, the spotlight turned to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their young star QB, Jameis Winston. The season may be only five episodes but it’s a legit look behind the curtain of the intense drama of NFL training camp. All the cuts, all the fights and all the jokes. Get ready for a lot of cursing and more dancing than you’d expect.

 

The first and last takeaway is that DT Gerald McCoy is hilarious. Like Shaq level comedy. His jokes and personalty jump off the screen. Give this guy a movie already. Plus, he is obsessed with Game of Thrones and hearing his recaps of the episodes are brilliant. The cherry on top is that he helps carry his teammates’ pads at training camp. A chore normally reserved for the hazing of rookies. McCoy just believes in helping out. I’m swooning over here.

 

One of the training camp stories is Riley Bullough, a linebacker from Michigan State. Riley is tough as nails and never shuts up. His heart and leadership is clear. The team honors him with the nickname “Joe Dirt”, mostly because of his long hair and overall WWE style. Riley has the perfect on-the-bubble story of trying to make the team. It’s dramatic and very satisfying.

 

 

Another roster hopeful is WR Bobo Wilson. Bobo has the advantage being former teammates with Jameis Winston back at Florida State. But he is no lock to win the job. Need to watch to fully enjoy the whole arc. Then there’s defense linemen, Chris Baker, who dances with the palm tree. And yes, it’s sexual.

 

Oh and then this one time, Gerald McCoy danced with this tiny little girl who was in the stands at one of the preseason games. It’s in episode four and it’s just the god damn best. Speaking of the best, the rookie show. Which is a part of training camp where all the rookies sing a song for the rest of the team. It’s like a sporting talent show. But if you stink, then they will boo you off stage. Doug Martin danced onto stage and swept the dude away with a broom.

 

Get to the stars already. It’s all about the wide receivers. Most notably, Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson (or D-Jax). They are so cute together. Like the Rock and Kevin Hart. One is real tall and charming, the other is short and charming. A classic comedy duo. Beyond the jokes, this tandem is going to kick ass this season. Jameis should rack up the yards with these two weapons. At the very least, you know some fantasy owners think so. I also drafted D-Jax.

 

 

Hard Knocks ends with the last cuts. AKA the big heartbreak. Head coach Dirk Koetter and his staff handle this meetings with class. A total change from last year with Jeff Fischer and the Rams, where Jeff treated the players like staff of a fast food restaurant.

 

HBO and NFL Films have done it again. They are straight Midas with this football stuff. I hope they make a video about me someday. Maybe when I run my own football team. Getting back on topic, the Bucs look good. Especially in slow mo. Unfortunately, the hurricane in Florida postponed Tampa Bay’s week 1 matchup against the Dolphins. Let’s see if all this hype pays off during the regular season.

 

Buc yeah.

 

 


The Cincinnati Bengals stink

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Published on : September 16, 2017

 

It’s only two weeks into Cincinnati’s season and things are already looking bleak. They are 0-2 after a brutal loss on Thursday Night Football at the hands of the Houston Texans. That was a home game where they lost to a rookie QB making his first ever start. You can’t judge a team by just two weeks but there is little to be hopeful about with the team’s performances so far. Let’s go over everything we know.

 

The Cincinnati Bengals are 0-2 with both losses coming at home. The season opener they were shutout. Just an awful start for the local fans. Franchise star quarterback, Andy Dalton, hasn’t thrown a touchdown yet. Actually, the team has hasn’t scored a touchdown in their first 25 possessions. Dalton has 4 interceptions in that span. Yuck. AJ Green has been the lone bright spot on offense while backs, Gio Bernard, Jeremy Hill and rookie Joe Mixon have all failed to produce a spark. As a reaction, Bengals brass has decided to let offensive coordinator, Ken Zampese, go. Maybe this shake up will help turn things around? Or maybe this will set the unit back even further?

 

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The Bengals defense has been decent in terms of points allowed. They gave up 20 to the Ravens in week 1 and only 13 to the Texans in week 2. Those numbers should keep this crew competitive but the issues on offense are so great that sadly it doesn’t really matter what the D does save for scoring on multiple takeaways each outing.

 

One might think, “they are due for a win” well the schedule says otherwise. Week 3 is a trip to Lambeau Field to face the Green Bay Packers. Maybe they score a TD or two but they take another L for sure. That will be 0-3. And with that record, people will be asking for coach, Marvin Lewis’ head. And for good reason. This Cincinnati team has some great skill players but never seem to be able to put it all together. At what point does the ownership let someone else have a shot?

 

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Week 4 is at Cleveland. If they lose this battle of Ohio then Lewis will be fired for sure. Some will want Dalton gone too. Maybe he gets traded for picks. There are some stud QB’s coming out of college, so it doesn’t sound far fetched.

 

Maybe this all too knee-jerk from two bad weeks of football. Or maybe the writing is already on the wall. We shall see how it all plays out. But as of right now, the Cincinnati Bengals stink.

 

Bungles .

 

 


What we learned from Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season

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Published on : September 12, 2017

 

After what seemed like an eternity, football is finally back. With the return of both NCAAF and NFL action, girlfriends and wives across this great nation begin to weather the long and lonely storm that will last until Super Bowl LII is completed in February. With commencement of the 2017 NFL season, as with every NFL season, there are questions abound. Let’s survey the post week 1 landscape and see if we didn’t learn anything from the first action of the year.

 

The Colts are in disarray.

 

Not only did they get their asses handed to them by the Rams, but during the post game press conference their coach couldn’t even remember which team it was that handed them their aforementioned ass, to the tune of 46-9. It’s was the Rams who the Colts made look like the Patriots, by the way. It’s no secret that Andrew Luck is, by far, their best player, but it’s shocking just how bad the rest of this team is. Much like when they had Peyton Manning as their QB, this organization is content let the signal caller win games single-handily and let the team go down in flames should anything happen to the guy under center. They better hope Andrew Luck gets healthy quick and saves them from a top-5 draft pick in 2018.

 

 

The Jacksonville Jaguars defense could finally be living up to all the hype.

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The Jags came out and wiped the floor with the Houston Texans in week 1. Their defense totaled 10 sacks, a new record for the franchise, and their prized free agent acquisition, Calais Campbell, came away with 3.5 on his own. After years of drafting athletics freaks and paying for big name free agents, it appears that the team with the ugliest uniforms in the NFL could finally be seeing some dividends on that investment.

 

 

The injury bug is back with a fury.

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Week 1 was brutal for many fantasy football enthusiasts (myself included) and for pure fans around the league. The Arizona Cardinals look like they’ve lost David Johnson for a significant period of time to a wrist injury. The Jaguars lost Allen Robinson for the year with torn ACL and the Chicago Bears have once again lost Kevin White for the season with a broken shoulder blade. That’s only the big name offensive specialists that got inured. Their were also significant injuries among linemen and defenders across the NFL in week 1. Football is violent sport and injuries are inevitable but one has to wonder if the reduction in full contact practices in preseason under the current CBA has anything to do with it?

 

 

The Dallas Cowboys are picking up right where they left off last season.

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When the Cowboys selected running back Ezekiel Elliott with the 4th overall pick last year, and then moved on from Tony Romo last season and ushered in the era of Dak Prescott, a 4th round rookie, their was some consternation among fans in Dallas. The doubters were quickly quieted last season after the two rookies set the league on fire, and if there was any doubt lingering, the team squashed it out with a dominant 19-3 victory over the division rival Giants on Sunday Night Football. As much as I hate to say it, the Cowboys will be among the favorites to win the NFC this year.

 

 

It’s criminal that Colin Kaepernick does not have a job right now.

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Scott Tolzien, Tom Savage, Brian Hoyer, Josh McCown. These are names of guys who started in week 1 and led their teams to some brutal losses. That’s not even to mention middle-of-the-road guys like Andy Dalton and Carson Palmer, who looked like trash. Colin Kaepernick could help any one of these teams by at least providing some quality competition for their starters. It’s hard to believe that there is any type of collusion among owners to keep him out of the league but it is puzzling that he hasn’t landed on a roster yet.

 

The most important thing that we all learned in week 1 is… NOTHING! The NFL season is a long and grueling endeavor and anyone who thinks they can truly discern the direction of any team from one week of action is full of shit. Teams that looked like world beaters this week (I’m looking at you, Rams) will miss the playoff and teams that came out flat (the Patriots) could go on to win the rest of their games. There is really no way to tell. So buckle up and enjoy the ride because it’s a mighty long road to Super Bowl LII.

 

 


The Fast and Fantasy: Tokyo Draft

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Published on : September 2, 2017

 

 

Welcome fantasy football fans and anyone else who wandered here. Currently, it’s NFL preseason, which means two things: real football is very close and many fantasy leagues are having their drafts. As we all know, the draft is a huge factor in determining success for the season. It’s the single biggest element in regard to who makes the playoffs. But this isn’t a draft guide, it’s a journal entry of a man who just went through the ringer. This is my 2017 fantasy football draft story.

 

I’m in two leagues. Which isn’t that wild. At my worst, I was in five. But that was way back in college. Crazy times. Back to 2017, The Prison League (12 team, non-ppr) where we base our team names on all football related run-ins with the law. In the last few years I’ve been:

  • Ray Lewis Killed a Guy
  • Larry “Choke out” Johnson
  • Titus “Twice in a day” Young
  • Don’t Jim and Drive Irsay
  • Bad Cellmate Phillips
  • Aqib “Shot myself” Talib
  • Jerry Sandusky’s Kids (current team)

 

The funny thing is, we never run out of new names. It’s like the players and coaches know about our group and get in trouble just to help out. Then, there is my new fantasy venture, the Dynasty League (10 team superflex, ppr, 5 year keeper). I’ve never done a keeper league before. But it is the closest you can get to running a real franchise so it should be fun. The two draft dates were one week apart, on consecutive Sundays.

 

 

The Dynasty draft came first. I met with my two buddies here in town and we face-timed with a crew back in Michigan. All 10 of us were connected via wifi from different places and devices. Pretty cool experience. Would still love to do a full on live draft with all owners in one place someday. The original plan was to pick the first 10 rounds (of 27) then do the rest over text. We had some convoluted way to determine draft order and I got the short end of the stick with the #9 pick. At least the last player gets to pick twice in the snake format. Needless to say, I was a little salty. My petty super villain brain started turning. What could I do to the rest of the league to show my displeasure?

 

My first idea was to slow everything down. Drag my feet whenever possible and make the whole process as little fun as could be. As outlined by the commissioner, each owner is entitled to 6 minutes for each pick during the draft. My plan was to use every second. Make it slow and painful. Make the others feel my anger. Your classic spite-based filibuster. This plan backfired because the draft took place at noon on the west coast and I had closed the restaurant the night before. That means I wasn’t home till 5am. So I was tired and hungover. Slowing down this marathon was going to kill me. I just didn’t have the intestinal fortitude for it. I am weak.

 

As the rounds continued, a new plan came to mind. Try and use the insane depth of the bench (16 spots) to create an imbalance. What I mean to say is, how can I exploit the numbers to invent an advantage? The idea was to waste 8 picks on the top defenses (D/ST) which would force owners with good rosters to potentially start a sub-par unit. The scoring is setup that defenses are some of the most likely units to post a negative score. What if you could make an opponent to start a shit D/ST and maybe even negate some of their own offense? That would be huge. Even if the other owners smelled the ruse and stocked up, then at worst everyone is back to even (in terms of this scheme).

 

 

I picked the Broncos, Chiefs and Cardinals in consecutive rounds. A few owners took the cue and grab one of the other top 10 defenses. My turn came back around while I was digging through my handwritten draft notes (in it’s own special notebook) and I discovered a number of quality players had gone undrafted. Gasp! How did no one take Darren Sproles? It’s PPR. That changed everything. Finding great talent, late in the draft is a REAL advantage. Not the joke defense short I was trying to manifest. It’s the most Wall Street thing I’ve ever done since I did blow in the bathroom of that trendy joint in American Psycho.

 

The Dynasty draft started Sunday then continued on a group text for the last few rounds. But there were so many damn rounds that it went all week. It went until the Prison League draft started the next Sunday. That’s just crazy. And kind of awful. For perspective, in that week, one owner welcomed two new members to his family. Their births were technically mid-draft. FYI, getting twins in the 21st round is a total steal.

 

The Prison League draft had its own issues. Mostly technical. The draft was 3pm Los Angeles time, so I set my alarm for 2:57pm. Woke up, after a dozen chirps from my iphone 4S, rolled out of bed and opened my computer. I try and launch the “Live Draft” window on ESPN’s Fantasy Football site. But I get some bullshit flash plug-in bullshit error message. I launch “Diet Draft” or whatever and login to see it’s my pick and there are 4 seconds left. AutoDraft has me taking Odell Beckham Jr. Good enough for me. Rough start but I’ll take OBJ all day at #7 overall. That overall draft went pretty well. A the Dynasty madness, it felt like smooth sailing. But everyone thinks they have a good team right after the draft. I believe the term is roster-bate or rosterbating.

 

I wish everyone a good season and for some reason, if someone slights you then try and get petty revenge. Or better yet just win the whole damn thing and then gloat like a teenager.

 

Make believe.

 

 


Most intriguing games of the upcoming NFL season

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Published on : August 12, 2017

 

The NFL season is so close I can practically taste it. It’s early August and we are just beginning to get some preseason football action. This is an exciting time of year when football (and Burning Man) is pretty much all I can think about. This is the time when I have an uneasy optimism about my beloved Detroit Lions as I allow myself to believe that maybe, just maybe, this will be the year we overcome the god damned Packers and win the division.

 

Aside from the Lions, I’m excited about the season in general and I’m starting to form opinions (based on nothing other than my own analysis and guess work) about who is going to be worth watching this year. With that in mind, I’ve started to take a look at the schedule and pick out games that I think will be exceptionally entertaining. Here are the most intriguing games of the upcoming NFL season.

 

Chargers at Broncos. Week 1.

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Bruno thought I was crazy for this one but hear me out. The Chargers still have Phillip Rivers and Melvin Gordon, and if the rest of the team can stay healthy they should have a solid squad. The Broncos should have a good defense with Von Miller leading the way and if they can find any semblance of a competent passing game then they should be in the running for the AFC West. This game, though early in the season, should go a long way to sorting out what that division will look like all year.

 

Cowboys at Cardinals. Week 3 MNF: League’s top young running backs (removed).

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Before the Cowboys electrifying young running back, Ezekiel Elliot, got suspended for being an asshole this was one of my favorite early matchups of the season. The Cardinals have my favorite running back and the MVP of my championship fantasy football team last year, David Johnson. This was going to be an epic battle on the ground, but now I just hope David Johnson rushes for 250 yards, has 200 receiving yards and scores 5 touchdowns.

 

Atlanta at New England. Week 7: Super Bowl rematch.

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Remember that one time the Atlanta Falcons had a Super Bowl Victory firmly in their grasp only to choke away a 25 point lead in the second half to Tom Brady and the Patriots? Well this is their chance to get some sort of payback.

 

Dallas at Atlanta. Week 10.

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This is the first of my potential conference championship game previews on the list. Atlanta represented the NFC in the Super Bowl last year and the Cowboys were favorites to make it to the conference final before running into the Green Bay Packers. Theses two teams will be in the running for it again this year and this first matchup should be a good one.

 

New England at Oakland. Week 11: Mexico City.

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In the next potential conference championship game preview, we have the Patriots facing off against the Raiders. I would bet money that the Patriots will be heading back to the AFC Championship game and the Raiders seem poised to build on a successful 2016 campaign that was derailed by an injury to their young QB, Derek Carr. Estadio Azteca in Mexico City will surely be rocking as the greatest quarterback of all time faces off against one of the best young gunslingers in the league.

 

New England at Pittsburgh. Week 15.

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This is a rematch of last years AFC Championship game and if us football fans are lucky, it will be a preview of this year’s. Give me Tom Brady vs Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown any day of the damn week. This is deep enough in the season to have serious playoff implications but not so late that Bill Belichick is resting half his team. Get ready for a barn burner in this one.

 

Green Bay at Detroit. Week 17.

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Normally no one is getting all that excited about any Detroit Lions game, but for the second year in a row the Lions will host the rival Green Bay Packers at home to end the season. Last year this game decided the NFC North and the hope is that it will be the same scenario. And hopefully my Lions will win the NFC North for the first time since the division was created back in 2001.

 

Well there you have it. The most interesting matchups of the upcoming NFL season as I see them. Are there any games that you think shouldn’t have made the list or any marquee games that you think I missed? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 


Oh no, not again: NFL edition

Written by :
Published on : August 8, 2017

 

The NFL is a wild and entertaining league with tons of new and exciting storylines to follow but then there are these other headlines. The ones you see year after year. It’s like a broken record. You think “oh no, here we go again”. We aren’t even into preseason games yet and already some familiar news items have surfaced. Let’s dive right into it.

 

More off-field trouble for the Dallas Cowboys. Running back, Ezekiel Elliott, got into a fight outside a Dallas bar. This after pervious issues with failed drug tests and claims of domestic abuse. But these are the players that Jerry Jones likes to draft. Fans in Texas are used to their stars having run-ins with the law. It feels like the players act like the old movie cowboys and treat the world like the wild west. Shoot first, ask questions later and hire a great lawyer.

 

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When the Chargers moved from San Diego to Los Angeles, the hope was that the franchise could turn over a new leaf. Start fresh. Shed that rotten luck that always hamstringed a talented roster. Well, I hate to report but the injury bug still haunts the Chargers. They’ve already lost rookie guard Forrest Lamp to an ACL tear and their top draft pick, Mike Williams, is currently out of all training camp action with a back injury. Not a great start for the bolts.

 

Speaking of ACL tears. Miami Dolphins QB, Ryan Tannehill, got hurt again. He re-injured the same knee that held him out parts of last year. He likely needs season ending surgery to repair it. And in a hilarious turn of events, Jay Cutler, has been signed out of retirement/broadcast booth on a 1 year/$10 million deal. He will become the starter with Matt Moore serving as backup. Miami must now consider the future of the quarterback position. Even if Tannehill comes back healthy, can the organization trust him? Next year’s draft will tell us how much faith they still have.

 

Rumors are that the Dolphins considered Tim Tebow for the job as fill-in QB. That’s nuts and officially proves that NFL owners are black balling Colin Kaepernick. That can be the only logical reason. Why else would one look to a minor league baseball player and an announcer before a guy who played in a Super Bowl? I hope Kap gets a shot somewhere. He is too talented and only 29-years-old. Racist ass league. SMH.

 

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As we inch closer and closer to real football, the news cycle will continue to spit whatever they can. Maybe a hyper interesting piece about an aging star going vegan or something else really cool and important. The hope is, among all that noise, some real developments will emerge. But for now, let’s feast on the old faithfuls. Who wants to guess when the next Cincinnati Bengal going to be arrested?

 

Rinse and repeat.

 

 


Pay Stafford his money

Written by :
Published on : August 4, 2017

 

 

Lions training camp is underway and the team is looking to get back to the postseason for the third time in four years. This is a big change from the days when Detroit was bottom-of-the-barrel looking up at the playoffs. And quarterback Matthew Stafford is a big reason for this recent success. Because of that, management is working on getting Matt a new contract extension to lock up the young gunslinger for the next half decade. This is the move to make. The Lions need to open their checkbook and pay Matthew Stafford the big bucks he deserves.

 

Haters are going to say Stafford hasn’t won a playoff game yet so he doesn’t deserve $25 million+ per season. Or he throws too many interceptions. Or that Tom Brady isn’t even making that kind of money. Or that he sucks and Detroit needs to move on from him. These type of statements drive me crazy because they are so misguided. Talents like Matthew Stafford do not come around that often and the Lions are lucky enough to have drafted him, the franchise cannot afford to let a commodity like that walk away.

 

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The truth is, the NFL has a quarterback shortage. There are about 10-15 good to great QBs and 32 teams so you do the math. Most GMs are always looking for the next brilliant single caller. But they aren’t there. For comparison, Derek Carr was just given a 5 year/$125 million deal. Carr has never won a playoff game either. This just proves that the rate for a quality man under center has gone up. Carr helped set the price point. So forget all that talk about who is making what. All these numbers are going to shoot up. Stafford just happens to be next in line to get paid.  

 

Brady’s pay was cut because of the suspensions he was going to face. This allowed the team to pay him less in salary and give him most of his money via bonuses and performance incentives. Plus Tom is one of those guys that is already so rich that he doesn’t want to hamstring the rest of the roster with his huge contract. Keeps them so damn competitive. And in terms of interceptions, Stafford threw 10 picks in 2016. His fewest in 6 years. Also the 4th lowest total for QBs that played all 16 regular season games. Speaking of playing all 16 games, Matt was done that the last 6 years as well.  

 

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On to the good stuff. Matt Stafford or as some of my buddies call him, Dad Stafford or Matt Dadford, has thrown for over 4,000 yards in all of the last 6 years. That’s bonkers. He is only 29-years-old but has a wealth of game management experience. Stafford is one of the best clutch players we’ve seen since John Elway. To date, Stafford has 28 comebacks in the 4th quarter or overtime. This is the guy you want to have with the ball in his hands. Plus the dude has a straight cannon. One of the best arms in the league. Hands down. Let’s not forget his legs either. Not known as a mobile guy but he routinely makes plays with his feet. AKA, the total package.

 

Matt Stafford is a recent father. He is maturing, becoming the leader the Lions needs. It’s time to reward him for all his growth and hard work. In the immortal words of John Malkovich’s character in the film Rounders:

 

Pay that man his money

 

Talk is that the contract could be worth somewhere around $30 million a year. That’s wild but Stafford earned every penny of that. And when he wins a Super Bowl, it will look like a real good deal.

 

Cash money.

 

 


I’d rather be the underdog

Written by :
Published on : July 28, 2017

 

 

As football season approaches there is a pretty wide range of thoughts and feelings that approach with it. There’s the excitement of finally being able to watch my favorite sport every season. There’s also the uncertainty that comes along with not being a fan of the New England Patriots or the Alabama Crimson Tide. It’s an uncertainty rooted in the volatility of the sport from season to season. Aside from a privileged few who produce top notch teams every single year, there’s no telling for sure who will be any good. For everyone who doesn’t have Bill Belichick or Nick Saban at the helm, it’s a crap shoot on any given year. A few thing go wrong and poof! Season is over.

 

Before any games are played, preseason or otherwise, it’s impossible to predict a team’s performance, but that doesn’t stop the legions of sports media from trying to figure out which teams will rule and which will drool. This leads to endless preseason rankings and in-depth analysis of where every team is thought to stand by people who have no real idea of what will transpire over the course of a football season. No one should put any stock in these preseason lies and conjecture, but alas, they do. And inevitably someone’s favorite team will be picked to be among the worst.

 

 Harbaugh at the helm and still no preseason love.

 

This brings me to my two favorite football teams, the Detroit Lions and the University of Michigan Wolverines. Neither of them are getting a ton of love this summer leading up to the 2017 season. Michigan lost almost all of their starters so there’s reason to temper expectations and the Lions are the punching bag of the NFL, so there’s that. It’s not like everyone is saying that both these teams will suck this year, but most of what I’ve heard about their prospects has been negative. And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

I’m not saying that I want the Lions or Wolverines to be a laughingstock, but I would rather have them coming into the year with a chip on their shoulder than have people calling for them to win the Super Bowl or the College Football Playoff. I enjoy being the underdog and without the overblown expectations I like to believe my team is free to just go out there and play the game. Not to mention that every time one of my teams is picked by the talking heads to do big things they inevitably trip over their own feet and do something stupid, like lose to Appalachian State in the season opener.

 

 Give me some Matthew Stafford with something to prove, please.

 

No, no. Better to be overlooked out of the gate and shock the world. There’s no better feeling than be discounted only to come back and shut up all of the naysayers. Because when everyone thinks you ain’t shit, the only way to go is up. It’s so much sweeter that way. Maybe it’s just my Detroit roots, who knows. But I’d rather be the underdog any day. This season and for every season to come.

 

The Patriots can have their next championship handed to them before any games have been played, but as for my Lions, I’d rather have them earn it. Alabama or Ohio State can get crowned before the school year even begins, but I’d rather have the Wolverines ruin someone else’s perfect season out of nowhere. Like a cobra laying in wait for it’s prey, I like my teams to surprise the opposition and the spectators alike. I identify with the little guy and the life of an underdog is the one for me.

 

 


Calvin Johnson has the right to speak his mind

Written by :
Published on : July 16, 2017

 

 

The Detroit Lions world is once again in an uproar over comments made by Calvin Johnson. The best receiver to ever don a Lions uniform is getting a ton of flak from fans and pundits after a recent trip to Italy. When prodded by the Italian media about his early retirement, he stated that in addition to the well-noted breakdown of his body and its declining ability to recover from the rigors of playing in the NFL, he didn’t see a shot at a Super Bowl with the Lions. This has fans all over the internet hating on Megatron and complaining that he is dragging the organization, the same one that made him a very rich man, through the mud.

 


Everyone needs dial back the talk of Calvin Johnson bashing the organization and remember that he is entitled to his opinion and he is no longer an employee of the team. Not only can he say whatever he wants but he was the only bright spot in a horribly mis-managed operation for years. He suffered through so much as a Lion and always did it with class. He showed up to work, did his job and did it well. And through all the losing, and the coaching blunders, and awful rosters, he never once complained. Or demanded a trade. He was a Lion for his entire career, and when his body couldn’t take the abuse anymore he walked away from the game. That he didn’t see a Super Bowl in the immediate future for the team factored into the decision, big deal.

 

Megatron also added that he was “stuck” in his contract and had approached the team about possibly being released, which the Lions were never going to do. The only thing I really take issue with is him saying he was stuck when he chose to sign the contract in the first place. He could have entered free agency and went to any number of teams but he signed a 7 year/ $132 million extension in 2012 to be sure he would retire a Lion. If he was stuck it was his own doing.

 

Other than that I don’t really see a reason to be mad at Calvin. Can a man who is retired and not on the team not answer a question candidly? He no longer owes anything to the team and should be able to say what’s on his mind. Everyone already knew this was the case. Fans need to stop getting their feelings hurt by what was plain to see.

 

With all that said, the ongoing Calvin Johnson post-career drama is getting old. Sadly, we as fans are going to have to get used to it. Unless Calvin Johnson becomes a hermit and is never seen in public again, the conversation will eventually always come back to a career that was far too short. And most people will place the blame for that on the Lions and try to bait him into admitting that the team is the reason the world was robbed of Megatron too soon.

 

 


The same old champs

Written by :
Published on : June 15, 2017

 

The Golden State Warriors have just won the 2017 NBA Championship. Congrats to them. They pulled it off in just five games against a very good Cavs team led by superstar LeBron James. This is the Warriors second trophy in just three seasons (three straight finals trips) and from the looks of the roster, they should be highly competitive for years to come.

 

Just days before that, the Pittsburgh Penguins became back-to-back Stanley Cup champs after beating the Nashville Predators in six games. It was a hard fought series but the experience and leadership of Sidney Crosby was too much for a young Preds crew to overcome. That now makes five Stanley Cups for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Three since 2009. That’s dominance.

 

 

The 2016 sports season is finally over. All the hardware has been handed out and now we can finally look back and spot the trends. The data tells a simple story. The same jerks who always win, won again. In the four major professional sports (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB), only the Chicago Cubs were not a recent champion of the 2016 winners (Patriots, Warriors, Penguins). What’s the deal? Why do we only ever see the same few organizations on the podium? It’s a drag to always see the same guys celebrating.

 

In football, the 2016 season ended with yet another New England Patriots Super Bowl victory. Yawn. Don’t get me wrong, the actual game was great and historic. Seeing the Pats climb back was a sports memory no one will soon forget but the overall outcome was boring. Brady wins his fifth ring in fifteen years. Give someone else a turn.

 

 

Thank God for the Chicago Cubs. If it wasn’t for them then we would be stuck watching sports re-runs of the same victory parades over and over again. The Cubbies made history and ended one hell of a drought. That’s a good story. That’s what we need. Redemption, the under dog, the cinderella story. Something new!

 

But baseball isn’t always the outlier. The San Francisco Giants have three World Series wins since 2010. Overall, the MLB seems more wide open than the other sports but maybe that’s just the perception. So what now? It’s clear that across sports there is an upper class of franchises and these teams are the ones that win the big games. What’s the lesson? Steal the model. Copy what’s working. Steal away their coaches and personnel. Change your culture. Whatever it takes.

 

As we enter the summer months where we only have MLB action to hold us over or as many call it, the dark days, we can only hope that this year will see some new faces on the Wheaties box.

 

Champs.

 

 


Waiting on Aaron Rodgers

Written by :
Published on : May 31, 2017

 

I wait tables at a diner in Los Angeles. It’s not a glamorous job but it keeps bread in my basket. It’s a tip based gig so good customer service is the name of the game. And I’d like to think that I’m pretty good at my job but it definitely wears on me from time to time. Recently, I had a night to remember. This is my story of waiting on Aaron Rodgers, star quarterback of the Green Bay Packers.

 

First, let’s set the scene. I started my shift at 9pm. It normally goes until around 2am (we close at 4am) but a funny thing happened, the other server showed up wasted and was instantly sent home. That means I’m now closing. Great. Also one of the bussers didn’t show so we were even more short staffed. Plus the kitchen didn’t prep the daily special that everyone keeps ordering. Needless to say, I was cranky pants for most of the night.

 

Around 2:30 am it happened, a group of five takes my big booth. I go get drink orders and that’s when I realize. Seat 3 is Aaron Fucking Rodgers. The cherry on top of a shit sundae of a shift. Now, I have to play nice to the one pro athlete I hate the most. What a joke. I’ve watched Aaron Rodgers single-handedly destroy my Detroit Lions for the last decade. I legit despise this guy. Don’t get me wrong, he’s real good at football, that’s why I dislike him. Because he always guts me and my team. I’d list all the terrible moments but it would just get me all worked up. So, I smile and nod, while Rodger’s buddies order oreo milkshakes. I tried to find someone on the staff who could understand my predicament but with no other football fans around, I went into the back and sent a text to Alex.

 

Aaron Rodger text message

 

Alex brought up a good point. What am I going to do with this opportunity? Spit in his food? Turn my back on my city and ask for a photo? Do nothing and stew quietly (my traditional go-to)? Or maybe something bold? I had a little time to game plan. I went back and got orders. Aaron Rodgers orderd the breakfast burrito and as quick as he can read a cover-2 defense, I up-sell him on adding bacon (extra $2.50!). He bites hard on my offer. Point Bruno. Rodger’s little sidekick dittos the order, “I’ll have the same.” I can tell this happens a lot with this guy. The others get cheese fries, a breakfast sandwich and a club sandwich (no tomatoes).

 

Aaron Rodgers & Co eat their food, I check in, all gravy. No dessert, no coffee, they are ready for the check. Shit. Game time. I follow Alex’s lead and write “Go Lions” on the bottom of the receipt. I fold it lengthwise, as per usual, and go to drop it to everyone’s favorite NFL star. But before I can get there, the short blonde pulls out her Amex and insists I take it. Fuck, he may not see my message now. I run the card and return to the table, the check is unfolded, face up. Maybe he saw it? We’ll never know.

 

Rodgers check

 

The table stands and slowly makes their way to the door. I’m at the computer, closest to the the front. Aaron Rodgers is 5 feet from me. I get the idea, I should tackle him. I push that idea out of my head and then another thought creeps in. I look at Rodgers and say “Hey man”, he looks at me. We lock eyes, I say “we’ll see you at Ford Field this year” he rolls his eyes and gives a sarcastic “yeah” and then walks out.

 

I was on cloud nine. I felt so cool and tough. In my head, I told off a millionaire. The reality is, I’m not even going to the Packers at Lions game, I was just saying that as the royal ‘we’, like the Lions and I will see you later this year. Even funnier is to think of this story from Aaron Rodger’s perspective. He came in, got some okay food, decent service, then a stranger made a vague reference to seeing him later. End of story.

 

Short blonde friend did tip $20 on $75.69 which is like 26%, which I’ll take all day. There was also a moment where I considered, “what if Aaron Rodgers gets mad about the ‘Go Lions’ thing and doesn’t tip me?” but I already hate him, if he didn’t tip me, then this would be a very different story. Either way, worth it.

 

Nobody eats for free.

 

 


Putting the fun back in the NFL, one rule change at a time

Written by :
Published on : May 25, 2017

 

In an about-face from the way the league has been operating in recent years, the NFL has voted to give its players a chance to express themselves. The league has spent years stifling their players’ creative instincts by penalizing them for end zone celebrations. Instead of embracing something that fans and players both enjoy, the No Fun League has been throwing flags and even fining players for putting a little soul in the game, but it appears that Roger Goodell and the powers that be have seen the error of their ways.

 

At the spring league meeting, the owners voted to ease restrictions on touchdown celebrations and proponents of common sense everywhere rejoiced. What was it about dancing in the end zone or celebrating a touchdown that irked all these owners so bad in the first place? Maybe they were jealous of the dance moves, or maybe they are so far removed from our meager plebeian society that they forgot how normal, non-billionaires have fun and express joy. Either way, they are starting to get their heads out of their asses and come around on this one. I, for one, can’t wait to see some of the pent up celebrations that people have been sitting on during these dark days of prohibition.

 

The obvious winners in this decision are the fans. If football fans wanted to see a bunch of soulless robots they would watch baseball. Pigskin aficionados like the unpredictable nature of the game and want their favorite players to surprise them in new and exciting ways, and with the game being damn near a century old, it’s time to get creative. That’s where celebrations on big plays come in. The players still aren’t allowed to do anything that might be seen as taunting (throat slash), or anything sexually suggestive, but they are allowed to do group celebrations and to use the ball as a prop.

 

 

The players who will no longer have to risk being fined for getting excited are winners in this too. By extension the teams also win because they won’t have to endure ridiculous penalties when players inevitably celebrate regardless of the rules. Guys like Antonio Brown are excited to get the whole team in on the fun and we should be too. I imagine Odell Beckham Jr has a few things up his sleeve and I’m sure Cam Newton will hop on whatever dance trend is happening and then beat it to death.  

 

While the rule change is definitely a step in the right direction, I’m not sure that the NFL went far enough. There’s still a few annoying things, like that you reportedly still can’t dunk the ball through the uprights like Calvin Johnson used to (despite what the below video says). Also, the 40 second play clock starts immediately after a touchdown, meaning that teams could risk a delay of game if the TD scoring player isn’t quick about his celebration. Think of the wonderfully choreographed masterpieces that we will miss out on. For a little more explanation on what is, and what isn’t allowed, check out this informative video featuring former Detroit Lions TE and TD celebrations pro, Joe Fauria.  

 


I say let these guys go to town. Maybe they could even work on dance numbers with predetermined music. The crowd would love it and so would the players. These guys got soul and they need to share it with the world.

 

Let them dance.

 

 


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