What's that? You were wondering exactly how many days until the start of the NFL season? Well, you're in luck! We here at the Triangle are set to spend the next three and a half months providing a daily reason to get excited about pro football's return.
This morning, Calvin Johnson reportedly confirmed something that we’ve sorta known, but not really known, for a few months. Then he didn’t. Right now, we know this much: For a significant portion of a season in which he broke the single-season record for receiving yards, Megatron played with at least one messed-up finger.
Now, as others have noted, broken fingers for wide receivers are not uncommon. Torry Holt looks like this. Antonio Freeman can’t wear his Super Bowl ring because notorious asshole/finger-breaker Brett Favre ruined his hands.
On Friday, Greg Jennings accepted an offer from the Minnesota Vikings that could pay him as much as $47.5 million over the next five years, with $18 million in guaranteed money. As a Packers fan, I feel 20 percent sad and 80 percent indifferent about this. I’ll always remember Greg Jennings as the best receiver of Aaron Rodgers’s early years. He was to no. 12 what Sterling Sharpe was to Brett Favre — or (for you non-Packers fans) what David Caruso was to NYPD Blue or Paul Di’Anno was to Iron Maiden. In seven seasons, Jennings caught 425 passes for 6,537 yards and 53 touchdowns. The bulk of that production occurred from 2007 to 2010, the period when the Packers transitioned from Favre to Rodgers and ended up winning their fourth Super Bowl. Jennings was a pivotal player in that process; as Ted Thompson put it over the weekend with typical samurai terseness, Jennings was a “Good man. Good player.”
Alas, I come not to praise the Packer Greg Jennings was but to bury the Viking he is now. He was arguably the fourth-best guy in a stacked receiving squad last season, behind Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and the ascendant Randall Cobb. He hasn’t been healthy lately, missing 11 out of his past 22 games. And it was widely assumed that he’d been leaving anyway; Rodgers was already reminiscing back in September about the favorite deep balls thrown to his onetime go-to big-play threat. The most important contribution Jennings made to the Packers lately was not re-signing before the 2012 season, when he could’ve reportedly made $11 million per year, and instead milking the desperate Vikings, the league’s second-worst passing team (just ahead of the Chiefs) last year. Jennings freed up cap space for the Packers and forced a hated divisional opponent to overpay. What a generous parting gift!
This Saturday night, I plan on sitting in front of my television set for three-plus hours and praying that the Packers' pass protection is better than the 49ers' pass rush. Of all the variables that might possibly affect the outcome of the Packers-49ers playoff game, this by far seems the most important. And I’m sure that the pregame coverage, as well as the play-by-play announcers, will spend a lot of time analyzing it. But I also expect to hear about another story line that’s become standard for Packers games. It stars Aaron Rodgers, and it co-stars The Chip On Aaron Rodgers’s Shoulder.
If you watch the Packers every week like I do, you’ve come to regard The Chip On Aaron Rodgers’s Shoulder as an overly familiar chestnut of wisdom utilized by analysts to supposedly reveal deep truths about the reigning NFL MVP’s psyche. It is now officially the no. 1 talking point among football pundits for deconstructing Aaron Rodgers’s play and persona. What “he looks like a kid out there!” was to Brett Favre, “he sure takes things to heart!” is to Rodgers. If Favre was “the gunslinger,” Rodgers is the grudge-slinger.
1. Clint Dempsey, Forza Nacogdoches
He kicks in your voice, American! Brian Phillips nominates the USMNT/Fulham titan. I second that nomination. And you third it. Dempsey scored the match-winning goal against Italy in Genoa last week, giving the national side its first-ever victory over the Azzurri.
Meanwhile, back in England, Deuce has been on a tear, scoring twice against Wolves last weekend. But here's the best part
Chicago Bears/Jay Cutler Sports Plaque -- $19.95
The idea of having this picture of Jay Cutler displayed above the quote, "For the last time, I cannot flag someone for making you cry," is one of those ideas that you and your buddies talk about while watching football one Sunday, it's getting a lot of LOLs around the room, really killing, and then you -- being your enterprising self -- decide to actually go and get it made. You put it on eBay, and that's when you realize, zero bids later, that it's way better in concept than in actual execution. Don't let this discourage you from taking the bull by the horns, though. "You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take," said NHL legend Wayne Gretzky, and I'm not entirely sure, but I believe he was referencing this very scenario of commissioning a plaque of Jay Cutler to be sold on eBay.
Despite their best efforts, T.J. Yates, Tyler Palko, and Kevin Kolb all won NFL games this week. Not BQBL games — actual professional American football games. Yates won because a defensive hold negated his pick-six, Palko won because he was up against Caleb Hanie, and Kolb won because, well, there’s only one way to put this: Dallas coach Jason Garrett iced his own kicker. Oh yeah, you know who else won? The greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL: Timothy Richard Tebow.
Timothy Richard Tebow’s success has gone from shocking to flukey to confusing, and has finally landed on expected. I watched the Broncos-Vikings game in a bar Sunday, and as it entered the fourth quarter, every completed pass, positive run, and cutaway to Timothy Richard on the sideline was met with screams and chants of “Teeeeeebooooooooow!” There was not a single soul in the place watching another game or rooting against Timothy Richard. Now that Timothy Richard has a hold on the division lead, there is only one man, one bad quarterback on the planet who could loosen his hold on the zeitgeist — The Gunslinger, Brett Lorenzo Favre. Please, please, please return, Gunslinger. Please, Gunslinger. The Bears need you, the BQBL needs you. Besides, we all know you’re jealous of the attention Tebow is getting. We all know how much you love to see your face on ESPN.com. Just think about how good it would look on the BQBL Summer Jam Screen.
This week there was no Gunslinger, but let’s have a look at the BQBs who turned in some truly pick-tastic gunslingeryish performances:
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
With a home run, a double, and 4 RBIs, David Freese emerged from his series-long slump to lead the Cardinals over the Phillies 5-3 and force a Game 5 in the NLDS. At this point, both the Yankees and Phillies will be fighting for their lives in a win-or-go-home elimination game. Hopefully the fear of losing either of these beloved clubs will finally give America something to rally behind.
1. Ki-Jana Carter, running back
In my mind, Ki-Jana Carter is not who you think he is. In my mind, Ki-Jana Carter is the man in this video, a sculpted 21-year-old who takes a handoff on a sunny day in Pasadena, Calif., stumbles forward, regains his balance, ricochets off a linebacker, changes direction and outruns everyone to the end zone. In my mind, everything in Ki-Jana Carter’s football career that took place after this day doesn’t mean as much as it probably does to you.
"I can't rule anything out. OK? So, I mean, we don't rule anything out," Sparano said. "I don't know how you want me to answer that. That'll be all over the news now too, but I'm giving you the only answer I can give you." (via ESPN)