The NFL Anthem Rule Changes

Last Wednesday, the NFL Owners and the powers that be decided that there would no longer be any protests of the national anthem. They instead implemented a new rule in which any player caught kneeling and not ‘Respecting’ or ‘Honoring’ the American Flag could cost their respective team 15 yards before the game even starts. The alternative would be that the team can decide to simply stay inside the locker room while the anthem is being played. The league also made it clear that a player who ‘Disrespects the flag’ on the sidelines could face a fine for his actions.

To better understand why this rule was put into place, we’d have to travel back to August 14, 2016, when then 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick sat during the anthem. When questioned about his reasoning behind this, Kaepernick explained that this was his way of protesting the racism and police brutality that many African Americans have faced before and around that time. He also said that he was going to persist with his protests until something was done to achieve a greater sense of unity as a nation.

Kap first started kneeling on September 1st of that year and that was just the spark that ignited this long burning fire that has been as divisive to the NFL world as our President has been to our country. The protests continued into the previous NFL season with President Donald Trump claiming that players who kneel or protest should be kicked out of the league, (and that was just last year around week 3). In response, every NFL team found their own unique way to express unity.

 The tensions were continuing to rise, many people stopped watching the NFL claiming that these players were disrespecting the flag. Despite the fact that Kaepernick and several other players made it clear that they were trying to call for a positive change. These attempts for change resulted in a big step backwards when the new rules that were put into place or are about to be enforced.

What many people don’t realize is that athletes who have made political statements isn’t something that’s unprecedented. The 1968 Olympics had Black runners raise their fists during the anthem, Muhammed Ali protested the Vietnam War, etc. So the anthem protests here is simply history just repeating itself.   

Honestly, I feel that as long as those protesting the flag are being proactive for the same reasons that Kaepernick has been, then there’s no problem. Since his initial protests, Kaepernick has donated at least 1 million bucks to various charities that go with his cause. One example is when he gave Keith Livingston’s charity 100 Suits for 100 Men. The charity which provides decent clothes to people that have limited job shots when they leave prison.

These protests might also be able to get the ball rolling on the conversation about the still present issue of racism and police brutality. While there are many people out there that find this to be uncalled for, I just want to ask you one question, do you think that the issues here are NOT worth talking about? Are the issues these players protesting nonexistent? If you ask these questions and come to reasonable conclusions, maybe you’ll feel that these protests are not as offensive as you may think at first.


A Rookie Replacing Roethlisberger?

A little under a month ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted QB Mason Rudolph out of Oklahoma State which left many people curious. Is this young man meant to take over the reigns from aging incumbent Ben Roethlisberger? Big Ben (Who’s only 36) was quoted as saying that, “I was surprised when they took a QB, I thought we’d be getting players that could help us win now.” On the 93.7 The Fan radio station in Pittsburgh. Many have speculated that Roethlisberger has seen this a way of the Steelers’ organization threatening to replace him in the near future.

Roethlisberger has done it all during his long career, two Super Bowl titles in three appearances, 6 Pro Bowl trips, Offensive Rookie of the year and co-led the league in passing yards during the 2014-15 season. Ben also mentioned in that same interview on The Fan, that he felt it “Wasn’t his job to get him ready to replace me,” which leads to the debate of how one should read this situation.

We’ve seen this type of situation many times before in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers being drafted in ’05, Steve Young coming in behind Joe Montana, the list goes on. I’m not saying that Rudolph will be as good as either Rodgers or Young, that remains to be seen. But when you consider that Roethlisberger is 36, which is pretty old for a QB, I think the Steelers were simply drafting for the future. Ben doesn’t have anything to worry about at this point. If the Steelers were drafting Rudolph to have him learn the position the first before taking over, that’s the smart move. We’ve seen rookie QBs get thrown into the firing line too quickly and then it backfires, just like it did for Deshone Kizer for starters and Ryan Leaf. Starting a rookie QB is a risky move, so letting a young buck learn the ropes slowly is often the best route.

When it comes down to the question of ‘Should Ben teach Mason how to play QB to take his job?’ that’s a ludicrous idea. Why would you teach someone how to do your job in the hopes of you losing it to the young blood under your wing? The best thing that Ben can do, is show the kid a few tricks of the trade and let the coaches/ Mason Rudolph do the rest. Training anyone to take your job from you is not how these things are supposed to work. As of right now, Big Ben is the starter, unless he gets hurt or something to that effect, his starting job is safe. The Steelers are just planning for the future, and maybe Roethlisberger should consider that if he’s confused about this, they’re not trying to replace him, they just want a plan in place when he retires, that’s what’s going on here.

Tony Dungy to be Enshrined in Tampa Bay’s Ring of Honor

On September 24th of this year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will enshrine their first winning coach in the franchise’s history upon his departure. That man is Tony Dungy who compiled a record of 54 wins and 42 losses during his 6-year tenure as the Bucs Head Coach. The Buccaneers were seen as a joke at the time that Dungy took the job in 1996 and things didn’t start off promising as the team went 6-10 in his first season. But the Bucs were able to create a sense of hope at the end of that season as they pulled together a few impressive wins to end the season on a high note. This would be his sole losing season during his time as the Bucs Head Coach

This isn’t the first time Tony Dungy has been honored for his efforts as a head coach, he was enshrined in the Colts’ ring of honor in 2010 where he won his first and last Super Bowl in 2007. Dungy may not have been around to coach the Bucs to their 2003 Super Bowl win in San Diego, but he got the team to be a playoff caliber squad that was perfected into a Super Bowl winner by his successor Jon Gruden.

Tony Dungy also took take the Buccaneers to the playoffs four times during his tenure as their head coach was there to watch the beginnings of many great players get their start. This includes Hall of Famer Warren Sapp, who was one of the great pioneers of the Tampa 2 Defense that would help made the Bucs a tough team to face at their own field.

The Buccaneers will host the Pittsburgh Steelers that day on Monday Night Football in week 3 September 24th of this year. Hopefully the Bucs can give their former coach a lovely night to remember against Big Ben & Co.


The Packers 2018 Draft and Seasonal Overview

Packers 2018 Draft Summary

After a very disappointing 2017 season, the Packers knew what they needed from the draft and they also had a new GM at the helm in Dallas last week. Coming off of a 7-9 season, their first losing season in nearly a decade, the Packers knew that they needed a few fresh faces on Defense to help make them more formidable against opposing offenses. The Packers drafted three defensive players, DE James Looney, DBs Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson, as well as LB Oren Burks. It’s great to see the Packers draft defensive players that address the three main groups on Defense as they haven’t been a dominant defense in quite some time.

The Packers new Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine will have a fair amount of fresh faces to work with this season that will hopefully rejuvenate a defensive squad that ranked only 21st. The biggest problem that has plagued the Packers the past few years has been the secondary, a lot of young players that had talent but not a lot of wisdom. Jackson was a turnover machine last year for Iowa with 8 interceptions, turnovers were a major perk of the Packers secondary during the late 2000s and the first half or so of this decade, but they haven’t really been that productive at forcing turnovers as of late. Only forcing 11 ints versus the 18 that they threw offensively.

The D-Line and Linebacking core needed a few new faces as well, Martinez and Ryan have been doing okay, but Clay Matthews has turned in a ghost who occasionally materializes to sack the opposing team’s QB. But that has happened as often as a lineman running a 4.8 40 yard dash, not something you’d want outside of a LB who’s claimed that, “I’m a Pass Rusher,” during the 2014 season. So with the drafting of Burks and Looney, maybe the Packers pass rush will return to a much intimidating force, which will in turn help the secondary produce more turnovers.

The Offensive side of the Packers organization has some question marks to address as well, especially when it comes to supplementing the weaponry to Aaron Rodgers. The team made a very questionable call in trading Jordy Nelson to Oakland to make room for Seahawks’ TE Jimmy Graham. In response, the Packers have drafted WRs J’Mon Moore and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Replacing Nelson is a daunting task, as he and Rodgers were a very powerful duo between 2008-2017, so bringing in Jimmy Graham is mitigated by that move and drafting two young WRs shouldn’t be as comforting as it may seem.

The Packers do have an entire offseason to get the Offense ready for the season, but I still have my reservations about these moves. Getting a new TE was a good idea and I know that Jimmy Graham is similar to Nelson in terms of skill set, but it’s going to be hard to recreate that chemistry that Nelson had with Rodgers. Plus, drafting a few rookie wideouts while you still have Cobb, Adams, and a growing talent in Geronimo Allison, but getting a few more wideouts for Rodgers to work with is a good idea. Hopefully these rookies are quick learners of the Packers new offense led by Rodgers and OC Joe Philbin.  

Special teams never really seemed problematic as the Packers only drafted a Punter when they already have a decent one in Justin Vogel, so it seems that the Packers have tried to address the problems that they had offensively and defensively. The 2018 season at this point is very similar to two other seasons, namely the 2009 and 2014 seasons.  Both seasons had the Packers coming off of disappointing campaigns the previous years, and they went from 6-10 in 2008 to 11-5 in 2009. The 2014 season saw the Packers go 12-4 after a frustrating 8-7-1 season in 2013. This year will also see Aaron Rodgers coming back from a broken collarbone and trying to regain his status as one of the most efficient passers in the NFL. Losing Jordy Nelson may be a crippling blow to some, (It still kind of is to me) but with an entire offseason to come up with ways to make the offense click, I still think that this draft might help bring Green Bay back into playoff contention this season. Some might say Super Bowl, but it always pays off more to be realistic, rather than foolishly optimistic, but we shall see.