The Trend Is The New Normal

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Last March I wrote a blog at the rash of younger players retiring from the NFL. The most notable of which being San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis. Well as training camps get under way there have been another slew of quality players (if not Hall of Fame candidates) 30 and under who have decided that another season on the gridiron just isn’t worth it.

We all know about the high profile retirements this off-season of Peyton Manning and Charles Woodson. Those were expected but Charles Johnson, aka Megatron, hanging it up along with Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch came as a shock to some. They were joined by wide receiver Greg Jennings, linebackers Jerod Mayo and AJ Tarpley, defensive backs Walter Thurmond and Husain Abdullah, offensive linemen Phil Loadholt and Eugene Monroe just to name a few.

The oldest member of the group listed outside of Manning and Woodson, was just 30 years old. As the video above shows, some people just can’t believe that 30 years olds like Lynch and Johnson are walking away from millions of dollars.

Everyone has a reason but as Tarpley stated in his piece with MMQB, it was about concussions. It is a reasonable conclusion to make that with all of the publicity surrounding CTE that it is influencing players in their late 20’s, veterans, to take the money and run.

Last March I said that we will have to wait and see if this was a trend. Over a year later I would say that it isn’t a trend but a fact of life moving forward. Yes players like Manning and Woodson will still be around but overall NFL teams should expect players to give them between five to seven years of service before they hang it up.

While this seems like a ‘crisis’ for the NFL it really isn’t. Back in 2011 an NFL study said that the average NFL career was around seven years. The league and teams should plan on players pushing very hard for a bigger and bigger signing bonus after their rookie contracts are up and that in all reality shouldn’t be coming as a great shock to anyone in the NFL.

The NFL is smart. They will adjust salary caps and such to fit what is going to be the ‘new normal’ for the sport.

EXTRA READING:

What it’s like to retire from the NFL

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The Best

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Pat Summitt has died at the age of 64. The trailblazing coach roamed the sidelines at Tennessee for 38 years, won eight national championships and 1,098 games. She has gone down as not only one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time but as one of the greatest coaches in all of sports.

“The word icon and the word legend is probably used too much in today’s sports society, but it is certainly appropriate when describing Pat Summitt,”

– Peyton Manning

Summitt was an innovator. Her teams practiced against men, played in your face defense and were famous for playing anybody, anywhere at anytime. She was once offered the Tennessee men’s basketball job where she replied, “Why is that considered a step up?” Years later while watching a men’s practice, she got so fired up at what she was seeing that she took over practice from then men’s coach Bruce Pearl.

She was renowned for her toughness. It was on full display when she went on a recruiting trip to Allentown, PA to convince future star Michelle Marciniak to come to Knoxville. Her water broke as she walked in the door and refused to let the pilots land anywhere but Tennessee where she gave birth to her only child Tyler. Yes, she epitomized ‘Tennessee Tough.’

That toughness was reflected in her team. Year in and year out, the Lady Vols were always among the country’s elite making 18 trips to the Women’s Final Four. They practiced hard, played hard and studied harder. I can remember a friend telling me how blown away he was by the fact that three members of the Lady Vols were in the front row of his 9am class the day after playing a late night game in Ames, IA during the NCAA Tournament.

While there are many great coaches in basketball, Pat Summitt is among the top. She is in the same class as Mike Krzyzewski, Bobby Knight, Phil Jackson and John Wooden. Heck, you have to put her in the same class as Bill Belichick, Bill Walsh, Knute Rockne, Casey Stengel and Joe Torre. She was one of the greats and will be sorely missed not just in Knoxville but around the world.

Tribute to Pat Summitt

The End of a Football Career

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Say what you want. Call him this or call him that but what you can call him is one of the best quarterbacks to play the game of football. He is a first ballot hall of famer and no one prepared harder for games than he did.

Hhe set the standard on and off the field for what an NFL player should be like.

The saddest part about Peyton’s retirement is that we will get less funny TV ads. All the more reason to get NFL Redzone.

The Sunday: Prophecy, Proposal & Walk Outs

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Peyton

We may very well see Peyton Manning play his final football game today. Whether you love him or hate him you have to respect him. He gave the commencement speech at the University of Virginia in 2014 and he said somethings that ring true about who he is and where he is this Super Bowl 50 Sunday. Take a listen around the 16:22 mark and you’ll see what I am talking about.

 

National Signing Day 2016

National Signing Day 2016 is in the books and yes, it’s out of control. There are some creative takeaways though like mimicking a movie from 1999.

 

Proposal

UFC weigh-ins have seen a lot over the years. From intense stare-downs to Tom Lawlor doing what he does but this may have stolen the top spot.

 

Flying Knee

While proposals are sweet flying knee KO’s are sweeter.

 

The 77 Walkout

Liverpool fans made their feelings known about the recent announcement that ticket prices are going up. This is the first time in Liverpool’s 132 year history that something like this has happened.

 

Steph Curry Moment of the Week

What To Watch – Fri. 2/5 – Sun. 2/7

All times are Pacific.

Friday February 5th

Indiana Pacers at Atlanta Hawks – 4pm ESPN: Hawks sit in third in the Eastern Conference and  Pacers are looking to keep pace.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning – 4:30pm NHLN: Pens are three points back of the Lightning in the Eastern Conference. Game could be a big factor as we get closer to the playoffs.

San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks – 6:30pm ESPN: It’s just a solid rivalry game year in and year out.

 

Saturday February 6th

Manchester City vs Leicester City – 4:45am NBCSN: Two teams at the top of the table in the Premier League. Let’s do this.

Hertha BSC vs Boruissa Dortmund – 6:30am FS1: One of three big games in the Bundesliga this weekend. Dortmund looks to keep Bayern Munich within striking distance but Hertha has other ideas.

Bayer Leverkusen vs Bayern Munich – 9:30am FOX: The Bundesliga doesn’t get much love here but when it does, it features Bayern Munich.

Washington Capitals at New Jersey Devils – 10am NHL.TV: Devils are sitting on the outside of the playoff by virtue of a tie breaker. A win against the NHL’s top team would put a lot of confidence into that bunch.

Villanova at Providence – 11:30am FS1: #3 vs #11 on a Saturday afternoon and with Gus Johnson? Holla!

Purdue at Maryland – 1pm ESPN: Tune in to watch the Terps Melo Trimble do work. It’s something to see.

North Carolina at Notre Dame – 4pm ESPN: While Notre Dame isn’t the same power they have been in years passed, they are still a heck of a basketball team and South Bend is still a tough place to play.

Baylor at West Virginia – 5pm ESPN2: A top 25 matchup and WVU is coming off of a big road win earlier this week.

Chicago Blackhawks at Dallas Stars – 5pm NHLN: These two are neck and neck in the Western Conference.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors – 6pm ABC: Durant and Westbrook take on the defending champs and Steph Curry. Pull up a chair and enjoy the best the NBA has to offer.

 

Sunday February 7th

Chelsea vs Manchester United – 8am NBCSN: Because it’s Chelsea vs Manchester United that’s why!

LA Clippers at Miami Heat – 11am ABC: Lob City hits Dade County. Lot of talent and its should be a nice game entertain us as we wait for the Super Bowl.

Utah at Oregon – 1pm ESPN2: Underrated game out west for your Sunday afternoon.

Peyton Manning BroncosSuper Bowl 50 – 3:30pm CBS: If you don’t who is playing and the story lines and then you have been living under a rock on Saturn. It’s the Carolina Panthers vs the Denver Broncos by the way. Oh and it’s probably Peyton’s last game.

The Sunday: Surprises and the Unexpected

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Beneath Where Beavers Play

BonesIt’s not been a good run for the Oregon State football team the last two years. They have lost a total of 17 games and to pour salt on an open wound, while doing renovations to Reser Stadium bones of a mammoth were uncovered. No word yet on if the this will help the Beavers beat the Ducks next season.

 

 

Last Rodeo

The Super Bowl is a week away and many pundits feel that this could be Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning’s last game. He nearly said as much at the 50 yard line to New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick after last weekends 20-18 victory over the Patriots in the AFC Championship game.

Regardless, we still get one more game with Peyton.

 

Curtain of Distraction

Not sure where this ranks but having an Olympian with multiple Gold Medals pop out from behind the Curtain of Distraction while you’re trying to shoot free throws would probably cause most people to miss. Well it did cause the Oregon State player to miss both free throws.

 

Another Hit

Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman has been suspended for his cheap shot hit…on a ref! Wideman claims that he didn’t see the ref and was just trying to get off the ice after taking a heavy hit into the boards himself. You decide. His hearing with the NHL is on Tuesday February 2nd after which it will be decided how many games he will be out.

 

Earn It

LeBron James may seem to have it all. Multiple championships, MVP’s, Gold Medals and a lifetime Nike contract. Well he also earns all these things. Saturday night he got his pocket picked by the San Antonio Spurs Manu Ginobili and then hustled down to the other end of the court to block the shot.

That’s what I’m talking about!

 

Steph Curry Moment of the Week

What To Watch: Fri. 1/22 – Sun. 1/24

All times are Pacific.

Friday January 22nd

Anaheim Ducks at Washington Capitals – 2pm NHLN: This game got kicked up do to the winter storm. Some people will a good game featuring the best team in the NHL.POSTPONED DUE TO STORM. 

Chicago Blackhawks at Florida Panthers – 4:30pm NHL Gamecenter: Two of the best teams in the NHL face off in South Florida. The Blackhawks (68 pts) and the Panthers (57 pts) and both are leading their respective divisions.

Oklahoma City at Dallas Mavericks – 5:30pm NBA League Pass: Big, big battle in the Western Conference between two teams who want to make a deep run in the playoffs.

Indiana Pacers at Golden State Warriors – 7:30pm ESPN: Pacers are one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference but these are the Warriors who are undefeated at home this year. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr returns to the court after taking a leave of absence due to back surgery.

 

Saturday January 23rd

Providence at Villanova – 9am FOX: One of few top 25 match-ups for the day. Big East

West Ham vs Manchester City – 9:30am NBC: Man City is still in a battle with Leicester City and Arsenal for the top spot in the Premier League. West Ham is fighting for a European football spot for next season. It’s a crazy, crazy season.

Minnesota Wild at San Jose Sharks – 1pm NHL Gamecenter: Both teams are jockeying for playoff position in the Western Conference.

Maryland at Michigan State – 3:30pm ESPN: A big battle in the Big Ten…and nationally for that matter. Both teams have the potential to make a deep run in the tournament come March.

Montreal Canadiens at Toronto Maple Leafs – 4pm NHLN: While these two teams are far apart in the standings, it’s still one of the best rivalries in all of sports.

Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers – 4pm NHL Gamecenter: Tampa Bay sits three points behind the Panthers and the Panthers will be coming off a tough game against the Chicago. It’s perfect timing for the Lightning.

LeBron JamesChicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers – 5:30pm ABC: LeBron James and the Cavs take on Jimmy Butler and the Bulls. Both got teams are at powerhouses in the Eastern Conference and both need to rebound from butt kickings by the Warriors.

 

Sunday January 24th

Arsenal vs Chelsea – 8am NBCSN: Normally this would be a massive game. This year Chelsea is some 19 points behind the Gunners. They have gotten better though.

Sidney CrosbyPittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals – 9:30am NBC: A big game for the Penguins as they try to keep their playoff hopes alive. We’ll see if they can get their with the massive winter storm that is supposed to hit DC.

Purdue at Iowa – 10am BTN: Iowa seems to beat everyone this year but Purdue is a solid team and should give the Hawkeyes all they can handle.

New England Patriots at Denver Broncos – Noon CBS: The 18th time Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have squared off with a trip to the Super Bowl at stake. What else do you need?

Los Angeles Clippers at Toronto Raptors – 3pm NBA League Pass: The Lob City roadshow makes a stop in Southern Ontario to take on one of the top teams in the east.

Cam NewtonArizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers – 3:40pm FOX: Man this is an awesome game. The Cardinals almost blew it last week against the Packers and the Panthers almost did the same with the Seahawks. Someone has got to out together a complete game.

St Louis Blues at Chicago Blackhawks – 4pm NHLN: The Blues are looking to get a little closer to Central Division leading Chicago.

Los Angeles Kings at San Jose Sharks – 7pm NHL Gamecenter:  Best rivalry on the West Coast.

‘The QB’

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Update: The paperback version of this book is out. While a good part of this book focuses on Johnny Manziel it also focuses on a lot of players who are now starting at the collegiate level. QB’s such as UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Auburn’s Sean White and Purdue’s David Blough

We highly recommend this book.


Bruce Feldman did it again. This time with his latest book, ‘The QB: The Making of Modern Quarterbacks’. It’s an in depth and interesting read about all of the things being done to identify the next Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson.

The QB

‘The QB’ is a football fans book. If you are a casual fan, you may not enjoy it as much as a major football fan would. However, Feldman did a great job of reminding you who is who as he weaves between QB guru’s, high school prospects and Super Bowl winning QB’s. Feldman is able to pull all this together to give the reader a great understanding of the new process in which QB’s are being measured.

In some ways you could compare this book to Michael Lewis’ ‘Moneyball’. While the Oakland A’s had found a set of metrics that worked for them, people are still trying to find those to predict if a QB is going to be an NFL Hall of Famer or a National Championship team. The book dives into psychological angle of being a quarterback at the highest levels. One of the books major subjects Trent Dillfer believes that it is ‘nurture over nature’. Others rely on the metrics that they have always used like height and weight.

Feldman has written some good stuff in the past like his profile on current Washington State head coach Mike Leach. ‘The QB’ may be his best work yet. If you want to really understand why Tom Brady and Russell Wilson are leading their teams to yet another Super Bowl, read this book.

What To Watch Sat. 1/10- Sun. 1/11

All times are Pacific

Saturday January 9th

FCS National Title Game: North Dakota State vs Illinois St – 10am ESPN: North Dakota State is going for their fourth straight National Title. Wow! Too bad ESPN has done a horrible job of promoting this game.

Louisville at North Carolina – 11am ESPN: Thank goodness for conference realignment or else this would be a one off game.

Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots – 1:35pm NBC: Old playoff foes meet once again.

Virginia at Notre Dame – 3pm ESPN2: Still awkward to call this an ACC matchup but it is. UVA had the daylights scared out of them the other night while Notre Dame rolled out of North Carolina with a win.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Montreal Canadiens – 4pm NHLN: It’s the Pens at the Habs on a Saturday night at the Bell Centre. Did you want some poutine with that?

Iowa State at West Virginia – 5pm ESPN2: West Virginia is off to their best start like ever. Iowa State is still ranked above them but not by much. Both teams have a great chance of walking away with the Big 12 title.

Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks – 5:15pm FOX: If Carolina pulls off this upset it will be more historic than the Jets winning Super Bowl 3.

 

Sunday January 10th

Manchester United vs Southampton – 8am NBCSN: The surprising match up of teams in the top four of the Premier League.

Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers – 10am FOX: Can Dallas’s run game keep a one legged Aaron Rodgers off the field enough to get out of Green Bay with a win?

Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos – 1:40pm CBS: Remember when Peyton Manning left Indy for Denver? Well the guy that replaced him, Andrew Luck, comes calling. Is this a passing of the torch or does Peyton have one more Super Bowl run left in him?

 

The Sunday: Some Things You Want And Others You Don’t

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Football is all about measurements. How far apart players line up, how many steps a quarterback (QB) takes and how many touchdown passes a QB throws. Some measurements you want and others you want to avoid.

The Difference

Alabama defeated Texas A&M 59-0. Alabama tied a school record for most points scored in a quarter (35) and had one of the largest victory margins over a Top 25 opponent ever (the largest being Florida State’s 63-0 beating over Maryland last season).

The Record

Peyton Manning passed Brett Favre for the most touchdown passes thrown in NFL history. The record fell when Manning hit Demaryius Thomas in the first half of the game against the San Francisco 49ers.

The Fake

While it may not be a record it was rather impressive. The St. Louis Rams ran a fake punt back for a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks in what could be one of the more impressive fake punts in football history. There was no reverse or throwback passes just a great acting job and a lot of misdirection.