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

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 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.

He Can’t Dance But He Could Probably Code

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Peyton Manning can do a lot of things. Dancing to ‘Rocky Top’ apparently isn’t one of them. Truth be told, no one looks very good dancing to the default Tennessee fight song. However, if you think about it, Manning would probably be a really good programmer.

A good developer is a good problem solver. Like, a really good problem solver. In a nutshell, they have to take a problem, break it down into pieces, figure out the dependencies and then create a solution.

Sounds a lot like an NFL QB.

Manning does something similar. He looks at a defense, breaks it down into individual match ups, finds the best one for success and then executes the play. Except he does that in 40 seconds during the game.

As you can see there are similarities in the two roles. At the core is the ability to problem solve and being quick at doing that comes with experience and practice.

While developers have the luxury or Google and StackOverflow.com at their fingertips to find solutions, Manning only has game film to study the week of and nothing but what he sees during the game.

While no one really knows when Manning will finish his playing career or if he would ever venture into the world of code, it is an option.

At Least Keep Your Dignity

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

With the 2014 World Cup wrapping up a lot of people will look back and remember different things. Whether the goals by Robin Van Persie and Tim Cahill or the run by Costa Rica or the biting incident. Everyone will remember something. Most people though may just remember how Brazil and their fans couldn’t lose with dignity.

There apparently is crying in soccer, at least for the fans of Brazil’s national team. Images were plastered around the globe as Brazil gave up five goals in under twenty minutes to the German national team in the World Cup semifinals. People young and old were shown as if a member of their family died when in reality their team just gave up.

The kicker to this is the players afterwards crying. David Luiz gave a tearful interview apologizing to the fans. Apologies are one thing, not stepping up and going down swinging is another.

The fact is Brazil was beatable and was living on borrowed time. Germany exposed that fact. Yes Brazil was without their captain and best defender Thiago Silva and their superstar Neymar but that still doesn’t excuse the fact that no one from the team stepped up when they went down. No one fought back. No one challenged the Germans. Either they were in shock at what was happening or no one had the gaul to step up and be a leader. It was, in a word, shameful.

Teams get behind early all the time in all sports but all is not lost. Take Liverpool’s comeback in the Champions League final in 2005. Down 3-0 at halftime Steven Gerrard put the team on his back and helped lead them to a win via a shootout.

Another example is the 2006 AFC Championship game where the Indianapolis Colts were down 21-6 at the half to their kryptonite, the New England Patriots. Peyton Manning refuses to lose and leads the Colts to not only a 38-34 win but also a Super Bowl victory two weeks later.

The point is that big players step up in big games, even when they’re down. No one from Brazil did that and most of these players play for big clubs around the world. In the end it may not of mattered as Germany poured on two more goals but at least those players could have walked off the pitch with their head held high knowing that they battled to the end. Brazil’s players can take no such solace.

On another note, if you’re a fan of Brazil, don’t cry be upset! Be upset at the eleven players on the pitch who gave up. And for the adults who were shown on TV crying with over an hour left to play, cowboy up. It’s one thing of a child to be crying but you adults no better. Have some dignity.

Advice on how you should be after a huge loss:

Andy Roddick after losing in the 2007 Australian Open

Jim Mora Press Conference

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to Watch Fri. 1/17-Sun. 1/19

Friday Jan. 17th

Anaheim Ducks @ Chicago Blackhawks – 5pm NHL Network: A battle between Western Conference leaders and possibly a preview of the Western Conference final. Chicago has struggles as of late and the Ducks are coming off of a 9-1 thrashing of Vancouver and are riding an eight game winning streak. But it’s in Chicago. Game on.

Saturday Jan. 18th

San Jose Sharks @ Tampa Bay Lightning – 11am NHL GameCenter: Not a bad game to start off your Saturday.

Oklahoma St @ Kansas – 1pm CBS: Another weekend and another big game for Kansas. While the tough run continues for KU the Oklahoma State must prove that they can win on the road against a top program.

Michigan @ Wisconsin – 3pm ESPN: Wisconsin looks to rebound from their first loss of the season at Indiana. They are still a quality team but as we’ve seen with Ohio State, if you start losing in the Big Ten it’s tough to get back on the good foot.

Montreal Canadiens @ Toronto Maple Leafs – 4pm NHL Network: What better for a Saturday night then two of the most storied teams in NHL history squaring off in Toronto?

Sunday Jan. 19th

Manchester United @ Chelsea – 8:00am NBCSN: Manchester United is just not the same sine Sir Alex left but they still have quality. Problem here is that they have to go to Stamford Bridge. –Apparently Rooney and Van Persie will not play for United.

Boston Bruins @ Chicago Blackhawks – 9:30am NBC: A replay of years Stanley Cup final. Should be hard hitting and a hell of a game.

New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos – Noon CBS: Tom Brady vs Peyton Manning for a chance to go to the Super Bowl? Yes please.

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks – 3:30pm FOX: What better way to end the NFL Playoffs then with arguably two of the best, who don’t like each other, meeting in Seattle. This should be one of the better games you’ve seen all season.

Defining “Great”

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

Certain terms and phrases are thrown around in the sports hemisphere without out any structure or foundation. ‘Of all time’, ‘in history’, ‘the best’ and ‘great’ or ‘greatest’. While the term ‘great’ can be thrown out prematurely it can also be thrown out appropriately. This past weekend the term seemed to raise it’s head more than a few times.

Sunday night football and Cris Collinsworth throws out the term at towards the end of the 2nd qtr calling both Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck ‘great’. He didn’t say it specifically about each QB, but he implied it. ‘Great quarterbacks’ was the exact term. Is Luck a ‘great’ NFL QB? No doubt he’s good but ‘great’? He’s not even through his second season. Manning, most would agree that he is either ‘great’ or on the cusp of being ‘great’. Most would say that there are only a few who have been ‘great’ at the position. Those would probably include Joe Montana and John Elway among others.

Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez had a very memorable fight on Saturday night at UFC 166. Some called it the ‘greatest fight’ they’ve ever seen. Others called the entire card the ‘greatest’ in UFC history. Why?
Is it the amount of finishes that were on the card (eight) or something else. Most would point to the fact that just about every fight was exciting regardless if it was a finish or not.

Almost two years ago people called the Shogun Rua vs Dan Henderson fight the ‘greatest’. A week before that was Benson Henderson vs Clay Guida.

There many ‘great’ fights just like there are many ‘great’ quarterbacks. But what makes someone or something ‘great’? Is it how many trophies they win? How many Super Bowls? How many punches they delivered vs how many they took? How long their winning streak was?

It is a combination of things boiled down to one simple point, standard. ‘Great’ can be associated to someone if they redefine they way we look at the sport, position or profession. They set the standard to which others will compare and judge.

Peyton Manning is a good example. He has the trophies to prove his worth but also set the standard at which others will be judged in how he prepares and operates on the field of play.

The Melendez vs Sanchez fight is ‘great’ because we will become the standard which other fights will be measured. The Chicago Bulls team of the 1995-1996 season and the 1989 San Francisco 49ers teams are a standard on their respective sports arenas.

‘Great’ is a term we should use. Just do not use it lightly.