Story of the Week: Forget about players taking a knee. This past week the NFL sent letters to players throughout the league warning them they will begin being penalized for lowering their head to make contact with an opponent. Many of the letters came with a fine by the league and it is believed the guilty were primarily running backs.
Defenders have complained for a while over officials calling penalties on them while ignoring ball carriers doing the same. What’s good for the goose may be good for the gander, but this is just going to slow the game down more and result in more, not less injuries.
Running backs will now have to decide whether or not lowering their head to take on a tackler is a good idea which leads to more thinking and less reacting, or in the case of a ball carrier, doing what comes natural for them.
It’s true, lowering the head and leading with it is not a good thing for the brain over the course of a player’s life. Concussions lead to brain trauma which in turn lead to CTE. However, runners who take on defenders in an upright position are also more likely to take a hit under their chin, which will also lead to concussions and increase their odds of an injury like a broken jaw.
The NFL does not need another judgment call for officials to make in a game that is played at warp speed. Just think of the mess that has been created with the new rules on sacking quarterbacks.
By now, anyone who plays football for a living knows the inherent risks that come from the game. No one makes these players choose this game for a living. The cat is out of the bag as far as information on the risks that go along with the financial rewards of an NFL career.
The NFL does owe it to players of past generations for withholding information from them regarding head trauma and they are finally working to pay the cost of lawsuits from former players. However, today’s players are not owed a safer game because let’s face it, the game is not safe. We all know it so why try to fool the fans you are making it safer when in reality, the league is just making it more confusing, slower, and less enjoyable?
Every player contract as well as the collective bargaining agreement needs to come with a waiver in which players acknowledge their awareness of the risks of the game. Money from every player contract should be pulled out and placed in a pool to help defray the cost of health care following a player’s career. Finally, get rid of these “safer” rules and let the game of football return to what it is, the most challenging and violent game on the planet, one that should captivate the viewer and not frustrate all who are involved in it on some level.
Now, onto the games.
Pats and Chiefs Exceed Expectations: There is no doubt, the game of the week heading into week six featured the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs traveling to New England to play the Patriots. While the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Pats earlier in the season, it was before New England had their full complement of receivers for use. For the Chiefs, a win against the Patriots will erase any doubts about their legitimacy as the top team in the AFC.
In the end, the game resembled more of a great heavy weight championship fight, one where the combatants stood toe to toe and duked it out from the opening bell to the final bell. Both took the best the other had to throw at them and never backed down. Rather than caving when momentum was working against one, we saw one gut check after another as both the Patriots and Chiefs refused to back down.
By game’s end, fans saw just one punt in 23 possessions and 83 total points. This time, New England walked away with a 43 to 40 victory, but you get the sense the Chiefs can’t wait for the rematch in January and will feel cheated if it does not happen.
As for New England, they control their own destiny for now, but do not be surprised if there is a drop off in energy this week when they travel to Chicago. They’ll need it because the Bears defense will be spoiling to get back on track after what they did this past week.
Giants Need to Move On: It’s difficult to move on from a quarterback who has led your team to two Super Bowl titles. However, it is time for the Giants to do just that. In fact, if at all possible, they should try and trade Eli Manning to a team who can still turn to him late in the season in case their starter goes down before the playoffs.
Manning is not the quarterback of the Giants future. Complicating matters, as long as he is unable to consistently find a way to get the ball into the hands of Odell Beckham Jr., there will always be a sense of frustration in New York.
Besides trading Manning before the league’s deadline, now is a perfect time for the Giants to reach out to Colin Kaepernick. Allowing Kaepernick a chance to play the final half of the season is a win-win. The Giants might find he is a useful bridge while they seek a quarterback for the future and it also gives Kaepernick a chance to prove one last time he can be a quality starting quarterback for any team in need of an experienced veteran.
What do the Giants have to lose, other than more games?
In Case You Missed It: The Giants were right to draft Shaquan Barkley in the first round and pass on a quarterback. Thursday night, he lit up the Eagles for 130 yards on just 13 carries and another 99 yards on 9 receptions. I am not a math expert, but if ten yards gets you a first down and you have a guy who averages ten yards a touch, you might want to get him the ball as much as possible.
Meanwhile, his teammate, and general pain in the ass, Odell Beckham Jr. managed a whopping 44 yards on 6 catches. Maybe Barkley is the guy who deserves starting quarterback money and Beckham Jr. a reality check.
Living and Dying by Dysfunction: I guess if you are a player who doesn’t care about winning but loves the limelight, Dallas is a great team to play for. However, their constant ups and downs are a great reflection of their owner’s constant meddling. Sometimes, like this past week against Jacksonville, it works.
Other times, like about half of their games, it results in losses that leave their fans scratching their heads and their haters laughing. It’s anyone’s guess what the rest of the season holds for Dallas, but my guess is another eight-win season and another Jerry Jones botched fix it job in the off season.
Quick Thoughts: Pittsburgh got a huge win this week against Cincinnati and seem to be trending in the right direction. Maybe they don’t need Le’Veon Bell back.
Miami also got a huge win and helped to right the wrongs of the previous two weeks and they did it with back up Brock Osweiller filling in at quarterback and Frank Gore, who I think is about 87 years old, rushing for over 100 yards.
Anyone needing a player? Just call Oakland. They’re all available.
Falcons finally win a close one.
Don’t overlook the Chargers. They may not win their division, but the playoffs look quite possible at this point of the season.
The Rams. This team can win in so many ways. One week, it’s the offense. Another week the defense does the job. Then it’s special teams. And when they all show up, no one wants them.
Hmmm: Why is Nathan Peterman playing in the NFL?
Song Dedication: I am not sure if I had young kids today I would let them play tackle football. However, if they did and they made it to the NFL, I would hate to see them play for Jerry Jones.
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UPDATE: After Monday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, the Green Bay Packers faithful — which includes just about the entire state of Wisconsin — has started calling Aaron Rodgers St. Aaron
Niners back up QB C.J. Beathard, a guy with a great football pedigree, had the game of his season against the Packers. He threw for 245 yards, with a 60% completion rate. He notched two TD passes against just one interception.
His main running back, Raheem Mostert, had 87 rushing yards on 12 attempts; that results in an average of 7.3 yards per run. That’s pretty close to a first down per run.
But, they were playing the Green Bay Packers and possibly the best QB in the league: Aaron Rodgers. The San Francisco defense managed to sack Rodgers three times, which might feel good, briefly, when the defense watches the film, but when it counted, in the last two minutes of the game, Aaron Rodgers took his team down the field and put place kicker Mason Crosby in position to kick the game-winning field goal — leaving no time left on the clock.
How many times has Aaron Rodgers done that in his career? Ask any opposing defensive coordinator or head coach their greatest fear when facing the Packers: With two minutes left in the game and Rodgers has the ball with a chance to win the game.
Top photo is a YouTube screenshot of the Kansas City Chiefs getting ready for Patrick Mahomes to throw a interception
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.