Tag Archives: NFL

Should The NFL Washington Team Change Their Name?

I know this has been discussed to the nth degree…but I feel that I need to add yet another perspective.

While I am aware that there are other teams in professional sports that refer to Native American heritage, none of them are as disparaging as derogatory as “Redskin.”

For example, in baseball, the teams that refer to Native American heritage are:

Atlanta Braves – While the “Tomahawk chop” is fairly offensive, calling someone a brave isn’t.   The term brave, as used in Indian nomenclature, is an American Indian warrior.  However, the Braves did have their own issues in regards to disparaging Native Americans.  Chief Noc-A-Homa (a play on words of Knock A Homer) was the mascot of the Braves (both in Milwaukee and Atlanta) from the 1950’s until 1986.  While a mascot for the team, he lived in a teepee and came out when the Braves hit a home run.  They also had another mascot name Princess “Win-A-Lotta.”  In 1986, the Braves changed mascots to “Homer” and “Rally.”  The change was an economic one as Levi Walker, Jr., the best known Chief, complained that the Braves didn’t consider him a full-time employee so they didn’t provide any benefits.  The Braves paid him $5,000 and went in a different direction.

Cleveland Indians – Nothing offensive here until you look at the Indians logo, “Chief Wahoo.”  Thankfully, the Indians have announced that the logo will no longer be part of the Cleveland MLB team starting in 2019.  The grinning red-faced Indian is just as offensive as the term “redskin.”  There is little mention of the Indians being offensive to Native Americans…and now Chief Wahoo is on the way out, I’m fairly certain the Indians will be under the radar.

In the NHL:

Chicago Blackhawks – The Blackhawks have long been a target of controversy.  Not based on racial issues but rather concerns of Native Americans being viewed as mascots.  The team, founded in 1926, was actually named in honor of the U.S. 86th Infantry division, nicknamed the “Blackhawk Division,” after “Black Hawk,” an Native American chief.  The controversy hasn’t generated much on a national level since it doesn’t have the allure of an NFL team.

The NBA does not have a team that references any Native American heritage.

The Washington Redskins are perhaps THE most offensive name to all Native Americans.  The term “redskin” is a slang term referring to Native Americans in the United States and Canada.  The use of skin color as a racial identifier to Indians can be traced back to the 17th century.

The use of the word redskin, outside of reference to the Washington Redskins, has pretty much disappeared from common use.   But the use of the term by Washington and many high school and college teams have been a point of controversy.  As such, many high school and collage teams have changed their name to avoid controversy.

Daniel Snyder has opposed any name change to his team.  Back in 2013, in a letter to fans, Snyder stated that while he respects those who are offended by the term, he pointed out that the 81-year team history cannot be ignored.

There have been various polls of Native Americans, some that are vehement in their opinions to have the name changed, and some that show that the name of the team does not offend them.

In 2017, the Supreme Court struck down parts of a law that bans trademarks on offensive remarks that pretty much protected the team from any legal challenges.  In that same year, the Washington Post conducted a thorough survey of Native Americans if the team name was offensive.  Overwhelmingly, the survey showed that Native Americans were not offended by the team name.

As with any issue, there are many sides…and as we all know, we can’t please everyone.  I have read nothing about people of Norwegian descent in an uproar about the Minnesota Vikings nor have I heard of any marches by folks of Irish descent to the Boston Garden over the use of a leprechaun that the Boston Celtics use.

So back to the question:  Should the Washington Redskins change their name?  While it may be offensive to some (including me), surveys done by the National Annenberg Election Survey in 2004 and then again by the Washington Post in 2016 show that Native Americans were “not bothered” by the name.

It is my opinion (for whatever it’s worth) that there are many more important issues to resolve than the team name of an NFL football team.  Let the team have their name…Native Americans aren’t nearly as troubled about it as thought.  I don’t like the name and was never a fan since the Redskins consistently have stood in the way of my Detroit Lions getting a Super Bowl.  Three times (1982, 1991 & 1999) they have thwarted them from advancing in the playoffs.

Forget this issue and lets concentrate on more important things like perhaps treating each other better?  Eliminate bigotry and accept each other for what each of us are: people.

Let’s vote in politicians who actually want to make our lives better and invoke what their constituents want rather than what special interest groups with deep pockets want.

My name is Jim Dunn (aka The Beer Thinker) and I approve this message.

 

 

Detroit Lions – There Is Hope For A Super Bowl

Roaring Lion

History was made when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series last week, ending 108 year drought.  No longer can we call the Cubbies the loveable losers.  After an epic game 7, they have earned the title “World Champions.”  Congratulations Cub fans!

Witnessing this event, something that has now only happened once since I was born, gives me hope that another event may occur before my time ends on this earth:  The Detroit Lions are crowned as Super Bowl champions.

All  die-hard Lions fans (and I count myself proudly as one of them) know of all the epic failures we have had to endure…from Marty Mornhinweg taking the wind in 2002 against the Chicago Bears to the eight year travesty of Matt Millen running the Detroit Lions into the ground.

But let us not focus on the negative but instead, look toward the future and the hopes the Lions can get a Super Bowl victory that the City of Detroit so richly deserves.

With a bonafide GM in Bob Quinn, that I feel we can state is one of the best the Detroit Lions have ever had since the 1950’s, we can see events in motion that just might have the Lions pointing in that direction.

Now I know that this is Quinn’s first full year as GM.  I believe the reason he didn’t make any changes to the coaching staff is because he wanted to see what he had and to perhaps keep any additional turmoil that could have occurred.

I feel strongly that Jim Caldwell isn’t going to be the coach that takes the Lions to the Super Bowl.  I’m not sure that Matthew Stafford is going to be the quarterback either.  It’s his eighth year in the league and he has some good things for the Lions.  But if we are looking at a 3-5 year plan, will Stafford have enough to lead the Lions?

We have to give Bob Quinn the same leeway Chicago Cubs fans gave Theo Epstein and be patient.  Changes are going to happen within the coaching ranks of the Lions and if not this year, next year Caldwell will be gone.

I don’t have a crystal ball to predict the future especially when we are talking about the Lions.  What I can predict is that changes will come.  We aren’t going to like a lot of them but us Lions fans have to understand that what we’ve been doing for the past 58 years hasn’t been working.

Yes, you’ve read that correctly:  The Lions haven’t won a championship in 58 years, soon to be 59 as I don’t see them getting there this year either.

Lions are relatively young on the offensive side of the ball…decent running backs with Theo Riddick and Zack Zenner.  And the defense is serviceable.

I think Quinn needs to keep Stafford for at least two more years and draft a QB and RB in 2017

If Luke Falk out of Washington State decides to enter the draft this year, I’d like to see the Lions snap him up and let him soak up watching Stafford and what he does.  They could get him in the 3rd or 4th round.  But if he does play his senior year, he’ll go higher in the draft, a low first round or high second round.

As for the running game, we could take Alvin Kamara from Tennessee.  He is a lot like Jamal Charles in that he is a fast slasher and can run with power.

So we could sew up the future with these two guys and then Quinn can draft smartly to beef up both the O-Line and D-Line as well as shoring up the secondary over the next two years.

Lions are in a good position to make a big push to make the playoffs next year, go even deeper 2018 and perhaps in 2019, get to the big dance.

Hey, a guy can dream can’t he?

Go Lions!

Seattle Seahawks – Stubborn and Predictable

why

The Seattle Seahawks, picked by many this year to return to the Super Bowl, are in danger of falling short of those expectations.

One issue that can be stated very clearly is that the defense is still one of the best in the NFL and if not for them, this Seahawk team wouldn’t be much to talk about.

There are three areas on offense that I believe are the issues that are preventing the Seahawks to be great instead of just barley good.

  • Offensive Line

By now, everyone must realize just how special of a running back that Marshawn Lynch really was.  His running style hid many deficiencies the offensive line had in the past.  Because of his retirement, it shows just how bad of a decision it is that John Schneider and  Pete Carroll have made to not properly invest in the one area that is critical for all plays to succeed:  The offensive line.

The starting offensive line accounts for a mere 7% of the Seahawks salary cap.  At $10.2 million, it is the lowest in the league.  My question is that why would you go on the cheap in the one spot where any offensive play has any chance of succeeding?

The Seahawks have not, in the past three to five years, made the offensive line a priority.  It is confusing as to why Pete Carroll, whose philosophy is to run the ball, eat up the clock and play great defense.  It worked just fine when Marshawn Lynch was the running back as he gave you the luxury of having an inadequate line with his running style.

Also, because of Lynch, the passing game was successful because defenses would stack the line but would freeze on play-action passing plays which led to some big plays downfield.

Tom Cable, the offensive line coach of the Hawks, stated back I August that he feels this is one of his favorite lines he’s coached.  That they have some good players that have a chance to develop and be good NFL linemen.

That’s just great…meantime, after 7 games, the offense is averaging an anemic 81.4 yards per game, 28th in the NFL, and have had only 2 rushes longer than 20 yards.

They are better in the passing game, ranked 14th in the NFL at 258.4 yards per game but that’s only because they can’t run the ball.

And they cannot get the ball into the end zone where they are 29th in the NFL at 18.7 points per game.

  • Jimmy Graham

We gave up a very good center in Max Unger to get Jimmy Graham and yet the Seahawks have not found a way to use him.  In his 5 years with the New Orleans Saints, Graham averaged 77.2 receptions per year, 950.4 yards per year, 12.2 yards per catch and 10.2 touchdowns per season while playing an average of 15.6 games each year.

In comparison to his 1-1/2 years in Seattle, he has averaged 39 catches per year, 532 yards per year, 13.7 yards per catch and a measly 1.5 touchdowns per year.  It is inconceivable to me that the Seahawks, who brought Graham in to be more of a red zone threat, don’t throw to him more often.

A friend of mine wants some reporter to ask Pete Carroll in one of the press conferences he uses is why can’t you use Jimmy Graham correctly?  If Pete can’t answer the question, then we should trade Graham to get either multiple picks to use on the offensive line or for a good left tackle.

Which brings into light Russell Wilson.  While Wilson has made some great plays, he doesn’t appear to have the ability to throw receivers open and does not have the confidence in his arm to throw into traffic.  Drew Brees utilized Graham’s 6-7, 265 lbs. body perfectly, throwing to areas that only Graham could get to using his basketball skills.

Case in point, during the last game against the Saints and the last drive of the game, Graham was thrown a pass from Wilson that was at his waist.  Graham made the catch but had to slow down to adjust for it and was tackled when he could have made it into the end zone.  Brees would have thrown that pass above Graham’s head and in stride to allow Graham to walk into the end zone.

My suggestion on how to get Graham more involved?  That leads to the third area:

  • The Play Calling of Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell

When Marshawn Lynch was here, Bevell’s job was much easier as was Tom Cable’s.

But Lynch is gone and now the limitations of Bevell’s play calling is evident.  His refusal (or is it Pete Carroll’s refusal?) to take shots downfield and rely on an anemic running game is becoming laughable.

My suggestion to Bevell and to Pete Carroll is to move Jimmy Graham out to wide receiver and with Luke Willson injured, start either Nick Vannett or Brandon Williams at TE.  This will give the Seahawks a big bodied receiver on the outside who can run a 4.5 forty up against smaller cornerbacks and safeties.

It also helps improve the offensive line with a better blocking tight end, more chances for Doug Baldwin in the slot and you can either place Jerome Kearse, another big receiver or Tyler Lockett as a burner down the field.

This would also help the running game as linebackers would need to drop back into more coverage and not allow defenses to stack the line to stop the run.  And both Williams and Vannett can be used on TE screens just to make it that much more difficult for defenses to know what the Hawks are going to do.

I think that Bevell can be the right play caller for the Hawks.  But he needs to convince Carroll, if they are going to continue down this path of spending the least amount of money on the offensive line, then they need to give that line all the help they can.

The Seahawks need to do something.  Relying on the defense to keep them in and hope the offense to pull some miracle each game is no way to run a football team.

Seahawks – Critical Games for 2016 Season

Cool Seahawk Logo

With the NFL pre-season underway, I thought I would take a peek at the regular season schedule and check for 6 critical games for the Seahawks.

Week 2 – at LA Rams

No matter what record the Rams have, they always seem to give the Seahawks fits.  This will be the home opener for the Rams at the Memorial Coliseum.  Rams last played in LA in 1994 so you know they are going to be hyped up.  Jeff Fisher always has a trick or two up his sleeve so Hawks need to be prepared for that.  I think a heavy does of Christian Michael and Thomas Rawls will be on the menu as well as some play-action fakes to keep the Ram defense honest.  As always, the game will be close and a win here is critical for both teams.

Week 3 – San Francisco 49’rs

I do believe the rivalry will be re-ignited with the presence of Chip Kelly, the new head coach for San Francisco.  And I really hope the Seahawks just pound the living snot out of the 49’rs to wipe that condescending and  smarmy expression off Kelly’s face.  San Fran isn’t much of a threat to the Hawks but they still need to remain wary.  Pretty sure (about 90% sure) this will be a win for the home team.

Week 7 – at Arizona Cardinals

A lot of mutual respect between the Hawks and the Cards.  Good, hard-nosed football between 2 innovative coaches who put faith in the players to perform rather than a system.  Toss up as to who will win but it won’t be by more than a field goal.  Depending on the standings, this could decide the NFC West despite having eight games left in the season.

Week 10 – at New England

Seahawks need to control their emotions because if they use revenge as a motive to try and beat New England, that’s just what Bill Belichick wants them to do.  Master of mind games, he will use that motivation to force the Hawks into mistakes.  Hawks defensive line needs to pressure Brady as much as they can and the secondary must have an exceptional game covering those pesky receivers that Brady throws too underneath.  They need to make Brady throw before he wants to.  They may get one or two sacks but if they can pressure him, they can force him to make bad throws.  I, as much as any Seahawk fan, would love if the Hawks can steal a victory here but they have to play smart and not get caught up in getting revenge for them stealing a Super Bowl from us.

Week 13 – Carolina Panthers

You don’t think the Seahawks watched Super Bowl 50 and took notice what the Broncos did to make Newton pout like a baby?  Look for Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril to pressure and contain Newton as well as Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel to come up the gut and get in his face.  I also see Frank Clark being a difference maker as he has the speed and strength to deal with Newton if he tries to take off and run.  It will come down to defense vs. defense and a last second field goal.

Week 17 – at San Francisco

One can only hope the Seahawks have secured their playoff spot by the time they get to San Francisco because you know darn well that Chip Kelly will want to end the season with a win over a division rival.  Regardless of where the Hawks are at by the end of the season, a sweep over the 49’rs is always sweet (it was sweetest when Harbaugh was there, right?) and would put a nice finish to the regular season.

Looking forward to hearing a lot of fireworks going off after every game.  The 12’s are some of the greatest fans in the NFL.

Go Hawks!

Beer Thinker NFL Predictions – Who Is Going to Finish Where

I have been writing a lot about politics and civil issues and the more I write about it, the more angry I get.  So I decided to get back to why I really created this site for…to write about sports.  And what better subject than predicting how each team in their respective division will finish.

AFC East:

  1. New England Patriots
  2. Buffalo Bills
  3. New York Jets
  4. Miami Dolphins

So now that Tom Brady has decided not to further challenge is part in “Deflategate,” he will accept the 4-game suspension.  How will this affect the Patriots?  Not too much.  Jimmy Garoppolo will take the snaps for these first four games.  Patriots start the season on the road against the Arizona Cardinals then the next three at home against the Dolphins, Texans and Bills.  Worst case scenario, I see the Pats going 2-2 but being undefeated in their own division with wins over the Dolphins and Bills.  Realistically, they go 3-1 with the sole loss at Arizona.

AFC North

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Cincinnati Bengals
  3. Baltimore Ravens
  4. Cleveland Browns

The Bengals took the AFC North last year with a 12-4 record.  They actually beat the Steelers 16-10 in Pittsburgh in November but faltered at home in December losing at home 33-20 and folding again against the Steelers in the Wild Card game 18-16.  Granted the Bengals didn’t have Andy Dalton but I am not sure that would have helped.  Until the Bengals can prove they can perform under pressure, the Steelers are going to be the big kid in the sandbox.

AFC West

  1. Kansas City Chiefs
  2. Oakland Raiders
  3. San Diego Chargers
  4. Denver Broncos

Despite the fact Kansas City finished last year at 11-5, they went 1-1 in the playoffs, routing the Texans 30-0 but losing the Divisional game against the Patriots, 27-20.  Andy Reid has a great regular season record going 161-110 over the past 17 years.  However, he has gone 11-11 in that same time frame but never being able to win the big games.  2016 could see the Chiefs in the Super Bowl but can Reid show he can win it?  Denver will finish no better than.500…and yes, I may have picked them last just because I have an intense dislike for them.  Still, too many questions on offense and I see a 7-9 season despite that great defense.

AFC South

  1. Houston Texans
  2. Indianapolis Colts
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars
  4. Tennessee Titans

Texans are favored this year with the signing of QB Brock Osweiler to win the division though it is doubtful the Texans will get past the Divisional playoffs.  Colts will have a healthy Andrew Luck back in the mix but if the offensive line play doesn’t improve, it could be hard going.  Jacksonville will surprise a lot of teams and might sneak in the playoffs.  Long shot will be the Titans but with the addition of DeMarco Murray will make them competitive.

NFC East

  1. New York Giants
  2. Dallas Cowboys
  3. Washington Redskins
  4. Philadelphia Eagles

The NFC East is competitive again.  The Redskins won the East last year with a 9-7 record but I don’t think that will cut it this year.  The Giants will be with a rookie head coach in Ben McAdoo and have the inside track after spending big on free agents.  General Manager used more than $10 million to bolster the defense on Janoris Jenkins, Damon Harrison and Oliver Vernon.  Despite going 4-12 last year, the Cowboys are right behind the Giants to win the East.  Tony Romo and Dez Bryant are coming back healthy and adding running back Alfred Morris gives them a shot.  And while the Redskins did win the division last year, the other rival teams did better in the offseason.  Sam Bradford is back with the Eagles but defense still has major holes.

NFC North

  1. Green Bay Panthers
  2. Detroit Lions
  3. Minnesota Vikings
  4. Chicago Bears

I really hope the Lions prove me wrong and run away with the North.  They have lost Calvin Johnson but Golden Tate is poised to step in as the number one receiver and the addition of Marvin Jones, still have a credible deep threat.  If Matthew Stafford can come close to how he played in the 2nd half of last year, the Lions are a legitimate threat.  Theo Riddick will play a huge part in that success.  Packers are always going to be in contention as long as Aaron Rogers stays healthy.  The Vikings are a team on the rise as Teddy Bridgewater continues to mature as an NFL quarterback.  Adrian Peterson will still need to carry the team.  I picked the Bears last because, well, they are the Bears.

AFC West

  1. Seattle Seahawks
  2. Arizona Cardinals
  3. Los Angles Rams
  4. San Francisco 49ers

The Seahawks may have lost Marshawn Lynch to retirement but they do have three running backs that will be very, very hard to stop.  Thomas Rawls will take the place of Lynch as the bruiser to wear down defenses and is a threat to break off long gains.   Alex Collins will be used to push Rawls and will get a lot of carries.  C.J. Prosise is a former wide receiver and will be a huge 3rd down threat out of the back field and can flat out fly.  As for receivers, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Locket will drive defenses nuts.  On the defensive side, strong as ever despite the loss of Bruce Irvin.  Cardinals are pretty much the same team as they were last year.  But defenses are going to do whatever they can to get to Carson Palmer because as goes Palmer goes the Cardinals.  Rookie QB Todd Gurley will make rookie mistakes but for the most part, if he can be protected and the defense stays strong, the Rams could contend.  49ers have a lot of work to do to become contenders again and Chip Kelly will need at least a couple of years to bring them up.

NFC South

  1. Carolina Panthers
  2. Atlanta Falcons
  3. New Orleans Saints
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Panthers have mostly kept their roster intact from their 15-1 2015 season and should be in good shape to take their 2nd straight division title.  I am not a fan of Cam Newton but I cannot deny that he has done some good things with the Panthers.  Defense is still strong and will keep them in games.  The Falcons made some good moves in free agency, the best pick-up being WR Mohamed Sanu to take pressure off Julius Jones.    Running back Doug Martin stayed with the Bucs and the Saints picked up Nick Fairley and Coby Fleener.  But the Saints are getting old and Drew Brees and the Saints will more than likely not make the playoffs.

 

 

 

 

Calvin Johnson: First Ballot Hall of Famer? Damn Right He Is!

Calvin Johnson

On March 8, 2016, Calvin Johnson released a statement announcing his retirement from the Detroit Lions and the National Football League.

And in typical fashion for Calvin, it was done with dignity and a whole lot of class. Just about everyone that talks about Mr. Johnson would say he is one of the classiest people in and out of the NFL. I never personally met the man but the way he conducted himself on the field and in the numerous interviews I’ve seen on him, he is on my Top Ten List of people I would love to have a conversation with.

No doubt the critics of Johnson will say that he left too much in the tank and is being selfish for leaving the game early. Far be it from me to speak for Calvin, but in my humble opinion, those naysayers have no idea what they are talking about.

In the nine years Calvin played in the NFL, he caught for less than 1,000 yards in only 2 of those years. In 2007, his rookie year, Johnson caught 48 passes for 756 yards and in 2009, he caught 67 passes for 984 yards.

From 2010 to 2015, he averaged a little under 90 receptions per year and 1,424 yards per year. This includes the NFL record year in which he caught 122 passes for 1,964 yards, breaking Jerry Rice’s record of 1,848 yards set in 1995.

Calvin also had a game against the Dallas Cowboys where he torched them for 329 yards on 14 catches and 1 touchdown in which the Lions won, 31-30. This is the second most yards in a game behind Flipper Anderson’s 336, but Flipper needed OT to get all his yards.

Some other NFL records Calvin holds in addition to the most receiving yards in a season:

  • First player with at least 2 touchdowns in each of his team’s first four games in a season
  • 2 seasons with at least 1,600 yards (tied with Tory Holt and Marvin Harrison)
  • Most consecutive games with at least 100 yards receiving with eight
  • Most consecutive games with at least 10 receptions with four
  • Most 100 yard games in a single season with 11 (tied with Michael Irvin)
  • Most receiving yards in a five game span (861 yards)
  • Most receiving yards in a six game span (962)
  • Fastest to reach 10,000 yards receiving (115 games)

Detroit Lions Franchise Records:

  • Most receiving touchdowns in a season (16 in 20111)
  • Most seasons with 10 or more receiving touchdowns (4)
  • Most career 70+ receptions per year (8)
  • Most games with multiple touchdowns in one half (12)

It’s hard to argue his greatness. Calvin, at 6-5” and 239 lbs., caught just about everything that came his way. But his body took a ton of abuse with corners and safeties pulling and pushing on him, trying to do as much as they could get away with to prevent him from catching the ball.

And not once did Johnson ever call his opponents out or complain to the referees about what was being done to him…it was part of the game and he accepted it with class and dignity.

Even in the opening game of 2011 against division rival Chicago Bears, when he rose up above Zack Bowman to catch a Scott Hill pass with 24 seconds left on the clock. When the call was overturned, you saw Calvin shake his head in disbelief but not once did he berate officials or throw a fit as we have seen some other players do.

In fact, Johnson took it upon himself to say  “That was me; I have to know the rules about completing the catch.” Though until this day, there is no one that can explain to just what is a proper catch.

He refused to let that moment define him. Instead, he forged on to continue to be one of the best that has played the position.

Let’s discuss his Hall of Fame possibilities. I may be a tad biased since he was a member of the Detroit Lions but I truly believe that Calvin has done enough to be a first ballot Hall of Famer. I can already hear the arguments that he shouldn’t…in fact, one fellow blogger from the Sportsblog pretty much indicates Calvin is not only a first ballot Hall of Famer, he shouldn’t even be considered for election to the Hall.

On February 17th, Anthony Eyeballs wrote “Calvin Johnson Is Not a Hall of Famer!” citing such various reasons that I will put arguments against.

  1. Calvin did not play long enough. I agree with most that Calvin did indeed cut short his career. But in this day and age of hoping for a good life after participating in a brutal sort, I applaud Calvin’s decision to leave the game while he still had a lot left in the tank. We can put forth the “love of the game” mantra, and for the most part, Calvin did show he loved the game. But football is a cruel mistress to the body. It takes a lot and outside of making a whole lot of money, it leaves that body in terrible shape if one stays in the game too long. Calvin wants to start a family and I’m sure he hopes to be able to pick-up his baby boy or girl without having shooting pains. Calvin loves the game but his priorities have shifted and now family comes first.
  2. His teams were never too great and never won a Super Bowl. This perhaps is the most erroneous reason for any player who had great careers but have this is an issue. Calvin Johnson was drafted and paid a lot of money to do two things: Catch passes and score touchdowns, which he did at an amazing pace. He was not responsible for drafts, free agency signings, play calling or which quarterback would throw to him. And he was not responsible for front office decisions…are you seriously going to put Matt Millen on his shoulders as a determent to getting into the Hall?

Jamie Samuelsen, co-host of “Jamie and Wojo” show, wrote an article in the Detroit Free Press “Jamie: Calvin Johnson is a Hall of Famer, but not right away.” He states that in pure numbers, Johnson falls short. Again, I don’t think people are taking into account what Calvin feels is the best for him and his family. Samuelsen says “If Johnson had played a few more years, he would have been ranked alongside some of the greatest names in the history of the sport, such as Jerry Rice and Randy Moss. Instead, he finds himself listed alongside receivers such as Santana Moss, Irving Fryar and Muhsin Muhammad in receptions, yards and touchdowns.”

I hate to break the news to you Jamie, but Calvin has always been compared to Jerry Rice and Randy Moss. Back in 2013, Jerry Rice stated “This guy is gifted but he also has the work ethic. A lot of guys are gifted but they don’t want to sacrifice and put the time in and he’s willing to do that. At the same time it doesn’t go to his head. That’s why I’m saying he’s only going to get better with that kind of attitude.”

This was after Calvin broke Jerry’s single-season receiving record with 1,964 yards. He also caught 122 passes, 5 of them for touchdowns in an otherwise dismal 4-10 Detroit Lions season.

These 3 wide-receivers, Calvin Johnson, Jerry Rice and Randy Moss all have one thing in common: Defensive coordinators had to tailor their defenses to stop them. And for the most part, they didn’t do a very good job. While in Calvin’s case, poor defenses caused the Lions to win less than teams Rice and Moss played on, I would say that Calvin gave defensive coordinators the most nightmares based on his physical gifts. I mean, just how do you match-up with a 6-5, 239 lb. freak of nature who could run a 40 yard dash in 4.35 seconds?

Along with that size were Johnson’s incredible hand strength and most importantly, how he could control his body in the air while making some of the best breath-taking catches that were ever witnessed.

Did Calvin retire too soon? From a fan’s perspective, yes. Who wouldn’t want to see a player of this caliber continue to play? But from his perspective, one I can only conjecture, he left the game on his terms and perhaps he could give a rip if he makes it into the Hall.

We shouldn’t judge Calvin on why he chose to leave the game. We should respect his reasoning and thank him for all of the great moments he gave us in his short time.

We should also embrace the fact that not once in his career was he ever accused of taking performance enhancing drugs, ever called a selfish player and never ever involved in any stupid off the field antics. He is a very dignified and classy player and person of unquestionable integrity, something that everyone should aspire to be.

In my mind, Calvin Johnson is already a Hall of Famer…for being a good person.

Thank you Calvin for giving us some great memories!

Seahawks Season Ends With Loss to Panthers 31-24

We didn’t lose the game, we just ran out of time….Vince Lombardi.

I use the quote by the great Vince Lombardi because it is the perfect metaphor for the game they played against the Carolina Panthers…they just ran out of time.

This game was an example of how the season went.  Giving up 31 points in the first half seemed like a very deep hole to dig out of but the resiliency of this team showed they just don’t give up.

But there is a reason why the Carolina Panthers are a 15-1 team.  They took care of business early on with Washington native Jonathon Stewart ripping off a 75 yard run on the first play of the game to set up the first Carolina touchdown.

The defense came up big on the very next series when Luke Kuechly picked off an ill-advised Russell Wilson pass and ran it in for a pick six to go up 14-0 barley four minutes played.

And the Panthers continued to pour it on, scoring 17 more points in the second quarter.

But the Seahawks regrouped in the second half.  The defense came up huge by shutting out the Panthers in the second half and allowing the offense to crawl it’s way out of the deep hole they dug for themselves.

Some great individual efforts and the one effort I want to point out is the one by Jermaine Kearse.  His play in the second half was stellar, catching two clutch touchdowns and making great catch after great catch to finish with 11 catches for 110 yards to go along with the 2 scores.

Another is rookie Tyler Lockett.  His TD catch was clutch and his receiving technique on a crucial third down situation was nothing short of amazing.  Seahawks have found a treasure in this kid.  He had only 3 catches for 75 yards but his 50 yard return to open the second half was a spark the Hawks desperately needed.

Marshawn Lynch was a non-factor in this game and I don’t feel he will be back in a Seahawk uniform next season.  I admire his running style and they way he fights for every yard he can get.  But he is at point in his career where he is starting to break down.

About the only way he comes back to the Hawks is a re-structured contract and a reduced role with the offense.  It appears to me that Thomas Rawls has the inside track to be the featured running back.

While I admire Pete Carroll’s mantra to run first, I also have to admire his adaptability to open up the passing game and put the team on the shoulders of Russell Wilson who showed the rest of the NFL that he is capable of carrying the team when needed.

Wilson showed remarkable leadership skills this game as well as the second-half of the season.  His decision making became sublime in his historic second half run.  At one point, over a 5-game stretch, he had 19 touchdowns with zero interceptions, something that no quarterback in the history of the game ever accomplished.  And there have been some great quarterbacks over the past 96 years the NFL has been in existence.

As always at the end of a season, there will be some hard choices to make.  With the Seahawks it will be with the following players:

Marshawn Lynch – No one can dispute when the Seahawks made the trade for the mercurial running back in 2010 that it was going to be Lynch to be the face of the Seahawks.  Lynch came through time after time, putting the Hawks on the playoff map with his seismic Beast Quake run against the New Orleans Saints later that same year.  But next year will be Lynch’s 10th year in the NFL and will be 30 years old.  Just coming off his first ever surgery and is one of the highest paid players in the NFL.  It may come down to a business decision to release Lynch to free up salary cap for younger players.  If Lynch decides to retire, Seattle should throw him the biggest freaking party it can…but it would be a coin toss if he showed up for it.

Russell Okung – Okung is considered one of the top left tackles in the game.  Issue I have with him is that we’ve never gotten a full season from him.  He was the Hawks first pick in the 2010 draft and landed a six year contract worth $48 million dollars with more than $29 million of it guaranteed.  Now that he’s up for free agency, he is going to command an even higher salary.  My opinion, while Okung is a good left tackle and I would hate to disrupt that line, Hawks need to part ways with Okung and find another left tackle in the draft, perhaps Jack Conklin out of Michigan State or Jerald Hawkins of LSU.  Okung is going to be way to expensive for the Hawks to keep.

J.R. Sweezy – This is a guy I think we need to keep.  He brings solidity to the right guard spot and is an good run blocker.  He is at the end of a 4-year, $2.1 million dollar contract.  If the Hawks can keep him with a 3-year at about a $5 million dollar contract, it will be less disruption on the offensive line which took a while to come around in 2015.

Jermaine Kearse – Over the last two years, Kearse has come up with some very clutch catches.  All of us can remember the acrobatic catch he made in the 2014 Super Bowl against the Patriots.  And this game, coming up huge with his performance against the Panthers.  Hawks need to keep him so the receiving corps of Kearse, Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Luke Wilson and yes, Jimmy Graham are kept intact for the 2016 season.

Brandon Mebane – An absolute monster in the middle but may have to be a causality  of the business.  Gotta love the effort he puts out every game and how effective he is bottling up the middle against the run.  As much as I’d love to keep him, it wouldn’t be cost-effective to do so.

So here is to yet another great season the Hawks gave us and here is to hoping they continue to finds ways to keep finding players to maintain the level of excellence all Seahawk fans come to expect.

And while I applaud the Carolina Panthers season and their ability to survive the game against the Hawks, I will be rooting for the Arizona Cardinals next week…and if the Cards can get past them, I will be rooting for them against the AFC team they face in the Super Bowl.  Love to see one of the classiest players in the game, Larry Fitzgerald, get a Super Bowl ring.

GO HAWKS!

NFL Crowns Detroit Lions as Champions – In 1957

FreePressLionsWin

Going into the 2016 season, it will be 59 years since the Detroit Lions have won an NFL championship.

To put things in perspective, and I know there are a lot of people in the same boat, I will be turning 58 in 2016 without ever seeing the Detroit Lions win a championship.

Want to know what the trophy looked like last time they won?  Here you go:

Ed Thorp Trophy

It was called the Ed Thorp Memorial trophy.  Who was Ed Thorp you might ask?  He was a referee, rules expert, sporting goods dealer and a good friend to the NFL owners during the early years.

You aren’t going to find this trophy in a case of any of the teams that won NFL championships from 1934 through 1969 because there was only one trophy.  It was passed each year to the teams that won, much like how the Stanley Cup is in the NHL.

There are replicas of the trophy but the original’s location is unknown.  The last recipient, the Minnesota Vikings in 1969 somehow lost it when the NFL went to the Lombardi Trophy in 1970.  It is also believed to have cursed the Vikings as they being the last winners…and they went on to appear in 4 Super Bowls and lost them all.

Since 1957, the Lions have not gotten back to the big dance.  To be honest, I’m not all sure as to why.  Yes, there were some bad general managers and presidents that ownership stayed loyal far longer than others would have.  However, the phrase “even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while” comes to mind.

I don’t write this to bash the Lions players or coaches.  I am fairly certain that each of them has a desire to win.  However, having a desire with little talent to do so, that’s something different.

Each of us Lions fans can count numerous coaches and players that while had a desire to win, had no business being in the NFL.  Marty Mornhinweg, Joey Harrington & Titus Young are just a few that come to mind.

Years ago, when I was writing for the Bleacher Report, I had speculated as to which team between the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns would get to the Super Bowl first.  Ironic that these two teams have waited in futility for decades, the Lions looking at 6 and the Browns  just a little over 5.

What holds true then and now is that these two teams are the oldest teams in the NFL to have never played in a Super Bowl.  Cleveland perhaps would have gotten there in the 1980’s were it not for the Denver Bronco’s and John Elway.

The Lions best opportunity to date was in 1991, the last year the Lions won a playoff game.  They were one game away from getting to the Super Bowl and after blowing out the Dallas Cowboys at the Pontiac Silverdome 38-6, they reverted to kittens the following week and were blown out by eventual Super Bowl winner, Washington.

No, there will be no re-hashing the ineptness of the front office for the past 5 decades, we all know what the issues are there.

What I do want to stress is that the Lions, as an organization, owe it to their fans, in Detroit and all over the world, to put together a team that must have one focus in mind…from the owner down to the ball boy, to get to the Super Bowl and win it.

The other professional teams in Detroit have done their best to mollify Detroit Sports fans, the Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons have all gone on to win World Series, Stanley Cup and NBA Championships numerous times since the Lions last won an NFL Championship:

Tigers – appeared in 4 World Series, winning 2 of them, 1968 and 1984.

Red Wings – Appeared in 9 Stanley Cups, winning 4 of them.

Detroit Pistons – Appeared in 5 NBA Championships, winning 3.

Is it too much to ask Lions ownership to get us one?  Don’t hand me that crap that the NFL is very competitive.  MLB, NHL & NBA has just as fierce of competition as the NFL does.

How do teams like New England, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Green Bay and Seattle consistently get into the playoffs and Super Bowls and win?

Detroit Lions have the same access to college players and free agents that these teams do, right?

I believe the issues is one of lack of vision…at the top.  Martha Ford may be the elixir to get the Lions pointed in the right direction.  She shook the team to the core by firing Millen left overs Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand.

She also made a smart decision by hiring Ernie Accorsi as a consultant to find a GM for the Lions.  The search won’t really begin in earnest until after the Super Bowl and there are plenty of candidates to approach.

But what will make the Lions attractive to the next general manager?  Will they have the power and authority to do what it will take to put together a Super Bowl team?

And what of the current status of players?  Will Calvin Johnson be used to accumulate draft picks?  Will Matthew Stafford be that QB that all of us hope he would be when drafted in 2009?  Will the Lions ever have a potent running attack?  An offensive line that will open holes and pass block?  Will they have a good defensive team and a good offensive team at the same time?

There are more questions than answers at this point.  And I can only watch from afar and continue to support my Lions as I have been for as long as I can remember.

Right now, I turn my attention to my second hometown team, the Seattle Seahawks and hope they can find the magic and get back to the Super Bowl for the third straight time.

Go Lions!  Go Hawks!

 

 

Seattle Seahawks – Team of Destiny? I’m In!

Seahawk Im In

From the few who’ve read articles I’ve written on Beer Thinker Sports, it’s a known fact that I am an unabashed Detroit Lions fan. And make no mistake, this article is me jumping on the Seahawk bandwagon…I admit it freely.

While most of my articles have been about the Lions, I’ve also written about my second hometown team, the Seahawks. Let me tell you that the Hawks recent success has buffered the pain and agony of being a Lions fan.

This season though, had me worried of being a fan of both teams. Lions started out the season 1-7 despite having success of an 11-5 season last year. Seahawks weren’t much better over the first 8 games going 4-4, including a game saving win by Kam Chancellor over the Lions in week 4.

If you look at both teams, on paper, one could say that they are pretty evenly matched. But the one distinct advantage the Hawks have over the Lions: Heart.

The 2015 Seahawks may be the most exciting team Pete Carroll and company have put together yet. He continues to stick to his guns and play rookies and undrafted free agents that have a quality that he looks for. Again, heart.

And just what is the definition in this respect? In my opinion, it’s the player that won’t give up, isn’t afraid to make a mistake but learns from them as to not repeat them and will give his all until the final second ticks off the clock.

Perfect example is that victory over the Lions in week 4. Lions had the perfect play drawn up against a tired Seahawk defense when Lions QB Matthew Stafford found Calvin Johnson at the 8-yard line with an open lane to the end zone with about 1:45 left on the clock.

Trust me here when I say I was on my feet yelling “Yes!” at the top of my lungs when the play developed. Johnson was hit at about the one but leaning forward over the goal line when it happened.

Kam Chancellor, in only his second week, clinging to Johnson punched the ball from his grasp…and sealed the victory for the Seahawks.

I was devastated. But had to admire Kam’s heart. He never gave up, never stopped and found a way to make a play.

I figured that if the Lions had scored on that play, they were going to win the game. After all, the Lions defense had harassed Russell Wilson all day and sacked him 6 times. And after giving up only a field goal in the second half, the defense was primed to give the Lions a rare West Coast road win.

But the collective heart of the Seahawks, as well as Kam’s ability to dig deep, denied the win.

Was it a turning point for the Hawks? I’m not sure. While the win evened their record at 2-2, they did lose the next two games to be at 2-4. There was the epic meltdown against the Bengals, blowing a 17 point lead in the fourth quarter as well as the 15 point lead against the Carolina Panthers at home.

The Seattle press wasn’t really lambasting the Seahawks but were beginning to question Pete Carroll’s coaching decisions. Allowing the offensive line to be in rebuild mode, with several players that were being defensive linemen converting to offensive line which resulted in an alarming rate of sacks on Russell Wilson. At one point, with the rate of sacks being allowed, the Seahawks were on target to give up over 65 sacks over the season.

Where I think the turning point for this season was the home loss against the Arizona Cardinals in week 10. The Cardinals came out hot in the first half, building a 22-7 lead. But the Seahawks made some adjustments and starting to peck away at the Cardinal lead. At the end of the third quarter, it was 25-17 as the Hawks gave up only a field goal in the third.

And in the fourth quarter, Marshawn Lynch scored on a 3 yard run and Bobby Wagner recovered a fumble and ran it back for another TD. Both 2 point conversions failed but the Hawks were right back in it, leading 29-25.

But Carson Palmer playing out of his mind this year, tossed a 4th quarter TD and Andre Ellington busted a 48 yard TD run to re-take control of the game.

But the heart of the team became evident in this game…and I think it brought them together to reel off 4 straight wins and all in pretty convincing fashion. Hawks averaged just over 35 points a game over the stretch of the 4 games and the defense allowed just 14 points a game.
The offensive line has finally come together and Wilson has only been sacked 10 times in that 4 game stretch. With the line playing as it is, it has allowed Wilson to show just how talented he is. He’s thrown for 16 TD’s and no interceptions over the last 4 games. That puts him with only 2 other quarterbacks in NFL history to accomplish that feat, those being Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Not bad company to be in.

He is the first Seahawk quarterback to have two 5 touchdown games in a season. He is also the first Seahawk QB to have at least three touchdown passes in four straight games. He is the only quarterback in NFL history to have four straight games with at least 3 touchdown passes, no interceptions and a 70% completion rating.

Wilson isn’t the only Seahawk to play at a historic pace. WR Doug Baldwin, an undrafted free-agent who came to the Seahawks in 2011, put up some fantastic numbers over the last 3 games: 17 catches for 321 yards and eight touchdowns. He is on pace to be the first 1,000 yard receiver for the Seahawks since Bobby Engram accomplished that feat in 2007.

And the defense, the Legion of Boom, is back. Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin are getting after QB’s. Along with rookie Frank Clark, the rest of this season is going to be very tough on opposing quarterbacks. Kam, Bobby Wagner, Richard Sherman and Deshawn Shead have brought back the attitude of the Legion, that nothing is going to get by them and no team is going to score on them. And if they do, they will pay for it.

And the dismantling of the Cleveland Browns on Sunday just clarifies each point. Russell Wilson added to historic pace with 3 more TD’s with Doug Baldwin catching two of them. Jermain Kearse made some very clutch catches and caught 7 passes for 110 yards.

And what about Christine Michael? Coming off the scrap heap for a second chance with the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2013 draft? Once a promising RB with comparisons to Adrian Peterson, he was traded to the Dallas Cowboys as the Seahawks felt, and rightly so, that Thomas Rawls beat him out as back-up to Marshawn Lynch.  He played sparingly with Dallas before being released in November. He signed with Washington as a practice squad player but was released November 17th, his career seemingly over at age 25.

The Seahawks and Pete Carroll are all about giving players another chance.  And Michael responded well to this opportunity, heeding safety Earl Thomas’ advice to reel it back and play without pointing fingers at himself for doing well. The result was 16 carries for 84 yards and a repentant Michael gave credit not to himself, but to the offensive line for his success.

Perhaps this will be the window of opportunity for Michael to have a successful career in the NFL.

Who knows, right? I don’t see Lynch coming back in 2016 as he is breaking down. I think the smart thing for him would be to retire now while most people can remember just what a remarkable running back he was.  With a tandem of Thomas Rawls and this version of Christine Michael, the running game would be in good hands.

The Hawks are 9-5 right now. If they can win out, that will put them at 11-5 which most likely will put them as the number 2 as a wild card. They will most likely travel to the NFC East division champion, most likely the team from Washington which I see them as winning.

Next up are the St. Louis Rams, a proverbial thorn in the Seahawks side if there ever was one…if they can win that game, I believe there will be a re-match with the Patriots and this time, the outcome will be very different.

I’m in!

GO HAWKS!

Detroit Lions Slay The Dragon In Lambeau

Lions Packers Score

The last time the Lions were on the winning side of an NFL game they played in Wisconsin, George Bush was president…George Bush Sr. that is.

There has to be a party going on back in Detroit right now…and, at least for one week, the Detroit Lions, as a team, can feel good about themselves.

It has been a very long time since I’ve seen the Lions dig deep to win a game…and of course, they didn’t make it easy what with Matt Prater missing 2 extra points as well as the sure handed Calvin Johnson muffing an onside kick.

I don’t care.  The Lions won in Green Bay too snap a 24 game losing streak that was bordering on the sublime.  Scratch that, it was already sublime.

Defense really stepped up in this game to help out the offense…and the offense played better than Green Bay for once…not by much but enough.

Weird calls, missed calls and a lot of no-calls.  But the officiating was crappy for both sides…and it didn’t come down to a blown call…it was decided by the players as it should always be.

There was one point in the game, somewhere in the 3rd quarter where I thought the Lions were going to hand it over the Packers.  On first down, the Lions gained eight yards.  On second down, they handed it off to Joique Bell for no gain so that left a 3rd and two.

So many options and the one I would have picked would be to fake the hand-off inside and let Matthew Stafford run to the outside.  But no, the hand-off went to the up-back and he was stuffed and the result forced the Lions to punt.

But the defense bailed out the offense, as they did all day.

I live in Seattle which plays on Sunday Night Football.  I am sure that all of my neighbors were ready to call the cops considering all the yelling and swearing that was going on.

And as I paced nervously in my front room, knowing that Mason Crosby was going to crush us yet again, I had to watch.

And then I saw the wounded-duck that came off Crosby’s foot and fall far short of the uprights.

The.  Detroit.  Lions.  Frickin. Won. The. Damn. Game.

Congrats Guys…cherish this win and get ready for Oakland at home.  And play with this intensity for the rest of the year…play with this passion, play with this grit.  Because at the end of the day, if you play your hearts out, I can respect that.

Don’t give up.

Go Lions!