May 10, 2012
Lost in all of the hype and debate about which NFL prospect is the next Joe Montana or Jerry Rice, is which prospects could become Pro-Bowlers on the interior of the offensive line (or at least Pro Bowl caliber, if there is no Pro Bowl). This year’s Draft showed how lightly NFL teams value interior lineman, specifically centers. Peter Konz, the #1 rated center according to many draft sites, fell all the way to the Atlanta Falcons at #55. But when you look at teams that have been successful over the last decade, they all have had very good, if not elite, centers.
THE PATRIOTS – DAN KOPPEN
Dan Koppen started 119 games from 2003-2010 for the Patriots. He was injured early in 2011. During his tenure as the Patriots center, New England won two Super Bowls and started another season 19-0. Koppen may not be as important to the team’s success as Tom Brady or Bill Belichick, but he has been an important cog on the offensive line for a long time.
THE COLTS – JEFF SATURDAY
Saturday started 188 games for the Colts from 1999-2011. Anyone who thinks that the Colts’ offense is completely run by Peyton Manning has never seen Saturday argue with him on the sidelines. Saturday was out there for all of those years calling protections and identifying linebackers for the Colts’ offensive line. He is a major reason that Peyton Manning started every game for 13 years in a row. It will be interesting to see how much of an impact Jeff Saturday can make in Green Bay now that he has signed with the Packers.
Maurkice Pouncey, David Haas, and Scott Wells have all been on Super Bowl teams in the past two seasons. The Steelers went against the grain and drafted Pouncey 16th overall in 2010. He has more than lived up to the selection by earning a selection to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons. Scott Wells went from the Packers’ 7th round draft pick in the 2004 NFL Draft to the starting center in Super Bowl XLV and a Pro Bowler in 2011. He recently signed a contract with the Rams. Before the 2011 season, David Haas left the 49ers and signed with the Giants in free agency. The Giants had not made the playoffs in two years, but won the Super Bowl last year with Haas manning the pivot. The list does not end there. The Bears’ Super Bowl run in 2006 featured team captain and perennial Pro Bowl Center Olin Kreutz. The Giants’ 2007 Super Bowl team had Shaun O’Hara, who made three Pro Bowl teams and one All-Pro Team.
Poor play at center can bring a team down as well. Would the Cowboys have had better records in recent years if they had gotten more consistent play from center Andre Gurode? Gurode, at times, struggled with shotgun snaps, and, on a few occasions, had multiple bad snaps in the same game. The Cowboys chose not to resign him following the 2010 season, and, while he signed with Baltimore for the 2011 season, he started only five games for the Ravens.
Recent history has shown that the most successful teams in the league have to-of-the-line centers. A poor center can bring down an otherwise talented football team. So why do NFL teams seem to overlook this position in the draft? It is one of the greatest mysteries in pro football.
February 1, 2012
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has history on the line when he takes the field in Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI. The 34-year-old could tie or break all of the major Super Bowl records for quarterbacks.
Brady has been the best the NFL has to offer over the last decade and there’s no sign of him slowing down anytime soon. He threw for 5,235 yards this season—a career best. When the big game gets underway on Super Bowl Sunday it’ll be Brady’s fifth, which will tie him with John Elway for the most all-time starts by a quarterback in the Super Bowl. While this is quite an accomplishment, there are many more records to be had by Brady with a spectacular game.
He needs just 156 passing yards in order to surpass Kurt Warner’s record of 1,156. Given, Warner did this in three games compared to Brady’s five, but who’ll remember that in 20 years? This record is almost inevitable—the New York Giants have a really good defense, but no team is good enough to hold a quarterback of Brady’s caliber to less than 156 yards. He may own this record before halftime.
Brady already owns the records for attempts(155) and completions(100) in the Super Bowl—he’ll only add to those.
With four touchdown tosses Brady will tie Joe Montana for most career touchdown passes in Super Bowl history with 11. Now, four touchdowns against a strong Giants squad may seem preposterous, but football fans should know not to doubt Brady—ever. After all, he threw six against the Denver Broncos just a few weeks ago.
One more Super Bowl victory would put Brady as the greatest of all time. With one win he would best Montana for most all-time playoff wins with 17. One more win on the biggest stage in all of sports would give Brady his fourth ring—tying him with Montana and Terry Bradshaw.
It’s no secret that Brady grew up imitating his boyhood hero Joe Montana.
On Super Bowl Sunday, he could become him.
August 16, 2010
With the recent exodus of LeBron James to South Beach, it got me thinking. It’s a very rare thing for an iconic athlete to spend his entire career with one team. It’s not even a recent trend as we can go back to guys like Joe Namath moving on to the Rams and OJ running the rock in San Fran. These days, changing teams seems to be an almost guaranteed occurrence for the majority of star players out there.
How absolutely lucky are those fans who get to cheer for their favorite player for their entire career? Undoubtedly fans of guys like Kobe, Derek Jeter and Peyton Manning will be able to do so. Guys like that (hopefully) as well as the Walter Paytons, John Elways, Steve Yzermans, Magic Johnsons, Larry Birds, Cal Ripkens, Tony Gwynns and George Bretts of the world are a special commodity for sure.
It’s disappointing to see iconic figures move on from the cities that love them. Sometimes it’s the player’s choice as with LeBron, sometimes not like in the case of Marcus Allen who was run out of the Raiders organization. I remember as a kid who grew up with a tremendous passion for the Milwaukee Brewers just how upsetting it was to see one of my favorite players of all time, Paul Molitor leave town for Toronto. “The Igniter” was one of those fixtures with the Brew Crew who just seemed like he belonged with one team for the rest of his career. Now, Moli may not agree with that since he got to win a World Series with the Blue Jays and later had the chance to play in his hometown of Minneapolis-St. Paul, but he was definitely missed. The fans of the Brew Crew however did get to experience both sets of emotions though as they had their rare 1-team guy in Robin Yount who stayed in Milwaukee his entire Hall of Fame career and became the face of the franchise. There’s a lot of teams and fans who don’t have that.
How strange is it to think back to Joe Montana in a Chiefs uniform, Franco Harris as a Seahawk, Tony Dorsett as a Bronco, MJ as a Wizard, ‘Nique playing for the Celtics and Clippers and Pete Rose with the Expos? It’s happening more and more and like we are seeing with guys like LeBron, it’s even happening before the twilight of a player’s career. Heck, a few years ago, who would have imagined Brett Favre as anything but a Packer? Now Packers fans are trying to remember the great years of the past while seeing their former hero wearing the purple of their hated enemy. Crazy times. If your guy stays with your team, be thankful. For a variety of reasons, it just doesn’t happen much anymore. Enjoy every second!
February 24, 2010
LaDainian Tomlinson is a for sure first-ballot Hall of Famer and one of the greatest players of our generation. Whatever happens the rest of his career, LT Chargers jerseys will be the ones to have. People are going to be unloading these things like crazy, but if you are the kind of person who likes sport jerseys, I guarantee in 5 years you will regret either selling or not buying a Tomlinson Chargers jersey when you had the chance.
It just seems like this is one of those guys whose jersey everybody will want once he’s been gone a couple years. Do you see a lot of Joe Montana Chiefs or Franco Harris Seahawks jerseys out there? Nope. They had made their departures, but after a few years went by, the went back to being the iconic and in Montana’s case, “face of the franchise” guys with their original teams. In a few years, when the Tomlinson Chargers jersey is the retro jersey of choice, you’ll be glad to have yours!
Where will Mr. Charger end up? It’ll be strange to see him in another uniform, but one thing is clear. Tomlinson wants to win a championship. Sorry Lions fans, he’s not coming to town. Philly could use another pair of legs, Green Bay has been in search of a good pass-catching back to platoon with Ryan Grant and they are both contenders. But how about this? I know a team that loves to bring in supposedly over-the-hill players on the cheap and get good performance out of them. Could LT fit in with the Patriots? They’ve been looking for a featured back for years now and LT might just have enough gas in the tank to be the answer for a couple years. He’s slowing down and isn’t a 25-carry guy anymore, but it’s an intriguing thought. Hopefully, Tomlinson can get a few more successful years under his belt and can go out on a good note. He’s one of the best we’ve seen and should be remembered as such.