Just because it is June, and I am willing and able, here is a collection of some funny NFL photos I have kept over the years:
Going off an article from last week on the NFL’s Final Four history, I was thinking about how the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks are this year’s regular season champion and they currently hold a 2-0 lead against the Los Angeles Kings, who are the defending Stanley Cup champions.
How many of these meetings between defending champion and regular season champion have taken place in the NFL?
My data on NFL regular season champions goes back to 1975 when the seeding system was put in place. Here are those meetings (winner in green):
Nothing says “last year was last year” like this table.
The regular season champion is 18-3 (.857) against the defending Super Bowl champion, including 12 straight wins from 1976-94. In the playoffs, the regular season champion is 4-2.
The only three losses involve the ‘90s NFC cycle when Steve Young’s 49ers couldn’t beat Brett Favre’s Packers, who couldn’t beat Troy Aikman’s Cowboys. Also the Patriots took their poor loss on Halloween into Pittsburgh and turned it into a 41-27 win in the 2004 AFC Championship.
18-3, that’s pretty damn good.
Presented without comment (for now).
Quarterback Donovan McNabb officially retired as a Philadelphia Eagle last week.
Is he ever going to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? After that finish to his career in Washington and Minnesota, the answer is no. You can read my extended information on his HOF case here.
Honestly, I just wanted to post this ridiculous GIF somewhere. So from the last meaningful game of McNabb’s career, a 34-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the 2009 playoffs, this is what McNabb did:
Is that a “cornball brother” move?
Apparently McNabb has blocked out the memory of that evening. He currently serves as a NFL Network analyst.
If only because I’m tired of seeing my terrible mock draft at the top of the page, I’m going to reflect on the series finale of NBC’s The Office tonight. Spoilers on the series will be included, so read at your own risk.
In some ways The Office has become the Brett Favre of comedies. It’s been around forever, but every time you think it’s gone, it comes back.
But no more retirement games as tonight’s episode is indeed the series finale. While some people have followed the show since the British original from 2001, my experience with the show has been very unique, and I just wanted to share it on this day.
This is going to feel like the fifth time I have said goodbye to The Office ….all in a span of six months, and yet it feels like 12 years.
Back in 2001 I was more likely to think “BBC” meant something vulgar than its real meaning. I didn’t know who Ricky Gervais was. So it was a happy time, you could say.
By the time the show was developed for American television in 2005, I was hardly watching any TV series not named 24, which oddly enough was announced this week that it is coming back. I did not have a DVR until 2007. Netflix was not streaming on my Playstation 3 until last April.
Frankly, I thought the show looked stupid. I didn’t care for the mockumentary style, as though I am a fan of narration, breaking the fourth wall and talking straight to the camera has never been a tactic I enjoy. Technically they have an audience when they talk to the camera in these things, but come on. I can see through your parlor tricks.
So I avoided the show for quite a while, along with just about any sitcom on the big networks at the time. It did not help that I was not a fan of Steve Carell outside of Little Miss Sunshine.
Yet for some reason when I got Netflix last year, I decided to queue up both the British and American versions. It wasn’t until about September that I actually watched them. One Saturday afternoon I watched the British pilot followed immediately by the American pilot, which was basically a shortened version of Gervais’ work.
Sure, I liked that the British characters were able to swear, even if they were hard to understand at times. I sparingly watched it, though did have a wild coincidence on a Wednesday night with it.
After a caller into our Colts Authority radio show dropped “big black cock” on the air, I watched the British version afterwards. Sure enough it was the season 2 opener where there was a joke centered on a “big black cock.” The BBC was literally haunting me that night.
Initially I did like the British version more, though during football season it was hard to find time to really watch either. I did start grinding away on the American version, but it wasn’t until maybe November when I finished the British version’s 14 episodes. The good guy gets the receptionist in the end. What a shocker.
With the conclusion of the British version, that was the first time I said goodbye to The Office.
Through the holiday season I started picking up steam on the American version, watching a couple hours of episodes at a time. I thought the show was progressing well. When people live and breathe with a show each week, it is easy for them to wear down over the years. But if you watch it in mini-marathon viewings, you’ll see most shows maintain their quality for season after season, if not getting better as you grow to love the characters.
And that I did.
Carell actually didn’t annoy the shit out of me anymore (at least not that much). Rainn Wilson was no longer that “goofy looking dude who was in Super” to me. Jenna Fischer says more with her eyes than most actresses can with their mouths. John Krasinski took the bowl off his head and Brian Baumgartner started going full retard. The less David Koechner, the better. Ed Helms was tolerable from The Hangover, while Ellie Kemper was a great addition as the new receptionist.
I wanted to kill Toby too.
My favorite episode was probably “Dinner Party” from season 4. You know, that one night?
As I was getting close to finishing season 7 in January, I was already aware Michael Scott leaves the show in “Goodbye Michael”. Normally it would be TV suicide to lose your main character, but that is why this is the second time I said goodbye to The Office as I knew it.
With a few minor changes, that really could have been the series finale right there. Hell, they didn’t even make it the season 7 finale. Bold move to continue, but so be it, NBC.
Now after seven seasons and the loss of the main character, this is when I noticed the quality of the show began to decay. They tried to make Andy Bernard, perhaps thanks to Helms’ film success, the new Michael Scott. I like Andy’s character, but this just didn’t work. Season 8 featured many scenes and episodes outside of the office, which kind of defeats the purpose of the show. About the only thing I liked in this season was more screen time for Erin.
I even had my longest Netflix marathon ever one night to finish this season, watching 15 episodes in a row. Like that I was done with all eight seasons and the 169 episodes Netflix had to offer. Usually this sense of accomplishment means you are done with a series, but The Office was still going.
Since Comcast is a joke and only had a few mid-season episodes from Season 9 available OnDemand, I ended up getting Hulu Plus in February. Annoyed with their commercial breaks, I plodded through the first 15 episodes, not particularly enjoying much of what I was seeing. The new characters were not interesting, Nellie has not been a good addition, and even staples of the show like Jim and Pam were just boring at this point.
When I finished the series on Hulu, I was finally all caught up to the live show, which some people have already been caught up on for eight (or 12) years. It took me five months.
That was the fourth time I said goodbye to The Office.
My first chance to watch the show live was missed as I had to DVR and watch it later (but no commercials is always a plus).
So the first live episode I ever watched was “The Farm”, which is literally the single worst episode ever made in the 201-episode series. Good thing for NBC they canceled this attempt at a spin-off on Dwight’s farm family, because it was horrible.
The last five episodes have largely shown a series running on fumes to get to the finale. “Stairmageddon” was another low point for the series. At least last week’s episode recalled some vintage moments from the show’s early days. Is the show even old enough in my head to call anything about it vintage?
But now here we are with one 55-minute “Finale” to go. The series finale to Six Feet Under is such a gold standard that it has ruined my lifelong expectations of all other series finales, so I don’t expect a whole lot from this one.
I think it would be a colossal mistake for Steve Carell to not make an appearance tonight. The fact that it’s a wedding for Dwight and Angela makes it extremely easy to write him in, even if it’s for just one scene.
So that’s that.
When I say goodbye to The Office for the fifth time, I know that this is the only one that counts. While it’s taken many people 8-12 years to get to this point, the show’s only been with me for eight months.
Watching it live tonight, it will feel awkward to say goodbye so soon, but that’s exactly how I want to remember this show: a daily snapshot of awkwardness.
Look, I really don’t like mock drafts. But since some people have asked if I will do one, and since I entered a contest on NFL.com for one, I might as well share my sure to be failure of a mock. One little change and suddenly you have to make major changes. I tried to match players the teams actually need, but we know everyone has their own drafting methods.
If I get five right I’ll call it a good effort. But that’s the thing with mock drafts. Someone can spend 100 hours and get fewer picks right than the person throwing a list into Excel and doing a random number generator to make their picks.
- Kansas City Chiefs – OT Luke Joeckel
- Jacksonville Jaguars – DE Dion Jordan
- Oakland Raiders – DT Sharrif Floyd
- Philadelphia Eagles – DT Star Lotulelei
- Detroit Lions – OT Eric Fisher
- Cleveland Browns – CB Dee Milliner
- Arizona Cardinals – OG Chance Warmack
- Buffalo Bills – QB Ryan Nassib
- NY Jets – DE Barkevious Mingo
- Tennessee Titans – OT D.J. Fluker
- San Diego Chargers – OG Jonathan Cooper
- Miami Dolphins – DE Ezekiel Ansah
- NY Jets – QB E.J. Manuel
- Carolina Panthers – OT Lane Johnson
- New Orleans Saints – DL Sheldon Richardson
- St. Louis Rams - WR Tavon Austin
- Pittsburgh Steelers – LB Jarvis Jones
- Dallas Cowboys – DL Johnathan Hankins
- NY Giants – CB Xavier Rhodes
- Chicago Bears – LB Arthur Brown
- Cincinnati Bengals – S Kenny Vaccaro
- St. Louis Rams – DE Bjoren Werner
- Minnesota Vikings – LB Manti Te’o
- Indianapolis Colts – DE Damontre Moore
- Minnesota Vikings – QB Geno Smith
- Green Bay Packers – DL Cornellius Carradine
- Houston Texans – WR Cordarrelle Patterson
- Denver Broncos – DL Datone Jones
- New England Patriots – WR Justin Hunter
- Atlanta Falcons – TE Tyler Eifert
- San Francisco 49ers – S Eric Reid
- Baltimore Ravens – WR Keenan Allen
The beauty of this thing is I don’t care how I do, and I spent more time typing these out than putting it together.
Just let me know when the games start and we see how good these players really are. At least half of them will likely disappoint.
I also would like to further go on record in believing Cordarrelle Patterson is going to be a bust, and Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson will be the best NFL QB in this class.
UPDATE (1:00 A.M. Friday morning)
That was worse than expected. The only pick I got right was Jarvis Jones to Pittsburgh. Guess I still know the Steelers at least…
I did match up Tavon Austin to St. Louis and Eric Reid to San Francisco, but at much different numbers.
So be it.
Rather than try to do a Twitter rant with a 140-character limit, I just wanted to share some thoughts on NFL teams “reaching” in the draft.
Let’s look at a hypothetical. A team holds the 15th and 47th picks in the draft. The player they want is roughly the 32nd-best prospect on the board according to most teams and experts. Should the team still pull the trigger on that player, which could be considered a reach, or should they take someone with closer “value” to the No. 15 pick?
(Note: Literally just as I was going to hit “Publish”, I saw a link that made me realize this hypothetical is essentially the real-life example of Seattle and Bruce Irvin last year.)
I say you take the player you want and ignore the so-called “reach” criticism. What’s valuable is getting the player that you feel best fits your system and need. There’s a good chance that player would not be there when you pick again at 47. There is no guarantee you could trade down and get the player in the 20s or 30s; supposedly closer to where he is “supposed to go.” It takes two to tango.
Remember, when these Mel Kiper/Mike Mayock types rank players, they are looking at every position in the draft. The reality is teams are looking at a limited number of positions when it comes to that premium first-round pick. If Geno Smith is the best player available at No. 17, that doesn’t mean a damn thing to the Pittsburgh Steelers, because they have a quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger.
Let’s look at a real example with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this year. Last week I broke down whether or not Tampa Bay should be trading for Darrelle Revis.
These are the only positions the Buccaneers, who pick 13th (for now), should be considering with that pick: TE, WR, DE, DT, OLB, and CB.
You could argue it’d be no different in the second round (43rd overall) for Tampa as well. I almost didn’t include WR because of Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams as starters, though you could imagine the value of a Tavon Austin in the slot in that offense. Still, it’s a fringe need for this team.
But the point is Tampa Bay is only looking at a few different positions, so their board is far different from many teams and that of the experts who will instantly be analyzing these picks. If Texas safety Kenny Vacarro is the best player available when Tampa Bay picks, then you can’t fault them when they pass given they have Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson. If they take a player that’s only 25th on Mel Kiper’s big board at No. 13, then you better adjust it for all the players Kiper had listed at positions Tampa Bay didn’t need to fill.
After you do that, you’ll likely see it was hardly a reach.
Historically, the 13th pick holds more value than the 32nd pick, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to produce a better player in every case. So you should focus on taking the best player for your team, even if he supposedly isn’t worth a top 15 pick. Every single year there are players who go at the end of the round that are much better than players at the start of that round.
That’s one of the many issues with analysis of a process so inexact. No matter who’s doing the mock draft, no one really knows how a team feels about the players they have and what they think they really need to upgrade. That’s why you end up with draft results that are so drastically different from expectations, which is how you end up with “that team reached!”
But the only real reach is thinking one can ever predict how a NFL draft will unfold.