NFL: Plenty to Watch In First Preseason Game for Chargers/Cardinals, Including a Small Chance at Redemption for Mike McCoy

Pre Seas CoachesFootball season is finally upon us. For the Chargers and Cardinals it starts this Saturday in Glendale Stadium. The stadium is going to be electric, not because of the game, because football season is finally back. Now the hard part, getting through these games with no injuries to either team. Coaches have to be smart in the play calling, substitutions, and how much playing time they give the first team. With that being said, Philip Rivers and Sam Bradford don’t need to  see any game action. Rivers because he’s got a consecutive games streak of over 200 straight games. Sam Bradford on the other hand is the exact opposite of Rivers. Loaded with talent, just can’t stay healthy. We’re going to look at the key players to focus on in week 1 of the preseason. The Cardinals also signed former Chargers Head Coach, Mike McCoy, who should be looking forward to this game, preseason or not.

Cardinals Storylines and Players to Watch

Rookie head coach Steve Wilks has a challenge with Bradford because he should be getting reps with the first team to learn a new offense. But how much do you play him in the preseason with his injury history? Word is that Wilkes plans to give Bradford some snaps this week. Steve Wilkes brought in the perfect offensive coordinator in Mike McCoy. McCoy’s biggest contribution is his ability to get the most out of every QB. He really focuses on the players strengths and calls plays accordingly. With Bradford he has him working on quicker drop backs to get the ball out quick. We’ll see if that holds true on Saturday. Wilkes is a defensive-minded coach, so bringing in former head coach McCoy was crucial. Most Cardinals fans want to see 1st round pick Josh Rosen, former 1st round pick Robert Nkemdiche, 2nd round pick and local boy Christian Kirk, rookie center Mason Cole and free agent Tre Boston.

Pre Seas RosenJosh Rosen has impressed so far in camp, earning the respect of the huddle and the veterans on the team. The lineman and veterans on offense are very impressed with how he controls the huddle. As the QB, that is one of the most important aspects of your game. You need the other 10 to know you got this. He’s got the confidence to handle it so far in practice. Once the whistle blows on Saturday, we’ll get our first chance to see how the young signal caller handles the lights and speed of NFL defenses, even though he’ll be playing against mostly backups.

Pre Seas KirkSecond round pick Christian Kirk is coming home, what better feeling can a rookie have then being drafted by your home town team? Kirk was a standout at Saguaro High School then went on to be a standout at Texas A&M. In three years at A&M, Kirk had 2,856 yards, 26 Touchdowns, and mixed in 10 scrimmage touchdowns too as a returner. This was an outstanding pickup for the Cardinals, who lack wide receiver depth outside of Larry Fitzgerald, who will be in Canton soon. Kirk has blazing speed and has been getting first team reps. Kirk is slotted to take the punt returns this weekend as well. Kirk will be on full display this Saturday.

Pre Seas- NkemThe former 1st round pick Robert Nkemdiche is a physical freak, but has been far from ‘freaky’ on the field in his first two seasons. Nkemdiche has 12 tackles and zero sacks. Going into his 3rd season, he is starting to look confident in his unique mix of strength and quickness up the middle. He has the ability to be a ‘star’ in the NFL, but we’ve yet to see any sort of consistency. Nkemdiche has all the potential in the world. Back in 2013, he was the number 1 overall recruit out of high school. Then went to Ole Miss and was a two-time second team All-American and 29th overall pick by the Cardinals. Now it’s in his court, we need to see how he comes out against two-time pro-bowler Mike Pouncey, if he plays. Year three is going to be a major year for Nkemdiche.

Pre Seas Mason ColeOne of the biggest blows to any team is losing a starting center. The loss of A.Q Shipley is very significant, but rookie Mason Cole has been given a vote of confidence from coaches and teammates. He will be given the task of going up against run stuffer and former Super Bowl champ, Brandon Mebane. Although it is highly likely that Mebane plays many snaps in the preseason. Gus Bradley’s defenses have a lot of pre-snap movements and different blitz schemes. The Chargers get to the QB with the top pass rushing duo in the NFL a year ago — Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Cole will see plenty of snaps Saturday and will gain a lot of valuable information going up against a Gus Bradley defense.

Pre Seas TreFinally, the last person I want to talk about is former Charger, Tre Boston. Boston led the Chargers top pass defense in interceptions a year ago. He is a top 10 safety in the NFL, a ball hawk, not afraid of contact, and secures interceptions. Once free agency started, Tre Boston laughed at the Cardinals offer. Unfortunately, the offseason wasn’t very friendly to safeties. The market for safeties wasn’t very great having a few great safeties looking for work towards the beginning of camp. The Cardinals hit an absolute home run with the Boston signing.

Chargers Storylines and Players to Watch

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville JaguarsLet’s take a look at Super Bowl favorites in the AFC, the LA Chargers. Ok, maybe that is a stretch. Chargers fans remember finishing last season 9-3 and missing out on the playoffs in the final week of the season. It left a very bitter taste in the mouth of Chargers fans. Still saddens me to say LA and not San Diego. Philip Rivers will probably only get one series tops. The backup QB battle is actually pretty exciting in LA. Cardale Jones and Geno Smith are battling it out to be River’s backup. The competition between Jones/Smith, the growth from year one to two for Mike Williams, 1st round pick Derwin James, and the Tight End Virgil Green are the players we’re going to focus on for the Chargers. Last year, special teams kept the Chargers from getting into the Playoffs without a reliable kicker. Caleb Sturgis and former first round pick Aguayo look to battle it out for the job in Preseason.

Pre Season QBThe most sure thing for the Chargers is that number 17 is the starter Week 1. After that, it’s a two-man competition between former top 10 pick Geno Smith and former National Champion at Ohio State, Cardale Jones. Right now Jones has the edge over Smith in knowing the play book. Jones was with Lynn in Buffalo and was here last year learning the plays. Geno Smith has more experience in the NFL though. This is a competition that is going to be won in the preseason. No real front-runner right now, Anthony Lynn has them both listed as number 2 on the depth chart.

Pre Seas KickingAs mentioned earlier, the Chargers took a risk last year on Younghoe Koo. Long story short, it didn’t work. The Chargers started out last season 0-4. Started off having a field goal blocked Week 1 on MNF against the rival Broncos to tie the game with 5 seconds left. Week 2, Chargers Dolphins, the Cutler-led Dolphins I might add, Koo missed a 44 yard field goal to win the game. Finally, Week 4 against the Super Bowl Champion Eagles, the Chargers lost by two points to the Eagles. In 2018, the Chargers bring in two new kickers. Former Eagles kicker Caleb Sturgis and former first round pick Roberto Aguayo. Maybe a change of scene is just what Aguayo needs, he was a former All-American. Sturgis is in his 6th season in the NFL, so he brings a lot of experience to the table, something the Chargers need late in the season.

Pre Seas Mike WillyIn 2017, the Chargers had very high hopes for the WR out of Clemson, coming of a National Championship performance in which he dominated the ‘nasty’ Alabama defense. He is big, strong, and fast. The issue in 2017 was that Williams started camp battling injury and attempted to play catch-up for most of the first half of the season. In 2018, he enters camp in great shape with no injuries to report. Together, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams look to be a very scary duo, toss in Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin, and Rivers has options all over the place. Williams looked unsure of himself at times last year, and that is mainly due to falling behind early in camp. With a full season under his belt and now that he has seen NFL action, look for Mike Williams to establish himself early in the Preseason.

Pre Seas- DerwinMoving on to the Gem of 2018 for the Chargers. Safety from Florida State, Derwin James. A top 10 pick that fell down the board to the Chargers at 17. Mind blowing. The comparison I see with James is the late Sean Taylor, RIP. Taylor was an absolute beast. He looked like a DE playing safety. Derwin James has similar size, 6’2, 212 lbs, with the quickness to stay with receivers and the power to play with tight ends. He has a very unique skill set that will make him a starter from day 1 in Southern California. Saturday will be his first test against the receiving corps of Fitz and Kirk.

Plenty of solid storylines in this first preseason game against these squads. Highly talented draft picks, two newer head coaches, and plenty of veteran firepower makes this game one to keep an eye on in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, 4th quarter being uneventful.

 

 

 

 

 

NFL: Warner Leinart 2.0?

Once upon a time in Arizona the franchise that had little success in the desert drafted another Star quarterback out of Southern California with the number 10 pick, his name was Matt Leinart. Although I think rookie Josh Rosen is much better than Matt Leinart, there are some similarities. For instance, Josh Rosen was also taken number 10. At the time, Kurt Warner was an after thought, all the hype surrounded former Heisman trophy winner and national champion Matt Leinart from USC. Leinart went down due to a crushing hit from the Rams Will Witherspoon, Warner stepped up having his best season since his MVP days. The only person that can validate this theory is Larry Fitzgerald, who played with Warner and Leinart. Fitz seems to be pretty high on Sam Bradford telling everyone to bet the “Over” of 5.5 wins for the Cardinals next year. To make the situation even more ironic, Bradford is joining the Cardinals in his 8th NFL season, Warner also joined the Cardinals in his 8th NFL season.

Warner Leinart

Like Matt Leinart, the Cardinals drafted Josh Rosen knowing that he was one of the most NFL ready QB’s in the draft. A proven college leader and winner. Rosen has a chance to learn from Sam Bradford, who’s been in this league for a while. With Bradford starting there is always the chance at an injury, even if it’s a gust of wind, there is still a chance Bradford gets hurt. With that being said, Rosen needs to be ready to call a game. Bradford has a ton of football knowledge and is one of the best practice players you’d ever see. Watch him in 7 on 7 drills, he’ll pick you apart. He gets the ball out quick, has good size, high football IQ, and a good teammate.

Leinart and the new look Cardinals had so much hype going into the first year of the new $450 million stadium. A big knock on Leinart was if his heart was truly in it. He was seen countless times out enjoying the night life of Scottsdale and Phoenix. Leinart last played with the Raiders in 2012 and now is a broadcaster for College football. This wasn’t bad for Cardinals fans, because Kurt Warner took them on the greatest ride in team history and he cemented himself in the same conversation with the great QB’s that have ever played. Now let’s shift focus to Kurt Warner 2.0, Sam Bradford.

KURT

It’s hard to truly feel bad for Bradford and his injury-laden career because he continues to cash paychecks. He earned $50 million guaranteed as the number 1 overall pick by the St. Louis Rams. The most recent team to overpay Sam Bradford is Arizona, signing him to a 1 year, $20 million deal. If for some reason Bradford finds the fountain of Youth like Warner did, the ceiling is very high. He’ll have a top 5 RB in David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, the second best Wide Receiver in NFL history. If the Offensive line can keep Bradford on his feet there is no question he has the quick release and IQ, which can translate into wins. Vegas has the Over/Under of Cards wins at 5.5. Something Fitz laughs about, urging fans to go to Vegas to lay it down on the Over. Bradford looks to avoid being the target of countless funny memes about his injuries.

bradford

So all joking aside. If Bradford stays healthy, he can lead the Cardinals in 2018, earning him another big contract in 2019. Steve Keim is no stranger to the “One-Year Deal” that pays off. Look at Jermaine Gresham and Chris Johnson before he got injured he was leading the NFL in rushing a few years ago. Bradford would love to show teams that the former number 1 pick still has some juice left. Having Rosen sit back and observe can only benefit the young signal caller. I know Cardinals fans want to see Rosen earlier than later. Patience is key with young quarterbacks. Dak Prescott and Russel Wilson are anomalies in football. The NFL is a grown mans league if Rosen can avoid the early career hits that ended David Carr’s career before it began, that would be great. Especially since the supporting cast surrounding Rosen aren’t as strong as Prescott or Wilson. Not saying Bradford is going to be like Kurt Warner, but he certainly has the skills and knowledge to compete and push Rosen every day in practice. Bradford can also control a huddle which is invaluable for a quarterback. Cardinals fans should be pulling for Bradford because the rest of the Cardinals like their chances with Bradford. Especially when you add in former Chargers HC and Broncos OC who won a playoff game with Tim Tebow, Mike McCoy. McCoy is outstanding with quarterbacks.

Bradford CardsSo here you have it, no quarterback controversy in the Desert in 2018. Fans want to see the young UCLA standout but the former Heisman is better suited to lead this team. Especially with a rookie head coach like Steve Wilkes, a veteran like Bradford can really elevate his confidence as well as feed the ball to the future Hall of Famer, number 11. Mike McCoy is poised to reestablish himself as an elite offensive coordinator after an unsuccessful tenure in San Diego. He’s capable of calling a great game based off the quarterbacks strengths. How else do you think he can get a playoff win out of Tim Tebow against the Steelers? McCoy plans to use a quicker drop back with Bradford to avoid hits and so far in camp he’s on point. Now, if only the dude can stay healthy and confident. Then we’ll see the next Kurt Warner in AZ and Rosen’s time will have to wait. If Bradford does go down, then we’ll have to see what the young QB can do on the fly. Although the Rams are the team to beat, the Cardinals should out perform their projection of 5.5 wins in ’18.

Sports: Top 10 Draft Busts of All-Time

No draft pick is guaranteed to have a nice professional career. Scouts spend hundreds and hundreds of hours scouting players. Checking players background, friends, durability, injury history, and game film is a lot easier said than done. This list isn’t going to include players that battled injury because that is just bad luck. A ‘bust’ should be a player that was healthy and got the opportunity to succeed. Some of these players were never given a chance to grow up through the college experience. The crowds some of these young men were brought up with never went away and it’s the first time in their life they have real spending cash and a lot of bad decisions are made. It’s nice to see former players that were busts make good comebacks. Sam Bradford for instance, can’t be considered a bust because that is just terrible luck what has transpired in his career. Injuries have derailed the former Heisman trophy winner’s legacy.

There are so many more players we can argue can be on this list. The uncertainty of how a young man is going to perform with grown men is the whole excitement of the Draft. The draft is the beginning of a process, a process that only the mentally strong and discipline can conquer. It’s not always just about talent, if you don’t have the brains to go along with it you can sing faster than the Titanic. For these players that happened, some of them were able to come out OK, but for a lot of them, they had nothing else to fall back on.

 

NFL: Best NFL Duos.. RB’s and QB’s…

Well, there is no debate on who the top QB Duo is in the NFL. Not many teams can lose their MVP caliber starting QB and have a backup pick up where he left off and lead his team to a Super Bowl victory. For Nick Foles, “No Wentz, No Problem”. That is a credit to Head Coach, Doug Pederson, who kept this team moving in the right direction. Time’s are changing and having a good 1,2 punch is becoming more common. With all the new injury concerns and concussion protocols in today’s game, having valuable options as backups are incredibly important. Having a backup with starting experience is invaluable. The 2017 world Champion Philadelphia Eagles had the best QB duo and RB duo in the NFL last year. Trading for RB Jay Ajayi early in the season to add with TD producing LeGarrette Blount was a combination that helped get Nick Foles confidence rolling and the Eagles flew from there. The Eagles 2017 roster was the blue print for a SB winning team.

Quarterback Duos

Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer

New York Jets v New England Patriots

Joining the Eagles is the Patriots with the G.O.A.T Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer. After that, it is a big “what-if” in terms of quarterback Duos. Anytime you have a backup QB with starting experience with 1st team reps, you have a major advantage. I’ll keep going back to the 2017 Eagles if I have to in order to make the point. Hoyer has 60 games played under his name, so if his number is called, he’ll be less likely to have a meltdown than many other backups. Now, I am not saying Brian Hoyer is a good quarterback, for backups, experience trumps talent all day long.

Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub

Ryan Schwab

The Falcons have a nice situation going on in Atlanta. 2016 MVP Matt Ryan has long time backup and starter Matt Schaub. Schaub is the “poster” boy of reliable backups. He has 145 games under his belt, and 92 of those coming as starts. Schaub also has thrown for over 24,800 yards, 133 Touchdowns and 90 interceptions. God forbid Matt Ryan should go down, Dan Quinn has to sleep very well at night knowing he can throw in a guy with those career numbers. There isn’t a situation that Matt Schaub hasn’t seen.

Honorable Mention QB Duos/Trios

Sam Bradford- Josh Rosen-Mike Glennon

Rosen Bradford

Next, we’re going to breakdown a few QB Duos that could potentially have big seasons. Let’s start in the desert, with first round pick, Josh Rosen. Rosen will most likely start the season behind one time top pick Sam Bradford. We all know Bradford’s injury history but given a decent offensive line with future Hall of Famer, Larry Fitzgerald, this could be a very good duo. Not to mention, 3rd string quarterback Mike Glennon also has NFL experience, which we hardly ever see from an NFL team. Glennon was on the All-Rookie team with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013. Not bad for a 3rd string quarterback.

Tyrod Taylor and Baker Mayfield

mayfield taylor

It’s very crazy and scary that I am even putting this team in this post. The Cleveland Browns have number 1 overall pick, Baker Mayfield, and former Ravens and Bills starter, Tyrod Taylor. Taylor was also a Pro-Bowler in 2015 throwing for over 3,000 yards and 20 Touchdowns. There could be a lot of reward here, especially with the pickup of Jarvis Landry via free agency and Josh Gordon fresh off reinstatement. If we’re talking most mobile duo, Taylor and Mayfield should be in that conversation as well.

Running Back Duos

RB DUO

Ingram Kamara

Just like the Eagles dominate amongst QB duos, the New Orleans Saints dominate all running RB duo conversations. In 2017, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram were Pro-Bowlers. Kamara blew us all away in his rookie season. He was a pro-bowler and was the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Kamara had 725 yards rushing with 8 Touchdowns averaging 6.1 YPC and had an insane 81 catches for 826 yards and 5 Touchdowns. In his rookie season, Alvin Kamara had more catches than a lot of “elite” Wide Receivers. His 81 catches were more than Doug Baldwin, AJ Green, Tyreek Hill, Mike Evans, Dez Bryant, and Rob Gronkowski. Those are all former Pro-Bowlers, Kamara comes in and dominates. You add that with former Heisman trophy winner, Mark Ingram, form a pretty scary combination. Ingram was also a pro-bowler last season running for 1,124 yards and 11 Touchdowns. In this day and age in the NFL, versatile running backs out of the backfield are very crucial. Even Ingram is used more out of the backfield since his days with the Crimson Tide.

Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman

Freeman Coleman

We’re going to stay in the NFC South, the Atlanta Falcons have a very scary twosome. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are two game-changing running backs that can catch out of the backfield and be used interchangeably. In 2017, Freeman ran for 865 yards and 7 Touchdowns, also contributing 36 catches for 317 yards. Coleman added in 626 yards 5 Touchdowns on the ground with 27 catches for 299 yards and 3 TD in the air. The Falcons are 2 years removed from playing in the Super Bowl. They have most of those pieces still in tact, but the hard running of Coleman and Freeman is a major reason for that.

Kareem Hunt and Spencer Ware

Ware and Hunt

Kareem Hunt exploded in his first season in the NFL, and for that reason the Chiefs make this list because Spencer Ware is a very reliable number 2 running back in the league. Kareem Hunt put up huge numbers as a rookie running for 1,327 yards and 8 Touchdowns, catching 53 balls for 455 yards and 3 Touchdowns. Not to mention he played on special teams. Going to throw it out there he didn’t win Offensive Rookie of the Year, that is more of a credit to Alvin Kamara. Back in 2016, Spencer Ware had 1,600 total yards. This is why they make our list of top Duos.

Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis

Lewis Henry

The Tennessee Titans can make some noise in the ground game, going to battle with Mariota and Derrick Henry and former Champion Dion Lewis. I can’t believe the Patriots let him go, oh wait, nevermind that is what the Patriots do. Lewis was probably late for a meeting and Belichick sent him packing. In 2017, Henry ran for 744 yards and 5 Touchdowns, most of his damage coming in the second half of the year. Dion Lewis ran for 896 yards and 6 Touchdowns with 32 catches for 214 yards and 3 Touchdowns. In a Patriots offense, these numbers are crazy for a running back, because he is always playing more than one player at a position.

Honorable Mention Duos

Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray

Cook and Murray

There are a few honorable mention duos I would like to point out as potential stars in the ’18-’19 season. The Vikings can be a top duo this season with Latavius Murray, but more importantly, Dalvin Cook returns for year 2. His rookie season was a distant memory, being cut short by injury. Cook was projected to be a top running back in the NFL his rookie year last year and Murray has always had the physical tools to be a good running back, we just haven’t seen it yet. This is why I put a giant question mark on these two.

Carlos Hyde- Duke Johnson- Nick Chubb

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Houston Texans

Also, another giant question mark but lets take a look at the Browns RB duo. They have Carlos Hyde and former starter Duke Johnson who would be battling it out. Except they drafted one of my favorite college running backs Nick Chubb from Georgia. Chubb ran in the hardest conference in college but he also took a ton of pounding having played in college for 4 years and 1 major injury. He rushed for 4,469 yards and 44 Touchdowns. Impressive numbers to do that against the quality of defenses in the SEC. Those are NFL caliber defenses he was facing. He’s joining Carlos Hyde, recently picked up from the 49ers and incumbent running back Duke Johnson, who is the top receiving threat out of the backfield. Johnson had 693 yards receiving last year with 74 catches and added 348 more yards on the ground. Carlos Hyde comes over in free agency after nearly rushing for 1,000 yards last year.

The NFL game is evolving and teams are adjusting. In today’s game, a valuable backup option is incredibly important. Beefing up your depth chart is critical. If the Eagles went cheap on their backup quarterback last year, they don’t end that very lengthy Super Bowl drought. Teams are adopting this mindset because they  know the value of having backups that can be starters on some teams. Obviously the biggest team that sticks out here is the Cleveland Browns being in both of my notable Duos. The one thing I don’t think the Browns did was replaced Hugh Jackson, I think with the free agents they brought in, they need a different man leading them into battle. Most of these teams are playoff contenders, valuable backups are relevent of all these Duos.

 

 

Sports: Bo Jackson, The All-Time Best Athlete We Hardly Got To See

Bo Jackson was the first super human athlete we’ve seen. Long before he became an NFL and MLB star he was a childhood, school yard legend. The stories of Bo were all said to be true. Stories that were mythical, like jumping a Volkswagen, dunking a stick into a basketball hoop in 8th grade, or killing a pastor’s pig because he threw a rock too hard. All were said to be true stories.

However, Jackson eventually put his special athleticism to good use in football, baseball, and track. Bo caught the eye of baseball kingpin, George Steinbrenner while in high school. In 1982, The Boss, as they called Steinbrenner wanted Bo to be a starting Outfielder for the pinstripes and took him in the second round. Bo’s first love was always baseball. Bo’s high school coach let Steinbrenner send his top scout to Alabama to see Bo hit in the cage, on the first pitch he saw he hit a rocket back to the screen causing the cage to collapse on both of them. The scout had seen enough and the Yankees drafted him in the 2nd. He chose another path, not many players have the moxie to say ‘No’ to Steinbrenner, but Bo Knows what he’s doing. He chose to be a star in College first, then became one of the most ridiculous athletes of all-time.

Jackson opted to take the college route. Before committing to Auburn, Coach Bear Bryant Bo Auburn 2showed up to Bo’s house twice to recruit him to the Crimson Tide. Bryant told Bo that he probably wouldn’t see game action until late in his sophomore season or junior year. That wasn’t good enough for Bo. He chose Auburn because they knew his worth and his value. Bo Jackson played a huge part in changing the outcome of the Iron Bowl as well as future recruiting. Alabama had a stranglehold on that rivalry game for 9 years prior to Bo beating Alabama in the final seconds in 1982. Being a state record holder in the high jump, Bo took the ball over the goal line for the win. Auburn was going to allow him to play baseball, football, and track. While at Auburn, he was the SEC player of the year in 1985, Heisman trophy winner in 1985 and a 2 time all-american in football. Jackson was set to be the highest paid NFL player in history had he stuck with one sport.  While playing baseball at Auburn he played 3 seasons, one of which was cut short due to being ruled ineligible by the NCAA. His breakout season coming in 1985, Jackson hit .401 with 17 home runs and 43 RBI’s.

Jackson was set to be the number 1 overall pick in the upcoming football draft and teams were unsure of which sport Bo was going to choose. One team in particular invited Jackson for a physical during his senior year baseball season, Jackson asked the organization if he was breaking any NCAA rules. The Buccaneers were the team that ensured Bo he wasn’t breaking any rules. The NCAA was notified of this trip to Tampa and Bo was ruled ineligible by the NCAA. Something he has never forgot. Tampa cost him a chance to be a first round player in the MLB draft; more importantly a chance to play the game he loved most, baseball. Bo was drafted first overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. To this day, Bo Jackson despises the Buccaneers organization because he feels they screwed him so he was going to screw them twice as hard.They drafted him number 1 overall in 1986, but chose to not ever sign with them. He chose to play baseball instead. Here you have the number 1 pick who is due to make a fortune playing football, decides to turn that down to play baseball and started in double A Memphis taking a bus to games. He fell to the 4th round to the Kansas City Royals because teams were hesitant, not knowing which sport Bo would choose. Huge gamble for the former Heisman trophy winner.

bo-jackson-nike

Well, that gamble paid off when he made his major league debut that same year. His first MLB game he faced off Hall of Famer Steve Carlton and he got an infield single on a ground ball hit to second base. Let me say that again, he beat out a ground ball to SECOND BASE. People weren’t used to seeing someone that big, 220lbs, run that fast. He also had one of the most explosive throwing arms of all-time. He was truly blessed being able to throw it on the fly with regularity about 400 feet. It was special to see. It’s crazy to think what Bo could have accomplished had he never played football. He considered football to be a ‘hobby’. Once baseball season ended, he played football as if it were fishing or hunting. Baseball was always his first true love but he had football in his soul. He was too good to not play football.

I’m thinking about adding another hobby to my offseason curriculum, and that’s all it would be. My number 1 priority is the Kansas City Royals. I have to do my job with the Kansas City Royals before I do anything else. Whatever comes after baseball is just a hobby for Bo Jackson, just like fishing and hunting.- Bo Jackson at a Press Conference

After a few seasons of baseball, Bo received a phone call asking if he’d play football again. His response was, “if its Tampa, you can forget about it.” His agent said it was the LA Raiders and he said “hell yeah.” Al Davis drafted Bo Jackson in the 7th round. Teams weren’t even considering Bo, nobody thought that he would play football. He came in and played with Future Hall of Famer, Marcus Allen putting together a pretty scary duo.

Bo Marcus

Jackson must have been pretty special if you come into LA and make Raiders fan kind of forget about hall of fame running back Marcus Allen, obviously an exaggeration but he had incredible moments. For a player who never liked to practice. A player who would sometimes get into arguments with coaches about running too much during practice. This just adds to the legacy of Bo Jackson, his talents were incredibly natural and god-given. Everything changed in 1 playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals in 1990 after being tackled by LB Kevin Walker. It didn’t look like anything that serious at the time but because of the force of Bo Jackson’s running style it causes his hip to pop out. Complications caused this to end his career in football and career with the Royals. However, Bo Jackson looked former teammate George Brett in the eye and said, “I’ll be back.” The White Sox took a chance on him, only playing 23 games in 1991. He had hip replacement surgery that spring and rehabbed vigorously getting into the shape of his life after missing all of the 1992 season. He played in 85 games in 1993 and then announced his retirement from baseball.

My workout was running down fly balls, stealing a base, or running for my life on the football field.- Bo Jackson on not liking practice

Bo Jackson, is the only player in history that has made the pro bowl and an All-Star in the MLB. He was a very special player on the field. We’ve never seen anyone that big and run that fast. The bat speed and arm strength he showed matched that of countless hall of famers. Unfortunately, we as fans only get to see a few glimpses of what Bo Jackson would have been. His career was cut down incredibly short. He was a once in a lifetime type of athlete and his legend should never be forgotten for any sports fan. The Nike campaign ‘Bo Knows’ perfectly portrays it perfectly, Bo Jackson could have played any sport he wanted. Truly a gifted athlete. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFL: Turning Over a New Leaf

Largely known as being one of the biggest busts of all-time, Ryan Leaf is transforming his image and persona and is trying to tell his story to upcoming, young football prospects. After his brief stint in the NFL, things only got worse for Leaf before they got better. Leaf has spent almost the same amount of time in the NFL has he has in Prison, 32 months in prison and a 4 year NFL career. Leaf’s NFL career is a distant memory and he is making the most out of his second attempt at life.

I don’t believe I was meant to be a professional quarterback… I was meant to have these life experiences and be an impact on others who’ve struggled.- Ryan Leaf

leaf manning

Ryan Leaf was a Heisman finalist along with Peyton Manning that year. They were drafted 1 and 2. They had much different pedigrees. Manning, was a NFL QB’s son and a much more clean-cut person than was Leaf. Ryan Leaf always held himself to a much higher standard because he was always linked to Peyton. Something he can never shake.

About 14 years ago, Ryan Leaf was prescribed Vicodin to nurse a wrist injury and abused it for a few years until he got clean in 2008. Leaf dealt with two relapses by 2011. In 2011, Leaf was diagnosed with a brain tumor mixed with radiation, he then spiraled out of control with his Vicodin addiction. He was the Quarterbacks coach for West Texas A & M from 2006-2008 but resigned after he asked one of his players for pain medication and was even caught stealing players’ pain medication.

leaf clean cut.jpg

In 2014, Leaf was found guilty of felony burglary and possession of dangerous drugs. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison but was released after 32 months. While being in bracelets behind bars, Leaf was able to get a much clearer perception of life and love. He has had everything taken from him, which was completely on him. He is now doing the best he can to ensure the new generation doesn’t fall into the same trap. Recently reaching out to Johnny Manziel and Baker Mayfield.

The fact that I played football tends to get our foot in the door to maybe some closed-minded people who wouldn’t necessarily take a look at getting help. Or they can relate maybe more to a guy who had everything, seemingly had everything, wasted it all, and has found this peaceful life.- Ryan Leaf

Leaf preaches time and again that he doesn’t blame anyone for not believing his new-found self is authentic, he’s at peace with that. He can’t say for sure if he’ll ever slide back into addiction but he has a day by day approach to life and constantly shares his past screw-ups with high school players and collegiate players. In 2017, he actually attended the draft for the first time since he was drafted by the Chargers in 1998 to analyze the players selected. A few years ago Ryan Leaf even wrote a letter to his younger self breaking down his life as you’ve never heard it before. The most honest person you’ve ever seen.  The only thing Leaf would change in his career path, would be that he treated people better. Can’t get mad at this man for wanting to use his past has a teaching tool to young standout players like he was. Not to make the same mistake he made.

So if I have just one piece of advice to leave you with, it would be … don’t be a dick, man. You’ll be amazed at how much you get back when you just treat other people with dignity and respect. And it feels pretty damn good.- Ryan Leaf in Letter To Younger Self

NFL: Early Prediction on Defensive Rookie of the Year

We look at the first round picks and we look at Minkah Fitzpatrick, Veta Vea, Bradley Chubb, and Derwin James. It comes down to the best defensive schemes and how these players are used. James and Fitzpatrick are two safeties with the ability to play multiple positions. Vea is a game changing interior lineman with quickness to pursue the quarterback. Chubb is the best pass rusher in this draft and will join Vonn Miller to form the most formidable pass rush in the league. Barring any injuries, of course. images

Chubb has the luxury of playing with the best DE/OLB in the game, Vonn Miller. Miller demands double teams on every play, therefore, Chubb will get a lot of one on one matchups. Miller has always excelled with another elite pass rusher. Playing with Elmis Dumervil and Demarcus Ware. Chubb will come in right away and dominate the weak side. As a Chargers fan, this scares me. It’s bad enough having to worry about Vonn every play, but now two elite pass rushers isn’t going to be much fun for Philip Rivers.

You can never have enough good pass rushers, and we’ve got another good pass rusher, but also a really good football player. – John Elway

Veta Vea, the 6’5, 340 pound DT from Washington will come in and help the Buccs up 204254_Utah_WASH_36_211241-780x506front from day 1. According to pro football focus, Veta is rated top 10 in pass rush and run stopping measurements. Vea played RB in high school, which is why he has the quickness to run down quarterbacks.

The Dolphins snagged one of the top rated defense play makers in Minkah Fitzpatrick, who can line up at CB and S, as well as LB at times. Alabama has been a factory for putting out NFL caliber defense players under Nick Saban. He produces savages on defense. Therefore, Fitzpatrick has already been in an NFL scheme in college so his learning curve is a lot less. He’s NFL ready right now. With Tom Brady in the division, this is a solid pickup for the Dolphins. DROY

Finally, my favorite pick to be the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, partly because of the defensive coordinator, Derwin James. The Chargers got one of the biggest steals in the draft at number 17 with this FSU standout. James has a little Kam Chancellor, a little Eric Berry, and a little Sean Taylor, RIP! This is a pretty good pickup for the Bolts to go with Legion of Boom founder, Gus Bradley, who knows what to do with elite safeties. James looks to join Joey Bosa has the other Chargers teammate to win Defensive Rookie of the Year.

We were watching as the draft was going, and teams were making trades up.  So we were hesitant, but hoping.  We knew we were going to have a good player there, but to have a guy of Derwin James’ caliber, athleticism, speed, football intelligence, the way he competes and really just how he is as a player, for have him be there for us was a great pick.  He really jumps out on film, so we are really excited about the skill set that he offers.- Gus Bradley

2018 is going to be an exciting year for defensive players. James and Fitzpatrick are going to be linked together forever. They’re both a hybrid safety with crazy balls skills, James is a harder hitter but they both can play all over the field. Veta Vea is a rarity with his unique strength/size and quickness, he’ll be a 3 down DT meaning he can stay on the field on passing downs. Finally Chubb will form a terrifying duo with Vonn Miller in the Mile High City. We’ll be watching closely as the class has some seriously scary talent in it. This will be a very tight race between these 4 players, and possibly some more players will join the party as the season kicks off.