Reggie Bush gave his 2005 Heisman trophy back in 2012 following several years of NCAA investigations into the allegations that sports agent Lloyd Lake and business partner Michael Michaels gave Bush gifts that included hotel stays, a rent-free home for his family, and a limousine ride and suit for the 2005 Heisman Trophy ceremony.
Lake had expectations that Bush would return the favor by being his meal ticket, and when that didn’t happen, Lake sued Bush for $300,000 and cooperated with the NCAA investigation.
Now that the NCAA has relented on the idea, though they were forced to do so, that players are able to capitalize on their Name, Image and Likeness while in school, and make money off their notoriety, Reggie Bush wants his Heisman Trophy back.
But at UnafraidShow, we know exactly who that trophy belongs to:
Reggie Bush doesn’t need to be in physical possession of the Heisman Trophy for us to acknowledge who it belongs to. His 2,218 yards from scrimmage, and 9.4 yards per touch that season electrified college football fans everywhere, and fueled an undefeated Pac-10 season that capped off 23-consecutive conference wins.
The trophy is not only his, but because of the NCAA contending that it isn’t his, much like with the Baseball Hall of Fame keeping Pete Rose on the outside looking in, the first name we’re going to think of every time we hear the word Heisman is Reginald Alfred Bush Jr.
Here are his highlights to remind you of exactly what the NCAA is trying to make you forget:
Here are some of the better takes out in the Twittersphere:
The 2021 Pac-12 Media Day took place in Hollywood, California on Tuesday, July 27th, and the comments of new commissioner George Kliavkoff, as well as all 12 head coaches were streamed on Pac-12.com.
With last year’s media day being cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this was the first time many of the Pac-12’s players and coaches have been able to gather in one place since the 2019 offseason.
Here were my takeaways from an interesting day of interviews:
The Media Picks Oregon and USC (As Usual)
For the fourth time since the formation of the Pac-12, the media picked both Oregon to win the North Division, and USC to win the South Division. Here are the results of the media poll:
1. Oregon (38)
1. USC (27)
2. Washington (2)
2. Utah (6)
3. Arizona State (6)
4. UCLA (1)
5. Oregon State
6. Washington State
If history has taught us anything, it’s that the majority of any conference’s media members have a fairly decent handle on the team they cover… and not much else. So for the Pac-12 media to roll with last year’s Pac-12 Title Game representatives is no surprise. My personal Pac-12 picks look a little different than the media poll:
1. Arizona State
4. Washington State
6. Oregon State
I’m sure George Wrighster will hate this, but if I picked Oregon to go undefeated he’d probably find a way to criticize me for saying Oregon wouldn’t hold every opponent scoreless, so if he’s going to be mad anyway, I might as well pick his rival school to win the Pac-12 North. As far as the South, while I know Arizona State is embroiled in scandal, I’m always a huge believer in returning talent, and almost the entire Sun Devil roster returns, along with some transfer portal upgrades at tight end and on the offensive line.
Evaluating the Media’s All-Pac 12 Team
One advantage of covering high school football and recruiting is being able to make an educated guess on which players might be poised to have a breakout season rather than just relying on the previous year’s stats. Below are the Pac-12 media selections for the first and second teams headed into the 2021 season, and below that is my take:
First Team Offense
Second Team Offense
Kedon Slovis, USC
Jayden Daniels, Arizona State
Jarek Broussard, Colorado
CJ Verdell, Oregon
Max Borghi, Washington State
Rachaad White, Arizona State
Drake London, USC
Johnny Johnson III, Oregon
Kyle Philips, UCLA
Britain Covey, Utah
Cade Otton, Washington
Greg Dulcich, UCLA
Jaxson Kirkland, Washington
Nathan Eldridge, Oregon State
Abraham Lucas, Washington State
Sataoa Laumea, Utah
Dohnovan West, Arizona State
Michael Saffell, California*
Nick Ford, Utah
Kellen Diesch, Arizona State
Alex Forsyth, Oregon
Sean Rhyan, UCLA
First Team Defense
Second Team Defense
Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
Tyler Johnson, Arizona State
Mika Tafua, Utah
Nick Figueroa, USC
Thomas Booker, Stanford
Tuli Tuipulotu, USC
Jermayne Lole, Arizona State
Terrance Lang, Colorado
Devin Lloyd, Utah
Noah Sewell, Oregon
Drake Jackson, USC
Edefuan Ulofoshio, Washington
Nate Landman, Colorado
Avery Roberts, Oregon State
Mykael Wright, Oregon
Isaiah Pola-Mao, USC
Trent McDuffie, Washington
Mekhi Blackmon, Colorado
Chase Lucas, Arizona State
Evan Fields, Arizona State
Chris Steele, USC
Verone McKinley III, Oregon
First Team Specialists
Second Team Specialists
Jadon Redding, Utah
Lucas Havrisik, Arizona
Michael Turk, Arizona State
Ben Griffiths, USC
Thomas Booker, Stanford
D.J. Taylor, Arizona State
Britain Covey, Utah
D.J. Taylor, Arizona State
As far as the preseason offensive first team, the only guarantees I see (pending a healthy season for all involved) are Kedon Slovis and Drake Jackson. That is the premier QB-to-WR connection in the Pac-12, and I don’t see anyone stopping them this year. One receiver that belongs on the first team, and I believe hell prove it this year, is Washington State’s Travell Harris. As far as the running back position, it would be unwise to doubt Colorado’s Jarek Broussard, but I have Arizona State winning the Pac-12 South on the strength of their running game. Perhaps Broussard will share first team honors with Rachaad White.
On the defensive end, many of the picks the media made are fairly obvious. Nate Landman, depending on his health, could potentially lead the entire country in tackles, and Kayvon Thibodeaux has a genuine shot at an average of at least one sack per game. The only head scratcher for me here is Chris Steele. Yes, he has a great pedigree, and yes, he plays for the celebrated Trojans, but he struggled mightily last year. I’d shift Isaiah Pola Mao into a spot on the first team, and consider giving some love to a very talented (but not always well-coached) Christian Roland-Wallace at Arizona.
The Debut of the Pac-12’s Savior (?) George Kliavkoff
George Kliavkoff had a low bar to clear after years and years of Larry Scott’s annual Media Day speeches touting the exploits of badminton and windsurfing while failing to address the pressing questions about network negotiations and distribution.
In my opinion, Kliavkoff cleared that bar and then some. He acknowledged the conference’s inconsistent past while outlining its future, a future that might include adding teams that currently exist in the Central Time Zone, in the fertile recruiting ground of Texas (hint, hint).
He wasn’t perfect in his responses- at one point upholding the idea that paying players from the revenue they are largely responsible for bringing in would ruin college football, but he was good. Here are some of the highlights:
On Playoff expansion
“The Pac-12 is in favor of CFP expansion. We believe allowing more teams and athletes to compete for a national championship is a win for the Pac-12 and for our football players. We appreciate the work that was done to push forward the initial 12-team proposal. There’s much about the proposal that we like, but the Pac-12 and the other conferences that were not part of the two-year process to create the proposal will need some time to collect feedback from our stakeholders and identify any issues that need addressing. As we identify these issues, we will work collaboratively with our CFP partners to recommend an expansion plan that increases access, takes into account the best interest of our student-athletes and also preserves the rich traditions of college football.”
On setting up a football working group
“Consistent with my meeting with our ADs in Las Vegas, I can confirm that every decision the conference makes related to football is on the table for discussion. We will look at our conference schedules, including the number of conference games that we play and the start time of each game. We will look at our non-conference schedule. We will evaluate whether having divisions does or does not make sense, and work collectively to keep our very best recruits in our markets and to market our league to recruits everywhere. The football working group will begin meeting immediately and provide regular updates and recommendations to me and our board.”
On Pac-12 Networks distribution
“I wish distribution was better, but some of our current and existing distribution contracts make it very difficult to expand distribution under the current model. I think we have to look forward to 2024 and set our fans’ expectations that that’s when we’ll be able to reset the distribution. I wish more people could see the incredibly high quality, good content that our network produces. But just being honest, the distribution is not where I would like it to be.”
On Pac-12 priorities
“I want to be 100 percent clear that going forward the Pac-12 Conference will make all of our football-related decisions with the combined goals of optimizing CFP invitations and winning national championship. This is a decision fully supported by all 12 of our athletic directors.”
Thoughts on the North Division
Cal’s Justin Wilcox led the day off, and with the news of star DL Brett Johnson out for the year with a hip injury, and starting OL Michael Saffell retiring, I was looking for any hint of excitement for the upcoming season. I feel like Wilcox delivered that excitement when he reminded the media that Chase Garbers is a very good quarterback:
“I think Chase is primed for a great season, I really do. He’s played a ton of football, he’s got a lot of different experiences, his comfort level at practice and within the scheme, he’s operating and confident – I think that just comes with age and time. I think that for all of us, it’s just the consistency in our performance. He’s had some great moments in great games like the rest of the team has, now it’s finding that consistency.”
I was also impressed with Wilcox’s take on the Name, Image and Likeness era:
“We have put together a program called GOLDEN which is centered around NIL for all our student-athletes. It’s a resource and provides guidance for them. In terms of education, contracts, negotiations, tax implications. We’ve had a number of players that have entered into agreements within NIL. I think it’s going to be months, maybe even years, before it sorts itself out. I think it’s long overdue. I’m in full support of it. With our location being in the Bay Area, there’s going to be a number of opportunities for the players on our team.”
Next up was Washington State’s Nick Rolovich, and the media response was almost either baffled or scornful, if not both. Rolovich elected to not get vaccinated, which meant he couldn’t attend Pac-12 Media Day in person. His press conference was zoomed in while the Hollywood media tried to get around his pre-written statement about keeping his reasoning private.
What was interesting is that Rolovich still touted the state of Washington’s high vaccination rate as well as encouraged his players to get vaccinated if they felt it was right for them.
Look, it’s possible that Nick Rolovich’s doctor advised him that a medical condition or medication may have negative interactions with the Covid-19 vaccine, and it’s even possible that Rolovich values his privacy enough to create a secondary inconvenience of ridicule in order to keep his justification a secret.
It’s also possible that Rolovich is among the large subsection of the population that it afraid of a Bill Gates microchip implant.
Third up was Oregon State’s Jonathan Smith. The most painful part of having Pac-12 Media Day in Los Angeles is that there are only a few coaches the LA media show any interest in, and a couple that they outright ignore. Smith has been that guy for years, and it was Gary Andersen before him. Oregon State just doesn’t move the needle for those Hollywood-types (even though there’s over 30 California athletes on his team that that could certainly find time to ask about).
Smith says the Beavers have a four-way QB battle, and this is how he broke it down:
“(Tristan) should be healthy in August here to practice. I think he’s got a great skill set. Understands the scheme, good leader. He has won games for us.”
“We added Sam after spring ball and he’s a guy that’s has won games at quarterback in this league. Has a little bit different skill set, makes the game physical, moving his feet, big-time arm. We’re anxious to work with him coming in August.”
“Chance Nolan has started multiple games, we were really close the last couple of games with him as the starting quarterback. Counting on him making huge strides in his game from year one to year two.“
“Excited about Sam Vidlak. He had a great spring. He’s going to have an opportunity this August to go.“
David Shaw practically won the day by coming out and repeatedly saying he expects to compete for a conference championship. That attitude was certainly a surprise to many who have noted there’s been a slip in Stanford’s recruiting to go along with a difficulty in keeping their own non-NFL ready seniors around for graduate school.
But it was Shaw’s invocation of Nick Saban’s name in relation to his comments about Bryce Young and the NIL opportunities at Alabama that had the media talking:
The thing that David Shaw said that I appreciated most, however, was that early and late kickoffs don’t serve the student athletes:
Washington’s Jimmy Lake rocked the boat a bit when he announced that Dylan Morris is the presumed starter, but is also still competing for the QB job- other than that, Lake’s Pac-12 Media Day experience was more about being able to finally face the media as Washington’s head coach- something he didn’t get to do last year because of the pandemic.
I found his answer about recruiting outside the traditional Pac-12 footprint to be fascinating and worth considering for some of the teams in the conference that have put abundant amounts of energy into recruiting SEC and ACC country:
“I don’t think we need to do that. I think there’s always special cases where we can go outside of our footprint where there’s a connection. We’ve actually had players that are Washington football fans, their dream was to play at Washington. If there’s a special connection like that, for sure. But we feel there’s enough talent in the footprints that we currently recruit in to win the Pac-12 and be on that national stage, which we’ve been on. Now we just have to make sure we win those football games we’ve been in, those three New Year’s 6 games in a row that we went to for 2016 to 2018. We need to take that next step and win those football games. When we do that, there won’t be all this talk we need to go recruit way outside of our footprint, all those things. Again, I go back to the proof’s in the pudding of the best football in the world, the National Football League, loves our players. They love our players from our team. I go back to our recruiting department, our coaches selecting the right players and our strength and conditioning department making sure that they develop these players the right way. But there’s always going to be — what I never want to do is take my attention somewhere way far away and then miss out on the players that are right around us. We’ve been very, very successful with the players that are on our current footprint. But we never want to handcuff ourselves. If there is somebody that is outside our footprint and we have a special need, we will go get those guys, for sure.”
Last for the south, Oregon coach Mario Cristobal, who immediately sung the praises of Anthony Brown, last year’s backup to Tyler Shough who was seemingly given the reigns during last year’s Fiesta Bowl:
“Anthony will start with the ones. He has earned that. He’s done a very good job from a performance standpoint, leadership performance, taking on (offensive coordinator and quarterbacks) coach (Joe) Moorhead’s offensive scheme. At the same time the freshmen behind him have done an excellent job as well. It merits them getting an opportunity to compete for that position as well. We will make that happen. I think technically and fundamentally the quarterback position never ceases, right?” Cristobal said. “You’re always looking for the next best thing to help you from a technical and fundamental standpoint. I think now after having done, having experienced coach Moorhead’s coaching style, sitting in meetings with him, reviewing film, then experiencing spring ball in the off-season with our players, a lot of the stuff that he takes home with him, he can apply to those training sessions as well. He’s done that. There’s always carryover when you do that. I think our players sense it, our team senses it. I think he’s poised to have a really big season. We’re excited for him.”
Cristobal lapped praise on incoming freshman QB Ty Thompson, and talked about building versatility amongst his offensive linemen, but the most interesting thing he said was in response to whether continued success in the Pac-12 had put a target on their backs:
“I never and we will never see ourselves as a program with a bullseye on us, a target on us. It’s never been that way, never will be that way. When we wake up in the morning, our feet hit the ground, we wake up with a hunger, drive, determination to make sure we’re always a hunter in a humble way, driven way.”
Thoughts on the South Division
Herm Edwards, fresh off the paid administrative leave announcement of TE coach Adam Breneman, called the NCAA investigation into recruiting improprieties a “review” and said it wasn’t a distraction to the team. Edwards announced, as Merton Hanks had reiterated before him, that no one would be answering questions about this “review,” but I’m disappointed that the Pac-12 media put zero effort into finding practical ways around that.
Either way, Herm was as smooth as ever, and found a way to say a lot about his team without talking about the things that were on everyone’s mind.
Of course, I’m picking Arizona State to have the best record in the Pac-12, so the quote I gravitated toward most was about the experienced secondary:
“I think we’ve got some gifted players back there, some talented guys that can play sticky defense, that can play man-to-man, cover guys. I think they’re excited about that. Three or four of them have played together now for two or three years. They’re very comfortable. The communication is what I like the most. Have to change certain things because of different looks or formations, motions. The communication with the secondary is much cleaner than it’s been. That’s important. You have to communicate. You have so many different elements back there, you all have to be on the same page. Chase (Lucas) is a prime example. You can just tell the way he walks around, the way he talks. He’s the team captain. It’s fun to watch him develop from the years I’ve been here to where he’s at right now. I’m excited for those guys.”
The one thing Herm said that confused me was that Arizona State’s offense was going to need to average in the high-30’s to give the Sun Devils a chance. Statistically, scoring in the high 30’s has mostly resulted in mediocrity, with a couple of notable outliers:
Kyle Wittingham has had to guide Utah through an awful year, followed by an awful offseason after the loss of star RB Ty Jordan to an accidental shooting. He addressed the loss of Jordan in his remarks:
“It was tough to deal with the Ty Jordan situation, still is. Fortunately, our administration is committed. We have a full department that’s committed, that’s dedicated to mental health and counselors that our players can talk to and visit with,” the coach responded. “We try to make it a point of emphasis to our players that it’s not a sign of weakness to seek mental health assistance. That’s part of life. It’s the same as being physically ill. If you need to get help, see somebody, there’s no shame or no stigma attached to that. I think our coaches, our assistant coaches, have done a really good job of conveying that to our players. Our players seem to do a really good job of taking advantage of the resources that we do have.”
Sometimes I listed to Wittingham speak and wonder what he could do with the type of talent that comes from coaching in a city that recruits itself. Don’t get me wrong, I love Salt Lake City, but put this man in Seattle or LA and I’m not sure anyone else wins the conference for the next decade. He’s a good and wise man, and seems to have a knack for developing football players.
Chip Kelly brought his modest, calm, no-nonsense demeanor in full on Tuesday, but I respect it. Any time he didn’t have the answer to a question, he said “I don’t know,” and then went into detail about exactly why he didn’t know. It wasn’t all boring, however. I thought he had some really insightful things to say about both his multi-year starter QB Dorian Thompson Robinson, as well as the benefits of being part of Jordan Brand.
Chip Kelly on DTR
“I think the beauty is having Dorian for four years. He didn’t get an opportunity to play in high school until his senior year. Played wide receiver as a junior because they had another quarterback that was a pretty good player. He came in, just kind of jumped in both feet. Every day Dorian is always striving to get better. He’s just a joy to coach. You love kids like that, that are thirsty for knowledge, have that kind of growth mindset that we always talk about. We want our players to have that. That’s what he has. I’m really excited to see where he is right now. I know he’s in the best shape of his life. He’s worked extremely hard in the weight room, on the field, throwing with receivers, organizing everything that goes on in the summer program, because the coaches aren’t allowed to be around them till this Friday. We have great expectations of him. Our expectations of him are no bigger than his expectations of himself. It’s all borne out of his work ethic. He’s got a great work ethic.”
Chip Kelly on Jordan Brand
“It’s such an iconic brand and I think everybody wants to be associated with an iconic brand. But I’ve always been just a big fan of the product. I think sometimes that gets glossed over, what a good product it is. I had a chance to check things out with our equipment guy, seeing all the new stuff that came in and the prototype cleats that Jordan has, what that is going to provide with us, especially our big guys. We do have some really big guys on our team and the product itself will support those guys. Two-fold, I think it will help us in recruiting because everybody wants to be associated with it. But I think the product that we have is outstanding and I’m really excited to get these guys using it.”
I think it’s crazy how easy it is to forget that Karl Dorrell, to this day, has probably been around his team no more than a few dozen times. Colorado hired Dorrell last year, and Dorrell didn’t get to meet his team until the season was getting ready to kick off in the fall. This is basically his first offseason, and he’s got a lot of work ahead of him if he’s going to keep the Buffaloes on an upward trajectory. Offensively, he praised the potential of his wide receiver group:
“That group has skill. The receiver group has skill. We’re continually have to refine that skill where the talent is consistent. That’s the way I would say it. I’m a hard-ass receiver coach, though, right? I’ve done that most of my career. There’s definitely some really good talent in that group. It’s young, but it’s young. That’s the part that they have to grow and have a level of consistency that needs to be better than where it is.”
Dorrell also went into great detail to address the uncertainty at quarterback:
“It’s a two-man race between Brendon Lewis and J.T. Shrout. We think they’re both very qualified, capable players. If you remember what Brendon did in the bowl game, his first time playing college football end of the season in the bowl game, I would say he had a passing grade. He did really well. He did some positive things that I would say any first-year quarterback might have done poorly. He was able to do those things in a positive way. So that confidence from the bowl game has given him a great level of confidence going through the whole off-season, going through spring. He’s a completely different player now than where he was last fall. I would say with J.T. Shrout, being a kid that just transferred in, in a short period of time he digested our offense. He spent the overtime hours to do that to get himself a chance to compete. Both of those guys have great leadership qualities as well along with their physical talent. They have really good leadership qualities. All of our players offensively respond to both of them in a positive way. It’s not like they dislike one and like the other. Everybody on offense really thoroughly enjoy both of those guys under center. It’s a competition in that two-man race with those two. When will we make that determination? That will be somewhere in the middle of training camp, I would say. At least not until the first couple weeks. Trying to get all the information in. It’s going to be a day-by-day test, right? They’re going to be assessed on everything about how they run the offense, the mistakes they make, the plays that they do make, everything like that. We’re going to account for everything as we go through that process.”
Jedd Fisch pumped a shot of energy into the room just before the end of the day and it was a lot of fun to watch.
Only a couple of media members were able to get questions in, as it didn’t seem that there were many in the LA Media clamoring for content from the first year coach from Tucson. You’d figure he’d at least get a few UCLA-Rosen related questions from his last stint in the Pac-12 as an assistant, but no.
Fisch addressed a lot of what Arizona has done to rebuild pride in the program after the 70-7 loss to ASU that ended Kevin Sumlin’s tenure, but the most practical question has to do with the three-way QB battle to replace Grant Gunnell, and here’s what he had to say about that:
“The hardest position to evaluate without a football would be the quarterback position because you can’t ever see them throw. But we have had that two hours a week that we have the opportunity to meet with him. We’ve had two hours a week that we’ve been able to during that time also be able to do some drill work. We’ve been able to do some team runs and evaluate and watch how he is there. I love just to see how he interacts with his teammates. Jordan is doing good. We’ve got a nice 3-headed monster, Jordan, Gunner (Cruz) and Will (Plummer). We’d like to see one of them step up and be the guy. Right now we’ll go 33, 33, 33 for a 99-play practice. I would hope (McCloud is at a disadvantage by arriving after Plummer and Cruz had time with the playbook) because those other guys, if they didn’t get anything out of the coaching in the spring, we got major problems. I hope (Jordan McCloud) is at a major disadvantage, but unfortunately I feel like he’s just at a disadvantage. I’ll talk to Coach Dougherty about that later (laughs). I think he’s doing a great job of trying to catch up, trying to learn this thing quick from what I understand. But, yeah, I mean, it’s going to be hard because those guys took almost every single rep. Whoever moves the ball the best in every period we have- Who moves the football, who gets us down in the red zone, who scores touchdowns. We’ll have a lot of competitive practices. I believe we’re going to have a very good defense this year. Let’s see what we can do. See if we can move the ball. Whoever does that will be the starting quarterback.”
USC fans hate Clay Helton. They think he stands in the way of a return to greatness, and his Southern kindness in the face of their constant pressure makes the blood of Angelinos and Trojan faithful boil unlike anything I’ve ever seen. That’s why I had a good laugh when in response to a question about how they plan to have a good season since there have been “not that many over the last few years.”
Helton referenced the pressure to win as a privilege. It’s the exact type of thing that drives USC fans insane:
“I love USC because you know what the standard is? Championships. You can be at USC and win every game but one. If it’s the last one, it’s looked at as a bad season. That’s being at a special place. You can have an undefeated regular season and win a Pac-12 championship game and everybody is sad. That’s a special place to be. So when you’re at a place that’s won 11 national championships, you know the standard of excellence and you know what’s demanded. We welcome that. We welcome it as players, we welcome it as coaches. That’s why we all came to USC. Our job right now is to get back to that championship game and to win that game because we know when we win that game, it opens the doors to the Playoff and the national championship opportunities. That mentality I talked about earlier of going in to each and every game, trying to be 1-0, getting back to that championship game, winning that game, opening those doors, that’s what USC is about. Other programs may have other standards. It’s not what we’re about here. That’s the beauty of USC, is not only being in that championship game but winning it. That’s why we work so hard at what we do to be back there and to win it. Thanks for that question.”
The one thing I was most curious to hear about from Helton was the Name, Image and Likeness topic, being that USC is the most likely place those type of deals would occur in the Pac-12. Here’s what he had to say:
“Yeah, we’ve been living it, as you know. We’ve been living it for a while just being in the city of Los Angeles. You’re talking about the number one college media market in the country, the number two pro media market in the country. You’re talking about a city that is based on one-word names. I think of LeBron and Kobe, Snoop, JuJu. That’s part of being in Los Angeles, being in a championship city, a championship market. There’s an advantageous thing to that. I watched JuJu before name, image and likeness was even there, our university be proactive in helping him build his brand and build his platform that enabled him to walk into the NFL and have tremendous opportunities. I’m thankful for the resources USC has given because I think universities are going to have to do three things in this standpoint. We’ve lived it. We’ve been proactive as a university. I think one, you’re going to have to provide support, which our university has done with the merger of J1S, to be able to provide content, social media direction. I think you’re going to have to provide compliance of what’s right and wrong to do within it. Then I think you’re going to have to provide knowledge. In our merger with ALTIS, being able to say what’s a good decision or bad decision as you move forward. At the end of the day, like I tell our players, remember the most important thing, it’s great now in name, image and likeness that you have marketing teams that can do their job and be able to find you opportunities. But what’s your job as a student-athlete? Your job as a student-athlete is to get your degree, to be a master of your craft on and off the field when it comes to academics and athletics, and to put yourself in an extremely positive light of how you represent yourself, your family, your team, your university. If you focus on those three things, whether it’s your degree, mastering your craft on the field, how you present yourself on a day-to-day basis, I promise you opportunities are going to come out. I watched is with JuJu Smith-Schuster before there was name, image and likeness. I watched it with Michael Pittman, what he did at USC. If you concentrate on those three things, have the support, knowledge and compliance along with it like our university provides, you’re going to do great things. That’s why our kids come to USC.”
The only beef I had with Clay Helton today was that it didn’t feel as if they had a legitimate Heisman candidate in Kedon Slovis, but it’s possible that’s more of a critique of the energy of the Pac-12 Media as a whole…
Winners and Losers
Three winners from today’s event are unquestionably commissioner George Kliavkoff, David Shaw and Jedd Fisch.
Kliavkoff impressed the local and national media with his comprehension and candor, while managing to impress the athletic directors and coaches even more. Everyone spoke about being excited about the direction and possibilities moving forward.
David Shaw’s enthusiasm for his program and courage to attack tough subjects with well thought out and articulated opinions really helped him stand out amongst a group of coaches that all have fairly dynamic personalities (expect for Chip Kelly).
Jedd Fisch came in on a hot streak of having impressed the Wildcat alumni and fan base with almost every move he’s made since his hire was roundly mocked, and he brought the same energy into his appearance at Media Day. If personality can help win games, we all might regret picking the Wildcats last in the Pac-12 South.
Three losers? Well, beyond the fairly obvious inclusion of Nick Rolovich for reasons that may or may not be outside his control, I’d have to add Merton Hanks, and the Big-12 Conference.
Merton Hanks, the Pac-12’s Senior Associate Commissioner, decided to take a serious break from the candor displayed by commissioner George Kliavkoff to let everybody know that they’ve completely invented their longstanding gripes with the way that Pac-12 football games are officiated:
Last on the list of losers, the Big 12. It’s bad enough that it was confirmed that Oklahoma and Texas are abondoning their conference to chase glory in the SEC, but when George Kliavkoff repeatedly mentioned that the Pac-12 would consider their options in the Central time zone, the Big 12 conference had to feel a brand new level of desperation to find a way to stay together as an entity.
Webb Streaming is back to take you through what content I’m watching, reading or enjoying this week.
This week’s top 5 Webb Streaming recommendations are below:
1- The Loki Season 1 Finale
Holy cow. What a way to end the series.
Michael Waldron, the shower’s main writer, has absolutely killed the dialogue. Whether it’s the seriousness of the show, or its moments of levity, this show just crushes it. Loki brings fresh life into the MCU and plays around with avant-garde ideas. If you’re looking for a Marvel show to bring you up after the Infinity Saga, Loki is your meal ticket. While Falcon & The Winter Soldier, or WandaVision were outstanding in their own right, This is by far Marvel’s best show to date.
Based on the hit children’s series by Trenton Lee Stewart, The Mysterious Benedict Society is a wonderful twist of puzzles, great and small, and uncovering the secrets behind a mass event known as the Emergency. The story is rather gripping and involves children going undercover in the fictitious town of Stonetown. While the show is generally made for children, you’ll still enjoy this show ifr you’re an adult in age, but a child at heart. Star Anthony Hale (Arrested Development) absolutely kills it. Between this, Harley Quinn, and Rugrats, Hale keeps himself busy.
3- Mario Golf: Super Rush
Mario Golf: Super Rush might be the crowning achievement in the Mario Golf arena. Not only does this game bring elements of Mario Kart, but the golf itself is incredible. The courses are perfect, the specialty courses deliver everything and then some. I can promise you’ll love this iteration of Mario Golf. If you ever want to play me in a game, here is my Nintendo Switch Friend Code: SW-8557-9540-0508.
Let’s get up on a game.
4- Secret Empire
While this is an older comic miniseries (2017), it truly was one of Marvel’s best events in recent history. A lot of people took umbrage with the notion of Captain America going Hydra. I personally thought it was brilliant. It reminded me of the Hulk Hogan WCW heel turn when he became Hollywood Hogan. It truly was a memorable experience and they made the most out of what they had with heel Captain America. The story showcased exactly how difficult it could be to try and take down the heart and soul of the Avengers. Nick Spencer absolutely killed this run and it might be one of my favorite modern stories.
The news of University of Texas and University of Oklahoma’s exploration of leaving the Big 12 rocked the college football world, especially with the news that their preferred destination is the SEC- the home of 11 of the last 15 National Champions. But what if the SEC wasn’t the only possible destination? What if the Pac-12 would actually be a better play?
Texas is no stranger to flirting with the possibility of conference hopping, but is the SEC the best home for them? The SEC is likely not as open to the idea of the Longhorn Network taking away from the overall shared pot of gold, and rival Texas A&M is certainly displeased with the idea of losing the exclusivity of being able to recruit as the state’s only SEC representative.
The Pac-12 would definitely be more open to the idea of acquiescing to some of the demands of Oklahoma and Texas, and the west coast is a fertile recruiting ground that the Sooners and Longhorns have both taken advantage of (see Heisman contenders Spencer Rattler and Bijan Robinson from the state of Arizona).
Addison Rae seems to have pissed off every single sports journalist on earth by posting a tweet of herself holding a microphone in front of an Ultimate Fighting Championship banner ahead of tonight’s UFC 264 with the caption “I studied broadcast journalism in college for 3 whole months to prepare for this moment.”
Yes, the caption is terrible. And yes, sports media is a competitive, expensive, exhausting grind that very few outside the ‘big J journalist’ bubble understand. But do we really think that Addison Rae got this opportunity based on the one class she took at LSU? Of course not. Addison Rae has 82 million followers on TikTok alone, and just like when UFC commissioner Dana White used comedian Joe Rogan to help grow the brand in the early days off MMA, the purpose of her presence is to expose the UFC to her massive and impressionable swarm of not-yet-able-to-rent-a-car followers.
Heading into his third year in the NFL, N’Keal Harry’s agent has requested that the New England Patriots find him a new home. Los Angeles-based lawyer and NFL Agent Jamal Tooson gave the following statement about the former first-round pick’s trade request, first reported by NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo:
For the record, I came up covering N’Keal Harry, first as a high school standout, and then later as a star receiver at Arizona State University. While Patriots fans are understandably upset at the idea that anyone would ask to be moved from their storied franchise, the trade request actually makes sense. Bill Belichick’s post-Tom Brady offense ranked tied for last in TD passes, 31st in completions, 30th in passing yards, and 27th in points per game. They return the same offensive coordinator in Josh McDaniels, and WR coach in Mick Lombardi, and in all likelihood, Cam Newton will take the majority of the snaps under center this year as 2021 first round draft pick Mac Jones develops.
In his first two years in New England, N’Keal Harry has battled injuries, and struggled to find a consistent role in the Patriots offense when he’s on the field. As his agent alluded to in his public comments about the trade request, Harry desires to be used as a downfield threat. To many Patriots fans, they see a receiver that struggles to create separation off the line of scrimmage, and so continuing to try and make use of him on shorter routes seems to be counterintuitive.
While Pats fans might be upset at Harry’s early production, and at the idea that he’s request a trade heading into his third season, if they don’t believe he’s going to ultimately fulfil their expectations, why wouldn’t they be behind the idea of attempting to get some compensation in return for finding a more fitting offense?
On N’Keal Harry’s end, it makes sense to attempt to position himself as a necessary offensive weapon on a team with a thriving (or at the very least, average) offense. It’s going to be increasingly difficult for N’Keal Harry to earn a second contract on a team whose wideouts from the 2020 season ranked 28th in total targets, and one of only three teams in the NFL without a single wide receiver on the roster to average over six targets per game (Eagles, Raiders).
Whether there’s a market for N’Keal Harry isn’t in question, what remains to be seen is just how motivated Bill Belichick is to finding a new home for Harry whilst seeking fair compensation in return. Assuming the Patriots do move N’Keal Harry, here are five trade destinations that make the most sense:
1. The Kansas City Chiefs
Any wideout would jump at the chance to play alongside Patrick Mahomes, as well as in an Andy Reid offense. What makes this a potentially great fit is that the Chiefs actually have a need for a bigger-bodied receiver after losing Sammy Watkins in free agency to the Baltimore Ravens. They have Marcus Kemp, Jody Fortson and Gehrig Dieter as developmental guys, so you know they have a desire to play a bigger wideout alongside speedy-but-diminutive threats Mecole Hardman and Tyreek Hill. N’Keal Harry could make an already unstoppable offense even more dangerous, but as Charles Goodman of Chiefs Wire pointed out, the $1.4 million and $3.2 million cap hits over the next two years might be a tough pill to swallow unless they believe Harry is going to pan out.
2. The Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert likes big receivers, and isn’t afraid to take risks downfield. While adding N’keal Harry would likely be more of a depth play in 2021, as Mike Williams and Keenan Allen are firmly entrenched as the top two receivers on the Chargers roster, one has to wonder if the Chargers plan on breaking the bank to keep Williams and Allen paired together beyond 2021. The dynamic duo is scheduled to make a combined $31 millions this season, and with Williams on the cusp on unrestricted free agency, and Allen due another $66 million in 2022-2024. Harry could give the Chargers the option of spending their money elsewhere in the 2022 offseason, while giving him some of the more mild weather that he thrived in as a collegiate standout.
3. The Jacksonville Jaguars
Urban Meyer likes big athletes with five-star pedigrees, and N’Keal Harry certainly has that going for him. The Jaguars are putting their franchise in the hands of a rookie QB in Trevor Lawrence, and the best thing they can do for him is surround him with as much talent as possible right out of the gate. The Jaguars have the resources and the cap room to make this happen without even breaking a sweat, and the capital with the fans to mark any risk that doesn’t pan out in the early going as a well intentioned experiment (for reference, see Tim Tebow).
4. The Green Bay Packers
Could one man’s trade request be the cure for another? Aaron Rodgers’ much-chronicled battle with the Green Bay front office has dragged on far longer than any Packers fan is comfortable with, but it looks like they’re ready to hang on to Rodgers no matter how hard the future hall of famer makes the lives of every single suit in that organization. Certainly adding one former first round pick at wide receiver isn’t going to cure all of the internal ills they have going on over there, but even if adding N’Keal Harry doesn’t tempt Aaron Rodgers to squash his many beefs and attempt to put together another MVP season in 2021, Jordan Love is going to need more weapons on the outside anyway.
5. The Denver Broncos
You might be looking at the Denver Broncos being included on this list and saying to yourself “why would N’Keal Harry want to go to a team that’s equally unsettled at the quarterback position?” Well, fellow class of 2016 5-star wideout Jerry Jeudy is a Denver Bronco, and one thing the Denver Broncos made sure to do was give him tons of opportunities to succeed. Jeudy was second in targets among rookies in 2020 despite being eighth in receptions. Through their growing pains, the Broncos at least made sure to take plenty of shots. The other thing I find appealing about this Broncos offense is the way Vic Fangio makes use of 6-4, 212 WR Tim Patrick. After two forgettable years in Denver, Patrick had 51 receptions and 6 touchdowns in 2021. That’s exactly the type of development and career rehabilitation N’Keal Harry needs.
Floyd Mayweather is fresh off what he calls (and I think we can all agree actually is), a “Legalized bank robbery” in his hundred-plus million dollar exhibition payday against YouTuber-turned-boxer, Logan Paul.
Whether it’s a real bout or an exhibition, if Floyd Mayweather stepping into a ring does anything, it just causes us to re-ignite the absurd and unresolvable debate of whether Floyd Mayweather is the greatest boxer of all time.
While I’m sure to get plenty of pushback from Money Mayweather’s always passionate fan base for not crowning him the best ever, I would be an absolute lunatic to deny that he’s the most skilled and successful defensive fighter of my lifetime.
He’s as good at defending himself as the 2003-2004 Detroit Pistons were at defending the entire NBA.
Am I making a weird comparison here? Sure, but I’m right. Here’s why:
If you push the action against Floyd, we’ve seen time and time again, the result will be will be pain and frustration. Trying to punch Floyd Mayweather is like trying to retrieve a ball from under a thick rosebush- even if you get what you came for, you’re going to get hurt.
But this last weekend, he couldn’t even muster the strength to knock out a regular citizen. You can make the argument that he had no incentive to do so, but I’m sure you’d agree that he had plenty of incentive against the opponents he faced over the previous two decades, right? Well if you look at the last 22 years, Floyd only has one non-technical knockout, and it came against a fighter in Victor Ortiz, whom Floyd knocked out during the course of a… friendship hug?
I’m not an idiot. Of course I know Floyd has power. But he doesn’t have the same level of power as many of his elite contemporaries. Ultimately that comparative deficiency doesn’t matter. Floyd is too smart, too fast, and too disciplined to take the type of fight-stopping power punches that he himself has not been able to land. You can’t hurt what you can’t hit.
Floyd is so good on defense that his defense is his offense. Much in the same way that the World Champion 2003-2004 Detroit Pistons, led by Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, Rip Hamilton, Chauncey Billups and Tayshaun Prince, was so good on defense that they won an NBA title despite having one of the worst offenses in.
What Floyd Mayweather and the 2004 Detroit Pistons truly have in common is that in their respective sports and eras, it was their ability to wear opponents down, not blow them away, that made them the best.
And make no mistake- even with all the criticisms and “what-if’s,” they still did the only thing that matters when it comes to determining greatness…
The greatness of the 2003-2004 Pistons was dismissed by critics who say that Detroit only got a championship over Los Angeles because they were fortunate enough to encounter the dynasty as it was on its last legs.
Surely the 2003-2004 Pistons couldn’t have kept stride with the Lakers that had torn through the 2000-2002 playoffs with a cumulative record of 45-13.
Doesn’t matter. The two teams played when they played and the Pistons took care of business. It’s not Detroit’s fault the Lakers were past their prime and beat up… just like it can’t be Floyd Mayweather’s fault that Manny Pacquiao was beat up when the two of them finally got around to stepping into a ring together.
Could Mayweather have beaten a healthy Pacquaio, especially under the condition that they’d met earlier in their careers? Just like with the 2004 Pistons, the result is the result. It doesn’t matter.
Critics might also point to the fact that the 2003-2004 Detroit Pistons weren’t just 24th in offense during the regular season, but ranked 10th among playoff teams in field goal percentage, and eighth in total points per game. But again, none of those deficiencies matter when you hold your playoff opponents to 80.7 points per contest- the lowest of any team in the last 20 seasons.
Do fans remember that the Pistons won their last 2004 Eastern Conference final game over the Indiana Pacers in horrifically boring fashion, 69-65? No, they remember a trophy.
Do fans remember Floyd Mayweather’s win over Canelo Alvarez as Alvarez being the age of a college senior? No, they remember a belt.
Both Floyd Mayweather and the 2003-2004 Detroit Pistons prevented opponents from getting good shots, and despite none of the top five purses Money Mayweather has collected including a single knockdown by the victor, including his latest sparring session with a YouTuber, a win is a win.
Defense wins, and if people want to debate whether each respective defense simply never met its match, they can do so full-well knowing both Floyd Mayweather and the 2003-2004 Detroit Pistons did the only thing that mattered to them- they walked away winners.
If you have a take on this and want us to address it on the Wrighster or Wrong Podcast, email us at ImMad@unafraidshow.com
In the June 7, 2021 Episode of Am I Wrighster or Am I Wrong, George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden pledge to go on a weight loss journey together, discuss whether the Los Angeles Clippers are now officially part of Luka Doncic’s origin story, attempt to understand the United States Navy’s denial of Cameron Kinley’s request to delay his military service for a shot at the NFL, debate the fallout of Floyd Mayweather’s money-grab exhibition boxing match against Logan Paul, and discuss whether cancel culture has come for Chrissy Teigen.
Episode Breakdown (68 minutes)
George and Ralph start a weight loss challenge- 2:20
Are the Los Angeles Clippers Luka Doncic’s origin story?- 11:52
The US Navy tells Cameron Kinley his NFL Dream must wait- 25:03
Logan Paul vs Floyd Mayweather, nobody wins, but we all lose- 36:21
Cancel or Consequence: Chrissy Teigen Edition- 47:30
Best of Social Media (Jeff Bezos goes to Space, Mo Brooks)- 60:23
You can listen to Am I Wrighster or Am I Wrong wherever you enjoy listening to Podcasts, or watch the show live on Twitter or YouTube.
With the defection of Magic Johnson, and the inability to secure either Monty Williams or Ty Lue to replace Luke Walton as head coach, the Los Angeles Lakers are currently mired in a public relations catastrophe. The only figure in all of basketball that may be feeling more pressure than the Lakers at this particular moment in time is University of Arizona head coach Sean Miller. I’m here to make the argument that the Lakers and Sean Miller might just be the solution to each other’s problems.
The Lakers, while always relevant thanks to a rich, championship-filled history, haven’t been competitive since April 12, 2013- the night Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon trying to drive past Golden State’s Harrison Barnes. That injury marked the official end of the Lakers’ decade-plus as a championship contender and sent them into the spiral that the team currently finds itself in.
The Lakers’ Long Road to the Bottom
Here’s a brief refresher on exactly how abrupt and eventful the Lakers’ demise has been:
In the 2013-14 season, former NBA MVP’s Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash combined to appear in 21 games for the last-place Lakers, and the team finished in last place in the Pacific Division.
In 2014-15, the Lakers replaced the departed Mike D’Antoni with Byron Scott and had a first-round draft pick for the first time since 2009. They used that pick on Julius Randle, who promptly broke his leg and missed his entire rookie season. They finished last in the Pacific Division for the second consecutive season.
2015-16 was the Lakers’ worst in franchise history. In a season that became Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour, the team won one road game in the 2016 half of the season and fired Byron Scott in favor of bringing Luke Walton over from the Warriors.
Eight of the Lakers primary contributors in 2016-17 were 25 years old or younger, including four of their own first round picks. They replaced part-owner Jim Buss and longtime GM Mitch Kupchak with Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka and finished 14th in the Western Conference.
In 2017-18, the Lakers started their rebuild under Magic and Pelinka by stockpiling draft picks and shipping former #2 overall pick De’Angelo Russell to Brooklyn in exchange for a pick they’d use on Kyle Kuzma, and Brook Lopez’ expiring contract. They used the #2 overall pick on UCLA PG Lonzo Ball, whose father Lavar’s unorthodox and shameless promotion of his sons’ basketball skills had fostered an extracurricular sports media circus. They improved drastically on the court, but still finished three spots out of the playoff hunt.
LeBron James sends shockwaves through the sports world by deciding to write his final basketball chapter in the City of Angels. Instead of plugging LeBron into the young, improving core of the previous season, the Lakers commence signing a cast of NBA misfits in Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson, and Michael Beasley. Everybody is injured all the time. To make matters worse, players that the Lakers moved on from, like Julius Randle, Thomas Bryant and Brook Lopez, all had fantastic seasons elsewhere. The Lakers finish above .500 when LeBron plays, and go 9-18 without him. During the season, LaVar Ball, father of Lonzo Ball, goes on Phoenix radio stations with the expectation that his son will be dealt to the Suns and openly berates head coach Luke Walton. The team parts ways with Walton, and he’s subsequently accused of sexual assault via a civil lawsuit. Magic Johnson quits his post as the team’s executive vice president in spectacularly odd fashion. The team passes on offering Monty Williams their head coaching position in favor of Ty Lue, who comes away from the three-year contract offer unimpressed, leaving the Lakers without a head coach.
The Lakers wouldn’t be Hollywood’s favorite team without a little bit of drama, but the events of the last six years have jumped the proverbial shark and left the franchise reeling. It’s because this franchise has an appetite for the spotlight, and the stomach for controversy, that I believe the right head coach for them is just 500 miles away, somehow withstanding his own personal tornado of national scorn and scrutiny.
The Ballad of Sean Miller
Sean Miller came to Tucson from Xavier in 2009, hoping to fill the enormous shoes of legendary University of Arizona Lute Olson. By his second year on campus, Miller had made the Wildcats into a 30-win team, knocking off #1 Duke in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA tournament. Heading into his fourth year on campus, he had secured two top-20 prospects in Nick Johnson and Josiah Turner. The following season, Miller landed three of Rivals.com‘s top-23 players, and returned to the Sweet Sixteen.
The trend of dominating the Pac-12, both on the court and in recruiting, has become a regular occurrence for Miller. In his tenure at Arizona, he’s had 10 players selected in the NBA Draft, signed 18 five-star recruits, made seven NCAA Tournament appearances, and won the Pac-12 conference regular season championship five times.
Most impressively, despite being regularly name-dropped in the mind-numbingly stupid NCAA pay-for-play criminal scandal, he’s managed to sign what might be his best recruiting class yet, featuring Rivals’ #4-ranked point guard (Nico Mannion), #3-ranked shooting guard (Josh Green), #15-ranked small forward (Terry Armstrong), and #8-ranked power forward (Zeke Nnaji).
For the last 15 months, Sean Miller has been caught up, fairly or unfairly, in the ongoing NCAA pay-for-play scandal that has seen several coaches and assistants investigated and/or fired for their involvement in funneling cash to recruits or their family members. The goal of those involved was to use cash payments to influence both the athletes’ school decisions, as well as who they select as financial representatives once they made a move toward the NBA. It doesn’t look great for Sean Miller that his long-time assistant, Book Richardson, has pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery for taking money from aspiring sports agent Christian Dawkins. It doesn’t look good for Miller that Book Richardson admitted to paying family members of Arizona players and prospects out of his own salary and savings on a Federal wiretap. It definitely doesn’t look good for Sean Miller that those same wiretaps seem to indicate that Book Richardson had no problem painting Deandre Ayton as being one of the players Arizona paid, and that Sean Miller was handling those payments himself. It doesn’t bode well for those who wish to claim that Sean Miller runs a tight, clean ship, that another of his assistants, Mark Phelps, was recently fired for completely separate NCAA violations, reportedly involving the transcripts of one-time Arizona commit and current UCLA forward Shareef O’Neal.
So is Sean Miller Dirty, or Not?
Sean Miller might very well be guilty of funneling cash to high profile recruits like Deandre Ayton. If we’re honest, he looks guilty. The man looks like he stepped right out of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, having helped Al Capone build and expand his prohibition-era bootlegging empire. It’s not enough, however, to simply look guilty. The truth is, there isn’t one shred of prosecutable evidence that Miller is anything more than a victim of an assistant’s desperate attempt to keep up appearances and prove he could meet the program’s high standards without getting his hands dirty, and an over-zealous media, hungry for the high-profile pound of flesh that this scandal has, thus far, has failed to deliver.
So that brings me back around to my original point- Sean Miller needs to be the Los Angeles Lakers’ next head coach. It’d be a new chapter for a franchise that hasn’t won more than 37 games in a season in six seasons, and simultaneously, a fresh start for a successful college coach who’s spent the majority of the last two seasons circumstantially tied to a major scandal. It’s a match, seemingly made in hell, that might just provide heavenly results. You have an NBA franchise consistently wrapped up in self-imposed dubious circumstances and a college coach who has stood tall like a deep-rooted oak tree through a potentially self-imposed, but certainly media-enhanced earthquake. Sean Miller’s time at Arizona has been nothing if not perfect preparation to be the ringmaster in the purple and gold circus. While there might be detractors amongst the spoiled-with-success Laker fanatics due to the fact that Sean Miller hasn’t taken Arizona to a championship during his tenure, much less a Final Four, Miller does have plenty of experience managing top young talent. Plus, Sean Miller is a serious coach- you won’t find any John Wooden-like quotes or inspirational soliloquies attributed to Miller. In the twilight of his career, LeBron James might appreciate Sean Miller’s businesslike, no-frills approach to running a team. Sean Miller also has a history of attracting the top available talent, and no one in the NBA bats an eye if you show up in a free agent’s living room with a promise to overflow their bank account. If Sean Miller really is the bag man that so many people believe he is, then the Lakers would be fools to not take advantage of his recruiting skills in their pursuit to re-emerge as title contenders.
Not only was Max Kellerman embarrassingly wrong, but he’d also have been less crazy to make the assertion that Larry Fitzgerald is the greatest wide receiver to ever put on pads.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not in the “Larry Fitzgerald is the G.O.A.T” camp. Not yet, anyway.
The best wide receiver I’ve ever seen play the in the NFL was Jerry Rice. The most talented, by a mile, was Randy Moss. It’s fun to debate who had the more dominant season, Jerry Rice in 1995 with his 122 catches and 1,848 yards, or Randy Moss in 2007 with his eight multi-touchdown games en route to an undefeated regular season. The overall edge goes to Rice, however, because no receiver in history has dominated three different Super Bowls.
After Rice and Moss, it gets a little murky. On my personal list, I have Larry Fitzgerald entrenched just ahead of Terrell Owens, Cris Carter, and Tim Brown.
Could you make the argument that Larry Fitzgerald is the best receiver of all time? Absolutely. Let’s go through his credentials:
Larry Fitzgerald Hall of Fame Stats
Second all-time in receiving yards, and sixth all-time in receiving touchdowns.
Had an NFL playoff record 546 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in the 2008 Super Bowl run.
Has 97 more catches than Jerry Rice did after 15 seasons in the league.
One of 28 NFL players to be selected to at least 11 Pro Bowls, 25 of whom are already enshrined in Canton (The others are Tom Brady and Drew Brees).
And perhaps most importantly, Larry Fitzgerald has the highest +/- of personal Pro Bowl selections vs. Quarterback Pro Bowl selections of any wide receiver in NFL History. In his 15 seasons, Fitzgerald has been a Pro Bowler nine times despite having only two seasons with a Pro Bowl QB- Kurt Warner in 2008, and Carson Palmer in 2015.
Jerry Rice had the benefit of playing with Joe Montana and Steve Young and had the most seasons in NFL history of any WR paired with a Pro Bowl QB, at 14. Reggie Wayne spent 12 of his seasons with a Pro Bowl QB. Terrell Owens and Marvin Harrison had nine seasons apiece with a Pro Bowl QB. Randy Moss, Michael Irvin, Cris Carter, Torry Holt, and Andre Reed all had six seasons with a Pro Bowl QB. Isaac Bruce, Antonio Brown and Rod Smith had five. Tim Brown had four. Only Hines Ward and Andre Johnson can claim that they reached 1,000 career receptions with as few Pro Bowl seasons out of their quarterbacks as Larry Fitzgerald.
Knowing that Larry Fitzgerald already has more catches than Jerry Rice did at this point in his career, what do we think Larry would have accomplished by this point if you inserted him onto the 1980s and 90’s San Francisco 49ers in place of Rice? In my mind, there’s no doubt Larry Fitzgerald’s name would be synonymous with Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps, and Serena Williams, as one of the most dominant athletes, regardless of sport, in the history of planet earth.
Fitzgerald may be the G.O.A.T
As it stands now, an argument can be made that Larry Fitzgerald is the best ever, especially considering that he amassed his statistics and accolades despite quarterbacks not named Kurt Warner or Carson Palmer throwing for a total of 121 touchdowns and 160 interceptions in an Arizona Cardinals uniform since he entered the league.