The Panthers’ Choice at #1 is Clear- Bryce Young No Matter What.

We need to talk about what the Carolina Panthers should do with the #1 pick.

Last week the Carolina Panthers made sure that absolutely zero fans of their team own a current player’s jersey by sending wide receiver DJ Moore and several draft picks to Chicago for the #1 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

The Panthers need help. Owner David Tepper pulled the plug on Head Coach Matt Rhule last year just 38 games into a seven year contract. They traded Christian McCaffrey last year. They gave up on trying to make both Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield their quarterback of the future. 

Things are so bad for the Panthers that they even bailed out of plans to build an $800 million practice facility in nearby Rock Hill, South Carolina, with Tepper’s real estate company declaring bankruptcy in the middle of construction.

Now, after deciding to hire Frank Reich to lead the team moving forward, both Reich and the Panthers are in desperate need of the one thing that has kept them from having consistent success in this league over the last few years- a franchise quarterback.

But which one?

Look guys, don’t overthink this. Yeah, you had lightning in a bottle with Cam Newton, but you’re not going to recreate it with Anthony Richardson out of Florida.

You could have gotten that Cam Newton feeling back by pursuing Lamar Jackson, but you wanted a fresh start. It’s not what I would have done, but I respect it. 

And I know that there are some people that believe Panthers QB coach Josh McCown is the next Bill Belichick, but even old Bill is looking mighty human without a Hall of Fame quarterback under center. 

Rumor has it that Frank Reich believes Ohio State’s CJ Stroud should be the Panthers QB of the future, while owner David Tepper is trending more toward selecting Alabama’s Bryce Young.

I haven’t said this often, but this time I’m going to say it loudly and say it with my chest. 

David Tepper is right. 

The Panthers need someone low maintenance. Someone that won’t run into danger. Someone that makes all the right reads, and gets the ball out quickly. 

This is simple, Carolina.

All Bryce Young needs to be an NFL star is time and patience. I know Josh McCown is in the building, but he’s not going to suit up if Young isn’t ready to compete on day 1. 

So I want to applaud the Panthers for going out and getting Andy Dalton– Someone that can give you 8-10 solid starts while showing Bryce the ropes of what it takes on a day-to-day basis to be a successful quarterback in this league. 

And when Dalton has given you everything they have left in the tank, let Bryce loose, and give your fan base some things to look forward to as you head into the next offseason. 

I don’t begrudge the Panthers if they kick the tires on CJ Stroud. He’s an elite prospect, and he has the one thing Bryce Young doesn’t- size.

But on Draft Day, you better pull that post-it out of your pocket like Kevin Costner and take the one player that can give your franchise and its fans hope for the next decade plus.

Bryce Young no matter what. 

Let that sink in.

Eric Bienemy Bet On Himself With Move to Commanders. I’m Betting On Him Too.


We need to talk about Eric Bienemy betting on himself and moving to a play calling role with the Washington Commanders

Year after year, the goalposts were moved for Eric Bienemy. 

He reportedly interviewed for 17 of the 23 NFL head coaching job openings since 2019. And unless he was walking into the room with drool on his chin and his fly unzipped, the collective decision to hire anyone but him has become one of the more frustrating and fascinating aspects of the yearly coaching carousel. 

And if he was out here tanking interviews, you can absolutely guarantee that the NFL’s premier newsbreakers like Ian Rapoport and Adam Schefter would assist any owner or general manager in anonymously slandering Bienemy- and that just hasn’t happened.

I’ve talked at length before that it’s not as simple as racism. People hire who they’re comfortable with, whether through word of mouth, prior work experience, or a cookie cutter idea of what a good leader looks like. You’re far more likely to get an owner to sign off on a hire because of the way an interviewee makes them feel than because of that candidate’s offensive or defensive schematics. 

Think about the way we elect politicians. The best person to enact positive policy change is rarely the person we’d be most comfortable having a beer with, but that’s an enormous factor in the way that we vote. 

The “likeability” factor influencing our decisions is probably a good reason why so many things in this country are broken. And it’s definitely a reason why there’s an average of a 20% turnover year over year in the NFL’s head coaching ranks.

These rich old men would rather pay multi year buyouts to men that remind them of their grandsons than give a shot to someone that has been a part of 10 consecutive winning seasons, eight consecutive playoff appearances, five consecutive AFC Championships, and three different Super Bowl runs. 

Around now is when I’ll have people start bursting through the wall to tell me that “Eric Bienemy doesn’t call plays!” First of all, it’s a collaborative effort in Kansas City. Just ask Doug Pederson, who got hired by the Eagles after sharing play calling duties with Reid. Or ask Matt Nagy. Or ask Brad Childress. 

It’s extremely common to hire a head coach that isn’t the primary play caller, and it’s certainly more common to hire someone that didn’t call the offense in their previous job than it is to be a successful head coach that does call your team’s offense! Andy Reid, Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan are the exception, not the rule. 

Maybe the Colts and Cardinals hires will work out. The Colts are in need of someone that can get the most out of a young quarterback, and so maybe it makes sense for them to go with Shane Steichen, who helped Jalen Hurts become a Super Bowl caliber player over the last two years. 

But Arizona? They went from giving offensive “genius” Kliff Kingsbury a five year extension last year, to hiring a defensive minded head coach whose defense gave up about a billion second half points on the Cardinals home field earlier in the week. Maybe they figured that Kyler Murray already showed enough contempt for one of Patrick Mahomes former coaches, but the difference between Bienemy and Kingsbury is that one of them spends every January on a beach and one spends every January on a sideline. 

And one of them won more games at State Farm Stadium this season than the other did in eight tries this season. Yikes.

At the end of the day, Eric Bienemy was forced to leave a great job, working for a great man, and coaching one of the greatest talents we’ve ever seen, just to prove to his doubters that he checks more boxes than many of his peers. 

It’s hard to feel sorry for someone whose fallback plan of staying with the Chiefs would be most coaches’ fantasy, but he’s walking into a Washington Commanders situation where the offense was actually good last year. Seriously, look it up. Despite all the issues at QB, and the inability to finish drives, and the turnover problems, this was a team that moved the ball well despite being in a division with three playoff defenses. 

Bienemy is walking a tightrope for a traditionally snakebitten franchise, with no guarantee that success is going to earn him the opportunity he’s looking for. 

You have to respect his decision, and the risk involved. There’s gonna be a whole lot of NFL GM’s and fan bases rooting for his failure simply to justify past decisions. And even if he does succeed in Washington D.C., the only thing he’ll be earning is an opportunity to have those same people root for him to fail as a head coach, all to say that they’ve been right all along. 

But for every hater, like his former RB Shady McCoy, Bienemy has legions of people like me, and Patrick Mahomes, that are much more interested in seeing him prove the doubters wrong and carve out a place for himself as a head coach in this league.

And if that day ever comes, the “I told you so’s” are going to rain from the sky like Super Bowl confetti. And I’ll be here for it.

Let that sink in.

The Baltimore Ravens Might Have Won This Round of Chicken With Lamar Jackson, But At What Cost?

We need to talk about Lamar Jackson’s value. 

Let’s just get it out of the way- of course the owners are colluding to avoid having to pay Lamar Jackson $200+ million guaranteed. 

But they’re not colluding against Lamar Jackson as much as they ARE colluding against Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, who gave Deshaun Watson almost a quarter of a billion fully guaranteed dollars. 

NFL owners didn’t love that Haslam unnecessarily reset the market for elite passers, which has led to average quarterbacks like Daniel Jones and Geno Smith inking deals that give them a 2023 total salary beyond any single season payday Tom Brady made in his 23-year career. 

You’re worth what you’re worth, and the Cleveland Browns were desperate. You’re not going to hear me blaming Deshaun Watson for agreeing to get paid- though he will need to find a way to restructure if he ever wants his team to be competitive. 

Because the Browns are already 8 digits over the 2023 salary cap, and other teams see that. 

We’ve heard the Bills general manager talk about the advantage that the Bengals have right now with their QB on a rookie deal. If even the Bills are having a little bit of buyer’s remorse in having to pay Josh Allen market value, it stands to reason that the Ravens would be cautious and weigh all their options, even if they have a QB that has won an MVP award in the building.

And it’s no secret that at times, Lamar Jackson, who acts as his own agent, hasn’t seen eye to eye with the Ravens front office. The last two quarterbacks that got big money extensions despite not always getting along with the front office were Aaron Rodgers and Kyler Murray, and money didn’t change a thing. 

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are headed for a divorce, and Kyler Murray not only won the divorce with his Cardinals Head Coach and GM, but got full custody of the team. 

Last year, when the contract that the Jaguars gave Christian Kirk re-set the wide receiver market, so many players asked for a trade or an extension that NFL front offices had no choice but to do whatever they could to salvage the locker room. The players had strength in numbers. 

This time, it’s just Lamar Jackson. The NFL vs. Lamar. 

And don’t let anyone tell you this is a race issue. Most of the NFL’s highest paid quarterbacks are black. 

This is about Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, who is a billionaire owner of an international talent acquisition and management firm, deciding to play chicken with his star QB on behalf of his colleagues.

And playing chicken is fine if there’s a reward to your risk, but what is the reward here? Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert’s agents just watched Daniel Jones ink a deal for $40 million per year for putting up season long stats that their clients typically reach by week 10. 

Even if the Deshaun Watson contract is an anomaly paid out by an owner who can afford it, because he’s one of the only executives at Flying J that didn’t go to jail for scamming truckers, the Jones and Smith contracts make the Watson deal look reasonable. 

Steve Bisciotti might have won the day by making Lamar Jackson’s franchise tag non-exclusive, to show his quarterback that there isn’t a 2023 market in which a team is willing to commit $200 million and two first round picks… but the day is fading. 

Lamar Jackson is getting paid by someone. And if Steve Bisciotti isn’t careful, he will have proven his point only to have to turn around and pay $200 million to an average quarterback two years down the road, rather than rewarding the MVP in the building.

Let that sink in.

Is Jonathan Gannon On The Hot Seat With the Arizona Cardinals Before He’s Ever Coached A Game?

Jonathan Gannon

We need to talk about the one NFL Head Coach that might be spending his very first year on the hot seat. 

I’m talking about you, Jonathan Gannon. 

The Arizona Cardinals lost out to the Denver Broncos for the services of Sean Payton, and went with the backup plan of the Eagles defensive coordinator, who up until halftime of the Super Bowl, was putting together a historic run. 

You might think it’s completely insane that a brand new coach would come in on the hot seat, but this is the Arizona Cardinals we’re talking about. 

They had no problem running Steve Wilks out of town after one year. And Kliff Kingsbury had FIVE, count ’em, one, two, three, four FIVE years left on his contract when he also got the heave-ho. 

Of all the job openings around the league, what makes Arizona unique is that there’a a quarterback and offensive weapons in place that Gannon, a defensive specialist, needs to make look competent right out of the gate. 

Indianapolis, Houston and Carolina are starting their franchise QB searches from scratch, and Sean Payton has enough clout in Denver to where if Mr. Unlimited can’t shape up, the organization will back the head coach. 

That’s not the situation in Arizona, where Kyler Murray and his agent social media bullied Michael Bidwill into giving him a whopping $160 million guaranteed, and regularly criticized his previous head coach’s red zone meltdowns to the point of organizational divorce. 

The Arizona Cardinals priority this offseason should have been to bring in an alpha personality that Kyler Murray can respect, and instead, they hired someone that’s much more known for imposing his will on the opposing team’s quarterback. 

And so who did Jonathan Gannon bring in to fix a Cardinals offense that didn’t have a single play longer than 50 yards until their 17th game of the season last year?

Gannon’s offensive coordinator pick was Cleveland Browns QB coach Drew Petzing, who is 35-years-old and has never called an offense before. If Kyler didn’t respect Patrick Mahomes’ college coach as his playcaller, what’s he going to do when an economics major from Middlebury College is working through first-year coordinator kinks? 

The Cardinals can’t afford to do a full rebuild, but the offensive line and secondary need a near-complete overhaul, and JJ Watt has announced that he’s done playing football as well

If Kyler Murray can’t get his knee ready for the start of the season, and the Cardinals end up at the bottom of the NFC West for the fourth time in six years, we might see this carousel go for another spin. 

That is, unless there’s a different standard in the NFL for guys like Jonathan Gannon than there is for guys like Steve Wilks. 


Let that sink in.

Fans Blaming The Refs For the Correct Call Takes Away From a Near-Perfect Super Bowl

We need to talk about the spoiled fans still finding ways to complain about a near-perfect Super Bowl.

With the game tied at 35 and under two minutes remaining, the Chiefs had a third-and-8 from the Eagles 15. JuJu Smith-Schuster attempted to release to the outside, but James Bradberry had a handful of jersey. The refs threw a flag. Bradberry admitted he got caught after the game. Case closed. 
What’s so hard about that? 

I’m a person who has criticized referees. I’m a Pac-12 fan, so it comes with the territory. But this game ended with the correct call. Despite not having slow motion super zoomed 4k replay from 30 different angles, they nailed it. 

Now, if you’re an Eagles fan, and you just need something to direct your frustration toward instead of climbing light poles and flipping cars, I get it. And I feel for you that James Bradberry decided to tell the truth and take away your primary non-inward accountability gripe. 
But if you’re a fan of any other NFL franchise, and you’re complaining that the game didn’t have the storybook ending of a two-minute drive attempt by Jalen Hurts to win or tie the game, you’re letting your fantasy get in the way of a fantastic reality. 

This game had four different occasions where the score was tied, and five different lead changes. It had a missed field goal, a defensive touchdown, a tied record for rushin touchdowns by a single player in Jalen Hurts, and Patrick Mahomes came back from re-aggravating his ankle to play a perfect second half. 

Sheryl Lee Ralph absolutely killed Lift Every Voice and Sing. We got to see Babyface sing America the Beautiful. Chris Stapleton should sing every National Anthem from here on out, and Rihanna? Hit after hit after hit. 

Despite Arian Foster’s joke, the beauty of live sports is that there is no script. This isn’t Star Wars or Batman. We don’t need the toxic fandom that comes with science fiction and fantasy movies just because we didn’t find every moment pleasing. 

Now, you can say you wished the game had ended differently, but if you spend too much time focused on your unmet expectations, you lose that gratitude that comes with focusing on the fact that Jalen Hurts had the game of his life, and Patrick Mahomes added to a legacy that is already better than maybe all but five quarterbacks ever by the age of 27.

This game was as good as a game can get. Let that sink in. Even if you have to get out of your own way to do it. 

What Two Black Quarterbacks Starting in the Super Bowl Means to a Father of Two Black Quarterbacks

We need to talk about the significance of two black quarterbacks going head to head in the Super Bowl.

For so long, black quarterbacks weren’t even given the opportunity to sink or swim at their chosen position. And in a way, that’s still true, because I’m sitting here talking about the best of the best. One of which, Jalen Hurts, was asked at the NFL Combine just a handful of years ago if he’d consider switching positions, and had articles written about him saying a position switch was the only way he’d make an impact in the NFL. 

Now it’s true that every so often a white quarterback will make that type of transition from college to the NFL. Julian Edelman did it. I had a teammate in Jacksonville do it. Matt Jones. And we all remember Tim Tebow getting charity reps at Tight End last year. 

And I’ll admit that I spent the first two years of Josh Allen’s career calling him a running back. I got a lot of pushback on that. And while this was one of the RARE occasions that I was wrong, it was interesting to see predominantly white fans get in their feelings about my perceived mischaracterization of Allen’s abilities. Now if I can only get them to make the connection that the emotion they felt in defense of Josh Allen is something we have to go through almost every single time, as people continue to fail to see past the athleticism of someone with dark skin. Lamar Jackson. Justin Fields. Jalen Hurts. The list goes on.

Jalen Hurts vs Patrick Mahomes is another milestone of progress, but it shouldn’t always be about excellence. True equality looks like a mid-round black quarterback throwing five interceptions in a single half and still being a backup in the league four years later. But I digress.

Now, none of this means black quarterbacks can’t be criticized. I interviewed Jalen Hurts and his father, Averion, and even they’ll tell you a lot of progress had to be made as a passer to get the Eagles offense where it is today. And that brings me to the part of being a black quarterback that doesn’t get talked about- the energy and resources that are put into developing young black men as passers, instead of coaches relying upon these players to “athlete” their way to wins. A big part of development is patience. Maybe the biggest part. 

There is no Peyton Manning without the patience to ride out his record-setting 28 interception rookie season. And before you say to yourself, Peyton Manning is one of one, let me hit you with this interesting statistic:

Since Peyton Manning’s rookie season, there have been eight quarterbacks to come into the NFL as rookies and throw at least 18 interceptions in their first year. On one side of that statistic, you have Carson Palmer, Matt Stafford, Andrew Luck, and Mark Sanchez. Every single one of them was given a multitude of chances to figure it out. On the other side, you have DeShone Kizer, Josh Freeman and Geno Smith. Kizer never started a single game after his rookie season. Freeman ended up out of the league at 27-years old in large part thanks to Greg Schiano, and Geno Smith had to wait six years to prove himself again after the Jets gave up on him. If you’re a black QB with a high draft grade that comes in and struggles early, you might as well come into the league at 29-years old, which was the age of the only white QB on this list who wasn’t given a long leash to prove himself.

Shout out to Chris Weinke.

Look at the JETS and Zach Wilson, and all the “we aren’t giving up on him” talk.

As a parent of quarterbacks, I want my sons to absorb all of the lessons this Super Bowl has to offer. I want them to understand that development matters over the logo on the side of the helmet, and I want them to value coaches and organizations that show patience. Neither the Chiefs nor the Eagles put the entire weight of their franchise on these guys as rookies. 

More than anything, I just want my sons to see two black quarterbacks on the field, because for most of us, seeing is believing. 

I’ve had a black teammate tell me they prefer white quarterbacks for the simple reason that he hadn’t seen enough successful black quarterbacks. 

If we’re thinking that way in our own communities, it goes a long way to explain how people that aren’t in our communities view what we’re capable of. 

But on Sunday, a hundred million people are going to see something new. And that means a good portion of them are going to believe something new. 

And belief is the start of change. 

So for every black father of sons out there. For every football coach of any race:

Let *this* sink in.

As an aside, I want to Shack Harris, Marlin Briscoe, Doug Williams, Fritz Pollard, George Taliaferro, Willie Thrower, Charlie Brakins, Warren Moon, Rodney Peete, Mike Vick, Randall Cunningham and all the other black quarterbacks that made this historic moment possible.

A Message To Everyone That Thinks Damar Hamlin Is A Clone

damar hamlin

We need to talk about these weirdos out here speculating that Damar Hamlin is a clone.

If you’ve been living under a rock, first of all, congratulations for not having to put up with this nonsense, but in case you don’t know, ever since Damar Hamlin’s appearance at the Bills/Bengals Divisional Round playoff game, the same people that swing from conspiracy vine to conspiracy vine have concluded that because you didn’t see Damar Hamlin’s face on the television broadcast, that he must have died on the field back on January 2nd, and pharmaceutical companies have produced either a clone or an actor to take his place and alleviate fears about vaccine side effects.

That’s right. The same people that believe that the pharmaceutical companies didn’t have the skill to craft a functional vaccine want you to believe that they do have the ability to produce a 24-year-old human clone on two weeks’ notice.

Damar Hamlin needing his heart restarted on the field was terrifying, and we don’t have a full explanation for what happened to him. It’s natural when people are afraid, and they don’t have all of the answers, to grasp at straws to find meaning or fill in the blanks. 

That’s a completely natural reaction. 

What’s not natural is being a huge dummy, or being an easy mark for grifters. You can easily seek an explanation to a never-before-seen scenario without checking your brain at the door.

The worst thing about this “Damar Hamlin is a clone” theory, aside from the fact that you’re disrespecting him, his loved ones, and his teammates, is that the entire idea of cloning an adult football player that dies on the field is lifted from the plot of a 23-year-old Arnold Schwarzeneggar movie called The 6th Day.

Not only are you ridiculous, you’re unoriginal. 

I’m going to let you in on a little secret that hopefully slams the door on the possibility that the Damar Hamlin you saw during the broadcast, the same one all the players claimed to have hung out with in the locker room, isn’t really Damar Hamlin.

The next athlete or coach to keep a secret from anyone else in this industry would be the first.

You’d have an easier time selling me on the idea that Damar Hamlin is a clone than the idea that a few hundred football players and staffers could keep it under wraps.

Like, do we really think Cole Beasley would almost get himself run out of the NFL over refusing to take the vaccine, only to have his worst fears realized, then react by becoming some type of shadowy illuminati defender of vaccines?

And now that Damar Hamlin has released a six-minute video of himself thanking everyone for their thoughts and prayers, and has begun teasing the people that think he’s dead on his TikTok, the lengths you have to go to convince yourself that you weren’t duped are bordering on irredeemable.  

Look, sometimes entertaining conspiracies is harmless. 

Sometimes a conspiracy has enough merit that it opens an individual up to the possibilities that other conspiracies might be partly true as well. 

Companies lie. Governments lie. When some people discover that everything you see might not be everything there is, they skip the idea of practicing caution, critical thinking and discernment, and go right to outrageous speculation.

If any part of you believes that Damar Hamlin is a clone or a body double, I want you to pay very close attention to what I say next.

The same way that you lost faith in institutions when you found out they aren’t always truthful, is how the people in your life lose faith in you when you excitedly spread very stupid and scientifically impossible ideas.

By pushing the idea that Josh Allen and his teammates are in on a “Big Pharma” plot to cover up the death of their teammate, you’re telling the people in your life that you can’t be trusted to handle and process difficult information. 

Maybe YOU can move on when you find out that Comet Pizza doesn’t have a basement, or when you ultimately are forced to admit that Damar Hamlin is indeed alive, but in the meantime, to everyone around you who haven’t surrendered their cognitive abilities to the algorithm, you’ve become the thing you hate.

A pathetic liar. 

Let that sink in.

The Dallas Cowboys Social Media Team Did The Players Dirty After Their Playoff Loss

2020 NFL Week Five Recap: Dak, Four Up Four Down, Top Game Week 6

We need to talk about the way the Dallas Cowboys are throwing Dak Prescott and Trevon Diggs under the bus for their Divisional Round loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

As social media has evolved to become the dominant way that sports fans get their news, teams have figured out that the best way to align the public’s desire for content with the team’s desire to control the message, was to hire journalists to create in-house content. 

Some of the best content out there comes directly from the teams themselves, but anyone that pays attention to the professional sports media landscape knows that in-house media’s job can be summed up in one phrase:

“promote, and don’t rock the boat.”

That’s why it was so shocking to so many around the league to see the Dallas Cowboys official Twitter account lay the blame for their 19-12 defeat at the hands of the 49ers squarely at the feet of franchise quarterback Dak Prescott and pro bowl defensive back Trevon Diggs.

Immediately after the game, writer Patrik Walker posted an article titled “Dak on Loss to 49ers: ‘Unacceptable, 100% On Me’, ” which was then tweeted out by the Cowboys official Twitter account with the caption “Dak Prescott gave away the ball twice in the narrow loss to the 49ers, in a matchup the Cowboys had a chance to win if they didn’t again generate self-inflicted wounds.”

They immediately followed that with another article from Walker that called this Cowboys season “anything but special.”

The Cowboys social media team also emptied the clip on Trevon Diggs with a post that stated “Diggs can’t snag key INT,” and they didn’t even bother to include an author’s name on that article. 

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “none of these are hit jobs, they’re just harsh facts.”

But in-house media doesn’t deal in harsh facts. They embrace discourse and analysis insofar as it keeps your time and attention squarely within their boundaries.

And they go a long way to make sure that franchise players are insulated from the type of criticism that comes from outside media critics.

For an example of how far they go, look no further than the fact that the Los Angeles Lakers Twitter account has never once included a photo of LeBron James in any final score tweet after a loss. 

Even if a loss has nothing to do with LeBron James, the Lakers don’t want you to associate an image of the NBA’s most famous player with losing.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys are over here like “look at these losers Dak and Trevon.”

Before you go pat the Cowboys on the back for journalistic integrity, let’s wait and see if they post anything critical of the person responsible who paid Dak Prescott, or who hired a head coach that had a six-playoff trip streak of getting bounced before the Super Bowl, or who didn’t replace Brett Maher after four missed extra points, which led to Mike McCarthy hesitating to attempt a 52-yard field goal before halftime.

Had the Cowboys kicked a field goal there, Dak has one less interception, and Tony Pollard doesn’t break his leg right before he hits free agency. 

But you won’t see anything on the Dallas Cowboys social media about that.

Because it’s not about the Dallas Cowboys in-house media team suddenly channeling the journalistic spirit of Walter Cronkite. 

It’s about pointing the finger for nearly three decades of failure in any direction other than the one it should go.

Toward the owner, Jerry Jones.

Let that sink in.

Joseph Ossai’s Mistake Reveals Who The True Cincinnati Bengals Fans Are

We need to talk about Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Joseph Ossai.

In the last minute of the AFC Championship, with the game tied at 20, and the Kansas City Chiefs needing 10-15 yards to put Harrison Butker in position to kick a field goal that would send the Chiefs to the Super Bowl, the game’s best passer, on a busted ankle, broke toward the sideline to pick up a first down and stop the clock. 

Joseph Ossai sprinted toward the sideline as if the entire season depended on it, and got a hand on Patrick Mahomes, pushing him into the Bengals bench.

The problem? Ossai was late, and the ensuing 15-yard penalty gave the Chiefs exactly what they needed. 

As the confetti dropped in Arrowhead stadium, Ossai sat on the bench, sobbing. Some teammates attempted to console him. Many others, wrapped up in their own emotions of disappointment, did not. 

Every game has a hero, every game has a goat. That’s the beauty of sport. It’s a different formula of our favorite narrative. A winner and a loser. Gratitude and grief. Elation and sorrow. 

Small minds often get lost in the simplicity of the narrative, and are consumed with what it means for them. 

Let’s get into the complexity of the story of last night’s “villain.”

Joseph Ossai came to this country at the age of 10. He picked up football in high school, and became good enough to have every school in Texas fighting over him. His mother, praying over his future, had a dream where he became a Longhorn. Trusting the faith of his mother, he chose Austin

Three years later he’d be hearing his name called in the NFL Draft, spending his rookie season watching his teammates come up just short in the Super Bowl because of a knee injury.

Last night was his chance to make sure his team went back. And for 59 minutes and 50 seconds, anyone who knows ball will tell you he was one of the best players on a field that includes more than a few future Hall of Fame players. 

On one play, he wasn’t the best version of himself, and he’s paying the price for that. Not only in the media and in the locker room, but he injured his knee on the play as well.

Some of you are mad at Joseph Ossai for his mistake. Being upset is natural. His own teammate, Germaine Pratt, was caught screaming “why would you touch the quarterback?” in the tunnel

But some of you decided his error was a license for sending him messages, and calling him every name in the book, and wishing harm to his career, or even his body, for how his play affected you.

So let’s talk about you- the person who didn’t see the irony in lashing out at Joseph Ossai after the game was over, for his hit after the play was over. 

How are you going to wish harm on somebody for their inability to handle the moment when YOU can’t? 

And it’s not even your moment. He was the Man in the Arena. Not you.

While he sobbed on the sideline, and faced reporters in the locker room after the game, you were in your mom’s basement shouting so loud that she probably had flashbacks to the time you got in her face for not cutting the crust off your PB&J.

Championship sports is a high wire act. The amount that has to go right for someone to be in a position to make a mistake on this large of a stage is mind-boggling. And forget what has to go right, think about what had to go wrong.

Buffalo Bills GM Brandon Beane recently said that he doesn’t want to have to suck bad enough to end up with a guy like Ja’Marr Chase falling to him in the draft. And he brings up a good point. Think about everything that had to go wrong in the Bengals organization for things to start going right. The real fans of this team understand that, and know that the possibilities for redemption for a still 22-year old Joseph Ossai are plenty. 

And those fans, those good and faithful Bengals fans that suffered through decades of lean years, will be there to lift Joseph Ossai up as they move into the future. 

I feel sorry for the ones that are stuck in the emotion of the moment, that lashed out and said hateful things. Because for most Bengal fans, the sweet moments will be that much sweeter because of the times that were sour. 

But when it’s the person that’s sour? Nothing will ever be sweet. 

Let that sink in.

Is The New York Jets Hiring Nathaniel Hackett Enough To Lure Aaron Rodgers To The Big Apple?

We need to talk about the Jets trying to lure Aaron Roders to New York.

Robert Saleh says he interviewed over 15 candidates for the open offensive coordinator position for the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets. He used to work alongside the NFL’s most innovative offensive mind in Kyle Shanahan. So surely this hire was going to be based on what’s best for the offense with the personnel they currently have in place, right? 

Wrong. The New York Jets hired Nathaniel Hackett, also known as the only head coach besides Urban Meyer in the last 45 years to be fired before the completion of his first season as an NFL Head Coach. 

And why would they bring in someone fresh off a 4-11 run that had people wondering if the MonStars stole Russell Wilson’s talent?

Well, before he stunk things up in Denver, Hackett was responsible for calling the league’s top scoring offense in 2020, and two consecutive top ten yardage seasons, with none other than the perpetually disgruntled Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. 

That’s right, the New York Jets are trying to do the same thing the Denver Broncos failed to do last offseason- use Nathaniel Hackett to entice Aaron Rodgers to request a trade. 

Why else would they make this hire?

Granted, as bad as the Broncos offense was in 2022, producing just 14 passing touchdowns in Hackett’s 15 games, Denver’s production last year would actually be an upgrade over 11 of the last 12 sorry excuses for an offense that the New York Jets have rolled out. 

The Jets have had a bottom quarter offense since before Donald Trump was elected president, and a move like this shows that they’re desperate for a change. 

But is Aaron Rodgers the answer? He’s definitely an improvement, but we saw this past season that the Packers didn’t have enough talent surrounding Rodgers to even capture a playoff spot. The Jets are going to have to give up this year’s #13 overall pick, and perhaps a lot more since the Packers have every ability to hold the Jets hostage for being this transparent. 

What is going to be left on this roster for Aaron Rodgers to try and take on one of the best divisions in football?

Breece Hall coming off a torn ACL? Mekhi Becton coming off of two consecutive missed seasons? A permanently pissed off Elijah Moore?

And what if the Packers ask for rookie sensation Garrett Wilson in addition to this year’s first round pick in exchange for A-Aron? Can the Jets afford to say no?

I respect that the Jets are being decisive about not thinking Zach Wilson is the guy, and not letting it drag on for a third year like they did with Sam Darnold. 

We all remember Wilson refusing to accept responsibility for letting the NFL’s #4 ranked defense down with his play, or the rumors that were spread about his dating preferences.

But if you’re trying to change the culture away from people that don’t point the finger at themselves, or have endless articles written about their personal life and dating preferences…

Is Aaron Rodgers the guy you want?

I guess we’ll find out.

Let that sink in.