The NFL training camps have just opened and the pre-season looms. There will be injuries, roster cuts, depth charts made and systems tuned. I am actually excited and I'd be lying to say otherwise. Still, after a long off-season with the NFL trying their level best to dominate as a 24 hour 'news' cycle, there are stories that have gotten fantastical, and creepy and stupid and frankly really tiring. I'm already bored with them or irritated by the constant repetition. So I'm going to post a brief list of such all up in here:
1) Jason Pierre Paul, his contract and fireworks.
Allow me to personalize this. JPP, dude, what the hell are you thinking? You play a game for a living. A GAME. You make millions of dollars a year playing a game. You want more millions, we can all certainly understand. But let me tell you, bud, you aren't Michael Strahan. Buddy, I've watched Michael Strahan and you, sir, are no Michael Strahan. Still you want this big ass contract and are going to force the New York Football Giants to pay you money you frankly haven't earned ... for playing a game. And while you are having this battle of wills with the very organization that holds all the cards to tell you to fuck off, you go and blow your finger off and break your thumb celebrating 'Murika's FREEDOM. And then, as if you haven't already been stripped to your skivvies, you won't even let your employers see you with the damage you caused yourself. Man, I've seen some dumb shit in my time, but this ranks near the top of Stupid Mountain. What do you have to bargain with now, Jason Half-hand? You really screwed this up, and as fan, I'm hoping the Giants cut you. You're too stupid to know what being a teammate means and obviously too dumb to let go of an explosive. Even JaMarcus Russell was smart enough to get 30 Million guaranteed before proving his lame. I see your bust in the NFL Hall Of Shame being one of wide eyed surprise as you stare at the small piece of lit dynamite between your thumb and index finger. I'm tired of hearing about you. Unless ... your agent shuts his flapping trap puss-hole, you get your ass to camp and prove that you care about playing a game. Get 15 sacks, then I won't point and laugh at the newest icon of NFL stupid *which is you*.
2) Adrian Peterson and the 25,000 yard season.
This is a relatively new story but it's still getting on my nerves. I'll be clear upfront. I mean no disrespect to CJ2K, Emmitt Smith, Terrell Davis, the great Barry Sanders or even Sweetness himself. But we haven't seen a pure talent at running back like Adrian Peterson since Eric Dickerson. This guy is a once-in-a-generation player. Peterson is elusive when he wants to be, powerful when he has to be (he makes Bo Jackson look like a slouch), and has the best mind of a running back that I've seen since ... Eric Dickerson. In a season where Peyton Manning posted his 4th best numbers, Peterson was the NFL MVP falling 8 yards shy of Dickerson's single season record after sitting the previous season out with injury. He is that very good, in a league which devalues running backs for no damned good reason. Personally, I would build an entire team around this guy.
Last season, Peterson was out of the NFL yet again because of Goodell's over-reaction. He switched his kid with a stick. I cannot and will not defend Adrian Peterson's actions, but I remain convinced that the punishment did not fit the crime. A guy blatantly cheats at football and gets a 4 game suspension. Peterson was out for a year. He didn't put a weapon in his sweatpants and shoot himself. He didn't rape someone in a bar. He didn't run a dog fighting ring and drown puppies. He used switch, a stick, on his kid. I point out the same thing I have written about Ray Rice. If domestic abuse is the infraction, taking away one's livelihood is the opposite of the solution. It just makes it worse.
The Vikings were not supportive of Peterson. The league wasn't supportive of Peterson. But he's back now, and he's driven, determined. He claims he wants to run for 2500 yards this season. Good luck to him. If anyone can do it he can. This is the part that bothers me. If I were a Vikings fan, and to some degree I am, what I would want to hear is that the Vikings are going to make and win the Super Bowl. I want to hear Adrian Peterson's pledge to his team, his coach, his fans and his quarterback, who I am emphatically stoked about. Eric Dickerson stunned and dominated the league from his rookie season. He set the single season mark to beat for rushing yards. The Rams won not a single championship. Nor did the Colts with Dickerson carrying the rock. Barry Sanders, if he had played even 4 more years would have set a record that Emmett Smith would never have broken. And the Lions never even made it to the 'big game'. Terrell Davis played for his team, and has two rings, scoring more touchdowns in a single season than Dickerson ever did. Emmett Smith played for his team and has three bling. I am tired of hearing about what Adrian Peterson can and intends to do. It's fantasy football tripe. I will be his strongest supporter when the Vikings win the Super Bowl, and quite the opposite if he rushes for 2000 yards without the Vikes making the playoffs. (That doesn't mean I won't draft him for fantasy because I totally will.)
3) Brady MAD! Brady SMASH!
The Angry Tommy theme is now a staple of NFL lore, immortalized back in the 2012 season when Brady was fuming having missed what could have been a game winning third down conversion against the Seahawks. The 'Hawks, underdogs all the way, won the game. Richard Sherman found Brady after the end and yelled "You mad, Bro?" That was the legend, that when Tom Brady is angry, the Patriots are to be feared. That legend persists to this day. Don't make Tommy angry, you wouldn't like him when he's angry.
Professional football is an intense game, and requires a level of competitiveness that few people have. Quarterbacks, as the generals on the field, have to lead and inspire their troops. They don't all do it the same way. Tony Romo, like Brett Favre before him, acts like he's having more fun on a Sunday afternoon than you will have all year long. Joe Montana had a confidence that was infectious and humorous. "Isn't that John Candy?" John Elway was an unstoppable force of athleticism and competitiveness. Aaron Rodgers is a warrior, trained and decisive. The Sheriff lays down the law on the field. And Tom Brady gets MAD.
This year, he has a lot of reason to be mad. He got caught cheating and barring an injunction from the court he faces a 4 game suspension. This story, as it continues to unfold, is not uninteresting. It's actually rather fascinating on a whole big banana bunch of levels. His attempt to 'clear his name' seems less about the cheating and more about protecting his legacy from the Wells report and the Commissioner's ruling. That's fine, his legacy is in no danger. No one will take away his birthday, his super model wife or his Super Bowl ring. He will always be the middle of any discussion of the greatest QB of all time. The only hit is to his ego, an ego that I haven't a doubt tells him he is something approaching perfection. None of that is what annoys me.
It is that Tommy is mad, and the rest of the league had best beware! I'm very tired of that one. Brady is not the incredible Hulk. He doesn't become unbeatable just because his knickers get twisted. Look at the example 3 short paragraphs back. You mad, Bro? Playing with a chip on your shoulder is a good storyline, but the assumption of how the story ends gets really tiring. I would point out that regardless of the revenge narratives or anything else, it wasn't Angry Tom Brady who beat the Seahawks in Super Bowl 49. It was an inexplicable play call and insane hustle from a no-name rookie. I would point out that Tom got mad as hell in Super Bowl 42 that a Giants defense was harassing him and threatening a story book ending to a perfect season. Brady had nothing to do but watch as David Tyree caught a pass against his helmet and doomed the perfect Patriots to a season of 18-1. Even with the suspension, the Patriots may remain the team to beat in the AFC East. But that's because of Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels. Angry Tommy is not a story, it's a myth I'm frankly tired of.
4) Peyton Manning vs. Gary Kubiak
This is the one that is the most irritating of them all. Not one rational person doesn't question Manning's age or durability. He is, in NFL terms, a senior citizen. But a common thread runs with all the questioning story lines. 'Can Peyton Manning adapt to Gary Kubiak's offense'. Seriously? Really? ~sigh~ In his professional career, Peyton Manning has played for 4 different head coaches, not including Kubiak. Mora, Dungy, Caldwell and Fox. He has taken his team to the Super Bowl under 3 of those 4. Gary Kubiak was the offensive coordinator for two Super Bowl winning teams with another senior citizen some may have heard of, John Elway. When Elway won SBs 32 and 33, he no longer had the 80 yard ballistic device he had previously enjoyed attached to his shoulder. What he did have was a terrific running game, a good football mind and a stifling defense. Manning has never had the rocket launcher that Elway had but he has the potential for a terrific running game and a stifling defense. As good as Shannon Sharpe, Rod Smith and Eddie McCaffery were, they are not Emmanual Sanders and DeMarius Thomas. People can waffle between Montana and Brady for the Greatest of all Time argument based on the gold they wear on their fingers. There is no equal when it comes to the smartest of all time argument to Peyton Manning. Can he adapt to Kubiak's offense? I lose respect for every pundit that even posits that question.