Tag Archives: NFC

A Successful Pro Bowl Increases Orlando’s Case as a Major Sports City

Orlando is ready to make its mark as a true major sports city. Photo Credit: Kavis Peak

The 67th NFL Pro Bowl takes place this Sunday in Orlando. It’s only the third time in 38 years it’s been held away from its mainstay location of Honolulu, Hawaii. Next season it will be in the “City Beautiful” as well, and there’s an option for 2019. What an opportunity for Orlando and Orange County leaders to show the sports world that we are a major league sports city. Not just a family-friendly tourist destination.

The NFL is the king of pro sports in America. Whatever they decide to do, you can bet the commissioners of the other major sports are taking notes. That’s why a very successful week of hosting the Pro Bowl and its events, official and unofficial — ahem, parties at nightclubs — will go a long way in enticing other major sporting events to make their way to central Florida.

Let me say this first, I know the Pro Bowl is a meaningless game that leaves much to be desired from hardcore football fans. Many of the top players have either withdrawn or are playing in the Super Bowl. Even with that said, the game has sold out the 65,000 capacity stadium including standing room only. Score one point for Florida Citrus Sports and their CEO Steve Hogan for making people care to spend their hard earned money for this game.

The great thing about moving the Pro Bowl to central Florida is it gives true football fans a chance to come out and get up close and personal with their favorite gridiron stars. That wasn’t the case when the game was held in Hawaii. It’s much easier and less expensive for NFL fans to get to Orlando for the game and week, then it is to get to Honolulu. Sure players would rather have that trip to the 50th state, but it’s not like central Florida weather and beaches is anything to sneeze at this time of the year with highs in the mid-70’s. But also in this day in age where the players are more worried about their brands, I’m looking specifically at you Antonio Brown, Mister Facebook Live, it would benefit them to be in the continental U.S. where their fan base can get to them. Score another point for the 407.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs want to be considered for future Super Bowls, NCAA National Football and Basketball Championships. We have the state-of-the-art facilities to host those events.

The 80-year old Camping World Stadium, better known and still affectionally called the Citrus Bowl, just underwent a $207 million dollar renovation. No it’s not the billion dollar playpens in Dallas, Minnesota and Atlanta, but It is already the hosts of three college football bowl games annually. Last season it was the site of Florida State’s spring game and a regular season matchup against Ole Miss. In the coming seasons, Louisville, Alabama, Florida and Miami will play in the Camping World kickoff game here. Just last November, the ACC moved its conference championship game from Charlotte to Orlando due to the controversial North Carolina House Bill 2 law. It has hosted Wrestlemania’s and it will host another this April. It can host major events.

In the past seven years, a the $480 million dollar Amway Center was built and hosted the 2012 NBA All-Star game and first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. The Orlando City Lions of the MLS opens its $155 million dollar soccer specific stadium this spring. 10 miles east of downtown on the campus of UCF, there’s the 10-year old 45,000+ capacity Bright House Stadium and 10,000+ seat CFE Arena.

City leaders have spent the money and made the efforts to make sure everything needed is in place for central Florida to prove it has more to offer than Disney World, Universal Orlando and other touristy attractions. Another point on the board for Orlando.

With the new soccer stadium, there can also be an opportunity to draw National team events.  Maphre Stadium in Columbus, Ohio is currently the adopted hometown for the Men’s team, but  Orlando could extend an invitation to become the home base for the U.S. Women’s National team who recently played in the Citrus Bowl in 2015. The city was successful when it was one of the host sites for the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

All that can be decided in the future. But for the present it’s important that the city and its leaders maximize these rare opportunities. Orlando is ready to explode onto the national and world sports scene. And a great working relationship with the NFL will be the key that unlocks several other doors.

2016 NFL Predictions (According to Madden ’17)

EA Sports’ Madden is the best football simulation ever. Photo Credit: EA Sports

The grass is freshly cut, the lines painted, the stadiums seats are cleaned, the pads and helmets are clacking together, coaches are yelling and blowing their whistles….it’s football season.

Finally, we can stop talking about contract holdouts, Vontez Burfect’s suspension, Johnny Football’s troubles, Deflate-gate part deux, OBJ versus Josh Norman, drug related suspensions, domestic violence arrests and just watch players do what they do best. If college football is the appetizer, the NFL has arrived as the main course.

The defending Champion Denver Broncos kicked off Thursday night in the Mile High City with a thrilling come from behind 21-20 victory over the Carolina Panthers in a Super Bowl 50 rematch.

For many the official kickoff of football season is when the latest edition of EA Sports Madden Football video game is released. The 2017 edition was released back on August 26th, and I’ve had some time to play around with it.

Due to the many key injuries and recent cuts to get the rosters down to 53 players, I’ve waited until the first roster update to set up a season in franchise mode to run a simulation as accurate as possible with this season’s schedule. I’ve also stayed true to the suspensions of Tom Brady, Le’Veon Bell and others. So here it is, I simulated the 2016 season and here’s what we can expect…. According to Madden, blame them if I’m wrong.

AFC Division winners: Even with Tom Brady sitting out four games to suspension the Patriots still finished 13-3 to win the AFC East and home field advantage in the AFC. Here’s a look at how each division shook out.

  
  

NFC Division winners: The NFC went as expected by most accounts. The Arizona Cardinals who are the popular choice to make it all the way to Houston for the Super Bowl, secured home field advantage with a 12-4 record. Even though the New Orleans Saints had the same record, the Cards held the tiebreakers for 1st place.

  
 AFC Wild Card winners: The Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans. I don’t think it would be a surprise if the AFC North got two teams into the playoffs. Within the past five years they’ve gotten three in. The surprise is that one of the teams is the Ravens and not the Steelers who in this simulation had a 9-7 season.

Seeing the Tennessee Titans make the playoffs as the second AFC South team is a bit of a surprise. I think most prognosticators would’ve peg the Houston Texans or Indianapolis Colts to win the AFC South and represent the division in the tournament. Overall I like the direction the entire AFC South division is headed. All four teams have their franchise QB and are building stout young rosters on both sides of the ball.

NFC Wild Card winners: New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons. It’s been a while since the Giants have been in the playoffs. They’re due. You know what happens when the G-Men get in. The Falcons need to get their franchise headed in a better direction going into a new stadium in 2017. This would be a good step if it really happens.

Rookies of the Year: The AFC offensive award went to Paxton Lynch, even though Denver had a 3-13 record. Lynch took the starting job from Trevor Siemian and threw for 3,160 yards, 15 touchdowns and 15 interceptions with a QB rating of 71.7. The NFC offensive award went to Carson Wentz who led the Eagles to a 11-5 record. Wentz threw for 3,444 yards, 25 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions with a QB rating of 97.3.

The defensive awards went to defensive end Robert Nkemdiche of the 12-4 Arizona Cardinals for the NFC, and cornerback Xavien Howard of the 9-6-1 Miami Dolphins. Nkemdiche recorded 69 tackles (51 solo), 13.5 sacks and 8 tackles for loss. Howard made 86 tackles (67 solo) and intercepted 5 passes and had 2 forced fumbles.

Defensive Players of the Year: Middle linebacker Wesley Woodyard of the Tennessee Titans won the AFC award collecting 143 combined tackles (108 solo), 2.5 sacks and 7 interceptions to lead Tennessee to a 10-6 record.

Cameron Jordan of the 12-4 New Orleans Saints won the NFC award. The defensive end collected 18.5 sacks, 3rd best in the NFL behind J.J. Watts 21.5 and Cameron Wake’s 20.5. Jordan also added 83 total tackles (66 solo), and 15 tackles for loss.

NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers won his second Most Valuable Player award by leading the NFL in passing yards (5,253), coming in third in TD passes (37) and throwing only 10 interceptions with a 104.9 QB rating.

NFL Coach of the Year: Bill Belichick–even though on the game he’s named Griffin Murphy–just did his job and led the Patriots to a 13-3 record, 3-1 without Tom Brady due to his suspension.

Wild Card round:  The Wild Card round live up to it’s name. Wild. All four games were decided by one possession. The Giants were the lowest seed (#6) to win. What did you expect? If the Giants get in, they’ll make noise. That’s what they do. Eli Manning went 21 of 31 for 274 yards and 2 touchdowns to lead New York over Philadelphia in a rivalry matchup and Odell Beckham Junior caught 9 passes for 139 yards. Here’s the rest of the Wild Card results.

Divisional round: The Cincinnati Bengals finally win a playoff game! In another thriller, Cincinnati beat the Kansas City Chiefs in a 48-41 classic. Andy Dalton was 26 of 35 for 236 yards and 4 touchdowns to help the Bengals get the playoff victory monkey off their backs. The shocker of Divisional weekend is the 13-3 Patriots losing in Gillette Stadium to the 10-6 Baltimore Ravens 17-7. Although it shouldn’t come as much of a shock, these teams have history and the Ravens have had the better of it in the playoffs lately. Here’s how the rest of the round looked.

Championship Round: In the NFC, Eli Manning once again has the Giants on the brink of going to another Super Bowl. Eli either misses the playoffs or wins Super Bowls, but that wasn’t the case in this simulation. Drew Brees and the Saints end the Giants season. While on the AFC side, for the second consecutive season, the Bengals found themselves in another playoff war with a divisional rival.  Super Bowl 51: New Orleans Saints vs. Cincinnati Bengals. So not only do the Bengals win their first playoff game in over two and a half decades, they make it all the way to the Super Bowl. Only in virtual reality. I’m kidding, but I’m not. I’m a die hard Steelers fan. However, the Bengals trip to the Super Bowl ended like their other two appearances, in heartbreak. Drew Brees went 27 of 37 for 315 yards and a touchdown to bring New Orleans their second Lombardi trophy in a 35-21 victory. 

Like I said, these predictions/simulation are on EA Sports and Madden. I’d be surprised if any of them happened. Except for Rodgers and Belicheck winning MVP and Coach of the Year. I’d expect that.

2016 NFL Rookies Superlatives

How will the rookies of 2016 fare? We take a guess?

How will the rookies of 2016 fare? We take a guess?

The 2016 NFL draft class had little star power coming into the annual spring meeting, compared to years past. Although, as a group, the story was the Ohio State Buckeye draftees (5 first round picks, 12 overall).

But, even without the star prospects (2017 Leonard Fournette), there should be a few players that help teams take the next step. 36 linebackers were chosen, that was the most of any position. By comparison, there were only 15 quarterbacks selected. It appears teams are making more of an effort to get after the passer. Who can blame them after the way the Denver Broncos proved in the playoffs that defense still wins championships in this offensive slanted league.

But back to the rookie class of 2016. When you have 253 players selected and close to a hundred more signed as free agents, it’s not an exact science to project who will be the standouts and flame outs years from now. But hey, that’s what makes this fun.

So here’s how I think this year’s class will fare at some point in their career.

Most likely to lead the league in passing yards: Cardale Jones, Buffalo Bills. Cardale Jones rose to the National spotlight when he led the Ohio State Buckeyes to the first ever College Football Playoff Championship in 2014, after starting quarterback J.T. Barrett went down with a season ending injury. Many thought he should’ve entered the draft after that 3-game run, but he went back to school to finish his degree and improve his game. It didn’t work out on the field as he struggled, and lost his starting job after eight games. But, I always said Jones’ skill set is built more for the pro game than the fast break, gimmicky, spread offenses in college. His cannon of an arm and 6’5″ 250 pound frame is the pro-type NFL scouts look for at the QB position. I compare him to two-time Super Bowl winning QB Ben Roethlisberger when he entered the 2004 draft out of Miami of Ohio. Jones will start his career on the bench behind Tyrod Taylor, but the keys to the car in Buffalo will eventually be his. With offensive weapons like Sammy Watkins, tight end Charles Clay and running back LeSean McCoy, Jones will have the weapons to put up big numbers.

Most likely to lead the league in rushing: Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys. The 4th pick in the draft could very likely accomplish this feat in his rookie season. “Zeke” will be running behind arguably the best offensive line in the League, and with Tony Romo out for the foreseeable future, he will be featured more now that they’ll be breaking in fellow rookie and 4th round pick Dak Prescott at quarterback.

Most likely to lead the league in catches/receiving yards: Sterling Shepard, New York Giants. The 2nd round pick, gets to play with Eli Manning who likes to throw it around the field, and across from Odell Beckham Junior who is going to draw more double teams and bracketed coverage, giving Shepard more opportunities. The Oklahoma Sooner product has been compared to Tyler Lockett, but the best comparison may be to his Giants teammate, the often injured Victor Cruz, who’s spot he’s likely to take.

Most likely to lead the league in total touchdowns (non-QB): Ezekiel Elliott is a dual threat as a runner and receiver, a three down back. It won’t be a surprise to see him flirt with having 15+ rushing touchdowns, and 5+ receiving touchdowns a season for the Cowboys.

Most likely to lead the league in interceptions: Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville Jaguars. Gus Bradley is building a defense similar to the one he coached in Seattle. The pass rushers they have are going to put all kinds of pressure on opposing QBs. So what does that mean? More wounded ducks for a multi talented DB like Ramsey to get his hands on. The 6’1″ 209 pound cornerback reminds me of the late Sean Taylor with his ball hawking ability and speed to fly from sideline to sideline.

Most likely to lead the league in sacks: Leonard Floyd, Chicago Bears. The 6’6″ outside linebacker out of the University of Georgia is a flat out athletic FREAK. His size and speed (4.6 40-yd dash) with a 35 inch vertical leap, has the athleticism that is reminiscent of Super Bowl MVP Von Miller. To begin his career, the Bears coaches will make it simple for him by just sending him flying off the edges to get the quarterback. Floyd could very well be the next great Bears defender following in the footsteps of Brian Urlacher, Mike Singletary, And Dick Butkus.

Most likely to lead the league in turnovers: Christian Hackenberg, New York Jets. The Jets selected Hackenberg out of Penn State with the 51st pick in the second round, but re-signed Ryan Fitzpatrick for one-year, so they won’t be counting on the rookie anytime soon. However Hackenberg is definitely in their future plans. I was never a fan of his, during his time in Happy Valley. In three seasons he threw 30 interceptions to 48 touchdowns, while completing only 56% of his pass attempts. Draft gurus like ESPN’s Mel Kiper at one point projected him to be the number QB selected when he entered the draft. That obviously wasn’t the case, because the book is out on him. And, it doesn’t read well. He was also accused of throwing his coaches and Nittany Lion teammates under the bus during the pre-draft process.

Most likely to be a bust, and fade into obscurity: Joey Bosa, San Diego Chargers. I hope I’m wrong on this one as a fellow Ohio State alum. But, being a holdout in the fashion he was, it doesn’t bold well for him. He missed all of training camp and the preseason. The only saving grace is that other Charger rookie holdouts–16 to be exact–like LaDanian Tomlinson, Junior Seau, Philip Rivers and Shawne Merriman worked out okay. Plus, Bosa isn’t playing QB or another complicated position like outside linebacker or in the defensive secondary, so you would think the Chargers coaching staff would just turn him lose and say “Go get the ball carrier” or “just get the quarterback”, making his transition simple.

Most likely to be a Hall of Famer: Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys. Look, I’ve bought into the preseason hype. I did in preseason game number one. Check the tweets below and the time stamp.

    

Actually, I was a fan of his when he was at Mississippi State. Prescott probably won’t lead the NFL in passing yards or touchdown passes in a season, but he has all the pieces around him to win games, and that is what matters most. He’s fallen into the perfect situation, a la Russell Wilson in Seattle. The Cowboys have lucked up and found their new millennium triplets in Dez Bryant, Ezekiel Elliott and now Dak. Plus, this offensive line has the potential to be as dominate as the “Great Wall of Dallas” that led Emmitt Smith to the most rushing yards in NFL history. If Dak can channel his inner Troy Aikman–and Jerry Jones can avoid messing it up by forcing the chronically injured Tony Romo back into the lineup–these Cowboys can have a measure of success they haven’t had since the early-mid 1990’s. That would help Prescott’s case to get a gold jacket and bust in Canton one day.

The New York Giants Mt. Rushmore

The Giants have been making history for 90 plus seasons.

The Giants have been making history for 90 plus seasons.

The New York Football Giants are the only remaining team that joined the NFL in 1925. Therefore you know that they have a storied and proud history.

In their 90 seasons, they have won 673 regular season games, which ranks 3rd in NFL history. Their 48 playoff victories ranks 5th in League History. They’ve won 8 League Championships, 4 before the AFL-NFL merger and 4 in the Super Bowl (XXI, XXV, XLII, XLVI) era. They’ve appeared in 19 Championship games, won 11 Conference Championships, won 16 Division championships, while making the playoffs 31 times.

28 Giants players have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But I have to choose only four to be the face of such a rich history. The following are the Giants Mount Rushmore.

CRITERIA:

  • No owners, unless they were also coaches, and their place on this list is based on their contributions as coach. No General Managers or Personnel executives. Just those who directly affected the games on Sunday. I will make a separate list for those contributors soon. 
  • Key contributors to the team’s history and success, not just fan favorites or box office draws.
  • Can you tell the franchise’s story without them? If no, they’re on the list.

Lawrence Taylor (1981-1993) is arguably the greatest defensive player in NFL history. He was ranked 3rd by NFL.com on their “Top 100: NFL’s Greatest Players” back in 2010. When he retired in 1993, his 132.5 sacks were the most in franchise history. The 10-time Pro Bowler and 10-time All-Pro led the Giants to two Super Bowl titles (XXI, XXV). In 1986 he was awarded the AP NFL MVP, and he’s a member of both the NFL 75th Anniversary and NFL 1980’s All-Decade team. His iconic jersey number 56 is retired by the organization, and he was inducted into the Ring of Honor in 2010. In 1999, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Bill Parcells (1983-1990) along with LT was the driving force behind those 1980’s Giants that won two Lombardi Trophies after the 1986 and 1990 seasons, and restored the Giants franchise to its past glory. The “Tuna” was named AP NFL Coach of the Year, Sporting News Coach of the Year, and UPI NFL Coach of the Year with the club in 1986, and led the “G-Men” to 3 NFC East titles during his tenure. He was inducted into the Giants Ring of Honor in 2010, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013. 

Y.A. Tittle (1961-1964) played professional football for seventeen seasons, and I must admit, obviously I am too young to have seen him play. But by all accounts, he is a pilar in the NFL and Giants history. Although the majority of his career was spent with the San Francisco 49ers (1951-1960), his time in New York is considered one of the best times in the franchise history. After being traded to New York at the age of 34, Tittle won three consecutive MVP awards (1961-1964) and led the team to three consecutive League Championship games. He threw for a NFL record 7 touchdown passes in one game against the Washington Redskins, a record he shares with seven others including Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Nick Foles. When he retired in 1964, his 96 touchdown passes ranked 1st in team history–he’s now 5th. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971, and the Giants retired his number 14 jersey and made him a charter member of their Ring of Honor.

Michael Strahan (1993-2007) post football career may turn out to be better than his on-field career was, and that’s saying something when you consider he retired as the Giants all-time leader in sacks (141.5) and combined tackles (851, 659 solo & 192 assisted), while leading the team to an improbably victory over the then undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Strahan is a 6-time All-Pro (four-times 1st-team) and a 7-time Pro Bowl selection. Twice he led the NFL in sacks, and won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2001. His 22.5 sacks during that season is still the single season record. He’s a member of the NFL’s 2000’s all-decade team, and the Giants Ring of Honor. NFL.com ranked him 99th on their “100 Greatest Players” list in 2010, and in 2014 he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

Giants fans what do you think? Is this the Giants Mount Rushmore? Or did I leave someone out? If so who would you choose and who would you replace? I want to hear from you.

The Washington Redskins Mt. Rushmore

The Washington franchise had a good and bad history, the latter involving this logo. But, on the field their success in undeniable.

The Washington Redskins have a positive and negative history. The latter involves their slur of a nickname that has offended many, but also owner Dan Snyder’s reluctance to make a change has left a bitter taste in the mouth of many NFL fans. We can argue until the end of time about what they should or shouldn’t do when it comes to this controversy. I think the easy solution would be to call themselves the Washington Warriors and use their old logo with the spear on the helmet from 1965-69, or a cursive W similar to the one on the MLB Nationals hats, while keeping the team colors. But enough about that.

The positive surrounds the decades of success they’ve had on the field as they’ve won the 5th most games in NFL history (578). Since their first season in 1932, Washington has won 5 League Championships, 2 before the AFL-NFL merger in 1937 and 1942, 3 Super Bowls (XVII, XXII, XXVI), 5 Conference Championships, 14 Division titles, and made the playoffs 24 times.

19 men who’ve played in a Washington uniform have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but only four can be on the team’s Mount Rushmore.

CRITERIA:

  • No owners, unless they were also coaches, and their place on this list is based on their contributions as coach. No General Managers or Personnel executives. Just those who directly affected the games on Sunday. I will make a separate list for those contributors soon. 
  • Key contributors to the team’s history and success, not just fan favorites or box office draws.
  • Can you tell the franchise’s story without them? If no, they’re on the list.

Darrell Green (1983-2002) was the definition of a shut down corner that paved the way for the likes of the Deion Sanders, Darrell Revis’ and Richard Sherman’s. Most football fans remember him for his elite speed; four times he won the NFL’s Fastest Man Competition. Green has the record for playing the most seasons (20) and games (295) by a defensive back with one franchise. The 7-time Pro Bowler (1984, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1996, 1997) and 4-time All-Pro (1986, 1987, 1990, 1991) won two Super Bowl Championships (XXII, XXVI) with Washington. He’s the team’s all-time leader in tackles (1,163), interceptions (54), and defensive touchdowns (8). Green is a member of the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade Team, the Redskins Ring of Fame, 70th Greatest Redskins and Pro Football Hall of Fame (2008). in 2010, NFL.com ranked him 75th on their “100 Greatest Players” list.

Joe Gibbs (1981-1992; 2004-2007) is the franchise’s all-time leader in coaching wins (154) and led them to three Super Bowl victories (XVII, XXII, XXVI), and twice he was named Coach of the Year (1982, 1983). Gibbs is the only NFL coach to win three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks and starting running backs. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996. He’s inducted into the Redskins Ring of Fame.

Sammy Baugh (1937-1952) played in an era where players were ironmen, playing on both offense and defense. The 6-time All-Pro (1937, 1940, 1942, 1943, 1945, 1947, 1948) and 5-time All-Star (1938-1942) was a two time NFL Player of the Year (1947, 1948) and led the ‘Skins to two NFL Championships in 1937 and 1942. Baugh is still the franchise leader in touchdown passes (187) and 3rd in passing yards (21,886). He’s a member of the NFL 50th and 75th Anniversary, and the NFL 1940s All-Decade Team. Washington made his jersey number 33 the only officially retired one in team history, and inducted him into the Redskins Ring of Fame and 70 Greatest Redskins. He was a member of the charter 1963 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Sonny Jurgensen (1964-1974) is second in franchise history in passing touchdowns (179), passing yards (22,585), completions (1,831) and attempts (3,155). The 5-time Pro Bowler and 3-time All-Pro led Washington to the NFL Championship in 1960. Five times Jurgensen led the NFL in passing yards (1961, 1962, 1966, 1967, 1969) and twice he led the League in touchdown passes (1961, 1967). Jurgensen is a member of the NFL’s 1960s All-Decade Team, the 70 Greatest Redskins list and the team’s Ring of Fame. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983.

There you have it. Do you agree or disagree Redskins fans? If so, who’s not on the list that you would put on yours, and who would you replace. I want to hear from you.

The Seattle Seahawks Mt. Rushmore

The great Northwest’s team has had a great run in the last decade.

The Seattle Seahawks have had a good run in the last four years, making the playoffs each season, winning Super Bowl XLVIII, and nearly winning Super Bowl XLIX if it weren’t for some terrible play calling. However, this franchise is approaching middle age, having been an NFL franchise for 42 years and playing 40 seasons thus far.

The Pacific Northwest’s team has won 3 NFC Championships since 2005, made the playoffs 8 times, and won the NFC West 6 times. The Seahawks have enjoyed a great level of success in the last decade, but being in the far corner of the country has caused many of their greats of the past–from when the teams wasn’t as successful–to have been forgotten. But, they’ll get their due here. This is my Mount Rushmore for the Seattle Seahawks.

CRITERIA:

  • No owners, unless they were also coaches, and their place on this list is based on their contributions as coach. No General Managers or Personnel executives. Just those who directly affected the games on Sunday. I will make a separate list for those contributors soon. 
  • Key contributors to the team’s history and success, not just fan favorites or box office draws.
  • Can you tell the franchise’s story without them? If no, they’re on the list.

Steve Largent (1976-1989) is one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history, and many have disrespectfully forgotten his greatness. Largent was the guy the great Jerry Rice was chasing and eventually passed. When THIS #80 retired, he held all of the major records for a receiver in NFL history, including most catches (819), receiving yards (13,089) and touchdown catches (100). He also played 177 consecutive games with a catch, which was then a record. He’s the first player to catch 100 touchdowns in a career. All of these are still Seattle franchise records. Largent is the first Seahawk player to ever make a Pro-Bowl, a feat he accomplished seven times. He was a 5-time All-Pro, a member of the Seahawks 35th Anniversary Team and NFL 1980s All-Decade Team. In 1985 he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His jersey number 80 was retired in 1992.

Walter Jones (1997-2009) is considered by many to be the best offensive lineman during his career. Jones was a 9-time Pro Bowl selection and 7-time All-Pro. He paved the way for Shaun Alexander to become the franchise’s all-time leading rusher. He was honored by being selected to the NFL’s 2000s All Decade Team, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014. The Seahawks retired his jersey number 71 in 2010, making him only the third player in team history to receive such an honor.

Cortez Kennedy (1990-2000) was an 8-time Pro Bowl selection and 5-time All-Pro. When he retired, he was the Seahawks 4th all-time leader in sacks (58) and 3rd in tackles (568). In 1992 he was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Kennedy is a member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team, Seahawks Ring of Honor, and Pro Football Hall of Fame (2012). The Seahawks retired his number 96 in 2012.

Matt Hasselbeck (2001-2010) is Seattle’s all-time career leader in passing yards (29,434), completions (2,559), attempts (4250) and 2nd in touchdown passes (174). The 3-time Pro Bowl selection led the team to its first ever Super Bowl (XL loss to Pittsburgh). He’s also a member of the Seahawks 35th Anniversary team.

Twelve’s I want to hear from you. Do you agree or disagree with this list? You would you rather see on it, and you would you replace? Let me know.

The Philadelphia Eagles Mt. Rushmore

Fly, Eagles Fly! This franchise is one of the oldest ever, going back to 1899. Photo Credit: ESPN.com

The Philadelphia Eagles are one of the oldest franchise in Pro Football history, having been around since 1899, first as the Frankford Yellow Jackets as an independent team, then as the Eagles from 1924-1931 in the NFL. But since 1933, they’ve been the Eagles as we know them now, with the exception of the 1943 season when they were the Phil-Pitt Steagles when they had to merge with the Steelers because both teams lost players to fight in World War II.

So you see, they’ve been around for a while. That is why they’re 6th in NFL history in regular season victories (548), won 3 NFL Championships (1948, 1949, 1960) before the AFL-NFL Merger, 13 Division titles with 24 playoff appearances.

With such an extensive history, you can imagine there have been several greats that have worn the green and white, which makes it harder to narrow it down to four players who are the most significant in Eagles history. But, that’s why these exercises are fun.

CRITERIA:

  • No owners, unless they were also coaches, and their place on this list is based on their contributions as coach. No General Managers or Personnel executives. Just those who directly affected the games on Sunday. I will make a separate list for those contributors soon. 
  • Key contributors to the team’s history and success, not just fan favorites or box office draws.
  • Can you tell the franchise’s story without them? If no, they’re on the list.

Reggie White (1985-1992) 124 sacks with the Green and White rank first in team history, and his 794 tackles with the team are still good for 4th on the team’s all-time list. The “Minister of Defense” gained some serious consideration for being on the Green Bay Packers Mount Rushmore as well, the franchise he won Super Bowl XXXI with. White was a 7-time 1st-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection, 1987 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 1987 & 1991 NFC Defensive Player of the Year, and twice led the NFL in sacks (1987,1988) while playing in the “City of Brotherly Love.” The 2005 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee is also a member of the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, as well as its 1990’s and 1980’s All-Decade Teams. The team in his honor retired his Jersey number 92. In 2010, NFL.com ranked him 7th on their “100 Greatest Players” list.

Donovan McNabb (1999-2009) was booed by the Philly fans on draft day after being selected second overall in the 1999 NFL Draft, and all he did was become the most accomplished QB in franchise history, and led the team to its second only Super Bowl (XXXIX), five NFC East titles (4 consecutive 2001-2004) and five NFC Championship game appearances while becoming the team’s all-time leader in passing yards (32,873), touchdown passes (216), completions (2,801) and game winning drives (23). McNabb still holds 16 Eagles records, and was the first QB in NFL history to ever throw for more than 30 touchdowns and fewer than 10 interceptions in a season (2004). The 6-time Pro Bowler is a member of the Eagles Hall of Fame, its 75th Anniversary Team and has his number jersey, number 5, retired.

Chuck Bednarik (1949-1962) has an award named after him, therefore like a couple of other players on in my Mount Rushmore’s series for each team, it’s a given he’s on the list. He played both center and linebacker during his time with the Eagles, while leading the team to two NFL Championships (1949, 1960) and earning 10 All-Pro and 8 Pro Bowl selections. Bednarik is a member of the NFL’s 50th and 75th Anniversary All-Time Team’s, as well as its 1950’s All-Decade Team. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967 and The Eagles inducted him into their Hall of Fame in 1987. His jersey, number 60, is retired by the organization. In 2010, NFL.com ranked him 35th on their “100 Greatest Players” list.

Brian Dawkins (1996-2008) was the leader of the Eagles defense that became NFC Champions in 2004 and won 4 consecutive NFC East titles, while playing in five NFC Championship games. Dawkins is the first player in NFL history to have 30 interceptions and 30 sacks in a career, and to record a sack, forced fumble, interception and catch a touchdown pass in the same game. He made 5 All-Pro (4 1st-Team) teams and 7 Pro Bowls as an Eagle. He’s a member of the NFL 2000’s All-Decade Team and the Eagles 75th Anniversary team. The team retired his jersey, number 20, and he’s eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017.

What you think Philly fans? I know how tough you guys can be. Would this be your Mount Rushmore, or is there a name missing you’d put on here? And if so, you would you replace?

The New Orleans Saints Mt. Rushmore

The Saints have turned the Superdome into a true home field advantage, something they couldn’t say for over two decades.

The Mercedes Benz Superdome, where the New Orleans Saints have called home since 1975, has seen several great iconic sports moments. But for a majority of its existence, it was not due to the home team. The Saints are celebrating their 50th season of Pro Football in 2016. At the start of their time as a franchise, you wouldn’t think they would ever have much to celebrate.

New Orleans didn’t make a playoff appearance for the first 20 season of their existence. Then once they did in 1987, they went on to lose in each of their first four Wild Card appearances. It wasn’t until their 33rd season that they finally broke through and won a playoff game (2000; 31-28 over the St. Louis Rams). New Orleans suffered 25 losing seasons from 1967-2005 and 8 seasons of 8-8 or 9-7 results. This is why they were dubbed the “Aint’s” by several of their own fan base, who also wore paper bags over their heads to their games. They have the second fewest wins (331) by any NFL team with 50 seasons or more.

But their more recent history, is one that they, and their fans in and around the French Quarter can be proud of. Since 200, they’ve had 5 winning seasons, won 3 Division titles, made the playoffs 5 times, and most importantly, won a Super Bowl (XLIV).

I’m not aware of their plans to celebrate their golden anniversary, but I’ll do so by naming the four people this franchise has to thank for making them revenant on and off the field. This is my Mount Rushmore for the New Orleans Saints.

CRITERIA:

  • No owners, unless they were also coaches, and their place on this list is based on their contributions as coach. No General Managers or Personnel executives. Just those who directly affected the games on Sunday. I will make a separate list for those contributors soon.
  • Key contributors to the team’s history and success, not just fan favorites or box office draws.
  • Can you tell the franchise’s story without them? If no, they’re on the list.

Drew Brees (2006-present) transformed New Orleans from the “Aint’s” into Champs. Brees arrived in the “Crescent City” coming off a potentially career ending shoulder injury on his throwing arm, and all he’s done is become one of the most prolific passers in NFL history. He’s the team’s all-time leader in passing yards (48,555), touchdown passes (348), wins by a QB (94), completions (4,240) and attempts (6,276). Brees holds 25 Saints passing records, and was MVP of the team’s only Super Bowl (XLIV) appearance and victory.

“Cool Brees” also holds 19 NFL passing records; most consecutive games with a touchdown pass (54), most seasons with 5,000+ passing yards (4), first quarterback to pass for 40 or more TD’s in consecutive seasons, first QB to pass for 3,000 passing yards by week 9, first to pass for 4,000 yards in the first 12 games of a season, and first to throw for 4,000+ yards in 10 straight seasons, among others. Combined with his time in San Diego, Brees has the 4th most passing yard total in NFL history (60,903). 

Willie Roaf (1993-2001) was a 7-time Pro Bowl at offensive tackle in his time in New Orleans. He was a 5-time All-Pro, and a member of the NFL’s 1990’s and 2000’s All-Decade Teams. In 2012 he became the second Saint inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame base significantly on their time with the franchise.

Ricky Jackson (1981-1993) was the first true Saint player to get his bust in Canton. Along with Roaf, they are the only two Saints Hall of Famers who were inducted based on their time in New Orleans. Jackson was a 5-time Pro Bowl linebacker (1983-1986, 1992) and 5-time All-Pro (1984-1987, 1992) with the team. When he retired after the 1995 season, he held 3 NFL records, most opponents’ fumbles recovered (28), most sacks (128) and most opponents’ fumbles recovered in a season (7).  After the 1993 season, his last with New Orleans, Jackson held 6 team records; most games (195), most sacks in a career (123), most seasons (13), most opponents’ fumbles recovered in a career (26), most opponents’ fumbles recovered in a season (7; 1990) and most sacks in a game (4, 2 times).

Sean Payton (2006-present) arrived along with Drew Brees, and together they changed the culture of New Orleans Saints football. His 87 wins are second in team history, and he’s on pace to pass Jim More (93) for first in 2016. He led the team to the playoffs in his first season with the team (2006) and won NFL Coach of the Year the same season. The Saints have made the playoffs in five of his nine seasons as coach, which included four consecutive appearances (2009-2013) and the team’s first Super Bowl appearance (2009; XLIV) and victory. The team had only made the playoffs five times before his hiring. 

Who Dat Nation what do you think? Did I get it right or would you have gone with a different four? You would you choose and who would you cut? 

The Minnesota Vikings Mt. Rushmore

The Vikings open their new $1 billion dollar stadium in 2016, looking to add to their great past. Photo Credit: Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings and their fans are ready to start a new area in the “Twin Cities.” They’re ready to christen a brand new $1.061 billion stadium to house a team coming off their first NFC North division title since 2009, and looking to take the next step.

While the Vikes are ready to make new history, their past is very decorated. Since their first professional season in 1961, Minnesota has won 1 NFL Championship (1969, pre NFL-AFL Merger), 4 Conference Championships, 19 Division titles, while making the playoffs 28 times. Several iconic, and colorful players, who laid the groundwork for the way the game is played today wore the Purple and Gold. The following four are the ones I have chosen as the face of the VIkings Mount Rushmore.

CRITERIA:

  • No owners, unless they were also coaches, and their place on this list is based on their contributions as coach. No General Managers or Personnel executives. Just those who directly affected the games on Sunday. I will make a separate list for those contributors soon.
  • Key contributors to the team’s history and success, not just fan favorites or box office draws.
  • Can you tell the franchise’s story without them? If no, they’re on the list.

Fran Tarkenton (1961-1966, 1972-1978) held every major NFL passing record when he retired, and was the first true mobile QB in League history. He is the Vikings career leader in wins (91), passing yards (33,098), passing touchdowns (239), completions (2,635), and attempts (4,569). The 1975 NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year led Minnesota to 3 NFC Championship titles (1973, 1974, 1976). Tarkenton, also known as the “Mad Scrambler”, was a 9-time Pro Bowl and 2-time All-Pro selection. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986, and the team retired his number 10 jersey. Tarkenton is a member of the Vikings Ring of Honor, 25th and 40th Anniversary Teams, as well as was named one of the 50 Greatest Vikings in 2010.

Cris Carter (1990-2001) got off to a rough start in his professional career off the field when he was with the Philadelphia Eagles, but in Minneapolis he found his way. Carter is Minnesota’s all-time leader in receptions (1,004), receiving yards (12,383), and receiving touchdowns (110). The 8-time All-Pro and 3-time 1st-team All-Pro is the second player in NFL history to catch more than 1,000 passes in a career. When he retired in 2002, after a stint with the Miami Dolphins, Carter was second to Jerry Rice in the major career receiving records, and still holds 13 NFL records. He was selected to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team, the Vikings 40th Anniversary Team and 50 Greatest Vikings. He was inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor in 2003 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

Adrian Peterson (2007-Present) is already the Vikings all-time leader in rushing yards (11,675), rushing touchdowns (97) and carries (2,381) in only 9 seasons, even though he missed all but one game in 2014 due to suspension. The 2012 NFL MVP and NFL Offensive Player of the Year rushed for the coveted 2,000 yard mark the same season, and fell 9-yards short of taking the mark for most yards in a single season in NFL history (2,097). All this was coming off a season where he suffered a torn ACL in the final game of the Vikings previous season. “AP” is a 7-time Pro Bowl, 7-time All-Pro selection, a member of the benchmark 10,000 rushing yards club, and is 17th on the all-time rushing list and climbing. 3-times he has led the League in rushing (2008, 2012, 2015). In 2010, he was selected as a member of the 50 Greatest Vikings list.

Bud Grant (1967-1983, 1985) coached the Vikings to their only NFL Championship in 1969, and he is the first coach in League history to lead a team to four Super Bowls (IV, VIII, IX, XI). Grant’s 158 regular season wins are the most by any coach with Minnesota, and the team won 11 division titles with him at the helm. When he retired, his 161 combined regular season and playoff wins made him the eight most successful coach in NFL history. The 1976 NFL Coach of the Year was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994, and is a member of the Vikings Ring of Honor, 25th Anniversary Team, and 50 Greatest Vikings list.

Viking’s fans I want to hear from you. Agree or Disagree with this Mount Rushmore? Let me know what you think.

The Chicago Bears Mt. Rushmore

Soldier Field, the oldest NFL stadium (1924), is as iconic as the players that called it home during their careers.

The Chicago Bears are the NFL’s oldest franchise along with the Cardinals franchise. Founded in 1920, and originally called the Decatur Staleys, the Bears have the most wins in League history (741) and the highest win percentage (.570). In their 96 year history, the Bears organization has won 9 NFL Championships, 8 before the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, and the other in Super Bowl XX with a team that is arguably the best of all-time. They’ve won 4 Conference championships, 18 Division titles and made the playoffs 26 times.

Fourteen Bears players have had their number retired, which ranks 4th among teams in North American professional sports. Twenty-Six former Bears are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. So that makes it tough to narrow it down to which four are the most significant in team history to put on their Mount Rushmore. But these are the guys I think make the cut.

CRITERIA:

  • No owners, unless they were also coaches, and their place on this list is based on their contributions as coach. No General Managers or Personnel executives. Just those who directly affected the games on Sunday. I will make a separate list for those contributors soon.
  • Key contributors to the team’s history and success, not just fan favorites or box office draws.
  • Can you tell the franchise’s story without them? If no, they’re on the list.

George Halas (1920-1983) “Papa Bear”, as many knew him, was not only the founder and owner of the Bears, but is still its all-time winningest coach with 324 wins including the playoffs. He won a total of 8 NFL Championships as owner or coach. The number 7 he wore as a player is retired, and the uniforms worn to this day by the player’s bears his initials “GSH” on their upper left sleeves. The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio is on George Halas Drive in his honor.

Walter Payton (1975-1987) “Sweetness” is widely recognized as the greatest NFL running back of all-time. When he retired in 1987, his 16,726 rushing yards was not only the most in team history, but NFL history. He still holds 5 NFL records. The Super Bowl XX Champion is not only the team’s leading rusher, but also has the most touchdowns ever scored in team history (125) which was also a league record at the time of his retirement. Payton was a 3-time NFL MVP (1976,1977,1985), 2-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year (1977, 1985), 6-time 1st-team All-Pro, 3-time 2nd-team All-Pro, and 9-time Pro Bowler. He’s also a member of the 1970’s and 1980’s NFL All-Decade team, as well as the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. His iconic number 34 jersey is still one of the most popular selling amongst fans and is retired by the organization.

Dick Butkus (1965-1973) was known as “the most feared man in football” during his days leading the Defense on the shores of Lake Michigan. He played during a time when defensive statistics weren’t kept, so his greatness isn’t as documented as the players of today. But, Butkus was a 2-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 8-time Pro Bowler, 6-time 1st-team All-Pro, 2-time 2nd-team All-Pro, and member of the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time team, the 1960’s and 1970’s All-Decade teams. His number 51 is retired by the organization. 

Mike Ditka (1961-1966 player; 1982-1992 coach) The coach was “Iron Mike” before Heavyweight Boxing Champion Mike Tyson ever burst onto the sports scene. As a player with the Bears, Ditka was a 5-time Pro Bowl tight end, 5-time All-Pro and won an NFL Championship with the team. He was the 1961 Rookie of the Year and the first tight end inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988. He is a member of the NFL’s 50th and 75th Anniversary All-Time teams.

As coach of the Bears he won the team’s first and only Super Bowl in the 1985 season. He earned 106 wins in his tenure in Chicago and was named Associate Press NFL Coach of the year twice (1985, 1988), United Press International NFL Coach of the Year twice (1985, 1988), Sporting News NFL Coach of the Year (1988) and Pro Football Weekly NFL Coach of the Year (1988).

There you have it. The Bears Mount Rushmore. Fans of the “Monster’s of the Midway” let me know what you think. Should Gale Sayers, Mike Singletary, or Red Grange be on the list? I want to hear your opinion.