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Looking at the 2021 NFL Draft: Beware of the First Round Quarterback 4

Posted on April 29, 2021 by Dean Hybl

Much like 2021, which is mysteriously now a quarter over, the 2021 NFL Draft seems to have snuck up out of nowhere to suddenly be upon us.

Trevor Lawrence is the clear first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but he will not be the only quarterback chosen in the top 10.

Perhaps because there was no NFL Combine in February and because other sports including basketball, baseball and hockey are all back in full swing at the college and pro levels, there doesn’t seem to have been quite as much pre-draft fanfare this year.

Sure, Mel Kiper, Jr. and the many other NFL Draft “experts” have been regularly updating their “draft boards”, but unlike last year where the NFL Draft was the only thing remotely related to sports that happened between mid-March and July, this year the attention of the country is not solely on the draft.

That being said, the NFL Draft usually signals the start of the frenzied NFL year. The 2021 schedule, which will include 17 games for the first time ever, will be announced just a few days after the draft. Though the players and union are trying to minimize the amount of structured off-season work for the players (an action that has been very evident on the field in recent years), there will also be some preseason camps between now and the end of July.

Unlike last year when Roger Goodell hosted the draft from his basement and we were treated to home cameras showing dogs, kids and family celebrations, Goodell and some of the players and team personnel will be together in-person in Cleveland for the draft. So, expect a hybrid event where there will be some of the hugging and celebrating we are used to be seeing at the draft mixed with some family celebrations and at-home coaches.

Looking at the draft itself, we have known for nearly two years that Trevor Lawrence from Clemson would be the first pick in the 2021 draft. Though the hiring of Urban Meyer as the new coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars created some discussion about whether he would prefer Ohio State product Justin Fields, it still appears inevitable that Lawrence’s name will be called first this year.

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How Tailgating Changed in 2020 4

Posted on April 15, 2021 by Martin Banks

For some folks, tailgating is akin to a religion. Fans show up in caravans and trailers the Friday night before the big game and make a weekend-long celebration — or used to do so.

Then, the novel coronavirus pandemic hit. Here’s how tailgating changed in 2020 and what new rituals you might consider keeping as things return to normal.

1. Elvis Has Left the Stadium

It was a sad year for sports stadiums. Instead of rows of roaring fans, they had silent cardboard cutouts standing watch while the real spectators tuned in from their living rooms.

Fortunately, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell expects full stadiums this year, with no reduced capacities or closures foreseen. However, that doesn’t mean that every parking lot will fill to the brim on opening day. They might — cabin fever is a potent motivator — but many people will hesitate to return to crowded venues.

Others merely find they prefer the comforts of home. Unless you pay a king’s ransom, you can’t see much from many seats anyway. On television, you have instant replay and zoom.

Plus, you have full access to your indoor and outdoor kitchens, eliminating many food safety concerns. You need to keep foods like potato salad and ribs either cold or hot, respectively, which can pose challenges during transport. If they enter the danger zone between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, bacteria can grow — and no one wants to get sick.

2. Changing Campus Rules

If college ball is more your game, you might discover that you can’t participate in traditional tailgating activities at all. Many colleges banned the practice outright in 2020, and the decrease in on-campus problems may convince some to keep restrictions in place even after vaccines produce herd immunity.

Other campuses may keep the celebrations but shorten the timeline. For example, in 2020, Clemson restricted tailgating to only those who had parking passes. Season ticket holders received individual game day passes instead of the traditional version to maintain crowd control. They also kept the lots closed until 8 a.m for an 8 p.m. game and required guests to leave instead of tailgating afterward.

3. Events Become More Formal

Other schools chose to limit tailgating by decreasing capacity in alignment with attendance restrictions. For example, LSU allowed a limited number of parking passes on campus for games and allowed attendees to loiter by their vehicles, sipping on food and drink. However, they couldn’t set up the tents and televisions that typify the school’s rich tailgating heritage.

Until all areas lift restrictions, you may encounter similar setups. If so, and you don’t get tickets, consider giving homegating a try. This trend offers considerable advantages over stadium tailgates:

  • It’s easier on the piggy bank: Game day tickets aren’t getting less expensive. Plus, you have to pay rising gas prices and parking fees, possibly road tolls.
  • It’s far less hassle and work: Tailgating requires you to pack everything up and unpack it. In addition to washing dishes, you have to schlep them back and forth from your car. If you have tons of gear, you could pull a muscle setting up a parking lot tailgate.
  • It’s more comfortable: No matter how comfortable your camp chairs are, they pale in comparison to your couch or lounger. Plus, you don’t have to worry about insects or sunburn if you have a screened-in patio for your game-watching pleasure.

4. Intimate Gatherings Get Cozier

One final advantage of moving the tailgate to your home court is cozier, more intimate gatherings. Yes, the party-like atmosphere on game day is a blast — but you also need to contend with intoxicated strangers causing drama at times. You control the guestlist for your castle.

You’ll probably find that folks naturally segregate when you homegate. You’ll have the diehard fans glued to the big screen, while those with less interest in the competition can socialize, play games and enjoy each other’s company in another room.

Tailgating Changed in 2020 — How Will You Adjust?

The great novel coronavirus pandemic changed the face of tailgating. As things gradually return to normal, which of the new traditions will you choose to keep?

Happy 85th Birthday John Madden 5

Posted on April 09, 2021 by Dean Hybl
John Madden led the Oakland Raiders to victory in Super Bowl XI.

Whether from his days as a coach, broadcaster or simply as the name on a video game, John Madden is a football legend known by fans of all generations.

It seems hard to believe that Madden will celebrate his 85th birthday on April 10th. Almost as surprising is that it has been more than a dozen years since Madden retired from broadcasting after three decades as the preeminent color commentator on television. But, of course, his influence lives on in the leading football video game known as Madden NFL.

The journey for Madden from a 21st round NFL Draft pick to the most recognized person in the NFL is truly a remarkable one.

A talented multi-sport athlete, Madden was a boyhood friend of John Robinson, who would go on to a successful career as head coach at the University of Southern California and with the Los Angeles Rams.

Madden played college football at the College of San Mateo for a year, earning a scholarship to the University of Oregon. However, an injury forced him to redshirt and he ultimately finished his college career playing two seasons as a two-way player at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. He was also a catcher on the Cal-Poly baseball team.

The Philadelphia Eagles selected Madden in the 21st round (244th overall pick) of the 1958 NFL Draft. However, a knee injury suffered in training camp ended his dream of playing in the NFL.

After completing his degree, Madden became an assistant coach at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California. He was promoted to head coach in 1962.

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4 Fascinating Benefits of Online Football Betting You Need to Know 4

Posted on March 29, 2021 by Cathy Carter

Embracing online football betting is one of the best decisions you can ever make for your betting adventure. This is because it has a lot of benefits such as providing you with a live betting option as you can bet on a match as it is taking place.

You are provided with lots of betting options on your different leagues and tournaments. So with online football betting, your opportunities are endless. Following are the fascinating benefits of online football betting you need to know:

1. It’s Convenient

Online football betting is more convenient as you don’t have to move to the betting station as you can access the betting site from wherever you are. You can access it on your mobile phone or laptop as long as you have internet access.

All you need to do is visit the betting site using your chosen browser and place your bet on your desired football match in no time. Best of all you are provided with lots of payment options. You need to choose your most convenient method and deposit your bet at your comfort.

2. Simple and Quick Registration

Most betting sites like ufa have simple and quick registration processes so you don’t have to waste a lot of time creating your betting account. Well, you have to fill in your required details like email address, banking details, names among others and you are good to go. It will only take a few minutes of your time. 

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Finally! Congratulations to Hall of Famer Drew Pearson! 2

Posted on February 07, 2021 by Dean Hybl

The Pro Football Hall of Fame voters continued their recent trend of correcting the errors of past committees with the selection on Saturday of “Mr. Clutch” Drew Pearson as a member of the 2021 Hall of Fame Class.

During his decade with the Dallas Cowboys, Drew Pearson had a habit of making the big catch at the right moment to help the Cowboys time and again snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

The favorite target of Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, Pearson was widely recognized as one of the great receivers of his era. Though at the time of his retirement many expected Pearson to easily breeze into the Hall of Fame, his enshrinement was derailed by changes to the game which artificially inflated receiver stats and made the numbers he produced during a time when wide receivers weren’t catching 100 passes a season seem inferior.

Ironically, the reality is the exact opposite as though Pearson (and other top receivers from his era) didn’t catch as many passes as the top receivers of the current NFL, the catches he did make were usually crucial to helping the Cowboys become perennial Super Bowl contenders.

Signed by the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent out of Tulsa in 1973, Pearson, who had started his college career as a quarterback before transitioning to receiver, quickly became a key weapon for the Cowboys.  

As a rookie, Pearson caught 21 passes for 373 yards during the final six games of the regular season to become a favorite target of Staubach. He caught five passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns in the regular season finale against the St. Louis Cardinals and the next week caught two passes for 87 yards and two scores in a playoff victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

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Happy Birthday Captain America! 2

Posted on February 05, 2021 by Dean Hybl
Captain America Roger Staubach.

Happy 79th birthday to one of the iconic figures in NFL history, the true “Captain America”, Roger Staubach.

Throughout his nine seasons as the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, Staubach was known for leading his team to late-game comebacks and improbable victories and thus was also often referred to as “Captain Comeback”.

He seemed to always have the uncanny knack of making the big play needed to lift his team to victory. He led the Cowboys to 23 fourth quarter game-winning drives during his career, including 15 times with his team trailing.

The Cowboys reached the playoffs in eight of his nine seasons as the starting quarterback and he led the Cowboys to the Super Bowl four times (they also reached the Super Bowl in 1970 when he was the backup).

He was named MVP of Super Bowl VI and also led Dallas to the title in Super Bowl XXII.

Staubach was a winner even before joining the Cowboys.

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Al Bumbry: From Bronze Star to AL Rookie of the Year
      May 31, 2021 | 2:21 pm

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month won a Bronze Star in Vietnam before going on to win American League Rookie of the Year honors and playing 14 seasons in the Major Leagues.

      Though only 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds, Al Bumbry was a four-year basketball player at Virginia State College (now University). The school restarted its baseball program during his career and Bumbry hit .578 during his senior season to earn notice from the Baltimore Orioles, who picked him in the 11th round of the MLB Draft.

      Read more »

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