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NFL Injuries That Will Impact the 2016 Season 0

Posted on July 18, 2016 by Scott Huntington

The 2016-2017 NFL season is fast approaching. The first game is a Super Bowl rematch between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, on Thursday, September 8th, and for most fans, it can’t come soon enough.

Before that, though, millions of fans are speculating on everything NFL: Who should I pick for fantasy this year? How will my favorite team perform? Will injuries wreak havoc like last year? They’re all valid questions that fans will be discussing until opening night and beyond.

While the preseason brings a variety of injuries that are speculative in nature, at least in terms of how long they’ll hold a player out, there are several injuries that have a high certainty of impacting the NFL season. These are four of the high-profile NFL injury names to keep an eye on as September approaches:

1. Sammy Watkins

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The Buffalo Bills #1 wide receiver is clearly a star in development. When he’s on the field, he’s electric. However, injuries have derailed him so far at times, with a broken foot putting into question Watkins’ readiness for week one. Recent news is optimistic though, as Watkins posted a video on Instagram of him running, while mentioning that his goal is to “get ready for the first game.” Even if he’s slow or a non-participant during training camp, Bills fans can likely expect him lining up for week one. Read the rest of this entry →

Vintage Video: Happy Birthday Barry Sanders 0

Posted on July 16, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Happy 48th Birthday Barry Sanders!

Happy 48th Birthday Barry Sanders!

It is hard to believe that Barry Sanders turns 48 years old today and that it has been 18 years since he ran wild through the NFL.

Seems like just yesterday that Sanders was winning the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma State and then dazzling the NFL with his elusiveness.

After serving as the under-study to Thurman Thomas for two years at Oklahoma State, Sanders exploded onto the scene in 1988 with a mind-blowing 2,628 yards rushing in just 11 games. He also scored 37 rushing touchdowns and also scored returning both a punt and kickoff.

Part of the star-studded 1989 draft in which four of the top five picks eventually earned a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Sanders was chosen third by the Detroit Lions. He finished second in the NFL in rushing as a rookie and won the first of his four rushing titles the next year.

By 1991, Sanders had the Lions in the playoffs as they defeated the Dallas Cowboys in their playoff opener before losing the NFC Championship Game to the Washington Redskins. Though the Lions would make four additional playoff appearances during his career, they were eliminated in their first playoff game each time.

Sanders reached his zenith in 1997 as he eclipsed the prestigious 2,000 yard mark with 2,053 yards. After gaining 1,491 yards as the Lions went 5-11 in 1998, Sanders surprised the sports world by retiring prior to the 1999 season. He was less than 1,500 yards from passing Walter Payton for what was at the time the top spot on the NFL all-time rushing list.

Because he had just turned 31 years old and had showed no signs of slowing down, his retirement was quite a surprise. In some ways, it mirrors the recent retirement of the best Detroit Lions player since Sanders as Calvin Johnson seems to also be done with the NFL at the age of 30.

In honor of Sanders amazing NFL career, here are some vintage clips of his once-in-a-lifetime moves.
Read the rest of this entry →

Where are They Now? 7 Sports Stars after Retirement 0

Posted on March 14, 2016 by John Harris

Going from having millions of fans worldwide watching your every move and genuinely being one of the best – if not the best – at what you do on the planet, to the realms of being mere mortal is a difficult transition. And it isn’t one that every sportsman is able to navigate successfully. Largely due to a combination of a startling lack of business acumen, poor decisions, lavish lifestyles and divorce (reputedly around the 80% mark for top US athletes), it doesn’t take long for one time heroes to become zeros – sometimes literally when it comes to finances.

In 2009, Sports Illustrated published a report highlighting just how bad this problem is. It found that an astonishing 78% of NFL players find themselves in “financial distress” within just 2 years of retiring. Around 60% of NBA players, who with an average salary of $5million is higher than every other sport, are bankrupt within 5 years of calling it a day on the court.

This isn’t always the case however, here are some examples where top sportsmen have gone on to build a successful – and occasionally surprising –  career after retiring from their former profession.

 

1. Magic Johnson

One of the finest basketball players of all time, the point guard achieved practically everything there was to achieve in the game. During his 14-year career which included 2 comebacks, Johnson won 5 NBA titles, 3 Final MVPs, and 3 regular season MVPs, and even found the time for an Olympic gold medal. He still has the highest average assists per game in history – 11.2, and playoff assists – 12.3.

His career since retirement has been no less successful. Despite a less than auspicious start (his TV show was pulled after 2 months) Johnson found a taste for business and never looked back. He was one of those who invested in Starbucks before anyone had even heard of the now omnipresent coffee shop brand. His company – Magic Johnson Enterprises – has its fingers in many industries from banking to entertainment and has helped the former Laker star earn a reputed $500 million.

 

 

2. George Foreman

Foreman’s recent career has become so successful and high profile that anyone who can’t remember back to a time when everyone didn’t have a cell phone could be forgiven for thinking that this is what he has always done. The rest of us of course know that he was one of the most formidable and talented heavyweight boxers of all time. He will always have a place in boxing folklore due to his part in the Rumble in the Jungle – one the most famous and entertaining fights of all time, but his record stands up for itself: 81 fights, 76 wins, 68 of those by way of KO, and just 5 defeats. And don’t forget that most of those were during the golden era of heavyweight boxing.

ALI FOREMAN

When he came out of retirement at age 45 to knock Michael Moorer (then 27) out, he became the oldest heavyweight world champion in history.  When he finally retired for good, he teamed up with Russell Hobbs Inc, and launched the George Foreman Fat Reducing Grill, which he had helped design. It was an instant success and has sold over 100 million units in less than 15 years. Though he has never disclosed how much he has made from the grill, it is believed at its peak the preacher was earning $4.5 million a month. In total, it is estimated he has earned in excess of $200 million from the endorsement. A lot more than he than he ever made in the ring, actually. Read the rest of this entry →

Crucial Decisions Upcoming for Dallas Cowboys in 2016 NFL Draft 1

Posted on March 07, 2016 by Chris Kent

As the 2016 NFL draft approaches, the Dallas Cowboys find themselves in a quandary with the fourth overall pick. Do they draft a quarterback to succeed an aging Tony Romo or pick an impact defender who can round out an average defense and make them Super Bowl caliber within a year or two? While the entire Cowboys’ organization of scouts, personnel people, and coaches, will be involved in the player evaluation process, the decision will ultimately come down to the franchise’s head brass of owner Jerry Jones and his son Stephen, the team’s Chief Operations Officer, and head coach Jason Garrett.

Tony Romo will turn 36 before the draft and he is nearing the end of his career with three or four years left to play. With this in mind, many NFL analysts believe it is time for Dallas to draft a quarterback such as North Dakota State University’s Carson Wentz or California’s Jared Goff who are widely regarded as the top two quarterbacks in the draft. Furthermore, the window is closing for the Cowboys to win a Super Bowl in the Romo-era. Romo’s three fractures of his left clavicle dating back to 2010 and his two back surgeries in 2013 have made him more susceptible to injury or re-injury. While he has played through some of those injuries and others – such as the broken rib and punctured lung that he played with in leading Dallas to an overtime win at San Francisco in 2011 – Romo is not as mobile anymore and needs to be protected better. Exposing him to big hits that drive him into the ground is too risky based on his prior back and shoulder injuries.

Helping the Cowboys here is the fact that their offensive line is the strength of the team and is one of the best in the league. Left tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick, and guard Zack Martin are all first round draft picks between 2011 and 2014 that enabled Dallas to rebuild its’ line. Guard La’el Collins was signed by the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2015 but graded out by many scouts as a first-round talent. Those four along with right tackle Doug Free, a nine-year veteran, have formed  a premier unit. Smith is a three-time pro-bowler while Frederick and Martin have appeared twice each.

With quality protection in place, Dallas can turn their attention elsewhere in the draft to help solidify their team. The Cowboys’ core players are Romo, tight end Jason Witten, wide receiver Dez Bryant, Smith, safety Barry Church, linebacker Sean Lee, defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford, defensive back Byron Jones, cornerback Orlando Scandrick, and kicker Dan Bailey.

Adding an impact pass rusher or cover cornerback makes sense and could turn an average defense into a top 10 defense in the league. Dallas ranked last in the league in 2015 in turnover differential at -22. Their 11 takeaways ranked last in the league and their 33 giveaways tied with Tennessee for last in the league. The Cowboys also lacked in getting pressure on the quarterback as their 31 sacks tied for 25th in the league. Furthermore, Dallas ranked 17th in total defense with an average of 348.1 yards allowed per game. Their front seven was leaky at times, allowing 120.9 rushing yards per game which tied with Chicago for 22nd in the league.

All these statistics point to the need for better defense especially in the pass rush and turnover areas. So here are five of the top defensive players along with a sleeper pick that could rise higher in the draft that would fit the Cowboys’ needs.

Joey Bosa – Defensive End, Ohio State

During the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February, Bosa said that he thinks he is the best player available in the draft.

Bosa is relentless and has excellent technique as a pass rusher.

Bosa is relentless and has great technique as a pass rusher.

Others in the media suggested that he is in the mold of J.J. Watt. If he lives up to those lofty descriptions, he will have a major impact for any NFL team. Bosa has good blood lines in the fact that his father and uncle both played in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins. Bosa was consistently productive at Ohio State where he totaled 26 sacks and 51 tackles for a loss during his three seasons in Columbus.

His best season came in2014 when he had 13.5 sacks and 21 tackles for a loss. Last year he had five sacks and 16 tackles for a loss en route to being named a unanimous first-team All-American as well as an All-Big Ten performer. At 6-5 and 275, Bosa has the strength and agility to get to the quarterback. With defensive end Randy Gregory’s recent violation of the league’s substance abuse policy causing him to face a four-game suspension in 2016, this not only makes sense for Dallas but has become a pressing need. Bosa could provide the Cowboys with the consistent pass rusher they have lacked since they parted ways with DeMarcus Ware – the franchise’s all-time sack leader – following the 2013 season.

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Peyton Manning Leaving as a Champion 0

Posted on March 06, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Peyton Manning will retire as a two--time Super Bowl champion.

Peyton Manning will retire as a two–time Super Bowl champion.

Despite rumors in recent days that he wasn’t ready to hang up his cleats, multiple media outlets are now reporting that Peyton Manning will indeed announce his retirement on Monday after 17 NFL seasons.

While the 2015 season included some chinks in Manning’s tightly constructed public persona, you cannot argue Manning’s overall success on the field and that he will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

Regardless of whether you think the Broncos won Super Bowl 50 in spite of Manning, rather than because of him, on the football field he was able to finish in a way that everyone dreams of, as a Super Bowl Champion.

Critics of Manning seemingly took pleasure in pointing out that his 2015 season with just 9 touchdowns and 17 interceptions was among the worst-ever for a Super Bowl quarterback. They seemed to have forgotten that for his fist 16 seasons Manning was a quarterback with few statistical equals.

During each of his first 16 NFL seasons, Manning tossed at least 26 touchdown passes every year, including nine seasons with 30+ touchdowns and an NFL record 55 touchdowns in 2013. He will retire as the NFL career leader with 539 career touchdown passes and 71, 940 career passing yards.

He also will go down as one of the greatest regular season winners in NFL history having led his teams to 10+ victory seasons 14 times and boasting a regular season winning percentage above 70%.

There is no doubt that the competitor in Manning wanted to come back and finish his career with another high-quality regular season. However, given that he will be 40 years old later this month and struggled with multiple injuries over the last year and a half, in the end sticking around really wasn’t a practical option.

Much like Brett Favre five years ago, Manning is having a hard time walking away. However, unlike Favre, Manning is going out with his second Super Bowl trophy in hand. Read the rest of this entry →

Worst Injuries in Football History 4

Posted on March 04, 2016 by Scott Huntington

NFL football is the most popular sport in the United States, which comes as little surprise to most Americans. From opening day to the Super Bowl, football is a weekly phenomenon. However, between all the dazzling Odell Beckham Jr. one-handed grabs and Aaron Rodgers successful Hail Marys, there’s an unsettling truth lurking: Football is – by far – the most dangerous popular sport.

In 2013, more than 4,500 NFL players reached a $765 million settlement with the league after being diagnosed with and/or suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease often caused by a severe blow to the head. CTE is impossible to diagnose until death, but many players report the symptoms, which begin to show around 8-10 years after the infliction. CTE sufferers can experience dizziness, headaches and disorientation, in addition to memory loss, poor judgment and erratic behavior.

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While a big tackle isn’t necessarily going to inflict future CTE among the player being hit every time, there’s no arguing that the potential for CTE is a growing concern every time players take the field. It’s a sad reality that, when you turn on a professional football game, it’s extremely likely that players you’re watching will develop CTE symptoms down the line, purely because how the game is played. No other sport involves as much contact or bang-bang tackles. Football leads significantly as the sport with the most head injuries.

When looking at the types of injuries that are fairly commonplace in the sport, certain gruesome injuries come to mind that effectively demonstrate the sport’s high-risk nature, even beyond the brain:

Mike Utley’s Vertebrae Injury

Mike Utley, a former Lions offensive lineman, suffered perhaps the sport’s more gruesome injury when he severely injured his sixth and seventh vertebrae against the LA Rams on Nov. 17, 1991. Although he gave the crowd a thumbs-up as he was removed from the field, his spinal cord injuries made him a paraplegic. Although his career was finished by the injury, Utley has turned it into a positive, starting the Mike Utley Foundation, which supports treatment for spinal cord injuries.

Read the rest of this entry →

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