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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 →

Happy 80th Birthday Jim Brown 1

Posted on February 17, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Happy 80th Birthday Jim Brown!

Happy 80th Birthday Jim Brown!

Though it has been 50 years since he last carried a football in the NFL and most of his records have long been broken, Jim Brown still stands among the greatest ever to play professional football and is arguably still at the top of that list. We wish this legend and American treasurer a happy 80th birthday!

When he retired following the 1965 season at the age of 29, Brown held the NFL record with 12,312 career rushing yards. Though his mark was first passed by Walter Payton in 1984 and has since been eclipsed by seven other players, Brown remains the only player in NFL history to average more than 100 yards rushing per game (104).

Brown was the epitome of a player retiring at the peak of his greatness. In his final NFL season, Brown rushed for 1,544 yards and 17 touchdowns as the Cleveland Browns reached the NFL Championship Game.

In the 1963 NFL season, Brown rushed for 1,863 yards, which was the NFL single season record at the time. The following season, he gained 1,446 yards rushing and then had 114 yards to lead the Browns to what remains the last NFL Championship for Cleveland.

During his nine NFL seasons, Brown led the NFL in rushing an amazing eight times. At the time of his retirement, Brown’s career rushing total was nearly 2,600 more than second place Joe Perry. He also scored a then record 106 career touchdowns.

In the ensuing 50 years since he last wore an NFL uniform, Brown has spent time as an actor, but most importantly he has been a vocal leader in civil rights and supporting inner city youth. It is amazing to think that not only was Brown a great football player, but he was also one of the best college lacrosse players of his era. He was recently prominently involved when Hampton University, a predominantly African American school in Virginia, recently started a varsity lacrosse program.

It is interesting that arguably the greatest player in NFL history shares a birthday with the greatest player in NBA history, Michael Jordan. In fact, when ESPN ranked the top athletes of the 20th Century, Jordan was first and Brown fourth. Read the rest of this entry →

Counting Down the Greatest Offensive Performances in Super Bowl History 3

Posted on February 06, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Max McGee caught more passes in Super Bowl I than he did during the entire 1966 season.

Max McGee caught more passes in Super Bowl I than he did during the entire 1966 season.

Sunday’s Super Bowl will feature a budding star quarterbacking one squad and an aged gunslinger likely facing his final showdown on the other. While we tend to focus on Cam Newton and Peyton Manning, the reality is that victory in the Super Bowl will likely hinge on the performance of someone far less known than either starting quarterback.

Super Bowl history includes a mixture of Hall of Fame players rising to the occasion on the biggest stage of the game and second tier players who picked the Super Bowl to have a career day.

This article marks part two of our look at the top 50 individual offensive performances in Super Bowl history. Of the 50 performances picked for the list, 32 were by players who either are in the Hall of Fame or should realistically expect to receive a bust in Canton at some point. However, when you look at the “best of the best” performances, 19 of the top 25 were by players who are Hall of Fame caliber.

Here is a look at our picks for the 25 best individual offensive performances in Super Bowl history. For this list we looked at statistics, but also considered game situations. That is why the Super Bowl where Joe Montana threw 5 touchdowns was highlighted in the first look at performances 50-26, but his most clutch performance is featured here. We did take into account whether the team won the game, but did not give any weight to who won the game MVP Award as there have been many occasions where you can scratch your head at who received that award.

Be sure to check out part 1 with numbers 50-26. I welcome your comments or ideas as to which performances you think should be on this list.

25. Max McGee – Green Bay Packers – Super Bowl I – 7 rec., 138 yards, 2 TD
It was no surprise that the Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in the first Super Bowl, but it was quite a shocker that one of the stars of the game was aging wide receiver Max McGee. Having caught just four passes in limited action during the season, McGee expected his biggest score of the weekend to be when he broke curfew the night before the game. Yet, after Boyd Dowler suffered a broken collar bone in the first minutes, McGee made history by scoring the first touchdown in Super Bowl history.

24. Kurt Warner – St. Louis Rams – Super Bowl XXXIV – 24-45, 414 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Before the 1999 season Kurt Warner had thrown all of 11 passes in the NFL. In Super Bowl XXXIV he threw the ball 45 times for 414 yards (still the single game Super Bowl record) to lead the Rams to a 23-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans. The Rams marched up and down the field, but were held to just three field goals in the first half and the Titans came all the way back to tie the score at 16. Warner then connected with Isaac Bruce for a 73-yard touchdown that proved to be the game winner.

23. Eli Manning – New York Giants – Super Bowl XLVI – 30-40, 296 yards, 1TD, 0 INT
With his team trailing 17-9 after the New England Patriots scored on the first drive of the second half, Eli Manning completed 17 of 23 passes for 176 yards to lift the New York Giants to their second Super Bowl victory over the Patriots in five years. He was especially impressive when marching the Giants down for the game-winning touchdown as he completed five of six passes for 74 yards.

22. John Elway – Denver Broncos – Super Bowl XXXIII – 18-29, 336 yards, 1TD, 1INT; 1 rushing TD
In his final NFL game, John Elway went out in style by passing for 336 yards and a touchdown and scoring another touchdown on the ground as the Broncos won their second straight Super Bowl. The Broncos seized control early with Elway’s 80-yard touchdown pass to Rod Smith giving them a 17-3 lead. Read the rest of this entry →

Counting Down the Greatest Offensive Performances in Super Bowl History: 50-26 2

Posted on February 03, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Joe Montana was supposed to be the "other quarterback" in Super BOwl XIX, but instead led the 49ers to a dominant victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Joe Montana was supposed to be the “other quarterback” in Super Bowl XIX, but instead led the 49ers to a dominant victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Since Super Bowl I in 1967, the “big game” has become the premier stage for NFL players to either create or cement their legacy. The first 47 Super Bowls are full of special Super Bowl performances. Some were by familiar names that used the Super Bowl to either put a stamp on a Hall of Fame career or propel them into a spot in Canton. But not every Super Bowl hero was a household name before their performance on the big stage. There have been several players whose otherwise unspectacular career includes one shining performance in front of one of the largest television crowds of all-time.

In this article and the second part (which will be posted later this week), we are looking specifically at the 50 best individual performances on offense in a Super Bowl.

To develop the list we did take into account game statistics, but also looked at game situations when analyzing which players and moments were worthy of inclusion. For example, though Joe Montana tossed five touchdowns as the 49ers routed Denver in Super Bowl XXIV, he actually was ranked higher in other Super Bowls because his performance in critical moments was instrumental to their victory.

In ranking performances whether the team won the game was considered, but there have been some Super Bowl performances by players on losing teams that were clearly among the most important. One thing that received little consideration was who was awarded the Super Bowl MVP as there have been numerous occasions when the MVP award has gone to someone other than the player who seemingly provided the best performance.

So below is a countdown of performances 50-26.

50. Kurt Warner – Arizona Cardinals – Super Bowl XLIII – 31-43, 377 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
For a fleeting moment, it appeared that Kurt Warner was going to be the first quarterback to lead two different franchises to Super Bowl victory. He and the Cardinals played well enough to win, but a late Pittsburgh drive denied them of victory. Interestingly enough, Warner holds the record for the top three passing yardage totals in Super Bowl history with his 377 yards in Super Bowl XLIII ranking second.

49. Rod Smith – Denver Broncos – Super Bowl XXXIII – 5 rec., 152 yards, 1 TD
While Terrell Davis and John Elway are the best remembered offensive players from their back-to-back Super Bowl wins, receiver Rod Smith also played an important role in their win over the Falcons. His 80-yard reception in the second quarter helped break the game open and he finished with 152 receiving yards.

48. Michael Pittman – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Super Bowl XXXVI – 29 rushes, 124 yards, 0 TD
While the defense garnered all the headlines during the Buccaneers victory over the Raiders, Michael Pittman was the workhorse for the offense. He rushed for 124 yards, including 75 in the first half as the Buccaneers established control of the contest.

47. Thurman Thomas – Buffalo Bills – Super Bowl XXV – 15 rushes, 135 yards, 1 TD; 5 rec., 55 yards
While the Buffalo Bills didn’t win Super Bowl XXV after missing a last second field goal, Thurman Thomas certainly did everything he could to put them in position to win. He rushed for a 31-yard touchdown to give the Bills a lead early in the fourth quarter and then trailing by two in the final minutes he rushed for 33 yards in the final drive that ultimately ended in the famous Scott Norwood wide right field goal. Read the rest of this entry →

The Biggest Football Injuries of 2015 & How Players Are Recovering 2

Posted on January 18, 2016 by Ashley Andrews
Losing Tony Romo to a broken collarbone twice in the 2015 season derailed the season for the Dallas Cowboys.

Losing Tony Romo to a broken collarbone twice in the 2015 season derailed the season for the Dallas Cowboys.

Football is a tough sport. Injuries are a constant part of the game that can even occur on the practice field when players aren’t even giving it their all. That’s the nature of a contact sport with strong guys that can weigh in at a solid 300 pounds.

But the 2015 season was riddled with hundreds of injuries that sidelined just as many players. Experts are blaming the onslaught of injuries, many of which happened early in the season, on overuse. It’s a result of football teams training and/or playing almost year round.

Past injuries were also a hot topic. One of the biggest stories of 2015 was the NFL concussion lawsuit settlement that is now being appealed. The settlement would pay a total of $1 billion to 20,000 plaintiffs that suffered brain trauma while playing in the NFL.

Let’s check in on how players with some of the most serious injuries this season are recovering.

Ricardo Lockette’s Possible Career-Ending Neck Injury

Mid-way through the NFL season, Seattle Seahawk’s wide receiver Ricardo Lockette suffered one of the scariest injuries of the year. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Lockette said that he was extremely dazed after a hard hit and felt completely numb. He ultimately had to have neck surgery for the disc and ligament damage that he suffered. Lockette felt normal mentally after surgery, but he then began a long physical rehab process that started with just walking down a hall. It’s still uncertain where he’ll be at the beginning of the 2016 season. Read the rest of this entry →

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