For anyone who has trolled past Sports Center on ESPN in the past few months, it is safe to say the National Football League’s offseason this year has been nothing but entertaining. Every year there are trades made, free agents picked up, and coaches fired and hired across the board. What makes this year so different is the magnitude of media coverage devoted to a lot of the changes being made. To date we have witnessed a future Hall of Fame quarterback be dropped from his team of 14 years, a controversial quarterback traded, and a star-studded team, which is home to a Purdue Boilermaker, fall into one major controversy.
Peyton Manning Gets Back on the Horse
As somebody who has grown up in central Indiana, everybody I went to school with were either Bears fans or Colts fans. I’ve always been on Da Bears side. Names like Walter Payton and Jim Harbaugh were easily identified. However, when a particular Tennessee Volunteer was drafted 1st round to the Indianapolis Colts, everyone came to know his name and the fame that would soon follow. He racked up quite a career in both the RCA Dome and Lucas Oil Stadium with 54,828 passing yards, 399 touchdowns thrown, and 198 interceptions. He had two Super Bowl appearances with one of them resulting in a win.
However, he had a few neck surgeries which inhibited his ability to play last season. This led to an abysmal season with a record of 2-14. The Colts earned themselves the first pick overall in the upcoming draft. This enables them to pick up either of the future QB hopefuls Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. This led the executives to not pay Manning his guaranteed $28 million bonus in late March, and instead they dropped him from the team. While this was clearly a business decision, it was felt across the hearts of loyal Colts fans everywhere. It is not often that a phenomenal QB leads his team to a Super Bowl win and is later let go.
Not to worry though, as Manning was picked up by the Denver Broncos with one heckuva signing bonus. What did this mean for the team’s other QB who was the source of controversy?
Tebow Takes Flight
What NFL article could be written nowadays and not mention the polarizing figure Tim Tebow? The Florida Gator grad, Heisman Trophy winner, and 1st round pick to the Denver Broncos became the starting QB in Denver after Purdue Boilermaker Kyle Orton was not received well by the fans for failing to produce wins. Tebow has a unique style of playing in the NFL. He likes to run the ball a lot, which is more often seen in college ball, while the NFL prefers people who throw the ball most of the time. These individuals are called “pocket passers,” and examples would include Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers or New England’s Tom Brady. Tebow’s unconventional style earned him quite the reputation. But once Manning got picked up by Denver, they decided to trade Tebow to another team to avoid any potential controversy in the future.
Who got the former first round pick? Say it with me, everyone, “J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets!” You guessed it. The team with Mark Sanchez decided to grab one of the most polarizing figures in the professional sports. What this means for New York has yet to be discovered, but it certainly has garnered a lot of attention by everyone in the media. One can reasonably predict it will be a topic of discussion for months to come.
Not So Saintly
When you hear the words “Bounty Program”, you might think of Dog the Bounty Hunter, Boba Fett from Star Wars, or even a paper towel company. In the NFL, none of these apply. The New Orleans Saints, home to the famed Boilermaker Drew Brees, has become the source of hullabaloo over having benefits paid out to members of the defense in taking out key offensive members of the opposing teams.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell put the smack down on important members of the Saints staff. Head Coach Sean Payton received a one year suspension, General Manger Mickey Loomis was tagged with an eight game ban, Assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt got a six game ban, and former Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams was banned indefinitely. Keep in mind that each person on suspension also loses pay. The New Orleans organization itself was fined $500,000.
Williams’ ban hurts the St. Louis Rams as he was recently named their defensive coordinator. Recently, Payton, Loomis, and Vitt are appealing their suspensions. This allows them to stay in their positions until the NFL executives meet to make a ruling. There are also rumors going every which way at this point regarding who would take over Payton’s spot as head coach. Even Payton’s former mentor and Super Bowl Champ Bill Parcells’ name has been dropped. The only concern for Parcells would be prolonging his potential induction into the Hall of Fame another few years. Parcells has yet to make a decision, as he states, “It’s a long way off.”