Category Archives: National Football League

2023 NFL Divisional Round Predictions

By Sam Morris

Sam Morris is from Madison Heights, Michigan, and is an undergraduate student at BGSU majoring in Sports Management. He has a passion for sports writing and journalism. In his free time, he volunteers in the strategic communications department at BGSU at various sporting events and he also performs, writes, and produces his own raps for the music industry club at BGSU.

January 20th, 2023

Divisional Round Overview

The wild card round is over, and what a crazy one it was! The round included the third-largest comeback in NFL postseason history and three backup quarterbacks starting playoff games. Now, there are only 8 teams left in what has been a very interesting season. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and the defending Super Bowl Champions are all out of contention, leaving the Chiefs, 3 teams from last season’s worst division (the NFC East), a team led by the 2022 ‘Mr. Irrelevant,’ a team that had the worst record in the NFL last season, and two teams who played each other just over 2 weeks ago in one of the scariest games in NFL history. The schedule has been set for the divisional round and just like last week, below I attempt to predict the outcomes of each of the 4 games. Speaking of last week, I went a perfect 6-0 in predictions, and will attempt to carry that undefeated streak into the divisional round.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (14-3)  VS. 4. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-8)  (Saturday, January 21st, 4:30)

Breakdown: The opening divisional round playoff game between the Chiefs and Jaguars should be an exciting way to kick off this weekend of football. The Jaguars beat the Chargers 31-30 in last week’s wild card matchup after coming back from being down 27-0 at halftime. I picked the Jaguars last week and was amazed to see them pull off the comeback after Trevor Lawrence played horribly in the first half by throwing 4 interceptions. As I predicted, the Chargers’ rushing defense imploded last week against the Jaguars offense, but their secondary played so well that they ended up leading for the majority of the game. The Jaguars are dangerous in this game because they are playing with nothing to lose as barely anyone expected them to make it to the playoffs, let alone to the final 8.

However, The top-seeded Chiefs will be a different team than the Chargers as they play with a lot more poise and are much more experienced in the playoffs. Mahomes, despite being just 27 years old, is the oldest and most experienced quarterback left in the AFC and his top-tier talent combined with the rest of their offensive skill players should be a problem for the surging Jaguars. Kelce has statistically been the best receiving tight end in the league this season and the WR core of JuJu Smith-Schuster, MVS (Marquez Valdes-Scantling), Mecole Hardman, and Kadarius Toney has also been one of the best in the league because they can catch deep ball passes and run clean routes. The running back duo of 7th round rookie Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon is also a dangerous part of the Chiefs offense because their speed, power running ability, and ability to pass catch all complement the receiving offense very well. Because the Chiefs’ offense is so much more experienced and talented than the Chargers, it makes sense that the Jaguars defense won’t be able to stop them since they could only hold the Chargers to 27 points in the first half; because of this, I think the Chiefs will win this game.

Prediction:  Chiefs (34)   Jaguars (24)

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (14-3) VS. 6. New York Giants (10-7-1) (Saturday, January 21st, 8:15)

Breakdown: This Saturday Night game featuring two NFC East rivals will feature two young quarterbacks in Jalen Hurts (one of the most improved and valuable players in the NFC) and Daniel Jones. While Hurts is coming off a much-deserved bye week to rest his injured right shoulder, Jones is coming off an impressive win against the Vikings where he threw for 301 passing yards, had a 68.6% completion percentage, 2 touchdowns, no interceptions, and 78 rushing yards. The Giants victory was the one upset I picked last week, and it proved to be the poor defense of the Vikings that was Minnesota’s downfall. However, against any defense, Saquon Barkley’s performance and Daniel Jones’ performance last week would have been very effective.

Philadelphia’s defense is much better than the Vikings as they led the league in sacks this year. In fact, they had 70 sacks as a defense which was 15 more than the Chiefs, who had the second most, and a whopping 26 more than the number one overall defense, the 49’ers. This will be an obvious problem for the Giants as their relatively weak wide receiver core of Slayton, Hodgins, and James will now have less time to get open for Daniel Jones. However, this could actually be a blessing in disguise for New York as their top 5 rushing offense goes up against the Eagles who blitz so heavily to get sacks that they often leave gaping holes in their secondary and linebacker levels of the defense. Therefore, the Eagles’ rushing defense is ranked 17th in yards per game. The ability to get big gains on the ground with Saquon coupled with the fact that the Eagles don’t overcompensate their blitz packages with secondary help make it so that Barkley has a big day with one or more huge gains down the field. In the regular season, the Eagles trounced the Giants 48-22 in their first matchup but only won 22-16 when they faced them in week 18.

This second matchup concerns me for the Eagles as they played Jalen Hurts and he did not perform well, really for the first time all season, as he threw for 1 interception and had no touchdowns. On the other hand, the Giants rested most of their starters in week 18 as they had already clinched the 6 seed. This meant that backup Davis Webb would play in his first career NFL game, despite it being his 6th season in the league, and he posted a better overall stat line than Hurts, throwing for a touchdown, and having zero turnovers. I think this will be the closest game of the weekend, but for the reasons I have presented I think the Giants once again pull off the upset and Barkley and Jones will have huge games.

Prediction: Eagles (24)   Giants (27)

2. Buffalo Bills (14-3) VS. 3. Cincinnati Bengals (13-4)  (Sunday, January 22nd, 3:00)

Breakdown: This, in my opinion, is the most intriguing game this weekend for a few reasons. First, this is a rematch of the game when Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and was carted off the field. That game eventually got cancelled, and now that these two teams face each other again there will be much more at stake in terms of how they end their seasons. Because of the Damar Hamlin injury the Bills will be very motivated in this game. Secondly, these two teams have the best combined record out of all the games that are happening this weekend at 27-7. The Bills were many people’s Super Bowl favorites in the preseason after how last season ended so abruptly to the Chiefs in the divisional round. This pick made sense as Josh Allen is incredibly talented and the Bills offense and secondary is loaded with stars such as Stefon Diggs, Tre’Davious White, and Jordan Poyer. As the season has progressed, Allen has improved but the Bills themselves have had to rely on him too much as their defense has struggled in recent weeks, especially last week against Skylar Thompson and the Miami Dolphins. As well as the Dolphins started this season, they have imploded over the last half of the season and the fact that the Bills’ defense could only beat the Dolphins by 3 when the Dolphins had a third string quarterback playing is very concerning. Allen also struggled last week himself as he threw 2 interceptions. Overall, the immense pressure on Allen and Diggs could prove to be a lot for this team to overcome.

As for the Bengals, their defense played very well against the Ravens, holding them to just 17 points and forcing a fumble recovery for a touchdown as well as an interception. What this game will really come down to is the matchup between the Bengals receiving core and the Bills’ secondary, as a great performance by one of these units could prove vital in the game’s outcome. I believe that the Bengals’ receiving core and Joe Burrow will be able to overcome the Bills’ home field advantage and that Josh Allen’s relatively recent struggles won’t get better against a much better overall defense in Cincinnati compared to Miami. While this game will be close, I predict the Bengals will get a hard-fought win.   

Prediction: Bills (28)   Bengals (34)

2. San Francisco 49’ers (14-4) VS. 6. Dallas Cowboys (13-5)   (Sunday, January 22nd, 6:00)

Breakdown: The Sunday Night Football Matchup features a rematch of last season’s wild card game between the Niners and Cowboys. Although I predicted the Cowboys game correctly last week against the Bucs, I stated that I thought it would be the closest game of the weekend because of Dallas’ inconsistent defense. However, this was not the case as Dallas crushed Tampa Bay and sent Tom Brady packing. Dallas was one of the more impressive teams last week as Prescott played about as well as he has all season, and the Parsons-led defense got heavy pressure against Tampa Bay. Dallas will attempt to get revenge against San Francisco as last season the Niners eliminated Dallas in the infamous game that ended with Dak Prescott running the ball for a 20-yard gain despite the Cowboys only having 14 seconds on the clock and no timeouts left. This led to Dallas not being able to snap the ball in time before the play clock expired. This season, Tony Pollard has emerged as a true number one running back and their dominance against Tampa should be concerning for the Niners.  

However, despite Dallas’ great performance last week, it was against a team with a losing record. The Niners will be a much tougher test and if they play like they did in the final quarter against the Seahawks, it will be very tough for Dallas to win. Ultimately, I think San Francisco’s multitude of skill players on offense and amazing defense will be too much for Dak Prescott to handle and the Niners will move on to the NFC Championship game against the Giants for the second straight year.   

Prediction: 49’ers (30)   Cowboys (22)


National Football League Injuries and Damar Hamlin

Caption: Bills fans sign a poster in support of Demar Hamlin’s recovery.

By Ryan Harless

Ryan Harless is a third-year undergraduate at BGSU from Hillsboro, Ohio. He is majoring in Sport Management with a Journalism Minor. Baseball and golf at all levels are his primary interests but he is also interested in combat sports, hockey, basketball, and football.

January 17, 2023

Over recent years, we have watched the National Football League come under scrutiny due to their responses to severe injuries that happen to players. Just this season alone we have seen frightening injuries on live TV. We know football is a potentially dangerous sport for participants and that players are risking their lives when they step on the field. But no one was prepared for what we saw when the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals faced off in the next-to-last regular season game.

On January 2nd of this year, Bills’ safety Demar Hamlin tackled Tee Higgins of the Cincinnati Bengals. Hamlin got up after the tackle, then stiffened and fell backwards. This caused widespread panic not only to the viewers at home and in the stadium but also to the players on the field. Bengals’ running back Joe Mixon immediately started waving for medical personnel after Hamlin collapsed while many of the other players looked on in horror and shock. CPR was performed on Hamlin while he was still on the field which led many to fear the worst.

Hamlin was unresponsive as he was carted off the field and transported to a hospital in Cincinnati. Looking at the hit, we realized that this was not the same sort of injury we are accustomed to seeing as there was no major impact to Hamlin’s head. Rather, the injury was to his heart as he suffered cardiac arrest on the field. At the time, we were unaware of what precisely his injury was.  

After many uncomfortable minutes for fans in the stadium and fans watching at home, it was announced that the game would be suspended. Coaches for both teams agreed that the game should not resume. The NFL agreed with the coaches and suspended the game around 10 p.m.

This decision proved to be divisive among sports writers and fans alike. Some agreed with the decision of the league to not continue play as no one (outside of medical personnel) was aware of the severity of Hamlin’s injury. Some, such as Skip Bayless, tweeted a question of how the NFL would be able to postpone such an important game with post-season implications.

Of course, Bayless was hit with a wave of negative backlash to the extent that his “Skip & Shannon” co-host protested by not showing up for their show the next day. After a day of Skip hosting by himself, Shannon was back on the show and they discussed the Tweet in question.

The silver lining of the Hamlin situation is that he has since been released from a hospital in Buffalo following his transfer from UC Medical Center and was reportedly up and cheering on his team from the former hospital. He was even on a phone call with his team before their game the following week. Hamlin’s playing days are still a point of uncertainly, however.

This instance goes to show that neither the NFL nor fans know what the proper response to injuries should be. The NFL seems to do everything they can to have games move forward. But I think there are times where situations arise that are infinitely bigger than the game. There have been many strides in the past few years towards making the game safer. Things like advanced helmets made to help reduce impact on shots to the head, and just knowing more about concussions as a whole. But it seems clear to me that the NFL is not going to be the one to step in and make a change. I just worry that if things do not improve soon, there might be an even more severe on field injury that changes the current course of action for dealing with injuries.

Miami Dolphins Mismanagement of Tua Tagovailoa Injuries

By Sam Morris

Sam Morris is from Madison Heights, Michigan, and is an undergraduate student at BGSU majoring in Sports Management. He has a passion for sports writing and journalism. In his free time, he also performs, writes, and produces his own raps for the music industry club at BGSU.

October 11, 2022

NFL and SAFETY

With the NFL being a high-contact sport, there is obviously the potential to incur multiple serious injuries. The league has increased safety measures in many ways over the last few decades, especially when it comes to protecting quarterbacks. These changes include not being able to hit the quarterback in the shoulder-neck-head area once he is sliding, making him defenseless, as well as increasing emphasis on roughing the passer penalties. Despite these improvements, it is impossible to eliminate NFL concussions which are one of the most common injuries in the sport, especially for quarterbacks. It is important that all NFL teams follow the concussion protocol to keep players safe and to maintain the integrity of the league’s rules.

TUA TAGOVAILOA

The Miami Dolphins have been accused of not following the concussion protocol regarding their starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa was a star recruit out of the same Honolulu, Hawaii high school as Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota back in 2016. He committed to play college football at Alabama because Nick Saban would be his coach. Tua started off his freshman season as the backup to current Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Jalen Hurts. He gained prominence relieving an injured Jalen Hurts in the 2018 CFP title game, leading the Crimson Tide to a victory over the rival Georgia Bulldogs. Tua played two more seasons riddled by injuries before being drafted by Miami with the 5th overall pick in the 2020 draft. Throughout his first 3 seasons with Miami, Tua has been inconsistent and frequently injured. Despite being plagued by injuries and receiving doubt from the media because of his inability to stay on the field, Tua began the 2022-23 season with 2 victories before controversy ensued.

GREGORY ROUSSEAU HIT

During week 2, Miami had already begun to be the talk of the NFL landscape with Tua completing a 28-point comeback against Baltimore and throwing for a franchise record 6 touchdowns in one game. In week 3, however, Tua would be tested against Josh Allen and the Super Bowl favorite Buffalo Bills. With 2 minutes left in the second quarter, and with the scored tied 14-14, on a 2nd and 3, Tua dropped back in a shotgun formation and rolled out of the pocket to throw to former Alabama teammate wide receiver Jaylen Waddle. Tua was tackled by the Bills 2nd year 6 foot 6, 270-pound Defensive End Gregory Rousseau after he got the pass off. Tua ‘s head immediately hit the ground before the rest of his body, and he got up extremely shaky. Tua originally tried to walk back to the huddle for the next play but wobbled in a zig-zag line and was taken out of the game. Tua was said to have gone through concussion protocol by Miami’s medical staff, but he was ruled to have a back problem and was cleared to come back into the game just a few minutes later at the start of the second half. The Dolphins upset the Bills by beating them 21-19 and backup Teddy Bridgewater only played for 2 minutes since Tua was quickly cleared.

MEDIA AFTERMATH

Immediately after the Dolphins-Bills game, the reporters at the Dolphins post-game press conference questioned Miami’s process of the concussion protocol. One of the major symptoms of a concussion is balance issues, but this usually only occurs when severe force puts a blow to the head to cause the concussion. This severe force could have come from a man 70 pounds and 6 inches taller than Tua, running full speed, and completely unblocked by the Miami offensive line. First-year head coach Mike McDaniel said in the week 3 post-game press conference when asked why Tua was able to play, “his legs got wobbly because his lower back was completely loose.” Although the back is connected to your balance and equilibrium, it was highly suspicious since Tua hit his head first, but McDaniel and the medical staff described it as a back injury instead.

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL CONCUSSION


The following week, 4 days later, on Thursday Night Football, against the reigning AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals, the Dolphins were down 6-7 in the 2nd quarter with 6 minutes left and had a 2nd and 7 situation. Tua faked a hand-off to running back Raheem Moshert when the pocket collapsed, and he was sacked and thrown hard to the ground by the 6 foot 3, 340-pound Nose Tackle Josh Tupou. Tupou grabbed Tua by the waist so that his head jerked backward hard and hit the turf immediately with force much greater than in the previous week. Tua eventually had to be carted off the field as his hands and fingers were visibly shaking on camera.

MEDIA AFTERMATH

The questions started pouring in from around the sport as two situations that were so similar yielded extremely different results. While both opponents the Dolphins were playing when Tua got injured are playoff caliber teams, the Bills have arguably a more talented roster this year. Although Tua was obviously in more pain with the second injury, critics have begun to accuse the Dolphins of bringing Tua back in the Bills game prematurely to have a better chance of beating their division rivals.

RESULTS AND STANCES

After the Thursday Night game, the neurotrauma consultant in charge of clearing Tua to play was removed by the NFL. While the consultant was hired by the NFL, she is not specifically affiliated with the Dolphins and instead worked with many teams simultaneously around the league. The aftermath of this situation has led to multiple players union and NFL meetings to discuss evaluating the concussion protocol and its steps to clear players to play. It also stands to speculate that the reason the second concussion was so much worse was a direct result of the mistreatment of the previous week’s situation as Tua possibly never got the correct help he needed to heal. After a 10-day rest, Miami was still reporting that Tua would be out for week 5 against the Jets.  As for Mike McDaniel, he stood by his previous statement that the Dolphins handled Tua’s medical process correctly.

How the Brian Flores Lawsuit Shed Light on Media Critiques about Hiring Black Head Coaches in the NFL

By Gavin J. Davidson

Gavin J. Davidson is a second-year graduate student in Sport Administration at BGSU from West Point, MS. He is interested in most major sports but football is his primary sport interest.

March 16, 2022

Brian Flores Timeline

The NFL has had an historic lack of diversity in its head coaching ranks since the league was formed in 1920. Until 2003, there were only five Black head coaches hired in the league. To increase the chances of minorities getting an opportunity to coach, the league issued the Rooney Rule, which is named after former Steelers’ Chairman Dan Rooney. The Rooney Rule requires “every team with a head coaching vacancy to interview at least one or more diverse candidates before making a new hire.” In the beginning, most mainstream media applauded the NFL’s efforts to bring greater diversity to the league. The positive reception of the rule allowed it to be extended to general managers and front-office positions in 2009. Jason Lewis considered the rule to be making a positive change, saying, “The rule has been controversial, but it has been effective.”

While Lewis praised the Rooney Rule, he pointed out that sham interviews had occurred. In 2003, the Detroit Lions were fined for not interviewing a minority candidate for their head coaching vacancy. In 2010, the Washington Commanders (then Redskins) hired Mike Shanahan while the Seattle Seahawks hired Pete Carroll to be head coaches for their respective football teams. Since the teams predetermined that they wanted Shanahan and Carroll, they interviewed minority candidates late in the process just to be in compliance. In 2013, Maloni and Diegel suggested that nepotism had trumped the Rooney Rule reporting that in the first ten years of the Rooney Rule, coaches’ relatives would often get jobs on their family’s staff and/or be promoted from within.

When the league saw that it was reverting to the problem of a lack of diversity in the coaching ranks, they adjusted by making additions to the rule. Michael David Smith detailed some of the additions to the rule in 2020, including a second minority candidate added to the hiring pool, no internal promotions, extending the rule to coordinators’ jobs, and adding an incentive program. An additional amendment rewarded teams for developing minority talent who became a head coach or GM in the league. If a team lost a minority coach or an executive to another team, then the original team would get a third-round compensatory pick for two years, and if they lost both in the same year then they received a third-round compensatory pick for three years. The NFL also required teams to interview at least two external minority candidates for a head coaching position and one for a coordinator position. There must also be one minority or female candidate interviewed for senior level positions.

As the rule became less effective, media narratives began to change. Instead of commending the Rooney Rule for helping to even the playing field for minorities, some in the media concluded that the league was finding ways to maintain the status quo, making the rule now useless. So, what factors contributed to changing media narratives about the Rooney Rule? The lawsuit filed by the former Head Coach of the Miami Dolphins certainly highlighted its ineffectiveness.

On January 10, 2022, Brian Flores, the Dolphins’ head coach for the past three seasons, was fired because he was considered “too difficult to work with,” according to the lawsuit filed on February 1, 2022. Coach Flores did not have an unsuccessful tenure when you look at his record with the team. He compiled a 24-25 record with a winning record in the last two seasons. Despite not making the playoffs in three years, Flores inherited a rebuild that may have overperformed based upon national media experts’ expectations reflected by their preseason predictions.

After Coach Flores departed, he had multiple interviews for head coaching vacancies in the league. When the Giants released Joe Judge, Flores was among those considered for the position as head coach. Three days before his interview, his former coach, Bill Belichick, sent him a congratulatory text on getting the job. Being confused about the message, Flores wanted to confirm that Coach Belichick was texting the right person. After Flores reached out to him, Belichick realized that he congratulated the wrong guy, and it was Brian Daboll who was getting the job. Flores had not even been interviewed yet. Despite the news from Belichick, Coach Flores went to the scheduled interview as a show of professionalism, assuming that the only reason he got the interview was because he was the minority candidate and the Giants needed to comply with the Rooney Rule.

Based on what transpired in January, Flores filed a lawsuit against the NFL, the Miami Dolphins, the New York Giants, the Denver Broncos, and other NFL teams for racial discrimination. As a result, the Dolphins documented what they believed were Flores’ flaws. Ryan Yousefi explained the reasons why the Dolphins fired Coach Flores, claiming that Flores was ineffective when it came to Human Resources. As evidence, the Dolphins said Flores had more offensive coordinators than the number of years he was head coach, while some players reportedly did not like the way he coached, and the offense had struggled since Flores took over.

The New York Giants proceeded to hire Coach Daboll, confirming Flores’ suspicion that his interview was a “sham.” To seek justice, Coach Flores sued the NFL for racial discrimination in its hiring practices. Flores’ lawsuit referenced previous articles about the Rooney Rule that supported his stance on racial discrimination. Most of the articles were dated in 2020, which meant that these observations came after adjustments to the rule had been made.

One of the key articles that critiqued the lack of diversity in the NFL was written by Jemele Hill in The Atlantic. Hill’s perspective is insightful because she not only discussed the lack of diversity for head coaches but also a lack of diversity within the pipeline that lead to becoming a head coach. Most head coaches were once offensive coordinators. Most black coordinators were defensive coordinators, making it difficult to gain a promotion. Most offensive coordinators earned their position after being a quarterback coach. There are very few black quarterback coaches in the NFL, which gives them less chance of going through the pipeline to become a head coach. Hill also compared Flores to Joe Judge, the former Giants head coach, pointing out that Flores had a better resume than Judge when considering the two coaches’ credentials. It seems that the Giants were not taking that into consideration since they had hired Judge but allegedly only interviewed Flores to fill the Rooney Rule requirements.

After the lawsuit came out, Heidi Schmidt reported that Roger Goodell admitted that the NFL’s diversity initiatives had not been successful, saying “We must acknowledge that particularly with respect to head coaches the results have been unacceptable.” Whenever there is a situation that makes the NFL look like it fails in its commitment to have a diverse organization, they have tried to implement new policies to move towards their goals. According to NFL executive Troy Vincent, who reported to the Associated Press, “We’ve been working on this every single day since the hiring cycle ended a year ago and we have to do better… We have high expectations that we should see positive results because the work has been put in.” While NFL executives have said that they want diversity, they have yet to prove they want it by their hiring practices. The ownership seems to act primarily when they get pushback on issues, they do not feel are important to them. Meanwhile, they send Commissioner Goodell out to take the heat while the owners continue to dodge scrutiny for their actions.

The lawsuit Flores brought against the NFL shows the power of media because some of the main points Flores is making come from articles that document the League’s shortcomings. A problem arises when the media does not call out the league for its failure to achieve equity. The league will continue to maintain the status quo unless someone addresses them. If more writers investigate the problems that are going on, then change will happen. Jemele Hill’s journalistic insights can provide the impetus for the league to pursue the diversity that it claims to desire. More members of the media must act on the inequalities of the situation for changes to take place and need to hold the authority accountable when there is blatant disregard for the rules. There also needs to be greater representation of diversity within the media. If everyone in the media comes from the same background, then there will be no call for change because everyone sees things the same way.

No Love?

By Brody Hickle

Submitted: September 22, 2020 / Published: November 26, 2020

Brody Hickle grew up in Bluffton, Ohio and now studies Sport Management at Bowling Green State University. The fourth-year undergraduate student minors in General Business. His primary sport interests are hockey and football.

See the source image

In my last article, I wrote about the Black Lives Matter Movement affecting the professional sport leagues across America, especially with the NBA. If you kept up with the NBA, you can see that they took this movement seriously. The National Basketball Association has shown great support to the fallen African American individuals who were lost to police brutality and to the black communities across America.  I wanted to continue focusing on what the media has done as we head deeper into the fall season of sports. The media has brought great attention to the awareness and expects us all to believe that it is right to  bring this matter  into sports. But the question is, does everyone believe in this movement in sports? Obviously, the answer is no. Viewings have gone down due to the offense drawn to individuals from athletes kneeling during the National Anthem.  

It seems right now in the sport world that there are many political judgements coming into sports.  During the beginning of the NBA playoffs, we witnessed less fans watching professional sports due to the protests of kneeling during the National Anthem. In week 1 of the NFL season, the African American National Anthem was played before the National Anthem (Fans boo Chiefs, 2020). It created a lot of attention to fans at the stadiums, and the fans at home.  During the Chiefs vs Texans game in week 1, the fans in the stadium booed  the players  loudly, as the players locked arms in the middle of the field (Fans boo Chiefs, 2020). This  was  strange to me because they were not kneeling, as the NBA athletes have done.  So statistically, what has this done to the viewings of sports?  

From research, Anne Hendershott (2020) released statistics indicating  that 30 percent of American adults are now less likely to watch sporting  events that  promote Black Lives Matter. However, 21%  are more likely to watch sporting events.  Additionally,  35% of individuals say that they will never watch any event that promotes Black Lives Matter. Now, obviously the NFL, NBA, and MLB are all too aware of this. So, let us look  at  how they have responded.  

NBA coach, Doc Rivers, made an emotional appeal  following the shooting of  Jacob Blake.  In Kenosha, Wisconsin, there was a video recorded by an individual in the neighborhood where Blake walked away from the cops as if he had not done anything wrong. As he reached to his car, the cops shot Jacob seven times in the back. This would cause another protest in America due to the beliefs from individuals that the cops should have been arrested afterwards (Steinbuch, 2020).  

The shooting of Jacob Blake seemed to create many controversies after the incident. Just like the riots, it seems now that the politicians have turned this movement  into  a “left vs. right” subject. For  example, as election year is coming to a close, it seemed from my experience that many individuals Republican views  do not support Black Lives Matter,  while  many individuals with  Democratic views  do. 

Going back to Doc Rivers. Doc Rivers has been a coach in the NBA for numerous teams throughout the years. In his statement, he talks about fear. ESPN staff writer Ohm  Youngmisuk  cited  Rivers ’ words, “All you hear is Trump and all of them talking about fear. We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot. We’re the ones that we’re denied living in certain communities. We’ve been hung. We’ve been shot. And all you do is keep hearing about  fear.” (Youngmisuk, 2020, para. 3). In  the video, you can see the  emotions that  not only reflect how Rivers feels, but also how much of  the black community  must  feel.  

Now, going back to the Texans vs. Chiefs game that I mentioned before, according to CBS news, JJ Watt mentioned that he thought the booing was unfortunate. He stated that he fully did not understand it. I also learned from CBS that there were two players who did kneel with their fists in  the air in solidarity for social injustice (Fans boo Chiefs, 2020). Even the video they shared before the game promoting Black Lives Matter created controversy.  

One more statistic that I want to share by Sam Amico is that ABC is down 12% of their viewership from last year to this year (Amico, 2020).  ABC does many coverings for the NBA, and it started after the kneeling of the National Anthem. With all of this mentioned, I will now share my opinion with the media towards this matter. I do believe that the media is doing the right thing, promoting the players who believe that everyone deserves justice. I do appreciate them showing everyone why it is important to protest for this matter and why it is more than just kneeling. If you remember in my last article, kneeling is about respect and difference. I will say, however, in some fields of the media, such as social media platforms, I do wish they could share middle ground stating that there are good police officers out there.  Lastly, I believe that this should not be a political issue in sports. I believe that professional sport organizations are doing the right thing. Showing support and solidarity makes you more than an athlete.  With mentioning that there are less fans watching sports from this matter, I believe that those fans should look into the meaning behind the movement before making assumptions.  

References:

Amico, S. (2020, February 14). NBA TV Ratings Plummet by Double digits as Interest Wanes, Insiders say. Sports Illustrated. https://www.si.com/nba/cavaliers/news/nba-tv-ratings-abc-espn-tnt

Fans boo Chiefs, Texans players during moment of silence at NFL opener. (2020, September 11). CBS News. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/chiefs-texans-fans-booing-nfl-opener-moment-silence/

Hendershott, A. (2020, August 1). New evidence: Key fans unhappy with sport leagues kowtowing to Black Lives Matter. The American Spectator. https://spectator.org/black-lives-matter-protests-sports-fans-rasmussen/

Steinbuch, Y. (2020, August 25). Jacob Blake was Shot Less Than Three Minutes After Police Arrival. New York Post. https://nypost.com/2020/08/27/jacob-blake-was-shot-less-than-three-minutes-after-cops-arrived/

Youngmisuk, O. (2020, August 25). Clippers Coach Doc Rivers on Jacob Blake Shooting: We Got to Demand Better. ESPN. https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/29740593/clippers-coach-doc-rivers-jacob-blake-shooting-got-demand-better

Dak Prescott and the battle for players’ rights

By Griffin Olah

Griffin is a third-year undergraduate BGSU student from North Ridgeville, Ohio. He is a Sport Management major and a Journalism minor. His primary sports interests are baseball and football, both collegiate and professional, but he is also interested in basketball, MMA, boxing and hockey.

October 24, 2020

On Sunday, October 11 against the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys quarterback (QB) Dak Prescott ran a QB draw. Prescott had run many plays similar to this one throughout his career from high school, to college at Mississippi State and finally as the Dallas Cowboys’ franchise QB. This third quarter draw, though, was different.

Prescott ran up the middle, made a defender miss, and bolted towards the left sideline. There, Giants defender Logan Ryan was ready to make a play. Prescott attempted to stiff arm the oncoming defender, but Ryan was able to hold on and make a crucial open-field tackle within the red zone with the Cowboys looking to go up by two scores. During that tackle, though, Prescott’s ankle was caught underneath the players as they tumbled to the ground. Ryan stood up, ready for the next play, but Prescott looked to his ankle and found it pointing at an unnatural angle. He had a serious injury.

Immediately, players and coaches knew what was wrong. Mike McCarthy, the first year Cowboys head coach and longtime Green Bay Packers headman, came out onto the field. Teammates and opponents also came to see if the star of the franchise defined by stars was okay. He was not. An emotional Prescott was helped onto a cart and taken to the locker room. Immediately, he was sent to a hospital for surgery on the ankle. The Cowboys team Twitter account announced that Prescott suffered a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle, an injury that has a 4-6 month recovery at the very least (Archer, 2020)

As soon as the news reached players across the league, they sent out their best wishes to the injured QB on social media. Stars across the game, such as Patrick Mahomes and J.J. Watt, wished the star a speedy recovery. Media members like Emmanuel Acho and Troy Aikman applauded Prescott and how he handled his injury. Even former Dallas Cowboys coach and current New York Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett made sure to wish Prescott well as he was carted off on the field (Blackburn, 2020).

Unfortunately, a violent game like NFL football is sure to cause injuries for its players. Nobody can argue that Prescott’s injury wasn’t horrible. Yet, the responses haven’t been the best, especially considering the person Dak Prescott is.

Before getting into the reaction, it’s important to understand Dak Prescott’s offseason path. In April, amid the pandemic and a lack of offseason programs that usually fill professional football players’ free time, the Prescott family was struck by tragedy. Dak’s older brother, Jace, died by suicide. In the time afterwards and during his grieving process, Prescott had an interview with Graham Bersinger about his brother’s death. In that interview, Prescott confirmed that Jace’s death was by suicide and that Dak also suffered from anxiety and depression in the wake of the pandemic and his brother’s death (Watkins, 2020). Prescott’s confession shook the world. How could someone that seemed to be so happy, so carefree and so fun suffer from depression?

Prescott’s strength was applauded by many after disclosing his struggles with mental health. Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst, whose own struggles with depression are well-documented, made sure to meet the QB after their teams had a game and express his respect for Prescott’s courage (Al-Khateeb, 2020). For every good story, like Hurst’s, there is a bad one. As Hayden Hurst was supporting Prescott, FOX Sports analyst Skip Bayless was tearing him down. On Undisputed, Bayless called Prescott’s admission weak, stating that “If you reveal publicly any little weakness, it can affect your team’s ability to believe in you in the toughest spot” (Bonesteel, 2020, para. 8). Immediately, athletes, media members and fans alike rushed to Prescott’s support. Bayless was torn down, just like he attempted to tear down an important, brave and courageous act by a well-known athlete to pull back the curtain on mental health. Bayless attempted to walk back his comments, but his “opinion” remains a stain on Prescott’s already trying offseason.

In addition to the loss of his brother and the debacle with Skip Bayless, Prescott was in the middle of tense contract negotiations with the Cowboys. Prescott decided to play the 2020 season under the franchise tag after he determined the Cowboys’ offer of a 5-year deal with an annual value of $34.5 million and over $100 million of that guaranteed (Archer, 2020). Prescott believed he was worth more than the Cowboys were offering, and he decided to play the 2020 season under the franchise tag. Fans across the nation, especially Cowboys fans, were taken aback by the QB’s decision. How could Prescott leave millions of dollars at the table like that? Or, for those wanting Prescott to stay with the ‘Boys, how much will those millions of dollars Prescott wants that Jerry Jones refuses to give him matter?

Now, though, Prescott’s injury puts a new discussion on the table. Dak bet on himself, and whether you agree with that or not, it has consequences now as his franchise tag will expire before he plays another game. Fans and media members alike have been asking if Prescott turning down a long-term contract was a bad idea or not, and the truth is we won’t know until Prescott returns (Brandt, 2020). 

Prescott’s contract is not what the media is focusing on now, though. That’s reserved for “the worst people on Twitter” to look at (Barnwell, 2020, para. 18). Instead, the shock of the injury is all the media can focus on, and rightfully so. Injuries like Prescott’s – seen in Alex Smith, Gordon Hayward and Kevin Ware – have always captivated the media. You’d have to go back to Joe Theismann and Lawrence Taylor’s infamous hit on him to see a true franchise quarterback go down like this. No offense to Alex Smith. 

Immediately after Prescott was taken off the field, the NFL’s YouTube channel posted a video of the injury. The NFL’s YouTube channel is a site filled with highlights, fantasy videos and commercials showing the all-time greats in a ballroom for the 100th anniversary of the league. While Prescott’s injury is something that most likely would be covered there, and for good reason, anything that happens to one of the faces of the league should be covered by the league’s media outlets. But, labelling it as a “Can’t Miss Play” on the thumbnail is something the league seriously missed on (Heyen, 2020, para. 1). Something about a franchise quarterback and star of the league being carted off in tears isn’t a “can’t miss play” to me (Heyen, 2020, para.1) The League, always committed to protecting the shield, was called out on social media by The Ringer’s Rodger Sherman for their labelling of the grotesque injury. 

Shortly after the social media firestorm that followed Sherman’s tweet, the NFL deleted the video (Heyen, 2020). As Sherman pointed out, someone would post the video and it would go viral. But why did the official NFL YouTube account feel the need to do that? To profit off of the injury of Dak Prescott? The NFL in 2015 struck a “multi-million dollar deal” with YouTube and Google to post official highlights on the platform (McSpadden, 2015, para. 4). In addition to that, YouTube accounts in 2013 earned an average of $7.60 per 1000 views on their videos, with that number only increasing as the popularity of the platform increases (Rosenberg, 2020). The fact that the NFL was actively profiting off of their star’s injury is horrible, and if that’s how they treat a face of the league like Dak Prescott, how would they treat a lesser-known player?

The media covering the league is not sterling clean either. Well-respected analyst and Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy fell into hot water after saying that Dak’s injury could be a “blessing in disguise” for the Cowboys (Heck, 2020, para. 4). While Dungy attempted to walk back his comments on Twitter after the blowback, the damage was done. 

If someone covering the NFL can call an injury a “blessing,” what else can they do? While most can agree that Dungy is a well-respected and high-character person, he made a mistake here. That can explain why he faced much less of a blowback than Skip Bayless, although their comments are on equal levels. Without social media to hold these analysts and accounts liable for their slander on one of the most respected players in the game, Dak Prescott’s name could be further dragged through the mud.

Everything that happened to Prescott was horrible, but something could come out of this to help it all. Prescott’s battle with the media and his dedication to himself can inspire players to follow his example. Sure, there has been negative publicity and coverage on everything that Prescott’s been through, but the path that he’s laid and the way he’s handled it can allow more players to pursue contracts that they are truly worth and speak out about mental health. Dak Prescott is now a poster boy for players battling the power of the NFL and the media, and there is nobody better to prove that he made the right decision for himself and turn around the way players’ injuries and decisions are covered in the media. Now, maybe we can see something that gives players a chance instead of immediately siding with teams and allowing players to be humans and talk about human issues.

References

Acho, E. [@EmmanuelAcho]. (2020, October 11). The opposite has been said, but this moment, Dak Prescott, the epitome, and the embodiment of leadership. You don’t cry[Tweet]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/EmmanuelAcho/status/1315422934102536193 

Aikman, T. [@TroyAikman]. (2020, October 11). Devastated for @dak- one of the truly great people in the NFL[Tweet]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/TroyAikman/status/1315423099207249922 

Al-Khateeb, Z. (2020, September 22). Hayden Hurst thanks Dak Prescott for speaking out on depression: ‘I’ve got a lot of respect for what you did.’ Sporting News. https://www.sportingnews.com/us/nfl/news/hayden-hurst-dak-prescott-depression/82lsq51strzp1krk8w8w4c4tr 

Archer, T. (2020, October 11). Dak Prescott of Dallas Cowboys out of surgery for compound fracture, dislocation of right ankle. ESPN. https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/30094698/dak-prescott-dallas-cowboys-carted-field-ankle-injury

Barnwell, B. (2020, October 12). Dak Prescott ankle injury: Answering the biggest questions about the QB, the Cowboys, Andy Dalton and what’s next. ESPN. https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/30094522/dak-prescott-ankle-injury-answering-biggest-questions-qb-cowboys-andy-dalton-next

Blackburn, P. (2020, October 12). Dak Prescott injury: Patrick Mahomes, Troy Aikman, NFL players react to Cowboys QB being carted off of field. CBS Sports. https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/dak-prescott-injury-patrick-mahomes-troy-aikman-nfl-players-react-to-cowboys-qb-being-carted-off-field/ 

Bonesteel, M. (2020, September 11). Skip Bayless condemned for saying Dak Prescott’s admission of depression was a sign of weakness. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2020/09/11/skip-bayless-dak-prescott-depression/ 

Brandt, A. (2020, October 13). Business of football: Dak Prescott’s injury won’t significantly hurt his career earnings. Sports Illustrated. https://www.si.com/nfl/2020/10/13/business-of-football-dak-prescott-injury-bill-obrien-fired 

Dungy, T. [@TonyDungy]. (2020, October 11). Blessing in disguise was a poor choice of words by me. It’s not a blessing for Dak. What I meant[Tweet]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/TonyDungy/status/1315454990383828997

Heck, J. (2020, October 12). Tony Dungy called Dak Prescott’s injury a ‘blessing in disguise’ for the Cowboys.  Sporting News. https://www.sportingnews.com/us/nfl/news/tony-dungy-dak-prescott-injury-cowboys/1p7r7t3a97cy0101g4yymbyklz

Heyen, B. (2020, October 12). NFL deletes ‘can’t miss play’ highlight of Dak Prescott’s injury on official YouTube channel. Sporting News. https://www.sportingnews.com/us/nfl/news/dak-prescott-injury-nfl-youtube-highlight/1p01mz3n8ridp1kjiwyuvty86p

Mahomes II, P. [@PatrickMahomes] (2020, October 11). Big time Prayers up man @dak !!!![Tweet]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/PatrickMahomes/status/1315421298953248768 

McSpadden, K. (2015, January 26). The NFL is finally on YouTube. TIME. https://time.com/3682108/nfl-national-football-league-youtube-google-super-bowl/#:~:text=The%20NFL%20YouTube%20channel%2C%20which,in%2Dgame%20highlights%20and%20recaps.&text=Under%20the%20deal%2C%20Google%20will,to%20the%20Wall%20Street%20Journal

Rosenberg, E. (2020, June 4). How YouTube ad revenue works. Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/032615/how-youtube-ad-revenue-works.asp 

Sherman, R. [@rodger]. (2020, October 12). I found this last night and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Is it normal for leagues to[Tweet]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/rodger/status/1315657073049427970 

Watkins, C. (2020, September 9). Dak Prescott opens up about brother’s suicide, his own battles with depression in new interview. Dallas News. https://www.dallasnews.com/sports/cowboys/2020/09/09/dak-prescott-opens-up-about-brothers-suicide-his-own-battles-with-depression-in-new-interview/ 

Watt, J.J. [@JJWatt]. (2020, October 11). Feel so bad for Dak. Just brutal.[Tweet]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/JJWatt/status/1315421651639697408 

False Start: Week 2 NFL injuries derail exciting start to the season

By Griffin Olah

Griffin is a third-year undergraduate BGSU student from North Ridgeville, Ohio. He is a Sport Management major and a Journalism minor. His primary sports interests are baseball and football, both collegiate and professional, but he is also interested in basketball, MMA, boxing and hockey

September 29, 2020

The NFL is back like we’ve never seen it before. Gone are the days of packed stadiums. Now the players duke it out on the gridiron in an empty, cavernous structure to be projected across the nation. Gone are the days of preparation and intrigue, with preseason being eliminated, training camps closed to the public and the season starting. Leading up to and after Week 1, however, there was the same excitement across the nation as the NFL prepared its return and successfully delivered the same product we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing.

Week 2, however, took some of the excitement away from the new season and the return of the nation’s most popular sports league. Stars like Christian McCaffrey, Byron Jones, Michael Thomas and Jimmy Garoppolo all went down with injuries that will cost them multiple weeks of the season. Others, like Nick Bosa, Saquon Barkley, Anthony Barr and Malik Hooker will miss the season (J. Jones, 2020). Teams like the Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants lost multiple key contributors to major injuries and will have a hard time in the rest of the season (Gagnon, 2020).

While the problem of injuries is pretty straight forward, the print coverage of it is quite dynamic and interesting. 

Aside from the basic reporting about what happened, who got hurt and how long they’ll be out, most writers are trying to figure out why. Why did so many players go down? Some point to the lack of a preseason and offseason training program due to Covid-19. Many believed that the sudden move from relaxed walk-through type practices into full games would contribute to soft-tissue injuries (K. Jones, 2020; Wilner, 2020). In fact, current NFLPA President and Cleveland Browns center J.C. Tretter wrote a letter to the NFL outlining the fact that after the 2011 NFL lockout and similarly shortened offseason, soft-tissue injuries like those seen in Week 2 increased by 25% (K. Jones, 2020). Obviously, there are not a lot of comparisons that can be made in this unique 2020 season, but a shortened 2011 is a good place to start. That sudden increase, from no contact to full contact, could result in an increase and has in the past (Wilner, 2020). 

Others, though, believe that explanation is not enough. They believe it is important to take into account the lack of major injuries in Week 1, which should have been even worse if the problem was conditioning. In addition, most of the injuries came on big hits and high contact plays, not in running or some other non-contact way (Tanier, 2020b). If conditioning, and in turn, Covid-19, was the main cause of these injuries, then why was the onslaught delayed? Why did we get through Week 1 relatively unscathed? And why were so many injuries because of violent tackles? Saquon Barkley was injured when he was tackled on the sideline. Nick Bosa was injured in an awkward block. Drew Lock was injured after being thrown violently on the ground in a sack. These can’t be ignored as we debate the effects of Covid-19 in sports.

Aside from the cause of the injuries, though, there is the coverage of them. Why is this week such a big deal as opposed to other major injury weeks in the past? Why is this different than the lengthy injury lists of preseason games? Well, fantasy football is a driving factor in that. As sports gambling becomes more and more normalized and legalized across the country, more traditional media outlets, such as USA Today and The New York Times, are covering fantasy sports, especially football. Instead of the focus on the team and the players’ health, the focus is now on “your cousin Carmine’s Metuchen Murder Hornets… us[ing] up all of their fantasy waiver points” (Tanier, 2020a, para. 11). This is a dangerous precedent to set. Yes, a lot of people are playing fantasy sports and care about their teams, but that cannot come before these players’ health and well-being. The media plays into that dangerous idea, and it needs to break free.

Week 2 was a wild week, filled with excitement and happiness, but also with injuries and sadness. The NFL is a dangerous league playing a violent sport, but the media needs to make sure they have the right ideas in mind while reporting on the results of that violence. Looking for causes and solutions is good, but focusing its coverage on the players driving fantasy sports instead of the defensive, special teams and role players that go down each week is not helping the problem. The media needs to break out of its gambling, fantasy-focused reporting and just focus on the facts and how to best report on the full story – and include all players in that reporting.

References

Gagnon, B. (2020, September 21). Injury-plagued week 2 shakes up the NFL: Who is impacted the most? Bleacher Report. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2909975-injury-plagued-week-2-shakes-up-the-nfl-who-is-impacted-the-most

Jones, J. (2020, September 20). Week 2 notes: Why brutal weekend for stars means preseason isn’t going anywhere. CBS Sports. https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/week-2-notes-why-brutal-weekend-of-injuries-for-nfl-stars-means-preseason-isnt-going-anywhere/

Jones, K. (2020, September 20). Week 2 injuries threaten to reshape the NFL season. The Ringer. https://www.theringer.com/nfl/2020/9/20/21448020/week-2-injuries-nick-bosa-saquon-barkley-49ers

Tanier, M. (2020a, September 23). NFL injuries lead to hand-wringing, finger-pointing and confusion. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/23/sports/football/nfl-injuries-week-2.html

Tanier, M. (2020b, September 24). What’s next for the 49ers and other injury-riddled teams. Pro Football Network. https://www.profootballnetwork.com/nfl-injuries-week-2-2020/

Wilner, B. (2020, September 21). On football: Week 2 not for the weak as injuries hit NFL. The Associated Press. https://apnews.com/article/virus-outbreak-denver-broncos-nfl-football-richard-sherman-d1a973318828f193ebf0a738912b87e7

Seahawks look to replicate past success, bring back Lynch and Turbin

By Pershelle Rohrer

January 3, 2020

Pershelle Rohrer is a first-year BGSU student from Logan, Utah. She is a Sport Management major with a minor in Journalism. Her primary sports interests are football, basketball, and baseball, both at the professional and collegiate levels.

The Seattle Seahawks brought back two familiar faces on December 23, 2019, signing running backs Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin for the remainder of the 2019-20 season. The move comes after Seattle lost their top three running backs for the year due to various injuries, leaving rookie Travis Homer as the only active running back on the roster (Rost, 2019).

Lynch began his first stint with Seattle when he was acquired from the Buffalo Bills in 2010. He quickly became a “Seattle sports icon,” according to John Boyle (2019b, para. 6). Lynch played with the Seahawks from 2010 to 2015, helping the team to two Super Bowl appearances. He had four consecutive seasons in which he rushed for 1,200 or more yards (2011-14) and led the league in rushing touchdowns in 2013 and 2014. (Henderson, 2019). The five-time Pro Bowler retired briefly before returning to play for his hometown Oakland Raiders in 2017 and 2018 (Marek, 2019). 

Just three weeks ago, Lynch was handing out tequila shots to tailgating Raiders fans prior to the team’s final game before next season’s relocation to Las Vegas (Marek, 2019). Last Sunday, he was playing for an NFC West division title as the 11-4 Seahawks took on the 12-3 San Francisco 49ers (Alexander, 2019). He impressed in his return, rushing for 34 yards on 12 carries, including a 15-yard run, and leaping for a 1-yard touchdown in a 26-21 loss to the 49ers (Stecker, 2020).

Seahawks general manager John Schneider had discussions with Lynch about a return before the 2019 campaign, according to head coach Pete Carroll (Gustafson, 2019). In regard to his return to football after his year-long retirement, Lynch said, “At my age, this is a great opportunity to be able to come in and be able to help when needed, get in and do my little thing and get out, hopefully be able to help them go ahead and get to the Super Bowl that they should be playing for” (Boyle, 2019b, para. 7).

Lynch’s return to the NFL generated excitement throughout the NFL, as he was “entirely out of the NFL rumor mill in 2019” (Marek, 2019, para. 5). Andy Nesbitt (2019) wrote, “You have to believe that just his presence alone will pump up the team heading into a game that will decide the NFC West title” (para. 5). Brandon Gustafson (2019) said, “It’s clear fans of the team are excited about Lynch’s return” (para. 19). Julian Paredes (2019) described, “The jury’s still out on whether Lynch remains the dominant player he’d been for nearly a decade, but his return brings life to a team whose season was all but lost to injury” (para. 8).

NBA player Jamal Crawford, a Seattle native, and former Seahawks punter Jon Ryan expressed their excitement on Twitter:

Pete Carroll, referring to Lynch, said, “The circumstances rolled just at this time, and he could have four or five games left in him, maybe that’s what we need” (Boyle, 2019b, para. 5).

Just hours before the Lynch signing, Robert Turbin announced his return to Seattle on Instagram, posting a picture in front of his locker with the caption, “…Happy to be back HOME” (2019). 

Turbin was drafted in the fourth round by the Seahawks in 2012 and was part of the draft class that included seven-time Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson and six-time Pro Bowl linebacker and Turbin’s Utah State teammate Bobby Wagner (Boyle, 2019a). Turbin played alongside Wilson, Wagner, and Lynch from 2012 to 2014, rushing for 928 yards in 1,231 attempts (good for 4 yards per attempt) in 48 games for Seattle (Henderson, 2019). He also caught 43 passes for 427 yards and 2 touchdowns for the Seahawks during those three seasons (Dajani, 2019). Following his years in Seattle, Turbin played for the Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, and Indianapolis Colts (Boyle, 2019b).

While the signing of Lynch is drawing more attention, an Associated Press article emphasized the importance of Turbin as both running backs prepared to play their first games in over a year. Lynch was not expected to handle an entire workload, and Turbin had the potential to take a significant number of snaps as a result. It was unknown at the time how the carries would be split between Turbin, Lynch, and Homer (“Robert Turbin the,” 2019). Turbin did not have any offensive snaps in Week 17 as Homer and Lynch split the workload (Stecker, 2020). However, that does not mean that he will not be a part of Seattle’s game plan as they head into the playoffs.

The Seahawks, who were third in the NFL in rushing yards per game this year heading into Week 17, found themselves “desperate for help at tailback” (Rost, 2019, para. 6) after they lost their top three running backs for the season. The injuries occurred over a fifteen-day span. Rashaad Penny tore his ACL in a Week 14 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, and Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise suffered a fractured hip and a broken arm, respectively, in a Week 16 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Carson rushed for over 1,000 yards for the second straight season and entered Week 16 as the NFL’s fourth leading rusher (“Seahawks officially bring,” 2019). 

The additions of Lynch and Turbin help the Seahawks rebuild their running game as they look to return to the Super Bowl for the first time in five years. The two running backs are “a backfield tandem blast from the franchise’s past” (“Seahawks officially bring,” 2019, para. 1), reminding fans of the back-to-back Super Bowl appearances that the team enjoyed in 2014 and 2015 (Gustafson, 2019). It remains to be seen how Lynch and Turbin impact the remainder of Seattle’s season, but an initial assessment after their first game gives a positive outlook for the Seahawks. Brent Stecker (2020) emphasizes the importance of a strong group of running backs, writing, “Suddenly that run game that has long been a trademark of Carroll’s Seahawks teams – the same one that was eroded away by injuries late in the regular season – looks to be back just in time for the playoffs” (para. 9).

The Seahawks (11-5) will play the NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) on Sunday in a win-or-go-home matchup. Fourth-seeded Philadelphia comes into the playoffs on a four-game winning streak while Seattle has lost two straight games. The Seahawks were 7-1 on the road during the regular season and defeated the Eagles in Philadelphia, 17-9, on November 24th. Carson Wentz will be making his first career playoff start after missing Philadelphia’s successful Super Bowl run two years ago and last year’s playoffs due to injuries (Booth, 2020). Fifth-seed Seattle aims to return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2015, and Lynch and Turbin could play important roles for the Seahawks as they start their playoff campaign on Sunday.

References

AdamSchefter. (2019, December 23). Beastmode officially is back in Seattle. Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks have an agreement, and Seattle has a new RB to line up against SF during Sunday night’s NFC-West-deciding showdown. [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/AdamSchefter/status/1209330496490094593?s=20

AdamSchefter. (2019, December 23). And so one day after the Seahawks lost Chris Carson to a fractured hip and C.J. Prosise to a broken arm, the Seahawks went retro RB and signed Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin. [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/AdamSchefter/status/1209334252057366528?s=20

Alexander, M. (2019, December 24). Seahawks first-round bye chances take a hit, but they’re not dead yet. Field Gulls. Retrieved from https://www.fieldgulls.com/2019/12/24/21036818/seattle-seahawks-first-round-bye-chances-take-a-hit-nfl-playoff-scenarios-2019

Booth, T. (2020, January 2). Seahawks-Eagles preview. Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved from https://sports.yahoo.com/pressure-nothing-eagles-prepare-seattle-200801255–nfl.html

Boyle, J. (2019a, December 17). Seahawks Russell Wilson & Bobby Wagner selected as starters for 2020 Pro Bowl. Seahawks.com. Retrieved from https://www.seahawks.com/news/seahawks-russell-wilson-bobby-wagner-selected-as-starters-for-2020-pro-bowl

Boyle, J. (2019b, December 24). Seahawks sign running backs Marshawn Lynch & Robert Turbin. Seahawks.com. Retrieved from https://www.seahawks.com/news/seahawks-sign-running-backs-marshawn-lynch-robert-turbin

Dajani, J. (2019, December 24). Seahawks bring back Robert Turbin, Marshawn Lynch after losing numerous running backs to injury. CBSSports.com. Retrieved from https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/seahawks-reportedly-to-sign-robert-turbin-still-working-with-marshawn-lynch-on-deal/

Gustafson, B. (2019, December 27). Seahawks’ Pete Carroll explains how Marshawn Lynch returned to Seattle. 710 ESPN Seattle. Retrieved from https://sports.mynorthwest.com/740450/seahawks-pete-carroll-marshawn-lynch-seattle/

Henderson, B. (2019, December 23). Seahawks add RBs Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin. ESPN.com.Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/28362887/seahawks-add-rbs-marshawn-lynch-robert-turbin

JCrossover. (2019, December 23). Man, man, man.. My favorite player is BACK!!! @MoneyLynch back with the @Seahawks. Christmas came early!!!!! [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/JCrossover/status/1209337833640431616?s=20

JonRyan9. (2019, December 23). I hope my old #24 jersey still fits. #BeastMode [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/JonRyan9/status/1209291330435731456?s=20

Marek, G. (2019, December 24). Marshawn Lynch will face the 49ers on Sunday, 2 weeks after handing out shots at a Raiders tailgate. SFGate. Retrieved from https://www.sfgate.com/49ers/article/Marshawn-Lynch-Seahawks-49ers-Raiders-tailgate-14930215.php

mattschniedman. (2019, December 23). Marshawn Lynch was serving tequila shots at a parking lot tailgate in Oakland eight days ago for the Raiders’ last game there. Now he’s gonna start for the Seahawks in the playoffs. Legend. [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/mattschneidman/status/1209170987905945600?s=20

Nesbitt, A. (2019, December 24). The NFL world reacts to Marshawn Lynch rejoining the Seahawks. USA Today. Retrieved from https://ftw.usatoday.com/2019/12/seahawks-marshawn-lynch-agree-on-deal-beast-mode-is-back

Paredes, J. (2019, December 23). Beast mode: Marshawn Lynch officially returns to Seahawks. Q13 Fox.Retrieved from https://q13fox.com/2019/12/23/beast-mode-marshawn-lynch-officially-returns-to-seahawks/

robertjturbin. (2019, December 23). Never give up on God… He’ll never give up on you. Happy to be back HOME [Instagram post]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/B6b8bulnEud/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Robert Turbin the other part of the running back reunion in Seattle. (2019, December 27). Q13 Fox. Retrieved from https://q13fox.com/2019/12/27/robert-turbin-the-other-part-of-the-running-back-reunion-in-seattle/

Rost, S. (2019, December 24). The 3 questions: How much will Lynch’s return impact Seahawks?. 710 ESPN Seattle. Retrieved from https://sports.mynorthwest.com/739909/the-3-questions-how-much-will-lynchs-return-impact-seahawks/?

Seahawks officially bring back RBs Lynch, Turbin. (2019, December 24). Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved by https://sports.yahoo.com/seahawks-officially-bring-back-rbs-070730564.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAKL5VqT9VdSjNDgQOrUczx_Mt1NNG-U7_JKla5Fm5OaEKjUEQxkMG8yrZOxWTFRo-wpvyOPbE_XPJ8eN6mSoTDaSW4ECwu812VN0-OjD291w-U1aaEVbcyNi5qKPp9aec9Fw0RKaXims0QiMFyoCyR5Oo_KOlwXPQo37oIfUgpXe

Stecker, B. (2020, January 3). Seahawks’ run game ‘has some stature to it’ again thanks to Lynch, Homer. 710 ESPN Seattle. Retrieved from https://sports.mynorthwest.com/743669/seahawks-run-game-has-some-stature/

Baltimore is Built-For-More: Defending NFL Defenses

Image result for baltimore ravens defense

By Ben Kelley

December 2, 2019

Ben is a first-year undergraduate BGSU student from Uniontown, Ohio. He is a sport management major and a journalism minor. His primary interests include professional and collegiate football.

If you’ve ever played EA Sports’ Madden NFL 2005, then you might remember the video game’s selling point: the hit-stick. The “hit-stick” was a new feature that allowed you to force a heavy hit onto a ball-carrier by flicking the right stick of a video game controller. EA Sports had a simple reason for introducing the concept: in Madden NFL 2004, users were having trouble with stopping the electric dual-threat quarterback Michael Vick, and players needed a defensive counter. That counter would become the “hit-stick” (“Top 25 features in Madden,” 2013).

Ray Lewis, a former inside linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, appeared on the cover of Madden NFL 2005. With Lewis and the hit-stick headlining the game, Madden NFL 2005 took on a defensive approach to virtual football gaming.

It’s now 2019, and quarterback turnover has become a common theme throughout the current NFL season. As the league approaches the fourteenth week of regular-season competition, eighty-six quarterbacks have attempted at least one pass during a game. Of those eighty-six quarterbacks, only sixteen have started twelve games this season. Out of those sixteen, only nine have winning records as starters (“NFL passing,” 2019). Five of those quarterbacks play for a team with a top-six defense in points allowed; four of those starters have a defense ranked in the top-four in points allowed (“NFL opposition & defensive statistics,” 2019).

One team with consistent quarterback play and a top defensive unit is the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens currently have the sixth-best defense and have compiled ten wins and only two losses. Their quarterback, Lamar Jackson, has statistically lit up the league this season. Jackson has thrown for 2,532 yards with a pass-completion percentage of 66.5%, with twenty-five passing touchdowns and only five interceptions in 2019 (“NFL passing,” 2019). In addition, Jackson has rushed for 977 yards and seven touchdowns this season (for comparison, Jackson is currently ranked eighth in rushing yards in the NFL) (“NFL rushing,” 2019).

Sports media has taken note of Lamar’s play in 2019. Sean Wagner-McGough (2019) of CBS Sports claims “Jackson is our MVP after 12 weeks” (para 2). Zach Frydenlaud (2019) of Complex not only thinks that Jackson has the MVP award wrapped up, but that Jackson “is the future of the league at QB” (para 6).

However, Baltimore’s defense deserves a share of the credit. Baltimore’s defense is currently ranked sixth in points allowed, and they’ve caused nineteen turnovers in 2019. Only New England, San Francisco, Buffalo, Minnesota, and Chicago sit ahead of the Ravens in points allowed, and each of these teams has a winning record. Pittsburgh, Tennessee, and Dallas each sit behind Baltimore in points allowed, and each of those teams are at .500 or above. As a whole, the top nine defenses in points allowed all have a record at .500 or higher.

New England and San Francisco each own a record of 10-2, yet their quarterbacks are not playing at the highest of levels. Tom Brady currently holds the 21st best quarterback rating, and Jimmy Garoppolo holds the 10th best quarterback rating (“NFL passing,” 2019). Tennessee is on their second quarterback of the season, and they’re 7-5. Chicago’s quarterback, Mitch Trubisky, has a rating of 84.4 for 24th place, yet the Bears have a record of 6-5 (“NFL passing,” 2019). Pittsburgh is now relying on their third quarterback this season, yet the Steelers sit at seven wins and five losses.

While scrambling dual-threat quarterbacks may appear to be the future of the NFL, strong defensive play is making its case to be labeled as “the future of the NFL.” Each of the top nine defenses in points allowed this season have kept their teams in playoff contention, despite below-average quarterback play or turnover at the position. It’s as if we’re living in the world of Madden NFL 2005, and the “hit-stick” has made its appearance.

References

2019 NFL opposition & defensive statistics. (2019). Pro Football Reference. Retrieved from https://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2019/opp.htm

2019 NFL passing. (2019). Pro Football Reference. Retrieved from https://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2019/passing.htm

2019 NFL rushing. (2019). Pro Football Reference. Retrieved from https://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2019/rushing.htm#rushing_and_receiving::rush_yds

2019 NFL standings & team stats. (2019). Pro Football Reference. Retrieved from https://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2019/

Frydenlaud, Z. (2019, November 25). Lamar Jackson is not only the NFL MVP but the future of the league. Complex. Retrieved from https://www.complex.com/sports/2019/11/lamar-jackson-mvp-and-future

Top 25 features in Madden NFL history. (2013, August 2). EA Sports. Retrieved from https://www.easports.com/madden-nfl/news/2013/madden-football-history

Wagner-McGough, S. (2019, December 1). NFL MVP race, week 13: Lamar Jackson begins to pull away from Russell Wilson, Stephon Gilmore makes his debut. CBS Sports. Retrieved from https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/nfl-mvp-race-week-13-lamar-jackson-begins-to-pull-away-from-russell-wilson-stephon-gilmore-makes-his-debut/

Myles Garrett fight overshadows rivalry victory for Cleveland Browns, leads to indefinite suspension

By Pershelle Rohrer

December 1, 2019

Pershelle Rohrer is a first-year BGSU student from Logan, Utah. She is a Sport Management major with a minor in Journalism. Her primary sports interests are football, basketball, and baseball, both at the professional and collegiate levels.

The Cleveland Browns defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-7 in the week 11 Thursday Night Football matchup on November 14. Baker Mayfield threw for two touchdowns and rushed for one in the victory, giving the Browns a record of 4-6 and putting them back in the playoff race. Cleveland’s win over Pittsburgh (5-5) should have been something to celebrate, as it was just their fourth win over their division rival in the past ten years (“Browns, Steelers brawl,” 2019). However, a fight that broke out in the last eight seconds of the game overshadowed anything positive that happened in the Browns’ second straight win.

On the second to last snap of the game, Browns defensive end Myles Garrett brought down Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph well after Rudolph had completed a pass. Rudolph attempted to remove Garrett’s helmet, kicking him while they were still on the ground. Garrett then tore off Rudolph’s helmet and hit him on the top of the head with it when Rudolph followed him to retrieve it, causing the benches to clear. Garrett was ejected along with teammate Larry Ogunjobi, who shoved Rudolph to the ground just after the helmet incident, and Maurkice Pouncey, who then punched and kicked Garrett in retaliation. 

The NFL issued suspensions to all three ejected players. Garrett was suspended indefinitely with a minimum ban for the remainder of the season, Pouncey was given a three-game ban, and Ogunjobi sat out one week. All three players appealed their suspensions, and Pouncey’s was reduced to two games as a result, according to ESPN (“Myles Garrett’s indefinite,” 2019). Rudolph received a $50,000 fine for his actions, and both teams were fined $250,000 each.

Garrett was immediately criticized by the media, fans, and players alike. Troy Aikman, current Fox commentator and former NFL player, called Garrett’s actions “barbaric” (“Browns, Steelers brawl,” 2019, para. 11). Reggie Bush (2019) tweeted that it “might have been the craziest thing I have seen on a football field!”

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said the incident would become “a soap opera on the outside much like the media has portrayed us to be for the whole season” (“Browns, Steelers brawl,” 2019, para. 13). The Browns have faced growing pains with a revamped roster in their first season under head coach Freddie Kitchens. The win against the Steelers was their second straight, but losing Garrett for the season could potentially hurt the Browns’ playoff chances as the defense has to make up for the loss of their star defender. 

Following the game, the media took turns speculating about the length of Garrett’s suspension. Many reporters and players called for a season-long ban, some suggesting that the suspension should go into the 2020 season as well. 

Prior to Garrett’s penalty, the longest suspension for a single on-field action was five games, awarded to Tennessee Titans defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth in 2006 for ripping Dallas Cowboys center Andre Gurode’s helmet off and stomping on his face (Trotter & Pryor, 2019). 

Garrett’s indefinite suspension makes a statement to the rest of the NFL, especially since Rudolph recently came off a concussion after a helmet-to-helmet hit by Baltimore Ravens safety Earl Thomas in week 5 that knocked the quarterback unconscious (Seifert, 2019).

Garrett will have to meet with Commissioner Roger Goodell before his reinstatement (Trotter & Pryor, 2019). By holding out one of the league’s stars for the rest of the season and potentially part of the next, the NFL is showing its decreased tolerance for fighting and the need to prevent incidents like this from occurring again.

The media calling for the lengthy suspension of Myles Garrett put pressure on the NFL to act. By issuing the longest suspension for a single on-field act in league history and later upholding the indefinite ban, the NFL demonstrates its power to discipline players for unsportsmanlike conduct, which it hopes to reduce in the future.

The Browns and Steelers met again on December 1 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

References

Browns, Steelers brawl at end of Cleveland’s 21-7 win. (2019, November 14). ESPN.com. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/nfl/recap?gameId=401128044

JForsett. (2019, November 15). I wouldn’t be surprised if Garrett misses the rest of this season and half of next. It’s an ugly situation, Mason could have suffered a life altering injury. Football is an emotional sport but that was something different. [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/jforsett/status/1195215451657318400?s=21

JuiceCheck44. (2019, November 14). Myles Garrett should not be allowed to play another snap this season [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/juicecheck44/status/1195202767494598656?s=21

LRiddickESPN. (2019, November 14). Suspend him for the rest of the season. [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/lriddickespn/status/1195200614382346241?s=21

Myles Garrett’s indefinite ban upheld; Maurkice Pouncey now suspended 2 games. (2019, November 21). ESPN.com. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/28131395/myles-garrett-indefinite-ban-upheld-maurkice-pouncey-now-suspended-2-games

Pryor, B. (2019, November 23). NFL fines Steelers QB Mason Rudolph $50,000 for role in fight. ESPN.com. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/28146654/nfl-fines-steelers-qb-mason-rudolph-50000-role-fight

ReggieBush. (2019, November 14). In all my life of football that might have been the craziest thing I have seen on a football field! They about to suspend Myles Garrett for 30 years! People getting stomped out, that was a hood fight! Hate to see that in our game that’s not what pro football is about! [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/reggiebush/status/1195202558643490816?s=21

Seifert, K. (2019, November 15). Myles Garrett suspension for Steelers-Browns fight: Why he deserves record punishment for helmet swing. ESPN.com. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/28083617/myles-garrett-suspension-steelers-browns-fight-why-deserves-record-punishment-helmet-swing

Trotter, J., & Pryor, B. (2019, November 15). Browns’ Myles Garrett suspended indefinitely; Steelers’ Maurkice Pouncey gets 3-game ban. ESPN.com. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/28087446/browns-myles-garrett-suspended-indefinitely-steelers-maurkice-pouncey-gets-3-game-ban