Category Archives: NFL
In the wake of Junior Seau’s death, Barry Sanders & Robert Smith got it right.
Although for different reasons, they left the NFL in their prime on their own terms.
Barry Sanders cited ‘exhaustion and frustration’ for his reasons to retire from the NFL.
Exhaustion from putting his body on the line every Sunday. Frustration towards the Detroit Lions front-office for not surrounding him with quality players to take the team to the next level.
At 31, his retirement shocked the sports world. Sanders was on pace to shatter Walter Payton’s all-time NFL rushing record.
Sanders says in the book,
After all these years, I’d come full circle. It was tough to stay focused and motivated. (“Barry Sanders: Now You See Him … His Story in His Own Words” Mark McCormick of The Wichita Eagle
It is a fact in any walk of life when you become unmotivated and lose focus, bad things tend to happen. For an athlete, that’s code for a career ending injury is looming right around the corner.
Robert Smith’s surprising retirement from the NFL in the spring of 2001 shocked the sports world just as well. Smith was only 28-years old and coming off a career-best season of 1,500+ rushing yards with the Minnesota Vikings. What was more surprising, Smith would become an unrestricted free-agent and was headed for a hefty multi-year payday.
Smith, a philosophical human being, cited many reasons for retiring in his book, ‘The Rest of the Iceberg: An Insider’s View on the World of Sport and Celebrity’. He grew tired of the tedious meetings and practices throughout the week, and felt there was something better than football waiting for him.
Smith believed the risk-reward of his long-term health was leaning to the risky side if he extended his career any longer.
It just seemed like a good time to get away…..Leaving football was something that was just a part of my life as a whole. (‘The Rest of the Iceberg” by Robert Smith)
There’s nothing to say that if Junior Seau stayed retired after San Diego, then his life would have turned out different. His final years were played out in a melting pot of mediocre football and injury-riddled seasons with various teams. More years meant more hits. More hits meant more pain. More pain meant more strife for any one man to handle.
There will always be more to the story than we’ll know…..and more to the story that is none of our business.
As previous players come out of the woodworks and ink their name to a lawsuit against the NFL claiming, “deliberate omitting or concealing years of evidence linking concussions to long-term neurological problems” (ESPN.com). The Ledger is asking, “Why didn’t you quit?”
Robert Smith and Barry Sanders did.
As a Dallas Cowboy fan, every year around this time I peruse the new schedule and guesstimate the team’s win-loss record. I’ve been doing it since I was eight years old.
Every year, sporting my silver and blue glasses, I average their record at no less than 10-6.
Never have I had the ‘Boys going less than 10-6. Never.
I’ve looked for opportunistic holes in the schedule. I’ve read between the lines. I even tried on a different pair of silver and blue glasses. But I can not for the life of me see 10-6 for the Dallas Cowboys in 2012.
My criteria was simple (and extremely speculative):
(1) The opponent, (2) Home or away, (3) Recent late game/season failures
Dallas is set up for complete failure at the behest of NFL ratings by opening up the season against the Giants in the Big Apple. There couldn’t be a bigger stage for Dallas to fall flat on their face. Plus, the game is on a Wednesday, which points to bad juju. (Loss, 0-1) ….. Jason Garrett rallies the troops against Pete Carroll’s Seattle Trojanshawks on the road (Win, 1-1) ….. The momentum continues as Tony Romo looks sharper than ever during their two-game home stand against Chicago (Win, 2-1) ….. and Tampa Bay (Win 3-1)….. Jerry Jones begins printing his own Superbowl tickets heading into the bye week.
This is where it gets ugly. Dallas plays four of their next five games on the road. They begin in Baltimore where Ray Lewis & Co. bring The ‘Boys back to reality in an ugly way (Loss, 3-2) ….. Humiliated and humbled, they head to Carolina and witness Super-über-QB Cam Newton have a career day passing & rushing against a shell-shocked defense (Loss, 3-3) ….. Just as Jerry begins to shred his Superbowl tickets, Dallas shocks the NFL & posts a win with a gutsy performance versus the N.Y. Giants at Jerry World (Win, 4-3) ….. Dallas finishes of the first half of the season against Atlanta. Matt Ryan, Roddy White, and Julio Jones are too much for an undermanned secondary. (Loss, 4-4)
The scheduling Gods have not been nice to the Cowboys at this point. They finish off their fourth road contest in five games at Philly. No brotherly love from Michael Vick though (Loss, 4-5) ….. Like clockwork, Jerry shifts into panic mode and threatens to fire everyone but himself & Romo. The gang responds with a solid win against Cleveland (Win, 5-5) ….. and turn around four days later for a come from behind Thanksgiving Day performance versus RG3 and the Redskins (Win, 6-5) ….. The Cowboys get lucky this time around against Philadelphia, as a predictably banged up Michael Vick is unable to suit up in Dallas, leaving a slight advantage for Dallas (Win, 7-5). All is well in Dallas as Jerry fires up the ticket printing machine once again.
With their head finally above water, quiet thoughts of playoffs and sugar plums are spinning in the locker room.
Except it’s December. If the last three years are any indication, Dallas could be playing a Texas high school football team in December and find a way to lose the game.
A resurgent Cincinnati confirms the ‘December Jinx’ as the Bengals play their worst game of the season, but Dallas gift-wraps the game with a series of late-game miscues (Loss, 7-6) ….. Garrett’s men limp home with hopes of turning the corner against long time nemesis Pittsburgh, but fall flat (Loss, 7-7) ….. There aren’t too many teams out there suffering through a worse season as Dallas, but the train-wreck organization in New Orleans is one of them. In a fun to watch no-defense game, Romo & Brees put on an aerial show never before seen at Cowboys Stadium (Win, 8-7) ….. Last game of the season. Dallas has a slim chance of making the playoffs if: (1) Three NFC teams ahead of Dallas lose, (2) Two other teams manage to tie 2-2, (3) Lightning strikes three times in the same place in a nine-second span, and (4) Jerry Jones steps down as General Manager.
Miraculously, the first three actually happen!
Well, we all know that will never happen. Washington, already eliminated from the playoffs, punks Dallas at FedEx Field (Loss, 8-8) ….. Cowboys get the 18th pick in the draft next year.
And all this coming from a Cowboy fan.
It wasn’t the best of news if you decided to read through this article, but it is as close to reality as we’ll see this season.
The schedule is unforgiving. The opponents are tough.
Three games against teams that played in the past two Super Bowls. Half of the opponents have been to the playoffs the past two years. Six of nine games on the road to begin the season, four of five road games during one stretch. Cold-weather games in Cincinnati and Washington in December.
The Ledger tried for 10-6 folks. Really, it did.
In the wake of Peyton Manning’s inevitable release this week, football fans are asking, “Where to next Peyton?”
The Ledger is asking, “Why not retire Peyton? Didn’t you see what happened to Johnny U!”
There are a handful of NFL greats who went on to have moderate-to-great success for their new team: Joe Montana and Brett Favre instantly come to mind.
But most “one-team” guys who think they have a little juice left in the tank, sign with a new team and experience mild-to-suckfest success.
You’ve been warned Peyton.
These five random but very popular NFL players ended their careers at the infamous ‘SuckFest’.
He made a name for himself as the blue-collar, All-American, gun slinger for the Baltimore Colts. By the time Johnny U was traded to the San Diego Chargers, he looked more like a shady used car salesman.
In five games with the ‘Bolts, Unitas threw for 471 yards, 4 touchdowns, & 7 interceptions.
One particular stat that had fans screaming “Mercy!” like the mob in Braveheart during those 5 games….14 sacks.
No 41-year old man should ever have to endure that kind of punishment.
Let’s be honest. Joe Namath’s numbers, aside from 1967, weren’t that impressive. But he did play in the Big Apple and he did win a championship, and that’s a fairly big accomplishment.
In 10 out of the 12 years with the J-E-T-S, he threw for more interceptions than touchdowns. 10 out of 12! In five of those ten seasons he threw at least 21 picks. Are you kidding me?
In four games with his new team, Broadway Joe held true to form: 606 passing yards, 3 TD, 5 INT.
This is the first of two players whose career ended woefully in Seattle.
RB Franco Harris was the epitome of the Steel Town, as well as the entire Pittsburgh team. He was your typical between-the-tackles grind-it-out runner.
In 12 seasons with the Steelers, he racked up eight 1,000 yard seasons and five seasons of 10 or more touchdowns.
By the time his career was coming to an end in 1984….in Seattle, the bruiser could only muster 170 yards in 8 games.
Jerry Rice’s story is a little different from the others. He actually produced, breaking individual and career records with all three teams.
Needing to part ways with his original team in San Francisco for salary cap purposes, Rice signed with Oakland, then Seattle.
It was apparent however, that his motives to continue to play were based solely off achieving records. He did finally break the NFL combined net yards record while with Seattle, but it was a fraction of the Jerry Rice we were accustomed to seeing.
Final stats with the Seahawks: 25 receptions, 362 yards, and 3 touchdowns.
By far the most disappointing ending to a career of all time…Emmitt Smith.
The heart and soul of Dallas’ famed ‘Triplets’ (Aikman, Irvin, & Smith), Emmitt brought the shine back to the star of the Cowboys in his thirteen years with Big D.
11 consecutive seasons topping 1,000 yards. 3 seasons with more than 1,500 yards. 8 seasons with 10 or more touchdowns. 2 seasons with over 20 TD’s.
Three Superbowl rings. One Superbowl MVP.
Did he ride off into the Texas sunset to pasture with his brother-in-arms? Nope. Instead, he signs with the Arizona Cardinals and racks up meaningless yards for a meaningless team over the next two years.
In his two seasons with ‘Zona, Smith totals 1,193 yards and 11 touchdowns for a team that went 10-22.
Well done Emmitt.