Fantasy Football Saved my 2013 Viewing Experience

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If Adrian Peterson had stayed healthy, I may have won my league.  I finished third.

Fantasy Football is Awesome
As a lifelong supporter of the Atlanta Falcons and Georgia Bulldogs, my lofty expectations were dashed early this football season.  Thankfully, I discovered a new football flavored outlet when I was invited to play Fantasy Football.  After the initial skepticism subsided it did not take me long to realize Fantasy Football is awesome.

Fantasy Football Makes Every NFL Sunday More Exciting
If the team you support is having a rough year, or they flat out suck, Fantasy Football will cure those bad team blues.  Fantasy Football offers participants incentive to care about a meaningless regular season National Football League game. Simply add one of the players involved in said contest to your Fantasy Football team, and your interest should soar.

A lot of People Play Fantasy Football
The popularity of Fantasy Football has risen dramatically in recent years.  According to the New Jersey Star Ledger, more than 35 million people in the United States and Canada participate in Fantasy Football.

Fantasy Football is Not Time Consuming.
In 2009, I tried my hand at Fantasy Baseball, because an acquaintance had a spot available.  I regret that decision to this day.  Fantasy Baseball was not my cup of tea, as it involved daily checking of lineups and a ton of roster maneuvering. By comparison, Fantasy Football requires much less effort since players are active one time in a given week.

The Dark Side of Fantasy Football
In part two of this series, the darker side of Fantasy Football will be explored.  Topics include: the Fantasy Football addiction, jerks who heckle their “players” on Twitter and Lady Luck being a fickle bitch when determining winners and losers.

Aaron Murray Should Enter the NFL Draft

See you next year Alabama…or not.

Introduction
University of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray faces a pretty big decision in the next two weeks of his young life.  Fresh off yet another impressive win in the Capital One Bowl versus a tenacious but ultimately outmatched Nebraska Cornhusker team, Murray is left to ponder whether or not to enter the NFL draft.  Should Murray turn pro?  We will examine the reasons why his choice should be a resounding moderate ‘yes’.

What Is Left to Accomplish By Coming Back?
After a 12-2 season and a top five finish in the polls, really there are only two hills left for Murray to climb, one personal and the other team-based.  The idea of coming back to shatter a ton of Georgia, SEC, and national passing records has to be appealing, and clearly Murray seems the kind of guy to return for the possibility of a national championship.  However, those two hills I mentioned earlier?  One is a mountain and its name is Alabama.  With the defense in complete rebuilding mode for 2013, I would wager this reality may keep Murray from even believing he can lead Georgia to a national championship…even with what is shaping up to be a dynamic and incredible UGA offense for 2013.

New Horizons/Fresh Opportunities
Aaron Murray has earned multiple diplomas at UGA, as well as leading the Bulldogs heroically through flush and fallow times.  At some point, any athlete is ready to grow to the next level of their chosen sport.  Murray, I am sure, is no exception.  The question remains, of course, whether the erstwhile Bulldog signal caller will feel that in leaving, his business at Georgia was not complete (Murray didn’t ‘finish the drill’).  While this is compelling stuff, the lure of millions of dollars and the national stage of the NFL may prove more compelling.

Dollars, Dollars, and More Dollars
Word is Murray’s initial NFL evaluation has him as a second or third round draft pick.  Considering the relative weakness for quarterbacks in this year’s NFL draft, this year may be Murray’s best opportunity to cash in big.  Is it possible by staying another year at UGA, Murray could improve his draft status?  Most certainly, especially given his reputation for falling short in big games (and Clemson, South Carolina, and LSU in the first four weeks of the 2013 season certainly provide a plethora of big game opportunities), but the possibility remains that Murray could become injured and the Bulldogs 1-3 before next year’s season is a month old.

Many pundits recommend Murray stay in school, finish his degree, enjoy the greatest years of his life, blah blah blah.  Who among us would have the discipline and restraint to not follow millions of dollars now, as opposed to later?

The Pittsburgh Steelers Throwback Uniforms

Ike Taylor appreciates his throwback uniform.

The Pittsburgh Steelers Are One of the Most Decorated Teams in the NFL
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been a cornerstone of pro football since 1933. With six Super Bowl titles as well as eight AFC championship victories, the Steelers are a marquee franchise for the National Football League. Given their rich tradition, it is natural that this organization has a desire to pay tribute to the Pittsburgh teams of yesteryear by wearing throwback uniforms. However, it would be difficult for even the most unique fan in Steeler Nation to imagine more hideous apparel to represent their football team.

The Bumblebee Jailhouse Look
The 1934 Pittsburgh Steeler Nike throwback jerseys are a black and yellow striped eyesore, but they have drawn a variety of reaction since being unveiled. According to NFL.com, Pittsburgh defensive back Ike Taylor admits, “I like them. I like the throwback man. That bumblebee jailhouse look from back in the day.”

I find it hard to believe that a world renowned company like Nike would appreciate the word jail being used as an adjective to describe one of their products. For what it’s worth, the same NFL.com article notes that only 14% of voters in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette online poll liked the throwback jerseys.

The jersey numbers seem more suited for a marathon runner.

Pittsburgh Steelers Throwback Jersey Numbers Are Humongous
One of the most aesthetically unpleasant features of these uniforms is the jersey numbers. They are so big that if one did not know better it would be easy to mistake the jerseys as being for a track meet as opposed to a football game. The uniforms might be more tolerable if Nike had decided to go with black pants, or a more defined yellow color of leg wear. Instead, they went with a washed out yellow and khaki color that adds to this fashion faux pas.

Real old school football.

NFL Throwback Week
I would like to take this opportunity to make a suggestion to the National Football League. Instead of allowing certain teams to wear throwback uniforms during a given contest, schedule an entire throwback week during the regular season and go all the way with it. Mandate that all teams wear the leather helmets from back in the day. This would be a major deterrent for players who insist on leading with their helmet or facemask. Furthermore, think of the television ratings for this proposed week. People who are not avid NFL fans would likely watch out of curiosity.

Evaluating Nick Saban’s Success at Alabama – Discipline Leads to Dominance

Saban Arrives At Alabama
Since his arrival at the University of Alabama, Nick Saban has been obsessed with maximizing his potential. According to IMG Athletics, coach Saban has a remote control to his office so that he does not have to spend three seconds shutting the door. Saban has mastered everything in his work routine so that he gets the most out of every second of time in his day.

Coach Saban has turned his meticulous planning into a masterpiece while leading Alabama to a national championship victory in 2009, and again in 2011. The Tide have a chance to repeat as BCS National Champions this season, which would be an unprecedented accomplishment in college football. Let us examine how Nick Saban has been able to achieve unparalleled success at the University of Alabama.

Nick Saban is a Disciplinarian
Coach Saban has authored many memorable quotes since becoming the head coach in Tuscaloosa. A favorite Nick Saban jewel:

There are two pains in life, the pain of discipline, and the pain of disappointment. If you can handle the pain of discipline, then you’ll never have to deal with the pain of disappointment.

One of the main reasons that the University of Alabama is at the very top of college football is because their head coach is committed to discipline on and off of the gridiron. As such, Alabama fields a roster of players who realize that they can be replaced very quickly if they fail to fulfill their commitment to the Crimson Tide football program on or off of the playing field.

Coach Saban’s Vision Keeps the Top Football Recruits Coming to Alabama
With the exception of Nick Saban’s first year as Alabama head coach in 2007, the Crimson Tide has had a top five rated recruiting class every year that the coach has been in Tuscaloosa. Football players that decide to enroll at Alabama know that they will be given an opportunity to succeed. The Crimson Tide had eight players drafted in the 2012 NFL Draft. When IMG Athletics did a profile on the current Alabama head coach, they realized he had a plan for everything. IMG Academics reports, “He has a detailed program for his players to follow, and he’s highly regimented. Above all, Saban keeps his players focused on execution…rather than results.”


Alabama’s Defense is Dominant

The Alabama team that won the national championship last season overwhelmed the opposition. According to Coaching Search, the 2011 Tide led the country in the following categories: scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense, passing defense, and third-down conversions. Furthermore, Alabama held opponents to just 183 yards per game on average, while giving up just 8.15 points per contest.

Alabama Does Not Make Big Mistakes on Either Side of the Football
It is understandable that the Crimson Tide defense gets a lot of hype. However, the evolution of Alabama’s offense under Nick Saban cannot be overlooked. Coaching Search reveals an eye-popping comparison between the 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide defense, and the defensive unit of the Oregon Ducks, noting that Alabama’s defensive unit played 357 fewer snaps than Oregon. This total amounts to around five games.  Alabama’s offense is becoming so efficient that the Tide are rolling over every team in their path.

Nick Saban is Never Satisfied with his Alabama Football Team
Coach Saban has won a total of three national titles, and he continues to be driven toward achieving extraordinary success. Such a thing comes from his focus on the journey as opposed to the end result.

Upon signing an extension with the University of Alabama back in March, Coach Saban offered his thoughts on the future of Alabama football, “From my standpoint, the acceptance of this extension represents our commitment – my commitment, our family’s commitment – to the University of Alabama for the rest of our career, the process of repeating as national champion requires more attention. It can’t be about trying to prove something, because you’ve kind of already done that. It needs to be about, do you want to be the best you can be? Are you driven to be the best player you can be? Are you driven to have the intensity, the sense of urgency, the intelligence? Are you going to work to do the things you need to do to be your absolute best?

For readers out there who are not Alabama fans, we recommend hoping that coach Nick Saban is planning an early retirement. His current deal with the University of Alabama expires in 2020.

The Loss of Junior Seau Has Changed My Perception Of Football.

I used to think that the idea of eliminating the kick-off from professional football was blasphemy. Their was always something about strong athletes running full speed towards each other that captivated me as a football fan. That is, until the tragic death of Junior Seau.

Junior Seau’s death has been ruled a suicide, and we may never really know how much of a factor Seau’s hard-nosed 20 year career as a linebacker in the National Football League factored into his decision to take his own life. But there is no doubt that concussions and head injuries played a definite role in Seau’s suicide. That statement is not meant to demonize football. I love the game of football, it is a fast-paced, athletic spectacle that has never been more popular around the world.

Despite the popularity of the NFL, Junior Seau’s death has thrown gasoline on the growing fire that is player safety. Football is a violent sport, and the NFL is filled with phenomenal athletes, and physical specimens who are trained to launch themselves like missiles to make a play on every down. So the question remains, How does the game of football balance player safety on both sides of the ball without hurting the quality of the product on the field? Continue reading