(Breaking news: Carolina had ten players named to the Pro Bowl. SE, NE and AZ had seven, and Cincy five.)
If Beckham didn’t get ejected for that, then I assume nothing short of literally murdering one of the opposition players will get you thrown out. At least when a player makes a nasty, illegal hit on a play, it can be rationalized as trying to improve the chances of winning a game. When it happens well after the play is over, it’s just pure malice and idiocy.
The latest I heard is the Giants are claiming he was called a gay slur. Maybe, should be investigated, but it sounds like the team is just desperate to make his action look a little more understandable.
Dion Sanders, discussing it on one of the networks, showed a clip from his playing days when he got into it with an opposing player. Wow! I’ve seen very few boxing matches where more punches were thrown in a shorter span of time. You look at that clip, and you wonder why the refs didn’t call in the police to break it up.
In more inspiring NFL news, Newton became the second player in NFL history to throw for 300 yards and run for 100 yards in one game. The first? Russell Wilson, who stands alone as the only player to throw for at least three TDs with no picks in five straight games. In that stretch, he has 20 TD passes. To put that in perspective, that would be a pace not only to annihilate Manning’s single season record, but to do it with zero interceptions. And ten of those have gone to Baldwin in just four games, which ties another record, held by, among others, Montana and Rice. Pretty good company.
Anyone else realize that there is a very real possibility that Carolina could go 16-0, then lose their divisional game vs. the Seahawks? If SE is the first WC, they will play the NFC E winner, probably Washington or Philly. After winning that game (come on, Amster, it’s a surprising season, but let’s not lose our sense of perspective), SE would play CA assuming that MN is the second WC, and loses to GB.
At this point, I like NE's chances of making the SB (or being an anti-fan, I could say, I hate their chances, because their chances look so good). Denver and Cincy are both struggling at the QB position. Cincy beat a pitiful SF team fairly easily this Sunday, but it was sort of overlooked that their offense was really poor, they couldn’t sustain any drives, they scored mostly because numerous turnovers by the 49ers and poor special teams play repeatedly gave them the ball deep in Niner territory.
The Steelers are the trendy pick, they might have the best chance of any other team to knock off the Pats, but their explosive offense tends to obscure the fact that their defense is pretty poor. They're second to last in the NFL in passing yards, which could have Brady drooling, though to be fair, part of the reason for that is that they have a strong run defense that forces teams to throw more against them.
KC may be the best-balanced team--their scoring defense is actually as as good as Denver's, and their offense is top 10 in scoring--but they're built a lot like Alex Smith's previous team in SF, heavily dependent on the run and defense. Smith is very successful if he doesn't have to throw often or deep. Is that enough in the pass happy NFL? I haven't checked the exact WC rankings, but if Denver beats Cincy this Sunday, I think it's quite possible the Chiefs and Bengals would meet in the WC game. That would feature the two teams that have gone the longest without a postseason win, which means guaranteed heart-break for one of them.
Finally, Alpe, I know you’re a Raiders fan from way back. Surprised you didn’t mention that Charles Woodson is retiring, one of the rare defensive players who won an MVP (no one since, Watt of course the most likely to do so), also one of the rare players who won a Heisman and MVP and SB. Many feel he belongs in the discussion for greatest DB of all time.
Edit: My bad, Hitch is right, Woodson won Defensive Player of the Year once, was not MVP. Also interesting to note that he was the one who made that play on Brady that should have ended the Pats' first SB season. Very controversially, the play was ruled an incomplete pass rather than a fumble, and the Pats went on to win that game, and go all the way.
And this just in:
The NFL, which spent years criticizing researchers who warned about the dangers of football-related head trauma, has backed out of one of the most ambitious studies yet on the relationship between football and brain disease, sources familiar with the project told Outside the Lines.
The seven-year, $16 million initiative was to be funded out of a $30 million research grant the NFL gave the National Institutes of Health in 2012. The NFL has said repeatedly that it has no control over how that money is spent, but the league balked at this study, sources said, because the NIH awarded the project to a group led by Dr. Robert Stern, a prominent Boston University researcher who has been critical of the league.
In a news release announcing the study Tuesday morning, Boston University said the NIH would pay for the project but made no mention of the NFL. The study seeks to capture what has been described as the holy grail of concussion research: the ability to diagnose chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in living patients.
Thirty million dollars really is nothing for the NFL, but it's money that won't be available for some other researcher applying for NIH funding. A test for CTE in living patients would of course be huge, because it would mean that players at immediate risk could be identified, and steps taken at least to prevent further aggravation, and to prepare the player for the effects of the current level of degeneration.
And by the way, an increasing number of reports are now revealing that even very young men can suffer from CTE. A couple of weeks ago I saw a story about a 26 year old man who only played football in HS and college. A couple of years after graduating from college he began exhibiting increasingly bizarre, impulsive behavior, which everyone who knew him said was totally uncharacteristic of him (in fact, in his more lucid moments, he himself seemed to understand this). A long-term relationship in which he fathered a child fell apart, he had trouble holding a steady job, and he ended up committing suicide; like several other players, he had the presence of mind to shoot himself in the chest, so that his brain could be studied. That study would never have been done except that sister of the young man's mother saw a 60 minutes program on the subject, told her sister that this sounded like her son, and the mother had the post-mortem study done. It revealed extensive signs of CTE.