Traditionally, the NFL Hall of Fame Game kicks off the NFL Preseason. That magical time when football fans are gifted the opportunity to pay regular season prices for a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse at players who will only wear their team’s jersey once before they’re cut.
We’re just about 40 days away from that annual hallmark, assuming Canton can keep its shit together. You might recall the disaster that occurred last season, when workers used the wrong paint on the field, which caused it to turn concrete hard… then the disastrous effort to remove the paint by heating it, which melted the rubber pellets in the turf, making things worse and destroying the field irreparably.
Anyway! It’s been quite the offseason, and I thought I’d take this opportunity to look back at some of the more recent events that played a role in shaping the season to come. Come with me on this journey.
Marshawn Lynch Becomes a Raider.
The bliss of seeing childhood dreams come true.
Beast Mode came out of retirement to play for his home team in what will be the finale of their time in Oakland. Whether or not Lynch contributes to the team in a meaningful way on the field remains to be seen, but he’s been keeping in football shape. What I think this means for the Raiders more than anything else is strong veteran leadership in a still relatively young offense, and someone with a fire in his belly, playing for sheer love of the game, pushing that locker room that extra inch. The Raiders are already a formidable team and likely playoff-bound. This little extra bit of enthusiasm and desire to give Oakland fans a fond farewell makes them dangerous in the AFC West.
The Jets Totally Give up.
How many games the Jets will win this year.
Most teams use the offseason to bolster their roster. Make moves to better their chances, and instill in their fans confidence and the desire to purchase $40 hats and $20 beers. Not the Jets! They took the opportunity to cut quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, despite demonstrated loyalty from teammates. But they went ahead and cut all those teammates too, so it balanced out. Wide Receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, Cornerback Darrelle Revis, Tackle Ryan Clady… shit, even kicker Nick Folk. Any reason at all to pay attention to the Jets is now gone and replaced with former Browns QB Josh McCown, Arizona’s rejected kicker Chandler Catanzaro, and… no one else you’ve likely heard of. Since tanking isn’t really a viable option in the NFL and next year’s QB draft class isn’t terribly special, I’m left wondering what the point is, really. Maybe watching their rivals the Patriots win yet another Super Bowl finally broke them.
Everybody’s Legs Are Healed.
Legs aren’t supposed to do that.
In the 2016-17 season, legs were snapping like chopsticks in a Chinese restaurant. Raiders Quarterback Derek Carr busted his fibula, cutting short the Raiders’ playoff run. Seahawks Wide Receiver Tyler Locket busted both his fibula and tibia in week 16 against Arizona. Marcus Mariota suffered a broken fibula. Chief-turned-Bronco Running Back Jamaal Charles underwent yet another knee surgery. Fellow Bronco Running Back C.J. Anderson suffered meniscus damage in his knee. New-to-Seattle Running Back Eddie Lacy underwent ankle surgery. Cardinals star David Johnson suffered a sprained MCL… the list goes on. But, virtually all of these players are ready to go come training camp. Leg injuries are a bitch, and it’ll be interesting to see how these playmakers recover and navigate this season.
Derek Carr Gets PAID.
Shit, for $125 million, you can break this writer’s leg, too.
Derek Carr, for reasons still kind of unclear really, just became the highest paid player in the history of the NFL. A monster contract coming in at $125 million over 5 years, Carr also notably insisted on flexibility in the contract to allow for freeing up money to sign players in the near future, if need be. The kid’s got heart, he’s a team player, and now he’s ridiculously fucking rich. And he’ll be able to back-load that contract after the team moves to Vegas to save himself from having to pay out the ass in California state taxes. It’s yet another step up in the arms race for the biggest contract in the league, and it also cements Carr as the face of a franchise in what looks to be a competitive AFC West division.
Lots and Lots of Rule Changes.
Thanks a lot, fuck-o.
First up on the list is the change from 15 minute regular season overtime periods to 10 minutes. Due no small part, in my opinion, to Chandler Catanzaro and Steven Hauschka’s horrific trading of missed field goals last October. The league claims it’s in the interest of player safety, and the belief that a whole five minutes of watching kickers miss will allow them to recover more easily… yeah.
Players have a little more leeway when it comes to celebrating. I’m not sure if this allows a return of the Gronk Spike or the Graham Dunk, but players won’t be penalized for using the ball as prop. They can also make snow angels again, bringing back at least one more reason to pay attention to NFC North games. Still no sexy dancing, even though during any given celebration, there’s a dozen provocatively-dressed cheerleaders grinding away.
Teams can now bring back two players after putting them in injured reserve. This is a great move, really, and allows teams more flexibility and will make a big difference late in each season. If your star running back sprains his knee or ankle and needs some time off the field, it’s more likely he’ll be able to come back late in the season and contribute if the injury subsides. Anything making the playoffs more competitive is okay in my book.
There are others, but I can sense you getting bored, dear reader.
Every QB in the League Had Shoulder Surgery
Likely to repair the damage caused by this absolutely botched handshake.
Indiana’s Andrew Luck is at the forefront of a movement of Quarterbacks all having shoulder surgery. He went under the knife to repair his throwing shoulder, which has apparently been giving him issues for a while. Broncos QB Trevor Siemian had work done on his non-throwing shoulder at the beginning of the year. And Cam Newton, not to be out-done by everyone else, underwent surgery in March. I imagine Newton’s arm sling is probably pink and green plaid with some fucking feathers and beads glued to it or some shit. The status on these QBs is ponderous at best, likely to not be available until the season begins, at worst.
That does it for me, for now. There’s still a lot of offseason left to go, and new and exciting story yet to unfold! Man, I hope not… let’s just get through the next 40 days with zero drama and no significant training camp injuries, okay? If you think I forgot anything important, leave a comment below!