The NFL Off-Season

With the NBA now in full swing and approaching its midway point, we’re going to take some time to talk about football. A lot of stories have made headlines recently. T.O. is broke and now playing for a team he has partial ownership in, one of the best quarterbacks ever isn’t wanted by his team, and one of the best receivers ever is looking for a team. Throw in the NFL draft offering one of the best prospects some say ever along with a Heisman Trophy winner who continues to impress and you have quite the off-season. Oh, and John Fox continues to show his displeasure towards Tim Tebow.

After some disappointing attempts at having a good year, Terrell Owens seems to no longer have anything left in the tank to play professional football. He tried with the Bengals a couple years ago with Chad Ochocinco, and the two of them were supposed to be one of the best wide receiving duos ever. Well, that didn’t turn out too well. Ochocinco did play in the Super Bowl this past year, but you probably didn’t notice. He was in one play in which he caught a comeback route and then took himself out of the game. Owens, on the other hand, had problems with his ACL during the last off-season and needed surgery before this season. Add that to his past problems and the guy really had no chance in finding an NFL team to play for this year, despite everything Drew Rosenhaus tried to say to get his value up. Owens was a special player; it’s just been a while since he was special. No team expressed interest in Owens, but despite all of that he will return to football this year for his comeback. He’ll be back in Texas playing for none other than your…Allen Wranglers? Yes, an arena football team by the name of the Allen Wranglers, which Owens has partial ownership in, is where Owens will attempt to make his comeback. Why would Owens stoop to this level? Well, apparently he is broke. All those years of being a celebrity must have finally hit Owens where it hurts the most, his wallet. Personally, I think Owens has gotten a bad rap of being a diva the last couple years, but he definitely has lived the diva lifestyle and will be playing arena ball next year to try and overcome it.

Go back a year or two and think about this statement. Someone comes up to you on the side of the street and says hey, the Colts don’t want to re-sign Peyton Manning. After you laughed at whoever told you this for a while, you’d think of how ridiculous that statement really sounds. Sadly though, it’s how the NFL works. Joe Montana received the same treatment when his owner tried to faze him out of San Francisco. He still managed to make the Super Bowl with the Chiefs not too long after though. Manning has done so much for the Colts’ organization. Their home stadium, Lucas Oil Stadium, is nick-named “The house that Peyton built”. I respect Manning a great deal, so much that earlier in the year I wrote a piece talking about how he should win the MVP this year despite never taking a snap. (I stand by that, by the way) Look at this Colts team last year and compare it to the team two years ago, you’d think it was two completely different teams. Only thing is they were pretty similar, they were just missing their future hall of fame quarterback. Manning suffered an injury where he needed micro fracture surgery to fix a nerve in his neck. This injury made it difficult for Manning to throw (bad injury for a QB) and he needed multiple surgeries to try and correct the problem. He has recently been cleared by doctors to compete in all physical activities and can now hopefully stop making pizza commercials. Once Manning’s nerve re-generates he will be good to go. Two years ago no one was wondering if he had anything left in the tank, but after a year with the neck, everyone seems to be questioning Manning and his ability to play, especially the Indianapolis Colts who don’t really want him back next season. If they do want him back his only job would be to mentor who everyone seems to be touting as the best prospect ever, Andrew Luck.

Andrew Luck attended Stanford University and chose to forego his final year of eligibility there to enter the NFL draft. Luck is a back-to-back Heisman runner up who seems to have all of the tools to be a great NFL quarterback. Sadly though, those things were also said about Ryan Leaf. If you’re asking who that is, that just adds to my point. Luck though, seems to be different and is valued as a player you just can’t pass up in this year’s draft. He would have went number one overall last year, but decided to stay in school another year. Cam Newton went first overall instead, a quarterback people questioned whether or not he was NFL ready, and boy did he prove them wrong. He lit up pretty much every defense with his athleticism and beautiful touch passes. No one seems to have any doubts about Luck though, (although draft experts never have doubts unless their predictions turn out incorrectly) and he is definitely first overall pick material. The only dilemma is that he will have to replace an icon in Peyton Manning. The Colts were so bad without Manning under center that they earned the honor of having the first overall pick in the NFL draft. Since the Colts are unsure about Manning’s future they are basically going out with the old and in with the new in drafting Luck. I don’t know what Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts, wants anymore. One day he loves Peyton Manning, the next day he despises him, one week they seem like enemies, the next he tells everyone their relationship is as good as ever. It has to be hard for Irsay to say no to Peyton Manning considering everything he has done for the Colts’ franchise. But Luck is just too good to pass up and while he would love to keep Manning to mentor Luck, it would be very expensive. Also, Manning isn’t interested in being anyone’s back-up. He’s better than half the quarterbacks in the league even with a bad neck and deserves a shot to play somewhere else. I never thought I’d see Peyton Manning in any other jersey that wasn’t the Colts or the pro bowl, but the fact of the matter is that he is being fazed out of Indianapolis. Maybe it’s an omen that we will see Manning in the Super Bowl again soon, just like Montana.

Robert Griffin III has become the story of the draft. Teams don’t know where he is going to be taken and talks about trading up in the draft order to get him have been going on for some time now. The Heisman Trophy winner out of Baylor University captivated audiences in Waco, as long as everywhere else with his play on the field and with the superman socks he wore at the Heisman Trophy presentation. Griffin was superman for the Bears this past season, which you can’t help but think is ironic. Griffin is a mobile quarterback coming out of college and will be entering the league with questions of his NFL readiness, funny, kind of sounds like another quarterback that plays for the Carolina Panthers right now. Oh, whenever Cam Newton scores, by the way, he acts like he is ripping his jersey open to reveal an imaginary “S” on his chest like he is superman. Perhaps Griffin will simply have to pull up his socks and let their capes fly for a little when he scores for whoever is able to grab him in the upcoming draft.

Randy Moss was asked in the last week or two why he wanted to come back to the NFL, his response? “Football is my M.O., bro”. Unlike Owens, I think Moss still has something left in the tank for his NFL career. Tom Brady expressed earlier in the year that he would be welcome to the idea of bringing Moss back to the Patriots where the two of them had one of the best statistical years in history. Brady sure could have used Moss in the Super Bowl where the Patriots’ lack of a deep threat was quite evident. Randy Moss is regarded as one of the best receivers of all time, and possibly one of the rawest talented players to play the game. When he wanted to be, Moss was the best player on the field at any given time. When he didn’t want to be, Moss was still probably the best player on the field. His last year in the NFL didn’t turn out too well, but he didn’t seem interested then. Now that his mind is right and he has had a year to rest and recover from the beating that the NFL dishes out, I think Moss would be a valuable asset to a team in need of a receiver.

Tim Tebow was my favorite sports story of the year last year by far. What he did was amazing. I love seeing sports analysts who are so certain about their opinions get things wrong and have to go back on everything they said previously to be right. Here’s my example, the media’s perception of Tony Romo is that he won’t be a premier quarterback, because he can’t win football games. He’s not a winner, because he doesn’t seem to pull out games in the end. Although he doesn’t win games, Romo has fabulous numbers, but he can’t be a good quarterback if he doesn’t win games. Then we have Tebow. He will put up some of the worst stat lines you will ever see, but the man will win football games. It wasn’t pretty, most of the time it was downright ugly, but Tim Tebow led his team to victory countless times. Say what you want about the defense and the kicker, the quarterback is the one that gets the blame win or lose. Romo’s defense is never blamed for his losses even though they have every right to be. With Tebow at the helm, the Broncos went from a team wondering if they would win a game to a team that knocked out a perennial Super Bowl contender in the Pittsburgh Steelers where he out-performed everyone and threw the game winning touchdown pass on the first play of overtime. Everyone in Denver seems to love Tebow, everyone except John Fox. Even John Elway, owner of the Denver Broncos, was starting to come around a little, but since Tebow-mania has come to a pause, it’s back to Tebow being a guy who can’t be a professional, every snap quarterback. Fox has decided that he wants to bring in not one, but two quarterbacks to compete with Tim Tebow for the starting quarterback of the Broncos next season. I feel bad for the guy really. Sure, what he did wasn’t pretty and he undoubtedly got help from his defense and kicker Matt Prater, but one way or another he brought the best out of his team. A team that looked like they had a shot at Andrew Luck ended up going to the second round of the playoffs. If Trent Dilfer can win a Super Bowl, why not try Tim Tebow?

If I were putting a team together this off-season I would need a good quarterback/wider-receiver duo to lead my passing attack. Imagine a team with Peyton Manning and Randy Moss on it. We all saw what Brady was able to do with Moss, what’s to say that Manning can’t do the same? It is certainly shaping up to be one interesting off-season. Teams are scrambling trying to fill their needs and decide if they are happy where they are with their position in the draft order, or if they want to trade up or trade down. It’s a hectic time for owners and general managers. So hectic Peyton Manning and Randy Moss aren’t really on a team, Terrell Owens is playing arena football, one of the best prospects ever and a Heisman Trophy winner are available in the draft, and a quarterback that led his team to the second round to the playoffs just a few months ago is trying to do whatever he can not to be 3rd string. And people wonder why we love football so much.

-Colby

Co-founder and contributor to Day to Day Sports

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