Monthly Archives: February, 2012

The Worst Coaches And Managers Who Got More Than One Job

20) Don Nelson

To be Don Nelson is to be about contradictions. Nelson is the winningest head coach in NBA history, yet he’s on this list. He’s been NBA Coach of the year three times, which is the same number of times he’s been fired. The reason is simple: Despite having 1,335 regular-season wins, Nelson is a .452 coach in the play-offs, which is why he has never coached an NBA Champion.

19) Tony Granato

It is rare that a lousy coach gets more than one job; its even rarer they get more than one job with the same team. Granato was the head coach for the Colorado Avalanche on two separate occasions. In the first go-around, Granato coached a Stanley Cup favorite loaded with talent like Paul Kariya, Teemu Selanne’,  Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Milan Hejduk, and Alex Tanguay. They dropped it the the second round of the playoffs, and Granato was the scapegoat for this “dream team’s” choke job.

But the reward for this gagging was another shot behind the bench.  In 2008-09, Colorado again hired Granato to be the coach, except this time instead of names like Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne’, Granato had a bench full of nobodies. He couldn’t coach talent; with none he led the Avs to their worst season ever.  Then he was fired…again.

18 ) Marcel Lachemann

Everybody remembers the Gene Mauch-led collapse of the 1964 Phillies. But most forget Marcel Lachemann had the reins of the California Angels in 1995, when on August 24 the Angels enjoyed 8.5-game lead.  Even after the Halos dropped nine straight, they regrouped and still held a six-game advantage on Sept. 12. Then came their nine-game fold-job in a month, which meant the end’ the final nail in the coffin being driven by the Mariners in a one-game playoff.

Despite this mega-fold, Lachemann’s expired contract was re-newed for 1996.  The Angles eventually realized the error of their ways; Lachemann was gassed after a 52-59 start to a season in which California finished in the AL West cellar.

17) Mike Hargrove

People may ask why Hargrove makes this list aster he captured five straight division titles with Cleveland from 1995 to 1999. That’s until it is pointed out what happened afterward.

From 2000 to 2003 leading the Baltimore Orioles, he averaged less than 69 wins per season, going 275-372 (.425). The topper to that in Baltimore was when he batted uber-hero Cal Ripken Jr. seventh in the lineup in his final game. This meant Ripken got to see his Hall of Fame career end from the on-deck circle watching Brady Anderson strike out. The Orioles were miles form the pennant race, and in a game that meant nothing in the standings, but was the swan song of arguably the greatest ambassador baseball has produced in the last 50 years, Hargrove buried Ripken in the lineup behind luminaries like Tim Raines, Sr., Luis Matos, Jeff Conine, Chris Richard, and Tony Batista.

Was it any wonder why the O’s lost 98 games in 2001?  “The Human Rain Delay’s” managerial career was capped by a tooth-drilling two-and-a-half seasons with Seattle from 2005-07, going 192-210 (.478) and two last-place finishes in the AL West.

16) Tyrone Willingham

Willingham’s career is like a roller coaster, The way up was exhilarating; he managed to build Stanford into a respectable football team before being hired by Notre Dame. In his first year in South Bend, he led Notre Dame to a 10-3 record, but a loss in that season’s Gator Bowl was the top of the roller coaster. The ride down went through two moribund seasons at Notre Dame, after which he was canned. Then he was hired by Washington, where he took the Huskies to new lows including a 0-12 season during his final year in 2008.

15) John McNamara

McNamara has a career full of idiocy-defining moments, but nothing could ever top Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. McNamara’s misplaced sense of sentimentality let him be completely blind to the face that Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner could barely get on and off the field without a walker because of his bad ankles. do little more than hobble around on his bum ankles.  This is why McNamara didn’t replace Buckner with Dave Stapleton as a defensive replacement to protect the lead as the Red Sox were mere outs away from their first World Series win since 1918;  he wanted Buckner to be on the field for the final three outs.  You know the rest.

14) Pick a Van Gundy

  • a) Jeff Van Gundy

Easily the stupidest coach in the history of the NBA, and there’s a host of quotes to prove it.

“Our guys competed really hard for the most part. It’s wasn’t like we overwhelmed them with talent, that’s for sure.”

“When you score that little in a quarter, it’s probably part defense and part you’re missing some shots that you normally make. So we’re not going to pound ourselves on the chest because I remember three or four they had right in a row at the basket over our midgets where the ball just happened to fall out. We try to play good defense yet we understand how good of an offensive team they are.”

“(McGrady) played super hard today. He just doesn’t make (shots) at home.”

But Jeff will always be best remembered for being Alonzo Mourning’s ankle bracelet.

  • b) Stan Van Gundy

The Magic somehow win despite Stan Van Gundy. For some reason, he thinks Jameer Nelson is an elite guard in this league. For some reason, he let’s his bench players chuck up shots any damn time they want to. Maybe he thinks they are all Hedo Turkoglu five years ago. How many more times do we need to see the Magic ahead in the 4th quarter when Van Gundy decides to quit giving the ball to Dwight Howard?

13) Ron Zook

Ron Zook took the reins of the Florida Gators from Steve Spurrier and promptly turned them into a team that couldn’t beat Mississippi State. That ain’t gonna fly in Gainesville, which is why the Florida faithful flew his ass out of town. Unfortunately for Illinois fans, that flight landed in Champaign-Urbana. Other than the miracle Rose Bowl season of 2007, Zook never had a winning season at Illinois, and he finished up his career with an overall record of 57-65.

12) Dennis Green

Dennis Green made his way into the NFL by posting a single winning season amongst eight on the sidelines at Stanford and Northwestern. But once he hit the professional ranks, he suddenly improved to mediocre. To be honest, I’ve never seen anybody survive so many times in which he should have been fired. I don’t mean like how Tom Coughlin was rumored to get fired every other week until he won this most recent Super Bowl; I mean like “pack your office and get the hell out” fired.

Through his first six years with the team, Green never posted a losing record and Vikings went to the playoffs five times.  But the trouble started when then fans and the local media started flaying Green for creating a team of playoff choke-artists,; it wasn’t until his sixth season the Vikings finally won a playoff game. This led to Wheelock Whitney and Jane Dyer, who were two members of the Vikings’ ownership board, to contact Lou Holtz in 1996.  The idea was to bring Holtz in to replace Green. The rumors really started flying when Holtz abruptly announced his retirement from Notre Dame subsequent to meeting with the Vikings.

Green took this all so personally that in November 1997, he published his autobiography No Room For Crybabies, in which he responded blasted his critics and started personal vendettas against the Twin Cities sports media. To top it off, he threatened to sue the Vikings in response to the Lou Holtz rumors.

How many people do you know threaten their bosses and survive? Green survived to create the classic “should have been fired then” moment. Flash the clock to 1997; the Vikings and the Falcons are tied at 27 in the NFC Championship Game. The Vikes’ have the ball, there’s 30 seconds on the clock, and it’s third down – three yards to go from their own 30-yard line. The Vikings have two timeouts remaining and the Falcons have none.  The Vikings have what was at that time the most  explosive offensive in NFL history; Dennis Green has at his disposal quarterback Randall Cunningham, receiver Randy Moss, and really only needs 30 yards to get the NFL’s best placekicker at the time a shot at a game-winning field goal.

Instead, Green decides to play it safe and takes a knee to run out the clock. Rather than taking a shot to win the game, he merely hopes the Vikes will get the coin flip in overtime. While the do win the coin toss, the Vikes prove the flaw in Green’s plan by allowing the Falcons to score first and win, 30-27.

Believe it or not, Green survived this idiocy for four more seasons. It would be even more amazing that he got another job after that, except it didn’t surprise anybody at the time the Cardinals would make a bad hire.

11) Pierre Pagé

It’s pretty sad when a resume reads more like an epitaph. In all fairness, Page was a pretty good general manager, but in eight seasons as a head coach in the NHL (with four different teams), he only ever had one winning season. He has since been banished to Europe, where he has enjoyed some success. But he will never coach in the NHL again; they’ve seen enough.

10) Dave Shula

Just because you dad is a great football coach doesn’t mean you will be one. Enter Dave Shula, son of Hall-of-Fame coach Don Shula, and abject failure. The warning signs were there; Shula sucked as both an assistant and coordinator in Miami and Dallas. However, as proof that some people do in  fact fail upward, the Cincinnati Bengals hired Shula at their head coach in 1992.  19 wins and 57 losses later, Shula was finally shown the door by Bengals’ owner Mike Brown.

Care to hazards a guess as to what happens to the coach who reached fifty losses faster than any other coach in NFL history? He ends up working for his dad running  Shula’s Steakhouses.

9) Wade Phillips

If Wade Phillips were in the business world, he would be one of the great vice-presidents of all time; so good in fact he keeps getting hired as a CEO because nobody remember how crappy he was as a CEO the last time…largely because he was so good as a VP since then.  Hence, the football life of Wade Phillips. Great defensive coordinator becomes lousy head coach becomes great defensive coordinator becomes lousy head coach. Wade has ridden that roller coaster through three head coaching gigs. Despite the fact he has an 82-59 records as a head coach, he always seems to find a way to tank his own teams.

8 ) Rick Neuheisel

You’ve got to love a guy who is both and cheat and a loser. His 87-59 career record hides the fact that he’s only coached six winning season in 12 as ahead coach. Couple that with the following laundry list, and it is a wonder this guy got three jobs.

  • After the 1997 season, the Colorado Buffaloes were forced to forfeit their five wins due to having played an ineligible player
  • Before Neuheisel coached his first game for the Washington Huskies in 1999, he had already violated NCAA recruiting rules by visiting high school players before the NCAA approved date to do so.
  • In 2008, The Seattle Times ran a series of articles which accused Neuheisel and Washington athletic director Barbara Hedges of overlooking numerous discipline problems–including outright criminal behavior–during the 2000 season.  These allegations included safety Curtis Williams being allowed to play despite being issued an outstanding arrest warrant for assaulting his wife,  linebacker Jeremiah Pharms being under investigation for robbing and shooting a drug dealer after police found his fingerprints at the scene, and tight end  Jerramy Stevens being under investigation for rape.  Also, when Stevens later crashed his truck into a retirement home, Neuheisel only suspended him for half a game.

7) Dusty Baker

OK, there’s two ways to describe what an idiot Dusty Baker is.  There is the math-based approach, which in baseball invariably means a big dose of that Bill James’ Sabermetrics used for telling us the ways that a baseball team will score the most runs. The  theory of operation behind Sabermetrics is that team who get more base-runners score more runs. It is all really pretty logical when you think about it. Dusty Baker has refused to accept this.

The other way to look at is with simple common sense since this is a simple concept to grasp; more base runners equals more runs. The speed of the runner isn’t terribly important; it’s just more of a bonus, largely because there are all kinds of ways base-runners can score without the need for speed. Baker rejects this; his belief is that slower runners “just clog up the basepaths.” This  is why we are still waiting for that Dusty Baker-led world Series winning team.

6) Norv Turner

Picture a team that is consistently over-penalized, turnover laden, plays terrible fundamental football, and yet still piles up statistics.  Chances are that team is coached by Norv Turner.  Norv Turner has the worst winning percentage of any NFL coach whose career lasted at least 200 games. His career record of 107-113-1 indicative of his poor game management skills.  But, the Chargers just won’t fire him.

5) Buddy Bell

Buddy Bell had three different three-year stints as a manager with three different teams. He only ever had a winning season (82-80)  in 2000 with Colorado. Bell  posted identical .399 winning percentages in  Detroit and Kansas City.  This helps to explain how in nine major league seasons as a manager Bell finished in last place  six times. In all fairness, Bell was a great player; he was a five-time All-Star and won six Gold Gloves.

4) P. J. Carlesimo

Carlesimo may be the least-liked guy on this list. His authoritarian, dictatorial style which was punctuated by screaming at people constantly was far more suited to the college ranks where coaches have all the power. Once he got to the NBA, it was just a matter of time before  somebody beat the crap out of him.  While that never happened per se, Carlesimo will be more remembered for his having been nearly-strangled by Latrell Sprewell than his career coaching record of 204-296.

3) Isiah Thomas

For the sake of fairness, Isiah Thomas is one of the greatest NBA players ever, and a Hall-of-Famer.  To this day, the mention of his name to a Knicks fan may get you any reaction from violent nausea on their part to getting you punched in the face.

The fact that Thomas coached an under-performing Pacers club to a first-round play-off exit in 2003 wasn’t enough of a warning sign for the Knicks. Later that year, New York brought in Thomas as President of Basketball Operations which ultimately led to his performing the coach and general manager duties. The pinnacle of the Thomas regime was his taking the Knicks to the highest payroll in the league while having the second-worst record and his dooming the future of the franchise by trading for Eddy Curry with what turned out to be seven future draft picks, including two lottery picks in talent-rich drafts. As far as the coaching was concerned, Thomas went 56-108 while at the helm of the Knicks.

2) Rich Kotite

What can be said about Rich “Decline the Penalty and Punt” Kotite that isn’t summed up in his nickname? Thanks to the fact that I like to watch both the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets, I had front-row seats for watching who was easily the worst coach in any sport in the last 30 years. It simply is not possible to make a list of horrible coaches that doesn’t include this butt-loaf.

The early successes with the Eagles were largely due to the team punishing defense, not the offensive genius Kotite was supposed to be.  Kotite was fired in Philadelphia in 1994 after going 40-56 in four seasons.  The Jets years were brutal; in two seasons Kotite went 4-28.  He stepped down after his second season with the Jets and he never returned to coaching again.

1) Gene Mauch

Nobody seems to learn the lesson; safety regulations exist for a reason. Somebody somewhere somewhat smarter than you already knew that you shouldn’t stand on the top rung of the ladder.  That’s why there is usually a sign or a label; some sort of warning that what you are about to do is a bad idea.

Gene Mauch should have come with just such a label. Clearly, the other signs were not visible enough…the collapse of the 1964 Phillies, the malaise that was the Montreal Expos in the early 70′s, and the Angels’ playoff choke-jobs in the 80′s…Mauch kept a level of respect in baseball that he kept getting hired even after just having been fired for complete ineptitude.

- Dubsism is a proud member of the Sports Blog Movement

What Your Team Needs To Do With It’s 2012 NFL Draft Pick

Now that we are finally past the Super Bowl, it is time to address the needs of your team heading into the NFL Draft. Everybody has a “mock draft or a “big draft board,” and we are no different…well, except we here at Dubsism are not interested in being the next Mel Kiper; we are more interested in making your team better rather than listening to ourselves blather on or getting some face time four our increasingly-odd pompadour.

In other words, we wholeheartedly reject the “Mel Kiper theory” which states you always draft the best player available. Sometimes, you are better off making a move to help your team. Be advised that as you peruse this list, “The Kiper Theory” is based on an aggregate of several mock drafts and Kiper’s own board. Then, we will give you the best available player according to the Dubsism Big Board. After that, we will give you the straight dope on what we believe your team really needs to do to best address its needs.  Be advised that we here at Dubsism really don’t care what Mel says, and we really don’t care that much about workouts, combines, and the silliness of those college “all-star ” games which are really just glorified scrimmages. Instead, we are all about realistic football solutions.

1) Indianapolis Colts

  • What the Kiper Theory Says:  Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
  • What Dubsism Believes: This is the biggest “no-brainer” in this draft. The Manning era in Indianapolis is over, and this is the Colts’ best opportunity to turn the page. It’s time to release Manning, draft Luck, and build for the future.

2) St. Louis Rams

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
  • What Dubsism Believes: There’s two ways to look at this pick. It’s never a bad investment to get a blue-chip lineman to protect your $50 million quarterback. But, with the addition of a honest-to-goodness deep threat at receiver, the Rams offense suddenly gets legitimate. The decision is to take Kalil with this pick or trade down and take Justin Blackmon or Alshon Jeffery a few picks later.

3) Minnesota Vikings

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
  • What Dubsism Believes: If Matt Kalil is still on the board at #3, the Vikings have to take him. They don’t need a quarterback or a running back; they need a way to keep quarterbacks and running backs from becoming lunch meat. If Kalil is already off the board, the Vikes need to seriously look at Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa. We have Riley as #6 overall pick; The Kiper conglomerate has him at #8. Trading down would be a good move, but if they can’t get any takers they need to just bite the bullet and get the best lineman on the board.

4) Cleveland Browns 

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
  • What Dubsism Believes:  There’s a good chance Robert Griffin III is still on the board here; and I think we all know the Colt McCoy experiment is over.  Either trade up to make sure you get him as there’s a gap down to the next available quarterback, or trade down and address other needs. We also don’t buy the “slow” rap getting hung on Alshon Jeffery. This guy is going to be a dominant receiver in this league, but he won’t help the Browns until they get a quarterback.

5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
  • What Dubsism Believes: The Bucs can’t go wrong with either of these picks. Josh Freeman needs weapons to work with to make the Tampa offense more than na automated 3-and-out machine.

6) Washington Redskins

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
  • What Dubsism Believes: This is the first opportunity we have to be dismissive of all the “Where will Peyton Manning go?” scenarios. We do so because it is the considered opinion of the staff here at Dubsism that Manning is not going to play again. Therefore, we are discounting the effect of his presence from our projections. The Redskins take Claiborne with this pick.

7) Jacksonville Jaguars

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
  • What Dubsism Believes: We can’t see the Jaguars taking a wide receiver here. They are unsure of their young quarterback who is in desperate need of protection. The only thing they have is a running game, and a lineman helps that too. They take Riley Reiff if he is still available.

8 or 9) Carolina Panthers (coin flip to be determined at the NFL Combines)

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
  • What Dubsism Believes: Look for the Panthers to invest in defense, particularly in big D-lineman like Coples to get after the Brees and Ryans the Panthers get to face in the NFC South

8 or 9) Miami Dolphins (coin flip to be determined at the NFL Combines)

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Michael Brockers, DE, LSU
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Devon Still, DT, Penn State
  • What Dubsism Believes: The Dolphins just hired an offensive coordinator as head coach, but there’s a void of offensive talent at this spot in the draft.  Couple that with the fact new head coach Joe Philbin said he wants to convert his defense to a 4-3.  The Dolphins will take Brockers at this spot since they need a pass-rusher to book-end with Cameron Wake.

10) Buffalo Bills

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State
  • What Dubsism Believes: Head Coach Chan Gailey has recently been on the record about his team’s inability to get to the quarterback, and it’s easy to understand why. No one on the team finished with more than 5.5 sacks on the year.  Melvin Ingram is currently the top pass-rusher available at this spot in the wake of his dominant Senior Bowl practices, and the “buyer beware” attitude toward Quinton Coples if he is still around.

11 or 12) Kansas City Chiefs (coin flip to be determined at the NFL Combines)

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
  • What Dubsism Believes: Martin meets a bigger need as the Chiefs offensive line might as well be the Maginot Line.

11 or 12) Seattle Seahawks: (coin flip to be determined at the NFL Combines)

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
  • What Dubsism Believes: Nothing this team does matters unless it gets a quarterback or offensive lineman to aid the only weapon they have in Marshawn Lynch.  They are fools if they don’t trade this pick to get something they need.

13) Arizona Cardinals

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Devon Still, DT, Penn State
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
  • What Dubsism Believes: The Cardinals thought they shored up their inside linebacker problems when they signed Stewart Bradley to a 5-year, $25 million contract with $10 million guaranteed this offseason. Since then, Bradley has barely played, so he could be a cap casualty this offseason. Arizona’s search for a worthy player to pair with Daryl Washington likely ends here with Luke Kuechly.

14) Dallas Cowboys

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: David DeCastro, G, Stanford
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: David DeCastro, G, Stanford
  • What Dubsism Believes: There nothing quite like when all the stars align, and in the Lone Star state. The Cowboys have massive challenges on the interior of the offensive line. Derrick Dockery is a free agent after missing most of 2011 with a knee injury. Phil Costa flat out sucks. The best thing you can say about  Montrae Holland is he isn’t Costa.  Meanwhile, DeCastro is one of the top interior linemen prospects to come along in years, and he’s the highest-ranked O-Line prospect on the board at this point.

15) Philadelphia Eagles

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
  • What Dubsism Believes: DeSean Jackson is one his way out of the City of Brotherly Love, and he has nobody to blame for that but himself; he dropped too many passes and dogged it most of the time. But he had a strong finish to the 2011 season, which prompted Andy Reid to praise him during the Week 17 post-game press conference.  Of course, that’s all puffery for a tag-and-trade scheme; Jackson is as gone as yesterday’s lunch.  Welcome to the Kendall Wright era in Philadelphia.

16) New York Jets

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Illinois
  • What Dubsism Believes: The Jets need to improve their pass rush so Rex Ryan doesn’t have to call blitzes every single freaking down. This situation got even more desperate when OLB Bryan Thomas tore his Achilles tendon. Mercilus makes a perfect fit for the Jets’ needs.

17) Cincinnati Bengals (pick from Oakland Raiders)

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
  • What Dubsism Believes: On one hand, I can’t understand why anybody thinks Alshon Jeffery will still be on the board at this pick. The whole world is looking for the next “Calvin Johnson,” and Jeffery looks every bit the part.  God help NFL secondaries should they have to face an A.J. Green/Jeffery tandem. On the other hand, I know why Dre Kirkpatrick will still be available here; his arrest for marijuana possession. I really couldn’t care less about that, but I do wonder about the brain capacity of a guy getting busted who knows he’s going to have to pee in a cup next month.  Some teams will remove Kirkpatrick from their board completely, but I think we all know the Bengals have a far more “tolerant” view of criminal behavior. This is why they are the only NFL team which has a bail bondsman on staff.  The bottom line is that cornerback is a blazing need for the Bengals. Nate Clements turns 32 in December, has been inconsistent, and is a free agent after 2012. To literally and injury to insult, Leon Hall won’t be ready to play next season because of his torn Achilles tendon. Kirkpatrick becomes a Bengal.

18) San Diego Chargers

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
  • What Dubsism Believes: The Chargers have a desperate need at safety; so much so they turned to the walking organ bank known as Bob Sanders last season with predictable results.  This is why you can expect the Chargers to make a slight reach for Alabama safety Mark Barron.

19) Chicago Bears

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Zach Brown, ILB, North Carolina
  • What Dubsism Believes: The Bears are totally telegraphing this pick, and the address they are sending to is only two hours east of Soldier Field. Jay Cutler was at his best when he had a big-time target in Brandon Marshall. Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd has some of the biggest potential of any player on the board, and the Bears have told the whole would they will target a wide receiver this offseason.

20) Tennessee Titans

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
  • What Dubsism Believes: Mike Munchak is the new head coach of the Titans. Mike Munchak has criticized the play of his offensive line. Mike Munchak is also a Hall-of-Fame offensive lineman. Mike Munchak drafts Mike Adams.

21) Cincinnati Bengals

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
  • What Dubsism Believes: The Bengals have this goofy philosophy in which they target certain positions to be drafted per round. The Bengals have one the best best run blocking offensive lines in all of the NFL. Sadly, this is like putting a hubcap on a tractor because that great bunch of road-graders has nobody worthy of clearing a path for. Cedric Benson is incredibly mediocre, and he’ll be a 29-year-old free agent in March anyway. This is why we are convinced the Bengals will use this pick to take either Chris Polk, RB, Washington or Lamar Miller, RB, Miami (FL).
22) Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta Falcons)
  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Jeral Worthy, DT, Michigan State
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
  • What Dubsism Believes: This is the wild-card pick of the entire first round. If the Browns make a deal to move up to get Robert Griffin III, there’s no telling who will own this pick by the time it is made. If the Browns retain this pick, there’s no telling what they will do with it; they will have some kinky options at this point.  OT Mike Adams could be available as a bookend to Joe Thomas. Nick Perry will likely be around to play pass-rush counterpart to Jabaal Sheard.  Alfonzo Dennard might still be available to give the Browns a corner to tandem with Joe Haden. At this point, there might even be wild options like Alshon Jeffery, Fletcher Cox, or Zach Brown.  Not to belabor the obvious, but this is why we dismissed the whole “Manning” thing in the first place…too many variables.

23) Detroit Lions

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Zach Brown, ILB, North Carolina
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
  • What Dubsism Believes: The Lions have one big-time need…a left tackle to protect Matt Stafford. They get even more desperate considering eff Backus will be a free agent in March. They either need to trade up to get one of the guys who won’t be around at this pick, or trade down and live with one of the second-round guys.

24) Pittsburgh Steelers

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
  • What Dubsism Believes: The Steelers have a long tradition of taking the usually take the top player on the board, and since they love defense, it is hard to imagine Quinton Coples wouldn’t be on their list. Trouble is he likely won’t be available at this point.  USC DE Nick Perry looks like the most likely suspect at this point.

25) Denver Broncos

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Mark Barron, S, Alabama
  • What Dubsism Believes: Brodrick Bunkley had a great year as a run-stuffer, but the Broncos don’t really have anything next to him. As long as the Broncos are going to rely on the run game, they need more help on the offensive line. This is where they trade down and stock up on big guys up front, with the outside possibility they take Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin who likely will still be available.

26) Houston Texans

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State
  • What Dubsism Believes: Aside from Arian Foster, the main cylinders in the engine that is the Texans offense are showing some wear. This is why the Texans want to draft a receiver in the first round, but at this point they may be praying Alshon Jeffery slips down this far, or that the Bears don’t reach on Michael Floyd. An alternative to trading up or down may be to take Brandon Weeden as a QB of the future, or to take Wisconsin C Peter Konz (if he is still available) as an insurance policy against losing C Chris Myers in free-agency.

27) New England Patriots (from New Orleans Saints)

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Illinois
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Nick Perry, DE, USC
  • What Dubsism Believes: Both Mercilus and Perry would be good fits with the Patriots. They can both play defensive end in the 4-3 and rush linebacker 3-4, filling both needs in those schemes. They also are of the size Bill Belichick likes his rush linebackers to be.  If neither of these guys is available, don’t be shocked to see the Patriots either take Alabama ILB Dont’a Hightower or trade this pick.

28) Green Bay Packers

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Mark Barron, S, Alabama
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Michael Brockers, DE, LSU
  • What Dubsism Believes: No matter what, it is obvious the Packers need to steer this pick toward defense. They have no real offensive needs other than a running back, but it’s clear this team needs major help on the defensive side of the ball. The Packers a linebacker to go with Clay Matthews because the rest of the Packer linebacker corps were  ineffective. Either way, the Packers would love to see USC DE Nick Perry slip this far, but if that doesn’t happen expect them to grab Brockers (if available)or Alabama ILB Dont’a Hightower.

29) Baltimore Ravens

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami (FL)
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Chris Polk, RB, Washington
  • What Dubsism Believes: There’s no way the Ravens take a running back in the first round.  In news that should surprise no one, the Ravens have made it clear RB Ray Rice is not hitting the free agent market this off-season either through a long-term extension or the dreaded franchise tag. Not to mention, General Manager Ozzie Newsome has made it known he would like to get Ray Lewis’ successor in this draft.  This si where “wild-card” Arizona State ILB Vontaze Burfict makes a lot of sense. We consider Burfict to be the best on-the-field inside linebacker in the draft, but his tendency to be a “head case” means a slide down through the first round is entirely possible. If he drops this far, he’s a perfect fit attitude-wise for the Ravens defense, he can play next to Lewis right away, and Ozzie Newsome has a track record of taking on talented head cases.

30) San Francisco 49ers

  • What the Kiper Theory Says:  Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
  • What Dubsism Believes: Here’s an interesting pick. The 49ers aren’t likely to take another offensive lineman in the first round, and we don’t think Michael Floyd will be around at this pick. Not to mention, Floyd and his off-field DUI issues don’t seem like a good fit on a Jim Harbaugh which already has primadonnas in Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. Despite that, they do need help at wide receiver, and a running back to spell the impending end of the Frank Gore era wouldn’t be a bad idea either. If for some reason Alshon Jeffery slides this far, he doesn’t get past San Francisco. Baylor WR Kendall is another guy whose stock is fluctuating already, so he becomes another possiblity. Otherwise, trading down to the early-to-mid 2nd round could mean extra picks to take Georgia Tech WR Stephen Hill and our sleeper pick of the draft, Utah State RB Robert Turbin.

31) New England Patriots

  • What the Kiper Theory Says:  Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Andre Branch, OLB, Clemson
  • What Dubsism Believes: We are willing to bet the Patriots already grabbed their linebacker with the pick they got from the Saints. Their other huge need on defense is at corner, especially since they have ideas about using either Ras-I Dowling or Devin McCourty at safety, which may become a neccesity considering their weakness at the position and the lack of big-time safeties in this draft. This is why we think  Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard proves too hard to pass up at this pick.

32) New York Giants

  • What the Kiper Theory Says: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
  • What The Dubsism Big Board Says: Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State
  • What Dubsism Believes: Turbin is our sleeper pick of the draft. We think this guy is rated as a 4th-round pick simply because he comes from the backwater of college football and he doesn’t have eye-popping workout numbers. We think this guy has every shot to be another Ray Rice.  I’m not sure you need to grab this guy at this pick, but somebody else out there is going to get wise to this guy between now and draft day.

- Dubsism is a proud member of the Sports Blog Movement

A Dubsism Breakdown of the Alleged Cris Carter Hall of Fame Snub

The beauty of any list, especially in the world of sports, is that they are virtually guaranteed to start a debate. In this case, when the NFL announced the list of it’s Hall of Fame inductees for 2012, our fellow Sports Blog Movement member Mike Patton took it upon himself to take issue with the exclusion of Cris Carter.

The newest members of the NFL Hall of Fame have been selected. The newest members are RB Curtis Martin, defensive end Chris Doleman, defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, offensive tackle Willie Roaf, center Dermontti Dawson, and senior selection Jack Butler. Most would not have a problem with this class at all. In fact, most would say that it’s about time that Dermontti Dawson got in and that Curtis Martin deserved it for the work that he put in, but one person is missing from this class. His name is Cris Carter.

Cris Carter was one of the best receivers of his time. He amassed 1,101 receptions and 130 touchdowns during his playing career with the Eagles, Vikings and Dolphins from 1987-2002. The numbers he put up at wide receiver were second only to Jerry Rice. But Carter was not only an excellent wide receiver; he was a consummate professional and carried himself with class. Sure, he had his moments where he angered people and ruffled a few feathers, but that is no reason for him to not be included in the Hall of Fame.

I’ve worked a lot with Mike on the Sports Blog Movement, and I respect his opinions, but I disagree with him on this point.  The main assertions of Patton’ s argument break down as follows:

  • “Cris Carter was one of the best receivers of his time”
  • Cris Carter didn’t get inducted because the press didn’t like him
  • The Hall-of-Fame voting process is broken

As I am prone to do with these breakdowns, let’s take those three points one-at-a-time.

1) “Cris Carter was one of the best receivers of his time”

Sorry, Mike, Carter was very good, but I always considered him to be over-rated.  If you look at the 16 seasons of Cris Carter’s career, he’s never barely more than a role player in half of them.  This means the years we should look at for Carter’s consideration are from 1993 to 1999. Granted, this is the span where he is the most impressive, racking up 8 Pro Bowl selections and two first-team All-selections. However in that time, he leads the league in receptions once, and finishes in the top 4 in 5 additional seasons. This is important to note because for all those receptions, he never ranks higher than 7th in any single season in receiving yards. He never ranks in the top 5 in receiving yards per game. At first glance, that suggests he built a career on a lot of meaningless small-yardage receptions.

So, why is this guy a three-time finalist for the Hall-of-Fame? Because he made a lot of those catches in the “red zone.” Carter led the league in receiving touchdowns three times between 1993 and 1999 and finished in the top 5 four additional times. Carter is on the Hall of Fame list because he’s one of the great “fantasy football” players of all time. For the first two-thirds of his career, you could count on Carter to be a non-factor outside the “red zone;” this is why former Philadelphia Eagle head coach said upon releasing him “all he does is catch touchdowns.” We’ll come back to this later.

For now, let’s look at the complete list of Hall of Fame Finalists. The entries in bold are the ones who were selected for induction in 2012. The finalists I would have voted for are noted in green.

  • Jack Butler (veterans committee)
  • Dick Stanfel (veterans committee)
  • Bill Parcells
  • Jerome Bettis
  • Tim Brown
  • Cris Carter
  • Dermontti Dawson
  • Edward DeBartolo, Jr.
  • Chris Doleman
  • Kevin Greene
  • Charles Haley
  • Cortez Kennedy
  • Curtis Martin
  • Andre Reed
  • Willie Roaf
  • Will Shields
  • Aeneas Williams

This leads to another debate launched in my mind by Patton’s argument for Carter’s induction.  There are three players on that list who in my view are more worthy of induction than Carter is.  We can compare Carter’s career numbers to Tim Brown’s; the difference being Brown is also one of the great punt returners of all time, being 3rd in career punt return touchdowns, 4th in career punt returns, and 5th in career punt return yards.

The only reason I wouldn’t have voted for Brown is because there’s a cap (another fact we will come back to later) and there’s no way I can’t vote for Will Shields. Shields, the longtime guard for the Kansas City Chiefs, never missed a game in 14 seasons and was selected to the Pro Bowl 12 times. If he doesn’t get in on the first ballot, the selection committee might as well just say guards can’t get in on their first try.

Then there’s the matter of Jerome Bettis. I will vote for a Rookie of the Year, six-time Pro-Bowl, and two-time first team All-Pro running back who had over 300 rushing attempts in a season five times, and who retired 5th all-time in career touches and career rushing yards over ANY wide receiver ANY day.

In all honesty, I will admit I have a bias against receivers. To me, they are tertiary players. What I mean by that is that for a reciever to be succesful, you need two other things. Primarily, you need an offensive line who can keep a quarterback on his feet long enough to throw the ball. Secondarily, you need a quarterback who can actually throw the ball. Without those two things, a receiver is as important as hubcaps on a tractor; there’s a reason why “fantasy football” is called “fantasy.”  In other words, the rule here at Dubsism is that the farther away from the ball you are at the snap, the less crucial you are.

For even more honesty, this rule exists because one of the primary staff members here at Dubsism spent his football career as an offensive guard. Patton makes an argument that Cortez Kennedy should have been left out in favor of Carter.

If I had a choice to take anyone out of this class, I would take Cortez Kennedy…Cortez had a great career and I mean my comments as no offense to him but in my opinion, he is not one of the best defensive linemen of all time. And his greatness does not outshine the greatness that is Cris Carter. He did affect games, but did he change the way the game was played like Carter did? No. Did he give people nightmares about him? Well, I can’t lie here. Kennedy did give a few teams nightmares. But in all his glory, Kennedy was not the player that Carter was.

I will admit comparing a receiver to a defensive tackle is like comparing an apple to a Dodge pick-up truck; the stats just don’t jibe. But let me tell you this; nothing affects an offensive game plan like a defensive tackle for whom you absolutely must account because there is no one player who can neutralize him. Generally, this “must-deal-with” guy is not a defensive lineman. A perfect current example is a healthy Troy Polamalu. There’s a ton of middle linebackers fit this mold; Dick Butkus, a young Ray Lewis, or today’s Patrick Willis.  Amongst the guys playing close to the line, there’s a bigger number of edge rushers in this category like Lawrence Taylor, Derrick Brooks, or for the old-school guys, Doug Atkins, than there are for the grunts in the middle of the line. There are very few defensive tackles who by themselves were such game-changers; Alex Karras, Alan Page, and more recently Warren Sapp. Cortez Kennedy was in that class as an 8-time Pro Bowler and 3-time All-Pro.

2) Cris Carter didn’t get inducted because the press didn’t like him

That is really the only conclusion I can come to from the following sentence.

I think that some of the voters are holding a grudge. And in this instance, it is clouding their judgment. There is no way that Carter should have been left out.

Obviously, I disagree with “no way Carter should have been left out.” But more importantly, this is the place to examine Carter’s legacy. Legacies are like a bathroom rug; you can launder them, but they always retain just a bit of whatever they’ve absorbed. In Carter’s case, this is where we are forced to remember Carter needing to enter the NFL via the supplemental draft as he was about to be kicked out of Ohio State for NCAA rules violations. Then as a Philadelphia Eagle, Carter was such a pain in the ass he was flat-out released after four seasons. Carter went for a few more seasons in Minnesota being a “problem child,” only softening his dislike of fans and media when he realized he was a potential Hall-of-Fame candidate and that he was going to need some public relations savvy to win that election.

That’s the key word in all of this; election…which is just a nice way of saying “popularity contest.” Never underestimate the power of popularity; it drives 90% of what happens in this country. If you’ve ever worked in a company when layoffs occurred, in every place that didn’t have a seniority-based system in place, it is not the under-performers who get shown the door first, it is the people nobody likes.

Elections work in exactly the inverse. The winners of elections are not always the most deserving; they are often the most liked. This years example is Hall-of-Fame example Curtis Martin. Martin had a great career, but it isn’t hard to figure out he will be getting a gold blazer in Canton this summer because the voters liked him more than they liked Carter, because despite what I’ve said to this point,  Carter’s career was in my opinion more worthy of induction than Martin’s.

The simple fact is that popularity wins elections, legacies affect popularity, and nobody likes assholes. Even worse than an asshole is the one that kisses yours just to get a vote.  But as I will demonstrate in the next section, that’s only one problem Cris Carter has.

3) The Hall-of-Fame voting process is broken

Here’s where Patton and I agree, but likely not for the same reasons.

The Hall of Fame voters need to get out of their own way…As far as the Hall of Fame process, I could not be sicker about it. This same process that made wide receiver Michael Irvin wait a few times has now made Carter wait some more. So, what I suggest is why stifle greatness? Why put a limit on the amount of people that can be elected at one time? If someone deserves to be in, then put them in. It’s just that simple to me.

All in all, there are some changes that need to be made. Maybe the fans or players need to be part of the voting process. I’m not saying that I know the answer to this issue, but for too many years people have been left out of the equation that is the Hall of Fame. And I’m tired of hearing about this happening every year. The Hall can’t get the process right, so maybe someone can step in and help them get it right by providing a better way to vote people in.

As I’ve already discussed, the current system is a simple popularity contest.  Like Patton, I don’t subscribe to this theory, but it is what we have. If I had a vote, here’s what my ballot would have looked like, ranked numerically bearing in mind only the top five get inducted and without the Veteran’s committee nominees.

  1. Willie Roaf
  2. Cortez Kennedy
  3. Dermontti Dawson
  4. Jerome Bettis
  5. Will Shields
  6. Tim Brown
  7. Chris Doleman
  8. Cris Carter
  9. Curtis Martin
  10. Andre Reed
  11. Kevin Greene
  12. Aeneas Williams
  13. Charles Haley
  14. Bill Parcells
  15. Edward DeBartolo, Jr.

Patton’s thoughts on this matter tend to lie with either with who gets a vote or not having a cap on inductees.  As far as who gets a vote, this becomes a tricky proposal, because one of Patton’s major problems with the current system is it’s tendency to be a popularity contest. But as I’ve already demonstrated, that is a condition inherent to all elections. Since it can’t be eliminated, the concept becomes how to mitigate it.  The best way to do that is to limit the voting to those who a) know the most about who is truly a great player, and b) those who have the least interest in the petty stuff which fuels popularity problems like those Carter has.  To me, that means the votes belong to the players; all current and former players who have a set amount of service time. Fans and writers are the reason Carter won’t get into Canton anytime soon; I am willing to bet the outcome would be different if this were a players-only vote.

This leaves the problem of limiting the ballot to five inductees. If I had the opportunity, I’d vote for ten nominees on that list. But the problem is that the next few years are going to have a lot of first-time eligibles, many of whom are getting in on their first ballot. This is really going to jam up Carter’s chances, because, there are a big number of  of players who will carry over into these elections from previous years. The players whom I think have a better than 50/50 chance to be inducted on their first ballot are noted in bold; those who are likely to get in within five years of being eligible are noted with an asterisk.

  • 2013:  Larry Allen, Morten Andersen, Priest Holmes, Steve McNair*, Jonathan Ogden*, Warren Sapp, Michael Strahan, Bryant Young*
  • 2014: Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison
  • 2015:  Isaac Bruce, Edgerrin James*, Walter Jones, Ty Law, Kevin Mawae*, Orlando Pace, Junior Seau, Kurt Warner*
  • 2016:  Brett Favre, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Peyton Manning (if he doesn’t play again)

Under the current setup, Carter’s got no chance in 2013, and almost no chance in 2015. If Carter doesn’t get in with the weak class of 2014, this sets up 2016 as the year which will prove my theory about popularity contests.  Favre is a lock even though his career ended on a sour note, and if Manning retires before the new league year, he’s in right alongside Favre.

This leaves Carter in with two other guys who undoubtedly will have  “popularity contest”  problems; first-timers Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. The debates have already started over both of them, and they both have more impressive career stats than Carter.  All three leveled some major accomplishments on the field, but all three wore out their welcomes in various places and were at some point considered more trouble than they were worth.  In other words, it wouldn’t be surprising if all three were inducted in 2016; it wouldn’t be surprising if none of them gets in.

What’s a solution to this mess? Patton likes fan voting, which to me will only make the “popularity” issues worse. I like players doing the voting, which will alienate the fans.

The Dubsism suggestion:

  • All players who meet the eligibility requirements get a one-time “in or out” vote, players who get “yes” votes on two-thirds of the ballots are inducted
  • Voting body consists of all current and former players with a set amount of service time, a select group of writers and the fans at-large. Votes are weighted; Players worth 67%, writers worth 16.5%, fans worth 16.5%.
  • Once voted “out,” a Veterans committee can put in one nominee per year exclusive of those voted in
  • All non-players (coaches, owners, etc…) are elected by a separate committee, which can induct one person independent of other committees or votes
  • Re-examine the standards for eligibility for induction given the changes in the game

No matter what, that last point is the key. The game has changed in the past thirty years, but we are determining greatness based on some old standards. Just because Cris Carter is 4th all-time in career receptions doesn’t make him the 4th best receiver of all-time; it means he played in a era when the forward pass was used far more than in previous eras.

No matter how you construct them, elections will always have an element of “popularity” built into them. But until we re-examine what greatness really is, we are going to keep making more Cris Carters.

The Dubsism All-Time Offensive Line Team

The big guys never get any love.  Even though the NFL released it’s list of Hall of Fame inductees for 2012 this weekend, it put us here at Dubsism in mind that no matter what you do with the Hall of Fame, there’s a serious amount of guys who even though they may be in the Hall of Fame, they get overlooked because they weren’t “glory” players.  Everybody loves to make lists about who they think are the greatest quarterbacks, greatest running backs, greatest “whatever skill guys” you would want to list.  To fill the gap, we’ve created just such a list for the big guys up front.

In doing so, our crack research staff here at Dubsism encountered one small problem. In order to be fair to the “old school guys;” those from the era when the O-line meant the  “Front Seven;” when the “Four Horsemen” were led by the “Seven Mules,”  we had to stick with an “old school” format. This means the following teams you will see are broken down by the “old school” definition of  who was an ” offensive lineman;” two Tackles, two Guards, two Ends, and a Center.

Pete Pihos: Set the standard for end play in the modern era.

In order to make this the most complete list we could, we had to create a standard for the ends. The was called the “Pihos” standard; so named for Philadelphia Eagle Hall of Fame End Pete Pihos.  Pihos changed the way ends were used in the NFL; no longer were ends seen merely as “extra tackles.”  If there was a current player who played like Pihos, the closest pick would be Rob Gronkowski. Pete Pihos allowed for the  emergence of the tight end as a serious offensive weapon.

Former NFL head coach George Allen offered the best description of Pihos:

“He was no giant, but he was big enough. He was no sprinter, but he was fast enough. He was extremely tough and durable and determined, and he seemed to me an exceptionally smart player. He was the kind of player coaches like me wanted to captain their clubs.”

Pete Pihos’ name  is not amongst the ends on this list; his role is far too important for mere lists.  Without him, the NFL would have never seen some of the talent it has produced at tight end since.

Beside, its not like Bill Belichick used two tight ends  (Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski) to get into the Super Bowl.

Having said that…here’s the list.

First Team:

Left End: John Mackey

John Mackey was only the second player who performed strictly as a tight end to become a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The 6-2, 224-pound Syracuse University star joined the Baltimore Colts as a No. 2 draft pick in 1963 and quickly established himself as a premier performer at his position.

He played nine seasons with the Colts and then finished his 10-year career with the San Diego Chargers in 1972. Mackey was not like other tight ends of his day, who were typically thought of as just another tackle on the line of scrimmage. John added another dimension to the position. His breakaway speed made him a legitimate long-distance threat. In 1966 for instance, six of his nine touchdown receptions came on plays of 51, 57, 64, 79, 83 and 89 yards.

Even though leg and knee injuries combined to cut short his career, he was a durable performer who missed only one game in 10 years. Mackey started every game as a rookie and then became the only first-year star to be picked for that year’s Pro Bowl. He also played in four other Pro Bowls during the 1960s. For three straight years in 1966, 1967 and 1968, he was the NFL’s all-league tight end.

In 10 seasons, the one-time NFL Players Association president caught 331 passes for 5,236 yards and 38 touchdowns. As a rookie, he caught 35 passes for 726 yards and a career high 20.7-yard average. That year, the Colts also utilized his speed as a kickoff return specialist and he averaged 30.1 yards on nine returns. Perhaps his most famous single play came in Super Bowl V when he grabbed a deflected pass from Johnny Unitas that produced a 75-yard touchdown, a Super Bowl record at the time. {1}

Left Tackle: Jim Parker

From the moment Jim Parker joined the 1957 Baltimore Colts as their first-round draft pick, he was considered a cinch for pro football stardom. Jim had been a two-way tackle, an All-America and the Outland Award winner as the nation’s top lineman at Ohio State.

Although his college coach thought his best shot in the pros would be on defense, Colts’ coach Weeb Ewbank tabbed Jim as an offensive lineman. The Colts at the time were just evolving as an National Football League power and the premier passer in the game, Johnny Unitas, was the guy who made the Baltimore attack click.

Parker had little experience in pass blocking, but Ewbank was sure Parker could do the job. “It didn’t take me long to learn the one big rule,” Parker remembered. “’Just keep them away from John,’ Coach Ewbank told me at my first practice. ‘You can be the most unpopular man on the team if the quarterback gets hurt.’ I couldn’t forget that!” And Parker didn’t forget.

The fact that he was assigned to protect such a famous teammate may explain why Parker seemed to attract more publicity than is usually accorded to offensive linemen. Another reason is that he was such an exceptional craftsman. In an out-of-the-ordinary twist, Jim divided his career almost evenly between left tackle and left guard.

Each job had its distinct set of responsibilities. Even the opponents were different. As a tackle, he went head-to-head against the faster, more agile defensive ends. At guard, his daily foes were the bigger and stronger defensive tackles. Parker handled both positions in all-pro fashion. At left tackle he earned All-Pro honors four straight times from 1958 to 1961.

In the middle of the 1962 season he was moved to left guard and at year’s end was named All-Pro at both tackle and guard. He then followed up with three straight seasons of earning All-Pro accolades at guard (1963 to 1965). During this period Parker played in eight consecutive Pro Bowls. {1}

Left Guard: Bruce Matthews

The Houston Oilers selected offensive lineman Bruce Matthews with the 9th pick overall in the 1983 National Football League Draft.  The move paid huge dividends for the franchise for the next 19 seasons.

When Matthews retired as a member of the Tennessee Titans following the 2001 season, no full-time positional player in NFL history had competed in more games (296) than the former USC All-America.  In fact, he played so long that his former Trojan teammate, Jeff Fisher, became his NFL coach. A three-time Offensive Lineman of the Year, Matthews started 292 of his 296 games played in the regular season and started all 15 playoff games in which he played.

Matthews began his pro career as a guard and earned a starting role on the team’s offensive line in just his second game.  Incredibly valuable to the team’s offense, Matthews eventually played every position along the Oilers/Titans offensive line during his long career.  He made his most starts at guard (99 on the left side, and 67 as the right guard) and center (87).  He also started 22 games as the team’s right tackle and 17 at left tackle.

The Oilers suffered through some dismal seasons early in Matthews’ career that included back-to-back 2-14 records during his first two NFL seasons.  The team steadily improved with Matthews helping solidify the offense and the Oilers reached the playoffs by 1987.  It marked the first of seven straight postseason trips for Matthews and the Oilers.  Two more playoff seasons came after the team relocated to Tennessee.  In 1999, the Titans were crowned AFC champions and advanced to Super Bowl XXXIV where they narrowly lost to the St. Louis Rams.
As the team’s fortunes improved, the accolades came in great numbers for Matthews. Beginning in 1988 and continuing through his final year, he was selected to the Pro Bowl each and every season.  His 14 consecutive Pro Bowls (9 at guard, 5 at center) tied Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen for the most ever.

Matthews was also named first-team All-Pro nine times (1988-1993, 1998-2000) and All-AFC 12 seasons (1988-1993, 1995-2000).  He was selected as a guard on the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s. {1}

Center: Mick Tingelhoff

It is one of the biggest travesties that Mick Tinglehoff is not in the Hall of Fame. Tingelhoff is the “Rodney Dangerfield” of offensive linemen; he just doesn’t get any respect, and it is completely ridiculous that he doesn’t.  Tinglehoff was one of ten players to have played in all four Vikings Super Bowl appearances in the 1970s, and is generally considered the best center of his era.  When he retired, he had played in the 2nd most consecutive games (240) in NFL history  – behind only teammate Jim Marshall (270). He was inducted into the Vikings’ Ring of Honor in 2001 and the team has retired his #53 jersey. He is also a member of the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame but for some reason has not yet been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

After graduating from Nebraska, Tingelhoff entered the 1962 NFL Draft, but was not drafted and signed with the Minnesota Vikings as a free agent in 1962.  He became their starting center during his rookie season and held that spot until he retired in 1978.  In 1964, Tinglehoff began a streak five straight AP First Team All-Pro selections and six straight Pro Bowl appearances.  In 1967, Tinglehoff was named First Team All-Pro by Newspaper Enterprise Association and UPI as well as Second Team All-Pro by the AP. In 1969, he was named the NFL’s Top Offensive Lineman of the Year by the 1,000-Yard Club.  In 1970, he was named First Team All-Pro by both the PFWA and Pro Football Weekly.  He was also named Second Team All-Pro by Newspaper Enterprise Association.  He was named First Team All-NFC for that season by the AP.

And he’s still not in the Hall of Fame.

Right Guard: John Hannah

John Hannah, a 6-2, 265-pound guard from Alabama, was the first round pick of the New England Patriots and the fourth player selected in the 1973 National Football League Draft. He was an eight-letterman star in football, track and wrestling and a two-time grid All-America at Alabama.

By starting his first 13 games before a freak leg injury forced him out of the final game of his rookie season, Hannah dispelled any concerns the Patriots might have had about his ability to adjust from the straight-ahead blocking of the college wishbone offenses to the drop-back blocking and pulling required of guards in the pros.

In the next 12 years, Hannah became widely recognized as the premier guard of pro football. He was named All-Pro 10 straight years from 1976 through 1985. He won the NFL Players Association’s Offensive Lineman of the Year award four straight years from 1978 through 1981. Hannah was named to nine Pro Bowls but missed the game following the 1983 season because of an injury.

In spite of the constant contact his body had to absorb, Hannah missed only five games because of injuries of a possible 191 in his 13-season career. He also missed three games due to a contract dispute at the start of the 1977 season. Hannah clearly was the mainstay of an excellent offensive line that helped to power the Patriots to some of their finest years.

During his career, New England enjoyed seven winning seasons and a 100-91-0 cumulative record. Hannah was given a large share of the credit when the Patriots rushed for a then-record 3,165 yards in 1978. John finished his career after the 1985 season on a high note. His final campaign had produced an AFC championship and Super Bowl XX appearance for the Patriots, and All-Pro honors and a Pro Bowl invitation for himself. {1}

Right Tackle: Dan Dierdorf

Dan Dierdorf excelled as an offensive lineman for 13 seasons from 1971 through 1983. He seemed destined for stardom from the moment he joined the St. Louis Cardinals as a second-round choice and the 43rd player selected in the 1971 draft.

Dierdorf, who had been a consensus All-America at Michigan in 1970, possessed size, speed, quickness, discipline, intelligence and consistency, all necessary attributes for an outstanding lineman. The 6-3, 275-pounder from Canton, Ohio, where he was born on June 29, 1949, played both guard and tackle his first two seasons before settling down as the permanent right tackle in his third season. Dierdorf, who was equally effective as a blocker on both running and passing plays, was the ring-leader of the line that permitted the fewest sacks in the NFC for five straight years in the mid-1970s. In 1975, the Cardinals set a then-record by allowing only eight sacks in 14 games.

He proved his durability by playing in every game until a broken jaw forced him out of two games in his seventh season in 1977. In 1979, he did miss 14 of 16 games because of a dislocated left knee. However, he bounced back strongly in 1980 with another all-pro caliber season. In 1982, Dierdorf unselfishly responded to a personnel emergency on the offensive line by agreeing to move to center. He not only made a smooth adjustment to the new position but he proved to be especially effective blocking against the bigger nose tackles of the new 3-4 defensive alignments he had to face.

Dierdorf was named All-Pro five seasons – from 1975 to 1978 and again in 1980. He was elected to six Pro Bowl games, missing only once from 1974 through 1980. The NFL Players Association picked him as the best overall blocker in the NFL three straight years from 1976 to 1978. {1}

Right Tackle/Place Kicker: Lou “The Toe” Groza*

When Lou Groza retired after the 1967 season, it was truly the end of an unforgettable era for the Cleveland Browns. The last remaining member of the original 1946 Browns team, the big offensive tackle and placekicking artist played 21 years, more than any other pro player up to that time.

Many fans remember Groza primarily as a kicker, the first specialist who became so proficient that the Browns started thinking of making field goals, instead of touchdowns, when the going was rough and time was running short. Lou, who was one of pro football’s finest offensive tackles, particularly in the middle years of his long tenure, preferred to think of himself first as a tackle who just happened to be the Browns’ field-goal kicker because he “had the talent.”

Groza was named first- or second-team all-league eight times during his career. In 1954, he was The Sporting News’ NFL Player of the Year. Nine times he was named to the Pro Bowl. Six times he was a starting tackle. In 1946, 33-man rosters prevented any team from carrying a specialist, but Groza was almost that, doing all of the kicking and playing on the scrimmage line only occasionally.

Late in his second season, Lou made “the first team” and he didn’t give up that cherished status until 1959. He sat out the entire 1960 season with a back injury and then returned in 1961 at the age of 37 for seven more campaigns as a kicker only.

In 21 years, “The Toe,” as he quickly became known, tallied 1,608 points and for years ranked as the all-time top scorer. His most dramatic kick came in the 1950 National Football League Championship Game, when his 16-yard field goal in the final seconds gave the Browns a 30-28 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. {1}

Right End: Tony Gonzalez

Tony Gonzalez is the only member of this list who is still active in the. He played college football for the University of California where he was an All-American.  Since being drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the 1997 NFL Draft, Gonzalez has become a twelve-time Pro Bowl selection.

He currently holds the NFL records for most receptions by a tight end in a single season (102), most receptions by a tight end in a career (1,149), career touchdowns by a tight end (95), and reception yards for a tight end (13,339).

Second Team:

Left End: Kellen Winslow

Kellen Winslow, a 6-5, 250-pound tight end played for the San Diego Chargers from 1979 to 1987. To get the draft rights to the All-America from the University of Missouri, the Chargers engineered a draft-day trade with the Cleveland Browns. The Chargers then made Winslow their first-round pick and the 13th player selected overall choice in the 1979 draft.

Winslow went on to play in five Pro Bowls and was the co-Player of the Game in the 1982 game. Kellen got off to a quick start as a rookie with 25 catches before being sidelined by a knee injury in the seventh game. He returned in 1980 with career-high 89 receptions for 1,290 yards. He had 88 catches both in 1981 and 1983 and 319 in a four-year period from 1980 to 1983.

A second-knee injury forced him to miss 17 games in 1984 and 1985. But he returned to his old form late in 1985 and 1986 and he earned his fifth Pro Bowl berth following the 1987 season after a four-year absence. A knee injury suffered in the 12th game in 1987 eventually forced his retirement.

Even though he was plagued by knee injuries much of his career, Kellen still amassed 541 receptions for 6,741 yards and 45 touchdowns in just nine National Football League seasons. In 1984, he set a personal record with 15 receptions in a game against the Green Bay Packers. At the time of his retirement, Winslow ranked fifth among active receivers and 14th among all NFL pass-catchers.

A consensus All-Pro in 1980, 1981, 1982, Winslow’s most memorable performance occurred in 1981, in the Chargers 41-38 overtime playoff victory over Miami, when he caught 13 passes for 166 yards and blocked a field goal with four seconds to play to send the game into overtime. {1}

Left Tackle: Anthony Muñoz

Anthony Muñoz, a 6-6, 278-pound offensive tackle, was the first-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals and the third player selected overall in the 1980 NFL Draft. Some considered the pick a risk because of multiple knee injuries and the fact that he played only one full game his senior year at the University of Southern California. But as the two-time All-America lineman (1978-1979) proved, the concerns were unnecessary.

An exceptional straight-on blocker, Muñoz was agile, quick, and strong. He had great foot quickness and agility necessary to block quick defensive ends. Considered by many to be the premier tackle during his 13-seasons of play, he started 164 of 168 games from 1980-1990.

An all-around athlete, he even caught seven passes and scored four touchdowns on tackle eligible plays. His stalwart play was the key to the success that propelled Cincinnati to three AFC Central Division titles and two AFC championships (1981 and 1988).

The recipient of virtually every possible honor, Anthony was elected to 11 consecutive Pro Bowls and was named All-Pro 11 straight times from 1981 through 1991. He was named the NFL Offensive Lineman of the Year in 1981, 1987, and 1988 and the NFL Players Association Lineman of the Year in 1981, 1985, 1988, and 1989.

Always in top-notch condition, Muñoz missed only three games due to injury. His rigorous workout routine included working out in the weight room he had installed in his home and running three to four miles every day. He set high personal standards and worked tirelessly to achieve them.

Born August 19, 1958, in Ontario, California, Muñoz was too big to play Pop Warner football as a youth. Instead, he concentrated on becoming an excellent baseball player. Eventually, as a college sophomore, he pitched for USC’s national championship team in 1978. By then, however, it was clear that his size and his talents were more suited for football. {1}

Left Guard: Randall McDaniel

The Minnesota Vikings used their first round selection (19th overall) in the 1988 NFL Draft on guard Randall McDaniel, an All-America and four-year starter from Arizona State. McDaniel, who immediately earned a starting role with the Vikings, played in all 16 games in his rookie season, 15 as a starter. His efforts were recognized that year as he was selected to several all-rookie teams and named a second-team All-NFC pick.

McDaniel continued to excel the following season as he embarked on a streak of 202 consecutive starts that continued through the end of his career. He also earned the first of 12 straight Pro Bowl berths.

In 1994, McDaniel was the leader of a rock solid offensive line that held opponents to just one sack every 22.7 pass attempts, the second-best ratio in team history. In 1996, coaches felt he was so talented that he could be used in ways other than just blocking. In a late season game against the Arizona Cardinals, McDaniel had two goal line carries. Then, in the Pro Bowl a couple months later, he caught a touchdown pass, becoming the first guard in AFC-NFC Pro Bowl history to accomplish such a feat.

The 1998 season was highlighted by the high-scoring attack of the Vikings offense that scored a then-record 556 points. Showing his skill at both pass and run blocking, McDaniel allowed only 1.5 sacks all season while clearing run lanes for Minnesota running backs to average 5.4 yards per carry on his side of the line.

After earning nine straight first-team all-pro selections (1990-98) and starting 13 consecutive playoff games for the Vikings, McDaniel joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two final seasons (2000-01) before retiring from the NFL.
Adding to an already talented offense, McDaniel in his first season with the Bucs, helped pave the way for a team that rushed for 2,066 yards. That included a team single-game record 250 yards rushing against the Dallas Cowboys. For his efforts, McDaniel was named to his final Pro Bowl.

In all, McDaniel blocked for six different 1,000-yard rushers and five 3,000-yard passers during his 14-season career. Regarded as one of the finest offensive linemen in NFL history, McDaniel was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s. {1}

Center: Mike Webster

Mike Webster, a 6-1, 255-pound All-Big Ten center at Wisconsin, was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fifth-round selection and the 125th player taken in the 1974 NFL Draft. A three-year starter and honor student in college, Webster adapted to the pro game quickly.

For two years, he split time at center with veteran Ray Mansfield while seeing some service at guard and the special teams. However, with a start in the final game of the 1975 season, Webster began a string of 150 consecutive starts that lasted until 1986, when he missed the first four games with a dislocated elbow.

Webster, who was born March 18, 1952, at Tomahawk, Wisconsin, played more seasons (15) and more games (220) than any other player in Pittsburgh history. Webster, who was the team’s offensive captain for nine seasons, was considered to be the strongest Steeler and won the Ironman competition in 1980 to give credence to that belief.

Webster, who joined the team in the same year the Steelers won their first of four Super Bowls, also played in six AFC championship games. Pittsburgh won four of the six title games. Webster was an all-pro choice seven times and was selected to the All-AFC team five times from 1978 through 1982. He also played in nine Pro Bowls, the first five as a starter.

The Steelers made Webster a free agent in 1988 and he quickly signed on with the Kansas City Chiefs, first as an offensive line coach. But within a few weeks, Webster was back at his old center spot, starting all 16 games in 1989. He completed his 17-season, 245-game career after a final 1990 campaign with the Chiefs. {1}

Right Guard: Joe DeLamielleure

In the 1970s, Joe DeLamielleure and his Buffalo Bills offensive line mates were dubbed the “Electric Company,” because they “turned the Juice loose.” The “Juice” of course was Hall of Fame running back O.J. Simpson. An All-America and three-time All-Big Ten performer at Michigan State, “Joe D” as he was known, was selected in the first round of the 1973 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills.

At first, when he failed his physical, it seemed he would never play pro football. Fortunately, further tests showed his irregular heartbeat was not serious, and Joe went on to win All-Rookie honors. It was the beginning of a string of career honors that few guards had or have since exceeded.

He went on to become the most honored lineman of the Bills respected front wall. Eight times during his career he was selected first- or second-team All-Pro; seven times he was named first- or second-team All-AFC, and six times he was named to the Pro Bowl. Since 1970, only two Hall of Fame guards, John Hannah with 10 and Gene Upshaw with seven, were named All-Pro more often. In 1975, the NFL Players Association named him Offensive Lineman of the Year.

Extremely durable and dependable, Joe played in 185 consecutive games during his 13 playing seasons with the Bills and the Cleveland Browns. A starter from the first game of his rookie season, DeLamielleure played and started in every game for eight seasons in Buffalo before being traded to Cleveland in 1980. During five years in Cleveland he played in every game and had only three non-starts.

Primarily due to the success of the Bills running attack led by Simpson, DeLamielleure was best known for his run blocking. Behind the swift pulling guard, O.J. became the first player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season. But Joe was more than just a run blocker, he was also an effective pass blocker and rarely allowed his opponent to disrupt Buffalo’s or Cleveland’s pass plays. DeLamielleure, who was named to the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade Team, finished his career in 1985 with a final season back where it had begun, in Buffalo. {1}

Right Tackle: Willie Roaf

The New Orleans Saints drafted tackle Willie Roaf out of Louisiana Tech in the first round eighth player overall, in the 1993 NFL Draft. He was the first offensive lineman selected in that year’s draft.

Roaf started all 16 games at right tackle and did not miss an offensive snap during his first season and earned All-Rookie honors. The following year he was switched to left tackle and performed at a level that earned him more national accolades. He was voted to the Pro Bowl for the first time, named first-team All-Pro, All-NFC, and honored as the NFLPA’s NFC Offensive Lineman of the Year for the first of two consecutive seasons.

He played nine seasons in New Orleans where he started 131 regular season games. He also started two playoff games including the franchise’s first-ever postseason win, a 31-28 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams in the 2000 NFC Wild Card game.

A knee injury shortened Roaf’s 2001 season to just seven games. Then, just prior to the next year’s draft Roaf was traded by the Saints to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for a third-round draft pick. He rebounded from his injury to regain his form. Roaf earned All-Pro honors in three of the four seasons he played with the Chiefs. He was a key part of Kansas City’s offensive line that helped the Chiefs lead the NFL in points scored in 2002 and 2003. The club also led the AFC in total yards in 2003 and the NFL in 2004 and 2005.

The 6’5”, 300-pound Roaf retired after the 2005 season. In all, he played in 189 career games over 13 seasons and was named first-team All-NFL seven times (1994-96, 2000, 2003-05), All-NFC six times, and All-AFC three times. He was also voted to 11 Pro Bowls. The only times he did not receive an invitation to the league’s All-Star game during his career was following his rookie year and his injury-shortened 2001 season.

Roaf is also a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s, and was just inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012. {1}

Right End: Shannon Sharpe

The Denver Broncos selected Shannon Sharpe out of Savannah State in the seventh round of the 1990 NFL Draft. He retired 14 seasons later as the all-time leader in catches, yards and touchdowns by a tight end.

His breakout year came during his third season when he led the Broncos in receiving with 53 catches for 640 yards to earn his first of eight Pro Bowl nods. Other than an injury-shortened 1999 campaign, Sharpe never caught less than 60 passes in a season for the remainder of his career.

In 1993, he was named first-team All-Pro for the first of four times after catching 81 passes for 995 yards and scoring 9 touchdowns. He followed that performance with a career-high 87 receptions in 1994.

Sharpe left the Broncos in 2000 and signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an unrestricted free agent. It was while with Baltimore in 2001 that Sharpe surpassed Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome to become the NFL’s record holder for receptions and receiving yards by a tight end. After two seasons with the Ravens he returned to Denver and played two final years with the Broncos. He became the career leader in touchdowns by a tight end in his final season. All three career marks have since been surpassed. Sharpe’s final career numbers read 815 receptions for 10,060 yards and 62 TDs. Ten times he had 60 or more catches including three 80-catch seasons. Sharpe eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark three times and twice had 10 TDs in a season.

He played in 204 regular season games and started in four AFC championship games. He was the starting tight end in Denver’s back-to-back Super Bowl titles (XXXII and XXXIII) and the Ravens’ Super Bowl XXXV victory.

Sharpe’s 96-yard touchdown reception in the 2000 AFC Championship Game came on a short pass from Trent Dilfer on third-and-18. The tight end streaked up the middle untouched for the game’s first and only touchdown which proved to be all that the Ravens needed to secure its first AFC championship and Super Bowl berth. The play remains the longest TD catch in NFL playoff history.

Sharpe led the Broncos in receiving six times and the Ravens once. He was named first-team All-Pro and All-AFC in 1993, 1996, 1997 and 1998 and was selected to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s. {1}

Third Team:

Left End: Mike Ditka

Mike Ditka, the No. 1 draft pick of the Chicago Bears in 1961, introduced a new dimension to the tight end position that once was viewed primarily as an assignment for a tough, talented blocker. Ditka proved to be a superior blocker but he also became one of the first tight ends to catch a large number of passes.

He startled opponent defenses with 56 catches for 1,076 yards and 12 touchdowns in his Rookie-of-the-Year campaign in 1961. Three years later in 1964, he had 75 receptions, a season record for tight ends that lasted until 1980 and the era of the 16-game season. The 6-3, 225-pound native of Carnegie, Pennsylvania was a consensus All- America in 1960 while playing for the University of Pittsburgh.

He moved into the Bears’ starting lineup at the beginning of his rookie season and didn’t miss a start in 84 games with the Bears. He earned All-NFL honors four straight seasons from 1961 through 1964 and was a Pro Bowl choice after each of his first five seasons. He wound up his 12-year career with 427 receptions for 5,812 yards and 43 touchdowns.

At the time of his retirement after the 1972 season, he ranked second among all tight ends in receptions. In 1967, Ditka was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. An injury in the second game that year aborted his consecutive-game streak at 86. He missed eight games in two years with the Eagles before moving on to the Dallas Cowboys in 1969. The fiercely determined and competitive Ditka regained much of his old form in four years in Dallas. His best campaign there was in 1971 when the Cowboys won their first Super Bowl championship. Ditka had 30 receptions that year and he scored the final touchdown in Dallas’ 24-3 win over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI. {1}

Left Tackle: Art Shell

Art Shell, a third-round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders in 1968, excelled on the special teams for two seasons before winning the starting offensive left tackle job in his third campaign. Within a short time, he became widely recognized as one of the premier offensive linemen in the National Football League.

Through much of his career, Shell teamed with left guard Gene Upshaw, a 1987 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinee, to provide the Raiders with an exceptional nucleus to a forward unit that powered the perennially strong Oakland offense of the 1970s.

Many observers rate Shell, who was equally adept as a pass protector and a blocker on running plays, as the finest of many excellent Raiders offensive linemen of the 1970s. Shell was a first- or second-team All-Pro choice six straight years from 1973 through 1978.

He also played in eight Pro Bowl games and 23 post-season contests, including eight AFL/AFC championships and the Raiders’ victories in Super Bowls XI and XV. Shell was credited with a nearly perfect performance against Jim Marshall, the Minnesota Vikings’ sterling defensive end, in Super Bowl XI.

Art played in his first 156 pro games before a pre-season injury in 1979 forced him out of the lineup for five games. He then launched another streak of 51 games that ended with an injury midway into his final 1982 campaign.

Born in Charleston, South Carolina Shell was All-State in both football and basketball at Bonds-Wilson High School in North Charleston. In college with the Maryland State-Eastern Shore grid team, he starred on both offense and defense. Art was named All-Conference three years, All-America two years by the Pittsburgh Courier and Ebony Magazine and little All-America as a senior in 1967. {1}

Left Guard: Gene Upshaw

Gene Upshaw was the Oakland Raiders’ first-round choice in the first combined AFL-NFL draft in 1967. The 6-5, 255-pound lineman had played center, tackle, and end while winning NAIA All-America honors at Texas A&I.

The Raiders’ coaching staff decided left guard would be Gene’s best pro position and Upshaw won the starting job in his rookie training camp. Upshaw’s size, it was felt, would help neutralize the effectiveness of Ernie Ladd and Buck Buchanan, two huge defensive tackles in Oakland’s division.

Gene held the guard spot for the next 15 seasons, starting in 207 straight regular season games until finally being forced out of action for one game in 1981. Upshaw returned the next week to play 10 more games in what turned out to be his final season. He was scheduled to play again in 1982, but an injury in the summer season put him on the injured reserved list for the entire campaign.

Altogether Upshaw played in an incredible 307 preseason, regular season, and post-season contests. Included in his 24 post-season games were three AFL and seven AFC championship games and Super Bowls II, XI and XV. Counting the AFL championship in 1967 and victories in Super Bowls XI and XV, Upshaw became the only player ever to start on championship teams in both the AFL and NFL.

Honors came frequently for Upshaw. He was named first- or second-team All-League or All-Conference 11 consecutive years, and he was named to play in seven Pro Bowls. Upshaw was an intense, intelligent, dedicated competitor who used his excellent size and speed to best advantage.

Extremely effective leading wide running plays; Gene was an integral part of the powerful offensive line that spawned the Raiders’ lethal running attack of the 1970s. Recognized as a team leader, Upshaw captained the Raiders’ offensive unit for eight seasons. {1}

Center: Jim Langer

Jim Langer joined the Miami Dolphins as a free agent in 1970, stayed with the club for 10 years through the 1979 season and then wound up his career with the Minnesota Vikings in 1980 and 1981. In his decade with the Dolphins, Jim developed from an obscure substitute to one of the finest centers ever to play.

Langer was named first-team All-Pro four times and All-AFC five straight years from 1973 to 1977 and was also picked for the Pro Bowl six straight times. During that period, he started in three AFC championship games and Super Bowls VI, VII and VIII.

Many qualified observers insist that Langer was the most proficient performer on a talent laden offensive line that fueled Miami’s vaunted ball-control offense. Jim played middle linebacker at South Dakota State before being signed by the Cleveland Browns as a free agent early in 1970, but was cut during training camp. Jim then latched on with the Dolphins.

For two years, he saw only limited action as a guard and a special teams player. But In 1972, he switched to center, won the starting job and wound up playing every offensive down in Miami’s perfect season.

Hard working and quick, Langer was a compact, low-driving blocker who had the strength to stymie the bigger defensive linemen. At first, Jim snapped only on T-formation scrimmage plays but, after long practice in his own backyard, he started snapping on punts and placekicks in 1974. Langer also proved to be durable.

Continuing to play in spite of injuries, Jim saw service in 141 consecutive games from 1972 until a knee injury ended his Miami tenure with seven games left in the 1979 season. Early in the 1980 campaign, he was traded to the Vikings, with whom he played two more seasons. {1}

Right Guard: Larry Little

Larry Little, unlike many highly touted Miami Dolphins stars of the 1970s, began his career in 1967 as an unheralded free agent with the San Diego Chargers. Larry, who had been a two-way tackle, team captain, and an All-Conference choice at Bethune-Cookman College, enjoyed only moderate success during his two years in San Diego.

Just before the 1969 campaign, however, he was traded to the Dolphins and it wasn’t long before the 6-1, 265-pound guard was being praised as one of the National Football League’s premier offensive linemen. A fixture at right guard during the 1970s when the Dolphins were a dominant team in pro football Little was the embodiment of the intimidating force of the famed Miami rushing attack.

A superb pass blocker, awesome on the scrimmage line and especially effective as the lead man on the powerful Dolphin sweeps, Little was named first-team All-NFL from 1971 through 1975 and again in 1977. He was also named second-team All-NFL in 1978, and All-AFC five times. Larry was selected to play in five Pro Bowls (1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, and 1975). He was named the NFL Players Association’s AFC Lineman of the Year in 1970,1971 and 1972.

When Miami rushed for a then-record 2,960 yards in its perfect 1972 season, Little was tabbed by one prestigious selection panel as the NFL’s outstanding blocker. Little displayed versatility, durability and dedication throughout his career.

Coach Don Shula called him “a real inspiration, not just for the way he performs but also for his influence on our younger players.” In one emergency situation, brought about by injuries, Little shifted to the unfamiliar right tackle spot with little effect on his quality of play. Even though he was plagued by knee, ankle, and leg injuries through much of his career, he sat out only four games because of injuries in his first 11 seasons with the Dolphins.

Right Tackle: Jackie Slater

Jackie Slater, a veteran of twenty National Football League seasons, was like the Energizer Battery bunny that “just kept going and going and going.” Drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the third round of the 1976 NFL Draft, Slater is tied for third all time for the most seasons played in the history of the league. His 259 regular-season games played were the most ever by an offensive lineman when he retired, and his 20 seasons with one team is an NFL record.

Although used primarily as a backup and special teams player during his first three seasons, Slater became a starter in 1979 and was a part of an offensive line that surrendered just 29 sacks and helped the Rams’ offense finish second in the NFL in total yards gained with 6,006.

The 6-4, 277-pound tackle went on to become the mainstay of the Rams’ offensive line. Slater was a first- or second-team all-pro selection following five different seasons and a first- or second-team All-NFC choice, seven times. A popular player known for his work ethic and leadership skills, Slater earned seven Pro Bowl berths. His first selection followed the 1983 season, and then was chosen in consecutive years from 1985 through 1990.

Twenty-four different quarterbacks and 37 different running backs played behind Slater during his long career. A powerful drive blocker, Slater blocked for seven different 1,000-yard rushers, including Lawrence McCutcheon, Wendell Tyler, Eric Dickerson, Charles White, Greg Bell, Cleveland Gary, and Jerome Bettis. He also blocked in 107 games in which a runner gained 100 yards or more. Slater was also a quality pass blocker.

Twenty-seven times Rams quarterbacks threw for 300 yards or more in a game with Jackie in the lineup. In 1983, he and the Rams offensive line demonstrated their versatility when they allowed a league-low 23 sacks while also paving the way for Dickerson’s rookie rushing record of 1,808 yards.

A veteran of 18 playoff games, including Super Bowl XIV, Slater was a model of consistent superlative play and was widely regarded as one of the game’s premier linemen. {1}

Right End: Don Hutson

Don Hutson’s first touchdown came on an 83-yard pass from Arnie Herber in just his second game as a Green Bay Packer. He wound up with 99 career touchdown receptions, a record that stood for more than four decades. When Hutson retired in 1945 after 11 superb seasons, he held 18 NFL records, including 488 career receptions.

That was 200 more than his closest competitor. Hutson invented modern pass receiving. He created Z-outs, buttonhooks, hook-and-gos, and a whole catalog of moves and fakes. Although he had been an All-America at Alabama in 1934, there were plenty who doubted the skinny speedster could stand the pace of pro football. But it wasn’t long before his mere presence on the field had changed the defensive concept of the game.

Don could outmaneuver and outrace virtually every defender in the league. He led the NFL in receiving in eight of his 11 seasons and in scoring five straight years. Twice, in 1941 and 1942, he was named the league’s MVP.

Like everyone in the days before free substitution, Hutson was a 60-minute player who spent most of his career as a very fine safety on defense. In his final six seasons, he swiped 30 opposing quarterbacks’ passes. Often after scoring a touchdown, he would kick the extra point. In one quarter of a 1945 game, he caught four touchdown passes and kicked five PATs for an amazing 29 points.

Had it not been for a unique decision by NFL President Joe Carr, Hutson might never have become a landmark pass-catcher. After college, Don signed contracts with both the pass-minded Packers and the NFL’s Brooklyn Dodgers, a team that rarely passed. Carr ruled the contract with the earliest postmark would be honored. The Packers’ contract was postmarked 8:30 a.m., 17 minutes earlier than the Dodgers’ pact. Thus Hutson became a Packer. {1}

Honorable Mention:

Left End: Dave Casper

Tight end Dave Casper was an Honorable Mention All-America as an offensive tackle in 1972, and an All-America tight end in 1973 at Notre Dame. The Oakland Raiders selected him in the second round of the 1974 National Football League Draft.

Used primarily on special teams his first two years in Oakland, he earned a starter’s role in 1976 and quickly established himself as a dominant player, finishing the season with an impressive 53 catches for 691 yards and 10 touchdowns. His outstanding play invigorated the Raiders’ offense with a blend of pass catching and blocking that culminated in a 32-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI. Nicknamed “The Ghost” by his teammates, Casper was not only a great receiver and blocker, he was also a clutch performer.

Two of the game’s most memorable plays involved the sure-handed tight end. In the 1977 AFC playoff game between the Raiders and the Baltimore Colts, it was Casper’s 10-yard touchdown reception that ended the double-overtime affair, 37-31, in favor of the Raiders. “Ghost to the Post,” the game is called in reference to Casper’s 42-yard reception route that set up the tying field goal at the end of regulation.

Early the next season, Casper again pulled his team from certain defeat, on a play that would forever be remembered as “The Holy Roller.” Down six points to the San Diego Chargers with 10 seconds remaining in the game, Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler fumbled the ball. The ball rolled 13 yards to the Chargers 11, where running back Pete Banaszak batted it toward the goal line. At the 5, a quick thinking Casper continued the ball’s forward progress with his foot before finally falling on it in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.

Casper played six and a half seasons with the Raiders. During that time he was named All-Pro and All-AFC four times and was selected to play in four Pro Bowls. Midway through the 1980 season he was traded to the Houston Oilers for a first-round and two second-round draft picks. There he was reunited with Stabler who was traded to the Oilers at the start of the season. Casper finished the season with 56 receptions and was named to his fifth Pro Bowl. In 1984, after a brief stint with the Minnesota Vikings, Casper returned to the Raiders finishing his career with 378 receptions for 5,216 yards and 52 touchdowns.  {1}

Left Tackle: Rayfield Wright

Rayfield Wright, the Dallas Cowboys seventh round draft pick in the 1967 draft, was given little chance of making the team’s final roster. But the Fort Valley (GA) State All-America demonstrated enough determination and raw athleticism that the coaching staff knew they somehow needed to work him into the lineup.

During his first three seasons the 6-6, 255-pound Wright was used as a tight end, defensive end, and offensive tackle. In 1969 when tackle Ralph Neely was injured, Coach Tom Landry decided to insert Wright into the lineup. His first opponent was future Hall of Fame defensive end Deacon Jones. “The Deacon is big and strong and mean,” Wright was cautioned by his line coach. “Well,” said the confident Wright, “so am I.”

Wright’s performance against Jones was good enough that before training camp opened in 1970, Landry announced that Wright would be his starting tackle. One season later he was named All-NFL. Known as “Big Cat,” Wright earned first- or second-team All-NFL honors six consecutive times (1971-1976). He was also selected to play in the Pro Bowl following each of those seasons.

Wright’s performance during the 1975 season was particularly impressive. Coming off knee surgery, many questioned whether “Big Cat” would even play. Not only did he play, but he again notched All-NFL honors into his career belt. In postseason play he faced three legendary defensive ends – Hall of Famer Jack Youngblood, Pittsburgh Steelers L.C. Greenwood, and Minnesota Vikings Carl Eller – head on. Each time he rose to the occasion with exceptional play.

“He was truly outstanding,” Youngblood summarized of Wright’s play in the playoff game. As for his performance against Eller, longtime Cowboys offensive line coach Jim Myers proclaimed that Rayfield “played as well or even better in that game.”

“An all-day fight with Rayfield Wright definitely is not my idea of a pleasant Sunday afternoon,” Eller once offered. “I think he is pretty much of a composite of an all-pro tackle. He has size, strength, and quickness. The big thing in Rayfield’s favor is that he has a lot of range. He moves faster than most tackles. He’s just difficult to play against.”

Myers summarized Wright’s overall career this way. “We tried to make a tight end out of Rayfield. Then we tried him on the defensive line. And then he made a great coach out of me.” {1}

Left Guard: Jerry Kramer

Jerry Kramer spent his 11-year NFL career with the Green Bay Packers as a 6’3″, 250 pound. Kramer was an integral part of the famous “Packer Sweep,” a signature play in which both guards rapidly pull out from their normal positions and lead block for a running back going around the end.

Kramer was an All-Pro five times, and a member of the NFL’s 50th anniversary team in 1969, but surprisingly, even after appearing on the list of finalists ten times since becoming eligible, he has not been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He was rated #1 in the NFL Network’s Top 10 list of players not in the Hall of Fame.


Center
: Jim Otto

Some people say that playing on the offensive line has no glory. But it’s difficult to imagine any one player dominating the honors at one position more completely than Jim Otto did both in the American Football League and in the National Football League from 1960 through 1974.

The Wausau, Wisconsin, native joined the newly founded Oakland Raiders in 1960 and, for the next 15 seasons, he was the only starting center the Raiders ever had. He was one of only three players who saw action in each of his team’s 140 regular season games over the

AFL’s ten-year history, and he played with such skill that in its entire history, the AFL never had another all-league center.

Otto, who starred as a center and linebacker at the University of Miami in Florida, won All-AFL acclaim 10 straight seasons. He was All-NFL in 1970 and 1971, and then earned second-team All-NFL honors in 1972. Not surprisingly, he was named to the all-time All-AFL team following the 1969 season.

During his 15-year career, he participated in each of the nine AFL All-Star games that were played and in the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl the first three seasons that postseason classic was scheduled. Jim never missed a game. When he retired following the 1974 season, he had started in 210 straight games in regular season but had played in 308 games as a Raider.

During that period, the Raiders, who had once been AFL doormats, rose to prominence. Oakland won seven divisional championships in an eight-year period from 1967 through 1974. The 1967 Raiders became AFL champions and played against the NFL’s Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl II. Throughout this time span, Otto was a tower of strength as the anchor of the Raiders’ talented offensive line. {1}

Right Guard: Larry Allen

Larry Allen was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys out of Sonoma State College (CA) in the second round of the 1994 NFL Draft. An 11-time Pro Bowl selection, Allen played 12 seasons with the Cowboys and earned a Super Bowl ring with the team in Super Bowl XXX.

He played his final two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers before signing a one-day contract with the Dallas Cowboys, allowing him to retire with the organization that drafted him. In his career, he played in more Pro Bowls than any other Dallas Cowboys offensive player in franchise history.

At 6′ 3″, 325 pounds, Allen is regarded as possibly one of the physically strongest men to have ever played in the NFL, having recorded a bench press of 692 pounds.

Right Tackle: Forrest Gregg

During the 15 seasons that he played in the National Football League, Forrest Gregg could have been described as one of the best ever to play his position in the history of the game. A native Texan, Forrest starred in college at Southern Methodist and was the Green Bay Packers’ No. 2 draft pick in 1956.

Even though, at 6-4 and 249 pounds, he was considered small for the job, he was ticketed from the start for the offensive right tackle position. Realizing that he would never be able to overpower the monstrous defensive left ends that would be pouring in on him, Forrest went right to work learning how to finesse them. He spent countless hours watching coaches’ films of the most noted stars. It wasn’t long before he knew the moves of every opponent and had perfected ways to combat them.

Forrest earned an “iron-man” tag by playing in a then league record 188 consecutive games from 1956 until 1971, his final season which he spent with the Super Bowl bound Dallas Cowboys. As the Packers grew in stature in the 1960s, so too did Gregg. He won All-NFL acclaim eight straight years from 1960 through 1967 and was selected to play in nine Pro Bowls.

In 1961 and again in 1965, when injuries created a crisis on the Packers’ offensive line, Gregg willingly switched to guard to fill the void. In 1965, one major wire service named him an All-NFL at guard, the other picked him as its all-league tackle. A most fitting tribute came from the late Vince Lombardi who was blessed with many great stars during the dynasty years in Green Bay. But Vince, in his book, “Run to Daylight,” stated simply: “Forrest Gregg is the finest player I ever coached!” {1}

Right End: Jackie Smith

Jackie Smith, a 6-4, 235-pound tight end, was a fixture for 15 years with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1963 to 1977. He finished his career with the Dallas Cowboys in 1978. At the time of his retirement, he ranked as the all-time receiver among tight ends with 480 receptions for 7,918 yards and 40 touchdowns.

An outstanding football and track competitor at Northwestern Louisiana, Smith was the Cardinals’ 10th-round draft pick in 1963. Smith was a talented receiver, a punishing blocker, a fierce competitor and an excellent runner after he caught the ball. He even handled the Cardinals’ punting chores his first three seasons.

Smith became the Cardinals’ starting tight end during his 1963 rookie season and remained a fixture at that spot the rest of his tenure in St. Louis. He gave notice of things to come when he gained 212 yards on nine receptions against Pittsburgh that year.

The team’s offensive co-captain, Smith had one string of 45 straight games from 1967 to 1970, with at least one reception. He played in 121 straight games starting with his first NFL contest and continuing until a knee injury sidelined him in his ninth season in 1971.

Injuries slowed him again in 1975 and 1976 but Smith still played in 198 games. Smith played in five straight Pro Bowls from 1967 through 1971, and was named All-NFL in 1967 and 1969. He had his single season best performance in 1967 when he recorded 56 receptions for 1,205 yards and nine touchdowns.

During his career, he caught more than 40 passes seven different years. His 16.5-yard average per reception is a reflection of both his excellent speed and determined running style. {1}

{1} – Biography from the Pro Football Hall of Fame

- Dubsism is a proud member of the Sports Blog Movement

The Dubsism “Anti-Kiper” 2012 NFL Draft Board

Now that we are finally past the Super Bowl, it is time to address the needs of your team heading into the NFL Draft. So, while you are spending today erasing that fog in your head made of far too much cheap beer and delivery pizza, take a few moments to look forward so that your team can give itself a better shot to be where the Giants find themselves today.

Everybody has a NFL Draft “Big Board.” But unlike the ones you  get from the “professionals” at ESPN, we here at Dubsism offer a draft board based on the fact we actually have watched college football at some point in our lifetimes. This means we don’t care about how much we love to hear our own bloviation, there isn’t another blog out there taking shots at us yet (so we don’t have that whole “Mel Kiper/Todd McShay thing happening), and we aren’t worried about how much face time our increasingly oddly-shaped pompadour gets.

Rather, we would rather put out rookie  draft “shopping list” that we feel is our best effort to help you, the NFL fan who knows almost nothing about college football beyond Andrew Luck. We also won’t give you any flowery summaries of these players; there’s eight billion other sites doing that. Our model is you peruse the lists, both overall and by position, and decide which of these guys may help plug the numerous holes your favorite team has. However, we don’t bother with kickers and punters, largely because they are literally a “dime-a-dozen” and if you think a kicker is all that separates your team from a Super Bowl, you likely need a psychiatrist more than a draft board.

After the Super Bowl, we will revisit this list with some advice on what your sorry-ass team needs to do in order to improve itself, and this board will play a large part in that counsel. The one thing I would caution you against is that we here at Dubsism are firm believers in the “Mike Mamula” rule; meaning we don’t put much stock in the witchcraft that are the NFL Combines, so don’t expect this board to change significantly.

The Top Overall “Yes You Do Need Me, You Better Draft Me” 64:

  1. Andrew Luck QB Stanford
  2. Matt Kalil OT USC
  3. Robert Griffin III QB Baylor
  4. Alshon Jeffery WR South Carolina
  5. Trent Richardson RB Alabama
  6. Morris Claiborne CB LSU
  7. Justin Blackmon WR Oklahoma State
  8. Riley Reiff OT Iowa
  9. Devon Still DT Penn State
  10. Vontaze Burfict ILB Arizona State
  11. Courtney Upshaw OLB Alabama
  12. Mohamed Sanu WR Rutgers
  13. Melvin Ingram DE South Carolina
  14. David DeCastro G Stanford
  15. Dre Kirkpatrick CB Alabama
  16. Whitney Mercilus OLB Illinois
  17. Fletcher Cox DT Mississippi St
  18. Luke Kuechly ILB Boston College
  19. Zach Brown ILB North Carolina
  20. Mike Adams OT Ohio State
  21. Peter Konz C Wisconsin
  22. Jonathan Martin OT Stanford
  23. Alfonzo Dennard CB Nebraska
  24. Quinton Coples DE North Carolina
  25. Mark Barron S Alabama
  26. Brandon Weeden QB Oklahoma State
  27. Nick Perry DE USC
  28. Michael Brockers DE LSU
  29. Chris Polk RB Washington
  30. Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame
  31. Andre Branch OLB Clemson
  32. Robert Turbin RB Utah State
  33. Dontari Poe DT Memphis
  34. Dont’a Hightower ILB Alabama
  35. Janoris Jenkins CB North Alabama
  36. Bobby Massie OT Mississippi
  37. Kendall Wright WR Baylor
  38. Lamar Miller RB Miami (FL)
  39. Levy Adcock OT Oklahoma State
  40. Bruce Irvin DE West Virginia
  41. Nick Foles QB Arizona
  42. Stephen Hill WR Georgia Tech
  43. Kelechi Osemele G Iowa State
  44. Chase Minnifield CB Virginia
  45. Ronnell Lewis OLB Oklahoma
  46. Dwayne Allen TE Clemson
  47. LaMichael James RB Oregon
  48. Juron Criner WR Arizona
  49. Brandon Thompson DT Clemson
  50. Zebrie Sanders OT Florida State
  51. David Wilson RB Virginia Tech
  52. Markelle Martin S Oklahoma State
  53. Stephon Gilmore CB South Carolina
  54. Jared Crick DE Nebraska
  55. Brandon Washington G Miami (FL)
  56. Andrew Datko OT Florida State
  57. Coby Fleener TE Stanford
  58. Jerel Worthy DT Michigan State
  59. Dwight Jones WR North Carolina
  60. Ben Jones C Georgia
  61. Coryell Judie CB Texas A&M
  62. Alameda Ta’amu DT Washington
  63. Brandon Mosley OT Auburn
  64. Josh Chapman DT Alabama

The Top 15 By Position:

Quarterbacks

  1. Andrew Luck QB Stanford
  2. Robert Griffin III QB Baylor
  3. Brandon Weeden QB Oklahoma State
  4. Nick Foles QB Arizona
  5. Ryan Tannehill QB Texas A&M
  6. B.J. Coleman QB Chattanooga
  7. Brock Osweiler QB Arizona State
  8. Kellen Moore QB Boise State
  9. Ryan Lindley QB San Diego State
  10. Kirk Cousins QB Michigan State
  11. Jacory Harris QB Miami (FL)
  12. Russell Wilson QB Wisconsin
  13. G.J. Kinne QB Tulsa
  14. Patrick Witt QB Yale
  15. Dominique Davis QB East Carolina

Running Backs

  1. Trent Richardson RB Alabama
  2. Chris Polk RB Washington
  3. Robert Turbin RB Utah State
  4. Lamar Miller RB Miami (FL)
  5. LaMichael James RB Oregon
  6. David Wilson RB Virginia Tech
  7. Doug Martin RB Boise State
  8. Bernard Pierce RB Temple
  9. Cyrus Gray RB Texas A&M
  10. Terrance Ganaway RB Baylor
  11. Isaiah Pead RB Cincinnati
  12. Dan Herron RB Ohio State
  13. Ronnie Hillman RB San Diego State
  14. Vick Ballard RB Mississippi State
  15. Tauren Poole RB Tennessee

Wide Receivers

  1. Alshon Jeffery WR South Carolina
  2. Justin Blackmon WR Oklahoma State
  3. Mohamed Sanu WR Rutgers
  4. Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame
  5. Kendall Wright WR Baylor
  6. Stephen Hill WR Georgia Tech
  7. Juron Criner WR Arizona
  8. Dwight Jones WR North Carolina
  9. T.Y. Hilton WR Florida Int’l
  10. Nick Toon WR Wisconsin
  11. Marvin McNutt WR Iowa
  12. A.J. Jenkins WR Illinois
  13. Ryan Broyles WR Oklahoma
  14. Jeff Fuller WR Texas A&M
  15. Jarius Wright WR Arkansas

Tight Ends

  1. Dwayne Allen TE Clemson
  2. Coby Fleener TE Stanford
  3. Orson Charles TE Georgia
  4. Ladarius Green TE Louisiana-Lafayette
  5. Michael Egnew TE Missouri
  6. Brian Linthicum TE Michigan State
  7. Rhett Ellison TE USC
  8. Kevin Koger TE Michigan
  9. David Paulson TE Oregon
  10. George Bryan TE North Carolina State
  11. Josh Chichester TE Louisville
  12. Deangelo Peterson TE LSU
  13. Anthony Miller TE California
  14. Beau Reliford TE Florida State
  15. Nick Provo TE Syracuse

Offensive Tackles

  1. Matt Kalil OT USC
  2. Riley Reiff OT Iowa
  3. Mike Adams OT Ohio State
  4. Jonathan Martin OT Stanford
  5. Bobby Massie OT Mississippi
  6. Levy Adcock OT Oklahoma State
  7. Zebrie Sanders OT Florida State
  8. Andrew Datko OT Florida State
  9. Brandon Mosley OT Auburn
  10. Nate Potter OT Boise State
  11. Mitchell Schwartz OT California
  12. Tony Bergstrom OT Utah
  13. Matt McCants OT UAB
  14. Landon Walker OT Clemson
  15. Tom Compton OT South Dakota

Interior Offensive Lineman

  1. David DeCastro G Stanford
  2. Peter Konz C Wisconsin
  3. Kelechi Osemele G Iowa State
  4. Brandon Washington G Miami (FL)
  5. Ben Jones C Georgia
  6. Cordy Glenn G Georgia
  7. Kevin Zeitler G Wisconsin
  8. William Vlachos C Alabama
  9. Amini Silatolu G Midwestern State
  10. James Brown G Troy
  11. Quinton Saulsberry C Mississippi State
  12. Senio Kelemete G Washington
  13. Brandon Brooks G Miami (OH)
  14. David Molk C Michigan
  15. Lucas Nix G Pittsburgh

Defensive Tackles

  1. Devon Still DT Penn State
  2. Fletcher Cox DT Mississippi St
  3. Dontari Poe DT Memphis
  4. Brandon Thompson DT Clemson
  5. Jerel Worthy DT Michigan State
  6. Alameda Ta’amu DT Washington
  7. Josh Chapman DT Alabama
  8. Cam Johnson DT Virginia
  9. Marcus Forston DT Miami (FL)
  10. Hebron Fangupo DT BYU
  11. Jaye Howard DT Florida
  12. Mike Daniels DT Iowa
  13. Brett Roy DT Nevada
  14. Mike Martin DT Michigan
  15. Nicolas Jean-Baptiste DT Baylor

Defensive Ends

  1. Melvin Ingram DE South Carolina
  2. Quinton Coples DE North Carolina
  3. Nick Perry DE USC
  4. Michael Brockers DE LSU
  5. Bruce Irvin DE West Virginia
  6. Jared Crick DE Nebraska
  7. Vinny Curry DE Marshall
  8. Kendall Reyes DE Connecticut
  9. Chandler Jones DE Syracuse
  10. Kheeston Randall DE Texas
  11. Jonathan Massaquoi DE Troy
  12. Jake Bequette DE Arkansas
  13. Billy Winn DE Boise State
  14. Matt Conrath DE Virginia
  15. Trevor Guyton DE California

Outside Linebackers

  1. Courtney Upshaw OLB Alabama
  2. Whitney Mercilus OLB Illinois
  3. Andre Branch OLB Clemson
  4. Ronnell Lewis OLB Oklahoma
  5. Bobby Wagner OLB Utah State
  6. Lavonte David OLB Nebraska
  7. Travis Lewis OLB Oklahoma
  8. Brandon Lindsey OLB Pittsburgh
  9. Emmanuel Acho OLB Texas
  10. Keenan Robinson OLB Texas
  11. Tank Carder OLB TCU
  12. Nigel Bradham OLB Florida State
  13. Tyler Nielsen OLB Iowa
  14. Julian Miller OLB West Virginia
  15. Josh Kaddu OLB Oregon

Inside Linebackers

  1. Vontaze Burfict ILB Arizona State
  2. Luke Kuechly ILB Boston College
  3. Zach Brown ILB North Carolina
  4. Dont’a Hightower ILB Alabama
  5. Sean Spence ILB Miami (FL)
  6. Audie Cole ILB North Carolina State
  7. James-Michael Johnson ILB Nevada
  8. Terrell Manning ILB North Carolina State
  9. Mychal Kendricks ILB California
  10. Nathan Stupar ILB Penn State
  11. Chris Galippo ILB USC
  12. Jerry Franklin ILB Arkansas
  13. Max Gruder ILB Pittsburgh
  14. Adrien Cole ILB Louisiana Tech
  15. D.J. Holt ILB California

Cornerbacks

  1. Morris Claiborne CB LSU
  2. Dre Kirkpatrick CB Alabama
  3. Alfonzo Dennard CB Nebraska
  4. Janoris Jenkins CB North Alabama
  5. Chase Minnifield CB Virginia
  6. Stephon Gilmore CB South Carolina
  7. Coryell Judie CB Texas A&M
  8. Jayron Hosley CB Virginia Tech
  9. Brandon Boykin CB Georgia
  10. Casey Hayward CB Vanderbilt
  11. Trumaine Johnson CB Montana
  12. Shaun Prater CB Iowa
  13. Leonard Johnson CB Iowa State
  14. Josh Robinson CB Central Florida
  15. Josh Norman CB Coastal Carolina

Safeties

  1. Mark Barron S Alabama
  2. Markelle Martin S Oklahoma State
  3. Aaron Henry S Wisconsin
  4. Antonio Allen S South Carolina
  5. Trenton Robinson S Michigan State
  6. Harrison Smith S Notre Dame
  7. Brandon Taylor S LSU
  8. Eddie Whitley S Virginia Tech
  9. George Iloka S Boise State
  10. Winston Guy S Kentucky
  11. Tysyn Hartman S Kansas State
  12. Duke Ihenacho S San Jose State
  13. D’Anton Lynn S Penn State
  14. Janzen Jackson S McNeese State
  15. Kelcie McCray S Arkansas State

The Ex-Kicker’s Round Table – The Super Bowl Recap Edition

Blogs are not like radio and TV stations, which in order to maintain their FCC licenses are required to air a certain amount of public affairs programming.  That is no excuse for us as a citizenry to be uninformed.  In that spirit, the Sports Blog Movement has assembled a McLaughlin Group-like discussion panel comprised of an eclectic group of ex-NFL kickers to offer the most diverse range of opinions possible, moderated by SBM’s own J-Dub.

You may ask why did we pick kickers? First of all, many kickers never made any real money during their careers, and as you will notice as you read the biographies of our newly-assembled panel, they didn’t make a lot of money afterward. This means kickers are to football players what bloggers are to the main-stream media. What better kindred spirits could we have?

With that being said, allow us to introduce the panel.

Ali Haji-Shiekh 

 

For those of you who may not know, and we’re guessing that’s all of you, Ali Haji-Shiekh was a placekicker for the University of Michigan in the early 80′s, then went on to a rather short and mediocre NFL career.  Now, he’s the main man on the floor buffer at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and he’s a little bit bitter about it.  Despite that, has some unique perspectives, so  including him on the panel was a no-brainer.  What’s the worst that could happen?

Rick Danmeier

 

Somehow, Danmeier made the journey from the University of Sioux Falls to a five-year stint with the Minnesota Vikings. One of the last straight-on kickers in the NFL, retirement saw Danmeier return to South Dakota and the isolation of his wheat farm.

Donald Igwebuike

 

After immigrating from Nigeria, Igwebuike split the uprights for Clemson. His NFL days were spent mostly in more fruity colors with Tampa Bay. Now, his foot finds itself on the gas pedal of a Washington, D.C., taxi, and he’s clearly taken to the weight room in an attempt to over-compensate.

Efren Herrera

 

America never seemed to suit Herrera. After a career kicking for UCLA, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Seattle Seahawks, Herrera returned home and became a 19th-century Mexican warlord.

Uwe von Schamann

 

After his five seasons with the Miami Dolphins, von Schamann returned to his college stomping grounds in Oklahoma, amassing bazillions of dollars in the oil business and spending his time plotting world domination. Dropping a kid from the recently de-Reiched Germany of the  into the “Yee-Haw” environment of Oklahoma of the 1970′s could only have the alkali-metal-tossed-into-the-fish-tank effect need to exemplify the “Adolf Eichmann-meets- J.R. Ewing”-type calculating evil of von Schamann.

{2K (s) + 2H2O (l) → 2KOH (aq) + H2 (g)} = A big mess, just like this panel.

Today, the boys are discussing last night’s Super Bowl.  Head over to Sports Blog Movement to see that and other discussions help by this spirited, if not off-beat group!

What We Learned: Super Bowl XLVI…Or As We Call It In America, Super Bowl 46

1) Its time for the Roman numeral thing to come to an end

First off, does anybody really remember how those damn things work anyway? I learned them in the sixth grade, and I don’t know about you, but that was just too damn long ago. Not to mention, where the hell else do I need this knowledge unless I’m trying to figure out the the copyright date on an old movie? From now on, just stick with the Arabic numbers we all use; next year I want to see 47, not XLVII. Make it happen, Roger Goodell. I took my first step toward not hating you when you said it may be time to get rid of the damn Pro Bowl; let’s build on that momentum.

2) Pre-game shows were concocted by the same people who invented Waterboarding

Seriously, who needs four hours of Chris Berman? Who needs multiple hours of any of these turdloafs? Give me six hours of Cris Collinsworth on tape, and let me have any guy in Guantanamo from whom you want a secret. I’ll have it for you by the time we hit the third commercial break.

What’s sadder still is the stuff other channels put on as if they are throwing their hands in the air like they just don’t care.  Puppy Bowl? A “Law and Order” marathon? Like somebody might want an option to half a day of the sporting equivalent of a dog turd on a summer sidewalk.

3) I’ve discovered the worst people to have at a Super Bowl party 

  • The person who keeps making it a point to tell you they hate sports, but enjoys the “social community of the virtual holiday” the Super Bowl has become

We all know this one. It is usually the woman who wears knee-length skirts with dark tights and combat boots, has far too many piercings, and somehow during the course of the day works in a rant about “American indulgent consumerism.” If they aren’t a woman, they usually are some long-haired, petchouli-smelling dickbreath who yells at anybody who doesn’t toss their beer can in the recycle bin he carries in his Prius. In either case, they usually are a co-worker of the wife of the guy hosting the party, and the wife had some sort of situation where they could not be “not invited.”

  • The person who knows absolutely nothing about football, but tries to pretend they do

Here’s another stereotype which offers two gender-based options. The male version is usually somebody’s shit-for-brains brother-in-law who thinks just because he played linebacker in junior high and now is nearing offensive tackle-weight he is qualified to offer an opinion on every single football related topic offered during that insufferable month-long pre-game show. The female version is almost always that woman who has no friends and is desperate to fit in anywhere, so she watches a little ESPN First Take and thinks she can talk at length about what a great free-throw shooter Tim Tebow is.

  • The overly-neurotic cook

Usually seen at the “pot-luck” type gathering, this person has such a compulsive need for acceptance, they bug the shit out of everybody in the room with some drivel along the lines “I hope the bean dip was OK; I thought maybe I put to much cilantro in it.” Whenever I end up at a party with one of these people, I sneak off somewhere, drink two   cans of Spaghettios and fill a coffee cup with some of that “emergency-make-you-barf-juice” they use on overdose victims. Then I wait for Captain Neurotic to approach me with their whine over a quarter-teaspoon of what-the-hell ever; then I take a big-ass hit off that coffee cup.

Try it some time…the reactions are priceless. Hint: It’s best to stay on non-carpeted floors when you pull this.

  • The person who just went through a break-up

Honestly, this person can screw up any social gathering, but in this case it is usually men who are the worst offenders. Raise your hand if you got to see a guy have a Super Bowl party meltdown because the” ex” who dumped his ass made a comment one time about how “Tom Brady is cute.”

4) Another exercise in numerology

The Giants become the 5th team to win at least 4 Super Bowls, while the Patriots become the 3rd team to lose at least 4 Super Bowls.

5) Once Again, The Dubsism Mantra about football holds true

Let’s all say it together…

The passing game may be exciting to watch, and it kicks ass in your fantasy league, and it even wins a lot of regular season games, but it is the ability to run the ball and play defense that wins championships.

- Dubsism is a proud member of the Sports Blog Movement

What If Eli Weren’t Named Manning?

Raise your hand if you have a sibling. Keep your hand up if that sibling is in the same profession as you. Keep it up if you are one of the best at what you do, but your sibling is better.  Now, keep that hand up if your sibling is a complete drama queen.  If you are Eli Manning, right now your hand is still in the air. That upraised hand begs a question: Do you think after an entire Super Bowl week in which we’ve heard more about the Manning with the bad neck than the one who is actually playing in the game that Eli might be wondering what his life might be like if he hadn’t been named Manning?

That’s the question being asked by Andrew Sharp at SB Nation. It is a tremendous question, but without going all “It’s a Wonderful Life'” Sharp misses a bit on the answer.  To fully understand this, let’s walk through his assertion.

As the playoffs have unfolded I’ve found myself rooting for the Giants, and a number of friends keep asking, “How can you root for Eli?” On the surface, he looks like a spoiled, spastic version of his big brother, part of a royal football family that just won’t go away. But to understand what makes Eli great, you have to look past his bloodlines.

Eli Manning has always been famous because of his family. First when he was playing high school football in New Orleans, then throughout college at Ole Miss, then through the NFL Draft process, and even during the first half of his career. Every step of the way.

You’ve read this story a million times because it’s been written over and over again for 15 years. It started in 1997, when Eli was a 16-year-old quarterback at Isidore Newman in New Orleans:

“The two boys, Peyton and Eli, are as different as saucy shrimp Creole and a soothing mint julep. The whole family agrees about that. Olivia Peyton, their mother, says that Peyton was so organized at home, he bordered on compulsive. “He couldn’t relax until everything was perfect,” she said. “He’d be fluffing all the pillows on the sofa to make sure they were right.”

He may never become Peyton, but Eli is a legit quarterback.

This is the sort of backhanded praise that’s framed his entire career.

OK, there’s the premise right up front, the two brothers are different, but for some reason, Peyton is superior based only on his personality type. In his own second sentence, Sharp jumps right to Eli’s character and demeanor. The story goes for several more paragraphs until this commentary, and we have yet to get to anything remotely close about football.

It gets worse. Sharp lists a timeline of Eli v. Peyton anecdotes, and not one of them talks about performance on the field. In fact, let’s go through these dates and add some “What Ifs” of our own.

In 2001, the lead from a New York Times story on Eli at Ole Miss: “From the juke joints of the Delta to the feed stores of northern Mississippi, he is called Archie’s boy, a son of one of sports’ most famous Sons of the South. In Tuscaloosa, Ala., in Knoxville, Tenn., and in every other castle in the Southeastern Conference football kingdom, he is “Peyton’s brother.”

In 2003, from USA Today: “Like his father, Archie, and older brother, Peyton, before him, however, Mississippi quarterback Eli Manning appears to have fallen into the close-but-no-cigar family routine.”

The “It’s A Wonderful Life Moment:” It is important to remember that once Ole Miss knew they had a Manning coming in to play quarterback, it was a moment bigger than if Notre Dame found out Jesus McGod had just committed to come South Bend. The moment was so big Mississippi went out and got David Cutcliffe to be their head coach since he had been Peyton’s offensive coordinator at Tennessee.

In 2004, the day he was drafted: “It started in kindergarten. Eli Manning would join his classmates at recess, and they would already have a position picked out for him. Many of the children knew that Eli’s father, Archie, had played in the National Football League. Some knew Eli’s older brother Peyton, who was a neighborhood legend as a preteen. The decision was simple. Eli was playing quarterback again.”

In 2004, the day after he was drafted: “Can he be as good as Peyton Manning, the NFL’s co-MVP last season? … Did the Giants get another Peyton Manning or just a player with the same last name?”

The “It’s A Wonderful Life Moment:” Let’s not forget the Chargers and the Mannings have a checkered history with each other. Remember that it was Chargers who came up “snake eyes’ in 1998 on the whole Peyton vs. Ryan Leaf draft choice. Then it was Eli who made it clear he would not play for the Chargers if they used their #1 overall draft pick to select him.

In 2005, there was more backhanded praise from the New York Daily News: “Montana, Young, Aikman, Brady, Favre, Elway. … Nobody is saying Eli Manning is going to make that list. Or be an immortal. Nobody is even saying Manning is going to be his big brother. … But we have found out a lot about Eli Manning already.”

The “It’s A Wonderful Life Moment:” More proof that the name “Manning” carries serious weight in Mississippi. Eli’s footprints out of Oxford are hardly cold when head coach David Cutcliffe is essentially forced out in favor the “Cajun Mastodon” also known as Ed Orgeron.

In 2008, after Eli pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history, it was another excuse to highlight the Mannings. As the Washington Post wrote: “When the New York Giants beat the Patriots in a stunning Super Bowl upset Sunday night, they did more than merely keep New England from completing an unbeaten season … The Giants also gave a second straight Super Bowl triumph to the Manning quarterbacks, as Eli reached the pinnacle a year after his older brother, Peyton.”

The “It’s A Wonderful Life Moment:” How many people think if it hadn’t been about the “Manning” connection, this story in 2008 would have been all about “Eli Whoever cock-blocks Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of our generation.”

See, not only is Sharp ignoring the on-the-field stuff, he also ignoring that since Eli won a Super Bowl, the Manning family became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the NFL’s publicity monster.  The whole family is in on the deal; this is why there’s  a brother who shows up in photos who has never taken a snap in the NFL.  Cooper is the Manning’s equivalent of Fredo Corleone; if they were a political family he’d be Billy Carter or Roger Clinton.

Instead, Sharp inadvertently starts to paint the picture some of us have suspected for a while; that Peyton is a narcissistic, anal-retentive dickhead.

Even this week, Eli’s family still frames his success. From Newsday (subscription required):

Peyton was very much on Eli’s mind yesterday after the Giants arrived in Indianapolis for a week of preparation for Sunday’s game. He thanked him for all his support over the years. And he even brought us back into their childhood in New Orleans, when Peyton occasionally would beat up on his younger brother.

“He’d pin me down and take his knuckles and knock on my chest and make me name the 12 schools in the SEC,” Eli said. “I was 6 or 7 at the time, and I didn’t know them, so I quickly learned them. It was a great learning technique, but I don’t suggest anyone duplicate that or try that out.”

There was more.

“Once I figured those [SEC schools] out, we moved on to all 28 NFL teams, so I had to get my studying done for that,” he said. “The one I never got was naming 10 brands of cigarettes. When he really wanted to torture me and I knew I had no shot of getting it, that’s when I started screaming for my mom or dad to save me.”

None of this is surprising. The Manning family has all the mystique to football fans that Camelot does for political nerds and Vanity Fair readers. In either case we’re talking about surreal levels of fortune and success, and just enough mystery to keep everyone fascinated for years. It’s nobody’s fault that Eli’s seen as a Manning first.

Again, what happens to this all if he’s Eli Smith? There’s a ton of writers out there who might actually have to develop real story lines on this guy; the low-hanging fruit of the “Kennedys of the NFL” drops like the leaves on Martha’s Vineyard in October.  If Eli was just another gun-slinger who graduated the college ranks to a starring role on the main stage of the NFL, the stories about him would be more about football than family.

If Eli weren’t a Manning, he would have a bit of the same problem Tim Tebow has. In this “fantasy football” world the NFL has become, you can’t simply be a winning quarterback, you have to look like one.  Sharp runs his finger around the edge of this problem.

It’s impossible to look at Eli without seeing shades of his big brother, and next to his big brother, it’s impossible not to see where Eli comes up short. Peyton’s taller, stronger, more accurate, more commanding, and more consistent. Peyton personifies the word “elite”. With Eli, the first question’s always been “Is he as good as his brother?” and any objective measure says no. That alone makes it hard to take him seriously. Next to Peyton Manning’s Brad Pitt, Eli seems more like Owen Wilson.

But if Eli wasn’t named Manning, he wouldn’t have spent his whole life being compared to Peyton, and instead of looking down on his goofy style, we’d celebrate his ability to win that way. Instead of some off-brand version of his big brother, Eli would be a whole different commodity.

And he IS a whole different commodity. That’s what we’ve started to see throughout the NFL Playoffs. If he wins Sunday, we’ll have no other choice but to appreciate him apart from his brother. Next to someone like Peyton or Tom Brady or Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers, Eli’s nowhere near as perfect or consistent, but he’s every bit as deadly–the guy who can look truly horrible against the Redskins in Week 15, then turn around a month later and beat the best team in the NFL on the road.

This is the problem with framing Eli next to his brother, or even Tom Brady. It distracts us from what makes Eli Manning so much fun: He isn’t just elite, he’s unique.

There’s no doubting that Tim Tebow is unique. There’s no doubting Peyton Manning is unique. The only thing that casts a shadow on Eli’s unique nature is the fact he’s sharing a surname with another NFL quarterback. If Eli Manning weren’t constantly being compared to his older brother, he might just be a favorite son of the NFL.  After all, people love it when “regular” guys succeed; Eli is the “elite” quarterback who is actually fun to watch, and isn’t afraid to show his “regular guy” status.  He doesn’t hide his pathological obsession with pranks, his “mama’s boy complex,” or that stupid grin he always seems to have glued to his face. America loves a the “win at all costs” guy, but they also love a winner who has a certain amount of humanity; Eli would be that guy if he were Eli Smith rather than Eli Manning.

 Dubsism is a proud member of the Sports Blog Movement

The Dubsism Quarterback Douchebag Scale

Throughout life, we deal with units of measure.  To me, the most interesting are scales; where a level of intensity is assigned to an event or quality based on a quantifiable measure. The world of weather brings us the Saffir-Simpson scalefor hurricane intensity or the Fujita scale for tornadoes. Seismologists categorizes earthquakes according to the Richter scale.

However, as a sports fan I’ve noticed there is a discernable level of jerk-like behavior present in NFL quarterbacks. Moreover, once I noticed the stratification of this behavior, I discovered that it too needed a rating scale so we may better understand the levels of douchebag present in any quarterback.  It is crucial to note this rating scale is completely independent of on-the-field performance.

Click here to see the full list.

- Dubsism is a proud member of the Sports Blog Movement

Ali-Favre Syndrome Now To Be Known as Ali-Farve-Manning Syndrome

If you aren’t familiar, Ali-Favre Syndrome is a diagnosis common amongst aging athletes who lose their ability to tell when it is time to retire. Named for its two most famous examples, Muhammad Ali and Brett Favre, the name needs to be updated today with the news that Peyton Manning does not intend to retire.

Tom Condon, the agent for Peyton Manning, talked with NFL Network about the flurry of news reports we’ve seen this week regarding the current Indianapolis Colts quarterback. On Thursday, ESPN reported that Manning had received clearance to play, which Condon confirmed saying his client was “structurally sound.”

I’m no doctor, and I don’t even play one on TV, but I happen to be the proud owner of a neck, and I’m pretty sure that before I’m going to face on-rushing 300-pound defensive I want to hear something a bit more encouraging than “structurally sound.” The 35W Bridge was “structurally sound;” I would really like to hear something more along the lines of “your neck won’t snap like kindling and we won’t be wheeling you around for the next 40 years.”

Also "structurally sound."

Wait…it gets better.

He did, however, point out that Manning is still waiting on the nerves to regenerate in his arm so, while technically healthy enough to play, he’s really not game-ready. So we’re pretty much in the same place we were before the ESPN report.

Now, unless I’m mistaken, “pretty much in the same place” means “Manning hasn’t seen the field in over a year, we’re on our third surgery to fix the problem, and if the Colts’ season started today, their options behind center are Curtis Painter or Dan Orlovsky.” To me, that means the key in that whole sentence is “he’s really not game-ready.” That could mean anything from “Manning’s just a little rusty; a couple of practices and he’s good to go” to “This guy couldn’t hit water with a football if he threw it off a fucking boat.”

Pay attention to the deliberate vagueries in the following paragraph.

Condon also confirmed that Manning wants to continue playing and plans to continue playing. This comes in despite of several reports recently that retirement is an option for Manning. The Colts quarterback said similar things publicly in an interview with ESPN.

Notice how the verbs are soft; “wants to” or “plans to” instead of definites like “will continue playing” or “commits to returning.” It’s no accident the word “retirement” comes right after those soft verbs.

Now, for the kicker.

Condon said Manning and Colts owner Jim Irsay remained close, despite communicating through the media lately, but all signs continue to point toward the Colts releasing Manning sometime before his large roster bonus is due on March 8.

This is all a chess game between Irsay and Manning. The whole reason Irsay gave Manning that ridiculous contract last year was because he doesn’t want to be the guy who tells Colts Nation the Manning era is over. As it stands now, Irsay wants Manning to be that guy by simply retiring. Manning can’t bring himself to believe that for what is probably the first time in his athletic career, he is the odd man out.

The bottom line is just as simple. Even if Manning can play, and even if he ends his career in a uniform other than that of a Colt, he’s never going to be the Peyton Manning of five years ago ever again.  We’ve seen to many great athletes become sad figures by hanging on to the dream just a bit too long, and that list does not need a new addition.

- Dubsism is a proud member of the Sports Blog Movement

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