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I say the same thing every December but I think it's fitting that the regular season wraps up this time of year. Because for me, the NFL season is sort of like Christmas: Tons of anticipation and then it seems to be over before I know it.
Part of the fun in writing this column is that every week, I know I'll get to share some thoughts with folks like yourself who love football as much as I do. And that strikes me as a very good thing. I've had a blast throwing out my goofy observations this season. And I've smiled at the emails from people telling me they've thought some of the same things as they were watching the games.
As I wrap up the regular season in this week 17, I've pulled up some of the more interesting things I remember seeing during the year. It's my sincerest hope that you've enjoyed reading this column 10% as much as I enjoyed writing it. We'll do it again next season. If you've got thoughts and ideas on how this thing can be better, or just want to yell at me about my preseason David Johnson or Marcus Mariota love, feel free to shoot me a line at Bryant@footballguys.com.
Here's to Football,
FROM WEEK 1
With the NFL season kicking off Thursday night, I was feeling like this throwback picture of Jimmy Johnson. It's the same way every year.
Last year the cards fell the right way for me so I kept my Team Name in my local league: "He Don't Make The Law. He Justin Forsett".
Complete with this sweet graphic from Footballguy Adam Harstad.
It's a little long but that only means we had to get a bigger trophy...
And these are some of my Guys. And my Dog. And the Trophy. In that order.
On the Soapbox:
I love the DFS games and I love the big season-long contests. But for me, this picture IS Fantasy Football. A bunch of friends gathering in my barn with pizza and drinks and smack talk. (Plus a few on the phone and Facetime). It's the heart and soul of this industry and it'll always be at the forefront of how I think of Fantasy Football. All the other ways to play are great. But they're all in addition to this. Friends enjoying each other and enjoying football always has been what I love about Fantasy Sports. And always will be. And yeah, this is what I said last year. My guess is I'll say it next year too.
Off the Soapbox.
Good to see Frank Goodell could make it out to the game in Foxborough...
Hat Tip @darrenrovell
Much was made of the Commissioner attending the opening game in New England. Lots of towels were handed out featuring the Roger Goodell clown image made famous by Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia after the Super Bowl and the talented guys at Barstool Sports.
Friday morning after Kansas City posted 42 points, Goodell was reportedly spotted at NFL Headquarters...
Thanks to Footballguys Kyle Lebeda and Austin Lee for the help on this one.
Brady and Belichick are my two favorite guys in the league. But real is real.
The Internet had fun with this image from Monday's game.
Afterwards, Adrian Peterson cleared the air. He wasn't mad at Sean Payton. He just wanted to run the ball "up their Donkey". With a capital D. Which is so much better than the picture.
Sometimes this thing writes itself...
Things you can count on in the Fall:
Russell Wilson failing miserably to meet expectations with an awful offensive line...
FROM WEEK 2
Sometimes a tweet is so beautifully written, the best thing I can do is just get out of the way. This is one of those cases.
"Now that Alex Smith finally has some offensive weapons around him..."
Randy Moss on TV continues to be fun. Sunday Countdown ran a feature covering New England fans who left the Super Bowl game early. The guys on the ESPN set were asked to raise their hand if they'd ever left a game before it was over.
Randy Moss said, "I PLAYED in one and left early!"
The Kelce Brothers were fun Sunday.
Thanks to Footballguy Brian Sumner for that one.
I love Jay Cutler for lots of reasons. Mostly he makes my job writing Random Shots roughly 15% easier each week.
But almost equally as fun, he possesses the ability to make people lose their mind. He threw the ball out of bounds at the end of the half Sunday and the internet reacted exactly as you'd expect.
Cutler was asked Monday what he thought about it. He too, responded exactly as you'd expect.
FROM WEEK 3
Carson Palmer ready to do work.
If I'm Bruce Arians, I'm thinking about pulling Palmer out of these Bucket Challenge contests. Guy doesn't need any more shots to his confidence.
Beware Sumo Kirk Cousins.
Baseball Note: Cubs infielder Addison Russell dove for a ball in the stands in St. Louis and knocked over a Cardinal's fan's nachos.
Russell then made things right.
It wasn't enough the Lions lost. The food in the locker room was on fire.
This woman wins the "Cool Under Stress" award for the week. She opens the door and a ball of fire falls out and she doesn't flinch. If that wasn't enough, she tried to blow out the fire like a candle.
Dez Bryant scored on this play.
I'm not sure if it says more about Bryant or the Cardinals defense but it's remarkable either way.
FROM WEEK 4
You can't stop Tony Romo. You can only hope to contain him.
Short yardage specialist LeGarrette Blount rushed for 136 yards on 16 carries including a 68-yarder in the fourth quarter.
Of course, he did.
And Bill Belichick's Defense is terrible.
And the Rams are good.
Thank goodness we have Jay Cutler to give us some sense of normalcy.
To be fair though, Cutler did try to retire...
If you google "Football Coach Voice", John Fox comes up.
Interestingly, you get the same result googling "3 pack a day Marlboro guy voice"...
FROM WEEK 5
The league changed things up a bit this October switching from Breast Cancer awareness to include awareness and screening for other types of cancer.
But you know I'm breaking out the Chris Berman Breast Awareness clip.
Because I'm twelve. But if you're a regular reader, you knew that already. If you're not a regular reader, this is pretty much what you can expect here. You've been warned.
Big news this week as Adrian Peterson went from being a Saint to a Cardinal. I'm not Catholic but isn't that backward?
Oh, those tricky Cowboys...
This wasn't a huge deal as the sideline marker isn't an official measurement.
It's not like the Cowboys would ever try to move the ball or anything like that...
Me after T.O.'s tweet...
Jon Gruden Monday night: "Man I love coaching!"
A live look in on Butch Jones...
The Adrian Peterson trade sent ripples through the league.
Thanks to Footballguy David Dodds for that one.
Sadly, the 2009 hopes were dashed minutes later as the Cardinals cut Chris Johnson.
Giving us the Awkward Tweet Of The Month from September...
Johnson was cool Tuesday though.
Rock on, CJ2K
FROM WEEK 6
Baseball Note. I'm with ForTheWin, Cubs manager Joe Maddon showed up at his press conference dressed like the "most obvious narc at the biker rally."
I miss Al Davis.
The Hair. The Glasses. The Track Suits.
But mostly the swagger and the mystique.
“We were hanging out after a game, loading the car up, and this black Lincoln Town Car comes up, the window goes down, boom. He goes [in a distinctly Al Davis Brooklyn accent], ‘Hey McCown, come here.’ It's like a scene out of Goodfellas. My heart is beating fast and he says, "The second quarter, you threw the ball in the flat. You had [wide receiver John] Madsen on the corner. Why didn't you throw the corner?’ I'm stumbling through the answer, I'm following my reads and doing what I'm supposed to do, I didn't want to sell out the coaches. I kind of fumbled through the answer and I get done talking and he nods his head and goes, ‘It's the Raidahs, throw the ball dahnfield.’ And brrrrrrp the window goes up and he pulls off. It was a great experience."
FROM WEEK 7
Belichick Fist Pumps are rare. Belichick Bro Hugs are extinct.
That's pretty funny.
Drew Stanton lost the Cardinals QB Challenge game this week. Things got worse from here...
I think those "odds to win at this point" calculations during the game are kind of funny. "Trailing by a touchdown with 2:34 left in the 3rd quarter, San Diego's chances of a win were 28.84756%."
But if they did a similar calculation frame by frame of the Kenny Stills catch, I'd have to think at this moment, the odds of a completion were pretty slim.
But you already know how this one ended...
Jalen Ramsey's cleat game is strong.
There are lots of upsides for playing in Green Bay. Great fans, Tradition, Bratwursts and more.
There are legit downsides though...
There's a reason quarterbacks love tall and strong wide receivers.
It looks like this:
The many faces of Bill Belichick.
FROM WEEK 8
My favorite Halloween tweet. Like most good jokes, it's funny because it's true.
Vikings WR Adam Thielen made some friends in London with this Soccer celebration.
For the first time in a long time, Joe Thomas stayed home and watched his team play without him Sunday.
It went about as you'd expect from him.
Bill Belichick doing Bill Belichick things.
A reporter asked him if his team preferred a lower scoring game.
Belichick replied, "We prefer to win."
Bill Belichick might be the single best thing about the NFL right now. Don't miss it.
I love these World Series baseballs.
Washington coach Jay Gruden said this week if he had to guess, TE Jordan Reed would not play this week due to injury.
That feels like a pretty safe guess every week.
Russell Wilson easily with the best impersonation for Halloween this year. Doing his "young, charming, darker skinned, gum chewing" Pete Carroll for kids at the hospital.
FROM WEEK 9
This week could be the week Roger Goodell finally "wins" against Ezekiel Elliott. But we've been saying that for months now. So far, it's been mostly this...
Hat Tip to NFL Memes
If Jameis Winston wants to do this before the game...
He needs to be ready for this after the game...
It wasn't hard to tell what DeSean Jackson was thinking...
If you, like me, thought Julio Jones' hand didn't look right as he dropped the sure TD Sunday...
It's because you're a Happy Gilmore fan.
Good old Chubbs...
I should probably end this thing right there...
Everyone knows Sanders made his living covering receivers, not tackling them. Sanders himself has made light of this fact over the years. Somehow with Romo though, Sanders had his feelings hurt.
Note for Deion from Sergeant Hulka, Michael Irvin and anyone who ever watched Sanders play:
Here's a recap of the Denver game from Sunday.
The Random Shots Player of The Week (that should be a thing, right?) was easily Oakland offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse. Who found himself where all offensive linemen want to be - carrying the football. At least for a moment.
Like most things, it's even better boomeranged.
To his immense credit, Newhouse completely owned the internet uproar that followed with the perfect tweet:
You Go, Marshall Newhouse.
FROM WEEK 10
Ready for exactly what might be a good "Caption This" contest question...
Bills head coach Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane scored major points with Bills Mafia Sunday surprising them in the parking lot.
Let's hope they were long gone by the time this happened...
How does someone not die there every game?
I'm with the guys at Barstool. Seems like opening a store selling nothing but plastic tables would be a gold mine in Buffalo.
Cam Newton is far from perfect. But this is why his guys love him. This is important and a sweet lesson in human nature and recognizing the people on your team that make your job possible.
New Bills receiver Kelvin Benjamin took a play straight from the Deshaun Watson public relations playbook rocking a Thurman Thomas throwback before Sunday's game.
Watson from a few weeks ago:
Wal Mart with next level Falcons Trolling...
Thanks to Footballguy Clayton Gray for that one.
NBA Note. I know they only won by three but no need to let facts get in the way of a great video.
FROM WEEK 11
If you've read Random Shots in years past, you know I love the "Aaron Rodgers looks like John Krasinski from the Office" thing.
Now we see even Krasinski agrees.
NBC rolled out the Madden Cam Thursday night as the primary viewing angle.
I loved it.
You know you didn't?
And your Dad...
Matrix = Aligned.
Thanks to Footballguy Brian Sumner for that one.
James Harden keeping it real...
Everyone was excited about Danny Woodhead's return this week.
Unfortunately, Woodhead's "Hype to Actual Performance On The Field" ratio this week was in the Marshawn Lynch range.
The Raiders should totally go with this Estadio Azteca decor for their new stadium in Las Vegas.
Sometimes a caption says it all. This is one of those times. Well done, Big Cat.
Question: On a scale of 1 to 10, how "Atlanta" was the MARTA bus blocking the Weather Channel's view of the Georgia Dome implosion?
Answer: Waffle House.
It's also why the Weather Channel does weather.
The clear view was pretty crazy.
While everyone was making Super Bowl jokes, I kept thinking "Are they sure nobody is in there?"
FROM WEEK 12
Chris Myers: "He's burping the baby. I love these celebrations".
Note to self: Don't let Chris Myers babysit my kids...
Looks like some Bears fans are Random Shots readers...
In the Titans Huddle:
Delanie Walker: "Marcus, they've got four guys on me."
Marcus Mariota: "Run your route. I got this".
Thanks to Footballguy Brian Jensen for that one.
My takeaway from the Talib - Crabtree fight: You don't realize how good professional fighters are until you see non-professional fighters try to fight.
Later in the game, we got this from the TV Graphics Stat Guy. Savage.
FROM WEEK 13
Just one of the many ways in which you're not like an NFL wide receiver...
Marcus Peters was having none of this penalty. The official was unfazed using his hat for a flag after Peters threw the real flag into the stands.
Peters went straight to the locker room on his own thinking he'd been ejected. He apparently had started undressing by the time Kansas City staff told him to come back on the field. Which he did. Without socks.
The best part may have been these joyful Jets fans. "Joyful Jets fans" are not three words I string together often.
HT - Deadspin.
Thanks to Footballguy Keith Overton for the help on that one.
What if I told you?... Le'Veon Bell scored on this play.
Apparently, several Bengal players had Bell on their fantasy team...
Thanks to Footballguy David Dodds for that one.
If Tom Brady played hockey...
Tom Brokaw posted this Sunday.
I'm with our friend Doug Farrar.
Apparently, the Mara family was too...
The internet rightly had fun with the Jimbo Fisher Emperor's welcome to Texas A&M.
Welcome to Texas.
Live from East Rutherford...
FROM WEEK 14
I've written here how much I respect the Patriots preparation and game readiness.
At least Bill Belichick saved the day in the post-game presser.
One of the draws for College Football is the long-standing rivalries and traditions and pageantry. Few games have more of this than Army - Navy. They opened things Saturday with a combined choral rendition of the National Anthem. Sweet.
We talked last week about Rex Ryan and his honest take on Geno Smith.
And how Smith took exception to Ryan's opinion:
"I did see one of my ex-coaches say he didn't want me to be his quarterback. That really upset me," Smith told reporters in Oakland. "I saved his job in 2013. We fought our ass off for him both years. For him to say that shows how much of a coward he is."
Then I said if not wanting Geno Smith as your QB makes one a coward, here's a look at most NFL fans...
You knew Rex Ryan wasn't going to let the "coward" shot go.
And you were right.
God Bless Bills Fans.
The game was nuts though.
Baseball News. The Yankees made headlines obtaining slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
Boston responded with changes to Fenway Park.
That's pretty funny.
Cam Newton is nasty.
He also might have a career in Soccer if this NFL thing runs out.
He's got a ways to go though...
When defensive backs have nightmares, they look like this...
FROM WEEK 15
(Joe Note - don't get me started on the Steelers cutting him...)
As the Steelers took the field, Harrison led the team with an emotional "We Ride For 5-0".
That's about as close to a movie as real life gets.
On a side note, the Steelers Sunday night helped me clarify why I hated the Oklahoma "tribute" for "fallen" QB Baker Mayfield last month. The OU players solemnly carried his jersey to midfield for the coin toss while a sniffling Mayfield stood on the sidelines suffering the punishment of missing a series.
Cleveland's Hue Jackson has never won a game on Sunday as the Browns coach. Or Thursday. Or Monday. His one Browns win was last year on Saturday, December 24.
God Bless you Browns fans.
Thanks to Footballguy and faithful Browns fan Devin Knotts for that one.
My Sunday Morning:
Internet: "It's snowing in Buffalo! LeSean McCoy won't do anything today!"
Me: "You people freak out and overreact to weather".
Internet: "OMG! Look at that snow!!!"
Me: "OK. You're right. This is a blizzard and that's different than just snow. McCoy's in trouble."
Me two hours later: "You people freak out and overreact to weather".
Consistency is a challenge. I struggle with it too.
Interesting example this week from ESPN and College Football.
To be fair, after being called out for this, Herbstreit apologized. But it's a good example of how it's easy to get off track. If you guys see me doing this, don't hesitate to let me know.
Thanks to @rogerbadell1 for the images.
We all saw the Michael Bennett thing Sunday.
I did love seeing rookie running back Leonard Fournette defending his lineman.
Then, of course, the ugliness afterward with the idiocy of fans throwing things at Seattle's Quinton Jefferson who then tried to climb into the stands.
Jefferson said later per USAToday, "I'm not going to let somebody disrespect me, throw a beer on me," Jefferson said. "Just because I'm playing football, I'm still a human being. I'm still a man."
Cleveland's Joe Thomas was having none of it.
Michael Bennett was asked about the cheap shot.
Revenge is sweet as Jaguars fans enjoyed the last laugh.
This quote from Michael Bennett from the spring was shared a zillion times this week.
Bennett in March of this year, talking about the rule change to limit players from diving over the line to block extra points:
"Most of the NFL games are decided by one point, unless you’re playing the Jaguars or something, then it’s decided by 50. So it’s one of those things. The one point, blocking that, it makes a big difference."
Wrapping with this classy move from Eli Manning from Week 12. The Giants decided to bench Manning in order to see what they have in Geno Smith and Davis Webb. Most people know what they have in Geno Smith and Davis Webb but that's another story.
Manning, as you probably know, had a 210 game streak of consecutive starts.
Manning was given the option to preserve the streak and start and then turn the game over to Smith.
“Coach McAdoo told me I could continue to start while Geno and Davis are given an opportunity to play,” Manning said. “My feeling is that if you are going to play the other guys, play them. Starting just to keep the streak going and knowing you won’t finish the game and have a chance to win it is pointless to me, and it tarnishes the streak. Like I always have, I will be ready to play if and when I am needed. I will help Geno and Davis prepare to play as well as they possibly can.”
Eli Manning is no comparison to Ted Williams but this made me think of one of my favorite sports stories. And one I tell here often.
History lesson time. Heading into the last day, a doubleheader, of the 1941 season, 23-year-old Ted Williams' batting average was .39955. He could have sat out the meaningless last two games of the last day and his average would have rounded to the hallowed .400 mark.
From the sabr.org article: "In his autobiography, My Turn At Bat, Williams recalls Joe Cronin telling him, 'You don’t have to be put in if you don’t want to. You’re officially .400.' Ted reports his reaction: 'Well, God, that hit me like a ***damn lightning bolt! What do you mean I don’t have to play today?'"
But you probably know the story. Williams put his .400 mark at risk and played. Both games. And went 6 for 8 finishing the year at .406.
How that applies to you and me is simple. I feel pretty safe in saying we're not going to hit .400 in the majors. But we all get to walk to the plate every day and take some swings. Take yours.
That'll do it for 2017.
I want to thank all the folks who sent me funny things they saw this year. You guys rock and you make my job easier. And thanks to all of you for the kind words throughout the season - you guys humble me. Sincerely.
I realize I've often strayed from sports and climbed on the soapbox maybe a bit more than I should. I intentionally left most of those off this collection as most of the rants were more a context thing. But not to be too dramatic about it, I felt like we sort of went through the 2017 season together. There were tough moments. And plenty of light moments. It wasn't all fun, but I think I can say it's been good to be together.
I'm completely down with Ram Dass who said: "In the end, we're all just walking each other home at night." Thanks for walking with me.
Peace and Grace to you.