Thoughts around the NFL and the Cleveland Browns:
1. In all likelihood, USC QB Caleb Williams will be the first overall pick in next year’s NFL draft if he declares for the draft. Quarterback-needy teams will have conversations about trading up to get him. But put a pin in that for a second. Per Pro Football Talk, Williams’ representatives are stating that whichever club drafts him will have to give up a small percentage of ownership stock.
Wait, what? If I draft you, give you millions, instant fame, place you on football cards, and make you more famous than you already are, I have to be in partnership with you? And give - yes give - you part of my multi-billion with a “B” business? Ain’t gonna happen. The only way that would fly is for the owners to discuss and vote on it. Won’t even be brought up or seconded for a vote.
Guess where he got that idea from? Aaron Rodgers. The talented veteran attempted to get equity ownership with whichever team traded for him, but the league said no from the beginning. And that, was that.
2. The Cleveland Browns defense continues to impress. Everyone in the league knows that this group is for real. Would like to see more Myles Garrett sacks because I feel with the lack of huge numbers in this category that his bid to earn the Defensive Player of the Year distinction will not fly. He is known as a pass rusher, and the voters expect to see mongo numbers for sacks, QB hits, and pressures.
3. Did you see where Terrell Owens got run over by a vehicle this past weekend? Seems he was playing in a pickup basketball game on some asphalt court in the Calabasas area of Los Angeles, California, and then got into an altercation with another player during their game. After it was over, the other player got into his car, sped toward T.O., and clipped him. He didn’t suffer any injuries and did not seek medical attention. No arrest has been made, but dude, isn’t the make/model and tag number of the perpetrator on like everyone’s phone? Maybe we can catch in on an episode of “COPS” soon.
4. Flag football and four other sports have been added to the lineup with the 2028 Olympics, and the NFL is ecstatic about it. The league now has four years to promote this version of the game which will eventually have an international stage, which is something the NFL has wanted to do for the past three decades. Both men’s and women’s teams will compete although the details are still being worked on. Like all other team sports, there will be a four-year process to weed teams down to just eight teams in each gender.
Will the NFL follow suit and allow their players to compete like the NBA and their Dream Teams? You remember the Pro Bowl this past season played their game using flags as the players appeared to have a great time without the worry about getting hurt. Hard to imagine paying guys all that money just to have them blow out a knee chasing a shiny thingy that hangs around the neck.
5. The NFL trade deadline is drawing near on All Hallows’ Eve. The Denver Broncos should be involved heavily as they dump some of their most expensive players and ones that new head coach Sean Payton does not see in their near future. Last year 12 players were moved among all clubs which by NFL standards is quite a lot and the most in 30 years. CB Pat Surtain and OT Garret Bolles are the two names most likely to move by Denver. The Browns could certainly use Bolles and then place LT Jedrick Wills on notice although he had a good outing against the 49ers.
Surtain is a good talent, but so is Cleveland’s defensive backfield so where would he fit? Besides, his price scope should be in the second plus a third-round pick range. The worst player to trade for Denver might be WR Jerry Jeudy. They will need his speed going forward. The New York Football Giants may also be sellers. Will the Minnesota Vikings move QB Kirk Cousins? The New York Jets would become their most likely trade partner, but how do you bring in a seasoned veteran and know he will only be needed for this season before Rodgers returns? If the J-E-T-S are desperate to cash in this season, then I can see it. Would certainly be an upgrade to QB Zach Wilson and just maybe NY can force their way back into the playoff picture. The biggest trade explosion would be if the Dallas Cowboys were to somehow wrangle RB Derrick Henry away from the Tennessee Titans. The Steelers would like to move CB Desmond King.
6. If the season ended today, the Browns would claim the Number 7 seed. No! This is not staying up late and drinking. It is an actual fact. Good things happen when you defeat one of the league’s best clubs. The NFL has begun posting playoff seeding on their own site which has Chiefs, Dolphins, Ravens, and Jaguars all winning their respective divisions. Then the Bills take the #5 seed followed by the Steelers at #6 with Cleveland closing out the final slot. Not difficult to see three AFC North teams in this bracket, but surprised to see Cincinnati omitted at this point. They seem to be a late start and will surely rebound as they get their running game going.
7. Former Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown is back in the news. Seems he was arrested this past weekend for failing to pay $30,940.41 in child support. He was released on a $15,000 bond. Florida does not mess around with child support. If the non-custodial parent is $400 in arrears, the State will suspend their driver’s license which then becomes a whole new set of problems. But $31G in the hole? G for Geez…Brown currently lives in Hollywood, Florida just north of Miami. He lives in a mansion that he paid $6.6 million and is 18,000 square feet. His car collection contains a custom Rolls Royce, Mercedes G550, Ferrari F12, a GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Caprice, and a McLaren 650S Spider. In the past, he has been banned from Snapchat, got into legal trouble for not paying jewelry bills, accused of domestic violence, plus threats made to members of the indoor pro football team he owns. His arrest was in his front yard. Seems Brown now considers himself a rapper who books events and does his new thing for money.
8. I believe the Browns’ remaining schedule plays well for them to make the playoffs. The first five games were their most difficult to deal with, and suddenly they are sitting at 3-2-0. They just need to win the games they are supposed to win. Colts, Cards, Steelers, Broncos, Bears, Texans, and Jets seem favorable to me with the Seahawks, Ravens, Bengals, Jaguars, and Rams as their toughest remaining opponents. Not that they can sleep on a team like the Texans who have won just as many games (3) as they did all season last year. Just ask the 49ers what it is like to look beyond an assumed weak team. Not sure if a 10-win season in the AFC will get any club a playoff berth though.
9. Wonder what the offensive line will look like for the Browns going forward? First Jack Conklin gone for the year, then Joel Bitonio got hurt, and now backup Michael Dunn is on IR. Rookie OT Dawand Jones has played admirably in Conklin’s stead, but Dunn was not the answer in place of a Pro Bowler. Seems Bits underwent arthroscopic surgery to his knee during the bye week. Before missing the Niners game, he had started 102-straight regular season games. Dunn now has a calf injury and will be gone for four weeks as he lands on IR. Seems he became injured during the San Fran game but never came out. Talk about toughness. Bits is scheduled to return against the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday. As far as backups go, both rookie C Luke Wypler, OT James Hudson, and C Nick Harris have played guard. The question remains, which one will be penciled in as the backup? Harris would appear to have the inside edge. That does leave an open roster spot which should be filled by QB P.J. Walker instead of bringing up another O-Line body off the practice squad. The most obvious from this group would have to be former first-round pick OT Alex Leatherwood.
10. Here are a few oddball happenings around the league:
- The Philadelphia Eagles just signed WR Julio Jones to their practice squad who has seven Pro Bowls.
- Folks are now questioning whether QB Brock Purdy is really on that pedestal or is actually human after Cleveland took him down with low stats.
- The league may eliminate the “hip-drop” tackle because it is becoming an injury action.
If you don’t know what this is, because defenders can’t really tackle anymore, especially with the head, the defender will jump on his man wrap his legs around him then swing his weight, and fall on the side of their leg. For a smaller defender, it works well. The league states the injury factor is 25 greater than a standard tackle. There is no standard tackle as the defense keeps getting more and more taken away from them. One day I expect to see the NFL adopt a rule that the offense will remain with 11 players while the defense can only use 10. That should continue those 44-40 games. This type of tackle was invented in 2002 by the Melbourne Storm rugby team, members of the National Rugby League, and has since been banned. It was conceived in order to eliminate leading with the head which is where the NFL is today.
- There is already talk of Bill Belichick retiring after this season. I don’t see him leaving with a bad team and a losing record although most of the greats rarely go out on top. In Paul Brown’s last four years, Cleveland did not make the playoffs. Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft is not going to fire Belichick no matter what the record is, but I am certain the two will pow-wow if it happens next season and work out a “this is my last year coaching” scenario.
- Seems RB Leonard Fournette has been contacted by several clubs but so far hasn’t had any visits or tryouts while RB James Robinson was signed to the Packers practice squad.
- The Browns’ victory over San Fran is being labeled a “statement win.” We will take it.
- And finally, the NFL is talking about having a Super Bowl in London. Say it ain’t so.
The game is already expensive for any team’s regular fan, but that would amplify the costs for just one weekend. Hotels have a policy of jacking up their room rates for gamedays to triple the costs. Then add an expensive plane ticket that can’t be bought months in advance when the rates are cheaper. Seeing the sights or grabbing a dish of bangers and mash just jumped way up as well. The average Super Bowl game ticket last year was $6,800 so if you wanted to take your spouse great googly moogly. Got 20 Grand you don’t know what to do with?